« AnkstesnisTęsti »
That is a real "Triumph of Time," and we do not see why painters should always represent Time's triumph by a melancholy figure trampling on poets, men and priests, kings, and other women, instead of designing some joyful and exuberant creature leading in a happier breed of men with each generation. The authors of the pageant are of more hopeful mind than allegorical painters, for they have arranged their scenes to display the growth of liberty and the progress of great deeds, even on the eastern edges of London. They have written it all in the conventional heroics that give just the right touch of humorous grandeur for a children's show. The rich and great habitually address rebellious inferiors as "dogs." "Out of my sight, dogs," they cry; or "Drive off these noisy curs!" And if the people stir, it is whispered, "Foul treason is afoot." And yet, beneath the fine heroics and the splendor of old phrase, no one can miss the sense of growth, of advance from point to point, and of life becoming a finer and nobler sort of thing, from the time when Boadicea takes the poison, all through the centuries, to the scene representing Elizabeth preparing to oppose the Armada, and Shakespeare speaking John of Gaunt's familiar lines on England. In the final words of the pageant, as though to summarize the purpose of it all, Burleigh says to Elizabeth:
Let the centuries
Set forth the scenes that fill old London's story
The men, the heroes, great and humble folk,
Whose life is ours, whose lives have given us life.
So be it. We will call the vision up. O London, mighty mother of great deeds,
O heart of England, glory of the world,
Unroll themselves before me, scene by scene.
They come; may we, their most unworthy sons,
Read London's glorious future in her past.
Leading up to some glorious future, the vision of centuries goes by-the fantastic procession of the men and women who handed on life to us, and were not dreamlike things, but actually Manlived upon this very ground. kind sees the world of space contracting now. It is still a little strange to think that at this very moment the cafés are preparing at Monte Carlo, the bulls are being carted to Madrid for tomorrow's fight, the negroes are groping in deep forests, the Indians are descending with prayer into sacred rivers, and the Amazon flows murmuring through the night. But our inventions have made this earth too small, and when, starting from London, you can reach almost any point on its surface within a month, it seems hardly worth while to start. Space will fail us unless we can fit to another star. But time remains mysterious and inaccessible, nor will the aeroplane be invented that can take us where Richard Cour de Lion's mace cracks the armor of his foes, like a boy stamping on crabs. All those scenes of the pageant have passed down Aldgate, while it was a gate, and long before it was old. Britons and Romans, bloodstained and worn with battles down Epping way; messengers with news of Hastings, and Harold's body borne to Waltham Cross, where the Rood itself bowed in sorrow for his destiny; kings and queens at war in silly rivalry, beggars' daughters, and rebel artisans, pilgrims to the saint's relics, and sailors of the queen embarking to confront the pride of Spain on rations of mouldy bread and sour beer
Show me your story! Let the long- they have all gone their road, tramping over the same earth, drawing the
same breath as ourselves, and finding day and night as sweet. Sometimes
we can discover a dim trace of their hands upon an old wall or trench, but themselves we cannot find, though, as Burleigh says, their life is ours. What the Sartor said is true:
Thousands of human generations, all as noisy as our own, have been swallowed-up of Time, and there remains no wreck of them any more; and Arcturus and Orion and Sirius and the Pleiades are still shining in their courses, clear and young, as when the Shepherd first noted them in the plain of Shinar.
But whilst we are in the way with the Sartor, another question rises from the pageant. If it is true that clothes are indeed the visible sign of a spiritual state, why is it that in this excellent and historic pageant, so careful of detail, the only hideous clothes are to be seen at the moment of England's greatest glory? Boadicea, as she takes the poison tabloid, is graceful in flowing and not too scanty raiment; the warriors from the Bayeux tapestry look as serviceable as men could be while they sought to ward off death in clothes of steel chain; the kings and queens and rebels and beggar-maids are all beautiful and attractive figures up to the sixteenth century; even Chaucer in black cowl and gown passed very well for a poet. But the moment we approached the great days of Elizabeth— the moment that Drake and Frobisher were to snatch the world from Spain, and Shakespeare himself walked the boards, the paragon of animals-suddenly men and women appeared in the most ludicrous and inhuman apparel that perversity ever fashioned. In padded protuberances, in slashes, puffs, and ruffs they lumbered about the stage like distorted Dutch dolls till one would have supposed them to represent the Saxon temperament at its grossest, at its least inspired solidity, at its nearest
kinship to suet pudding. Could these stuffed and upholstered figures really stand for the most glorious age of our literature and our arms? Alas! we cannot doubt the accuracy and skill of the pageant. Drake sweated in a doublet like a pillow, and Sylvia was commended for hips at right angles to her waist. Where, then, was that subtle correspondence between the visible sign of clothes and the spiritual state that, for good or evil, they should signify?
