On Something
by H. Belloc
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Very beautifully does he tell us in his preface what moved him to that act. "Colonel Money," he says, in the quiet third person of a self-respecting Norfolk gentleman, "does not mean to assign any other reason for serving the armies of France than that he loves his profession and went there merely to improve himself in it." Spoken like Othello!

He dedicates the book, by the way, to the Marquis Townshend, and carefully adds that he has not got permission to dedicate it to that exalted nobleman, nay, that he fears that he would not get permission if he asked for it. But Lord Townshend is such a rattling good soldier that Colonel Money is quite sure he will want to hear all about the war. On which account he has this book so dedicated and printed by E. Harlow, bookseller to Her Majesty, in Pall Mall.

Before beginning his narrative the excellent fellow pathetically says, that as there was no war a little time before, nor apparently any likelihood of one, "Colonel Money once intended to serve the Turks"; from this horrid fate a Christian Providence delivered him, and sent him to the defence of Gaul.

His commission was dated on the 19th of July, 1792; Marshal of the Camps, that is, virtually, brigadier-general. He is very proud of it, and he gives it in full. It ends up "Given in the year of Grace 1792 of our Reign the 19th and Liberty the 4th. Louis." The phrase, in accompaniment with the signature and the date, is not without irony.

Colonel Money could never stomach certain traits in the French people.

Before he left Paris for his command on the frontier he was witness to the fighting when the Palace was stormed by the populace, and he is our authority for the fact that the 5th Battalion of Paris Volunteers stationed in the Champs Elyses helped to massacre the Swiss Guard.

"The lieutenant-colonel of this battalion," writes honest John Money, "who was under my command during part of the campaign, related to me the circumstances of this murder, and apparently with pleasure. He said: 'That the unhappy men implored mercy, but,' added he, 'we did not regard this. We put them all to death, and our men cut off most of their heads and fixed them on their bayonets.'"

Colonel or, as he then was, General Money disapproves of this.

He also disapproves of the officer in command of the Marseillese, and says he was a "Tyger." It seems that the "Tyger" was dining with Throigne de Mricourt and three English gentlemen in the very hotel where Money was stopping, and it occurs to him that they might have broken in from their drunken revels next door and treated him unfriendly.

Then he goes to the frontier, and after a good deal of complaint that he has not been given his proper command he finds himself at the head of that very important post which was the saving of the Army of Valmy.

Dumouriez, who always talked to him in English (for English was more widely known abroad then than it is now, at least among gentlemen), had a very great opinion of Money; but he deplores the fact that Money's address to his soldiery was couched "in a jargon which they could not even begin to understand." Money does not tell us that in his account of the fighting, but he does tell us some very interesting things, which reveal him as a man at once energetic and exceedingly simple. He left the guns to Galbaud, remarking that no one but a gunner could attend to that sort of thing, which was sound sense; but the Volunteers, the Line, and the Cavalry he looked after himself, and when the first attack was made he gave the order to fire from the batteries. Just as they were blazing away Dillon, who was far off but his superior, sent word to the batteries to cease firing. Why, nobody knows. At any rate the orderly galloped up and told Money that those were Dillon's orders. On which Money very charmingly writes:

"I told him to go back and tell General Dillon that I commanded there, and that whilst the enemy fired shot and shell on me I should continue to fire back on them." A sentence that warms the heart. Having thus delivered himself to the orderly, he began pacing up and down the parapet "to let my men see that there was not much to be apprehended from a cannonade."

You may if you will make a little picture of this to yourselves. A great herd of volunteers, some of whom had never been under fire, the rest of whom had bolted miserably at Verdun a few days before, men not yet soldiers and almost without discipline: the batteries banging away in the wood behind them, in front of them a long earthwork at which the enemy were lobbing great round lumps of iron and exploding shells, and along the edge of this earthwork an elderly gentleman from Norfolk, in England, walking up and down undisturbed, occasionally giving orders to his army, and teaching his command a proper contempt for fire.

He adds as another reason why he did not cease fire when he was ordered that "without doubt the troops would have thought there was treason in it, and I had probably been cut in pieces."

He did not understand what had happened at Valmy, though he was so useful in securing the success of that day. All he noted was that after the cannonade Kellermann had fallen back. He rode into St. Mnehould, where Dumouriez's head-quarters were, ran up to the top of the steeple and surveyed the country around the enemy's camp with an enormous telescope, laid a bet at dinner of five to one that the enemy would attack again (they did not do so, and so he lost his bet, but he says nothing about paying it), and then heard that France had been decreed a Republic. His comment on this piece of news is strong but cryptical. "It was surprising," he says, "to see what an effect this news had on the Army."

Every sentence betrays the personality: the keen, eccentric character which took to balloons just after the Montgolfiers, and fell with his balloon into the North Sea, wrote his Treatise on the use of such instruments in War, and was never happy unless he was seeing or doing something—preferably under arms. And in every sentence also there is that curious directness of statement which is of such advantage to vivacity in any memoir. Thus of Gobert, who served under him, he has a little footnote: "This unfortunate young man lost his head at the same time General Dillon suffered, and a very amiable young man he was, and an excellent officer."

He ends his book in a phrase from which I think not a word could be taken nor to which a word could be added without spoiling it. I will quote it in full.

"The reader, I trust, will excuse my having so often departed from the line of my profession in giving my opinion on subjects that are not military" (for instance, his objections to the head-cutting business), "but having had occasion to know the people of France I freely venture to submit my judgments to the public and have the satisfaction to find that they coincide with the opinion of those who know that extraordinary nation still better than myself."


The people of Monomotapa, of whom I have written more than once, I have recently revisited; and I confess to an astonishment at the success with which they deal with the various difficulties and problems arising in their social life.

Thus, in most countries the laws of property are complex in the extreme; punishable acts in connexion with them are numerous and often difficult to define.

In Monomotapa the whole thing is settled in a very simple manner: in the first place, instead of strict laws binding men down by written words, they appoint a number of citizens who shall have it in their discretion to decide whether a man's actions are worthy of punishment or no; and these appointed citizens have also the power to assign the punishment, which may vary from a single day's imprisonment to a lifetime. So crimeless is the country, however, that in a population of over thirty millions less than twenty such nominations are necessary; I must, however, admit that these score are aided by several thousand minor judges who are appointed in a different manner.

Their method of appointment is this: it is discovered as accurately as may be by a man's manner of dress and the hours of his labour and the size of the house he inhabits, whether he have more than a certain yearly revenue; any man discovered to have more than this revenue is immediately appointed to the office of which I speak.

The power of these assessors is limited, however, for though it is left to their discretion whether their fellow-citizens are worthy of punishment or not, yet the total punishment they can inflict is limited to a certain number of years of imprisonment. In old times this sort of minor judge was not appointed in Monomotapa unless he could prove that he kept dogs in great numbers for the purposes of hunting, and at least three horses. But this foolish prejudice has broken down in the progress of modern enlightenment, and, as I have said, the test is now extended to a general consideration of clothes, the size of the house inhabited, and the amount of leisure enjoyed, the type of tobacco smoked, and other equally reasonable indications of judicial capacity.

The men thus chosen to consider the actions of their fellow-citizens in courts of law are rewarded in two ways: the first small body who are the more powerful magistrates are given a hundred times the income of an ordinary citizen, for it is claimed that in this way not only are the best men for the purpose obtained, but, further, so large a salary makes all temptation to bribery impossible and secures a strict impartiality between rich and poor.

The lesser judges, on the other hand, are paid nothing, for it is wisely pointed out that a man who is paid nothing and who volunteers his services to the State will not be the kind of a man who would take a bribe or who would consider social differences in his judgments.

It is further pointed out by the Monomotapans (I think very reasonably) that the kind of man who will give his services for nothing, even in the arduous work of imprisoning his fellow-citizens, will probably be the best man for the job, and does not need to be allured to it by the promise of a great salary. In this way they obtain both kinds of judges, and, oddly enough, each kind speaks, acts, and lives much as does the other.

I must next describe the methods by which this interesting and sensible people secure the ends of their criminal system.

When one of their magistrates has come to the conclusion that on the whole he will have a fellow-citizen imprisoned, that person is handed over to the guardianship of certain officials, whose business it is to see that the man does not die during the period for which he is entrusted to them. When some one of the numerous forms of torture which they are permitted to use has the effect of causing death, the official responsible is reprimanded and may even be dismissed. The object indeed of the whole system is to reform and amend the criminal. He is therefore forbidden to speak or to communicate in any way with human beings, and is segregated in a very small room devoid of all ornament, with the exception of one hour a day, during which he is compelled to walk round and round a deep, walled courtyard designed for the purpose of such an exercise. If (as is often the case) after some years of this treatment the criminal shows no signs of mental or moral improvement, he is released; and if he is a man of property, lives unmolested on what he has, and that usually in a quiet and retired way. But if he is devoid of property, the problem is indeed a difficult one, for it is the business of the police to forbid him to work, and they are rewarded if he is found committing any act which the judges or the magistrates are likely to disapprove. In this way even those who have failed to effect reform in their characters during their first term of imprisonment are commonly—if they are poor—re-incarcerated within a short time, so that the system works precisely as it was intended to, giving the maximum amount of reformation to the worst and the hardest characters. I should add that the Monomotapan character is such that in proportion to wealth a man's virtues increase, and it is remarkable that nearly all those who suffer the species of imprisonment I have described are of the poorer classes of society.

