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THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE WAR
BY JOHN JAY CHAPMAN
THE invasion of Belgium gave the with the satanic announcement that world a shock like the slipping of the might makes right, - as clear a stateearth's crust. It was an earthquake ment of the proposition as ever was which had been silently maturing for made, followed by a spontaneous centuries; and when it came it shook roar of denial from peoples in whom the globe to the centre. Every one the instinct of self-preservation rose to knew, when he felt that oscillation, meet the challenge. It was the metathat the future of humanity was at physical element,
physical element, — the claim of the stake.
Germans, - rather than their brute The declaration by the Germans that power, that awakened the antagonism their will was law rang with a note of of the world. Man's nature vibrated to defiance toward Creation: it was an its roots against their idea. That idea attack upon every man. Moreover, it is Self-Will. The instinctive piety of was blasphemy. It rent the inner veil man abhors it. The mythology of every in the breast of many a man who knew race condemns it. Self-will is, and has little of Germany, and little of relig- always been, the quintessence of Evil. ion. Not the sage only, but the man in The struggle between good and evil, the street, had a vision: a spasm ran which is generally invisible and can be through him. He was frightened, to be apprehended only by instinct, has been sure; but he was more awed than terri- dramatized by the war, and the whole fied, for he felt within himself that the world has become the stage of a mirpowers of the universe were rising to acle play. Humanity enacts its great meet a crisis.
allegory. The size and expense of it are Those powers soon made themselves appalling, but the substance of it is felt. The great crash of evil was fol- familiar, and the vividness of it casts lowed by a counter-crash of sanctity into the shade everything heretofore and heroism of faith in every form. seen upon the earth. The regeneration of the world did not One after another, nations are being wait for the end of the war, but began stirred into the drama; and as they at once. France became, within a fort go, they pass by natural law into the night, the image of Joan of Arc. Un- two camps of good and evil. Nay, the suspected heroes and heroines flocked passage is easy; for in every country to the scene of conflict from distant the two camps exist already. The iglands. The sight of innocent suffering norant, the weak, the timid, -all who aroused in onlookers a pity which turn- are already being exploited by some ed in many cases into sublime passion, form of autocracy, greed, or ambition, and which in every case increased the - become natural vassals of the larger intellect, generosity, courage, and un- tyranny. Their leaders take service selfishness of those who felt it.
secretly or openly under the Kaiser's The world-war began thus suddenly banner, and the subjects are delivered
over to their new master without being was upon them. They reversed one of aware of the transfer. They go by a the most deeply grounded traditions of chemical affinity to the aid of their their race and history, as it were, in a cause.
night, because they saw that both jusBut the dissolving process of nature tice and common sense required the does not stop here. The individuals of change. every nation are being analyzed, torn Since that time every day has shown asunder, divided by the claims of new fresh examples of the intelligence which allegiances, drawn toward the light, enables our democracy to improvise pushed toward evil, purged or damned whatever shifts the times demand. - and effectively replaced in their re- Experts appear among us who know lation to the universal problem. exactly how many Liberty Bonds each
If the power of Evil has never been so town can absorb on a given date. The manifest in the world before as to-day, work is done by voluntary effort. If the power of God has never been so the Y.M.C.A. needs thirty-five milapparent. As for America, she has be- lion dollars, the hundred million Amercome a new land. The very first camp icans are canvassed in a week. Where at Plattsburg was filled with the flames is the bureau, the system, the red-tape of religious fervor. It resembled an of this gigantic collection? The machinold-fashioned camp-meeting. But the ery appears and disappears as required, camp at Plattsburg was merely a spark and by a kind of magic. from the kind of fire that was kind- These popular'war drives' have done ling through the whole nation. Our more toward unifying our people than press, our social intercourse, our let- mere speechmaking could ever have ters, our standards of thought, speech, done. Their political value is even and conduct have been vitalized by the greater than their financial value, and
they have been conducted with conImmediately upon the invasion of summate ability by the men who hapBelgium our newspapers showed a pened to be in control of our indusclearness and profundity of thought, try. These big business men - men and an eloquence which can hardly be whose whole training and purpose had matched in the history of popular lit- apparently been commercial -- have erature. They became beacons to the become spiritual leaders, guides who people. The full publicity which they are striving to save the people from gave to all the German propaganda, their own weaknesses and to wean us knowing that the German arguments from idolatry. would defeat their own cause, showed Old truths which had come to be rean absolute faith in popular education garded as the vague intimations of re-a faith which was justified. While ligion, or as the dreams of saints, are the response of America seemed slow, it now received on all hands as common was steady, it was powerful. The lead- fact. The mystics have always told us ership of the thoughtful classes was that every private act carried its conaccepted. The solidarity of the country sequence to the life of all men and to was revealed. Intellect triumphed. I the future of humanity. But whoever doubt whether history can show any thought that a man would say to us, case of the triumph of intellect in a de ‘Drop that piece of white bread which mocracy as remarkable as was the ac- you are raising to your lips! The fate of ceptance of conscription by the Amer- the world five hundred years hence is ican people when they saw that war at stake'?
