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_ . , .PREFATORY NOTE
-MY.friend Mr. Beard asks me to put a few words of '
preface to his little book. I do not know that it needs any such introduction, and I remember what Mandeville has wisely and wittily said about prefaces, but I cannot refuse to do as he wishes, for I think that what he has written will be useful to the working people for whom he has written, and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity of saying, and desiring me to say here some things to them I have wished to say for some time.
The classes that labour with their hands for weekly wages have now entrusted to them much of the power
possessed by the Government of this country. The' ‘
future of this country, and the parts of the world dependent on it must be largely settled by the use, wise or foolish, good or evil, they will be making of this power. Their own future depends on it If they refuse to think, if they choose to listen to fools’ advice, if they do not take advantage of the opportunities they have for making themselves better, morally, physically, and intellectually, the world will pass them by speedily
and inevitably. Goodwill is no excuse in face of facts; _
only good deeds will count. .
Knowledge and the will to use it, and the courage and perseverance required to use it rightly, these are the necessities of progress and of well-being of any kind. Ignorance that may be felt (but that may by honest effort be destroyed) is the cause of many more of our troubles than we like to admit. Science, not Creed, is the Deliverer, if we will only take the trouble to follow it. There will be plenty of mistakes on the ' “way, but if a man means to learn by his former mistakes, he nearly always has the chance, and the advance, though slow, will be continuous.
Democracy is no heaven-born institution. There is
no right divine about it. Darwin has dismissed the fatal poisonous absurdities of Rousseau to the limbo of lost rubbish. if democracy cannot do its work, it will, and must, go as other political methods and expedients have gone. If this country is not healthier, stronger, wiser, happier, and better OH in the highest '. sense under a democracy than it was under an oligarchy, democracy will have failed, and some other plan of government will be tried, whether people like it or not. Democracy is on its trial. If it is worked by wise men and honest men, it may do well; if it is worked by ignorant, prejudiced, gullible, and selfish persons, it will not do well. The greatest enemy of the democracy is the lie-maker, the flatterer, and the person who tries to persuade the voter that dishonesty is not always the worst policy, and that a bit of boodle for himself cannot hurt him or anyone else. A democracy, of all governments, is the least able to afford to listen to lies, or to grow corrupt, or to remain self-indulgent or ignorant. Its stability depends upon the persons it trusts; if it trusts the wrong persons, it falls sooner or later—generally sooner.
These are commonplaces, but they are not sufficiently attended to. Democracy is a good or bad thing as they are remembered and attended to or not. It is worse and more unpleasant and more dangerous to be ruled by many fools than by one fool or a few fools. The tyranny of an ignorant and cowardly mob is a worse tyranny than the tyranny of an ignorant and cowardly clique or individual. Rulers are not wise by reason of their number or their poverty, or their reception of a weekly wage instead of a monthly salary or yearly income.
Again, workers are not respectable or to be con-sidered because they work more with their hands or feet than with their brains, but because the work they
do is good. If it is not good work they do, they are
h ' '
‘as'un litable as any other wasters. Aplumber is not
’ a' use ul or admirable creature because he plumbs (if he plumbs ignorantly or dishonestly he is often either a manslayer or a murderer), but because he plumbs well, and saves the community from danger and damp, . disease, and fire and water. Makers of useless machinemade ornaments are, however “horny-handed,” really “anti-social persons," baneful to the community as far as their bad work goes; more baneful, possibly, than the consumers of these bad articles, quite as baneful as the entrepreneur: who employ them. We “ practical English " spend millions on machine-made ornaments, and so—called art which is not art. Every furniture-maker’s shop is crowded with badly-made, badly-ornamented stuff which ought never to have been made, and would never be sold if people only took the trouble to try and understand the difference between real art and sham art; if they only knew so much as that a machine can only copy, it cannot make or create a beautiful thing at all. The hand of man, worked by the brain of man, is needed for that. A Windsor chair is an honest piece of work, acceptablel; the pieces of the wretched “ drawing-room suite ” the women are so proud to put in their front parlours are vile to look at, and degrading tolive with. The wax flowers you see in the front windows of “ respectable artisans’ ” houses, and the detestable - printed vases ” they set on their chimney-pieces, “ :nrmtels "they call them,are horrible to look at, and ' pun" waste to make. They do not please the eye;~ they merely puff up a silly and anti-social conceit. They are symbols of snobbery. The dreadful waste on sham art and bad ornament is bad and anti-progressive. People who cheat themselves into liking,
\or pretending to like, bad art are blind to good art, blind to natural beauty, and cannot understand what true art is. This is a degrading state to be in for any person or set of persons.
' skill, greater endurance, keener courage.
We must not be deceived by words. We talk or “doing well " when we only mean “getting rich,” which is a very different thing in many cases. The only good institutions are those that do good work ; the only good work done is that which produces good results, whether they be direct, as the ploughman's, or navvy’s, or sailor's; or indirect, as the policeman, or the schoolmaster, or the teacher of good art, or the writer of books that are worth reading. .A man is no better or wiser than others by reason of his position or lack of position, but by reason of his stronger body, wiser head, better Knowledge teaches a community to breed better children, to bring them up better, to employ them better, to encourage them to behave better, and work better, and play better, and in their turn breed children who shall have better chances than themselves—not necessarily _ better chances to grow rich or to become idle, but better chances to become honourable, wise, strongbodied and strong-brained able men and women. No '
. system of government, no set of formulas, can save a'
state unless the people who work the system or