We get out of a word just what we put into it, plus the individuality of the man who uses it. Some men read into noble words only their own silliness, vulgarity, prejudice, or preconceived ideas. Another man reads with his heart open for new impressions, new insight, new fancies and ideals.
Words have not only their inherent meaning; they have their allied meanings. A word may mean one thing by itself. It may mean quite another thing when another word stands beside it; even marks of punctuation give words a curiously different sound and shade. Literature is a mastery, not only of the moods of men, but of the moods of words. Corot takes a stream, some grass and trees, a flitting patch of sky. By means of a few strokes of his brush, he manages to present that tree, sky, stream, in a way which suggests the pastoral experience of the ages. Where did that misty veil come from? the trembling lights and shadows, the half-heard sounds and silence of the woods, the changing cloud, the dim reflection, the atmosphere of mystery and peace?
So each man goes to the dictionary. He takes a word here, a word there, common words that everybody knows. He puts them together: the result is a presentation of the life of man, and lays hold of his inmost spirit.
"Our birth is but a deep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home!"
To write, the soul chooses, and God stands ever by to help. That is why great work always impresses us as inspired. God did it. It is God who whispers the deathless thought and phrase: the subtler collocations are divine.
Take the word star. To the child it means a bright point that glitters and twinkles in the sky, and sets him saying an old nursery rhyme. To the youth or maiden it suggests love, romance, a summer eve, or a frosty walk under the friendly winter sky. To the rhetorician it suggests a figure of speech—the star of hope. To the mariner it suggests guidance and the homeward port. To the astronomer it means the world in which he lives. His life is centred in that star. To the poet it means all these things and many more. For the poet is the one who, in his own heart, holds all the meanings that words hold for the race. Read again the lines just quoted, and think of Wordsworth's outlook on the star!
The dictionary definition of a word can seldom be the real one, nor does it reveal the deeper sense it has. It blazes a path for the understanding, but individual thought must follow. Take the words time, friendship, work, play, heroism. It took Carlyle to define Time for us. Emerson has defined Friendship. Let the lights and shadows of the thought of Carlyle and Emerson play upon these words, they are at once removed from mechanical definition, and we dimly perceive that each word is larger than the outreach of the thought of man. Another generation than ours shall define and refine them. In heaven, in some other aeon, we shall find out what they really mean!
Thus knowledge is not permanent. It reels. It proceeds, it changes, it is iridescent with new significance from day to day.
What is true of a word, and what we make of it, is true of every phase of learning. The black-board is not all. Learning is not tied to it, or to any one person, demonstration, interpretation, event, or epoch. No wise man can keep his learning to himself, and yet he cannot, though he teach a thousand years, transmit his deeper learning to another. The atmosphere, the casual information, the spiritual magnetism of a great man, will teach better than the text-books, the lecture courses, and the formal resources of academic halls. Thus Mark Hopkins is in himself a university, given a boy on the other end of the log on which he sits.
It is the relativity of knowledge that dances before the eye, that bewilders, eludes, evades. Group-systems and electives seem like a makeshift for the real thing. We cannot tie a fact to a pupil, because to the tail of the fact is tied history itself. Until a pupil gets a glimpse of that relation, that dependence of which we have just heard, with all that has yet happened in connection with it, he is not yet quite master of his fact. He recites glibly the date of Thermopylae, and does not know that all Greece is trailing behind his desk. When, after subsequent research, he knows something of Greece, he discovers Greece to be dovetailed into Rome and Egypt, and they lay hold upon the plain of Shinar and Eden, and the immemorial, prehistoric years.
Ah, no! We never really know. Every fact recedes from us, as might an ebbing wave, and leaves us stranded upon an unhorizoned beach, more despairing than before. Education does not solve the problems of life—it deepens the mystery. What, then, may the sage know? Are there no sages? And have we all been misinformed?
A sage is one who knows what, in his position of life, is most necessary for him to know. The larger sage, the great Sage, is the one who knows what is necessary for the race to know.
It is a wrong idea of wisdom, that we must necessarily know what some one else knows. Wisdom is single-track for each man. There are in the world those who know how to build aqueducts, and to bake charlotte russe, and to sew trousers. Aqueducts and tailor work may be alike out of my individual and personal knowledge, yet I may not necessarily be an ignorant man. The primitive hunter stood in the forest. For him to be a hunting-sage, was to know the weather, traps, weapons, the times, and the lairs and ways of beasts. He knew lions and monkeys, the coiled serpent and the serpent that hissed by the ruined wall; the ways of the wolf, the jackal, and the kite; the manners of the bear and the black panther in the jungle-wilds. Kipling is the brother of that early man: he is a forest-sage, and would have held his own in other times.
The sea-sage was the one who could toss upon the swan-road without fear. He knew the strength of oak and ash; the swing of oar, the curve of prow, the dash of wave, and the curling breaker's sweep. He knew the maelstroms and the aegir that swept into northern fiords; the thunder and wind and tempest; the coves, safe harbors and retreats. To-day, the sea-sage rules the fishing-boat, the ocean liner, the coastwise steamers, and the lake-lines of the world.
The fishing-sage knows the ways and haunts of fish. He is wise in the salmon, the perch, the trout, the tarpon, and the muscalonge. He says. To-day the bass will bite on dobsons, but to-morrow we must have frogs.
No sagacity is universal, but the love of sagacity may be. The man who starts out to implant a new way of education has a noble task before him, but is it a final one, or even a more than tolerably practical one? Is there such a thing as a place for Truth at wholesale, even in an academy or college? Can a man receive an education outside of himself? He may be played upon by grammars and by loci-paper, by electrical machines, and parsing tables and Grecian accents, by the names of noted authors and statesmen, and the thrill of historic battles and decisions. He may be placed under a rain of ethical and philosophic ideas, and may be forced to put on a System of Thought, as men put on a mackintosh. But his true education is what he makes of these things. If he hears of Theodoric with a yawn, we say—the college-folk—He must be imbecile. No, not imbecile! he may become a successful toreador, or snake-charmer, which things are out of our line! And a man may be an upright citizen, a good husband, and a sincerely religious man, who has never heard of Francesca, nor Fra Angelico, nor named the name of Botticelli!
The moment we set bounds to wisdom, we find that we have shut something out. Wisdom is the free, active life of a growing and attaching soul. We must not only attach information to ourselves, we must assimilate it. Else we are like a crab which should drag about Descartes, or as an ocean sucker which should hug a copy of Thucydides.
Education is the taking to one's self, so far as one may in a lifetime, all that the race has learned through these six thousand years. Education is not a thing of books alone, or schools; it is a process of intellectual assimilation of what is about us, or what we put about ourselves. At every step we have a choice. This is the real difference between students at the same school or university. One puts away Greek, and the other lays up football and college societies. A third gets all three, being a little more swift and alert. One stows away insubordination—another, order and obedience. One does quiet, original work of reading and research; the other stows away schemes for getting through recitations and examinations. No two students ever come out of the same school, college, or shop with the same education. Their training may have been measurably alike, but the result is immeasurably unlike. Education, in the last analysis, is getting the highest intellectual value out of one's environment and opportunities. There is a cow-boy philosopher, a kitchen-philosopher, as truly as there is a philosopher of the academic halls.
Conduct is the pons asinorum of life. Wise men somehow cross it, though stumblingly, and with tears. Fools, usurers, oppressors, and spendthrifts of life are left gaping and wrangling on the hellward side. Thinkers have always been climbing up on each other's shoulders to look over into the Beyond. What they have seen, they have told. Some men climb so high into the ethereal places of the Ideal, that they do not get down again. They are the impractical men. An impractical man is not necessarily the educated man; he is the man at the top of some intellectual fence, who wishes to come down, but has absent-mindedly forgotten that he has legs. The legs are not absent, but his wit is. So with the impractical man in every sphere. Education has not really removed his common-sense, as some say, his power to connect passing events with their causes, and to act reasonably; but it has set his thought on some other thought for the time being, and the dinner-bell, we will say, does not detach him from his inquiry. His necktie rides up! He goes out into the street without a hat! Let him alone till he proves the worth of what he is about. The practical man, who hears the dinner-bell and prides himself upon this fact, may not hear sounds far-off and clear, that ring in the impractical man's ear, and that may sometime tell him how to make a better dinner-bell, or provide a better dinner—a great social philosophy—for the race!
