One need not belong to the Theosophical Society to be forcibly struck with the correctness of the above remarks. The accepted creeds of the civilized nations have lost their restraining influence on almost every class of society; nor have they per had any other restraint save that of physical fear: the dread of theocratic thumb-screws, and hell-tortures. The noble love of virtue, for virtue's own sake, of which some ancient Pagan nations were such prominent exemplars has never blossomed in the Christian heart at large, nor have any of the numerous post-christian philosophies answered the needs of humanity, except in isolated instances. Hence, the moral condition of the civilized portions of mankind has never been worse than it is now not even, we believe, during the period of Roman decadence. Indeed, if our greatest masters in human nature and the best writers of Europe, such acute psychologists true vivisectors of moral man as Count Tolstoi in Russia, Zola in France, and as Thackery and Dickens in England before them, have not exaggerated facts and against such optimistic view we have the records of the criminal and divorce courts in addition to Mrs. Grundy's private sessions "with closed doors" then the inner rottenness of our Western morality surpasses anything the old Pagans have ever been accused of. Search carefully, search far and wide throughout the ancient classics, and even in the writings of the Church Fathers breathing such hatred to Pagans and every vice and crime fathered upon the latter will find its modern imitator in the archives of the European tribunals. Yea, "gentle reader," we Europeans have servilely imitated every iniquity of the Pagan world, while stubbornly refusing to accept and follow any one of its grand virtues.
Withal, we moderns have undeniably surpassed the ancients in one thing namely, in the art of whitewashing our moral sepulchres; of strewing with fresh and blooming roses the outside walls of our dwellings, to hide the better the contents thereof, the dead men's bones and all uncleanness, and making them, "indeed, appear beautiful without." What matters it that the "cup and platter" of our heart remain unclean if they "outwardly appear righteous unto men"? To achieve this object, we have become past-masters in the art of blowing trumpets before us, that we "may have glory of men." The fact, in truth, that we deceive thereby, neither neighbor nor kinsman, is a matter of small concern to our present generations of hypocrites, who live and breathe on mere appearances, caring only for outward propriety and prestige. These will moralize to their neighbors, but have not themselves even the moral courage of that cynical but frank preacher who kept saying to his congregation: "Do as I bid you, but do not do as I do."
Cant, cant, and always cant; in politics and religion, in Society, commerce, and even literature. A tree is known by its fruits; an Age has to be judged by its most prominent authors. The intrinsic moral value of every particular period of history has generally to be inferred from what its best and most observant writers had to say of the habits, customs, and ethics of their contemporaries and the classes of Society they have observed or been living in. And what now do these writers say of our Age, and how are they themselves treated?
Zola's works are finally exiled in their English translations; and though we have not much to say against the ostracism to which his Nana and La Terre have been subjected, his last La Bête Humaine might have been read in English with some profit. With "Jack the Ripper" in the near past, and the hypnotic rage in the present, this fine psychological study of the modern male neurotic and "hysteric," might have done good work by way of suggestion. It appears, however, that prudish England is determined to ignore the truth and will never allow a diagnosis of the true state of its diseased morals to be made not by a foreign writer at all events. First, then, have departed Zola's works, forcibly exiled. At this many applauded, as such fictions, though vividly pointing out some of the most hidden ulcers in social life, were told really too cynically and too indecently to do much good. But now comes the turn of Count Lev Tolstoi. His last work, if not yet exiled from the bookstalls, is being rabidly denounced by the English and American press. In the words of "Kate Field's Washington" why? Does "The Kreutzer Sonata" defy Christianity? No. Does it advocate lax morals? No. Does it make the reader in love with that "intelligent beast" Pozdnisheff? On the contrary. . . . Why then is the Kreutzer Sonata so abused? The answer comes: "because Tolstoi has told the truth," not as averred "very brutally," but very frankly, and" about a very brutal condition of things" certainly; and we, of the19th century, have always preferred to keep our social skeletons securely locked in our closets and hidden far away from sight. We dare not deny the terribly realistic truths vomited upon the immorality of the day and modern society of Pozdnisheff; but we may call the creator of Pozdnisheff names. Did he not indeed dare to present a mirror to modern Society in which it sees its own ugly face? Withal, he offers no possible cure for our social sores. Hence, with eyes lifted heavenward and foaming mouths, his critics maintain that, all its characteristic realism notwithstanding, the "Kreutzer Sonata is a prurient book, like to effect more harm than good, portraying vividly the great immorality of life, and offering no possible remedy for it" (Vanity Fair). Worse still. "It is simply repulsive. It is daring beyond measure and without excuse; . . . the work of a mind . . . not only morbid, but . . . far gone in disease through unwholesome reflection" (New York Herald).
