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weaklings, and the girls, who formerly were
patterns of morality, now hardly reached eighteen
without an " accident or two. Close mewing
up of boys and girls in hot rooms brought its
inevitable result. Wages did not rise, but on
the contrary, rather inclined to fall ; for people
flocked from the country districts to get employ-
ment at the far-famed mill.

The economists would have thrown their hats
into the air for joy had not their ideas of thrift
forbidden them to damage finished products, for
which they had to pay, The goods made in
the mill were quoted far and wide, and known
for their inferior quality throughout two hemi-
spheres.

Yet still content and peace were gone. The



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 185

air of the whole place seemed changed. No
longer did the population lounge about the
roads. No longer did the cows parade the
streets, or goats climb cabin-roofs to eat the
house leek. The people did not saunter through
their lives as in the times when there was lack
of capital, and therefore of advancement, as
they thought. They had the capital ; but the
advancement was still far to seek. Capital had
come that capital which is the dream of every
patriotic Irishman. It banished idleness, peace,
beauty, and content ; it made the people slaves.
No more they breathed the scent of the fields
and lanes, but stifled in the mill. There was a
gain, for savages who did not need them pur-
chased, at the bayonet's point, the goods the
people made. The villagers gained little by the
traffic, and became raggeder as their customers
were clothed. Perhaps the thought that savages
wore on their arms or round their necks the
stockings they had made, consoled them for
their lost peaceful lives. Perhaps they liked the
change from being wakened by the lowing of
the kine, to the " steam hooter's " call to work
in the dark winter mornings calling them out
to toil on pain of loss of work and bread, and



1 86 THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE

seeming, indeed, to say : " Work, brother ! Up
and to work ; it is more blessed far to work
than sleep. Up ! leave your beds ; rise up ; get
to your daily task of making wealth for others,
or else starve ; for Capital has come ! "



CASTLES IN THE AIR.

YOUR castles in the air are the best castles to
possess, and keep a quiet mind. In them no
taxes, no housemaids, no men-at-arms, no
larders bother, and no slavery of property
exists. Their architecture is always perfect,
the prospect of and from them always delight-
ful, and, in fact, without them the greater part
of humanity would have no house in which
to shield their souls against the storms of life.
It is prudent, therefore, to keep these aerial
fortalices in good repair, not letting them too
long out of our mind's eye, in case they vanish
altogether into Spain.

Good business men, and those who think that
they are practical merely because they lack
imagination, have maintained that castles such
as these are but the creation of the brain, and
that as fancy is but an exercise of the mind, its
creations can have no existence in mere fact.
To each man after his demerits ; to some day-



1 88 CASTLES IN THE AIR

books, ledgers, cash-boxes, and the entire armour
of the Christian business man. Let them put
it on, taking in their hands the sword of cove-
tousness, having on their arms the shield of
counterfeit, the helmet of double-dealing upon
their heads, till they are equipped fully at all
points to encounter man's worst enemy, his
fellowman. Let them go forth, prevail, destroy,
deceive, opening up markets, broadening their
balances and their phylacteries ; let them at last
succeed and build their stucco palace in Park
Lane ; to them the praise, to them the just
reward of their laborious lives ; to them blear
eyes, loose knee joints, rounded backs, and
hands become like claws with holding fast their
gold.

But let your castle builders in the perspective
of the mind have their life, too ; let them pursue
their vacuous way, if but to serve as an example
of what successful men should all avoid. Buoys
in safe channels, lighthouses set up on coasts
where no ships pass ; preachers who preach in
city churches where no congregation ever comes
except the beadle, a deaf woman, and a child or
two ; Socialist orators who do "Ye Men of
England" to a policeman and an organ-grinder



