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The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

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thirty years were a shadow, and he were again to fall into King's
arms at the door of the last and only log cabin left in life.
Time had become terribly short, and the sense of knowing so
little when others knew so much, crushed out hope.

He knew not in what new direction to turn, and sat at his desk,
idly pulling threads out of the tangled skein of science, to see
whether or why they aligned themselves. The commonest and oldest
toy he knew was the child's magnet, with which he had played
since babyhood, the most familiar of puzzles. He covered his desk
with magnets, and mapped out their lines of force by compass.
Then he read all the books he could find, and tried in vain to
makes his lines of force agree with theirs. The books confounded
him. He could not credit his own understanding. Here was
literally the most concrete fact in nature, next to gravitation
which it defied; a force which must have radiated lines of energy
without stop, since time began, if not longer, and which might
probably go on radiating after the sun should fall into the
earth, since no one knew why -- or how -- or what it radiated --
or even whether it radiated at all. Perhaps the earliest known of
all natural forces after the solar energies, it seemed to have
suggested no idea to any one until some mariner bethought himself
that it might serve for a pointer. Another thousand years passed
when it taught some other intelligent man to use it as a pump,
supply-pipe, sieve, or reservoir for collecting electricity,
still without knowing how it worked or what it was. For a
historian, the story of Faraday's experiments and the invention
of the dynamo passed belief; it revealed a condition of human
ignorance and helplessness before the commonest forces, such as
his mind refused to credit. He could not conceive but that some
one, somewhere, could tell him all about the magnet, if one could
but find the book -- although he had been forced to admit the
same helplessness in the face of gravitation, phosphorescence,
and odors; and he could imagine no reason why society should
treat radium as revolutionary in science when every infant, for
ages past, had seen the magnet doing what radium did; for surely
the kind of radiation mattered nothing compared with the energy
that radiated and the matter supplied for radiation. He dared not
venture into the complexities of chemistry, or microbes, so long
as this child's toy offered complexities that befogged his mind
beyond X-rays, and turned the atom into an endless variety of
pumps endlessly pumping an endless variety of ethers. He wanted
to ask Mme. Curie to invent a motor attachable to her salt of
radium, and pump its forces through it, as Faraday did with a
magnet. He figured the human mind itself as another radiating
matter through which man had always pumped a subtler fluid.

In all this futility, it was not the magnet or the rays or the
microbes that troubled him, or even his helplessness before the
forces. To that he was used from childhood. The magnet in its new
relation staggered his new education by its evidence of growing
complexity, and multiplicity, and even contradiction, in life. He
could not escape it; politics or science, the lesson was the
same, and at every step it blocked his path whichever way he
turned. He found it in politics; he ran against it in science; he
struck it in everyday life, as though he were still Adam in the
Garden of Eden between God who was unity, and Satan who was
complexity, with no means of deciding which was truth. The
problem was the same for McKinley as for Adam, and for the Senate
as for Satan. Hay was going to wreck on it, like King and Adams.

All one's life, one had struggled for unity, and unity had
always won. The National Government and the national unity had
overcome every resistance, and the Darwinian evolutionists were
triumphant over all the curates; yet the greater the unity and
the momentum, the worse became the complexity and the friction.
One had in vain bowed one's neck to railways, banks,
corporations, trusts, and even to the popular will as far as one
could understand it -- or even further; the multiplicity of unity
had steadily increased, was increasing, and threatened to
increase beyond reason. He had surrendered all his favorite
prejudices, and foresworn even the forms of criticism -- except
for his pet amusement, the Senate, which was a tonic or stimulant
necessary to healthy life; he had accepted uniformity and
Pteraspis and ice age and tramways and telephones; and now --
just when he was ready to hang the crowning garland on the brow
of a completed education -- science itself warned him to begin it
again from the beginning.

Maundering among the magnets he bethought himself that once, a
full generation earlier, he had begun active life by writing a
confession of geological faith at the bidding of Sir Charles
Lyell, and that it might be worth looking at if only to steady
his vision. He read it again, and thought it better than he could
do at sixty-three; but elderly minds always work loose. He saw
his doubts grown larger, and became curious to know what had been
said about them since 1870. The Geological Survey supplied stacks
of volumes, and reading for steady months; while, the longer he
read, the more he wondered, pondered, doubted what his delightful
old friend Sir Charles Lyell would have said about it.

Truly the animal that is to be trained to unity must be caught
young. Unity is vision; it must have been part of the process of
learning to see. The older the mind, the older its complexities,
and the further it looks, the more it sees, until even the stars
resolve themselves into multiples; yet the child will always see
but one. Adams asked whether geology since 1867 had drifted
towards unity or multiplicity, and he felt that the drift would
depend on the age of the man who drifted.

Seeking some impersonal point for measure, he turned to see
what had happened to his oldest friend and cousin the ganoid
fish, the Pteraspis of Ludlow and Wenlock, with whom he had
sported when geological life was young; as though they had all
remained together in time to act the Mask of Comus at Ludlow
Castle, and repeat "how charming is divine philosophy!" He felt
almost aggrieved to find Walcott so vigorously acting the part of
Comus as to have flung the ganoid all the way off to Colorado and
far back into the Lower Trenton limestone, making the Pteraspis
as modern as a Mississippi gar-pike by spawning an ancestry for
him, indefinitely more remote, in the dawn of known organic life.
A few thousand feet, more or less, of limestone were the
liveliest amusement to the ganoid, but they buried the
uniformitarian alive, under the weight of his own uniformity. Not
for all the ganoid fish that ever swam, would a discreet
historian dare to hazard even in secret an opinion about the
value of Natural Selection by Minute Changes under Uniform
Conditions, for he could know no more about it than most of his
neighbors who knew nothing; but natural selection that did not
select -- evolution finished before it began -- minute changes
that refused to change anything during the whole geological
record - survival of the highest order in a fauna which had no
origin -- uniformity under conditions which had disturbed
everything else in creation -- to an honest-meaning though
ignorant student who needed to prove Natural Selection and not
assume it, such sequence brought no peace. He wished to be shown
that changes in form caused evolution in force; that chemical or
mechanical energy had by natural selection and minute changes,
under uniform conditions, converted itself into thought. The
ganoid fish seemed to prove -- to him -- that it had selected
neither new form nor new force, but that the curates were right
in thinking that force could be increased in volume or raised in
intensity only by help of outside force. To him, the ganoid was a
huge perplexity, none the less because neither he nor the ganoid
troubled Darwinians, but the more because it helped to reveal
that Darwinism seemed to survive only in England. In vain he
asked what sort of evolution had taken its place. Almost any
doctrine seemed orthodox. Even sudden conversions due to mere
vital force acting on its own lines quite beyond mechanical
explanation, had cropped up again. A little more, and he would be
driven back on the old independence of species.

What the ontologist thought about it was his own affair, like
the theologist's views on theology, for complexity was nothing to
them; but to the historian who sought only the direction of
thought and had begun as the confident child of Darwin and Lyell
in 1867, the matter of direction seemed vital. Then he had
entered gaily the door of the glacial epoch, and had surveyed a
universe of unities and uniformities. In 1900 he entered a far
vaster universe, where all the old roads ran about in every
direction, overrunning, dividing, subdividing, stopping abruptly,
vanishing slowly, with side-paths that led nowhere, and sequences
that could not be proved. The active geologists had mostly become
specialists dealing with complexities far too technical for an
amateur, but the old formulas still seemed to serve for
beginners, as they had served when new.

So the cause of the glacial epoch remained at the mercy of
Lyell and Croll, although Geikie had split up the period into
half-a-dozen intermittent chills in recent geology and in the
northern hemisphere alone, while no geologist had ventured to
assert that the glaciation of the southern hemisphere could
possibly be referred to a horizon more remote. Continents still
rose wildly and wildly sank, though Professor Suess of Vienna had
written an epoch-making work, showing that continents were
anchored like crystals, and only oceans rose and sank. Lyell's
genial uniformity seemed genial still, for nothing had taken its
place, though, in the interval, granite had grown young, nothing
had been explained, and a bewildering system of huge overthrusts
had upset geological mechanics. The textbooks refused even to
discuss theories, frankly throwing up their hands and avowing
that progress depended on studying each rock as a law to itself.

Adams had no more to do with the correctness of the science
than the gar-pike or the Port Jackson shark, for its correctness
in no way concerned him, and only impertinence could lead him to
dispute or discuss the principles of any science; but the history
of the mind concerned the historian alone, and the historian had
no vital concern in anything else, for he found no change to
record in the body. In thought the Schools, like the Church,
raised ignorance to a faith and degraded dogma to heresy.
Evolution survived like the trilobites without evolving, and yet
the evolutionists held the whole field, and had even plucked up
courage to rebel against the Cossack ukase of Lord Kelvin
forbidding them to ask more than twenty million years for their
experiments. No doubt the geologists had always submitted sadly
to this last and utmost violence inflicted on them by the Pontiff
of Physical Religion in the effort to force unification of the
universe; they had protested with mild conviction that they could
not state the geological record in terms of time; they had
murmured Ignoramus under their breath; but they had never dared
to assert the Ignorabimus that lay on the tips of their tongues.

Yet the admission seemed close at hand. Evolution was becoming
change of form broken by freaks of force, and warped at times by
attractions affecting intelligence, twisted and tortured at other
times by sheer violence, cosmic, chemical, solar, supersensual,
electrolytic -- who knew what? -- defying science, if not denying
known law; and the wisest of men could but imitate the Church,
and invoke a "larger synthesis" to unify the anarchy again.
Historians have got into far too much trouble by following
schools of theology in their efforts to enlarge their synthesis,
that they should willingly repeat the process in science. For
human purposes a point must always be soon reached where larger
synthesis is suicide.

Politics and geology pointed alike to the larger synthesis of
rapidly increasing complexity; but still an elderly man knew that
the change might be only in himself. The admission cost nothing.
Any student, of any age, thinking only of a thought and not of
his thought, should delight in turning about and trying the
opposite motion, as he delights in the spring which brings even
to a tired and irritated statesman the larger synthesis of
peach-blooms, cherry-blossoms, and dogwood, to prove the folly of
fret. Every schoolboy knows that this sum of all knowledge never
saved him from whipping; mere years help nothing; King and Hay
and Adams could neither of them escape floundering through the
corridors of chaos that opened as they passed to the end; but
they could at least float with the stream if they only knew which
way the current ran. Adams would have liked to begin afresh with
the Limulus and Lepidosteus in the waters of Braintree, side by
side with Adamses and Quincys and Harvard College, all unchanged
and unchangeable since archaic time; but what purpose would it
serve? A seeker of truth -- or illusion -- would be none the less
restless, though a shark!

CHAPTER XXVII

TEUFELSDROCKH (1901)

INEVITABLE Paris beckoned, and resistance became more and more
futile as the store of years grew less; for the world contains no
other spot than Paris where education can be pursued from every
side. Even more vigorously than in the twelfth century, Paris
taught in the twentieth, with no other school approaching it for
variety of direction and energy of mind. Of the teaching in
detail, a man who knew only what accident had taught him in the
nineteenth century, could know next to nothing, since science had
got quite beyond his horizon, and mathematics had become the only
necessary language of thought; but one could play with the toys
of childhood, including Ming porcelain, salons of painting,
operas and theatres, beaux-arts and Gothic architecture, theology
and anarchy, in any jumble of time; or totter about with Joe
Stickney, talking Greek philosophy or recent poetry, or studying
"Louise" at the Opera Comique, or discussing the charm of youth
and the Seine with Bay Lodge and his exquisite young wife. Paris
remained Parisian in spite of change, mistress of herself though
China fell. Scores of artists -- sculptors and painters, poets
and dramatists, workers in gems and metals, designers in stuffs
and furniture -- hundreds of chemists, physicists, even
philosophers, philologists, physicians, and historians -- were at
work, a thousand times as actively as ever before, and the mass
and originality of their product would have swamped any previous
age, as it very nearly swamped its own; but the effect was one of
chaos, and Adams stood as helpless before it as before the chaos
of New York. His single thought was to keep in front of the
movement, and, if necessary, lead it to chaos, but never fall
behind. Only the young have time to linger in the rear.

