A Few Hours in a Far-Off Age
a Few Hours
Mrs. H. A. DUGDALE.
MR. JUSTICE HIGINBOTHAM
(Judge of the Supreme Court in the Colony of Victoria)
I VERY GRATEFULLY DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK;
IN EARNEST ADMIRATION FOR THE BRAVE ATTACKS MADE
BY THAT GENTLEMAN UPON WHAT HAS BEEN,
DURING ALL KNOWN AGE,
THE GREATEST OBSTACLE TO HUMAN ADVANCEMENT;
THE MOST IRRATIONAL,
FIERCEST AND MOST POWERFUL OF OUR WORLD'S MONSTERS—
THE ONLY DEVIL—MALE IGNORANCE.
H. A. DUGDALE.
If you are under eighteen years old, close this book. It would not interest you.
To those past that age I say: Whatever are your opinions, read it through without shock or start. Then judge calmly and conscientiously my comments on the truths so mysteriously taught me. You will see—provided you have a grain of common sense—that I attack principles, not individuals. I have no desire to hurt quadruped or biped; not even those who have injured me past world-healing.
If you possess any—the smallest amount—of real reverence, you will understand the deeply reverent feeling with which all herein is written.
H. A. Dugdale.
A FEW HOURS IN A FAR-OFF AGE.
—Progress of Culture, RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
—Conduct of Life, RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
I STAND in the doorway of an immense building, which appears to be devoted to the display of antiquities. Many people are entering, although the morning is young. A magnificent scene is before me.
At last I see a city in which are combined grandeur, cleanliness, order and picturesque loveliness. Between this one and those of the nineteenth century exists a difference as great, if not greater, than between the latter and the loathsome lairs of our cannibal progenitors reeking with refuse of human remains. My mind power has so widened that I know more than can be here told.
The buildings are truly grand works of art. All stand on noble columns of great size and strength. I cannot recognize what we call "streets." All structures are in clusters, though each house is separate. Very few prominent angles, only sufficient to make the curves more beautiful. Between the clusters are large distances, occupied in their centres by statuary, trees and scented shrubs. Many prettily-designed fountains are throwing their precious jewels into the rays a glorious morning sun. No smoke-disfigured architecture. No stream of poisonous filth, running with ferocious delight on its deathly errand. No besotted-looking creatures offending passers-by with debasing language. No jails. No knots of babbling men standing around entrances to public-houses, vieing with each other for destruction of intelligence. Indeed, such things so pitiable could not be for here are no such houses. No ill-fed, barefooted, unclean children, learning the probationary steps to scoundrelism. No suffering animals, urged by cruelty to overtax their strength. No decrepitude in age. No careworn faces. All are lovely with the light of knowledge—knowledge not in the capabilities of our lower natures, but towards which we are surely tending.
I know these graceful beings are humans—yet how they differ from my own poor self, and all others of our era. They appear luminous with integrity and benevolence. Both sexes are bewitchingly graceful. Women are rather taller than the generality of the present generation, but the men are not such fine animals as those of my century, though far nobler looking.
Their ambition has evidently been to attain efficiency in intellect and benignity in preference to the retention of tiger muscle. Another link to the brute fast disappearing.
My increased comprehension tells me the inner life of these persons is as noble as the expression of their countenances. But this is very many thousands of years hence, as I now plainly perceive by the model of a racehorse placed amongst other models of extinct mammals in the spacious court-yard below where I stand.
Vehicles of different sizes are passing swiftly on the ground and in the air. Some disappear through large openings in upper stories of enormous buildings.
I hear the cheerful hum of busy life, but it seems too minute a sound compared with all that movement. Ah, our vanity in the present renders it extremely difficult to hear the sounds from future ages, or see what is there passing without deeming it illusion. Yet I distinctly feel some of these beings touch my hand and nerve me as they pass into the great hall.
Here are three mounting the stairs. A lady about fifty years of age with her only children—a daughter between eighteen and nineteen, and son perhaps two years younger. It is very fortunate they are unable to see the staring habits of our century, for they are all so beautiful in form and mind I cannot remove my eyes from them. Every trace of wild-beast treachery and cruelty obliterated. Grand creatures are these! Benevolent, courageous and intelligent as only very numerous generations of truth loving ancestors could make them.
No, sceptics, "distance" has not "lent" this enchantment—that is, in the sense you imply—for I am near enough to hear the elder lady say:
"My darlings, this morning we will glance at some of the relics of what was once called the 'Christian Era,' subsequently designated by historians as 'The Age of Blood and Malevolence,' but which is, nevertheless, always of importance in the world's library from its having been the first link in the long unbroken chain of eras of civilization. If time will permit we will take from the twenty-first century to the fifteenth."
Only six centuries in one whole morning! That seems slow work. We go through the relics of ages in an hour or so, and then think ourselves sufficiently informed in their wonderful lessons for the rest of our lives. I cannot help feeling a proud delight that these lovable persons are going to include the present time in their examinations, and shall remain by them to hear their gratifying expressions of astonishment at our remarkable progress.
They have turned into a very long gallery, over the entrance to which is written:
"Christian Era, or Age of Blood to the Twenty-first Century."
They enter an alcove containing four or five seats and desks—easily lowered or raised—writing necessaries and book of reference, concerning only those objects of interest which are placed in front. As far as I can see down the centre of this gallery are similar alcoves ranged back to back. All appear to be occupied by families somewhat resembling the one I have chosen to remain with, and that there is now no vacant room must be notified to new comers by some known signal, for I observe them look at one of the pillars supporting the roof and pass without entering. So there is no more movement to distract the students than is requisite for exchange of alcoves, which is managed with such courtesy and considerative quiet that it causes no interruption. No one speaks more loudly than is necessary for the distance in occupation by her or his party; and us all have musical voices, the combination of these soft, sweet sounds comes to my ears as a new entrancing harmony. Involuntarily my memory recalls the wild-beastly roar of footballers one afternoon when I was unfortunately compelled to walk about half a mile from where they were going through their brutal pastime.
"Though," continues this lady, "you must naturally expect to find the brute still more unpleasantly prominent than you have yet seen."
"More prominent!" echoes the boy. "Then, mother, I think evolution most degrading if it proves that we came from beings lower than those we examined last Sunday and Monday."
"My Frederick, I am not at all surprised at your opinion. Youth in the individual, as youth in a world, cannot judge accurately on subjects where accuracy is all-important. When the world was much younger, and the vanity of unthinking beings was, of course, very strong, most men thought as you do. When you are older you will not give so positive an opinion on any subject without reflection, or judge by the portion only of an argument. You will, more wisely, await the whole."
"Yes, dear and generous-minded mother, you are right, as you always are. I ought not to have spoken so hastily, but I was thinking of that twenty-first century's mode of insulting woman by placing women members of the Senate in a third chamber to debate by themselves."
Smiling, the lady replies: "Oh! my true-hearted chevalier des dames, it is not known whether that arrangement originated in men's comical vanity, or from a wish by the women to secure quiet in their debates, the men being notorious in those days for their silly quarrels and irrelevant chatter. You must endeavour to restrain all impatience, for I have that to tell you concerning your progenitors which to your brave mind will appear cowardly and debasing; but when you shall have learned to dissect these truths with the calm judgment arising from more philosophical thought, you will perceive that all that primitive wrong-doing was entirely from the vanity and prejudice born of ignorance. It would be unjust and unreasonable were I to feel anger or contempt for my loved son because his thought is immature. So with those other children—those still more imperfect beings of a younger world—living under the all-powerful, though by them unseen, law of evolution. Ought we to be indignant with them because they had not the great benevolence which springs only from the knowledge of numerous ages? and because, being nearer the brute, they naturally showed more traces of their origin? Grasp that, and you will not be surprised to learn that the males of these primitive people held their own sex in such veneration that quite young ones—puny in intellect, and without education—were, by act of senate, qualified to elect senators, enter upon the government of the world, and occupy the highest offices to the exclusion of the Infinite Intelligence, where possessed by women. So those poor vain creatures, with much assumption of wisdom, though still very apelike in various ways, made laws affecting woman's liberty, property, and even her children, without consulting her, her happiness, or any higher feeling than their own self-love, comfort and aboriginal greed. In short, the women up to past the nineteenth century were really slaves in all but the name. It is known that men long retained much of brute strength, gained in the still earlier ages by fierce combats for possession of women to toil for them; and they sedulously preserved all they could of that great muscular power, because they imagined it to be a proof of superiority. By use of it they were enabled, during all the low ages, to keep women in a very subjective state, which you will find the more degrading the nearer we descend to the brute period. Little wonder then should we feel that when men commenced forms of religion they framed them with doctrines for continuing the humiliation of women. In all their so-called religious exercises they dinned in her ears old men's tales of how she had been the primary cause of every wrong-doing, for which she had been doomed to suffer cruel punishment, and be subservient to man through all earthly life. Some even went so far in their self-exaltation as to rear woman in the belief that she had no soul—no existence beyond the debasing one allotted to her by those near cousins of apes and tigers. The 'religious' ceremony of marriage in use by the ancestors of our own race was characteristic of the very small place conscientiousness then held in the world's mind. Men trained to the profession of goodness—called 'clergymen' or 'ministers of God'—administered the sacred oaths, knowing they thereby assisted in the perpetration of a crime; for the husband—so the man was named, and meant master—vowed to the Infinite that he would endow his wife—old name for slave—with all his 'worldly goods,' and that he would 'cherish' and 'love' her. Except in very rare cases, the endowment not only ended in nothing, but he annexed everything valuable that belonged to her, under the miserable pretext similar to others they used in all their acts of unjust dealing with women—that woman's brain was inadequate to the care of her own property; and, with the same ape logic they asserted that her strength was insufficient for the various light situations monopolized by man. So she generally performed the menial work, which was very severe in those days of crude appliances and badly constructed dwellings—so severe that she frequently died from the effects—lamed, and hands distorted in her heroic efforts to fulfil duties imposed upon her by the apish cunning of the males. The husband frequently proved his superior intellect by the rapidity with which he squandered his wife's property, and reduced her to hardships she never would have known had his sense or conscientiousness equalled hers. As to the loving and cherishing—alas!"
She is silent. Her kind eyes appear to be looking sadly and compassionately through the mighty past into the aching hearts of my century.
Though anxious to hear more, the young people respect her silence. Now her daughter, who had hitherto been taking notes, looks up. What a countenance! No mirror—whether of quicksilver, canvass or marble—ever in the world's 'early eras'—as they call our time—reflected so real a beauty. Added to the grand look of integrity all faces here possess, hers shows deeper thought than has yet come to her brother; and the expression of loving reverence for that dear mother! Was there ever aught so charming in a daughter?
My readers' share in this pleasure will be small, for I have not power to depict all I see.
After a few minutes' reflection, the mother resumes:"My delight has been to master, as far as is known, all details concerning the development of our species, and our own race especially, from earliest records. For many years it occupied the whole of my study hours; but, even did our time permit, I would not impart the worst that those researches taught me."
"I hope," interrupted Frederick, with tones of increasing interest, "you will tell us more of those brave women and wicked men."
To which she answers, with great nobility of expression in both face and voice:
"You must learn to think of those vain creatures as not wicked."
With a roguish smile, he replies:
"Well then, stupid men! Do let me call them something they merit for their ill-treatment of women."
"Nay, my son, not even stupid, except by unfair comparison with the more evolved minds of our age; many were highly intellectual."
"But," says he, with the air of gaining victory, "they evinced no logic, either in ethics or in natural philosophy—that is, judged by what I have learnt as yet. Ethics, indeed! why our Leoni shows more logic in his ethics! and he would neither crush nor maim us, although he has such great muscular power."
"Bravely argued, dear! But, like most young reasoners, more from sympathy than reason. In the first place, tigers are now more gentle than were men in the age under notice. Our pet would crush no persons, whether he loved them or not. In this he but acts according to his extent of benevolence, as did those apparently cruel men, who were only commencing to emerge from the anti-lucan age. Though intellect was coming to most of them, they were very deficient in the higher qualities of benevolence and conscientiousness. Thus they were neither wicked nor stupid, simply and sadly for all under their rule, very very ignorant—so ignorant that they knew not the wrong they were committing—consequently great truths were obscured from their understanding by their vanity. In ethics they acted as far as their semi-barbarous nature made clear to them. Morality had then a different signification; their conception of it was far from resembling the high feeling it is with us. We must think of those poor creatures as they were constituted—not judge them by our advanced natures. To do so is as illogical as if you were to upbraid kind Leo with stupidity, because he could not solve one of your mathematical problems."
Kissing his mother's hand he acknowledges, in reverential words, her maturer reflections. Receiving his contrition with her habitual, lovable manner, she continues: "However, woman's position greatly changed in the twentieth century. The example was given in a grand part of the world called, America, where first appeared advanced intellect which guided human kind to nobler work than had before been thought of."
Then, turning to her daughter: "My Veritée, you who were so ready with your opinions two years ago have you none now to offer?"
"My silence is not from lessened interest, dear mother. On the contrary, I have been too occupied for speech in studying the reflex of my younger thoughts in those now expressed by Frederick. When you commenced your instruction of myself in evolution, I felt exactly as he feels. That such beings should have been our progenitors was an indignation that lasted long. I used to fervently hope some talented naturalist would discover it had been all a mistake—a futile and unreasonable hope, for at the same time I saw how indisputably real it had been proved to be. So beautifully has the growing intelligence of ages preserved through all the earth's changes traces of our slow but certain development, the gradual alteration 'in bodily structure and correlativety, that of all appertaining to mind. But it is no longer a disquietude all lesser feelings have resolved into an absorbing wonder—more absorbing still when I miss the intervening time, and compare the low beings, whose ethics and world-government we are now reviewing, with my noble father."
