Far And Wide

Far And Wide

http://www.archive.org/details/FarAndWide

http://ia341229.us.archive.org/2/items/FarAndWide/far.pdf FAR AND WIDE by Douglas Reed published: 1951 CONTENTS *** prepared by Truth Seeker – http://www.douglasreed.co.uk *** FOREWORD: ALL ABOARD FOR ALABAM’ *** PART ONE AMERICAN SCENE 1 WAY DOWN IN DIXIE
2 WHITE PILLARS, GREEN PASTURES
3 WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
4 CAPITAL OF THE CONTINUATION
5 OF MURDER AND MOTIVE
6 STRICKEN FIELD
7 SPEED THE COMING GUEST
8 VIA COLOROSA
9 NEW BABYLON
10 STREET SCENE
11 IN YANKEELAND
12 LIFE OF A SALESMAN
13 MAINE TO MASSACHUSETTS
14 OF WITCHCRAFT AND DELUSIONS
15 A BOAT IN BOSTON
16 ON GOING WEST
17 CHASING THE SUN
18 MIDDLE EMPIRE
19 ON OIL AND TWISTERS
20 THE ROAD TO SANTA FÉ
21 WHITE SANDS
22 WHERE BAD MEN WERE
23 ON DATES AND DESERTS
24 … AND MINISTERS OF GRACE
25 VALLEY OF LIGHTS AND SHADOWS
26 CASTLE OF DREAMS
27 ‘… ENJOYMENT OF PARADISE’
28 SNAKE-TEMPO IN SACRAMENTO
29 WIDE OPEN TOWN
30 THE GHOST OF GOLD
31 IN HONEYBEELAND
32 COLORADO: EL DORADO
33 MYSTERIOUS WAY
34 SILVER SPOON
35 FROM WYOMING TO
ARMAGEDDON
36 ON DUDE RANCHES AND
DINOSAURS
37 ART AND THE MOUNTAIN
38 ON MEALS AND MEALIES
39 OF BACON AND A BEACON
40 CITIES FULL OF VIOLENCE
41 SMALL TOWN
42 HOT SPOT
43 LAST LAP
44 WAITIN’ ON THE LEVEE PART TWO BEHIND THE SCENE 1 THREE SERVITUDES
2 ZIONISM PARAMOUNT 3 COMMUNISM PENETRANT
4 LOOKING BACK *** POSTSCRIPT *** P.P.S., JULY 1951 ***

Foreword
ALL ABOARD FOR ALABAM’
I took ship one day for Alabama, and this is the tale of that far journey across wide seas and lands.
It took me from Africa to, and through, America and back and was much longer than the earth’s
girth. The calling of political explorer, which chance bestowed on me some twenty years ago,
becomes ever fussier, but I seem to he its only practitioner now and enjoy it.
My heart never urgently called me Americaward because it belongs to our cradle-land, Europe, and
in serener times I would have stayed there. Today Europe is cut in two and, I believe, will either be
wholly crushed into a servile oblivion at one more move in the great game, or rise again. The
remaining years of our century should decide that stupendous issue of our age (or, as you like it,
that petty incident in time and space).
Much power to sway the decision, either way, has passed from Europe to America, so that I felt an
urgent need of the mind to go there. The balance of money-power and manufacture-power has
greatly shifted thither; and if ‘the world is governed by very different persons from what those
believe who are not behind the scenes’ (Disraeli’s words) then America is today the land which they
will chiefly seek to divide, rule and use for the completion of their plan.
The plan, I think, is the old one of world dominion in a new form. It is not merely that of one more
Wicked Man, like the Hitler who, in Mr. Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator, dreamily played with
our planet. The political explorer early finds that other men than these spotlighted, evanescent,
public figures also play with the globe.
It is, in my belief, the plan of a conspiratorial sect, the members of which wield much power in all
countries, seldom openly appear, hold sway over the visible public figures, and are able so to direct
the acts of governments, friendly or hostile, peaceable or warring, that these in the end all promote
their prompters’ own destructive ambition.
This ambition (and today I think it is apparent) is to set up a World State to which all nations,
having ruined each other, shall be enserfed. The League of Nations was to my mind a first
experiment in that direction and the United Nations is a second one, much more advanced.
A wandering journalist, I have gone through the thick of these events for many years and have no
doubt left that this is the shape of things intended to come. Two groups, alien in all lands and
powerful in all lands, chiefly promote that great design. The political explorer finds Soviet
Communism and Zionist Nationalism in all countries to be forces powerful behind the scenes, and
in sum their separate efforts serve a converging ambition.
It is, as I judge, to crush the nations into a flat, brazen servitude between the hammer of revolution
and the anvil of gold. The founder of Zionist Nationalism, Theodor Herzl, openly described the
method: ‘The power of our purse … the terrible power of the revolutionary proletariat.’ It reveals the
secret, the great discovery, of politics in our times. Politicians can ever be brought to yield either to
the glitter of material reward (perhaps in the shape of votes), or, if that fails, to the threat of
agitation and overthrow. Such is the conspirator’s road to power, on high and higher to the highest
levels.
Today the scene is set for the third act, intended to complete the process. The money-power and the
revolutionary-power have been set up and given sham but symbolic shapes (’Capitalism’ or
‘Communism’) and sharply-defined citadels (’America’ or ‘Russia’). Suitably to alarm the mass-
mind, the picture offered is that of bleak and hopeless enmity and confrontation: Black Knight and
White Knight. One must destroy the other.
Such is the spectacle publicly staged for the masses. But what if similar men, with a common aim,
secretly rule in both camps and propose to achieve their ambition through the clash between those
masses? I believe any diligent student of our times will discover that this is the case. He will find
that in all countries essential to the plan invisible or half-seen men, whose names are publicly little
known, are powerful enough to dictate the major acts of governments at vital moments (President
Roosevelt’s near-deathbed admission that he signed the fatal order to bisect Germany ‘at the request
of an old and valued friend’, who remained nameless, is a recent case in point).
In the United States, particularly, these powerful men behind-the-scenes have in the last thirty years
been able to give such a slant to governmental actions that these went to promote the ends of Soviet
Communism and Zionist Nationalism; at least, it looked like that to me from afar and when I went
closer the same picture grew only clearer.
Thus I think that out of the smoke and smother of any new war, begun on the one side to ‘destroy
Capitalism’ and on the other to ‘destroy Communism’, will at the end be produced (if this situation
continues) what those managers really want: the Communist-Capitalist Super-State with all the
Capitalist-Communist power over people and gold, and all the nations submerged. For the Second
War proved beyond further doubt what the First War began to make probable: that aims and causes
tossed to the masses at the start of these great conflicts have no relation to the ultimate plans in
truth pursued.
In that matter another incident from the Roosevelt era is convincing. At one point during the
Second War the British Government found that Mr. Roosevelt entertained massive ideas about
reshaping the globe, and these affected British territories, among many others. The British Foreign
Minister, courteously mentioning that they included no American (he might have added, or
Russian) sacrifices, gently asked about the President’s constitutional powers for redistributing the
world while it was still at war.
President Roosevelt then inquired of his legal advisers and was reassuringly told that he could do
anything he liked ‘without Congressional action in the first instance’ and ‘the handling of the
military forces of the United States could be so managed as to foster any purpose he pursued’.
The last sentence supplies the key to the mysteries of these wars. They are not for the ends publicly
announced when The Boys set out. The important thing, apparently, is to get The Boys started; then
their military operations may be ‘handled’ to foster ‘any purpose’ their rulers may pursue. But who
are their rulers, today? In the most vital matters, ‘old and valued friends’, who never emerge from
anonymity!
I think the method has become clear, and expect to see it pursued, and any further wars ‘handled’,
until the purpose of setting up the World Servile State is accomplished, or finally fails. Long
observation in Europe and Africa brought me to and confirmed these views. America was the
essential last stage on my journey of political exploration. I knew all the rest, from Moscow
through Berlin to London and Paris, and believed I had a good notion of what went on in America;
but the personal experience lacked.
So I went to see for myself, with memories of the two wars and of twenty years of politics in
twenty countries in my mind’s eye. All those fragments now fitted into the picture of a continuing
process, guided by master hands unseen, and I set out to learn how far the American one dovetailed
into it. At the end I thought that America, like my own country, was in the business unwittingly but
up to the neck. Matters have gone too far for the last great coup, The World State, not now to be
tried; only the result, I think, now remains in doubt.
The first part of this book contains the visual picture of America as I saw it at the fateful mid-
century during a very long overland journey; my experience is that you need to travel a country far
and wide before you try to understand it. The second part contains, for what they are worth, the
conclusions which I brought away.
*** PART ONE AMERICAN SCENE Chapter One
WAY DOWN IN DIXIE
The ship crept up the dun-coloured river and Mobile took growing shape, clustered round tall
buildings that wore air-conditioning plants like hats atop. Much later, at my journey’s end, I was
glad to have begun it at Mobile. I doubt if the stranger who descends from the Queen Mary straight
into the turmoil of New York ever fully recovers from that impact or thereafter gains a fair
perspective of America. The better way is to start in Alabama or Maine and see the South and New
England first. Having traced the root and stem of America, the traveller will study with more
understanding the exotic fruit that has been grafted on at the top, an alien growth on an American
stalk. He who arrives first in New York will continue his journey with senses benumbed and
confused.
The things which captivate the innocent abroad at the outset are those which are new to him and in
America these are, foremost, the gadgets. Already in the taxicab from the docks I wondered what
sharp, staccato entertainment the car’s radio emitted until I realized that its and other drivers were
informing some central command-post of their whereabouts and receiving orders, like tank-
commanders in Normandy. My driver took a hand microphone and joined in this brisk exchange.
‘Seventy-five heah,’ he said, ‘coming in from the docks, and the commander’s voice crisply
returned, ‘Okay, seventy-five, we want yuh for the deepoh.’ ‘Okay,’ he said, and the operation orders
continued: sixty-six was heah, forty-nine was at Bienville Square awaiting instructions, thirty-two
was sought and twenty-one reported.
Awed at the start, I came to an hotel where the great glass door opened at my approach, without
human help. Later I came to know this door well enough to have fun with it. I would stop as I drew
near and it opened, and retreat a step; with smooth courtesy it halted and closed. It was the perfect
dancing partner, and late one night, when I saw none about, I tried it with a rumba, which it
performed perfectly. I was enjoying this dance (it is my favourite) when I felt that I was observed.
Looking round I saw a negro porter watching me, not with disdain but with smiling sympathy.
The lifts, too, were playful. Two served my upper floor and faced each other across a wide landing.
They were operated by regresses and were noiseless to the point of stealth. When I rang for and
awaited the one I would hear a voice behind me say, in accents of suffering, ‘Going down’, and
would spin round to find the other lift-girl looking at me, with some contempt added to the ageless
sorrow of her liquid brown eyes. I tried ringing for one and quickly crossing the landing to the
other, but then the one originally summoned would silently arrive and behind my back the deep,
accusing voice would say, ‘Going down’. At the bottom I said, ‘Thank you’, and she answered,
‘You’re welcome’; thus, when I finally left the hotel through the unattended door the last words I
heard were those which used to greet the coming guest.
From the hotel into the town I followed the trail of such wonders. With a companion I visited the
bank, which in America is often placed high among the seeworthy-things (as the Germans say). It
seemed full of telephones, iced-water machines, and busy men in large hats from whose mouths
cigars pointed like anti-aircraft guns. They incessantly picked up telephones and spoke into them at
once, as if the instrument automatically connected them with the folk they wanted, and between
calls they visited the iced-water machines. I thought I caught them sometimes telephoning into an
iced-water machine or trying to drink from a telephone, but may have been confused. They greeted
all, including me, with a cheery wave of the arm, two outstretched fingers at its end, and ‘Howdy,
pardner. How’re yuh t’daye Nice t’see yer.’ I at once became the partner of several leading
Mobilians and also an officer in some unknown service (’Howdy, cap’n’).
These amiable forms are not general in America, I found in time. The slow, unhurried courtesy
which was once the accepted manner of an American, of whatever station, widely survives in the
South, but gives way to an impersonal brusqueness in other places, particularly those under the
spiritual influence of New York, where hurly-burly seems to have been rewritten surly-burly. There
a pleasant mien is apparently held a sign of weakness and its wearer ‘a smoothy’. ‘How strange that
it should be a sign of affectation, and even of degeneracy, to be well-mannered and well-dressed, to
speak English with correctness and live with a certain elegance;’ (wrote Mr. Somerset Maugham in
A Writer’s Notebook), ‘a man who has been to a good boarding-school and to Harvard or Yale must
walk very warily if he wants to avoid the antagonism of those who have not enjoyed these
advantages. It is pitiful often to see a man of culture assume a heartiness of manner and use a style
of language that are foreign to him in the vain hope that he will not be thought a stuffed-shirt.’
Once, slumped over hot-cakes in a chilly dawn, I saw before me a notice: ‘Don’t ask us for
information; if we knew anything we shouldn’t be here.’ I wanted to inquire the way somewither,
but forbore, wondering nevertheless why people should deny themselves the ancient pleasure of
setting a wayfarer on his road.
The South is still unafraid of civility, or even a little blarney. I felt happier to be told by a waitress
here, ‘Yes sah, Ah’ll gladly bring you that’, or by a hotel manager there (when I asked for the bill),
‘We hate ter do it, but if you must go …’; and by a museum custodian, who had to deny some small
request, ‘Ah’m jest as sorry as Ah could be, but that’s not allowed’. In Mobile the more elegant
quality of the earlier time still showed through the shape of the later one. The America of Main
Street does not yet compare to advantage with that which first grew out of the wilderness and the
fortified settlements.
Mobile was French first, and France bequeathed to these parts an immortal name, that of the dix-
dollar notes, or dixies. Its pleasant old houses, now diminishing, with their lacey metalwork
balconies, offer a challenge to Main Street which I found repeated all over America, not only in the
South and New England. In a thousand small towns of the interior the pleasant white houses of the
‘homes section’ were projections of those which the early colonists built along the coast, using the
timber of the new continent and the best models of the old. In the same thousand small towns the
‘business section’ was the projection of something different, incongruous and of poorer intrinsic
quality. Mobile’s Main Street contained a profusion of moneylenders; they were even more
plentiful than pawnshops used to be in Camden High Street.
Exploring the town I first came on those suburbs of delightful white houses which continued to
charm me all over America. Then I found the districts where the poor whites lived, and those of the
negroes. The poor white trash (the name may first have been given them by the sugarfields darkies,
for the residue from cane-crushing is ‘trash’) earned fifty pounds a month but remained an affront to
the other white folk. The negroes lived in cheerful slovenry and their girls spent much time with
their own beauty specialists, probably having their hair done.
Hair becomes a major problem for the young negress when she lives among white communities.
Her own hair is much longer than it looks but clings so tightly to her scalp that white women’s hats,
which she admires, are too big for her. She cannot stretch it to its full length by plaiting or beading,
as the Zulu warrior or baby sometimes does, but achieves this end by heavy grease. This enables
her to attain something like the hair-do of her favourite white film-actress. Another method is to
wear a wig, and these are manufactured for a lively market.
Down on the levees I found the darkies dreamily angling. They still looked as if they might have
known Uncle Tom or Tom Sawyer, and still the ancient conflict racked their souls: whether to do a
chore or go fishing. I believe this is for many of them life’s major issue. It still is in the Africa from
which their forefathers came. Though cast among white men, they do not fully accept the white
man’s philosophy. The Red Indian (who is neither Indian nor red) seems to reject it completely;
prevented from warring and hunting, he huddles together in small reservations and impassively
awaits extinction or unforeseeable revival. The negro prefers a compromise; he will work within
limits, to gain leisure for fishing or dreaming. He survives and multiplies.
I landed in the Deep South and, therewith, in the middle of ‘the colour problem’, and was glad
Southern Africa had taught me some rudiments of the matter. The question has four distinct
aspects. The first, what the black man truly wants, is ignored by all parties to the great debate. The
second and third are the conflicting opinions, between white men who live among black men, about
what is good for him within the limits of what is good for them. The division is in my experience
not very wide, but is broadened by the parties of the fourth aspect, the political groups far from
negro-populated areas who use it to set white man against white man as a means of achieving votes
and power. This is the chief aspect. The past hundred years have shown that white folk in New
England and Old England may be violently incited against each other and against white folk in
warmer latitudes by this means, to the point of civil wars. The American Civil War was the first of
these.
The contemplation of sin in others is an ancient human enjoyment, particularly when the beholder
is remote from temptation. It is a pleasure much enjoyed by unoccupied ladies at lace-curtained
windows in suburban streets. Seated at her New England casement Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe
grew wrathful about the goings-on of Simon Legree and the plight of Topsy, far, far away, to such
effect that she similarly infuriated millions of other window-sitters and became (as President
Lincoln said) ‘the little lady who started the big war’. Later, when she saw the ruined South and
Uncle Tom, free but bewildered, she wrote in alarm: ‘Corrupt politicians are already beginning to
speculate on the negroes as possible capital for their schemes and to fill their poor souls with all
sorts of vagaries … It is unwise and impolitic to endeavour to force negro suffrage on the South at
the point of the bayonet.’
However, the thing was so enforced, with dire results; Mrs. Beecher Stowe, had she but known,
was herself used by corrupt politicians for the furtherance of schemes; and Uncle Tom could not be
unwritten when she saw the light. At this mid-century the book is used for new incitement in a land
where pale-skinned folk, if not white ones in the true sense, endure a harsher slavery than her
characters knew; time, the jester, dances on. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as a play, is a favourite medium of
the present rulers in Moscow for teaching their herded masses to hate the Western white man.
Moreover, Mrs. Stowe founded a school of writers, now innumerable. Her success led one Anna E.
Dickinson to delight New York, in 1868, with a novel, What Answer? depicting the marriage of a
rich young white man with a negress and since that day the theme has never been let drop. Its true
importance seems to be fractional.
Because of this I found life and talk in the South much like those of South Africa; the same note of
unease about the future ran through them. The clamour from outside paid little heed to people who
were actually worse off than the negroes, namely, the original inhabitants, the Red Indians (so
called by Columbus because he thought America was India, reached by a new route; they appear to
be of Asiatic origin and to have reached America in remote ages by some icy trek from Siberia,
across frozen seas, to Alaska). Mrs. Stowe never wrote the story of Sitting Bull’s wigwam, though
her own house may have stood on its site. The surviving American Indians are too few for the
‘corrupt politicians’ elsewhere to bother with.
With a companion I began to discover America, ranging round the Mobile countryside from the
luxurious country clubs and fine Gulf-side houses to the poorer farmers’ shacks and the coloured
quarters. I felt at once the great wealth and energy of the country, also its disquiet and resentments,
from which no moving frontier now offers escape. I was fortunate to meet at the outset a
companion who gave me a deep insight into many things, at first puzzling.
He was a remarkable man. Born to a hard lot, he had been all over America, afoot or by thumbed-
ride. America was his life and being; he felt it as an enormous experience, the shape of which,
nevertheless, he could not comprehend. He was full of its lore and in my room sang to me epic
poems of the legendary giants of the wood-axe and the trail, Mike Fisk, Paul Bunyan, Johnny
Appleseed and the others, the men who boasted they could outfight, outshoot, outjump and outrun
all others. In them you could bear the crash of falling timber, the arrow’s hiss, the song of the
flatboats floating down-stream and of the conquering steamboats churning upriver. He felt himself
the child of titans in a stupendous world and knew not which way to turn. He had made himself,
from the raw, into an artist and sculptor of talent and found no field or market. He did not feel
boundless freedom but an eroding frustration. What could an artist do in America, how could he
even live? He sought an answer in a little room among tall buildings. He saw beauty in the great
freight train, with its mile of box-cars, that with clanging bell rumbled straight through the middle
of the town. These annihilators of space and distance mean to Americans of his kind something of
what ships mean to Englishmen. With him I wandered along the quays, past the darkies
daydreamily watching their lines. He knew their soul, too, and put it into his songs. ‘Howdy,
pardner,’ he said to each, ‘What you caught?’ A sheepish backward grin and ‘Nuthin’.’ ‘What,
nuthin’! Gorn, Ah thought you caught a big catfish or somep’n.’
I said goodbye with regret one night and climbed aboard a train. When the midnight choo-choo
leaves for Alabam’, I hummed as its wheels began to turn. Then I tried to sleep but could not. I had
fallen into a trap when a charming Mobilian at the booking-office asked me, ‘Upper or lower berth?
Upper’s cheaper.’ Grateful for the hint, I said, ‘Upper’.
The sleeping-car was that which England knows as a saloon-car, with a central aisle and sets of
seats on either side, facing each other in pairs. By some miracle these were transformed into beds at
night, an upper and a lower for each four seats; the aisle remained free, between curtains. The
occupant of the lower bed could dress or undress sitting on its edge with his feet on the floor; look
out of the windows, sit upright, or even stand by bulging the curtains a little. The upper berth was a
windowless cell, only reached or left by a ladder, which was procurable only by ringing for the
attendant. The roof of the car was about two feet above the berth itself, so that I found myself
undressing and dressing flat on my back in a dark horizontal cubicle, a surprising and difficult
predicament. I was glad when, somewhat crumpled, I came to my next abiding-place, a little town
in the heart of South Carolina.
*** Chapter Two
WHITE PILLARS, GREEN PASTURES
It was a quiet, withdrawn place of white houses in a green setting, the relic of a way of life
violently interrupted eighty years ago. The houses of the South (and of New England, I later found)
share a cool, white dignity and charm. Wood, being abundant, was from the start more used than
brick, but design closely followed English models remembered by the early colonists. More shade,
however, was needed; and as the classic tradition was then respected and ready-made columns
grew in the earth Athenian porticoes were added; the result, in all its variations, is delightful. A few
great plantation houses remain in the hands of the original families, who for all their English names
still chuckle over the discomfiture of the redcoats as much as they mourn the disastrous sequel of
the blue ones. The majority of those that survive have been acquired by rich men of the later time
who cherish them, thus using wealth beneficently in a country where great fortunes often go
destructive ways in the hands of juniors striving indiscriminately to atone for affluence. While taste
and elegance seem to have fled from Broadway and Main Street, the furniture and furnishings of
such Southern and New England houses are on the highest level.
These houses were framed in trees that stood like giants; they seemed to grow twice as tall and full
as elsewhere. Beneath these overhanging green masses, where blue jays and red admirals sported,
and between the pillared, verandaed white houses I wandered, looking at America. Broad roadway,
broad sidewalk and broad lawns, all were filled with a tangible hush that seemed not quite peace.
The motor car has emptied such residential parts of the walking folk who once enlivened them. To
English taste, which might be right or wrong, something else lacked. Americans, from the
equalitarian idea or ideal which ever defeats itself, dislike hedges or fences, so that houses rub
porches and walls without any line of domain between. That works against the life of gardens, of
fathers tending flowers or children playing and the general animation which these pleasant scenes
give.
American homes, therefore, somewhat bleakly confront the outer world, usually without any outer,
private keep to soften the impact. Later, on Long Island, I saw a private builder’s estate of ten
thousand small houses where dividing fences were forbidden as a condition of sale. I believe this
may cause a spiritual overcrowding, in a huge land, which discomforts many Americans. In a short
story about an American girl who sought out her old nurse in England I found the words: ‘Frances
came upon Ainsty Street and stopped … What was life here like? These were pleasant cottages …
they were not the facile, blank little homes that American developers grind out all over the
landscape. The pride and the privacy of each was contained within walls and behind individual
wooden gates.’ Similarly a wise Texan in England, Professor J. Frank Dobie (Hammond, Hammond
& Co., London, 1946) wrote, ‘As for freedom and pleasance, I’ll take a hedged-in cottage and its
plot anywhere in England rather than many thousands of acres from which the grass that the
buffaloes once grazed has all been destroyed and nothing but dollar wheat planted.’
This may be one cause of the lack of a pleasant domestic vivacity in American residential areas
generally, but the South, where other things than buffalo lands were destroyed, is a special case and
I ascribed also to its particular memories some of the brooding melancholy which I felt in these
green avenues. This sadness, as of a dying strain of music, was caught by the title of Miss
Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind. I thought of it as I strolled past quiet white houses and
remembered the long queues of people waiting, in London, to see the film that was made from it.
They were there before France fell and still there, I believe, when France was freed. It was ‘good
entertainment’ and few of those picturegoers saw anything else in it.
For the South, for the present American Republic, and possibly for the entire white family the Civil
War (its true name, I judge) remains of present significance. More Americans were killed in it than
in both twentieth-century wars together. Not only for that reason is it a living American reality,
whereas the others were more quickly forgotten. Brother fought against brother in it and never
knew for what. Few now believe it was fought to free slaves, from whose importation Northern
traders once grew rich. The fury of partisanship, on either side, was used to different ends.
It was the first war in which the lot of a third party (and not the aboriginal population) was
employed to divide white men against each other in the new worlds they thought to have
conquered, and to promote a worldwide revolutionary design. The real aim was to break the
political power of the rural South and transfer it to the expanding, industrial North, where the
revolutionary forces were strongest. It led to a weakening of the Union, which plainly showed in
the Republic of 1950. When that war began America was a country of a homogeneous people,
predominantly English, Scottish, Ulster-Irish, German and Scandinavian in origins and
recognizably ‘American’. In its aftermath, which opened the floodgates of immigration from
Eastern Europe, this composition of the population was radically changed. Power passed, not to
Northern Americans of the old stock, but more and more into the hands of newcomers. They
brought with them schemes for a new Union; that of the world, with America and all other
countries servient to it. Like the Republic’s tombstone (it has that shape) their headquarters building
was rising in New York when I went there; it was called the house of ‘The United Nations’.
I think the road to the American Civil War, and beyond, clearly ran from the French Revolution.
