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CHAPTER THE FOURTH


THE NEW PHASE

Section 1

The task that lay before the Assembly of Brissago, viewed as we

may view it now from the clarifying standpoint of things

accomplished, was in its broad issues a simple one. Essentially

it was to place social organisation upon the new footing that the

swift, accelerated advance of human knowledge had rendered

necessary. The council was gathered together with the haste of a

salvage expedition, and it was confronted with wreckage; but the

wreckage was irreparable wreckage, and the only possibilities of

the case were either the relapse of mankind to the agricultural

barbarism from which it had emerged so painfully or the

acceptance of achieved science as the basis of a new social

order. The old tendencies of human nature, suspicion, jealousy,

particularism, and belligerency, were incompatible with the

monstrous destructive power of the new appliances the inhuman

logic of science had produced. The equilibrium could be restored

only by civilisation destroying itself down to a level at which

modern apparatus could no longer be produced, or by human nature

adapting itself in its institutions to the new conditions. It was

for the latter alternative that the assembly existed.

Sooner or later this choice would have confronted mankind. The

sudden development of atomic science did but precipitate and

render rapid and dramatic a clash between the new and the

customary that had been gathering since ever the first flint was

chipped or the first fire built together. From the day when man

contrived himself a tool and suffered another male to draw near

him, he ceased to be altogether a thing of instinct and

untroubled convictions. From that day forth a widening breach can

be traced between his egotistical passions and the social need.

Slowly he adapted himself to the life of the homestead, and his

passionate impulses widened out to the demands of the clan and

the tribe. But widen though his impulses might, the latent hunter

and wanderer and wonderer in his imagination outstripped their

development. He was never quite subdued to the soil nor quite

tamed to the home. Everywhere it needed teaching and the priest

to keep him within the bounds of the plough-life and the

beast-tending. Slowly a vast system of traditional imperatives

superposed itself upon his instincts, imperatives that were

admirably fitted to make him that cultivator, that cattle-mincer,

who was for twice ten thousand years the normal man.

And, unpremeditated, undesired, out of the accumulations of his

tilling came civilisation. Civilisation was the agricultural

surplus. It appeared as trade and tracks and roads, it pushed

boats out upon the rivers and presently invaded the seas, and

within its primitive courts, within temples grown rich and

leisurely and amidst the gathering medley of the seaport towns

rose speculation and philosophy and science, and the beginning of

the new order that has at last established itself as human life.

Slowly at first, as we traced it, and then with an accumulating

velocity, the new powers were fabricated. Man as a whole did not

seek them nor desire them; they were thrust into his hand. For a

time men took up and used these new things and the new powers

inadvertently as they came to him, recking nothing of the

consequences. For endless generations change led him very

gently. But when he had been led far enough, change quickened the

pace. It was with a series of shocks that he realised at last

that he was living the old life less and less and a new life more

and more.

Already before the release of atomic energy the tensions between

the old way of living and the new were intense. They were far

intenser than they had been even at the collapse of the Roman

imperial system. On the one hand was the ancient life of the

family and the small community and the petty industry, on the

other was a new life on a larger scale, with remoter horizons and

a strange sense of purpose. Already it was growing clear that men

must live on one side or the other. One could not have little

tradespeople and syndicated businesses in the same market,

sleeping carters and motor trolleys on the same road, bows and

arrows and aeroplane sharpshooters in the same army, or

illiterate peasant industries and power-driven factories in the

same world. And still less it was possible that one could have

the ideas and ambitions and greed and jealousy of peasants

equipped with the vast appliances of the new age. If there had

been no atomic bombs to bring together most of the directing

intelligence of the world to that hasty conference at Brissago,

there would still have been, extended over great areas and a

considerable space of time perhaps, a less formal conference of

responsible and understanding people upon the perplexities of

this world-wide opposition. If the work of Holsten had been

spread over centuries and imparted to the world by imperceptible

degrees, it would nevertheless have made it necessary for men to

take counsel upon and set a plan for the future. Indeed already

there had been accumulating for a hundred years before the crisis

a literature of foresight; there was a whole mass of 'Modern

State' scheming available for the conference to go upon. These

bombs did but accentuate and dramatise an already developing

problem.

Section 2

This assembly was no leap of exceptional minds and

super-intelligences into the control of affairs. It was

teachable, its members trailed ideas with them to the gathering,

but these were the consequences of the 'moral shock' the bombs

had given humanity, and there is no reason for supposing its

individual personalities were greatly above the average. It

would be possible to cite a thousand instances of error and

inefficiency in its proceedings due to the forgetfulness,

irritability, or fatigue of its members. It experimented

considerably and blundered often. Excepting Holsten, whose gift

was highly specialised, it is questionable whether there was a

single man of the first order of human quality in the gathering.

But it had a modest fear of itself, and a consequent directness

that gave it a general distinction. There was, of course, a

noble simplicity about Leblanc, but even of him it may be asked

whether he was not rather good and honest-minded than in the

fuller sense great.

The ex-king had wisdom and a certain romantic dash, he was a man

among thousands, even if he was not a man among millions, but his

memoirs, and indeed his decision to write memoirs, give the

quality of himself and his associates. The book makes admirable

but astonishing reading. Therein he takes the great work the

council was doing for granted as a little child takes God. It is

as if he had no sense of it at all. He tells amusing trivialities

about his cousin Wilhelm and his secretary Firmin, he pokes fun

at the American president, who was, indeed, rather a little

accident of the political machine than a representative American,

and he gives a long description of how he was lost for three days

in the mountains in the company of the only Japanese member, a

loss that seems to have caused no serious interruption of the

work of the council

The Brissago conference has been written about time after time,

as though it were a gathering of the very flower of humanity.

Perched up there by the freak or wisdom of Leblanc, it had a

certain Olympian quality, and the natural tendency of the human

mind to elaborate such a resemblance would have us give its

members the likenesses of gods. It would be equally reasonable

to compare it to one of those enforced meetings upon the

mountain-tops that must have occurred in the opening phases of

the Deluge. The strength of the council lay not in itself but in

the circumstances that had quickened its intelligence, dispelled

its vanities, and emancipated it from traditional ambitions and

antagonisms. It was stripped of the accumulation of centuries, a

naked government with all that freedom of action that nakedness

affords. And its problems were set before it with a plainness

that was out of all comparison with the complicated and

perplexing intimations of the former time.

Section 3

The world on which the council looked did indeed present a task

quite sufficiently immense and altogether too urgent for any

wanton indulgence in internal dissension. It may be interesting

to sketch in a few phrases the condition of mankind at the close

of the period of warring states, in the year of crisis that

followed the release of atomic power. It was a world

extraordinarily limited when one measures it by later standards,

and it was now in a state of the direst confusion and distress.

