Part 2 out of 6
O.M. You were cordially glad you were not caught out and
Y.M. Oh, I just was!
O.M. Now, then--
Y.M. Stop where you are! I know your whole catalog of
questions, and I could answer every one of them without your
wasting the time to ask them; but I will summarize the whole
thing in a single remark: I did the charity knowing it was
because the act would give ME a splendid pleasure, and because
old Sally's moving gratitude and delight would give ME another
one; and because the reflection that she would be happy now and
out of her trouble would fill ME full of happiness. I did the
whole thing with my eyes open and recognizing and realizing that
I was looking out for MY share of the profits FIRST. Now then, I
have confessed. Go on.
O.M. I haven't anything to offer; you have covered the
whole ground. Can you have been any MORE strongly moved to help
Sally out of her trouble--could you have done the deed any more
eagerly--if you had been under the delusion that you were doing
it for HER sake and profit only?
Y.M. No! Nothing in the world could have made the impulse
which moved me more powerful, more masterful, more thoroughly
irresistible. I played the limit!
O.M. Very well. You begin to suspect--and I claim to KNOW
--that when a man is a shade MORE STRONGLY MOVED to do ONE of two
things or of two dozen things than he is to do any one of the
OTHERS, he will infallibly do that ONE thing, be it good or be it
evil; and if it be good, not all the beguilements of all the
casuistries can increase the strength of the impulse by a single
shade or add a shade to the comfort and contentment he will get
out of the act.
Y.M. Then you believe that such tendency toward doing good
as is in men's hearts would not be diminished by the removal of
the delusion that good deeds are done primarily for the sake of
No. 2 instead of for the sake of No. 1?
O.M. That is what I fully believe.
Y.M. Doesn't it somehow seem to take from the dignity of the deed?
O.M. If there is dignity in falsity, it does. It removes that.
Y.M. What is left for the moralists to do?
O.M. Teach unreservedly what he already teaches with one
side of his mouth and takes back with the other: Do right FOR
YOUR OWN SAKE, and be happy in knowing that your NEIGHBOR will
certainly share in the benefits resulting.
Y.M. Repeat your Admonition.
O.M. DILIGENTLY TRAIN YOUR IDEALS UPWARD AND STILL UPWARD
TOWARD A SUMMIT WHERE YOU WILL FIND YOUR CHIEFEST PLEASURE IN
CONDUCT WHICH, WHILE CONTENTING YOU, WILL BE SURE TO CONFER
BENEFITS UPON YOUR NEIGHBOR AND THE COMMUNITY.
Y.M. One's EVERY act proceeds from EXTERIOR INFLUENCES, you think?
Y.M. If I conclude to rob a person, I am not the ORIGINATOR
of the idea, but it comes in from the OUTSIDE? I see him
handling money--for instance--and THAT moves me to the crime?
O.M. That, by itself? Oh, certainly not. It is merely the
LATEST outside influence of a procession of preparatory
influences stretching back over a period of years. No SINGLE
outside influence can make a man do a thing which is at war with
his training. The most it can do is to start his mind on a new
tract and open it to the reception of NEW influences--as in the
case of Ignatius Loyola. In time these influences can train him
to a point where it will be consonant with his new character to
yield to the FINAL influence and do that thing. I will put the
case in a form which will make my theory clear to you, I think.
Here are two ingots of virgin gold. They shall represent a
couple of characters which have been refined and perfected in the
virtues by years of diligent right training. Suppose you wanted
to break down these strong and well-compacted characters--what
influence would you bring to bear upon the ingots?
Y.M. Work it out yourself. Proceed.
O.M. Suppose I turn upon one of them a steam-jet during a
long succession of hours. Will there be a result?
Y.M. None that I know of.
Y.M. A steam-jet cannot break down such a substance.
O.M. Very well. The steam is an OUTSIDE INFLUENCE, but it
is ineffective because the gold TAKES NO INTEREST IN IT. The
ingot remains as it was. Suppose we add to the steam some
quicksilver in a vaporized condition, and turn the jet upon the
ingot, will there be an instantaneous result?
O.M. The QUICKSILVER is an outside influence which gold (by
its peculiar nature--say TEMPERAMENT, DISPOSITION) CANNOT BE
INDIFFERENT TO. It stirs up the interest of the gold, although
we do not perceive it; but a SINGLE application of the influence
works no damage. Let us continue the application in a steady
stream, and call each minute a year. By the end of ten or twenty
minutes--ten or twenty years--the little ingot is sodden with
quicksilver, its virtues are gone, its character is degraded. At
last it is ready to yield to a temptation which it would have
taken no notice of, ten or twenty years ago. We will apply that
temptation in the form of a pressure of my finger. You note the
Y.M. Yes; the ingot has crumbled to sand. I understand,
now. It is not the SINGLE outside influence that does the work,
but only the LAST one of a long and disintegrating accumulation
of them. I see, now, how my SINGLE impulse to rob the man is not
the one that makes me do it, but only the LAST one of a
preparatory series. You might illustrate with a parable.
O.M. I will. There was once a pair of New England boys--
twins. They were alike in good dispositions, feckless morals,
and personal appearance. They were the models of the Sunday-
school. At fifteen George had the opportunity to go as cabin-boy
in a whale-ship, and sailed away for the Pacific. Henry remained
at home in the village. At eighteen George was a sailor before
the mast, and Henry was teacher of the advanced Bible class. At
twenty-two George, through fighting-habits and drinking-habits
acquired at sea and in the sailor boarding-houses of the European
and Oriental ports, was a common rough in Hong-Kong, and out of a
job; and Henry was superintendent of the Sunday-school. At
twenty-six George was a wanderer, a tramp, and Henry was pastor
of the village church. Then George came home, and was Henry's
guest. One evening a man passed by and turned down the lane, and
Henry said, with a pathetic smile, "Without intending me a
discomfort, that man is always keeping me reminded of my pinching
poverty, for he carries heaps of money about him, and goes by
here every evening of his life." That OUTSIDE INFLUENCE--that
remark--was enough for George, but IT was not the one that made
him ambush the man and rob him, it merely represented the eleven
years' accumulation of such influences, and gave birth to the act
for which their long gestation had made preparation. It had
never entered the head of Henry to rob the man--his ingot had
been subjected to clean steam only; but George's had been
subjected to vaporized quicksilver.
More About the Machine
Note.--When Mrs. W. asks how can a millionaire give a single
dollar to colleges and museums while one human being is destitute
of bread, she has answered her question herself. Her feeling for
the poor shows that she has a standard of benevolence; there she
has conceded the millionaire's privilege of having a standard;
since she evidently requires him to adopt her standard, she is by
that act requiring herself to adopt his. The human being always
looks down when he is examining another person's standard; he
never find one that he has to examine by looking up.
The Man-Machine Again
Young Man. You really think man is a mere machine?
Old Man. I do.
Y.M. And that his mind works automatically and is
independent of his control--carries on thought on its own hook?
O.M. Yes. It is diligently at work, unceasingly at work,
during every waking moment. Have you never tossed about all
night, imploring, beseeching, commanding your mind to stop work
and let you go to sleep?--you who perhaps imagine that your mind
is your servant and must obey your orders, think what you tell it
to think, and stop when you tell it to stop. When it chooses to
work, there is no way to keep it still for an instant. The
brightest man would not be able to supply it with subjects if he
had to hunt them up. If it needed the man's help it would wait
for him to give it work when he wakes in the morning.
Y.M. Maybe it does.
O.M. No, it begins right away, before the man gets wide
enough awake to give it a suggestion. He may go to sleep saying,
"The moment I wake I will think upon such and such a subject,"
but he will fail. His mind will be too quick for him; by the
time he has become nearly enough awake to be half conscious, he
will find that it is already at work upon another subject. Make
the experiment and see.
Y.M. At any rate, he can make it stick to a subject if he
O.M. Not if it find another that suits it better. As a
rule it will listen to neither a dull speaker nor a bright one.
It refuses all persuasion. The dull speaker wearies it and sends
it far away in idle dreams; the bright speaker throws out
stimulating ideas which it goes chasing after and is at once
unconscious of him and his talk. You cannot keep your mind from
wandering, if it wants to; it is master, not you.
After an Interval of Days
O.M. Now, dreams--but we will examine that later.
Meantime, did you try commanding your mind to wait for orders
from you, and not do any thinking on its own hook?
Y.M. Yes, I commanded it to stand ready to take orders when
I should wake in the morning.
O.M. Did it obey?
Y.M. No. It went to thinking of something of its own
initiation, without waiting for me. Also--as you suggested--at
night I appointed a theme for it to begin on in the morning, and
commanded it to begin on that one and no other.
O.M. Did it obey?
O.M. How many times did you try the experiment?
O.M. How many successes did you score?
Y.M. Not one.
O.M. It is as I have said: the mind is independent of the
man. He has no control over it; it does as it pleases. It will
take up a subject in spite of him; it will stick to it in spite
of him; it will throw it aside in spite of him. It is entirely
independent of him.