Though they are so reasonable, and indeed afford so excellent a model to ourselves in most of their social relations, the people of Monomotapa have, I confess, certain customs which I have never clearly understood, and which my increasing study of them fails to explain to me.

Thus, in matters which, with us, are thought susceptible of positive proof (such as the taste and quality of cooking, or the mental abilities of a fellow-citizen) the Monomotapans establish their judgment in a transcendental or super-rational manner. The cooking in a restaurant or hotel is with them excellent in proportion, not to the taste of the viands subjected to it, but to the rental of the premises. And when a man desires the most delicious food he does not consider where he has tasted such food in the past, but rather the situation and probable rateable value of the eating-house which will provide him with it. Nay, he is willing—if he understands that that rateable value is high—to pay far more for the same article than he would in a humbler hostelry.

The same super-rational method, as I have called it, applies to the Monomotapan judgment of political ability; for here it is not what a man has said or written, nor whether he has proved himself capable of foreseeing certain events of moment to the State, it is not these characters that determine his political career, but a mixture of other indices, one of which is that his brothers shall be younger than himself, another that when he speaks he shall strike the palm of his open left hand with his clenched right hand in a particular manner by no means commonly or easily acquired; another that he shall not wear at one and the same time a coat which is bifurcated and a hat of hemispherical outline; another that he shall keep silence upon certain types of foreigners who frequent the markets of Monomotapa, and shall even pretend that they are not foreigners but Monomotapans; and this index of statesmanship he must preserve under all circumstances, even when the foreigners in question cannot speak the Monomotapan language.

Some years ago it was required of every statesman that he should, for at least so many times in any one year, extravagantly praise the virtues of these foreign merchants, and particularly allude to their intensely unforeign character; but this custom has recently fallen into abeyance, and silence upon the subject is the most that is demanded.

A further social habit of this people which we should find very strange and which I for my part think unaccountable is their habit of judging the excellence of a literary production, not by the sense or even the sound of it, but by the ink in which it is printed and the paper upon which it is impressed. And this applies not only to their letters but also to their foreign information, and on this account they should (one would imagine) obtain but a very distorted view of the world. For if a good printer prints with excellent ink at five shillings a pound, and with beautiful clear type upon the best linen paper, the statement that the British Islands are uninhabited, while another in bad ink and upon flimsy paper and with worn type affirms that they contain over forty million souls, the first impression and not the second would be conveyed to the Monomotapan, mind. As a fact, however, they are not misinformed, for this singular frailty of theirs (as I conceive it to be) is moderated by one very wise countervailing mental habit of theirs, which is to believe whatever they hear asserted more than twenty-six times, so that even if the assertion be conveyed to them in bad print and upon poor paper, they will believe it if they read it over and over again to the required limits of reiterations.

No people in the world are fonder of animals than this genial race, but here again curious limits to their affection are to be discovered, for while they will tear to pieces some abandoned wretch who beats a llama with a hazel twig for its correction, they will see nothing remarkable in the tearing to pieces of an alpaca goat by dogs specially trained in that exercise.

Generally speaking, the larger an animal is, the warmer is the affection borne it by these people. Fleas and lice are crushed without pity, blackbeetles with more hesitation, small birds are spared entirely, and so on upwards until for calves they have a special legislation to protect and cherish them. At the other end of the scale, microbes are pitilessly exterminated.

Divorce is not common in Monomotapa. But such divorces as take place are very rightly treated differently, according to the wealth of the persons involved. Above a certain scale of wealth divorce is only granted after a lengthy trial in a court of justice; but with the poor it is established by the decree of a magistrate who usually, shortly after pronouncing his sentence, finds an occasion to imprison the innocent party. Moreover, the poor can be divorced in this manner, if any magistrate feels inclined to exercise his power, while for the divorce of the rich set conditions are laid down.

I should add that the Monomotapans have no religion; but the tolerance of their Constitution is nowhere better shown than in this particular, for though they themselves regard religion as ridiculous, they will permit its exercise within the State, and even occasionally give high office and emoluments to those who practise it.

We have, indeed, much to learn in this matter of religion from the race whose habits I have discovered and here describe. Nothing, perhaps, has done more to warp our own story than the hide-bound prejudice that a doctrine could not be both false and true at the same time, and the unreasoning certitude, inherited from the bad old days of clerical tyranny, that a thing either was or was not.

No such narrowness troubles the Monomotapan. He will prefer—and very wisely prefer—an opinion that renders him comfortable to one that in any way interferes with his appetites; and if two such opinions contradict each other, he will not fall into a silly casuistry which would attempt to reconcile them: he will quietly accept both, and serve the Higher Purpose with a contented mind.

It is on this account that I have said that the Monomotapans regard religion as ridiculous. For true religion, indeed (as they phrase it), they have the highest reverence; and true religion consists in following the inclinations of an honest man, that is, oneself; but "religion in the sense of fixed doctrine," as one of their priests explained to me, "is abhorrent to our free commonwealth." Thus such hair-splitting questions as whether God really exists or no, whether it be wrong to kill or to steal, whether we owe any duties to the State, and, if so, what duties, are treated by the honest Monomotapans with the contempt they deserve: they abandon such speculation for the worthy task of enjoying, each man, what his fortune permits him to enjoy.

But, as I have said above, they do not persecute the small minority living in their midst who cling with the tenacity of all starved minds to their fixed ideas; and if a man who professes certitude upon doctrinal matters is useful in other ways, they are very far from refusing his services to the State. I have known more than one, for instance, of this old-fashioned and bigoted lot who, when he offered a sum of money in order to be admitted to the Senate of Monomotapa, found it accepted as readily and cheerfully as though it had been offered by one of the broadest principles and most liberal mind.

Let no one be surprised that I have spoken of their priests, for though the Monomotapans regard religion with due contempt, it does not follow that they will take away the livelihood of a very honest class of people who in an older and barbaric state of affairs were employed to maintain the structure of what was then a public worship. The priesthood, therefore, is very justly and properly retained by the Monomotapans, subject only to a few simple duties and to a sacred intonation of voice very distressing to those not accustomed to it. If I am asked in what occupation they are employed, I answer, the wealthier of them in such sports and futilities as attract the wealthy, and the less wealthy in such futilities and sports as the less wealthy customarily enjoy. Nor is it a rigid law among them that the sons of priests should be priests, but only the custom—so far, at least, as I have been able to discover.


My dear Ormond,

Nothing was further from my thoughts. I had imagined you knew me well enough—and, for the matter of that, all your mother's family—to judge me better. Believe me, no conception of blaming your profession entered my mind for a moment. Whether there be such a thing as "property" in the abstract I should leave it to metaphysicians to decide: in practical affairs everything must be judged in its own surroundings.

It was not upon any musty theological whimsy that I wrote; the definition of stealing or "theft"—I care not by what name you call it—is not for practical men to discuss. Nor was I concerned with the ethical discussion of burglary (to give the matter its old legal and technical title); it was lack of judgment, sudden actions due to nothing but impulse, and what I think I may call "the speculative side" of a burglar's life.

You have not, as yet, any great responsibilities. No one is dependent upon you—you have but yourself to provide for; but you must remember that such responsibilities will arrive in their natural course, and that if you form habits of rashness or obstinacy now they will cling to you through life. We are all looking forward to a certain event when Anne is free again; in plain English, my boy, we know your loyal heart, and we shall bless the union; but I should feel easier in my mind if I saw you settled into one definite branch of the profession before you undertook the nurture of a family.

Adventure tempts you because you are brave, and something of a poet in you leads you to unusual scenes of action. Well, Youth has a right to its dreams, but beware of letting a dangerous Quixotism spoil your splendid chances.

Take, for example, your breaking into Mr. Cowl's house. You may say Mr. Cowl was not a journalist, but only a reviewer; the distinction is very thin, but let it pass. You know and I know that the houses of none in any way connected with the daily Press should ever be approached. It is plain common sense. The journalist comes home at all hours of the night. His servant (if he keeps one) is often up before he is abed. Do you think to enter such houses unobserved?

Again, in one capacity or another, the journalist is dealing with our profession all day long. Some he serves and knows as masters; others he is employed in denouncing at about forty-two shillings the 1600 words; others again it is his business to interview and to pacify or cajole in the lobbies of the House—do you think he would not know what you were if he found you in the kitchen with a dark lantern?

There is another peril—I mean that of alienating friends. Mr. Cowl is an Imperialist—of a very unemphatic type: he wears (as you will say) gold spectacles, and has a nervous cough, but he is an Imperialist. I never said that it was wrong or even foolish to alienate such a man. I said that a great and powerful section of opinion thought it a breach of honour in one of Ours to do it. Do not run away with the first impression my words convey. Believe me, I weigh them all.

There has been so much misunderstanding that I hardly know what to choose. Take those watches. I did not say that watches were "a mere distraction." You have put the words into my mouth. What I said was that watches, especially watches at a Tariff Reform meeting, were not worth the risk. Of course a hatful of watches, such as your Uncle Robert would bring home from fires, or better still, such a load as your poor cousin Charles obtained upon Empire Day last year, has value. But how many gold watches are there, off the platform, at a Tariff Reform meeting? And what possible chance have you of getting on the platform? Now church and purses, that is another thing, but your mid-Devon adventure was simple folly.