It must be remembered that at this time men had still to spread

into enormous areas of the land surface of the globe. There were

vast mountain wildernesses, forest wildernesses, sandy deserts,

and frozen lands. Men still clung closely to water and arable

soil in temperate or sub-tropical climates, they lived abundantly

only in river valleys, and all their great cities had grown upon

large navigable rivers or close to ports upon the sea. Over great

areas even of this suitable land flies and mosquitoes, armed with

infection, had so far defeated human invasion, and under their

protection the virgin forests remained untouched. Indeed, the

whole world even in its most crowded districts was filthy with

flies and swarming with needless insect life to an extent which

is now almost incredible. A population map of the world in 1950

would have followed seashore and river course so closely in its

darker shading as to give an impression that homo sapiens was an

amphibious animal. His roads and railways lay also along the

lower contours, only here and there to pierce some mountain

barrier or reach some holiday resort did they clamber above 3000

feet. And across the ocean his traffic passed in definite lines;

there were hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean no ship

ever traversed except by mischance.

Into the mysteries of the solid globe under his feet he had not

yet pierced for five miles, and it was still not forty years

since, with a tragic pertinacity, he had clambered to the poles

of the earth. The limitless mineral wealth of the Arctic and

Antarctic circles was still buried beneath vast accumulations of

immemorial ice, and the secret riches of the inner zones of the

crust were untapped and indeed unsuspected. The higher mountain

regions were known only to a sprinkling of guide-led climbers and

the frequenters of a few gaunt hotels, and the vast rainless

belts of land that lay across the continental masses, from Gobi

to Sahara and along the backbone of America, with their perfect

air, their daily baths of blazing sunshine, their nights of cool

serenity and glowing stars, and their reservoirs of deep-lying

water, were as yet only desolations of fear and death to the

common imagination.

And now under the shock of the atomic bombs, the great masses of

population which had gathered into the enormous dingy town

centres of that period were dispossessed and scattered

disastrously over the surrounding rural areas. It was as if some

brutal force, grown impatient at last at man's blindness, had

with the deliberate intention of a rearrangement of population

upon more wholesome lines, shaken the world. The great

industrial regions and the large cities that had escaped the

bombs were, because of their complete economic collapse, in

almost as tragic plight as those that blazed, and the

country-side was disordered by a multitude of wandering and

lawless strangers. In some parts of the world famine raged, and

in many regions there was plague The plains of north India,

which had become more and more dependent for the general welfare

on the railways and that great system of irrigation canals which

the malignant section of the patriots had destroyed, were in a

state of peculiar distress, whole villages lay dead together, no

man heeding, and the very tigers and panthers that preyed upon

the emaciated survivors crawled back infected into the jungle to

perish. Large areas of China were a prey to brigand bands

It is a remarkable thing that no complete contemporary account of

the explosion of the atomic bombs survives. There are, of

course, innumerable allusions and partial records, and it is from

these that subsequent ages must piece together the image of these

devastations.

The phenomena, it must be remembered, changed greatly from day to

day, and even from hour to hour, as the exploding bomb shifted

its position, threw off fragments or came into contact with water

or a fresh texture of soil. Barnet, who came within forty miles

of Paris early in October, is concerned chiefly with his account

of the social confusion of the country-side and the problems of

his command, but he speaks of heaped cloud masses of steam. 'All

along the sky to the south-west' and of a red glare beneath these

at night. Parts of Paris were still burning, and numbers of

people were camped in the fields even at this distance watching

over treasured heaps of salvaged loot. He speaks too of the

distant rumbling of the explosion-'like trains going over iron

bridges.'

Other descriptions agree with this; they all speak of the

'continuous reverberations,' or of the 'thudding and hammering,'

or some such phrase; and they all testify to a huge pall of

steam, from which rain would fall suddenly in torrents and amidst

which lightning played. Drawing nearer to Paris an observer

would have found the salvage camps increasing in number and

blocking up the villages, and large numbers of people, often

starving and ailing, camping under improvised tents because there

was no place for them to go. The sky became more and more

densely overcast until at last it blotted out the light of day

and left nothing but a dull red glare 'extraordinarily depressing

to the spirit.' In this dull glare, great numbers of people were

still living, clinging to their houses and in many cases

subsisting in a state of partial famine upon the produce in their

gardens and the stores in the shops of the provision dealers.

Coming in still closer, the investigator would have reached the

police cordon, which was trying to check the desperate enterprise

of those who would return to their homes or rescue their more

valuable possessions within the 'zone of imminent danger.'

That zone was rather arbitrarily defined. If our spectator could

have got permission to enter it, he would have entered also a

zone of uproar, a zone of perpetual thunderings, lit by a strange

purplish-red light, and quivering and swaying with the incessant

explosion of the radio-active substance. Whole blocks of

buildings were alight and burning fiercely, the trembling, ragged

flames looking pale and ghastly and attenuated in comparison with

the full-bodied crimson glare beyond. The shells of other

edifices already burnt rose, pierced by rows of window sockets

against the red-lit mist.

Every step farther would have been as dangerous as a descent

within the crater of an active volcano. These spinning, boiling

bomb centres would shift or break unexpectedly into new regions,

great fragments of earth or drain or masonry suddenly caught by a

jet of disruptive force might come flying by the explorer's head,

or the ground yawn a fiery grave beneath his feet. Few who

adventured into these areas of destruction and survived attempted

any repetition of their experiences. There are stories of puffs

of luminous, radio-active vapour drifting sometimes scores of

miles from the bomb centre and killing and scorching all they

overtook. And the first conflagrations from the Paris centre

spread westward half-way to the sea.

Moreover, the air in this infernal inner circle of red-lit ruins

had a peculiar dryness and a blistering quality, so that it set

up a soreness of the skin and lungs that was very difficult to

heal

Such was the last state of Paris, and such on a larger scale was

the condition of affairs in Chicago, and the same fate had

overtaken Berlin, Moscow, Tokio, the eastern half of London,

Toulon, Kiel, and two hundred and eighteen other centres of

population or armament. Each was a flaming centre of radiant

destruction that only time could quench, that indeed in many

instances time has still to quench. To this day, though indeed

with a constantly diminishing uproar and vigour, these explosions

continue. In the map of nearly every country of the world three

or four or more red circles, a score of miles in diameter, mark

the position of the dying atomic bombs and the death areas that

men have been forced to abandon around them. Within these areas

perished museums, cathedrals, palaces, libraries, galleries of

masterpieces, and a vast accumulation of human achievement, whose

charred remains lie buried, a legacy of curious material that

only future generations may hope to examine

Section 4

The state of mind of the dispossessed urban population which

swarmed and perished so abundantly over the country-side during

the dark days of the autumnal months that followed the Last War,

was one of blank despair. Barnet gives sketch after sketch of

groups of these people, camped among the vineyards of Champagne,

as he saw them during his period of service with the army of

pacification.