Today the war against the South continues. It is indispensable to the politics of New York and of
the tombstone-building. Crushed in 1865, the South is still too strong. With that obduracy which
attends God’s processes, it has remained homogeneous, a surviving obstacle to the consolidation of
the new power in America and the world.
Travelling in the South Mr. John Gunther (himself of more recent American vintage) remarked in
Inside U.S.A.: ‘The foreign-born and sons of foreign-born, who have been travelling with us for
most of the course of this book, now leave our story to all practical purposes. The South is
overwhelmingly of native-born Anglo-Saxon origin … I might add, “predominantly of Scots-Irish,
Ulster or Celtic stock”. There are towns in North Carolina almost as Scottish as Aberdeen; there are
backwoods in Tennessee and Arkansas as implacably Celtic as anything in Wales … In every state
except Florida and Louisiana 90 per cent or more of the white citizens come of parents who were
both American born. The figure reaches 98.7 per cent in Arkansas … That Arkansas should be one
of the most unquestionably backward of American states naturally gives the observer slight pause
and makes one wonder what peculiar characteristics the Celts and Gaels, when transported,
contribute to a civilization.’ (However, this writer recorded a notable contribution of the South to
what in their day were presented as wars ‘for civilization’: ‘The South from the beginning and most
vividly took the Allied side in both World Wars … The proportion of volunteer enlistments to
conscripts was 85.3 for South Carolina, 92.6 for Georgia, 98.6 for Texas and 123.4 for Kentucky …
One factor in this is obviously the Anglo-Saxon origin of most Southerners … Still another is the
peculiar and ineffaceable persistence of the martial tradition, the fighting impulse.’)
Mr. Gunther calls the South ‘The Problem Child of the Nation’. This characteristically New York
conception that the parent is the child and the child now the parent, is unremittingly suggested into
the American mind by newspapers, books, plays, films and radio. Any demur is rebuked as racial
discrimination. A reviewer in a New York newspaper, discussing a book called Our English
Heritage said: ‘One school of thought insists that the immense influx of people from central Europe
makes the future of America belong to them. This reviewer does not agree.’ Such words verge on
punishable heresy in America today, and are rare to see in print.
The transference of power to a newly-arrived minority is, however, possible if the original stock
can be kept fairly equally divided by the wedge of some exterior issue. For this purpose the negroes
of the South continue to be used. The matter is explained by Mr. Robert. E. Sherwood, one of
President Roosevelt’s ghost-writers, in Roosevelt and Hopkins: ‘Roosevelt said to me’ (during the
fourth-term election campaign) ‘that, if there were some fifty million people who would actually
vote on election day, you could figure roughly that some twenty million of them were determined
to vote Democratic and another twenty million Republican (give or take a few million either way)
regardless of the issues or candidates. This left ten, million or more uncommitted independents who
were subject to persuasion during the course of the campaign, and it was to these that the strongest
appeals must be made … A substantial number of negroes was included in the independent
minority, as Roosevelt reckoned it. It was obvious that anyone with his exceptionally positive
social views would he implacably opposed to racial discrimination.’
The Southern negro thus plays in the 1950s, as in the 1860s, the part of stalking horse in the pursuit
of political power. The cry of ‘racial discrimination’ is not genuinely raised on his behalf, the real
meaning is that it would be ‘racial discrimination’ to oppose the new immigration from taking over
the American future, as the intrepid reviewer remarked. The ambition, aspirants and method are not
peculiar to America; they occur in England, South Africa and all countries known to me.
In England, for instance, the native masses equate two main parties with their beliefs and hopes.
They vote Conservative to ensure the liberty of each man and the survival of the nation, and
Socialist if they wish individual men to yield their liberty to the State and the State, then, to merge
the nation in some international directorate. In fact they get the same thing either way, merely at a
different pace, and in America the position is similar, only the labels being different: Republican
for Conservative and Democratic for Socialist. Both parties, in both countries, appear to regard the
small, indeterminate mass of votes, between the two main parties, as being in the gift of third
groups and they court this support by surrender to the aims of those separate forces, which work for
the supreme State, first, and the supreme World State, next.
In America, under this masterly manipulation, the two parties have even changed places, or faces.
At the Civil War the Republicans, who cried ‘Abolish slavery’ (or ‘down with racial discrimination’)
as a means to power were the party of the revolutionaries. The Democratic Party was that of the
conservative South, and eventually resurrected it. The Republicans then enjoyed seventy years of
power, almost unbroken, a period long enough to turn any party conservative. Seeing that, the
revolutionary element transferred to the Democratic Party and proved, when President Roosevelt
came to power, to be very strong in it; the last seventeen years have been filled again with the
specious clamour of ‘down with racial discrimination’ and the atmosphere of pre-Civil War days
has been reproduced. So strong is the memory of what the Republicans did after that war that
Southerners still automatically vote Democratic. The most their representatives can do, when they
reach Congress, is somewhat to retard the new campaign against the South; on the whole they
promote the aim of the new immigration to ‘take over the future of America’. The Republican Party,
which now professes to stand for the traditional American Republic, in its turn feels ever forced by
the thought of coming elections to court the graces of this overriding group. For the present no
escape from the blind road offers to the voter, either in England or America.
The clear trail leading from the Civil War to the present was the first of my surprises in America.
Like most Europeans, probably, I was ignorant of that war and when I studied it felt like an
archaeologist who finds the original of the Communist Manifesto in Greek ruins. What went with
that wind was more than the political power of the South; what came with the new one was the
enslavement of white men by Soviet methods. Only the peculiar spirit of the South prevented that
condition from becoming permanent. I read the records with growing amazement, because I
recognized in them a continuing process of today. ‘That the Southern people were put to the torture
is vaguely understood’ (wrote Mr. Claude G. Bowers in 1929 in The Tragic Era), ‘but even
historians have shrunk from the unhappy task of showing us the torture chambers … it is impossible
to grasp the real significance of the revolutionary proceedings of the rugged conspirators working
out the policies of Thaddeus Stevens without making many journeys among the Southern people
and seeing with our own eyes the indignities to which they were subjected.’
The key-words are ‘revolutionary’ and ‘conspirators’ and they fit today’s situation like a glove. That
the North, with its newly-discovered gold, growing industry, command of the sea and increasing
population would win that war was plain to clear heads in the South from the start, and did not
deter them from a war which, they believed, had to be fought. Just as it ended President Lincoln,
whose continued presidency would have meant reconciliation, was murdered. The way to the South
was opened to persons recognizable today as the revolutionary conspirators we know as
Communists.
Of the twelve years that followed, the miracle is that the South survived. Mr. John Gunther, who
seems to have been startled by what he learned when he saw the South, says, ‘If you read the
history of those days you must inevitably be reminded of contemporary analogies. Atlanta in the
1870s must have startlingly resembled Warsaw or Budapest under the Nazis in the 1940s …
Chopping up the South and ruling it by an absolute dictatorship of the military, while every kind of
economic and social depredation was not only allowed but encouraged, is so strikingly like what is
going on in Germany at present that the imagination staggers.’
Slightly different comparisons might be more correct. The sufferings of the South compare more
closely with those of Budapest, Warsaw and all of Eastern Europe under the Communists after the
1939-45 war ended than even under the Nazis in 1940. It is perfectly true, however, that things
happened in the American zone of occupation of Germany after 1945 which strongly recall the
years from 1865 to 1877 in the American South. They were chiefly due to the influence, inside the
American Army, of the immigration from Eastern Europe and of them Mr. Bowers might today
write that ‘even historians have shrunk from the unhappy task of showing us the torture chambers’.
The American public has not been told much of what went on, nor has the English, though to a
lesser extent similar things happened in the British zone. The tale of mock-trials before a black
altar, of brutal beatings and confessions extorted in the pretence that sentence of death was already
passed, was told by an American Army board of inquiry, headed by a justice, but was not allowed
to reach the conscious mind of the American masses. More was revealed in Mr. Montgomery
Belgion’s Victors’ Justice, a book to which reviewers in America turned a strangely blind eye.
The close resemblance between the torture of the South in the years after 1865 and that of Europe
in those after 1945 proved, to me, the existence of a permanent revolutionary organization, trained
to intervene at such junctures in human affairs and give them a satanic twist. The day after
Lincoln’s death Ben Butler was appointed Secretary of State. That was a clear omen; he was the
Northern general who ordered his troops at New Orleans in 1862 to treat as common prostitutes any
white woman there who ‘by word, gesture or movement insulted or showed contempt’ for them.
Outside the government, real power in the Republican Party passed to Thaddeus Stevens, a dying
and malignant man. Club-footed, bald but bewigged, of indeterminate origins, clamant for blood
and ruin, he was of the type of Marat, Goebbels, Dzherzhinsky or Szamuely. He lived with a
mulatto woman at Lancaster, in Quaker Pennsylvania, and this private factor may have helped
inflame his violent public demand for ‘absolute equality, socially and politically, between the races’.
Stevens pointed the way: ‘Hang the leaders, crush the South, arm the negroes, confiscate the land.’
He wanted chaos in the negro-populated area as an essential step towards revolution in the North;
the same idea was being taught to American Communists (as an apostate once testified) at the
Lenin Institute in Moscow in 1930, and is the ruling aim of American Communists in 1951. The
negroes were ‘better qualified to establish and maintain a republican government than the whites’.
The vote should be taken from the whites and given to the negroes. Attacking ‘racial discrimination’
he forced through Congress a bill ‘establishing for the security of the coloured races safeguards
which went infinitely beyond what the government has ever provided for the white race’ (President
Lincoln’s successor, Mr. Johnson, vetoed this bill and narrowly escaped arrest at General Butler’s
demand).
From the negroless North these white men raved for the extermination of the Southern whites. They
tried to suspend trial by jury and, when the Supreme Court resisted, to pack this with compliant
judges (President Roosevelt was the next to try that). When the victorious General Grant became
president the military commander in Louisiana, General Sheridan, telegraphed asking him to
declare the whites there ‘banditti’, saying ‘no further action need he taken except that which would
devolve on me’. The real aim of all this was, as Stevens said, ‘to secure perpetual ascendancy to the
Republican Party’. This continuing attempt to transfer power in the Republic to a more recently
arrived section of the community is the reality of all politics there today, though it is now pursued
by the other party.
Those fantastic years in the South, I found when I went over the ground, are illuminating for the
understanding of the present. The mass of liberated slaves, utterly bewildered, returned to the
plantations; chronicles of the day record the gratified surprise of the whites at their general
behaviour. Some of them, however, received arms and joined with poor whites of the South and
‘carpet-baggers’ from the North in a twelve-year orgy of ruin and corruption. The carpet-baggers
were men of the kind whom the Western Powers in 1945 forced on the countries of Eastern Europe,
thus abandoning them to the Communist Empire. They descended on the South like flies on
cadaver, making themselves leaders of the negroes and exerting every means to keep the freed men
from returning to their former masters or befriending themselves with the whites.
These carpet-baggers offered the negroes the white man’s lands, womenfolk and money, and incited
them to take those. The moon looked down on wild festivals of drunken intermingling in the idle
cottonfields. Negro superstition was exploited and at black masses (a recognisable feature of any
such regime) fearful fates were depicted to any who voted the wrong way. On the ruins of State
governments macabre Conventions met and carpet-bagger orators, inciting black audiences,
disfranchised masses of the whites. In mock parliaments the people’s representatives laughed and
yelled, passed bills with their feet on the backs of chairs, sent out for cases of liquor and boxes of
cigars, and ran up enormous debts; in Louisiana alone one of these sessions cost nearly $1,000,000
as against $100,000 before, some of the largest items being for champagne and other entertainment.
One observer wrote, ‘It is a monkeyhouse, with guffaws, disgusting interpolations, amendments
offered that are too obscene to print, followed by shouts of glee. Members stagger from the
basement bar to their seats; the Speaker in righteous mood sternly forbids the introduction of liquor
on the floor. A curious old planter stands in the galleries a moment looking down on the scene and
with an exclamation, “My God!” he turns and runs, as from a pestilence, into the street.’
Such corruption at the river’s mouth could not come from a source less corrupt. Mr. Bowers wrote
in 1929 that ‘never have American public men in responsible positions, directing the destiny of the
nation, been so brutal, hypocritical and corrupt’. Mr. Truslow Adams, in 1931, spoke of ‘the most
shameful decade in our entire national history’ and of ‘a moral collapse without precedent and, let
us hope, without successor’. Since President Roosevelt reintroduced the ‘racial discrimination’ issue
into the forefront of American political controversy these comments have become apt to the living
present.
The wonder is that the South ever lifted itself from that prostration, and by its own bootstraps.
During the worst years the minority of misguided negroes was held in check by the Ku-Klux-Klan,
which effectively played on superstitious fears. It was in truth a resistance movement, and only
when I saw the South did I understand something that formerly puzzled me; why the Communists
in 1950 still rail so much about the Ku-Klux-Klan. They fear future resistance movements, not the
one of 1865-77. The negro also played a part in the recovery. He was unable, at little more than one
remove from the Congo, to look after himself and turned to the white folks. His natural virtues also
contributed. To me he seems, in Africa or America, an innately conservative man in the mass. He is
not good revolutionary material, save possibly in the moment of ecstatic excitement to which he is
prone, and he is often deeply religious. It was a Negro Senator who wrote in 1876: ‘A great portion
of our people have learned that they were being used as mere tools and determined, by casting their
ballots against these unprincipled adventurers, to overthrow them.’ That precisely describes the
relationship between the negroes and the white politicians who use the racial-discrimination issue
today. Mr. Truslow Adams says of the twelve years, ‘There is no parallel for the situation in the
history of modern civilized nations, and it is almost incredible that it occurred within our own
country.’ American politics of today, however, are moving parallel with those of 1860 and again,
not for the good of the negro but to divide white people.
I was perhaps better equipped than most, by long experience, to relate the story of those years to
our today. I was also in a good town and a good house to study them. The town knew the full brunt
of the tragedy and by wonder escaped General Sherman’s burning. The house once watched the
young men go gaily off to fight, but saw few of them return; it knew also the anguished prayer
meetings of 1865, when it was filled with weeping women, the South was in ruins, and no future
offered. It had survived to know again the presence of a large and happy family in its fine rooms.
Yet the -memory of many tears was in it, and all around. I paid a call on neighbours who, I was
told, were rich people ‘before the war’ but now somewhat reduced. I expressed surprise, saying I
thought America was richer, not poorer, through the war. ‘Ah, I mean the Civil War,’ said my
companion, and I remembered that in South Africa too ‘the war’ means the old one, not either of the
world wars.
The South has never fully recovered, though it is advancing quickly now. It still has people who
have never been able to adjust themselves to the changed order and who live amid furniture and
hangings which seem to have 1865 imprinted on them, ancestral portraits then discontinued, and
the remnant of family silver, possibly saved by a faithful negro. Like Irish squireens, impoverished
but unbowed, they live as in a vacuum suspended in time. Deliberately but without posturing they
reject compromise with a time they feel inferior to the one that the wind destroyed. If neighbours
arrive from afar these remain ‘Northerners, but nice’.
In such a Southern town the America which grew out of 1865 has but one outpost: Main Street,
with its drugstore, red-and-gilt five-and-ten-cent stores, movie theatre, hamburgeria, jukeboxes and
all. Where hitching-posts may once have stood are now slot-machines which sell the parking
motorist time for a dime and with moving finger record the length of his absence. The thought of
this mechanical conscience is unnerving; you may see a behelmeted and beshrouded lady rush from
a hairdresser’s in mid-perm to propitiate the machine. These dime-boxes are often the consolation
of American policemen; fearing that their superiors may not wish them to interfere with other
forms of evildoing, they apply themselves to watching the red needle and the laggard motorist.
In this Main Street, having let my hair grow for a month at sea rather than submit it to an engine-
room hand who claimed he could cut it, I sought a barber’s shop. It was like a tonsorial church
where barber’s masses were celebrated. It had rows of high seats for those who only wanted their
shoes polished. If it lacked censers with sweet-smelling herbs, it had brazen pots for another
purpose, and music, broken only by announcements that it came by courtesy of Cosmic Cosmetics.
While your hair was cut a kneeling black acolyte shone your shoes, and if you spread your hands,
as in benediction, another, white and female, at once polished the nails. The barber seemed to be
invested with some inner authority; as he pressed a lever and tilted me into a prostrate and helpless
position I reflected that he had in fact power of life and death.
I asked for ‘a light trim’ and received a ruthless shearing; when I returned to the vertical I wondered
if the old scalping tradition yet fingered. Not long ago a man could earn good money by bringing in
a scalp; in 1800 old Thomas Armit of Pittsburgh lamented that his son legally married a squaw
whereas in his own day ‘ye could have drawed fifty dollars good money for her skelp’; perhaps my
barber had scalping-blood in his veins? He said my hair would look nice next time it was cut, then
hurriedly added, It looks pretty nice now’. ‘I heard you the first time,’ I said. ‘It sure needed cutting
badly,’ he said. ‘It needed cutting well,’ I said, ‘I’ve just made a long sea voyage.’ ‘You don’t say!’ he
said, ‘I was at sea until last fall.’ ‘An engine-room hand?’ I asked. ‘Sure,’ he said, ‘how did you
know?’ ‘I wondered,’ I said, ‘thank you.’ ‘You bet,’ he said.
I usually try to learn what people read. The Main Street American often says, ‘I don’t read as much
as you could put in your eye’; this self-imposed outlawry from the thought of the ages seemed a
lonely thing to me. However, I did not then know this and looked about until I found The Little
Bookshop (America has given way to the Quainte and the Olde, a vogue now outlived in England,
and I even saw a Gifte Shoppe). The Little Bookshop’s large window contained a big stuffed horse;
any books must have been in hidden recesses. The main source of literary supply, I later learned, is
often the drugstore, which displays racks of paper-covered volumes. These may be classics or
shockers, but impartially wear a cover-picture of a girl in a low dress, revealing pumpkin-like
contents; I never elsewhere saw books sold exclusively on cleavage-appeal. This seems part of the
New America; many planters of the old South had standing orders with booksellers in London and
Paris and rare editions are to be found in their houses.
In these early days everything was new, different, delightful, surprising or strange, especially days
spent in an American home among young people, all approaching marriage, and their parents. Life
moved at speed; the young men came and went by car or aeroplane and the girls rode high-voltage
horses, the sight of which made my cracked backbone wince. Had I known, this was to be the last
chance of pleasant conversation for some while. In America as a whole time does not suffice for
talk.
One girl came, from broadcasting work, late to a meal because she had to deputize for an
announcer stricken with hiccups. I thought this was a chance missed, for everybody has heard an
announcer without hiccups; he should have been introduced to listeners in suitable words, ‘We
bring you something you have never heard before, the hiccuping announcer.’ Then the hiccuper:
‘This programme comes to you, hup pardon, by courtesy of Pepper’s Anti-Dyspeptic Pepsin, hup
sorry.
(I was glad this amused, for the wayfarer in the Republic, if he is of jesting bent, will leave his ewe-
lambs scattered behind him, unrecognized and unwanted. Even my good companion in Mobile was
unresponsive to a joke. He first introduced me to the cafeteria, and as he sat down with food and
drink asked the negro attendant for a straw. ‘No straw, sah,’ said the man. ‘You don’t have a straw!’
exclaimed my friend in irritable surprise. ‘Perhaps they’ve used it to break the camel’s back,’ I said.
‘I guess so,’ he said, looking at me gravely.)
Now the girl who broadcast told the story of the radio-announcement of the executions at
Nuremberg. All the ‘ace’ American broadcasters strained themselves to outdo each other in
dramatic effect, and one fell headfirst over the uttermost brink of hyperbole by crying hoarsely into
the microphone, ‘Goering cheated death tonight by committing suicide!’ This reminded me of a
wartime headline in London’s Evening Standard when the boxer Joe Louis was enlisted in the
American Army: ‘My fighting days are over, says Joe Louis.’
There was a bright moment, too, when a son of the house used the word desultory, pronouncing it
desultory. He checked himself and asked me if that were right. I said humbly that, for what it was
worth, the word was spoken desultory in England; we had been so much intimidated about the
word Tory that we instinctively slurred it now. In the South that point immediately took.
One night the negro singers gathered in the music-room, four women and three men. Their faces
were still the African ones I knew, though Africa was but a legend to them, like Saxony to an
Anglo-Saxon. I often heard negro spirituals before, but found that to be really ‘heard’ (in the sense
the African negro himself uses the word) they need to be sang in an old plantation house of the
South which once had its own slaves. In it the most poignant memories of both races mingle; those
of the grey-coated young men tightly setting out and the women waiting in fading hope; those of
black folk transplanted from their original continent. Perhaps the white man and the black one
come nearest together in these songs.
Song was the solitary way in which these people could express their souls when they were slaves
and sat in the evenings by their huts, among the cottonfields. A typical figure, at once sorrowful
and reassuring, of the American scene today, Mr. Whittaker Chambers, once described the negro
spiritual in inspired words: ‘It was the religious voice of a whole religious people … One simple fact
is clear: the spirituals were created in direct answer to the psalmist’s question, “How shall we sing
the Lord’s song in a strange land?” … Grief, like a tuning-fork, gave the tone, and the Sorrow Songs
were uttered.’
That is the arresting truth; these people sang, on a note of abiding faith, to and of the Christian God.
They no longer knew what gods, or idols, their forefathers had. Listening, I wondered whither
music has fled from many Christian churches. If passers-by heard singing like this come from a
spired building in any mean street of London or New York the churches would be ever full, and
that croaking raven of our day, the communist cleric, would flap dismally away from their belfries.
I listened in enchantment to the blending of voices, the harmony and variations, the subtle
repetitions and interventions:
Nobody knows what trouble I’ve seen,
Nobody knows but Jesus …
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m right to the groun’.
Glory Hallelujah!
There was one with a tremendous, infectious beat and rhythm, in which I clearly heard the native
dances of Africa. The corpuscle is still in the blood and gives the same itch to feet and shoulders:
I went to the rock to hide my face,
The rock cried out, ‘No hiding place,
There’s no hiding place down there!’
The sinner man, he gambled and fell,
Wanted to go to heaven but had to go to hell,
There’s no hiding place down there!
And then one which rolled and dwindled like a peal of distant thunder echoing down the ages:
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Sometimes it causes me to tremble …
tremble …
tremble …
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
The grandchildren of freed slaves sang it to the grandchildren of Southern planters and a harmony
filled the pleasant room.
Reluctantly, one day, I left this green and white retreat and set out on my further way, along roads
marked to commemorate the battles of the colonists against the King’s men and then those of the
South against the North. They lead eventually, like signposts, to the different America which
emerged from them.
*** Chapter Three
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The car slid along the road like a ring on silken ribbon as I went through the Carolinas towards
Virginia. I wondered if all American roads were as excellent. I found they are; if all human life
were suddenly removed from earth, later visitors from other planets might find these roads among
the most remarkable works left behind by its dwellers.
On the wayside tablets famous names showed and were gone: Washington and Cornwallis, Grant
and Lee. The countryside was much like England in its contours and spring colouring; the white
houses, large and small, continued familiar in shape to an English traveller despite the clapboard
walls. The names too: I came to Raleigh, so called after that Sir Walter who had named the first
colony for his unmarried queen. Not far away was Roanoke Island where at the third attempt in
1587 he landed 150 men, women and children from Devon. The supply ships, four years later,
found only empty huts and a mysterious word, ‘Croatoan’, carved on a tree (today the Roanoke
islanders, in the manner of Passion Play villagers in Germany, re-enact the mystery of those
vanished colonists each year). When the next colonists came, in 1607, James was king and they
established Jamestown on the James River, a little farther north.
So it all began. Had Drake not sunk the Armada in 1588 the Spaniards might have pushed their
civilization northward along this coast from Mexico; had Wolfe not taken Quebec in 1759 the
French might have come southward from Canada and clinched their hold on the innerlands. Instead
the English spread north, south and west and founded the American Republic.
Raleigh in 1949, was far from all that. Hunger drove me to a drugstore there and I asked for a
sandwich. The girl took one readymade out of its wrapping, thrust it into a toaster, and in a
recognizable trice a hot sandwich lay before me. I was only starting to learn the stool-and-counter
way of eating, the quickfire service, the staccato vocabulary. Soon I knew the ’short stack’ and the
‘cheeseburger’, but never fully accustomed myself to the impersonal haste of it all.
The quieter South fell behind and I met the busy roadside life of the teeming central region. The
gaps grew ever smaller between filling-stations, drive-in theatres, diners, cafés, roadhouses, trailer-
courts and tourist-camps, stalls and booths. The first entry into a city of size, Richmond, was
bewildering. Awed by innumerable signs forbidding the traveller to stop, pause or turn, I was swept
along in a traffic-stream from which I could conceive no escape. However, these problems of the
newcomer do solve themselves and at nightfall I found myself in an hotel bedroom. Tired out, I put
my shoes in the passage and fell asleep. At two in the morning I was wakened by loud knocking
and shouts of ‘Bellboy, sah, yoh shoes is outside the door’. I opened the door to a smiling negro
whose grin plainly said, ‘Lawdy, how drunk you musta bin!’ Too sleepy to be intelligent, I said the
shoes were there to be cleaned. ‘Ah never heard of that,’ he said in patent disbelief, and waited
expectantly. I saw he thought he had saved my shoes from theft and remembered a remote inn in
the Carpathians where I suffered such loss.
These are all minor frustrations, for the stranger. Later I realized that shoeshine parlours would
complain if shoes were cleaned in hotels, and that hat-blocking parlours might fail if hats were
brushed in them. The charm about people is that they are different; Americans seem to feel the day
ill begun if they have not had a hat blocked, while I have spent my adult years trying to reduce
mine to a devil-may-care shabbiness, always being defied by their obstinate selfwill. Once I
rescued one from the debris of a bombed cleaner’s in London, thinking its dents would now stay in
and its brim remain down, but it was more arrogant than ever. I put three intolerable hats on a rose
bush in a Sussex garden during a drenching rainstorm once, hoping to break their spirits. The vicar,
calling on a new resident, saw them there and was curious, so that I explained; his visit seemed
brief, even for a duty call.
