Certainly not

I was now invited as the guest of many distinguished personages, and
thoroughly enjoyed my life for the next few days. I found New Amazonian
men quite as charming as the women, both as regards physique and
culture. Beards were in great favour here, and shaving was decidedly at
a discount, but a great length of hair was not coveted by anyone, and
the beards were always neatly clipped.

At the different entertainments I noticed a great deal of promiscuity
such as would hardly be tolerated in aristocratic English society. Not
that there was ever anyone present who was not perfectly well-bred. But
intellect was the principal passport to social privileges here, and we
all know that intellectuality may languish in obscure corners in
England, unless backed by strong personal or monetary interest, and that
our class prejudices are unpleasantly strong.

A young mechanician whom I met at the house of one of the Prime Advisers
was a universal favourite, and his modesty and good sense were admirable
foils to the plethora of self-esteem which I have seen engendered in
English “lions” for far less potent reasons. I was told that his
inventions and improvements in matters relating to sanitary science were
so marvellous and of so beneficent a nature, that he was to be rewarded
with the medal of the Order of Merit, an honour which, it will be
observed, was well worth having, he being only the thirtieth recipient
within two hundred years.

It was not difficult for me to secure an interview with him, as mutual
curiosity drew us together. If I had expected his conversation to savour
of “shop,” I was strongly mistaken, for not a word of his own great
achievements did he breathe, and he drew me out so skilfully, that
half-an-hour passed in conversation with him before his professional
instincts were at all aroused, and then it was in response to some reply
I had made respecting the locality in which I resided when last I
remembered being in my own country.

“Within fifteen minutes walk of the house in which George Stephenson
resided!” he exclaimed in great wonderment. “I always understood that it
was quite a humble affair. Surely it must have crumbled to dust
centuries ago?”

“By no means.” I returned. “The cottage looked very pretty and
picturesque the last time I saw it. It is tenanted by people who take a
pride in the garden, and it would compare favourably in external
appearance with any other cottage of the same size in England. It is
known locally as the ‘Dial House,’ as it boasts a sundial of which some
portion was the work of Stephenson himself. At the end of the house is a
very well-stocked greenhouse, and the space of ground in which the great
engineer had some lines laid for experimental purposes is converted into
a kitchen garden.”

“It seems so incredible, that I can hardly take it all in,” said John
Saville, with a smile which robbed his words of all possibility of
giving offence. “Nevertheless, I would give much to be able to see the
same place, and witness the actual scenes in which a great genius
conceived the wonderful inventions which revolutionised the commerce and
social relations of the world.”

“But you would not appear to venerate Stephenson’s inventions very much,
since you have discarded them altogether in favour of other systems of
locomotion.”

“True. But our electric-hydraulic-ways are in reality gradual
evolvements arising from the basis afforded by a knowledge of locomotive
travelling, as it still existed a few centuries ago. And we can never
forget that for some hundreds of years railways were the chief factors
of civilisation.”

“There is another thing which New Amazonians have discarded, for no
sufficient reason it seems to me.”

“And that is?”

“Christianity.”

“There you labour under a mistake. New Amazonians did not discard
Christianity. It was Christianity which declined to help them. When New
Amazonia was first peopled by the colonists from Teuto-Scotland, the
adult colonists were, as you doubtless know, all women. It was the
intention of these women to govern their State with as much success as
was compatible with the rejection of conventionality and traditionary
laws. It had hitherto been their lot to be excluded from a great
proportion of national privileges, which had been usurped by the
masculine sex for ages. In casting about for the principal causes of
their limitations of fairplay, they found, them, or thought they did so,
in the doctrines of Christianity. One of the principal Christian writers
indeed, seemed to be quite as much bent upon insulting, humiliating, and
subjugating woman, as he was upon spreading the Christian cause. New
Amazonian leaders found that they could not take an active part in
public affairs without violating all the rules laid down for woman’s
guidance and man’s encouragement by the Apostle Paul. It was a case
either of Christianity and reversion to Slavery, or a sort of
Unitarianism and Freedom, and they did not hesitate long as to what
choice to make. They were not likely, being intelligent beings, to
inaugurate a retrogressive movement by instructing their boys in tenets
which constantly preached the inferiority and subservience of women,
especially as they believed St. Paul’s utterances on matters feminine to
be dictated more by spite than by honest conviction.”

“And what were their grounds for this belief?”

“Their reasons are easily explained. We have it on reliable authority
that Saul of Tarsus, whose parents were Greeks, not Jews, but who had
himself adopted the Jewish persuasion, was a man of very violent
passions and prejudices. He hated the Christians, and took delight in
helping to exterminate them. It was when in Jerusalem, bent upon some
such mission, that he was introduced to the daughter of the Jewish High
Priest, and fell passionately in love with her. To his intense
mortification, his proposal for her hand was rejected, and he henceforth
hated both women and Jews, becoming enthusiastically Christian by way of
a change.”

“But, even if this be true, the fact that Paul is not believed in here
would hardly account for the repudiation of the doctrines taught by the
other apostles of Christianity.”

“I think it would. You see, Paul was a man of great ability, who had had
the advantage of studying under one of the greatest teachers of the age.
His words carried weight with them, and influenced those with whom he
associated. His writings and influence are inseparable from
Christianity. Even were this not so, there is only too much proof given
in History that of all bigots and fanatics, Christian bigots and
fanatics are the most cruel, relentless, and implacable. Christ Himself
would have repudiated a religion which has made His name an excuse for
robbery, oppression, murder, and immorality.”

