0881 Comments on Reichstag fire verdict
12/24/33 Bernard Shaw declared today that "one could not have
expected a more apparently fair verdict" in the Reichstag
fire case. "The verdict puts all those who held mock
trials in an extremely silly position," he said in reference to
the unofficial legal commission that studied details of the case and
came to the conclusion that Nazis had a hand in setting the blaze.
"They protested against the verdict before it was passed," he
Several hundred demonstrators who attempted to go to the German Embassy were turned back by mounted and foot police, after which they dispersed quietly.
0880 Presents old suit to actor who represents him in play; actor too tall
12/17/33 Bernard Shaw, desiring that an actor who played him on the stage
should look the part, presented one of his old suits to the producers
of a play here, but the man who portrayed Shaw was several inches too
tall for the clothes.
0879 S on dictators to Fabian Soc; por
12/10/33 Bernard Shaw analyzed the strong points of dictatorships and once again emphasized the weaknesses of a parliamentary system in a recent lecture before the Fabian Society in London. The following article is made up of excerpts from the stenographic report of his lecture, which Mr Shaw called "The Politics of Unpolitical Animals."
"We have discovered that parliament, the central parliament with the party system at work, is an unparalleled invention at preventing anything being done whatever. It has grown up historically as an instrument to prevent a country to be governed, and in that, of course, its an entirely and thoroughly representative institution.
"Not only have you got our parliament extinguishing every effort to get toward socialism, but out of that grew the Parliament of Man at Geneva, the League of Nations. That is supposed to be a democratic institution. When one nation sends its delegation to Geneva the next nation immediately sends another to checkmate that delegation and they are all there to prevent one another from doing anything, the typical being that of disarmament.
do not even pretend that they want to disarm. They in a vague way
say they would like to be able to do it a little cheaper and they go
there and tell one another, "Well, a 16 inch bore is much more
expensive than a 10 inch. Would you mind if I shot you with a
10-inch instead of a 16-inch? Such success as the League and the
disarmament committee have is just based on that.
"The disarmament committee goes on and on because it is the parliamentary ideal. It is a thing as to which we are quite certain that nothing will happen and nothing will be done.
"Then there comes this curious fact, that in this parliamentary world there are springing up here and there a number of gentlemen who want to get something done and who are determined that it shall be done, and who are really beginning to take steps which might result and have resulted to some extent in things being done.
understand the effect of the stroke, you must take a look at the way
Germany was treated after the war. We went - as Hitler has said
perfectly truly - on the assumption that Germany, being defeated,
could be treated as a defeated person, could be kicked vigorously and
continuously, and the assumption was that that was to go on to the
end of the world.
"Now what Hitler grasped was the general fact that the Treaty of Versaille had got to be repudiated; he had to create a feeling against that condition of inferiority and coerciveness and being allowed to do this and not that, and allowed to carry a popgun and not a dagger and so forth; and he was prepared practically to take every child in Germany of 5 years and arm it, and put in the foreground that they must break out of that condition.
"He rallied the whole nation around him and became entirely irresistible. With that national movement carrying him to the top, he might not only have exterminated all the Jews but was quite prepared to go on and exterminate all the Marxists.
"Because he had another bee in has bonnet - he objected to Jews but also Marxists and Social Democrats. I do not know why because they were almost as harmless as the parliamentarians. But then he objected to parliamentarians. He saw clearly enough that if anything was to be done he had to get rid of the parliamentarian's system, too.
have to understand these national movements. If you are ever going
to get a really solid combination, anything like a European state for
instance - not, of course a single state but a European
federation of states - the States out of which that federation is
made up must be solid things in themselves, and that means that each
of them must for itself have achieved socialism and solidified it in
Until you have socialism you will never have State solidity, because, as we know, if you have private property you will immediately split your stake. You get the class conflict, the class struggle, the confrontation of interests between the proprietors and between the proletariat; and, therefore, you have something that is crumbling, that is divided against itself. That is everything that infuriates Hitler, because one of the things he tries is to get a solid Germany.
There is one thing about Hitler that recommended him to me from the very first, and that is his face. What is the predominating expression of that face? It is an expression of intense resentment.
That is the expression that every statesman in the world should have at the present time, more particularly a statesman who knows what it is to have been a poor man and knows the real state of things in Europe.
the first place, I think Hitler is the victim of a bad biology and of
a bogus ethnology. He seems to believe in the division of mankind
into an Aryan race and a Latin race. That is all nonsense; we are an
extremely mixed lot. He wants to get a pure-bred German race. He
wants Germans to go on breeding in and in and in and becoming more
and more German.
I think that is bad biology because I believe in cross fertilization. I think the evidence is irresistible that unless a stock is crossed, and that pretty frequently, the stock degenerates. Look at the English stock. It is a very mixed stock and wherever theres a mixture so much the better the result generally.
But we have in our older hereditary classes the people who have kept themselves English - the aristocracy. What is the result? The result is that you get a type of Englishman who's very attractive. I do not know anything that is handsomer than the really good looking young Englishman. He is very pleasant to meet. He is skilled often in all sorts of sport and he has a very nice profile. He has the beauty of a Borzoi dog. Though the Borzoi dog is an irresistibly attractive-looking dog, he has absolutely no brains, just enough brains to feed himself. That is the kind of Englishman that we get from inbreeding.
That is the kind of thing I want to knock out of Hitler. What Hitler should have done was not to drive the Jews out, what he ought to have said was, "I will tolerate the Jews to any extent on condition that no Jew marries a Jewess, on condition that he marries a German.
say, "Hear, hear!" More power to your elbow." That
is precisely what the Fabian Society wants to have done, because it
is clearly a necessary part of socialism. No matter what you call
it, you must have your various branches of industry and public
activity. They must have certain managing bodies, and the
combination of those bodies will have the effect of government
of the country.
I do not know whether Signor Mussolini really believes that he can get through to his ideal without socialism. I know he cannot. He may form his impressions, but those impressions will have no real power whatever unless every corporation owns the means of production which it is supposed to be supervise.
If, for instance, you get a corporation and you set out to organize any industry you like, the bakery industry, or the coal industry, or the iron industry; if there are private landlords who own the mines, who own the lands on which these industries are carried on, those corporations will be able to do nothing except organize the thing for the benefit of those private proprietors who will finally take everything that they produce except the bare subsistence of the people who are doing it.
He cannot get out of that. Although we are all in favor of a corporate State, nevertheless it will not really be a corporate state until the corporations own the land on which they are working - until the Italians own Italy in fact.
0878 Gratified that J Barrymore has lead in Devil's Disciple
film interests have allowed Hollywood to get the better of them, in
the obtaining by RKO Radio Pictures of the rights to produce a movie
of his play, The Devil's Disciple, George Bernard Shaw declared here
"I never go about offering my plays," Mr Shaw said. "They are there if anybody wants them. Hollywood had the intelligence to want The Devil's Disciple. I am very pleased that John Barrymore is to play the lead."
Mr Shaw added that he had no intention of going to California to assist in the production, unless an additional fee were offered him. He suggested that £20,000 [about $104,000 at current rates of exchange] might be an inducement.
"Money is useful, even to an old man like me, in his seventy-eighth year," he remarked. "I never objected to film producers tackling my plays. On the contrary, I like them to, for I need the money. What I always objected to was the way they wanted to film them."
0877 Produced in London
Bernard Shaw's new play On The Rocks, was performed tonight at the
Winter Garden Theater. It was a continuous scene in the Cabinet room
at 10 Downing Street.
The play, considered as a political pamphlet, is in direct succession to Mr Shaw's criticism of democracy in The Apple Cart. Through the mouths of the Prime Minister and an old revolutionary Alderman, who is the liveliest character in the play, he appears definitely to accept the principle of dictatorship as the only bridge from the old world to the new.
He is not unaware of the cruelties and injustices that would spring from such a regime and is not prepared to stake his all on it in the despair of a gambler whose lifelong theories have failed him. Mr Shaw's renunciation of Fabianism, or evolutionary socialism, appears to be complete, but his new constructive program is thrown at the audience in a few swift headlines and we must presumably wait for another play to see it developed or retracted.
The present piece, which lasts for more than three hours, is occupied by familiar attacks on politicians and talkers, varied by domestic interludes, fortunately brief. The dialogue, though lightened by passages of shrewdness and wit, is mainly rhetorical and the play produces an impression of neither sweet reasonableness nor of deeprooted passion, but a vigorous, challenging stream of improvised, street-corner oratory. Its substance is the old cry "Do something!" with added request to do it violently and at once.
Mr Shaw clearly is in haste; the nature of his revolutionary philosophy is not yet fully discussed, but the present play has the advantage that, being in essence a political pamphlet, it holds firmly to politics and is almost innocent of Shavian excursions into romantic farce.
The Prime Minister, growing younger and more active as the play grows older, is represented with unflagging energy by Nicholas Hannen. There are keen sharp sketches of the Commissioner of Police by Walter Hudd and the Alderman by George E Bancroft. Ellen Pollock is the most passionately rhetorical of women and Charles Carson amusingly expresses Mr Shaw's idea of a Conservative Old Guard. But the play gives little opportunity for personal subtlety in its actors. Chiefly it is a matter of a good memory and loud voice and agility in leaping onto the Shavian tub.
0876 Russia gives first production of new play, On the Rocks
Teatr Polski in Warsaw, directed by Dr Arnold Szyfman, has again been
chosen by George Bernard Shaw for the first production of his new
play, On the Rocks. Four years ago The Apple Cart had its world
premiere here. On the Rocks, a political fantasy in two acts, has
been translated into Polish by Florjan Sobieniowski, the translator
of other Shaw plays.
The Cabinet room at 10 Downing Street is the scene of the play and the Prime Minister, Sir Arthur Chavender, is the chief character. He is an old Parliamentarian, a member of Parliament of thirty years' standing.
workmen's delegation enters. Sir Arthur learns of the people's
misery and sufferings. They want nothing but relief, and they
ask the Prime Minister for help. They cannot understand that this is
beyond his powers. They are bewildered when he, the Prime Minister
asks them how to help them.
Hipney, an old workman, tells them that the Prime Minster and his government are really ignorant and that no relief can be expected from them.
Poor Sir Arthur complains to his clever wife, who does a lot of thinking and knows her man well. He is advised to take a vacation, and he decides to spend it reading Marx, Lenin, Stalin and other teachings tending to revolutionize the masses. He wants to be acquainted with the dangerous doctrines in order to be better equipped in the war against them. The first act ends.
Back he comes and makes a sensational speech outlining his great new program of social and economic reforms. Act 2 opens with the Ministers rushing in, indignant, stupefied and horrified at what they have learned from the newspapers about their chief's speech. The headlines speak for themselves - nationalization of royalties and rents, transport and mining, banks and key industries, and the prohibition of private foreign trade.
Duke of Domesday threatens to move 50,000 "Union Jack Shirts"
against the government. Hipney warns against dictatorship, saying
that it has no conscience and the only thing standing between
dissatisfaction and revolution is the rulers' conscience.
The Prime Minister decides that Hipney is right. Sir Arthur is no a man of action - he is a talker. He resigns and his wife writes his letter of resignation to the King, while crowds gather outside in Downing Street. Then the crowd attacks the Colonial Office, thinking it the Prime Minister's house. The police push the mob out into the Horse Guard parade, where another procession has formed and is singing "England, Arise." The Prime Minister listens with mixed feelings of doubt and hope, and the play ends with the words "I suppose England does arise."
On the Rocks has less of criticism and attack than other recent Shaw plays. The dramatist seems full of anxiety. His tone is fatherly. He pleads and warns instead of merely making fun of things.
0875 Praises Hitler, in annual Fabian Soc lecture
calling himself a good Socialist and a democrat, George Bernard Shaw
sang praises of Chancellor Hitler and dictators generally in the
annual Fabian lecture tonight. He aroused loud laughter when he said
Herr Hitler's face was a clue to his greatness. But he ignored the
laughs and tried to convince his Socialist audience with all the
seriousness of a lay preacher in his voice and gestures.
"The permanent expression of that face of Hitler is intense resentment," he declared. "That is an expression every statesman ought to have. Our own statesmen look too pleased, too comfortable, too courteous in surroundings that should make them boil with rage." Describing Chancellor Hitler as "a very remarkable, very able man," Mr Shaw said he had the genius to realize "Germany had been kicked long enough."
"Wouldn't you all be Nazi in England," he asked, "if you were in the same place, if a vicious treaty had been imposed on you by foreign powers and if you had been told you could not carry a dagger but you would be allowed to carry a popgun?" Chancellor Hitler's greatest failing, according to Mr Shaw, is his "bad biology and bogus ethnology," in not realizing the dangers of an inbred race and the advantages of mass (sic) fertilization.
"Instead of exterminating the Jews," Mr Shaw continued, "he should have said, 'I will tolerate Jews to any extent as long as no Jew marries a Jewess.' That is how he could build up a strong, solid German people."
0874 Opposes sterilization of the unfit
10/23/33 GBS said today that if there had been sterilization of the unfit a few generations ago "I should not at present be in existence." He was commenting on a sermon preached to the Liverpool cathedral today by Bishop Barnes of Birmingham who advocated sterilization as a "religious duty." Mr Shaw asserted that the Bishop was proposing a "kind of censorship to prevent people from coming into the world because you think they may be mischievous when they get here. Better let people come into the world," the dramatist said, "and see what a mess they make of it. The governments of states should let people be born and allow them to live until they prove themselves unfit to continue living and then do away with them as nicely , kindly and in the most painless way possible.
0873 Defends Hitler
(October 17, 1933 from The Daily Dispatch)
Bernard Shaw's latest pronouncement on the international situation
is, "Hitler is perfectly right." The dramatist said this
in a speech as guest of honor at a tea party this afternoon to
celebrate the publication of Professor S O Conroy's 'Menace of
Japan," which deals with the intensely patriotic cult known
as 'Kodo' in that country.
"This Kodo isn't exclusively Japanese," said Mr Shaw. "Hitler is Kodoan where Germany is concerned. The whole secret of Hitler is this: "Looking back on the Treaty of Versailles he found the other nations were plundering Germany. He discovered there was an absolute determination among the Germans to put an end to it."
0872 Scores World Com for Relief of the Victims of German Fascism for interference in trial of Reds accused of firing Reichstag
Shaw today explained why he sent a "peppery" postcard to
the World Committee for Relief of the Victims of German Fascism,
stating that they had no right to interfere in the Leipzig trial of
several Communists accused of setting fire to the Reichstag Building,
as the prisoners were not British.
"It is a thing I am continually doing," was Mr Shaw's comment today. "It occurred once or twice while I was in America.
"People here get into a state of political agitation and take up the case of some prisoner or other accused by a foreign government without the slightest consideration for the fact that they are damaging the unfortunate prisoner.
"Take the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. Any chance they had of not being electrocuted was cut off by foreign agitation denouncing American justice and that kind of thing.
"A man named Mooney has been many years in prison in America, and I dare say he would have been let out long ago, had not he been used as a stick to beat the American Government with.
"Take the case again of the engineers in Russia. Our agitation was ridiculous. We had no right to do it. Yet the people who took that viewpoint most strongly are doing the very same thing in the case of these unfortunate Leipzig prisoners.
"If we had anything to say, we should wait until they have had a trial. Continually using these unfortunate prisoners abroad as a stick with which to beat government seems cruel and inconsiderate, and I said so without reserve in my postcard."
0871 Tries experiment in lower prices for new play, On the Rocks
Bernard Shaw has often said that the hope of the English stage lies
in lower prices; no seats should cost more than 5s - say $1.25 - he
asserts. Lower prices and larger theaters are his prescription
for the stage in its fight against the films.
GBS has been criticized in the past for seemingly having failed to practice what he preaches, but hitherto the managers have fixed the prices charged for admission to his plays.
Mr Shaw's sincerity can no longer be questioned, however, for it appears that he promised his next play to the manager who would take a big London theater and cut down regular prices by 50 per cent. An intrepid impresario (Charles Macdona) has. Mr Shaw announces, risen to the occasion, and thus has secured GBS's new play, provisionally entitled On the Rocks.
The play is serious and very long, even as Shaw reckons length, and deals with English politics. It was begun while the author was on his recent world cruise. It will not be ready for production until the Autumn, for, although the dialogue is finished, the working out of the stage business, which, Mr Shaw remarks, is always with him a "separate operation and a very troublesome one," has still to be done.
0870 Lr on charge that N Y Times rept of his s before Amer Acad of Pol Sci, in N Y C, was inaccurate
characteristic Iaconsim, George Bernard Shaw informs me in a recent
letter that The New York Times report of his speech before the
American Academy of Political Science, "is quite useless as it
stands," inferring that he had been quoted inaccurately by
a paper proud of its high journalistic standards.
'Yet, according to The New York Times of April 13, Shaw is reported to have murmured sadly shortly before sailing, "Some of it (the speech) was very bad; I'm afraid I bungled a great deal of it."
'It is all somewhat perplexing. Did The New York Times quote the Old Man inaccurately on both occasions? Did your reporter squeeze out from Shaw the aforementioned statement of April 13 in order to shift the responsibility for the numerous errors on to Shaw's own shoulders? Or did Mr Shaw really bungle his speech and regret it later on?
In his speech before the Academy of Political Science, Shaw significantly and appropriately stated that the chief purpose of the American press is to conceal the truth. The exaggeration is only slight; the emphasis is too great. That one of the chief purposes of the American press is to conceal or deliberately ignore certain harsh truths I would hardly deny.
My good friend Dean Carl W Ackerman of the Pulitzer School of Journalism frantically but not profoundly took issue with Shaw on this point by calling Shaw naughty names and calling upon the fourth estate to 'nail his [Shaw's, of course] lies.' Needless to say, the American press has not nailed Shaw 'lies' - just as it has not cleared itself from the numerous charges in Upton Sinclair's Brass Check, even after Sinclair dared any paper to sue him for libel.
Mr Shaw tells me that a corrected report of his speech before the Academy of Political Science is to appear in the July issue of The British Political Quarterly. The speech will also be published in toto in my forthcoming book containing all of Shaw's speeches, plays, articles, interviews, &c., in which he expressed himself about the United States and things American.
"The difficulty," Shaw advises me, "will be to present what I have written about America in its just balance with what I have said about England and other nations. Taken by itself it would confirm all the worst resentments of the 100 per cent Americans
M B Schnapper
0869 Obtains seats at Malvern festival through unusual message to mgr
7/16/33 A new Shaw story is told by the actor Ralph Richardson. At the opening of the Malvern Festival, at which he appeared, Mr Shaw had reserved some seats. Later, Mr Shaw wanted to come, but owing to heavy booking could not at first get seats next to his wife's. On hearing this, Shaw wired to the manager: "Those whom God hath joined together let no manager put asunder." He got his seats.
