H.G. Wells.

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Produced by Dianne Bean and David Widger


By H. G. Wells
















Section 1

The maid was a young woman of great natural calmness; she was accustomed
to let in visitors who had this air of being annoyed and finding one
umbrella too numerous for them. It mattered nothing to her that the
gentleman was asking for Dr. Martineau as if he was asking for something
with an unpleasant taste. Almost imperceptibly she relieved him of his
umbrella and juggled his hat and coat on to a massive mahogany stand.
"What name, Sir?" she asked, holding open the door of the consulting

"Hardy," said the gentleman, and then yielding it reluctantly with its
distasteful three-year-old honour, "Sir Richmond Hardy."

The door closed softly behind him and he found himself in undivided
possession of the large indifferent apartment in which the nervous and
mental troubles of the outer world eddied for a time on their way to
the distinguished specialist. A bowl of daffodils, a handsome bookcase
containing bound Victorian magazines and antiquated medical works, some
paintings of Scotch scenery, three big armchairs, a buhl clock, and
a bronze Dancing Faun, by their want of any collective idea enhanced
rather than mitigated the promiscuous disregard of the room. He drifted
to the midmost of the three windows and stared out despondently at
Harley Street.

For a minute or so he remained as still and limp as an empty jacket on
its peg, and then a gust of irritation stirred him.

"Damned fool I was to come here," he said... "DAMNED fool!

"Rush out of the place?...

"I've given my name."...

He heard the door behind him open and for a moment pretended not to
hear. Then he turned round. "I don't see what you can do for me," he

"I'm sure _I_ don't," said the doctor. "People come here and talk."

There was something reassuringly inaggressive about the figure that
confronted Sir Richmond. Dr. Martineau's height wanted at least three
inches of Sir Richmond's five feet eleven; he was humanly plump, his
face was round and pink and cheerfully wistful, a little suggestive of
the full moon, of what the full moon might be if it could get fresh air
and exercise. Either his tailor had made his trousers too short or he
had braced them too high so that he seemed to have grown out of them
quite recently. Sir Richmond had been dreading an encounter with some
dominating and mesmeric personality; this amiable presence dispelled his
preconceived resistances.

Dr. Martineau, a little out of breath as though he had been running
upstairs, with his hands in his trouser pockets, seemed intent only on
disavowals. "People come here and talk. It does them good, and sometimes
I am able to offer a suggestion.

"Talking to someone who understands a little," he expanded the idea.

"I'm jangling damnably...overwork....."

"Not overwork," Dr. Martineau corrected. "Not overwork. Overwork never
hurt anyone. Fatigue stops that. A man can work - good straightforward
work, without internal resistance, until he drops, - and never hurt
himself. You must be working against friction."

"Friction! I'm like a machine without oil. I'm grinding to death....
And it's so DAMNED important I SHOULDN'T break down. It's VITALLY

He stressed his words and reinforced them with a quivering gesture
of his upraised clenched hand. "My temper's in rags. I explode at any
little thing. I'm RAW. I can't work steadily for ten minutes and I can't
leave off working."

"Your name," said the doctor, "is familiar. Sir Richmond Hardy? In the
papers. What is it?"


"Of course! The Fuel Commission. Stupid of me! We certainly can't afford
to have you ill."

"I AM ill. But you can't afford to have me absent from that Commission."

"Your technical knowledge - "

"Technical knowledge be damned! Those men mean to corner the national
fuel supply. And waste it! For their profits. That's what I'm up
against. You don't know the job I have to do. You don't know what a
Commission of that sort is. The moral tangle of it. You don't know how
its possibilities and limitations are canvassed and schemed about, long
before a single member is appointed. Old Cassidy worked the whole thing
with the prime minister. I can see that now as plain as daylight. I
might have seen it at first.... Three experts who'd been got at; they
thought _I_'d been got at; two Labour men who'd do anything you wanted
them to do provided you called them 'level-headed.' Wagstaffe the
socialist art critic who could be trusted to play the fool and make
nationalization look silly, and the rest mine owners, railway managers,
oil profiteers, financial adventurers...."