There was, for example, that 'man-milliner' who came out from a

field beside the road that rises up eastward out of Epernay, and

asked how things were going in Paris. He was, says Barnet, a

round-faced man, dressed very neatly in black-so neatly that it

was amazing to discover he was living close at hand in a tent

made of carpets-and he had 'an urbane but insistent manner,' a

carefully trimmed moustache and beard, expressive eyebrows, and

hair very neatly brushed.

'No one goes into Paris,' said Barnet.

'But, Monsieur, that is very unenterprising,' the man by the

wayside submitted.

'The danger is too great. The radiations eat into people's

skins.'

The eyebrows protested. 'But is nothing to be done?'

'Nothing can be done.'

'But, Monsieur, it is extraordinarily inconvenient, this living

in exile and waiting. My wife and my little boy suffer

extremely. There is a lack of amenity. And the season advances.

I say nothing of the expense and difficulty in obtaining

provisions When does Monsieur think that something will be

done to render Paris-possible?'

Barnet considered his interlocutor.

'I'm told,' said Barnet, 'that Paris is not likely to be possible

again for several generations.'

'Oh! but this is preposterous! Consider, Monsieur! What are

people like ourselves to do in the meanwhile? Iam a costumier.

All my connections and interests, above all my style, demand

Paris'

Barnet considered the sky, from which a light rain was beginning

to fall, the wide fields about them from which the harvest had

been taken, the trimmed poplars by the wayside.

'Naturally,' he agreed, 'you want to go to Paris. But Paris is

over.'

'Over!'

'Finished.'

'But then, Monsieur-what is to become-of ME?'

Barnet turned his face westward, whither the white road led.

'Where else, for example, may I hope to find-opportunity?'

Barnet made no reply.

'Perhaps on the Riviera. Or at some such place as Homburg. Or

some plague perhaps.'

'All that,' said Barnet, accepting for the first time facts that

had lain evident in his mind for weeks; 'all that must be over,

too.'

There was a pause. Then the voice beside him broke out. 'But,

Monsieur, it is impossible! It leaves-nothing.'

'No. Not very much.'

'One cannot suddenly begin to grow potatoes!'

'It would be good if Monsieur could bring himself--'

'To the life of a peasant! And my wife--You do not know the

distinguished delicacy of my wife, a refined helplessness, a

peculiar dependent charm. Like some slender tropical

creeper-with great white flowers But all this is foolish

talk. It is impossible that Paris, which has survived so many

misfortunes, should not presently revive.'

'I do not think it will ever revive. Paris is finished. London,

too, Iam told-Berlin. All the great capitals were

stricken'

'But--! Monsieur must permit me to differ.'

'It is so.'

'It is impossible. Civilisations do not end in this manner.

Mankind will insist.'

'On Paris?'

'On Paris.'

'Monsieur, you might as well hope to go down the Maelstrom and

resume business there.'

'I am content, Monsieur, with my own faith.'

'The winter comes on. Would not Monsieur be wiser to seek a

house?'

'Farther from Paris? No, Monsieur. But it is not possible,

Monsieur, what you say, and you are under a tremendous

mistake Indeed you are in error I asked merely for

information'

'When last I saw him,' said Barnet, 'he was standing under the

signpost at the crest of the hill, gazing wistfully, yet it

seemed to me a little doubtfully, now towards Paris, and

altogether heedless of a drizzling rain that was wetting him

through and through'

Section 5

This effect of chill dismay, of a doom as yet imperfectly

apprehended deepens as Barnet's record passes on to tell of the

approach of winter. It was too much for the great mass of those

unwilling and incompetent nomads to realise that an age had

ended, that the old help and guidance existed no longer, that

times would not mend again, however patiently they held out. They

were still in many cases looking to Paris when the first

snowflakes of that pitiless January came swirling about them. The

story grows grimmer

If it is less monstrously tragic after Barnet's return to

England, it is, if anything, harder. England was a spectacle of

fear-embittered householders, hiding food, crushing out robbery,

driving the starving wanderers from every faltering place upon

the roads lest they should die inconveniently and reproachfully

on the doorsteps of those who had failed to urge them onward

The remnants of the British troops left France finally in March,

after urgent representations from the provisional government at

Orleans that they could be supported no longer. They seem to have

been a fairly well-behaved, but highly parasitic force

throughout, though Barnet is clearly of opinion that they did

much to suppress sporadic brigandage and maintain social order.

He came home to a famine-stricken country, and his picture of the

England of that spring is one of miserable patience and desperate

expedients. The country was suffering much more than France,

because of the cessation of the overseas supplies on which it had

hitherto relied. His troops were given bread, dried fish, and

boiled nettles at Dover, and marched inland to Ashford and paid

off. On the way thither they saw four men hanging from the

telegraph posts by the roadside, who had been hung for stealing

swedes. The labour refuges of Kent, he discovered, were feeding

their crowds of casual wanderers on bread into which clay and

sawdust had been mixed. In Surrey there was a shortage of even

such fare as that. He himself struck across country to

Winchester, fearing to approach the bomb-poisoned district round

London, and at Winchester he had the luck to be taken on as one

of the wireless assistants at the central station and given

regular rations. The station stood in a commanding position on

the chalk hill that overlooks the town from the east

Thence he must have assisted in the transmission of the endless

cipher messages that preceded the gathering at Brissago, and

there it was that the Brissago proclamation of the end of the war

and the establishment of a world government came under his hands.

He was feeling ill and apathetic that day, and he did not realise

what it was he was transcribing. He did it mechanically, as a

part of his tedious duty.

Afterwards there came a rush of messages arising out of the

declaration that strained him very much, and in the evening when

he was relieved, he ate his scanty supper and then went out upon

the little balcony before the station, to smoke and rest his

brains after this sudden and as yet inexplicable press of duty.

It was a very beautiful, still evening. He fell talking to a

fellow operator, and for the first time, he declares, 'I began to

understand what it was all about. I began to see just what

enormous issues had been under my hands for the past four hours.

But I became incredulous after my first stimulation. "This is

some sort of Bunkum," I said very sagely.

'My colleague was more hopeful. "It means an end to

bomb-throwing and destruction," he said. "It means that

presently corn will come from America."

' "Who is going to send corn when there is no more value in

money?" I asked.

'Suddenly we were startled by a clashing from the town below. The

cathedral bells, which had been silent ever since I had come into

the district, were beginning, with a sort of rheumatic

difficulty, to ring. Presently they warmed a little to the work,

and we realised what was going on. They were ringing a peal. We

listened with an unbelieving astonishment and looking into each

other's yellow faces.

' "They mean it," said my colleague.

' "But what can they do now?" I asked. "Everything is broken

down" '

And on that sentence, with an unexpected artistry, Barnet

abruptly ends his story.