0868 Pronunciation defended by S K Ratcliffe
has changed the art of public speaking in the past decade. The old
approved style of platform oratory in vogue at the opening of the
century and later has given way to a more intimate,
conversational manner of delivery and the microphone has played an
important part in this new fashion in speech, although former
governor Alfred E Smith and George Bernard Shaw are two who remain in
the extemporaneous category.
"Broadcasting has caused the speaker to exercise the greatest care in preparing his speech, resulting in a more finished product," said S K Ratcliffe, who recently visited this country as correspondent for The Spectator in London to report the administrative acts and policies of the Roosevelt administration. "When reading from a script the speaker is less inclined to orate and the effect is conversational and informal.
"Of all the speakers I have heard during my visit to America, it seems to me that President Roosevelt best exemplifies this new note of informality. I was most favorably impressed with the warm cordiality, straightforwardness and direct appeal that marked his analysis of the financial situation following the bank moratorium. The President's talk was not only convincing, but his voice was conversational and cordial.
"Political speech-making on the radio in England is limited by the British Broadcasting Corporation, which comes under governmental supervision. The Prime Minister may speak on the air at any time he wishes and the members of the Cabinet are never refused a hearing, but political campaigning is restricted, not only regarding the number of speakers representing one party but as to the time allotted the speakers. The ether is always open, however, for talks on social ethics, religious talks and kindred subjects.
Bernard Shaw's peculiarities of speech, which attracted attention
during his recent visit to New York, are defended by Mr Ratcliffe.
"It is an ironic and amusing circumstance," said Mr Ratcliffe, "that the most famous and challenging writer and controversialist of his time should, in his old age, break into New York for a day, address a vast American radio audience and then sail away for England, having caused more eager debate among the American people by his manner of speaking the English language than by the provocative things he said in the course of his speech.
"The forms that he used are those accepted by all educated English people. Any other would sound wrong in England. We lengthen the e in evolution. All of our scientists do this.
"We say financier with the accent on the second syllable. Finanseer is never heard in England, and would hardly be recognized by an English audience. We say clark, not clerk. In scores of instances America has kept to the older pronunciation of common English words. English as spoken in America is often nearer to the speech brought over by the early settlers than ours is. Clark (clerk) is one of the few words in which we have kept in the older sound.
Ratcliffe deplored the so-called "Oxford" English and
surprisingly declared that it is not Oxford. He describes it as a
"peculiar, affected style - far too general among English public
men, preachers and university professors."
"It is not at all peculiar to Oxford University," Mr Ratcliffe said. "It comes from all the special and privileged schools, and it has been a decided possession of the Church of England clergy. More recently it has spread to the theater and has encouraged the habit of indistinct stage speech, against which there is now a strong outcry in England. Bernard Shaw is entirely free from all taint of that kind of English utterance and he has the utmost contempt for it."
0867 C W Ackerman scores charge that newspapers conceal truth, made in s
Carl W Ackerman of The Columbia University School of Journalism, in
addressing the Society of Newspaper Editors, declared today the
George Bernard Shaw uttered a "deliberate lie" regarding
the press on his recent visit to this country.
The statement to which he took exception was the Irish author's quoted charge that "in all civilized countries at present newspapers exist for the purpose of concealing the truth."
"If all men and women were intelligent and knew how to draw a distinction between Shaw the dramatist and Shaw the publicist, it would not be necessary for us to mention this indictment," said Dean Ackerman. "But there are too many Americans who believe the rumors they hear rather than the news they read, and these people believe Shaw. I think we should nail his lies, or the lies of any other critic, especially when the are malicious or deliberate."
He said the Shaw charge was one of nineteen which have been directed at the press "by intelligent men and women," Some, he added, warrant consideration, while others should be "nailed to the mast." Among the charges he included that newspaper standards are determined by circulation, that the press gives the public what it wants, rather than what the public needs, that the newspaper violates the individual right of privacy, that financial news is promotional rather than informative, that news and photographs are sometimes deliberately falsified, that the press overemphasizes irrational statements of public officials, particularly members of Congress.
"These are serious charges," Dean Ackerman said. "If all of them or any portion of them could be applied honestly to a majority of the 2,000 daily newspapers, this would be an indictment of the press which would shake the foundations of the institution we represent. Fortunately for us and for the nation, there is an element of truth in each criticism only when applied to a few specific newspapers. They cannot be applied either honestly or fairly to the press as a whole."
0866 Lr on mirth while watching Commons
Shaw's "political harangue" at the Metropolitan Opera House
recently carried me back twenty-six years to the House of Commons and
the politics of London in 1907.
Guest of an M P standing for 30,000 doughty Englishmen of Sussex, I was fortunately in a front seat in the 'ladies' cage.' Cage was the just word, for, my host leaving me to join the fray, I was immediately warned by an usher to 'keep very still and not rustle you program' - under penalty of being cast out. The week before, a pair of suffragettes had bid for publicity be shredding their programs and, through the inch-wide meshes of the ladies' gallery, depositing them as confetti on the bald heads in the pit below such shreds, that is, as were left over from fat 'spit-balls' accurately, if playfully, aimed at these same shiny targets.
Beside me sat Princess Henry of Battenburg, brave in the ritual Spring hat of all Guelphs, still as distinctive the world over as the Hapsburg lip. Princess Henry made me exceedingly apprehensive by fidgeting with her program and rhythmically dropping it for me to pick up. At length I must have frowned at it. For at length in the sweetest of English voices she charmingly explained: 'I dropped my program, you know, so as to start a little chat with. American girls are so resourceful."
Down below us in the pit Campbell-Bannerman graciously fumed and thumped away at his pet theme, abolition of the House of Lords (even four years of Armageddon failed to abolish the Lords). Joseph Chamberlain hammered wedges into his favorite obsession, world-wide free trade. And the bored Irishmen, abetted by John Burns, sprawled insolently, their feet crossed on the tops of the chair backs in front of them, and yawned or booed or nonchalantly stroked their flaming red four-in-hands, conspicuous as flags.
Suddenly a little bell rang in my brain. A thrill passed around the somber old chambers as if switched on by a powerful button. And over there opposite the ladies' cage into the men's gallery ambled a pair of stringbeans Mark Twain and Bernard Shaw.
Both gaunt frames elegantly togged in white flannels, both ascetic faces set in a bush of floppy white hair, only then Shaw's was still streaked with enough red to look washed-out sandy. And there in the front row they lolled - sentient, alert, sublime as gods. As the drone of inanities from the pit below wafted up to them they too began to fidget. First they nudged each other. Next they chuckled. Then their pallid faces flushed. Presently, like toy balloons, their cheeks puffed out with tight-lipped laughter. And then they exploded and sat there quaking with uncontrollable, silent merriment.
A lot of water has gurgled under the bridge since 1907. But beneath Shaw's commanding flow of language the other night I got the undertone of puckish laughter - fun poked at us by a whimsical, crude white-haired god.
4/21/33 Well, Bernard Shaw is back in England and begs to report that wherever he went in the course of his trip around the world he found the civilized people unhappy and anxious and the uncivilized people happy and carefree. Almost two centuries before him, J J Rousseau, without making a round-the-world trip, arrived at the same conclusion about the "natural" man and the other kind. But Rousseau did not go on to say that the only way for the nations to save themselves is to imitate Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy. Does Shaw mean that Stalin and Mussolini are making their people happy and carefree by abolishing civilization within their boundaries? And why should the people in the United States, Great Britain and France be unhappy if they are in the grip of a thoroughly uncivilized system, as Mr Shaw has so often pointed out?
0864 Completes world tour; finds only uncivilized people happy
4/20/33 As a sort off anticlimax to publicity GBS received abroad the London Times in its smallest type prints today the following paragraph without a headline: Mr GBS returned to England yesterday on the Empress of Britain after a voyage around the world to one interviewer. He said his conclusion for the tour was that "civilized people are unhappy anxious while uncivilized people are happy carefree." His comments on reports generally was: "Every statement about me is inaccurate."
0863 Excerpt from lr applying L Carroll's Jabberwock to him
4/16/33 Why ask Mr Shaw to write a play about himself? Carroll wrote it years ago - "The Jabberwock - with eyes of flames came whiffling through the bulgy wood and burbled as it came."
A von Wonderland
D J Hayes
0862 Excerpt from letter on his attitude towards U.S.
the Editor of The New York Times: Of course the transcription of
Mr Shaw's address had to be done in a hurry. In the edition I saw,
however, an error was made which completely destroyed the point of
the remarks at one point. I heard the address by radio. In
discussing the 100 per cent American, Mr Shaw did not say that "he
was an abominating sort of man," but that he was a "bombinating"
sort of man. Webster says bombinate means "to hum or to boom,"
as something empty, which makes sense.
John W Laird
0861 Lr scoring reference to "Uncle Jonathan," in s
the scolding by our visiting brilliant schoolmaster, Bernard Shaw, he
displayed either a lapse of memory or a lack of knowledge of
the identity of 'Brother Jonathan' and Uncle Sam. 'Brother
Jonathan,' the predecessor of Uncle Sam, represented the American
people. Uncle Sam represents the American Government. There
never was an 'Uncle Jonathan' - see all old American cartoons, also
all old English cartoons, on this subject, both of which represented
the American people as Brother Jonathan, the English people as John
Bull and the British Empire as Britannia.
A Member of the Society Illustrators.
Shaw has sailed away, depressed at the thought that he "bungled"
his Metropolitan Opera House speech. If this was truly the case, it
was not because of lack of preparation. People might be inclined to
think so who saw him speak an hour and forty minutes with only an
occasional glance at his notes. But if Mr Shaw's only public address
in this country missed fire, it was because of excessive preparation.
He had been preparing for more than a quarter of a century.
The grooming process for an American debut began soon after the Arnold Daly production of Candida, which made Shaw; made him before he had any important audience in his own country. Thereupon began that sustained iteration of notice to all whom it may concern that Mr Shaw could not conceivably ever visit the United States. He made the announcement in dramatic vein and in burlesque vein, standing on his dignity and standing on his head, but the substance was always the same: America and Bernard Shaw were not destined to meet.
Too much winding up in the pitcher's box, too many false starts at the barrier, too much shivering on the beach. What could Mr Shaw's twenty-four hours in New York, after more than twenty-four years of preparation, turn out to be but an anti-climax?
0859 Shaw, Sailing, Fears He Bungled Speech; ' Some of It Was Very Bad,' He Tells Admirer Sadly, but Mood Passes Quickly. ENJOYS PRESS INTERVIEW Turns It Into Display of Wit, Declares Best Thing About New York Is Leaving It. STAGE-MANAGES PHOTOS First Knocks Over Microphones, Then Puts on a Movie Act That Ends With a Wide Yawn.
To Henry George's daughter: "Some of it was very bad; I'm
afraid I bungled a great deal of it." And walked
The camera men took over and explained they wanted a news reel for the sound pictures. "You can have only silent pictures. My silence is extremely impressive. I'm not going to spoil it by idiotic remarks. What would you like me to do recite Mary Had A Little Lamb?"
Cameramen behind nine cameras replied in unison "yes." Shaw glared at them. The picture executives who proposed to manage the scene hurried to engage him in a conversation about his actions before the lenses. It was recorded by the microphones before Shaw discovered that they were working and calmly tipt them over. When the stage was to his satisfaction he took Mr Archi bald Henderson outside for a rehearsal and then returned alone to sit down apparently absorbed in a newspaper. Henderson entered and tip-toed up to Shaw. He tapt Shaw on the shoulder like a man plucking a delicate plant. Shaw looked up registered surprise, modulated swiftly to pleasure and rose with a delighted smile to shake hands. The cameramen demanded another pose. "Get ready!" "Go" raising his hand slowly to his face he executed a deliberate monstrous yawn. Then he walked off, grinning. He was apparently himself again.
0859 Engineer who aided Russia, to whom he referred in s, is identified as C E Stuart
0858 Ed on s
Bernard Shaw really ought to write a play about himself. No pen but
his could supply the ironic wit properly to depict his address in the
Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday evening. It seems to be a
subject after his own heart. Did he not in John Bull's Other
Island give us a character something like his own - a man discoursing
ignorantly but with amazing confidence and cocksureness about
everything in the heavens above and the earth beneath? With what
force and piquancy Mr Shaw could set forth in theatrical form his own
extraordinary misreading of American history, his invention, all his
own, of "Uncle Jonathan" - a figure of caricature known
only to himself - together with his childlike conceptions of banking
and the hopeless tangle into which he got himself when talking about
exports and imports! Then he could get a lot of fun out of the
surprise and even amazement of his hearers. They went expecting
to enjoy a series of sparking eipgrams, mixed up with insults,
but instead got a long and tedious political harangue, worthy of
a dryasdust professor. Mr Shaw ought to find a playwright's
delight in chuckling over the way in which he fooled his audience.
He could also in his imagined playlet introduce interruptions and dialogue. After his praise of the paradise on earth which Russian has become, he might introduce a conversation with two American ladies who recently traveled 20,000 miles within that land of the blest. It might run on in this fashion:
Shaw - I suppose you went with the usual violent prejudices against
The Ladies - On the contrary, we are ourselves Socialists and were inclined to sympathize with Russian communism.
Mr Shaw - Well, what changed your minds about all that?
The Ladies - The fact that we found so many peasants and villagers oppressed and starving.
Mr Shaw - I have heard that stuff before, but what did the people actually say?
The Ladies - They said that next to Stalin they hated Bernard Shaw for having assured the world that the Russians are perfectly happy. (Curtain)
No one denies that Mr Shaw gave a wonderful exhibition at the Metropolitan. It was a remarkable intellectual feat for one of his years to make so long a speech with such personal ease and masterful command of words. But we still think that only he could hold the mirror up to the actual scene in all its comic possibilities, by setting it forth in his inimitable and wicked dramatic style.
0857 Tours City but dodges press
4/12/33 Bernard Shaw asked the captain of the Empress of Britain to protect
him from the press on his arrival in New York yesterday, and the
captain took him seriously. For almost two hours, Shaw remained
under guard until the ship's master of arms, in attempting to move a
group of photographers and reporters from a passageway outside the
Shaw door, said loudly: "Nobody is going the worry Mr Shaw."
Immediately afterward, Shaw sent out his devoted American biographer, Archibald Henderson, to announce that he had consented to be photographed.
To reporters he explained that he was pledged to say nothing before his speech last night at the Metropolitan Opera House, but would tell them before he sailed this morning what he thought of New York, for which he had publicly declared his disdain in every possible interview since his Mrs Warren's Profession was suppressed here by the police in 1905.
He also will have occasion to deal with the suspicion, which has gathered on the ship, that he became a tourist with Mrs Shaw on the cruise of the Empress of Britain and traveled 28,000 miles, the long way around the world, for the sake of bridging the 2,800 miles between London and New York without admitting that he had been wrong for nearly thirty years in saying he never could be induced to visit America. There is no record that he ever has admitted being wrong.
While his biographer, Dr Henderson, explained that Shaw's personality was understood only slightly by other Americans, and added that he could be depended on to leave the ship only to deliver his lecture because "he is not interested in the city," Mr Shaw slipped ashore and went sightseeing.
In a rented automobile Mr and Mrs Shaw spent two hours shortly after noon in a trip that took them up Fifth Avenue, through Central Park, to Riverside Drive, to the George Washington Bridge and back down the Jersey side to the Holland Tunnel and through to New York and luncheon. They also visited Shaw's publisher, Dodd, Mead & Co., and the Theater Guild, which has presented fourteen of his plays in America, four of them for their world premieres.
Shaw craned his neck like any tourist to look at the Empire State Building until he almost fell out of the automobile, and he turned around to look over his shoulder at it so long that he rode backward through the spectacle of one of the great crossroads of the world at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street.
During the return trip on the Jersey side he kept his eyes on the New York skyline, which he had not seen on the way up the bay because the cabin in which he was being protected from the press opened on the Jersey side. Detailed impressions were reserved.
was learned on the ship that Mr and Mrs Shaw apparently had attached
great importance to this visit to the city that was responsible for
no small part of Shaw's initial fame and fortune. On the seaway from
San Franciso Mrs Shaw, whose hobby has been the collection of all
clippings relating to her husband, whom she call "the master," found little comfort in the frequency with which the
American press recalled the interviews of so many years in which Shaw
often called Americans in general and New Yorkers in particular
provincials, barbarians and idiots.
Shaw himself, in deciding not to deal with the press until after his lecture, explained that he "did not want to take on Tunney in the afternoon and Dempsey in the evening."
When Mr Shaw was notified that the press was waiting on him yesterday morning while he was at breakfast, he wrote the following note and sent it out:
"The New York press may return to its firesides and nurse the baby until tomorrow morning, except the enterprising section which came on board at Havana and discussed everything with me for one hour and forty minutes. Today I am in training for the Metropolitan Opera House tonight, and may be regarded as deaf and dumb for the moment. With regrets and apologies, G. B. S.
was revealed also that his visit had been under discussion for some
time. Lady Astor, who is a close friend and a fellow Christian
Scientist with Mrs Shaw, arranged it with Alanson B Houghton, former
Ambassador to the Court of St James and now president of the Academy
of Political Science, sponsor of the lecture. Shaw undertook to
appear without recompense, according to Mr Henderson. The
academy was to retain the proceeds of his appearance.
Mr Henderson made an effort to denature the resentment stirred up by Shaw's past observations by explaining that "Mr Shaw regards the United States as the most horrible example of the capitalistic system, which he abhors, and it is the capitalistic system of America which he is constantly insulting and attacking, and not the people of America."
It was announced, however, that arrangements had been made for Mr and Mrs Shaw to be driven from the ship to the Opera House after dinner by Thomas W Lamont, partner of the firm of J P Morgan & Co.
this way, look into the camera," the photographers shouted.
"I never look into a camera," said Shaw severely.
"Wave you hand as if you were glad to be in New York," a camera man suggested.
"Certainly not," said Mr Shaw.
he decided enough still-life pictures had been taken, he undertook
the stage direction of his motion picture appearances.
Meanwhile more still camera men had heard that Shaw had emerged and they were streaming to the scene. From between the knees of motion-picture operators, from the tops of ventilators and deck houses, and hanging on boat davits, they snapped shots of Shaw from all angles.
said Shaw. "Wait, wait. I don't want stills taken like that."
"Look up here, Mr Shaw," said a mocking voice directly overhead. Shaw craned his neck backward in surprise, and was looking up open-mouthed at a camera man who had crawled along an awning boom directly over the scene. The shutter clicked and the Shaw expression in that position may have been recorded forever.
