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Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy

Part 4 out of 5

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many private hands, and buying and selling was necessary to
secure what one wanted. It was, however, open to the obvious
objection of substituting for food, clothing, and other things a
merely conventional representative of them. The confusion of
mind which this favored, between goods and their representative,
led the way to the credit system and its prodigious illusions.
Already accustomed to accept money for commodities, the
people next accepted promises for money, and ceased to look at
all behind the representative for the thing represented. Money
was a sign of real commodities, but credit was but the sign of a
sign. There was a natural limit to gold and silver, that is, money
proper, but none to credit, and the result was that the volume of
credit, that is, the promises of money, ceased to bear any
ascertainable proportion to the money, still less to the commodities,
actually in existence. Under such a system, frequent and
periodical crises were necessitated by a law as absolute as that
which brings to the ground a structure overhanging its centre of
gravity. It was one of your fictions that the government and the
banks authorized by it alone issued money; but everybody who
gave a dollar's credit issued money to that extent, which was as
good as any to swell the circulation till the next crises. The great
extension of the credit system was a characteristic of the latter
part of the nineteenth century, and accounts largely for the
almost incessant business crises which marked that period.
Perilous as credit was, you could not dispense with its use, for,
lacking any national or other public organization of the capital
of the country, it was the only means you had for concentrating
and directing it upon industrial enterprises. It was in this way a
most potent means for exaggerating the chief peril of the private
enterprise system of industry by enabling particular industries to
absorb disproportionate amounts of the disposable capital of the
country, and thus prepare disaster. Business enterprises were
always vastly in debt for advances of credit, both to one another
and to the banks and capitalists, and the prompt withdrawal of
this credit at the first sign of a crisis was generally the precipitating
cause of it.

"It was the misfortune of your contemporaries that they had
to cement their business fabric with a material which an
accident might at any moment turn into an explosive. They were
in the plight of a man building a house with dynamite for
mortar, for credit can be compared with nothing else.

"If you would see how needless were these convulsions of
business which I have been speaking of, and how entirely they
resulted from leaving industry to private and unorganized management,
just consider the working of our system. Overproduction
in special lines, which was the great hobgoblin of your day,
is impossible now, for by the connection between distribution
and production supply is geared to demand like an engine to the
governor which regulates its speed. Even suppose by an error of
judgment an excessive production of some commodity. The
consequent slackening or cessation of production in that line
throws nobody out of employment. The suspended workers are
at once found occupation in some other department of the vast
workshop and lose only the time spent in changing, while, as for
the glut, the business of the nation is large enough to carry any
amount of product manufactured in excess of demand till the
latter overtakes it. In such a case of over-production, as I have
supposed, there is not with us, as with you, any complex
machinery to get out of order and magnify a thousand times the
original mistake. Of course, having not even money, we still less
have credit. All estimates deal directly with the real things, the
flour, iron, wood, wool, and labor, of which money and credit
were for you the very misleading representatives. In our calcula-
tion of cost there can be no mistakes. Out of the annual
product the amount necessary for the support of the people is
taken, and the requisite labor to produce the next year's
consumption provided for. The residue of the material and labor
represents what can be safely expended in improvements. If the
crops are bad, the surplus for that year is less than usual, that is
all. Except for slight occasional effects of such natural causes,
there are no fluctuations of business; the material prosperity of
the nation flows on uninterruptedly from generation to generation,
like an ever broadening and deepening river.

"Your business crises, Mr. West," continued the doctor, "like
either of the great wastes I mentioned before, were enough,
alone, to have kept your noses to the grindstone forever; but I
have still to speak of one other great cause of your poverty, and
that was the idleness of a great part of your capital and labor.
With us it is the business of the administration to keep in
constant employment every ounce of available capital and labor
in the country. In your day there was no general control of either
capital or labor, and a large part of both failed to find employment.
`Capital,' you used to say, `is naturally timid,' and it would
certainly have been reckless if it had not been timid in an epoch
when there was a large preponderance of probability that any
particular business venture would end in failure. There was no
time when, if security could have been guaranteed it, the
amount of capital devoted to productive industry could not have
been greatly increased. The proportion of it so employed
underwent constant extraordinary fluctuations, according to the
greater or less feeling of uncertainty as to the stability of the
industrial situation, so that the output of the national industries
greatly varied in different years. But for the same reason that the
amount of capital employed at times of special insecurity was far
less than at times of somewhat greater security, a very large
proportion was never employed at all, because the hazard of
business was always very great in the best of times.

"It should be also noted that the great amount of capital
always seeking employment where tolerable safety could be
insured terribly embittered the competition between capitalists
when a promising opening presented itself. The idleness of
capital, the result of its timidity, of course meant the idleness of
labor in corresponding degree. Moreover, every change in the
adjustments of business, every slightest alteration in the
condition of commerce or manufactures, not to speak of the
innumerable business failures that took place yearly, even in the
best of times, were constantly throwing a multitude of men out
of employment for periods of weeks or months, or even years. A
great number of these seekers after employment were constantly
traversing the country, becoming in time professional vagabonds,
then criminals. `Give us work!' was the cry of an army of the
unemployed at nearly all seasons, and in seasons of dullness in
business this army swelled to a host so vast and desperate as to
threaten the stability of the government. Could there conceivably
be a more conclusive demonstration of the imbecility of the
system of private enterprise as a method for enriching a nation
than the fact that, in an age of such general poverty and want of
everything, capitalists had to throttle one another to find a safe
chance to invest their capital and workmen rioted and burned
because they could find no work to do?

"Now, Mr. West," continued Dr. Leete, "I want you to bear in
mind that these points of which I have been speaking indicate
only negatively the advantages of the national organization of
industry by showing certain fatal defects and prodigious imbecilities
of the systems of private enterprise which are not found in
it. These alone, you must admit, would pretty well explain why
the nation is so much richer than in your day. But the larger half
of our advantage over you, the positive side of it, I have yet
barely spoken of. Supposing the system of private enterprise in
industry were without any of the great leaks I have mentioned;
that there were no waste on account of misdirected effort
growing out of mistakes as to the demand, and inability to
command a general view of the industrial field. Suppose, also,
there were no neutralizing and duplicating of effort from competition.
Suppose, also, there were no waste from business panics
and crises through bankruptcy and long interruptions of industry,
and also none from the idleness of capital and labor.
Supposing these evils, which are essential to the conduct of
industry by capital in private hands, could all be miraculously
prevented, and the system yet retained; even then the superiority
of the results attained by the modern industrial system of
national control would remain overwhelming.

"You used to have some pretty large textile manufacturing
establishments, even in your day, although not comparable with
ours. No doubt you have visited these great mills in your time,
covering acres of ground, employing thousands of hands, and
combining under one roof, under one control, the hundred
distinct processes between, say, the cotton bale and the bale of
glossy calicoes. You have admired the vast economy of labor as
of mechanical force resulting from the perfect interworking with
the rest of every wheel and every hand. No doubt you have
reflected how much less the same force of workers employed in
that factory would accomplish if they were scattered, each man
working independently. Would you think it an exaggeration to
say that the utmost product of those workers, working thus
apart, however amicable their relations might be, was increased
not merely by a percentage, but many fold, when their efforts
were organized under one control? Well now, Mr. West, the
organization of the industry of the nation under a single control,
so that all its processes interlock, has multiplied the total
product over the utmost that could be done under the former
system, even leaving out of account the four great wastes
mentioned, in the same proportion that the product of those
millworkers was increased by cooperation. The effectiveness of
the working force of a nation, under the myriad-headed leadership
of private capital, even if the leaders were not mutual
enemies, as compared with that which it attains under a single
head, may be likened to the military efficiency of a mob, or a
horde of barbarians with a thousand petty chiefs, as compared
with that of a disciplined army under one general--such a
fighting machine, for example, as the German army in the time
of Von Moltke."

"After what you have told me," I said, "I do not so much
wonder that the nation is richer now than then, but that you are
not all Croesuses."

"Well," replied Dr. Leete, "we are pretty well off. The rate at
which we live is as luxurious as we could wish. The rivalry of
ostentation, which in your day led to extravagance in no way
conducive to comfort, finds no place, of course, in a society of
people absolutely equal in resources, and our ambition stops at
the surroundings which minister to the enjoyment of life. We
might, indeed, have much larger incomes, individually, if we
chose so to use the surplus of our product, but we prefer to
expend it upon public works and pleasures in which all share,
upon public halls and buildings, art galleries, bridges, statuary,
means of transit, and the conveniences of our cities, great
musical and theatrical exhibitions, and in providing on a vast
scale for the recreations of the people. You have not begun to
see how we live yet, Mr. West. At home we have comfort, but
the splendor of our life is, on its social side, that which we share
with our fellows. When you know more of it you will see where
the money goes, as you used to say, and I think you will agree
that we do well so to expend it."

"I suppose," observed Dr. Leete, as we strolled homeward
from the dining hall, "that no reflection would have cut the men
of your wealth-worshiping century more keenly than the suggestion
that they did not know how to make money. Nevertheless
that is just the verdict history has passed on them. Their system
of unorganized and antagonistic industries was as absurd
economically as it was morally abominable. Selfishness was their
only science, and in industrial production selfishness is suicide.
Competition, which is the instinct of selfishness, is another word
for dissipation of energy, while combination is the secret of
efficient production; and not till the idea of increasing the
individual hoard gives place to the idea of increasing the common
stock can industrial combination be realized, and the
acquisition of wealth really begin. Even if the principle of share
and share alike for all men were not the only humane and
rational basis for a society, we should still enforce it as economically
expedient, seeing that until the disintegrating influence of
self-seeking is suppressed no true concert of industry is possible."

Chapter 23

That evening, as I sat with Edith in the music room, listening
to some pieces in the programme of that day which had
attracted my notice, I took advantage of an interval in the music
to say, "I have a question to ask you which I fear is rather

"I am quite sure it is not that," she replied, encouragingly.

"I am in the position of an eavesdropper," I continued, "who,
having overheard a little of a matter not intended for him,
though seeming to concern him, has the impudence to come to
the speaker for the rest."

"An eavesdropper!" she repeated, looking puzzled.

"Yes," I said, "but an excusable one, as I think you will

"This is very mysterious," she replied.