The really impractical man is not he who reaches out to the intellectual and ideal aspects of life; it is he who lives as if this life were all. There are women who make pets of their clothes, as men make pets of horse or dog. They have just time enough in life to dress themselves up. Looking back over their years, they can only say, I have had clothes! In the same number of years, with no greater advantages or opportunities, other women have become the queenly women of the race. Some women are girt with centuries, instead of gold or gems. Whenever they appear, the event becomes historic; what they do adds new lustre to life.
We are all prodigals. We throw away time and strength, and years, and gold, and then weep that we are ignorant, and embeggared at the last. Who shall teach us wisdom, and in what manner may we be wise?
What say the sages of the vast possibilities of the race? With one voice they say: Be brave! Do not cower, shrink, or whine. Throw out upon the world a free fearlessness of thought and word and deed. Courage, freedom, heroism, faith, exactness, honor, justice, and mercy—these traits have been handed down as the traditional learning of the heart of man.
Another ideal of the race is Law. We have given up a chaos-philosophy—the haphazard continuity of events—a cometary orbit, for the world. There are fixed relations everywhere existent: the succession of cycles is orderly and prearranged.
Another ideal is Progress. We are moving, not toward the bottom, but toward the top of possibility. We reject annihilation, because then there is nothing left. And there must always be something left—progress—a bigger something, a better something. Should annihilation be the truth of things, and all the race mortal, then some day there would be a Last Man. And after the Last Man, what? He would die, and then all that any of the other stars could view of the vast panorama of our earthly generations would be an unburied corpse, with not even a vulture hovering to pick it to freshness in the air!
A Last Man? No. Instead, the seers have shown us a great multitude in a heavenly country, praising God, and singing forth His Name forever. Immortality broods over the great thought of the race. All great minds look upward to it: it is the final consummation of our dreams.
Another ideal is social adjustment, and social service. We must do something for some one, or we cast current sagacity behind the back. People crowd each other to the wall. The weak of communities and nations are too often crushed. Redress is in the air. The longed-for wisdom of to-day shows a kaleidoscopic front, in which are turning the slum-dweller and the millionaire; the white man, the yellow, and the black; the town and the territorial possession. The slave-colony, garbage-laws, magistrates, and murderers are mixed in motley, and there are whirling vacant-lot schemes abroad, potato-patches, wood-yards, organized charity, Wayfarers' Lodges, resounding cries of municipal reform, and various other interests of the wisdom-scale.
Hence, wisdom has not yet been arrived at: we are still on the run. This twentieth century will find new problems, new queries, new cranks, and new dismays!
One thing, however, shines out clear: Wisdom is being recognized as having a moral aspect, and men are looking for a Religion which shall sum up the learning of the sages, the information of the race.
When we look down into the physical universe, the primary thing that we find there is gravitation. When we look into the moral universe, the primary thing that we find there is also gravitation—a sinking to a Lower. This is sin—a contrariness of things—which makes the world an evil place to live in, instead of a good; which wrecks character and states, eats the hearts out of cultures and civilizations, destroys strong races, leaves a stain upon even the youngest child, and which is constantly drawing the race downward, instead of upward.
Sin, sin, sin! Everywhere the fact glares upon us, and cannot be hid, or put away. Sin is not an intellectual toy, for philosophers to play with or define as "a limitation of being." Sin is a reality, for men to feel, recoil from, and of which one must repent.
Sin is energy deliberately misplaced: energy directed against the course of things, the infinite development, the will of God. Sin is corruption, and desolation, and decay. Death broods over the spirit of man, unless a Redeemer come. The unredeemed ages hang over history like a pall. In them there are monumental oppression, cruelties, and crimes. The breath of myriad millions went out in darkness, and there was none to save. A plague swept over all the race.
Hence, even scientifically considered, the final aim of thinking must be, to arrive at some thought which will take hold of this primary fact of sin and uproot it; which will show how the world may be purged of sin.
Slowly but inevitably we are moving to this great Thought. It is summed up in one word: Redemption. The watchword of a century ago was gravitation. It explained the poise of the universe by a great and hitherto undiscovered law. The watchword of yesterday was evolution. It explains progressive change: the mounting-up of life "through spires of form." The forms of the universe are seen in a series which is in the main ascendant, and in which the survivor is supreme. The watchword of to-morrow is Redemption. The Thinker will some day live, who will make that great word Redemption stand out in all its vast majesty and significance. This, I take it, is the work of our new century.
Redemption is the explanation of the existence of man, of his present progress, and his future destiny. It is the great mystery of joy in which the race partakes; the spiritual culmination of all things earthly; the forecast of eternal things yet to be.
Redemption is not a dogma; it is a life. Redemption is a perpetual and ascendant moral growth. It marks a world-balm, a world-change. It is in the spirit of man that it works, and not in his outer condition, or external strivings. It is ultimately to root sin out of the world.
Through stormy sorrows and perpetual desolations comes the race to God. Zion is the Whole of things—the encompassment of space, and time, and endless years,—an environment of immortality and peace.
Virtue leads the race to Joy, and there is no byway to this height. The final aspect of the universe is joy. Joy is elemental—a vast vibration that sweeps through centuries as years! A day in His courts is as a thousand, and a thousand years are as one day, because they thrill with an immortal and imperishable emotion. The seraphim and cherubim, Sandalphon and Azrael, are angels of enduring joy. Joy is the soul's share of the life of God.
Thus when the world has breathed to us the holy name of Christ, it has told us the highest that it knows. The March of Sages is toward a Redeemer! The banner of Wisdom is furled about the Cross!
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF TRADERS
_Lo, my soul, look forth abroad And mark the busy stir: Wouldst thou say, in pride and scorn, Our God is not in her! Nay, the bonds, the wares, the coin,— These, in truth, are passing things; Other treasures thrill the life Of earth's great merchant kings!
We, they say, would wake the power In mountain and in mine; And transport, from sea to sea, The cedar, oak, and pine: Build the bridge, and plant the town, Enter every open mart; Make our nation's commerce flow,— But this is not our heart!
Many a prayer uplifted springs O'er desk, and din, and roar; Many an humble knee is bent When the rushed day is o'er; Far within, where God may be, All exists His Throne to raise; Every triumph of our power Becomes a form of Praise!
God of nations, hear our cry, And keep us just and true; Lay Thy hand on all our lives, And bless the work we do: Then from every coast and clime Land and sea shall tribute bring; Gold and traffic, world-domain We offer to our King!_
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
We are all traders. Each of us is endowed with some faculty, ware, or possession which he is constantly exchanging for other things. We trade time, talent, service, goods, acres, produce, counsel, experience, ideals. The world is in reality a Bourse of Exchange. Each of us brings some day his special product to the common mart.
There are traders and traders—the just and the unjust—the man of honor and the rogue. We set values on thoughts and on transactions, on merchandise and on philanthropies, on ideas and on accounts; and there is a constant distribution of the affairs, as well as of the worldly goods of men.
But in a restricted sense, we think of trade as the exchange of produce which is material and mobile,—which may be touched, handled, weighed, transported, bought, and sold. The substance of the earth is constantly taking new shape before our eyes, being rearranged in kaleidoscopic combinations, and transported from port to port, from town to town, from sea to sea. One can look nowhere without seeing this ceaseless activity progressing. Everywhere there is a whir of wheels, a plash of waves, a din of assembly, as the new combinations take place.
There was a day when trade was a thing of here-and-there; a thing of sailing ships and caravans, of merchants of Bagdad, Cairo, Venice, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Damascus. Ivory, gold, gems, precious stuffs, teak and cedar wood, Lebanon pine, apes, peacocks, sandal-wood, camel's hair, goat's hair, frankincense, pearl, dyes, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, Balm of Gilead, calamus, spikenard, corn, ebony, figs, fir, olives, olive-wood, wheat, amber, copper, lead, tin, and precious stones were the chief articles of exchange. A very little sufficed the poor; the rich were housed in palaces and panoplied in gems.