"Modestly-spoken conscientious thoughts! A result I expected when I forebore to press your young judgment at that time on matters so important. Given facts, and honest thought and great truths never fail to reveal themselves before the reflection of an earnest mind. You are right, dear, in calling your loved father noble, for so he is in every thought and act, and likewise all humans of our age, compared with the half savages whose habits and natures we are examining. Understand I say compared, because humankind is still progressing. We must endeavour not to give the future cause to stamp us with conceit, as well as lesser knowledge than it will possess. This was one of the great errors of our ancestors. The bulk of the ancient Australians, for whom we feel such pity, imagined there remained little else to learn. A fallacious idea, which operated powerfully in delaying progress—and that brings me back to the point where your brother interrupted. Of course the laws made by such men as I have endeavoured to describe, not only fully protected themselves, but sanctioned their perjury and wife-plundering! and—this I tell you to caution you against self-laudation—these same men boasted of their religious sentiments and great height in ethics, yet they broke the vows made at their altars with absolute impunity! and such conduct brought to them no loss or disgrace, no lowered status in anything. They boasted, too, of their fine sense of justice as compared with woman's, yet when a wife discovered her husband to be utterly unworthy of her, and left him because she could not live a life of foul hypocrisy, they put her to death at once. As civilization advanced, such a woman was killed more slowly. The husband was permitted to keep her children for any degraded life he chose. He spread evil untruths against her. The husband having thus given permission everyone was at liberty to follow his example, which all cruel persons availed themselves of—knowing they could indulge their disposition to injure without any fear of punishment or without being expected to feel mercy for the poor suffering heart—wearing life away in the pain of sorrow while the husband proudly proclaimed that he was made in the image of his god."
"Oh, the irreverent coward!" exclaims Frederick.
His mother continues in graver tones, yet so thrillingly tender, for she knows well that dear son's heart:—
"That was said of him by some in those very times—but civilization was then only in its infancy. You forget, through your impetuosity, one of the objects of your present study;—how much that to the unthinking wears the appearance of 'irreverence' or other wickedness has proceeded solely from the arrogance of ignorance." Looking very earnestly at him, she adds: "When a danger—and thoughtlessness is a great danger—has been pointed out for our avoidance, they are unwise who heed not the friendly warning."The boy raises his truthful eyes to his mother's with an admiring glance which acknowledges very winningly the justice of her reproof—yet will not trust himself to speak; his high-minded nature is too deeply wounded at learning his relationship to so low a form of life.
The thoughtful, beautiful eyes of his mother have again their abstracted expression as of examining into that far-off past of which she discourses.
"Those primitive men had numerous peculiar forms of belief. A little reflection would show you that acting in accordance with them could not be called 'irreverence.' They worshipped the Infinite as an avenging deity of an exceedingly vain and cruel nature, and, by a strange complexity in metaphysics, boastfully claimed a likeness to that deity; but it was no more irreverence in them than was the belief of their ancestors in still more primordial creeds—namely, that the earth was flat, a place below named 'hell,' and one above named 'heaven,' both of which places were inhabited by many gods—some of whom, indeed the most of them, judged by the growing light of succeeding ages, were remarkably immoral. When they reduced their deities to one they made that one a male, and with their usual deficiency in reason said his sons came down to earth 'to the daughters of men;' and that their progeny became 'men of renown.' Such a belief formed part of the creed of the more civilized time which we are reviewing. It was printed by those peculiar people in some curious books called Bible, Koran, &c., the contents of which were taught by their myth-men, or "clergymen," to have been the actual words of their god. But all that will be fully explained in our mornings for mythology. I only touch the subject to show you that morality and religion are of close affinity. When we know the creed of a nation we can judge correctly as to its ethics. If the creed be of an impossible or debasing nature the ethics will be found to correspond. We may deplore the ignorance which caused so much wrong-doing and suffering, but must not abase our own higher minds by condemning those poor men because they had not the knowledge that, except in extraordinary instances, can only be born of time and experience—a knowledge that grew as slowly as their change of bodily structure. As it grew, so they acquired increasing power to control, and, as we have seen in higher ages, ultimately extinguish all grosser traces of brute origin. If any blame attaches to early civilization it is solely to such heads of communities who, while possessing more than the ordinary understanding and some scientific learning, continued the promulgation of fallacies to the multitude, which they dared not utter to the Infinite in their solitude, simply to retain worldly position! Much honour is due to the integrity and courage of the few who would not bow to untruth, who thus risked and often bore with heroism the wrath of fanatics, whose vengeance was as great as their minds were small."
In tones so musically compassionate—they thrill me while I listen—she continues: "Yes, fierce and terrible to reflect upon has been the domination of ignorance! The further we examine into the evolution of our species, the more terrible will it show itself to have been. The more fully will it prove beyond all other proofs, our low origin. The lower we proceed in our researches shall we find the suffering it caused of such magnitude and hideousness that it cannot fail to create in our minds firm and lasting resolves not to be drawn, though in never so little a degree, within its deadening circle. Understand, my darlings, I refer not to lack of rote learning alone—where that is the sole knowledge, the possessor is often but a tiresome bookcase. To the study of others' written ideas we should always add our own. We must try more for the learning which honest thought gives—thought, that wordless, powerful prayer to the Infinite Mind, which is never without result. A person without daily habit of thought is but a child in all high knowledge, while also losing curb over what of brute may be in her or his nature. You reply, perhaps, 'What shall I think?' Every subject appears so impenetrable to your young comprehension. You resemble one contemplating a thickly grown, dark looking forest, wishing to find out something of its mystery; but it looks dangerous and impossible to make way through the tangled growth. At last you resolve to attempt entrance—Ha! Now, where is the difficulty? Only to restrain your inclination, lest you venture too far at once. These glades with their soft light, where is the darkness so feared? There are revealed to you beauties and grandeurs you would never have known by standing on the verge and only feebly wishing to dare further. You, my Veritée, have already entered. The result has been pleasantly shown during many of our morning studies."
Hearing these words, a blush of delight comes over the girl's face as she answers:—
"Yes, mother dear it has proved to me many errors of my judgment. One, especially, has been made even more apparent by some of the details you have kindly drawn from your great memory to aid us in understanding our development. I used to think the senate had been needlessly cautious in having fixed thirty as the age for entering into the government of the world. Now, I feel only content in that it gives me ten years more for fitting myself to undertake those important duties. I have resolved not to rely only on the required standard, but to attain a much higher degree of knowledge, that I may testify to all your patient instruction, and distinguish our name, as you have done, by introduction of some measures the benefit of which will extend to future ages. I cannot express the pride it gave me to learn that the women legislators introduced those world-reforming measures which raised the standard of learning and increased the requisite age. Only within the past year did I begin to understand how necessary it is that senators should possess the knowledge of years, as well as that of books. Looking back over that sad past, it is so easy to see that none of those cruel wrongs would have taken place had law-making and law-administering not been entrusted to such very young and ignorant men, without aid from woman's mind, which appears to have shown more real courage, more benevolence, and sounder idea of justice than that of her male oppressors."
How I wish my readers could see the beautiful picture it has been accorded me to examine!
This high-minded, glorious young couple, resplendent with promise of future excellence, and the noble mother, her handsome face expressing wisdom in every glance—at this moment lustrous with admiring love as she reads her daughter's innermost thoughts, its wonderful beauty unmarred by debasing cares, or cause for sad memories. They must be of noble blood. What they say is so exquisite tones and language too, I could not give an adequate idea by the poor little translation which alone is possible to my inferior nature.
Laying her hand kindly on Veritée's shoulder, she says, with much of earnestness:—
"Dear girl, the many proofs you give me during our studies of your widening thought are just so many delights to my spirit. Your aspirations are of the right order. There can be no thoroughly, desirable ambition which does not include benefit for the unborn. I am pleased very pleased, you begin to feel the absolute necessity of matured thought in positions of such enormous trust as that of governing humankind. None but youth and ignorance think this power lies in youth. While looking at those dreadful rocks of the past we shudder at the nearness of the danger which threatened to again strand civilization. But you must not think all women of those times were magnanimous. Too often the oppressed became the very fiercest of oppressors. While admiring the patient endurance and great good sense of the many under their spirit-wearying burdens and indignities, we must be just. There were also women whose ideas had so contracted in being tyrannized over by little-minded husbands that they appeared to have sunk below the average and ignorantly inflicted as much suffering as did the lowest of men:—and thereby contributed in no small degree to the long continued degraded condition of human kind."
Then, turning to her son, who had been attending to her words with his whole mind:
"And you, loyal heart, you must not place all the men of those rude ages in the same category. Console yourself amidst this unfavourable introduction to your ancestors that there existed some of quite amazing rectitude of thought, and who were also brave enough to proclaim it, which was then very dangerous conduct. Notably one Higinbotham, who lived in our own hemisphere far back as the nineteenth century of the Age of Blood. He was a legislator of unusual wisdom for that era; the originator of free education for the young, and endeavoured to obtain from the other legislators a partial recognition of woman's political rights. Of course his attempt failed, because the brute was too generally dominant in men's unformed minds and naturally the grand spirit of this Higinbotham was so far beyond their very weak comprehensions that, with feeble attempts at wit and noisy chattering, they threw the measure out—much as monkeys would destroy valuable deeds without at all knowing the great mischief they were doing. It has often happened that the advanced minds in a community have been considered to be fools by all the fools around them. But I feel a pride in knowing that women never forgot his fearless endeavour to gain justice for them—and this brings me to a most interesting fact in geology. A marvellous accident, some called it which furnished irrefutable proofs of the grand and wondrous truth at present your study. But perhaps, Veritée, you have already told him?"
"No: mother. It was, to myself, such a pleasure to learn it from your own lips that I would not so deprive him."Frederick is about to inquire, when his mother commences:
"ABOUT nine thousand years ago, when it had been decided to build larger instruction galleries for giving increased facilities to parents during their morning lectures, there arose some difficulty as to a site, for the far-seeing ones objected to its being central. Future generations would, they said, be incommoded, and that is never the policy of such minds. At last they succeeded in obtaining for the required purpose what was named 'The Battlefield,' a tongue of land at the western end of Alethia. Nearly two million years ago our country only formed the bottom to a tempestuous sea, often exceedingly dangerous to navigators bound from Australia to a group of islands (N.Z.) long since disappeared. 'Vulcan's Forge,' the little volcanic islet you are so fond of watching, is believed to be the top of one of their loftiest mountains, which was once covered with ice and snow. Then the earth's orbit became gradually more elliptical, and the consequent precession of the equinoxes changed the seasons. The Southern Hemisphere slipped out of the world's strife, and, as if weary of perverse ignorance, lay mourning and resting under a long glacial period, similar to the present state of the Northern Hemisphere. In due time the earth returned to its more spherical route. Again the seasons changed; but ancient Australia had sunk and this country, our magnificent Alethia had risen. As the ages rolled on, it became colonized by people who had made huge advance in civilization. Many were ascendants of persons who had gained wealth on the engulfed land of which they brought with them some annals—very imperfect, as subsequent events proved. It was supposed that somewhere near the west end of Alethia the old bright—and you would say very wicked—city of Melbourne had flourished for thousands of years in those far-off ages. And now, the question was to be settled most wonderfully by this very scheme for further instruction! The Battlefield was so named from its having once been the scene of a frightful conflict between the early Alethians and an invading army from the Northern Hemisphere. In those times it had been very strongly fortified; but for thousands of years peace had reigned over the world. In to-morrow's lecture I will give you more information on "war." The immense fortifications had long since fallen into ruins, and were completely hidden—deeply buried under decayed vegetable matter, in which grew dense shrubs and enormous trees. Geologists urged the adoption of this site, because they knew the land around was rising, and on that account could not be otherwise than a most valuable position for coming generations. Those who are to-day highest in the science declare that the whole of ancient Australia, with extensive additional land, will yet—in the far future—join Alethia, never again to sink. For choosing the Battlefield another reason was adduced—the constant supply of fresh air from the glorious ocean. So the fate of the grandly solemn little forest was decided. The most powerful machines of the age soon commenced the sad work of destruction; but how different to those former ones whose cruel mechanism lay obscured and powerless under nature's kindly growth! and how different the destruction! The old poets sang sweetly and prophetically of the great undertaking. They tell us how the continuous thunder of the falling trees caused deep pain to many hearts. They thought of what must have been that murderous roar, in which so many of their ancestors had perished, while courageously defending their loved country from fierce and ignorant invaders, who would have brutalized them, and most surely would have mercilessly overthrown their rapidly advancing institutions. In thrilling verse they told them it was but a harmless echo from the past—echo, only, of a wild beast roar. An echo which would hound from age to age until it should become a most sweet music—the voices of dear ones fitting themselves for a higher, and always higher, hereafter. They said those beautiful fallen giants should be replaced by other and grander ones—giants of culture and truth!"
Enthusiasm has imparted additional light to this lustrous trio. But my eyes grow dim with tears as my spirit tires from an intense longing to be worthy of their bravely truthful age!
"After many weeks of unceasing work, the ground was cleared of all the magnificent growth, excepting a few fine cedars, purposely left for the birds, where they congregated, and, to those who understood them, made touching laments over their lost habitations. Excavations for foundations commenced, which required more than usual depth. For several days a quiet unassuming man had been observed carefully examining the earth thrown up by the machines. One morning he suddenly descended a trench, implored the men to stop the engines and send for the manager. Then he removed the crusher; and, kneeling, tore the soil away with his own hands, growing more earnest with each handful he removed, delightedly exclaiming, 'It is! It is!' When the manager arrived, he showed him some carved stone he had succeeded in uncovering, and rapidly wrote upon his card—'The past is coming to the present. Send a hundred carpenters and material for about seventy diam. to secure your great treasure.' Signed with a name which commanded respect, though his hasty message afterwards caused much merriment, for it was well known the 'past' had been very fierce and rapacious. The quiet man who had so suddenly displayed such energy and direction was a Cosmopola geologist, named Denton, far-famed for his brilliant talents. It was proved that he had ascended from an American of the same name, who lived thousands of thousands of years before—who had been world-known for his great, good, truthful mind. He had only arrived in Alethia the previous week, having left his country in obedience to some powerful intuition. His advice was acted upon, and soon a large shed covered the treasure. A wise precaution to prevent hindrance the crowds would otherwise have caused, for people were continually assembling near the spot, some of whom offered payment to view the valuable statue fast appearing. Fortunately, it had been placed under a massive cupola so a small portion of that was the only part the machine had broken. It stood on a large pedestal, which proved to be hollow, and had been filled with the In-In records—so named from having been written on indestructible material and with ineffaceable ink. But language had so altered that the most able linguists were occupied for many years in deciphering them. From study of those writings, and others since discovered I learned all I have told, and have yet to tell you, concerning our ancestor's preceding and during the dawn of civilization, or Great Transition Age, which included the terrible Christian Era up to the happier time when true ethics began to stir all human kind to noble thoughts, truthfulness and benevolence. To this day no person under twenty-five years has once been permitted to examine those paining records. The monument has this inscription:
SCULPTURED AND ERECTED BY WOMEN,
A.D. 2180, TO
FRIEND TO WOMAN AND UNIVERSAL EDUCATION.