Thus the author of "Anna Karenina" and of the "Death of Ivan Ilyitch," the greatest psychologist of this century, stands accused of ignoring "human nature" by one critic, of being "the most conspicuous case out of Bedlam," and by another (Scot's Observer) called "the ex-great artist." "He tilts," we are told, "against the strongest human instincts" because forsooth, the author an orthodox Russian born tells us that far better no marriage at all than such a desecration of what his church regards as one of the holy Sacraments. But in the opinion of the Protestant Vanity Fair, Tolstoi is "an extremist," because "with all its evils, the present marriage system, taken even as the vile thing for which he gives it us (italics are ours) is a surely less evil than the monasticism with its effects which he preaches." This shows the ideas of the reviewer on morality!
Tolstoi, however, "preaches" nothing of the sort; nor does his Pozdnisheff say so, though the critics misunderstand him from A to Z, as they do also the wise statement that "not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth" or a vile man's heart and imagination. It is not "monasticism" but the law of continence as taught by Jesus (and Occultism) in its esoteric meaning which most Christians are unable to perceive that he preaches. Nothing can be more moral or more conducive to human happiness and perfectibility than the application of this law. It is one ordained by Nature herself. Animals follow it instinctively, as do also the savage tribes. Once pregnant, to the last day of the nursing of her babe, i.e., for eighteen or twenty months, the savage squaw is sacred to her husband; the civilised and semi-civilised man alone breaking this beneficent law Therefore speaking of the immorality of marriage relations as at present practised, and of unions performed on commercial bases, or, what is worse, on mere sensual love, Pozdnisheff elaborates the idea by uttering the greatest and the holiest truths, namely, that:"
A good proof that it is not "monasticism" and utter celibacy which are preached, but only continence, is found on page 84 where the fellow-traveller of Pozdnisheff is made to remark that the result of the theory of the latter would be "that a man would have to keep away from his wife except once every year or two." Then again there is this sentence:
"Monastics" have no wives, nor do they get married if they would remain chaste on the physical plane. Tolstoi, however, seems to have answered in anticipation of British criticism and objections on these lines, by making the hero of his "grimy and revolting book" (Scot's Observer) say:
Tolstoi might have added and when moral continence and chastity, mistaken for "monasticism," are pronounced far more evil than "the marriage system taken even as the vile thing for which he (Tolstoi) gives it us." Has the virtuous critic of Vanity Fair or the Scot's Observer never met with a woman who, although the mother of a numerous family, had withal remained all her life mentally and morally a pure virgin, or with a vestal (in vulgar talk, a spinster) who although physically undefiled, yet surpassed in mental, unnatural depravity the lowest of the fallen women? If he has not we have.
We maintain that to call "Kreutzer Sonata" pointless, and "a vain book," is to miss most egregiously the noblest as well as the most important points in it. It is nothing less than wilful blindness, or what is still worse that moral cowardice which will sanction every growing immorality rather than allow its mention, let alone its discussion, in public. It is on such fruitful soil that our moral leprosy thrives and prospers instead of being checked by timely palliatives. It is blindness to one of her greatest social evils of this kind that led France to issue her unrighteous law, prohibiting the so-called "search of paternity." And is it not again the ferocious selfishness of the male, in which species legislators are of course included, which is responsible for the many iniquitous laws with which the country of old disgraced itself? e.g., the right of every brute of a husband to sell his wife in a market-place with a rope around her neck; the right of every beggar-husband over his rich wife's fortune, rights now happily abrogated. But does not law protect man to this day, granting him means for legal impunity in almost all his dealings with woman?
