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  • 1913
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Missus!” he shouted to the porter’s wife who was passing through the room. “This young nobleman’s name’s Looney, isn’t it?”

“Looks as if it ‘ad ought to be,” she answered, with a smile, for she avoided unnecessary difficulties. It was her duty to act as mother to the children in the probation ward, and she had already mothered about five thousand.

“Well, Looney,” Clem went on as soon as she had gone, “I’ll give you a fair run for your money. By next Sunday week you must ‘ave a sore ‘ead or sore eyes, or I’ll see as you get both. But p’raps I may as well take two of the lot of yer in ‘and at once.”

He seized the daft creature and Alfred by the short hair at the back of their heads, and began running them up and down as a pair of ponies. The others laughed, partly for flattery, partly for change.

“That don’t sound as if they was un’appy, do it, sir?” said the porter’s wife, coming in again at that moment with one of the managers, who was paying a “surprise visit” to the school.

“No, indeed!” he answered heartily. “Well, boys, having a real good time, are you? That’s right. Better being here than starving outside, isn’t it?”

“Oh yuss, sir, a deal better!” said Clem. “Plenty to eat ‘ere, sir, and nobody to be crule to yer, and nice little lessons for an hour in the afternoon!”

It was getting dark, and as the gas was lit and cast its yellow glare over the large room, Alfred thought how his mother must just then be lighting the candle to give Ben and the baby their tea.


So the children waited the due fortnight for the appearance of disease. But no one “broke out.” Looney, it is true, developed a very sore head, but the doctor declared there was nothing contagious about it; at which neglect of scientific precaution Clem expressed justifiable disgust. For, indeed, he could have diagnosed the case completely himself, as a sore due to compulsory friction of the epidermis against an iron bedstead. But as science remained deaf to his protests, he hastened to get first pick of the regulation suits and shoes, and when fairly satisfied with the fit, he bit private marks on their various parts, helped to put on Looney’s waistcoat wrong way before, split Alfred’s shirt down the back to test its age, and with an emphatic remark upon the perversity of mortal things, marched stoically up to the school with the rest of the little band. Little Lizzie followed with the girls about a hundred yards behind. Alfred pretended not to see her. Somehow he was now becoming rather ashamed of having a sister.

The great bell was just ringing for dinner. Alfred and the other new boys were at once arranged according to height in the phalanx of fours mustered in the yard. At the word of command the whole solid mass put itself in motion, shortest in front, and advanced towards the hall with the little workhouse shuffle. Dividing this way and that, the boys filed along the white tables. At the same moment the girls entered from another door, and the infants from a third. By a liberal concession, “the sexes” had lately been allowed to look at each other from a safe distance at meals.

A gong sounded: there was instant silence. It sounded again: all stood up and clasped their hands. Many shut their eyes and assumed an expression of intensity, as though preparing to wrestle with the Spirit. Clem, having planted both heels firmly on Looney’s foot, screwed up his face, and appeared to wrestle more than any. A note was struck on the harmonium. All sang the grace. The gong sounded: all sat down. It sounded again: all talked.

“Yes, we allow them to talk at meals now,” said the superintendent to a visitor who was standing with him in the middle of the room. “We find it helps to counteract the effects of over-feeding on the digestion.”

“What a beautiful sight it all is!” said the visitor. “Such precision and obedience! Everything seems satisfactory.”

“Yes,” said the superintendent, “we do our very best to make it a happy home. Don’t we, Ma?”

“We do, indeed,” said the matron. “You see, sir, it has to be a home as well as a school.”

The superintendent had been employed in workhouse schools for many years, and had gradually worked himself up to the highest position. On his appointment he had hoped to introduce many important changes in the system. Now, at the end of nine years, he could point to a few improvements in the steam-laundry, and the substitution of a decent little cap for the old workhouse Glengarry. At one time he had conceived the idea of allowing the boys brushes and combs instead of having their hair cropped short to the skin. But in this and other points he had found it better to let things slide rather than throw the whole place out of gear for a trifle. Changes received little encouragement; and the public didn’t really care what happened until some cruel scandal in the evening papers made their blood boil for half a minute as they went home to dinner in the suburbs.

The gong sounded. All stood up again with clasped hands, and again Looney suffered while Clem joined in the grace. As the boys marched out at one door, Alfred looked back and caught sight of Lizzie departing flushed and torpid with the infants after her struggle to make a “clean plate” of her legal pound of flesh and solid dough. In the afternoon he was sent to enjoy the leisure of school with his “standard,” or to creep about in the howling chaos of play-time in the yard. After tea he was herded with four hundred others into a day-room quite big enough to allow them to stand without touching each other. Hot pipes ran round the sides under a little bench, and the whitewashed walls were relieved by diagrams of the component parts of a sweet pea and scenes from the life of Abraham. As usual an attempt was made at hide-and-seek under strange conditions. Some inglorious inventor had solved the problem of playing that royal game in an empty oblong room. His method was to plant out the “juniors” in clusters or copses on the floor, whilst the “seniors” lurked and ran and hunted in and out their undergrowth. To add zest to the chase, Clem now let Looney slip as a kind of bag-fox, and the half-witted creature went lumbering and blubbering about in real terror of his life, whilst his pursuers encouraged his speed with artifices in which the animated spinnies and coverts deferentially joined. Unnoticed and lonely in the crowd, Alfred was almost sorry he was not half-witted too.

At last he was marched off to his dormitory with fifty-five others, and lay for a long time listening with the fascination of innocence whilst Clem in a low voice described with much detail the scenes of “human nature” which he had recently witnessed down hopping with his people. Almost before he was well asleep, as it seemed, the strange new life began again with the bray of a bugle and the flaring of gas, and he had to hurry down to the model lavatory to wash under his special little jet of warm spray, so elaborately contrived in the hope of keeping ophthalmia in check.

So, with drills and scrubbings and breakfasts and schools, the great circles of childhood’s days and nights went by, each distinguished from another only by the dinner and the Sunday services. And from first to last the pauper child was haunted by the peculiar pauper smell, containing elements of whitewash, damp boards, soap, steam, hot pipes, the last dinner and the next, corduroys, a little chlorate of lime, and the bodies of hundreds of children. It was not unwholesome.


One thing shed a light over the days as it approached, and then left them dark till the hope of its return brought a dubious twilight. Once a month, on a Saturday afternoon, Mrs. Reeve had promised to come and see the two children. She might have come oftener, for considerable allowance was made for family affection. But it was difficult enough in four weeks to lay by the few pence which would take her down to the suburb. Punctually at two she was at the gate, and till four she might sit with the children in the lodge. Not much was said. They clung to each other in silence. Or she undid the boy’s stiff waistcoat, and looked at his grey shirt, and tried to accustom herself to her Lizzie’s short hair and heavy blue dress. Many others came too, and sat in the same room–eloquent drunkards appealing to heaven, exuberant relatives with apples and sweets, unsatisfied till the children howled in answer to their pathos, girls half-ashamed to be seen, and quiet working mothers. As four struck, good-bye was said, and with Lizzie’s crying in her ears Mrs. Reeve walked blindly back through the lines of suburban villas to the station. Twice she came, and, counting the days and weeks, the children had made themselves ready for the third great Saturday. Carefully washed and brushed, they sat in their separate day-rooms, and waited. Two o’clock struck, but no message came. All the afternoon they waited, sick with disappointment and loneliness. At last, seeing the matron go by, Alfred said: “Please, mum, my mother ain’t come to-day.”

“Not come?” she answered. “Oh, that _is_ a cruel mother! But they’re all the same. Each time, sure as fate, there’s somebody forgotten, so you’re no worse off than anybody else. Look, here’s a nice big sweet for you instead! Oh yes, I’ll tell them about your little sister. What’s your name, did you say?”

As he went out along the corridor, Alfred came upon Looney hiding behind an iron column, and crying to himself. “Why, what’s the matter with you?” he asked.

“My mother ain’t been to see me,” whined Looney, with unrestrained sobs; “and Clem says ‘e’s wrote to tell ‘er she’d best not come no more, ‘cos I’m so bad.”

His mother had been for years at the school herself, and after serving in a brief series of situations, had calculated the profit and loss, and gone on the streets.

“Mine didn’t come neither,” said Alfred. “Matron says they’re all like that. But never you mind, ‘ere’s a nice sweet for you instead.”

He took the sweet out of his own mouth. Looney received it cautiously, and his great watery eyes gazed at Alfred with the awe of a biologist who watches a new law of nature at work.

Next day after dinner Lizzie and Alfred met in the hall, as brothers and sisters were allowed to meet for an hour on Sundays. They sat side by side with their backs to the long tablecloths left on for tea.

“She never come,” said Alfred after the growing shyness of meeting had begun to pass off.

“You don’t know what _I’ve_ got!” she answered, holding up her clenched fist.

“I s’pose she won’t never come no more,” said Alfred.

“Look!” she answered, opening her fingers and disclosing a damp penny, the bribe of one of the nurses.

“Matron says she’s cruel, and ‘as forgot about us, same as they all do,” said Alfred.

Then Lizzie took up her old wail. The penny dropped and rolled in a fine curve along the boards.

“There, don’t ‘e cry, Liz,” he said. And they sat huddled together overcome by the dull exhaustion of childish grief. The chapel bell began to ring. Alfred took a corner of her white pinafore, wetted it, and tried to wash off the marks of tears. And as they hurried away Lizzie stooped and picked up the penny.

A few minutes later they were at service in their brick and iron chapel, which suburban residents sometimes attended instead of going to church in the evening.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord,” they sang, following the choir, of which the head-master was justly proud. And the chaplain preached on the text, “Thou hast clothed me in scarlet, yea, I have a goodly heritage,” demonstrating that there was no peculiar advantage about scarlet, but that dark blue would serve quite as well for thankfulness, if only the children would live up to its ideal.

“This is a wonderful institution,” said the chaplain’s friend after service, as they sat at tea by the fire. “It is a kind of little Utopia in itself, a modern Phalanstery. How Plato would have admired it! I’m sure he’d have enjoyed this afternoon’s service.”

“Yes, I daresay he would,” said the chaplain. “But you must excuse me for an hour or so. I make a point of running through the infirmary and ophthalmic ward on Sundays. Oh yes, we have a permanent ward for ophthalmia. Please make yourself comfortable till I come back.”

His friend spent the time in jotting down heads for an essay on the advantages of communal nurture for the young. He was a lecturer on social subjects, and liked to be able to appeal to experience in his lectures.


Next morning came a letter written in a large and careful hand: “My dear Alfred,–I hope these few lines find you well, as they don’t leave me at present. I fell down the office stairs last night and got a twist to my inside, so can’t come to-day. Kiss Liz from me, and tell her to be good. From your loving mother, Mrs. Reeve.”

Day followed day, and the mother did not come. The children lived on, almost without thought of change in the daily round, the common task.

