almost savage love for humanity ā love which takes
the form of beating it to school against its will,
and often in hours when humanity and (I must
confess) I myself also consider that it might well
be engaged in healthy games and innocent amuse-
" For Shaw as a man I have only admiration.
For his philosophy, his idiotic Life Force, his absurd
Superman, his silly disregard of all which has sur-
vived the test of time, I have only abomination.
" Most people detest Shaw but think that he is
right. I like Shaw but know that he is wrong.
" When I say that most people think Shaw is right,
I refer to the inhabitants of a rather small and
fashionable world whom, for want of a better term,
we will call the intellectual aristocrats.
" There is a larger world of simpler people ā a
world upon which the fashionable Shavian intel-
lect is accustomed to throw contempt; a world
from which we, if we are fortunate, will take the
greater number of our friends ā the world of ' the
" Now the average man (we must use this expres-
sion for want of a better) does not know much about
Shaw, and certainly does not start with any preju-
dice against him; yet commonly, when he reads
Shaw's books, hears his speeches and sees his plays,
he is intensely irritated. Nor is this irritation that
of the schoolboy being ' told off,' but rather, I
42 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
think, lies in the fact that, feeling himself quite in-
capable of bowling out Shaw on his own pitch (I
mean of meeting his clever arguments with better
ones), he is yet convinced that some of those detested
conventions and many of those detested dogmas
which Bernard Shaw dismisses so neatly are not
getting fair play.
" Thus, while his intellect is forcibly convinced,
his heart is not. Why is this ? I have an explana-
tion. It is the subject of this lecture. Whether
or not it is the true explanation you will decide for
" Jfialysis of the Shavian Attitude. ā Let us
examine the character and opinions of Shaw as
shown in his work. That is the only fair way to
judge any artist, and it is a particularly good way of
judging Shaw. He is so very personal in his art.
Even his dramas are full of himself. Shakespeare
merges himself in the characters he creates; it is
impossible to discover his personal opinions. But
you have only to read a play by Shaw to find out
exactly what he thinks of all his characters, himself,
you, the Prime Minister, and everybody else. Far
be it from me to quibble about objective and sub-
jective art. Let us be grateful for good, clean,
witty plays, however they come to us. Shaw's
plays are always clean, generally good, invariably
witty, and they reveal a good deal of the author
which is entirely to our present purpose.
" Probably the most noticeable thing in Shaw's
work is something to which I have already referred.
I mean his attitude to the average man. Roughly
it amounts to this, that the average person is always
a fool, generally a knave, and, if an Englishman,
also a hypocrite. I do not think Shaw hates
him. He does despise him. This accounts for
two more things: (i) Shaw's disbelief in democ-
racy, and (2) his belief in the superman. But it
is in itself accounted for by something very much
bigger, very much more important, very much more
significant ā I mean the fact that Shaw is, both in
the wide and in the narrow sense of the word, anti-
" It is amusing to hear people refer to Shaw as
an immoral influence. He is the most moral thing
in existence, a Puritan. It is funny to hear Shaw
called modern. He is about the oldest thing in
history, a heretic. And this Puritanism or heresy,
if you so regard it, is the key to his life, the foundation
of his views, the explanation of his attitudes to nature,
to man, and to God.
" A Puritan is a man afraid of his passions, striving
to regard everything by the light of reason and only
by that light. He may have very fine reasoning
powers: Shaw has. He may see things very clearly:
Shaw does. The Puritan is a man who sees things
through one window only. But Life has many
44 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
*** Within this dim five-windowed house of sense
I watch through coloured glass
The shapes that pass.
Soon must I journey hence,
To meet the great winds of the outer world
When God has turned the key,
The true and terrible colours of that scheme
Which now I dream.'
" And besides these five windows of the senses^
and the clear glass window of reason, there is also
tradition^ a window which looks out upon the past,
and the window oi faith which faces the future.
" Now, since by use of all these windows it is
impossible to know God's mysteries, manifestly it
is yet more impossible so to do by looking through
one window only. But that is just what the Puritan
tries to do. He tries to put God into his brain.
But God (Who made the brain) is too big to go in.
