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matter of technique. Our failure is not due to our failure to
know what evil really is, but due to our wasteful way of tun-
nelling through it.

Our religious inventors have failed to use the most scientific
method. We have gone at the matter of butting through evil
without thinking enough. Less butting and more thinking



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AND THE MACHINE STARTS 203

is our religion now. We will net try any longer to butt a whole
planet when we try to keep one man from doing wrong.

We will butt our way through to the man who sees where to
butt and how to butt. Then all together!

Veiy few of the wrongs that are done to society by individuak
would be done if civilization were supplied with the slightest
adequate machinery or conveniences for bringing home to
people vividly who the people are they are wronging, how they
are wronging them, and how the people feel about it. This
machinery for moral and social insight, this intelligence-
engine or apparatus of sympathy for a planet to-day, before
our eyes is being invented and set up.



Sometimes I almost think that history as a study or partic-
ularly as a habit of mind ought to be partitioned off and not
allowed to people in general to-day. Only men of genius have
imagination enough for handling history so that it is not a
nuisance, a provincialism and an impertinence in the serene
presence to-day of what is happening before our eyes. History
makes common people stop thinking or makes them think
wrong, about nine tenths of the area of human nature, partic-
ularly about the next important things that are going to happen
to it.

Our modem life is not an historian's problem. It is an
inventor's problem. The historian can stand by and can be
consulted. But things that seem to an historian quite reason-
ably impossible in hiunan nature are true and we must all of
us act every day as if they were true. We but change the tem-
perature of human nature and in one moment new levels and
possibilities open up on every side.

Things that are true about water stop being true the moment
it is heated 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It begins suddenly to act
like a cloud and when it is cooled off enough a cloud acts like
a stone. Railroad trains are run for hundreds of miles everjy



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203a CROWDS

year in Siberia across clouds that are cold enough. We raise
the temperature of hiunan nature and the motives with which
men cannot act to-day suddenly around a world are the motives
with which they cannot help acting to-morrow.

The theory of raised temperatures alone, in human nature,
will make possible to us ranges of goodness, of social pas-
sion and vision, that only a few men have been capable of
before.

All the new inventions have new sins, even new manners that
go with them, new virtues and new faculties. The telephone,
the motor-car, the wireless telegraph, the airship and the motor-
boat all make men act with diflFerent insights, longer distances,
and higher speeds.

Men who, like our modem men, have a going consciousness,
see things deeper by going faster.

They see how more clearly by going faster.

They see farther by going faster.

If ^a man is driving a motor-car three miles an hour all he
needs to attend to with his imagination is a few feet of the
road ahead.

If he is driving his car thirty miles an hour and trying to get
on by anticipating his road a few feet ahead, he dies.

The faster a man goes — if he has the brains for it — the
more people and the more things in the way, his mind covers
in a minute — the more magnificently he sees how.

On a railway train any ordinary man any day in the year
(if he goes fast enough) can see through a board fence. It
may be made of vertical slats five inches across and half an
inch apart. He sees through the sUts between the slats the
whole coimtry for miles. If he goes fast enough a man can
see through a solid freight train.

All our modem industrial social problems are problems of
gearing people up. Ordinary men are Uving on trains now —
on moral trains.

Their social consciousnes is being geared up. They are see-



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AND THE MACHINE STARTS 2036

ing more other people and more other things and more things
beyond the Fence.

The increased vibration in human nature and in the human
brain and heart that go with the motor-car habit, the increased
speed of the human motor, the gearing up of the central power
house in society everywhere is going to make men capable of
unheard-of social technique. The social consciousness is
becoming the common man's daily habit. Laws of social tech-
nique and laws of human nature which were theories once are
habits now.

There is a certain sense in which it may be said that the
modern man enjoys daily his moral imagination. He is angered
and delighted with his social consciousness. He boils with rage
or sings when he hears of all the new machines of good and
machines of evil that people are setting up in our modern
world.

