Neither my Utopian double nor I love emotion sufficiently to
cultivate it, and my feelings are in a state of seemly subordination
when we meet again. He is now in possession of some clear, general
ideas about my own world, and I can broach almost at once the
thoughts that have been growing and accumulating since my arrival
in this planet of my dreams. We find our interest in a humanised
state-craft, makes us, in spite of our vast difference in training
and habits, curiously akin.
I put it to him that I came to Utopia with but very vague ideas of
the method of government, biassed, perhaps, a little in favour of
certain electoral devices, but for the rest indeterminate, and
that I have come to perceive more and more clearly that the large
intricacy of Utopian organisation demands more powerful and
efficient method of control than electoral methods can give. I have
come to distinguish among the varied costumes and the innumerable
types of personality Utopia presents, certain men and women of a
distinctive costume and bearing, and I know now that these people
constitute an order, the samurai, the "voluntary nobility," which
is essential in the scheme of the Utopian State. I know that this
order is open to every physically and mentally healthy adult in
the Utopian State who will observe its prescribed austere rule of
living, that much of the responsible work of the State is reserved
for it, and I am inclined now at the first onset of realisation to
regard it as far more significant than it really is in the Utopian
scheme, as being, indeed, in itself and completely the Utopian
scheme. My predominant curiosity concerns the organisation of this
order. As it has developed in my mind, it has reminded me more and
more closely of that strange class of guardians which constitutes
the essential substance of Plato's Republic, and it is with an
implicit reference to Plato's profound intuitions that I and my
double discuss this question.
To clarify our comparison he tells me something of the history of
Utopia, and incidentally it becomes necessary to make a correction
in the assumptions upon which I have based my enterprise. We are
assuming a world identical in every respect with the real planet
Earth, except for the profoundest differences in the mental
content of life. This implies a different literature, a different
philosophy, and a different history, and so soon as I come to
talk to him I find that though it remains unavoidable that we
should assume the correspondence of the two populations, man for
man--unless we would face unthinkable complications--we must assume
also that a great succession of persons of extraordinary character
and mental gifts, who on earth died in childhood or at birth, or
who never learnt to read, or who lived and died amidst savage or
brutalising surroundings that gave their gifts no scope, did in
Utopia encounter happier chances, and take up the development and
application of social theory--from the time of the first Utopists in
a steady onward progress down to the present hour. [Footnote: One
might assume as an alternative to this that amidst the four-fifths
of the Greek literature now lost to the world, there perished,
neglected, some book of elementary significance, some earlier
Novum Organum, that in Utopia survived to achieve the profoundest
consequences.] The differences of condition, therefore, had widened
with each successive year. Jesus Christ had been born into a liberal
and progressive Roman Empire that spread from the Arctic Ocean
to the Bight of Benin, and was to know no Decline and Fall,
and Mahomet, instead of embodying the dense prejudices of Arab
ignorance, opened his eyes upon an intellectual horizon already
nearly as wide as the world.
And through this empire the flow of thought, the flow of intention,
poured always more abundantly. There were wars, but they were
conclusive wars that established new and more permanent relations,
that swept aside obstructions, and abolished centres of decay; there
were prejudices tempered to an ordered criticism, and hatreds that
merged at last in tolerant reactions. It was several hundred years
ago that the great organisation of the samurai came into its present
form. And it was this organisation's widely sustained activities
that had shaped and established the World State in Utopia.
This organisation of the samurai was a quite deliberate invention.
It arose in the course of social and political troubles and
complications, analogous to those of our own time on earth, and was,
indeed, the last of a number of political and religious experiments
dating back to the first dawn of philosophical state-craft in
Greece. That hasty despair of specialisation for government that
gave our poor world individualism, democratic liberalism, and
anarchism, and that curious disregard of the fund of enthusiasm and
self-sacrifice in men, which is the fundamental weakness of worldly
economics, do not appear in the history of Utopian thought. All
that history is pervaded with the recognition of the fact
that self-seeking is no more the whole of human life than the
satisfaction of hunger; that it is an essential of a man's existence
no doubt, and that under stress of evil circumstances it may as
entirely obsess him as would the food hunt during famine, but that
life may pass beyond to an illimitable world of emotions and effort.
Every sane person consists of possibilities beyond the unavoidable
needs, is capable of disinterested feeling, even if it amounts only
to enthusiasm for a sport or an industrial employment well done,
for an art, or for a locality or class. In our world now, as in
the Utopian past, this impersonal energy of a man goes out into
religious emotion and work, into patriotic effort, into artistic
enthusiasms, into games and amateur employments, and an enormous
proportion of the whole world's fund of effort wastes itself in
religious and political misunderstandings and conflicts, and in
unsatisfying amusements and unproductive occupations. In a modern
Utopia there will, indeed, be no perfection; in Utopia there
must also be friction, conflicts and waste, but the waste will
be enormously less than in our world. And the co-ordination of
activities this relatively smaller waste will measure, will be the
achieved end for which the order of the samurai was first devised.
Inevitably such an order must have first arisen among a clash of
social forces and political systems as a revolutionary organisation.
It must have set before itself the attainment of some such Utopian
ideal as this modern Utopia does, in the key of mortal imperfection,
realise. At first it may have directed itself to research and
discussion, to the elaboration of its ideal, to the discussion of a
plan of campaign, but at some stage it must have assumed a more
militant organisation, and have prevailed against and assimilated
the pre-existing political organisations, and to all intents and
purposes have become this present synthesised World State. Traces of
that militancy would, therefore, pervade it still, and a campaigning
quality--no longer against specific disorders, but against universal
human weaknesses, and the inanimate forces that trouble man--still
remain as its essential quality.
"Something of this kind," I should tell my double, "had arisen in
our thought"--I jerk my head back to indicate an infinitely distant
planet--"just before I came upon these explorations. The idea had
reached me, for example, of something to be called a New Republic,
which was to be in fact an organisation for revolution something
after the fashion of your samurai, as I understand them--only most
of the organisation and the rule of life still remained to be
invented. All sorts of people were thinking of something in that way
about the time of my coming. The idea, as it reached me, was pretty
crude in several respects. It ignored the high possibility of a
synthesis of languages in the future; it came from a literary man,
who wrote only English, and, as I read him--he was a little vague in
his proposals--it was to be a purely English-speaking movement. And
his ideas were coloured too much by the peculiar opportunism of his
time; he seemed to have more than half an eye for a prince or a
millionaire of genius; he seemed looking here and there for support
and the structural elements of a party. Still, the idea of a
comprehensive movement of disillusioned and illuminated men behind
the shams and patriotisms, the spites and personalities of the
ostensible world was there."
I added some particulars.
"Our movement had something of that spirit in the beginning," said
my Utopian double. "But while your men seem to be thinking
disconnectedly, and upon a very narrow and fragmentary basis of
accumulated conclusions, ours had a fairly comprehensive science of
human association, and a very careful analysis of the failures of
preceding beginnings to draw upon. After all, your world must be as
full as ours was of the wreckage and decay of previous attempts;
churches, aristocracies, orders, cults...."
"Only at present we seem to have lost heart altogether, and now
there are no new religions, no new orders, no new cults--no
beginnings any more."
"But that's only a resting phase, perhaps. You were saying----"
"Oh!--let that distressful planet alone for a time! Tell me how you
manage in Utopia."
The social theorists of Utopia, my double explained, did not base
their schemes upon the classification of men into labour and
capital, the landed interest, the liquor trade, and the like. They
esteemed these as accidental categories, indefinitely amenable to
statesmanship, and they looked for some practical and real
classification upon which to base organisation. [Footnote: In that
they seem to have profited by a more searching criticism of early
social and political speculations than our earth has yet undertaken.