CASTLES IN THE AIR 189

all have their uses, and may serve some day
if coral insects build their reef, the " Flying
Dutchman " should put in for rest, a shower fill
the church, or men grow weary of the strife of
parties, and why not' those who dream ? They
have their uses, too, because the castles that
they build are permanent and suffer no decay.
Tantallon, Hermitage, Caerlaverock, Warwick,
and Kenilworth must crumble at the last, a heap
of stones, grey ruined walls grown green with
moss, and viper's bugloss springing from the
crevices, some grassy mounds, a filled-up ditch
to mark the moat, a bank or two to show the
tilting ground, and a snug lodge, in which the
lodge-keeper sits with gold-laced hat to take the
tourists' sixpences to that favour must they all
come, even if masonry be fathoms thick, mortar
as hard as adamant, and the men who built
have builded not on the modern system, but
like beavers or the constructors of the pyramids.
Your visionary castle, though, improves with
time, youth sees its bastions rise, and each
recurring year adds counterscarps, puts here a
rampart or a mamelon, throws out a glacis or
contructs a fosse, till middle age sees the whole
fort impregnable. But as imagination commonly



190 CASTLES IN THE AIR

improves with years, old age still sees the castle
untaken and entire ; and when death comes, and
the constructor passes away to sleep beside the
million masons of the past, young builders rise
to carry on the work ; so that, considered justly,
air is the best foundation on which a man can
build ; so that he does not wish to see his ashlar
scale, mortar return to lime, and to be bothered
all his life with patching that which with so
much pains in youth he built. The poor man's
shelter in the frosts of life; the rich man's
summer house, to which he can retire and ease
himself of the tremendous burden of his wealth ;
the traveller's best tent ; the very present refuge
of all those who fail your visionary castle rears
its head, defying time itself.

Often so real s the castle in the air, tnat a
man sells his own jerry-built, stuccoed mansion
in the mud, to journey towards his castle, as
travellers have sold their lands to see the deserts
in which other people live. Think what a
consolation to the outcast in the crowded street,
on the wet heath, straying along the interminable
road of poverty, to bear about with him a well-
conceived and well-constructed dream house,
pitched like the ark, inside and out, against not



CASTLES IN THE AIR

only weather, but the frowns of fortune a place
in which to shelter in against the tongues of
fools, refuge in which to sulk under the misery
of misconception, half-comprehension, unintelli-
gent appreciation, and the more real ills of want
of bread for well the Spaniards say that every
evil on God's earth is less with bread.

How few can rear a really substantial castle
in the clouds : poets, painters, dreamers, the
poor of spirit, the men of no account, the easily
imposed upon, those who cannot say No, the
credulous, the simple-hearted, often the weak,
occasionally the generous and the enthusiastic
spirits sent into the world to shed as many tears
as would float navies ; these generally are famous
architects of other peoples' fortunes. They
rear palaces set in the middle distance of their
minds, compared to which the Alhambra, the
Alcazar, the Ambraz, Windsor and Fontaine-
bleau, and the mysterious palaces in Trapalanda,
which the Gauchos used to say were situated
somewhere in the recesses of the Andes, beyond
the country of the Manzaneros, are heavy, over-
charged, flat, commonplace, ignoble, wanting in
all distinction, and as inferior as is the four-
square house in Belgrave Square, just at the



CASTLES IN THE AIR

corner of Lower Belgrave Street, to an Italian
palace of the rinascimento, or the old " Casa de
Mayorazgo," in the plaza at Jaen.

I read of such a master builder once in a
newspaper. He was, I think, a mason, and
whilst he worked bedding the bricks in lime, or
underneath his shed hewing the stone with
chisel and the bulbous-looking mallet masons
use, the white dust on his clothes and powdering
his hair, or on the scaffold waiting whilst the
Irish hodman brought him bricks, he used to
think of what some day he would construct for
his own pleasure in the far off time when money
should be made, w r ife found, house of his own
achieved, and leisure to indulge his whims
assured. Needless to say he was not of the
kind who rise ; master and mates and fore-
man used to call him dreamy and unpractical.
His nickname was " The Castle Builder," for
those who had to do with him divined his mind
was elsewhere, though his hands performed their
task. Still, a good workman, punctual at hours,
hard working, conscientious, and not one of
those who spend the earnings of a week in a few
hours of booze at the week's end. Tall, fair,
blue-eyed, and curley-haired, a little loose about



