Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon

Part 7 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

energetic and liberal elements among the German people.
These young fellows had moved to the United States of America,
to Brazil, to the new colonies in Asia and America. Their
work was continued in Germany but by a different sort of men.

In the new Diet which met at Frankfort, after the collapse
of the German Parliament and the failure of the Liberals to
establish a united country, the Kingdom of Prussia was represented
by that same Otto von Bismarck from whom we parted
a few pages ago. Bismarck by now had managed to gain the
complete confidence of the king of Prussia. That was all he
asked for. The opinion of the Prussian parliament or of the
Prussian people interested him not at all. With his own eyes
he had seen the defeat of the Liberals. He knew that he
would not be able to get rid of Austria without a war and he
began by strengthening the Prussian army. The Landtag, exasperated
at his high-handed methods, refused to give him the
necessary credits. Bismarck did not even bother to discuss
the matter. He went ahead and increased his army with the
help of funds which the Prussian house of Peers and the king
placed at his disposal. Then he looked for a national cause
which could be used for the purpose of creating a great wave
of patriotism among all the German people.

In the north of Germany there were the Duchies of Schleswig
and Holstein which ever since the middle ages had been a
source of trouble. Both countries were inhabited by a certain
number of Danes and a certain number of Germans, but although
they were governed by the King of Denmark, they
were not an integral part of the Danish State and this led to
endless difficulties. Heaven forbid that I should revive this
forgotten question which now seems settled by the acts of the
recent Congress of Versailles. But the Germans in Holstein
were very loud in their abuse of the Danes and the Danes in
Schleswig made a great ado of their Danishness, and all Europe
was discussing the problem and German Mannerchors
and Turnvereins listened to sentimental speeches about the
``lost brethren'' and the different chancelleries were trying to
discover what it was all about, when Prussia mobilised her
armies to ``save the lost provinces.'' As Austria, the official
head of the German Confederation, could not allow Prussia
to act alone in such an important matter, the Habsburg troops
were mobilised too and the combined armies of the two great
powers crossed the Danish frontiers and after a very brave
resistance on the part of the Danes, occupied the two duchies.
The Danes appealed to Europe, but Europe was otherwise
engaged and the poor Danes were left to their fate.

Bismarck then prepared the scene for the second number
upon his Imperial programme. He used the division of the
spoils to pick a quarrel with Austria. The Habsburgs fell into
the trap. The new Prussian army, the creation of Bismarck and
his faithful generals, invaded Bohemia and in less than six
weeks, the last of the Austrian troops had been destroyed at
Koniggratz and Sadowa and the road to Vienna lay open. But
Bismarck did not want to go too far. He knew that he would
need a few friends in Europe. He offered the defeated
Habsburgs very decent terms of peace, provided they would
resign their chairmanship of the Confederation. He was less
merciful to many of the smaller German states who had taken
the side of the Austrians, and annexed them to Prussia. The
greater part of the northern states then formed a new organisation,
the so-called North German Confederacy, and victorious
Prussia assumed the unofficial leadership of the German

Europe stood aghast at the rapidity with which the work of
consolidation had been done. England was quite indifferent
but France showed signs of disapproval. Napoleon's hold
upon the French people was steadily diminishing. The Crimean
war had been costly and had accomplished nothing.

A second adventure in the year 1863, when a French army
had tried to force an Austrian Grand-Duke by the name of
Maximilian upon the Mexican people as their Emperor, had
come to a disastrous end as soon as the American Civil War had
been won by the North. For the Government at Washington
had forced the French to withdraw their troops and this had
given the Mexicans a chance to clear their country of the enemy
and shoot the unwelcome Emperor.

It was necessary to give the Napoleonic throne a new
coat of glory-paint. Within a few years the North German
Confederation would be a serious rival of France. Napoleon
decided that a war with Germany would be a good thing for his
dynasty. He looked for an excuse and Spain, the poor victim
of endless revolutions, gave him one.

Just then the Spanish throne happened to be vacant. It
had been offered to the Catholic branch of the house of Hohenzollern.
The French government had objected and the Hohenzollerns
had politely refused to accept the crown. But
Napoleon, who was showing signs of illness, was very much
under the influence of his beautiful wife, Eugenie de Montijo,
the daughter of a Spanish gentleman and the grand-daughter
of William Kirkpatrick, an American consul at Malaga, where
the grapes come from. Eugenie, although shrewd enough, was
as badly educated as most Spanish women of that day. She
was at the mercy of her spiritual advisers and these worthy
gentlemen felt no love for the Protestant King of Prussia. ``Be
bold,'' was the advice of the Empress to her husband, but she
omitted to add the second half of that famous Persian proverb
which admonishes the hero to ``be bold but not too bold.''
Napoleon, convinced of the strength of his army, addressed
himself to the king of Prussia and insisted that the king give
him assurances that ``he would never permit another candidature
of a Hohenzollern prince to the Spanish crown.'' As
the Hohenzollerns had just declined the honour, the demand
was superfluous, and Bismarck so informed the French government.
But Napoleon was not satisfied.

It was the year 1870 and King William was taking the
waters at Ems. There one day he was approached by the
French minister who tried to re-open the discussion. The king
answered very pleasantly that it was a fine day and that the
Spanish question was now closed and that nothing more
remained to be said upon the subject. As a matter of
routine, a report of this interview was telegraphed to
Bismarck, who handled all foreign affairs. Bismarck edited
the dispatch for the benefit of the Prussian and French
press. Many people have called him names for doing
this. Bismarck however could plead the excuse that the doctoring
of official news, since time immemorial, had been one
of the privileges of all civilised governments. When the ``edited''
telegram was printed, the good people in Berlin felt that
their old and venerable king with his nice white whiskers had
been insulted by an arrogant little Frenchman and the equally
good people of Paris flew into a rage because their perfectly
courteous minister had been shown the door by a Royal Prussian

And so they both went to war and in less than two months,
Napoleon and the greater part of his army were prisoners of
the Germans. The Second Empire had come to an end and the
Third Republic was making ready to defend Paris against the
German invaders. Paris held out for five long months. Ten
days before the surrender of the city, in the nearby palace of
Versailles, built by that same King Louis XIV who had been
such a dangerous enemy to the Germans, the King of Prussia
was publicly proclaimed German Emperor and a loud booming
of guns told the hungry Parisians that a new German Empire
had taken the place of the old harmless Confederation of Teutonic
states and stateless.

In this rough way, the German question was finally settled.
By the end of the year 1871, fifty-six years after the memorable
gathering at Vienna, the work of the Congress had been entirely
undone. Metternich and Alexander and Talleyrand had tried
to give the people of Europe a lasting peace. The methods
they had employed had caused endless wars and revolutions and
the feeling of a common brotherhood of the eighteenth century
was followed by an era of exaggerated nationalism which has
not yet come to an end.



THE greatest benefactor of the human race died more than
half a million years ago. He was a hairy creature with a low
brow and sunken eyes, a heavy jaw and strong tiger-like teeth.
He would not have looked well in a gathering of modern scientists,
but they would have honoured him as their master. For
he had used a stone to break a nut and a stick to lift up a heavy
boulder. He was the inventor of the hammer and the lever, our
first tools, and he did more than any human being who came
after him to give man his enormous advantage over the other
animals with whom he shares this planet.

Ever since, man has tried to make his life easier by the use
of a greater number of tools. The first wheel (a round disc
made out of an old tree) created as much stir in the communities
of 100,000 B.C. as the flying machine did only a few years

In Washington, the story is told of a director of the Patent
Office who in the early thirties of the last century suggested
that the Patent Office be abolished, because ``everything that
possibly could be invented had been invented.'' A similar
feeling must have spread through the prehistoric world when
the first sail was hoisted on a raft and the people were able
to move from place to place without rowing or punting or
pulling from the shore.

Indeed one of the most interesting chapters of history is
the effort of man to let some one else or something else do his
work for him, while he enjoyed his leisure, sitting in the sun
or painting pictures on rocks, or training young wolves and
little tigers to behave like peaceful domestic animals.

Of course in the very olden days; it was always possible
to enslave a weaker neighbour and force him to do the unpleasant
tasks of life. One of the reasons why the Greeks and
Romans, who were quite as intelligent as we are, failed to
devise more interesting machinery, was to be found in the wide-
spread existence of slavery. Why should a great mathematician
waste his time upon wires and pulleys and cogs and fill
the air with noise and smoke when he could go to the marketplace
and buy all the slaves he needed at a very small expense?

And during the middle-ages, although slavery had been
abolished and only a mild form of serfdom survived, the guilds
discouraged the idea of using machinery because they thought
this would throw a large number of their brethren out of
work. Besides, the Middle-Ages were not at all interested
in producing large quantities of goods. Their tailors and butchers
and carpenters worked for the immediate needs of the small
community in which they lived and had no desire to compete
with their neighbours, or to produce more than was strictly

During the Renaissance, when the prejudices of the Church
against scientific investigations could no longer be enforced as
rigidly as before, a large number of men began to devote their
lives to mathematics and astronomy and physics and chemistry.
Two years before the beginning of the Thirty Years War,
John Napier, a Scotchman, had published his little book which
described the new invention of logarithms. During the war it-
self, Gottfried Leibnitz of Leipzig had perfected the system of
infinitesimal calculus. Eight years before the peace of Westphalia,
Newton, the great English natural philosopher, was
born, and in that same year Galileo, the Italian astronomer,
died. Meanwhile the Thirty Years War had destroyed the prosperity
of central Europe and there was a sudden but very general
interest in ``alchemy,'' the strange pseudo-science of the
middle-ages by which people hoped to turn base metals into
gold. This proved to be impossible but the alchemists in their
laboratories stumbled upon many new ideas and greatly helped
the work of the chemists who were their successors.

The work of all these men provided the world with a solid
scientific foundation upon which it was possible to build even
the most complicated of engines, and a number of practical
men made good use of it. The Middle-Ages had used wood for
the few bits of necessary machinery. But wood wore out
easily. Iron was a much better material but iron was scarce
except in England. In England therefore most of the smelting
was done. To smelt iron, huge fires were needed. In the
beginning, these fires had been made of wood, but gradually
the forests had been used up. Then ``stone coal'' (the petrified
trees of prehistoric times) was used. But coal as you
know has to be dug out of the ground and it has to be transported
to the smelting ovens and the mines have to be kept
dry from the ever invading waters.

