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The Human Machine by E. Arnold Bennett

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THE HUMAN MACHINE

BY ARNOLD BENNETT

_First Published November 1908

Second Edition September 1910

Third Edition April 1911

Fourth Edition August 1912

Fifth Edition January 1913

Sixth Edition August 1913_

CONTENTS

I

TAKING ONESELF FOR GRANTED

II

AMATEURS IN THE ART OF LIVING

III

THE BRAIN AS A GENTLEMAN-AT-LARGE

IV

THE FIRST PRACTICAL STEP

V

HABIT-FORMING BY CONCENTRATION

VI

LORD OVER THE NODDLE

VII

WHAT 'LIVING' CHIEFLY IS

VIII

THE DAILY FRICTION

IX

'FIRE!'

X

MISCHIEVOUSLY OVERWORKING IT

XI

AN INTERLUDE

XII

AN INTEREST IN LIFE

XIII

SUCCESS AND FAILURE

XIV

A MAN AND HIS ENVIRONMENT

XV

L.S.D.

XVI

REASON, REASON!

I

TAKING ONESELF FOR GRANTED

There are men who are capable of loving a machine more deeply than they
can love a woman. They are among the happiest men on earth. This is not
a sneer meanly shot from cover at women. It is simply a statement of
notorious fact. Men who worry themselves to distraction over the
perfecting of a machine are indubitably blessed beyond their kind. Most
of us have known such men. Yesterday they were constructing motorcars.
But to-day aeroplanes are in the air--or, at any rate, they ought to be,
according to the inventors. Watch the inventors. Invention is not
usually their principal business. They must invent in their spare time.
They must invent before breakfast, invent in the Strand between Lyons's
and the office, invent after dinner, invent on Sundays. See with what
ardour they rush home of a night! See how they seize a half-holiday,
like hungry dogs a bone! They don't want golf, bridge, limericks,
novels, illustrated magazines, clubs, whisky, starting-prices, hints
about neckties, political meetings, yarns, comic songs, anturic salts,
nor the smiles that are situate between a gay corsage and a picture hat.
They never wonder, at a loss, what they will do next. Their evenings
never drag--are always too short. You may, indeed, catch them at twelve
o'clock at night on the flat of their backs; but not in bed! No, in a
shed, under a machine, holding a candle (whose paths drop fatness) up to
the connecting-rod that is strained, or the wheel that is out of centre.
They are continually interested, nay, enthralled. They have a machine,
and they are perfecting it. They get one part right, and then another
goes wrong; and they get that right, and then another goes wrong, and so
on. When they are quite sure they have reached perfection, forth issues
the machine out of the shed--and in five minutes is smashed up, together
with a limb or so of the inventors, just because they had been quite
sure too soon. Then the whole business starts again. They do not give
up--that particular wreck was, of course, due to a mere oversight; the
whole business starts again. For they have glimpsed perfection; they
have the gleam of perfection in their souls. Thus their lives run away.
'They will never fly!' you remark, cynically. Well, if they don't?
Besides, what about Wright? With all your cynicism, have you never
envied them their machine and their passionate interest in it?

You know, perhaps, the moment when, brushing in front of the glass, you
detected your first grey hair. You stopped brushing; then you resumed
brushing, hastily; you pretended not to be shocked, but you were.
Perhaps you know a more disturbing moment than that, the moment when it
suddenly occurred to you that you had 'arrived' as far as you ever will
arrive; and you had realised as much of your early dream as you ever
will realise, and the realisation was utterly unlike the dream; the
marriage was excessively prosaic and eternal, not at all what you
expected it to be; and your illusions were dissipated; and games and
hobbies had an unpleasant core of tedium and futility; and the ideal
tobacco-mixture did not exist; and one literary masterpiece resembled
another; and all the days that are to come will more or less resemble
the present day, until you die; and in an illuminating flash you
understood what all those people were driving at when they wrote such
unconscionably long letters to the _Telegraph_ as to life being worth
living or not worth living; and there was naught to be done but face the
grey, monotonous future, and pretend to be cheerful with the worm of
_ennui_ gnawing at your heart! In a word, the moment when it occurred to
you that yours is 'the common lot.' In that moment have you not
wished--do you not continually wish--for an exhaustless machine, a
machine that you could never get to the end of? Would you not give your
head to be lying on the flat of your back, peering with a candle, dirty,
foiled, catching cold--but absorbed in the pursuit of an object? Have
you not gloomily regretted that you were born without a mechanical turn,
because there is really something about a machine...?

It has never struck you that you do possess a machine! Oh, blind! Oh,
dull! It has never struck you that you have at hand a machine wonderful
beyond all mechanisms in sheds, intricate, delicately adjustable, of
astounding and miraculous possibilities, interminably interesting! That
machine is yourself. 'This fellow is preaching. I won't have it!' you
exclaim resentfully. Dear sir, I am not preaching, and, even if I were,
I think you _would_ have it. I think I can anyhow keep hold of your
button for a while, though you pull hard. I am not preaching. I am
simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly
or partially escaped you--namely, that you are the most fascinating bit
of machinery that ever was. You do yourself less than justice. It is
said that men are only interested in themselves. The truth is that, as a
rule, men are interested in every mortal thing except themselves. They
have a habit of taking themselves for granted, and that habit is
responsible for nine-tenths of the boredom and despair on the face of
the planet.

A man will wake up in the middle of the night (usually owing to some
form of delightful excess), and his brain will be very active indeed for
a space ere he can go to sleep again. In that candid hour, after the
exaltation of the evening and before the hope of the dawn, he will see
everything in its true colours--except himself. There is nothing like a
sleepless couch for a clear vision of one's environment. He will see all
his wife's faults and the hopelessness of trying to cure them. He will
momentarily see, though with less sharpness of outline, his own faults.
He will probably decide that the anxieties of children outweigh the joys
connected with children. He will admit all the shortcomings of
existence, will face them like a man, grimly, sourly, in a sturdy
despair. He will mutter: 'Of course I'm angry! Who wouldn't be? Of
course I'm disappointed! Did I expect this twenty years ago? Yes, we
ought to save more. But we don't, so there you are! I'm bound to worry!
I know I should be better if I didn't smoke so much. I know there's
absolutely no sense at all in taking liqueurs. Absurd to be ruffled with
her when she's in one of her moods. I don't have enough exercise. Can't
be regular, somehow. Not the slightest use hoping that things will be
different, because I know they won't. Queer world! Never really what you
may call happy, you know. Now, if things were different ...' He loses
consciousness.

Observe: he has taken himself for granted, just glancing at his faults
and looking away again. It is his environment that has occupied his
attention, and his environment--'things'--that he would wish to have
'different,' did he not know, out of the fulness of experience, that it
is futile to desire such a change? What he wants is a pipe that won't
put itself into his mouth, a glass that won't leap of its own accord to
his lips, money that won't slip untouched out of his pocket, legs that
without asking will carry him certain miles every day in the open air,
habits that practise themselves, a wife that will expand and contract
according to his humours, like a Wernicke bookcase, always complete but
never finished. Wise man, he perceives at once that he can't have these
things. And so he resigns himself to the universe, and settles down to a
permanent, restrained discontent. No one shall say he is unreasonable.

You see, he has given no attention to the machine. Let us not call it a
flying-machine. Let us call it simply an automobile. There it is on the
road, jolting, screeching, rattling, perfuming. And there he is, saying:
'This road ought to be as smooth as velvet. That hill in front is
ridiculous, and the descent on the other side positively dangerous. And
it's all turns--I can't see a hundred yards in front.' He has a wild
idea of trying to force the County Council to sand-paper the road, or of
employing the new Territorial Army to remove the hill. But he dismisses
that idea--he is so reasonable. He accepts all. He sits clothed in
reasonableness on the machine, and accepts all. 'Ass!' you exclaim. 'Why
doesn't he get down and inflate that tyre, for one thing? Anyone can see
the sparking apparatus is wrong, and it's perfectly certain the gear-box
wants oil.

Why doesn't he--?' I will tell you why he doesn't. Just because he isn't
aware that he is on a machine at all. He has never examined what he is
on. And at the back of his consciousness is a dim idea that he is
perched on a piece of solid, immutable rock that runs on castors.

II

AMATEURS IN THE ART OF LIVING

Considering that we have to spend the whole of our lives in this human
machine, considering that it is our sole means of contact and compromise
with the rest of the world, we really do devote to it very little
attention. When I say 'we,' I mean our inmost spirits, the instinctive
part, the mystery within that exists. And when I say 'the human machine'
I mean the brain and the body--and chiefly the brain. The expression of
the soul by means of the brain and body is what we call the art of
'living.' We certainly do not learn this art at school to any
appreciable extent. At school we are taught that it is necessary to
fling our arms and legs to and fro for so many hours per diem. We are
also shown, practically, that our brains are capable of performing
certain useful tricks, and that if we do not compel our brains to
perform those tricks we shall suffer. Thus one day we run home and
proclaim to our delighted parents that eleven twelves are 132. A feat of
the brain! So it goes on until our parents begin to look up to us
because we can chatter of cosines or sketch the foreign policy of Louis
XIV. Good! But not a word about the principles of the art of living yet!
Only a few detached rules from our parents, to be blindly followed when
particular crises supervene. And, indeed, it would be absurd to talk to
a schoolboy about the expression of his soul. He would probably mutter a
monosyllable which is not 'mice.'

Of course, school is merely a preparation for living; unless one goes to
a university, in which case it is a preparation for university. One is
supposed to turn one's attention to living when these preliminaries are
over--say at the age of about twenty. Assuredly one lives then; there
is, however, nothing new in that, for one has been living all the time,
in a fashion; all the time one has been using the machine without
understanding it. But does one, school and college being over, enter
upon a study of the machine? Not a bit. The question then becomes, not
how to live, but how to obtain and retain a position in which one will
be able to live; how to get minute portions of dead animals and plants
which one can swallow, in order not to die of hunger; how to acquire and
constantly renew a stock of other portions of dead animals and plants in
which one can envelop oneself in order not to die of cold; how to
procure the exclusive right of entry into certain huts where one may
sleep and eat without being rained upon by the clouds of heaven. And so
forth. And when one has realised this ambition, there comes the desire
to be able to double the operation and do it, not for oneself alone, but
for oneself and another. Marriage! But no scientific sustained attention
is yet given to the real business of living, of smooth intercourse, of
self-expression, of conscious adaptation to environment--in brief, to
the study of the machine. At thirty the chances are that a man will
understand better the draught of a chimney than his own respiratory
apparatus--to name one of the simple, obvious things--and as for
understanding the working of his own brain--what an idea! As for the
skill to avoid the waste of power involved by friction in the business
of living, do we give an hour to it in a month? Do we ever at all
examine it save in an amateurish and clumsy fashion? A young lady
produces a water-colour drawing. 'Very nice!' we say, and add, to
ourselves, 'For an amateur.' But our living is more amateurish than that
young lady's drawing; though surely we ought every one of us to be
professionals at living!

When we have been engaged in the preliminaries to living for about
fifty-five years, we begin to think about slacking off. Up till this
period our reason for not having scientifically studied the art of
living--the perfecting and use of the finer parts of the machine--is not
that we have lacked leisure (most of us have enormous heaps of leisure),
but that we have simply been too absorbed in the preliminaries, have, in
fact, treated the preliminaries to the business as the business itself.
Then at fifty-five we ought at last to begin to live our lives with
professional skill, as a professional painter paints pictures. Yes, but
we can't. It is too late then. Neither painters, nor acrobats, nor any
professionals can be formed at the age of fifty-five. Thus we finish
our lives amateurishly, as we have begun them. And when the machine
creaks and sets our teeth on edge, or refuses to obey the steering-wheel
and deposits us in the ditch, we say: 'Can't be helped!' or 'Doesn't
matter! It will be all the same a hundred years hence!' or: 'I must make
the best of things.' And we try to believe that in accepting the _status
quo_ we have justified the _status quo_, and all the time we feel our
insincerity.

