The Utopia of a modern dreamer must needs differ in one fundamental
aspect from the Nowheres and Utopias men planned before Darwin
quickened the thought of the world. Those were all perfect and
static States, a balance of happiness won for ever against the
forces of unrest and disorder that inhere in things. One beheld a
healthy and simple generation enjoying the fruits of the earth in
an atmosphere of virtue and happiness, to be followed by other
virtuous, happy, and entirely similar generations, until the Gods
grew weary. Change and development were dammed back by invincible
dams for ever. But the Modern Utopia must be not static but kinetic,
must shape not as a permanent state but as a hopeful stage, leading
to a long ascent of stages. Nowadays we do not resist and overcome
the great stream of things, but rather float upon it. We build now
not citadels, but ships of state. For one ordered arrangement of
citizens rejoicing in an equality of happiness safe and assured
to them and their children for ever, we have to plan "a flexible
common compromise, in which a perpetually novel succession of
individualities may converge most effectually upon a comprehensive
onward development." That is the first, most generalised difference
between a Utopia based upon modern conceptions and all the Utopias
that were written in the former time.
Our business here is to be Utopian, to make vivid and credible,
if we can, first this facet and then that, of an imaginary whole
and happy world. Our deliberate intention is to be not, indeed,
impossible, but most distinctly impracticable, by every scale that
reaches only between to-day and to-morrow. We are to turn our backs
for a space upon the insistent examination of the thing that is,
and face towards the freer air, the ampler spaces of the thing
that perhaps might be, to the projection of a State or city "worth
while," to designing upon the sheet of our imaginations the picture
of a life conceivably possible, and yet better worth living than
our own. That is our present enterprise. We are going to lay down
certain necessary starting propositions, and then we shall proceed
to explore the sort of world these propositions give us....
It is no doubt an optimistic enterprise. But it is good for awhile
to be free from the carping note that must needs be audible when
we discuss our present imperfections, to release ourselves from
practical difficulties and the tangle of ways and means. It is good
to stop by the track for a space, put aside the knapsack, wipe the
brows, and talk a little of the upper slopes of the mountain we
think we are climbing, would but the trees let us see it.
There is to be no inquiry here of policy and method. This is to be a
holiday from politics and movements and methods. But for all that,
we must needs define certain limitations. Were we free to have our
untrammelled desire, I suppose we should follow Morris to his
Nowhere, we should change the nature of man and the nature of things
together; we should make the whole race wise, tolerant, noble,
perfect--wave our hands to a splendid anarchy, every man doing as
it pleases him, and none pleased to do evil, in a world as good in
its essential nature, as ripe and sunny, as the world before the
Fall. But that golden age, that perfect world, comes out into the
possibilities of space and time. In space and time the pervading
Will to Live sustains for evermore a perpetuity of aggressions. Our
proposal here is upon a more practical plane at least than that.
We are to restrict ourselves first to the limitations of human
possibility as we know them in the men and women of this world
to-day, and then to all the inhumanity, all the insubordination of
nature. We are to shape our state in a world of uncertain seasons,
sudden catastrophes, antagonistic diseases, and inimical beasts and
vermin, out of men and women with like passions, like uncertainties
of mood and desire to our own. And, moreover, we are going to accept
this world of conflict, to adopt no attitude of renunciation towards
it, to face it in no ascetic spirit, but in the mood of the Western
peoples, whose purpose is to survive and overcome. So much we adopt
in common with those who deal not in Utopias, but in the world of
Here and Now.