Who is Lord Darrell? I never heard of him! For Heaven's sake don't get caught by a title. Do you know any of the servants? His butler or his secretary? The fellow who catalogues the library is useful. Do recollect that lots of the ornaments in those Mayfair houses are fastened to the wall. That is where your dear father failed over the large Chinese jar in Park Street.... Your mother would never forgive me if you were to get into another of your boyish scrapes.

There is another little matter, my dear Ormond, which I wish you to lay to heart very seriously. Now do take an old man's advice and do not get up upon your Quixotic hobby-horse the moment you sniff what it is—for I suppose you have guessed it already. Yes, it is what you feared: I want to urge you to follow your mother's ardent wish and add commission business to your other work. I know very well that young men must dream their dreams, but the world is what it is, and after all there is nothing so very dreadful in the commission side of our profession. You do not come into direct relation with the collectors of curios and church ornaments: there is always an agent to break the crudeness of the connexion. And it is a certain and profitable source of income with none of the risks attached to it that the older branches of the profession unfortunately show. Moreover, it affords excellent opportunities for foreign travel, and gives one a special position very difficult to define, but easily appreciable among one's colleagues.

George Burton made to my knowledge three thousand pounds last year in a short season; he got this very large commission without the necessity of breaking into a single public-house; he earned it entirely upon objects taken out of churches upon the Continent, and in only three cases had he to pick a pocket. It would have hurt him very much with his knowledge and tastes to have had to break a stained-glass window.

Do consider this, my dear Ormond, for your mother's sake. Don't think for a moment that I am advising you to take up any of those forms of work which we both agree in despising, and which are quite unworthy of your traditions, as for instance stealing pictures on commission out of the houses of dealers and then turning detective to recover them again. It is much too easy work for a man of your talents, much too ill-paid, and much too dangerous. It is all very well for the picture dealer to leave the door open, but what if the policeman is not in the know? No, you will always find me on your side in your steady refusal to have anything to do with this kind of business.

Ormond, my dear lad, bear me no ill-will. It is true of every profession, of the Bar and of the City, of homicide, medicine, the Services, even Politics—everything, that success only comes slowly, and that the experience of older men is the key to it.

Tomorrow is Ascension Day, and I am at leisure. Come and dine with me at the Colonial Club at eight for eight-fifteen. I will show you a magnificent littla tanagra I picked up yesterday, and we will talk about the new prospectus.

God bless you! (Dress.)

Your affectionate Uncle


A privileged body slips so easily into regarding its privileges as common rights that I fear the plea which the SIMIAN LEAGUE repeats in this pamphlet will still sound strange in the ears of many, though the work of the League has been increasingly successful and has reached yearly a wider circle of the educated public since its foundation by Lady Wayne in 1902. We desire to place before our fellow-citizens the claims of Monkeys, and we hope once more that nothing we say may seem extreme or violent, for we know full well what poor weapons violence and passion are in the debate of a practical political matter.

Perhaps it is best to begin by pointing out how rarely even the best of us pause in our fevered race for wealth to consider the disabilities of any of our fellow-creatures: when that truth is grasped it will be easier to plead the special cause of the Simian.

Were English men and women to realize the wrongs of the Race, or at any rate the illogical and therefore unjust position in which we have placed them; were the just and thoughtful men, the refined and golden-hearted ladies who are ready in this country to support every good cause when it is properly presented; were they to realize the disabilities of the Monkey, I do not say as vividly they realize the tragedies and misfortunes of London life, they could not, I think, avoid an ill-ease, a pricking of conscience, which would lead at last to some hearty and English effort for the relief of the cousin and forerunner of man.

The attitude adopted towards Monkeys by the mass of those who, after all, live in the same world, and have much the same appetites and necessities and sufferings as they, is an attitude I am persuaded, not of heartlessness, but of ignorance. To disturb that ignorance, and in some to awake a consciousness which, perhaps, they fear, is not a grateful task, but it is our duty, and we will pursue it.

Let the reader consider for one moment the aspect not only of formal law but of the whole community, and of what is called "public opinion" towards this section of sentient beings.

As things now are—aye! and have been for centuries in this green England of ours—a Monkey may not marry; he may not own land; he may not fill any salaried post under the Crown. The Papists themselves are debarred from no honour (outside Ireland) save the Lord Chancellorship. Monkeys, who are responsible for no persecutions in the past, whose religion presents no insult or outrage to our common reason, and who differ little from ourselves in their general practice of life and thought, are debarred from all!

A Monkey may not be a Member of Parliament, a Civil Servant, an officer in either Service, no, not even in the Territorial Army. It is doubtful whether he may hold a commission for the peace. True, there is no statute upon the subject, and the rural magistracy is perhaps the freest and most open of all our offices, and the least restricted by artificial barriers of examination or test; nevertheless, it is the considered opinion of the best legal authorities that no Monkey could sit upon the Bench, and in any case the discussion is purely academic, for it is difficult to believe that any Lord-Lieutenant, under the ridiculous anachronism of our present Constitution, would nominate a Monkey to such a position—unless (which is by law impossible) he should be heir to an owner of an estate in land.

Nor is this all. The mention of unpaid posts recalls the damning truth that all honorary positions in the Diplomatic Service, including even the purely formal stage in the Foreign Office, are closed to the Monkey; the very Court sinecures, which admittedly require no talents, are denied to our Simian fellow-creatures, if not by law at least by custom and in practice.

There have been employed by the League in the British Museum the services of two ladies who feel most keenly upon this subject. They are (to the honour of their sex) as amply qualified as any person in this kingdom for the task which they have undertaken, and they report to the Executive Commission after two months of minute research that (with one doubtful exception occurring during the reign of Her late Majesty) no Monkey has held any position whatever at Court.

All judicial positions are equally inaccessible to them; for though, perhaps, in theory a Monkey could be promoted to the Bench if he had served his party sufficiently long and faithfully in the House of Commons (to which body he is admissible—at least I can find no rule or custom, let alone a statute, against it), yet he is cut off from such an ambition at the very outset by his inadmissibility to a legal career. The Inns of Court are monopolist, and, like all monopolists, hopelessly conservative. They have admitted first one class and then another—though reluctantly— to their privileges, but it will be twenty or thirty years at least before they will give way in the matter of Monkeys. To be a physician, a solicitor, an engineer, or a Commissioner for Oaths is denied them as effectually as though they did not exist. Indeed, no occupation is left them save that of manual labour, and on this I would say a word. It is fashionable to jeer at the Monkey's disinclination to sustained physical effort and to concentrated toil; but it is remarkable that those who affect such a contempt for the Monkey's powers are the first to deny him access to the liberal professions in which they know (though they dare not confess it) he would be a serious rival to the European. As it is, in the few places open to Monkeys—the somewhat parasitical domestic occupation of "companions" and the more manly, but still humiliating, task of acting as assistants to organ-grinders, the Monkey has won universal if grudging praise.

Latterly, since progress cannot be indefinitely delayed, the Monkey has indeed advanced by one poor step towards the civic equality which is his right, and has appeared as an actor upon the boards of our music-halls. It should surely be a sufficient rebuke for those who continue to sneer at the Simian League and such devoted pioneers as Miss Greeley and Lady Wayne that the Monkey has been honourably admitted and has done first-rate work in a profession which His late Gracious Majesty and His late Majesty's late revered mother, Queen Victoria, have seen fit to honour by the bestowal of knighthoods, and in one case (where the recipient was childless) of a baronetcy.

The disabilities I have enumerated are by no means exhaustive. A Monkey may not sign or deliver a deed; he may not serve on a jury; he may be ill-treated, forsooth, and even killed by some cruel master, and the law will refuse to protect him or to punish his oppressor. He may be subjected to all the by-laws of a tyrannical or fanatical administration, but in preventing such abuses he has no voice. He may not enter our older Universities, at least as the member of a college; that is, he can only take a degree at Oxford or Cambridge under the implied and wholly unmerited stigma applying to the non-collegiate student. And these iniquities apply not only to the great anthropoids whose strength and grossness we might legitimately fear, but to the most delicately organized types—to the Barbary Ape, the Lemur, and the Ring-tailed Baboon. Finally—and this is the worst feature in the whole matter—a Monkey, by a legal fiction at least as old as the fourteenth century, is not a person in the eye of the law.

We call England a free country, yet at the present day and as you read these lines, any Monkey found at large may be summarily arrested. He has no remedy; no action for assault will lie. He is not even allowed to call witnesses in his own defence, or to establish an alibi.

It may be pleaded that these disabilities attach also to the Irish, but we must remember that the Irish are allowed a certain though modified freedom of the Press, and have extended to them the incalculable advantage of sending representatives to Westminster. The Monkey has no such remedies. He may be incarcerated, nay chained, yet he cannot sue out a writ for habeas corpus any more than can a British subject in time of war, and worst of all, through the connivance or impotence of the police, cases have been brought forward and approved in which Monkeys have been openly bought and sold!

