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Mankind in the Making by H. G. Wells

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and of teaching, to recognize that whatever imports fresh and valid
ideas, fresh and valid aspects--not simply of chemical and physical
matters, but of aesthetic, social, and political matters, partakes of
the honour and claims of research--and that whatever conveys ideas and
aspects vividly and clearly and invigoratingly, not simply by word of
mouth but by book or picture or article, is teaching. The publication
of books, the whole business of bringing the contemporary book most
efficiently home to the general reader, the business of contemporary
criticism, the encouragement and support of contemporary writers, _is
just as vitally important in the modern state as the organisation of
Colleges and Schools_, and just as little to be left to the
enterprise of isolated individuals working primarily upon commercial
lines for gain.

There are two aspects of this question. There is the simpler one of
getting an abundance of good books, classical and contemporary, and of
good publications distributed everywhere through the English-speaking
world, and there is the more subtle and complex problem of getting,
stimulating, and sustaining the original writers and the original
critics and investigators upon whom the general development of
contemporary thought, upon whom indeed the progress of the world
finally depends. The latter problem may be reserved for the next paper,
and here we will deal simply with the question of access and

For the present we must assume the quality of the books; all that sort
of question must be deferred for our final discussion. We will simply
speak of good books, serious books, on the one hand, and of light and
merely amusing books on the other, in an intentionally vague way. The
former sort of books is our present concern; pleasure as an end,
pleasure except as necessary recuperation, is no affair for the state.

Books are either bought or borrowed for reading, and we have to
consider what can be done to secure the utmost efficiency in the
announcement, lending and selling of books. We have also to consider
the best possible means of distributing periodicals. We have
particularly to consider how books specifically "good," or "thorough,"
or "serious," and periodicals that are "sound" and "stimulating" are to
be made as widely and invitingly accessible as possible. The machinery
we have in hand are the booksellers and the newsvendors, the
circulating libraries, the post-office, and the free public libraries
that are now being energetically spread throughout the land [by men
who, in this aspect, answer very closely to the conception of New
Republicans as it is here unfolded], and to bring and keep all this
machinery to the very highest level of efficiency is integral to the
New Republican scheme of activity.

It may be objected that the organization of bookselling and publishing
is the discussion of trivial details in the intellectual life of a
people, but indeed that is not so. It is a constant trouble, a
perpetual drain upon the time and energy of every man who participates
in that life, to get the books that are necessary to the development of
his thoughts. The high price of books, burthensome as it is, is the
lesser evil, the great trouble is the trouble of access. There are a
great number of people now who read nothing at all, or only promiscuous
fiction, who would certainly become real readers were books of any
other sort attractively available. These things are not trivial. The
question of book distribution is as vitally important to the
intellectual health of a modern people as are open windows in cases of
phthisis. No nation can live under modern conditions unless its whole
population is mentally aerated with books.

That allusion to the predominance of fiction brings one round to the
question of the Public Library. One is constantly reading attacks on
these new and most promising institutions, and always these attacks
base themselves on the fact that the number of novels taken out was so
many times, so many hundred times greater than the number of "serious
books." Follows nonsense about "scrappy" reading, shallowness of the
public mind, and so forth. In Great Britain public pomposities take up
the strain and deliver large vague, foolish discourses on our
intellectual decline. It occurs to none of these people--nothing,
indeed, ever does seem to occur to this sort of people--to inquire if a
man or woman _can_ get serious reading from a public library. An
inspection of a Public Library Catalogue reveals, no doubt, a certain
proportion of "serious" books available, but, as a rule, that "serious
side" is a quite higgledy-piggledy heap of fragments. Suppose, for
example, an intelligent mechanic has a proclivity for economic
questions, he will find no book whatever to guide him to what
literature there may be upon those questions. He will plunge into the
catalogue, and discover perhaps a few publications of the Cobden Club,
Henry George's _Progress and Poverty_, J. S. Mill's
_Autobiography_, Ruskin's _Unto This Last, The Statesman's Year
Book for 1895_, and a text-book specially adapted to such and such
an examination by the tutors of some Correspondence College. What can
you expect from such a supply but a pitiful mental hash? What is the
most intelligent of mechanics likely to secure for himself from this
bran pie? Serious subjects are not to be read in this wild disorderly
way. But fiction can be. A novel is fairly complete in itself, and in
sticking to novels, the Public Library readers show, I submit, a better
literary sense and a finer intellectual feeling than the muddle-headed,
review-inspired, pretentious people who blame them.

But manifestly the Public Libraries ought to be equipped for serious
reading. Too many of them are covers without meat, or, at least, with
nothing to satisfy a respectable mind hunger. And the obvious direct
method to equip them is to organize an Association, to work, if
possible, with the Librarians, and get this "serious" side of the
Libraries, this vitally important side, into better order. A few men
with a little money to spend could do what is wanted for the whole
English-speaking world. The first business of such an Association would
be to get "Guides" to various fields of human interest written, guides
that should be clear, explicit Bibliographies, putting all the various
writers into their relationships one to another, advising what books
should be first taken by the beginner in the field, indicating their
trend, pointing out the less technical ones and those written
obscurely. Differential type might stamp the more or less important
works. These Guides ought to go to every Public Library, and I think
also that all sorts of people would be eager to buy them if they were
known to be comprehensive, intelligent, and inclusive. They might even
"pay." Then I would suggest this Association should make up lists of
books to present an outline course or a full course corresponding to
each Guide. Where books were already published in a cheap edition, the
Association would merely negotiate with the publisher for the special
supply of a few thousand copies of each. Where books were modern and
dear the Association would negotiate with publisher and author, for the
printing of a special Public Library Edition. They would then
distribute these sets of books either freely or at special rates, three
or four sets or more to each Library. In many cases the Association
would probably find it preferable to print its editions afresh, with
specially written introductions, defining the relationship of each book
to the general literature of the subject. [Footnote: In America Mr.
George Iles is already organizing the general appraisement of books for
the public library reader in a most promising manner. _The
Bibliography of the Literature of American History_, with an
appraisal of each book, which has appeared under his direction, is
edited by Mr. Larned, and is a most efficient performance; it is to be
kept up to date by Mr. P. P. Wells, librarian of the Yale Law School.
It includes an appendix by Professor Channing, of Harvard, which is on
the lines of the "Guides" I suggest, though scarcely so full as I
should like them. This appendix is reprinted separately for five cents,
and it is almost all English public librarians and libraries need so
far as American history goes. The English Fabian Society, I may note,
publishes a sixpenny bibliography of social and economic science, but
it is a mere list for local librarians, and of little use to the
uninitiated reader.]

Such an Association in the present state of publishing would become--in
Great Britain, at any rate--quite inevitably a Publishing Association.
A succession of vigorous, well-endowed Voluntary Publishing
Associations is a quite vital necessity in the modern state. A
succession is needed because each age has its unexpected new needs and
new methods, and it would not be a bad idea to endow such associations
with a winding-up clause that would plump them, stock, unspent capital,
and everything except perhaps a pension fund for the older employés,
into the funds of some great Public Library at the end of thirty or
forty years. Several such Associations have played, or are still
playing a useful part in British affairs, but most of them have lost
the elasticity of youth. Lord Brougham's Society for the Diffusion of
Useful Knowledge was one of the earliest, and we have today, for
example, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, the
Catholic Truth Society, the Rationalist Press Association, and the
Fabian Society. There is a real need to-day for one--indeed there is
room for several--Publishing Associations that would set themselves to
put bright modern lights into these too often empty lanterns, the
Public Libraries. So lit, Great Britain and America would have in them
an instrument of public education unparalleled in the world, infinitely
better adapted to the individualistic idiosyncracy of our peoples than
any imitation of German colleges can possibly be. Propaganda of all
sorts could be diverted to this purpose. Persons of imperialistic
tendencies might well consider the advisability of Guides to good
geographical and historical reading and sets of travel books, and of
geographical and historical works. Americanisers might consider the
possibility of sets that would help the common British to a clearer
idea of America, and Americans to a realization that the British
Islands are something more than three obscure patches of land entirely
covered by a haughty peerage and a slightly absurd but historically
interesting Crown. . . . Indeed, whatever you want thought or believed,
I would say, _give books!_

But the good New Republican would have a wider scope for his Publishing
Association than to subdue it to this specific doctrine or that. It is
not the opinion makes the man; it is not the conclusion makes the book.
We live not in the truth, but in the promise of the truth. Sound
thinking, clearly and honestly set forth, that is the sole and simple
food of human greatness, the real substance and the real wealth of
nations; the key that will at last unlock the door to all we can dream
of or desire.



These speculations upon the possibilities and means of raising the
average human result have brought us at last to the problem of
increasing the amount of original intellectual activity in the state,
as a culminating necessity. That average child who threads our
speculations has been bred and fed, we now suppose, educated in school
and college, put under stimulating political and social conditions and
brought within reach and under the influence of the available
literature of the time, and he is now emerging into adult
responsibility. His individual thought and purpose has to swim in and
become part of the general thought and purpose of the community. If
that general flow of thought is meagre, his individual life will
partake of its limitations. As the general thought rises out of its
pools and narrow channels towards a wide flood, so each individual
becomes more capable of free movements and spacious co-operations
towards the general end. We have bred our citizen and trained him only
to waste all his energy at last; he is no better than the water in an
isolated dry-season pool in the bed of a tropical river, unless he can
mingle in the end with the general sea of thought and action.

