During the seventh night the gods and heroes met again at Rome in the
Coliseum. The splendid moon hung deep from the sky like a huge lantern,
and shed her mild and plaintive rays over all the immense building.
The immortals, in their light dresses and lighter movements, formed a
gorgeous contrast to the sombre stones of the vast edifice. When all
had taken their seats, Zeus rose in all his majesty and spake:
“Gods and heroes! We have derived much exquisite distraction from the
stories of Alcibiades, Diogenes, Plato, Aristotle, Columbus and Cæsar
about the various features of lay-life in England. If now I call upon
you, Socrates, to tell us something about the religious life of the
English, it is, I need hardly assure you, not in a spirit of mockery
that I do so. What we here think about it all, we know, and need not
utter it. When Athena in her indignation more than once asked me to
hurl my lightning into her former abode at Athens, into the remains of
the Parthenon, I told her something in secret–she knows what,–and did
not touch the holy temple. Even so shall I deal with the temples of
the little ones. We shall listen to you, Socrates, with sympathy and
Up rose the sturdy figure of the sage. His features had become even
more illuminated with humanity, and thus more divine, and over his face
erred a mild smile. He spoke as follows:
“O Zeus and the other gods and heroes! In my mortal time I frequently
listened to the marvellous stories of Herodotus, and while I never
permitted myself to question his honesty, as later on Plutarch did, yet
I could not help doubting some of his tales about the religions of the
various peoples he describes. Had I then known and learnt what I have
learnt since in England, I should not have felt the slightest doubt
regarding his statements.
“I had been in England for some time before I began to understand
something of their curious religions. For, they have not one religion,
but quite a number of such. At first I thought they had different
religions according to the boundaries of their different counties. I
fancied that such a neat geographical distribution might render the
whole matter more methodic. But I found that that was not the case.
In the same way I tried to find out whether their religions were not
distributed according to their sixty different social classes. This too
did not work. I then tried their professions; after that, their dress;
after that, their income-tax; then, their private games.
“In that way I finally came to reach the true lines of cleavage between
their numerous religions. For, to put it briefly, their religions are
parallel to and dependent on each man’s hobbies.
“If, for instance, an Englishman dislikes wine, and thus leans towards
Puritanic ideas, he will be much inclined to adopt the religion of one
Calvin, who taught to enjoy life by killing all its joys.
“Another Englishman, being very partial to tobacco and to smoking, will
have a natural bent towards the High Church, in which much incense is
burnt and much smoke produced.
“Another, being very methodical and punctilious, will regard Methodism
with much sympathy.
“A fourth, being afflicted with great susceptibility to moral shocks,
goes among the Quakers.
“In that way I began to feel my way through the maze of their
religions. The strangest thing, however, was that all these
multifarious believers staunchly maintained that they took their
divergent creeds from one and the same book: from the Bible. In that
respect they reminded me of my whilom adversaries at Athens, the
Sophists, who could prove the pro and con of any given assertion with
“In order to imbue myself fully with the spirit of their beliefs, I
frequently went to church on Sundays.
“To be quite frank, I do not very well see why in England they call
that day a Sunday. There is no sun in it, and otherwise it resembles
night more than anything else. It ought to be called Un-day. I
concluded that everything arranged for that day was done in order to
bring out its resemblance to night ever so strongly. Thus, lest people
should forego sleep on that drowsy day, the people of England have
introduced thousands of soporifics in the shape of sermons. What other
use that drug may have I could never see.
“To me as an old Hellene it seemed a thing quite beyond comprehension,
why people should go out of their way to salary a person for making
them feel creepy at the same place, and on the same day of the week,
by repeating the same admonitions in nearly the same words hundreds
of times a year. Evidently their lives on the other days of the week
are so spiritless, dull and dry, that they want to get at least on
Sundays some moral hair-friction with spiritual _eau de Cologne_. We
Hellenes never thought of doing such things. It would have struck us as
a personal insult to suppose that we needed such perpetual moralisation
at stated times.
“Hippocrates told me that some constitutions do need the constant use
of purgative waters. But do all people suffer from ethical constipation?
“I could not help smiling at the idea of my preaching like that to the
Athenians of my time. They would have handed me the goblet with hemlock
long before they did do it. Each householder would have considered my
pretensions to moralise them as a slander on his private life. Each of
them tried to make his own house a chapel full of constantly practised
piety, dutifulness, and humanity. What need had he of my sermons? When
he joined the great festivals of the city, it was to do his duty by the
other Athenians, just as he joined the army on land, or the navy on
sea, for the same purpose.
“We knew of no dogmas. We did not think that a man need stake all his
soul on the belief in certain abstract dogmas. If he did not feel
inclined to linger on one story told of Zeus, he might lovingly dwell
on any other of the numberless stories told of him. If some said that
Zeus was born in Crete, others maintained that he was born elsewhere.
It seemed to us immaterial whether this fact or that was or was not
“Not so the little ones. For them religion is viewed as a matter of
documentary evidence, like a bill of sale. They constantly clamour
for ‘evidence,’ ‘proofs’ and ‘verifications.’ Their theologians are
solicitors and barristers, but not religious men. If I had asked
Pericles for ‘evidences’ of the religious cult practised by his family
or _gens_, the Alcmæonidæ, he would have indignantly told his slaves
to put me out of the house, just as if I had asked him to give me
‘evidences’ of his wife’s virtue.
“We held that Religion is not a matter of ‘evidences,’ any more than
Life, Health, Sleep, or Dreams stand in need of being ‘proved’ by
‘evidences.’ We know that we live, or that we are in good health; we do
not care to listen to long-winded arguments proving it.
“On my rambles in England I met many a clergyman. I remember one who
occupied a high position at Canterbury, and was a very learned man.
I was rather curious to learn what he thought of the religion of the
Greeks. He treated me to the following remarks:
“‘The Religion of the Greeks? Why, my dear sir, they had none. The
Greeks were pagans, heathens. They believed in all sorts of immoral
stories about immoral gods and goddesses; they were sunk in wholesale
corruption and rottenness. Their vices smelt to heaven. Did ever any
Greek say that he who smiteth you on your left cheek, ought to be
offered your right cheek too?’
“‘No,’ I said, continued Socrates, ‘we never said that, because we knew
that nobody would ever do it. We did so many noble actions at home
and in war that we never felt the urgency of exaggerating actions in
words, that we never did in fact.’
“‘Is that it?’ he answered. ‘Do you mean to say that we only say such
things, because we never practise them?’
“‘Precisely,’ said I. ‘”Incapable of the deed, you try to embrace its
shadow, the word,” as Democritus said.’
“‘Even if we never practised them, is it not sublime to say them? Is
it not increasing our moral worth when we profess to be gentle and
generous and superhumanly good, not exactly on the day when we make
such professions, but possibly on some subsequent day?’
“‘I am afraid,’ said I, ‘this we used to call the talk of sycophants
“‘But for my Religion, sir, I should reply in very offensive terms. We
are no hypocrites. We believe what we say, and all that is required is
to believe. We do not trouble about the application of our beliefs, any
more than the mathematician troubles about the practical application of
“‘This is my very objection to your belief. Religion is not a theorem
but an action, an active sentiment. Our religion was like our language:
all active verbs, all movement and energy, all expression and
sentiment, but no theorems.’