"Oh, that's rotten." said Shaw in distress, turning to the sound cameras. "They won't help us."
He was confronted by a still camera man who urged him to stand a moment because color photography took longer.
"Damn color photography!" Shaw exclaimed and took the man by the shoulders and shook him backward and forward three times looking into his face quizzically, as if he really were trying to find out how an American camera man reacted when rocked.
4/12/33 Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Finding myself in an opera house (the Met) with such a magnificent and responsive audience, I feel an irresistible temptation to sing.
But I am afraid my unfortunate age precludes any performance of that kind.
I drag in the subject of my age because it really has something to do with what I am going to say tonight. I am of course perfectly aware that all old men, like myself, they all endeavor to insist on the public decay of their intellect and all other senile short comings as being politic, as being something that gives them authority.
Don't you believe them ladies and gentlemen. It does not give them any authority except on one subject - the advantage that I have over the majority of my audience is that I have actually seen about three generations of human beings.
I have not only been born into a world of what seemed to me to be very grown up and middle-aged and old people, but in the course of time I have grown up myself. I have carried infants in my arms. I have seen those infants grow up and have infants of their own and become elderly or middle-aged and finally die; and therefore I can go back many generations of people you don't remember.
I can remember the sort of person that an American was, say, in the year 1860. I was already old enough to read the newspapers and to see the invariable heading "The Civil war in America."
Now I have not been very long in the United States, but I have not seen a single individual who bears the remotest resemblance to Uncle Jonathan.
Uncle Jonathan is dead; he is gone; he has vanished. But in those days Uncle Jonathan really did exist, and the American of those days, now that they are dead, I may speak my line about them.
They were not really Americans at all; they were emigrants; they were provincials, they were people bringing the habits of an old civilization; all the bad habits as well as the good ones. They were dragging them to this country and they were setting up as a nation with a very uneasy self-consciousness which made them ridiculously sensitive to any remark that was made by a foreigner about the American nation.
Even to this day it is easier for me to get a rise out of an American by telling him something about himself which is equally true about every human being on the face of the globe, but which he feels to be a disparagement, and an assertion on my part that people on other parts of the globe are not like that but are something superior.
That, however, is passable, and this provinciality, this character of being not a real, genuine American but an emigrant from another country; this man who had nothing really distinctively American about him; this man who had the sort of education which a Christian missionary or minister gives to a Negro child; and had all the culture corresponding to that, this was the American of that day.
Now that American, as I say, doesn't exist today. As the nation went on developing in the direction of a nation, it was still for a long time trying to do the things that Europe was doing and doing them very badly, I may remark, although generally very expensively. There came a change. There emerged a sort of American who is extraordinarily unlike Uncle Jonathan. To begin with, he was considerably fatter, but was something which it is very hard for me to describe.
He was a colossal person; he was an extremely dignified person; he was a person that when you met him, you felt here was a man of great importance, or even commanding importance; a man who had something in him, but you could never get that something out of him. He was a tremendous talker, a man of magnificent periods and splendid perorations, an orator who shouted at meetings and especially at dinner tables at great length, but he never said anything. He orated, and he was fond of quoting old scraps of oratory, and being, apparently, rather proud of them.
We said, what is the secret of this tremendous and monumental man, this man who talks so splendidly and has nothing to say? This man who is saying is really a live mind; his life is, nevertheless, apparently empty, because he doesn't seem to know anything of particular consequence. He is always getting into a tremendous state of excitement about entirely trivial things.
I was very much tempted to mention one particular American who belongs to a past period, but, on the whole, I think I wont. Because I think all of you will be able - those of you, at any rate, who are getting on a little in life, you will be able to put a name to that particular American. You will say, O, yes, this is so-and-so or, Senator so-and-so or, Congressman so-and-so, very often an unattached monument, if I may so put it.
Now, what was wrong with this particular man was that he had no intellectual bearings. He had no modern theory of society at all. If I may borrow an expression from my friend Professor Archibald Henderson, and the mathematician, he had no frame of reference. I don't know if you know what that means. I hardly know myself. I can only put it that he had no scientific postulant of any kind.
He was in the air, consequently you will get nothing out of him but wind and you got a tremendous amount of that. This man, however, emerged, and at last, he began to get a name and became known as the 100% American. And there was this about him, that he was a unique phenomenon. There was nothing else in the world at all like him.
I have travelled a good deal but I never saw in any country anything like this 100% American.
Now, to put it shortly, what was wrong with him was as a politician, and it was as a politician, of course, that he came to England and to the other countries. What was wrong with him was that he had no political Constitution to which he could refer his ideals.
Of course, if you told him that it is inconceivable to imagine that sort of man fainting, but he would have come as near fainting as possible. He would have said: "What, no political Constitution? No such thing as a Constitution in America? Are you mad?" He would say, "America has the Constitution par excellence. America is always talking about its Constitution."
To which an Englishman, if he would say: "America is always talking about its Constitution and it is always also amending its Constitution, which looks as if it were not such a fine and infallible thing as you seem to suppose.
The ordinary man, we have got to face it; it is just as true of the ordnary Englishman as it is the ordinary American - the ordinary man is an anarchist. He wants to do as he likes. He may want his neighbor to be governed, but he doesn't want to be governed and he is mortally afraid of the government.
He is terribly afraid of giving any power whatever. Now, this anarchism has been for many centuries at work in the world, and one of its final achievements has been the American Constitution.
You have it actually in black and white. In England we have the British Constitution, but nobody knows what it is and it isn't written down anywhere. But you have got the thing. I can nail you down to the clauses of the Constitution.
And what does it cover? This is the final outcome of those ages of anarchism in which the struggle against government went on, the struggle against government by feudal laws, the setting up of the King to destroy the feudal lords or the setting up of feudal lords to destroy the King; the use of any power that was there in the land to defeat some other power. And successively there was a glorious advance of what people called liberty, and the power of the Kings to destroy the power of Barons was destroyed, the feudal nobility; the power of the church was destroyed, and finally our effective governing power was destroyed, and then we found ourselves hopelessly in the power of private czars.
Of all the people who had a responsibility whatever, but who practically got affairs into their hands but without any real authority and without any sense of government whatever, you are at that point that you had perfected an instrument of government which was first to defend liberty, liberty, liberty, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and then you had a constitution of certain bodies, parliamentary bodies, Legislatures, Congresses, and so forth which was so wonderfully divided that when you sent in one body of men to govern the country through these bodies, you sent in another body of men into the same body prevent their doing it.
Ward Boss Our Dictator; "Liberty Monstrous Idol"The result of that was that you are very much afraid of dictators, and you arrived at a state of society in which every ward boss was a dictator, and in which every financier was in his way was a dictator, and every man who represented big business was a dictator and they had no responsibility.
And to this state of things, this defeat of all governments, you put up in New York Harbor a monstrous idol which you called "Liberty." And there it is, and the only thing that remains to complete that statue is to put on its pedestal, "all hope abandon, ye who enter here."
And you are not content with your own anarchism, which of course you inherited straight from our British Constitution, because we have our British Establishment, and our cabinet and all that, and we are equally incapable of doing anything as a nation, anything of real importance, except talk, talk, talk endlessly.
In America, there is a sort of propaganda or anarchism. Formerly you were not able to affect public morals and public feeling on the other side of the Atlantic as much as you are able to do now, because you have an institution, a place here called Hollywood, which has given you a tremendous influence throughout the world.
An eminent American, who I will not name, sent me a letter which I received yesterday morning. He said, "Do not judge us of the United States by its two play spots, Hollywood and New York."
But you know Hollywood is one of the most immoral places in the world. It is a center of an abominably moral propaganda. But this is not realized because the moment you mention, apparently, to an American the word "immoral," he immediately begins to think of ladies skirts or stockings or something of that kind. He begins to think you are talking about that very admirable thing, sex appeal, the use of which is very important, provided it is well done and the sex appeal is really educational, which it can be.
The real thing which you are corrupting the world with is the anarchism of Hollywood. There you put a string of heroes in front of people and all of them are anarchists, and the one answer to anything annoying or to any breach of the law or to any expression which he considers unmanly, is to give the other person a sock on the jaw.
I wonder you do not prosecute the people who produce these continual strings of gentlemen who, when they are not kissing the heroine, are socking the jaw of somebody else. It is a criminal offense to sock a person of the jaw. When will we see a film issuing from Hollywood in which the hero, instead of socking the gentleman on the jaw, does the civilized thing and calls the policeman?
I notice you receive me coldly. You think perhaps that the policeman would bore you. He could never bore you at his very worst, ladies and gentlemen, as those eternal socks on the jaw bores me and bore every civilized person. Try and get rid of them. But above all, try and get rid of that frightful anarchism that is at the back of it; that notion that every man has got if there is any evil that he suffers in society that he has the remedy in his own files.
My own experience leads me to suppose that it is not the heroes of the virtuous people who are good at socking jaws. My observation is that it is exactly the opposite sort of people who do the socking of jaws, and it is on account that they are regarded as evil people.
I think Mr Franklin Roosevelt is a type of that, rather. I think my friend Mr Randolph Hearst is rather a type of it. The reason I mention these two gentlemen is not only because they are pretty good specimens of what I mean, but because the symptom of the change is that they are both very violently against the Constitution.
Mr President Roosevelt is appealing to you practically at the present time to get rid of your confounded Constitution and give him the power to govern the country. He perhaps hopes that he will be able to govern it. He wont so long as Congress is there to prevent him.
You have tried before, ladies and gentlemen. You have tried again and again. You have tried Mr Hoover. As a practical man, Mr Hoover has shown himself in certain transactions in connection with feeding people in the war, he has shown himself to be a capable and practical man. On the ground you elected him, you wanted a practical man, you were in a practical mood. You elected him.
You found that he was no use as a president. He ceased to be a practical man. Congress would not let him be a practical man. The system wouldn't work. Everything ended in talk talk talk and unfortunately late, during his term of office, you again had a bad slump and your system began to break up. Your political and your social and industrial system showed serious signs of a rather bad earthquake somewhere, and accordingly, I wont say that you found Mr Hoover out; I suppose I mustn't say you kicked him out, but you certainly sent him away with extraordinary violence. And then you turned to Mr Roosevelt. Why?
Because the practical mood in which you elected Mr Hoover was a disappointment and you got into a sentimental mood, and, when, Mr Roosevelt, by a happy chance got photographed with a baby went into the Whitehouse with a rush. I don't know whether the baby is there, but I can tell you one thing. You hope a great deal from Mr Roosevelt. You will get nothing from him. His four years, if he has to go on under the Constitution, with the usual rotten Congress and all the rest of it, he will inevitably be as great a disappointment as Mr Hoover.
In the meantime, Mr Hoover will have gone back into practical business life, where things are meant to be done, and he will be discovered again to be a perfectly successful man.
Now, what is the body that I am speaking to tonight here? By the way, it is not responsible for everything that I say. I perhaps should mention that. but this Academy of Political Science, what is it for? It is in the first place to smash the American Constitution, to get rid of it at all hazards.
They know that there is such a thing as electioneering; they occasionly take part in one of those scandalous and disgusting spectacles that are called election meetings, at which sane and sober men get up and yell and cheer and roar and shout until any dispassionate person looking out at them would believe that he was in a lunatic asylum of a particularly outrageous description.
I hope you will all look forward to the time when those election meetings and that sort of thing will become entirely impossible in this country, and in every other country.
Remember that I speak with authority. I have stood on election platforms; I have made speeches; I have had audiences rising with enthusiasm at the conclusion of my speech and singing "For he's a jolly good fellow." I don't suppose that you will do that at the conclusion of my speech because I don think you know the tune in this country.
At any rate, I have spoken at such election meetings. I have heard all the cheers and heard the candidates talking, and I tell you that I have done it; I have seen the profound feeling, and the older I get the more I feel it to be, as part of a government of the country, something entirely intolerable and disgraceful to human nature.
I listened for the curious dead silence which shows that you all agree with me. But that you are rather doubtful. Ah! There it comes!
Now, it is very doubtful whether mankind, whether man as a political animal, to use the expression of Aristotle, whether he really is enough of a political animal to produce a good and sensible and serious and efficient Constitution. It is an open question, I quite admit. All the evidence is against it.
We are now beginning to have serious doubts whether we ourselves are such remarkable specimens of political enlightenment, but we have found out historically that our picture or the past was an entirely false one. We have found out now, thanks largely to the warning of Professor Petrie, we have discovered that we historically have knowledge now of five or six civilizations in the past which have, like our civilizations which progressed in the same way, had the same artistic climaxes, the same feminist climaxes, the same capitalistic climaxes as we, and they all hitched; they went to a certain point, and they collapsed. Because they had no standing within themselves; because their own complications when they reached a certain point of social complications due to large populations in large cities, internal strains were set up within which shattered them - and civilization went back practically to primitive life.
That puts us in a very different position from our fathers and grandfathers because what we are up against now is the question we, too, are coming to - the precipice over which these civilizations fell and smashed. The difficulty is, and the symptoms are the same - are we going to avoid that precipice?
Then there is the race for publicity. Another curious thing! An American has no sense of privacy. He doesn't know what it means. There is no such thing in the country. The English have it very strongly. The reason that an Englishman very often fails in business where an American would succeed is that an Englishman, if he opens a shop, or if he opens a hotel or any place of business, instead of welcoming a customer, he cannot help feeling that the customer is an abominable intruder who has not had a proper introduction.
The American has no feeling like that. He has this curious public instinct, this social feeling. and you find also that it is part of his love of public meetings, his coming to hear anyone who will talk.
Well, now, has America? It has got this curious thing in itself, this curious thing in itself, this wonderful thing, this surging thing inside itself that you don't meet in the same way elsewhere, and will that carry it through? Has America the endurance to do the job? If I were in England I should use a shorter term, but I am told in America I have to be careful.
You know, if you study American history - I don't mean the history books; almost all American histories until very lately were specimens of the most mendacious kind of journals - the real history of America is a disgraceful one because the real history of mankind is a disgraceful one. But if you look at the bits of it - now I wonder how many of you have ever studied the history of the Latter Day Saints?
It is one of the most extraordinary histories from the point of view that I am putting before you in the world because it shows Americans are doing something for reasons which would astonish me very much if I saw the same thing, the same thing being done, and for the same reason in England.
You have among the Latter Day Saints, whom you call Mormons - and I have to get out of the habit of writing the name Mormons because American printers always put morons they misunderstand my attitude toward the Mormons.
I have great respect for them because of this incident in their history. There came a time when the Mormons - their numbers were so small that they were in very great danger of being practically killed by their neighbors because, to some extent, their views were unpopular. But they were a very pious people. They were brought up particularly with the strictest old-fashioned ideas with regard to the relations of the sexes and the sanctity of marriage; marriage, of course, being the monogamous marriage which is the form of marriage that takes place in our countries.
Well, their leader, who was shot shortly afterward, bu the way, their leader went to these pious men and pious women - narrow in ways - and he said to them: "I want you to take to polygamy. I want all you men to have a great number of wives instead of one wife."
Now nothing is more idle, nothing is more frivolous than to imagine that this polygamy had anything to do with personal licentiousness. It had nothing of the kind. If Joseph Smith had proposed to the Latter Day Saints that they should live licentious lives, they would have rushed on him and probably anticipated the people who shot him. At any rate, they would have cast him out.
The real point that I want to urge on you as the real significant point in the matter is that the reason he gave them was a purely political reason. He said: "Unless we multiply our numbers we are lost and we can only multiply our numbers rapidly by polygamy. And therefore, whatever our prejudices, whatever our feelings may be, we have got, if we are to save the Church of the Latter Day Saints from annihilation by the superior numbers of its enemies in this State, we have got to take to polygamy."
And they did it. Now that was a wonderful American thing. The point is that they did it and that you found a body of Americans who were capable of doing that for a purely political reason.
I am very glad that that elicited a laugh. Whenever you hit a truth on the head or get it on the nail, there is always a laugh at first; but nothing that I can say tonight, nothing that I shall say tonight, is more serious than that particular point of view - when you have to consider the American capacity for political action, all of which comes in with the necessity which I have been preaching, of having a new Constitution.
Therefore I have some hope. I really do entertain a hope- I think I am the only person in the world who entertains it so far. After my preaching tonight some of you may begin to entertain it, but I do begin to think that it is possible that America, in spite of all the follies of the past, instead of your ridiculous Uncle Jonathan, instead of your ridiculous 100% American, you are really coming to the point in which America may take the lead and possibly help to save the world.
You don't seem very sanguine about it so far. But I am giving you a chance. I want you at any rate to know that the universal situation, as it were, is offering you a chance.
Of course, your existing situation is not a very promising one. Your proletariat is unemployed. That means the breakdown of the capitalist system because, as any political scientist will tell you, the whole justification of the system of capital and private property, privately appropriated capital and land, on which you have been working as a basis - all that on paper - is what is put forward as an extremely elaborate plan and what it guaranteed was that although one result of it would be the creation of an enormously rich class which was also an idle class; although there would be a few people very rich and a large number of people getting only a living, nevertheless the guarantee was that those people would get a living, that there would always be employment and they would always get a substantial wage.
When that promise is broken - and it never for one moment has been right up to the hilt - but when it was been broken on the existing scale, then your unemployed are not only the old 5% of this trade, 8% of that trade, 2.5% of another trade, but when it comes to millions of unemployed, then the capitalist system has really broken down and you have an end to it.
I confess the splendor of this building blinded me to the fact that the majority of my audience apparently belong to the unemployed but so much the better.
But today the capital that is wanted for big enterprise is counted in billions, and the employer is utterly unable to find billions. He has therefore, fallen into the hands of a class of men whose business it is to find billions, the financiers - they are the present masters of the situation. Your country is run by the financiers. At present it is run into the ditch by the financiers but it is run by them.
I want, in order to impress on you how extraordinarily dangerous is the condition of a country which has left itself be governed by financiers, to show you the sort of person the financier is.
He is the very contrary of a statesman. There are two main points. The financier is always thinking about what somebody can do; the statesman has always to think of what everybody could do at the same time; and the man who is always thinking of what this person can do, one at a time, two at a time, this mans mind gets into a condition in which it is incapable of the statesmanlike point of view which always has to consider in every step. "Here is something that everybody, if I make a law, it means that everybody has got to do something."
Now, one of the things that somebody can always do and that everybody can never do is this: Supposing that you have a little pension, a pension say, I will put it easily, of $5; and supposing you say this pension of $5 is not much, I would like to have a spree, or I would like to invest it in a little business; I would like to sell that pension.
Well, if you go to a stockbroker who is one of the departments of finance, and you say to that stock broker: "Look here. I have got an annuity, I have got a fixed payment, a little property which is bringing me $5 a year; but I want to start a little business and it will cost me $100, could you get $100 for my $5 dollars a year?"