Thought is the life, the spontaneous flexibility of a community. A
community that thinks freely and fully throughout its population is
capable of a thousand things that are impossible in an unthinking mass
of people. The latter, collectively considered, is a large rigid thing,
a lifeless thing, that will break rather than bend, that will die
rather than develop. Its inevitable end is dust and extinction. Look at
the thing from the baser level of political conceptions, and still that
floating tide of thought is a necessity. With thought and gathered
knowledge things that mean tumult, bloodshed, undying hatreds, schisms
and final disaster to uncivilized races, are accomplished in peace;
constitutional changes, economic reorganizations, boundary
modifications and a hundred grave matters. Thought is the solvent that
will make a road for men through Alpine difficulties that seem now
unconquerable, that will dissolve those gigantic rocks of custom and
tradition that loom so forbiddingly athwart all our further plans. For
three thousand years and more the Book has been becoming more and more
the evident salvation of man. If our present civilization collapse, it
will collapse as all previous civilizations have collapsed, not from
want of will but from the want of organization for its will, for the
want of that knowledge, that conviction, and that general understanding
that would have kept pace with the continually more complicated
problems that arose about it. [Footnote: Dr. Beattie Crozier, in his
most interesting and suggestive _History of Intellectual Development,
terms the literary apparatus that holds a people together to a common
purpose, the "Bible" of that people, and suggests that the "Bible" of a
modern people should be the History of Civilization. His work expresses
by very different phrases and methods a line of thought closely akin to
the thesis of this paper.]

One writes "our present civilization" and of previous civilizations,
but indeed no civilizations have yet really come into existence. Tribes
have aggregated into nations, nations have aggregated into empires, and
then, after a struggle, has come a great confusion of thought, a
failure to clarify a common purpose, and disintegration. Each
successive birth has developed a more abundant body of thought, a more
copious literature than the last, each has profited by the legacy of
the previous failure, but none have yet developed enough. Mankind has
been struggling to win this step of a permanent civilized state, and
has never yet attained any sort of permanency--unless perhaps in China.
And that sole imperfect permanency was based primarily upon a
literature. A literature is the triumphant instrument of the invincible
culture of the Jews. Through the whole volume of history the thoughtful
reader cannot but exclaim, again and again, "But if they had only
understood one another, all this bloodshed, all this crash, disaster,
and waste of generations could have been avoided!" Our time has come,
and we of the European races are making our struggle in our turn.
Slavery still fights a guerilla war in factory and farm, cruelty and
violence peep from every slum, barbaric habits, rude barbaric ways of
thinking, grossness and stupidity are still all about us. And yet in
many ways we seem to have got nearer to the hope of permanent
beginnings than any of those previous essays in civilization.
Collectively we know a great deal more, and more of us are in touch
with the general body of knowledge than was ever the case at any
earlier stage. Assuredly we know enough to hope that we have passed the
last of the Dark Ages. But though we hope, we deal with no certainties,
and it is upon the broadening and increase of the flow of ideas that
our hope depends.

At present this stream of thought and common understanding is not
nearly so wide and deep as it might conceivably become, as it must
become if indeed this present civilization is to be more than another
false start. Our society [Footnote: _Anticipations_, Chapter III.
Developing Social Elements.] has ceased to be homogeneous, and it has
become a heterogeneous confusion without any secure common grounds of
action, under the stress of its own material achievements. For the lack
of a sufficient literature we specialize into inco-ordinated classes. A
number of new social types are developing, ignorant of each other,
ignorant almost of themselves, full of mutual suspicions and mutual
misunderstandings, narrow, limited, and dangerously incapable of
intelligent collective action in the face of crises. The medical man
sees nothing beyond his profession; he misunderstands the artist, the
divine, and the engineer. The engineer hates and despises the
politician, the lawyer misses the aims of the medical man, the artist
lives angrily in a stuffy little corner of pure technique; none of them
read any general literature at all except perhaps a newspaper. Each
thinks parochially in his own limits, and, except for his specialty, is
an illiterate man. It is absolutely necessary to the progress of our
civilization that these isolations should be overcome, that the
community should become aware of itself collectively and should think
as a whole. And the only thing that can overcome these isolations and
put the mass of intelligent men upon a common basis of understanding,
is an abundant and almost universally influential contemporary

We have already discussed the possibility of developing the innervation
of the state, the distribution of books, the stimulation and direction
of reading, and all the peripheral aspects of literature, and we come
now to the difficult and intricate problem of whether we can do
anything, and what it is we may do, to stimulate the central thought.
Can we hope to improve the conditions of literary production, to make
our literature more varied, quintessential and abundant, to enforce it
with honour and help, to attract to its service every man and woman
with gifts of value, and to make the most of these gifts?

Quite a number of people will assert that those things that constitute
literature come and go beyond the control and will of man, they will
speak of Shakespeare as being a sort of mystical consequence, of Roger
Bacon or Newton as men independent of circumstances, inevitably great.
And if they are by way of being comic writers--the word "humorist," as
Schopenhauer long since pointed out, is a stolen lion's skin for these
gentry--they will become extremely facetious about the proposed school
for Bacons and Shakespeares. But a little reflection will convince the
reader that none of the great figures of the past appeared without
certain conditions being added to their inherent powers. In the first
place, they had to be reasonably sure of a sympathetic and intelligent
atmosphere, however limited in extent--there was no Plato in the heroic
age, and no Newton during the Heptarchy--and in the second, the medium,
language or what not, had to be ready for their use. In the third place
they needed personally a certain minimum of training and preparation,
and in the fourth they had to feel that for some reason--not
necessarily a worldly one--the thing was "worth while." Given a
"developer" of these ingredients, and they appeared. But without this
developer they would not have appeared, and it is therefore reasonable
to suppose, first, that a great number of men of a quality as rare as
were those who constitute the unparalleled roll of English intellectual
greatness, lived and died undeveloped before ever the developer was
compounded at all, and that even in the last few hundred years the
necessary combination has fallen upon so small an area of our racial
life as to have missed far more than it has hit. The second of these
papers is, indeed, an attempt to present quite convincingly what the
comic man will probably regard as his effectual objection, that
inherent tendency cannot be produced at will. But that the developer
may conceivably be made in much greater quantities and spread much
wider than it is at present is an altogether different thing. There
are, one submits, enormous reserves of intellectual force unworked and
scarcely touched, even to-day.

We have already discussed the means and possibilities of a net of
education that should sweep through the whole social body, and of the
creation of an atmosphere more alert and active than our present one.
We have now to consider how the greatest proportion of those born with
exceptional literary powers may be picked out and induced to exercise
those powers to the utmost. Let us admit at once that this is a
research of extraordinary subtlety and complexity, that there are ten
thousand ways of going wrong, and perhaps mischievously wrong. That one
may submit, is not a sufficient reason for abandonment and despair. To
take an analogous case, it may be a complex and laborious thing to
escape out of a bear-pit into which one has fallen, but few people will
consider that a reason for inaction. Even if they had small hope of
doing anything effectual they might find speculation and experiments in
escape, a congenial way of passing the time. It is the sort of project
one should only abandon at the final and conclusive proof of its
impossibility. Exactly the same principle applies to human destinies
and the saving of other lives than our own. As a matter of fact, the
enterprise is not at all a hopeless one if it is undertaken honestly,
warily, and boldly.

Let us consider the lines upon which men must go to ensure the greatest
possible growth of original thought in the state, original thought of
which what scientific men call Research is only one phase.

Before we can consider how we may endow him and equip him and help him,
we have to consider how we may find the original thinker, and we have,
if we can, to define him and to discover whatever we can of his methods
and habits, his natural history as it were. We are attempting
generalization about a class of remarkably peculiar and difficult
persons. They are persons either of great intellectual power or simply
of great imaginative power, whose bias and quality it is to apply these
exceptional powers not directly and simply to their personal
advancement and enrichment, but primarily through philosophical,
scientific, or artistic channels, to the increase of knowledge or of
wisdom or of both. And here is the peculiar point in this problem, they
are men who put, or who wish to put the best of themselves and most of
themselves into occupations and interests that do not lead to practical
results, that often for the individual in open competition and the
market fail more or less completely to "pay." Their activities, of
course, pay tremendously at last for the race, but that is not their
personal point of application. They take their lives and their splendid
powers, they waste themselves in remote and inaccessible regions and
bring back precious things that immediately any sharp commercial-minded
man will turn into current coin for himself and the use of the world.

There are certain things follow naturally from this remote
concentration, and we must persistently keep them in mind. These men of
exceptional mental quality, if they are really to do what they are
specially fitted to do, with all their power, will be unable to give
their personal affairs, their personal advancement, sustained
attention. In a democratic community whose principle is "hustle," in a
leisurely monarchy where only opulence, a powerful top-note, and
conspicuous social gifts succeed, they will have either to neglect or
taint their special talent in order to survive. It does not follow that
because a man's special qualities and inclinations are towards, let us
say, illuminating inquiries into the constitution of matter, or
profound and beautiful or simply beautiful renderings of his individual
vision of life, that he is indifferent to or independent of honour, of
all the freedoms to do and to rest from doing that come with wealth, or
of the many lures and pleasures of life. Posthumous Fame is losing its
attractiveness in an age which has discovered excellent reasons for
doubting whether after all _ære perennius_ was not rather too
strong a figure. However powerful the impulse to think, to state and
create, there comes a point--often a point a long way from starvation--
at which a genius will stop working. Your man of scientific, literary,
or artistic genius will not work below his conception of the endurable
minimum, the minimum of hope and honour and attention as well as of
material things, any more than a coal-heaver will--and we live in a
period when the Standard of Life tends to rise. To secure these things
which most men make the entire objective of their lives is, or should
be, an irrelevancy to the man of exceptional gifts. This means an
enormous handicap for him. Unless, therefore, we endow him and make
life easy for him so long as he does his proper work, he will have
either to pervert his powers more or less completely to these
irrelevant ends, or if his powers do not admit of such perversion, he
will have no use for them whatever. He will take some subordinate place
in the world as a rather less than average man and, it may be, find the
leisure to give just an amateurish ineffectual expression of the thing
he might have been.