“‘But just look at the superstition and downright fiction in all your
mythology! Who has ever seen Apollo, Dionysus, the Graces, Aphrodite,
or any other of your numberless gods? They are all mere phantasies,
meant to amuse, but not to elevate. They belong to the infancy of the
religious sentiment, and are only a more artistic form of Fetishism.’
“‘I quite believe you,’ I said, ‘that you never met the Graces, nor
Aphrodite. Perhaps they avoided you as carefully as you did them.’
“‘Sir, this is frivolous. In our Religion there is nothing frivolous.
Allow me to be quite frank with you. It is stated that you confessed to
having felt the touch of some Phryne’s beautiful hand on your shoulder
for several days. Sir, this characterises you, and all the heathen
Greeks. My mind staggers at the idea that one of our bishops should
ever confess to such a frivolous sentiment. We too have shoulders; and
there are still alas! Phrynes amongst us. But none of our class would
ever confess to having felt what you admitted to have felt. There you
have precisely the difference between you and us.’
“‘You are ashamed of your humanity, and we were not; this is the whole
difference. We were so full of our humanity, that we humanised even our
gods. You are so ashamed of your humanity, that you de-humanise and
supra-humanise your god.’
“‘Disgraceful, sir, most disgraceful. Our humanity is _in_ God!’
“‘And only in Him; so that none is left in you.’
“At these words,” continued Socrates, “the man left me.
“A few days later I was at a place which they call Oxford, and where
dwell and teach many of their Sophists. A young man is there taught to
assume that callous look which is very imposing to Hindoos and negroes.
Nothing surprises him, as nothing stirs him, except the latest shape of
a cuff or a collar. He becomes in due time a curious blend of a monk, a
fop, and a pedant.
“I was led to one of the most renowned of their theologians, whose name
in our language means a coachman. He received me with a curious smile.
Before I could say anything he spoke as follows:
“‘I understand, sir, that you pose as the late Socrates. Well,
well–come, come! I must tell you in confidence that I, being a higher
critic, am a perfect adept in the great science of the vanishing trick.
Suppose you bring forward a famous personage of history, and want him
to disappear. Nothing is easier to me. I ask the man first of all very
simple questions, such as:
“‘Who asked him to exist?
“‘Why did he choose his mother in preference to many other able women?
“‘What made him prefer his father to so many other capable men?
“‘For what reason did he fix his particular place of birth, let alone
the time of the year, month, week and day where and when he was born?
“‘What motive had he in filling the air with his screamings soon after
“‘Could he give any satisfactory explanation of his various illnesses
as a child? That is, whether he had measles and whooping-cough out of
malice prepense, out of cussedness, or out of any hopes of receiving
“‘When the man cannot satisfactorily answer these clear and positive
questions, I put him down first as a suspect. Then I proceed to further
“‘If he is said to have won a battle, I ask him why he fought it on
land and not on sea? Or _vice versâ_.
“‘Why he did not, while fighting the battle, accurately determine the
degrees of longitude and latitude of the locality of the battle?
“‘Or why his chief general’s name began with an L and not with an S?
“‘If he is said to have been an ancient legislator, I ask him why he
took his laws from his neighbours?
“‘What mode of registration and publication of the law he observed?
“‘Whether the paper of his code was hand-made, or wood-pulp?
“‘Whether the water-marks on it were original or were imitations?
“‘Whether he used ink or paint?
“‘Whether he wrote them standing or sitting?
“‘Whether he used the same pen for writing his nouns and verbs? Or
whether he had different pens for the different parts of speech?
“‘Whether he really knew what a noun was? Whether he liked male
terminations, or preferred to revel in female endings? Whether he was
not prejudiced against pronouns, or felt an idiosyncracy against the
letters b, k, and z?
“‘If the man cannot satisfactorily answer all these pertinent
questions, I declare him to be a fraud. I tell him straight into his
face that he never existed, and then I revile him as a low character
for pretending an existence that is totally unfounded. Now, as to your
case. You say, you are Socrates. Can you answer any of the questions I
enumerated? Let us take the first question: “Who asked you to exist?”‘
“‘Athens, I presume,’ said Socrates.
“‘Athens? To dispose of this answer, we must first of all see whether
Athens existed. I put it to you, sir, can you prove that Athens
“‘I can; for, it still exists.’
“‘Note the glaring fallacy! A thing that now exists, now, that is, on
the brink of the present and the future, can that be said to have _eo
ipso_ existed in the past? I put it to you most seriously, is the brink
of the present, the past? Is the brink of the future, the past? Can,
then, the brink of the present _and_ the future be called the past?
Athens may have existed. That is, a number of houses and streets, once
called Athens, may have existed. But can you say, I put it to you most
mostly, can you say that the houses of Athens asked you to exist? Or
did the streets do so?’
“‘By Athens we mean the Athenians.’
“‘Oh, I see, the Athenians. Who were they? Two-thirds were
foreign slaves; one-fifth were _metiks_, that is, denizens of
foreign extraction. Consequently, two-thirds and one-fifth being
thirteen-fifteenths, the overwhelming majority of the town being
_uitlanders_, you cannot possibly be said to have been asked into
existence by them. Remain two-fifteenths of Athenians proper. Of these
the great majority were your enemies, who drove you into death. Can
they, who furiously clamoured for your death, be said to have violently
wished for your birth?
“‘Remain, therefore, only a handful of Athenians who _may_ have desired
you to exist. How could they give due expression to their wish? In
the Assembly matters were decided by a majority, which they did not
control. In the law courts were hundreds, nay thousands of judges in
each case, of whom, as _per supra_, the great majority were your
enemies, who would have decided against your birth. In the Temples such
decisions were never taken.
“‘The intention of your prenatal friends could thus remain but a mere
private wish of a few citizens, but could not possibly be an inherent
tendency or desire of Athens. _Quod erat demonstrandum._ And since you
have been unable to give a satisfactory answer to the first of the
crucial questions, I put you down as a suspect.’
“I did not say anything,” said Socrates. “I was amazed beyond
expression that such nonsense could be allowed to pose as searching and
‘scientific’ analysis of facts. But he triumphantly continued:
“‘You say nothing? _Qui tacet consentire videtur_,–silence means
consent. I can see in your face how overawed you are by my sagacity, I
have unmasked you. We unmask everything and anything. We unmask stones,
pyramids, crocodiles, ichneumons, princes, kings, prophets, and heroes.
We strike terror into the common people by our vast erudition and our
“‘We are the Sherlock Holmes of theology.
“‘We run down any pretender, any scribe, any man who has the impudence
of posing as a somebody. Given that we are not much; how can he be
“‘If you will stay here for some time, you will soon know a lot about
what did not happen in ancient Israel.
“‘Oxford is the Scotland Yard of all those humbugs that pass by the
name of Abraham, Moses, King David, Samson, the Prophets, and other
impostors. We have pin-pricked them out of existence!