The amusements of youth had to be abandoned, for not even
pugilism needs more staying-power than the labors of the
pale-faced student of the Latin Quarter in the haunts of
Montparnasse or Montmartre, where one must feel no fatigue at two
o'clock in the morning in a beer- garden even after four hours of
Mounet Sully at the Theatre Francais. In those branches,
education might be called closed. Fashion, too, could no longer
teach anything worth knowing to a man who, holding open the door
into the next world, regarded himself as merely looking round to
take a last glance of this. The glance was more amusing than any
he had known in his active life, but it was more -- infinitely
more -- chaotic and complex.

Still something remained to be done for education beyond the
chaos, and as usual the woman helped. For thirty years or
there-abouts, he had been repeating that he really must go to
Baireuth. Suddenly Mrs. Lodge appeared on the horizon and bade
him come. He joined them, parents and children, alert and eager
and appreciative as ever, at the little old town of
Rothenburg-on-the Taube, and they went on to the Baireuth
festival together.

Thirty years earlier, a Baireuth festival would have made an
immense stride in education, and the spirit of the master would
have opened a vast new world. In 1901 the effect was altogether
different from the spirit of the master. In 1876 the rococo
setting of Baireuth seemed the correct atmosphere for Siegfried
and Brunhilde, perhaps even for Parsifal. Baireuth was out of the
world, calm, contemplative, and remote. In 1901 the world had
altogether changed, and Wagner had become a part of it, as
familiar as Shakespeare or Bret Harte. The rococo element jarred.
Even the Hudson and the Susquehanna -- perhaps the Potomac itself
-- had often risen to drown out the gods of Walhalla, and one
could hardly listen to the "Gotterdammerung" in New York, among
throngs of intense young enthusiasts, without paroxysms of
nervous excitement that toned down to musical philistinism at
Baireuth, as though the gods were Bavarian composers. New York or
Paris might be whatever one pleased -- venal, sordid, vulgar --
but society nursed there, in the rottenness of its decay, certain
anarchistic ferments, and thought them proof of art. Perhaps they
were; and at all events, Wagner was chiefly responsible for them
as artistic emotion. New York knew better than Baireuth what
Wagner meant, and the frivolities of Paris had more than once
included the rising of the Seine to drown out the Etoile or
Montmartre, as well as the sorcery of ambition that casts spells
of enchantment on the hero. Paris still felt a subtile flattery
in the thought that the last great tragedy of gods and men would
surely happen there, while no one could conceive of its happening
at Baireuth, or would care if it did. Paris coquetted with
catastrophe as though it were an old mistress -- faced it almost
gaily as she had done so often, for they were acquainted since
Rome began to ravage Europe; while New York met it with a glow of
fascinated horror, like an inevitable earthquake, and heard
Ternina announce it with conviction that made nerves quiver and
thrill as they had long ceased to do under the accents of popular
oratory proclaiming popular virtue. Flattery had lost its charm,
but the Fluch-motif went home.

Adams had been carried with the tide till Brunhilde had become
a habit and Ternina an ally. He too had played with anarchy;
though not with socialism, which, to young men who nourished
artistic emotions under the dome of the Pantheon, seemed
hopelessly bourgeois, and lowest middle-class. Bay Lodge and Joe
Stickney had given birth to the wholly new and original party of
Conservative Christian Anarchists, to restore true poetry under
the inspiration of the "Gotterdammerung." Such a party saw no
inspiration in Baireuth, where landscape, history, and audience
were -- relatively -- stodgy, and where the only emotion was a
musical dilettantism that the master had abhorred.

Yet Baireuth still amused even a conservative Christian
anarchist who cared as little as "Grane, mein Ross," whether the
singers sang false, and who came only to learn what Wagner had
supposed himself to mean. This end attained as pleased Frau
Wagner and the Heiliger Geist, he was ready to go on; and the
Senator, yearning for sterner study, pointed to a haven at
Moscow. For years Adams had taught American youth never to travel
without a Senator who was useful even in America at times, but
indispensable in Russia where, in 1901, anarchists, even though
conservative and Christian, were ill-seen.

This wing of the anarchistic party consisted rigorously of but
two members, Adams and Bay Lodge. The conservative Christian
anarchist, as a party, drew life from Hegel and Schopenhauer
rightly understood. By the necessity of their philosophical
descent, each member of the fraternity denounced the other as
unequal to his lofty task and inadequate to grasp it. Of course,
no third member could be so much as considered, since the great
principle of contradiction could be expressed only by opposites;
and no agreement could be conceived, because anarchy, by
definition, must be chaos and collision, as in the kinetic theory
of a perfect gas. Doubtless this law of contradiction was itself
agreement, a restriction of personal liberty inconsistent with
freedom; but the "larger synthesis" admitted a limited agreement
provided it were strictly confined to the end of larger
contradiction. Thus the great end of all philosophy -- the
"larger synthesis" -- was attained, but the process was arduous,
and while Adams, as the older member, assumed to declare the
principle, Bay Lodge necessarily denied both the assumption and
the principle in order to assure its truth.

Adams proclaimed that in the last synthesis, order and anarchy
were one, but that the unity was chaos. As anarchist,
conservative and Christian, he had no motive or duty but to
attain the end; and, to hasten it, he was bound to accelerate
progress; to concentrate energy; to accumulate power; to multiply
and intensify forces; to reduce friction, increase velocity and
magnify momentum, partly because this was the mechanical law of
the universe as science explained it; but partly also in order to
get done with the present which artists and some others
complained of; and finally -- and chiefly -- because a rigorous
philosophy required it, in order to penetrate the beyond, and
satisfy man's destiny by reaching the largest synthesis in its
ultimate contradiction.

Of course the untaught critic instantly objected that this
scheme was neither conservative, Christian, nor anarchic, but
such objection meant only that the critic should begin his
education in any infant school in order to learn that anarchy
which should be logical would cease to be anarchic. To the
conservative Christian anarchist, the amiable doctrines of
Kropotkin were sentimental ideas of Russian mental inertia
covered with the name of anarchy merely to disguise their
innocence; and the outpourings of Elisee Reclus were ideals of
the French ouvrier, diluted with absinthe, resulting in a
bourgeois dream of order and inertia. Neither made a pretence of
anarchy except as a momentary stage towards order and unity.
Neither of them had formed any other conception of the universe
than what they had inherited from the priestly class to which
their minds obviously belonged. With them, as with the socialist,
communist, or collectivist, the mind that followed nature had no
relation; if anarchists needed order, they must go back to the
twelfth century where their thought had enjoyed its thousand
years of reign. The conservative Christian anarchist could have
no associate, no object, no faith except the nature of nature
itself; and his "larger synthesis" had only the fault of being so
supremely true that even the highest obligation of duty could
scarcely oblige Bay Lodge to deny it in order to prove it. Only
the self-evident truth that no philosophy of order -- except the
Church -- had ever satisfied the philosopher reconciled the
conservative Christian anarchist to prove his own.

Naturally these ideas were so far in advance of the age that
hardly more people could understand them than understood Wagner
or Hegel; for that matter, since the time of Socrates, wise men
have been mostly shy of claiming to understand anything; but such
refinements were Greek or German, and affected the practical
American but little. He admitted that, for the moment, the
darkness was dense. He could not affirm with confidence, even to
himself, that his "largest synthesis" would certainly turn out to
be chaos, since he would be equally obliged to deny the chaos.
The poet groped blindly for an emotion. The play of thought for
thought's sake had mostly ceased. The throb of fifty or a hundred
million steam horse-power, doubling every ten years, and already
more despotic than all the horses that ever lived, and all the
riders they ever carried, drowned rhyme and reason. No one was to
blame, for all were equally servants of the power, and worked
merely to increase it; but the conservative Christian anarchist
saw light.

Thus the student of Hegel prepared himself for a visit to
Russia in order to enlarge his "synthesis" -- and much he needed
it! In America all were conservative Christian anarchists; the
faith was national, racial, geographic. The true American had
never seen such supreme virtue in any of the innumerable shades
between social anarchy and social order as to mark it for
exclusively human and his own. He never had known a complete
union either in Church or State or thought, and had never seen
any need for it. The freedom gave him courage to meet any
contradiction, and intelligence enough to ignore it. Exactly the
opposite condition had marked Russian growth. The Czar's empire
was a phase of conservative Christian anarchy more interesting to
history than all the complex variety of American newspapers,
schools, trusts, sects, frauds, and Congressmen. These were
Nature -- pure and anarchic as the conservative Christian
anarchist saw Nature -- active, vibrating, mostly unconscious,
and quickly reacting on force; but, from the first glimpse one
caught from the sleeping-car window, in the early morning, of the
Polish Jew at the accidental railway station, in all his weird
horror, to the last vision of the Russian peasant, lighting his
candle and kissing his ikon before the railway Virgin in the
station at St. Petersburg, all was logical, conservative,
Christian and anarchic. Russia had nothing in common with any
ancient or modern world that history knew; she had been the
oldest source of all civilization in Europe, and had kept none
for herself; neither Europe nor Asia had ever known such a phase,
which seemed to fall into no line of evolution whatever, and was
as wonderful to the student of Gothic architecture in the twelfth
century, as to the student of the dynamo in the twentieth.
Studied in the dry light of conservative Christian anarchy,
Russia became luminous like the salt of radium; but with a
negative luminosity as though she were a substance whose energies
had been sucked out -- an inert residuum -- with movement of pure
inertia. From the car window one seemed to float past undulations
of nomad life -- herders deserted by their leaders and herds --
wandering waves stopped in their wanderings -- waiting for their
winds or warriors to return and lead them westward; tribes that
had camped, like Khirgis, for the season, and had lost the means
of motion without acquiring the habit of permanence. They waited
and suffered. As they stood they were out of place, and could
never have been normal. Their country acted as a sink of energy
like the Caspian Sea, and its surface kept the uniformity of ice
and snow. One Russian peasant kissing an ikon on a saint's day,
in the Kremlin, served for a hundred million. The student had no
need to study Wallace, or re-read Tolstoy or Tourguenieff or
Dostoiewski to refresh his memory of the most poignant analysis
of human inertia ever put in words; Gorky was more than enough:
Kropotkin answered every purpose.

The Russian people could never have changed -- could they ever
be changed? Could inertia of race, on such a scale, be broken up,
or take new form? Even in America, on an infinitely smaller
scale, the question was old and unanswered. All the so-called
primitive races, and some nearer survivals, had raised doubts
which persisted against the most obstinate convictions of
evolution. The Senator himself shook his head, and after
surveying Warsaw and Moscow to his content, went on to St.
Petersburg to ask questions of Mr. de Witte and Prince Khilkoff.
Their conversation added new doubts; for their efforts had been
immense, their expenditure enormous, and their results on the
people seemed to be uncertain as yet, even to themselves. Ten or
fifteen years of violent stimulus seemed resulting in nothing,
for, since 1898, Russia lagged.

