0657 Defends speed limit regulations
12/16/29 Bernard Shaw appears today as the champion of England's much-abused speed limit for automobiles which the government's new road-traffic bill proposes to abolish. Writing in The Sunday Observer, Mr Shaw admits that, as a motorist of twenty-one years experience, he breaks the law every time he drives, but he insists some speed limit should be retained.
"A speed limit cannot be observed in daily practice and is not meant to be so observed," Mr Shaw asserts. "It is a devise for enabling the police to halt and mulct motorists in those cases of inconsiderate driving which fall short of driving to the public danger or are not grave enough to deserve the more serious penalties attached to that offense.
"All discussion as to whether this or that speed is dangerous - whether a motor bus traveling at 34 miles an hour cannot hurt anything but will become murderous and destructive at 35 - are quite idle. Under circumstances which occur every day a motor bus or any other vehicle traveling at less than 50 miles an hour is an obstruction and a nuisance. Under certain other circumstances which also occur every day, a speed of 20 miles would justify a magistrate in suspending the driver's lisence for life.
"A motor vehicle, like any other heavy object, is dangerous the moment it begins to move. The common assumption that a steam roller or motor bus if driven carefully over a baby at 2 miles an hour will not hurt it, while a sport car, which at 60 miles an hour or so becomes supercharged and attains the velocity of light or thereabouts, will mangle and slaughter the same baby, is erroneous. An intelligent baby would prefer the sport car. Safe motor cars are imaginary, as are safe wheel barrows, guns, skates, kitchen boilers or razors. But they can be made safe enough to be tolerated when they are under the control of intelligent considerate and able-bodied persons.
"What is to be considered is not the conduct of cars but the conduct of drivers. No expert fears a well-driven car, however fast. All fear an ill-driven car, however, slow."
Mr Shaw sees an unintentional discrimination in the new bill's proposal to abolish the speed limit for private cars - the "rich man's car" - while retaining the old speed limit for buses - "the poor man's car." He says the roads have never applied the lesson the railroads learned when they began to abolish grade crossings. Mr Shaw suggests a vast program of bridge building at crossings as a means of relieving unemployment.
The road-traffic bill will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow.
0656 Advocated changes in Brit politics and govt, in closing Fabian lecture
12/15/29 You have all seen me throughout this course of lectures sitting on the platform listening very attentively to the ladies and gentlemen who have gone before me and who have been adumbrating as well as they could the course of events in the next ten years. One thing that I noticed about all of them was they all assumed that what was going to occur in the course of the next ten years was going to occur with our existing political machinery and in our existing culture.
If you are going to make any great change in society, you must devise political machinery which will make that change, and if you want to introduce that political machinery you must produce a culture which will approve of, which will tolerate and even vote for that particular change.
Yet I heard no allusion to this at any of the previous lectures. All the lecturers were looking forward to very considerable changes, but they all seemed to assume that the machinery would be the same and that the culture would be the same. As far as I can remember, if any words dropped from them on the subject, it must have been during these brief periods when I found they were getting a little too abstract and I took the opportunity to slumber for a few moments, so I may be unjust to them.
That sort of thing cannot go on if you are going to have a tolerable world to live in. Your diplomacy must be conducted by the League of Nations. But you still have a Foreign Office. Is the Foreign Office going to be the ridiculous backstairs business in which every ambassador of a foreign power comes and exchanges little notes and interviews with the Foreign Secretary, all behind one another's backs, and everybody doing what they can to get the better of each other? I suggest no such thing should be possible, that our Foreign Office should not communicate in that way with separate ambassadors, but that there should be a council of ambassadors who will transact business in one anothers presence and with their cards on the table. Of course they will say, "Impossible! Did any one ever hear of such a thing?" I reply, "No, they did not, and see the mess you are in in consequence! Had you not better clear it up?"
Then you want a great many Parliaments. Going on with this rotten, crazy old thing you have got is impossible. You want a Commonwealth Parliament, a Parliament which will deal with the whole of the British Commonwealth as a whole. You then want a British Federal parliament which will deal with the British details. Then you want a national Parliaments. You have got one in Ireland, in Ulster, in England, but you will also have to have one in Scotland. But one is not enough. I think you will want at least two and probably three. You want a political Parliament, an industrial Parliament, and even that may not be enough.
But there you have a whole scheme of bodies, and you want, of course, the proper men for them. How are you to get the men? I do not want them to pass examinations, that would be no use at all for what I want. What I want does not seem possible, though I am not sure we might not make an advance in the direction. I propose a panel system by which persons could be submitted to some kind of test, not an examination by asking them a lot of questions out of books, but that their natural capacity should be tested, either by testing their blood or secretions, or testing their electronic vibration by Abraham's Box or radiology, or some sort of scientific process, so that they could be classified according to their political and other capacities. One man, for instance, might be one of the very few men capable of diplomacy, that is to say, world politics; another man might be in the very rare position of being capable of finance.
But if we had this, there might come a sort of sense into democracy, because you do want to allow people to have some choice, some power of election. If you give them the power of election they have at present they will elect the most awful people. I will not mention living instances, it would be too unkind, but when you remember one of the most popular persons in English literature was Titus Oates it will give you an idea what it comes to. Election would be a perfectly safe process if you had your panel system. Democracy under those conditions, and I do not see under what other conditions it is possible to get a satisfactory working of this method of allowing people to choose your governing bodies, would be quite safe.
I do not want you to go out of the room without any notion what sort of machinery should be substituted, but I think all those, or something like those reforms I have mentioned will have to be introduced. It is the creation of this new machinery which is certainly the most urgent work of the next ten years.
In my lifetime, there have been such incidents as Amritsar in India, the Black and Tan episode in Ireland when Dublin was bombarded, and more than a square mile of the city was smashed to ruins, a pure piece terrorism, quite unnecessary, and yet the thing was done. And a thing that amused the inhabitants very much was that the authorities, after having done this, plastered up recruiting posters on the ruins and said, 'Irishmen, remember Belgium.'
Look at the recent government, which began by declaring they would stop up the Nile and starve Egypt because they were drunk with their victory at the election and irritated because the Sirdar had been assassinated. It was not even an intelligent threat. It only made England ridiculous in the eyes of the world, and at the end of a week they had to climb down abjectly. Nobody except people with that curious mixture of robber-baron and schoolboy morality could have thought of such a thing.
Then because they thought the Russians were low people they broke into the offices of the Russian Government in London and did not find anything. But it is no use complaining, it is only part of the culture that we instill. I hope you will understand the Russian remedy. When the Russians did carry through their revolution, and there was no democratic nonsense about it, they had to reconstruct, and they had the sense to know what we have not the sense to know, that the whole future of the State they were setting up would depend on the culture, in the sense I have been using the word, the education of the child from the beginning - their lessons, their morals, their manners, their religion.
Accordingly, they said, there is one absolute condition. No person who has ever been at the Russian equivalent of an English university or an English public school shall ever be allowed to get into contact with a Russian child, even if for the first years we have to go on with scavengers as professors and teachers, with men who have to learn tonight the lesson they are going to teach tomorrow.
We must get rid of this culture; we must get rid of it from the beginning; we must get it out of our elementary schools. Certainly that is one of the things that is before the Minister of Education. The one thing Oxford does teach efficiently and throughout is the Oxford mentality. There is not a single one of the other things it teaches that cannot be learned better without going to Oxford, but to get that mentality you must go to Oxford, and they will get it into you with the most extraordinary success.
Secondly, one of the first acts of an intelligent government would be to make a law disqualifying graduates and undergraduates of our universities from all public employment, making them ineligible for election to any public body, and in particular disqualifying them for the post of teacher.
People who are brought up on the Bible as we are at present are unfit to manage a modern whelk stall, much less a great Commonwealth. As you all know, I do not suppose anybody has fought harder against materialism than I have; nevertheless, that sort of materialism which the Russians are now teaching in their schools is far better, even at its hardest and worst and narrowest, than deliberately teaching children lies which everybody knows to be lies.
0656 K Wells int on Shaw; new book discussed
12/15/29 The public that watches for the appearance of each new volume by Bernard Shaw has not yet been informed of his latest work, it was learned yesterday from Gabriel Wells, bibliophile and rare book dealer, 145 West Fifty-seventh Street, who returned Friday on the Bremen after nearly a year abroad.
When the new work by Shaw, which as yet has been seen by only a few of his friends, will be given to the public, Mr Wells was unable to tell. But he said it was a study of the life and art of the late Ellen Terry, eminent English actress, and was being withheld at the advice of friends as "too revealing." A few copies of the work have actually been printed.
While in London, Mr Wells, who owns many Shaw letters and several manuscripts, made a number of visits to the playwright. Mrs Shaw is now selecting letters by her husband in the collection of Mr Wells for publication.
Few persons know the extreme kindness and generosity of Mr Shaw, in the opinion of Mr Wells. "It was said of Robespierre that he loved all mankind except those he knew personally, and of Clemenceau that he loved France but disliked the French," Mr Wells said. "It is the other way with Shaw. Although he is cynical about people in general, he is trustful and loyal and almost affectionate to people he knows. I don't think I know a more kind-hearted man."
Shaw's whole technique,
Mr Wells, is having "no mental reservations." He makes
enemies because he says what he thinks - "the things other
people think but won't say." Mr Shaw revealed to him, Mr Wells
said, that the model for the waiter in You Never Can Tell
an eminent British statesman and Cabinet Minister.
After one of his visits to Mr Shaw, Mr Wells said, he remarked on leaving: "I'm afraid you will never let me come back. I have stayed too long and talked too much."
"Not at all," the playwright laughed. "I'm that way myself."
0655 Presentation of Apple Cart barred in Dresden, Germany
12/14/29 The prohibition of a performance of Bernard Shaw's new play, The Apple Cart, at the Stattheatre here was created the greatest surprise, especially among Democratic and Socialist circles, on behalf of whom the Prime Minister, Dr Buenger, is said to have issued the prohibitory decree.
Dr Buenger held the play might hurt their republican feelings. The two parties insist, however, that neither of them had ever raised any objections against the play and that they are at a loss to understand the motive of the Prime Minister, who is at the same time Minister of Education and Culture.
0654 S Botzaris, painter, loses autographed por of him
12/13/29 A young sculptor, whose great-grandfather was Marcos Botzaris, hero of Greece's fight for freedom against Turkey, has come to this country to give his first art exhibition, but because of an accident here he will not be able to carry out the joking advice which he received from Bernard Shaw.
Several years ago when the young sculptor, Sava Botzaris, was starting his career in London Mr Shaw granted his pleas for an opportunity to sketch him. When the drawing was completed, Botzaris showed it to the playwright and requested his signature. Smilingly Mr Shaw autographed the portrait and then signed his name on five blank sheets of the sketching pad.
"Copy the portrait on those sheets I have autographed," advised Mr Shaw, laughing, "and sell them to the Americans. They will pay more for my portraits if I autograph them." One of the sketches Botzaris did sell, but kept the four others for his exhibition here, which opens at the Fifty-sixth Street Galleries on Dec 30. Meantime he made drawings of other eminent Londoners and obtained their signatures.
Just before sailing for this country several weeks ago, Botzaris called on Mr Shaw to say good-bye. The playwright reached for his checkbook and drew a check for £60, which he presented the sculptor for passage money to this country. "You are young," Shaw said, according to the sculptor. "I want to give you this for good luck."
0653 Views discussed in article on Fabians, pors
12/8/29 Before an audience that filled a large hall in Kingsway one night recently, a tall man with a big head, a thin voice and a dry humor introduced Professor H J Laski, who dealt with the House of Commons in a brilliant but very disrespectful manner and disposed summarily of the House of Lords by prescribing its abolition. The tall man was Lord Sankey, the Lord High Chancellor, who holds the highest judicial office in the kingdom and consequently bears the traditional designation of "Keeper of the King's Conscience." He was presiding at a lecture of the Fabian Society, which for nearly half a century has devoted itself assiduously to the task of abolishing - very gradually and gently and judiciously - the present social system.
Next to the Lord Chancellor sat a benign-looking patriarch whose black suit accentuated the snowy whiteness of his hair and beard. He sits there at all the Fabian lectures, and the last one of the series he delivers himself. On this particular evening he said not a word; but at the close of the lecture he leaned over the edge of the platform and helped collect the questions, written on odd-sized bits of paper, which were passed up from the audience to the Lord Chancellor, who carefully smoothed out each sheet before giving it to the lecturer.
This venerable revolutionary was Bernard Shaw. He happens (incidentally) to be the most renowned of living dramatists, and as he sat upon the Fabian platform his latest play was being presented to a full house in the West End. But, as he himself has put it, he got his start in Hyde Park with a cart and a trumpet - that is, as a soap-box orator - and he likes the fact to be remembered. Shaw was an ardent Fabian long before he won distinction as a playwright; he still is a Fabian and he can seldom quite forget it, even when writing a play. He doubtless has devoted more time during the last fifty years to writing devastating pamphlets and to making Socialist speeches in all the corners of London than he has devoted to writing plays. One sometimes suspects that he wrote his plays largely for the purpose of attaching to each one a sort of Fabian tract in the form of a long preface, and he probably is actually more proud of his essays on Jevons' theory of value and of such chefs d'oeuvres as Fabian Tract No 116 (entitled "Fabianism and the Fiscal Question") than he is of being the author of Candida.
So this genial veteran sits in Kingsway Hall not as G. B. S. the successful dramatist, but as G. B. S., the successful Fabian - as one of the brilliant pioneers in a long intellectual and political tussle which has made it possible for a Labor Government to take office in Great Britain. Old Fabians remember the time, forty years ago, when Shaw was greeted with a rain of stones and bottles as he mounted his soapbox in London streets; today he sits beside the "Keeper of the King's Conscience" and thousands pay to hear him speak, while many come just to see him sitting there.
At the entrance to the hall a bookstall offers an array of books and pamphlets - of Kingsley, Owen, Morris, Ruskin, Bentham and Mill, even a book of Socialist songs. Among them is a volume entitled, "The Decay of Capitalist Civilization," written a few years ago by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, two of the most noted of the Fabians. Sidney Webb, the sage of British socialism, now sits in the House of Lords with the title of Lord Passfield and, as Secretary of State for the Dominions and Colonies, administers a good share of the empire - though his wife, a distinguished Fabian and scholar, who for decades has enjoyed a singular political influence, has declined the honor of becoming a mere peeress.
Af ter forty-six years of patient, persistent pamphleteering, of debates and reports on all manner of social questions, the Fabians have at last come into power. It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the British Empire is governed just by Fabians. A former Fabian is Prime Minister and twenty members of the Fabian Society hold posts in the present government, eight of them being in the Cabinet proper. In the Fabian lectures this Winter, which were presented under the general title "Social Evolution: the Next Ten Years," one sensed an air of confidence which seemed to say: "The next decade belongs to us and it is time to consider what we are going to do with it."
The Fabians are the encyclopedists of British Socialism. They have done the library-grubbing and the manifesto-making for the Labor party. They have compiled carloads of statistics and drawn up hundreds of reports and programs. They have written books and electioneered and "propaganded"; they have made speeches on street corners, in trade-union halls, in slums and in drawing rooms; they have lectured and organized and entertained; they have strewn the British Isles with facts and arguments. They have devoted their superior talents and education to the double purpose of supplying the working classes with a reasoned program for the realization of their aspirations and of convincing the "brain workers" and the middle class generally of the desirability and practicability of "the reorganization of society by the emancipation of land and industrial capital from individual and class ownership and the vesting of them in the community for the general benefit."
The Fabians have never been numerous. They were slightly more than two hundred in 1890 and they number only about two thousand today (most of them being listed in "Who's Who"). But their influence, thanks to their exceptional ability and industry, has reached far beyond the British Isles. Many an American student, in the last forty years, has come upon the "Fabian Essays in Socialism" (edited by Bernard Shaw) and has been impressed by their scholarship and lucidity, if not convinced by their arguments. Never has the case for socialism been more effectively presented.
Though they wanted a
reorganized society, the Fabians were not in a hurry. They knew it
would be a long time in coming and were prepared to wait and to work
for it in the traditional British manner. In practice they differed,
and still differ, little from hardworking Liberals. So they named
their society after Quintus Fabius Maximus, who knew how to wait when
he was warring with Hannibal.
But this did not prevent them, in the beginning, from being gay and militant revolutionaries. Shaw, one of the gayest and most militant, has described the Fabian temper of the '80s and the transition it underwent in consequence of the Fabians' sense of humor and their British practicality.
"The Fabian Society was warlike in its origin," he said. "It came into existence through a schism in an earlier society for the peaceful regeneration of the race by the cultivation of perfection of individual character. Certain members modestly feeling that the revolution would have to wait an unreasonably long time if postponed until they personally had attained perfection, set up the banner of socialism militant, seceded from the regenerators and established themselves independently as the Fabian Society.
"We denounced the capitalists as thieves and, among ourselves, talked revolution, anarchism, labor notes versus passbooks and all the rest of it, on the tacit assumption that the object of our campaign - with its watchwords, "Educate, Agitate, Organize" was to bring about a tremendous smash-up of existing society, to be succeeded by complete socialism. And this meant that we had no true practical understanding either of existing society or socialism. Without being quite definitely aware of this, we yet felt it to a certain extent all along; for it was at this period that we contracted the invaluable habit of freely laughing at ourselves which has always distinguished us, and which has saved us from becoming hampered by the gushing enthusiasts who mistake their own emotions for public movements. From the first, such people fled after one glance at us, declaring that we were not serious.
"Our preference for practical suggestions and criticisms, our impatience of all general expressions of sympathy with working-class aspirations, not to mention our way of chaffing our opponents in preference to denouncing them as enemies of the human race, repelled from us some warm-hearted and eloquent Socialists, to whom it seemed callous and cynical to be even commonly self-possessed in the presence of the sufferings upon which Socialists make war."
So the Fabians, without departing from their principles, became sobered by experience. They soon ceased to bother about such ultimate and academic questions as the ideal currency for a Socialist State and plunged into intense study of economic theory and such timely subjects as unemployment, the eight-hour day, municipal ownership, public markets and poor-law reform. They became recognized authorities and nobody dared to say any longer that they did not know economics. If the Labor party, in its early days, wanted an expert report on almost any conceivable social question, it had only to send word to the Fabian Society, and Sidney Webb, who is almost omniscient in this field, would draw one up over night.
The Fabians continued to "educate, agitate, and organize," but they did so in their own way. While others were getting up unemployment demonstrations, they were digging in the library and sharpening their wits at debating societies. They founded the Hampstead Historic Club, which became a class for historic study, each student taking his turn as teacher. They delivered lectures and wrote tracts on all sorts of social questions.
Shaw has told how he "haunted all kinds of hole-and-corner debates and public meetings and made speeches at them." "Every Sunday," he says, "I lectured on some subject which I wanted to teach myself; and it was not until I had come to the point of being able to deliver separate lectures, without notes, on rent, interest, profits, wages, Toryism, Liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, trade-unionism, cooperation, democracy, the division of society into classes and the suitability of human nature to systems of just distribution that I was able to handle social democracy.
"All our best lecturers have two or three old lectures at the back of every single point in their best new speeches; and this means that they have spent a certain number of years plodding away at footling little meetings and dull discussions, doggedly placing these before all private engagements, however tempting. A man's socialistic acquisitiveness must be keen enough to make him actually prefer spending two or three nights a week in speaking and debating, or in picking up social information in the most dingy and scrappy way, to going to the theater or dancing or drinking, or even sweethearting, if he is to become a really competent propagandist."
If the Labor party, which is nearly twenty years younger than the Fabian Society, has at last been able to form a government, with the help of middle-class votes, it owes its success to a great extent to its middle-class allies, the Fabians, who have done such effective axe-work.
For the Fabian Society is eminently British, not only in its patient opportunism and its undogmatic practicality, but also in its class consciousness. Egalitarian though it be in its philosophy - Shaw going so far as to advocate absolute equality of income - the society is a strictly middle-class body and its members are "put up" and elected, as in an exclusive club.
The Fabians are professional men and women - writers, journalists, teachers (including numerous professors at Oxford and Cambridge), physicians, lawyers, former army officers, members of the higher ranks of the civil service and men with independent incomes. To many Continentals it is a mystery how such people can identify themselves openly with a Socialist movement without suffering socially or professionally. But in England they can and do. Their exclusiveness does not prevent their cooperating with the trade unions and the Labor party - of which the Fabian Society is a constituent part.
For the Labor party is not an exclusively working-class party. It addresses itself to "producers by hand and brain," and has thousands of middle-class members. Consequently it has at its service a good share of the intelligence of the nation. Numerous Liberals have gone over to the Labor party in recent years, notably the late Lord Haldane, Lord Arnold, Wedgwood Benn, Sir William Jowitt, Lieut. Commander Kenworthy and Arthur Ponsonby; and in Lady Cynthia Mosely and Oliver Baldwin, son of the Conservative leader. Labor has won recruits even from Tory families.
In no other country is there anything like the Fabian Society, a middle-class organizations led by some of the most gifted writers and speakers in the land, on the one hand allying itself with working-class Socialist movements, on the other hand "permeating the Liberals" and making converts among members of its own class. But in no other country is there so much tolerance and flexibility in politics, combined with rigid social traditions.