Y.M. Go on. Illustrate.
O.M. Do you know chess?
Y.M. I learned it a week ago.
O.M. Did your mind go on playing the game all night that
Y.M. Don't mention it!
O.M. It was eagerly, unsatisfiably interested; it rioted in
the combinations; you implored it to drop the game and let you
get some sleep?
Y.M. Yes. It wouldn't listen; it played right along. It
wore me out and I got up haggard and wretched in the morning.
O.M. At some time or other you have been captivated by a
Y.M. Indeed, yes!
"I saw Esau kissing Kate,
And she saw I saw Esau;
I saw Esau, he saw Kate,
And she saw--"
And so on. My mind went mad with joy over it. It repeated it
all day and all night for a week in spite of all I could do to
stop it, and it seemed to me that I must surely go crazy.
O.M. And the new popular song?
Y.M. Oh yes! "In the Swee-eet By and By"; etc. Yes, the
new popular song with the taking melody sings through one's head
day and night, asleep and awake, till one is a wreck. There is
no getting the mind to let it alone.
O.M. Yes, asleep as well as awake. The mind is quite
independent. It is master. You have nothing to do with it. It
is so apart from you that it can conduct its affairs, sing its
songs, play its chess, weave its complex and ingeniously
constructed dreams, while you sleep. It has no use for your
help, no use for your guidance, and never uses either, whether
you be asleep or awake. You have imagined that you could
originate a thought in your mind, and you have sincerely believed
you could do it.
Y.M. Yes, I have had that idea.
O.M. Yet you can't originate a dream-thought for it to work
out, and get it accepted?
O.M. And you can't dictate its procedure after it has
originated a dream-thought for itself?
Y.M. No. No one can do it. Do you think the waking mind
and the dream mind are the same machine?
O.M. There is argument for it. We have wild and fantastic
day-thoughts? Things that are dream-like?
Y.M. Yes--like Mr. Wells's man who invented a drug that made
him invisible; and like the Arabian tales of the Thousand Nights.
O.M. And there are dreams that are rational, simple,
consistent, and unfantastic?
Y.M. Yes. I have dreams that are like that. Dreams that
are just like real life; dreams in which there are several
persons with distinctly differentiated characters--inventions of
my mind and yet strangers to me: a vulgar person; a refined one;
a wise person; a fool; a cruel person; a kind and compassionate
one; a quarrelsome person; a peacemaker; old persons and young;
beautiful girls and homely ones. They talk in character, each
preserves his own characteristics. There are vivid fights, vivid
and biting insults, vivid love-passages; there are tragedies and
comedies, there are griefs that go to one's heart, there are
sayings and doings that make you laugh: indeed, the whole thing
is exactly like real life.
O.M. Your dreaming mind originates the scheme, consistently
and artistically develops it, and carries the little drama
creditably through--all without help or suggestion from you?
O.M. It is argument that it could do the like awake without help
or suggestion from you--and I think it does. It is argument that
it is the same old mind in both cases, and never needs your help.
I think the mind is purely a machine, a thoroughly independent
machine, an automatic machine. Have you tried the other
experiment which I suggested to you?
Y.M. Which one?
O.M. The one which was to determine how much influence you
have over your mind--if any.
Y.M. Yes, and got more or less entertainment out of it. I
did as you ordered: I placed two texts before my eyes--one a
dull one and barren of interest, the other one full of interest,
inflamed with it, white-hot with it. I commanded my mind to busy
itself solely with the dull one.
O.M. Did it obey?
Y.M. Well, no, it didn't. It busied itself with the other one.
O.M. Did you try hard to make it obey?
Y.M. Yes, I did my honest best.
O.M. What was the text which it refused to be interested in
or think about?
Y.M. It was this question: If A owes B a dollar and a
half, and B owes C two and three-quarter, and C owes A thirty-
five cents, and D and A together owe E and B three-sixteenths of
--of--I don't remember the rest, now, but anyway it was wholly
uninteresting, and I could not force my mind to stick to it even
half a minute at a time; it kept flying off to the other text.
O.M. What was the other text?
Y.M. It is no matter about that.
O.M. But what was it?
Y.M. A photograph.
O.M. Your own?
Y.M. No. It was hers.
O.M. You really made an honest good test. Did you make a
Y.M. Yes. I commanded my mind to interest itself in the
morning paper's report of the pork-market, and at the same time I
reminded it of an experience of mine of sixteen years ago. It
refused to consider the pork and gave its whole blazing interest
to that ancient incident.
O.M. What was the incident?
Y.M. An armed desperado slapped my face in the presence of
twenty spectators. It makes me wild and murderous every time I
think of it.
O.M. Good tests, both; very good tests. Did you try my
Y.M. The one which was to prove to me that if I would leave
my mind to its own devices it would find things to think about
without any of my help, and thus convince me that it was a
machine, an automatic machine, set in motion by exterior
influences, and as independent of me as it could be if it were in
some one else's skull. Is that the one?
Y.M. I tried it. I was shaving. I had slept well, and my
mind was very lively, even gay and frisky. It was reveling in a
fantastic and joyful episode of my remote boyhood which had
suddenly flashed up in my memory--moved to this by the spectacle
of a yellow cat picking its way carefully along the top of the
garden wall. The color of this cat brought the bygone cat before
me, and I saw her walking along the side-step of the pulpit; saw
her walk on to a large sheet of sticky fly-paper and get all her
feet involved; saw her struggle and fall down, helpless and
dissatisfied, more and more urgent, more and more unreconciled,
more and more mutely profane; saw the silent congregation
quivering like jelly, and the tears running down their faces. I
saw it all. The sight of the tears whisked my mind to a far
distant and a sadder scene--in Terra del Fuego--and with Darwin's
eyes I saw a naked great savage hurl his little boy against the
rocks for a trifling fault; saw the poor mother gather up her
dying child and hug it to her breast and weep, uttering no word.
Did my mind stop to mourn with that nude black sister of mine?
No--it was far away from that scene in an instant, and was
busying itself with an ever-recurring and disagreeable dream of
mine. In this dream I always find myself, stripped to my shirt,
cringing and dodging about in the midst of a great drawing-room
throng of finely dressed ladies and gentlemen, and wondering how
I got there. And so on and so on, picture after picture,
incident after incident, a drifting panorama of ever-changing,
ever-dissolving views manufactured by my mind without any help
from me--why, it would take me two hours to merely name the
multitude of things my mind tallied off and photographed in
fifteen minutes, let alone describe them to you.
O.M. A man's mind, left free, has no use for his help. But
there is one way whereby he can get its help when he desires it.
Y.M. What is that way?
O.M. When your mind is racing along from subject to subject
and strikes an inspiring one, open your mouth and begin talking
upon that matter--or--take your pen and use that. It will
interest your mind and concentrate it, and it will pursue the
subject with satisfaction. It will take full charge, and furnish
the words itself.
Y.M. But don't I tell it what to say?
O.M. There are certainly occasions when you haven't time.
The words leap out before you know what is coming.
Y.M. For instance?
O.M. Well, take a "flash of wit"--repartee. Flash is the
right word. It is out instantly. There is no time to arrange
the words. There is no thinking, no reflecting. Where there is
a wit-mechanism it is automatic in its action and needs no help.
Where the wit-mechanism is lacking, no amount of study and
reflection can manufacture the product.
Y.M. You really think a man originates nothing, creates nothing.
O.M. I do. Men perceive, and their brain-machines
automatically combine the things perceived. That is all.
Y.M. The steam-engine?
O.M. It takes fifty men a hundred years to invent it. One
meaning of invent is discover. I use the word in that sense.
Little by little they discover and apply the multitude of details
that go to make the perfect engine. Watt noticed that confined
steam was strong enough to lift the lid of the teapot. He didn't
create the idea, he merely discovered the fact; the cat had
noticed it a hundred times. From the teapot he evolved the
cylinder--from the displaced lid he evolved the piston-rod. To
attach something to the piston-rod to be moved by it, was a
simple matter--crank and wheel. And so there was a working
One by one, improvements were discovered by men who used
their eyes, not their creating powers--for they hadn't any--and
now, after a hundred years the patient contributions of fifty or
a hundred observers stand compacted in the wonderful machine
which drives the ocean liner.
Y.M. A Shakespearean play?
O.M. The process is the same. The first actor was a
savage. He reproduced in his theatrical war-dances, scalp-
dances, and so on, incidents which he had seen in real life. A
more advanced civilization produced more incidents, more
episodes; the actor and the story-teller borrowed them. And so
the drama grew, little by little, stage by stage. It is made up
of the facts of life, not creations. It took centuries to
develop the Greek drama. It borrowed from preceding ages; it
lent to the ages that came after. Men observe and combine, that
is all. So does a rat.
