The journey, which I remember well, was very pleasant. I made friends with many people on the train. One lady gave me a box of shells. My father made holes in these so that I could string them, and for a long time they kept me happy and contented. The conductor, too, was kind. Often when he went his rounds I clung to his coat tails while he collected and punched the tickets.
His punch, with which he let me play, was a delightful toy. Curled up in a corner of the seat I amused myself for hours making funny little holes in bits of cardboard. My aunt made me a big doll out of towels. It was the most comical, shapeless thing, this improvised doll, with no nose, mouth, ears or eyes—nothing that even the imagination of a child could convert into a face. Curiously enough, the absence of eyes struck me more than all the other defects put together. I pointed this out to everybody with provoking persistency, but no one seemed equal to the task of providing the doll with eyes.
A bright idea, however, shot into my mind, and the problem was solved. I tumbled off the seat and searched under it until I found my aunt's cape, which was trimmed with large beads. I pulled two beads off and indicated to her that I wanted her to sew them on doll. She raised my hand to her eyes in a questioning way, and I nodded energetically.
The beads were sewed in the right place and I could not contain myself for joy; but immediately I lost all interest in the doll. During the whole trip I did not have one fit of temper, there were so many things to keep my mind and fingers busy. When we arrived in Baltimore, Dr. Chisholm received us kindly: but he could do nothing. He said, however, that I could be educated, and advised my father to consult Dr.
Alexander Graham Bell, of Washington, who would be able to give him information about schools and teachers of deaf or blind children. Acting on the doctor's advice, we went immediately to Washington to see Dr. Bell, my father with a sad heart and many misgivings, I wholly unconscious of his anguish, finding pleasure in the excitement of moving from place to place. Child as I was, I at once felt the tenderness and sympathy which endeared Dr. Bell to so many hearts, as his wonderful achievements enlist their admiration. He held me on his knee while I examined his watch, and he made it strike for me.
He understood my signs, and I knew it and loved him at once. But I did not dream that that interview would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light, from isolation to friendship, companionship, knowledge, love. Bell advised my father to write to Mr. Anagnos, director of the Perkins Institution in Boston, the scene of Dr. Howe's great labours for the blind, and ask him if he had a teacher competent to begin my education. This my father did at once, and in a few weeks there came a kind letter from Mr.
Anagnos with the comforting assurance that a teacher had been found. This was in the summer of But Miss Sullivan did not arrive until the following March. Thus I came up out of Egypt and stood before Sinai, and a power divine touched my spirit and gave it sight, so that I beheld many wonders. And from the sacred mountain I heard a voice which said, "Knowledge is love and light and vision.
I am filled with wonder when I consider the immeasurable contrasts between the two lives which it connects. It was the third of March, , three months before I was seven years old. On the afternoon of that eventful day, I stood on the porch, dumb, expectant. I guessed vaguely from my mother's signs and from the hurrying to and fro in the house that something unusual was about to happen, so I went to the door and waited on the steps.
The afternoon sun penetrated the mass of honeysuckle that covered the porch, and fell on my upturned face. My fingers lingered almost unconsciously on the familiar leaves and blossoms which had just come forth to greet the sweet southern spring. I did not know what the future held of marvel or surprise for me. Anger and bitterness had preyed upon me continually for weeks and a deep languor had succeeded this passionate struggle. Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?
I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. I felt approaching footsteps. I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all things else, to love me. The morning after my teacher came she led me into her room and gave me a doll. The little blind children at the Perkins Institution had sent it and Laura Bridgman had dressed it; but I did not know this until afterward.
When I had played with it a little while, Miss Sullivan slowly spelled into my hand the word "d-o-l-l. When I finally succeeded in making the letters correctly I was flushed with childish pleasure and pride. Running downstairs to my mother I held up my hand and made the letters for doll. I did not know that I was spelling a word or even that words existed; I was simply making my fingers go in monkey-like imitation. In the days that followed I learned to spell in this uncomprehending way a great many words, among them pin, hat, cup and a few verbs like sit, stand and walk.
But my teacher had been with me several weeks before I understood that everything has a name. One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big rag doll into my lap also, spelled "d-o-l-l" and tried to make me understand that "d-o-l-l" applied to both. Earlier in the day we had had a tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r.
In despair she had dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first opportunity. I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor. I was keenly delighted when I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet. Neither sorrow nor regret followed my passionate outburst. I had not loved the doll. In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment of tenderness. I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my discomfort was removed.
She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure. We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly.
I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together.
Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow. I learned a great many new words that day. I do not remember what they all were; but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them—words that were to make the world blossom for me, "like Aaron's rod, with flowers. I did nothing but explore with my hands and learn the name of every object that I touched; and the more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous and confident grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world.
When the time of daisies and buttercups came Miss Sullivan took me by the hand across the fields, where men were preparing the earth for the seed, to the banks of the Tennessee River, and there, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter.
As my knowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister's hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature, and made me feel that "birds and flowers and I were happy peers.
One day my teacher and I were returning from a long ramble. The morning had been fine, but it was growing warm and sultry when at last we turned our faces homeward. Two or three times we stopped to rest under a tree by the wayside. Our last halt was under a wild cherry tree a short distance from the house. The shade was grateful, and the tree was so easy to climb that with my teacher's assistance I was able to scramble to a seat in the branches.
It was so cool up in the tree that Miss Sullivan proposed that we have our luncheon there. I promised to keep still while she went to the house to fetch it. Suddenly a change passed over the tree. All the sun's warmth left the air. I knew the sky was black, because all the heat, which meant light to me, had died out of the atmosphere.
A strange odour came up from the earth. I knew it, it was the odour that always precedes a thunderstorm, and a nameless fear clutched at my heart. I felt absolutely alone, cut off from my friends and the firm earth. The immense, the unknown, enfolded me. I remained still and expectant; a chilling terror crept over me. I longed for my teacher's return; but above all things I wanted to get down from that tree.
There was a moment of sinister silence, then a multitudinous stirring of the leaves. A shiver ran through the tree, and the wind sent forth a blast that would have knocked me off had I not clung to the branch with might and main. The tree swayed and strained. The small twigs snapped and fell about me in showers. A wild impulse to jump seized me, but terror held me fast. I crouched down in the fork of the tree. The branches lashed about me. I felt the intermittent jarring that came now and then, as if something heavy had fallen and the shock had traveled up till it reached the limb I sat on.
It worked my suspense up to the highest point, and just as I was thinking the tree and I should fall together, my teacher seized my hand and helped me down. I clung to her, trembling with joy to feel the earth under my feet once more. I had learned a new lesson—that nature "wages open war against her children, and under softest touch hides treacherous claws. The mere thought filled me with terror. It was the sweet allurement of the mimosa tree in full bloom that finally overcame my fears. One beautiful spring morning when I was alone in the summer-house, reading, I became aware of a wonderful subtle fragrance in the air.
I started up and instinctively stretched out my hands. It seemed as if the spirit of spring had passed through the summer-house. I felt my way to the end of the garden, knowing that the mimosa tree was near the fence, at the turn of the path. Yes, there it was, all quivering in the warm sunshine, its blossom-laden branches almost touching the long grass.
Was there ever anything so exquisitely beautiful in the world before! Its delicate blossoms shrank from the slightest earthly touch; it seemed as if a tree of paradise had been transplanted to earth. I made my way through a shower of petals to the great trunk and for one minute stood irresolute; then, putting my foot in the broad space between the forked branches, I pulled myself up into the tree.
I had some difficulty in holding on, for the branches were very large and the bark hurt my hands. But I had a delicious sense that I was doing something unusual and wonderful, so I kept on climbing higher and higher, until I reached a little seat which somebody had built there so long ago that it had grown part of the tree itself. I sat there for a long, long time, feeling like a fairy on a rosy cloud. After that I spent many happy hours in my tree of paradise, thinking fair thoughts and dreaming bright dreams.
Children who hear acquire language without any particular effort; the words that fall from others' lips they catch on the wing, as it were, delightedly, while the little deaf child must trap them by a slow and often painful process. But whatever the process, the result is wonderful. Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.
At first, when my teacher told me about a new thing I asked very few questions. My ideas were vague, and my vocabulary was inadequate; but as my knowledge of things grew, and I learned more and more words, my field of inquiry broadened, and I would return again and again to the same subject, eager for further information.
Sometimes a new word revived an image that some earlier experience had engraved on my brain. I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word, "love. I had found a few early violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher. She tried to kiss me: but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except my mother. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, "I love Helen. She drew me closer to her and said, "It is here," pointing to my heart, whose beats I was conscious of for the first time.
Her words puzzled me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I touched it. I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in signs, a question which meant, "Is love the sweetness of flowers? Again I thought. The warm sun was shining on us. But Miss Sullivan shook her head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed. I thought it strange that my teacher could not show me love. A day or two afterward I was stringing beads of different sizes in symmetrical groups—two large beads, three small ones, and so on.
I had made many mistakes, and Miss Sullivan had pointed them out again and again with gentle patience. Finally I noticed a very obvious error in the sequence and for an instant I concentrated my attention on the lesson and tried to think how I should have arranged the beads. Miss Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, "Think. This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea.
For a long time I was still—I was not thinking of the beads in my lap, but trying to find a meaning for "love" in the light of this new idea. The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour. Again, I asked my teacher, "Is this not love?
