Typos p. 193: peope [= people]; p. 217: pharmacopæas [= pharmacopias]
The Metamorphosis of the Englishman of the Seventeenth Century
It will seem to some, perhaps, that I have dealt at unnecessary length with Charles I and his system of government. It is, however, difficult in a work intended for the general reader to avoid doing this, particularly when it is a matter of emphasising and substantiating a point of view which is neither universally taught, nor universally held, concerning this great Stuart monarch. For, despite what many may consider to be a fair criticism of this and the foregoing chapter, I myself can never regard them as an attempt to "whitewash" Charles I, as the journalistic jargon has it.
I had a much more important purpose to serve in writing them than the mere "whitewashing" of a man, however great, who has been dead for well over two centuries. For what purpose these acts of "whitewashing" are ever accomplished I cannot understand, unless, belike, they slake a sentimental thirst in the "whitewasher's" throat for justice on behalf of a dead hero.
I, at all events, am moved by no such empty purpose. I care little for the reader's opinion of Charles I as a hero or as a martyr. My chief concern, however, the matter which I really do take to heart, is rather to call attention to the last stand which was made in England against everything which to-day makes life so ugly, so wretched, so spiritless and so unhealthy. It is not my object to urge
It was my object in writing this and the preceding chapter to give at least the outlines of an answer to a Question which will soon be on all people's lips, the question as to when all the muddle and futility of our present civilisation began: what it was that has made it possible for every Englishman of to-day contentedly to point only to the exports and imports of his country, and not to her national beauty, culture, health, spirit or character, when called upon to indicate wherein her greatness lies. Apart from the fact that almost all this beauty, culture, health, spirit and character are dead. why is it that it would never occur to the average sane Englishman to imagine that it is necessary to refer to something more than trade returns to prove a nation's greatness?
The answer to this question Involves the wielding of such enormous masses of material that it would be absurd for me to pretend to give them all here. But that the bare outlines of it are drawn in these two chapters is certainly my earnest hope; while the fact that these outlines not only throw light on the principle of aristocracy, but also necessitate the discussion of Questions kindred and essential to it, is an adequate excuse for giving them at this stage in the present work.
By far the most impressive feature of our modern civilisation in England, is the unanimity with which certain
For this unanimity of opinion to have been imposed like a religion upon a nation, something in the nature of a grand feat of sacerdotal ingenuity must have been practised upon the English people. For, it should be borne in mind that the bulk of a nation do not create opinions, they simply accept them ready made. If, therefore, for the time being, we imagine a large priesthood deliberately inculcating upon a submissive people the doctrine that large trade figures and large colonies, alone, are the essential attributes of a great nation, under what circumstances are we to suppose that such a doctrine was submissively accepted?
It is one thing to say that opinions are not created by the majority of a people, but merely accepted by them, and quite another matter to suppose that all opinions once created are accepted by the bulk of the people. The first proposition is true, the second is false. For, the essential pre-requisite to the genera] acceptance of an opinion, is the readiness of the mental soil on which it is to be planted. Preach it, on the other hand, to a nation of women whose men are unworthy of the smallest sacrifice or of the smallest honour, and even if these women are free from undue arrogance or impudent self-esteem, their hearts will prove an unfavourable soil for this new moral plant. Preach it, on the other hand, to a nation of women thoroughly convinced of the genuine superiority, high
Before, therefore, the doctrine could be accepted that mere bulk and large trade-figures alone constituted the greatness of a nation, the mental soil of a people had to be prepared, tilled, manured and broken up, in a manner calculated to enable it to accept and prove favourable to this doctrine. Not only that, but the political attitude of mind which is favourable to the doctrine had also to be reared. For this doctrine is not one which is natural to healthy mankind. It is much more natural to healthy mankind to admire beauty, greatness of character, strength of will, spirit and body. It is much more natural to healthy and spirited mankind to admire health, grace, prowess and skill.
The peasants who fought and won Crécy, Poictiers and Agincourt would have been completely at a loss to understand what you meant had you told them that England was great because she could count her trade returns in so many hundreds of millions, and because the sun never set on her Empire. They would have felt that while such things might constitute greatness, if the ideals, the hearts, the health and the spirit of the nation were not great as well, they would mean nothing apart from these other attributes.
To-day, however, we can look on our vulgar culture of automobiles and general "smartness," we can contemplate our weak-kneed, lantern-jawed, pale-faced clerks and typists, we can inspect the ugliness of our huge cities, our slums, our hospitals, our factories and our lunatic asylums, and still say that England is great. Why is England
1 In regard to this question of the Suttee, it is interesting to note why and how it was prohibited by the English rulers of India. To the modern European it is rightly inconceivable that he should constitute so magic, so great, so valuable a part of any woman's life, that her self-immolation on his tomb could ever be a justifiable act of desperate sacrifice. Thus, to him, all such self-immolations of women on their husbands' tombs must be bad and unjustifiable. Therefore he rules the custom out of existence, as a futile superstition, because in his part of the world it would indeed be a futile superstition.
"But," objects the man of taste, the man who knows, "these things do not last, they are not necessarily great, and they do not lead to a powerful race." To-day, however, the man of taste has not only a powerful minority to contend with, as Charles I had, he has a whole nation, which knows its lesson so well, that every 'bus-conductor, cobbler, peer, duke, stockbroker, priest, artist, doctor, grocer, butcher, or architect, in it, says the same thing and believes the same thing about this doctrine of trade and bulk and wealth.
As I say, this unanimity of opinion is impressive. Can it be possible that it is the outcome of something in the nature of a religious faith?
It has often been said, and, I believe, with some reason, that the true religious spirit resides in the East, that the genuine religious founder is essentially an Oriental, and that the Occident understands little of the machinery needful for establishing a creed in the hearts of a people. Certainly, if we examine the methods of Manu, Moses and Mahommed those arch-geniuses in the art of the pia fraus we are amazed at the thoroughness and subtlety with which they contrived to weave a religion into the food and hygiene of a people so as literally to build up a fresh human physique that might with justice be called either a true Brahman, a true Israelite, or a true Mahommedan. No detail is overlooked. The follower of the true religion has everything prescribed for him, even his meditations.
And I think it would be quite wrong to suppose that the pious fraud was in each case a conscious deception. It is far more probable, in fact, certain, that Manu, Moses and Mahommed were unconscious of the twist they were giving to the weapon religion, and to the disciplinary thought of God, when they used both in order to separate
I do not mean to suggest, as Wilkinson does, that the pious fraud as practised upon the people by the ancient Egyptian priesthood, was wrong or necessarily reprehensible because it was conscious, or that, on the other hand, the unconscious pious fraud is always right and proper simply because it is unconscious. 1 I merely submit that there are many reasons for supposing that in the majority of cases the pious frauds of the past have been unconscious, and that they were all the stronger and all the more irresistible for being so. The characteristic which has always been common to them all, however, apart from their consciousness or unconsciousness, has invariably been that their object was to consolidate some race, community or group of communities, and to bind it by an internal relationship, based upon the most elaborate prescriptions for general conduct, diet, hygiene and spiritual occupation, until ultimately this internal relationship was stamped upon the faces and the bodies of the people.
Now it is precisely this art of the pia fraus which is said to be indigenous to the Orient, and which some would deny to the Occident in any form whatsoever.
It will be the object of this chapter, however, to prove, not only that the art of the pia fraus has also been practised with consummate skill in the West, but that this strange event happened as recently as the seventeenth century, here in England. Whether it was completely unconscious or not, I should not like to say, as I believe it would be possible to show that some of the greatest among its per-
1 The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, Vol. I, p. 178.
For, in this particular instance, it was again a matter of consolidating a scattered and more or less disorganised body of men, and of forming them into a solid phalanx which could not only wring submission from the rest of the nation, but also convert the rest of the nation to its own persuasion.
Thus, if the Anglo-Saxon becomes famous at all, and not merely egregious to posterity, it will be as a man of such religious ingenuity, of such mastery in the art of establishing a creed in the hearts and the bodies of a people, that his compeers will have to be sought among those very geniuses of exalted falsehood, such as Manu, Mahommed, Moses, and the rest of that ilk, who hitherto have enjoyed an exclusive and uncontested position of supremacy in the art of framing a lasting faith.
For a great problem presented itself to the soul of the British nation during the sixteenth and even more during the seventeenth century a problem with which conscious legislation battled and strove in vain, and one over which, in my private opinion, our greatest monarch, Charles I, forfeited his head.
The question to be decided was not only whether it was good to transform England from a land of agriculture and of homecrafts, into a capitalistic, commercial and factory-ridden country; but it was also necessary to discover a method whereby the people could be reconciled to the change most satisfactorily and thoroughly. We have seen how the Tudors and Stuarts fought against the first signs of the change, and how they sought to suppress the unscrupulous spirit of gain and of greed which sought to
But it was as if the most powerful element in the nation were bent upon having this new life, this new ideal the ideal of the giant urban population, with its smoky factories, its slums, its exploitation and its misery. And it was as if the old guardian angel of Great Britain forsook her for a while, in order to leave her to the tender mercies of the new religionists, the new fashioners of her fate, the Puritanical Traders.
For, if I dare to place these unconscious leaders beside Manu, Moses and Mohammed, it is because the object which their religion accomplished, could have been achieved by no other means.
It was a matter of making trade, commercialism, factories, capitalism and general shop-keeping, as we now know them, paramount and triumphant. To effect this change, however, it was essential that legions among the population of the British Isles should be depressed, reduced in body and spirit, rendered pusillanimous, weak, servile, anæmic, asexual, and in fact sick. It was necessary to have a vast army of willing slaves who would not be merely satisfied and content, not merely pleased and happy, but who would actually reach the topmost wave of their being, so to speak, in balancing themselves all day long, like stylite saints, upon office stools, in turning over the leaves of ledgers, invoice books and registers, or in manipulating the lever of a punching, a cutting, a rolling or a rocking machine.
Not only must their highest aspirations be towards asceticism, their very bodies must be converted into machines "below par" in vigour, sanguinity, energy and sexuality. Their ideals, their pleasures, their love of life must be transposed to a lower, sadder, more stoical and less spirited key. Work will-less, unattractive, thankless work, must be mechanically performed, without hope, without joy and without respite; save on the miserable and soul deadening sabbath. They must learn that beauty
Now, even in the towns, the population was still too spirited, too healthy and too tasteful, to accept with heart and soul the conditions necessary for creating modernity, as we modern Europeans know and understand it. While among the agricultural population, large numbers of whom were soon to be forced into the cities, things were even worse, from the standpoint of the new desiderata.
What, then, was the profound problem with which England began blindly to grapple in the seventeenth century? In essence it was this: to discover the religion essentially allied to trade and commerce! Which was the religion whose prescriptions concerning conduct, diet and hygiene, dovetailed most naturally with the requirements of the triumph of capitalistic industry? All great religions hitherto had, by means of a system of conduct, diet and hygiene, consolidated a certain scattered race, community or tribe. Which was the religion that would consolidate the masters and rear the slaves for that form of trade which is the characteristic creation of the last two centuries?
With the marvellous insight of the unconscious religious founder, the solution was discovered in the whole-hearted acceptance and promotion of Puritanism.
For though Puritanism had existed long before the middle of the seventeenth century though, indeed, it might be said that it had always existed, sporadically, locally and individually, all over the world like a disease or a mental idiosyncrasy it was not until the seventeenth century in England that the circumstances of life were propitious to its identification and union with a certain well-defined and perfectly distinct class of men and occupation the rising employers and employees engaged
And it was certainly more than mere chance which led to this union and identification of mechanical manufacture and trade pursued merely for gain and greed with Puritanism. For trade and mechanical manufacture, unguided and uncontrolled, have many ideals in common with Puritanism, and even if the events of the seventeenth century had turned out differently, the union of these two elements in the nation could not have been long delayed.