"Yes," said I, "so mysterious that often I have doubted
whether I really overheard at all what I am going to ask you
about, or only dreamed it. I want you to tell me. The matter is
this: When I was coming out of that sleep of a century, the first
impression of which I was conscious was of voices talking around
me, voices that afterwards I recognized as your father's, your
mother's, and your own. First, I remember your father's voice
saying, "He is going to open his eyes. He had better see but one
person at first." Then you said, if I did not dream it all,
"Promise me, then, that you will not tell him." Your father
seemed to hesitate about promising, but you insisted, and your
mother interposing, he finally promised, and when I opened my
eyes I saw only him."

I had been quite serious when I said that I was not sure that I
had not dreamed the conversation I fancied I had overheard, so
incomprehensible was it that these people should know anything
of me, a contemporary of their great-grandparents, which I did
not know myself. But when I saw the effect of my words upon
Edith, I knew that it was no dream, but another mystery, and a
more puzzling one than any I had before encountered. For from
the moment that the drift of my question became apparent, she
showed indications of the most acute embarrassment. Her eyes,
always so frank and direct in expression, had dropped in a panic
before mine, while her face crimsoned from neck to forehead.

"Pardon me," I said, as soon as I had recovered from bewilderment
at the extraordinary effect of my words. "It seems, then,
that I was not dreaming. There is some secret, something about
me, which you are withholding from me. Really, doesn't it seem
a little hard that a person in my position should not be given all
the information possible concerning himself?"

"It does not concern you--that is, not directly. It is not about
you exactly," she replied, scarcely audibly.

"But it concerns me in some way," I persisted. "It must be
something that would interest me."

"I don't know even that," she replied, venturing a momentary
glance at my face, furiously blushing, and yet with a quaint smile
flickering about her lips which betrayed a certain perception of
humor in the situation despite its embarrassment,--"I am not
sure that it would even interest you."

"Your father would have told me," I insisted, with an accent
of reproach. "It was you who forbade him. He thought I ought
to know."

She did not reply. She was so entirely charming in her
confusion that I was now prompted, as much by the desire to
prolong the situation as by my original curiosity, to importune
her further.

"Am I never to know? Will you never tell me?" I said.

"It depends," she answered, after a long pause.

"On what?" I persisted.

"Ah, you ask too much," she replied. Then, raising to mine a
face which inscrutable eyes, flushed cheeks, and smiling lips
combined to render perfectly bewitching, she added, "What
should you think if I said that it depended on--yourself?"

"On myself?" I echoed. "How can that possibly be?"

"Mr. West, we are losing some charming music," was her only
reply to this, and turning to the telephone, at a touch of her
finger she set the air to swaying to the rhythm of an adagio.
After that she took good care that the music should leave no
opportunity for conversation. She kept her face averted from me,
and pretended to be absorbed in the airs, but that it was a mere
pretense the crimson tide standing at flood in her cheeks
sufficiently betrayed.

When at length she suggested that I might have heard all I
cared to, for that time, and we rose to leave the room, she came
straight up to me and said, without raising her eyes, "Mr. West,
you say I have been good to you. I have not been particularly so,
but if you think I have, I want you to promise me that you will
not try again to make me tell you this thing you have asked
to-night, and that you will not try to find it out from any one
else,--my father or mother, for instance."

To such an appeal there was but one reply possible. "Forgive
me for distressing you. Of course I will promise," I said. "I
would never have asked you if I had fancied it could distress you.
But do you blame me for being curious?"

"I do not blame you at all."

"And some time," I added, "if I do not tease you, you may tell
me of your own accord. May I not hope so?"

"Perhaps," she murmured.

"Only perhaps?"

Looking up, she read my face with a quick, deep glance.
"Yes," she said, "I think I may tell you--some time": and so our
conversation ended, for she gave me no chance to say anything

That night I don't think even Dr. Pillsbury could have put me
to sleep, till toward morning at least. Mysteries had been my
accustomed food for days now, but none had before confronted
me at once so mysterious and so fascinating as this, the solution
of which Edith Leete had forbidden me even to seek. It was a
double mystery. How, in the first place, was it conceivable that
she should know any secret about me, a stranger from a strange
age? In the second place, even if she should know such a secret,
how account for the agitating effect which the knowledge of it
seemed to have upon her? There are puzzles so difficult that one
cannot even get so far as a conjecture as to the solution, and this
seemed one of them. I am usually of too practical a turn to waste
time on such conundrums; but the difficulty of a riddle embodied
in a beautiful young girl does not detract from its fascination.
In general, no doubt, maidens' blushes may be safely assumed to
tell the same tale to young men in all ages and races, but to give
that interpretation to Edith's crimson cheeks would, considering
my position and the length of time I had known her, and still
more the fact that this mystery dated from before I had known
her at all, be a piece of utter fatuity. And yet she was an angel,
and I should not have been a young man if reason and common
sense had been able quite to banish a roseate tinge from my
dreams that night.

Chapter 24

In the morning I went down stairs early in the hope of seeing
Edith alone. In this, however, I was disappointed. Not finding
her in the house, I sought her in the garden, but she was not
there. In the course of my wanderings I visited the underground
chamber, and sat down there to rest. Upon the reading table in
the chamber several periodicals and newspapers lay, and thinking
that Dr. Leete might be interested in glancing over a Boston
daily of 1887, I brought one of the papers with me into the
house when I came.

At breakfast I met Edith. She blushed as she greeted me, but
was perfectly self-possessed. As we sat at table, Dr. Leete amused
himself with looking over the paper I had brought in. There was
in it, as in all the newspapers of that date, a great deal about the
labor troubles, strikes, lockouts, boycotts, the programmes of
labor parties, and the wild threats of the anarchists.

"By the way," said I, as the doctor read aloud to us some of
these items, "what part did the followers of the red flag take in
the establishment of the new order of things? They were making
considerable noise the last thing that I knew."

"They had nothing to do with it except to hinder it, of
course," replied Dr. Leete. "They did that very effectually while
they lasted, for their talk so disgusted people as to deprive the
best considered projects for social reform of a hearing. The
subsidizing of those fellows was one of the shrewdest moves of
the opponents of reform."

"Subsidizing them!" I exclaimed in astonishment.

"Certainly," replied Dr. Leete. "No historical authority nowadays
doubts that they were paid by the great monopolies to wave
the red flag and talk about burning, sacking, and blowing people
up, in order, by alarming the timid, to head off any real reforms.
What astonishes me most is that you should have fallen into the
trap so unsuspectingly."

"What are your grounds for believing that the red flag party
was subsidized?" I inquired.

"Why simply because they must have seen that their course
made a thousand enemies of their professed cause to one friend.
Not to suppose that they were hired for the work is to credit
them with an inconceivable folly.[4] In the United States, of all
countries, no party could intelligently expect to carry its point
without first winning over to its ideas a majority of the nation, as
the national party eventually did."

[4] I fully admit the difficulty of accounting for the course of the
anarchists on any other theory than that they were subsidized by
the capitalists, but at the same time, there is no doubt that the
theory is wholly erroneous. It certainly was not held at the time by
any one, though it may seem so obvious in the retrospect.

"The national party!" I exclaimed. "That must have arisen
after my day. I suppose it was one of the labor parties."

"Oh no!" replied the doctor. "The labor parties, as such, never
could have accomplished anything on a large or permanent scale.
For purposes of national scope, their basis as merely class
organizations was too narrow. It was not till a rearrangement of
the industrial and social system on a higher ethical basis, and for
the more efficient production of wealth, was recognized as the
interest, not of one class, but equally of all classes, of rich and
poor, cultured and ignorant, old and young, weak and strong,
men and women, that there was any prospect that it would be
achieved. Then the national party arose to carry it out by
political methods. It probably took that name because its aim
was to nationalize the functions of production and distribution.
Indeed, it could not well have had any other name, for its
purpose was to realize the idea of the nation with a grandeur and
completeness never before conceived, not as an association of
men for certain merely political functions affecting their happiness
only remotely and superficially, but as a family, a vital
union, a common life, a mighty heaven-touching tree whose
leaves are its people, fed from its veins, and feeding it in turn.
The most patriotic of all possible parties, it sought to justify
patriotism and raise it from an instinct to a rational devotion, by
making the native land truly a father land, a father who kept the
people alive and was not merely an idol for which they were
expected to die."

Chapter 25

The personality of Edith Leete had naturally impressed me
strongly ever since I had come, in so strange a manner, to be an
inmate of her father's house, and it was to be expected that after
what had happened the night previous, I should be more than
ever preoccupied with thoughts of her. From the first I had been
struck with the air of serene frankness and ingenuous directness,
more like that of a noble and innocent boy than any girl I
had ever known, which characterized her. I was curious to know
how far this charming quality might be peculiar to herself, and
how far possibly a result of alterations in the social position of
women which might have taken place since my time. Finding an
opportunity that day, when alone with Dr. Leete, I turned the
conversation in that direction.

"I suppose," I said, "that women nowadays, having been
relieved of the burden of housework, have no employment but
the cultivation of their charms and graces."

"So far as we men are concerned," replied Dr. Leete, "we
should consider that they amply paid their way, to use one of
your forms of expression, if they confined themselves to that
occupation, but you may be very sure that they have quite too
much spirit to consent to be mere beneficiaries of society, even
as a return for ornamenting it. They did, indeed, welcome their
riddance from housework, because that was not only exceptionally
wearing in itself, but also wasteful, in the extreme, of energy,
as compared with the cooperative plan; but they accepted relief
from that sort of work only that they might contribute in other
and more effectual, as well as more agreeable, ways to the
common weal. Our women, as well as our men, are members of
the industrial army, and leave it only when maternal duties
claim them. The result is that most women, at one time or another
of their lives, serve industrially some five or ten or fifteen
years, while those who have no children fill out the full term."

"A woman does not, then, necessarily leave the industrial
service on marriage?" I queried.

"No more than a man," replied the doctor. "Why on earth
should she? Married women have no housekeeping responsibilities
now, you know, and a husband is not a baby that he should
be cared for."

"It was thought one of the most grievous features of our
civilization that we required so much toil from women," I said;
"but it seems to me you get more out of them than we did."