It is the great pain which we have valued in terms of the spirit. Life and passed through, and are still in the death are viewed as parts of a single midst of, which has opened our eyes scheme. The inordinate value set on and sharpened our ears till we under- life during periods of prosperity vanstand many things which were formerly ished when the hostilities began. The thought to be paradox. Nothing else deepest moral mystery of the world, except pain ever revealed these things the mystery of sacrifice, was recognized, to mankind. The world's religious lit- understood and acted upon by every erature has been the fruit and outcome one as a matter of course; and a wholeof suffering. Therefore it is that the some glow came over humanity in conmeaning of psalm, poem, and tragedy quence. The average soul was turned blossoms in the breast of persons who right-side-out for the first time in its are passing through any great anguish. experience; and all the forms of 'conAround such persons dark walls of des- version' with which philosophy has pair arise and cut off the view of the wrestled for centuries were found benatural world. And next, these walls side the hearth and in the market-place. themselves become transparent and Indeed the sacred symbols and hieroa new landscape opens — not wholly glyphics of prophetic literature - the new either, but freshly seen. Grief is a treasured wisdom of the past perspective glass; and any great na- no longer cryptic. Their banners hang tional peril consolidates men's minds from every window. There is a rejuinto heroic clairvoyance and makes an venescence in the streets. epoch of vision.
No one can tell how long the war To-day we are living in a time not may endure; sometimes it seems as if merely of national, but of world peril, the struggle might burn on for a genand the visions of all history are drawn eration. Yet we know that the faith to a single focus. It is an era of pro- it has evoked will outlast it, and will phecy and the prophets, and things are shine in the life of the world forever.
THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB
But my furnace is different. I defy FURNACE AND I
the prettiest child imaginable to run it. SUMMER is the favorite time to ad- Indeed, in a strict sense, I defy anyvertise furnaces, for, although a paci- body to run it; for this furnace has a a fist might argue that being prepared mind of its own and an odd ambition to for cold weather encourages frost, the behave like a thermometer. On a warm practical persons who make and sell day it goes up, on a cold day it goes heating plants are firm believers in pre- down; in zero weather it takes all the paredness. They produce diagrams and time of a determined man to head it off pictures, showing how their furnace bi- from becoming a large, inconvenient sects the coal bill, and how easily a pret- refrigerator. As for bisecting coal bills, ty child can run it from the front hall. the creature likes coal. I have even
thought that it uttered strange, self- There sat the monster on the floor of congratulatory, happy noises whenever the cellar, impassive as Buddha and there occurred a rise in the price of its apparently holding up the house with favorite edible.
as many arms as an octopus hollow Before meeting this furnace I had arms through which presently would lived in apartments, and my mental flow the genial heat. I peeked cauconception of a ton of coal had been tiously through a little door into his as of something enormous, sufficient to stomach, and marveled at its hollow heat the average house a month. A fur- immensity. I reached in till my arm nace was to me a remote mystery oper- ached — and my hand dangled in empated by a high priest called “janitor,' ty space. But my intelligence told me whom I vaguely connected with the that there must be a bottom. Crumlines of Smollett, —
pling a newspaper into a great wad, I
dropped it down, down into the monTh’ Hesperian dragon not more fierce and fell; Nor the gaunt, growling janitor of Hell.
ster's gullet, where it vanished forever.
Icrumpled and dropped another; I conI took my heat as a matter of course. If tinued, until at last —oh, triumph of I wanted more of it, I spoke warmly to mind and industry over incalculable the janitor through a speaking tube, depth! — I saw newspaper, and had and — after a while — there was more something tangible on which to erect a heat. If I wanted less, I spoke to him pyre of kindlings. Where I could reach coldly, in the same distant, godlike I laid them crosswise, and where I could way, and — after a while — there was n't I tossed them in at varying angles, less heat. In neither case, I discovered, gaining skill 'with practice.