Presumably Richmond-on-James was named from Richmond-on-Thames, a royal town. Had the
South won the Civil War it might be the American capital today. Had the war ended in
reconciliation under a living Lincoln, its spirit and influence, with those of an earlier Washington,
might have been greater in the shaping of the new America, which is its opposite. The line of the
violent break is clear in the picture of America today.
It is particularly plain in Richmond. I looked at Capitol Square with sensations of recognition and
pleasure. Thomas Jefferson took the Maison Carrée at Nîmes as model for the Capitol itself, while
fine old English-type houses surround it. Here is dignity and, what puzzled me at first, the feeling
of age. Later I realized that New England and the South are older than their buildings, because
these, through their models, include the best of former centuries. The earlier Americans turned their
faces towards, not from, the two thousand years of European civilization; they meant to improve on
and not to deny it. This attitude towards life was expressed also in the lives of Americans of that
time. The break came with the end of the nineteenth century and the United Nations building in
New York is the symbol of the new philosophy.
Washington’s statue prompts a question: were men better then, or merely sculptors? What could
any sculptor make of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini? Does that which is bred in the bone come
out in the bronze? This statue is as near truth as can be, for it is a portrait, to measurement, of a man
of fifty-two, over six feet tall, of noble appearance, who saw it when Houdon finished it. The one in
Trafalgar Square is a cast from it. Another, in Grosvenor Square, shows an American president
erect who in fact could not stand alone. The subject of truth in statuary is of some interest.
From old Richmond I turned to new; Main Street. This was the biggest Main Street yet, though
smaller than many yet to come. I found in time that they all reproduce each other; Henry James,
who did not like Main Street and its intersections, wrote of ‘the dreadful multiplied numberings
which seem to reduce the whole place to some vast ledger-page, overgrown, fantastic, of ruled and
crisscrossed lines and figures’. Their variety of merchandise is immense, and the personal touch is
now that of a vanished hand.
In Capitol Square, Richmond, I felt as I would feel in the Place de la Concorde or Pall Mall. In
Main Street, Richmond, though it is but a corner’s turn away, I felt as if I were in an Eastern bazaar;
and indeed Main Street is an Eastern bazaar that runs from New York to Los Angeles, and puts out
branches left and right. There I first felt the speed of life in today’s America, that philosophy of
pace at any price which the people adopt, either to reach or escape from something. The South has
effectively resisted it, and Richmond is very much the South; but its Main Street, like all the others,
belongs to New York. In the roadway State Troopers whizzed past on screaming motor-bicycles
and as they went talked by microphone with some equally audible Chief, no doubt steely-eyed and
iron-jawed, at police headquarters. On the sidewalks a tomboyish vogue reigned for the moment
and the young girls set out to look as if they came straight from a shakedown, not from a make-up;
they wore tousled and tumbled hair, a tough air, and crumpled shirts loose outside rolled-up and
stained blue jeans, the ensemble being called ‘Sloppy Joe’. They looked for the nonce like orphans
of the Bolshevist Revolution but soon were to change, at the Garment Centre’s next dictate, to the
opposite cult of perfect neatness. The men remained recognizably Southerners, the young ones
personable and deferential, the older ones quiet and easy-mannered.
By chance I was in Richmond on Army Day and saw a military parade which, to me, vividly
symbolized the story of the Republic. It was led by detachments of two famous regiments, the
Richmond Grays and Richmond Blues, in their historic shakoes and tailcoats. They fought, in their
time, under Washington, with the British against the French and Indians and next, still under him,
against the British; then for the South against the North, and later wherever opportunity offered.
They were fine lads in the spotlights and marched across Capitol Square towards a question mark:
the future. If they and their kind had the making of it the answer would be reassuring, but that was
the doubtful point. Next to me a lady watched them with love in her eyes and chatted about them.
Though of great age she was in the first fine careless rapture. She put in fourteen hundred hours of
war work in the first war, she said, and in the second taught four hundred people how to knit; her
simple faith seemed to be impaired by no misgivings about the results of those two wars, and in it
she was plainly ready to spring to her knitting needle again at any alarm.
I remember Richmond for a quite different spectacle, too, that offered by a Human Cannonball. I
was interested in Human Cannonballs because, many years ago, I met a pretty one in Berlin who
said her painful profession frustrated all maternal hopes, so that I asked why she didn’t get herself
fired. That left me with an idea, never pursued but never quite abandoned, for a novel about a
Human Cannonball. I saw it as a story of frustrated love and motherhood, of a feminine Pagliacci
flying ever above the gaping crowd with aching heart behind the goggles and crash helmet, as it
were; how could a girl aspire to settle down to conjugal joys, with all those bruises! Now I went to
watch Richmond’s Human Cannonball. A lover of fireworks, I was enthralled by the great howitzer,
the fine explosion, the smoke and the white figure flying over the wheel to the net. Best of all, I
found that my unwritten comedy had a happy ending. Despite the bruises (which are the least
injuries to be feared in the calling) this Human Cannonball was the mother of two fine children; I
hoped my earlier acquaintance, who by now must have put her projectile days behind her, similarly
found her fears empty and her arms full.
Within a few jumps of Richmond are the still older places from which it, Virginia, the group of
English colonies, the American Republic and today’s heterogeneous Union all sprang. This region,
even more than New England to the north, is the cradle of the giant who has now reached
adolescence and, on that brink, looks uncertainly into what lies beyond. First comes Williamsburg,
the colonial centre before Richmond rose. Its historic Colonial Capitol and Sir Christopher Wren’s
College of William and Mary have been restored to complete beauty by Rockefeller money, and
stand monuments to the quality of the early pioneers and a challenge to the present. Next door to it
is Jamestown, where all began, with the ivy-covered ruin of an English church. A little farther on is
Yorktown, where Comwallis surrendered to Washington and the second stage in the American
odyssey began; the fortifications of that siege remain.
This is the perfect route for the understanding of America. Richmond, Washington and New York
are the successive tiers of the edifice. Richmond was the capital-city of the thirteen Colonies;
Washington was that of the Republic of thirty States which grew out of them and pushed inland
from the eastern seaboard; New York is the real capital of today’s transcontinental empire of forty-
nine States. Whose is the inheritance? Were the War of Independence and the Civil War but two
wars of the succession, which new pretenders are following with a third, possibly unarmed one, in
the twentieth century?
The process looked to have that shape. A new struggle for power in the Republic was in progress. I
set out for Washington, through a hundred miles of history as momentous as Napoleon’s hundred
days.
*** Chapter Four
CAPITAL OF THE CONTINUATION
A great city gleamed softly ahead in the haze and roads curved towards it between green expanses.
In that dulcet early morning light it might have been Camelot but for the clamant throng of four-
wheeled traffic, which gave it the look of an anthill and made me halt while afar off, like a foraying
commander in a strange land, to consider how I might best enter. Once in the main torrent, I knew,
I would be swept on, the helpless captive of stop-signs, traffic-lights and policemen’s whistles.
Carefully I studied the lie of the land, saw a roadside advertisement offering cheap rooms, went
into a filling-station and telephoned. Yes, I might have a room; when would I arrive? ‘That, I said,
like King Harry’s soldier before Agincourt, ‘is more than I know.’
Bracing myself against the shock, I plunged into the maelstrom. To travel in America with sleeping
berths, rooms and air-liner seats fore-booked is one thing; to explore it alone and humbly is
another. I was carried through and out of Washington, then back and out again, and at the third
attempt, like an unwelcome guest repeatedly re-entering swing-doors from which he has been
thrown, contrived to turn quickly into a parking-lot with one vacant place. Then, blessing the three
Rs, I set out afoot to unravel the lettered or numbered streets and find a particular conjunction.
Arrived, breathless, I fell into a seat and ordered a coffee. A pleasant young man at once appeared
and asked if I would try a camel. While I still wondered how one could help me, in Washington, he
handed me a packet, said ‘It’s a mild smoke, sir’, and vanished.
These initial encounters with American cities are major experiences. The traveller’s feeling of
hopeless homelessness changes to triumph when he succeeds in dodging the hooting pursuers,
doubling up and down side streets, sighting a lodging, and being accepted. It deepens into a
fugitive’s misery when he enters a crowded convention city at dusk, is whirled along by a
Mississippi of motor cars, and finds any door he can reach closed against him.
From this furious chase I took brief, happy refuge in Washington. Standing, like Belgrade, where
two rivers meet, it is of the world’s fine cities, and plainly a cousin of the European ones. Here the
era of the Colonies merged, without violent change, into that of the Republic just as the Corinthian
columns grew on to the Southern mansions. These splendid white buildings and memorials descend
from Greece and Rome, like those of Munich. The formal gardens and vistas speak of
Fontainebleau and Versailles. Likewise, the surrounding countryside, and Washington’s house
there, reflect the firm dignity of domestic architecture in seventeenth-century England. In
Washington the symbols of the Republic’s unexampled rise run to and from each other across
shining river and green parkland in a straight line, itself symbolic: the Capitol, Washington’s
obelisk, Lincoln’s temple, Lee’s house. With them the straight line fades into an enigmatic future. If
it is to be prolonged to the tombstone building in New York, that is a sharp turn to the left and a
leap into obscurity.
Of Athens, Cicero said that its glories in stone delighted him less than the thought of the great men
who lived, worked, debated, disputed, died and were buried there. In Washington the feeling of a
group of great men, Washington, Jefferson, Lee and Lincoln, is tangible and the buildings express
their quality. The question mark at the end of them is equally palpable. Great presidents may make
a great republic, but what happens if the noble breed gives out? The four-yearly election is not
merely that of a prime minister, but of a head of State. Henry Adams thought ‘the succession of
Presidents from Washington to Grant is almost enough in itself to upset the whole Darwinian
theory’ and Mr. Albert Jay Nock in 1943 added: ‘Had Adams lived to see the succession extended
to the present time he would perhaps say it was quite enough.’ Mr. Nock did not see the events of
1944-50; he died calling himself A Superfluous Man in an American era which alarmed him.
Despite the still living echo of Northern armies tramping along Pennsylvania Avenue to crush the
South, Washington remains a Southern city; the memory of great Southerners and their works fills
it. It owes much of its beauty to the original plan, which was the child of L’Enfant, a French
military engineer. Urbane charm often grows better in towns laid out for defence than in those
conceived on draught-boards by civic planners. L’Enfant designed long, broad boulevards, similar
to those of Haussmann, which intersected each other at circular junctions; from these round-points
the military could mow down invaders or rioters from all directions.
Time plays its pranks. The result is a delightful place to live but one indefensible against today’s
infiltrators, who may arrive at Capitols and government departments, in Washington or
Westminster, by limousine, and be saluted by janitors as they enter. L’Enfant’s roundabouts today
impede only the American motorist, and tunnels are being made beneath them so that he may gain
the world a few seconds quicker. The beauty of Washington cannot be impaired in its basic quality,
but is much blurred or masked by the enormous mass of traffic, moving and standing. I could see
no final answer to the parking problem, unless by some new device of claws or grappling hooks,
cars become enabled to scale tall houses and hang themselves from the window-sills.
The human scene of the city, at this mid-century, was not congruous to the classic dignity of its
inanimate shape. The effort to dethrone Washington, with all other national capitals, in favour of
the super-national committee in New York gave the tone to life in it and all the political intrigues of
the world seemed to have moved into it. Congress, when I looked down on it, was a pleasant place,
but in its lobbies prowled the ‘fixers’ and priority-pedlars, who courted politically influential men
with flattery and gifts, usually small. In Washington, as in London, committees inquired into such
practices and, again in both capitals, missed the important point, which was not that of petty
venality or of ‘priority’ gained for ‘a project’ of the fixer’s friends. Politicians, once caught in such
toils, may later find themselves under pressures, then less easily resisted, in major affairs of State,
especially foreign ones. The political affiliations of well-known ‘fixers’, in Washington and
London, might be instructive if they were more publicly known, but this aspect of the matter is
never examined by the commissions which, in both capitals, are periodically charged to investigate
the evil.
Congressmen and Senators seemed unaware of the fish that might be fried at barbecues and
cocktail parties given for them by newcomers to the capital. Political Zionists, Communists, Irish
Republicans and others wooed the powerful by flattery or covert intimidation. At the top level
Political Zionism looked like a ruling power; to express doubt about its undertakings was like
confessing heresy before an inquisition. Beneath the surface, the Communists rose by permeation
to ever higher levels. Always denying their real allegiance, they had in twelve years come to infest
the capital. Partial disclosures were recurrently made of this fermenting mass at the Republic’s
centre and each time some master hand pulled down a blind between the matter and the public
gaze. Washington was become rather like the medieval courts of Naples, on a greater scale. I later
learned, from one of these fragmentary exposures, that a drugstore where I sometimes drank coffee
was a clearing-centre between Washington’s Communists and Moscow, where papers purloined
from official files were handled.
This corrosive influence displayed itself in curious ways, alien to the Christian principles on which
the Republic was founded. In a busy street I saw a large covered vehicle from which a loud,
mechanical voice invited all to ‘come in and see Goering’s treasures’, and as admission-fee to make
a donation to the United States Marine Corps League. The United States Marines (like the Royal
Marines) are an elite corps of the highest tradition, whose recruiting posters say:
First to fight for right and glory
And to keep our honour clean,
We are proud to bear the title
Of United States Marines.
They may have had little to do with this exhibition, which redounded to nobody’s honour. The truck
contained wedding-gifts (presumably looted) made to Goering when he married his second wife,
the actress Emmy Sonnemann, in Berlin about 1934: a silver dinner-set from Hitler, a silver
inkstand from the City of Berlin, a vanity-set from the German Air Force and so on. The
mechanical voice roared into the streets of Washington that this or that gift was made to Goering on
his wedding-night ‘by his mistress, Karin’. Karin Goering married him just after the first war, when
he was a penniless and out-of-work young ex-officer, and died long before Hitler even came to
power. This was the first word I ever heard uttered against a woman twenty years dead; the owner
of the mechanical voice apparently knew and cared nothing about the facts of Goering’s life.
Washington was filled with a kind of whispered, muttered tumult, that of the world’s conflicting
political ambitions, nearly all pursued behind the cloak of other purposes. In this conspiratorial
hubbub a quiet spot held me most absorbed. I liked to eat in a restaurant facing Ford’s Theatre,
where Lincoln was murdered. From my table I looked across at the door through which he was
carried, to a house adjoining the restaurant, where he died. I went into the theatre and saw the door
of the box in which he was shot. I began to study the event itself and soon felt again like a man who
finds unexpectedly familiar things in an old tomb. This was not something that merely happened
seventy-five years ago, but part of something that continued today. I drove to the Anacostia Bridge,
over which the murderer fled, and followed the line of his flight to the Potomac River. Then I read
the accounts of the crime and the evidence.
Here was something I recognized …
*** Chapter Five
OF MURDER AND MOTIVE
… This mystery has four chief parts: the man, the moment, the murderers and the motive.
The man, like the victims of other comparable crimes, was a unifier and reconciler. He fought the
South to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery: ‘My paramount object is not to save or destroy
slavery … If all earthly powers were given me I should not know what to do with the existing
institution’ (of slavery). Though he unwillingly issued the slave-freeing Proclamation he never
departed in conviction from the original, declared aim of the war: ‘It is not for any purpose … of
interfering with the rights or established institutions of the Secession States but to preserve the
Union with all the dignity, equality and rights of the several States unimpaired.’ He intended to
defeat only the claimed right to secede;[1] then to restore the Union and leave the legal institution of
slavery to be gradually modified into abolition by judicial courts.
In that policy the Leftist Republicans around him saw the danger of the conservative Democrats
returning to power. They introduced the false issue of slavery into the war to perpetuate the
Republican Party in power by taking the vote from the Southern States and the Southern whites and
giving it to the negroes, of whom not one in a hundred could then read. (Similarly the aims of the
Second World War, when it was half run, were changed from the liberation of countries overrun
and the restoration of parliamentary governments to ‘the defeat of Fascism’, which meant their re-
surrender to Soviet Communism.)
Lincoln’s Republican Party contained the mass of Leftists, who were near to dominating it. Lincoln
knew that they raised the bogus issue to inflame passions and prolong the war; his own Secretary of
War, Edwin Stanton (who with Thaddeus Stevens headed this group), said so: ‘The great aim of the
war is to abolish slavery. To end the war before the nation is ready for that would be a failure. The
war must be prolonged and conducted so as to achieve that.’ (The Second World War was similarly
prolonged, through wasteful detours, to achieve ‘the defeat of Fascism’, but not the original aim.)
Lincoln was an obstacle to the forces of destruction in his own party.
Such was the man. The moment of his murder was that at which he was about to fulfil his policy of
reconciliation and accomplish the declared aim of the war. Two days before Lee at last surrendered
and Washington was lit up. At the very moment Lincoln’s emissary, General Sherman, was
negotiating with the Southern leaders a truce following Lincoln’s constant line: no confiscation or
political disablement, recognition of the Southern States governments if they took the oath to the
Constitution, reunion, conciliation. (That was as if President Roosevelt, at Yalta, had upheld the
war aims originally understood by the Western peoples, instead of surrendering half of Europe to a
regime resembling that endured by the South after Lincoln’s death.) At Lincoln’s last cabinet
meeting, on the day he was killed, he said he was glad Congress was adjourned; the extremists in it
would not he able to hinder the work of reviving State governments in orderly fashion. ‘There must
be no bloody work’, he would have no part in hangings or killings; the task was ‘to extinguish
resentments’.
At that moment the man was killed. In the choice of time and victim the crime startlingly resembles
four others, which also struck down unifiers and conciliators just when they seemed likely to
impede the process of universal revolutionary destruction. Alexander II of Russia emancipated
twenty million serfs in 1861 and pursued his work of reconciliation until he was murdered in 1881;
of that crime Soviet Communism and Political Zionism were born. In 1913 the Archduke was
killed at Serajevo; he had the reputation of a unifier and conciliator who might have saved the
Austro-Hungarian Empire from war and disintegration, had he lived. In 1934 Alexander of
Yugoslavia was killed at Marseilles; he was a unifier who could not have been turned from his
throne by an ally, as his little-known eighteen-year-old son Peter was in effect in 1945 by Mr.
Churchill, and a Communist dictator set in his place. In 1948 Count Bernadotte was murdered as he
completed a plan of truce and pacification in Palestine.
Each of these events changed the course of history for the worse. Together with the wars and
annexations to which they led and the revolutionary movements which profited by them, they
produced the state of affairs with which the Western world finds itself faced at this mid-century. In
each case the men marked for death were ones who stood for reconciliation, unity, orderly judicial
reforms and ‘the extinguishing of resentments’, as Lincoln said. In each instance (save that of Count
Bernadotte, where no pretence of justice was done), nondescript individuals were publicly
presented as the culprits. On each occasion a powerful organization obviously stood behind those
puppets and each time all was done to prevent its exposure.
None can doubt today that Lincoln was removed to prevent the reconciliation of North and South
and the consolidation of the Union. Though the wound did seem later to heal, the events of today
show it still to be raw, so that the conspirators’ aim of 1865 cannot yet be said, in 1950, to have
failed. Time has yet to show this result, with all others.
The culprits displayed to the populace were the usual group of obscure individuals, who clearly
could not have carried out the deed unaided. Lincoln’s killer, the actor John Wilkes Booth, escaped
for a while. A benchful of generals promptly executed one Lewis Paine,[2] a youth called David
Herold who accompanied Booth in his flight, a mysterious German, George Atzerodt, and a woman
boarding-housekeeper, Mrs. Suratt. Pending trial, the prisoners were kept in solitary cells, with
empty cells on either side, and made to wear thick padded hoods, with small holes for nose and
mouth, over head and shoulders. The only plausible explanation is that communication with any
other person whatsoever was to be prevented. These four, and four men sent to a remote island, all
knew Booth and his associates. Men who helped him escape, but did not know him before, were not
even charged.
That looks as if the capital offence was to be in possession of information about Booth’s
movements and acquaintances in Washington. For that the State prosecutor seems to have
demanded death and the four men sent to an island only escaped it because the generals shied at
wholesale hangings without evidence of complicity. Studying this aspect of the matter, I recalled
van der Lubbe, the vagrant found in the burning Reichstag. I believe he was kept drugged during
his trial and until his beheading; he alone could have said who put him in the Reichstag. The
demeanour of Rudolf Hess, at the Nuremberg Trial, was similar to that of van der Lubbe; none but
he could publicly explain the wartime mission on which he was sent to England.
The circumstances of Lincoln’s murder speak for themselves. Booth fired the shot into his neck as
he watched the play. The door of the box was unlocked, but on the inner side of it someone had
placed a wooden bar and a mortice, so that Booth could ensure that none entered it after himself !
At the door should have been Lincoln’s armed bodyguard, a Washington policeman, recently
enlisted, called John F. Parker. Only his empty chair was there and no word survives in the records
to say why he was not in it ! This collapse of protective vigilance was a feature of the Serajevo,
Marseilles and Jerusalem murders. President Lincoln’s danger was well known. That very afternoon
he asked his Secretary of War if Stanton’s stalwart aide, a Major Eckert, could accompany him to
the theatre for his protection. Stanton refused and Eckert, asked by the President himself, also
declined (on the next day Stanton telegraphed to General Sherman that he too was in danger ‘and I
beseech you to be more heedful than Mr. Lincoln was of such knowledge’).
The missing bodyguard, Parker, was appointed less than a fortnight before the murder, during
Lincoln’s absence from Washington, so that the usual presidential confirmation of his appointment
was never obtained. In three years service serious complaints of ‘neglect of duty’ were several times
made against him and in April 1864 he was dismissed. In December 1864 he was reinstated and in
April 1865, immediately before the deed, allotted to the President’s personal protection ! After the
murder he was again charged with ‘neglect of duty’; the trial was secret, the complaint was
dismissed and the records of the hearing have vanished from the files. Three years later he was
once again charged with dereliction, dismissed, and at that point vanishes from history !
Thus Booth walked into an unguarded box, shot the President, jumped on to the stage, ran through
unguarded wings to the back door, jumped on a waiting horse and rode away. He caught his
spurred boot on some bunting as he jumped, fell awkwardly and broke a small bone in his leg.
This alone seems to have prevented him from getting clean away. He rode across the Anacostia
bridge and along the well-known route to Virginia which the Southerners, throughout the war, used
for spies and communications with the North. Behind him galloping cavalrymen were sent to scour
the country, north and west, which he obviously would avoid. This one southward route, which a
flying Southerner would clearly take, was left open long enough for him to escape. His
unforeseeable injury prevented that; unable to go on the actor went into hiding.
If his escape was desired, this naturally threw up a new problem. After a few days his whereabouts
became known and the chase was converging on him when the military Provost Marshal, who led
it, was suddenly recalled to Washington and the pursuit entrusted to the head of the secret service,
one Colonel Lafayette C. Baker. He was given ‘twenty-six cavalrymen’ commanded by ‘a reliable
and discreet commissioned officer’, Lieutenant Doherty. This officer, however, was placed under
the orders of two of Colonel Baker’s detectives, his cousin, ex-Lieutenant Luther B. Baker, and an
ex-Colonel Conger, who ‘by courtesy was conceded the command’. Whose courtesy is not recorded,
though Lieutenant Doherty’s chagrin is. This force eventually surrounded the barn where Booth lay
hidden, with strict orders to take him alive. Of the twenty-nine men none could clearly say later
who fired the shot which killed him. Baker thought Conger did; Conger denied it.
Clearly Booth would have escaped but for his damaged foot. With his death none remained who
could tell the whole truth; those who knew most were quickly hanged or exiled.
Thus the man, the moment, and the apparent murderers. The motive today seems as clear as the
organization behind it remained, and remains, obscure. It was to remove Lincoln because he was an
obstacle to the destruction of the South. The student from afar, who finds Lincoln honoured equally
with Washington, on deeper study learns how lonely he was when he died. To the collapsing South
he was the destroyer; to the North he was the enemy of further destruction. Today’s traveller may
perceive a great flaw in the array of memorials erected to Lincoln in his country. Suggestively, they
commemorate his [ed: him ?] as the slayer of slavery, first and foremost. It is the continuation of a
falsehood; that was not his primary aim, he was against violent demagogic actions, preferred
judicial gradualness, and had at heart only the unity of the Union. Thus his memory is misused
today in the further pursuit of ulterior schemes; the false issue, the falsity of which he saw, is raised
in his name and his words and monuments are presented as its also.
In the South the news was received as a last unaccountable blow of destiny. In the North different
feelings were expressed. Clerics, frequently thirsty for a vengeance claimed by God, avowed that
the deed must be a divine act, albeit mysteriously performed. A Republican Congressman, Mr.
George Julian, later recalled that his party met the day after the murder ‘to consider a line of policy
less conciliatory than that of Mr. Lincoln’; while everybody was shocked the feeling of the meeting
was overwhelmingly that the accession of a new President ‘would prove a Godsend to the country’.
Mr. Truslow Adams’s Epic dismisses ‘the conspiracy of a handful, led by a half-madman, which
destroyed the one man who stood between his country and the powers of evil and plunged us all
into a sea of infamy and misery’. The description of the deed and its effects is accurate, but the
theory of the recurrent madman grows thin. Coincidence did not drop Gavrile Princep at the spot
where he could kill the Archduke, Vlada the Chauffeur into a Marseilles street as King Alexander
went by, and the deadbeat van der Lubbe into the Reichstag (I saw him and his trial and can vouch
for that). Even if coincidence’s arm were so long, it could not always reach to the suppression of
inquiry in these cases.