The stock broker says; "Certainly. By all means. It is perfectly easy. I can easily find somebody who has got $100 saved up that they don't particularly want, and instead of spending it, being rather careful people, they would rather like to exchange it say for $5 a year. Nothing is easier. It is done everyday."
Wall Street and the stock exchanges and the bourses of the Continent are simply large markets in which people sell incomes for ready money. One mans spare money buys him an income, and another mans money buys an income.
Your financier who is doing this kind of business, whose mind and soul are steeped in Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, he gets the terrible habit of multiplying all the resources of the country by twenty. You see the process. Every man who has $5 a year he says, "That man is worth $100," but he isn't.
That is the simple fact of the matter. He has only $5 a year, and that is the end of it. But, no, the financier, or the stock broker knows very well that he can sell $5 a year for $100, or whatever it is, according to the rate of exchange, and therefor if you were to go to the financier and say: "Will you get me an estimate of the present wealth of the United States," the financier says, "Certainly."
That is to say that the financiers live in a world of absolute illusion. They have created something which they call the capital of the country which has no existence whatever. Every $5 they count as $100, and that means that every financier, every banker, every stock broker is 95% lunatic. And yet it is in the hands of these lunatics that you leave the whole fate of your country and you also give them amazing power, which exists in all large and rich societies.
All societies come to the point where there are large sums of money which men don't want to have to bury in their back garden but which they want to have kept for them so they can get it whenever they need it.
Now, they began going to the goldsmiths and saying, "Will you keep my gold? Will you keep my money?" the goldsmiths said, "Yes, I will keep it for you and I will let you have it when you want it." And if they trusted their goldsmiths they did that, but the goldsmiths presently - that is later - discovered (and mind you it was not a matter of skill on their part, not a matter of financial knowledge, but it was simply a natural fact), they found out that if they had a large number of people leaving money with them, and also leaving a certain amount at call, well, they found that that meant that since each person always kept - well, let me give you my own case.
I am a very simple and very poor professional man, but it is necessary for the conduct of my business that I always keep at my bank $5000 and when the sum falls below that I have to replenish it. I have to get fresh money. The consequence is that my banker is in a permanent condition of having $5000 of mine and if you add to that, not the poor, professional mans little $5000, but if you consider all the big industrial corporations, all the businesses of the country keeping necessarily large sums of money at a call, you will see that the goldsmiths would presently find that they need not keep at call the exact sums that were put in by the depositors, but since the depositors would always need permanently to leave a mass on money with them, that if they kept a few cents on the dollar that would meet all the occasions.
Of course, they ran one risk, and that was that if all the depositors suddenly made a rush and looked for their money the money wouldn't be there and the bank would break, just as the Bank of England did the other day because there was a run on gold.
But now you see that this national discovery by which the goldsmith became a banker, in large civilizations like yours becomes a money power in the hands of irresponsible private men to use simply for their own enrichment, that nation is politically ignorant to the utmost political degree, or else, it is made to the last political degree.
All the advice that they have given you for years past, ever since the war, as you know, has been the wrong advice. There has been only one great man in the banking world, Montague Norman of the Bank of England, who came forward and said a great thing about the money problem. He said, "I don't understand it."
I hope I have added a little this evening to your comprehension of it. But there, you see, is the beginning. Now, I am looking at my watch and what I have to say will occupy several hours more, if I say it. But I think I must mention one or two little delusions from which financiers suffer.
You will notice if you read the papers, the money articles in the papers, you will notice that the prosperity of a country is always measured at present by the amount that it exports. A favorable balance of trade in the eyes of the financiers naturally means something in which you export everything you make, or as much as possible that you make, and you import nothing but money.
You are always sending out your food that you produce; you send out clothes; you send out bricks and mortar; you send out steel and export export export. The figures go up and you get nothing in but gold, or possibly paper, and the financier says, "Splendid! A favorable balance of trade."
We are getting in more money and we are getting out more exports.
Finally, of course, their ideal would be a country in which you exported literally everything that you produced, and you got nothing in but gold.
I shall presently come to a rather striking example of an advance in that direction, but here is the dilemma of the financier.
The financier, in order to produce this phenomenon of getting money into the country, is always very much in favor of foreign investments. To begin with, he makes a good deal of money out of floating foreign loans, but by inducing you to send your money abroad, he produces a state of things in which your income comes from abroad as interest on the money that you send out, but it comes in, and there is no return for it.
That is to say, there are no exports, there are nothing but imports; so that on the one hand, the financier is always fighting for more exports; and, on the other hand, he is all for foreign investments which mean working for a country which is exporting everything and leaving itself nothing; and on the other hand, he is working for a country which is importing everything and is producing nothing.
I want simply to produce in your minds a notion of the muddlement in which financiers, the people who look at it from that narrow point of view - the muddle, you may almost say that they have gone to the extent of producing a certain amount of muddle in my mind. I am clear on the subject , but it is difficult to explain it to an audience of exports - or experts.
What are the risks of this policy of export export export, and judging your prosperity altogether by your exports? In the first place, foreign competition, which is always trying to take away the markets for your exports, you go after fresh markets and that leads directly to war. Furthermore, all this foreign trade of yours, the export trade brings your own people into direct competition with the poorest people on the face of the earth, with the cooly who works for 2 cents a day, and has the consequence on your own proletariat of getting their own wages down to that.
Then look at the import risk. The import - supposing you do finally, under the advice of your financial experts, supposing you send all you capital out of the United States, all your industrial capital to the places where labor is cheapest, and you all live on foreign investments, and America ceases to produce industrial profits, or to produce even its own food - well, that would be a golden prospect. All America would be like - whats the name of that place - Atlantic City?
The whole coast would become a magnificent Miami Beach. You would have music, you would have dancing, you would have night clubs, you would have beautifully dressed girls, you would have hotel life, night club life - quite a paradise, wouldn't it be? A great many people appear to think so, it would not be for me personally, but I seem to be an exceptional man.
You used to tax my liberty loan in that way. I didn't get very much of it and those are the risks that are there, repudiation wars if you like. The countries on which you are depending may say on the whole, "We may fight you and get rid of the burden. Then where are you? You have become a wonderful night-club sort of nation, but you become a hopelessly parasitic nation."
Yet, the financiers are always driving you in that direction just as curiously enough by another road they are driving you in the other direction, but in either way they are driving you to the most terrible risks, risks which will eventually, in my belief, if you go on, will destroy you.
Yet, these are the gentlemen who take that line and who do not go on other line. They take that line honestly, and they say, "We do it in our own business and it works," and they think if it is done in everybody's business it will work. That is where you want the statesman to come in and supercede the financier.
Let me take one instance. We had a war in Europe. You lent England, I suppose, somewhere about five billion dollars, or something, on England's security. What value did you get for that? You got the destruction of three empires, of three European Empires, and the substitution for monarchical rule in Europe as the typical, regular rule in Europe, you got an American republicanism established as the typical form of government in Europe. Kings are now, some of them, exiles and outcasts; some of them are what you call constitutional monarchs, which means you are not a monarch at all.
But there you are. I suggest that that was pretty fair value for your money from the large sort of political point of view. But you got something that was more remarkable than that, and that will be more important in the future, you achieved the salvation of Russia.
Russia, when the Czardom fell, tried your form of government. I tried what they called their "bourgeois" government; it tried a congress; it tried a constitution like yours; and the result was utter ruin and destruction, and Russia was pretty well as nearly starved out as so big a place could be.
And there was Russia with her great population of peasants, and these men knowing nothing about modern industrial development, not knowing how to handle machinery. There they were, helpless, and then a very remarkable thing happened.
They had had a little industrialization before the war, before the overthrow of the czar, but it was all in the hands, to some extent of Englishmen, of Belgians, of Italians, and largely of Germans. Now, when the Russians found themselves in this helpless condition, having to feed an enormous population, having at all costs to establish some sort of industry and not knowing how to do it, did they turn to their old exploiters, the English, the Belgians, the Italians, and the Germans? No.
By some sort of inspiration, they turned to America, and America saved them. They were saved by American machinery. They were saved by the advice and counsel of the American efficiency engineers. They called in American efficiency engineers. The American efficiency engineers came and looked and they said, "Your condition is appalling and awful, you have made an unspeakable mess of it; it seems utterly impossible that you should ever get out of that mess. We will tell you what to do on paper, but whether you can do it is very difficult; but, at any rate, we, the Americans, will tell you what to do.
And they told them how to do it. I knew the American who brought the very remarkable report in which the Russians had explained to them how to do it. That gentleman passed through London, and, he submitted his counsels to English experts and the English experts helped a little. They made several valuable suggestions, but they said, "Do you suppose that the Russians will stand for this kind of thing. Go ahead and hand in your report and they will hand you back across the frontier the next day."
Well, your fellow countryman, representing a large firm said, "That doesn't matter to me; they have been paying for the report; they have paid for it, and that is all we care about. We will give them their report, and they can do what they like with it. They can suppress it in the American manner or English manner, as governments do, but, at any rate, they will get the report."
He told me that within forty eight hours of his handing in the report in Moscow, the Russians had 10,000 printed copies of that in circulation, and that their loud speakers all over the country were shouting out the lessons of that report, and telling the Russian workman that that must come to a stop and that he must learn his business; and they sent for American workmen to teach them, American managers to manage their factories, and now, as you know, they pulled through even though their American teachers said that it was hardly conceivable that they could under the circumstances.
Nevertheless, working under their particular system, getting rid of the frightful friction of competition that which is so much in this country that every man is fighting against his neighbor - they all pull together there and the result is that they are now one of the biggest industrial powers of the world thanks to America.
I am not sure whether you intended to do it, but I have a sort of idea that somehow or other that blind political instinct which I have given you credit for - you may call it providence if you like - carried you on in spite of yourself to do the right thing; because you helped to establish communism in Russia, and it is very important to you that communism should be the constitution of Russia. For have you considered, ladies and gentlemen, what your condition would be if Russia were a capitalist, imperialist country with all of its new resources?
In my young days, we were all sufficiently afraid of Russia, we all talked about the will of Peter the Great. We had Mr Rudyard Kipling, who made a great deal of his reputation as a patriotic laureate in denunciations of the type of dreaded Russian, the power which was gradually going to get its claws on India as a beginning to getting its claws on all Asia.
Now, supposing that some of the inexpressibly foolish gentlemen who write in the American newspapers denouncing Russia, telling every sort of silly lie and calumny and story about Russia, pretending that Russia is in a condition of ruin, what are they doing that for? Presumably they want either the czardom back again or they want a capitalist aggressive regime in Russia.
What would be the effect in they succeeded? Supposing you sweep out Mr Stalin and all these gentlemen whom you denounce, whom your newspapers denounce? Supposing you get back the old-fashioned diplomatist working with the old-fashioned financier, and the old fashioned capitalist, fighting for new markets, what is the first thing you will have to do? You will have to quadruple your fleet, and you will have to do more than that to your army; you would not be able to sleep for the dread of the power if it were a capitalist power.
I sincerely hope, for your sake, that the way China will settle its scattered affairs is that it will develop the nucleus of communism that it has at present, and that China and Russia will be Communist powers, and that the American can then lie down under their own fig trees and be happy and none shall make them afraid.
If you do not like to establish communism among yourselves, if you cannot appreciate American communism, at least learn to appreciate the unspeakable benefit to America of having other countries Communist.
I urge it again. Think of the world with Russia capitalist and China capitalist, Where would you be? I wont pursue that. However, you want to get your money back - that five billion.
Well, the French owe you a lot of money. We, the British, we owe you a lot of money. The French, following the example of many of the other States in Europe, they say that they are not going to pay. They will see you in Hades first.
What is your remedy? Your remedy is the familiar remedy of occupation and restraint. When you have a man who owes you money, you put that man into prison and you seize his property. That is your remedy in France. That doesn't seem to me to be much of a remedy, you know., It costs a great deal less to let it go in France, which is what you will have to do finally.
I dare say France will be nice enough to pay you perhaps a few million francs - a franc is worth a tuppence. She will do it as nicely as possible. The fact is that France can pay and wont.
Now, England does not refuse to pay; she does not refuse to pay; she can pay; you know that she can pay, but you sometimes use a very thin argument.
You say, "Look here, you can afford to spend one hundred million a year (put it in dollars - $500,000,000 a year) on an army and navy. If you can afford to do that, you can afford to pay us." We reply, "Well, come now, good old Stars and Stripes, you are spending $506,000,000 or $530,000,000 or what ever it is on your army and navy; can you blame us for doing that?"
You say to us, "Give up your soldiers and then we will see about letting you off your debt." Suppose we say, "Give up your racketeering and then perhaps we will consider about paying." What is the use of paying you money for racketeering? I wish I could tell you the figure which has been stated by one of your public men as the cost of racketeering in this country every year. I wont do it because I came here firmly resolved that not a single word should pass my lips which could give the slightest offense to any American.
So they started paying in ships. That was Mr Lloyd George's idea, I think, and presently you found that all shipbuilding yards on the Thames and on the Seine and the rest of them stopped working and there was considerable objection on the part of the owners and the workers in those shipyards.
Mr Lloyd George said, "This must stop, you mustn't pay us in ships." The Germans said, "What will we pay you in? Shall we pay you in steel?" Mr Lloyd George said, "Yes, steel seems alright." But the British steel masters and the Scottish steel masters said, "No, it is not alright. You don't send any German steel in here to ruin us."
Mr Lloyd George then said to his department people, "Will you tell me what I am to ask these people to pay us in? Something that we do not produce ourselves." So his staff said, "Potash - potash - pay in potash."
Well, you can imagine a nation called on to pay its reparations in potash! There was only one thing that could be taken in without ruining some industry, and that was gold, and the Germans had to get gold any how they could, and all the financiers said, "Splendid, we will lend them the gold.!" That was their idea of doing it.
But what was the end of it? All the gold in the world poured into the United States, which didn't want it. You, without knowing what you were doing, you cornered the gold of the world and you broke the Bank of England. I have used that expression before. I use it simply because if I announce to my creditors today that I was only going to pay them twelve and sixpence on a pound, they would say I was broke.
That is precisely what the Bank of England did, only it didn't say it was broke - it said it was going off the gold standard. Nobody could get any gold. You had it all here except a lot that France had, and if you really persuade France to pay up a little of that debt, she will send you more gold.
Well, what is the use of all that gold? I really do suggest that to the extent that we are sending in all this gold and anything that is no use to you, we are simply pauperizing ourselves. We are carrying you further on that road toward making the entire country an Atlantic City and a Miami Beach.
Some of you may suspect me of saying this because, "Ah, he wants to get a little off his income tax," but I get an income from America, from the United States, as well as from England - sometimes a larger one - so what I gain on the swings I shall lose on the roundabouts. You need not suspect my good faith.
Well, what are you going to do about it? If you want to you can take some of the steps in political science, and some of my friends have tried to supply them a little; but I don't want to insist on that. When about fifty years ago I and certain friends of mine, all of whom, by the way, have justified an after-life, justified their good faith and their ability, when we established what is called socialism in England; what is called Shavian Socialism.
We knew about Karl Marx and the German socialism, but when we got it before the English public there was not a word about Karl Marx. From beginning to end, it was working out on the English lines, on English thought and English facts.
I strenuously advise you when you come to back up this academy of political science and take your own part in its work, I advise you to make the new Constitution an American Constitution from beginning to end. Don't bother much about Karl Marx.
Almost all the mistakes that the communists have made in Russia, they made because they thought they were carrying out the principles of Karl Marx; and the success of communism in Russia has only been established under the dictatorship, or perhaps I shouldn't use the word, but let us say under the leadership of Stalin, who is distinguished by the fact that he is a Nationalist, a man who says, "I will establish myself and communism; I will establish it in Russia. I care nothing about the rest of the world. I will set an example to the rest of the world. If they do not choose to follow it, that is their lookout and not mine. Russia is large enough for me, and I will work for the salvation of Russia, and let the other countries look after themselves."
Now, ladies and gentlemen, there must be an end even to speeches by Bernard Shaw. I have come here tonight to some extent to pay back an old debt that I owe America.
When I was a young man, I was very full of the advance of modern science and modern thought in certain directions. I was very full of the
new materialist philosophy of the nineteenth century. I was very full of evolution, of the new astronomical physics. I had great hopes there.
But I knew nothing about the great foundings of all this, and that is the economic condition of the country, and about political science. Science was to me a thing that was outside politics. I didn't know that there was such a thing as political science.
They had got somehow into this terrible tangle that your growth in riches, your spread in science, and what you call civilization was accompanied by an appalling reduction of the standard of life in your people and the spread of pauperism.
Well, Henry George put me onto the economic tack and the tack of political science. Very shortly afterwards, I read Karl Marx, and I read all the early political science of that time, but it was the American, Henry George who started me.
Therefore, as that happened at the beginning of my life, I have thought it fitting that now at the end of my life, because it will cheer you to hear that there cant be very much more of it but that at the end of it, perhaps, I might come and give here in America back a little of the shove that Henry George gave me.
I have other debts to America that I mustn't dwell on. Some years afterward, when even in England, people were molesting people like me, because I wasn't content with making one reputation - but I made about fifteen - people who knew one reputation didn't know the other Bernard Shaw was an untenable muddle to most people.
I owe it to the Professor of Mathematics to whom I have alluded, Professor Henderson, he was the first person who presented me in any intelligible and intellectual shape to the public.
That had its effect very beneficially to me in England. I congratulate myself on having become - well, to use an expression which was used a great many times in books, they were called the "diversions of a mathematician" - and I became one of the "diversions of a mathematician."
As a consequence, I got into mathematical shape and became a sort of real person.
There you are, ladies and gentlemen. I have tried to give the little shove today. You will understand why with almost every society in America asking me to speak for them, why I chose this particular body. the Academy of Political Science. It is the most important body in America today. The work that it is doing is the work that will save America if America has got to be saved. I shan't see the salvation, but I hope that I have prophesied it truly. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
0855 Visits N Y C; s at Met Opera House for Acad of Pol Science on Future of Pol Science in Amer
4/12/33 Bernard Shaw told an audience which filled the Metropolitan Opera
House last night that it is up to the United States to provide
leadership to save civilization from the ruin which previous
civilizations have met in the history of the human race.
He proposed that this country scrap its Constitution, which he termed "anarchic," and build a new Constitution based on purely American needs; that it nationalize the banks and destroy the power of the financiers, and that it wipe the slate clean of the war debts.
