« ElőzőTovább »
to read what Englishmen have written about America, — from the days long gone when they used to venture across the Atlantic to enlighten us with lectures in words of one syllable, to the days of Dickens, and how Britishers have gone sniffing their way through America, finding everything wrong because un-English, — it is a wonder there has not been war every five years. This attitude of supercilious and thinly veiled contempt has continued until it has hardened into a habit. Nor could we recall any books written in America in ridicule of England. Meanwhile, our diplomatic atrocities have been outrageous. Such antics and attitudes, we agreed, would make friendship impossible between individuals, and they demand an improvement in manners, as well as in morals, on both sides. In the midst of the question whether WattsDunton saved Swinburne or extinguished him, there was an air-raid warning — and so we reached no conclusion.
July 27. — Received the following letter from a City Temple boy in the trenches: —
Somewhere In Hell, July 16. Dear Preacher,—
The luck is all on your side; you still believe in things. Good for you. It is topping, if one can do it. But war is such a devil's nursery. I got knocked over, but I am up and at it again. I'm tough. They started toughening me the first day. My bayonet instructor was an ex-pug, just the man to develop one's innate chivalry. They hung out the bunting and gave me a big send-off, when we came out here to scatter the Hun's guts. Forgive me writing so. I know you will forgive me, -but who will forgive God? Not I — not I! This war makes me hate God. I don't know whether He is the God of battles and enjoys the show, as He is said to have done long ago. ... If so, there are smoking holocausts enough to please Him in No Man's Land. But, anyway, He let it happen! Omnipotent! and — He let it hap
pen! Omniscient! Knew it in advance, and let it happen! I hate Him. You are kinder to me than God has been. Good-bye.
The religious reactions of men under the pressure and horror of war are often terrifying. The general rule — to which, of course, there are many exceptions both ways — is that those who go in pious, with a kind of traditional piety, come out hard and indifferent, and sometimes militantly skeptical; while those who were careless emerge deeply serious — religious, but hardly Christian, with a primitive pantheism mixed with fatalism. Many, to be sure, are confirmed in a mood such as haunts the stories of Conrad, in which the good and bad alike sink into a' vast indifference,' or the mood of Hardy, in whom pessimism is mitigated by pity. Others fall back upon the 'hard, unyielding despair' of Russell, and their heroism fills me with awe. Huxley, I know, thought the great Force that rules the universe a force to be fought, and he was ready to fight it. It may be magnificent, but it is not war. The odds are so uneven, the fight so futile. And still others have learned, at last, the meaning of the Cross.
(In the interval between these two entries, I went along the war-front, as a guest of the British Government; and after spending some time speaking to the troops, returned to America. I discovered an amazing America, the like of which no one had ever seen, or even imagined, before. Everywhere one heard the sound of marching, marching, marching; and I, who had just seen what they were marching into, watched it all with an infinite ache in my heart. Hardly less terrifying was the blend of alarm, anger, hate, knight-errantry, hysteria, idealism, cynicism, moralistic fervor and plain bafflement, which made up the war-mood of America. One felt the altruism and inhumanity, the sincerity and sheer brutishness lurking under all our law and order, long sleeked over by prosperity and ease, until we were scarcely aware of it. From New York to Iowa, from Texas to Boston I went to and fro, telling our people what the war was like; after which I returned to England.)
October 24. — Joined a group of Free Church ministers at a private breakfast given by the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street. It was the most extraordinary function I have ever attended, as much for its guests as for its host. Mr. Lloyd George spoke to us for more than an hour, and we saw him at close quarters in the intimacy of a selfrevelation most disarming. What a way he has of saying, by the lifting of an eyebrow, by the shrug of the shoulders, by a gesture in a pause, volumes more than his words tell. He feels that his Free Church brethren are estranged, and he wished to explain matters and set himself right. His address was very adroit, but one felt a suggestion of cunning even in his candor, despite a winning smile. He talked like a man in a cage, telling how he was unable to do many things he would like to do. As he spoke, one realized the enormous difficulties of a man in his place, — the pull and tug of diverse interests, — his incredible burdens, and the vast issues with which he must deal. No wonder time has powdered his hair almost white, and cut deep lines in his face. Behind him hung a full-length painting of Pitt, and I thought of the two together, each leading his country in an hour of supreme crisis. I thought him worthy of such company, —" though hardly in the Gladstone tradition, — a man of ideas rather than of principles, with more of the mysterious force of genius than either Pitt or Peel, but lacking something of the eternal fascination of Disraeli. Such men are usually regarded as half-charlatan and halfprophet, and the Prime Minister does not escape that estimate.