FREDERICK, whose eyes have been brightening as his mother's recital proceeded, exclaims:
"How I should like to have been that grand old savage, thus to live in memory of all ages, for justice! (Then reflectively) But, dear mother, I cannot see why we should wait so many years before we can be useful. Veritée has passed the standard, and in about a year I expect to reach it. Yet we are to remain powerless in the State for so many years longer!"
"True, my son, and most wisely is it so. When you have your standard certificate, the most important part of your education will commence. Knowledge of the world with its present and future requirements; growth of justice and benevolence over impulse; and a strength of judgment which only the watchful experience and earnest reflection of many years could teach. If the guidance of human kind were again given to youth, the world would once more be thrown back to the nascent condition of youth; and (with an amused tone in her voice) the older senators of both sexes would have to resort to a third chamber that their wiser politics might not be disturbed by the noise of un-thought ideas. I admire your homage to the grand old savage, as you call him but that appellation was not well chosen. For though he lived in a half-savage time, and was surrounded by many who were nearly savages, he was one of the few in advance of their era—not comprehended by the thoughtless multitude. The first wave of a grand tide, bringing its treasures to endure through all time."
She is interrupted by a voice through the telephone telling that the desired alcove awaits occupancy.
They rise. Frederick takes his mother's hand, and says some words I cannot interpret.
Veritée, half reflectively, as if looking into the perplexing past:
"I always think our Founder must have been a bravely truthful man to have so risked the hurt and ridicule of ignorance, which appears to have been malignant all through the world's history."
They walk through an opening leading to a passage formed by the backs of the cases and wall of gallery.
Stopping suddenly, the elder lady says:
"You did not notice the figures in the case fronting our alcove; but," walking on again, "it matters not now. I particularly wish to descend the Ages in their own order. The alcove I intended to commence in, this morning, was engaged."
"Yes," says Frederick, in an uninterested tone, "I saw them. Some sort of monkey."
"Monkeys, my dear! You are thinking of some other case. They are ancient Britons—very ancient—and modelled after well-executed drawings."
"Indeed mother, I looked well at them. Naked, hairy vicious animals, standing upon their hind legs. Please return, the alcove is not yet occupied."
"There," says he as they arrive before the case, "are they not apes?"With a half serious, and somewhat of droll, expression in her eyes, she replies gently:
"No, they were not so named, though there is certainly some excuse for your doing so. They were always called Britons. However, call them what you will—man or ape—they were the progenitors of some of the greatest civilizers."They retrace their steps, the boy with his former look of indignation. It is evident he is not yet reconciled to his ancestors.
THEY enter the alcove, fully a third of a mile from where I have remained watching them—happy to even see such beings. Truth, freedom, love and grace are indeed here. I shall join them after passing near the other families, and so give gladness to my "half brutal" self in contemplation of this shamless refinement. No glances of envy or tones of detraction. No slander. These must be women of really high birth.
Where are the low Illiterate ? The pompous, self-lauding, arrogant ignorami? That great band so heavily weighting the Car of Progress in my century! Not in any of these noble families! who appear so affectionately and so reverently united by honest endeavour for human perfection. Nowhere can I see the baleful, cruel stamp of ignorance. Mothers and fathers are ably imparting instruction to attentive—fascinatingly attentive—young people in matters which, up to the nineteenth century, have been left to chance study; and on other subjects beyond present comprehension, with eloquence exceeding my power to transcribe; yet causing so great an exaltation of my thought that I shudder at contemplating the barbaric misconceptions and young-world understandings awaiting my return to an unenlightened age.
While I linger occasionally, on my way up the gallery, to hear a little from the lips of these beautiful, earnest truth-seekers, I learn the origin of their Instruction Galleries, and pride upholds me upon finding that our Australia planted the seed of so goodly a tree of knowledge. An example which was followed by countries in the Northern Hemisphere, where the principle became an institution during thousands of years, and ultimately was established with increased culture in this newer land, Alethia.
Soon after women entered Parliament, they brought forward a measure compelling either mothers or fathers to devote two mornings of every week—commencing Sunday—to oral instruction of their children. They argued that it would restore the too often overstrained mental power of both teachers and pupils, besides arresting premature decay of sight, frequently caused by too continuous application to books at an early age. Added to which important considerations, they urged the value of such a law as a means for strengthening family ties, by increasing the loving respect of children for their parents. After a very short debate, the measure received the authority of the House by unanimous voting. The few progressionists supported it of course, and the ignorant ones, also of course, because they believed it must ultimately rid them of woman's quieting presence in the senate. And much they chuckled, with silly jokes, over what their wisdom considered to be woman's stupidity in thus forging chains for herself. For it afterwards transpired that they had fully intended all the obligation of the act should be borne by the originators of it. On their side, the women were prepared to execute the desirable work. It was nothing to them to do more than their fair share ever since beasts on two legs first ordered their female mates to carry logs for their fire, while they employed the great intellect man has always accredited himself with in extracting grubs, and other such dainties, for the gratification of their own appetite, or lolling in company with other great male intellects around lovely pools of water; intellect consisting in brutal strength of legs and arms, the reflection of which gave them immense self-esteem as they lay contemplating and planning anew some cruel discomfort or privation for their weaker halves—the real workers!—who, in addition to other toil, had that of rearing fresh beasts.
In the words of a gentleman relating this to his son:
"So those bravely good women, in the era you despise, entered upon their task. Think, boy, what must have been the requisite energy and patience. Unaided, in nearly every family, they fully satisfied the law's exactions—a law which has proved the greatest regenerating influence over human kind yet known to the world."
And, according to this same gentleman, performed their task so earnestly and conscientiously that, as century after century rolled away, the little band of noble men, honorably anxious to assist woman in her rise, increased to powerful numbers.At first, like most innovations, the measure was not welcomed in every family. It pressed hardly upon women who had previously misused intellect in worthless studies, to the exclusion of philosophical reading and elevating thought. But the difficulties gradually wore down. In teaching others, they acquired more knowledge; and science, too, became woman's staunch friend. There was less beast and greater intelligence on earth. Wisdom became an easier lesson. Life was more honestly conducted; more simple habits grew—both in food and dress, which, being met half way by scientific appliances, the useless, menial drudgery self-imposed by humans was a thing of the ignorant past—in the very far-off age, of which I endeavour to give my vision as it has been given to my eyes and understanding.
As time grew men became educated from their apathy, and freely aided the women to the fullest extent of their power. They also introduced a measure for the erection of State galleries, in which the morning studies or lectures were to be continued after the children should have attained the age of sixteen or seventeen years, no admittance being permitted under that age. Such mornings there to be devoted to physiology, evolution, geology, mythology, &c., imparted in the manner I am now observing.
The two mornings of this week are occupied on evolution. Wherever I pass, the subject is being earnestly discussed; and it seems to be a very displeasing accession of knowledge to all the young students.
I am now opposite an alcove, in which are mother, father and two sons. The youngest says:—
"I regret, dear mother and father, having caused you so much trouble in proving our ascent from such bestial thought and matter; but I promise to give you no difficulty concerning our still more remote progenitors you speak of, for the difference between ourselves and those ferocious men of the merciless Christian era is so great that there cannot be much further descent to master."
Gravely his father replies:—
"In those words, my son, I grieve to read yet something remaining of your origin. They betray just a trace of the vanity which so perniciously opposed justice and progress in that transition age. It forms the one great lesson learnt from our valuable records. The nearer we approach the primordial savage the greater the amount of vanity we find. None can say either the immense length of time required to bring humankind even to the stage of improvement, with which you feel so dissatisfied or the probably still longer period to come during which progress will continue. At some future time our structure will have so changed to one nearer perfection that when we look back over the wonderful history of humankind during the course of evolution, as we do to-day, we shall no more recognize our present selves than you feel inclined to do in the ruder forms of the Christian era. But I am inclined to think that the youth of that time will feel only admiration and reverence, as the wise designs of the Infinite Mind become more distinct to growing reason. Do not mistake this, my boy. I imply no blame for your condemnation of those unfortunately selfish men. And (looking tenderly at the dear mother) we much admire your spirit-stirred sympathy for the oppressed condition of the women; but we wish you to take a more philosophical view of past imperfections. It matters not how faulty were their ethics, if they consistently and conscientiously founded their conduct upon them. This is what we can never know. We ought not to condemn them for believing that right which they had not sense enough to learn was so very, very wrong."
Son: "With time, father, I shall no doubt think as you and my dear mother so kindly and so patiently work to guide my thought, because all your counsel has been nobly just. I will reflect well over this, your most difficult lecture. You say our structure may change. Think you our present formation could be improved?"
Father: "Who can deny it? We are certainly not mind perfect. Why should we consider our body incapable of improvement? By the ancient records I find that those men we have been considering, whose form more resembles that of the ape than our own, thought as you do on this question. Their self-idolatry was even amusing. They were so overweening that in speaking of their shape, which was often distorted by excesses, they called it the 'human form divine.' That idea was peculiarly man's. The males of all species have ever been paramount in vanity; and before we can approach a nearer stage to perfection, yet more vanity must wear from our nature."
Reluctantly I leave this family, for the mother now speaks; but I wish to join my favorites.Slowly I pass each alcove. It is not possible to miss glancing at these sweet faces. Still the same lesson goes on, in differing words, to shocked young ears. Though I cannot marvel that it is so, I sigh humbly to see how averse they are to owning relationship to us!
A MIRTHFUL laugh now comes pleasantly to arouse me from sad reflection. It is from two lads, while their mother smilingly endeavours to restrain them. Before their alcove is a case containing models of steam-engines and electric motors of the twenty-second, twenty-first and twentieth centuries. She has just been explaining concerning our screeching, dirty "iron horses" and the picture of a "few hundreds of miles'" journey in so "wild" a fashion greatly excites their amusement, especially at "the strange noises those semi-barbarians loved to hear around them." I doubt the restoration of their gravity this morning. They listen respectfully while she tells them that but for the intellect which produced those "cumbrous machines, two millions of years ago, our own elegant, convenient noiseless and rapid conveyances would not yet have been arrived at."
But their splendid eyes are dancing with humour at their imaginings of the "journeys in the poor old past, with those strange, funny-looking beings for companions!" and they break out again into a most enlivening laugh. I wish they could know how heartily I join them!There will be a different expression on their faces tomorrow, when they hear of the frightful sufferings those same "funny wild engines" sometimes caused. In most cases by men's alarming deficiency in forethought and union of particulars, which is daily to be seen both in the higher and lesser duties of their positions.
Electric motors are now being discussed. To my uneducated comprehension they appear wondrous specimens of mechanism and superior work, as do many other things here exhibited, the use of which I cannot define. They are entirely unknown to us. But the children—"Children"! I am the only child amongst these young people, though they have so few years compared with mine—they laugh good-naturedly at the efforts of "infant science." The younger one declares, with mirth in his musical voice, that if such "monstrosities" had continued in use up to his time, he "would have petitioned all scientists to combine their intellect for extension of the atmosphere, or for the invention of something by means of which we could journey safely outside it. Otherwise there would never have been room sufficient for all the air travellers of our era."
Then their mother tells them how, by the unswerving law of correlation, inventions began to lose their crude form and imperfections from the time men began to lose their brute vanity. "When they acknowledged, in the justice born of their improved minds, that women were also humans, and not of a lower species—made for man's comfort or amusement—as the strutting, ignorant creatures used to tell each other. They had kept women uncultured on every scientific or mechanical subject, while they gave themselves extraordinary and exclusive privileges for acquirement of all such learning. Then, with their usual faulty logic on most things relating to women, declared she had no mechanical ability or inventive talent, in proof of which assertion they audaciously asked what she had done to evince any! Yet, with all their advantages, very few, out of the countless millions born, rose above what was considered only mediocrity, even in their own egotistical age. Those lamentably foolish men were too blind with self-laudation to see the dormant talent of their women, evidenced in very many minor works throughout the daily menial and severe labour allotted to them. But a time arrived when mechanics, as also every other study, became as essential for women as for men. Then was gloriously proved the fallacy of sex in mind—a tenet hitherto held firmly by men since its foundation by the first vain ape who declared the Infinite Mind was of his sex. Woman's inventive faculty cultivated gave an immense stride in the progress of mechanics; for good, like ill, both acts and re-acts. As universal study went on, more talented people were born to bless human kind to distant ages, and thus continue to the higher and purer future."
It has been a delighting study to trace the effects of their mother's words on the handsome faces of these dear young fellows, becoming more earnestly attentive with each idea she uttered. The enthusiasm which had begun to glow is now softening to compassion, while she tells them that, "notwithstanding none but the most skilled men guided those machines, they frequently collided several hundred feet above the ground, and went crashing through the air—a burning tangled mass! Corpses sometimes fell upon living persons in the streets, adding to the dread scene of cruel deaths."