These were two problems which had to be solved at once.
For the time being, horses could still be used to haul the coal-
wagons, but the pumping question demanded the application
of special machinery. Several inventors were busy trying to
solve the difficulty. They all knew that steam would have to
be used in their new engine. The idea of the steam engine was
very old. Hero of Alexandria, who lived in the first century
before Christ, has described to us several bits of machinery
which were driven by steam. The people of the Renaissance
had played with the notion of steam-driven war chariots. The
Marquis of Worcester, a contemporary of Newton, in his book
of inventions, tells of a steam engine. A little later, in the year
1698, Thomas Savery of London applied for a patent for a
pumping engine. At the same time, a Hollander, Christian
Huygens, was trying to perfect an engine in which gun-powder
was used to cause regular explosions in much the same way as
we use gasoline in our motors.

All over Europe, people were busy with the idea. Denis
Papin, a Frenchman, friend and assistant of Huygens, was
making experiments with steam engines in several countries.
He invented a little wagon that was driven by steam, and a
paddle-wheel boat. But when he tried to take a trip in his
vessel, it was confiscated by the authorities on a complaint of
the boatmen's union, who feared that such a craft would deprive
them of their livelihood. Papin finally died in London in
great poverty, having wasted all his money on his inventions.
But at the time of his death, another mechanical enthusiast,
Thomas Newcomen, was working on the problem of a new
steam-pump. Fifty years later his engine was improved upon
by James Watt, a Glasgow instrument maker. In the year
1777, he gave the world the first steam engine that proved of
real practical value.

But during the centuries of experiments with a ``heat-engine,''
the political world had greatly changed. The British
people had succeeded the Dutch as the common-carriers of the
world's trade. They had opened up new colonies. They took
the raw materials which the colonies produced to England,
and there they turned them into finished products, and then
they exported the finished goods to the four corners of the
world. During the seventeenth century, the people of Georgia
and the Carolinas had begun to grow a new shrub which gave
a strange sort of woolly substance, the so-called ``cotton wool.''
After this had been plucked, it was sent to England and there
the people of Lancastershire wove it into cloth. This weaving
was done by hand and in the homes of the workmen. Very soon
a number of improvements were made in the process of weaving.
In the year 1730, John Kay invented the ``fly shuttle.''
In 1770, James Hargreaves got a patent on his ``spinning
jenny.'' Eli Whitney, an American, invented the cotton-gin,
which separated the cotton from its seeds, a job which had
previously been done by hand at the rate of only a pound a day.
Finally Richard Arkwright and the Reverend Edmund Cartwright
invented large weaving machines, which were driven by
water power. And then, in the eighties of the eighteenth
century, just when the Estates General of France had begun
those famous meetings which were to revolutionise the political
system of Europe, the engines of Watt were arranged in such
a way that they could drive the weaving machines of Arkwright,
and this created an economic and social revolution
which has changed human relationship in almost every part
of the world.

As soon as the stationary engine had proved a success, the
inventors turned their attention to the problem of propelling
boats and carts with the help of a mechanical contrivance.
Watt himself designed plans for a ``steam locomotive,'' but
ere he had perfected his ideas, in the year 1804, a locomotive
made by Richard Trevithick carried a load of twenty tons at
Pen-y-darran in the Wales mining district.

At the same time an American jeweller and portrait-painter
by the name of Robert Fulton was in Paris, trying to convince
Napoleon that with the use of his submarine boat, the
``Nautilus,'' and his ``steam-boat,'' the French might be able to
destroy the naval supremacy of England.

Fulton's idea of a steamboat was not original. He had
undoubtedly copied it from John Fitch, a mechanical genius of
Connecticut whose cleverly constructed steamer had first navigated
the Delaware river as early as the year 1787. But Napoleon
and his scientific advisers did not believe in the practical
possibility of a self-propelled boat, and although the Scotch-
built engine of the little craft puffed merrily on the Seine, the
great Emperor neglected to avail himself of this formidable
weapon which might have given him his revenge for Trafalgar.

As for Fulton, he returned to the United States and, being
a practical man of business, he organised a successful steamboat
company together with Robert R. Livingston, a signer of
the Declaration of Independence, who was American Minister
to France when Fulton was in Paris, trying to sell his invention.
The first steamer of this new company, the ``Clermont,''
which was given a monopoly of all the waters of New York
State, equipped with an engine built by Boulton and Watt of
Birmingham in England, began a regular service between New
York and Albany in the year 1807.

As for poor John Fitch, the man who long before any one
else had used the ``steam-boat'' for commercial purposes, he
came to a sad death. Broken in health and empty of purse, he
had come to the end of his resources when his fifth boat, which
was propelled by means of a screw-propeller, had been destroyed.
His neighbours jeered at him as they were to laugh a
hundred years later when Professor Langley constructed his
funny flying machines. Fitch had hoped to give his country
an easy access to the broad rivers of the west and his countrymen
preferred to travel in flat-boats or go on foot. In the year
1798, in utter despair and misery, Fitch killed himself by taking

But twenty years later, the ``Savannah,'' a steamer of 1850
tons and making six knots an hour, (the Mauretania goes just
four times as fast,) crossed the ocean from Savannah to Liverpool
in the record time of twenty-five days. Then there was
an end to the derision of the multitude and in their enthusiasm
the people gave the credit for the invention to the wrong man.

Six years later, George Stephenson, a Scotchman, who had
been building locomotives for the purpose of hauling coal from
the mine-pit to smelting ovens and cotton factories, built his
famous ``travelling engine'' which reduced the price of coal by
almost seventy per cent and which made it possible to establish
the first regular passenger service between Manchester and
Liverpool, when people were whisked from city to city at the
unheard-of speed of fifteen miles per hour. A dozen years
later, this speed had been increased to twenty miles per hour.
At the present time, any well-behaved flivver (the direct descendant
of the puny little motor-driven machines of Daimler
and Levassor of the eighties of the last century) can do better
than these early ``Puffing Billies.''

But while these practically-minded engineers were improving
upon their rattling ``heat engines,'' a group of ``pure''
scientists (men who devote fourteen hours of each day to the
study of those ``theoretical'' scientific phenomena without which
no mechanical progress would be possible) were following a
new scent which promised to lead them into the most secret and
hidden domains of Nature.

Two thousand years ago, a number of Greek and Roman
philosophers (notably Thales of Miletus and Pliny who was
killed while trying to study the eruption of Vesuvius of the
year 79 when Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried beneath
the ashes) had noticed the strange antics of bits of straw and of
feather which were held near a piece of amber which was being
rubbed with a bit of wool. The schoolmen of the Middle Ages
had not been interested in this mysterious ``electric'' power.
But immediately after the Renaissance, William Gilbert, the
private physician of Queen Elizabeth, wrote his famous treatise
on the character and behaviour of Magnets. During the
Thirty Years War Otto von Guericke, the burgomaster of
Magdeburg and the inventor of the air-pump, constructed the
first electrical machine. During the next century a large number
of scientists devoted themselves to the study of electricity.
Not less than three professors invented the famous Leyden
Jar in the year 1795. At the same time, Benjamin Franklin,
the most universal genius of America next to Benjamin Thomson
(who after his flight from New Hampshire on account of
his pro-British sympathies became known as Count Rumford)
was devoting his attention to this subject. He discovered that
lightning and the electric spark were manifestations of the same
electric power and continued his electric studies until the end of
his busy and useful life. Then came Volta with his famous
``electric pile'' and Galvani and Day and the Danish professor
Hans Christian Oersted and Ampere and Arago and Faraday,
all of them diligent searchers after the true nature of the electric

They freely gave their discoveries to the world and Samuel
Morse (who like Fulton began his career as an artist) thought
that he could use this new electric current to transmit messages
from one city to another. He intended to use copper
wire and a little machine which he had invented. People
laughed at him. Morse therefore was obliged to finance his
own experiments and soon he had spent all his money and
then he was very poor and people laughed even louder. He
then asked Congress to help him and a special Committee on
Commerce promised him their support. But the members of
Congress were not at all interested and Morse had to wait
twelve years before he was given a small congressional appropriation.
He then built a ``telegraph'' between Baltimore and
Washington. In the year 1887 he had shown his first successful
``telegraph'' in one of the lecture halls of New York
University. Finally, on the 24th of May of the year 1844 the
first long-distance message was sent from Washington to
Baltimore and to-day the whole world is covered with telegraph
wires and we can send news from Europe to Asia in a few
seconds. Twenty-three years later Alexander Graham Bell used
the electric current for his telephone. And half a century
afterwards Marconi improved upon these ideas by inventing a
system of sending messages which did away entirely with the old-
fashioned wires.

While Morse, the New Englander, was working on his
``telegraph,'' Michael Faraday, the Yorkshire-man, had constructed
the first ``dynamo.'' This tiny little machine was completed
in the year 1881 when Europe was still trembling as a
result of the great July revolutions which had so severely upset
the plans of the Congress of Vienna. The first dynamo grew
and grew and grew and to-day it provides us with heat and
with light (you know the little incandescent bulbs which Edison,
building upon French and English experiments of the forties
and fifties, first made in 1878) and with power for all sorts
of machines. If I am not mistaken the electric-engine will
soon entirely drive out the ``heat engine'' just as in the olden
days the more highly-organised prehistoric animals drove out
their less efficient neighbours.

Personally (but I know nothing about machinery) this will
make me very happy. For the electric engine which can be run
by waterpower is a clean and companionable servant of mankind
but the ``heat-engine,'' the marvel of the eighteenth century,
is a noisy and dirty creature for ever filling the world with
ridiculous smoke-stacks and with dust and soot and asking
that it be fed with coal which has to be dug out of mines at
great inconvenience and risk to thousands of people.