The social speculations of the Greeks, for example, had just the
same primary defect as the economic speculations of the eighteenth
century--they began with the assumption that the general conditions
of the prevalent state of affairs were permanent.] But, on the other
hand, the assumption that men are unclassifiable, because
practically homogeneous, which underlies modern democratic methods
and all the fallacies of our equal justice, is even more alien to
the Utopian mind. Throughout Utopia there is, of course, no other
than provisional classifications, since every being is regarded as
finally unique, but for political and social purposes things have
long rested upon a classification of temperaments, which attends
mainly to differences in the range and quality and character of the
This Utopian classification was a rough one, but it served its
purpose to determine the broad lines of political organisation; it
was so far unscientific that many individuals fall between or within
two or even three of its classes. But that was met by giving the
correlated organisation a compensatory looseness of play. Four main
classes of mind were distinguished, called, respectively, the
Poietic, the Kinetic, the Dull, and the Base. The former two are
supposed to constitute the living tissue of the State; the latter
are the fulcra and resistances, the bone and cover of its body. They
are not hereditary classes, nor is there any attempt to develop any
class by special breeding, simply because the intricate interplay
of heredity is untraceable and incalculable. They are classes to
which people drift of their own accord. Education is uniform until
differentiation becomes unmistakable, and each man (and woman) must
establish his position with regard to the lines of this abstract
classification by his own quality, choice, and development....
The Poietic or creative class of mental individuality embraces a
wide range of types, but they agree in possessing imaginations that
range beyond the known and accepted, and that involve the desire to
bring the discoveries made in such excursions, into knowledge and
recognition. The scope and direction of the imaginative excursion
may vary very greatly. It may be the invention of something new or
the discovery of something hitherto unperceived. When the invention
or discovery is primarily beauty then we have the artistic type of
Poietic mind; when it is not so, we have the true scientific man.
The range of discovery may be narrowed as it is in the art of
Whistler or the science of a cytologist, or it may embrace a wide
extent of relevance, until at last both artist or scientific
inquirer merge in the universal reference of the true philosopher.
To the accumulated activities of the Poietic type, reacted upon by
circumstances, are due almost all the forms assumed by human thought
and feeling. All religious ideas, all ideas of what is good or
beautiful, entered life through the poietic inspirations of man.
Except for processes of decay, the forms of the human future must
come also through men of this same type, and it is a primary
essential to our modern idea of an abundant secular progress that
these activities should be unhampered and stimulated.
The Kinetic class consists of types, various, of course, and merging
insensibly along the boundary into the less representative
constituents of the Poietic group, but distinguished by a more
restricted range of imagination. Their imaginations do not range
beyond the known, experienced, and accepted, though within these
limits they may imagine as vividly or more vividly than members of
the former group. They are often very clever and capable people, but
they do not do, and they do not desire to do, new things. The more
vigorous individuals of this class are the most teachable people in
the world, and they are generally more moral and more trustworthy
than the Poietic types. They live,--while the Poietics are always
something of experimentalists with life. The characteristics of
either of these two classes may be associated with a good or bad
physique, with excessive or defective energy, with exceptional
keenness of the senses in some determinate direction or such-like
"bent," and the Kinetic type, just as the Poietic type, may display
an imagination of restricted or of the most universal range. But a
fairly energetic Kinetic is probably the nearest thing to that ideal
our earthly anthropologists have in mind when they speak of the
"Normal" human being. The very definition of the Poietic class
involves a certain abnormality.
The Utopians distinguished two extremes of this Kinetic class
according to the quality of their imaginative preferences, the Dan
and Beersheba, as it were, of this division. At one end is the
mainly intellectual, unoriginal type, which, with energy of
personality, makes an admirable judge or administrator and without
it an uninventive, laborious, common mathematician, or common
scholar, or common scientific man; while at the other end is the
mainly emotional, unoriginal man, the type to which--at a low level
of personal energy--my botanist inclines. The second type includes,
amidst its energetic forms, great actors, and popular politicians
and preachers. Between these extremes is a long and wide region of
varieties, into which one would put most of the people who form the
reputable workmen, the men of substance, the trustworthy men and
women, the pillars of society on earth.
Below these two classes in the Utopian scheme of things, and merging
insensibly into them, come the Dull. The Dull are persons of
altogether inadequate imagination, the people who never seem to
learn thoroughly, or hear distinctly, or think clearly. (I believe
if everyone is to be carefully educated they would be considerably
in the minority in the world, but it is quite possible that will not
be the reader's opinion. It is clearly a matter of an arbitrary
line.) They are the stupid people, the incompetent people, the
formal, imitative people, the people who, in any properly organised
State, should, as a class, gravitate towards and below the minimum
wage that qualifies for marriage. The laws of heredity are far too
mysterious for such offspring as they do produce to be excluded from
a fair chance in the world, but for themselves, they count neither
for work nor direction in the State.
Finally, with a bold disregard of the logician's classificatory
rules, these Utopian statesmen who devised the World State, hewed
out in theory a class of the Base. The Base may, indeed, be either
poietic, kinetic, or dull, though most commonly they are the last,
and their definition concerns not so much the quality of their
imagination as a certain bias in it, that to a statesman makes it a
matter for special attention. The Base have a narrower and more
persistent egoistic reference than the common run of humanity; they
may boast, but they have no frankness; they have relatively great
powers of concealment, and they are capable of, and sometimes have
an aptitude and inclination towards, cruelty. In the queer phrasing
of earthly psychology with its clumsy avoidance of analysis, they
have no "moral sense." They count as an antagonism to the State
Obviously, this is the rudest of classifications, and no Utopian has
ever supposed it to be a classification for individual application,
a classification so precise that one can say, this man is "poietic,"
and that man is "base." In actual experience these qualities mingle
and vary in every possible way. It is not a classification for
Truth, but a classification to an end. Taking humanity as a
multitude of unique individuals in mass, one may, for practical
purposes, deal with it far more conveniently by disregarding its
uniquenesses and its mixed cases altogether, and supposing it to be
an assembly of poietic, kinetic, dull, and base people. In many
respects it behaves as if it were that. The State, dealing as it
does only with non-individualised affairs, is not only justified in
disregarding, but is bound to disregard, a man's special
distinction, and to provide for him on the strength of his prevalent
aspect as being on the whole poietic, kinetic, or what not. In a
world of hasty judgments and carping criticism, it cannot be
repeated too often that the fundamental ideas of a modern Utopia
imply everywhere and in everything, margins and elasticities, a
certain universal compensatory looseness of play.
Now these Utopian statesmen who founded the World State put the
problem of social organisation in the following fashion:--To
contrive a revolutionary movement that shall absorb all existing
governments and fuse them with itself, and that must be rapidly
progressive and adaptable, and yet coherent, persistent, powerful,
The problem of combining progress with political stability had never
been accomplished in Utopia before that time, any more than it has
been accomplished on earth. Just as on earth, Utopian history was a
succession of powers rising and falling in an alternation of
efficient conservative with unstable liberal States. Just as on
earth, so in Utopia, the kinetic type of men had displayed a more or
less unintentional antagonism to the poietic. The general
life-history of a State had been the same on either planet. First,
through poietic activities, the idea of a community has developed,
and the State has shaped itself; poietic men have arisen first in
this department of national life, and then that, and have given
place to kinetic men of a high type--for it seems to be in their
nature that poietic men should be mutually repulsive, and not
succeed and develop one another consecutively--and a period of
expansion and vigour has set in. The general poietic activity has
declined with the development of an efficient and settled social and
political organisation; the statesman has given way to the
politician who has incorporated the wisdom of the statesman with his
own energy, the original genius in arts, letters, science, and every
department of activity to the cultivated and scholarly man. The
kinetic man of wide range, who has assimilated his poietic
predecessor, succeeds with far more readiness than his poietic
contemporary in almost every human activity. The latter is by his
very nature undisciplined and experimental, and is positively
hampered by precedents and good order. With this substitution of the
efficient for the creative type, the State ceases to grow, first in
this department of activity, and then in that, and so long as its
conditions remain the same it remains orderly and efficient. But it
has lost its power of initiative and change; its power of adaptation
is gone, and with that secular change of conditions which is the law
of life, stresses must arise within and without, and bring at last
either through revolution or through defeat the release of fresh
poietic power. The process, of course, is not in its entirety
simple; it may be masked by the fact that one department of activity
may be in its poietic stage, while another is in a phase of
realisation. In the United States of America, for example, during
the nineteenth century, there was great poietic activity in
industrial organisation, and none whatever in political philosophy;
but a careful analysis of the history of any period will show the
rhythm almost invariably present, and the initial problem before the
Utopian philosopher, therefore, was whether this was an inevitable
alternation, whether human progress was necessarily a series of
developments, collapses, and fresh beginnings, after an interval of
disorder, unrest, and often great unhappiness, or whether it was
possible to maintain a secure, happy, and progressive State beside
an unbroken flow of poietic activity.