Strictly speaking, although the modern factory does not necessarily covet sickly, ugly and spiritless creatures for its working hands, robust health, beauty and high, unbendable spirits are not at all essential to its requirements; in fact, they may very often thwart its purpose, seeing that beauty lures very strongly to preoccupations quite irrelevant to the hopeless drudgery of ministering to machinery; while high spirits and robust health are notoriously hostile to that demand for meek submission and to confined and stuffy industry which the exigencies of a factory imply.
It is quite unessential to this demonstration to refer to the thousands and thousands of healthy English families among the proletariat who actually have been rendered sickly, and sometimes crippled, through factory work. All I need show is that the work of the factory and the ideals of the factory are as little concerned with the sacredness of beauty, robust health and high spirits, as are the ideals of the little tin chapel. It matters not to the employer, who is out for gain, and who has an almost unlimited supply of unskilled labour from which to draw his factory hands it matters not to such a man what the actual physical and spiritual conditions of his employees are like, provided only that they are just able to do his work. Neither is he concerned with the kind of children they bring into the world. The unskilled labouring proletariat and even the skilled, for that matter are but so much
For a whole body of people to submit to the awful ugliness, unhealthiness, hopelessness and squalor of town, coupled with factory life, it is almost a necessity that their spirits should be broken, that their best instincts with regard to beauty, the joy of life, the love of life, and the sacredness of robust health should have been corrupted or completely suppressed. They must not even taste of the happiness of a real, full and inspiriting existence; even their rest days must be gloomy, colourless, silent, shorn of beauty, bereft of high spirits and generally depressing; so that their appalling drudgery may not seem too intolerable by comparison. But a substantial portion of high spirits and of energy and vigour lies in the sex instinct, and in all the efforts and passions to which it gives rise. Sexuality, therefore, must not be either encouraged or fostered or even preserved in these working slaves; on the contrary, they must be taught that sex is horrible, that even dancing is, as Calvin taught, a crime equal to adultery.
And doctrines which apply to the factory or to the mine hand hold good with even greater force in the case of the office-clerk, the book-keeper, the office-worm! To these men who have to perch on a leather-covered stool all day, and the top wave of whose being is attained in
I do not require any outside confirmation for this description of the spiritual and physical pre-requisites of the factory and office slave; for the evidence of what I have written lies all about us to-day, and we need move very little further than to the High Street of our particular town or city, or city quarter, in order to realise to the full the unquestionable truth of the above statements. Still, an interesting and absolutely independent confirmation of my views came into my hands the other day, and as it raised no murmur of protest in the paper in which it was published, I have decided to quote it here not, mark you, as an authoritative substantiation of my attitude in this matter, but rather as evidence of the fact that my contention is not disputed even by the friends of commerce and capitalistic industry themselves.
In Reynolds's Newspaper of February 16, 1913, Mr. Herbert Kaufmann wrote as follows
"Cromwell was one of the ugliest men of his time. Pierpont Morgan has never been mistaken for Apollo.
"We don't look for achievement [we know what these business men mean by 'achievement'] in pink cheeks and classic features.
"We are pleased to behold clean and attractive men but we can't declare dividends on pulchritude.
This requires little comment. It is perfectly comprehensible. Certainly "a squinting hunchback" is more lovable to the business man than a handsome, well-built, healthy youth. Health, beauty and the high spirits that usually accompany them are difficult to reconcile with the requirements of a hideous office and its emasculating work. But the already emasculated cripple is a predestined plant for such an environment. And is the average anæmic, round shouldered and moist-fingered clerk so very far removed from the emasculated cripple?
And now let us turn to Puritanism in order that we may see at a glance how veritably it is the plighted mate of the industry and commerce of the modern world. In order to do this satisfactorily, however, it would be useful, in the first place, to understand who and what the Puritan is.
The Puritan is primarily and essentially a man "below par" either in vigour, in health, in sound instinct or in bodily wholeness; and that is why I say that, although Puritanism did not become an organised and powerful force until the seventeenth century in England, the Puritan, as such, has always existed sporadically, individually and locally, just as sick animals represent a certain percentage of all the animals born every year.
There are two conditions in -which a man may be suspicious and distrustful of life, and in which, therefore, he may enter into existence with a bodily prejudice against life. These two conditions are: first, ill-health and any kind of physiological botchedness; and, secondly, a state of disharmony, discord, violent disunion or anarchy of the passions.
The Puritan, as a sick man, is the man who, after having discovered by self-examination that the taking of any share in the full life of the passions, with all its violent thrilling joys and appetites, invariably leads to a state of painful debility and self-reproach (for morbid physical fatigue and a sickly condition of the body after any indulgence in the full joys of life are always interpreted by the mind of the sufferer in the terms of moral self-reproach), transfers this self-reproach to the whole of humanity, by arriving at the simple though erroneous dictum that "the joys of the flesh are bad."
He has not the healthy honesty to say "the joys of the flesh are bad for me"; he says more bitterly and more vindictively for there is a spark of envy in every invalid "the joys of the flesh are bad for all!" With the incredible selfishness of a sick, plague-stricken crow, he suspects the whole world of possessing his impoverished blood and vigour, and lays down the law for the universe, when the law in question applies only to his own repulsive body and to those that are like it.
Calvin, for instance, who did so much to entrench the power of Puritan Nonconformity after the Reformation, and who complained so bitterly to the Duke of Somerset concerning the "impurities" and "vices" of delightful, voluptuous, sleek and, alas! irretrievable "Merrie England," was a miserable, god-forsaken invalid who, racked with fevers, asthma, gout and the stone, dragged his foul body through this life as if the world were a mausoleum, and himself the gangrenous symbol of the death of all human joys.
What could such a belching, dyspeptic and badly functioning human wreck know about what was impure and what was vicious? To him any indulgence of the healthy and life-giving instincts, however slight, was a danger he dared not approach. To him all love must be the vilest and most deadly fornication; all healthy eating and drinking, the most loathsome of vices; and all merri-
And now let me turn to the other kind of Puritan, i. e. to the man who, though apparently in good health and possessed of a robust and vigorous frame, still suspects life and casts the blight of his distrust upon it. This is a man who, like Socrates, is conscious of having a whole host of evil demons pent up in his breast, and who has had neither the traditions of culture and of control, nor the necessary antecedents of regular living and healthy harmony, which would be favourable to imposing a measure upon his instincts. This is the man who has no practice, no bodily skill in imposing a limit, a sort of "no-further-shalt-thou-go!" upon his passions, and who, therefore, can see no difference between ordinary indulgence and excess. And, indeed, to him there is no difference between ordinary indulgence and excess; because he has not the wherewithal in his system to draw the line between the two. He has not the taste and instinctive discrimination of the healthy man which say "Stop!" when he has enough. His cure, then, his remedy, his only resource, in fact, if he would survive, is inhibition, prohibition, castration, or its equivalent in a milder form the blue ribbon of abstinence. Instinctively he joins hands with the first kind of Puritan who brings him his credo and morality cut and dried; and thus, in spite of his apparent health and vigour, you see him stalking through history, arm in arm with the sick Puritan and the man who is beneath all share in the joys of life. But the interesting point and the one which really concerns us here is that, from two totally different starting places, these two kinds of men arrive at precisely the same conclusion; and as in a nation as recently raised from barbarism as England was in the seventeenth century there is bound to be a very large number of men of the kind I have just described, it will easily be seen that once the more intelligent and more penetrating sick animals, like Calvin, took the lead and expounded the credo, the
The mental characteristics of the second kind of Puritan are these: like Maeterlinck, he is unable to portray a feast that is not an exhibition of the most uncontrolled gluttony; therefore, all feasting must be bad. Like Knox, he will be unable to think of women without picturing all the degradation and pollution to which excessive sexual intercourse leads; therefore all women must be bad. Like Maeterlinck, again, he will be unable to think of laughter and revelry without seeing the addled, imbecile condition to which excessive merriment may lead; therefore all merriment is bad. And like the Long Parliament of the seventeenth century, he will want to make man virtuous by legislation and by forbidding all those things which, while they make life worth living, do not belong to the category of pleasures in which the members themselves could indulge without making hogs of themselves.
The second kind of Puritan, therefore, is essentially a hog who has acquired a moral standard of judgment, and who wishes to transfer the necessary constraints he puts upon his unbridled passions to the whole of mankind. And in this he differs fundamentally from the man of sound and cultured tradition, whose instincts are both healthy and controlled, who can even allow himself, and does allow himself, a certain margin for feasts and bouts, and even orgies, at times; because he knows full well that his inner balance, his inner harmony, which is the outcome of generations of regular and disciplined living, will recover completely from any such occasional luxury. To this man there is nothing evil in the joys of the flesh. He incurs no danger when he indulges his natural appetites, and it is difficult for him to understand the frenzied hatred of the flesh which characterises the attitude of the Puritan.
The fact which it is essential for every one to remember, however, is that, springing though they did from two totally different causes in the one case ill-health, and in the other a lack of harmony in the instincts they both agreed in suspecting life, and in casting a slur upon even the healthy manifestation of her most fundamental instincts. And, as a result of this attitude, they naturally despised all such things as beauty, gaiety, high spirits and voluptuousness, which lure to life and to her joys, and which stimulate the functions of her most fundamental instincts.
Nor did they confine this hostility to the manifestation of beauty in the human body alone. They were literally incapable of any appreciation of beauty in the productions of the human mind and hand. Too ignorant to know how deeply high art and social order and permanence are related, and too tasteless in human matters to have any regard for things merely accessory to human life, the love of beautiful things was to them an incomprehensible vice, a morbid mania. Charles I, whose thoroughness in the art of governing found its inevitable counterpart in his nature in a consummate refinement of discrimination where artistic matters were concerned, was to them a monstrosity a dangerous eccentric. It has been said with reason that Charles "had a better taste in the fine arts and in elegant literature than any King of England before or since." 1 In any case it is certain that whatever power England has shown in the graphic arts has been due entirely to his initiative, and the pictures and statues which he was never tired of collecting throughout his
1 The Political History of England, Vol. VII, p. 126.
No wonder, however, that this aspect of Charles's character made no appeal to his enemies. For men who could cast a picture by Rubens into the Thames, who could smash the glorious painted windows and the images of Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's, and perform other untold deeds of barbarous iconoclasm all over the country, were scarcely the sort to ask themselves whether a monarch with taste were a rarity worth keeping. And the Puritan who in 1651 published the book called The Non-such Charles probably expressed the general impression, when he accused Charles of having squandered his money on "braveries and vanities, on old rotten pictures and broken-nosed marbles."
Now it requires no subtle ingenuity nor wilful bias to recognise the peculiar sympathy, the basic relationship,
1 Isaac Disraeli, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 400.
2 See Social England (edit. 1903), Vol. IV, pp. 229230.
3 The Royal Stuarts in their Connection with Art and Letters.
4 Op. cit. See also pp. 5658, Vol. I, of Ranke's History of England.
We have seen no less an authority than Dr. Cunningham proclaim the Puritan rebellion as the beginning of the commercial morality which is still supreme in the modern world, and I need only refer the reader back to my enumeration of the aims of this commercial morality for him to realise how inevitably it became and remained united with the morality of Puritanism.
Think of how much they had in common! A profound suspicion of flourishing, irrepressible, healthy and robust life; indifference and even antagonism to beauty whether in the human body or in art; hostility to strong sexuality and the high spirits it involves; a preference for mildness, meekness, inferiority of vigour, vitality and general viability; and above all a deteriorated love of life and of the joy of life, which would render millions not merely resigned and submissive, but actually content in town, factory and office surroundings.
With these elements in common, and with the unconscious desire behind them to pursue gain and wealth undisturbed by any higher, more tasteful or more national considerations, how could they help but wed, and fight hand in hand to exterminate the last vestige of patriarchal beauty, culture and solicitude for the people's welfare, which still clung to the social organisation of expiring Merrie England?"