“You surely exaggerate enormously. All Christians disseminate the
doctrines preached by Christ in His famous Sermon on the Mount. The Ten
Commandments especially are taught to all young Christians.”

“Yes, and a fine mockery it has been, to be sure! You will remember that
one commandment adjures us to refrain from making ‘any graven image, nor
the likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or in the earth
beneath, or in the water under the earth.’ We are forbidden to bow down
to such things, or to worship them. And yet how small a proportion of
Christian peoples ever obeyed these injunctions! Until the time of one
Martin Luther, God himself was utterly set aside in the Christian
churches, which were filled with images and shrines, before which
deluded suppliants poured out their vain supplications. Christianity had
been entirely supplanted by Idolatry, and existed as such only in name.
Again, we are forbidden to take the name of the great Life-giver in
vain, and yet what do we find recorded? Priests, calling themselves
Christians, professed to have the power to grant forgiveness of sins in
the name of the Almighty! Some of these sins were actually _in futuro_,
and whether past, or still to be committed, their confession to a
priest, accompanied by the gift of a sum of money, ensured a free pardon
from Heaven. Of course, the _money_ was always required, and those who
were too poor to pander to priestly greed were remorselessly consigned
to Purgatory. Murder, of course, was strictly forbidden, and yet the
advocates of Christianity murdered and tortured thousands of people,
simply because they presumed to differ slightly in opinion from those in
office. Stealing was prohibited; but the priests were willing to take
the last mite from the oppressed poor, rather than abate one jot of
their lazy, sensuous privileges. As for the sin of covetousness, in whom
has it ever shown itself more rampant than in the men whose chief
energies were directed towards appropriating the wealth of all with whom
they came in contact, for the joint benefit of themselves and the
Church?”

“I grant you all this. But it refers to a state of things which has long
since passed away.”

“Has image-worship passed away? Do priests work for the pure love of
God, or do they look upon their vocation as a means of making a
livelihood more to their taste than some others? Is the priestly office
the guerdon of merit and ability? Or is it still the perquisite of those
who have money and family influence at command? Do priests exercise
universal charity and kindly feeling? Have they given up thinking that
none but themselves and a few like-minded individuals will be allowed to
enter Heaven? Do they feel as much reverence for goodness in the lowly,
as they do for grandeur in high places? Do they discourage the presence
in their churches of disreputable persons, if these persons happen to be
rich, and are able to be used as pecuniary aids? In a word, are the
churches possessed of truly Christ-like qualities, without which none
can be a Christian?”

John Saville had by this time worked himself into a perfect glow of
enthusiasm, while I certainly felt correspondingly humiliated, for I was
not in a position to return an affirmative answer to all his questions.

Did I not remember seeing a man who had not thrown off the effects of
the previous night’s intoxication officiating in a prominent position,
with the priest’s approval, in one of our Established churches? Have I
not witnessed many another instance of priestly tolerance of evil for
Mammon’s sake? Have I not recently met with a specimen of clerical
intolerance which would do credit to the religious persecutors of old?
Candidates for confirmation are requested to confess their crimes to
themselves, and to turn from the error of their ways, before they can
consider themselves fit to take their stand as Christians. The sins and
crimes are presented to the eyes of the penitents in the form of printed
questions, and one of these questions runs thus: “Have you ever entered
a _Dissenting Chapel_?”

I saw this myself in the year 1889, and was compelled now to admit the
conviction that to discard Christ and to discard Christianity may be two
very different things. It seemed marvellous, when I came to think of it,
how a thinking people like the New Amazonians should, after all these
ages, have singled out Christ as the one pure and shining light of
earth, so godlike as to be worthy of being at once translated to
companionship with the Giver of Life, seeing that His professed devotees
have, since the earliest times of the Church, done more to bring His
cause into disrepute than all His enemies.

“You admit yourself worsted?” smiled Mr. Saville.

“I confess as much,” I replied. “But how comes it that you, a man,
should so enthusiastically uphold the only Constitution in the world
which has, so far as I know, successfully resisted man’s striving for
supremacy?”

“Because I am thoroughly satisfied and contented with my lot, and
because no country upon earth presents such advantages to her citizens
as New Amazonia does. Our women have proved their capacity to govern
wisely and well. Our Constitution has found imitators, proof positive
that others regard our system with approval. Yet nowhere do we meet with
such health and prosperity as in our country, for man’s political
influence has in all ages proved corruptive and retrogressive. Our
health is perfect, and we know that it is to the beneficent rule of our
women that we owe our strength of mind and body. It would be suicidal on
our part to wish to revert to a state of things which insured us nothing
so much as sickly bodies. For how could we expect to be strong and
healthy as we are if our mothers were reduced to the condition of the
women some of us see when we travel?”

“But do you not find your social masculine disabilities somewhat
irritating?”

“We do not labour under any disabilities of importance that I know of.
We are not eligible for Political Office, but many men hold important
and lucrative posts under Government, in which our administrative
talents are given fairplay and in all other respects the educational,
social, and elective privileges of the sexes are perfectly equal.”

“I am glad to hear such opinions from you. If you could hear the
croaking that goes on in my country at the mere prospect of women being
allowed to vote, you would wonder at the amount of prejudice and
opposition which your ancestresses overcame.”

“Well, when you get back to your country, you must try to enlighten your
own compatriots.”

“Suppose I were never to find my way back, how do you suppose I should
fare here? Will the Mother soon be tired of entertaining me?”

“Not just yet, I think. But if your stay with us should prove likely to
be permanent, you would yourself most probably desire to make some
arrangement whereby you could secure a provision for old age. You
probably have been trained to a profession of some kind?”

