We have made up our minds to live in a world not where the wicked will feel that their necks are going to be jumped on (which is really a rather interesting and prominent feeling on the whole), but a world where the wicked will be made to feel that nobody notices their necks, that they are not worth being jumped on, a world where nobody will have time to go out back and jump on them, a world where the wicked will not be able to think of anything important to do, and where the wicked things that are left to do will be so small and so stupid that nobody will notice. They will be ignored like boys with catcalls in the street. When we can make people who do wrong feel unimportant enough, there is going to be some chance for the good.
If we could find some sweet, proper, gentle, Christian-looking way of conveying to these people for a few swift, keen minutes how little difference it makes when they and people like them do wrong, they would steal over in a body and do right.
This is our program. We are making preliminary arrangements for a world in which after this, very soon now, righteousness is going to attend strictly to its own business and unrighteousness is going to be crowded out. No one will feel that he has time in two or three hundred years from now to go out of his way into some obscure corner of the world and jump on the necks of the wicked.
But this is a matter of form. The main fundamental manful instinct David had—the idea that there should not be any more people dying on crosses than could be helped—that collective society should take hold of Evil and set it down hard in its chair and make it cry seems to many of us absolutely sound. Of course, we feel that it is not for us, those who love righteousness, to jump on the necks of the wicked. We prefer to have it attended to in a more dignified, impersonal way by Society as a whole. So we believe that Society should proceed to making goodness and honesty pay. If Society will not do it we will do it. The world may be against us at first but we will at least clear off a small place on it—in our own business for instance—where our goodness can command the most shrewdness and the most technique—and we will do what we can slowly—one industry at a time, to remove the slander on goodness that goodness is not inefficient, and the slander on the world that goodness cannot be self-supporting, self-respecting (and without disgrace), even comfortable in it.
The old hymn with which many of us are familiar is well and true enough. But it does not seem that standing up for Jesus is the most important point in the world just now. A great many people are doing it. What we need more is people who will stand up for the world. When people who are standing up for the world stand and sing "Stand up for Jesus" it will begin to count. Let four hundred Nons sing it; and we will all go to church.
If nine of the people out of ten who are singing "Stand up for Jesus" would stand up for the world, that is, if they would stop trading with their grocer when they find he slides in regularly one bad orange out of twelve and promptly look up a grocer who does not do such things, and trade with him, it would not be necessary for people to do as they so often do nowadays, fall back on a little wistful half discouraged last resort like "standing up for Jesus."
Standing up for the world means standing by men who believe in it, standing by men who make everything they do in business a declaration of their faith in God and their faith in the credit of human nature, men who put up money daily in their advertising, their buying and selling, on the loyalty, common sense, brains, courage, goodness, and righteous indignation of the people.
The idea that goodness is sweet and helpless and that Jesus was meek and lowly and has to be stood up for is now and always has been a slander. It does not seem to some of us that He would want to be stood up for and we do not like the way some people call Him meek and lowly. It would be more true to say that He merely looks meek and lowly; that is, if most men had done or not done or had said or not said things in the way he did, they would have been considered meek and lowly for it. He had a way of using a soft answer to turn away wrath. But there was not anything really meek and lowly about his giving the soft answer. No meek and lowly man would ever have thought of such a thing as turning away wrath with a soft answer. He would have been afraid of looking weak. He would not have had the energy or the honesty or the spiritual address to know or to think of a soft answer that would do it.
The spirit of fighting evil with good—a kind of glorious self-will for goodness, for doing a thing the higher and nobler way and making it work, the spirit of successful implacably efficient righteousness is the last and most modern interpretation of the New Testament, the crowd's latest cry to its God. Crowds will always crucify and crosses will never go by. But we are going to have a higher ideal for crosses. We are not going (out of sheer shame for the world), to think seriously any longer of dying on a cross, or letting any one else die on one for a little rudimentary platitude, a quiet, sensible, everyday business motto for any competent business man like "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
IS IT WRONG FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
We are having and are about to have notably and truly successful men who have the humility and faithfulness, the spiritual distinction of true and great success.
I want to interpret, if I can, these men. I would like to put with the great martyrs, with the immortal heroes of failure, these modern silent, unspoken, unsung mighty men, the heroes of success. I look forward to seeing them placed among the trophies of religion, in the heart of mankind at last.
I cannot stand by and watch these men being looked upon by good people as men the New Testament made no room for, secretly disapproved of by religious men and women, as being successes, as being little, noisy, disturbing, contradictions of the New Testament as talking back to the Cross.
These things I have been trying to say about the Cross as a means of expressing goodness to crowds have brought me as time goes on into close quarters with many men to whom I pay grateful tribute, men of high spirit, who strenuously disagree with me.
I am not content unless I can find common ground with men like these.
They are wont to tell me when we argue about it that whatever I may be able to say for success as a means of touching the imaginations of crowds with goodness, great or attractive or enthralling characters are not produced by success. Success does not produce great characters. It is now and always has been failure that develops the characters of the men who a truly great.
Perhaps failure is not the only way.
* * * * *
When I was talking with —— a little while ago about Non-Gregarious's goodness and how it succeeded, he was afraid that if his goodness succeeded there must have been something the matter with it.
I could see that he was wondering what it was.
Non's success troubled him. He did not think it was exactly religious. "Real religion" he said, "was self-sacrifice. There always had to be something of the Cross about real religion."
I said that Non's religion was touched at every point with the Cross.
It seemed to me that it was the spirit of eagerness in it that was the great thing about the Cross. If Non would all but have died to make the Golden Rule work in this world, if he daily faced ruin and risked the loss of everything he had in this life to prove that the Golden Rule was a success, that is if he really had a Cross and if he really faced it—dying on it, or not dying on it, could not have made him one whit more religious or less religious than he was. What Non was willing to die for, was his belief in the world, and scores of good Christian people tried in those early days of his business struggle to keep him from believing in the world. There was hardly a day at first but some good Christian would step into Non's office and tell him the world would make him suffer for it if he kept on recklessly believing in it and doing all those unexpected, unconventional, honest things that somehow, apparently, he could not help doing.
They all told him he could not succeed. They said he was a failure. He would suffer for it.
I would like to express if I can, what seems to be Non's point of view toward success and failure.
If Non were trying to express his idea of the suffering of Christ, I imagine he would say that in the hardest time of all when his body was hanging on the Cross, the thing that was really troubling Christ was not that he was being killed. The thing that was troubling him was that the world really seemed, at least for the time being, the sort of world that could do such things. He did not take his own cross too personally or too literally as the world's permanent or fixed attitude toward goodness or every degree of goodness. There was a sense in which he did not believe except temporarily in his own cross. He did not think that the world meant it or that it would ever own up that it meant it.
Probably if we had crosses to-day the hard part of dying on one would be, not dying on it, but thinking while one was dying on it that one was in the sort of world that could do such things.
It is Non's religion not to believe every morning as he goes down to his office that he is in a mean world, a world that would want to crucify him for doing his work as well as he could.
Perhaps this was the spirit of the first Cross, too. We have every reason to believe that if Christ could have come back in the flesh three days after the crucifixion and lived thirty-three years longer in it, he would have occupied himself exclusively in standing up for the world that had crucified him, in saying that it was a small party in a small province that did it, that it was temporary and that they did it because they were in a hurry.
It was not Christ, but the comparatively faint-believing, worldly minded saints that have enjoyed dying on crosses since, who have been proud of being martyrs.
Among those who have tried the martyr way of doing things Jesus is almost the only one who has not in his heart abused the world. Most martyrs have made a kind of religion out of not expecting anything of it and of trying to get out of it. "And ye, all ye people, are ye suitable or possible people for me to be religious with?" the typical martyr exclaims to all the cities, to all the inventors, to the scientists and to the earth-redeemers, to his neighbours and his fellow men. It was not until science in the person of Galileo came to the rescue of Christianity and began slowly to bring it back to where Christ started it—as a noble, happy enterprise of standing up for this world and of asserting that these men who were in it are good enough to be religious here and to be the sons of God now—that Christianity began to function. Religion has been making apparently a side trip for nearly twelve hundred years, a side trip into space or into the air or into the grave for holiness for the eternal, and for the infinite.
Doubtless very often people on crosses really have been holier than the people who knew how to be good without being crucified. Sometimes it has been the other way. It would have been just as holy in Non to make the gospel work in New York as to make a blaze, a show or advertisement of how wicked the world was, and of how inefficient the gospel was—by going into insolvency.
He has had his cross, but instead of dying on it, he has taken it up and carried it. Scores of risks and difficulties that he has grappled with would have become crosses at once if equally good, but less resourceful men, had had them. Letting one's self be threatened with the cross a thousand times is quite as brave as dying on one once. The spirit, or at least the shadow, of a cross must always fall daily on any life that is stretching the world, that is freeing the lives of other men against their wills. The whole issue of whether there will be a cross or the threat of a cross turns on a man's insight into human nature and his quiet and practical imagination concentrated upon his work.