Then in simpler words than these, which at that time I could not have understood, she explained: "You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play. From the beginning of my education Miss Sullivan made it a practice to speak to me as she would to any hearing child; the only difference was that she spelled the sentences into my hand instead of speaking them.
If I did not know the words and idioms necessary to express my thoughts she supplied them, even suggesting conversation when I was unable to keep up my end of the dialogue. This process was continued for several years; for the deaf child does not learn in a month, or even in two or three years, the numberless idioms and expressions used in the simplest daily intercourse. The little hearing child learns these from constant repetition and imitation. The conversation he hears in his home stimulates his mind and suggests topics and calls forth the spontaneous expression of his own thoughts.
This natural exchange of ideas is denied to the deaf child. My teacher, realizing this, determined to supply the kinds of stimulus I lacked. This she did by repeating to me as far as possible, verbatim what she heard, and by showing me how I could take part in the conversation. But it was a long time before I ventured to take the initiative, and still longer before I could find something appropriate to say at the right time.
The deaf and the blind find it very difficult to acquire the amenities of conversation. How much more this difficulty must be augmented in the case of those who are both deaf and blind! They cannot distinguish the tone of the voice or, without assistance, go up and down the gamut of tones that give significance to words; nor can they watch the expression of the speaker's face, and a look is often the very soul of what one says.
THE next important step in my education was learning to read. As soon as I could spell a few words my teacher gave me slips of cardboard on which were printed words in raised letters. I quickly learned that each printed word stood for an object, an act, or a quality. I had a frame in which I could arrange the words in little sentences; but before I ever put sentences in the frame I used to make them in objects.
I found the slips of paper which represented, for example, "doll," "is," "on," "bed" and placed each name on its object; then I put my doll on the bed with the words is, on, bed arranged beside the doll, thus making a sentence out of the words, and at the same time carrying out the idea of the sentence with the things themselves. One day, Miss Sullivan tells me, I pinned the word girl on my pinafore and stood in the wardrobe.
On the shelf I arranged the words, is, in, wardrobe. Nothing delighted me so much as this game. My teacher and I played it for hours at a time. Often everything in the room was arranged in object sentences. From the printed slip it was but a step to the printed book. I took my "Reader for Beginners" and hunted for the words I knew; when I found them my joy was like that of a game of hide-and-seek.
Thus I began to read. Of the time when I began to read connected stories I shall speak later. For a long time I had no regular lessons. Even when I studied most earnestly it seemed more like play than work. Everything Miss Sullivan taught me she illustrated by a beautiful story or a poem. Whenever anything delighted or interested me she talked it over with me just as if she were a little girl herself. What many children think of with dread, as a painful plodding through grammar, hard sums and harder definitions, is to-day one of my most precious memories.
I cannot explain the peculiar sympathy Miss Sullivan had with my pleasures and desires. Perhaps it was the result of long association with the blind. Added to this she had a wonderful faculty for description. She went quickly over uninteresting details, and never nagged me with questions to see if I remembered the day-before-yesterday's lesson.
She introduced dry technicalities of science little by little, making every subject so real that I could not help remembering what she taught. We read and studied out of doors, preferring the sunlit woods to the house. All my early lessons have in them the breath of the woods—the fine, resinous odour of pine needles, blended with the perfume of wild grapes. Seated in the gracious shade of a wild tulip tree, I learned to think that everything has a lesson and a suggestion. I felt the bursting cotton-bolls and fingered their soft fiber and fuzzy seeds; I felt the low soughing of the wind through the cornstalks, the silky rustling of the long leaves, and the indignant snort of my pony, as we caught him in the pasture and put the bit in his mouth—ah me!
Sometimes I rose at dawn and stole into the garden while the heavy dew lay on the grass and flowers. Few know what joy it is to feel the roses pressing softly into the hand, or the beautiful motion of the lilies as they sway in the morning breeze. Sometimes I caught an insect in the flower I was plucking, and I felt the faint noise of a pair of wings rubbed together in a sudden terror, as the little creature became aware of a pressure from without.
Another favourite haunt of mine was the orchard, where the fruit ripened early in July. The large, downy peaches would reach themselves into my hand, and as the joyous breezes flew about the trees the apples tumbled at my feet. Oh, the delight with which I gathered up the fruit in my pinafore, pressed my face against the smooth cheeks of the apples, still warm from the sun, and skipped back to the house! Our favourite walk was to Keller's Landing, an old tumble-down lumber-wharf on the Tennessee River, used during the Civil War to land soldiers. There we spent many happy hours and played at learning geography.
I built dams of pebbles, made islands and lakes, and dug river-beds, all for fun, and never dreamed that I was learning a lesson. I listened with increasing wonder to Miss Sullivan's descriptions of the great round world with its burning mountains, buried cities, moving rivers of ice, and many other things as strange. She made raised maps in clay, so that I could feel the mountain ridges and valleys, and follow with my fingers the devious course of rivers. I liked this, too; but the division of the earth into zones and poles confused and teased my mind.
The illustrative strings and the orange stick representing the poles seemed so real that even to this day the mere mention of temperate zone suggests a series of twine circles; and I believe that if any one should set about it he could convince me that white bears actually climb the North Pole. Arithmetic seems to have been the only study I did not like. From the first I was not interested in the science of numbers. Miss Sullivan tried to teach me to count by stringing beads in groups, and by arranging kindergarten straws I learned to add and subtract. I never had patience to arrange more than five or six groups at a time.
When I had accomplished this my conscience was at rest for the day, and I went out quickly to find my playmates. Once a gentleman, whose name I have forgotten, sent me a collection of fossils—tiny mollusk shells beautifully marked, and bits of sandstone with the print of birds' claws, and a lovely fern in bas-relief. These were the keys which unlocked the treasures of the antediluvian world for me.
With trembling fingers I listened to Miss Sullivan's descriptions of the terrible beasts, with uncouth, unpronounceable names, which once went tramping through the primeval forests, tearing down the branches of gigantic trees for food, and died in the dismal swamps of an unknown age. For a long time these strange creatures haunted my dreams, and this gloomy period formed a somber background to the joyous Now, filled with sunshine and roses and echoing with the gentle beat of my pony's hoof. Another time a beautiful shell was given me, and with a child's surprise and delight I learned how a tiny mollusk had built the lustrous coil for his dwelling place, and how on still nights, when there is no breeze stirring the waves, the Nautilus sails on the blue waters of the Indian Ocean in his "ship of pearl.
Just as the wonder-working mantle of the Nautilus changes the material it absorbs from the water and makes it a part of itself, so the bits of knowledge one gathers undergo a similar change and become pearls of thought. Again, it was the growth of a plant that furnished the text for a lesson. We bought a lily and set it in a sunny window. Very soon the green, pointed buds showed signs of opening. The slender, fingerlike leaves on the outside opened slowly, reluctant, I thought, to reveal the loveliness they hid; once having made a start, however, the opening process went on rapidly, but in order and systematically.
There was always one bud larger and more beautiful than the rest, which pushed her outer covering back with more pomp, as if the beauty in soft, silky robes knew that she was the lily-queen by right divine, while her more timid sisters doffed their green hoods shyly, until the whole plant was one nodding bough of loveliness and fragrance.
Once there were eleven tadpoles in a glass globe set in a window full of plants. I remember the eagerness with which I made discoveries about them. It was great fun to plunge my hand into the bowl and feel the tadpoles frisk about, and to let them slip and slide between my fingers. One day a more ambitious fellow leaped beyond the edge of the bowl and fell on the floor, where I found him to all appearance more dead than alive. The only sign of life was a slight wriggling of his tail. But no sooner had he returned to his element than he darted to the bottom, swimming round and round in joyous activity.
He had made his leap, he had seen the great world, and was content to stay in his pretty glass house under the big fuchsia tree until he attained the dignity of froghood. Then he went to live in the leafy pool at the end of the garden, where he made the summer nights musical with his quaint love-song. Thus I learned from life itself. At the beginning I was only a little mass of possibilities. It was my teacher who unfolded and developed them. When she came, everything about me breathed of love and joy and was full of meaning. She has never since let pass an opportunity to point out the beauty that is in everything, nor has she ceased trying in thought and action and example to make my life sweet and useful.
It was my teacher's genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me. She realized that a child's mind is like a shallow brook which ripples and dances merrily over the stony course of its education and reflects here a flower, there a bush, yonder a fleecy cloud; and she attempted to guide my mind on its way, knowing that like a brook it should be fed by mountain streams and hidden springs, until it broadened out into a deep river, capable of reflecting in its placid surface, billowy hills, the luminous shadows of trees and the blue heavens, as well as the sweet face of a little flower.
Any teacher can take a child to the classroom, but not every teacher can make him learn. He will not work joyously unless he feels that liberty is his, whether he is busy or at rest; he must feel the flush of victory and the heart-sinking of disappointment before he takes with a will the tasks distasteful to him and resolves to dance his way bravely through a dull routine of textbooks.
My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. How much of my delight in all beautiful things is innate, and how much is due to her influence, I can never tell. I feel that her being is inseparable from my own, and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her—there is not a talent, or an aspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch. Every one in the family prepared surprises for me, but what pleased me most, Miss Sullivan and I prepared surprises for everybody else. The mystery that surrounded the gifts was my greatest delight and amusement.