“‘At present we have proved that all the Religion of Israel was stolen
from Babylon. In a few years we shall prove that the Babylonians stole
it all from the Elamites, farther east. This, once well established,
will give us a welcome means of proving that the Elamites stole it
all from the Thibetans; who stole it from the Chinese; who stole it
from the Japanese; who stole it from the Redskins in America; who
stole it from the Yankees; who stole it from Oxford. And so we shall
return to this great University and provide occupation and fame for the
higher critics of the next three hundred years. Where are you now, O
“I was unable to say a word for some time. When I collected myself to a
certain extent, I said:
“‘O Sophist, if our Religion in ancient Greece had had no other
advantage than that of saving us from the works of “higher critics,” it
has deserved well of us. We were immune from that disease, at any rate.
Dion of Prusa and others wrote declamations against the historicity
of the Trojan War; but nobody took them for more than what they were,
for rhetorical exercises. No Hellene would have paid the slightest
attention, nor accorded the slightest recognition to men like yourself.
The English must be suffering from very ugly religious crochets and
spiritual eczemas, to have recourse to drugs and pills offered by such
* * * * *
“Other friends in England to whom I expressed my profound aversion to
this puny scepticism in matters of Religion, advised me to attend the
sermons given by a relatively young man with white hair in a temple in
the city. They said that in him and his addresses there was religious
sentiment. I accepted their advice and went repeatedly to hear what was
called _The New Religion_.
“The young man talked well and impressively. He told them that two and
two made four, and absolutely refused to make five.
“With much emphasis he declared that he could not believe in miracles,
because of the miraculous way in which they happened. If, he said, a
miracle should happen in an orderly fashion, performed under police
revision, say, in Regent Street in front of Peter Robinson’s, the
arrangement and whole sequence of the procedure being duly anticipated
and announced by the _Daily Nail_ or the _Daily X-Rays_, then indeed he
would say: ‘O Lord, O Lord, I am convinced.’
“‘But,’ the white-haired young man said, ‘how can you, the rest of the
world, or anyone else suppose that I could believe a miracle, that
pops in from mid-air, in the most disorderly and unreasonable fashion,
without having given notice either to the police or to the editor of
the _Daily Nail_ or the _Daily X-Rays_?
“‘Such a miracle is a mere vagrant, a loafer, a _déclassé_ or
_déraciné_, as we say in Burmese. It has neither documents to
legitimate itself with, nor any decent social connections. It disturbs
the professor of physics at that great seat of untaught knowledge, the
London University; it annoys all chemists, and confirms my colleagues
in the other pulpits in their preposterous superstitions.
“‘My brethren and _sithren_, I tell you there are no miracles; there
never were any; there never can be any. Just let me tell you an
interesting experience I had the other day with a man who travelled in
the south of France, a country which, but for the fact that England is
good enough to patronise her, would long since have disappeared from
the surface of this or any other planet.
“‘The gentleman in question spoke of Lourdes, and the miracles he had
seen there. I listened for a while with patience; at last I could bear
it no longer, and the following dialogue arose between us:
“He: ‘”Lourdes is the most convincing case of the miraculous power of
the true Church.”
“I: ‘”The true Church is in the city of London, sir, and there is no
miracle going on there whatever.”
“He: ‘”I completely differ, especially if, for argument’s sake, I
accept your statement that the temple in the city is the true Church.
If that be so, then the miracles wrought there are even greater than
those observable at Lourdes.”
“I: ‘”I thank you for your rapid conversion. I am glad to see that you
feel the power of my Church. This power comes from the great truths I
teach. But as to miracles proper, I must, if reluctantly, decline the
honour. I repeat it, there are no miracles in my Church, neither taught
“He: ‘”Come, come! Not only are there miracles in your Church, but they
are also of the very same type that I noted at Lourdes.”
“I: ‘”Sir, how can you insult me so gratuitously? Lourdes swarms with
so-called miracles, which are no miracles at all, but only the effects
of auto-hypnotisation. A person who can believe in the healing power of
“He: ‘”Steady, steady, my dear sir. I do not allude to that healing
power at all. Again, placing myself on your standpoint, I will, for
argument’s sake, admit that the waters at Lourdes have no miraculous
healing power owing to the influence of this saint or that. You might
permit me to remark, nevertheless, that it is just as much of a miracle
as when the drugs prescribed by our doctors happen to cure us. For,
what could be more miraculous than that? But this is only by the way.
I allude to quite another miracle, and I can only express my amazement
that you do not guess it more quickly.”
“I: ‘”I am quite out of touch with miracles.”
“He: ‘”Bravo! This is precisely what the great Lessing used to say: the
greatest of all miracles is the one that people do not notice as such
at all. Just consider: do you not draw vast masses of people to your
sermons? Have you not persuaded most of them that you have founded a
new Religion? What on earth could be more miraculous than that!
“‘”In your sermons you dance on a thin rope of logic made out of the
guts of a few anæmic cats dropped from the dissecting table of science.
If therefore you had won a reputation as a rope-dancer, one could
readily understand it. But you have won the reputation of a founder
of a new religion, which is to a logical rope what catguts are to a
great violinist. Is that not marvellous? Savonarola would have charged
you, at best, with blacking his shoes, and yet people take you for a
modern Savonarola. Is that not marvellous? Is it anything short of a
miracle? Is not this the very miracle of Lourdes? Hundreds of thousands
of intelligent Frenchmen believe in the healing power of water in
consequence of its canonisation by a saint. Is this not a miracle in
“I: ‘”If I am to be infinitely less worthy a man than Savonarola
because I believe in the infinity and truth of Science, I gladly forego
the honour. The more light we pour into the human heart, the nobler it
“He: ‘”So you believe that your hearers follow you on account of the
light you give them? Pray, abandon any such idea forthwith. They cling
to you because of your interesting personality, and because you give
satisfaction to their vanity. In persuading them that the life-blood of
the ‘old’ Religion is mere stale water, they congratulate themselves on
their being intellectually superior to the orthodox believers.
“‘”Is there no one who has the courage to say aloud that the canker
of all Religions in England is their constant toadying to Reason and
Science? The theory of Evolution, first rightly condemned by the
clergy, is now an established costume without which no bishop would
dare to officiate in sermons or books. Naturalists all over the world
lustily attack and combat Evolution; but no English clergyman ventures
to doubt it. He will and must toady to what he thinks is ‘Science.’
“‘”Formerly Science was the _ancilla_, or maid of Theology; now
Theology is the mere charwoman of any physiologist or biologist.”
“I: ‘”And so it shall be. I see, my good man, I must talk to you a
little more plainly. We theologians want nothing but authority. We
have long since learned that this world is governed by authority, and
by nothing else; just as is the next world, if there be any. Now, in
former times Science was not imposing enough. Being, as it was, in
its infancy, it had little authority. So we trampled upon it, and
side-tracked it with disdain. At present, on the other hand, Science
has become quite an influential member of society. It goes on doing
marvellous things and inventing incredible feats of physical, chemical,
or biological triumph.
“‘”What is more natural than that we now not only receive the _homo
novus_, the man of Science, but that we also try to avail ourselves of
the authority his exploits give him?