You exclaim that I exaggerate. I do. To force into prominence an aspect
of affairs usually overlooked, it is absolutely necessary to exaggerate.
Poetic licence is one name for this kind of exaggeration. But I
exaggerate very little indeed, much less than perhaps you think. I know
that you are going to point out to me that vast numbers of people
regularly spend a considerable portion of their leisure in striving
after self-improvement. Granted! And I am glad of it. But I should be
gladder if their strivings bore more closely upon the daily business of
living, of self-expression without friction and without futile desires.
See this man who regularly studies every evening of his life! He has
genuinely understood the nature of poetry, and his taste is admirable.
He recites verse with true feeling, and may be said to be highly
cultivated. Poetry is a continual source of pleasure to him. True! But
why is he always complaining about not receiving his deserts in the
office? Why is he worried about finance? Why does he so often sulk with
his wife? Why does he persist in eating more than his digestion will
tolerate? It was not written in the book of fate that he should complain
and worry and sulk and suffer. And if he was a professional at living he
would not do these things. There is no reason why he should do them,
except the reason that he has never learnt his business, never studied
the human machine as a whole, never really thought rationally about
living. Supposing you encountered an automobilist who was swerving and
grinding all over the road, and you stopped to ask what was the matter,
and he replied: 'Never mind what's the matter. Just look at my lovely
acetylene lamps, how they shine, and how I've polished them!' You would
not regard him as a Clifford-Earp, or even as an entirely sane man. So
with our student of poetry. It is indubitable that a large amount of
what is known as self-improvement is simply self-indulgence--a form of
pleasure which only incidentally improves a particular part of the
machine, and even that to the neglect of far more important parts.

My aim is to direct a man's attention to himself as a whole, considered
as a machine, complex and capable of quite extraordinary efficiency,
for travelling through this world smoothly, in any desired manner, with
satisfaction not only to himself but to the people he meets _en route_,
and the people who are overtaking him and whom he is overtaking. My aim
is to show that only an inappreciable fraction of our ordered and
sustained efforts is given to the business of actual living, as
distinguished from the preliminaries to living.

III

THE BRAIN AS A GENTLEMAN-AT-LARGE

It is not as if, in this business of daily living, we were seriously
hampered by ignorance either as to the results which we ought to obtain,
or as to the general means which we must employ in order to obtain them.
With all our absorption in the mere preliminaries to living, and all our
carelessness about living itself, we arrive pretty soon at a fairly
accurate notion of what satisfactory living is, and we perceive with
some clearness the methods necessary to success. I have pictured the man
who wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the horrid semi-fiasco
of his life. But let me picture the man who wakes up refreshed early on
a fine summer morning and looks into his mind with the eyes of hope and
experience, not experience and despair. That man will pass a delightful
half-hour in thinking upon the scheme of the universe as it affects
himself. He is quite clear that contentment depends on his own acts, and
that no power can prevent him from performing those acts. He plans
everything out, and before he gets up he knows precisely what he must
and will do in certain foreseen crises and junctures. He sincerely
desires to live efficiently--who would wish to make a daily mess of
existence?--and he knows the way to realise the desire.

And yet, mark me! That man will not have been an hour on his feet on
this difficult earth before the machine has unmistakably gone wrong: the
machine which was designed to do this work of living, which is capable
of doing it thoroughly well, but which has not been put into order!
What is the use of consulting the map of life and tracing the itinerary,
and getting the machine out of the shed, and making a start, if half the
nuts are loose, or the steering pillar is twisted, or there is no petrol
in the tank? (Having asked this question, I will drop the
mechanico-vehicular comparison, which is too rough and crude for the
delicacy of the subject.) Where has the human machine gone wrong? It has
gone wrong in the brain. What, is he 'wrong in the head'? Most
assuredly, most strictly. He knows--none better--that when his wife
employs a particular tone containing ten grains of asperity, and he
replies in a particular tone containing eleven grains, the consequences
will be explosive. He knows, on the other hand, that if he replies in a
tone containing only one little drop of honey, the consequences may not
be unworthy of two reasonable beings. He knows this. His brain is fully
instructed. And lo! his brain, while arguing that women are really too
absurd (as if that was the point), is sending down orders to the muscles
of the throat and mouth which result in at least eleven grains of
asperity, and conjugal relations are endangered for the day. He didn't
want to do it. His desire was not to do it. He despises himself for
doing it. But his brain was not in working order. His brain ran
away--'raced'--on its own account, against reason, against desire,
against morning resolves--and there he is!

That is just one example, of the simplest and slightest. Examples can be
multiplied. The man may be a young man whose immediate future depends on
his passing an examination--an examination which he is capable of
passing 'on his head,' which nothing can prevent him from passing if
only his brain will not be so absurd as to give orders to his legs to
walk out of the house towards the tennis court instead of sending them
upstairs to the study; if only, having once safely lodged him in the
study, his brain will devote itself to the pages of books instead of
dwelling on the image of a nice girl--not at all like other girls. Or
the man may be an old man who will live in perfect comfort if only his
brain will not interminably run round and round in a circle of
grievances, apprehensions, and fears which no amount of contemplation
can destroy or even ameliorate.

The brain, the brain--that is the seat of trouble! 'Well,' you say, 'of
course it is. We all know that!' We don't act as if we did, anyway.
'Give us more brains, Lord!' ejaculated a great writer. Personally, I
think he would have been wiser if he had asked first for the power to
keep in order such brains as we have. We indubitably possess quite
enough brains, quite as much as we can handle. The supreme muddlers of
living are often people of quite remarkable intellectual faculty, with a
quite remarkable gift of being wise for others. The pity is that our
brains have a way of 'wandering,' as it is politely called.
Brain-wandering is indeed now recognised as a specific disease. I wonder
what you, O business man with an office in Ludgate Circus, would say to
your office-boy, whom you had dispatched on an urgent message to
Westminster, and whom you found larking around Euston Station when you
rushed to catch your week-end train. 'Please, sir, I started to go to
Westminster, but there's something funny in my limbs that makes me go up
all manner of streets. I can't help it, sir!' 'Can't you?' you would
say. 'Well, you had better go and be somebody else's office-boy.' Your
brain is something worse than that office-boy, something more
insidiously potent for evil.

I conceive the brain of the average well-intentioned man as possessing
the tricks and manners of one of those gentlemen-at-large who, having
nothing very urgent to do, stroll along and offer their services gratis
to some shorthanded work of philanthropy. They will commonly demoralise
and disorganise the business conduct of an affair in about a fortnight.
They come when they like; they go when they like. Sometimes they are
exceedingly industrious and obedient, but then there is an even chance
that they will shirk and follow their own sweet will. And they mustn't
be spoken to, or pulled up--for have they not kindly volunteered, and
are they not giving their days for naught! These persons are the bane of
the enterprises in which they condescend to meddle. Now, there is a vast
deal too much of the gentleman-at-large about one's brain. One's brain
has no right whatever to behave as a gentleman-at-large: but it in fact
does. It forgets; it flatly ignores orders; at the critical moment when
pressure is highest, it simply lights a cigarette and goes out for a
walk. And we meekly sit down under this behaviour! 'I didn't feel like
stewing,' says the young man who, against his wish, will fail in his
examination. 'The words were out of my mouth before I knew it,' says the
husband whose wife is a woman. 'I couldn't get any inspiration to-day,'
says the artist. 'I can't resist Stilton,' says the fellow who is dying
of greed. 'One can't help one's thoughts,' says the old worrier. And
this last really voices the secret excuse of all five.

And you all say to me: 'My brain is myself. How can I alter myself? I
was born like that.' In the first place you were not born 'like that,'
you have lapsed to that. And in the second place your brain is not
yourself. It is only a part of yourself, and not the highest seat of
authority. Do you love your mother, wife, or children with your brain?
Do you desire with your brain? Do you, in a word, ultimately and
essentially _live_ with your brain? No. Your brain is an instrument. The
proof that it is an instrument lies in the fact that, when extreme
necessity urges, _you_ can command your brain to do certain things, and
it does them. The first of the two great principles which underlie the
efficiency of the human machine is this: _The brain is a servant,
exterior to the central force of the Ego_. If it is out of control the
reason is not that it is uncontrollable, but merely that its discipline
has been neglected. The brain can be trained, as the hand and eye can be
trained; it can be made as obedient as a sporting dog, and by similar
methods. In the meantime the indispensable preparation for brain
discipline is to form the habit of regarding one's brain as an
instrument exterior to one's self, like a tongue or a foot.

IV

THE FIRST PRACTICAL STEP

The brain is a highly quaint organism. Let me say at once, lest I should
be cannonaded by physiologists, psychologists, or metaphysicians, that
by the 'brain' I mean the faculty which reasons and which gives orders
to the muscles. I mean exactly what the plain man means by the brain.
The brain is the diplomatist which arranges relations between our
instinctive self and the universe, and it fulfils its mission when it
provides for the maximum of freedom to the instincts with the minimum of
friction. It argues with the instincts. It takes them on one side and
points out the unwisdom of certain performances. It catches them by the
coat-tails when they are about to make fools of themselves. 'Don't
drink all that iced champagne at a draught,' it says to one instinct;
'we may die of it.' 'Don't catch that rude fellow one in the eye,' it
says to another instinct; 'he is more powerful than us.' It is, in fact,
a majestic spectacle of common sense. And yet it has the most
extraordinary lapses. It is just like that man--we all know him and
consult him--who is a continual fount of excellent, sagacious advice on
everything, but who somehow cannot bring his sagacity to bear on his own
personal career.

In the matter of its own special activities the brain is usually
undisciplined and unreliable. We never know what it will do next. We
give it some work to do, say, as we are walking along the street to the
office. Perhaps it has to devise some scheme for making L150 suffice for
L200, or perhaps it has to plan out the heads of a very important
letter. We meet a pretty woman, and away that undisciplined, sagacious
brain runs after her, dropping the scheme or the draft letter, and
amusing itself with aspirations or regrets for half an hour, an hour,
sometimes a day. The serious part of our instinctive self feebly
remonstrates, but without effect. Or it may be that we have suffered a
great disappointment, which is definite and hopeless. Will the brain,
like a sensible creature, leave that disappointment alone, and instead
of living in the past live in the present or the future? Not it! Though
it knows perfectly well that it is wasting its time and casting a very
painful and utterly unnecessary gloom over itself and us, it can so
little control its unhealthy morbid appetite that no expostulations will
induce it to behave rationally. Or perhaps, after a confabulation with
the soul, it has been decided that when next a certain harmful instinct
comes into play the brain shall firmly interfere. 'Yes,' says the
brain, 'I really will watch that.' But when the moment arrives, is the
brain on the spot? The brain has probably forgotten the affair entirely,
or remembered it too late; or sighs, as the victorious instinct knocks
it on the head: 'Well, _next_ time!'

All this, and much more that every reader can supply from his own
exciting souvenirs, is absurd and ridiculous on the part of the brain.
It is a conclusive proof that the brain is out of condition, idle as a
nigger, capricious as an actor-manager, and eaten to the core with loose
habits. Therefore the brain must be put into training. It is the most
important part of the human machine by which the soul expresses and
develops itself, and it must learn good habits. And primarily it must be
taught obedience. Obedience can only be taught by imposing one's will,
by the sheer force of volition. And the brain must be mastered by
will-power. The beginning of wise living lies in the control of the
brain by the will; so that the brain may act according to the precepts
which the brain itself gives. With an obedient disciplined brain a man
may live always right up to the standard of his best moments.

To teach a child obedience you tell it to do something, and you see that
that something is done. The same with the brain. Here is the foundation
of an efficient life and the antidote for the tendency to make a fool of
oneself. It is marvellously simple. Say to your brain: 'From 9 o'clock
to 9.30 this morning you must dwell without ceasing on a particular
topic which I will give you.' Now, it doesn't matter what this topic
is--the point is to control and invigorate the brain by exercise--but
you may just as well give it a useful topic to think over as a futile
one. You might give it this: 'My brain is my servant. I am not the
play-thing of my brain.' Let it concentrate on these statements for
thirty minutes. 'What?' you cry. 'Is this the way to an efficient life?
Why, there's nothing in it!' Simple as it may appear, this _is_ the way,
and it is the only way. As for there being nothing in it, try it. I
guarantee that you will fail to keep your brain concentrated on the
given idea for thirty seconds--let alone thirty minutes. You will find
your brain conducting itself in a manner which would be comic were it
not tragic. Your first experiments will result in disheartening failure,
for to exact from the brain, at will and by will, concentration on a
given idea for even so short a period as half an hour is an exceedingly
difficult feat--and a fatiguing! It needs perseverance. It needs a
terrible obstinacy on the part of the will. That brain of yours will be
hopping about all over the place, and every time it hops you must bring
it back by force to its original position. You must absolutely compel it
to ignore every idea except the one which you have selected for its
attention. You cannot hope to triumph all at once. But you can hope to
triumph. There is no royal road to the control of the brain. There is no
patent dodge about it, and no complicated function which a plain person
may not comprehend. It is simply a question of: 'I will, _I_ will, and I
_will_.' (Italics here are indispensable.)