He was fairly launched. "It's the blind folly of it! In the days before
the war it was different. Then there was abundance. A little grabbing
or cornering was all to the good. All to the good. It prevented things
being used up too fast. And the world was running by habit; the inertia
was tremendous. You could take all sorts of liberties. But all this
is altered. We're living in a different world. The public won't stand
things it used to stand. It's a new public. It's - wild. It'll smash up
the show if they go too far. Everything short and running shorter - food,
fuel, material. But these people go on. They go on as though nothing had
changed.... Strikes, Russia, nothing will warn them. There are men on
that Commission who would steal the brakes off a mountain railway just
before they went down in it.... It's a struggle with suicidal imbeciles.
It's - ! But I'm talking! I didn't come here to talk Fuel."

"You think there may be a smash-up?"

"I lie awake at night, thinking of it."

"A social smash-up."

"Economic. Social. Yes. Don't you?"

"A social smash-up seems to me altogether a possibility. All sorts of
people I find think that," said the doctor. "All sorts of people lie
awake thinking of it."

"I wish some of my damned Committee would!"

The doctor turned his eyes to the window. "I lie awake too," he said and
seemed to reflect. But he was observing his patient acutely - with his

"But you see how important it is," said Sir Richmond, and left his
sentence unfinished.

"I'll do what I can for you," said the doctor, and considered swiftly
what line of talk he had best follow.

Section 2

"This sense of a coming smash is epidemic," said the doctor. "It's at
the back of all sorts of mental trouble. It is a new state of mind.
Before the war it was abnormal - a phase of neurasthenia. Now it is
almost the normal state with whole classes of intelligent people.
Intelligent, I say. The others always have been casual and adventurous
and always will be. A loss of confidence in the general background of
life. So that we seem to float over abysses."

"We do," said Sir Richmond.

"And we have nothing but the old habits and ideas acquired in the days
of our assurance. There is a discord, a jarring."

The doctor pursued his train of thought. "A new, raw and dreadful sense
of responsibility for the universe. Accompanied by a realization that
the job is overwhelmingly too big for us."

"We've got to stand up to the job," said Sir Richmond. "Anyhow, what
else is there to do? We MAY keep things together.... I've got to do my
bit. And if only I could hold myself at it, I could beat those fellows.
But that's where the devil of it comes in. Never have I been so desirous
to work well in my life. And never have I been so slack and weak-willed
and inaccurate.... Sloppy.... Indolent.... VICIOUS!..."

The doctor was about to speak, but Sir Richmond interrupted him. "What's
got hold of me? What's got hold of me? I used to work well enough. It's
as if my will had come untwisted and was ravelling out into separate
strands. I've lost my unity. I'm not a man but a mob. I've got to
recover my vigour. At any cost."

Again as the doctor was about to speak the word was taken out of his
mouth. "And what I think of it, Dr. Martineau, is this: it's fatigue.
It's mental and moral fatigue. Too much effort. On too high a level. And
too austere. One strains and fags. FLAGS! 'Flags' I meant to say. One
strains and flags and then the lower stuff in one, the subconscious
stuff, takes control."

There was a flavour of popularized psychoanalysis about this, and the
doctor drew in the corners of his mouth and gave his head a critical
slant. "M'm." But this only made Sir Richmond raise his voice and
quicken his speech. "I want," he said, "a good tonic. A pick-me-up,
a stimulating harmless drug of some sort. That's indicated anyhow. To
begin with. Something to pull me together, as people say. Bring me up to
the scratch again."

"I don't like the use of drugs," said the doctor.

The expectation of Sir Richmond's expression changed to disappointment.
"But that's not reasonable," he cried. "That's not reasonable. That's
superstition. Call a thing a drug and condemn it! Everything is a drug.
Everything that affects you. Food stimulates or tranquillizes. Drink.
Noise is a stimulant and quiet an opiate. What is life but response to
stimulants? Or reaction after them? When I'm exhausted I want food. When
I'm overactive and sleepless I want tranquillizing. When I'm dispersed I
want pulling together."

"But we don't know how to use drugs," the doctor objected.

"But you ought to know."