“‘”Take this nation. It is thoroughly materialist and on its knees
before Science. For the last sixty years Science, and nothing but
physical Science has been knocked into its head. This nation thinks
that any study outside Science proper is pleasant humbugging. They are
completely ignorant of human history. Give us Science! Give us facts,
facts! Of course they say so, because facts save them the trouble of
thinking, and do not allow one to pose as a thinker.
“‘”Facts, scientific facts, that is all that they want. Human thought,
they think, is a physical excretion from the brain, just as tears
are from the lachrymal glands, or other liquids from the kidneys.
Hence, they infer, all that is needed is to study, in a physiological
laboratory, the brain.
“‘”What’s the use of literary history, for instance? If you want to
know it, you have only to study the brain which is the cause of at
least some portions of literature.
“‘”What is the use of military history? Study, in a physiological
laboratory, the arm, not arms; since it is the arm that fights.
“‘”What is the use of Sociology, say, the study of the Family? Study,
in a physiological laboratory, the nerves of certain organs which
constitute the true cause of families. And similarly with all other
studies relating to the humanities. Science; it is all a matter of
“‘Under these conditions,’ the white-haired one continued, ‘what can
we do but take the requisite authority there where we find it best
developed, in Science? Anything that pleases the _grand seigneur_, we
hasten to acquiesce in while shoe-licking him. Science proper, that is,
Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology disavow Imponderables, Tendencies,
Present Projections of the Future, Incomprehensibles, etc., etc.; so do
“‘Science cannot move from certain mathematical principles; speedily we
too cry aloud that we cannot cease hugging these dear principles.
“‘Science can never analyse or reconstrue the mystery of all mysteries:
Personality; at once we novel theologians exclaim, beating our worn
breasts, that Personality is no historic force at all.
“‘Science cannot possibly so much as approach the problem of
creativeness, creation, or origin of life; hence we gallop after it
like newsboys, screaming at the top of our voices: “Latest news! No
creation! No origins! Bill just passed! Enormous majority! One penny!
“‘Cannot you see that? Can you not grasp that as in Republican
countries we are Republicans, and in Monarchical ones, Monarchists;
even so in an age overawed by the surface-scratchers of physical
Science, we too must feel the itch and scratch away with violence?
“‘We cannot possibly afford to forego the authority at present in
the gift of Science. How could I dare to treat Jesus as one of
those mysterious persons that bring to a head both vast and secular
tendencies of the Past, and Present Projections of an immense Future?
He, I hear from a certain humanist, was the heir of all that marvellous
Power of Personality, called Cephalism, which shaped all classical
antiquity; and at the same time He was the Anticipative Projection of a
“‘But could any process approved by Science proper be applied to such a
mode of thinking? None. Consequently I am bound to belittle, to ignore
“‘As long as Jesus is not amenable to that mode of biography or to that
kind of reflections which we apply to the life of cockroaches or gnats,
we cannot seriously speak of Him.
“‘Or is not His preaching like the laying of eggs by a bird, out of
which eggs new birds arise in due time?
“‘Is not His Church like the nest of a spotted woodpecker made in the
hollow of some ancient tree?
“‘Are not His apostles like the watch-birds amongst wandering cranes?
“‘If, then, we want to study Him scientifically, we must treat Him
and His exactly as we treat a hoopoe or a jackdaw. Not that we really
know anything about a hoopoe or a jackdaw. But in treating Him in
that fashion we can use all the sounding terms of Science, and thus,
don’t you see, secure all the authority of which Science to-day has so
plentiful a share.
“‘I have so far founded the New Religion. But I am not quite satisfied
with it. I feel we need a Newest Religion. Ever since my birth the
world has stepped into a new era. Something has been wrenched from its
former place. I must at once see to it.
“‘Meanwhile I am preparing a Life of Jesus on a truly scientific basis.
The Lives hitherto published are completely out of date. They lack the
true scientific spirit.
“‘My “Life of Jesus” will have three sections. The first will contain
the Antecedents. I will start with the soil, the air, and the waters
of Palestine. I will investigate the influence which the geology of
Palestine had on Jesus; especially, whether the stratification of that
soil does not correspond to the stratification of the mind of Jesus. In
that way I will obtain the precise nomenclature of the various layers
of the intellect, human and Messianic, of Jesus.
“‘Thus, I will determine his palæolithic, neolithic, pliocene, miocene
and other tertiary mental formations. That will be inestimable.
“‘I will then proceed to a close analysis of the air in Palestine, and
try to determine how much argon it contains. This, together with the
jargon talked round Bethlehem, and a close study of the remains of the
King Sargon will give me a solid foundation for my researches into
the feelings of Jesus. I will thus make sure whether these feelings
were subconscious, auto-hypnotic, auto-Röntgenising, æroplanesque, or
“‘Should I find some radium in the stones near Bethlehem or Nazareth,
I shall be enabled to account for the precociousness and light-emitting
gift of Jesus.
“‘Once I have thus settled the Antecedents, I will proceed to His life.
In accordance with the method of zoologists and biologists, to whom one
fox is as good as another, and one rabbit as serviceable as another, I
will study the daily life of a modern rabbi in Sichem, or Jerusalem.
“‘I will measure his nose, his lips, the width and height of his mouth
when yawning and when asleep, his weight, his rapidity of walk, the
loudness of his voice, his pulse, his heart, his meals, and his drinks.
This will give me valuable data for the life of Jesus. I will reduce
all these data to finely-drawn statistical tables.
“‘As soon as I shall be in possession of these tables I will attack
the most important part of my work: I will not tire until I discover
the microbe which imparted to all that Jesus said an extraordinary
power of captivation. That microbe, I have no doubt, can be distilled
from a comparative solution of Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Mahomet
and Jesus. I name it _microbus prophetizans Huxleyi_. I shall, I
trust, isolate it and send specimens to the South Kensington Museum, I
* * * * *
“When the white-haired one,” said Socrates, “had arrived at that stage
of his wanderings, I left the hall. I felt sea-sick. These little ones
think that they can triangulate the human personality, because they
have triangulated many of their countries. They never consider that
triangulation, and all scientific methods, refer, and can refer only
to quantity or material quality. There is no geometry of love, hatred,
or spiritual power. It is the old error of the Pythagoreans which you,
O Pythagoras, admitted to me after having whiled in Olympus for a few
“Numbers are not the souls of things.
“Personality is the soul of things.
“We humans are pre-eminently creative. Our chief force is not intellect
nor will-power. We are neither Hegelians nor Schopenhauerians. In point
of sagacity many an animal transcends us; and did you not avow to me, O
Leibniz, that the difference between you and a yokel is not so much in
your being more intellectual, or in your having more brain-power, but
in your having more creative power?
“Intellect, or the force of close thinking, may be found in abundance
in the city of London. Had people devoted as keen an interest to
science or philosophy as city men do to money transactions, we should
be much further than we are.
“But people differ very much less in power of intellect than in
strength of originality.
“The great men of Literature or Science or Art are not very much
cleverer in point of intellect than is the rest of the people. They
exceed them in point of originality; that is, they exceed them because
they devote themselves to digging in unbroken ground. It is in this way
“It is in this sense that each human is, to a certain extent, new
ground; and consequently, that the Great Humans are absolutely new
phenomena. In other words, they are new creations. They have an X in
them that no x-rays can penetrate into.