“No, I have not. I was brought up as the majority of young women in my
country are brought up. It was supposed, I expect, that I should settle
down in due course, that is, marry, and that an independent profession
for myself would not be needed.”

“And you say that such folly is the common practice in your country?
That accounts for many of the deplorable things you have told me. How
can women be independent and free, if they have to rely upon others to
keep them? Where is the woman in New Amazonia, do you think, who would
care thus to sacrifice her position of self-reliant independence? Such a
being does not exist, and I think that your women have themselves or
their guardians to thank in great measure for all the disadvantages
under which they labour. It will be rather awkward for you, though, if
you cannot turn your hand to anything.”

“I suppose it would be awkward, if this were so. As it happens, however,
I never gave myself up to an idle life, but gradually drifted into
literature, and I could probably find employment on one of your numerous
journals.”

“Certainly. If you are a graphic writer, you are sure of an appointment.
Such writers are always welcome, and you must have so much to say. You
will not need to cast about long for employment, should it be your lot
to remain with us, and you will be able to earn as much as will make
ample provision for old age when it comes.

“As you are perhaps aware, a small percentage of our earnings is always
appropriated by the State, and a proportionate pension becomes our due
as soon as we wish to claim it. If we claim our pension at the age of
seventy or eighty, it is relatively smaller than if we wait until our
hundredth year or thereabouts. We are usually not in a hurry to place
ourselves upon the pension list, for our active period of labour ceases
then, and this source of income is lost. Still, if we have filled
responsible positions in life, and have been fortunate enough to
accumulate wealth, we can, if we like, hand it all over to the State, in
return for an augmented annuity. My own parents have done this, and are
very happy and comfortable, with not a care in the world.

“There is also another source of profit which we enjoy. New Amazonia is
one huge co-operative establishment, for we are all interested in
promoting its stability and prosperity. There is another condition,
besides being compelled to have reached a certain age, before we can
vote at elections. We must all, women and men, purchase a share in the
country, and we are all very anxious to do so, seeing that these shares
are always at a premium, and command greater returns than any other form
of investment.”

“Surely this is a source of danger to the community. Could not some
people, by purchasing a large number of shares, thus obtain the means of
usurping undue power and influence?”

“Impossible! We are not permitted to hold more than one share
individually. The idea is to make us all of equal station in the eyes of
the law, and to ensure our individual interest in the maintenance of
peace and order. When a State bondholder dies, the equivalent of her or
his bond is divided amongst such legatees as may have been named in the
will.”

“And if there is no will?”

“That never happens, for it is compulsory to make a will immediately
upon becoming a State shareholder. Of course, if we wish the value of
our Bond to revert to the State, we name the State as our legatee, and
we are at liberty to alter our will whenever we please.”

“You seem to have no money here, other than the all-pervading silver
unit. Is this your standard of value in all monetary transactions?”

“Yes; the unit pervades every business transaction, if not practically,
at least theoretically. But it is seldom used to pay large amounts with;
a paper currency serving our purposes much better than metal coinage
would do.”

“Are private banks for business houses allowed to issue paper money?”

“No, none but State coupons are permitted to be issued.”

“Now, just one more question, and then I have finished. I am told that
the State is the ultimate receiver of all manufactured goods, which may
neither be retailed nor exported without first yielding the imposed
percentage. Is it not possible for a group of speculators to force
prices up, either by buying a vast quantity of goods from the
manufacturers, and selling at their own price to the State; or, more
probable, could they not buy in large quantities from the State, and
retail at their own prices to the public?”

“Certainly not. The State would not deal with them. Nor would it permit
any increase of prices not necessitated by the legitimate exigencies of
trade. Speculators of the class to which you allude would find a sorry
field for their operations here.”

I could not complain of the amount of information I had obtained from
John Saville; but I should probably have been still further enlightened
had not our hostess come to claim our attention in different directions.
But before saying farewell for the night, he asked me to visit his
parents on the day following, and promised me a little enlightenment
concerning some domestic arrangements in which I was interested.

On being introduced to John Saville’s home, I found a great deal more of
simple solid comfort than I had expected, and such an air of domesticity
as my own residence in the college had led me to suppose altogether
absent from New Amazonian dwellings. At my own request, my visit was of
the most informal kind, and not another stranger was there here to
disturb the cosiness of the quiet chat which I wished to enjoy.

Mrs. Saville was possessed of the bright brown hair, clear rosy skin,
and deep grey eyes, so indicative of pure Irish descent, coupled with a
grace and charm of manner I had never seen equalled by an Englishwoman
of similar age. Mr. Saville also struck me as just a likely sort of man
to be the father of such a clever, popular son. It was clear that they
both doted upon him, and just as clear that he would have been sorry to
do anything likely to cause them grief.

But they did not treat me to a long category of each other’s virtues,
preferring to let me form my own opinion of them as individuals, while
they did their best to initiate me into the ways of New Amazonian
domestic life. Their house consisted of a suite of rooms in a large
block of buildings in one of the best parts of Andersonia, and was
fitted with even convenience which would conduce to ease and comfort.

The furniture was ideally suitable, good, and elegant, but the pictures
on the walls, like many others which I had seen lately, amused me not a
little. It seemed to me at first that they were all out of perspective,
and that neither walking biped, running quadruped, nor flying bird was
painted aright. By-and-bye, however, I got more used to these pictorial
oddities, and caught myself thinking that when I got home again, I
should be wanting to introduce some of these Muybridgeian notions into
my own rooms.