This is a chapter by itself in our times, and in my opinion the most important. I remember how
governments combined, at the League of Nations in 1935, to shelve the inquiry into the complicity
of other governments in the murder of King Alexander. The same thing happened in the case of
Count Bernadotte; the United Nations dropped the matter of its own emissary’s murder as if it were
a hot coal. The truth is not, as American writers put it, that ‘history shrinks’ from exposing these
things. Politicians recurrently cover them up and conceal the continuing process. The study of
Lincoln’s murder did more than anything hitherto to convince me that it is a continuing process,
with an enduring organization behind it. It shares identical and recognizable features with the later
series of murders, which all led to the spread of the area of destruction. These conspiracies cannot
he improvised; obviously the experience of generations, or centuries, lies in the choice of moment,
method, line of retreat and concealment. The little folk who are trotted out after each such deed
may be ‘the handful’, but the hand is never seen. Particularly in this matter of covering-up is
Lincoln’s murder of present-day significance in America. The same resolute and efficient methods
are used to defeat public curiosity about Communist infiltration into government departments, the
public services and high places. In America (and for that matter in England and Canada), a cat
sometimes slips out of the bag, a Dr. May, a Dr. Fuchs, a Mr. Alger Hiss. But then the bag is tied
more tightly than before, and the public mind forgets.
Booth was not a madman. He kept a diary and the entries he made while he lay hidden show a sane
man, even though pages were apparently removed before its existence became known, two years
after it was taken from his body ! He wrote among other things, ‘I have almost a mind to return to
Washington and in a measure clear my name, which I feel I can do’ (the anonymous bullet
effectively prevented his return to Washington). A Congressman asked, ‘How clear himself ? By
disclosing his accomplices ?’ A parliamentary commission also set about to find who were the
persons ‘many of them holding high positions of power and authority … who acted through inferior
persons who were their tools and accomplices’. Nothing much came of that in 1865, or of similar
efforts in 1950.
Among high persons of that time the eye of today’s curiosity falls chiefly on Edwin Stanton. As
Secretary of War in a country at war he was almost supremely powerful. All communications were
under his personal censorship. All acts tending to deflect Booth’s pursuit, or after Booth’s death to
obscure the trail, seem trace-able to him and the Leftists around him. Within a few hours of the
murder he wrote to the American Minister in London of ‘evidence obtained’ to show that the
murder was ‘deliberately planned and set on foot by rebels, under pretence of avenging the South’.
Just so did Goering claim to have proof that Communists fired the Reichstag, while it still burned.
Stanton may have pictured himself as dictator; he nearly achieved such status in the sequel of
events. He forced through Congress a Reconstruction Bill to dissolve the Southern States and
degrade them to military districts, and a Tenure of Office Bill framed to deprive the new President
of the constitutional power to dismiss himself, Stanton. When President Johnson did dismiss him he
refused to resign and only failed by one Senator’s vote to secure the President’s impeachment.
Andrew Johnson proved a stauncher man than the Leftists expected when he succeeded Lincoln.
Among the most arresting questions of American history is, what would have ensued had Johnson’s
impeachment succeeded by one vote, not failed. Since President Roosevelt revived the political
issues of Reconstruction days the conundrum has gained new and current interest.
Sitting at my restaurant window I pictured Booth riding away from Ford’s Theatre. ‘There you go,’ I
thought, ‘Wilkes Booth, Gavrile Princep, Marinus van der Lubbe, Vlada the Chauffeur: whatever
your name, your unimportant shape is clear, but the darkness around you hides your masters …’
*** Chapter Six
STRICKEN FIELD
Early rising is proverbially profitable and to this habit I owe the sight of a man who came out of
Blair House one morning and strode briskly towards Fourteenth Street. While I would not turn a
corner merely to ’see’ either Naples or Napoleon, I have always welcomed accidental encounters
with notable men in the flesh. It adds another dimension to the subjects about which I write. Having
seen most of the leading figures of our time, I have a kind of collector’s interest for such glimpses; I
do not go out of my way to increase the collection but contentedly add to it when chance insists.
This was such an occasion; not every day, even in these times, can you see a man who took on
himself the burden of ordering the death by atom bomb of some scores of thousands of civilians.
Therefore I looked with much interest at this other early riser. The White House was falling down
and being shored up for repair, so that he used Blair House for a time. He was of medium build,
energetic, and when saluted by those he met responded with the beaming smile which party-
managers like prominent party-men to wear; they believe it to reassure the populace about the state
of the world. The weight of his formidable decision seemed to lie lightly on him. American
newspapers said that the four years following it had left him ‘four pounds heavier and a good deal
more confident’. They added, however, that the decision ‘was still on his mind’, and he himself,
about that time, said at a social gathering, ‘I had to make that decision on the basis of the welfare of
not only this country but of our enemy country. And I made that decision because I thought 200
thousand of our young men and some 300 or 400 thousands of the enemy would be saved … Now I
believe that we are in a position where we will never have to make that decision again, but if it has
to be made for the welfare of the United States, and the democracies of the world are at stake, I
wouldn’t hesitate to make it again.’
I thought, four years later, that the area of what might by any stretch be called democracy was
much diminished in the sequel to that event. The argument seemed dubious, but the tone of the
words was arresting. American presidents seemed truly much more confident than in a day when
one, Thomas Jefferson, said, ‘I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just’. So much
faith appeared nowadays to be invested in the personal pronoun, the leanest letter of the alphabet,
where it stands like a weak sapling among robuster growths.
The day after I saw the confident man I drove out of Washington, with regret, on my further way. I
crossed a river and saw people waiting for a great river-steamer, with tall chimney and many,
windowed decks, that moved towards them. It was called the Robert E. Lee, and I found myself
humming, ‘Waiting on the levee, waiting for the Robert E. Lee’. A little later I ran into Maryland.
‘Maryland, my Maryland,’ I thought, and suddenly realized how much Englishmen of my age have
grown up with songs of the American South. They accompanied me all the way from Mobile, and
made me think of leave from the trenches and shows in London, for I was of the generation that
first began to sing of coal-black mammy down in Alabamy, of peaches down in Georgia, of
Carolina where nuthn’ could be finer, of Virginia and the loveliness that’s in yer. This was a musical
ride back through my own lifetime, and I wondered how these Southern songs, with their negro
rhythm and their attendant, jungle-born dances, gained such appeal for the youthful British mind.
Mainly it was the result of the mass-production of songs in New York during this century and their
dissemination through paid ’song-plugging’. However, the original appeal of primitive folk to ones
less primitive was genuine.
I made a detour in order to visit Gettysburg, a hallowed place where a gentle peace intervenes in
the hurried American scene. It must be unique, this battlefield stricken, as it were, at the combat’s
height. Breast-works and gunpits remain; every gun is in place; homestead walls show bullet holes;
the famous peach orchard has been replanted as it was in 1863 and bloomed before me in Arcadian
tranquillity. Nothing but the soldiers and the din are absent, and eight hundred memorials mark the
position of every company, troop, battalion, brigade, division and corps.
I looked down on the scene of Pickett’s charge from Cemetery Ridge, where the Southern tide
reached its high-water mark and then fell back. The unanswerable questions of history! What if
Blucher had not come in time; if the sea had not been calm at Dunkirk; if the South had won at
Gettysburg? The South would not then have won the war, for the Southern leaders never expected
to and only fought because they felt they must; but there might have been an earlier and better
peace, with all that would have meant for today. Instead the war was prolonged, the false issue
inserted, and the Leftists at Washington were enabled to pursue their aim of exterminating and
depopulating the South, almost to success. The Civil War was America’s real revolutionary war, not
the one Washington fought. When brother fought brother at Gettysburg, and father even son, they
comprehended nothing of the destructive conspiracy in Washington.
I went on through Lancaster and York, ever nearer to the central throng and tumult of America, and
felt more and more the awesome, almost distressful energy of the land. The mind can hardly picture
an immense further multiplication of the road-traffic and when it asks whither that road finally
leads, echo only answers ‘Where?’ The American devotion to machine-driven progress baulks at no
such imaginings, but drives on. Mountains, ravines and torrents are there to be tunnelled, surpassed,
by-passed or bridged, no matter what their size. This process, without an apparent spiritual goal,
alarms some, like the American-born poet, Mr. T. S. Eliot. Living in Chelsea rooms over those
once inhabited by an earlier fugitive who was filled with similar misgivings, Mr. Henry James, he
wrote:
… The rabbit shall burrow and the thorn revisit,
The nettle shall flourish on the gravel court,
And the wind shall say: ‘Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls …’
For Americans, however, the process is its own spiritual goal; God is in the machine. A different
view of it was offered by an Englishman of much American experience, Mr. Bertrand Russell: ‘In
America the hopefulness and enterprise that circumstances permit increase the success that is
achieved beyond what would be possible for men of a different temperament. Obstacles, it is felt,
exist to be overcome, and therefore they are overcome. All this is admirable. It existed in
Elizabethan England, and to a lesser degree in Victorian England. A little more of the American
spirit would do us far more good than any amount of austerity unrelieved by hope.’ That seems
reasonable, for austerity unrelieved by hope is also a road without a spiritual destination; between
the two might lie one with a goal.
These reflections are for poets and philosophers. The Americans in bulk do not delay with them but
drive with quickening materialistic gusto along the asphalt road. I thought, as I whirled over huge
bridges that bestrode wide rivers, ‘They do these things like shelling peanuts’. The Americans have
much enriched the English language. They picture a thing in two or three vivid words by reflecting
it in some dazzling glimpse of the American yesterday or today. ‘Shelling peanuts’ is perfect. ‘The
horse-and-buggy age’ and ‘climbing aboard the band wagon’ depict a whole era. ‘We must hang
together or we shall hang separately’ and ‘a necktie party’ put a matter in terms plain to any child
who ever read Zane Grey or saw a Western. ‘The calm confidence of a Christian with four aces’
sharply conveys truth through a sudden peep into a gambling-saloon. When the long-levered
gaming-machine is called ‘a one-armed bandit’ the last word has been said (not that it has been
heard, for Americans adore to hand cash to these. If they once feared the hold-up man, they love
this mechanical one, and in many parts well-advised sheriffs leave him alone).
Thinking on these things I found myself off to Philadelphia one morning, or at all events through it,
on my way to New York.
*** Chapter Seven
SPEED THE COMING GUEST
I felt myself within the aura of New York long before I saw it. Its effluence filled the air, which
contained a sense of quickening, nervous haste. The traffic thickened, and the specklessness of
town and countryside deteriorated a little; I saw more litter and lumber and even a few inferior
houses. Through it all ran the superb road, so marked that the traveller was drawn along as by
invisible strings. A child could find its way all over America; I only once went astray, through a
missing detour-sign.
It was like sleep-walking, and then sleep-sprinting. Ten miles away, at length, I saw the city’s
mountainous shape and the race began. I was drawn by the hypnotic force of the signs on to a
motor-road where all life ceased but that of the wheeled traveller. It led straight towards Manhattan,
the core of New York. Manhattan is an island, long and narrow from north to south, in a loop of
two rivers. It can only be reached by bridge or tunnel, or from the east by ocean liner.
I became a fly on a wheel. Signs commanded a low speed but the traffic moved at some forty miles
an hour and, tightly contained in it, I was carried along. Wayside notices forbade all further
stopping to think or looking before leaping. For the initiated exits offered, but not for me. The road
became a bridge, miles long. It did not merely span a river, though I fleetingly saw one or more
beneath; on huge stilts it strode over water, fields, houses, factories and sped the newcomer towards
Manhattan, while the concrete mountains loomed nearer. My ears were filled with an
unaccustomed noise, the unbroken whoosh-whoosh of wheels. I sought the Lincoln Tunnel, having
been told to use it, not the Holland Tunnel. Signs flashed by announcing the Holland Tunnel.
Suddenly, when I was nearly past it, one said ‘Lincoln Tunnel, turn left.’ A quick turn at forty miles
an hour, a dizzy roundabout, a run downhill, a brief pause to make payment at a turnstile, and I was
in the Lincoln Tunnel beneath the Hudson River.
It was about two miles long, but felt much longer. It seemed dark, though it was bathed in a ghostly
fluorescent lighting. The whooshing noise was amplified in this cylinder and speed seemed greater;
it was not low, at that, but I felt as if I hurtled to some whirling destiny, pursued by furies.
Placarded orders flashed by, and from a narrow platform policemen watched on their observance;
they looked like the saints of some strange religion as they stood in niches in the curved walls.
‘Unlawful to cross the line, said a sudden proclamation, immediately gone; I strained to keep my
side of the line of glittering, mesmeric metal knobs. ‘Stop at the red lights,’ said another; seeing
none, I assumed these appeared when some mishap piled up all the traffic in this vault. ‘Keep
intervals of 75 feet,’ abruptly ordered a third; in the mirror I guiltily saw a car treading on my heels
and accelerated to sixty to overtake the one in front, which was a quarter-mile ahead, fearing that
some unwitting transgression would bring out all the red lights and down on me, like dark avenging
angels, all those sentinels. Whoosh-whoosh went the scourging refrain of the tunnel; it stretched
ahead like the corridor of doom; dazed but dogged I gripped the wheel. Then the dark pin-point at
its end brightened and, like a mariner on a spar, I was thrown ashore, bruised and breathless, into
daylight and Manhattan.
A rare but fortunate impulse of caution led me to attempt this first invasion of Manhattan on
Sunday; had I emerged into an exitless stream of work-a-day traffic I should have had to circulate
until night fell or fuel failed. Now the streets were empty and I was able to seek a lodging. I found,
on a sixteenth floor, a small but astonishingly complete room, with cupboards that concealed a
cooker, pantry, refrigerator, bath and lavatory. Hunger then led me to an automatic restaurant. I
knew the Automat from Berlin, but this was a later model, where a hot-dish slot impersonally
presented me with macaroni-cheese and a hot-coffee slot aloofly poured me a cup, adding milk
from another tap just as I feared this was forgotten. I took these to a table where a man talked to
himself in Viennese German; he seemed filled with Weltschmerz and twice told himself not to talk
nonsense: ‘Red’n S’ do’ ka’ Unsinn.’
Feeling smaller and lonelier than ever before, I went out, always the busy worker, to look at New
York. Making the most of Sunday, I contemplated it afoot and awheel, from subway and elevated,
from the Brooklyn Bridge and from a Hudson River ferryboat. It is easy to unravel, for the short
and narrow east-west thoroughfares are called streets and are numbered and the long and broad
north-south ones are called avenues (save for one, called Broadway, which is narrower). Thus the
newest newcomer can at once find ‘Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Fifth East’, or any other conjunction.
I wandered with apprehensive curiosity through the empty canyons on this springtide Sunday, and
compared this marvel of the twentieth century with older ones of Europe and of America. Most of
all my mind’s eye compared it with Richmond and Washington, the capitals of the first and second
phases. This was the third tier in the edifice. The violent break in the tradition was plain even at
first sight. It looked rather like a pagan banner planted on a Christian rampart.
*** Chapter Eight
VIA COLOROSA
A distant glow at the end of a rather sombre street between dark, high walls led me that Sunday
evening, when I wanted a late breath of air, to Broadway. It was more than I expected. Checked by
the first impact, I blinked and then saw that the Great White Way was not white but multi-coloured,
and the dominant hue was red. Around me were more lights than I ever saw in one place, red,
green, yellow, orange, mauve and blue, all twinkling, coruscating, scintillating, revolving, jumping
and jerking. Had all human sound and movement suddenly ceased, the effect would still have been
that of pandemonium; there was even less room for one more bulb than in the tulip-fields of
Holland.
Among the lesser lights rose great setpieces of salesmanship-by-night. From a huge face, with O-
shaped mouth, came putts of smoke (to advertise a cigarette), that mingled with clouds of steam
from manholes in the roadway, below which I supposed the subway trains ran. A neon waterfall
played, fifty feet above the pavement. Above a beer-restaurant a train ran through Bavarian
mountains, eternally vanishing into and reappearing from Alpine tunnels. Two enormous nude
figures, a man and a woman, dazzlingly surmounted a clothing store; their meaning alone was
veiled. Between crammed and glittering shops, packed with buyers at this eleven o’clock of the
Christian Sabbath, surged thick, human masses. Loud-speakers blared, pin-tables rattled, barkers
hoarsely praised the girls within their dancehalls and night-clubs, a man without legs propelled
himself on a truck, playing a kind of hurdy-gurdy in this street of dollars and of dolours. Sirens
wailed as riot-car or ambulance screamed past, with warning red fights tumbling like a juggler’s
clubs. Confusedly I scribbled in my mind the song of the Innocent on Broadway:
A roseate, roaring, coruscating roadway
(and rather narrow, too; it isn’t broad).
I wonder, did they only call it Broadway
To obfuscate the innocent abroad? From manhole covers, steamy clouds ascending
(Are dragons down below, or demon’s fires?)
‘Walk in, walk in, and see The Happy Ending!’
(The screech of brakes on rims, and tortured tires). Polychromatic taxicabs a-honking,
(’Here’s Swingland, come on in, we’ve Lovely Girls!’)
Bright honky-tonks all brazenly a-tonking,
Kaleidoscopic lights, all whirls and twirls. Strident strains cacophonously clashing,
A legless beggar grinding out a tune,
The great white moon beholds a great red Fasching.
(’O mon amour, comme elle est blanche – la lune!’)
The change of pace, like one of altitude, is merely a matter of adjustment. The body and soul
quickly key themselves to the speed of life in New York. When I went to bed that first night the
attunement was not complete; my senses hurt, like the ears of an air traveller who quickly descends
from 10,000 feet to land. I could not sleep and lay listening to the sirens. I found in time that all
urgent public services in American cities carry these frenzied warnings; whether the call be one of
fire or sickness, burglary or riot, the missioners’ clamour is the same. It was like London during the
air-bombardment and, as I lay awake and read, I received a jolt of surprise from some words of
Mrs. Angela Thirkell’s latest novel:
‘Suddenly the air’ (of tranquil Barsetshire) ‘was rent by the hideous wail of a siren, rising and
falling, rising and falling. The war was long over … “The only Aubrey,” said Jessica, “he had that
siren fitted to his car to show Americans the horrors of war, but I think it’s stopped being funny.”‘
Aubrey was deluded. Far from showing Americans the horrors of war, his siren probably made
them homesick (for I do not imagine American sirens were copied from war-time London;
assuredly they were first in the field. They belong essentially to the pursuit strenuous and are the
tantivy of the machine age).
*** Chapter Nine
NEW BABYLON
I spent some time in New York at various visits and set down here my final feeling about it, not the
surface impression of a first encounter. Whatever it may be, it is unlike anything in America or the
world as far as I know them, save that a group of American cities, Chicago and Los Angeles chief
among them, and Johannesburg in South Africa are in their nature its satellites, while Tel Aviv, I
am told, visibly relates to it. If a new force is rising in the world, which aspires to transcend and
rule all nations, these cities may be its citadels.
Its chief characteristic is a nervous unease, palpably felt in an island where millions of people
pursue each other between tall buildings, each of which at morn and eve absorbs and releases the
population of a small European town. In midsummer the high walls make the streets steambaths
from which the citizen may only find refuge in an air-conditioned store; midwinter gales, hurtling
through them, may drive him to that same shelter, then warmed. New York is without repose. The
traffic moves at speed, for all the congestion, and furious clamour assails any driver who dares
pause. ‘The bus-drivers must collect fares and count takings while braking and accelerating between
the frequent stops and such tension arises between them and their passengers that one of them once
set his whole cargo on the street, then driving off empty to the garage with the remark that he had
wanted to do this for years. There are boulevards and bouleversements, but no boulevardiers; here
is no time for strollers. The New Yorkers themselves fear the strange thrall and their journals
mourn ‘the lost art of doing nothing’ and ‘the sad cult of going nowhere quickly’.
The outer world formerly thought of the average American as an unhurried, deliberate and
imperturbable being. Is today’s strained impatience a new thing, and is it now an American trait in
general, or a symptom of New York? Mr. Truslow Adam’s Epic attributes it to Americans in mass,
and even to pre-American Americans (the Red Indians), for he says, ‘For the most part the climate
throughout the continent seems to have been one which tended to produce a high nervous tension in
the living beings subjected to it, even the savages, not only from its sudden changes, but from some
quality which we do not know … The Red Indians’ nervous systems were unstable and they were of
a markedly hysterical make-up, peculiarly susceptible to suggestion.’
Mr. Jay Nock, who thought the haste aimless, wrote of his own New York boyhood in the ‘nineties,
‘Our people had resources in themselves which enabled them to get on with few mechanical aids to
amusement’. He quoted Edison’s words, ‘I am not acquainted with anyone who is happy’, and
Stendhal’s, ‘The springs of happiness seem to have dried up’. Once I stood in Fifth Avenue with a
well-known American writer much hounded for his opinions. He watched the throng with
apprehensive interest and said, ‘No people in history were ever clothed or fed like these. But where
are they going, and why are they so unhappy?’
The tortured unease of New York seemed to me a separate thing, distinct from any native ‘nervous
tension’, born of climate and geography, which may inhabit the mass of Americans. So many folk
are squeezed into the central island, all hastening, in the steambath or the wind-tunnel, as if from
some pursuant fate. The galley-slaves used to call for the lash, when the uttermost was demanded
of them; so do New Yorkers seem to scourge themselves. The reasons why ‘Manhattan had to be
that way’ are oft proclaimed; because the island was small the buildings had to be tall, and so on.
Anyway, it is that way, and is as different from Richmond and Washington as cloudy from clear;
here the shape of things American was abruptly changed.
It is in effect the city of the later immigration, which followed the Civil War. While the landings,
the settlements, the War of Independence and the conquest of the wilderness went on the
population remained homogeneous; it was predominantly of British, German and Scandinavian
stock, continually renewed, which merged smoothly into the ‘American’ whom the world then
knew. When all those clearances were finished the new and different immigration began, from
Eastern and Southern Europe, which today (as the reviewer remarked) claims to take over the
future. ‘Between 1860 and 1880,’ (says the Epic) ‘less than 250,000 Eastern and Southern
Europeans came to us; between 1890 and 1910 they numbered over 8,000,000 … These people
were much more ‘foreign’ in their background and outlook than those who had come previously,
and less easily assimilable to our social life and institutions … They kept themselves from the desire
to assimilate themselves to American social life, to learn English and to adapt themselves to
American ways. They thought adaptation should come from the reverse direction and with much
success pursued that belief.’ ‘Before 1882′ (says The American People), ‘most of the immigrants
were from Germany, the British isles and the Scandinavian peninsula; after 1882 they came from
Southern and Eastern Europe … By 1900 one-third of all white people in the country were either
themselves foreign-born or had parents one or both of whom were foreigners.’
New York today is the monument to that sudden change in the American course. It is the city of the
later corners, whose resolve to remain apart may have been obscured by a misleading phrase, ‘The
Melting Pot’. The new immigration did not melt into the mass and this mid-century has shown that
it aspires to rule America and the world, through American strength. It set out to make New York a
state within the State, and then a super-State; the United Nations building is the signpost of that
ambition. The charter of this new, transcendent body omitted the name of God, as its flag, if all
nations submitted to fly it, would banish the cross from any national banners that still display it.
That was logical, for in such a universal directorate the Christian peoples would be far
outnumbered and reduced to correspondingly inferior status. In this body the long American trail
might find a strange end.
From these things springs the peculiar feeling of New York. Soil and climate may generate a
‘nervous tension’ in Texas and Oregon as well as Brooklyn and the Bronx, yet the ‘nervous tension’
of New York is different. It is in its temper and passion recognizably Asiatic or Eurasian to any
man who knows those parts. New York was once New Amsterdam, the foreordained capital of the
New Netherlands. It became New York, pendant to New England. Today it may be New Minsk,
New Pinsk or even New Naples; it is distinctly not New York or New Amsterdam. Mr. John
Gunther quoted a friend ‘who always says that Manhattan is like Constantinople … He means not
merely the trite fact that New York is polyglot, but that it is full of people, like the Levantines, who
are interested basically in only two things, living well and making money.’
The words where opinions differ are ‘living well’. The new masses changed New York from a place
where ‘there were values other than the beastly rent values’ to one where ‘there are no reasons but of
dollars’, as Henry James, returned to New York in middle age, wrote when he looked back on his
New York youth. The New Yorkers I knew did not feel they lived well, save in material things not
conclusively material. They lived to get out of New York, and that was a criticism. Its thrall was
all-possessing while they were in it; it is without quiet backwaters, secluded places and the rustic
corners which seem essential to urbanity. Its people eat well but often in discomfort; the stool,
food-machine and self-service counter make for speed but not for content. They may drink what
they please, without the bans and adulterations of other lands, and in doing so sit in rows in a dim
light, all gazing one way; they seem to await some coming but in fact watch the television screen.
Eating and drinking can hardly count among the day’s amenities in New York now. Once, with an
American friend, I went to the Pierpoint Morgan Library, a quiet corner in the tumult where early
printed books were on display. From the open page of a very early one, John Lydgate’s The Horse,
the Sheep and the Goose, printed by William Caxton in 1477, words sprang out at us. ‘Atte thy
mele be glad in contenance. In mete and drynke be thou mesurable. Beware of surfite and
misgovernance. They cause men oft to be Unresonable. Suffre nothing be said at thy table that ony
may hurte or displese.’
‘Sound rules for living well,’ I said. ‘Not in New York,’ he said, ‘we must have slipped back a long
way if those standards were generally accepted in 1477.’ ‘They weren’t,’ I said, ‘but the idea of a
standard was accepted, if not the standard itself’ ‘The only standard here is that of the quick-lunch
counter,’ he said, ’sit, eat, pay, git. I guess the guy was right who said American society is the only
one which has passed directly from barbarism into decadence without once knowing civilization.’