We boast our sense of delicacy, and perhaps rightly, in view of our superiority over other nations in this particular; yet we permit the Monkey to exhibit revolting nakedness, and we hardly heed the omission! It is true that some Monkeys are covered from time to time with little blue coats. A cap is occasionally disdainfully permitted them, and not infrequently they are permitted a pair of leather breeches, through a hole in which the tail is permitted to protrude; but no reasonable man will deny that these garments are regarded in the light of mere ornaments, and rarely fulfil those functions which every decent Englishman requires of clothing.

And now we come to the most important section of our appeal. What can be done?

We are a kindly people and we are a just people, but we are also a very conservative people. The fate of all pioneers besets those who attempt to move in this matter. They are jeered at, or, what is worse, neglected. One of the most prominent of the League's workers has been certified a lunatic by an authority whose bitter prejudice is well known, and against whom we have as yet had no grant of a mandamus, and we have all noticed the quiet contempt, the sort of organized boycott or conspiracy of silence with which a company at dinner will receive the subject when it is brought forward.

There are also to be met the violent prejudices with which the mass of the population is still filled in this regard. These prejudices are, of course, more common among the uneducated poor than in the upper classes, who in various relations come more often in contact with Monkeys, and who also have a wider and more tolerant, because a better cultivated, spirit. But the prejudice is discernible in every class of society, even in the very highest. We have also arrayed against us in our crusade for right and justice the dying but still formidable power of clericalism. Society is but half emancipated from its medieval trammels, and the priest, that Eternal Enemy of Liberty, can still put in his evil word against the rights of the Simian.

Let us not despair! We can hope for nothing, it is true, until we have effected a profound change in public opinion, and that change cannot be effected by laws. It can only be brought about by a slow and almost imperceptible effort, unsleeping, tireless, and convinced: something of the same sort as has destroyed the power of militarism upon the Continent of Europe; something of the same sort as has scotched landlordism at home; something of the same sort as has freed the unhappy natives of the Congo from the misrule of depraved foreigners; something of the same sort as has produced the great wave in favour of temperance through the length and breadth of this land.

We must not attempt extremes or demand full justice to the exclusion of excellent half-measures. No one condemns more strongly than do we the militant pro-Simians who have twice assaulted and once blinded for life a keeper in the Zoological Gardens. We do not even approve of those ardent but in our opinion misguided spirits of the Simian Freedom Society who publish side by side the photographs of Pongo the learned Ape from the Gaboons and that of a certain Cabinet Minister, accompanied by the legend "Which is Which?" It is not by actions of this kind that we shall win the good fight; but rather by a perseverance in reason combined with courtesy shall we attain our end, until at long last our Brother shall be free! As for the excellent but somewhat provincial reactionaries who still object to us that the Monkey differs fundamentally from the human race; that he is not possessed of human speech, and so forth, we can afford to smile at their waning authority. Modern science has sufficiently dealt with them; and if any one bring out against the Monkey the obscurantist insult that His Hide is Covered with Hair, we can at once point to innumerable human beings, fully recognized and endowed with civic rights, who, were they carefully examined, would prove in no better case. As to speech, the Monkey communicates in his own way as well or better than do we, and for that matter, if speech is to be the criterion, are we to deny civic rights to the Dumb?

We have it upon the authority of all our greatest scientific men, that there is no substantial difference between the Ape and Man. One of the greatest has said that between himself and his poorer fellow-citizens there was a wider difference than that which separated them from the Monkey. Hackel has testified that while there is a boundary, there is no gulf between the corps of professors to which he belongs and the Chimpanzee. The Gorilla is universally accepted, and if we have won the battle for the Gorilla, the rest will follow.

Tolstoy is with us, Webb is with us, Gorky is with us, Zola and Ferrer were with us and fight for us from their graves. The whole current of modern thought is with us. WE CANNOT FAIL!

Questions submitted at the last Election by the Simian League

1. Are you in favour of removing the present disabilities of Monkeys?

2. Are you in favour of a short Statute which should put adult Monkeys upon the same footing as other subjects of His Majesty as from the 1st of January, 1912? And would you, if necessary, vote against your party in favour of such a measure?

3. Are you in favour of the inclusion of Monkeys under the Wild Birds Act?

(A plain reply "Yes" or "No" was to be written by the candidate under each of these questions and forwarded to the Secretary, Mr. Consul, 73 Purbeck Street, W.. before the 14th January, 1910. No replies received after that date were admitted. The Simian League, which has agents in every constituency, acted according to the replies received, and treated the lack of reply as a negative. Of 1375 circulars sent, 309 remained unanswered, 264 were answered in the negative, 201 gave a qualified affirmative, all the rest (no less than 799) a clear and, in some cases, an enthusiastic adherence to our principles. It is a sufficient proof of the power of the League and the growth of the cause of justice that in these 799 no less than 515 are members of the present House of Commons.)


We possess in this country a breed of men in whom we feel a pride so loyal, so strong, and so frank that were I to give further expression to it here I should justly be accused of insisting upon a hackneyed theme. These are the Empire Builders, the Men Efficient, the agents whom we cannot but feel—however reluctantly we admit it—to be less strictly bound by the common laws of life than are we lesser ones.

But there is something about these men not hackneyed as a theme, which is their youth. By what process is the great mind developed? Of what sort is the Empire Builder when he is young?

The fellow commonly rises from below: What was his experience there below? In what school was he trained? What accident of fortune, how met, or how surmounted, or how used, produced at last the Man who Can? In that inquiry there is food for very deep reflection. It is here that our Masters, whose general motives are so open and so plain, touch upon mystery. That secret power of determining nourishment which is at the base of all organic life has in its own silent way built up the boyhood and the adolescence which we only know in their maturity.

I will not pretend to a full knowledge of that strange education of the mind which has produced so many similar men for the advancement of the race, but I can point to one example which lately came straight across my vision—an accident, an illumination, a revealing flash of how our time breeds the Great Type. I was acquainted for some hours with the actions of a youth of whose very name I am ignorant, but whose face I am very certain will reappear twenty years hence in a setting of glory, recognized as yet one other of those superb spirits who will do all for England.

The occasion was a pageant—no matter what pageant—a great public pageant which passed through the Strand, and was to be witnessed by hundreds of thousands. Let us call it "The Function."

Well, I was walking down the Strand three days before this Function was to take place, when I saw in an empty shop window about twenty-five wooden chairs, arranged in tiers one above the other upon a sloping platform, and lettered from A to Y. In the window was a large notice, very clearly printed, and it was to this effect:


At a little desk in the gangway by which the chairs were approached sat a dark, pale child—I can call him by no other name, so frail and young did he seem—and the delicacy of his complexion led me to wonder perhaps whether he was not one of those whom the climate of England strikes with consumption, and who, in the mysterious providence of our race, wander abroad in search of health and find a Realm. His alertness, however, and the brilliance of his eye; his winning, almost obsequious address, and the hooked clutch of his gestures betrayed an energy that no physical weakness could conquer. He invited me to enter, and begged me to purchase a seat.

I had no need of one, for I had made arrangements to spend the Great Day itself and the next at a small hotel in the extreme north of Sutherlandshire, but I was arrested by the evident mental power of my new acquaintance, and I wasted five shillings in buying the chair marked D.

It was with some difficulty that I could purchase it, so eager was he that I should have the best place; "seeing," said he, "that they are all one price, and that you may as well benefit by being an early bird." I noted the strict rectitude which, for all that men ignorant of modern commerce may say, is at the basis of commercial success.

Something so attracted me in the whole business that I was weak enough to take a chair in a tea-shop opposite and watch all day the actions of the Child of Fate.

In less than an hour twenty different people, mainly gentlefolk, had come in and bought places at the sensible price at which he offered them. To each of them he gave a ticket corresponding to the number of the chair. He was courteous to all, and even expansive. He explained the advantage of each particular seat.

So far so good; but, what was more astonishing, in the second hour another twenty came and appeared to purchase; in the third (which was the busiest time of the day) some forty, first and last, must have done business with the Favourite of Fortune. I pondered upon these things very deeply, and went home.

Next morning the attraction which the place had for me drew me as with a magnet, and I went, somewhat stealthily I fear, to the same tea-shop and noticed with the greatest astonishment that the chairs were now not lettered, but numbered, and that the boy was sitting at his little desk with a series of white cards bearing the figures from one to twenty-five. It was very early—not ten o'clock—but the Child was as spruce and neat as he had been in the afternoon of the day before. He bore already that mark of energy combined with neatness which is the stamp of success.

I crossed the road and entered. He recognized me at once (their memory for faces is wonderful), and said cheerfully:

"Your D corresponds to the number 4."

I thanked him very much, and asked him why he had changed his system of notation. He told me it was because several people had explained to him that they remembered figures more easily than letters. We then talked to each other, agreeing upon the maxims of simplicity and directness which are at the root of all mercantile stability. He told me he required cash from all who bought his chairs; that there was no agreement, no insurance—no "frills," as he wittily called them.

"It is as simple," he said, "as buying a pound of tea. I am satisfied, and they are satisfied. As for the risk, it is covered by the low price, and if you ask me how I can let them at so low a price, I will tell you. It is because I have found exactly what was needed and have added nothing more. Moreover, I did not buy the chairs, but hired them."

I went back to my tea-shop with head bent, murmuring to myself those memorable lines:

We founded many a mighty State, Pray God that we may never fail From craven fears of being great

(or words to that effect).