Dr. Leete laughed. "Indeed we do, just as we do out of our
men. Yet the women of this age are very happy, and those of the
nineteenth century, unless contemporary references greatly mislead
us, were very miserable. The reason that women nowadays
are so much more efficient colaborers with the men, and at the
same time are so happy, is that, in regard to their work as well as
men's, we follow the principle of providing every one the kind of
occupation he or she is best adapted to. Women being inferior
in strength to men, and further disqualified industrially in
special ways, the kinds of occupation reserved for them, and the
conditions under which they pursue them, have reference to
these facts. The heavier sorts of work are everywhere reserved for
men, the lighter occupations for women. Under no circumstances
is a woman permitted to follow any employment not
perfectly adapted, both as to kind and degree of labor, to her sex.
Moreover, the hours of women's work are considerably shorter
than those of men's, more frequent vacations are granted, and
the most careful provision is made for rest when needed. The
men of this day so well appreciate that they owe to the beauty
and grace of women the chief zest of their lives and their main
incentive to effort, that they permit them to work at all only
because it is fully understood that a certain regular requirement
of labor, of a sort adapted to their powers, is well for body and
mind, during the period of maximum physical vigor. We believe
that the magnificent health which distinguishes our women
from those of your day, who seem to have been so generally
sickly, is owing largely to the fact that all alike are furnished with
healthful and inspiriting occupation."

"I understood you," I said, "that the women-workers belong
to the army of industry, but how can they be under the same
system of ranking and discipline with the men, when the
conditions of their labor are so different?"

"They are under an entirely different discipline," replied Dr.
Leete, "and constitute rather an allied force than an integral part
of the army of the men. They have a woman general-in-chief and
are under exclusively feminine regime. This general, as also the
higher officers, is chosen by the body of women who have passed
the time of service, in correspondence with the manner in which
the chiefs of the masculine army and the President of the nation
are elected. The general of the women's army sits in the cabinet
of the President and has a veto on measures respecting women's
work, pending appeals to Congress. I should have said, in
speaking of the judiciary, that we have women on the bench,
appointed by the general of the women, as well as men. Causes
in which both parties are women are determined by women
judges, and where a man and a woman are parties to a case, a
judge of either sex must consent to the verdict."

"Womanhood seems to be organized as a sort of imperium in
imperio in your system," I said.

"To some extent," Dr. Leete replied; "but the inner imperium
is one from which you will admit there is not likely to be much
danger to the nation. The lack of some such recognition of the
distinct individuality of the sexes was one of the innumerable
defects of your society. The passional attraction between men
and women has too often prevented a perception of the profound
differences which make the members of each sex in many
things strange to the other, and capable of sympathy only with
their own. It is in giving full play to the differences of sex
rather than in seeking to obliterate them, as was apparently the
effort of some reformers in your day, that the enjoyment of each
by itself and the piquancy which each has for the other, are alike
enhanced. In your day there was no career for women except in
an unnatural rivalry with men. We have given them a world of
their own, with its emulations, ambitions, and careers, and I
assure you they are very happy in it. It seems to us that women
were more than any other class the victims of your civilization.
There is something which, even at this distance of time, penetrates
one with pathos in the spectacle of their ennuied, undeveloped
lives, stunted at marriage, their narrow horizon, bounded so
often, physically, by the four walls of home, and morally by a
petty circle of personal interests. I speak now, not of the poorer
classes, who were generally worked to death, but also of the
well-to-do and rich. From the great sorrows, as well as the petty
frets of life, they had no refuge in the breezy outdoor world of
human affairs, nor any interests save those of the family. Such an
existence would have softened men's brains or driven them mad.
All that is changed to-day. No woman is heard nowadays wishing
she were a man, nor parents desiring boy rather than girl
children. Our girls are as full of ambition for their careers as our
boys. Marriage, when it comes, does not mean incarceration for
them, nor does it separate them in any way from the larger
interests of society, the bustling life of the world. Only when
maternity fills a woman's mind with new interests does she
withdraw from the world for a time. Afterward, and at any
time, she may return to her place among her comrades, nor need
she ever lose touch with them. Women are a very happy race
nowadays, as compared with what they ever were before in the
world's history, and their power of giving happiness to men has
been of course increased in proportion."

"I should imagine it possible," I said, "that the interest which
girls take in their careers as members of the industrial army and
candidates for its distinctions might have an effect to deter them
from marriage."

Dr. Leete smiled. "Have no anxiety on that score, Mr. West,"
he replied. "The Creator took very good care that whatever other
modifications the dispositions of men and women might with
time take on, their attraction for each other should remain
constant. The mere fact that in an age like yours, when the
struggle for existence must have left people little time for other
thoughts, and the future was so uncertain that to assume
parental responsibilities must have often seemed like a criminal
risk, there was even then marrying and giving in marriage,
should be conclusive on this point. As for love nowadays, one of
our authors says that the vacuum left in the minds of men and
women by the absence of care for one's livelihood has been
entirely taken up by the tender passion. That, however, I beg
you to believe, is something of an exaggestion. For the rest, so
far is marriage from being an interference with a woman's career,
that the higher positions in the feminine army of industry are
intrusted only to women who have been both wives and mothers,
as they alone fully represent their sex."

"Are credit cards issued to the women just as to the men?"


"The credits of the women, I suppose, are for smaller sums,
owing to the frequent suspension of their labor on account of
family responsibilities."

"Smaller!" exclaimed Dr. Leete, "oh, no! The maintenance of
all our people is the same. There are no exceptions to that rule,
but if any difference were made on account of the interruptions
you speak of, it would be by making the woman's credit larger,
not smaller. Can you think of any service constituting a stronger
claim on the nation's gratitude than bearing and nursing the
nation's children? According to our view, none deserve so well of
the world as good parents. There is no task so unselfish, so
necessarily without return, though the heart is well rewarded, as
the nurture of the children who are to make the world for one
another when we are gone."

"It would seem to follow, from what you have said, that wives
are in no way dependent on their husbands for maintenance."

"Of course they are not," replied Dr. Leete, "nor children on
their parents either, that is, for means of support, though of
course they are for the offices of affection. The child's labor,
when he grows up, will go to increase the common stock, not his
parents', who will be dead, and therefore he is properly nurtured
out of the common stock. The account of every person, man,
woman, and child, you must understand, is always with the
nation directly, and never through any intermediary, except, of
course, that parents, to a certain extent, act for children as their
guardians. You see that it is by virtue of the relation of
individuals to the nation, of their membership in it, that they
are entitled to support; and this title is in no way connected with
or affected by their relations to other individuals who are fellow
members of the nation with them. That any person should be
dependent for the means of support upon another would be
shocking to the moral sense as well as indefensible on any
rational social theory. What would become of personal liberty
and dignity under such an arrangement? I am aware that you
called yourselves free in the nineteenth century. The meaning of
the word could not then, however, have been at all what it is at
present, or you certainly would not have applied it to a society of
which nearly every member was in a position of galling personal
dependence upon others as to the very means of life, the poor
upon the rich, or employed upon employer, women upon men,
children upon parents. Instead of distributing the product of the
nation directly to its members, which would seem the most
natural and obvious method, it would actually appear that you
had given your minds to devising a plan of hand to hand
distribution, involving the maximum of personal humiliation to
all classes of recipients.

"As regards the dependence of women upon men for support,
which then was usual, of course, natural attraction in case of
marriages of love may often have made it endurable, though for
spirited women I should fancy it must always have remained
humiliating. What, then, must it have been in the innumerable
cases where women, with or without the form of marriage, had
to sell themselves to men to get their living? Even your
contemporaries, callous as they were to most of the revolting
aspects of their society, seem to have had an idea that this was
not quite as it should be; but, it was still only for pity's sake that
they deplored the lot of the women. It did not occur to them
that it was robbery as well as cruelty when men seized for
themselves the whole product of the world and left women to
beg and wheedle for their share. Why--but bless me, Mr. West,
I am really running on at a remarkable rate, just as if the
robbery, the sorrow, and the shame which those poor women
endured were not over a century since, or as if you were
responsible for what you no doubt deplored as much as I do."

"I must bear my share of responsibility for the world as it then
was," I replied. "All I can say in extenuation is that until the
nation was ripe for the present system of organized production
and distribution, no radical improvement in the position of
woman was possible. The root of her disability, as you say, was
her personal dependence upon man for her livelihood, and I can
imagine no other mode of social organization than that you have
adopted, which would have set woman free of man at the same
time that it set men free of one another. I suppose, by the way,
that so entire a change in the position of women cannot have
taken place without affecting in marked ways the social relations
of the sexes. That will be a very interesting study for me."

"The change you will observe," said Dr. Leete, "will chiefly
be, I think, the entire frankness and unconstraint which now
characterizes those relations, as compared with the artificiality
which seems to have marked them in your time. The sexes now
meet with the ease of perfect equals, suitors to each other for
nothing but love. In your time the fact that women were
dependent for support on men made the woman in reality the
one chiefly benefited by marriage. This fact, so far as we can
judge from contemporary records, appears to have been coarsely
enough recognized among the lower classes, while among the
more polished it was glossed over by a system of elaborate
conventionalities which aimed to carry the precisely opposite
meaning, namely, that the man was the party chiefly benefited.
To keep up this convention it was essential that he should
always seem the suitor. Nothing was therefore considered more
shocking to the proprieties than that a woman should betray a
fondness for a man before he had indicated a desire to marry her.
Why, we actually have in our libraries books, by authors of your
day, written for no other purpose than to discuss the question
whether, under any conceivable circumstances, a woman might,
without discredit to her sex, reveal an unsolicited love. All this
seems exquisitely absurd to us, and yet we know that, given your
circumstances, the problem might have a serious side. When for
a woman to proffer her love to a man was in effect to invite him
to assume the burden of her support, it is easy to see that pride
and delicacy might well have checked the promptings of the
heart. When you go out into our society, Mr. West, you must be
prepared to be often cross-questioned on this point by our young
people, who are naturally much interested in this aspect of
old-fashioned manners."[5]

[5] I may say that Dr. Leete's warning has been fully justified by my
experience. The amount and intensity of amusement which the
young people of this day, and the young women especially, are
able to extract from what they are pleased to call the oddities of
courtship in the nineteenth century, appear unlimited.

"And so the girls of the twentieth century tell their love."

"If they choose," replied Dr. Leete. "There is no more
pretense of a concealment of feeling on their part than on the
part of their lovers. Coquetry would be as much despised in a
girl as in a man. Affected coldness, which in your day rarely
deceived a lover, would deceive him wholly now, for no one
thinks of practicing it."

"One result which must follow from the independence of
women I can see for myself," I said. "There can be no marriages
now except those of inclination."

"That is a matter of course," replied Dr. Leete.

"Think of a world in which there are nothing but matches of
pure love! Ah me, Dr. Leete, how far you are from being able to
understand what an astonishing phenomenon such a world
seems to a man of the nineteenth century!"