We may take the question a little further still, and ask why it was impossible to carry the pageant beyond the days of Elizabeth. We can imagine the children acting the meeting of Cromwell and the Levellers on Mile End Waste, but the nearer we get to our own times the more difficult it would be to make a pageant at all. There are plenty of scenes in East End history to be represented-the sailing of the first steamer from London Dock, the arrival of the first Jewish refugees from Russia, Matthew Arnold opening Toynbee Hall, a Christ Church graduate casting off the first pack of "harriers" from Aldgate Pump to draw Cambridge Heath Road, the institution of the 1st Cadet Battalion of the Queen's (old 2nd Foot). But somehow we feel that a pageant of such scenes might be a little dull and colorless on the stage, as well as a little ludicrous. If it is admitted that progress is sure and obvious, if people who know Whitechapel tell us that the advance is astonishing, and such a thing as this pageant would have been incredible even a quarter of a century ago, why are our crowds so drab and smudgy that we should be ashamed to represent them in a show?
It is often embarrassing when an Indian or some other traveller from the East gives us his first impressions of our English life. His expectations have been high. He has come to the land
of freedom, to a powerful race of men, happy in the fruits of the highest civilization. He finds a dingy and ignoble. looking people, dressed in second-hand clothes which they never wash; and as to the hats of men and women, to the Eastern mind such hideousness of angle and color is an almost inconceivable offence. But those who have seen the pageant need not go to the East for reflection. In front of the show, as a kind of model audience, stand the average East End boy and girl, making characteristic remarks upon the episodes as they pass. Why is it that in not a single one of those scenes could that boy and girl be admitted among the other children without appearing instantly as an unendurable blot upon the whole? Not even
among the ugliness of the Elizabethan costumes could the lower degradation of our working-class children's clothes be tolerated. It is not only the difference in class, for the pageant represents all classes with fidelity, and the contrast is too sharp for money to wipe out. We admit the advance, the astonishing improvement even within a single generation, but why is progress so dull? Why, if the inward and spiritual grace is increasing, is there so little outward and visible sign? A grubby suit,
a greasy cap, a torn pinafore, and mother's cast-off boots-what would the Sartor make of those as evidences of civilizing grace? What "organic filaments" of future worship do they represent among mankind?
Before his departure for his shooting expedition in Africa, Mr. Roosevelt wrote a series of articles in which he discusses the question how far those who are opposed to Socialism can work with Socialists in Social Reform. Than this there is scarcely any subject more important. As we have more than once pointed out, Socialism owes much of its advancement to the blindness, deliberate or accidental, of its alliesthe people who lightly assume the title and wear the uniform of the party without any clear idea of what its real aims and motives are. It is to them that argument has to be addressed. We need not greatly concern ourselves to contend with the Graysons and the Blatchfords and the Shaws and the Hyndhams; our concern lies with those sentimentalists and loose thinkers who pin themselves to the coat-tails of Socialism without considering the texture of the article. We have no great fault to find with Mr. Roosevelt's manner of dealing with the subject. He is sound
and vigorous, and with one or two exceptions very clear as to what he means. But his articles are curiously lucid in their revelation of his limitations. He knows his own mind and is able to make others know it, but it is not a great mind. We find no distinction or originality of thought; he thinks and says nothing that has not been said and thought oftentimes before. He has neither power nor wish to wander in the byways of subtlety; he has not the power to drape the commonplace with distinction, he is content to assert it with robust virility and with simple honesty of purpose. He is the man of action not of thought: sometimes his action will outstrip his thought; he is, like Anthony, "a plain, blunt man, who dearly loves his country." A fine character, a most useful citizen; but Mr. Roosevelt, the writer, has destroyed much of the glamor which surrounded Mr. Roosevelt, the ruler of eighty millions of people.
For the purpose he has in view, how
ever, Mr. Roosevelt's limitations do not make him the less useful; indeed, they may almost increase the weight of his arguments, trite and obvious though they be. Sentimentalism, the lust of novelty, the mental habit of regarding phenomena from one aspect, niggling subtleties-the things, in fact, which go to the making of the selfdelusion of what Mr. Roosevelt calls "parlor Socialists"-are not to be brushed aside with the feather dusters of philosophy, but with the rough besom of common-sense. And this the ex-President wields with a muscular hand. He is as much a believer in the virtues of the North-Easter as ever was Charles Kingsley, he opens the window and lets it play on the neurotics who call themselves Socialists. "The parlor Socialists, be they lay or clerical," he says, "deserve scant consideration at the hands of honest and clean living men and women." Dishonesty and impurity, with the sapping of the national fibre and the moral degradation which they involve-these are the main counts in his indictment of Socialism. And, be it remembered, Mr. Roosevelt comes to the question with a mind clearly alive to the evils which Socialism would destroy; with an almost passionate revolt against "the individualism of the Tweed Ring," against the selfishness of capital, against privilege, with a burning sympathy for the poor and oppressed. His sympathies have even led him into indiscretions, to a straining of the law, to some loss of reputation for wisdom. Of all men not avowed Socialists, the disciples of that cult might have looked to him, if not for approval, at least for mild and indulgent criticism; in him the sentimental self-styled Socialists might have expected to find countenance for their benevolent attitude towards the doctrines of Marx and his followers. And behold, in him they find a ruthless enemy of the fundamental doctrines which
they maintain from conviction, or to which their thoughtless amiability leads them to assent.