That day no less than 153 people did business with the Youth.

Next day I found among my morning letters a note from a politician of my acquaintance, telling me that the Function was postponed—indefinitely. I wasted not a moment. I went at once to my post of observation, my tea-shop, and I proceeded to watch the Leader.

There was as yet no knowledge of the calamity in London.

My friend seemed to have noticed me; at any rate a new and somewhat anxious look was apparent on his face. With a firm and decided step I crossed the road to greet him, and when he saw me he was all at his ease. He told me that my seat had been especially asked for, and that a higher price had been offered; but a bargain, he said, was a bargain, and so we fell to chatting. When I mentioned, among other subjects, the very great success of his enterprise, he gave a slight start, which did honour to his heart; but he was of too stern a mould to give way. He was of the temper of the Pioneers.

I assured him at once that it was very far from my intention to reproach him for the talents which he had used with so much ability and energy. I pointed out to him that even if I desired to injure him, which I did not, it would be impossible for me, or for any one, to trace more than half a dozen, at the most, of his numerous clients.

It is frequently the case that men of small business capacity will perceive some important element in a commercial problem which escapes the eyes of Genius; and I could see that this simple observation of mine had relieved him almost to tears.

Before he could thank me, a newsboy appeared with a very large placard, upon which was written


In a moment his mind grasped the whole meaning of that word; but he went out with a steady step, and paid the sixpence which the newsboy demanded. Even in that uncomplaining action, the uncomplaining forfeiture of the comparatively large sum which necessity demanded, one could detect the financial grip which is the true arbiter of the fates of nations. He needed the paper: he did not haggle about the price. He first mastered the exact words of the announcement, and then, looking up at me with a face of paper, he said:

"It is not only postponed, but all this preparation is thrown away."

I have said that I have no commercial aptitude; I admit that I was puzzled.

"Surely," said I, "this is exactly what you needed?"

He shook his head, still restraining, by a powerful effort, the natural expression of his grief, and showed me, for all his answer, a rail way ticket to Boulogne which he had purchased, and which was available for the night boat on the eve of the Function. I then understood what he meant when he said that all his preparations had been thrown away.

I do not know whether I did right or wrong—I felt myself to be nothing more than a blind instrument in the hands of the superior power which governs the destinies of a people.

"How much did the ticket cost?" said I.

"Thirty shillings," said he.

I pulled out a sovereign and a half-sovereign from my pocket, and said:

"Here is the money. I have leisure, and I would as soon go to Boulogne as to Sutherlandshire."

He did not thank me effusively, as might one of the more excitable and less efficient races; but he grasped my hand and blessed me silently. I then left him.

* * * * *

In the steamer to Boulogne, as I was musing over this strange adventure, a sturdy Anglo-Saxon man, a true son of Drake or Raleigh, came up and asked me for my ticket. As I gave it him my eye fell idly upon the price of the ticket. It was twenty-five shillings—but I had saved a directing and creative mind.

If he should come across these lines he will remember me. He is probably in the House of Commons by now. Perhaps he has bought his peerage. Wherever he is I hope he will remember me.


Caedwalla, a prince out of Wales (though some deny it), wandered in the Andredsweald. He was nineteen years of age and his heart was full of anger for wrong that had been done him by men of his own blood. For he was rightfully heir to the throne of the kingdom of Sussex, but he was kept from it by the injustice of men.

A retinue went with him of that sort which will always follow adventure and exile. These, the rich of the seacoast and of the Gwent called broken men; but they loved their Lord. So he went hunting, feeding upon what he slew, and proceeding from steading to steading in the sparse woods of Andred where is sometimes an open heath, and sometimes a mile of oak, and often a clay swamp, and, seen from little lifted knolls of sand where the broom grows and the gorse, the Downs to the south like a wall.

As he so wandered upon one day, he came upon another man of a very different fashion, for Caedwalla would have nothing to do with the Cross of Christ, nor with the customs of the towns, nor with the talk of foreign men. But this man was a bishop wandering, and his name was Wilfrid. He also had his little retinue, and, by an accident of his office or of his exile, he had proceeded to a steading in the heaths and woods of the Weald where also was Caedwalla: so they met. The pride and the bearing of Wilfrid, seeing that he was of a Roman town and an officer of the State, and a bishop to boot, nay, a bishop above bishops, was not the pride Caedwalla loved, and the young man bore himself with another sort of pride, which was that of the mountains and of pagan men. Nevertheless Wilfrid put before him, with Roman rhetoric and with uplifted hands, the story of our Lord, and Caedwalla, keeping his face set during all that recital, could not forbid this story to sink into the depths of his heart, where for many years it remained, and did no more than remain.

The kingdom of Sussex, cultivated by men of various kinds, received Wilfrid the Bishop wherever he went. He did many things that do not here concern me, and his chief work was to make the rich towns of the sea plain and of Chichester and of Lewes and of Arundel, and of the steadings of the Weald, and of the wealden markets also, Christian men; for he showed them that it was a mean thing to go about in a hairy way like pagans, unacquainted with letters, and of imperfect ability in the making of raiment or the getting of victuals. Indeed, as I have written in another place, it was St. Wilfrid who taught the King of Sussex and his men how to catch fish in nets. They revered him everywhere, and when they had given up their shameful barbarism and decently accepted the rules of life and the religion of it, they pressed upon St. Wilfrid that he should found a bishopric, and that it should have a cathedral and a see (all of which things he had explained to them), and he did this on Selsey Bill: but to-day the sea has swallowed all.

Time passed, and the young man Caedwalla, still a very young man in the twenties, came to his own, and he sat on the throne that was rightfully his in Chichester and he ruled all Sussex to its utmost boundaries. And he was king of much more, as history shows, but all the while he proudly refused in his young man's heart the raiment and the manner of the thing which he had hated in his exile, nor would he accept the Latin prayers, nor bow to the name of the Christian God.

Caedwalla, still so young but now a king, thought it shameful that he should rule no more than the empire God had given him, and he was filled with a longing to cross the sea and to conquer new land. Wherefore, whether well or ill advised, he set out to cross the sea and to conquer the Isle of Wight, of which story said that Wight the hero had established his kingdom there in the old time before writing was, and when there were only songs. So Caedwalla and his fighting men, they landed in that island and they fought against the many inhabitants of it, and they subdued it, but in these battles Caedwalla was wounded.

It happened that the King of that island, whose name was Atwald, had two heirs, youths, whom it was pitifully hoped this conqueror would spare, for they fled up the Water to Stoneham; but a monk who served God by the ford of reeds which is near Hampton at the head of the Water, hearing that King Caedwalla (who was recovering of wounds he had had in the war with the men of Wight) had heard of the youths' hiding-place and had determined to kill them, sought the King and begged that at least they might be instructed in the Faith before they died, saying to him: "King, though you are not of the Faith, that is no reason that you should deprive others of such a gift. Let me therefore see that these young men are instructed and baptized, after which you may exercise your cruel will." And Caedwalla assented. These lads, therefore, were taken to a holy place up on Itchen, where they were instructed in the truths and the mysteries of religion. And while this so went forward Caedwalla would ask from time to time whether they were yet Christians.

At last they had received all the knowledge the holy men could give them and they were baptized. When they were so received into the fold Caedwalla would wait no longer but had them slain. And it is said that they went to death joyfully, thinking it to be no more than the gate of immortality.

After such deeds Caedwalla still reigned over the kingdom of Sussex and his other kingdoms, nor did he by speech or manner give the rich or poor about him to understand whether anything was passing in his heart. But while they sang Mass in the cathedral of Selsey and while still the new-comers came (now more rarely, for nearly all were enrolled): while the new-comers came, I say, in their last numbers from the remotest parts of the forest ridge, and from the loneliest combes of the Downs to hear of Christ and his cross and his resurrection and the salvation of men, Caedwalla sat in Chichester and consulted his own heart only and was a pagan King. No one else you may say in all the land so kept himself apart.

His youth had been thus spent and he thus ruled, when as his thirtieth year approached he gave forth a decision to his nobles and to his earls and to the Welsh-speaking men and to the seafaring men and to the priests and to all his people. He said: "I will take ship and I will go over the sea to Rome, where I may worship at the tombs of the blessed Apostles, and there I will be baptized. But since I am a king no one but the Pope shall baptize me. I will do penance for my sins. I will lift my eyes to things worthy of a man. I will put behind me what was dear to me, and I will accept that which is to come." And as they could not alter Caedwalla in any of his previous decisions, so they could not alter him in this. But his people gave gladly for the furnishing of his journey, and all the sheep of the Downs and their fleece, and all the wheat in the clay steadings of the Weald, and the little vineyards in the priests' gardens that looked towards the sea, and the fishermen, and every sort in Sussex that sail or plough or clip or tend sheep or reap or forge iron at the hammer ponds, gave of what they had to King Caedwalla, so that he went forth with a good retinue and many provisions upon his journey to the tombs of the Apostles.

When King Caedwalla came to Rome the Pope received him and said: "I hear that you would be instructed in the Faith." To which King Caedwalla answered that such was his desire, and that he would crave baptism at the hands of the said Pope. And meanwhile Caedwalla took up good lodgings in Rome, gave money to the poor, and showed himself abroad as one who had come from the ends of the earth, that is, from the kingdom of Sussex, which in those days was not yet famous. Caedwalla, now being thirty years old and having learnt what one should learn in order to receive baptism, was baptized, and they put a white robe on him which he was to wear for certain days.