“Science can comprehend averages only. _Nova_ she cannot approach.
This is why Great Humans have invariably been disavowed, rejected, and
pooh-poohed by men of Science.
“Why has a lily of the valley bell-like blossoms? Science will never
explain it. Those bells are part of the personality of the lily; and
Science can understand it as little as a crofter could understand a
“You may imagine, O gods and heroes, what I felt when I heard so many
clergymen talk so ‘scientifically’ of The Greatest of Humans, who by
His being so was _eo ipso_ Supra-human too.
“Science is unable to account for a lily of the valley; and yet shall
Science be able to reconstruct Jesus?
“I should have shrunk from the task of reconstructing, in the manner of
men of Science, my Phrygian slave.
“One can re-recreate, as it were, many of the phenomena of Personality,
but not by the methods of Science. Personalities belong to the
Humanities, whose methods are totally different from those of Science
“It was said of me that in my mortal time I brought Philosophy from
Heaven to Earth. I wish, O Zeus, you would allow me to mix again with
the people in order to raise their Philosophy from Earth to Heaven.”
* * * * *
When Socrates had finished, a deep silence fell over the Assembly.
In the divine face of Zeus there was no movement to be noticed, and
not an encouraging word fell from his lips. Suddenly one heard a loud
laughter. Everybody turned towards the place where the laughter came
from, and felt relieved to see that Diogenes was preparing to address
the Assembly. Zeus nodded consent, and the whilom Cynic spake as
“Few things have afforded me greater pleasure than your tale, O
Socrates. Verily I believe that your renewed presence among the little
ones is much less needed than is mine. I am the only man that could set
right the wrenched religious fibres of these mannikins and womenfolk.
But for my respect for you and the Assembly, I should have burst into
an unseemly laughter while you were talking of their New Religion,
which is but a resurrection-pie less the resurrection.
“To talk to them seriously about the incapacity of any physical
Science or its methods to cope with the problems of Religion is to
waste precious time. Let them have their Evolution, Convolution, or
Devolution, by all means. The more they welter in it, the more my
pupils on earth have a welcome chance of success. The official clergy
think wonders of their cleverness in trying to make Religion into a
Centaur, half man, half horse, or half Science and half Belief. While
they are at it, my pupils, infinitely cleverer than all the clergy,
make glorious headway in all directions.
“Is it not side-splitting to note how these clergymen are unable to see
that the more people learn of Science proper; the more they accustom
their minds to the dry biscuits of scientific methods; the more they
will inwardly long for the drinks of Mysticism?
“The Roman clergy, trained by two thousand years, knows all that but
“Your plain soul, your hard-working, scientifically untutored peasant
or small _bourgeois_ is quite satisfied with a little, hearty Belief,
and is indifferent to Mysticism and religious Extravagancies. It is
your high-strung, modern, scientifically trained mind that impatiently
craves more than sober Science can give it.
“Just look at the Europoids in the western continent. In the United
States everything is reasoned out, systematised, methodised to a
nicety. Their whole life looks like their towns: regular squares;
straight streets, named after the consecutive numbers; labelled,
docketed, built and shaped according to definite rules. In an American
town nothing surprises one, except that the people themselves do not
have each his respective number painted on his back.
“As the streets, so are the Constitution, the Schools, the
Territory,–everything is ruled like a sheet of music. In the 250,000
schools, in the 500,000 Universities, and the 600,000 libraries, all
founded (or confounded?) by a few multis, you hear nothing but Reason,
Reason, Reason. You get Reason boiled, roasted, fried or stewed. You
get it from injectors, from which it will jet out in smaller or larger
jets, so that if it be too much for you, one can, by pulling the piston
backwards, again store it up in the injector.
“Instead of traditions, unarticulated tendencies, latent
_sous-entendus_, and delicate imponderables, there are only machines,
ledgers, and registers, articulated with a vengeance, cryingly
explicit and loud and indelicate. Everything is bound in the leather
of reasonableness, in the hide of method, and in the wooden boards of
Logic. Instead of on the rich soup of sentiments, men and women in the
States are fed on scientific tabloids containing sentiments reduced
to their ultimate chemical essences. A woman laughs at romance; her
relations to men are ‘reasonable.’ A child laughs at piety; his or
her relations to parents are tanned by ‘sense’! A servant sneers at
loyalty; her relations to the masters are macerated in the vinegar of
‘inalienable right of reason.’
“All this is excellent–for me. For, what happens?
“The Americans indulging in too many orgies of Reasonableness; the
Americans having thrown over-board all motives of historic truth in
order to live under the banner of reasoned truth only, have long
since become sick of Reason. They resemble a crew on a big ship
that has stored its pantries and larders with nothing else than
meat-extracts and tabloids. That crew, after a month’s journey or so,
will unfailingly sink or else eat the most loathsome fish rather than
continue feeding on its scientific food.
“After all, when all is said and done, the Americans too are humans.
They too want more than tabloids and meat-extracts. Tons of tins will
not replace one fresh cabbage. On this eternal truth my disciples go to
work in the States.
“Fully aware, as they are, that the Americans must be and are deadly
‘tired’ of Reason, they hasten to give the people of the States the
most exciting devices of Unreason. One of them invents Mormonism;
the other, Spiritualism; the third, Zionism; the fourth, Oneidaism,
or general Promiscuity; the fifth, Christian Science; the sixth,
Incarnationism; and so forth, and so on, _ad infinitum_.
“Can my triumph be greater? I will carefully avoid telling them
that by worshipping Apollo extravagantly while neglecting the great
god Dionysus, they have fallen wretched victims to the wrath of the
latter. Just let them go on writing contemptuous reflections on Greek
Mythology, and glory in the ‘wonderful century’ in which Dionysus
is declared to be a mere myth. As long as they do that, I shall not
lack plenty of successful disciples, and my name will wax greater and
greater, until nobody shall be able to find, even did he use the latest
Edison lamp, a single well-balanced human in all the States.
“Why, then, take so many English clergymen and their evolutions round
Evolution so gravely, O Socrates? They do what the Americans do: they
overdo Reason. Do let them do it, and do not disturb my circles, as
Archimedes said. I promise you, when next they introduce the ‘latest’
evolution, I will invite you to the sight, and you will enjoy the
fun as you have rarely enjoyed anything. I have instructed a new set
of pupils of mine to start _The_ new Religion in England. The ‘New
Religion’ of a year or so ago is out of fashion. What these decadent
vibrants want is another Religion. I have just received a Marconigram
from below, and am in a position to tell you all about the latest
capers of my pupils. May I do so?”
Diana and Aphrodite and Pallas Athena at once applauded, and their
silvery laughter was joined by the rest of the gods and heroes.
Dionysus sent two beautiful nymphs to make the resting-place of
Diogenes more comfortable, and to offer him a cup of the wine of Capri,
shining like gold and full of mirth. Diogenes, deeply bowing to the
Great God, and to Zeus, then proceeded:
“I learn that _The_ Religion now to be started is based on what my
dear disciples have agreed to call _Elysiograms_; a word formed _à la_
‘telegram,’ ‘marconigram,’ and meant to denote messages from Elysium.