Clearly they decided upon the second alternative. If, indeed, I am
listening to my Utopian self, then they not only decided the problem
could be solved, but they solved it.
He tells me how they solved it.
A modern Utopia differs from all the older Utopias in its
recognition of the need of poietic activities--one sees this new
consideration creeping into thought for the first time in the
phrasing of Comte's insistence that "spiritual" must precede
political reconstruction, and in his admission of the necessity of
recurrent books and poems about Utopias--and at first this
recognition appears to admit only an added complication to a problem
already unmanageably complex. Comte's separation of the activities
of a State into the spiritual and material does, to a certain
extent, anticipate this opposition of poietic and kinetic, but the
intimate texture of his mind was dull and hard, the conception
slipped from him again, and his suppression of literary activities,
and his imposition of a rule of life upon the poietic types, who are
least able to sustain it, mark how deeply he went under. To a large
extent he followed the older Utopists in assuming that the
philosophical and constructive problem could be done once for all,
and he worked the results out simply under an organised kinetic
government. But what seems to be merely an addition to the
difficulty may in the end turn out to be a simplification, just as
the introduction of a fresh term to an intricate irreducible
mathematical expression will at times bring it to unity.
Now philosophers after my Utopian pattern, who find the ultimate
significance in life in individuality, novelty and the undefined,
would not only regard the poietic element as the most important in
human society, but would perceive quite clearly the impossibility of
its organisation. This, indeed, is simply the application to the
moral and intellectual fabric of the principles already applied in
discussing the State control of reproduction (in Chapter the Sixth,
section 2). But just as in the case of births it was possible for
the State to frame limiting conditions within which individuality
plays more freely than in the void, so the founders of this modern
Utopia believed it possible to define conditions under which every
individual born with poietic gifts should be enabled and encouraged
to give them a full development, in art, philosophy, invention,
or discovery. Certain general conditions presented themselves as
obviously reasonable:--to give every citizen as good an education
as he or she could acquire, for example; to so frame it that the
directed educational process would never at any period occupy the
whole available time of the learner, but would provide throughout
a marginal free leisure with opportunities for developing
idiosyncrasies, and to ensure by the expedient of a minimum wage
for a specified amount of work, that leisure and opportunity did
not cease throughout life.
But, in addition to thus making poietic activities universally
possible, the founders of this modern Utopia sought to supply
incentives, which was an altogether more difficult research, a
problem in its nature irresolvably complex, and admitting of no
systematic solution. But my double told me of a great variety of
devices by which poietic men and women were given honour and
enlarged freedoms, so soon as they produced an earnest of their
quality, and he explained to me how great an ambition they might
There were great systems of laboratories attached to every municipal
force station at which research could be conducted under the most
favourable conditions, and every mine, and, indeed, almost every
great industrial establishment, was saddled under its lease with
similar obligations. So much for poietic ability and research in
physical science. The World State tried the claims of every living
contributor to any materially valuable invention, and paid or
charged a royalty on its use that went partly to him personally, and
partly to the research institution that had produced him. In the
matter of literature and the philosophical and sociological
sciences, every higher educational establishment carried its
studentships, its fellowships, its occasional lectureships, and to
produce a poem, a novel, a speculative work of force or merit, was
to become the object of a generous competition between rival
Universities. In Utopia, any author has the option either of
publishing his works through the public bookseller as a private
speculation, or, if he is of sufficient merit, of accepting a
University endowment and conceding his copyright to the University
press. All sorts of grants in the hands of committees of the most
varied constitution, supplemented these academic resources, and
ensured that no possible contributor to the wide flow of the Utopian
mind slipped into neglect. Apart from those who engaged mainly in
teaching and administration, my double told me that the world-wide
House of Saloman [Footnote: The New Atlantis.] thus created
sustained over a million men. For all the rarity of large fortunes,
therefore, no original man with the desire and capacity for material
or mental experiments went long without resources and the stimulus
of attention, criticism, and rivalry.
"And finally," said my double, "our Rules ensure a considerable
understanding of the importance of poietic activities in the
majority of the samurai, in whose hands as a class all the real
power of the world resides."
"Ah!" said I, "and now we come to the thing that interests me most.
For it is quite clear, in my mind, that these samurai form the real
body of the State. All this time that I have spent going to and fro
in this planet, it has been growing upon me that this order of men
and women, wearing such a uniform as you wear, and with faces
strengthened by discipline and touched with devotion, is the
Utopian reality; but that for them, the whole fabric of these fair
appearances would crumble and tarnish, shrink and shrivel, until at
last, back I should be amidst the grime and disorders of the life
of earth. Tell me about these samurai, who remind me of Plato's
guardians, who look like Knights Templars, who bear a name that
recalls the swordsmen of Japan ... and whose uniform you yourself are
wearing. What are they? Are they an hereditary caste, a specially
educated order, an elected class? For, certainly, this world turns
upon them as a door upon its hinges."
"I follow the Common Rule, as many men do," said my double,
answering my allusion to his uniform almost apologetically. "But my
own work is, in its nature, poietic; there is much dissatisfaction
with our isolation of criminals upon islands, and I am analysing the
psychology of prison officials and criminals in general with a view
to some better scheme. I am supposed to be ingenious with expedients
in this direction. Typically, the samurai are engaged in
administrative work. Practically the whole of the responsible rule
of the world is in their hands; all our head teachers and
disciplinary heads of colleges, our judges, barristers, employers of
labour beyond a certain limit, practising medical men, legislators,
must be samurai, and all the executive committees, and so forth,
that play so large a part in our affairs are drawn by lot
exclusively from them. The order is not hereditary--we know just
enough of biology and the uncertainties of inheritance to know how
silly that would be--and it does not require an early consecration
or novitiate or ceremonies and initiations of that sort. The samurai
are, in fact, volunteers. Any intelligent adult in a reasonably
healthy and efficient state may, at any age after five-and-twenty,
become one of the samurai, and take a hand in the universal
"Provided he follows the Rule."
"Precisely--provided he follows the Rule."
"I have heard the phrase, 'voluntary nobility.'"
"That was the idea of our Founders. They made a noble and privileged
order--open to the whole world. No one could complain of an unjust
exclusion, for the only thing that could exclude from the order was
unwillingness or inability to follow the Rule."
"But the Rule might easily have been made exclusive of special
lineages and races."
"That wasn't their intention. The Rule was planned to exclude the
dull, to be unattractive to the base, and to direct and co-ordinate
all sound citizens of good intent."
"And it has succeeded?"
"As well as anything finite can. Life is still imperfect, still a
thick felt of dissatisfactions and perplexing problems, but most
certainly the quality of all its problems has been raised, and there
has been no war, no grinding poverty, not half the disease, and an
enormous increase of the order, beauty, and resources of life since
the samurai, who began as a private aggressive cult, won their way
to the rule of the world."
"I would like to have that history," I said. "I expect there was
fighting?" He nodded. "But first--tell me about the Rule."
"The Rule aims to exclude the dull and base altogether, to
discipline the impulses and emotions, to develop a moral habit and
sustain a man in periods of stress, fatigue, and temptation, to
produce the maximum co-operation of all men of good intent, and, in
fact, to keep all the samurai in a state of moral and bodily health
and efficiency. It does as much of this as well as it can, but, of
course, like all general propositions, it does not do it in any case
with absolute precision. On the whole, it is so good that most men
who, like myself, are doing poietic work, and who would be just as
well off without obedience, find a satisfaction in adhesion. At
first, in the militant days, it was a trifle hard and uncompromising;
it had rather too strong an appeal to the moral prig and harshly
righteous man, but it has undergone, and still undergoes, revision
and expansion, and every year it becomes a little better adapted to
the need of a general rule of life that all men may try to follow.