11/29/29 The Prince of Wales and Bernard Shaw divided interest tonight with Primo Carnera, the seven-foot Italian heavyweight boxer, at a ring show conducted under amateur rules for charity. A fashionable crowd of spectators was on hand.
Carnera held the spotlight when he prepared for the ring, unaware that the English have a rigid rule that boxers at amateur shows must be clothed above the waist. He said he had never fought in an undervest and never would, but finally agreed to go on when he received a private message from the Prince of Wales, who apparently was worried lest the big Italian might appear only in trunks before an audience which contained a number of society women.
There was some difficulty in finding a singlet big enough for the Italian, but he at last was clothed in one which was as tight as a sausage skin over his 285 pounds of muscle.
While some of the other bouts were in progress a messenger from the party of the Prince of Wales spoke to Mr Shaw, who vigorously shook his head. This incident was repeated twice, whereupon some suspicious members of the audience jumped to the conclusion that the celebrated author had refused to meet the Prince and began to hiss him. Later it was learned that what Mr Shaw had refused was a request from the Prince that he relieve the latter of the duty of presenting the prizes to the boxers.
0651 Sends congratulatory letter to C B Cochran on London production of Silver Tassie
11/26/29 Charles B Chochran announced the withdrawal of Sean O'Casey's play The Silver Tassie, on Dec. 7, after which the production and scenery will be shipped to New York for a presentation, despite the fact that it has already been produced there by the Irish Theater.
Mr Chochran has received a congratulatory letter from G B Shaw which reads: "There is new drama rising from the unplumbed depths to sweep the nice, little bourgeois efforts of myself and my contemporaries into the dustbin. If only some one would build you a huge Woolworth theater [all seats six pence] to start with O'Casey and O'Neill and no plays by men who had ever seen a five-pound note before they were 30 or been inside a school after the were 13, you would be buried in Westminster Abbey."
0650 Dictatorship complex
11/24/29 After several years of comparative quiet Mount Bernard Shaw has for some time been in a state of continuous eruption. Of this celebrated volcanic peak it is always difficult to say how much of its activity is the expression of a genuine inner convulsion and how much is fireworks of a high amusement and publicity content. The late Shaw outbreaks against democracy and in favor of the mailed fist and the man on horseback have been so sustained that one must assume they are in considerable measure sincere. The hearty endorsement of Mussolini which gave so much pain to Mr Shaw's fellow-Socialists has not been withdrawn, but on the contrary reiterated. His admiration for the Soviet methods of getting results has been placed several times on record. In his annual Fabian lecture he has just warned his countrymen that they are by no means immune against a Mussolini if they do not mend their ways. He looks about him and finds that most thoughtful people are "distracted by the sheer impossibility of getting things done."
It is odd that Bernard Shaw, whose life-work has been the promulgation of new ideas, should in this matter be getting all heated up about a notion that is being pretty generally discarded. One thing that thoughtful people have done in the last two or three years is to rid themselves of the dictatorship obsession. The fad had its greatest run about the year 1926. Germany was then only beginning to emerge from her troubles. Great Britain was faced with acute labor difficulties. France seemed headed for financial shipwreck. Then were heard prophecies that these sick nations were bound to go in for the fascist cure. The three leading nations of Europe refused to do so. They have managed to do so well without the dictatorship patent medicine that inevitably the bottled remedy has lost in reputation.
Even of Italy it was always open to argue that her progress under Mussolini was no more rapid than the normal pace of recovery elsewhere in Europe under democratic institutions. But then came striking demonstrations of democracy's capacity to deal even with crisis. Germany, a defeated and humiliated and economically prostrate nation, worked her way back to stability, prosperity and international prestige by plebiscites, elections, parliamentary party government and other discredited democratic methods. Great Britain met and conquered the menace of social revolution in the form of a General Strike without calling in a dictator. France pulled herself together on the very edge of bankruptcy and started out on an amazing boom through the efforts of no Napoleon, but, on the contrary, of a legalminded Premier operating with the very slimmest of parliamentary majorities.
Facts, even of such impressive dimensions as those cited, are not everything to Mr Shaw. But, in the present instance, it is not altogether a case of turning a blind eye on them. The point is that when he speaks of getting things done he has in mind the particular things he wants done. He wants socialism put over in England and elsewhere; and undeniably for the purpose of putting things over, the dictator - Fascist or Soviet - is a more efficient force than our slow-paced democratic agencies. The case for despotism is obviously unanswerable if it takes the form of saying that the despot is the most efficient agent for getting the things which the despot wants done. If you want the Italian people and the Russian peasants to go your way, cost what you will, you employ one method. If you believe that the British or French or German people for their well-being need leaders instead of masters, you employ another method.
0649 Says Brit must reform Govt, in annual Fabian Soci lecture
11/22/29 Bernard Shaw tonight outlined new machinery of government which, he said, British democrats must adopt in the next decade if it would escape violent revolution or Fascist dictatorship. Speaking with unaccustomed solemnity in an annual Fabian lecture, Mr Shaw warned that the present methods of government had broken down and become intolerable in modern society. No government will "get anything done," in his opinion, unless existing institutions are scrapped and new ones created.
He advocated, specifically, many Parliaments in place of one, a panel system for public election whereby all candidates would have to pass a capability test, and complete separation of "the Oxford-Cambridge influence" from the education of English children.
'We never believe that anything like the Mussolini or Pilsudsky dictatorships can happen to us," Mr Shaw asserted. "We imagine such things might happen to temperamental Italians or romantic opera singers, Poles or barbarians and Serbs, but never to the solid English. Yet I think most thoughtful people in this country are distracted by the sheer impossibility of getting things done."
The first step toward reform, Mr Shaw contended, should be the extension of the League of Nations diplomacy. "This country and other powers must treat the League seriously," he declared. The second step would be the transformation of the British foreign office.
"Is it to go on being the headquarters of backstairs intrigue, as it is now?" he asked. "I suggest there should be a council of Ambassadors who should conduct all their business in each other's presence with a foreign secretary.
"You must have not one but several parliaments. You want a common wealth parliament, then a British federal parliament. Then there must be national parliaments, including one for Scotland. And remember there must be two or three of each - political, industrial and more. You must have regional parliaments which would do away with the whole obsolete system of district councils, town councils and rural councils."
When Mr Shaw reached the subject of education he held up Soviet Russia as an example and accused the old English universities of developing "the robber baron mentality," which, he said, produced Winston Churchills and Lord Birkenheads.
"If some strange accident should upset this country and make me dictator, the first thing I'd say would be that not one man who has been from Eton to Oxford or from Harrow to Cambridge should be allowed to come within a mile of an English child. There should be laws disqualifying them from public offices, from public bodies and especially from the post of teacher.
"Who made the great war, anyhow? It was the people all over Europe who had the Oxford type of education." Some one in the audience asked Mr Shaw if he had ever gone to a university. With a flourish of indignation, but with a twinkle in his eye, he replied: "Of course I never did. Do you think I would have talked to you as I have if I had ever gone to a university?"
0648 Lr on s
11/10/29 To the Editor of The New York Times: I am sure the majority of readers settle down expectantly to read when they come to reports in The Times of Bernard Shaw's speeches, addresses and so on. And the one on democracy! How superlatively sound, phrase-artistic and vigorous! He prays us go home and think of it - think of what he says is his last word. Being a student of sociology, I did think of it and around it. Not in a masterful way, you understand, but perhaps usefully.
It is indeed a sign of progress to see Mr Shaw broadcasting thus on what I judge to be the true complexion of politics in England now. While he offered an extraordinary amount in the way of suggestions for improvement, I simply fail to comprehend how he came to overlook the factor of education. I believe he purposely avoided that word. Yet his very address is itself a terrific educational force, and in extension of the same principle lies, I believe, the greatest single factor, next to widespread voracious reading, in accelerating progress in sociology.
H L Shatford
11/3/29 Your Majesties, your Royal Highnesses, your Excellencies, your Graces and Reverences, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen and fellow-citizens of all degrees : I am going to talk to you about Democracy objectively : that is, as it exists and as we must all reckon with it equally, no matter what our points of view may be. Suppose I were to talk to you not about Democracy, but about the sea, which is in some respects rather like democracy ! We all have our own views of the sea. Some of us hate it, and are never well when at it or in it or on it. Others love it, and are never so happy as when they are in it or on it or looking at it. Some of us regard it as Britain's natural realm and surest bulwark : others want a Channel tunnel. But certain facts about the sea are quite independent of our feelings toward it. If I take for granted that the sea exists, none of you will contradict me. If I say that it is sometimes furiously violent and always uncertain, and that those who are most familiar with it trust it least, you will not immediately shriek out that I do not believe in the sea; that I am going to make bathing illegal; that I am out to ruin our carrying trade and lay waste all our seaside resorts and scrap the British Navy. If I tell you that you cannot breathe in the sea, you will not take that as a personal insult and ask me indignantly if I consider you inferior to a fish. Well, you must be equally sensible when I tell you some hard facts about democracy. When I tell you that it is sometimes furiously violent and always dangerous and treacherous, and that those who are familiar with it as practical statesmen trust it least, you must not at once denounce me as a paid agent of Benito Mussolini, or declare that I have become a Tory Die-Hard in my old age, and accuse me of wanting to take away your votes and make an end of parliament, and the franchise, and free speech, and public meeting, and trial by jury. Still less must you rise in your places and give me three rousing cheers as the champion of medieval monarchy and feudalism. I am quite innocent of any such extravagances. All I mean is that whether we are Democrats or Tories, Catholics, or Protestants, Communists or Fascists, we are all face to face with a certain force in the world called Democracy ; and we must understand the nature of that force whether we want to fight it or to forward it. Our business is not to deny the perils of Democracy, but to provide against them as far as we can, and then consider whether the risks we cannot provide against are worth taking.
Democracy, as you know it, is seldom more than a long word beginning with a capital letter, which we accept reverently or disparage contemptuously without asking any questions. Now we should never accept anything reverently until we have asked it a great many very searching questions, the first two being What are you ? and Where do you live ? When I put these question to Democracy the answer I get is “ My name is Demos ; and I live in the British Empire, the United States of America, and wherever the love of liberty burns in the heart of man. You, my friend Shaw, are a unit of Democracy : your name is also Demos : you are a citizen of a great democratic community : you are a potential constituent of the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World.” At this I usually burst into loud cheers, which do credit to my enthusiastic nature. To-night, however, I shall do nothing of the sort : I shall say “Dont talk nonsense. My name is not Demos : it is Bernard Shaw. My address is not the British Empire, nor the United States of America, nor wherever the love of liberty burns in the heart of man : it is at such and such a number in such and such a street in London ; and it will be time enough to discuss my seat in the Parliament of Man when that celebrated institution comes into existence. I dont believe your name is Demos : nobody's name is Demos ; and all I can make of your address is that you have no address, and are just a tramp – if indeed you exist at all.”
You will notice that I am too polite to call Demos a wind-bag or a hot air merchant; but I am going to ask you to begin our study of Democracy by considering it first as a big balloon, filled with gas or hot air, and sent up so that you shall be kept looking up at the sky whilst other people are picking your pockets. When the balloon comes down to earth every five years or so you are invited to get into the basket if you can throw out one of the people who are sitting tightly in it ; but as you can afford neither the time nor the money, and there are forty millions of you and hardly room for six hundred in the basket, the balloon goes up again with much the same lot in it and leaves you where you were before. I think you will admit that the balloon as an image of Democracy corresponds to the parliamentary facts.
Now let us examine a more poetic conception of Democracy. Abraham Lincoln is represented as standing amid the carnage of the battlefield of Gettysburg, and declaring that all that slaughter of Americans by Americans occurred in order that Democracy, defined as government of the people for the people by the people, should not perish from the earth. Let us pick this famous peroration to pieces and see what there really is inside it. (By the way, Lincoln did not really declaim it on the field of Gettysburg ; and the American Civil War was not fought in defence of any such principle, but, on the contrary, to enable one half of the United States to force the other half to be governed as they did not wish to be governed. But never mind that. I mentioned it only to remind you that it seems impossible for statesmen to make speeches about Democracy, or journalists to report them, without obscuring it in a cloud of humbug).
Now for the three articles of the definition. Number One : Government of the people : that, evidently, is necessary : a human community can no more exist without a government than a human being can exist without a co-ordinated control of its breathing and blood circulation. Number Two : Government for the people, is most important. Dean Inge put it perfectly for us when he called Democracy a form of society which means equal consideration for all. He added that it is a Christian principle, and that, as a Christian, he believes in it. So do I. That is why I insist on equality of income. Equal consideration for a person with a hundred a year and one with a hundred thousand is impossible. But Number Three : Government by the people, is quite a different matter. All the monarchs, all the tyrants, all the dictators, all the Die-hard Tories are agreed that we must be governed. Democrats like the Dean and myself are agreed that we must be governed with equal consideration for everybody. But we repudiate Number Three on the ground that the people cannot govern. The thing is a physical impossibility. Every citizen cannot be a ruler any more than every boy can be an engine driver or a pirate king. A nation of prime ministers or dictators is as absurd as an army of field marshals. Government by the people is not and never can be a reality : it is only a cry by which demagogues humbug us into voting for them. If you doubt this – if you ask me “ Why should not the people make their own laws?” I need only ask you “ Why should not the people write their own plays?” They cannot. It is much easier to write a good play than to make a good law. And there are not a hundred men in the world who can write a play good enough to stand daily wear and tear as long as a law must.
Now comes the question, If we cannot govern ourselves, what can we do to save ourselves from being at the mercy of those who can govern, and who may quite possibly be thoroughpaced grafters and scoundrels ? The primitive answer is that as we are always in a huge majority we can, if rulers oppress us intolerably, burn their houses and tear them to pieces. This is not satisfactory. Decent people never do it until they have quite lost their heads ; and when they have lost their heads they are as likely as not to burn the wrong house and tear the wrong man to pieces. When we have what is called a popular movement very few people take part in it know what it is all about. I once saw a real popular movement in London. People were running excitedly through the streets. Everyone who saw them doing it immediately joined in the rush. They ran simply because everyone else was doing it. It was most impressive to see thousands of people sweeping along at full speed like that. There could be no doubt that it was literally a popular movement. I ascertained afterwards that it was started by a run-away cow. That cow had an important share in my education as a political philosopher ; and I can assure you that if you will study crowds, and lost and terrified animals, and things like that, instead of reading books and newspaper articles, you will learn a great deal about politics from them. Most general elections, for instance, are nothing but stampedes. Our last but one was a conspicuous example of this. The cow was a Russian one.
I think we may take it that neither mob violence nor popular movements can be depended on as checks upon the abuse of power by governments. One might suppose that at least they would act as a last resort when an autocrat goes mad and commits outrageous excesses of tyranny and cruelty. But it is a curious fact that they never do. Take two famous cases : those of Nero and Tsar Paul the First of Russia. If Nero had been an ordinary professional fiddler he would probably have been no worse a man than any member of the wireless orchestra. If Paul had been a lieutenant in a line regiment we should never have heard of him. But when these two poor fellows were invested with absolute powers over their fellow-creatures they went mad, and did such appalling things that they had to be killed like mad dogs. Only, it was not the people that rose up and killed them. They were dispatched quite privately by a very select circle of their own bodyguards. For a genuinely democratic execution of unpopular statesmen we must run to the brothers De Witt, who were torn to pieces by a Dutch mob in the seventeenth century. They were neither tyrants nor autocrats. On the contrary, one of them had been imprisoned and tortured for his resistance to the despotism of William of Orange ; and the other had come to meet him as he came out of prison. The mob was on the side of the autocrat. We may take it that the shortest way for a tyrant to get rid of a troublesome champion of liberty is to raise a hue and cry against him as an unpatriotic person, and leave the mob to do the rest after supplying them with a well tipped ringleader. Nowadays this is called direct action by the revolutionary proletariat. Those who put their faith in it soon find that proletarians are never revolutionary, and that their direct action, when it is controlled at all, is usually controlled by police agents.
Democracy, then, cannot be government by the people : it can only be government by consent of the governed. Unfortunately, when democratic statesmen propose to govern us by our own consent, they find that we dont want to be governed at all, and that we regard rates and taxes and rents and death duties as intolerable burdens. What we want to know is how little government we can get along with without being murdered in our beds. That question cannot be answered until we have explained what we mean by getting along. Savages manage to get along. Unruly Arabs and Tartars get along. The only rule in the matter is that the civilized way of getting along is the way of corporate action, not individual action ; and corporate action involves more government than individual action.
Thus government, which used to be a comparatively simple affair, today has to manage an enormous development of Socialism and Communism. Our industrial and social life is set in a huge communistic framework of public roadways, streets, bridges, water supplies, power supplies, lighting, tramways, schools, dockyards, and public aids and conveniences, employing a prodigious army of police, inspectors, teachers, and officials of all grades in hundreds of departments. We have found by bitter experience that it is impossible to trust factories, workshops, and mines to private management. Only by stern laws enforced by constant inspection have we stopped the monstrous waste of human life and welfare it cost when it was left uncontrolled by the Government. During the war our attempt to leave the munitioning of the army to private enterprise led us to the verge of defeat and caused an appalling slaughter of our soldiers. When the Government took the work out of private hands and had it done in national factories it was at once successful. The private firms were still allowed to do what little they could ; but they had to be taught to do it economically, and to keep their accounts properly, by Government officials. Our big capitalist enterprises now run to the Government for help as a lamb runs to its mother. They cannot even make an extension of the Tube railway in London without Government aid. Unassisted private capitalism is breaking down or getting left behind in all directions. If all our Socialism and Communism and the drastic taxation of unearned incomes which finances it were to stop, our private enterprises would drop like shot stags. And we should all be dead in a month. When Mr. Baldwin tried to win the last election by declaring that Socialism had been a failure whenever and wherever it had been tried, Socialism went over him like a steam roller and handed his office to a Socialist Prime Minister. Nothing could save us in the war but a great extension of Socialism ; and now it is clear enough that only still greater extensions of it can repair the ravages of the war and keep pace with the growing requirements of civilization.
What we have to ask ourselves, then, is not whether we will have Socialism and Communism or not, but whether Democracy can keep pace with the developments of both that are being forced on us by the growth of national and international corporate action.
Now corporate action is impossible without a governing body. It may be the central Government : it may be a municipal corporation, a county council, a district council, or a parish council. It may be the board of directors of a joint stock company, or of a trust made by combining several joint stock companies. Such boards, elected by the votes of the shareholders, are little States within the State, and very powerful ones, too, some of them. If they have not laws and kings, they have by-laws and chairmen. And you and I, the consumers of their services, are more at the mercy of the boards that organize them than we are at the mercy of parliament. Several active politicians who began as Liberals and are now Socialists have said to me that they were converted by seeing that the nation had to choose, not between governmental control of industry and control by separate private individuals kept in order by their competition for our custom, but between governmental control and control by gigantic trusts wielding great power without responsibility, and having no object but to make as much money out of us as possible. Our Government is at this moment having much more trouble with the private corporations on whom we are dependent for our coals and cotton goods than with France or the United States of America. We are in the hands of our corporate bodies, public or private, for the satisfaction of our everyday needs. Their powers are life and death powers. I need not labor this point : we all know it.
But what we do not all realize is that we are equally dependent on corporate action for the satisfaction of our religious needs. Dean Inge tells us that our general elections have become public auctions at which the contending parties bid against one another for our votes by each promising us a larger share than the other of the plunder of the minority. Now that is perfectly true. The contending parties do not as yet venture to put it exactly in those words ; but that is what it comes to. And the Dean's profession obliges him to urge his congregation, which is much wider than that of St Paul's (it extends across the Atlantic), always to vote for the party which pledges itself to go farthest in enabling those of us who have great possessions to sell them and give the price to the poor. But we cannot do this as private persons. It must be done by the Government or not at all. Take my own case. I am not a young man with great possessions ; but I am an old man paying enough in income tax and surtax to provide doles for some hundreds of unemployed and old age pensioners. I have not the smallest objection to this : on the contrary, I advocated it strongly for years before I had any income worth taxing. But I could not do it if the Government did not arrange it for me. If the government ceased taxing my superfluous money and redistributing it among people who have no incomes at all, I could do nothing by myself. What could I do ? Can you suggest anything ? I could send my war bonds to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and invite him to cancel the part of the National Debt that they represent ; and he would undoubtedly thank me in the most courteous official terms for my patriotism. But the poor would not get any of it. The other payers of surtax and income tax and death duties would save the interest they now have to pay on it : that is all. I should only have made the rich richer and myself poorer. I could burn all my share certificates and inform the secretaries of the companies that they might write off that much of their capital indebtedness. The result would be a bigger divided for the rest of the shareholders, with the poor out in the cold as before. I might sell my war bonds and share certificates for cash, and throw the money into the street to be scrambled for ; but it would be snatched up, not by the poorest, but by the best fed and most able-bodied of the scramblers. Besides, if we all tried to sell our bonds and shares – and this is what you have to consider ; for Christ's advice was not addressed to me alone but to all who have great possessions – the result would be that their value would fall to nothing, as the Stock Exchange would immediately become a market in which there were all sellers an no buyers. Accordingly, any spare money that the Government leaves me is invested where I can get the highest interest and the best security, as thereby I can make sure that it goes where it is most wanted and gives immediate employment. This is the best I can do without Government interference : indeed any other way of dealing with my spare money would be foolish and demoralizing ; and the poor become relatively poorer and poorer. So you see I cannot even be a Christian except through Government action ; and neither can the Dean.