Now this is the case with a great deal of scientific and artistic work,
and with nearly all literature at the present time, throughout the
English-speaking community. There are a few sciences slightly endowed,
there are a few arts patronized with some intelligence and generosity,
and for the rest there is nothing for it, for the man who wants to do
these most necessary and vital things, but to hammer some at least of
his precious gold into the semblance of a brass trumpet and to devote a
certain proportion of his time and energy to blowing that trumpet and
with that air of conscious modesty the public is pleased to consider
genuine, proclaiming the value of his wares. Some men seem able to do
this sort of thing without any deterioration in quality and some with
only a partial deterioration, but the way of self-advertisement is on a
slippery slope, and it has brought many a man of indisputable gifts to
absolute vulgarity and ineffectiveness of thought and work. At the best
it is a shameful business, this noise and display, for all that Scott
and Dickens were past masters in the art. And some men cannot do it at
all. Moreover, what the good man may do with an effort, the energetic
quack, whose only gift is simulation, can do infinitely better. It is
only in the unprofitable branches of intellectual work that the best
now holds the best positions unchallenged. In the really popular
branches of artistic work every honourable success draws a parasitic
swarm of imitators like fish round bread in a pool. In the world of
thought, far more than in the world of politics, the polling method,
the democratic method has broken down, the method that will only permit
an author to write--unless his subject is one that allows him to hold a
Professorial Chair--on condition that he can get a publisher to induce
the public to buy a certain minimum number of copies of each of his
works, a method that will give him no rest, once he is in the full
swing of "production," until the end, no freedom to change his style or
matter, lest he should lose that paying following by the transition or
the pause.

Now before we can discuss how else we can deal with those who
constitute the current thought of the community, we must consider how
we are to distinguish what is worth sustaining from what is not.

This is the public aspect of Criticism. It is the mineralogy of
literature and art. At present Criticism, as a public function, is
discharged by private persons, usually anonymous and frequently
mysterious, and it is discharged with an astonishing ineffectiveness.
Nowhere in the whole English-speaking world is there anything one can
compare to a voice and a judgment--much less any discussion between
reputable voices. There are periodicals professing criticism, but most
of them have the effect of an omnibus in which disconnected
heterogeneous people are continually coming and going, while the
conductor asks first one of his fluctuating load and then another
haphazard for an opinion on this or that. The branch of literature that
has first to be put on a sound footing is critical literature. The
organization into efficiency of the criticism of contemporary work one
is forced to believe an almost necessary preliminary to the hopeful
treatment of the rest of the current of thought.

There is, of course, also the suggestion that an English Academy of
Letters might be of great service in discounting vulgar "successes" and
directing respect and attention to literary achievements. One may doubt
whether such an Academy as a Royal Charter would give the world would
be of any service at all in this connection. But Mr. Herbert Trench has
suggested recently that it might be possible to organize a large Guild
of literary men and women, which would include all capable writers, and
from which a sort of Academy could be elected, either by a general poll
or, I would suggest, by a Jury of Election or successive Juries
confirming one another. The New Republican would like to see such a
Guild not purely English, but Anglo-American, or in duplicate for the
two countries. With a very carefully chosen nucleus and some little
elaboration in the admission of new members--whose works might be
submitted to the report of a critical jury--such a Guild might be made
fairly representative of literary capacity. Election, one may suggest,
should be involuntary. There would be a number of literary men, one
fears--great men some of them--who would absolutely refuse to work with
any such body, and from the first the Guild would have to determine to
make such men unwilling members, members to whom all the honours and
privileges of the Guild would be open whenever they chose to abandon
their attitude of scorn or distrust. Such a Guild would furnish a
useful constituency, a useful jury-list. It could be used to recommend
writers for honours, to check the distribution of public pensions for
literary services, perhaps even to send a member or so to the Upper
Chamber. It is, at any rate, an experiment worth trying.

But such a Guild at best is only one of many possible expedients in
this matter. Another is for a few people of means to subsidize a
magazine for the exhaustive criticism of contemporary work for a few
years. Quite a small number of people, serious in this matter, a couple
of thousand or so, could float such a magazine by the simple expedient
of guaranteeing subscriptions. [Footnote: It may be suggested that
among other methods of putting the criticism of contemporary literature
upon a better footing is one that might conceivably be made to pay its
own expenses. There is so much room for endowments nowadays that where
one can get at the purse of the general public one should certainly
prefer it to that of the generous but overtaxed donor. The project
would require a strong endowment, but that endowment might be of the
nature of a guarantee fund, and might in the end return unimpaired to
the lender. The suggestion is the establishment of a well-planned and
reasonably cheap monthly or weekly critical magazine, written on a
level at present unattainable--chiefly because of the low rate of
payment for all literary criticism. There can be no doubt among those
who read much among literary and quasi-literary periodicals in English
that there is a very considerable amount of high critical ability
available. Buried and obscured to an ineffectual degree among much that
is formal, foolish, and venial, there is to be found to-day a really
quite remarkable number of isolated reviews, criticisms and articles in
which style is apparent, in which discrimination shines fitfully, in
which there is the unmistakable note of honest enthusiasm for good
work. For the most part, such criticism bears also the marks of haste--
as, indeed, it must do when a review as long as the column of a daily
paper, a day's work, that is, of steady writing, earns scarcely a
pound. But the stuff is there. Scarcely a number of the _Academy_,
or the _Spectator_, scarcely a week of the _Morning Post_,
the _Daily News_, or the _Daily Chronicle_, but there is a
review, or a piece of a review, that has the stigmata of literature.
And this suggestion is that some of these writers shall be got
together, shall be paid at least as well as popular short-story writers
are paid, shall each have a definite department marked out under a
trustworthy editor, and be pledged to limit their work to the pages of
this new critical magazine. Their work would be signed, and there they
would be, conspicuously urged to do the best that was in them,
_apropos_ of more or less contemporary books and writers. They
would have leisure for deliberate judgments, for the development of
that consistency of thought which the condition of journalism renders
so impossible. This review would mean for them status, reputation, and
opportunity. They would deal with contemporary fiction, with
contemporary speculative literature, and with the style, logic, methods
and vocabulary of scientific and philosophical writers. Their work
would form the mass of the magazine, but there would also be (highly
paid) occasional writers, towards whose opinions the regular staff
would very carefully define their attitude. The project, of course, in
foolish hands, might be very foolishly misinterpreted. It might be
quite easy to drive a team of egregious asses in this way over
contemporary work, leaving nothing but hoof-marks and injuries, but we
are assuming the thing to be efficiently done. It is submitted that
such a magazine, patiently and generously sustained for a few years,
would at last probably come to pay its way. Unless the original
selection of the staff was badly done, it would by sheer persistent
high quality win its way to authority with the reading public, and so
fill its covers with a swelling mass of advertisement pages. And once
it paid, then forthwith a dozen rivals would be in the field, all of
them, of course, also paying highly for critical matter and competing
for critics of standing. Such an enterprise would be a lever for
criticism through the whole of our literary world.]

Then it should also be possible to endow university lectureships and
readerships in contemporary criticism, lectureships and readerships in
which questions of style and method could be illustrated by quotation
(not necessarily of a flattering sort) from contemporary work. Why
should there not be an endowment which would enable a man of
indisputable critical capacity to talk through an illuminating course,
to sit before a little pile of marked books and reading sometimes here
and sometimes there and talking between, to distinguish the evil from
the good? What a wholesome thing to have Mr. Henley, for example, at
that in the place of some of the several specialists who will lecture
you so admirably on the Troubadours! How good to hear Mr. Frederic
Harrison (with some one to follow) adjusting all our living efforts to
the scale of the divine Comte, and Mr. Walkley and Mr. Herbert Paul
making it perfectly clear that a dead dog is better than a living lion,
by demonstrations on the lion. Criticism to-day is all too much in the
case of that doctor whose practice was deadly, indeed, but his post-
mortems admirable! No doubt such lectures would consist at times of
highly contentious matter, but what of that? There could be several
chairs. It would not be an impossible thing to set a few Extension
Lecturers afloat upon the same channel. We have now numerous courses of
lectures on the Elizabethan Dramatists and the evolution of the Miracle
Play, and the people who listen to this sort of thing will depart
straight away to recreate their souls in the latest triumph of vehement
bookselling. Why not base the literary education of people upon the
literature they read instead of upon literature that they are scarcely
more in touch with than with Chinese metaphysics? A few carefully
chosen pages of contemporary rubbish, read with a running comment, a
few carefully chosen pages of what is, comparatively, not rubbish, a
little lucid discussion of effects and probabilities, would do more to
quicken the literary sense of the average person than all the sham
enthusiasm about Marlowe and Spenser that was ever concocted. There are
not a few authors who would be greatly the better and might even be
subsequently grateful for a lecture upon themselves in this style. Let
no one say from this that the classics of our tongue are depreciated
here. But the point is, that for people who know little of history,
little of our language, whose only habitual reading is the newspaper,
the popular novel, and the sixpenny magazine, to plunge into the study
of works written in the language of a different period, crowded with
obsolete allusions, and saturated with obsolete ideas and extinct ways
of thinking, is pretentious and unprofitable, and that most of such
Extension Lecturing is fruitless and absurd. And I appeal to these two
facts in confirmation, to the thousands of people who every year listen
to such lectures and to the hundreds of thousands of copies of our
national classics sold by the booksellers, on the one hand, and on the
other to the absolute incapacity of our public to judge any new
literary thing or to protect itself in any way from violently and
vulgarly boomed rubbish of the tawdriest description. Without a real
and popular criticism of contemporary work as a preliminary and basis,
the criticism and circulation of the classics is quite manifestly vain.