Let me resume. Efficient living, living up to one's best standard,
getting the last ounce of power out of the machine with the minimum of
friction: these things depend on the disciplined and vigorous condition
of the brain. The brain can be disciplined by learning the habit of
obedience. And it can learn the habit of obedience by the practice of
concentration. Disciplinary concentration, though nothing could have
the air of being simpler, is the basis of the whole structure. This fact
must be grasped imaginatively; it must be seen and felt. The more
regularly concentration is practised, the more firmly will the
imagination grasp the effects of it, both direct and indirect. After but
a few days of honest trying in the exercise which I have indicated, you
will perceive its influence. You will grow accustomed to the idea, at
first strange in its novelty, of the brain being external to the supreme
force which is _you_, and in subjection to that force. You will, as a
not very distant possibility, see yourself in possession of the power to
switch your brain on and off in a particular subject as you switch
electricity on and off in a particular room. The brain will get used to
the straight paths of obedience. And--a remarkable phenomenon--it will,
by the mere practice of obedience, become less forgetful and more
effective. It will not so frequently give way to an instinct that takes
it by surprise. In a word, it will have received a general tonic. With a
brain that is improving every day you can set about the perfecting of
the machine in a scientific manner.

V

HABIT-FORMING BY CONCENTRATION

As soon as the will has got the upper hand of the brain--as soon as it
can say to the brain, with a fair certainty of being obeyed: 'Do this.
Think along these lines, and continue to do so without wandering until I
give you leave to stop'--then is the time arrived when the perfecting of
the human machine may be undertaken in a large and comprehensive spirit,
as a city council undertakes the purification and reconstruction of a
city. The tremendous possibilities of an obedient brain will be
perceived immediately we begin to reflect upon what we mean by our
'character.' Now, a person's character is, and can be, nothing else but
the total result of his habits of thought. A person is benevolent
because he habitually thinks benevolently. A person is idle because his
thoughts dwell habitually on the instant pleasures of idleness. It is
true that everybody is born with certain predispositions, and that these
predispositions influence very strongly the early formation of habits of
thought. But the fact remains that the character is built by
long-continued habits of thought. If the mature edifice of character
usually shows in an exaggerated form the peculiarities of the original
predisposition, this merely indicates a probability that the slow
erection of the edifice has proceeded at haphazard, and that reason has
not presided over it. A child may be born with a tendency to bent
shoulders. If nothing is done, if on the contrary he becomes a clerk and
abhors gymnastics, his shoulders will develop an excessive roundness,
entirely through habit. Whereas, if his will, guided by his reason, had
compelled the formation of a corrective physical habit, his shoulders
might have been, if not quite straight, nearly so. Thus a physical
habit! The same with a mental habit.

The more closely we examine the development of original predispositions,
the more clearly we shall see that this development is not inevitable,
is not a process which works itself out independently according to
mysterious, ruthless laws which we cannot understand. For instance, the
effect of an original predisposition may be destroyed by an accidental
shock. A young man with an inherited tendency to alcohol may develop
into a stern teetotaller through the shock caused by seeing his drunken
father strike his mother; whereas, if his father had chanced to be
affectionate in drink, the son might have ended in the gutter. No
ruthless law here! It is notorious, also, that natures are sometimes
completely changed in their development by chance momentary contact
with natures stronger than themselves. 'From that day I resolved--' etc.
You know the phrase. Often the resolve is not kept; but often it is
kept. A spark has inflamed the will. The burning will has tyrannised
over the brain. New habits have been formed. And the result looks just
like a miracle.

Now, if these great transformations can be brought about by accident,
cannot similar transformations be brought about by a reasonable design?
At any rate, if one starts to bring them about, one starts with the
assurance that transformations are not impossible, since they have
occurred. One starts also in the full knowledge of the influence of
habit on life. Take any one of your own habits, mental or physical. You
will be able to recall the time when that habit did not exist, or if it
did exist it was scarcely perceptible. And you will discover that
nearly all your habits have been formed unconsciously, by daily
repetitions which bore no relation to a general plan, and which you
practised not noticing. You will be compelled to admit that your
'character,' as it is to-day, is a structure that has been built almost
without the aid of an architect; higgledy-piggledy, anyhow. But
occasionally the architect did step in and design something. Here and
there among your habits you will find one that you consciously and of
deliberate purpose initiated and persevered with--doubtless owing to
some happy influence. What is the difference between that conscious
habit and the unconscious habits? None whatever as regards its effect on
the sum of your character. It may be the strongest of all your habits.
The only quality that differentiates it from the others is that it has a
definite object (most likely a good object), and that it wholly or
partially fulfils that object. There is not a man who reads these lines
but has, in this detail or that, proved in himself that the will,
forcing the brain to repeat the same action again and again, can modify
the shape of his character as a sculptor modifies the shape of damp
clay.

But if a grown man's character is developing from day to day (as it is),
if nine-tenths of the development is due to unconscious action and
one-tenth to conscious action, and if the one-tenth conscious is the
most satisfactory part of the total result; why, in the name of common
sense, henceforward, should not nine-tenths, instead of one-tenth, be
due to conscious action? What is there to prevent this agreeable
consummation? There is nothing whatever to prevent it--except
insubordination on the part of the brain. And insubordination of the
brain can be cured, as I have previously shown. When I see men unhappy
and inefficient in the craft of _living_, from sheer, crass inattention
to their own development; when I see misshapen men building up
businesses and empires, and never stopping to build up themselves; when
I see dreary men expending precisely the same energy on teaching a dog
to walk on its hind-legs as would brighten the whole colour of their own
lives, I feel as if I wanted to give up the ghost, so ridiculous, so
fatuous does the spectacle seem! But, of course, I do not give up the
ghost. The paroxysm passes. Only I really must cry out: 'Can't you see
what you're missing? Can't you see that you're missing the most
interesting thing on earth, far more interesting than businesses,
empires, and dogs? Doesn't it strike you how clumsy and short-sighted
you are--working always with an inferior machine when you might have a
smooth-gliding perfection? Doesn't it strike you how badly you are
treating yourself?'

Listen, you confirmed grumbler, you who make the evening meal hideous
with complaints against destiny--for it is you I will single out. Are
you aware what people are saying about you behind your back? They are
saying that you render yourself and your family miserable by the habit
which has grown on you of always grumbling. 'Surely it isn't as bad as
that?' you protest. Yes, it is just as bad as that. You say: 'The fact
is, I know it's absurd to grumble. But I'm like that. I've tried to stop
it, and I can't!' How have you tried to stop it? 'Well, I've made up my
mind several times to fight against it, but I never succeed. This is
strictly between ourselves. I don't usually admit that I'm a grumbler.'
Considering that you grumble for about an hour and a half every day of
your life, it was sanguine, my dear sir, to expect to cure such a habit
by means of a solitary intention, formed at intervals in the brain and
then forgotten. No! You must do more than that. If you will daily fix
your brain firmly for half an hour on the truth (you know it to be a
truth) that grumbling is absurd and futile, your brain will henceforward
begin to form a habit in that direction; it will begin to be moulded to
the idea that grumbling is absurd and futile. In odd moments, when it
isn't thinking of anything in particular, it will suddenly remember that
grumbling is absurd and futile. When you sit down to the meal and open
your mouth to say: 'I can't think what my ass of a partner means by--'
it will remember that grumbling is absurd and futile, and will alter the
arrangement of your throat, teeth, and tongue, so that you will say:
'What fine weather we're having!' In brief, it will remember
involuntarily, by a new habit. All who look into their experience will
admit that the failure to replace old habits by new ones is due to the
fact that at the critical moment the brain does not remember; it simply
forgets. The practice of concentration will cure that. All depends on
regular concentration. This grumbling is an instance, though chosen not
quite at hazard.

VI

LORD OVER THE NODDLE

Having proved by personal experiment the truth of the first of the two
great principles which concern the human machine--namely, that the brain
is a servant, not a master, and can be controlled--we may now come to
the second. The second is more fundamental than the first, but it can be
of no use until the first is understood and put into practice. The human
machine is an apparatus of brain and muscle for enabling the Ego to
develop freely in the universe by which it is surrounded, without
friction. Its function is to convert the facts of the universe to the
best advantage of the Ego. The facts of the universe are the material
with which it is its business to deal--not the facts of an ideal
universe, but the facts of this universe. Hence, when friction occurs,
when the facts of the universe cease to be of advantage to the Ego, the
fault is in the machine. It is not the solar system that has gone wrong,
but the human machine. Second great principle, therefore: '_In case of
friction, the machine is always at fault_.'

You can control nothing but your own mind. Even your two-year-old babe
may defy you by the instinctive force of its personality. But your own
mind you can control. Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which
nothing harmful can enter except by your permission. Your own mind has
the power to transmute every external phenomenon to its own purposes. If
happiness arises from cheerfulness, kindliness, and rectitude (and who
will deny it?), what possible combination of circumstances is going to
make you unhappy so long as the machine remains in order? If
self-development consists in the utilisation of one's environment (not
utilisation of somebody else's environment), how can your environment
prevent you from developing? You would look rather foolish without it,
anyway. In that noddle of yours is everything necessary for development,
for the maintaining of dignity, for the achieving of happiness, and you
are absolute lord over the noddle, will you but exercise the powers of
lordship. Why worry about the contents of somebody else's noddle, in
which you can be nothing but an intruder, when you may arrive at a
better result, with absolute certainty, by confining your activities to
your own? 'Look within.' 'The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.' 'Oh,
yes!' you protest. 'All that's old. Epictetus said that. Marcus Aurelius
said that. Christ said that.' They did. I admit it readily. But if you
were ruffled this morning because your motor-omnibus broke down, and
you had to take a cab, then so far as you are concerned these great
teachers lived in vain. You, calling yourself a reasonable man, are
going about dependent for your happiness, dignity, and growth, upon a
thousand things over which you have no control, and the most exquisitely
organised machine for ensuring happiness, dignity, and growth, is
rusting away inside you. And all because you have a sort of notion that
a saying said two thousand years ago cannot be practical.

You remark sagely to your child: 'No, my child, you cannot have that
moon, and you will accomplish nothing by crying for it. Now, here is
this beautiful box of bricks, by means of which you may amuse yourself
while learning many wonderful matters and improving your mind. You must
try to be content with what you have, and to make the best of it. If you
had the moon you wouldn't be any happier.' Then you lie awake half the
night repining because the last post has brought a letter to the effect
that 'the Board cannot entertain your application for,' etc. You say the
two cases are not alike. They are not. Your child has never heard of
Epictetus. On the other hand, justice _is_ the moon. At your age you
surely know that. 'But the Directors _ought_ to have granted my
application,' you insist. Exactly! I agree. But we are not in a universe
of _oughts_. You have a special apparatus within you for dealing with a
universe where _oughts_ are flagrantly disregarded. And you are not
using it. You are lying awake, keeping your wife awake, injuring your
health, injuring hers, losing your dignity and your cheerfulness. Why?
Because you think that these antics and performances will influence the
Board? Because you think that they will put you into a better condition
for dealing with your environment to-morrow? Not a bit. Simply because
the machine is at fault.

In certain cases we do make use of our machines (as well as their sad
condition of neglect will allow), but in other cases we behave in an
extraordinarily irrational manner. Thus if we sally out and get caught
in a heavy shower we do not, unless very far gone in foolishness, sit
down and curse the weather. We put up our umbrella, if we have one, and
if not we hurry home. We may grumble, but it is not serious grumbling;
we accept the shower as a fact of the universe, and control ourselves.
Thus also, if by a sudden catastrophe we lose somebody who is important
to us, we grieve, but we control ourselves, recognising one of those
hazards of destiny from which not even millionaires are exempt. And the
result on our Ego is usually to improve it in essential respects. But
there are other strokes of destiny, other facts of the universe,
against which we protest as a child protests when deprived of the moon.

Take the case of an individual with an imperfect idea of honesty. Now,
that individual is the consequence of his father and mother and his
environment, and his father and mother of theirs, and so backwards to
the single-celled protoplasm. That individual is a result of the cosmic
order, the inevitable product of cause and effect. We know that. We must
admit that he is just as much a fact of the universe as a shower of rain
or a storm at sea that swallows a ship. We freely grant in the abstract
that there must be, at the present stage of evolution, a certain number
of persons with unfair minds. We are quite ready to contemplate such an
individual with philosophy--until it happens that, in the course of the
progress of the solar system, he runs up against ourselves. Then listen
to the outcry! Listen to the continual explosions of a righteous man
aggrieved! The individual may be our clerk, cashier, son, father,
brother, partner, wife, employer. We are ill-used! We are being treated
unfairly! We kick; we scream. We nourish the inward sense of grievance
that eats the core out of content. We sit down in the rain. We decline
to think of umbrellas, or to run to shelter.