It was early in Christmas week, and the female officers were doing their best to excite merriment over the decorations. Snow was falling, but the flakes, after hesitating for a moment, thawed into sludge on the surface of the asphalte yard. Seeing Alfred shivering about under the shed, the superintendent sent him to the office for a plan of the school drainage, which had lately been reconstructed on the most sanitary principles. The boy found the plan on the table, under a little brass dog which someone had given the superintendent as a paper-weight.

“A dog!” he said to himself, taking it up carefully. It was a setter with a front paw raised as though it sighted game. Alfred stroked its back and felt its muzzle. Then he pushed it along the polished table, and thought of all the things he could make it do, if only he had it for a bit. He put it down, patted its head again with his cold hand, and took up the plan. But somehow the dog suddenly looked at him with a friendly smile, and seemed to move its tail and silky ears. He caught it up, glanced round, slipped it up his waistcoat, and ran as hard as he could go.

“Thank you my boy,” said the superintendent, taking the plan. “You’ve not been here long, have you?”

“Oh yes, sir, a tremenjus long time!” said Alfred, shaking all over, whilst the dog’s paw kept scratching through his shirt.

“My memory isn’t what it was,” sighed the superintendent to himself, and he thought of the days when he had struggled to learn the name at least of every boy in his charge.

That afternoon Alfred went into school filled with mixed shame, apprehension, and importance, such as Eve might have felt if she could have gone back to a girls’ school with the apple. Lessons began with a “combined recitation” from Shakespeare.

“Now,” said the teacher, “go on at ‘Mercy on me.'”

“‘Methinks nobody should be sad but I,'” shouted seventy mouths, opening like one in a unison of sing-song.

“Now, you there!” cried the teacher. “You with your hand up your waistcoat! You’re not attending. Go on at ‘Only for wantonness.'”

“‘By my Christendom,'” Alfred blurted out, almost bringing dog and all to light in his terror:

“‘So I were out of prison and kept sheep, I should be merry as the day is long.
And so I should be here, but that I doubt–‘”

“That’ll do,” said the teacher, “Now attend.”

The seventy joined in with “My uncle practises,” and Alfred turned from red to white.

At tea the table jammed the hidden dog against his chest. When he sought relief by sitting back over the form, Clem corrected the irregular posture with a pin. At bedtime he undressed in terror lest the creature should jump out and patter on the boards as live things will. But at last the gas was turned off at the main, and he cautiously groped for his pet among his little heap of clothes under the bed. That night Clem’s most outrageous story could not attract him. He roamed Elysian fields with his dog. Like all toys, it was something better than alive. And certainly no mortal setter ever played so many parts. It hunted rats up the nightgown sleeves, and caught burglars by the throat as they stole into bed. It tracked murderers over the sheet’s pathless waste. It coursed deer up and down the hills and valleys of his knees. It drove sheep along the lanes of the striped blanket. It rescued drowning sailors from the vasty deep around the bed. It dug out frozen travellers from the snowdrifts of the pillow. And at last it slept soundly, kennelled between two warm hands, and continued its adventures in dreams.

At the first note of the bugle Alfred sprang up in bed, sure that the drill-sergeant would come to pull him out first. As he marched listlessly up and down the yard at drill, the wind blew pitilessly, and the dog gnawed at him till he was red and sore. At meals and in school he was sure that secret eyes were watching him. He searched everywhere for some hole where he might hide the thing. But the building was too irreproachable to shelter a mouse.

Next day was Christmas Eve. He had heard from the “permanents” that at Christmas each child received an apple, an orange, and twelve nuts in a paper bag. He hungered for them. Even the ordinary meals had become the chief points of interest in life, and the days were named from the dinners. He was forgetting the scanty and uncertain food of his home, now that dinner came as regularly as in a rich man’s house or the Zoo. And Christmas promised something far beyond the ordinary. There was to be pork. At Christmas, at all events, he would lay himself out for perfect enjoyment, undisturbed by terrors. He would take the dog back, and be at peace again.

Just before tea-time he saw the superintendent pass over to the infants’ side. He stole along the sounding corridors to the office, and noiselessly opened the door. There was somebody there. But it was only Looney, who, being able to count like a calculating machine because no other thoughts disturbed him, had been set to tie up in bundles of a hundred each certain pink and blue envelopes which lay in heaps on the floor. Each envelope contained a Christmas card with a text, and every child on Christmas morning found one laid ready on its plate at breakfast. A wholesale stationer supplied them, and a benevolent lady paid the bill.

“Leave me alone,” cried Looney from habit, “I ain’t doin’ nuffin.”

“All right,” said Alfred airily; “I’ve only come to fetch somethink.”

But just at that moment he heard the superintendent’s footstep coming along the passage. There was no escape and no time for thought. With the instinct of terror he put the dog down noiselessly beside Looney on the carpet, drew quickly back, and stood rigid beside the door as it opened.

“Hullo!” said the superintendent, “what are you doing here?”

“Nothink, sir, only somethink,” Alfred stammered.

“What’s the meaning of that?” said the superintendent.

“I wanted to speak to that boy very pertikler, sir,” said Alfred.

The superintendent looked at Looney. But Looney in turning round had caught sight of the dog at his side, and was gazing at it open-mouthed, as a countryman gazes at a pigeon produced from a conjuror’s hat. Suddenly he pounced upon it as though he was afraid it would fly away, and kept it close hidden under his hands.

“Oh, that’s what you wanted to speak about so particular, is it?” said the superintendent. “That paperweight’s been lost these two or three days, and it was you who stole it, was it?”

“Please sir,” said Alfred, beginning to cry, “‘e never done it, and I didn’t mean no ‘arm.”

“Oh, enough of that,” said the superintendent. “I’ve got other things to do besides standing here arguing with you all night. I’ll send for you both at bed-time, and then I’ll teach you to come stealing about here, you young thieves. Now drop that, and clear out!” he added more angrily to Looney, who was still chuckling with astonishment over his prize.

So they were both well beaten that night, and Looney never knew why, but took it as an incident in his chain of dim sensations. Next day they alone did not receive either the Christmas card or the paper bag. But after dinner Clem had them up before him, and gave them each a nutshell and a piece of orange-peel, adding the paternal advice: “Look ‘ere, my sons, if you two can’t pinch better than that, you’d best turn up pinchin’ altogether till you see yer father do it.”

On Boxing Day Mrs. Reeve at last contrived to come again. She was informed that she could not see her son because he was kept indoors for stealing.

After this the machinery of the institution had its own way with him. It was as though he were passed through each of its scientific appliances in turn–the steam washing machine, the centrifugal steam wringer, the hot-air drying horse, the patent mangle, the gas ovens, the heating pipes, the spray baths, the model bakery, and the central engine. After drifting through the fourth standard he was sent every other day to a workshop to fit him for after life. Looney joined a squad of little gardeners which shuffled about the walks, two deep, with spades shouldered like rifles. Alfred was sent to the shoemaker’s, as there was a vacancy there. He did such work as he was afraid not to do, and all went well as long as nothing happened.

Only two events marked the lapse of time. Mrs. Reeve did not recover from the “twist in her inside.” In answer to her appeal, a brother-in-law in the north took charge of her two remaining children, and then she died. It was about three years after Alfred had entered the school. He was sorry; but the next day came, and the next, and there was no visible change. The bell rang: breakfast, dinner, and tea succeeded each other. It was difficult to imagine that he had suffered any loss.

The other event was more startling, and it helped to obliterate the last thought of his mother’s death. After a brief interval of parental guidance, Clem had returned to the school for about the tenth time. As usual he devoted his vivacious intellect chiefly to Looney, in whose progress he expressed an almost grandmotherly interest. Looney sputtered and made sport as usual, till one night an unbaptized idea was somehow wafted into the limbo of his brain. He was counting over the faggots in the great store-room under his dormitory when the thought came. Soon afterwards he went upstairs, and quietly got into bed. It was a model dormitory. So many cubic feet of air were allowed for each child. The temperature was regulated according to thermometers hung on the wall. Windows and ventilators opened on each side of the room to give a thorough draught across the top. The beds had spring mattresses of steel, and three striped blankets each, and spotted red and white counterpanes such as give pauper dormitories such a cheerful look. Looney and Clem slept side by side. Before midnight the dormitory was full of suffocating smoke. The alarm was raised. For a time it was thought that all the boys had escaped down an iron staircase lately erected outside the building. But when the flames had been put out in the store-room below, the bodies of Looney and Clem were found clasped together on Clem’s bed. Looney’s arms were twisted very tightly around Clem’s neck, and people said he had perished in trying to save his friend. Next Sunday the chaplain preached on the text, “And in death they were not divided.” Their names were inscribed side by side on a little monument set up to commemorate the event, and underneath was carved a passage from the Psalms: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”


At last Alfred’s discharge paper came from the workhouse, and he trudged down the road to the station, carrying a wooden box with his outfit, valued at L7. He had been in charge of the State for six years, and had quite forgotten the outside world. His nurture and education had cost the ratepayers L180. He was now going to a home provided by benevolent persons as a kind of featherbed to catch the falling workhouse boy. Here the manager found him a situation with a shoemaker, since shoemaking was his trade, but after a week’s trial his master called one evening at the home.

“Look ‘ere, Mr. Waterton,” he said to the manager. “I took on that there boy Reeve to do yer a kindness, but it ain’t no manner of good. I suppose the boy ‘ad parents of some sort, most likely bad, but ‘e seems to me kind of machine-made, same as a Leicester boot. I can’t make out whether you’d best call ‘im a sucklin’ duck or a dummercyle. And as for bootmakin’–I only wish ‘e knowed nothing at all.”

So now Alfred is pushing a truck for an oilman in the Isle of Dogs at a shilling a day. But the oilman thinks him “kind of dormant,” and it is possible that he may be sent back to the school for a time. Next year he will be sixteen, and entitled to the privileges of a “pauper in his own right.”

Meanwhile little Lizzie is slowly getting her outfit ready for her departure also. A society of thoughtful and energetic ladies will spend much time and money in placing her out in service at L6 a year. And, as the pious lady said to herself when she wrote out a good character for her servant, God help the poor mistress who gets her!

But in all countries there is a constant demand of one kind or another for pretty girls, even for the foster-children of the State.



Mr. Clarkson, of the Education Office, was coming back from a Garden Suburb, where the conversation had turned upon Eugenics. Photographs of the most beautiful Greek statues had stood displayed along the overmantel; Walter Pater’s praise of the Parthenon frieze had been read; and a discussion had arisen upon the comparative merits of masculine and feminine beauty, during which Mr. Clarkson maintained a modest silence. He did, however, support the contention of his hostess that the human form was the most beautiful of created things, and he shared her regret that it is so seldom seen in London to full advantage. He also agreed with the general conclusion that, in the continuance of the race, quality was the first thing to be considered, and that the chief aim of civilisation should be to restore Hellenic beauty by selecting parentage for the future generation.