By such expedients very much might be done for the literary atmosphere.
By endowing a critical review or so, by endowing a few chairs and
readerships in contemporary criticism, by organizing a Guild of
Literature and a system of exemplary honours for literature, by
stimulating the general discussion of contemporary work through
lectures and articles, criticism could, I believe, be made "worth
while" to an extent that is now scarcely imaginable, and there might be
created an atmosphere of attention, appreciation, and judgment that
would be in itself extraordinarily stimulating to all forms of literary
effort. Of course all this sort of thing may be done cheaply, stupidly,
dishonestly, and vulgarly, and one imagines the shy and exquisite type
of mind recoiling from the rude sanity of these suggestions. But,
indeed, they need not be done any other way than finely and well.
People whose conception of what is good in art and literature is
inseparable from rarity ought, I submit, to collect stamps. At an
earlier phase in this series of discussions there was broached a
project for an English Language Society, which would set itself to do
or get done a number of services necessary to the teaching and
extension of the language of our universal peoples. With such a Society
those who undertook this project for the habilitation of criticism
would necessarily co-operate and interlock.

It is upon this basis of an organized criticism and of a well-taught
and cherished language that the English literature of the Twentieth
Century, the literature of analysis and research, and the literature of
creative imagination, has to stand. Upon such a basis it becomes
possible to consider the practicability of the endowment of general
literature. For to that at last we come. I submit that it is only by
the payment of authors, and if necessary their endowment in a spacious
manner, and in particular by the entire separation of the rewards of
writing from the accidents of the book market, that the function of
literature can be adequately discharged in the modern state. The laws
of supply and demand break down altogether in this case. We have to
devise some means of sustaining those who discharge this necessary
public function in the progressive state.

There are several general propositions in this matter that it may be
worth while to state at this point. The first is that both scientific
generalization and literature proper have been and are and must
continue to be the product of a quite exceptionally heterogeneous
aggregation of persons. They are persons of the most various
temperaments, of the most varied lop-sidedness, of the most various
special gifts, and the most various social origins, having only this in
common, the ability to add to the current of the world's thought. They
are not to be dealt with as though they were a class of persons all of
exceptional general intelligence, of exceptional strength of character,
or of exceptional sanity. To do that, would be to hand over literature
from the man of genius to the man of talent. A single method of
selection, help, honour, and payment, measurement by one general
standard cannot, therefore, be accepted as a solution. There must not
be any one single central body, any authoritative single control, for
such a body or authority would inevitably develop a "character" in its
activity and greet with especial favour (or with especial disfavour)
certain types. In this case, at any rate, organization is not
centralization, and it is also not uniformity. The proposition may
indeed be thrown out that the principle of Many Channels (a principle
involving the repudiation both of the monarchical and the democratic
idea) is an essential one to go upon in all questions of honour and
promotion in the modern state. And not only Many Channels, but Many
Methods. Whatever the value of that as a universally valuable
proposition, it certainly applies here.

And next we may suggest that we must take great care that we pay for
the thing we need and not for some subsidiary qualification of less
value. The reward must be directly related to the work, and independent
of all secondary considerations. It must have no taint of charity. The
recipient must not have to show that he is in want. Because a writer or
investigator is a sober, careful body and quite solvent in a modest
way, that is no reason why we should not pay him stimulatingly for his
valuable contributions to the general mind, or because he is a
shiftless seeker of misfortunes, why we should pay him in excess. But
pay him anyhow. Almost scandalous private immorality, I submit, should
not bar the literary worker from his pay any more than it justifies our
stealing his boots. We must deal with immorality as immorality, and
with work as work. Above all, at the present time, we must keep clearly
in view that popularity has no relation to literary, philosophic or
scientific value, it neither justifies nor condemns. At present, except
in the case of certain forms of research and in relation to the
altogether too charitable-looking British Civil List, we make
popularity the sole standard by which a writer may be paid. The
novelist, for example, gets an income extraordinarily made up of sums
of from sixpence to two shillings per person sufficiently interested to
buy his or her books. The result is entirely independent of real
literary merit. The sixpences and shillings are, of course, greatly
coveted, and success in getting them on anything like a magnificent
scale makes a writer, good or bad, vehemently hated and abused, but the
hatred and abuse--unaccompanied as they are by any proposals for
amelioration--are hardly less silly than the system. And for our
present purpose it really does not matter if the fortunate persons who
interest the great public are or are not overpaid. Our concern is with
the underpaid, and with all this affair of mammoth editions and booming
only as it affects that aspect. We are concerned with the exceptional
man's necessities and not with his luxuries. The fly of envy in the
True Artist's ointment may, I think, very well stop there until
magnanimity becomes something more of a cult in the literary and
artistic worlds than it is at the present time.

This, perhaps, is something of a digression from our second general
proposition, that we must pay directly for the work itself. But it
leads to a third proposition. The whole history of literature and
science abundantly shows that no critical judgment is more than an
approximation to the truth. Criticism should be equal to the exposure
of the imitator and the pure sham, of course, it should be able to
analyze and expose these types, but above that level is the disputed
case. At the present time in England only a very few writers or
investigators hold high positions by anything approaching the unanimous
verdict of the intelligent public--of that section of the public that
counts. In the department of fiction, for example, there is a very
audible little minority against Mr. Kipling, and about Mr. George Moore
or Mr. Zangwill or Mr. Barrie one may hear the most diverse opinions.
By the test of blackballing, only the unknown would survive. The
valuation is as erratic in many branches of science. The development of
criticism will diminish, but it certainly will not end, this sort of
thing, and since our concern is to stimulate rather than punish, we
must do just exactly what we should not do if we were electing men for
a club, we must include rather than exclude. I am told that Americans
remark in relation to University endowments, "we speculate in
research," and that will serve for only a slight exaggeration of this
third proposition. So long as we get most of the men of exceptional
mental gifts in the community under the best conditions for their work,
it scarcely matters if, for each one of them, we get four or five shams
or mere respectabilities upon our hands. Respectabilities and shams
have a fatal facility for living on the community anyhow, and there is
no more reason in not doing these things on their account than there
would be in burning a house down to get rid of cockroaches and rats.
The rat poison of sound criticism--to follow that analogy--is the
remedy here. And if the respectability lives, his work at any rate

But if the reward must be directly for the work, it must not have any
quantitative relation to the output of work. It is quality we want, not
quantity; we want absolutely to invert the abominable conditions of the
present time by which every exercise of restraint costs an author a
fine. It is my personal conviction that almost every well-known living
writer is or has been writing too much. "No book, no income" is
practically what the world says to an author, and the needy authors
make a pace the independent follow; there is no respect for fine
silences, if you cease you are forgotten. The literature of the past
hundred years is unparalleled in the world's history in this feature
that the greater portion of it is or has been written under pressure.
It was the case with Scott, the case with Dickens, Tennyson, even with
Browning, and a host of other great contributors to the edifice. No one
who loves Dickens and knows anything of the art he practised but
deplores that evil incessant demand that never permitted him to revise
his plans, to alter, rearrange and concentrate, that never released him
from the obligation to touch dull hearts and penetrate thick skins with
obtrusive pathos and violent caricature.

Once embarked upon his course, he never had a moment for
reconstruction. He had no time to read, no time to think. A writer
nowadays has to think in books and articles; to read a book he must
criticize or edit it; if he dare attempt an experiment, a new
departure, comes his agent in a panic. Every departure from the lines
of his previous success involves chaffering, unless he chance to be a
man of independent means. When one reflects on these things it is only
amazing that the average book is not more copious and crude and hasty
than it is, and how much in the way of comprehensive and unifying work
is even now in progress. There are all too many books to read. It would
be better for the public, better for our literature, altogether better,
if this obligation to write perpetually were lifted. Few writers but
must have felt at times the desire to stop and think, to work out some
neglected corner of their minds, to admit a year's work as futile and
thrust it behind the fire, or simply to lie fallow, to camp and rest
the horses. Let us, therefore, pay our authors as much not to write as
though they wrote; instead of that twenty or thirty volumes, which is,
I suppose, the average product, let us require a book or so, worth
having. Which means, in fact, that we must find some way of giving an
author, once he has proved his quality, a fixed income quite
irrespective of what he does. We might, perhaps, require evidence that
he was doing some work now and then, we might prohibit alien
occupations, but for my own part I do not think even that is necessary.
Most authors so sustained will write, and all will have written. We are
presupposing, be it remembered, the stimulus of honours and criticism
and of further honours and further emoluments.

Finally, in making schemes for the endowment of original mental
activity, we must not ignore the possibility of a perversion that has
already played its part in the histories of painting and music, and
that is the speculative financing of promising candidates for these
endowments. If we are going to make research, criticism, and creation
"worth while" we must see to it that in reality we are not simply
making it worth while for Solomons and Moses to "spot" the early
promise, to stimulate its modesty, to help it to its position, and to
draw the major profits of the enterprise. The struggling young man of
exceptional gifts who is using his brains not to make his position but
to do his destined work, is by that at a great disadvantage in dealing
with the business man, and it is to the interest of the community that
he should be protected from his own inexperience and his own self-
distrust. The average Whitechapel Jew could cheat a Shakespeare into
the workhouse in no time, and our idea is rather to make the world easy
for Shakespeares than to hand it over to the rat activities of the
"smart" business man.

Freedom of Contract is an idea no one outside a debating society dreams
of realizing in the state. We protect tenants from landlords in all
sorts of ways, our law overrides all sorts of bargains, and in the
important case of marriage we put almost all the conditions outside
bargaining and speculative methods altogether by insisting upon one
universal contract or none. We protect women who are physically and
economically weak in this manner, not so much for their own good as the
good of the race. The state already puts literary property into a class
apart by limiting its duration. At a certain point, which varies in
different circumstances, copyright expires. It is possible for an
author, whose fame comes late, to be present as a row of dainty volumes
in half the comfortable homes in the world, while his grandchildren beg
their bread. The author's blood is sacrificed to the need the whole
world has of cheap access to his work. And since we do him this injury
for the sake of our intellectual life, it is surely not unreasonable to
interfere for his benefit also if that subserves the greater end.