And if I were a novelist and not a historian, who must stick
to facts and may not use his imagination, I would describe the
happy day when the last steam locomotive shall be taken to the
Museum of Natural History to be placed next to the skeleton
of the Dynosaur and the Pteredactyl and the other extinct
creatures of a by-gone age.



IN the olden days the work of the world had been done by
independent workmen who sat in their own little workshops in
the front of their houses, who owned their tools, who boxed the
ears of their own apprentices and who, within the limits prescribed
by their guilds, conducted their business as it pleased
them. They lived simple lives, and were obliged to work very
long hours, but they were their own masters. If they got up
and saw that it was a fine day to go fishing, they went fishing
and there was no one to say ``no.''

But the introduction of machinery changed this. A machine
is really nothing but a greatly enlarged tool. A railroad
train which carries you at the speed of a mile a minute is
in reality a pair of very fast legs, and a steam hammer which
flattens heavy plates of iron is just a terrible big fist, made of

But whereas we can all afford a pair of good legs and a
good strong fist, a railroad train and a steam hammer and a
cotton factory are very expensive pieces of machinery and they
are not owned by a single man, but usually by a company of
people who all contribute a certain sum and then divide the
profits of their railroad or cotton mill according to the amount
of money which they have invested.

Therefore, when machines had been improved until they
were really practicable and profitable, the builders of those
large tools, the machine manufacturers, began to look for customers
who could afford to pay for them in cash.

During the early middle ages, when land had been almost
the only form of wealth, the nobility were the only people
who were considered wealthy. But as I have told you in a
previous chapter, the gold and silver which they possessed
was quite insignificant and they used the old system of barter,
exchanging cows for horses and eggs for honey. During
the crusades, the burghers of the cities had been able to gather
riches from the reviving trade between the east and the west,
and they had been serious rivals of the lords and the knights.

The French revolution had entirely destroyed the wealth
of the nobility and had enormously increased that of the middle
class or ``bourgeoisie.'' The years of unrest which followed the
Great Revolution had offered many middle-class people a
chance to get more than their share of this world's goods. The
estates of the church had been confiscated by the French Convention
and had been sold at auction. There had been a terrific
amount of graft. Land speculators had stolen thousands
of square miles of valuable land, and during the Napoleonic
wars, they had used their capital to ``profiteer'' in grain and
gun-powder, and now they possessed more wealth than they
needed for the actual expenses of their households, and they
could afford to build themselves factories and to hire men and
women to work the machines.

This caused a very abrupt change in the lives of hundreds
of thousands of people. Within a few years, many cities
doubled the number of their inhabitants and the old civic centre
which had been the real ``home'' of the citizens was surrounded
with ugly and cheaply built suburbs where the workmen slept
after their eleven or twelve hours, or thirteen hours, spent in the
factories and from where they returned to the factory as soon
as the whistle blew.

Far and wide through the countryside there was talk of the
fabulous sums of money that could be made in the towns. The
peasant boy, accustomed to a life in the open, went to the city.
He rapidly lost his old health amidst the smoke and dust and
dirt of those early and badly ventilated workshops, and the
end, very often, was death in the poor-house or in the hospital.

Of course the change from the farm to the factory on the
part of so many people was not accomplished without a certain
amount of opposition. Since one engine could do as much
work as a hundred men, the ninety-nine others who were
thrown out of employment did not like it. Frequently they attacked
the factory-buildings and set fire to the machines, but
Insurance Companies had been organised as early as the 17th
century and as a rule the owners were well protected against loss.

Soon, newer and better machines were installed, the factory
was surrounded with a high wall and then there was an
end to the rioting. The ancient guilds could not possibly survive
in this new world of steam and iron. They went out of
existence and then the workmen tried to organise regular labour
unions. But the factory-owners, who through their wealth
could exercise great influence upon the politicians of the different
countries, went to the Legislature and had laws passed
which forbade the forming of such trade unions because they
interfered with the ``liberty of action'' of the working man.

Please do not think that the good members of Parliament
who passed these laws were wicked tyrants. They were
the true sons of the revolutionary period when everybody
talked of ``liberty'' and when people often killed their neighbours
because they were not quite as liberty-loving as they
ought to have been. Since ``liberty'' was the foremost virtue
of man, it was not right that labour-unions should dictate to
their members the hours during which they could work and
the wages which they must demand. The workman must at
all times, be ``free to sell his services in the open market,'' and
the employer must be equally ``free'' to conduct his business
as he saw fit. The days of the Mercantile System, when
the state had regulated the industrial life of the entire
community, were coming to an end. The new idea of ``freedom''
insisted that the state stand entirely aside and let commerce
take its course.

The last half of the 18th century had not merely been a
time of intellectual and political doubt, but the old economic
ideas, too, had been replaced by new ones which better suited the
need of the hour. Several years before the French revolution,
Turgot, who had been one of the unsuccessful ministers of
finance of Louis XVI, had preached the novel doctrine of
``economic liberty.'' Turgot lived in a country which had
suffered from too much red-tape, too many regulations, too
many officials trying to enforce too many laws. ``Remove this
official supervision,'' he wrote, ``let the people do as they please,
and everything will be all right.'' Soon his famous advice of
``laissez faire'' became the battle-cry around which the economists
of that period rallied,

At the same time in England, Adam Smith was working
on his mighty volumes on the ``Wealth of Nations,'' which made
another plea for ``liberty'' and the ``natural rights of trade.''
Thirty years later, after the fall of Napoleon, when the reactionary
powers of Europe had gained their victory at Vienna,
that same freedom which was denied to the people in their
political relations was forced upon them in their industrial

The general use of machinery, as I have said at the beginning
of this chapter, proved to be of great advantage to the
state. Wealth increased rapidly. The machine made it possible
for a single country, like England, to carry all the burdens
of the great Napoleonic wars. The capitalists (the people
who provided the money with which machines were bought)
reaped enormous profits. They became ambitious and began
to take an interest in politics. They tried to compete with the
landed aristocracy which still exercised great influence upon
the government of most European countries.

In England, where the members of Parliament were still
elected according to a Royal Decree of the year 1265, and
where a large number of recently created industrial centres were
without representation, they brought about the passing of the
Reform Bill of the year 1882, which changed the electoral
system and gave the class of the factory-owners more influence
upon the legislative body. This however caused great
discontent among the millions of factory workers, who were
left without any voice in the government. They too began
an agitation for the right to vote. They put their demands
down in a document which came to be known as the ``People's
Charter.'' The debates about this charter grew more and
more violent. They had not yet come to an end when the revolutions
of the year 1848 broke out. Frightened by the threat
of a new outbreak or Jacobinism and violence, the English
government placed the Duke of Wellington, who was now in
his eightieth year, at the head of the army, and called for
Volunteers. London was placed in a state of siege and
preparations were made to suppress the coming revolution.

But the Chartist movement killed itself through bad leadership
and no acts of violence took place. The new class of
wealthy factory owners, (I dislike the word ``bourgeoisie''
which has been used to death by the apostles of a new social
order,) slowly increased its hold upon the government, and
the conditions of industrial life in the large cities continued to
transform vast acres of pasture and wheat-land into dreary
slums, which guard the approach of every modern European



IN the year 1831, just before the passing of the first Reform
Bill Jeremy Bentham, the great English student of legislative
methods and the most practical political reformer of that
day, wrote to a friend: ``The way to be comfortable is to
make others comfortable. The way to make others comfortable
is to appear to love them. The way to appear to love them
is to love them in reality.'' Jeremy was an honest man. He
said what he believed to be true. His opinions were shared by
thousands of his countrymen. They felt responsible for the
happiness of their less fortunate neighbours and they tried
their very best to help them. And Heaven knows it was time
that something be done!

The ideal of ``economic freedom'' (the ``laissez faire'' of
Turgot) had been necessary in the old society where mediaeval
restrictions lamed all industrial effort. But this ``liberty of
action'' which had been the highest law of the land had led to
a terrible, yea, a frightful condition. The hours in the fac-
tory were limited only by the physical strength of the workers.
As long as a woman could sit before her loom, without
fainting from fatigue, she was supposed to work. Children of
five and six were taken to the cotton mills, to save them from
the dangers of the street and a life of idleness. A law had
been passed which forced the children of paupers to go to work
or be punished by being chained to their machines. In return
for their services they got enough bad food to keep them alive
and a sort of pigsty in which they could rest at night. Often
they were so tired that they fell asleep at their job. To keep
them awake a foreman with a whip made the rounds and beat
them on the knuckles when it was necessary to bring them back
to their duties. Of course, under these circumstances thousands
of little children died. This was regrettable and the employers,
who after all were human beings and not without a heart, sincerely
wished that they could abolish ``child labour.'' But since
man was ``free'' it followed that children were ``free'' too.
Besides, if Mr. Jones had tried to work his factory without the
use of children of five and six, his rival, Mr. Stone, would have
hired an extra supply of little boys and Jones would have been
forced into bankruptcy. It was therefore impossible for Jones
to do without child labour until such time as an act of Parliament
should forbid it for all employers.

But as Parliament was no longer dominated by the old
landed aristocracy (which had despised the upstart factory-
owners with their money bags and had treated them with open
contempt), but was under control of the representatives from
the industrial centres, and as long as the law did not allow
workmen to combine in labour-unions, very little was accomplished.
Of course the intelligent and decent people of that
time were not blind to these terrible conditions. They were
just helpless. Machinery had conquered the world by surprise
and it took a great many years and the efforts of thousands
of noble men and women to make the machine what it
ought to be, man's servant, and not his master.

Curiously enough, the first attack upon the outrageous
system of employment which was then common in all parts of
the world, was made on behalf of the black slaves of Africa
and America. Slavery had been introduced into the American
continent by the Spaniards. They had tried to use the
Indians as labourers in the fields and in the mines, but the
Indians, when taken away from a life in the open, had lain down
and died and to save them from extinction a kind-hearted priest
had suggested that negroes be brought from Africa to do the
work. The negroes were strong and could stand rough treatment.
Besides, association with the white man would give
them a chance to learn Christianity and in this way, they would
be able to save their souls, and so from every possible point of
view, it would be an excellent arrangement both for the kindly
white man and for his ignorant black brother. But with the
introduction of machinery there had been a greater demand for
cotton and the negroes were forced to work harder than ever
before, and they too, like the Indians, began to die under the
treatment which they received at the hands of the overseers.