O.M. He observes a smell, he infers a cheese, he seeks and
finds. The astronomer observes this and that; adds his this and
that to the this-and-thats of a hundred predecessors, infers an
invisible planet, seeks it and finds it. The rat gets into a
trap; gets out with trouble; infers that cheese in traps lacks
value, and meddles with that trap no more. The astronomer is
very proud of his achievement, the rat is proud of his. Yet both
are machines; they have done machine work, they have originated
nothing, they have no right to be vain; the whole credit belongs
to their Maker. They are entitled to no honors, no praises, no
monuments when they die, no remembrance. One is a complex and
elaborate machine, the other a simple and limited machine, but
they are alike in principle, function, and process, and neither
of them works otherwise than automatically, and neither of them
may righteously claim a PERSONAL superiority or a personal
dignity above the other.
Y.M. In earned personal dignity, then, and in personal merit
for what he does, it follows of necessity that he is on the
same level as a rat?
O.M. His brother the rat; yes, that is how it seems to me.
Neither of them being entitled to any personal merit for what he
does, it follows of necessity that neither of them has a right to
arrogate to himself (personally created) superiorities over his
Y.M. Are you determined to go on believing in these
insanities? Would you go on believing in them in the face of
able arguments backed by collated facts and instances?
O.M. I have been a humble, earnest, and sincere Truth-Seeker.
Y.M. Very well?
O.M. The humble, earnest, and sincere Truth-Seeker is
always convertible by such means.
Y.M. I am thankful to God to hear you say this, for now I
know that your conversion--
O.M. Wait. You misunderstand. I said I have BEEN a Truth-Seeker.
O.M. I am not that now. Have your forgotten? I told you
that there are none but temporary Truth-Seekers; that a permanent
one is a human impossibility; that as soon as the Seeker finds
what he is thoroughly convinced is the Truth, he seeks no
further, but gives the rest of his days to hunting junk to patch
it and caulk it and prop it with, and make it weather-proof and
keep it from caving in on him. Hence the Presbyterian remains a
Presbyterian, the Mohammedan a Mohammedan, the Spiritualist a
Spiritualist, the Democrat a Democrat, the Republican a
Republican, the Monarchist a Monarchist; and if a humble,
earnest, and sincere Seeker after Truth should find it in the
proposition that the moon is made of green cheese nothing could
ever budge him from that position; for he is nothing but an
automatic machine, and must obey the laws of his construction.
Y.M. After so--
O.M. Having found the Truth; perceiving that beyond question
man has but one moving impulse--the contenting of his own spirit--
and is merely a machine and entitled to no personal merit for
anything he does, it is not humanly possible for me to seek further.
The rest of my days will be spent in patching and painting and
puttying and caulking my priceless possession and in looking the
other way when an imploring argument or a damaging fact approaches.
1. The Marquess of Worcester had done all of this more than a
Instinct and Thought
Young Man. It is odious. Those drunken theories of yours,
advanced a while ago--concerning the rat and all that--strip Man
bare of all his dignities, grandeurs, sublimities.
Old Man. He hasn't any to strip--they are shams, stolen
clothes. He claims credits which belong solely to his Maker.
Y.M. But you have no right to put him on a level with a rat.
O.M. I don't--morally. That would not be fair to the rat.
The rat is well above him, there.
Y.M. Are you joking?
O.M. No, I am not.
Y.M. Then what do you mean?
O.M. That comes under the head of the Moral Sense. It is a
large question. Let us finish with what we are about now, before
we take it up.
Y.M. Very well. You have seemed to concede that you place
Man and the rat on A level. What is it? The intellectual?
O.M. In form--not a degree.
O.M. I think that the rat's mind and the man's mind are the
same machine, but of unequal capacities--like yours and Edison's;
like the African pygmy's and Homer's; like the Bushman's and Bismarck's.
Y.M. How are you going to make that out, when the lower animals
have no mental quality but instinct, while man possesses reason?
O.M. What is instinct?
Y.M. It is merely unthinking and mechanical exercise of
O.M. What originated the habit?
Y.M. The first animal started it, its descendants have
O.M. How did the first one come to start it?
Y.M. I don't know; but it didn't THINK it out.
O.M. How do you know it didn't?
Y.M. Well--I have a right to suppose it didn't, anyway.
O.M. I don't believe you have. What is thought?
Y.M. I know what you call it: the mechanical and automatic
putting together of impressions received from outside, and
drawing an inference from them.
O.M. Very good. Now my idea of the meaningless term "instinct" is,
that it is merely PETRIFIED THOUGHT; solidified and made inanimate
by habit; thought which was once alive and awake, but it become
unconscious--walks in its sleep, so to speak.
Y.M. Illustrate it.
O.M. Take a herd of cows, feeding in a pasture. Their
heads are all turned in one direction. They do that
instinctively; they gain nothing by it, they have no reason for
it, they don't know why they do it. It is an inherited habit
which was originally thought--that is to say, observation of an
exterior fact, and a valuable inference drawn from that
observation and confirmed by experience. The original wild ox
noticed that with the wind in his favor he could smell his enemy
in time to escape; then he inferred that it was worth while to
keep his nose to the wind. That is the process which man calls
reasoning. Man's thought-machine works just like the other
animals', but it is a better one and more Edisonian. Man, in the
ox's place, would go further, reason wider: he would face part
of the herd the other way and protect both front and rear.
Y.M. Did you stay the term instinct is meaningless?
O.M. I think it is a bastard word. I think it confuses us;
for as a rule it applies itself to habits and impulses which had
a far-off origin in thought, and now and then breaks the rule and
applies itself to habits which can hardly claim a thought-origin.
Y.M. Give an instance.
O.M. Well, in putting on trousers a man always inserts the same old
leg first--never the other one. There is no advantage in that,
and no sense in it. All men do it, yet no man thought it out
and adopted it of set purpose, I imagine. But it is a habit which
is transmitted, no doubt, and will continue to be transmitted.
Y.M. Can you prove that the habit exists?
O.M. You can prove it, if you doubt. If you will take a
man to a clothing-store and watch him try on a dozen pairs of
trousers, you will see.
Y.M. The cow illustration is not--
O.M. Sufficient to show that a dumb animal's mental machine
is just the same as a man's and its reasoning processes the same?
I will illustrate further. If you should hand Mr. Edison a box
which you caused to fly open by some concealed device he would
infer a spring, and would hunt for it and find it. Now an uncle
of mine had an old horse who used to get into the closed lot
where the corn-crib was and dishonestly take the corn. I got the
punishment myself, as it was supposed that I had heedlessly
failed to insert the wooden pin which kept the gate closed.
These persistent punishments fatigued me; they also caused me to
infer the existence of a culprit, somewhere; so I hid myself and
watched the gate. Presently the horse came and pulled the pin
out with his teeth and went in. Nobody taught him that; he had
observed--then thought it out for himself. His process did not
differ from Edison's; he put this and that together and drew an
inference--and the peg, too; but I made him sweat for it.
Y.M. It has something of the seeming of thought about it.
Still it is not very elaborate. Enlarge.
O.M. Suppose Mr. Edison has been enjoying some one's
hospitalities. He comes again by and by, and the house is
vacant. He infers that his host has moved. A while afterward,
in another town, he sees the man enter a house; he infers that
that is the new home, and follows to inquire. Here, now, is the
experience of a gull, as related by a naturalist. The scene is a
Scotch fishing village where the gulls were kindly treated. This
particular gull visited a cottage; was fed; came next day and was
fed again; came into the house, next time, and ate with the
family; kept on doing this almost daily, thereafter. But, once
the gull was away on a journey for a few days, and when it
returned the house was vacant. Its friends had removed to a
village three miles distant. Several months later it saw the
head of the family on the street there, followed him home,
entered the house without excuse or apology, and became a daily
guest again. Gulls do not rank high mentally, but this one had
memory and the reasoning faculty, you see, and applied them
Y.M. Yet it was not an Edison and couldn't be developed into one.
O.M. Perhaps not. Could you?
Y.M. That is neither here nor there. Go on.
O.M. If Edison were in trouble and a stranger helped him
out of it and next day he got into the same difficulty again, he
would infer the wise thing to do in case he knew the stranger's
address. Here is a case of a bird and a stranger as related by a
naturalist. An Englishman saw a bird flying around about his
dog's head, down in the grounds, and uttering cries of distress.
He went there to see about it. The dog had a young bird in his
mouth--unhurt. The gentleman rescued it and put it on a bush and
brought the dog away. Early the next morning the mother bird
came for the gentleman, who was sitting on his veranda, and by
its maneuvers persuaded him to follow it to a distant part of the
grounds--flying a little way in front of him and waiting for him
to catch up, and so on; and keeping to the winding path, too,
instead of flying the near way across lots. The distance covered
was four hundred yards. The same dog was the culprit; he had the
young bird again, and once more he had to give it up. Now the
mother bird had reasoned it all out: since the stranger had
helped her once, she inferred that he would do it again; she knew
where to find him, and she went upon her errand with confidence.