Now there are two ways at least in which the author may be and should
be protected from the pressure of immediate necessities. The first of
these is to render his copyright in his work inalienably his, to forbid
him to make any bargain by which the right to revise, abbreviate, or
alter what he has written passes out of his hands, and to make every
such bargain invalid. He would be free himself to alter or to endorse
alterations, but to yield no _carte blanche_ to others. He would
be free also to make whatever bargain he chose for the rights of
publication. But, and this is the second proposal, no bargain he made
should be valid for a longer period than seven years from the date of
its making. Every seven years his book would come back into his
control, to suppress, revise, resell, or do whatever he liked to do
with it. Only in one way could he escape this property, and that would
be by declaring it void and making his copyright an immediate present
to the world. And upon this proposal it is possible to base one form--
and a very excellent form--of paying for the public service of good
writing and so honouring men of letters and thought, and that is by
buying and, more or less, completely extinguishing their copyrights,
and so converting them into contemporary classics.

Throughout these papers a disposition to become concrete has played
unchecked. Always definite proposals have been preferred to vague
generalizations, and here again it will be convenient to throw out an
almost detailed scheme--simply as an illustration of the possibilities
of the case. I am going to suggest to the reader that to endow a
thousand or so authors, as authors, would be a most wise and admirable
proceeding for a modern statesman, and I would ask him before he
dismisses this suggestion as absurd and impossible, to rest contented
with no vague rejection but to put to himself clearly why the thing
should under present conditions be absurd and impossible. Always in the
past the need of some organ for the establishment and preservation of a
common tone and substance of thought in the state has been recognized;
commonly this organ has taken the form of a Church, a group of Churches
(as in America) or an educational system (as in China). But all
previous schemes of social and political organization have been static,
have aimed at a permanent state. Our modern state we know can only live
by adaptation, and we have to provide not a permanent but a developing
social, moral and political culture. Our new scheme must include not
only priests and teachers but prophets and seekers. Literature is a
vitally necessary function of the modern state.

Let us waive for the moment the subtle difficulty that arises when we
ask who are the writers of literature, the guides and makers of
opinion, the men and women of wisdom, insight, and creation, as
distinguished from those who merely resonate to the note of the popular
mind; let us assume that this is determined, and let us make a scheme
in the air to support these people under such conditions as will give
us their best. Suppose the thing done boldly, and that for every
hundred thousand people in our population we subsidize an author--if we
can find as many. Suppose we give him some sort of honour or title and
the alternative of going on writing under copyright conditions--which
many popular favourites would certainly prefer--or of giving up his
copyrights to the public and receiving a fixed income, a respectable
mediocre income, £800 or £1000 for example.

That means four hundred or more subsidized authors for Great Britain,
which would work out, perhaps, as eighteen or twenty every year, and a
proportionate number for America and the Colonial States of the British
Empire. Suppose, further, that from this general body of authors we
draw every year four or five of the seniors to form a sort of Academy,
a higher stage of honour and income; this would probably give something
under a hundred on this higher stage. Taking the income of the two
stages as £1000 and £2000 respectively, this would work out at about
£500,000 a year for Great Britain--a quite trivial addition to what is
already spent on educational work. A scheme that would provide for
widows and children whose education was unfinished, and for the
official printing and sale of correct texts of the books written, would
still fall within the dimensions of a million pounds. I am assuming
this will be done quite in addition to the natural growth of
Universities and Colleges, to the evolution of great text-books and
criticism, and to the organization and publication of special research
in science and letters. This is to be an endowment specifically for
unspecialized literature, for untechnical philosophy that is, and the
creative imagination.

It must not be imagined that such an endowment would be a new payment,
by the community. In all probability we are already paying as much, or
more, to authors, in the form of royalties, of serial fees, and the
like. We are paying now with an unjust unevenness--we starve the new
and deep and overpay the trite and obvious. Moreover, the community
would have something in exchange for its money; it would have the
copyright of the works written. It may be suggested that by a very
simple device a large proportion of these payments could be recovered.
Suppose that all books, whether copyright or not, and all periodicals
sold above a certain price--sixpence, let us say--had to bear a defaced
stamp of--for example--a halfpenny for each shilling of price. This
would probably yield a revenue almost sufficient to cover these
literary pensions. In addition the books of the pensioned authors might
bear an additional stamp as the equivalent of the present royalty.

The annual selection of eighteen or twenty authors might very well be a
dispersed duty. One or two each might be appointed in some way by
grouped Universities, or by three or four of the Universities taken in
rotation, by such a Guild of Authors as we have already considered, by
the British Academy of History and Philosophy, by the Royal Society, by
the British Privy Council. The Jury system would probably be of very
great value in making these appointments.

That is a rough sketch of a possible scheme--presented in the most
open-minded way. It would not meet all conceivable cases, so it would
need to be supplemented in many directions; moreover, it is presented
with hideous crudity, but for all that, would not something of the sort
work well? How would it work? There would certainly be a great
diminution in the output of written matter from the thousand or more
recognized writers this would give us, and almost as certainly a great
rise in effort and deliberation, in distinction, quality, and value in
their work. This would also appear in the work of their ambitious
juniors. Would it extinguish anything? I do not see that it would.
Those who write trivially for the pleasure of the public would be just
as well off as they are now, and there would be no more difficulty than
there is at present for those who begin writing. Less, indeed; for the
thousand subsidized writers, at least, would not be clamorously
competing to fill up magazines and libraries; they might set a higher
and more difficult standard, but they would leave more space about
them. The thing would scarcely affect the development of publishing and
book distribution, nor injure nor stimulate--except by raising the
standard and ideals of writing--newspapers, magazines, and their
contributors in any way.

I do not believe for one moment the thing would stop at such a
subsidized body of authors, such a little aristocracy of thought, as
this project presents. But it would be an efficient starting-point.
There are those who demand a thinking department for Army and Navy; and
that idea admits of extension in this direction, this organized general
literature of mine would be the thinking organization of the race. Once
this deliberate organization of a central ganglion of interpretation
and presentation began, the development of the brain and nervous system
in the social body would proceed apace. Each step made would enable the
next step to be wider and bolder. The general innervation of society
with books and book distributing agencies would be followed by the
linking up of the now almost isolated mental worlds of science, art,
and political and social activity in a system of intercommunication and

We have now already in the history of the world one successful
experiment in the correlation of human endeavour. Compare all that was
accomplished in material science by the isolated work of the great men
before Lord Verulam, and what has been done since the system of
isolated inquiry gave place to a free exchange of ideas and collective
discussion. And this is only one field of mental activity and one
aspect of social needs. The rest of the intellectual world is still
unorganized. The rest of the moral and intellectual being of man is
dwarfed and cowed by the enormous disproportionate development of
material science and its economic and social consequences. What if we
extend that same spirit of organization and free reaction to the whole
world of human thought and emotion? That is the greater question at
which this project of literary endowment aims.

It may seem to the reader that all this insistence upon the supreme
necessity for an organized literature springs merely from the obsession
of a writer by his own calling, but, indeed, that is not so. We who
write are not all so blinded by conceit of ourselves that we do not
know something of our absolute personal value. We are lizards in an
empty palace, frogs crawling over a throne. But it is a palace, it is a
throne, and, it may be, the reverberation of our ugly voices will
presently awaken the world to put something better in our place.
Because we write abominably under pressure and for unhonoured bread,
none the less we are making the future. We are making it atrociously no
doubt; we are not ignorant of that possibility, but some of us, at
least, would like to do it better. We know only too well how that we
are out of touch with scholarship and contemplation. We must drive our
pens to live and push and bawl to be heard. We must blunder against men
an ampler training on either side would have made our allies, we must
smart and lose our tempers and do the foolish things that are done in
the heat of the day. For all that, according to our lights, we who
write are trying to save our world in a lack of better saviours, to
change this mental tumult into an order of understanding and intention
in which great things may grow. The thought of a community is the life
of that community, and if the collective thought of a community is
disconnected and fragmentary, then the community is collectively vain
and weak. That does not constitute an incidental defect, but essential
failure. Though that community have cities such as the world has never
seen before, fleets and hosts and glories, though it count its soldiers
by the army corps and its children by the million, yet if it hold not
to the reality of thought and formulated will beneath these outward
things, it will pass, and all its glories will pass, like smoke before
the wind, like mist beneath the sun; it will become at last only one
more vague and fading dream upon the scroll of time, a heap of mounds
and pointless history, even as are Babylon and Nineveh.



In this manner it is that the initial proposition of New Republicanism
works itself out. It shapes into the rough outline of an ideal new
state, a New Republic, a great confederation of English-speaking
republican communities, each with its non-hereditary aristocracy,
scattered about the world, speaking a common language, possessing a
common literature and a common scientific and, in its higher stages at
least, a common educational organization, and it indicates in crude,
broad suggestions the way towards that state from the present condition
of things. It insists as a cardinal necessity, not indeed as an end but
as an indispensable instrument by which this world state must be made
and sustained, upon a great, a contemporary, and a universally
accessible literature, a literature not simply of thought and science
but of power, which shall embody and make real and living the
sustaining dreams of the coming time, and which shall draw together and
bring into intelligent correlation all those men and women who are
working now discontentedly and wastefully towards a better order of
life. For, indeed, a great number of men and women are already working
for this New Republic, working with the most varied powers and
temperaments and formulæ, to raise the standard of housing and the
standard of living, to enlarge our knowledge of the means by which
better births may be attained, to know more, to educate better, to
train better, to write good books for teachers, to organize our
schools, to make our laws simpler and more honest, to clarify our
political life, to test and reorganize all our social rules and
conventions, to adjust property to new conditions, to improve our
language, to increase intercourse of all sorts, to give our ideals the
justice of a noble presentation; at a thousand points the New Republic
already starts into being. And while we scattered pioneers and
experimenters piece together our scattered efforts into a coherent
scheme, while we become more and more clearly conscious of our common
purpose, year by year the old order and those who have anchylosed to
the old order, die and pass away, and the unhampered children of the
new time grow up about us.