‘Who said it?’ I asked. ‘Some Frenchman,’ he said. ‘It sounded smoothly Gallic,’ l said, ’sparkling but
paste. It might fit New York. It isn’t true of America. A clear line of civilization shows in the South’
(and later, after travelling farther, I would have added ‘and New England’), ‘New York seems to be
a bogus façade, subsequently imposed.’
Here and there, in this city of mountains and canyons, were remains of that earlier period so plainly
to be seen north and south of it. They needed search, the pleasant streets in the East Fifties, the
Little Church Round The Corner, Gramercy Square, Wanamaker’s Store left downtown by the
uptown tide, the Battery, a few nooks and corners by the East River. Each time I found such relics I
had a mental picture of the city that might have been. It is a vision that haunted Henry James. His
last story, The Jolly Corner, shows an American expatriate (obviously himself) returning to the old
New York house of his boyhood and finding it haunted by the ghost of the self he would have
become, had he remained in America. The spectre reveals a face ‘evil, odious, blatant, vulgar’, from
which he recoils.
Henry James’s whole life was shaped by a prescient fear of what was coming over America, and it
drove him to take his body abroad, though not his heart. But for an injury he would have fought for
the North against the South, like his brothers; nevertheless some revelation disclosed to him the
changed shape which that war was to give his country and some of his novels seem to me
allegorical treatments of this theme. The corrupted characters (usually Americans, as are the
innocent ones) impart a sinister feeling of possession by an evil spirit; the later New York made
that same effect on him, whereas his boyhood memories of it were filled with grace, charm and
happiness. He wrote with more foreknowledge than knowledge and New York today is the full
reality of his presentiment.
It is polyglot, but one of its breeds is paramount. ‘New York is a Jewish city’ (wrote the Zionist
Record of Johannesburg), ‘when you have got over the first terrific impact which New York makes
on you, you wake up to discover that New York is a Jewish city.’ That is true and to my mind is the
secret of New York’s especial tension; it is that of Jewry in ferment. Any man who knew the Jewish
quarters of Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Budapest in this age of Political Zionism
recognizes the condition, and it is tauter and more vibrant in New York than it ever was anywhere.
It has more Jews than any city in the world and is the stronghold of Political Zionism, which now
grasps all of Jewry, Zionist and anti-Zionist, as firmly as the Nazis held all Germans and the
Communists hold all Russians.
The unease which this causes among Jews would alone be enough to fill it with unrest. It stirs them,
for or against, to the depths of their natures, for they (if not the Gentiles) know what it portends:
that though the world has made peace with the Jews the Jews refuse to make their peace with the
world (as Mr. Shaw, by report, once said). They are anew to be torn between the teaching of
Jeremiah, ‘Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive’, and that
of the nameless psalmist, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’
If Mr. Shaw did use those words, however, they were wrong; not ‘the Jews’ but Political Zionism
refuses peace and scourges Jewry towards new wanderings. From New York the Political Zionists
persist, so far with success, that the American Republic must hitch its wagon to the star of David.
The same claim has been made with success in England, but the strength of America is apparently
considered decisive for the final ambitions; the expansion of the Zionist State and the setting-up of
a world one. This seems to me the chief cause for the uncanny sense of a sinister destiny which
overhangs the nervous tumult of New York. I met many Americans, including native New Yorkers,
and foreigners who felt it. Mr. Priestley (who would presumably not agree about its cause)
described the condition in words which fit my own sensations:
‘… I would be visited, after the first enchantment of landing in New York had vanished, by a
growing feeling of spiritual desolation. … In this mood, which has never missed me yet in New
York, I feel a strange apprehension, unknown to me in any other place. The city assumes a queer,
menacing aspect, not only to me, I feel, but to all the people I know there … When Americans say
that New York does not represent America, they are leaving much unsaid … My deep uneasiness
remains, grows, even accompanying me into the houses of friends there, calm, smiling, hospitable
friends. Outside those houses, it begins to take on a nightmare quality. I feel like a midget character
moving in an early scene of some immense tragedy, as if I had had a glimpse in some dream, years
ago, of the final desolation of this city, of seabirds mewing and nesting in these ruined avenues.
Familiar figures of the streets begin to move in some dance of death. That barker outside the
Broadway burlesque show, whose voice has almost rusted away from inviting you day and night to
step inside and see the girls, now seems a sad demon croaking in hell. The traffic’s din sounds like
the drums in the March to the Gallows of a Symphonie Fantastique infinitely greater, wilder, more
despairing than Berlioz’s. Yes, this is all very fanciful, of course, the literary mind playing with
images; yet the mood behind it, that feeling of spiritual desolation, that deepening despair, are real
enough. And nowhere else in America do I catch a glimpse of this Doomsday Eve. Only New York
does that to me … Has something been seen, some faint glimmer of writing on one of these walls,
some echo of the voice that was suddenly heard, pronouncing judgment, at Babel?’ (Midnight on
the Desert.)
So it is, precisely. It is what I and many whom I know feel. It is the same spectre that Henry James
saw. I often went by day and night to look at this astonishing city from the Staten Island ferryboat.
The ferryboats offer the one easy way of brief withdrawal from a town where the only other form
of relaxation is the seventh-inning-stretch (also, I heard cricket was played somewhere in Staten
island and wanted to see so strange an affair, but I never found it). My chief reason was that New
York can only be seen as a whole from the ferryboats. When you are deep in the canyons it is
incomprehensible; when you look at its shape from afar you may hope to find a meaning. Also, the
excursion is pleasant. It still costs but five cents, and hardly anything at that price is now offered in
the five-cent store. You may see the Queen Mary, coming in or going out, and refresh your spirit in
the ocean breeze. You pass the Statue of Liberty, with the curious lines on its base:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore …
The goddess wears a strange, spiked coronet, rather like a crown of thorns. At night the ferryboats
afford New York’s one romantic retreat to lovers, who fill them. These busy craft have their own
histories, sometimes eventful. Even in their brief voyages mates have delivered babies and men
have jumped overboard. I often used a ferry-boat with a macabre story to tell. A passenger came
aboard with a bundle containing the head of a man killed by him and in midstream elbowed it off
the broad rail; another passenger caught it as it fell and restored it to him with a friendly smile.
From these decks I looked in spellbound conjecture at New York’s silhouette. If it is beautiful, it
may be New York’s one beauty. It is arresting, bizarre, exotic, wonderful as Babylon was
wonderful. It rises like a mountain range without foothills. Its huge but impotent fingers point at or
appeal to heaven.
The name Babylon is no cliché; it jumps unbeckoned to the beholder’s mind. The drawbacks of the
hundred-story buildings having been learned, new ‘baby-scrapers’ are going up. The regulations
demand that the upper stories of these shall be set back, so that they taper towards the top and are
crowned with blockhouses containing the elevator-and-air-conditioning equipment. In this form
they are replicas of the step-storied ziggurats of Babylon, surmounted by block-houses. Remarking
that, an American pastor wrote, ‘The ziggurat was none other than the Tower of Babel, a culture
centre for men intent on creating a world unified without God; alas, alas, that great city!’ (To point
his comment, the United Nations building was at that moment rising alongside the East River.)
A Soviet newspaper recently compared New York to disadvantage with Moscow (that is, the
Moscow yet to be, not the present one, where anything of beauty is the work of pre-Communist
Czars). ‘The new skyline,’ it said, ‘will bear no resemblance to the chaotic and unharmonious New
York skyline, in which ugly stalagmites rear between streets that are dark gloomy cracks into which
the rays of the sun cannot penetrate.’ The Soviet architects would avoid the mistakes made in such
buildings as the Empire State one in New York. The new Moscow buildings would be limited to
thirty-two stories. From this vision, and the details of New York’s ‘baby-scrapers’, it seems that
New Moscow (which will also be as un-Russian as New York is un-American), will in fact closely
resemble New York; another Babylon arises.
One day, with an American friend, I looked from a high window of the huge Empire State Building
(presumably by some perverse mis-chance, its hundred stories are crowned by what looks like the
phallic symbol, limned in red at night). On a misty day some years ago he looked from this window
and saw a bomber flying towards him. It hit two stories higher, destroying itself but not deeply
denting the edifice. With native celerity he telephoned the radio authorities and immediately
broadcast an eye-witness account of the affair.
Another American, gazing down at the scene far below, said ‘I sometimes think I am looking at
something that will he vanished to- morrow, never to return.’ He added, ‘Is this not great Babylon,
that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the honour of my
majesty?’
‘How does that go on?’ I asked. He continued. ‘While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a
voice from Heaven, saying “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the Kingdom is departed
from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall he with the beasts of the
field; they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou
know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The
same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat
grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of Heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’
feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.”‘
‘Is that what you feel about New York?’ I said. ‘Well, it fits,’ he said, ‘there’s some menace in this
fevered air.’
*** Chapter Ten
STREET SCENE
My mind’s eye retains a thousand pictures of the street scene of New York as it stood, in 1949, on
the verge of something, yet to be revealed; some decision possibly fateful for the entire white
family. I see, near my hotel, the early morning breadline outside the Franciscan monastery. An
industrious man cannot easily stay workless in America today, yet a residue of human beings
remains, unable or unwilling to earn a livelihood: the bums and deadbeats. After the monk came
with the sandwiches they would disperse to pick up cigarette ends, beg a nickel for a cup of coffee,
mooch around, lie down somewhere at night and join the breadline again next morning. Farther on I
see two prosperous and well-fed men, one gesticulating and the other listening. ‘How’d I do it?
Why, I gotta hardship-priority, see!’ says the voluble one as I pass.
Still farther away was the Garment Centre, the preserve of the suit-and-cloak trade. I will risk a
massive generalization and say the world has nothing like it. Here, block on block, clothing
factories and warehouses stand, inhabited by Eastern European and Italian tailors and seamstresses.
The narrow streets are choked with great trucks, the narrow pavements with heavy, wheeled racks
of clothing, pushed about by negro, Puerto Rican and other labourers. During working hours the
Garment Centre is congested enough; at mealtimes, when the cutters and sewers surge into the
streets and remain there, shouting, jostling and gesticulating, it is almost impassable. The Garment
Centre belongs to them and this ownership is demonstrated in a ‘Keep out if you don’t like it’ spirit.
This is the new immigration showing that ‘the future of America belongs to it’.
The Garment Centre decides what America shall wear tomorrow and spreads its influence through
all the Main Streets. Soon after Christmastide those myriad shop-windows fill with the attire of
spring; long before spring ends the gossamer clothing of summer invades them; while New York
wilts in the heat the autumn fashions supplant that; and before the leaves are red furs and topcoats
are there. Each clearance is early and ruthless, and the window-shopper who liked a beach-frock in
May will vainly ask for it when the sun fries the skyscrapers; by then the Garment Centre is reaping
the fall harvest. The pace is terrific.
All this energy does not end with apparel. The garment industry is politically organized, for
political ends. The vote of New York is held to be of decisive importance in elections and the
Garment Centre controls a large section of this, so that party-managers urge aspiring mayors,
governors and even presidents to court it, and Garment Centre leaders have the entry to the highest
places. ‘The two garment industry unions (in New York and Chicago) have as yet always been led
by men from the revolutionary areas of Russia or Russian-Poland where Soviet Communism and
Political Zionism were born. Together their membership forms an inconsiderable fraction of the
American population but their political claims are imperious. In 1950 the Chicago union
‘demanded’ that the State Department should ‘consult American labour on foreign policy’ and ‘draw
on the labour movement for its personnel’. Zionist newspapers state that the influence of these
bodies ‘has long since gone beyond mere matters of wages and hours and entered wider political,
national and even international spheres of influence’, which is clearly true. In 1949 and 1950 the
two unions supplied two million dollars to the Zionist State. These contributions were ’suggested’ to
the branches, but ‘imposed an obligation on members’; if members objected their union benefits,
such as holiday pay, were stopped. The two unions claim at present to be ‘anti-Communist’, but the
description might resemble one of their own reversible garments, which may be turned according to
vogue.
In any case, the Garment Centre is powerful in American politics, openly supports one of the two
foreign adventures into which the Republic has been drawn, and may not wear its heart on its
sleeve in the other case. It is the most striking example of the progress of that new immigration
which began when all conquests were completed. ‘The old immigration’ (says the Short History),
’spread out pretty evenly throughout the North and West, and went in about equal numbers into
farming and industry … The new immigrants congregated in the industrial centres of the East and
Middle West.’ The political results are now being seen.
The Garment Centre, the symbol of this new power in America, stands at the leftmost extreme of
the New York street scene. At the other end (though not far away) stands the Rockefeller Centre,
the symbol of the carter civilization and its puzzled striving to maintain and build up the old
tradition and virtues. The amassing of money produces a problem: what to do with it when
acquired. In America (said John Adams) wealth became an end in itself; ‘the conception of work as
a moral virtue’ (says the Epic), changed into ‘the further conception of moneymaking as both a
personal virtue and a patriotic duty’. The giants of gain came by this road to a signpostless land;
they may not have had more money than they knew what to do with, but often did not know what
to do with the money they had.
Some of it began to devour its begetters. In early days the tradition was followed which bore good
fruits in Europe, where rich men endowed almshouses or schools for poor scholars, founded
universities, became the patrons of poets and painters; money fructified life. In the Republic, when
music, reading and all culture came to be scorned as things effeminate, best left to women’s clubs,
rich men often lost the instinct of direction. Their huge but unmeditated generosities sometimes had
unforeseen effects, for money, unskilfully employed, may take on the nature of a cur, biting the
giving hand. Great libraries, passing into the care of committees, often became propaganda centres
for subversion, or, in farming and cattle states, the resting-places of deadbeats. The juniors, too,
often played havoc. The inheritors of great fortunes, cast into the stormy twentieth century without
spiritual goal or the need to toil, sometimes sought a facile popularity by showering money into
Communist coffers, especially if they bore the label, Liberal. Much money found this level and
famous grandsires in the shades may have wept like anything to see it. The instinct of nursery
rebellion against parental restraints often produced this effect in affluent adolescents. The titans of
money in the last century, who publicly declared that gain was its own self-blessed goal, bear much
responsibility for the spiritual anchorlessness and adriftness of American youth today, for by
elevating this puny creed to the standard of a national ideal they deprived the next generation of all
others, such as God and country. Their descendants found that this patrimony was not enough. In
their spasmodic striving to rediscover faith they are the prey of worse misleaders than the dollar
Colossi, and this is one explanation of the doubts and confusions which beset America today.
The Rockefeller Centre is a case of money wisely spent and improving itself. It is a lonely example,
in Fifth Avenue, of what New York might be, were not Henry James’s ‘beastly rent-values’ the
general rule. It is the proof that light, air, trees, flowers and fountains may survive between high
buildings; for a few blocks New York becomes an urbane metropolis. Even here the good purpose
was turned aspishly against itself. A painter living in Mexico was invited to do the murals for its
great entrance hall. The contractual theme was ‘Man at the Crossroads looking with uncertainty but
with Hope and High Vision to the choosing of a course leading to a New and Better Future’. His
murals showed this choice in the form of a group of Rockefeller Americans drinking, gambling and
wantoning, on the one hand; and a benevolent Lenin presiding over happily united workers on the
other. The painting was rejected and now, aptly, adorns the lounge of the garment-workers’ holiday
home in the Pennsylvania mountains.
In the street scene of New York the Communist (or Political Zionist) picket-line, too, was a
constant feature. I met it first when, looking in a restaurant window, a voice behind me cried,
‘Passa-them by, passa-them by, they are no good, passa-them by.’ I turned, saw a lonely striker, and
resumed my reading of notices in the window, which proved to be the proprietor’s answer to him.
‘Do notta-reada them,’ cried the voice to my back, ‘it issa alla-lies, passa-them by.’ From then on
voices soft or hoarse, wheedling or intimidating, repeatedly told me not to enter this shop or store,
and the thing went on all over New York. People on twentieth floors were suddenly left without
elevators, and the liftmen traipsed up and down the sidewalk crying ‘Unfair!’ while milkless
breakfasts were eaten far above and unemptied ashcans overflowed. When peace was made in one
sector the war at once broke out in another, ten blocks away.
A major picket-line, of Communists, Zionists and a negro or two, revolved slowly and endlessly
before a small German exhibition, crying ‘How much for human lampshades?’ ‘What price Belsen!’
and ‘Who said Ilse Koch?’ To me a repugnant sequel to the Second War was the persecution of the
womenfolk of defeated enemies, apparently for their wifehood alone. Neither the British nor the
American people ever associated themselves with such barbaric things before. I recalled the horror
with which, in 1933, I saw a Socialist woman in Berlin who was thrashed by Nazis. My report of
that, to The Times, went over the world; I would not then have believed that the American or
British name could ever be linked with anything similar.
This Ilse Koch was the wife of the commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp, and her name
was strung to a story about the making of lampshades from human flesh. In every war this story
recurs, in such similar form as to suggest a continuing source of fabrication. In the American Civil
War Northern tales were spread of Union soldiers’ bones being crushed to make fertilizer for the
South and of their skulls being fashioned into drinking-cups. In the First World War Allied
propaganda unhappily produced the story of soldiers’ bodies being made into German soap. The
truth of it later came out, yet in 1945 at Danzig, after the Second War, an American ambassador
was again persuaded that he saw ‘the remains of human bodies, still lying in vats of alcohol, the fats
from which were to be converted into soap’, while ‘dried human skin was still stretched out in the
laboratory for the manufacture of lampshades’.
Some unknown hand appears to direct an especial malignity at this particular woman, Ilse Koch.
An American occupation-zone court sent her to life imprisonment for ‘participating in the
management of a concentration camp’, which is a bad but much lesser thing. Mr. Montgomery
Belgion later disclosed something of the methods of these courts (in the British zone as well) and in
1949 the sentence was reduced to four years ‘for lack of evidence’ (which was once ground for
acquittal or possibly redress). At that clamour broke out in New York and her release (sentence, on
lacking evidence, served) was prevented; she was handed over to some ‘German court’ which
arranged to try her for ‘twenty-nine murders’, and presumably the world will learn as little of what
transpires as it did before. These things make talk of an Iron Curtain illusory; one can only be said
to exist if different principles prevail on either side.
The purpose of the picket-lines seemed to be that of fanning hatreds of race, class and creed in the
pretence of combating them. They piled unrest on unrest in the restless street scene of New York:
Round about the cauldron go,
In the poison’d entrails throw …
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble.
Soviet Communism and Political Zionism stirred the brew and sometimes the Irish Republicans
helped. Their pickets, around a building which contained the British Consulate, thrust at me leaflets
bearing the names of Zionist rabbis, whose words were used to portray Southern Ireland as a happy
sanctuary for Jews, harassed by ‘religious discrimination in the British island and Ulster! However,
Irish Republicans are not without native humour. ‘You have new allies against Partition!’ l said, ‘are
you for or against Partition in Palestine?’ The picketer grinned and said, ‘That’s a long way away’.
New York seldom knows a respite from such incitements. I came to a small riot around the New
York High School. Students milled to and fro, yelling and waving placards; a few policemen
uneasily tried to keep order. These demonstrations went on for some days and I learned they were
directed against two professors; one was supposed to be anteye-semidick and the other to have put
white and negro students in separate dormitories. The besieged Rector issued deprecatory bulletins,
intimating that he could hardly dismiss his two colleagues, though they were rather naughty and the
salary of one had been reduced. Beyond that (he implied) he could not go unless pushed very hard.
Then in Madison Square Park I found the President of Israel, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, other
speakers and a fair crowd gathered to celebrate the anniversary of Israel. Angry applause followed
attacks on Britain and ‘Bevinism’ and glad tumult greeted references to ‘our beloved America’.
Having heard similar voices speak earlier of ‘our beloved Germany’, ‘our beloved Austria’ and ‘our
beloved England’, I felt that Americans were like folk in the Political Zionist barber’s shop, waiting
for the words, ‘Next, please!’
As the permanent United Nations building in New York was not ready, I took train to a place
outside, that looked like wasteland, where a lonely sign said ‘United Nations’. The temporary
headquarters was a repellent place, like some remote base in wartime, where only the bar seemed
busy, butterfly-ladies sat about in club-chairs, and the members of the new bureaucracy, immunized
from taxation and other discomforts of life, lounged aimlessly around. It had also the distinctive
atmosphere, recognizable to any experienced visitor, of a Communist cell. Its first Secretary-
General, who also helped draft its Charter, was a Communist who betrayed his country’s secrets to
the Soviet Empire, and when it was founded, in the confusion of 1945, its organization was wide
open to the Communist technique of infiltration. Today it runs a kind of shop in Fifth Avenue
which distributes to all-comers literature full of the teachings of subversion. If this body should
become supreme above nations the future would be bleak indeed.
As to that, the temporary home sufficed for the first ill-omened deed, in Palestine. Count
Bernadotte was dead and in New York the Mayor turned out a police band to welcome a leader of
the organization which claimed his death. Americans, and most others, do not know what that first
act may imply for them; if the partition of Palestine can be ordered, so can that of the United States
or any other country. While I was in America an appeal judge in California set aside a judgment,
involving property ownership, on the ground that it ‘conflicted with United Nations law’. The
Charter of the United Nations, he declared, was not only ‘the supreme law of the land’ but also
‘paramount to every law of every State in conflict with it’. If that should become true, every law
born in the history of America or any other land will have been swept aside without a question put
to the peoples concerned. Fitting is the tombstone shape of the new United Nations building in New
York.
In a city where such huge ambitions gather and hatreds are unremittingly incensed, the nervous
tension must needs be great. It was never small; before all this began New York and its ‘cold,
dreary streets’ moved the negro singer Daniel Emmett yearningly to compose that rollicking
national anthem of the South, ‘Way down south in Dixie’. Today it has an added excitement, a kind
of suppressed frenzy. Once a suicide stood for many hours on a sixteenth-story window-ledge,
contemplating the jump. The policeman who vainly tried, while time ticked by, to lure him back
said afterwards that his nerves suffered most from the screaming of women in the street far below;
it never ceased.
From the ordeal of uncomprehended suspense few escapes offer, save by wheel to the distant
country. To my own surprise I often sought respite and repose in various hospitable and friendly
New York clubs. In my London youth I thought clubs the resorts of a selfish affluence, fortified
against the unemployed young man. Experience has taught me to prefer Colonel Blimp to
Commissar Blimp, on the Kremlin walls or in the United Nations Assembly. The New York
clubman was being lampooned as Colonel Blimp was in England twenty years ago, or ten. He was
‘Mr. Groton’, the butt of the party-line comedians (Groton is a leading New England school). ‘Have
you selected your chair for the winter, Mr. Groton?’ asks the club servant, or, ‘I think you should
wake up now, Mr. Groton; spring is here and the Socialists have taken over.’ Alternatively he
appears as ‘Senator Claghorn of the Deep South’ (’I’m so anti-North, sir, I won’t wear a union suit’).
The New York clubs, anyway, were places of peace among an instigated turbulence. One of them
awoke in me memories of an affair which gratified the sensation lovers many years ago, for I
learned it was designed by Stanford White, who was shot by Harry Thaw at Madison Square
Garden. That had a sequel, to me amusing. Years later Marie Lloyd was denied entry to America
for ‘moral turpitude’. Many years after that again, Harry Thaw, now free, was refused admission to
England. An American newspaper said this was a neat tit-for-tat; I doubt if it was ever so meant,
but the point was well taken.
The little matters that mutually irritate related peoples are often diverting. Unthinking travellers in
either direction tread in the footsteps of old clichés; Americans complain of warm beer and cold
coffee in England and Englishmen feel superior about flatulent beverages drunk from the bottle.
Americans are often made uneasy by small things about Englishmen, and sometimes are affronted
when, his attention being drawn to them, he admits their unreason and smilingly continues in error.
I have known Americans almost indignant because Englishmen draw shirts over their heads instead
of buttoning them like jackets. They dislike English affectations of speech, for instance, the
pronunciation of clerk as clark or Berkley as Barkley. They think words should be pronounced as
spelt, like P’ke’psy. The long ‘a’ frets their ears and ‘tomarto’ seems to them an intolerable quirk
implicitly admitted by ‘potehto’; ‘a’ should be spoken short as in Kansas (not long, as in Arkansas).
They will forgive an Englishman much if he can strike the right note. Once I found myself the only
guest at a dinner in New York of former students of the University of California, and knew no soul
save my host, who was seated far from me. Everybody else was on Al-and-Ed terms and between
the excellent courses, and after, speeches continued until I realized, with alarm, that everyone
present would be called on to say something. All spoke lovingly of distant California, to me
unknown. I did not want to appear stupid or give offence, but I thought several highballs had gone
to my eyeballs and my mind would not work. When the inexorable moment came I said, on the
moment’s spur, that in a company of Californians I could only offer the slightest of pretexts for
being present; I believed, on my mother’s authority, that as a child I had on several occasions made
passing acquaintance with California Syrup of Figs. A dead pause of about five seconds followed,
in which I heard the dwindling tinkle of lost ewe-lambs’ bells. Then a crash of laughter filled the
room and honour was saved.
*
One morning I left New York; it was Friday and the 13th. I did not look forward to a second
acquaintance with the tunnel, but did not then know New York well enough to try and find one of
the bridges. I thought of taking the second tunnel, the Holland one; from my map it looked better
for my purpose. However, better the tunnel I know, I thought, and went out through the Lincoln
Tunnel. At that moment a 16-ton trailer truck carrying four thousand gallons of inflammable carbon
disulphide blew up in the Holland Tunnel. It held, the river did not come through, and none was
killed, by wonder, but sixty-six people were injured or half-asphyxiated, while a-long line of trucks,
jammed hard against each other at the moment of halting, was destroyed; their drivers escaped
miraculously by running from the blaze through falling tiles and chunks of concrete. At the
entrance to the tunnel thousands of cars piled up and all their drivers honked in a fury of frustrated
haste.
However, I only learned about that later. I ran blithely through the Lincoln Tunnel on Friday the
13th and found it much less alarming at the second experience.