Stories of incredible cruelty constantly found their way to
Europe and in all countries men and women began to agitate
for the abolition of slavery. In England, William Wilberforce
and Zachary Macaulay, (the father of the great historian whose
history of England you must read if you want to know how
wonderfully interesting a history-book can be,) organised a
society for the suppression of slavery. First of all they got a
law passed which made ``slave trading'' illegal. And after the
year 1840 there was not a single slave in any of the British
colonies. The revolution of 1848 put an end to slavery in the
French possessions. The Portuguese passed a law in the year
1858 which promised all slaves their liberty in twenty years
from date. The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863 and in the
same year Tsar Alexander II returned to his serfs that liberty
which had been taken away from them more than two centuries

In the United States of America the question led to grave
difficulties and a prolonged war. Although the Declaration
of Independence had laid down the principle that ``all men
were created free and equal,'' an exception had been made for
those men and women whose skins were dark and who worked
on the plantations of the southern states. As time went on, the
dislike of the people of the North for the institution of slavery
increased and they made no secret of their feelings. The southerners
however claimed that they could not grow their cotton
without slave-labour, and for almost fifty years a mighty debate
raged in both the Congress and the Senate.

The North remained obdurate and the South would not give
in. When it appeared impossible to reach a compromise, the
southern states threatened to leave the Union. It was a most
dangerous point in the history of the Union. Many things
``might'' have happened. That they did not happen was the
work of a very great and very good man.

On the sixth of November of the year 1860, Abraham Lincoln,
an Illinois lawyer, and a man who had made his own intellectual
fortune, had been elected president by the Republicans
who were very strong in the anti-slavery states. He
knew the evils of human bondage at first hand and his shrewd
common-sense told him that there was no room on the northern
continent for two rival nations. When a number of southern
states seceded and formed the ``Confederate States of America,''
Lincoln accepted the challenge. The Northern states
were called upon for volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of
young men responded with eager enthusiasm and there followed
four years of bitter civil war. The South, better prepared
and following the brilliant leadership of Lee and Jackson,
repeatedly defeated the armies of the North. Then the
economic strength of New England and the West began to
tell. An unknown officer by the name of Grant arose from obscurity
and became the Charles Martel of the great slave war.
Without interruption he hammered his mighty blows upon the
crumbling defences of the South. Early in the year 1863,
President Lincoln issued his ``Emancipation Proclamation''
which set all slaves free. In April of the year 1865 Lee
surrendered the last of his brave armies at Appomattox. A few
days later, President Lincoln was murdered by a lunatic. But
his work was done. With the exception of Cuba which was
still under Spanish domination, slavery had come to an end in
every part of the civilised world.

But while the black man was enjoying an increasing amount
of liberty, the ``free'' workmen of Europe did not fare quite so
well. Indeed, it is a matter of surprise to many contemporary
writers and observers that the masses of workmen (the so-
called proletariat) did not die out from sheer misery. They
lived in dirty houses situated in miserable parts of the slums.
They ate bad food. They received just enough schooling to
fit them for their tasks. In case of death or an accident, their
families were not provided for. But the brewery and distillery
interests, (who could exercise great influence upon the Legislature,)
encouraged them to forget their woes by offering them
unlimited quantities of whisky and gin at very cheap rates.

The enormous improvement which has taken place since the
thirties and the forties of the last century is not due to the efforts
of a single man. The best brains of two generations devoted
themselves to the task of saving the world from the disastrous
results of the all-too-sudden introduction of machinery.
They did not try to destroy the capitalistic system. This would
have been very foolish, for the accumulated wealth of other
people, when intelligently used, may be of very great benefit
to all mankind. But they tried to combat the notion that true
equality can exist between the man who has wealth and owns
the factories and can close their doors at will without the risk
of going hungry, and the labourer who must take whatever job
is offered, at whatever wage he can get, or face the risk of
starvation for himself, his wife and his children.

They endeavoured to introduce a number of laws which regulated
the relations between the factory owners and the factory
workers. In this, the reformers have been increasingly
successful in all countries. To-day, the majority of the labourers
are well protected; their hours are being reduced to the
excellent average of eight, and their children are sent to the
schools instead of to the mine pit and to the carding-room of
the cotton mills.

But there were other men who also contemplated the sight
of all the belching smoke-stacks, who heard the rattle of the
railroad trains, who saw the store-houses filled with a surplus
of all sorts of materials, and who wondered to what ultimate
goal this tremendous activity would lead in the years to come.
They remembered that the human race had lived for hundreds
of thousands of years without commercial and industrial competition.
Could they change the existing order of things and
do away with a system of rivalry which so often sacrificed human
happiness to profits?

This idea--this vague hope for a better day--was not restricted
to a single country. In England, Robert Owen, the
owner of many cotton mills, established a so-called ``socialistic
community'' which was a success. But when he died, the prosperity
of New Lanark came to an end and an attempt of Louis
Blanc, a French journalist, to establish ``social workshops''
all over France fared no better. Indeed, the increasing number
of socialistic writers soon began to see that little individual
communities which remained outside of the regular industrial
life, would never be able to accomplish anything at all. It
was necessary to study the fundamental principles underlying
the whole industrial and capitalistic society before useful remedies
could be suggested.

The practical socialists like Robert Owen and Louis
Blanc and Francois Fournier were succeeded by theoretical
students of socialism like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Of
these two, Marx is the best known. He was a very brilliant
Jew whose family had for a long time lived in Germany. He
had heard of the experiments of Owen and Blanc and he began
to interest himself in questions of labour and wages and
unemployment. But his liberal views made him very unpopular
with the police authorities of Germany, and he was forced to
flee to Brussels and then to London, where he lived a poor and
shabby life as the correspondent of the New York Tribune.

No one, thus far, had paid much attention to his books on
economic subjects. But in the year 1864 he organised the first
international association of working men and three years later
in 1867, he published the first volume of his well-known trea-
tise called ``Capital.'' Marx believed that all history was a
long struggle between those who ``have'' and those who ``don't
have.'' The introduction and general use of machinery had
created a new class in society, that of the capitalists who used
their surplus wealth to buy the tools which were then used by
the labourers to produce still more wealth, which was again used
to build more factories and so on, until the end of time. Meanwhile,
according to Marx, the third estate (the bourgeoisie)
was growing richer and richer and the fourth estate (the proletariat)
was growing poorer and poorer, and he predicted that
in the end, one man would possess all the wealth of the world
while the others would be his employees and dependent upon
his good will.

To prevent such a state of affairs, Marx advised working
men of all countries to unite and to fight for a number of political
and economic measures which he had enumerated in a Manifesto
in the year 1848, the year of the last great European

These views of course were very unpopular with the governments
of Europe, many countries, especially Prussia, passed
severe laws against the Socialists and policemen were ordered
to break up the Socialist meetings and to arrest the speakers.
But that sort of persecution never does any good. Martyrs
are the best possible advertisements for an unpopular cause.
In Europe the number of socialists steadily increased and it
was soon clear that the Socialists did not contemplate a violent
revolution but were using their increasing power in the different
Parliaments to promote the interests of the labouring
classes. Socialists were even called upon to act as Cabinet
Ministers, and they co-operated with progressive Catholics and
Protestants to undo the damage that had been caused by the
Industrial Revolution and to bring about a fairer division of
the many benefits which had followed the introduction of machinery
and the increased production of wealth.



THE Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, the Greeks
and the Romans, had all contributed something to the first
vague notions of science and scientific investigation. But the
great migrations of the fourth century had destroyed the classical
world of the Mediterranean, and the Christian Church, which
was more interested in the life of the soul than in the life of the
body, had regarded science as a manifestation of that human arrogance
which wanted to pry into divine affairs which belonged
to the realm of Almighty God, and which therefore was closely
related to the seven deadly sins.

The Renaissance to a certain but limited extent had broken
through this wall of Mediaeval prejudices. The Reformation,
however, which had overtaken the Renaissance in the early 16th
century, had been hostile to the ideals of the ``new civilisation,''
and once more the men of science were threatened with severe
punishment, should they try to pass beyond the narrow limits
of knowledge which had been laid down in Holy Writ.

Our world is filled with the statues of great generals, atop
of prancing horses, leading their cheering soldiers to glorious
victory. Here and there, a modest slab of marble announces
that a man of science has found his final resting place. A thousand
years from now we shall probably do these things differently,
and the children of that happy generation shall know
of the splendid courage and the almost inconceivable devotion
to duty of the men who were the pioneers of that abstract
knowledge, which alone has made our modern world a practical

Many of these scientific pioneers suffered poverty and contempt
and humiliation. They lived in garrets and died in dungeons.
They dared not print their names on the title-pages of
their books and they dared not print their conclusions in the
land of their birth, but smuggled the manuscripts to some secret
printing shop in Amsterdam or Haarlem. They were exposed
to the bitter enmity of the Church, both Protestant and Catholic,
and were the subjects of endless sermons, inciting the parishioners
to violence against the ``heretics.''

Here and there they found an asylum. In Holland, where
the spirit of tolerance was strongest, the authorities, while
regarding these scientific investigations with little favour, yet
refused to interfere with people's freedom of thought. It became
a little asylum for intellectual liberty where French and
English and German philosophers and mathematicians and
physicians could go to enjoy a short spell of rest and get a
breath of free air.

In another chapter I have told you how Roger Bacon, the
great genius of the thirteenth century, was prevented for years
from writing a single word, lest he get into new troubles with
the authorities of the church. And five hundred years later, the
contributors to the great philosophic ``Encyclopaedia'' were under
the constant supervision of the French gendarmerie. Half
a century afterwards, Darwin, who dared to question the story
of the creation of man, as revealed in the Bible, was denounced
from every pulpit as an enemy of the human race.

Even to-day, the persecution of those who venture into the
unknown realm of science has not entirely come to an end.
And while I am writing this Mr. Bryan is addressing a vast
multitude on the ``Menace of Darwinism,'' warning his hearers
against the errors of the great English naturalist.