"I can, however, to some extent, imagine it," replied the
doctor. "But the fact you celebrate, that there are nothing but
love matches, means even more, perhaps, than you probably at
first realize. It means that for the first time in human history the
principle of sexual selection, with its tendency to preserve and
transmit the better types of the race, and let the inferior types
drop out, has unhindered operation. The necessities of poverty,
the need of having a home, no longer tempt women to accept as
the fathers of their children men whom they neither can love
nor respect. Wealth and rank no longer divert attention from
personal qualities. Gold no longer `gilds the straitened forehead
of the fool.' The gifts of person, mind, and disposition; beauty,
wit, eloquence, kindness, generosity, geniality, courage, are sure
of transmission to posterity. Every generation is sifted through a
little finer mesh than the last. The attributes that human nature
admires are preserved, those that repel it are left behind. There
are, of course, a great many women who with love must mingle
admiration, and seek to wed greatly, but these not the less obey
the same law, for to wed greatly now is not to marry men of
fortune or title, but those who have risen above their fellows by
the solidity or brilliance of their services to humanity. These
form nowadays the only aristocracy with which alliance is

"You were speaking, a day or two ago, of the physical
superiority of our people to your contemporaries. Perhaps more
important than any of the causes I mentioned then as tending to
race purification has been the effect of untrammeled sexual
selection upon the quality of two or three successive generations.
I believe that when you have made a fuller study of our people
you will find in them not only a physical, but a mental and
moral improvement. It would be strange if it were not so, for not
only is one of the great laws of nature now freely working out
the salvation of the race, but a profound moral sentiment has
come to its support. Individualism, which in your day was the
animating idea of society, not only was fatal to any vital
sentiment of brotherhood and common interest among living
men, but equally to any realization of the responsibility of the
living for the generation to follow. To-day this sense of responsibility,
practically unrecognized in all previous ages, has become
one of the great ethical ideas of the race, reinforcing, with an
intense conviction of duty, the natural impulse to seek in
marriage the best and noblest of the other sex. The result is, that
not all the encouragements and incentives of every sort which
we have provided to develop industry, talent, genius, excellence
of whatever kind, are comparable in their effect on our young
men with the fact that our women sit aloft as judges of the race
and reserve themselves to reward the winners. Of all the whips,
and spurs, and baits, and prizes, there is none like the thought of
the radiant faces which the laggards will find averted.

"Celibates nowadays are almost invariably men who have
failed to acquit themselves creditably in the work of life. The
woman must be a courageous one, with a very evil sort of
courage, too, whom pity for one of these unfortunates should
lead to defy the opinion of her generation--for otherwise she is
free--so far as to accept him for a husband. I should add that,
more exacting and difficult to resist than any other element in
that opinion, she would find the sentiment of her own sex. Our
women have risen to the full height of their responsibility as the
wardens of the world to come, to whose keeping the keys of the
future are confided. Their feeling of duty in this respect amounts
to a sense of religious consecration. It is a cult in which they
educate their daughters from childhood."

After going to my room that night, I sat up late to read a
romance of Berrian, handed me by Dr. Leete, the plot of which
turned on a situation suggested by his last words, concerning the
modern view of parental responsibility. A similar situation would
almost certainly have been treated by a nineteenth century
romancist so as to excite the morbid sympathy of the reader with
the sentimental selfishness of the lovers, and his resentment
toward the unwritten law which they outraged. I need not de-
scribe--for who has not read "Ruth Elton"?--how different is
the course which Berrian takes, and with what tremendous effect
he enforces the principle which he states: "Over the unborn our
power is that of God, and our responsibility like His toward us.
As we acquit ourselves toward them, so let Him deal with us."

Chapter 26

I think if a person were ever excusable for losing track of the
days of the week, the circumstances excused me. Indeed, if I had
been told that the method of reckoning time had been wholly
changed and the days were now counted in lots of five, ten, or
fifteen instead of seven, I should have been in no way surprised
after what I had already heard and seen of the twentieth century.
The first time that any inquiry as to the days of the week
occurred to me was the morning following the conversation
related in the last chapter. At the breakfast table Dr. Leete asked
me if I would care to hear a sermon.

"Is it Sunday, then?" I exclaimed.

"Yes," he replied. "It was on Friday, you see, when we made
the lucky discovery of the buried chamber to which we owe your
society this morning. It was on Saturday morning, soon after
midnight, that you first awoke, and Sunday afternoon when you
awoke the second time with faculties fully regained."

"So you still have Sundays and sermons," I said. "We had
prophets who foretold that long before this time the world
would have dispensed with both. I am very curious to know how
the ecclesiastical systems fit in with the rest of your social
arrangements. I suppose you have a sort of national church with
official clergymen."

Dr. Leete laughed, and Mrs. Leete and Edith seemed greatly

"Why, Mr. West," Edith said, "what odd people you must
think us. You were quite done with national religious establishments
in the nineteenth century, and did you fancy we had gone
back to them?"

"But how can voluntary churches and an unofficial clerical
profession be reconciled with national ownership of all buildings,
and the industrial service required of all men?" I answered.

"The religious practices of the people have naturally changed
considerably in a century," replied Dr. Leete; "but supposing
them to have remained unchanged, our social system would
accommodate them perfectly. The nation supplies any person or
number of persons with buildings on guarantee of the rent, and
they remain tenants while they pay it. As for the clergymen, if a
number of persons wish the services of an individual for any
particular end of their own, apart from the general service of the
nation, they can always secure it, with that individual's own
consent, of course, just as we secure the service of our editors, by
contributing from their credit cards an indemnity to the nation
for the loss of his services in general industry. This indemnity
paid the nation for the individual answers to the salary in your
day paid to the individual himself; and the various applications
of this principle leave private initiative full play in all details to
which national control is not applicable. Now, as to hearing a
sermon to-day, if you wish to do so, you can either go to a
church to hear it or stay at home."

"How am I to hear it if I stay at home?"

"Simply by accompanying us to the music room at the proper
hour and selecting an easy chair. There are some who still prefer
to hear sermons in church, but most of our preaching, like our
musical performances, is not in public, but delivered in acoustically
prepared chambers, connected by wire with subscribers'
houses. If you prefer to go to a church I shall be glad to
accompany you, but I really don't believe you are likely to hear
anywhere a better discourse than you will at home. I see by the
paper that Mr. Barton is to preach this morning, and he
preaches only by telephone, and to audiences often reaching

"The novelty of the experience of hearing a sermon under
such circumstances would incline me to be one of Mr. Barton's
hearers, if for no other reason," I said.

An hour or two later, as I sat reading in the library, Edith
came for me, and I followed her to the music room, where Dr.
and Mrs. Leete were waiting. We had not more than seated
ourselves comfortably when the tinkle of a bell was heard, and a
few moments after the voice of a man, at the pitch of ordinary
conversation, addressed us, with an effect of proceeding from an
invisible person in the room. This was what the voice said:


"We have had among us, during the past week, a critic from
the nineteenth century, a living representative of the epoch of
our great-grandparents. It would be strange if a fact so extraordinary
had not somewhat strongly affected our imaginations.
Perhaps most of us have been stimulated to some effort to
realize the society of a century ago, and figure to ourselves what
it must have been like to live then. In inviting you now to
consider certain reflections upon this subject which have
occurred to me, I presume that I shall rather follow than divert
the course of your own thoughts."

Edith whispered something to her father at this point, to
which he nodded assent and turned to me.

"Mr. West," he said, "Edith suggests that you may find it
slightly embarrassing to listen to a discourse on the lines Mr.
Barton is laying down, and if so, you need not be cheated out of
a sermon. She will connect us with Mr. Sweetser's speaking
room if you say so, and I can still promise you a very good

"No, no," I said. "Believe me, I would much rather hear what
Mr. Barton has to say."

"As you please," replied my host.

When her father spoke to me Edith had touched a screw, and
the voice of Mr. Barton had ceased abruptly. Now at another
touch the room was once more filled with the earnest sympathetic
tones which had already impressed me most favorably.

"I venture to assume that one effect has been common with
us as a result of this effort at retrospection, and that it has been
to leave us more than ever amazed at the stupendous change
which one brief century has made in the material and moral
conditions of humanity.

"Still, as regards the contrast between the poverty of the
nation and the world in the nineteenth century and their wealth
now, it is not greater, possibly, than had been before seen in
human history, perhaps not greater, for example, than that
between the poverty of this country during the earliest colonial
period of the seventeenth century and the relatively great wealth
it had attained at the close of the nineteenth, or between the
England of William the Conqueror and that of Victoria.
Although the aggregate riches of a nation did not then, as now,
afford any accurate criterion of the masses of its people, yet
instances like these afford partial parallels for the merely material
side of the contrast between the nineteenth and the twentieth
centuries. It is when we contemplate the moral aspect of that
contrast that we find ourselves in the presence of a phenomenon
for which history offers no precedent, however far back we may
cast our eye. One might almost be excused who should exclaim,
`Here, surely, is something like a miracle!' Nevertheless, when
we give over idle wonder, and begin to examine the seeming
prodigy critically, we find it no prodigy at all, much less a
miracle. It is not necessary to suppose a moral new birth of
humanity, or a wholesale destruction of the wicked and survival
of the good, to account for the fact before us. It finds its simple
and obvious explanation in the reaction of a changed environment
upon human nature. It means merely that a form of
society which was founded on the pseudo self-interest of selfishness,
and appealed solely to the anti-social and brutal side of
human nature, has been replaced by institutions based on the
true self-interest of a rational unselfishness, and appealing to the
social and generous instincts of men.