Not dying on a cross is a matter of technique. One sees how not to, and one does not. It might be said that the world has two kinds of redeemers, its cross-redeemers and its success-redeemers. The very best are on crosses, many of them. Perhaps in the development of the truth the cross-redeemers come first; they are the pioneers. Then come the success-redeemers, then everybody!
IS IT SECOND RATE FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
Of course the most stupendous success that has ever been made—the world's most successful undertaking from a technical point of view as an adaptation of means to ends was the attempt that was made by a man in Galilee years and years ago to get not only the attention of a whole world, but to get the attention of a whole world for two thousand years.
This purpose of arresting the attention of a world and of holding it for two thousand years was accomplished by the use of success and of failure alternately.
Christ tried success or failure according to which method (time and place considered) would seem to work best.
His first success was with the doctors.
His next success was based on His instinct for psychology, His power of divining people's minds, which made possible to Him those extraordinary feats in the way of telling short stories that would arrest and hold the attention of crowds so that they would think and live with them for weeks to come.
His next success was a success based on the power of His personality, and His knowledge of the human spirit and his victory over His own spirit—his success in curing people's diseases and His extraordinary roll of miracles.
He finally tried failure at the end, or what looked like failure, because the Cross completed what he had had to say.
It made His success seem greater.
The world had put to death the man who had had such great successes.
People thought of His successes when they thought of Him on the Cross, and they have kept thinking of them for thousands of years.
But the Cross itself, or the use of failure was a sowing of the seed, a taking the truth out of the light and the sunshine and putting it in the dark ground.
The Cross was promptly contradicted with the Resurrection. All this, it seems to some of us, is the most stupendous and successful undertaking from a purely technical point of view that the world has seen. In the last analysis it was not His ideas or His character merely, but it was His technique that made Christ the Son of God and the Master of the Nations of the Earth.
* * * * *
I think that while Christ would not have understood Frederick Taylor's technique, his tables of figures or foot-tons or logarithms he would have understood Frederick Taylor.
Nearly all the time that could be said to have been spent in his life in dealing with other men he spent in doing for them on a nobler scale the thing that Frederick Taylor did. He went up to men—to hundreds of men a day, that he saw humdrumming along, despising themselves and despising their work and expecting nothing of themselves and nothing of any one else and asked them to put their lives in his hands and let him show what could be done with them.
This is Frederick Taylor's profession.
The Sermon on the Mount began with telling people that they would be successful if they knew how—if they had a vision. It proceeded to give them the vision. It began with giving them a vision for the things that they had, told them how even the very things that they had always thought before were what was the matter with the world they could make a great use of. "Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those that hunger; blessed are the meek."
And He then went on to tell them how much finer, and nobler and more free from the cares and weights of this earth they could be if they wanted to be, than they had dared to believe. He told the people who were around Him bigger things about human nature, how successful it was or could be than any one had ever claimed for people in this world before. They put Him up on a Cross at last and crucified Him because they thought He was too hopeful about them, and about human nature or because, as they would have put it, He was blasphemous and said every man was a Son of God.
As human nature then was and in the then spirit of the world, no better means than a Cross could have been employed to get the attention of all men, to make a two thousand year advertisement for all nations of what a success human nature was, of what men really could be like.
But I think that if Christ were to come to us again and if he were to try to get the attention of the whole world once more to precisely the same ideas and principles that he stood for before, the enterprise would be conducted in a very different manner.
There is a picture of Albert Durer's which hangs near my desk, and once more as I write these lines my eyes have fallen on it. It is the familiar one with the lion and the lamb in it, lying down together, and with the big room with the implements of knowledge scattered about in it and at the other end in the window at the table with a book, an old, bent-over scientist with a halo over his head.
If Christ were to appear suddenly in this modern world to-morrow, the first thing He would see and would go toward, would be the halo over the scientist's head.
There is nothing especially picturesque or religious looking, nothing, at least, that could be put in a stained-glass window in Frederick Taylor's tables and charts and diagrams of the number of foot-tons a pig-iron handler can lift with his arms in a day.
But if Christ returned to the world to-morrow and if what He wanted to do to-morrow was to get the universal, profound, convinced attention of all men to the Golden Rule, I believe He would begin the way Frederick Taylor did, by—being concrete. If He wanted to get men in general, men in business, to love one another He would begin by trying to work out some technical, practical way in which certain particular men in a certain particular place could afford to love one another.
He would find a practical way for instance for the employers and pig-iron handlers in the Midvale Steel Works to come to some sort of common understanding and to work cheerfully and with a free spirit together. I think he would proceed very much in the way that Frederick Taylor did.
He would not say much about the Golden Rule. He would give each man a vision for his work, and of the way it lapped over into other men's work and leave the Golden Rule a chance to take care of itself. This is all the Golden Rule, as a truth or as a remark needs just now.
For two thousand years men have devoted themselves Sunday day after Sunday to saying over and over again that men should love one another. The idea is a perfectly familiar one. When Christ said it two thousand years ago, it was so original and so sensational that just of itself and as a mere remark it had a carrying power over the whole earth.
Everybody believes it now—that it is a true remark—but like a score of other remarks that have been made and some of the noblest Christ made, is it not possible that it has long since in its mere capacity of being a remark, gone by? There is no one who has not heard about our loving one another. The remark we want now is how we can do it. This is the remark that Mr. Frederick Taylor has made. It is not very eloquent. It is a mere statement of fact. It has taken him nearly thirty-three years to make it.
The gist of it is that for thirty-three years, the employers and the pig-iron handlers in the Midvale Steel Works, Pennsylvania, have been devoted to one another and to one another's interests and acting all day every day as if of course their interests were the same, and it has been found that employees when their employers cooeperated with them could lift forty-seven tons instead of twelve and a half a day, and were getting 60 per cent. more wages.
Everybody listens. Everybody sees at a glance that when it comes to making remarks about doing as one would be done by, this is the one remark that we have all been waiting to hear some one make for two thousand years.
* * * * *
The Cross or the last-resort type of religion was as far as St. Augustine or St. Francis in their world could get. It was all that the Middle Ages were ready for or that could be claimed for people who had to live in ages without a printing press, in which no one in the crowd could expect to know anything and in which there were no ways of letting crowds know things.
To-day there is no reason why the Cross as a contrivance for attracting the attention of all people to goodness should be exclusively relied upon.
Possibly the Cross was intended, at the time, as the best possible way of starting a religion, when there was none, or possibly for keeping it up when there was very little of it.
But now that Christianity has been occupied two thousand years in putting in the groundwork, in laying down the principles of success, and in organizing them into the world, has been slowly making it possible with crowds that could not be long deceived for success to be decent. The leaven has worked into human nature and Christianity has produced The Successful Temperament.
Success has become a spiritual institution. In other words, the hour of the Scientist, of the man with a technique, of the man who sees how, the man of The Successful Temperament is at hand.
Everything we plan for the world, including goodness, from this day—must reckon with him—with the Man Who Sees How.
THE SUCCESSFUL TEMPERAMENT
I also, Gentle Reader, have despised and do despise "success."
I also have stood, like you, perhaps, and I am standing now in that ancient, outer court, where I can keep seeing every day The Little Great Men with all their funny trappings on,—their hoods, and their ribbons, and their train-bearers, drive up before us all and go in to The Great Door. I have gone by in the night and have heard the buzz of their voices there. I have looked, like you, up at the great lighted windows of Prosperity from the street.
And in the broad daylight I have seen them too. I have stood on the curb in the public way with all the others and watched silently the parade of The Little Great go by.
I have waited like you, Gentle Reader, and smiled or I have turned on my heel sadly, or wearily or bitterly or gayly and walked away down my own side street of the world and with the huzzahs of the crowd echoing faintly in my ears have gone my way.
But I keep coming back to the curb again.
I keep coming back because, every now and then among all the gilt carriages and the bowing faces in them, or among all the big yellow vans or cages with the great beasts of success in them, the literary foxes, the journalist-juggernauts, the Jack Johnsons of finance, the contented, gurgling, wallowing millionaires—I cannot help standing once more and looking among them, for one, or for possibly two, or three or four who may be truly successful men. Some of them are merely successful-looking. I often find as I see them more closely, that they are undeceived, or humble, or are at least not being any more successful-looking than they can help, and are trying to do better.
They are the men who have defied success to succeed and who will defy it again and again.
They are the great men.
The great man is the man who can get himself made and who will get himself made out of anything he finds at hand.
If success cannot do it, he makes failure do it. If he cannot make success express the greatness or the vision that is in him, he makes failure express it.
But this book is not about great men and goodness. It is about touching the imagination of crowds with goodness, about making goodness democratic and making goodness available for common people.
* * * * *
A stupendous success in goodness will advertise it as well as a stupendous failure.
Goodness has had its cross-redeemers to attract the attention of half a world.
Possibly it is having now its success-redeemers to attract the attention of the other half.
The people the success-redeemers reach would turn out to be, possibly, very much more than half.