But it is when we examine one by one the leaders and some of the most important agitators at the back of the Puritan Rebellion that we become convinced of this infallible association of Calvinistic proclivities with the shop, the factory, the warehouse or the office. For, although
Allow me to introduce them to you!
From two sources Buckle's History of Civilisation in England, Vol. II, 1 and an old volume, published in 1665, called The Loyall Martyrology, 2 by William Winstanley I have been able to collect a few names among the leaders of the Parliamentary and Puritanical party, together with the occupations their owners pursued, which, in addition to substantiating my contentions, ought to prove of interest to the reader; and these I shall now proceed to enumerate without any too elaborate comment
Joyce, highly respected in the army, had been a common tailor. He ultimately captured the King. 3
Colonel Pride was a drayman, 4 ultimately became a brewer. 5
Venner, one of the most distinguished of the powerful party after Charles's death, was a wine-cooper. 6
Tuffnel, distinguished like Venner, was a carpenter. 7
Okey had been a stoker in an Islington brewery, 8 and later on was a chandler near Bishopsgate. 9
Cromwell, as every one knows, was a brewer.
Colonel Jones, a serving man (brother-in-law to Cromwell.) 10
Deane (admiral), a tradesman's assistant. 11
Colonel Goffe had been apprenticed to a drysalter. 12
1 When referring to this book in the list that follows, I shall simply put the letter B and the number of the page.
2 When referring to this book I shall put the letter W with the number of the page.
3 B, p. 155.
4 B, p. 155 and W, p. 108.
5 W, p. 108.
6 B, p. 155, and W, p. 158.
7 B, p. 155.
8 B, p. 155, and W, p. 122.
9 W, p. 122.
10 B, p. 156, and W, p. 125.
11 B, p. 156, and W, p. 121.
12 B, p. 156, and W, p. 123.
Berkstead (a lieutenant of the Tower), had been a pedlar or hawker of small wares, 2 and, Winstanley declares, a shopkeeper in the Strand. 3
Tichbourne or Tichburn (another lieutenant of the Tower) had been a linen-draper of London. 4
Colonel Harvey was a silk mercer. 5
Colonel Rowe was also a silk mercer. 6
Colonel Wenn was also a silk mercer; 7 Winstanley declares he was a bankrupt one. 8
Salway had been a grocer's assistant. 9
Bond (of the Council) had been a draper. 10
Cawley or Crawley (also of the Council) had been a brewer. 11
Berners, John (also of the Council), had been a servant. 12
Cornelius Holland (also of the Council) had been a servant; 13 Winstanley says "a servant of Sir Henry Vane's household." 14
Packe (held office of trust) was a woollen draper. 15
Pury (held office of trust) was a weaver. 16
Pemble (held office of trust) was a tailor. 17
Barebone (member of and most active in Barebone's Parliament) was a leather merchant in Fleet Street. 18
Colonel Berry was a woodmonger. 19
Colonel Cooper was a haberdasher. 20
Major Rolfe was a shoemaker. 21
1 B, p. 156, and W, p. 108.
2 B, p. 156157.
3 W, p. 114.
4 B, p. 156157, and W, p. 129.
5 B, p. 157, and W, p. 129.
6 p. 157, and W, p. 120.
7 B, p. 157.
8 W, p. 130.
9. B, p. 157.
10 B, p. 157.
11 B, p. 157, and W, p. 138.
12 B, p. 157.
13 B, p. 157.
14 W, p. 124.
15 W, p. 158.
16 W, p. 158.
17 W, p. 158.
18 W, p. 158.
19 W, p. 158.
20 W, p. 159.
21 W, p. 159.
Colonel Hewson was a cobbler. 2
Allen, Francis (became Treasurer of War), was a goldsmith of Fleet Street. 3
Clement, Gregory (a member of the Bloody Parliament), was a merchant. 4
Andrews, Thomas, was a linen-draper in Cheapside. 5
Scot, Thomas (a member of the Bloody Parliament), was a brewer's clerk. 6
Captain Peter Temple was a linen-draper. 7
Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Axtell (Captain of the Guard at the King's trial) was the keeper of a country "peddling shop in Bedfordshire." 8
Colonel Thomas Harrison was the son of a butcher at Newcastle. 9
While among those who, though not so important as the foregoing, nevertheless came to prominence on the Puritan side in the Grand Rebellion, I might mention: John Blakeston, a shopkeeper in Newcastle, 10 Vincent Potter, whose origin was so mean that it is unknown, 11 Thomas Wait, who is in the same case, 12 and Thomas Horton, also in the same case. 13
There was, besides, another and perhaps even less savoury element among the leaders of the Parliamentary party. I refer to those who, like Essex and Williams, opposed the King from some personal pique. It had often been the King's duty, as well as Strafford's and Laud's, during the eleven years' personal government, to call not only humble but also powerful men to order for crimes against the people or the State. I have spoken exhaustively enough of this element in Charles's opposition, in
l B, p. 159.
2 B, p. 159, and W, p. 123.
3 W, p. 126.
4 W, p. 129.
5 W, p. 131.
6 W, p. 137.
7 W, p. 141.
8 W, p. 147.
9 W, p. 107.
10 W, p. 117.
11 W, p. 139.
12 W, p. 142.
13 W, p. 131.
Thus, I think I have said enough to provide an adequate picture of the type of mind and body which was opposed to Charles in the last great struggle in which taste, tradition and quality were confronted with the savage hordes of vulgarity, trade and quantity in England in the first place, the overwhelming multitude from the shop, the furnace, the office and the factory; secondly, the upstart and grasping landed gentry; thirdly, the men who in high places
Now, very early after the outbreak of the Grand Rebellion, all these elements joined in one determined and, I feel sure, partly unconscious, cry for Puritanism, Puritanism, Puritanism! Every time the peacemakers arranged negotiations for peace between the King and the so-called popular party, the greatest of the latter's demands was invariably that Puritanism should be established in England; and Charles's reiterated and determined refusal to accept this as a condition of peace was, as frequently, the major cause of the fruitless conclusion of all the pour-parlers. But, I also have not the slightest doubt that, whereas the resolute cry for Puritanism, as the religion of business, of commerce and of manufacture (as we understand these things to-day), was very probably largely unconscious, in so far as its metaphysical aspect was concerned; it must certainly have been conscious in a large number of the multitude, who were quite shrewd and cunning enough to see how similar at least the morality of the new creed was to that of the rising trade and commerce associated in our minds with the economic school of laissez-faire.
Certain it is, that as soon as the rebel party were able, they began the work of imposing Puritanism by Act of Parliament upon the nation, and in this work of depressing, bleeding, besotting, uglifying, debilitating and disheartening the Englishman, so as to render him a slave fit for the office, the counter, the factory, the mine or the stoke-hole, the religious and the more practical business aims became so inextricably involved, that it is impossible to tell how much was unconscious and how much was conscious in this amazing act of religious creation of the seventeenth century.
At all events, the fact remains, that whether the metamorphosis of the Englishman was effected consciously or unconsciously under the cloak of religion, it was a feat that was ultimately accomplished: and the meek herd which it
Now let us see how the metamorphosis was contrived, bearing in mind all the time that it was a matter of turning a spirited, beauty-loving, life loving and vigorous population into a multitude which was just the reverse of all these things.
The first thing that the Puritan party conscientiously set about doing was to make the Englishman miserable. This is always the most efficacious means of depressing spirit, of destroying the awful contrast between characterless labour and well-spent leisure, and of preventing a drudge from feeling that life might be spent more healthily and happily.
Already in 1642 they were strong enough in Parliament to interfere with popular sports and pastimes in England, and the Sabbath, which, as Charles I had pointed out, was the only day on which the labouring man could enjoy himself, and preserve his spirit from desolation, was made as gloomy and as wretched as possible. Not only was all amusement forbidden, but the Church services themselves were made so insufferably tedious and colourless, and sermons were made to last such a preposterous length of time, that Sunday became what it was required to be by these employers of slaves the most dreaded day in the week.
A certain well-known German philosopher has said: "It was a master stroke of English instinct to hallow and begloom Sunday to such an extent that the Englishman unconsciously hankers for his work and week-day again"; for, if you are going to rear a nation of slaves, this is the attitude you must force them to take towards the only day of recreation they are allowed. In that way they
Puritan preachers vied with each other, as to who would preach the longest sermons and say the longest prayers, and if any of the less attentive among their congregations should fall asleep during the former orations, which sometimes lasted over two hours, they were suspected of the grossest impiety.
The Puritans who, fortunately for England, crossed the Atlantic, were terrible in their Sabbath tyranny. Short prayers and short sermons were considered irreligious in New England, and it was not unusual for these to last one hour and three hours respectively. A tithing-man bearing a sort of whisk, would keep an eye on the congregations during Sunday service, brusquely wake all those who fell asleep, and allow no deserters. In winter the congregation shivered in an icy-cold atmosphere; in summer they stewed in glaring unshaded heat, "and they sat upon most uncomfortable, narrow, uncushioned seats at all seasons." 1
Indeed it was not unusual in winter for the communion bread to freeze quite hard and to rattle "sadly in the plates." 2 But not only was all activity restrained on the Sabbath the most natural and most ordinary acts of social life were punished with the utmost severity. In New London in 1670, a pair of lovers, John Lewis and Sarah Chapman, were accused of sitting together on the Lord's day under an apple-tree in Goodman Chapman's orchard 3 and were brought to trial for this offence. In 1656 Captain Kemble was set for two hours in the public stocks for his "lewd and unseemly behaviour" that is to say, for kissing his wife "publicquely" upon the threshold of his house, after having been absent from her on a journey for many years. 4 And an English sea-captain was soundly whipped for kissing his wife in the street of a New England town on Sunday.
1 The Sabbath in Puritan New England, by Alice Morse Earle, p. 81.
2 Ibid., p. 84.
3 Alice Morse Earle, op. cit., p. 246.
4 Ibid., p. 247.
In England, as soon as these maniacs had the power, they too, as I have shown, did everything they could to make the Sabbath a day hated and feared by all. For, to make depression perfect, it was not only needful to make Sunday service compulsory and tedious, it was also necessary to suppress everything in the nature of enlivening or inspiriting pastimes, upon the only day when the poor labouring classes could indulge in recreation.
In addition to the measures passed in 1642, an Act was passed on April 6, 1644, "For the better observation of the Lord's Day," in which we read
"That no person or persons whatsoever shall, without reasonable cause for the same, travel, carry burthens, or do any worldly labours, or work whatsoever, upon that day, or any part thereof; upon pain that every one travelling contrary to the meaning of this Ordinance, shall forfeit, for every offence, ten shillings of lawful money; and that every person carrying any burthen, or doing any worldly labour or work, contrary to the meaning hereof, shall forfeit five shillings of like money for every such offence."
And in the section dealing with pastimes and amusements, we read
"And let it be further ordained, that no person or persons shall hereafter upon the Lord's-day use, exercise, keep, maintain, or be present, at any wrestlings, shooting, bowling, ringing of bells for pleasure or pastime, masque, Wake, otherwise called Fasts, Church-Ale, dancing, games, sport or pastime whatsoever; upon pain, that every person
1 See History of Civilisation in England, Vol. III, pp. 203 et seq.
2 Ibid., p. 260.
"And because the prophanation of the Lord's Day hath been heretofore greatly occasioned by Maypoles (a heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness) the Lords and Commons do further order and ordain, that all and singular maypoles, that are, or shall be erected, shall be taken down and removed by the constables, Brusholders, Tythingmen, petty constables and churchwardens of the parish." 2
Even the great festival of Christmas was condemned by these determined advocates of depression and low spirits, and, under the Commonwealth, attempts were made to suppress the celebration of this Church anniversary and to regard even the mince-pie as idolatrous. 3 "In place of the merry chimes," says Mr. W. Andrews, "which formerly welcomed Christmas from every church steeple in the land, the crier passed along the silent streets of the town ringing his harsh-sounding bell, and proclaiming in a monotonous voice, 'No Christmas! no Christmas!'" 4
In some parts of the country, such as Canterbury, for instance, the people were so indignant that riots actually took place; but what the armed resistance of a great king had failed to do, could not very well be accomplished by isolated and sporadic risings on the part of his subjects.