We have now a whole literature, with many very fine things in it,
written about the Rule."
He glanced at a little book on his desk, took it up as if to show it
me, then put it down again.
"The Rule consists of three parts; there is the list of things that
qualify, the list of things that must not be done, and the list of
things that must be done. Qualification exacts a little exertion, as
evidence of good faith, and it is designed to weed out the duller
dull and many of the base. Our schooling period ends now about
fourteen, and a small number of boys and girls--about three per
cent.--are set aside then as unteachable, as, in fact, nearly
idiotic; the rest go on to a college or upper school."
"All your population?"
"With that exception."
"Of course. And they pass out of college at eighteen. There are
several different college courses, but one or other must be followed
and a satisfactory examination passed at the end--perhaps ten per
cent. fail--and the Rule requires that the candidate for the samurai
must have passed."
"But a very good man is sometimes an idle schoolboy."
"We admit that. And so anyone who has failed to pass the college
leaving examination may at any time in later life sit for it
again--and again and again. Certain carefully specified things
excuse it altogether."
"That makes it fair. But aren't there people who cannot pass
"People of nervous instability----"
"But they may be people of great though irregular poietic
"Exactly. That is quite possible. But we don't want that sort of
people among our samurai. Passing an examination is a proof of a
certain steadiness of purpose, a certain self-control and
"Of a certain 'ordinariness.'"
"Exactly what is wanted."
"Of course, those others can follow other careers."
"Yes. That's what we want them to do. And, besides these two
educational qualifications, there are two others of a similar kind
of more debateable value. One is practically not in operation now.
Our Founders put it that a candidate for the samurai must possess
what they called a Technique, and, as it operated in the beginning,
he had to hold the qualification for a doctor, for a lawyer, for a
military officer, or an engineer, or teacher, or have painted
acceptable pictures, or written a book, or something of the sort. He
had, in fact, as people say, to 'be something,' or to have 'done
something.' It was a regulation of vague intention even in the
beginning, and it became catholic to the pitch of absurdity. To play
a violin skilfully has been accepted as sufficient for this
qualification. There may have been a reason in the past for this
provision; in those days there were many daughters of prosperous
parents--and even some sons--who did nothing whatever but idle
uninterestingly in the world, and the organisation might have
suffered by their invasion, but that reason has gone now, and the
requirement remains a merely ceremonial requirement. But, on the
other hand, another has developed. Our Founders made a collection of
several volumes, which they called, collectively, the Book of the
Samurai, a compilation of articles and extracts, poems and prose
pieces, which were supposed to embody the idea of the order. It was
to play the part for the samurai that the Bible did for the ancient
Hebrews. To tell you the truth, the stuff was of very unequal merit;
there was a lot of very second-rate rhetoric, and some nearly
namby-pamby verse. There was also included some very obscure verse
and prose that had the trick of seeming wise. But for all such
defects, much of the Book, from the very beginning, was splendid and
inspiring matter. From that time to this, the Book of the Samurai
has been under revision, much has been added, much rejected, and
some deliberately rewritten. Now, there is hardly anything in it
that is not beautiful and perfect in form. The whole range of noble
emotions finds expression there, and all the guiding ideas of our
Modern State. We have recently admitted some terse criticism of its
contents by a man named Henley."
"A man who died a little time ago."
"I knew that man on earth. And he was in Utopia, too! He was a great
red-faced man, with fiery hair, a noisy, intolerant maker of
enemies, with a tender heart--and he was one of the samurai?"
"He defied the Rules."
"He was a great man with wine. He wrote like wine; in our world he
wrote wine; red wine with the light shining through."
"He was on the Committee that revised our Canon. For the revising
and bracing of our Canon is work for poietic as well as kinetic men.
You knew him in your world?"
"I wish I had. But I have seen him. On earth he wrote a thing ... it
"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul...."
"We have that here. All good earthly things are in Utopia also. We
put that in the Canon almost as soon as he died," said my
"We have now a double Canon, a very fine First Canon, and a Second
Canon of work by living men and work of inferior quality, and a
satisfactory knowledge of both of these is the fourth intellectual
qualification for the samurai."
"It must keep a sort of uniformity in your tone of thought."
"The Canon pervades our whole world. As a matter of fact, very much
of it is read and learnt in the schools.... Next to the intellectual
qualification comes the physical, the man must be in sound health,
free from certain foul, avoidable, and demoralising diseases, and in
good training. We reject men who are fat, or thin and flabby, or
whose nerves are shaky--we refer them back to training. And finally
the man or woman must be fully adult."
"Twenty-one? But you said twenty-five!"
"The age has varied. At first it was twenty-five or over; then the
minimum became twenty-five for men and twenty-one for women. Now
there is a feeling that it ought to be raised. We don't want to take
advantage of mere boy and girl emotions--men of my way of thinking,
at any rate, don't--we want to get our samurai with experiences,
with a settled mature conviction. Our hygiene and regimen are
rapidly pushing back old age and death, and keeping men hale and
hearty to eighty and more. There's no need to hurry the young. Let
them have a chance of wine, love, and song; let them feel the bite
of full-bodied desire, and know what devils they have to reckon
"But there is a certain fine sort of youth that knows the
desirability of the better things at nineteen."
"They may keep the Rule at any time--without its privileges. But a
man who breaks the Rule after his adult adhesion at five-and-twenty
is no more in the samurai for ever. Before that age he is free to
break it and repent."
"And now, what is forbidden?"
"We forbid a good deal. Many small pleasures do no great harm, but
we think it well to forbid them, none the less, so that we can weed
out the self-indulgent. We think that a constant resistance to
little seductions is good for a man's quality. At any rate, it shows
that a man is prepared to pay something for his honour and
privileges. We prescribe a regimen of food, forbid tobacco, wine, or
any alcoholic drink, all narcotic drugs----"
"In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to
be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughter-houses. And, in
a population that is all educated, and at about the same level of
physical refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who
will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic question of
meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still
remember, as a boy, the rejoicings over the closing of the last
"You eat fish."
"It isn't a matter of logic. In our barbaric past horrible flayed
carcases of brutes dripping blood, were hung for sale in the public
streets." He shrugged his shoulders.
"They do that still in London--in _my_ world," I said.
He looked again at my laxer, coarser face, and did not say whatever
thought had passed across his mind.
"Originally the samurai were forbidden usury, that is to say the
lending of money at fixed rates of interest. They are still under
that interdiction, but since our commercial code practically
prevents usury altogether, and our law will not recognise contracts
for interest upon private accommodation loans to unprosperous
borrowers, it is now scarcely necessary. The idea of a man growing
richer by mere inaction and at the expense of an impoverishing
debtor, is profoundly distasteful to Utopian ideas, and our State
insists pretty effectually now upon the participation of the lender
in the borrower's risks. This, however, is only one part of a series
of limitations of the same character. It is felt that to buy simply
in order to sell again brings out many unsocial human qualities; it
makes a man seek to enhance profits and falsify values, and so the
samurai are forbidden to buy to sell on their own account or for any
employer save the State, unless some process of manufacture changes
the nature of the commodity (a mere change in bulk or packing does
not suffice), and they are forbidden salesmanship and all its arts.
Consequently they cannot be hotel-keepers, or hotel proprietors, or
hotel shareholders, and a doctor--all practising doctors must be
samurai--cannot sell drugs except as a public servant of the
municipality or the State."
"That, of course, runs counter to all our current terrestrial
ideas," I said. "We are obsessed by the power of money. These rules
will work out as a vow of moderate poverty, and if your samurai are
an order of poor men----"
"They need not be. Samurai who have invented, organised, and
developed new industries, have become rich men, and many men who
have grown rich by brilliant and original trading have subsequently
"But these are exceptional cases. The bulk of your money-making
business must be confined to men who are not samurai. You must have
a class of rich, powerful outsiders----"
"I don't see the evidences of them."
