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Title:      A Week in the Future
Author:     Catherine Helen Spence
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Title:      A Week in the Future
Author:     Catherine Helen Spence


Serialised in:
The Centennial Magazine: An Australian Monthly
December 1888-July 1889




CHAPTER I


_Introductory_


I have often observed that unmarried people, old maids and old bachelors,
take a keener interest in old family history, and in the ramifications of
the successive generations from the most remote ancestors they can claim,
than those who form the actual links in the chain of descent, and leave
children behind them to carry on the chronicle. Having lived all my life
with a mother who nearly attained the age of a century, and having a
strong interest in things past as well as in things present, I have been
steeped in memories of old times. I know how middle-class intelligent
people lived and worked, dressed and dined, worshipped God and amused
themselves, what they read for pleasure and for profit, not only so far
as her own recollections could carry the dear old lady, but two
generations farther back. In her youth she had lived much with an
intelligent grandmother, who could recollect the rebellion of 1745, and
the battle of Prestonpans, and had been of mature years during the American
War of Independence.

My own mother's youth had been the period of the gigantic struggle of
Great Britain, sometimes single-handed, against the power of the first
Napoleon. The older lady had said to her then youthful descendant that no
one could expect to see as much as she had seen in her life, which
extended from 1734 to 1817, and included the American War, the French
Revolution, and the application of machinery to so many of the arts. The
grandchild, born at the beginning of 1791, had seen five French
Revolutions, and the map of Europe strangely altered; triumphs of art and
science, countless in number; steam, gas, electricity, the railway
system; mechanical inventions which had revolutionized industry; and the
rise of mighty colonies to compensate for the loss of the United States.
In the growth of one great colony she had taken a deep personal interest,
for she had watched it from the day of very small things in 1839. As we
sat and talked together, we would wonder what there could be for me to
see that would be equal to what had unfolded before her eyes. Was there
to be federation or disintegration? Was the homogeneous yet heterogeneous
British Empire to be firmly welded together, or were the component parts
to be allowed peacefully to separate and form new states? Was the
_régime_ of unrestricted competition and free trade and individualism to
be kept up, or were these to be exchanged for protection and
collectivism? What was to be the outcome of the Irish Question, of German
Socialism, of Russian Nihilism? Was Britain to remain mistress of India,
and to keep that dependency? Was she to annex all territory which might
be supposed to preserve her open route towards it? What struggle was
there to be in central Asia between Britain and Russia? What power was
likely to demolish the terrible armed peace of Europe? Such questions as
these occupied my own mind primarily--my mother had taken the keenest
interest in them all, but latterly she cared less for the questions of
the day, and as her health gradually declined, she went further and
further back till she seemed to live more in the first ten years of the
century than in the more recent past.

When, after a long, wearing, and painful illness, I closed my mother's
eyes--my companionship and occupation both gone at once--I had to
consider how I was to take up my life again. I was poorer after her
death, because her annuity, which must have made the insurance company
the losers, died with her, and I was left with that sort of provision
which the world considers quite sufficient for an elderly single woman.

My brother Robert came the day after the funeral to talk matters over
with me. "You have had a shock, Emily," he said, "You would not save
yourself any way;--now, you must try to take life easier. What do you
yourself think of doing?"

"I mean to stay on here if I can manage it," I said.

"Don't attempt to keep house by yourself, it is too expensive, and too
much of a tie. Of course, so long as our mother lived, you had to keep a
home for her, and to stay in it, but now, if you will not come and live
with us, you had better go and board somewhere, or furnish a set of
apartments, and that would leave you at liberty. You have not work now
for two servants; if you have only one you cannot leave her by herself in
the house. Belle says she supposes I cannot persuade you to take up your
abode with us."

My sister-in-law, though in her way an excellent woman, was one of the
most abject slaves of Mrs. Grundy, and her ways were not my ways. Their
house seemed as full as it could rightly be with their own large family,
and I could not in conscience think to occupy their only decent spare
room, at present tenanted by the married daughter and her first baby. I
was not disposed to go to a little den which did duty for a stray
bachelor guest. I clung to a home of my own.

"I dislike boarding-houses and furnished apartments," I said. "After being
virtually the head of a house so long, I do not care to be a mere
pecuniary convenience to any one. I want a home to which I can invite my
friends, where I can have company or quiet as I please."

"My dear Emily," said Robert, "A single woman in your circumstances
should be quite satisfied if she has two or three comfortably furnished
apartments, and can invite a few friends to tea occasionally."

"That means that I am to be shut out henceforward from the company of
men, for the tea guests are always women."

"Of course, gentlemen all dine late, and do not appreciate even afternoon
tea much; but the social evenings of our youth are no more. You recollect
Emily? 'Come to tea and spend the evening.' Ah! those were pleasant
times. A little music and singing, a carpet dance, round games, and
flirtation. But you are past the age for that sort of thing. I did not
think you would care now for the disturbing male element in society."

"I want to mix with people who are in the world, and engaged in its
business. I have for years devoted myself to my mother, now I should like
to live my own natural life for a few years."

"You will get far more real information as to how the world goes on from
books than from any male guests you can induce to visit you at no end of
expense. I am sure the dinner guests whom we entertain, and whom Belle
and I meet elsewhere, do not give us any new ideas or much refreshment.
If I were you I should be glad of the peaceful life before you, after all
you have gone through lately; with books and needlework, and your piano,
and a little committee work such as your soul loveth, in conjunction with
a number of bright practical women. Or suppose you get one of your
friends to join you in housekeeping. That would be pleasant, and make
things easier for you. There's Mary Bell, I dare say she would be glad to
do it."

"I like Mary Bell very well, but I do not like her people, who would of
course be constantly coming and going."

"Everywhere there is a lion in the path--I repeat it, Emily, I would
gladly change with you. What between the mill of business, which is
grinding exceedingly small in these days in the way of profit--protection
and the working man have it all their own way now--and the mill of social
requirements, and the mill of family anxieties, life is hardly worth
living. As for the young people, after we have got them brought up and
educated our troubles seem only to begin. There is Frank spending all his
salary, and all I allow him besides, and always in debt, because he will
bet on races and play for high stakes with insufficient skill; and
Gerald, dangling after a girl in a restaurant who I fear will hook
him,--the two boys are not much comfort; and Florrie, who is more than
half afraid to go back to the station, and I'm sure Belle will have a
sore heart to part from her. Who would think that Alf. Henderson was a
secret drunkard, and that the delicate health that won Florrie's
compassion was the consequence of his own bad habits. And Jeannie has set
her heart on a man who has no merit whatever but that of being a good
tennis player and having a fine voice. There is no rise in him. The four
younger ones may do better, but you never can tell. I often feel as if a
large family was a mistake--at any rate now-a-days, when so much is
expected from parents."

I was very sorry for my brother's family troubles, but I felt as if he
and his wife had lived too much for society and position, and had not
taken the intelligent interest in their children, in studying their
tastes and guarding against their weaknesses, which might have saved some
disappointments. Belle, I knew, had been carried away by Mr. Henderson's
large possessions, and had disregarded some ominous signs in her future
son-in-law.

I thought Robert rather cold-blooded in his advice that I should wrench
myself from the old home where I had taken root, but the more I thought
over ways and means, I became the more afraid that he had sound reason on
his side. I, however, delayed advertising my house. I put off the evil
day till I could accustom my mind to the change.

A singular feeling of malaise oppressed me, I missed the engrossing
occupation of the last two years, and I did not recover the spring and
elasticity of body and mind which I had expected. It was on one of those
suddenly hot days which we have in an Australian August that I had walked
rather far and rather fast, and when I got home, tired and breathless, I
found Florrie Henderson come to say good-bye before she went with her
little baby boy, Hugh, to the station. Florrie threw herself into my arms
in an hysterical passion of tears, and I, instead of being able to
comfort her or steady her nerves, fainted away for the first time in my
life. Florrie's alarm about me made her throw off for the time her own
trouble; she sent for Dr. Brown, and meantime used all the simple and
ordinary remedies for restoration; but I had scarcely recovered full
possession of my faculties when he arrived. Dr. Brown had been the wise
and kind adviser of my mother, and he had often suggested that my
devotion to her should be less absorbing, and predicted that I should
suffer from the strain. He had even practised some auscultation from time
to time, which he now proceeded to repeat more minutely, and he
questioned me closely on my sensations and symptoms. I could read his
countenance like a book, and could understand his little impatient
gestures and half-uttered words. I felt that there was something
seriously wrong.

"Tell me the truth," I said. "It is the heart?"

"Yes, just the weak part of you, which I have been anxious about all
through this long nursing of Mrs. Bethel."

"And it is serious?"

"Serious? Why, that is according how you take it?"

"I take it literally. It is organic?"

"Yes, organic--but you know with ease and a quiet life, such as you may
lead now, there is no immediate danger."

"I may live--how long? Don't be afraid to tell me the truth."

"You will live a year, perhaps two, with great care. You will need to be
very careful."

"I know what that means," said I, bitterly. "I must give up all the
things that make life worth living, all the outside interests that are
the very bread of life to a solitary spinster, all the larger objects
which the best and noblest of my brothers and sisters are striving to
accomplish and absorb myself in the one idea of self-preservation."

"Oh, Auntie," said Florrie, who with wet eyes and choking sobs had
listened to the death-warrant pronounced by our old, experienced, and
kindly family physician. "You must take care for all our sakes. Think how
valuable even two years of your life is to many who love and honor you."

"Yes, valuable so long as it is life," I said, "but of no value whatever
if I shut myself up in my shell, and merely absorb nutriment and warmth,
and exclude all disturbing influences--the wind of heaven and the cares
and labors of earth."

"I did not pass so sweeping a sentence, Miss Bethel," said Dr. Brown.
"You are only to avoid all over fatigue, all excitement, and especially
all worry."

"What is life without these things?" I asked vehemently.

"It is what all old people have to do," said Dr. Brown kindly.

"And was it not this that my poor mother felt so hard? Half her misery
was occasioned by ennui. The regret that she could do nothing for herself
or for anyone else embittered the last two years of her life. And if even
she, at the age of ninety-seven, chafed at the life of inaction and
helplessness, what must I do? I am not old; I have not been severed from
life and all its interests gradually by the chilling of my sensations and
the weakening of my faculties. I can see, hear, speak, learn, observe,
reflect, aspire, as well as I ever could do in my life, and to have to
die before I have seen the problems which have puzzled me all my life
solved, or nearly solved, is to me very hard."

"Dear Auntie," said Florrie with a broken, tremulous voice, yet musical,
as her voice always was when she quoted from her beloved Tennyson:--

"To thee, dear, doubtless will be given
A life that bears immortal fruit,
In such high offices as suit
The full-grown energies of Heaven."

"Doubtless--is it doubtless? And even if these high offices were indeed
assured to me, it is here on earth that I am passionately interested. How
foreign to me with my present nature are the cares and employments of a
disembodied spirit, moving about among other equally unsubstantial
spirits, or at best reclothed in some strange new personality. It is this
world that I have loved and will continue to love," I said passionately,
to the surprise of my two listeners.

"I should have thought that you of all women sat loose to the world,"
said Dr. Brown. "And so should I," said my niece, "Mother always says
Aunt Emily is the most unworldly person she ever knew, though not in the
least sanctimonious either."

"In a certain sense I do sit loose to the world, but I know and feel
convinced by many signs that we are on the eve of a great social and
industrial revolution. I had hoped to have seen some outcome from the
groaning and travailing of all creation, and from the efforts of so many
earnest and devoted men and women for the amelioration of the conditions
under which the toiling masses live and labor. What will come out of
Irish Agitation, German Socialism, Russian Nihilism? Will India be
prepared for self-government? Is the mighty Chinese Empire really
awaking? When and how is the barbarous practice of war to be abolished?
Is the scarcely less deadly war between labor and capital to end
peacefully, or is the cut-throat competition for cheapness all over the
world to be ended by a terrible and destructive catastrophe? Is religion
to become more Catholic or more sectarian? What is a year or a
problematical two years of life, wrapped up in cotton wadding, to my
eager questioning soul? I would give the year or two of life you promise
me for ONE WEEK IN THE FUTURE. A solid week I mean. Not a glance like a
momentary vision, but one week--seven days and nights to live with the
generations who are to come, to see all their doings, and to breathe in
their atmosphere, so as to imbibe their real spirit."

"How far in the future should you like to spend your solid week--twenty
years, fifty years, a hundred years hence?" said Dr. Brown, with a
curious expression on his intelligent countenance.

"You know, Florrie, I have often said to you and to other people that I
would give anything to see the world fifty years after I left it, but as
I am not to live such a long life as my mother's by thirty-five years,
and not even the Psalmist's measure of three score and ten, and as the
changes that have to be wrought may take a long time, I think I should
prefer a hundred years to elapse before I see my WEEK IN THE FUTURE!"

"But everybody whom you knew and cared about would be dead," said
Florrie. "I should not feel the least interest in the world after a
century. A hundred years--it is like an eternity."

"Like an eternity to twenty-six, but it is only three years longer than
your grandmother's single life."

"That saw great changes certainly," said Dr. Brown, "and the progress of
events, as you must have observed, becomes more rapid with each decade; I
should myself hesitate between fifty years and a hundred--fifty has the
advantage which Mrs. Henderson feels so strongly of greater familiarity
and possible personal survivals, but a hundred years must work radical
changes, more startling, and possibly--I only say possibly--more
interesting."

More interesting to me, I feel sure. And Florrie, my affections strike
back to remote ancestors and would strike onward to remote collateral
descendants, which are all that an old maid can have. Why, Florrie, I
might see little Hugh's children and grand-children in the flesh."

"Then," said Dr. Brown, "you elect to overleap a complete century. And
how would you like to see the world of the latter end of the twentieth
century. Like Asmodeus, by unroofing the houses and spying on the doings
and misdoings of the _post nati_, or like a beneficent spirit, hovering
over the cities and fields, watching the human ants in the nest, or the
bees in the hive, or the butterflies among the flowers, and listening to
the words you hear them speak, yourself invisible and unheard."

"No, not like a spirit at all, but just in this habit as I am, like a
middle-aged or rather an elderly single woman, who surely can never be
altogether out of date in any century"

"And _where_ would you prefer to have your peep? In Melbourne, in London,
in your Scotch ancestral home, in New York, or in Pekin?"

"Every place has its charms, but as the older countries are those where
the greater need of change exists, let me be located in or close to
London."

"Pekin represents an older civilization," argued Dr. Brown.

"But too unfamiliar to be as interesting as the British metropolis. I
need all my past knowledge to throw light on the new revelations. The
language, the literature, the history, and the traditions of England are
among my most cherished possessions. A week of London for me."

"And who will give you to drink of mandragora that you may sleep away
that gap of time, and traverse, not spiritually, but in the flesh, so
many thousand miles of land and ocean?" asked Dr. Brown.

"Who but you, with your strong leaning towards the occult and the
transcendental which are the favorite study of your leisure hours?"

"Are you really serious?" said Dr. Brown more gravely

"Perfectly serious."

"It is because you believe it to be impossible that you would barter a
year, or it may be two, dating from August, 1888 for a single week in
1988. It would really be like all the bargains recorded by tradition or
supersitition between man and the arch enemy of souls, always greatly the
worse for the human party to the transaction. Why, at best, it would be
fifty-two to one."

"Not so," said I, "for I should barter a year or two of failing health
and disappointed hopes for a week of full life and intellectual
satisfaction. I should save my friends from all trouble and anxiety on my
behalf. I should at the same time save myself from the temptation to
peevish repining and exacting selfishness. I have not received your
death-warrant with the meekness and resignation which I know you expected
from me. I do not feel as if I could bear to watch the slow closing in of
life for myself, just after I have watched it for the being dearest to me
in the world, especially with the strong hold on life I have within me at
present. It puts me in mind of the terrible story I read when I was a
girl, in a _Blackwood's Magazine_, of a political offender who was seized
by the relentless arm of despotic power, and shut up in a strong prison
with thirteen windows. During the first night, by some devilish
machinery, one window was closed, and next day there was but twelve, the
next day eleven, and so on till at last the _coup de grâce_ was given,
and life was crushed out of him simultaneously with the closing of the
last window."

"But Auntie," said Florrie, softly, "you have always said life was good.
Father calls you an optimist. Mother says you always see the best side of
things and of people."

"Yes, life has been good--very good. Like Harriett (sic) Martineau, I
feel I have had a good share of life hitherto, but that has been because
I have taken an active part in it, and it has been and continues to be so
exceedingly interesting, but I should not like to linger on the scene
when I can be no longer serviceable."

"It shows how differently life is held by different people. If I had to
deal with your mother, Florrie, she would think a year or two with her
husband and children a vast deal better than a week, better than ten
years elsewhere," said Dr. Brown.

"Belle knows they would be all only too happy to have the privilege of
nursing her, and that they would do anything to prolong her valuable
life," said I.

"Oh Auntie, how glad I should be to take you with me to the station. It
is said to be so healthy, and is not exciting, and I'd be so glad of your
society, for mother won't let Jeannie go, but--," and Florrie sighed; she
had to reckon up a master of the house who was not reasonable, and was
not well disposed to his wife's family. "But anyhow you must not stay
here alone, you must go to live with your own near and dear relatives. Do
not speak as if you had nobody to whom your life is precious."

"I do not say that, Florrie, my dear, but though I have kind relatives
and dear friends, there is now no one to whom I am indispensable. Indeed,
I am doubtful if any of us is so indispensable as he or she fancies to
any one, but I always prayed that I might live while my mother needed me,
and that at least has been given."

"I fear I should have to live longer than Dr. Brown's utmost limit of two
years to see that consummation. Your parents' consent must first be
given," said I.

"I think they are a little moved now they see money is not everything."

"But Claude has to make his way, and it will take a long while before he
can earn an income sufficient for an extravagant girl like Jeannie and
the lot of you. Perhaps my death might help Jeannie better than my life."

"Don't say so, Auntie, and please don't call us extravagant. Father says
we are, but it isn't really true."

"I don't know what you call extravagant, but you girls each spend as much
on your dress and personal expenses as my father gave to his three girls,
and he was called liberal. It is a pity, however, that the requirements
of modern society make marriage, instead of the hand-in-hand travel up the
hill which it ought to be, a goal to be attained when the hill is
climbed, unless a young man inherits unearned money."

"And then it often is a curse," said Florrie bitterly.

"In most cases it is the culmination of a young man's ambition to be able
to afford to marry a young woman of education and refined tastes. How
much better for happiness and morality if it were to be the natural first
step in the life of an industrious, steady young man," I said.

"That opens out large questions, Miss Bethel," said Dr. Brown. "Will
people see things differently a hundred years hence?"

"Anyhow, Florrie, I cannot live to see Jeannie married, but she has my
best wishes. I like Claude Moore, and believe he has far more grit in him
than your father or mother can see just now. And Claude and Jeannie love
each other, which is the main point. He must work hard, and she must
reduce her ideas of an establishment to what is obtainable on moderate
means. But now, Florrie, I must really send you home. You must leave Dr.
Brown to prescribe something, for though I am set down as incurable, of
course it would be unprofessional not to give the chemist a turn, though
I dare say I would do as well with wholesome neglect and the expectancy
treatment. Come, dear, it must be good-bye."

Her hot tears fell on my cheek as she kissed me. As she went out at the
door she met the postman, who brought no letters for me, but one of those
tradesmen's circulars which are the daily annoyance of modern life, and a
book sent from England by my dear old friend Mrs. Durant. Florrie came
back with the packet in her hand which she proceeded to untie.

"I hope it is a good new novel to cheer you up. By the by, thanks for the
_Children of Gibeon_ for my birthday, Auntie. This is not a novel,
however, but a book on Scientific Meliorism and the Evolution of
Happiness, by Jane Hume Clapperton. Let me have it when you have done
with it. The subject is one after your own heart. I must say good-bye
really now. However, you really look better than you did."

Dr. Brown had taken the book out of my niece's hand, and glanced rapidly
at the running titles on the top of the pages. "I think this will give
you some speculative ideas about your week in the future. I shall
prescribe, along with a necessary sedative, the careful reading of this
book."

I was indeed deeply interested in the book, I half forgot my own
impending fate as I saw what this hopeful writer had gathered from other
authors and other observers, and had worked out for herself from the
signs of the times into a foreshadowing of the society of the future. Dr.
Brown gave me two days to read the book and then called to see how I was.

"You are better, decidedly better;' he said.

"Not organically better, however?"

"No I cannot say that, but you have been agreeably interested and
diverted from the shock of two days ago."

"It is because I have been living so much in the future."

"Still harping on the future," said the doctor. "Are you still serious
about your solid week."

"Quite so, still more eager than ever since I have read this book."

"Then will you put yourself in my hands, and I shall try what I can do to
further your wishes."

"I am all obedience and submission," I said.

"Give your maid a week's holiday, and tell her you are going for a little
change of air and scene. Pack up a few necessaries in a hand-bag. I can
wait for you, you are no dawdler."

I said what was needed to Janet, who was overjoyed at a week's holiday,
and promised to take the key of the house with a message to my brother. I
could not have written a note to save my life. I changed my dress, and
packed my Gladstone bag with more rapidity than was quite prudent,
considering the state of my heart, and I stepped into the doctor's
brougham with a curious feeling of expectancy. I was taken last in his
rounds that day, and driven not to his own home, but to a private
hospital for patients from the country in which he had a large interest,
and introduced to a quiet room at the back.

"Now," said he, "the main thing is strength of volition on your own part,
aided by all the power of will I can lend you. This _Week in the Future_
is what you long for more than all things--all other objects are excluded
by this over-mastering desire. Lie down on this couch with your bag in
your hands. Your appearance, if we succeed in our great experiment, will
be that of trance or suspended animation, and that is what I shall call
it to the nurse in attendance."

I obeyed Dr. Brown's instructions. I did not know what to expect, but I
knew what I wished.

"Are you ready for your wonderful journey?" said he, making passes over
me. I could just see him in the midst of this performance take out of his
waistcoat pocket a small phial containing a colorless liquid.

"Ready?"

"Quite ready," I whispered. I had not power to speak above my breath.

He poured out the contents into a wine glass, diluted them with a little
water, and held the potion to my lips, supporting my head on his left
hand.

"Drink and wish."

I drank, and felt a singular calm come over me for a space, it might have
been a few moments, it might have been a whole minute, but it was
ineffably sweet, all the malaise, and restlessness had gone--I was at
peace. Then came a mighty spasm like what I could conceive death to be.
This life was closed to me. I was no longer on the little couch in the
private hospital with Dr. Brown bending over me, but standing on my feet
with my hand-bag on my arm. I was not in Adelaide or Australia, but as I
had wished to be in the old country, in that England I had loved so well,
which I had left, indeed, at the age of thirteen, but which I had
revisited twenty-five years after in the full maturity of my powers of
observation and in the full glow of my womanly sympathies. This was a
suburb of London, a north-west suburb so far as I could guess. If so
removed as to place, was there not a chance that the still greater
removal as to time was also granted me?




CHAPTER II



MONDAY


_Associated Homes_


It was Friday afternoon when I took leave of life in Adelaide, South
Australia. It was on a Monday morning that I woke, and began the strange
experience of a _Week in the Future_. The first thing I was fully
conscious of was that I had completely thrown off all the uncomfortable
sensations as well as the apprehensions of the last two days. I was not
indeed young, but I was well and strong, and full of life, energy, and
hope. I stood--as I said before--in the open air. I felt the soft moist
climate of the father-land caressing me; the sun shone, not with the
summer blaze of our Australian skies, but as if through a tender haze.
Yes! this was London that lay vast, but strangely changed before me.
Where was the smoke? Was smoke one of the exploded nuisances of the
past? The gas lamps familiar to me were replaced by something
new--probably some modification of the electric light, for I could not
conceive of anything better being invented even in a hundred years, and
I hoped and almost felt that I had bridged over that length of time. And
now I seemed to see difficulties in my way. How could I, a stranger from
another hemisphere and from another century, ask for information, and
learn what I longed so much to know without subjecting myself to
suspicions of lying and imposture? How hard it would be to keep silent,
and simply watch for the changes which must have taken place in the way
of living and thinking since men lived and thought a hundred years
before. I did not like to stand like a fool or an idler, and I began to
walk briskly along a suburban street which I seemed to know, but it had
no longer rows of houses placed closely together, but large buildings,
each standing in extensive grounds. Passers-by looked well-to-do; their
clothes varied a good deal in fashion more than material. A
workman--erect, strong, and cheery, with a bag of tools on his shoulder,
whistling sweetly a tune quite unknown to me--was moving towards a large
building, which lay on the east side of the street. It was like a palace
for size, but not palatial in its style of architecture, which was plain
and simple. Garden plots lay in front of it, and a beautiful lawn, while
I could see that there were many acres of cultivated ground at the back.

"Good morning, Sir," I said to the workman. "Good morning, madam," he
replied. "It is a very fine morning;' I ventured to say. Surely the
weather could not be quite a worn out topic of conversation in the
variable climate of England--even after the lapse of a hundred years.

"Yes, it is fine after yesterday's rain. It came on handsomely and no
mistake. Bad for the harvest!"

"Are you going to work here?" said I.

"Yes, we have the contract for repairs at the Owen Home here; the rain
got in at the north wing; the first leak there for ten years, I hear; but
it is a rare strong old building."

I saw inscribed over the gateway in deep cut stone letters "Owen
Associated Home, 1900". Yes, I might have lived to have heard of the new
departure, if I had not seen it in the colonies, if I had lived twelve
years longer.

I walked with the workman to the door, which stood open and showed a
handsome entrance hall enclosed. We both touched the knob of a bell I
supposed to be electric. A young woman came to our summons, and directed,
in the first place, the workman to his job, and then asked me whom I
wished to see.

"Does Mrs. Carmichael live here?" I said, as if by inspiration.

"Yes, madam; No. 7," was the reply. "I think she is in her own room. I
shall ascertain if she objects to be disturbed."

"If not, give her my card, and say 'Miss Emily Bethel would be happy to
see her.'"

A question, telephonic, answered at once, let me know that Mrs.
Carmichael would be equally happy to see me. The attendant motioned me to
a lift, and stepped in after me, and in a few seconds we were on the
second floor, and walked along a corridor till we reached No. 7, when she
took my card

MISS BETHEL
ADELAIDE, S.A.

to the occupant of the room. A pleasant voice said "Come in," and the
young woman left me to pursue her own avocation. I entered a large,
light, airy, comfortable apartment, one half of which was furnished as a
bedroom, and the other half as a sitting-room. The weather was a little
chill outside after the rain, though the month was August, but there was
no fireplace visible, though the room was pleasantly warm. A
pleasant-faced lady of apparently my own age, though I afterwards
discovered that she was considerably older, was sitting in an easy chair
by a table, with her work and work-basket--quite like the old lady of our
own day.

"Sit down, pray," and she placed me on a sofa, close to her chair. "I am
indeed very glad to welcome a cousin from over the sea. We do not see so
much of our far-away kinsfolk as we should like. I have of course the
newspapers and books, but I have long wanted to hear by word of mouth
what these great southern lands which our forefathers planted have
attained to."

"And, alas, I cannot tell you," said I, plunging at once, _in medias
res_, "my knowledge of Australia is, unfortunately, of old date."

"I am at a loss to reconcile this with your card, which puts down
Adelaide as your present residence."

"We are now, I presume," I said making another desperate stroke, "in the
month of August, 1988."

"Just so," said Mrs. Carmichael, with a surprised look at the assertion.

"My last knowledge of Melbourne, and indeed of the world, ended in
August, 1888."

The lady looked at me as if questioning my sanity, but I stood her gaze
steadily. "I have exchanged a year of life for a Week in the Future, and
I chose to have my week a century ahead of the date of the bargain. I
have been permitted to make the exchange, and now with your good help I
want to make the most and the best of my short span of existence."

"We are very sceptical of the supernatural now-a-days," said Mrs.
Carmichael.

"Not more so than I have been," said I, earnestly. "I cannot account for
the extraordinary position in which I find myself, which is indeed
staggering to my own powers of belief, and must be tenfold more so to a
stranger, though you appear to be a remote kinsman, and might be disposed
to believe what is so marvellous. It may be that the intense longing I
had to know what was in the womb of time and ready to be delivered, has
projected me over nearly half the globe, and the lapse of a complete
century--more than three average generations. I may be now in a mere
trance or vision. This room, this Owen Home may be a mere phantasm or
mirage, and you a mere eidolon--an appearance--a shadow thrown out by my
own inner consciousness, or like a dream, which evades you when you try
to grasp it."