In Scotland, W. Andrews tells us, the attempts to sup-
1 The fine for allowing children to commit any of these sins was 12 pence for every offence.
2 A Collection of Acts and Ordinances of General Use, made in the Parliament from 1640 to 1656, by Henry Scobell, fol. 68. "The New Haven code of laws ordered that 'profanation of the Lord's Day should be punished by fine, imprisonment or corporal punishment; and if proudly, and with a high hand against the authority of God with death." Alice Morse Earle, op. cit., p. 248.
3 See The English Housewife in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Rose M. Bradley (1912), p. 79. "The Puritans did their best to put a stop to feasting and junketing. Christmas Day was not to be observed and the mince-pie was looked upon by the fanatics as idolatrous."
4 Bygone England, p. 240.
And thus the power of the Puritans fell like a blight upon the land, killing good-cheer, healthy spirits and sport. Traill even goes so far as to say that "many sports which as sports they did not condemn, have ceased to exist, because the Puritans condemned their use on Sundays, the only day on which working people could practise them regularly." 2
The pleasures and diversions of the stage constituted another of the vestiges of Merrie England which was also severely suppressed by these vulgar fanatics. On October 22, 1647, they passed an Act for suppressing stage-plays and interludes, and in it we read that "all person and persons so offending [acting in plays or interludes] to commit to any common Gaol or Prison, there to remain until the next general sessions of the Peace, holden within the said City of London, or Liberties thereof, and places aforesaid, or sufficient security entered for his or their appearance at the said Sessions, there to be punished as Rogues, according to Law." 3
And according to another Act passed in 1647, "For the utter suppression of stage plays and Interludes," the spectator was to be fined five shillings for being present at a play, the money "to be levied by the Churchwardens of the said Parish"; while the money received at the doors of theatres was to be forfeited and given over once more to the Churchwardens!
But they went further. On May 2, 1648, in an absurd
1 Bygone England, pp. 238, 242243.
2 Social England, Vol. IV, p. 167.
3 Scobell, op. cit., fol. 135.
After enumerating all the beliefs concerning the Trinity, the Manhood of Christ, etc., this measure proceeds as follows, "that all and such persons as shall maintain and publish by preaching, teaching, printing or writing that 'the Bodies of men shall not rise again after they are dead,' or that 'there is no day of Judgment after death' [shall be] committed to prison without Bail or Mainprise, until the next Gaol delivery be holden for that place or County, and the Witnesses likewise shall be bound over by the said Justices unto the said Gaol delivery to give in their evidence; and at the said Gaol delivery the party shall be indicted for feloniously publishing and maintaining such Errour, and in case the indictment be found and the Party upon his Triall shall not abjure his said Errour and defence and maintenance of the same, he shall suffer the pains of death, as in case of Felony without benefit of Clergy." 1 This was not merely a brutal enforcement of superstition; it was a savage insistence upon dullness and stupidity.
Similar punishment was threatened if any one should "deny that St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, or any other of the Canonical works of the Old or New Testament is the Word of God"; and prison was also the penalty for those who dared to say that "all men shall be saved," or "that man is bound to believe no more than by his reason he can comprehend," or "that the observation of the Lord's Day as it is enjoyned by the Ordinances and Laws of this Realm, is not according, or is contrary, to the word of God." 2
Everything was done, too, to associate high spirit and proud daring with sin and the devil. Cotton Mather, that ranting, raving divine of Nonconformity, in a book entitled Batteries upon the Kingdom of the Devil, associated all vital and spirited things with Hell and Satan.
1 Scobell, op. cit., fol. 149.
2 Ibid., fol. 149.
And here, perhaps, it might be as well to refer briefly to the chapter and text of the seventeenth-century Nonconformist's Scriptural warrant for his fiercely negative attitude towards life. The fact that he defended himself and his position by an appeal to the Scriptures is plain and incontrovertible; but can it be said that Christianity is wholly on the Puritan's side?
To those whose bodies and general physical inferiority lead them to question the beauty and value of life on this earth; to those who are predestined by their physiques to take up a hostile or doubtful attitude towards the joys and the hardships of life to such men, in fact, as I have described on pages 177 to 180 of this chapter there are certainly several features about Christianity which will seem to substantiate and justify their position, more particularly if they rely entirely upon the Scriptures and divorce themselves wholly from the traditions of the Holy Catholic Church whose pagan elements tended rather, to mitigate the sternly negative creed of primitive Christianity than to accentuate it.
We know the famous equation: The World = The Flesh = The Devil. Now, to all men who are physically biassed in favour of such a chain of consequences, there is much in the Scriptures which will appear to sanctify their point of view.
In the first place, take the repeated references in the Bible to the baseness of this world and of this life, and the
1 p. 16.
2 p. 27.
The body and the flesh, too, come in for a good deal of hostile and even rancorous criticism, and for those who were prepared to revile them to the honour of the Spirit, there was ample support in the gospels and epistles of the New Testament.
In Romans we read: "Flesh is death; Spirit is life and peace. The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." 2 And even those whose minds were prepossessed in favour of carnal things are rebuked and cautioned. "For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." 3
Such sentiments not only seem to cast a slur upon the natural functions and joys of the body, they also actually separate these functions and joys from all community with God; so that the fundamental instincts of life seem to lie under a ban, and to be covered with shame and disgrace. Thus true life involves the paradox of hostility to life, and St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians actually confirms this supposed eternal hostility. He says, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh." 4
He dares to go even further; he undertakes to enumerate the things with which he necessarily associates the
1 1 John ii. 15, 16.
2 Rom. viii. 6, 10, 13.
3 Rom. viii. 68.
4 Gal. v. 17.
There is no mention here of the healthy and restrained joys and wonders of the flesh; no hint that only hogs must regard the flesh in this way. Indeed, if you had but the New Testament as your guide in matters of sexuality, you might reasonably be excused if you regarded all things connected with the functions of procreation as the most unpardonable sinfulness. St. Paul actually exhorted the Corinthians to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh; 2 in the first Epistle of Peter we are told of the "filth of the flesh," 3 and we are also informed by St. Paul that to become Christ's we must crucify "the flesh with the affections and lusts." 4
To deny, to revile, and to despise the body, would, according to these texts, seem to be the only road to salvation a course utterly strange to him who is sufficiently master of his appetites to rejoice in his body and to enjoy it, without making, as the saying is, "a beast of himself."
"Walk in the Spirit," says St. Paul, "and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh" 5; "they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God," 6 while St. John emphatically declares: "It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing." 7
But the very needs of the body and men's concern about it, receive a severe blow even from the Founder of Christianity Himself. Christ, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, said: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on." 8
1 Gal. v. 1921.
2 2 Cor. vii. I.
3 1 Pet. iii. 21.
4 Gal v. 24.
5 Gal. v. 16.
6 Rom. ix. 8.
7 John vi. 63.
8 Matt. vi. 25.
I have attempted to describe the kind of men they were, 1 and, if my description be at all true to reality, just ask yourself whether, in the few passages I have selected from the Scriptures, these men were not able to find more than the adequate foundation and justification which they most needed for their campaign against beauty, the body and its joys! Even if we admit that they exaggerated, distorted nay, burlesqued the teachings of Christ and His Apostles, we are still forced to acknowledge that at least the elements of their extreme attitude were undoubtedly to be sought and found in Christianity itself.
And if to-day we find it an almost universal tendency to exalt the soul at the expense of the body; if we find the modern world getting into trouble and confusion over its management of questions of sex, of healthy breeding, of healthy living and healthy thinking; if we find nervousness, insanity and general debility increasing so much that movements such as that of the Eugenists seem to be necessary and proper it is impossible, and it would be unfair, not to point to precisely that element in Christianity which, though exaggerated beyond all reason by the Puritans, yet plainly means hostility and doubt in regard to the deeds, the joys, the beauties and the inestimable virtues of the body.
For all healthy peoples, all permanent peoples have always held that nothing on earth can justify a botched
1 See pp. 177 to 180.
Now there can be no doubt that the Puritans fastened on this particular aspect of Christianity with as much obstinacy as enthusiasm. And everything which was redolent of the world and the flesh everything, in fact, that was fundamental in life, was to them anathema. Consistently with this attitude, therefore, they attacked beauty and good healthy living, because both lured and led back
1 Rom. vi. 7.
2 As an instance of how universally this view is now accepted, at least in England, see how the very mob, which contains some of the healthiest elements of the nation, sings, enjoys and whole-heartedly approves of such Puritanical sentiments as we find in the chorus of some of the most popular music-hall songs of the last decade of the nineteenth century. To refer to a single example let me quote the lines of the popular music-hall chorus in the love-song, Sweet Marie
"Come to me, sweet Marie,
Come to me, sweet Marie,
Not because your face is fair, love, to see.
But your soul so pure and sweet
Makes my happiness complete,
Makes me falter at your feet,
Not only was the beauty of the human body, however, the butt of their bitter hostility every kind of beauty fell under the same ban. Wherever the Parliamentary rebels could do so, they destroyed the art-treasures and glories of English homes and churches, and as early as May 1644 an Act of Parliament was passed by these vandals to destroy all beauty in churches and to remove all organs. As M. B. Synge declares, "to the Puritan, beauty was a curse." 1
That vile pamphleteer and murderer of Laud, William Prynne, spoke as follows concerning human beauty, and in his words the whole of the poisonous creed which sets bodily charm at naught and exalts that inward beauty of the soul, which can justify even a foul and botched body, comes vividly to light.
"Man's perfect Beautie . . . consists . . . in the inward Endowments, Ornaments, Trappings, Vertues, and the Graces of the Minde and Soule, in which the Excellency, Essence and Happinesse of men consist: This is the only Comelinesse, and Beautie, which makes us Amiable, Beautifull, and Resplendent in the sight of God, of Men and Angels: this is the only culture, and Beauty which the Lord respects." 2
"A Studious, Curious, Inordinate, and eager Affection of Beautie, . . . must needes be sinfull and Abominable: yea farre worse than Drunkennesse, and excesse of Wine . . . because it proceeds most commonly, from an Adulterous, unchast, and lustfull Heart, or Meretricious, and Whorish affection." 3
One can but marvel at the unscrupulousness of these monsters. But, again, let me recall how tragically all this prepared the way for this age, for our age.
1 A Short History of Social Life in England, p. 207.
2 The Unlovelinesse of Lovelocks (1628), p. 51.
3 Op. cit., pp. 5556.
"Infatuated and snared" to what? To life, of course, to flourishing, healthy life, which is always associated with beauty; to the joy of life and in life, to a multiplication of joyful life!
The relationship between beauty and the stimulation of the sex-instinct was a thing not unknown to these filthy-minded Puritans; hence their loathing of this "outside Beauty," as Prynne chose to call it.
They also made more direct attacks upon the sex instinct itself; for in their suppression of sports and of the Maypole in particular, they were largely actuated by the feeling that all jollification which brought young men and girls together, must lead to the most horrible of all sins the stimulation and promotion of sexual interest. We have only to recall the words of Charles I's "Declaration to his Subjects concerning lawful Sports to be used on Sundays." 2 In it he said, "under the pretence of taking away abuses," certain festivals had been forbidden. We know what these Puritans regarded as "abuses." Anything was an abuse which, taking place round the Maypole, led to young lusty men and sun-warmed maidens falling into each other's arms before they had passed before the parson and the registrar.
But in order to make assurance doubly sure, they determined to put an end to all spontaneous love or as they in their bitterness said: fornication, by Act of Parliament. On May 10, 1650, any sexual intercourse outside marriage was made punishable by three months' imprisonment for
1 Op. cit., p. 57.
2 Quoted on p. 130.
But in those days things were different, vitality was greater, and this law was an absurdity.