The fire cast a comfortable glow on all around, making it difficult to
believe that the problem of fuel for the future was now definitely
settled, and that electricity could now and henceforth be made to supply
the necessary fuel for warming, lighting, cooking, and manufacturing
purposes. No dirt or dust from ashes, and no discoloration as the result
of burning gas was here felt, for neither the one nor the other were now
in use. Both had served humanity well in their day. Both were now
superseded by a much more efficient, cleanly, and convenient agent.

After our very appetising evening meal had been despatched; I was taken
on a tour of inspection round the building, or, rather, round such parts
of it as were public to all the tenants. The basement consisted entirely
of shops, which were connected by means of telephones with every suite
in the block, and could, with the aid of electric lifts, supply anything
ordered per telephone at a moment’s notice. Nor was there any fear of
extortionate charges, or a poor sample of goods, since everything had to
be priced according to the day’s Government scale, and the daily visits
of Government inspectors ensured the withdrawal of inferior or
unwholesome articles.

While conversing on telephonic subjects, I mentioned that even in my
benighted country we had made good use of this valuable invention.
“There are even telephones attached to churches and theatres,” I said,
“by means of which a sermon or a song may be heard at great distances
from the places in which they are delivered. But of course you have even
improved upon these notions?”

“I think we have,” smiled Mrs. Saville. “Some hundreds of years ago
there was hardly a building in New Amazonia which was not a perfect
network of telephones and patent lifts, and our people began to give the
Mother considerable anxiety, for they showed rapid signs of
deterioration. On looking round for the causes of this unfortunate
falling back, it was found to be produced by the mania for saving labour
and exercise of every possible sort, and drastic measures were speedily
introduced.

“Many of the lifts were abolished, and substantial staircases erected in
their stead, up and down which the people were expected to walk when
going in or out. The goods lifts were, however, not considered too
provocative of laziness and inactivity, and still remain very useful
adjuncts to civilization.

“The telephone system, though disapproved of by the Mother, did not
require quite such stringent measures to make it almost a thing of the
past, so far as mere amusement is concerned.

“When it first became possible to hear a concert or lecture without
being compelled to leave one’s own house, everybody went in for this
sort of spiritless amusement. But it soon palled upon the people, for
there is no comparison between such a namby-pamby apology for social
enjoyment, and the pleasure to be derived from sitting within sight of
the speakers or musicians, and taking in their general appearance,
gestures, and accessories. Curiosity will always be one of the
strongest elements in human composition, and no social pleasure is
perfect which does not permit the eyes to aid the ears in their
appreciation of the fare offered to them. When, therefore, the novelty
of telephonic entertainments was over, the people tired of them, and
hardly cared to listen to the amusing or instructive sounds they had
paid their money to ensure. And when, a few years later, the
Government imposed a tax upon the use of all telephones not of a
strictly useful or business nature, the _coup de grâce_ was given to
the stay-at-home-and-enjoy-the-concert-at-your-ease system, and we
have never reverted to it since.”

After that, I thought, I will be careful about boasting of English
progress, since what we deem the summit of luxurious ease is here looked
upon as the babyhood of true civilization.

“And did the reforms you mention produce the results which Government
aimed at?” I enquired aloud.

“Yes,” was the reply. “Bodily health and strength depend in great
measure upon a rational exercise of our physical capabilities. The more
exercise of a reasonable nature we take, the stronger and the more
capable of work and enjoyment are we. The more we give way to indolence,
and yield to the temptation to stay indoors, the more demoralized and
unfit for the daily duties of life do we become. To encourage anything
that produces physical deterioration is to retard our chances of
attaining spiritual perfection, and is too dear a price to pay for such
unsatisfactory results.”

While talking, we were making due progress in our investigations, and by
this time had come to a part of the building which filled me with
admiring wonder. A large brass plate affixed to a massive door informed
me that these were the premises of the Domestic Aid Society. On touching
an electric bell, the door opened, and showed us a spacious vestibule,
at one side of which was situated the office of the check-clerk, whose
vocation it was to keep a strict account of all comings and goings, and
register the orders and commissions which were constantly coming in per
telephone from different parts of this and other buildings in the city.

This, it seemed, was visitors’ day, and we proceeded to inspect the
Domestic Aid Society’s premises at our leisure. The first room we
entered was a working hall, in which members of both sexes were busily
engaged in fashioning various articles for personal and household use.
It was a species of dressmaking, millinery, tailoring, and plain sewing
establishment all rolled into one.

The room was comfortably and artistically furnished. The presses for
storing materials and work were elaborately carved, and pleasant to look
upon. The light, warmth, and ventilation were all perfect, and I could
not help thinking how delighted a London worker would be, if privileged
to labour in such pleasant quarters. No wonder everybody looked happy
and healthy here, since even the most humble in the land were ensured
perfect sanitary surroundings, and limited hours of work.

Another room that pleased me exceedingly was the cookery. Here, for the
benefit of those who preferred to order their supplies ready for the
table, every branch of the culinary art was in progress, from the making
of plain bread to the concoction of the most delicate dainties. The
walls of the cookery were covered with white tiles; the floor was white,
the tables were immaculate, and the cooks and confectioners were
spotlessly neat and clean.

There was neither fuss, heat, nor discomfort, as is the case in England
when a great deal of cooking has to be done, for the work was done
systematically, and the greatest pains had been taken to make all the
conditions of labour as pleasant as possible.