All this, however, is a mere detail. The work that has to
be done invariably gets done, and the ultimate profit of the
discoveries and the inventions goes to the mass of those same people
who have always decried the man of vision as an unpractical idealist.

The seventeenth century had still preferred to investigate
the far off heavens and to study the position of our
planet in relation to the solar system. Even so, the Church had
disapproved of this unseemly curiosity, and Copernicus who
first of all had proved that the sun was the centre of the universe,
did not publish his work until the day of his death. Galileo
spent the greater part of his life under the supervision of the
clerical authorities, but he continued to use his telescope and
provided Isaac Newton with a mass of practical observations,
which greatly helped the English mathematician when he dis-
covered the existence of that interesting habit of falling objects
which came to be known as the Law of Gravitation.

That, for the moment at least, exhausted the interest in the
Heavens, and man began to study the earth. The invention
of a workable microscope, (a strange and clumsy little thing,)
by Anthony van Leeuwenhoek during the last half of the 17th
century, gave man a chance to study the ``microscopic'' creatures
who are responsible for so many of his ailments. It laid
the foundations of the science of ``bacteriology'' which in the
last forty years has delivered the world from a great number of
diseases by discovering the tiny organisms which cause the
complaint. It also allowed the geologists to make a more
careful study of different rocks and of the fossils (the petrified
prehistoric plants) which they found deep below the surface of
the earth. These investigations convinced them that the earth
must be a great deal older than was stated in the book of
Genesis and in the year 1830, Sir Charles Lyell published his
``Principles of Geology'' which denied the story of creation as
related in the Bible and gave a far more wonderful description
of slow growth and gradual development.

At the same time, the Marquis de Laplace was working on
a new theory of creation, which made the earth a little blotch
in the nebulous sea out of which the planetary system had
been formed and Bunsen and Kirchhoff, by the use of the
spectroscope, were investigating the chemical composition of the
stars and of our good neighbour, the sun, whose curious spots
had first been noticed by Galileo.

Meanwhile after a most bitter and relentless warfare with
the clerical authorities of Catholic and Protestant lands, the
anatomists and physiologists had at last obtained permission
to dissect bodies and to substitute a positive knowledge of our
organs and their habits for the guesswork of the mediaeval

Within a single generation (between 1810 and 1840) more
progress was made in every branch of science than in all the
hundreds of thousands of years that had passed since man first
looked at the stars and wondered why they were there. It
must have been a very sad age for the people who had been
educated under the old system. And we can understand their
feeling of hatred for such men as Lamarck and Darwin, who
did not exactly tell them that they were ``descended from
monkeys,'' (an accusation which our grandfathers seemed to
regard as a personal insult,) but who suggested that the proud
human race had evolved from a long series of ancestors who
could trace the family-tree back to the little jelly-fishes who
were the first inhabitants of our planet.

The dignified world of the well-to-do middle class, which
dominated the nineteenth century, was willing to make use
of the gas or the electric light, of all the many practical applications
of the great scientific discoveries, but the mere investigator,
the man of the ``scientific theory'' without whom no
progress would be possible, continued to be distrusted until
very recently. Then, at last, his services were recognised. Today
the rich people who in past ages donated their wealth for
the building of a cathedral, construct vast laboratories where
silent men do battle upon the hidden enemies of mankind and
often sacrifice their lives that coming generations may enjoy
greater happiness and health.

Indeed it has come to pass that many of the ills of this
world, which our ancestors regarded as inevitable ``acts of
God,'' have been exposed as manifestations of our own ignorance
and neglect. Every child nowadays knows that he can
keep from getting typhoid fever by a little care in the choice of
his drinking water. But it took years and years of hard
work before the doctors could convince the people of this fact.
Few of us now fear the dentist chair. A study of the microbes
that live in our mouth has made it possible to keep our
teeth from decay. Must perchance a tooth be pulled, then we
take a sniff of gas, and go our way rejoicing. When the newspapers
of the year 1846 brought the story of the ``painless
operation'' which had been performed in America with the help
of ether, the good people of Europe shook their heads. To
them it seemed against the will of God that man should escape
the pain which was the share of all mortals, and it took a long
time before the practice of taking ether and chloroform for
operations became general.

But the battle of progress had been won. The breach in the
old walls of prejudice was growing larger and larger, and as
time went by, the ancient stones of ignorance came crumbling
down. The eager crusaders of a new and happier social order
rushed forward. Suddenly they found themselves facing a new
obstacle. Out of the ruins of a long-gone past, another citadel
of reaction had been erected, and millions of men had to give
their lives before this last bulwark was destroyed.



WHEN a baby is perfectly healthy and has had enough to eat
and has slept all it wants, then it hums a little tune to show how
happy it is. To grown-ups this humming means nothing. It
sounds like ``goo-zum, goo-zum, goo-o-o-o-o,'' but to the baby
it is perfect music. It is his first contribution to art.

As soon as he (or she) gets a little older and is able to sit
up, the period of mud-pie making begins. These mud-pies do
not interest the outside world. There are too many million
babies, making too many million mud-pies at the same time.
But to the small infant they represent another expedition into
the pleasant realm of art. The baby is now a sculptor.

At the age of three or four, when the hands begin to obey
the brain, the child becomes a painter. His fond mother gives
him a box of coloured chalks and every loose bit of paper is
rapidly covered with strange pothooks and scrawls which represent
houses and horses and terrible naval battles.

Soon however this happiness of just ``making things''
comes to an end. School begins and the greater part of the
day is filled up with work. The business of living, or rather
the business of ``making a living,'' becomes the most important
event in the life of every boy and girl. There is little time left
for ``art'' between learning the tables of multiplication and the
past participles of the irregular French verbs. And unless
the desire for making certain things for the mere pleasure of
creating them without any hope of a practical return be very
strong, the child grows into manhood and forgets that the
first five years of his life were mainly devoted to art.

Nations are not different from children. As soon as the
cave-man had escaped the threatening dangers of the long and
shivering ice-period, and had put his house in order, he began
to make certain things which he thought beautiful, although
they were of no earthly use to him in his fight with the wild
animals of the jungle. He covered the walls of his grotto with
pictures of the elephants and the deer which he hunted, and
out of a piece of stone, he hacked the rough figures of those
women he thought most attractive.

As soon as the Egyptians and the Babylonians and the
Persians and all the other people of the east had founded
their little countries along the Nile and the Euphrates, they
began to build magnificent palaces for their kings, invented
bright pieces of jewellery for their women and planted gardens
which sang happy songs of colour with their many bright flowers.

Our own ancestors, the wandering nomads from the distant
Asiatic prairies, enjoying a free and easy existence as
fighters and hunters, composed songs which celebrated the
mighty deeds of their great leaders and invented a form of
poetry which has survived until our own day. A thousand years
later, when they had established themselves on the Greek mainland,
and had built their ``city-states,'' they expressed their
joy (and their sorrows) in magnificent temples, in statues, in
comedies and in tragedies, and in every conceivable form of

The Romans, like their Carthaginian rivals, were too busy
administering other people and making money to have much
love for ``useless and unprofitable'' adventures of the spirit.
They conquered the world and built roads and bridges but they
borrowed their art wholesale from the Greeks. They invented
certain practical forms of architecture which answered the
demands of their day and age. But their statues and their histories
and their mosaics and their poems were mere Latin imi-
tations of Greek originals. Without that vague and hard-to-
define something which the world calls ``personality,'' there can
be no art and the Roman world distrusted that particular sort
of personality. The Empire needed efficient soldiers and
tradesmen. The business of writing poetry or making pictures
was left to foreigners.

Then came the Dark Ages. The barbarian was the proverbial
bull in the china-shop of western Europe. He had no use
for what he did not understand. Speaking in terms of the year
1921, he liked the magazine covers of pretty ladies, but threw
the Rembrandt etchings which he had inherited into the ash-
can. Soon he came to learn better. Then he tried to undo the
damage which he had created a few years before. But the ash-
cans were gone and so were the pictures.

But by this time, his own art, which he had brought with
him from the east, had developed into something very beautiful
and he made up for his past neglect and indifference by the so-
called ``art of the Middle Ages'' which as far as northern Europe
is concerned was a product of the Germanic mind and had
borrowed but little from the Greeks and the Latins and nothing
at all from the older forms of art of Egypt and Assyria, not
to speak of India and China, which simply did not exist, as far
as the people of that time were concerned. Indeed, so little
had the northern races been influenced by their southern neighbours
that their own architectural products were completely
misunderstood by the people of Italy and were treated by
them with downright and unmitigated contempt.

You have all heard the word Gothic. You probably associate
it with the picture of a lovely old cathedral, lifting its slender
spires towards high heaven. But what does the word really

It means something ``uncouth'' and ``barbaric''--something
which one might expect from an ``uncivilised Goth,'' a rough
backwoods-man who had no respect for the established rules of
classical art and who built his ``modern horrors'' to please his
own low tastes without a decent regard for the examples of
the Forum and the Acropolis.

And yet for several centuries this form of Gothic architecture
was the highest expression of the sincere feeling for art
which inspired the whole northern continent. From a previous
chapter, you will remember how the people of the late Middle
Ages lived. Unless they were peasants and dwelt in villages,
they were citizens of a ``city'' or ``civitas,'' the old Latin name
for a tribe. And indeed, behind their high walls and their deep
moats, these good burghers were true tribesmen who shared
the common dangers and enjoyed the common safety and prosperity
which they derived from their system of mutual protection.