My friends did all they could to excite my curiosity by hints and half-spelled sentences which they pretended to break off in the nick of time. Miss Sullivan and I kept up a game of guessing which taught me more about the use of language than any set of lessons could have done. Every evening, seated round a glowing wood fire, we played our guessing game, which grew more and more exciting as Christmas approached. On Christmas Eve the Tuscumbia schoolchildren had their tree, to which they invited me. In the centre of the schoolroom stood a beautiful tree ablaze and shimmering in the soft light, its branches loaded with strange, wonderful fruit.
Rebecca Brown – Don’t Bind Yourself in her Books
It was a moment of supreme happiness. I danced and capered around the tree in an ecstasy. When I learned that there was a gift for each child, I was delighted, and the kind people who had prepared the tree permitted me to hand the presents to the children. In the pleasure of doing this, I did not stop to look at my own gifts; but when I was ready for them, my impatience for the real Christmas to begin almost got beyond control.
I knew the gifts I already had were not those of which friends had thrown out such tantalizing hints, and my teacher said the presents I was to have would be even nicer than these. I was persuaded, however, to content myself with the gifts from the tree and leave the others until morning. That night, after I had hung my stocking, I lay awake a long time, pretending to be asleep and keeping alert to see what Santa Claus would do when he came.
At last I fell asleep with a new doll and a white bear in my arms. Next morning it was I who waked the whole family with my first "Merry Christmas! But when my teacher presented me with a canary, my cup of happiness overflowed. Little Tim was so tame that he would hop on my finger and eat candied cherries out of my hand. Miss Sullivan taught me to take all the care of my new pet. Every morning after breakfast I prepared his bath, made his cage clean and sweet, filled his cups with fresh seed and water from the well-house, and hung a spray of chickweed in his swing.
One morning I left the cage on the window-seat while I went to fetch water for his bath. When I returned I felt a big cat brush past me as I opened the door. At first I did not realize what had happened; but when I put my hand in the cage and Tim's pretty wings did not meet my touch or his small pointed claws take hold of my finger, I knew that I should never see my sweet little singer again.
As if it were yesterday I remember the preparations, the departure with my teacher and my mother, the journey, and finally the arrival in Boston. How different this journey was from the one I had made to Baltimore two years before! I was no longer a restless, excitable little creature, requiring the attention of everybody on the train to keep me amused.
I sat quietly beside Miss Sullivan, taking in with eager interest all that she told me about what she saw out of the car window: the beautiful Tennessee River, the great cotton-fields, the hills and woods, and the crowds of laughing negroes at the stations, who waved to the people on the train and brought delicious candy and popcorn balls through the car.
On the seat opposite me sat my big rag doll, Nancy, in a new gingham dress and a beruffled sunbonnet, looking at me out of two bead eyes. Sometimes, when I was not absorbed in Miss Sullivan's descriptions, I remembered Nancy's existence and took her up in my arms, but I generally calmed my conscience by making myself believe that she was asleep.
As I shall not have occasion to refer to Nancy again, I wish to tell here a sad experience she had soon after our arrival in Boston. She was covered with dirt—the remains of mud pies I had compelled her to eat, although she had never shown any special liking for them. The laundress at the Perkins Institution secretly carried her off to give her a bath. This was too much for poor Nancy. When I next saw her she was a formless heap of cotton, which I should not have recognized at all except for the two bead eyes which looked out at me reproachfully. When the train at last pulled into the station at Boston it was as if a beautiful fairy tale had come true.
The "once upon a time" was now; the "far-away country" was here.
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We had scarcely arrived at the Perkins Institution for the Blind when I began to make friends with the little blind children. It delighted me inexpressibly to find that they knew the manual alphabet. What joy to talk with other children in my own language! Until then I had been like a foreigner speaking through an interpreter.
In the school where Laura Bridgman was taught I was in my own country. It took me some time to appreciate the fact that my new friends were blind. I knew I could not see; but it did not seem possible that all the eager, loving children who gathered round me and joined heartily in my frolics were also blind. I remember the surprise and the pain I felt as I noticed that they placed their hands over mine when I talked to them and that they read books with their fingers. Although I had been told this before, and although I understood my own deprivations, yet I had thought vaguely that since they could hear, they must have a sort of "second sight," and I was not prepared to find one child and another and yet another deprived of the same precious gift.
But they were so happy and contented that I lost all sense of pain in the pleasure of their companionship. One day spent with the blind children made me feel thoroughly at home in my new environment, and I looked eagerly from one pleasant experience to another as the days flew swiftly by. I could not quite convince myself that there was much world left, for I regarded Boston as the beginning and the end of creation. While we were in Boston we visited Bunker Hill, and there I had my first lesson in history.
The story of the brave men who had fought on the spot where we stood excited me greatly. I climbed the monument, counting the steps, and wondering as I went higher and yet higher if the soldiers had climbed this great stairway and shot at the enemy on the ground below. The next day we went to Plymouth by water. This was my first trip on the ocean and my first voyage in a steamboat.
How full of life and motion it was! But the rumble of the machinery made me think it was thundering, and I began to cry, because I feared if it rained we should not be able to have our picnic out of doors. I was more interested, I think, in the great rock on which the Pilgrims landed than in anything else in Plymouth.
I could touch it, and perhaps that made the coming of the Pilgrims and their toils and great deeds seem more real to me. I have often held in my hand a little model of the Plymouth Rock which a kind gentleman gave me at Pilgrim Hall, and I have fingered its curves, the split in the centre and the embossed figures "," and turned over in my mind all that I knew about the wonderful story of the Pilgrims. How my childish imagination glowed with the splendour of their enterprise! I idealized them as the bravest and most generous men that ever sought a home in a strange land.
I thought they desired the freedom of their fellow men as well as their own. I was keenly surprised and disappointed years later to learn of their acts of persecution that make us tingle with shame, even while we glory in the courage and energy that gave us our "Country Beautiful. William Endicott and his daughter. Their kindness to me was the seed from which many pleasant memories have since grown. One day we visited their beautiful home at Beverly Farms. I remember with delight how I went through their rose-garden, how their dogs, big Leo and little curly-haired Fritz with long ears, came to meet me, and how Nimrod, the swiftest of the horses, poked his nose into my hands for a pat and a lump of sugar.
I also remember the beach, where for the first time I played in the sand. It was hard, smooth sand, very different from the loose, sharp sand, mingled with kelp and shells, at Brewster. Endicott told me about the great ships that came sailing by from Boston, bound for Europe.
I saw him many times after that, and he was always a good friend to me; indeed, I was thinking of him when I called Boston "The City of Kind Hearts. I was delighted, for my mind was full of the prospective joys and of the wonderful stories I had heard about the sea. My most vivid recollection of that summer is the ocean. I had always lived far inland, and had never had so much as a whiff of salt air; but I had read in a big book called "Our World" a description of the ocean which filled me with wonder and an intense longing to touch the mighty sea and feel it roar.
So my little heart leaped with eager excitement when I knew that my wish was at last to be realized. No sooner had I been helped into my bathing-suit than I sprang out upon the warm sand and without thought of fear plunged into the cool water. I felt the great billows rock and sink. The buoyant motion of the water filled me with an exquisite, quivering joy. Suddenly my ecstasy gave place to terror; for my foot struck against a rock and the next instant there was a rush of water over my head. I thrust out my hands to grab some support, I clutched at the water and at the seaweed which the waves tossed in my face.
But all my frantic efforts were in vain. The waves seemed to be playing a game with me, and tossed me from one to another in their wild frolic. It was fearful! The good, firm earth had slipped from my feet, and everything seemed shut out from this strange, all-enveloping element—life, air, warmth, and love. At last, however, the sea, as if weary of its new toy, threw me back on the shore, and in another instant I was clasped in my teacher's arms.
Oh, the comfort of the long, tender embrace! As soon as I had recovered from my panic sufficiently to say anything, I demanded: "Who put salt in the water? I felt the pebbles rattling as the waves threw their ponderous weight against the shore; the whole beach seemed racked by their terrific onset, and the air throbbed with their pulsations. The breakers would swoop back to gather themselves for a mightier leap, and I clung to the rock, tense, fascinated, as I felt the dash and roar of the rushing sea! I could never stay long enough on the shore.
The tang of the untainted, fresh and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought, and the shells and pebbles and the seaweed with tiny living creatures attached to it never lost their fascination for me. One day, Miss Sullivan attracted my attention to a strange object which she had captured basking in the chilly water. It was a great horseshoe crab—the first one I had ever seen. I felt of him and thought it strange that he should carry his house on his back. It suddenly occurred to me that he might make a delightful pet; so I seized him by the tail with both hands and carried him home.
This feat pleased me highly, as his body was very heavy, and it took all my strength to drag him half a mile.
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I would not leave Miss Sullivan in peace until she had put the crab in a trough near the well where I was confident he would be secure. But the next morning I went to the trough, and lo, he had disappeared! Nobody knew where he had gone, or how he had escaped. My disappointment was bitter at the time; but little by little I came to realize that it was not kind or wise to force this poor dumb creature out of his element, and after awhile I felt happy in the thought that perhaps he had returned to the sea.
As I recall that visit North I am filled with wonder at the richness and variety of the experiences that cluster about it. It seems to have been the beginning of everything. The treasures of a new, beautiful world were laid at my feet, and I took in pleasure and information at every turn. I lived myself into all things. I was never still a moment; my life was as full of motion as those little insects which crowd a whole existence into one brief day.