Now let us get down to the problem. We cannot govern ourselves ; yet if we entrust the immense powers and revenues which are necessary in an effective modern Government to an absolute monarch or dictator, he goes more or less mad unless he is a quite extraordinary and therefore very seldom obtainable person. Besides, modern government is not a one-man job : it is too big for that. If we resort to a committee or parliament of superior persons, they will set up an oligarchy and abuse their power for their own benefit. Our dilemma is that men in the lump cannot govern themselves ; and yet, as William Morris put it, no man is good enough to be another man's master. We need to be governed, and yet to control our governors. But the best governors will not accept any control except that of their own consciences ; and, as we who are governed are also apt to abuse any power of control we have, our ignorances, our passions, our private and immediate interests are constantly in conflict with the knowledge, the wisdom, and the public spirit and regard for the future of our best qualified governors.
Still, if we cannot control our governors, can we not at least choose them and change them if they do not suit?
Let me invent a primitive imaginary example of democratic choice. It is always best to take imaginary examples : they offend nobody. Imagine then that we are the inhabitants of a village. We have to elect somebody for the office of postman. There are several candidates ; but one stands out conspicuously, because he has frequently treated us at the public-house, has subscribed a shilling to our little flower show, has a kind word for the children when he passes, and is a victim of oppression by the squire because his late father was one of our most successful poachers. We elect him triumphantly ; and he is duly installed, uniformed, provided with a red bicycle, and given a batch of letters to deliver. As his motive in seeking the post has been pure ambition, he has not thought much beforehand about his duties ; and it now occurs to him for the first time that he cannot read. So he hires a boy to come round with him and read the addresses. The boy conceals himself in the lane whilst the postman delivers the letters at the house, takes the Christmas boxes, and gets the whole credit of the transaction. In course of time he dies with a high reputation for efficiency in the discharge of his duties ; and we elect another equally illiterate successor on similar grounds. But by this time the boy has grown up and become an institution. He presents himself to the new postman as an established and indispensable feature of the postal system, and finally becomes recognized and paid by the village as such.
Here you have the perfect image of a popularly elected Cabinet Minister and the Civil Service department over which he presides. It may work very well ; for our postman, though illiterate, may be very capable fellow ; and the boy who reads the addresses for him may be quite incapable of doing anything more. But this does not always happen. Whether it happens or not, the system is not a democratic reality : it is a democratic illusion. The boy, when he has ability enough to take advantage of the situation, is the master of the man. The person elected to do the work is not really doing it : he is a popular humbug who is merely doing what a permanent official tells him to do. That is how it comes about that we are now governed by a Civil Service which has such enormous power that its regulations are taking the place of the laws of England, though some of them are made for the convenience of the officials without the slightest regard to the convenience or even the right of the public. And how are our Civil Servants selected ? Mostly by an educational test which nobody but an expensively schooled youth can pass, thus making the most powerful and effective part of our government an irresponsible class government.
Now, what control have you or I over the Services ? We have votes. I have used mine a few times to see what it is like. Well, it is like this. When the election approaches, two or three persons of whom I know nothing write to me soliciting my vote and enclosing a list of meetings, and election address, and a polling card. One of the addresses reads like an article in The Morning Post, and has a Union Jack on it. Another is like The Daily News or Manchester Guardian. Both might have been compiled from the editorial waste paper baskets of a hundred years ago. A third address, more-up-to-date and much better phrased, convinces me that the sender has had it written for him at the headquarters of the Labor Party. A fourth, the most hopelessly out of date of them all, contains scraps of the early English translations of the Communist Manifesto of 1848. I have no guarantee that any of these documents were written by the candidates. They convey nothing whatever to me as to their character or political capacity. The half-tone photographic portraits which adorn the front pages do not even tell me their ages, having been taken twenty years ago. If I go to one of the meetings I find a schoolroom packed with people who find an election meeting cheaper and funnier than a theatre. On the platform sit one or two poor men who have worked hard to keep party politics alive in the constituency. They ought to be the candidates ; but they have no more chance of such eminence than they have of possessing a Rolls-Royce car. They move votes of confidence in the candidate, though as the candidate is a stranger to them and to everybody else present nobody can possibly feel any such confidence. They lead the applause for him ; they prompt him when questions are asked ; and when he is completely floored they jump up and cry “ Let me answer that, Mr Chairman !” and then pretend that he has answered it. The old shibboleths are droned over ; and nothing has any sense or reality in it except the vituperation of the opposition party, which is received with shouts of relief by the audience. Yet it is nothing but an exhibition of bad manners. If I vote for one of these candidates, and he or she is elected, I am supposed to be enjoying a democratic control of the government – to be exercising government of myself, for myself, by myself. Do you wonder that the Dean cannot believe such nonsense ? If I believed it I should not be fit to vote at all. If this is Democracy, who can blame Signor Mussolini for describing it as a putrefying corpse ?
The candidates may ask me what more they can do for me but present themselves and answer any questions I may put to them. I quite admit that they can do nothing ; but that does not mend matters. What I should like is a real test of their capacity. Shortly before the war a doctor in San Francisco discovered that if a drop of a candidate's blood can be obtained on a piece of blotting paper it is possible to discover within half an hour what is wrong with him physically. What I am waiting for is the discovery of a process by which on delivery of a drop of his blood or a lock of his hair we can ascertain what is right with him mentally. We could then have a graded series of panels of capable persons for all employments, public or private, and not allow any person, however popular, to undertake the employment of governing us unless he or she were on the appropriate panel. At the low end of the scale there would be a panel of person qualified to take part in a parish meeting ; at the higher end a panel of persons qualified to act as Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs or Finance Ministers. At present not more than two per thousand of the population would be available for the highest panel. I should then be in no danger of electing a postman and finding that he could neither read nor write. My choice of candidates would be perhaps more restricted than at present ; but I do not desire liberty to choose windbags and nincompoops to represent me in parliament ; and my power to choose between one qualified candidate and another would give me as much control as is either possible or desirable. The voting and counting would be done by machinery : I should connect my telephone with the proper office ; touch a button and the machinery would do the rest.
Pending such a completion of the American doctor's discovery, how are we to go on ? Well, as best we can, with the sort of government that our present system produces. Several reforms are possible without any new discovery. Our present parliament is obsolete : it can no more do the work of a modern State than Julius Caesar's galley could do the work of an Atlantic liner. We need in these islands two or three additional federal legislatures, working on our municipal committee system instead of our parliamentary party system. We need a central authority to co-ordinate the federal work. Our obsolete little internal frontiers must be obliterated, and our units of local government enlarged to dimensions compatible with the recent prodigious advances in facility of communication and co-operation. Commonwealth affairs and supernational activities through the League of Nations or otherwise will have to be provided for, and Cabinet function to be transformed. All the pseudo-democratic obstructive functions of our political machinery must be ruthlessly scrapped, and the general problem of government approached from a positive viewpoint at which mere anarchic national sovereignty as distinguished from self-government will have no meaning.
I must conclude by warning you that when everything has been done that can be done, civilization will still be dependent on the consciences of the governors and the governed. Our natural dispositions may be good ; but we have been badly brought up, and are full of anti-social personal ambitions and prejudices and snobberies. Had we not better teach our children to be better citizens than ourselves ? We are not doing that at present. The Russians are. That is my last word. Think it over.
0646 Int printed in Theater Guild Magazine quotes ideas on sound films and training of actors for them
10/27/29 GBS believes in talking pictures. He told GW Bishop, in an interview printed in the current issue of the Theater Guild Magazine, that he could not imagine any provincial theater audience being satisfied with a £50 touring production when a £50,000 talking picture is being shown in a cinema. "People won't accept third-rate actors when they can see and hear 'stars' on the screen," said the bearded man with the ready wink.
Mr Shaw also told Mr Bishop: "A new race of artistic producers who know good work from bad in the talkies, and don't prefer the bad, must be evolved and placed in control of sound pictures. Furthermore, all patentees of apparatus should be drowned, shot, sent to St Helena, or otherwise effectively excluded from the studios the moment they demonstrate the practicalities of their inventions."
Mr Shaw was asked whether he did not think that the flesh and blood actor would still be demanded by audiences. "No doubt," replied Mr Shaw, "but not the same actors. The sooner that is realized the better. The ordinary actor - as such - is unsuitable for the talkies. The technique is quite different. Movie acting is mainly the art of not moving, as I discovered when I made my first picture. The first result was ludicrous and then I realized that I had to master a new method of moving. In order to produce a natural picture of myself I had to act in quite an unnatural way. The screen magnifies and intensifies, and the clever movie actor knows this and does not appear on the ordinary stage. Mary and Douglas prefer to remain as the glorified beings that have been magnified by the camera. To see them as they really are would be like looking at them through the wrong end of a telescope. When the talkies came along the movie actor rushed in and, on the whole, was found to be a failure, for although he knows technically how to move he knows next to nothing about the voice. For the new medium we shall have to breed a race of talkie actors who have mastered the technique of moving and talking."
"Will you then allow your plays to be made into talking pictures?" Mr Shaw was asked.
"Not until I am satisfied that there is a producer who also knows his job. I may then write a play especially for the talkies, although I see no reason why The Apple Cart, for instance, should not be produced exactly how it stands."
Mr Shaw was then asked if he had seen any color films. His answer:
"Although one or two have been fairly satisfactory, I do no believe that there is any general desire for color. People are used to black and white.
"I have satisfied myself by a successful personal experiment that it is possible to reproduce dramatic dialogue such as I write, the effect being as convincing as when spoken from the stage. It has been established already that stage action can be reproduced effectively on the screen.
"Stage vision can be reproduced in monochrome, and the absence of color is not only pardoned by the audience, but forgotten. The likelihood of the present two-color and three-color attempts at chromatic photography becoming reasonably truthful may therefore be left out of the discussion.
"Plays and operas can, in
view of the foregoing propositions, be successfully reproduced as
talkies (or singies) as soon as the following conditions are
fulfilled: That companies of performers who have mastered the
special technique of motion, speech and song required for
reproduction by instruments which greatly magnify them and intensify
them (neither our movie stars nor our stage actors are qualified in
this way as such - in fact are disqualified) be available. That a
race of artistic producers who understand the new techniques involved
by magnification and who know good work from bad when they see it and
hear it, and who don't prefer the bad, be discovered and placed in
control of the originating performers."
0645 Remark about gentlemen calls forth definition for G Wells, lr
10/27/29 To the Editor of The New York Times: It is not at all surprising that Bernard Shaw should throw defiance at the term gentleman. He detests pretense - anything that stands in the way of the thing itself. "I am not a gentleman. I am far beyond that," he is reported to have said. What he could have meant was that he was not a gentleman in the devalorized sense of the term. What, then, is a gentleman? To say that a gentleman is a man at his truest is to beg the question.
There are three elements which go to the making of a gentleman: Regard for self, regard for others, regard for authority. A person who is undignified is not a gentleman; a person who is overbearing is not a gentleman; a person who is disloyal is not a gentleman.
Were I called upon to offer a handy, serviceable definition I would put it thus: A gentleman is a man who knows his place. Learning does not make a gentleman, or title or affluence. They help but do not make. A sense of fitness is necessary. I have known of sportsmen, M P's, peers, even distinguished scholars and church dignitaries who were not gentlemen. On the other hand, I have met with taxi drivers, butlers, barbers and waiters who struck me as being gentlemen.
Why did the people of Wiesbaden speak of the departing British soldiers as an army of gentlemen? Because they were not going about the town as if they owned it - they knew their place.
0644 Tells students Americans are becoming red Indians
10/26/29 Bernard Shaw, according to The Daily Express, gave some stinging answers to questions from a large party of American students at a London hotel today. A girl student asked: "Is there any hope of civilizing America? Mr Shaw replied: "Americans are a barbarous people and are returning to red Indian life. Your figures and faces are changing and your complexions get redder and redder. You treat your women like squaws and you are going back to feathers."
Mr Shaw told the students that America had become the center of the universe because of Britain's war debt and that while Britons and Americans openly abused each other there would be no danger of war between them.
"But when dislike is concealed, look out," said Mr Shaw darkly. He warned the students that if they left London without seeing his Apple Cart they would be received with contempt in America.
Professor Maphis, on behalf of the students, adds The Express, thanked Mr Shaw and expressed a hope that he would some day learn more about Americans by visiting the United States. "All Americans worth anything come over to see me," replied Mr Shaw indulgently.
10/20/29 "If you had to
G. B. S. what would you say of him?" The question was fired at
me across the luncheon table in Mr Shaw's apartment at 4 Whitehall
Court, London. Mr Shaw slightly raised his bushy eyebrows and
riveted his keen blue eyes upon me. Not because he was particularly
interested in what I or anyone else thought of him, but probably
because he was interested in gauging another's embarrassment. I
hesitated. The other five at the table waited. There was nothing to
do but speak out.
"I should call him the most fearless, most tenacious and most delightful old killjoy on earth," I replied, and was immediately pounced upon by Mrs Shaw. Every word of that description is true. He is fearless; he is so tenacious that he will put through - usually to a successful conclusion - any task he undertakes; he is certainly delightful and, if ever a mortal man was a killjoy that man is Bernard Shaw.
He is no killjoy in the sense that he would ram his own ideas or ideals down another's throat. He is not his brother's keeper and cares not a rap whether your tastes are in opposition to his or not. He never asks approval and rarely gives it. He abstains from wine, tobacco and flesh, but at his table you may feast upon chops or chicken, if you wish, and have your rations of alcohol and whiffs of nicotine. His outlook upon life is cheerful enough and his wit sparkling enough without the artificial buoyancy produced by spirits. He needs not cigar or pipe or cigarette before he can collect his thoughts and weave them into something worth while.
He is another sort of killjoy. He can knock into a cocked hat nearly every conceivable idea which originates in any head other than his own long, gray one; and very frequently he exercises that ability. You may pat yourself on the back in the belief that you have thought out or stumbled upon some great idea. You may tell it to Mr Shaw with the utmost modesty or with a brave certainty or even a touch of braggadocio; or you may send it to him. It makes no difference. Your idea is of scant worth and, provided always that Mr Shaw thinks the matter worthy of argument, he will marshal an array of facts before you which will - unless you are a very stubborn person - convince you that you were, are and will be everlastingly wrong. There is no light anywhere for you; no health in you. You grope in darkness and your clever ideas are mostly tommyrot to fence your soul from real thought.
Mr Shaw has been called the most astute publicity seeker on earth. He is not. It is the other way around, for publicity seeks him. Publicity hounds his steps and camps at his front door - so much so in fact that when he lived at Adelphi Terrace he had to erect a barrier of iron spikes in order to keep the curious-minded at bay. Otherwise, as likely as not, his door would have been battered in. If he seeks the isolation of a rare island in the Adriatic or a quiet spot on the Italian lakes, the interviewers and photographers dog his footsteps. One of his hardest jobs is escaping publicity.
Mr Shaw's whimsicalities are like lead to the leaden-minded. When he announces - as he did a short time ago over the radio - that it was Bernard Shaw calling the universe, people mistook his sense of humor for conceit. When he said in one of his Fabian Society lectures that Bertrand Russell was a very clever man, the cleverest man he knew with one exception (the exception was obvious from the twinkle in his eye), he was again at the receiving end of the criticism of laughterless folk.
He is as full of the devil as any imp of 73 could be. You can, if you watch his expression closely, see and hear him laughing up his sleeve at people who do not know how to accept him. He bedevils his friends and his enemies alike. But he does not like any one else to bedevil his friends. I saw him come to his feet with a bang one night when some one asked Miss Rebecca West, who was speaking, an impudent question. "G. B. S." did the silencing before Miss West knew what was going on. When he tells his audience that England will soon be but a small star in the American flag many of his hearers have a conniption fit - to produce which was precisely his object.
G K Chesterton wrote an article in which he was facetious about Kipling, Wells and Shaw. He called them the tripod on which the dying nineteenth century laid its telescope to peer into the twentieth - or something of that sort. He said this triumvirate prophesied about the Seven Seas, the Seven Planets and the Seventh Heaven and that none of their prophesies came true. I sent a copy of this article to Mr Shaw before it was published and he wrote on the margin:
"A superb article, as usual for Mr Chesterton, too, but a little like the Three Musketeers with D'Artagnan left out. History will group Mr Chesterton with the three of us, but will observe that though his views are, on the whole, fairly distinct from those of Mr Kipling, they are hardly distinguishable from those of Mr Wells, and practically identical with mine, although his intellectual amusements are too fantastic and unscrupulously wayward for us. Some day he will be 'saved'; and then he will adopt the familiar prayer by confessing 'We have believed those things which we ought not to have believed; and we have left unbelieved those things that we ought to have believed, and there has been (occasionally) no health in us.' - G. B. S."
Mr Shaw's tenacity is astounding. His recent book - An Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, gives the seal to his stick-to-itiveness if such a seal were needed. This book began as a letter to his sister-in-law. As a letter it will rank as one of the longest ever written.
Mr Shaw's sister-in-law was asked to make an address on socialism. She accepted. As might have been expected she wrote to Shaw asking him to give her some pointers for her talk - some of his views on the subject. Mr Shaw started a letter in reply. He wrote at considerable length only to discover that he had barely scratched the surface of the subject. He then wrote that the subject was too big to be covered in a letter and compromised by sending some books on socialism. But he was not satisfied. He was bent upon writing that letter - and whatever he is bent upon doing he does. He wrote it and it came to something in the neighborhood of 150,000 words!
When he told me the story of the inception of An Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, I suggested that the book would probably be dedicated to his sister-in-law. But his original plan was to make the first edition large enough only to obtain copyright in the principal languages and to include one extra copy for his sister-in-law. That probably meant a first edition of ten volumes or less. It also meant that his sister-in-law would possess one of the rarest first editions in the world. I believe he changed his mind and finally dedicated the book to the woman whose letter had inspired such a lengthy reply and so much labor.
Mr Shaw is undoubtedly the most fearless writer and critic of his day. He will tackle anything anywhere at any time and, most probably, be returned the winner. He does not stoop to make a great hullabaloo over some triviality. He likes to fight something, his own size, something worthy of his fine mettle. When he goes gunning he picks out dangerous game, strikes hard and shoots straight with a flat trajectory. He will tackle a King or a Cardinal with more zest than he would small fry.
But there is one shining exception to his well-known fearlessness. I do not even intimate that he is afraid, but he has a certain keen sense of the limits to which even Bernard Shaw may go to taunting public opinion.
Mr Shaw has a play in mind and does not write it. It would never be played in his lifetime and any publisher would hesitate to stir up public antagonism and indignation by printing it.
One afternoon I asked Mr Shaw if he had seen a certain French play written around the tomb of the Unknown Warrior buried under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. He had seen it and considered it excellent. He added that he had in mind the writing of a play to be built around the tomb of Britain's Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. He would tell me the outline of the play, but I must not write it. Since then he has relented and not long ago when I ran into him at luncheon at Lord Astor's country place, Cliveden, where Shaw was staying, he told me he had no objection to its being told.
So, since my lips are unsealed, I may give a brief outline of Bernard Shaw's unwritten play. The scene is London 100 years hence. Again the world is at war - the most devastating war of all the ages. The most diabolical contrivances for snuffing out human life are being employed on all sides. England is in a terrible state. She is engaged in a desperate struggle for her very life. Her situation grows more and more serious daily. She is much more perturbed than she was at the peak of the submarine activity in the last great World War of 1914-1918. Things are black, desperate. The war is practically lost and the British Empire is doomed to go the way of Assyria, Greece, Rome and Carthage. Battles on land, sea and in the air are lost. Nothing seems able to stem the tide of disaster. England, for the first time in her long history, is panic-stricken. Even the great Napoleon's dictum, "England loses all battles except the last one," does not comfort the people.
Conference upon conference is held to discuss ways and means to avert the threatened doom. There is no solution. The foe is as implacable as was Cato with his Carthago delenda est. Britain is face to face with dissolution after a thousand years of building an empire.
The King - whoever the King happens to be 100 years from now - realizes the utter hopelessness of the situation. He listens to his Ministers and knows they are hoping and talking against hope. So, in his despair he turns at last to the final resort of desolate and despondent men - to prayer.
He calls together the princes and princesses of the land, the Cabinet Ministers, the Lords and the Commons and the Privy Councilors and all the other high officers of State, and tells them they are to meet at Buckingham Palace and march with him to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey, there to implore divine guidance in their dark hour, for kings still turn to God in their anguish and despair.
Buckingham Palace has changed but little from what it is today. It is still that uninteresting, cold gray pile. Before it still stands the pompous Victoria memorial. The Mall is the same dignified but colorless thoroughfare. Although airplanes and dirigibles have proved battleships and cruisers as obsolete as the Macedonian phalanx, the Admiralty Arch is still called the Admiralty Arch and the country is still full of Admirals - Admirals die harder than other men and England was founded upon sea power and England clings to the belief that whatever was good enough for grandfather is good enough for me.