Certain liberties, however, following the best Utopian precedents,
we may take with existing fact. We assume that the tone of public
thought may be entirely different from what it is in the present
world. We permit ourselves a free hand with the mental conflict of
life, within the possibilities of the human mind as we know it. We
permit ourselves also a free hand with all the apparatus of
existence that man has, so to speak, made for himself, with houses,
roads, clothing, canals, machinery, with laws, boundaries,
conventions, and traditions, with schools, with literature and
religious organisation, with creeds and customs, with everything, in
fact, that it lies within man's power to alter. That, indeed, is the
cardinal assumption of all Utopian speculations old and new; the
Republic and Laws of Plato, and More's Utopia, Howells' implicit
Altruria, and Bellamy's future Boston, Comte's great Western
Republic, Hertzka's Freeland, Cabet's Icaria, and Campanella's City
of the Sun, are built, just as we shall build, upon that, upon the
hypothesis of the complete emancipation of a community of men from
tradition, from habits, from legal bonds, and that subtler servitude
possessions entail. And much of the essential value of all such
speculations lies in this assumption of emancipation, lies in that
regard towards human freedom, in the undying interest of the human
power of self-escape, the power to resist the causation of the past,
and to evade, initiate, endeavour, and overcome.
There are very definite artistic limitations also.
There must always be a certain effect of hardness and thinness about
Utopian speculations. Their common fault is to be comprehensively
jejune. That which is the blood and warmth and reality of life is
largely absent; there are no individualities, but only generalised
people. In almost every Utopia--except, perhaps, Morris's "News from
Nowhere"--one sees handsome but characterless buildings, symmetrical
and perfect cultivations, and a multitude of people, healthy, happy,
beautifully dressed, but without any personal distinction whatever.
Too often the prospect resembles the key to one of those large
pictures of coronations, royal weddings, parliaments, conferences,
and gatherings so popular in Victorian times, in which, instead of a
face, each figure bears a neat oval with its index number legibly
inscribed. This burthens us with an incurable effect of unreality,
and I do not see how it is altogether to be escaped. It is a
disadvantage that has to be accepted. Whatever institution has
existed or exists, however irrational, however preposterous, has, by
virtue of its contact with individualities, an effect of realness
and rightness no untried thing may share. It has ripened, it has
been christened with blood, it has been stained and mellowed by
handling, it has been rounded and dented to the softened contours
that we associate with life; it has been salted, maybe, in a brine
of tears. But the thing that is merely proposed, the thing that is
merely suggested, however rational, however necessary, seems strange
and inhuman in its clear, hard, uncompromising lines, its
unqualified angles and surfaces.
There is no help for it, there it is! The Master suffers with the
last and least of his successors. For all the humanity he wins to,
through his dramatic device of dialogue, I doubt if anyone has ever
been warmed to desire himself a citizen in the Republic of Plato; I
doubt if anyone could stand a month of the relentless publicity of
virtue planned by More.... No one wants to live in any community of
intercourse really, save for the sake of the individualities he
would meet there. The fertilising conflict of individualities is the
ultimate meaning of the personal life, and all our Utopias no more
than schemes for bettering that interplay. At least, that is how
life shapes itself more and more to modern perceptions. Until you
bring in individualities, nothing comes into being, and a Universe
ceases when you shiver the mirror of the least of individual
No less than a planet will serve the purpose of a modern Utopia.
Time was when a mountain valley or an island seemed to promise
sufficient isolation for a polity to maintain itself intact from
outward force; the Republic of Plato stood armed ready for defensive
war, and the New Atlantis and the Utopia of More in theory, like
China and Japan through many centuries of effectual practice, held
themselves isolated from intruders. Such late instances as Butler's
satirical "Erewhon," and Mr. Stead's queendom of inverted sexual
conditions in Central Africa, found the Tibetan method of
slaughtering the inquiring visitor a simple, sufficient rule. But
the whole trend of modern thought is against the permanence of any
such enclosures. We are acutely aware nowadays that, however subtly
contrived a State may be, outside your boundary lines the epidemic,
the breeding barbarian or the economic power, will gather its
strength to overcome you. The swift march of invention is all for
the invader. Now, perhaps you might still guard a rocky coast or a
narrow pass; but what of that near to-morrow when the flying machine
soars overhead, free to descend at this point or that? A state
powerful enough to keep isolated under modern conditions would be
powerful enough to rule the world, would be, indeed, if not actively
ruling, yet passively acquiescent in all other human organisations,
and so responsible for them altogether. World-state, therefore, it
That leaves no room for a modern Utopia in Central Africa, or in
South America, or round about the pole, those last refuges of
ideality. The floating isle of La Cite Morellyste no longer avails.