Has it never occurred to any grave judge or critic either any more than to Pozdnisheff "that immorality does not consist in physical acts alone but on the contrary, in liberating one's self from all moral obligations, which such acts impose"? (Kreutzer Sonata, p. 32.) And as a direct result of such legal "liberation from any moral obligations," we have the present marriage system in every civilized nation, viz., men "steeped in corruption" seeking "at the same time for a virgin whose purity might be worthy" of them (p. 39); men, out of a thousand of whom "hardly one could be found who has not been married before at least a dozen times" (p. 41)!
Aye, gentlemen of the press, and humble slaves to public opinion, too many terrible, vital truths, to be sure, are uttered by Pozdnisheff to make the "Kreutzer Sonata" ever palatable to you. The male portion of mankind book reviewers as others does not like to have a too faithful mirror presented to it. It does not like to see itself as it is, but only as it would like to make itself appear. Had the book been directed against your slave and creature woman, Tolstoi's popularity would have, no doubt, increased proportionately. But for almost the first time in literature, a work shows male kind collectively in all the artificial ugliness of the final fruits of civilization, which make every vicious man believe himself, like Pozdnisheff, "a thoroughly moral man." And it points out as plainly that female dissimulation, worldliness and vice, are but the handiwork of generations of men, whose brutal sensuality and selfishness have led woman to seek reprisals. Hear the fine and truthful description of most Society men:
Create no demand and there will be no supply. But such demand being established by men, it .
The most terrible accusation, however, is an implied parallel between two classes of women. Pozdnisheff denies that the ladies in good society live with any other aims than those of fallen women, and reasons in this wise:
And would you know why? It is an old truism, a fact pointed out by Ouida, as by twenty other novelists. Because the husbands of the "ladies in good Society" we speak only of the fashionable majority, of course would most likely gradually desert their legitimate wives were these to offer them too strong a contrast with the demi-mondaines whom they all adore. For certain men who for long years have constantly enjoyed the intoxicating atmosphere of certain places of amusement, the late suppers in cabinets particuliers in the company of enamelled females artificial from top to foot, the correct demeanor of a lady, presiding over their dinner table with her cheeks paintless, her hair, complexion and eyes as nature made them becomes very soon a bore. A legitimate wife who imitates in dress, and mimicks the desinvolture of her husband's mistress has perhaps been driven at the beginning to effect such a change out of sheer despair, as the only means of preserving some of her husband's affection, once she is unable to have it undivided. Here, again, the abnormal fact of enamelled, straw-haired, painted and almost undressed wives and girls in good Society, are the handiwork of men of fathers, husbands, brothers. Had the animal demands of the latter never created that class which Baudelaire calls so poetically les fleurs du mal, and who end by destroying every household and family whose male members have once fallen a victim to their hypnotism no wife and mother, still less a daughter or a sister, would have ever thought of emulating the modern hetaira. But now they have. The act of despair of the first wife abandoned for a demi-mondaine has borne its fruit. Other wives have followed suit, then the transformation has gradually become a fashion, a necessity. How true then these remarks:
Such is man, who is shewn in all the hideous nakedness of his selfish nature, almost beneath the "animals" which "would seem to know that their descendants continue the species, and they accordingly follow a certain law." But "man alone does not, and will not know. . . . The lord of creation man; who, in the name of his love, kills one half of the human race! Of woman, who ought to behis helpmate in the movement of Humanity towards freedom, he makes, for the sake of his pleasures, not a helpmate but an enemy." . . . .
And now it is made abundantly clear, why the author of the Kreutzer Sonata has suddenly become in the eyes of all men "the most conspicuous case out of Bedlam." Count Tolstoi who alone has dared to speak the truth in proclaiming the whole relation of the sexes to each other as at present, "a gross and vile abomination," and who thus interferes with "man's pleasures" must, of course, expect to be proclaimed a madman. He preaches "Christian virtue," and what men want now is vice, such as the old Romans themselves have never dreamed of. "Stone him to death" gentlemen of the press. What you would like, no doubt, to see practically elaborated and preached from every house-top, is such articles as Mr. Grant Allen's "The Girl of the Future." Fortunately, for that author's admirers, the editor of the Universal Review has laid for once aside "that exquisite tact and that rare refinement of feeling which distinguishes him from all his fellows" (if we have to believe the editor of the Scot's Observer). Otherwise he would have never published such an uncalled-for insult to every woman, whether wife or mother. Having done with Tolstoi's diagnosis we may now turn to Grant Allen's palliative.