She pauses; all are sorrowfully silent. After a few seconds she continues in more cheerful tone:
"As you know, such occurrences are now impossible, unless from carelessness of great magnitude. And this our safety we owe to educated woman. One, who had given much time to scientific subjects, suggested the use of the Repelling Current. She and her comrade constructed two air carriages, fitted with the now well-known Repellor; and, each occupying one, bravely made the first trial of their work, to the clamorous delight of all who had sufficient nerve to await the result; though it is recorded that many closed their eyes, and others ran hurriedly away when they saw the vehicles approaching each the other in a direct line and with a speed never previously attained. We know how beautifully the controlled current acts. After several trials had fully proved the accuracy of the invention, the crowd began to realize its value to human life, and simultaneously all uttered a sound of thankfulness, which had a very harmonious effect. Then gratitude stirred every heart there present, and men resolved the now famous carriages should not touch the ground when they descended, but be lovingly received in their arms; and, despite the merry protests of their happy occupants, were so carried in triumph around the city, while thousands followed, singing a popular song on victorious science. Contrast that with those pæans of victory in the long-past murderous times, before woman was known to be a human being! And the procession—how different to the debased congregations, scarcely two millions of years before, following an image of one of their deities, all wildly shouting while dancing with bestial glee and apelike antics about the wretched victims—who were often young girls and boys—about to be sacrified in the holy name of religion! An unholy excuse for murder and cruelty, which lasted, in various forms, to the end of the Christian era. Professedly an era of goodwill! At the end of their unexpected journey, both carriages were heaped with costly gifts, thrown in by the more wealthy of the crowd. Although people were not quite so noble-minded as they are to-day, those two heroic workers in the cause of humanity received the honor due to their enterprise with great humility. Government offered monetary acknowledgment to the inventress. She refused, saying she would feel shame in being paid for the happiness of saving life. Determined to reward her, they appointed her Investigatress of Electric Works, which she likewise refused, because, she said, it would equally shame her to be placed in a higher position than her comrade for a 'mere intuition,' to which she had been enabled to give practical effect only by their combined thought. So both of them were raised to the post. This is the origin of so many of our highest offices now being filled by both woman and man, for it soon became a well-known fact that all thought is more perfect when combined with that of the opposite sex. A truth which, strangely enough, was in the minds of the oldest Pagans of whom we have record; for one of their myths was that humans were originally woman and man joined together; but their chief god found them so powerful thus formed that he severed them—and then followed every earthly disaster."
The recital has made this happy little party very bright. Wottah, the younger boy, prettily thanks his mother for "so pleasant a relief to all those Christian ferocities," and he wonders "how those good people, as the brutes called themselves, would have rewarded our courageous couple."
Smilingly, the lady replies:
"In the early part of that era, when a woman was incautious enough to let men know she was an intellectual being, they called her 'witch,' and (with pathetic hesitancy in her voice) she was either drowned in putrid water or burnt to death. A few centuries later, a woman of culture was simply insulted; not only by the opposing sex, but by those of her own, who were either not so gifted, or had not exercised the power of thought—which is the heritage of all. Later still, men quietly ignored whatever woman did to prove her mental equality, but, at the same time, indefatigably kept before public eyes any intellectual achievement by one of their own sex: and considered they efficiently proved their own superiority when they told her she was inferior. Men of some mental power, but very deficient in integrity, fouled their pens by writing defamatory or fatuous articles scorning woman's righteous appeal for her share in legislation for human kind—which writings, like other unclean things, defiled all who placed credence in them. Those who had most to fear from her discovery of their malpractices went so far as to assert that woman was too deficient in morality and conscientiousness for sharing in the government of the world."
The elder son, reflectively:
"From brutes one ought not to be astonished at meeting with brutality—but in my thought of the unhappy past what so perplexes me is that men who possessed some intellect should have been so obtuse as to keep women in that disastrous state of slavish oppression. Why, even the rude mechanical knowledge they possessed was sufficient to have taught them that no whole can be perfect when only half is cared for; and that it matters not bow beautifully such half be polished and cherished—if to the neglect of the other, the ruin of the entirety must follow."
Looking very affectionately at her noble boy, she replies:
"Your quick perception and apt definition always reward me for the pain of going over the sad past. You are right, dear, the ruin did come, repeatedly. Nation after nation fell. Whole races dwindled in intellect, and sunk irretrievably. Some historians assigned one cause—some, widely differing ones; but male vanity was so strong that it required the extinction of many peoples before the real reason could be understood by men. And then they had to be taught it by the very half whose abstract reasoning and abstract justice was thus proved to have been not only equal—which some of their most learned men denied—but superior to their own. That iniquities should have existed is not perplexing when we reflect that—save in the great few—intellect developed without corresponding increase of integrity and benevolence. Some naturalists say all their contemptible tyranny arose solely from an inherent fear of subjugation—and I think it feasible, because, in the earliest ages, men took as wives—a word signifying servants, or rather slaves—the women whom they captured in battle. Fearing the unfortunate creatures might revolt, and make cause with their own kin, they kept them in cruel subjection, and treated them as if they had been still their enemies. Of course, that tyrannical feeling was transmitted through millions of generations, so it is not difficult to comprehend the enormous length of time which must elapse before it could be obliterated by one of justice. The marvel would have been that out of such a state of vain ignorance the least nobility could ever have arisen, did we not feel the indestructible power of Right. Wonderful in all its works, but not yet understood by our limited minds, though we have now reason enough to know they will be still more developed as evolution further and further unfolds its marvels."
There is no resemblance between the mother of these boys and Frederick's, except in the general expression of truthfulness and reliability. She is more vivacious in her beauty, and ever ready to join in their laughter. Probably this is because her children have not been so difficult to instruct in what appears to be everywhere an unpleasant lesson. They are evidently lads of an advanced intelligence. The knowledge of their relationship to us is received with more philosophical equanimity than I have yet met with; and, except during the relation of any sad anecdote, which she uses to steady their thought, are more inclined to mirth than sorrow. I suppose they are of the more progressive ones of their age.
Wottah's eyes are sparkling with some fresh amusement in his mind, as he says:
"I wonder what we three would now have been, had there never existed any earnest women,—and noble men like our Founder?"
Felix, the elder son, in obedience to a sign from his mother, replies:
"What we should have been? Well, where are only fools and brutes there must be only folly and cruelty. Change being Nature's great abiding law, nothing is inert. If no progress can be effected, a fall must come to recommence the rise:—So I think human kind would have inevitably receded. Possibly tails would have become general again, and at this moment you and I would most probably have been holding to a branch with ours, endeavouring piously to hurt our dear mother, or some other person, with the least possibility of danger to our own valuable selves."I leave them all merrily laughing at Felix's grave imitation of a lecture.
ON quitting the last group, I had resolved no other enticement should detain me from the first darlings of my acquaintance; but here is a large case of fashions, and it is customary to swerve a little in that cause. I care not who knows how great its interest for my mind. Fashion is a subject upon which I have thought very earnestly for many years, and know too well the powerful influence it exerts over the right and wrong of both present and future time. Indeed, I see it is one of the principal factors of the numerous chaotic minds now steadfastly pursuing their course of omissive sinning.
Faithfully modelled before me are many curiously-habited humans—quite savage and partly savage. Here are the gloomy Puritans, also the over-magnificent Cavalier. The rigid Quaker. Women who dwindled themselves to look like a dressed stick. Others who inflated their coverings until they resembled a barrel carrying a scarcely human head. Others with that portion of their body—which is generally considered naturally very exuberant—swelled into an appearance most monstrous and repulsive. A wretched sight to contemplate, because it is the result of weakened power to use the intelligence they are striving to drive from their minds. And—yes, there you are, my hideously-shaped contemporary! Little stilts under your boots, giving you a penguin-out-of-water appearance. Your swaddling clothes. Your abnormally swelled hips. Your ribs bent into the place nature intended only for delicate organs, the perfect health of which is requisite for healthy mind. Your crooked shoulders, the result of vain endeavours to move and breathe easily under so idiotic a régime. Your painted cheeks. Your black daubs over eyebrows,—the repulsive dirty sham plainly lying on the skin between the hairs. And a fitting crown to all that degrading deception is the impure false hair, which you imagine decorates your narrowed, distorted-looking head—a head Nature intended should have been intellectual, kind and truthful in form.
And there you are, likewise, hideous young man contemporary! Stilts under your boots. Ungraceful clothes. Hair cut in patterns on face to resemble the natural growth of your ape-relative's whiskers. Head shorn of its ornamental covering, leaving the ears standing out resembling ugly handles to an ugly bowl; altogether giving the unfortunate owner an appearance of having been modelled while in the crisis of a dangerous disease.
Worthy male for such a female, to the world's distraction! For how can aught but retrogression proceed from the union of two such fools! Oh, women! awaken to your responsibilities. Be it plainly understood I address only those whose type is in this case for a far-off age to learn what shams they are. Abandon your shameful practical lying. Where is the benefit it brings you? No mental improvement. No physical beauty. It only begets the short-lived admiration of semi-idiots, or the worship of deceived boys, whose inevitable enlightenment brings so fierce a contempt for the whole of our sex, that I have known it last until it became part of nature—not, alas! to be uprooted by even honourable and truthful women. Should you marry any so deceived is it possible you could expect your husbands to respect women who would sink to such pitiful means to win them? These are some of the great world troubles your thoughtless shams bring upon human kind. You thereby strengthen man's injustice towards women, and while that continues no progress can take deep root. It should always be the aim of woman to rise from the degrading position assigned her in the age of bestial ignorance and brute power. To rise, by noble thought and act, until man, in very shame, yield her her fair share of world's advantages, which he continues to usurp, partly from ignorance and partly from little-mindedness, but always blindly as to the wrong he is working to the whole of the human species.
Away with your shams! Be no longer encouraged by cunning men to waste your energies on the absurd and injurious reduction of your waists, or the set of bows, &c. They do so to thus basely dwindle your nobility of nature, that you may become their weak-brained tools instead of their equals. This world is ours as much as men's. They have no greater right to it than we have. Oh, women! how can you sit inanely smiling over the fashion of a dress or other paltriness while man makes laws affecting you and your children—the dear children you are rearing with your blood—as he does over any other animal he possesses? His laws are that he may take your child from you, give it to strangers' care, rear it in rascality if it so suit his purposes, and finally will it from you. The husband cowardly enough to defame his wife can do so with impunity. Those other base curs who repeat his untruths are also able to gratify their dirty inclinations. You have no legal redress, wives! Man's laws are for his own safety and glorification in all matters. It was not many years since a law existed in England regulating the thickness of the stick with which a man might legally beat his wife. Our divorce records show that alarming brutality, and the greatest of immoralities on the man's part, have not constituted "sufficient cause" for breaking such devilish bonds. Awake, women! Be fooled no longer! Examine man's sapient laws! You will be amazed at their rubbish and injustice. Especially after their having told you for thousands of years how wise and moral they are. Read them! Find out the extent of their reason and justice! It will be a revelation to you which will eventually have most beneficial results for human kind. They prevent you from learning and reflecting upon important subjects by flattering your sillinesses, and encouraging you to waste thought and time in trifles. Step out of the contemptible groove! Learn—above that, think, and you will soon claim your right to legislate for yourselves. Man has neither the right nor the ability to make laws in which the happiness and health of our lives are concerned, unless with our co-operation.
It is as unjust as if we were to legislate on man's greatest interests without consulting him; though I feel certain the very worst of us would do so in a far greater spirit of justice and benevolence than he has manifested in his cruel, impertinent and ignorant laws on our sex. Laws which have broken or withered millions of loving hearts, though medical men have called those murders by less conspicuous names.
It was only natural that so savage and selfish a being as man should have originally usurped all power over the weaker by reason of his greater brute strength; but that is no proof of larger mind. The tiger could crush the strongest man. Yet I think not a single man would give the palm for mind to the tiger. To beat, kick and trample on a weaker body is no proof of superiority of intellect; but it is by such means that men have claimed it. It is not astonishing that the vanity of those semi-brutes in the past closed women's mouths, crippled her intellectual exertions, enacted that she had not enough brain to learn, and availed themselves of every means "divine"—so they "piously" called it—or any other, to degrade the muscularly weaker sex, and that they should have promulgated theories, unsound as conceited, laudatory of the greater brute; but now that there has grown higher intellect in all human kind, it is full time men should repair, as far as possible, those most calamitous injuries to our species which have been brought about through their selfish devotion to the lack-brain errors of our ancestors. Ever since the first important record of men's speech they have branded women as false, illogical, immoral and weak-minded. Whenever they wish to very much insult one of their own sex they liken him to a woman. Anybody who reads current literature frequently sees the following sickeningly ignorant phrases, disgracing manhood and what, in other respects, are cleverly-written articles:—"Scolding like au enraged Woman," "With truly feminine vindictiveness," "Woman's tongue, never still," "Illogical as a woman," and many similar which most people have seen, and, excepting small-brained males, are quite weary of seeing. And all this unmerited abuse of unoffending woman is unfailingly given when public men choose to quarrel or wrangle over some little matter, which, unfortunately for woman's prestige, is very frequently; as in senate, bar and pulpit—the three public educators, they tell us—there is always abundance of scolding.
Pass inns—men babbling nonsense or scolding. Go through the streets—everywhere men's tongues; very little of women's. Listen while journeying in train, 'bus or steamer, waiting anywhere—the men are the talkers. And, if you care to listen, you will find it mostly stupid verbiage they utter. Then they go home and say to their energetically busy wives what men consider smart things about "woman's tongue," "feminine cackle," &c. Men have the audacity to call us deficient in reason! Examine their vaunted ideas! You will laugh till probably tears of sorrowing pity fill your eyes at their constant exposition of their own lack of it. They began all things unreasonably—a round of absurdities and impossibilities for the abasement of the defenceless half of human kind, in the unreasonable imagining that they thereby exalted the other half; and to carry out their unreason they made their god unreasonable!
They call us immoral! Were we one-thousandth part so immoral as they themselves are the world would be worse than any or all things in Dante's hell!
They have so hedged us with the legality of their own immorality, that the most virtuous lady smilingly receives our Solomons and Davids without a misgiving, or thinking how her house is polluted by their presence. But let their victims come to her door, or accidentally brush against her, she would shudderingly spurn them—to further ruin. Her Solomon husband and David friend would at once set about constructing laws for her deliverance from so intolerable an abomination. They would call out the judicial and clerical police to clear the street. Away with the poor creatures to esoteric, shameful, humiliating usefulness! Away with them to some retreat where the Solomons and Davids can find them with least injury to their own sacred persons!