" That is what Shaw tries to do. In his revolt
against ' the superstition and sentimentality of the
Victorian era ' (vide newspaper) he vvdll trust and
accept nothing of which his own clear intellect
does not assure him.
" So it is not very wonderful that with all his
great intellectual powers and strong sincerity of
purpose he should often fall short of the average
man in vnsdom.
" It is not wonderful that he should fall shorter
than the average man in understanding mankind-
That sympathy with human nature, that love of
men as they are, which Shakespeare possessed so
abundantly, Shaw does not possess at all. Whereas
Shakespeare enjoyed men, Shaw only enjoys improv-
ing them; and the irony of the situation is that the
poet without any apparent attempt does improve
them, when Shaw, deeply conscious of his duty
to do the same, as often as not only succeeds in
annoying them. It could hardly be otherwise !
In the intensely concentrated light of his intellect,
God has dwindled out of personality. He has be-
come ' the Life Force.' It is always dull work being
reformed. Men only suffer it for the sake of some-
one whom they love. How can one love a ' Life
Force '? When the history of this age comes to be
written I believe the most extraordinary phenome-
non will seem to be the fading out of men's belief
in God's personality.
" Not only Shaw, but most clever men of our
time, together with many who are not at all clever,
have chosen to put personality out of mind. It is
supposed (goodness knows why !) to be scientific.
The adoption in theory at any rate of Christian
morality, and the scrapping of Christian tradition,
is an illustration. How utterly absurd it is ! Why,
personality is simply everything. How can a man
be moved by anything else ? It is the essence of
attraction in God and man. The personality of
Christ drew all men to Him and enabled Him
to perform miracles. It is the personality of men
46 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
and- of women which makes us love them and willing
to do anything for them. It is the personality of God
which is behind evolution in the plan of the world.
" Men talk of evolution as if it were the motive
rather than the manner of life. But evolution is
no more than a great clock devised long ago in the
imagination of God and wound up by His hand.
" This inability to realize any more than the
brain shows is the chief characteristic of all Puri-
tanism. It is the same disease which prevents a
man from drinking wine with his fellows, loving
beauty, daring to trust his own senses. It is the
foundation of the Shavian philosophy. It accounts
for Shaw's contempt for the average man. It
accounts for Shaw's inability to appreciate marriage
as a sacrament. It accounts for Shaw's distrust of
democracy. It accounts for Shaw's dislike of
" Some Things which the Average Man knows and
which Shaw does not. ā It has been pointed out that
most of Shaw's failures are due to ignorance of things
which the average man knows quite well. Shaw
knows many things which the average man does
not; but there are a number of things, simple but
important, which the average man knows, but which
Shaw, in spite of his intellect ā perhaps because of
it ā does not.
" The man in the street knows perfectly well that
Wednesday is not necessarily a better day than
Tuesday, nor Saturday than Friday.' But Shaw
thinks that modern things are necessarily better
than the old things.
" When Shaw joined the Socialist party he was
considered a great asset, and so he was intellectually.
In those days the movement was revolutionary,
virile, full of a generous passion for humanity and
of faith in its destiny. Illogical as were its views,
vague as were its aims, Socialism yet possessed a
personality passionate and romantic. Consequently
it possessed a popular appeal. The world's attitude
towards it was, generally speaking, this : ' Socialism
does much credit to the hearts of those who hold
it as a creed, but very little credit to their heads.
It is ideal, but alas ! it is unpractical. The present
system is not ideal but it works.' Bernard Shaw
changed all this, and in characteristic fashion.
He did not fall to proclaiming the rights of man,
the hatefulness of tyranny. To people who re-
marked gravely that the present system was not ideal
but it worked, Shaw replied just as calmly, ' It
does not work,' and proceeded to prove it.
" He was more than their match. His cold reason-
ing cut through their armour like cold steel. His
sharp wit pierced their complacency like a sharp
dagger. His epigrams dazzled their eyes. They
fled to science, and found that Shaw knew more
about it than they did. They took refuge behind
economics, and Shaw was again their master.
48 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
" The Socialist party almost screamed with delight.
It saw Shaw as a Perseus descending from heaven
to rescue their fair Andromeda from that acquies-
cence in evil which was threatening to devour her.