In a few years this that I call New Republicanism here, under I know
not what final name, will have become a great world movement conscious
of itself and consistent within itself, and we who are making now the
crude discovery of its possibility will be working towards its
realization in our thousand different ways and positions. And coming to
our help, to reinforce us, to supersede us, to take the growing task
out of our hands will come youth, will come our sons and daughters and
those for whom we have written our books, for whom we have taught in
our schools, for whom we have founded and ordered libraries, toiled in
laboratories, and in waste places and strange lands; for whom we have
made saner and cleaner homes and saner and cleaner social and political
arrangements, foregoing a hundred comfortable acquiescences that these
things might be done. Youth will come to take over the work from us and
go on with it in a bolder and ampler manner than we in these limited
days dare to attempt.

Assuredly youth will come to us, if this is indeed to be the dawn of a
new time. Without the high resolve of youth, without the constant
accession of youth, without recuperative power, no sustained forward
movement is possible in the world. It is to youth, therefore, that this
book is finally addressed, to the adolescents, to the students, to
those who are yet in the schools and who will presently come to read
it, to those who being still plastic can understand the infinite
plasticity of the world. It is those who are yet unmade who must become
the makers. After thirty there are few conversions and fewer fine
beginnings; men and women go on in the path they have marked out for
themselves. Their imaginations have become firm and rigid even if they
have not withered, and there is no turning them from the conviction of
their brief experience that almost all that is, is inexorably so.
Accomplished things obsess us more and more. What man or woman over
thirty in Great Britain dares to hope for a republic before it is time
to die? Yet the thing might be. Or for the reunion of the English-
speaking peoples? Or for the deliverance of all of our blood and speech
from those fouler things than chattel slavery, child and adolescent
labour? Or for an infantile death-rate under ninety in the thousand and
all that would mean in the common life? These and a hundred such things
are coming now, but only the young know how near they may be brought to
us. As for us others, we plant a tree never believing we shall eat the
fruit, we build a house never hoping to live therein. The desert, we
believe in our hearts, is our home and our destined grave, and whatever
we see of the Promised Land we must see through the eyes of the young.

With each year of their lives they come more distinctly into conscious
participation with our efforts. Those soft little creatures that we
have figured grotesquely as dropping from an inexorable spout into our
world, those weak and wailing lumps of pink flesh more helpless than
any animal, for whom we have planned better care, a better chance of
life, better conditions of all sorts, those laval souls who are at
first helpless clay in our hands, presently insensibly have become
helpers beside us in the struggle. In a little while they are beautiful
children, they are boys and girls and youths and maidens, full of the
zest of new life, full of an abundant, joyful receptivity. In a little
while they are walking with us, seeking to know whither we go, and
whither we lead them, and why. Our account of the men-makers is not
complete until we add to birth and school and world, the increasing
element of deliberate co-operation in the man or woman we are seeking
to make. In a little while they are young men and women, and then men
and women, save for a fresher vigour, like ourselves. For us it comes
at last to fellowship and resignation. For them it comes at last to
responsibility, to freedom, and to introspection and the searching of
hearts. We must if we would be men-makers, as the first and immediate
part of the business, correct and finish ourselves. The good New
Republican must needs ask and ask repeatedly: What have I done and what
am I doing with myself while I tamper with the lives of others? His
self-examination will be no monstrous egotism of perfectibility,
indeed, no virtuosity of virtue, no exquisite retreat and slinking "out
of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without
dust and heat." But he will seek perpetually to gauge his quality, he
will watch to see himself the master of his habits and of his powers;
he will take his brain, blood, body, and lineage as a trust to be
administered for the world. To know all one can of one's self in
relation to the world about one, to think out all one can, to take
nothing for granted except by reason of one's unavoidable limitations,
to be swift, indeed, but not hasty, to be strong but not violent, to be
as watchful of one's self as it is given one to be, is the manifest
duty of all who would subserve the New Republic. For the New
Republican, as for his forerunner the Puritan, conscience and
discipline must saturate life. He must be ruled by duties and a certain
ritual in life. Every day and every week he must set aside time to read
and to think, to commune with others and himself, he must be as jealous
of his health and strength as the Levites of old. Can we in this
generation make but a few thousands of such men and women, men and
women who are not afraid to live, men and women with a common faith and
a common understanding, then, indeed, our work will be done. They will
in their own time take this world as a sculptor takes his marble and
shape it better than all our dreams.




[Footnote: I am indebted to Mr. E. R. Pease for some valuable
corrections.--H. G. W.]

Let me begin this paper upon the question of Scientific Administrative
areas in relation to municipal undertakings by defining the sort of
Socialism I profess. Because, you know, it is quite impossible to
conceal that there are very many different sorts of socialism, and your
society is, and has long been, a remarkably representative collection
of the various types. We have this much in common, however, that we
insist upon and hammer home and never lose sight of the fact that
Property is a purely provisional and law-made thing, and that the law
and the community which has given may also, at its necessity, take
away. The work which the Socialist movement has done is to secure the
general repudiation of any idea of sacredness about property. But upon
the extent to which it is convenient to sanction a certain amount of
property, and the ways in which existing excesses of property are to be
reduced, Socialists differ enormously. There are certain extreme
expressions of Socialism that you will connect with the names of Owen
and Fourier, and with Noyes's "History of American Socialism," in which
the abolition of monopoly is carried out with logical completeness to
the abolition of marriage, and in which the idea seems to be to extend
the limits of the Family and of intimate intercourse to include all
humanity. With these Socialisms I have nothing in common. There are a
large number of such questions concerning the constitution of the
family upon which I retain an open and inquiring mind, and to which I
find the answers of the established order, if not always absolutely
incorrect, at any rate glaringly incomplete and totally inadequate; but
I do not find the answers of these Socialistic Communities in any
degree more satisfactory.

There are, however, more limited Socialisms, systems which deal mainly
with economic organizations, which recognize the rights of individuals
to possessions of a personal sort, and which assume without detailed
discussion the formation of family groups within the general community.
There are limited socialisms whose repudiation of property affects only
the common interests of the community, the land it occupies, the
services in which all are interested, the necessary minimum of
education, and the sanitary and economic interaction of one person or
family group upon another; socialisms which, in fact, come into touch
with an intelligent individualism, and which are based on the attempt
to ensure equality of opportunity and freedom for complete individual
development to every citizen. Such socialists look not so much to the
abolition of property as to the abolition of inheritance, and to the
intelligent taxation of property for the services of the community. It
is among such moderate socialists that I would number myself. I would
make no hard and fast rule with regard to any portion of the material
and apparatus used in the service of a community. With regard to any
particular service or concern, I would ask, Is it more convenient, more
likely to lead to economy and efficiency, to let this service rest in
the hands of some single person or group of persons who may offer to do
the service or administer the concern, and whom we will call the
owners, or to place it in the hands of some single person or group of
persons, elected or chosen by lot, whom we will call the official or
group of officials? And if you were to suggest some method of election
that would produce officials that, on the whole, were likely to manage
worse than private owners, and to waste more than the private owner's
probable profits, I should say then by all means leave the service or
concern in private hands.

You see upon this principle the whole question of the administration of
any affair turns upon the question, Which will give the maximum
efficiency? It is very easy to say, and it stirs the heart and produces
cheering in crowded meetings to say, "Let everything be owned by all
and controlled by all for the good of all," and for the general
purposes of a meeting it is quite possible to say that and nothing
more. But if you sit down quietly by yourself afterwards and try and
imagine things being "owned by all and controlled by all for the good
of all," you will presently arrive at the valuable discovery in social
and political science that the phrase means nothing whatever. It is
also very striking, on such rhetorical occasions, to oppose the private
owner to the community or the state or the municipality, and to suppose
all the vices of humanity concentrated in private ownership, and all
the virtues of humanity concentrated in the community, but indeed that
clear and striking contrast will not stand the rough-and-tumble of the
workaday world. A little examination of the matter will make it clear
that the contrast lies between private owners and public officials--you
must have officials, because you can't settle a railway time-table or
make a bridge by public acclamation--and even there you will find it is
not a simple question of the white against black order. Even in our
state to-day there are few private owners who have absolute freedom to
do what they like with their possessions, and there are few public
officials who have not a certain freedom and a certain sense of
proprietorship in their departments, and in fact, as distinguished from
rhetoric, there is every possible gradation between the one thing and
the other. We have to clear our minds of misleading terms in this
affair. A clipped and regulated private ownership--a private company,
for example, with completely published accounts, taxed dividends, with
a public representative upon its board of directors and parliamentary
powers--may be an infinitely more honest, efficient, and controllable
public service than a badly elected or badly appointed board of
governors of officials. We may--and I for one do--think that a number
of public services, an increasing number of public services, can be
best administered as public concerns. Most of us here to-night are, I
believe, pretty advanced municipalizers. But it does not follow that we
believe that any sort of representative or official body pitched into
any sort of area is necessarily better than any sort of private
control. The more we are disposed to municipalize, the more incumbent
it is upon us to search out, study, and invent, and to work to develop
the most efficient public bodies possible. And my case to-night is,
that the existing local government bodies, your town councils, borough
councils, urban district boards, and so forth, are, for the purposes of
municipalization, far from being the best possible bodies, and that
even your county councils fall short, that by their very nature all
these bodies must fall far short of the highest possible efficiency,
and that as time goes on they must fail even more than they do now to
discharge the duties we Fabians would like to thrust upon them. And the
general reason upon which I would have you condemn these bodies and
seek for some newer and ampler ones before you press the
municipalization of public concerns to its final trial, is this--that
their areas of activity are impossibly small.