But should the unfortunates leave their allotted boundary—driven, maybe, by fierce hunger for bread—to carry on the vile trade men have forced them into, then, exoteric Justice, bustle up to your bench of wisdom, fouled by so much of wrong and idiocy! Have those poor profaned bodies seized! Men have so seared their hearts it matters little about breaking a few! Fine, imprison, insult the wretched beings! Rid the earth of them, that fresh, less-jaded victims may take their places! But, my worthy judicial and clerical masters, let no harm come to the cowardly factors of all this maddening impurity—the real prostitutes—the men! For they tell us they were made in the image of their God. They are wanted in their churches to look respectable—and worship Solomon.
Not very long ago a young girl sought judicial protection from ruffians who had treated her in so cruelly debasing a way that could we have records of early man's morality they could contain nothing worse, probably not so infamous.
The acts were not denied. For defence it was made known that she had been cohabiting with another of this brute type, who aided the others in the performance of their bestial deeds. That was sufficient for the beneficent wisdom of our Dogberries. Cast her to perdition! But save those righteous young Solomons! Soon they will be of law-making age!
Oh, women of pure lives, have you thought enough to think what was the fate of that child—she was only sixteen—when she left the court of justice, after hearing the heartless decree? Reflect what is her life now; and if you have left your hearts room enough for blood, they must bleed at such imaginings. Should the hunted girl kill one of her assailants, she would be hanged. I think we all agree that any death would be better than the dreadful life to which the judicial and most unbenevolent idiots doomed her. Women abandon your injurious style of clothing! Allow your physical organs to have room for healthy life, that your minds may expand. Work all you can to stop these egotistical dolts from legislating for us without our aid! They cannot do it justly, or with any good to the world.
If Solomons and Davids read what I have written, they will cry with true Pharisaical screech—a tone too familiar to our ears—"Shameful, that woman should meddle in such unwomanly matters! Down with her! Respectability, tread upon her! Avoid her! She is dangerous, &c.!" And so she is, to all that is exoterically good—but so false and foul within.
It is time to throw aside artificial modesty, all of you! I tell you, women, it is woman's duty to try to save, help and raise woman—it matters not how fallen. You know too well such wrongs exist. To feign ignorance and practise indolence of thought is not virtue. If any of you are really ignorant of the deplorable sink into which so many thousands of our sex have been plunged, and from which they now find it impossible to rise, seek the truth for yourselves. It is right you should know it; and as you value the purity and welfare of your daughters, and your spirit's happiness when it shall have left its present abode, do your best to redeem and comfort those poor creatures. Not with vicious dogmas, or wearying, witless traditions of our ape-like ancestors, but with woman's pitying, helping love for the helpless and defenceless. Remember they are women, with woman's feelings—having woman's nature to suffer and endure heroically. Alas, so crushed!—But only crushed. They could rise from all their sad mistakes and wretchedness if you would but hold a hand to them. And you, especially, who possess wealth and influence with, happily for yourselves, time to effect such good work. You are the women who could most accomplish. The noble among men would help you in this, as in every other noble effort for the world's advancement; but at present their numbers are so small, compared with the Solomons, that they could do little without your earnest co-operation. An association which has lately been formed for helping young mothers is one great step.
Resolve, women! Act energetically to aid our poor sisters, or how will you bear the company of their sad spirits when all meet in another life, each alike divested of everything earthly, having only thought and memory remaining? Let us work while we have the power! Build a refuge—to be both school and home—but into which let no "myth-men" or other myth-teachers enter, to preach and weary the poor refugees into monotony and bewilderment with vain endeavors to think over, and believe in, the unreasonable or impossible. Show them good, and awaken reverence for good by your own acts.
After a certain time shall have elapsed, employ them. There would, doubtless, be some failures, though I think not many. Women are not inherently depraved. They do not sink by predetermination. Circumstances have placed young girls in danger—mere children in mind-growth, while their bodies have attained earlier maturity—or girls left without requisite care and instruction at an important age. These are some of the causes which have brought women to a mode of living they afterwards loathed; but forced by the "virtuous" world to remain and suffer. Think how very bitter must be such suffering. Those are the ones who could be helped to a good and happy life.
When you commence the urgent work—and I believe it will be commenced, for the prosperous and fortunate are more thoughtless than radically selfish—you will find my subscription ready, and if you all give in like proportion to your means, this new monument of woman's womanliness will quickly be raised to bless the world!
Men call us "weak-minded," and unfit for mental labour, That such women as George Eliot and Mary Somerville, without naming many other talented, studious women, should have compelled even men to acknowledge their talents—that they should have risen to public estimation straight through the deadly weight of ignorant men's prejudice—proves quite the contrary. In Mary Somerville's case it was considered so very unfeminine for a woman to cultivate her intellect that they deprived her of light in the winter evenings, to prevent her studying; but had she been of the other sex every facility would have been gladly given, and then the boasting of those abilities would have lasted as long—well, as long as male boasting always lasts when a clever mind of that sex appears. And we all know how few they have—considering the millions of millions of men who have been born, and had the advantage of their sex to attain what height they could! Had they the amazing excellence in reason they are ever telling us of, they would know why they have so miserably failed to occupy the great mental positions they ought, by this era, to have reached.
It is only a few years since women were permitted to join men in the race for education's honours—yet, how they already disprove the male libel that they have no power for study! When our University of Melbourne opened to women, the first who passed and gained the highest honour was scarcely fifteen years of age. Though men are inclined to keep woman's progress as unknown as possible; in spite of all precautions, the girls' successes are sometimes published—thanks to large-minded editors, whose thought has taught them valuable lessons in the world's economy. Wherever women are permitted to compete with men the result is amusingly favourable to our sex, when we reflect how pitiably we have been kept by man's doltish enactments imprisoned in one narrow, senseless groove for—who knows how many hundreds of thousands of years?
There are some men who, wishing to excuse the past irrational action of their own sex, say:—" However right it was once to rule over women, it is no longer so, &c." It was never 'right.' If the sexes had started on equal terms the general mind would have sooner expanded, and the beautiful earth would not have been saturated with the blood of advanced thinkers, who have been courageously honourable enough to try to benefit human kind by the honest avowal of their opinions. Women, all, shake off the dangerous apathy into which man's ignorance has thrown you! Teach them, or the earth will again have to treasure away for future learners relics of another fallen nation—teach them no whole can long exist if only one half of it be cared for! It is time men's suicidal oppression should cease. That it will do so is certain, for all the Infinite's works result in perfection, and there can be none in human kind until man become just to woman as to his own sex.It rests with you whether it shall be soon or late. The sooner you work towards so desirable a completion of wise designs—by rejection of absurdities which have been thrust upon your understanding, and by firm, sensible claim to your rights as humans—the sooner must they yield what they have so long deprived us of—our equal share in the world's advantages; which world is ours, by all moral right, as much as it is theirs. I write not for myself. Man's tyrannical laws are powerless to wound me more. My suffering has been borne. No alteration of laws could now benefit me; but there are thousands enduring the pain I have experienced through man's injustice, and thousands to follow, until there be just legislation. For those—for the progress of all human kind—I strive, and will continue to do so while power be left me to speak or hold my pen.
INSENSIBLY my spirit had flown to what these truly noble people call the "Age of Blood." A delicious feeling of rest, safety and trust comes into my aching heart as I find myself return to happier surroundings. And the great pain some memories had brought vanished with my entrance into the alcove facing the case of fashionable simpletons.
Here are two lovely girls, between 16 and 17 years old, expressing their objection to evolution. They are cousins. The mother of one instructs them. Judging by the flashes of indignation in their sweet eyes, and the expression of their truthful mouths, this lady has no easy task.
They are looking at two models labelled "Slaves Civilized and Uncivilized." Of these models one has too much clothing over part of her, and absolutely none over the most delicate portion of her body. She is our benightened, dedizened, bare-shouldered bare-breasted, ball-room simpleton. Too well I recognize you! Years ago I have watched you with my young mind full of wonderment and pity. Thoughtless girl! worse than thoughtless mother! cover yourselves. If your sense of decency is not sufficient, at least, do so for protection of your lungs, and in mercy for the unborn.The other a beautiful half-caste is rather more naked—but oh, how much more graceful is her form, which has never been distorted by rib-squeezers! and her face so modest with its expression of despairing shame—while she undergoes this cruel exposure at her brutal master's bidding.
One of the students opens the volume of explanations. Her mother is evidently reluctant to give the first instruction, for she says: "Read aloud, my Consuelo."
The girl obeys:—
"Two women decked for sale—the bondwoman compulsorily, the civilized lady voluntarily displaying charms of person for men's purchase."
She can read no further. Her face and throat are crimson with indignation. A tone of mingled pain and sympathy is in her rich voice as site exclaims: "Base and shameful! Oh, dear mother, could such monstrous wrongs have been?" And the other, a grand-looking girl, having eyes promising great power of thought, adds: "My loved and most good aunt, I like not this revolting study—if we are to believe these bestial beings belonged to our species. I do really think they could not have been human. Certainly there is a caricaturing resemblance, but they are not shaped like ourselves."
At these suggestive words Consuelo looks hopefully at her mother, saying: "Ah, yes; might there not have been some mistake made by the old scientists in deciphering the records? Do you really believe we have ascended from such frightful beings?"
Looking very steadfastly at her niece, now at her daughter, she replies:—
"Certainly, my sceptics. No one now doubts evolution. A few thousands of years ago, there yet remained some whose egotism would not allow them even to examine the knowledge. But, in our age, intelligence shines unclouded by that dense ignorance which deferred progress for so great a length of time. In the present, only some unthinking children rebel against the reception of all these grand truths —the accumulation of discoveries, the outcome of brain-work which has continued more than two millions of years. When it is considered how small are the reason, thought and consequent judgment of young minds it is not surprising. I often think we older heads are much too exacting in expecting our dear young students to receive instruction patiently as we impart it."
The girls whose expression had been gradually changing to one of affectionate attention, are about to speak when she continues:—
"No, my birdies, you shall not excuse yourselves for being truthful. You must always give me your opinions, that I may know what knowledge you have attained, and what remains for me to do—though it would conduce more quickly to your improvement if you sometimes reflected before giving them. While entreating you to think, I forget not the immense difficulties so placed before you. I know your powers are yet feeble; but habit strengthens. Never forget the old maxim, 'Think or Sink.'"
'Certain 'tis, one of those two
All human kind must do.'
They move towards another alcove at the extreme end of the gallery. Most womanly women are these! I know not which most to admire—the wisdom, tenderness and benevolence of the instructress, the earnest love and respect of Consuelo, or the resolute, fearless, truth-seeking, affectionate deference of Syra. A noble mind, grandly expressed in her dazzling countenance, has this girl. Though so immature now, she will rule herself and mount in knowledge until she become one of the foremost philosophers of her century. Her words will show many hitherto hidden truths with lightning clearness, and so she will add much new knowledge to the old.In that coming time, you and I, reader, will recognize Syra Kaido:—and, amidst curiously fading memories, will perhaps wonder where we first heard the name.
WE are in the torture department. I shall not describe its sickening details. It contains all the vile instruments devised by Christians for producing physical agony—considered by our ancestors so very essential in their conversion of persons to faith in the unreasonable. While reflecting upon the indisputable fact that hundreds of thousands so suffered rather than profess to believe what they could not—or belie their reason—my heart leaps at thought of their courageous truth! and a feeling of happy pride rushes into my mind, knowing that in Australasia human beings have never suffered such cruel tests by civilized laws, in the name of the Infinite!—Also at knowing that we are entering a region of thought that will bring benevolence into our minds. The real religion—a religion not needing dungeons and red-hot pincers, but born of reason and real reverence for the Great Mind—having sincerity for basis, with bright hope in the future for everyone.
Creeds built on unreason, savagery and hypocrisy can nowhere stand. They must away into the black past, with other outcomes of our tiger blood! Ponder well, oh myth-men all. The sooner you bow to truth, the sooner will you know a nobility of happiness at present so unknown to you.
We stop before a case labelled "Appliances for voluntary torture, used chiefly by women. Some families of notably small minds continued the practices even to the end of the twentieth century, when they were finally abolished—some in consequence of growing intelligence, and some by Parliamentary measures."
Among many articles, the use of which is unknown to my memory, are rings for ears, nose jewels, boots, and stays. By their side a fossil skeleton, with its ribs cruelly bent and displaced.
The elder lady turns to her niece, saying:—
"Here, Syra, are the barbaric implements used by our progenitresses in their ignorance of physiology and crude notions of beauty. Doubtless you will think your pretty apology for hasty expression of erroneous judgment was scarcely due when I tell you the first examination of these bones misled all the naturalists of the day; for, after many meetings and learned discussions, it was concluded that they must have belonged to an extinct variety of ape, until one doctress Verax, in her travels, met with more of those fossil bones, and at last, after several years' careful study and research, satisfactorily proved them human, and the new shape to have been caused by some barbaric distortionary process, all of which was subsequently verified by our valuable records. An authority, for what I endeavour to impart to my dear girls, so incontrovertible that I cannot help feeling a little surprise at their doubts."
To which Syra answers, in a gentle but determined voice:
"I was very wrong, dear aunt, to have uttered any word which might have sounded like doubt in your extensive knowledge, and the more so that I thereby led Consuelo into the same shallow judgment. It is all too clearly true (looking sadly at the models before her). Pierced their flesh to hang therein toys of ornamented metal or stones! Human kind must, indeed, have been low! Deformed the beautifully designed body in ignorant vanity that they could improve it! And these were human beings! Ah, yes, it is too true—and being so (her magnificent eyes flash blindingly), I think every one of these most degrading records of our origin should be utterly destroyed, and all means taken to lose memory of them. When I take my seat in the senate I will frame and introduce a measure for the accomplishment of so desirable a termination. And I . . ."
"Not yet, my sweet rebel," says a deep musical voice.