"As a matter of fact, we have such people! There are rich traders,
men who have made discoveries in the economy of distribution, or who
have called attention by intelligent, truthful advertisement to the
possibilities of neglected commodities, for example."
"But aren't they a power?"
"Why should they be?"
"Wealth _is_ power."
I had to explain that phrase.
He protested. "Wealth," he said, "is no sort of power at all unless
you make it one. If it is so in your world it is so by inadvertency.
Wealth is a State-made thing, a convention, the most artificial of
powers. You can, by subtle statesmanship, contrive what it shall buy
and what it shall not. In your world it would seem you have made
leisure, movement, any sort of freedom, life itself, _purchaseable_.
The more fools you! A poor working man with you is a man in
discomfort and fear. No wonder your rich have power. But here a
reasonable leisure, a decent life, is to be had by every man on
easier terms than by selling himself to the rich. And rich as men
are here, there is no private fortune in the whole world that is
more than a little thing beside the wealth of the State. The samurai
control the State and the wealth of the State, and by their vows
they may not avail themselves of any of the coarser pleasures wealth
can still buy. Where, then, is the power of your wealthy man?"
"But, then--where is the incentive----?"
"Oh! a man gets things for himself with wealth--no end of things.
But little or no power over his fellows--unless they are
exceptionally weak or self-indulgent persons."
I reflected. "What else may not the samurai do?"
"Acting, singing, or reciting are forbidden them, though they may
lecture authoritatively or debate. But professional mimicry is not
only held to be undignified in a man or woman, but to weaken and
corrupt the soul; the mind becomes foolishly dependent on applause,
over-skilful in producing tawdry and momentary illusions of
excellence; it is our experience that actors and actresses as a
class are loud, ignoble, and insincere. If they have not such
flamboyant qualities then they are tepid and ineffectual players.
Nor may the samurai do personal services, except in the matter of
medicine or surgery; they may not be barbers, for example, nor inn
waiters, nor boot cleaners. But, nowadays, we have scarcely any
barbers or boot cleaners; men do these things for themselves. Nor
may a man under the Rule be any man's servant, pledged to do
whatever he is told. He may neither be a servant nor keep one; he
must shave and dress and serve himself, carry his own food from the
helper's place to the table, redd his sleeping room, and leave it
"That is all easy enough in a world as ordered as yours. I suppose
no samurai may bet?"
"Absolutely not. He may insure his life and his old age for the
better equipment of his children, or for certain other specified
ends, but that is all his dealings with chance. And he is also
forbidden to play games in public or to watch them being played.
Certain dangerous and hardy sports and exercises are prescribed for
him, but not competitive sports between man and man or side and
side. That lesson was learnt long ago before the coming of the
samurai. Gentlemen of honour, according to the old standards, rode
horses, raced chariots, fought, and played competitive games of
skill, and the dull, cowardly and base came in thousands to admire,
and howl, and bet. The gentlemen of honour degenerated fast enough
into a sort of athletic prostitute, with all the defects, all the
vanity, trickery, and self-assertion of the common actor, and with
even less intelligence. Our Founders made no peace with this
organisation of public sports. They did not spend their lives to
secure for all men and women on the earth freedom, health, and
leisure, in order that they might waste lives in such folly."
"We have those abuses," I said, "but some of our earthly games have
a fine side. There is a game called cricket. It is a fine, generous
"Our boys play that, and men too. But it is thought rather puerile
to give very much time to it; men should have graver interests. It
was undignified and unpleasant for the samurai to play conspicuously
ill, and impossible for them to play so constantly as to keep hand
and eye in training against the man who was fool enough and cheap
enough to become an expert. Cricket, tennis, fives, billiards----.
You will find clubs and a class of men to play all these things in
Utopia, but not the samurai. And they must play their games as
games, not as displays; the price of a privacy for playing cricket,
so that they could charge for admission, would be overwhelmingly
high.... Negroes are often very clever at cricket. For a time, most
of the samurai had their sword-play, but few do those exercises now,
and until about fifty years ago they went out for military training,
a fortnight in every year, marching long distances, sleeping in the
open, carrying provisions, and sham fighting over unfamiliar ground
dotted with disappearing targets. There was a curious inability in
our world to realise that war was really over for good and all."
"And now," I said, "haven't we got very nearly to the end of your
prohibitions? You have forbidden alcohol, drugs, smoking, betting,
and usury, games, trade, servants. But isn't there a vow of
"That is the Rule for your earthly orders?"
"Yes--except, if I remember rightly, for Plato's Guardians."
"There is a Rule of Chastity here--but not of Celibacy. We know
quite clearly that civilisation is an artificial arrangement, and
that all the physical and emotional instincts of man are too strong,
and his natural instinct of restraint too weak, for him to live
easily in the civilised State. Civilisation has developed far more
rapidly than man has modified. Under the unnatural perfection of
security, liberty and abundance our civilisation has attained, the
normal untrained human being is disposed to excess in almost every
direction; he tends to eat too much and too elaborately, to drink
too much, to become lazy faster than his work can be reduced, to
waste his interest upon displays, and to make love too much and too
elaborately. He gets out of training, and concentrates upon egoistic
or erotic broodings. The past history of our race is very largely a
history of social collapses due to demoralisation by indulgences
following security and abundance. In the time of our Founders the
signs of a world-wide epoch of prosperity and relaxation were
plentiful. Both sexes drifted towards sexual excesses, the men
towards sentimental extravagances, imbecile devotions, and the
complication and refinement of physical indulgences; the women
towards those expansions and differentiations of feeling that find
expression in music and costly and distinguished dress. Both sexes
became unstable and promiscuous. The whole world seemed disposed to
do exactly the same thing with its sexual interest as it had done
with its appetite for food and drink--make the most of it."
"Satiety came to help you," I said.
"Destruction may come before satiety. Our Founders organised motives
from all sorts of sources, but I think the chief force to give men
self-control is Pride. Pride may not be the noblest thing in the
soul, but it is the best King there, for all that. They looked to it
to keep a man clean and sound and sane. In this matter, as in all
matters of natural desire, they held no appetite must be glutted, no
appetite must have artificial whets, and also and equally that no
appetite should be starved. A man must come from the table
satisfied, but not replete. And, in the matter of love, a straight
and clean desire for a clean and straight fellow-creature was our
Founders' ideal. They enjoined marriage between equals as the
samurai's duty to the race, and they framed directions of the
precisest sort to prevent that uxorious inseparableness, that
connubiality which will reduce a couple of people to something
jointly less than either. That Canon is too long to tell you now. A
man under the Rule who loves a woman who does not follow it, must
either leave the samurai to marry her, or induce her to accept what
is called the Woman's Rule, which, while it excepts her from the
severer qualifications and disciplines, brings her regimen of life
into a working harmony with his."
"Suppose she breaks the Rule afterwards?"
"He must leave either her or the order."
"There is matter for a novel or so in that."
"There has been matter for hundreds."
"Is the Woman's Rule a sumptuary law as well as a regimen? I
mean--may she dress as she pleases?"
"Not a bit of it," said my double. "Every woman who could command
money used it, we found, to make underbred aggressions on other
women. As men emerged to civilisation, women seemed going back
to savagery--to paint and feathers. But the samurai, both men
and women, and the women under the Lesser Rule also, all have a
particular dress. No difference is made between women under either
the Great or the Lesser Rule. You have seen the men's dress--always
like this I wear. The women may wear the same, either with the hair
cut short or plaited behind them, or they may have a high-waisted
dress of very fine, soft woollen material, with their hair coiled up
"I have seen it," I said. Indeed, nearly all the women had seemed to
be wearing variants of that simple formula. "It seems to me a very
beautiful dress. The other--I'm not used to. But I like it on girls
and slender women."
I had a thought, and added, "Don't they sometimes, well--take a good
deal of care, dressing their hair?"
My double laughed in my eyes. "They do," he said.
"And the Rule?"
"The Rule is never fussy," said my double, still smiling.
"We don't want women to cease to be beautiful, and consciously
beautiful, if you like," he added. "The more real beauty of form and
face we have, the finer our world. But costly sexualised
"I should have thought," I said, "a class of women who traded on
their sex would have arisen, women, I mean, who found an interest
and an advantage in emphasising their individual womanly beauty.