Our next visit was made to the laundry, and it was a treat to see how
science had been brought to bear upon the solution of the greatest
problem which my own countrywomen are beset with, viz., how to minimise
the labour and discomfort which with us so invariably attend washing
days. From beginning to end, nearly every laundry operation was
conducted by means of noiseless electric machinery, manipulated by
skilled workpeople who knew their work to be quite as valuable, and much
more necessary, than the productions of those who followed the purely
ornamental arts.

In response to my questions on the subject, Mrs. Saville gave me the
following information:—

“The Domestic Aid Society is one of the most popular of all New
Amazonian institutions, and there are establishments of this sort all
over the country. They are generally the property of private
individuals, but are strictly subjected to State supervision and
regulation. The books are kept with the utmost exactness, and there is
never any difficulty in apportioning the share of profit which is due to
the Mother. The workpeople, no matter in what department they may be,
are all, with the exception of the supervisors and learners, paid on the
same scale. This enables our people to make their choice of a vocation
in favour of the employment they fancy most, without financial or social
reasons requiring to be taken into consideration, since both pay and
position are equal. The hours are from seven in the morning until five
at night, with intervals for meals. All work out of these hours is paid
for on a special scale. Besides the specialists whom you have seen,
there are many people employed by the Domestic Aid Societies. We charter
for servants by the day, week, or month, who come at the time agreed
upon and discharge any household duties which we may wish to entrust to
them. Messengers are also supplied for a trifling commission. Our
domestic work is always well done, for the assistants are trained by the
State, and are interested in securing our goodwill, as a bonus is
attached to the successful completion of a lengthened term of service in
one household. It is not often that we wish our assistants to be
changed, for the very fact of knowing that we have only to telephone to
the office to effect any change we desire, does away with the
irascibility so often engendered by the ancient system of engaging
servants for long periods, and being compelled to find sleeping
accommodation for them. We are not, however, in any case, addicted to
finding unnecessary faults in our assistants, for all our complaints are
registered, and if it is found that we are exceptionally bad to please,
we have to pay a slightly augmented tariff by way of atoning for our
unpleasant peculiarities.”

“And how do these domestic helps employ their time when not on active
duty? And what is their relative position as compared with skilled
workpeople? Is their work regarded as inferior?”

“By no means. Domestic assistants occupy a very honourable position in
our social economy, for they, like others, have to go through a careful
course of training, and fulfil very important duties. Their scale of pay
is good, and it is by no means difficult for them to purchase a
State-Coupon, if they are thrifty. Their spare time is employed in
consonance with their own inclinations. There is a fine recreation hall
attached to every Domestic Agency in the country. In these our working
classes can enjoy themselves to their heart’s content, by means of
social converse, music, reading, dancing, or games of skill.”

“This question of working classes _versus_ educated classes is a very
potent one with us. Class prejudice is strong, and our aristocracy would
not submit to associate with artisans or domestic assistants on such
equal terms as is habitual with you, unless, indeed, one of them were to
succeed to a fortune, and then all her or his vulgarities and
shortcoming would find plenty of consideration. How do you account for
the superior element of sociality in your country?”

“Easily. We are all educated on the same footing. Some of us develop
literary, artistic, or scientific instincts early in life, and speedily
find our vocation. Others whose full brain powers are not yet developed,
or who are diffident of their own ability to adopt one of the higher
professions, choose a mechanical training, and discover afterwards that
they have missed their _forte_. Nothing daunted, they employ their
leisure in retrieving lost ground, and while possibly serving in the
capacity of domestic help, may be qualifying for classical or surgical
examinations, and may even at some distant date be privileged to become
Leaders. We respect mental and moral greatness, even if in embryo, and
never object to society that is pleasant in itself.”

“What a paradisaical state of things,” I sighed, fervently. “You can do
nothing in my country without plenty of money, and, for the matter of
that, how do your erstwhile inferiorities succeed in reaching positions
of eminence, seeing that they must have heavy examination fees to pay,
for which the adequate amount can hardly be saved out of working class
wages? Or does the State provide examiners free of charge?”

“No. Our examiners, as you may easily suppose, are very responsible,
and, therefore, very well-paid officials. But they are not a source of
expense to the Government, because the scale of examination fees is such
as to leave a substantial margin of State profit. Want of funds is never
an obstacle to progress here, for candidates for examination are
permitted to pay the fees from their future earnings.”

“And suppose they were inclined to forget the repayment part of the
business, what then?”

At this question, my hearers looked so astounded that I felt painfully
conscious of having committed a huge blunder, the nature of which was
soon made evident to me by the reply I received. “You must really come
from a very strange country,” said John Saville, fortunately for my
composure, in the pleasantest of tones, “for such a question to be
possible to you. The individual who could thus think of cheating would
not be a New Amazonian. But, even if this were so, the Mother has the
remedy in her own hands. She would withhold the pension to which we are
all honourably entitled in old age.”

“As you imply,” I responded deprecatively, “my people are not like your
people, so you must excuse the ignorance which prompted what is
evidently an offensive question. I wish I could say as much for English
national morality as you can for yours. But it is a painful fact that
fully one-half of the English race subsists upon the results of the
crimes or follies of the other half. I prefer, however, to talk of local
topics, and learn all I can of your social system while I have the
opportunity. You will, therefore, I hope, not consider me very
troublesome, if I ask yet another question or two.”

“We shall be only too happy to afford you any assistance in our power,”
replied Mr. Saville.

“Then,” I said, “can you tell me how a large business, say, a Domestic
Aid Agency, would fare, if the business done were inadequate, or the
capital subscribed too small? Would the proprietors become bankrupt, or
would the Mother help them out of their difficulties?”