The Cross, as a means of getting the attention of crowds, or of the more common people in our modern, practical-minded Western world, was apparently adapted to its purpose as long as it was used for church purposes or as long as it was kept dramatic or sensational or remote, or as long as it was a cross for some one else, but as a means of attracting the attention of crowds of ordinary men and women to goodness in common everyday things, it is very doubtful if failure—in the power of steady daily pulling on men's minds, has done as much for goodness as success.
It is doubtful if, except as an ideal or conventional symbol the cross has ever been or ever could be what might be called a spiritually middle-class institution. It has been reserved for men of genius, pioneers and world-designers to have those colossal and glorious crosses that have been worshipped in all ages, and must be worshipped in all ages as the great memorials of the human race.
But the more common and numerous types of men, the men who do not design worlds, but who execute them, build them, who carry the new designs of goodness out, who work through the details and conceive the technique of goodness are men in whom the spiritual and religious power takes the natural form of success.
It seems to be the nature of the modern and the western type of man to challenge fatalism, to defy a cross. He would almost boast that nobody could make him die on it. This spirit in men too is a religious spirit. It is the next hail of goodness. Goodness posts up its next huge notice on the world:
It is going to make the more rudimentary everyday people notice it, and it is going to make them notice it in everyday things. It does not admit that goodness is merely for the spiritual aristocrats for those greater souls that can search out and appreciate the spiritual values in failure.
It believes that goodness is for crowds. It has discovered that crosses, to common people in common things, seem oriental and mystical. The common people of the western world instead of being born with dreamy imaginations are born with pointed and applied ones. It is not impossible that the comparative failure of the Christian religion in the western world and in the later generations is that it has been trying to be oriental and aristocratic in appealing to what is really a new type of man in the world—the scientific and practical type as we see it in the western nations all about us to-day.
We can die on crosses in our Western world as well as any one and we can do it in crowds too as they do in India, but we propose if crosses are expected of us to know why in crowds. Knowing why makes us think of things and makes us do things. It is the keynote of our temperament.
And it is not fair to say of us when we make this distinction that we do not believe in the cross. But there are times when some of us wish that we could get other people to stop believing in it. We would all but die on the cross to get other people to stop dying on one for platitudes, to get them to work their way down to the facts and focus their minds on the practical details of not dying on a cross, of forming a vision of action which will work. It goes without saying that as long as crowds are in the world crosses will not go by, but it is wicked not to make them go by as fast as possible, one by one. They were meant to be moved up higher. We are eager not to die on the same cross for the same thing year after year and century after century. It seems to us that the eagerness that always goes with the cross always was and always will be the essential, powerful and beautiful thing in it.
And it is this new eagerness in the modern spirit, a kind of hurrying up of the souls of the world that is inspiring us to employ our western genius in inventing and defending and applying the means of goodness and in finding ways of making goodness work. We will not admit that men were intended to die on crosses from a sheer, beautiful, heavenly shiftlessness, vague-mindedness, mere unwillingness to take pains to express themselves or unwillingness to think things out and to make things plain to crowds. It does not seem to us that it is wicked to employ success as well as failure, to state our religion to people. It seems to us that it goes naturally with the scientific and technical temperament of the people that we should do this. It is not superior and it is not inferior. It is temperamental and it is based upon the study of the psychology of attention, on a knowledge of what impresses a certain kind of man and of what really is conclusive with crowds and with average men and women. It is the distinctive point of view of the pragmatic temperament, of the inductive mind. The modern mind is interested in facts and cannot make a religion out of not knowing them. There was a time once when people used to take their bodily diseases as acts of God. We have made up our minds not to have these same bodily diseases now. We have discovered by hard work and constant study that they are not necessary. The same is true of our moral diseases and of our great social maladies.
It is going to be the same with crosses. It is a sin and a slander and affront to human nature and to God to die on a cross if it can be helped by hard work and close thinking, or by touching the imaginations of others.
Most of us acting in most things are not good enough to die on crosses. We are not worthy, it would not be humble in us to. Crosses are only reserved for the newest and most rare truths, and for the newest and most rare men. They are still, and they still can be made to be, a means of grace and of perfection to people who have gifts of learning things by suffering, but as a means of making other people and people in crowds see things, the right to use a cross is not for those of us who are merely lumbering spiritually along, trying to catch up to a plain, simple-hearted old platitude, eighteen hundred years late like the Golden Rule. The right to a cross is reserved for those who are up on the higher reaches, those great bleak stretches or moors of truth where men go forth and walk alone with God hundreds of years ahead.
THE MEN AHEAD PULL
Writing a hopeful book about the human race with the New York Sun, Wall Street, Downing Street and Bernard Shaw looking on is uphill work.
Sometimes I wish there were another human race I could refer to when I am writing about this one, one every one knows. The one on Mars, for instance, if one could calmly point to it in the middle of an argument, shut people off with a wave of one's hand and say, "Mars this" and "Mars that" would be convenient.
The trouble with the human race is that when one is talking to it about itself, it thinks it is It.
It is not It yet.
The earth and everything on it is a huge Acorn, tumbling softly through the sky.
Our boasted Christianity (crosses, and resurrections and cathedrals and all) is a Child crying in the night.
* * * * *
It is not necessary for me to prove to the satisfaction of the New York Sun and Bernard Shaw that the Golden Rule has not reached the superior moral stage of being taken as a platitude by all of our people who are engaged in business. It is enough to submit that the most creative and forceful business men—the men who set the pace, the foremen of the world, are taking it so, and that others are trying to be as much like them as they can. Wickedness in this world is not going to stop with a jerk. It is merely being better distributed. Possibly this is all there is to the problem, getting sin better distributed. The Devil has never had a very great outfit or any great weight, but he has always known where to throw it, and he has always done an immense business on a small capital and the only way he has managed to get on at all, is by organizing, and by getting the attention of a few people at the top. Now that the moral sense of the world has become quickened, and that rapid transit and newspapers and science and the fact-spirit have gained their hold, the sins of the world are being rapidly distributed, not so much among the men who determine things as among those who cannot.
Everything is following the fact-spirit. The modern world and everything in it, is falling into the hands of the men who cannot be cheated about facts, who get the facts first and who get them right.
The world cannot help falling, from now on, slowly—a little ponderously perhaps at first—into the hands of good men. To say that the world is falling into the hands of men who cannot be cheated and to say that it is falling into the hands of good men is to say the same thing.
The men who get the things that they want, get them by seeing the things as they are. Goodness and efficiency both boil down to the same quality in the modern man, his faculty for not being a romantic person and for not being cheated.
A good man may be said to be a man who has formed a habit, an intimate personal habit of not being cheated. Everything he does is full of this habit. The sinful man, as he is usually called, is a man who is off in his facts, a man who does not know what he really wants even for himself. In a matter-of-fact civilization like ours, he cannot hope to keep up. If a man can be cheated, even by himself—of course other people can cheat him and everybody can take advantage of him. He naturally grows more incompetent every day he lives. The men who are slow or inefficient in finding out what they really want and slow in dealing with themselves are necessarily inefficient and behind hand in dealing with other people. They cannot be men who determine what other people shall do.
It is true that for the moment, it still seems—now that science has only just come to the rescue of religion, that evil men in a large degree are the men who still are standing in the gate and determining opportunities and letting in and letting out Civilization as they please. But their time is limited.
The fact-spirit is in the people. We enjoy facts. Facts are the modern man's hunting, his adventure and sport. The men who are ahead are getting into a kind of two-and-two-are-four habit that is like music, like rhythm. It becomes almost a passion, almost a self-indulgence in their lives. Being honest with things, having a distaste for being cheated by things, having a distaste for being cheated by one's self and for cheating other people, runs in the blood in modern men. The nations can be seen going round and round the earth and looking one another long and earnestly in the eyes. The poet is turning his imagination upon the world about him and upon the fact that really works in it. The scientific man has taken hold of religion and righteousness is being proved, melted down in the laboratory, welded together before us all and riveted on to the every day, on to what really happens, and on to what really works. Goodness in its baser form already pays. Only the biggest men may have found it out, but everybody is watching them. The most important spiritual service that any man can render the present age is to make goodness pay at the top (in the most noticeable place) in some business where nobody has made it pay before. Anybody can see that it almost pays already, that it pays now here, now there. At all events, anybody can see that it is very noticeable that the part of the world that is most spiritual is not merely the part that is whining or hanging on crosses. It is also the part that is successful. One knows scores of saints with ruddy cheeks. It is getting to be a matter of principle almost in a modern saint—to have ruddy cheeks.
I submit this fact respectfully to Bernard Shaw, Wall Street, Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and even to the New York Sun, that vast machine for laughing at a world down in its snug quarters in Park Row—that the saint with ruddy cheeks is a totally new and disconcerting fact in our modern life. He is the next fact the honest pessimist will have to face.
I submit that this saint with ruddy cheeks is here, that he is lovable, imperturbable, imperious, irrepressible, as interesting as sin, as catching as the Devil and that he has come to stay.