We need a planet. Lord Erskine, the author of a Utopia ("Armata")
that might have been inspired by Mr. Hewins, was the first of all
Utopists to perceive this--he joined his twin planets pole to pole
by a sort of umbilical cord. But the modern imagination, obsessed
by physics, must travel further than that.
Out beyond Sirius, far in the deeps of space, beyond the flight of a
cannon-ball flying for a billion years, beyond the range of unaided
vision, blazes the star that is _our_ Utopia's sun. To those who
know where to look, with a good opera-glass aiding good eyes, it
and three fellows that seem in a cluster with it--though they are
incredible billions of miles nearer--make just the faintest speck
of light. About it go planets, even as our planets, but weaving a
different fate, and in its place among them is Utopia, with its
sister mate, the Moon. It is a planet like our planet, the same
continents, the same islands, the same oceans and seas, another
Fuji-Yama is beautiful there dominating another Yokohama--and
another Matterhorn overlooks the icy disorder of another Theodule.
It is so like our planet that a terrestrial botanist might find his
every species there, even to the meanest pondweed or the remotest
Only when he had gathered that last and turned about to find his inn
again, perhaps he would not find his inn!
Suppose now that two of us were actually to turn about in just that
fashion. Two, I think, for to face a strange planet, even though it
be a wholly civilised one, without some other familiar backing,
dashes the courage overmuch. Suppose that we were indeed so
translated even as we stood. You figure us upon some high pass in
the Alps, and though I--being one easily made giddy by stooping--am
no botanist myself, if my companion were to have a specimen tin
under his arm--so long as it is not painted that abominable popular
Swiss apple green--I would make it no occasion for quarrel! We have
tramped and botanised and come to a rest, and, sitting among rocks,
we have eaten our lunch and finished our bottle of Yvorne, and
fallen into a talk of Utopias, and said such things as I have been
saying. I could figure it myself upon that little neck of the
Lucendro Pass, upon the shoulder of the Piz Lucendro, for there once
I lunched and talked very pleasantly, and we are looking down upon
the Val Bedretto, and Villa and Fontana and Airolo try to hide from
us under the mountain side--three-quarters of a mile they are
vertically below. (Lantern.) With that absurd nearness of effect
one gets in the Alps, we see the little train a dozen miles away,
running down the Biaschina to Italy, and the Lukmanier Pass beyond
Piora left of us, and the San Giacomo right, mere footpaths under
And behold! in the twinkling of an eye we are in that other
We should scarcely note the change. Not a cloud would have gone from
the sky. It might be the remote town below would take a different
air, and my companion the botanist, with his educated observation,
might almost see as much, and the train, perhaps, would be gone out
of the picture, and the embanked straightness of the Ticino in the
Ambri-Piotta meadows--that might be altered, but that would be all
the visible change. Yet I have an idea that in some obscure manner
we should come to feel at once a difference in things.
The botanist's glance would, under a subtle attraction, float back
to Airolo. "It's queer," he would say quite idly, "but I never
noticed that building there to the right before."
"That to the right--with a queer sort of thing----"
"I see now. Yes. Yes, it's certainly an odd-looking affair.... And
big, you know! Handsome! I wonder----"
That would interrupt our Utopian speculations. We should both
discover that the little towns below had changed--but how, we should
not have marked them well enough to know. It would be indefinable, a
change in the quality of their grouping, a change in the quality of
their remote, small shapes.
I should flick a few crumbs from my knee, perhaps. "It's odd," I
should say, for the tenth or eleventh time, with a motion to rise,
and we should get up and stretch ourselves, and, still a little
puzzled, turn our faces towards the path that clambers down over
the tumbled rocks and runs round by the still clear lake and down
towards the Hospice of St. Gotthard--if perchance we could still
find that path.
Long before we got to that, before even we got to the great high
road, we should have hints from the stone cabin in the nape of the
pass--it would be gone or wonderfully changed--from the very goats
upon the rocks, from the little hut by the rough bridge of stone,
that a mighty difference had come to the world of men.