In the old Greek and Roman cities the market-place, where
the temple stood, had been the centre of civic life. During
the Middle Ages, the Church, the House of God, became such a
centre. We modern Protestant people, who go to our church
only once a week, and then for a few hours only, hardly know
what a mediaeval church meant to the community. Then, before
you were a week old, you were taken to the Church to be
baptised. As a child, you visited the Church to learn the holy
stories of the Scriptures. Later on you became a member
of the congregation, and if you were rich enough you built
yourself a separate little chapel sacred to the memory of the
Patron Saint of your own family. As for the sacred edifice,
it was open at all hours of the day and many of the night. In
a certain sense it resembled a modern club, dedicated to all the
inhabitants of the town. In the church you very likely caught
a first glimpse of the girl who was to become your bride at a
great ceremony before the High Altar. And finally, when the
end of the journey had come, you were buried beneath the
stones of this familiar building, that all your children and their
grandchildren might pass over your grave until the Day of

Because the Church was not only the House of God but
also the true centre of all common life, the building had to be
different from anything that had ever been constructed by
the hands of man. The temples of the Egyptians and the
Greeks and the Romans had been merely the shrine of a local
divinity. As no sermons were preached before the images of
Osiris or Zeus or Jupiter, it was not necessary that the interior
offer space for a great multitude. All the religious processions
of the old Mediterranean peoples took place in the open. But
in the north, where the weather was usually bad,
most functions were held under the roof of the church.

During many centuries the architects struggled with
this problem of constructing a building that was large
enough. The Roman tradition taught them how to build heavy
stone walls with very small windows lest the walls lose
their strength. On the top of this they then placed a
heavy stone roof. But in the twelfth century, after the
beginning of the Crusades, when the architects had seen the
pointed arches of the Mohammedan builders, the western builders
discovered a new style which gave them their first chance to make
the sort of building which those days of an intense religious
life demanded. And then they developed this strange style upon
which the Italians bestowed the contemptuous name of ``Gothic''or barbaric.
They achieved their purpose by inventing a vaulted roof which
was supported by ``ribs.'' But such a roof, if it became
too heavy, was apt to break the walls, just as a man
of three hundred pounds sitting down upon a child's chair
will force it to collapse. To overcome this difficulty, certain
French architects then began to re-enforce the walls with
``buttresses'' which were merely heavy masses of stone against
which the walls could lean while they supported the roof. And
to assure the further safety of the roof they supported the ribs
of the roof by so-called ``flying buttresses,'' a very simple
method of construction which you will understand at once when
you look at our picture.

This new method of construction allowed the introduction
of enormous windows. In the twelfth century, glass was still
an expensive curiosity, and very few private buildings possessed
glass windows. Even the castles of the nobles were
without protection and this accounts for the eternal drafts
and explains why people of that day wore furs in-doors as
well as out.

Fortunately, the art of making coloured glass, with which
the ancient people of the Mediterranean had been familiar,
had not been entirely lost. There was a revival of stained
glass-making and soon the windows of the Gothic churches
told the stories of the Holy Book in little bits of brilliantly
coloured window-pane, which were caught in a long framework
of lead.

Behold, therefore, the new and glorious house of God,
filled with an eager multitude, ``living'' its religion as no people
have ever done either before or since! Nothing is considered
too good or too costly or too wondrous for this House of God
and Home of Man. The sculptors, who since the destruction
of the Roman Empire have been out of employment, haltingly
return to their noble art. Portals and pillars and buttresses
and cornices are all covered with carven images of Our Lord
and the blessed Saints. The embroiderers too are set to work
to make tapestries for the walls. The jewellers offer their
highest art that the shrine of the altar may be worthy of complete
adoration. Even the painter does his best. Poor man,
he is greatly handicapped by lack of a suitable medium.

And thereby hangs a story.

The Romans of the early Christian period had covered the
floors and the walls of their temples and houses with mosaics;
pictures made of coloured bits of glass. But this art had been
exceedingly difficult. It gave the painter no chance to express
all he wanted to say, as all children know who have ever tried to
make figures out of coloured blocks of wood. The art of
mosaic painting therefore died out during the late Middle
Ages except in Russia, where the Byzantine mosaic painters
had found a refuge after the fall of Constantinople and continued
to ornament the walls of the orthodox churches until
the day of the Bolsheviki, when there was an end to the building
of churches.

Of course, the mediaeval painter could mix his colours with
the water of the wet plaster which was put upon the walls of
the churches. This method of painting upon ``fresh plaster''
(which was generally called ``fresco'' or ``fresh'' painting)
was very popular for many centuries. To-day, it is as rare
as the art of painting miniatures in manuscripts and among
the hundreds of artists of our modern cities there is perhaps
one who can handle this medium successfully. But during the
Middle Ages there was no other way and the artists were
``fresco'' workers for lack of something better. The method
however had certain great disadvantages. Very often the
plaster came off the walls after only a few years, or dampness
spoiled the pictures, just as dampness will spoil the pattern
of our wall paper. People tried every imaginable expedient
to get away from this plaster background. They tried to mix
their colours with wine and vinegar and with honey and with
the sticky white of egg, but none of these methods were satisfactory.
For more than a thousand years these experiments
continued. In painting pictures upon the parchment leaves
of manuscripts the mediaeval artists were very successful. But
when it came to covering large spaces of wood or stone with
paint which would stick, they did not succeed very well.

At last, during the first half of the fifteenth century, the
problem was solved in the southern Netherlands by Jan and
Hubert van Eyck. The famous Flemish brothers mixed their
paint with specially prepared oils and this allowed them to use
wood and canvas or stone or anything else as a background for
their pictures.

But by this time the religious ardour of the early Middle
Ages was a thing of the past. The rich burghers of the cities
were succeeding the bishops as patrons of the arts. And as
art invariably follows the full dinner-pail, the artists now began
to work for these worldly employers and painted pictures for
kings, for grand-dukes and for rich bankers. Within a very
short time, the new method of painting with oil spread through
Europe and in every country there developed a school of
special painting which showed the characteristic tastes of the
people for whom these portraits and landscapes were made.

In Spain, for example, Velasquez painted court-dwarfs
and the weavers of the royal tapestry-factories, and all sorts
of persons and subjects connected with the king and his court.
But in Holland, Rembrandt and Frans Hals and Vermeer
painted the barnyard of the merchant's house, and they painted
his rather dowdy wife and his healthy but bumptious children
and the ships which had brought him his wealth. In Italy on
the other hand, where the Pope remained the largest patron
of the arts, Michelangelo and Correggio continued to paint
Madonnas and Saints, while in England, where the aristocracy
was very rich and powerful and in France where the
kings had become uppermost in the state, the artists painted
distinguished gentlemen who were members of the government,
and very lovely ladies who were friends of His Majesty.

The great change in painting, which came about with the
neglect of the old church and the rise of a new class in society,
was reflected in all other forms of art. The invention of printing
had made it possible for authors to win fame and reputation
by writing books for the multitudes. In this way arose
the profession of the novelist and the illustrator. But the
people who had money enough to buy the new books were not
the sort who liked to sit at home of nights, looking at the ceiling
or just sitting. They wanted to be amused. The few minstrels
of the Middle Ages were not sufficient to cover the demand for
entertainment. For the first time since the early Greek city-
states of two thousand years before, the professional playwright
had a chance to ply his trade. The Middle Ages had
known the theatre merely as part of certain church celebrations.
The tragedies of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
had told the story of the suffering of our Lord. But
during the sixteenth century the worldly theatre made its
reappearance. It is true that, at first, the position of the
professional playwright and actor was not a very high one.
William Shakespeare was regarded as a sort of circus-fellow
who amused his neighbours with his tragedies and comedies.
But when he died in the year 1616 he had begun to enjoy the
respect of his neighbours and actors were no longer subjects
of police supervision.

William's contemporary, Lope de Vega, the incredible
Spaniard who wrote no less than 1800 worldly and 400 religious
plays, was a person of rank who received the papal approval
upon his work. A century later, Moliere, the Frenchman,
was deemed worthy of the companionship of none less
than King Louis XIV.

Since then, the theatre has enjoyed an ever increasing
affection on the part of the people. To-day a ``theatre'' is part
of every well-regulated city, and the ``silent drama'' of the
movies has penetrated to the tiniest of our prairie hamlets.

Another art, however, was to become the most popular of
all. That was music. Most of the old art-forms demanded a
great deal of technical skill. It takes years and years of practice
before our clumsy hand is able to follow the commands of
the brain and reproduce our vision upon canvas or in marble.
It takes a life-time to learn how to act or how to write a good
novel. And it takes a great deal of training on the part of the
public to appreciate the best in painting and writing and
sculpture. But almost any one, not entirely tone-deaf, can
follow a tune and almost everybody can get enjoyment out of
some sort of music. The Middle Ages had heard a little music
but it had been entirely the music of the church. The holy
chants were subject to very severe laws of rhythm and harmony
and soon these became monotonous. Besides, they could not
well be sung in the street or in the market-place.

The Renaissance changed this. Music once more came
into its own as the best friend of man, both in his happiness and
in his sorrows.

The Egyptians and the Babylonians and the ancient Jews
had all been great lovers of music. They had even combined
different instruments into regular orchestras. But the Greeks
had frowned upon this barbaric foreign noise. They liked to
hear a man recite the stately poetry of Homer and Pindar.
They allowed him to accompany himself upon the lyre (the
poorest of all stringed instruments). That was as far as any
one could go without incurring the risk of popular disapproval.
The Romans on the other hand had loved orchestral music at
their dinners and parties and they had invented most of the
instruments which (in VERY modified form) we use to-day.
The early church had despised this music which smacked too
much of the wicked pagan world which had just been destroyed.
A few songs rendered by the entire congregation were
all the bishops of the third and fourth centuries would tolerate.
As the congregation was apt to sing dreadfully out of key without
the guidance of an instrument, the church had afterwards allowed
the use of an organ, an invention of the second century of our era
which consisted of a combination of the old pipes of Pan and
a pair of bellows.

Then came the great migrations. The last of the Roman
musicians were either killed or became tramp-fiddlers going
from city to city and playing in the street, and begging for
pennies like the harpist on a modern ferry-boat.

But the revival of a more worldly civilisation in the cities
of the late Middle Ages had created a new demand for musicians.
Instruments like the horn, which had been used only
as signal-instruments for hunting and fighting, were remodelled
until they could reproduce sounds which were agreeable in the
dance-hall and in the banqueting room. A bow strung with
horse-hair was used to play the old-fashioned guitar and before
the end of the Middle Ages this six-stringed instrument
(the most ancient of all string-instruments which dates back
to Egypt and Assyria) had grown into our modern four-
stringed fiddle which Stradivarius and the other Italian violin-
makers of the eighteenth century brought to the height of perfection.