I had met many people who talked with me by spelling into my hand, and thought in joyous symphony leaped up to meet thought, and behold, a miracle had been wrought! The barren places between my mind and the minds of others blossomed like the rose. I spent the autumn months with my family at our summer cottage, on a mountain about fourteen miles from Tuscumbia.
It was called Fern Quarry, because near it there was a limestone quarry, long since abandoned. Three frolicsome little streams ran through it from springs in the rocks above, leaping here and tumbling there in laughing cascades wherever the rocks tried to bar their way. The opening was filled with ferns which completely covered the beds of limestone and in places hid the streams. The rest of the mountain was thickly wooded.
Here were great oaks and splendid evergreens with trunks like mossy pillars, from the branches of which hung garlands of ivy and mistletoe, and persimmon trees, the odour of which pervaded every nook and corner of the wood—an illusive, fragrant something that made the heart glad. In places, the wild muscadine and scuppernong vines stretched from tree to tree, making arbours which were always full of butterflies and buzzing insects.
It was delightful to lose ourselves in the green hollows of that tangled wood in the late afternoon, and to smell the cool, delicious odours that came up from the earth at the close of day. Our cottage was a sort of rough camp, beautifully situated on the top of the mountain among oaks and pines. The small rooms were arranged on each side of a long open hall. Round the house was a wide piazza, where the mountain winds blew, sweet with all wood-scents. We lived on the piazza most of the time—there we worked, ate and played. At the back door there was a great butternut tree, round which the steps had been built, and in front the trees stood so close that I could touch them and feel the wind shake their branches, or the leaves twirl downward in the autumn blast.
Many visitors came to Fern Quarry. In the evening, by the campfire, the men played cards and whiled away the hours in talk and sport. They told stories of their wonderful feats with fowl, fish, and quadruped—how many wild ducks and turkeys they had shot, what "savage trout" they had caught, and how they had bagged the craftiest foxes, outwitted the most clever 'possums, and overtaken the fleetest deer, until I thought that surely the lion, the tiger, the bear, and the rest of the wild tribe would not be able to stand before these wily hunters.
The men slept in the hall outside our door, and I could feel the deep breathing of the dogs and the hunters as they lay on their improvised beds. At dawn I was awakened by the smell of coffee, the rattling of guns, and the heavy footsteps of the men as they strode about, promising themselves the greatest luck of the season. I could also feel the stamping of the horses, which they had ridden out from town and hitched under the trees, where they stood all night, neighing loudly, impatient to be off.
At last the men mounted, and, as they say in the old songs, away went the steeds with bridles ringing and whips cracking and hounds racing ahead, and away went the champion hunters "with hark and whoop and wild halloo! A fire was kindled at the bottom of a deep hole in the ground, big sticks were laid crosswise at the top, and meat was hung from them and turned on spits. Around the fire squatted negroes, driving away the flies with long branches.
The savoury odour of the meat made me hungry long before the tables were set. When the bustle and excitement of preparation was at its height, the hunting party made its appearance, struggling in by twos and threes, the men hot and weary, the horses covered with foam, and the jaded hounds panting and dejected—and not a single kill! Every man declared that he had seen at least one deer, and that the animal had come very close; but however hotly the dogs might pursue the game, however well the guns might be aimed, at the snap of the trigger there was not a deer in sight. They had been as fortunate as the little boy who said he came very near seeing a rabbit—he saw his tracks.
The party soon forgot its disappointment, however, and we sat down, not to venison, but to a tamer feast of veal and roast pig. One summer I had my pony at Fern Quarry. I called him Black Beauty, as I had just read the book, and he resembled his namesake in every way, from his glossy black coat to the white star on his forehead. I spent many of my happiest hours on his back. Occasionally, when it was quite safe, my teacher would let go the leading-rein, and the pony sauntered on or stopped at his sweet will to eat grass or nibble the leaves of the trees that grew beside the narrow trail.
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On mornings when I did not care for the ride, my teacher and I would start after breakfast for a ramble in the woods, and allow ourselves to get lost amid the trees and vines, and with no road to follow except the paths made by cows and horses. Frequently we came upon impassable thickets which forced us to take a roundabout way. We always returned to the cottage with armfuls of laurel, goldenrod, ferns, and gorgeous swamp-flowers such as grow only in the South. Sometimes I would go with Mildred and my little cousins to gather persimmons.
I did not eat them; but I loved their fragrance and enjoyed hunting for them in the leaves and grass. We also went nutting, and I helped them open the chestnut burrs and break the shells of hickory-nuts and walnuts—the big, sweet walnuts! At the foot of the mountain there was a railroad, and the children watched the trains whiz by. Sometimes a terrific whistle brought us to the steps, and Mildred told me in great excitement that a cow or a horse had strayed on the track. About a mile distant, there was a trestle spanning a deep gorge. It was very difficult to walk over, the ties were wide apart and so narrow that one felt as if one were walking on knives.
I had never crossed it until one day Mildred, Miss Sullivan and I were lost in the woods, and wandered for hours without finding a path. Suddenly Mildred pointed with her little hand and exclaimed, "There's the trestle! I had to feel for the rails with my toe; but I was not afraid, and got on very well, until all at once there came a faint "puff, puff" from the distance. I felt the hot breath from the engine on my face, and the smoke and ashes almost choked us. As the train rumbled by, the trestle shook and swayed until I thought we should be dashed to the chasm below.
With the utmost difficulty we regained the track. Long after dark we reached home and found the cottage empty; the family were all out hunting for us. Once I went on a visit to a New England village with its frozen lakes and vast snow fields. It was then that I had opportunities such as had never been mine to enter into the treasures of the snow.
I recall my surprise on discovering that a mysterious hand had stripped the trees and bushes, leaving only here and there a wrinkled leaf. The birds had flown, and their empty nests in the bare trees were filled with snow. Winter was on hill and field. The earth seemed benumbed by his icy touch and the very spirits of the trees had withdrawn to their roots, and there, curled up in the dark, lay fast asleep. The withered grass and the bushes were transformed into a forest of icicles. Then came a day when the chill air portended a snowstorm.
We rushed out-of-doors to feel the first few tiny flakes descending. Hour by hour the flakes dropped silently, softly from their airy height to the earth, and the country became more and more level. A snowy night closed upon the world, and in the morning one could scarcely recognize a feature of the landscape. All the roads were hidden, not a single landmark was visible, only a waste of snow with trees rising out of it. Around the great fire we sat and told merry tales, and frolicked, and quite forgot that we were in the midst of a desolate solitude, shut in from all communication with the outside world.
But during the night, the fury of the wind increased to such a degree that it thrilled us with a vague terror. The rafters creaked and strained, and the branches of the trees surrounding the house rattled and beat against the windows, as the winds rioted up and down the country. On the third day after the beginning of the storm the snow ceased. The sun broke through the clouds and shone upon a vast, undulating white plain.
High mounds, pyramids heaped in fantastic shapes, and impenetrable drifts lay scattered in every direction. Narrow paths were shoveled through the drifts. I put on my cloak and hood and went out. The air stung my cheeks like fire. Half walking in the paths, half working our way though the lesser drifts, we succeeded in reaching a pine grove just outside a broad pasture.
The trees stood motionless and white like figures in a marble frieze. There was no odour of pine-needles. The rays of the sun fell upon the trees, so that the twigs sparkled like diamonds and dropped in showers when we touched them. So dazzling was the light, it penetrated even the darkness that veils my eyes. As the days wore on, the drifts gradually shrunk, but before they were wholly gone another storm came, so that I scarcely felt the earth under my feet once all winter.
In fact, one can assume with certainty that if the directors of the capitalistic order could have anticipated the war's results it would never have happened. It was not solely economic interests which played an important part in the late war, but motives of political power, which in the end did most to let loose the catastrophe. After the decline of Spain and Portugal, the dominant power in Europe had fallen to Holland, France and England, who opposed each other as rivals. Holland quickly lost its leading position, and after the Peace of Breda its influence on the course of European politics grew gradually less.
But France also had lost after the Seven Years' War a large part of its former predominance and could never recover it, especially since its financial difficulties became constantly more acute and led to that unexampled oppression of the people from which the Revolution sprang.
Napoleon later made enormous efforts to recover for France the position she had lost in Europe, but his gigantic efforts were without result. England remained the implacable enemy of Napoleon, who soon recognised that his plans for world power could never come to fruition as long as the "nation of shopkeepers," as he contemptuously called the English, was unconquered. Napoleon lost the game after England had organised all Europe against him. Since then England has maintained its leading position in Europe, indeed in the whole world.
But the British Empire is not a continuous territory as other empires were before it. Its possessions are scattered over all the five continents, and their security is dependent upon the position of power which Britain occupies in Europe. Every threat to this position is a threat to the continued possession of colonies by England. As long as on the continent the formation of the modern great states, with their gigantic armies and fleets, their bureaucracy, their capitalistic enterprises, their highly developed industries, their foreign trade agreements, their exports and their growing need of expansion could still be overlooked, Britain's position as a world power remained fairly untouched; but the stronger the capitalistic states of the continent became, the more had Britain to fear for its hegemony.