We care not that that individual is a fact which the universe has been
slowly manufacturing for millions of years. Our attitude implies that we
want eternity to roll back and begin again, in such wise that we at any
rate shall not be disturbed. Though we have a machine for the
transmutation of facts into food for our growth, we do not dream of
using it. But, we say, he is doing us harm! Where? In our minds. He has
robbed us of our peace, our comfort, our happiness, our good temper.
Even if he has, we might just as well inveigh against a shower. But has
he? What was our brain doing while this naughty person stepped in and
robbed us of the only possessions worth having? No, no! It is not that
he has done us harm--the one cheerful item in a universe of stony facts
is that no one can harm anybody except himself--it is merely that we
have been silly, precisely as silly as if we had taken a seat in the
rain with a folded umbrella by our side.... The machine is at fault. I
fancy we are now obtaining glimpses of what that phrase really means.

VII

WHAT 'LIVING' CHIEFLY IS

It is in intercourse--social, sentimental, or business--with one's
fellows that the qualities and the condition of the human machine are
put to the test and strained. That part of my life which I conduct by
myself, without reference--or at any rate without direct reference--to
others, I can usually manage in such a way that the gods do not
positively weep at the spectacle thereof. My environment is simpler,
less puzzling, when I am alone, my calm and my self-control less liable
to violent fluctuations. Impossible to be disturbed by a chair!
Impossible that a chair should get on one's nerves! Impossible to blame
a chair for not being as reasonable, as archangelic as I am myself! But
when it comes to people!... Well, that is
'living,' then! The art of life, the art of extracting all its power
from the human machine, does not lie chiefly in processes of
bookish-culture, nor in contemplations of the beauty and majesty of
existence. It lies chiefly in keeping the peace, the whole peace, and
nothing but the peace, with those with whom one is 'thrown.' Is it in
sitting ecstatic over Shelley, Shakespeare, or Herbert Spencer, solitary
in my room of a night, that I am 'improving myself' and learning to
live? Or is it in watching over all my daily human contacts? Do not seek
to escape the comparison by insinuating that I despise study, or by
pointing out that the eternal verities are beyond dailiness. Nothing of
the kind! I am so 'silly' about books that merely to possess them gives
me pleasure. And if the verities are good for eternity they ought to be
good for a day. If I cannot exchange them for daily coin--if I can't
buy happiness for a single day because I've nothing less than an eternal
verity about me and nobody has sufficient change--then my eternal verity
is not an eternal verity. It is merely an unnegotiable bit of glass
(called a diamond), or even a note on the Bank of Engraving.

I can say to myself when I arise in the morning: 'I am master of my
brain. No one can get in there and rage about like a bull in a china
shop. If my companions on the planet's crust choose to rage about they
cannot affect _me_! I will not let them. I have power to maintain my own
calm, and I will. No earthly being can force me to be false to my
principles, or to be blind to the beauty of the universe, or to be
gloomy, or to be irritable, or to complain against my lot. For these
things depend on the brain; cheerfulness, kindliness, and honest
thinking are all within the department of the brain. The disciplined
brain can accomplish them. And my brain is disciplined, and I will
discipline it more and more as the days pass. I am, therefore,
independent of hazard, and I will back myself to conduct all intercourse
as becomes a rational creature.' ... I can say this. I can ram this
argument by force of will into my brain, and by dint of repeating it
often enough I shall assuredly arrive at the supreme virtues of reason.
I should assuredly conquer--the brain being such a machine of
habit--even if I did not take the trouble to consider in the slightest
degree what manner of things my fellow-men are--by acting merely in my
own interests. But the way of perfection (I speak relatively) will be
immensely shortened and smoothed if I do consider, dispassionately, the
case of the other human machines. Thus:--

The truth is that my attitude towards my fellows is fundamentally and
totally wrong, and that it entails on my thinking machine a strain
which is quite unnecessary, though I may have arranged the machine so as
to withstand the strain successfully. The secret of smooth living is a
calm cheerfulness which will leave me always in full possession of my
reasoning faculty--in order that I may live by reason instead of by
instinct and momentary passion. The secret of calm cheerfulness is
kindliness; no person can be consistently cheerful and calm who does not
consistently think kind thoughts. But how can I be kindly when I pass
the major portion of my time in blaming the people who surround me--who
are part of my environment? If I, blaming, achieve some approach to
kindliness, it is only by a great and exhausting effort of self-mastery.
The inmost secret, then, lies in not blaming, in not judging and
emitting verdicts. Oh! I do not blame by word of mouth! I am far too
advanced for such a puerility. I keep the blame in my own breast, where
it festers. I am always privately forgiving, which is bad for me.
Because, you know, there is nothing to forgive. I do not have to forgive
bad weather; nor, if I found myself in an earthquake, should I have to
forgive the earthquake.

All blame, uttered or unexpressed, is wrong. I do not blame myself. I
can explain myself to myself. I can invariably explain myself. If I
forged a friend's name on a cheque I should explain the affair quite
satisfactorily to myself. And instead of blaming myself I should
sympathise with myself for having been driven into such an excessively
awkward corner. Let me examine honestly my mental processes, and I must
admit that my attitude towards others is entirely different from my
attitude towards myself. I must admit that in the seclusion of my mind,
though I say not a word, I am constantly blaming others because I am
not happy. Whenever I bump up against an opposing personality and my
smooth progress is impeded, I secretly blame the opposer. I act as
though I had shouted to the world: 'Clear out of the way, every one, for
I am coming!' Every one does not clear out of the way. I did not really
expect every one to clear out of the way. But I act, within, as though I
had so expected. I blame. Hence kindliness, hence cheerfulness, is
rendered vastly more difficult for me.

What I ought to do is this! I ought to reflect again and again, and yet
again, that the beings among whom I have to steer, the living
environment out of which I have to manufacture my happiness, are just as
inevitable in the scheme of evolution as I am myself; have just as much
right to be themselves as I have to be myself; are precisely my equals
in the face of Nature; are capable of being explained as I am capable
of being explained; are entitled to the same latitude as I am entitled
to, and are no more responsible for their composition and their
environment than I for mine. I ought to reflect again and again, and yet
again, that they all deserve from me as much sympathy as I give to
myself. Why not? Having thus reflected in a general manner, I ought to
take one by one the individuals with whom I am brought into frequent
contact, and seek, by a deliberate effort of the imagination and the
reason, to understand them, to understand why they act thus and thus,
what their difficulties are, what their 'explanation' is, and how
friction can be avoided. So I ought to reflect, morning after morning,
until my brain is saturated with the cases of these individuals. Here is
a course of discipline. If I follow it I shall gradually lose the
preposterous habit of blaming, and I shall have laid the foundations of
that quiet, unshakable self-possession which is the indispensable
preliminary of conduct according to reason, of thorough efficiency in
the machine of happiness. But something in me, something distinctly
base, says: 'Yes. The put-yourself-in-his-place business over again! The
do-unto-others business over again!' Just so! Something in me is ashamed
of being 'moral.' (You all know the feeling!) Well, morals are naught
but another name for reasonable conduct; a higher and more practical
form of egotism--an egotism which, while freeing others, frees myself. I
have tried the lower form of egotism. And it has failed. If I am afraid
of being moral, if I prefer to cut off my nose to spite my face, well, I
must accept the consequences. But truth will prevail.

VIII

THE DAILY FRICTION

It is with common daily affairs that I am now dealing, not with heroic
enterprises, ambitions, martyrdoms. Take the day, the ordinary day in
the ordinary house or office. Though it comes seven times a week, and is
the most banal thing imaginable, it is quite worth attention. How does
the machine get through it? Ah! the best that can be said of the machine
is that it does get through it, somehow. The friction, though seldom
such as to bring matters to a standstill, is frequent--the sort of
friction that, when it occurs in a bicycle, is just sufficient to annoy
the rider, but not sufficient to make him get off the machine and
examine the bearings. Occasionally the friction is very loud; indeed,
disturbing, and at rarer intervals it shrieks, like an omnibus brake out
of order. You know those days when you have the sensation that life is
not large enough to contain the household or the office-staff, when the
business of intercourse may be compared to the manoeuvres of two people
who, having awakened with a bad headache, are obliged to dress
simultaneously in a very small bedroom. 'After you with that towel!' in
accents of bitter, grinding politeness. 'If you could kindly move your
things off this chair!' in a voice that would blow brains out if it were
a bullet. I venture to say that you know those days. 'But,' you reply,
'such days are few. Usually...!' Well, usually, the friction, though
less intense, is still proceeding. We grow accustomed to it. We scarcely
notice it, as a person in a stuffy chamber will scarcely notice the
stuffiness. But the deteriorating influence due to friction goes on,
even if unperceived. And one morning we perceive its ravages--and write
a letter to the _Telegraph_ to inquire whether life is worth living, or
whether marriage is a failure, or whether men are more polite than
women. The proof that friction, in various and varying degrees, is
practically conscious in most households lies in the fact that when we
chance on a household where there is no friction we are startled. We
can't recover from the phenomenon. And in describing this household to
our friends, we say: 'They get on so well together,' as if we were
saying: 'They have wings and can fly! Just fancy! Did you ever hear of
such a thing?'

Ninety per cent. of all daily friction is caused by tone--mere tone of
voice. Try this experiment. Say: 'Oh, you little darling, you sweet pet,
you entirely charming creature!' to a baby or a dog; but roar these
delightful epithets in the tone of saying: 'You infernal little
nuisance! If I hear another sound I'll break every bone in your body!'
The baby will infallibly whimper, and the dog will infallibly mouch off.
True, a dog is not a human being, neither is a baby. They cannot
understand. It is precisely because they cannot understand and
articulate words that the experiment is valuable; for it separates the
effect of the tone from the effect of the word spoken. He who speaks,
speaks twice. His words convey his thought, and his tone conveys his
mental attitude towards the person spoken to. And certainly the
attitude, so far as friction goes, is more important than the thought.
Your wife may say to you: 'I shall buy that hat I spoke to you about.'
And you may reply, quite sincerely, 'As you please.' But it will depend
on your tone whether you convey: 'As you please. I am sympathetically
anxious that your innocent caprices should be indulged.' Or whether you
convey: 'As you please. Only don't bother me with hats. I am above hats.
A great deal too much money is spent in this house on hats. However, I'm
helpless!' Or whether you convey: 'As you please, heart of my heart, but
if you would like to be a nice girl, go gently. We're rather tight.' I
need not elaborate. I am sure of being comprehended.

As tone is the expression of attitude, it is, of course, caused by
attitude. The frictional tone is chiefly due to that general attitude of
blame which I have already condemned as being absurd and unjustifiable.
As, by constant watchful discipline, we gradually lose this silly
attitude of blame, so the tone will of itself gradually change. But the
two ameliorations can proceed together, and it is a curious thing that
an agreeable tone, artificially and deliberately adopted, will
influence the mental attitude almost as much as the mental attitude will
influence the tone. If you honestly feel resentful against some one,
but, having understood the foolishness of fury, intentionally mask your
fury under a persuasive tone, your fury will at once begin to abate. You
will be led into a rational train of thought; you will see that after
all the object of your resentment has a right to exist, and that he is
neither a doormat nor a scoundrel, and that anyhow nothing is to be
gained, and much is to be lost, by fury. You will see that fury is
unworthy of you.

Do you remember the gentleness of the tone which you employed after the
healing of your first quarrel with a beloved companion? Do you remember
the persuasive tone which you used when you wanted to obtain something
from a difficult person on whom your happiness depended? Why should not
your tone always combine these qualities? Why should you not carefully
school your tone? Is it beneath you to ensure the largest possible
amount of your own 'way' by the simplest means? Or is there at the back
of your mind that peculiarly English and German idea that politeness,
sympathy, and respect for another immortal soul would imply deplorable
weakness on your part? You say that your happiness does not depend on
every person whom you happen to speak to. Yes, it does. Your happiness
is always dependent on just that person. Produce friction, and you
suffer. Idle to argue that the person has no business to be upset by
your tone! You have caused avoidable friction, simply because your
machine for dealing with your environment was suffering from pride,
ignorance, or thoughtlessness. You say I am making a mountain out of a
mole-hill. No! I am making a mountain out of ten million mole-hills.
And that is what life does. It is the little but continuous causes that
have great effects. I repeat: Why not deliberately adopt a gentle,
persuasive tone--just to see what the results are? Surely you are not
ashamed to be wise. You may smile superiorly as you read this. Yet you
know very well that more than once you _have_ resolved to use a gentle
and persuasive tone on all occasions, and that the sole reason why you
had that fearful shindy yesterday with your cousin's sister-in-law was
that you had long since failed to keep your resolve. But you were of my
mind once, and more than once.