As time went on, the processional of traders became a processional led out, in turn, by the merchants of one city after another. It is a picturesque study, that of the trade-routes of the Middle Ages! There was the Mediterranean seaboard, and there were the Baltic towns and the Hanse towns; the Portuguese mariners and traders; the Venetian merchant princes. There was the Spanish colonial trade; the Dutch trade of the East Indies; the trade of Amsterdam and London. There were the Elizabethan sea-rovers. Then came the British trade in the East Indies, and the gradual growth of the trade of France, Germany, England, and the United States. This is a story of human wants reaching out as civilization advanced, and of the extending of the earth-exchange. Everywhere there has been a correspondence between national prosperity and increasing trade.
To-day, each man demands more of the earth's products than ever before. He reaches out a hand for comforts and luxuries, as well as for necessities. He grasps not only the produces of his own and his neighbor's field and vineyard, but demands what lies across continents and seas. Instead of the ship, the camel, and the ass, we now have the ocean freighter or liner, and the flying train of cars: new forces, oil, steam, electricity, and water-power, do the carrying work of man. And hence trade has become Trade, and each trader is involved in the comfort, success, and prosperity of many others. A single commercial transaction to-day involves the lives of hundreds of thousands, competes for their toil and life-blood, carries the decision of their destiny.
A great merchant is the real Kris Kringle. He stands at the centre of exchange, distributes from the tropics and the arctic zones. He deals out fur and feathers, books, toys, clothing, engines; ribbons, laces, silks, perfumes; bread-stuffs, sugar, cotton, iron, ice, steel; wheat, flour, beef, stone; lumber, drugs, coal, leather. He scatters periodically the products of mills and looms, of shoe-shops and print-works, fields, factories, mines, and of art-workers. He thus becomes a social force of great power, a social law-giver, in fact. Under his iron rule, the lives of the masses are uplifted or cast down.
As large eras open, the ethical ideals become higher. We are beginning to inquire, as never before, into the basis of trade, the place of the trader, the right conduct of this vast problem of Distribution upon which hinges so much of human life and fate. All things look, not only to the integration of trade, but to its exaltation.
Trade has ceased to be a thing of individual energy, talent, and commercial alertness. It has risen to great proportions. The large trader is in control of national conduit, as well as of national expense. There is a great deal more in business than the art of making money. Business is, at the roots, a way of making nations; of developing the resources of a country, of handling its industries, of protecting its commerce, of enlarging its institutions, of uplifting its training, aspirations, and ideals. Traffic is educational. Imports influence the national life. We may import opium or Bibles, whiskey or bread-stuffs, locomotives or dancing pigs.
The sceptre held by Tyre and Venice is passing into our own hands. But trade, to-day, is a matter of the imagination, as well as of the stock-book. 11 needs a great imagination to handle the present-day problems of business and finance. The prosperity of a nation depends largely on the intelligence, integrity, and magnanimity of its business men. To be narrow-minded in business, is not only intellectual astigmatism, it is poor commercial policy. To make use of present opportunities to control present advantages needs a great education and a large human experience. It is the man of insight, of sympathy, of economic ideals, who will lastingly control our national prosperity and advance our industrial wealth.
With all this demand, the business man still stands largely in a class by himself, a class apart from the great leaders of the world. He is not yet received into the spiritual circles of the race. He goes about the world, sits on boards and committees, fills directorships and trusteeships, pays pew-rent, and runs towns. But when the spiritual conclaves of the world take place, when the things of life and death are inquired into, when words are said of the higher conduct of the life of man, if he draw near inquiringly or unguardedly to the sacred place, scholar and poet, priest, saint, and proud hand-worker alike rise up and say, Go away.
It wears upon the heart—this spiritual isolation of the business man. Does not he often say sadly to himself, They only want my money?
Why must he go away? What has he done, that he must be waved down? If we discover why he must go away, we shall discover the meaning of that great caste-line which has long been drawn, and ought no longer to be drawn, between trade and letters, trade and the Church, trade and social prestige.
The reason he must go away is this: He has never ruled the higher history of man; he does not yet quite belong to the ideal-makers of the race. Understand, I am not now speaking of the new business man, the exceptional one, upright, cultured, altruistic, whom you and I may know; I am speaking of a broad class-line, a class distinction.
It is a strange concept that would bar the business man from the ideal; that would limit his life to an account-book, a ledger, a roll of stocks, rents, and possessions, instead of granting him the freedom of the universe, the privilege of ministering to the race. Singularly enough, the business class is the last class that Christianity has set free. Slaves have been given liberty; women, social companionship and intellectual equality; manual labor has been lifted to dignity and honor. But to break the shackles of the man of trade is the work of our era, or of an era yet to come. Thousands of young men are daily stepping into counting-houses, or behind sales-counters, or into independent stores, who will never lift their eyes from their goods and account-books, nor rise above the linen, hardware, groceries, or house-fixtures which they sell. Such a situation is suicidal of national prosperity, and blocks the high hopes of the world.
Lack of appreciation of the life of business is sinful and unjust. A high-principled businessman may be one of the noblest leaders of mankind. The world needs great business men—men who will know how to use the resources of a country, how to plan for its industry, manufactures, and commerce: men who understand the principles of production and exchange; ways of transportation; systems of credit and banking: men who know the constitution of the country, and the history of its development; its strength and weakness, its possibilities and needs: men who will deal honorably in business contracts, both with buyers and employees, and also with law-making bodies: men who will steadily try to advance international prosperity, as well as personal wealth.
But to understand business on this plane, and to conduct it in this large way, needs a fine education, an education built, first of all, on a practical basis, such as the education of our common schools. Then should follow a course in the ideals of the race, the classic studies in language, literature, history, science, and philosophy. Then should come a technical course, graduate or undergraduate, such as the courses offered by the Universities of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Wisconsin, which include, in general, lectures and special studies in Public Law and Politics, Business Law and Practice, Political Economy, Statistics, Banking, Finance, and Sociology. In addition to this, there should be a thorough knowledge of the Bible and of Christian Ethics, with a deep heart-experience of religion.
Endowed with natural business talent, the young man who goes out into the world with such preparation as this knows a great deal more than just how to make money; he knows how to make it honorably and how to spend it, in his business, family, and social life, for the public good; he has in him the making of a statesman and a philanthropist, as well as a man of wealth.
Two things take one into the inner circle of the ideal-makers of the race—imagination and sympathy. Ideals cannot be bought with gold. The ideal is always founded on integrity, progress, and common-sense. It is preeminently practical, as well: the thing that inevitably must be, now or hereafter, however men laugh it to scorn to-day.
Imagination is the faculty of perceiving the higher and final relations of life, the relation of one's work to the progress of the world, and of one's conduct: to spiritual history. What the ideal-maker tries to do is to set holy standards that shall not pass away: to do abiding work, in thought, deed, word; work philosophically planned, and perseveringly carried out; work which he shall do regardless of the outer circumstances of his life—poverty or wealth, of threats, misunderstanding, or hoots of scorn. He is unmoved, both by the rage of the populace and by its most tumultuous applause. He lives for truth, not for personal advance; for progress, not for wealth or honor. What he lays down as a precept, that he tries to live up to, in the way that shall win the approval of the eternal years.
Sordidness in commercial life is not necessary: greed is not foreordained. Christianity establishes a new system of trading-philosophy, and a new basis of commercial ethics. There is a god-like way of trade—Christ might Himself have bought and sold—else Christianity fails of its full mission, and there remains a class of the socially lost, of the ethically unsaved. One reason why it is so hard to get business men into the Church, or to interest them religiously in any way, is that ministers, in general, do not understand or appreciate business men. In one of the most stirring sermons I ever heard, occurred this unjust sentence: "Our country has been built up by the martyr, and not by the millionaire." No! Our country has been built up by both the martyr and the millionaire!