The areas within which we shape our public activities at present,
derive, I hold, from the needs and conditions of a past order of
things. They have been patched and repaired enormously, but they still
preserve the essential conceptions of a vanished organization. They
have been patched and repaired first to meet this urgent specific
necessity and then that, and never with any comprehensive anticipation
of coming needs, and at last they have become absolutely impossible.
They are like fifteenth-century houses which have been continuously
occupied by a succession of enterprising but short-sighted and close-
fisted owners, and which have now been, with the very slightest use of
lath-and-plaster partitions and geyser hot-water apparatus, converted
into modern residential flats. These local government areas of to-day
represent for the most part what were once distinct, distinctly
organized, and individualized communities, complete minor economic
systems, and they preserve a tradition of what was once administrative
convenience and economy. To-day, I submit, they do not represent
communities at all, and they become more wasteful and more inconvenient
with every fresh change in economic necessity.

This is a double change. Let me first of all say a word in
justification for my first assertion that existing areas do not
represent communities, and then pass to a necessary consequence or so
of this fact. I submit that before the railways, that is to say in the
days in which the current conception of local government areas arose,
the villages, and still more the boroughs, and even the counties, were
practically complete minor economic systems. The wealth of the locality
was, roughly speaking, local; rich people resided in contact with their
property, other people lived in contact with their work, and it was a
legitimate assumption that a radius of a mile or so, or of a few miles,
circumscribed most of the practical interests of all the inhabitants of
a locality. You got rich and poor in visible relationships; you got
landlord and tenant, you got master and workman all together. But now,
through a revolution in the methods of locomotion, and chiefly through
the making of railways, this is no longer true. You can still see the
villages and towns separated by spaces of fields and physically
distinct, but it is no longer the case that all who dwell in these old
limits are essentially local inhabitants and mutually interdependent as
once they would have been. A large proportion of our population to-day,
a large and an increasing proportion, has no localized interests at all
as an eighteenth-century person would have understood locality.

Take for example Guildford, or Folkestone, and you will find that
possibly even more than half the wealth in the place is non-local
wealth--wealth, that is, having no relation to the local production of
wealth--and that a large majority of the more educated, intelligent and
active inhabitants derive their income, spend their energies, and find
their absorbing interests outside the locality. They may rent or own
houses, but they have no reality of participation and little illusion
of participation in any local life. You will find in both towns a
considerable number of hotels, inns, and refreshment places which,
although they are regulated by local magistrates upon a basis of one
license to so many inhabitants, derive only a small fraction of their
profits from the custom of the inhabitants. You find too in Folkestone,
as in most seaside places, a great number of secondary schools, drawing
scarcely a pupil from the neighbourhood. And on the other hand you will
find labour in both towns, coming in by a morning train and going out
at night. And neither of these instances is an extreme type. As you
come in towards London you will find the proportion of what I would
call non-local inhabitants increasing until in Brixton, Hoxton, or West
Ham you will find the really localized people a mere thread in the mass
of the population. Probably you find the thinnest sham of a community
in the London boroughs, where a clerk or a working man will shift his
sticks from one borough to another and move on to a third without ever
discovering what he has done. It is not that all these people do not
belong to a community, but that they belong to a larger community of a
new type which your administrators have failed to discover, and which
your working theory of local government ignores. This is a question I
have already written about with some completeness in a book published a
year or so ago, and called "Anticipations," and in that book you will
find a more lengthy exposition than I can give here and now of the
nature of this expansion. But the gist of the argument is that the
distribution of population, the method of aggregation in a community,
is determined almost entirely by the available means of locomotion. The
maximum size of any community of regular daily intercourse is
determined by the length of something that I may best suggest to your
mind by the phrase--the average possible suburban journey in an hour. A
town, for example, in which the only method of progression is on foot
along crowded ways, will be denser in population and smaller in area
than one with wide streets and a wheeled traffic, and that again will
be denser and compacter than one with numerous tubes, trams, and light
railways. Every improvement in locomotion forces the suburban ring of
houses outward, and relieves the pressure of the centre. Now, this
principle of expanding communities holds not only in regard to towns,
but also on the agricultural country side. There, also, facilities for
the more rapid collection of produce mean finally the expansion and
coalescence of what were previously economic unities.

Now if, while this expansion of the real communities goes on, you keep
to the old boundary lines, you will find an increasing proportion of
your population straddling those lines. You will find that many people
who once slept and worked and reared their children and worshipped and
bought all in one area, are now, as it were, delocalized; they have
overflowed their containing locality, and they live in one area, they
work in another, and they go to shop in a third. And the only way in
which you can localize them again is to expand your areas to their new

This is a change in human conditions that has been a very distinctive
event in the history of the past century, and it is still in progress.
But I think there is excellent reason for supposing that for practical
purposes this change, made by the railway and the motor, this
development of local locomotion, will reach a definite limit in the
next hundred years. We are witnessing the completion of a great
development that has altered the average possible suburban journey in
an hour from one of four or five miles to one of thirty miles, and I
doubt very much whether, when every tendency of expansion has been
reckoned with, this average hour journey will ever get much beyond
sixty or seventy miles an hour. A radius of four or five miles marked
the maximum size of the old community. A radius of a hundred miles will
certainly mark the maximum of the new community. And so it is no
effectual answer to my general argument to say that a revision of
administrative areas always has been and always will be a public
necessity. To a certain extent that always has been and always will be
true, but on a scale in no way comparable to the scale on which it is
true to-day, because of these particular inventions. This need in its
greatness is a peculiar feature of the present time, and a peculiar
problem of the present time. The municipal areas that were convenient
in the Babylonian, ancient Egyptian, or Roman empires were no larger
and no smaller than those that served the purpose of seventeenth-
century Europe, and I believe it is highly probable--I think the odds
are in favour of the belief--that the most convenient administrative
areas of the year 2000 will be no larger and no smaller than those for
many subsequent centuries. We are, in this respect, in the full flow of
a great and permanent transition. And the social and political aspect
of the change, is this steadily increasing proportion of people--more
especially in our suburban areas--who are, so far as our old divisions
go, delocalized. They represent, in fact, a community of a new sort,
the new great modern community, which is seeking to establish itself in
the room of the dwindling, little, highly localized communities of the

Now what are the practical consequences of this large and increasing
non-local element in your old local government areas? First, there is
this. The non-local people do not follow, have neither the time, nor
the freedom, nor the stimulus of sufficient interests to follow, local
politics. They are a sort of Outlanders. Local politics remain
therefore more and more in the hands of the dwindling section of people
whose interests really are circumscribed by the locality. These are
usually the small local tradesmen, the local building trade, sometimes
a doctor and always a solicitor; and the most energetic and active and
capable of these, and the one with the keenest eye to business, is
usually the solicitor. Whatever you put into the hands of a local
authority--education, lighting, communications--you necessarily put
into the hands of a group of this sort. Here and there, of course,
there may be variations; an organized labour vote may send in a
representative, or some gentleman of leisure and philanthropic tastes,
like Mr. Bernard Shaw, may confer distinction upon local deliberations,
but that will not alter the general state of affairs. The state of
affairs you must expect as the general rule, is local control by petty
local interests, a state of affairs that will certainly intensify in
the years to come, unless some revision of areas can be contrived that
will overtake the amplifying interests of the delocalized section of
the population.

Let me point out what is probably the result of a dim recognition of
this fact by the non-local population, and that is the extreme jealousy
of rates and municipal trading by the less localized paying classes in
the community. That is a question we Socialists, believing as we do all
of us at least in the abstract theory of municipalization, must
particularly consider. The easy exasperation of the £1000-a-year man at
the rates and his extreme patience under Imperial taxation is
incomprehensible, unless you recognize this fact of his delocalization.
Then at once it becomes clear. He penetrates the pretences of the
system to a certain extent; and he is infuriated by the fact of
taxation without representation, tempered by a mysteriously ineffective
voting paper left at his door. I myself, as one of the delocalized
class, will confess he has my sympathy. And those who believe in the
idea of the ultimate municipalization of most large industries, will
continue to find in this non-localized class, working especially
through the medium of Parliament, a persistent and effective
obstruction to all such projects, unless such a rectification of areas
can be contrived as will overtake the delocalization and the diffusion
of interests that has been and is still going on. I will confess that
it seems to me that this opposition between the localized and the non-
localized classes in the future, or to be more correct, the opposition
between the man whose ideas and life lie in a small area, and the man
whose ideas and life lie in a great area, is likely to give us that
dividing line in politics for which so many people are looking to-day.
For this question of areas has its Imperial as well as its local side.
You have already seen the Liberal party split upon the Transvaal
question; you yourselves have--I am told--experienced some slight
parallel tendency to fission, and it is interesting to note that this
was, after all, only another aspect of this great question of areas,
which I would now discuss in relation to municipal trading. The small
communities are fighting for existence and their dear little ways, the
synthetic great communities are fighting to come into existence, and to
absorb the small communities. And curiously enough at our last meeting
you heard Mr. Belloc, with delightful wit and subtlety, expounding the
very antithesis of the conceptions I am presenting to-night. Mr.
Belloc--who has evidently never read his Malthus--dreams of a beautiful
little village community of peasant proprietors, each sticking like a
barnacle to his own little bit of property, beautifully healthy and
simple and illiterate and Roman Catholic and _local_, local over
the ears. I am afraid the stars in their courses fight against such
pink and golden dreams. Every tramway, every new twopenny tube, every
light railway, every improvement in your omnibus services, in your
telephonic services, in your organization of credit, increases the
proportion of your delocalized class, and sucks the ebbing life from
your old communities into the veins of the new.

Well, you may say, no doubt this is right so far as it goes; existing
local government areas do not represent real countries, but still these
local government devices are of service for cutting up and distributing
administrative work. But that is exactly what they are not. They are
worse when you consider them in regard to function, than when you
consider them in regard to representation. Since our conceptions of
what constitutes a local administrative area were developed there has
arisen the problems of water supply and of organized sewage, of
railways, tramways, and communications generally, and of lighting and
telephonic intercourse; there hangs over us, though the average local
authority has no eyes to see it, the necessity of adapting our roads to
accommodate an increasing new traffic of soft-tyred vehicles, and it is
not improbable that heating by wholesale, either by gas or electricity,
will presently be also possible and desirable. For all these things we
need wide views, wide minds and wide areas, and still more do we want
wide views for the business of education that is now also coming into
the sphere of local administration.