What you have to do is to teach the new habit to your brain by daily
concentration on it; by forcing your brain to think of nothing else for
half an hour of a morning. After a time the brain will begin to remember
automatically. For, of course, the explanation of your previous
failures is that your brain, undisciplined, merely forgot at the
critical moment. The tone was out of your mouth before your brain had
waked up. It is necessary to watch, as though you were a sentinel, not
only against the wrong tone, but against the other symptoms of the
attitude of blame. Such as the frown. It is necessary to regard yourself
constantly, and in minute detail. You lie in bed for half an hour and
enthusiastically concentrate on this beautiful new scheme of the right
tone. You rise, and because you don't achieve a proper elegance of
necktie at the first knotting, you frown and swear and clench your
teeth! There is a symptom of the wrong attitude towards your
environment. You are awake, but your brain isn't. It is in such a
symptom that you may judge yourself. And not a trifling symptom either!
If you will frown at a necktie, if you will use language to a necktie
which no gentleman should use to a necktie, what will you be capable of
to a responsible being?... Yes, it is very difficult. But it can be
done.

IX

'FIRE!'

In this business of daily living, of ordinary usage of the machine in
hourly intercourse, there occurs sometimes a phenomenon which is the
cause of a great deal of trouble, and the result of a very ill-tended
machine. It is a phenomenon impossible to ignore, and yet, so shameful
is it, so degrading, so shocking, so miserable, that I hesitate to
mention it. For one class of reader is certain to ridicule me, loftily
saying: 'One really doesn't expect to find this sort of thing in print
nowadays!' And another class of reader is certain to get angry.
Nevertheless, as one of my main objects in the present book is to
discuss matters which 'people don't talk about,' I shall discuss this
matter. But my diffidence in doing so is such that I must approach it
deviously, describing it first by means of a figure.

Imagine that, looking at a man's house, you suddenly perceive it to be
on fire. The flame is scarcely perceptible. You could put it out if you
had a free hand. But you have not got a free hand. It is his house, not
yours. He may or may not know that his house is burning. You are aware,
by experience, however, that if you directed his attention to the flame,
the effect of your warning would be exceedingly singular, almost
incredible. For the effect would be that he would instantly begin to
strike matches, pour on petroleum, and fan the flame, violently
resenting interference. Therefore you can only stand and watch, hoping
that he will notice the flames before they are beyond control, and
extinguish them. The probability is, however, that he will notice the
flames too late. And powerless to avert disaster, you are condemned,
therefore, to watch the damage of valuable property. The flames leap
higher and higher, and they do not die down till they have burned
themselves out. You avert your gaze from the spectacle, and until you
are gone the owner of the house pretends that nothing has occurred. When
alone he curses himself for his carelessness.

The foregoing is meant to be a description of what happens when a man
passes through the incendiary experience known as 'losing his temper.'
(There! the cat of my chapter is out of the bag!) A man who has lost his
temper is simply being 'burnt out.' His constitutes one of the most
curious and (for everybody) humiliating spectacles that life offers. It
is an insurrection, a boiling over, a sweeping storm. Dignity, common
sense, justice are shrivelled up and destroyed. Anarchy reigns. The
devil has broken his chain. Instinct is stamping on the face of reason.
And in that man civilisation has temporarily receded millions of years.
Of course, the thing amounts to a nervous disease, and I think it is
almost universal. You at once protest that you never lose your
temper--haven't lost your temper for ages! But do you not mean that you
have not smashed furniture for ages? These fires are of varying
intensities. Some of them burn very dully. Yet they burn. One man loses
his temper; another is merely 'ruffled.' But the event is the same in
kind. When you are 'ruffled,' when you are conscious of a resentful
vibration that surprises all your being, when your voice changes, when
you notice a change in the demeanour of your companion, who sees that he
has 'touched a tender point,' you may not go to the length of smashing
furniture, but you have had a fire, and your dignity is damaged. You
admit it to yourself afterwards. I am sure you know what I mean. And I
am nearly sure that you, with your courageous candour, will admit that
from time to time you suffer from these mysterious 'fires.'

'Temper,' one of the plagues of human society, is generally held to be
incurable, save by the vague process of exercising self-control--a
process which seldom has any beneficial results. It is regarded now as
smallpox used to be regarded--as a visitation of Providence, which must
be borne. But I do not hold it to be incurable. I am convinced that it
is permanently curable. And its eminent importance as a nuisance to
mankind at large deserves, I think, that it should receive particular
attention. Anyhow, I am strongly against the visitation of Providence
theory, as being unscientific, primitive, and conducive to unashamed
_laissez-aller._ A man can be master in his own house. If he cannot be
master by simple force of will, he can be master by ruse and wile. I
would employ cleverness to maintain the throne of reason when it is
likely to be upset in the mind by one of these devastating and
disgraceful insurrections of brute instinct.

It is useless for a man in the habit of losing or mislaying his temper
to argue with himself that such a proceeding is folly, that it serves no
end, and does nothing but harm. It is useless for him to argue that in
allowing his temper to stray he is probably guilty of cruelty, and
certainly guilty of injustice to those persons who are forced to witness
the loss. It is useless for him to argue that a man of uncertain temper
in a house is like a man who goes about a house with a loaded revolver
sticking from his pocket, and that all considerations of fairness and
reason have to be subordinated in that house to the fear of the
revolver, and that such peace as is maintained in that house is often a
shameful and an unjust peace. These arguments will not be strong enough
to prevail against one of the most powerful and capricious of all
habits. This habit must be met and conquered (and it _can_ be!) by an
even more powerful quality in the human mind; I mean the universal human
horror of looking ridiculous. The man who loses his temper often thinks
he is doing something rather fine and majestic. On the contrary, so far
is this from being the fact, he is merely making an ass of himself. He
is merely parading himself as an undignified fool, as that supremely
contemptible figure--a grown-up baby. He may intimidate a feeble
companion by his raging, or by the dark sullenness of a more subdued
flame, but in the heart of even the weakest companion is a bedrock
feeling of contempt for him. The way in which a man of uncertain temper
is treated by his friends proves that they despise him, for they do not
treat him as a reasonable being. How should they treat him as a
reasonable being when the tenure of his reason is so insecure? And if
only he could hear what is said of him behind his back!...

The invalid can cure himself by teaching his brain the habit of dwelling
upon his extreme fatuity. Let him concentrate regularly, with intense
fixation, upon the ideas: 'When I lose my temper, when I get ruffled,
when that mysterious vibration runs through me, I am making a donkey of
myself, a donkey, and a donkey! You understand, a preposterous donkey! I
am behaving like a great baby. I look a fool. I am a spectacle bereft of
dignity. Everybody despises me, smiles at me in secret, disdains the
idiotic ass with whom it is impossible to reason.'

Ordinarily the invalid disguises from himself this aspect of his
disease, and his brain will instinctively avoid it as much as it can.
But in hours of calm he can slowly and regularly force his brain, by
the practice of concentration, to familiarise itself with just this
aspect, so that in time its instinct will be to think first, and not
last, of just this aspect. When he has arrived at that point he is
saved. No man who, at the very inception of the fire, is visited with a
clear vision of himself as an arrant ass and pitiable object of
contempt, will lack the volition to put the fire out. But, be it noted,
he will not succeed until he can do it at once. A fire is a fire, and
the engines must gallop by themselves out of the station instantly. This
means the acquirement of a mental habit. During the preliminary stages
of the cure he should, of course, avoid inflammable situations. This is
a perfectly simple thing to do, if the brain has been disciplined out of
its natural forgetfulness.

X

MISCHIEVOUSLY OVERWORKING IT

I have dealt with the two general major causes of friction in the daily
use of the machine. I will now deal with a minor cause, and make an end
of mere dailiness. This minor cause--and after all I do not know that
its results are so trifling as to justify the epithet 'minor'--is the
straining of the machine by forcing it to do work which it was never
intended to do. Although we are incapable of persuading our machines to
do effectively that which they are bound to do somehow, we continually
overburden them with entirely unnecessary and inept tasks. We cannot, it
would seem, let things alone.

For example, in the ordinary household the amount of machine horse-power
expended in fighting for the truth is really quite absurd. This pure
zeal for the establishment and general admission of the truth is usually
termed 'contradictoriness.' But, of course, it is not that; it is
something higher. My wife states that the Joneses have gone into a new
flat, of which the rent is L165 a year. Now, Jones has told me
personally that the rent of his new flat is L156 a year. I correct my
wife. Knowing that she is in the right, she corrects me. She cannot bear
that a falsehood should prevail. It is not a question of L9, it is a
question of truth. Her enthusiasm for truth excites my enthusiasm for
truth. Five minutes ago I didn't care twopence whether the rent of the
Joneses' new flat was L165 or L156 or L1056 a year. But now I care
intensely that it is L156. I have formed myself into a select society
for the propagating of the truth about the rent of the Joneses' new
flat, and my wife has done the same. In eloquence, in argumentative
skill, in strict supervision of our tempers, we each of us squander
enormous quantities of that h.-p. which is so precious to us. And the
net effect is naught.

Now, if one of us two had understood the elementary principles of human
engineering, that one would have said (privately): 'Truth is
indestructible. Truth will out. Truth is never in a hurry. If it doesn't
come out to-day it will come out to-morrow or next year. It can take
care of itself. Ultimately my wife (or my husband) will learn the
essential cosmic truth about the rent of the Joneses' new flat. I
already know it, and the moment when she (or he) knows it also will be
the moment of my triumph. She (or he) will not celebrate my triumph
openly, but it will be none the less real. And my reputation for
accuracy and calm restraint will be consolidated. If, by a rare
mischance, I am in error, it will be vastly better for me in the day of
my undoing that I have not been too positive now. Besides, nobody has
appointed me sole custodian of the great truth concerning the rent of
the Joneses' new flat. I was not brought into the world to be a
safe-deposit, and more urgent matters summon me to effort.' If one of us
had meditated thus, much needless friction would have been avoided and
power saved; _amour-propre_ would not have been exposed to risks; the
sacred cause of truth would not in the least have suffered; and the rent
of the Joneses' new flat would anyhow have remained exactly what it is.

In addition to straining the machine by our excessive anxiety for the
spread of truth, we give a very great deal too much attention to the
state of other people's machines. I cannot too strongly, too
sarcastically, deprecate this astonishing habit. It will be found to be
rife in nearly every household and in nearly every office. We are most
of us endeavouring to rearrange the mechanism in other heads than our
own. This is always dangerous and generally futile. Considering the
difficulty we have in our own brains, where our efforts are sure of
being accepted as well-meant, and where we have at any rate a rough
notion of the machine's construction, our intrepidity in adventuring
among the delicate adjustments of other brains is remarkable. We are
cursed by too much of the missionary spirit. We must needs voyage into
the China of our brother's brain, and explain there that things are
seriously wrong in that heathen land, and make ourselves unpleasant in
the hope of getting them put right. We have all our own brain and body
on which to wreak our personality, but this is not enough; we must
extend our personality further, just as though we were a colonising
world-power intoxicated by the idea of the 'white man's burden.'

One of the central secrets of efficient daily living is to leave our
daily companions alone a great deal more than we do, and attend to
ourselves. If a daily companion is conducting his life upon principles
which you know to be false, and with results which you feel to be
unpleasant, the safe rule is to keep your mouth shut. Or if, out of your
singular conceit, you are compelled to open it, open it with all
precautions, and with the formal politeness you would use to a stranger.
Intimacy is no excuse for rough manners, though the majority of us seem
to think it is. You are not in charge of the universe; you are in charge
of yourself. You cannot hope to manage the universe in your spare time,
and if you try you will probably make a mess of such part of the
universe as you touch, while gravely neglecting yourself. In every
family there is generally some one whose meddlesome interest in other
machines leads to serious friction in his own. Criticise less, even in
the secrecy of your chamber. And do not blame at all. Accept your
environment and adapt yourself to it in silence, instead of noisily
attempting to adapt your environment to yourself. Here is true wisdom.
You have no business trespassing beyond the confines of your own
individuality. In so trespassing you are guilty of impertinence. This is
obvious. And yet one of the chief activities of home-life consists in
prancing about at random on other people's private lawns. What I say
applies even to the relation between parents and children. And though my
precept is exaggerated, it is purposely exaggerated in order effectively
to balance the exaggeration in the opposite direction.

All individualities, other than one's own, are part of one's
environment. The evolutionary process is going on all right, and they
are a portion of it. Treat them as inevitable. To assert that they are
inevitable is not to assert that they are unalterable. Only the
alteration of them is not primarily your affair; it is theirs. Your
affair is to use them, as they are, without self-righteousness, blame,
or complaint, for the smooth furtherance of your own ends. There is no
intention here to rob them of responsibility by depriving them of
free-will while saddling _you_ with responsibility as a free agent. As
your environment they must be accepted as inevitable, because they _are_
inevitable. But as centres themselves they have their own
responsibility: which is not yours. The historic question: 'Have we
free-will, or are we the puppets of determinism?' enters now. As a
question it is fascinating and futile. It has never been, and it never
will be, settled. The theory of determinism cannot be demolished by
argument. But in his heart every man, including the most obstinate
supporter of the theory, demolishes it every hour of every day. On the
other hand, the theory of free-will can be demolished by ratiocination!
So much the worse for ratiocination! _If we regard ourselves as free
agents, and the personalities surrounding us as the puppets of
determinism_, we shall have arrived at the working compromise from which
the finest results of living can be obtained. The philosophic experience
of centuries, if it has proved anything, has proved this. And the man
who acts upon it in the common, banal contracts and collisions of the
difficult experiment which we call daily life, will speedily become
convinced of its practical worth.