Her mental processes were what Edison's would have been. She put
this and that together--and that is all that thought IS--and out
of them built her logical arrangement of inferences. Edison
couldn't have done it any better himself.
Y.M. Do you believe that many of the dumb animals can think?
O.M. Yes--the elephant, the monkey, the horse, the dog, the
parrot, the macaw, the mocking-bird, and many others. The
elephant whose mate fell into a pit, and who dumped dirt and
rubbish into the pit till bottom was raised high enough to enable
the captive to step out, was equipped with the reasoning quality.
I conceive that all animals that can learn things through
teaching and drilling have to know how to observe, and put this
and that together and draw an inference--the process of thinking.
Could you teach an idiot of manuals of arms, and to advance,
retreat, and go through complex field maneuvers at the word of
Y.M. Not if he were a thorough idiot.
O.M. Well, canary-birds can learn all that; dogs and elephants
learn all sorts of wonderful things. They must surely be able
to notice, and to put things together, and say to themselves,
"I get the idea, now: when I do so and so, as per order,
I am praised and fed; when I do differently I am punished."
Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.
Y.M. Granting, then, that dumb animals are able to think
upon a low plane, is there any that can think upon a high one?
Is there one that is well up toward man?
O.M. Yes. As a thinker and planner the ant is the equal of
any savage race of men; as a self-educated specialist in several
arts she is the superior of any savage race of men; and in one or
two high mental qualities she is above the reach of any man,
savage or civilized!
Y.M. Oh, come! you are abolishing the intellectual frontier
which separates man and beast.
O.M. I beg your pardon. One cannot abolish what does not exist.
Y.M. You are not in earnest, I hope. You cannot mean to
seriously say there is no such frontier.
O.M. I do say it seriously. The instances of the horse, the
gull, the mother bird, and the elephant show that those creatures
put their this's and thats together just as Edison would have
done it and drew the same inferences that he would have drawn.
Their mental machinery was just like his, also its manner of
working. Their equipment was as inferior to the Strasburg clock,
but that is the only difference--there is no frontier.
Y.M. It looks exasperatingly true; and is distinctly
offensive. It elevates the dumb beasts to--to--
O.M. Let us drop that lying phrase, and call them the
Unrevealed Creatures; so far as we can know, there is no such
thing as a dumb beast.
Y.M. On what grounds do you make that assertion?
O.M. On quite simple ones. "Dumb" beast suggests an animal
that has no thought-machinery, no understanding, no speech, no
way of communicating what is in its mind. We know that a hen HAS
speech. We cannot understand everything she says, but we easily
learn two or three of her phrases. We know when she is saying,
"I have laid an egg"; we know when she is saying to the chicks,
"Run here, dears, I've found a worm"; we know what she is saying
when she voices a warning: "Quick! hurry! gather yourselves
under mamma, there's a hawk coming!" We understand the cat when
she stretches herself out, purring with affection and contentment
and lifts up a soft voice and says, "Come, kitties, supper's
ready"; we understand her when she goes mourning about and says,
"Where can they be? They are lost. Won't you help me hunt for
them?" and we understand the disreputable Tom when he challenges
at midnight from his shed, "You come over here, you product of
immoral commerce, and I'll make your fur fly!" We understand a
few of a dog's phrases and we learn to understand a few of the
remarks and gestures of any bird or other animal that we
domesticate and observe. The clearness and exactness of the few
of the hen's speeches which we understand is argument that she
can communicate to her kind a hundred things which we cannot
comprehend--in a word, that she can converse. And this argument
is also applicable in the case of others of the great army of the
Unrevealed. It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to
call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
Now as to the ant--
Y.M. Yes, go back to the ant, the creature that--as you
seem to think--sweeps away the last vestige of an intellectual
frontier between man and the Unrevealed.
O.M. That is what she surely does. In all his history the
aboriginal Australian never thought out a house for himself and
built it. The ant is an amazing architect. She is a wee little
creature, but she builds a strong and enduring house eight feet
high--a house which is as large in proportion to her size as is
the largest capitol or cathedral in the world compared to man's
size. No savage race has produced architects who could approach
the air in genius or culture. No civilized race has produced
architects who could plan a house better for the uses proposed
than can hers. Her house contains a throne-room; nurseries for
her young; granaries; apartments for her soldiers, her workers,
etc.; and they and the multifarious halls and corridors which
communicate with them are arranged and distributed with an
educated and experienced eye for convenience and adaptability.
Y.M. That could be mere instinct.
O.M. It would elevate the savage if he had it. But let us
look further before we decide. The ant has soldiers--battalions,
regiments, armies; and they have their appointed captains and
generals, who lead them to battle.
Y.M. That could be instinct, too.
O.M. We will look still further. The ant has a system of
government; it is well planned, elaborate, and is well carried on.
Y.M. Instinct again.
O.M. She has crowds of slaves, and is a hard and unjust
employer of forced labor.
O.M. She has cows, and milks them.
Y.M. Instinct, of course.
O.M. In Texas she lays out a farm twelve feet square, plants it,
weeds it, cultivates it, gathers the crop and stores it away.
Y.M. Instinct, all the same.
O.M. The ant discriminates between friend and stranger.
Sir John Lubbock took ants from two different nests, made them
drunk with whiskey and laid them, unconscious, by one of the
nests, near some water. Ants from the nest came and examined and
discussed these disgraced creatures, then carried their friends
home and threw the strangers overboard. Sir John repeated the
experiment a number of times. For a time the sober ants did as
they had done at first--carried their friends home and threw the
strangers overboard. But finally they lost patience, seeing that
their reformatory efforts went for nothing, and threw both
friends and strangers overboard. Come--is this instinct, or is
it thoughtful and intelligent discussion of a thing new--
absolutely new--to their experience; with a verdict arrived at,
sentence passed, and judgment executed? Is it instinct?--thought
petrified by ages of habit--or isn't it brand-new thought,
inspired by the new occasion, the new circumstances?
Y.M. I have to concede it. It was not a result of habit;
it has all the look of reflection, thought, putting this and that
together, as you phrase it. I believe it was thought.
O.M. I will give you another instance of thought. Franklin
had a cup of sugar on a table in his room. The ants got at it.
He tried several preventives; and ants rose superior to them.
Finally he contrived one which shut off access--probably set the
table's legs in pans of water, or drew a circle of tar around the
cup, I don't remember. At any rate, he watched to see what they
would do. They tried various schemes--failures, every one. The
ants were badly puzzled. Finally they held a consultation,
discussed the problem, arrived at a decision--and this time they
beat that great philosopher. They formed in procession, cross
the floor, climbed the wall, marched across the ceiling to a
point just over the cup, then one by one they let go and fell
down into it! Was that instinct--thought petrified by ages of
Y.M. No, I don't believe it was. I believe it was a newly
reasoned scheme to meet a new emergency.
O.M. Very well. You have conceded the reasoning power in
two instances. I come now to a mental detail wherein the ant is
a long way the superior of any human being. Sir John Lubbock
proved by many experiments that an ant knows a stranger ant of
her own species in a moment, even when the stranger is disguised
--with paint. Also he proved that an ant knows every individual
in her hive of five hundred thousand souls. Also, after a year's
absence one of the five hundred thousand she will straightway
recognize the returned absentee and grace the recognition with a
affectionate welcome. How are these recognitions made? Not by
color, for painted ants were recognized. Not by smell, for ants
that had been dipped in chloroform were recognized. Not by
speech and not by antennae signs nor contacts, for the drunken
and motionless ants were recognized and the friend discriminated
from the stranger. The ants were all of the same species,
therefore the friends had to be recognized by form and feature--
friends who formed part of a hive of five hundred thousand! Has
any man a memory for form and feature approaching that?
Y.M. Certainly not.
O.M. Franklin's ants and Lubbuck's ants show fine
capacities of putting this and that together in new and untried
emergencies and deducting smart conclusions from the
combinations--a man's mental process exactly. With memory to
help, man preserves his observations and reasonings, reflects
upon them, adds to them, recombines, and so proceeds, stage by
stage, to far results--from the teakettle to the ocean
greyhound's complex engine; from personal labor to slave labor;
from wigwam to palace; from the capricious chase to agriculture
and stored food; from nomadic life to stable government and
concentrated authority; from incoherent hordes to massed armies.
The ant has observation, the reasoning faculty, and the
preserving adjunct of a prodigious memory; she has duplicated
man's development and the essential features of his civilization,
and you call it all instinct!
Y.M. Perhaps I lacked the reasoning faculty myself.
O.M. Well, don't tell anybody, and don't do it again.
Y.M. We have come a good way. As a result--as I understand it--
I am required to concede that there is absolutely no intellectual
frontier separating Man and the Unrevealed Creatures?