It happens that I have had an object-lesson in this matter of local
government; and indeed it is my object-lesson that has led to this
paper to-night. I live upon the boundary line of the Sandgate Urban
District Board, a minute authority with a boundary line that appears to
have been determined originally about 1850 by mapping out the
wanderings of an intoxicated excursionist, and which--the only word is
interdigitates--with the borough of Folkestone, the Urban District of
Cheriton, and the borough of Hythe. Each of these bodies is by way of
being a tramway authority, each is at liberty to secure powers to set
up generating stations and supply electricity, each is a water
authority, and each does its own little drainage, and the possibilities
of friction and litigation are endless. The four places constitute an
urban area greatly in need of organized intercommunication, but the
four authorities have never been able to agree upon a scheme; and now
Folkestone is concerning itself with the project of a little internal
tramway system all of its very own. Sandgate has succumbed to the spell
of the South Eastern Railway Company, and has come into line with a
project that will necessitate a change of cars at the Folkestone
boundary. Folkestone has conceded its electrical supply to a company,
but Sandgate, on this issue, stands out gallantly for municipal
trading, and proposes to lay down a plant and set up a generating
station all by itself to supply a population of sixteen hundred people,
mostly indigent. In the meanwhile, Sandgate refuses its inhabitants the
elementary convenience of the electric light, and when, quite
inadvertently, I connected across the convolutions of the boundary with
the Folkestone supply, my life was darkened by the threat of impossible
litigation. But if Folkestone repudiates municipal enterprise in the
matter of lighting, I gather it does not do so in the matter of
telephones; and there has been talk of a neat little Folkestone
telephonic system competing against the National Telephone Company, a
compact little conversazione of perhaps a hundred people, rate
sustained. And how is the non-local inhabitant to come into these
things? The intelligent non-local inhabitant can only save his two or
three pounds of contribution to this folly or that by putting in twenty
or thirty pounds' worth of work in local politics. He has no local
connections, no local influence, he hasn't a chance against the
plumber. When the house I occupy was built, it was a mere interposition
of Providence that the drain did not go southward into a Folkestone
sewer instead of northward into Sandgate. Heaven knows what would have
happened if it had! I and my neighbours are by a special concession
permitted to have water from the Folkestone source. By incessant
vigilance we do, I believe, usually succeed in deducting the Folkestone
water rate from the Sandgate general rate which covers water, but the
wear and tear is enormous. However, these are details, dear to my
heart, but the merest marginal comments to my argument. The essential
fact is the impracticable silliness of these little divisions, the
waste of men, the waste of nervous energy, the waste of administrative
energy they involve. I am convinced that in the case of almost any
public service in the Folkestone district with our present boundaries,
the administrative waste will more than equal the profit of a private
company with parliamentary powers overriding our local authorities;
that if it is simply a choice between these little bodies and a company
(of the common type even), then in lighting, locomotion, and indeed in
almost any general public service, I would say, "give me the company."
With companies one may hope to deal later; they will not stand in the
way of developing saner areas, but an obstinate little authority
clutching everything in its hands, and led by a clerk naturally
interested in litigation, and who is also something of an expert in
political organization, will be an altogether harder thing to

This difficulty in greater or lesser degree is everywhere. In the case
of poor law administration in particular, and also in the case of
elementary education, the whole country displays what is another aspect
of this same general phenomenon of delocalization; the withdrawal of
all the wealthier people from the areas that are specializing as
industrial centres, and which have a rising population of poor workers,
to areas that are specializing as residential, and which have, if
anything, a falling proportion of poor labourers. In a place like West
Ham or Tottenham you find starved schools and an abundant delocalized
industrial population, and, by way of contrast, at Guildford or Farnham
for example, you will find enormously rich delocalized people,
belonging to the same great community as these workers, who pay only
the most trivial poor rate and school rate for the benefit of their few
immediate neighbours, and escape altogether from the burthens of West
Ham. By treating these places as separate communities you commit a
cruel injustice on the poor. So far as these things go, to claim
convenience for the existing areas is absurd. And it is becoming more
and more evident that with tramways, with lighting, with electric
heating and force supply, and with the supply of water to great
populations, there is an enormous advantage in large generating
stations and large areas; that these things must be handled in areas of
hundreds of square miles to be efficiently done.

In the case of secondary and higher education one discovers an equal
stress and incompatibility. At present, I must point out, even the
boundaries of the projected educational authority for London are
absurdly narrow. For example, in Folkestone, as in every town upon the
south coast, there are dozens of secondary schools that are purely
London schools, and filled with London boys and girls, and there are
endless great schools like Tonbridge and Charterhouse outside the
London area that are also London schools. If you get, for example, a
vigorous and efficient educational authority for London, and you raise
a fine educational system in the London area, you will find it
incomplete in an almost vital particular. You will give the prosperous
middle class and the upper class of London the alternative of good
teaching and bad air, or of what very probably, under tolerant local
authorities, will be relatively bad teaching and open air and exercise
out of London. You will have to tax this influential class of people
for the magnificent schools they in many cases will be unable to use.
As a consequence, you will find again all the difficulties of their
opposition, practically the same difficulties that arise so naturally
in the way of municipal trading. I would suggest that it would be not
only logical but politic, for the London Educational Authority, and not
the local authority, to control every secondary school wherever it
happened to be, which in an average of years drew more than half its
attendance from the London area. That, however, by the way. The point
more material to my argument here is that the educational organization
of the London area, the Thames valley, and the southern counties are
inseparable; that the question of local locomotion is rapidly becoming
impossible upon any smaller basis than such an area; that roads, light
railways, drainage, water, are all clamouring now to be dealt with on
the big scale; and that the more you cut this great area up, the more
you leave it in the hands of the localized men, the more you sin
against efficiency and the light.

I hope that you will consider this first part of my case proved. And
now I pass on to the more debatable question--the nature of the new
divisions that are to replace the old. I would suggest that this is a
matter only to be answered in detail by an exhaustive analysis of the
distribution of population in relation to economic standing, but I may
perhaps just indicate roughly what at a first glance I imagine would be
one suitable local government area. Let me remind you that some years
ago the Conservative party, in an outbreak of intelligence, did in a
sort of transitory way see something of what I have been trying to
express to-night, and created the London County Council--only to
quarrel with it and hate it and fear it ever since. Well, my proposal
would be to make a much greater area even than the London County, and
try to include in it the whole system of what I might call the London-
centred population. I believe If you were to take the whole valley of
the Thames and its tributaries and draw a line along its boundary
watershed, and then include with that Sussex and Surrey, and the east
coast counties up to the Wash, you would overtake and anticipate the
delocalizing process almost completely. You would have what has become,
or is becoming very rapidly, a new urban region, a complete community
of the new type, rich and poor and all sorts and aspects of economic
life together. I would suggest that watersheds make excellent
boundaries. Let me remind you that railways, tramways, drain-pipes,
water-pipes, and high-roads have this in common--they will not climb
over a watershed if they can possibly avoid doing so, and that
population and schools and poor tend always to distribute themselves in
accordance with these other things. You get the minimum of possible
overlap--such overlap as the spreading out of the great midland city to
meet London must some day cause--in this way. I would suggest that for
the regulation of sanitation, education, communications, industrial
control, and poor relief, and for the taxation for these purposes, this
area should be one, governed by one body, elected by local
constituencies that would make its activities independent of imperial
politics. I propose that this body should replace your county councils,
boards of guardians, urban and rural district councils, and all the
rest of them altogether; that you should elect it, perhaps triennially,
once for all. For any purpose of a more local sort, local water-supply
systems, local tramway systems--the tramways between Brighton and
Shoreham, for example--this body might delegate its powers to
subordinate committees, consisting, it has been suggested to me by Mrs.
Sidney Webb, of the members for the local constituencies concerned,
together with another member or so to safeguard the general interests,
or perhaps with an appointed expert or so in addition. These committees
would submit their detailed schemes for the approval of committees
appointed by the general body, and they would be controllable by that
body. However, there is no need for detailed scheming here and now. Let
us keep to the main idea.

I submit that such a mammoth municipality as this will be, on the one
hand, an enormously more efficient substitute for your present little
local government bodies, and on the other hand, will be able to take
over a considerable proportion of the detailed work and a considerable
proportion of the detailed machinery, of your overworked and too
extensive central machinery, your local government board, education
department, and board of trade. It will be great enough and fine enough
to revive the dying sentiment of local patriotism, and it will be a
body that will appeal to the ambition of the most energetic and capable
men in the community. They will be picked men, to a much greater extent
than are your guardians, your urban district councillors and town
councillors and so on, at present, because there will be perhaps a
hundred or a couple of hundred of them in the place of many thousands.
And I venture to think that in such a body you may confidently hope to
find a collective intelligence that may be pitted against any trust or
board of directors the world is likely to produce.

I suggest this body as a sort of concrete sample of the thing I have in
mind. I am quite open to hear and accept the most far-reaching
modification of this scheme; it is _the idea of the scale_ that I
wish particularly to enforce. Municipalize on this scale, I would say,
and I am with you altogether. Here is something distinctly and clearly
subserving that making of mankind upon which all sane social and
political proposals must ultimately base themselves. But to put more
power, and still more power in the hands of these petty little
administrative bodies that we have to-day, is, I submit, folly and
darkness. If the existing areas are to remain the same, then, on the
whole, my vote is against municipal trading, and on the whole, with
regard to light, to tramways and communications, to telephones, and
indeed to nearly all such public services, I would prefer to see these
things in the hands of companies, and I would stipulate only for the
maximum publicity for their accounts and the fullest provision for
detailed regulation through the Board of Trade.

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