Meditating over the course of the discussion, and regretting, as he always did, that he had not played a distinguished part in it, Mr. Clarkson became conscious of a certain dissatisfaction. “Should not one question,” he asked himself, “the possibility of creating beauty by preconcerted design? Conscious and deliberate endeavours to manipulate the course of Nature often frustrate their own purpose, and the action of cultivated intelligence might conduce to a delicate peculiarity rather than a beauty widely diffused. Such a sense for form as pervaded Greece must spring, unconscious as a flower, from a passion for the beautiful implanted in the heart of the populace themselves.”

His motor-‘bus was passing through a region unknown to him–one of those regions where raw vegetables and meat, varied with crockery and old books, exuberate into booths and stalls along the pavement, and salesmen shout to the heedless passer-by prophetic warnings of opportunities eternally lost. Contemplating the scene with a sensitive loathing against which his better nature struggled in vain, Mr. Clarkson had his gaze suddenly arrested by a flaunting placard which announced:

TO-NIGHT AT 10.30!






“The very thing!” thought Mr. Clarkson, rapidly descending from his seat. “Sometimes one is almost compelled to believe in a Divinity that shapes our criticism of life.”

“Shillin’,” said the box-office man, when Mr. Clarkson asked for a stall. “Evenin’ dress hoptional” And Mr. Clarkson entered the vast theatre.

It was crammed throughout. Every seat was taken, and excited crowds of straw-hatted youths, elderly men, and sweltering women stood thick at the back of the pit and down the sides of the stalls. “‘Not here, O Apollo,'” quoted Mr. Clarkson sadly, as he squeezed on to the end of a seat beside a big man who had spread himself over two. “But still, even in the lower middle, beauty may have its place.”

“Warm,” said the big man conversationally.

“Unavoidably, with so fine an audience,” replied Mr. Clarkson, with his grateful smile for any sign of friendliness.

“Like it warm?” asked the big man, turning upon Mr. Clarkson, as though he had said he preferred babies scolloped.

“Well, I rather enjoy the sense of common humanity,” said Mr. Clarkson, apologising.

“Enjoy common humanity?” said the big man, mopping his head. “Can’t say I do. ‘Cos why, I was born perticler.”

For a moment Mr. Clarkson was tempted to claim a certain fastidiousness himself. But he refrained, and only remarked, “What _is_ a Beauty Show?”

The big man turned slowly to contemplate him again, and then, slowly turning back, regarded his empty pipe with sad attention.

“‘Ear that, Albert?” he whispered at last, leaning over to a smart little fellow in front, who was dressed in a sportsmanlike manner, and displayed a large brass horseshoe and hunting crop stuck sideways in his tie.

“The ignorance of the upper classes is somethink shockin’,” the sportsman replied, imitating Mr. Clarkson’s Oxford accent. Then turning back half an eye upon Mr. Clarkson, like a horse that watches its rider, he added, “You wait and see, old cock, same as the Honourable Asquith.”

“Isn’t the retort a trifle middle-aged?” suggested Mr. Clarkson, with friendly cheerfulness.

“Who’s that he’s callin’ middle-aged?” cried a girl, sharply facing round, and removing the sportsman’s arm from her waist.

“I only meant,” pleaded Mr. Clarkson, “that an obsolescent jest is, like middle-age, occasionally vapid, possessing neither the interest of antiquity nor the freshness of surprise.”

“Very well, then,” said the girl, flouncing back and seeking Albert’s arm again; “you just keep your tongue to yourself, same as me mine, or _I’ll_ surprise you!”

At that moment the rising curtain revealed a cinematograph scene, representing a bull-dog which stole a mutton chop, was at once pursued by a policeman and the village population, rushed down streets and round corners, leapt through a lawyer’s office, ran up the side of a house, followed by all his pursuers, and was finally discovered in a child’s cot, where the child, with one arm round his neck, was endeavouring to make him say grace before meat. The audience was profoundly moved. Cries of “Bless his ‘eart!” and “Good old Ogden!” rang through the house.

“Great!” said the big man.

“It illustrates,” replied Mr. Clarkson, “the popular sympathy with the fugitive, combined with the public’s love of vicarious piety.”

“Fine dog,” said the sportsmanly Albert.

“It was a clever touch,” Mr. Clarkson agreed, “to introduce so hideous a creature immediately before a Beauty Show. The strange thing is that the dog’s ugliness only enhanced the sympathetic affection of the audience. Yet beauty leads us by a single hair.”

“You wait before you start talkin’ about beauty or hair either!” said Albert.

The curtain then rose upon a long green-baize table placed at the back of the stage. Behind it were sitting eleven respectable and portly gentlemen in black coats. One in the centre, venerable for gold eye-glasses and grey side-whiskers, acted as chairman.

“Are those the beauties?” asked Mr. Clarkson ironically, recalling the Garden Suburb discussion as to the superiority of the masculine form.

“‘Ear that, Albert?” said the big man again. “Judges,” he added, in solemn pity.

“On what qualification are they selected as critics?” Mr. Clarkson asked.

“Give prizes,” said the big man.

“That qualifies them for Members of Parliament rather than judges of beauty,” said Mr. Clarkson, but he was shown that on the table before each judge stood a case of plated articles, a vase, a candlestick, or something, which he had contributed as a prize.

An authoritative person in a brown suit and a heavy watch-chain festooned across his waistcoat came forward and was greeted with applause, varied by shouts of “Bluebeard!” “Crippen!” and “Father Mormon!” In the brief gasps of silence he explained the rules of the competition, remarking that the entries were already unusually numerous, the standard of beauty exceptionally high and accordingly he called upon the audience by their applause or the reverse to give the judges every assistance in allotting as desirable a set of prizes as he had ever handled.

“The first prize,” he went on, “is a silver-plated coffee-set, presented by our ardent and lifelong supporter, Mr. Joseph Croke, proprietor of the celebrated grocery store, who now occupies the chair. The second prize is presented by our eminent butcher, Mr. James Collins, who considers his own stock unsuitable for the occasion, and has therefore substituted a turquoise necklace, equivalent in value to a prime sirloin. For third prize Mr. Watkins, the conspicuous hairdresser of the High Street, offers a full-sized plait of hair of the same colour as worn by the lady.”

“Thoughtful!” observed the big man approvingly.

“He could hardly give black hair to a yellow-haired woman,” Mr. Clarkson replied.

“I said thoughtful,” the big man repeated; “always thoughtful is Watkins, more especial towards females.”

“Besides these superb rewards,” the showman continued, “the rest of the judges present sixteen consolation prizes, and Mr. Crawley, the eminently respected provision-merchant round the corner, invites all competitors to supper at twelve o’clock to-night, without distinction of personal appearance.”

“Jolly good blow-out!” said Albert’s girl, with satisfaction.

“Rather a gross reward for beauty,” Mr. Clarkson observed.

“And why shouldn’t nice-lookin’ people have a good blow-out, same as you?” inquired the girl, with a flash of indignation. “They deserves it more, I ‘ope!”

“I entirely agree,” said Mr. Clarkson; “my remark was Victorian.”

A babel of yells, screams, and howlings greeted the appearance of the two first candidates. The Master of the Ceremonies led them forward, by the right and left hand. Pointing at one, he shouted her name, and a wild outburst of mingled applause and derision rent the air. Shouting again, he pointed at the other, and exactly the same turmoil of noise arose. Then he faced the girls round to the judges, and they instantly became conscious of the backs of their dresses, and put their hands up to feel if their blouses were hooked.

But the chairman, with responsible solemnity, having contemplated the girls through his eyeglasses, holding his head slightly on one side, briefly consulted the other judges, and signalled one girl to pass behind the table on his right, the other on his left. The one on his left was recognised as winner, and the house applauded with tumult, the supporters of the defeated yielding to success.

Before the applause had died, two more girls were led forward, and the storm of shouts and yells arose again. One of the candidates was dressed in pink, with a shiny black belt round her waist, a huge pink bow in her fluffy, light hair, and white stockings very visible. When the Master shouted her name, she cocked her head on one side, giggled, and writhed her shoulders. Cries of “Saucy!” “Mabel!” “Ain’t I a nice little girl?” and “There’s a little bit of all right!” saluted her, and the approval was beyond question. He pointed to the other, and a rage of execration burst forth, “O Ginger!” “Ain’t she got a cheek?” “Lock her up for the night!” “Oh, you giddy old thing!” were the chief cries that Mr. Clarkson could distinguish in the general howling. A band of youths behind him began singing, “Tell me the old, old story.” In the gallery they sang “Sit down, sit down,” to the tune of the Westminster chimes. Half the theatre joined in one song, half in the other, and the singing ended in cat-calls, whistles, and shrieks of mockery. The red-haired girl stood pale and motionless, her eyes fixed on some point of vacancy beyond the yelling crowd.

“Terribly painful position for a woman!” said Mr. Clarkson.

“Ill-advised,” said the big man, shaking his head; “very ill-advised.”

“Good lesson for her,” remarked Albert. “These shows teach the ugly ones to know their place. Improve the breed these shows do–same as ‘orse-racing.” And having shouted “Ginger!” again, he added, “Bandy!”

“Ain’t it wicked for a woman to have such an imperence?” cried Albert’s girl, joining in the yell as the candidate was marched off to the side of the losers.

“Isn’t this all a little personal?” Mr. Clarkson protested; “a trifle–what should I say?–Oriental, perhaps?”

“She don’t know how hidjus she is,” the big man explained. “No female don’t.”

“Nor no man neither, I should ‘ope!” said Albert’s girl, and wriggling out of the encircling arm, she suddenly sprang up, put her hat straight, and forced her way towards the stage.

“Now the fat’s on!” observed the big man, with a foreboding sigh.

“You may pull her ‘ead off,” Albert answered resignedly. “There ain’t no ‘oldin’ of her.”

“Dangerous, very dangerous!” whispered the big man to Mr. Clarkson. “A terror is Albert when she’s beat! Bloodshed frequent outside! She’s always beat–always starts, and always beat.”

“Celtic, I suppose,” Mr. Clarkson observed.

“Dangerous, very dangerous!” repeated the big man with a sigh.

And so, indeed, it proved. Pair after pair were led forward, and when the turn of Albert’s girl came, she won the heat easily. Then the process of selection among the forty or fifty of the first set of winners began, and she won the second heat. At last the competitors were reduced to six, and she stood on the right, in line with the others, while the showman pointed to each in turn, and called for the judgment of the audience. Then, indeed, passion rose to hurricane. Tumultuous storms of admiration and fury received each girl. Again and again each was presented, and the same seething chaos of sound ensued. The whole theatre stood howling together, waving hats and handkerchiefs, blowing horns and whistles, carried beyond all limits of reason by the rage for the beautiful.