Every attempt by a European power to secure new trade, or territory supplying raw materials, to further its export by trade agreements with foreign countries, and to give its plans for expansion the widest possible room, inevitably led sooner or later to a conflict somewhere with British spheres of interest and had always to look for hidden opposition by Britain. For this reason it necessarily became the chief concern of the British foreign policy to prevent any power from obtaining predominant influence on the continent, or, when this was unavoidable, to use its whole skill to play one power against the other.
Therefore, the defeat of Napoleon III by the Prussian army and Bismarck's diplomacy could only be very welcome to Britain, for France's power was thereby crippled for decades. But Germany's development of its military power, the initiation of its colonial policy and, most of all, the building of its fleet and its steadily growing plans for expansion as its "urge to eastward" became increasingly noticeable and distasteful to the English conjured up a danger for the British Empire that its representatives could not afford to disregard.
That British diplomacy unhesitatingly used any means to oppose the danger is no proof that its directors were by nature more treacherous or unscrupulous than are the diplomats of other countries. The idle talk about "perfidious Albion" is just as silly as the chatter about "a civilised warfare. None of them had the courage to oppose the dangerous activities of an irresponsible psychopath and his venal camarilla. However, the foundation of this evil is to be sought not in individual persons but in power politics itself, irrespective of who practices it or what immediate aims it pursues.
Power politics is only conceivable as making use of all means, however condemnable these may appear to private conscience, so long as they promise results, conform to reasons of state and further the state's ends. Machiavelli, who had the courage to collect systematically the methods of procedure of power politics and to justify them in the name of reasons of state, has set this forth already in his "Discorsi" clearly and definitely: "If we are dealing with the welfare of the Fatherland at all, we must not permit ourselves to be influenced by right or wrong, compassion or cruelty, praise or blame.
We must cavil at nothing, but we must always grasp at the means which will save the life of the country and preserve its freedom. For the perfect power politics every crime done in the service of the state is a meritorious deed if it is successful. The state stands beyond good and evil; it is the earthly Providence whose decisions are in their profundity as inexplicable to the ordinary subject as is the fate ordained for the believer by the power of God.
Just as, according to the doctrines of theologians and pundits, God in his unfathomable wisdom often uses the most cruel and frightful means to effect his plans, so also the state, according to the doctrines of political theology, is not bound by the rules of ordinary human morality when its rulers are determined to achieve definite ends by a cold-blooded gamble with the lives and fortunes of millions.
When a diplomat falls into a trap another has set for him, it ill becomes him to complain of the wiles and lack of conscientiousness of his opponent, for he himself pursues the same object, from the opposite side, and only suffers defeat because his opponent is better able to play the part of Providence. One who believes that he cannot exist without the organised force which is personified in the state must be ready also to accept all the consequences of this superstitious belief, to sacrifice to this Moloch the most precious thing he owns, his own personality.
It was principally power-political conflict, growing out of the fateful evolution of the great capitalistic states, which contributed importantly to the outbreak of the World War. Since the people, and especially the workers, of the various countries neither understood the seriousness of the situation nor could summon the moral courage to put up a determined resistance to the subterranean machinations of the diplomats, militarists and profiteers, there was no power on earth which could stay the catastrophe.
For decades every great state appeared like a gigantic army camp which opposed the others, armed to the teeth, until a spark finally sprung the mine. Not because all happened as it had to happen did the world drive with open eyes toward the abyss, but because the great masses in every country had not the slightest idea what a despicable game was being played behind their backs. They had to thank their incredible carelessness and above all their blind belief in the infallible superiority of their rulers and so-called spiritual leaders, that for over four years they could be led to slaughter like a will-less herd.
But even the small group of high finance and great industry, whose owners so unmistakably contributed to the releasing of the red flood, were not animated in their actions exclusively by the prospect of material gain. The view which sees in every capitalist only a profit machine may very well meet the demands of propaganda, but it is conceived much too narrowly and does not correspond to reality. Even in modern giant capitalism the power-political interests frequently play a larger part than the purely economic considerations, although it is difficult to separate them from each other.
Its leaders have learned to know the delightful sensation of power, and adore it with the same passion as did formerly the great conquerors, whether they find themselves in the camp of the enemies of their government, like Hugo Stinnes and his followers in the time of the Germany money crisis, or interfere decisively in the foreign policy of their own country. The morbid desire to make millions of men submissive to a definite will and to force whole empires into courses which are useful to the secret purposes of small minorities, is frequently more evident in the typical representatives of modern capitalism than are purely economic considerations or the prospect of greater material profit.
The desire to heap up ever increasing profits today no longer satisfies the demands of the great capitalistic oligarchies. Every one of its members knows what enormous power the possession of great wealth places in the hands of the individual and the caste to which he belongs. This knowledge gives a tempting incentive and creates that typical consciousness of mastery whose consequences are frequently more destructive than the facts of monopoly itself. It is this mental attitude of the modern Grand Seigneur of industry and high finance which condemns all opposition and will tolerate no equality.
In the great struggles between capital and labor this brutal spirit of mastery often plays a more decided part than immediate economic interests. The small manufacturers of former times still had certain rather intimate relationships to the masses of the working population and were consequently able to have more or less understanding of their position. Modern moneyed aristocracy, however, has even less relationship with the great masses of the people than did the feudal barons of the eighteenth century with their serfs. It knows the masses solely as collective objects of exploitation for its economic and political interests.
It has in general no understanding of the hard conditions of their lives. Hence the conscienceless brutality, the power urge, contemptuous of all human right, and the unfeeling indifference to the misery of others. Because of his social position there are left no limits to the power lust of the modern capitalist. He can interfere with inconsiderate egoism in the lives of his fellowmen and play the part of Providence for others. Only when we take into consideration this passionate urge for political power over their own people as well as over foreign nations are we able really to understand the character of the typical representatives of modern capitalism.
It is just this trait which makes them so dangerous to the social structure of the future. Not without reason does modern monopolistic capitalism support the National Socialist and fascist reaction. This reaction is to help beat down any resistance of the working masses, in order to set up a realm of industrial serfdom in which productive man is to be regarded merely as an economic automaton without any influence whatsoever on the course and character of economic and social conditions. This Caesarean madness stops at no barrier. Without compunction it rides roughshod over those achievements of the past which have all too often had to be purchased with the heart's blood of the people.
It is always ready to smother with brutal violence the last rights and the last liberties which might interfere with its plans for holding all social activities within the rigid forms set by its will. This is the great danger which threatens us today and which immediately confronts us. The success or failure of monopolistic capitalistic power plans will determine the structure of the social life of the near future. The roots of the power idea. The origin of religious conceptions. Animism and fetishism. The sacrifice. The feeling of dependence. Effect of terrestrial power on the shape of religious consciousness.
Religion and slavery. The religious foundations of all rulership. The pharaohs. The laws of Manu. The Persian divine kingdom. Alexander and Caesaropapism. Caesarism in Rome. The Inca. Genghis Khan. Power and the priesthood. Church and State. Mussolini and the Vatican. Fascism and Religion. In all epochs of that history which is known to us, two forces are apparent that are in constant warfare. Their antagonism, open or veiled, results from the intrinsic difference between the forces themselves and between the activities in which they find expression. This is clear to anyone who approaches the study of human social structures without ready-formulated hypotheses or fixed schemes of interpretation, especially to anyone who sees that human objectives and purposes are not subject to mechanical laws, as are cosmic events in general.
We are speaking here of the political and economic elements in history, which could also be called the governmental and social elements. Strictly speaking, the concepts of the political and the economic are in this case conceived somewhat too narrowly; for in the last analysis, all politics has its roots in the religious concepts of men, while everything economic is of a cultural nature, and is consequently in the most intimate relationship with the valuecreating forces of social life; so that we are plainly compelled to speak of an inner opposition between religion and culture.
Political and economic, governmental and social, or, in a larger sense, religious and cultural manifestations, have many points of contact: they all spring from human nature, and consequently there are between them inner relations. We are here simply concerned to get a clearer view of the connection which exists between these manifestations. Every political form in history has its definite economic foundations which are especially marked in the later phases of social advancement.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that the forms of politics are subject to the changes in the conditions of economic and general cultural life, and with them assume new aspects. But the inner character of all politics always remains the same, just as the inner character of each and every religion never changes, despite the alteration of its outward form. Religion and culture have their roots in man's instinct of self-preservation, which endows them with life and form; but, once come to life, each follows its own course, since there are no organic ties between them, so that, like antagonistic stars, they pursue opposite directions.
One who overlooks this antagonism or, for whatever reason, fails to give it the consideration it deserves, will never be able to see clearly the inner concatenation of social events. As to where the realm of religion proper begins, opinions are divided to this day; but it is fairly agreed that the foundation of man's religious concepts is not to be found in speculative philosophy. We have come to recognise that Hegel's notion, that all religion merely demonstrates the elevation of the spirit to the Absolute, and therefore tries to find the union of the human with the divine, can only be regarded as an empty figure of speech which in no way explains the origin of religion.
The "Philosopher of the Absolute," who endows every nation with a special historical mission, is equally arbitrary when he asserts that every people in history is the bearer of a typical form of religion: the Chinese of the religion of moderation, the Chaldeans of the religion of pain, the Greeks of the religion of beauty, and so on, until at last the line of religious systems ends in Christianity, "the revealed religion," whose communicants recognise in the person of Christ the union of the human with the divine.
