When the people who try to help cease their playing and dabbling with day nurseries and Japanese art exhibits and go back and learn their West End and the sociology of Christ, they will be in better shape to buckle down to the work they ought to be doing in the world. And if they do buckle down to the work, they will follow Dr. Barnardo’s lead, only on a scale as large as the nation is large. They won’t cram yearnings for the Beautiful, and True, and Good down the throat of the woman making violets for three farthings a gross, but they will make somebody get off her back and quit cramming himself till, like the Romans, he must go to a bath and sweat it out. And to their consternation, they will find that they will have to get off that woman’s back themselves, as well as the backs of a few other women and children they did not dream they were riding upon.
CHAPTER XXVII—THE MANAGEMENT
In this final chapter it were well to look at the Social Abyss in its widest aspect, and to put certain questions to Civilisation, by the answers to which Civilisation must stand or fall. For instance, has Civilisation bettered the lot of man? “Man,” I use in its democratic sense, meaning the average man. So the question re-shapes itself: Has Civilisation bettered the lot of the average man?
Let us see. In Alaska, along the banks of the Yukon River, near its mouth, live the Innuit folk. They are a very primitive people, manifesting but mere glimmering adumbrations of that tremendous artifice, Civilisation. Their capital amounts possibly to 2 pounds per head. They hunt and fish for their food with bone-headed spews and arrows. They never suffer from lack of shelter. Their clothes, largely made from the skins of animals, are warm. They always have fuel for their fires, likewise timber for their houses, which they build partly underground, and in which they lie snugly during the periods of intense cold. In the summer they live in tents, open to every breeze and cool. They are healthy, and strong, and happy. Their one problem is food. They have their times of plenty and times of famine. In good times they feast; in bad times they die of starvation. But starvation, as a chronic condition, present with a large number of them all the time, is a thing unknown. Further, they have no debts.
In the United Kingdom, on the rim of the Western Ocean, live the English folk. They are a consummately civilised people. Their capital amounts to at least 300 pounds per head. They gain their food, not by hunting and fishing, but by toil at colossal artifices. For the most part, they suffer from lack of shelter. The greater number of them are vilely housed, do not have enough fuel to keep them warm, and are insufficiently clothed. A constant number never have any houses at all, and sleep shelterless under the stars. Many are to be found, winter