BY VIRGINIA WOOLF
ONE docs not like to leave unanswered so remarkable a letter as yours — a letter perhaps unique in the history of human correspondence, since when before has an educated man asked a woman how, in her opinion, can war be prevented? Therefore let us now make the attempt, even if it is doomed to failure.
In the first place let us draw what all letters instinctively draw, a sketch of the person to whom the letter is addressed. Without someone warm and breathing on the other side of the page, letters are worthless. You, then, who ask the question are a little gray on the temples. You have reached the middle years of life not without effort, at the Bar; but on the whole your journey has been prosperous. There is nothing parched, mean, or dissatisfied in your expression. And without wishing to flatter you, your prosperity — wife, children, house — has been deserved. For the rest, you began your education at one of the great public schools and finished it at the University.
It is now that the first difficulty of communication between us appears. Let us rapidly indicate the reason. We both come of what, in this transition age when, though birth is mixed, classes still remain fixed, it is convenient to call the educated class. When we meet in the flesh we speak with the same accent and can keep up a conversation without much difficulty about politics and people, war and peace, barbarism and civilization — all the questions, indeed, suggested by your letter. Moreover, we both earn our livings. But . . . those three dots mark a precipice, a gulf so deeply cut between us that I have been sitting on my side of it wondering whether it is any use to try to speak across it.
Here we are only concerned with the obvious fact when it comes to considering this important question — how we are to prevent war — that education makes a difference. Some knowledge of politics, of international relations, of economics, is obviously necessary in order to understand the causes which lead to war. Philosophy, even theology, might come in usefully. Now the uneducated you, as you will agree, the man with an untrained mind, could not possibly deal with such questions satisfactorily. War as the result of impersonal forces is thus beyond the grasp of the uneducated, the untrained mind. But war as the result of human nature is another thing. Had you not believed that human nature, the reasons, the emotions of the ordinary man and woman, lead to war, you would not have written asking for our help.
Copyright 1938, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. All rights reserved.
Happily there is one branch of education that comes under the heading ‘unpaid-for education’ — that understanding of human beings and their motives which, if the word is rid of its scientific associations, might be called psychology. But though many instincts are held more or less in common by both sexes, to fight has always been the man’s habit, not the woman’s. Education and practice have developed what may be a psychological difference into what may be a physical difference — a difference in glands, in hormones. However that may be, the fact is indisputable — scarcely a human being in the course of history has fallen to a woman’s rifle; the vast majority of birds and beasts have been killed by you, not by us.
How, then, are we to understand your problem, and if we cannot, how can we answer your question, how to prevent war? The answer based upon our experience and our psychology — Why fight? — is not an answer that would be of the least use to you. Obviously there is for you some glory, some necessity, some satisfaction in fighting which we have never felt or enjoyed. Complete understanding could only be achieved by blood transfusion and memory transfusion — a miracle still beyond the reach of science. But we who live now have a substitute for blood transfusion and memory transfusion which must serve at a pinch. There is that marvelous, perpetually renewed, and as yet largely untapped aid to the understanding of human motives which is provided in our age by biography and autobiography and the daily paper. It is to biography, then, that we will turn first, quickly and briefly, in order to understand what war means to you.
First, this from a soldier’s life: —
I have had the happiest possible life, and have always been working for war, and have now got into the biggest in the prime of life for a soldier. . . . Thank God, we are off in an hour. Such a magnificent regiment! Such men, such horses! Within ten days I hope Francis and I will be riding side by side straight at the Germans.
To that let us add this from an airman’s life: —
We talked of the League of Nations and the prospects of peace and disarmament. On this subject he was not so much militarist as martial. The difficulty to which he could find no answer was that if permanent peace were ever achieved, the armies and navies ceased to exist, there would be no outlet for the manly qualities which fighting developed, and that human physique and human character would deteriorate.
Here, then, are three reasons which lead your sex to fight: war is a profession; a source of happiness and excitement; and it is also an outlet for manly qualities, without which men would deteriorate. But these feelings and opinions are by no means universally held by your sex; this is proved by the following extract from another biography, the life of a poet who was killed in the war — Wilfred Owen.