The tourist-student, having duly reflected, asked the Senator
whether he should allow three generations, or more, to swing the
Russian people into the Western movement. The Senator seemed
disposed to ask for more. The student had nothing to say. For
him, all opinion founded on fact must be error, because the facts
can never be complete, and their relations must be always
infinite. Very likely, Russia would instantly become the most
brilliant constellation of human progress through all the ordered
stages of good; but meanwhile one might give a value as movement
of inertia to the mass, and assume a slow acceleration that
would, at the end of a generation, leave the gap between east and
west relatively the same.
This result reached, the Lodges thought their moral improvement
required a visit to Berlin; but forty years of varied emotions
had not deadened Adams's memories of Berlin, and he preferred, at
any cost, to escape new ones. When the Lodges started for
Germany, Adams took steamer for Sweden and landed happily, in a
day or two, at Stockholm.

Until the student is fairly sure that his problem is soluble, he
gains little by obstinately insisting on solving it. One might
doubt whether Mr. de Witte himself, or Prince Khilkoff, or any
Grand Duke, or the Emperor, knew much more about it than their
neighbors; and Adams was quite sure that, even in America, he
should listen with uncertain confidence to the views of any
Secretary of the Treasury, or railway president, or President of
the United States whom he had ever known, that should concern the
America of the next generation. The mere fact that any man should
dare to offer them would prove his incompetence to judge. Yet
Russia was too vast a force to be treated as an object of
unconcern. As inertia, if in no other way, she represented three-
fourths of the human race, and her movement might be the true
movement of the future, against the hasty and unsure acceleration
of America. No one could yet know what would best suit humanity,
and the tourist who carried his La Fontaine in mind, caught
himself talking as bear or as monkey according to the mirror he
held before him. "Am I satisfied? " he asked: --

"Moi? pourquoi non?
N'ai-je pas quatre pieds aussi bien que les autres?
Mon portrait jusqu'ici ne m'a rien reproche;
Mais pour mon frere l'ours, on ne l'a qu'ebauche;
Jamais, s'il me veut croire, il ne se fera peindre."

Granting that his brother the bear lacked perfection in
details, his own figure as monkey was not necessarily ideal or
decorative, nor was he in the least sure what form it might take
even in one generation. He had himself never ventured to dream of
three. No man could guess what the Daimler motor and X-rays would
do to him; but so much was sure; the monkey and motor were
terribly afraid of the bear; how much,- only a man close to their
foreign departments knew. As the monkey looked back across the
Baltic from the safe battlements of Stockholm, Russia looked more
portentous than from the Kremlin.

The image was that of the retreating ice-cap -- a wall of
archaic glacier, as fixed, as ancient, as eternal, as the wall of
archaic ice that blocked the ocean a few hundred miles to the
northward, and more likely to advance. Scandinavia had been ever
at its mercy. Europe had never changed. The imaginary line that
crossed the level continent from the Baltic to the Black Sea,
merely extended the northern barrier-line. The Hungarians and
Poles on one side still struggled against the Russian inertia of
race, and retained their own energies under the same conditions
that caused inertia across the frontier. Race ruled the
conditions; conditions hardly affected race; and yet no one could
tell the patient tourist what race was, or how it should be
known. History offered a feeble and delusive smile at the sound
of the word; evolutionists and ethnologists disputed its very
existence; no one knew what to make of it; yet, without the clue,
history was a nursery tale.

The Germans, Scandinavians, Poles and Hungarians, energetic as
they were, had never held their own against the heterogeneous
mass of inertia called Russia, and trembled with terror whenever
Russia moved. From Stockholm one looked back on it as though it
were an ice-sheet, and so had Stockholm watched it for centuries.
In contrast with the dreary forests of Russia and the stern
streets of St. Petersburg, Stockholm seemed a southern vision,
and Sweden lured the tourist on. Through a cheerful New England
landscape and bright autumn, he rambled northwards till he found
himself at Trondhjem and discovered Norway. Education crowded
upon him in immense masses as he triangulated these vast surfaces
of history about which he had lectured and read for a life-time.
When the historian fully realizes his ignorance -- which
sometimes happens to Americans -- he becomes even more tiresome
to himself than to others, because his naivete is irrepressible.
Adams could not get over his astonishment, though he had preached
the Norse doctrine all his life against the stupid and
beer-swilling Saxon boors whom Freeman loved, and who, to the
despair of science, produced Shakespeare. Mere contact with
Norway started voyages of thought, and, under their illusions, he
took the mail steamer to the north, and on September 14, reached
Hammerfest.

Frivolous amusement was hardly what one saw, through the
equinoctial twilight, peering at the flying tourist, down the
deep fiords, from dim patches of snow, where the last Laps and
reindeer were watching the mail-steamer thread the intricate
channels outside, as their ancestors had watched the first Norse
fishermen learn them in the succession of time; but it was not
the Laps, or the snow, or the arctic gloom, that impressed the
tourist, so much as the lights of an electro-magnetic
civilization and the stupefying contrast with Russia, which more
and more insisted on taking the first place in historical
interest. Nowhere had the new forces so vigorously corrected the
errors of the old, or so effectively redressed the balance of the
ecliptic. As one approached the end -- the spot where, seventy
years before, a futile Carlylean Teufelsdrockh had stopped to ask
futile questions of the silent infinite -- the infinite seemed to
have become loquacious, not to say familiar, chattering gossip in
one's ear. An installation of electric lighting and telephones
led tourists close up to the polar ice-cap, beyond the level of
the magnetic pole; and there the newer Teufelsdrockh sat dumb
with surprise, and glared at the permanent electric lights of
Hammerfest.

He had good reason -- better than the Teufelsdrockh of 1830, in
his liveliest Scotch imagination, ever dreamed, or mortal man had
ever told. At best, a week in these dim Northern seas, without
means of speech, within the Arctic circle, at the equinox, lent
itself to gravity if not to gloom; but only a week before,
breakfasting in the restaurant at Stockholm, his eye had caught,
across, the neighboring table, a headline in a Swedish newspaper,
announcing an attempt on the life of President McKinley, and from
Stockholm to Trondhjem, and so up the coast to Hammerfest, day
after day the news came, telling of the President's condition,
and the doings and sayings of Hay and Roosevelt, until at last a
little journal was cried on reaching some dim haven, announcing
the President's death a few hours before. To Adams the death of
McKinley and the advent of Roosevelt were not wholly void of
personal emotion, but this was little in comparison with his
depth of wonder at hearing hourly reports from his most intimate
friends, sent to him far within the realm of night, not to please
him, but to correct the faults of the solar system. The
electro-dynamo-social universe worked better than the sun.

No such strange chance had ever happened to a historian before,
and it upset for the moment his whole philosophy of conservative
anarchy. The acceleration was marvellous, and wholly in the lines
of unity. To recover his grasp of chaos, he must look back across
the gulf to Russia, and the gap seemed to have suddenly become an
abyss. Russia was infinitely distant. Yet the nightmare of the
glacial ice-cap still pressed down on him from the hills, in full
vision, and no one could look out on the dusky and oily sea that
lapped these spectral islands without consciousness that only a
day's steaming to the northward would bring him to the
ice-barrier, ready at any moment to advance, which obliged
tourists to stop where Laps and reindeer and Norse fishermen had
stopped so long ago that memory of their very origin was lost.
Adams had never before met a ne plus ultra, and knew not what to
make of it; but he felt at least the emotion of his Norwegian
fishermen ancestors, doubtless numbering hundreds of thousands,
jammed with their faces to the sea, the ice on the north, the
ice-cap of Russian inertia pressing from behind, and the ice a
trifling danger compared with the inertia. From the day they
first followed the retreating ice-cap round the North Cape, down
to the present moment, their problem was the same.

The new Teufelsdrockh, though considerably older than the old
one, saw no clearer into past or future, but he was fully as much
perplexed. From the archaic ice-barrier to the Caspian Sea, a
long line of division, permanent since ice and inertia first took
possession, divided his lines of force, with no relation to
climate or geography or soil.

The less a tourist knows, the fewer mistakes he need make, for
he will not expect himself to explain ignorance. A century ago he
carried letters and sought knowledge; to-day he knows that no one
knows; he needs too much and ignorance is learning. He wandered
south again, and came out at Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen, and Cologne.
A mere glance showed him that here was a Germany new to mankind.
Hamburg was almost as American as St. Louis. In forty years, the
green rusticity of Dusseldorf had taken on the sooty grime of
Birmingham. The Rhine in 1900 resembled the Rhine of 1858 much as
it resembled the Rhine of the Salic Franks. Cologne was a railway
centre that had completed its cathedral which bore an absent-
minded air of a cathedral of Chicago. The thirteenth century,
carefully strained-off, catalogued, and locked up, was visible to
tourists as a kind of Neanderthal, cave-dwelling, curiosity. The
Rhine was more modern than the Hudson, as might well be, since it
produced far more coal; but all this counted for little beside
the radical change in the lines of force.

In 1858 the whole plain of northern Europe, as well as the
Danube in the south, bore evident marks of being still the
prehistoric highway between Asia and the ocean. The trade-route
followed the old routes of invasion, and Cologne was a
resting-place between Warsaw and Flanders. Throughout northern
Germany, Russia was felt even more powerfully than France. In
1901 Russia had vanished, and not even France was felt; hardly
England or America. Coal alone was felt -- its stamp alone
pervaded the Rhine district and persisted to Picardy -- and the
stamp was the same as that of Birmingham and Pittsburgh. The
Rhine produced the same power, and the power produced the same
people -- the same mind -- the same impulse. For a man
sixty-three years old who had no hope of earning a living, these
three months of education were the most arduous he ever
attempted, and Russia was the most indigestible morsel he ever
met; but the sum of it, viewed from Cologne, seemed reasonable.
From Hammerfest to Cherbourg on one shore of the ocean -- from
Halifax to Norfolk on the other -- one great empire was ruled by
one great emperor -- Coal. Political and human jealousies might
tear it apart or divide it, but the power and the empire were
one. Unity had gained that ground. Beyond lay Russia, and there
an older, perhaps a surer, power, resting on the eternal law of
inertia, held its own.

As a personal matter, the relative value of the two powers
became more interesting every year; for the mass of Russian
inertia was moving irresistibly over China, and John Hay stood in
its path. As long as de Witte ruled, Hay was safe. Should de
Witte fall, Hay would totter. One could only sit down and watch
the doings of Mr. de Witte and Mr. de Plehve.

CHAPTER XXVIII

THE HEIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE (1902)

AMERICA has always taken tragedy lightly. Too busy to stop the
activity of their twenty-million-horse-power society, Americans
ignore tragic motives that would have overshadowed the Middle
Ages; and the world learns to regard assassination as a form of
hysteria, and death as neurosis, to be treated by a rest-cure.
Three hideous political murders, that would have fattened the
Eumenides with horror, have thrown scarcely a shadow on the White
House.

The year 1901 was a year of tragedy that seemed to Hay to
centre on himself. First came, in summer, the accidental death of
his son, Del Hay. Close on the tragedy of his son, followed that
of his chief, "all the more hideous that we were so sure of his
recovery." The world turned suddenly into a graveyard. "I have
acquired the funeral habit." "Nicolay is dying. I went to see him
yesterday, and he did not know me." Among the letters of
condolence showered upon him was one from Clarence King at
Pasadena, "heart-breaking in grace and tenderness -- the old King
manner"; and King himself "simply waiting till nature and the foe
have done their struggle." The tragedy of King impressed him
intensely: "There you have it in the face!" he said -- "the best
and brightest man of his generation, with talents immeasurably
beyond any of his contemporaries; with industry that has often
sickened me to witness it; with everything in his favor but blind
luck; hounded by disaster from his cradle, with none of the joy
of life to which he was entitled, dying at last, with nameless
suffering alone and uncared-for, in a California tavern. Ca vous
amuse, la vie?"