"Nothing so unsubstantial," said Mrs. Carmichael, "if there is anything
unreal or shadowy in presence it is yourself. You will find all things
altogether solid and coherent with us twentieth century people. If it is
indeed as you say, and you have no knowledge of recent matters, I think
it is likely that your week will be as satisfactory to yourself as it
will be most interesting to me. Be my guest for this week, at least as
far as it will serve your purpose and satisfy your desire to know all
that can be known about our life in the short space at your command."

I accepted this kind offer with gratitude, though I was not at all sure
that Mrs. Carmichael believed the strange story I told.

"I feel as anxious to know about the life in the past as you can possibly
be to learn about our present time."

"That is impossible," said I. "Books can tell you all about us and our
doings, while to all of us in all generations the future is a blank."

"Perhaps we are too much engaged with the works of our own day to give
sufficient attention to the records of the past, at least I notice this
is the case with the young people. And things are so much changed from
the days of ferment and unrest which you speak of, that it is difficult
for them to understand the language and the temper of the times. It needs
to be, as it were, translated to them, for they carry their pre-conceived
impressions into the books of old times. At least that is what my
son-in-law--who is a literary man and somewhat of an antiquarian--says.
For myself, I lived much with my grandmother, and she used to tell me of
the old days, and, old-lady-like, occasionally regretted them; though, on
the whole, she thought things much more equitably managed under the new
_régime_.

"Who then was your grandmother?" I asked eagerly.

"She was from Adelaide in Australia, and that is why my heart warmed to
your name and address when I saw it on your card. Her name was Florence
Bethel before her marriage. My father was the eldest and only surviving
child of her unhappy first marriage."

"Then your father was the little baby Hugh I knew as a baby."

"His name was Hugh. He was a very good son to my grandmother."

"And had poor Florrie--it seems disrespectful to speak thus of your
venerable grandmother," I said, laughing, "but I parted from Florrie in
the bloom of her youth a few days ago, and she will always be Florrie to
me--had she a happier fate in her second marriage after that wretched
creature (I must call your grandfather names, too) had departed this
life?"

"He did not die. They lived separated for many years, and at last she got
a divorce. Now-a-days it would have been much more promptly granted. She
married again, happily, so far as I knew, but had no children. I
recollect grandfather (as I called him) very well. He was very much
attached to his step-son."

"Then you are really my dear Florrie's grand-daughter in the flesh. Did
she ever speak of me, and of her grandmother who lived to be nearly a
hundred."

"I have often heard her speak of the old lady, a very storehouse of
memories."

"But not of me," said I, with considerable feeling. I think, seeing that
my _amour propre_ was touched, convinced Mrs. Carmichael of my identity,
and of the truth of my story more than anything else. "Oh, yes!
certainly, of you who showed so much sympathy with her troubles--the dear
Aunt Emily who died within a fortnight of the grandmother. Oh! that was
another link of association with your card!"

"It is a curious relationship," said I.

"We are sisters, rather than anything else more distant," said Mrs.
Carmichael.

This was better than looking on my senior as my great grand niece. I felt
strangely drawn to the kindly old lady, and more hopeful of getting the
information I wanted from her than from others who knew less and cared
less about the past. Nevertheless, even with her, there were
difficulties. I scarcely knew where to begin, and said so.

"You must ask questions for yourself, as well as take note with your
eyes, and pick up information casually. Things as they are, are so
familiar to us that we scarcely know what is new and what is old, but my
son-in-law could help you a good deal."

"I see a great change in the establishment of Associated Homes, for, I
suppose, this is only one amongst many."

"They are all but universal now-a-days. This, however, was one of the
oldest in the country, and our founders gave to it the name of the
pioneer in the movement."

"The experiments of Robert Owen and of Fourier, and others, were only
partially successful, but, considering the materials they had to build
with, it was wonderful how much they effected, and they led the way to
something better, I suppose?"

"Yes! We all acknowledge a deep debt of gratitude to these devoted men.
The general breaking up of the old isolated homes, and the formation of
the Associated or Unitary Homes, was due in the first place to the
domestic servant difficulty. It was the middle classes who made the first
start. The rich could always command sufficient domestic service by the
high wages, by the luxurious living, and many privileges they could give.
The working people who needed it even more did not understand the economy
and the benefits of combination, till they were shown the example by the
class above them, who had more education, and manners and tempers more
under control. Now, of course, all the community are educated up to this
standard, and all derive the full benefit of 'Associated Homes?

"How many families live in this house?" I asked.

"Twenty is our number."

"And I suppose they are of the professional and mercantile classes; not
the working classes."

"We scarcely speak of the working classes now-a-days, for all of us work.
Still I understand what you mean. Here live twenty families, descended
from many generations of educated people--many of these still cherishing
relics of past days, as you see in this apartment of mine."

"And these twenty families," said I, "would in old times have each
inhabited a home--which they accounted their castle. Each with at least
two sitting-rooms, several bedrooms, including one spare room for guests,
and must have kept from one to three servants, according to their means
and the number and ages of the family--an average of two servants in
England, if not in Australia. Whereas you"--

"Well, when twenty families combine, the forty or fifty small
sitting-rooms are exchanged,--the twenty dining-rooms for two large
well-heated but uncarpeted eating-rooms or refectories; the twenty
drawing-rooms, kept mostly for show, are represented by a large music
room, an art room, a whist and chess room, a smoking room, a dancing
room, a large library, a mechanics' room, and a ladies' work room. Twenty
families would have at least ten nurseries--we manage with two, and class
rooms for the earlier education of children before they go to the public
schools."

"And as for sleeping accommodation?" I asked.

"We have sleeping rooms to accommodate the twenty families comfortably,
arranged in suites--with some few rooms for guests. Casual hospitality is
frequent and inexpensive. There is a _pro rata_ charge for each guest,
and the table is always abundant, and the company pleasant, and some
congenial amusement open to people of ordinary tastes. My grandmother
used to tell me that one of the trials of life was the arrival of a guest
to a shabby dinner."

"There was not much chance of that at her father's house. Belle was a
most liberal housekeeper."

"Things went badly with them afterwards, I think; she also told me of the
dinner-parties and the evening-parties which cost so much, both in money
and trouble, and I did not think that they gave pleasure in proportion."

"Then how do you manage about servants?" I asked.

"The service in this as in similar homes is done by contract. The men and
women who provide for the daily comfort of our lives are as independent
and as much respected as those they wait upon. I think all our attendants
here are members of Associated Homes of their own, except two who are
engaged to sleep on the premises."

"And how many do you keep?"

"Mr. Oliphant (my son-in-law) who is one of the home committee, could
give you more exact information. I think there are sixteen in all, and
the washing is done in the home. We have every sort of labor-saving
machinery that ingenuity can devise, or money can pay for, because the
human instrument is far more costly than it ever was."

"Then, perhaps, your servants are as rich as you are yourselves?"

"I do not know, probably they are; but yet the service does not cost each
family nearly as much as it did in the old times, there are fewer of them
to keep, and there is no waste."

"The item of washing, thrown in, must make a difference to a London
household certainly. But what do you ladies do with no housekeeping to
attend to?"

"We are relieved from these cares, at least such of us are not on the
house committee of three, elected yearly, who give a general supervision,
and so we are set free to pursue the breadwinning avocation which all men
and women must betake themselves."

"And how does the Associated Home answer for domestic comfort?" I asked.
"The average Englishman as I knew him would rather be dull and cramped in
a home where he was entirely master, than better lodged and served where
he must give way on all sides to other people. The average Englishwoman
fancied her mission was to practice housekeeping, and rule over her
establishment of children and servants. Is not this combined home of
yours too like the hotel life of America--which was so bad for the
children of the family, and demoralising for the parents too?"

"No, indeed it is not like hotel life at all! for it is a _home_. This,
like most of those, founded by what were then called the middle class,
was a proprietary home from the first. Each family has a vested interest
in it. My grandmother's second husband was one of the original founders,
and he left it to his step-son, Hugh Henderson. I inherited it from my
father, as my brother has his occupation in the North of England, and my
sister married a man who took her to America. That is an old story, fifty
years ago."

"Then did Florrie end her life here?" I asked.

"Yes, certainly she did! Her husband was on a visit to Australia and met
her there, and brought her to England in the year 1900, and here he
settled till his death."

"Then this is really your own property," said I, "to have and to hold, to
bequeath or to sell as you please."'

"Not exactly; I can neither bequeath or sell--except to one who would be
agreeable to the other dwellers in the home. An upset (sic) price is
fixed, and when a vacancy occurs by death or removal, applicants are
balloted for."

"It must then be a little difficult for a young couple to settle, unless
there are constantly new homes built to be filled?"

"New homes are not often built, for the whole of our present happiness
and prosperity depends on the population remaining stationary, and the
homes are built so substantially that they will last for hundreds of
years if kept in proper repair."

"But what sort of life do you ladies lead without household cares? It
looks like all leisure, which I do not think would be either pleasant or
useful."

"Oh, by no means all leisure! I have my work to do during the day, and I
can either do it here, or in one of the pleasant public rooms down
stairs. If I want society I can seek it where it is likely to be most
congenial. My own favorite room is the art room; but if I want music I
can hear it in the music room; if I want to read I can go to the library,
where none of the readers there will disturb me. If I want a game of
cards, I can have it in the room dedicated to such quiet games. For the
closest intimacy--such as I used to have with my husband in his lifetime,
and with my children, and even now with such friends as I wish to talk
unreservedly with--as I do with you--I can have this best and sweetest of
society here."

"You have then no private sitting room?"

"No, we do not feel the want of it, and it would materially add to the
cost of building and keeping up an Associated Home if each family
required such a luxury."

"Have you been long a widow?" I asked.

"My husband died four years ago."

"You are then alone?"

"Oh no! my daughter and her husband and two of their three children live
in this home, and shortly there will be another included in the family,
for his only daughter is to be married on Thursday, and there have been
arrangements made that the young people should live here. Florrie is
young, and does not like to leave her mother."

"How many children had you?"

"I had only two who lived. One was born an idiot, owing to a fright I got
some months before, and, of course, it was destroyed at birth."

"That is a summary way of disposing of a heavy charge," said I. "In my
day there were costly idiot asylums for a few, and idiots in all the
workhouses in the kingdom. Why, I saw one in an Australian asylum
thirty-four years old, who had never been able to speak, to walk, or to
feed herself. I do not know how much longer she lived; but she must have
cost the country a large sum."

"It is really the best thing to do to put such imperfect and helpless
beings painlessly out of existence." said Mrs. Carmichael calmly. "My
other children are quite satisfactory--rather above than below the
average. My son is the manager of a large co-operative cotton factory,
and he lives with his workpeople during the day, and in an Associated
Home near it where his wife's family are established. I see him every
Sunday of my life, and occasionally on other days."

"I suppose he lives in a more luxurious way than you do."

"No, I scarcely think so. Of course each home has its little
peculiarities and specialties, but the average standard of comfort is
about the same."

"As a manager of a large concern he ought to be paid very highly."

"He has invested more capital in the factory than the operatives, and,
of course, draws a larger proportion of interest, but for his actual
services there is not the difference there would seem to be between
direction and actual production. Indeed the tendency is towards
equalisation, though that is not reached yet."

"Indeed!" said I, "that is most surprising. Who will you find to take
high and difficult positions if there is no adequate payment made?"

"Why, we find people are all eager enough to take the high positions if
they are only fit for them. It is far more interesting to direct than to
obey. And, after all, people can only eat three meals a day and wear one
suit of clothes at a time. What would more money do in adding to one's
enjoyment of life?"

"It did much in my time," said I. "Life was cramped and narrowed and
harrassed for want of money. Those who had not enough of it for
necessaries were starved physically. Those who had a bare livelihood were
starved mentally and aesthetically. A sufficient margin of money over and
above the supply of material wants meant leisure, amusement, foreign
travel, books, pictures, wines; as Charles Lamb would say, 'Money is not
dross, it is all these delightful things.' It also allowed us to be
hospitable to our friends and charitable to the poor. Cynics and ascetics
reviled it, but money was the _open sesame_ to much of the beauty and to
a great deal of the goodness of life."

"Much that you consider so desirable we obtain now-a-days by means of
combination. Much of it appears no longer so attractive as it must have
been in the time when 'every gate was barred with gold, and opened but to
golden keys,' as my grandmother used to say." I recognised my old
Tennyson-lover in the quotation.

"You have then learned to be happy with little money?"

"I do not know what you call little. We feel we have enough. As for
leisure, we have no longer what is called a leisured class, but everyone
has a great deal of leisure that may be used either for amusement, for
self-improvement, for the riding of hobbies, or for what satisfies our
modern ideas of charitable work.

"I suppose you have a general eight-hours system? What a fight there was
for that in my time."

"No! Six hours a day is reckoned a day's work in shop or factory.
Machinery, which is costly, such as that at my son's cotton factory is
worked by relays. There are some occupations and professions in which
there can be no such limit; but the general feeling is that six good
hours' work for everybody should provide all the necessaries and comforts
of life for everybody."

"Then all your people work?"

"With very few exceptions--which count for nothing--every adult man and
woman has some bread-earning occupation."

"Married women, too?" I asked.

"Certainly! My daughter, for instance, is a physician, her husband edits
a newspaper. Both of them have somewhat irregular hours of labor, but I
do not fancy they average much more than six hours daily"

"If the practice is good, and the newspaper has a large circulation they
ought to be rich, especially as they have only three children?"

"It is the full number. No one living in an Associated Home is allowed to
have more than three children--at least in Europe. I hear that four is
allowed in America and Australia."

"Then people ought to become rich with so few demands upon their purses,"
said I.

"I scarcely know how to express myself." said my kinswoman, "Incomes, I
know, were very different in your time. There is a moderate competence
within reach of all, but the opportunity of making fortunes is gone.
Everywhere co-operation and combination prevents the accumulation of
capital in single hands. The professions are not crowded; there are few
blanks, but the prizes are not great, and all the great profits which
large means used to make for a single capitalist or firm are reduced to a
minimum, while each operative gets a share of that minimum. As for my
daughter's practice, she contracts to watch over the health of the women
and children who live in the Owen Home and eight other homes. Sickness is
not so costly as it used to be, because in an Associated Home it is one
of the items of expense included in the ordinary hoard or contribution
made for housekeeping."

"Oh! I see an evolution of the working man's friendly club or lodge, and
the homes contract at a cheap rate, no doubt."

"Probably you will think so, especially as the medical adviser is
expected to look ahead, and prevent sickness as well as to minister to
it. Mrs. Oliphant does a little hospital work too, but that, of course,
is gratis."

"And her husband is on the press?"

"He is also a writer of books. He is mainly engaged during his leisure
hours in writing a complete history of the co-operative movement. He will
thus be the best man for you to consult and enquire from, as he has made
it his business to study the beginning of the social system that to us is
so old, and to you is so new and strange."

"I have then been most fortunate in the Home to which I have been
directed. Not only kinsfolk, but people especially fitted to instruct me
in the new _régime_!! So married women as well as single women work for
their livelihood now? I could see that change coming even in my day."

"Far more married women than single; for the single life lasts so short a
time. Even I am not quite off work yet, I can still earn half of my
livelihood, the other half being drawn from my own and my husband's
savings, which will last me out, even if I live to a great age."

"What was Mr. Carmichael's avocation?"

"He was an artist. I learned much from him to help me in my own calling
of a designer for calico and muslin printing; but I had also a great love
for art needlework, and as I am a little old-fashioned for the calico
printers I stick to this, and even give lessons in it to the young
people."

"I should have thought there was little demand for painting, and as
little for such work as this," and I looked more carefully at the
exquisite embroidery which my kinswoman had laid down out of respect for
me. "In the flat, dead level of conditions you live in, no one can afford
to pay for such commodities."

"There is a limited demand in the Associated Homes and in the Churches. I
have had great pleasure in giving a good deal of my work to the Owen
Home, as my husband presented to it no less than twelve of his best
pictures. We delighted to beautify our home, but I must confess that both
my husband's work and mine falls out of demand because everyone has so
much leisure, and so many have artistic taste that each home is adorned
with work of its own volunteers, but when we began life it was not so."

"The Associated Homes must furnish a market for books also?"

"Yes, our reading rooms or libraries have always a permanent library of
standard works. For the modern and ephemeral a syndicate of thirty homes
exchange with each other."

"And after running the gauntlet of thirty homes the books are pretty well
worn out I suppose?"

"Just so, but the young people, at least, have read them."

"But what about quarrelling? That was the bugbear which threatened all
associated living when it was spoken of in my time, for the idea was
already in the air a hundred years ago."

"The pioneers had to go through many hard trials. My father told me that
during the first ten years there were more changes, resignations and
expulsions than there were for fifty years after. The quarrels were
sometimes personal, sometimes about children. I am ashamed to say that
the women were worse offenders in this way than the men. Now, both men
and women have been educated into bearing and forebearing. My grandmother
told me that she was within an ace of making her husband sell out, she
was so aggravated by the dress and manners and language of the people in
the next suite of rooms, but he talked her over, and gradually the people
improved."

"Poor Florrie!" said I, "she was a fastidious young personage. Little did
she think to end her days as a unit in an Associated Home."

"It took some time, too," said my kinswoman, "to establish the rule that
no married couples should have more than three children. They stood out
that if they could afford to keep four or five they should not be
prevented, and many expulsions followed this infraction. Now it is felt
to be as disgraceful to exceed the number, as in old times it was to have
a child born out of wedlock."

"That is a curious condition of public opinion."

"It is the keystone of our whole system. Science, too, has put the
limitation of the family more completely in our power than when the rule
was laid down. People who do not care for children, have none, and some
couples who would like them are not blessed with them; so that the limit
of three keeps the population stationary."

"I suppose that almost all the children who are born grow to maturity,"
said I.

"My daughter says that nothing shows the advantages of our social order
like the small death rate, and the average long healthy life. The death
of infants is very rare indeed, most of the infantile diseases are
stamped out. Children do not need now to take measles and whooping-cough
any more than they do small-pox. Care is certainly needed during the time
of teething, and the changes of weather should be provided against; but
our babies are not such tender blossoms as those of our
great-grandmothers."

"One would think that so many mothers in a home would quarrel about their
children?"

"Well the children are kept in their place, and our nurses are
well-educated, good-principled women; but, really, as to quarrelling, the
advantages are so enormous in comfort and material well-being, as well as
for social intercourse, that people have learned to put their pride and
their susceptibilities aside. The rules of the home are seldom referred
to, but they are tacitly respected by everyone."

"I suppose it has never occurred to you that you would be happier in the
old way, the way in which it was last week suggested to me that I should
live;--in furnished apartments by myself."

"Certainly not; this is the home I was born in and married in. My
widowhood need not sever me from all society."

"Should you not prefer to live with your married daughter and her
children in a pleasant house of her own."

"Why I live with her now. I do not bore or restrain her in any way. Old
people constantly with two generations of younger ones must have been a
tie, and sometimes a nuisance. The younger might also be a nuisance to
the old. Elderly people do not like the continual worry of children, who
in your old times were very abundant and irrepressible--if I may judge by
the light literature of the period."

"I suppose, living in the same house, your daughter devotes herself to
you?" said I, recollecting my life with my mother.

"Part of every day she spends with me here. If I am ill, she is my
physician, and often my nurse, but her own professional arid public
duties carry her outside a great deal. My granddaughter who is a student
at the university, and who is to be married to another student on
Thursday, always look in on me every day; we meet of course at meals,
each family sitting together or opposite, and we see a great deal of each
other in the public rooms. But I do not depend altogether on them when I
am really ill, as I have been sometimes lately; there are six or seven
other people in the house, who have time to spare, and who are glad to
bestow it on me."

"The Associated Homes seem to be the paradise of declining years," said
I.

"If I feel disposed for society, I can mix with it, and I can choose what
group among seven or eight to attach myself to."

"And this without fatigue or expense?" said I. "And as for amusements, I
suppose there still exist theatres and concerts, or have you become too
utilitarian to care for them, or too poor to pay for the highest talent?"

"We have music and the drama certainly, and the public exhibitions in
this way are not costly; but there are entertainments of a similar kind
got up in each Associated Home at least twice a week, to which we have
the privilege of inviting our friends from outside. This Home, too, is
the first that started keeping a carriage for the older and weaker of its
members."

"Then the young and healthy do not ride in it?" said I, recollecting the
many carriages rolling about everywhere with the healthy wives and
daughters of the rich in them, while the old--perhaps infirm--fathers and
mothers were supposed to be quite satisfactorily dealt with by being left
in the close indoor atmosphere of the fireside.

"Young people can walk and cycle." She used quite a new word; indeed
there were many new words in my kinswoman's talk--as might be supposed in
a language that had been alive and changing for a hundred years--but I
guessed at her meaning by the context. "They can take the public
conveyances, but to give old people fresh air and sunshine without
fatigue is like life to them."

Our pleasant talk was here interrupted by the penetrating sound of an
electric bell. "There is the warning bell for dinner," said she, "it is
half-past twelve."

"You call your middle-day meal dinner, and not luncheon?"

"Certainly, because it is dinner."

"What are your hours for meals?"

"Breakfast at half-past seven, dinner at one, and supper at half-past six
are our hours at the Owen house."

"People engaged in business cannot all come to a middle-day meal."

"Some of the gentlemen engaged in the city take dinner there, but most of
us manage to put in an appearance at the chief meal of the day. You will
like to take off your bonnet and cloak, and to wash your hands. I shall
ring for you to be shown to your room."

"You do not dress for a middle-day dinner, I suppose?"

"Oh, I change this cap, which is good enough for my own room, for a
fresher one, and take off my apron; that is all."

"Do you dress for the evening meal, then?"

"The young folks may smarten themselves up a little, but we old folks
make no change."

I observed that Mrs. Carmichael's dress showed signs of long service,
though it was perfectly neat and spotlessly clean. The material and
fashion were both simple and inexpensive.

"I suppose," said I, "that my dress must appear as antidiluvian, as the
short-waisted white embroidered dress my mother wore tight before her
marriage, and hoarded all her life, appeared to her grand-children."

"No, your dress is rich and most elaborate, but our styles are now as
various as our tastes. My own was designed for me by my dear husband when
I began to feel I was growing old, and I keep to it. I am having a new
dress made for Florrie's wedding, as I needed one, but it is after the
old pattern. What is the meaning of that hump at the back? Is it to hide
any sort of deformity?"

"By no means. It is to hang the drapery on, and is considered--or was
considered--to be indispensable. It helps stout people like myself to
have some appearance of a waist."

"What is this rough stuff which sets off the soft woollen material of
your dress and mantle? The two blacks are so different from each other."

Had my kinswoman never heard of crape and mourning? "I got the dress
nearly a fortnight ago as mourning for my mother; my sister-in-law
ordered it for me, and it was rather more costly than I wished or could
afford, but Mrs. Grundy--if you ever heard of such a person?"

"I think I have; but I confuse her with the Philistines in some way."

"Mrs. Grundy stands for public opinion, or the opinion of the
Philistines, or the least intelligent part of the community. Well, Mrs.
Grundy requires mourning to be worn for relatives, and, regardless of
ways and means, demands that this mourning should be costly. This crape
which is new to you is the authentic and authorised sign of woe; the
greater the grief, the nearer the relative in blood to you the deeper
should be the crape which is an expensive texture made of silk--though it
has none of its lustre. In fact it is a sign of unmitigated woe to be
enveloped in crape from head to foot, but, as a shower of rain injures it
greatly, that mark of respect is only fit for people who ride in close
carriages, or keep indoors."

"I do not wonder at our giving up that practice. Of course I have read of
crape in old books, but I have never seen it before."

"Did you not make any alteration in your dress when you became a widow?"

"Certainly not," said Mrs. Carmichael, "I continued to wear the clothes
my husband had designed, and that he had seen me in, and that were
hallowed by the touch of his dying hands."

"Then you are no slaves to fashion?"

"Fashion, as far as I can gather from the records which I have read, and
from the grandmother's talk, was a capricious deity who exacted costly
service. We wear such clothes as suit us till they are worn out honestly.
We could neither afford to wear such clothes as you have on, or to change
them often; but here is Mrs. Cox, ready to show you to your room." "This
lady, Mrs. Cox, is my guest for a week; there is a guest-room vacant, I
believe?"

"Yes, No. 1, which is on this floor," said the attendant, and she led me
to a pretty little room, not quite half the size of Mrs. Carmichael's.
Everything was on a smaller scale, but in the same style. The bedstead
was a single one, and the writing-table with writing materials was half
the size of my kinswoman's; there was a cane chair, but no couch, and at
the washstand I could have both hot and cold water by turning the taps. I
laid aside my outward wrappings, and sat for five minutes at the window
to try to take in the situation. I saw from this side of the house, which
looked to the back, a garden cultivated in a manner which surpassed all I
had seen or dreamed of. Such beds of vegetables--without a weed to be
seen in them, such fruit trees on walls and espaliers to catch all they
could of the English sun. Golden apricots that reminded me of Australia,
downy peaches, rosy apples, melting pears; all the gooseberry and currant
tribe were represented, as well as raspberries; strawberries, of course,
were over--except for what appeared a late white variety. There must have
been ten acres of garden at the back, besides what I had seen from the
front. A large shadehouse and a hothouse were placed in the most
favourable aspect, so that exotic flowers and fruits might be cultivated
as well as the ordinary English varieties. This fruit and vegetable
garden appeared to be in charge of three gardeners, who, I saw, put on
their coats and go to dinner, probably to their own Associated Homes.

I rose to my feet, shook myself to feel that I was substantially here in
the flesh; I looked at myself in the mirror, and I saw that I was the
same Emily Bethel who had up to to-day lived and breathed in the
atmosphere of the nineteenth century. I took out of my bag the soft cap
which I had taken with me for my week's visit and fastened it with the
pins provided for guests in No 1 guest-room at the Owen house, which held
better than my own. Everything in my bag was as I had packed it. How real
and yet so strange was my experience!

My friend was at my door ere I was quite ready, and took me with her down
the lift. We walked into the dining-room for adults--to which children
were not admitted till they were fourteen years old.

"As a rule the families sit together at meals. I introduce you as an
Australian cousin to the community, but you must take Mr. and Mrs.
Oliphant into your confidence, as both of them can help you more than I
can to get the full value of your queer bargain." said Mrs. Carmichael.
"There, of course, is one frequent guest--soon to be a permanent
inmate--Fred. Steele; there is no keeping him away from Florrie."

I was introduced to my kinswoman's daughter, who had a shrewd, sensible
face, and a somewhat incisive way of speaking. Mr. Oliphant impressed me
even more favorably. Of their two sons, one had settled and married at
Liverpool; the other was having his Wanderjahre--his year of
travel--before he began his work in his father's newspaper office. His
tour was to include America, Africa, and Australia before he returned by
India and the Suez Canal.

I therefore could only see one of the younger generation, but I was
pleased to see in the seventeen-year-old Florrie of 1988 a great likeness
to the Florrie of 1888, especially about the eyes and the turn of the
head. After a special study of my relatives, I gave a more comprehensive
glance up and down both sides of the table, at which we were seated about
the middle, and I felt on the whole very well satisfied with the
appearance of the inhabitants of the Owen Home. The expression of
restfulness and candour and kindliness which had charmed me with my
kinswoman was to be seen on almost every countenance, old and young.
Their manners to each other, and to the attendants, were perfect. Matthew
Arnold has told us that equality is the best foundation for fine manners,
and that the vast disparities in material wealth and in intellectual
culture between different classes of society prevent the development of
that _respect_ humain which is the root of courtesy. I thought of his
words as I sat at this dinner table.

As for dress it was on the whole--though various in fashion and style of
different ages--much plainer and less expensive than that of middle-class
people in my own day. I recollect a newcomer from England asking my
mother how people dressed in Adelaide, and she said, curtly, "As well as
they can afford to do, and often a great deal better."

As for good looks, I was more than satisfied. The lovely complexion of
youth in England was where Florrie and her compeers had the advantage
over the Australian ancestors, but the complexion stood even in middle
and advanced age, and the physique was altogether finer. Both men and
women were taller, larger, and stronger than our old average.