Christianity projects into the world new ideals of Trade, of Gain, of Competition, Value, and Return for Toil.
What is Trade? Is it merely a way of making money? Then there is no ethical basis for it. "The amount of money which is needed for a good life," says Aristotle, "is not unlimited."
One concept is: Trade is something which belongs to me. It is that part of the world's exchange which I can get under my personal control. It is the balance between human industries and human needs which I hold for my part of the world, and which others are continually trying to wrest from me, and which I must keep by all means, fair or foul. Competition is the battle of the strongest, the quickest, the meanest! I must know tricks. I must get in with people, get hold of some sort of pull, learn to dissemble, to flatter, manipulate, hedge, dodge. Success is a matter of being sly. Anything is allowable which comes out ahead, which adds to the dollar-pile, or which makes the loudest advertising noise!
To buy at the least, and sell at the most, regardless of the conditions under which least and most are attained—the man who enters life with this idea of trade in his mind might just as well be born a shark and live to prey. Every free dollar in the world will tease and fret him, until he sees it on its way to his own pocket. If this is all there is in trade, the noble-minded will let it alone: it gives no human outlook. It not only undermines personal character, it is the root of national ignominy and dishonor.
What has Christianity to do with this shark-instinct? with the rapacity which looks on the world as a vast grabbing-ground, and upon all natural resources as mere commercial prey? The value of Christianity lies in its reasonable and intellectual appeal. It does not spring upon one like a highwayman and say, Hands up! Give me your purse! It says gently, Son, give me thy heart. It then proceeds to refashion that heart, to fill it with new principles and with world-dreams.
Trade is a just exchange of what one man has for what another man needs. It may take place individually between man and man, in which transaction a horse, an ox, or a tool may change hands. Or one man may assume a responsibility for a number of people, and say: I will give this whole town shoes, in return for which you may give me a house, market-produce, clothing, and an education for my children. The thing will come out even, if you and I are honest. Or a climate, a civilization, may give to another that which the other lacks. We send school-books and machinery to China; she sends us tea, matting, and bamboo. The whole right theory of trade is a give-and-take between men and nations, based on a just price, and with a deep law of Value, not yet wholly formulated, underlying each transaction.
Bargains should not be one-sided. Trade, in a large sense, is a way of exchange in which each party to the trade receives an advantage. Not only this, it is a process of distribution, by which each one receives the greatest possible advantage. Money-making is a secondary result: in true trade it is not the final benefit.
Take the case of a specially helpful and paying book. The author receives a royalty, and has an income. The publisher receives his profits, and makes a living. The public gains inspiration and ideals. Who is loser? This is sheer business, yet it means loving service for all concerned.
To illustrate further: A physician has a frail child, with which the ordinary milk in the market does not agree. To build up its health, he buys a country place and a good cow. The child thrives. In his practice, he sees many other frail children, and it occurs to him that they, too, can be benefited by the same kind of care and watchfulness that he is giving his own child. He buys more cows, has them scientifically cared for, and his agents sell the milk. He finds himself, in the course of time, the owner of a dairy farm, and a man of increasing income. But his trade is not trade for the sake of money! it is trade to make sick children strong and well. He exchanges professional knowledge, executive ability, and human sympathy, for money; in return for which, children receive health, parents joy, and the race a more athletic set of men and women. This is an instance of the inner spirit of the true trade: the spirit which may rule all trade, deny it, or discount it, or scorn it, as you will.
Price is a value set on material, on labor, on interest, on scarcity, on excellence, on commercial risks; it is the approximate measure of the cost of production. The ethical price of a commodity is the price which would enable its producer to produce it under healthful and happy conditions—which would insure his having what Dr. Patten calls his "economic rights."
This joyous exertion is not harmful; it is tonic. Excellence is an inspiration, an intoxication. Let excellence, not Will-it-pass? be the standard of exchange. From the very endeavor after excellence comes a certain exaltation of spirit, which ennobles the least fragment of daily toil. When the producer brings forth somewhat for sale, let him say: There! That is the best that I can do! It is not what I tried to make of it—the thing of my dreams—but it is the very best which, under the given conditions, I could produce. Then the shoddy side of trade will disappear.
The Law of Equity is the final law of trade. But in whose hands is equity? Who appraises value? Who sets price? In whose hand is the final price of the necessaries of life—wheat, rice, sugar, soap, cotton, wool, coal, milk, iron, lumber, ice? The man who puts a price on an article, as buyer or seller, enters an arena which is not only commercial—it is judicial and ethical: he declares for what amount a man's life-blood shall be used.
No one absolutely sets price. It is determined by far-reaching industrial conditions, and by economic law. War, weather, famine, stocks, strikes, elections, all have a say. Yet, to a certain degree, there are those who rule price. As a representative of the ideal, as executors of social trust, how shall each one use his Power of Price? The man who has control of a price—a price for a day's labor, for wages, for a cargo, or for any kind of product—has control of the living conditions of the one who works for him. The question is not: How shall I grind down price to the lowest? It is: What price will be an ethical return to this man for his social toil?—just to me for my brains, my capital, my energy, my distributing power,—just to him for his brains, his time, his skill, his artistic perceptions, his fidelity and honor? Each buyer must henceforth not only resolve: I will buy only what I can pay for, but, what I can pay for at a just rate. So far as lies in my power, I will make an adequate return to society for this personal benefit.
Some one says: Do you realize that you are making a moral laughing-stock of much of our system of trade? that you are setting an axe to that system, more cutting than the axe of any Socialist, Nihilist, or Anarchist in the world? Oh, no. I have simply set myself to answer the question: How can the business man stand among the ideal-makers of the world, so that he shall no more, in spiritual assemblies, be told to go away?
Woman is the real economic distributer. The millionaire manufacturer imagines that he himself runs his business. Oh, no. It is run by farmers' wives. When they do not care for yarn or calico, his looms stand idle for a year; the vast machinery of the world turns on woman's little word: I want. Hence the education of women should include this factor: the desire to want the right things. Extravagance is not a part of woman's make-up; it is extraneous.
Gain is that which permanently enriches the life. By every act of charity, or justice, or insight, or right barter, the soul is made more grand. True trade everywhere may be made a new method of inspiration, growth, and power.
Money is a makeshift of the race. God is the only real appraiser, and we never get back a money-value for our soul's toil. Whether we pass wampum, or nickels, or taels, or bank-checks, we are not yet paid for our trade.
The higher value of money is its spiritual capacity. Not what it will bring me is primarily important, but what I can buy with it for the race. Sometimes the question comes over me: What am I trading for money? My time? My energy? My ideals? Part of my soul is passing from me: do dollars ever repay? Hence it comes about that all money transactions are fragmentary and symbolic.
Money may lead to poverty, or to spiritual wealth. The gift of trade is a gift of God, as much as the gift of prophecy or song. In a right way, we should all love gain. We are not born to go out of the world as poor as when we came into it. We should gain stature, wisdom, strength, influence, ideals. If our latent business capacity were more fully aroused, we should get much more out of life. We would refuse to barter a spiritual heritage for carnal things.
We trade thoughts and feelings. But it is very hard to trade fine impulses with those who are intrinsically vulgar. Their treasury is empty of spiritual coin, and their storehouse contains no world-thoughts. We can send a caravan across the desert, a ship across the sea, but we cannot send a Thought into a flaccid or a pompous brain.
We trade position and influence. The evil of the spoils system is not that one gets something for something,—it is that one gets something for something less, or for nothing. Whatever we have to give may be rightly given; the wrong comes when we give it to the idle or unworthy. When we trade political preferment for high merit, both the office-holders and the country are gainers by the exchange.
Marriage is the great mart of exchange. Here the possessions of one sex are set up against those of the other. Everywhere marriage is spoken of as a good or a bad "bargain." Each man shall say: "Sweetheart, in Myself I offer you the treasures of manhood. I give strength, courage, magnanimity, action, protection, and the indomitable will." Each wife should say: "Dear, in me are all gentleness, courtesy, beauty, grace, patience, mercy, and hope. I, too, am brave, but my courage is of the heart. I, too, am strong-willed, but my will is deep-set in love." As years go on, there comes a time when Love says: "Between us now there is neither mine nor thine. The universe is ours together!"