And presently, amazed and amazing, we should happen on a man--no
Swiss--dressed in unfamiliar clothing and speaking an unfamiliar
Before nightfall we should be drenched in wonders, but still we
should have wonder left for the thing my companion, with his
scientific training, would no doubt be the first to see. He would
glance up, with that proprietary eye of the man who knows his
constellations down to the little Greek letters. I imagine his
exclamation. He would at first doubt his eyes. I should inquire the
cause of his consternation, and it would be hard to explain. He
would ask me with a certain singularity of manner for "Orion," and I
should not find him; for the Great Bear, and it would have vanished.
"Where?" I should ask, and "where?" seeking among that scattered
starriness, and slowly I should acquire the wonder that possessed
Then, for the first time, perhaps, we should realise from
this unfamiliar heaven that not the world had changed, but
ourselves--that we had come into the uttermost deeps of space.
We need suppose no linguistic impediments to intercourse. The whole
world will surely have a common language, that is quite elementarily
Utopian, and since we are free of the trammels of convincing
story-telling, we may suppose that language to be sufficiently our
own to understand. Indeed, should we be in Utopia at all, if we
could not talk to everyone? That accursed bar of language, that
hostile inscription in the foreigner's eyes, "deaf and dumb to you,
sir, and so--your enemy," is the very first of the defects and
complications one has fled the earth to escape.
But what sort of language would we have the world speak, if we were
told the miracle of Babel was presently to be reversed?
If I may take a daring image, a mediaeval liberty, I would suppose
that in this lonely place the Spirit of Creation spoke to us on this
matter. "You are wise men," that Spirit might say--and I, being a
suspicious, touchy, over-earnest man for all my predisposition to
plumpness, would instantly scent the irony (while my companion, I
fancy, might even plume himself), "and to beget your wisdom is
chiefly why the world was made. You are so good as to propose an
acceleration of that tedious multitudinous evolution upon which I am
engaged. I gather, a universal tongue would serve you there. While I
sit here among these mountains--I have been filing away at them for
this last aeon or so, just to attract your hotels, you know--will
you be so kind----? A few hints----?"
Then the Spirit of Creation might transiently smile, a smile that
would be like the passing of a cloud. All the mountain wilderness
about us would be radiantly lit. (You know those swift moments, when
warmth and brightness drift by, in lonely and desolate places.)
Yet, after all, why should two men be smiled into apathy by the
Infinite? Here we are, with our knobby little heads, our eyes and
hands and feet and stout hearts, and if not us or ours, still the
endless multitudes about us and in our loins are to come at last to
the World State and a greater fellowship and the universal tongue.
Let us to the extent of our ability, if not answer that question, at
any rate try to think ourselves within sight of the best thing
possible. That, after all, is our purpose, to imagine our best and
strive for it, and it is a worse folly and a worse sin than
presumption, to abandon striving because the best of all our bests
looks mean amidst the suns.
Now you as a botanist would, I suppose, incline to something as
they say, "scientific." You wince under that most offensive
epithet--and I am able to give you my intelligent sympathy--though
"pseudo-scientific" and "quasi-scientific" are worse by far for the
skin. You would begin to talk of scientific languages, of Esperanto,
La Langue Bleue, New Latin, Volapuk, and Lord Lytton, of the
philosophical language of Archbishop Whateley, Lady Welby's work
upon Significs and the like. You would tell me of the remarkable
precisions, the encyclopaedic quality of chemical terminology, and
at the word terminology I should insinuate a comment on that eminent
American biologist, Professor Mark Baldwin, who has carried the
language biological to such heights of expressive clearness as to be
triumphantly and invincibly unreadable. (Which foreshadows the line
of my defence.)
You make your ideal clear, a scientific language you demand, without
ambiguity, as precise as mathematical formulae, and with every term
in relations of exact logical consistency with every other. It will
be a language with all the inflexions of verbs and nouns regular and
all its constructions inevitable, each word clearly distinguishable
from every other word in sound as well as spelling.
