Page:Chesterton - The Defendant, 1904.djvu/36

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22
THE DEFENDANT

In Mr. Bernard Shaw’s brilliant play ‘The Philanderer,’ we have a vivid picture of this state of things. Charteris is a man perpetually endeavouring to be a free-lover, which is like endeavouring to be a married bachelor or a white negro. He is wandering in a hungry search for a certain exhilaration which he can only have when he has the courage to cease from wandering. Men knew better than this in old times—in the time, for example, of Shakespeare’s heroes. When Shakespeare’s men are really celibate they praise the undoubted advantages of celibacy, liberty, irresponsibility, a chance of continual change. But they were not such fools as to continue to talk of liberty when they were in such a condition that they could be made happy or miserable by the moving of someone else’s eyebrow. Suckling classes love with debt in his praise of freedom.

 ‘And he that’s fairly out of both
 Of all the world is blest.
 He lives as in the golden age,
 When all things made were common;
 He takes his pipe, he takes his glass,
 He fears no man or woman.’

This is a perfectly possible, rational and manly position. But what have lovers to