I compared the table, at which about seventy people sat, with one at a
_table d'hôte_, or in a large ocean steamer. The appointments were good,
though not showy. The tablecloth and table napkins were tolerably fine
and beautifully white. Linen, glassware, dinner set, knives, forks and
spoons were all marked Owen Home, and could be replaced when worn out or
broken. The twenty middle-class families of the nineteenth century would
each have had at least two sets of china, stoneware and glass, and of the
more expensive an extra number for purposes of hospitality. Thus there
was a large saving made in the original outlay and maintenance for the
twenty families. The food was abundant and excellently cooked and served,
but there was far less meat on the table than I was accustomed to see.
Three of the families were absolutely vegetarians, but, independent of
that, vegetable diet took a much greater place in the food of the people
now that all classes lived alike, and when England was expected to
provide for her own population. Soups made largely from pulses, a
profusion of vegetables--some familiar to me, but others quite new,
salads, light puddings and pastry, and a large quantity of fruit--raw and
cooked, with white and brown bread _à discretion_ made up the dinner,
which I enjoyed very much. There was a large profusion of water drinkers,
but some drank light beer or wine with dinner. I was told that those paid
a little more, and the vegetarians a little less, as their contribution
for housekeeping than the average rate. Four expert waiters--two men and
two women--waited at the table. The children had had their dinner
half-an-hour earlier in their own dining-room. The meal lasted about
forty minutes or three-quarters of an hour, and was enlivened with
talk--chiefly amongst the separate families, but occasionally more
general. I was interested in some talk about the prospects of the next
Presidential election between some opposite neighbors, and I could not
help watching with interest the boy and girl, the student lovers who were
at my side.

Mrs. Oliphant went after dinner to visit some patients in a Home,
Hounslow way. The lovers went for a walk preparatory to settling down to
their afternoon work.

Mr. Oliphant--whom I took at once into my confidence--had five leisure
hours before going to his office, which he was accustomed to spend either
in the library for the preparation of his book on "Co-operation," or in
the garden--for he was an enthusiastic horticulturalist; but he was too
interested in my story to do anything but devote himself to me. My
accurate information and shrewdness up to a certain date, my ignorance
and helplessness about all subsequent matters gradually convinced him
that I was a belated fellow mortal astray in another century.

Mr. Oliphant was at this particular time a member of the house committee
of the Owen Home, and he showed me all over it. First we went to the
kitchen--with its marvellous cooking range, and the central fire which
warmed sufficiently the whole building at a very small cost for each
family even in winter. The same economy characterised the lighting of the
establishment by the electric light. The drainage was perfect, and the
consequence was that the health of the little community was generally
excellent.

Supplies were procured from co-operative stores, which again were
connected with cooperative farms and factories. All the processes of
production, distribution and consumption were made inter-dependent, and
while the cost of production and the labor employed in getting the
product to the consumer were minimised, everyone had a share in the
profit. It was difficult to compare prices with ours. Perhaps the bushel
of wheat was the nearest to accuracy. I could see that a man's work for
the day of six hours might be reckoned at the price of a
bushel-and-a-half of wheat, and a woman's at a bushel-and-a-quarter. The
relation which a bushel of wheat bore to other commodities was, however
so different from what I was used to that this unit is somewhat
misleading. Prices were marvellously steady, but on the whole the day's
work tended to procure more of the necessaries and comforts of life every
decade. Wheat was grown in England for the bulk of its supplies, but
other cereals and pulses took a large place in cultivation, while the
minor industries--too much neglected on large capitalist farms--were
developed to the utmost extent on the large co-operative farms which had
taken their place; the dairy, pigs and poultry, and fruit and vegetable
productions for consumption enormously increased. The Owen Home grew all
its own fruit and vegetables, and supplied itself with honey from the
garden. The waste from the garden and the house fed the pigs and poultry,
but milk was bought, and dairy produce as well as bread, meat, general
groceries and beer and wine from the co-operative stores with which the
Home was affiliated. The twenty families, without servants, numbered 104
old and young; for though the number of children was limited, it was so
much the custom for two or three generations to inhabit the same home
that there was more than the old average of five.

I went through the public rooms, each set apart for its specific purpose,
and I noted how the hands of various members during three generations had
beautified and enriched the common property. I saw, too, how
furniture--originally well made--would last if properly cared for and not
cast aside for fashion's sake. When the Home was founded in 1900 each
member was supposed to put in so much money for the purchase and the
furnishing. In order to economise the cost, most of the associates
contributed out of their old abandoned homes some things that would take
the place of new. Mrs. Carmichael's bedroom furniture was still in great
part what Florrie and her husband had put into it. There were still
chairs and tables in the whist room and the smoking room, and others,
which dated as far back, and the best violins in the music room, as well
as one piano, were as old. The mechanics' room was not only utilised for
all repairs, which were made properly and efficiently, but many pieces of
furniture--such as easy chairs, couches and occasional tables--were made
there with the latest improvements in comfort and economy. I saw and
admired Mr. Carmichael's paintings, and his widow's needlework.

There was nothing of the meretricious and showy decorations of the
present hotel or fashionable boarding house in the appointments and
decorations of the Associated Home. Though inhabited by as many families
as would make a hamlet or small village the place looked and felt like a
home, and I could see that each member felt an owner's pride in it.
Inside I could see traces of this everywhere, and there were quite a
dozen of the families who had a taste for gardening, and worked at the
flower beds and greenhouses--and even at the kitchen garden in their
leisure hours.

There was a committee for floral decorations, who arranged them in the
public rooms before breakfast each day. There was also an amusement
committee who arranged and carried out the programmes of the Owen Home
entertainments, week by week. When Mr. Oliphant took me round the
garden--which was his own special health-giving hobby, he showed me more
in detail that minute and extensive cultivation which was the rule in the
England of the 20th century, and dwelt upon the fact that, by the larger
and more varied use of fruit and vegetables as diet, the race had
improved in health, and, besides, the land had been able to support in
plenty a population which must have emigrated elsewhere, or been
insufficiently nourished when English manufactures no longer supplied the
rest of the world.

"To-morrow you must see agriculture proper, where the same principle is
carried out to waste nothing, and to coax mother earth to produce her
uttermost. You must also see the factory system. That will be enough for
one day. This day, it should suffice to make yourself acquainted with the
machinery of our Associated Homes, the unit in our society, from which
commercial associations proceeded, rising to national association up to
the confederation of the world for peaceful industry and interchange of
commodities and ideas."

"But you say that the export trade of England has departed:"

"In the gigantic form which it used to rear, it is no more; but there are
still some foreign goods we must buy and we must export an equivalent.
Although foreigners and colonists no longer depend on the capital, labor,
and ingenuity of England for their manufactured goods, but supply
themselves, there are still some lines which force their way into the
markets of the world, because they are better and, for the quality,
cheaper than the home product, and this, sometimes in the face of a
protective tariff. For instance, Australia cannot manufacture cottons to
compete with us, and we share that large market with the United States.
In iron goods, America, perhaps, exports more value than we do--but we
hold our own. There is a limited demand in the more backward East for
some of the comforts and conveniences of life. On the whole we export
what procures us what we need from abroad, and thus make life richer and
pleasanter for ourselves and others."

"I must make the most of my week:" I said, "but there is so much to see
and to learn that it seems all too short."

The evening meal was announced before I could take in all I wanted to do
of the Associated Home and its working. Supper, as it was called, was
different from the dinner, because there was no meat or even fish upon
the table. There was tea, coffee and cocoa, and a quite new
beverage--patronised by the vegetarians--bread, butter, preserves, light
puddings, salads, and an abundance of fruit. Meat was only eaten once a
day--even by those who were not vegetarians, but the best vegetable
substitutes in the way of pulses were largely consumed, especially at
breakfast, which I was told was a more substantial meal than supper.
Wheaten and oaten porridge and lentils or other legumes were eaten at
breakfast, with eggs prepared in various ways, bacon and fish. I never
ate more delicious bread and butter in my life than at supper--the only
recollection that came at all near to it was at Paris. Three meals a day
made the regular course. Invalids might have food more frequently, but
healthy children and adults were supposed to be abundantly nourished with
breakfast, dinner, and supper. I contrasted the meals with those of the
Melbourne well-to-do, and found that though different they were
substantially as good; but, when I contrasted them with those of the
Australian working men with meat and tea and bread three times a day, I
could see that the working men of the future had a far more healthy
dietary, and as for the children at whom I had a peep, there was no
comparison.

After supper Mr. Oliphant went to his office, but for me and all others
there was an evening, and my kinsfolk asked me where I should like to
spend it. I saw by the programme that there was a little dramatic
entertainment in which Florrie Oliphant and her lover were to take part,
so I chose to go there. The half hour before the performance began I
spent in looking through the public rooms and seeing how affinities
grouped themselves. I also had a peep at the younger children being put
to bed, but I must delay my remarks on the children until I can embrace
the whole subject.

The acting was quiet, but very pleasing and remarkably equal. I never
heard the prompter at all. Florrie reminded me even more of her great
great grandmother in the slight alteration of dress than before, but
there was very little make-up in the little play. The piece was so very
different in plot from what I was used to--and even in character--that I
did not quite know whether I liked it or not, but I knew quite well that
I liked the acting.

When I went up to my room, I took pen in hand, and sat down to the little
writing-table to commit to paper the wonderful events and experiences of
the day. This took so long a time and excited me so much that it must
have been far in the morning before I dropped off to sleep. The morning
bell awoke me before I had had half enough of the refreshing oblivion of
sleep--of deep, dreamless sleep; but I did not ask for a week in the
future to waste it in over much slumber. I rose briskly, plunged into a
cold bath--and felt a new woman--put on my clothes with a somewhat
uncomfortable feeling of being over-dressed for the morning in the Owen
Home, and hastened down to eat with excellent appetite a well served and
delicious breakfast.




CHAPTER III



TUESDAY


_Co-operative Production and Distribution_


Mr. Oliphant kindly put himself at my disposal for the day; as he did his
six hours' work and more during the night, his days were unoccupied
except by the two hobbies of literature and gardening. He felt that my
coming would throw light on the subject of his new book, as it showed how
different society was in the infancy of co-operation, so that no hobby
was equal to the pleasure of enlightening me, who could not stay to read
his book. If I did not get whole chapters fired off to me, I feel sure
that I had a great many detached sentences. The newspaper seemed to be a
very inadequate vehicle for such a man to express himself in. There did
not seem to be the same anxiety for the latest news that had
characterised the world when I knew it well. I was surprised to see the
small size of the paper which my friend edited, and especially the
handful of advertisements which appeared in it. I thought this must be a
journal with small circulation, or recently established, but in this I
was mistaken. The title was the _Daily News_, and it was the present
representative of that old Liberal paper.

"What has become of the advertisements?" said I.

"Well, people do not advertise much now-a-days. When the whole community
deal at co-operative stores, they need neither showy buildings nor
insinuating shopmen nor costly advertisements. The stores do not
overstock themselves, and therefore do not need to push their trade!"

"The advertisements used to be the very sinews of war!"

"Yes, indeed; the tail grew so strong that it wagged the head. We still
are a good deal beholden to our advertisements, though you look on them
with scorn!"

"You see a column or two of vacancies in Associated Homes, and at this
season a large number offered at the seaside, for occasional change of
air is good for everyone, though not so necessary now that we understand
sanitation. Here is a column of Lost and Found, another for situations
wanted, and for persons to fill situations. A column of shipping
advertisements and a few auction sales of cargoes, which in a general way
are consigned to special importers and are not put up to auction, some
notices of removal. Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths of course
take the first place on the first page!"

"Divorces?" I said.

"Yes; they are public matters, deserving of brief official announcement,
though not of exhaustive and exhausting reports as in old times!"

"But where are the quack medicines and the toilet requisites? Where are
Holloway's Pills, Eno's Fruit Salt, Pears' Soap, Hop Bitters, and such
like?"

"Not now worth advertising apparently. Sales are made to the stores,
which are not induced to buy by plausible advertisements!"

"Where are the new season's goods just opened,--where the tremendous
sacrifices of goods at the end of the Summer and Winter seasons, and the
detailed price-list to tempt the lover of bargains?"

"Gone for ever, I suppose, because our co-operative stores do not
over-buy in the first place, and neither charge a fancy price for what is
novel, nor reduce below cost when the article has become common or has
induced cheaper imitations. We keep our wares till the next season, we
wear out our own clothes and consume or work up our own scraps; but with
the death of the fury of competition fell the enormous profits of
newspapers on advertisements which enabled them to spend what appears to
us now fabulous sums for the latest news. I can see that you look on our
modern _Daily News_ as a very poor affair, but you may see that other
journals are in the same category."

There were five other daily papers and six weekly taken in at the Owen
Home, but all had the same characteristics. The _Times_ was larger than
the _Daily News_, and had more foreign intelligence, but no larger
advertising sheets.

I was indeed surprised. "It is not only the new goods and the season
sales that I miss, but the sales of real estate, of stock, of shares."

"I suppose there is a character of permanence in all our doings that was
unknown to you. A family goes into a home, and, as you see, remains there
for life, and often for generations. A farm or a factory, on co-operative
principles, helps its employés together, not by the week or the month,
but for the life-time. Exchanges are sometimes made, but it is
advantageous to keep together, and the element in human nature that leads
to constancy is encouraged by all our social arrangements. But this
permanence is not the thing to make newspapers either so interesting to
read, or so lucrative to manage as when people could be tempted to almost
any course of action by having it forcibly presented to them."

"Personally, I hated the advertising system. I do not think I ever bought
anything in consequence of having it presented insistently; but I must
have been an exception, or the thing could not have been kept up," said
I.

"You see that we do not get as much for a penny as you used to do. The
advertisements are fewer and cheaper. Twenty families associated do not
buy so many newspapers. We pay the employés as much or more in value for
six hours' work as was formerly paid for ten, and the price of paper
would have been raised by the high value of labor if cheaper fibre had
not been discovered, and more effective machinery applied to the
manufacture."

"It is indeed a strange industrial revolution that has been carried out.
Our prevalent idea was that things would continue to go on expanding, and
that the 20th century would go into bigger figures in every way than the
19th, but with you the general well-being of the whole population demands
checks somewhere, and I see it in the newspaper clearly enough The cost
of advertising enhances the cost of the product, and your whole system
demands the minimising of the cost of distribution, so that the producer
should get as much and the consumer pay as little as possible."

"You put the case in a nutshell," said Mr. Oliphant."

"But what do the armies of distributors do, not to speak of the
speculators, the brokers, and stock jobbers. Of actual producers every
country showed too few, and yet they appeared to produce too much for the
consumers to buy at a remunerative price. The fringe of casual workers
taken on at a push, and cast off in slack seasons, showed something very
far from sound in the industrial world, and scarcely less objectionable
was the fury of overwork alternated with none at all in many of the
season trades. Painters and decorators, for instance, were over-driven
for six months in the year, and half idle for the other six."

"Our social system now," said Mr. Oliphant, "is built on the continuous
employment of all the population. Painters and decorators, as you say,
are still living during the summer at this branch of their business, but
they are employed in making paper hangings and other material that will
keep during the winter months. Every one has a by-trade, which may be
scarcely as profitable as his ordinary one, but the misery and waste of
enforced idlenesss is saved to him. This needs organisation and
management, which you will see to advantage at our co-operative farm."

"How far is it out of London?" I asked.

"About forty miles. My brother is the manager, and will be glad to show a
stranger from Australia over the place. You will travel by a national
railway."

"That I was used to; in all the colonies railways were built and
controlled by the Government. How did the nation absorb the iron roads
built by associations of capitalists?" "Not by spoliation--the nation
gave the full value to the companies for them." "Is travelling cheapened
in consequence?"

"Yes, considerably cheapened, and made much more safe as well."

"I cannot comprehend how, in a century, the great disparities of
condition have been virtually abolished, and the nation seems in the
process to have exchanged national debt for national property. You have
no rich people now-a-days."

"Yes, we have some whom we call rich, but the very rich are extinct."

"You must have confiscated property on a large scale. It may have been
necessary, but it must often have been very cruel."

"It was not confiscation, as I understand the word," said Mr. Oliphant,
"but something had to be done when the armies of Europe were disbanded,
and the millions of non-producers, who had simply destroyed capital and
consumed the fruits of others' toil, must needs be enlisted in the
industrial army. All trades stood aghast at the threatened competition.
In old thickly-peopled countries it was not as in America at the close of
her civil war, when an enormous area of fertile land was open for new
settlement, and Europe ready to buy the produce of labor, and besides,
there the armies had been improvised recently out of industrious
citizens. The European standing armies were composed of soldiers
untrained to peaceful labor. The Continental armies were larger than the
English, no doubt, but their land system was better. It was not the mere
soldiers who had to be provided for, but there were thousands on
thousands of artisans engaged from their youth up in making rifles,
cannons, and all the munitions of war by sea and land, thrown at once out
of employment. The land system had to be revolutionised, and all of the
land utilised. Then was the tremendous stride taken in co-operative
production, and the simultaneous exchange of the isolated for the
Associated Homes. It was a terrible but a grand time to live in. In the
peaceful serenity of our present days, I have often sighed for the
opportunities of that time of transition. The wisdom and philanthropy of
the best of the educated classes were called out as they have never been
before or since, organising workshops and trade instruction, and
especially in revolutionising agriculture."

"Was it peasant properties or _petite culture_ that they went in for, or
long leases with compensation for improvements?"

"Not small peasant properties; modern agriculture to be successful, must
be carried on on a large scale, with every appliance in the way of
machinery, and the most effective division of labor that can be
accomplished. It was an age when the capital which had been gradually
earning less and less in the old channels, was poured out on the land
like water; when new fertilisers, some bulky and others minute, were
tried and tested all over the country from Land's End to John O'Groat's,
and when for the first time, the body of the people understood the
population question."

"The nation would of course save the enormous cost of the army and navy."
said I, "but in such a crisis the taxes would fall off, and would be
remitted."

"No, the taxes were not remitted. They were very severe, but the nation
used this money and the credit which still stood good, for all other
countries were passing through an equally difficult crisis, to buy up
encumbered estates. All crown lands, church lands, and waste lands are at
once nationalised, and let with absolute fixity of tenure for a rent or
land tax, call it what you will. The waste lands blossomed like the rose,
and the non-producers became producers of wealth not before dreamed of."

"We thought British farming was very advanced."

"I have the statistics at the office, which would surprise you. The
average product in food of various kinds to the acre is very much more
than when the land was cultivated by capitalist tenant farmers employing
hired labor."

"But the nation has not bought up all the land in what I gather from
conversation you now call the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland."

"By no means, but all other estates are dealt with by their owners in the
same way. Many estates were so encumbered that it was impossible for the
owners to hold them longer, and they were divided and sold to
co-operative companies in blocks for farming. All entails and hindrances
to sale of land were done away with, so that the great land-owner is a
tradition of the past. Land kept up its value long because the possession
of it gave a social position which other property could not do, but with
the collapse of foreign trade, and the competition of foreign and
colonial manufactures, the large fortunes were no longer made that sought
for this Hall-mark of gentility."

"And what of the wheat growers of America, Australia, and India, not to
speak of Russia, who used to supply your industrious producers of
manufactured articles with cheap bread? Their occupation would be gone."

"There was, as I have told you, a terrible period all over the world. You
must have seen the beginning of the industrial revolution, when the
foreigners and colonists began to shake off the yoke of dependence on
Britain. This continued till the unemployed in England were counted by
millions; Capitalists stood aghast at the gradually waning profits of all
industrial undertakings, which turned indeed to a steady loss, and were
glad for years to live on their capital without looking for interest at
all. Then as I said, the preventive population check was adopted not only
by the middle class, but by artisans and laborers, and there was an
emigration for (sic) England which rivalled that from Ireland after the
famine. Australia received a large contingent during the ten years at the
close of the last century, and at the beginning of this, which she
absorbed advantageously in settling her vast territory. America, as might
be expected, received a still larger access of people. The cheapness of
transport caused a large number to go to Canada, than to your more
distant settlement. But Australasia, as might be expected now far
outnumbers Canada in population."

"But other European countries would be equally embarrassed with
over-population."

"All these countries sent large bodies of emigrants to North and South
America, and to Australasia, but England was the country _par excellence_
which had a large proportion of the people absolutely dependent on
foreign trade and foreign food."

"The great Republic grew rich on the emigration of Europe. Has that
exodus now ceased?"

"The great Republic, like other nations, has learned how to be
self-contained and self-supporting. The millionaires who had been made
rich in the mechanical inventions supplied to an intelligent people who
had abundance of land to fall back upon, and especially by the railroads,
which conveyed the produce to the sea-board, suffered in the collapse of
the export trade. Their railways became less profitable, and were
nationalised sooner than ours. America, after a period of great
expansion, has settled down to a stationary population of about one
hundred and fifty millions"

"And Australia?" I asked eagerly.

"Australasia including New Zealand, has now a population of fifty
millions, and is capable of much expansion yet."

"The United Kingdom or Commonwealth, as you call it, can no longer
maintain as its own territory the thirty-five millions of a century
back--of my yesterday."

"No, it fell through emigration, and the preventive check, to thirty
millions, and keeps stationary at that."

"This does not look like progress," I said. "All our ideas of prosperity
were connected with an increasing population."

"In a new country like yours, population was wealth--the more hands you
could enlist in developing your soil, and your vast resources, the more
general was the well being, but a limit is found at length. Of the thirty
millions who now people England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all are
living in comfort; there are no longer a third of the community existing
in the borderland of starvation. Pauperism has died out, so that heavy
drain on the industry of the people has been removed, as well as the cost
of war, and of the fear of war, which was worse than the conflict itself.
You will find also as you become acquainted with our social system, that
many of the things which were established at great cost and which were a
continuous tax on productive industry, are carried out by armies of
volunteers in their leisure, which every one has so large a share of."

"How do you employ all your thirty millions of people. It does not need
so many to produce food and clothing, and moderate necessaries for home
consumption."

"You forget that each producer is a large consumer. That a well-to-do
working class (to use the old phrase,) which is well and plainly fed,
comfortably clothed and lodged, well educated, and well amused, makes a
large market for all sorts of commodities. A market steady and quite
unaffected by the changes of fashion."

"It was held that without the lavish expenditure of the rich, the artisan
and factory hand could not earn a living," said I, "but I always combated
that idea."

"What is the market created by one rich man waited on by say twenty
unproductive servants, compared to that of two hundred producers, fed and
clothed and lodged as we are in our Associated Homes, with the minimum of
labor required to wait on us, and set us free for our various
bread-earning avocations?" said Mr. Oliphant.

"The wealth of the past certainly was accompanied by enormous waste, and
was confronted and overbalanced by enormous want, but people justified
the lavish expenditure of the rich on the ground that it employed labor,
which was always super-abundant, and always ready to flow in any
direction which their tastes or caprice opened. Whether in the form of a
hundred guineas for a ball-dress, or a thousand pounds for the floral
decorations at a single entertainment, this circulation of money was held
to enrich the producing classes."

"How much of it stuck to the fingers of the middlemen? Are not the
dressmakers who make our wives' and our daughters' simple clothes better
paid and better treated than the fabricators of hundred guinea marvels,
and is it not better that flowers should be a part of our daily life and
seen in abundance in the homes of all the community, than that costly
exotics should be grown for the demand of millionaires? Thank God we have
done with millionaires. They had their uses in the production of capital
which stimulated invention, but they were the most demoralising of
consumers."

"I suppose more people are employed in the land than formerly. In my time
great complaints were made that machinery entered into farming so much
that agricultural laborers were at a discount, and the best of the
country people crowded into the towns or emigrated to the colonies,
leaving the old and feeble and the paupers a burden on the community."

"We employ far more machinery than ever, but we also employ more manual
labor. The great decline is in the factory hands as the foreign trade is
so small now, but machinery and inventions had not said their last word
even in your time, and we must export, not only to pay for the raw
material of other countries, such as cotton and silk, but for those
articles of food which we desire which we cannot grow in this climate."

"Tea, coffee, wine, sugar?"

"We do not import much sugar. Much of our soil is admirably fitted for
beet."

"And the sugar-growers in the West Indies and in Queensland are cut out
of their market." I remonstrated.

"We still draw some sugar from the West Indies, but these islands have
learned to vary their industries. As for Queensland and Palmerston they
supply Australasia with cane sugar, which is better liked than beet, and
as there is a fiscal union over all the colonies, they have the command
of the market."

"Would it not be cheaper and in every way better for England to import
cane sugar and other things which are not suited to her climate, than to
fight with nature to produce them?" said I, for I had been reared in the
orthodox doctrine of political economy, and I thought that to draw our
daily supplies from the farthest corners of the earth was not only
magnificent but economical.

"I cannot undertake to answer that question. Society has come to the
conclusion that whether the articles cost more or not, it is better to
pay a little higher price and be more independent of the outside world.
The hostile tariffs that the undutiful daughters of Great Britain one
after another erected as barriers against the products and manufactures
of the mother country, were probably an economical mistake for a time,
and were somewhat blindly entered into, but I believe it was thus that
the world struggled into the knowledge that the _nearest_ market is, on
the whole, the _most profitable_, and that the well-being and the varied
efficiency of our own producers are the chief things to be considered."

"Now that you have established a certain standard of living, a certain
limitation of labor, and a certain rate of wages, you will be forced to
keep out foreign competition."

"We are," said Mr. Oliphant. "Fancy coolies and Chinese coming to destroy
all we have struggled for! But this does not need legislation. Public
opinion makes it difficult if not impossible for a stranger to find
employment."

"It is like a mighty trade union," said I. "There was great exception
taken to many of the exclusive ideas and unjustifiable methods of the
trade associations in my time, but there is no doubt they did a great
deal of good."

"They occupied the transition ground between individualism and
collectivism. The interests of the single workman were lost in that of
his trade, but at first the union had no feeling for the vast mass of
inorganised labor, which had no such protection from encroachment, and
they actually made the position of these, including all female workers,
more intolerable. Now we feel all members of one body, and there is no
avocation, however humble, that serves society, that is not respected and
adequately paid for."

"But if you keep out cheap labor, you must also keep out the products of
the cheaper labor of other countries."

"The continental countries have all established systems similar to ours,
for they were ahead of us in the social revolution. The well-being of the
workman is measured by the fertility of the soil and the pressure of
population, and in a smaller degree by the capital that has been
accumulated to develop industries."

"I should also say by the intelligence of the people." said I.

"France took the lead in seeing the necessity of a stationary
population," said Mr. Oliphant. "Germany, when she worked up to the
situation, and had no longer the drain of her armies, which took from
every citizen five years of productive life, besides the cost of the
permanent force and artillery and fortifications, excelled France in the
thoroughness of her social reforms. Her soil is not so rich as that of
England or France, but the industry of her people is marvellous. In
Germany they work eight hours a day still. In France and Italy and Spain
only seven hours."

"What are the hours in America and Australia?"

"Six hours, but I believe the style of living is more luxurious than
here."

"And Russia," said I eagerly, "Has Russia obtained freedom?"

"Oh yes, long ago. It is strange to look back a hundred years. Russia is
still backward as compared to England, but there was a marvellous
movement after the fall of the Autocracy. You had the French Revolution
as your type of terrible catastrophe: that was nothing to the Russian
Revolution. Hard as was our task in reconstruction, the settlement of
Russia was harder, and there were many noble souls released from years of
prison and exile, who plunged into the work and spent themselves for
their weaker and more ignorant brethren. Russia has great, indeed immense
resources. Like America, she has every variety of soil and climate
(outside of the tropical), and enlightened agriculture has done marvels
for her, though the want of a middle class was a great hindrance for her
for a whole generation. I may say for nearly two generations."

"What heavy protective tariffs you must have to keep out foreign
products."

"Foreign products are not now so much cheaper than our own. With regard
to Europe and America and Australia, freight and charges are almost
sufficient protection. It is a matter of time with regard to the Eastern
or Asiatic commodities."

"India, China, and Japan--at least if the workman there continues to
subsist on a handful of rice--must be able to undersell your highly paid
European cultivator and artisans."

"They have not the aid of machinery, and invention, and effective
association of labor to any great extent yet, though they have made a
beginning; but as for the bare margin of subsistence they are learning
from the West to demand more, and, as the first step towards this, they
now limit their population."

"The religion of India, and that of China also, favored the reckless
multiplication of the species."

"What known religion of any antiquity did not," said Mr. Oliphant,
"except the ascetic form of medieval Christianity, which encouraged
celibacy among the most gracious and intelligent of the population, and
left the race to be perpetuated by the ignorant and violent. Every church
and creed and priesthood in the world fought to the death against the
prudential check, but religion is forced to give way, or to accept
modifications when its requirements are felt to be destructive or
subversive of happiness and progress. Female infants were always
ruthlessly murdered in China, but male infants were prized because they
alone could perform the necessary rites on the death of a parent. It is
now found that the nearest male relative can do this as well, and the
proportion of quite childless couples is even greater in China than in
India. The population of both vast territories has steadily decreased for
the last seventy years, and the well-being of the inhabitants has
advanced in a similar degree."

"Of course England no longer possesses her splendid Indian Empire."

"No! But she has the glory of having prepared this vast dependency for
self-government--not as one empire, but as a confederacy of states. Their
institutions are not closely modelled on ours, but are suited to the
genius and to the circumstances of these people."

"The British Islands have a great history." I said. "Mother of nations
planted by all waters, and, in India, the administrator and educator of a
foreign empire. It must have seemed hard to give up the vast prestige and
power of a Colonial and Indian Empire, and to have settled down to the
position--held before the days of Chatham--of a small European group of
islands, living on its means. Where are the openings now for enterprising
young men? It is difficult for me to conceive of a state of society where
different members of families were not scattered abroad. With my own
limited family connections I had relatives in Scotland, London, Victoria,
New Zealand, South Australia, Canada, Canary, the West Indies, the United
States, Ceylon, and India, China and Fiji--not to speak of others in
houses of business trading with these and other distant parts. It appears
a sad come down for Imperial Britain."

"As in the case of our ordinary families, the children have become
independent. They still love their parent State, and honor her; but they
do not depend on her. She, too, has made herself independent."

"What then are your chief industries?"

"Agriculture and horticulture; but, of course, there are still great
factories for the production of everything but the raw material. The six
hours' labor daily is aided by all the machinery and appliances which the
feverish age of competition, in which you have lived, gave birth to for
the advantage in the race of wealthy individuals. That age, indeed, was
mainly employed in equipping civilised man with economic tools to use in
a quieter and happier social order. Had the reconstruction of the
industrial world taken place a hundred years--or even fifty years
earlier--the unit of production would have been much less. Material
well-being would have been lower in degree, and procured with more
labor."

"I recollect the socialists and anarchists said that four hours' labor
daily would suffice for the wants of the world."

"We prefer six, and go beyond necessaries to comforts: but now we reap
the full advantage of the conquering machine."

"Your short day's work is wasteful for costly machinery."

"No! Such machinery is worked in shifts--as many as three shifts in the
cotton and woollen factories, and in some of the ironworks. Two shifts,
daily, in all factories. The only direction in which longer hours of work
are occasionally allowed is in agriculture. At haymaking and harvest time
all hands will work double tide (sic), if necessary."

"They do not now call in extra hands to help, as was the custom when I
knew the world."

"What could these extra hands do for the rest of the year? Our industrial
system is built upon permanent, and continuous employment. The terrible
evils of out-of-workness, or, as the French concisely termed it,
_chomage_, rose to such a height at the latter end of the nineteenth
century that it caused starvation in many cases, imperfect nutrition for
millions, put a strain upon charity and philanthropy under which they
collapsed, and threatened revolution and anarchy."

"You _had_ a revolution. It was not merely threatened."

"Yes! But not such as that of France in the 18th century, or of Russia in
the 19th. It was not anarchic but reconstructive. However, such as it
was, _chomage_ was its most dangerous element, and the thing had to be
put an end to, at whatever cost."

"I recollect, indeed, the foolish speech of a fashionable lady who had
delayed giving the order for her dress in the London season till the last
moment, and the dressmaker said it could not be done. 'Why not put on
fresh hands?"

"That meant," said Mr. Oliphant, "that outside of the regular workers
there should be a contingent to suit the caprices of employers, and to be
cast off to starve at other times."

"There is far too much of that in all season trades, I fear," said I.
_Chomage_ was one of the things that weighed heavy on my mind in the last
fifteen years of my life. But six hours seems an absurdly short day. I
recollect the alarm at the shortening of hours lest it should destroy
England's supremacy as against the cheaper labor and longer hours of
continental producers. Six hours cannot be universal. The attendants at
your Homes must be on duty much longer."

"Yes! But not at the stretch, all the time, like an operative in a
factory or workshop."

"I used to think shopmen in England, and especially barmen and barmaids
were kept on the stretch for very long days and domestic service where
employers were not considerate was not much better. On the go from early
morn till long past dewy eve."

"Our people relieve each other a good deal in the homes. Our work is done
by contract, and there is perfect organisation amongst the attendants.
There is no complaint of overwork. We have had the same staff
substantially for ten years, as the contract is renewed yearly."

"Your attendants do so much," said I, "compared with service as I
recollect it."

"Machinery lightens the work in every direction: knives and boots and
silver are cleaned by machinery; there are no fires to light or grates to
clean; sweeping is done in an ingenious method which you never heard of,
which raises no dust: nothing could give less trouble than the lighting
of the Owen Home. You saw the cooking apparatus, the boilers, roasters,
and steamers, the peelers, shellers, and choppers, which are so useful
when food has to be prepared in quantity, but which are not worth buying
for every isolated home. It is the same in every department. I feel
certain that except in the textile arts, six hours' work is as effective
now as ten when you left the world."

"The personal service must be much more effective," said I, "unless your
twenty families need far less waiting on than their ancestors."

"Probably they do. They do not ring the bell and bring a domestic up two
flights of stairs to tell what is wanted, and send her down for it. Even
with the lift, and the telephone, our attendants have little of that kind
of interruption. All necessary orderly services in the way of cleaning
the house, cooking, and serving the meals, and washing and getting up
clothes, are given to us without our having the trouble of ordering it."

"Then you are never put out because the cook has gone off in a huff on
the eve of a large dinner party, or the girl who minds the baby leaves on
short notice for an easier place."

"You observe that we call our attendants Mr., Mrs., or Miss as the case
may be. We respect them, and save them by machinery from much
disagreeable labor. We plan all we can to economise unproductive human
labor."

"And productive human labor also," said I, "because the more each worker
can turn out the better for the consumer."'

"Quite true; but a reduction in the number of those who give personal
service to others for their livelihood is one of the most remarkable
features in our civilisation. It began in a faint and tentative way
before the industrial revolution."

"I recollect going into some statistics in Victoria, where domestic
servants were more highly paid, and had more privileges than anywhere in
the world, and I noticed that while in ten years the general population
had increased so that there were twenty thousand more inhabited houses,
the number of female domestic servants had only increased by three
hundred. Our newspapers laid the blame of this on protected industries,
which attracted the girls to factories and shops, but I could not see
that so many of them went there. A large proportion seemed to prefer to
stay at home."

"It was the objection to the conditions of service that was at work
everywhere."

"The objection told hard on the mothers of young families who were not
rich. They could not get help for love or money."

"That pressure affected society in two ways," says Mr. Oliphant. "It
tended to limit the number of children to what the mother herself could
attend to, and to substitute for the old service the present independent
contract, which is best carried out in associated homes."'

This, I think, was the substance of our conversation on the railway
carriage, which took us in a little over an hour to the co-operative
farm, forty miles out of London, northward, which was managed by Mr.
George Oliphant. It was a busy time of the year, all hands were out in
the harvest-field, which, however, was so near the house that they were
able to come in for middle-day dinner, so that I could see the
agricultural laborer of the twentieth century at his work and at his
meal. Reaping machines were used, not worked by horses. In the matter of
horses, the age was most economical. Some of these machines were worked
by cable like the tramways, but those on this co-operative farm of
Ossulton were worked by pneumatic pressure by steam, but with a saving of
fuel such as I had never heard of. That also was the case with the
railway on which I had travelled. The wheat harvest was in full swing,
and the day was hot. The produce, I was told, was equal to fifty bushels
to the acre, but the reckoning was in centals, and indeed decimal coinage
and decimal weights and measures had been adopted so long ago that most
people had forgotten our old standard. The farm measured about 5,000
acres, mostly gently undulating country, but there was something like a
hill which had been cut in terraces by a steam scoop, and which took its
turn in the rotation of crops. The proportion of stock kept to the arable
was smaller than of yore, because new and less bulky manures supplanted
in part the old farm-yard compost, which was also made the most of. Great
pits of ensilage was stored, as well as turnips and mangolds, for winter
consumption for sheep and cattle. The minor industries were legion, as
well as what may be called outside crops. There was beet, and flax and
hemp, rye and a hardy millet. A choice plot was planted with hops, which
were not now confined to Kent. There were fields of peas and beans, not
exclusively for horses' food as of old. The well-being of the community
was greatly aided by the utilisation of old despised products for human
food. Vegetables were grown for sale, as well as to supply plentifully
all the hands employed on the farm. Fruit trees were planted for shelter
where I had been used to see belts of firs or other forest trees. Now
that the building trades had collapsed, and shipbuilding had also died
out, for the needs of the world were served by swift iron steamers
mostly, there was a very limited market for building timber, and so the
food-producing apple, pear, plum, and nut trees were substituted. A large
dairy farm employed continuously several of the inhabitants of Ossulton
House. Another contingent had charge of the pigs and the poultry, which
were kept in far larger proportions than in the old capitalist farms.
Poultry farming has, indeed, grown to a scientific pursuit, and it was
quite possible for every citizen to have a fowl in the pot on Sundays,
according to the kindly but ineffectual wish of _Henri Quatre_. The very
bee-hives of the farm aided in the common fund considerably. No more
eggs, butter, or cheese from abroad, and very little fruit of any kind
that the English climate could produce. In estimating the loss of foreign
trade, as Mr. Oliphant pointed out, people forget the loss and the waste,
which comes from foreigners rushing in with their supplies of what
England could very well produce. The labor on the main crops, the
cereals, was economised very much by steam ploughs and reapers, but the
more minute labor in the minor industries, the weeding and hoeing and
gathering, was very great.

"Are women as well as men employed in agricultural work," I asked.

"Certainly," said Mr. Oliphant, "there would not otherwise be enough for
the female contingent to do on the Ossulton farm, and our women must work
as well as our men."

"Are all the laborers housed in this single home for the work of this
large farm."

"No; there are two homes, each containing about 120 souls, located at
convenient distance, so that no worker is very far from his work."

"That is a great deal of labor for the land according to Australian
practice, but not as much as was bestowed on it before the days of
machinery in England. I do not see how you can employ more people in
agriculture than they used to do a hundred years ago."

"We do indeed, because the whole country is cultivated in the same minute
way. There is not half of the pasture land to the arable that there used
to be, and wastes and moors and marshes have been reclaimed, parks and
pleasure grounds in private occupation taken into cultivation, though
indeed parks and recreation grounds for the people have been enlarged and
multiplied everywhere; but that does not amount to half the other."

"Our Australian cultivation was of course wheat, wheat, wheat, which was
to be called the pioneer crop, grown with the least cost of labor of any
crop, especially in a new country. And it was held that it was far
cheaper for England to import food to supply her manufacturing
population, and to pay for this by export of manufactured goods than to
grow it on her own limited soil."

"But when the outside world would have none of her exports, what then? We
had to do the best we could with our own soil."

"And seeing the crops you grow, the best is certainly pretty
satisfactory."

"Why the dependence on foreign food paralysed all legitimate efforts at
the development of agriculture. Land in the hands of terrified and
indebted proprietors, who saw their rents decrease and the burdens on the
land in no way decrease, could never be done justice to. English capital
would go to the ends of the world buying gold mines or silver claims or
lending to insolvent States--anywhere rather than on the soil of England.
Emigration took the pick of our young men and left us with the feeble and
the feckless, with women who competed with men and each other at the
worst-paid and least-healthy of employments, with lunatics and criminals
and paupers draining the life-blood out of the country. The England you
knew did not become the mother of nations without many bitter pangs that
threatened to be death-throes."

"What a Protectionist you are! I was brought up a Free Trader," I said,
amazed at Mr. Oliphant's deprecation of what had been the pride and boast
of my own day.

"It was a great step in evolution. Much was taught by Adam Smith and his
followers even more valuable than Free Trade. They helped us to get at
the roots of things."

I was puzzled, but I could not but confess that whatever might have been
the cause, the result in quantity of crop as well as in the general
well-being of the laborers was very satisfactory. The careless
cultivation of Australia with which I was most familiar, of course was
nowhere as compared to this, but even the best which I had seen in
England and East Lothian halted far behind, especially in the variety of
produce. Was this indeed the English agricultural laborer, with his slow
bovine glance exchanged for a look of keen intelligence, who directed the
reaping machine or disposed of the sheaves? Was this old man of seventy
still able to tend cattle and feed the horses, his joints now unracked by
rheumatism, hale and upright, with the winter apple complexion on his
cheeks, and either his own teeth or those supplied by art, fair and even
in his head? When I sat down by the side of Mr. George Oliphant at the
mid-day meal with one half of his laborers I felt the social revolution
more strongly than ever. They were in their working clothes, with thick
boots, and a trifle dusty from the harvest-field, but a finer lot of men
and women I never saw, and their manners, though not quite as good as
those of the Owen Home, were courteous yet independent. I sat beside on
the other hand the oldest inhabitant, who would have been a toothless,
bed-ridden, old crone, but who now with a snow-white cap on her head, and
a complete set of teeth inside of it, talked to me as a stranger from
Australia rather condescendingly, on account of her great age, putting me
just a little in mind of my own mother.

These laborers had no longer cold, damp hovels to live in, and
insufficient food, and clothing not fitted to protect them from the
changes of weather. The food was as good as at the Owen Home. Not only
was there a substantial advance in diet from the agricultural laborer of
England, but the American farmer and Australian selector had not as good
or as varied a diet, and nothing like the comfort in eating it which
these co-operative agriculturalists enjoyed. The service was all done by
members of the home and exclusively by women. This was an outlet for a
large contingent, and the dairy and poultry-yard took others. In winter,
when there was little or no field work, though by organisation almost all
the men and boys were constantly employed, the women took to their
by-trades. One woman with a knitting machine knitted the stockings and
socks for the community, and another the guernseys worn by the men. All
the underclothes, all the tailoring, and all the dressmaking of the
little community for the year were made in the winter, and all the house
repairs and supplies of furniture needed. Baskets were made of osiers
grown on the farm, and all the twine and rope needed for the
establishment were made in the winter months. The flax and hemp occupied
some, but the beet was sold in bulk to the sugar factories.

The home-brewed beer was excellent, light, and deliciously fresh, made of
malt and hops grown on the farm. There was also cider for those who
preferred it. I found fewer teetotallers at the Ossulton Home than at the
Owen Home, but that was perhaps because it was harvest time. The cookery
was not quite so delicate, but it was exceedingly good.

What a contrast from the laborer of the past, subsisting on day's wages,
with no look-out for old age but the work-house, touching his hat humbly
to every well-dressed person he met and eager to open a gate or a
carriage-door in hopes of a stray penny or sixpence from the gentlefolks.

Every man and woman here had a share--a small one certainly--in the farm.
They felt it to be their own. They handled the costly machines with an
owner's pride and intelligent care. They watched that there should be no
waste to take from their gains. The fruit trees were their own--no boy
robbed them; the animals were their own--it was everybody's interest to
be kind to them; every tool and implement they used was their own--it
must be taken care of and repaired on the first sign of needing it.

"I see a great deal of vegetable and fruit farming besides what you need
for your own consumption," said I to Mr. George Oliphant. If all the
homes are as well supplied as the Owen Home I cannot see where your
market can be."

"Homes in towns and cities cannot obtain so much ground as in the
suburbs. We send our produce by railway to London."

The manager of the farm could scarcely understand my desire for
statistics of the produce and the cost of cultivation of Ossulton. I
could gather that of the old crops the produce per acre was about 20 per
cent. larger than in the individual capitalist farming days, and that the
value of the minor products, which had been virtually neglected, was
about one-eighth of the whole, so there was an addition of 30 to 40 per
cent. to the produce, and on Ossulton an addition of 300 acres which was
waste land before. As for cost of cultivation, the cost for machinery was
much greater, and that for labor somewhat more than before, but as each
of the hands had capital in the concern he drew out first his wages, next
interest calculated at 2½ per cent. on the capital, and lastly his share
in the profits.

The capital in the first place had been found by the workers foregoing
part of the ordinary wages, partly by the profits on co-operative
consumption.

I asked if the two Ossulton homes were proprietary like the Owen, and was
told that they were partly so. Some owned their standing in it, and some
paid rent, but of the latter the purchase money was gradually
extinguished by paying more rent than sufficed to pay interest on the
outlay and repairs.

The Home was not so beautiful as the Owen, and not so full of decorations
and old fashioned relics of the past, but it was roomy and comfortable.
It was on the whole more cheaply conducted, and the land on which it
stood was of course only taken at its value for agriculture, whereas the
Hampstead land was costly. But even that was bought, and the Associated
Home built and furnished with help such as I have mentioned, at a cost of
£10,000, which made £500 the price of a permanent family home. This with
interest so low as it was in England at the time I visited it, made a
very cheap home even to rent, particularly considering what it included.
The Ossulton Homes cost about £400 for each family, and as the families
averaged three or four adult workers, the rent was no heavy strain on
their earnings.

I had seen whole streets in London, in which the rent of a single room
was 5s. a-week, and in which many working families could not afford more.

How many times did I wish that I could have had more than a week in the
future. I had to leave my agricultural home when dinner ended, and take
the train for a manufacturing town a little further from London where Mr.
Edward Carmichael lived. I found the cotton factory in the middle of the
second shift. Were these the modern representatives of the girls I had
seen in 1866, with unkempt hair and a shawl over their heads, and soiled
and untidy gowns, who, with loud laugh or vacant smile, hurried to and
from their long day's work at the mill,--these bright intelligent girls,
or rather married women, for most of them wore wedding rings, who stood
over their looms or watched the bobbins with so much interest in their
work? And had they really an interest--a pecuniary interest I mean--in
the thread as it was spun, and the web as it was woven? All the hands in
the mill, the manager told me (with some surprise at the question even
from a benighted person from the Antipodes) had this interest in the
profits, larger or smaller as the amount of capital was large or small
which invested, but absolutely irrefragable in respect of the work done.
The capital was sometimes put in by the parents, but more generally
accumulated by the younger members by taking what we were used to call
'subsist' wages for several years.

"But what if you make losses instead of profits, the hands must take
their share of them too?"

"Certainly, if we make losses, they must, but we have never made any
yet."

"The market is so certain," said my friend Mr. Oliphant, "And the prices
fixed rather by custom than by competition. This mill is exclusively for
home consumption. The export trade, which is still large, is carried on
chiefly from Manchester and the Lancashire mills. I do not know that
Edward can answer all your questions, but I think I am correct when I say
that this mill worked by three thousand operatives in three shifts daily,
has an output equal to that of an old mill with two thousand five hundred
operatives for an ordinary day. The machinery costs a good deal less than
it did; the interest on capital is lower; the market is steady, and----"

"People pay more for the calico and muslin," I interrupted.

"I do not think the consumer pays any more. Recollect that all the
profits and the risks of the middlemen are saved. I believe the commodity
is quite as cheap one year with another, and you see the condition of the
workpeople."

"It is as good as Mr. Daniel Pidgeon's account of the New England factory
hands--better than the Lowell girls had; they had far longer hours, and I
am sure, plainer fare."

"Plain living and high thinking were classed together sometimes." said
Mr. Oliphant.

"But I see a very large proportion of women and girls here," I said. "Is
this what some New England writer called a she-town, where the men had to
live on the labor of their wives, and sisters, and daughters, or to
emigrate elsewhere?"

"The men are employed partly in the iron and metal works of this town."

"You have no young children in the mill?"

"No, we never take any hands under fourteen, when their elementary
education is finished."

"And what do your people do with the rest of their time if they only work
six hours for you?" I asked Mr. Carmichael. That question was always on
my lips.

"Well, I suppose they use it for living," said he, with a slight
elevation of his eyebrows.

I recollected the answer made by a large cotton manufacturer, early in my
own century, when a foreign visitor asked him "If these wretched
dwellings, in Manchester, was where his workpeople lived?" "No," said he,
"they only sleep there, they live in my mill." I did not quote it aloud,
lest I should make Mr. Carmichael still more surprised. He went on to
say:

"They use their leisure, as we all do, for their own personal pleasure,
and for the general beautifying of life. Every one who has a hobby
cultivates it. We have had mechanical inventions and appliances from one,
economy in lighting from another, hints on ventilation from a third. That
fair-haired girl you see at your left, draws and paints very well, the
dark-eyed one you noticed first, writes poetry. The entertainments they
get up in their homes take a good deal of study and preparation; and, of
course, they are all musical, whatever they are not. Oh! there is no
difficulty in getting rid of eighteen hours a day, with meals, sleep,
recreation, and self-improvement--an intelligent pursuit of happiness is
the object of life; you cannot dispute that in Adelaide, or elsewhere."

"I do not think I ever heard it stated so boldly. Happiness should come
indirectly. I have always been exhorted to a diligent pursuit of virtue.
Happiness may, or may not, accompany it, but the virtue was
indispensable."

"But virtue requires you to seek and to labor for the happiness of
others." said Edward Carmichael. "Is it not better for them to seek it
for themselves, they know better what they want. Happiness depends more
on ourselves than on any one else certainly. The intelligent pursuit of
happiness on the part of each individual is, of course, limited by the
intelligent pursuit of happiness by all those around him, with whom he
comes in contact, both for business and pleasure."

"Then this direct pursuit of happiness does not lead to selfishness?"

"I don't think so; for if we encroach on the rights, or hurt the feelings
of other people, they soon let us know, and all outsiders will back them
up. This is what makes it possible to keep order among so many workers as
I can do. Every one knows the rules, and every one is interested in
seeing that they are obeyed."

"Now," said Mr. Oliphant, as we departed, "you should see a large
co-operative distribution store."

"I have seen such things, and read about them a great deal. The Civil
Service and the Army and Navy stores were quite great establishments."

"Oh! these were cheap-selling stores, not saving stores, like those
established by the Rochdale pioneers, and copied all over the North of
England. Even these were not true to their original traditions. I shall
take you to one which the Owen Home deals at--proprietary stores, where
all those who buy and all those who sell have a vested interest."

I was taken to this great Emporium, and noted how little was expended for
show either in the building or the get-up of the goods. All goods were
bought first-hand at the lowest remunerative prices. There were no
show-cases, no useless decorations, no fancy boxes with colored pictures,
of more or less merit, to make the contents attractive. I priced several
articles, and while I noted that many necessary and useful things were
cheaper, a great many of the minor conveniences and little luxuries of
life were dearer. I did not regret to see that lucifer matches--for which
there was now a limited demand--were much more expensive than they were,
so that they would not be so wastefully and recklessly used. It was the
endeavor of the London manufacturers to compete with the cheap production
of Sweden that brought down the price, while the miserable match-box
makers lived in rags and dirt in London slums and the unhealthy fumes
shortened the lives of the matchmakers themselves.

There must have been great displacement of industry everywhere. The girls
who earned a living by making fancy boxes, and by drawing and designing
pictures for them, had no successors now-a-days. Christmas and birthday
cards, too, had gone out. I understood that everything was to be had at
the stores, from a needle to an anchor, from a dancing shoe to a ton of
coals, but when I asked for birthday cards, the shopman stared at me.

I was tired and hungry, but happy, when I reached the Owen Home, with Mr.
Oliphant, in time for the evening meal.

I spent an hour in the music room, and found that Wagner's was not really
the music of the future, for no one seemed to have heard of him. Handel,
Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelsohn (sic) were still known and loved. I
felt at first as if the music of the _post nati_ was far from me and my
sympathies, but gradually it won upon me. A subtle sense, now of
excitement, now of sorrow, now of repose, now of joy, crept over me. The
part-singing was perfect, for the voices had practised together all their
lives. There were at least four quite new musical instruments, but the
pride of the Home was one matchless old Straduarius (sic), thrown into
the common property, in 1900, by a musical member. Yes, whatever might be
the case with other arts, music had certainly advanced.

After an hour's music I quitted the room rather reluctantly to go with
Mrs. Carmichael into the art room where I saw people of all ages, and of
both sexes, but mostly younger members, drawing from models and modelling
in clay, while reading aloud went on.

The book read related to their studies and pursuits, for it was a History
of Art, but the period had got beyond my day, and it was difficult for me
to follow it, but I saw great fidelity and rapidity of execution in the
hands that practised art in the Owen Home. I heard of sketching parties
planned for Saturday afternoon, which--even with the short hours of
labor--appeared to be somewhat of a half-holiday.

I next went into the card-room, and played with a Mr. Barton,--who had
travelled in the interior of Africa, and who was very interesting, (but I
cannot write half of what I saw,)--with Mrs. Oliphant and a great friend
of hers, a Mr. Robert Somerville, at a modification of whist, in which I
needed some instruction, but showed myself fairly apt.

I then went to my own room and wrote down what I could recollect of this
day, which appeared only less wonderful than the preceding one. I was
getting used to my century--that was all.




CHAPTER IV



WEDNESDAY


_Childhood and Education_


My programme for Wednesday was to observe and study the development and
training of children in the nursery, in the home, in the school, in the
playground, and in such apprenticeship to industrial life as was required
in the society of the future. In this Mrs. Oliphant was my guide for the
earlier part of the day.

When associated homes were first started, the idea that each home should
contain school-rooms and have teachers was held in great favor, but the
difficulty of grading the limited number of all ages made this too costly
for anything but elementary or early education. The State provided free
schools with trained teachers, but did not take children under eight
years old. I objected to this that it must be impossible for all people
everywhere to live in associated homes. In remote districts there must be
solitary shepherds, herdsmen and fishermen, able to earn a livelihood,
but unable to combine with others. I was told that in cases where I
should have thought it quite impossible, two, three or four families
joined in housekeeping and divided the duties amongst them. Economy and
comfort led to this organisation. Even where there were solitary
families, the parents had all received sufficient education to teach
their children what was necessary to fit them for the public schools.

In the school-rooms belonging to each home the children of the associated
families received instruction in reading, writing and simple calculation,
and above all in knowledge of things as distinguished from knowledge of
words. The nursery teaching was thoroughly natural and delightful in the
manner in which each lesson in knowledge and in skill was felt to be
learned as much by the learner's own intellectual or artistic effort as
by the teacher's guidance. I could see how early the lesson of bearing
and forbearing, of respect for the rights of others, was inculcated
without needing any severe punishment or risking any nervous shock to the
delicate organisation of a young infant or little child.

In the nursery stood a baby prison-house. It was a good sized circular
basket, weighted so that it could not be overturned, and softly lined and
cushioned. A baby creeps to some forbidden place, inconvenient to others
and dangerous to himself. He is gently removed. He creeps there again and
again. The nurse lifts him quietly and gently, places him in the basket
and gives him toys. There he remains till the impulse to disobey has worn
itself out; the attraction has been forgotten. The child of two, flings
his ball in baby's face, and though conscious of the wrong-doing,
persists in the amusement. He is firmly placed in the basket, where he
lies down to kick or scream till he is tired or contrite. When these
children pass out of the nursery their nerves are healthy and strong.
They know no craven fear, for gentle kindness has formed the moral
atmosphere they have breathed. They are trained to docility and prompt
obedience, and understand perfectly the simple principle that if they
abuse liberty, their liberty will be abridged. They are sensitive in a
high degree to affection, for love has surrounded them, and from the very
dawn of consciousness formed the one stimulus to painful effort, and to
successful effort the natural and abundant reward.

"From our very birth, you see," said Mrs. Oliphant, "we are hemmed in by
authority which, though it does not repress spontaneous action, checks
all encroachments on the rights of others. There are very few forbidden
things in this nursery, nothing too fine to be touched, and very early
children are given things to play with that they exercise their activity
in."

"Like what we had in the Kindergarten system," said I.

"Yes, modified and amplified. The very first lesson in morals they learn
is kindness to animals. It is surprising how much a sympathetic mother or
nurse can inspire, but some masterful children have their longest
experience of our basket prison and similar punishments to check their
disposition to play too roughly or cruelly with the kitten, or to take
off the wings of flies."

"With so many children grouped together in a common nursery, I should
fear that personal rights of property would be rather hard to understand
and enforce."

"We do not live in such a community as this. As we have our own
apartments, and our own clothes and furniture, so the children in this
common nursery have their own property, even though some out-grown toys
descend. Some things are no doubt for common use, and children have their
turn, but most of the toys, such as dolls and balls, and bats and tops,
are private property which the other children may borrow with consent of
the owner, but must not touch without it. Of course you see how important
it is that this lesson should be taught early. All the advantages of
Associated Homes, and of the Co-operative system generally, can only be
enjoyed by keeping up constant respect for each other's rights and
feelings. And this lesson is continuously taught, not only in the nursery
and the home, but in the school, on the playground, and in the workshop
and factory"

"My experience was that there was one discipline for the school, another
for the home, and another for the playground, but all too much on the
basis that nothing succeeds like success, the race to the swift, and the
battle to the strong. The church was weak as against this teaching. Can
you possibly equalise human conditions when human beings are so unequal?"

"We can smooth away all artificial causes of disparity. We can make the
race one in which all can win something, and that which is won, not taken
from the losers. We can give a new reading to that hard old text, that
from him who hath not, shall be taken away that which he hath. That is,
we deprive of liberty our moral failures. The power of doing mischief,
where the nature is so depraved as to be irreclaimable, must be taken
away."

I watched the two nurses in charge of about thirty children under
fourteen; half of them went to the State school. This looks a small
proportion of children for twenty families, and for some children of
attendants besides, some of whom included, like Mrs. Carmichael's three
generations, but in her case there were no young children at all, and
this was the case with several others; and no family is allowed to exceed
three children. One of the nurses was the teacher of the younger
children. There were only two babies in the Owen Home, and the elder
children seemed to be very fond of them.

I have seen Kindergarten teaching, but this was more varied and on the
whole more useful. The use of the hands was taught before the little ones
learned to read, but the education of the eye and of the ear, was earlier
still. In the walks which the children took in the garden, and in the
nearest park, they were taught to look out for beautiful things, to watch
the plants grow, and the flowers expand, to note the changes in the sky,
and the ripples in the lake, to be observant of the ways of the dumb
animals, to learn what these liked, and if possible to please them, to
help each other, and to trust each other. Fear, the mother of falsehood,
was absent from their training, but the playful sallies of a child's
imagination were not repressed. The perfect justice and fairness, with
which the children were treated, gave little occasion for jealousy and
envy; the education of the feelings was carried on constantly, directly,
but far more indirectly.

I saw now clearly, how much the militant spirit had penetrated society.
Even in my own day, when we professed to be a peace-loving Christian
nation, and also an industrial community, it had lived in trade in its
fierce competition--it had lived in sport, in the slaying of innocent
creatures for pleasure, and in the gambling and betting upon every kind
of contest of strength and skill in men or animals; it had lived in
school life through the prize system and competitive examinations, and
had been feebly repressed by the best home influences, and the highest
religious ideals.

In this society made up of equals, two children belonging to Mr. and Mrs.
Cox, who were the resident attendants bound to sleep on the place, were,
with the children of the members of the home, on exactly the same
footing, as well as four young children belonging to other employés, who
were at the Owen Home during the day, but went to other homes with their
parents at night. The whole force of public opinion, which is really the
collective conscience, and has varied according to the degree of
civilization the community has arrived at, was brought to bear on
children and young people with an even and uniform pressure. It was held
that not to be a productive laborer in one form or another was a
disgrace, instead of, as in my own childhood, that respectability,
gentility, or whatever other word might be used to distinguish the status
of the better classes, demanded our being absolved from all manual labor.
Sensible as my mother was, sensible as I thought myself, the society of
the leisured and educated classes was so much pleasanter than that of the
toilers who produced the wealth and comfort that others lived in, that,
insensibly, we looked down on the latter, or rather we expected them to
look up to us. There was much kindly feeling towards them, and a great
desire to better their condition, but not that _respect humain_ that
permeated all society a hundred years after my day. Their betters were to
teach them, to help them, and in various ways to patronise the lower
orders, and, no doubt, that was an important transition stage from the
earlier and harsher--to "exploit" them as the feudal born did his serfs,
the planter his slaves, the mill-owner his hands, for his own convenience
and profit only. But the patronage was unluckily often full of suspicion
on one side, and tempted to falsehood, exaggeration, and dissimulation,
if not hypocrisy, on the other. How often have I in despair thought that
charity was the most difficult of the virtues to practice, and the most
dangerous of virtues to society. That it needed more of the wisdom of the
serpent than of the harmlessness of the dove, for unwise charity often
proves the most insidious kind of cruelty. What we held as the playful
sketch by Praed of the kindly cynic Quince,

Who held a maxim, that the poor
Were always able, never willing;
And so the beggar at his door
Had first abuse, and then a shilling.
Asylums, hospitals, and schools,
He swore, were only meant to cozen;
All who subscribed to them were fools,
And he subscribed to half a dozen

was foreign to all the feelings and principles of the twentieth century.
The poor man, i.e. the working man, would be as much insulted by the
shilling as by the abuse, and would condone no abuse for any amount of
money. The asylums, hospitals and schools, which existed still, were
supported by the community with even and not fitful "liberality", instead
of being a heavy burden on the benevolent portion of the public. A
Scrooge, if any such existed, could not now excuse himself from payment
of the general burden by saying that he paid compulsorily to maintain the
work-house, for that institution no longer existed.

From the nursery lessons I went on to the State school, at which children
attended from the age of eight till the age of 14. Here all classes are
mingled even more than in the homes, where affinities generally made
people of hereditary culture join in housekeeping, especially at the date
when most of the associated homes were founded. In 1900 there were much
greater differences between the professional classes and the manual
workers than in 1987. In the schools, the most perfect equality
prevailed; boys and girls were taught together, which I had always
approved of, as it makes them quicker and brighter and more courteous.
The literary education seemed to me to be less extensive than in our
better schools, but the education in science was much more thorough, and
both boys and girls learned the use of their hands; so that a young
person of 14 was not as raw a hand for industrial life as the child of 13
out of board schools, nor had he or she the same objection to manual
labor which our present bright scholars show. The great proportion went
at once to work, but in the abundant leisure there was plenty of
opportunity for continuing education, and there was help offered on every
hand in the pursuit of knowledge. A taste for reading was very general,
but it was not universal. I could not, however, fancy lads and girls
leaving the teaching of the nursery and of the National school without a
taste for something more than amusement.

School hours were not over long, and school duties were not made irksome
and anxious by the constant effort to turn out show pupils on the one
side, and on the other to impart the required minimum of instruction to
reluctant and recalcitrant children. School holidays were few and short
compared to those of our time, when the hard-working teachers and pupils
needed long holidays. The lazy and indifferent abuse them, and especially
in the case of boarding schools the idleness and license of long holidays
often made parents dread them. Boarding schools were now altogether
exploded, and the continuity of instruction and discipline was not rudely
broken several times in the year. There was little harshnesss in school
management, and children were expected to occupy themselves, and not make
themselves an infliction during the short holiday time, in the twentieth
century. When pupils did wrong, the teachers assumed that it arose from
ignorance of what was right or from weakness of self-control, and every
encouragement was given that might strengthen the conscience and rightly
direct the will. The idea of breaking a child's will, such as good
Susannah Wesley and thousands of other parents thought the first duty
towards it, was absolutely repugnant to parents, nurses, teachers, and
preachers now-a-days. The will is the character, the very ego of each
individual; it can be influenced by love and by reason, but it must be
held sacred from violence and arbitrary power. In the school playground,
I noticed that the pupils themselves elected their monitors and prefects,
who kept order. The teacher was the last resort, but was seldom called
in. As the National school had no infant teaching or elementary teaching,
the requirements were high and not wasted. I did not see the Continuation
schools for myself, but these were so largely carried on during leisure
hours by voluntary efforts on the part of teachers and taught, that they
did not cost the State much. There were a few advanced schools where
parents paid for special training. Through one of these Florrie Oliphant
had passed, and she was now going on with her studies at the University
where she had met with her fate in the person of Fred Steele.

She was qualifying herself for teaching in the National schools--perhaps
she was ambitious of rising to higher walks, but that would be attained
by private study. Her lover was to be an engineer, and had to go through
a good deal of hard practical work as well as the University training. I
went to the London University, which was no longer an examining body
merely, but a teaching body as well, and saw the mixed classes of youths
and maidens, or what would have been maidens in our time. But I learned
that Florrie's case was not exceptional, but that many marriages took
place in student life--perhaps, on the whole, a better arena for
matrimonial choice than the ball room.

At the university I observed that though the masters and mistressses, the
professors and lecturers, male and female, were supreme in all that
regarded instruction, they resigned authority to the young people
themselves, not singly, but in their corporate or collective capacity to
regulate conduct and to discipline the turbulent elements within their
circle. The students elected conducted committees from their number, and
these committees were generally warmly supported. If at any time they
were felt to be faulty, over-harsh or over-lax, next year's election made
a change in the _personnel_, which, besides, changed as the students left
the university and entered the world. Youthful public opinion in both
school and university was enlisted and exercised for the protection of
the weak and the maintenance of good order. The youthful generation thus
learned practically the science of sociology before they took their
active part as adults in the business of the world.

The prizes at school, like the prizes of life, used to be won from
defeated and mortified competitors. Over and over again I have seen boys,
and girls too (though not quite so markedly in their case) work for
prizes at school, carry them off, and then forget all the knowledge which
such prizes had been held to be the only means of making them acquire. In
the schools and universities which were now under my eye, the love of
knowledge, the desire for skill, the delight in observation, furnished a
motive power which surprised me. The prayer of the intellect--which is
attention--was answered by the highest of intellectual pleasures--the
conquest of a difficulty. Every new acquisition of knowledge was welded
into previous knowledge and linked with it so that it never could be
forgotten. Combined with this was the real liking that subsisted between
teachers and pupils, leading to the mental effort which the system of
punishments and prizes only succeeded in stimulating in a few who might
have made it without. Sir Walter Scott says:--

You call this education, do you not?
Why, 'tis the forced march of a herd of bullocks
Before a shouting drover. The glad van
Move on at ease, and pause a while to snatch
A passing morsel from the scanty sward!
While all the oaths, blows, imprecations,
Fall on the head of the unlucky laggards
That cripple in the rear.

I saw that children were much dearer to their parents when there were
fewer of them. They were not felt as the burden and anxiety that they
were in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Parents, not
overworked or over anxious, could give and did give a great part of their
leisure to their children, but neither father nor mother lived altogether
in the nursery. Mrs. Oliphant said that while her children were young she
undertook less professional work, and shut off her outside interests in a
great measure, and that the happiest hours of her life had been spent
with the little ones and her husband in a family life as perfect as could
be enjoyed at any time. The grandfather and grandmother often joined them
and had perfect liberty to have the children's society for certain hours
of the day in their own apartments, but only when they wished it.

"I think," said she, "that the walks we had with the little ones were as
helpful to them as any of their school lessons. You know what a gardener
and florist Mr. Oliphant is. My turn is for animated nature, so the
children learned from us much about plants and animals."

"Parents now-a-days seem never to ask the anxious question: What shall we
do with our boys? What shall we do with our girls?" I said.

"Why should we?" said Mrs. Oliphant calmly. "The boys will fill their
fathers' places, the girls lead the same life as their mothers--that is,
with reasonable allowance for difference of temperament and abilities.
Florrie prefers teaching to medicine--considers medicine is a profession
that is on the decline, so I do not object. My son, who is travelling, is
picking up information and ideas which will make him useful on the staff
of the _Daily News_--and it is his wish to be a journalist. His elder
brother had not any taste for that line of life."

"Of course," said I, "the smallness of your families is the cause of your
ease in the present and your ease for the future. When a man saw four
sons growing up to compete with him in industrial pursuits, lowering the
wages beyond what would maintain a family, so that even married women had
to leave young children to eke out the family income, things were very
different. I have heard a woman, not unmotherly, but schooled by such
hard facts, say, 'I have a long family, but, thank God, the church-yard
has stood my friend. I had only six that lived to be doing for
themselves.'"

"We like to keep all our children alive," said Mrs. Oliphant.

"Your young people are, I hope as eager in their play as in their
studies," I said.

"I think they are. It is curious that the only thing that competition
enters much into is athletic sports. It is still a pride and triumph to
run faster and farther, to jump higher, to wheel faster than our
compeers, and to win games and matches in bodies and clubs."

"I see your young people are very well and evenly developed. The race,
generally, seems taller and heavier since I saw the world."

"Yes, it is. Statistics prove this, not only from the dying-out of the
old, ill-fed, hereditary poor, but even those who correspond to the
middle and upper classes, who, if you recollect, were so much larger than
their ancestors that mediaeval armour could not be worn by the average
Briton at the Eglinton tournament, are still larger and finer."

"But you have no field sports such as developed these classes in my day."

"Not connected with killing, certainly," said Mrs. Oliphant.

"The Briton, young or middle-aged, in want of a sensation used to say:
'Come, let us kill something,' and certainly, his own health was the
better for the enforced fatigue and hardship of many field sports,
hunting, coursing, deer-stalking and the like."

"Sports which are pursued on horseback are out of date now, as too costly
for our social condition, but every home by the sea or near the river can
maintain a boat--and boating is a most popular exercise. Cycling is quite
within our means and is universal. The old games of cricket and football
and tennis still exist with some modifications, and a dozen new games of
skill and speed have been invented for boys and girls, sometimes
separated, sometimes mixed.

"Saturday afternoon is the great recreation time. We have the cheapest
trains running, and towns folk go to the country and country folk to
towns to try each other's mettle." "Have you any horse races now? Is the
Derby day a thing of the past?"

"It is."

"The racecourses of England, of course, were the outcome of a wealthy and
luxurious people, and a great competition between them was a spectacle
even for poorer folks." "Say of a gambling people," said Mrs. Oliphant.

"Without the bets the interest in the noble animal would have been
limited to a few."

"But in America the popular races were trotting matches, which Dr. Holmes
used to call the 'sport for a democratic people'--a good trotter was
useful, a racehorse was simply ornamental."

"We are too democratic for even trotting matches."

"But people in my day betted on everything. The horse race was, certainly
the most organised of betting rings, with the bookmakers always _contra_,
and the gudgeon public always _pro_, but every contest lent itself to
gambling."

"Where the gambling spirit is, it finds outlets everywhere, no doubt,"
said Mrs. Oliphant.

"Is it dead now? That is impossible!"

"Well, it seems as if it was perishing of inanition. When society was
reconstructed, bookmakers and other vermin who preyed on the weakness and
the credulity of society were dealt with as rogues and vagabonds. Many of
them were driven into industrial life, many, indeed, had talents which,
rightly directed, were useful."

"The difficulty of getting a living by regular work, and the easiness of
getting a better living without it, tempted not only the vicious into
evil ways," said I.

"When you extirpate the professional gambler you do a great deal to
discourage the amateur. The security and permanence of our social system
work steadily against the gambling spirit."

"But, the Stock Exchange--the Corners--the Time Bargains!--all these were
arenas for gambling in a large way."

"You would not know the Stock Exchange again. Mr. Oliphant would tell you
better than I can how the direct method of buying and selling cuts off
not only the profits of the middlemen, but those of the speculator."

"No doubt your system of training and education succeeds splendidly with
the average, but what about your failures? While human nature is so mixed
and complex, there must be failures. You make short work with one class,
the congenital idiots, but these are few."

"Very few. Healthy parents rarely have idiot children, and teething
rarely causes brain diseases of permanent type."

"Then the old pauper class?"

"Has died out with the system which gave it birth. The adults were
incorrigible, but we struck at the roots and determined that no child
should be brought up a pauper."

"That work was begun in my day," said I. "I took an active part in it in
my corner of the world, and was surprised at the success of training
against heredity. But heredity left some failures with us, and must have
left more in such a country as England."

"They drifted into vice and crime here and there, but while we were
training the young we stopped the demoralising relief for the older. The
progress of Society made it more and more difficult for a criminal career
to be carried on--detection became more and more scientific and more
certain. The stupid criminal was easily caught and reformed, if possible,
by being taught an honest calling.

"The clever baffled us longer, but the pauper _sui generis_, who would
contentedly live in idleness on the earnings of other people was what
society could not and would not tolerate. He was made to work for the
_whole_ of his maintenance, if he sought shelter in the work-house, and
he preferred to do this at liberty."

"Then your criminals--?"

"When our children of all classes had received the careful training and
education which we consider best fitted to draw out the higher, and to
repress the lower nature, then, and not till then, do criminals stand out
convicted of moral insanity, and thus, too, not a first or a second lapse
into crime. A large proportion are saved to society by the probation
system, but the residue are dealt with like other dangerous lunatics,
fed, clothed and employed, even amused, but not allowed to prey on
society or to perpetuate the species. In direct contrast to mediaeval
celibacy, which prevented the parenthood of some of the sweetest and
wisest of the race, the mischievous and morally diseased are debarred
from it."

"You will then have a decreasing rate of crime."

"Yes, and of lunacy as well. So many of the predisposing causes of crimes
are removed in the rewards of honest industry being so certain. Lunacy is
not fed by intemperance, prostitution and gambling, or by the fierce
alternations of fortune. A man does not work at his desk till he drops in
order to add thousands to his already large capital, or to keep thousands
from being lost for want of the present vigilance which was required. The
struggling tradesman used to have as hard a fight to hold up his head
against fierce competition; the artisan or laborer was liable to weeks or
months of the year of no employment, the community losing what he might
have produced, and he, meanwhile, living or half starving on his savings,
which ought to have been kept for the time when he was past work, or on
charity. Life is now so much pleasanter and more secure that lunacy is
rare, and suicide is almost unheard of, except in cases of lunacy, when
it is never interfered with after hope of recovery is over."

"Many of the best institutions of my time seem to be extinguished as well
as the worst. Where are the orphan asylums?" said I.

"We do not need orphan asylums where families are so small and the
average life so long. When there chance to be real orphans, uncles and
aunts generally adopt them, or they are eagerly sought for by childless
parents. Sometimes they are laid hold of by the home in which they were
born, and belong to the twenty families collectively, who, if no
sufficient means have been left by parents, contribute for their
maintenance."

"Then the countless asylums for old people in almshouses and hospitals?"

"These are still less needed. It is the universal custom which has all
the force of law without its harshness to make savings for old age,
though not for children as able and as willing to work as their parents.
The reciprocal duties of children to parents are expressed by public
opinion as strongly as the primary duty of parents to children, so that
the failing health of old people receives personal attention, though
their own friends provide for their support."

"Are there no hospitals now?"

"Certainly, for some acute and severe illnesses and for accidents; we
have hospitals in towns and cities, but as you may see the Associated
Home has in it sufficient appliances for tending most of the sicknesses
to which humanity is now subject. I rarely have to send a case to the
hospital, but I consider my hospital practice of use to me."

"The list of diseases used to change in my time. Some old scourges were
stamped out, or in process of being so, but new maladies, chiefly, I
think, nervous, became more and more prevalent. In my day we heard first
of cholera in Europe, and diphtheria (if not the same as the old putrid
sore throat), was a new disease and a fatal one."

"On its preventive side I think medicine has made most progress of all,"
said Mrs. Oliphant. "Cholera and small-pox are extirpated as well as
scarletina (sic), measles and whooping-cough. And hygiene and sanitation
have put an end to typhoid and allied fevers."

"I am not surprised to hear you say that your profession is declining. It
has been too clever for its own interests."

"Instead of sickness being a costly and often unprepared-for contingency,
it is now reduced to a matter of sheer calculation and included in the
expenses of the associated home. The contribution for each family is so
small that it is felt no burden, while it takes off the pressure on the
suffering individual."

"This is an extension of the old Friendly Society or Lodge in which all
prudent artisans insured against sickness. Only if he was out of work,
and as they called it, _bad in the books_--in arrears with his weekly
shilling or sixpence, he lost all benefit from his past payments. Of
course a sick person loses his wages for his maintenance, and may fall
into arrears in his payment for board and maintenance in his home."

"The same spirit of collectiveness and mutual assurance runs through all
our social system. Very rarely does sickness come when there are not
sufficient savings to meet it, and if not the arrears are made up
afterwards. It is, of course, my interest as well as my pleasure to keep
down the rate of sickness in the houses I contract to attend. My modest
income is not swelled by protracted illness, nor by ministering to the
fancy of rich _malades imaginaires_."

Returning to the matter of education, I found the nation paid all the
cost of primary education out of national revenues. It also supported the
universities, but I was surprised to find that the continuation schools,
the link between the public schools and the university, were attended
mostly by people engaged in bread-winning occupations, and taught by
others similarly engaged. An intelligent community furnished enough of
recruits eager to learn and eager to teach. Science had made great
strides both in the hold it had taken on the general intelligence and in
the discoveries and applications of specialists.

I asked Mrs. Oliphant if education, given by the State, was free,
compulsory and secular.

"It was free, no fees were demanded of any one, it was compulsory without
the aid of law because public opinion expressed it. As to its being
secular, the education of the conscience and the feelings was so
continuously carried on that nothing seemed secular which concerned the
duties and the happiness of ourselves and our fellows. The lessons of the
school coincided with those of the home and of the church, but religious
or scriptural education was carried on by other agencies."

I asked my informant, "How do you inspect and prove the teaching which is
thus paid for by the nation? Is there not a risk of the uniform-teaching
system becoming, if it has not already become, a dull mechanical drill?"

"The national inspectors who are needed to keep well-paid employés up to
their duties require results but do not prescribe methods, so that the
modes of imparting knowledge and drawing out intelligence are various,
and this makes school-work more interesting. If you had seen the early
teaching at the Ossulton Home you would have found it different in many
points from that of the Owen Home, but the children leave these with the
beginning of your old three R's taught them, able to sing and to dance,
accustomed to drill, to obedience, order and good manners."

"I am much struck with the good manners everywhere," said I, "especially
those of the young to the old. I feel a little ashamed of myself because
I objected last week to joint housekeeping for the sake of economy,
because, though I might like the lady herself, her nephews and nieces
were objectionable to me, and some of her friends were, what is called,
bores. How do so many families live together without friction, and so
many generations of the same family, which is, perhaps, more difficult
still?"

"We had to make rules as to intrusion on privacy of strangers, and these
were found to be equally important for blood relations, and for relatives
connected by marriage."

"Then relationship in the twentieth century is not considered to confer
prescriptive rights over the time, tastes, and associates of those
connected with us?"

"Certainly not; but, within these limits the family bond is real and
affectionate. To read old books, one would believe the mother-in-law was
a Gorgon. You may see how much respectful consideration my husband pays
to my mother, and how she regards his opinions, and admires his
abilities."

We dined together at a restaurant in town, near the University, and thus
missed dinner at the Owen Home. When I returned I found Mrs. Carmichael
had found something among her possessions that she was sure would
interest me. It was an old copy of Children of Gibeon which had belonged
to her grand-mother, and had on the fly-leaf--

FLORENCE HENDERSON.
(From her Aunt),
EMILY BETHEL.

and the date of the birthday, which was the last of hers, I could see.

"Have you read it?" I asked eagerly.

"Yes, long ago. I thought it interesting, but so strange. I have been
glancing through it again to-day. The book has a special interest to us,
as the author took so large a part in the founding of the People's
Palace, and also, I think, had sound views on the population question."
Here my kinswoman showed a little confusion of ideas.

"With your Associated Homes you are not so much in need of the Palace,
which was such a desideratum when Besant wrote this book and _All Sorts
and Conditions of Men_--in which his impossible hero and heroine build a
Palace of delight in the East End."

"Oh, it served a good purpose, then, and continues to do so. In the
neighborhood of the Palace were the first Workmen's Associated Homes,
built much more cheaply than those you have seen, because they did not
need such large public rooms, or so many of them. This gave the artisan
and laboring class an introduction to the benefits of associated living.
You will still find that near such large public Palaces--as they are
called--the poorest of the people congregated, and in all large towns
there are still social and musical centres, as well as educational; for
in these are held the evening continuation schools, which form the main
link between the common school and the university. There are few of our
young people who do not try to carry their instruction further in their
leisure, even though they do not care to go to the university."

"But the Melindas, and Lizzies, and Lotties of to-day; what is their
condition?"

"If you can spare an hour, this afternoon, you can go with me to see them
in the flesh; I want to go to the co-operative needlewomen and
dressmakers, in the next street, to pay for the new dress I got for
Florrie's wedding. You will see rosy cheeks and bright eyes, and happy
marriages, instead of the semi-starvation and the terrible temptations of
the _régime_ of elevenpence half-penny, or what Mr. Besant calls 'the
minimum day's wage on which women could subsist.'"

"Do people not make their own clothes now?"

"Many prefer to do it; I always make my own underclothes, or part of
them; but I like to give out my dresses, and the dear friend whom we
expect home to night--whom Mr. Oliphant calls St. Bridget--makes my
bonnets and caps."

"Do your co-operative workers give hand or machine work?"

"Machine, of course, when the work is paid for; no one could afford to
give the value of hand work."

"I suppose then that the typical Irish hand-made night dress--with a
hundred tucks, and yards on yards of stitching and feather-stitching and
embroidery let in for two shillings and twopence (a clever girl, working
long hours, managing two weekly)--is a thing altogether of the past."

"Altogether exploded," said Mrs. Carmichael, laughing, "Our people don't
work long hours, and not for your four-and-fourpence a week. My
underclothes are all machine-made, and made to last; girls, in their
leisure often put special work in their own clothes, especially for a
trousseau, which is as often made after marriage as before it; but
Florrie has used her leisure otherwise, and her engagement has been very
short, so her father and mother gave her her clothes, which have been
made at the same place as my gown--which you see is very simple, as we
could not afford to pay for the machining and trimming of such a dress as
you wear, for you say your crape is expensive and perishable. It would
take four women two or three days to make it; mine, as you see it, can be
made by machine in equal to a day and a quarter of one woman's work."

When we reached the co-operative workrooms, I found that machinery had
taken more and more into its iron hands since my time, and what a
wonderful six hours' work could be turned out. At this establishment they
worked in two re-lays, one set beginning at seven and working till one,
the other beginning at one and working till seven. Melinda, Lizzie, and
Lottie, too, so long as her health permitted, worked from daylight till
nine or ten and then sallied forth into the lighted streets, where alone
they could see the life and stir of the world, could meet their friends
and their lovers--resist or yield to temptations which beset those who
have only the streets at night for their sole recreation ground. I could
see a Melinda in the girl with the firm jaw, the resolute eyes, and the
slightly disdainful carriage, sitting at a machine. "Was she married?"
"No! but about to be." "Could she tell me what she did with her leisure?"
"Oh yes! she made her own clothes, and those of her mother and
grandmother. She had no sister, but two brothers--one of them was an
enthusiastic naturalist, and she went excursions with him, and helped
with his collections. She also had a taste herself for physiology, and
attended the lectures on that subject at the People's Palace." There was
one like Lizzie, with lovely eyes and a yielding expression, but a
better-fed, better-clothed and better-taught Lizzie. She had married at
sixteen--which was too early, even for the twentieth century--a lad of
eighteen, and had not got on well with her husband; incompatibility of
temper, and general discordance of tastes led to a divorce--after
sufficient time given to consider the step--and she had married again an
older man, with whom she seemed very happy. Here, too, was a Lottie--at
least she had a pale face and a weak back, so that she could not work the
sewing machine, but she had great taste in designing new styles, and in
trimming; she lived in the same Home as the other two girls, in which she
had every comfort, and her day's work was not too much for her. The three
girls seemed to be good friends, but were not so absolutely dependent on
each other as in the times when they had to club together to pay the rent
for a single room, and sleep together in the same bed. Opportunities for
heroic self-sacrifice were no longer open to the exceptionally generous,
but opportunities of neighborly kindness, and sharing of thoughts and
ideas were still given.

I noticed that the trousseau which Florence Oliphant received from her
parents--though she was satisfied and delighted with it--compared very
poorly with what her ancestress, my Florrie, got in 1886. It was neither
so abundant nor so elaborate. Belle's fad for hand-made underlinen, her
love of the best article, her appreciation of the finest of embroidery
and of lace--as well as her general desire to eclipse the trousseau of a
certain Miss Jones Smith--had loaded Florrie's trunks and lightened her
father's pocket. I fear Belle would have looked on the modest belongings
of her descendant as the outfit of a housemaid--and not very smart at
that; not a scrap of real lace, but a pretty veil and bonnet of machine
lace. Such a thing as a bridal veil of fine Brussels lace, which cost
£500 two years' back, and the worker's eyesight, was relegated to the
Dark Ages. As for Mrs. Carmichael's simple grey dress, it was slightly
modified from her husband's original design, as years advanced. The cap
was St. Bridget's masterpiece, so that, as Florrie said, "Grandmother
would look so lovely at the wedding that nobody would look at herself,
but perhaps Fred, a little."




CHAPTER V



THURSDAY


_Marriage and the Relations of the Sexes_


This was the day fixed for the marriage of my very great grand-niece
Florence Oliphant to Frederick Steele, and I was glad to see that with
all the changes made by a century of revolution, most people, including
my own kindred, still looked on marriage as a religious ceremony, and
had it performed by a clergyman, or by what might be called a
clergywoman--for the clerical profession had opened its gates to women.
The officiating minister was the lady whom Mr. Oliphant called St.
Bridget, and a most impressive ceremony she made it. She knew both the
bridegroom and the bride well. Many marriages still took place in
Church, but this was performed in the house which had been that of the
bride's family for so many generations. Several friends and kinsfolk
were invited to whom I was introduced as a relative from Adelaide; there
was no need to let my extraordinary story run the gauntlet of more than
Mrs. Carmichael and the Oliphants, to whom I was therefore obliged to
keep close, lest my ignorance and absurd questions should betray me.
There were also a good many members of the Owen Home present by
invitation.

Although the ceremony was religious it was not indissoluble. The fervent
prayer for constancy, which closed the service, showed that this was a
thing which might or might not follow the vows, which were more like
aspirations than oaths. The early marriages, which were all but universal
in the society of the twentieth century, demanded a much less stringent
bond than either the Catholic or Protestant Church in our times would
permit. Young, unproved boys and girls became attached to each other,
desired to be companions for life, and afterwards found they had made a
mistake--as was the case with the pretty girl I called Lizzie, at the
Co-operative Dressmaking establishment. Marriage was considered to be a
matter which should be perfectly free for young people to engage in,
according to liking or even caprice.

The evils of checking early marriages had been felt to be too great, too
destructive to virtue, to health, and to happiness for any considerations
of prudence or ambition to stand in the way. Parents, indeed, warned
against excessively early unions, and public opinion (here, as in other
things, the collective conscience) discouraged marriages under the age of
nineteen for lads, and seventeen for girls. But though marriage, even
earlier, was free and quite legal, parenthood was never allowed till the
young people were in the full vigor of manhood and womanhood. Science has
put it into the power of the married people to regulate their families,
and it was considered disgraceful not only to have too many children, but
to bring into the world the progeny of the immature or the sickly. Until
the bride and bridegroom, whose marriage I witnessed, were able to
maintain themselves and to provide for children, they would remain
childless. The parents, on both sides, continued to maintain them, and to
carry their professional education to its conclusion; but they were
spared the responsibilities of a family.

Mr. Oliphant did not give the bride away, as in our time. The young
people gave themselves to each other. It was evidently looked upon as
their own affair; they did not actually promise and vow to love, honor,
and cherish each other, but only to try to do these things; the vow of
obedience was left out. I recollect, so well, Jeannie's Bethel saying to
me--it was with regard to her sister Florrie, who found it so hard to
obey her husband, when she saw his real character--"It is not the
obedience that is so hard, auntie; if Florrie could love and honor him,
it would be easy to obey; obedience is the least part of it!" I thought
it a very clever remark on Jeannie's part.

These early marriages entered into with faith in the future, but not
making too heavy a pull on the present, relieved society from the incubus
of wedding presents, which I have always thought a tax levied in inverse
proportion to need, for the richer the couple were, the handsomer the
gifts were bound to be. There was no wedding breakfast, though the guests
all partook of a meal with the rest of the families, and with the bride
and bridegroom, who, after it, got on to a tricycle and went down to the
seaside at a quiet place to spend the time till Monday, when they would
return to take up their quarters together in the Owen Home, and continue
their studies as if nothing had happened. They had both heard lectures
that morning, and chose this time, because Friday happened to be a light
day, and they thought they might have one holiday.

How much less expense and trouble and worry there seemed to be for all
parties concerned when marriage was the common natural event of one's
teens, and not, as with too many, "the dim far-off event" that never came
at all, or came late in life, after many hopes and disappointments.
Although interesting to the young people and to their affectionate
parents, a marriage was no longer a great or fashionable affair, with
lawyers drawing up settlements, milliners and dressmakers and needlewomen
making mountains of clothes, houses to buy or to rent, furniture to
choose, and cards and cake to be sent to the chosen circle of friends and
acquaintances, and presents to receive from the liberal or the
conventional. There was not now any chance of the celibacy that stared so
many single women in the face when there were a million in England who
could not be married unless Mormon ideas prevailed. Population had not
only been kept stationary, but the sexes had been equalised.

So long as there were no children born of a marriage, divorce was easily
obtained. A declaration by both parties that they sought release,
repeated after three months given for reconsideration, was sufficient.
After children were born, matters became more serious and difficult, this
required three declarations, extending over twelve months. The nearest
relatives on both sides were chosen as arbiters of the guardianship of
the child or children. When divorce was sought by one party and not by
the other, which was comparatively rare, the complainant was at a
disadvantage with regard to the children, and this was frequently a cause
of re-union, for the love of children was exceedingly strong, and it was
possible for either man or woman to bring up the small family. The
divorces were published, as I had seen, in the ordinary newspapers, after
the marriages, and one month after divorce the parties might marry again.
It was generally as easy for the woman to marry again as the man,
especially when the family of two was divided, one to each. When there
were three, though the odd child could not be halved, the parents shared
the cost of maintenance.

I was afraid to ask the proportion of divorces to marriages. It was
large, but not so large as I feared, and much larger in the youthful and
childless stages than afterwards.

"But you have many divorces," I said.

"It is not given to everyone to be constant," said Mrs. Oliphant, "even
public opinion, which discountenances many marriages and many divorces,
cannot control everyone. But constancy is on the whole a stronger
principle with the bulk of our race than the love of change, and all our
institutions foster it. For my own part I have a tolerably firm belief
that Florrie and Fred Steele will go on pulling together as happily as
her father and I have done, and as her grandmother did before us with the
dear old grandfather. Florrie is a good, true-hearted girl, and her
little ambitions are such as Fred will aid and not discourage. This is,
of course, as far as I can see; but if he were to change, if we were all
mistaken in his character, so that misery and not happiness were the
result of their union, then we have the resource of separation, and a
chance of better things for Florrie with another."

"Divorce is not disgraceful or discreditable now-a-days, then? The
proceedings in the Divorce Court used to be the most sickening of
reading."

"Ah, true!" said Mrs. Oliphant, "because it was only granted for one
cause, and that was difficult of proof, and in the search for evidence
much dirty linen was washed in public; but now, owing to the easiness of
procuring divorce, that cause is comparatively rare. Fidelity to the
marriage bond, while it lasts, seems to be a point of honor with people
who can sever it on reasonable grounds."

"I have often felt the need of relaxation of the strongest marriage vows
in especial cases, but yet this seems undue laxity. I see, too, great
dangers to the permanence of your early marriages, before young people
rightly know their own mind, in your living together in associated homes.
Florrie may see and become intimately acquainted with someone who pleases
her better than her husband; Fred might be captivated by another woman.
There appears no restful finality in your matrimonial bond."

"Does it really strike you in that way? We are used to the contingencies
through habit."

"Jealousy might be so easily awakened, and so hard to lull to sleep, or
do you consider jealousy one of the primitive passions that were
necessary for the evolution of the race from the community of wives and
husbands which made the social unit, the family, an impossibility? On
jealousy, I suppose, has been built monogamy, the one husband of one
wife, which, with a little latitude for change, is still your social
order."

"Jealousy, as it was felt long ago between husband and wife, has been
much modified and softened," said Mrs. Oliphant. "Did not the pictures of
savage jealousy and revenge in Shakespeare and the older dramatists, such
as are given in Othello and the Winter's Tale, shock even your
generation?"

"Yes," I said, "especially the younger among us."

"And even in your day, it was possible for a husband warmly attached to
his wife to enjoy friendship of a very tender kind with other women--her
friends and companions, or his own old friends--and for a married woman
keenly to enjoy the society and the deference of an intelligent and
agreeable man not her husband, without either party taking umbrage at
it?"

"That depends so much on the disposition," I said. "Some men and some
women would be jealous of shadows. Even where the coarser form of
jealousy is absent there always has been, and I thought there always
would be, a certain exclusiveness about married love, and a sense of the
paramount claim which husband and wife have over each other. The things
you speak of were pleasant, no doubt, but they had in them more or less
of danger."

"Yes, especially in an idle society, or in a society where the husband
was absorbed in business, and furnished the means for his wife to be
extravagant and luxurious as well as idle. Too engrossed with
money-making to spare time to be agreeable to her, or to keep his hold on
her heart by letting her share his cares, he might think he satisfied all
her claims, reasonable and unreasonable, with his cheque-book. In our
busy hives there is neither overwork for the many, or that plethora of
leisure for the wealthy, or the out-of-work periods for the poorer
classes, which led to the vice and crime of old society. Everyone works
and works with the whole heart for a large portion of the day, and this
gives us relish for the leisure which is allowed to everyone in the same
proportion."

"But there are many instances of change of affection in your twentieth
century marriages."

"I do not deny it, but on the whole we think happiness is promoted by
making the marriage tie reasonably elastic."

"All your arrangements seem to be brought to the test of happiness. The
old Benthamite principle, the greatest happiness of the greatest number,
seems to decide everything with you."

"Well," said Mrs. Oliphant calmly, "can you suggest any better test?"

"It would be despised by saints and ascetics."

"Hear St. Bridget on this subject. Saints despise their own happiness,
but not that of other people, and as for asceticism even she has given
that up. And as to St. Bridget herself, she is an instance in point about
the jealousy you think so dangerous. No man can love his wife more than
my husband loves me, but yet there are points in his spiritual nature
that are touched by our dear old maid as I cannot touch them. He delights
in her society. He quotes her sayings, he has taken her
advice--especially about the children--but I am not jealous. I have
professional relations and warm friendships with the other sex, and
especially with one old schoolfellow settled here in the Owen Home, but I
am sure it never occurred to Arthur to be jealous."

"I am not naturally jealous myself," said I, "I always thought that my
friends loved me as much as I deserved, and as much as I could make them
love me, but then there was no lover and no husband in my case, and I
have always been told that while human nature continued to be human
nature, jealousy must be the watchful guardian of love."

"Well, one reason of our feeling of security may be that we live so much
in public in our Associated Homes, and are so much in the habit of
seeking out our affinities openly, that intrigue has little, if any,
place in our lives. When a separation of married people is imminent there
is generally another preference on one side, rarely on both, but the
matter is openly and candidly handled."

"You think then that secrecy, intrigue, and the idea that there was the
excitement of wrong doing, led to our old divorce court suits, which I
confess were a scandal among a moral and civilised people. You may never
have heard of the Frenchman who had been in the habit of spending all his
spare time with a certain madame, a widow, charming and lively, and when
his own wife died and he thought of a successor, being recommended to
marry this fascinating lady, protesting that it was impossible, for in
that case where could he spend his evenings?"

"Here, if we spend our evenings with an affinity our husband or wife can
follow us and make one of the group. At least in the Home, where you
consider the element of danger is strongest."

"It certainly was in the countries where divorce was impossible that
marital relations were most unsatisfactory. The disgraceful
_menage-à-trois_ which was so common among the higher ranks in France,
could not have existed if the bond could have been broken. Just as I left
the world divorce was allowed by the State in France, though not by the
Church. There must have been license at first, I feel sure."

"Yes, there was, but we have settled down."

"But what say the churches, especially the Catholic Church, which, I
understand, still exists?"

"The churches have developed a marvellous faculty of adaptation, and by
so doing have prevented their own extinction. Even the Catholic Church
has been made to feel that the interests of humanity as interpreted by
common sense and experience are paramount. Of course it still claims
infallibility but it had shifted ground even in your day, and has shifted
much more since. The socialism which was a greater terror to her than
heresy and Protestantism, she has been obliged to accept, in order that
she may keep hold of her people. She has had to lose her temporalities
and work like other churches of the day, and as to marriage she would
lose all hold on society if she refused to marry divorced people."

"This is all so new to me that I need to take breath over it," said I. "I
acknowledge that our old marriage system had many failures, and that
holding parties to a bond of the most intimate personal relations after
all the love and honor had died out, was, in many cases, very cruel."

"It was not only cruel, it was degrading and demoralising," said Mrs.
Oliphant. "Those who love each other feel the bond to be final and rest
in it. Those who do not love each other are not compelled to drag a
chain. We have got used to our system, and find it works well in most
cases, while it has put an end, as nothing else could have done, to the
foulest spot in your old civilisation--mercenary love, and to the
one-sided arrangement by which a man could (as it was called) protect a
woman one day, and turn her adrift the next, with a stigma on her
character which prevented her from forming an honorable union, while he
might be sought by mothers for their innocent daughters."

"And you have really put an end to venal love and to temporary
_liaisons_?"

"Yes. Every woman can be married. She will not give herself for anything
less honorable. When love exists, human nature desires permanent union.
You know, Miss Bethel, it is the love that sanctifies the marriage rather
than the marriage that sanctifies the love."

"Yes; perhaps that is the right way to look on it. And, of course,
anything that could grapple successfully with what you rightly call the
plague spot of civilisation, may have some slight drawbacks, and yet be a
mighty boon to humanity."

"You cannot tell how much health has improved after about three
generations of early marriages. Another point that makes such youthful
unions easy and desirable is that there is no uncertain quantity in the
way of family to be provided for. I suppose you have seen families of
twelve and more?"

"Oh, yes. An ancestress of mine and, of course, of yours, had twenty-one
children. If she heard of any family smaller, she thought nothing of it;
if she heard of any larger, she did not believe it. My father used to
visit in his young days two of her children, who were his great
aunts--two out of a set of triplets, who, all three, lived till they were
eighteen, and the two survivors to a great age."

"Well, was there anything remarkable about them, except their belonging
to so large a family?" said Mrs. Oliphant rather cynically.

"Not that I know of. It was not the dominant strain in the blood of the
Bethels. But," continued I, "quoting from the last book I read (before
Scientific Meliorism, one of the Eminent Women series), Susannah Wesley
was the twenty-fifth child of her father (by his second wife, certainly),
and she bore to her husband--a poor clergyman in Lincolnshire--no less
than 19 children, of whom John, the founder of Methodism, was the
sixteenth, and Charles, the sweet singer of the connexion, was the
eighteenth. Under your _régime_ these great English revivalists would
never have been born, and England would have missed much. Sir Isaac
Newton, too, was so sickly when born that the Spartans would have given
him his quietus, and, I suppose, so should you; you object to delicate
children, I understand?"

"No; except when there is idiocy, we preserve, by all means in our power,
the most delicate children, and often find they have rare gifts. We
object to delicate adults becoming parents, but where life is, we try to
make the most and the best of it. My mother tells me you were interested
in Eveline Smith, whom you called Lottie. That girl cost me a great deal
of thought and care, but she has repaid it, for not only has she special
talent in the higher branch of her trade, but she has a wonderful voice
for singing."

"But the Wesleys?"

"I give up the Wesleys; but I certainly think that we have a greater
chance of capacity, and even genius, from members of small families all
in sound health and carefully brought up--not dragged up, as so many of
your large families were."

"I am not so sure of the genius," said I. "The average may be high, but
the exceptions may be less striking and less useful."

"I cannot, of course, be sure. To the great ones who led the van of
civilisation, and especially to those who might be called the forlorn
hope, through persecution, through dense stupidity, through
misrepresentation, we are fully sensible of our infinite obligations.
Life is so much easier now that there appears less to do, but the good
and wise are always doing something. I think the world is better since I
first knew it, and that is a cheerful thought."

"But, in marrying your daughter, you do not get her off your hands," said
I, recurring to the old subject.

"No, not for some years, even pecuniarily. We continue to maintain
Florence till she is fitted to take the position she aims at; and Fred's
parents do the same by him. I don't want to get my only girl off my
hands, by any means, and I was glad she chose the Owen Home instead of
Mrs. Steele's, at the Evergreen."

"But is there room at these homes for married people to settle down where
they please?"

"Florrie only moves from a small room to a larger one--exchanging with a
widow whose husband died lately, and who wished the small room. The homes
are fairly elastic. They could have managed at the Evergreen for all they
need for the present. You see, the young people cost us no more than they
did, and they are happier; they work more earnestly. You cannot think how
restful to the brain and to the nerves an early, happy marriage is."

"I suppose it is so; more than the long engagement which was the only
spur in my time, but which had its uncertainties, its jealousies, its
discouragements. Loving mothers have assured me that they objected to the
wearing nature of a long, or uncertain, engagement for their daughters;
prudent fathers considered it a clog on their sons, and, yet I have seen
instances in which it was like salvation to both parties."

"Fred and his wife, you see, need no costly furnishing. They take no
wedding trip. Florrie's _trousseau_ is made to last. We don't expect to
have much to buy for her for the next two years or more, so it comes to
the same thing, and the girl rejoices in her new clothes."

"It used to be thought very dangerous for young married people to take up
their abode in their parents' house, but I observe that it is very
frequent with you. Most families in the Owen Home seem to have three
generations--though, of course, there is not room for all of your
descendants."

"Sometimes people are bought out to make room, but, as a rule, we object
to selling our home. But, with a stationary population, we can
accommodate each other generally. Either the husband or the wife finds a
corner in a parent nest."

"How do you avoid the friction which was all but universal in joint
households among English and American people? The French managed it
better. Economy dictated the common homes; but I used to think they
agreed better because they lived more out of doors than the Anglo-Saxon,
and the proverbially small French family might also have helped."

"Possibly so; but I dare say the French people were more accommodating.
What did your contemporaries quarrel about when they attempted to live
together?"

"Housekeeping, very frequently. The older generation thought the younger
lavish and thoughtless; the younger thought the older prejudiced and
stingy."

"Well, the housekeeping is done for us, so that element of discord is
absent."

"They differed often as to the choice of society. Sometimes the older
generation were slaves to Mrs. Grundy (if you ever heard of that
potentate) and saw advantages in cultivating the acquaintance of rich or
titled, but dull and tiresome people, while the young folks liked those
who were more frivolous and amusing. On the other hand, the young used to
class as old fogies and bores many excellent, and sensible, and
intelligent old family friends and relatives. People of different ages
naturally chose different friends."

"Here we, as a rule, are most intimate with the inhabitants of our own
Home, though others are open to us, where we may go as guests and
visitors. Among a community which averages more than a hundred, there are
generally to be found those who suit each other, and as the young people
have been brought up together, and the older people have grown old
together, they are likely to form strong friendships in the home. We are
accustomed to choose the society we prefer, and to be civil and polite to
those we are more indifferent to. So this cause of friction is reduced in
proportions by our arrangements."

"Then, though the gentlemen might have agreed fairly well, only seeing
each other after business hours, the women who had to stay at home all
day, could rarely stand the strain."

"Well, our women have their work, generally out of doors, like men, which
makes this danger the less."

"The Germans used to have a proverb that a man could live happily with
his wife's mother (the _bête noir_ of English and American Satirists),
but that no woman could live amicably with her husband's mother, whom she
could never escape from, whose Argus eyes discovered all her
short-comings, and saw slights to herself, and neglects or injuries to
her son when none was intended; but the strain in your Associated Homes
must be much slighter. The mother-in-law can find congenial society with
people of her own age, and knit and gossip to her heart's content, and
leave her daughter-in-law to follow out her own life. But, I believe that
servants were another fruitful cause of quarrel as well as an unfailing
subject for gossip and tattle. You can surely still talk about your
attendants."

"Yes, but we cannot dismiss them at our own caprice; all complaints must
be made to the home committee, both by the inhabitants of the home and by
the attendants."

"And they cannot leave you in the lurch on the approach of the Christmas
holiday, or just on the eve of a dinner party, as I have seen over and
over again in Australia?"

"No, the arrangement holds good for a year and is generally renewed. Each
attendant has a right to certain holidays. We cannot possibly quarrel
about servants."

"But you may about children. Is no devoted mother convinced that her
darling gets less than his or her share of attention from the nurses? The
common nursery would, in my day, have been a common battle ground. Even
the most reasonable of women seemed to lose her balance where her
children were concerned."

"All I can say is that I suppose our mothers have become accustomed to
the system, and the devoted mothers have more of their children's society
than those who are more philosophical."

"I dare say the large numbers and the noisiness of the young Britons and
the young Americans, were hard on the old people when there was
joint-housekeeping, without extensive nursery arrangements."

"I dare say they were. Mr. Oliphant gave me to read, as a curiosity, an
old book he had picked up, called 'Helen's Babies.' Of course it was
satire, but it must have had some foundation. How intolerable the
American child of a century back must have been!"

"Perhaps one cause of friction with us was divided authority--the noise
of children was hard on the nerves and temper of old folks; they were apt
to be irritated but not firm, and the grandparents would concede what the
parents forbade. John Wesley said his mother--though the firmest and
wisest of Autocrats with her own large family whom she taught and trained
with Spartan rigor--spoiled her grandchildren."

"Probably she was worn out with her hard life, and was glad to be
indulgent when she had no responsibility. I cannot recollect of any
trouble in this way. Florrie and her elder brothers Jack and Everard,
were a great pleasure and resource to their grandmother, and to my father
while he lived."

"And you have lived without a quarrel, without a difference?"

"Not without a difference, but certainly without a quarrel."

"Do you hope to make room for your younger son, Everard, when he returns
from his travels and chooses a wife for himself, and goes, as you intend
him to do, into his father's office?"

"Everard is still on our books as an inmate, and we should like very much
to keep him, for Mr. Oliphant would like to have Everard always at his
side in his hobbies as well as in the office work, especially the
"History of Co-operation;" but, of course, it will depend upon what the
young lady likes."

"You have no idea of his keeping single. I suppose you have very few old
maids or bachelors now-a-days?"

"Very few indeed. I have a pretty large acquaintance, but I could count
the number of unmarried people over twenty-five years old on the fingers
of one hand. We are quite proud of Miss Somerville, 'St. Bridget' as my
husband calls her, because she is that exceptional person--an old maid.
She seems to belong to all of us in the Home, because she has not given
herself to any husband; not but that she has had many offers, but her
vocation, she says, is for single life and general motherhood. In old
days she would have been a tender mystic and, probably, a dedicated nun."

"She has been born out of due time then?"

"I do not think so. There can never be a state of society which is not
the better for saintly souls."

"But what is there left for these saintly souls to do? I feel puzzled to
think what I, Emily Bethel, with the wisdom and the experience of my
sixty-two years, could find to employ me in this world of yours. I should
miss the charitable and philanthrophic work that occupied so much of my
time and my thoughts before my mother's failing health made such
exclusive demands on me. Nobody now is called on to furnish doctor, and
nurse, and baby linen to the impecunious many-childed--nobody is needed
to go district visiting to bestow advice and charity, and to keep eyes
and ears open to detect imposition. Not only the Union Workhouse, but the
Benevolent Asylum is shut up. There are no longer State children to find
homes for, or to visit in these homes. There is no _crêche_ to establish
and superintend; there are no fallen girls to attempt to rescue, and even
in the more hopeful work of prevention there is nothing to do. The Girls'
Friendly Society is without an object. Penny clubs and clothing clubs
are, of course, extinct. Even in prosperous Australia, the number of
voluntary benevolent associations was large, and continually increasing.
I used to help with money and personal service in many such
organisations, and was requested to help in as many more."

"In fact all the old patronage of the poor is abolished," said Mrs.
Oliphant. "It was because of ignorance, neglect and vice being so
prevalent that the army of philanthropic workers were called out to spend
and be spent in the service of humanity, and their endeavors seemed to
exonerate the mass of mankind from doing anything at all."

"There were those who gave cheques and those who gave service, and some
who gave both, but an immense number gave nothing--scarcely good will,"
said I, "and I confess that I often felt that our well-meant efforts
sapped the spirit of self-respect and independence among my poorer
brothers, and especially among the women."

"A laborer's wife would now-a-days be insulted by the offer of
baby-linen, or of old clothes," said Mrs. Oliphant. "The common
contribution to her Associated Home covers her medical expenses, and if
she cannot afford to pay a nurse, there are members of the home who
attend on her, she being willing to take her share with others. The
common nursery, for which she pays the full value, answers for a _crêche_
when she has to leave her young children to earn her livelihood. All the
comforts which in old times were so difficult to purchase for herself,
and which there was a demoralising chance that other people might bestow
on her, are now taken into her reckoning of necessary expenses."

"Then I go back to my old question:--What would there be for such a woman
as me to do beyond supplying my own necessities and taking my own
pleasure? It seems to set life on a lower level."

"We can help our fellows in many ways still. Miss Somerville is a born
religious teacher, and she works at our continuation schools, and with
our little ones at the Owen Home, endeavouring to add to the excellent
secular influences which go to form character, a spiritual motive, and a
lofty ideal."

"What is her avocation? Oh, I forgot, she is a clergywoman."

"Oh, don't you know she is a milliner, especially clever in styles for
the middle-aged and old. The other calling, of course, brings in no
income."

"Indeed, this is a very voluntary sort of church. Caps and bonnets seem
rather frivolous concerns to occupy the working hours of a religious
genius."

"Do you think so?" said my kinswoman. "So long as people wear caps and
bonnets, it is worthwhile to make them becoming and suitable to age. I
think the bread earning employment keeps our religious teachers healthy
in mind and body."

"I thought," said I, hesitatingly, "that this was a middle-class home,
representing the educated and professional classes, but I heard Mr. Black
to-day talk of the foundry at which he works, and Mrs. Roberts told me
she was a bookbinder, and here you say Miss Somerville is a milliner!"

"We were originally a middle-class home," said Mrs. Oliphant; "but people
cannot keep up the old proportion of distributors and soft-handed clerks.
Every child who comes out of our schools is fitted to be a clerk--but the
market is limited. Quite half of the inhabitants of the Owen Home are
engaged in work which would have been considered _infra dig._ by their
great-grand parents. We have still some of the possessions and the
traditions of a time when we had material and mental superiority. If
Florrie had not had a love of books and a taste for teaching, she would
probably have learned millinery from Miss Somerville, of whom she is
fond. By-the-by, it may interest you to know that she is a descendant of
the Mrs. Somerville who was an eminent person in your day."

"Yes, her life was a favorite book with my mother, who, though she did
not know her, knew the Somervilles well. Her honorable life and her
serene, cheerful old age, occupied and interested to the last, were
pleasant to read of, and to think of."

I had a peep at the room prepared for the young people on their return. A
friend of the bridegroom's--a clever mechanic--had made a special
writing-table, at which two could work together. Some of the furniture
was new, but most of it was old. As old pillow lace was only held as
heirlooms, and valued highly, I made a gift of a piece of handsome lace
which had been my mother's, which had somehow found its way into my bag,
for the bride to receive on her return.

There had been little of what we would call romance in the courtship and
marriage. The young people did not require much, and the parents were
reasonable and kind. The great charm in the match was that they were
fellow-students, but that was too common to be specially held up for
felicitations. It was simply the natural order of things that two young
people should prefer each other to all the world beside, and with the
least possible delay, convert their dream of love into a reality. Dear
me! where was the chance for the novel writer of the nineteenth century,
when would he find a love situation interesting enough to keep his
readers awake for half the night, as has happened to me many a time both
in my youth and my middle age?

I glanced at the little shelf of books which were specially Florrie's
own; they were mostly books for study. Her light literature was obtained
from the Owen Home library, but there were two volumes of poetry
presented by Fred, with evident marks of reading, a novel written by an
aunt, which was a presentation copy, and another which Florrie had bought
with her own pocket-money. I was living so intensely that I could not
find time for reading, and the little I read seemed much more unreal than
the conversation, but I felt I ought to go and overhaul the books in the
Owen Home, and see how many of our old standard books had a place on the
permanent staff. I was disappointed to find how few books, that I had
thought were written for all time, were to be seen there. Of course, in
the British Museum and at the great public libraries which existed in all
large towns, I could find my old favorites, but the ordinary daily
reading of the people of the twentieth century was the more recent work
of contemporaries.

As I stood reading the titles of the books on the shelves, and
occasionally opening one, Mrs. Oliphant joined me and recommended one
especially to me as giving a history of the Industrial and Social
Revolution, and another of earlier date as the most powerful book written
on behalf of the relaxation of the marriage laws, and the limitation of
families.

"I cannot read," I said--at least nothing at all demanding thought or
study. "This week is so short, I must get my information made as easy as
possible. I may glance at Florrie's favorite novel and her favorite
poems, but I fear I could not read even your great history of
co-operation in my present condition of mind."

"I can quite understand that reading is all but impossible to you."

"I am very troublesome to you with my questions, but I dare not ask other
people, lest I should show my ignorance of things here, and I fear to be
questioned about the Australia of to-day, because I would show quite as
great ignorance of things there. But the permanence of your homes, the
way they descend to new pairs, makes me think what a terrible collapse
there must have been in all the building trades, after the _furore_ there
must have been before the building of Associated Homes. Were many of the
old houses available?

"A good many churches and public buildings were remodelled and enlarged,
and often the nucleus was old, but the best and most convenient were
those which were planned from foundation to attics for twenty or more
families, like this Owen Home. The Ossulton Home, which you saw, is
newer, but not more comfortable, and, of course, not so much beautified.
Fred leaves a beautiful home, the Evergreen. There have been several
generations of artists in that home, who always leave traces of their
presence, and he tells me the lawn is better than ours."

