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|| 1: CHAPTER I.


"We ask To put forth just our strength, our human strength, All starting fairly, all equipped alike."
"But when full roused, each giant limb awake, Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast, He shall start up and stand on his own earth, Then shall his long, triumphant march begin, Thence shall his being date."


The great poet's lines express Edward Bellamy's aim in writing his famous book. That aim would realize in our country's daily being the Great Declaration that gave us national existence; would, in equality of opportunity, give man his own earth to stand on, and thereby--the race for the first time enabled to enter unhampered upon the use of its God-given possibilities--achieve a progress unexampled and marvelous.

It is now twelve years since the writing of 'Looking Backward' changed one of the most brilliant of the younger American authors into an impassioned social reformer whose work was destined to have momentous effect upon the movement of his age. His quality had hitherto been manifest in romances like 'Doctor Heidenhof's Process' and 'Miss Ludington's Sister,' and in many short stories exquisite in their imaginative texture and largely distinguished by a strikingly original development of psychical themes. Tales like 'The Blindman's World' and 'To Whom This May Come' will long linger in the memory of magazine readers of the past twenty years.

'Doctor Heidenhof' was at once recognized as a psychological study of uncommon power. "Its writer," said an English review, "is the lineal intellectual descendant of Hawthorne." Nor was there in America any lack of appreciation of that originality and that distinction of style which mark Edward Bellamy's early work. In all this there was a strong dominant note prophetic of the author's future activity. That note was a steadfast faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature, a sense of the meaning of love in its true and universal sense. 'Looking Backward,' though ostensibly a romance, is universally recognized as a great economic treatise in a framework of fiction. Without this guise it could not have obtained the foothold that it did; there is just enough of the skillful novelist's touch in its composition to give plausibility to the book and exert a powerful influence upon the popular imagination. The ingenious device by which a man of the nineteenth century is transferred to the end of the twentieth, and the vivid dramatic quality of the dream at the end of the book, are instances of the art of the trained novelist which make the work unique of its kind. Neither could the book have been a success had not the world been ripe for its reception. The materials were ready and waiting; the spark struck fire in the midst of them. Little more than a decade has followed its publication, and the world is filled with the agitation that it helped kindle. It has given direction to economic thought and shape to political action.

Edward Bellamy was born in 1850,--almost exactly in the middle of the century whose closing years he was destined so notably to affect. His home has always been in his native village of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, now a portion of the city of Chicopee, one of the group of municipalities of which Springfield is the nucleus. He lived on Church Street in a house long the home of his father, a beloved Baptist clergyman of the town. His clerical ancestry is perhaps responsible for his essentially religious nature. His maternal grandfather was the Rev. Benjamin Putnam, one of the early pastors of Springfield, and among his paternal ancestors was Dr. Joseph Bellamy of Bethlehem, Connecticut, a distinguished theologian of revolutionary days, a friend of Jonathan Edwards, and the preceptor of Aaron Burr. He, however, outgrew with his boyhood all trammels of sect. But this inherited trait marked his social views with a strongly anti-materialistic and spiritual cast; an ethical purpose dominated his ideas, and he held that a merely material prosperity would not be worth the working for as a social ideal. An equality in material well-being, however, he regarded as the soil essential for the true spiritual development of the race.

Young Bellamy entered Union College at Schenectady, but was not graduated. After a year in Germany he studied law and entered the bar, but never practiced. A literary career appealed to him more strongly, and journalism seemed the more available gateway thereto. His first newspaper experience was on the staff of the New York 'Evening Post,' and from that journal he went to the Springfield 'Union.' Besides his European trip, a journey to Hawaii by way of Panama and a return across the continent gave a considerable geographical range to his knowledge of the world at large.