Two noble-looking gentlemen had entered behind the girls' seats, and listened amusedly to the impassioned words Syra had uttered very grandly. Her expression changes to one of bright glad welcome as she rises to greet her father who continues, with the kindest look I have yet seen in man's eyes:—
"Not yet, Syra. When youth can learn this marvellous plan of human progression, with minds and hearts of obedient resolve, it might be time to efface much that is so sickening in detail. But while students receive such instruction with rebellious feeling, and eyes ablaze with the nation of vanity at hearing they have sprung from these poor ancestors, they are living proofs that the time has, unfortunately, not yet arrived. Nay, say nothing now. Do you not hear mid-day song? Think upon all you have heard and said this morning during your reflection hour, and give me wiser results tomorrow for I shall then be able to take your aunt's place in gallery lectures."
While he had been speaking the other gentleman had entered into conversation with the instructress. As their eyes met, I read marriage in the utmost loveliness and purity. Their every glance shows the great fidelity and lasting affection which can spring only from the mutual respect of one equal for another in that life-long bond. No base concealments in either. No more-than-half-mock deference on one side, received hypocritically with ill-disguised disgust on the other—too often to be seen in the so-called unions of my era. How different is the real union of these very dear friends and companions! Of all enchanting experiences in this far-away age, I have met none more beautiful, more elevating, or so fully expressive of true happiness as the loving and most honorable bond everywhere existing between married persons. Such can never exist between master and slave; neither can it ever grow between self-styled superiors and those they have been taught to consider their inferiors. There never was, and never can be, so high a union while law places one above the other, whether that one be so in reality or not. There are very few marriages where ability is equally balanced—in some the woman's is greater, in some the man's. This natural supremacy, if justice reigned, would adjust itself without heartburnings to any; but so long as law makes one sex dominant—by virtue of sex only—and to that one gives all honors, and opens every avenue to distinction, to the exclusion of the grandest intellect—if the owner be not of that sex—there can reign nothing but disaster everywhere. For the offspring of marriage under such iniquitous laws can only be so much increase to the injustice, deceit, oppression, and all degrading wrongs which have polluted, and still pollute, communities, high and low, past and present, throughout the whole world. For noble happiness to exist between wife and husband, there must be perfect equality of world power. Their interests are the same—the advancement of their species—and one can no more accomplish that without the other than perpetuate it without the other. The time must come when women shall unite with men in the construction of laws which affect every human being. For educated women are producing talented and conscientious men. Every one such man is an assurance of future justice, and consequent progress in the world. Neither sex could quite define what enactments are necessary for the other. There is but one righteous method for arriving at what is wisest and just—namely, their combined judgement on their united interests. Every other can only result in failure, as is daily to be seen.
Some there are who say: "If we permit woman to go beyond her sphere (?), domestic duties will be neglected." In plainer language, "If we acknowledge woman is human, we shall not get so much work out of her."
I wonder the most foolish, even of male fools, are not sick and ashamed of uttering such silly, shallow objections. To hear those men discuss the question one would imagine if women had the franchise they would of necessity be voting from morning until night every day of their lives, to the complete neglect of everything conducive to man's comfort. Do merchants or professional men neglect business because they are allowed power to vote? Do mechanics or labourers neglect their work because they have the right to record their opinion upon the merits or demerits of candidates for legislation? If voting or reflecting upon whom to vote for interfered with duties, then by their own ruling it would be far more likely to do so with men—because they assert that their occupations require more thought than those of women. Now most of woman's work, at present, only requires pretty strong muscles and patience. She has, therefore, more time for thinking about the world's economy than have men; and she does think often more deeply than men, who, with their grosser comprehension, failing to understand hers are perfectly satisfied in calling her "stupid."
I can assure these objectors to progress that when woman no longer has occasion to fret under disabilities, which are hers in common with criminals and lunatics, her tasks will be far more cheerfully performed. Her long hours of toilsome drudgery will be brightened by the feeling that she is more than a broom or incubator; equally with men a power in the State—no longer to be treated as a born inferior by every male imp over twelve years of age. She will reflect upon the various qualifications of the candidates, with her great powers of observation and deduction. She will remember who may have proved themselves deficient in truth and ability, and she will record her vote against such candidates—for woman performs all her work conscientiously—and will not fail when raised to a dignified position. Faculties, which in many are now little more than latent in her, as in the larger number of men, will rapidly develop to the progression of all human kind.Others say, voting will render woman unwomanly. What unreasonable talk! I tell such men they make women "unwomanly" when they put more children in their houses than can be wholesomely or nobly reared. That most perniciously to all concerned renders woman unwomanly, and injures her in every way as mother and citizen. But a woman will never become unwomanly through exerting her intellect in erecting institutions or fashioning laws, which are to either save or ruin her children. And this is, in honest fact what franchise means to our sex—nothing other than increasing our power and thought for the future welfare of our dear ones.
THEY have gone, and I now fly with my new power of speed to join the glorious throngs flocking from all parts of the building on their homeward way.
What a scene and sound of mirth and gladness! Surely these happy beings have no sorrow greater than that occasioned by looking into the doings of their progenitors. No corroding, cowardly fear of death born of vicious doctrines. Both sexes, and all ages, are elastic with health of body and healthy hopes.
Some are earnestly discussing; some joyously greeting friends as they meet in the enormous hall, forming the junction of the many galleries; others brimming with fun over a recital of experiences or suggestions. Yet, notwithstanding this mixture of multitudinous sounds there is nothing jarring to the ear, or in any way offensive. It is a bright, perfect moving picture! The greater number, old and young, are singing "mid-day song." I have caught a stanza:—
Here is another advancing—so sweetly!—from one of the other galleries:—
Every ear is so well in tune, by nature and correct tuition, that no false notes are uttered. Now and again some of the talkers join in for a verse or two, and this occasions a magical crescendo, gradually diminishing as the foremost ones leave the hall. Talking, laughing and singing form one great harmonious music, making quite a new excitation to my spirit—only partly to be imagined by hearing one of Wagner's illustrious marches, faithfully performed by thousands of Albonis, Grisis, Marios and such singers. Could Wagner also have had a vision of this happy future age, and heard its music? I think so. Then little cause for wonder is there that his orchestras could not quite render the splendid harmony he alone had heard.
SOME will expect me to describe the clothing worn by these enchanting human beings. I am so very ignorant of dress language that I fear being unable to make my impressions understood by such seekers for information. They may be certain that wisdom is not wrapped in swaddling clothes. Here is far more uniformity of make than in my era; yet—and many will think this strangely inexplicable—the individuality of each person is far more apparent than is to be found in my era, where absurdities are so closely followed that it is difficult to tell one ninny from another. I find the explanation of this great difference in the simple fact that these beautifully graceful beings are natural.
The women wear rather loose, prettily but not over-ornamented, trousers. Tunic; sometimes made in one garment from the shoulders. Others have it from waist only, and short jacket fitting freely. No superfluous folds or trimming. Nothing tightened—not a skewer anywhere! Tunic worn longer by the elderly.Material is as perfect as is all else here, but I know not of what it is composed—a discovery we have yet to make. Rich and soft beyond any fabric I have seen! Colours are everywhere harmoniously blended, and suiting complexions of the wearers. Anything more picturesque in groups of humanity than these now delighting my wondering eyes cannot be imagined.
Their feet are encased in some very yielding material—not leather; nowhere is any to be found. It is perfectly protecting, yet allows plainly to be observed all those pretty little movements of an untrammelled step. This adds a great charm to the whole body, enabling it to take any position firmly and naturally.
When I think of my unfortunate contemporaries, hobbling along in the imprisoning, unyielding, high-heeled boot of the period, the memory is most hideous and lamentable.
The men and boys dress somewhat in the now ridiculed aesthetic style—which is a graceful, becoming, handsome and modest one.
Neither women nor men wear any black.
Though all clothe simply as to form, I could never have imagined anything so perfect in dress as the effects caused by this wondrous fabric of which these clothes are made.Hair is short (not shaved) on every head—for in their age all is cleanliness. Hats or caps, varying in form according to fancy of wearer, easily removed, and always becoming.
HERE is a very animated group! Amongst them are those with whom I passed my morning. No trace of the gloom their most unpleasant studies had caused them to feel so sadly. Bright glances and joyous sounds from all!
How changed are the two rebels, Syra Kaido and Frederick! If marriage were not forbidden to them for the next five or six years, I should think they would soon be "comrades." I am not sure if I have before told that wife and husband are here so designated; the old terms signifying master and servant having been abandoned ages ago.
There is my beautiful Veritée, laughing merrily at something her father has just said to her and her mother.
Now they all join the song and turn to leave. I will not again lose them.
Wottah runs after us with more of his nonsense—sung this time—and creates fresh hilarity between the young people.
We have descended the steps and I now see many entrances of the same size as the one by which I stood in the early morning.
We settle ourselves in a handsome, comfortably constructed carriage. Veritée moves a small handle—we rise, over the throngs of people, clear of the buildings, and away we go. Oh, the pleasurable feeling! Nothing has ever equalled it, save in dream travels. Mid-day song floating after us—very faintly now, more like whispered music. And the glorious scene! or more correctly panoramas—as we fly over the pretty houses, surrounded by flourishing gardens;—for here are no buildings crowded together, breeding disease in its many cruel shapes. Every dwelling has around it a certain quantity of land, in which are growths of use and decoration. No sign of poverty in homes or people. Green restful valleys, aspiring hills, and on one side magnificent mountains, with their marvellous clefts, varying heights, and many shades of beautiful tints. The whole is just what one would love to look at and think about for ever.
We have come a great distance, and are now descending. We alight in a paved enclosure; evidently the resting-place for our carriage, for there is one part roofed to protect it from rain.
House stands on columns a few feet high. A flight of steps, so perfectly constructed that no one feels any exertion in mounting them, leads to a lobby, from which we pass into a corridor running the whole length of the house—which is prettily curved, as are all buildings, more or less; some being quite circular. At a glance I think its length is about 80 feet, and 20 feet in width. In the outer wall are large, high bay-windows, reaching nearly to the floor, stained to cause a pleasant soft light, yet not excluding view of the landscape. So they look much like magnificent pictures hung against the wall—for the glass of windows is in one piece. Between them are statues in niches, and ornamented supports, holding books and music. The roof is slightly arched—I know the acoustic qualities are faultless. In the inner wall are handsome glass doors, opening into suites of rooms.Here my darlings separate for bath and "reflection hour."
It must be one o'clock. No one has yet complained of hunger or talked of food—I wonder if these people ever eat!
While the young students are on their way to their respective apartments, the parents exchange a look of affectionate pride. Oh, that I were an artist! I would give my century some delighting pictures from this distant age!These tender parents and true friends, how fascinating they are! Their brave, reliable, loving eyes speaking perfect ease of spirit and mind of noble endeavour. They are lovely as they step into the soft light from each window during their promenade to and fro, discussing earnestly a matter beyond my understanding.
BEFORE the door of Verite's room lies a handsome animal. It somewhat resembles a Newfoundland dog, with a tiger's skin, but eyes of dutiful love. Why is this? It growls at my approach, as it doubtless would were I dressed in my earth body, and a troubled look is in its face!
The door opens. I enter her room while Veritée caresses the animal, saying: "Not your time yet, Leoni. You are impatient this afternoon. Lie quietly, you unreasonable old dear."
We are in Veritée's study—a pretty room, shelves full of books, small table (by which is a full-length statue holding a torch) and two comfortable chairs. We pass through a bathroom into the sleep chamber;—bed without hangings or other disease-creating rubbish about it, yet it is far prettier than those we have in use. By the head is the light-giving statue, which is, at the same time, refinement and utility. In file further side is large glass door, opening to a verandah or balcony, having steps along its whole length which is that of the house, leading into a garden—so pleasant with its new and varied growths that it almost made me forget Veritée.
She has taken off her outer clothes, and on the only chair is laying those wondrous garments—impossible to crush, yet so lustrous. Her under dress is a duplicate suit of silk, more closely fitting. Now she goes through various bodily exercises. How graceful is her every action!
Calisthenics over, she goes into the bath-room, admits water, and, with some contrivance unknown to me, makes it of requisite temperature.
Removing her silken covering, she plunges into the bath. Oh, stays wearers! high-heeled, tight boots wearers! that you could see the exquisite formation of this girl's body! The finest statuary you have ever seen would be clumsy by comparison with her. Even the beautifully shaped Chloé, after my Veritée, sinks to a pert-looking disproportioned human animal—and your own shape grotesquely offensive! I feel really the "half brute" these people think us, compared with her. It seems a profanation for one of my gross era to even look at her.Leo growls.
BATH and dressing have not occupied more than ten minutes—yet here she is, fit to join the most resplendent company that ever was.
Again Leo growls.
This time Vefitée admits him. In passing me he mutters discontentedly—strange coincidence, if it is one! or can animals know more than humankind? Can Leoni know there is in this pure life a remnant—or visitor, or whatever my presence here may mean—from the ignorant ages?
The girl walks to and fro, reflecting—the dog or tiger, whichever it is, following her closely.
Now she seats herself, Leo stands before her and looks wistfully in her eyes, as if he would dearly love to communicate something. She takes his massive head between her hands, and looking affectionately at him, says:
"Now, Leoni, kind old tiger, you are not acting quite honorably to-day. You know I allowed you to enter earlier on condition that you would lie quietly and not disturb my thoughts." Here the faithful beast looks appealingly at her, as if to reply: "Dear mistress mine, how I burn to tell you of danger near." Then, feeling how impossible it is, he lays his enormous paw upon her knee—which looks as if it might break her delicate leg—turns towards me and utters a menacing growl."Leoni you are certainly inexplicable."
Removing his paw from her knee, she has an expression like that I saw on her mother's face in the gallery. Has the animal directed her thought?
"Leoni, my friend, I have been thinking that both you and I had decidedly objectionable ancestor; but (caressing him) they are not here to prevent us from doing our duty in this better life. Go you, dear fellow and lie down while I think about our wretched past. If you disturb me again, I must dismiss you."
The last words were said so decisively that the tiger instantly obeyed, his furry face expressing love and sadness as plainly as I have seen them in human countenance.