There is no law to prevent it. Surely they would tend to counteract
the severity of costume the Rule dictates."
"There are such women. But for all that the Rule sets the key of
everyday dress. If a woman is possessed by the passion for gorgeous
raiment she usually satisfies it in her own private circle, or with
rare occasional onslaughts upon the public eye. Her everyday mood
and the disposition of most people is against being conspicuous
abroad. And I should say there are little liberties under the Lesser
Rule; a discreet use of fine needlework and embroidery, a wider
choice of materials."
"You have no changing fashions?"
"None. For all that, are not our dresses as beautiful as yours?"
"Our women's dresses are not beautiful at all," I said, forced for a
time towards the mysterious philosophy of dress. "Beauty? That isn't
"Then what are they after?"
"My dear man! What is all my world after?"
I should come to our third talk with a great curiosity to hear of
the last portion of the Rule, of the things that the samurai are
obliged to do.
There would be many precise directions regarding his health, and
rules that would aim at once at health and that constant exercise of
will that makes life good. Save in specified exceptional
circumstances, the samurai must bathe in cold water, and the men
must shave every day; they have the precisest directions in such
matters; the body must be in health, the skin and muscles and nerves
in perfect tone, or the samurai must go to the doctors of the order,
and give implicit obedience to the regimen prescribed. They must
sleep alone at least four nights in five; and they must eat with and
talk to anyone in their fellowship who cares for their conversation
for an hour, at least, at the nearest club-house of the samurai once
on three chosen days in every week. Moreover, they must read aloud
from the Book of the Samurai for at least ten minutes every day.
Every month they must buy and read faithfully through at least one
book that has been published during the past five years, and the
only intervention with private choice in that matter is the
prescription of a certain minimum of length for the monthly book or
books. But the full Rule in these minor compulsory matters is
voluminous and detailed, and it abounds with alternatives. Its aim
is rather to keep before the samurai by a number of sample duties,
as it were, the need of, and some of the chief methods towards
health of body and mind, rather than to provide a comprehensive
rule, and to ensure the maintenance of a community of feeling and
interests among the samurai through habit, intercourse, and a living
contemporary literature. These minor obligations do not earmark more
than an hour in the day. Yet they serve to break down isolations of
sympathy, all sorts of physical and intellectual sluggishness and
the development of unsocial preoccupations of many sorts.
Women samurai who are married, my double told me, must bear
children--if they are to remain married as well as in the
order--before the second period for terminating a childless marriage
is exhausted. I failed to ask for the precise figures from my double
at the time, but I think it is beyond doubt that it is from samurai
mothers of the Greater or Lesser Rule that a very large proportion
of the future population of Utopia will be derived. There is one
liberty accorded to women samurai which is refused to men, and that
is to marry outside the Rule, and women married to men not under the
Rule are also free to become samurai. Here, too, it will be manifest
there is scope for novels and the drama of life. In practice, it
seems that it is only men of great poietic distinction outside the
Rule, or great commercial leaders, who have wives under it. The
tendency of such unions is either to bring the husband under the
Rule, or take the wife out of it. There can be no doubt that these
marriage limitations tend to make the samurai something of an
hereditary class. Their children, as a rule, become samurai. But it
is not an exclusive caste; subject to the most reasonable
qualifications, anyone who sees fit can enter it at any time, and
so, unlike all other privileged castes the world has seen, it
increases relatively to the total population, and may indeed at last
assimilate almost the whole population of the earth.
So much my double told me readily.
But now he came to the heart of all his explanations, to the will
and motives at the centre that made men and women ready to undergo
discipline, to renounce the richness and elaboration of the sensuous
life, to master emotions and control impulses, to keep in the key of
effort while they had abundance about them to rouse and satisfy all
desires, and his exposition was more difficult.
He tried to make his religion clear to me.
The leading principle of the Utopian religion is the repudiation of
the doctrine of original sin; the Utopians hold that man, on the
whole, is good. That is their cardinal belief. Man has pride and
conscience, they hold, that you may refine by training as you refine
his eye and ear; he has remorse and sorrow in his being, coming on
the heels of all inconsequent enjoyments. How can one think of him
as bad? He is religious; religion is as natural to him as lust and
anger, less intense, indeed, but coming with a wide-sweeping
inevitableness as peace comes after all tumults and noises. And in
Utopia they understand this, or, at least, the samurai do, clearly.
They accept Religion as they accept Thirst, as something inseparably
in the mysterious rhythms of life. And just as thirst and pride and
all desires may be perverted in an age of abundant opportunities,
and men may be degraded and wasted by intemperance in drinking, by
display, or by ambition, so too the nobler complex of desires that
constitutes religion may be turned to evil by the dull, the base,
and the careless. Slovenly indulgence in religious inclinations, a
failure to think hard and discriminate as fairly as possible in
religious matters, is just as alien to the men under the Rule as it
would be to drink deeply because they were thirsty, eat until
glutted, evade a bath because the day was chilly, or make love to
any bright-eyed girl who chanced to look pretty in the dusk. Utopia,
which is to have every type of character that one finds on earth,
will have its temples and its priests, just as it will have its
actresses and wine, but the samurai will be forbidden the religion
of dramatically lit altars, organ music, and incense, as distinctly
as they are forbidden the love of painted women, or the consolations
of brandy. And to all the things that are less than religion and
that seek to comprehend it, to cosmogonies and philosophies, to
creeds and formulae, to catechisms and easy explanations, the
attitude of the samurai, the note of the Book of Samurai, will be
distrust. These things, the samurai will say, are part of the
indulgences that should come before a man submits himself to the
Rule; they are like the early gratifications of young men,
experiences to establish renunciation. The samurai will have emerged
above these things.
The theology of the Utopian rulers will be saturated with that same
philosophy of uniqueness, that repudiation of anything beyond
similarities and practical parallelisms, that saturates all their
institutions. They will have analysed exhaustively those fallacies
and assumptions that arise between the One and the Many, that have
troubled philosophy since philosophy began. Just as they will have
escaped that delusive unification of every species under its
specific definition that has dominated earthly reasoning, so they
will have escaped the delusive simplification of God that vitiates
all terrestrial theology. They will hold God to be complex and of an
endless variety of aspects, to be expressed by no universal formula
nor approved in any uniform manner. Just as the language of Utopia
will be a synthesis, even so will its God be. The aspect of God is
different in the measure of every man's individuality, and the
intimate thing of religion must, therefore, exist in human solitude,
between man and God alone. Religion in its quintessence is a
relation between God and man; it is perversion to make it a relation
between man and man, and a man may no more reach God through a
priest than love his wife through a priest. But just as a man in
love may refine the interpretation of his feelings and borrow
expression from the poems and music of poietic men, so an individual
man may at his discretion read books of devotion and hear music that
is in harmony with his inchoate feelings. Many of the samurai,
therefore, will set themselves private regimens that will help their
secret religious life, will pray habitually, and read books of
devotion, but with these things the Rule of the order will have
nothing to do.
Clearly the God of the samurai is a transcendental and mystical God.
So far as the samurai have a purpose in common in maintaining the
State, and the order and progress of the world, so far, by their
discipline and denial, by their public work and effort, they worship
God together. But the fount of motives lies in the individual life,
it lies in silent and deliberate reflections, and at this, the most
striking of all the rules of the samurai aims. For seven consecutive
days in the year, at least, each man or woman under the Rule must go
right out of all the life of man into some wild and solitary place,
must speak to no man or woman, and have no sort of intercourse with
mankind. They must go bookless and weaponless, without pen or paper,
or money. Provisions must be taken for the period of the journey, a
rug or sleeping sack--for they must sleep under the open sky--but
no means of making a fire. They may study maps beforehand to guide
them, showing any difficulties and dangers in the journey, but
they may not carry such helps. They must not go by beaten ways or
wherever there are inhabited houses, but into the bare, quiet places
of the globe--the regions set apart for them.