And it is to Shaw's great honour that he did succeed
in killing the beast of complacency, or at least in
driving it to hiding. But ā alas for the Socialist
party ! ā the same dazzling stroke which accomplished
the deed also cut off the head of poor Andromeda.
The final result of his valour was to turn Socialism
from the living and passionate thing it was into a
cold problem of the intellect. He found it captive
but alive. He left it freed, but a corpse.
" The leaders of the Socialist party discovered
too late that corpses could not fascinate and were
not popular. To Bernard Shaw it is due that the
Socialist movement in England is what it is to-day.
I never think of it but my mind turns to a stanza
from ' The Ballad of Reading Gaol ':
" ' Each man kills the thing he loves ā
By all let this be heard;
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word;
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.'
" Certainly Shaw killed the thing he loved. Cer-
tainly he did so like a brave man with a sword
ā the sword of his hard, keen intellectualism. The
basilisk eyes of his brain, with power to change a
personal God into an impersonal force and to
deKumanize man Into superman, had turned
Socialism, from the breathing, passionate thing that
it was, into a puzzling piece of intellectual machiner)^.
Its personality is gone, and with that all its fascina-
tion and appeal. It is due to Shaw that everybody
now knows Socialism to be a perfectly practical
remedy. It is due to Shaw that nearly everybody
thinks it a bad remedy ā or rather, the beginning
of a new disease.
" Another thing which Shaw seems not to under-
stand so well as the average man is the singular
truth that two and two do not always make four.
Shaw believes it possible to produce supermen in
the same way as we produce prize dogs. For the
good of mankind he would introduce a human stud.
It is not immorality, but inefficiency, and in addition
a sense of humour, which would make the scheme
impracticable. The fathers and mothers of geniuses
have almost invariably been ordinary people. This
leads us on to Shaw's idea of marriage. Marriage
is, Shaw considers, a rather poor economic arrange-
ment for populating the world.
" The average man, both because he has not the
faintest doubt that the world would be populated
without marriage, and also because he is at heart,
in spite of special creeds, a Catholic, cannot look on
marriage in that way. He is compelled to regard
it as a sacrament. Shaw cannot possibly regard it
as a sacrament, since the sacramental idea (which
so COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
is founded on faith) is outside the intellectual
" Here, I think, the average man shows more
wisdom than Shaw. And I believe also that he is
nearer to wisdom in looking upon love as a romance
rather than a business. Shaw looks upon it as a
business ā a bad business.
" To the average man one woman at least is a
princess. To work for her is his romance. It has
been said that if Shaw were to rescue a princess it
would not be from motives of romance but on prin-
ciples of economy. My own belief is that Shaw
would never rescue a princess. He would not
rescue a princess because he would never see one.
What he would see would be a female citizen, and in
tenderly urging her to perform her duties to the
State he would certainly address her as comrade
and not as darling.
" This brings us naturally to the superman. Shaw
wants supermen because he has lost faith in democ-
racy, which, he holds, is not able ever to ' rise above
the level of its material.'
" To this I have two things to say: (i) By * level '
do you mean level of intellect ? If so, I must sub-
mit that intellect is not the whole nor the better
part of the material of democracy. (2) Whatever
you mean by level, I deny the proposition. Democ-
racy can and in many cases has risen above itself ā
e.g., the French Revolution, and the abolition of
slavery in the face of big vested interests. There
are times v^^hen a crowd is greater than any of its
component parts ; when its soul is, on a gust of high
feeling, whirled to ends far greater than anything
it could intellectually conceive.
" As to the superman, we have at last to decide
what sort of thing he is going to be, and I am not
certain that the being Shaw has in mind is a person
the rest of the world would at all care to live with.
Therefore the idea that they should proceed to manu-
facture him is unreasonable. But were he ever
so desirable, I believe it is impossible to produce
him in the prize-dog way. The only way to make
the world better is to make ourselves better. People
will be changed gradually by the influence of per-
sonality administered through religion, through life,
and through art.
" Shaw despises art, but no cold reasoning will
turn the world from its ways as art is able ; and Shaw
is glad enough to use it while he affects depreciation.