And finally the modern piano was invented, the most wide-
spread of all musical instruments, which has followed man into
the wilderness of the jungle and the ice-fields of Greenland.
The organ had been the first of all keyed instruments but the
performer always depended upon the co-operation of some one
who worked the bellows, a job which nowadays is done by electricity.
The musicians therefore looked for a handier and less
circumstantial instrument to assist them in training the pupils
of the many church choirs. During the great eleventh century,
Guido, a Benedictine monk of the town of Arezzo (the
birthplace of the poet Petrarch) gave us our modern system
of musical annotation. Some time during that century, when
there was a great deal of popular interest in music, the first
instrument with both keys and strings was built. It must
have sounded as tinkly as one of those tiny children's pianos
which you can buy at every toy-shop. In the city of Vienna,
the town where the strolling musicians of the Middle Ages
(who had been classed with jugglers and card sharps) had
formed the first separate Guild of Musicians in the year 1288,
the little monochord was developed into something which we
can recognise as the direct ancestor of our modern Steinway.
From Austria the ``clavichord'' as it was usually called in those
days (because it had ``craves'' or keys) went to Italy. There
it was perfected into the ``spinet'' which was so called after
the inventor, Giovanni Spinetti of Venice. At last during
the eighteenth century, some time between 1709 and 1720,
Bartolomeo Cristofori made a ``clavier'' which allowed the
performer to play both loudly and softly or as it was said in
Italian, ``piano'' and ``forte.'' This instrument with certain
changes became our ``pianoforte'' or piano.

Then for the first time the world possessed an easy and convenient
instrument which could be mastered in a couple of years
and did not need the eternal tuning of harps and fiddles and
was much pleasanter to the ears than the mediaeval tubas, clarinets,
trombones and oboes. Just as the phonograph has given
millions of modern people their first love of music so did the
early ``pianoforte'' carry the knowledge of music into much
wider circles. Music became part of the education of every well-
bred man and woman. Princes and rich merchants maintained
private orchestras. The musician ceased to be a wandering
``jongleur'' and became a highly valued member of the community.
Music was added to the dramatic performances of
the theatre and out of this practice, grew our modern Opera.
Originally only a few very rich princes could afford the expenses
of an ``opera troupe.'' But as the taste for this sort of
entertainment grew, many cities built their own theatres where
Italian and afterwards German operas were given to the unlimited
joy of the whole community with the exception of a few
sects of very strict Christians who still regarded music with
deep suspicion as something which was too lovely to be entirely
good for the soul.

By the middle of the eighteenth century the musical life
of Europe was in full swing. Then there came forward a
man who was greater than all others, a simple organist of the
Thomas Church of Leipzig, by the name of Johann Sebastian
Bach. In his compositions for every known instrument, from
comic songs and popular dances to the most stately of sacred
hymns and oratorios, he laid the foundation for all our modern
music. When he died in the year 1750 he was succeeded by
Mozart, who created musical fabrics of sheer loveliness which
remind us of lace that has been woven out of harmony and
rhythm. Then came Ludwig van Beethoven, the most tragic
of men, who gave us our modern orchestra, yet heard none of
his greatest compositions because he was deaf, as the result of a
cold contracted during his years of poverty.

Beethoven lived through the period of the great French
Revolution. Full of hope for a new and glorious day, he had
dedicated one of his symphonies to Napoleon. But he lived
to regret the hour. When he died in the year 1827, Napoleon
was gone and the French Revolution was gone, but the steam
engine had come and was filling the world with a sound that
had nothing in common with the dreams of the Third Symphony.

Indeed, the new order of steam and iron and coal and large
factories had little use for art, for painting and sculpture and
poetry and music. The old protectors of the arts, the Church
and the princes and the merchants of the Middle Ages and the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries no longer existed. The
leaders of the new industrial world were too busy and had too
little education to bother about etchings and sonatas and bits
of carved ivory, not to speak of the men who created those
things, and who were of no practical use to the community in
which they lived. And the workmen in the factories listened
to the drone of their engines until they too had lost all taste
for the melody of the flute or fiddle of their peasant ancestry.
The arts became the step-children of the new industrial era.
Art and Life became entirely separated. Whatever paintings
had been left, were dying a slow death in the museums. And
music became a monopoly of a few ``virtuosi'' who took the
music away from the home and carried it to the concert-hall.

But steadily, although slowly, the arts are coming back into
their own. People begin to understand that Rembrandt and
Beethoven and Rodin are the true prophets and leaders of
their race and that a world without art and happiness resembles
a nursery without laughter.



IF I had known how difficult it was to write a History of
the World, I should never have undertaken the task. Of course,
any one possessed of enough industry to lose himself for half
a dozen years in the musty stacks of a library, can compile a
ponderous tome which gives an account of the events in every
land during every century. But that was not the purpose of
the present book. The publishers wanted to print a history
that should have rhythm--a story which galloped rather than
walked. And now that I have almost finished I discover that
certain chapters gallop, that others wade slowly through the
dreary sands of long forgotten ages--that a few parts do not
make any progress at all, while still others indulge in a veritable
jazz of action and romance. I did not like this and I suggested
that we destroy the whole manuscript and begin once
more from the beginning. This, however, the publishers would
not allow.

As the next best solution of my difficulties, I took the type-
written pages to a number of charitable friends and asked them
to read what I had said, and give me the benefit of their advice.
The experience was rather disheartening. Each and every
man had his own prejudices and his own hobbies and preferences.
They all wanted to know why, where and how I dared
to omit their pet nation, their pet statesman, or even their most
beloved criminal. With some of them, Napoleon and Jenghiz
Khan were candidates for high honours. I explained that I
had tried very hard to be fair to Napoleon, but that in my
estimation he was greatly inferior to such men as George
Washington, Gustavus Wasa, Augustus, Hammurabi or
Lincoln, and a score of others all of whom were obliged to
content themselves with a few paragraphs, from sheer lack of
space. As for Jenghiz Khan, I only recognise his superior
ability in the field of wholesale murder and I did not intend to
give him any more publicity than I could help.

``This is very well as far as it goes,'' said the next critic,
``but how about the Puritans? We are celebrating the tercentenary
of their arrival at Plymouth. They ought to have
more space.'' My answer was that if I were writing a history
of America, the Puritans would get fully one half of the first
twelve chapters; that however this was a history of mankind
and that the event on Plymouth rock was not a matter of far-
reaching international importance until many centuries later;
that the United States had been founded by thirteen colonies
and not by a single one; that the most prominent leaders of the
first twenty years of our history had been from Virginia, from
Pennsylvania, and from the island of Nevis, rather than from
Massachusetts; and that therefore the Puritans ought to content
themselves with a page of print and a special map.

Next came the prehistoric specialist. Why in the name of
the great Tyrannosaur had I not devoted more space to the
wonderful race of Cro-Magnon men, who had developed such
a high stage of civilisation 10,000 years ago?

Indeed, and why not? The reason is simple. I do not take
as much stock in the perfection of these early races as some of
our most noted anthropologists seem to do. Rousseau and
the philosophers of the eighteenth century created the ``noble
savage'' who was supposed to have dwelt in a state of perfect
happiness during the beginning of time. Our modern scientists
have discarded the ``noble savage,'' so dearly beloved by
our grandfathers, and they have replaced him by the ``splendid
savage'' of the French Valleys who 35,000 years ago made an
end to the universal rule of the low-browed and low-living
brutes of the Neanderthal and other Germanic neighbourhoods.
They have shown us the elephants the Cro-Magnon painted
and the statues he carved and they have surrounded him with
much glory.

I do not mean to say that they are wrong. But I hold that
we know by far too little of this entire period to re-construct
that early west-European society with any degree (however
humble) of accuracy. And I would rather not state certain
things than run the risk of stating certain things that were not

Then there were other critics, who accused me of direct
unfairness. Why did I leave out such countries as Ireland
and Bulgaria and Siam while I dragged in such other countries
as Holland and Iceland and Switzerland? My answer
was that I did not drag in any countries. They pushed themselves
in by main force of circumstances, and I simply could
not keep them out. And in order that my point may be understood,
let me state the basis upon which active membership to
this book of history was considered.

There was but one rule. ``Did the country or the person
in question produce a new idea or perform an original act
without which the history of the entire human race would have
been different?'' It was not a question of personal taste. It
was a matter of cool, almost mathematical judgment. No race
ever played a more picturesque role in history than the Mongolians,
and no race, from the point of view of achievement or
intelligent progress, was of less value to the rest of mankind.

The career of Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian, is full of
dramatic episodes. But as far as we are concerned, he might just
as well never have existed at all. In the same way, the history
of the Dutch Republic is not interesting because once upon a
time the sailors of de Ruyter went fishing in the river Thames,
but rather because of the fact that this small mud-bank along
the shores of the North Sea offered a hospitable asylum to all
sorts of strange people who had all sorts of queer ideas upon
all sorts of very unpopular subjects.

It is quite true that Athens or Florence, during the hey-day
of their glory, had only one tenth of the population of Kansas
City. But our present civilisation would be very different
had neither of these two little cities of the Mediterranean basin
existed. And the same (with due apologies to the good people
of Wyandotte County) can hardly be said of this busy metropolis
on the Missouri River.

And since I am being very personal, allow me to state one
other fact.

When we visit a doctor, we find out before hand whether
he is a surgeon or a diagnostician or a homeopath or a faith
healer, for we want to know from what angle he will look at
our complaint. We ought to be as careful in the choice of our
historians as we are in the selection of our physicians. We
think, ``Oh well, history is history,'' and let it go at that. But
the writer who was educated in a strictly Presbyterian household
somewhere in the backwoods of Scotland will look differ-
ently upon every question of human relationships from his
neighbour who as a child, was dragged to listen to the brilliant
exhortations of Robert Ingersoll, the enemy of all revealed
Devils. In due course of time, both men may forget their
early training and never again visit either church or lecture
hall. But the influence of these impressionable years stays
with them and they cannot escape showing it in whatever they
write or say or do.