Already I have comprehended a light which never will filter into the dogma of any national church: namely, that one of Christ’s essential commands was: Passivity at any price! Suffer dishonour and disgrace, but never resort to arms. Be bullied, be outraged, be killed; but do not kill. . . . Thus you see how pure Christianity will not fit in with pure patriotism.
And among some notes for poems that he did not live to write are these: —
The unnaturalness of weapons . . . Inhumanity of war . . . The insupportability of war . . . Horrible beastliness of war . . . Foolishness of war.
From these quotations it is obvious that the same sex holds very different opinions about the same thing. But also it is obvious, from to-day’s newspaper, that, however many dissentients there are, the great majority of your sex are to-day in favor of war. They are of opinion that Wilfred Owen was wrong; that it is better to kill than to be killed. Yet, since biography shows that differences of opinion are many, it is plain that there must be some one reason which prevails in order to bring about this overpowering unanimity. Shall we call it, for the sake of brevity, ‘patriotism’? But the educated man’s sister — what does ‘patriotism’ mean to her? Has she the same reasons for being proud of England, for loving England, for defending England? Has she been ‘greatly blessed’ in England?
History and biography, when questioned upon these points, would seem to show that her position in the home of freedom has been distinctly different from her brother’s; and psychology would seem to hint that history is not without its effect upon mind and body. Therefore her interpretation of the word ‘patriotism’ may well differ from his. And the difference may make it extremely difficult for her to understand his definition of patriotism and the duties it imposes. It seems plain that we think differently according as we are born differently; there is the soldier’s and airman’s point of view; a Wilfred Owen point of view; the patriot’s point of view; and the point of view of an educated man’s daughter. Even the clergy, who make morality their profession, give us divided counsel — in some circumstances it is right to fight; in no circumstances is it right to fight.
But besides these pictures of other people’s lives and minds, these biographies and histories, there arc also ot her pictures — pictures of actual facts, photographs. Photographs, of course, are not arguments addressed to the reason; they are simply statements of fact addressed to the eye. Let us sec, then, whether when we look at the same photographs we feel the same things.
Here on the table before us are photographs. The Spanish Government sends them with patient pertinacity about twice a week! They are not pleasant photographs to look upon. They are photographs of dead bodies, for the most part. This morning’s collection contains one that might be a man’s body, or a woman’s; it is so mutilated that it might, on the other hand, be the body of a pig. But those certainly are dead children, and that undoubtedly is the section of a house. A bomb has torn open the side; there is still a bird cage hanging in what was presumably the sitting room, but the rest of the house looks like nothing so much as a box of matches suspended in mid-air.
Those photographs are not an argument; they are simply a crude statement of fact addressed to the eye. But the eye is connected with the brain, the brain with the nervous system. That system sends its messages in a flash through every past memory and present feeling. When we look at those photographs some fusion takes place within us; however different the education, the traditions, may be behind us, still our sensations are the same. You, Sir, call them ‘horror and disgust.’ We also call them horror and disgust. And the same words rise to our lips. War, you say, is an abomination, a barbarity; war must be stopped at whatever cost. And we echo your words. War is an abomination, a barbarity; war must be stopped. For now at least we are looking at the same picture; we are seeing with you the same dead bodies, the same ruined houses.
That emotion, that very positive emotion, seems to demand something more positive than a name written on a sheet of paper, an hour spent listening to speeches, a check written for whatever sum we can afford — say one guinea. Some more energetic, some more active method of expressing our belief that war is barbarous, that war is inhuman, — that war, as Wilfred Owen put it, is insupportable, horrible, and beastly, — seems to be required. But, rhetoric apart, what active method is open to us?
You, of course, could once more take up arms — in Spain, for example — in defense of peace. But that presumably is a method that you have rejected. At any rate that method is not open to us; both the Army and the Navy are closed to our sex. Nor, again, are we allowed to be members of the Stock Exchange. Thus we cannot use either the pressure of force or the pressure of money. We cannot preach sermons or negotiate treaties. Then again, although it is true that we can write articles or send letters to the press, the control of the press — the decision what to print and what not to print — is entirely in the hands of your sex. It is true that for the past twenty years we have been admitted to the Civil Service and to the Bar; but our position there is still very precarious and our authority of the slightest.