"My friends, if you would see men again the beasts of prey
they seemed in the nineteenth century, all you have to do is to
restore the old social and industrial system, which taught them
to view their natural prey in their fellow-men, and find their gain
in the loss of others. No doubt it seems to you that no necessity,
however dire, would have tempted you to subsist on what
superior skill or strength enabled you to wrest from others
equally needy. But suppose it were not merely your own life that
you were responsible for. I know well that there must have been
many a man among our ancestors who, if it had been merely a
question of his own life, would sooner have given it up than
nourished it by bread snatched from others. But this he was not
permitted to do. He had dear lives dependent on him. Men
loved women in those days, as now. God knows how they dared
be fathers, but they had babies as sweet, no doubt, to them as
ours to us, whom they must feed, clothe, educate. The gentlest
creatures are fierce when they have young to provide for, and in
that wolfish society the struggle for bread borrowed a peculiar
desperation from the tenderest sentiments. For the sake of those
dependent on him, a man might not choose, but must plunge
into the foul fight--cheat, overreach, supplant, defraud, buy
below worth and sell above, break down the business by which
his neighbor fed his young ones, tempt men to buy what they
ought not and to sell what they should not, grind his laborers,
sweat his debtors, cozen his creditors. Though a man sought it
carefully with tears, it was hard to find a way in which he could
earn a living and provide for his family except by pressing in
before some weaker rival and taking the food from his mouth.
Even the ministers of religion were not exempt from this cruel
necessity. While they warned their flocks against the love of
money, regard for their families compelled them to keep an
outlook for the pecuniary prizes of their calling. Poor fellows,
theirs was indeed a trying business, preaching to men a generosity
and unselfishness which they and everybody knew would, in
the existing state of the world, reduce to poverty those who
should practice them, laying down laws of conduct which the
law of self-preservation compelled men to break. Looking on the
inhuman spectacle of society, these worthy men bitterly
bemoaned the depravity of human nature; as if angelic nature
would not have been debauched in such a devil's school! Ah, my
friends, believe me, it is not now in this happy age that
humanity is proving the divinity within it. It was rather in those
evil days when not even the fight for life with one another, the
struggle for mere existence, in which mercy was folly, could
wholly banish generosity and kindness from the earth.

"It is not hard to understand the desperation with which men
and women, who under other conditions would have been full of
gentleness and truth, fought and tore each other in the scramble
for gold, when we realize what it meant to miss it, what poverty
was in that day. For the body it was hunger and thirst, torment
by heat and frost, in sickness neglect, in health unremitting toil;
for the moral nature it meant oppression, contempt, and the
patient endurance of indignity, brutish associations from
infancy, the loss of all the innocence of childhood, the grace of
womanhood, the dignity of manhood; for the mind it meant the
death of ignorance, the torpor of all those faculties which
distinguish us from brutes, the reduction of life to a round of
bodily functions.

"Ah, my friends, if such a fate as this were offered you and
your children as the only alternative of success in the accumulation
of wealth, how long do you fancy would you be in sinking
to the moral level of your ancestors?

"Some two or three centuries ago an act of barbarity was
committed in India, which, though the number of lives
destroyed was but a few score, was attended by such peculiar
horrors that its memory is likely to be perpetual. A number of
English prisoners were shut up in a room containing not enough
air to supply one-tenth their number. The unfortunates were
gallant men, devoted comrades in service, but, as the agonies of
suffocation began to take hold on them, they forgot all else, and
became involved in a hideous struggle, each one for himself, and
against all others, to force a way to one of the small apertures of
the prison at which alone it was possible to get a breath of air. It
was a struggle in which men became beasts, and the recital of its
horrors by the few survivors so shocked our forefathers that for a
century later we find it a stock reference in their literature as a
typical illustration of the extreme possibilities of human misery,
as shocking in its moral as its physical aspect. They could
scarcely have anticipated that to us the Black Hole of Calcutta,
with its press of maddened men tearing and trampling one
another in the struggle to win a place at the breathing holes,
would seem a striking type of the society of their age. It lacked
something of being a complete type, however, for in the Calcutta
Black Hole there were no tender women, no little children
and old men and women, no cripples. They were at least all
men, strong to bear, who suffered.

"When we reflect that the ancient order of which I have been
speaking was prevalent up to the end of the nineteenth century,
while to us the new order which succeeded it already seems
antique, even our parents having known no other, we cannot fail
to be astounded at the suddenness with which a transition so
profound beyond all previous experience of the race must have
been effected. Some observation of the state of men's minds
during the last quarter of the nineteenth century will, however,
in great measure, dissipate this astonishment. Though general
intelligence in the modern sense could not be said to exist in any
community at that time, yet, as compared with previous generations,
the one then on the stage was intelligent. The inevitable
consequence of even this comparative degree of intelligence had
been a perception of the evils of society, such as had never
before been general. It is quite true that these evils had been
even worse, much worse, in previous ages. It was the increased
intelligence of the masses which made the difference, as the
dawn reveals the squalor of surroundings which in the darkness
may have seemed tolerable. The key-note of the literature of the
period was one of compassion for the poor and unfortunate, and
indignant outcry against the failure of the social machinery to
ameliorate the miseries of men. It is plain from these outbursts
that the moral hideousness of the spectacle about them was, at
least by flashes, fully realized by the best of the men of that
time, and that the lives of some of the more sensitive and
generous hearted of them were rendered well nigh unendurable
by the intensity of their sympathies.

"Although the idea of the vital unity of the family of
mankind, the reality of human brotherhood, was very far from
being apprehended by them as the moral axiom it seems to us,
yet it is a mistake to suppose that there was no feeling at all
corresponding to it. I could read you passages of great beauty
from some of their writers which show that the conception was
clearly attained by a few, and no doubt vaguely by many more.
Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the nineteenth century
was in name Christian, and the fact that the entire commercial
and industrial frame of society was the embodiment of the
anti-Christian spirit must have had some weight, though I admit
it was strangely little, with the nominal followers of Jesus Christ.

"When we inquire why it did not have more, why, in general,
long after a vast majority of men had agreed as to the crying
abuses of the existing social arrangement, they still tolerated it,
or contented themselves with talking of petty reforms in it, we
come upon an extraordinary fact. It was the sincere belief of
even the best of men at that epoch that the only stable elements
in human nature, on which a social system could be safely
founded, were its worst propensities. They had been taught and
believed that greed and self-seeking were all that held mankind
together, and that all human associations would fall to pieces if
anything were done to blunt the edge of these motives or curb
their operation. In a word, they believed--even those who
longed to believe otherwise--the exact reverse of what seems to
us self-evident; they believed, that is, that the anti-social qualities
of men, and not their social qualities, were what furnished the
cohesive force of society. It seemed reasonable to them that men
lived together solely for the purpose of overreaching and oppressing
one another, and of being overreached and oppressed, and
that while a society that gave full scope to these propensities
could stand, there would be little chance for one based on the
idea of cooperation for the benefit of all. It seems absurd to
expect any one to believe that convictions like these were ever
seriously entertained by men; but that they were not only
entertained by our great-grandfathers, but were responsible for
the long delay in doing away with the ancient order, after a
conviction of its intolerable abuses had become general, is as well
established as any fact in history can be. Just here you will find
the explanation of the profound pessimism of the literature of
the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the note of melancholy
in its poetry, and the cynicism of its humor.

"Feeling that the condition of the race was unendurable, they
had no clear hope of anything better. They believed that the
evolution of humanity had resulted in leading it into a cul de
sac, and that there was no way of getting forward. The frame of
men's minds at this time is strikingly illustrated by treatises
which have come down to us, and may even now be consulted in
our libraries by the curious, in which laborious arguments are
pursued to prove that despite the evil plight of men, life was
still, by some slight preponderance of considerations, probably
better worth living than leaving. Despising themselves, they
despised their Creator. There was a general decay of religious
belief. Pale and watery gleams, from skies thickly veiled by
doubt and dread, alone lighted up the chaos of earth. That men
should doubt Him whose breath is in their nostrils, or dread the
hands that moulded them, seems to us indeed a pitiable insanity;
but we must remember that children who are brave by day have
sometimes foolish fears at night. The dawn has come since then.
It is very easy to believe in the fatherhood of God in the
twentieth century.

"Briefly, as must needs be in a discourse of this character, I
have adverted to some of the causes which had prepared men's
minds for the change from the old to the new order, as well as
some causes of the conservatism of despair which for a while
held it back after the time was ripe. To wonder at the rapidity
with which the change was completed after its possibility was
first entertained is to forget the intoxicating effect of hope upon
minds long accustomed to despair. The sunburst, after so long
and dark a night, must needs have had a dazzling effect. From
the moment men allowed themselves to believe that humanity
after all had not been meant for a dwarf, that its squat stature
was not the measure of its possible growth, but that it stood
upon the verge of an avatar of limitless development, the
reaction must needs have been overwhelming. It is evident that
nothing was able to stand against the enthusiasm which the new
faith inspired.

"Here, at last, men must have felt, was a cause compared with
which the grandest of historic causes had been trivial. It was
doubtless because it could have commanded millions of martyrs,
that none were needed. The change of a dynasty in a petty
kingdom of the old world often cost more lives than did the
revolution which set the feet of the human race at last in the
right way.

"Doubtless it ill beseems one to whom the boon of life in our
resplendent age has been vouchsafed to wish his destiny other,
and yet I have often thought that I would fain exchange my
share in this serene and golden day for a place in that stormy
epoch of transition, when heroes burst the barred gate of the
future and revealed to the kindling gaze of a hopeless race, in
place of the blank wall that had closed its path, a vista of
progress whose end, for very excess of light, still dazzles us. Ah,
my friends! who will say that to have lived then, when the
weakest influence was a lever to whose touch the centuries
trembled, was not worth a share even in this era of fruition?

"You know the story of that last, greatest, and most bloodless
of revolutions. In the time of one generation men laid aside the
social traditions and practices of barbarians, and assumed a social
order worthy of rational and human beings. Ceasing to be
predatory in their habits, they became co-workers, and found in
fraternity, at once, the science of wealth and happiness. `What
shall I eat and drink, and wherewithal shall I be clothed?' stated
as a problem beginning and ending in self, had been an anxious
and an endless one. But when once it was conceived, not from
the individual, but the fraternal standpoint, `What shall we eat
and drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?'--its difficulties

"Poverty with servitude had been the result, for the mass of
humanity, of attempting to solve the problem of maintenance
from the individual standpoint, but no sooner had the nation
become the sole capitalist and employer than not alone did
plenty replace poverty, but the last vestige of the serfdom of
man to man disappeared from earth. Human slavery, so often
vainly scotched, at last was killed. The means of subsistence no
longer doled out by men to women, by employer to employed,
by rich to poor, was distributed from a common stock as among
children at the father's table. It was impossible for a man any
longer to use his fellow-men as tools for his own profit. His
esteem was the only sort of gain he could thenceforth make out
of him. There was no more either arrogance or servility in the
relations of human beings to one another. For the first time
since the creation every man stood up straight before God. The
fear of want and the lust of gain became extinct motives when
abundance was assured to all and immoderate possessions made
impossible of attainment. There were no more beggars nor
almoners. Equity left charity without an occupation. The ten
commandments became well nigh obsolete in a world where
there was no temptation to theft, no occasion to lie either for
fear or favor, no room for envy where all were equal, and little
provocation to violence where men were disarmed of power to
injure one another. Humanity's ancient dream of liberty, equality,
fraternity, mocked by so many ages, at last was realized.