Science has made men more critical. We realise now that all research into the origin and gradual shaping of religion must use the same methods which today serve sociology and psychology in trying to comprehend the phenomena of social and mental life in their beginnings. The once widely held view of the English philologist, Max Muller, who thought he recognised in religion man's innate urge to explain the Infinite, and who maintained that the impress of the forces of nature released the first religious feelings in man, and that consequently one could not go wrong in regarding nature worship as the first form of religion, hardly finds adherents today.
Most of the present leaders of ethnological religious research are of the opinion that animism, the belief in the ghosts and souls of the departed, is to be regarded as the first stage of religious consciousness in man. The whole mode of life of nomadic primitive man, his relative ignorance, the mental influence of his dream pictures, his lack of understanding when confronted with death, the compulsory fasts he often had to endure all this made him a natural born clairvoyant, with whom the belief in ghosts lay, so to speak, in his blood.
What he felt when confronted with the ghosts with which his imagination peopled the world, was primarily fear. This fear troubled him all the more as he was here confronted, not with an ordinary enemy, but with unseen forces which could not be met by simple means. From this arose quite spontaneously the desire to secure the good will of those powers, to escape their wiles and earn their favour by whatever means. It is the naked urge for self-preservation of primitive man which here finds expression. From animism sprang fetishism, the idea that the ghost dwelt in some object or at a certain place, a belief which even today continues to live in the superstitious notions of civilised men, who are firmly convinced that ghosts walk and talk and that there are places which are haunted.
The religious ritual of Lamaism and that of the Catholic Church are also in their essence fetishism. As to whether animism and the first crude concepts of fetishism can already be regarded as religion, opinions differ; but that here is to be sought the starting point of all religious concepts can hardly be doubted. Religion proper begins with the alliance between "ghost" and man which finds expression in ritual. For primitive man, the "ghost" or the "soul" is no abstract idea, but a completely corporeal concept. It is, therefore, quite natural that he should try to impress the spirits by concrete proofs of his veneration and submission.
Thus arose in his brain the idea of sacrifice and, as repeated experience proved to him that the life of the slain animal or enemy departed with the streaming blood, he early learned to recognise that blood is indeed "a most peculiar juice. The bloodoffering was certainly the first form of the rite of sacrifice and was, moreover, necessitated by the primitive huntsman's life. The idea of the blood offering, which was doubtless among the oldest products of religious consciousness, persists in the great religious systems of the present. The symbolic transmutation of bread and wine in the Christian Eucharist into the "flesh and blood" of Christ is an example of this.
Sacrifice became the central point of all religious usages and festivities, which manifested themselves also in incantation, dance and song, and gradually congealed into specific rituals. It is very likely that the offering of sacrifice was at first a purely personal affair and that each could make the offering suited to his need, but this condition probably did not last long before it was replaced by a professional priesthood of the type of the medicine men, Shamans, Gangas, and so on.
The development of fetishism into totemism, by which name, after an Indian word, we call the belief in a tribal deity, usually embodied in the form of an animal from which the tribe derived its origin, has especially favoured the evolution of a special magicianpriesthood. With that, religion took on a social character which it did not have before. When we regard religion in the light of its own gradual evolution, we recognise that two phenomena constitute its essence: Religion is primarily the feeling of man's dependence on higher, unknown powers.
To see ways and means to make these powers favourably inclined toward him end to protect himself from their harmful influences, man is impelled by the instinct of self-preservation. Thus arises ritual, which gives to religion its external character. That the idea of sacrifice can be traced back to the custom, prevailing in the primitive human institutions and organisations of primeval times, of giving the tribal leaders and chiefs voluntary or compulsory presents, is an assumption which has some possibility.
The assertion that primitive man without this institution would never have arrived at the idea of sacrifice seems to us too bold. Religious concepts could only originate when the question of the why and how of things arose in the brain of man. But this presupposes considerable mental development. It is, therefore, to be assumed that a long period had to pass before this question could engage him. The concept which primeval man forms of the world around him, is primarily of a sensuous nature; just as a child recognises the objects of his environment primarily sensuously and uses them long before any question concerning their origin arises in him.
Furthermore, with many savage people it remains today the custom to let the ghosts of the departed ones participate at meals, just as nearly all of the festivities of primitive tribes are connected with sacrificial rites. Therefore, it is quite possible that the idea of sacrifice could have arisen without any preceding related social custom.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that in every religious system which made its appearance in the course of millenniums there was mirrored the dependency of man upon a higher power which his own imagination had called into being and whose slave he had become. All gods had their time, but religion itself, in the core of its being, has always remained the same despite all changes in its outward form. Always it is the illusion to which the real essence of man is offered as a sacrifice; the creator becomes the slave of his own creature without ever becoming conscious of the tragedy of this.
Only because there has never been any change in the inmost essence of all and every religion could the well known German religious teacher, Koenig, begin his book for instruction in the Catholic religion with these words: "Religion in general is the recognition and veneration of God and specifically of the relationship of man to God as his supreme ruler. Thus was religion even in its poor primitive beginning most intimately intergrown with the idea of might, of supernatural superiority, of power over the faithful, in one word, of rulership.
Modern philology has, accordingly, in numerous instances been able to prove that even the names of the various divinities were in their origins expressions of the concepts in which the idea of power was embodied. Not without reason do all advocates of the principle of authority trace its origin back to God. For does not the Godhead appear to them the epitome of all power and strength? In the very earliest myths the heroes, conquerors, lawgivers, tribal ancestors appear as gods or demigods; for their greatness and superiority could only have divine origin. Thus we arrive at the foundations of every system of rulership and recognise that all politics is in the last instance religion, and as such tries to hold the spirit of man in the chains of dependence.
Whether religious feeling is already in its earliest beginnings only an abstract reflection of terrestrial institutions of power, as Nordau and others maintained, is a question which is open to discussion. Those who regard the original condition of mankind as one of "war of all against all," as Hobbes and his numerous followers have done, will be readily inclined to see in the malevolent and violent character of the original deities a faithful counterpart of the despotic chieftains and warlike leaders who kept both their own tribesmen and strangers in fear and terror. It is not so long since we saw the present "savages" in a quite similar light, as cunning and cruel fellows ever set on murder and rapine, until the manifold results of modern ethnology in all parts of the world gave us proof of how fundamentally false this concept is.
That primitive man did as a rule picture his spirits and gods as violent and terrible need not necessarily be traced to earthly models. Everything unknown incomprehensible to the simple mind affects the spirit as uncanny and fearsome. It is only a step from the uncanny to the gruesome, to the horrible, the frightful. This must have been all the more true in those longvanished ages when man's imaginative power was uninfluenced by the millenniums of accumulated experience which could fit him for logical counterargument.
But even if we are not compelled to trace every religious concept to some exercise of earthly power, it is a fact that in later epochs of human evolution the outer forms of religion were frequently determined by the power needs of individuals or small minorities in society. Every instance of rulership of particular human groups over others was preceded by the wish to appropriate the product of labour, the tools, or the weapons of those others or to drive them from some territory which seemed more favourable for the winning of a livelihood.
It is very probable that for a long time the victors contented themselves with this simple form of robbery and, when they met resistance, simply massacred their opponents. But gradually it was discovered that it was more profitable to exact tribute from the vanquished or to subject them to a new order of things by ruling over them; thereby laying the foundation for slavery.
This was all the easier as mutual solidarity extended only to members of the same tribe and found its limits there. All systems of rulership were originally foreign rulerships, where the victors formed a special privileged class and subjected the vanquished to their will. As a rule it was nomadic hunter tribes which imposed their rule upon settled and agricultural people. The calling of the hunter, which constantly makes great demands on man's activity and endurance, makes him by nature more warlike and predatory.
But the farmer who is tied to his acre, and whose life as a rule runs more peacefully and less dangerously, is in most cases no friend of violent dispute. He is, therefore, seldom equal to the onset of warlike tribes and submits comparatively easily if the foreign rule is not too oppressive. Once the victor has tasted the sweets of power and learned to value the economic advantages which it gives, he is easily intoxicated by his practice of power.
Every success spurs him on to new adventures, for it is in the nature of all power that its possessors constantly strive to widen the sphere of their influence and to impose their yoke on weaker peoples.
THE STORY OF MY LIFE
Thus gradually a separate class evolved whose occupation was war and rulership over others. But no power can in the long run rely on brute force alone. Brutal force may be the immediate means for the subjugation of men, but alone it is incapable of maintaining the rule of the individual or of a special caste over whole groups of humanity. For that more is needed; the belief of man in the inevitability of such power, the belief in its divinely willed mission.
Such a belief is rooted deeply in man's religious feelings and gains power with tradition, for above the traditional hovers the radiance of religious concepts and mystical obligation. This is the reason why the victors frequently imposed their gods upon the vanquished, for they recognised very clearly that a unification of religious rites would further their own power.
It usually mattered little to them if the gods of the vanquished continued to be on show so long as this was not dangerous to their leadership, and so long as the old gods were assigned a role subordinate to that of the new ones. But this could only happen when their priests favoured the rulership of the victors or themselves participated in the drive for political power, as often happened.
Thus it is easy to prove the political influence on the later religious forms of the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, and many others. And just as easily can the famous monotheism of the Jews be traced to the struggle for the political unification of the arising monarchy. All systems of rulership and dynasties of antiquity derived their origin from some godhead, and their possessors soon learned to recognise that the belief of their subjects in the divine origin of the ruler was the one unshakeable foundation of every kind of power.