Man does not live by bread alone, but chiefly by
dreams. The first thing to do is to supply the world
with fine dreams. Of them will be fashioned destiny
" Pleasure in art should be a by-product, thinks
Shaw. But pleasure is of many kinds. There is
the pleasure of the pig eating its food. There is
also the pleasure of a man uplifted by a poem or a
piece of music. There is the beauty of the flesh.
There is the beauty of holiness.
52 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
" I believe that art without pleasure is not art.
Whether the laughing pleasure of Shakespeare's
comedies, the terrible pleasure of Shakespeare's
tragedies, the high romantic pleasures of poetry
and music, of Coleridge and Chopin, in all great art
is pleasure. The true aim of art should be to raise
the standard of pleasure. A man may not add a
cubit to his stature by taking thought. By the
influence of pleasure he is radically altered, and in
art gains such experiences as life has forgotten to
give him. The beneficent pains and pleasures of
tragedy and comedy are the growing pains and
pleasures of the soul. Therefore the wisdom of art
is steadfastly to perform its mission, and not to
usurp the function of the pulpit. I have never
heard a sermon to compare with the poetry of
Shakespeare or the music of Bach.
" To proceed, it is very characteristic of Shaw
that he should imagine that the problem of pros-
titution is capable of being solved by adjustment
of social relations, and the payment of a fair wage
to women. It is typical of his keen sight, his fearless-
ness, and his limited vision. Many people never
recognized the fact that women were being driven
on to the streets because they were grossly under-
paid. Shaw recognized it at once, and pointed it
out with his usual fearlessness. But the problem
will never be solved in the way he suggests. Pros-
titution would be stopped in the sense that a woman
would not need to take any money : that is all there
is to be said about it. Behind that evil is a far
deeper one ā harlotry. No adjustment of social
relations will alter that. No payment to women
of fair wages will reform it. It is in the soul, and will
be driven out only by that which touches the soul.
Indeed, Shaw himself must have realized the ineffi-
ciency of his remedy, since he refers somewhere,
I think, to ' the band of enthusiastic amateurs.'
" Thus once more having detected evil by means
of his keen sight, and exposed it with his fearless
tongue, he fails to find a remedy by reason of that
quality of mind to which I have already referred
many times in this lecture.
" A great bugbear to the average person is Shaw's
attitude towards patriotism. Bernard Shaw is a
Socialist. He thinks that patriotism depends on
private ownership of land. Therefore he considers
patriotism a bad thing. Against him are two
classes of people (i) those who agree that patriotism
does depend on the private ownership of land, but
are not Socialists; (2) those, whether Socialists or
not, who feel that patriotism does not depend on
ownership of land, but is rather a passion whose
root is in the soul. To this class I belong. I see
Shaw's point of view; I admire his fearlessness in
expressing it. And I think he is wrong. The fact
that he is transparently sincere does not affect my
opinion that he is wrong. The most sincere man
54 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
I ever knew lived in a lunatic asylum. He sincerely
believed himself to be a teapot. But he wasn't.
" I confess that I consider a teapot quite as useful
as a superman. It is not as a superman that I
admire Bernard Shaw. It is as a sincere, courageous
man. I admire his wit, his fearlessness in exposing
evil, his cleverness in stabbing our complacency.
Yet because of his outlook I cannot help believing
that his opinion on any deep matter must neces-
sarily be inconclusive or wrong.
" This is not an appreciative view of Shaw. I do
not intend it to be. It is an attitude. And it is
an attitude which enables one to read and admire
while not agreeing. Also it is an examination of
those beliefs and dogmas upon which such an
attitude is based ; I mean the beliefs and dogmas of
the average man.
" I have but one more thing to say. It is, as the
lawyers say, of a personal nature. The other
night, after killing some of the tedium of captivity
during an evening with Russian friends, I returned
to B house humming a song I had sung. Seeing
a light in W's window, I went in. We discussed
Shaw, and afterwards sang more songs. So it was
that when I went to bed and fell into a dream the
figure of Bernard Shaw came to visit me in this
manner. I was sitting again with my friends, and
D.S. had just ended a certain rollicking sea chorus
A - lo-ving 1 A - ro-ving ! since ro-ving's been my ru - i - in, I'll
ro - ving with you, fair maid !
when suddenly a knock sounded on the door, and
before anyone could say ' Come in,' entered the
tall figure of Bernard Shaw. Whereupon D.S.
addressed him : ' Hullo, old thing ! Have a drink
of bad mulled.' Bernard Shaw strode across the
room, and taking the wine D.S. offered, swallowed
it to the last drop, after which he began to sing in a
loud voice the chorus we had just finished. What
followed after that I do not remember. Perhaps we
spent a jolly evening and Shaw sang more songs;
perhaps he disappeared as suddenly as he came.