If the Puritans had so reconstructed the whole of society as to make early marriages possible for everybody, there would have been no stupidity, no brutality, and not necessarily any negativism in this law. But to allow the status quo to persist, and then to pass this surface sanctimonious legislation was a piece of sheer barbarism.
In many villages in France, as also in England, I have myself observed how beneficently the stern morals of a small and limited community solve this sex problem for themselves. Prostitution is absolutely unknown in such places, because non-promiscuous sexual intercourse between couples is tolerated, long before marriage is a possible consideration. The public opinion of the community, however, is powerful enough to keep the man to his bargain, and the few irresponsible men who always must appear, are ostracised. It is not unusual, for instance, in some parts of Picardy, for a bride-mother to stand before Monsieur le Maire at her marriage ceremony, with her two children, four and two years old standing behind and witnessing the whole affair. This is
But what are the pre-requisites to such a scheme of sexual morality? The pre-requisites are two things that the Puritan tradesman did his best to destroy: a small village community where public opinion counts for something, and where, alone, public opinion can exercise discipline; and a stable population, which is not constantly tossed from one place to another, here to-day and a hundred miles away to-morrow. In the large towns created by the sort of industry and commerce which owe their growth to Puritanism, such a code of sexual morality is quite impossible. In such places public opinion is too vast and too heterogeneous to be concentrated on one particular point or quarter, and the population is too fluid for ostracism to be any hardship. Prostitution, therefore, is almost a foregone conclusion in such communities; unless you can so depress the vigour and vitality of the race as to exterminate the fundamental instinct of life. But even in spite of coming within measurable distance of this goal, the English race has already been deteriorated without prostitution having necessarily been abolished.
The object of the Puritans was to attempt to depress the fundamental instinct of life by atrophy. As I have
1 Where this sort of thing goes on in England, as it does in Devonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and many other counties, there are always a host of idiotic puritanical and, unfortunately, wealthy old spinsters who do their utmost to interfere with it; little dreaming in their stupid and unthinking brains that they are thus abetting and promoting prostitution. I once heard a certain fat and fatuous old maid boast that she had done her utmost in Devonshire to put a stop to what she called this "horrible immorality"; and Mr. F. E. Green in his stimulating book. The Tyranny of the Countryside, gives two examples of the same foolishness which are worth quoting. "I know of one lady," he says, "who has given orders to her steward that no girl who 'has got into trouble' shall be allowed cottage room on her estate. . . . In quite a different county a pathetic appeal was made to me by a cowman who had been given notice to quit because his eldest unmarried daughter, aged nineteen, was enceinte. He had pleaded in vain to be allowed to remain, as his wife was about to give birth to another child," pp. 3132.
From the first, too, the wretched bawd was punished by them with terrible severity. By the Act of May 10, 1650, in which, as I have already shown, all sexual intercourse, away from the marriage bed, was punished by three months imprisonment, the bawd's penalty was fixed at being placed in the pillory, being branded with a red-hot iron on,the forehead with the letter B, and being detained for three years in a House of Correction or in prison. A second conviction was punished by death. 1
Not satisfied with these measures, however, three months later, on August 9, 1650, an Act was passed whereby any one condoning "fornication," or even thinking it right and proper, was made liable to six months imprisonment. Nor was this all; for in its savage ferocity this same Act ordained that any one who, having once been found guilty of this crime of merely thinking that fornication was right was convicted a second time, should be sentenced to banishment (which meant life-long slavery), and, failing his appearance at the port of embarkation to death! 2
These legislative acts speak for themselves, and that is why I have preferred to quote them, often in extenso, rather than to enter into a more detailed history of the Puritans themselves. Unscrupulously, resolutely, fiercely, they set to work to damp, to eradicate, and, if possible, to kill the spirit of Merrie England. It is as if a vivid picture of the England of to-day had lain like a distant
1 Scobell, op. cit., p. 121.
2 Ibid., pp. 124125.
So much, then, for their tamperings with the spirit and the sexual instinct of the nation and 1 have purposely coupled these two things together, seeing that, as I have already said, there is strong interaction between them; it now remains to discuss their tamperings with the body of the nation.
If a body can be directly depressed by drugs, or by poor diet, or by unhealthy living, there is no further need for spiritual means for accomplishing this end. For, where the bowel acts slowly, where digestion is retarded, and where the nerves are jaded the very river or stream of the spirit is already poisoned at its source.
The story I am now going to tell is as strange as any that has ever been told inside the pages of what purports to be a serious work; but though apparently accident and design will often be seen to unite with wonderful precision, in bringing about the desired unravelment, I submit that there is no such thing as accident or chance in the whole affair.
It was a question of altering the Englishman's body. What mattered it then that some drugs fell into the Puritans' hands, just as Manna had fallen on to the shoulders of the Israelites in the desert fortuitously gratuitously, unsolicitedly, just as if the God of Puritans had felt the urgent need of His people, and shed these drugs upon them? The fact that a thing falls into your hands by chance, does not force you to swallow it. Though innovations appear thick and fast about you, you are not compelled to adopt them. Taste discriminates and selects. If, therefore, certain new forms of diet appeared just at that psychological moment when it was
But of this anon.
The first direct attack that the Puritans made upon the dietetic habits of the Englishman, consisted in an attempt at suppressing the consumption of the wholesome alcoholic beverages. And we know what the Puritans meant when they attacked "drink." They did not necessarily mean "drunkenness" as we see it to-day, at our street corners and in our slums for that sort of drunkenness literally did not exist in those days. They meant, once more, that conviviality, that good cheer, and those high spirits, to which a good, wholesome and well brewed fermented liquor gives rise. In Cotton Mather's Batteries upon the Kingdom of the Devil, and in William Prynne's Healthe and Sicknesse, there are fulminations enough against the drinking of alcoholic beverages; and what was the reply of the people of the day to these lucubrations? As Prynne himself points out, 2 they replied that what the Puritans called "drunkenness," was "hospitality, good fellowship, courtesie, entertainment, joviality, mirth, generosity, liberality, open-house keeping, etc." Of course, inasmuch as some will always go too far even if it be only in playing an innocent game of bowls cases of drunkenness were not uncommon; but the after effects of such occasional excesses in those days were not in the least harmful; because what was absorbed was good, and in so far as the ale was concerned actually excellent nourishment, and an energy- and spirit-giving drink.
And this brings me to the question of the national drink
1 See p. 260, Vol. III, The History of Civilisation in England: "To check the lusts of the flesh, they [the Puritans] furthermore took into account the cookery, the choice of meats, and the number of dishes."
2 Healthe and Sicknesse (edit. 1628), p. 5.
Athenæus's account of the ale of the Egyptians is very instructive for our purpose. He says it was very strong, and had so exhilarating an effect upon those who drunk; it, that they danced and sang and committed all kinds of exuberant extravagances. And in this judgment he is confirmed by Aristotle. 2
Diodorus also affirms that the Egyptian ale was scarcely inferior to the juice of the grape. 3 And this drink, like old English ale, was drunk by the peasants in all parts of the country.
Now it is important to note that in all things relating to Egypt, we are concerned always with the taste of a people whose one passion was permanence. Indeed, so highly did they reverence permanence in dynastic, as well as vital matters, that Diodorus tells us, they despised gymnasia and refused to use them, because they believed that the kind of physical strength cultivated in such places, was less permanent than that gained in the ordinary pursuits of a healthy life. 4 Such a people as this, apart from the other proofs we have of their great wisdom and taste in art and government, would never have selected for their national drink a beverage which might have proved deleterious or unwholesome in the long run to their race. And the fact that the Egyptians existed for so many thousands of years as a highly civilised, proud and art-loving nation, is in itself the most convincing proof that can be found of the beneficial value of their national beverage.
And there is no reason to doubt Athenæus's word con-
1 Diodorus, Book I, 34. Herodotus, Book II, 77.
2 See The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, by Wilkinson, Vol. I, p. 396.
3 Book I, 34.
4 Book I, 81. See also Herodotus, Book II, 91.
But apart from the testimony of so great a people and culture as those of Egypt, and apart from our own experience, we have the evidence of centuries of experience in England, and the support of public and scientific opinion, which are both in favour of the old ale that vanished when the Puritans triumphed.
In the folk-lore, the legend, and the poetry of England, the old ale of our forefathers that which was brewed from barley malt alone has been too well praised, and its sterling qualities too often enumerated, for me to attempt to do it adequate justice in a mere portion of an essay like the present. With its value as a body-building and health-maintaining liquor, tested on the battlefields of Great Britain and the Continent, and found in no way lacking, the evidence of our fighting peasantry alone would be sufficient to hallow it in our estimation as a national institution, and I could not attempt to vie with men like John Taylor of old, and John Bickerdayle of more recent times, in demonstrating its merits beyond all shadow of a doubt.
Nevertheless, to the reader who is not acquainted with all the facts that have been collected and adduced in its favour, perhaps a selection of these, briefly stated, will not prove unwelcome, and may even constitute an indispensable part of my argument.
From the earliest times to about the middle of the
The ale of our forefathers contained at least eight per cent. of this maltose, and thus constituted a truly nourishing beverage. 3 Indeed there was an old proverb, current among the people of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England which ran
"Wine is but a single broth
But Ale is meat and drink and cloth."
This was the ale which the monk as well as the housewife had brewed for ages, which was drunk at Church-Ales, Bride-Ales, Scot-Ales, Wakes, and Feasts of Dedication, and the proceeds on the sale of which had often contributed to no small extent to the building of the
1 Food and the Principles of Dietetics, by Robert Hutchison, M.D., p. 369.
2 To the reader who would like to enter more deeply into the medical aspect of the question, let me recommend, for a start, pp. 91 et seq. in Mr. Hackwood's book on the Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England, and the whole of Chapter XV of Mr. Bickerdayle's book, The Curiosities of Ale and Beer.
3 Even of our modern beer, which is as different from the ale of Merrie England as chalk is from cheese. Dr. Hutchison is still able to say: "The large quantity of carbohydrate matter in malt liquors renders them the most truly nourishing of alcoholic drinks" (op. cit., p. 370); so we may judge of the superiority in this respect of the purer and older brand.
If we remember the words of Athenæus concerning the exhilarating effects of this same malt-liquor upon the ancient Egyptians, we can imagine the cheerfulness, merriment and high spirits which must have characterised these picturesque country festivals of old, and we begin to understand how darkly, in later times, the cold and resentful Puritans must have stood, some distance away, watching the whole scene with bitter disapproval, and longing for the day of their power to come, when they would be able to crush out all this sinfulness for ever.
This was the ale which was drunk in the morning at breakfast, by peasant, lord and king. Even Queen Elizabeth's breakfast seems frequently to have consisted of little else but ale and bread, 2 and the very children in the nursery were not exempt from its use in a weakened form. 3 According to Mr. Hackwood, Good Queen Bess enjoyed a quart of this liquor at her early morning meal, and she is said to have called it "an excellent wash"; 4 while it
1 The Curiosities of Ale and Beer, p. 232.
2 Op. cit., p. 275.
3 See Traill's Social England, Vol. IV, p. 670: "Water was scarcely ever drunk, even by children, who drank small beer from their earliest years." See also John Locke, Some Thoughts concerning Education (edit. 1693), p. 16. After recommending good dry bread as a substantial portion of a child's daily food, the old philosopher says: "If any one think this too hard and sparing Diet for a Child, let them know, that a Child will never starve, nor want nourishment, who besides Flesh once a Day . . . may have good Bread and Beer as often as he has a Stomach." And later on he says, speaking of the Child: "His Drink should be only small Beer."
4 Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England, p. 91.