"As in the old society the generous, the just, the tender-hearted
had been placed at a disadvantage by the possession of those
qualities; so in the new society the cold-hearted, the greedy, and
self-seeking found themselves out of joint with the world. Now
that the conditions of life for the first time ceased to operate as a
forcing process to develop the brutal qualities of human nature,
and the premium which had heretofore encouraged selfishness
was not only removed, but placed upon unselfishness, it was for
the first time possible to see what unperverted human nature
really was like. The depraved tendencies, which had previously
overgrown and obscured the better to so large an extent, now
withered like cellar fungi in the open air, and the nobler
qualities showed a sudden luxuriance which turned cynics into
panegyrists and for the first time in human history tempted
mankind to fall in love with itself. Soon was fully revealed, what
the divines and philosophers of the old world never would have
believed, that human nature in its essential qualities is good, not
bad, that men by their natural intention and structure are
generous, not selfish, pitiful, not cruel, sympathetic, not arrogant,
godlike in aspirations, instinct with divinest impulses of tenderness
and self-sacrifice, images of God indeed, not the travesties
upon Him they had seemed. The constant pressure, through
numberless generations, of conditions of life which might have
perverted angels, had not been able to essentially alter the
natural nobility of the stock, and these conditions once removed,
like a bent tree, it had sprung back to its normal uprightness.

"To put the whole matter in the nutshell of a parable, let me
compare humanity in the olden time to a rosebush planted in a
swamp, watered with black bog-water, breathing miasmatic fogs
by day, and chilled with poison dews at night. Innumerable
generations of gardeners had done their best to make it bloom,
but beyond an occasional half-opened bud with a worm at the
heart, their efforts had been unsuccessful. Many, indeed, claimed
that the bush was no rosebush at all, but a noxious shrub, fit
only to be uprooted and burned. The gardeners, for the most
part, however, held that the bush belonged to the rose family,
but had some ineradicable taint about it, which prevented the
buds from coming out, and accounted for its generally sickly
condition. There were a few, indeed, who maintained that the
stock was good enough, that the trouble was in the bog, and that
under more favorable conditions the plant might be expected to
do better. But these persons were not regular gardeners, and
being condemned by the latter as mere theorists and day
dreamers, were, for the most part, so regarded by the people.
Moreover, urged some eminent moral philosophers, even conceding
for the sake of the argument that the bush might possibly do
better elsewhere, it was a more valuable discipline for the buds
to try to bloom in a bog than it would be under more favorable
conditions. The buds that succeeded in opening might indeed be
very rare, and the flowers pale and scentless, but they represented
far more moral effort than if they had bloomed spontaneously in
a garden.

"The regular gardeners and the moral philosophers had their
way. The bush remained rooted in the bog, and the old course of
treatment went on. Continually new varieties of forcing mixtures
were applied to the roots, and more recipes than could be
numbered, each declared by its advocates the best and only
suitable preparation, were used to kill the vermin and remove
the mildew. This went on a very long time. Occasionally some
one claimed to observe a slight improvement in the appearance
of the bush, but there were quite as many who declared that it
did not look so well as it used to. On the whole there could not
be said to be any marked change. Finally, during a period of
general despondency as to the prospects of the bush where it
was, the idea of transplanting it was again mooted, and this time
found favor. `Let us try it,' was the general voice. `Perhaps it
may thrive better elsewhere, and here it is certainly doubtful if it
be worth cultivating longer.' So it came about that the rosebush
of humanity was transplanted, and set in sweet, warm, dry earth,
where the sun bathed it, the stars wooed it, and the south wind
caressed it. Then it appeared that it was indeed a rosebush. The
vermin and the mildew disappeared, and the bush was covered
with most beautiful red roses, whose fragrance filled the world.

"It is a pledge of the destiny appointed for us that the Creator
has set in our hearts an infinite standard of achievement, judged
by which our past attainments seem always insignificant, and the
goal never nearer. Had our forefathers conceived a state of
society in which men should live together like brethren dwelling
in unity, without strifes or envying, violence or overreaching, and
where, at the price of a degree of labor not greater than health
demands, in their chosen occupations, they should be wholly
freed from care for the morrow and left with no more concern
for their livelihood than trees which are watered by unfailing
streams,--had they conceived such a condition, I say, it would
have seemed to them nothing less than paradise. They would
have confounded it with their idea of heaven, nor dreamed that
there could possibly lie further beyond anything to be desired or
striven for.

"But how is it with us who stand on this height which they
gazed up to? Already we have well nigh forgotten, except when it
is especially called to our minds by some occasion like the
present, that it was not always with men as it is now. It is a
strain on our imaginations to conceive the social arrangements of
our immediate ancestors. We find them grotesque. The solution
of the problem of physical maintenance so as to banish care and
crime, so far from seeming to us an ultimate attainment, appears
but as a preliminary to anything like real human progress. We
have but relieved ourselves of an impertinent and needless
harassment which hindered our ancestor from undertaking the
real ends of existence. We are merely stripped for the race; no
more. We are like a child which has just learned to stand
upright and to walk. It is a great event, from the child's point of
view, when he first walks. Perhaps he fancies that there can be
little beyond that achievement, but a year later he has forgotten
that he could not always walk. His horizon did but widen when
he rose, and enlarge as he moved. A great event indeed, in one
sense, was his first step, but only as a beginning, not as the end.
His true career was but then first entered on. The enfranchisement
of humanity in the last century, from mental and
physical absorption in working and scheming for the mere bodily
necessities, may be regarded as a species of second birth of
the race, without which its first birth to an existence that was
but a burden would forever have remained unjustified, but
whereby it is now abundantly vindicated. Since then, humanity
has entered on a new phase of spiritual development, an evolution
of higher faculties, the very existence of which in human
nature our ancestors scarcely suspected. In place of the dreary
hopelessness of the nineteenth century, its profound pessimism
as to the future of humanity, the animating idea of the present
age is an enthusiastic conception of the opportunities of our
earthly existence, and the unbounded possibilities of human
nature. The betterment of mankind from generation to generation,
physically, mentally, morally, is recognized as the one great
object supremely worthy of effort and of sacrifice. We believe
the race for the first time to have entered on the realization of
God's ideal of it, and each generation must now be a step

"Do you ask what we look for when unnumbered generations
shall have passed away? I answer, the way stretches far before us,
but the end is lost in light. For twofold is the return of man to
God `who is our home,' the return of the individual by the way
of death, and the return of the race by the fulfillment of the
evolution, when the divine secret hidden in the germ shall be
perfectly unfolded. With a tear for the dark past, turn we then
to the dazzling future, and, veiling our eyes, press forward. The
long and weary winter of the race is ended. Its summer has
begun. Humanity has burst the chrysalis. The heavens are before

Chapter 27

I never could tell just why, but Sunday afternoon during my
old life had been a time when I was peculiarly subject to
melancholy, when the color unaccountably faded out of all the
aspects of life, and everything appeared pathetically uninteresting.
The hours, which in general were wont to bear me easily on
their wings, lost the power of flight, and toward the close of the
day, drooping quite to earth, had fairly to be dragged along by
main strength. Perhaps it was partly owing to the established
association of ideas that, despite the utter change in my
circumstances, I fell into a state of profound depression on the
afternoon of this my first Sunday in the twentieth century.

It was not, however, on the present occasion a depression
without specific cause, the mere vague melancholy I have spoken
of, but a sentiment suggested and certainly quite justified by my
position. The sermon of Mr. Barton, with its constant implication
of the vast moral gap between the century to which I
belonged and that in which I found myself, had had an effect
strongly to accentuate my sense of loneliness in it. Considerately
and philosophically as he had spoken, his words could scarcely
have failed to leave upon my mind a strong impression of the
mingled pity, curiosity, and aversion which I, as a representative
of an abhorred epoch, must excite in all around me.

The extraordinary kindness with which I had been treated by
Dr. Leete and his family, and especially the goodness of Edith,
had hitherto prevented my fully realizing that their real sentiment
toward me must necessarily be that of the whole generation
to which they belonged. The recognition of this, as regarded
Dr. Leete and his amiable wife, however painful, I might have
endured, but the conviction that Edith must share their feeling
was more than I could bear.

The crushing effect with which this belated perception of a
fact so obvious came to me opened my eyes fully to something
which perhaps the reader has already suspected,--I loved Edith.

Was it strange that I did? The affecting occasion on which
our intimacy had begun, when her hands had drawn me out of
the whirlpool of madness; the fact that her sympathy was the
vital breath which had set me up in this new life and enabled me
to support it; my habit of looking to her as the mediator
between me and the world around in a sense that even her father
was not,--these were circumstances that had predetermined a
result which her remarkable loveliness of person and disposition
would alone have accounted for. It was quite inevitable that she
should have come to seem to me, in a sense quite different from
the usual experience of lovers, the only woman in this world.
Now that I had become suddenly sensible of the fatuity of the
hopes I had begun to cherish, I suffered not merely what another
lover might, but in addition a desolate loneliness, an utter
forlornness, such as no other lover, however unhappy, could have

My hosts evidently saw that I was depressed in spirits, and did
their best to divert me. Edith especially, I could see, was
distressed for me, but according to the usual perversity of lovers,
having once been so mad as to dream of receiving something
more from her, there was no longer any virtue for me in a
kindness that I knew was only sympathy.

Toward nightfall, after secluding myself in my room most of
the afternoon, I went into the garden to walk about. The day
was overcast, with an autumnal flavor in the warm, still air.
Finding myself near the excavation, I entered the subterranean
chamber and sat down there. "This," I muttered to myself, "is
the only home I have. Let me stay here, and not go forth any
more." Seeking aid from the familiar surroundings, I endeavored
to find a sad sort of consolation in reviving the past and
summoning up the forms and faces that were about me in my
former life. It was in vain. There was no longer any life in them.
For nearly one hundred years the stars had been looking down
on Edith Bartlett's grave, and the graves of all my generation.

The past was dead, crushed beneath a century's weight, and
from the present I was shut out. There was no place for me
anywhere. I was neither dead nor properly alive.

"Forgive me for following you."

I looked up. Edith stood in the door of the subterranean
room, regarding me smilingly, but with eyes full of sympathetic

"Send me away if I am intruding on you," she said; "but we
saw that you were out of spirits, and you know you promised to
let me know if that were so. You have not kept your word."

I rose and came to the door, trying to smile, but making, I
fancy, rather sorry work of it, for the sight of her loveliness
brought home to me the more poignantly the cause of my

"I was feeling a little lonely, that is all," I said. "Has it never
occurred to you that my position is so much more utterly alone
than any human being's ever was before that a new word is really
needed to describe it?"