“Bankruptcy is, I believe, an obsolete term, implying that the subject
of it has contracted debts which she or he does not intend to pay. Such
things do not occur here. If we order a thing, and reap the benefit of
it, nothing but death itself exonerates us from ultimate payment. If a
business is not prospering, application is usually made to the proper
authorities to institute an investigation and assist us out of our
difficulties. Should it prove that our incapacity is at the root of the
evil, we are advised to adopt some less onerous mode of earning a
livelihood, and our proportion of the liabilities is discharged by the
State, and accredited to us for future repayment. If, however, mere lack
of capital is cramping our operations, the State supplies the necessary
impetus, and constitutes itself an active partner, by purchasing as many
shares as will float the business financially, and by appointing a
Government agent to assist in the management. In fact, there is not a
business of any magnitude in the land in which the Mother is not a
partner, and, in addition, she of course takes the percentage of the
profits, which in other countries is raised unjustly and unequally by
means of clumsily imposed taxes.”

“As with us, in fact.”

“Is this so? I must know a little more of this
very-much-behind-the-times country of yours, which you call England.
England, as known to us, ceased to exist centuries ago, and yet you have
spoken of living in the vicinity of the home of George Stephenson. How
this can be, I cannot understand. We know that when he lived, the
neighbouring island, now called Teuto-Scotland, was called England. But
we also know that hundreds of years are supposed to have passed since
the last vestige of Stephenson’s Northumbrian home was destroyed. How do
you explain such anomalies?”

So spoke Mr. Saville, and the rest of our conversation consisted of
explanations and descriptions on my own part which proved intensely
interesting to the Saville family, but which would sound so much like an
oft-told tale to my readers, that I refrain from inflicting it upon
them.

After all this conversation we were in the mood to enjoy the dainty meal
spread before us. The young woman in attendance was one of the employés
of the Domestic Agency, and had served Mrs. Saville, to their mutual
satisfaction, for five years. She moved about the room with a grace born
of her perfect physical training, which I would fain see prevalent in my
own country. In response to a question of John Saville’s, she informed
us that there was to be a grand amateur theatrical entertainment in the
Recreation Hall that evening, at which she intended to be one of the
performers.

As she was one of the indoor servants of the Agency, and slept in the
building, she was practically at home during most of her hours of
recreation, and she spoke with all the verve and vigour of one who
enjoyed life to the utmost. She was merry without familiarity; energetic
without being fussy; and respectful without being servile—altogether the
very _beau idéal_ of a nice-looking and intelligent waiting maid.

As I noted herself and her ways critically, I thought that there was
really no reason why we should not establish these Domestic Aid Agencies
in England. We are not usually very slow in adopting socially economic
ideas which have once suggested themselves to us, and if enterprise and
capital united were to take the notion up, the chief sources of English
domestic worry would be soon put an end to, as would also the reluctance
of respectable girls to adopt what is at present in only too many cases
nothing better than a life of dull, miserable slavery.

The meal ended, and the things all cleared away, Alice O’Reilly’s work
for the day was over, and she betook herself to her own quarters, in
order to prepare for the evening’s innocent jollities, while we again
reverted to our comparisons of the social conditions of our respective
countries. I believe that the hardest nut which I gave the Saville
family to crack was my statement that when I last remembered being at
home, the English Government had consigned some zealous partisans of
Irish liberty to the temporary seclusion of some gaols in Ireland, which
I was now assured had long ceased to exist. It was in vain that I
insisted; and when I spoke of Queen Victoria, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr.
Parnell as living contemporaneously with myself, the amusement of my
friends was, in its turn, amusing to witness.

“I wouldn’t be surprised, after that,” said John Saville, “to hear that
you claim personal acquaintance with the immortal writer of Hamlet and
Macbeth.”

“Do you allude to Shakespeare or Bacon?” I queried innocently.

“Bacon? I know nothing of Bacon,” retorted John Saville. “But I am very
much in love with the works of a certain William Shakespeare.”

“You think you are. Shakespeare did not write the plays bearing his
name. The real author was Bacon, as several individuals have set
themselves to prove.”

“I am afraid they have proved their case but badly. For while all our
scholars have Shakesperian quotations at their tongues’ ends, there is
not one of us who has ever heard a whisper of any presumed Baconian
origin of our best loved classics.”

Poor Mr. Donnelly!

From playwright to novelist was a natural transition; and, remembering
sundry financial bruisings in connection with the publication of one of
my earliest and lengthiest novels, a glow of exultation possessed me
when I learnt the conditions under which books were published nowadays.

The long-suffering author had triumphed at last, and his erstwhile
oppressor was shorn of his glory. I was told that the State had
established an immense Literary Bureau, with which large printing and
publishing works were associated. All works other than already licensed
newspapers and magazines intended for publication were submitted in the
first instance to the Bureau, and read by the official censor.

If found to be innocent of offences against morality, the book was taken
in hand, and published under State authority, the author paying the
whole of the cost, and receiving the whole of the future emoluments,
subject to the five per cent. tax accruing to the State. There was no
arbitrary range of charges, but a scale of payment for work done which
was sufficient to repay the State outlay, _plus_ a slight percentage of
profit. Writers could, by studying the printed tariff, know exactly what
style and quality of material and workmanship to choose, and would also
know to a fraction what their expenses would be. Nor did present lack of
funds stand in the way of success, for the State helped capable,
industrious authors by a judicious system of credit, just as it helped
any other of its people who had done nothing to forfeit the supposition
that they were deserving of such assistance. As already pointed out,
State aid within certain limits was unattended with any risk to the
Government, as it had means of repaying itself.