But even Mr. Quilter hastens while publishing this scientific effusion, to avoid identifying himself with the opinions expressed in it. So much more the pity, that it has seen the light of publicity at all. Such as it is, however, it is an essay on the "problem of Paternity and Maternity" rather than that of sex; a highly philanthropic paper which substitutes "the vastly more important and essential point of view of the soundness and efficiency of the children to be begotten" to that "of the personal convenience of two adults involved" in the question of marriage. To call this problem of the age the "Sex Problem" is one error; the "Marriage Problem," another, though "most people call it so with illogical glibness." Therefore to avoid the latter Mr. Grant Allen . . . . "would call it rather the Child Problem, or if we want to be very Greek, out of respect to Girton, the Problem of Pædopoetics."
After this fling at Girton, he has one at Lord Campbell's Act, prohibiting certain too décolleté questions from being discussed in public: after which the author has a third one, at women in general. In fact his opinion of the weaker sex is far worse than that of Pozdnisheff in the Kreutzer Sonata, as he denies them even the average intellect of man. For what he wants is "the opinions of men who have thought much upon these subjects and the opinions of women (if any) who have thought a little." The author's chief concern being "the moulding of the future British nationality," and his chief quarrel with the higher education of women, ' the broken-down product of the Oxford local examination system, he has a fourth and fifth fling, as vicious as the rest, at "Mr. Pod snap and Mrs. Grundy" for their pruderie, and at the "university" ladies. What, then, he queries:. . .
Such weakness for one "black moustache" will never do. The author has a "nobler," a "higher" calling for the "blushing English maiden," to wit, to keep herself in readiness to become a happy and proud mother for the good of the State, by several "black" and fair moustaches, in sequence, as we shall see, if only handsome and healthy. Thence his quarrel with the "higher education" which debilitates woman. For
"Having done with his entrée en matière, he shows us forthwith whither he is driving, though he pretends to be able to say very little in that article; only "to approach by a lateral avenue one of the minor outworks of the fortress to be stormed." What this "fortress" is, we will now see and by the "lateral" small "avenue" judge of the magnitude of the whole. Mr. G. Allen, having diagnosed that which for him is the greatest evil of the day, now answers his own question. This is what he proposes for producing sound children out of sound because unmarried mothers, whom he urges to select for every new babe a fresh and well-chosen father. It is, you see
Is the learned theorist talking here of men and women, or discussing the brute creation, or are the human and animal kinds so inseparably linked in his scientific imagination as to disable him from drawing a line of demarcation between the two? It would seem so, from the cool and easy way in which he mixes up the animal sires and dams with men and women, places them on the same level, and suggests "different mixtures of blood." We abandon him willingly his "sires," as, in anticipation of this scientific offer, men have already made animals of themselves ever since the dawn of civilization. They have even succeeded, while tying up their "dam" to a single "sire" under the threat of law and social ostracism, to secure for themselves full privileges from that law and Mrs. Grundy and have as great a choice of "dams" for each single "sire," as their means would permit them. But we protest against the same offer to women to become nolens volens "accredited mares and heifers." Nor are we prepared to say that even our modern loose morals would publicly approve of or grant Mr. Allen the "freedom" he longs for, "for such variety of experimentation," without which, he says it is quite "impossible to turn out the best results in the end for humanity." Animal humanity would be more correct, though he explains that it is "not merely a question of prize sheep and fat oxen, but a question of begetting the highest, finest, purest, strongest, sanest, healthiest, handsomest and morally noblest citizens." We wonder the author does not add to these laudatory epithets, two more, viz., "the most respectful sons," and men "proudest of their virtuous mothers." The latter are not qualified by Mr. Grant Allen, because, perchance, he was anticipated on this point by the "Lord God" of Hosea (i. 2) who specializes the class from which the prophet is commanded to take a wife unto himself.