"Oh, you must not talk that way--you must not let yourself
feel that way--you must not!" she exclaimed, with moistened
eyes. "Are we not your friends? It is your own fault if you will
not let us be. You need not be lonely."

"You are good to me beyond my power of understanding," I
said, "but don't you suppose that I know it is pity merely, sweet
pity, but pity only. I should be a fool not to know that I cannot
seem to you as other men of your own generation do, but as
some strange uncanny being, a stranded creature of an unknown
sea, whose forlornness touches your compassion despite its
grotesqueness. I have been so foolish, you were so kind, as to
almost forget that this must needs be so, and to fancy I might in
time become naturalized, as we used to say, in this age, so as to
feel like one of you and to seem to you like the other men about
you. But Mr. Barton's sermon taught me how vain such a fancy
is, how great the gulf between us must seem to you."

"Oh that miserable sermon!" she exclaimed, fairly crying now
in her sympathy, "I wanted you not to hear it. What does he
know of you? He has read in old musty books about your times,
that is all. What do you care about him, to let yourself be vexed
by anything he said? Isn't it anything to you, that we who know
you feel differently? Don't you care more about what we think of
you than what he does who never saw you? Oh, Mr. West! you
don't know, you can't think, how it makes me feel to see you so
forlorn. I can't have it so. What can I say to you? How can I
convince you how different our feeling for you is from what you

As before, in that other crisis of my fate when she had come
to me, she extended her hands toward me in a gesture of
helpfulness, and, as then, I caught and held them in my own;
her bosom heaved with strong emotion, and little tremors in the
fingers which I clasped emphasized the depth of her feeling. In
her face, pity contended in a sort of divine spite against the
obstacles which reduced it to impotence. Womanly compassion
surely never wore a guise more lovely.

Such beauty and such goodness quite melted me, and it
seemed that the only fitting response I could make was to tell
her just the truth. Of course I had not a spark of hope, but on
the other hand I had no fear that she would be angry. She was
too pitiful for that. So I said presently, "It is very ungrateful in
me not to be satisfied with such kindness as you have shown me,
and are showing me now. But are you so blind as not to see why
they are not enough to make me happy? Don't you see that it is
because I have been mad enough to love you?"

At my last words she blushed deeply and her eyes fell before
mine, but she made no effort to withdraw her hands from my
clasp. For some moments she stood so, panting a little. Then
blushing deeper than ever, but with a dazzling smile, she looked

"Are you sure it is not you who are blind?" she said.

That was all, but it was enough, for it told me that, unaccountable,
incredible as it was, this radiant daughter of a golden
age had bestowed upon me not alone her pity, but her love. Still,
I half believed I must be under some blissful hallucination even
as I clasped her in my arms. "If I am beside myself," I cried, "let
me remain so."

"It is I whom you must think beside myself," she panted,
escaping from my arms when I had barely tasted the sweetness
of her lips. "Oh! oh! what must you think of me almost to throw
myself in the arms of one I have known but a week? I did not
mean that you should find it out so soon, but I was so sorry for
you I forgot what I was saying. No, no; you must not touch me
again till you know who I am. After that, sir, you shall apologize
to me very humbly for thinking, as I know you do, that I have
been over quick to fall in love with you. After you know who I
am, you will be bound to confess that it was nothing less than my
duty to fall in love with you at first sight, and that no girl of
proper feeling in my place could do otherwise."

As may be supposed, I would have been quite content to
waive explanations, but Edith was resolute that there should be
no more kisses until she had been vindicated from all suspicion
of precipitancy in the bestowal of her affections, and I was fain
to follow the lovely enigma into the house. Having come where
her mother was, she blushingly whispered something in her ear
and ran away, leaving us together.

It then appeared that, strange as my experience had been, I
was now first to know what was perhaps its strangest feature.
From Mrs. Leete I learned that Edith was the great-granddaughter
of no other than my lost love, Edith Bartlett. After mourning
me for fourteen years, she had made a marriage of esteem, and
left a son who had been Mrs. Leete's father. Mrs. Leete had
never seen her grandmother, but had heard much of her, and,
when her daughter was born, gave her the name of Edith. This
fact might have tended to increase the interest which the girl
took, as she grew up, in all that concerned her ancestress, and
especially the tragic story of the supposed death of the lover,
whose wife she expected to be, in the conflagration of his house.
It was a tale well calculated to touch the sympathy of a romantic
girl, and the fact that the blood of the unfortunate heroine was
in her own veins naturally heightened Edith's interest in it. A
portrait of Edith Bartlett and some of her papers, including a
packet of my own letters, were among the family heirlooms. The
picture represented a very beautiful young woman about whom
it was easy to imagine all manner of tender and romantic things.
My letters gave Edith some material for forming a distinct idea
of my personality, and both together sufficed to make the sad old
story very real to her. She used to tell her parents, half jestingly,
that she would never marry till she found a lover like Julian
West, and there were none such nowadays.

Now all this, of course, was merely the daydreaming of a girl
whose mind had never been taken up by a love affair of her own,
and would have had no serious consequence but for the discovery
that morning of the buried vault in her father's garden and
the revelation of the identity of its inmate. For when the apparently
lifeless form had been borne into the house, the face in the
locket found upon the breast was instantly recognized as that of
Edith Bartlett, and by that fact, taken in connection with the
other circumstances, they knew that I was no other than Julian
West. Even had there been no thought, as at first there was not,
of my resuscitation, Mrs. Leete said she believed that this event
would have affected her daughter in a critical and life-long
manner. The presumption of some subtle ordering of destiny,
involving her fate with mine, would under all circumstances
have possessed an irresistible fascination for almost any woman.

Whether when I came back to life a few hours afterward, and
from the first seemed to turn to her with a peculiar dependence
and to find a special solace in her company, she had been too
quick in giving her love at the first sign of mine, I could now,
her mother said, judge for myself. If I thought so, I must
remember that this, after all, was the twentieth and not the
nineteenth century, and love was, no doubt, now quicker in
growth, as well as franker in utterance than then.

From Mrs. Leete I went to Edith. When I found her, it was
first of all to take her by both hands and stand a long time in
rapt contemplation of her face. As I gazed, the memory of that
other Edith, which had been affected as with a benumbing
shock by the tremendous experience that had parted us, revived,
and my heart was dissolved with tender and pitiful emotions,
but also very blissful ones. For she who brought to me so
poignantly the sense of my loss was to make that loss good. It
was as if from her eyes Edith Bartlett looked into mine, and
smiled consolation to me. My fate was not alone the strangest,
but the most fortunate that ever befell a man. A double miracle
had been wrought for me. I had not been stranded upon the
shore of this strange world to find myself alone and companionless.
My love, whom I had dreamed lost, had been reembodied
for my consolation. When at last, in an ecstasy of gratitude
and tenderness, I folded the lovely girl in my arms, the
two Ediths were blended in my thought, nor have they ever
since been clearly distinguished. I was not long in finding that
on Edith's part there was a corresponding confusion of identities.
Never, surely, was there between freshly united lovers a
stranger talk than ours that afternoon. She seemed more anxious
to have me speak of Edith Bartlett than of herself, of how I had
loved her than how I loved herself, rewarding my fond words
concerning another woman with tears and tender smiles and
pressures of the hand.

"You must not love me too much for myself," she said. "I
shall be very jealous for her. I shall not let you forget her. I am
going to tell you something which you may think strange. Do
you not believe that spirits sometimes come back to the world to
fulfill some work that lay near their hearts? What if I were to
tell you that I have sometimes thought that her spirit lives in
me--that Edith Bartlett, not Edith Leete, is my real name. I
cannot know it; of course none of us can know who we really are;
but I can feel it. Can you wonder that I have such a feeling,
seeing how my life was affected by her and by you, even before
you came. So you see you need not trouble to love me at all, if
only you are true to her. I shall not be likely to be jealous."

Dr. Leete had gone out that afternoon, and I did not have an
interview with him till later. He was not, apparently, wholly
unprepared for the intelligence I conveyed, and shook my hand

"Under any ordinary circumstances, Mr. West, I should say
that this step had been taken on rather short acquaintance; but
these are decidedly not ordinary circumstances. In fairness,
perhaps I ought to tell you," he added smilingly, "that while I
cheerfully consent to the proposed arrangement, you must not
feel too much indebted to me, as I judge my consent is a mere
formality. From the moment the secret of the locket was out, it
had to be, I fancy. Why, bless me, if Edith had not been there
to redeem her great-grandmother's pledge, I really apprehend
that Mrs. Leete's loyalty to me would have suffered a severe

That evening the garden was bathed in moonlight, and till
midnight Edith and I wandered to and fro there, trying to grow
accustomed to our happiness.

"What should I have done if you had not cared for me?" she
exclaimed. "I was afraid you were not going to. What should I
have done then, when I felt I was consecrated to you! As soon as
you came back to life, I was as sure as if she had told me that I
was to be to you what she could not be, but that could only be if
you would let me. Oh, how I wanted to tell you that morning,
when you felt so terribly strange among us, who I was, but dared
not open my lips about that, or let father or mother----"

"That must have been what you would not let your father tell
me!" I exclaimed, referring to the conversation I had overheard
as I came out of my trance.

"Of course it was," Edith laughed. "Did you only just guess
that? Father being only a man, thought that it would make you
feel among friends to tell you who we were. He did not think of
me at all. But mother knew what I meant, and so I had my way.
I could never have looked you in the face if you had known who
I was. It would have been forcing myself on you quite too
boldly. I am afraid you think I did that to-day, as it was. I am
sure I did not mean to, for I know girls were expected to hide
their feelings in your day, and I was dreadfully afraid of shocking
you. Ah me, how hard it must have been for them to have
always had to conceal their love like a fault. Why did they think
it such a shame to love any one till they had been given
permission? It is so odd to think of waiting for permission to fall
in love. Was it because men in those days were angry when girls
loved them? That is not the way women would feel, I am sure,
or men either, I think, now. I don't understand it at all. That
will be one of the curious things about the women of those days
that you will have to explain to me. I don't believe Edith
Bartlett was so foolish as the others."

After sundry ineffectual attempts at parting, she finally insisted
that we must say good night. I was about to imprint upon
her lips the positively last kiss, when she said, with an indescribable

"One thing troubles me. Are you sure that you quite forgive
Edith Bartlett for marrying any one else? The books that have
come down to us make out lovers of your time more jealous than
fond, and that is what makes me ask. It would be a great relief to
me if I could feel sure that you were not in the least jealous of
my great-grandfather for marrying your sweetheart. May I tell
my great-grandmother's picture when I go to my room that you
quite forgive her for proving false to you?"