Veritée again walks her room—a perfect young beauty in her meditation! I feel it would be a very long time before I should grow weary of the picture now before me. Soft landscape, seen through the glass door. Tiger lying in attitude of repose, with eyes so devotedly watchful! The light statue. Total absence of tawdry, senseless ornaments, the only decoration being fine painting on the walls. A very pleasant light from above; and this graceful, beautiful, high-minded girl thinking deeply while she walks to and from me.Having walked during fully half an hour, she seats herself at the table and writes in a large book, on the cover of which is "Thoughts."
A SMALL bell sounds near her chair. She rises instantly, and even while she goes towards the door her look of deep study has passed away.
Frederick joins her in the corridor. A romp with the great kind tiger gives some picturesque grouping. Except the impress on features of thought that has been, and can again be, all expression of reflection has gone from their faces as the young people gambol along, laughing gaily at "Leo's unusual delight at leaving school."
We enter a large room, in which are their parents. Must I describe it? It seems to my mind anyone might imagine such an apartment in such an age of reason.
Bereft of all old curiosity lumber—which I firmly believe is only a device for causing work—it is sensibly and elegantly a room where one can walk or rest in comfort. Light-statues, of course; painted walls, I mean subject-painting; two tables; and a few very resting chairs of pretty workmanship. At the opposite end to the one by which we entered are three wide glass doors, opening on to the verandah. Thence looking over the garden, is a view more beautiful than any other I have seen.
In centre of the room is a pillar, having looking-glass all round without a visible line to mar the effect, which is exquisite, especially where it reflects that marvellous scenery so wondrously enchanting. Yet I have only power to describe it as hills, near and far, bewilderingly shaded. The numerous tints, some quite new to my eyes caused by the bright flowers here and there abounding. Afar is a cascade, the shining water from which is to be traced at various angles among the valleys until it terminates in a lake to the right, bordered by magnificent trees. Near that are dwellings, pleasant pictures in themselves. Everywhere the freshness and the hope of spring!
But these poor words can give only a very imperfect idea of the splendors, and the grandeur of the scene on which I gaze.
With feelings of deepest reverence I wonder—and for the thousandth time, at least, sigh for a life of such beauty and purity!
A concerted laugh arouses me. On turning I find Leo staring apparently into my face and muttering.
"What does he see?" says Frederick. Then his sister tells him of his conduct in her room, which is generally considered as something remarkable.
During my absorption at the window they have prepared a dinner, or whatever it is named—five or six absurdly small loaves, three different kinds of fruit that has evidently been stored from summer (all new sorts) and a vessel of water. Not much after so long a fast! yet I learn they will take no more until to-morrow morning.
As with the young people, so it is with their parents—all look, words and tone of study gone. They enter into the humor of their children, and every one of the happy assemblage seems young.Afternoon pastime is under discussion. Veritée wishes to accompany her mother and father to senate, to hear the debates. Frederick is anxious to go to Waratah (100 miles away), that he might have an hour in the museum. At last it is decided that, the day being exceptionally fine, they should "fly over to the West coast," and "have a run on the beach."
THIS is delightful! High in the air, flying along at the rate of about 80 miles an hour.
After having left their parents at the Senate Palace, the children and I are fairly on our journey. Frederick guides, while Veritée has charge of the repellor, which is the really onerous care—for a mistake with steerer would only change their course; but neglect of the repellor might result in loss of life, and life is sacred in this age.
Onward we go! The exciting swiftness arouses very strange sensations. For some minutes I could notice nothing distinctly—our present speed is so much greater than that on return from gallery lecture. All is so new and wonder-rousing to a most bewildering degree. Hills, valleys, plains, lakes, all things appear to be rushing madly towards us, while we await their coming.
Now a mountain passes under us, within a few feet of our vehicle, chilling us with its snow and glaciers. Now a tumbled mass of hills, rocks and streams fly along far below us—an awful depth! Wonders and grandeurs everywhere!
Strangely and sweetly contrasting with this furious race of inanimate objects there comes a sound, which I think would be powerful to save even a breaking reason—simply a song from the occupants of an advancing car. Who has never heard this entrancing music cannot imagine it. It absorbs all thought. One feels it is everything! and one wishes for nothing else. When the last notes have faded away, the mind has calmed, and the rushing world seems more orderly in its progress. After more than an hour of this travelling we slacken speed. Beneath us pass along enormous boulders, rocks, precipices and high cliffs. A broad white beach, miles in length, rises to us and gently receives our carriage.
A few other carriages are here also. My darlings alight, and joyfully meet some young friends, among whom are their cousins, Carl and Justina, who, I hear, are coming to practise glees this evening.
They all roam gaily about the beach. Some have brought bathing-dresses—and merry parties of maidens and youths are dancing in the bright sea.
Here are some extraordinarily beautiful rock formations—nature's sculpture! grandest of all!But I shall remain in the carriage, and reflect over what has already been taught me.
Good night, good night,
THESE words, sung by sweet voices, arouse me. Nearer they come. Veritée and Frederick are dismissing their visitors.
They returned from the beach, and have passed happy hours in song and dance, while I have been——where?
I enter the house with them.
They are separating for night-rest, when Veritée exclaims:
"Look at Leo! One would imagine he sees what we cannot—and something not pleasing to see."
Leoni is certainly gazing into my eyes with an expression of contempt and dread. Are we, then, in some respects deserving the contumely even of beasts? Does the animal really see me? What can it mean?
Is this, after all, no distant age? or is it the future of a higher world, into whose seas portions of our disrupted earth shall fall! Then, no wonder these young people find their lesson so distasteful.
What are worlds? ages? life? death?—Death! That word ought not to be. There can be no death. Light comes; but, oh, how dazzling! It is too bewildering for my imperfect mind.My thoughts are flying in the whirling manner some of those hills and ravines we so lately passed over. Infinite powers! Whatever—— Oh, vain atom!
YESTERDAY'S flight was too much for me; but a bright fresh morning has brought restoration of my tired faculties.
Breakfast—vegetables and bread—just finished. A servant clears the table. She opens a door in the glass pillar, and by a flight of stairs follows the tray, which is being raised to an upper room used for the performance of what little culinary work there is to be done.
This woman, a complete lady in all her movements, will work until twelve o'clock, then leave, having the remainder of the day for recreation or instruction. She has the same expression of noble integrity that all people here have. Refined and graceful as her employer.
Again in the air carriage with all the family. This motion appears very little after yesterday's, and being nearer the ground there is no longer that half-maddening illusion which so disturbed my power of thought. Besides, the human mind soon becomes accustomed to what was at first a startling novelty to its unused strength. Veritée cleverly steers the carriage through a wide opening, into the highest room of a large factory.
Her father alights. Carl steps into his uncle's place, amidst mingled adieus and greetings and we start for the instruction galleries.
Carl is about twenty-six. He has a grandly good countenance, evidencing thought of high tendency.I learn he accompanies us to take the carriage back, that his uncle may join us "after work."
I hear some say, "work!" Yes, my fine pretentious fools of the nineteenth century, that noble man—gentleman in his every thought, word and act—is a mechanic; his "comrade" far excelling the "greatest lady" among you.
Education, bringing its refinement into the mind as surely to be reflected in speech and actions, is the true and certain leveller.
Intellect and benevolence are the coming aristocrats, before whom you shams must disappear. You, who have extra words before your names because some of your ancestors were more brutal or more subtle in legalised murder, for that, and naught higher, is the horrid remnant of savage customs called war. As reward for unusual ferocity in helping their chiefs to rob some, who were numerically weaker, of their homes, your ancestors were apportioned slices of such robberies—politely termed annexations—to which was added the privilege of placing an additional word or words before their names. Then compelled the rightful owners of such lands to slave for them, by which means they acquired wealth as contemptibly as they did lands and titles. Because you were born to a name having those extra words attached, you consider your so-called noble selves too exquisite to associate with others who are really often far above you. You think you confer a favor in receiving, as your guest, a person of scientific or literary acquirements, if such person have only a few letters after her or his name. The time is steadily advancing when those letters will be the only titles the world will respect.To none others would I bow; and this not, as some little minds may imagine, from paltry envy, for one of those contemptible blood-stained titles is in my own family. Should a son of mine succeed to it, I would implore him not to disgrace his name by adding sham honors thereto.
WE have arrived. Again I am in the court-yard of this palace of learning. Together we mount the steps. As we proceed towards an alcove, more of earnestness comes in all their faces—noticeable in every group taking places for study.
My darlings all have removed hats, and are seated.
At his mother's request, Frederick reads from book of reference:
"These strange-looking implements were used by those half-brutal people to destroy life, when they coveted the possessions of other communities, or to avenge any insult to their vanity. So merciless were they that, not content with annihilating their own kind in their frightful encounters, they also killed vast numbers of an elegant animal called the horse. Many writers of the twenty-first century affirm that its intelligence often exceeded that of its owner. For further information see the interesting work entitled 'Where is the Horse?' by Z. Darrin, said to have ascended from an ancient writer named Darwin, who, with a few others of his time, met with great opposition and vituperation, because they used their reason more than was customary in those ages."
"Of course," says the mother, "no writers of that early time could have reached the present stage of knowledge, and they were consequently at fault in many of their deductions. But that was not the cause of the foolish gibes with which unthinkers assailed them. It was the atom of truth they had surely discovered, which was so offensive to the ignorance and prejudice of their contemporaries. (Turning to the cases facing their alcove.) Now examine those representations—you will there see how little removed from brutes were the men of that fierce age."
In one half of first case are correct models of an arsenal and "munition of war." The other half shows two opposing armies preparing for attack.
The second case well demonstrates the small value of life in our times. Heaps of horses and men dead or dying! The "Conquering Heroes" (so they are labelled) are cruelly illusing every living being, even women and children.
Another represents the two "Crowned Heads," who had directed all these horrors, shaking hands. "The one whose murderous implements had destroyed the most, having thus compelled the other to call a piece of land by another name; all people living upon it to be subject to the conqueror—henceforth to act and feign to think according to his mighty will. Such terrible injustice was frequently perpetrated when one chief or monarch uttered some puerile insult concerning another—or, more often, when he coveted some country not ruled over by him."
I extract the foregoing from book of reference.
As the students examine those horrors and savage pomp, their feelings become too excited for utterance. After observing them during a few minutes, their mother says:
"Yes, my darlings truly a most shocking and pitiable sight—yet those atrocities, and others even exceeding them, were frequently committed under the cloak of religion. So great were their vanity and ignorance of noble ideas that they made loud boasts of their 'victories'—so those murders were called—and myth-men in their churches thanked their God for them. Tender innocent children were constantly undergoing scourgings and other barbarous punishments in their schools, for being unable to remember lessons containing names of those slaughters and the principal slaughterers."
I can attest the truth of this! When between six and seven years of age I have been kept standing on a form until my delicate limbs ached, and had frequently to undergo similar torture—to say nothing of sundry cuffings and other assaults—because my young mind refused to be saturated with knowledge of those bloody deeds. Rote lessons on unnecessary subjects have done, and are doing, immense harm to the young.
Her eyes wear the expression of looking back through intervening ages. Mournful, and so beautiful, in her large-minded pity! nobility—real nobility—stamped on every feature. Reflectively she continues:
"There are some, besides students, who think the deeds of those ignorant times ought to be consigned to oblivion—others are of opinion that human nature has not yet sufficiently advanced to lose memory of such deterrent examples. Indeed, it is scarcely 2000 years since a man was convicted of endeavouring to borrow money, and several teachers punished for striking their pupils. I fear it will be long ere our blood be quite safe from reversion; in which case we should have to re-commence all. Such deterioration occurred frequently within human knowledge in the early ages. Several times intelligence struggled as far as it attained in the twentieth century of the Age of Blood—when as often, the dreadful tiger taint threw all back again."
Frederick interrupts her, and there is real astonishment in his voice as he asks: "Were tigers ever so cruel as this? (Pointing to the 'Conquering Heroes.') If so, our kind pet, Leoni, cannot be of the same species."
"Yes, dear, it has been as conclusively proved that the congener of our sweet-tempered, gentle animal was the mean ferocious tiger of that age as that these fierce murder-loving men were the progenitors of our noble-minded Fredericks and Carls of the present day. You must take into your analysis of our history that in those sadly ignorant old times, men, and many other vindictive animals, devoured flesh. It is easy to understand bow such a primeval diet would tend to the conservation of blood-thirsty instincts, more especially if eaten uncooked, as by the tigers then. Indeed, in some countries there existed brutes in somewhat of human form, who ate anything that had lived—cooked or not—even their own species."
"Oh, horrible! (Looking at the cases.) Yet it was not much worse than the amusements of the 'Conquering Heroes.' What could be more contemptibly ferocious than that one who has just divided an infant with his cruel blade."
Very sorrowfully his mother replied:"Yes, even worse than that was done by those heroes. So much more so that it could not be represented here. could not be told in the present era—all of which was the result of a state of ignorance, impossible for us to fully imagine. In these war records you have seen one great cause of premature death, cruelty, grief and misery, which endured long, very long, after the originators had passed away, and their vanity forgotten. But (rising from her seat) the greatest factor of calamity of every known sort under which poor ignorant humanity has writhed in agony—bodily and mental—I have yet to inform you upon.
WE are again behind the cases, on our way to another alcove.
Admiringly I glance at the beautiful groups of parents and their student children.
We stop before cases labelled "Drink."
Seeing Frederick look amazed, his mother says:
"The word drink had a different signification then to that it has with us. It was generally understood as a term for various mixtures of the poison, alcohol and water, swallowed by people to reduce their mental power until they became—some like young children in understanding, some idiotic, some resembled wild beasts of the most ferocious nature, and others committed acts worse than any beast was ever known to descend to; according to the temperament of the imbiber, were produced those direful effects. So universal was the wish for that deadly poison that the sellers of it accumulated large fortunes."
He indignantly interrupts her with:
"What a degradation to possess wealth obtained by such ignoble means!""So it was thought, even in their age, by advanced moralists, But often the dealer in alcoholic drinks passed as a parson devoted to the Infinite. (Seeing Frekerick's eyes flash.) Try always to remember the half-barbarous times are reviewing. All young students make the mistake of judging the past by our advanced natures."