Albert gathered his friends round him, conducted them like an orchestra, and made them yell, “The one on the right! The one on the right! We want the one on the right, or well never go home to-night!”

“Shout!” he screamed to Mr. Clarkson, who was contemplating the scene with his habitual interest.

“Certainly, I will, though the lady is not a Dreadnought,” Mr. Clarkson replied soothingly, and he began saying “Brava! Brava!” quite loud. Instantly, Albert’s opponents caught up the word, and echoed it in mockery, imitating his correct pronunciation. Mincing syllables of “Brava! Brava!” were heard on every side.

“You just let me catch you booin’ my girl!” shouted Albert, springing in frenzy upon the seat, and shaking his fist close to Mr. Clarkson’s eyes. “You let me catch you! Ever since you came in, you’ve been layin’ odds against my girl, you and your rotten talk!”

“On the contrary,” replied Mr. Clarkson, smiling, “even apart from aesthetic grounds, I should be delighted to see her victorious.”

“Then put up your dukes or take that on your silly jaw,” cried Albert, preparing to strike.

“The beautiful is always hard,” Mr. Clarkson observed, still smiling.

“Best come away with me, mister,” said the big man, pushing between them. “Avoid unpleasantness.”

“Race as good as over,” he added, as he forced Mr. Clarkson down the gangway. “Places: pink first, ‘cos she puts her ‘ead a’ one side; factory girl second, ‘cos they likes her bein’ dressed common; blue third, ‘cos of her openwork stockin’s; Albert’s girl nowhere, ‘cos she never is.”

They mounted one of the cars that are fed on the County Council’s lightning.

“Certainly a remarkable phase,” Mr. Clarkson observed, “although I concluded that, in regard to beauty, the voice of the people is not necessarily identical with the voice of God.”

“Coachman!” said the big man, calling down to the driver, and imitating the voice of a duchess. “Coachman! drive slowly twice round the Park, and then ‘ome.”



“No nasty shells here, Sire! No more screaming shells, and we are both alive!” said the jester, lying on the ground at his master’s feet.

It was in May 1909, and the large room was littered with bundles and various kinds of luggage. Several women, covered from head to foot in long cloaks and veils, lay about the floor or on the divans round the walls, hardly distinguishable from the bundles except that now and then they moaned or uttered some brief lamentation. From other parts of the house came sounds of hammering and the hurried swish of cleaning walls. From the long windows a deep and quiet harbour could be seen, and a few orange lights were beginning to glimmer from the quay and anchored boats. Across the purple of the water rose the blue mass of Olympus, its craggy edges sharp against the sunset sky, and over Olympus a filmy cloud was blown at intervals across the crescent moon.

“No more shells, Sire!” the jester kept repeating, and at the word “shells” the women groaned. But the man whom he addressed was silent. Since dawn he had said nothing.

“Last night no one thought we should be alive this evening, Sire,” said the jester. “We have gained a day of life. Who could have given us a finer present?”

The half-moon disappeared behind Olympus, and out of the gathering darkness in the chamber a voice was at last heard: “They have killed other Sultans,” it said. “They will kill me too.”

At the sound of the voice the women stirred and whispered. One cried, “I am hungry;” another said, “Water, O give me water!” but no one answered her.

“Death is coming,” the voice went on. “Every minute for thirty years I have escaped death, and to-night it will come. What is so terrible as death?”

“One thing is more terrible,” said the jester, “it is death’s brother, fear.”

“When death is quick, they say you feel nothing,” said the voice, “but they lie. The shock that stops life–the crash of the bullet into the brain, the stab of the long, cold dagger piercing the heart between the ribs, the slice of the axe through the neck, the stifling of breath when someone kicks away the stool and the noose runs tight–do you not feel that? To think of life ending! One moment I am alive, I am well, I can talk and eat; next moment life is going–going–and it is no use to struggle. Thought stops, breath stops, I can see and hear no more. One second, and I am nothing for ever.”

“Your Majesty is pleased to overlook Paradise,” said the jester.

“Let me live! Only let me live!” the voice continued. “I am not old. Many men have lived twenty or even thirty years longer than I have. They say when you are really old death comes like sleep. Nothing is so terrible as death. That is why I have shown myself merciful in my power. What other Sultan has kept his own brother alive for thirty years? Did I not give him a great palace to live in, and gardens where he could walk with few to watch his safety? Did I not send him every day delicate food from my own table? Did I not grant him such women as he desired, and books to read, and musicians to delight his soul? His were the joys of Paradise, and he was alive as well. He had life–the one thing needful, the one thing that can never be restored! And now my own brother turns against me. He will let them take my life. The shock of death will strike me down, and I shall be nothing any more.”

“Truly,” said the jester, “the joys of the Prophet’s Paradise are nothing to be compared with the blessedness of your Majesty’s happy reign. Yet men say that where there is life there is sorrow.”

“Have I not watched over my people? Have I not upheld the city against the enemy? Have I not toiled? What pleasure have I given myself? When have I been drunk with wine as the Infidels are drunken? What excess of delight have I taken with the women sent me as presents year by year? They dwelt in their beautiful chambers, and I saw them no more. I have neglected no duty to God or man. Week by week I risked my life to worship God. From dawn till evening I have laboured, taking no rest and seeking no pleasure, though the right to all pleasure was mine. Whatever passed in my Empire, I knew it. Whatever was whispered in secret, I heard. The breath of treason could not escape, me, and where treachery thrust out its head to look, my sword was ready.”

“Truly, Sire,” said the jester, “from the days of Midhat it was ready, and there are peacemakers more silent than the sword.”

“The Powers of the Infidel stood waiting. Like vultures round a dying sheep they stood waiting round the dominions of Islam. Here and there one snatched a living piece and devoured it as though it were carrion, while the others screamed with gluttonous fury and threatened with wings and claws.”

“Ah, Sire,” said the jester, “you have shown us how these Christians love one another!”

“One war,” the voice went on, “one war I have lost, but the enemy did not receive the fruits of victory. In one war I was victorious, and the Crescent would again be flying over Athens if the Infidel Powers had not barred the way. I have not lived without glory. From east to west the moon of Islam shines brighter now. The sons of Islam are gathering side by side. They stand again for the glory of the Prophet and his Khalif. I see the brown peoples of Asia, I see the black hordes from African deserts and forests. They pass quick messages. They pledge their faith on the Sacred Book. They issue out again to the conquest of the world, and it is I who have gathered the might of Islam into one hand. It is I who have swept away the princes, the ministers, the governors, and the agents who divided the power of Islam and squandered its riches. It is I who have stored up wealth for the great day when the sword of Islam shall again be drawn.”

“Forget not, Sire,” said the jester, “the names of Fehim and Izzet, who stood beside you and also stored up the wealth of Islam against the coming of that great day. If I could find where it is stored now, Islam would be more secure, and I less hungry.”

“I held the city of the world,” said the voice from the darkness: “I kept the breath of life moving throughout the Empire when all said it must perish. For thirty years my one brain outmatched the diplomacy of all the Embassies. Emperors have been proud the dominions of Islam. Here and there one snatched a living piece and devoured it as though it were carrion, while the others screamed with gluttonous fury and threatened with wings and claws.”

“Ah, Sire,” said the jester, “you have shown us how these Christians love one another!”

“One war,” the voice went on, “one war I have lost, but the enemy did not receive the fruits of victory. In one war I was victorious, and the Crescent would again be flying over Athens if the Infidel Powers had not barred the way. I have not lived without glory. From east to west the moon of Islam shines brighter now. The sons of Islam are gathering side by side. They stand again for the glory of the Prophet and his Khalif. I see the brown peoples of Asia, I see the black hordes from African deserts and forests. They pass quick messages. They pledge their faith on the Sacred Book. They issue out again to the conquest of the world, and it is I who have gathered the might of Islam into one hand. It is I who have swept away the princes, the ministers, the governors, and the agents who divided the power of Islam and squandered its riches. It is I who have stored up wealth for the great day when the sword of Islam shall again be drawn.”

“Forget not, Sire,” said the jester, “the names of Fehim and Izzet, who stood beside you and also stored up the wealth of Islam against the coming of that great day. If I could find where it is stored now, Islam would be more secure, and I less hungry.”

“I held the city of the world,” said the voice from the darkness: “I kept the breath of life moving throughout the Empire when all said it must perish. For thirty years my one brain outmatched the diplomacy of all the Embassies. Emperors have been proud to visit my palace. Kings have called me venerable. I have worshipped God, I have protected my people, and now I must die.”

“Ah, Sire,” said the jester, “even in your blessed reign men have died. Their life was sweet, but they managed to die, and what is so common can hardly be intolerable. People have even been murdered before, and if together with the women we should now be murdered in the dark–“

He was interrupted by the cries of the women. “We shall be murdered–murdered in the dark,” they moaned. “We knew how it would end! Death is the honour of a Sultan’s wives.”

A rifle-shot sounded from the street and, dark in the darkness, a form cowered back upon the divan, making the draperies shake.

“They are quick,” he gasped. “They are always so quick! They do not leave time for my plans. The sword of Islam is at work in Asia now. My orders were to slay and slay. They must be dead by now–thousands of them dead–thousands of cursed men and women–as many thousands as once made the quays so red–as many thousands as in the churches and villages long ago, or on the mountains of Monastir. Europe will not endure it. The Powers will intervene. They will save my life. They will come to set me free. They will give me back my power–my power and my life. I alone can govern this people. They know it. I am the only chance of peace. I have toiled without ceasing. I have never harmed a living soul. They themselves say I am merciful. It is no pleasure to me to have people killed. The Powers will come to save me. They will not let me die. Why are those rebels so quick? They do not give me time, and all my plans were ready! Far down in Asia the killing has begun. Why does not the telegraph speak? The Powers will intervene. They will not let me die.”

“Sire,” said the jester, “people are lighting lamps in the street. They are firing guns. They are crying ‘Long live the new Sultan!’ Your Majesty’s brother is proclaimed.”

“I am the Sultan,” cried the voice; “I am the Khalif, I am the successor of the Prophet. Tell them I am the successor of the Prophet! Tell them they dare not kill me!”

“Sire,” said the jester, “greatness shares the common fate. The will of the Eternal is above all monarchs.”

The firing of many rifles was heard in the street below. The door of the large chamber was flung wide, open, and a flood of yellow light revealed the piled up luggage, the muffled forms of women, and a dark little figure curled upon the divan, his head hidden in his arms.

“Oh, be merciful,” he cried. “Spare my life, only spare my life! What, would you kill a ruler like me? Would you kill an old, old man?”

“Your Highness,” said an officer in a quiet voice, “dinner is served.”