He stays because he is successful and can afford to stay.
He is successful because he is good.
Only religion works.
I am aware that the New York Sun might quarrel with just exactly this way of putting it.
I might put it another way or possibly try to say it again after saying something else first. Viz.: The man who is successful in business is the man who can get people to do as much as they can do and a great deal more than they think they can do.
Only a very lively goodness, almost a religion in a man, can do this. He has to have something in him very like the power of inventing people or of making people over.
To be specific: In some big department stores, as one goes down the aisle, one will see over and over again the clerks making fun of customers.
One by one the customers find it out and the more permanent ones, those who would keep coming and who have the best trade, go to other stores.
How could such a thing be stopped in a department store by a practical employer? Can he stop it successfully by turning on his politeness?
Of course he can make his clerks polite-looking by turning on his politeness. But politeness in a department store does not consist in being polite-looking. Being polite-looking does not work, does not grip the customer or strike in and do things and make the customer do things.
A machine like a department store, made up of twenty-five hundred human beings, which is carving out its will, its nature, stamping its pattern on a city, on a million men, or on a nation, cannot be made to work without religion. If the clerks are making fun of people, only religion can stop it.
Perhaps you have been made fun of yourself, Gentle Reader? You have observed, perhaps, that in making fun of people (making fun of you, for instance), the assumption almost always is, that you are trying to be like the Standard Person, and that this (they look at you pleasantly as you go by) is as near as you can get to it! If an employer wishes to make his clerk an especially valuable clerk, if he wishes to make his clerk an expert in human nature or a good salesman, one who sees a customer when he comes along as he really is, and as he is trying to be, he will only be able to do it by touching something deep down in the clerk's nature, something very like his religion—his power of putting himself in the place of others. He can only do it by making a clerk feel that this power in him of doing as he would be done by, and seeing how to do it, i.e., the religion in him, is what he is hired for.
It is visionary to try to run a great department store, a great machine of twenty-five hundred souls, a machine of human emotions, of five thousand eyes and ears, a huge loom of enthusiasm, of love, hate, covetousness, sorrow, disappointment, and joy without having it full of clerks who are experts in human nature, putting themselves in the place of crowds of other people, clerks who are essentially religious.
So we watch the men who are ahead driving one another into goodness. The man who is not able to create, distribute or turn on, in his business establishment, goodness, social insight, and customer-insight in it, can only hope to-day to keep ahead in business by having competitors as inefficient as he is.
The man who is ahead has discovered himself. Everything the man ahead is doing eight hours a day, is seen at last narrowing him down, cornering him into goodness.
Of course as long as people looked upon goodness as a Sunday affair, a few hours a week put in on it, we were naturally discouraged about it.
It is still a little too fresh looking and it may be still a little too clever for everybody, but slowly, irrevocably, we see it coming. We can look up almost any day and watch some goodness—now—at least one specimen or so, in every branch of business.
We watch daily the men who are ahead, pulling on the goodness of the world and the Crowds pushing on it.
THE CROWDS PUSH
The men who are ahead make goodness start, but it is the crowds that make it irresistible.
The final, slow, long, imperious lift on goodness is the one the crowd gives. Of course, for the most part, modern business is largely done with crowds. Crowds are doing it and crowds are nearly always watching it.
The factory is slower than the department store in being good because the men in it deal with crowds of things and crowds of wheels and not with crowds of people.
All responsible people are forced to be good, with crowds around them, expecting it of them.
Crowds at the very least are a kind of vast, insinuating, penetrating, omnipresent, permeating police force of righteousness.
In a department store, the crowds, twelve thousand a day, are like some huge coil of hose or vacuum cleaner, lying about the place, sucking up, drawing out, and demanding goodness from the clerks. Clerks develop human insight and powers faster in department stores than machinists do in factories because they are exposed to more people and to larger crowds. The stream clears itself.
The last forms of business to yield to the new spirit are to be the lonely ones, the ones where light, air, human emotions, and crowds are shut out.
The lonely forms of business will at last be vitalized and socialized by men of organizing genius, who will invent the equivalent of crowds going by, who will contrive ways of putting a few responsible persons in sight or in a position where they will feel crowds going by their souls, looking into them as if they were shop windows. Crowds can keep track of a few. The crowds will see that these few are the kind of men who will keep track of all.
Crowds in the end will not accept less than the best. With crowds of people and crowds of places and crowds of times we are good. In all things crowds can see or be made to see we are safe. Progress lies in making crowds see through people, making crowds go past them. While they are going past them, they lure their goodness on.
THE MAN WHO SAYS HOW, SAYS HOW
The people who are worried and discouraged about goodness in this world, one finds when one studies them a little, are almost always worried in a kind of general way. They do not worry about anything in particular. Their religion seems to be a kind of good-hearted, pained vagueness.
The religion of the people who never worry at all, the thoughtless optimists, is quite the same too, except that they have a kind of happy, rosy-lighted vagueness instead.
For about two thousand years now, goodness has been in the hands of vague people. Some of them have used their vagueness to cry with softly, and some of them have used it to praise God with and to have many fine, brave, general feelings about God.
I have tried faithfully, speaking for one, to be religious with both of these sets of people.
They make one feel rather lonesome.
If one goes about and takes a grim happiness, a kind of iron joy in seeing how successful a locomotive is, or if one watches a great, worshipful ocean liner with delight, or if, down in New York, one looks up and sees a new skyscraper going slowly up, unfolding into the sky before one, lifting up its gigantic, restless, resistless face to God; there comes to seem to be something about churches and about good people and about the way they have of acting and thinking about goodness and doing things with goodness, that makes one unhappy.
Perhaps one has just come from it and one's soul is filled with the stern, glad singing of a great foundry, of the religious, victorious praising spirit of man, dipping up steel in mighty spoonfuls—the stuff the inside of the earth is made of, and flinging it together into a great network or crust for the planet—into mighty floors or sidewalks all round the earth for cities to tread on and there comes to seem something so successful, so manlike, so godlike about it, about the way these men who do these things do them and do what they set out to do, that when I find myself suddenly, all in a few minutes on a Sunday morning, thrown out of this atmosphere into a Christian church, find myself sitting all still and waiting, with all these good people about me, and when I find them offering me their religion so gravely, so hopefully, it all comes to me with a great rush sometimes—comes to me as out of great deeps of resentment, that religion could possibly be made in a church to seem something so faint, so beautifully weary, so dreamy, and as if it were humming softly, absently to itself.
I wonder in the presence of a Christianity like this whether I am a Christian or not—the quartet choirs, confections, the little, dainty, faintly sweet sermons—it is as if—no I will not say it....
I have this moment crossed the words out before my eyes. It is as if, after all, religion, instead of being as I supposed down at the foundry, the stern and splendid music of man conquering all things for God, were, after all, some huge, sublime and holy vagueness, as if the service and the things I saw about me were not hard true realities—as if going to Church were like sitting in a cloud—some soft musical cloud or floating island of goodness and drifting and drifting....
* * * * *
Not all churches are alike, but I am speaking of something that must have happened to many men. I but record this blank space on this page, as a spiritual fact, as a part of the religious experience of a man trying to be good.
When this little experience of which the words have to be crossed out after going to Church—finally settles down, there is still a grim truth left in it.
The vagueness of the man who is good, who locks himself up in a Church and says, "Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!" and the vigour and incisiveness of the man who says nothing about it and who goes out of doors and acts like a god all the week—these remain with me as a daily and abiding sense.
And when I find myself myself, I, who have gloried in cathedrals since I was a little child, looking ahead for a God upon the earth, and when I see the foundries, the airships, the ocean liners beckoning the soul of man upon the skies, and the victory of the soul over the dust and over the water and over the air and when I see the Cathedrals beside them, those vast, faint, grave, happy, floating islands of the Saved, drifting backward down the years, it does not seem as if I could bear the foundries saying one thing about my God and the cathedrals saying another.
I have tried to see a way out. Why should it be so?
I have seen that the foundries, the ocean liners, and the airships are in the hands of men who say How.
Perhaps we will take goodness and cathedrals, very soon now, and put them for a while in the hands of the men who say how. If St. Francis, for instance, to-day, were to be suddenly more like Bessemer, or if Dr. Henry Van Dyke were more like Edison or if the Reverend R.J. Campbell were more like Sir Joseph Lister or if the Bishop of London were to go at London the way Marconi goes at the sky, what would begin to happen to goodness? One likes to imagine what would happen if that same spirit, the spirit of "how" were brought to bear upon a great engineering enterprise like goodness in this world.
Perhaps the spirit of "how" is the spirit of God.
Perhaps religion in the twentieth century is Technique.
Technique in the twentieth century is the Holy Ghost.
Technique is the very last thing that has been thought of in religion. Religion is being converted before our eyes. It is becoming touched with the temper of science, with the thoroughness, the doggedness, the inconsolableness of science until it is seeing how and until it is saying how.