That, at any rate, is the sort of thing one hears demanded, and if
only because the demand rests upon implications that reach far
beyond the region of language, it is worth considering here. It
implies, indeed, almost everything that we are endeavouring to
repudiate in this particular work. It implies that the whole
intellectual basis of mankind is established, that the rules of
logic, the systems of counting and measurement, the general
categories and schemes of resemblance and difference, are
established for the human mind for ever--blank Comte-ism, in fact,
of the blankest description. But, indeed, the science of logic and
the whole framework of philosophical thought men have kept since the
days of Plato and Aristotle, has no more essential permanence as
a final expression of the human mind, than the Scottish Longer
Catechism. Amidst the welter of modern thought, a philosophy long
lost to men rises again into being, like some blind and almost
formless embryo, that must presently develop sight, and form, and
power, a philosophy in which this assumption is denied. [Footnote:
The serious reader may refer at leisure to Sidgwick's Use of Words
in Reasoning (particularly), and to Bosanquet's Essentials of Logic,
Bradley's Principles of Logic, and Sigwart's Logik; the lighter
minded may read and mark the temper of Professor Case in the British
Encyclopaedia, article Logic (Vol. XXX.). I have appended to his
book a rude sketch of a philosophy upon new lines, originally read
by me to the Oxford Phil. Soc. in 1903.]
All through this Utopian excursion, I must warn you, you shall feel
the thrust and disturbance of that insurgent movement. In the
reiterated use of "Unique," you will, as it were, get the gleam of
its integument; in the insistence upon individuality, and the
individual difference as the significance of life, you will feel the
texture of its shaping body. Nothing endures, nothing is precise and
certain (except the mind of a pedant), perfection is the mere
repudiation of that ineluctable marginal inexactitude which is the
mysterious inmost quality of Being. Being, indeed!--there is no
being, but a universal becoming of individualities, and Plato turned
his back on truth when he turned towards his museum of specific
ideals. Heraclitus, that lost and misinterpreted giant, may perhaps
be coming to his own....
There is no abiding thing in what we know. We change from weaker to
stronger lights, and each more powerful light pierces our hitherto
opaque foundations and reveals fresh and different opacities below.
We can never foretell which of our seemingly assured fundamentals
the next change will not affect. What folly, then, to dream of
mapping out our minds in however general terms, of providing for
the endless mysteries of the future a terminology and an idiom! We
follow the vein, we mine and accumulate our treasure, but who can
tell which way the vein may trend? Language is the nourishment of
the thought of man, that serves only as it undergoes metabolism, and
becomes thought and lives, and in its very living passes away. You
scientific people, with your fancy of a terrible exactitude in
language, of indestructible foundations built, as that Wordsworthian
doggerel on the title-page of Nature says, "for aye," are
marvellously without imagination!
The language of Utopia will no doubt be one and indivisible; all
mankind will, in the measure of their individual differences in
quality, be brought into the same phase, into a common resonance of
thought, but the language they will speak will still be a living
tongue, an animated system of imperfections, which every individual
man will infinitesimally modify. Through the universal freedom of
exchange and movement, the developing change in its general spirit
will be a world-wide change; that is the quality of its
universality. I fancy it will be a coalesced language, a synthesis
of many. Such a language as English is a coalesced language; it is a
coalescence of Anglo-Saxon and Norman French and Scholar's Latin,
welded into one speech more ample and more powerful and beautiful
than either. The Utopian tongue might well present a more spacious
coalescence, and hold in the frame of such an uninflected or
slightly inflected idiom as English already presents, a profuse
vocabulary into which have been cast a dozen once separate tongues,
superposed and then welded together through bilingual and trilingual
compromises. [Footnote: Vide an excellent article, La Langue
Francaise en l'an 2003, par Leon Bollack, in La Revue, 15 Juillet,
1903.] In the past ingenious men have speculated on the inquiry,
"Which language will survive?" The question was badly put. I think
now that this wedding and survival of several in a common offspring
is a far more probable thing.