There is a sense in which he glories in the Golden Rule. The
moral-machinist's joy is in him. He is not content to watch it
go round and round like some smooth-running Corliss engine
which is not connected up yet — that nobody really uses except
as a kind of model under glass or a miniature for theological
schools. He cannot bear the Golden Rule under glass. He
wants to see it going round and roimd, look up at it, immense,
silent, masterful, running a world. He delights in the Golden
Rule as a part of his love of nature. It is as the falling of apples
to him. He delights in it as he delights in frost and fire and
in the glorious, modest, implacable, hushed way they work !

We are in an age in which a Golden Rule can sing. The men
around us are in a new temper. They have the passion,
almost, the religion of precision that goes with machines.

While I have been sitting at my desk and writing these last
words, the two half-past-eight trains, at full speed, have met
in the meadow.

There is something a little impersonal, almost abstracted,
about the way the trains meet out here on their lonely sidewalk



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203c CROWDS

through the meadow, twenty inches apart — morning after
morning. It always seems as if this time — this one next time
— they would not do it right. One argues it "all out uncon-
sciously that of course there is a kind of understanding between
them as they come bearing down on each other and it's all been
arranged beforehand when they left their stations; and yet
somehow as I watch them flying up out of the distance, those
two still, swift thoughts, or shots of cities — dark, monstrous
(it's as if Springfield and Northampton had caught some people
up and were firing them at each other) — I am always wonder-
ing if this particular time there will not be a report, after all,
a clang on the landscape, on all the hills, and a long story in the
Republican the next morning.

Then they softly crash together and pass on — two or three
quiet whiflFs at each other — as if nothing had happened.

I always feel afterward as if something splendid, some great
human act of faith, had been done in my presence. Those two
looming, mighty engines, bearing down on each other, making
an aim so, at twenty inches from death, and nothing to depend
on but those two gleaming dainty strips or ribbons of iron
— a few eighths of an inch on the edge of a wheel — I never can
get used to it: the two great glowing creatures, full of thunder
and trust, leaping up the telegraph poles through the still valley,
each of them with its little streak of souls behind it; immortal
souls, children, fathers, mothers, smiling, chattering along
through Infinity — it all keeps on being boundless to me, and
full of a glad boyish terror and faith. And under and through it
all there is a kind of stem singing.

I know well enough, of course, that it is a platitude, this
meeting of two trains in a meadow, but it never acts like one.
I sometimes stand and watch the engineer afterward. I wonder
if he knows he enjoys it. Perhaps he would have to stop to
know how happy he was, and not meet trains for a while. Then
he would miss something, I think; he would miss his deep
joyous daily acts of faith, his daily habits of believing in things



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— in steam, and in air, and in himself^ and in the switchman,
and in God.

I see him in his cab window, he swings out his blue sleeve at
me! I Uke the way he stakes everything on what he beKeves.
Nothing between him and death but a few telegraph ticks —
the flange of a wheel. . . . Suddenly the swing of his train
comes up like the swing and the rhythm of a great creed. It
sounds like a chant down between the mountains. I come
into the house Ufted with it. I have heard a man believing,
beUeving mile after mile down the valley. I have heard a man
beUeving in a Pennsylvania rolling mill, in a white vapour, in
compressed air and a whistle, the way Calvin believed in Grod.



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BOOK THREE
LETTING THE CROWD BE BEAUTIFUL

TO WILBUR WRIGHT AND WILLIAM MARCONI

Great Spirit — Thou who in my being's burning mesh

Hath vrrought the shining of the mist through and through the

fleshy
WhOy through the dovble-wondered glory of the dust
Hast thrust

Habits of skies upon me, souls of days and nights,
Where are the deeds that needs must be.
The dreams, the high delights.
That I once more may hear my voice
From cloudy door to door rejoice —
May stretch the boundaries of Jove
Beyond the mumbling , mock horizons of my fears
To the faint-remembered glory of those years —
May lift my soul
And reach this Heaven of thine
With mine?"'

^^Corne up herey dear litUe Child
To fly in the clouds and winds with me, and play unth the
measureless light!