This discipline, my double said, was invented to secure a certain
stoutness of heart and body in the members of the order, which
otherwise might have lain open to too many timorous, merely
abstemious, men and women. Many things had been suggested, swordplay
and tests that verged on torture, climbing in giddy places and the
like, before this was chosen. Partly, it is to ensure good training
and sturdiness of body and mind, but partly, also, it is to draw
their minds for a space from the insistent details of life, from the
intricate arguments and the fretting effort to work, from personal
quarrels and personal affections, and the things of the heated room.
Out they must go, clean out of the world.
Certain great areas are set apart for these yearly pilgrimages
beyond the securities of the State. There are thousands of square
miles of sandy desert in Africa and Asia set apart; much of the
Arctic and Antarctic circles; vast areas of mountain land and frozen
marsh; secluded reserves of forest, and innumerable unfrequented
lines upon the sea. Some are dangerous and laborious routes; some
merely desolate; and there are even some sea journeys that one may
take in the halcyon days as one drifts through a dream. Upon the
seas one must go in a little undecked sailing boat, that may be
rowed in a calm; all the other journeys one must do afoot, none
aiding. There are, about all these desert regions and along most
coasts, little offices at which the samurai says good-bye to the
world of men, and at which they arrive after their minimum time of
silence is overpast. For the intervening days they must be alone
with Nature, necessity, and their own thoughts.
"It is good?" I said.
"It is good," my double answered. "We civilised men go back to the
stark Mother that so many of us would have forgotten were it not for
this Rule. And one thinks.... Only two weeks ago I did my journey
for the year. I went with my gear by sea to Tromso, and then inland
to a starting-place, and took my ice-axe and rucksack, and said
good-bye to the world. I crossed over four glaciers; I climbed three
high mountain passes, and slept on moss in desolate valleys. I saw
no human being for seven days. Then I came down through pine woods
to the head of a road that runs to the Baltic shore. Altogether it
was thirteen days before I reported myself again, and had speech
with fellow creatures."
"And the women do this?"
"The women who are truly samurai--yes. Equally with the men. Unless
the coming of children intervenes."
I asked him how it had seemed to him, and what he thought about
during the journey.
"There is always a sense of effort for me," he said, "when I leave
the world at the outset of the journey. I turn back again and again,
and look at the little office as I go up my mountain side. The first
day and night I'm a little disposed to shirk the job--every year
it's the same--a little disposed, for example, to sling my pack from
my back, and sit down, and go through its contents, and make sure
I've got all my equipment."
"There's no chance of anyone overtaking you?"
"Two men mustn't start from the same office on the same route within
six hours of each other. If they come within sight of each other,
they must shun an encounter, and make no sign--unless life is in
danger. All that is arranged beforehand."
"It would be, of course. Go on telling me of your journey."
"I dread the night. I dread discomfort and bad weather. I only begin
to brace up after the second day."
"Don't you worry about losing your way?"
"No. There are cairns and skyline signs. If it wasn't for that, of
course we should be worrying with maps the whole time. But I'm only
sure of being a man after the second night, and sure of my power to
"Then one begins to get into it. The first two days one is apt to
have the events of one's journey, little incidents of travel, and
thoughts of one's work and affairs, rising and fading and coming
again; but then the perspectives begin. I don't sleep much at nights
on these journeys; I lie awake and stare at the stars. About dawn,
perhaps, and in the morning sunshine, I sleep! The nights this last
time were very short, never more than twilight, and I saw the glow
of the sun always, just over the edge of the world. But I had chosen
the days of the new moon, so that I could have a glimpse of the
stars.... Years ago, I went from the Nile across the Libyan Desert
east, and then the stars--the stars in the later days of that
journey--brought me near weeping.... You begin to feel alone on the
third day, when you find yourself out on some shining snowfield, and
nothing of mankind visible in the whole world save one landmark, one
remote thin red triangle of iron, perhaps, in the saddle of the
ridge against the sky. All this busy world that has done so much and
so marvellously, and is still so little--you see it little as it
is--and far off. All day long you go and the night comes, and it
might be another planet. Then, in the quiet, waking hours, one
thinks of one's self and the great external things, of space and
eternity, and what one means by God."
"You think of death?"
"Not of my own. But when I go among snows and desolations--and
usually I take my pilgrimage in mountains or the north--I think very
much of the Night of this World--the time when our sun will be red
and dull, and air and water will lie frozen together in a common
snowfield where now the forests of the tropics are steaming.... I
think very much of that, and whether it is indeed God's purpose that
our kind should end, and the cities we have built, the books we have
written, all that we have given substance and a form, should lie
dead beneath the snows."
"You don't believe that?"
"No. But if it is not so----. I went threading my way among gorges
and precipices, with my poor brain dreaming of what the alternative
should be, with my imagination straining and failing. Yet, in those
high airs and in such solitude, a kind of exaltation comes to
men.... I remember that one night I sat up and told the rascal stars
very earnestly how they should not escape us in the end."
He glanced at me for a moment as though he doubted I should
"One becomes a personification up there," he said. "One becomes the
ambassador of mankind to the outer world.
"There is time to think over a lot of things. One puts one's self
and one's ambition in a new pair of scales....
"Then there are hours when one is just exploring the wilderness like
a child. Sometimes perhaps one gets a glimpse from some precipice
edge of the plains far away, and houses and roadways, and remembers
there is still a busy world of men. And at last one turns one's feet
down some slope, some gorge that leads back. You come down, perhaps,
into a pine forest, and hear that queer clatter reindeer make--and
then, it may be, see a herdsman very far away, watching you. You
wear your pilgrim's badge, and he makes no sign of seeing
"You know, after these solitudes, I feel just the same queer
disinclination to go back to the world of men that I feel when I
have to leave it. I think of dusty roads and hot valleys, and being
looked at by many people. I think of the trouble of working with
colleagues and opponents. This last journey I outstayed my time,
camping in the pine woods for six days. Then my thoughts came round
to my proper work again. I got keen to go on with it, and so I came
back into the world. You come back physically clean--as though you
had had your arteries and veins washed out. And your brain has been
cleaned, too.... I shall stick to the mountains now until I am old,
and then I shall sail a boat in Polynesia. That is what so many old
men do. Only last year one of the great leaders of the samurai--a
white-haired man, who followed the Rule in spite of his one hundred
and eleven years--was found dead in his boat far away from any land,
far to the south, lying like a child asleep...."
"That's better than a tumbled bed," said I, "and some boy of a
doctor jabbing you with injections, and distressful people hovering
"Yes," said my double; "in Utopia we who are samurai die better than
that.... Is that how your great men die?"
It came to me suddenly as very strange that, even as we sat and
talked, across deserted seas, on burning sands, through the still
aisles of forests, and in all the high and lonely places of the
world, beyond the margin where the ways and houses go, solitary men
and women sailed alone or marched alone, or clambered--quiet,
resolute exiles; they stood alone amidst wildernesses of ice, on the
precipitous banks of roaring torrents, in monstrous caverns, or
steering a tossing boat in the little circle of the horizon amidst
the tumbled, incessant sea, all in their several ways communing with
the emptiness, the enigmatic spaces and silences, the winds and
torrents and soulless forces that lie about the lit and ordered life
I saw more clearly now something I had seen dimly already, in the
bearing and the faces of this Utopian chivalry, a faint persistent
tinge of detachment from the immediate heats and hurries, the little
graces and delights, the tensions and stimulations of the daily
world. It pleased me strangely to think of this steadfast yearly
pilgrimage of solitude, and how near men might come then to the high
distances of God.