Veritée looks pleadingly at her mother, as if saying: "Some things are so hard to bear unmoved." And Frederick tells her he will listen to all she has to say, "even if distressing as that last information, without again transgressing."
Smiling kindly at them, she desires Frederick to examine the further case, adding: "And patiently—remember a progressed state of thought is always patient with the ignorant."
Not being of this advanced age myself, I cannot help bitterly contrasting the mechanic's noble "comrade"—so exalted in nature, benevolently reviewing the misdeeds of our time—with some of our fashionable mothers. How are their mornings passed? In dressing, reading silly novels, or otherwise ignobly wasting time in paying and receiving visits. Simply an interchange of communication, without intellect, love or friendship! where, too often, the absent are smirched with the polite filth of scandal-loving tongues, and where the estimable of human kind are judged by their incomes. The children of such poor fools, where are they? If very young, their tender lives are in the care of paid attendants—strangers. If of school age, the daughters are undergoing a veneering of education, and the practice of unnatural attitude—which is supposed by some to be particularly expressive of superfine breeding.
The sons are learning to become Solomons and Davids, both by the quality of their classical studies and their early experience in male liberty—that is, the extensive indulgence shown to all excesses and frivolity—when committed by their sex.
Thus we cling to the disgraceful "morality" of the past, and perform our utmost to preserve what of brute remains in us. And, as if to destroy all antidote, we deny access to libraries and places of refining influence on Sundays—the only day the unfortunate many have to recreate their toil-worn minds or bodies. Then we lower the corners of our hypocritical mouths and, with true Pecksniff snuffle, proclaim ourselves "God-fearing people!" Well, too well, we might "fear," after such misdoing, were the Infinite one-thousandth part as ferocious as such persons have represented! For all these young people will have compensation for their week's drudgery; and where have we driven them to seek it? Ah, poor human kind! Tiger, bull and goat relationship will long be discerned in us, under such fatal mistakes as are constantly being committed by the self-styled wisdom of our ignorant legislators.
Frederick is still looking at the drunken scenes degrading human kind. His mother silently reads all that is passing in his humane reflections. Veritée, to whom those models are not new, is thinking the growing general opinion—that all such sights are unnecessary in their era.
Yet they show not a hundredth of the evils resulting hourly from use of alcohol as a stimulant! When he sees one representing a man beating his wife, he returns to his chair saying: "It is sickening. Did persons really so destroy their minds until, it appears to me, their conduct was lower than that of apes?"
"Too truly, my son. Alcoholic drink was one of the most degrading drawbacks of progress that human kind ever suffered from. It was a disease. It fastened itself in the system; and, while corroding every organ, forced its miserable victim to repeat and increase the doses, until dissolution in direst torments ended a wretched life which might have been happy useful and painless. The taint was transmitted to our species for thousands of years. When the child of a drunkard commenced to take such drinks, even in very small quantities, the dormant tendency to that noxious disease soon awakened, and became past cure. Alcohol fostered, and even increased, the strength of brute instincts until men's acts were truly, as you say below those of beasts. Under its influence the most revolting of war's horrors were enacted; every sacred feeling cruelly outraged; and human will was fast becoming only a powerful force for creating universal unhappiness—when a brave few, seeing the state of confusion into which all were drifting, made a determined stand against its further use. As I have often had occasion to point out, any combination in the cause of right must succeed. After many centuries of firm resolve, they arrested the evil by legislation; for at last, the many who had objected to what they thought an indignity, had sense enough to agree to it as the only means for saving the weak-minded, who had not force of will to save themselves, and the world, from the baleful effects of their irresolution. Repressive measures were continued for about forty thousand years. In that time the human structure gradually changed to a higher form; then intoxication became impossible, as the introduction of spirits into the system occasioned instantaneous death or agony great as that caused by some other poisons, but not to be relieved by any antidote, as its volatile nature precludes the possibility of extracting it. It flew at once to the brain, and made the poor sufferer feel as if his—I say his, because women left off the habit of drinking alcohol very many years before men had sufficient sense to follow their example—head had suddenly became red-hot metal. (Turning to her daughter.) I perfectly concur with your reflections, my Veritée. Our physical nature being unable to sustain, unharmed, even a drop of this powerful poison it is time to utterly destroy all these debasing reminders, and eliminate from our studies this one overwhelming ignorance of the past. In our physiological lectures you will learn some of its frightful effects on the bodily organs—coarse though they were in that crude stage of human growth. Also, you will then see a model of the last medical man who prescribed the use of alcohol. The parliament had him hung by the neck until he was dead."
I think Frederick is about to express approval of that decree, but Veritée says, thoughtfully:
"Yes, dear mother, you are always right. I was so reflecting. Also, whether reversion might not again change our structure to one of a lower type, and so fit us more for those degrading tastes and habits; and if that be possible—pardon nay presuming—as to the advisability of so fearful a risk."
With much tenderness in her voice, the mother replies:
"'Pardon' and 'presuming.' My dear one, you know nothing of the pleasure your words give me. You prove the use made of your reflection hours. You have philosophically entered upon thought of deep import. Only yesterday your dear father was discussing that very view of the subject; but we have not time to-day. Next week it will be debated in full senate, and you shall be present."They are informed that the alcove they wish to occupy is now vacant, and we move towards it.
SEATED, the students look at what is here represented for their instruction. Frederick reads:
"Coal-mining in the early centuries. Connected with this gloomy case is one of the brightest of discoveries, and, though made in that almost savage age, has proved of lasting value to all civilized communities—namely, the use of coal as a fertiliser. A woman in the nineteenth century first reasoned out the truth, and gave her knowledge to the world as the world's right. But, as woman's opinions were little understood or prized when men were in so ignorant a state, her idea was only derided, or experimented so ignorantly that the proper use of coal was abandoned until a man discovered it accidentally, about two hundred years later. When its efficiency had been proved—to do which he was furnished with every facility—the Government took immediate steps to prevent any further waste by burning of so precious an aid to agriculture."
He looks up quickly, and in a tone of great astonishment repeats: "Burning!"
"Yes, previous to that discovery it was only used for heating and lighting. The gas it contains, which is so necessary to vegetation, but so destructive to human life, was thus ever polluting the air and caused much sickness—the origin of which was totally unsuspected by the sufferers. When men at last understood the real value of coal, it was the very help for which our over-tired earth was languishing; for at that time, humans were fast abandoning flesh diet for one of pulse, grain and fruit. So the products of primeval forests were again spread over the soil to give what was necessary for the perfect growth of a higher vegetation. This grand provision of nature's I think as wonderful as beautiful! When the new use of coal became general, it gradually rid the ground of all the various insects, by whose depredations farming people were often ruined. It proved the most powerful stimulus, not only to agriculture, but to mechanics that the world has ever known!"
"I read your thoughts. You anticipate with some alarm the exhaustion of so rich a treasure. All young thinkers are very much alike. They err from inability to combine ideas and review the whole; not surprising that it is so, since there never has been but one mind that could thoroughly combine. Those still feebler thinkers of the nineteenth century were also apprehensive of coal failure and sometimes uttered dismal fears that the inhabitants of the world would perish for want of light and warmth. Now think how much more wholesome and cleanly are our present means for obtaining light and heat! Those younger children imagined they worshipped the Infinite Mind as all perfect—yet never dreamed they, at the same time, doubted Its perfection by such, fears. Perfect whole means perfect details; perfect universe, perfect worlds; to every grain of apparently useless soil upon them. No loss—no death—simply change, which constitutes one perpetual motion. When our carboniferous treasure shall have became exhausted, or changed, be sure other changes have been likewise working; probably ourselves the agents of such change, by our very use of what we think a too-surely vanishing supply. The nature of it is as impossible for us to understand as a growing change in physical structure was to those far more ignorant people of the past. Experience has taught us that no matter what our righteous needs may be, the requisites for supplying them are either awaiting our learning and research, or making correlative growth. Then away with all doubt or fear upon what we cannot yet take part in! We must hope and trust with a hope and trust as infinite as our spirits."
All are silent and thoughtful. Before us the wretched old mine, with its sad workers. Naked children toiling, nearly naked women and men harnessed to carts full of coal; going through low-roofed roadways, on hands and knees, drawing their wearying loads to the apparatus for raising to the outer world those changed glories of the grand, solemn old forests—the unlovely part of whose history can only be guessed.
Long they have thought. I have before observed it is the practice of this lady, after having aroused her pupils' interest, to let them reflect awhile. At last Frederick asks, with unusual emphasis on his words:
"Did the people who were called pious warm themselves by coal obtained in so shocking a manner?"
At this moment his father enters. Having heard the lad's strange question, he defers explaining the reason of his early appearance, and answers:
"My son, the 'pious' people committed worse acts than that. You know not yet half the baseness we have evolved from. You have only reached the nineteenth century. That was scarcely past the great transition period (reckoning downwards), when those pitiable barbarians had begun to claim the right of their own minds to think for themselves. You have, of course, noted how long it took before they succeeded in quite disentangling themselves from the chains of superstition. But when you examine the centuries below the nineteenth—especially as will be shown in your dear mother's mythological lectures—you will learn how sadly and continually struggling humanity suffered from the mistaken and bigoted beliefs of the 'pious'; so much so that the very name grew to be hateful in the ears of the reverent truth-seeker. Evolution is somewhat frightful—particularly while studying it downwards—but withal a wondrously cheering study! For we know we are rising always higher above those dreadful ages of ignorance, with its inevitable sufferings. But I have come to end, not continue, the lecture (taking his comrade's hand), dearest, for I have grand news! Your sister's clever children have gained the principal certificate in engineering. Next week they will have honorable letters to their names! They brought me here, in their soon-to-be famous carriage, to abridge your lecture, that we may all fly to Waratah this afternoon—and children, we will go over the sea now covering ancient Sydney! We shall arrive there before two o'clock—for the 'Scud' really does make 140 miles an hour. It gives quite new sensation! Justina and Carl are in the court-yard. They were coming with me, but were compelled to remain to answer questions about their invention."
This news gives rejoicing and excitement. Hats are quickly adjusted, and away we almost run down the long gallery.
I wonder how I shall bear 140 miles, after feeling 80 so bewildering!
How is this? They descend the steps and I cannot stir! I am detained firmly—exactly at the spot where the sweetly truthful voices of these people first charmed my ears!They hasten down, wishing to seat themselves before the students leave, otherwise they would be too long delayed.
Justina—a lovely woman, about twenty-nine years old, having the same talented expression so attractive in her brother Carl—is already surrounded by friends, who draw aside as her relatives approach.They ascend amidst pleasing congratulations, and sounds of enthusiastic admiration follow them when their motor begins to show some of its wonderful power, for which there is now plenty of unoccupied space—because it wants little more than half an hour to noon, after which time no work is permitted;—and as these persons are both too wise and too humane to defer much to the last hour, the streets and air are already nearly cleared of vehicles. How swiftly my darlings are being borne from me! Only a few minutes have passed, and I scarcely see them! My eyes ache, and—ah me!—so does my heart. Shall we ever meet?
POOR children of my era! How sadly and dangerously you have to gain knowledge!—pent up like sheep.
Your tender minds and frail bodies, tried two or three years too soon, and several hours too long each school-day. Little wonder so many small coffins occupy our cemeteries—and that legal murders are fast becoming beyond computation.No child ought to be under scholastic discipline before seven years of age, and each day no later than noon. An hour of afternoon should be devoted by parents to assisting their children in what few rote lessons they might have to learn. Between that and bed-time, which ought to be at an early hour, nothing more should tax their young minds. Night study cannot be otherwise than injurious for children. Two days of each week their education ought to be entirely taken charge of by one of the parents. Ultimately, it would lead to gallery instruction, which would benefit both children and teachers.
WHAT a happy age is this far-off one! No skeletons of mythology are here deadening or vitiating one-seventh of these people's lives. How different are their faces to those of my century!—where nine-tenths are stamped the hideous seal of hypocrisy.
Oh! that I might be permitted to remain! Sighing longingly, I look upon the beautiful scene before me.
While thinking how delightful to live in a town so bright—so pure within as without—a voice answers my spirit's request:"You remain! Have you forgotten how the potter's clay thought it, also, ought to have a place of honor with the refined porcelain, because that had once been but clay? No, you must now leave this age. Return to your own, where so very much has to be done. Use well and courageously your little power to aid in crumbling those skeletons of myths. Arouse cowards, whose growing reason has taught them disbelief in creeds—which sufficed well enough for humankind when its nature was little higher than that of the ape—yet who have neither the courage nor the honor to own and act up to the great truths so surely evolved in their inner minds. Show them the happiness—the independence the real nobility—of acting truly; even though only a few should fully understand the honesty of their lives in so doing. Obey well. You will be rewarded by never losing sight of the light from this age, and thus fit yourself to be one of us. Away to your work!"
While the voice pronounced those last words, "mid-day song" came rolling down the galleries. In vain I implore for one half-hour longer, to hear that glorious music.
Firmly, yet sorrowfully, the voice repeats "Away!"
I am flying through ages of always decreasing light and beauty, while the students' enchanting harmony rings in my ears:
I HAVE returned to our earth. Oh, what cruel disorder here reigns! Truth crashed and persecuted! "Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks invisible, except to God alone," flaunting in every myth temple! howling in every community! checking progress at every avenue.
Fools and rogues! You who profess so much love and reverence for your skeletons. I tell you it is all useless that you noisily rattle their offensive bones before my vision. That bright light of truth from the far-off age shines to me through your blackest screens! Go, hug your loathsome relics of a loathsome era in privacy—if you can—and say not again to my ears what you dare not utter to the Infinite in your solitude.
Ha! I see I "obey" and do the "work" that was commanded, for the light shines more brightly!
A dream? What is dreaming? Some explain most learnedly how it is caused by certain conditions of the body. May not some dreams cause those certain conditions?
Dream, or what else it has been, I see always the beautiful light bright with truth and hope. No one can extinguish it!
M'CARRON, BIRD AND CO., PRINTERS, MELBOURNE.