Human love is not all. There is yet a higher impulse. The most business-like question that ever touches the heart of man is this: For what shall I trade my soul? We hold our souls high: we perceive that eternity itself is not too much to ask. And hence the highest barter is that of the earthly for the spiritual; of the temporal for the unseen and eternal. We say, Give me God, give me heaven, give me divine and sacrificial Love, and I will give my heart. And thus the last transaction is between God and the soul. Godliness is great Gain, and to exchange earth for heaven is a satisfying and unregretted Trade.
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF WORKERS
Jesus, Thou hast bought us Not with gold or gem, But with Thine own life-blood, For Thy diadem. With Thy blessing filling Each who comes to Thee, Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free. By Thy grand redemption, By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord's side; Saviour, we are Thine!
Not for weight of glory, Not for crown or palm, Enter we the army, Raise the warrior psalm; But for love that claimeth Lives for whom He died, He whom Jesus nameth Must be on His side. By Thy love constraining, By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord's side; Saviour, we are Thine!
FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL
What is work? Work is energy applied to the creation of either material or immaterial products. The digging of the soil preparatory to raising a corn-crop is work; the making of brooms; the writing of fugues. There is no one who does not work, at one time or another, and a man's social value depends largely upon the amount of work that he can do.
Even the energy which is seemingly applied to destructive tasks is really subsidiary to a constructive ideal. Thus the hewing of timber is a destructive task, but its object is not to scatter trees around, but to make a clearing on which to plant wheat; or to have lumber, in order to build a house. So, also, we blast rock, in order to get stones for a stone wall, or for the filling of a road-bed. And we rip up old clothes in order to have rags, and to make room in our homes for other things. Destructiveness from a sheer love of destructiveness is not work—it is vandalism. The true Man works. When Adam's crook-stick turned over the brown earth to make it fertile, he began the industry of the world. The whole horizon of man's endeavor is spanned by one word, Work. It has built cities, bridged rivers, united continents, and sent the myriad spindles of trade whirring under a thousand changing skies.
Work is the open-sesame of success. It is curious to see how uneasily some men will roam from one end of the earth to the other, trying to find an easy place, a place where work will not be needed or required. There is no such place. The higher the honor, the harder the work. The power to work is ordinarily the measure of a man's possibilities of success. Long hours, hard toil, lack of recognition and appreciation, drudgery, a thousand attempts to one successful issue,—these are the ways in which the colossal achievements of mankind have been built up. Work, as has well been said, is an ascending stairway. On its broad base are ranged all the multitudes of the earth. Those who can climb mount the higher and ever-narrowing stair.
The great man can begin anywhere, or with any task. He says, If I am going into the giant-business, I may as well begin now! Born and bred in the forest, he lays hand to his axe, and looking up at some tall oak, cries out, I will begin here! With the first stroke of the axe, success is not less sure than in his last endeavor. Success of the right kind is a scientific achievement.
The line has not yet been drawn, and I doubt whether it ever can be drawn, between productive and non-productive labor. There is a cleavage of tasks, however, which may be approximately expressed, as work that is done for support, for daily bread, and work which is done because certain faculties of mind and heart and soul demand expression, development, and scope. We all have powers which are willing to be set in action primarily for self-preservation—for personal, material, and transitory ends. We are also endowed with faculties which react, primarily, in behalf of universal aims, though that may not debar them from also bringing an advantage to ourselves. In proportion as we are talented, magnanimous, and high-minded, we delight in spending a part of our lives in working for the race.
Thus Thoreau, when he, "by surveying, carpentry and day-labor of various other kinds," had earned $13.34, was doing income-work, the work by which he had to live. For the same purpose, he worked at raising potatoes, green corn, and peas. When he wrote Walden, he did a kind of work which also in time brought him an income. But he did not write Walden for food or money; he wrote it primarily because he liked to write, and for the benefit of mankind.
In order to be contented and happy, each normal adult human being must have at least the chance of doing these two kinds of work. Unless he or she can do income-work, he or she is not economically independent; unless he can do universal work, he is not socially and spiritually free.
Much of the present-day discontent is owing to the fact that these two kinds of work are not represented, as they should be, in every working-life.
The problem in regard to the working-man is not how to pet him, nor to patronize him, but how to educate him and inspire him! He is not a parasite to be fed by the capitalist, nor is the capitalist a parasite upon the working-power of the working-man. Both are men. The problem is, How shall the capitalist lead the noblest, most public-spirited, and helpful life in relation to those in his employ? How shall the working-man lay hold on the best that life can give? How shall he find a work which he is competent to do, and likes to do, and may be supported by doing—and at the same time have a chance to grow; to enter into the large, free culture-life of the world?
The complaint of the working-man, when really analyzed, runs down to this: I do income-work, but it does not bring me bread enough to live. Not only that, but ground down as I am by toil, all possibility of the larger, universal work is shut away from me. My faculties are atrophied—paralyzed—and hence my soul smoulders with deep and angry discontent. This ceaseless and sordid anxiety for bread cuts me out of my world-life, my world-toil. I cannot do scientific research-work, or write the books and papers that I ought. My universal labor is interrupted: I cannot be happy until I can take up this larger work again.
As the trade of civilization advances, the meaning of bread changes. The university professor, no less than the day-laborer, finds his income too small for him, and says, "I, too, do income-work which does not bring me bread, books, travel, society, a summer home, and surroundings which are not only decent and sanitary, but refined and beautiful."
Is it not also the source of the discontent to-day, among almost all classes of women, except the most highly educated and efficient? Women say—our modern daughters, wives, and mothers: "In the home, we do income-work for which we do not receive income. When strangers do this work, they are paid, and we are not." In addition, many a woman is so bound down by daily tasks, that her whole soul cries out, and we hear of the high rate of insanity among farmers' wives, of nervous prostration of the housewives in our towns, and become accustomed to such expressions as "the death of a woman on a Kansas farm."
This discontent takes many restless forms. It leads daughters, who ought to be at home, out into morally dangerous but income-earning work; it takes wives out into all manner of clubs, without regard to the fact: as to whether the particular club, in its atmosphere and influence, is good or bad; it brings discouragement, disorder, and unrest into the home, dissatisfaction with house-duties and home-tasks, and is sapping our life where it should be best and strongest—in the home—taking out of it youth, spirit, enthusiasm, inspiration, and content.
The three questions asked in regard to each worker are: 1. What work can he do? 2. Of what quality? 3. In what time? The difference between industry and idleness is that work is one thing which no one may honorably escape. Since it must be done, the problem of life is not how to escape work, but how to find the right work, and how best to do it, and most swiftly, when the choice is made.
"_Forth they come from grief and torment; on they wend toward health and mirth, All the wide world is their dwelling, every corner of the earth. Buy them, sell them for thy service! Try the bargain what 'tis worth, For the days are marching on.
"These are they who build thy houses, weave thy raiment, win thy wheat, Smooth the rugged, fill the barren, turn the bitter into sweet, All for thee this day—and ever. What reward for them is meet? Till the host comes marching on._"
The trade of toil for money has led to many problems and discussions. To-day the trenchant question: "What More than Wages?" is a matter of eager talk. Is this a living-wage?—Just enough warmth, not to freeze. Just enough clothing to be decent. Just enough food to go through the day without actual hunger. Just enough shelter to keep out the wind and rain and snow. Just enough education to learn to read and write and count.
No. As the theory of bodily freedom demands for each man life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so the highest theory of to-day lays down demands of economic freedom beyond the mere fad of possible existence. Dr. Patten has formulated certain "economic rights" of man. Each employer must say: Before I settle back with a serene belief that I have given my men a living-wage, let me ask: Have they sun? air? sanitary surroundings and conditions? medical care? leisure? education? a chance to grow? Have they enough money for ordinary occasions, and a little to give away? No man or woman has a living-wage, who has no money to give away.