Together with the excellent bread of the period, no better meal could be imagined, and a continuous supply of this staple national beverage was as important to our ancestors as a continuous supply of water is to us now. It is for this reason that the Statute Book of olden times is full of references to this precious national asset. 2
The value of this drink as a health-giver, to the poor particularly who, thanks to its qualities, were often able to tide over a period of scant food without suffering any evil effects cannot be overrated. "There exist, sad to relate," says Bickerdayle, "persons who, with the notion of promoting temperance, would rob us of our beer. Many of these individuals may act with good motives, but they are weak, misguided bodies who, if they but devoted their energies to promoting ale-drinking as opposed to spirit [and bitter beer] drinking, would be doing useful service to the State, for malt liquors are the true temperance drinks of the working classes." 3
John Taylor, an old writer on ale, and an enthusiast whom nothing could repress, was another who noticed the inspiriting quality of the old English beverage. Writing in the middle of the seventeenth century, he saw precisely what the Puritans and Athenæus saw in old ale, but, far from complaining, he gloried in it. He knew it would "set a Bashfull Suitor a wooing," 4 and in a long poem of over thirty verses he says
1 Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England, p. 91.
2 See Hackwood, op. cit., p. 81: "It was incumbent upon the brewers in old time to keep up an adequate supply of good ale, just as we nowadays insist upon a proper supply of pure water; the former. however, was regarded more as a question of food supply, while the latter is mainly a hygienic precaution. The brewers were not allowed to cause any inconvenience by a sudden reduction of their output, on the plea, perhaps, that the State-regulated prices were unremunerative to them, or on any other excuse whatever."
3 Op. cit., p. 14.
4 Drink and Welcome, p. 5.
Though before (silly fellow) his courage did quaile,
He gives her the smouch, with his hand in his pouch,
It he meet by the way with a Pot of good Ale." 1
Apart from its health-giving properties it was this quality of a spirit-tonic that made the ale of ancient Egypt and of Merrie England such a formidable national possession. And if the English peasant in arms was so proverbially feared by our continental neighbours under the Plantagenets and the Lancasters, and even by his fellow countrymen in times of peasant uprisings, it is impossible to dissociate this fact completely from his daily beverage and food, which, at one time, was the best that art and experience could contrive for rearing stamina and courage.
However, as this is not a book on dietetics, but simply a critical examination of the principle of aristocracy, to those readers who still doubt my word concerning this ale of old England, I can but tender this advice: let them look into the matter for themselves. It is sufficiently important to repay investigation. And they will find that no praise, however immoderate, that some have lavished upon it, is too great, for the merits of our old English drink.
At all events, though, I must point out, that my case neither stands nor falls with the claim that ale is the best possible drink of all. It simply relies on the fact that the substitutes which, owing to the Puritans, soon took the place of ale, were not a hundredth part as good as ale, and can, indeed, be shown to have been positively deleterious.
This point I should like to emphasise. For it is so easy to twist my argument into a panegyric on ale, when it is really only an attempt at showing the unquestionable superiority of our old national drink over all the substitutes which the Puritans helped to introduce.
I think, mark you, that the case for ale, as being the best possible drink, is an exceedingly good one; but, as I say, it is not essential to my argument.
1 Ale Ale-Vated into the Ale-Titude (1651), verse 23.
Too vulgar to see that you cannot have all the advantages of ale without, here and there, feeling some of its disadvantages; too stupid to see that the occasional drunkenness of the few was the inevitable reverse of a medal which was, nevertheless, worth keeping more particularly as the evil effects of drunkenness in those days were practically nil they inveighed against drink per se, and hated the spirit, the good cheer and the sexual stimulus which it engendered.
On August 9, 1650, in an Act, part of which I have already quoted, they made it a criminal offence even to "condone drunkenness" or even to "think drunkenness right and proper," and the punishment for these crimes of "condoning" and "thinking" were, for the first offence, six months' imprisonment, and for the second, banishment (which meant life-long slavery). Should the criminal, however, who had condoned drunkenness, or thought it right and proper, fail to repair to the port of embarkation in order to be shipped away as a slave, sold by his own fellow countrymen, he was to be put to death. 1
The ferocious brutality of these Puritans was something incredible; and if there was one thing on earth that could possibly outreach or exceed it, it was, as in the case of the Low Churchman and Puritan of to-day, their absolutely unparalleled stupidity.
The greatest blow, however, which the Parliamentary party levelled against the old national beverage of England, was their tax on ale. To increase the price of the staple drink of the lower classes, and thus to render its consumption more difficult, was not only contrary to all precedent for, as we have seen, the monarchs of the past
1 Scobell, op. cit., pp. 124125.
In addition to that it opened the flood-gates to all the filthy substitutes for good old ale which, as chance would have it, happened to be waiting on the threshold of English social life for just such an opportunity as this.
And, seeing that, as I have already shown, trade supervision for the benefit of the consumer the people had been overthrown with the monarchy of Charles I, adulteration and the making of inferior beer soon arose to rob the people still further of the benefits of their proper standard beverage.
The greatest and most deleterious of the adulterants immediately put into more general use was hops. For years brewers had tried to palm off malt liquor adulterated with hops as true ale, and as often as they had done so, they had been severely punished by their rulers. For there was not only a strong prejudice against hops, which was entirely justified, but also a sound suspicion that hop-ale was not ale.
As Hackwood says: "Till the Revolutionary period of the seventeenth century, Englishmen had been content to drink malt liquor. It may be said that through the centuries till then, ale had been the wine of the country, the national beverage, all-sufficient for the taste and temperament of the Englishman. On the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1643, Parliament, with a view to increasing the national revenue, imposed Excise duties on ale. . . . The imposition of these duties, in that they eventually tended to alter the drinking habits of the people, will be found to be epoch-making and far-reaching in its effects." 1
It is not easy to say exactly when hops were first intro-
1 Op. cit., p. 124.
Bickerdayle tells us that in the first year of Richard III's reign, a petition was presented to Lord Mayor Billesdon, by the Brewers' Company, showing "that whereas by the sotill and crafty means of foreyns dwelling without the franchises . . . a deceivable and unwholsome fete in bringing of ale within the said citie nowe of late is founde and practised, that is to say, in occupying and puttying of hoppes and other things in the said ale of old type used . . . to the great deceite and hurt of the King's liege people. . . . Pleas it therefore your saide good Lordshyppe to forbid the putting into ale of any hops, herbs, or any other like thing, but onely licour, 2 malte and yeste." 3
The petition was granted and a penalty of 6s. 8d. was laid on every barrel of ale so brewed contrary to the ancient use.
Again, in the twelfth year of Henry VIII's reign, John Barowe, and twelve years later Robert Dodworth, were prosecuted for using hops in the making of ale; while in the tenth year of Henry VIII, William Shepherd, servant to Philip Cooper, was similarly prosecuted. Henry VIII disliked the hop exceedingly, "and enjoined the Royal brewer of Eltham that he put neither hops nor brimstone into the ale"; 4 while in 1542 Andrew Boorde, in his Dyetary, wrote as follows: "Bere is made of malt, hoppes and water; it is the naturall drynke for a Dutch-Man, and nowe of late dayes it is moche used in England to the detryment of many Englysshe people; specyally it kylleth
1 Bickerdayle, op. cit., pp. 7273.
3 Op. cit., p. 68.
4 Op. cit., p. 71.
Thus both popular and learned prejudice seem to have been vigorous and emphatic against the use of hops, and the outcry was general. The English believed, says Bickerdayle, "that they were like to be poisoned by the new-fangled drink which was not in their eyes to be compared to the sweet and thick, but honest and unsophisticated English ale." 2
As a matter of fact the prejudice lasted until late in the seventeenth century, and had it not been for the policy of laissez-faire in matters of trade, which was inaugurated by the Puritans, and which put an end to all state protection of the consumer, and state supervision of trade, there is every reason to suppose that it would have lasted until this day.
In any case the liquor containing hops was not supposed to be called ale at all, but beer, and it is against this so-called "beer" that John Taylor, as late as the middle of the seventeenth century, inveighs so bitterly in his long poem on ale
"To the Church and Religion it is a good friend,
Or else our Forefathers their wisdome did faile,
That at every mile, next to the Church stile,
Set a consecrate house to a Pot of good Ale.
"But now as they say, Beer beares it away;
The more is the pity, if Right might prevaile:
For with this same Beer, came up Heresie here;
The old Catholique Drink is a Pot of good Ale.
"This Beer's but an upstart from Dutchland here come,
Whose Credit with us sometimes is but small:
For in the records of the Empire of Rome,
The old Catholique Drink is a Pot of good Ale.
"And in very deed, the Hop's but a weed,
Brought o'er against Law, and here set to sale:
Would the Law were renew'd, and no more beer brew'd,
But all good men betake them to a Pot of good Ale." 3
1 Chapter X, paragraph Beere.
2 Op. cit., p. 70.
3 Ale Ale-Vated into the Ale-Titude (1651), verses 2629.
While in his book Drinke and Welcome, he says when writing in the middle of the seventeenth century mark you! "Beere is but an Upstart and a foreigner or Alien. . . . Nor would it differ from Ale in anything but only that an aspiring Amaritudinous Hop comes crawling lamely in and makes a Bitter difference between them." 2
As a matter of fact, it was a sound instinct that prompted the people of England to be suspicious of the hop; for not only was the ale perfect without it, and simply adulterated by its addition, but also the properties of the adulterant itself were very far from desirable.
Hops, however, possess two qualities which, consciously or unconsciously, the Puritans must have thought very precious. Besides being a means of altering, adulterating and reducing the inspiriting ale of the past, hops constitute a soporific and an anaphrodisiac.
All the pharmacopæas mention it as an inducer of sleep and most of them speak of its anaphrodisiac powers As we read in the National Standard Dispensatory: "Hops may be used. with benefit in the treatment of priapism and seminal emissions." 3 Yes! priapism and seminal emissions! We know how the Puritans were disposed to such things! How can the general use of hops in ale after the triumph of the Puritans in the seventeenth century any longer be regarded as an accident! As I say, choice is no accident. Hops fell into their hands like the Manna
1 Ale Ale-Vated into the Ale-Titude, pp. 1516
2 See p. 11.
3 See p. 799.
Brunton, however, mentions one more property of hops, which is important for my argument. He says: "Chief among the soluble ingredients of hops is tannic acid." 1 And we know that the effect of tannic acid is to retard digestion that is to say, to depress, to lower spirits, to render lethargic, melancholy, humble and dull, in addition to leading to all kinds of serious physical disorders. Even if all the evil effects of hops were, however, very slight, their use as an ingredient in the old ale of England would still have to be deplored, seeing that this ale was in itself so good and wholesome a beverage that it could only be marred and not improved by the addition of any constituents foreign to its original nature. 2
But by far the most extraordinary coincidence of this period of our history is that, precisely at the hour when Puritans were inveighing against drink and the merriment it engendered, at the very moment when by taxation, hostile legislation, and their indifference to adulteration, they were doing their utmost to abolish the good old ale of England, and almost compelling the working classes to cast about them to contrive other substitutes, two insidious drugs were knocking at the door of social England for admittance two drugs which were of use to neither man
1 Text-book of Pharmacology: Therapeutics and Materia Medica, p. 1031.
2 In recent years, of course, the evils of beer-adulteration have attained such large proportions that it is now no longer a matter of objecting merely to the introduction of hops, but to that of all sorts of inexpensive and common substitutes, even more injurious than hops themselves, among which quassia chips easily take the first rank. This evil is, indeed, so far-reaching and serious that the very hop-growers themselves have organised a movement to resist it, and at the time of writing I have before me a number of leaflets and pamphlets, given me by a prominent promoter of this movement, in which the deleterious effects of the substitutes for that which in itself was originally nothing but an adulterant, are analysed and exposed.
Sound scientific opinion is so unanimously agreed as to the harmfulness of these two vegetable poisons, that it might, perhaps, be sufficient for me simply to refer the reader to Dr. Haig's Uric Acid, Dr. Tebb's Tea and the Effects of Tea-drinking, Dr. Robert Hutchison's Food and the Principles of Dietetics, Dr. T. Lauder Brunton's Pharmacology, etc., where he would find more than I could tell him concerning the deleterious influences of these beverages. I will, however, enter briefly into the nature of these alleged deleterious influences, in order that there may be no doubt as to their general relation to the grand movement that was on foot.