It is a typical overcast, somber day in London when all the high dignitaries of the land - including many ladies, for ladies are very prominent in politics a century hence, and in the Cabinet there are several ladies - gather at Buckingham Palace. The great open spaces before the palace are filled with wounded men, widows and orphans. Slowly and solemnly and silently the great folk emerge from the labyrinthine solitudes of the palace. They are all there in sad array - King and Princes, Ministers and Councilors, Lords and Commons, Generals and Admirals and Air Marshals. His Majesty is in the vanguard leading them on a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Slower than any funeral march they trudge with bowed heads and contrite hearts and fearful misgivings toward Westminster Abbey.
As they approach all are dumbfounded to see, the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on the tomb. They prostrate themselves before Him. Christ, in a very matter-of-fact way, asks, "Gentlemen, what can I do for you?" the King rises to his knees and begins to pray. The Princes, Ministers, Lords and Commons come to their knees and bow low in reverence. Christ listens to the King's prayer, then, seeing the Dean of Westminster Cathedral among the King's followers apologizes to him for the intrusion. Having heard enough of the King's prayers Christ remarks: "I will see what can be done," and forthwith vanishes. Immediately the tomb is opened and out steps the unknown soldier of 100 years ago. He is not in uniform, and none of the many decoration pinned upon him are anywhere in evidence. He is in a shroud and seems utterly bewildered.
At this second miracle the King, Princes, Ministers, Lords, Commons, Privy Councilors and others all bow low before the spirit of the unknown soldier. Again the king begins a prayer:
"O spirit of the unknown soldier of a hundred years ago, we have come before your tomb in this dark hour to implore divine guidance, to plead for a return of your noble spirit which animated all our people in the great war of 1914-1918. Send your spirit into the hearts of the aviators in the sky, into the hearts of the sailors in the submarines, into the hearts of the soldiers wherever they may be. We today have lost the ancient English spirit and can no longer fight with our backs to the wall. We can" -
The spirit of the unknown soldier breaks into the King's prayer. "Where am I?" he asks, rubbing his eyes and looking all about him in mystification. The King bows low. The Princes, Ministers, Lords, Commons and all the noble company bow low before him. Again the King speaks: "You are in Westminster Abbey, enshrined in the hearts of our people." Again the King launches into prayer and once again the soldier interrupts:
"Westminster Abbey? Hearts of the people? In what city am I?"
Once again the whole noble company bow low before the soldier, and the King lifts his head proudly and exclaims: "In Westminster Abbey, the heart of the empire, in the city of London."
A faint smile crosses the soldier's face. He looks down upon them more in compassion than otherwise.
"What fools you are!" he exclaims. "I am a German soldier and should be buried in Cologne Cathedral."
The curtain falls.
0642 Says Oxford and Cambridge Universities should be abolished and education decentralized
10/16/29 Bernard Shaw told an audience at Plymouth today that Oxford and Cambridge ought to be done away with. "Let no citizens of Plymouth, or anywhere else be persuaded to send their sons to either of them," he said. "The thing to do with these unvenerable institutions - in spite of the beauty of their buildings - is to raze them to the ground and sow the foundations with salt. There are several public schools, generally regarded as nurseries for Oxford and Cambridge, and they might share the same fate. We must replace them by local universities, and decentralize education."
Mr Shaw was opening the residential hostel presented by Lord Astor to the University College of the Southwest - a local branch of the University of London.
0461 Correspondence will be sold
10/15/29 Some of Bernard Shaw's
brightest correspondence will be sold at Sotheby's next month with
the only written contract he ever had with J E Vedrenne, who produced
his plays in London a quarter of a century ago.
One letter describes how Mr Shaw sang at a Salvation Army demonstration in Royal Albert Hall with the intention of boosting his play Major Barbara, on which he was then engaged, in 1905.
"I stood in the center front row and sang 'When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" as it has never been sung before," he wrote. "The Times will announce my conversion tomorrow. What other author would do that for his management?"
10/15/29 Bernard Shaw, broadcasting for his first time at a British broadcasting company studio tonight, spoke on democracy and began:
"Your Majesties, your Royal Highnesses, your Excellencies, your Graces, your Reverences, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen - and fellow-citizens."
He asked "why don't the people make their own laws? You could ask another question by saying "why don't the people write their own plays?" It is easier to write a play than make a law, but there are not a hundred people able to write a play good enough to stand wear and tear.
"I am an old man, paying enough in income-tax and super-tax to provide for hundreds of unemployed and old age pensioners. I would not have the slightest objection to this; on the contrary, I advocated this principle strongly for a long time before I had any income to tax. But I cannot even be a Christian except through government action."
Another point was, "our present Parliamentary system can no more do the work of the modern State than Julius Caesar's galleys could do the work of a modern engine."
0639 Refuses to write drama for radio use
10/13/29 Bernard Shaw, noted British dramatist, when asked recently by a radio director to state the sum for which he would write a drama for radio use, cabled a reply: "Four billion dollars might be sufficient, but that is not a contract."
10/12/29 Bernard Shaw today broke one of his strict rules - namely, never to have anything to do with dramatic critics - by going boldly as the guest of honor to the annual luncheon of the Critics Circle. It was not, however, such a serious violation of his rule as it seemed, for Mr Shaw was not here in the capacity of dramatist so much as critic.
He was in a retrospective mood and told how he happened to become a critic in the most casual way. T P O'Connor, Mr Shaw said, made him musical critic more that forty years ago because what Mr Shaw had written up to that time on other subjects was ruining Mr. O'Connor's paper. So Mr Shaw did not say much about play writing today and the most vivid reminder that that is his present job was in the personnel of the men and women at the tables.
There were present enough actors and actresses who had appeared in Shaw plays to make up casts for all of his productions. The 'American Ambassador' was there - not General Dawes, who now is half way across the Atlantic homeward bound, but Mr Vanhattan, who as American Ambassador in The Apple Cart will show up on the stage in New York in the course of this Winter with his proposal that America annex England.
It is not only audiences that worship this cynical Irish dramatist but stage folk who people the world which he creates.
Next to Mr Shaw himself as the luncheon hero was R C Sherriff, author of 'Journey's End.' He said that when the fate of his play was hanging in the balance a year ago last Summer, he was advised to send his manuscript to Mr Shaw to get his opinion.
'I sat up all night making a nice copy of the play," said Mr Scherriff, "and the next day I saw a picture of Mr Shaw in swimming in France. I went to great expense to get a lot of French stamps in London for return postage and before I could send the manuscript I saw another newspaper picture showing Mr Shaw in Switzerland.
'I spent another day collecting uncanceled Swiss stamps in London philatelic shops and sent off my manuscript, and the next day I saw a third newspaper picture of Mr Shaw with his arm in a sling because he had been bitten by a mosquito.
'Then I was hopeless. I knew he would carelessly turn the leaves of my manuscript on his hand, doing two or three pages at a time and missing my best lines. But he did not. He wrote me a good letter telling me not to burn down my house to roast my pig.'
St John Ervine, president of the circle, was toastmaster. In introducing Mr Shaw he said all members of the craft of dramatic critics could be divided into three groups - 'critics, reporters and Hannen Swaffer.'
Mr Swaffer is a London critic who calls Mr Shaw a 'tiresome old driveler.'
"After all, a critic's payment was modest when I was in the first flight. I only got £6 (about $30) a week. That's as much as I ever got, but it was regular and you got a forty years' engagement. I should like to see an actor who would not take any salary on earth if he could get a forty years engagement.
"Now I was a critic in those glorious times now spoken of with enthusiastic admiration, especially by the younger members, as the 'glorious 90's, the great days of those wonderful critics Archer and Walkley, Clement Scott, Thomas, Joe Nye and so on. I sat with those men on first nights and was one of them, and I find that a writer the other day in a Liverpool paper, in commenting on the reception of my last play, said: 'Oh, what would the criticisms have been like in the really golden and palmy days of dramatic criticism? Think of what Archer would have written about it! Think of what Walkley would have written about it!"
"Well, I do think, and I am rather glad - well, I cannot say I'm glad - that two very affectionate friends of mine are dead, but, still, there it is.
"The gentleman who has just been mentioned by the president - Hannen Swaffer - he went out the other day for the record, and I believe he thinks he actually made it. He must not flatter himself. Let him go to the British Museum and turn up the newspapers of the '90's, and let him read the notice in which William Archer, our most enthusiastic and devoted worshiper of Ibsen - read the notice with which Archer received Ibsen's last play. He will read. Then you will hear about driveling idiots, back numbers and people who are making a miserable exhibition of themselves. Swaffer cannot get beyond that.
"Criticism is, has been and eternally will be as bad as it possibly can be. I am speaking as critic myself. I did it myself. I am criticizing myself. It never can be worse. It is always down to the limit.
"I wonder why? That is well to begin with when you become a dramatic critic - and curiously enough we ourselves cannot tell you how you do become a dramatic critic. It happens to you in some extraordinary way. But when you become a dramatic critic nobody ever asks for your qualifications. I never was asked whether I could read or write, still less whether I had ever read Shakespear or any of the other great dramatists whose names begin with the same two letters.
"The only instruction he ever gave me - and it was very sound instruction - was, 'For God's sake, don't fill the paper with Bach in B minor.'
"Accordingly, I became a critic, and there was no inquiry into my qualifications. I was never interfered with by an editor. I remember on one occasion I wrote a notice in which I referred to an old melodrama and gave a little description of how it used to be acted. When my notice appeared I found this passage had been cut, and I asked the editor what was wrong with it. He said there was nothing wrong with it, but that the actress whom I had mentioned was his mother.
"Then I remember a critic who was interfered with, not on artistic, but on purely political grounds. Austin Harrison was critic of The Daily Mail, and when I began to make trouble in the theater Austin Harrison was interested and wrote long notices on my plays. They were either not put in or they were cut extremely short. When Harrison, not understanding why this happened, asked Lord Northcliffe the reason. Northcliffe said, "I am not running my paper to advertise a damned Socialist."
"We are entirely irresponsible. Whether we are qualified or not is pure accident. Under those circumstances - I'm sorry for it, but human nature is such that under those circumstances men always do their worst and they always will do their worst. There is no remedy whatever for it.
"The only consolation I have is that every notice I get advertises me. Also, you must remember there is one check on the badness of dramatic criticism and that is the talent of the critic. He cannot always help its creeping in in spite of himself.
"Many dramatic critics really are very clever, and when they are at their worst they cannot get quite as bad as their irresponsibility might prompt them to do. Sometimes you see an admirable notice - for instance, a notice of The Apple Cart, which was written by your president. I thought it really was an admirable performance for one so young, and I would like to give a sort of general hint to the whole circle that if they want to know the sort of notice I like, that's it.
"I hope I have not given away the shew too much. I really want to do a service to critics because I think the public expects a little too much from them. I think if you will understand their position, if you will consider all that irresponsibility, all that certainty of our posts, the fact that no matter how ghastly a mess we make of it nothing happens. I think you will admit that under those circumstances we probably do well - just as well as you would do if you were in the same position."
0637 Denies rept by Polish journalist that role of King Magnus in Apple Cart was based on M Pilsudski
10/1/29 Bernard Shaw today corrected a misconception of an interview with him by a Polish journalist, published in Warsaw and commented upon here, to the effect that King Magnus, in his play, The Applecart, was Marshal Pilsudski in disguise.
"I seem to have conveyed to my distinguished foreign visitor that Prime Minister MacDonald discussed The Applecart with me after the performance and that I intended to base King Magnus on the personality of Marshal Pilsudski, but refrained lest it should be said the Marshal had paid me to do so," Mr Shaw said. "That is not precisely what I meant. I have not spoken to the Prime Minister since he was present on the first night, when we exchanged a few words before the rise of the curtain.
"I cannot claim the privilege of personal acquaintance with Marshal Pilsudski and I never dreamed of using him or any other living person in the world will find a melancholy resemblance between his predicament and that of King Magnus. Naturally, I am glad to learn that Magnus's crown fits the heads of all rulers and that his subjects in all lands vie with one another in appreciation of my picture of their political situation. That is all I need to say at present."
0636 Tells Polish interviewer that Eng Liberalism is not dead
9/30/29 Liberal England is pictured by Bernard Shaw, in an interview obtained in London by a correspondent of The Polish Telegraphic Agency, as having lost its interest in Poland since independence was regained.
"I consider a mutual understanding most important," Mr Shaw is quoted as saying, "but one must call the attention of Poland to the fact that English Liberalism, which seemingly has disappeared from the surface of English political life, constitutes a still vital force in English mentality as far as the relations of England with Europe are concerned.
"Most characteristic of this Liberalism was and is its interest and sympathies for oppressed peoples. Up to the World War those sympathies turned mainly to Ireland and Poland. England's Polish sympathies have magnificent traditions. You have certainly heard of the great English poet, Thomas Campbell, who glorified the Polish struggles for independence. Those poems are still taught in English schools.
"But since Ireland became a free State and Poland regained her independence, English Liberalism has lost its interest in them. It actually looks assiduously for other objects of sympathy in oppressed and persecuted peoples, for instance, in the Balkans."
Mr Shaw revealed that his most recent play, which had its world premiere in Warsaw last June, was largely based on Marshal Pilsudski and the present Polish regime, although, he said, it was characteristic of many countries.
0635 MacDonald Warns Mrs. Shaw Not to Alienate General Dawes
9/19/29 Those who watched the opening performance last night of Bernard Shaw's play The Apple Cart are still chuckling over the meeting between Premier MacDonald and Shaw in the theater lobby. 'Hello, what are you doing here?' Mr MacDonald cried, almost bumping into Shaw before the curtain rose.
"Oh, I am the cook," was Shaw's modest answer.
Ambassador Dawes, who went with the Premier, had arranged to sit with Mrs Shaw during the play. Before going to his seat Mr MacDonald took Mrs Shaw aside and shook a forefinger at her. 'Don't you make trouble between me and General Dawes,' the Premier warned her with a stern look in his eyes. General Dawes said nothing but smiled and escorted Mrs Shaw to her seat.
0634 Sees London premiere of his play, The Apple Cart
9/18/29 Bernard Shaw sat almost hidden in a back box at the London premiere of his new play, The Apple Cart, which opened at the Queen's Theater tonight. Ramsay MacDonald, H G Wells and Arnold Bennett were among the celebrities who laughed at and applauded Mr Shaw's "political extravaganza."
Only one alteration has been made since the first English performance, at the Malvern festival last month. Mr Shaw now calls it a play in two acts and an interlude instead of three acts. The second act, which had been mercilessly criticized, is thus labeled frankly as an interlude in Mr Shaw's forecast of future England.
0633 S on need for expert opinion in sex reform, at internatl cong of World League for Sexual Reform
(Time and Tide, 20 September 1929)
9/14/29 The third international congress of the World League for Sex Reform, which has been in session all week, reached its high-water mark both in its laughter and in its frankness tonight when Bernard Shaw addressed the delegates on "The Need for Expert Opinion in Sex Reform."
Mr Shaw first qualified himself as an expert on the subject because, he said, as a playwright he had to be. Then, after a half hour's fun with sex appeal in old-fashioned clothes and the lack of it in dresses of today, he warned the audience against ever expecting sex reform from a modern democracy or popular government, and said the best they could look for was class morality.
Mr Shaw said: "I am not going to beg the question of what sex reform means. Everybody is a sex reformer. That is to say, everybody who has any ideas on the subject at all. The Pope, for instance, is a sex reformer and the Austrian nudists - if I may call them so - are also.
"My point really is that no matter what people's views are on the subject, it is desirable that they take expert opinion as to the practicability and probable practical effect of the particular measures they are advocating.
"I do not in the least know why that remark of mine elicited laughter, but as a matter of fact I am an expert in sex appeal. What I mean is that I am a playwright. I am connected with the theater. The theater is continually occupied with sex appeal. It has to deal in sex appeal exactly as a costermonger has to deal in turnips, and a costermonger's opinion of turnips is worth having. He is an expert and in the same way the opinion of a playwright is worth having, or that of people connected with the theater, because they know how the thing is done and they have to do it.
"One very important function of the theater is to educate people in matters of sex. It is not only people in the theater who have that idea and wish to really educate the people, but also those who simply want to exploit sex appeal - they all have to know how to do it because if their sex appeal fails they lose a very great deal of money, and you can hardly call a man a real expert if he loses a great deal of money unless his practice happens to be wrong.
"Unfortunately, or fortunately, just as you choose to look at it, there is no such person, but there is a chief priest, which is, perhaps, the reason the priest's opinion gets heard, whilst the other opinion is not heard. Therefore, I prefer myself as being the next best thing to that - that is to say, of course, the playwright.
"I find myself up against two sets of people. One set seeks to minimize sex appeal by a maximum of clothing. The others seek to maximize sex appeal by a minimum of clothing. I come in as an expert and tell them they are both hopelessly and completely wrong in their methods. They do not understand the matter at all. If you want sex appeal raised to the utmost point, there is only one way of doing it and that is by clothes. Probably the general adoption of clothing in many climates had for its object sex appeal rather than protection from the weather.
"Well, if a priest went behind the scenes of a theater and made such a claim, we should say, 'Mind your own business. This evidently is the one subject about which you, as a celibate, know nothing and if you attempt to meddle with it you probably will make, literally, an unholy mess of it.'
"However, there always is a certain attraction about the wrong kind of expert, about going to a man who knows nothing about it, because you are afraid if you get a genuine expert his opinion would go against you, as indeed it very often would.
"The Pope represents the priests in this matter. The Pope is the chief priest of Europe and speaks very strongly on the subject of sex appeal. I, of course, should never dream of appealing to the chief priest of Europe."
Mr Shaw then said if there were a person representing the opposite extreme "I should go to her immediately. I should say, here clearly is a person who deals professionally in sex appeal, who will lose her livelihood if her method is wrong, if she is not really scientific in the matter.
"I wish the Pope had been there. It would have been a very instructive lesson for him, just exactly the sort of lesson a priest wants.
"The result was that the Victorian age was an exceedingly immoral age, an age in which there arose a sort of disease which modern psychiatrists, I think, call exhibitionism. You had a tendency on the part of some ladies to do something dreadful, to shew their ankles, for instance. Hardly the most desperate or abandoned of them ever dreamed of shewing their knees, or anything like that. You had, on the one hand this tremendous sex appeal produced by clothes, and on the other hand the tendency to defy it or exploit it by making a little revelation of some kind.
"We have been getting rid of all that. We have had a tremendous spread of nudism, not carried to the extreme they carry it in Austria where, in communities and clubs, people have the extremely wholesome habit of meeting one another without having anything on at all. But the unpopularity of that really is due to the fact that people cling to sex appeal. They do not want to get rid of it.
"I am not going to judge whether it is more desirable to live as I did in the nineteenth century, where the whole place was saturated with sex appeal, or under existing conditions where the women at least have taken a large step toward nudity and sex appeal has vanished to an amazing extent.
"I need not point a moral to what I have been saying. I simply am giving an expert's opinion. If you want sex appeal, clothes; if you want to minimize sex appeal, get rid of as many clothes as possible."
Mr Shaw concluded with a brief comment on the political phase of the question. "Modern democracy," he said, "has become associated with ideas on liberty because it has abolished certain methods of political oppression, and as we allow ourselves to be actuated too much by association with ideas, we are apt to think that what makes for liberty in one thing makes for liberty in all things. Make no such mistake about modern democracy and popular government. The more people at large have to do with government, the more we will have to fight for our lives and for our ideals.
"The mass of people, brought up as they have been, have no idea of liberty in this direction. On the contrary, they are the most ferocious opponents of it and you will have to fight, I will not say for super-morality because it will appear to them to be sub-morality, but in the end we will have to have really class morality. The very name is abhorrent to democracy but certain circles of people in different degrees of spiritual development will have to have moralities of their own in their own circles and will have to tolerate other circles with their particular degrees of morality. That is the utmost you can hope for. Do not think your own particular morality can be imposed on the whole nation and do not, for Heaven's sake, dream that it can be imposed on a democracy. That will be the greatest mistake you can possibly make."
9/8/29 Bernard Shaw, in an interview with G W Bishop printed in tomorrow's Sunday Observer, says that under certain conditions, he would allow his plays to be produced as "talkies." "I know it is possible to reproduce dialogue," said Mr Shaw, "and it is now established that the action can be produced on the screen. When it is as certain that the actual performers have mastered technique and there are some artistic producers who also understand technique I shall consent to have my plays made into talkies. Possibly I may write a talkie myself, but I see no reason why, under the conditions I have mentioned, The Apple Cart should not be reproduced exactly as written."
Concerning the serious political significance of his play, The Apple Cart, Mr Shaw says: "It is so serious that I intend to tell MacDonald when he returns from Geneva that he must refuse to make take any young man into his cabinet who has not seen The Apple Cart at least six times. It is intended as a salutary lesson, as I feel it is a state of things into which we could drift."
0631 Excerpts from s on socialism at Welwyn, Eng, por
8/25/29 Ladies and gentlemen. I say quite advisedly, ladies and gentlemen. I want to make it quite clear what my own position is as a socialist. I am like Lenin and Trotsky, like Marx and Morris, a bourgeois socialist. I am, of course, quite at home here with an obviously bourgeois audience. There is not a single person here - I have been looking round carefully - who could possibly be mistaken for a horny-handed, fustian-coated workman. You don't belong to that class. Neither do I. Now, that is a significant thing, because there is hardly any one who understands the working class less than our class.