Not only are we incomparably weaker than the men of our own class; we are weaker than the women of the working class. If the working women of the country were to say, ‘If you go to war, we will refuse to make munitions or to help in the production of goods,’ the difficulty of war-making would be seriously increased. But if all the daughters of educated men were to down tools tomorrow, nothing essential either to the life or to the war-making of the community would be embarrassed. Our class is the weakest of all the classes in the state. We have no weapon with which to enforce our will — no weapons but an illusionary ‘indirect’ influence, the hardwon vote, and one other. For some reason never satisfactorily explained, the right to vote, in itself by no means negligible, was mysteriously connected with another right of such immense value to the daughters of educated men that almost every word in the dictionary has been changed by it, including the word ‘influence.’ You will not think this statement exaggerated if we explain that it refers to the right to earn one’s living.
The educated man’s daughter has now at her disposal an influence which is different from any influence that she has possessed before. It is not the influence which the great lady, the Siren, possesses; nor is it the influence which the educated man’s daughter possessed when she had no vote; nor is it the influence which she possessed when she had a vote but was debarred from the right to earn her living. It differs because it is influence from which the charm clement has been removed. It differs because it is an influence from which the money element, has been removed. She need no longer use her charm to procure money from her father or brother. Since it is beyond the power of her family to punish her financially, she can express her own opinions. In place of the admirations and antipathies which were often unconsciously dictated by the need of money she can declare her genuine likes and dislikes. At last she is in possession of an influence that is disinterested. The question that has now to be discussed, therefore, is how can she use this new weapon to help you to prevent war?
Here again the sacred year 1919 comes to our help. Since that year put it into the power of educated men’s daughters in England to earn their livings, they have at last some real influence upon education. They have money to subscribe to causes. Honorary Treasurers invoke their help. And when Honorary Treasurers invoke help, it stands to reason that they can be bargained with. To prove it here, opportunely, cheek by jowl with your letter is a letter from one such treasurer, asking for money with which to rebuild a women’s college. This at once gives us the right to say to her, ‘You shall only have our guinea if you will help this gentleman, whose letter also lies before us, to prevent war.’ But what, is the meaning of that statement — what terms shall we lay down? What kind of education shall we bargain for? What sort of education will teach the young to hate war? What reason is there to think that a university education makes the educated against war?
Since she is asking for money, and since the giver of money is entitled to dictate terms, let us risk it and draft a letter to the Honorary Treasurer, laying down terms upon which she shall have our money to help her to rebuild her college. Here, then, is an attempt: —
‘Your letter, Madam, has been waiting some time without an answer. But certain doubts and questions have arisen. May we put them to you, ignorantly as an outsider must, but frankly as an outsider should when asked to contribute money? You say, then, that you are asking for one hundred thousand pounds with which to rebuild your college. Are you so harassed with the problem of drawing one hundred thousand pounds gracefully from an indifferent public that you can only think of bazaars and ices, of strawberries and cream?
‘ Let us then inform you: we are spending three hundred millions annually upon the Army and Navy. For there is, according to a letter that lies cheek by jowl with your own, grave danger of war. How, then, can you seriously ask us to provide you with money with which to rebuild your college? What has your college done to stimulate great manufacturers to endow it? Have you taken a leading part in the invention of the implements of war? How far have your students succeeded in business as capitalists? How, then, can you expect very handsome bequests and donations to come your way?
‘Also consider these photographs: they are pictures of dead bodies and ruined houses. Surely in view of these questions and pictures you must consider very carefully, before you begin to rebuild your college, what is the aim of education; what kind of society, what kind of human being, it should seek to produce. At any rate I will only send you a guinea with which to rebuild your college if you can satisfy me that you will use it to produce the kind of society, the kind of people, that will help to prevent war.