Section 6

From the first the new government handled affairs with a certain

greatness of spirit. Indeed, it was inevitable that they should

act greatly. From the first they had to see the round globe as

one problem; it was impossible any longer to deal with it piece

by piece. They had to secure it universally from any fresh

outbreak of atomic destruction, and they had to ensure a

permanent and universal pacification. On this capacity to grasp

and wield the whole round globe their existence depended. There

was no scope for any further performance.

So soon as the seizure of the existing supplies of atomic

ammunition and the apparatus for synthesising Carolinum was

assured, the disbanding or social utilisation of the various

masses of troops still under arms had to be arranged, the

salvation of the year's harvests, and the feeding, housing, and

employment of the drifting millions of homeless people. In

Canada, in South America, and Asiatic Russia there were vast

accumulations of provision that was immovable only because of the

breakdown of the monetary and credit systems. These had to be

brought into the famine districts very speedily if entire

depopulation was to be avoided, and their transportation and the

revival of communications generally absorbed a certain proportion

of the soldiery and more able unemployed. The task of housing

assumed gigantic dimensions, and from building camps the housing

committee of the council speedily passed to constructions of a

more permanent type. They found far less friction than might have

been expected in turning the loose population on their hands to

these things. People were extraordinarily tamed by that year of

suffering and death; they were disillusioned of their traditions,

bereft of once obstinate prejudices; they felt foreign in a

strange world, and ready to follow any confident leadership. The

orders of the new government came with the best of all

credentials, rations. The people everywhere were as easy to

control, one of the old labour experts who had survived until the

new time witnesses, 'as gangs of emigrant workers in a new land.'

And now it was that the social possibilities of the atomic energy

began to appear. The new machinery that had come into existence

before the last wars increased and multiplied, and the council

found itself not only with millions of hands at its disposal but

with power and apparatus that made its first conceptions of the

work it had to do seem pitifully timid. The camps that were

planned in iron and deal were built in stone and brass; the roads

that were to have been mere iron tracks became spacious ways that

insisted upon architecture; the cultivations of foodstuffs that

were to have supplied emergency rations, were presently, with

synthesisers, fertilisers, actinic light, and scientific

direction, in excess of every human need.

The government had begun with the idea of temporarily

reconstituting the social and economic system that had prevailed

before the first coming of the atomic engine, because it was to

this system that the ideas and habits of the great mass of the

world's dispossessed population was adapted. Subsequent

rearrangement it had hoped to leave to its successors-whoever

they might be. But this, it became more and more manifest, was

absolutely impossible. As well might the council have proposed a

revival of slavery. The capitalist system had already been

smashed beyond repair by the onset of limitless gold and energy;

it fell to pieces at the first endeavour to stand it up again.

Already before the war half of the industrial class had been out

of work, the attempt to put them back into wages employment on

the old lines was futile from the outset-the absolute shattering

of the currency system alone would have been sufficient to

prevent that, and it was necessary therefore to take over the

housing, feeding, and clothing of this worldwide multitude

without exacting any return in labour whatever. In a little while

the mere absence of occupation for so great a multitude of people

everywhere became an evident social danger, and the government

was obliged to resort to such devices as simple decorative work

in wood and stone, the manufacture of hand-woven textiles,

fruit-growing, flower-growing, and landscape gardening on a grand

scale to keep the less adaptable out of mischief, and of paying

wages to the younger adults for attendance at schools that would

equip them to use the new atomic machinery So quite

insensibly the council drifted into a complete reorganisation of

urban and industrial life, and indeed of the entire social

system.

Ideas that are unhampered by political intrigue or financial

considerations have a sweeping way with them, and before a year

was out the records of the council show clearly that it was

rising to its enormous opportunity, and partly through its own

direct control and partly through a series of specific

committees, it was planning a new common social order for the

entire population of the earth. 'There can be no real social

stability or any general human happiness while large areas of the

world and large classes of people are in a phase of civilisation

different from the prevailing mass. It is impossible now to have

great blocks of population misunderstanding the generally

accepted social purpose or at an economic disadvantage to the

rest.' So the council expressed its conception of the problem it

had to solve. The peasant, the field-worker, and all barbaric

cultivators were at an 'economic disadvantage' to the more mobile

and educated classes, and the logic of the situation compelled

the council to take up systematically the supersession of this

stratum by a more efficient organisation of production. It

developed a scheme for the progressive establishment throughout

the world of the 'modern system' in agriculture, a system that

should give the full advantages of a civilised life to every

agricultural worker, and this replacement has been going on right

up to the present day. The central idea of the modern system is

the substitution of cultivating guilds for the individual

cultivator, and for cottage and village life altogether. These

guilds are associations of men and women who take over areas of

arable or pasture land, and make themselvesresponsible for a

certain average produce. They are bodies small enough as a rule

to be run on a strictly democratic basis, and large enough to

supply all the labour, except for a certain assistance from

townspeople during the harvest, needed upon the land farmed. They

have watchers' bungalows or chalets on the ground cultivated, but

the ease and the costlessness of modern locomotion enables them

to maintain a group of residences in the nearest town with a

common dining-room and club house, and usually also a guild house

in the national or provincial capital. Already this system has

abolished a distinctively 'rustic' population throughout vast

areas of the old world, where it has prevailed immemorially. That

shy, unstimulated life of the lonely hovel, the narrow scandals

and petty spites and persecutions of the small village, that

hoarding, half inanimate existence away from books, thought, or

social participation and in constant contact with cattle, pigs,

poultry, and their excrement, is passing away out of human

experience. In a little while it will be gone altogether. In the

nineteenth century it had already ceased to be a necessary human

state, and only the absence of any collective intelligence and an

imagined need for tough and unintelligent soldiers and for a

prolific class at a low level, prevented its systematic

replacement at that time

And while this settlement of the country was in progress, the

urban camps of the first phase of the council's activities were

rapidly developing, partly through the inherent forces of the

situation and partly through the council's direction, into a

modern type of town

Section 7

It is characteristic of the manner in which large enterprises

forced themselves upon the Brissago council, that it was not

until the end of the first year of their administration and then

only with extreme reluctance that they would take up the manifest

need for a lingua franca for the world. They seem to have given

little attention to the various theoretical universal languages

which were proposed to them. They wished to give as little

trouble to hasty and simple people as possible, and the

world-wide alstribution of English gave them a bias for it from

the beginning. The extreme simplicity of its grammar was also in

its favour.