King Caedwalla, when he was thus made one with the unity of Christian men, was very glad. But he also said that before he had lost that white robe so given him, death would come and take him (though he was a young man and a warrior), and that not in battle. He was certain it was so.

And so indeed it came about. For within the limit of days during which ritual demanded that the King should wear his white garment, nay, within that same week, he died.

So those boys who had found death at his hands had died after baptism, up on Itchen in the Gwent, when Caedwalla the King had journeyed out of Sussex to conquer and to hold the Wight with his spear and his sword and his shield, and his captains and his armoured men.

Now that you have done reading this story you may think that I have made it up or that it is a legend or that it comes out of some storyteller's book. Learn, therefore, that it is plain history, like the battle of Waterloo or the Licensing Bill (differing from the chronicle only in this, that I have put living words into the mouths of men), and be assured that the history of England is a very wonderful thing.


England has been lucky in its type of subdivision. All over Western Europe the type of subdivision following in the fall of the Empire has been of capital importance in the development of the great nations, but while these have elsewhere been exaggerated to petty kingdoms or diminished to mere townships in Britain, for centuries the counties have formed true and lasting local units, and they have survived with more vigour than the corresponding divisions of the other provinces of Roman Europe.

That accident of the county moulded and sustained local feeling during the generations when local government and local initiative were dying elsewhere; it has preserved a sort of aristocratic independence, the survival of custom, and the differentiation of the State.

It is not necessarily (as many historians unacquainted with Europe as a whole have taken for granted) a supreme advantage for any people to escape from institution of a strong central executive. Such a power is the normal fruit of all high civilizations. It protects the weak against the strong. It is necessary for rapid action in war, it makes for clarity and method during peace, it secures a minimum for all, and it forbids the illusions and vices of the rich to taint the whole commonwealth.

But though such an escape from strong central government and the substitution for it of a ruling class is not a supreme advantage, it has advantages of its own which every foreign historian of England has recognized, and it is the divisions into counties which, after the change of religion in the sixteenth century, was mainly responsible for the slow substitution of local and oligarchic for general, central, and bureaucratic government in England.

Not all the counties by any means are true to type. All the Welsh divisions, for instance, are more or less artificial and late, with the exception of Anglesey. And as for the non-Roman parts, Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, it goes without saying that the county never was, and is not to this day, a true unit. The central and much of the west of England is the same. That is, the shires are cut as their name implies, somewhat arbitrarily, from the general mass of territory.

When one says "arbitrarily" one does not mean that no local sentiment bound them, or that they had not some natural basis, for they had. They were the territory of central towns: Shrewsbury, Warwick, Derby, Chester, Oxford, Buckingham, Bedford, Nottingham. But their life was not and has not since been strongly individual. They have not continuous boundaries nor an early national root. But all round these, in a sort of ring, run the counties which have had true local life from the beginning. Cornwall is utterly different from Devon, and with a clear historic reason for the difference. Devon, again, is a perfectly separate unit, resulting from a definite political act of the early ninth century. Of Dorset and Hampshire one can say less, but with Sussex you get a unit which has been one kingdom and one diocese, set in true natural limits and lying within these same boundaries for much more than a thousand years. Kent, probably an original Roman division, has been one unit for longer still. Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex are equally old, though not upon their land boundaries equally denned; but perhaps the most sharply defined of all—after Sussex, at least—was Southern and Central Lancashire.

Its topography was like one of those ideal examples which military instructors take for their models when they wish to simplify a lesson upon terrain. Upon one side ran the long, high, and difficult range which is the backbone of England; upon the other the sea, and the sea and the mountains leant one towards the other, making two sides of a triangle that met above Morecambe Bay.

How formidable the natural barriers of this triangle were it is not easy for the student of our time to recognize. It needs a general survey of the past, and a knowledge of many unfamiliar conditions in the present, to appreciate it.

The difficulty of those Eastern moors and hills, for instance, the resistance they offer to human passage, meets you continually throughout English history. The engineers of the modern railways could give one a whole romance of it; the story of every army that has had to cross them, and of which we have record, bears the same witness. The illusion which the modern traveller may be under that the barrier is negligible is very soon dispelled when for his recreation he crosses it by any other methods than the railway; and perhaps in such an experience of travel nothing more impresses one in the character of that barrier than the loneliness.

There is no other corresponding contrast of men and emptiness that I know of in Europe.

The great towns lie, enormous, pullulating, millioned in the plains on either side; they push their limbs up far into the valleys. Between them, utterly deserted, you have these miles and miles of bare upland, like the roof of a house between two crowded streets.

Merely to cross the Pennines, driving or on foot, is sufficient to teach one this. To go the length of the hills along the watershed from the Peak to Crossfell (few people have done it!) is to get an impression of desertion and separation which you will match nowhere else in travel, nowhere else, at least, within touch and almost hearing of great towns.

The sea also was here more of a barrier than a bond. Ireland—not Roman, and later an enemy—lay over against that shore. Its ports (save one) silted. Its slope from the shore was shallow: the approach and the beaching of a fleet not easy. Its river mouths were few and dangerous.

This triangle of Lancashire, so cut off from the west and from the east, had for its base a barrier that completed its isolation. That barrier was the marshy valley of the Mersey. It could be outflanked only at its extreme eastern point, where the valley rises to the hundred-foot contour line. From that point the valley rises so rapidly within half a dozen miles into the eastern hills that it was dry even under primitive conditions, and the opportunity here afforded for a passage is marked by the topographical point of Stockport.

By that gate the main avenues of approach still enter the county. Through this gap passed the London Road, and passes to-day the London and North-Western Railway. It was this gate which gave its early strategic importance to Manchester, lying just north of it and holding the whole of this corner.

Historians have noted that to hold Manchester was ultimately to hold Lancashire itself. It was not the industrial importance of the town, for that was hardly existent until quite modern times: it was its strategic position which gave it such a character. The Roman fort at the junction of the two rivers near Knott Mill represented the first good defensible position commanding this gate upon the south-east.

To enter the county anywhere west of the hundred-foot contour and the Mersey Valley was, for an army deprived of modern methods, impossible: a little organized destruction would make it impossible again.

Two artificial causeways negotiated the valley. Each bears to this day (at Stretford and at Stretton) the proof of its old character, for both words indicate the passage of a "street," that is, of a hard-made way, over the soft and drowned land. Stretford was but the approach to Manchester from Chester—and Manchester thus commanded (by the way) the two south-eastern approaches to the county, the one natural, the other artificial. The approach by Stretton gave Warrington its strategic importance in the early history of the county; Warrington, the central point upon the Mersey, standing at a clear day's march from Liverpool, the port on the one hand, and a clear day's march from Manchester on the other. It was from Warrington that Lord Strange marched upon Manchester at the very beginning of the Civil War, and if by some accident this stretch of territory should again be a scene of warfare, Warrington, in spite of the close network of modern communications, would be the strategic centre of the county boundary.

So one might take the units out of which modern England has been built up one by one, showing that their boundaries were fixed by nature, and that their local separation was not the product of the pirate raids, but is something infinitely older, older than the Empire, and very probably (did we know what the Roman divisions of Britain were) accepted under the Empire. So one might prove or at least suggest that the strategical character of the English county and of its chief stronghold and barriers lay in an origin far beyond the limits of recorded history. To produce such a study would be to add to the truth and reality of our history, for England was not made nor even moulded by the Danish and the Saxon raids. The framework is far, far older and so strong that it still survives.


It was upon an evening in Spain, but with nothing which that word evokes for us in the North—for it was merely a lessening of the light without dews, without mists, and without skies—that I came up a stony valley and saw against the random line of the plateau at its head the dome of a church. The road I travelled was but faintly marked, and was often lost and mingled with the rough boulders and the sand, and in the shallow depression of the valley there were but a few stagnant pools.

The shape of the dome was Italian, and it should have stood in an Italian landscape, drier indeed than that to which Northerners are accustomed, but still surrounded by trees, and with a distance that could render things lightly blue. Instead of that this large building stood in the complete waste which I have already described at such length, which is so appalling and so new to an European from any other province of Europe. As I approached the building I saw that there gathered round it a village, or rather a group of dependent houses; for the church was so much larger than anything in the place, and the material of which the church itself and the habitations were built was so similar, the flat old tiled roofs all mixed under the advance of darkness into so united a body, that one would have said, as was perhaps historically the truth, that the church was not built for the needs of the place, but that the borough had grown round the shrine, and had served for little save to house its servants.

When the long ascent was ended and the crest reached, where the head of the valley merged into the upper plain, I passed into the narrow first lanes. It was now quite dark. The darkness had come suddenly, and, to make all things consonant, there was no moon and there were not any stars; clouds had risen of an even and menacing sort, and one could see no heaven. Here and there lights began to show in the houses, but most people were in the street, talking loudly from their doorsteps to each other. They watched me as I came along because I was a foreigner, and I went down till I reached the central market-place, wondering how I should tell the best place for sleep. But long before my choice could be made my thoughts were turned in another direction by finding myself at a turn of the irregular paving, right in front of a vast faade, and behind it, somewhat belittled by the great length of the church itself, the dome just showed. I had come to the very steps of the church which had accompanied my thoughts and had been a goal before me during all the last hours of the day.