*** Chapter Eleven
IN YANKEELAND
From the old South, through New Babylon, to the old North, then on to the newer West: that is the
best way to understand America, if it can be understood. It baffled an eminent American, Walt
Whitman:
How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future?
I feel thy Ominous greatness, evil as well as good;
I watch thee, advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the past
I see thy light lighting and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire globe.
But I do not undertake to define thee – hardly to comprehend thee.
After the political witches’ cauldron of New York the cool beauty of Connecticut and all New
England was like a benison. The differences from the South were mainly those of latitude. The
South has low-lying, sandy pine barrens, swamps, mud-brown rivers, even snakes and alligators (I
once saw a snake bigger than any personally met in Africa); the Gulf and the tropics are not far
away. The North has green downlands, ‘rolling hills, low mountains covered with forest, sparkling
streams and innumerable lakes; here you think of trout, salmon and hushed winter snows. The
longitudinal line of the same civilization, however, runs clear from South to North along this
seaboard, and is broken only by New York. It springs from a common Christian and European root.
I began this journey in a quiet, white village of fine houses set around a green. Only in New
England and a few places in the South do you find villages and village greens, and they reveal the
continuing Saxon tradition, carried into these American lands. The colonists, remembering disputed
commonages, laid out a common ground where all men’s rights were equal. Thus many New
England villages remain homogeneous communities clustered round the green, and Main Street has
to step aside.
This village was almost deserted. It waited for Decoration Day at the end of May (when flags are
placed on American war graves) to bring the brief summer season and the holidaymakers. Mist,
rain and snow fill the other nine months and often, on western highways, you may meet New
Englanders migrating towards Arizona’s or California’s sun (or encounter them returning to the
damp green lands, which they find they prefer when they go away).
From this first Connecticut village I explored New England, travelling always along green aisles
beneath green arches and being ever astonished by what the earlier colonists built. The feeling of a
mellow culture accompanied me through Litchfield, Sharon and Salisbury, on to Stockbridge and
Williamstown in Massachusetts; again, these places seemed older than they were because they
contained so much of a parent civilization. The early colonists, when they took home names and
clapped ‘New’ on to them, must have meant ‘another’, not ‘different’. It was a confession, not an
apostasy. They meant to build another place on foundations they knew, not a ‘new’ one, the
newness of which would be a denial of the old. They used the old models for their houses, for the
excellent inns, for their schools and above all for their exquisite churches. Architects or master-
builders from England built many Southern mansions. New England was harder and poorer soil and
men fended for themselves, but with equally fine results. Taste was good and many valuable
builders’ manuals were available, especially one, the Country Builder’s Assistant, published by an
enterprising Jew, Asher Benjamin. All contained drawings after Wren and to them and the skill of
local craftsmen New England owes these delightful white churches.
I found one of the loveliest in Vermont, the Old First Church at Bennington, a little town still lively
with the memory of battles against the redcoats (near it was the old First Meeting House where the
Vermonters ‘met in prayer for assistance against the oppressive measures of New York and the
overwhelming power of King George’, a prayer, the first part of which might not be inapt today).
The model is Wren’s, but the tall columns from foundations to roof are single white pine trees. The
inner dome is held in the arms of a cross, ‘the cross triumphant over the world’; the UNO building
in New York is today’s answer to that.
Bennington interested me also because of its part in a very strange affair; here, in the early 1800s,
two men were sentenced to death because their uncle dreamed they had murdered someone. Two
toenails were all that could be produced of the corpus delicti, and fortunately for them the victim
appeared while they were awaiting execution.
The mass and speed of motor traffic blur this countryside of endless delight to today’s traveller. I
wished I could explore it by bicycle, or in a surrey. Either method is theoretically possible, but in
practice a wanderer afoot, a-cycle or driving something horsedrawn is almost as inconceivable as a
woad-painted caveman in Piccadilly Circus. New England calls for time and leisure, to enjoy it, but
that style of travel is dead in America. A trace of it remains only in the New England inns, which
are survivals of the colonial past.
The rich men or companies that now operate them maintain them with care, furnish them with taste
and serve excellent food, so that they combine the best of old and new. I stayed at one, at
Wallingford in Vermont, which was a model in both respects. It was a fine house, aged in the wood
and full of good furniture, which took thought of everything a modern guest could possibly need.
Hotels in America are not all of this standard, and as the wayfarer delves into the West, seeking
humble lodgings, he may fare pretty roughly. A novelty to me, in those parts, was the cutaway
lavatory door, which saved the proprietor the cost of a lock and some wood, for the newcomer
needed merely to look for a pair of feet. At one, quite large though modest hotel in Colorado,
economy was carried farther still; no doors were provided.
I went on through New Hampshire to Maine, pondering on the immense quiet of New England,
beneath the surface noises of the road. Norwich and Hanover, Orford and Haverhill, Bethlehem and
Bethel: English, Royal Georgian and Biblical names marked the way. Save for Bethlehem, which
was much overrun by New Babylonians, as if to spite its name, they breathed the spirit of the early
colonists and a deep respect for these grew in me. This was all bitter wilderness when they came.
Their remoteness from civilization was daunting to think of even now, yet they seemed to have
remained nearer to its heart, as they built these white towns in green groves, than the masses of
people are today.
*** Chapter Twelve
LIFE OF A SALESMAN
Through the woods of Maine I came, in quest of a night’s lodging, to a little place called
Skowhegan, and stopped at a modest-looking inn where a very fat, wheezy and jovial landlord
rocked himself on the stoop. To my surprise he took my heavy bags one in either hand and sped
lightly upstairs with them; I never knew a man’s appearance so deceptive. He surprised me again by
showing me a cheap room and saying he had one cheaper and just as good, if I cared to use a public
bathroom. Such probity may once have been general among inn-keepers but is rare now. I was tired
and hungry and asked where I could eat. This is often a major problem for the stranger in America;
the stool and hamburger pall in time and his being calls for a solid meal, a chair beneath him and a
table before him.
‘Down by the river,’ he said, ‘half a mile away.’ I went and found a log-cabin restaurant and a table
by a window. Outside, logs were floating gently downstream and the senses were restored after the
rush of the road by their reassuring movement. In a smooth partnership of man and nature, they
were cut in the mountains, slid down the slopes, and then the river did the rest; it brought them to
some distant boom which fed them to the mill where they were pulped for paper. It was an
enchantingly primitive arrangement, slow, but surer than speed. Of course, there were libertarians
among them and these sought to gather in any corner where they might escape the stream; then they
set up log-jams, another American expression which has enriched the English language. It is the
perfect image for any obstructive congestion in industry, traffic or aught else. English politicians,
liking the mixed metaphor, usually prefer ‘bottle-neck’, which is the opposite of what they mean;
the neck of a bottle ensures smooth, uncongested efflux, neither rudely swift nor obdurately slow.
While I mused on these things a good-looking and engaging young man asked to share my table.
‘Gladly,’ I said, and either this one word or my look told him I was English, so that he invited me
pleasantly to be his guest, adding a word about friendliness received in England. He suggested,
from the menu, ‘Chicken in the rough’. ‘I’d like that,’ I said, ‘what is chicken in the rough?’ It proved
to be all the most tooth-some parts of the fowl, served to be eaten with the fingers, and restored me
after hard travel.
Forthwith he told me all about himself. He was training to be a salesman of refrigerator parts and
expected to spend five years learning the craft. That showed me graphically the place which
salesmanship holds in the respect of Americans. Five years seemed to me a long probation. From
casual reading and hearsay I thought until then that salesmanship was a natural gift, quickly tested
by practical success or failure. I saw it was a high science demanding long novitiate; a talent
acquired, not inborn.
To him I owe much lore of the road. When he began his five-year travels, he said, he stayed at
hotels and ate regular meals, but soon found this used up both his expenses allowance and his
salary. He systematically applied himself to economy. He stayed only at the cheapest tourist-camps,
lived during the day on a carton of milk and a packet of crackers, and allowed himself one good
meal, at night (thereafter a lone rider, one D. Reed, travelled America with carton and packet beside
him). He never drove faster than forty miles, because his fuel bill was lowest at that speed. He put
his laundry in a machine which washed, rinsed and dried it all for twenty-five cents; to press these
things he ran a little travelling-iron from the electric light in his quarters. Thus his salary remained
intact and he saved something from his expenses allowance too.
His life, perfectly organized, lay before him like a smooth, straight road, with a desirable haven five
years away. It seemed an excellent plan, the exact opposite of that of the young American in the
days when he set out for the uncharted West. ‘You are not married?’ I said.
‘No,’ he said, and spoke of a turning missed on life’s road, to which, I thought, he would have liked
to return. Like many other youngsters whom I met, his thoughts were much in Europe, wither his
military service led him; it holds an appeal for which they cannot account. He lived in memory in
days spent with an Italian girl, and talked with a romantic nostalgia of ‘three beautiful months’ spent
in her company. For two years after leaving her, he said, he was utterly miserable.
‘Two years!’ I said, ‘then it was no fleeting fancy. Why didn’t you marry her?’
‘I couldn’t ever make up my mind whether she loved me or my food,’ he said.
I knew what he meant. The American soldier was thrown among hungry people in strange lands in
wartime, with a cornucopia in his hands. Nevertheless, if he was so happy with her, I thought he
might have dismissed his doubt about what attracted her in the first place and have set himself to
ensure what should hold her in the last. I felt that a shadow of regret darkened his straight, secure
road. ‘Yeah, she married another guy in my regiment,’ he continued, ‘he stayed on in Italy and
married her. I guess my ideas were in a jam.’
He fell silent and we both watched the floating logs. The movement of those endless, unformed
battalions, drifting, drifting downstream was impressive; it looked like destiny at work.
*** Chapter Thirteen
MAINE TO MASSACHUSETTS
After the verdancy of New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine was higher and wilder; towns grew
fewer and farmland rarer. I went through this country of mountain and forest, lake and river, which
the French and English disputed until Wolfe prevailed at Quebec, on my way to Bar Harbour and
the sea. New England now is a holidaymaker’s land and it was sleepy and empty between the two
high seasons of winter and summer sports. Nevertheless, the sun was already hot and rain was
needed, so that lonely dwellers in the immense woodlands, though barely freed from snow and ice,
were beginning to worry about forest fires.
Bar Harbour, which is almost on the edge of Canada, was the northernmost point on my route, and
is one of the world’s lovely places. All down this coast the mountain’s footlands fall away into
islands and islets as if the earth shed hard tears at the ocean’s victory. It is a scalloped battleline,
where green promontories and peninsulas resist the amethystine siege of coves and bays and the
endless combat joins in a smoke of white spume and spray; where the scents of firs and newly-
sawn wood meet salt breezes. No road could follow these convolutions, which are like those of an
uncompleted jigsaw puzzle, so that, although you continually see landlocked water, the ocean
remains distant. This is the coast which gave the Republic most of its ships, fisherfolk and seamen.
Having seen the inner countryside of New England I set off southward along its coast for New
York again. The day was astonishingly hot and I pulled up at a place which seemed to offer food
and shade. There was a mile of beach, the smell of mussels and cockles which pleases English
nostrils, a few tables beneath striped umbrellas, and two sheds, which promised ‘Lovely Food’ and
‘Lobster Picnic Plate’. I saw visions of a succulent trifle nestling in crisp green leaves, and of a
cooling plunge. On closer view I forewent the bathe; the beach was rockier than Brighton’s. I
entered one shed and ordered Lobster Picnic Plate.
The counter-hand looked hot and troubled and was too busy, over some sizzling dish, to serve me
at once. He turned from his cooker to a box, touched a switch, and spoke to ‘Joe’ (in the other shed,
I supposed). ‘Joe,’ he said, ‘Al here, how’s about you coming over and giving a hand with this
hamburger?’ (a child waited, presumably for the hamburger). Joe’s answer was inaudible, but he did
not come, and Al turned wearily to me, leaving hamburger and child to fate. He looked happier
when I asked for Lobster Picnic Plate and said, ‘Sure’.
He took a deep papier mâché dish and filled it with clam-shells, damp from the sea. Then he lifted
the lid from an urn, releasing hot clouds of vapour, and with tongs extracted a huge scarlet lobster,
intact and steaming like a locomotive, which he laid on the clam-shell bed and proffered to me. I
pictured myself rending a boiling lobster with my hands and recoiled. ‘You don’t wannit?’ he said;
he was of few words. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Okay,’ he said, and put it in the urn. I ate some ice-cream, which,
like chop-suey, I find inflating at the moment of intake and lowering later. A little farther along the
road I was hungry again and stopped at one of the string of ice-cream palaces which you encounter
all over America; in mid-desert and on rocky mountainside alike these excellent resorts offer
‘twenty-eight kinds of ice-cream’.
I could not believe, until I made this test, that ice-cream could he made in twenty-eight separate
flavours. Now I counted them and they added up to thirty-three, all with names as fine as those of
jewels or apples: Orange Pineapple, Peppermint Stick, Butterscotch, Butter Crunch, Black
Raspberry, Walnut Brittle, Pistachio, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Chip, Grapenut, Fruit Salad and so
on. Yet though this be heresy I found (or imagined) a sameness in flavour and texture. In Vienna
formerly, and I suppose nevermore, Italians came from Italy each summer and opened ice-cream
shops. One such was beneath my lodging there and each morning, even before shaving, I visited it.
I can still taste that confection of Hazelnuss und Citron, which cost but fifteen groeschen. Never
since have I looked on its like.
As you come southward the roadside life thickens again, so that the coastal country of New
England disappears, or the senses cannot comprehend it. Everybody appears to sell something.
Scarcely a house but is ready to receive Overnite Guests, Nite Crawlers or Tourists, or to sell eggs,
fruit, puppies, Persian kittens, curios, antiques, maple candy, cider, icecold pop or sizzling steaks.
All around and between the townships are the Dew Drop Inn and Dusty’s Clams, Joe’s Place and
Aunt Martha’s Home Cooking, the Dine-a-Mite Diner and the Hot Dog Shack. Any spaces that
remain are filled with filling-stations and cabin-courts, and between them the combustion engine
ceaselessly roars.
The traveller who is not native to this furious pace may yearn for a little bucolic quiet and I found it
for a few miles when I left the clamant highway to seek a little seaport called Gloucester. In green
lanes signposts pointed to Essex, Andover or Newbury, and here still beat the heart of the folk who
colonized New England. I came over an old stone bridge that spanned a dreamy stream into
Ipswich; Elizabethan houses, built of wood and untouched, stood around a village green where
militiamen once trained to fight King Philip long before their grandsons threw off the English king.
Here the names of the earliest settlers survive and some families still inhabit houses built by their
forebears three centuries ago.
Ipswich was a cloistered survival, aside from the life of U.S. Route 1 and Main Street. Gloucester
proved as pretty as Polperro, but was invaded by the mechanized times and by new colonists, those
of Art. Its old-world streets were full of Art Shops, Art Schools, Art Training Institutes, Lessons in
Watercolour, Painting Lessons, Art Exhibitions, and in many windows were the results of this
activity; pictures of Ships in The Harbour. Regretfully I abandoned thoughts of a sleepy inn and of
a peaceful hour leaning on a quayside wall by lapping tidewater. I turned about and drove to Salem.
*** Chapter Fourteen
OF WITCHCRAFT AND DELUSIONS
Salem, whatever it may be to its inhabitants, was to this wanderer a place of repose and revelation.
The roots of the Republic’s story are in it and Salem remains small enough for them to be studied in
peace. It resisted or was shunned by the industrial age and thus retains much of urbanity and charm.
It is of the towns that grow quickly and stop abruptly. In 1650 it was hardly begun; by 1750 it was a
thriving seaport; by 1850, when the great sailing-ships came no more and the trade went to Boston
and New York, it was arrested and sleepy. It has stayed much like that and seems unlikely to
change.
By the water, near to its busiest streets and yet strangely remote, is the most fascinating memorial
in America. This is the Pioneers’ Village, a faithful reconstruction, not a bogus one, of the first
habitations of the colonists from England. The site is genuine, for Salem was one of the earliest
settlements, preceded only by those of Jamestown in Virginia and of the Pilgrim Fathers from
Plymouth who landed from the Mayflower to found Plymouth, Massachusetts (not far away) in
1621.
Here in the twentieth century you may see what it meant to land on a rocky shore in 1626 and set
about to colonize a wilderness. The ocean lay behind and England three months away; in front was
a barren shore and something, boundless, hostile and savage, which had to be made into New
England. The settlers were fifty men with a handful of tools. Here are the bark-covered wigwams
and sod-roofed dugouts, in which they first sheltered, while they felled and hewed timber for
something better; the thatched pine cottages, with catted chimneys of logs and clay and deep
fireplaces, which they next built in the shape of humble homesteads remembered in England; the
first rough-hewn stools and tables and the cleared patches where they grew only edible or
medicinal plants. Here is the first crude Governor’s House (the governor’s lady, however, soon died
in it), and, moored alongside, a scale model of the wooden ship, the Lady Arabella, which the
settlers watched sail over the horizon after it landed them. From such hard and tiny beginnings
grew all the rest. Today’s beholder feels the huge and oppressive isolation still.
In New England and in the South the struggle and achievement were the same and the men who
performed them were of the same blood. How came the violent breach? The antagonism, skilfully
exploited by third parties in 1861, was the projection into new lands of the one which caused a
king’s beheading and a brief dictatorship in England. The colonists of the South and of New
England may in fact be roughly divided into Roundheads and Cavaliers. They were men of all
classes, from labourers to squires, but of different minds. The Puritans and Pilgrims founded New
England. The Southern settlers were men of more conservative feeling. Differences of soil and
climate may have sharpened innate differences. The South with its cotton and tobacco became a
land of big estates and plantations. The colder and less fertile North was a place for merchants and
manufacturers.
‘For the most part the New England immigrants’ (says the Epic) ‘came from the extreme Left Wing
and were Puritans of the Puritans, as far as their leaders were concerned. A large part of the general
mass was not, but from the first the colony, with a good bit of rebelling now and then, was forced
to take the impress of the clerical and lay Left Wing leaders … The type of life which evolved in the
South was in many ways the most delightful America has known and that section has become in
retrospect our land of romance.’
In terms of today, then, the North was Leftist and the South Conservative. In the North the Puritan
spirit kept much of its cold, hard shape, self-righteous and abhorrent of sin in others. At Salem this
distinctive spirit led to events which the New Englanders of today like to call the Witchcraft
Delusion. The suggestion of a passing error, now realized, might be another error. The age of
delusions does not seem dead. People in the mass love their terrors; they hug themselves in a
titillating fear of sorcerers one day and of flying saucers the next. Between the last wars American
radio-listeners turned out in masses to repel a Martian attack; after the second war an Ecuadorean
mob, similarly panicked, burned seventeen people alive in a broadcasting headquarters.
Thus Salem’s outburst of 1692 was not so old-fashioned as New England now likes to think. It
began when a clergyman saw children performing ’strange antics’ and, in consultation with a
colleague, diagnosed witchcraft, so that twenty persons, men, women and a clergyman, were
executed (and also two dogs, which gave passing folk nasty looks, an error to which dogs still are
prone).
Witchcraft in Salem ended suddenly when the townsfolk, excessively zealous, put word about that
the Governor’s wife was a witch. At that the thing was declared A Delusion. The witch-destroying
judge in time publicly confessed his error and became Chief Justice; confession was good for Judge
Sewall. The times, and their delusions, do not change much.
Salem was Nathanial Hawthorne’s town. In life it did not like him, or he it; now he has the
proverbial statue and other commemorations. The old colonial Custom House where he worked
stands exactly as he described it in The Scarlet Letter. He claims to have found in an unused room
there the papers of a long-dead official and the scarlet emblem of an adulteress which Hester
Prynne was made to wear. That symbol, ‘A’, is equally typical of the New England conscience and
of the parts of Old England whence its roots sprang.
Treading his haunts, I became deeply interested in Hawthorne’s writing life. He wrote for years
before he came by his Surveyor’s post in the Custom House. Presumably he desired it, but it killed
the creative impulse in him; he could not write. The decision to cast away a sure livelihood, as
many later writers know, was hard. He was helped to it by a political custom of his country. A
president died, a new one was elected, and offices throughout the land wore redistributed to the
friends of the new president’s party. Hawthorne, already contemplating resignation, was dismissed
and wrote that he was thus like a man who, having decided he ought to commit suicide, was
fortunate enough to he murdered. This started him writing again and he became famous. It also led
him to quit Salem. Before that he felt it ‘almost as a destiny’ to remain where his folks settled and
lived for two hundred years. Afterwards he realized that ‘human nature will not flourish, anymore
than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-
out soil’.
Hawthorne is part of an American conundrum: why did a group of great writers, Emerson, Whittier,
Hawthorne, Longfellow, Thoreau and others, spring up at one time in this neighbourhood, in or
around Boston? For a few decades a prolific literary growth flowered in America, only then and
only there. These writers all believed in God, life and their country. At the same time, and also in
New England, appeared the first prophets of the Civil War and of the pessimism which was to
supplant the immense optimism of that day: William Lloyd Garrison and Mrs. Beecher Stowe.
When the literary descent reached Mark Twain that writer saw the American Republic perishing,
like republics before it, through baseness and corruption.
From then until today the literary inheritance has gone through a rake’s progress towards an all-
denying pessimism. Writers must exist in America today who see positive values in life, faith,
tradition, the family and art. They are drowned in the clamour of the literary slummers. Jack
London seems unwittingly to have given impetus to the trend. His earlier writing was virile and he
wrote of slums because he grew up in them; personal experience is the raw material of any writer’s
trade. He then suffered the mischance of becoming typed, which sometimes befalls actors. He grew
into a slum-writer and sought slums; he was invited to write a book about the London ones and
dressed as a slumsman for the task. The approach may contain the seeds of degeneration in itself;
towards the end he came to glorify suicide.
His countless imitators saw that dirt was pay-dirt. They were seldom of his type, hard-hitting
buckos of the waterside, forecastle and gold-fields, but sedentary men who exploited a vogue. For
them America became one great slum, from Main Street to Tobacco Road in the South and the San
Joaquin Valley in the Far West. They descended from physical slums to the slums of the soul. The
First World War brought in America (as in England and Germany) a large literature of incoherent
disillusionment, like the mouthings of a drunken man sprawled on a bar-room floor. On the stage
life as pictured by Mr. Eugene O’Neill appeared (one American journal said), ‘a Freudian
nightmare’, while the Hemingway heroes (wrote another), ‘wallowed in self-pity’. Jack London,
jailed for vagrancy at Niagara Falls in 1894, wrote that the things he saw in prison were
‘unprintable, unthinkable to me until I saw them, and I was no spring chicken in the ways of the
world and the awful abysses of human degradation’. In the American fiction of the nineteen-thirties
and forties no degradation seemed too abysmal for print, and the abysses were often depicted as the
common level.
The thing became a literary infection. The Second War produced many books even more anarchic
than those which followed the first one (in England, for some reason, this repetition did not occur;
balance returned). In America some of the Boys Who Went Through Hell burst into the wildest
fulminations. To judge by such books (said an American newspaper), ‘Americans have only two
diversions, liquor and sex. And when they aren’t a-drinkin’ and a-hellin’ around they are talking
about it with an obscenity that is utterly and hopelessly unimaginative and monotonous.’ These
books surprised me when I read them. In former times a man who fought in a war took that as part
of his life and described his experience soberly, if he wrote about it. Such books remain good to
read, from Sergeant Bourgogne’s account of the retreat from Moscow, through Colonel Denys
Reitz’s story of the South African War, to Colonel Spencer Chapman’s The Jungle is Neutral. If
young men wrote of war before they reached it, they just said, ‘If I should die, think only this of me
…’ or, had they the gift of a Julian Grenfell, in simplicity of spirit composed an ‘Into Battle’. There
was no whining, before or after. But at this mid-century the episode of war unaccountably brought
back youngsters who saw only pollution and depravity in life.
When I was in America fiction fell into three main groups. The writers of the first, abandoning the
present, pursued full-bosomed heroines in period costume from bed to worse through seven
hundred pages. The second group contained the son-of-a-bitchin’ G.I.s, discussing fornication from
fortification to fortification. The third comprised the race-problem novels, in which villainous mobs
persecuted harmless Jews or negroes; in translation to stage or screen the Jewish hero often became
a negro or the reverse. Of ten novels discussed in one week by a leading New York literary review
seven were on this theme; it was the fission-propaganda of the Civil War, renewed.
I sometimes seek a novel about any strange city where I may be, for these often give a quicker
insight to its nature than any handbook. In one such city I bought such a book, which, if it was at all
a picture of American life, was horrific. On page 1 the hero ‘called for a drink; on page 2 he said
‘fix me a drink’; on page 5 he said ‘I want a drink, would you like a drink?’; on page 6 ‘drinks came
in’; on page 7 he ‘poured himself a bourbon with trembling hand’; on page 8 he told his negro
servant, ‘pour yourself a drink’. This went on for three hundred pages, during which his friend
married a prostitute, ‘queers’ betrayed each other with other ‘queers’ and alcoholic lechery ran riot.
In its middle the story was interrupted for a page or two by the reflections of the hero, on a high
moral tone, about his sister. He hated her; she had an aversion to Jews and an aloofness from
negroes; she was unclean, undemocratic and anti-social.
I sometimes wondered about the sum effect of a mass of writing of this kind, over forty or fifty
years, on successive generations. It might not be so great as its producers would like, for the thing
in time breeds a revulsion. I read in 1950 that American book-sales steeply declined, and this may
be a reason. Turning from such thoughts, I went to see Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables.
I shall promptly revisit it if ever I go to America again. The house was delightful, with a secret
staircase most suitable for escape when witch-hunters were at the door. True, I wondered vaguely if
it could be so old; however, it was there. So were Hawthorne’s picture, his desk and chair. Above
all, the house had seven gables.