When the inventors, in our machine age, get to work on goodness in the way that they are getting to work on other things, things will begin to happen to goodness that the vague, sweet saints of two thousand years have never dreamed of yet.
In London and New York, in this first quarter of the twentieth century Christianity will not be put off as a spirit. The right of Christianity to be a spirit has lapsed.
Christianity is a Method.
What Christ meant when He said He was the Truth and the Life, has been understood, on the whole, very well. What He meant by saying He was the Way, we are now beginning, to work out.
* * * * *
A thousand or two years ago, when two men stood by the roadside and made a bargain, it was their affair.
When two men stand on the sidewalk now and make a bargain, say in New York, they have to deal and to deal very thoughtfully and accurately with ninety million people who are not there. They do this as well as they can by imagining what the ninety million people would do and say, and how they would like to be done by, if they were there.
The facilities for finding out what the ninety million people would do and say, and what they would want, the general conveniences for assuring the two men on the sidewalk that they will be able to conduct their bargain, and to get the other ninety million in, accurately, that they will be able to do by them as they would be done by—these have scarcely been arranged for yet.
In our machine age, with our railroads, and our telephones suddenly heaping our lives up on one another's lives, almost before we have noticed it, our religious machinery to go with our other machinery, our machinery that we are going to be Christians with, has not been invented yet.
Religion two-men size, or man and woman size, or one family or two family size or village size has been worked out. Religion as long as it has been concerned with a few people and was a matter of love between neighbours, or of skill in being neighbourly, has had no special or imperative need for science or the scientific man.
Now that religion is obliged to be an intimate, a confiding relation between ninety million people, the spiritual genius, devotion, and holiness of the scientific man, of the man who says "how" has come to be the modern man's almost only access to his God.
A ninety million man-power religion is an enterprise of spiritual engineering, a feat in national and international statesmanship, a gigantic structural constructive achievement in human nature. Doing as one would be done by, with a few people, is a thing that any man can sit down and read his Bible a few minutes and arrange for himself. He can manage to do as he would be done by, fairly well in the next yard. But how about doing as one would be done by with ninety million people—all sizes, all climates, all religions, Buffalo, New Orleans, Seattle? How about doing as one would be done by three thousand miles?
It is an understatement to say, as we look about our modern world, that Christianity has not been tried yet.
Christianity has not been invented yet.
What was invented two thousand years ago was the spirit of Christianity.
Christianity has been for two thousand years a spirit.
It is almost like a new religion to me just of itself to think of it. It is like being presented suddenly with a new world to think of it, to think that all we have really done with Christianity as yet is to use it as a breath or spirit.
I look at the vision of the earth to-day, of the great cities rushing together at last and running around the world like children running around a house—great cities shouting on the seas, suddenly sliding up and down the globe, playing hopscotch on the equator, scrambling up the poles—all these colossal children!... Here we all are!—a whiff of steam from the Watts's steam kettle and a wave of Marconi across the air and we have crept up from our little separate sunsets, all our little private national bedrooms of light and darkness into the one single same cunning dooryard of a world! Our religion, our politics, our Bibles, kings, millionaires, crowds, bombs, prophets and railroads all hurling, sweeping, crashing our lives together in a kind of vast international collision of intimacy.
All the Christianity we can bring to bear or that we can use to run this crash of intimacy with is a spirit, a breath.
We do not well to berate one another or to berate one another's motives or to assail human nature or to grow satirical about God with all our little battered helpless Christians about us and our unadjusted religions.
We are a new human race grappling with a new world. Our Christianity has not been invented yet and if we want a God, we will work like chemists, like airmen, turn the inside of the earth out, dump the sky, move mountains, face cities, love one another, and find Him!
In the meantime until we have done this, until we have worked as chemists and airmen work, Christianity is a spirit.
It explains all this eager jumble of the world, brushes away our objections, frees our hearts, gives us our program, makes us know what we are for, to stop and think a moment of this—that Christianity is a spirit.
Everything that is passing wonderful is a spirit at first. God begins building a world as a world-spirit, out of a spirit brooding upon the waters. Then for a long while the vague waters, then for a long while a little vague land or spirit-of-planet before a real world.
And every real belief that man has had, has begun as a spirit.
For two thousand years Man has had the spirit of immortality. Homer had it. Homer had moments when improvising his mighty song all alone, of hearing or seeming to hear, faintly, choruses of men's voices singing his songs after him, a thousand years away.
As he groped his way up in his singing, he felt them in spirit, perhaps, the lonely wandering minstrels in little closed-in valleys, or on the vast quiet hills, filling the world with his voice when he was dead, going about with his singing, breaking it in upon the souls of children, of the new boys and girls, and building new worlds and rebuilding old worlds in the hearts of men. Homer had the spirit of hearing his own voice forever, but the technique of it, the important point of seeing how the thing could really be done, of seeing how people, instead of listening to imitations or copies or awkward echoes of Homer, should listen to Homer's voice itself—the timbre, the intimacy, the subtlety, the strength of it—the depth of his heart singing out of it. All this has had to wait to be thought out by Thomas A. Edison.
Man has not only for thousands of years had the spirit of immortality, of keeping his voice filed away if any one wanted it on the earth, forever, but he has had all the other spirits or ghosts of his mightier self. He has had the spirit of being imperious and wilful with the sea, of faring forth on a planet and playing with oceans, and now he has worked out the details in ocean liners, in boats that fly up from the water, and in boats which dive and swim beneath the sea. For thousands of years he has had the spirit of the locomotive working through, troops of runners or of dim men groping defiantly with camels through deserts, or sweeping on on horses through the plains, and now with his banners of steam at last he has great public trains of cars carrying cities.
For hundreds of years man has had the spirit of the motor-car—of having his own private locomotive or his own special train drive up to his door—the spirit of making every road his railway. For a great many years he has had the spirit of the wireless telegraph and of using the sky. Franklin tried using the sky years ago but all he got was electricity. Marconi knew how better. Marconi has got ghosts of men's voices out of the clouds, has made heaven a sounding board for great congregations of cities, and faraway nations wrapped in darkness and silence whisper round the rolling earth. Man has long had the spirit of defying the seas. Now he has the technique and the motor-boat. He has had the spirit of removing oceans and of building huge, underground cities, the spirit of caves in the ground and mansions in the sky, and now he has subways and skyscrapers. For a thousand years he has had the spirit of Christ and now there is Frederick Taylor, Louis Brandeis, Westfield Pure Food, Doctor Carrel, Jane Addams, and Filene's Store. Vast networks—huge spiritual machines of goodness are crowding and penetrating to-day, fifteen pounds to the square inch, the atmosphere of the gospel into the very core of the matter of the world, into the everyday things, into the solids of the lives of men.
It takes two great spirits of humanity to bring a great truth or a new goodness into this world; one spirit creates it, the other conceives it, gathers the earth about it and gives it birth. These two spirits seem to be the spirits of the poet and the scientist.
We are taking to-day, many of us, an almost religious delight in them both. We make no comparisons.
We note that the poet's inspiration comes first and consists in saying something that is true, that cannot be proved.
A few people with imagination, here and there, believe it.
The scientist's inspiration comes second and consists in seeing ways of proving it, of making it matter of fact.
He proves it by seeing how to do it.
Crowds believe it.
AND THE MACHINE STARTS
One of the things that makes one thoughtful in going about from city to city and dropping into the churches is the way the people do not sing in them and will not pray in them. In every new strange city where one stops on a Sunday morning, one looks hopefully—while one hears the chimes of bells—at the row of steeples down the street. One looks for people going in who seem to go with chimes of bells. And when one goes in, one finds them again and again, inside, all these bolt-up-right, faintly sing-song congregations.
One wonders about the churches.
What is there that is being said in them that should make any one feel like singing?
The one thing that the churches are for is news—news that would be suitable to sing about, and that would naturally make one want to sing and pray after one had heard it.
There is very little occasion to sing or to pray over old news.
Worship would take care of itself in our churches if people got the latest and biggest news in them.
News is the latest faith men have in one another, the last thing they have dared to get from God.
It is not impossible that just at the present moment, and for some little time to come, there is really very little worth while that can be said about Christianity, until Christianity has been tried. I cannot conceive of Christ's coming back and saying anything just at the moment. He would merely wonder why, in all these two thousand years, we had not arranged to do anything about what He had said before. He would wonder how we could keep on so, making his great faith for us so poetic, visionary, and inefficient.
It is in the unconscious recognition of this and of the present spiritual crisis of the world, that our best men, so many of them, instead of going into preaching are going into laboratories and into business where what the gospel really is and what it is really made of, is being at last revealed to people—where news is being created.
Perhaps it would not be precisely true—what I have said, about Christ's not saying anything. He probably would. But he would not say these same merely rudimentary things. He would go on to the truths and applications we have never heard or guessed. The rest of his time he would put in in proving that the things that had been merely said two thousand years ago, could be done now. And He would do what He could toward having them dropped forever, taken for granted and acted on as a part of the morally automatic and of-course machinery of the world.