In the preface to this book, I told you that I should not be
an infallible guide and now that we have almost reached the
end, I repeat the warning. I was born and educated in an
atmosphere of the old-fashioned liberalism which had followed
the discoveries of Darwin and the other pioneers of the nineteenth
century. As a child, I happened to spend most of my
waking hours with an uncle who was a great collector of the
books written by Montaigne, the great French essayist of the
sixteenth century. Because I was born in Rotterdam and
educated in the city of Gouda, I ran continually across
Erasmus and for some unknown reason this great exponent
of tolerance took hold of my intolerant self. Later I discovered
Anatole France and my first experience with the English
language came about through an accidental encounter with
Thackeray's ``Henry Esmond,'' a story which made more impression
upon me than any other book in the English language.

If I had been born in a pleasant middle western city I probably
should have a certain affection for the hymns which I had
heard in my childhood. But my earliest recollection of music
goes back to the afternoon when my Mother took me to hear
nothing less than a Bach fugue. And the mathematical perfection
of the great Protestant master influenced me to such
an extent that I cannot hear the usual hymns of our prayer-
meetings without a feeling of intense agony and direct pain.

Again, if I had been born in Italy and had been warmed
by the sunshine of the happy valley of the Arno, I might love
many colourful and sunny pictures which now leave me indifferent
because I got my first artistic impressions in a country
where the rare sun beats down upon the rain-soaked land with
almost cruel brutality and throws everything into violent contrasts
of dark and light.

I state these few facts deliberately that you may know
the personal bias of the man who wrote this history and may
understand his point-of-view. The bibliography at the end of
this book, which represents all sorts of opinions and views, will
allow you to compare my ideas with those of other people.
And in this way, you will be able to reach your own final
conclusions with a greater degree of fairness than would
otherwise be possible.

After this short but necessary excursion, we return to the
history of the last fifty years. Many things happened during
this period but very little occurred which at the time seemed
to be of paramount importance. The majority of the greater
powers ceased to be mere political agencies and became large
business enterprises. They built railroads. They founded and
subsidized steam-ship lines to all parts of the world. They
connected their different possessions with telegraph wires.
And they steadily increased their holdings in other continents.
Every available bit of African or Asiatic territory was claimed
by one of the rival powers. France became a colonial nation
with interests in Algiers and Madagascar and Annam and
Tonkin (in eastern Asia). Germany claimed parts of southwest
and east Africa, built settlements in Kameroon on the
west coast of Africa and in New Guinea and many of the
islands of the Pacific, and used the murder of a few missionaries
as a welcome excuse to take the harbour of Kisochau on the
Yellow Sea in China. Italy tried her luck in Abyssinia, was
disastrously defeated by the soldiers of the Negus, and consoled
herself by occupying the Turkish possessions in Tripoli
in northern Africa. Russia, having occupied all of Siberia,
took Port Arthur away from China. Japan, having defeated
China in the war of 1895, occupied the island of Formosa and
in the year 1905 began to lay claim to the entire empire of
Corea. In the year 1883 England, the largest colonial empire
the world has ever seen, undertook to ``protect'' Egypt. She
performed this task most efficiently and to the great material
benefit of that much neglected country, which ever since the
opening of the Suez canal in 1868 had been threatened with a
foreign invasion. During the next thirty years she fought a
number of colonial wars in different parts of the world and in
1902 (after three years of bitter fighting) she conquered the
independent Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange
Free State. Meanwhile she had encouraged Cecil Rhodes to
lay the foundations for a great African state, which reached
from the Cape almost to the mouth of the Nile, and had faithfully
picked up such islands or provinces as had been left without
a European owner.

The shrewd king of Belgium, by name Leopold, used
the discoveries of Henry Stanley to found the Congo Free
State in the year 1885. Originally this gigantic tropical empire
was an ``absolute monarchy.'' But after many years of
scandalous mismanagement, it was annexed by the Belgian
people who made it a colony (in the year 1908) and abolished
the terrible abuses which had been tolerated by this very
unscrupulous Majesty, who cared nothing for the fate of the
natives as long as he got his ivory and rubber.

As for the United States, they had so much land that they
desired no further territory. But the terrible misrule of
Cuba, one of the last of the Spanish possessions in the western
hemisphere, practically forced the Washington government to
take action. After a short and rather uneventful war, the
Spaniards were driven out of Cuba and Puerto Rico and the
Philippines, and the two latter became colonies of the United

This economic development of the world was perfectly
natural. The increasing number of factories in England and
France and Germany needed an ever increasing amount of raw
materials and the equally increasing number of European
workers needed an ever increasing amount of food. Everywhere
the cry was for more and for richer markets, for more
easily accessible coal mines and iron mines and rubber plantations
and oil-wells, for greater supplies of wheat and grain.

The purely political events of the European continent
dwindled to mere insignificance in the eyes of men who were
making plans for steamboat lines on Victoria Nyanza or
for railroads through the interior of Shantung. They knew
that many European questions still remained to be settled, but
they did not bother, and through sheer indifference and carelessness
they bestowed upon their descendants a terrible inheritance
of hate and misery. For untold centuries the south-eastern
corner of Europe had been the scene of rebellion and bloodshed.
During the seventies of the last century the people of
Serbia and Bulgaria and Montenegro and Roumania were once
more trying to gain their freedom and the Turks (with the
support of many of the western powers), were trying to prevent

After a period of particularly atrocious massacres in Bulgaria
in the year 1876, the Russian people lost all patience.
The Government was forced to intervene just as President McKinley
was obliged to go to Cuba and stop the shooting-squads
of General Weyler in Havana. In April of the year 1877 the
Russian armies crossed the Danube, stormed the Shipka pass,
and after the capture of Plevna, marched southward until they
reached the gates of Constantinople. Turkey appealed for
help to England. There were many English people who denounced
their government when it took the side of the Sultan.
But Disraeli (who had just made Queen Victoria Empress of
India and who loved the picturesque Turks while he hated the
Russians who were brutally cruel to the Jewish people within
their frontiers) decided to interfere. Russia was forced to
conclude the peace of San Stefano (1878) and the question of
the Balkans was left to a Congress which convened at Berlin
in June and July of the same year.

This famous conference was entirely dominated by the personality
of Disraeli. Even Bismarck feared the clever old
man with his well-oiled curly hair and his supreme arrogance,
tempered by a cynical sense of humor and a marvellous gift
for flattery. At Berlin the British prime-minister carefully
watched over the fate of his friends the Turks. Montenegro,
Serbia and Roumania were recognised as independent kingdoms.
The principality of Bulgaria was given a semi-independent
status under Prince Alexander of Battenberg, a
nephew of Tsar Alexander II. But none of those countries
were given the chance to develop their powers and their resources
as they would have been able to do, had England been
less anxious about the fate of the Sultan, whose domains were
necessary to the safety of the British Empire as a bulwark
against further Russian aggression.

To make matters worse, the congress allowed Austria to
take Bosnia and Herzegovina away from the Turks to be
``administered'' as part of the Habsburg domains. It is true
that Austria made an excellent job of it. The neglected provinces
were as well managed as the best of the British colonies,
and that is saying a great deal. But they were inhabited by
many Serbians. In older days they had been part of the great
Serbian empire of Stephan Dushan, who early in the fourteenth
century had defended western Europe against the invasions
of the Turks and whose capital of Uskub had been a
centre of civilisation one hundred and fifty years before Columbus
discovered the new lands of the west. The Serbians remem-
bered their ancient glory as who would not? They resented
the presence of the Austrians in two provinces, which, so they
felt, were theirs by every right of tradition.

And it was in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, that the
archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was murdered
on June 28 of the year 1914. The assassin was a Serbian
student who had acted from purely patriotic motives.

But the blame for this terrible catastrophe which was the
immediate, though not the only cause of the Great World War
did not lie with the half-crazy Serbian boy or his Austrian
victim. It must be traced back to the days of the famous
Berlin Conference when Europe was too busy building a material
civilisation to care about the aspirations and the dreams
of a forgotten race in a dreary corner of the old Balkan



THE Marquis de Condorcet was one of the noblest characters
among the small group of honest enthusiasts who were
responsible for the outbreak of the great French Revolution.
He had devoted his life to the cause of the poor and the unfortunate.
He had been one of the assistants of d'Alembert and
Diderot when they wrote their famous Encyclopedie. During
the first years of the Revolution he had been the leader of the
Moderate wing of the Convention.

His tolerance, his kindliness, his stout common sense, had
made him an object of suspicion when the treason of the king
and the court clique had given the extreme radicals their chance
to get hold of the government and kill their opponents.
Condorcet was declared ``hors de loi,'' or outlawed, an outcast
who was henceforth at the mercy of every true patriot. His
friends offered to hide him at their own peril. Condorcet
refused to accept their sacrifice. He escaped and tried to reach
his home, where he might be safe. After three nights in the
open, torn and bleeding, he entered an inn and asked for some
food. The suspicious yokels searched him and in his pockets
they found a copy of Horace, the Latin poet. This showed
that their prisoner was a man of gentle breeding and had no
business upon the highroads at a time when every educated
person was regarded as an enemy of the Revolutionary state.
They took Condorcet and they bound him and they gagged
him and they threw him into the village lock-up, but in the
morning when the soldiers came to drag him back to Paris and
cut his head off, behold! he was dead.

This man who had given all and had received nothing had
good reason to despair of the human race. But he has written
a few sentences which ring as true to-day as they did one
hundred and thirty years ago. I repeat them here for your

``Nature has set no limits to our hopes,'' he wrote, ``and
the picture of the human race, now freed from its chains and
marching with a firm tread on the road of truth and virtue
and happiness, offers to the philosopher a spectacle which
consoles him for the errors, for the crimes and the injustices
which still pollute and afflict this earth.''

The world has just passed through an agony of pain compared
to which the French Revolution was a mere incident.
The shock has been so great that it has killed the last spark of
hope in the breasts of millions of men. They were chanting a
hymn of progress, and four years of slaughter followed their
prayers for peace. ``Is it worth while,'' so they ask, ``to work
and slave for the benefit of creatures who have not yet passed

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest