« PoprzedniaDalej »
But does the struggle cease ? By no means. It merely changes form. It becomes more refined, less heroic. It is conducted now as a rule without violence, and with its conditions regulated by a body of law. Glory, bodily function, generous risk upon the field, -none of these things now decorate its mercilessness. The characteristics which give success now are not those which were valuable in the armed struggle. Subtlety, craft, cold, determined avarice, boldness in manipulating prices, readiness to profit by misfortune of others, -the mercenary, not the martial, instincts furnish the endowments which are now availing, and which are now chosen for survival. At the beginning of the commercial era, the producer prospers, as the great guild halls of thirteenth century and fourteenth century Europe attest. Then merchant adventurers like Child and Boulton have their turn; but in the end those slier intellects who perceive the possibility of dealing no longer in commodities, but in money,—the gentry headed by the Landgrave of Hesse's Court-Jew, Mayer of the Red Shield, the Lloyds, the Barings, the Goldschmidts, the Morgans; these, by the inevitable process with which modern science has become so familiar, become the lords. I am entirely dispassionate, and perhaps I had better term them princes, though why it should be thought nicer to be called a commercial prince than a money lord, I don't understand. These persons are the flower and crown of society as it is to-day; to them belong the highest titles, the utmost honour; the race owes them its blessings and its prayers for the multiplication of their progeny. Provided, that is, that competition for material possession be a proper principle upon which to establish society. We have thought it such. We have honoured the mercantile principle by magnificent temples, in days when it appears impossible to build God a decent church, and by reserving the sanctions of life for our most successful mercenaries. Under our enthusiastic encouragement, mercenary ability has been in wide circles sharpened and strengthened. Our acceptance of the principle of contest for possession has enthroned the Rothschilds, and its continued acceptance will perpetuate their ascendency and accomplish the extinction of such human creatures as are not adapted to the commercial struggle. The process of evolution has culled an aristocracy of usurers.
The selected type is to-day the money-dealer, in Bombay the Marwari, in London the Jew.20
Now, it is useless, it is absurd and unmanly, to quarrel with the law by which those who possess appropriate talents become the rulers of the society to which they are peculiarly adapted. If we object to the character of those who are exalted, our recourse is to change the trend of the process by giving the struggle another object. Let us not quarrel with the law. It seems disastrous; may it not be able to reveal itself as beneficent? It has produced ignoble types; may it not be capable of producing great ones? By its operation great soldiers have been developed, and great money lords; is it not conceivable that it may yet bring forth great saints ?
Suppose it were to come about that men were convinced that not gain but giving, not success but service, is the proper object of their competition. Imagine the contest for acquisition transformed into one of generosity. Conceive what the evolutionary process would work out were men to compete in sacrifices, were they to seek to give their labour to others instead of obtaining that of others for themselves. What a type of man would be the result! Would it not be that the ensample of which appeared in Him to whose obedience I am calling you ? Would there not result the collapse of the ascendency of wealth, and the selection for survival of those gifted in the qualities of unselfishness and humility? Is not the prophecy of the Son of Man conceivably a statement of the outcome of the process, seen by its author and representative as one born out of due time ?-" The meek shall inherit the earth.” Is not such a consummation of the law just that to which looks the great hymn of democracy which the Church sings daily? ' He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.” The humble and meek, those who are to be exalted, the ultimate selection, the realiza
tion of the effort of the long course of human history,-may it not be that they are the humiliores” of Tacitus,“ quos vulgos Christianos appellabat"?
This is precisely what the obedient must look for and direct their energies to hasten. It must be asserted—asserted by the vivid speech of lives committed to its truth--that material acquisition is not the true end of human endeavour; that prosperity is not
worth one pang of effort, nor its absence of regret. Some fine scorn of it all must make it understood that nothing is so extremely vulgar as “success. .” There must stand up an order of men who repudiate the ordinary objects of toil. There must be organized a concert of men who, by calmly denying them, will confound the conventional standards of the world. There must arise an aristocracy of men who might “ succeed," but will not; who might acquire wealth, power, position, fame, but decline to do so; who, having within reach all that men now spend their lives striving for, despise it, preferring to the pleasure of getting the joy of giving.