This talk of languages, however, is a digression. We were on our
way along the faint path that runs round the rim of the Lake of
Lucendro, and we were just upon the point of coming upon our first
Utopian man. He was, I said, no Swiss. Yet he would have been a
Swiss on mother Earth, and here he would have the same face, with
some difference, maybe, in the expression; the same physique, though
a little better developed, perhaps--the same complexion. He would
have different habits, different traditions, different knowledge,
different ideas, different clothing, and different appliances, but,
except for all that, he would be the same man. We very distinctly
provided at the outset that the modern Utopia must have people
inherently the same as those in the world.
There is more, perhaps, in that than appears at the first
That proposition gives one characteristic difference between a
modern Utopia and almost all its predecessors. It is to be a world
Utopia, we have agreed, no less; and so we must needs face the fact
that we are to have differences of race. Even the lower class of
Plato's Republic was not specifically of different race. But this is
a Utopia as wide as Christian charity, and white and black, brown,
red and yellow, all tints of skin, all types of body and character,
will be there. How we are to adjust their differences is a master
question, and the matter is not even to be opened in this chapter.
It will need a whole chapter even to glance at its issues. But here
we underline that stipulation; every race of this planet earth is
to be found in the strictest parallelism there, in numbers the
same--only, as I say, with an entirely different set of traditions,
ideals, ideas, and purposes, and so moving under those different
skies to an altogether different destiny.
There follows a curious development of this to anyone clearly
impressed by the uniqueness and the unique significance of
individualities. Races are no hard and fast things, no crowd of
identically similar persons, but massed sub-races, and tribes
and families, each after its kind unique, and these again are
clusterings of still smaller uniques and so down to each several
person. So that our first convention works out to this, that not
only is every earthly mountain, river, plant, and beast in that
parallel planet beyond Sirius also, but every man, woman, and child
alive has a Utopian parallel. From now onward, of course, the fates
of these two planets will diverge, men will die here whom wisdom
will save there, and perhaps conversely here we shall save men;
children will be born to them and not to us, to us and not to them,
but this, this moment of reading, is the starting moment, and for
the first and last occasion the populations of our planets are
We must in these days make some such supposition. The alternative is
a Utopia of dolls in the likeness of angels--imaginary laws to fit
incredible people, an unattractive undertaking.
For example, we must assume there is a man such as I might have
been, better informed, better disciplined, better employed, thinner
and more active--and I wonder what he is doing!--and you, Sir or
Madam, are in duplicate also, and all the men and women that you
know and I. I doubt if we shall meet our doubles, or if it would be
pleasant for us to do so; but as we come down from these lonely
mountains to the roads and houses and living places of the Utopian
world-state, we shall certainly find, here and there, faces that
will remind us singularly of those who have lived under our
There are some you never wish to meet again, you say, and some, I
gather, you do. "And One----!"
It is strange, but this figure of the botanist will not keep in
place. It sprang up between us, dear reader, as a passing
illustrative invention. I do not know what put him into my head, and
for the moment, it fell in with my humour for a space to foist the
man's personality upon you as yours and call you scientific--that
most abusive word. But here he is, indisputably, with me in Utopia,
and lapsing from our high speculative theme into halting but
intimate confidences. He declares he has not come to Utopia to meet
again with his sorrows.
I protest, even warmly, that neither he nor his sorrows were in my
He is a man, I should think, of thirty-nine, a man whose life has
been neither tragedy nor a joyous adventure, a man with one of
those faces that have gained interest rather than force or nobility
from their commerce with life. He is something refined, with
some knowledge, perhaps, of the minor pains and all the civil
self-controls; he has read more than he has suffered, and suffered
rather than done. He regards me with his blue-grey eye, from which
all interest in this Utopia has faded.
"It is a trouble," he says, "that has come into my life only for a
month or so--at least acutely again. I thought it was all over.
There was someone----"
It is an amazing story to hear upon a mountain crest in Utopia, this
Hampstead affair, this story of a Frognal heart. "Frognal," he says,
is the place where they met, and it summons to my memory the word
on a board at the corner of a flint-dressed new road, an estate
development road, with a vista of villas up a hill. He had known
her before he got his professorship, and neither her "people" nor
his--he speaks that detestable middle-class dialect in which aunts
and things with money and the right of intervention are called
"people"!--approved of the affair. "She was, I think, rather easily
swayed," he says. "But that's not fair to her, perhaps. She thought
too much of others. If they seemed distressed, or if they seemed to
think a course right----" ...