Education and comfort add to the value of the employed. The cook who has a rocking-chair, a cook-book, and a housekeeping magazine in her kitchen will do more work, and better work, other things being equal, than the cook who has none. The workman who lives in a clean, sunny, well-aired place, where he can found a home, and bring up healthy children, will do more work, and better work, than the workman who lives in a damp, dark, ill-ventilated tenement, and who goes to his day's work with a heart sullen and broken because of avoidable illness and sorrow in his poor little home. Five thousand employees who have a night-school, luncheon-rooms, little houses and gardens, a savings-bank, and a library of books and pictures are worth more than those who are given no such advantages of happiness, growth, and content. The Railroad Young Men's Christian Associations are said to be a good economic investment, as well as an uplifting moral influence.
This appears to be a fundamental economic law: Every physical, mental, or spiritual advantage offered to an honest working man or woman increases his economic efficiency. Therefore even the selfish policy of shrewd corporations to-day is to screw up, and not down; while the more philanthropic are beginning to see, in their social power, a luminous opportunity to do a god-like service.
But the capitalist, however just or generous, cannot do for a man what he cannot or will not do for himself. Too many workers imagine that a living-wage is to be given to each man, no matter how he behaves or works. This is a false assumption. Underlying all human effort, there runs a final law, that of Compensation: What I earn, I shall some day have. This is a very different proposition from this: What I do not earn, I want to have! For every stroke of human toil, the universe assigns a right reward—a reward, not of money only, but of peace of heart, joy, and the possibilities of helpfulness. But when the work done has not been done faithfully, or well, or honestly, or in the right spirit, the reward is lessened to that exact degree. To the end of time, the idle and the lazy must, if they are dependent on their own exertions, be ill housed and fed. If a man wastes, or his wife does, he must not complain that his income will not support him. If he lets opportunities of sustenance and advancement go by, the capitalist is not to be held to account.
There are two chief kinds of economic difficulties. One is the problem of the capitalist: How much ought I to pay? The second is that of the working-man: How much service must I render? How much ought I to be paid? Of the second kind, nearly every phase of it begins right here, that men and women demand for labor something which they have not earned. They do careless, indifferent, shiftless, reckless work, and then demand a living-wage. The capitalist is not inclined to raise his scale of prices, knowing that he has built up his business by prudence, sagacity, and tireless application—the very qualities which his dissatisfied employees lack.
We need not pay—we ought not to pay—for incompetence, for impertinence, for disobedience of orders, for laziness, for shirking, for cheating, or for theft. To do so is a social wrong. It is the wrong that lies back, not only of sinecures and spoils, but of employing incompetent and wasteful cooks and dressmakers.
What we make of our lives through wages depends upon ourselves. For instance, a man gives each of five boys twenty-five cents for sweeping snow off his sidewalks. One boy tosses pennies, and loses his quarter by gambling. One boy buys cigarettes, and sends his money up in smoke. One boy buys newspapers, and sells them at a profit which buys him his dinner. A fourth boy buys seeds, plants them, and raises a tiny garden which keeps him in beans for a whole season, The fifth boy buys a book which starts him on the career of an educated man: he becomes an inventor and a man of means. The man who paid out the twenty-five cents to each boy is in no way responsible for the success or failure of their investment of this quarter. He is responsible only for the fact that he did or did not pay a fair price for the work.
God, the great Paymaster, gives to each of us the one talent, the two talents, or the ten talents, of endowment and opportunity: after that, we are left to our own devices!
There are four things which every employee should constantly bear in mind, if he wishes to advance,—skill, business opportunity, loyalty, and control. Until a man has mastered what he has to do, he cannot be expected to be accounted a serious factor in the economic world. The moment he achieves skill in what he has to do—and this is a question of thoroughness, accuracy, and speed—he has achieved power, a possibility of dictation in the matter of hours and wages.
The next point is business opportunity. Two men, of exactly the same opportunities and endowments, take up the same task. One man idles and is surpassed by the other, or he does only what he is told to do, without further thought. The other performs his set task, but at the same time he is examining into the principles of his engine, or into the conduct of the factory or business. In a few years he is the foreman, or an inventor, or a partner, with independent capital of his own. Again, there is a blind way of doing skilled work, or of merely doing it without noticing where it is most needed, or how the market is going for this special kind of work. The one who has his eyes open reads, notes the state of the market, adds to his skill the power of counsel, and can gradually take a larger responsibility upon him, which will advance the economic value of his time, as well as the work. There is a constant flux in the labor-world, which is the result largely, not of special opportunity, but of worth, application, and concentrated thought.
Third, loyalty has a high mercantile value. Disloyalty is a sin.
The fourth point is control. Does it not strike wonder to think how some men have under them, either in their industrial plant, or in their railway systems, or in their syndicate-work, anywhere from a few hundred to ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand men? How do they maintain discipline, either themselves, or through their subordinates? This problem of control is a serious one in business. Every angry threat, every sullen hour, each case of insubordination, every strike, every widespread dissatisfaction, means economic waste. It means expense both of time and money to send for Pinkertons to keep order and preserve discipline. The man who adds to his technical skill, and his knowledge of the market, the power of control adds great force and value to his work. Higher yet is executive force, the power to adjust responsibilities and duties in such a way as to get back a high economic return in the way of service. But above all, there is that force of character which impresses itself on a company, on a decade, on a generation—so that some names are handed down in business from generation to generation, all men knowing that from father to son, and again to his son, there will pass down that certain integrity, nobility, steadfastness of purpose, fidelity, and honor which give credit throughout the business world, and which promise health and happiness for those who are happy to be in their employ.
Before a man complains of his wages, then, let him ask himself: Have I mastered my work? Am I loyal? Am I capable of larger responsibilities, and of wider control?
WILLIAM MORRIS says: "It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do: and which should be done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome, nor over-anxious."
This theorem cannot be upheld in its entirety, though there is a deep truth beneath it. There are many things, such as the collecting of garbage, the washing of the dead poor, the cleaning of cesspools, the butchery of cattle for the market, and the execution of capital criminals, which can scarcely be called pleasant to do, and must yet be done. As long as the world is the world, and there is in it sin, decay, disease, and death, we cannot hope to make the work or the conditions of work absolutely ideal: we can make ideal the spirit in which work is done!
A fine story is told that long ago, when the cholera once broke out in Philadelphia, the hospitals fell into a fearful state. One day, a plain, quiet little man stepped into the chief hospital, looked about a moment, and set to work. No task was too dirty or disagreeable for him; no detail was too disgusting. He did anything he saw to be done,—called in additional doctors, organized the nurses, and himself waited on patients night and day. He soon had the hospital in good shape again. When the crisis passed, and every one began to demand, Who is this man?—they were told: It is Stephen Girard. The work was not pleasant, but the spirit was kind, and the heart delighted in its self-appointed toil.
Work in general, however, that has worth has several elements. First, It must be individual. It must be joyfully done: there must enter into work the vitality of a happy spirit. It must be spontaneous. This is why machine-work can never be thoroughly beautiful: it lacks the spontaneity of life. The hand never makes two things alike. With the mood, the weather, the occasion, there are little touches added which a machine cannot give. Life always varies and thinks of new effects.
When we try to realize what work is, when it is merely an amount of toil prodded out of man or woman by a hard taskmaster, we have only to look back to the bondage of Israel in Egypt, or to the time of Scylla, when there were thirteen million slaves in Italy alone: slaves whose set tasks were of over two hundred and fifty kinds; who worked on the road-building, on public works, and in rowing in the galleys of the slave-propelled ships. In Carthage agriculture was for a time largely carried on by slave-labor. How different is this slave-labor from the craft-work of mediaeval times, when, under the protection of the guilds, manual labor became exalted to an artistic rank, and the workers at the loom, the metal-workers, the wood-carvers, the tapestry-weavers, and the workers in pottery and glass produced objects whose beauty has never been either equalled or surpassed. Andrea del Sarto and Benvenuto Cellini were workers, and their work remains.