Dr. Martineau fixed his eye on a first floor window sill on the opposite
side of Harley Street. His manner suggested a lecturer holding on to his

"A day will come when we shall be able to manipulate drugs - all sorts
of drugs - and work them in to our general way of living. I have no
prejudice against them at all. A time will come when we shall correct
our moods, get down to our reserves of energy by their help, suspend
fatigue, put off sleep during long spells of exertion. At some sudden
crisis for example. When we shall know enough to know just how far to
go with this, that or the other stuff. And how to wash out its after
effects.... I quite agree with you, - in principle.... But that time
hasn't come yet.... Decades of research yet.... If we tried that sort
of thing now, we should be like children playing with poisons and
explosives.... It's out of the question."

"I've been taking a few little things already. Easton Syrup for

"Strychnine. It carries you for a time and drops you by the way. Has it
done you any good - any NETT good? It has - I can see - broken your sleep."

The doctor turned round again to his patient and looked up into his
troubled face.

"Given physiological trouble I don't mind resorting to a drug. Given
structural injury I don't mind surgery. But except for any little
mischief your amateur drugging may have done you do not seem to me to
be either sick or injured. You've no trouble either of structure or
material. You are - worried - ill in your mind, and otherwise perfectly
sound. It's the current of your thoughts, fermenting. If the trouble is
in the mental sphere, why go out of the mental sphere for a treatment?
Talk and thought; these are your remedies. Cool deliberate thought.
You're unravelled. You say it yourself. Drugs will only make this or
that unravelled strand behave disproportionately. You don't want that.
You want to take stock of yourself as a whole - find out where you stand.

"But the Fuel Commission?"

"Is it sitting now?"

"Adjourned till after Whitsuntide. But there's heaps of work to be done.

"Still," he added, "this is my one chance of any treatment."

The doctor made a little calculation. "Three weeks.... It's scarcely
time enough to begin."

"You're certain that no regimen of carefully planned and chosen
tonics - "

"Dismiss the idea. Dismiss it." He decided to take a plunge. "I've just
been thinking of a little holiday for myself. But I'd like to see you
through this. And if I am to see you through, there ought to be some
sort of beginning now. In this three weeks. Suppose...."

Sir Richmond leapt to his thought. "I'm free to go anywhere."

"Golf would drive a man of your composition mad?"

"It would."

"That's that. Still - . The country must be getting beautiful again
now, - after all the rain we have had. I have a little two-seater. I
don't know.... The repair people promise to release it before Friday."

"But _I_ have a choice of two very comfortable little cars. Why not be
my guest?"

"That might be more convenient."

"I'd prefer my own car."

"Then what do you say?"

"I agree. Peripatetic treatment."

"South and west. We could talk on the road. In the evenings. By the
wayside. We might make the beginnings of a treatment. ... A simple tour.
Nothing elaborate. You wouldn't bring a man?"

"I always drive myself."

Section 3

"There's something very pleasant," said the doctor, envisaging his own
rash proposal, "in travelling along roads you don't know and seeing
houses and parks and villages and towns for which you do not feel in
the slightest degree responsible. They hide all their troubles from the
road. Their backyards are tucked away out of sight, they show a brave
face; there's none of the nasty self-betrayals of the railway approach.
And everything will be fresh still. There will still be a lot of
apple-blossom - and bluebells.... And all the while we can be getting on
with your affair."

He was back at the window now. "I want the holiday myself," he said.

He addressed Sir Richmond over his shoulder. "Have you noted how fagged
and unstable EVERYBODY is getting? Everybody intelligent, I mean."

"It's an infernally worrying time."

"Exactly. Everybody suffers."

"It's no GOOD going on in the old ways - "

"It isn't. And it's a frightful strain to get into any new ways. So here
we are.

"A man," the doctor expanded, "isn't a creature in vacuo. He's himself
and his world. He's a surface of contact, a system of adaptations,
between his essential self and his surroundings. Well, our surroundings
have become - how shall I put it? - a landslide. The war which seemed
such a definable catastrophe in 1914 was, after all, only the first loud
crack and smash of the collapse. The war is over and - nothing is over.
This peace is a farce, reconstruction an exploded phrase. The slide goes
on, - it goes, if anything, faster, without a sign of stopping. And all
our poor little adaptations! Which we have been elaborating and trusting
all our lives!... One after another they fail us. We are stripped....
We have to begin all over again.... I'm fifty-seven and I feel at times
nowadays like a chicken new hatched in a thunderstorm."