It is notable that his first public utterance, made before a local lyceum when a youth in his teens, was devoted to sentiments of social reform that foreshadowed his future work. When 'Looking Backward' was the sensation of the year, a newspaper charge brought against Mr. Bellamy was that he was "posing for notoriety." To those who know the retiring, modest, and almost diffident personality of the author, nothing could have been more absurd. All opportunities to make money upon the magnificent advertising given by a phenomenal literary success were disregarded. There were offers of lecture engagements that would have brought quick fortune, requests from magazine editors for articles and stories on any terms that he might name, proffered inducements from publishers to write a new book and to take advantage of the occasion to make a volume of his short stories with the assurance of a magnificent sale,--to all this he was strikingly indifferent. Two or three public addresses, a few articles in the reviews, and for a while the editorship of 'The New Nation,' a weekly periodical which he established in Boston,--this was the sum of his public activity until he should have made himself ready for a second sustained effort. To all sordid incentives he was as indifferent as if he had been a child of his new order, a century later. The hosts of personal friends whom his work made for him knew him as a winsome personality; and really to know him was to love him. His nature was keenly sympathetic; his conversation ready and charming, quickly responsive to suggestion, illuminated by gentle humor and occasionally a flash of playful satire. He disliked controversy, with its waste of energy in profitless discussion, and jestingly averred that if there were any reformers living in his neighborhood he should move away.

The cardinal features of 'Looking Backward,' that distinguish it from the generality of Utopian literature, lie in its definite scheme of industrial organization on a national basis, and the equal share allotted to all persons in the products of industry, or the public income, on the same ground that men share equally in the free gifts of nature, like air to breathe and water to drink; it being absolutely impossible to determine any equitable ratio between individual industrial effort and individual share in industrial product on a graded basis. The book, however, was little more than an outline of the system, and, after an interval devoted to continuous thought and study, many points called for elaboration. Mr. Bellamy gave his last years and his ripest efforts to an exposition of the economical and ethical basis of the new order which he held that the natural course of social evolution would establish.

'Equality' is the title of his last book. It is a more elaborate work than 'Looking Backward,' and in fact is a comprehensive economic treatise upon the subject that gives it its name. It is a sequel to its famous predecessor, and its keynote is given in the remark that the immortal preamble of the American Declaration of Independence (characterized as the true constitution of the United States), logically contained the entire statement of universal economic equality guaranteed by the nation collectively to its members individually. "The corner-stone of our state is economic equality, and is not that the obvious, necessary, and only adequate pledge of these three rights,--life, liberty, and happiness? What is life without its material basis, and what is an equal right to life but a right to an equal material basis for it? What is liberty? How can men be free who must ask the right to labor and to live from their fellow-men and seek their bread from the hands of others? How else can any government guarantee liberty to men save by providing them a means of labor and of life coupled with independence; and how could that be done unless the government conducted the economic system upon which employment and maintenance depend? Finally, what is implied in the equal right of all to the pursuit of happiness? What form of happiness, so far as it depends at all upon material facts, is not bound up with economic conditions; and how shall an equal opportunity for the pursuit of happiness be guaranteed to all save by a guarantee of economic equality?"

The book is so full of ideas, so replete with suggestive aspects, so rich in quotable parts, as to form an arsenal of argument for apostles of the new democracy. As with 'Looking Backward,' the humane and thoughtful reader will lay down 'Equality' and regard the world about him with a feeling akin to that with which the child of the tenement returns from his "country week" to the foul smells, the discordant noises, the incessant strife of the wonted environment.

But the writing of 'Equality' was a task too great for the physical strength and vitality of its author. His health, never robust, gave way completely, and the book was finished by an indomitable and inflexible dominion of the powerful mind over the failing body which was nothing short of heroic. Consumption, that common New England inheritance, developed suddenly, and in September of 1897 Mr. Bellamy went with his family to Denver, willing to seek the cure which he scarcely hoped to find.

The welcome accorded to him in the West, where his work had met with widespread and profound attention, was one of his latest and greatest pleasures. Letters came from mining camps, from farms and villages, the writers all longing to do something for him to show their love.