I am unquestionably bourgeois. I was told by my father when I was a small boy that I must not speak or play with the sons of retail tradesmen. To wholesalers' sons I was allowed to speak, and I received no instructions with regard to weekly wagers sons. For it never came into my father's head, I dare say, that I could dread of playing with or speaking to the sons of people of that kind.
I have seen the careers of a good many who thought they were socialists, but they were not. The majority in this school may imagine they are socialists; they have shown in debate that some of them have been deluding themselves. I have learned, too, that you can never be sure of a man. I have seen the effect on a revolutionary socialist of being placed on a public committee with half a crown of public money to spend - I have seen people of that kind crumple. To term them conservative would be a flattery.
Yes, a certain kind of man may hold out for a long time and then crumple up unexpectedly. We had some terrible examples of theatre during the war. A number who before the war had imagined themselves pacifists were in a condition of brotherly love with all the world; they denounced jingoes. And when the first shots were fired they were the most blusterous of jingoes and denounced the Germans as fiends in human form.
I remember one socialist leader, who is now dead - a bourgeois socialist - who had been a prominent out-and-out Marxist. That social leader that men regarded as in the vanguard of the socialist movement became a furious anti-Russian and denounced Lenin and Trotsky in ways that would have made Mr Churchill blush. This eminent socialist leader after a lifetime lost his head completely and attacked the Russian leaders because they withdrew from a war honorably - a war in which they were on our side.
I have remained a fairly strong socialist and I am in my seventy-third year, but you have no guarantee that I may not become a rabid conservative at seventy-five. Mr James Maxton is regarded as one of the most uncompromising socialists we have. But I remember another Scot when he was young. Compared with him Mr Maxton is the mildest of Fabians. Yes, I remember that young Scot's socialism. I had come to the conclusion that he was so intransigent that it was practically impossible for him to get into parliament, or on any public body whatever. His name was Ramsay MacDonald.
MacDonald felt at that time - I don't know if Mr Maxton feels it now, but many of us did when we were young - we felt that we were in a great movement of the people that was bound to go forward with irresistible force, and that we had the great mass of the people with us, that they would carry our socialist principles to triumph.
Owing to the ignorance and political imbecility of the people, it is difficult to get things done, though the most extraordinary things can be done without people knowing anything about it. I can give you one instance. The last government carried a measure concerning landed property, the most revolutionary ever carried in this country. It abolished primogeniture in this country. No one said a single word about it. You saw nothing about it in the newspapers.
So you see, Mr MacDonald is in the position of getting big measures through without the people knowing. He has only to call his measure by some other name than that which people associate with them and there is no limit to the things he may do.
Why was it - to come now to the great Tory setback in the general election - the late government was so completely discredited? It had really quite a respectable program to put before the people - as to the things it had done. Some of you might have been surprised at the respectable show of legislation they had put up. But no one knew. It was like the primogeniture bill.
That shows the importance to a political party of window dressing. You will not be judged by the able measures you have passed, but by the things that have made an impression on the public imagination. The late government proved this; it gave an impression of childishness and ignorance which really broke it up at the election. When the Zinoviev letter gave them their triumph - which really shows you what the British elector is like - they were drunk for the moment, and it happened then that our representative in Egypt was assassinated. They then threatened before the world to cut off the water supply of Egypt and to let Egypt perish of famine to avenge the death of our representative.
Well, what sort of gentlemen would propose a thing of that kind? They had to climb down ignominiously. In the English way, a week afterward they had forgotten all about it. But a cabinet capable of making a mistake like that is not a cabinet to be reckoned with any more by adult persons. A lot of schoolboys, one would have thought, would know better.
Then, cordially disliking the Russian government because it was a socialist government, they suddenly thought it would be a good thing to break open the offices of the Russian government in England, that is, to commit a burglary; there never was a more audacious thing done on the face of the earth. Those two things were examples of the impression they gave of being childish, incompetent and ignorant, and to them it owed partly its setback.
A party even behind Mr Baldwin's is that party calling itself the communist party. It is still dreaming and talking the old rubbish about the class war and the revolutionary working class. That is nonsense. Revolutionaries are not the working class and the working class is not revolutionary. It is the discontented, idealistic middle class that is revolutionary. This class war business, too, is most misleading. It deludes young socialist leaders. They get the idea that they are part of a great revolutionary movement. Shelley's "Ye are many and they are few," is quoted, and there is talk of four making war on one exploiter, and the thing is done.
I was 15 when the Paris commune, the working classes behind them, attempted to establish socialism in France. What was the result? They were massacred. They were shot down. There was tremendous fighting. There was romantic middle class heroism. There were barricades, and you discovered that the men behind the guns were not clear what they were doing - whether they were not fighting the next street.
The communist party may do what was done in Paris. They may get up an insurrection. But if they do, they will be inevitably and hopelessly destroyed and they will set back the clock for some time.
Karl Marx was a man with great genius who managed to write a book that changed the mind of the world, but he always dealt with things in the abstract. He never really employed a man in his life. The only person he employed was his house keeper, and she never had any wages because he had no money to pay her. He spent a lot of time in the British Museum reading room - it is an excellent place, I have spent a lot of time there myself - but it is not a place where a man finds what the world is really like. To take Marx as a guide to practical politics today is absurd. He knew nothing about it. And the innocence of Marx is still all over the communist party.
Then the idea put forward of merging the individual in the community would never be popular in England. The one thing the Englishman dreads above all others is being merged into the community as an individual. Most of us are merged now for eight to fourteen hours a day, with perhaps two pounds ten a week. Our time does not belong to ourselves; our souls do not belong to ourselves. When we become socialists we want to extricate our individuality a little from the machinery of the community. And we should insist on a gradual reduction of the number of hours of work.
Don't oppress the public mind with the vision of a socialist government that wont let you alone for a solitary instant, that will not only dictate in the daytime what you shall do, but what sort of a nightshirt you shall wear. Four hours a day should be sufficient, leaving play for individuality. There are people in this room who sympathize with the ideals of the communist party, which I do myself, I may say, but they can do nothing in the way they have taken.
As to the liberals, their extinction is more apparent then real. They come out unfairly with the number of votes they got. They were to some extent the victims of our electoral system. But they were not inspiring. They were mainly reluctant, and reluctance gets nowhere. Many had voted conservative before; many were half-convinced socialists.
The labor party has had its curious success, then, not because it is exactly popular, but because it is the only party not unpopular. People voted for it because they regarded the others as hopeless. It must not be supposed it is because the great mass of the people have become socialist. They have not. The government, or any government, will have to move strictly in regard to that. The future of socialism will not lie altogether with the labor party. A great many of the moves toward socialism will probably be carried out by the conservative party. They wont intend to carry them out, but governments are always being influenced, and the effects of what they do are often opposite to what they intended.
It is possible that labor governments, too, may pass retrograde measures, thought not intending to do so. The labor party is not a solid party. It is partly a trade union party and partly a socialist party. And there will be an increasing number of its members who will be called careerists - those who joined the party giving the most prospects. Mind you, they are not undesirable people. They will do anything for the socialist party - or any other party that will give them a career. They will do hard work if you make it worth their while.
But a really socialist government would not permit a strike. The one thing they would not tolerate would be idleness. They would say: "There are many things you may do, but one thing you must not do, and that is stop work." The trade unionists would say: "What! Compulsory labor! Now we are complete slaves."
Mr MacDonald has to study these elements; he is not free. The trade unionist side is apt to be national; the socialist international. Furthermore, the trade unionists tended to be protectionist; the socialists to a large extent to free trade. I am now going to say what may seem a hard thing. The trade unionist party is necessarily an ignorant party. The majority of trade unionists have joined their union for direct self-protection. They have never studied society at large. Socialists mostly have. The socialist side is scientific.
The moral for you is that you must not go about being rather in a state because Mr MacDonald does not talk as the head of a socialist state returned by a majority of socialists. Some people in the government themselves have rather a trade union than a socialist tradition. The socialists are holding their own in the leadership because, as I have said, they are scientific. But there is the dead weight. They have to consider trade union secretaries.
The labor government is confronted with a subsidized capitalism. Mr Baldwin gave huge subsidies to the coal mining industry, and he was such a baby that it never occurred to him to say, "You want money from us - of course, you want a mortgage." Instead he threw the money at them and in a year they were in the same difficulties as ever.
The capitalists have now learned from the socialists to get subsidies and employ the credit of the state. They get money at lower rates of interest. The government may be said to be up against a subsidized Clissoldism. You may have read Well's book. Remember he is a socialist and that he was a member of the Fabian society for some time.
You must remember one thing. The reason this will not satisfy socialists is that opportunist governments can always be bought off by the proprietary classes. We must have a goal; otherwise we can always be bought off. Capitalist organizations with men like Henry Ford managing them, will always be able to buy off men who have no more in mind than decent wages and the content of the workers.
What is the goal of the socialists? Read The Intelligent Women's Guide.
You all ought to do what you can to familiarize people with the idea of the four-hour work day. It would solve the unemployment problem. All this business of unemployment comes from the fact that people who are working are working too long. But there is another thing there will be a much bigger fight about. One of the first things you want to nationalize in this country is banking, because in nationalizing the bank you nationalize capital. The financiers are now the men who rule the roost, not the industrialists. The exportation of capital should be prohibited and in the formation of private companies all new issues should be licensed by the government.
0630 Protests when E Peters, "typical Amer girl," calls him "typical Englishman"
8/19/29 Miss Edna Peters, widely acclaimed here as a "typical American girl," nearly got into the "apple cart" herself at a rehearsal of Bernard Shaw's play of that name performed at Malvern today.
She was introduce and photographed with the author, "and he was perfectly sweet, and said how glad he was to meet a typical American girl, and when I somewhat diffidently suggested that he was a 'typical English boy,' I was nearly in the apple cart, for he vigorously protested the he was '100 per cent Irish,'" Miss Peters said.
0629 Denies Brit Labor Party is popular, in s before Labor Party Summer School
8/6/29 Bernard Shaw was in his best form as an iconoclast today when for two hours he lectured the British Independent Labor Party's Summer school at Welwyn in Hertfordshire. He said he was a very strong Socialist now in his seventy-third year, but that was no guarantee that in his seventy-fifth he might not be a rabid Conservative.
The Independent Labor Party maintains that it laid the foundations of socialism in Britain and point to the "best brains" of the present Labor Government as being (sic) its product. Recently its membership dwindled and it lost such stalwarts as Phillip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and J Scurr, M P for Mile End, Stepney.
Prime Minister MacDonald, however, is still a member, although the Independent Labor party is represented in the House of Commons by the extreme left wing Laborites, who have given him more trouble almost than the Liberals and Conservatives combined.
Mr Shaw today warned his audience that the idea of a class war was impossible, with the movement drawn largely from the labor unions and "imbued with capitalistic ways of thought." He described Karl Marx as an "innocent old gentleman" who "never came in contact with practical politics."
At the conclusion of Mr Shaw's speech Campbell Stephen, Scottish member of the House Of Commons, who presided, declared that Mr Shaw had said much with which they could not agree. Mr Shaw said he wanted to make it quite clear that he was a "bourgeois Socialist."
"When I was a boy, my father forbade me to speak or play with the son of a retail tradesman," he said. "The wholesaler's son I was allowed to speak to. I received no instruction with regard to working people with a weekly wage because it never entered my father's head that if could be possible that I would dream of playing with people of that kind.
"No good statesman can feel he has the people entirely behind his back. Owing to the ignorance and political imbecility of people it is difficult to get things done, but the most extraordinary things can by done without the people knowing anything about it."
For the first time Mr Shaw gave his candid opinion of the failings of the various parties at the recent Parliamentary election.
Of the conservatives, he said: "They had quite a respectable program and a good shew of legislation, but by neglect of window-dressing, the late government contrived to convey an impression of childishness and ignorance, which resulted in their being completely discredited."
Of the Communists he said: "The Communist party is still dreaming and talking a lot of rot about the revolutionary working classes. While the Communists foolishly accept Russian money and are continually in conflict with the common sense of the community their candidates will continue to forfeit their deposits at the elections."
And of the Liberals: "The extinction of the Liberal party is more apparent than real, as they are the victims of the present electoral system. Nevertheless, the Liberals are not inspired, as they consist half of Liberals who previously voted Conservative and half who are under communistic influence."
Mr Shaw concluded by saying that what is wanted is not an eight or fourteen hour day but a four-hour working day, leaving play for individuality and incidentally helping to solve the unemployment problem.
0628 "Tay Pay" tells how he avoided discharging Shaw from newspaper
7/5/29 Thomas Powell O'Connor, "the Father of the House of Commons," affectionately known as "Tay Pay," makes public today a two-volume work, "Memoirs of an Old Parliamentarian," in which, among a variety of reminiscences and sketches, he tells an intimate story of the rise of the Irish Nationalist party in the eighties and offers some new light on the tragedy of its leader, Charles S Parnell.
"Tay Pay," 80 years old and still a member of Parliament after serving continuously since 1886, is a familiar figure in the United States. He traveled to this country to raise funds for the Irish party in his younger days and he has often revisited it, the last time a year ago.
In the anecdotes in his story Mr O'Connor spans the whole half century of his public life. How Bernard Shaw almost lost his job as a subordinate editorial writer on a newspaper founded by "Tay Pay" in his early Parliamentarian days and how he was converted into a music critic temporarily are disclosed in the memoirs. Ramsay MacDonald, present Prime Minister of Great Britain, enters the story to explain why Mr O'Connor gave up wearing red ties, and through the wealth of his experience "Tay Pay' looks back to Gladstone as the most impressive figure in a lifetime in the House. "The House of Commons without Gladstone seems to me," he says, "as great a contrast as a chamber illumined by a farthing dip when the electric light has failed." To an acquaintance of his, according to Mr O'Connor, Gladstone "revealed the curious fact that his head had, as life went on, steadily increased in size and that he had to get his hatter to increase by at least two inches the size of his hat."
Confessing to a horror of public manifestations of political opinion, "Tay Pay" writes: "I wore a red tie usually just as Sir Charles Dilke did in his early days, not as an expression of political opinion, but because I thought it suited my complexion; but I gave it up when Mr Ramsay MacDonald in the lobby one day half laughingly welcomed my wearing of the tie as a symptom of sound Labor opinion."
The House of Commons, Mr O'Connor comments, could be compared to a boarding school of boys in its display of changing emotions. "To all Parliamentarians who are striving to make their way," he adds, "I would give the counsel never to forget that the House has a lighter and essentially good humored side."
"Tay Pay" thinks that if Parnell had taken a vacation in 1890 he could have come back more powerful than before, but "he was too proud to give way. Ousted from his leadership he engaged in a losing fight in Ireland which ended in his death. The book is published by D Appleton & Co.
0627 Rev of play Apple Cart, given in Warsaw
6/15/29 In his new comedy The Apple Cart, which opened tonight, Bernard Shaw, the great world's ventilator, has not disappointed expectations. The play admits a healthy breeze of fresh air into the stale atmosphere of the intrigues and political humbugs governing old Europe.
Although the action is projected into the future, it touched all the weak spots of the present day. In times when only 7 per cent. of Great Britain's population, namely, the group of maniacs, take part in the elections, the parliamentary government tries to restrict to a minimum the power of the constitutional monarch, the wise and righteous King Magnus. At a Cabinet meeting the King threatens to resign and to go into active politics. That naturally frightens the Prime Minister, because he is sure that Magnus, owing to his popularity, would beat all his political opponents in any election. So the Cabinet yields to the King, because he would be more dangerous as an ordinary parliamentary candidate than he is on the throne.
It certainly weakens the comedy that Mr Shaw opposes to the intelligent King people who mentally do not reach to his heels. One of the ministers is a former cabaret actress and the entire Cabinet is a gallery of simpletons and swindlers. A wise King and a stupid Socialist Minister is a combination too seldom found to be taken into serious consideration.
King Magnus has a good-natured and simple-hearted wife, and a friend, Orlanthia, who is more majestic and royal than the real Queen, but neither woman has a big role in the comedy. There is a good scene in which the King and the United States Ambassador appear. The latter wants to surrender to the British sceptre and to form one powerful state to assure the progress of civilization. Magnus accepts this proposal, but not very enthusiastically, being afraid that England would become an American province. On this occasion Magnus speaks very favorably of British national traits. This is, perhaps, the first in which Mr Shaw speaks in a friendly manner about his compatriots. Who knows if this sympathy for the British were not born during his last visit to Italy.
By projecting the action of the play into the future Mr Shaw has stepped on the territory of his colleague, H G Wells. But while Mr Wells leads us out of this "epoch of great confusion" with the help of the powerful magic wand of science and scientific organization, Mr Shaw does not represent in his play the positive sides of his political doctrine. However, both these great writers supplement each other.
Among the actors ought to be mentioned Junosza Stepowski, the best Polish actor today, who as Magnus kept the audience tense by this witty and intelligent performance. Mme Przybyiko Potocka showed great finesse as Orlanthia. The director of the Teatr Polski, Arnold Szyfman, gave the play a production of the highest European level. Alfred Sobienowski's translation gives an excellent expression to the witty and fluent dialogue.
0625 Praises "strong man" rule, int with Zagreb correspondent
5/23/29 Bernard Shaw, who is spending a few days at the Adriatic resort of Ragusa with his wife, in an interview with the correspondent of the Zagreb Morgenblatt, said: "Don't ask me what the result of the English elections will be. I am no prophet, but I will tell you this - only politicians, sportsmen and the clergy enjoy the respect of the British public. An author amounts to precisely nothing. You Dalmations ought to consider yourselves lucky that England had never heard about your bauxite deposits before the war, or she would have taken them from you."
About Yugoslav affairs Mr Shaw expressed himself in a way reminiscent of his praise of Signor Mussolini, which so outraged the Socialists' feelings a year ago.
"There can be no freedom without a strong State," he said. "Freedom once achieved, the people are inclined to forget it is still necessary for somebody to govern. That is why King Alexander has such a hard task here. Some of you do not seem to realize that an independent Croatia, Serbia, or Montenegro would be speedily swallowed up by some one - there is no need for me to say by whom."
Whether Mr Shaw's remarks will be relished by Dalmatia or Croatia, which have always recognized the impossibility of gaining independence and only demand autonomy within the kingdom of Yugoslavia, is doubtful, but Mr Shaw safeguarded himself against any reproaches.
"The whole responsibility for any statements I may have made," he said, "rests with you, if I am compelled to deny them."
5/20/29 Mr G B Shaw has uttered his approval of the talkies. Most of the English dramatic critics call them the "squawkies." But Mr Shaw, having once been a dramatic critic himself, knows how fallible that opinion is and defies it. He might have fresh ground for doing so in the failure of "Porgy" to make a success in London. This Theater Guild production, so triumphant here, met with a most enthusiastic approval from the leading dramatic reviewers in the English press. They hailed it as a theatrical novelty extremely well done. But after a few weeks it was withdrawn, illustrating once more the great uncertainty of transplanted plays. Theater owners are all the time driven frantic by not knowing whether an English drama, much trumpeted in advance, will appeal to New York audiences, and, as we see from the case of "Porgy," the reverse is just as true.
Perhaps the critics will take their revenge on Mr Shaw by asserting that he favors the talkies because he favors intolerable talk of all kinds from Methuselah down.
0623 Approves sound films
5/19/29 "The nicest thing about the film so far was that it kept its mouth shut. It would have been terrible if one had accompanied with words the stupidities which were played," declared Bernard Shaw in an interview with Melchior Lengyel, the Hungarian playwright, at Brioni today.
"That was the only reason I did not permit the filming of my plays, because their greatest strength was in their dialogues, in that what I had to say." The English playwright admitted the talking film opened a new perspective.
"Here begins something new and interesting," he said. "It is not yet free from dry mechanism and it acts the same manner as one winds the mechanism of a doll, but the mere fact the importance of words in the film is recognized will pave the way for writers because ultimately one will be able to distinguish between the good and the bad text. That will secure for the films gifted playwrights the same as does the stage, although both are different in character."
Regarding the first performance of his latest play, Applecart, at Warsaw, Mr Shaw declared he had a feeling that the Polish atmosphere was best suited for the play, besides "my Polish translator was most aggressive."
Applecart is a satyrical play in three acts, the main characters being the Ministers of a Labor party and one King. Asked whether he was working in Brioni, Mr Shaw retorted: "A writer must never rest. He cannot close the shop. Wherever he goes he cannot stop the stream of thoughts."
0622 Teatr Polski in Warsaw prepares his new play, Apple Cart, for production
5/19/29 One of the proudest men in Poland now is, of course, Arnold Szyfman, director of the Teatr Polski in Warsaw. He has every reason to feel gratified, for he is the first theatrical manager in the world who will produce Bernard Shaw's new play, The Apple Cart. This play will be seen for the first time on any stage at the Teatr Polski about the middle of next month. A translation has been made by Florjan Sobieniowski, who has already converted sixteen of Shaw's plays into Polish. Rehearsals have already begun, and some of the most prominent Polish actors have been given parts in the production, which will focus world-wide attention on Warsaw.