“It is quite evident that a generation of impatient eels such as the
present instalment of the little ones, cannot possibly wait until
after death for news from the other world. The sub-lunar world they
have ransacked and swallowed, hair and flesh, and all. Before, in the
morning, they have quite recovered from their sleep; and before they
have quite finished their nerve-destroying first cup of Ceylon cabbage,
they have, in their ‘papers,’ learnt all that has been going on in
every quarter of the globe terrestrial.
“That globe begins to bore them. They must have a daily (or hourly?)
column or two about what is going on in Elysium, let alone in Hades. It
is indispensable for their digestion.
“Just fancy how very much more easily one could swallow one’s lunch
with just a little dose of Hades in it! While one tries to make a
tunnel through the stony meat from Patagonia called Scotch beef, one
would read with grim satisfaction how one’s late creditor is maltreated
in the torture-chamber of Hades. Why, one would feel so buoyant that
one would even be able to finish a meal at the Cecil.
“You said, O Socrates, that their clergy adopt Evolution because of the
authority it gives them. Surely, they can tarry no longer in adopting
the improved means of communication. If Marconi can wire wirelessly to
New York, how can the clergy stay lagging behind? They must needs go
one better, and wire wirelessly to Elysium. Nothing can be plainer.
“People want it.
“Soon Messrs Wright will ascend the Rainbow and sit astride on it. Even
before that, Herr Zeppelin will land the first German street-band on
Mars; and, probably, ere that is done, Madame Curie will by means of
a rock of Radium as big as St Paul’s illumine and read all the vast
depths of the unexplored Heavens.
“How, under these circumstances, can the clergy remain behind? It
is unthinkable. Accordingly, it is understood that the _Daily Nail_
and the _Crony_ will have every day a column called _Elysiograms_.
It will consist of single words, numbers, signs, exclamations, and
pauses, _elysiogrammed_ from over there. Some paragraphs will consist
of commas, colons, semi-colons, and dots only. They will be the most
interesting. These messages will be carefully distinguished from
massages. They will be quite different. They will give the most
astounding news. My principal pupil, Professor Oliver Nodge, just
marconied me the latest _Elysiogram_, which he was fortunate enough to
“‘Rather hot day to-night.–Feel depressed as if I had exchanged
ideas with Mr H.C.–4, 0,–:!–Place here somewhat out of date.–Do
send me _Times_ more regularly.–Can now see that flannels do not
conduce to health.–Never forget to wind up your watch!–Death is
a mere incident in Life.–If you can avoid it, don’t die!–It is a
failure.–34, 56, 78, 90, 12….'”
When Diogenes had finished reading the _Elysiogram_ of his pupil, even
Hephæstus (Vulcan), otherwise so grave, broke out in a tremendous
laughter which made one of the tiers of the Coliseum shake like an
elm-tree in a gale.
“I am delighted to see,” continued Diogenes, “that my pupils contribute
to your amusement. It is indeed beyond a doubt that without them this
world would be considerably staler and duller than it is. You may
imagine that my pupils will not rest contented with a daily column in a
“They will found Elysiogram papers of their own; found Elysiogram
Churches; build up Elysiogram congregations; deliver Elysiogram
sermons; in short, they will establish _The New Religion_
“In this marvellous Religion the believer is given all the shivers,
cardiac vibrations, nervous shocks and prostrate contritions,
pleasantly alternated with ecstatic exuberance, that he may wish for.
“In that respect it is far superior to any music hall.
“These funny clergymen rage against the music halls. But why have they
abolished all public, gay, and variegated Church festivals, such as the
Middle Ages had introduced in plenty? The public do want to have their
shocks and shivers. If the Church does not provide some of them, music
“We Hellenes did everything to render Religion attractive and
enjoyable. Our religious processions and public festivals were gorgeous
with colours, fun, art, music, and touching piety.
“How could any Hellene have felt the need of a modern music hall, this
the last degradation of the human intellect, worse than the Roman
gladiatorial games, worse than the Spanish bull-fights, worse than the
worst of French novels.
“If, therefore, the clergy will take our New Religion into the least
consideration, they will forthwith see the immense advantages thereof.
In _Elysionism_ the most languorously delicate of the elegant ladies
will at last find what she has all this time been hankering for.
“In the morning when she gets up between twelve and two o’clock,
she will with religious shivers reach after the Elysiogram press.
With burning eye she will run over the columns in search of the
latest _Elysiogram_. Just think of her excitement on finding, in one
paragraph or another, some indiscretion of one of her departed friends,
male or female, regarding her. Just imagine how she will devoutly
run to the editor of the paper, or to the _Elysiop_, that is, the
chief bishop of the New Religion, offering him £100, £200, nay £500
for the ‘tranquillity’ of the poor soul in Elysium from whom came
that disquieting par. The _Elysiop_ will promise to do his best and
will–enter the £500 _pour les frais de l’église_. What a delightfully
exciting experience to have!
“Later on in the day, the same lady will enjoy the anxiety of a lady
friend of hers who is waiting for an _Elysiogram_ from her husband who
disappeared a few months before without sending his faithful wife the
correct official statement of his departure. What exquisite moments of
nervous expectation to pass!
“For a few further bank-notes _pour les frais de l’église_, the
liberating _Elysiogram_ appears.
“Imagine the interest with which sermons delivered by the Elysiop,
Elysiarch, or the Elyseacon, will be attended by the _beau monde_. The
preacher after the customary introduction will pull from his pocket
the latest _Elysiograms_, which are notoriously frequent on Saturdays.
Artistically pausing before he begins reading them out, he will
fill all these vibrants with the most dainty nervous wrenchings and
“Then slowly he will report to them the latest news from Elysium and
Hades. With that justice so characteristic of the Powers of the Other
World, the pleasant news, full of consolation and comfort, is addressed
to such members as have proved zealous in deed and alms to the Church.
On the other hand, members whose zeal left much to be desired, are
treated to news that makes both kinds of their hair stand on end.
“Where is the music hall or even the theatre that will be in a position
to vie with such a Church in intense attractiveness? Once the classes
as well as the masses are drawn to it, some Oxford or Liverpool
professor will speedily come forward with the new dogmatics of
_Elysionism_; and in less than three years Prof. Harnack of Berlin will
write its history of dogmatics, and publish maps about its geographical
“Amongst the innumerable blessings of this Religion there is one the
value of which cannot be exaggerated, let alone properly estimated. I
mean, of course, its vast resources for healing all diseases. It is
patent that once we stand in continuous and direct communication with
Elysium, we can easily inquire from our departed ones what we ought to
do in case of illness. Since a given individual in Elysium who died
of, say, hay-fever has traversed all its stages, and is naturally
more conversant with it than any terrestrial doctor can ever be,
knowing thereof not only the stages passing on earth but also those
going on beyond the Rainbow; he is in the best of positions to advise
a patient what to do and what not to do. Especially, when one takes
into consideration that according to the most authentic _Elysiograms_,
written by Prof. Nodge’s own Elysio-typer, all departed people agree
that hay-fever, appendicitis, pneumonia, etc., are only the _noms de
plume_ of Dr Smith, Dr Jones, Dr Jenkinson, and so on.