I only know that when I woke up in the morning
I said to myself, ' What a peculiar dream !' and
thinking that Bernard Shaw would never have drunk
that bad wine nor sung that nonsensical chorus,
it suddenly occurred to me : ' Why, 1 expect that is
the very reason he cannot understand Englishmen.'
To Shaw that ' bad mulled ' would have been a drug,
that rowdy chorus would have been mere vulgarity
concerned with a rather confused sex problem.
This bait of national rowdyism I fling out to be
swallowed by those who do not like to consider them-
56 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
selves Catholic. At the bottom of my own heart
I believe that Shaw's failure to understand certain
phases of English character, and to appreciate com-
mon men in general, is due solely to the thing which
accounts for all other of his failures ā the thing
which I have emphasized and perhaps over-em-
phasized all through this lecture of mine; I mean
W.'s lecture and this reply of mine both appeared
in The Warren^ one of our prison papers.
The Shavian controversy spread. The case
against Bernard Shaw, which I had already at W.'s
request given to his class of Russians, was patiently
translated by a Frenchman for La Ronde ā " Bill
Harry, apportez moi la plus grande bouteille," etc.
It was all very funny. But our object was attained.
" You Never Can Tell " was produced with very
conspicuous success, although the scenery had all
to be done again to fit a fresh stage, as we were
suddenlv moved to Crefeld.
The following fantastic snapshot of myself during
the Shavian controversy I take from the Giltersloh
monthly magazine on account of its humour, and to
remind myself of the fascinating personality of the
author, whom I shall probably never see again.
The " Jack-Daw " was a great supporter of Shaw.
" On hearing these notes the Jack-Daw flew to
ground and, sitting among some dead leaves in a
small hollow, burst into tears.
" He wept for the next day and the following
night, during which there was a very hard frost,
so much so that the pool of tears in the hollow
had frozen in the morning, and he was unable to
move from it, and in fact seemed on the point of
" A few hours later a little round human being came
wandering through the woods, singing and laughing
to himself as he went. Birds flew about his head,
rabbits frolicked at his heels, and on his passing the
trees pricked up their leaves and smiled. And it
happened that his path crossed the hollow in which
the Jack-Daw lay in the agonies of death.
" He bent down as if to help it in its misery, but
suddenly stopped and muttered words of great
displeasure: ' It's a damned Jack-Daw, and the
curse of the average rook, and the disturber of all
peace, and the enemy of Nature ' ā and something
else about a thing called anti-Catholicism which
we couldn't understand. And passing on, he threw
back his black head and began in a funereal tone
an original, curious, and obscene song.
" The birds flew away horrified, but the rabbits
came still closer, for they revelled in such things.
" And so the Jack-Daw died."
Now some of my readers may ask why I have
thought fit to give a whole chapter to Shaw in an
account of prison life in Germany. Others may
disagree with what I have said of him. Others may
58 COMRADES IN CAPTIVITY
argue that v^^hat I have said is not original. But
anyone can skip the chapter who cares to do so;
and as a matter of fact, Shaw does come into the
story. He shows what some thousand prisoners
of various nationalities were thinking, talking, and
quarrelling about for a month in 191 6. It is from a
psychological standpoint that the matter is interest-
ing, not from a literary. What happens inside
prisoners is, I believe, just as important as what
happens outside them.
If I thought this book had to be a list of dis-
agreeable details concerning the body, I would not
Those things are not worth remembering. Be-
sides, they have been done ā and overdone ā already.
GUTERSLOH: SPECIMEN DAY
After Jppel, or call-over, came a rush for the first
queue of the day outside the parcel office.
Prison life is largely made up of queues. At