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PART ONE

WISTFUL MILLIONAIRES

CHAPTER I

MR. CARNEGIE SPEAES UP

AS I was wandering through space the other day — ^just
aeroplaning past on my way over from Mars — I came sud-
denly upon a neat, snug little property, with a huge sign
stuck in the middle of it:

The Eabth: This Dbsibablb Pbopebtt to Lbt.
Eockefeller, Camegiey Morgan & Co.

I was just about to pass it by, inferring naturally that it must
be a mere bank, or wholesale house, or something, when it
occurred to me it might do no harm to stop over on it, and
see. I thought I might at least drop in and inquire what
kind of a firm it was that was handling it, and what was their
idea, and what, if anything, they thought their little planet
was for, and what they proposed to do with it.

I found, on meeting Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Carnegie
and Mr. Morgan, to my astonishment, that they did not
propose to do anything with it at all. They had merely
got it; that was as far as they had thought the thing out ap-
parently — to get it. They seemed to be depending, so
far as I could judge, in a vague, pained way, on somebody's
happening along who would think perhaps of something that
could be done with it.

Of course, as Mr. Carnegie (who was the talking mem-

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206 CROWDS

ber of the firm) pointed out, if they only owned a part of it,
and could sell one part of it to the other part there would
still be something left that they could do, at least it would
be their line; but merely owning all of it, so, as they did,
was embarrassing. He had tried, Mr. Carnegie told me,
to think of a few things himself, but was discouraged; and
he intimated he was devoting his life just now to pulling him-
self together at the end, and dying a poor man. But that
was not much, he admitted, and it was really not a very great
service on his part to a world, he thought — his merely dying
poor in it.

When I asked him if there was anything else he had been
able to think of to do for the world

"No," he said, "nothing really; nothing except chucking
down libraries on it — safes for old books."

"And Mr. Morgan?" I said.

"Oh! He is chucking down old china on it, old pictures,
and things."

"AndMr.RockefeUer?"

"Mussing with colleges, some," he said, "just now. But
he doesn't, as a matter of fact, see anything — not of his
own — that can really be done with them, except to make them
more systematized and businesslike, make them over into
sort of Standard Oil Spiritual Refineries, fill them with mil-
lions more of little Rockefellers — and they won't let him
do that. "Of course, as you might see, what they want to
do practically is to take the Rockefeller money and leave
the Rockefeller out. Nobody will really let him do anything.
Everything goes this way when we seriously try to do things.
The fact is, it is a pretty small, helpless business, owning a
world," sighed Mr. Carnegie.

"This is why we are selling out, if anybody happens along.
Anybody, that is, who really sees what this piece of property
is for and how to develop it, can have it," said Mr. Carnegie,
'and have it cheap. "



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MR. CARNEGIE SPEAKS UP 207

Mr. Carnegie spoke these last words very slowly and wear-
ily, and with his most wistful look; and then, recalling
himself suddenly, and handing me a glass to look at New
York with and see what I thought of it, he asked to be ex-
cused for a moment, and saying, "I have fourteen libraries
to give away before a quarter past twelve/' he hurried out
of the room.



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CHAPTER II
MR. CARNEGIE TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE READ

I FOUND, as I was studying the general view of New York
as seen from the top through Mr. Carnegie's glass, that there
appeared to be a great many dots — long rows of dots for
the most part — possibly very high buildings, but there was
one building, wide and white and low, and more spread-out
and important-looking than any of the others, which especi-
ally attracted my attention. It looked as if it might be a
kind of monument or mausoleum to somebody. On looking
again I found that it was filled with books, and was the Car-
negie Public Library. There were forty more Libraries for
New York Mr. Carnegie was having put up, I was told, and he
had dotted them — thousands of them — almost everywhere
one could look, apparently, on his own particular part of
the planet.