The first summons that met Adams, before he had even landed on
the pier at New York, December 29, was to Clarence King's
funeral, and from the funeral service he had no gayer road to
travel than that which led to Washington, where a revolution had
occurred that must in any case have made the men of his age
instantly old, but which, besides hurrying to the front the
generation that till then he had regarded as boys, could not fail
to break the social ties that had till then held them all
together.

Ca vous amuse, la vie? Honestly, the lessons of education were
becoming too trite. Hay himself, probably for the first time,
felt half glad that Roosevelt should want him to stay in office,
if only to save himself the trouble of quitting; but to Adams all
was pure loss. On that side, his education had been finished at
school. His friends in power were lost, and he knew life too well
to risk total wreck by trying to save them.

As far as concerned Roosevelt, the chance was hopeless. To them
at sixty-three, Roosevelt at forty-three could not be taken
seriously in his old character, and could not be recovered in his
new one. Power when wielded by abnormal energy is the most
serious of facts, and all Roosevelt's friends know that his
restless and combative energy was more than abnormal. Roosevelt,
more than any other man living within the range of notoriety,
showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate
matter -- the quality that mediaeval theology assigned to God --
he was pure act. With him wielding unmeasured power with
immeasurable energy, in the White House, the relation of age to
youth -- of teacher to pupil -- was altogether out of place; and
no other was possible. Even Hay's relation was a false one, while
Adams's ceased of itself. History's truths are little valuable
now; but human nature retains a few of its archaic, proverbial
laws, and the wisest courtier that ever lived -- Lucius Seneca
himself -- must have remained in some shade of doubt what
advantage he should get from the power of his friend and pupil
Nero Claudius, until, as a gentleman past sixty, he received
Nero's filial invitation to kill himself. Seneca closed the vast
circle of his knowledge by learning that a friend in power was a
friend lost -- a fact very much worth insisting upon -- while the
gray-headed moth that had fluttered through many
moth-administrations and had singed his wings more or less in
them all, though he now slept nine months out of the twelve,
acquired an instinct of self-preservation that kept him to the
north side of La Fayette Square, and, after a sufficient habitude
of Presidents and Senators, deterred him from hovering between
them.

Those who seek education in the paths of duty are always
deceived by the illusion that power in the hands of friends is an
advantage to them. As far as Adams could teach experience, he was
bound to warn them that he had found it an invariable disaster.
Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents had been always tragic,
chiefly as an almost insane excitement at first, and a worse
reaction afterwards; but also because no mind is so well balanced
as to bear the strain of seizing unlimited force without habit or
knowledge of it; and finding it disputed with him by hungry packs
of wolves and hounds whose lives depend on snatching the carrion.
Roosevelt enjoyed a singularly direct nature and honest intent,
but he lived naturally in restless agitation that would have worn
out most tempers in a month, and his first year of Presidency
showed chronic excitement that made a friend tremble. The effect
of unlimited power on limited mind is worth noting in Presidents
because it must represent the same process in society, and the
power of self-control must have limit somewhere in face of the
control of the infinite.

Here, education seemed to see its first and last lesson, but
this is a matter of psychology which lies far down in the depths
of history and of science; it will recur in other forms. The
personal lesson is different. Roosevelt was lost, but this seemed
no reason why Hay and Lodge should also be lost, yet the result
was mathematically certain. With Hay, it was only the steady
decline of strength, and the necessary economy of force; but with
Lodge it was law of politics. He could not help himself, for his
position as the President's friend and independent statesman at
once was false, and he must be unsure in both relations.

To a student, the importance of Cabot Lodge was great -- much
greater than that of the usual Senator -- but it hung on his
position in Massachusetts rather than on his control of Executive
patronage; and his standing in Massachusetts was highly insecure.
Nowhere in America was society so complex or change so rapid. No
doubt the Bostonian had always been noted for a certain chronic
irritability -- a sort of Bostonitis -- which, in its primitive
Puritan forms, seemed due to knowing too much of his neighbors,
and thinking too much of himself. Many years earlier William M.
Evarts had pointed out to Adams the impossibility of uniting New
England behind a New England leader. The trait led to good ends
-- such as admiration of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington --
but the virtue was exacting; for New England standards were
various, scarcely reconcilable with each other, and constantly
multiplying in number, until balance between them threatened to
become impossible. The old ones were quite difficult enough --
State Street and the banks exacted one stamp; the old
Congregational clergy another; Harvard College, poor in votes,
but rich in social influence, a third; the foreign element,
especially the Irish, held aloof, and seldom consented to approve
any one; the new socialist class, rapidly growing, promised to
become more exclusive than the Irish. New power was
disintegrating society, and setting independent centres of force
to work, until money had all it could do to hold the machine
together. No one could represent it faithfully as a whole.

Naturally, Adams's sympathies lay strongly with Lodge, but the
task of appreciation was much more difficult in his case than in
that of his chief friend and scholar, the President. As a type
for study, or a standard for education, Lodge was the more
interesting of the two. Roosevelts are born and never can be
taught; but Lodge was a creature of teaching -- Boston incarnate
-- the child of his local parentage; and while his ambition led
him to be more, the intent, though virtuous, was -- as Adams
admitted in his own case -- restless. An excellent talker, a
voracious reader, a ready wit, an accomplished orator, with a
clear mind and a powerful memory, he could never feel perfectly
at ease whatever leg he stood on, but shifted, sometimes with
painful strain of temper, from one sensitive muscle to another,
uncertain whether to pose as an uncompromising Yankee; or a pure
American; or a patriot in the still purer atmosphere of Irish,
Germans, or Jews; or a scholar and historian of Harvard College.
English to the last fibre of his thought -- saturated with
English literature, English tradition, English taste -- revolted
by every vice and by most virtues of Frenchmen and Germans, or
any other Continental standards, but at home and happy among the
vices and extravagances of Shakespeare -- standing first on the
social, then on the political foot; now worshipping, now banning;
shocked by the wanton display of immorality, but practicing the
license of political usage; sometimes bitter, often genial,
always intelligent -- Lodge had the singular merit of
interesting. The usual statesmen flocked in swarms like crows,
black and monotonous. Lodge's plumage was varied, and, like his
flight, harked back to race. He betrayed the consciousness that
he and his people had a past, if they dared but avow it, and
might have a future, if they could but divine it.

Adams, too, was Bostonian, and the Bostonian's uncertainty of
attitude was as natural to him as to Lodge. Only Bostonians can
understand Bostonians and thoroughly sympathize with the
inconsequences of the Boston mind. His theory and practice were
also at variance. He professed in theory equal distrust of
English thought, and called it a huge rag-bag of bric-a-brac,
sometimes precious but never sure. For him, only the Greek, the
Italian or the French standards had claims to respect, and the
barbarism of Shakespeare was as flagrant as to Voltaire; but his
theory never affected his practice. He knew that his artistic
standard was the illusion of his own mind; that English disorder
approached nearer to truth, if truth existed, than French measure
or Italian line, or German logic; he read his Shakespeare as the
Evangel of conservative Christian anarchy, neither very
conservative nor very Christian, but stupendously anarchistic. He
loved the atrocities of English art and society, as he loved
Charles Dickens and Miss Austen, not because of their example,
but because of their humor. He made no scruple of defying
sequence and denying consistency -- but he was not a Senator.

Double standards are inspiration to men of letters, but they
are apt to be fatal to politicians. Adams had no reason to care
whether his standards were popular or not, and no one else cared
more than he; but Roosevelt and Lodge were playing a game in
which they were always liable to find the shifty sands of
American opinion yield suddenly under their feet. With this game
an elderly friend had long before carried acquaintance as far as
he wished. There was nothing in it for him but the amusement of
the pugilist or acrobat. The larger study was lost in the
division of interests and the ambitions of fifth-rate men; but
foreign affairs dealt only with large units, and made personal
relation possible with Hay which could not be maintained with
Roosevelt or Lodge. As an affair of pure education the point is
worth notice from young men who are drawn into politics. The work
of domestic progress is done by masses of mechanical power --
steam, electric, furnace, or other -- which have to be controlled
by a score or two of individuals who have shown capacity to
manage it. The work of internal government has become the task of
controlling these men, who are socially as remote as heathen
gods, alone worth knowing, but never known, and who could tell
nothing of political value if one skinned them alive. Most of
them have nothing to tell, but are forces as dumb as their
dynamos, absorbed in the development or economy of power. They
are trustees for the public, and whenever society assumes the
property, it must confer on them that title; but the power will
remain as before, whoever manages it, and will then control
society without appeal, as it controls its stokers and pit-men.
Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of
forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of
force, massed about central power-houses. The conflict is no
longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the
men, and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces.

This is a moral that man strongly objects to admit, especially
in mediaeval pursuits like politics and poetry, nor is it worth
while for a teacher to insist upon it. What he insists upon is
only that in domestic politics, every one works for an immediate
object, commonly for some private job, and invariably in a near
horizon, while in foreign affairs the outlook is far ahead, over
a field as wide as the world. There the merest scholar could see
what he was doing. For history, international relations are the
only sure standards of movement; the only foundation for a map.
For this reason, Adams had always insisted that international
relation was the only sure base for a chart of history.

He cared little to convince any one of the correctness of his
view, but as teacher he was bound to explain it, and as friend he
found it convenient. The Secretary of State has always stood as
much alone as the historian. Required to look far ahead and round
hm, he measures forces unknown to party managers, and has found
Congress more or less hostile ever since Congress first sat. The
Secretary of State exists only to recognize the existence of a
world which Congress would rather ignore; of obligations which
Congress repudiates whenever it can; of bargains which Congress
distrusts and tries to turn to its advantage or to reject. Since
the first day the Senate existed, it has always intrigued against
the Secretary of State whenever the Secretary has been obliged to
extend his functions beyond the appointment of Consuls in
Senators' service.

This is a matter of history which any one may approve or
dispute as he will; but as education it gave new resources to an
old scholar, for it made of Hay the best schoolmaster since 1865.
Hay had become the most imposing figure ever known in the office.
He had an influence that no other Secretary of State ever
possessed, as he had a nation behind him such as history had
never imagined. He needed to write no state papers; he wanted no
help, and he stood far above counsel or advice; but he could
instruct an attentive scholar as no other teacher in the world
could do; and Adams sought only instruction -- wanted only to
chart the international channel for fifty years to come; to
triangulate the future; to obtain his dimension, and fix the
acceleration of movement in politics since the year 1200, as he
was trying to fix it in philosophy and physics; in finance and
force.

Hay had been so long at the head of foreign affairs that at
last the stream of events favored him. With infinite effort he
had achieved the astonishing diplomatic feat of inducing the
Senate, with only six negative votes, to permit Great Britain to
renounce, without equivalent, treaty rights which she had for
fifty years defended tooth and nail. This unprecedented triumph
in his negotiations with the Senate enabled him to carry one step
further his measures for general peace. About England the Senate
could make no further effective opposition, for England was won,
and Canada alone could give trouble. The next difficulty was with
France, and there the Senate blocked advance, but England assumed
the task, and, owing to political changes in France, effected the
object -- a combination which, as late as 1901, had been
visionary. The next, and far more difficult step, was to bring
Germany into the combine; while, at the end of the vista, most
unmanageable of all, Russia remained to be satisfied and
disarmed. This was the instinct of what might be named
McKinleyism; the system of combinations, consolidations, trusts,
realized at home, and realizable abroad.