"But, to return to my puzzle," I said, "there must have been a period of
inflation in the building trades, when homes were thus reconstructed, as
well as a prodigious loss of property when the old homes were abandoned."

"Yes, of course, there was loss. The general gain was at the cost of
enormous individual losses. Millionaires found a shrinkage in values
unprecedented in the severest crisis or panic before. Territorial
magnates, especially ground landlords, and owners of houses, freehold or
leasehold, were ruined by the thousands and tens of thousands. But,
somehow, nobody starved."

"Then, when the Associated Homes were all built and tenanted, and
England--or the old three kingdoms, as I knew them--made less population
by the emigration of a sixth part of their inhabitants, and the
population kept thereafter rigidly stationary, what could there be for
the members of the building trade to do?"

"It is a reasonable question. We had had, however, before that, stood the
still greater strain of absorbing the armies of the country and all those
who lived by the manufacture of arms, ammunition, and accoutrements--all
who depended directly or indirectly on the two great arms of the service
by land and sea--into the ranks of productive labor. Many of them swelled
the building trades, and housed themselves and others. Many of the
co-operative artisans' houses were built by the future inhabitants--each
putting so much labor to reduce the original cost--and many excellent
ideas were evolved by people building for their own comfort and
convenience."

"But, when the houses were built and tenanted, what did the masons, and
carpenters, and plasterers, and half of the painters, and paper-hangers
find to do?"

"Everybody has a bye-trade, besides the one followed for a livelihood."

"In my experience, when trade was dull in one line, it was generally dull
in all lines; but then, we had such alternations of inflation and
depression. Things are steadier with you."

"The builders, generally, took to cultivation, and large tracts of
inferior land were utilised. A number were kept on for repairs, and the
adapted and remodelled old homes needed a great deal of this. But, of
course, there was an immense displacement of labor, though not so much as
there was in England and the Continent, where general disarming took
place."

"I suppose war was put an end to because the burden of taxation was no
longer endurable?'

"Partly so; but quite as much because engines were devised and
constructed so destructive that human nature recoiled from them in
horror. England, France and Germany were the pioneers in substituting
arbitration for war, Austria and Italy followed close, and the pressure
of the Great Powers was too much for the brute force of Russia, which was
besides honey-combed by the anti-warlike doctrines of Socialists and
Nihilists. The less powerful nations, of course, formed a compact phalanx
in favor of peace."

"The saving to the nations of the world by the cessation of war, and of
the ever-enlarging preparations to be made in case of the sudden outbreak
of war must have been immense, though of course, the crisis must have
been acute. Does this nation increase in wealth while the population
remains stationary? We used to think wealth expanded with the number of
workers."

"At least the value of property did, measured in money," said Mr.
Oliphant, smiling severely. "The average income or earnings of the people
have increased; the average capital or saved earnings may not be so great
in the aggregate. Everyone has savings for old age, but very few have
much more than is needed."

"If three or four generations are as saving as I have known them to be,
there must be people who are rich?"

"Parsimony of this kind rarely lasts so long in a family, but we have one
instance of it in the Owen Home. Mr. Harrop is the descendant of four
generations of economists." "What does he do with his capital?"

"Lends it at two per cent. on excellent security, either on houses or on
industrial or agricultural concerns. Cheap money has been the chief
factor in reclaiming indifferent land."

"Cheap capital and costly labor," said I. "In the colonies we had to work
with both at high rates."

"But your land was cheap enough," said Mr. Oliphant. "The curse of
England in your old days was that capital flowed freely for all sorts of
speculative ventures all over the world, but not freely for industrial
purposes. The competition of all the world brought such a fall in prices
that legitimate industry was paralysed."

"No doubt," said I, "in our time there was enormous wealth, enormous
waste, and enormous want."

"Three portentous capital W's, owing to the withdrawal of capital from
its right uses. Now, you will note, we have to eat our own broken
victuals, or feed our domestic animals with them; we wear out our own
clothes, or make them down for our own children. There are no beggars at
our gates desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from the rich
man's table, or to be clothed with the unsuitable garments of which
fashion had grown weary. Neither have we irresponsible and pampered
menials wasting what might have fed poor families. We not only save the
waste of war, almost all the waste of litigation, the waste of leakage in
the raising and disbursing the taxation for the expenses of Government,
but we save the personal waste which was so enormous in the days of
individualism and unrestricted competition."

"But you say that the average income is greater than it used to be for
the larger population, when the millionaires were included. There were
miles and miles of streets in London and other large cities that could
only be inhabited by people spending from five to thirty-thousand a
year."

"Yes, the average income is higher, and the average of good food,
clothes, lodging, leisure, and amusement, which the income can buy, is
also higher--and that is the true test of an income. The rich man could
not eat the share of a hundred, or the rich woman wear more than one set
of garments at a time, and, so, ninety-nine had less than was good or
pleasant for them, that the hundredth might waste the more."

I sat in the ladies' workroom for half-an-hour in the evening. Someone
was eager to teach me a new stitch in knitting, but I declined, as I had
no prospect of practising it. I went early to my room to write down my
day's acquisitions, so as to have a little more sleep than I had had
recently.




CHAPTER VI



FRIDAY


_Government and Laws_


This was the day which I meant to devote to London, under the guidance of
Mr. Oliphant. It was, indeed, a different London from that which I had
seen in my childhood--before our family sailed for Australia--and even
more different from what it had been on my visit to England in 1865-6.
What losses people must have made; what fearful collapses of wealth in
individuals and corporations must have taken place, in the transformation
of the mart of the world into the mere capital of a small but vigorous
nation! It was to me pathetic to see the diminished shipping in the
Thames. No doubt other ports had a larger share of what trade remained,
but the dominant fact was clear enough, that all countries in the world
depended more on internal resources, and much less on foreign supplies
than in the days of London's pre-eminent glory. Such countries as through
their vast extent could provide for their people the produce of various
latitudes, had even less foreign trade than England. Russia, and the
United States, and Australia, had this wide range of climate, but even
England had largely extended her list of products.

Where there had been large warehouses in the city were now co-operative
stores, and many Associated Homes were made out of bonded stores and
other great buildings, no longer needed for merchandise.

All my old recollections has been of London encroaching on the country,
and stretching out its myriad arms, and seizing here a common, there a
heath, here a sheltering wood, there a cultivated field. Now the fields
and vegetable life had their innings against encroaching bricks and
mortar and human swarms. Great nests of rookeries had been pulled down
where population had been thickest and most wretched, and planted with
trees or laid out in grass. No longer was there a street or home in
London out of reach of an open space. Even little children could walk as
far as to get to a park or large square, where there was fresh air to
breathe and plenty of greenery to look on. There were new streets laid
out with the homes of the period, and so broad that there was room for
trees along each side of the street. The underground railway had fallen
into disuse--there was plenty of space above to run all the necessary
trains. Omnibuses were no more, the tramcars were no longer drawn by
horses. The most fashionable part of the day no longer called out the
luxurious carriages with beautiful horses and liveried servants, in which
the rich and the titled had driven in Hyde Park. Nor did Rotten Row
afford the sight of yore. Horses were costly luxuries which few could
afford, but cycling was the favorite exercise of the young and a very
useful means of locomotion for all ages.

The street traffic, of course, was enormously reduced, for London only
contained as many inhabitants as it did at the beginning of this
century--about a million--and to this number I learned, to my
satisfaction, that Paris and New York had also been brought.

The nineteenth century was commonly spoken of as the age of great cities,
the twentieth was extolled as being the age of dispersion. Provincial
towns, perhaps, took more stand, as compared with London, than of old,
but yet London was the seat of legislation, the centre of Government, the
heart of the kingdom still. I was glad that no fancy for symmetry, no
passion for decentralisation had carried the political capital out of the
grand historic London. I was also pleased to see that most of the old
buildings--civil and ecclesiastical--that were beautiful in themselves,
or memorable in history, had been carefully preserved in their original
form. The Tower, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Hall, still
stood as they had stood for centuries. The finest of the old churches had
been preserved, though others had been reconstructed into homes.

Time fails me to tell of the surprising transformation of London. The
river still flowed with all its ancient majesty, and more than its
ancient purity, and there were landmarks, here and there, to convince me
that this was really the great city; but the destruction of the slums
and the reconstruction of the better streets made it most bewildering
to me. The railway stations still stood where they were. How I regretted
I could not take the Great Northern Railway and see for myself what had
been done with the land of my birth.

"Stands Scotland where it did?" I asked my patient though often somewhat
amused guide.

"I believe it does," he said smiling.

"If, as you say, the wealth or prosperity of a country depends on its
fertility, Scotland must be far behind England!"

"Scotland and England are one, and it is not only fertility of soil and
kindliness of climate, but the ingenuity and industry of its inhabitants
that bring prosperity to a country, and Scotland has these."

"And what of Ireland?" I asked.

"Ireland is still very much of a dairy and cattle-breeding country.
England depends on her for much of her butter and cheese and beef supply.
She grows rye and flax of better quality than we can in England, and, in
some manufactures and in many handmade articles, the Irish excel us.
Ireland is poor in minerals, no doubt, but the reclamation of bog land
and the increase of production has been marvellous since the pacification
of the country, and the flow of capital as well as of steady industry on
to the land."

"There is then no bitterness left between England and Ireland? It seems
too much to expect after so many centuries of misgovernment and
misunderstanding."

"There is free interchange of products and a perfectly friendly feeling
between the sister isles," said Mr. Oliphant. "The Irish have their
parliament, at least their popular house in Dublin. The Senate which sits
in London has the representatives of the four provinces into which
Ireland is divided, who have an equal voice with the ten representatives
for England, two for Wales, and four for Scotland."

"Are your Parliaments elected annually according to the Charter, so many
points in which you have carried out, or triennially like the
Australians, or septennially as in England of old? Then you have your
President to elect also. I hope that is not as exciting a matter as it
used to be in America!"

"The President is elected once in six years, but that not by direct
election. The Lower House is elected for three years, and is rarely
dissolved till that term has expired, so that for a long time the
Presidential election and the Commons election have been simultaneous.
The President is elected by delegates from two hundred communes."

"Can a President be re-elected?"

"He may serve two terms. Our third President was chosen a second time."

"Were not people afraid to do this, lest it should become as permanent as
royalty?" "He was extremely popular."

"If he dies in office?"

"There is no new election; he provides for a successor in that case, as
also in case of serious illness or incapacitation for public business."

"Oh! I understand, as the Americans did. But you call this a Commonwealth
out of compliment to the movement of the seventeenth century, I suppose."

"I think it was rather to distinguish between ourselves and the great
transatlantic English speaking Republic."

"Why not call your President Protector, and keep up the distinction?"

"He does not protect us or the Commonwealth. We protect ourselves. We did
not like that title."

I have already learned in the course of general conversation, that the
President of the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland, in the latter
part of the year 1987, was a man who had worked his way up through
commercial and provincial experience to the highest position in the
country. He was a descendant, through his mother, of an eminent _savant_
of my own day, but his father had belonged to the Artisan class. The
probable successful candidate for the next term of office was a Guelph, a
direct descendant of the Royal Family, who had made his mark in the new
social order, and was now a leading member in the House of Commons.
Royalty had ceased in England for nearly eighty years, but there were
many descendants of the Empress Queen, as she was generally called,
scattered over the world, and many of them in leading positions.

All the commercial and provincial assemblies were gratuitous, but both
the Senate and the members of the House of Commons were paid for their
services. But the modest salary of the President, and the allowance for
the legislature, were no great strain on the industry of the people. As
the legislature was paid, Mr. Oliphant told me that of course the
sittings were held in the best part of the day--the morning. I told him
that the Victorian paid legislature used to sit in the evening, which he
said was exceptional.

I went into the House of Commons first. The building was the same but as
the number was smaller, the great hall had been shorn of its vast
proportions, and looked to me dwarfed, but it was easier to hear what was
said. I listened to a debate and heard some good speaking, especially
from Mr. Albert Guelph, but no impassioned eloquence. The minority of the
day had their seats in the house; Mr. Guelph was at the head of the
Opposition.

The question raised was as to immigration and emigration, and it was one
which occasionally cropped up. In spite of the difficulty of obtaining
employment in a society so thoroughly organised, where each man had his
niche, and each niche its man, there was a tendency for people from the
poorer continental countries, such as Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia,
to turn to England. To allow free access to all-comers, who might take
all risks and compete with the advanced society and bring down the
standard of living, was dangerous. But yet I could not help sympathising
with the feeling of the minority that something would be lost if a heavy
poll-tax were imposed, or even the stronger measure suggested by Mr.
Guelph. England had reached her old pre-eminence by being open to
all-comers. A larger mixture of races than any continental nation
possessed, had evolved a composite character with many of the best
qualities of each, which liberty had strengthened by its being the refuge
for the oppressed, where the most despotic Powers in Europe could not
touch their political refugees. The dingy glories of Leicester Square
were at an end, but Leicester Square had been a great factor in the
triumph of free thought, free speech, and free action all over the
civilised world.

The motion brought forward proceeded from what represented the
Conservatives--England was to be kept for the English, and the English to
be kept in England. So long as emigration and immigration were fairly
balanced, things were to be as they were, but if immigration exceeded
departures by 10,000 in one year, a heavy poll-tax was proposed. If, on
the other hand, the emigration exceeded the arrivals by as many, an
equivalent fine on departures was to be levied. This did not include
travellers who only visited foreign countries, or visitors from the
continent or from old colonies, who each had passports which did not
allow them to settle or find employment. I was sorry to see the passport
system in full swing in the twentieth century, but I was told that
nothing else could have prevented England from being swamped by cheap
labor at any time during the reconstruction and afterwards.

Emigration, in my time, had been looked on as the best and safest outlet
for redundant population, and had indeed veiled for two or three
generations the inexorable law of population from the average British
intelligence. Now the idea seemed to be that of the Psalmist:

   Dwell in the land, and there thou shalt be fed.

This bill was only in its second reading, and the debate was adjourned
till the following week, when, of course, I could not know the issue.

There was much more State regulation and inspection than I had been used
to, and the only parallel I could see approaching to it was the State
legislation of the Western States of America; but this in England also
was very much done by the provincial and communal bodies, so that the
higher powers were relieved of much of the detail of administration. The
nation, however, had Bureaus of Science, of Agriculture, of Meteorology,
and seemed to make it its business to collect and formulate, and then to
disseminate, all the information received, and all the discoveries made
from year to year.

The patent laws were changed so as to encourage invention, but as
invention now-a-days was the fruit, not of a man's whole time, but of his
abundant leisure, it was generally thrown into the common stock, though
it was in every inventor's power to keep it for his own profit, or to
sell it to someone who could make practical use of it.

In the Upper House there was a debate on a proposed extension of the
Patent Law to ten years instead of five, but that was lost. The members
of this Senate were older and few in number compared with the other. The
President lived in Buckingham Palace during his term of office, and was
fairly accessible. His wife was rather a homely woman, and, therefore,
was not a leader of fashion.

The criminal statistics of the country were eminently satisfactory.
Offences against the person were even rarer than those against the
property, and these--owing to the industrial education of the people, and
the openings for earning an honest livelihood, were wonderfully few. The
elimination of the gambling spirit from business and from pleasure had
removed many of the temptations to dishonesty.

Drunkenness, which though not punished by law either in the nineteenth or
in the twentieth century, is at all times a fruitful parent of crime, was
reduced so much by the temperate habits of a well-to-do and intelligent
people, that this alone swept three-fourths of the cases out of the trial
lists.

The Associated Homes with their gentle but continuous pressure have all
but extinguished the drinking habits of old days, when hospitality and
good-fellowship seemed to demand the liberal flow of intoxicating liquors
to guests in the private house, or at the poor man's only drawing room,
news room, and social club--the public-house.

The large amount of crime directly or indirectly traceable to illicit
intercourse between the sexes was also minimised, if not stopped by the
normal early marriages, which not only struck at vice, but the small
families struck at poverty--another fruitful parent of crime. As
illegitimate children had the same claims on the father as children born
in wedlock, human-nature being what it is, marriage was preferred by the
woman, and not objected to by the man. The mournful population checks of
the past--cannibalism, infanticide, war, pestilence, and
prostitution--were only spoken of as matters of history. The old
Malthusianism of the past, which delayed the marriage of the prudent and
thoughtful, while the reckless and improvident multiplied all the more,
had resulted in the survival of the unfittest. This was especially
noticeable when sanitary laws were better understood, and humanity and
philanthrophy were eager to save the lives of the sickly and the
defective, but took no steps to check their parenthood.

The neo-Malthusianism, of which I had barely heard, had, since my career
had ended, taken hold of the world, beginning with the middle-classes,
but rapidly embracing the more prudent and sensible of the artisan class,
and gradually penetrating down to the lower class--the old so-called
_proletariat_. It was by the severest restriction of charity, and by
efforts--hitherto unparalleled--for the reclamation to industrial life of
the more hopeful, and the younger of the class of tramps, vagrants and
loafers, that these were at last forced to see that other people would no
longer work to keep them in idleness. Whether these people possessed
property, or not, now-a-days the old title of _proletariat_ was no longer
applicable, for they no longer produced large families.

Again out in the streets of London. It was unavoidable that much which
Mr. Oliphant spoke of as real progress, should, to me, look like decay.
There was not the tremendous rush and bustle I had been used to. The
glory had gone off Regent-street and Old Bond-street, and many other
fashionable streets in the West End. I missed the gaily set-out shop
windows. I missed the jewellers' shops--the exquisite articles in silk,
and lace, and furs, which only the wealthy could buy, but which all
classes could admire.

Some trades stood their ground, and were carried on apart from
co-operative stores, such as photography and dentistry, which both had
expanded. There were comparatively few lawyers and doctors, and the
clerical profession, as a means of livelihood, was conspicuous by its
absence, but that large subject must stand over till Sunday.

"Two Chinese cities surpass it in population, and New York is considered
more commercial, but it is rather difficult to calculate the wealth of a
country where there are so few large accumulations, and where capital is
not floating about in the hands of brokers and lent to nations, but
employed actively in industrial undertakings. As a rule, a man's money
goes with his work as a share of the concern. This makes a double bond to
attach the workman to his industry, and gives to employment a permanence
quite unknown in the preceding century."

Savings, I found, were made for old age and for the contingency of death
while children were too young to provide for themselves. They were made
in several ways, characteristic of the new society, in obtaining the
freehold of the home, in not drawing out the dividends from the
co-operative factories, but gaining a credit on their books, and in
assurance societies proper, which dealt more in annuities after a certain
age than in a lump sum at death.

Everyone having a margin over and above necessary expenditure, there was
always some degree of inequality of wealth between those who spent and
those who spared, but the gains of capital were small as compared to its
proportion to labor in olden times, and capital was no longer what it had
been, the arbiter of nations, the greatest power in the world socially as
well as economically.

It is still powerful as increasing the powers of the human instrument
incalculably, but it had settled down through its wide, almost universal
distribution, to be a very cheap commodity.

The year's turn-over of money was really larger than it had been, for the
population, but it no longer moved in such masses.

Mr. Oliphant thought New York was a richer city than London, and that one
Australian city did not come far short of it.

The paper currency, which was national, like the railways, was based not
entirely on gold, but on the State property in land and railways as well.
The production of gold, which had been stimulated during the last years
of the old _régime_, by its steady appreciation in value, had become
smaller and smaller. A bi-metallic basis was introduced into most of the
European nations as a stop-gap, but that was not satisfactory, and
finally, other solid security was taken. So far as Mr. Oliphant and I
could reckon it, the average income of the twenty-five millions of people
inhabiting the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland, a people, it
must be remembered, of adults, employed productively in much larger
proportion than in the nineteenth century, was nearly double what it was
in the palmy days of free trade and unrestricted competition, when the
enormous incomes of the millionaires were thrown into the balance. The
purchasing power of money was in many directions less, and in some more.
The length of the working life was the main factor in this extraordinary
wealth.

I saw the inside of a jail, and of a lunatic asylum on this busy Friday.
Harmless lunatics, after attempts for a cure had failed, often returned
to their homes and were employed to the utmost of their capacities,
chiefly out of doors. Criminal lunatics, such as those suffering from
homicidal mania, were put to painless death. Those who had dangerous
paroxysms, were kept safely and treated kindly, but employed during their
lucid intervals.

Moral lunatics, or the residuum, which forms the permanent criminal
class, were treated in much the same way, only that their work was of
greater value, though it was conducted under costly inspection. One of
the factors in national wealth was the comparatively small number of
their failures.

The electric light, as I have already said, had superseded gas, both for
domestic and street illumination. I saw London, both by daylight and by
this effective substitute. The cleanliness of the city, its freedom from
smoke, the open spaces, the liberal planting of trees, made it a very
different city from the London of my recollections, but I began, as the
day wore on, to feel at home in it. Yes, this was the place I really
wanted to see most. I had made a right choice of the location for my
short week. It was the central heart of the Commonwealth, it was, too,
the ancient capital of all the daughter states which had been a-building
so long. Here were preserved the archives, undestroyed, dating from
before the Norman Conquest, which recorded the long growth of
civilisation, liberty and orderly Government, which had been
transplanted, with some modifications, to the ends of the earth. The
mother-city of the van had not lost her historic glory through throwing
off her surplus population.

Had England lost much in losing the great mixture of races, in educating
power, or in her own national character? My friend thought the Englishman
still equal, if not superior to the Anglo-Saxon of the Western or the
Southern Hemispheres.

The English-speaking communities were still mindful of the fatherland.
War having ceased all over the world, the alliance for peace or war which
was held to be the main colonial bond in the nineteenth century was not
needed; but the feeling between England and her daughter States,
including the great Republic of America, was of the friendliest.
Literature and laws, manners and customs, history and traditions were
identically similar.

I felt more tired of this day's work than of any of the preceding,
perhaps I now felt the accumulation of fatigue, carried over through
taking in so many new ideas day after day.

There was a dance at the Owen Home every Friday evening, to which about
twenty guests were invited--to add to the normal contingent of dancers.
The children came in for one half-hour before going to bed; the grown
people kept it up till nearly eleven. The dances were mostly new to me,
and I thought graceful as well as decorous, and the music--like all I had
heard in this newer England--admirable, and all furnished by the habitués
of the music room.

I could not, however, sit out the whole series of dances, but retreated
to my own room to write down what had struck me most of the day's sights
and sounds. I note that even when I intend to keep to a certain
department--such as politics and criminal law--the social question
continually invades it. I never was very much of a politician--even my
strong feeling in favor of what is called Hare's system of voting, which
my nephews and nieces used to call Aunt Emily's fad, was less because it
would give more equal representation to political parties than because it
would strike at the root of the anti-social and immoral tendencies of the
majority vote.

I have always believed that people might be a great deal happier than
they are, if they only managed their lives better, and if they did not
make laws and follow customs which sacrificed the sick and the poor to
the strong and the rich. Here, in the new society, the intelligent
pursuit of happiness was the avowed object of all, and my curiosity as to
the result of such an unusual pursuit was ever alert, and my
kinsfolk--half amused, but wholly interested, were eager to satisfy me.




CHAPTER VII



SATURDAY


_Literature and Art; Music; the Drama and Sport_


How fast my week passed away. I rubbed my eyes at the sound of the
awakening bell, and felt a new pang at the thought that this was my
penultimate "Day in the Future." I had tried to follow some method in my
researches. To-day I was not to travel much, but was to see the National
Gallery, both of ancient and modern works of art, and the British
Museum, and I was to try to form some estimate of the literature of the
20th century. The National Gallery, I found, had been enlarged
enormously, and admirably classified and arranged, so that one could see
as much or as little as one pleased. There were in it, stationed at
various points, persons of both sexes who were thoroughly well informed
as to the pictures and statues in their departments, who could give much
fuller information than any catalogue. The light was well distributed.
New modes of cleaning pictures had been adopted, and I could see that
the old works of art were well preserved, and fairly appreciated. My
attention, however, was mainly directed towards the later schools, and I
was a little puzzled to know whether I preferred them to the more
familiar styles of my own or of previous days. There were some striking
pictures of the transition period between the age of competition and
accumulation, and the communistic _régime_ now established. There was
not such savagery in the expression of the surging crowds who wrought
this revolution as we were used to see in the pictures of the French
Revolutionary period, but there was great intensity. A gallery of
portraits of the leaders in the industrial reorganisation was
interesting. I was delighted to know the names of many, some of my own
day, and the sons and daughters of others whom I knew by reputation.
There was a gallery of historical pictures connected with the cessation
of war and of royalty all over Europe. These were fine; I thought,
however, the later pictures were tame, except the landscape and
sea-pieces, which were lovely in their fidelity to Nature, and yet you
felt that Nature was seen through sympathetic human eyes.
Photography--though it had made great progress--had not extinguished or
even diminished artistic work, either in portraiture or in natural
scenery. There was some good new sculpture, but Mr. Oliphant told me it
was now impossible to get life models on hire. One might induce a friend
to sit to him, but that was all. I was surprised at the progression of
works of art of all kinds, especially as I heard that all considerable
provincial towns had galleries of their own.

"How is it that so many devote themselves to art when your public are not
rich enough to give their value for them?"

"Those who follow art for a livelihood are but few. Our artistic work is
chiefly done in the leisure which everyone has, and these galleries are
filled mainly with the gifts of the people to the people."

"That is, in one way, a pity, for art has always been understood to
demand the strenuous study of a life-time. It is also the better for
foreign travel, and for opportunities of seeing various styles."

"I do not know that we have the highest possible art; our connoisseurs
point back to the old masters as unapproached by us, but we have an art
that our people understand and appreciate. Our children, as you have
seen, are early taught to observe form and color, light and shade,
likeness and unlikeness, and to use the pencil and the brush; and if they
have any talent, it shows itself. Our associated life allows the younger
to obtain hints and corrections from the older. At our Owen Home there
are many young people who work for hours every day in the art room. Of
course, the best work is done in summer with the longer light. This
gallery is open to students every day, and all day long."

"Dr. Johnson used to say of the Scotch that 'Every one had a mouthful of
learning, but nobody had more'," said I.

"And you think it may be the same with our art? but the mouthful makes us
happy, and I believe, makes us morally better than a perfect art, only
understood by an upper ten thousand."

The British Museum had been also enlarged beyond all my expectations.
There was nothing approaching to it in the Commonwealth or on the
Continent of Europe for its comprehensiveness. The number of new books
which had been published since I knew the world, was enormous. There were
many readers in the museum--more than in my recollection of old times,
though London was less populous. The Natural History and geological and
other scientific collections were extensive and admirably arranged--with
specialists able and willing to give information. The visitors were not
the gaping crowds who knew nothing before and learned nothing then, but
intelligent people who added to or fixed their previous acquisitions by
what they saw and heard.

"I think I could read here," I said to Mr. Oliphant, as I sat down where
I had sat more than a hundred and twenty years before, "nothing solid or
demanding close attention, but let me see the sort of pabulum your young
folks are nourished on--poetry and fiction."

"Here," said Mr. Oliphant, "are poems which I like, and which Florrie and
her lover have read together in their brief courtship, and thought
exquisite. It was Fred's gift-book to her; and here is a novel, or rather
a novelette, of the day, very popular with the young. I shall go to my
office and leave you here for two hours. I know you think our newspapers
very inferior to the encyclopedian _Times_ and the philosophical
_Spectator_ of your own day; and as you avoid the serious literature, you
cannot see how the omissions of the daily and weekly press are supplied
by books; but I may as well tell you that authorship, as a profession, is
as rare as art. Our books are the product of our leisure, and rarely
remunerate the writer. A very small royalty is all that the author
claims, and no books are published at a high price. I do not dream of
getting any profit by the book which I have had in hand for three years.
Authorship is so delightful a thing that every one rushes into print who
fancies he or she has anything to say. You note that we do not review
books in the newspapers, and that they do not advertise with us; the task
would be too great for us, the expense too great for the publishers."

When left alone I sat down and tried to do justice to the poems which
were written by one who had been before the world for fifteen years. The
verses were graceful and thoughtful, but I was in no way carried out of
myself by them. It was easier for me to enter into the new life of the
future, and to appreciate all the social arrangements by which life was
made pleasanter, its sweetness and candor, its brightness and sympathy,
than to be interested and amused by what delighted those around me. If
the poems felt the touch of the level hand, how would the novel of
contemporary life fare?

I think even worse. As early marriage was so easily entered into, the
love embroglios (sic) were chiefly after marriage, and had much to do
with divorce. The custody of children was a point settled by arbitration
of friends, but the party who appeared most to blame in the separation
had the worse position, and often this led to reconciliation. I really
could not keep my attention closely fixed on the loves of Nigel and
Elaine, interrupted by a twentieth century villain, but all brought to a
happy conclusion, but I could see that the little boy had a great deal to
do with it.