"The Teatr Polski has already a long-established Shavian tradition. Dr Szyfman has produced nine Shaw plays, and, besides, The Apple Cart, made a contract for another five plays. Dr Szyfman related to me how he succeeded in securing for his theater the first production of Shaw's new play even before it opens at the Malvern Festival under direction of Sir Barry Jackson in August. When St Joan was first produced in London, Szyfman applied for the European rights to that play. It happened that rights had already been given to a German agent and Warsaw came after Berlin and Vienna. Shaw, however, promised that the Teatr Polski wold get his next play. Immediately after news of The Apple Cart had appeared in the press, Szyfman wrote Shaw. The English author kept his promise and sent the manuscript to Sobienowski, making clear to his translator that he was at liberty to do with the play whatever he liked.
"Szyfman told me that the play would be better understood in Poland than anywhere else," said the translator. "It deals with the problem of power and the relationship between King and Parliament. It is purely political and may be even called a political comedy. The scene is laid in King Magnus's palace in the Distant Future 'when all people living now are dead.' The action begins at noon and ends at teatime. It is an immense subject to deal with. It is not easy to produce, is a play for very intelligent people, and those who understand it will be delighted with it." The translator also asserts it is a difficult play to produce "perhaps because of its apparent simplicity. It is a new departure as regards Shaw's artistic activity. Although placed in the future it deals with a subject of the moment, the crisis in democracy and parliamentary systems of government. The scene is England, but its application is universal."
There is an episode in the play of special interest for the American public - a humorous prophecy treated in a most strikingly Shavian way. I cannot quote the corresponding passages, which must remain the author's secret until the play becomes public property. I can only divulge that one of the most interesting characters in the play is Vanhattan, American Ambassador, who cherishes the idea of a union between American and England.
Vanhattan declares that the United States wants to join Great Britain and become the empire's greatest dominion. The Declaration of Independence has ceased to exist, he says, and he is no longer an ambassador at the Court of St Jame's, but high commissioner of the dominion. England and America would merge into one enterprise bigger than anything in the world. England would profit by the partnership with a much better equipped and organized United Stats, which as revealed in the course of the play even succeeded in transporting Ely Cathedral to New Jersey from bottom to top, and building and American skyscraper on the spot where the famous cathedral was originally built. Vanhattan offers Magnus an emperor's title and begs him to accept the United States into the British crown. Magnus is not at all enthusiastic about the offer and utters the remark that England in that case would soon be no more than the forty-ninth star in the American banner.
Junosza Stepowski, Polish actor, is now studying the role of King Magnus, a king who won the battle with Parliament. Madame Przybyiko Potocka, an actress who upholds Mojeska's tradition on the Polish stage, will play the king's favorite. (Jerzy Szapiro)
0621 Article on coaching of S Gardner for stage
5/5/29 The talking pictures, which have been responsible for several eminent eastward transatlantic passages, have attracted Shayle Gardner, a stage and screen actor, who was cast by Bernard Shaw in Saint Joan, by John Barrymore in his London Hamlet, and by Rex Ingram in "Three Passions", the film produced at Nice for United Artists. Mr Gardner arrived last week, and this is his first visit to America in two years. Then he supported Matheson Lang in "The Wandering Jew" at the Cosmopolitan Theater in New York.
In 1899 Mr Gardner, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, sold newspapers in the streets of San Jose, Cal. When he was 11 he left the United Sates, working his way on the steamship Sierra, as a pantry boy, to New Zealand. Since then he has been around the world four times; he has acted on the stages of Paris and London and New York; he has come to know Bernard Shaw well; he has made films in France and Germany and England, and he has played on the stage with Sir Herbert Beerbohm-Tree. Lady Forbes-Robertson, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Henry Ainley, Irene Vanbrugh and others. A massive figure, he is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs more than 200 pounds. He prides himself on being an adventurer; he went to Nice on a gamble and became a principal in "Three Passions." Now, after appearances in two subsequently produced German films, he is en route to Hollywood.
Shaw cast Shayle Gardner as Robert de Baudricourt in Saint Joan. The playwright had first met the actor years before, when Gardner was a student in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art conducted by Sir Herbert Tree; Shaw then coached Gardner in the role that Sir Herbert acted in Pygmalion, the Shaw play. When Saint Joan was in rehearsal - and it is not generally known that Shaw himself directed the rehearsals - Gardner was supposed to make a speech to Sybil Thorndike, who played Joan: "I don't know." Shaw thought that Gardner had not achieved the proper intonation on the words, and although the Irishman had sat quietly through the rehearsals, never losing his temper, he now interrupted.
"Say Gardner! Are you married?"
"Why - er - no, Mr Shaw."
"I knew it. If you were you'd know how to say, 'I don't know.'!"
While "Three Passions" was being filmed at Nice, Shaw spent a day at the studio. Alastair Mackintosh, the production manager, told Shaw that a film director named Rex Ingram was anxious to meet him, that this director greatly admired Shaw, and that, like him, he was an Irishman.
"Oh, no; he can't be an Irishman," said Shaw, "because there can't be an Irishman alive who admires another Irishman."
0620 Lr from T Hatton on book he sold under impression Shaw had made annotations
4/29/29 To the Editor of The New York Times: I have received cuttings from The Times relative to the copy of Locke's "Essay on Human Understanding," which was sold in my sale of Shaw items at the American Art Association at the end of February last, noting the fact that Mr Shaw repudiates any connection with the annotating of the book. This is, needles to say, as great a surprise to me as it must have been to any other collector or bookseller to whom I have shown the book from time to time.
The history attaching to the book is a very simple one, the facts being that I purchased the volume from a reputable bookseller in London, who himself had obtained it direct from Mr Shaw, together with other books he at that time disposed of. The bookseller offered me the item, I am sure, in all good faith when he stated that Shaw had made many marginal notes throughout the volume, and I from my own knowledge of his writing accepted the statement. Were it not for Mr Shaw's flat denial, I should even now feel disposed to argue in favor of the book being represented as it was catalogued, because in my opinion and many others better able to judge, there is a weird similarity in the writing.
I had the opportunity of meeting Gabriel Wells of New York at his London flat the other day, and in discussing this matter I agreed with him that I should take the book back from the purchaser; but on my return home from London I found a communication from the auctioneers that my resolve had been anticipated, and the book had been already returned.
0619 Intimate with G Tunney at Brioni
4/25/29 Colorful accounts of Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw sun bathing together have reached here (Pola, Italy) from Brioni, the Adriatic isle which both have been visiting recently. The favorite exercise of both of the celebrities has been swimming. Following a cold shower each morning, the former world's heavyweight champion and the Irish playwright glided easily through the water for long distances, Shaw, despite his 73 years and flowing white beard, being an excellent swimmer. A favorite turn to their exercise was to cease all muscular effort and float, faces upturned to the arm sun, taking life as easily and placidly as the isle itself. The sun baths on the beach with the sand sometimes piled high about them followed the excursions into the water.
Swimming done, the two took long walks, the white-haired old man keeping in perfect step with the broad-shouldered young man who once wore pugilism's crown. In the course of these walks they visited the old Roman ruins and the Roman church, carrying on an animated conversation as they walked about them.
In the evening, Shaw and Tunney invariably dined together, but neither in the dining room nor in their walks was any one able to approach closely enough to ascertain just what the topics of their conversations were.
The former marine continued to maintain his reserve so far as the outside world is concerned, not permitting unauthorized visitors. The playwright, approached by a correspondent, said there was nothing he had to say and that his coming to Brioni was solely to seek an isolated and tranquil spot. Shaw once wrote a novel, Cashel Byron's Profession, which had a prizefighter as its hero, with a woman of the aristocracy as his wife.
0618 Leaves for Is of Brioni
4/16/29 Bernard Shaw and Mrs Shaw left today for the Island of Brioni in the Northern Adriatic for a holiday of a month. Mr and Mrs J J Tunney are staying at the same island for a week.
In August the author was quoted as saying that he would be "delighted" to meet the former heavyweight champion boxer of the world.
"All I know about Tunney's literary taste is that he disapproves of Cashel Byron's Profession," Mr Shaw said at the time. "So do I. It shows that he has some taste and that we have something in common."
0617 Says invitation to become Independent candidate came 25 yrs too late
4/14/29 Great Britain's present intense general election campaign has come just thirty-five years too late to get Bernard Shaw as a candidate.
Replying to a Gladstonian Liberal in Dundee who urged him to become an Independent candidate for Dundee, the playwright wrote: "I thank you, but it is thirty-five years too late for me to begin a parliamentary career. Besides, as a professed Socialist of thirty-five years' standing and as one of the founders and present members of the Labor party I can hardly take the field as an Independent, can I? However, I appreciate the implied compliment."
The Conservative party was favored today in Stock Exchange betting quotations on the general election, to be held May 30. Friday's close quoted the Conservatives 'majorities' at 276 to 280, a loss of two over the previous day's close. That is to say that even money might be had on a bet that the present government would or would not recapture from 276 to 280 parliamentary seats. Labor was quoted at 250 to 254, an increase of one parliamentary seat, while the Liberals showed 82 to 86, or a loss of one.
0616 Scene of Arms and Man shifted to
Albania when play is presented in Prague
4/10/29 If Bernard Shaw had been present at the Vynohrady Theater here tonight he would have been astonished to see a performance of his Arms and the Man with the scene changed from Bulgaria to Albania.
The reason for moving the locale of the play further south was protests by Bulgarian residents of Prague against the presentation of a piece referring so disrespectfully to their national culture and customs. (Something about a bathtub. Ed.)Their protests were pointed by the fact that King Boris of Bulgaria was visiting Prague last week. Police attended the first night in force but the change of scene proved satisfactory, Prague's Albanian population apparently being too small to make trouble.
3/25/29 Prices of rare books and manuscripts have soared to such heights recently that any dishonest person with some knowledge of such matters must be confronted by a strong temptation. The great demand for unusual specimens and autographs and "association" volumes has sent collectors scurrying for genuine works. An unscrupulous dealer might easily succumb to the desire to satisfy an eager and credulous public.
No charge of deliberate trickery has been brought against the dealer who sold Locke's "Essay on Human Understanding," supposed to be "profusely annotated and underlined" by Bernard Shaw. In this instance it seems that the price of $1500 was paid because of the mistaken impression. It was, in fact, Mr Shaw's father-in-law who read and marked the book.
In the warning uttered by the playwright to his "worshipers" not "to scramble too blindly for alleged Shaviana," is a note of real and justifiable resentment of the idea that any one who knew his work well enough to want first-hand specimens of it should think him capable of disfiguring a book with pencilings. Apparently he was annoyed first that his ignorant admirer imagined he had ever read Locke's essay. It was even more disturbing of the creature to believe that the interlineations were his.
Like most people who read books respectfully, Shaw likes to indicate passages worth rereading. He makes a very light dot in the margin and notes the page on a slip of paper. Some people prefer to put the page numbers on the last blank page.
(The Observer, 24 March 1929)
3/24/29 Bernard Shaw became serious tonight and sounded a warning to American collectors to whom may be offered alleged Shaw manuscripts for sale. In a letter to the Observer, Mr Shaw urged careful investigation before buying, asking "May I beg my worshipers not to scramble too blindly for alleged Shaviana? Otherwise they may share the fate of one of their number in America who just paid $1,500 for a copy of Locke's 'Essay on Human Understanding.' It was advertised in a sale catalogue as profusely annotated and underlined by me.
"Before somebody else pays $3,000 or $30,000 for this treasure I had better state, unequivocably, that I never read Locke's essay and that I never disfigure books by underlining them. My practice, whether as reviewer or student, is to make a very light dot in the margin with a pencil-tip and note the page number on the end of a slip of paper.
"In short, this $1,500 treasure is worth about 5 cents in the book market, though intrinsically it is worth as much as or more than a commentary by myself." Mr Shaw explains that the "annotations" in Locke's essay were by his father-in-law, Horace Townsend of Derry County, Cork. "I am sorry to disillusion its latest purchaser," he concludes, "and can only suggest, by way of consolation, that if the present rage for relics continues it may easily happen that when all my own autographs are appropriated my father-in-law's may command equally extravagant prices. Meanwhile, will dealers and collectors be reasonably critical and not repeat a mistake which only the prevalent mania can excuse?"
0613 Enthusiastic over invention to keep severed head alive
BERLIN, March 16, 1929 (AP). - The newspaper Tageblatt will say tomorrow that Bernard Shaw has acknowledged that he is greatly tempted to have his head cut off. A German friend recently asked the opinion of the Irish dramatist and wit of the recently announced invention of the Russian Professor Brjuchenenko, who kept a severed head of a dog alive for more than three hours by means of a pumping arrangement.
Shaw replied: "I find the Brjuchenenko experiment frightfully interesting, but cannot imagine anything sillier than the suggestion to try it on a criminal sentenced to death. To prolong the life of such a person is undesirable.
"The experiment should be tried on a scientist whose life is endangered by an incurable organic disease, say cancer of the stomach, whereby humanity is threatened with the loss of services of his brain. What is easier than to save such genius from the death bed by cutting off the head, thereby freeing the brain from disease and keeping up artificial circulation in the arteries and veins so that the great man may continue to lecture and advise us without being impeded by body infirmities.
"I am greatly tempted to have my head cut off so that I may continue to dictate plays and books independently of any illness, without having to dress and undress, or eat or do anything at all except to produce masterpieces of dramatic art and literature. I would, of course, expect one or two vivisectionists to submit themselves to the experiment to prove to my satisfaction that it is practicable and not dangerous, but I assume that would not mean any serious difficulty.
"I am doubly obliged to you for bringing to my attention this highly satisfactory possibility. A university in which all chairs were occupied by a row of the finest brains in the country with nothing but pumps attached to them - briefly, where the whole system of teaching was purely cerebral - would be an enormous improvement on the present state of things.
"I would furthermore be obliged if you make the enthusiasm with which I learned of this last triumph of physiological research most widely known."
0612 Ed on ingenius advertising
3/15/29 Readers of The Times will have noticed the three full-page advertisements of Harrods, the London department store, which have appeared in this newspaper ending today with the one in which Bernard Shaw figures. It was the original idea of Harrods to ask three famous English writers to describe the big store, its contents and its methods of doing business. Application was made to Arnold Bennett, Mr Wells, and the unescapable Shaw. All three wrote declining to enter into this kind of alliance between commerce and literature. But they all wrote suspiciously long letters of refusal, and these were seized upon by Harrods as making a really effective form of advertising. To be able to print pictures of eminent authors rejecting the proffered gold was almost better than to have secured their acceptance. It certainly is a clever idea which works as well backward as forward, and turns out a success whether its fundamental proposal is quietly complied with or indignantly spurned.
And if Harrods got an ingenious advertisement out of it, so did the writers applied to. They did not deny that business had a rightful place in the world, but shrank from the thought of associating it with art, and were particularly horrified at the supposition that they could take money for their opinion. In this lofty pose Mr Shaw easily surpassed both Bennett and Wells. It has been said that it is impossible to place him in a position, no matter how apparently awkward, out of which he is not able to extract a glorious self-advertisement. That was remarked on him the other day when Dublin University decided not to grant him an honorary degree. Whether he got it or lost it all would be fish that came to his net. A particularly big fish came when he was able magnificently to write to Harrods declining to accept an "honorarium," and adding with a true Shavian smirk: "A writer who has been consecrated by Fame to the service of the public, and has thus become prophet as well as author, must take wages in no other service." Only Shaw could devise the right kind of ridicule with which to cover that!
0612 Shaw's answer to Harrods solicitation to write an ad
3/15/29 Recently Harrods of London ventured to invite three of our greatest Masters of the Written Word to lend the influence of their pens to the cause of Business. By permission, and without comment, Harrods publish their replies. The third - that of Mr Bernard Shaw - appears below:
There is nothing new in what you call the linking of forces between the commercial and literary world. Callisthenes is one of the best known authors of the day; and the catalogues of Fortnum and Mason are treasured by collectors and are read by me with delight, and with just that watering of the mouth that they are intended to provoke.
But long before these two triumphs of commercial literature were thought of there was a secret alliance between the two forces. When I was a beginner those members of my profession who were journalists as well as writers of books were, I regret to say, unashamed and inveterate cadgers. They flourished their connection with the press not only in the theater box offices as an excuse for demanding free admissions (orders, they used to be called) but in hotels and shops as a reason for allowing them substantial discounts or even not charging them anything.
I do not know which was the more amazing: the effrontery with which the blackmail was levied or the credulity with which it was submitted to. The consideration was called a puff; and editors were always on the watch to defeat the efforts of their contributors to slip them into the paper, though these same editors would pay their own hotel bills with puffs.
When what was called "the new journalism" began with interviews, then considered a startling and highly questionable innovation, the gentleman or lady who interviewed you admired the ornaments on your mantelpiece and remarked that the Countess of So-and-So, on being interviewed the week before, had very kindly presented the interviewer with some trifle or other (worth five pounds or so) and didn't you think that was very nice of her? As to the lunches at the press first nights, they were so completely a matter of course that I doubt if they counted for as much in the subsequent press notices as they cost.
All this puffery and cadging went on underground; and though my elders not only had no scruples about it, but actually insisted on it as an appanage of their literary dignity, I could not bring myself to practise it or to regard it otherwise than as corrupt and personally dishonorable.
It was not through literature that it suddenly came to the surface and became a legitimate department of art. When Millais was at the height of his fame as a painter a very popular picture of his, representing a nice little boy blowing bubbles, was bought by the firm of Pears, and used and reproduced as an advertisement. The Academy was shocked; but Millais took no notice; the advertisement had an enormous vogue; and advertising entered on its present phase, in which it is a matter of course for commercial firms to employ the best available artistic and literary talent to advertise their wares and services. There is no reason on earth why they should not, and every reason why they should, now that the art of selling has so much more importance than the routine of production.
But here are obvious limitations. Suppose for the sake of illustration that litigation arises between Harrods and Selfridges. Nobody would question the right of both litigants to engage the strongest bar they could get to plead their case. Nobody would question the propriety of the conduct of the most eminent barristers in accepting the briefs.
But if the two great firms were to bid against one another for the favorable consideration of the judge, or to inform the jury that a certain verdict would be suitably rewarded, the fat would be in the fire at once, and the two litigants in gaol.
Similarly, if I, having had my first publicly performed play advertised by a poster designed by Aubrey Beardsley (now much sought after by collectors), were to offer the President of the Royal Academy two thousand guineas for a poster to advertise my next play, there would be nothing whatever questionable either in the offer or its acceptance.
But if I were to intimate to, say, Mr St John Ervine and Mr Harris Deans that in the event of their notices of my play being sufficiently flattering to be usefully quoted as advertisements I should be prepared to buy the copyright from them for £500 apiece, then Heaven knows what would happen. Probably both gentlemen would refuse to notice my play at all, and would say why.
Both gentlemen write in a judicial capacity. But so do all authors whose work is of sufficient weight and depth to have a formative effect on the public mind. For such an author to accept payment from a commercial enterprise for using his influence to induce the public to buy its wares would be to sin against the Holy Ghost.
To propose such a transaction to Mr H G Wells is like offering the Archbishop of Canterbury a handsome cheque for dropping a recommendation of somebody's soap or shoes into his next sermon, or sounding the Astronomer Royal as to the possibility of keeping the clock back for half an hour during a big sale, or on polling day at an election. Its acceptance would be the last depravity of corruption in literature.
By all means let our commercial houses engage skilled but nameless scribes like Callisthenes to write their advertisements as such. But a writer who has been consecrated by Fame to the service of the public, and has thus become prophet as well as author, must take wages in no other service.
G. Bernard Shaw
0612 H G Well's answer to Harrods solicitation for an ad
3/14/29 Recently Harrods of London ventured to invite three of our greatest Masters of the Written Word to lend the influence of their pens to the cause of Business. By permission, and without comment, Harrods publish their replies. The third - that of Mr H G Wells- appears below:
I'm afraid I cannot do what you ask because I have my mind quite full with other work, and even if that were not so, I think I should have to decline your offer. I feel I must decline, but I find I have to rout about in my mind, to discover the hidden, almost instinctive reason for that refusal.
A writer, you say, is a skilled professional, an artist. Why should he not do what all artists, architects, technicians, and so forth do, and place his skill at you disposal? The answer is that, rightly or wrongly, the writer takes himself more seriously than that. In his heart he classes himself not with the artists but with the teachers and the priests and prophets. That may be an old view, and it may be going out of fashion.
We all believe, of our generation, deep in our foundations, that our only paymaster ought to be the reader. We live on sales to readers and we don't accept fees. There is, we feel, an implicit understanding between writer and reader to that effect. Publishers and newspapers may buy our work for considerable sums, but that is merely a speculative anticipation of the reader's tribute. Apart from that your project is most attractive. I can imagine nothing more amusing and exciting than to study your marvelous organisation closely and explain its working.
Some day I shall do something of the sort and come to you for particulars. But you will pay me nothing for that. I shall do it because it will interest me and because I think it will interest my readers. Facts you may give me with both hands, but not money. I have already sketched the appearance of your type of business in Clissold and of something distantly akin in Tono Bungay. I have long thought of coming closer to facts and tracing the actual development of some great distributing firm.