XI

AN INTERLUDE

For ten chapters you have stood it, but not without protest. I know the
feeling which is in your minds, and which has manifested itself in
numerous criticisms of my ideas. That feeling may be briefly translated,
perhaps, thus: 'This is all very well, but it isn't true, not a bit!
It's only a fairy-tale that you have been telling us. Miracles don't
happen,' etc. I, on my part, have a feeling that unless I take your
feeling in hand at once, and firmly deal with it, I had better put my
shutters up, for you will have got into the way of regarding me simply
as a source of idle amusement. Already I can perceive, from the
expressions of some critics, that, so far as they are concerned, I
might just as well not have written a word. Therefore at this point I
pause, in order to insist once more upon what I began by saying.

The burden of your criticism is: 'Human nature is always the same. I
know my faults. But it is useless to tell me about them. I can't alter
them. I was born like that.' The fatal weakness of this argument is,
first, that it is based on a complete falsity; and second, that it puts
you in an untenable position. Human nature _does_ change. Nothing can be
more unscientific, more hopelessly mediaeval, than to imagine that it
does not. It changes like everything else. You can't see it change.
True! But then you can't see the grass growing--not unless you arise
very early.

Is human nature the same now as in the days of Babylonian civilisation,
when the social machine was oiled by drenchings of blood? Is it the same
now as in the days of Greek civilisation, when there was no such thing
as romantic love between the sexes? Is it the same now as it was during
the centuries when constant friction had to provide its own cure in the
shape of constant war? Is it the same now as it was on 2nd March 1819,
when the British Government officially opposed a motion to consider the
severity of the criminal laws (which included capital punishment for
cutting down a tree, and other sensible dodges against friction), and
were defeated by a majority of only nineteen votes? Is it the same now
as in the year 1883, when the first S.P.C.C. was formed in England?

If you consider that human nature is still the same you should instantly
go out and make a bonfire of the works of Spencer, Darwin, and Wallace,
and then return to enjoy the purely jocular side of the present volume.
If you admit that it has changed, let me ask you how it has changed,
unless by the continual infinitesimal efforts, _upon themselves_, of
individual men, like you and me. Did you suppose it was changed by
magic, or by Acts of Parliament, or by the action of groups on persons,
and not of persons on groups? Let me tell you that human nature has
changed since yesterday. Let me tell you that to-day reason has a more
powerful voice in the directing of instinct than it had yesterday. Let
me tell you that to-day the friction of the machines is less screechy
and grinding than it was yesterday.

'You were born like that, and you can't alter yourself, and so it's no
use talking.' If you really believe this, why make any effort at all?
Why not let the whole business beautifully slide and yield to your
instincts? What object can there be in trying to control yourself in any
manner whatever if you are unalterable? Assert yourself to be
unalterable, and you assert yourself a fatalist. Assert yourself a
fatalist, and you free yourself from all moral responsibility--and other
people, too. Well, then, act up to your convictions, if convictions they
are. If you can't alter yourself, I can't alter myself, and supposing
that I come along and bash you on the head and steal your purse, you
can't blame me. You can only, on recovering consciousness,
affectionately grasp my hand and murmur: 'Don't apologise, my dear
fellow; we can't alter ourselves.'

This, you say, is absurd. It is. That is one of my innumerable points.
The truth is, you do not really believe that you cannot alter yourself.
What is the matter with you is just what is the matter with me--sheer
idleness. You hate getting up in the morning, and to excuse your
inexcusable indolence you talk big about Fate. Just as 'patriotism is
the last refuge of a scoundrel,' so fatalism is the last refuge of a
shirker. But you deceive no one, least of all yourself. You have not,
rationally, a leg to stand on. At this juncture, because I have made you
laugh, you consent to say: 'I do try, all I can. But I can only alter
myself a very little. By constitution I am mentally idle. I can't help
that, can I?' Well, so long as you are not the only absolutely
unchangeable thing in a universe of change, I don't mind. It is
something for you to admit that you can alter yourself even a very
little. The difference between our philosophies is now only a question
of degree.

In the application of any system of perfecting the machine, no two
persons will succeed equally. From the disappointed tone of some of your
criticisms it might be fancied that I had advertised a system for making
archangels out of tailors' dummies. Such was not my hope. I have no
belief in miracles. But I know that when a thing is thoroughly well
done it often has the air of being a miracle. My sole aim is to insist
that every man shall perfect his machine to the best of _his_ powers,
not to the best of somebody else's powers. I do not indulge in any hope
that a man can be better than his best self. I am, however, convinced
that every man fails to be his best self a great deal oftener than he
need fail--for the reason that his will-power, be it great or small, is
not directed according to the principles of common sense.

Common sense will surely lead a man to ask the question: 'Why did my
actions yesterday contradict my reason?' The reply to this question will
nearly always be: 'Because at the critical moment I forgot.' The supreme
explanation of the abortive results of so many efforts at
self-alteration, the supreme explanation of our frequent miserable
scurrying into a doctrine of fatalism, is simple forgetfulness. It is
not force that we lack, but the skill to remember exactly what our
reason would have us do or think at the moment itself. How is this skill
to be acquired? It can only be acquired, as skill at games is acquired,
by practice; by the training of the organ involved to such a point that
the organ acts rightly by instinct instead of wrongly by instinct. There
are degrees of success in this procedure, but there is no such
phenomenon as complete failure.

Habits which increase friction can be replaced by habits which lessen
friction. Habits which arrest development can be replaced by habits
which encourage development. And as a habit is formed naturally, so it
can be formed artificially, by imitation of the unconscious process, by
accustoming the brain to the new idea. Let me, as an example, refer
again to the minor subject of daily friction, and, within that subject,
to the influence of tone. A man employs a frictional tone through
habit. The frictional tone is an instinct with him. But if he had a
quarter of an hour to reflect before speaking, and if during that
quarter of an hour he could always listen to arguments against the
frictional tone, his use of the frictional tone would rapidly diminish;
his reason would conquer his instinct. As things are, his instinct
conquers his reason by a surprise attack, by taking it unawares. Regular
daily concentration of the brain, for a certain period, upon the
non-frictional tone, and the immense advantages of its use, will
gradually set up in the brain a new habit of thinking about the
non-frictional tone; until at length the brain, disciplined, turns to
the correct act before the old, silly instinct can capture it; and
ultimately a new sagacious instinct will supplant the old one.

This is the rationale. It applies to all habits. Any person can test its
efficiency in any habit. I care not whether he be of strong or weak
will--he can test it. He will soon see the tremendous difference between
merely 'making a good resolution'--(he has been doing that all his life
without any very brilliant consequences)--and concentrating the brain
for a given time exclusively upon a good resolution. Concentration, the
efficient mastery of the brain--all is there!

XII

AN INTEREST IN LIFE

After a certain period of mental discipline, of deliberate habit-forming
and habit-breaking, such as I have been indicating, a man will begin to
acquire at any rate a superficial knowledge, a nodding acquaintance,
with that wonderful and mysterious affair, his brain, and he will also
begin to perceive how important a factor in daily life is the control of
his brain. He will assuredly be surprised at the miracles which lie
between his collar and his hat, in that queer box that he calls his
head. For the effects that can be accomplished by mere steady,
persistent thinking must appear to be miracles to apprentices in the
practice of thought. When once a man, having passed an unhappy day
because his clumsy, negligent brain forgot to control his instincts at a
critical moment, has said to his brain: 'I will force you, by
concentrating you on that particular point, to act efficiently the next
time similar circumstances arise,' and when he has carried out his
intention, and when the awkward circumstances have recurred, and his
brain, disciplined, has done its work, and so prevented
unhappiness--then that man will regard his brain with a new eye. 'By
Jove!' he will say; 'I've stopped one source of unhappiness, anyway.
There was a time when I should have made a fool of myself in a little
domestic crisis such as to-day's. But I have gone safely through it. I
am all right. She is all right. The atmosphere is not dangerous with
undischarged electricity! And all because my brain, being in proper
condition, watched firmly over my instincts! I must keep this up.' He
will peer into that brain more and more. He will see more and more of
its possibilities. He will have a new and a supreme interest in _life_.
A garden is a fairly interesting thing. But the cultivation of a garden
is as dull as cold mutton compared to the cultivation of a brain; and
wet weather won't interfere with digging, planting, and pruning in the
box.

In due season the man whose hobby is his brain will gradually settle
down into a daily routine, with which routine he will start the day. The
idea at the back of the mind of the ordinary man (by the ordinary man I
mean the man whose brain is not his hobby) is almost always this: 'There
are several things at present hanging over me--worries, unfulfilled
ambitions, unrealised desires. As soon as these things are definitely
settled, then I shall begin to live and enjoy myself.' That is the
ordinary man's usual idea. He has it from his youth to his old age. He
is invariably waiting for something to happen before he really begins to
live. I am sure that if you are an ordinary man (of course, you aren't,
I know) you will admit that this is true of you; you exist in the hope
that one day things will be sufficiently smoothed out for you to begin
to live. That is just where you differ from the man whose brain is his
hobby. His daily routine consists in a meditation in the following vein:
'This day is before me. The circumstances of this day are my
environment; they are the material out of which, by means of my brain, I
have to live and be happy and to refrain from causing unhappiness in
other people. It is the business of my brain to make use of _this_
material. My brain is in its box for that sole purpose. Not to-morrow!
Not next year! Not when I have made my fortune! Not when my sick child
is out of danger! Not when my wife has returned to her senses! Not when
my salary is raised! Not when I have passed that examination! Not when
my indigestion is better! But _now!_ To-day, exactly as to-day is! The
facts of to-day, which in my unregeneracy I regarded primarily as
anxieties, nuisances, impediments, I now regard as so much raw material
from which my brain has to weave a tissue of life that is comely.'

And then he foresees the day as well as he can. His experience teaches
him where he will have difficulty, and he administers to his brain the
lessons of which it will have most need. He carefully looks the machine
over, and arranges it specially for the sort of road which he knows that
it will have to traverse. And especially he readjusts his point of view,
for his point of view is continually getting wrong. He is continually
seeing worries where he ought to see material. He may notice, for
instance, a patch on the back of his head, and he wonders whether it is
the result of age or of disease, or whether it has always been there.
And his wife tells him he must call at the chemist's and satisfy himself
at once. Frightful nuisance! Age! The endless trouble of a capillary
complaint! Calling at the chemist's will make him late at the office!
etc. etc. But then his skilled, efficient brain intervenes: 'What
peculiarly interesting material this mean and petty circumstance yields
for the practice of philosophy and right living!' And again: 'Is _this_
to ruffle you, O my soul? Will it serve any end whatever that I should
buzz nervously round this circumstance instead of attending to my usual
business?'

I give this as an example of the necessity of adjusting the point of
view, and of the manner in which a brain habituated by suitable
concentration to correct thinking will come to the rescue in unexpected
contingencies. Naturally it will work with greater certainty in the
manipulation of difficulties that are expected, that can be 'seen coming
'; and preparation for the expected is, fortunately, preparation for the
unexpected. The man who commences his day by a steady contemplation of
the dangers which the next sixteen hours are likely to furnish, and by
arming himself specially against those dangers, has thereby armed
himself, though to a less extent, against dangers which he did not dream
of. But the routine must be fairly elastic. It may be necessary to
commence several days in succession--for a week or for months,
even--with disciplining the brain in one particular detail, to the
temporary neglect of other matters. It is astonishing how you can weed
every inch of a garden path and keep it in the most meticulous order,
and then one morning find in the very middle of it a lusty, full-grown
plant whose roots are positively mortised in granite! All gardeners are
familiar with such discoveries.

But a similar discovery, though it entails hard labour on him, will not
disgust the man whose hobby is his brain. For the discovery in itself is
part of the material out of which he has to live. If a man is to turn
everything whatsoever into his own calm, dignity, and happiness, he must
make this use even of his own failures. He must look at them as
phenomena of the brain in that box, and cheerfully set about taking
measures to prevent their repetition. All that happens to him, success
or check, will but serve to increase his interest in the contents of
that box. I seem to hear you saying: 'And a fine egotist he'll be!'
Well, he'll be the right sort of egotist. The average man is not half
enough of an egotist. If egotism means a terrific interest in one's
self, egotism is absolutely essential to efficient living. There is no
getting away from that. But if egotism means selfishness, the serious
student of the craft of daily living will not be an egotist for more
than about a year. In a year he will have proved the ineptitude of
egotism.