“We shall, accordingly, in any case of illness, simply communicate the
symptoms to Elysium and ask for detailed instructions from such of the
Elysians as have died of that disease. In that way we are sure to heal
all diseases much more rapidly than even Christian Science or Mahometan
Chemistry could do.
“We shall sell Elysio-pills, with which no Beecham’s Pill will be
able to compete; and using the indications we shall receive from over
the Acheron, we shall have _dépôts_ of Elysian Waters triumphing over
Hunyady János, Carlsbad Sprudel, Contrexéville, or Aix-les-Bains.
“In fact, since the Kaiser is well known to be in close relations
to the Upper World, and an intimate friend of Providence, we shall
arrange through him an Elysian Bath, somewhere near Nauheim.
“Then our Religion will be complete.
“It will have its unique Press, its hierarchy, its liturgy, sermons,
pills, waters, and watering-places, let alone its Pleasant Sunday
Afternoons, moral gymnasiums, self-denial weeks, and special wireless
“The extant religions will all disappear; religious unity will reign
over the whole world, and if you, O Zeus, will consent to it, I shall
personally preside at my headquarters in Westbourne Park Chapel.”
The speech of Diogenes was received with hearty applause, and even
stern Demosthenes congratulated him on his idea of offering a really
new shake-up to the tired nerves of the poor human tremolos of Mayfair
and the East End.
Several of the gods volunteered to send messages for the _Elysian
Times_, and Cæsar proposed that he and Alexander the Great, Pericles,
and other heroes send messages counterdicting the extant Greek and
Roman histories of their exploits, in order to enjoy the huge fun
arising from the confusion amongst scholars.
* * * * *
When the hilarity of the Assembly had reached its maximum, Zeus
addressed them as follows:
“Before, O Friends, we part from here repairing to Olympus, and
eventually to Japan and China, I propose that Plato give us his serious
impression of what turn the next religious phase of the little ones
will take. I entitle him even to say, with due moderation, what turn it
Plato, rising from his seat near Socrates and Aristotle, first bowed
to Zeus, and then to Apollo whom he requested to allow his priests
to intone the sacred hymn of Delphi. That hymn, Plato said, had been
handed down from hoary antiquity, and was the song best fitted to fill
the hearts of men with the sentiment of religion; the Roman Church,
he added, still retained it. Apollo nodded consent, and forthwith the
archons of Delphi, aided by the great choir of the Parthenon, filled
the still night with mighty harmonies. The simple tunes rose into the
heights like columns upon which the singers finally laid down capitals,
architraves and pediments of serene melodies, until all Rome and the
surrounding plains and valleys seemed changed into one vast musical
temple, while the echo of the Albanian Mountains handed the rhythms and
cadences on to stern Soracte and the Apennines.
* * * * *
“I will not undertake,” Plato said, “to determine what direction the
new Religion of the little ones will take. That direction depends upon
their whole life in peace and war, which is, and will remain, under
your exclusive control, O Zeus. But if I am to outline what shape and
function their Religion is likely to take in the near future, I feel
more confident of acquitting myself creditably. This applies more
particularly to the negative part of my task. I mean, it is quite
possible to criticise the various schemes of new Religions proposed by
a number of thinkers, and to say why these schemes will not succeed.
“The most numerous schemes of this description have been propounded by
men of otherwise great abilities and accomplishments, such as Auguste
Comte, and his followers in England and elsewhere. They have tried to
establish rational Religions, or such in which Dionysus has no share.
This is a vain attempt.
“Diogenes showed with great justice how all such attempts are doomed to
“The more rational knowledge spreads both in bulk and in number of
disciples, the more the little ones will need a Dionysiac religion.
“If the State or other ruling classes will not provide it properly,
eccentrics and faddists will do so improperly.
“If the true enthusiasm for Art could really enter the hearts of the
masses, then, and then alone, Religion need not be Dionysiac. However,
this is impossible in nations consisting each of many millions of
“This is the greatness of your work, O Nietzsche. In your _Zarathustra_
you worship Apollo with piety, but you entreat Dionysus too to enter
the temple. However, you restrict your cult to the few, and for this
reason you cannot succeed to a greater extent than did Pythagoras, who
likewise closed the gates of his sanctuary to the Many.
“The question in Europe is how to let the Many feel the Light of Apollo
and the Might of Dionysus. Unless this is done, nothing is done. Can
Protestantism do that? Calvin is fast aging, and his hair is quite
white. Can Roman Catholicism do it?”
At these words of Plato the first matutinal choir came wafted from the
Vatican. Plato made a pause. The Vestal Virgins bowed their heads. On
Cæsar’s expressive face there appeared a strange smile, and leaning
over to Cicero, he whispered something into the ear of the great
orator-statesman. Zeus remained immobile.
* * * * *
Plato resumed thus: “The Romans of our time were to us Hellenes as
Protestantism is to Catholicism. Will the Rome of this day be absorbed
by the Protestants of the North as we were absorbed by ancient Rome?
“You used to say, O Machiavelli, that this world belongs to the cold
hearts. That is probably quite true with regard to material things. But
is it true with regard to spiritual ones?
“The North of Europe is cold; the South is warm. The former is romantic
at its best, and eccentric at its worst; while the South is classic
at its best, and irreverential at its worst. The North therefore will
worship Apollo only in a haze, and Dionysus in distorted forms; while
the South willingly bows to Apollo full of heavenly light, and accepts
Dionysus only by means of a strict, hierarchical organisation.
“Can any Bach write one ‘well-tempered’ fugue on both North and South?
Can they in future be united in one belief?
“We have had so far two kinds of Religion only. One, those of small
States, such as we had in Greece or Italy; the other, universal
Religions, such as the Religion of Jesus, based on humans as mere
abstracts, as mere equal atoms; Religions that applied to any person
irrespective of State, race, class, or occupation. There are, however,
now no small States such as we used to found, nor is all European
humanity one vast conglomeration of atomic men.
“There are now new entities: nations.
“Will each of them develop her own Religion?
“Most likely, I think.
“It is with Religions as with Law and Language: each nation, the more
high-strung it becomes, the more it differentiates its Law and its
Language. In the Middle Ages, up to the twelfth century, there were not
fifty languages in Europe. There are now far over a thousand.
“Each nation wants its own way of worshipping and representing Apollo
and Dionysus. In countries full of musical enthusiasm the religious
_rôle_ of Dionysus is different from what it is in countries where
music is not an organ of the national soul. Should Europe ever be
levelled down to one United States of Europe (–at these words one
could see Zeus smile with benignant sarcasm–) then there will arise
new Religions in nearly every county of every country.
“In England we see the process clearly developing. The official Church
is neither quite Apollo nor quite Dionysus; it is a product grown
somewhere between Rome and Geneva, say at Leghorn.
“The unofficial Churches accept Dionysus only as enthusiasm for
unenthusiastic matters, such as Puritanism; while Apollo with them is a
Sunday school teacher.