In the presence of so wonderful a thing I forgot the object of my journey and the immediate care of the moment, and I went through the great doors that opened on the Place. These were carved, and by the little that lingered of the light and the glimmer of the electric light on the neighbouring wall (for there is electric light everywhere in Spain, but it is often of a red heat) I could perceive that these doors were wonderfully carved. Already at Saragossa, and several times during my walking south from thence, I had noted that what the Spaniards did had a strange affinity to the work of Flanders. The two districts differ altogether save in the human character of those who inhabit them: the one is pastoral, full of deep meadows and perpetual woods, of minerals and of coal for modern energy, of harbours and good tidal rivers for the industry of the Middle Ages; the other is a desert land, far up in the sky, with an air like a knife, and a complete absence of the creative sense in nature about one. Yet in both the creation of man runs riot; in both there is a sort of endlessness of imagination; in both every detail that man achieves in art is carefully completed and different from its neighbour; and in both there is an exuberance of the human soul: but with this difference, that something in the Spanish temper has killed the grotesque. Both districts have been mingled in history, yet it is not the Spaniard who has invigorated the Delta of the Rhine and the high country to the south of it, nor the Walloons and the Flemings who have taught the Spaniards; but each of these highly separated peoples resembles the other when it comes to the outward expression of the soul: why, I cannot tell.

Within, there is not a complete darkness, but a series of lights showing against the silence of the blackness of the nave; and in the middle of the nave, like a great funeral thing, was the choir which these Spanish churches have preserved, an intact tradition, from the origins of the Christian Faith. Go to the earliest of the basilicas in Rome, and you will see that sacred enclosure standing in the middle of the edifice and taking up a certain proportion of the whole. We in the North, where the Faith lived uninterruptedly and, after the ninth century, with no great struggle, dwindled this feature and extended the open and popular space, keeping only the rood-screen as a hint of what had once been the Secret Mysteries and the Initiations of our origins. But here in Spain the earliest forms of Christian externals crystallized, as it were; they were thrust, like an insult or a challenge, against the Asiatic as the reconquest of the desolated province proceeded; and therefore in every Spanish church you have, side by side with the Christian riot of art, this original hierarchic and secret thing, almost shocking to a Northerner, the choir, the Coro, with high solemn walls shutting out the people from the priests and from the Mysteries as they had been shut out when the whole system was organized for defence against an inimical society around.

The silence of the place was not complete nor, as I have said, was the darkness. At the far end of the choir, behind the high altar, was the light of many candles, and there were people murmuring or whispering, though not at prayers. There was a young priest passing me at that moment, and I said to him in Latin of the common sort that I could speak no Spanish. I asked him if he could speak to me slowly in Latin, as I was speaking to him. He answered me with this word, "Paucissime," which I easily understood. I then asked him very carefully, and speaking slowly, whether Benediction were about to be held—an evening rite; but as I did not know the Latin for Benediction, I called it alternately "Benedictio," which is English, and "Salus," which is French. He said twice, "Si, si," which, whether it were Italian or French or local, I understood by the nodding of his head; but at any rate he had not caught my meaning, for when I came behind the high altar where the candles were, and knelt there, I clearly saw that no preparations for Benediction were toward. There was not even an altar. All there was was a pair of cupboard doors, as it were, of very thickly carved wood, very heavily gilded and very old; indeed, the pattern of the carving was barbaric, and I think it must have dated from that turn of the Dark into the Middle Ages when so much of our Christian work resembled the work of savages: spirals and hideous heads, and serpents and other things.

By this I was already enormously impressed, and by a little group of people around of whom perhaps half were children, when the young priest to whom I had spoken approached and, calling a well-dressed man of the middle class who stood by and who had, I suppose, some local prominence, went up the steps with him towards these wooden doors; he fitted a key into the lock and opened them wide. The candles shone at once through thick clear glass upon a frame of jewels which flashed wonderfully, and in their midst was the head of a dead man, cut off from the body, leaning somewhat sideways, and changed in a terrible manner from the expression of living men. It was so changed, not only by incalculable age, but also, as I presume, by the violence of his death.

To those inexperienced in the practice of such worship there might be more excuse for the novel impression which this sight suddenly produced upon me. Our race from its very beginning, nay, all the races of men, have preserved the fleshly memorials of those to whom sanctity attached, and I have seen such relics in many parts of Europe almost as commonplaces; but for some reason my emotions upon that evening were of a different kind. The length of the way (for I was miles and miles southwards over this desert waste), the ignorance of the language which surrounded me, the inhuman outline hour after hour under the glare of the sun, or in the inhospitable darkness of this hard Iberian land, the sternness of the faces, the violent richness and the magnitude of the architecture about me, and my knowledge of the trials through which the province had passed, put me in this Presence into a mood very different, I think, from that which pilgrimage is calculated to arouse; there was in it much more of awe, and even of terror; there seemed to re-arise in the presence of that distorted face the memories of active pain and of the unconquerable struggle by which this ruined land was recovered. I wondered as I looked at that face whether he had fallen in protest against the Mohammedans, or, as have so many, in a Spanish endurance of torture, martyred by Pagans in the Pacific Seas. But no history of him was given to me, nor do I now know as I write what occasion it was that made this head so great.

They said but a few prayers, all familiar to me, in the Latin tongue; then the "Our Father" and some few others which have always been recited in the vernacular. They next intoned the Salve Regina. But what an intonation!

Had I not heard that chant often enough in my life to catch its meaning? I had never heard it set to such a tune! It was harsh, it was full of battle, and the supplication in it throbbed with present and physical agony. Had I cared less for the human beings about me, so much suffering, so much national tradition of suffering would have revolted, as it did indeed appal, me. The chant came to an end, and the three gracious epithets in which it closes were full of wailing, and the children's voices were very high.

Then the priest shut the doors and locked them, and a boy came and blew the candles out one by one, and I went out into the market-place, fuller than ever of Spain.


When I was in the French army we came one day with the guns in July along a straight and dusty road and clattered into the village called Bar-le-Duc. Of the details of such marches I have often written. I wish now to speak of another thing, which, in long accounts of mere rumbling of guns, one might never have time to tell, but which is really the most important of all experiences under arms in France—I mean the older civilians, the fathers.

Who made the French army? Who determined to recover from the defeats and to play once more that determined game which makes up half French history, the "Thesaurization," the gradual reaccumulation of power? The general answer to such questions is to say: "The nation being beaten had to set to and recover its old position." That answer is insufficient. It deals in abstractions and it tells you nothing. Plenty of political societies throughout history have sat down under disaster and consented to sink slowly. Many have done worse—they have maintained after sharp warnings the pride of their blind years; they have maintained that pride on into the great disasters, and when these came they have sullenly died. France neither consented to sink nor died by being overweening. Some men must have been at work to force their sons into the conscription, to consent to heavy taxation, to be vigilant, accumulative, tenacious, and, as it were, constantly eager. There must have been classes in which, unknown to themselves, the stirp of the nation survived; individuals who, aiming at twenty different things, managed, as a resultant, to carry up the army to the pitch in which I had known it and to lay a slow foundation for recovered vigour. Who were these men?

I had read of them in Birmingham when I was at school; I had read of them in books when I read of the Hundred Years' War and of the Revolution. I was to read of them again in books at Oxford. But on that Saturday at Bar-le-Duc I saw one of them, and by as much as the physical impression is worth more than the secondary effect of history, my sight of them is worth writing down.

A man in my battery, one Matthieu, told me he had leave to go out for the evening, and told me also to go and get leave. He said his uncle had asked him to dine and bring a friend. It seemed his uncle lived in a villa on the heights above the town; he was an ironmonger who had retired. I went to my Sergeant and asked him for leave.

My Sergeant was a noble who was working his way up through the ranks, and when I found him he was checking off forage at a barn where some of our men were working. He looked me hard in the eyes, and said in a drawling lackadaisical voice:

"You are the Englishman?"

"Yes, Sergeant," said I a little anxiously (for I was very keen to get a good dinner in town after all that marching).

"Well," said he, "as you are the Englishman you can go." Such is the logic of the service.

The army is no place to argue, and I went. I suppose what he meant was, "As we are both more or less in exile, take my blessing and be off," but he may merely have meant to be inconsequent, for inconsequence is the wit of schoolboys and soldiers. I went up the hill with my friend.

The long twilight was still broad over the hill and the old houses of Bar-le-Duc, as we climbed. It was night by the clock, but one could have seen to read. We were tired, and talked of nothing in particular, but such things as we said were full of the old refrain of conscripts: "Dog of a trade," "When shall we be out of it?" Even as we spoke there was pride in our breasts at the noise of trumpets in the mist below along the river and the Eighth making its presence known, and our uniforms and our swords.

We stopped at last before a little square house with "The Lilacs" painted on its gate; there was a parched little lawn, a little fountain, a tripod supporting a globular mirror, and we went in.