A few days later, when I began to do things at a closer
range, I took a little trip to New York, and visited the Library;
and I asked the man who seemed to have it in charge, who
there was who was writing books for Mr. Carnegie's Libraries
just now, or if there was any really adequate arrangement
Mr. Carnegie had made for having a few great books writ-
ten for all these fine buildings — all these really noble book-
racks, he had had put up. The man seemed rather taken
aback, and hesitated. Finally, I asked him point blank
to give me the name of the supposed greatest living author
who had written anything for all these miles of Carnegie
Libraries, and he mentioned doubtfully a certain Mr. Rud-
yard Kipling. I at once asked for his books, of course, and sat

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MR. CARNEGIE TRIES TO MAKE US READ 209

down without delay to find out if he was the greatest living
author the planet had, what it was he had to say for it and
about it, and more particularly, of course, what he had to
to say it was for.

I found among his books some beautiful and quite refined
interpretations of tigers and serpents, a really noble inter-
pretation or conception of what the beasts were for — al) the
glorious gentlemanly beasts — and of what machines were
for — all the young, fresh, mighty, worshipful engines —
and what soldiers were for. But when I looked at what
he thought men were for, at what the planet was for,
there was practically almost nothing. The nearest I came
to it was a remark, apparently in a magazine interview
which I cannot quote correctly now, but which amounted
to something like this: "We will never have a great world
until we have some one great artist or poet in it, who
sees it as a whole, focuses it, composes it, makes a
picture of it, and gives the men who are in it a vision to
live for.*'



Since then I have been trying to see what Messrs. Rocke-
feller, Carnegie, and Morgan could do to produce and arrange
what seemed to me the one most important, imperative,
and immediate convenience their planet could have, namely,
as Mr. Kipling intimated, some man on it, some great creative
genius, who would gather it all up in his imagination — the
beasts, and the people, and the sciences, and the machines —
in short, the planet as a whole, and say what it was for. It
is from this point of view that I have been drawn into writing
the following pages on the next important improvements —
what one might call the spiritual Unreal-Estate Improve-
ments, for Messrs. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan's
property which will have to be installed. I have been going
over the property more or less carefully in '^my own way



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210 CROWDS

since, studying it and noting what had been done by the
owners, and what possibly might be done toward arranging
authors, inventors, seers, artists, or engineers or other
efficient persons who would be able to inquire, to think
out for a world, to express for it, some faint idea of what
it was for.



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CHAPTER m
MR. NOBEL TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE WRITE

NOT unnaturally, of course, I turned to see what had al-
ready been done by the more powerful men the planet had
produced, in the way of arranging for the necessary seers
and geniuses to run the world with, and I soon found that by
far the most intelligent and far-seeing attempt that had been
made yet in this direction had been made by an inspired, or
semi-inspired, milUonaire in Sweden, named Alfred Nobel,
an idealist, who had made a large but unhappy fortune out
of an explosive to stop war with. His general idea had been
that dynamite would make war so terrible that it would shock
people into not fighting any more, and that gradually people,
not having to spend their time in thinking of ways of killing
one another, would have more time than they had ever had
before to think of other and more important things. It was
the disappointment of his hfe that his invention, instead of
being used creatively, used to free men from fighting and
make men think of things, had been used largely as an ar-
rangement for making people so afraid of war that they could
not think of anything else. Whichever way he turned he
saw the world in a kind of panic, all the old and gentle-
minded nations with their fair fields, their factories and art gal-
leries, all hard at work piUng up explosives around themselves
until they could hardly see over them. As this was the pre-
cise contrary of what he had intended, and he had not man-
aged to do what he had meant to do with making his money,
he thought he would try to see if he could not yet do what
he had meant to do in spending it. He sat down to write

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212 . CROWDS

his Will, and in this Will, writing as an inventor and a man
of genius, he tried to express, in the terms of money, his five
great desires for the world. He wished to spend forty thousand
dollars a year, every year forever, after he was dead, on each
of these five great desires. There were five great Inventors that
he wanted, and he wanted the whole world searched through
for them, for each of them, once more every year, to see if
they could be found. Mr. Nobel expressed his desire for these
five Inventors as people often manage to express things in
wills, in such a way that not everybody had been sure what
he meant. There seems to have been comparatively little
trouble, from year to year, in awarding the prizes to some ad-
equate inventor in the domain of Peace, of Physics, of Chem-
istry, and of Medicine; but the Nobel Prize Trustees, in try-
ing to pick out an award each year to some man who could
be regarded as a true inventor in Literature, have met with
considerable diflSculty in deciding just what sort of a man
Alfred Nobel had in mind, and had set aside his forty thou-
sand dollars for when he directed that it should go — to
quote from the Will — "To the person who shall have pro-
duced in the field of Literature the most distinguished work
of an idealistic tendency."