Again, good work is born of affection. Love teaches more art than all the schools. What we love, we instinctively beautify. The artist beautifies the material on which he works. He loves his task, and from his love there begins a gradual shaping of the ideal. The product gains a touch of beauty. The needlework of Egypt and Byzantium, the laces of Venice and of Spain, are historic. It is said of Queen Isabella, that she was one of the best needleworkers of her age; that "her motifs were the great events of the time."
A peasant girl of Venice was once given a beautiful coral-branch and some rare leaves and shells which her lover had gathered for her from the sea-depths. She was untaught in art, and making fish-nets was her wonted work. Day by day as she wrought her nets, she looked upon the lovely sea-treasures, their beauty passed into her heart and mind, and she began to copy, spray by spray, the coral-foliage, the leaves of the sea-grasses, and the curves of the sea-shells, until after a time, in the meshes of her fish-nets, she had imprisoned forms of exquisite beauty, and one saw there reproduced, in dainty and artistic grouping, what her very soul had loved and fed upon. Her fish-nets became works of art.
Work of a high order is always based on high ideals and on great thoughts. It implies a vast amount of toil. The Capellmeister of the Vatican choir to-day is that wonderful young genius, Perosi, who is stirring all Europe by the beauty of his musical work, and by the spirituality and fervor of his musical imagination. He has set himself to compose twelve oratorios, which shall body forth the whole life of the Saviour. He believes that the music-lover and the church-lover may be identical, and has set his hand to the uniting of all true music-lovers with the great offices and services and influences of the Church. Here is Work exalted to its spiritual office: to carry out, not only ideals of beauty and harmony, but to advance spiritual progress. This is the final aim of all true work: it must be not only aesthetic, and honest, but spiritual. The prayer of the true workman is ever to make himself a workman approved unto God. "May the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and the work of our hands, establish Thou it!"
The worker should have change of work. Nature never intended that a man should do one thing all his life. This is in harmony neither with man's infinite capacity, nor with her inexhaustible variety. Change is cultural, and a man's work Should, from time to time, engross every working-power he has.
Working-surroundings should not only be sanitary, they should be beautiful. What influences one most at college, and makes most for one's happiness, is not the fact of the work in recitation-rooms, out of books, laboratories, and under teachers. The glory of college life is, that wherever one goes, the eyes look out on beauty, and wherever one works, there are those whom we love who work beside us.
As one passes down the long college corridors, the eyes fall upon palm and statue, upon frieze and fresco, and the carbon copies of immortal paintings. Everywhere there are the inspirations of sculpture and architecture, of music, literature, and art. Beauty is in and about the place in which one thinks and works. This is the undying charm of Oxford—the gathering traditions of centuries, the gleaming spires, the age-worn walls and buttresses, the clinging vine, the tremulous light and shadow on the ancient halls, the sculpture of porch and clerestory, and the light that falls through richly tinted windows.
This beauty should not be monopolized by any one class. About the places where we work, we should have, as far as possible, something of the beauty of the world. We should have wide, shaded streets and parks, even in great cities; towers and pinnacles; sky-lines of vigor, grace, and massive strength. Cannot department stores be artistically fashioned and built? Cannot market-houses have arches and arabesques? May not even the Bourse have something about it suggestive of great art? Cannot our streets have curves and storied cross-ways? Cannot porters and draymen have somewhat to arouse and satisfy aesthetic instincts? Cannot our day-laborers be granted vision?
Why should we have the Gothic cathedral, with its exquisite traceries and carvings, pillars and reredos and screen, for men to pray in, one or two hours a week, and the hideous, grime-covered, foul-smelling, overheated factories, in which men and women spend their working-lives? This is what Christianity must do: it must implant joy and beauty, as well as honesty and fidelity, in the way, place, and thought of work! When religion, education, art, and brotherly affection have joined hands in a charmed circle, we shall have new ideas of working-places, as well as of praying-places, and of living-places! It is not enough that a factory should be situated, as the best factories now are, in the open country, with sunshine and fresh air. The blockhouse parallelograms and squares should be replaced by something that has intrinsic beauty and the haunting completeness of memory and association, so that the place where a man works shall no more be to him a nightmare, but the atmosphere and inspiration of his dreams!
And those we love shall work beside us! Here is another thought: Shall all association in work be arbitrary? Is there not a more human way than the chain-gang way? Could not friends work more together, so that one's daily work should be, not a time of separation from all we love most, but a time of intellectual sympathy and helpfulness, of companionship and true-hearted loyalty? This, and many other good things, it is not too much to hope for. Truly, as Morris writes, "The Day is Coming."
"Then a man shall work and bethink him, and rejoice in the deeds of his handy Nor yet come home in the even too faint and weary to stand.
"Men in that time a-coming shall work and have no fear For the morrow's lack of earning and the hunger-wolf anear.
"And what wealth then shall be left us when none shall gather gold To buy his friend in the market, and pinch and pine the sold?
"Nay, what save the lovely city, and the little house on the hill, And the wastes and the woodland beauty, and the happy fields we till;
"And the homes of ancient stories, the tombs of the mighty dead; And the wise men seeking out marvels, and the poet's teeming head;
"And the painter's hand of wonder; and the marvellous fiddle-bow; And the banded choirs of music:—all those that do and know.
"Far all these shall be ours and all men's, nor shall any lack a share Of the toil and the gain of living in the days when the world grows fair."
Good workers are trained in the home, the school, the shop, the wider world. Every home is an industrial establishment. In it go on the industrial processes of cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing; the care of silver, glass, linen, and household stores; the activities of buying food and clothing; the moral responsibilities of teaching and training servants and children. If any healthy member of the home is excused from at least some form of active work, he will inevitably be a shirker when he grows up. Cannot almost all the problems of human training be run down to this: How to teach a child to work? If he can work, he can be happy; but if he does not want to work, he shall never be happy. No work, no joy, is the universal dictum.
This is the great hardship of the children of great wealth: they are not taught to work. To avoid this difficulty, in two very wealthy families that I know, the boys were even obliged to darn their own stockings and mend their own clothes. One young hopeful once tore his clothes a-fishing, and mended his trousers with a scarlet flannel patch! Some mothers do not allow their little girls to go to school until their beds are made up and their rooms in order. Other equally wise parents have tools in the house, and allow the boys to do all the repair work, the daughters all the family mending, or to care for the linen; the boys to put in electric fixtures and bells, and keep the batteries in order. Queen Margherita of Italy, Queen Elizabeth of Roumania, Queen Alexandra of England, and the Empress Augusta of Germany are all women who have been from their childhood acquainted with simple and practical household tasks. This principle is a right one and underlies much after-success. Each child should, first of all, have a mastery of home-tasks. Then, whether on the prairie or in the palace, he is free and independent.
What makes the differences in the social privileges given to one class of workers above another? In reality, we are all workers. No one ought to live, if in health, who does not work. But for some forms of work, men and women receive an income, and nothing more. For other work, men and women may or may not receive a large personal income, but their work is recognized, they are a part of the best social circles, and when they die, a city or a nation grieves.
The essential difference is this: that one is honor-work, and one is not. Wherever in the world work is done in a spirit of love and fidelity, it brings its own reward in recognition and in personal affection. Sooner or later, honor-work receives honor.
Another reason for exaltation of one form of work above another, is that some kinds of work are so very hard to do. They involve the intense and complicated action of many and of complex powers. It may be hard physical work to break stones for a road-way, but the task itself is a simple one—the lifting of the arm and dropping it again with sufficient force to split a rock apart. But the writing of a prose masterpiece, such as the Areopagitica, involves the highest human faculties in harmonious action. If we add to the requirements of prose, the rhythm, the exalted imagery, and perhaps the assonance and rhyme of verse, we still further increase the difficulty of the task, and the honor of its successful achievement. The king-work of a powerful monarch, the president-work of a republican leader, is serious work to do. Our honor is not all given to the king or president income, salary, or office; it is a tribute to hard and royal-minded work.
Household service is personal service. It cannot be made a thing of set hours, and of measurably set tasks, as office-work maybe. We may talk of "eight-hour shifts," but they are scarcely practicable. Not every baby would go to successive "shifts"! House-demands vary, not only with every household, but with every day.