No doubt the Gods laughed when Macaulay went to India. Among the millions who breathed religion, and whose purpose in life was the contemplation of eternity, a man intruded himself who could not even meditate, and regarded all religion, outside the covers of the Bible, as a museum of superstitious relics. Into the midst of peoples of an immemorial age, which seemed to them as unworthy of reckoning as the beating wings of a parrot’s flight from one temple to the next, there came a man in whose head the dates of European history were arranged in faultless compartments, and to whom the past presented itself as a series of Ministerial crises, diversified by oratory and political songs. To Indians the word progress meant the passage of the soul through aeons of reincarnation towards a blissful absorption into the inconceivable void of indistinctive existence, as when at last a jar is broken and the space inside it returns to space. For Macaulay the word progress called up a bustling picture of mechanical inventions, an increasing output of manufactured goods, a larger demand for improving literature, and a growth of political clubs to promulgate the blessings of Reform. The Indian supposed success in life to lie in patiently following the labour and the observances of his fathers before him, dwelling in the same simple home, suppressing all earthly desire, and saving a little off the daily rice or the annual barter in the hope that, when the last furrow was driven, or the last brazen pot hammered out, there might still be time for the glory of pilgrimage and the sanctification of a holy river. To Macaulay, success in life was the going shop, the growing trade, a seat on the Treasury Bench, the applause of listening Senates, and the eligible residence of deserving age.

Thus equipped, he was instructed by the Reform Government which he worshipped, to mark out the lines for Indian education upon a basis of the wisdom common to East and West. Though others were dubious, he never hesitated. From childhood he had never ceased to praise the goodness and the grace that made the happy English child. As far as in him lay, he would extend that gracious advantage to the teeming populations of India. In spite of accidental differences of colour, due to climatic influences, they too should grow as happy English children, lisping of the poet’s mountain lamb, and hearing how Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old. They should advance to a knowledge of Party history from the Restoration down to the Reform Bill. The great masters of the progressive pamphlet, such as Milton and Burke, should be placed in their hands. Those who displayed scientific aptitude should be instructed in the miracle of the steam-engine, and economic minds should early acquaint themselves with the mysteries of commerce, upon which, as upon the Bible, the greatness of their conquerors was founded. Under such influence, the soul of India would be elevated from superstitious degradation, factories would supersede laborious handicrafts, artists, learning to paint like young Landseer, would perpetuate the appearance of the Viceregal party with their horses and dogs on the Calcutta racecourse, and it might be that in the course of years the estimable Whigs of India would return their own majority to a Front Bench in Government House.

It was an enviable vision–enviable in its imperturbable self-confidence. It no more occurred to Macaulay to question the benefaction of English education and the supremacy of England’s commerce and Constitution than it occurred to him to question the contemptible inferiority of the race among whom he was living, and for whom he mainly legislated. In his essay on Warren Hastings he wrote:

“A war of Bengalis against Englishmen was like a war of sheep against wolves, of men against demons…. Courage, independence, veracity, are qualities to which his constitution and his situation are equally unfavourable…. All those arts which are the natural defence of the weak are more familiar to this subtle race than to the Ionian of the time of Juvenal, or to the Jew of the Dark Ages. What the horns are to the buffalo, what the paw is to the tiger, what the sting is to the bee, what beauty, according to the old Greek song, is to woman, deceit is to the Bengali.”

And yet, impenetrable as Macaulay’s own ignorance of the Indian peoples remained, his Minute of 1835, “to promote English literature and science,” and to decree that “all funds appropriated for education should be employed in English education alone,” has marked in Indian history an era from which the present situation of the country dates.

It is true that the education has not gone far. The Government spends less than twopence per head upon it; less than a tenth of what it spends on the army. Only ten per cent. of the males in India can write or read; only seven per thousand of the females. But, thanks chiefly to Macaulay’s conviction that if everyone were like himself the world would be happy and glorious, there are now about a million Indians (or one in three hundred) who can to some extent communicate with each other in English as a common tongue, and there are some thousands who have become acquainted with the history of English liberties, and the writings of a few political thinkers. Together with railways, the new common language has increased the sense of unity; the study of our political thinkers has created the sense of freedom, and the knowledge of our history has shown how stern and prolonged a struggle may be required to win that possession which our thinkers have usually regarded as priceless. “The one great contribution of the West to the Indian Nationalist movement,” writes Mr. Ramsay Macdonald with emphasis, “is its theory of political liberty.”

It is a contribution of which we may well be proud–we of whom Wordsworth wrote that we must be free or die. Whatever the failures of unsympathetic self-esteem, Macaulay’s spirit could point to this contribution as sufficient counterbalance. From the works of such teachers as Mill, Cobbett, Bagehot, and Morley, the mind of India has for the first time derived the principles of free government. But of all its teachers, I suppose the greatest and most influential has been Burke. Since we wished to encourage the love of freedom and the knowledge of constitutional government, no choice could have been happier than that which placed the writings and speeches of Burke upon the curriculum of the five Indian universities. Fortunately for India, the value of Burke has been eloquently defined by Lord Morley, who has himself contributed more to the future constitutional freedom of India than any other Secretary of State. In one passage in his well-known volume on Burke, he has spoken of his “vigorous grasp of masses of compressed detail, his wide illumination from great principles of human experience, the strong and masculine feeling for the two great political ends of Justice and Freedom, his large and generous interpretation of expediency, the morality, the vision, the noble temper.” Writing of Burke’s three speeches on the American War, Lord Morley declares:

“It is no exaggeration to say that they compose the most perfect manual in our literature, or in any literature, for one who approaches the study of public affairs, whether for knowledge or for practice. They are an example without fault of all the qualities which the critic, whether a theorist or an actor, of great political situations should strive by night and day to possess.”

For political education, one could hardly go further than that. “The most perfect manual in any literature”–let us remember that decisive praise. Or if it be said that students require style rather than politics, let us recall what Lord Morley has written of Burke’s style:

“A magnificence and elevation of expression place him among the highest masters of literature, in one of its highest and most commanding senses.”

But it is frequently asserted that what Indian students require is, not political knowledge, or literary power, but a strengthening of character, an austerity both of language and life, such as might counteract the natural softness, effeminacy, and the tendency to deception which Macaulay and Lord Curzon so freely informed them of. For such strengthening and austerity, on Lord Morley’s showing, no teacher could be more serviceable than Burke:

“The reader is speedily conscious,” he writes, “of the precedence in Burke of the facts of morality and conduct, of the many interwoven affinities of human affection and historical relation, over the unreal necessities of mere abstract logic…. Besides thus diffusing a strong light over the awful tides of human circumstance, Burke has the sacred gift of inspiring men to use a grave diligence in caring for high things, and in making their lives at once rich and austere.”

Here are the considered judgments of a man who, by political experience, by literary power, and the study of conduct, has made himself an unquestioned judge in the affairs of State, in letters, and in morality. As examples of the justice of his eulogy let me quote a few sentences from those very speeches which Lord Morley thus extols–the speeches on the American War of Independence. Speaking on Conciliation with the Colonies in 1775, Burke said:

“Permit me to observe that the use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered…. Terror is not always the effect of force, and an armament is not a victory.”

Speaking of the resistance of a subject race to the predominant power, Burke ironically suggested:

“Perhaps a more smooth and accommodating spirit of freedom in them would be more acceptable to us. Perhaps ideas of liberty might be desired more reconcilable with an arbitrary and boundless authority. Perhaps we might wish the colonists to be persuaded that their liberty is more secure when held in trust for them by us (as their guardians during a perpetual minority) than with any part of it in their own hands.”

And, finally, speaking of self-taxation as the very basis of all our liberties, Burke exclaimed:

“They (British statesmen) took infinite pains to inculcate as a fundamental principle, that in all monarchies the people must in effect themselves, mediately or immediately, possess the power of granting their own money, or no shadow of liberty could subsist.”

It was the second of these noble passages that I once heard declaimed on the sea-beach at Madras to an Indian crowd by an Indian speaker, who, following the precepts of Lord Morley, then Secretary of State for India, had made Burke’s speeches his study by day and night. That phrase describing the ruling Power as the guardians of a subject race during a perpetual minority has stuck in my mind, and it recurred to me when I read that Burke’s writings and speeches had been removed from the University curriculum in India. Carlyle’s _Heroes_ and Cowper’s _Letters_ have been substituted–excellent books, the one giving the Indians in rather portentous language very dubious information about Odin, Luther, Rousseau, and other conspicuous people; the other telling them, with a slightly self-conscious simplicity, about a melancholy invalid’s neckcloths, hares, dog, and health. Such subjects are all very well, but where in them do we find the magnificence and elevation of expression, the sacred gift of inspiring men to make their lives at once rich and austere, and the other high qualities that Lord Morley found in “the most perfect manual in any literature”? Reflecting on this new decision of the Indian University Council, or whoever has taken on himself to cut Burke out of the curriculum, some of us may find two passages coming into the memory. One is a passage from those very speeches of Burke, where he said, “To prove that the Americans ought not to be free, we were obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself.” The other is Biglow’s familiar verse, beginning “I du believe in Freedom’s cause, Ez fur away ez Payris is,” and ending:

“It’s wal enough agin a king
To dror resolves an’ triggers,–
But libbaty’s a kind o’ thing
Thet don’t agree with niggers.”



If ever there was a nation which ought to have a fellow-feeling with subject races it is the inhabitants of England. I have heard of no land so frequently subjected, unless, perhaps, it were northern India. Long-headed builders of long tombs were subjected by round-headed builders of round tombs; and round-headed builders of tombs were subjected by builders of Stonehenge; for five hundred years the builders of Stonehenge were a subject race to Rome; Roman-British civilisation was subjected to barbarous Jutes and heavy Saxons; Britons, Jutes and Saxons became the subjects of Danes; Britons, Jutes, Saxons and Danes lay as one subject race at the feet of the Normans. As far as subjection goes, English history is like a house that Jack built:

“This is the Norman nobly born,
Who conquered the Dane that drank from a horn. Who harried the Saxon’s kine and corn,
Who banished the Roman all forlorn, Who tidied the Celt so tattered and torn,”

and so on, back to the prehistoric Jack who built the long house of the dead.

Our later subjections to the French, the Scots, the Dutch and the Germans, who have in turn ruled our courts and fattened on their favours, have not been so violent or so complete; but for some centuries they depressed our people with a sense of humiliation, and they have left their mark upon our national character and language. Indeed, our language is a synopsis of conquests, a stratification of subjections. We can hardly speak a sentence without recording a certain number of the subject races from which we have sprung. The only one ever left out is the British, and that survives in the names of our most beautiful rivers and mountains. It is true that all of our conquerors have come to stay–all with the one exception of Rome. We have never formed part of a distant and foreign empire except the Roman. Even our Norman invaders soon regarded our country as the centre of their power and not as a province. Nevertheless, nearly every strand of our interwoven ancestry has at one time or other suffered as a subject race, and perhaps from that source we derive the quality that Mark Twain perceived when at the Jubilee Procession of our Empire he observed, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Perhaps also for this reason we raise the Recessional prayer for a humble and contrite heart, lest we forget our history–lest we forget.