The law of copyright was simplicity itself. For one hundred years the
copyright was the inalienable property of the author, or the author’s
nominees. At the end of that time the State succeeded to all copyrights
as were still of value. No grasping publisher was allowed to step in and
reap the profits of an author’s brain toil, and there was no gall mixed
with the thought that a work was being written which might possibly
survive to become a valuable property of the nation, even as Gibbons’
“Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is still a gold mine to
enterprising and speculative publishers in England.

There was no sort of hesitation on the part of anyone to claim of the
“Mother” the help and protection to which, as her veritable children,
they were justly entitled. Pauperism and workhouses did not exist,
simply because the State saw the wisdom of preventing squalor and
destitution by its system of claiming the care of its people from their
infancy, and being generous in its mode of launching them in life.

When we reflect upon the enormous sums which are collected for poor
rates in England, it is easy to conceive the vast social improvement the
same amount of money and labour could produce, if spent in the education
and fair start in life of our thousands of miserable and squalid
gutter-birds, who, instead of being all their life-long a continual
source of expense to the nation, would grow up respectable and respected
units of society, abhorring the life of shame and degradation which they
and only too many others look upon at present as their natural
birthright.

“Prevention is better than cure,” is just as trite and useful a maxim
for the State as it is for the subject, as is also the warning against
being “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” It would cost much less for our
country to feed, clothe, educate, and train to useful avocations
half-a-million youngsters taken from the slums, than it would cost to
meet one-half of the expenses that same half-million of juveniles will
provide for their compatriots before they have run the course of
drunkenness, pauperism, misery, and crime which the laws of cause and
effect have only too surely marked out for them in the unhappy future.

When comparing New Amazonia with England, another idea suggests itself.
How much of the national prosperity I saw around me was owing to the
fact that New Amazonia was free from the incubus of having to provide
vast sums for the support of a monarchy which with us is exceedingly
limited in its beneficent effects, but which possesses an unlimited
capacity for appropriating huge emoluments which would be more sensibly
spent in liquidating the National Debt, or in alleviating some of the
national misery! If saddled with the incalculable burdens which England
has to bear, even New Amazonian rulers would find it a difficult task to
present a satisfactory budget at the end of their term of office.

There is also another way in which our poor are deprived of a great deal
of help they would otherwise receive. Many of our churches and chapels
are simply begging houses, in which their frequenters are persuaded to
part with every penny they can be induced to spare. And this, if the
donors are satisfied, is perfectly right in its way. But is it right
that while countless poor souls, old and young, are rotting, body and
soul, in our own land, it should be the boast of our Missionary
Societies that they give hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to
strangers who do not need the gospel preached practically to them half
so much as the miserable denizens of the back slums of our own parishes?

The zeal of the advocates of Foreign missions is commendable, but I
respectfully submit that it is misdirected, and if some of them had half
an idea of what only too often ultimately becomes of their money, they
would be very chary about subscribing in future.

But when even those whose office and mission it is to seek and succour
their poor and needy neighbours, find their time and attention taken up
with more distant and less pressing duties, how is it likely that our
legislators, occupied so intensely as they are in trying to prove each
other unfit for office, will ever find time to take the cause of the
social improvement of the people into consideration? It is hopeless to
think of it at present, for a true and tender interest will never be
felt in the units of the nation until our Constitution becomes less that
of rulers and ruled, and more like that of mother and children.

To this devoutly-to-be-hoped-for consummation there is another obstacle.
The truly maternal instinct has no equivalent in the breast of man, and
so long as none but men are the people’s representatives, even so long
will that people be deprived of a thousand rights which a just, earnest,
womanly co-government would give them. It is monstrous to speak of women
as being even incapable of voting wisely, when they have already proved
themselves capable of governing much more judiciously than men, many of
whom seem to recognise no other legitimate result of taking office than
squabbling and banqueting.

Certainly in many cases these are about the only matters to which some
of our corporate bodies devote their attention, and surely, surely
feminine nincompoopery could go no further than this!

There is a town in Kansas, called Oskaloosa, of which the Mayor and
other members of the Corporation are all women. Their first term of
office has been so triumphantly progressive that they have been
enthusiastically re-elected, and within twelve months the place has made
such wonderful strides in the trifling matters of social morality,
sanitation, and prosperity, that it is the wonder of surrounding towns.

After so signal a proof of feminine capacity, it argues great paucity of
brains for anyone to insinuate that a clever, capable woman is less able
to form a sensible opinion as to the relative merits of candidates for
office than a man who perhaps spends half his days in loafing about
public houses or race courses, and half his nights in dens of infamy. A
truly moral judgment we need expect from such truly moral voters!

I meet an individual in the street. His legitimate avocation is that of
bird-catching. He has been doing good business, and has spent part of
his precarious earnings in sundry “two-pennorths” of gin, and in a paper
of vile tobacco. He positively reeks of low life, and pollutes the
atmosphere as he staggers through the streets. An unfortunate dog
crosses his path. He gives it a vicious kick, and sends it howling and
limping to a neighbouring cabmen’s shelter for sympathy. The dog’s howls
remind him of the miserable wife and children at home who are destined
to feel the weight of his kicks and blows, and a demoniac, exulting grin
of conscious masculine superiority spreads over his face, while he
unconsciously increases his speed, in order the sooner to be at the game
he loves above all others.

Am I to believe that this thing is better able to judge of the merits of
a candidate for electoral honours than I am simply because it is a MAN?