Mr Shaw gave a doleful description of the present American picture. He said that our widespread unemployment spelled the breakdown of the capitalistic system, that our farmers were in revolt, that our employers had become members of the proletariat subservient to the financiers and that the financiers, whom he called our real masters, had run the country "into the ditch."
The main hope he saw for our future was that the typical 100 per cent American of the past was giving way to a new type. He thought this type might develop into a "100 per cent statesman" and might pull America and the rest of the world out of the ditch.
President Roosevelt, he said, represented this new type in American political life. He linked to President Roosevelt's the name of William Randolph Hearst, remarking that they were "both violently against the Constitution." He warned that President Roosevelt at the end of his term would be as "great a disappointment as Mr Hoover," unless he is able to govern without being handicapped by Congress and the Constitution.
The 76-year-old Irish dramatist and political propagandist was making his first address on American soil. He arrived here yesterday on a world cruise, and his speech was the high point of a day in New York, his first visit here.
Every one of the 3,500 seats in the opera house was occupied by members and guests of the Academy of Political Science, under whose auspices Mr Shaw spoke on the subject "The Future of Political Science in America." The address was broadcast by WJZ and associated stations.
Crowds surrounded the opera house, and police were posted on all sides, keeping all without tickets off the sidewalk on the Fortieth Street (stage entrance) side of the building, where Mr Shaw entered. When the doors opened, the box office windows were closed, placarded with a sign announcing all tickets had been sold. The doorkeepers had more than usual difficulty in keeping out gate-crashers.
audience was mostly an evening dress affair, especially in the
orchestra and the golden horseshoe and grand tier boxes, but ran
to business clothes in the galleries. All stood and applauded
briefly when Mr Shaw arrived.
Although a veteran of many platforms, who for years on end in London delivered a harangue every Sunday and sometimes several times a week, Mr Shaw appeared nervous as he sat in his armchair between the two financiers, waiting for ten minutes until the radio time should be ready.
He sat first with his long arms folded across the breast of his tightly fitting blue sack coat, then with his hands clasped in his lap, again with one hand raised to the trimmed white beard, which with equally white mustache and hair framed his ruddy countenance, now with his massive high-domed head sunk broodingly on his chest so that the white beard obscured his dark four-in-hand scarf, again with his head jerked around sharply as he talked with some one sitting behind him. Continually his long, thin, pale fingers reached up and stroked his white beard or mustache.
Mr Reynolds whispered something, whereupon the dramatist drew his watch from an inner pocket, consulted it, shook his head in an emphatic negative, returned the watch to its repository, and resumed his pose with arms folded. At this, many out front began to clap their hands and stamp their feet, the time-honored custom of an audience demanding action. But Mr Shaw kept his arms folded, the picture of determination, until the minute hand reached 8:45.
at first, he continued to clasp and unclasp his hands alternately,
fold his arms across his breast occasionally and stroke his beard as
he talked. Soon he settled down into an easy platform manner and
appeared perfectly at home addressing an audience of Americans. Mr
Shaw spoke extemporaneously, occasionally referring to notes in
discussing world trade and financial matters toward the end of his
address. He took special pains not to say anything that could be
regarded as insulting to Americans. Every time that any words passed
his lips that might have been considered in this category he
immediately added that the British or all the rest of the world were
to share his criticism on that particular point.
Mr Shaw gestured frequently using his right and left arms interchangeably in gestures for which the ordinary speaker reserves the right arm alone. He occasionally clenched his fists and pounded one against the other. His voice was clear and distinct, and had the barest perceptible trace of an English pronunciation or an Irish brogue at times. He did not seem to strain his voice in the slightest, but had no difficulty in making himself heard throughout the auditorium.
the very beginning of his address Mr Shaw put the audience into good
humor, and gave them an immediate chance to laugh, when he suggested
that he felt an "irresistible temptation to sing" in such
surroundings. Every Shavian in the audience, of course, knew that it
was most appropriate for their idol to be speaking in an opera house.
His early career was closely associated with music. His mother was
a professional music teacher, he was familiar with the works of all
the famous composers as a boy in Dublin, and one of his first jobs in
London was as music critic.
Possibly many in the audience were disappointed because Mr Shaw restrained himself in giving his opinions of Americans. There was laughter and good-humored cries of "Ouch!" when he said that the American of today was quite different - "thank heaven!" from the American of his boyhood days. There was more laughter when he said that he could speak his mind about those old-time Americans "because they are all dead," and when he asserted that even to this day it was easier than it ought to be for him to "get a rise out of Americans" for criticising them. The nature of all this laughter indicated that some, at least, of the audience would have been willing for Mr Shaw to go on all evening making more and more critical remarks about themselves.
was a peculiar division of sentiment on the part of the audience when
Mr Shaw declared that our unemployment situation meant that the
capitalistic system had broken down. Continued applause came from
the one-dollar seats in the top gallery; silence reigned in the $3
and $5 seats in the orchestra and the horseshoe circle. The speaker
made a quip out of this, suggesting that some of his hearers belonged
among the unemployed.
When Mr Shaw closed his remarks at about 10:25 o'clock, having spoken for an hour and forty minutes, the audience applauded him generously. He took his seat for a moment, then arose, waved his right arm aloft in a farewell salute to the departing audience and strode in long-legged leaps into the wings, as actively and vigorously as a young man.
Mr Shaw left the opera house in Mr Lamont's limousine, to the tune of photographers' flashlights. He visited Mr Lamont's home at 107 East Seventieth Street briefly, and then returned to his ship, the Empress of Britain, in Mr Lamont's car, at 12:05 am.
0854 Discusses acting; unexpectedly genial on boat
4/11/33 Bernard Shaw, who boasted for years that he never would visit America, will arrive in New York this morning and spend twenty-six hours here. The Empress of Britain, on which Mr and Mrs Shaw are making a world cruise, is expected to dock at Pier 61, at the foot of West Twenty-first Street, at 10 am and sail again for England tomorrow noon.
Mr Shaw will see any more of the city than the skyline and the
streets through which he will hasten tonight on his way to and from
the Metropolitan Opera House for an address seemed doubtful last
night. At the offices of the Academy of Political Science, under
whose auspices he will speak, it was said Mr Shaw would stay aboard
the Empress of Britain until just before his lecture: that he would
return to the ship immediately afterward, sleep aboard, and
remain there until the ship sails.
'Mr Shaw does not wish any publicity,' said a spokeswoman for the academy, intimating that the dramatist would not submit to interviews.
It was not known at the academy yesterday afternoon whether any committee from the academy would meet the liner to welcome Mr Shaw or who would go to the ship in the evening to conduct him to the Opera House.
Every seat in the Opera House is expected to be filled, however, by members of the academy and their friends. Mr Shaw will be introduced by Alanson B Houghton, president of the academy. The meeting will begin at 8:30 pm and Mr Shaw is scheduled to begin his address on "The Future of Political Science in America" at 8:45. The academy announced that no one would be admitted after Mr Shaw began speaking.
the deck and clutching a manuscript, Bernard Shaw today
discussed acting after a brilliant performance in a talking movietone
directed by himself. "Writing a play is the easiest part,"
he said. "A dramatist should have an office boy to knock it
into shape, but intelligent office boys are scarce." He would
not answer a query as to whether his round-the-world play was done.
Saying that he had reached page 514, he recalled that the character
of Falstaff outgrew its author.
"The dramatist must be a bit of an actor to write a play fit to act," Shaw continued. "A good actor should not know his part at the first rehearsal but should grow with it as he learns it. Always encourage actors to supply their own characterization." Asked whether by this system the actor might not produce a better part than the original, he said, "It often happens in my plays."
He has no idea of what he will do in New York, but he announced firmly that he would give no interview to the ship news reporters.
On one deck stroll today he took occasion to remark: "Modern dressmakers have taken away sex appeal from women's clothing. The victorians manufactured woman as a mysterious chromatic something that never existed and bundled them up with curve-hiding clothes.
New York will greet a Shaw different from the newspaper characterization of the last few years. Urbanity seems to have replace acerbity. The Shaw who shouted "No autographs on my world tour" scattered signatures today among the crew and passengers. During the voyage the dramatist has kept up a large correspondence, writing all his letters in shorthand for the ship's stenographers to type. He has not been gruff, but frequently has appeared abstracted on his walks along the deck.
the Editor of The New York Times: Bernard Shaw is making
his first visit to this country. However, he already knows all about
us - he says. As witness: In The New York Times of Dec 19, 1930,
there appeared a special cable from London containing an authorized
interview with Mr Shaw in which he said: "To rouse their
[American's] eager interest, their distinguished consideration and
their undying devotion, all that is necessary is to hold them up to
the ridicule of the rest of the universe."
And then he proceeded to prove(?) his case against us - so charmingly stated - by calling no less a personage to the witness stand than Charles Dickens, of whom, in his pleasant way, he said: "Dickens won them to him forever by merciless projections of typical Americans as wind-bags, swindlers and assassins." As Shakespear or somebody was always saying, you know, all this is "important if true." And now let us see about that.
In 1868, as Dickens was about to take ship for England - after having completed his second tour of this country - he was given a dinner in this city by 200 representative newspaper men, at which he said: "I henceforth charge myself, not only here but on every suitable occasion, whatsoever and wheresoever, to express my high and grateful sense of my second reception in America, and to bear my honest testimony to the national generosity and magnanimity. What I have intended, what I have resolved upon, is on my return to England, in my own person, in my own journal, to record that wherever I have been in the smallest places equally with the largest, I have been received with unsurpassable politeness, delicacy, sweet temper, hospitality and consideration. This testimony, so long as I live, and so long as my descendants have any legal right in my books, I shall cause to be republished as an appendix to every copy of the two books of mine in which I have referred to America. And this I will do, and cause to be done, not in mere love and thankfulness, but because I regard it as an act of plain justice and honor."
Charles Dickens is unquestionably revered in the United States by thousands of men and women who give him their deepest respect as a great social reformer, a profound philosopher, an enticing and clean-minded humorist and a surpassingly excellent story-teller; and they heartily recognized in him the depth of a friendship that, in the moment of realization of his error, had the outspoken manliness to record it imperishably "as an act of plain justice and honor."
Such, then, is Dickens. Such is America. Such is Mr Shaw!
Arthur Elliot Sproul
0852 H Keller insists he called all Amers "blind, deaf and dumb," despite his denials
on reported denial by him of jibe about dumb Americans, astonishment
was expressed by Helen Keller when she was informed GBS denied saying
to her that all Americans are deaf and blind and dumb. The remark
was attributed to Mr Shaw by Miss Keller who said the Irish
playwrights reply was conveyed to her by her teacher at the home
of Lady Astor. Mr Shaw's denial was carried on a radio he sent to a
Berlin newspaper from the ship on which he is going to New York.
"Its almost amazing," Miss Keller said who was on a visit
to the city. Then she repeated what happened when she talked with
Shaw, a conversation on which she based a recent newspaper article.
"I asked Mr Shaw why he hated Americans so much." Miss
Keller said. "He said he didn't hate them.
At this point Lady Astor interrupted and grasped Mr Shaw's arm explaining that I was deaf and blind." And then Mr Shaw replied, 'O, yes, all Americans are blind and deaf....... and dumb.' " Miss Polly Tompkins her companion, repeated this part of Miss Keller's remarks, added that she herself was present at the time of the interview but that the message of Shaw's rejoinder was "tapt to Miss Keller by her teacher, Mrs. Ann Sullivan
Macy who was also with us." "I wonder if he could possibly have forgotten what he said," added Miss Keller. "The fact remains, of course,that he did not seem particularly interested in seeing us, and I cant blame him when I remember the great multitudes he has to meet and how weary he must be of the eternal worship." "I still admire Mr Shaw and think it is a great thing for us that he lived in this world and taught us to think more clearly on the fundamental problems."
4/8/33 SHAW REITERATES HIS DENIAL
- GBS who stopped off here today in the course of a world cruise
which will take him to New York denied again that he had said in the
presence of Helen Keller that all Americans were "deaf,
"The American is a funny animal. Tell him he has a nose on his face and two eyes and immediately he is insulted. The Italians and the Russians are not so dumb, so deaf, so blind because they are tackling their problems in a new way."
0851 Excerpts from his lr-foreword to G H Thring's book, The Marketing of Literary Property
"commercial imbecilities" of authors, the gambling hazards
of publishing and the general difficulties of making money by writing
are discussed by Bernard Shaw in a letter-foreword to G H
Thring's "The Marketing of Literary Property," just
published in England and now made available here by Frederic Melcher.
Seemingly forgetting for the moment both himself and the late Arnold
Bennet, both acknowledged masters at the art of earning, Mr Shaw says
that there is one "overwhelming disadvantage at which the author
who is a genuine artist must stand in commercial transactions.
"And that is his indifference to money when he is not actually hungry nor under threat of eviction or the cutting off of his water and electric light, or the wearing out of his clothes beyond the point at which they are useful or presentable," he goes on. "A publisher who staves off these emergencies for an author and flatters him sufficiently has very little to fear from him in the matter of hard bargaining. Literary agents live mainly by making soft bargains for authors, who are only too grateful to any one who will relieve them of the abhorred necessity of bargaining at all. Now, the publisher, as a man of business, is, or ought to be, totally insensible to every other consideration except that of making as much money as he possibly can.
"I know, of course, that many publishers fall short of this difficult ideal and allow themselves, through love of literature, admiration of particular authors and unbusinesslike compassion, to be seduced into giving the author better terms than he is in a position to extort. Some publishers have to protect themselves against this weakness by taking into partnership some born Harpagon whose only joy and point of honor is to skin authors alive."
He then admits that there are some authors, "I am one of them myself," who like bargaining for its own sake "and are so interested in points of law and economics that for the mere fun of it they bargain keenly for money and concessions they do not really want." He tells of the "imaginary realm" possessed by authors, where they have no need to try their "feeble grip of reality." Equipped with all the virtues - nobility in a writer is lucrative - they are, he says, kindly rulers.
"But introduce a vulgar substantial independent person into this paradise, preferably a publisher or manager, or a solicitor or agent, and the benevolent despot is either as terrified as a small child confronted with a very big policeman,or, in the case of a best seller, as bumptious as a headmaster reluctantly compelled to deal with a juvenile delinquent. Both sorts are distractingly unmanageable when there is business to be done.
'The intimidated ones are more common because their novitiate has been one of crushing poverty."
Where, then, he asks, do "such belles lettres as we have come from?"
"Mostly from those upstarts of the literate working class and downstarts of the leisured class who are incorrigible day dreamers, without the muscle for manual labor, the acquisitive cunning for business, the long and expensive coaching for the civil service and professional examinations, or the income for leisure. They must either starve their way into the fine arts or into literature as best they can or else perish. Thus I, in my youth, when what I needed was work enough to prevent my being a burden on others and leisure enough to qualify myself as an author, found that I had either to work for so many hours a day that I had no leisure or refuse to work and have no food except what I could induce or compel other people to give me for nothing. Had I not been unscrupulous enough to choose the latter alternative and lucky enough to inherit an expiring remnant of leisured property I should have been lost to literature and unbearably unhappy.
Mr Thring has been for 30 years secretary of The Authors Society in England. The book explains the various clauses in book contracts, the effect of copyright laws and the duties of a literary agent. It contains tables giving the actual costs of book making and publishing, the profits of publishers and the royalties of authors. The Shaw letter is more than 5,000 words long.
0850 Ed on his replies to questions
fairness to Bernard Shaw requires that the American public accept
its own share of responsibility for such feelings of distress as it
may now experience. His round-the-world ship continues to draw
nearer our own Eastern shores, that famous stream of volubility
continues to mount and swell, and more and more people are giving
signs of being fed up. But after all, how could we ever expect to
ask so many questions as we have persisted in asking Mr Shaw, without
getting a lot of foolish answers?
We might even go further. Looking into our own hearts, we might ask whether we should not be terribly disappointed if Mr Shaw ever answered a question with sobriety instead of by standing on his head, sympathetically instead of impudently, quietly instead of with deliberate intention to shock. The deliberation has been on our side as well as on his. He gives the public the kind of show it expects.
0849 Says Amer speech is language of future; scores Natl Socialist anti-Semitism; at Balboa
the playwrite who arrived here on board the liner Empress of Britain
today told reporters he was not looking forward to his visit in New
York or anything else except dinner. He said that in his address at
the Met he would explain political science as nobody seemed to know
what it was. Referring to the situation in Germany: "The
Jewish business in Germany is a disgrace and has destroyed any credit
that the Nazis might have had. This indicates," he added, "that
the Nazis had no real plan of action and after they had aroused
enthusiasm and obtained support had to resort to an attack on the
Jews because they had nothing better to offer."
Asked if he had been quoted correctly as saying the US needed a dictator he replied that he'd never been quoted correctly in the American press. He added that all countries needed not one but many dictators in order to get things done. "At present time," he declared, "the people elected one man to do something and then a lot of others to prevent his doing it."
Asked of his opinion of American speech as compared with that of England he said: "American is possibly the language of the future. English has too many consonants; but in America the Afro-American has dropped the consonants and so much has been dropped out that it is becoming intelligible." He said American speech grew richer because of words picked up from the immigrant.
0848 J Deeter, director of Hedgerow Theater, denies charge, made to A Harding, that presentation of Captain Brassbound's Conversion was pirated
3/30/33 "We have a special contract for the production of everything Bernard Shaw ever wrote, with the exception of his latest play, Too True To Be Good. "But, even if we had no such contract, we would certainly steal his play, so highly do we think of them." In this fashion did Jasper Deeter, director of the Hedgerow Theater, reply today to the Irish playwright's assertion on the West Coast yesterday that a presentation of his play, Captain Brassbound's Conversion, by the Hedgerow organization must have been a "piratical production." Mr Shaw made the statement to Ann Harding, motion-picture star, who acted in the Hedgerow production of the Shaw play. Miss Harding denied the accusation, then retired to her dressing room and shed tears over the incident.
"I am too busy to be greatly concerned over it," Mr Deeter said as to Shaw's statement. "I can say, however, that Mr Shaw is a great artist and anything he says is pretty important. I might add that we have a special contract with Mr Shaw through his London secretary, Blanche Patch, for the production of all his plays, with the exception of his latest. I don't doubt that Mr Shaw himself is aware of the contract, for he certainly must take an interest in his own affairs."