At the close of the address there was a disposition to heckle the Prime Min
ister, during which he learned that Nonconformity had been estranged to some extent — and he also learned why. One of the urgent questions before the country is an actual choice between Bread and Beer, and the Government has been unable, apparently, to decide. The food-hogging brewery interests seem to be sovereign, and the Prime Minister is tied — too willingly, perhaps. When asked why, unlike President Wilson, he avoids the use of the word God in his addresses, I thought his reply neat. It is done deliberately, he said, lest he seem to come into competition with the blasphemous mouthings of the German Emperor. His final plea was that, as Britain must bear the brunt of the war until America is ready, — as Russia bore it until Britain was ready, — she must muster all her courage, her patience, and her moral fortitude.
As I left the house, a group of lynxeyed, sleuth-like press-men — good fellows, all — waylaid and assailed me for some hint of the meaning of such a gathering; but I was dumb. They were disappointed, saying that 'after a minister has had breakfast with the Prime Minister he ought to be a well-primed minister'; but as I declined to be pumped, they let me go. When the supply of truth is not equal to the demand, the temptation is to manufacture, and speculations in the afternoon papers as to the significance of the breakfast were amazing. It was called 'A Parson's Peace,' in which the Prime Minister had called a prayer-meeting to patch up a peace with the enemy — which is about as near as some journals ever arrive at the truth.
November 6. — Under cover of a dense fog—a dirty apron which Mother Nature flung over us to hide us from the air-raiders — I went down last night into Essex, to preach in a village chapel for a brother who is discouraged in his work. I found the chapel hidden away on a back street, telling of a time when these little altars of faith and liberty dared not show themselves on the main street of a town. It was named Bethesda, bringing to mind the words of Disraeli, in Sybil, where he speaks of' little plain buildings of pale brick, with names painted on them of Zion, Bethel, Bethesda; names of a distant land, and the language of a persecuted and ancient race; yet such is the mysterious power of their divine quality, breathing consolation in the nineteenth century to the harassed forms and harrowed souls of a Saxon peasantry.' Nor is that all. They have been the permanent fountains of religious life on this island; and, in any grand reunion of the Church hereafter to be realized, their faith, their patience, their heroic tenacity to principle must be conserved, else something precious will perish. Tribute is paid to the folk of the Mayflower for their daring of adventure in facing an unknown continent for the right to worship; but no less heroic were the men who remained in the homeland, fighting, suffering, and waiting for the freedom of faith and the liberty of prayer.
November 10. — So, at last, it is decided that we are to be rationed as to bread, sugar, and fats of all kinds, and everybody must have a coupon. It is a democratic arrangement, since all will share equally as long as the supply lasts. Unfortunately the Truth has been rationed for a long time, and no coupons are to be had. It is a war fought in the dark by a people fed on lies. One recalls the line in the Iliad, which might have been written this morning: 'We mortals hear only the news, and know nothing at all.' No one wishes to publish information which would be of aid to the enemy; but that obvious precaution is made the convenient cover of every kind of stupidity and inefficiency.
Propaganda is the most terrible weapon so far developed by the war. It is worse than poison gas. If the wind is in the right direction, gas may kill a few and injure others; but the possibilities of manipulating the public mind, by withholding or discoloring the facts, are appalling. One is so helpless in face of it. No one can think intelligently without knowing the facts; and if the facts are controlled by interested men, the very idea of democracy is destroyed and becomes a farce. This, and the prostitution of parliamentary government in every democratic land, are the two dangers of a political kind most to be dreaded.
November 17. — Dean Inge, of St. Paul's, is one of the greatest minds on this island, and an effective preacher if one forgets the manner and attends to the matter of his discourse. An aristocrat by temper, he is a pessimist in philosophy and a Christian mystic in faith — what a combination! If not actually a pessimist, he is at least a Cassandra, and we need one such prophet, if no more, in every generation. No wonder he won the title of' the gloomy Dean.' Without wasting a word, in a style as incisive as his thought, — clear, keen-cutting, — he sets forth the truth as he sees it, careless as to whether it is received or not. There is no unction in his preaching; no pathos. It is cold intellect, with never a touch of tenderness. Nor is he the first gloomy Dean of St. Paul's. There was Donne, a mighty preacher in his day, though known now chiefly as a poet, whom Walton described as 'enticing others by a sacred art and courtship to amend their lives.' Yet surely the theology of Donne was terrifying rather than enticing. There is very little of the poet in Dean Inge, and none of the dismal theology of Donne, who was haunted equally by the terrors of hell and by the horrors of physical decay in death.