The Golden Rule takes or ought to take, very soon now, in real religion, somewhat the same position that table manners take in morals.
All good manners are good in proportion as they become automatic. In saying that honesty pays we are merely moving religion on to its more creative and newer levels. We are asserting that the literal belief in honesty, after this, ought to be attended to practically by machinery. People ought to be honest automatically and by assumption, by dismissing it in business in particular, as a thing to be taken for granted.
This is what is going to happen.
Without the printing press a book would cost about ten thousand dollars, each copy.
With the printing press, the first copy of a book costs perhaps about six hundred dollars.
The second costs—twenty-nine cents.
The same principle holds good under the law of moral automatics.
Let the plates be cast. Everything follows. The fire in the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago cost six hundred dead bodies.
Within a few months outward opening doors flew open to the streets around a world.
Everybody knew about outward opening doors before.
They had the spirit of outward opening doors. But the machinery for making everybody know that they knew it—the moral and spiritual machinery for lifting over the doors of a world and making them all swing suddenly generation after generation the other way, had not been set up.
Of course it would have been better if there had been three hundred dead bodies or three dead bodies—but the principle holds good—let the moral plates be cast and the huge moral values follow with comparatively little individual moral hand labour. The moral hand labour moves on to more original things.
The same principle holds good in letting an American city be good in seeing how to make goodness in a city work.
Let the plates be once cast—say Galveston, Texas; or De Moines, Iowa, and goodness after you have your first specimen gets national automatically.
Two hundred and five cities have adopted the Galveston or commission government in three years.
* * * * *
The failure for the time being apparently of the more noble and aggressive kinds of goodness against the forces of evil is a matter of technique. Our failure is not due to our failure to know what evil really is, but due to our wasteful way of tunnelling through it.
Our religious inventors have failed to use the most scientific method. We have gone at the matter of butting through evil without thinking enough. Less butting and more thinking is our religion now. We will not try any longer to butt a whole planet when we try to keep one man from doing wrong.
We will butt our way through to the man who sees where to butt and how to butt. Then all together!
Very few of the wrongs that are done to society by individuals would be done if civilization were supplied with the slightest adequate machinery or conveniences for bringing home to people vividly who the people are they are wronging, how they are wronging them, and how the people feel about it. This machinery for moral and social insight, this intelligence-engine or apparatus of sympathy for a planet to-day, before our eyes is being invented and set up.
* * * * *
Sometimes I almost think that history as a study or particularly as a habit of mind ought to be partitioned off and not allowed to people in general to-day. Only men of genius have imagination enough for handling history so that it is not a nuisance, a provincialism and an impertinence in the serene presence to-day of what is happening before our eyes. History makes common people stop thinking or makes them think wrong, about nine tenths of the area of human nature, particularly about the next important things that are going to happen to it.
Our modern life is not an historian's problem. It is an inventor's problem. The historian can stand by and can be consulted. But things that seem to an historian quite reasonably impossible in human nature are true and we must all of us act every day as if they were true. We but change the temperature of human nature and in one moment new levels and possibilities open up on every side.
Things that are true about water stop being true the moment it is heated 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It begins suddenly to act like a cloud and when it is cooled off enough a cloud acts like a stone. Railroad trains are run for hundreds of miles every year in Siberia across clouds that are cold enough. We raise the temperature of human nature and the motives with which men cannot act to-day suddenly around a world are the motives with which they cannot help acting to-morrow.
The theory of raised temperatures alone, in human nature, will make possible to us ranges of goodness, of social passion and vision, that only a few men have been capable of before.
All the new inventions have new sins, even new manners that go with them, new virtues and new faculties. The telephone, the motor-car, the wireless telegraph, the airship and the motor-boat all make men act with different insights, longer distances, and higher speeds.
Men who, like our modern men, have a going consciousness, see things deeper by going faster.
They see how more clearly by going faster.
They see farther by going faster.
If a man is driving a motor-car three miles an hour all he needs to attend to with his imagination is a few feet of the road ahead.
If he is driving his car thirty miles an hour and trying to get on by anticipating his road a few feet ahead, he dies.
The faster a man goes—if he has the brains for it—the more people and the more things in the way, his mind covers in a minute—the more magnificently he sees how.
On a railway train any ordinary man any day in the year (if he goes fast enough) can see through a board fence. It may be made of vertical slats five inches across and half an inch apart. He sees through the slits between the slats the whole country for miles. If he goes fast enough a man can see through a solid freight train.
All our modern industrial social problems are problems of gearing people up. Ordinary men are living on trains now—on moral trains.
Their social consciousness is being geared up. They are seeing more other people and more other things and more things beyond the Fence.
The increased vibration in human nature and in the human brain and heart that go with the motor-car habit, the increased speed of the human motor, the gearing up of the central power house in society everywhere is going to make men capable of unheard-of social technique. The social consciousness is becoming the common man's daily habit. Laws of social technique and laws of human nature which were theories once are habits now.
There is a certain sense in which it may be said that the modern man enjoys daily his moral imagination. He is angered and delighted with his social consciousness. He boils with rage or sings when he hears of all the new machines of good and machines of evil that people are setting up in our modern world.
There is a sense in which he glories in the Golden Rule. The moral-machinist's joy is in him. He is not content to watch it go round and round like some smooth-running Corliss engine which is not connected up yet—that nobody really uses except as a kind of model under glass or a miniature for theological schools. He cannot bear the Golden Rule under glass. He wants to see it going round and round, look up at it, immense, silent, masterful, running a world. He delights in the Golden Rule as a part of his love of nature. It is as the falling of apples to him. He delights in it as he delights in frost and fire and in the glorious, modest, implacable, hushed way they work!
We are in an age in which a Golden Rule can sing. The men around us are in a new temper. They have the passion, almost, the religion of precision that goes with machines.
While I have been sitting at my desk and writing these last words, the two half-past-eight trains, at full speed, have met in the meadow.
There is something a little impersonal, almost abstracted, about the way the trains meet out here on their lonely sidewalk through the meadow, twenty inches apart—morning after morning. It always seems as if this time—this one next time—they would not do it right. One argues it all out unconsciously that of course there is a kind of understanding between them as they come bearing down on each other and it's all been arranged beforehand when they left their stations; and yet somehow as I watch them flying up out of the distance, those two still, swift thoughts, or shots of cities—dark, monstrous (it's as if Springfield and Northampton had caught some people up and were firing them at each other)—I am always wondering if this particular time there will not be a report, after all, a clang on the landscape, on all the hills, and a long story in the Republican the next morning.
Then they softly crash together and pass on—two or three quiet whiffs at each other—as if nothing had happened.
I always feel afterward as if something splendid, some great human act of faith, had been done in my presence. Those two looming, mighty engines, bearing down on each other, making an aim so, at twenty inches from death, and nothing to depend on but those two gleaming dainty strips or ribbons of iron—a few eighths of an inch on the edge of a wheel—I never can get used to it: the two great glowing creatures, full of thunder and trust, leaping up the telegraph poles through the still valley, each of them with its little streak of souls behind it; immortal souls, children, fathers, mothers, smiling, chattering along through Infinity—it all keeps on being boundless to me, and full of a glad boyish terror and faith. And under and through it all there is a kind of stern singing.
I know well enough, of course, that it is a platitude, this meeting of two trains in a meadow, but it never acts like one. I sometimes stand and watch the engineer afterward. I wonder if he knows he enjoys it. Perhaps he would have to stop to know how happy he was, and not meet trains for a while. Then he would miss something, I think; he would miss his deep joyous daily acts of faith, his daily habits of believing in things—in steam, and in air, and in himself, and in the switchman, and in God.
I see him in his cab window, he swings out his blue sleeve at me! I like the way he stakes everything on what he believes. Nothing between him and death but a few telegraph ticks—the flange of a wheel.... Suddenly the swing of his train comes up like the swing and the rhythm of a great creed. It sounds like a chant down between the mountains. I come into the house lifted with it. I have heard a man believing, believing mile after mile down the valley. I have heard a man believing in a Pennsylvania rolling mill, in a white vapour, in compressed air and a whistle, the way Calvin believed in God.
LETTING THE CROWD BE BEAUTIFUL
TO WILBUR WRIGHT AND WILLIAM MARCONI
_"Great Spirit—Thou who in my being's burning mesh Hath wrought the shining of the mist through and through the flesh, Who, through the double-wondered glory of the dust Hast thrust Habits of skies upon me, souls of days and nights, Where are the deeds that needs must be, The dreams, the high delights, That I once more may hear my voice From cloudy door to door rejoice— May stretch the boundaries of love Beyond the mumbling, mock horizons of my fears To the faint-remembered glory of those years— May lift my soul And reach this Heaven of thine With mine?"