We pray in contrite humility to remember, but we have forgotten. In speaking of Finland’s loss of liberty, Madame Malmberg, the Finnish patriot, once said that in old days, when their liberties seemed secure, the Finns felt no sympathy with other nationalities–the Poles, the Georgians, or the Russians themselves–struggling to be free. They did not know what it was to be a subject race. They could not realise the degrading loss of nationality. They were soon to learn, and they know now. We have not learned. We have forgotten our lesson. That is why we remain so indifferent to the cry of freedom, and to the suppression of nationality all over the world.

Let us for a moment imagine that something terrible has happened; that our statesmen have at last got their addition sums in Dreadnoughts right, and have learned by hard experience that we have less than two to one and therefore are wiped from the seas; or that our august Russian ally, using Finland as a base, has established an immense naval port in the Norwegian fiords and thence poured the Tartar and Cossack hordes over our islands. Let us imagine anything that might leave some dominant Power supreme in London and reduce us for the sixth or seventh time to the position of a subject race. Where should we feel the difference most? Let us suppose that the conqueror retained our country as part of his empire, just as we have retained Ireland, India, Egypt, and the South-African Dutch republics; or as Russia has retained Poland, Georgia, Finland, the Baltic Provinces and Siberia, and is on the point of retaining Persia; or as Germany has retained Poland and Alsace-Lorraine; or as France has retained Tonquin and an enormous empire in north-west Africa and is on the point of retaining Morocco; or as Austria has retained Bohemia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and many other nationalities, and is constantly plotting to retain Albania. Let us only judge of what might happen to us by observing what is actually happening in other instances at this moment.

* * * * *

The dominant Power–let us call it Germany for short and merely as an illustration–would at once appoint its own subjects to all the high positions of State. England would be divided into four sections under German Governor-Generals and there would be German Governor-Generals in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Germans would be appointed as District Commissioners to collect revenue, try cases, and control the police. A Council of Germans, with a proportion of nominated British lords and squires, would legislate for each province, and perhaps, after a century or so, as a great concession a small franchise might be granted, with special advantages to Presbyterians, so as to keep religious differences alive, the German Governor-General retaining the right to reject any candidate and to veto all legislation. A German Viceroy, surrounded by a Council in which the majority was always German, and the chief offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Commander-in-Chief of the army, and so forth, were always filled by Germans, would hold a Court at Windsor or at Balmoral in summer and Buckingham Palace in winter. We should have to undertake the support of Lutheran Churches for the spiritual consolation of our rulers. We should be given a German Lord Mayor. German would be the official language of the country, though interpreters might be allowed in the law courts. Public examinations would be conducted in German, and all candidates for the highest civilian posts would have to go to Germany to be educated. The leading newspapers would be published in German and a strict censorship established over the _Times_ and other rebellious organs. The smallest criticism of the German Government would be prosecuted as sedition. English papers would be confiscated, English editors heavily fined or imprisoned, English politicians deported to the Orkneys without trial or cause shown. Writers on liberty, such as Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Burke, Mill, and Lord Morley would be prohibited. The works of even German authors like Schiller, Heine, and Karl Marx would be forbidden, and a pamphlet written by a German and founded on official evidence to prove the injustice and tortures to which the English people were exposed under the German system of police would be destroyed. On our railways English gentlemen and ladies would be expected to travel second or third class, or, if they travelled first, they would be exposed to the Teutonic insolence of the dominant race, and would probably be turned out by some German official. Public buildings would be erected in the German style. English manufacturers and all industries would be hampered by an elaborate system of excise which would flood our markets with German goods. Such art as England possesses would disappear. Arms would be prohibited. The common people, especially in Scotland and the North-West Provinces, would be encouraged to recruit in the native army under the command of German officers, and the Scottish regiments would maintain their proud tradition; but no British officer would be allowed to rise above the rank of sergeant-major. The Territorials would be disbanded. The Boy Scouts would be declared seditious associations. If a party of German officers went fox-shooting in Leicestershire, and the villagers resisted the slaughter of the sacred animal, some of the leading villagers would be hanged and others flogged during the execution. Our National Anthem would begin: “God save our German king! Long live our foreign king!” The singing of “Rule, Britannia,” would be regarded as a seditious act.

I am not saying that so complete a subjection of England is possible. We may believe that in a powerful, wealthy, proud, and highly civilised country like ours it would not be possible. All I say is that, if we assume it possible, something like that would be our condition if we were treated by the dominant Power as we ourselves are treating other races which were powerful, wealthy, proud and, in their own estimation, highly civilised when we invaded or otherwise obtained the mastery over them. I am only trying to suggest to ourselves the mood and feelings of a subject race–the humble and contrite heart for which we pray as God’s ancient sacrifice. If we wish to be done by as we do, these are some incidents in the government we should wish to lie under when we were reduced beneath a dominant Power, as India and Egypt are reduced beneath ourselves. I have not taken the worst instances of the treatment of subject races I could find. I have not spoken of the old methods of partial or complete extermination whether in Roman Europe or Spanish and British Americas; nor have I spoken of the partial or complete enslavement of subject races in the Dutch, British, Portuguese, Belgian, and French regions of Africa. I have not dwelt upon the hideous scenes of massacre, torture, devastation and lust which I have myself witnessed in Macedonia under the Turks, and in the Caucasus, the Baltic Provinces, and Poland under Russia when subject races attempted some poor effort to regain their freedom. I have not even mentioned the old ruin and slaughter of Ireland, or the latest murder of a nation in Finland or in Persia. I have taken my comparison from the government of subject races at what is probably its very best; at all events, at what the English people regard as its best–the administration of India and Egypt–and we have no reason to suppose that Germany would administer England better if we were a subject race under the German Empire.

* * * * *

If Germany did as well she would have something to say for herself. She might lay stress on the great material advantages she would bestow on this country. Such industries as she left us she would reorganise on the Kartel system. She would much improve our railways by unifying them as a State property, so that even our South-Eastern trains might arrive in time. She would overhaul our education, ending the long wrangle between religious sects by abolishing all distinctions. She would erect an entirely new standard of knowledge, especially in natural science, chemistry, and book-keeping. She would institute special classes for prospective chauffeurs and commercial travellers. She would abolish Eton, Harrow, and the other public schools, together with the college buildings of Oxford and Cambridge, converting them all into barracks, while the students would find their own lodgings in the towns and stand on far greater equality in regard to wealth. German is not a very beautiful language, but it has a literature, and we should have the advantage of speaking German and learning something of German literature and history. Great improvements would be introduced in sanitation, town-planning, and municipal government, and we should all learn to eat black bread, which is much more wholesome than white.

In a large part of the country peasant proprietors would be established, and the peasants as a whole would be far better protected against the exactions and petty tyranny of the landlords than they are at present. Under the pressure of external rule, all the troublesome divisions and small animosities between English, Scots, Irish, and Welsh would tend to disappear, though the Germans might show special favour to the Scots and Presbyterians generally on the principle of “Divide and Rule,” just as we show special favour to the Mohammedans of India. We should, of course, be compelled to contribute to the defence of the Empire, and should pay the expenses of the large German garrisons quartered in our midst and of the German cruisers that patrolled our shores. But as we should have no fleet of our own to maintain, and in case of foreign aggression could draw upon the vast resources of the German Empire, our taxation for defence would probably be considerably reduced from its present figure of something over seventy millions a year.

That, I think, is an impartial statement of the reasons which some dominant Power, such as Germany, might fairly advance in defence of her rule if we were included in a foreign Empire. At all events, they very closely resemble the reasons we put forward to glorify the services of our Empire to India and Egypt. I suppose also that the Fabians among ourselves would support the foreign domination, just as their leaders supported the overthrow of the Boer republics, on the ground that larger states bring the Fabian–the very Fabian–revolution nearer. And, perhaps, the Social Democrats would support it by an extension of their theory that the social millennium can best arrive out of a condition of general enslavement. The Cosmopolitans would support it as tending to obliterate the old-fashioned distinctions of nationality that impede the unity of mankind, while a host of German pedants and poets would pour out libraries in praise of the Anglo-Teutonic races united at last in irresistible brotherhood and standing ready to take up the Teuton’s burden imposed upon the Blood by the special ordinance of the Lord.

The parallel is false, some may say; the conditions are not the same; in spite of all material and educational advantages, we in England would never endure such subjection; we should live in a state of perpetual rebellion; our troops would mutiny; much as we all detest assassination, the lives of our foreign Governors would hardly be secure. I agree. I hope there is implanted in all of us such a hatred of subjection that we should conspire to die rather than endure it. I only wish to suggest the mood of a subject race, under the best actual conditions of subjection–to suggest that other peoples may possibly feel an equal hatred toward foreign domination–and to supply in ourselves something of that imaginative sympathy which Madame Malmberg tells us the Finns only learned after their own freedom had been overthrown.

We feel at once that something far more valuable than all the material, or even moral, advantages which a dominant Power might give us would be involved in the overthrow of our independent nationality. That something is nationality itself. But what is nationality? Like the camel in the familiar saying, it is difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. Or, as St. Augustine said of Time, “I know what it is when you don’t ask me.” Nationality implies a stock or race, an inborn temperament, with certain instincts and capacities. It is the slow production of forgotten movements and obscure endeavours that cannot be repeated or restored. It is sanctified by the long struggles of growth, and by the affection that has gathered round its history. If nationality has kindled and maintained the light of freedom, it is illuminated by a glory that transforms mountain poverty into splendour. If it has endured tyranny, its people are welded together by a common suffering and a common indignation. At the lowest, the people of the same nationality have their customs, their religion, generally their language–that most intimate bond–and always the familiar outward scenes of earth and water, hill and plain and sky, breathing with memories. Nationality enters into the soul of each man or woman who possesses it. Mr. Chesterton has well described it as a sacrament. It is a silent oath, an invisible mark. Life receives from it a particular colour. It is felt as an influence in action and in emotion, almost in every thought. In freedom it sustains conduct with a proud assurance of community and reputation. Under oppression, it may fuse all the pleasant uses of existence into one consuming impulse of fanatical devotion. It has inspired the noblest literature and all the finest forms of art, and chiefly in countries where the flame of nationality burned strong and clear has the human mind achieved its greatest miracles of beauty, thought, and invention.