With the system, a student nurtured in ideas of the eighteenth
century, had nothing to do, and made not the least presence of
meddling; but nothing forbade him to study, and he noticed to his
astonishment that this capitalistic scheme of combining
governments, like railways or furnaces, was in effect precisely
the socialist scheme of Jaures and Bebel. That John Hay, of all
men, should adopt a socialist policy seemed an idea more absurd
than conservative Christian anarchy, but paradox had become the
only orthodoxy in politics as in science. When one saw the field,
one realized that Hay could not help himself, nor could Bebel.
Either Germany must destroy England and France to create the next
inevitable unification as a system of continent against continent
-- or she must pool interests. Both schemes in turn were
attributed to the Kaiser; one or the other he would have to
choose; opinion was balanced doubtfully on their merits; but,
granting both to be feasible, Hay's and McKinley's statesmanship
turned on the point of persuading the Kaiser to join what might
be called the Coal-power combination, rather than build up the
only possible alternative, a Gun-power combination by merging
Germany in Russia. Thus Bebel and Jaures, McKinley and Hay, were
partners.

The problem was pretty -- even fascinating -- and, to an old
Civil-War private soldier in diplomacy, as rigorous as a
geometrical demonstration. As the last possible lesson in life,
it had all sorts of ultimate values. Unless education marches on
both feet -- theory and practice -- it risks going astray; and
Hay was probably the most accomplished master of both then
living. He knew not only the forces but also the men, and he had
no other thought than his policy.

Probably this was the moment of highest knowledge that a
scholar could ever reach. He had under his eyes the whole
educational staff of the Government at a time when the Government
had just reached the heights of highest activity and influence.
Since 1860, education had done its worst, under the greatest
masters and at enormous expense to the world, to train these two
minds to catch and comprehend every spring of international
action, not to speak of personal influence; and the entire
machinery of politics in several great countries had little to do
but supply the last and best information. Education could be
carried no further.

With its effects on Hay, Adams had nothing to do; but its
effects on himself were grotesque. Never had the proportions of
his ignorance looked so appalling. He seemed to know nothing --
to be groping in darkness -- to be falling forever in space; and
the worst depth consisted in the assurance, incredible as it
seemed, that no one knew more. He had, at least, the mechanical
assurance of certain values to guide him -- like the relative
intensities of his Coal-powers, and relative inertia of his
Gun-powers -- but he conceived that had he known, besides the
mechanics, every relative value of persons, as well as he knew
the inmost thoughts of his own Government -- had the Czar and the
Kaiser and the Mikado turned schoolmasters, like Hay, and taught
him all they knew, he would still have known nothing. They knew
nothing themselves. Only by comparison of their ignorance could
the student measure his own.

CHAPTER XXIX

THE ABYSS OF IGNORANCE (1902)

THE years hurried past, and gave hardly time to note their
work. Three or four months, though big with change, come to an
end before the mind can catch up with it. Winter vanished; spring
burst into flower; and again Paris opened its arms, though not
for long. Mr. Cameron came over, and took the castle of
Inverlochy for three months, which he summoned his friends to
garrison. Lochaber seldom laughs, except for its children, such
as Camerons, McDonalds, Campbells and other products of the mist;
but in the summer of 1902 Scotland put on fewer airs of coquetry
than usual. Since the terrible harvest of 1879 which one had
watched sprouting on its stalks on the Shropshire hillsides,
nothing had equalled the gloom. Even when the victims fled to
Switzerland, they found the Lake of Geneva and the Rhine not much
gayer, and Carlsruhe no more restful than Paris; until at last,
in desperation, one drifted back to the Avenue of the Bois de
Boulogne, and, like the Cuckoo, dropped into the nest of a better
citizen. Diplomacy has its uses. Reynolds Hitt, transferred to
Berlin, abandoned his attic to Adams, and there, for long summers
to come, he hid in ignorance and silence.

Life at last managed of its own accord to settle itself into a
working arrangement. After so many years of effort to find one's
drift, the drift found the seeker, and slowly swept him forward
and back, with a steady progress oceanwards. Such lessons as
summer taught, winter tested, and one had only to watch the
apparent movement of the stars in order to guess one's
declination. The process is possible only for men who have
exhausted auto-motion. Adams never knew why, knowing nothing of
Faraday, he began to mimic Faraday's trick of seeing lines of
force all about him, where he had always seen lines of will.
Perhaps the effect of knowing no mathematics is to leave the mind
to imagine figures -- images -- phantoms; one's mind is a watery
mirror at best; but, once conceived, the image became rapidly
simple, and the lines of force presented themselves as lines of
attraction. Repulsions counted only as battle of attractions. By
this path, the mind stepped into the mechanical theory of the
universe before knowing it, and entered a distinct new phase of
education.

This was the work of the dynamo and the Virgin of Chartres.
Like his masters, since thought began, he was handicapped by the
eternal mystery of Force -- the sink of all science. For
thousands of years in history, he found that Force had been felt
as occult attraction -- love of God and lust for power in a
future life. After 1500, when this attraction began to decline,
philosophers fell back on some vis a tergo -- instinct of danger
from behind, like Darwin's survival of the fittest; and one of
the greatest minds, between Descartes and Newton -- Pascal -- saw
the master-motor of man in ennui, which was also scientific: "I
have often said that all the troubles of man come from his not
knowing how to sit still." Mere restlessness forces action. "So
passes the whole of life. We combat obstacles in order to get
repose, and, when got, the repose is insupportable; for we think
either of the troubles we have, or of those that threaten us; and
even if we felt safe on every side, ennui would of its own accord
spring up from the depths of the heart where it is rooted by
nature, and would fill the mind with its venom."

"If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast."

Ennui, like Natural Selection, accounted for change, but failed
to account for direction of change. For that, an attractive force
was essential; a force from outside; a shaping influence. Pascal
and all the old philosophies called this outside force God or
Gods. Caring but little for the name, and fixed only on tracing
the Force, Adams had gone straight to the Virgin at Chartres, and
asked her to show him God, face to face, as she did for St.
Bernard. She replied, kindly as ever, as though she were still
the young mother of to-day, with a sort of patient pity for
masculine dulness: "My dear outcast, what is it you seek? This is
the Church of Christ! If you seek him through me, you are
welcome, sinner or saint; but he and I are one. We are Love! We
have little or nothing to do with God's other energies which are
infinite, and concern us the less because our interest is only in
man, and the infinite is not knowable to man. Yet if you are
troubled by your ignorance, you see how I am surrounded by the
masters of the schools! Ask them!"

The answer sounded singularly like the usual answer of British
science which had repeated since Bacon that one must not try to
know the unknowable, though one was quite powerless to ignore it;
but the Virgin carried more conviction, for her feminine lack of
interest in all perfections except her own was honester than the
formal phrase of science; since nothing was easier than to follow
her advice, and turn to Thomas Aquinas, who, unlike modern
physicists, answered at once and plainly: "To me," said St.
Thomas, "Christ and the Mother are one Force -- Love -- simple,
single, and sufficient for all human wants; but Love is a human
interest which acts even on man so partially that you and I, as
philosophers, need expect no share in it. Therefore we turn to
Christ and the Schools who represent all other Force. We deal
with Multiplicity and call it God. After the Virgin has redeemed
by her personal Force as Love all that is redeemable in man, the
Schools embrace the rest, and give it Form, Unity, and Motive."

This chart of Force was more easily studied than any other
possible scheme, for one had but to do what the Church was always
promising to do -- abolish in one flash of lightning not only
man, but also the Church itself, the earth, the other planets,
and the sun, in order to clear the air; without affecting
mediaeval science. The student felt warranted in doing what the
Church threatened -- abolishing his solar system altogether -- in
order to look at God as actual; continuous movement, universal
cause, and interchangeable force. This was pantheism, but the
Schools were pantheist; at least as pantheistic as the Energetik
of the Germans; and their deity was the ultimate energy, whose
thought and act were one.

Rid of man and his mind, the universe of Thomas Aquinas seemed
rather more scientific than that of Haeckel or Ernst Mach.
Contradiction for contradiction, Attraction for attraction,
Energy for energy, St. Thomas's idea of God had merits. Modern
science offered not a vestige of proof, or a theory of connection
between its forces, or any scheme of reconciliation between
thought and mechanics; while St. Thomas at least linked together
the joints of his machine. As far as a superficial student could
follow, the thirteenth century supposed mind to be a mode of
force directly derived from the intelligent prime motor, and the
cause of all form and sequence in the universe -- therefore the
only proof of unity. Without thought in the unit, there could be
no unity; without unity no orderly sequence or ordered society.
Thought alone was Form. Mind and Unity flourished or perished
together.

This education startled even a man who had dabbled in fifty
educations all over the world; for, if he were obliged to insist
on a Universe, he seemed driven to the Church. Modern science
guaranteed no unity. The student seemed to feel himself, like all
his predecessors, caught, trapped, meshed in this eternal
drag-net of religion.

In practice the student escapes this dilemma in two ways: the
first is that of ignoring it, as one escapes most dilemmas; the
second is that the Church rejects pantheism as worse than
atheism, and will have nothing to do with the pantheist at any
price. In wandering through the forests of ignorance, one
necessarily fell upon the famous old bear that scared children at
play; but, even had the animal shown more logic than its victim,
one had learned from Socrates to distrust, above all other traps,
the trap of logic -- the mirror of the mind. Yet the search for a
unit of force led into catacombs of thought where hundreds of
thousands of educations had found their end. Generation after
generation of painful and honest-minded scholars had been content
to stay in these labyrinths forever, pursuing ignorance in
silence, in company with the most famous teachers of all time.
Not one of them had ever found a logical highroad of escape.

Adams cared little whether he escaped or not, but he felt clear
that he could not stop there, even to enjoy the society of
Spinoza and Thomas Aquinas. True, the Church alone had asserted
unity with any conviction, and the historian alone knew what
oceans of blood and treasure the assertion had cost; but the only
honest alternative to affirming unity was to deny it; and the
denial would require a new education. At sixty-five years old a
new education promised hardly more than the old.
Possibly the modern legislator or magistrate might no longer know
enough to treat as the Church did the man who denied unity,
unless the denial took the form of a bomb; but no teacher would
know how to explain what he thought he meant by denying unity.
Society would certainly punish the denial if ever any one learned
enough to understand it. Philosophers, as a rule, cared little
what principles society affirmed or denied, since the philosopher
commonly held that though he might sometimes be right by good
luck on some one point, no complex of individual opinions could
possibly be anything but wrong; yet, supposing society to be
ignored, the philosopher was no further forward. Nihilism had no
bottom. For thousands of years every philosopher had stood on the
shore of this sunless sea, diving for pearls and never finding
them. All had seen that, since they could not find bottom, they
must assume it. The Church claimed to have found it, but, since
1450, motives for agreeing on some new assumption of Unity,
broader and deeper than that of the Church, had doubled in force
until even the universities and schools, like the Church and
State, seemed about to be driven into an attempt to educate,
though specially forbidden to do it.

Like most of his generation, Adams had taken the word of
science that the new unit was as good as found. It would not be
an intelligence -- probably not even a consciousness -- but it
would serve. He passed sixty years waiting for it, and at the end
of that time, on reviewing the ground, he was led to think that
the final synthesis of science and its ultimate triumph was the
kinetic theory of gases; which seemed to cover all motion in
space, and to furnish the measure of time. So far as he
understood it, the theory asserted that any portion of space is
occupied by molecules of gas, flying in right lines at velocities
varying up to a mile in a second, and colliding with each other
at intervals varying up to 17,750,000 times in a second. To this
analysis -- if one understood it right -- all matter whatever was
reducible, and the only difference of opinion in science regarded
the doubt whether a still deeper analysis would reduce the atom
of gas to pure motion.