December 1. — The British Army is before Jerusalem! What an item of news, half dream-like in its remoteness, half romantic in its reality. What echoes it awakens in our hearts, evoking we know not how many memories of the old, high, holy legend of the world! Often captured, often destroyed, that gray old city still stands, like the faith of which it is the emblem, because it is founded upon a rock. If Rome is the Eternal City, Jerusalem is the City of the Eternal. Four cities may be said to stand out in the story of man as centres of the highest life of the race, and about them are gathered the vastest accumulations of history and of legend: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and London! But
no city can have the same place in the spiritual geography of mankind that Jerusalem has. For four thousand years it has been an altar and a confessional of the race. Religiously, it is the capital of the world, if only because Jesus walked in it and wept over it. O Jerusalem, if we forget thee, Athens fails, Rome fails, London fails! Without the faith and vision that burned in the city on Mount Moriah, our race will lose its way in the dim country of this world. Berlin does not mean much. Jerusalem means everything. If only we could agree that, hereafter, when we have disagreements, we will make our way to the ancient City of God, and arbitrate them!
BY HANS COUDENHOVE
Old President Kruger is reported to have said that the white man who understands a native has not yet been born. C. J. Rhodes used to call the natives 'those poor children'; but he was not, like Kruger, born and brought up among them, and to him, on his towering height, they were, no doubt, only those poor children. To one who is in incessant contact with them, without being officially a master, they will, although often reminding him of children, appear vastly different in essence. Natives are often childlike, but much oftener childish, in the expression of merriment and in their entertainments; and sometimes they appear to bring into
their intercourse with the white man who has gained — or thinks he has gained — their confidence the trustfulness of children. But these are about all the points of resemblance between the two.
There are, however, a great many points of resemblance between natives and Europeans, irrespective of age; and these are the more striking by contrast with the many points of difference, But it is in the character of the native himself that the greatest contrasts occur. As regards taste, for instance: one and the same individual will on one occasion show remarkable artistic instinct, and on another he will exhibit the greatest delight in things which, to a white man, appear both inartistic and ugly. In many tribes men and women are fond of decorating their heads with flowers, and in doing so show a just appreciation of the effects of form and color. And yet the very men and women who display exquisite judgment when they adorn themselves with the means which Nature has put at their disposal, forfeit all their artistic sense the moment they come in touch with European wearing apparel, and walk about, objects of abject ridicule, with flayed tropical helmets, in torn coats and trousers either three times too large or three times too small for their size. I once tore off the worn black-cloth cover of my diary. When my cook appeared before me on the following morning, he was wearing it round his neck as an ornament.
Years ago, when I was living in Taveta, in British East Africa, Malikanoi, one of the two paramount chiefs of the Wataveta, wore a shock of unusually long, unkempt hair. He was supposed to be a magician, and his subjects believed that his occult powers, like those of Samson as an athlete, lay in his hair. As he dressed, besides, in nondescript old discolored European garments, his appearance could not be called either prepossessing or dignified. As the time came near when his son — a splendid lad, who, at the age of sixteen, had killed a lion single-handed with his spear — was to come of ago, Malikanoi announced that, in honor of the occasion, he would shave off his hair.
I was invited to the festivities as a guest; and, in consequence, on the day appointed, I repaired to the Taveta forest, where the dances took place. There, sitting on an old deck-chair, I found the chief; and my surprise was as great as must have been, in Mr. Locke's novel, that of Ephraim's guests, when Clemen
tina Wing made her appearance in a hundred-guinea gown and diamonds. His head and face were clean-shaven, and I noticed for the first time the Caesarean outline of his clear-cut profile. He was wrapped in the ample folds of a toga, dyed the color of amethyst, and he had wound round his bald head a single string of glass beads of the same color as the toga. He presented a perfect picture, and I said to myself that the mere imagining of such a combination as the toga and the glass beads of one and the same color indicated profound artistic feeling. Yet for years that man had walked about looking like a buffoon.
Another field where the contradictions in a negro's aesthetic notions are very apparent is that of the dances. Some are very beautiful, and others very ugly; yet the performers themselves do not appear to see any difference. The Wakinga of the Livingstone Range, for instance, have a dance with solos which might have been, and perhaps — who knows? — was performed before the shrine of some Greek deity in the days of Pericles. Nothing more beautiful, from a choregraphic point of view, could be imagined. And yet these same people have another dance — I regret to say it is the more popular of the two — which, so far as ugliness goes, baffles description. After a time, I forbade it in my camp, where small groups were frequently performing it. My wish was respected, but, as a punishment, I suppose, for my want of taste, the other, the beautiful dance, was never again executed in my presence, although I repeatedly asked for it.
It is the same with their songs. Many natives, as is well known, have splendid voices, mostly baritone and tenor, rarely bass. Some of their choruses are a pleasure to listen to. But they will, in