Nationality possesses that demonic and incalculable quality from which almost anything may be expected in the way of marvel, just as certain spiky plants that have not varied winter or summer for years in their habitual unattractiveness will suddenly shoot up a ten-foot spire of radiant blossom abounding in honey. Partly by nationality has the human race been preserved from the dreariness of ant-like uniformity and has retained the power of variation which appears to be essential for the highest development of life. With what pleasure, during our travels, we discover the evidences of nationality even in such things as dress, ornaments, food, songs, and dancing; still more in thought, speech, proverbs, literature, music, and the higher arts! With what regret we see those characteristics swept away by the advancing tide of dominant monotony and Imperial dullness! The loss may seem trivial compared with the loss of personal or political freedom, but it is not trivial. It is a symptom of spiritual ruin. How deep a degradation of intellect and personality is shown by the introduction of English music-hall songs among a highly poetic people like the Irish, or by the vulgar corruption of India’s superb manufactures and forms of art under the blight of British commerce! You know the Persian carpets, of what magical beauty they are in design and colour. When I was on the borders of Persia in 1907 the Persian carpet merchants were selling one kind of carpet with a huge red lion being shot by a sportsman in the middle of it to please the English, and another kind decorated with a Parisian lady in a motor to please the Russians. From those carpets one may realise what the English Government’s acquiescence in the subjection of Persia really involves.

No subject race can entirely escape this degradation. No matter how good the government may be or how protective, all forms of subjection involve a certain loss of manhood. Under an alien Power the nature of the subject nationality becomes soft and dependent. Instead of working out its own salvation, it looks to the government for direction or assistance in every difficulty. Atrophy destroys its power of action. It loses the political sense and grows incapable of self-help or self-reliance. The stronger faculties, if not extinguished, become mutilated. In Ireland, even to-day, we see the result of domination in the continued belief that the British Government which has brought the country to ruin possesses the sole power of restoring it to prosperity. In India we see a people so enervated by alien and paternal government that they have hardly the courage or energy to take up such small responsibilities in local government as may be granted them. This is what a true Liberal statesman, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, meant by his wise saying that self-government is better than good government. And it might be further illustrated by the present condition of the largest subject race in the world–the race of women–to whom all the protective legislation and boasted chivalry and lap-dog petting, fondly supposed to be lavished upon them by men, are not to be compared in personal value with just the small right to a voice in the management of their own and national affairs.

Such mutilation of character is the penalty of subjection at its best. At its worst the subject race pays the penalty in tormenting rancour, undying hatred, and the savage indignation that tears the heart. It may be said that indignation is at all events better than loss of manhood, and again I agree. Where there is despotism it may well be that for this reason a cruel despotism is less harmful than a paternal despotism–less harmful, I mean, to the individual soul, which is the only thing that counts. But the soul that is choked by hatred and torn by indignation is not at its best. Its functions go wrong, its sight is distorted, its judgment perturbed, its sweetness poisoned, its laughter killed. The whole being suffers and is changed. For a time it may blaze with a fierce, a magnificent intensity. But we talk of a “consuming rage,” and the phrase is terribly true. Rage is a consuming fire, always a glorious fire, a wild beacon in the night of darkness, but it consumes to ashes the nature that is its fuel.

Loss of manhood or perpetual rancour–those are the penalties imposed on the soul of a subject race. Nor does the dominant race escape scot free. Far from it. On the whole, it suffers a deeper degradation. A dominant race, like a domineering person, is always disagreeable and always a bore, and the nearer it is to the scene of domination the more disagreeable and wearisome it becomes, just as a tyrannical man is worst at home. I have known English people start as quiet, pleasing, modest, and amiable passengers in a P. & O. from Marseilles, but become less endurable every twenty-four hours of the fortnight to Bombay. There are noble and conspicuous exceptions alike in the army, the Indian Civil Service, and among the officials scattered over the Empire. But, as a rule, we may say that the worst characteristics not only of our own but of all dominant races, such as the French, Germans, and Russians, are displayed among their subject peoples. If, indeed, the subjects are on a level with spaniels that can be beaten or patted alternately and retain a constant affection and respect, the English son of squires thoroughly enjoys his position and does the beating and patting well. But it is always with a certain loss of humour and common humanity: it brings a kind of stiffness and pedantry such as Charles Lamb complained of in the old-fashioned type of schoolmaster. It exaggerates a sense of Heaven-born superiority which the English squire has no need to exaggerate.

I am not one of those who set out to “crab” their countrymen. We have lately had so much criticism and contempt poured upon us by more intelligent people like the Irish, the Germans, and an ex-President of the United States that sometimes I have been driven to wonder whether we may not somewhere possess some element worthy of respect. But, keeping the lash in our own discriminating hands, we should all perhaps confess that in regard to other people’s feelings and ideas we are rather insensitive as a nation. This form of unimaginative obtuseness undoubtedly increased during the extension of our grip upon subject races between the overthrow of Gladstone’s first Home Rule Bill and the end of the Boer War. Perhaps those fifteen years were the most entirely vulgar period of our history, and vulgarity springs from an insensitive condition of mind. It will be a terrible recompense if the price of our world-wide Empire is an Imperial vulgarity upon which the sun never sets.

There is another danger, not so subtle and pervading, but more likely to escape the notice of people who are not themselves acquainted with the frontiers of Empire. It is the production and encouragement of a set of scoundrels and wasters who trade upon our country’s prestige to rob, harry, and even enslave the members of a subject race while they pose as pioneers of Empire and are held up by sentimental travellers, like Mr. Roosevelt, as examples of toughness and courage to the victims of monotonous toil who live at home at ease. There is no call either for Mr. Roosevelt’s pity or admiration. I have known those wasters well, and have studied all their tricks for turning a dirty half-crown. They enjoy more pleasure and greater ease in a day than any London shop assistant or bank clerk in a month. They take up the white man’s burden and find it light, because it is the black man who carries it. Of all the impostors that nestle under our flag, I have found none more contented with their lot or more harmful to our national repute than the “toughs” who devour our subject races and stand in photographic attitudes for Mr. Kipling to slobber over. These scoundrels and wasters are a far worse evil than most people think, for they erect a false ideal which easily corrupts youth with its attraction, and they furnish ready instruments for land-grabbers and company directors, as is too often seen in their onslaughts upon Zulus, Basutos, and other half-savage peoples whom they desire to exterminate or enslave. They are a singularly poisonous by-product of Empire, all the more poisonous for their brag; and though they belong to the class whom their relations gladly contribute to emigrate, they are far worse employed in debauching and plundering our so-called fellow-subjects in Africa than they would be in the public-houses, gambling-dens, pigeon-shooting enclosures, workhouses, and jails of their native land. Of course, it is very useful to have dumping-grounds for our wasters, and it is pleasant to reflect upon the seven thousand miles of sea between one’s self and one’s worthless nephew, but a dumping-ground for nepotism can scarcely be considered the noblest aim of conquest.

Why is it, then, that one nation desires to subjugate another at all? Sometimes the object has simply been space–the pressure of population upon the extent of ground. Pastoral and nomad hordes, like the “Barbarians” and Tartars, have had that object, but, as a rule, it has ended in their own absorption. The motives of the Roman Empire were strangely mixed. Plunder certainly came in; trade came in; in later times the slave-trade and the supply of corn to Rome were great incentives. The personal advantage and ambition of prominent statesmen like Sulla or Caesar were among the aims of many conquests. The extension of religion had little to do with it, for the Romans had the decency to keep their gods to themselves and never slaughtered in the name of Jove. But they were compelled to Empire by a peculiar conviction of destiny. They did not destroy or subdue other peoples so much for glory as from a sense of duty. It was their Heaven-sent mission to rule. Their poet advised other nations to occupy themselves with wisdom, learning, statuary, the arts, or what other trivialities they pleased; it was the Roman’s task to hold the world in sway. To the Roman the object of Empire was Empire. It seemed to him the natural thing to conquer every other nation, making the world one Rome. That was, in fact, his true religion, and we can but congratulate him on the unshaken faith of his self-esteem. The Turk, on the other hand, who was the next Imperial race, boasted no city and no self-conscious superiority of laws or race. He subdued the nations only in the name of God, and to all who accepted God he nobly extended the vision of Paradise and a complete equality of earthly squalor. The motives of mediaeval and more recent conquests were the strangest of all. They were usually dynastic. They depended on the family claim of some family man to a title implying actual possession of another country and all its population. There was always one claimant contending against another claimant, this heir against that heir, as though the destinies of nationality could be settled by a strip of parchment or a love-affair with a princess. People grew so accustomed to this folly that even now we hardly realise its absurdity. Yet I suppose if the King of Spain left his kingdom by will to his well-beloved cousin George of England, not an English wherry would stir to take possession, and our newspapers would merely remark that there was always a strain of insanity in the Spanish branch of the Bourbons. Two hundred years ago such a will would have produced a prolonged and devastating war. Something is gained. We have eliminated royal dynasties from the motives of conquest.

In the extension and maintenance of our own Empire all previous motives have been combined. We have pleaded want of space; we have sought slaves either for export or for local labour; we have sought plunder and also trade or “markets”; we have sought dumping-grounds for our wasters, and careers for our public school-boys; like the Turks and Spaniards, we have sought to promote the knowledge of God by the slaughter and enslavement of His creatures; like the Romans, we have thought it our manifest duty to paint the world red and rule it. But within the last sixty or seventy years we have added the further motive most aptly expressed by the late King Leopold of Belgium in the document by which he obtained his rights over the Congo: I mean “the moral and material amelioration” of the subject peoples. That was a motive unknown to the ancients, though the Romans came near it when they granted equal citizenship to all provincials–a measure far in advance of any concession of ours. And it was unknown to the Middle Ages, though Turks and Spaniards came near it when they destroyed the infidels for their good and opened heaven to converted slaves and corpses. To subjugate a nationality for its own moral and material advantage is something almost new in history. It sounds the true modern note. That is not a pleasant note, but it is a sign of change, an evidence of hope. In the Boer War our real objects were to paint the country red on the maps and to exploit the gold-mines. But some people said we were fighting for equal rights; some said it was to insure good treatment for the natives; some thought we were Christianising the Boers; one man told me “the Boers wanted washing.” Those excuses may have been false and hypocritical, but, at all events, they were tributes to virtue. They were a recognition that the old motives of Empire no longer sufficed. They exposed the hypocrites themselves to the retort of serious and innocent people: “Very well, then. If these were your motives, give equal rights, protect the natives, Christianise the Boers, wash them if you can.” It is a retort against which hypocrisy cannot long stand out. It proves that a new standard of judgment is slowly forming in the world. But for this new standard, where would be the Congo agitation, or the movement against the Portuguese cocoa slavery, or such sympathy as exists with the Nationalists of India, Egypt, and Persia? When the doctrines of equal rights or even of moral and material amelioration are assumed, honesty will at last raise her protest and hypocrites be no longer allowed to reap the harvest of a quiet lie.