Thus, unless one mistook the meaning of motion, which might
well be, the scientific synthesis commonly called Unity was the
scientific analysis commonly called Multiplicity. The two things
were the same, all forms being shifting phases of motion.
Granting this ocean of colliding atoms, the last hope of
humanity, what happened if one dropped the sounder into the abyss
-- let it go -- frankly gave up Unity altogether? What was Unity?
Why was one to be forced to affirm it?

Here everybody flatly refused help. Science seemed content with
its old phrase of "larger synthesis," which was well enough for
science, but meant chaos for man. One would have been glad to
stop and ask no more, but the anarchist bomb bade one go on, and
the bomb is a powerful persuader. One could not stop, even to
enjoy the charms of a perfect gas colliding seventeen million
times in a second, much like an automobile in Paris. Science
itself had been crowded so close to the edge of the abyss that
its attempts to escape were as metaphysical as the leap, while an
ignorant old man felt no motive for trying to escape, seeing that
the only escape possible lay in the form of vis a tergo commonly
called Death. He got out his Descartes again; dipped into his
Hume and Berkeley; wrestled anew with his Kant; pondered solemnly
over his Hegel and Schopenhauer and Hartmann; strayed gaily away
with his Greeks -- all merely to ask what Unity meant, and what
happened when one denied it.

Apparently one never denied it. Every philosopher, whether sane
or insane, naturally affirmed it. The utmost flight of anarchy
seemed to have stopped with the assertion of two principles, and
even these fitted into each other, like good and evil, light and
darkness. Pessimism itself, black as it might be painted, had
been content to turn the universe of contradictions into the
human thought as one Will, and treat it as representation.
Metaphysics insisted on treating the universe as one thought or
treating thought as one universe; and philosophers agreed, like a
kinetic gas, that the universe could be known only as motion of
mind, and therefore as unity. One could know it only as one's
self; it was psychology.

Of all forms of pessimism, the metaphysical form was, for a
historian, the least enticing. Of all studies, the one he would
rather have avoided was that of his own mind. He knew no tragedy
so heartrending as introspection, and the more, because -- as
Mephistopheles said of Marguerite -- he was not the first. Nearly
all the highest intelligence known to history had drowned itself
in the reflection of its own thought, and the bovine survivors
had rudely told the truth about it, without affecting the
intelligent. One's own time had not been exempt. Even since 1870
friends by scores had fallen victims to it. Within
five-and-twenty years, a new library had grown out of it. Harvard
College was a focus of the study; France supported hospitals for
it; England published magazines of it. Nothing was easier than to
take one's mind in one's hand, and ask one's psychological
friends what they made of it, and the more because it mattered so
little to either party, since their minds, whatever they were,
had pretty nearly ceased to reflect, and let them do what they
liked with the small remnant, they could scarcely do anything
very new with it. All one asked was to learn what they hoped to
do.

Unfortunately the pursuit of ignorance in silence had, by this
time, led the weary pilgrim into such mountains of ignorance that
he could no longer see any path whatever, and could not even
understand a signpost. He failed to fathom the depths of the new
psychology, which proved to him that, on that side as on the
mathematical side, his power of thought was atrophied, if,
indeed, it ever existed. Since he could not fathom the science,
he could only ask the simplest of questions: Did the new
psychology hold that the IvXn -- soul or mind -- was or was not a
unit? He gathered from the books that the psychologists had, in a
few cases, distinguished several personalities in the same mind,
each conscious and constant, individual and exclusive. The fact
seemed scarcely surprising, since it had been a habit of mind
from earliest recorded time, and equally familiar to the last
acquaintance who had taken a drug or caught a fever, or eaten a
Welsh rarebit before bed; for surely no one could follow the
action of a vivid dream, and still need to be told that the
actors evoked by his mind were not himself, but quite unknown to
all he had ever recognized as self. The new psychology went
further, and seemed convinced that it had actually split
personality not only into dualism, but also into complex groups,
like telephonic centres and systems, that might be isolated and
called up at will, and whose physical action might be occult in
the sense of strangeness to any known form of force. Dualism
seemed to have become as common as binary stars. Alternating
personalities turned up constantly, even among one's friends. The
facts seemed certain, or at least as certain as other facts; all
they needed was explanation.

This was not the business of the searcher of ignorance, who
felt himself in no way responsible for causes. To his mind, the
compound IvXn took at once the form of a bicycle-rider,
mechanically balancing himself by inhibiting all his inferior
personalities, and sure to fall into the sub-conscious chaos
below, if one of his inferior personalities got on top. The only
absolute truth was the sub-conscious chaos below. which every one
could feel when he sought it.

Whether the psychologists admitted it or not, mattered little
to the student who, by the law of his profession, was engaged in
studying his own mind. On him, the effect was surprising. He woke
up with a shudder as though he had himself fallen off his
bicycle. If his mind were really this sort of magnet,
mechanically dispersing its lines of force when it went to sleep,
and mechanically orienting them when it woke up -- which was
normal, the dispersion or orientation? The mind, like the body,
kept its unity unless it happened to lose balance, but the
professor of physics, who slipped on a pavement and hurt himself,
knew no more than an idiot what knocked him down, though he did
know -- what the idiot could hardly do -- that his normal
condition was idiocy, or want of balance, and that his sanity was
unstable artifice. His normal thought was dispersion, sleep,
dream, inconsequence; the simultaneous action of different
thought-centres without central control. His artificial balance
was acquired habit. He was an acrobat, with a dwarf on his back,
crossing a chasm on a slack-rope, and commonly breaking his neck.

By that path of newest science, one saw no unity ahead --
nothing but a dissolving mind -- and the historian felt himself
driven back on thought as one continuous Force, without Race,
Sex, School, Country, or Church. This has been always the fate of
rigorous thinkers, and has always succeeded in making them
famous, as it did Gibbon, Buckle, and Auguste Comte. Their method
made what progress the science of history knew, which was little
enough, but they did at last fix the law that, if history ever
meant to correct the errors she made in detail, she must agree on
a scale for the whole. Every local historian might defy this law
till history ended, but its necessity would be the same for man
as for space or time or force, and without it the historian would
always remain a child in science.

Any schoolboy could see that man as a force must be measured by
motion, from a fixed point. Psychology helped here by suggesting
a unit -- the point of history when man held the highest idea of
himself as a unit in a unified universe. Eight or ten years of
study had led Adams to think he might use the century 1150-1250,
expressed in Amiens Cathedral and the Works of Thomas Aquinas, as
the unit from which he might measure motion down to his own time,
without assuming anything as true or untrue, except relation. The
movement might be studied at once in philosophy and mechanics.
Setting himself to the task, he began a volume which he mentally
knew as "Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres: a Study of
Thirteenth-Century Unity." From that point he proposed to fix a
position for himself, which he could label: "The Education of
Henry Adams: a Study of Twentieth-Century Multiplicity." With the
help of these two points of relation, he hoped to project his
lines forward and backward indefinitely, subject to correction
from any one who should know better. Thereupon, he sailed for
home.

CHAPTER XXX

VIS INERTIAE (1903)

WASHINGTON was always amusing, but in 1900, as in 1800, its
chief interest lay in its distance from New York. The movement of
New York had become planetary -- beyond control -- while the task
of Washington, in 1900 as in 1800, was to control it. The success
of Washington in the past century promised ill for its success in
the next.

To a student who had passed the best years of his life in
pondering over the political philosophy of Jefferson, Gallatin,
and Madison, the problem that Roosevelt took in hand seemed alive
with historical interest, but it would need at least another
half-century to show its results. As yet, one could not measure
the forces or their arrangement; the forces had not even aligned
themselves except in foreign affairs; and there one turned to
seek the channel of wisdom as naturally as though Washington did
not exist. The President could do nothing effectual in foreign
affairs, but at least he could see something of the field.

Hay had reached the summit of his career, and saw himself on
the edge of wreck. Committed to the task of keeping China "open,"
he saw China about to be shut. Almost alone in the world, he
represented the "open door," and could not escape being crushed
by it. Yet luck had been with him in full tide. Though Sir Julian
Pauncefote had died in May, 1902, after carrying out tasks that
filled an ex-private secretary of 1861 with open-mouthed
astonishment, Hay had been helped by the appointment of Michael
Herbert as his successor, who counted for double the value of an
ordinary diplomat. To reduce friction is the chief use of
friendship, and in politics the loss by friction is outrageous.
To Herbert and his wife, the small knot of houses that seemed to
give a vague unity to foreign affairs opened their doors and
their hearts, for the Herberts were already at home there; and
this personal sympathy prolonged Hay's life, for it not only
eased the effort of endurance, but it also led directly to a
revolution in Germany. Down to that moment, the Kaiser, rightly
or wrongly, had counted as the ally of the Czar in all matters
relating to the East. Holleben and Cassini were taken to be a
single force in Eastern affairs, and this supposed alliance gave
Hay no little anxiety and some trouble. Suddenly Holleben, who
seemed to have had no thought but to obey with almost agonized
anxiety the least hint of the Kaiser's will, received a telegram
ordering him to pretext illness and come home, which he obeyed
within four-and-twenty hours. The ways of the German Foreign
Office had been always abrupt, not to say ruthless, towards its
agents, and yet commonly some discontent had been shown as
excuse; but, in this case, no cause was guessed for Holleben's
disgrace except the Kaiser's wish to have a personal
representative at Washington. Breaking down all precedent, he
sent Speck von Sternburg to counterbalance Herbert.

Welcome as Speck was in the same social intimacy, and valuable
as his presence was to Hay, the personal gain was trifling
compared with the political. Of Hay's official tasks, one knew no
more than any newspaper reporter did, but of one's own diplomatic
education the successive steps had become strides. The scholar
was studying, not on Hay's account, but on his own. He had seen
Hay, in 1898, bring England into his combine; he had seen the
steady movement which was to bring France back into an Atlantic
system; and now he saw suddenly the dramatic swing of Germany
towards the west -- the movement of all others nearest
mathematical certainty. Whether the Kaiser meant it or not, he
gave the effect of meaning to assert his independence of Russia,
and to Hay this change of front had enormous value. The least was
that it seemed to isolate Cassini, and unmask the Russian
movement which became more threatening every month as the
Manchurian scheme had to be revealed.

Of course the student saw whole continents of study opened to
him by the Kaiser's coup d'etat. Carefully as he had tried to
follow the Kaiser's career, he had never suspected such
refinement of policy, which raised his opinion of the Kaiser's
ability to the highest point, and altogether upset the centre of
statesmanship. That Germany could be so quickly detached from
separate objects and brought into an Atlantic system seemed a
paradox more paradoxical than any that one's education had yet
offered, though it had offered little but paradox. If Germany
could be held there, a century of friction would be saved. No
price would be too great for such an object; although no price
could probably be wrung out of Congress as equivalent for it. The
Kaiser, by one personal act of energy, freed Hay's hands so
completely that he saw his problems simplified to Russia alone.

Naturally Russia was a problem ten times as difficult. The
history of Europe for two hundred years had accomplished little
but to state one or two sides of the Russian problem. One's year
of Berlin in youth, though it taught no Civil Law, had opened
one's eyes to the Russian enigma, and both German and French
historians had labored over its proportions with a sort of
fascinated horror. Germany, of all countries, was most vitally
concerned in it; but even a cave-dweller in La Fayette Square,
seeking only a measure of motion since the Crusades, saw before
his eyes, in the spring of 1903, a survey of future order or
anarchy that would exhaust the power of his telescopes and defy
the accuracy of his theodolites.