0847 "So, Louis B. Mayer Exists" Disdainful during visit to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios at Culver City
3/29/33 Still not noticeably impressed by his recent "discovery" of America, a continent about which he at odd times has expressed some dubiety, Bernard Shaw, seeing the world, came to Southern California today and had a look at the movies. He gave some advice to the actresses about what kind of hats they ought not to wear. He moved Ann Harding to secret tears with a passing remark. He left a tentative promise to return some time and "shew you (Culver City and Hollywood) how to make pictures. A forced landing on a mist-shrouded Pacific Ocean beach in the airplane in which he flew from San Simeon this morning seemed to have left untouched the aplomb of the dramatist and critic. "I didn't land," insisted Mr Shaw, "it was the pilot who landed." The white whiskers of Britain's man of letters waved to and fro in emphasis. "If it had been me," he said, "I probably would have been up in the air yet."
clouds and rain forced Pilot Ray Crawford to land the plane on a
beach strand two miles from Malibu, motion-picture colony. He was
bringing Mr And Mrs Shaw from the ranch home of William Randoph
Hearst, publisher. They were accompanied by George Hearst, son
of the publisher.
The landing was without mishap and the party hailed a passing motorist for a ride into Santa Monica, where they were picked up by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio automobile and brought here for luncheon and an inspection tour. Leaving the studio in mid-afternoon, the Shaws went to San Pedro and boarded the Empress of Britain, which sailed tonight. They had left the ship at San Francisco.
Shaw visited only the M-G-M studio here. He did not go to Hollywood,
home of most West Coast studios. He was piloted about on a tour by
Marion Davies, actress, aided by Charlie Chaplin, after luncheon in
Miss Davie's bungalow attended by several film celebrities. Mr Shaw
was taken to a sound stage, where 'When Ladies Meet' was being filmed
with Ann Harding, Myrna Loy, Alice Brady and Robert Montgomery. The
players finished a comedy scene, putting their best into it
before the eyes of the play-writer, who is a movie maker of some
"That was swell," said Chaplin.
"Why," inquired Mr Shaw of Miss Brady, "does a girl with a nice face like yours wear a hat like that?" It was a rakish little hat with a rather large decorative bow effect and pulled down over the actress's eyes.
Shaw looked with interest at a scene in which John Barrymore and Lee
Tracy played. After seeing it, he expressed preference for a scene
in which he told of having once seen Barrymore play "amidst the
popping of champagne corks."
At the luncheon, Mr Shaw was introduced to Louis B Mayer, head of the studio. Mr Shaw turned to the executive. "So there really is a Louis B Mayer, after all," he remarked, and there was merriment among the assembly.
On the subject of Japanese theaters, Mr Shaw and Charlie Chaplin got together like college alumni and had a discussion.
The dramatist declined to pen an autograph for the year-old son of John Barrymore. "How old is your son?" Mr Shaw asked after Barrymore's request for the autograph. 'One year,' the actor told him. "No," said Mr Shaw, "I can't give it. It might be different if he were your grandfather and had not much longer to live."
0846 Excerpt from s at Hongkong on univs
"I have a strong opinion that every university on the face of earth ought to be leveled to the ground and its foundations sown with salt. I am never tired of pointing out that only very recently civilization was almost destroyed by a tremendous war. We do not as yet know whether civilization has not been entirely destroyed by that war, but it doesn't matter because one of the things the war has proved was that there was very little civilization in the first place at all. The war was made by people with university educations. There are really two dangerous classes in the world. There are the half educated who have destroyed one half of civilization and there are the wholly educated who have nearly completely destroyed the world. You ought very carefully to study the works of Professor Flinders Pietry. When I was young, which was an incalculable number of years ago nobody knew anything of civilization. We knew little about Greece and Rome. Rome had somehow collapsed into the darkages but until Professor Pietry began to dig up old civilizations we had no idea of how many civilizations exactly like our own had collapsed. They almost all collapsed through education.
0845 Excerpt from s on arrrival in U S
3/26/33 I'm a teetotaler, but you mustn't ask the people of the United States to live up to my standard. Your people are not happy enough to live without alcohol. When a person goes through a great ordeal he takes a great deal of chloroform; that makes him forget all about what is going on. Alcohol acts the same way upon an unhappy people - makes them forget their unhappiness
0844 Shaw talks to reporters then flies to Hearst Ranch in San Simeon
was the rejoinder. "You're all working under dictatorships,
every one of you. Your dictator may take away your job tomorrow."
Of Adolf Hitler, Shaw would have no comment, express no opinion. "I don't know anything about him. The whole of Germany is in suspense and chaos - just like the United States. They've decided to try Hitler just as the United States has decided on Franklin D Roosevelt. I shall tell you what I think of them in four or five years when I see what they have done.
Of the Jews he spoke for a moment seriously. "What would any civilized body of persons say about the persecution of the Jews in Germany. Why persecute the Jews or on the other hand, why not? But then why not persecute the Americans, the Germans or a stray Swede? Ireland! O, yes! And Eamon d'Valera the Filipino?
"Well, nations have done well under dictatorships before; Napoleon was a foreigner in France. Anyway, no one is interested in Ireland now that she is no longer oppressed."
His mention of foreign dictators caused someone to ask whether he would undertake the dictatorship of the United States. "Let me see now," he responded quickly, "Exactly how much would you pay me?"
He refused to commit himself in regard to the future of communism although he declared emphatically that he was a more extreme communist than Lenin
A forced landing on a mist shrouded Pacific Ocean beach in the airplane in which he flew from San Simione this morning seemed to have left untouched the aplomb of the dramatist and playwrite and critic.
"I didn't land the plane. It was the pilot who landed. If it had been me I probably would have been up in the air yet."
The landing was made without mishap and the party hailed a passing motorist for a ride down to Santa Monica where they were picked up by a MGM studio automobile. Whilst there, he offended Ann Harding, who said she wanted to do the same role she'd done during her stage days at the Hedgerow, a little theater near Philly in Captain Brassbounds Conversion, elicited from him, "I want to know who the stage manager was, it was piratical!"
He and Charlie Chaplin had a chuckle over it. At a performance lunch, Louis B. Mayer left when he said, "So there is a Louis B Mayer afterall!"
0843 Arrives in San Francisco; greeted by Mayor and com
Irish dramatist, arrived in SF tonight on the round the world liner
Empress of Britain for his first visit to America. He jested with
Mayor Rossi, and the official welcoming party as he superintended his
setting up of klieg lights by cameramen. "We shall be over
exposed," he said. After turning to a photographer on his right
and remarking, "I don't believe that is the best side of my
nose." Mr Shaw told Mayor Rossi he was glad to be welcomed by a
civic official because he preferred "not to see crowds but to
learn how a city is kept. People think of me as a theatrical man but
I am really proud to have served six years as a municipal
Saying he would not express an opinion on the merits of the case of Tom Mooney convicted on the 1916 Preparedness Day Bombing, the dramatist suggested it was "foolish" to keep the man imprisoned in such circumstances. "I cannot pretend," said Mr Shaw, "that I am not shocked at having any person put into a vault for 16-17 years. If Mr Mooney was such a badman, why didn't you have the courage and character to shoot him?"
Questioned about beer and asked if he were a teetotaller, he replied: "Yes I am a teetotaller but you mustn't ask the people of the United States to live up to my standard. Your people are not happy enough to live without alcohol." Asked what people were happiest, he responded: "The happy people are in the cemeteries, I suppose." As for chances of communism, he said: "Man is a political animal not capable of solving the problems of his own aggregation in large numbers."
0842 Injures leg on cruise; resumes writing
3/22/33 The New York office of the Canadian Pacific Railway yesterday made public a wireless message from the world cruise line Empress of Britain as follows: "The crowding of comely but slightly ponderous hula dancers around Bernard Shaw before the Empress of Britain sailed from Hilo on Sunday resulted in a sprained leg for the dramatist. Dodging the laughing, grass-skirted dancers who showered him with flowers, Mr Shaw suffered a sprain which has forced inactivity upon him. Now, stretched in a deck chair, and wearing a faded green-gold cape and a remarkable hat, he has resumed work upon the manuscript that claimed his time in the earlier days of his cruise around the world."
0841 Will Rogers is impressed by G.B.S.
3/21/33 "Bernard Shaw, you let me come to your house in London, and talk to you for a long time. I always said I never met a man I didn't like. You would all like him if you met Shaw, that is everybody that's fair and honest with themselves. You wont be able to figger him out and that makes smart fellows sore. He is one crossword puzzle that has never been worked. Writer's animosity to Shaw is that they didn't think of saying what he has already said. He is always ahead of 'em. England, this is Beverly Hills now, in all these years, don't know if he is for 'em of agen 'em, and a fellow Irishman don't know any more about him than a Zulu. Now, when a guy can do all that and put it over, give him credit. He does no harm. Sir James Barry told me he was a very charitable human man. He does much good, amuses and instructs multitudes, so as "wiseacreing" is our national pastime, and we have a foreigner come here who can make a sucker out of us doing it why lets be good sports and admit it. For as far as showing the real Bernard Shaw, we haven't got a man in America who can see past his whiskers. So, viva Bernard! Look us over and don't let our hospitality stand in the way of you telling us just about what cage in the zoo we belong. Its bound to do us some good.
0840 Refuses invitation to s in behalf of T J Mooney
3/20/33 By radio from Hilo, Hawaii, from R M S Empress of Britain:
am afraid my interference would have the same effect H G Wells's had
in the Sacco-Vanzetti affair," said Bernard Shaw,
world-famous Irish dramatist and Socialist, referring to an
invitation to address a meeting on behalf of Tom Mooney, in prison
for seventeen years in connection with the San Francisco Preparedness
"Though thoroughly sympathetic and shocked at his treatment," said Mr Shaw, he would decline the invitation tendered by Lincoln Steffens and Theodore Dreiser. The meeting was organized "to press for the release of Mooney," the dramatist said, adding that he had "received a pathetic appeal from Mooney himself to visit him in jail." He did not indicate whether or not he would visit Mooney.
0839 Admirers in China offended by boorishness
3/19/33 Bernard Shaw is not only a fallen idol so far as many of his former
admirers in China are concerned, but has even brought upon himself a
great amount of public condemnation from foreigners and Chinese
The great English playwright and his wife, who are on a trip around the world, touched at Hongkong. There Mr Shaw expressed surprise that among the many newspapermen who came for interviews not one represented a Chinese newspaper. He deeply offended the Chinese of South China by publicly asking if they were "so primitive" that they had never heard of him. Though Mr Shaw had declared that he would make no public addresses while he was in China, he suddenly changed his mind and gave for the students of Hongkong University, and advised them to steep themselves in revolutionary books and to "go in for communism up to the neck." Now, Hongkong is a British Crown colony; is extremely conservative, and the Hongkong authorities are continually raiding the headquarters of various radical organizations. Immediately, Mr Shaw became highly unpopular in Hongkong and was violently denounced by editorials in several English newspapers.
On top of this Mr Shaw refused to accept an invitation to speak at a luncheon given by the Hongkong Rotary Club, and then, in a newspaper interview, explained his refusal by defining the Rotary organization as "a gang organized by ignorant and unscrupulous merchants who use the club as a means to promote their positions." Meanwhile, the Shanghai Rotary Club, before it heard of the Hongkong episode, had cabled to Mr Shaw asking him to speak at a luncheon here, but the ornament of Adelphi Terrace declined by cable before the invitation could be withdrawn. E F Harriss, an American, who is president of the Shanghai Rotary, commented tartly: 'Shaw says Rotarians are over-stuffed monkeys gathered around luncheon tables. I can only say there is always room for one more, and that is why he was invited. In his desperate efforts to achieve publicity Shaw is resorting to cheap jibes, which seem, to me merely evidence of senility."
The Chinese press asked Mr Shaw for a message to the Chinese people, whereupon he remarked cryptically: "I think Japan is quite right not to bother to declare war on China. I have nothing to say in the present emergency except China, heal thyself! With China's people united, who could resist her?"
On the day Mr Shaw was due to arrive in Shanghai several large delegations of students, with flags and banners of welcome, waited for him for many hours at the customs jetty. Later, it was discovered that the distinguished visitor had purposely avoided the students by landing at another dock half a mile down the river.
0838 Lrs urging that he be snubbed on arrival in U S
the Editor of The New York Times: I read in The Times with
unmitigated amazement of the atrocious conduct of Bernard Shaw
toward Miss Helen Keller. Presumably he is now on his way around the
world and due to arrive in this country one of these days. It is to
be hoped that he will be snubbed in due time with a resounding
silence. It is the only thing that can pierce that thick hide of his
monstrous self-conceit. Once upon a time one laughed at his wit, but
one has long since ceased to be amused at his worse than bad manners.
In a personal meeting no doubt he would have the better of it
in repartee, but not in one's fathomless contempt.
John William Long
3/26/33 To the Editor of The New York Times: As a favor to the great silent majority of the United States and as a well deserved lesson to Bernard Shaw, why does not the press of the country calmly ignore his existence, at least while he is in this country? It would be a well earned discipline that might reverse his mental attitude and restore him to normalcy. Shaw's only protest could be that the punishment was cruel and unusual.
Mary V Guerin
0837 Feature article on visit to U S; por
round-the-world schedules hold true, Bernard Shaw will see America
first in the coming week. He will breathe the air of the country to
which he owes no small part of his expansive fame and handsome
fortune, but which he has hitherto consistently excluded from a
visiting list embracing already the continents of Europe, Asia
and Africa. On his way here he has stopped over in Jerusalem,
extolled Gandhi in Bombay, surveyed from the air the Great Wall of
China and the battlefields of Jehol, and dropped in to warn the
Japanese that it was a war of imperial aggrandizement that cost the
Hohenzollerns their throne. Let another Emperor embarked on conquest
profit by their example!
The point is that, even in coming to America, Mr Shaw has got at it the other way around. He lands in San Francisco, not in New York.
This pre-eminent personage has already celebrated his seventy-sixth birthday. The seventy-fifth was spent in Moscow and sharply called to the waiting world's attention by a red-hot Red speech delivered in that Hall of Columns where the Red Soviet powers hold trials for treason.
He comes among us a seasoned sage, a living classic of letters, a darling jester at the Court of Demos (in his own words) - as it were, the Will Rogers of Christendom. Playing up to the part with infinite zest, he keeps on saying merely to delight his vast audience the same sort of things that used to shock, sear and frighten almost everybody when they were said by the Shaw, who, in those days, was (or seemed) an iconoclastic menace as capable of breaking up society on the pinwheel of paradox as Stalin is now of crushing it with the Iron Hand of Proletarian Dictatorship.
It is a long way from Shaw to Stalin. It is a long way also from Shaw the Terror to Shaw the Star Hit of the Show. But to do Shaw justice, it is the world that has changed. Shaw is the same, except that the popularity of his act - the same old act - which has extracted most of the sting of the performance, has resulted in making him, like most popular stars, a badly spoiled creature, with a tendency to substitute buffoonery for wit.
That is a thing of which Shaw would have been quite incapable when he was a poor young artist - militant Fabian, Socialist pamphleteer, on the stage and off, of an ardently imagined Age of Reason. Those were the days when the ex-bookkeeper from Dublin, who had come to London to carve for himself a high career with the two-edged sword of the English language, accomplished a great deal, if not to change the world, at least toward awakening the world to the consciousness that it had changed; toward opening people's eyes to the fact that quite a lot of cherished idols were scarecrows stuffed with straw.
As to the precise quality of the recognition that Shaw deserves, the solidity of his contribution to that progress of the human race which tends (we hope) to a divine event, opinions differ widely. He has been voted the best brains of England; he has been decried as a cheap, money-making, mouthing mountebank. With characteristic flaunting of mock modesty, he has nominated himself the most famous figure in the world and the Dramatic Emperor of Europe.
G K Chesterton asserts that Shaw is a Puritan, a creature succinctly defined by GKC as "a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things." He is a Nobel Prize winner in letters along with Anatole France, Romain Rolland and our own Sinclair Lewis. He has won reclame and riches as a playwright whose stage pieces (denied the very name of plays by William Archer and contemporary critics) are produced all over the inhabited globe and have been translated into almost all civilized languages.
He plied his pen doughtily to set up Richard Wagner on the top of the music heap; mercilessly he used the same sharp weapon to thrust Henry Irving down from the top-rung of the stage ladder in the interest of a new theater of social analysis and uplift. He helped to prop up Henrik Ibsen as premier dramatic idol in the place of William Shakespear. But Ibsen has already served his purpose, and Shakespear stands precisely where he stood before.
Shaw has done battle with all his armory of wit and impudence and wisdom for many good causes - and some bad ones. By and large, he has been the tireless champion of the rule of reason in a world which even he, at last, has discovered to be quite unreasonable. On his own confession, he has been a consistent and shameless booster and barker for his own show, and to that end has created out of his father's and his mother's son a perfected puppet for his showmanship.
What it all amounts to not even his faithful biographer, Archibald Henderson, can quite tell us. Yet, perhaps, the justest summary of Shaw's real accomplishment and contribution to his generation has been made by Albert Einstein, who spoke his estimate directly at Mr Shaw at a public dinner in London as follows:
"You, Mr Shaw, have succeeded in gaining the love and joyful admiration of mankind by a path which for others has led to martyrdom. You have not only preached to mankind morality but even dared to mock at what to others appeared unapproachable. What you have done can be done only by the born artist. From your box of tricks you have taken countless puppets, which, while resembling men, are not of flesh and bone but consist entirely of spirit, wit and grace. And yet, in a way even more than ourselves, they resemble men and women and make us almost forget that they are not the creations of nature but only the creations of Bernard Shaw.
"You make these gracious puppets dance in a little world guarded by the graces who allow no resentment to enter in. Whoever has glanced into this world sees the world of our reality in a new light. He sees your puppets blending into real people so that the latter suddenly look quite different from before. By thus holding the mirror before us, you have been able, as no contemporary, to effect in us a liberation and take from us some of the heaviness of life."
these years past Shaw has refused to come to America and has been as
rude as possible in stating his reasons. The Americans, he says,
"expect to be flattered, take flattery as a matter of right, and
give their distinguished consideration and ungrudging devotoig
to those who hold them up to the ridicule of the universe." As
a native example to the point, he cites Mr Sinclair Lewis, "who
knocked Washington off his pedestal and substituted Babbitt."
Thereupon Babbitt to all Europe becomes the type of American, while
Lewis, in virtue of the exploit, is advanced to the rank of America's
leading author, and rewarded with the Nobel Prize.
As for Shaw, he has been careful "never to say a civil word to the United States." He has "scoffed at the inhabitants" as "a nation of villagers" and "derided the 100-per-cent. American as 99 per cent an idiot." The result (as he sees it) is that "the Americans just adore me and will go on adoring me until in a moment of senile sentimentality I say something about them, when they will at once begin to suspect me of being a cheap skate after all and drop me like a hot potato."
In the words of Archibald Henderson: "Long before Mrs Warren's Profession was 'suppressed' in New York, Shaw had developed a taste for the sport of baiting the patriotic 100 per cent American."