Tea and coffee reached this island at about the same time, and began to claim the attention of ever wider and wider circles from the middle of the seventeenth century onward. Tea may have preceded coffee by a few years; but, at any rate, the difference was slight, and previous to 1630, neither of these beverages 1 was known to more than a very select minority in England.
In any case it is certain that the first coffee-house was opened in London three years after the murder of Charles I, and the others which speedily followed soon proved themselves to be redoubtable rivals to the old ale vending tavern. 2
With nothing to prevent the spread and general consumption of these non-alcoholic drinks, and with everything to encourage their adoption by the poorest majority in the land, 3 it did not take long for them to become almost
1 Mr. W. Andrews, in Bygone England, fixes the date of the introduction of coffee into England at the year 1641 (see p. 149).
2 See Hackwood, op. cit., p. 358: "A rival to the tavern, in the shape of a public-house vending a non-alcoholic beverage, came in appropriately enough when England was under Republican government. As a pamphleteer of the Restoration put it: 'Coffee and Commonwealth came in together.'"
3 It should be borne in mind that, at least so far as tea was
Examine two such people more closely, however, and you will find that they are the most typical products of the diet that lies before them. Both suffer from indigestion, the girl more particularly; both have no fire, no light in their eyes; both are depressed, physically and spiritually; each has the swollen knuckles of the rheumatic invalid, neither of them has over much vitality, or sexual vigour. They will probably sit side by side day after day for years, sipping their poison and munching their pap, and be able to wait continently for marriage without either a pang or a pain. The girl laughs, and her long teeth, denuded of their gums at the fangs, by the heat and the tannin of her favourite drink, shine like the keys of an old cottage piano. He returns the smile, and all along the edge of his inflamed red gums you notice the filthy discharge characteristic of pyorrha, 1 which is a gouty malady of the teeth. No wonder such charms can be resisted for many a year! Puritanism can find nothing to criticise here. There is little that lures to life, and to a multiplication of life, in such ghastly people. Even a maypole would not make these people attractive. They are pecu-
concerned, it was impossible at first, owing to its prohibitive price per lb., for the poorer classes to touch it; and they had to confine themselves to badly adulterated ale and to coffee. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, tea itself was sufficiently accessible to all; for 23,717,882 lbs. were consumed in one year by a population numbering 16,794,000 (i.e. 1.41 lbs. per head).
1 Pyorrha alveolaris.
A pretty waitress trips up to them. She is anæmic, but there is vitality in her. The sun of love has not yet reached her, and like all beautiful things that need the sun, she has grown pale from the lack of her natural element. The panel doctor prescribes iron; she herself has a shrewd notion that the doctor has misunderstood her malady. But so much about her has been misunderstood since she was a girl of thirteen, that she is beginning to doubt everything and to follow the main stream listlessly, patiently and with resignation.
The man belonging to the sickly couple looks up. He and his companion have finished their white adulterated bread and pressed tongue, and in his face one can see a faint burlesque of the determined look which might have fastened on the face of an old Roman bent on enjoying a banquet to the full. Gravely and portentously he orders two pieces of cake, and without a suggestion of surprise or wonderment for this damnable farce is as commonplace as the misty, murky atmosphere outside the pretty waitress intersects the tables to the counter in order to carry out his order.
No matter whether it is tea or coffee they have had, the effects are much the same. The principal ingredients of both are the alkaloid caffeine, which is a whip to the brain and to the nerves, and which might be regarded as the most corroborative drug possible for the neurotic, hypertrophied and hypersensitive soul of the average modern townsman; and tannic acid, the tendency of which, says Dr. Tebb, "is greatly to impair digestion" and to give "rise to palpitation of the heart, headache, flatulence, loss of appetite, constipation and other symptoms." 1
An ordinary infusion of tea is said to contain about three or four per cent. of caffeine, and ten to twelve per cent. of tannin; and according to Dr. Hutchison an
1 Op. cit., p. 10.
the retarding influence of tea and coffee on peptic digestion has been established by many scientists, among whom Fraser, Roberts, Ogata and Shulz-Schulzenstein may be mentioned. While Dr. Brunton, speaking of the effects of tannic acid, says, "even from small doses, there is a dryness of the fæces and lessened peristalsis." 2
The importance of this effect of the tannin element in tea and coffee cannot be exaggerated, when we remember to what it leads in the matter of loss of spirit, fire, vigour, eagerness and general tone. While, among the subsidiary effects of caffeine, we should not forget its influence in increasing rather than diminishing tissue waste, 3 and its action as a depressor and paralyser once its stimulus to the nerves and brain have become exhausted." 4
Among other authorities who have deprecated the use of tea are Sir Andrew Clarke, who thought that it was "a great and powerful disturber of the nervous system," and Sir B. W. Richardson, whose opinion is that "the alkaloid [theme] exercises a special influence on the nervous system, which when carried to a considerable extent, is temporarily at least, if not permanently, injurious." 5
Now when it is remembered that at the present moment 255,270,472 lbs. of tea are used per annum in the United Kingdom, and that it has been calculated that the poor in London spend at least one-eighth of their income in buying this drug, it is difficult to realise the full importance of the revolution in so far as it undoubtedly affected this question of dietetics.
For again I should like to point out that even if it could be proved that tea and coffee are not nearly so harmful as I claim, the fact that with adulterated ale they ultimately became the masses' substitutes for the old ale of England,
1 Op. cit., p. 324.
2 Op. cit., p. 1032.
3 Hutchison, op. cit., p. 333.
4 Brunton, op. cit., p. 871; Dr. Tebb, op. cit., p. 19.
5 Dr. Tebb, op. cit., p. 19.
Nor can it be said that there were no cries of protest raised against their establishment as the staple beverages of the people.
From the seventeenth century down to our own time, an unceasing murmur of disapproval can be discerned beneath the general and indolent acquiescence of the majority, and it cannot even be urged that this disapproval has tended to diminish through the centuries. On the contrary, if science in her infancy once tentatively ventured to condemn the use of tea and coffee, she now does so with all the unhesitating emphasis that her increased knowledge allows.
One of the earliest objectors was Dr. Simon Pauli, who, writing in 1665, felt it incumbent upon him to warn Europeans against the abuse of tea. He declared that it was "moderately heating, bitter, drying and astringent"; 2 and the German physician Dr. Cohausen and the Dutchman Boerhave were of the same opinion, the latter emphasising the evil effects of tea on the nerves.
In 1673 the people themselves presented a petition to Parliament in which they prayed that tea and coffee might be prohibited, as their use interfered with the consumption of barley, malt and wheat, the native products of the country. "The petitioners," says Hackwood, "boldly asserted that the 'laborious people' who constituted the majority of the population, required to drink 'good strong beer and ale,' which greatly refreshed their bodies after
1 Op. cit., p. 334 (see also Dr. Tebb, op. cit., p. 19). "Poor people meet the craving for natural food by taking large quantities of tea. A strong craving for it is engendered which leads to the taking of tea at almost every meal, greatly to the injury of health. Poor women in the factory and cotton districts become actual sufferers from this cause, they are rendered anæmic, nervous, hysterical and physically feeble."
2 Dr. Tebb, op. cit., p. 12.
William Cobbett, too, whom I have so often quoted in these pages, was very hostile to tea and coffee, and in 1829 in an address to young men wrote as follows: "Let me beseech you to resolve to free yourselves from the slavery of the tea and coffee and other slop-kettle, if, unhappily, you have been bred up in such slavery. Experience has taught me that these slops are injurious to health." 1 And again: "You are weak; you have delicate health; you are 'bilious!' Why, my good fellow, it is the very slops that make you weak and bilious! And, indeed, the poverty, the real poverty, that they and their concomitants bring on you, greatly assists, in more ways than one, in producing your delicate health." 2
Dr. Simon Pauli was also strongly opposed to coffee, for the strange reason that he firmly alleged that it produced sterility. Of course, as a drug which, like tea, depressed the whole system, coffee must to some extent impair sexual potency; it is, however, doubtful whether it can, like hops, be regarded as a direct anaphrodisiac. At all events, however, Dr. Pauli's view is curiously confirmed by an extraordinary pamphlet which appeared in 1674. For even if we suppose that this pamphlet was meant only as a mere joke, surely the thought of connecting impaired
1 Advice to Young Men, Letter I, par. 31.
2 Ibid., Letter I, par. 32. See also Rural Rides, Vol. I, p. 30, where, speaking of certain perambulatory impostors, Cobbett says: "They vend tea, drugs and religious tracts. The first to bring the body into a debilitated state; the second to finish the corporeal part of the business; and the third to prepare the spirit for its separation from the clay! Never was a system so well calculated as the present to degrade, debase and enslave a people." See also Rural Rides, Vol. II, p. 272: "If I had a village at my command, not a tea-kettle should sing in that village."
"The dull Lubbers want a Spur now, rather than a Bridle: being so far found doing any works of supererogation that we find them not capable of performing those Devoirs which their Duty, and our Expectations Exact. . . . The Occasion of which Insufferable Disaster, after a serious Enquiry, and Discussion of the Point by the Learned of the Faculty, we can Attribute to nothing more than the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called Coffee, which rifling Nature of her Choicest Treasures, and Drying up the Radical Moisture, has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age, and as unfruitful as those Desarts whence that unhappy Berry is said to be brought. . . . 2 Wherefore the Premises considered, and to the end that our just Rights may be restored, and all the Ancient Priviledges of our Sex preserved inviolable; That our Husbands may give us some other Testimonies of their being Men, besides their Beards and wearing of empty Pantaloons. . . . But returning to the good old strengthening Liquors of our Forefathers; that Nature's Exchequer may once again be replenisht, and a Race of lusty Hero's begot, able by their achievements, to equal the Glories of our Ancestors." 3
1 By a Well-Willer. "Representing to Publick Consideration the Grand Inconvenience accruing to their sex from the Excessive Use of that Drying, Enfeebling Liquor."
2 Page 2 of Pamphlet.
3 Page 6 of Pamphlet. On page 5 of this pamphlet there is also shown some hostility to the weed tobacco. I do not intend to burden this essay any further by an examination of the effects of this drug; certain it is, however, that tobacco, by paralysing the motor nerves of involuntary muscles and the secreting nerves of glands, does act as a powerful anaphrodisiac. Now it is well known that James I
As I pointed out at the beginning of this chapter, all deep religious movements have their hygiene and diet as well as their morality, and in this respect the religion of uncontrolled trade and commerce, which I suggest is Puritanism, is no exception to the rule. The desired end was achieved. The. object of the Puritans was to convert England from a garden into a slum, from a land of spirited, healthy, vigorous, happy and beauty-loving agriculturists, herdsmen and shepherds into a land of unhealthy townsmen, hard manufacturers, docile and sickly factory hands and mill hands, and a sweated proletariat, indifferent alike to beauty as to all the other charms of full and flourishing life. And everything conspired to produce this result: the defeat of Charles I in the field of rebellion, the triumph of the trade Puritanical party and the advocates of a "Free" Parliament, the hostility of the Puritans to beauty, sex, life, high spirits and cheerfulness, and finally, the reforms they and their legislation brought about in the food and drink of the people.
For, as I have already shown, they also considered the question of solid food in its relation to the lusts of the body, and sought to reduce these as far as possible by dietetic means. Mrs. Cromwell, who was in a position to set an example to all the housewives of England, was a confirmed advocate of "pious plainness." "She ate," says M. B. Synge, 1 "marrow puddings for breakfast, and
and Charles I both hated tobacco smoke, and thoroughly disapproved of the habit of pipe smoking. James I even wrote a book against it; but the Commonwealth men were, on the other hand, much addicted to it.