It was not without some sacrifices that the English-speaking

peoples were permitted the satisfaction of hearing their speech

used universally. The language was shorn of a number of

grammatical peculiarities, the distinctive forms for the

subjunctive mood for example and most of its irregular plurals

were abolished; its spelling was systematised and adapted to the

vowel sounds in use upon the continent of Europe, and a process

of incorporating foreign nouns and verbs commenced that speedily

reached enormous proportions. Within ten years from the

establishment of the World Republic the New English Dictionary

had swelled to include a vocabulary of 250,000 words, and a man

of 1900 would have found considerable difficulty in reading an

ordinary newspaper. On the other hand, the men of the new time

could still appreciate the older English literature Certain

minor acts of uniformity accompanied this larger one. The idea of

a common understanding and a general simplification of

intercourse once it was accepted led very naturally to the

universal establishment of the metric system of weights and

measures, and to the disappearance of the various makeshift

calendars that had hitherto confused chronology. The year was

divided into thirteen months of four weeks each, and New Year's

Day and Leap Year's Day were made holidays, and did not count at

all in the ordinary week. So the weeks and the months were

brought into correspondence. And moreover, as the king put it to

Firmin, it was decided to 'nail down Easter.' In these

matters, as in so many matters, the new civilisation came as a

simplification of ancient complications; the history of the

calendar throughout the world is a history of inadequate

adjustments, of attempts to fix seed-time and midwinter that go

back into the very beginning of human society; and this final

rectification had a symbolic value quite beyond its practical

convenience. But the council would have no rash nor harsh

innovations, no strange names for the months, and no alteration

in the numbering of the years.

The world had already been put upon one universal monetary basis.

For some months after the accession of the council, the world's

affairs had been carried on without any sound currency at all.

Over great regions money was still in use, but with the most

extravagant variations in price and the most disconcerting

fluctuations of public confidence. The ancient rarity of gold

upon which the entire system rested was gone. Gold was now a

waste product in the release of atomic energy, and it was plain

that no metal could be the basis of the monetary system again.

Henceforth all coins must be token coins. Yet the whole world

was accustomed to metallic money, and a vast proportion of

existing human relationships had grown up upon a cash basis, and

were almost inconceivable without that convenient liquidating

factor. It seemed absolutely necessary to the life of the social

organisation to have some sort of currency, and the council had

therefore to discover some real value upon which to rest it.

Various such apparently stable values as land and hours of work

were considered. Ultimately the government, which was now in

possession of most of the supplies of energy-releasing material,

fixed a certain number of units of energy as the value of a gold

sovereign, declared a sovereign to be worth exactly twenty marks,

twenty-five francs, five dollars, and so forth, with the other

current units of the world, and undertook, under various

qualifications and conditions, to deliver energy upon demand as

payment for every sovereign presented. On the whole, this worked

satisfactorily. They saved the face of the pound sterling. Coin

was rehabilitated, and after a phase of price fluctuations, began

to settle down to definite equivalents and uses again, with names

and everyday values familiar to the common run of people

Section 8

As the Brissago council came to realise that what it had supposed

to be temporary camps of refugees were rapidly developing into

great towns of a new type, and that it was remoulding the world

in spite of itself, it decided to place this work of

redistributing the non-agricultural population in the hands of a

compactor and better qualified special committee. That committee

is now, far more than the council of any other of its delegated

committees, the active government of the world. Developed from

an almost invisible germ of 'town-planning' that came obscurely

into existence in Europe or America (the question is still in

dispute) somewhere in the closing decades of the nineteenth

century, its work, the continual active planning and replanning

of the world as a place of human habitation, is now so to speak

the collective material activity of the race. The spontaneous,

disorderly spreadings and recessions of populations, as aimless

and mechanical as the trickling of spilt water, which was the

substance of history for endless years, giving rise here to

congestions, here to chronic devastating wars, and everywhere to

a discomfort and disorderliness that was at its best only

picturesque, is at an end. Men spread now, with the whole power

of the race to aid them, into every available region of the

earth. Their cities are no longer tethered to running water and

the proximity of cultivation, their plans are no longer affected

by strategic considerations or thoughts of social insecurity. The

aeroplane and the nearly costless mobile car have abolished trade

routes; a common language and a universal law have abolished a

thousand restraining inconveniences, and so an astonishing

dispersal of habitations has begun. One may live anywhere. And

so it is that our cities now are true social gatherings, each

with a character of its own and distinctive interests of its own,

and most of them with a common occupation. They lie out in the

former deserts, these long wasted sun-baths of the race, they

tower amidst eternal snows, they hide in remote islands, and bask

on broad lagoons. For a time the whole tendency of mankind was to

desert the river valleys in which the race had been cradled for

half a million years, but now that the War against Flies has been

waged so successfully that this pestilential branch of life is

nearly extinct, they are returning thither with a renewed

appetite for gardens laced by watercourses, for pleasant living

amidst islands and houseboats and bridges, and for nocturnal

lanterns reflected by the sea.

Man who is ceasing to be an agricultural animal becomes more and

more a builder, a traveller, and a maker. How much he ceases to

be a cultivator of the soil the returns of the Redistribution

Committee showed. Every year the work of our scientific

laboratories increases the productivity and simplifies the labour

of those who work upon the soil, and the food now of the whole

world is produced by less than one per cent. of its population, a

percentage which still tends to decrease. Far fewer people are

needed upon the land than training and proclivity dispose towards

it, and as a consequence of this excess of human attention, the

garden side of life, the creation of groves and lawns and vast

regions of beautiful flowers, has expanded enormously and

continues to expand. For, as agricultural method intensifies and

the quota is raised, one farm association after another, availing

itself of the 1975 regulations, elects to produce a public garden

and pleasaunce in the place of its former fields, and the area of

freedom and beauty is increased. And the chemists' triumphs of

synthesis, which could now give us an entirely artificial food,

remain largely in abeyance because it is so much more pleasant

and interesting to eat natural produce and to grow such things

upon the soil. Each year adds to the variety of our fruits and

the delightfulness of our flowers.

Section 9

The early years of the World Republic witnessed a certain

recrudescence of political adventure. There was, it is rather

curious to note, no revival of separatism after the face of King

Ferdinand Charles had vanished from the sight of men, but in a

number of countries, as the first urgent physical needs were met,

there appeared a variety of personalities having this in common,

that they sought to revive political trouble and clamber by its

aid to positions of importance and satisfaction. In no case did

they speak in the name of kings, and it is clear that monarchy

must have been far gone in obsolescence before the twentieth

century began, but they made appeals to the large survivals of

nationalist and racial feeling that were everywhere to be found,

they alleged with considerable justice that the council was

overriding racial and national customs and disregarding religious

rules. The great plain of India was particularly prolific in such

agitators. The revival of newspapers, which had largely ceased

during the terrible year because of the dislocation of the

coinage, gave a vehicle and a method of organisation to these

complaints. At first the council disregarded this developing

opposition, and then it recognised it with an entirely

devastating frankness.