3/13/29 Recently Harrods of London ventured to invite three of our greatest Masters of the Written Word to lend the influence of their pens to the cause of Business. By permission, and without comment, Harrods publish their replies. The third - that of Mr Arnold Bennett- appears below:
I have now fully considered your proposal that I should write for the purposes of publicity, a signed article or series of articles dealing with such aspects of your business as might, on examination, especially appeal to me. I note that you would wish to give me a free hand as to both selection and treatment of topics, and that in particular you are quite ready to accept and to print adverse criticism as well as favorable criticism.
Your remind me that, as is well known, your business is among the largest, most comprehensive, and most famous of its kind in the world. You say that it counts notably in the industrial and mercantile life of the community, that your regular staff comprises an immense and constantly increasing number of citizens of both sexes, and that you use every honest endeavor to be of commercial service to the community.
You say further that you buy the best available materials and commodities that research can procure, and that you employ the best organisers, technicians, artists, designers, architects, and craftsmen of every sort that you can discover.
Lastly, you suggest that you ought to be able to enlist the help of descriptive writers in the same category of excellence and prestige as your finest workers in the applied arts.
On my side I will now tell you that as a writer I have always been keenly interested int he very impressive phenomenon of the big departmental store, regarded either as a picturesque spectacle, or as a living organism, or as a sociological portent. I am all in favour of the departmental store. I cannot keep my eyes off its window-displays, its crowds of customers, its army of employees. In Britain, America, France, and Germany I have studied its functioning as far as is possible to an outsider. As a theme for description it strongly appeals to me. I have written articles about it, and I have written a novel entirely about it. That novel, published many years ago, was inspired by the mere sight of your own premises when they were first erected.
I agree with you that you ought to be able to enlist the help of whatever writers seem to you to be adequately equipped for the task you would set. I should like, of course under proper conditions, to accept your proposal; and I see no possible reason against my acceptance, except one.
The reason is that public opinion in Britain is not yet ripe to approve the employment of responsible imaginative writers to whom it has granted a reputation, in any scheme of publicity for a commercial concern. Personally I differ from public opinion in this matter; but the opinion exists and I will not flout it. In flouting it I should certainly lose caste, and I do not intend to lose caste by attempting to create a precedent which could result, for me, in nothing save a disadvantageous notoriety. The time must inevitably come, sooner or later, when the precedent will be created, and after it is established people will wonder why it should ever have met with opposition. But the creator of the precedent will not be myself.
I must therefore, with lively regret, decline your proposal.
0611 Natl Univ of Dublin refuses to give him degree
3/13/29 Bernard Shaw, like many another prophet, is without honor in his own country. Today the convocation of the National University of Dublin decided he was not deserving of being honored by the Senate of the university. By 25 votes to 8 it rejected a resolution recommending that an academic distinction should be conferred on the playwright.
The proposer, Dr Waldron, said: "The university should contrive that bonds of unity should exist with fellow Irishmen in all parts of the world. One of the most famous Irish men of letters is Shaw, who is the greatest living author, and as a playwright towers above all. He has invigorated and purified the drama." Considerable opposition followed. One speaker said Mr Shaw would refuse the honor or make it a subject for self-advertisement.
Dr Mowbray declared that Mr Shaw was not a representative of Ireland and had never done anything for Ireland, while a third speaker said there were many parsons against and none for honoring Mr Shaw. Only yesterday the older University of Dublin decided to confer the degree of Doctor of Literature on George Russell ("AE").
0610 Replies to Chesterton's article
3/10/29 A superb article, as usual from Mr Chesterton, but a little like "The Three Musketeers" with D'Artagnan left out. History will group Mr Chesterton with the rest of us, but will observe that though his views are, on the whole, distinct from Mr Kipling, they are hardly distinguishable from those of Mr Wells and practically identical with mine, although his intellectual amusements are too fantastic and unscrupulously wayward for us. Someday he will be "saved"; and then he will adopt the familiar prayer by confessing 'we have believed those things which we ought not to have believed; and we have left unbelieved those things that we ought to have believed; and there has been (occasionally) no sense in us."
0609 Col Lawrence his guest at theater
3/6/29 Colonel T E Lawrence, otherwise known as Aircraftsman Shaw, England's man of mystery, obtained some publicity tonight for the other Shaw, namely George Bernard, by sitting in the same box with him at Wyndham's Theater to witness a performance of Major Barbara. Previously the famous author had issued a statement about the first-night revival of his play of Salvation Army life. Having named the occupants of his box, Shaw said: "As it is impossible for Colonel Lawrence to go anywhere without the press gossiping about it and getting it wrong, you may as well give it to them right." In a new preface to the play he said: "The Salvation Army still spends in a struggle with poverty the zeal that was meant for a struggle with sin."
0608 G K Chesterton cites his prophecies for 20th century
3/3/29 Rudyard Kipling, Bernard Shaw and H G Wells were the three unmistakable men of genius who dominated the literature of England in my earliest days. They formed a triangle of forces in the generation a little older then my own; they formed a tripod on which the dying nineteenth century sat and uttered oracles about the twentieth. For with all their other differences, they were all prophets. They all prophesied vivid and inspiring things about future happenings; I may add also that none of them prophesied anything resembling what really happened.
They were all adventurers, considering rather an advance into the unknown than the recovery of anything known or knowable. Kipling might seek adventures of the Seven Seas, or Wells adventures in the seven planets, or Shaw, in his later visions, something like adventures in the seven heavens. But even he, in being a prophet, is the very reverse of a poet. The poet realizes how close are the kindred point of heaven and home. In the Shavian view of life, heaven is as far as possible from him. In this he is at one with Kipling, and with all his far-flung line of colonists (or convicts) who left their country for their country's good. It is significant that Kipling uses the same sort of language about space that Shaw uses about time. The one "yearns after the sky-line, where the strange needs go down"; the other is content to offer as a reason for his faith in the future, "It is enough that there is always a beyond." Neither perhaps realized enough that the strange roads might go down to destruction; or that what is beyond may be beyond endurance.
It would be an exaggeration to say that all these three great men died in the great war. But it is time to say that they all met, at or about that time, a test or crisis which produced a moral change whether after the manner of a loud cry or a sudden silence. In all the foolish things that have been said in praise of them, nobody that I know of has ever seized the point: the point of each of the stories, the point that made the difference to each of the men. We will take the case of Mr Kipling first, because it was in his story that the war itself was specially the crisis; whereby he who had been perpetually writing war songs almost ceased to do so on the appearance of war.
It was the tragedy of Rudyard Kipling that he had to pretend to be and Anglo-Saxon when he was really an Anglo-Indian. Now Anglo-Saxons do not exist; but Anglo-Indians do. Anglo-Indians, being real men, often good and able men, and in this case to be counted among brilliant and gifted men, have their own limitations like all living things. He saw the Englishman standing on the earth as he stands on the alien soil of the great Asian peninsula. It was not so much merely that he saw him as superior to his surroundings; it was the nature of the particular superiority to those particular surroundings. The British Raj in India is, first, one in the midst of many, a united and centralized power amid a vast variety of patchwork kingdoms, rival princes, warring tribes and incompatible religions. Second, he is dominant over something that is not barbarism, but lax or decaying civilization, by means of one particular element out of the elements of European civilization.
Kipling has, of course, explained it a hundred times, especially in his early writings. That European force is the drill sergeant; not the missionary or the politician or even primarily the practical man of science. He therefore preached a philosophy of discipline, which sometimes rose to be a philosophy of duty and sometimes sank to be a philosophy of bullying and fear. But whatever there was to like or dislike about it, nobody doubted that it was the cult of the drill sergeant, least of all Mr Kipling himself. And then the Anglo-Indian turned his face from India to England; and found his country at war with Prussia.
It seems to me not surprising that it produced a sort of silence. It was obvious that, if drill sergeants made a paradise, Prussia was the paradise of drill sergeants. It was obvious that if order and discipline were the supreme virtues, Prussia was supremely virtuous; if liberty or laxity were the destructive vices, England was the more vicious of the two. In short, it looked painfully as if Prussia was right if Rudyard Kipling was right. But it all arose out of the accident that India, which is itself like a world, had originally given him his impression of the position of the English in the world. He vaguely imagined that he saw the position of the Englishman among Europeans, in what was really only the position of the European among Asiatics. But what should they know of England who only Anglo-India know?
Of course, I know that Mr Kipling has dealt with other topics and traveled in other lands; notably in America; and some have even called him American. I think this is a very superficial reading of very superficial characteristics. Mr Kipling dislikes the idea of democracy more in the spirit of a don than of a journalist; and he not only fails to realize it in America, but also in Australia and New Zealand and the English colonies, where (for good or evil) it is almost equally the general assumption. His five Nations are really five notions, created by his genuine poetic fancy. You would never think, from his allegorical groupings, that there was any labor legislation in New South Wales or any Catholics in Canada. As a moralist he is a militarist, nor do I use the term in the least as a condemnation. His truth was the valid truth that does belong to subordination and organic obedience, and he presented it with matchless vivacity and point. I only remark that a moralist who was a militarist was rather brought to a halt by being asked to save the world from militarism
In quite another fashion the same break in history corresponds roughly to a break in the history of Bernard Shaw. This also is a story of which few have seen the irony, I might almost say the joke Mr Shaw has been all his life a very serious and sincere Socialist; and the arguments against socialism which he has answered so brilliantly and so often have commonly been concerned with the alleged unsuitability of socialism to the nature of man. Some say that socialism is too remote and impossible an ideal, because man must resign himself to being selfish and greedy. Some say, as I should say, that socialism is a narrow and negative tyranny, because man has a sense of property as he has a sense of honor. The Socialists naturally answered by saying that socialism was in reality quite suited to man, and was, indeed, the only thing that would suit him. Then it was that Bernard Shaw broke out into the one real paradox of his life. He felt it coming before the war, but it was clinched by the war, and all the things that led up to it in popular sentiment and a patchwork of patriotism. The great Socialist said in effect, "The anti-Socialists are obviously right. Socialism is utterly unsuited to man. It is time we started in seriously to abolish man."
That was the meaning of Man and Superman before the war; but that was even more clearly the meaning of Back to Methuselah after the war. It is the crucial turning or turn-over in the drama of Shaw's life; and it was in fact extremely like one of the humorous controversial surprises in one of Shaw's dramas. We can imagine his writing a play turning on a discussion about whether a new white hat really suited Uncle William; and the triumphant logician deducing the necessity of throwing away Uncle William. Ever since then he has dreamed of evolving animals higher than human beings; and sufficiently different from anything human to fit in with his own ideals of what is high.
I am not comparing these views with my own, for I happen to hold that what is most human has been sealed with final sanctity by the presence of what was divine; I am simply describing the effect of a great crisis on great men. Kipling was bewildered by being asked to make the world safe for democracy, when he openly detested democracy. Shaw was puzzled and provoked by being asked to prove that socialism was the very thing for the populace, when he was thoroughly disgusted with the populace.
The change in H G Wells was more subtle and perhaps more slow. He supported the war because it would do everything that Mr Kipling hoped it would not do; just as Mr Kipling supported it in the hope that it would prevent everything that Mr Wells trusted it to procure. Mr Wells called it "The War That Will End War" and has since been honorably occupied in warning us against the probability of it producing many more wars. This again does not concern my own views, which have never altered; I never thought it was a war that would end war, and I still think it was justified as a war that would end Prussian prestige.
But Mr Wells's reluctant belief or half-belief in it has an interesting moral for all that. His literary life divides itself into four parts. In the first and perhaps the greatest, he saw visions, though they were the visions of a materialist rather than a mystic. He was the first who ever saw the living logical deductions from materialism, that if manhood had divided into monkeys and men, manhood might subdivide into creatures equally diverse and hostile, even busting and eating each other. We may say that the rest of his life has been an attempt to recover from that nightmare.
Then came the realistic novels, in which he did a magnificent work in creating the great epic of the small man. If he had only stuck to the small man, the epic might still have been great. There is still something splendid in the figure of the little clerk or greengrocer defying the stars and the titanic powers, the small man against the large things. In an evil hour, more or less corresponding to the writing of "The Food of the Gods," he conceived a love of large things and in some sense deserted the small man. True, the large things are no longer giants, or anything so jolly. They are large organizations, and large (though open) conspiracies.
Yet on him also the war had an effect, on the whole for the good, for he hated the imperial sort of superman, and paid the Kaiser the rather comic compliment of disliking him as a sort of Napoleon. This has thrown him back since then more generally on the mass of small and obscure men, but with this deplorable difference, that these men are now to be organized.
Mr Wells is one of the most brilliant people in the world, but it seems to me that only an alliance of all the very dullest people in the world could seek to spread the flat and colorless cosmopolitanism that seems to be his latest religion. And though Heaven knows I am no friend to the Blond Beast roaring upon the hills (and was never even as much drawn to him as was the author of "The Food of the Gods"), I am sure that it might not be worse to turn the whole world into a Babbitt warren.
I think it worth noting that these three great thinkers who at the end of the nineteenth century developed their several schemes to organize the twentieth have emerged thus strangely from the great organization and disorganization of the World War. Kipling set out in the pride of organization and found his enemy better organized. Shaw realized that men would never be sufficiently organized, and decided to keep the organization and abolish the men. And Wells, setting out originally in a mood of Socialist revolt, now seems almost ready to accept any organization, even the capitalist organization of trusts. But I, as a humble admirer of all three, think that the world is now organized a vast deal too much and that we shall not feel free till we get back from the organization to the organism, the rather grotesque organism that is called man.
0607 The Apple Cart to be produced by Theater Guild
3/1/29 Bernard Shaw's latest play, The Apple Cart, will be produced here by The Theater Guild early next season. The manuscript has not yet reached this country but the Guild had received word from Mr Shaw that a copy is now on the way. In earlier dispatches from London Mr Shaw was quoted as saying that the new play has a political background. Preparations for a London production are understood to be also under way, and it is not yet known whether the Guild's production will constitute a world premiere. The Guild has given first productions to three Shaw plays, these having been Heartbreak House in the season of 1920-21, Back to Methuselah, and Saint Joan.
0606 Ints himself on his own illness
3/1/29 Bernard Shaw, who as a rule does not object to publicity, professes to be really indignant over reports that he is very sick and that his condition has been causing anxiety to his wife and friends. To prove that he is still very much alive he issued tonight a "self-interview" denying what he describes as "inept fiction" about him circulated in the last few days. The interview follows:
"Mr Bernard Shaw's convalescence proceeds satisfactorily. Interviewed as to reports of his illness Shaw said: "'The special reports by special correspondents are inept fictions. Not that I would say a word to hurt the feelings of the brazen liars who have concocted them, but they might at least have stopped short of attempting to assassinate me by ringing me up in the dead of the frozen night to announce the news of my own illness to me a week after everybody else knew all about it and to ask whether I would like to say anything to them about it.
"'But for the urgent necessity for getting back into bed before getting a chill, I should have had more to say than they would have cared to hear. The simple truth is, I have had an ordinary attack of what people call influenza and am now recovering in the ordinary manner. Instead of having the advice of half a dozen medical friends, as I usually have when there is anything the matter with me, I am being very competently cared for by one only. I am not even indulging myself with a nurse.
"'Alleged persistent resistance to the calling in of medical practitioners, the summoning of two specialists and a radiographer by my wife in revolt, the ascetic dieting, the anticipation of inclusion in the honors list by the government, which dared not allow my speech at the celebration of my seventieth birthday be broadcast, and all the rest of the blundering twaddle are the inventions of needy and desperate men to extract money from editors too heavily preoccupied to be critical.'"
0605 Name fails to appear in New Year's honor list
3/1/29 A large number of distinctions conferred upon women is the outstanding feature of the New Year's honor list, whose publication tonight after two months' delay is regarded as another welcome sign of the King's recovery. Three peerages only are announced. Sir Jesse Boot, founder of a great chain of drug stores, one of the largest in the world, receives a peerage for his services in the promotion of education. He is regarded as the chief founder of the new Nottingham University and is noted for his generosity to charitable and social objects. Urban Broughton receives a peerage which it was intended to confer on his father, a generous benefactor of hospitals, who died on Jan 30. Sir Berkeley Moynihan is the second great surgeon in the peerage, the first having been Lord Lister, in 1897, and he now joins in the House of Lords the King's physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, who was the first physician to be so honored.
Among the many women honored are Mrs Laura Knight, A R A, the painter, and Miss Bertha Phillpotts, formerly mistress of Girton College, Cambridge, who both become Dame Commanders of the Order of the British Empire. The King's act in honoring an unprecedented number of women will be highly acceptable to the country, now that more than 5,000,000 additional women have been added to the registers under the new franchise act and will vote at the forthcoming general election. The outstanding figure among the recipients of the Grand Cross of the Indian Empire is Sir Hari Singh, better know to the newspaper readers as "Mr A," in a cause celebre in the British courts some years back.
Contrary to expectations, the name of Bernard Shaw does not appear in the list.
Sir Berkeley Moynihan, who is created a peer, is a leader in the British campaign against cancer. He earned the Victoria Cross in the World War and it was he who, at a dinner to President Wilson, offered the toast "to the President of Kings and the King of Presidents."
Urban Broughton, another new peer, is the son of Clara Leland, daughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers of New York. His father shortly before his death presented the beautiful house and estate of Ashridge Park to the Conservative party as a memorial to the late Bonar Law. He declined a peerage offered him during the war.
0604 Reptd seriously ill
2/28/29 Bernard Shaw is abed with an illness which The Daily News describes as "something much worse than an ordinary attack of influenza." It is added that his condition has been so serious as to cause his wife and intimate friends grave anxiety. At Mr Shaw's flat tonight, however, it was stated that although he was still confined to bed he was much better and making good progress.
"It is, perhaps, somewhat ironical to note," says The Daily News, "that during the time Shaw was writing his playful satire on the King and the doctors, which appeared in last week's Time and Tide, he was already sickening. The sting in his article in time and Tide, as in most of what Shaw writes, was in the tail, when he said the King would get better at Bognor, not because of the fact that he would get fresh air, but because he had escaped from his doctors. Shaw has never believed in doctors - he believes in diet - but Mrs Shaw does believe in doctors, and in spite of the great man's persistent resistance to the calling in of medical practitioners, Mrs Shaw, rightly anxious for her husband's health, called in not only a doctor, but a radiographer as well."
0603 First eds and autographs sold at T Hatton sale
2/27/29 A copy of the first edition of Bernard Shaw's first work on the drama, The Quintessence of Ibsenism, which Shaw himself used in making revisions for the second edition, brought $2,850 last night at auction at the galleries of the American Art Association. On nearly every page are corrections and deletions in Shaw's autograph, with additional material amounting to about 1,400 words.
This was one of several Shaw items included in the auction, which comprised the library of Thomas Hatton of Leicester, England. The Brick Row Book Shop, Inc, bought The Quintessence of Ibsenism and also paid $1,700 for about 200 words in the autograph of Shaw on the attitude of the Church toward war. The same buyer paid $1,500 of Shaw's own first edition of his Augustus Does His Bit and Shaw's own copy of the first edition of his Dramatic Opinions and Essays With an Apology. Shaw's annotated copy of "Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding" went to the same buyer for $1,500. The 290 items in the two sessions of the sale brought a total of $46,000. At the afternoon session a complete set of the "Penny Pickwick" went to C E Moran, agent, for $1,910. A long autograph letter which Dickens wrote to Mme de La Rue went to Gabriel Wells of $1,900.
0602 Mentioned for honors list
2/27/29 Bernard Shaw is mentioned, as usual, in speculation as to the King's postponed New Year's honors list to be published Friday, as a prospective recipient of some high honor. It can safely be said that Mr Shaw, had he desired it, could have numbered himself among titled persons for many years past, but as a professed Socialist, he has preferred to remain just plain Bernard Shaw. But there is one honor about which, perhaps, he might think twice before refusing. This is the Order of Merit.
The distinction carries no title with it, but the recipient can place the letters O M behind his name and that means he is included among the most distinguished persons in the land. The order is limited in number to twenty-four. The noted British composer, Delius, also is mentioned as a possible recipient of the Order of Merit.
0601 Natl Univ of Ireland proposes giving him a degree
2/7/29 Bernard Shaw has got himself into the limelight again - after an absence of nearly a week. A report has reached London that at a meeting of the Convocation of the National University of Ireland last Tuesday Michael Waldron proposed, "That in recognition of his many beautiful contributions to dramatic literature, this meeting of Convocation respectfully recommends to the Senate for special academic honor and distinction the name of Bernard Shaw."
Mr Shaw, when interviewed tonight, showed no particular elation over the honor that it is proposed to confer on him. "I have heard nothing of it," he said, "but it seems a very proper thing to do -don't you think so? Of course I have been sounded about accepting university degrees before, but I never accepted them because I did not think the ones offered to me were at all suitable." He added that the national University of Ireland might have the idea of conferring upon him the degree of doctor of divinity or doctor of medicine, either of which, he thought, would perhaps be somewhat incongruous, but, he concluded: "I haven't any settled policy on the subject."