After that I remember we fell talking of the discipline of the Rule,
of the Courts that try breaches of it, and interpret doubtful
cases--for, though a man may resign with due notice and be free
after a certain time to rejoin again, one deliberate breach may
exclude a man for ever--of the system of law that has grown up about
such trials, and of the triennial council that revises and alters
the Rule. From that we passed to the discussion of the general
constitution of this World State. Practically all political power
vests in the samurai. Not only are they the only administrators,
lawyers, practising doctors, and public officials of almost all
kinds, but they are the only voters. Yet, by a curious exception,
the supreme legislative assembly must have one-tenth, and may have
one-half of its members outside the order, because, it is alleged,
there is a sort of wisdom that comes of sin and laxness, which is
necessary to the perfect ruling of life. My double quoted me a verse
from the Canon on this matter that my unfortunate verbal memory did
not retain, but it was in the nature of a prayer to save the world
from "unfermented men." It would seem that Aristotle's idea of a
rotation of rulers, an idea that crops up again in Harrington's
Oceana, that first Utopia of "the sovereign people" (a Utopia that,
through Danton's readings in English, played a disastrous part in
the French Revolution), gets a little respect in Utopia. The
tendency is to give a practically permanent tenure to good men.
Every ruler and official, it is true, is put on his trial every
three years before a jury drawn by lot, according to the range of
his activities, either from the samurai of his municipal area or
from the general catalogue of the samurai, but the business of this
jury is merely to decide whether to continue him in office or order
a new election. In the majority of cases the verdict is
continuation. Even if it is not so the official may still appear as
a candidate before the second and separate jury which fills the
My double mentioned a few scattered details of the electoral
methods, but as at that time I believed we were to have a number of
further conversations, I did not exhaust my curiosities upon this
subject. Indeed, I was more than a little preoccupied and
inattentive. The religion of the samurai was after my heart, and it
had taken hold of me very strongly.... But presently I fell
questioning him upon the complications that arise in the Modern
Utopia through the differences between the races of men, and found
my attention returning. But the matter of that discussion I shall
put apart into a separate chapter. In the end we came back to the
particulars of this great Rule of Life that any man desiring of
joining the samurai must follow.
I remember how, after our third bout of talking, I walked back
through the streets of Utopian London to rejoin the botanist at our
My double lived in an apartment in a great building--I should judge
about where, in our London, the Tate Gallery squats, and, as the day
was fine, and I had no reason for hurry, I went not by the covered
mechanical way, but on foot along the broad, tree-set terraces that
follow the river on either side.
It was afternoon, and the mellow Thames Valley sunlight, warm and
gentle, lit a clean and gracious world. There were many people
abroad, going to and fro, unhurrying, but not aimless, and I watched
them so attentively that were you to ask me for the most elementary
details of the buildings and terraces that lay back on either bank,
or of the pinnacles and towers and parapets that laced the sky, I
could not tell you them. But of the people I could tell a great
No Utopians wear black, and for all the frequency of the samurai
uniform along the London ways the general effect is of a
gaily-coloured population. You never see anyone noticeably ragged or
dirty; the police, who answer questions and keep order (and are
quite distinct from the organisation for the pursuit of criminals)
see to that; and shabby people are very infrequent. People who want
to save money for other purposes, or who do not want much bother
with their clothing, seem to wear costumes of rough woven cloth,
dyed an unobtrusive brown or green, over fine woollen underclothing,
and so achieve a decent comfort in its simplest form. Others outside
the Rule of the samurai range the spectrum for colour, and have
every variety of texture; the colours attained by the Utopian dyers
seem to me to be fuller and purer than the common range of stuffs on
earth; and the subtle folding of the woollen materials witness that
Utopian Bradford is no whit behind her earthly sister. White is
extraordinarily frequent; white woollen tunics and robes into which
are woven bands of brilliant colour, abound. Often these ape the cut
and purple edge that distinguishes the samurai. In Utopian London
the air is as clear and less dusty than it is among high mountains;
the roads are made of unbroken surfaces, and not of friable earth;
all heating is done by electricity, and no coal ever enters the
town; there are no horses or dogs, and so there is not a suspicion
of smoke and scarcely a particle of any sort of dirt to render white
The radiated influence of the uniform of the samurai has been to
keep costume simple, and this, perhaps, emphasises the general
effect of vigorous health, of shapely bodies. Everyone is well grown
and well nourished; everyone seems in good condition; everyone walks
well, and has that clearness of eye that comes with cleanness of
blood. In London I am apt to consider myself of a passable size and
carriage; here I feel small and mean-looking. The faint suspicions
of spinal curvatures, skew feet, unequal legs, and ill-grown bones,
that haunt one in a London crowd, the plain intimations--in yellow
faces, puffy faces, spotted and irregular complexions, in nervous
movements and coughs and colds--of bad habits and an incompetent or
disregarded medical profession, do not appear here. I notice few old
people, but there seems to be a greater proportion of men and women
at or near the prime of life.
I hang upon that. I have seen one or two fat people here--they are
all the more noticeable because they are rare. But wrinkled age?
Have I yet in Utopia set eyes on a bald head?
The Utopians have brought a sounder physiological science than ours
to bear upon regimen. People know better what to do and what to
avoid, how to foresee and forestall coming trouble, and how to evade
and suppress the subtle poisons that blunt the edge of sensation.
They have put off the years of decay. They keep their teeth, they
keep their digestions, they ward off gout and rheumatism, neuralgia
and influenza and all those cognate decays that bend and wrinkle men
and women in the middle years of existence. They have extended the
level years far into the seventies, and age, when it comes, comes
swiftly and easily. The feverish hurry of our earth, the decay that
begins before growth has ceased, is replaced by a ripe prolonged
maturity. This modern Utopia is an adult world. The flushed romance,
the predominant eroticisms, the adventurous uncertainty of a world
in which youth prevails, gives place here to a grave deliberation,
to a fuller and more powerful emotion, to a broader handling of
Yet youth is here.
Amidst the men whose faces have been made fine by thought and
steadfast living, among the serene-eyed women, comes youth,
gaily-coloured, buoyantly healthy, with challenging eyes, with fresh
and eager face....
For everyone in Utopia who is sane enough to benefit, study and
training last until twenty; then comes the travel year, and many are
still students until twenty-four or twenty-five. Most are still, in
a sense, students throughout life, but it is thought that, unless
responsible action is begun in some form in the early twenties, will
undergoes a partial atrophy. But the full swing of adult life is
hardly attained until thirty is reached. Men marry before the middle
thirties, and the women rather earlier, few are mothers before
five-and-twenty. The majority of those who become samurai do so
between twenty-seven and thirty-five. And, between seventeen and
thirty, the Utopians have their dealings with love, and the play and
excitement of love is a chief interest in life. Much freedom of act
is allowed them so that their wills may grow freely. For the most
part they end mated, and love gives place to some special and more
enduring interest, though, indeed, there is love between older men
and fresh girls, and between youths and maturer women. It is in
these most graceful and beautiful years of life that such freedoms
of dress as the atmosphere of Utopia permits are to be seen, and the
crude bright will and imagination of youth peeps out in ornament and
Figures come into my sight and possess me for a moment and pass, and
give place to others; there comes a dusky little Jewess, red-lipped
and amber-clad, with a deep crimson flower--I know not whether real
or sham--in the dull black of her hair. She passes me with an
unconscious disdain; and then I am looking at a brightly-smiling,
blue-eyed girl, tall, ruddy, and freckled warmly, clad like a stage
Rosalind, and talking gaily to a fair young man, a novice under the
Rule. A red-haired mother under the Lesser Rule goes by, green-gowned,
with dark green straps crossing between her breasts, and her two
shock-headed children, bare-legged and lightly shod, tug at her
hands on either side. Then a grave man in a long, fur-trimmed robe,
a merchant, maybe, debates some serious matter with a white-tunicked
clerk. And the clerk's face----? I turn to mark the straight,
blue-black hair. The man must be Chinese....
Then come two short-bearded men in careless indigo blue raiment,
both of them convulsed with laughter--men outside the Rule, who
practise, perhaps, some art--and then one of the samurai, in
cheerful altercation with a blue-robed girl of eight. "But you
_could_ have come back yesterday, Dadda," she persists. He is deeply
sunburnt, and suddenly there passes before my mind the picture of a
snowy mountain waste at night-fall and a solitary small figure under
When I come back to the present thing again, my eye is caught
at once by a young negro, carrying books in his hand, a
prosperous-looking, self-respecting young negro, in a trimly-cut
coat of purple-blue and silver.
I am reminded of what my double said to me of race.