It is an advance. As history counts time it is a rapid advance. Now that Russia is reducing Finland to a state of entire subjection without even a pretext of right or the shadow of a pretence at improved civilisation, a general feeling of shame and loss pervades Europe. The governments do not move, but here and there the peoples raise a protest. Not even the most thorough-going champions of Imperialism, such as the _Times_, have ventured to defend the action. They have contented themselves with Cain’s excuse that the murder was no affair of ours. A century and a half ago they would not have needed an excuse. No protest would have been raised, for it did not matter what nationality was enslaved. There is an advance, and we have now to extend it. In regard to races already subject, we have but to act up to the pleadings of our own hypocrisy; we have to maintain among them equal justice, equal rights and equal consideration as members of one great community, instead of depriving them of their manhood and kicking them out of their own railway carriages. We have to train them on the way to self-government, instead of clapping them into prison if they mention the subject.

And in regard to nationalities that still retain their freedom, we must bring our governments up into line with the leading thought of the day. We must show them that the destruction of a free people like Finland or Persia is not a local or distant disaster only, but affects the whole community of nations and spreads like a poison, blighting the growth of freedom in every land and encouraging all the black forces of tyranny, darkness, and suppression. Rapidly growing among us, there is already a certain solidarity between free States, and the problem of the immediate future is how to make their common action effective on the side of liberty. When I saw Tolstoy during the Russian revolution of 1905 he said to me:

“The present movement in Russia is not a riot; it is not even a revolution; it is the end of an age. The age that is ending is the age of Empires–the collection of smaller States under one large State. There is no true community of heart or thought between Russia, Finland, Poland, the Caucasus and all our other States and races. And what has Hungary, Bohemia, Syria, or the Tyrol to do with Austria? No more than Canada, Australia, India, or Ireland has to do with England. People are now beginning to see the absurdity of these things, and in the end people are reasonable. That is why the age of Empires is passing away.”

It was a bold prophecy, but it contains the root of the whole matter. Only where there is community of heart and thought is national or personal life possible in any worthy sense. Unless that community exists between the various nationalities within an Empire, we may be sure the Empire is moribund. It is dying, as Napoleon said, of indigestion, and that other community of the world which is slowly taking shape among free and reasonable peoples will demand its dissolution. Our hope is that the other community will further proceed to demand that these disastrous experiments in the overthrow and subjection of free nationalities shall no longer be tolerated by the combined forces of liberty.



One night Mr. Clarkson, of the Education Office, was rather late in leaving the Savile Club. He always makes a point of selecting the best articles in the _Nineteenth Century_, the _Fortnightly_, and the _Contemporary_ on the first Monday of every month, and, owing to a suspension of political activity in the House of Commons, he had lately spent more time than usual over the daily papers as well, since they could now afford greater space for subjects of interest. He noticed with some regret that it was half-past eleven as he came up Piccadilly and admired, as he never failed to admire, that urbane aspect of nature’s charm presented by the Green Park.

It was late, but the evening was cool and dry. He wished to follow up a train of thought suggested by the question: “Should Aristotle be left out?” but, to preserve his mind from exclusiveness, he now and then considered it advantageous to plunge into what he called the full tide of humanity at Charing Cross. So that night, instead of making his way by the shortest route to his rooms in Westminster, he strolled, with a pleasurable sense of sympathetic abandonment, through the usual crowds that were hurrying home from theatres or supper-room.

But he soon perceived that all the crowds were not usual. Some were not hurrying; they were stationary. They were nearly all men, unrelieved by that subdued feminine radiance which Mr. Clarkson so much valued in the colour scheme of London. They were mainly silent. They appeared to be waiting for something.

“Is the King returning from the Opera?” he asked a policeman near King Charles’s statue. But the policeman regarded him with a silent pity so profound that he suddenly remembered a King’s recent death and the mourning in which the country was still partially immersed. No, it could not be royalty, and, feeling for the first time like a stranger in the centre of existence, Mr. Clarkson hurriedly crossed the road.

Between the top of Northumberland Avenue and Charing Cross Station he observed another crowd of the same character, but in thicker numbers still. Unwilling to eschew any emotion that thus stirred his fellow citizens, he approached the outskirts and waited, in hopes of gathering information without further inquiry. But the crowd was doggedly silent. Nearly all were reading the evening papers, and the few snatches of conversation that Mr. Clarkson caught appeared to be meaningless. At last he ventured to accost a harmless-looking, pale-faced youth in a straw hat, who was reading the latest _Star_, and asked him what he was waiting for.

The youth looked him up and down from head to foot, and then slowly uttered the words: “I don’t think!”

“I’m so very sorry for that,” said Mr. Clarkson, a little irritated, but, as he turned hastily away he reflected with a smile that, after all, one should be grateful to find imbecility so frankly acknowledged.

Next time he was more diplomatic. Standing quietly for a while beside a good-tempered-looking man, who was evidently an out-of-work cab-driver, he yawned two or three times, and said at last: “How long shall we have to wait, do you think?”

“Depends on cable,” said the cab-driver. “Got a bit on?”

“Well, no; I haven’t exactly got anything on,” said Mr. Clarkson, uneasily; “but may I ask what cable you mean?”

“Don’t be silly,” said the cabman, and spat between his feet.

“Cheer up, long-face!” said another man, who had been listening. “He only means the cable from the States. Perhaps you’ve never heard of the White Man’s Hope?”

Light at last broke upon Mr. Clarkson. “Of course,” he said, “it’s Independence Day! I’ve seen the American flag flying from several buildings. It has always appeared a most remarkable thing to me that we English people should thus ungrudgingly accept the celebration of our most disastrous national defeat. Such entire disappearance of racial animosity is, indeed, full of future promise. I suppose, if you liked, you might without exaggeration call it the White Man’s Hope?”

“Stow it,” said the cabman.

“No doubt the day is being marked in the United States by some special event,” Mr. Clarkson continued, “and you are waiting for the account?”

No one answered. An American was reading aloud from a newspaper: “If the Imperturbable Colossus gets knocked out, a general assault upon all negroes throughout the States may be expected to ensue. The wail that goes up from Reno will be re-echoed from every land where the black problem sits like a nightmare on the chest. It is not too much to say that a new chapter in the world’s history will open before our astonished eyes, so adequately is the gigantic struggle between the black and white races prefigured in the persons of their chosen champions.”

All listened with attention.

“That’s what I call thickened truth,” said the American, looking solemnly round. “If that coloured gentleman with a yellow streak worries our battle-hardened veteran and undefeated hero of all time, the negro will grow scarce.”

“They’ve been praying for Jeffries in all the American churches,” said one, in the solemn pause that followed this announcement.

“So they have for Johnson in the negro churches,” said another, “but he counts most on his mother’s prayers. She lives in Chicago.”

“It is peculiar in modern and Christianised countries,” said Mr. Clarkson, anxious to show that he now fully understood the point at issue; “it is peculiar that the opposing parties in a war or other contest implore with equal confidence the assistance of the same deity.”

“Millionaires is sleeping three in a bed at Reno. There’s a thing!” said the man who was most anxious to impart information.

“The gate comes to L50,000, let alone the pictures,” said another. “Each of them’s going to get L500 a minute for the time they fight.”

“Beats taxis,” said the cabman.

“It’s hardly fair to criticise the amount,” Mr. Clarkson expostulated pleasantly; “the L500 represents prolonged training and practice in the art. As Whistler said, the payment is not for a day’s work, but for a lifetime.”

“Who are you calling the Whistler?” asked the cabman; “Jim Corbett, or John Sullivan?”

“Jeffries ate five lamb chops to his breakfast this morning,” said the man of information, “and Johnson ate a chicken.”

“Wish I’d eat both,” said the cabman.

“What do you think of the upper-cut?” said the other, turning to Mr. Clarkson to escape the cabman’s frivolity.

“Well, I suppose it’s a matter of taste–upper-cut or under-cut,” Mr. Clarkson answered, smiling at his seriousness. “Most people, I think, prefer under-cut.”

“Johnson’s right upper-cut is described as the piston of an ocean greyhound making twenty-seven knots,” said the man, taking no notice of the answer, and speaking in awestruck tones. “Do you know, one paper describes Johnson as the best piece of fighting machinery the world has ever seen!”

“I thought that was the last _Dreadnought_?” said Mr. Clarkson.

“Perhaps you don’t study the literature of the Ring,” the other answered, with cold superiority.

“Oh, indeed I do!” cried Mr. Clarkson eagerly. “It is rather remarkable what a fascination the art of boxing has frequently exercised upon the masters of literature. Even the Greeks, in spite of their artistic reverence for the human body, practised boxing with extreme severity, and on their statues, you know, we sometimes find a recognised distortion which they called ‘the boxer’s ear.’ It seems to show that they hit round rather than straight from the shoulder. The ancient boxing-gloves were intended, not to diminish, but to increase the severity of the blow, being made of seven or eight strands of cow-hide, heavily weighted with iron and lead. There is that fine description of a prize-fight in Virgil, where the veteran–‘the imperturbable colossus’ of his time, I suppose we may call him–almost knocks the life out of the younger man, and sends him from the contest swinging his head to and fro, and spitting out teeth mingled with blood–rather a horrible picture!”

“Ten to six on the boiler-maker,” said the cabman; “I’ll take ten to six.”

“And then, of course,” Mr. Clarkson continued, “in recent times there are splendid accounts of the fights in _Lavengro_ and Meredith’s _Amazing Marriage_, and Browning once refers to the Tipton Slasher, and we all know Conan Doyle.”

“No, we don’t,” said the cabman.

“It seems rather hard to explain the attraction of prize-fighting,” Mr. Clarkson went on, meditatively; “perhaps it comes simply from the dramatic element of battle. It is a war in brief, a concentrated militancy. Or perhaps it is the more barbaric delight in vicarious pain and endurance; and I think sometimes we ought to include the pleasure of our race in fair play and the just and equal rigour of the game.”

What other reasons Mr. Clarkson might have found were lost in the yelling of newsboys tearing down the Strand. Too excited to speak, the crowd engulfed them. The papers were torn from their hands. Short cries, short sentences followed. Here and there Mr. Clarkson caught an intelligible word: “Revolvers taken at gate”; “Expected Johnson would be shot if victorious”; “Opening spar almost academic in its calmness”; “Old wound on Jeffries’s right eye opened”; “Both cheeks gashed to the bone”; “Jack handed out some wicked lefts”; “Terrible gruelling”; “Both shutters out of working order”; “Defeat certain after eighth round”; “Johnson hooked his left”; “The Circassian remained on his knees”; “Counting went on”; “Fatal ten was reached.”

The crowd gasped. Then it shouted, it swore, it broke up swearing.

“Negroes had best crawl underground to-night,” said the American; “it ain’t good for negroes when their heads grow through their hair.”

“Another proof,” sighed Mr. Clarkson, “another proof that, on Roosevelt’s principle, the United States are unfit for self-government.”

When he reached his rooms it was nearly one, but a door opened softly on the top floor, and the landlady’s little boy looked over the banisters and asked: “Please, sir, did Jim win, sir?”

“Let me see,” said Mr. Clarkson, “which was Jim?”