Matthieu's uncle met us; he was in a cotton suit walking about among his flowers and enjoying the evening. He was a man of about fifty, short, strong, brown, and abrupt. Though it was already evening and one could see little, we knew well enough that his eyes were steady and dark. For he had the attitude and carriage of those men who invigorate France. His self-confidence was evident in his sturdy legs and his arms akimbo, his vulgarity in his gesture, his narrowness in his forward and peering look, his indomitable energy in every movement of his body. It did not surprise me to learn in his later conversation that he was a Republican. He spoke at once to us both, saying in a kind of grumbling shout:

"Well, gunners!"

Then he spoke roughly to his nephew, telling him we were late: to me a little too politely saying he put no blame on me, but only on his scapegrace of a nephew. I said that our lateness was due to having to find the Sergeant. He answered:

"One must always put the blame on some one else," which was rank bad manners.

He led the way into the house. The dining-room gave on to a veranda, and beyond this was another little lawn with trees. In the dark a few insects chirped, and, as the evening was warmish, one smelt the flowers. The windows had been left open. Everything was clean, neat, and bare. On the walls were two excellent old prints, a badly drawn certificate of membership in some society or other, a still worse portrait of a local worthy, and a water-colour painted, I suppose, by his daughter.

He introduced me to his wife, a hard-featured woman, with thin hair, full of duty, busy and precise—fresh from the kitchen. We unhooked our swords with the conventional clatter, and sat down to the meal.

I will confess that as we ate those excellent dishes (they were all excellent) and drank that ordinary wine, I seemed to be living in a book rather than among living men. Here was I, a young English boy, thrust by accident into the French army. Fairly acquainted with its language, though I spoke it with an accent; taken (of course) by my host for a pure Englishman, though half my blood was French. Here was I sitting at his side and watching things, and learning—as for him, men like him, of whom England has some few left in forgotten villages, and who are, when they can be found, the strength of a State, they never bother about learning anything far removed from their realities.

I noticed the one servant going in and out rapidly, bullied a good deal by her master, deft but nervous. I noticed how everything was solid and good: the chairs, table, clock, clothes—and especially the cooking. I saw his local newspaper neatly folded on the mantelpiece. I saw the pet dog of his retirement crouching at his side, and I heard the chance sayings he threw to his nephew, the maxims granted to youth long ago. I wondered how much that nephew would inherit. I guessed about ten thousand pounds at the least, and twenty at the most. I was almost inclined to cross myself at the thought of such a lot of money.

My host grew more genial: he asked me questions on England. His wife also was interested in that country. They both knew more about it than their class in England knows about France: and this astonished me, for, in the gentry, English gentlemen know more about France than French gentlemen know about England.

He asked me if agriculture were still in a bad way; why we had not more of the people at the Universities; why we allowed only lords into our Parliament, and whether there were more French commercial travellers in England than English commercial travellers in France. In all these points I admitted, supplemented, and corrected, and probably distorted his impressions.

He asked me if English gunners were good. I said I did not know, but I thought so. He replied that the English drivers had a high reputation in his country—his brother (the brother of an ironmonger) was a Captain of the Horse Artillery, and had told him so. And this he said to me, who wore a French uniform, but whose heart was away up in Arun Valley, in my own woods, and at rest and alone.

In the last hour when we had to be getting back a certain tenderness came into his somewhat mercenary look. He devoted himself more to his nephew; he took him aside, and, with some ceremony, gave him money. He offered us cigars. We took one each. His round French face became all wrinkles, like a cracked plate. He said:

"Bah! Take them by the pocketful! We know what life is in the regiment," and he crammed half a dozen each into the pocket of our tunics. But when he said "We know what the life is," he lied. For he had only been a "mobile" in '70. He had voted, but never suffered, the conscription.

So we said good night to this man, our host, who had so regaled us. I may be wrong, but I fancy he was an anti-clerical. He was a hard man, just, eager, and attentive, narrow, as I have said, and unconsciously (as I have also said) building up the nation.

There was the Ironmonger of Bar-le-Duc; and there are hundreds of thousands of the same kind.


There is a force in Gaul which is of prime consequence to all Europe. It has canalized European religion, fixed European law, and latterly launched a renewed political ideal. It is very vigorous to-day.

It was this force which made the massacres of September, which overthrew Robespierre, which elected Napoleon. In a more concentrated form, it was this force which combined into so puissant a whole the separate men—not men of genius—who formed the Committee of Public Safety. It is this force which made the Commune, so that to this day no individual can quite tell you what the Commune was driving at. And it is this force which at the present moment so grievously misunderstands and overestimates the strength of the armies which are the rivals of the French; indeed, in that connexion it might truly be said that the peace of Europe is preserved much more by the German knowledge of what the French army is, even than by French ignorance of what the German army is.

I say the disadvantages of this force or quality in a commonwealth are apparent, for the weakness and disadvantages of something extraneous to ourselves are never difficult to grasp. What is of more moment for us is to understand, with whatever difficulty, the strength which such a quality conveys. Not to have understood that strength, nay, not to have appreciated the existence of the force of which I speak, has made nearly all the English histories of France worthless. French turbulence is represented in them as anarchy, and the whole of the great story which has been the central pivot of Western Europe appears as an incongruous series of misfortunes. Even Carlyle, with his astonishing grasp of men and his power of rapid integration from a few details (for he read hardly anything of his subject), never comprehended this force. He could understand a master ordering about a lot of servants; indeed, he would have liked to have been a servant himself, and was one to the best of his ability; but he could not understand self-organization from below. Yet upon the existence of that power depends the whole business of the Revolution. Its strength, then, (and principal advantage), lies in the fact that it makes democracy possible at critical moments, even in a large community.

There is no one, or hardly any one, so wicked or so stupid as to deny the democratic ideal. There is no one, or hardly any one, so perverted that, were he the member of a small and simple community, he would be content to forgo his natural right to be a full member thereof. There is no one, or hardly any one, who would not feel his exclusion from such rights, among men of his own blood, to be intolerable. But while every one admits the democratic ideal, most men who think and nearly all the wiser of those who think, perceive its one great obstacle to lie in the contrast between the idea and the action where the obstacle of complexity—whether due to varied interests, to separate origins, or even to mere numbers—is present.

The psychology of the multitude is not the psychology of the individual. Ask every man in West Sussex separately whether he would have bread made artificially dearer by Act of Parliament, and you will get an overwhelming majority against such economic action on the part of the State. Treat them collectively, and they will elect—I bargain they will elect for years to come—men pledged to such an action. Or again, look at a crowd when it roars down a street in anger—the sight is unfortunately only too rare to-day—you have the impression of a beast majestic in its courage, terrible in its ferocity, but with something evil about its cruelty and determination. Yet if you stop and consider the face of one of its members straggling on one of its outer edges, you will probably see the bewildered face of a poor, uncertain, weak-mouthed man whose eyes are roving from one object to another, and who appears all the weaker because he is under the influence of this collective domination. Or again, consider the jokes which make a great public assembly honestly shake with laughter, and imagine those jokes attempted in a private room! Our tricky politicians know well this difference between the psychologies of the individual and of the multitude. The cleverest of them often suffer in reputation precisely because they know what hopeless arguments and what still more hopeless jests will move collectivities, the individual units of which would never have listened to such humour or to such reasoning.

The larger the community with which one is dealing, the truer this is; so that, when it comes to many millions spread upon a large territory, one may well despair of any machinery which shall give expression to that very real thing which Rousseau called the General Will.

In the presence of such a difficulty most men who are concerned both for the good of their country and for the general order of society incline, especially as they grow older, to one, or other of the old traditional organic methods by which a State may be expressed and controlled. They incline to an oligarchy such as is here in England where a small group of families, intermarried one with the other, dining together perpetually and perpetually guests in each other's houses, are by a tacit agreement with the populace permitted to direct a nation. Or they incline to the old-fashioned and very stable device of a despotic bureaucracy such as manages to keep Prussia upright, and did until recently support the expansion of Russia.

The evils of such a compromise with a political idea are evident enough. The oligarchy will be luxurious and corporately corrupt, and individually somewhat despicable, with a sort of softness about it in morals and in military affairs. The despot or the bureaucracy will be individually corrupt, especially in the lower branches of the system, and hatefully unfeeling.

"But," (says your thinker, especially as he advances in age) "man is so made that he cannot otherwise be collectively governed. He cannot collectively be the master, or at any rate permanently the master of his collective destiny, whatever power his reason and free will give him over his individual fate. The nation" (says he), "especially the large nation, certainly has a Will, but it cannot directly express that Will. And if it attempts to do so, whatever machinery it chooses—even the referendum—will but create a gross mechanical parody of that subtle organic thing, the National soul. The oligarchy or the bureaucracy" (he will maintain, and usually maintain justly) "inherit, convey, and maintain the national spirit more truly than would an attempted democratic system."

General history, even the general history of Western Europe, is upon the whole on the side of such a criticism. Andorra is a perfect democracy, and has been a perfect democracy for at least a thousand years, perhaps since first men inhabited that isolated valley. But there is no great State which has maintained even for three generations a democratic system undisturbed.

Now it is peculiar to the French among the great and independent nations, that they are capable, by some freak in their development, of rapid communal self-expression. It is, I repeat, only in crises that this power appears. But such as it is, it plays a part much more real and much more expressive of the collective will than does the more ordinary organization of other peoples.

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