Never, of course, had there been so provisional a government. It

was of an extravagant illegality. It was, indeed, hardly more

than a club, a club of about a hundred persons. At the outset

there were ninety-three, and these were increased afterwards by

the issue of invitations which more than balanced its deaths, to

as many at one time as one hundred and nineteen. Always its

constitution has been miscellaneous. At no time were these

invitations issued with an admission that they recognised a

right. The old institution or monarchy had come out unexpectedly

well in the light of the new regime. Nine of the original members

of the first government were crowned heads who had resigned their

separate sovereignty, and at no time afterwards did the number of

its royal members sink below six. In their case there was perhaps

a kind of attenuated claim to rule, but except for them and the

still more infinitesimal pretensions of one or two ax-presidents

of republics, no member of the council had even the shade of a

right to his participation in its power. It was natural,

therefore, that its opponents should find a common ground in a

clamour for representative government, and build high hopes upon

a return, to parliamentary institutions.

The council decided to give them everything they wanted, but in a

form that suited ill with their aspirations. It became at one

stroke a representative body. It became, indeed, magnificently

representative. It became so representative that the politicians

were drowned in a deluge of votes. Every adult of either sex

from pole to pole was given a vote, and the world was divided

into ten constituencies, which voted on the same day by means of

a simple modification of the world post. Membership of the

government, it was decided, must be for life, save in the

exceptional case of a recall; but the elections, which were held

quinquenially, were arranged to add fifty members on each

occasion. The method of proportional representation with one

transferable vote was adopted, and the voter might also write

upon his voting paper in a specially marked space, the name of

any of his representatives that he wished to recall. A ruler was

recallable by as many votes as the quota by which he had been

elected, and the original members by as many votes in any

constituency as the returning quotas in the first election.

Upon these conditions the council submitted itself very

cheerfully to the suffrages of the world. None of its members

were recalled, and its fifty new associates, which included

twenty-seven which it had seen fit to recommend, were of an

altogether too miscellaneous quality to disturb the broad trend

of its policy. Its freedom from rules or formalities prevented

any obstructive proceedings, and when one of the two newly

arrived Home Rule members for India sought for information how to

bring in a bill, they learnt simply that bills were not brought

in. They asked for the speaker, and were privileged to hear much

ripe wisdom from the ex-king Egbert, who was now consciously

among the seniors of the gathering. Thereafter they were baffled

men

But already by that time the work of the council was drawing to

an end. It was concerned not so much for the continuation of its

construction as for the preservation of its accomplished work

from the dramatic instincts of the politician.

The life of the race becomes indeed more and more independent of

the formal government. The council, in its opening phase, was

heroic in spirit; a dragon-slaying body, it slashed out of

existence a vast, knotted tangle of obsolete ideas and clumsy and

jealous proprietorships; it secured by a noble system of

institutional precautions, freedom of inquiry, freedom of

criticism, free communications, a common basis of education and

understanding, and freedom from economic oppression. With that

its creative task was accomplished. It became more and more an

established security and less and less an active intervention.

There is nothing in our time to correspond with the continual

petty making and entangling of laws in an atmosphere of

contention that is perhaps the most perplexing aspect of

constitutional history in the nineteenth century. In that age

they seem to have been perpetually making laws when we should

alter regulations. The work of change which we delegate to these

scientific committees of specific general direction which have

the special knowledge needed, and which are themselves dominated

by the broad intellectual process of the community, was in those

days inextricably mixed up with legislation. They fought over the

details; we should as soon think of fighting over the arrangement

of the parts of a machine. We know nowadays that such things go

on best within laws, as life goes on between earth and sky. And

so it is that government gathers now for a day or so in each year

under the sunshine of Brissago when Saint Bruno's lilies are in

flower, and does little more than bless the work of its

committees. And even these committees are less originative and

more expressive of the general thought than they were at first.

It becomes difficult to mark out the particular directive

personalities of the world. Continually we are less personal.

Every goodthought contributes now, and every able brain falls

within that informal and dispersed kingship which gathers

together into one purpose the energies of the race.

Section 10

It is doubtful if we shall ever see again a phase of human

existence in which 'politics,' that is to say a partisan

interference with the ruling sanities of the world, will be the

dominant interest among serious men. We seem to have entered

upon an entirely new phase in history in which contention as

distinguished from rivalry, has almost abruptly ceased to be the

usual occupation, and has become at most a subdued and hidden and

discredited thing. Contentious professions cease to be an

honourable employment for men. The peace between nations is also

a peace between individuals. We live in a world that comes of

age. Man the warrior, man the lawyer, and all the bickering

aspects of life, pass into obscurity; the grave dreamers, man the

curious learner, and man the creative artist, come forward to

replace these barbaric aspects of existence by a less ignoble

adventure.

There is no natural life of man. He is, and always has been, a

sheath of varied and even incompatible possibilities, a

palimpsest of inherited dispositions. It was the habit of many

writers in the early twentieth century to speak of competition

and the narrow, private life of trade and saving and suspicious

isolation as though such things were in some exceptional way

proper to the human constitution, and as though openness of mind

and a preference for achievement over possession were abnormal

and rather unsubstantial qualities. How wrong that was the

history of the decades immediately following the establishment of

the world republic witnesses. Once the world was released from

the hardening insecurities of a needless struggle for life that

was collectively planless and individually absorbing, it became

apparent that there was in the vast mass of people a long,

smothered passion to make things. The world broke out into

making, and at first mainly into aesthetic making. This phase of

history, which has been not inaptly termed the 'Efflorescence,'

is still, to a large extent, with us. The majority of our

population consists of artists, and the bulk of activity in the

world lies no longer with necessities but with their elaboration,

decoration, and refinement. There has been an evident change in

the quality of this making during recent years. It becomes more

purposeful than it was, losing something of its first elegance

and prettiness and gaining in intensity; but that is a change

rather of hue than of nature. That comes with a deepening

philosophy and a sounder education. For the first joyous

exercises of fancy we perceive now the deliberation of a more

constructive imagination. There is a natural order in these

things, and art comes before science as the satisfaction of more

elemental needs must come before art, and as play and pleasure

come in a human life before the development of a settled

purpose

For thousands of years this gathering impulse to creative work

must have struggled in man against the limitations imposed upon

him by his social ineptitude. It was a long smouldering fire

that flamed out at last in all these things. The evidence of a

pathetic, perpetually thwarted urgency to make something, is one

of the most touching aspects of the relics and records of our

immediate ancestors. There exists still in the death area about

the London bombs, a region of deserted small homes that furnish

the most illuminating comment on the old state of affairs. These

homes are entirely horrible, uniform, square, squat, hideously

proportioned, uncomfortable, dingy, and in some respects quite

filthy, only people in complete despair of anything better could

have lived in them, but to each is attached a ridiculous little

rectangle of land called 'the garden,' containing usually a prop

for drying clothes and a loathsome box of offal, the dustbin,

full of egg-shells, cinders, and such-like refuse. Now that one

may go about this region in comparitive security-for the London

radiations have dwindled to inconsiderable proportions-it is

possible to trace in nearly every one of these gardens some

effort to make. Here it is a poor little plank summer-house,

here it is a 'fountain' of bricks and oyster-shells, here a

'rockery,' here a 'workshop.' And in the houses everywhere there

are pitiful little decorations, clumsy models, feeble drawings.