O.M. That is what you are required to concede. There is no
such frontier--there is no way to get around that. Man has a
finer and more capable machine in him than those others, but it
is the same machine and works in the same way. And neither he
nor those others can command the machine--it is strictly
automatic, independent of control, works when it pleases, and
when it doesn't please, it can't be forced.
Y.M. Then man and the other animals are all alike, as to mental
machinery, and there isn't any difference of any stupendous
magnitude between them, except in quality, not in kind.
O.M. That is about the state of it--intellectuality. There
are pronounced limitations on both sides. We can't learn to
understand much of their language, but the dog, the elephant,
etc., learn to understand a very great deal of ours. To that
extent they are our superiors. On the other hand, they can't
learn reading, writing, etc., nor any of our fine and high
things, and there we have a large advantage over them.
Y.M. Very well, let them have what they've got, and welcome;
there is still a wall, and a lofty one. They haven't got the
Moral Sense; we have it, and it lifts us immeasurably above them.
O.M. What makes you think that?
Y.M. Now look here--let's call a halt. I have stood the
other infamies and insanities and that is enough; I am not going
to have man and the other animals put on the same level morally.
O.M. I wasn't going to hoist man up to that.
Y.M. This is too much! I think it is not right to jest
about such things.
O.M. I am not jesting, I am merely reflecting a plain and
simple truth--and without uncharitableness. The fact that man
knows right from wrong proves his INTELLECTUAL superiority to the
other creatures; but the fact that he can DO wrong proves his
MORAL inferiority to any creature that CANNOT. It is my belief
that this position is not assailable.
Y.M. What is your opinion regarding Free Will?
O.M. That there is no such thing. Did the man possess it
who gave the old woman his last shilling and trudged home in the
Y.M. He had the choice between succoring the old woman and
leaving her to suffer. Isn't it so?
O.M. Yes, there was a choice to be made, between bodily
comfort on the one hand and the comfort of the spirit on the
other. The body made a strong appeal, of course--the body would
be quite sure to do that; the spirit made a counter appeal. A
choice had to be made between the two appeals, and was made. Who
or what determined that choice?
Y.M. Any one but you would say that the man determined it,
and that in doing it he exercised Free Will.
O.M. We are constantly assured that every man is endowed
with Free Will, and that he can and must exercise it where he is
offered a choice between good conduct and less-good conduct. Yet
we clearly saw that in that man's case he really had no Free
Will: his temperament, his training, and the daily influences
which had molded him and made him what he was, COMPELLED him to
rescue the old woman and thus save HIMSELF--save himself from
spiritual pain, from unendurable wretchedness. He did not make
the choice, it was made FOR him by forces which he could not
control. Free Will has always existed in WORDS, but it stops
there, I think--stops short of FACT. I would not use those
words--Free Will--but others.
Y.M. What others?
O.M. Free Choice.
Y.M. What is the difference?
O.M. The one implies untrammeled power to ACT as you please,
the other implies nothing beyond a mere MENTAL PROCESS:
the critical ability to determine which of two things
is nearest right and just.
Y.M. Make the difference clear, please.
O.M. The mind can freely SELECT, CHOOSE, POINT OUT the
right and just one--its function stops there. It can go no
further in the matter. It has no authority to say that the right
one shall be acted upon and the wrong one discarded.
That authority is in other hands.
Y.M. The man's?
O.M. In the machine which stands for him. In his born
disposition and the character which has been built around it by
training and environment.
Y.M. It will act upon the right one of the two?
O.M. It will do as it pleases in the matter. George Washington's
machine would act upon the right one; Pizarro would act upon the wrong one.
Y.M. Then as I understand it a bad man's mental machinery calmly
and judicially points out which of two things is right and just--
O.M. Yes, and his MORAL machinery will freely act upon
the other or the other, according to its make, and be quite
indifferent to the MIND'S feeling concerning the matter--that is,
WOULD be, if the mind had any feelings; which it hasn't.
It is merely a thermometer: it registers the heat and the cold,
and cares not a farthing about either.
Y.M. Then we must not claim that if a man KNOWS which of
two things is right he is absolutely BOUND to do that thing?
O.M. His temperament and training will decide what he shall
do, and he will do it; he cannot help himself, he has no
authority over the mater. Wasn't it right for David to go out
and slay Goliath?
O.M. Then it would have been equally RIGHT for any one else to do it?
O.M. Then it would have been RIGHT for a born coward to attempt it?
Y.M. It would--yes.
O.M. You know that no born coward ever would have attempted it, don't you?
O.M. You know that a born coward's make and temperament
would be an absolute and insurmountable bar to his ever essaying
such a thing, don't you?
Y.M. Yes, I know it.
O.M. He clearly perceives that it would be RIGHT to try it?
O.M. His mind has Free Choice in determining that it would
be RIGHT to try it?
O.M. Then if by reason of his inborn cowardice he simply
can NOT essay it, what becomes of his Free Will? Where is his
Free Will? Why claim that he has Free Will when the plain facts
show that he hasn't? Why content that because he and David SEE
the right alike, both must ACT alike? Why impose the same laws
upon goat and lion?
Y.M. There is really no such thing as Free Will?
O.M. It is what I think. There is WILL. But it has
nothing to do with INTELLECTUAL PERCEPTIONS OF RIGHT AND WRONG,
and is not under their command. David's temperament and training
had Will, and it was a compulsory force; David had to obey its
decrees, he had no choice. The coward's temperament and training
possess Will, and IT is compulsory; it commands him to avoid
danger, and he obeys, he has no choice. But neither the Davids
nor the cowards possess Free Will--will that may do the right or
do the wrong, as their MENTAL verdict shall decide.
Not Two Values, But Only One
Y.M. There is one thing which bothers me: I can't tell
where you draw the line between MATERIAL covetousness and
O.M. I don't draw any.
Y.M. How do you mean?
O.M. There is no such thing as MATERIAL covetousness.
All covetousness is spiritual
Y.M. ALL longings, desires, ambitions SPIRITUAL, never material?
O.M. Yes. The Master in you requires that in ALL cases you
shall content his SPIRIT--that alone. He never requires anything
else, he never interests himself in any other matter.
Y.M. Ah, come! When he covets somebody's money--isn't that
rather distinctly material and gross?
O.M. No. The money is merely a symbol--it represents in
visible and concrete form a SPIRITUAL DESIRE. Any so-called
material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not
for ITSELF, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.
Y.M. Please particularize.
O.M. Very well. Maybe the thing longed for is a new hat.
You get it and your vanity is pleased, your spirit contented.
Suppose your friends deride the hat, make fun of it: at once it
loses its value; you are ashamed of it, you put it out of your
sight, you never want to see it again.
Y.M. I think I see. Go on.
O.M. It is the same hat, isn't it? It is in no way
altered. But it wasn't the HAT you wanted, but only what it
stood for--a something to please and content your SPIRIT. When
it failed of that, the whole of its value was gone. There are no
MATERIAL values; there are only spiritual ones. You will hunt in
vain for a material value that is ACTUAL, REAL--there is no such
thing. The only value it possesses, for even a moment, is the
spiritual value back of it: remove that end and it is at once
worthless--like the hat.
Y.M. Can you extend that to money?
O.M. Yes. It is merely a symbol, it has no MATERIAL value;
you think you desire it for its own sake, but it is not so. You
desire it for the spiritual content it will bring; if it fail of
that, you discover that its value is gone. There is that
pathetic tale of the man who labored like a slave, unresting,
unsatisfied, until he had accumulated a fortune, and was happy
over it, jubilant about it; then in a single week a pestilence
swept away all whom he held dear and left him desolate. His
money's value was gone. He realized that his joy in it came not
from the money itself, but from the spiritual contentment he got
out of his family's enjoyment of the pleasures and delights it
lavished upon them. Money has no MATERIAL value; if you remove
its spiritual value nothing is left but dross. It is so with all
things, little or big, majestic or trivial--there are no
exceptions. Crowns, scepters, pennies, paste jewels, village
notoriety, world-wide fame--they are all the same, they have no
MATERIAL value: while they content the SPIRIT they are precious,
when this fails they are worthless.
A Difficult Question
Y.M. You keep me confused and perplexed all the time by
your elusive terminology. Sometimes you divide a man up into two
or three separate personalities, each with authorities,
jurisdictions, and responsibilities of its own, and when he is in
that condition I can't grasp it. Now when _I_ speak of a man, he
is THE WHOLE THING IN ONE, and easy to hold and contemplate.
O.M. That is pleasant and convenient, if true. When you
speak of "my body" who is the "my"?
Y.M. It is the "me."
O.M. The body is a property then, and the Me owns it.
Who is the Me?
Y.M. The Me is THE WHOLE THING; it is a common property; an
undivided ownership, vested in the whole entity.
O.M. If the Me admires a rainbow, is it the whole Me that
admires it, including the hair, hands, heels, and all?
Y.M. Certainly not. It is my MIND that admires it.
O.M. So YOU divide the Me yourself. Everybody does;
everybody must. What, then, definitely, is the Me?