In a magazine whose editor has just been upholding the sacredness of marriage before the face of the author of the Kreutzer Sonata, by preceding the "Confession" of Count Tolstoi with an eulogy on Miss Tennant, "the Bride of the Season" the insertion of "The Girl of the Future" is a direct slap in the face of that marriage. Moreover, Mr. G. Allen's idea is not new. It is as old as Plato, and as modern as Auguste Comte and the "Oneida Community" in the United States of America. And, as neither the Greek philosopher nor the French Positivist have approached the author in his unblushing and cynical naturalism neither in the Vth Book of the Republic, nor "the Woman of the Future" in the Catechism of the Religion of Positivism we come to the following conclusion. As the name of Comte's "Woman of the Future" is the prototype of Mr. G. Allen's "Girl of the Future," so the daily rites of the "mystic coupling" performed in the Oneida, must have been copied by our author and published, with only an additional peppering of still crasser materialism and naturalism. Plato suggests no more than a method for improving the human race by the careful elimination of unhealthy and deformed children, and by coupling the better specimens of both sexes; he contents himself with the "fine characteristics" of a "single sire" and "a single dam," and would have turned away in horror at the idea of "the advantage of different mixtures of blood." On the other hand the high-priest of Positivism, suggesting that the woman of the future "should cease to be the female of the man," and "submitting to artificial fecundation," thus be come "the Virgin Mother without a husband," preaches only a kind of insane mysticism. Not so with Mr. Grant Allen. His noble ideal for woman is to make of her a regular brood-mare. He prompts her to follow out
But why "divine"? And if so, why only in man when the stallion, the hog and the dog all share this "divine impulse" with him? In the author's view "such an occasional variation modifying and heightening the general moral standard" is ennobling; in our theosophical opinion, such casual union on momentary impulse is essentially bestial. It is no longer love but lust, leaving out of account every higher feeling and quality. By the way, how would Mr. Grant Allen like such a "divine impulse" in his mother, wife, sister or daughter? Finally, his arguments about "sexual selection" being "more capricious and dainty in man than in any other species of animal," are pitiable. Instead of proving this "selection" "sacred and divine" he simply shows that civilized man has descended lower than any brute after all these long generations of unbridled immorality. The next thing we may be told is, that epicureanism and gluttony are "divine impulses," and we shall be invited to see in Messalina the highest exemplar of a virtuous Roman matron.
This new "Catechism of Sexual Ethics" shall we call it.? ends with the following eloquent appeal to the "Girl of the Future" to become the brood mares of cultured society stallions:
And now gentlemen of the Press, severe critics of Tolstoi's "immoral" Sonata, stern moralists who shudder at Zola's "filthy realism," what say you to this production of one of your own national prophets, who has evidently found honor in his own country? Such naturalistic articles as "The Girls of the Future," published in the hugest and reddest Review on the globe, are, methinks, more dangerous for the public morals than all the Tolstoi-Zola fictions put together. In it we see the outcome of materialistic science, which looking on man only as a more highly developed animal, treats therefore its female portion on its own animalistic principles. Steeped over the ears in dense matter and in the full conviction that mankind, along with its first cousins the monkeys, is directly descended of an ape father, and a baboon mother of a now extinct species, Mr. Grant Allen must, of course, fail to see the fallacy of his own reasoning. E.g., if it is an "honor for any woman to have been loved by Shelley. . . . and to have brought into the world a son by a Newton," and another "by a Goethe," why should not the young ladies who resort to Regent Street at the small hours of night and who are soaked through and through with such "honors," why should not they, we ask, receive public recognition and a vote of thanks from the Nation? City squares ought to be adorned with their statues, and Phryne set up hereafter as an illustrious example to Hypatia.
No more cutting insult could be offered to the decent women and respectable girls of England. We wonder how the ladies interested in the Social problems of the day will like Mr. Grant Allen's
Lucifer, July, 1890
H. P. Blavatsky
1 All the italics throughout the article are ours.
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2 This, only in "semi" civilised
Russia, if you please. In England she has not even the privilege of voting