Fear of God was always the mental preliminary of voluntary subjection. This alone is necessary; it forms the eternal foundation of every tyranny under whatever mask it may appear. Voluntary subjection cannot be forced; only belief in the divinity of the ruler can create it. It has, therefore, been up to now the foremost aim of all politics to awaken this belief in the people and to make it a mental fixture. Religion is the prevailing principle in history; it binds the spirit of man and forces his thought into definite forms so that habitually he favours the continuation of the traditional and confronts every innovation with misgivings.
It is the inner fear of falling into a bottomless abyss which chains man to the old forms of things as they are. That determined champion of the principle of absolute power, Louis de Bonald, understood the connection between religion and politics very well when he wrote the words: "God is the sovereign power over all things; the godman is the power over all mankind; the head of the state is the power over the subjects; the head of the family is the power in his own house.
But as all power is made in the image of God and originates with God, therefore all power is absolute. All power has its roots in God, all rulership is in its inmost essence divine. Moses received directly from the hand of God the tables of the law, which begin with the words: "I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me," and which sealed the covenant of the Lord with his people. The famous stone on which the laws of Hammurabi are recorded, which have carried the name of the Babylonian king through the millenniums, shows us Hammurabi before the face of the sun god Chamasch.
The introduction which precedes the statement of the law begins thus:. When Anu, the exalted, the king of the Anunnaki, and Bel, the lord of heaven and earth, who carries the destiny of the world in his hand, partitioned the masses of mankind to Marduk, the firstborn of Ea, the divine lord of the law, they made him great among the Igigi.
In Babylon they proclaimed his exalted name, which is praised in all lands which they have destined to him for his kingdom, and which is eternal as are heaven and earth. Afterwards Anu and Bel made glad the body of mankind when they called upon me, the glorious ruler and godfearing Hammurabi, that I may establish justice upon earth, destroy the wicked and the ruthless, ward off the strong and succour the weak, reign like the sun god over the destiny of blackhaired men and illumine the land.
In Egypt, where the religious cult under the influence of a powerful priestly caste had shown its power in all social institutions, the deification of the ruler had assumed quite uncanny forms. The Pharaoh, or priest-king, was not alone the representative of God on earth, he was himself a god and received godlike honours.
Already in the age of the first six dynasties the kings were regarded as sons of the sun god, Ra. Chufu Cheops , in whose reign the great pyramids were built, called himself "the incarnate Horus. This same ruler also built a temple at Soleb where religious veneration was offered to his own person. When his successor, Amenhotep IV, later on prohibited in Egypt the veneration of any other god, and raised the cult of the radiant sun god, Aton, who became alive in the person of the king, to the dignity of a state religion, it was doubtless political motives which moved him to it.
The unity of faith was to be made to render postchaise service to the unity of earthly power in the hands of the Pharaohs. God has made the king that he may protect creation. For this purpose he took parts from Indra, from the winds, from Jama, from the sun, from fire, from the heavens, from the moon and from the lord of creation.
Therefore, since the king has been created from parts of these lords of the gods, his glory outshines the splendor of all created beings, and like the sun he blinds the eye and the heart, and no one can look into his face. He is fire and air, sun and moon. He is the god of right, the genius of riches, the ruler of the floods and the commander of the firmament. In no other country outside of Egypt and Tibet has an organised priestcraft attained to such power as in India. This has left its impress on the whole social evolution of the enormous land, and by the cunning caste division of the whole population, pressed all events into iron forms, which have proved the more enduring because they are anchored in the traditions of faith.
Quite early the Brahmans entered into a compact with the warrior caste to share with it the rulership of the people of India, wherein the priestcaste was always careful to see that the real power remained in their hands, that the king remained a tool of their desires. Priests and warriors were both of divine origin, the Brahmans sprang from the head of Brahma, the warriors from Brahma's breast.
Both had the same objective and the law commanded: "The two castes must act in unison, for neither can do without the other. In ancient Persia, also, the ruler was the living incarnation of divinity. When he entered a town he was received by the Magi in white garments and with the chanting of religious songs. The road along which he was carried was strewn with myrtle branches and roses and on the side stood silver altars on which incense was burned. His power was unlimited, his will the highest law, his command irrevocable, as stated in the Zendavesta the sacred book of the old Persians.
Only on rare occasions did he show himself to the people, and when he appeared all had to grovel in the dust and hide their faces. In Persia, also, there were castes and an organised priestly class, which, while it did not have the omnipotent power of that of India, was, nevertheless, the first caste in the land, whose representatives, as the closest council of the king, always had the opportunity to make their influence felt and definitely to affect the destiny of the realm.
Concerning the parts played by the priests in the social order, we are informed by a passage in the Zendavesta which reads:. Though your good works were more numerous than the leaves of the trees, the drops of rain, the stars in heaven, or the sands of the sea, they would not profit you, if they were not pleasing to the Destur priest.
To gain the favour of this guide on the way of salvation you must faithfully give to him the tithe of all you possess, of your goods, of your land, and of your money. If you have satisfied the Destur, your soul will have escaped the tortures of hell, and you will find peace in this world and happiness in the one beyond; for the Desturs are teachers of religion, they know all things, and they grant absolution to all mankind.
Fuhi, whom the Chinese designate as the first ruler of the Celestial Kingdom, and who, according to their chronicles, is said to have lived about twentyeight centuries before our era, is venerated in Chinese mythology as a supernatural being and usually appears in their pictures as a man with a fish tail, looking like a Triton.
Tradition acclaims him as the real awakener of the Chinese people, who, before his coming, lived in the wilderness in separate groups like packs of animals, and were only through him shown the way to a social order which had its foundation in the family and the veneration of ancestors. All dynasties which since that time have succeeded one another in the Middle Kingdom have traced their origin from the gods.
The Emperor called himself the "Son of Heaven"; and since China never had an organised priestly class, the practice of the cult, in so far as it concerned the state religion, rested in the hands of the highest imperial official, who, however, influenced only the upper strata of the Chinese social order. In Japan, the Mikado, the "High Gate," is regarded as a descendant of Amaterasu, the sun goddess, who in that country is worshiped as the highest divinity.
She makes known her will through the person of the ruler, and in his name she governs the people. The Mikado is the living incarnation of the godhead, wherefore his palace is called "Miya," that is, shrine of the soul. Even in the time of the Shogunate, when the leaders of the military caste for hundreds of years exercised the real rulership of the land, and the Mikado played only the part of a decorative figure, the sanctity of his person remained inviolate in the eyes of the people. Likewise, the foundation of the mighty Inca Empire, whose obscure history has presented so many problems to modern research, is ascribed by tradition to the work of the gods.
The saga recounts how Manco Capac with his wife, Ocllo Huaco, appeared one day to the natives of the high plateau of Cuzco, presented himself to them as Intipchuri, the son of the sun, and induced them to acknowledge him as their king. He taught them agriculture and brought them much useful knowledge, which enabled them to become the creators of a great culture. In Tibet there arose under the mighty influence of a powerlustful priestcaste, that strange churchstate whose inner organization has such a curious kinship with Roman Papism. Like it, it has oral confession, the rosary, smoking censers, the veneration of relics, and the tonsure of the priest.
The former is regarded as the incarnation of Gautama, the sacred founder of the Buddhist religion; the latter as the living personification of Tsongkapa, the great reformer of Lamaism to him, even as to the Dalai Lama, divine honours are offered, extending even to his most intimate physical products. Genghis Khan, the mighty Mongol ruler, whose great wars and conquests once held half the world in terror, quite openly used religion as the chief instrument of his power policy; although he himself apparently belonged in the class of "enlightened despots.
His Sunpapacy no longer sufficed. Nestorian Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Confucianists and Jews inhabited his lands by the million. He had to be the high priest of every religious cult. With his North-Asiastic Shamanists he cultivated magic and inquired of the oracle which manifested itself in the cracks of the shoulder blades of sheep when thrown into fire. Sundays he went to Mass, celebrated communion with wine, held discussions with Christian priests. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and showed himselfas Chahan, as Cohen. On Fridays he held a sort of Selamik and was just as good a Caliph as, later on, the Turk in Constantinople.
But preferably he was a Buddhist; held religious discourses with Lamas, and even summoned the Grand Lama of Ssatya to him; for since he intended to change the centre of his realm to Buddhistic territory in Northern Asia, he conceived the grandiose plan of setting up Buddhism as the state religion. And did not Alexander of Macedonia, whom history calls "The Great," act with the same calculation, apparently animated by the same motives, as, long after, Genghis Khan?
After he had conquered a world and cemented it together with streams of blood, he must have felt that such a work could not be made permanent by brute force alone. He therefore tried to anchor his rule in the religious beliefs of the conquered people. So he, "the Hellene," sacrificed to the Egyptian gods in the temple at Memphis and led his army through the burning deserts of Libya to consult the oracle of ZeusAmmon in the oasis of Siva. The compliant priests greeted him as the son of the "Great God" and offered him divine honours.
Thus Alexander became a god and appeared before the Persians in his second campaign against Darius as a descendant of the mighty Zeus-Ammon. Only thus can we explain the complete subjugation of the enormous empire by the Macedonians, a thing which even the Persian kings had not been able to accomplish to the same degree. Alexander had used this means only to further his political plans, but gradually he became so intoxicated with the thought of his godlikeness that he demanded divine honours not only from the subjected nations but even from his own countrymen, to whom such a cult must have remained strange, since they knew him only as Philip's son.