The American attitude to historical things is sometimes unusual, by our reckoning. They are used
for what the traffic will carry, as Mark Twain said. Thus when I bought a copy of the book at the
very house, I was slightly shaken to read, in the erudite introduction, that no such house
authentically existed. Subsequently I heard rumour that a gable or two might have been added, for
verisimilitude.
I later decided that this was of no importance. The house was undeniably lovely, whether it was the
one Hawthorne wrote of or not. It lay by the waterside, in a pleasant garden. It was not run
commercially in a narrow sense. Having been acquired by a woman of good works, the proceeds
from visitors and the sale of this or that were devoted to some worthy purpose. I surmised,
therefore, that the young women who guided me around and then served my meal were performing
voluntary duty. This meal, eaten in the garden, made me feel that the loss was Hawthorne’s, if this
was not his House of Seven Gables. I could not recall one like it since a dinner at Le Perouse in
Paris just before the Germans broke through. Salmon mousse with cucumber mayonnaise, a salad
of the crispest lettuce and a subtle dressing, pear-jelly mould, grape-jam and succotash, muffins and
butter, pôt-au-chocolat with whipped cream, and coffee; we eat so many meals in a lifetime and so
few are perfect. I shall never forget that one.
*** Chapter Fifteen
A BOAT IN BOSTON
Boston is but a corkpop from Salem and in its harbour lay a friend’s boat, with cook and steward
aboard. This was a brief haven for me from the motor-roads and cities, the harried search for food
and lodgings, and the moving finger of the parking-machine, hastening to name me ‘Violator!’
while I looked for these things. The hardest thing to do in America is to sit back and look at it, to
collect thoughts in peace. Now, suddenly, haste and distraction ceased. Boston lay spread before
me and islands behind me. I lay on a sheltered after-deck and listened to wavelets lapping the boat’s
sides, or watched, in the pale-green paint of the awning, the reflection of moving water, like a grey
curtain, softly stirred by the wind. The boat swayed soothingly; although I do not like rocking-
chairs I think I would build a rocking-house, if I could. When I went into Boston I had no cares of
bed or board and returned to peace; it was the perfect respite for a way-worn traveller.
It is the capital city of New England, and to the North what Richmond is to the South. Here the
Republic began, for the Boston riots of 1770 and 1773 were the first thunder of the War of
independence and the first battle was fought at Bunker Hill. From my deck-chair I could see
Bunker Hill and the spire of the Old North Church, where the sexton flashed signals to Paul Revere
below that the British were moving to attack, so that Revere galloped round the countryside rousing
the farmers to resist.
Today Boston and New England have been much invaded by the new immigration. In that the
North is different from the South, which has remained homogeneous; Mr. Gunther mentions this,
approvingly of the North and reprovingly of the South. The explanation lies in the different
character. Puritans and friends, in all countries, ever saw virtue in a stranger and sin in a friend.
Nevertheless, much of the earlier spirit and stock remain. To the political columnists and
comedians of New York, driving the wedge ever deeper, Boston’s Backbay is a target for derision
(rather as ‘Bayswater’ once was in London).
Boston grew up before the chequerboard pattern became general for American cities, and its streets
are mazy, winding and narrow. They would be delightful, too, but for the press of traffic; to that
problem the wit of men can perceive no outcome. It is a good-humoured place, where the large
Irish population rids itself of native gall on those days of the year when some redcoat defeat is
remembered; then uproarious festival is held. Once, needing to separate myself from a car, I was
told by an Irish policeman, ‘Sure, leave it there. Nobody will bother you if it’s an out-of-State car.
Even if they do fine you, they don’t fine you the first time.’ This fine Irish distinction pleased me as
much as the spirit in which it was made.
Boston also has large Italian and Eastern European communities. I asked a stranger the way to the
post office and he affably said he was going that way. As we went along he asked what I was and I
said ‘a foreigner’. ‘Well, aren’t we all!’ he said. ‘I mean that I don’t live here, I’m a visitor,’ I
explained, ‘where are you from?’ ‘I’m from the other side of Germany – Jewish,’ he said. ‘That would
be Poland, wouldn’t it?’ I said. ‘Yes, ‘ he said, ‘but I’ve been a long time here.’ ‘And how do you find
it?’ I asked.
‘Oh, there’s nothing like it, but I’m afraid they’re going to spoil it,’ he said. ‘How so?’ I asked. ‘By a
new war,’ he said, ‘none of us will gain from a new war.’ ‘I see,’ I said, ‘and who is going to make
the new war?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘it’s the Catholics and their feud against Communism. People have got
so worked up about it you don’t dare to talk about Communism or they call you a Red. But you
can’t keep it down like that.’ ‘But who is going to make this new war?’ I repeated gently. ‘It’s the
Catholics,’ he said again, ‘now in Boston there are 75,000 Irish. They came here to escape English
persecution, but it’s funny, people who have been persecuted, once they’re free they want to start
persecuting other people.’ ‘I’ve noticed that,’ I said, ‘in Palestine particularly, it’s very odd.’
He ignored that. Well,’ he went on, if we have a new war that’s the end. If the atomic bomb is used
we can kiss the world goodbye. What we want is a world government.’ ‘I differ there,’ I said, ‘the
world government would persecute somebody, and with the latest firework. But I don’t think even a
world government could destroy all mankind. Some would remain and start again and build
something new, possibly better. That’s happened before on this planet.’ ‘Say,’ he said, ‘where you
from?’ ‘I came here from Africa, I said. ‘But … but … we’re all in this,’ he said, ‘you don’t think
you’ll be out of it in Africa.’ ‘I don’t expect to be out of it anywhere,’ I said, ‘I’m just not worried. I
think it’s all going to be for the good in the long run. I don’t suppose you or I will see the turn for
the better, but if some people are going to make another war in order to set up a world government
we’d better see who they are …’ He sputtered in some agitation. ‘That’s not what I said,’ he said, ’say,
I just remembered, I gotta call on a friend here,’ and he was gone, leaving me to find the post office.
The historical places of Boston seem to show the new time to even more disadvantage than those of
the South, possibly because there is more of the new to accentuate the contrast. King’s Chapel and
the Old South Meeting House, where the Tea Party was organized, still stand. The Old State House,
with the balcony from which the Declaration of Independence was read, survives among towering
office buildings, and the Lion and Unicorn still support its pediment. The Old North Church and
Paul Revere’s wooden house are quiet islands, almost lost in a seething Italian quarter lively with
the sounds and smells of Italy.
In the delightful little garden outside I found a tablet to one ‘John Childs, who here on September
13, 1757 had given public notice of his intention to fly from the steeple and performed it to the
satisfaction of a great number of spectators.’ That, I thought, must have been even before the Flying
Tailor of Ulm on his bench-sewn wings floundered into the Danube. If in 1757 a man truly flew
from this steeple, surely everyone would want to know how he did it! But I met incuriosity and
could only learn from an old record that ‘as his performance led many people from their Business,
he is forbid flying any more in this town’. I wondered what our times might have been, had such a
ban been made universal for human flight, or even for the combustion engine. In South Africa there
is an ancient Xosa tribesman who believes all the world’s woes derive from it and he might be
largely right. Where lies truth, between the man who deliberately chooses to remain primitive, if he
is allowed, and the one who devises, first a metal blade for his plough, then a wheel, and so on …
and on …?
I spent pleasant days in old Boston, among friendly folk, and deeply contented ones afloat,
watching the sun rise or go down, the lights wax or wane, and the water gently heave. There was
only one distraction, a peculiarly American one which might have surprised Mrs. Thirkell’s Aubrey.
At the harbour-mouth was an automatic foghorn, in its sound exactly like a London air-raid
warning. It apparently responded to a certain degree of moisture in the air, not to visible fog, and
continued without cease for three days and two nights, during most of which time the weather to
my landsman’s eye seemed perfectly clear.
Too soon the respite ended. I packed my bags, was rowed ashore and went my way, through Rhode
Island, the smallest but most crowded state, to the Connecticut coast. One day soon after that I was
on the grandiose Merritt Parkway, running through enchanting country towards …
The name need not be said. As it is approached a hypnotic spell comes down and you become a leg
of a human centipede. You are part of a machine which moves, like a horizontal escalator, into
New York. You watch the back of the car in front and the front of the car behind and become
possessed by the shimmer of light on their enamel, the whoosh-whoosh of cars passing,
overhauling, approaching. The speed-limit signs drop by degrees from fifty to fifteen and at forty
miles you whoosh-whoosh into New York while other cars still pass at sixty. Over a bridge this
time, and whoosh-whoosh along Riverside Drive until you can dive into a side-street, pause, take
breath and begin the battle anew.
I made a badly planned entry, after dark, when I was very tired. To find a lodging at such an hour is
no easy thing, and I was more than jaded when I secured one. An elderly lift-girl took me and my
bags to a high floor and a most uncomfortable room. I heard a familiar accent. ‘Yes, Ah’m from
Man-chester’, she said. ‘You must have been here a long time,’ I said. ‘Forty-faive years,’ she said,
‘boot Ah’ve never lost mah accent. They all think Ah’m Scotch here. Ah was over theer last year.
Mah son’s theer.’ ‘How did you find it?’ I asked. ‘Ee, awful,’ she said, ‘woorse than ever. Ah wish
he’d coom hoam. Ee, England’s ‘ad its daay. It’s finished now.’ ‘It always is,’ I said, ‘but it doesn’t lie
down, does it?’ ‘No, it doosn’t, doos it,’ she said, ‘it’s foonny, izzntit?’
I left this gloomy New Yorker to her calling, went to bed and read Jack London’s life. I came on a
letter of his written to a friend in 1899: ‘You say, “This is the beginning of the end – you’ll see,
within ten years the British Empire will have followed its predecessors, the Greek, Roman,
French.” Well, well, well! I’d like to talk with you for a few moments. It’s simply impossible to take
it up on paper. The day England goes under, that day sees sealed the doom of the United States. …
When England falls the United States will be shaken to its foundations, and the chances are one
hundred to one that it never recovers again … But England is not going to fall. It is not possible. To
court such a possibility is to court destruction for the English-speaking people.’
Among thinking Americans I found a lively awareness that their Republic and the British island are
in fact in the same boat, threatened by the same forces of destruction. I never found there, or in
England, anyone who wanted the two countries ‘mixed up’ as Mr. Churchill said in one of his
curious war-time speeches. Their whole genius is separate, if their destiny is linked. The
disappearance of the separate outline, in fact, is desired only by the super-national planners of
today, who aspire to be the World Governors of tomorrow. Jack London divined that fifty years
ago. ‘You mistake,’ he added, ‘I do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man. I believe my
race’ (he meant the Anglo-Saxon one) ‘the salt of the earth. I am a scientific socialist, not a utopian.’
Had he lived another thirty years he would by now have discarded ’socialist’, I fancy. He was
conservative to his marrow, and wanted to improve, not to destroy, which is the difference. He felt
heavy on him the prescience of the perils now gathering round his country.
I was tired enough that night to be irritated by a gossip in an elevator. In the next room a man
coughed and rasped incessantly. Mine was airless and dingy. I thought longingly of Boston
Harbour.
*** Chapter Sixteen
ON GOING WEST
I was going West, and spent a farewell evening with friends whose apartment overlooked the
Hudson River. They were young people, friendly as Americans are when you come to them
introduced; then you are passed pleasantly along from helping hand to helping hand. The nicest
member of their circle was Joan Brent, whose loveliness and charm needed to be seen; but
somehow we never reached her.
They were filled with the unquiet of New York. I enjoyed myself and wondered why the question
so oft recurred, ‘What shall we do now?’ What we were doing seemed good enough, but ‘We
mustn’t let Joan Brent down,’ said Anne, ‘I know she’ll expect us. She’s so lovely.’ I expected a
move, but the talk returned to the pace of life in America. Ben said he could only take one week’s
vacation this year and he would spend it at a Yogi camp, that way he’d get a week with peace and if
he went to friends he’d get a week with drink, and he really needed a rest; at the present tension of
business he wouldn’t be any good in five years. We must go on to Joan Brent, said Betty, she was
perfectly lovely. Anne said John was always telling her she’d better make the most of him for
another five years and then find somebody else. Well, said John, it was true enough, look how
young men were dying these days; the obituary pages showed that they were dying younger and
younger and the dental decay rate in the United States was the highest in the world.
‘Are things that bad?’ I asked Betty. Well, she said, you’ve seen New York and you know what life
is here, and I said, yes, but I supposed that was New York, I meant, it wouldn’t be like that all over
America. Ben said he guessed we ought to go on to Joan Brent, she was lovely. Well, I don’t know,
said Betty, you see our men have to work so hard to keep ahead of other men and of course their
wives keep prodding them to get ahead and make more money. What should we do now, said
Anne. John said he hoped I’d have an interesting trip but I’d find America much the same
everywhere, it was all small-townish now. ‘Something’s gone out of this country,’ said Ben, ‘in the
old days a man could say, I don’t like this place and I don’t like my neighbours, I’m going to move
on somewheres else.’ ‘Now you see American life, this is how it is,’ said Betty. ‘What do you say we
go over to Joan Brent?’ said Ben. ‘I’m hungry,’ said John, ‘what do we have in the ice-box, Anne?’
Anne said she would soon fix something and quickly produced an excellent meal. ‘What shall we
do after?’ said Betty while we ate it. Ten dollars a day for an odd job man, said John, and forty
dollars a week for the least little bit of a girl to do your letters, it was murder. ‘Shall we make
ourselves fancy and go over to Joan Brent?’ said Anne. ‘Yes, do that,’ said John. But we did not.
These glimpses of the American mind were much in my mind when I started westward next day. I
had seen old America from the deep South to New England, with New York thrust into it like the
later comers’ bridgehead; now everything that lay before me was new. In the original seaboard,
about three hundred miles broad, between the Atlantic and the Alleghanies, something that seemed
permanent was begun in 1607 and by 1750 was a strong and vigorous civilization. Beyond those
westward mountains lay a huge wilderness, claimed by France but containing only a fistful of
French priests, trappers and voyageurs. Then in 1763 France ceded to England all the land between
those mountains and the Mississippi, but simultaneously England forbade the colonists to cross the
mountain barrier; the Indians were to be left their forests, plains and buffalo. After the War of
Independence the Americans cancelled the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and began to move over the
mountains to the Mississippi. Then in 1803 Napoleon, hoping to embarrass the English, sold the
rest of the huge valley, westward from the Mississippi to the Rockies, to the Republic for 15
million dollars. ‘Happy Austria, while others make war, you marry!’ America grew in a different
manner, acquiring Old Man River’s huge domains for the price of songs.
Thus began that overland migration which history cannot match. At the start, around 1750, eighty
thousand Germans and fifty thousand Scottish-Irish added themselves to the English population, so
that, although they were smoothly absorbed, a distinctively ‘American’ personality began to form. It
continued in that shape for a hundred years, until the westward-moving frontier halted in 1890. Into
the subdued half-continent then poured the masses of the new immigration, quite different in
character, and the future of the Republic, not its population, was cast into the melting-pot.
That is the shape of the American enigma today. There is no more escape to open spaces. Escape,
from social, economic or religious barriers, was always a motive in all emigrations, to America, or
across America. The first colonists resented the King and the Church and built up a fine civilization
with a powerful upper class. Then, within it, groups took shape which resented those successful
ones and simply moved out, seeking freedom in the West. That vent is closed now. The social and
political conflict is a static one. Later newcomers press against men who cannot any longer say, ‘I
don’t like this place or my neighbours, I’ll go somewheres else.’
The young American today has to stand and fight, or stand and yield, in New York or Los Angeles,
Saint Louis or Detroit. If he is of the older stock he is hard pressed by the later claimants to the
American inheritance. A new America is rising round him, nowhere much more than a hundred
years old. Eager to see it, I went West.
*** Chapter Seventeen
CHASING THE SUN
I set out on the road to Baltimore, turned westward across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,
and even saw a lonesome pine; the musical ride continued. This range is part of the high wall which
was the inland limit of Colonial America for 150 years. Like the Pioneers’ Village at Salem, it
plainly tells the tale of immense obstacles overcome; the transmontane adventure must have been
nearly as hard as the initial coastal landing. It is a country of wild grandeur now tamed; wooded
mountainside, rolling downland and splendid farmland; streams cascading into green or steel-blue
lakes; rivers muddy, sandy or red as rust. The swelling green breakers of the forests stretch
endlessly and the soil looks good enough to eat.
Even today, in a car, the endless ups-and-downs and hairpin-bends are exhausting. To pioneers
afoot this trail through almost impenetrable forests, where only wild men and beasts lived, must
have been hard indeed. Beyond these mountains French and Indian names appear among the
English ones, for the Jesuits and the French earlier penetrated these fastnesses by water from the
north. Like the Spanish, they interbred cheerfully, and the Indians later mourned the French: ‘They
called us children and we found them fathers. We lived like brethren in the same lodge, and we had
always wherewithal to clothe us. Seven generations of men have passed away, and we have not
forgotten it. Just, very just, were they towards us.’
The Anglo-Saxons when they came did not, and still do not interbreed in the rule. These deep
instincts in peoples are beyond easy understanding, and interbreeding and aloofness alike should he
above criticism by any who have not lived with such matters. A curious thing in America is that,
although the ’squaw man’ was despised, Indian blood today is proudly owned by its possessors,
whereas negro blood is not, any more than white man’s blood is by the prouder negroes.
In these lands the stranger begins to feel the immensity of America, and never again loses the
accompanying sense of it. By way of complete contrast, between America of the wilderness and
America tamed, I listened as I went along to soap-opera in the car-radio. Soap-opera (to which the
housewife listens while she works, unless she can find a coloured girl to come in daily for twenty
dollars a week) is in the line of Lyceum melodrama and continues like The Perils of Pauline; all
seems lost at the end of each instalment, but the next instalment brings salvation and if the story
ever ends it ends well, after true love has run through a haunted house of mishap, where villains,
heroes, spies and jealous rivals pop up incessantly.
In this episode Gloria, in a motor car, confided her troubles to a sympathetic girl friend. She was to
have been married the day before to Jim when a telegram announced the arrival of Jim’s wife
Helen, thought to be dead, and daughter Jane. The sympathetic friend said, ‘All will come right for
Jim loves you,’ and Gloria said, ‘No, no, it cannot be, I cannot come between a man and his wife
and child’; tears. Then, as the car drove on, Gloria suddenly said, ‘Molly, you didn’t … you didn’t
bring me here on purpose?’ Molly, all unwitting, had driven past the Home where Gloria now
would be honeymooning with Jim, but for yesterday’s mischance. Then the microphone switched to
Jim, at an airport, awaiting lost Helen. He, too, had a sympathetic friend, who said, ‘All will come
right, Jim,’ but Jim said, ‘No, no, Will, it cannot be, I love Gloria but Helen will never set me free.’
The scene switched again to the incoming aeroplane, where Helen sat in front of a Mysterious Male
Passenger, who had The Papers; Helen, clearly, was a grand girl after all and only pretended to be
dead in order to trail this spy and get The Papers. The machine landed, Helen rose, the Mysterious
Male Passenger produced a revolver, and this thrilling serial, which comes to you by courtesy of
Consolidated Popcorn, will be continued tomorrow …
Absorbed, I ran into Columbus, Ohio, while I listened and was so much intimidated by the mass of
life, lights and traffic that I went on through, hoping to find a tourist-camp. The traveller on this
road continually outruns the sun and has to adjust his watch, and I was glad of these gained hours in
the nightly struggle for a lodging. The roadside was thick with pretty settlements of one-room
cabins, cottages and chalets, and innumerable bright signs beckoned me to this Motel or that
Tourist Park. My reception at each, however, was cool. I soon learned another lesson of the
American highway. These comfortable little places are usually made for two; the price is ‘per
person’; and the proprietors do not like single guests unless they will pay the double price.
Americans told me later that their function is primarily romantic, if that is the word. Thus the lot of
the lone traveller is hard and only at a rather inferior camp far out of town could I get a cabin.
Then, needing food, I walked back some distance between the luminous encampments, looking for
a place with chairs and tables. I found one called La Rumba, which sparklingly advertised cheap
meals. Inside two mature ladies leaned against a long bar and chatted to an elderly barman whom
they called Pop. Another man in shirt-sleeves wandered about and I asked him if I could eat. He
seemed taken aback but a negress, aged but with skirts above her knees and frizzed hair, scampered
up and said, ‘Oh, yas, yas, yas, oh shoh you kin eat, oh yas, die gempmun kin eat’ and vanished,
whereon the shirt-sleeved man said, ‘I guess she’s crazy’, and vanished too. I asked Pop for some
fried chicken, which seemed to perplex him, and then saw that one of the ladies at the bar, fiftyish
and buxom, looked at me with a curious, leery, half-compassionate smile. ‘I’ll get it for you,’ she
suddenly said and also disappeared.
I sat down to wait, wondering whether I ought to stick some of the drinking-straws in my hair. A
really enormous woman in red sweater and red slacks passed through, followed by the negress
carrying a wastepaper basket, and called to Pop, ‘Give Mary a bottle of beer’. Then she turned, saw
the negress, and cried furiously. ‘Gorn out of it, Mary, follering me round with that dirdy old
basket, gorn out of it, will yer, gorn,’ whereon Mary scampered crazily out to regions unknown and
Pop tried to climb into the cash register. Then the buxom woman brought my meal, calling into
empty space, ‘Mary, go and find the show girl, her dinner’s ready’; she put it on my table with a
strange, significant simper.
I felt an uneasy curiosity invade me, as in a troubled dream, about what might happen next; it all
reminded me of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Then, as at a wand’s touch, the empty place filled with
buxom, bustling waitresses, all of the forty-fifty generation, who busied themselves with the vacant
tables as if these were crowded with guests. At the next table appeared a beautiful woman in a
backless and strapless gown, and then Mary re-emerged from some depths, leading a massive
creature whom I supposed to be the show girl; I could not guess what she was to show but if by
chance it were herself, it would be much. She joined the other beauty and they talked volubly in
some tongue unknown to me while they ate quantities of spring onions. Meanwhile my plump
attendant watched me from a doorway, still with a meaning smile, as if she knew something
unknown to me.
I may have been overtired; I could not get the feel of the place and my hair showed a tendency to
rise. Why were all the waitresses like retired Floradora girls? Who were the two women next to
me? Had I been in Berlin in 1930 I should have said Animierdamen, ladies whose duty is to remind
gentlemen guests of their duty to the house. But all those spring onions!
It was unaccountable. What high revelry would follow in this strange Place? I asked the motherly
but enigmatic woman as she took my plate. ‘What goes on here?’ I said, in the vernacular, ‘do you
have a floor show or somep’n?’ ‘Sure,’ she said, again with that odd look, ‘it gets pretty busy here
later. Stick around!’ She went away and at the door turned with the most baffling leer of all. ‘Stick
around!’ she said.
Who knows what I might have seen had I stuck around! I never knew a more unusual start to a
night’s entertainment. But I went, while mysterious glances followed me, and paused only at the
door to watch a newcomer drop many coins in a gaming-machine. I have sometimes found profit in
inserting just one coin after such an optimist has filled the machine. He achieved three pineapples,
or something stated to pay a good return. The machine welshed. He called Pop, who came over and
said, ‘oh, izzatso, h’m, well if that ain’t the darndest thing, I guess that’s funny too, because these
machines had a card on ‘em last night saying they wuz for amusement only.’ Without demur the
guest humbly departed.
Evidently life went new ways on these highways, I thought. I strolled back to my cabin and bed.
‘R.R.noises’ woke me several times, but between them I slept soundly and woke fresh as the lark.
*** Chapter Eighteen
MIDDLE EMPIRE
I ran with the sun deep into the Middle West, the third section of the Republic. First were the South
and the North; then the white men conquered the Middle West; and last of all the Far West. This
green central empire includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, and
its verdant tide laps also into the eastern parts of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas; then the arid
lands begin. Through it, north to south, goes 0l’ Man River, who knows at least one thing; that he
makes these the most abundant foodlands of the earth.
Behind me lay places called Winchester, Romney, London, Brighton and Richmond. I came to
other names: Athens, Troy, South Vienna, New Lisbon. Here the mellow civilization of the South
and New England dwindled away. All the towns were new, and only in their residential quarters
was the older influence still visible. The white wooden houses, and the farms, retained the English
shape of the earlier coastal ones. The people of the countryside, too, kept the character of the earlier
Americans, for their forefathers, who tamed this land, were of the old stock. The cities belonged to
New York; the new immigration concentrated in these rising industrial centres and gave them its
imprint. In 1920 three-fourths of the Americans born outside America lived in the cities, and these
great population-centres, stretching westward from New York, now dominate American politics.
On this road were no more villages or slowly-ripened towns, only the small town, repetitive and
alike, set in country that awed me by its sheer vegetable gusto. I never saw anything like it in size
or fertility, an endless expanse of superb farm country with the young corn growing like a green
velvet carpet in thirty- and forty-acre and bigger fields, fringes of great trees around, and fine farm-
buildings, freshly-painted and well maintained. Through it all went the massive trans-continental
highway, which from end to end spans a distance nearly as great as that which separated the
original settlers from America itself. The going is easy now; the worst remaining peril is engine
trouble, not Injun trouble; the high road of Manifest Destiny is clear, though not yet its destination.
From this great food-bowl half the planet might be fed, but for governments. The whole story of the
human race seems to be that of the continuing struggle of men to arrest the disease of power in
those who govern them. The constant tendency, always and everywhere, is towards more
government, or despotism. The founders of the Republic knew that. Jefferson was ‘not a friend to a
very energetic government’; he favoured ‘a wise and frugal government’ which should preserve
order among the inhabitants ‘but shall otherwise leave them free to regulate their own pursuits of
industry and improvement and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned’. In
1950, in America as in England, this prudent principle was being forgotten. For eighteen years,
since President Roosevelt’s inception, the steady trend was towards more government, higher taxes,
less freedom. The first colonists fled from and the early Republic abhorred that process;
Englishmen in England fought it until it was dressed in the sheepskin of ‘Social security’, when they
forgot its wolfish inhabitant.