Will the reader believe it, this coquettish quip, whether the
speaker herself had any idea of it or not, actually touched and
with the touching cured a preposterous ache of something like
jealousy which I had been vaguely conscious of ever since Mrs.
Leete had told me of Edith Bartlett's marriage. Even while I had
been holding Edith Bartlett's great-granddaughter in my arms, I
had not, till this moment, so illogical are some of our feelings,
distinctly realized that but for that marriage I could not have
done so. The absurdity of this frame of mind could only be
equalled by the abruptness with which it dissolved as Edith's
roguish query cleared the fog from my perceptions. I laughed as
I kissed her.

"You may assure her of my entire forgiveness," I said,
"although if it had been any man but your great-grandfather
whom she married, it would have been a very different matter."

On reaching my chamber that night I did not open the
musical telephone that I might be lulled to sleep with soothing
tunes, as had become my habit. For once my thoughts made
better music than even twentieth century orchestras discourse,
and it held me enchanted till well toward morning, when I fell

Chapter 28

It's a little after the time you told me to wake you, sir. You
did not come out of it as quick as common, sir."

The voice was the voice of my man Sawyer. I started bolt
upright in bed and stared around. I was in my underground
chamber. The mellow light of the lamp which always burned in
the room when I occupied it illumined the familiar walls and
furnishings. By my bedside, with the glass of sherry in his hand
which Dr. Pillsbury prescribed on first rousing from a mesmeric
sleep, by way of awakening the torpid physical functions, stood

"Better take this right off, sir," he said, as I stared blankly at
him. "You look kind of flushed like, sir, and you need it."

I tossed off the liquor and began to realize what had happened
to me. It was, of course, very plain. All that about the twentieth
century had been a dream. I had but dreamed of that
enlightened and care-free race of men and their ingeniously
simple institutions, of the glorious new Boston with its domes
and pinnacles, its gardens and fountains, and its universal reign
of comfort. The amiable family which I had learned to know so
well, my genial host and Mentor, Dr. Leete, his wife, and their
daughter, the second and more beauteous Edith, my betrothed
--these, too, had been but figments of a vision.

For a considerable time I remained in the attitude in which
this conviction had come over me, sitting up in bed gazing at
vacancy, absorbed in recalling the scenes and incidents of my
fantastic experience. Sawyer, alarmed at my looks, was meanwhile
anxiously inquiring what was the matter with me. Roused
at length by his importunities to a recognition of my surroundings,
I pulled myself together with an effort and assured the
faithful fellow that I was all right. "I have had an extraordinary
dream, that's all, Sawyer," I said, "a most-ex-traor-dinary-

I dressed in a mechanical way, feeling light-headed and oddly
uncertain of myself, and sat down to the coffee and rolls which
Sawyer was in the habit of providing for my refreshment before I
left the house. The morning newspaper lay by the plate. I took it
up, and my eye fell on the date, May 31, 1887. I had known, of
course, from the moment I opened my eyes that my long and
detailed experience in another century had been a dream, and
yet it was startling to have it so conclusively demonstrated that
the world was but a few hours older than when I had lain down
to sleep.

Glancing at the table of contents at the head of the paper,
which reviewed the news of the morning, I read the following

FOREIGN AFFAIRS.--The impending war between France and
Germany. The French Chambers asked for new military credits
to meet Germany's increase of her army. Probability that all
Europe will be involved in case of war.--Great suffering among
the unemployed in London. They demand work. Monster demonstration
to be made. The authorities uneasy.--Great strikes in
Belgium. The government preparing to repress outbreaks. Shocking
facts in regard to the employment of girls in Belgium coal
mines.--Wholesale evictions in Ireland.

"HOME AFFAIRS.--The epidemic of fraud unchecked. Embezzlement
of half a million in New York.--Misappropriation of a
trust fund by executors. Orphans left penniless.--Clever system
of thefts by a bank teller; $50,000 gone.--The coal barons decide
to advance the price of coal and reduce production.--
Speculators engineering a great wheat corner at Chicago.--A
clique forcing up the price of coffee.--Enormous land-grabs of
Western syndicates.--Revelations of shocking corruption among
Chicago officials. Systematic bribery.--The trials of the Boodle
aldermen to go on at New York.--Large failures of business
houses. Fears of a business crisis.--A large grist of burglaries and
larcenies.--A woman murdered in cold blood for her money at
New Haven.--A householder shot by a burglar in this city last
night.--A man shoots himself in Worcester because he could
not get work. A large family left destitute.--An aged couple in
New Jersey commit suicide rather than go to the poor-house.--
Pitiable destitution among the women wage-workers in the great
cities.--Startling growth of illiteracy in Massachusetts.--More
insane asylums wanted.--Decoration Day addresses. Professor
Brown's oration on the moral grandeur of nineteenth century

It was indeed the nineteenth century to which I had awaked;
there could be no kind of doubt about that. Its complete
microcosm this summary of the day's news had presented, even
to that last unmistakable touch of fatuous self-complacency.
Coming after such a damning indictment of the age as that one
day's chronicle of world-wide bloodshed, greed, and tyranny, was
a bit of cynicism worthy of Mephistopheles, and yet of all whose
eyes it had met this morning I was, perhaps, the only one who
perceived the cynicism, and but yesterday I should have perceived
it no more than the others. That strange dream it was
which had made all the difference. For I know not how long, I
forgot my surroundings after this, and was again in fancy moving
in that vivid dream-world, in that glorious city, with its homes of
simple comfort and its gorgeous public palaces. Around me were
again faces unmarred by arrogance or servility, by envy or greed,
by anxious care or feverish ambition, and stately forms of men
and women who had never known fear of a fellow man or
depended on his favor, but always, in the words of that sermon
which still rang in my ears, had "stood up straight before God."

With a profound sigh and a sense of irreparable loss, not the
less poignant that it was a loss of what had never really been, I
roused at last from my reverie, and soon after left the house.

A dozen times between my door and Washington Street I had
to stop and pull myself together, such power had been in that
vision of the Boston of the future to make the real Boston
strange. The squalor and malodorousness of the town struck me,
from the moment I stood upon the street, as facts I had never
before observed. But yesterday, moreover, it had seemed quite a
matter of course that some of my fellow-citizens should wear
silks, and others rags, that some should look well fed, and others
hungry. Now on the contrary the glaring disparities in the dress
and condition of the men and women who brushed each other
on the sidewalks shocked me at every step, and yet more the
entire indifference which the prosperous showed to the plight of
the unfortunate. Were these human beings, who could behold
the wretchedness of their fellows without so much as a change of
countenance? And yet, all the while, I knew well that it was I
who had changed, and not my contemporaries. I had dreamed of
a city whose people fared all alike as children of one family and
were one another's keepers in all things.

Another feature of the real Boston, which assumed the
extraordinary effect of strangeness that marks familiar things
seen in a new light, was the prevalence of advertising. There had
been no personal advertising in the Boston of the twentieth
century, because there was no need of any, but here the walls of
the buildings, the windows, the broadsides of the newspapers in
every hand, the very pavements, everything in fact in sight, save
the sky, were covered with the appeals of individuals who
sought, under innumerable pretexts, to attract the contributions
of others to their support. However the wording might vary, the
tenor of all these appeals was the same:

"Help John Jones. Never mind the rest. They are frauds. I,
John Jones, am the right one. Buy of me. Employ me. Visit me.
Hear me, John Jones. Look at me. Make no mistake, John Jones
is the man and nobody else. Let the rest starve, but for God's
sake remember John Jones!"

Whether the pathos or the moral repulsiveness of the spectacle
most impressed me, so suddenly become a stranger in my
own city, I know not. Wretched men, I was moved to cry, who,
because they will not learn to be helpers of one another, are
doomed to be beggars of one another from the least to the
greatest! This horrible babel of shameless self-assertion and
mutual depreciation, this stunning clamor of conflicting boasts,
appeals, and adjurations, this stupendous system of brazen
beggary, what was it all but the necessity of a society in which
the opportunity to serve the world according to his gifts, instead
of being secured to every man as the first object of social
organization, had to be fought for!

I reached Washington Street at the busiest point, and there I
stood and laughed aloud, to the scandal of the passers-by. For
my life I could not have helped it, with such a mad humor was I
moved at sight of the interminable rows of stores on either side,
up and down the street so far as I could see--scores of them, to
make the spectacle more utterly preposterous, within a stone's
throw devoted to selling the same sort of goods. Stores! stores!
stores! miles of stores! ten thousand stores to distribute the
goods needed by this one city, which in my dream had been
supplied with all things from a single warehouse, as they were
ordered through one great store in every quarter, where the
buyer, without waste of time or labor, found under one roof the
world's assortment in whatever line he desired. There the labor
of distribution had been so slight as to add but a scarcely
perceptible fraction to the cost of commodities to the user. The
cost of production was virtually all he paid. But here the mere
distribution of the goods, their handling alone, added a fourth, a
third, a half and more, to the cost. All these ten thousand plants
must be paid for, their rent, their staffs of superintendence, their
platoons of salesmen, their ten thousand sets of accountants,
jobbers, and business dependents, with all they spent in advertising
themselves and fighting one another, and the consumers
must do the paying. What a famous process for beggaring a

Were these serious men I saw about me, or children, who did
their business on such a plan? Could they be reasoning beings,
who did not see the folly which, when the product is made and
ready for use, wastes so much of it in getting it to the user? If
people eat with a spoon that leaks half its contents between bowl
and lip, are they not likely to go hungry?

I had passed through Washington Street thousands of times
before and viewed the ways of those who sold merchandise, but
my curiosity concerning them was as if I had never gone by their
way before. I took wondering note of the show windows of the
stores, filled with goods arranged with a wealth of pains and
artistic device to attract the eye. I saw the throngs of ladies
looking in, and the proprietors eagerly watching the effect of the
bait. I went within and noted the hawk-eyed floor-walker watching
for business, overlooking the clerks, keeping them up to their
task of inducing the customers to buy, buy, buy, for money if
they had it, for credit if they had it not, to buy what they
wanted not, more than they wanted, what they could not afford.
At times I momentarily lost the clue and was confused by the
sight. Why this effort to induce people to buy? Surely that had
nothing to do with the legitimate business of distributing

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