Y.M. I think it must consist of just those two parts--
the body and the mind.
O.M. You think so? If you say "I believe the world is round,"
who is the "I" that is speaking?
Y.M. The mind.
O.M. If you say "I grieve for the loss of my father,"
who is the "I"?
Y.M. The mind.
O.M. Is the mind exercising an intellectual function when
it examines and accepts the evidence that the world is round?
O.M. Is it exercising an intellectual function when it
grieves for the loss of your father?
Y.M. That is not cerebration, brain-work, it is a matter of FEELING.
O.M. Then its source is not in your mind, but in your MORAL territory?
Y.M. I have to grant it.
O.M. Is your mind a part of your PHYSICAL equipment?
Y.M. No. It is independent of it; it is spiritual.
O.M. Being spiritual, it cannot be affected by physical influences?
O.M. Does the mind remain sober with the body is drunk?
O.M. There IS a physical effect present, then?
Y.M. It looks like it.
O.M. A cracked skull has resulted in a crazy mind. Why
should it happen if the mind is spiritual, and INDEPENDENT of
Y.M. Well--I don't know.
O.M. When you have a pain in your foot, how do you know it?
Y.M. I feel it.
O.M. But you do not feel it until a nerve reports the hurt
to the brain. Yet the brain is the seat of the mind, is it not?
Y.M. I think so.
O.M. But isn't spiritual enough to learn what is happening
in the outskirts without the help of the PHYSICAL messenger? You
perceive that the question of who or what the Me is, is not a
simple one at all. You say "I admire the rainbow," and "I
believe the world is round," and in these cases we find that the
Me is not speaking, but only the MENTAL part. You say, "I
grieve," and again the Me is not all speaking, but only the MORAL
part. You say the mind is wholly spiritual; then you say "I have
a pain" and find that this time the Me is mental AND spiritual
combined. We all use the "I" in this indeterminate fashion,
there is no help for it. We imagine a Master and King over what
you call The Whole Thing, and we speak of him as "I," but when we
try to define him we find we cannot do it. The intellect and the
feelings can act quite INDEPENDENTLY of each other; we recognize
that, and we look around for a Ruler who is master over both, and
can serve as a DEFINITE AND INDISPUTABLE "I," and enable us to
know what we mean and who or what we are talking about when we
use that pronoun, but we have to give it up and confess that we
cannot find him. To me, Man is a machine, made up of many
mechanisms, the moral and mental ones acting automatically in
accordance with the impulses of an interior Master who is built
out of born-temperament and an accumulation of multitudinous
outside influences and trainings; a machine whose ONE function is
to secure the spiritual contentment of the Master, be his desires
good or be they evil; a machine whose Will is absolute and must
be obeyed, and always IS obeyed.
Y.M. Maybe the Me is the Soul?
O.M. Maybe it is. What is the Soul?
Y.M. I don't know.
O.M. Neither does any one else.
The Master Passion
Y.M. What is the Master?--or, in common speech, the
Conscience? Explain it.
O.M. It is that mysterious autocrat, lodged in a man, which
compels the man to content its desires. It may be called the
Master Passion--the hunger for Self-Approval.
Y.M. Where is its seat?
O.M. In man's moral constitution.
Y.M. Are its commands for the man's good?
O.M. It is indifferent to the man's good; it never concerns
itself about anything but the satisfying of its own desires. It
can be TRAINED to prefer things which will be for the man's good,
but it will prefer them only because they will content IT better
than other things would.
Y.M. Then even when it is trained to high ideals it is still
looking out for its own contentment, and not for the man's good.
O.M. True. Trained or untrained, it cares nothing for the man's good,
and never concerns itself about it.
Y.M. It seems to be an IMMORAL force seated in the man's
O.M. It is a COLORLESS force seated in the man's moral constitution.
Let us call it an instinct--a blind, unreasoning instinct, which cannot
and does not distinguish between good morals and bad ones, and cares
nothing for results to the man provided its own contentment be secured;
and it will ALWAYS secure that.
Y.M. It seeks money, and it probably considers that that is
an advantage for the man?
O.M. It is not always seeking money, it is not always
seeking power, nor office, nor any other MATERIAL advantage. In
ALL cases it seeks a SPIRITUAL contentment, let the MEANS be what
they may. Its desires are determined by the man's temperament--
and it is lord over that. Temperament, Conscience,
Susceptibility, Spiritual Appetite, are, in fact, the same thing.
Have you ever heard of a person who cared nothing for money?
Y.M. Yes. A scholar who would not leave his garret and his
books to take a place in a business house at a large salary.
O.M. He had to satisfy his master--that is to say, his temperament,
his Spiritual Appetite--and it preferred books to money. Are there
Y.M. Yes, the hermit.
O.M. It is a good instance. The hermit endures solitude,
hunger, cold, and manifold perils, to content his autocrat, who
prefers these things, and prayer and contemplation, to money or
to any show or luxury that money can buy. Are there others?
Y.M. Yes. The artist, the poet, the scientist.
O.M. Their autocrat prefers the deep pleasures of these
occupations, either well paid or ill paid, to any others in the
market, at any price. You REALIZE that the Master Passion--the
contentment of the spirit--concerns itself with many things
besides so-called material advantage, material prosperity, cash,
and all that?
Y.M. I think I must concede it.
O.M. I believe you must. There are perhaps as many
Temperaments that would refuse the burdens and vexations and
distinctions of public office as there are that hunger after
them. The one set of Temperaments seek the contentment of the
spirit, and that alone; and this is exactly the case with the
other set. Neither set seeks anything BUT the contentment of the
spirit. If the one is sordid, both are sordid; and equally so,
since the end in view is precisely the same in both cases. And
in both cases Temperament decides the preference--and Temperament
is BORN, not made.
O.M. You have been taking a holiday?
Y.M. Yes; a mountain tramp covering a week. Are you ready to talk?
O.M. Quite ready. What shall we begin with?
Y.M. Well, lying abed resting up, two days and nights, I
have thought over all these talks, and passed them carefully in
review. With this result: that . . . that . . . are you
intending to publish your notions about Man some day?
O.M. Now and then, in these past twenty years, the Master
inside of me has half-intended to order me to set them to paper
and publish them. Do I have to tell you why the order has
remained unissued, or can you explain so simply a thing without
Y.M. By your doctrine, it is simplicity itself: outside
influences moved your interior Master to give the order; stronger
outside influences deterred him. Without the outside influences,
neither of these impulses could ever have been born, since a
person's brain is incapable or originating an idea within itself.
O.M. Correct. Go on.
Y.M. The matter of publishing or withholding is still in your
Master's hands. If some day an outside influence shall determine
him to publish, he will give the order, and it will be obeyed.
O.M. That is correct. Well?
Y.M. Upon reflection I have arrived at the conviction
that the publication of your doctrines would be harmful.
Do you pardon me?
O.M. Pardon YOU? You have done nothing. You are an
instrument--a speaking-trumpet. Speaking-trumpets are not
responsible for what is said through them. Outside influences--
in the form of lifelong teachings, trainings, notions,
prejudices, and other second-hand importations--have persuaded
the Master within you that the publication of these doctrines
would be harmful. Very well, this is quite natural, and was to
be expected; in fact, was inevitable. Go on; for the sake of
ease and convenience, stick to habit: speak in the first person,
and tell me what your Master thinks about it.
Y.M. Well, to begin: it is a desolating doctrine; it is
not inspiring, enthusing, uplifting. It takes the glory out of
man, it takes the pride out of him, it takes the heroism out of
him, it denies him all personal credit, all applause; it not only
degrades him to a machine, but allows him no control over the
machine; makes a mere coffee-mill of him, and neither permits him
to supply the coffee nor turn the crank, his sole and piteously
humble function being to grind coarse or fine, according to his
make, outside impulses doing the rest.
O.M. It is correctly stated. Tell me--what do men admire
most in each other?
Y.M. Intellect, courage, majesty of build, beauty of
countenance, charity, benevolence, magnanimity, kindliness,
O.M. I would not go any further. These are ELEMENTALS.
Virtue, fortitude, holiness, truthfulness, loyalty, high ideals--
these, and all the related qualities that are named in the
dictionary, are MADE OF THE ELEMENTALS, by blendings,
combinations, and shadings of the elementals, just as one makes
green by blending blue and yellow, and makes several shades and
tints of red by modifying the elemental red. There are several
elemental colors; they are all in the rainbow; out of them we
manufacture and name fifty shades of them. You have named the
elementals of the human rainbow, and also one BLEND--heroism,
which is made out of courage and magnanimity. Very well, then;
which of these elements does the possessor of it manufacture for
himself? Is it intellect?
Y.M. He is born with it.
O.M. Is it courage?
Y.M. No. He is born with it.
O.M. Is it majesty of build, beauty of countenance?
Y.M. No. They are birthrights.