These efforts are almost incredibly inept, like the drawings of

blindfolded men, they are only one shade less harrowing to a

sympathetic observer than the scratchings one finds upon the

walls of the old prisons, but there they are, witnessing to the

poor buried instincts that struggled up towards the light. That

god of joyous expression our poor fathers ignorantly sought, our

freedom has declared to us

In the old days the common ambition of every simple soul was to

possess a little property, a patch of land, a house uncontrolled

by others, an 'independence' as the English used to put it. And

what made this desire for freedom and prosperity so strong, was

very evidently the dream of self-expression, of doing something

with it, of playing with it, of making a personal delightfulness,

a distinctiveness. Property was never more than a means to an

end, nor avarice more than a perversion. Men owned in order to

do freely. Now that every one has his own apartments and his own

privacy secure, this disposition to own has found its release in

a new direction. Men study and save and strive that they may

leave behind them a series of panels in some public arcade, a row

of carven figures along a terrace, a grove, a pavilion. Or they

give themselves to the penetration of some still opaque riddle in

phenomena as once men gave themselves to the accumulation of

riches. The work that was once the whole substance of social

existence-for most men spent all their lives in earning a

living-is now no more than was the burden upon one of those old

climbers who carried knapsacks of provisions on their backs in

order that they might ascend mountains. It matters little to the

easy charities of our emancipated time that most people who have

made their labour contribution produce neither new beauty nor new

wisdom, but are simply busy about those pleasant activities and

enjoyments that reassure them that they are alive. They help, it

may be, by reception and reverberation, and they hinder nothing.

Section 11

Now all this phase of gigantic change in the contours and

appearances of human life which is going on about us, a change as

rapid and as wonderful as the swift ripening of adolescence to

manhood after the barbaric boyish years, is correlated with moral

and mental changes at least as unprecedented. It is not as if old

things were going out of life and new things coming in, it is

rather that the altered circumstances of men are making an appeal

to elements in his nature that have hitherto been suppressed, and

checking tendencies that have hitherto been over-stimulated and

over-developed. He has not so much grown and altered his

essential being as turned new aspects to the light. Such turnings

round into a new attitude the world has seen on a less extensive

scale before. The Highlanders of the seventeenth century, for

example, were cruel and bloodthirsty robbers, in the nineteenth

their descendants were conspicuously trusty and honourable men.

There was not a people in Western Europe in the early twentieth

century that seemed capable of hideous massacres, and none that

had not been guilty of them within the previous two centuries.

The free, frank, kindly, gentle life of the prosperous classes in

any European country before the years of the last wars was in a

different world of thought and feeling from that of the dingy,

suspicious, secretive, and uncharitable existence of the

respectable poor, or the constant personal violence, the squalor

and naive passions of the lowest stratum. Yet there were no real

differences of blood and inherent quality between these worlds;

their differences were all in circumstances, suggestion, and

habits of mind. And turning to more individual instances the

constantly observed difference between one portion of a life and

another consequent upon a religious conversion, were a standing

example of the versatile possibilities of human nature.

The catastrophe of the atomic bombs which shook men out of cities

and businesses and economic relations shook them also out of

their old established habits of thought, and out of the lightly

held beliefs and prejudices that came down to them from the past.

To borrow a word from the old-fashioned chemists, men were made

nascent; they were released from old ties; for good or evil they

were ready for new associations. The council carried them

forward for good; perhaps if his bombs had reached their

destination King Ferdinand Charles might have carried them back

to an endless chain of evils. But his task would have been a

harder one than the council's. The moral shock of the atomic

bombs had been a profound one, and for a while the cunning side

of the human animal was overpowered by its sincere realisation of

the vital necessity for reconstruction. The litigious and trading

spirits cowered together, scared at their own consequences; men

thought twice before they sought mean advantages in the face of

the unusual eagerness to realise new aspirations, and when at

last the weeds revived again and 'claims' began to sprout, they

sprouted upon the stony soil of law-courts reformed, of laws that

pointed to the future instead of the past, and under the blazing

sunshine of a transforming world. A new literature, a new

interpretation of history were springing into existence, a new

teaching was already in the schools, a new faith in the young.

The worthy man who forestalled the building of a research city

for the English upon the Sussex downs by buying up a series of

estates, was dispossessed and laughed out of court when he made

his demand for some preposterous compensation; the owner of the

discredited Dass patents makes his last appearance upon the

scroll of history as the insolvent proprietor of a paper called

The Cry for Justice, in which he duns the world for a hundred

million pounds. That was the ingenuous Dass's idea of justice,

that he ought to be paid about five million pounds annually

because he had annexed the selvage of one of Holsten's

discoveries. Dass came at last to believe quite firmly in his

right, and he died a victim of conspiracy mania in a private

hospital at Nice. Both of these men would probably have ended

their days enormously wealthy, and of course ennobled in the

England of the opening twentieth century, and it is just this

novelty of their fates that marks the quality of the new age.

The new government early discovered the need of a universal

education to fit men to the great conceptions of its universal

rule. It made no wrangling attacks on the local, racial, and

sectarian forms of religious profession that at that time divided

the earth into a patchwork of hatreds and distrusts; it left

these organisations to make their peace with God in their own

time; but it proclaimed as if it were a mere secular truth that

sacrifice was expected from all, that respect had to be shown to

all; it revived schools or set them up afresh all around the

world, and everywhere these schools taught the history of war and

the consequences and moral of the Last War; everywhere it was

taught not as a sentiment but as a matter of fact that the

salvation of the world from waste and contention was the common

duty and occupation of all men and women. These things which are

now the elementary commonplaces of human intercourse seemed to

the councillors of Brissago, when first they dared to proclaim

them, marvellously daring discoveries, not untouched by doubt,

that flushed the cheek and fired the eye.

The council placed all this educational reconstruction in the

hands of a committee of men and women, which did its work during

the next few decades with remarkable breadth and effectiveness.

This educational committee was, and is, the correlative upon the

mental and spiritual side of the redistribution committee. And

prominent upon it, and indeed for a time quite dominating it, was

a Russian named Karenin, who was singular in being a congenital

cripple. His body was bent so that he walked with difficulty,

suffered much pain as he grew older, and had at last to undergo

two operations. The second killed him. Already malformation,

which was to be seen in every crowd during the middle ages so

that the crippled beggar was, as it were, an essential feature of

the human spectacle, was becoming a strange thing in the world.