XIII

SUCCESS AND FAILURE

I am sadly aware that these brief chapters will be apt to convey,
especially to the trustful and enthusiastic reader, a false impression;
the impression of simplicity; and that when experience has roughly
corrected this impression, the said reader, unless he is most solemnly
warned, may abandon the entire enterprise in a fit of disgust, and for
ever afterwards maintain a cynical and impolite attitude towards all
theories of controlling the human machine. Now, the enterprise is not a
simple one. It is based on one simple principle--the conscious
discipline of the brain by selected habits of thought--but it is just
about as complicated as anything well could be. Advanced golf is child's
play compared to it. The man who briefly says to himself: 'I will get
up at 8, and from 8.30 to 9 I will examine and control my brain, and so
my life will at once be instantly improved out of recognition'--that man
is destined to unpleasant surprises. Progress will be slow. Progress may
appear to be quite rapid at first, and then a period of futility may set
in, and the would-be vanquisher of his brain may suffer a series of the
most deadly defeats. And in his pessimism he may imagine that all his
pains have gone for nothing, and that the unserious loungers in
exhibition gardens and readers of novels in parlours are in the right of
it after all. He may even feel rather ashamed of himself for having
been, as he thinks, taken in by specious promises, like the purchaser of
a quack medicine.

The conviction that great effort has been made and no progress achieved
is the chief of the dangers that affront the beginner in
machine-tending. It is, I will assert positively, in every case a
conviction unjustified by the facts, and usually it is the mere result
of reaction after fatigue, encouraged by the instinct for laziness. I do
not think it will survive an impartial examination; but I know that a
man, in order to find an excuse for abandoning further effort, is
capable of convincing himself that past effort has yielded no fruit at
all. So curious is the human machine. I beg every student of himself to
consider this remark with all the intellectual honesty at his disposal.
It is a grave warning.

When the machine-tender observes that he is frequently changing his
point of view; when he notices that what he regarded as the kernel of
the difficulty yesterday has sunk to a triviality to-day, being replaced
by a fresh phenomenon; when he arises one morning and by means of a
new, unexpected glimpse into the recesses of the machine perceives that
hitherto he has been quite wrong and must begin again; when he wonders
how on earth he could have been so blind and so stupid as not to see
what now he sees; when the new vision is veiled by new disappointments
and narrowed by continual reservations; when he is overwhelmed by the
complexity of his undertaking--then let him unhearten himself, for he is
succeeding. The history of success in any art--and machine-tending is an
art--is a history of recommencements, of the dispersal and reforming of
doubts, of an ever-increasing conception of the extent of the territory
unconquered, and an ever-decreasing conception of the extent of the
territory conquered.

It is remarkable that, though no enterprise could possibly present more
diverse and changeful excitements than the mastering of the brain, the
second great danger which threatens its ultimate success is nothing but
a mere drying-up of enthusiasm for it! One would have thought that in an
affair which concerned him so nearly, in an affair whose results might
be in a very strict sense vital to him, in an affair upon which his
happiness and misery might certainly turn, a man would not weary from
sheer tedium. Nevertheless, it is so. Again and again I have noticed the
abandonment, temporary or permanent, of this mighty and thrilling
enterprise from simple lack of interest. And I imagine that, in
practically all cases save those in which an exceptional original force
of will renders the enterprise scarcely necessary, the interest in it
will languish unless it is regularly nourished from without. Now, the
interest in it cannot be nourished from without by means of conversation
with other brain-tamers. There are certain things which may not be
discussed by sanely organised people; and this is one. The affair is
too intimate, and it is also too moral. Even after only a few minutes'
vocalisation on this subject a deadly infection seems to creep into the
air--the infection of priggishness. (Or am I mistaken, and do I fancy
this horror? No; I cannot believe that I am mistaken.)

Hence the nourishment must be obtained by reading; a little reading
every day. I suppose there are some thousands of authors who have
written with more or less sincerity on the management of the human
machine. But the two which, for me, stand out easily above all the rest
are Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Epictetus. Not much has been
discovered since their time. 'The perfecting of life is a power residing
in the soul,' wrote Marcus Aurelius in the ninth book of _To Himself_,
over seventeen hundred years ago. Marcus Aurelius is assuredly regarded
as the greatest of writers in the human machine school, and not to read
him daily is considered by many to be a bad habit. As a confession his
work stands alone. But as a practical 'Bradshaw' of existence, I would
put the discourses of Epictetus before M. Aurelius. Epictetus is
grosser; he will call you a blockhead as soon as look at you; he is
witty, he is even humorous, and he never wanders far away from the
incidents of daily life. He is brimming over with actuality for readers
of the year 1908. He was a freed slave. M. Aurelius was an emperor, and
he had the morbidity from which all emperors must suffer. A finer soul
than Epictetus, he is not, in my view, so useful a companion. Not all of
us can breathe freely in his atmosphere. Nevertheless, he is of course
to be read, and re-read continually. When you have gone through
Epictetus--a single page or paragraph per day, well masticated and
digested, suffices--you can go through M. Aurelius, and then you can
return to Epictetus, and so on, morning by morning, or night by night,
till your life's end. And they will conserve your interest in yourself.

In the matter of concentration, I hesitate to recommend Mrs. Annie
Besant's _Thought Power_, and yet I should be possibly unjust if I did
not recommend it, having regard to its immense influence on myself. It
is not one of the best books of this astounding woman. It is addressed
to theosophists, and can only be completely understood in the light of
theosophistic doctrines. (To grasp it all I found myself obliged to
study a much larger work dealing with theosophy as a whole.) It contains
an appreciable quantity of what strikes me as feeble sentimentalism, and
also a lot of sheer dogma. But it is the least unsatisfactory manual of
the brain that I have met with. And if the profane reader ignores all
that is either Greek or twaddle to him, there will yet remain for his
advantage a vast amount of very sound information and advice. All these
three books are cheap.

XIV

A MAN AND HIS ENVIRONMENT

I now come to an entirely different aspect of the whole subject.
Hitherto I have dealt with the human machine as a contrivance for
adapting the man to his environment. My aim has been to show how much
depends on the machine and how little depends on the environment, and
that the essential business of the machine is to utilise, for making the
stuff of life, the particular environment in which it happens to find
itself--and no other! All this, however, does not imply that one must
accept, fatalistically and permanently and passively, any preposterous
environment into which destiny has chanced to throw us. If we carry far
enough the discipline of our brains, we can, no doubt, arrive at
surprisingly good results in no matter what environment. But it would
not be 'right reason' to expend an excessive amount of will-power on
brain-discipline when a slighter effort in a different direction would
produce consequences more felicitous. A man whom fate had pitched into a
canal might accomplish miracles in the way of rendering himself
amphibian; he might stagger the world by the spectacle of his philosophy
under amazing difficulties; people might pay sixpence a head to come and
see him; but he would be less of a nincompoop if he climbed out and
arranged to live definitely on the bank.

The advantage of an adequate study of the control of the machine, such
as I have outlined, is that it enables the student to judge, with some
certainty, whether the unsatisfactoriness of his life is caused by a
disordered machine or by an environment for which the machine is, in
its fundamental construction, unsuitable. It does help him to decide
justly whether, in the case of a grave difference between them, he, or
the rest of the universe, is in the wrong. And also, if he decides that
he is not in the wrong, it helps him to choose a new environment, or to
modify the old, upon some scientific principle. The vast majority of
people never know, with any precision, why they are dissatisfied with
their sojourn on this planet. They make long and fatiguing excursions in
search of precious materials which all the while are concealed in their
own breasts. They don't know what they want; they only know that they
want something. Or, if they contrive to settle in their own minds what
they do want, a hundred to one the obtaining of it will leave them just
as far off contentment as they were at the beginning! This is a matter
of daily observation: that people are frantically engaged in attempting
to get hold of things which, by universal experience, are hideously
disappointing to those who have obtained possession of them. And still
the struggle goes on, and probably will go on. All because brains are
lying idle! 'It is no trifle that is at stake,' said Epictetus as to the
question of control of instinct by reason. '_It means, Are you in your
senses or are you not_?' In this significance, indubitably the vast
majority of people are not in their senses; otherwise they would not
behave as they do, so vaguely, so happy-go-luckily, so blindly. But the
man whose brain is in working order emphatically _is_ in his senses.

And when a man, by means of the efficiency of his brain, has put his
reason in definite command over his instincts, he at once sees things in
a truer perspective than was before possible, and therefore he is able
to set a just value upon the various parts which go to make up his
environment. If, for instance, he lives in London, and is aware of
constant friction, he will be led to examine the claims of London as a
Mecca for intelligent persons. He may say to himself: 'There is
something wrong, and the seat of trouble is not in the machine. London
compels me to tolerate dirt, darkness, ugliness, strain, tedious daily
journeyings, and general expensiveness. What does London give me in
exchange?' And he may decide that, as London offers him nothing special
in exchange except the glamour of London and an occasional seat at a
good concert or a bad play, he may get a better return for his
expenditure of brains, nerves, and money in the provinces. He may
perceive, with a certain French novelist, that 'most people of truly
distinguished mind prefer the provinces.' And he may then actually, in
obedience to reason, quit the deceptions of London with a tranquil
heart, sure of his diagnosis. Whereas a man who had not devoted much
time to the care of his mental machinery could not screw himself up to
the step, partly from lack of resolution, and partly because he had
never examined the sources of his unhappiness. A man who, not having
full control of his machine, is consistently dissatisfied with his
existence, is like a man who is being secretly poisoned and cannot
decide with what or by whom. And so he has no middle course between
absolute starvation and a continuance of poisoning.

As with the environment of place, so with the environment of
individuals. Most friction between individuals is avoidable friction;
sometimes, however, friction springs from such deep causes that no skill
in the machine can do away with it. But how is the man whose brain is
not in command of his existence to judge whether the unpleasantness can
be cured or not, whether it arises in himself or in the other? He simply
cannot judge. Whereas a man who keeps his brain for use and not for idle
amusement will, when he sees that friction persists in spite of his
brain, be so clearly impressed by the advisability of separation as the
sole cure that he will steel himself to the effort necessary for a
separation. One of the chief advantages of an efficient brain is that an
efficient brain is capable of acting with firmness and resolution,
partly, of course, because it has been toned up, but more because its
operations are not confused by the interference of mere instincts.

Thirdly, there is the environment of one's general purpose in life,
which is, I feel convinced, far more often hopelessly wrong and futile
than either the environment of situation or the environment of
individuals. I will be bold enough to say that quite seventy per cent.
of ambition is never realised at all, and that ninety-nine per cent. of
all realised ambition is fruitless. In other words, that a gigantic
sacrifice of the present to the future is always going on. And here
again the utility of brain-discipline is most strikingly shown. A man
whose first business it is every day to concentrate his mind on the
proper performance of that particular day, must necessarily conserve his
interest in the present. It is impossible that his perspective should
become so warped that he will devote, say, fifty-five years of his
career to problematical preparations for his comfort and his glory
during the final ten years. A man whose brain is his servant, and not
his lady-help or his pet dog, will be in receipt of such daily content
and satisfaction that he will early ask himself the question: 'As for
this ambition that is eating away my hours, what will it give me that I
have not already got?' Further, the steady development of interest in
the hobby (call it!) of common-sense daily living will act as an
automatic test of any ambition. If an ambition survives and flourishes
on the top of that daily cultivation of the machine, then the owner of
the ambition may be sure that it is a genuine and an invincible
ambition, and he may pursue it in full faith; his developed care for the
present will prevent him from making his ambition an altar on which the
whole of the present is to be offered up.

I shall be told that I want to do away with ambition, and that ambition
is the great motive-power of existence, and that therefore I am an enemy
of society and the truth is not in me. But I do not want to do away with
ambition. What I say is that current ambitions usually result in
disappointment, that they usually mean the complete distortion of a
life. This is an incontestable fact, and the reason of it is that
ambitions are chosen either without knowledge of their real value or
without knowledge of what they will cost. A disciplined brain will at
once show the unnecessariness of most ambitions, and will ensure that
the remainder shall be conducted with reason. It will also convince its
possessor that the ambition to live strictly according to the highest
common sense during the next twenty-four hours is an ambition that needs
a lot of beating.

XV

L.S.D.