O.M. Take those others--the elemental moral qualities--
charity, benevolence, magnanimity, kindliness; fruitful seeds,
out of which spring, through cultivation by outside influences,
all the manifold blends and combinations of virtues named in the
dictionaries: does man manufacture any of those seeds, or are
they all born in him?
Y.M. Born in him.
O.M. Who manufactures them, then?
O.M. Where does the credit of it belong?
Y.M. To God.
O.M. And the glory of which you spoke, and the applause?
Y.M. To God.
O.M. Then it is YOU who degrade man. You make him claim
glory, praise, flattery, for every valuable thing he possesses--
BORROWED finery, the whole of it; no rag of it earned by himself,
not a detail of it produced by his own labor. YOU make man a
humbug; have I done worse by him?
Y.M. You have made a machine of him.
O.M. Who devised that cunning and beautiful mechanism, a
O.M. Who devised the law by which it automatically hammers
out of a piano an elaborate piece of music, without error, while
the man is thinking about something else, or talking to a friend?
O.M. Who devised the blood? Who devised the wonderful
machinery which automatically drives its renewing and refreshing
streams through the body, day and night, without assistance or
advice from the man? Who devised the man's mind, whose machinery
works automatically, interests itself in what it pleases,
regardless of its will or desire, labors all night when it likes,
deaf to his appeals for mercy? God devised all these things.
_I_ have not made man a machine, God made him a machine. I am
merely calling attention to the fact, nothing more. Is it wrong
to call attention to the fact? Is it a crime?
Y.M. I think it is wrong to EXPOSE a fact when harm can
come of it.
O.M. Go on.
Y.M. Look at the matter as it stands now. Man has been
taught that he is the supreme marvel of the Creation; he believes
it; in all the ages he has never doubted it, whether he was a
naked savage, or clothed in purple and fine linen, and civilized.
This has made his heart buoyant, his life cheery. His pride in
himself, his sincere admiration of himself, his joy in what he
supposed were his own and unassisted achievements, and his
exultation over the praise and applause which they evoked--these
have exalted him, enthused him, ambitioned him to higher and
higher flights; in a word, made his life worth the living. But
by your scheme, all this is abolished; he is degraded to a
machine, he is a nobody, his noble prides wither to mere
vanities; let him strive as he may, he can never be any better
than his humblest and stupidest neighbor; he would never be
cheerful again, his life would not be worth the living.
O.M. You really think that?
Y.M. I certainly do.
O.M. Have you ever seen me uncheerful, unhappy.
O.M. Well, _I_ believe these things. Why have they not
made me unhappy?
Y.M. Oh, well--temperament, of course! You never let THAT
escape from your scheme.
O.M. That is correct. If a man is born with an unhappy
temperament, nothing can make him happy; if he is born with a
happy temperament, nothing can make him unhappy.
Y.M. What--not even a degrading and heart-chilling system
O.M. Beliefs? Mere beliefs? Mere convictions? They are
powerless. They strive in vain against inborn temperament.
Y.M. I can't believe that, and I don't.
O.M. Now you are speaking hastily. It shows that you have
not studiously examined the facts. Of all your intimates, which
one is the happiest? Isn't it Burgess?
O.M. And which one is the unhappiest? Henry Adams?
Y.M. Without a question!
O.M. I know them well. They are extremes, abnormals; their
temperaments are as opposite as the poles. Their life-histories
are about alike--but look at the results! Their ages are about
the same--about around fifty. Burgess had always been buoyant,
hopeful, happy; Adams has always been cheerless, hopeless,
despondent. As young fellows both tried country journalism--and
failed. Burgess didn't seem to mind it; Adams couldn't smile, he
could only mourn and groan over what had happened and torture
himself with vain regrets for not having done so and so instead
of so and so--THEN he would have succeeded. They tried the law--
and failed. Burgess remained happy--because he couldn't help it.
Adams was wretched--because he couldn't help it. From that day
to this, those two men have gone on trying things and failing:
Burgess has come out happy and cheerful every time; Adams the
reverse. And we do absolutely know that these men's inborn
temperaments have remained unchanged through all the vicissitudes
of their material affairs. Let us see how it is with their
immaterials. Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been
zealous Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps. Burgess
has always found happiness and Adams unhappiness in these several
political beliefs and in their migrations out of them. Both of
these men have been Presbyterians, Universalists, Methodists,
Catholics--then Presbyterians again, then Methodists again.
Burgess has always found rest in these excursions, and Adams
unrest. They are trying Christian Science, now, with the
customary result, the inevitable result. No political or
religious belief can make Burgess unhappy or the other man happy.
I assure you it is purely a matter of temperament. Beliefs are
ACQUIREMENTS, temperaments are BORN; beliefs are subject to
change, nothing whatever can change temperament.
Y.M. You have instanced extreme temperaments.
O.M. Yes, the half-dozen others are modifications of the
extremes. But the law is the same. Where the temperament is
two-thirds happy, or two-thirds unhappy, no political or
religious beliefs can change the proportions. The vast majority
of temperaments are pretty equally balanced; the intensities are
absent, and this enables a nation to learn to accommodate itself
to its political and religious circumstances and like them, be
satisfied with them, at last prefer them. Nations do not THINK,
they only FEEL. They get their feelings at second hand through
their temperaments, not their brains. A nation can be brought--
by force of circumstances, not argument--to reconcile itself to
ANY KIND OF GOVERNMENT OR RELIGION THAT CAN BE DEVISED; in time
it will fit itself to the required conditions; later, it will
prefer them and will fiercely fight for them. As instances, you
have all history: the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the
Egyptians, the Russians, the Germans, the French, the English,
the Spaniards, the Americans, the South Americans, the Japanese,
the Chinese, the Hindus, the Turks--a thousand wild and tame
religions, every kind of government that can be thought of, from
tiger to house-cat, each nation KNOWING it has the only true
religion and the only sane system of government, each despising
all the others, each an ass and not suspecting it, each proud of
its fancied supremacy, each perfectly sure it is the pet of God,
each without undoubting confidence summoning Him to take command
in time of war, each surprised when He goes over to the enemy,
but by habit able to excuse it and resume compliments--in a word,
the whole human race content, always content, persistently
content, indestructibly content, happy, thankful, proud, NO
MATTER WHAT ITS RELIGION IS, NOR WHETHER ITS MASTER BE TIGER OR
HOUSE-CAT. Am I stating facts? You know I am. Is the human
race cheerful? You know it is. Considering what it can stand,
and be happy, you do me too much honor when you think that _I_
can place before it a system of plain cold facts that can take
the cheerfulness out of it. Nothing can do that. Everything has
been tried. Without success. I beg you not to be troubled.
THE DEATH OF JEAN
The death of Jean Clemens occurred early in the morning of
December 24, 1909. Mr. Clemens was in great stress of mind when
I first saw him, but a few hours later I found him writing
"I am setting it down," he said, "everything. It is a
relief to me to write it. It furnishes me an excuse for
thinking." At intervals during that day and the next I looked
in, and usually found him writing. Then on the evening of the
26th, when he knew that Jean had been laid to rest in Elmira, he
came to my room with the manuscript in his hand.
"I have finished it," he said; "read it. I can form no
opinion of it myself. If you think it worthy, some day--at the
proper time--it can end my autobiography. It is the final
Four months later--almost to the day--(April 21st) he was
Albert Bigelow Paine.
Stormfield, Christmas Eve, 11 A.M., 1909.
JEAN IS DEAD!
Has any one ever tried to put upon paper all the little
happenings connected with a dear one--happenings of the twenty-
four hours preceding the sudden and unexpected death of that dear
one? Would a book contain them? Would two books contain them?
I think not. They pour into the mind in a flood. They are
little things that have been always happening every day, and were
always so unimportant and easily forgettable before--but now!
Now, how different! how precious they are, now dear, how
unforgettable, how pathetic, how sacred, how clothed with dignity!
Last night Jean, all flushed with splendid health, and I the
same, from the wholesome effects of my Bermuda holiday, strolled
hand in hand from the dinner-table and sat down in the library
and chatted, and planned, and discussed, cheerily and happily
(and how unsuspectingly!)--until nine--which is late for us--then
went upstairs, Jean's friendly German dog following. At my door
Jean said, "I can't kiss you good night, father: I have a cold,
and you could catch it." I bent and kissed her hand. She was
moved--I saw it in her eyes--and she impulsively kissed my hand
in return. Then with the usual gay "Sleep well, dear!" from
both, we parted.
At half past seven this morning I woke, and heard voices
outside my door. I said to myself, "Jean is starting on her
usual horseback flight to the station for the mail." Then Katy
 entered, stood quaking and gasping at my bedside a moment,
then found her tongue:
"MISS JEAN IS DEAD!"
Possibly I know now what the soldier feels when a bullet
crashes through his heart.