‘Let us, then, discuss as quickly as we can the sort of education that is needed. Now since history and biography — the only evidence available to an outsider — seem to prove that the old education of the colleges breeds neither a particular respect for liberty nor a particular hatred of war, it is clear that you must rebuild your college differently. It is young and poor; let it therefore take advantage of those qualities and be founded on poverty and youth. Obviously, then, it must be an experimental college, an adventurous college. Let it be built on lines of its own. Obviously it must be built, not of carved stone and stained glass, but of some cheap, easily combustible material which does not hoard dust and perpetuate traditions. Do not have chapels. Do not have museums and libraries with chained books and first editions under glass cases. Let the pictures and the books be new and always changing. Let it be decorated afresh by each generation with their own hands cheaply. The work of the living is cheap; often they will give it for the sake of being allowed to do it.
‘Next, what should be taught in the new college, the poor college? Not the arts of dominating other people; not the arts of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capita!. They require too many overhead expenses: salaries and uniforms and ceremonies. The poor college must teach only the arts that can be taught cheaply and practised by poor people — such as medicine, mathematics, music, painting, and literature. It should teach the arts of human intercourse, the art of understanding other people’s lives and minds, and the little arts of talk, of dress, of cookery, that are allied with them.
‘The aim of the new college, the cheap college, should be not to segregate and specialize, but to combine. It should explore the ways in which mind and body can be made to coöperate, discover what new combinations make good wholes in human life. The teachers should be drawn from the good livers as well as from the good thinkers. There would be no difficulty in attracting such teachers. For there would be none of the barriers of wealth and ceremony, of advertisement and competition, which now make the old and rich universities such uneasy dwelling places — cities of strife, cities where this is locked up and that is chained down, where nobody can walk freely or talk freely for fear of transgressing some chalk mark, of displeasing some dignitary.
‘If the college were poor it would have nothing to offer; competition would be abolished. Life would be open and easy. People who love learning for itself would gladly come there. Musicians, painters, writers, would teach there cheaply, because they would learn. What could be of greater help to a writer, for instance, than to discuss the art of writing with people who were not thinking of examinations or degrees or of what honor or profit they could make literature give them, but of the art itself?
‘And so with the other arts and artists. They would come to the poor college because it would be a place where they could develop their own arts; where society was free, not parceled out into the miserable distinctions of rich and poor, of clever and stupid, but where all the different degrees and kinds of mind, body, and soul merit coöperation. Let us, then, found this new college, this poor college; in which learning is sought for itself; where advertisement is abolished and there are no degrees, and lectures arc not given and sermons are not preached and the old poisoned vanities and parades which breed competition and jealousy . . .’
The letter broke off there. It was not from lack of things to say; it was because the face on the other side of the page — the face that a letter writer always sees — appeared to be fixed, with a certain melancholy, upon a passage in an important book: ‘Head mistresses of schools therefore prefer a belettered staff, so that the students of Newnham and Girton were at a disadvantage in obtaining employment.’ The Honorary Treasurer of the Rebuilding Fund had her eyes fixed on that. ‘What, is the use of thinking how a college can be different,’ she seemed to say, ‘when it must be a place where students are taught to obtain employment?’ ‘Dream your dreams,’ she seemed to add, turning rather wearily to the table which she was arranging for some festival, a bazaar presumably, ‘fire off your theories if it pleases you, but we have to face realities.’
That, then, was the ‘reality’ on which her eyes were fixed: students must be taught to earn their livings. And since that reality meant that she must rebuild her college on the same lines as the others, it followed that the college for the daughters of educated men must also make research produce practical results which will induce bequests and donations from rich men; it must accept degrees and colored hoods; it must accumulate great wealth; it must exclude other people from a share of its wealth; and therefore in five hundred years or so that college too must ask the same question that you, Sir, are asking now: ‘How in your opinion are we to prevent war?’
An undesirable result that seemed; why, then, subscribe a guinea to procure it?