I was told by my friends that there was another school of fiction
resembling the historical romance which was very popular, and another
purely ideal, in which spirits and fairies and supernatural beings, the
belief in whom had quite died out, were called out to paint a moral and
adorn a tale. The metrical tale was very popular, as also the ballad to
be read or to be sung. There were some magazines, both of light and
serious literature, but not so many as I left in the world. The cessation
of advertisements had probably killed many of them. The newspapers
confined themselves to their own department, and did not publish serial
stories to induce a large circulation. If people wanted stories and
poetry they had to buy them in books, but the writers had increased in a
larger proportion than the buyers, because the Homes and the syndicates
of Homes made one copy of a book do more duty than the old circulating
libraries.

I saw some athletic sports and games of various kinds that Saturday
afternoon to show me how the young people took their out-door amusements.
Admission to cricket and such matches was free.

"You have as yet seen none of our public entertainments," said Mrs.
Oliphant to me. "What would you prefer, the theatre, the concert room, or
the opera?"

"Have you actually an opera? I should have thought that was a luxury only
possible where there was a wealthy community. If there is really opera, I
should prefer that, and if possible, in old Covent Garden."

"That is our Opera House, and there is a new and, I hear, a fine piece in
representation there at present. As for opera being unsuited to our
condition of social equality, almost everyone is musical enough to
appreciate it, and as the stars do not now swallow up half the profits,
we have very even talent all round, and the entertainment is not costly."

We did not get the best seats, because these were obtained by prior
engagement, and our minds were made up too late for that, but we did not
get the worst because we were at the doors early. Italian opera at one
shilling and one and sixpence could not be called dear, and before I had
heard a quarter of the overture I felt satisfied it would be in no way
inferior. The libretto, which I glanced over in advance, seemed better
than I recollected reading in old days. The scene of the opera was laid
in the time of revolution and reconstruction, and Mrs. Oliphant told me
it was as true to history as so artificial a thing as opera could be
made. The title was "The last of the Czars," and it showed how the
absolute autocrat was driven to abdication by the pressure of his
rebellious subjects. There were mobs and barricades, armies and battles;
the disused arms I had seen and others invented after my day were brought
forward to show what life had been. The sycophants, the parasites, and
the spies who flattered the monarch up to the turn of fortune, and then
deserted and betrayed him, were shown up, and what was, perhaps, more
difficult, the more honest but equally mischievous blood and thunder
veterans who accounted that the end--the preservation of the
empire--justified all means of repression and cruelty to individuals and
classes. On the other hand were the prophets and apostles, the workers
and the fighters in the cause of freedom and progress, animating peasants
to action, and undermining the plots of the powerful. The returned exiles
from Siberia who took such a prominent part in the revolution, were wild
and haggard and neglected in their attire, but full of passionate
eloquence. The Russian national airs, with their pathetic music, were
introduced with excellent effect. I was as thoroughly carried away with
the drama of the future as I had been when I heard Ristori and her
company act Marie Antoinette. I was living in the story and I lost myself
in the music.

During the intervals I looked at the audience. The electric light showed
tier on tier of interested and intelligent spectators. There was no dress
circle--in fact, there was no such thing as full dress in twentieth
century society. People went in their ordinary clothes--their better
clothes, no doubt--with a little show of ribbons on the part of the women
and natural flowers worn by both sexes. There was no crowd of carriages
at the door of the Opera House. Only a few of such vehicles as belonged
to the Owen Home for the older and more infirm who wanted to be present.
Although the audience was most appreciative, there were no _encores_. The
opera, indeed, was a long one, but I understood from Mrs. Oliphant that
_encores_ were out of fashion. There was no calling before the curtain
till the close of the performance, when the performers received a shower
of flowers. The dresses of the company were tasteful, but not costly,
that of the peasants and the exiles and refugees most satisfactory in
their appropriateness. Close behind us, there sat a Russian gentleman,
known to Mr. Oliphant, who came from a backward province in Siberia, and
who had come to spend a year in England to study agriculture. He was
deeply interested in this national drama that he had just missed hearing
in St. Petersburg.

"I fear you must always go backward to find material for anything like a
plot," said I. "Your present times are too level and too prosperous for
picturesque artistic treatment."

"True, for the sensational and exciting we must go back, but we have a
domestic drama that interests us. So long as people differ in character
and temper, so long will their story present something for genius to take
hold of. But no doubt genius is very glad of the varied resources of the
past."

"Is your opera a co-operative affair, like so many other concerns
now-a-days? Or is it as it used to be with us--the speculation of an
_impresario_ who engaged his troupe and made the profit, or submitted to
the loss of the season?"

"It is so far co-operative that everyone, down to the most insignificant
chorus-singer and scene-shifter, has a share in the receipts, but there
is a head who conducts all the business, and a joint stock company who
furnish the capital. London has this company for four months in the year.
They travel through the provinces for the rest of the year, often
dividing into two bands, where the houses are too small for the whole
strength of the company. There is an oratorio company who devote
themselves in the same way to sacred compositions."

"Your London population is so small now, it is little larger than the
London of Johnson and Garrick, when Drury Lane and Covent Garden supplied
all the legitimate drama."

"The population, though comparatively small, is much more stationary than
the well-to-do used to be, and all our people are more pleasure-loving
than the average Englishman of old times."

"It used to be the visitors--the country cousins--who kept up the
theatres in London, and in Paris, too. You have not got so many visitors
now."

"We have more than you fancy, but not at harvest time--the busiest time
of the year in the country. The balance now is against London, for many
are on their country holiday. But our people are all fond of music and
the drama. Everyone has some spare money and a good deal of spare time.
Even the constant amateur performances which we have in our Homes
increase our taste for them, and make us desire to see the same thing
done better so that we may obtain valuable hints. The next act, Miss
Bethel, opens with a dance. I am glad that it will give you an idea of
our ballet-dancing."

It was lovely--the very poetry of motion with nothing of the
objectionable features of nineteenth century stage-dancing. I have before
said that the dress in the future was not rigorously of one mode. The
young and active wore shorter skirts than the older, and many preferred a
modification of the Bloomer costume--the belted tunic and full drawers.
This last was the favorite dress of the ballet-dancers, and their sleeves
were worn half-long. If paint and pearl powder was still used on the
stage, it was used judiciously, but, probably, the full glare of the
electric light required some make-up in this way. The audience, I felt
sure, had only their natural complexions.

It is rather hard work to take stock of everything seen and heard during
each day of my week every night, and I think I feel more puzzled to
appraise the literature than anything else. I fancy one must have lived
up to the times to enjoy their literary flavor. It is far easier to go
back, for we have, through our ancestors, through our traditions, through
our historical studies, learned in a measure to throw off the present,
and thus we can enter, in imagination, into a world where the railway,
the telegraph, the penny post, and the household franchise, were unknown
and undreamed of. One can sit down with Samuel Johnson, or with Addison,
or with Milton, and feel in what a world they lived and worked.

We can go back further still, to the troubled life of Dante or the
cloister of St. Bernard, or even to the classic times of Greece or Rome.
But in the hundred years that had elapsed since I had known the world,
first had come a cataclysm sweeping away the old foundations and much
that had been reared on them, and from these had gradually emerged a new
society which I had been only a week engaged in studying. No longer were
the prizes of life held by the few through inheritance, or snatched by
energy, by business talent, by unscrupulous rapacity, or by subtle craft.
No more startling rises and falls in social position, no more apparently
respectable people drifting into crime, on the pressure of fierce
temptation arising from opportunities which no longer were given, and the
precariousness of a position which seemed to depend entirely on money.
Mr. Oliphant reminded me that a crusader of the twelfth century, a feudal
lord of the thirteenth, a border raider of the fifteenth, and a buccaneer
of the sixteenth, would have thought our nineteenth century tame and
uneventful, for in it law was mightier than the sword, and violence was
put down by the stronger hand of the policeman. To ourselves our own
times will always be interesting, and to photograph ourselves in our
habit as we live must always be a pleasing spectacle to the living
generation. So far, however, as I am able to judge, and I do not pretend
to be anything but an amateur, or a _dillitante_ (sic), or any other word
that connotes my insufficient knowledge of art, I thought the nineteenth
century newspapers, poetry and novels, were better and, to me, more
interesting than those of the future. Mr. Oliphant regretted I had not
time to study history and science, which he said I should find had made
great advances. He also felt now that if I lived longer with the
_post-nati_, I should like the other outcomes of their spirit, better
too. I completely gave in as to music. I was not so sure as to painting.
Humor I thought was much less developed than in my own time. There were
far fewer absurd people in the world, and there was not the same
ridiculous difference between our aims and our accomplishments, between a
man's estimate of himself, and that which other people form of him that
amuses lookers-on now-a-days. There was, of course, the thoughtless
laughter of children in abundance, and the high spirits of youth, but
that subtle quality of humor, that consoling spirit that has softened the
disparities of life, has soothed the sorrows and the disillusions of the
nineteenth century was very slightly apparent in such intercourse as I
had with my successors. Some of the best people of the world in all ages
have had little or no sense of humor. I think I was especially drawn to
Mr. Oliphant because with him it was stronger than with others whom I
met.

And how did my new friends look on me? Kindly enough, but with some pity
that I had been placed in such a barbarous age. Yet this barbarous age
contained in it the germs of all that had been accomplished afterwards.
It was the beginning of the age of conscious evolution. Before my day the
race had stumbled forward, fighting blindly, struggling manfully for
life. In common with thousands, nay with tens-of-thousands, I had entered
the epoch of consciousness, the open-eyed, dignified manhood of humanity.
We had power and passion, we only paused for knowledge, so as to apply
these to the good and happiness of all. I looked back, and I saw the
beginning of much that had been evolved in my own mind, and in the minds
of others. I, myself, had done something, not much, but still somewhat
towards those changes that others had worked more efficiently under more
favorable circumstances to bring about.




CHAPTER VIII



SUNDAY


_Religion & Morality_


"For to-day," said my friend, Mr. Oliphant, "I think it would be well to
put you under the care of St. Bridget, who knows more of the religious
life of our modern society than I can pretend to do. But this I must
premise that in the most extraordinary way religion has showed its
vitality. The old historical Christianity was assailed from all
quarters. You must recollect that in your own day scientific discoveries
and critical studies of the Bible shook the faith of many. But that was
nothing to the great mass of infidelity which preceded and accompanied
the social revolution which you were expecting--that catastrophe which
closed your century and introduced ours. The Meliorists were not all
unbelievers, for in every Church in the world there were many who
devoutly hoped and trusted that God himself would redress wrongs, and
bring in a sort of miraculous millenium; but the active spirits--the
Socialists, the Communists, and the Nihilists--were impassioned and
aggressive Secularists and looked on the churches as the greatest
hindrances in the way of human progress. As the world settled down after
the revolution, these Secularist leaders were surprised to find that the
churches were not deserted--as they had confidently expected, but that
large numbers of the new generation, rising up, clung to the faith in
the unseen and the unknown. Worship appears to be a necessity for the
average human nature, but, with every advance in knowledge and in
morality, comes a change in the ideas we have of the Being whom we
worship, and of the services which is acceptable to Him. The constancy
of the natural laws, or rather of the natural order, is now too firmly
established to allow of prayer for definite blessings being offered.
Prayer with us is adoration of a Power felt to be ten-thousand times
greater than was dreamed of by Psalmist or Apostle, and aspiration after
such perfection as is open to a humanity no longer under a curse, no
longer finding its only salvation in fetters or leading-strings, but
free to seek after the best and the highest."

"Then are the Churches stronger than they used to be?"

"They are stronger, in that they have let go their weaker defences, but
they are not nearly so strong in numbers as you recollect them. There are
still very many sceptics in the world, but the age of scoffers is over.
Honest sceptics are acknowledged to have done good service in the past,
and to do good service in the present, even by the most devout among us.
Religion being now absolutely free, neither endowed nor supported by the
State, is a matter between a man's conscience and his God, there is no
longer a premium on hypocrisy, and there is no vantage ground occupied by
it, either pecuniarily or socially."

"Is there then no priestly caste or class now-a-days?"

"No; none at all."

"Are there no men and women--I see from Miss Somerville that women are
included--brought up for the ministry? They used to have this special
training, even for dissenting congregations in my day. It was considered
that such an education and the devotion of the whole life were needed to
make any ministry effective."

"We consider the ordinary education of the citizen is the best
foundation, and the ordinary life the best preparation."

"Then is the public worship of the faithful a mere matter of chance,
those speaking whom the Spirit moves, as among the venerable Society of
Friends."

"Not altogether. Our religious teachers have something superadded in the
way of study, though there is great latitude given to outsiders in most
denominations."

"Ah! now I understand. This spiritual ministration--like almost all your
literature and art--is the work of that leisure which is so equally
possessed by all classes of society, all grades of intelligence and all
varieties of temperament."

"Just so. If Paul, who had the conversion of a whole heathen world on his
hands, could earn his daily bread by his avocation of a tent-maker,
surely the building up of the faithful in the modern spiritual temple
might be accomplished by the many devout souls who have provided things
honest in the sight of all men by their work during the week. Naturally
permanent charges corresponding to the old parishes and congregations
fall to those who are most fitted for it, but help and variety are
obtained from others."

"Lay brothers and sisters, I suppose?"

"There is no lay, when there are no clerics," said Mr. Oliphant; "but
there is a large body of the unattached, who assist the regular
ministrants."

"And St. Bridget belongs to the regulars?"

"Yes, or she could not have joined Fred and Florrie in marriage together.
She preaches very well, but her special gift is prayer. We could not
afford to shut out quite half of the piety of the world from the ministry
by making our women keep silence in the churches."

"In spite of Paul?"

"We owe no slavish obedience to a temporary instruction of Paul, even if
that was what he meant, and not to stop idle questions and interruptions
of Divine service."

"Are you a church-goer yourself, Mr. Oliphant?"

"Occasionally. Not regularly."

"It is still respectable to go to church? I suppose."

"Yes; but quite as respectable to stay at home, if you do not feel that
it does you good."

"Then, if the intolerance of the churches, with regard to sceptics, has
been softened, what of the intolerance and aggressiveness of the sceptics
towards the churches?"

"That is also changed. The churches are not now maintained at great cost
to the public. They neither persecute nor taboo non-believers, and,
therefore, their attitude disarms aggression. But I must now hand you
over to St. Bridget. I am going to have a good day over my book, all the
better, I believe, for the week's talk with you."

Miss Somerville had an engagement to conduct public worship in the
evening, but for the morning she was free. I took her completely into my
confidence, and I found her more ready to believe my strange story than
even my own kinsfolk.

"Where do you wish to go to?" she asked.

"Either to St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey, preferring the latter. We are
too late for early service, so the forenoon must be our time."

"Westminster Abbey, like a great many churches of all denominations,
stands open all Sunday, and is open for morning and evening service every
day."

"That is a good borrowing from the Roman Catholic Church, which the
Anglican resembles in many respects."

"Other churches do the same. The church is now understood to be more a
house of prayer than a preaching place."

"Are the denominations as numerous as they used to be?"

"Not nearly so numerous. Many have merged minor differences and taken a
broad platform for united action."

"Such as the various forms of Methodism, for example?"

"Yes, these have merged in one body. Others, such as the
Congregationalists and Baptists have united, both believing in adult
baptism only. Infant baptism distinguishes these from the united body of
Presbyterians, to whom I am bound by ancestry, but baptism of this kind
is now a simple dedication service."

"Have the High Church Anglicans and the Roman Catholics abandoned the
miraculous element in the baptismal service and the sacraments
generally?" said I, in the greatest surprise.

"We hear less and less about it as the years roll on. Common sense has
attacked it from one side, and from the other we learn that spiritual
influences are immanent from the Deity, and not obtained by any jugglery
with material things, even by what were called sacramental elements."

"Then there is no social advantage or prestige in belonging to the
English Church now-a-days, nor any heart-burnings among those who remain
outside of it."

"When the establishment and the temporalities fell, the edge and the
bitterness of dissent were taken off."

"What training do your ministers receive to fit them for the position
they have to fill?" "Each denomination has its own standard. The
scholarship may vary, but piety is thought indispensable."

"And as the employment is entered into without hope of reward, there is
no temptation for such as have no vocation to enter into it."

"I gave three years of my leisure to theological study, and then had
three years probationary work before I took such orders as are needed for
the care of a congregation." "And this, too, is the work of your leisure.
In my time the whole life was given to it." "Given to what?" asked St.
Bridget, simply.

"To parochial and ministerial duties."

"What did these include?"

"Conducting public worship and preaching twice on Sunday and often on
weekdays besides. In the Catholic and the High Anglican Churches there
was morning and evening prayer besides. There was superintending the
Sunday Schools, catechising the young, visiting the sick and the dying,
platform work, and generally keeping up social intercourse with the
flock."

"Well, you will see and hear our services to-day. We have no week-day
services except morning and evening prayer, conducted by probationers and
other volunteers in training for the ministry, which, itself, is only a
larger offering of voluntary service."

"Mr. Oliphant tells me that you pay none of your religious teachers."

"Not one. Except for the repair of churches which were our inheritance
from the past, there is no expense connected with our religious
services."

"Your organists and choir?"

"Give their services as their offering."

"Your church cleaners and pew openers, if such still exist?"

"These also offer their work without payment."

"God forbid that I should make an offering to my God of that which costs
me nothing," said I, quoting David.

"Exactly so!" said St. Bridget, "that is what the devout feel. They
delight to give of their time, and their care, and their thought, and
their prayers, and would feel hurt if they were paid in money or a
money's worth for them."

"But what of the community which accepts this?"

"We learn to accept much from our brethren now-a-days. If each gives his
best for the general good, as you have seen, I am sure in other
departments, surely the devout need not hang back. Most of us are poorer
than the average citizen, because we are tempted to borrow from the hours
which are given to self-supporting work for this labor we delight in.
This is the only asceticism possible to us in these times."

"The clergy of all denominations had great care of the poor a century
ago. In North and East London, and in the great manufacturing towns the
demands on the time and the purse of ministers of religion were enormous.
Countless schemes for the relief and the improvement of the masses were
originated or furthered by them, and many were the disappointments they
met with in this difficult work of charity."

"That branch of duty is saved them now-a-days."

"How do you read Christ's saying--'The poor ye have always with you." Do
you consider it to be only a local and temporary justification of the
splendid lavishness of the devout woman?"

"In the old material sense it is not true now, but it was with Christ's
weapons and in Christ's spirit (though often unconsciously) that we
virtually annihilated poverty. Who that saw the grand self-sacrifice, the
absolute dedication of the noblest souls to the reconstruction of
society, could doubt the source of the movement? But there are always
poorer and richer intellectually, and especially spiritually, and it is
for those who are more highly endowed to aid and encourage the lower and
weaker souls. Our whole framework of society rests on that bearing of
each other's burdens which is helpful to all. Every man, no doubt, bears
his own burden in another sense. Our individual souls have to account to
our Creator for the course they have run, the light they have shed, or
the light they have closed themselves to, or intercepted from others."

"I have been feeling that there seems little or nothing for good, and
pious, and energetic, people to do. In my time the amount to be done was
enormous, though, I confess, that much of our efforts seemed wasted
through our own ignorance and through the weakening of the self-reliant
spirit in those we wished to serve. Still, it was for the time gratified
activity, which was to our happiness. But now--"

"I can see you are somewhat depressed by what seems to you a dead level
of uniformity. To me there appears infinite variety. I feel not only with
strangers, but with the hundred or more who inhabit the Owen Home, such
contrasts, such gradations of character, and every now and then (well as
I know them) I have surprises--things that were quite unlooked-for--either
good or bad."

"Everything is comparative," said I. "As Mr. Oliphant says, the
nineteenth century would have appeared colorless and flat to the feudal
chiefs of the twelfth century, or to the buccaneers of the sixteenth. To
me it was in many ways painful, but it was intensely interesting. I fear
you have forgotten it and its struggles."

"No one who thinks at all can fail to be grateful to the men and women of
that century who saw sympathetically what was the value of humanity. It
was a prophecy not far from its fulfilment."

"And what of its scientific spirit and the long-continued battle it
maintained with the creeds of the churches?"

"A battle, from which both came out victorious. The churches were shaken
to their old foundations, and came out purified and spiritualised. A
century which severed the connection between Church and State, which saw
the destruction of the Pope's temporal power, the source of one-half of
the evils under which the Catholic world groaned, and which reorganised
that ancient church on surer foundations, which inaugurated general
national education, and which, after great bandying of the words,
Religious and Secular, as war cries, at last settled their just
boundaries. Ah! we, of the religion, owe much to that shaking!"

"All the devout, in my day, were alarmed at the secular tendencies of the
age, especially in the matter of education."

"With me, and those who feel with me, there is nothing secular. Every
thing is profoundly religious. I do not believe there is not an
Associated Home in the Commonwealth where there is not one--or more than
one--who gives religious teaching to the little ones, not on Sundays
only, but every day. We follow them to the National Schools, we do not
leave them at the continuation schools. It is no part of the State-paid
teachers' work, but it is the privilege of our volunteers."

"But do not many sceptical parents object to your giving instruction of
which they disapprove?"

"Very few of them go so far as that, though if they do, we respect their
wishes." "And does this make all your people grow up pious?"

"No; certainly not. The proportion of professing Christians is much
smaller than in your day; but no one professes one thing and believes
another. After all, sincerity is the first of virtues."

"But Rome and its mighty hierarchy? Do you mean to tell me that money
does not enter into the relations between priest and people? Why, it was
not the maintenance of the clergy that the devout Catholic paid for, it
was the saving of his own soul and the souls of those dear to him from
purgatorial fires!"

"The first step in the purification of the older Christian Church was the
destruction of the temporal power, and making the Pope merely the
spiritual head of the church, freeing him from the entanglements and the
limitations of an ordinary reigning sovereign. His spiritual power became
greater than it had been for centuries. When all other churches
relinquished their temporalities, Rome had to follow suit. No church ever
contained more devout and devoted souls, and, as a rule, the best
religious work had always been done for nothing. It was the salt of the
volunteer work that saved the mass from utter putrefaction. It still
proclaims itself infallible, indivisible, and unchangeable, but it has,
in fact, maintained its authority and its prestige by adapting itself to
the new conditions of society."

"And what of the celibacy of the clergy?"

"That is maintained, as well as that of many working brothers and
sisters, but all these earn their livelihood like other people, a little
more meagre, generally, because, as I have said, the spiritually-minded
want more for their special work than the ordinary leisure of the
citizen."

"I see another cause of the great average wealth of the community, which
has so much astonished me. Your religious teachers are natural producers,
and not maintained at the cost of the industry of others."

"We find that much of what used to be stigmatised as ecclesiastical
narrowness has disappeared, since our religious teachers ceased to be a
clerical caste. Mr. Oliphant often tells me that my caps and bonnets
possess the balance of my intellect--in fact, keep me sane."

"I hope that the Greek Church has been influenced in the same way as the
Roman, and that the domination of an ignorant and arrogant priesthood has
been exchanged for the helpfulness of an enlightened and sympathetic
ministry."

"It was only suffered to exist on such conditions. The Russian
Revolutionists thought they could destroy the Church as they had
destroyed the throne, but they found themselves mistaken. The mass of the
people felt religion to be a necessity of their nature."

When we reached Westminster Abbey I was glad to find we were early, and I
watched the congregation as it arrived--a plainly-dressed, reverent, and
apparently devout body of men, and women, and children. The prayer book
had undergone a considerable amount of excision and addition. These
happy, contented worshippers no longer called themselves miserable
sinners, or entreated the Good Lord to spare them, as if but for their
anguished petitions hell and destruction were ready to swallow them up.
As children, to a father, they came with their thanks and their desires,
knowing that He loved them, and that if their souls were laid open to
Him, His spirit of goodness and of peace would flow in upon them. There
were pious words of mediaeval saints and of later worthies introduced
into the prayers; some, quite new to me, about which St. Bridget informed
me afterwards. The hymns were mostly new. I regretted this, because I
wished, so much, to recall my own early religious feelings and traditions
in that part of the service in which I could actively join. But I could
not help seeing, with pleasure, that the musical part of the service all
through was congregational.

From every corner swelled the notes of praise. No professional choir did
that service for the worshippers, but hymn and anthem belonged to all.
The responses were mostly musical, but when not so, were simultaneous,
and not following a leader. Beautiful music had surrounded every child
from the day of his birth: it was like the air he breathed, so everyone
seemed to sing, and to sing true in the twentieth century. The reading
was also excellent, and not intoned, but natural.

The subject of the sermon I heard in Westminster Abbey was the "rich
young ruler," in Matthew xix, who sought to know what good thing he
should do that he might have eternal life. The answer of Christ was "If
thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." He said, "Which?" and
Jesus said "Thou shalt do no murder; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou
shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Honor thy father and
thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." All, it may be
observed, duties to our neighbors. The entrance into life depended on the
discharge of them. But, if thou wilt be perfect, "Go, sell all that thou
hast, and give to the poor, and come follow me" The counsel of
perfection, as the Catholic Church often calls it, meant the sharing of
inherited or acquired wealth with those who had nothing, and the devotion
of this life to the spread of the Gospel. The young ruler was able to do
the first, but not to rise to the higher level. A vivid picture of the
old disparities of life was drawn, and Christ represented less as the
mediator between God and man than as the mediator between the rich and
strong in this world, and their poorer and weaker brethren.

Terror, with regard to the unseen and the unknown, seemed to have
completely passed away. In the case of Miss Somerville, belief in the
personal God, in the gracious Redeemer, in the ever immanent Spirit, and
the conscious immortality of the Soul was as strong as it could have been
in the so called ages of faith, but it was combined with the most perfect
confidence that those who did not share her faith might share its
blessings. The theological beliefs of the past had aided in evolving
conscience; the religious organisations still had it as their task to
direct and to strengthen conscience and to gather up all the tender and
reverent feelings of the religious nature of man, and, while doing so,
allied all their religious feelings to the cause of truth and progress.

If in former times St. John's had been the favorite Gospel of the devout,
it was now Luke who was the greatest authority. In his Gospel, and in the
Acts of the Apostles, were found much fore-shadowing of the recent
changes in society. Christ was regarded as the prophet and pioneer of the
social order so long delayed, when each member of the human family should
feel for every other member. Mistake and misapprehension, violence,
ambition and greed, had kept back the unfolding of the Gospel germ for
nearly two thousand years, but to Christ all Christian socialists, and
even many sceptical socialists looked back with gratitude and reverence.
Morality and religion were inextricably woven together. The Fatherhood of
God was apprehended and understood through the brotherhood of man.

Although so many churches were open all day, the Sunday was not kept
rigidly sacred. On Sunday afternoons most of the young people were out of
doors, and many of them engaged in such relaxations as I had seen on the
Saturday afternoon. Miss Somerville spent it in reading of a devotional
character preparatory to an evening service which she conducted, to which
I went with her in a small church not far from the Owen Home. She took as
her subject Communion with God, and I could see that she would indeed
have been a mystic, if she had lived in a darker age. She was penetrated
with the Divine, but yet her daily life kept her in touch with the Human.

I asked her if she did not, in some ways, regret the past of which she
had made a study, and the heroes and heroines, the saints and ascetics,
of the churches whom she loved and admired so much.

"No," said she, "by no means. Surely the God whom we all worship, more or
less ignorantly, must be better pleased with a world in which there is
less prayer but more happiness, and less cruelty, oppression and greed.
Can there be any praise sweeter to our Heavenly Father than the happy
unchecked laughter of children, the hopeful ardor of youth, the earnest
endeavors of mature years, the placid contentment of old age? We no
longer look on Him as the Lord of Hosts, the arbiter of battles, as our
ancestors did, but we see that the millenial peace dreamed of by pious
souls in all ages has fallen upon the earth. Woman is no longer degraded
as the slave or the toy of man, but takes her equal place in all
relations of life. No child is crushed beneath the wheels of the
Juggernaut car of commercial prosperity or ascendancy. The distinctions
of caste are obliterated. The slave is free, the serf is his own master,
the laborer eats in peace and security the fruits of his toil. Surely
now, if ever in the history of our earth, the Lord may look on the things
that he has made and pronounce them 'very good.'"

My week has come to an end. Short though it has been, it has been full of
interest, full of all that I have accounted life. A good exchange for a
year or two of mere existence.

"Now, Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace, now that I have seen the
salvation wrought by brotherhood for the families of the earth."


THE END






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