When love-making is wholly scientific, then domestic service will be. There is in it the same delicate personal adjustment, the changing requirements of weather, health, temper, and season, of emergency and stress, that are to be found in the most purely personal relation. When there is a period of unusual sickness through the community, not only the doctors have extra tasks, but all household servants as well.
What social recognition can be given to servants who lie, steal, who shirk every duty that can be shirked, and who are both incompetent and unfaithful? The here-and-there one faithful helper receives her meed of appreciation and affection. The whole aspect of household work will change when honor-work is given: when home-helpers come up to us, from the truthful and honor-loving class.
The school-room is the place in which the principles of work are implanted: thoroughness, grasp, speed, decision, and definite purpose. The shop is the apprentice-place of work, before one takes up individual responsibilities. The man who wishes to rise in the railroad service goes into the shops and roundhouse. The man who wishes to take charge of an important department in a department store is put to tying packages.
Teachers' work will not be rightly done until certain advantages are given to teachers that are now largely withheld. Teachers need more society, more hours of play, freer opportunity of marriage. Instead of being tied up to exercise-books and roll-books, in their home-hours, they should have a chance to spend their time on the golf-links, at afternoon teas, in visiting and in entertaining friends. Take away society from any man or woman, and you take away the possibility of a growing, happy, and helpful life. We need friends just as we need air. Teachers need admiration and affection, just as much as the society girl does.
Universities should have, in their faculties, men and women who represent the best social as well as the best intellectual life of the world—who are not only, in the highest sense of the word, society men and women, but who are social leaders, inspiring truth, inculcating larger social ideals of the best sort.
The problem between capitalist and laborer, however, only affects a portion of the world; that of domestic service a still smaller proportion; that of teachers affects only a class. There is another problem, which affects nearly all married women, and therefore a large section of the human race. It is the problem of mother-work. Here is where the economist should next turn his attention. First, What is Mother-work? Second, What are the best economic conditions under which this work can be done? When we have solved this question, we shall have solved a great human problem.
Mother-work includes the bearing and the rearing of children, the conduct of a home, and the placing of that home in the right social atmosphere and relations. It includes manual, intellectual, and spiritual labors. The one who lives and works, as God meant her to live and work, will never feel over-fatigue. Why do mothers often look so tired? It is because they too often do not have what every mother ought to have: education, rest, change, a Sabbath-day, individual income, intellectual interests, society.
Whether in the simplest home or in the stateliest, there are certain manual things to be done in regard to the care and bringing-up of children, and the conduct of a home. To make the conditions of a woman's life easier, the very first thing is this: 1. Women should be educated primarily for home-life. By this I do not mean that a woman should be taught cooking, and not political economy; that she should be instructed in dressmaking and nursery-work, but not in chemistry and logic. I mean that the very fullest education that schools, colleges, universities, and foreign travel can give, should be given to the woman who is fortunate enough to have them at command, and that every woman, according to the degree of her possibilities of education and opportunity, should have the best. But always this education should be thought of as a part of her preparation for a woman's life. When boys are in a business college, the principal of that college does not forget that among the boys there may be more than one who will never have a business life, but who will go out into other interests and pursuits. Yet he turns the thoughts of all boys in his school specially toward business problems. In schools and colleges for women, not all the girls will marry, not all will be mothers, but most of them will be. Is not, then, the normal education of a woman that which, while it does not cramp her life in one direction, nor mould her in a set way, yet keeps always in mind the fact that the normal woman is being educated for a normal woman's life?
This would not necessarily change the curriculum of our colleges in any way; it would change the spirit and atmosphere of some of them at once. Instead of the spirit being: "My mind is just as good as a man's. What a man can study, I can learn! What a man can do, I can do!"—the spirit would be this: "I am going out into a woman's life, and it is my business now to take to myself all the wisdom, counsel, experience, and inspiration of past ages, that I may be the very grandest woman that history has yet seen! I will be a land-mark in time: I will be a pivot in history around which the earth shall turn. Because of my life, women to the end of time shall be able to live a truer, freer, better life!"
With this thought in mind, all the academic subjects would still pass into her mind and life, but they would be much more naturally set and their value would be greatly enhanced. Then we would not have the too-ambitious woman stepping out of college, or the restless and discontented one. We would have the large-minded, earnest, noble, public-spirited one, who would go out into the world as a fine type of woman, to live a woman's life and do a woman's work. Married or unmarried, she would still have a woman's interests, a woman's influence, a woman's charm.
This higher education may or may not include practical studies in domestic science, nursing, and household emergencies, but she should learn somewhere the elements of these studies, so that when she goes into a home of her own her duties and responsibilities will not be met in a half-hearted and untrained way.
2. Mothers should have rest-hours and rest-days. Is it not something extraordinary, from a purely economic point of view, that while it is widely recognized that every one should have one day in seven for rest, that while business men are expected to close up their offices on the Sabbath, and all working men and women are given this day in the stores, the factories, and mines—the cook and maids have their Sundays out, and their week-day afternoons—that nowhere on earth, so far as I know, has there ever been a systematic arrangement by which mothers, as a class, have any specially arranged hours or days for rest! A baby's care does not stop on the Sabbath, and the average mother is practically on duty, at least over-seeing, day and night, twenty-four hours out of the twenty-four, from one end of the year to the other, no matter how many maids and nurses she may have in her employ!
3. Personal income and its use. What we buy marks our own individuality, as well as what we do. The woman whose father or husband adjusts her expenses and expenditures cannot by any possibility be the kind of woman that the one is who chooses her own things, and spends her money absolutely to suit herself. When a man buys cigars or fishing-tackle, his wife may prefer to buy oratorios and golf-clubs.
4. Mothers should have some interest outside of home-tasks, to keep them in touch with world-interests and world-tasks. Not all mother's duty is inside the four walls of her home. The race has demands upon her, as well as her own child. She ought to be guarded from that short-sighted and selfish devotion which makes her look upon her child as the centre of the universe, and which leads her to sacrifice every hour, every thought, every talent, to him alone.
5. Building up the place of a home in a community means much more than a rivalry with one's neighbors, as to which one shall have the cleanest house, the prettiest or most expensive curtains and furniture, who shall entertain the most, and whose children shall present the best appearance in the world! Making a social place for a family involves a very wide acquaintance with really great social ideals; with the best instincts and customs; with world refinement and manners, as well as those of one's own town or village—with the social possibilities of life in general, as well as the etiquette of Quinton's Corners! To give the right stamp upon her home, a mother must have a social life, as well as domestic one. She must have time to enter somewhat into the activities of her own neighborhood, and must have society after marriage, as well as before.
It is a different sort of society that she then needs. It is not a boy-and-girl society, with its crude ways, and its adolescent ideas of life. It is the society of earnest, cultured, and public-spirited men and women, each of whom is adding something to the general store of interest and ideals; each of whom is doing some phase of social work, according to his own talent and opportunity.
When a mother steps out into life in this large way, makes education and training tributary to her mother-life, and does not stop growing intellectually or spiritually,—her charm as a woman increases, instead of diminishes, every year of her married life. Her looks mark her everywhere as a supremely happy woman, and she goes out into the world marked with that strange, deep, grand impress of motherhood and womanhood, which has always made the true woman not only a working-mother, but a love-crowned queen!
These and many other thoughts flit over one's mind in looking at any phase of work, or any piece of work. In the right choice of work lies the fullest use of one's capacities; in the right conditions of work lies the freest play of one's energies; in the right spirit of work lies the way of one's lasting happiness, and the foretaste of eternal joys.
Thus the world is seen to consist of great cycles of workers, rising in tiers one above another. Those who do not work are quickly cut out from all participation in race-progress and in race-delights; those who work earnestly, but blindly, have their small reward. But those who work with spiritual energy and enthusiasm are weaving their handiwork into the very fibre of the universal frame. It is for these spiritual workers that the great eagerness of life is undying; for them there is no shadow of fatigue; for them there is the joy of mastery and accomplishment; for them the peace of soul that comes from the triumphant achievement of one's mission to mankind!