That question, at any rate, was answered. No guinea of earned money should go to rebuilding the college on the old plan; just as certainly none could be spent upon building a college upon a new plan; therefore the guinea should be earmarked, ‘Rags. Petrol. Matches.’ And this note should be attached to it: ‘Take this guinea and with it burn the college to the ground. Set fire to the old hypocrisies. Let the light of the burning building scare the nightingales and incarnadine the willows. And let the daughters of educated men dance round the fire and heap armful upon armful of dead leaves upon the flames. And let their mothers lean from the upper windows and cry, “Let it blaze! Let it blaze! For we have done with this ‘education’!”’
Such is the rather lame and depressing answer to our question whether we can ask the authorities of the colleges for the daughters of educated men to use their influence through education to prevent war. It appears that we can ask them to do nothing; they must follow the old road to the old end; our own influence as outsiders can only be of the most indirect sort. If we are asked to teach, we can examine very carefully into the aim of such teaching and refuse to teach any art or science that encourages war. Further, we can pour mild scorn upon chapels, upon degrees, and upon the value of examination. We can intimate that a prize poem can still have merit in spite of the fact that it has won a prize. If we are asked to lecture we can refuse to bolster up the vain and vicious system of lecturing by refusing to lecture. And of course, if we are offered honors and degrees for ourselves, we can refuse them — how, indeed, in view of the facts, could we possibly do otherwise?
But there is no blinking the fact that in the present state of things the most effective way in which we can help you through education to prevent war is to subscribe as generously as possible to the colleges for the daughters of educated men. For, to repeat, if those daughters are not going to be educated they are not going to earn their livings; if they are not going to earn their livings they are going once more to be restricted to the education of the private house; and if they are going to be restricted to the education of the private house they are going, once more, to exert all their influence, both consciously and unconsciously, in favor of war.
Now that we have given one guinea towards rebuilding a college we must consider whether there is not more that we can do to help you to prevent war. Let me place before you another letter, a letter as genuine as your own, a letter that happens to lie beside it on the table.
It is a letter from another Honorary Treasurer, and it is again asking for money. ‘Will you,’ she writes, ‘send a subscription to [a society to help the daughters of educated men to obtain employment in the professions] in order to help us to earn our livings? Failing money,’ she goes on, ‘any gift will be acceptable — books, fruit, or cast-off clothing that can be sold in a bazaar.’ If she is as poor as this letter indicates, then the weapon of independent opinion upon which we have been counting to help you to prevent war is not, to put it mildly, a very powerful weapon. On the other hand, poverty has its advantages; for if she is poor, as poor as she pretends to be, then we can bargain with her as we bargained with her sister at Cambridge, and exercise the right of potential givers to impose terms.
We must rule out, as possible helpers, that large group to whom marriage is a profession, because it is an unpaid profession, and because the spiritual share of half the husband’s salary is not, facts seem to show, an actual share. Therefore if he, as facts seem to show, is in favor of force, she too will be in favor of force. In the second place, facts seem to prove that the statement ‘To earn £250 a year is quite an achievement even for a highly qualified woman with years of experience’ is not an unmitigated lie, but a highly probable truth. Therefore the influence which the daughters of educated men have at present from their money-earning power cannot be rated very highly. Yet, since it has become more than ever obvious that it is to them we must look for help, for they alone can help us, it is to them we must appeal.
You will remember that we are using our psychological insight (for that is our only qualification) to decide what kind of qualities in human nature are likely to lead to war. And the facts disclosed above are of a kind to make us ask, before we write our check, whether, if we encourage the daughters of educated men to enter the professions, we shall not be encouraging the very qualities that we wish to prevent. Shall we not be doing our guinea’s worth to ensure that in two or three centuries not only the educated men in the professions but the educated women in the professions will be asking — oh, of whom? as the poet says — the very question that you are asking now: How can we prevent war? Here, then, is another letter endeavoring to formulate terms to the Honorary Treasurer of a society for helping the daughters of educated men to enter the professions: —
‘Madam, I have had a letter from a professional man asking us to help him to prevent war. Also the Spanish Government sends me almost weekly photographs of dead bodies and ruined houses. That is why I am haggling and bargaining over conditions.