Here is a highly characteristic Shavian deliverance:
"Although in no
country in the world are private affairs more prudishly meddled with
by State law, lynch law, and municipal by-law, America sacrifices her
women to her profligacy and her children to her greed more impudently
than any European tyranny does."
"Law is represented, not by the regulation of industry, the enforcement of statutes and the maintenance of political rights, but partly by a lynching mob countenanced by respectable people who, though they abhor its hypocrisy and cruelty, support it because they have lost faith in the honesty and efficiency of the regular courts; partly by the retainers of the great capitalists organized by the late eminent condottiero Pinkerton, the American Colleoni; and partly by municipal employes armed with bludgeons and pistols, who will not allow the State laws and local by-laws to be broken (if they can help it) unless they are bought off, and who maintain this advantageous position by regulating traffic, violently suppressing casually obnoxious persons, and doing homage to purity (which in America is a quaint conspiracy to convict creation of indecency) by confiscating the property and incarcerating the persons of those whom Mr Anthony Comstock, the celebrated purity witch doctor, points out to them as betrayers of the shocking secret that women are bipeds. Idiocy and nothing else is what is the matter with America."
Shaw has built up an American legend of Shaw as the sort of person
Shaw could not possibly be in the person of Shaw the guest of
perfectly decent Americans on American soil. Shaw is much too
decent a fellow for that - much too genial a gentleman. But the
legend has taken hold and become a considerable asset. There was
also the dramatic attitude. Shaw's business is spoiling other
people's attitudes - not his own. Worth much was the singularity of
staying away from a country to which most English authors made such
frequent visits for profit or pleasure that they had ceased to
attract any attention at all. Clearly, the longer the
invitation to come was resisted, the more resounding would be
the eclat of the occasion when Mr Shaw did come. Here, for one of
the busiest players on the world's stage, was a sure-fire act to keep
But, as a matter of fact, Shaw until quite recent years has not been a notable traveler. Like most anti-imperialists in the tight little island he is at heart a Little Englander - though an Irishman born. Until he married a wife given to travel - and that was late in life - he was not one to stray far from the beaten track of the European Continental tourist. His curiosity is not the sort that makes a wanderer upon the face of the physical universe. His field of exploration is that of the mind and that field is as easy to study in London as in trotting about the globe.
Shaw goes to the Riviera, like any superior British tripper, for the sunshine and the swimming and the posing with pretty ladies on the sands. He goes to Moscow (at last), not to see Russia, but to observe a new social experiment in his own fancied line. The touring bee having got him, he goes to South Africa and motors about (they say he is a speed demon at the wheel) until he drives himself into a ditch. The next adventure is a tour about the world, like any other elderly man seeing the sights with his wife - like Babbitt, for example.
The world tour brings our critic to the Pacific Coast of the country where is the reputed capital of the movies. Mr Shaw has got into the movies and delights in playacting on the screen. He has got that way since the theater has gone bad and ceased to be so profitable and exciting as it used to be. What more natural than to visit Hollywood? The rest is easy. That common sense for which Mr Shaw is famous dictates that he shall make his way back to England, if not across this benighted continent, at least by way of the Atlantic and not backward on the world-tour track by way of the Pacific, Asia and Africa.
The expatriate Irishman is, or course, very little if at all curious about a nation of villagers - of Comstock and Comstockery. He has told us many times how meanly he thinks of our backward state of culture, of our outworn social, political and economic vagaries and our sham prudery, our deluded worship of big business, of our prohibition that does not prohibit and our other laws that proscribe Darwin to vindicate Genesis. "America is rapidly reverting to barbarism," he has written. When it is gone clean Redskin it will be really worth inspecting.
a country of lynch law, gunmen and kidnappers is not the sort of
country that any intellectual superman would choose for a holiday
playground. To a man interested in new ideas and not in
record-breaking, sky-piercing structures of steel, the Empire State
Building does not operate as a lure. What interests Mr Shaw even
less is a country so far behind Europe in general and Russia in
particular in socialistic experiment toward a new and better era of
government. After Hollywood, the interior of the country may be
conveniently avoided by a world-tourist by ship. In the beaten
hurried way of such a tourist, however, a day can be spared for New
York, where the Empress of Britain, on which Shaw is a passenger, is
due April 11.
What is not to be forgotten is the record behind this fast-foot passage through our gates. All those thirty years past, since Shaw began to be known over here as the author of dangerous plays like Mrs Warren's Profession and Man and Superman and Candida, subversive of morals and rebel to right rules of playmaking; author likewise of irreverent skits like The Devil's Disciple, The Man of Destiny and Arms and the Man, outrageously flouting romantic heroic attitudes - in those three decades, he has refused to expend the emoluments of his American reputation on American soil.
He has rejected fabulous offers for lecture tours. He has resisted the temptation to direct his own plays in New York which accepted him as a playwright before London was brought around to that point. Not even for Theater Guild's opening of its new house, with Shaw in the place of Shakespear as England's classic dramatist, would he cross the ocean.
No amount of money could induce him to accept the job of reporting our quadrennial Presidential conventions for newspapers eager to give the public a brand-new sensation in connection with our peculiar form of Olympic game with the sporting spirit running every bit as high as in old Hellas, but with prizes very different from wreaths of wild olive.
Americans at home had never heard or seen Bernard Shaw even on the screen until 1930. But presently two and a half millions of Americans saw and heard him in a span of two weeks. By now the voice and the face of the famous GBS are not strange to a great many of us. But the amazing quality of his sanguine complexion and the exquisite whiteness of his hair and beard are things which the camera refuses to record, while the rest of the machine hands on the accent of modern prophet who dares to speak eighteenth-century Irish (not Gaelic) in the twentieth century and does it so that it sounds like perfectly up-to-date English.
0836 Lr scoring his treatment of her
the Editor of The New York Times: "Though I speak with the
tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." And so let us not
through our outraged emotions over Bernard Shaw's odious
treatment of Helen Keller be drawn into the same grievous error as
the great writer.
Toward a reformer who has scorned traditional assumptions and penetrated to the heart of the faulty systems and laws that make up our civilization charity is due in the same ratio that is due to our great ideal, Helen Keller. That he failed to recognize this was due partly to a physiological reason and partly to his innate or developed desire on all occasions to make shattering pronouncements that are heralded by the newspapers of the world. The playboy has to live up to the world's conception of him.
The physiological reason was simply that he was sleepy. Shaw is more than 70 years old and he was awakened from a nap to go into Lady Astor's drawing-room to greet Helen Keller. There may have been two purposes working in his recently aroused brain. Helen Keller's case is a "traditional assumption." She is blind, and the normal thought-process of the normal person would be exceptional deference for this very reason. Shaw had to shatter this tradition. She is a celebrity, and we all know that celebrities are anathema to one another. I spent an unforgettable day at Cliveden, Lady Astor's country place, with Mr and Mrs Shaw several years ago. Shaw was genial, tender and amiable, but then I am not a celebrity. If Shaw had been 10 instead of more than 70, I am sure Lady Astor, whose beautiful sense of charity is renowned, would have spanked him and put him back to bed.
Let us forgive Shaw, to whom we owe a great debt, knowing in our heart of hearts that he did not intend to be brutal to Helen Keller. He is a superb actor and he could not refrain on this inauspicious occasion from play-acting.
0835 H Keller's opinion of him
Miss Keller finds a flaw in Shaw. She discerns it in his remarks
about all Americans are deaf, dumb, and blind. But blind author
feels after interview at Lady Astor's home that he does not reach
genius. You should have no conviction for as Nietzsche puts it
convictions are prisons.
"Mr Shaw hacks at our most cherished traditions and cares not where the chips fall. He is as elemental as the lightning that clears the atmosphere. Like Calvin he would send the human race to hell for the sake of a logical conclusion. My personal admiration for GBS is genuine and deep. The flashlights of his mind have flashed strong rays into the physical darkness which I have known since infancy.
"Pygmalion meant much but long before they were embossed in Braille my teacher spelled into my hand Mr Shaw's electrifying challenges of society. I shall never forget the thrill of seeing Pygmalion for the first time in Chicago with Mrs Patrick Campbell in the role of the cockney girl whose outlandish dialect was translated into speech of a lady through the road genius of an expert of phonetics. I understand that play so well. The difficulties that confronted me when I learned to speak were far greater than the cockney girl ever dreamed of. At the age of nineteen months my ears were sealed and as a result of deafness in a very short time I became mute also. When my teacher, Ann Sullivan Macy first came to me, language of any sort had no meaning for me. I could utter only primitive sounds. I was a child of seven when I assayed the heart breaking task of learning to speak. So language and speech have a deeper meaning to me than to those who learn them normally.
"From the night I "saw" Pygmalion I wanted to meet Mr Shaw and tell him how wonderfully I thought he had depicted the intricacies of speech. This desire persisted through the years and grew through stronger emotional feelings with every play he wrote. His St Joan moved me profoundly. It seemed to me that his interpretation of the Maid of Orleans was truer than any other I had read not even excepting Mark Twain's masterpiece. I wished more than ever to touch the hand that had written so understandingly about St Joan.
"Some of this intense interest in Mr Shaw must have been evident to Lady Astor when at a luncheon she gave me during my visit to London I talked to her about him for she said, "you two must meet each other." A few days later, Lady Astor telephoned to invite Ann Sullivan Macy, my teacher, Polly Tompkins, our secretary, and myself to her house at 3:30 in the afternoon to meet GBS. I do not recall ever being so excited over meeting someone as I was that day. I wanted intensely to get the feeling of the man as I am so often able to do from a hand clasp or a few minutes of intimate conversation.
"Lady Astor received us in her drawing room with all the cordialities and charm that make her beloved by everyone who knows her. She told us Mr Shaw was taking a nap. While we waited I became more and more excited, the moments were spilling away and we had another engagement and I was afraid I should lose the opportunity I had anticipated for so many years. At last he appeared at the doorway. He stood there poised for a few seconds surveying the room with a whimsical expression. Mrs Macy's hand tapped into mine rapidly describing him. I listened breathless and tense with expectation.
"I had met kings and queens, distinguished writers and poets, scientists and philosophers, statesmen and great religious leaders of men, but here was GBS, the climax. Here was a man whose mind I thought I understood, a man whose mind I thought I understood, a man whose ideas had made the world sit up and take notice. I held out my hand, he took it indifferently. I could scarcely believe my sensation. Here was a hand bristling with egotism as a scotch thistle with thorns, it was not the sort of hand that you'd associate with the compassionate interpreter of Joan of Arc. "I am so happy to meet you," I said inanely. "I've wanted to know you for so long."
"Why do all you Americans say the same thing," he taunted? "Why do you hate us Americans so," I murmured? "I don't hate you," he answered. Mrs Macy's hand gave me the inflection of his voice which implied that Americans could never rise to the level of contempt. "Then why don't you come to America," I asked? "Why should I, Americans come to see me."
"Lady Astor laid her hand on his arm and shook it a little while as if he were a child behaving badly before company. "Shaw," she said, "don't you realize that this is Helen Keller? She is deaf and blind."
"His answer must have shocked everybody but a few moments passed before I knew what it was. A quiver ran through Mrs Macy's hand - I was shut off from the scene and I stood wondering and waiting. Then Mrs Macy spelled to me what Mr Shaw had said: "Why of course, all Americans are deaf, and blind,.....and dumb."
"Theres a flaw in the sparkling vessel. Mr Shaw may shine before our eyes with the brightness of an archangel which goes to the making of a friend of man. There is nothing in Mr Shaw of sympathetic imaginativeness which enables other great men to understand human beings. He has sacrificed emotion to intellect, intuition to reason. His refusal to see any good in human institutions had ended with an inability to respect personality. There are no mellowing shadows in his mind. Every inch of it is relentlessly glaring - no sense of dreams or mystery abides there.
"Mr Shaw is the sort of person who is never happy unless he is making someone thoroughly uncomfortable. That is not to say that Mr Shaw is a great humanist. He protests vigorously against infliction of unnecessary pain against man and beasts. But his humanism is collective without being individual. He is so magnificently self-confident and self-sufficient he cannot conceive of the possibility that weakness and hesitation may go hand and hand with spiritual strength and radiancy.
0834 Talks with General Araki and Premier Saito in Tokyo
3/9/33 Bernard Shaw leaves tomorrow after a three-day visit that has
convinced the Japanese of the reality of Shavianism. Finding that
Japanese reporters could not be evaded. Mr Shaw conquered them by
kindness and talked nearly an hour to fifty of them before he landed.
The imbecility of the American, British and Japanese systems of
government, the horrors of modern cities of which the Japanese are so
proud, and the futility of war, patriotism and the League of Nations
were among the subjects on which his wit subsequently sparkled in
Mr Shaw spent two hours talking to General Sadao Araki, Minister of War, who found it difficult to appreciate his praises of communism but easy to endorse his remark that all existing Communists should be exterminated as the first step toward true communism. Today Mr Shaw saw Premier Saito. They discussed aids to longevity, a topic on which they might have agreed to differ, as Premier Saito has not found wine, meat or tobacco a hindrance to a green old age.
0833 Statement to Japanese reporters on Chinese-Japanese campaign in Jehol
3/3/33 Bernard Shaw, British author and playwright, referring to the
Japanese campaign in Jehol Province, told a group of Japanese
reporters here today that "the European war was imperialistic,
yet it led to the disappearance of three empires." Mr
Shaw, who is on a world tour, continued: "Have you in Japan
ever thought that in your imperialistic aims you may end as a
republic, and that is not at all what your rulers want? European
imperialists, or what is left of them, would give their eyes for the
return on 1914."
He urged Japan to adopt birth control to solve population problems.
"There is no reason," said he, "why Japan should continue to expand and demand the right to overflow other countries which naturally resent an influx of a lower civilization."
0832 Int by Japanese reporters on arrival at Beppu; says he hates sports
at Beppu this morning on his round-the-world trip, Bernard Shaw faced a barrage of questions by thirty Japanese reporters with
'You are 77 years old,' said one reporter. 'What is the secret of your longevity?'
"I don't know a secret of longevity," he said. "I lead an abnormal life; that's all I know about it."
'What is your favorite sport?' he was asked.
"I detest all sports. They only cause bad manners and ill feelings. International sports meetings sow seeds of war," was the reply.
'Will the talkies kill the legitimate drama?' a reporter inquired.
"Never; the talkie is unnatural in every respect," he answered. "Listen to me. If my voice is magnified like this [shouting], is that pleasant?"
'Have you a message for the Japanese women"' he was then asked.
"I never give messages. They are a waste of space," he concluded.
0831 Lr on welcoming him as literary genius
0830 On nationalism, on arrival at Peiping
all the 30,000,000 Chinese in Manchuria were to become Nationalists
in the Irish way, the Manchrian problem would be solved, Bernard Shaw said today. He is visiting Peiping on a world cruise.
"There is a Japanese soldier pointing a rifle at every Chinese inhabitant," he said, "but keeping down nationalism is like sitting on a horse's head - there's no time to do anything else. The Chinese should study communism. It has features which must be adopted by every civilized country which wants to avoid bankruptcy. Cheap labor is the ruin of China. What she needs is industrial progress."
0829 Excerpts from musical criticisms in London World, 1890-94
2/19/33 It is worth while to peruse the collection of criticisms of musical performances that Bernard Shaw wrote for The World in London during the years 1890-94. Of one crime Shaw has seldom been guilty: the crime of dullness. He filled his column week in and week out with commentary that was always diverting and frequently more than that. But remarks preliminary to citation of GBS's paragraphs are dilatory and disadvantageous to the remarker. Let us glance therefore at the first of the three volumes of the collected musical criticisms, and let Shaw speak for himself.
He makes haste to affirm his passion and prejudice as a critic. "Somebody," he says, "has sent me a cutting from which I gather that a proposal to form a critics' club has reached the very elementary stage of being discussed in the papers in August. Now, clearly a critic should not belong to a club at all. He should not know anybody; his hand should be against every man and every man's hand against his. Artists insatiable for the richest and most frequent doses of praise; entrepreneurs greed for advertisement; people without reputations who want to beg or buy them ready made; the rivals of the praised; the friends, relatives, partisans and patrons of the damned; all these have their grudge against the unlucky Minos in the stalls, who is himself criticized in the most absurd fashion.
"People have pointed out evidences or personal feeling in my notices as if they were accusing me of a misdemeanor, not knowing that a criticism written without personal feeling is not worth reading. It is the capacity for making good or bad art a personal matter that makes a man a critic. The artist who accounts for my disparagement by alleging personal animosity on my part is quite right; when people do less than their best, and do that less at once badly and self-complacently, I hate them, loathe them, detest them, long to tear them limb from limb and strew them in gobbets about the stage or platform. (At the opera, the temptation to go out and ask one of the sentinels for the loan of his Martini, with a round or two of ammunition, that I might rid the earth of an incompetent conductor or a conceited and careless artist, has come upon me so strongly that I have been withheld only by my fear that, being no marksman, I might hit the wrong person and incur the guilt of slaying a meritorious singer.)
"In the same way, really fine artists inspire me with the warmest personal regard, which I gratify in writing my notice without the smallest reference to such monstrous conceits as justice, impartiality and the rest of the ideals. When my critical mood is at its height, personal feeling is not the word; it is passion; the passion for artistic perfection - for the noblest beauty of sound, sight and action - that rages in me. Let all young artists look to it and pay no heed to the idiots who declare that criticism should be free from personal feeling. The true critic, I repeat, is the man who becomes your personal enemy on the sole provocation of a bad performance, and will only be appeased by good performances. Now this, though well for art and for the people, means that the critics are, from the social and clubable point of view, veritable fiends. They can only fit themselves for other people's clubs by allowing themselves to be corrupted by kindly feelings foreign to the purpose of art, unless, indeed, they join Philistine clubs, wherein neither the library nor the social economy of the place will suit their nocturnal, predatory habits. If they must have a club, let them have a pandemonium of their own, furnished with all the engines of literary vivisection. But its first and most sacred rule must be the exclusion of the criticized, except those few stalwarts who regularly and publicly turn upon and criticize their critics. (No critics' club would have any right to the name unless it included - but the printer warns me that I have reached the limit of my allotted space.)" Bravo!
"He did not like Ponchielli's 'Gioconda.' Again, bravo! Here are some of the reasons: "Shakespear set all the dramatic talent in England wasting itself for centuries on bombast and bad plank verse; Michael Angelo plunged Italian painting into an abyss of nakedness and foreshortening. Handel plagued our serious music with a horrid murrain of oratorio; Ibsen will no doubt open the stage to all the Pecksniffery and Tartuffery in Europe with his didactic plays; and Verdi is tempting many a born quadrille composer of the South to wrestle ineffectually and ridiculously with Shakespear and Victor Hugo.