Mr. Roosevelt's position is, we believe, the position of all sane men, by which we mean men who can penetrate the nebulous haze of abstractions and see facts as they are. No one can pretend that things are as they should be; the most callous cannot contemplate without despair the vast sum of human misery; the terrible disparity between wealth and poverty appals the imagination. We dare not cling to bald individualism in the face of so much helplessness; the commonest humanity and decency revolts against the undisturbed operation of the law of the survival of the fittest. Indeed in our complex society that law cannot have a fair chance of operation, the conditions which can give it free play are hopelessly disturbed. Hence our laws for the protection of workers, of women, of children, of those who cannot protect themselves; hence our provision for the poor, our intrusion on parental authority, and the like. This is easy; the difficulty begins when we ask how far we are to go. Socialism sees, or professes to see, no alternative between itself and cold individualism. Practical common-sense dictates a middle course, which shall deal with phenomena as they present themselves without reference to outlying theories. This compromise is, of course, imperfect and full of difficulty if not danger. For always there is the difficulty of finding a stopping-place, there is always the danger of an indiscreet step that may launch us on the downward course towards Communism. In our haste to remedy admitted evils we may find ourselves committed to what Mr. Roosevelt calls "a glorified State foundling asylum and a State free-lunch counter."
Nothing can be more grievous than precipitancy in Social Reform, a phrase which is being seriously distorted from
its proper meaning, and which is made the vehicle of fantastic dreams rather than of solid benefit. Take old-age pensions as an example. After passing his Bill, Mr. Lloyd George makes belated discoveries in Germany. Prudence would have placed the investigation before the process, but there we are committed to an ill-considered, extravagant scheme, and to a disastrous precedent. Again, many people would strive to cure poverty by a minimum wage, which in its turn would blossom into equality of reward. The true, or scientific Socialists preach the doctrine openly. "Under the labor time-check system of exchange proposed by Socialists, any laborer could exchange the wealth he produced in any given number of hours for the wealth produced by any other laborer in the same number of hours." The doctrine of that sentence must shock the common-sense and common justice of very many socalled Socialists, yet they pursue a policy which aims at making it not only doctrine but law. To say that Hodge, digging for a twelve-month, shall reap the same reward as Mr. Edison or Mr. Marconi, inventing for the same period, will appear to "parlor Socialists" absurd; yet they are not only drifting towards it, they are actually propelling the boat. They are blind not only to the economic, but the moral results of their policy. In railing against the "privilege" of Capital, they are creating a "privilege" of Labor more corrupt and destructive. If it be wrong for the capitalist to exploit the community, it is surely wrong for the idle and worthless workman to exploit the thrifty, as he woul! do under a system of equal rewards, which put simply means that he would put into the common store what he liked and take out what he wanted. "Such a proposition," says Mr. Roosevelt, "is morally base. The worst wrongs that capitalism can commit upon labor would sink into in
significance when compared with the hideous wrong done by those who would degrade labor by sapping the foundations of self-respect and self-reliance"
The confusion of thought in which the Socialist becomes involved when he talks of labor and capital is as alarming as it is deplorable. It is terrifying to think of the possible domination of men who find the source of wealth in manual labor, or whose modifications of that crude Marxian dogma are at best but nebulous, and who regard money as a thing to be destroyed in favor of primitive barter. The disproof of them is so easy. Pushed to extremity they must confess that the world has outgrown barter, that there must be some medium of exchange. Take them then to Johannesburg and ask them how that medium could be extracted from the reef by labor alone, much less by manual labor, and the refutation of their theory is complete and crushing. As has been said, we do not ask the thoroughpaced Socialist to consider these things. Presumably he has considered them, and whether he can swallow the conclusions, or cannot see them, his case is hopeless. But we have a right to expect and demand that the self-styled Socialist shall face the consequences of his present course of action on approval. Let him consider, especially the Christian Socialist. the logical consequences to domestic life and morality of the negation of the right of individual ownership, which applied to property, must extend to wife and child, as Mr. Belfort Bax well points out. Let him consider the atrocious consequences of measuring reward by wants and not by achievement. Let him consider how his unregulated sympathy, which abhors the survival of the fittest, involves something worse the supremacy of the unfit. It is high time, more than high time, that Social Reform, SO