The slightest opposition could goad him to madness and frequently led him into abominable crimes. His insatiable desire for ever greater extension of power, strengthened by his military successes, set aside all limits to his selfesteem and blinded him to all reality. He introduced at his court the ceremony of the Persian kings which symbolised the complete subjection of all mankind to the potent will of the despot. Indeed, in him, the "Hellene," the megalomania of barbaric tyranny achieved its most genuine expression.
Alexander was the first to transplant Caesarism and the idea of the divinity of the king to Europe, for up to now it had only prospered on Asiatic soil, where the state had developed with the least hindrance and where the relationship between religion and politics had come to earliest maturity. We must not conclude from this, however, that we are here concerned with a special proclivity of a race.
The prevalence which Caesarism has since attained in Europe is patent proof that we are here dealing with a special type of the instinct of religious veneration, which, under similar circumstances, may appear among men of all races and nations. It is not to be denied, however, that its outward forms are bound up with the conditions of its social environment. It was from the Orient, too, that the Romans took over Caesarism and developed it in a manner that can hardly be observed earlier in any other country.
When Julius Caesar raised himself to the dictatorship of Rome, he tried to root his power in the religious concepts of the people. He traced the origin of his family from the gods and claimed Venus as an ancestress. His every effort was directed toward making himself the unlimited ruler of the realm and into an actual god, whom no interrelationship connected with ordinary mortals. His statue was set among those Of the seven kings of Rome, and his adherents quickly spread the rumour that the Oracle had designated him to be the sole ruler of the realm, in order to conquer the Parthians who thus far had defied the Roman power.
His image was placed among those of the immortal gods of the Pompa Circensis. A statue of him was erected in the Temple of Quirinus, and on its pedestal the inscription read: "To the unconquerable god. Caesar's murder put a sudden end to his ambitious plans, but his successors completed his work, so that presently there shone about the emperor the aura of the godhead. They erected altars to him and rendered to him religious veneration. Caligula, who had the ambition to raise himself to the highest protective divinity of the Roman state, Capitoline Jupiter, maintained the divinity of the Caesars with these words: "Just as men, who herd sheep and oxen, are not themselves sheep and oxen, but of a nature superior to these, so are those who have been set as rulers above men, not men like the others, but gods.
The Romans, who did not find it objectionable that the leaders of their army had divine honours offered to them in the Orient and Greece, at first protested against the claim that the same should be demanded of Roman citizens, but they got used to it as quickly as did the Greeks in the time of their social decline, and subsided quietly into cowardly self-debasement.
Not alone did numbers of poets and artists sound the praise of "the divine Caesar" continuously throughout the land; the people and the Senate, too, outdid themselves in cringing humility and despicable servility. Virgil in his Aeneid glorified Caesar Augustus in slavish fashion, and legions of others followed his example. The Roman astrologer, Firmicus Maternus, who lived in the reign of Constantine, declared in his work De erroribus profanarum religiosum: "Caesar alone is not dependent on the stars. He is the lord of the whole world, which he guides by the fiat of the highest gods.
He, himself, belongs to the circle of the gods, whom the primal godhead has designated for the carrying on and completion of all that occurs. The divine honours which were offered to the Byzantine emperors are even today embraced in the meaning of the word "Byzantine. The Roman Empire fell in ruins. The megalomania of its rulers, which in the course of the centuries had led to the extinction of all human dignity in millions of their subjects, the horrible exploitation of all subject peoples, and the increasing corruption in the whole empire, had rotted men morally, killed their social consciousness and robbed them of all power of resistance.
Thus in the long run they could not withstand the attack of the socalled "barbarians" who assailed the powerful realm from all sides. But the "Spirit of Rome," as Schlegel called it, lived on, just as the spirit of CaesaroPapism lived on after the decline of the great Eastern Empire and gradually infected the untamed young forces of the Germanic tribes whose military leaders had taken over the fateful legacy of the Caesars; and Rome lived on in the Church, which developed Caesarism in the shape of Papism to the highest perfection of power, and with persistent energy pursued the aim of converting the whole of mankind into one gigantic herd and forcing it under the sceptre of the high priest of Rome.
Animated also by the spirit of Rome were all those later efforts for political unification embodied in the German Kaiser concept: in the mighty empires of the Hapsburgs, Charles V and Philip II; in the Bourbons, the Stuarts, and the dynasties of the Czars. While the person of the ruler is no longer worshiped directly as a god, he is king "by the grace of God" and receives the silent veneration of his subjects, to whom he appears as a being of a superior order.
The god concept changes in the course of time, just as the state concept has seen many changes. But the innermost character of all religion remains evermore untouched, just as the kernel of all politics has never undergone a change. It is the principle of power which the possessors of earthly and celestial authority made effective against men, and it is always the religious feeling of dependence which forces the masses to obedience. The head of the state is no longer worshiped as a god in public temples, but he says with Louis XIV, "I am the state! The wielder of the force of the state is, therefore, only the high priest of a power which finds its expression in politics just as reverence for God finds it in religion.
Although the priest is the mediator between man and this higher power on which the subject feels himself dependent and which, therefore, becomes fate to him, Volney's contention that religion is the invention of the priest shoots wide of the mark; for there were religious concepts long before there was a priestly caste. It can also be safely assumed that the priest himself was originally convinced of the correctness of his understanding. But gradually there dawned on him the idea of what unlimited power the blind belief and gloomy fear of his fellowmen had put into his hands, and what benefit could accrue to him from this.
Thus awoke in the priest the consciousness of power, and with this the lust for power, which grew constantly greater as the priesthood became more and more definitely a separate caste in society. Out of the lust for power there developed the "will to power," and with that there evolved in the priesthood a peculiar need. Impelled by this, they tried to direct the religious feelings of believers into definite courses and so to shape the impulses of their faith as to make them serve the priestly quest for power.
All power was at the outset priestly power and in its inmost essence has remained so till this day. Ancient history knows many instances where the role of the priest fused with that of the ruler and lawgiver in one person. Even the derivation of countless lordly titles from names in which the priestly function of their former bearers is clearly revealed, points with certainty to the common origin of religious and temporal power.
Alexander Ular hit the nail on the head when he said in his brilliant essay, "Politics," that the Papacy never engaged in temporal politics, but that every temporal ruler has always tried to play papal politics.
This is also the reason why every system of government, without distinction of form, has a certain basic theocratic character. Every church is constantly striving to extend the limits of its power, and to plant the feeling of dependence deeper in the hearts of men. But every temporal power is animated by the same desire, so in both cases the efforts take the same direction. Just as in religion God is everything and man nothing, so in politics the state is everything, the subject nothing.
The two maxims of celestial and earthly authority, "I am the Lord thy God! The more man learned to venerate in God the epitome of all perfection, the deeper he sank -- he, the real creator of God -- into a miserable earthworm, into a living incarnation of all earthly nullity and weakness. The theologian and scribe never tired of assuring him that he was "a sinner conceived in sin," who could only be saved from eternal damnation by a revelation of God's commandments and strict obedience to them.
And when the former subject and present citizen endowed the state with all the qualities of perfection, he degraded himself to an impotent and childish puppet on whom the legal pundits and statetheologians never ceased to impress the shameful conviction that in the core of his being he was afflicted with the evil impulses of the born transgressor, who could only be guided on the path of officially defined virtue by the law of the state.
The doctrine of original sin is fundamental not only in all the great religious systems, but in every theory of the state. The complete degradation of man, the fateful belief in the worthlessness and sinfulness of his own nature, has ever been the firmest foundation of all spiritual and temporal authority. The divine "Thou shalt! This is the reason why no temporal power up to now has been able to dispense with religion, which is in itself the fundamental assumption of power. Where the rulers of the state opposed for political reasons a certain form of religious system, it was always easy to introduce some other systems of belief more favourable to their purposes.
Even the so-called "enlightened rulers," who themselves were infidels, were no exception to this rule. When Frederick II of Prussia declared that in his kingdom "everyone could be saved according to his own fashion," he assumed, of course, that such salvation would in no wise conflict with his own powers. The much lauded toleration of the great Frederick would have looked quite different if his subjects, or even a part of them, had conceived the idea that their salvation might be won by lowering the royal dignity, or by disregarding his laws, as the Dukhobors tried to do in Russia.
Napoleon I, who as a young artillery officer had called theology a "cesspool of every superstition and confusion" and had maintained that "the people should be given a handbook of geometry instead of a catechism" radically changed his point of view after he had made himself Emperor of the French. Not only that; according to his own confession, he for a long time flirted with the idea of achieving world rulership with the aid of the pope; he even raised the question whether a state could maintain itself without religion.
And he himself gave the answer: "Society cannot exist without inequality of property and the inequality not without religion. A man who is dying of hunger, next to one who has too much, could not possibly reconcile himself to it if it were not for a power which says to him: 'It is the will of God that here on Earth there must be rich and poor, but yonder, in eternity, it will be different. The shameless frankness of this utterance comes all the more convincingly from a man who himself believed in nothing, but who was clever enough to recognise that no power can in the long run maintain itself if it is not capable of taking root in the religious consciousness of mankind.
Related To Teach is Divine;: Hallerens Prophecy... (A Lite Farie Tale Book 2)
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