"To me, the kinship between 'La Gioconda' and 'Ernani' or 'Rigoletto' is hardly closer than that between 'Vortigern' and 'Macbeth'; and I feel as comfortably superior to the critics and musicians who cannot see much difference between Ponchielli and Verdi as I do to those who could not see any at all between the boyish forger Ireland and Shakespear. It would have been kinder, even when Ponchielli was alive, to tell him frankly that all his strainings at the bow of Ulysses were not bending it one inch - that Donizetti's 'Lucrezia' and even Marchetti's 'Ruy Blas' are better than his far more elaborate and ambitious setting of 'Angelo.'"
"To Gluck he rendered homage, remarking that any one could see "before the curtain is half a minuet up that it ['Orfeo'] grew, by the introduction of vocal music, not into chaos but into an elaborate existing organization of ballet. The opening chorus, 'S' in questo bosco,' sounds nobly to people who are looking at groups of figures in poetic motion or eloquent pose, at draperies falling in graceful lines and flowing in harmonious colors, and at scenery binding the whole into a complete and single picture." There was, it appears, a clumsy and inadequate presentation of this scene, "but 'Orfeo' triumphed in spite of them. Listening to the strains of the Elysian Fields the other night I could not help feeling that music had strayed far away from them, and only regained them the other day when Wagner wrote the Good Friday music in 'Parsifal.' No musical experience in the journey between these two havens of rest seems better than either. The 'Zauberflote' and the Ninth symphony have a discomforting consciousness of virtue, and uphill effort of aspiration, about them; but in the Elysian Fields, in the Good Friday meadows virtue and effort are transcended; there is no need to be good and strive upward any more; one has arrived, and all those accursed hygenics of the soul are done with and forgotten. And it is because I have also been in the Good Friday meadows that I can now see, more clearly than any one could before 'Parsifal,' how exactly Gluck was the Wagner of his day - things that would have been violently disputed by Berlioz, who was, nevertheless, almost as good a critic as I.
"Listen to 'Orfeo,' and you hear that perfect union of the poetry and the music - that growth of every musical form, melodic interval, harmonic progression, and orchestral tone of some feeling or purpose belonging to the drama - which you have only heard before in the cantatas of Bach and the music drama of Wagner. Instead of the opera-making musician, tied to his poem as to a stake, and breaking loose whenever it gives him an excuse for a soldier's chorus, or a waltz, or a crashing finale, we have the poet-musician who has no lower use for music than the expression of poetry."
"Maurel's 'Rigoletto' "utterly effaced Lessalle's heavy, stilted, egotistic, insincere attempt of last season. Therefore, if I were to say that Maurel is a great actor among opera singers, he might well retort, 'Thank you for nothing; in the country of the blind the one-eyed is King.' So I will put it this way - that his 'Rigoletto' is as good a piece of acting as Edwin Booth's 'Triboulet'; while the impression it makes is deeper, and the pleasure it gives greater, by just so much as Verdi is a greater man than Tom Taylor, which is saying a great deal."
He was attacked for suggesting that "Parsifal" should be given at Covent Garden. "For the life of me I cannot see why the recent suggestion should be scouted as 'profane.' I leave out of the question the old-fashioned objection, founded on the theory that all playhouses and singing halls are abodes of sin. But when a gentleman writes to the papers to declare that 'a performance of "Parsifal," apart from the really religious surroundings of Bayreuth Theater, would amount almost to profanity,' and, again, that 'in the artificial glare of an English opera house it would be a blasphemous mockery,' I must take the liberty of describing to him the 'really religious surroundings,' since he admits that he has never seen them for himself.
"In front of the Bayreuth Theater, then, on the right there is a restaurant. On the left there is a still larger restaurant and a sweetstuff stall. At the back, a little way up the hill, there is a cafe. Between the cafe and the theater there is a shed in which 'artificial glare' is manufactured for the inside of the theater; and the sound of that great steam engine throbs all over the Fichtelberg on still nights. [This review, it will be remembered, appeared before the turn of the century.]
"Between the acts the three restaurants are always full, not of devout Wagnerites (the Meister advocated vegetarianism], but of Spiers and Pondites, who do just what they will do at the Star and Garter when my Festspielhaus on Richmond Hill is finished. The little promenade in front of the theater is crowded with globe-trotters, chiefly American and vagabond English, quite able to hold their own in point of vulgarity, frivolity, idle curiosity and other perfectly harmless characteristics with the crowd in the foyer at Covent Garden or the Paris Opera. What sanctity there is in all this that is not equally attainable at Boulogne or Bayswater remained to be explained."
He ridicules Brahms, and talks rather ignorantly about him. He bends the knee to Mozart, to the Handel who is so often misrepresented and who, as he claims, has fastened such bad musical habits on the English public. He protests against "the insufferable lumbering which is the curse of English Handelian choral singing." He underrates "Cavalleria Rusticana" when it burst upon the English scene, but is singularly clear-eyed about the essential nature of the piece. "Although I have not, at the moment of writing this, seen 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' my refusal to buy the score has not left me in total ignorance of the work. The fact is, I have heard the music of 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' and can certify that it is a youthfully vigorous piece of work, with abundant snatches of melody broken obstreperously off on one dramatic pretext or another. But, lively and promising as it is, it is not a whit more so than the freshest achievements of Hamish MacCunn and Mr Cliffe[!]. The people who say, on the strength of it, that Verdi has found a successor and Boito a competitor, would really say anything. Mascagni has shewn nothing of the originality and distinction that would entitle him to such a comparison. If he had, I am afraid I should now be defending him against a chorus of disparagement. Already I have read things about 'Cavalleria Rusticana' which would require considerable qualification if they were applied to 'Die Meistersinger' or 'Don Giovanni.'"
know one critic who has consistently refused to heed the
blandishments of publishers and write a book, his fundamental
reason being the he never wishes to be confronted a decade later by
the things he thought and wrote ten years before, collected and in
print. Mr Shaw is a little more reckless. His volume contains this
"There are people who will read about music and nothing else. To them dead prima donnas are more interesting than saints, and extinct tenors than mighty conquerors. They are presumably the only people who will dream of reading these three volumes. If my wisdom is to be of any use to them it must come in this form. And so I let it go to them for what it is worth." It is worth reading.
0828 Lr urging silence on his visit to U S as reproof for statements about U S
it not be a good thing to treat our expected visitor, G. B. S., with
the thunders of silence? He has gone out of his way to insult this
country by inane remarks, having in mind, of course, their repetition
and comment in the press. He thrives on publicity, loves to see his
blatherskite mouthings repeated, to write, being an undoubtedly
clever man, an irreverent book that is not only silly but offensive
to millions and harmful to youth. The thunders of silence
would, if not cure him, be a salutary lesson.
As I remember the story, a harmful power was achieved by publicity and such methods as G. B. S. uses. The newspapers got together and decided to omit any mention of the originator, to treat him with the "thunder of silence." A powerful story, so named, was written by Irvin S Cobb.
John Campbell Haywood
0827 Ignored by Siamese who cheer bro of King Prajadhipok
2/6/33 Bernard Shaw who usually holds the center of the stage at ports touched by the world-cruising Empress of Britain, lost the spotlight today when the liner reached Paknam, the port of Bangkok. Crowds of loyal Siamese were in evidence at the quay but they had never heard of Mr Shaw. They were there to shout godspeed to his Highness Prince Curbhatra, the brother of King Prajadhipok, who is proceeding to Manila on the world-touring steamship. The Prince and the playwright did not meet before the Empress of Britain sailed. Mr Shaw, who was on deck when the liner landed some of her passengers this morning, did not leave the ship during the stop.
0826 Book, Black Girl in Search of God, banned from Cambridge (Eng) Pub Library
2/3/33 Bernard Shaw's latest book, Black Girl in Search of God, has been
banned by the Cambridge Public Library. At a meeting of the Town
Council today it was stated that the heated discussion in committee
showed that religious feeling in Cambridge was stronger than in many
other towns in Britain.
0825 Refuses to take part in ceremony of crossing equator
old non-conformist, Bernard Shaw, who is on his way to the
United States by way of the South Seas, defied Father Neptune himself
today in the ceremony of "crossing the line."
A member of the crew of the round-the-world steamship Empress of Britian came over the side as Father Neptune but he looked more like Mr Shaw himself. Most of the other passengers submitted to the ritual of shaving and baptism on the sundeck, but Mr Shaw remained a spectator on the sidelines
0824 Caricature, with rev of his biography, by A Henderson
years have passed since Archibald Henderson published his first
"authorized" biography of Bernard Shaw. He proposed
himself for the task by mail. Shaw took him on as Boswell - then a
raw young American from the North Carolina hills - with his
photograph as principal testimonial. Shaw's Boswell he has remained.
Two whole decades have accumulated a vast amount of Shaviana not
included in Henderson's original work. Nothing more logical,
therefore, than for Henderson to write another biography of Shaw
(Bernard Shaw: Playboy & Prophet) - another "authorized"
biography, a critical survey of a career now covering a span to
It is a career so extraordinary that 900 pages may well be expended in the effort to do justice to the man and his accomplishment. A conscientious biographer must not shirk the task merely because Mr Shaw himself has written Heaven knows how many pages brilliantly illuminating the entire field of operations. Quite the contrary. The more Shaw writes about Shaw the more there is to write about Shaw. For, says Henderson, Shaw vainly imagines himself able to explain himself to the general public - to tell the truth about himself so that the face of the truth may plainly appear. This in spite of Shaw's extremely high rating among masters of the art of lucid exposition - his superlative ability to put straight thinking into forthright words. Henderson is only moderately accomplished that way. But he is not afraid and he sticks every-lastingly at it.
People have wondered sometimes why Shaw accepted Henderson as Boswell. Partly - you gather from Henderson's own account - the reason was the same which induced Dr Johnson to accept the original Boswell - the flattery of persistent idolatry. But Shaw is a sly fellow not altogether the slave of his vanity.
The versatile and nimble-witted Irishman sometimes thinks too fast for the crowd - can by no means bring himself to think slow enough for part of the crowd. His mocking humor takes sharp turns in high around corners that serious-minded folk are happier doing in low. Henderson tags after Shaw in low and passes him on like a slow-motion picture to just such people.
Thus the Shaw following is notably enlarged. It is made to include persons who could never get Shaw first hand. Shaw, especially in his role of prophet of a new social era, has been vitally concerned with extending his influence - and Henderson has (as Shaw says) done him signal service. Henderson believes that it was himself more than anybody else who won America for Shaw twenty years ago. He exaggerates his influence, of course. Mansfield and Arnold Daly, with their performances of Shaw plays, did much more to fire the train of public curiosity and the published plays themselves did the rest. Those of us who were in New York in the first decade of this century saw the thing happen under our eyes - watched the process work of shocking the public into attention.
To another group of readers the North Carolina Boswell's method of explaining Shaw by translating him to slow motion seems to be fatal to Shaw. In the process the essence of Shaw disappears. The sharp edge of his wisdom and his wit is dulled, the flavor and fillip of his folly is extracted, his humor is smudged out. People who feel this way about Henderson's Shaw may, of course, elect to read, instead of Henderson, Shaw himself. But even these people will find in Henderson's massive book with its amusing collection of pictures - including many delectable caricatures of the hero - a great deal of interest. Scattered through the volume are numerous exhilarating letters of Shaw not published before or not conveniently get-at-able where they are published, here and there, in the biographies of the people they were written to. For Shaw has cooperated handsomely with Henderson. He has even collaborated with Henderson - sometimes with his tongue in his cheek. The "authorized" biographer of a great man has privileges. The authorized biographer of Bernard Shaw has behind him the most incorrigible autobiographer in the world.
One of the matters which Henderson labors most earnestly to explain is the relation of Shaw to Shakespear. The biographer is honestly afraid that people will think that the author of Candida and Saint Joan really looks down on the author of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet as an inferior playwright, that the condescension of a vegetarian Fabian Socialist or Soviet Communist to a mere lusty meat-eating Elizabethan will be mistaken for an artistic superiority instead of a merely moral superiority. The fact is that moral superiority is a special product of the nineteenth century. Shaw, far in advance of his time as he thought himself till he came to write Too True to Be Good, was, after all, born plumb in the middle of the nineteenth century. He cannot for the life of him get rid of the color of that century - even in the third decade of a century which makes no pretension to morals of any sort.
Obviously no estimate of Mr Shaw by an "authorized" biographer and confessed and confirmed (though familiar) idolator need be taken too seriously. Henderson counts his hero the fellow, if not the twin, immortal with Shakespear in the pantheon of the English drama, accepts him as a superman among us moderns and a true and mighty prophet, in spite of his disguise of motley and cap and bells. At the same time he quotes Shaw's classification of himself as a journalist, first, last and all the time. Apparently Shaw does not admit that all of journalism is perishable stuff. But no veteran journalist - not Mr Shaw or any other - can really believe that much that is live journalism is safely ear-marked for immortality.
Ibsen was a journalist - a topical exploiter for the stage of strictly contemporary social phases. Ibsen, though acclaimed a master dramatist, is not nearly so exciting as a classic as he was as an idol breaker - what time Shaw and William Archer were fighting to get him into London theaters, and what time for the sweet sake of getting the Norwegian in, Shaw seemed to be willing to throw Will of Stratford to the wolves along with Sir Henry Irving and Sardoodledom. The same is true of Shaw's plays, for all Shaw's excellent mastery of the dramatic art. The prophet and the journalist overshadow the artist, and by just so much is the artist in the long run doomed to defeat.
You do not of course have to agree with the reviewer. You may go the whole way with the worshipful Henderson. But the combination of playboy and prophet which he proposes seems to be far beneath the measure of the real worth and dignity of Bernard Shaw.
0823 Arrives in Bombay; would urge Gandhi to give up job; comment on Indian affairs
1/9/33 Bernard Shaw arrived in India for the first time today, confessing
his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi as "a clear-headed man who
occurs only once in several centuries." Bronzed by the Eastern
sun, Mr Shaw stood on the deck of the Empress of Britain, which is
taking him on a world cruise, and gave Indian newspaper men
rapid-fire opinions of the Mahatma and Indian affairs generally.
"It is very hard for people to understand Gandhi, with the result that he gets tired of people and threatens a fast to kill himself," Mr Shaw said. "If I saw Gandhi I should say to him, 'Give it up, it is not your job.' The people who are the most admired are the people who kill the most. If Gandhi killed 6,000,000 people he would instantly become an important person. All this talk of disarmament is nonsense, for if people disarm they will fight with their fists."
Referring to Mr Gandhi's present crusade against Untouchability, Mr Shaw said that if an English laborer proposed to marry a duchess he would very soon find out that he was an Untouchable. "That gives me enough to think about without bothering to know anything about the Indian Untouchables," said the author, with a grin. Indian affairs, he continued, would henceforth have to be dealt with by the Indians themselves.
"In any future disputes between the Indian and British Governments India must not expect any support from other countries," he declared. "From the viewpoint of population, India is the center of the British Empire. It is quite possible that in the future, instead of India wanting to be separated from England, the time will come when England would make a desperate struggle to get separated from India."
1/9/33 Brain power is not needed by a country desiring self-government, Bernard Shaw today told Indians desirous of autonomy. "England has got on very well for years without brains," Mr Shaw declared. He said that he did not intend to travel in India, but if Mahatma Gandhi indicated he wished to see him he would go to Poona.
0822 Comment of 40 yrs ago on Eng renditions of Handel's Messiah
English papers are still resounding with the interpretation given
Handel's "Messiah" at Christmas by Sir Thomas Beecham, the
English conductor who sojourned in New York last year as a guest
of the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra for part of the season. The
comments upon his performance vary. The tone of the review in
The Daily Telegraph is one of slightly scandalized remonstrance.
While the reviewer admits that the reading was 'electrifying,'
'dynamic,' 'vital,' there seems to be a feeling that the venerable
masterpiece was not treated with due decorum; that the bearded
traditions of solemnity which had grown up round the "Messiah"
had been yanked aside in no uncertain fashion, and that the vigorous
face revealed with the vanishing of these hirsute growths was perhaps
a disturbing one, for all its vitality.
The Saturday Review, on the other hand, after berating the soloists (with the exception of the bass, William Parsons) for their stolid insensitivity to the implications of text and music, proceeded to rejoice unrestrainedly in Beecham's reading. 'Fastidious listeners have avoided 'The Messiah' and 'Elijah' as they would avoid the plague,' it says, 'for the simple reason that the renderings have become so badly standardized that the music was left out. Beecham rediscovered 'Messiah' for us.'
In view of all this, it is amusing to turn the pages of English criticism for forty years ago and to come upon these remarks by no less a person than Bernard Shaw, who for four years delivered himself of weekly broadsides in The World.
"I might have attended the regulation Christmas performance of 'The Messiah,'" writes Mr Shaw indignantly, "but I have long since recognized the impossibility of obtaining justice for that work in a Christian country. Import a choir of heathens, restrained by no considerations of propriety from attacking the choruses with unembarrassed sincerity of dramatic expression, and I would hasten to the performance if only to witness the delight of the public and the discomfiture of the critics. That is, if anything so indecent would be allowed here. We have all had our Handelian training in church, and the perfect churchgoing mood is one of pure abstract reverence. A mood of active intelligence would be scandalous. Thus we get broken in to the custom of singing Handel as if he meant nothing; and as it happens that he meant a great deal and was tremendously in earnest about it, we know rather less about him in England than they do in the Andaman Islands, since the Andamans are only unconscious of him, whereas we are misconscious. To hear a thousand respectable young English persons joggling through 'For He shall purify the sons of Levi,' or lumbering along with 'Hallelujah' as if it were a superior sort of family coach is ludicrous enough; but when the nation proceeds to brag of these unwieldy choral impostures, these attempts to make the brute force of a thousand throats do what can only be done by artistic insight and skill, then I really lose patience. Why, instead of wasting huge sums on the multitudinous dullness called a Handel Festival, does not somebody set up a thoroughly rehearsed and exhaustively studied performance of the 'Messiah' with a chorus of twenty capable artists? Most of us would be glad to hear the work seriously performed once before we die."
0821 Plans to be in N Y 24 hrs; to make one s, before Acad of Pol Science, on Apr 11
1/8/33 Bernard Shaw is to spend only twenty-four hours in New York on his present trip around the world and will make only one address here, he has cabled Gabriel Wells. The address, which is to be about politics, will be delivered before the Academy of Political Science, according to the cablegram. Mr and Mrs Shaw embarked last month on a world cruise on the Empress of Britain, which is due in New York on April 11. Last fall the playwright denied that he would "visit" the United States, but said that he would "look in" in two cities - San Francisco and New York.