In her bathroom there she lay, the fair young creature,
stretched upon the floor and covered with a sheet. And looking
so placid, so natural, and as if asleep. We knew what had
happened. She was an epileptic: she had been seized with a
convulsion and heart failure in her bath. The doctor had to come
several miles. His efforts, like our previous ones, failed to
bring her back to life.
It is noon, now. How lovable she looks, how sweet and how
tranquil! It is a noble face, and full of dignity; and that was
a good heart that lies there so still.
In England, thirteen years ago, my wife and I were stabbed
to the heart with a cablegram which said, "Susy was mercifully
released today." I had to send a like shot to Clara, in Berlin,
this morning. With the peremptory addition, "You must not come
home." Clara and her husband sailed from here on the 11th of
this month. How will Clara bear it? Jean, from her babyhood,
was a worshiper of Clara.
Four days ago I came back from a month's holiday in Bermuda
in perfected health; but by some accident the reporters failed to
perceive this. Day before yesterday, letters and telegrams began
to arrive from friends and strangers which indicated that I was
supposed to be dangerously ill. Yesterday Jean begged me to
explain my case through the Associated Press. I said it was not
important enough; but she was distressed and said I must think of
Clara. Clara would see the report in the German papers, and as
she had been nursing her husband day and night for four months
 and was worn out and feeble, the shock might be disastrous.
There was reason in that; so I sent a humorous paragraph by
telephone to the Associated Press denying the "charge" that I was
"dying," and saying "I would not do such a thing at my time of
Jean was a little troubled, and did not like to see me treat
the matter so lightly; but I said it was best to treat it so, for
there was nothing serious about it. This morning I sent the
sorrowful facts of this day's irremediable disaster to the
Associated Press. Will both appear in this evening's papers?--
the one so blithe, the other so tragic?
I lost Susy thirteen years ago; I lost her mother--her
incomparable mother!--five and a half years ago; Clara has gone
away to live in Europe; and now I have lost Jean. How poor I am,
who was once so rich! Seven months ago Mr. Roger died--one of
the best friends I ever had, and the nearest perfect, as man and
gentleman, I have yet met among my race; within the last six
weeks Gilder has passed away, and Laffan--old, old friends of
mine. Jean lies yonder, I sit here; we are strangers under our
own roof; we kissed hands good-by at this door last night--and it
was forever, we never suspecting it. She lies there, and I sit
here--writing, busying myself, to keep my heart from breaking.
How dazzlingly the sunshine is flooding the hills around! It is
like a mockery.
Seventy-four years ago twenty-four days ago. Seventy-four
years old yesterday. Who can estimate my age today?
I have looked upon her again. I wonder I can bear it. She
looks just as her mother looked when she lay dead in that
Florentine villa so long ago. The sweet placidity of death! it
is more beautiful than sleep.
I saw her mother buried. I said I would never endure that
horror again; that I would never again look into the grave of any
one dear to me. I have kept to that. They will take Jean from
this house tomorrow, and bear her to Elmira, New York, where lie
those of us that have been released, but I shall not follow.
Jean was on the dock when the ship came in, only four days
ago. She was at the door, beaming a welcome, when I reached this
house the next evening. We played cards, and she tried to teach
me a new game called "Mark Twain." We sat chatting cheerily in
the library last night, and she wouldn't let me look into the
loggia, where she was making Christmas preparations. She said
she would finish them in the morning, and then her little French
friend would arrive from New York--the surprise would follow; the
surprise she had been working over for days. While she was out
for a moment I disloyally stole a look. The loggia floor was
clothed with rugs and furnished with chairs and sofas; and the
uncompleted surprise was there: in the form of a Christmas tree
that was drenched with silver film in a most wonderful way; and
on a table was prodigal profusion of bright things which she was
going to hang upon it today. What desecrating hand will ever
banish that eloquent unfinished surprise from that place? Not
mine, surely. All these little matters have happened in the last
four days. "Little." Yes--THEN. But not now. Nothing she said
or thought or did is little now. And all the lavish humor!--what
is become of it? It is pathos, now. Pathos, and the thought of
it brings tears.
All these little things happened such a few hours ago--and
now she lies yonder. Lies yonder, and cares for nothing any
more. Strange--marvelous--incredible! I have had this
experience before; but it would still be incredible if I had had
it a thousand times.
"MISS JEAN IS DEAD!"
That is what Katy said. When I heard the door open behind
the bed's head without a preliminary knock, I supposed it was
Jean coming to kiss me good morning, she being the only person
who was used to entering without formalities.
I have been to Jean's parlor. Such a turmoil of Christmas
presents for servants and friends! They are everywhere; tables,
chairs, sofas, the floor--everything is occupied, and over-
occupied. It is many and many a year since I have seen the like.
In that ancient day Mrs. Clemens and I used to slip softly into
the nursery at midnight on Christmas Eve and look the array of
presents over. The children were little then. And now here is
Jean's parlor looking just as that nursery used to look. The
presents are not labeled--the hands are forever idle that would
have labeled them today. Jean's mother always worked herself
down with her Christmas preparations. Jean did the same
yesterday and the preceding days, and the fatigue has cost her
her life. The fatigue caused the convulsion that attacked her
this morning. She had had no attack for months.
Jean was so full of life and energy that she was constantly
is danger of overtaxing her strength. Every morning she was in
the saddle by half past seven, and off to the station for her
mail. She examined the letters and I distributed them: some to
her, some to Mr. Paine, the others to the stenographer and
myself. She dispatched her share and then mounted her horse
again and went around superintending her farm and her poultry the
rest of the day. Sometimes she played billiards with me after
dinner, but she was usually too tired to play, and went early to
Yesterday afternoon I told her about some plans I had been
devising while absent in Bermuda, to lighten her burdens. We
would get a housekeeper; also we would put her share of the
secretary-work into Mr. Paine's hands.
No--she wasn't willing. She had been making plans herself.
The matter ended in a compromise, I submitted. I always did.
She wouldn't audit the bills and let Paine fill out the checks--
she would continue to attend to that herself. Also, she would
continue to be housekeeper, and let Katy assist. Also, she would
continue to answer the letters of personal friends for me. Such
was the compromise. Both of us called it by that name, though I
was not able to see where my formidable change had been made.
However, Jean was pleased, and that was sufficient for me.
She was proud of being my secretary, and I was never able to persuade
her to give up any part of her share in that unlovely work.
In the talk last night I said I found everything going so
smoothly that if she were willing I would go back to Bermuda in
February and get blessedly out of the clash and turmoil again for
another month. She was urgent that I should do it, and said that
if I would put off the trip until March she would take Katy and
go with me. We struck hands upon that, and said it was settled.
I had a mind to write to Bermuda by tomorrow's ship and secure a
furnished house and servants. I meant to write the letter this
morning. But it will never be written, now.
For she lies yonder, and before her is another journey than that.
Night is closing down; the rim of the sun barely shows above the
sky-line of the hills.
I have been looking at that face again that was growing dearer
and dearer to me every day. I was getting acquainted with
Jean in these last nine months. She had been long an exile from
home when she came to us three-quarters of a year ago. She had
been shut up in sanitariums, many miles from us. How eloquent
glad and grateful she was to cross her father's threshold again!
Would I bring her back to life if I could do it? I would not.
If a word would do it, I would beg for strength to withhold
the word. And I would have the strength; I am sure of it. In
her loss I am almost bankrupt, and my life is a bitterness, but I
am content: for she has been enriched with the most precious of
all gifts--that gift which makes all other gifts mean and poor--
death. I have never wanted any released friend of mine restored
to life since I reached manhood. I felt in this way when Susy
passed away; and later my wife, and later Mr. Rogers. When Clara
met me at the station in New York and told me Mr. Rogers had died
suddenly that morning, my thought was, Oh, favorite of fortune--
fortunate all his long and lovely life--fortunate to his latest
moment! The reporters said there were tears of sorrow in my
eyes. True--but they were for ME, not for him. He had suffered
no loss. All the fortunes he had ever made before were poverty
compared with this one.
Why did I build this house, two years ago? To shelter this
vast emptiness? How foolish I was! But I shall stay in it. The
spirits of the dead hallow a house, for me. It was not so with
other members of the family. Susy died in the house we built in
Hartford. Mrs. Clemens would never enter it again. But it made
the house dearer to me. I have entered it once since, when it
was tenantless and silent and forlorn, but to me it was a holy
place and beautiful. It seemed to me that the spirits of the
dead were all about me, and would speak to me and welcome me if
they could: Livy, and Susy, and George, and Henry Robinson, and
Charles Dudley Warner. How good and kind they were, and how
lovable their lives! In fancy I could see them all again, I
could call the children back and hear them romp again with
George--that peerless black ex-slave and children's idol who came
one day--a flitting stranger--to wash windows, and stayed
eighteen years. Until he died. Clara and Jean would never enter
again the New York hotel which their mother had frequented in
earlier days. They could not bear it. But I shall stay in this
house. It is dearer to me tonight than ever it was before.