Am I to assume that this reptile is legally and morally better fitted to
take a place among our legislators than I, solely because it is a MAN?

Perish the thought! Man’s arrogance and woman’s cowardice have reigned
long enough, and it behoves my countrywomen to assert their rights and
privileges without further delay.

Never mind what the men say. They cannot say more than they have said.
Never mind what the _weak-minded_ women say. Their opinions are not
worth heeding.

We are beginning to understand all we have been deprived of. We have
clear ideas as to what we want. We are perfectly aware that we have an
uphill fight, and plenty of senseless opposition to encounter. But we
also know that “Patience overcometh all things.”

Woman has up to now proved that she is superabundantly gifted with a
spurious, undesirable sort of patience. It has hitherto been of the
passive and take-things-as-a-matter-of-course kind. All that wants
altering. Patience still, if you like. But it must be active, and
coupled with such steady determination as shall ensure the realisation
of all our hopes, and make political and social equality of the sexes a
realisation of the near future.

And, now, I am struck with another idea. It has suddenly occurred to me
that I have wandered a long way from the Savilles, and that my readers
will wonder where I intend to pick them up again. I have really,
however, not very far to go, for they are originally responsible for all
the digression which their conversation has suggested, and if the
opinions feebly expressed in the preceding pages succeed in winning a
few recruits to the cause of progress, the Saville family would not be
disposed to cavil at my momentary neglect of them.

I recall a remark John Saville made during that memorable visit.

“Suppose,” he said, “I were to find this fabulous country of yours, and
were to set up as a lecturer, how do you think I should succeed?”

“That depends upon the subjects chosen. I do not doubt your power to
express your views forcibly.”

“Well, I will give you a short syllabus. I would extol our methods of
dealing with children, in preference to yours. I would impress upon all
young women the folly of permitting my sex to arrogate to itself the
right to be the first to speak of matters amorous or matrimonial. I
would scout the idea of women being paid less wages than men, when the
work done by both is identically the same in quality and quantity. I
would insist not merely upon woman’s electoral rights, but upon woman’s
equal right with man to govern her country. You see, I am not quite
going the length of leaving us poor men out in the cold altogether. How
do you think my programme will take?”

“Indifferently well.”

“Why?”

“Because you would be lecturing in opposition to the ‘no progress’ views
of the majority of your hearers.”

“But I have understood you to say that your country boasts far more
women than men. How then could I, the ‘Woman’s Apostle,’ be in the
minority?”

“Because you would not merely have the opposition of men to overcome,
but would have arrayed against you the prejudices of all those women who
are too bigoted in their own ignorance to know what is good for
themselves or others, and their name is legion. You see, the process of
education in the doctrines of the necessity for self-assertion and
personal effort is still young, and until we can awaken the
self-respect, which it has been for ages the mission of men to
extinguish in women, we cannot hope to effect the results which demand
united action. Still, the ‘Onward’ portion of my sex grows in numbers
every year, as does also the number of our masculine supporters, and I
hope to win an immense number of recruits when I get home again, and
describe all I have seen here.”

“And that reminds me. How do you propose to get home?”

“Well, really, I ——. Upon my word, I don’t know. I suppose, however,
that I shall be able to discover some way of reaching England, when I
have solved the preliminary problem of earning the necessary funds. I
have already written some descriptive articles, which I hope will be
accepted.”

“They are sure to be accepted, and well paid for into the bargain, for
everything connected with you has roused the greatest interest in the
country. So the question of your independence is settled already. But
even were this not so, the Mother is always kind, and would provide you
with the means of travelling. The difficulty lies in discovering your
actual destination.”

“If this is really Ireland in a perfected state, I have not far to go. A
country may be revolutionised and improved by social reforms, but
nothing of much less power than an earthquake can remove it altogether.
If England stands where it did, I have but to take a boat to Holyhead,
and a few hours more will take me home to Northumberland.”

“And what will you do when you get there?”

“Report myself to my friends without further delay.”

“You forget that you must have been sleeping some centuries, and that
you are not likely to find any friends left alive, or any place you have
known, in the same condition as that in which you left it. Look at this
map. Here is the island of which you speak. Holyhead and Northumberland
still find their place upon it. But is all else as you left it?”

I eagerly looked at the map before me, and without difficulty pounced
upon Newcastle. But where were all the outlying villages which used to
assert themselves so independently and with such “plum”-like utterance?

Gone! Everyone of them. Swallowed up in the huge advance of their
powerful centre, Newcastle-on-Tyne. I looked for Benwell, Gosforth,
Scotswood, Lemington, Newburn, Benton, Killingworth, and a dozen other
places, all in vain, for Newcastle overspread them all, and, as the
veritable Metropolis of the North, presented a picture of progress and
prosperity which were amazing to me.

I was told that centuries of effort had made the Tyne one of the noblest
rivers in the land. Fleets could ride upon its waters in safety, and it
was now an important naval station. Its commercial relations with the
rest of the world were enormous. In arts and manufactures it was alike
distinguished, and it was the most famous place in all Europe for the
production of every kind of electrical apparati, besides being the
northern centre of learning.

Countless other improvements and aggrandisements were related to me, but
for the most part they fell on deaf ears at the time.

I had at last realised that I was bereft of everybody and everything I
had ever held dear, and must henceforth consider myself alone in the
world, an alien in a strange land, without the possibility of ever again
exchanging a word or look of affection with those whom I had loved well
and truly.

No wonder my fortitude gave way. No wonder I returned to the college in
a mood bordering on despair.