‘For the evidence of the letter and of the photographs, when combined with the facts with which history and biography provide us about the professions, seems to throw a certain light — a red light, shall we say — upon those same professions. You make money in them, it is true; but how far is money, in view of those facts, in itself a desirable possession ?
‘ If extreme wealth is undesirable, and extreme poverty is undesirable, it is arguable that there is some mean between the two which is desirable. What, then, is that mean — how much money is needed to live on to-day? And how should that money be spent? What is the kind of life, the kind of human being, you propose to aim at if you succeed in extracting this guinea?
‘Let us glance rapidly at the lives of professional men who have succeeded in their professions. Here is an extract from the life of a great lawyer: “ He went to his chambers about half-past nine. . . . He took briefs home with him . . . so that he was lucky if he got to bed about one or two o’clock in the morning.” That explains why most successful barristers are hardly worth sitting next at dinner — they yawn so. Next, here is a quotation from a famous politician’s speech: “Since 1914 I have never seen the pageant of the blossom from the first damson to the last apple — never once have I seen that in Worcestershire since 1914, and if that is not a sacrifice I do not know what is.” A sacrifice indeed, and one that explains the perennial indifference of the government to art — why, cabinet ministers must be as blind as bats.
‘Take the religious profession next. Here is a quotation from the life of a great bishop: “This is an awful mind and soul destroying life. I really do not know how to live it. The arrears of important work accumulate and crush.” That bears out what so many people are saying now about the Church and the nation. Our bishops and deans seem to have no soul with which to preach and no mind with which to write. Listen to any sermon in any church, read the journalism of Dean Alington or Dean Inge in any newspaper.
‘Take the doctor’s profession next. “I have taken a good deal over £13,000 during the year, but this cannot possibly be maintained, and while it lasts it is slavery. What I feel most is being away from Eliza and the children so frequently on Sundays, and again at Christmas.” That is the complaint of a great doctor; and his patient might well echo it, for what Harley Street specialist has time to understand the body, let alone the mind or both in combination, when he is a slave to thirteen thousand a year?
‘But is the life of a professional writer any better? Here is a sample taken from the life of a highly successful journalist: “On another day at this time he wrote a 1600-word article on Nietzsche, a leader of equal length on the Railway Strike for the Standard, 600 words for the Tribune, and in the evening was at Shoe Lane.” That explains, among other things, why the public reads its politics with cynicism, and authors read their reviews with foot rules — it is the advertisement that counts; praise or blame has ceased to have any meaning.
‘These quotations prove nothing that can be checked and verified; they merely cause us to hold opinions. And those opinions cause us to doubt and criticize and question the value of professional life: not its cash value, — that is great, — but its spiritual, its moral, its intellectual value. They make us believe that if people are highly successful in their professions they lose their sight, their sense of proportion; they are prisoners in a cave, blind, crippled; they become so set on money-making, honor-getting, that they become competitive, possessive, jealous, combative, and thus, so far as our psychological knowledge is to be trusted, likely to be in favor of war.
‘We, daughters of educated men, are between the devil and the deep sea. Behind us lies the patriarchal system, the private house, with its nullity, its immorality, its hypocrisy, its servility. Before us lies the public world, the professional system, with its possessiveness, its jealousy, its pugnacity, its greed. The one shuts us up like slaves in a harem; the other forces us to circle, like caterpillars head to tail, round and round the mulberry tree, the sacred tree, of property. It is a choice of evils.
‘ But another answer may be staring us in the face on the shelves of your own library, once more in the biographies. This time let us turn to the lives, not of men, but of women in the nineteenth century — to the lives of professional women. But there would seem to be a gap in your library, Madam. There are no lives of professional women in the nineteenth century.