The doctor walked towards the bookcase and turned.

"Everybody is like that...it isn't - what are you going to do? It
isn't - what am I going to do? It's - what are we all going to do!... Lord!
How safe and established everything was in 1910, say. We talked of this
great war that was coming, but nobody thought it would come. We had been
born in peace, comparatively speaking; we had been brought up in peace.
There was talk of wars. There were wars - little wars - that altered
nothing material.... Consols used to be at 112 and you fed your
household on ten shillings a head a week. You could run over all Europe,
barring Turkey and Russia, without even a passport. You could get to
Italy in a day. Never were life and comfort so safe - for respectable
people. And we WERE respectable people.... That was the world that made
us what we are. That was the sheltering and friendly greenhouse in
which we grew. We fitted our minds to that.... And here we are with the
greenhouse falling in upon us lump by lump, smash and clatter, the wild
winds of heaven tearing in through the gaps."

Upstairs on Dr. Martineau's desk lay the typescript of the opening
chapters of a book that was intended to make a great splash in the
world, his PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW AGE. He had his metaphors ready.

"We said: 'This system will always go on. We needn't bother about it.'
We just planned our lives accordingly. It was like a bird building
its nest of frozen snakes. My father left me a decent independence. I
developed my position; I have lived between here and the hospital, doing
good work, enormously interested, prosperous, mildly distinguished. I
had been born and brought up on the good ship Civilization. I assumed
that someone else was steering the ship all right. I never knew; I never

"Nor did I," said Sir Richmond, "but - "

"And nobody was steering the ship," the doctor went on. "Nobody had ever
steered the ship. It was adrift."

"I realized that. I - "

"It is a new realization. Always hitherto men have lived by faith - as
children do, as the animals do. At the back of the healthy mind, human
or animal, has been this persuasion: 'This is all right. This will go
on. If I keep the rule, if I do so and so, all will be well. I need not
trouble further; things are cared for.'"

"If we could go on like that!" said Sir Richmond.

"We can't. That faith is dead. The war - and the peace - have killed it."

The doctor's round face became speculative. His resemblance to the full
moon increased. He seemed to gaze at remote things. "It may very well
be that man is no more capable of living out of that atmosphere of
assurance than a tadpole is of living out of water. His mental
existence may be conditional on that. Deprived of it he may become
incapable of sustained social life. He may become frantically
self-seeking - incoherent... a stampede.... Human sanity may - DISPERSE.

"That's our trouble," the doctor completed. "Our fundamental trouble.
All our confidences and our accustomed adaptations are destroyed. We fit
together no longer. We are - loose. We don't know where we are nor what
to do. The psychology of the former time fails to give safe responses,
and the psychology of the New Age has still to develop."

Section 4

"That is all very well," said Sir Richmond in the resolute voice of one
who will be pent no longer. "That is all very well as far as it goes.
But it does not cover my case. I am not suffering from inadaptation. I
HAVE adapted. I have thought things out. I think - much as you do. Much
as you do. So it's not that. But - ... Mind you, I am perfectly clear
where I am. Where we are. What is happening to us all is the breakup
of the entire system. Agreed! We have to make another system or perish
amidst the wreckage. I see that clearly. Science and plan have to
replace custom and tradition in human affairs. Soon. Very soon. Granted.
Granted. We used to say all that. Even before the war. Now we mean it.
We've muddled about in the old ways overlong. Some new sort of world,
planned and scientific, has to be got going. Civilization renewed.
Rebuilding civilization - while the premises are still occupied and busy.
It's an immense enterprise, but it is the only thing to be done. In some
ways it's an enormously attractive enterprise. Inspiring. It grips my
imagination. I think of the other men who must be at work. Working as I
do rather in the dark as yet. With whom I shall presently join up... The
attempt may fail; all things human may fail; but on the other hand
it may succeed. I never had such faith in anything as I have in the
rightness of the work I am doing now. I begin at that. But here is where
my difficulty comes in. The top of my brain, my innermost self says all
that I have been saying, but - The rest of me won't follow. The rest of
me refuses to attend, forgets, straggles, misbehaves."