"Come up here, dear little Child To fly in the clouds and winds with me, and play with the measureless light!"_
MR. CARNEGIE SPEAKS UP
As I was wandering through space the other day—just aeroplaning past on my way over from Mars—I came suddenly upon a neat, snug little property, with a huge sign stuck in the middle of it:
THE EARTH: THIS DESIRABLE PROPERTY TO LET. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan & Co.
I was just about to pass it by, inferring naturally that it must be a mere bank, or wholesale house, or something, when it occurred to me it might do no harm to stop over on it, and see. I thought I might at least drop in and inquire what kind of a firm it was that was handling it, and what was their idea, and what, if anything, they thought their little planet was for, and what they proposed to do with it.
I found, on meeting Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Morgan, to my astonishment, that they did not propose to do anything with it at all. They had merely got it; that was as far as they had thought the thing out apparently—to get it. They seemed to be depending, so far as I could judge, in a vague, pained way, on somebody's happening along who would think perhaps of something that could be done with it.
Of course, as Mr. Carnegie (who was the talking member of the firm) pointed out, if they only owned a part of it, and could sell one part of it to the other part there would still be something left that they could do, at least it would be their line; but merely owning all of it, so, as they did, was embarrassing. He had tried, Mr. Carnegie told me, to think of a few things himself, but was discouraged; and he intimated he was devoting his life just now to pulling himself together at the end, and dying a poor man. But that was not much, he admitted, and it was really not a very great service on his part to a world, he thought—his merely dying poor in it.
When I asked him if there was anything else he had been able to think of to do for the world—
"No," he said, "nothing really; nothing except chucking down libraries on it—safes for old books."
"And Mr. Morgan?" I said.
"Oh! He is chucking down old china on it, old pictures, and things."
"And Mr. Rockefeller?"
"Mussing with colleges, some," he said, "just now. But he doesn't, as a matter of fact, see anything—not of his own—that can really be done with them, except to make them more systematized and businesslike, make them over into sort of Standard Oil Spiritual Refineries, fill them with millions more of little Rockefellers—and they won't let him do that. Of course, as you might see, what they want to do practically is to take the Rockefeller money and leave the Rockefeller out. Nobody will really let him do anything. Everything goes this way when we seriously try to do things. The fact is, it is a pretty small, helpless business, owning a world," sighed Mr. Carnegie.
"This is why we are selling out, if anybody happens along. Anybody, that is, who really sees what this piece of property is for and how to develop it, can have it," said Mr. Carnegie, "and have it cheap."
Mr. Carnegie spoke these last words very slowly and wearily, and with his most wistful look; and then, recalling himself suddenly, and handing me a glass to look at New York with and see what I thought of it, he asked to be excused for a moment, and saying, "I have fourteen libraries to give away before a quarter past twelve," he hurried out of the room.
MR. CARNEGIE TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE READ
I found, as I was studying the general view of New York as seen from the top through Mr. Carnegie's glass, that there appeared to be a great many dots—long rows of dots for the most part—possibly very high buildings, but there was one building, wide and white and low, and more spread-out and important-looking than any of the others, which especially attracted my attention. It looked as if it might be a kind of monument or mausoleum to somebody. On looking again I found that it was filled with books, and was the Carnegie Public Library. There were forty more Libraries for New York Mr. Carnegie was having put up, I was told, and he had dotted them—thousands of them almost everywhere one could look, apparently, on his own particular part of the planet.
A few days later, when I began to do things at a closer range, I took a little trip to New York, and visited the Library; and I asked the man who seemed to have it in charge, who there was who was writing books for Mr. Carnegie's Libraries just now, or if there was any really adequate arrangement Mr. Carnegie had made for having a few great books written for all these fine buildings—all these really noble book-racks, he had had put up. The man seemed rather taken aback, and hesitated. Finally, I asked him point blank to give me the name of the supposed greatest living author who had written anything for all these miles of Carnegie Libraries, and he mentioned doubtfully a certain Mr. Rudyard Kipling. I at once asked for his books, of course, and sat down without delay to find out if he was the greatest living author the planet had, what it was he had to say for it and about it, and more particularly, of course, what he had to to say it was for.
I found among his books some beautiful and quite refined interpretations of tigers and serpents, a really noble interpretation or conception of what the beasts were for all the glorious gentlemanly beasts—and of what machines were for—all the young, fresh, mighty, worshipful engines—and what soldiers were for. But when I looked at what he thought men were for, at what the planet was for, there was practically almost nothing. The nearest I came to it was a remark, apparently in a magazine interview which I cannot quote correctly now, but which amounted to something like this: "We will never have a great world until we have some one great artist or poet in it, who sees it as a whole, focuses it, composes it, makes a picture of it, and gives the men who are in it a vision to live for."
* * * * *
Since then I have been trying to see what Messrs. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan could do to produce and arrange what seemed to me the one most important, imperative, and immediate convenience their planet could have, namely, as Mr. Kipling intimated, some man on it, some great creative genius, who would gather it all up in his imagination—the beasts, and the people, and the sciences, and the machines—in short, the planet as a whole, and say what it was for. It is from this point of view that I have been drawn into writing the following pages on the next important improvements—what one might call the spiritual Unreal-Estate Improvements, for Messrs. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan's property which will have to be installed. I have been going over the property more or less carefully in my own way since, studying it and noting what had been done by the owners, and what possibly might be done toward arranging authors, inventors, seers, artists, or engineers or other efficient persons who would be able to inquire, to think out for a world, to express for it, some faint idea of what it was for.
MR. NOBEL TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE WRITE
Not unnaturally, of course, I turned to see what had already been done by the more powerful men the planet had produced, in the way of arranging for the necessary seers and geniuses to run the world with, and I soon found that by far the most intelligent and far-seeing attempt that had been made yet in this direction had been made by an inspired, or semi-inspired, millionaire in Sweden, named Alfred Nobel, an idealist, who had made a large but unhappy fortune out of an explosive to stop war with. His general idea had been that dynamite would make war so terrible that it would shock people into not fighting any more, and that gradually people, not having to spend their time in thinking of ways of killing one another, would have more time than they had ever had before to think of other and more important things. It was the disappointment of his life that his invention, instead of being used creatively, used to free men from fighting and make men think of things, had been used largely as an arrangement for making people so afraid of war that they could not think of anything else. Whichever way he turned he saw the world in a kind of panic, all the old and gentle-minded nations with their fair fields, their factories and art galleries, all hard at work piling up explosives around themselves until they could hardly see over them. As this was the precise contrary of what he had intended, and he had not managed to do what he had meant to do with making his money, he thought he would try to see if he could not yet do what he had meant to do in spending it. He sat down to write his Will, and in this Will, writing as an inventor and a man of genius, he tried to express, in the terms of money, his five great desires for the world. He wished to spend forty thousand dollars a year, every year forever, after he was dead, on each of these five great desires. There were five great Inventors that he wanted, and he wanted the whole world searched through for them, for each of them, once more every year, to see if they could be found. Mr. Nobel expressed his desire for these five Inventors as people often manage to express things in wills, in such a way that not everybody had been sure what he meant. There seems to have been comparatively little trouble, from year to year, in awarding the prizes to some adequate inventor in the domain of Peace, of Physics, of Chemistry, and of Medicine; but the Nobel Prize Trustees, in trying to pick out an award each year to some man who could be regarded as a true inventor in Literature, have met with considerable difficulty in deciding just what sort of a man Alfred Nobel had in mind, and had set aside his forty thousand dollars for when he directed that it should go—to quote from the Will—"To the person who shall have produced in the field of Literature the most distinguished work of an idealistic tendency."
Allen Upward, for instance, an Englishman unknown in Stockholm, invented and published a book four years ago, called the "New Word," which was so idealistic and distinguished a book, and so full of new ideas and of new combinations of old ideas, that there was scarcely a publisher in England who did not instinctively recognize it, who did not see that it would not pay at once, and that therefore it was too strange and original and too important a book for him to publish, and after a long delay the book was finally printed in Geneva.
A copy was sent to the Nobel Prize Trustees.
One would have thought, looking at it theoretically, that here was precisely the sort of situation that Alfred Nobel, who had been the struggling inventor of a great invention that would not pay at once himself, would have been looking for. A book so inventive, so far ahead, that publishers praised it and would not invest in it, one would have imagined to be the one book of all others for which Alfred Nobel stood ready and waiting to put down his forty thousand dollars.
But Mr. Nobel's forty thousand dollars did not go to a comparatively obscure and uncapitalized inventor who had written a book to build a world with, or at least a great preliminary design, or sketch, toward a world. The Nobel Prize Trustees, instead of giving the forty thousand dollars to Allen Upward, looked carefully about through all the nations until their eyes fell on a certain Mr. Rudyard Kipling. And when they saw Mr. Rudyard Kipling, piled high with fame and five dollars a word, they came over quietly to where he was and put softly down on him forty thousand dollars more.
I do not know, but it is not inconceivable, that Kipling himself would rather have had Allen Upward have it.