‘When Mary Kingsley says, “Being allowed to learn German was all the paid-for education I ever had,” she suggests that she had an unpaid-for education. What, then, was the nature of that “unpaid-for education” which, whether for good or for evil, has been ours for so many centuries? If we mass the lives of the obscure together behind four lives that were not obscure, but were so successful and distinguished that they were actually written, — the lives of Florence Nightingale, Miss Clough, Mary Kingsley, and Gertrude Bell, — it seems undeniable that they were all educated by the same teachers. And those teachers, biography indicates, obliquely and indirectly, but emphatically and indisputably none the less, were poverty, chastity, derision, and — but what word covers “lack of rights and privileges”? Shall we press the old word “freedom” once more into service? “Freedom from unreal loyalties,” then, was the fourth of their teachers — that freedom from loyalty to old schools, old colleges, old churches, old countries, which all those women enjoyed, and which to a great extent we still enjoy.
‘Which of the two educations, which of the two professions, the paid or the unpaid, is the better, we have not time now to consider. Thus biography, when asked the question we have put to it, — how can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings, human beings who discourage war? — seems to reply: If you refuse to be separated from the four great teachers of the daughters of educated men, — poverty, chastity, derision, and freedom from unreal loyalties, — but combine them with some wealth, some knowledge, and some service to real loyalties, then you can enter the professions and escape the risks that make them undesirable.
‘Such being the answer of the oracle, such are the conditions attached to this guinea. You shall have it, to recapitulate, on condition that you help all properly qualified people, of whatever sex, class, or color, to enter your profession; and further on condition that in the practice of your profession you refuse to be separated from poverty, chastity, derision, and freedom from unreal loyalties.
‘By poverty is meant enough money to live on. That is, you must earn enough to be independent of any other human being and to buy that modicum of health, leisure, knowledge, and so on that is needed for the full development of body and mind. But no more. Not a penny more.
‘By chastity is meant that when you have made enough to live on by your profession you must refuse to sell your brain for the sake of money. That is, you must cease to practise your profession; or practise it for the sake of research and experiment; or, if you are an artist, for the sake of the art; or give the knowledge acquired professionally to those who need it for nothing. But directly the mulberry tree begins to make you circle, break off. Pelt the tree with laughter.
‘By derision — a bad word, but, as has been already remarked, the English language is much in need of new words — is meant that you must refuse all methods of advertising your merit, and hold that ridicule, obscurity, and censure are preferable, for psychological reasons, to fame and praise. Directly badges, orders, or degrees are offered you, fling them back in the giver s face.
‘By freedom from unreal loyalties is meant that you must do all you can to rid yourself of pride of nationality in the first place; also of religious pride, college pride, school pride, family pride, sex pride, and those unreal loyalties that spring from them. Directly the seducers come with their seductions to bribe you into captivity, tear up the parchments, and refuse to fill up the forms.
‘For if you agree to these terms, then you can join the professions and yet remain uncontaminated by them; you can rid them of their possessiveness, their jealousy, their pugnacity, their greed. You can use them to have a mind and a will of your own. And you can use that mind and will to abolish the inhumanity, the beastliness, the horror, the folly of war. Take this guinea, then, and use it, not to burn the house down, but to make its windows blaze. And let the daughters of uneducated women dance round the new house, the poor house, the house that stands in a narrow street where omnibuses pass and the street hawkers cry their wares, and the voices of ships come in from the river, and let them sing, “ We have done with war! We have done with tyranny!” And their mothers will laugh from their graves, “It was for this that we suffered obloquy and contempt! Light up the windows of the new house, daughters! Let them blaze!”
‘Those, then, are the terms upon which I give you this guinea with which to help the daughters of uneducated women to enter the professions. It is a penny candle, no more, but may it help to set light to those photographs of dead bodies and ruined houses and ensure that no other generation shall be forced to see what we have seen.’
Such, Sir, was the letter finally sent to the Honorary Treasurer of the society for helping the daughters of educated men to enter the professions. Those are the conditions upon which she is to have her guinea. They have been framed, so far as possible, to ensure that she shall do all that is in her power to help you to prevent war. As you will see, it was necessary to answer her letter and the letter from the Honorary Treasurer of the college rebuilding fund and to send them both guineas before answering your letter, because unless they are helped, first to educate the daughters of educated men, and then to earn their livings in the professions, those daughters cannot possess an independent and disinterested influence with which to help you prevent war. The causes, it seems, are connected.
(To be concluded)