CASTLES IN THE AIR 1 93

the knees, and in the fibre of the mind ; no
theologian ; though well read, not pious, and
still not a revoke, thinking the world a pleasant
place enough when work was regular, health
.good, hours not too long, and not inclined to
rail on fortune, God, nature, or society for not
making him a clerk. Things, on the whole,
went pretty well with him ; during the week he
worked upon the hideous cubelike structures
which men love to build ; and Sunday come, he
walked into the fields to smoke his pipe and
muse upon his castles in the air. Then came
an evil time lockout or strike, I can't remember
which no work, plenty of time to dream, till
money flew away, and the poor mason started
on the tramp to look for work. Travelling, the
Easterns say, is hell to those who ride, and how
much more than hell for those who walk. I
take it that no desert journey in the East, nor
yet the awful tramp of the man who left afoot
walks for his life, on pampa or on prairie, is com-
parable in horror to the journey of the workman
out of work. On the one hand the walker fights
with nature, thirst, hunger, weariness, the sun,
the rain, with possible wild beasts, with dangers
of wild men, with loss of road ; sleeping he lies

o



194 CASTLES IN THE AIR

down with his head in the direction he intends
to take on rising, and rising tramps towards the
point he thinks will bring him out ; and as he
walks he thinks, smokes, if he has tobacco, takes
his pistol out, looks at the cartridges, feels if his
knife is safely in his belt, and has a consciousness
that if all goes right he may at last strike houses
and be saved.

But on the other hand, the wanderer has
houses all the way ; carriages pass by him in
which sit comfortable folk ; children ride past on
ponies, happy and smiling, bicycles flit past, cows
go to pasture, horses are led to water, the shep-
herd tends his sheep, the very dogs have their
appointed place in the economy of the world,
whilst he alone, willing to work, with hands
made callous by the saw, the hammer, file, the
plough, axe, adze, scythe, spade, and every kind
of tool, a castaway, no use, a broken cogwheel,
and of less account than is the cat which sits
and purrs outside the door, knowing it has its
circle of admirers who would miss it if it died.

Oh, worse than solitude, to wander through a
thicket of strange faces, all thorny, all repulsive
all unknown ; no terror greater, no nightmare,
no creeping horror which assails you alone at



CASTLES IN THE AIR 195

night in a strange house, so awful as the un-
sympathetic glare of eyes which know you not,
and make no sign of recognition as you pass.
And so the mason tramped, lost in the ever-
glade of men who, like trees walking, trample
upon all those who have no settled root. At
first, thinking a mason must of necessity be
wanted, either to build or work amongst the
stone, he looked for labour at his trade. Then,
finding that wheresoe'er he went masons were
plentiful as blackberries upon an autumn hedge,
he looked for work at any trade, conscious of
strength and youth and wish to be of use in the
great world which cast him out from it as a lost
dog, to stray upon the roads.

Past villages and towns, along the lanes, by
rivers and canals he wandered, always seeking
work ; worked at odd jobs and lost them, slept
under railway arches and in the fields, in barns
and at the lea of haystacks, and as he went
along he dreamed (though now more faintly) of
his castles in the air. Then came revolt ; he
cursed his God who let a workman, a stone-
mason, starve, with so much work to do, stone
to be hewn and houses built, churches to rear,
docks to be made, and he alone it seemed to him,



196 CASTLES IN THE AIR

of all mankind, condemned to walk for ever on
the roads. At last, tired of his God's and man's
injustice, faint from want of food, and with his
castle scarcely visible, he sat him down just on
the brink of a black, oily river outside a manu-
facturing town, the water thick and greasy, and
at night looking like Periphlegethon, when iron-
works belch out their fires and clouds of steam
creep on the surface of the flood.

And seated there, his feet just dangling in
the noxious stream, the night-shift going to a
factory found him, -and as they asked him what
he did, he murmured, "Castles, castles in the
air," and rested from his tramp.



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