0600 London papers assail his views on pacifism
1/28/29 Sir Austen Chamberlain's speech yesterday on Anglo-American relations receives the warm support of The Daily Telegraph and The Morning Post. Both commend the Foreign Secretary's address not only as an endorsement of the views of the British public generally, but as an answer to such men as Ramsay MacDonald, Dean Inge and Bernard Shaw, whose recent articles written for American consumption, it is alleged, have given a wrong impression of the feeling toward the United States entertained in this country. The Morning Post refers to "the supposed antagonism between this country and the United States on the subject of naval armaments - a subject that too many people feel it incumbent on them to inflame by unnecessary discussion."
It is not unnatural, it says, that Mr MacDonald's apostrophe in the New York Nation should have been hotly resented by those to whom it was addressed, and instead of discouraging the new cruiser bill now before Congress it had the opposite effect of bringing down on this country the resentment and suspicion which Mr MacDonald wished to banish.
The Daily Telegraph then refers to Mr MacDonald's article in The Nation as "a mischieviously exaggerated and misleading judgment of the position as it exists today." Linking it with Dean Inge's and Bernard Shaw's promulgation of views on Anglo-American relations, the paper concludes "Such purely gratuitous interventions may serve to remind us of Lord Allenby's common-sense observation on his return from the United States, that 'there is no reason why the peace which has endured between that two countries for 113 years should ever be broken again.'"
It is hoped and believed in Paris that Sir Austen Chamberlain's friendly speech of yesterday will have considerable effect in smoothing out the ruffles which have developed in Anglo-American relations since the failure of the Geneva Naval Conference. It has been with much disquiet that the French have watched the developments of the situation between their friends, but it has also been noticeable that they have constantly inclined more toward sympathy with the English position than with that of the United States.
For this there have been three reasons. First, they are convinced that not only are the British professions of friendship and good intentions toward the United States sincere, but that they cannot ever be otherwise. For England, they believe, is vulnerable and cannot risk even friction with the United States without estranging Canada, Australia and South Africa, on whose support she could not rely in case of conflict.
Third, they incline toward support of the English position in a kind of instinct of self-defense. They have no fear of American domination, but many do have considerable distrust of American dictation.
The French seem incline to despair of two points at issue on naval parity between England and the United States. A formula for the establishment of naval parity seems to them almost undiscoverable, given the different geographic and commercial situations of the two countries. "An attempt must be made to find such a formula." the Temps says, but it believes there is far more safety in good-will and abstention from injurious speeches that in anything which can be devised.
"It is possible that the English realizing the impossibility of perpetuating their maritime hegemony, might accept a change. But the rupture could not be accomplished without an enormous overturn of British opinion."
Pertinax is not only pessimistic about the possibility of an agreement, he is also pessimistic about what would happen afterward, for he concludes:
"Every time the United States has been engaged in war she has used her sea power just as brutally as Great Britain. She has never shown herself disposed to accept any law when her interests were engaged. Until she entered that war in April, 1917, she made an urgent demand for freedom of her trade and was even disposed to fight the Allies to obtain recognition of her claim. Once she entered the war she applied with the utmost vigor just the same rules of contraband and blockade which had been laid down by London and which she herself in large part created during the War of Secession. Taking these facts into consideration, Mr Coolidge has been prudent to observe that the Senate would not easily adopt an Anglo-American treaty of freedom of the seas. Let us be glad of that. For perhaps it will preserve us from aggravation of the naval quarrel."
1/19/29 No memoir of the late "Tex" Rickard can be regarded as complete which fails to take account of the important contribution to his successful career made by Bernard Shaw. It is a question whether Rickard would have risen to such Napoleonic heights in the solar plexus industry if not for a single act of intervention by the sage of Adelphi Terrace, London. This was Shaw's famous report of the Beckett-Carpentier fight, which appeared in the London Nation and was reprinted in this country with enormous eclat. One of the factors in Rickard's success was admittedly his extraordinary talent for "ballyhoo." But the cocktail publicity for the first of his million-dollar fights was not primarily of his own making. It was Bernard Shaw who, obviously without intention, supplied the big preliminary noise for Boyle's Thirty Acres when he introduced the debonair and high-brow Georges to a new American prize-ring public.
Shaw in his own person counted even more than Carpentier. He taught our educated classes to feel at home in Madison Square Garden. It was a time when we were peculiarly susceptible to British intellectualist example. H G Wells was launching the Outline that was to be the parent of so many American summaries of everything conceivable. Lytton Strachey was letting loose the formidable flood of biographical candor which is only now beginning to subside after washing pretty nearly all of America's ancestors out of the grave and into the comic supplement. American progressives were being fascinated by the British Labor party, and Park Avenue's well-dressed men were more than ever under the spell of Piccadilly.
It was also a time when our intellectual classes were beginning to yearn for reconciliation with the masses. This ultimately impelled them to embrace and endorse the movies, vaudeville, burlesque, jazz, the "funnies" and other primitive appetites of the crowd. Shaw's example added prizefighting to the list. No doubt Rickard's genius for showmanship would unaided have seized upon the big-business opportunities after the war, but it can be fairly maintained that Shaw made easier the corralling of the celebrated 400 millionaires.
0598 Excerpts of address on actors and acting delivered before Royal Acad of Dramatic Art
1/6/29 Ladies and Gentlemen: The greater number of listeners to this address of mine have just been informed that what is happening is "London calling from the British Isles." What is actually happening is, Bernard Shaw calling the universe. I want to emphasize that because some of my audience consists of our young students here, and I want to remind them at the outset that their parents might probably hear them, no matter how remote may be the part of the globe in which they happen to be at this moment. So, if they feel tempted at any moment to interrupt me with use of epithets or anything of that kind, I want to remind them that their voices may be recognized.
Being in the school, perhaps I had better talk about it, because this Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is a very peculiar place. The subject is difficult for me because the government is always very nervous, for some reason or other, whenever I speak in public. I do not know why, because, after their performances of some of their own members in that way, I should imagine that they would not be afraid of anything. But, unfortunately, I am driven here to speak on one of the most controversial subjects in the world, and that is whether a member of a family shall go on the stage or not. We are a school for training the member of the family who want to go on stage, and the differences between ourselves and other schools will at once occur to you. In the case of the other schools, the parents want the child to go to the school to get rid of it; the child does not want to go and would rather stay at home. In our case, the child wants to go very desperately and determinedly, and the parents usually object very strongly indeed. They used to object still more strongly than they do today, but nevertheless, there is the objection.
Before I come to the grounds of that objection, which are reasonable enough, I want to remind you how very strong it has been and still to a great extent is in this country.
Take the example of Charles Dickens. He was a born actor. He would have gone on the stage; he was trying to go on the stage at the very moment when a colossal and overwhelming literary success condemned him to be a writer instead of an actor. While he was pursuing his literary career he was never happy unless he was getting up some kind of acting performance, and finally he definitely became an actor in the most extreme and concentrated form that is to say, the actor who plays all the parts in the play himself. He became one of the most astute, dramatic reciters in the world, and he went on at that until he killed himself. You would not expect Charles Dickens to have any prejudice against the theater of the ordinary kind - of the kind of the parent who imagines that the theater is the gate of hell. And yet when Charles Dicken's daughter wanted to go on the stage, and when she had a very admirable opportunity of going on it, when she had been offered an engagement by a well-known manager of that time, Charles Dickens absolutely refused to allow his daughter to think of such a thing. He said it was impossible, it was out of the question; the theater was a place into which his daughter could not go in a professional capacity.
At about the same time a very well-known French dramatic author, Alexandre Dumas fils, not pere, wrote a public letter to a young lady of noble family in France who went on the stage and he took the same line more strongly than Dickens. He said that no lady could go on the stage. I believe this was a princess, which ought to have made the matter easier, as it would have done today.
I can remember myself at a much later date, but no later than the beginning of the present century, when, perhaps, the best-known dramatic critic of that time was Clement Scott. He created an extraordinary sensation by saying that a woman could not be an actress and a respectable woman at the same time; and the controversy went on until the poet, the late Robert Buchanan, settled it. He said, "This is a monstrous calumny. No respectable woman on the stage! There are thousands of respectable women on the stage and only about six actresses!"
Nowadays, of course, matters have changed. We have come to a point at which we are seeing something that, I think, never existed before, and that is persons who have not yet grown up becoming possessed of enormous fortunes. You find - well, I don't like to mention the name - but you find celebrated film stars, and you may say almost that these ladies have the governments of the world in their pockets; they are much richer than queens and kings, and some of them are quite young.
The bearing of this on this school is this, that we have the parents who really think that the child's salvation has been imperiled by coming here. In that case the child usually has some strong artistic bent in opposition to its parents. But you are now getting the other sort of parent, who comes here with an entirely hopeless daughter without any artistic qualifications whatever, and insists on our turning a film star into a great actress, earning heaven knows what sums of money, on which her family will be enabled to retire from business for the rest of their lives.
That being our position, I want to come to the question whether the old prejudice has anything in it. What is it that we teach here? To begin with, perhaps I had better ask you, what does a parent desire its child to learn? Take the case of a daughter. Do respectable families in this country desire their daughter to spend a great deal of time in making herself attractive to men? I quite grant you that they all want her to make herself attractive to one man, with a pretty solid income and a good position; but when you come to the question of her absolutely and promiscuously making herself attractive to every man who sees her, no matter what class his may be, whether he is sitting in a stall which has cost 12s 6d or 13s 6d or whether he is in the gallery, admission to which is perhaps obtained for 2d, that is another story. That she is to paint herself, to dress herself, so as to make herself irresistibly fascinating to all these people - does any respectable family contemplate that lot for its daughter without recoiling in horror? But that is what we teach young ladies to do here. Even in the painting part of it we give them elaborate lessons. We teach them to wear wigs; we teach them every single art that can fascinate and attract large bodies of men. So that really there is some reason in the prejudice, after all, on the surface of it.
Take the case of a young man. His parents desire a big career for him. The very last thing that they desire is that he should go out into the world and be laughed at by everybody. We teach young men here to be laughed at. We take the greatest care, we spend incalculable pains in training them to be ridiculous, in training them to such a pitch that we consider we have done our very best when we have turned out a young man who the moment he appears on the stage provokes a roar of laughter, even before he opens his mouth.
Well, that is certainly a very questionable sort of school, I think you will admit. And yet we have a royal charter. You will say: "What on earth was the King thinking of?" When I tell you that this theater of ours was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales, you will say, "What! has the royal family gone mad to countenance these proceedings, this sort of training of children?" Well, it is so; they do this sort of thing. We have got our charter, and I am speaking here without the slightest fear of it being revoked, although I am within hearing not only of this audience but of the government who are probably anxiously listening.
Why do people want to go on the stage in spite of all these scandalous difficulties at the outset of the career? Well, partly because it is an eligible profession to some people, and partly because it is the satisfaction of a human instinct. Those two things operate and I will have, I think, to deal with them separately.
In the theatrical profession we have what are called theatrical families. They are old families all the members of which have been actors or actresses; and they are usually most desolatingly respectable. Usually they are extremely skilled in their profession, and very satisfactory to work with, because they know their business, which is not quite so common as it ought to be on the stage. But they are there for some reason. Whether it is that they are brought up with much greater strictness than any other sort of families, the fact is that I have never been in a Quaker family which was anything like so strict as a ordinary theatrical family. But they produce the actor who is on the stage, and who very often has a distinguished career there; and yet, so far from being stage-struck is he or she that they positively do not enjoy acting; but they are driven into it by the fact that they can get a living more easily in the theater than anywhere else.
I could give you some quite noted examples. Take the case of Macready. The scion of a theatrical family, he did not want to go on the stage. He was educated, he was brought up to be a gentleman, not an actor. That distinction used to exist in his time. Now, of course, all that is completely changed. Nowadays if anybody asks me of a person, "Is he a gentleman?" I should say, "Oh, yes, he is an actor," and that would settle the matter at once. But in Macready's day it was not so. When he discovered that really the most evident opening, the one in which he was most certain to succeed, was that of an actor, he became the leading actor of his time in England. Yet if you read his diary you will find that it was very far from being a congenial occupation to him. In the first place, he always shuddered when he saw his name put in large letters in a bill anywhere, and ran away to the other side of the street. The modern actor shudders when he sees his name in small letters.
The actor of my time who was most unquestionably our leading classic actor in the special sense is Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson. He was an artist by temperament, he was a painter; but he found matters so difficult as a painter that he went on the stage, solely because he could live as an actor more easily than he could in the other way. In his very interesting autobiography he makes a very curious statement - that he can only remember one period, one performance in his life which he enjoyed in which he was acting himself. There you see this curious thing, that it is not always the satisfaction of the instinct that settles a career; sometimes it is the economic pressure of the career.
I want to say a very interesting thing about that. Those people who are driven by this outside pressure onto the stage are very often the best actors, and the people who are most hopelessly stage-struck are sometimes impossibly bad actors. I simply state that as a general proposition, because there may be in this audience some person who has never dreamed of becoming an actor, who has been brought up perhaps to be a clergyman, and is contemplating that career with some doubt as to whether it is a quite eligible one - it is difficult to get people to go into the church now. But I just want to say this to encourage such a person: If even he has not the slightest desire to be an actor, he has just as good a chance to be a celebrated actor as people who devote all their lives to the theater. I say that as a general encouragement.
But I am most interested when I come to that side of the matter which is the satisfaction of an instinct, because then it becomes psychologically very curious. Humanity produces two types occasionally. In their extreme form they are not very common; but these two types created the theater originally. There must have been some man, probably in archaic Greece or anywhere you like, who, instead of earning an honest living as a carpenter or a mason or something of that kind, or even as a politician, although that might have satisfied his instincts - you find that this man - and the same thing applies to women, although it began with men - this man does not want to be himself. He wants to magnify himself. He wants to be a hero. You don't get opportunities every day of being what is call a real hero. You don't find battles ready for you in which to win Victoria Crosses. You may have no opportunity of being a real soldier, you have to pretend to be a soldier; so you develop your personality, you give yourself the air of a soldier. You wear your hair, or sometimes do, of a length at which heroes were supposed to have worn it at whatever particular period it happens to be; and you pose before your fellow creatures; you utter heroic sentiments, you may possibly get another person to do it for you, and learn them off by heart: in which case you invent the dramatic author - you invent me in fact. But still there is this type of man and he has to entertain. He begins by reciting, by playing all the different characters himself, and that is a propensity which still lingers among actors.
There are many actors nowadays who, although they do not play all the characters themselves, regret that they cannot do so. I ought in fairness to say that sometimes the author regrets that he cannot play all the parts as well. But at last the man who has spouted, if I may put it that way, to a crowd gets up on a soapbox, if there is such a thing, or stands on a barrel; and then finally he gets something more permanent. He wants a sort of stage or tribune to speak from: he gets beautiful costumes: he exaggerates his height with bushins. He still plays all the parts himself, but although he begins in that way he finds it is necessary to present a sort of something like what we now call a drama. Yet at first the necessity for playing all the parts himself brings him to this curious point. He says to the author, "I want to play both Romeo and Juliet, or Tristan and Isolde, whatever the case may be; but you must understand that Romeo and Juliet must never be on the stage at the same time; Romeo must come on and make love, and then he must go away; then Juliet must come on and express her sentiments." The author naturally says, "This is very awkward." I suppose that after a time the authors made a little struggle and said, "Well, would it not be nice to have somebody else to play the lady? I will not make her part very prominent, but still it would help you a great deal; and really it would make it more interesting to the public." And so you get your drama in that way.
But over against this particular actor who is the tragedian, and who dreads above everything else on earth being laughed at; the one terrible and fatal thing for him is ridicule of any kind - there, side by side, strangely enough, in order to restore that balance which Nature always appears to have in view, there arises the other sort of man, who is born with a tremendous desire to be laughed at, and who will undergo the most extraordinary ignominy, who will paint his nose red, who will allow people to kick him about, who will have the most disastrous falls, if only he can make people laugh.
This is a curious psychological thing. It has prevented me from being a really great author. I have unfortunately this desperate temptation that suddenly comes on me, just when I am really rising to the height of my power that I may become really tragic and great, some absurd joke occurs, and the anti-climax is irresistible. I am reminded that there is a very distinguished actress, who is among you today, who, instead of speaking to me respectfully as Mr Bernard Shaw, in the manner that is befitting to my age and years, always addresses me as Joey, the name of the clown in the pantomime. I cannot deny that I have got the tragedian and I have got the clown in me; and the clown trips me up in the most dreadful way. The English public have said for a long time that I am not serious, because you never know when the red-hot poker will suddenly make its appearance or I shall trip over something or other.
There is another thing. There is the desire that we all have to escape from reality. Now a very great actress, Ellen Terry, once told me of this, when speaking of a play which I had written for her. In writing the play I did the sort of usual thing that an author does. The author, in writing for a particular personality, instead of thinking of gratifying that personality, and enabling her or him to escape for a moment from himself or herself, seizes on the personality and dramatizes it. I did this with Ellen Terry in a play which she played with great success. But she said to me on one occasion: "I wish somebody would write a part for me to act. In this play of yours I have nothing to do but go on the stage and be myself, and the thing is done." There, you see, there came in this curious desire, that she wanted to escape from herself; she wanted to be somebody else for a time.
You get that on the stage, and you also get very interestingly precisely the opposite. You get other sorts of artists whose desire is not to escape from themselves. Their desire is self-intensification. They want to develop and intensify their own personality to a tremendously magnetic and overwhelming extent, and in doing so, pursuing this entirely egotistical aim, they sometimes attain a degree of fascination which is quite extraordinary, and then you see the influence that an actor or actress may have.
The relations which arise between authors and actors owing to this difference, of course, are very interesting, although they ought to be preserved exclusively for behind the scenes, because what the author would like to do is to combine the intensity of the one kind of actor with the curious dramatic imagination of the other kind of actor who wants to be somebody else, wants to change his personality. The extremes are very remarkable. The extreme, for instance is well represented by certain actors who are called characters. I believe that the reason that they go on the stage is an unconquerable shyness. You may think that shyness is about the very last thing that would drive a person on to the stage. You imagine that if a person wants to obscure himself, to be in the background, not to be called forward to say anything, the very last thing they want to do would be to walk on the stage and face the floorlights and all the other lights. And yet, it is the most complete refuge you can possibly imagine. If only you are a character actor, you can go and be somebody else, and never need betray your own personality.
From all this you will see how extraordinarily interesting the theatrical profession is to anybody who is behind the scenes, and perhaps the best way to get behind the scenes is to come to this school and be trained, to take up the profession of an actor. But it requires a great deal of character to hold your own on the stage. The impression who some people have that you require less character to be an actor than to be anything else is a terrible mistake. You must get that out of your heads at all possible costs. The way in which the stage will find out every single weakness that you have got, every slip of self-control that you are subject to, is really very terrifying. Therefore, to come back to the children, whom parents may want to send to this school, they had better send us the pretty strong characters, even if those strong characters, by the way have revealed themselves by kicking over the traces in every possible direction in ordinary domestic life.
Now as I am coming to the end of my case, I may inform you that as I am broadcasting, I may be cut down to the last possible second though my propensity is when I once get on my legs to go on for three or four hours. But that isn't possible on this particular occasion and in five or six minutes there will be an end of me and you will be able to go home and have your tea.
But I want to say again, why, afterall, is it that this curious mad art of ours, this elaborate pretending to be somebody else, this satisfaction of instincts which are entirely irrational and many of them absurd - is it, after all, that it does enjoy royal charter and royal patronage and all the rest of it? And why is it that the public will forgive almost anything to this profession of ours except being bored, and that they are quite right not to be? Well, it is because we really render - the art of the theater, like many other arts - renders very conspicuous public service.
In the old days Aristotle said that tragedy purged the soul with pity and terror and the old definition of comedy was that it chastened morals, chastened manners - because the word expressed both - by ridicule. I have never regarded that as a permanent definition. Ridicule may be rather unkind. I think the worst kind of play is the comedy in which the author sets you laughing at one another. The old-fashioned comedy, to take a simple example, always made fun of old women, simply because they were old. Well, that was abominable and detestable. And so on all through.
As to pity and terror, if people with souls can only be set going right by pity and terror then the sooner the human race comes to an end the better. You cannot pity unless you have misfortunes to pity. That is the reason, by the way, why I do not like philanthropists - because they love suffering of all kinds. They are never happy unless some one else is unhappy, so that they can exercise their philanthropy. I do not want there to be any more pity in the world, because I do not want there to be anything to pity; and I want there to be no more terror because I do not want people to have anything to fear.
But there are other things. You may throw pity and terror on one side, and you can reveal life, and you can stimulate thought about it and you can educate peoples' senses. If you look on that life as it presents itself to you it is an extraordinarily unmeaning thing. It is just as if you took a movie camera and went out into the Strand or Piccadilly and began to turn the handle, and afterward developed your film and then said, "Well, that is life - all those people moving about." Lots of them have tragic histories; some of them have comic histories; some of them are abounding with joy because they are in love, others are going to commit suicide because they have been disappointed in love. It is all very wonderful! But when you look at the film you say, "Well, I don't see anything there but a lot of people running about in a perfectly meaningless way." Now what the drama can do and what it actually does is to take this unmeaning, haphazard show of life, that means nothing to you, and arrange it in such a way as to make you think very deeply about it than you ever dreamed of thinking about such incidents that come to your knowledge. That is drama, and that is a very irtant public service to render.