The drama had become passionately interesting and grew every
day more Byzantine; for the Russian Government itself showed
clear signs of dislocation, and the orders of Lamsdorf and de
Witte were reversed when applied in Manchuria. Historians and
students should have no sympathies or antipathies, but Adams had
private reasons for wishing well to the Czar and his people. At
much length, in several labored chapters of history, he had told
how the personal friendliness of the Czar Alexander I, in 1810,
saved the fortunes of J. Q. Adams. and opened to him the
brilliant diplomatic career that ended in the White House. Even
in his own effaced existence he had reasons, not altogether
trivial, for gratitude to the Czar Alexander II, whose firm
neutrality had saved him some terribly anxious days and nights in
1862; while he had seen enough of Russia to sympathize warmly
with Prince Khilkoff's railways and de Witte's industries. The
last and highest triumph of history would, to his mind, be the
bringing of Russia into the Atlantic combine, and the just and
fair allotment of the whole world among the regulated activities
of the universe. At the rate of unification since 1840, this end
should be possible within another sixty years; and, in foresight
of that point, Adams could already finish -- provisionally -- his
chart of international unity; but, for the moment, the gravest
doubts and ignorance covered the whole field. No one -- Czar or
diplomat, Kaiser or Mikado -- seemed to know anything. Through
individual Russians one could always see with ease, for their
diplomacy never suggested depth; and perhaps Hay protected
Cassini for the very reason that Cassini could not disguise an
emotion, and never failed to betray that, in setting the enormous
bulk of Russian inertia to roll over China, he regretted
infinitely that he should have to roll it over Hay too. He would
almost rather have rolled it over de Witte and Lamsdorf. His
political philosophy, like that of all Russians, seemed fixed in
the single idea that Russia must fatally roll -- must, by her
irresistible inertia, crush whatever stood in her way.

For Hay and his pooling policy, inherited from McKinley, the
fatalism of Russian inertia meant the failure of American
intensity. When Russia rolled over a neighboring people, she
absorbed their energies in her own movement of custom and race
which neither Czar nor peasant could convert, or wished to
convert, into any Western equivalent. In 1903 Hay saw Russia
knocking away the last blocks that held back the launch of this
huge mass into the China Sea. The vast force of inertia known as
China was to be united with the huge bulk of Russia in a single
mass which no amount of new force could henceforward deflect. Had
the Russian Government, with the sharpest sense of enlightenment,
employed scores of de Wittes and Khilkoffs, and borrowed all the
resources of Europe, it could not have lifted such a weight; and
had no idea of trying.

These were the positions charted on the map of political unity
by an insect in Washington in the spring of 1903; and they seemed
to him fixed. Russia held Europe and America in her grasp, and
Cassini held Hay in his. The Siberian Railway offered checkmate
to all possible opposition. Japan must make the best terms she
could; England must go on receding; America and Germany would
look on at the avalanche. The wall of Russian inertia that barred
Europe across the Baltic, would bar America across the Pacific;
and Hay's policy of the open door would infallibly fail.

Thus the game seemed lost, in spite of the Kaiser's brilliant
stroke, and the movement of Russia eastward must drag Germany
after it by its mere mass. To the humble student, the loss of
Hay's game affected only Hay; for himself, the game -- not the
stakes -- was the chief interest; and though want of habit made
him object to read his newspapers blackened -- since he liked to
blacken them himself -- he was in any case condemned to pass but
a short space of time either in Siberia or in Paris, and could
balance his endless columns of calculation equally in either
place. The figures, not the facts, concerned his chart, and he
mused deeply over his next equation. The Atlantic would have to
deal with a vast continental mass of inert motion, like a
glacier, which moved, and consciously moved, by mechanical
gravitation alone. Russia saw herself so, and so must an American
see her; he had no more to do than measure, if he could, the
mass. Was volume or intensity the stronger? What and where was
the vis nova that could hold its own before this prodigious
ice-cap of vis inertiae? What was movement of inertia, and what
its laws?

Naturally a student knew nothing about mechanical laws, but he
took for granted that he could learn, and went to his books to
ask. He found that the force of inertia had troubled wiser men
than he. The dictionary said that inertia was a property of
matter, by which matter tends, when at rest, to remain so, and,
when in motion, to move on in a straight line. Finding that his
mind refused to imagine itself at rest or in a straight line, he
was forced, as usual, to let it imagine something else; and since
the question concerned the mind, and not matter, he decided from
personal experience that his mind was never at rest, but moved --
when normal -- about something it called a motive, and never
moved without motives to move it. So long as these motives were
habitual, and their attraction regular, the consequent result
might, for convenience, be called movement of inertia, to
distinguish it from movement caused by newer or higher
attraction; but the greater the bulk to move, the greater must be
the force to accelerate or deflect it.

This seemed simple as running water; but simplicity is the most
deceitful mistress that ever betrayed man. For years the student
and the professor had gone on complaining that minds were
unequally inert. The inequalities amounted to contrasts. One
class of minds responded only to habit; another only to novelty.
Race classified thought. Class-lists classified mind. No two men
thought alike, and no woman thought like a man.

Race-inertia seemed to be fairly constant, and made the chief
trouble in the Russian future. History looked doubtful when asked
whether race-inertia had ever been overcome without destroying
the race in order to reconstruct it; but surely sex-inertia had
never been overcome at all. Of all movements of inertia,
maternity and reproduction are the most typical, and women's
property of moving in a constant line forever is ultimate,
uniting history in its only unbroken and unbreakable sequence.
Whatever else stops, the woman must go on reproducing, as she did
in the Siluria of Pteraspis; sex is a vital condition, and race
only a local one. If the laws of inertia are to be sought
anywhere with certainty, it is in the feminine mind. The American
always ostentatiously ignored sex, and American history mentioned
hardly the name of a woman, while English history handled them as
timidly as though they were a new and undescribed species; but if
the problem of inertia summed up the difficulties of the race
question, it involved that of sex far more deeply, and to
Americans vitally. The task of accelerating or deflecting the
movement of the American woman had interest infinitely greater
than that of any race whatever, Russian or Chinese, Asiatic or
African.

On this subject, as on the Senate and the banks, Adams was
conscious of having been born an eighteenth-century remainder. As
he grew older, he found that Early Institutions lost their
interest, but that Early Women became a passion. Without
understanding movement of sex, history seemed to him mere
pedantry. So insistent had he become on this side of his subject
that with women he talked of little else, and -- because women's
thought is mostly subconscious and particularly sensitive to
suggestion -- he tried tricks and devices to disclose it. The
woman seldom knows her own thought; she is as curious to
understand herself as the man to understand her, and responds far
more quickly than the man to a sudden idea. Sometimes, at dinner,
one might wait till talk flagged, and then, as mildly as
possible, ask one's liveliest neighbor whether she could explain
why the American woman was a failure. Without an instant's
hesitation, she was sure to answer: "Because the American man is
a failure!" She meant it.

Adams owed more to the American woman than to all the American
men he ever heard of, and felt not the smallest call to defend
his sex who seemed able to take care of themselves; but from the
point of view of sex he felt much curiosity to know how far the
woman was right, and, in pursuing this inquiry, he caught the
trick of affirming that the woman was the superior. Apart from
truth, he owed her at least that compliment. The habit led
sometimes to perilous personalities in the sudden give-and-take
of table-talk. This spring, just before sailing for Europe in
May, 1903, he had a message from his sister-in-law, Mrs. Brooks
Adams, to say that she and her sister. Mrs. Lodge, and the
Senator were coming to dinner by way of farewell; Bay Lodge and
his lovely young wife sent word to the same effect; Mrs.
Roosevelt joined the party; and Michael Herbert shyly slipped
down to escape the solitude of his wife's absence. The party were
too intimate for reserve, and they soon fell on Adams's hobby
with derision which stung him to pungent rejoinder: "The American
man is a failure! You are all failures!" he said. "Has not my
sister here more sense than my brother Brooks? Is not Bessie
worth two of Bay? Wouldn't we all elect Mrs. Lodge Senator
against Cabot? Would the President have a ghost of a chance if
Mrs. Roosevelt ran against him? Do you want to stop at the
Embassy, on your way home, and ask which would run it best --
Herbert or his wife?" The men laughed a little -- not much! Each
probably made allowance for his own wife as an unusually superior
woman. Some one afterwards remarked that these half-dozen women
were not a fair average. Adams replied that the half-dozen men
were above all possible average; he could not lay his hands on
another half-dozen their equals.

Gay or serious, the question never failed to stir feeling. The
cleverer the woman, the less she denied the failure. She was
bitter at heart about it. She had failed even to hold the family
together, and her children ran away like chickens with their
first feathers; the family was extinct like chivalry. She had
failed not only to create a new society that satisfied her, but
even to hold her own in the old society of Church or State; and
was left, for the most part, with no place but the theatre or
streets to decorate. She might glitter with historical diamonds
and sparkle with wit as brilliant as the gems, in rooms as
splendid as any in Rome at its best; but she saw no one except
her own sex who knew enough to be worth dazzling, or was
competent to pay her intelligent homage. She might have her own
way, without restraint or limit, but she knew not what to do with
herself when free. Never had the world known a more capable or
devoted mother, but at forty her task was over, and she was left
with no stage except that of her old duties, or of Washington
society where she had enjoyed for a hundred years every
advantage, but had created only a medley where nine men out of
ten refused her request to be civilized, and the tenth bored her.

On most subjects, one's opinions must defer to science, but on
this, the opinion of a Senator or a Professor, a chairman of a
State Central Committee or a Railway President, is worth less
than that of any woman on Fifth Avenue. The inferiority of man on
this, the most important of all social subjects, is manifest.
Adams had here no occasion to deprecate scientific opinion, since
no woman in the world would have paid the smallest respect to the
opinions of all professors since the serpent. His own object had
little to do with theirs. He was studying the laws of motion, and
had struck two large questions of vital importance to America --
inertia of race and inertia of sex. He had seen Mr. de Witte and
Prince Khilkoff turn artificial energy to the value of three
thousand million dollars, more or less, upon Russian inertia, in
the last twenty years, and he needed to get some idea of the
effects. He had seen artificial energy to the amount of twenty or
five-and-twenty million steam horse-power created in America
since 1840, and as much more economized, which had been socially
turned over to the American woman, she being the chief object of
social expenditure, and the household the only considerable
object of American extravagance. According to scientific notions
of inertia and force, what ought to be the result?

In Russia, because of race and bulk, no result had yet shown
itself, but in America the results were evident and undisputed.
The woman had been set free -- volatilized like Clerk Maxwell's
perfect gas; almost brought to the point of explosion, like
steam. One had but to pass a week in Florida, or on any of a
hundred huge ocean steamers, or walk through the Place Vendome,
or join a party of Cook's tourists to Jerusalem, to see that the
woman had been set free; but these swarms were ephemeral like
clouds of butterflies in season, blown away and lost, while the
reproductive sources lay hidden. At Washington, one saw other
swarms as grave gatherings of Dames or Daughters, taking
themselves seriously, or brides fluttering fresh pinions; but all
these shifting visions, unknown before 1840, touched the true
problem slightly and superficially. Behind them, in every city,
town, and farmhouse, were myriads of new types -- or type-writers
-- telephone and telegraph-girls, shop-clerks, factory-hands,
running into millions of millions, and, as classes, unknown to
themselves as to historians. Even the schoolmistresses were
inarticulate. All these new women had been created since 1840;
all were to show their meaning before 1940.

Whatever they were, they were not content, as the ephemera
proved; and they were hungry for illusions as ever in the fourth
century of the Church; but this was probably survival, and gave
no hint of the future. The problem remained -- to find out
whether movement of inertia, inherent in function, could take
direction except in lines of inertia. This problem needed to be
solved in one generation of American women, and was the most
vital of all problems of force.