The singular modesty already spoken of as characterizing Mr. Bellamy, and an entire unwillingness to accept any personal and public recognition, had perhaps kept him from a realization of the fact that his fame was international. But the author of a book which in ten years had sold nearly a million of copies in England and America, and which had been translated into German, French, Russian, Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian, and several other languages and dialects, found himself not among strangers, although two thousand miles from the home of his lifetime.

He greatly appreciated and gratefully acknowledged his welcome to Colorado, which he left in April, 1898, when he realized that his life was rapidly drawing to a close.

He died on Sunday morning, May 22, after a month in the old home which he had eagerly desired to see again, leaving a widow and two young children.

At the simple service held there, with his kindred and the friends of a lifetime about him, the following passages from 'Looking Backward' and 'Equality' were read as a fitting expression, in his own words, of that hope for the bettering and uplifting of Humanity, which was the real passion of his noble life.

"Said not the serpent in the old story, 'If you eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge you shall be as gods?' The promise was true in words, but apparently there was some mistake about the tree. Perhaps it was the tree of selfish knowledge, or else the fruit was not ripe. The story is obscure. Christ later said the same thing when he told men that they might be the sons of God. But he made no mistake as to the tree he showed them, and the fruit was ripe. It was the fruit of love, for universal love is at once the seed and fruit, cause and effect, of the highest and completest knowledge. Through boundless love man becomes a god, for thereby is he made conscious of his oneness with God, and all things are put under his feet. 'If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.' 'He that loveth his brother dwelleth in the light.' 'If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.' 'He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.' 'God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.' 'Every one that loveth knoweth God.' 'He that loveth not knoweth not God.'

"Here is the very distillation of Christ's teaching as to the conditions of entering on the divine life. In this we find the sufficient explanation why the revelation which came to Christ so long ago and to other illumined souls could not possibly be received by mankind in general so long as an inhuman social order made a wall between man and God, and why, the moment that wall was cast down, the revelation flooded the earth like a sunburst.

"'If we love one another, God dwelleth in us,' and mark how the words were made good in the way by which at last the race found God! It was not, remember, by directly, purposely, or consciously seeking God. The great enthusiasm of humanity which overthrew the older and brought in the fraternal society was not primarily or consciously a Godward aspiration at all. It was essentially a humane movement. It was a melting and flowing forth of men's hearts toward one another; a rush of contrite, repentant tenderness; an impassioned impulse of mutual love and self-devotion to the common weal. But 'if we love one another, God dwelleth in us,' and so man found it. It appears that there came a moment, the most transcendent moment in the history of the race of man, when with the fraternal glow of this world of new-found embracing brothers there seems to have mingled the ineffable thrill of a divine participation, as if the hand of God were clasped over the joined hands of men. And so it has continued to this day and shall for evermore.

"Your seers and poets in exalted moments had seen that death was but a step in life, but this seemed to most of you to have been a hard saying. Nowadays, as life advances toward its close, instead of being shadowed by gloom, it is marked by an access of impassioned expectancy which would cause the young to envy the old, but for the knowledge that in a little while the same door will be opened to them. In your day the undertone of life seems to have been one of unutterable sadness, which, like the moaning of the sea to those who live near the ocean, made itself audible whenever for a moment the noise and bustle of petty engrossments ceased. Now this undertone is so exultant that we are still to hear it.

"Do you ask what we look for when unnumbered generations shall have passed away? I answer, the way stretches far before us, but the end is lost in light. For twofold is the return of man to God, 'who is our home,' the return of the individual by the way of death, and the return of the race by the fulfillment of its evolution, when the divine secret hidden in the germ shall be perfectly unfolded. With a tear for the dark past, turn we then to the dazzling future, and, veiling our eyes, press forward. The long and weary winter of the race is ended. Its summer has begun. Humanity has burst the chrysalis. The heavens are before it."

There are those who have made strenuous objections to the ideals of Edward Bellamy on the ground that they are based on nothing better than purely material well-being. In the presence of the foregoing utterance can they maintain that attitude?