Anybody who really wishes to talk simple truth about money at the
present time is confronted by a very serious practical difficulty. He
must put himself in opposition to the overwhelming body of public
opinion, and resign himself to being regarded either as a _poseur_, a
crank, or a fool. The public is in search of happiness now, as it was a
million years ago. Money is not the principal factor in happiness. It
may be argued whether, as a factor in happiness, money is of
twentieth-rate importance or fiftieth-rate importance. But it cannot be
argued whether money, in point of fact, does or does not of itself bring
happiness. There can be no doubt whatever that money does not bring
happiness. Yet, in face of this incontrovertible and universal truth,
the whole public behaves exactly as if money were the sole or the
principal preliminary to happiness. The public does not reason, and it
will not listen to reason; its blood is up in the money-hunt, and the
philosopher might as well expostulate with an earthquake as try to take
that public by the button-hole and explain. If a man sacrifices his
interest under the will of some dead social tyrant in order to marry
whom he wishes, if an English minister of religion declines twenty-five
thousand dollars a year to go into exile and preach to New York
millionaires, the phenomenon is genuinely held to be so astounding that
it at once flies right round the world in the form of exclamatory
newspaper articles! In an age when such an attitude towards money is
sincere, it is positively dangerous--I doubt if it may not be
harmful--to persist with loud obstinacy that money, instead of being
the greatest, is the least thing in the world. In times of high military
excitement a man may be ostracised if not lynched for uttering opinions
which everybody will accept as truisms a couple of years later, and thus
the wise philosopher holds his tongue--lest it should be cut out. So at
the zenith of a period when the possession of money in absurd masses is
an infallible means to the general respect, I have no intention either
of preaching or of practising quite all that I privately in the matter
of riches.

It was not always thus. Though there have been previous ages as lustful
for wealth and ostentation as our own, there have also been ages when
money-getting and millionaire-envying were not the sole preoccupations
of the average man. And such an age will undoubtedly succeed to ours.
Few things would surprise me less, in social life, than the upspringing
of some anti-luxury movement, the formation of some league or guild
among the middling classes (where alone intellect is to be found in
quantity), the members of which would bind themselves to stand aloof
from all the great, silly, banal, ugly, and tedious _luxe_-activities of
the time and not to spend more than a certain sum per annum on eating,
drinking, covering their bodies, and being moved about like parcels from
one spot of the earth's surface to another. Such a movement would, and
will, help towards the formation of an opinion which would condemn
lavish expenditure on personal satisfactions as bad form. However, the
shareholders of grand hotels, restaurants, and race-courses of all
sorts, together with popular singers and barristers, etc., need feel no
immediate alarm. The movement is not yet.

As touching the effect of money on the efficient ordering of the human
machine, there is happily no necessity to inform those who have begun
to interest themselves in the conduct of their own brains that money
counts for very little in that paramount affair. Nothing that really
helps towards perfection costs more than is within the means of every
person who reads these pages. The expenses connected with daily
meditation, with the building-up of mental habits, with the practice of
self-control and of cheerfulness, with the enthronement of reason over
the rabble of primeval instincts--these expenses are really, you know,
trifling. And whether you get that well-deserved rise of a pound a week
or whether you don't, you may anyhow go ahead with the machine; it isn't
a motor-car, though I started by comparing it to one. And even when,
having to a certain extent mastered, through sensible management of the
machine, the art of achieving a daily content and dignity, you come to
the embroidery of life--even the best embroidery of life is not
absolutely ruinous. Meat may go up in price--it has done--but books
won't. Admission to picture galleries and concerts and so forth will
remain quite low. The views from Richmond Hill or Hindhead, or along
Pall Mall at sunset, the smell of the earth, the taste of fruit and of
kisses--these things are unaffected by the machinations of trusts and
the hysteria of stock exchanges. Travel, which after books is the finest
of all embroideries (and which is not to be valued by the mile but by
the quality), is decidedly cheaper than ever it was. All that is
required is ingenuity in one's expenditure. And much ingenuity with a
little money is vastly more profitable and amusing than much money
without ingenuity.

And all the while as you read this you are saying, with your impatient
sneer: 'It's all very well; it's all very fine talking, _but_ ...' In
brief, you are not convinced. You cannot deracinate that wide-rooted
dogma within your soul that more money means more joy. I regret it. But
let me put one question, and let me ask you to answer it honestly. Your
financial means are greater now than they used to be. Are you happier or
less discontented than you used to be? Taking your existence day by day,
hour by hour, judging it by the mysterious _feel_ (in the chest) of
responsibilities, worries, positive joys and satisfactions, are you
genuinely happier than you used to be?

I do not wish to be misunderstood. The financial question cannot be
ignored. If it is true that money does not bring happiness, it is no
less true that the lack of money induces a state of affairs in which
efficient living becomes doubly difficult. These two propositions,
superficially perhaps self-contradictory, are not really so. A modest
income suffices for the fullest realisation of the Ego in terms of
content and dignity; but you must live within it. You cannot righteously
ignore money. A man, for instance, who cultivates himself and instructs
a family of daughters in everything except the ability to earn their own
livelihood, and then has the impudence to die suddenly without leaving a
penny--that man is a scoundrel. Ninety--or should I say
ninety-nine?--per cent. of all those anxieties which render proper
living almost impossible are caused by the habit of walking on the edge
of one's income as one might walk on the edge of a precipice. The
majority of Englishmen have some financial worry or other continually,
everlastingly at the back of their minds. The sacrifice necessary to
abolish this condition of things is more apparent than real. All
spending is a matter of habit.

Speaking generally, a man can contrive, out of an extremely modest
income, to have all that he needs--unless he needs the esteem of snobs.
Habit may, and habit usually does, make it just as difficult to keep a
family on two thousand a year as on two hundred. I suppose that for the
majority of men the suspension of income for a single month would mean
either bankruptcy, the usurer, or acute inconvenience. Impossible, under
such circumstances, to be in full and independent possession of one's
immortal soul! Hence I should be inclined to say that the first
preliminary to a proper control of the machine is the habit of spending
decidedly less than one earns or receives. The veriest automaton of a
clerk ought to have the wherewithal of a whole year as a shield against
the caprices of his employer. It would be as reasonable to expect the
inhabitants of an unfortified city in the midst of a plain occupied by a
hostile army to apply themselves successfully to the study of
logarithms or metaphysics, as to expect a man without a year's income in
his safe to apply himself successfully to the true art of living.

And the whole secret of relative freedom from financial anxiety lies not
in income, but in expenditure. I am ashamed to utter this antique
platitude. But, like most aphorisms of unassailable wisdom, it is
completely ignored. You say, of course, that it is not easy to leave a
margin between your expenditure and your present income. I know it. I
fraternally shake your hand. Still it is, in most cases, far easier to
lessen one's expenditure than to increase one's income without
increasing one's expenditure. The alternative is before you. However you
decide, be assured that the foundation of philosophy is a margin, and
that the margin can always be had.

XVI

REASON, REASON!

In conclusion, I must insist upon several results of what I may call the
'intensive culture' of the reason. The brain will not only grow more
effectively powerful in the departments of life where the brain is
supposed specially to work, but it will also enlarge the circle of its
activities. It will assuredly interfere in everything. The student of
himself must necessarily conduct his existence more and more according
to the views of his brain. This will be most salutary and agreeable both
for himself and for the rest of the world. You object. You say it will
be a pity when mankind refers everything to reason. You talk about the
heart. You envisage an entirely reasonable existence as a harsh and
callous existence. Not so. When the reason and the heart come into
conflict the heart is invariably wrong. I do not say that the reason is
always entirely right, but I do say that it is always less wrong than
the heart. The empire of the reason is not universal, but within its
empire reason is supreme, and if other forces challenge it on its own
soil they must take the consequences. Nearly always, when the heart
opposes the brain, the heart is merely a pretty name which we give to
our idleness and our egotism.

We pass along the Strand and see a respectable young widow standing in
the gutter, with a baby in her arms and a couple of boxes of matches in
one hand. We know she is a widow because of her weeds, and we know she
is respectable by her clothes. We know she is not begging because she is
selling matches. The sight of her in the gutter pains our heart. Our
heart weeps and gives the woman a penny in exchange for a halfpenny box
of matches, and the pain of our heart is thereby assuaged. Our heart has
performed a good action. But later on our reason (unfortunately asleep
at the moment) wakes up and says: 'That baby was hired; the weeds and
matches merely a dodge. The whole affair was a spectacle got up to
extract money from a fool like you. It is as mechanical as a penny in
the slot. Instead of relieving distress you have simply helped to
perpetuate an infamous system. You ought to know that you can't do good
in that offhand way.' The heart gives pennies in the street. The brain
runs the Charity Organisation Society. Of course, to give pennies in the
street is much less trouble than to run the C.O.S. As a method of
producing a quick, inexpensive, and pleasing effect on one's egotism the
C.O.S. is simply not in it with this dodge of giving pennies at random,
without inquiry. Only--which of the two devices ought to be accused of
harshness and callousness? Which of them is truly kind? I bring forward
the respectable young widow as a sample case of the Heart _v_. Brain
conflict. All other cases are the same. The brain is always more kind
than the heart; the brain is always more willing than the heart to put
itself to a great deal of trouble for a very little reward; the brain
always does the difficult, unselfish thing, and the heart always does
the facile, showy thing. Naturally the result of the brain's activity on
society is always more advantageous than the result of the heart's
activity.

Another point. I have tried to show that, if the reason is put in
command of the feelings, it is impossible to assume an attitude of blame
towards any person whatsoever for any act whatsoever. The habit of
blaming must depart absolutely. It is no argument against this statement
that it involves anarchy and the demolition of society. Even if it did
(which emphatically it does not), that would not affect its truth. All
great truths have been assailed on the ground that to accept them meant
the end of everything. As if that mattered! As I make no claim to be the
discoverer of this truth I have no hesitation in announcing it to be one
of the most important truths that the world has yet to learn. However,
the real reason why many people object to this truth is not because they
think it involves the utter demolition of society (fear of the utter
demolition of society never stopped any one from doing or believing
anything, and never will), but because they say to themselves that if
they can't blame they can't praise. And they do so like praising! If
they are so desperately fond of praising, it is a pity that they don't
praise a little more! There can be no doubt that the average man blames
much more than he praises. His instinct is to blame. If he is satisfied
he says nothing; if he is not, he most illogically kicks up a row. So
that even if the suppression of blame involved the suppression of praise
the change would certainly be a change for the better. But I can
perceive no reason why the suppression of blame should involve the
suppression of praise. On the contrary, I think that the habit of
praising should be
fostered.
(I do not suggest the occasional use of trowels, but the regular use of
salt-spoons.) Anyhow, the triumph of the brain over the natural
instincts (in an ideally organised man the brain and the natural
instincts will never have even a tiff) always means the ultimate triumph
of kindness.

And, further, the culture of the brain, the constant disciplinary
exercise of the reasoning faculty, means the diminution of misdeeds. (Do
not imagine I am hinting that you are on the verge of murdering your
wife or breaking into your neighbour's house. Although you personally
are guiltless, there is a good deal of sin still committed in your
immediate vicinity.) Said Balzac in _La Cousine Bette_, 'A crime is in
the first instance a defect of reasoning powers.' In the appreciation of
this truth, Marcus Aurelius was, as usual, a bit beforehand with Balzac.
M. Aurelius said, 'No soul wilfully misses truth.' And Epictetus had
come to the same conclusion before M. Aurelius, and Plato before
Epictetus. All wrong-doing is done in the sincere belief that it is the
best thing to do. Whatever sin a man does he does either for his own
benefit or for the benefit of society. At the moment of doing it he is
convinced that it is the only thing to do. He is mistaken. And he is
mistaken because his brain has been unequal to the task of reasoning the
matter out. Passion (the heart) is responsible for all crimes. Indeed,
crime is simply a convenient monosyllable which we apply to what happens
when the brain and the heart come into conflict and the brain is
defeated. That transaction of the matches was a crime, you know.

Lastly, the culture of the brain must result in the habit of originally
examining all the phenomena of life and conduct, to see what they really
are, and to what they lead. The heart hates progress, because the dear
old thing always wants to do as has always been done. The heart is
convinced that custom is a virtue. The heart of the dirty working man
rebels when the State insists that he shall be clean, for no other
reason than that it is his custom to be dirty. Useless to tell his heart
that, clean, he will live longer! He has been dirty and he will be. The
brain alone is the enemy of prejudice and precedent, which alone are the
enemies of progress. And this habit of originally examining phenomena
is perhaps the greatest factor that goes to the making of personal
dignity; for it fosters reliance on one's self and courage to accept the
consequences of the act of reasoning. Reason is the basis of personal
dignity.

I finish. I have said nothing of the modifications which the constant
use of the brain will bring about in the _general value of existence_.
Modifications slow and subtle, but tremendous! The persevering will
discover them. It will happen to the persevering that their whole lives
are changed--texture and colour, too! Naught will happen to those who do
not persevere.

THE END

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