The American woman at her best -- like most other women --
exerted great charm on the man, but not the charm of a primitive
type. She appeared as the result of a long series of discards,
and her chief interest lay in what she had discarded. When
closely watched, she seemed making a violent effort to follow the
man, who had turned his mind and hand to mechanics. The typical
American man had his hand on a lever and his eye on a curve in
his road; his living depended on keeping up an average speed of
forty miles an hour, tending always to become sixty, eighty, or a
hundred, and he could not admit emotions or anxieties or
subconscious distractions, more than he could admit whiskey or
drugs, without breaking his neck. He could not run his machine
and a woman too; he must leave her; even though his wife, to find
her own way, and all the world saw her trying to find her way by
imitating him.

The result was often tragic, but that was no new thing in
feminine history. Tragedy had been woman's lot since Eve. Her
problem had been always one of physical strength and it was as
physical perfection of force that her Venus had governed nature.
The woman's force had counted as inertia of rotation, and her
axis of rotation had been the cradle and the family. The idea
that she was weak revolted all history; it was a palaeontological
falsehood that even an Eocene female monkey would have laughed
at; but it was surely true that, if her force were to be diverted
from its axis, it must find a new field, and the family must pay
for it. So far as she succeeded, she must become sexless like the
bees, and must leave the old energy of inertia to carry on the
race.

The story was not new. For thousands of years women had
rebelled. They had made a fortress of religion -- had buried
themselves in the cloister, in self-sacrifice, in good works --
or even in bad. One's studies in the twelfth century, like one's
studies in the fourth, as in Homeric and archaic time, showed her
always busy in the illusions of heaven or of hell -- ambition,
intrigue, jealousy, magic -- but the American woman had no
illusions or ambitions or new resources, and nothing to rebel
against, except her own maternity; yet the rebels increased by
millions from year to year till they blocked the path of
rebellion. Even her field of good works was narrower than in the
twelfth century. Socialism, communism, collectivism,
philosophical anarchism, which promised paradise on earth for
every male, cut off the few avenues of escape which capitalism
had opened to the woman, and she saw before her only the future
reserved for machine-made, collectivist females.

From the male, she could look for no help; his instinct of
power was blind. The Church had known more about women than
science will ever know, and the historian who studied the sources
of Christianity felt sometimes convinced that the Church had been
made by the woman chiefly as her protest against man. At times,
the historian would have been almost willing to maintain that the
man had overthrown the Church chiefly because it was feminine.
After the overthrow of the Church, the woman had no refuge except
such as the man created for himself. She was free; she had no
illusions; she was sexless; she had discarded all that the male
disliked; and although she secretly regretted the discard, she
knew that she could not go backward. She must, like the man,
marry machinery. Already the American man sometimes felt surprise
at finding himself regarded as sexless; the American woman was
oftener surprised at finding herself regarded as sexual.

No honest historian can take part with -- or against -- the
forces he has to study. To him even the extinction of the human
race should be merely a fact to be grouped with other vital
statistics. No doubt every one in society discussed the subject,
impelled by President Roosevelt if by nothing else, and the
surface current of social opinion seemed set as strongly in one
direction as the silent undercurrent of social action ran in the
other; but the truth lay somewhere unconscious in the woman's
breast. An elderly man, trying only to learn the law of social
inertia and the limits of social divergence could not compel the
Superintendent of the Census to ask every young woman whether she
wanted children, and how many; he could not even require of an
octogenarian Senate the passage of a law obliging every woman,
married or not, to bear one baby -- at the expense of the
Treasury -- before she was thirty years old, under penalty of
solitary confinement for life; yet these were vital statistics in
more senses than all that bore the name, and tended more directly
to the foundation of a serious society in the future. He could
draw no conclusions whatever except from the birth-rate. He could
not frankly discuss the matter with the young women themselves,
although they would have gladly discussed it, because Faust was
helpless in the tragedy of woman. He could suggest nothing. The
Marguerite of the future could alone decide whether she were
better off than the Marguerite of the past; whether she would
rather be victim to a man, a church, or a machine.

Between these various forms of inevitable inertia -- sex and
race -- the student of multiplicity felt inclined to admit that
-- ignorance against ignorance -- the Russian problem seemed to
him somewhat easier of treatment than the American. Inertia of
race and bulk would require an immense force to overcome it, but
in time it might perhaps be partially overcome. Inertia of sex
could not be overcome without extinguishing the race, yet an
immense force, doubling every few years, was working irresistibly
to overcome it. One gazed mute before this ocean of darkest
ignorance that had already engulfed society. Few centres of great
energy lived in illusion more complete or archaic than Washington
with its simple-minded standards of the field and farm, its
Southern and Western habits of life and manners, its assumptions
of ethics and history; but even in Washington, society was uneasy
enough to need no further fretting. One was almost glad to act
the part of horseshoe crab in Quincy Bay, and admit that all was
uniform -- that nothing ever changed -- and that the woman would
swim about the ocean of future time, as she had swum in the past,
with the gar-fish and the shark, unable to change.

CHAPTER XXXI

THE GRAMMAR OF SCIENCE (1903)

OF all the travels made by man since the voyages of Dante, this
new exploration along the shores of Multiplicity and Complexity
promised to be the longest, though as yet it had barely touched
two familiar regions -- race and sex. Even within these narrow
seas the navigator lost his bearings and followed the winds as
they blew. By chance it happened that Raphael Pumpelly helped the
winds; for, being in Washington on his way to Central Asia he
fell to talking with Adams about these matters, and said that
Willard Gibbs thought he got most help from a book called the
"Grammar of Science," by Karl Pearson. To Adams's vision, Willard
Gibbs stood on the same plane with the three or four greatest
minds of his century, and the idea that a man so incomparably
superior should find help anywhere filled him with wonder. He
sent for the volume and read it. From the time he sailed for
Europe and reached his den on the Avenue du Bois until he took
his return steamer at Cherbourg on December 26, he did little but
try to kind out what Karl Pearson could have taught Willard
Gibbs.

Here came in, more than ever, the fatal handicap of ignorance
in mathematics. Not so much the actual tool was needed, as the
right to judge the product of the tool. Ignorant as one was of
the finer values of French or German, and often deceived by the
intricacies of thought hidden in the muddiness of the medium, one
could sometimes catch a tendency to intelligible meaning even in
Kant or Hegel; but one had not the right to a suspicion of error
where the tool of thought was algebra. Adams could see in such
parts of the "Grammar" as he could understand, little more than
an enlargement of Stallo's book already twenty years old. He
never found out what it could have taught a master like Willard
Gibbs. Yet the book had a historical value out of all proportion
to its science. No such stride had any Englishman before taken in
the lines of English thought. The progress of science was
measured by the success of the "Grammar," when, for twenty years
past, Stallo had been deliberately ignored under the usual
conspiracy of silence inevitable to all thought which demands new
thought-machinery. Science needs time to reconstruct its
instruments, to follow a revolution in space; a certain lag is
inevitable; the most active mind cannot instantly swerve from its
path; but such revolutions are portentous, and the fall or rise
of half-a-dozen empires interested a student of history less than
the rise of the "Grammar of Science," the more pressingly
because, under the silent influence of Langley, he was prepared
to expect it.

For a number of years Langley had published in his Smithsonian
Reports the revolutionary papers that foretold the overthrow of
nineteenth-century dogma, and among the first was the famous
address of Sir William Crookes on psychical research, followed by
a series of papers on Roentgen and Curie, which had steadily
driven the scientific lawgivers of Unity into the open; but Karl
Pearson was the first to pen them up for slaughter in the
schools. The phrase is not stronger than that with which the
"Grammar of Science" challenged the fight: "Anything more
hopelessly illogical than the statements with regard to Force and
Matter current in elementary textbooks of science, it is
difficult to imagine," opened Mr. Pearson, and the responsible
author of the "elementary textbook," as he went on to explain,
was Lord Kelvin himself. Pearson shut out of science everything
which the nineteenth century had brought into it. He told his
scholars that they must put up with a fraction of the universe,
and a very small fraction at that -- the circle reached by the
senses, where sequence could be taken for granted -- much as the
deep-sea fish takes for granted the circle of light which he
generates. "Order and reason, beauty and benevolence, are
characteristics and conceptions which we find solely associated
with the mind of man." The assertion, as a broad truth, left
one's mind in some doubt of its bearing, for order and beauty
seemed to be associated also in the mind of a crystal, if one's
senses were to be admitted as judge; but the historian had no
interest in the universal truth of Pearson's or Kelvin's or
Newton's laws; he sought only their relative drift or direction,
and Pearson went on to say that these conceptions must stop:
"Into the chaos beyond sense-impressions we cannot scientifically
project them." We cannot even infer them: "In the chaos behind
sensations, in the 'beyond' of sense-impressions, we cannot infer
necessity, order or routine, for these are concepts formed by the
mind of man on this side of sense-impressions"; but we must infer
chaos: "Briefly chaos is all that science can logically assert of
the supersensuous." The kinetic theory of gas is an assertion of
ultimate chaos. In plain words, Chaos was the law of nature;
Order was the dream of man.

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean,
for words are slippery and thought is viscous; but since Bacon
and Newton, English thought had gone on impatiently protesting
that no one must try to know the unknowable at the same time that
every one went on thinking about it. The result was as chaotic as
kinetic gas; but with the thought a historian had nothing to do.
He sought only its direction. For himself he knew, that, in spite
of all the Englishmen that ever lived, he would be forced to
enter supersensual chaos if he meant to find out what became of
British science -- or indeed of any other science. From
Pythagoras to Herbert Spencer, every one had done it, although
commonly science had explored an ocean which it preferred to
regard as Unity or a Universe, and called Order. Even Hegel, who
taught that every notion included its own negation, used the
negation only to reach a "larger synthesis," till he reached the
universal which thinks itself, contradiction and all. The Church
alone had constantly protested that anarchy was not order, that
Satan was not God, that pantheism was worse than atheism, and
that Unity could not be proved as a contradiction. Karl Pearson
seemed to agree with the Church, but every one else, including
Newton, Darwin and Clerk Maxwell, had sailed gaily into the
supersensual, calling it: --

"One God, one Law, one Element,
And one far-off, divine event,
To which the whole creation moves."

Suddenly, in 1900, science raised its head and denied.

Yet, perhaps, after all, the change had not been so sudden as
it seemed. Real and actual, it certainly was, and every newspaper
betrayed it, but sequence could scarcely be denied by one who had
watched its steady approach, thinking the change far more
interesting to history than the thought. When he reflected about
it, he recalled that the flow of tide had shown itself at least
twenty years before; that it had become marked as early as 1893;
and that the man of science must have been sleepy indeed who did
not jump from his chair like a scared dog when, in 1898, Mme.
Curie threw on his desk the metaphysical bomb she called radium.
There remained no hole to hide in. Even metaphysics swept back
over science with the green water of the deep-sea ocean and no
one could longer hope to bar out the unknowable, for the
unknowable was known.

The fact was admitted that the uniformitarians of one's youth
had wound about their universe a tangle of contradictions meant
only for temporary support to be merged in "larger synthesis,"
and had waited for the larger synthesis in silence and in vain.
They had refused to hear Stallo. They had betrayed little
interest in Crookes. At last their universe had been wrecked by
rays, and Karl Pearson undertook to cut the wreck loose with an
axe, leaving science adrift on a sensual raft in the midst of a
supersensual chaos. The confusion seemed, to a mere passenger,
worse than that of 1600 when the astronomers upset the world; it
resembled rather the convulsion of 310 when the Civitas Dei cut
itself loose from the Civitas Romae, and the Cross took the place
of the legions; but the historian accepted it all alike; he knew
that his opinion was worthless; only, in this case, he found
himself on the raft, personally and economically concerned in its
drift.

English thought had always been chaos and multiplicity itself,

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