The word irritated Sir Richmond. "Not 'exactly' at all. 'Amazingly,'
if you like.... I have this unlimited faith in our present tremendous
necessity - for work - for devotion; I believe my share, the work I am
doing, is essential to the whole thing - and I work sluggishly. I work
reluctantly. I work damnably."

"Exact - " The doctor checked himself. "All that is explicable. Indeed it
is. Listen for a moment to me! Consider what you are. Consider what
we are. Consider what a man is before you marvel at his ineptitudes
of will. Face the accepted facts. Here is a creature not ten thousand
generations from the ape, his ancestor. Not ten thousand. And that ape
again, not a score of thousands from the monkey, his forebear. A man's
body, his bodily powers, are just the body and powers of an ape, a
little improved, a little adapted to novel needs. That brings me to my
point. CAN HIS MIND AND WILL BE ANYTHING BETTER? For a few generations,
a few hundreds at most, knowledge and wide thought have flared out on
the darknesses of life.... But the substance of man is ape still. He may
carry a light in his brain, but his instincts move in the darkness. Out
of that darkness he draws his motives."

"Or fails to draw them," said Sir Richmond.

"Or fails.... And that is where these new methods of treatment come in.
We explore that failure. Together. What the psychoanalyst does-and I
will confess that I owe much to the psychoanalyst - what he does is to
direct thwarted, disappointed and perplexed people to the realities of
their own nature. Which they have been accustomed to ignore and
forget. They come to us with high ambitions or lovely illusions about
themselves, torn, shredded, spoilt. They are morally denuded. Dreams
they hate pursue them; abhorrent desires draw them; they are the prey of
irresistible yet uncongenial impulses; they succumb to black despairs.
The first thing we ask them is this: 'What else could you expect?'"

"What else could I expect?" Sir Richmond repeated, looking down on him.

"The wonder is not that you are sluggish, reluctantly unselfish,
inattentive, spasmodic. The wonder is that you are ever anything
else.... Do you realize that a few million generations ago, everything
that stirs in us, everything that exalts human life, self-devotions,
heroisms, the utmost triumphs of art, the love - for love it is - that
makes you and me care indeed for the fate and welfare of all this round
world, was latent in the body of some little lurking beast that crawled
and hid among the branches of vanished and forgotten Mesozoic trees?
A petty egg-laying, bristle-covered beast it was, with no more of the
rudiments of a soul than bare hunger, weak lust and fear.... People
always seem to regard that as a curious fact of no practical importance.
It isn't: it's a vital fact of the utmost practical importance. That
is what you are made of. Why should you expect - because a war and a
revolution have shocked you - that you should suddenly be able to reach
up and touch the sky?"

"H'm!" said Sir Richmond. "Have I been touching the sky!"

"You are trying to play the part of an honest rich man."

"I don't care to see the whole system go smash."

"Exactly," said the doctor, before he could prevent himself.

"But is it any good to tell a man that the job he is attempting is above
him - that he is just a hairy reptile twice removed - and all that sort of

"Well, it saves him from hoping too much and being too greatly
disappointed. It recalls him to the proportions of the job. He gets
something done by not attempting everything. ... And it clears him up.
We get him to look into himself, to see directly and in measurable
terms what it is that puts him wrong and holds him back. He's no longer
vaguely incapacitated. He knows."

"That's diagnosis. That's not treatment."

"Treatment by diagnosis. To analyze a mental knot is to untie it."

"You propose that I shall spend my time, until the Commission meets, in
thinking about myself. I wanted to forget myself."

"Like a man who tries to forget that his petrol is running short and
a cylinder missing fire.... No. Come back to the question of what you
are," said the doctor. "A creature of the darkness with new lights. Lit
and half-blinded by science and the possibilities of controlling the
world that it opens out. In that light your will is all for service;
you care more for mankind than for yourself. You begin to understand
something of the self beyond your self. But it is a partial and a shaded
light as yet; a little area about you it makes clear, the rest is
still the old darkness - of millions of intense and narrow animal
generations.... You are like someone who awakens out of an immemorial
sleep to find himself in a vast chamber, in a great and ancient house, a
great and ancient house high amidst frozen and lifeless mountains - in a

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