I am not quarrelling with the Trustees, and am merely trying to think things out and understand. But it certainly is a question that cannot but keep recurring to one's mind—the unfortunate, and perhaps rather unlooked-for, way in which Mr. Nobel's Will works. And I have been wondering what there is that might be done, the world being the kind of world it is, which would enable the Nobel Prize Trustees to so administer the Will that its practical weight on the side of Idealism, and especially upon the crisis of idealism in young authors, would be where Mr. Nobel meant to have it.
One must hasten to admit that Mr. Upward's book is open to question; that, in fact, it is the main trait of Mr. Upward's book that it raises a thousand questions; and that it would be a particularly hard book for most men to give a prize to, quietly go home, and sleep that night. I must hasten to admit also that, judging from their own point of view, the Nobel Prize Trustees have so far done quite well. They have attained a kind of triumph of doing safe things—things that they could not be criticised for; and they could well reply to this present criticism that there was no other course that they could take. Unless they had a large fund for butting through all nations for obscure geniuses, and for turning up stones everywhere to look for embryo authors—unless they had a fund for going about among the great newspapers, the big magazines, and peeping under them through all the world for geniuses—and unless they had still another large fund for guaranteeing their decision when they had found one, a fund for convincing the world that they were right, and that they were not wasting their forty thousand dollars—the Trustees have taken a fairly plausible position. Their position being that, in default of perfectly fresh, brand-new, great men, and in view of the fact, in a world like this that geniuses in it are almost invariably, and, as a matter of course, lost or mislaid until they are dead, much the best and safest thing that Trustees of Idealism could do was to watch the drift of public opinion in the different nations, to adopt the course of noting carefully what the world thought were really its great men, and then (at a discreet and dignified distance, of course) tagging the public, and wherever they saw a crowd, a rather nice crowd, round a man, standing up softly at the last moment and handing him over his forty thousand dollars. This has been the history of the Nobel Trustees of Idealism, thus far.
But in a way, we are all the trustees of idealism, and the problem of the Nobel Prize Trustees is more or less the problem of all of us. We are interested as well as they in trying to find out how to recognize and reward men of genius. What would we do ourselves if we were Nobel Prize Trustees? Precisely what was it that Alfred Nobel intended to achieve for Literature when he made this bequest of forty thousand dollars a year in his Will, for a work of Literature of an idealistic tendency?
To take a concrete case, I can only record that it has seemed to me that if Alfred Nobel himself could have been on hand that particular year, and could have read Mr. Upward's book, he would have given the prize of forty thousand dollars to Allen Upward. He would not have given the prize to Mr. Kipling—he would have given it twenty years before; but in this particular year of which I am writing, when he saw these two men together, I believe he would have given the prize to Allen Upward, and he would have hurried.
I would like to put forward at this point two inquiries. First, why did the Trustees not award the prize to Allen Upward? And second, what would have happened if they had?
First, the Trustees could not be sure that Mr. Upward in his work of genius was telling the truth.
Second, they could not be sure that the world would approve of his having forty thousand dollars for telling the truth. Perhaps the world would have rather had him paid forty thousand dollars for not telling it.
Third, Mr. Kipling was safe. No creative work had to be done on Kipling; all they had to do was to send him the cheque. Great crowds had swept in from all over the world, and nominated Mr. Kipling; the Committee merely had to confirm the nomination.
Fourth, Mr. Upward, like all idealists, like all men who have the power of throwing this world into the melting-pot and bringing it out new again partly unrecognizable (which, of course, is the regular historical, almost conventional, thing for an idealist to do with a world), bewildered the Nobel Prize Committee. They could not be sure but that Mr. Upward's next book would be thought in the wrong, and make their having given him forty thousand dollars to write it ridiculous.
* * * * *
What would have happened if the Trustees had given the prize to Mr. Upward?
First, practically no one would have known who he was, and twenty-five nations would have been reading his book in a week, to see why the prize was given to him. The book would have been given the most widespread, highly stimulated, forty-thousand-dollar-power attention that any book in any age has had.
Only now and then would a man go over and take down his old Kiplings from the shelf and read them, because he had heard that Mr. Kipling had forty thousand dollars more than he had had before.
Secondly, Mr. Upward's new book would have the stimulus of his knowing while he was writing it that every word would be read by everybody. All the draught on the fire of his genius of the whole listening world would result in a work that even Mr. Upward himself perhaps would hardly believe he had written. As events turned out, and Mr. Upward did not get the prize there might be many reasons to believe that his next book might be out of focus, might be a mere petulant, scolding book, his exultation spent or dwindled, because his last tremendous wager—that the world wanted the truth—was lost.
Scolding in a book means, as a rule, either juvenility or it means relapse into conscious degeneration of the soul—the focussing and fusing power in a man. I have sometimes wondered if even Christ, if He had not died in His thirty-third year, made His great dare for the world on the cross early, would not have stopped believing so magnificently in other people at about forty or forty-five or so, and would not have spent the rest of His days in railing at them, and in being very bitter and helpless and eloquent about Rome and Jerusalem. I have caught myself once or twice being glad Abraham Lincoln died suddenly just when he did, his great faith and love all warm in him, and his great oath for the world—that it was good—still fresh upon his lips!
Writing a book like Allen Upward's for a planet with a vision of a thousand years singing splendidly through it, and then just reading it all alone afterward when he has written it, and going over the score all alone by himself, would seem to be a good deal of a strain. To be contradicted out loud and gloriously by a world might be inspiring, but to be contradicted by a solid phalanx of silent nations, trooping up behind one another, unanimous, impervious, is enough to make any radiant, long-accumulated genius pause in full career, question himself, question his vision as a chimera, as some faintly lighted Northern Lights upon the world, that would never mean anything, that was an illusion, that would just flicker in the great dark once more and go out.
I do not say that this is true, or that it would be true of Allen Upward.
But I have read his book. I should think it might be true.
What Alfred Nobel had in mind, his whole idea in his Will, it seems to some of us, was to put in his forty thousand dollars at the working end of some man's mind, at the end of the man's mind where the forty thousand dollars would itself be creative, where the forty thousand dollars would get into the man, and work out through the man and through his genius into the world. It does not seem to me that he wanted to put his forty thousand dollars at the idle, old remembering end of a man's mind; that he meant it should be used as a mere reward for idealism. I doubt if it even so much as occurred to Alfred Nobel, who was an idealist himself, that idealism, after a man had managed to have some in this world, would be rewarded, or could possibly be paid for, by any one. He knew, if ever a man knew, that idealism was its own reward, and that it was priceless, and that any attempt to reward it with money, to pay a man for it after he had had it, and after it was all over, would make forty thousand dollars look shabby, or at least pathetic and ridiculous. What he wanted to do was to build his forty thousand dollars over into a Man. He wanted to feel that this money that he had made out of dynamite, out of destruction, would be wrought, through this man, into exultation, into life. He had proposed that this forty thousand dollars should become poetry in this man's book, that it should become light and heat, a power-house of thought, of great events. What Alfred Nobel had in mind, I think, with his little forty thousand dollars, was that it should be given a chance to become an intimate part of some man's genius; that it should become perhaps at last a Great Book—that great foundry of men's souls, where the moulds of History are patterned out, and where the hopes of nations and the prayers of women and children and of great men are, and where the ideals of men—those huge drive-wheels of the world—are cast in a strange light and silence.
I wondered if they could have thought of this when they voted on Allen Upward's book that day three years ago—those twenty grave, quiet gentlemen in frockcoats in Stockholm!
* * * * *
I have picked out Mr. Upward's book because it is the most difficult, the most hazardous, and the least fortunate one I know, to make my point with; and because a great many people will get the reaction of disagreeing with me, and feeling about it probably, the way the Nobel Prizes Trustees did. I have wanted to take a book which has the traits in it for which men of genius are persecuted or crucified or ignored—our more modern timid or anonymous form of the cross. If Mr. Upward had been given the Prize by the Nobel Prize Trustees, it will have to be admitted a howl would have gone up round the world that would not have quieted down yet; and it is this howl that Mr. Nobel intended his Prize for, and that he thought a man would need about forty thousand dollars to meet.
I might have taken any one of several other books, and they would have illustrated my point snugly and more conveniently; but just that right touch of craziness that Nobel had in mind, and that goes with great experiment of spirit—the chill, Nietzsche-like wildness, that bravado before God and man and before Time, that swinging one's self out on Eternity, which make Upward a typical man of genius, would have been lacking. K—— (whose criticisms of books are the most creative ones I know) said of Upward's book that he felt very happy and strangely emancipated when he read it, but that it was an uncanny experience, as if he had been made of thin air, had become a kind of aerated being, a psychic effect that genius often has; and K—— admitted to me confidentially that he felt that possibly he and Upward were being a little crazy and happy together by themselves, breaking out into infinite space so, and he took the book over to W——, and left it on his desk slinkingly and half-ashamed and without saying anything about it. He said he was enormously relieved next time he saw W——, felt as if he had just been pulled out of Bedlam to find that there was at least one other man in the world apparently in his right mind, who valued the book as he did.