Have I come to Utopia to hear this sort of thing?
It is necessary to turn the botanist's thoughts into a worthier
channel. It is necessary to override these modest regrets, this
intrusive, petty love story. Does he realise this is indeed Utopia?
Turn your mind, I insist, to this Utopia of mine, and leave these
earthly troubles to their proper planet. Do you realise just where
the propositions necessary to a modern Utopia are taking us?
Everyone on earth will have to be here;--themselves, but with a
difference. Somewhere here in this world is, for example, Mr.
Chamberlain, and the King is here (no doubt incognito), and all the
Royal Academy, and Sandow, and Mr. Arnold White.
But these famous names do not appeal to him.
My mind goes from this prominent and typical personage to that, and
for a time I forget my companion. I am distracted by the curious
side issues this general proposition trails after it. There will be
so-and-so, and so-and-so. The name and figure of Mr. Roosevelt jerks
into focus, and obliterates an attempt to acclimatise the Emperor of
the Germans. What, for instance, will Utopia do with Mr. Roosevelt?
There drifts across my inner vision the image of a strenuous
struggle with Utopian constables, the voice that has thrilled
terrestrial millions in eloquent protest. The writ of arrest,
drifting loose in the conflict, comes to my feet; I impale the scrap
of paper, and read--but can it be?--"attempted disorganisation? ...
incitements to disarrange? ... the balance of population?"
The trend of my logic for once has led us into a facetious alley.
One might indeed keep in this key, and write an agreeable little
Utopia, that like the holy families of the mediaeval artists (or
Michael Angelo's Last Judgement) should compliment one's friends in
various degrees. Or one might embark upon a speculative treatment of
the entire Almanach de Gotha, something on the lines of Epistemon's
vision of the damned great, when
"Xerxes was a crier of mustard.
Romulus was a salter and a patcher of patterns...."
That incomparable catalogue! That incomparable catalogue! Inspired
by the Muse of Parody, we might go on to the pages of "Who's Who,"
and even, with an eye to the obdurate republic, to "Who's Who in
America," and make the most delightful and extensive arrangements.
Now where shall we put this most excellent man? And this? ...
But, indeed, it is doubtful if we shall meet any of these doubles
during our Utopian journey, or know them when we meet them. I doubt
if anyone will be making the best of both these worlds. The great
men in this still unexplored Utopia may be but village Hampdens in
our own, and earthly goatherds and obscure illiterates sit here in
the seats of the mighty.
That again opens agreeable vistas left of us and right.
But my botanist obtrudes his personality again. His thoughts have
travelled by a different route.
"I know," he says, "that she will be happier here, and that they
will value her better than she has been valued upon earth."
His interruption serves to turn me back from my momentary
contemplation of those popular effigies inflated by old newspapers
and windy report, the earthly great. He sets me thinking of more
personal and intimate applications, of the human beings one knows
with a certain approximation to real knowledge, of the actual common
substance of life. He turns me to the thought of rivalries and
tendernesses, of differences and disappointments. I am suddenly
brought painfully against the things that might have been. What if
instead of that Utopia of vacant ovals we meet relinquished loves
here, and opportunities lost and faces as they might have looked to
I turn to my botanist almost reprovingly. "You know, she won't be
quite the same lady here that you knew in Frognal," I say, and wrest
myself from a subject that is no longer agreeable by rising to my
"And besides," I say, standing above him, "the chances against our
meeting her are a million to one.... And we loiter! This is not the
business we have come upon, but a mere incidental kink in our larger
plan. The fact remains, these people we have come to see are people
with like infirmities to our own--and only the conditions are
changed. Let us pursue the tenour of our inquiry."
With that I lead the way round the edge of the Lake of Lucendro
towards our Utopian world.
(You figure him doing it.)
Down the mountain we shall go and down the passes, and as the
valleys open the world will open, Utopia, where men and women are
happy and laws are wise, and where all that is tangled and confused
in human affairs has been unravelled and made right.