“And this cannot be otherwise. An Imperialist nation cannot have
an Imperialist Religion too, otherwise the heads of that Religion
would run the Empire. The English, in the interest of their Empire,
disintegrated their ancient Religion. In other words, they were bound
to obscure Apollo and to degrade Dionysus by eccentricities.
“Take the Unitarians. Unable to find place for Dionysus in their
over-rationalised Religion, they rush into moral eccentricities, such
as a wholesale condemnation of war, a sickly philanthropy that yet
seldom leaves the precincts of words, and other morbid habits.
“In England, Religion cannot be allowed its full-fledged growth. Should
the English lose their Empire and, which is doubtful, yet survive as
a small island-state, they will forthwith change their Religions, and
the first of these to be dropped will be Anglicanism; while Methodism,
in one of its extremer forms, is the most likely to replace all the
others, should Catholicism not supplant it.
“The only new Christian Religion likely to arise in the British Empire
is one in India, which will stand to British Christianity as the Greek
Church stands to the Roman. I wonder why one or another of the British
missionaries has not developed it long ago.
“In Great Britain herself a powerful new Religion cannot be devised as
“It is quite different on the Continent; and it is devoutly to be
hoped that France will shake off her torpor and pour new religious
enthusiasm into the soul of her nation.
“It is also to be hoped that the Japanese will at last adopt a Religion
fitting their new status as a great nation. They will never accept
Protestantism. They may accept some new form of Romanism, in that
the great distance of Rome from Tokio guarantees them from too much
interference, and because their next objective, the thousands of
islands called the Philippines, have long been converted to Romanism.
“I have, in my travels on earth, frequently been asked whether our own
beautiful Religion could not be revived again.
“To this the answer can hardly be doubtful. Our Religion was so
intimately connected with our peculiar polity that unless such polities
should be revived, our Religion cannot be reintroduced into the life of
“In my Republic I have anticipated most of the political communities
that have arisen after my death; and the Roman Church has fully
confirmed my prediction, that the polity in which philosophers will be
kings will be the most abiding of all. The restrictions which I placed
on the various classes of my ideal Republic have not been literally
observed by the Roman Church; she has laid upon them other restrictions.
“But then as now I say, that the greater the Ideal, the heavier price
we have to pay for it.
“The little ones, listening to arm-chair experts, multi-millionaires
and faddists, indulge in the childish belief that they will be able
to bring Elysium down into their Assemblies, Market-places, and their
Social Life, by removing all severe conflicts, all cruelty, all
relentless punishments, and similar necessities which are only the
inevitable price paid for some great good. They think they will make
the world more humane, by giving up any attempt at weeding out all the
bad herbs among the human grass.
“They will never do it. If they want to have a Religion better than the
one they have, they will have to pay an exceedingly heavy price for it.
“First is Calvary, and then comes the Resurrection.
“Religion is an Ideal, and hence very costly. If ever the general
brotherhood of men should be realised, just for one year, the
sacrifices to be paid for such a sublime ideal would be so immense that
people would at once relapse into the other extreme.
“Nothing wiser ever fell from your lips, O Goethe, than your saying
that ‘nothing is more hard to endure than a series of three beautiful
“We Greeks know it. We realised many an ideal; more than has been
realised by any other people. Accordingly, we did not last very long.
Do not covet the stars! Be satisfied with a little cottage in the midst
of a small garden.
“But you were right, O Spinoza, that the whole essence of Man is
concupiscence. He _will_ desire and aspire after an endless array of
things, all of which he wants to have for nothing.
“It is in vain that we tell him that there is no more expensive shop
than that where gratification of desires is sold.
“In vain have all the Religions essayed to inculcate the lesson of
resignation, one by threatening dire punishments on earth, the other
by menacing eternal pains in yonder world.
“Resignation is the last thing a human thinks of. He thinks he is so
clever, so intelligent, so inventive and especially so ‘progressive,’
that he will bend Ideals to his will, as he has done with a few of the
physical forces of Nature. He does not know that while other goods
require only the abnegation of one or a few individuals, Ideals exact
the privation of multitudes.
“Could we free Greeks have been what we were, had we not stood on the
bodies of degraded slaves who relieved us of the drudgery of life? One
cannot be free and a slave at the same time.
“In my deep conviction of the heavy sacrifices demanded for Ideals,
I frequently think that we Greeks, and more particularly myself, who
introduced this thirst for Ideals into the world, have thereby done
Europe more harm than good.
“How many a time has the fate of Prometheus been re-enacted in millions
of ideal-smitten Europeans! There he is, bound to a rock, while an
eagle eats his liver, because he wanted to bring down Olympus to earth.
“The Religion that will teach man serene resignation; that will imbue
him with the sense of the magnitude of Ideals; that will make him feel
that Ideals are not for man, but for gods; that Religion will save him.
“The priests of that Religion must be the first to exemplify that
Resignation to the full. They must not preach Resignation while
themselves dressed in purple and clothed in the amplest rights of
Precedence, Authority, and Splendour. Will there ever be such priests?
“I doubt it. What priests want and what they have always wanted, is
nothing but authority.
“They have founded and brought to its most consummate expression the
science of authority-seeking. They know how to impress people. I do not
hope that they will ever give up such a profitable accomplishment; and
consequently no Religion of the future will have a remarkable success
unless it enables its founders to invest many persons with great
“The scant authority it gives to its incumbents is the chief weakness
of Protestantism as compared with Roman Catholicism. This world is
ruled by Authority; and so far, the other world too has been governed
by the same means. And so at the end, as well as at the outset of our
reflections on Life we start and come back to the same eternal truth,
that practical life wants not truth as such, but only _effectology_.
“Truth proper, and independent of any practical effects, has its place
only at the foot of Your Mighty Throne in Olympus, O Zeus.
“We Hellenes having been on a plane altogether higher than is that of
the little ones, we dared to introduce some truths proper into our
life. We sincerely called a spade a spade. We knew that some women and
men must suffer, in order that others may fully develop their humanity;
and so we instituted slavery, scorning, as we did, the half-measures of
quarter, third, or three quarters liberty in men or women. We openly
talked of the ‘Envy of the gods,’ which is one of the deepest truths
of life. And thus in many a custom, law, or measure of ours we had the
courage to enshrine truth proper in the prose-frame of ordinary life.
“This emboldened me to think that there might one day be a State, a
Republic, wholly built on eternal truths. And so I wrote my book hoping
it would serve as a beacon-fire for all times and all humans.
“At present I know better. What people want, in Religion or Science, is
_effectological_ truth, and not truth proper. My book, as the rest of
my work, has procured me a place in Olympus, but has not enabled me to
conquer a single town of the nether-world.
“I too have learnt to resign myself.
“Truth, like Beauty, and Goodness, is not meant for the little ones.
And yet they will in all times go on their pilgrimage to our shrines;
through all ages they will worship Athens and mighty Rome as the true
home of humanity; as the age and the men who had the divine courage of
truthfulness, and the saving grace of Beauty.”
Zeus and Juno rose from their chryselephantine seats. The shades of
the night became lighter, and at a sign from Mercury, the whole divine
Assembly left their places and moved through the air towards Olympus.