I did an ordinary tone of voice get any 'It is like a great wooden nest!' result whatever; and, although a fat cried I in astonishment. ‘Now I know man himself, he sometimes growled why the coal I have bought for my furback through the tube very much like nace is called “egg." the gaunt specimen mentioned by I lit the fire and made a grand smoke. Smollett. But I gave little thought to It rose through the kindlings; it piled him. I had what is called an 'intelli- out through the little door; it hung like gent idea' that to produce more heat great cobwebs to the roof of the cellar. he opened a draft,' and to reduce heat With great presence of mind I hastily he closed it, the effect of a draft on a closed the little door and ran lightly up furnace being just the opposite to its the cellar-stairs. The smoke had preeffect on a janitor. At night he 'shook ceded me; it got there first through the the furnace down,' in the morning he registers; and more was coming. shook the furnace up.' One gathers I met a woman. such knowledge casually, without con- 18 the house a fire?' she asked exscious effort or realization. I had in citedly. fact no more curiosity about the furn- I calmed her. ace than about the sun, for I seemed as 'It is not,' I replied quietly, in a matunlikely to run one heater as the other. ter-of-course way. “When you start
Then, like many another man who a fire for the winter it always smokes has lived in apartments, I turned sub- a little.' urbanite. I had a furnace, and I had to We opened the windows. We went run it myself. How well I remember outside and looked at the house. It that autumn day when I started my leaked smoke through every crevice first furnace fire!
except, curiously enough, the chimney.
Ah-h-h-h-h! I saw what had happened. times when I have slammed his little I groped my way to the cellar and open- door and spoken words to him far, far ed the back damper. Now the smoke hotter than the fire that smouldered went gladly up the chimney, and the and refused to burn in his bowels. I view through the little door was at judge from what I have read that tamonce beautiful and awful: it was like ing a wild animal must be a good deal looking into the heart of an angry vol- like taming a furnace, with one imporcano. Evidently it was time to lay the tant exception: the wild-animal-tamer eggs on the nest.
never loses his temper or the beast I shoveled the abyss full of coal, and would kill him; but a furnace, fortuthe volcano became extinct. Presently, nately for suburban mortality, cannot instead of a furnace full of fire, I had a kill its tamer. furnace full of egg coal. I began taking When his furnace happens to be it out, egg by egg, at first with my fin- good-natured, however, a man will gers and then with the tongs from the often find the bedtime hour with it dining-room fireplace. And when the pleasant and even enjoyable. He de woman idly questioned me as to what I scends, humming or whistling, to the was going to do down cellar with the cellar; and the subsequent shaking and tongs, I bit my lip.
shoveling is, after all, no more than a To the man who runs it (an absurd healthy exercise which he would not term as applied to a thing that has no otherwise take and which will make legs and weighs several tons) the fur- him sleep better. He is friendly with nace is his first thought in the morning this rotund, coal-eating giant; he reand his last thought at night. His cal- gards it almost like a big baby which endar has but two seasons winter, he is putting to bed — or, at least, he when the furnace is going; and summer, might so regard it if putting a baby to when the furnace is out. But in sum- bed was one of his recognized pleasures. mer his thoughts are naturally more But, oh, what a difference in the philosophical. He sees how profoundly morning! He awakes in the dark, this recent invention (which he is not startled perhaps from some pleasant at the time running) has changed man's dream by the wild alarm-m-m-m of a attitude toward nature.
clock under his pillow; and outside the I am, of course, not referring to those snug island of warmth on which he lies, furnaces which are endowed with more the Universe stretches away in every than the average human intelligence; direction, above, below, and on every those superfurnaces which are met with side of him, cold, dreary, and unfit for in the advertisements, which shake human habitation, to and beyond the themselves down, shovel their own coal, remotest star. In that cold Universe carry and sift their own ashes, regulate how small he is! — how warm and how their own draughts, and, if they do not weak! Instantly he thinks of the furactually order and pay for their own nace, and the remotest star seems near coal, at least consume it as carefully as by comparison. The thought of getting if they did.
up and going down cellar seems as unWith a furnace like mine a man ex- real as the thought of getting up and periences all the emotions of which he going to meet the sun at that pale is capable. He loves, he hates, he ad- streak which, through his easterly mires, he despises, he grieves, he exults. window, heralds the reluctant coming There have been times when I have of another day. Yet he knows that he felt like patting my furnace; and again, must and that eventually he will get