1 A Short History of Social Life in England, p. 218.
Another writer, speaking of Mrs. Cromwell's household, says: "The food is described as ordinary and vulgar, and no such dainties as quelquechoses were suffered. Scotch collops of veal was an almost constant dish, varied by a leg of mutton, a pig collared like brawn, or liver puddings. Mrs. Cromwell's usual drink was Pumado, which reads like a glorified edition of toast and water." 1
Next to the physical and spiritual transformation of the Englishman, however, by far the worst results of the Puritanical Revolution consisted in the spread of the spirit of greed and gain in the nation, through the triumph of trade, and all the consequent evils of the prevalence of such a spirit that is to say, (1) the increase of the shopkeeper or the middle-man class, (2) the opportunity and temptation to adulterate the vital nourishment of the people, 2 and (3) harshness towards the unprotected proletariat.
Taking these consequences in the order in which I have stated them, it must be obvious that any increase in the shopkeeper or middle-man class must be bad for three reasons: (a) owing to the undesirability of the type of man who is content and happy to spend his life unproductively in buying at one price and selling at another; (b) owing to the fact that the middle-man always separates
1 The English Housewife in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Rose M. Bradley, p. 150.
2 In order to avoid burdening this chapter unduly, I have deliberately shunned any elaborate treatment of one of the most important items in the general charge I bring against the Puritan innovations. But there can be no doubt that an exceedingly good case could be brought against them, on the subject of adulterations alone; for their régime of laissez-faire in trade morality certainly tolerated all kinds of abuses in food adulteration which must also have had a seriously deleterious effect upon the health and spirit of the people.
In regard to reason (c), that which constitutes its most regrettable feature is the permanent lack of freshness which characterises everything that the town man eats or drinks. Those who have picked fruit from the trees on which they grow, those who know what it is to drink fresh milk, eat fresh eggs and pull up fresh lettuces for their evening meal, must realise what it means to lead a life in which all one's food is soiled, bruised, finger-marked, dog-eared, tarnished! through having passed through the hands of so many middle-men or shopkeepers before it reaches one's table. And yet how many millions of Englishmen lead such lives, and without a murmur!
In regard to reason (b), William Cobbett has so many interesting things to say that, at the risk of fatiguing the reader, I feel I must quote him in full.
Writing on Sunday, October 22, 1826, Cobbett said: "Does not every one see, in a minute, how this exchanging of fairs and markets for shops creates idlers and traffickers; creates those locusts called middle-men who create nothing, who add to the value of nothing, who
1 To refer again to ale, there seems to be no doubt that the whole value of the hop, apart from its bitter flavour, consisted in the fact that it preserved the malt liquor, thus proving a desirable ingredient to the middle-man or shopkeeper. See Bickerdayle, op, cit., p. 80.
"Very wise, too, and very just, were the laws against forestalling and regrating. 1 They were laws to prevent the producer and consumer from being cheated by the trafficker. There are whole bodies of men, indeed a very large part of the community, who live in idleness in this country in consequence of the whole current of the laws now running in favour of the trafficking monopoly. It has been a great object with all wise governments, in all ages, from the days of Moses to the present day, to confine trafficking, mere trafficking, to as few hands as possible. It seems to be the main objects of this government to give all possible encouragement to traffickers of every description, and to make them swarm like the lice of Egypt. . . . Till excises 2 and loan mongering, 3 these vermin were never heard of in England. They seem to have been
1 These laws were regarded, of course, as interferences with trade, and were soon abolished after the introduction of the laissez-faire policy of the Trade-puritanical party.
2 The invention of the Puritans.
3 The invention of statesmen of the second half of the seventeenth century under the government of the usurper William III.
But, alas! the fair and the market are as good as dead. Like the agricultural life upon which they rested as popular institutions, they were swept away by the triumph of trade and industry, and no one so much as questioned whether it were right or even desirable to abandon either.
The monstrous ulcers which are pompously and euphemistically called the hearts of the Empire grew swollen and inflamed to bursting-point under the new system, backed as it was by religion and the sword; so that even one hundred years ago one of the greatest and deepest men Europe has ever produced did not consider it an absurdity to say that the English were a nation of shopkeepers.
And how, when we look back on this terrible transformation; when we see the youth and flower of England's proletariat and lower middle class marching daily to their mill, to their factory, to their mine, to their suffocating stokeholds, to their stools in stuffy offices, to their shops where they stand like mere selling, virtueless intermediaries between the producer and the buyer, or their horrible benches in a telephone exchange; when we examine their pale and haggard faces, their listless eyes and their emaciated bodies, not even pretending to offer any spirited resistance to the ghastly dehumanising and devitalising nature of their labours; when, moreover, we watch the sweated pauper at his work, and inspect the environment in which he lives the filthy grey slum, its crowded inmates, the bad air, the poor, adulterated and insufficient food and the racking labour we cannot help being staggered by the amazing brutality of the whole scheme
1 Rural Rides (edit. J. M. Dent), Vol. II, pp. 195196.
Instinctively we cry with Cobbett, "My God! is there no spirit left in England?" 1 But when we remember how the metamorphosis of the Englishman was accomplished, what need is there for such a question? We know that there can be but very little spirit left in England.
Are there, however, any grounds for accusing the triumphant Puritan-parliamentary party of inhuman cruelty, as I suggest above? Were they brutal? Were they inhuman?
The difficulty in replying to such questions is not so much to collect evidence as to compress it, and to give its essence.
That the Puritan-parliamentary party were cruel and inhuman no historian ever seems to doubt. But even admitting that no deep religious transformation of a people can ever be accomplished without a cruel disregard of the type which it is proposed should be stamped out, and that, therefore, the very first accusation I have brought against the Puritan party in this essay namely, that of having deliberately imposed the religion, hygiene and diet of commerce and trade upon their fellows in order to rear the necessary slaves for uncontrolled capitalistic industrialism involved the accusation of cruelty, there is still a vast mass of other and independent evidence of their cruelty, as manifested in their activities as ordinary soldiers, rulers, prison-warders, judges.
To take only two instances from the Grand Rebellion selected from the impartial and authoritative narrative of Professor S. R. Gardiner who but a company of bloodthirsty and callous ruffians would in the fifth decade of the seventeenth century have put a gentleman of the stamp of Colonel Reade on the rack day after day, in the hope of wringing from him the secret of his master
1 Rural Rides, Vol. II, p. 264.
But perhaps the reader has read the trial of Strafford and the trial of Laud; and here, apart from all other evidence, has satisfied himself of the brutality of the Puritan party. Indeed, history teems with incidents which confirm my contention, and in concentrating upon the great Commonwealth leader alone, Oliver Cromwell, whose example must have exercised a powerful influence over his contemporaries, ample proof of my charge will be found.
Charles I, the most tasteful and, perhaps, the most patriarchal monarch that England has ever seen, was lying in London under sentence of death. Whatever Cromwell and his colleagues may have thought of him, at least the signing of the unfortunate King's death warrant should have been a solemn and awful affair. These men, it is true, did not know the nature of the crime they were committing, they did not in the least understand the great character of their victim or the value of the things for which he stood; but even if he had been the most disreputable criminal, the signing of his death warrant was certainly not a thing about which a joke could decently have been made or enjoyed. And yet what was Cromwell's behaviour at this solemn moment?
Like an idiotic school-boy he "ragged" and "rotted" his colleagues, and, after having affixed his damnable name to the warrant for Charles's murder, turned to Henry
1 History of the Great Civil War, Vol. I, pp. 112113.
2 Op. cit.,Vol. I, p. 337.
This is a small matter, you may think so, perhaps, it is; but it is significant enough for my purpose. It sufficiently proves Cromwell to have been a man utterly devoid either of good taste or good feeling.
But now let me turn to charges which you may possibly consider more serious and more substantial. It is not generally known that in the seventeenth century Englishmen sold their own flesh and blood into the most cruel form of slavery that form which compels a man to be transported to some distant land away from all his friends and relatives, to toil in tropical heat under the lash of a strange and frequently cruel taskmaster, and to die a victim to an inhuman tradesman who can turn human blood into gold. It is estimated that for some years after the triumph of the Puritans thousands were thus deported to Virginia and Maryland, and Cromwell was himself chiefly responsible for the enslavement of the majority of these thousands. In addition to the Scots taken on the field of Dunbar, the Royalist prisoners of the battle of Worcester and the leaders in the insurrection of Penruddock, Lingard tells us that Cromwell shipped thousands of Irish boys, girls and women to New England, into hopeless slavery, in his ferocious efforts to stamp out Catholicism in Ireland. 2
All the tortures endured by the victims of the Inquisition pale before the lives of excruciating physical and mental suffering endured by these thousands of exiles, driven in herds on shipboard by Cromwell and his assistant butchers, and wrenched from all that they loved and cared for, in order to languish in bondage abroad.
The horrors of the negro slave trade were ghastly
1 Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, by Dr. W. F. Hook, Vol. XI, p. 406.
2 History of England, Vol. VIII, p. 357. For the measures taken by Cromwell to exterminate the Catholic population of Ireland, or to expatriate it, see pp. 356357 and note.
And you must not suppose that the negroes suffered any more cruelly than did their white fellows in bondage. Read E. J. McCormac's White Servitude in Maryland, and see for yourself the brutalities of which these Puritans in New England were capable. See especially the case of William Drake, 1 who in September 1674 suffered such excruciating tortures as a white slave that, as one reads the story, it is difficult to credit one's eyes or the veracity of the historian.
He who is simple-minded, innocent and stupid enough to imagine that these unfortunate Irish Catholics suffered the lash only for their indolence or for their inattention to their labours had better give up thinking about these matters altogether, and devote himself heart and soul to the task that modern Fate in the twentieth century has allotted him. But to one like myself, who has lived with Low Churchmen and Nonconformists, and who has had glimpses into their savage hatreds and their brutal potentialities, kept in check only by law and not by the humanity or nobility of their natures, such a notion is quite absurd. As one who has written so much about Nietzsche the Ante-Christ, and who has been engaged for so long in propagating his doctrines, I know what little chance of quarter, of justice, or even of common or garden mercy, I might expect if ever I got into their power, away from the protection of the law.
Perhaps to some, though not to me, Cromwell's massacres in Ireland will seem more terrible even than his expatriations. The fact that, after taking Drogheda, he gave up the inhabitants to a general slaughter, which lasted for three days, 2 may strike one or two readers as
1 On page 64 of the book mentioned above.
2 In the words of a subaltern in Cromwell's own forces, the atrocities perpetrated at the massacre of Drogheda were terrible. Women were ruthlessly murdered and their jewels torn from their necks and
As a matter of fact, whether this be so or not does not signify. The important point, and the one which is the real characteristic of all these atrocities, is the inhuman disregard of the unprotected and the helpless once they had come into the power of the conquerors. For this is precisely the characteristic of the whole of the modern scheme of life.
The revolting cruelties of our early factory and mining life, the appalling brutality of our treatment of children in industry, the callous barbarity of the apprentice traffic (once so scandalous in England), the hideous ill-treatment of the little chimney-sweeps, and the hard unconcern with which even the modern world allows thousands and thousands of the proletariat to be dehumanised and sickened by besotting and hopeless labours all these things, with which no monarch, however benign, however patriarchal, can now interfere, I regard as merely part and parcel with the original brutality of the true ancestors of the modern world, the Puritan and Free Parliamentary party, whose power, whose principles and whose life-despising morality have been paramount in England ever since the last upholder of good taste and popular liberty was overthrown and murdered by them in the fatal fifth decade of the seventeenth century.
And when I look around me to-day, and perceive the harsh, ugly, unhealthy, vulgar, nervous and spiritless life of modern times; when I see the seething discontent in all grades of society, and especially in the women of north-western Europe, it seems to me by no means extravagant or even fantastic to suppose that at this present moment we are witnessing the final unfolding of the bloom, the finest flower and the most perfect product of that religion of gain and greed, of trade and
fingers, and little children were taken up by Cromwell's soldiers as bucklers of defence "to keep themselves from being shot or brained." See Lingard, op. cit., Vol. VIII, p. 635.