Allen Upward, for instance, an Englishman unknown in
Stockholm, invented and published a book four years ago, called
the "New Word,** which was so idealistic and distinguished
a book, and so full of new ideas and of new combinations
of old ideas, that there was scarcely a pubKsher in England
who did not instinctively recognize it, who did not see that
it would not pay at once, and that therefore it was too strange
and original and too important a book for him to publish,
and after a long delay the book was finally printed in Geneva.

A copy was sent to the Nobel Prize Trustees.

One would have thought, looking at it theoretically, that
here was precisely the sort of situation that Alfred Nobel,
who had been the struggling inventor of a great invention



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MR. NOBEL TRIES TO MAKE US WRITE 213

that would not pay at once himself, would have been look-
ing for. A book so inventive, so far ahead, that publishers
praised it and woidd not invest in it, one would have
imagined to be the one book of all others for which Alfred
Nobel stood ready and waiting to put down his forty thousand
dollars.

But Mr. Nobel's forty thousand dollars did not go to a
comparatively obscure and uncapitaUzed inventor who had
written a book to build a world with, or at least a great pre-
liminary design, or sketch, toward a world. The Nobel Prize
Trustees, instead of giving the forty thousand dollars to Allen
Upward, looked carefully about through all the nations until
their eyes fell on a certain Mr. Rudyard Kipling. And when
they saw Mr. Rudyard Kipling, piled high with fame and five
dollars a word, they came over quietly to wh«re he was and
put softly down on him forty thousand dollars more.

I do not know, but it is not inconceivable, that Kipling
himself would rather have had Allen Upward have it.

I am not quarrelling with the Trustees, and am merely
trying to think things out and understand. But it certainly
is a question that cannot but keep recurring to one's mind —
the unfortunate, and perhaps rather unlooked-for, way in
which Mr. Nobel's Will works. And I have been wondering
what there is that might be done, the world being the kind
of world it is, which would enable the Nobel Prize Trustees
to so administer the Will that its practical weight on the side
of Idealism, and especially upon the crisis of idealism in
young authors, would be where Mr. Nobel meant to have it.

One must hasten to admit that Mr. Upward's book is open
to question; that, in fact, it is the main trait of Mr. Upward's
book that it raises a thousand questions; and that it would
be a particularly hard book for most men to give a prize to,
quietly go home, and sleep that night. I must hasten to
admit also that, judging from their own point of view, the
Nobel Prize Trustees have so far done quite well. They



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214 CROWDS

have attained a kind of triumph of doing safe things — things
that they could not be criticised for; and they could well
reply to this present criticism that there was no other course
that they could take. Unless they had a large fund for but-
ting through all nations for obscure geniuses, and for turn-
ing up stones everywhere to look for embryo authors — imless
they had a fund for going about among the great newspapers,
the big magazines, and peeping under them through all the
world for geniuses — and unless they had still another large
fund for guaranteeing their decision when they had found
one, a fund for convincing the world that they were right,
and that they were not wasting their forty thousand dollars
— the Trustees have taken a fairly plausible position. Their
position being that, in default of perfectly fresh, brand-nev/
great men, and in view of the fact, in a world like this that
geniuses in it are almost invariably, and, as a matter of course,
lost or mislaid until they are dead, much the best and safest
thing that Trustees of IdeaHsm could do was to watch the
drift of public opinion in the different nations, to adopt tho
course of noting carefully what the world thought were really
its great men, and then (at a discreet and dignified distance,
of course) tagging the public, and wherever they saw a crowd, a



Online LibraryGerald Stanley LeeCrowds: a moving-picture of democracy → online text (page 16 of 44)