It had a curious effect upon Karenin's colleagues; their feeling

towards him was mingled with pity and a sense of inhumanity that

it needed usage rather than reason to overcome. He had a strong

face, with little bright brown eyes rather deeply sunken and a

large resolute thin-lipped mouth. His skin was very yellow and

wrinkled, and his hair iron gray. He was at all times an

impatient and sometimes an angry man, but this was forgiven him

because of the hot wire of suffering that was manifestly thrust

through his being. At the end of his life his personal prestige

was very great. To him far more than to any contemporary is it

due that self-abnegation, self-identification with the world

spirit, was made the basis of universal education. That general

memorandum to the teachers which is the key-note of the modern

educational system, was probably entirely his work.

'Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it,' he wrote. 'That is

the device upon the seal of this document, and the starting point

of all we have to do. It is a mistake to regard it as anything

but a plain statement of fact. It is the basis for your work.

You have to teach self-forgetfulness, and everything else that

you have to teach is contributory and subordinate to that end.

Education is the release of man from self. You have to widen the

horizons of your children, encourage and intensify their

curiosity and their creative impulses, and cultivate and enlarge

their sympathies. That is what you are for. Under your guidance

and the suggestions you will bring to bear on them, they have to

shed the old Adam of instinctive suspicions, hostilities, and

passions, and to find themselves again in the great being of the

universe. The little circles of their egotisms have to be opened

out until they become arcs in the sweep of the racial purpose.

And this that you teach to others you must learn also sedulously

yourselves. Philosophy, discovery, art, every sort of skill,

every sort of service, love: these are the means of salvation

from that narrow loneliness of desire, that brooding

preoccupation with self and egotistical relationships, which is

hell for the individual, treason to the race, and exile from

God'

Section 12

As things round themselves off and accomplish themselves, one

begins for the first time to see them clearly. From the

perspectives of a new age one can look back upon the great and

widening stream of literature with a complete understanding.

Things link up that seemed disconnected, and things that were

once condemned as harsh and aimless are seen to be but factors in

the statement of a gigantic problem. An enormous bulk of the

sincerer writing of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth

centuries falls together now into an unanticipated unanimity; one

sees it as a huge tissue of variations upon one theme, the

conflict of human egotism and personal passion and narrow

imaginations on the one hand, against the growing sense of wider

necessities and a possible, more spacious life.

That conflict is in evidence in so early a work as Voltaire's

Candide, for example, in which the desire for justice as well as

happiness beats against human contrariety and takes refuge at

last in a forced and inconclusive contentment with little things.

Candide was but one of the pioneers of a literature of uneasy

complaint that was presently an innumerable multitude of books.

The novels more particularly of the nineteenth century, if one

excludes the mere story-tellers from our consideration, witness

to this uneasy realisation of changes that call for effort and of

the lack of that effort. In a thousand aspects, now tragically,

now comically, now with a funny affectation of divine detachment,

a countless host of witnesses tell their story of lives fretting

between dreams and limitations. Now one laughs, now one weeps,

now one reads with a blank astonishment at this huge and almost

unpremeditated record of how the growing human spirit, now

warily, now eagerly, now furiously, and always, as it seems,

unsuccessfully, tried to adapt itself to the maddening misfit of

its patched and ancient garments. And always in these books as

one draws nearer to the heart of the matter there comes a

disconcerting evasion. It was the fantastic convention of the

time that a writer should not touch upon religion. To do so was

to rouse the jealous fury of the great multitude of professional

religious teachers. It was permitted to state the discord, but

it was forbidden to glance at any possible reconciliation.

Religion was the privilege of the pulpit

It was not only from the novels that religion was omitted. It was

ignored by the newspapers; it was pedantically disregarded in the

discussion of business questions, it played a trivial and

apologetic part in public affairs. And this was done not out of

contempt but respect. The hold of the old religious organisations

upon men's respect was still enormous, so enormous that there

seemed to be a quality of irreverence in applying religion to the

developments of every day. This strange suspension of religion

lasted over into the beginnings of the new age. It was the clear

vision of Marcus Karenin much more than any other contemporary

influence which brought it back into the texture of human life.

He saw religion without hallucinations, without superstitious

reverence, as a common thing as necessary as food and air, as

land and energy to the life of man and the well-being of the

Republic. He saw that indeed it had already percolated away from

the temples and hierarchies and symbols in which men had sought

to imprison it, that it was already at work anonymously and

obscurely in the universal acceptance of the greater state. He

gave it clearer expression, rephrased it to the lights and

perspectives of the new dawn

But if we return to our novels for our evidence of the spirit of

the times it becomes evident as one reads them in their

chronological order, so far as that is now ascertainable, that as

one comes to the latter nineteenth and the earlier twentieth

century the writers are much more acutely aware of secular change

than their predecessors were. The earlier novelists tried to show

'life as it is,' the latter showed life as it changes. More and

more of their characters are engaged in adaptation to change or

suffering from the effects of world changes. And as we come up

to the time of the Last Wars, this newer conception of the

everyday life as a reaction to an accelerated development is

continually more manifest. Barnet's book, which has served us so

well, is frankly a picture of the world coming about like a ship

that sails into the wind. Our later novelists give a vast gallery

of individual conflicts in which old habits and customs, limited

ideas, ungenerous temperaments, and innate obsessions are pitted

against this great opening out of life that has happened to us.

They tell us of the feelings of old people who have been wrenched

away from familiar surroundings, and how they have had to make

peace with uncomfortable comforts and conveniences that are still

strange to them. They give us the discord between the opening

egotisms of youths and the ill-defined limitations of a changing

social life. They tell of the universal struggle of jealousy to

capture and cripple our souls, of romantic failures and tragical

misconceptions of the trend of the world, of the spirit of

adventure, and the urgency of curiosity, and how these serve the

universal drift. And all their stories lead in the end either to

happiness missed or happiness won, to disaster or salvation. The

clearer their vision and the subtler their art, the more

certainly do these novels tell of the possibility of salvation

for all the world. For any road in life leads to religion for

those upon it who will follow it far enough

It would have seemed a strange thing to the men of the former

time that it should be an open question as it is to-day whether

the world is wholly Christian or not Christian at all. But

assuredly we have the spirit, and as surely have we left many

temporary forms behind. Christianity was the first expression of

world religion, the first complete repudiation of tribalism and

war and disputation. That it fell presently into the ways of more

ancient rituals cannot alter that. The common sense of mankind

has toiled through two thousand years of chastening experience to

find at last how sound a meaning attaches to the familiar phrases

of the Christian faith. The scientific thinker as he widens out

to the moral problems of the collective life, comes inevitably

upon the words of Christ, and as inevitably does the Christian,

as his thoughtgrows clearer, arrive at the world republic. As

for the claims of the sects, as for the use of a name and

successions, we live in a time that has shaken itself free from

such claims and consistencies.


CHAPTER THE THIRD THE ENDING OF WAR | The World Set Free | CHAPTER THE FIFTH THE LAST DAYS OF MARCUS KARENIN