This farm belt was heavy with riches, natural and acquired. The corn was the real gold of America,
a lode which cannot peter out while the Mississippi flows. The wealth of two wars also flowed into
it and its farmers must be the richest in the world. They have fine homesteads, silos and fences, the
best cars, the latest farm equipment, and fortunes in the banks. Many of them were ‘busted’ in 1913
and deserve good times.
They are at present protected against bad ones; seasons, markets, crop failures, glut are all one to
them. Though they naturally make hay while the sun shines they distrust this unique security. It
began with President Roosevelt, whose advisers discovered the theory of deficit-spending. Public
debt, they said, was owed by the public to itself; the length of the string of noughts was immaterial
because they all amounted to nothing. The theory has yet to be tested to the sweet or bitter end. The
political motive for it is to anchor the farm and labour vote to one party, leaving only a decisive
floating vote, which is to be had by anyone who declaims against racial discrimination. The cost of
government now takes about a quarter of all income (in England, about forty per cent).
For the present the Middle West farmers live in an Alician wonderland. The government buys all
products at a guaranteed price. If the farmer can get a better one he merely returns the public
money, on which he pays no interest. One farmer sold the government 160,000 pounds of potatoes
at $1.46 a hundredweight; it had already accumulated fifty million bushels of potatoes which it
could not sell or give away and he bought back the same quantity, for cattle feed, at one cent a
hundredweight. A governmental order to reduce the potato acreage merely moved farmers to shift
the rows closer together. Meanwhile brokers imported millions of bushels of Canadian potatoes
which, after paying duty, were still cheaper than the subsidized homegrown ones, which continued
to pour into government stores. Billions of dried eggs were laid away in caves and warehouses until
the government was forced to give them away, with twenty-one million dollars’ worth of dried
milk, to schools and welfare institutions. Twenty-five million pounds of cheese and a million
pounds of butter, which the law forbade from cheap sale, remained to be got rid of. The problem of
storing all this food became greater than that of producing it. The government announced that if its
hoard were divided among a million people each would receive a daily egg for seven years, two
pounds of potatoes a day for over three years, and a quart of skim milk every day for more than two
years. The bill for all this was contained in the string of noughts, said to be worthless. However, the
consumer paid, twice over, once in taxation and once in high prices.
When I was in America the government was spending about one million dollars daily to keep dairy
products off the market and their prices up.
This was Socialist planning on horseback, paradoxically pursued by a president who was a Mid-
Westerner and bred to dislike the very word, Socialism. The Middle West farmer did not complain,
but flew to the beaches of Hawaii or transported his Cadillac to Europe for a tour there.
Nevertheless, ‘I don’t think this is good business for the government’, said one, ‘but a man’s foolish
not to take advantage of it. My advice to the people in Washington is to stop spending so much
money. They don’t spend it; they squander it. The farmers figure if they squander for everybody we
might as well get our share because we’ll all have to make it up one of these days. I’ve been looking
for something to happen before. It won’t happen this year but it will come – it always has.’
I went through Indianapolis, chaotic with railroad tracks, and came at dusk into Saint Louis. Here,
in the heart of the green empire, was the new America of the new cities and the new immigration.
Presumably Lord Bryce, in his American Commonwealth, meant these new cities when he said the
city was the one conspicuous failure of American democracy (for the older ones of the South and
New England hardly deserve the criticism). In these later cities, says the Short History, ‘corruption
was most unashamed’, ‘rings’ and ‘halls’ ‘fattened on the public treasury, seeing public franchises,
exploiting crime and vice. Here the saloon and the house of ill-fame were protected and encouraged
by the politician and the interests who profited by them, while criminal gangs went their way
undisturbed by police interference’. That referred to the turn of the century but is still apt.
I came into Saint Louis by a long skyway, a stilted road which marched over slums, allotments,
rivers and factories. All around cars heeded or choo-choos puffed along other skyways. The mass
of signs alone had the effect of constant noise; they clamoured at the traveller ‘No parking at any
time’, ‘15 minutes parking during the day’, ‘No left turn’, ‘No right turn’, ‘No U-turn’, ‘Stop-sign
ahead’, and innumerable other orders, one or more to each lamp-post. Rush-hour seems to continue
all day, but if you come or go in the morning or evening you find that even this pace can be
doubled and trebled. At night all the flickering, winking, jig-a-jigging, zig-zagging signs spring out.
Many people say they can gain no picture of America unless they go there. I found that these new
cities made no clear impression on my mind which I could transfer to paper, partly because they are
so much alike in their criss-cross design, and partly because their physical shape swims and their
chief trait is a frenetic human unease, something unportrayable.
Yet with all this hurrying they repeatedly put me in mind of a slower movement, the old lockstep,
which men once performed in prison yards, each man’s arm on the shoulder of him in front. They
reminded me, too, of a German film of the nineteen-twenties, called Metropolis. It was (I then
thought) a morbid and stupid glimpse of some future world, where beings in the shape of men were
brought up from dungeons to perform their toil and brought back when it was done; and these
masses of faceless serfs moved, hundreds together, with a slow tramp-tramp, shoulders bent and
heads bowed, to and from their task. For some unaccountable reason free men hastening about their
business now recalled to me those pictured companies of slaves in the toils, dragging their feet
towards a labour without reward or end.
Even Ol’ Man River, the tireless and bountiful, looked weary and drab at Saint Louis, as if he were
tired of living and scared of dying. I sought another cabin for the night. This is a strangely
impersonal business. A neon sign in the darkness says ‘Office’. Through a window you make
payment, receive a key, and learn which little cottage is yours. That is your only meeting with your
host. You sleep, usually, in a clean and comfortable little house; linen and towels are spotless; the
water in the shower is hot. On the wall may be a notice saying the proprietor ‘reserves the right to
have the State Police take you off the highway’ if anything is missing after you depart. When you
go you leave the key in the door and the transaction is complete; you drive away, a shadow
following earlier shadows, preceding later ones. The calling of mine host has changed.
Once more I looked for food, up and down the glittering road, and found a filling-station with a
café. The pleasant attendant had served a year with the occupation army in Germany. When I said I
knew Germany his eyes filled with reminiscent affection. ‘I wish I could see Germany again,’ he
said, ‘I wish I could live there. It’s the prettiest little country in the world.’
He only knew two countries, and America has, somewhere or other, every conceivable beauty of
nature, but I thought I understood him. He felt some lack in his own land. In Germany, and other
European countries, men built up during a thousand years and more a culture that cannot be mass-
produced or quickly reproduced. It is like wood or marble; put them in the hands of fine craftsmen
and let the centuries mellow their work, and beauty emerges. Europe was like that; the American
South and New England saw the beginnings of the same process; everywhere else in America are
the raw materials but they are still raw. The secret which was brought to the coastal colonies was
mislaid and has not until now been found again. This young man, I judge, missed that inheritance,
and I met several like him.
He was from California. Though no open spaces remain to conquer, America is full of people
moving around, to try something new somewhere else. I said I thought people lucky enough to be
born in California stayed there. Oh, he said, his wife was from this small place near Saint Louis and
pined for it, so he sold his place in California, rented his ‘veteran’s house’, and bought this place.
Did he like it? 0h, well enough; anyways, he’d give it a chance. He told me of his ‘kid sister’. She
was in films, a child star. Oh, I said, would I know her? He guessed not; she had outgrown
childhood and with it stardom, but she was going to get back in. At that she came in. I thought her
about eighteen.
She was a lovely girl, very much in command of herself, and her every movement and gesture were
clearly studied for ‘angle’ and effect. As her only film experience was in babyhood, I guessed that
she kept in training for the come-back. She liked talking about herself, she said she was in love and
was being thwarted by the young man’s mother, who was rich and a Quaker. ‘She won’t have me
because I’m not a Quaker and I haven’t a million dollars,’ she said, but ‘I’m going to get what I want,
anyway.’ ‘What do you mainly want?’ I said. ‘I want a contract, a swell house, a convertible and a
million bucks,’ she said, ‘I’ll make it, I’ve plenty time.’
‘How old are you?’ I said. ‘Thirteen,’ she said. She had the dawn freshness of the jeune fille en fleur
and the spirit of the time.
*** Chapter Nineteen
ON OIL AND TWISTERS
The flint-coloured skies opened and hurled thunder, lightning and rain on the land. This early-
morning storm was of American dimensions and I drove through it for two hours. The road was
like a river and the huge transcontinental trucks sped along it like seagoing craft, throwing up great
wings of water. American motor car manufacturers deliver their vehicles by road, four to a truck,
two on the engine-level and two on an upper story. These monsters commonly travel at fifty or
sixty miles an hour and a wreck of one of them, or of a Greyhound bus, is a formidable affair.
I was nearly half-way across the continent and until now the busy roadside life accompanied me; I
was never long out of sight of filling-stations, cabin-camps and trailer-camps. Some Americans
dislike both the cabin-camps, which are built to stay, and the trailer-camps, which are on wheels.
They think rootless communities are growing in them. The trailer-camps (England has nothing
more comparable than the caravan-camps of transient holiday-makers) tend to become fixed
settlements of homeless folk. For young people about to found a family the life may be easy, but
has disadvantages. It appeals to retired couples, of whom about a hundred thousand live in these
wheeled homes. They take them to the mountains in the summer heat and to Florida in the winter;
at the journey’s end they merely drive into a trailer-camp, plug in to water and electricity and are at
home. If a cottage and garden have peculiar joys, they seem not to miss these.
Along the road, so far, continued the countless signs of something for sale, especially ‘Antiques’,
‘Curios’ and ‘Hookwork rugs’. The American adores antiques. In the nature of things they are not
plentiful, and those chiefly displayed are old cartwheels, sledded baby-carriages, wheelback chairs.
As for hookwork, this was something genuine when the farmer’s wife occupied herself with various
kinds of work during long winter evenings. Today the bedspreads and rugs are everywhere alike
and similarly priced, to the odd cent, so that some enterprising mass-production factory in New
York may have moved into the business.
The conventions of courtesy changed as I went along. In the South I liked ‘Mah frend’ and ‘You
bet’, and hereabouts I liked ‘Hullo’ as a greeting and ‘Sure’ in reply to ‘Thank you’. ‘You’re welcome’
rang rather bogus, like ‘Don’t mention it’. ‘Come again’ and ‘Hurry back’, at leavetaking, depended
on the way they were said. They can be somewhat hollow forms. I stopped at a lonely roadside
shack for a cold drink. It was served by a young girl who seemed to have lost the power of speech;
some sorrow weighed on her. However, as I went out a mournful voice behind me said, ‘Hurry
back!’
I travelled across Missouri, along roads where masses of small tortoises stood bewildered, their
heads thrust out as who should say, ‘What next?’ I wondered if this were the origin of the phrase
’sticking your neck out’; anyway, many of them did not live to learn why a tortoise crosses a road. I
avoided them tenderly, but the highway was littered with the remains of unluckier ones, over which
the crows fought. The population began to thin out and the land to deteriorate. I ran into Kansas,
and for the first time in America came to a stretch of inferior country. There was a place called
Joplin that looked like a half-ruined film-set, originally put up for a Western. In the background
were pithead machinery and dumps that reminded me of Durham, and in the forlorn Main Street I
breakfasted among tired and taciturn truckers slumped over their food; their lives seem hard and
wearing for all the high pay.
In Oklahoma at last the roadside life ceased, and the green belt fell behind. Oklahoma has little
farmland. It is part of the High Plains, wide and flat. If you raise your arms they touch the sky and
if you spread them they reach the ends of the earth; I love this kind of country. As I ran into
Oklahoma the clouds cleared, too; it was a beautiful morning. I was glad of that because twisters
were about. I saw great trees overthrown, fields gashed as if by a gigantic bulldozer, and townships
where wooden houses were flattened or unroofed.
I was coming at last to spaces still open, where whirlwinds (here called twisters) are at home. They
seem to need great, flat expanses like these to develop their full force. It is like swinging a cat by its
tail; you must have room. Hills and mountains frustrate the wind, so that it cannot get into its
swing. But if it finds a place which is high and flat for several hundred miles it whips itself into a
mad, swirling frenzy, like a dancing dervish, and pirouettes along until it falls in a foaming fit. At
the height of its madness it twists the clouds into the shape of a top and spins along with
tremendous power, destroying or sucking up what lies in its path.
After a little while, when I saw heavy, low-lying clouds beginning to curl into ominous tails, I
wondered what steps a lonely traveller might take if he met a twister. I decided the best ones would
be towards the nearest ditch. In one a man would be least likely to be plucked up and dropped
several miles away (and the twister probably would not even be going in my direction). I drove
along with dotted lines leading from my eyes to the roadside. I realized that relatively few roads
have ditches; also the vastness and want of cover of Oklahoma were borne in on me.
Happily the twisting-tailed clouds dispersed. I ran into dingy country where the fields were weedy,
bethistled and fallow, and among sorry-looking houses, shacks and shanties beings of the Pore Jed
type listlessly glanced at a passing car. This was the kind of rural slum which recent writers have
presented as typical of America. Not far beyond it was a delightful little city, crisp, clean and bright
beside a broad blue river and beneath a wide blue sky: Tulsa. Here, at the end of the green empire,
were the beginnings of another one. Oil: seldom have three letters said so much, in mundane things.
If this land is poor, greater wealth lies beneath it than any farmer could grow or breed. Here the
derricks went marching over the land and thrust aside all that stood in their way; at their feet the
pumps, with a slow, rhythmic movement that again reminded me of the dehumanized masses in
that nightmare Metropolis, sucked up the oil for all the cars, locomotives, ships and aircraft.
Fifty miles farther on my way a woman stood at the wayside by a dilapidated, heavily-laden and
broken down car, and signalled to me. The wise rule in America is not to stop; the wayfarer who
needs help suffers for many hold-up men who have used this ruse. However, she was not young
and I stopped; an elderly man crawled out from under the car and asked me to drive his wife to
town for a tire.
‘Haven’t you a spare wheel?’ I asked as I drove her off. ‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘but we’re moving and we
have the car fully loaded and the spare is so old it just collapsed when we put it on and I told him
before we started to get a good spare but he always knows best and said it will hold until we make
Las Vegas and now we’re stuck.’ She paused for breath. ‘Ah, husbands!’ I said. ‘Are you from
Boston or England?’ she said immediately. ‘England,’ I said, ‘where are you from?’ ‘From Michigan,’
she said, ‘we heard Las Vegas was good so we just packed everything and came away.’ ‘You have
everything in that car?’ I said. ‘Yes, ‘ she said, ‘and aren’t these roads awful?’ (they seemed excellent
to me). ‘And aren’t the people dumb I asked a man on the-road how far the next town was and he
said he didn’t know and I found a signpost with the mileage just round the next corner there seems
to be a find-out-for-yourself spirit in these parts I hope New Mexico will be better I guess we’ll
have to go back to Michigan here’s a filling-station perhaps they have a tire.’
They had. Afterwards I met many people moving in this sudden, casual way. The reason is
apparently the vastness of the country; it offers changes of scene, climate and existence, at a road
journey’s end, comparable with those which an Englishman could only find oversea.
I came to Oklahoma City, sounded my horn outside a window marked ‘Office’ and arranged with a
male head which emerged from it to inhabit a cabin. I carried my bags across, took a shower and
was draped in a towel when an equally pleasant woman put her head in the door and said, ‘Are you
all right?’ ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘That’s good,’ she said, ‘did you take the cabin from my husband?’ ‘Well,
from someone male,’ I said. ‘That’s him, she said with a friendly smile, ‘I wonder where that bugger
is now,’ and she withdrew.
I wandered into the thickening habitations until I found a restaurant which was separated only by a
roadway from the State Capitol, the typical domed building of a State parliament. All round the
restaurant King Oil held court; his derricks and pumps invaded the gardens of small houses, the
yards of filling-stations and cabin-camps – everything. Outside the window where I ate men were
actually drilling; I could have leaned out and touched the great steel needle as it revolved, and I
learned from them that they were already a mile deep. No oil-towers stood in the actual roadway,
but they were in the lawns of the Capitol building and right up to its walls; at one more stride these
long-legged monsters would mount its very steps. I tried to picture oil-derricks on Parliament
Green and pumps at work in the courtyard of the House of Commons. The supremacy of oil was
made vividly clear here. I watched the pumps slowly see-sawing in the garden, perhaps an eighth of
an acre, of a little house. Its owner counted as a lucky man, for to strike oil, or have it found under
your lawn, is about the only honest way remaining to a great fortune, by American standards.
In the dusk I sat on a bench outside my cabin, on a high bank by the high road. The roaring trucks
dashed by, each with its array of red and yellow lights. This traffic never ceases, night or day.
During a lull in it a single tiny light flitted round me and came to rest on the seat. I thought of a
garden in Durban and fireflies there; it was fun to catch them and put them in the children’s hands.
*** Chapter Twenty
THE ROAD TO SANTA FÉ
On my way out of Oklahoma City one morning I stopped at a supermarket by a bridge emblazoned
with the name ‘Santa Fé’ and as I bought my daily carton of milk and packet of biscuits pictured
cuirassed and helmeted Spanish conquerors making this trail, 350 years ago, as they sought to
fortify their far-stretched northern frontier line. The Spaniards honoured God where they
encamped, and bequeathed to the American Republic a host of names, Las Cruces, San Antonio,
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Fé and others, which chime down the centuries like mission
bells.
I went on through Oklahoma, once Indian land. American friends, when they heard I was going that
way (my route was chosen by chance) seemed puzzled and almost disapproving, as if they thought
I could do better. Their picture of Oklahoma was not the golden one of the musical comedy and I
thought it weighed on them a little. In these Oklahoman lands was written what seemed, but that
God finally disposes, to be the end of the Red Man’s story. Pressed back ever farther westward and
crowded ever closer together, after the young Republic revoked the King’s protective order of 1763,
the Red Indians seemed to find a last place which they could call their own here, between Texas
and Kansas. In 1835 President Jackson said a barrier had at length been raised behind which the
Indian would be protected and that ‘the pledge of the United States has been given by Congress that
the country destined for the residence of this people shall be for ever “secured and guaranteed to
them”‘. Time showed that the white rancher or homesteader could no more be stopped from taking
the whole country, from coast to coast, than today’s oil-man can be prevented from drilling where
he thinks profitable. In 1899 the last safeguards collapsed; the whole territory was opened for
settlement and the flood poured in, over all Indian claims or rights.
The Americans, as they completed a unique piece of empire-making, retained a fierce dislike of
‘imperialism’, especially ‘British Imperialism’ (which would have protected the Indian). Through the
whole process, too, continued ‘the American dream’, of which Americans frequently speak. The
Epic explains it in the words of Samuel Adams: ‘The natural liberty of man is to be set free from
any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will of any superior power on earth, and not to
be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.’ Yet
part of ‘the dream’, the Epic also says, is ‘a remarkable feeling of sympathy for the “underdog” of
any sort, economic, political, social’. It is an emotional thing ‘which cannot be counted upon when
in conflict with other emotions or desires’ as has been exemplified in the case of our treatment of
our own Indians; the plight of the Red Man, for instance, left the Slavery Abolitionists cold, though
they were willing to pull down the whole fabric of America, if need be, to free the black man’.
These contrarieties (which continue in the Republic today) are not peculiar to Americans. History
appears to be a crazy mosaic of such paradoxes, of which the Palestine Arabs are the latest victims.
However, Manifest Destiny has not yet had the last word. For nearly three centuries the Red Indian
was driven out or herded together in lands too small or arid to support him, and his numbers
dwindled. He appeared to have chosen the primitive way of life he knew, and extinction, rather
than the white man’s civilization. Could he have argued the matter, he might have claimed that the
real values of civilization may be as well upheld in a primitive system as in an advanced one, and
that a mechanical civilization which abandoned those values would be as barbaric as any primitive
one; today, he might adduce the Nuremberg Trials and the atom bomb in support. Anyway, he
would not yield, and was dying out. Then, as this century began, he started to multiply again and
now his numbers, in his cramped and barren lands, are increasing, while he has kept intact his tribal
languages, rites and customs. Meanwhile, the white man’s overgrazing and overcropping have
weakened the prairie the Indian left behind, and the land might be desolate now but for the
discovery of oil; the vanished herds of buffalo may have taken with them much fertility. These are
the lands of the ‘dust-bowl’, where the swirling wind wolfishly tears away earth’s flesh, the topsoil,
and drives it along in a gritty storm that darkens the sky, thus intimating that, as in the South
African Karoo, the desert is not far away and is ready to invade, if allowed.
The road ran through a countryside different from any I had met. Sometimes I saw no human being
or habitation for fifty miles and drove that far without changing gear, speed or steering. I was often
surprised by the Powerlessness of America until I read, in the Epic, ‘The first few years of any
settlement are years of grinding toil, and while the very foundations are being laid there is no
thought or energy to be devoted to such amenities as flower gardens, trees, or even mere neatness
and cleanliness out of doors. Such things have to come later; and little by little, as people got used
to moving on, to devoting themselves to the quickest exploitation of every settlement and
neighbourhood, they came to care less and less about general appearances. Like intellectual culture,
such things came to be considered foolish ornament for those who were effeminate in taste and not
up to a real man’s work.’
Now, as I approached Texas, I saw a great mass of roadside flowers, all craning their necks towards
me as if to say, ‘Look who’s coming!’ In fact they saluted the rising sun, over my shoulder, but I
liked to think of them as a dainty reception committee, for I recognized these old friends at once,
though I never saw them before. My musical education overtook me again; I could not mistake that
dark, intent glance. I remembered the leave days in London in 1918 when I first heard of them (I
think Beatrice Lillie sang the song). More vividly I recalled evenings in 1940 and a girl at my side
in the blue car who, as we turned towards London in time to beat the first air-raid warning, sang
‘I’m going back to the shack where the black-eyed Susans grow’. I stopped and picked one for her.
Then, suddenly, a roadside notice said ‘Texas’; it brought a sudden interlude of brilliant green
pastures and wheatlands, and then wide prairie again, with the road clear to see for a dozen miles
ahead. It was like riding on the roof of the world. I saw hardly any cattle, no cowhands and no man
on a horse, though a lad or two in high-heeled boots and, about the lonely homesteads, women in
scuttle-bonnets.
I came at length to Amarillo, a little shambles of a place, half-way between a Wild West township
and the typical American small town, with quantities of the old one-storied saloons, stores and
shacks. No horses were tethered there, but the men, as they drove their cars, looked like
cowpunchers, lean, lithe and lanky. They moved with a slow, equine grace, and their legs, in tight
blue jeans, were like used drinking-straws.
The twister just beat me to Amarillo. Twenty great box-cars lay where they were blown from the
railroad tracks and some fifty houses were destroyed or damaged. I posted my Black-eyed Susan to
my companion of those London evenings in 1940, then found a cabin and tilted myself on a chair
outside it to watch night fall over this little town in the heart of Texas. A red-golden flame burned
upward into the still air, and lent its ragged silhouette beauty at this hour. It commemorated no
unknown warrior. The townsfolk had been complaining of the smell given off by the waste-gases
from oil refineries; now these were pumped into a slender vertical rod and burned off in it, so that
from its tip a spearlike beacon flamed into the Texan night.
*** Chapter Twenty-One
WHITE SANDS
On a grey and chilly morning I drove towards the Old South West, once wild and perhaps not much
tamed now; for here twentieth-century man has done wilder things than the Wild West ever
imagined; and despite the superb roads and stupendous Boulder Dam nature gives out an
oppressive feeling of stored reserves of wrath. When the American Republic acquired this
enormous region, where little grew, it was like a gambler who cannot fail at any throw; hence the
immense optimism of last century. In the 1840s Mexico was invaded, President Polk using words
later to become celebrated: ‘Our patience is exhausted.’ In 1848 Texas to the Rio Grande, New
Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California and much of Colorado were gained for fifteen million
dollars! ‘Even the plunder of Cortez paled in comparison,’ says the Epic; and almost at once the arid
soil of the third empire yielded a crop of gold that dazzled the world.
To the coastal civilization and the fertile Middle West was added this new realm of gold, silver and,
later, oil.
The rising road ran on through sandy soil and scrub. What would the story of this new empire have
been, but for gold and oil? It looked good for little that grows or grazes, but had the especial beauty
of vastness below a great sweep of sky; in such places the earth is merely background, a flat platter
on which the blue mould of heaven lies heaped, with a few dabs of white cloud for cream. The free
and boundless prairie no longer exists; somebody owns or has enclosed it all and beside the road
runs the inescapable wire. Neither man nor beast moved until I came suddenly on a little post-
office-filling-station on the top of nowhere. A big, genial man conducted it, a former State Trooper
from green and populous Illinois. This was the life, he said; he loved this high solitude.
Then vegetation and soil ceased and I rode up bare mountains, not expecting to see green things
again until I reached California. Surprisingly, when I topped the range I came down into an
enchanted bowl between the mountains, verdant, thick with orchards and fields. Here were
Mexican Indians in adobe houses, who grew fruit, and all along the winding valley road their
booths offered Cherry Cider or Mountain Apple Cider. As I climbed out of the green bowl again
orchards gave way to fir-forests, which reached to the topmost peak of the enclosing wall; between
the firs I saw a jagged snowcap. This was like Austria, and was a reservation of the Apache
Indians, a tribe once so noted for ferocity that the criminals of Paris took their name. Now the
remnant of them lived in their 400,000-acre reservation, hidden in mountains, with their dreams of
bygone freedom. A few moved about between the firs and looked like kraalsmen in Africa.
I came to the top of the green wall and another startling transformation: suddenly everything that
lay beyond was bare and lifeless again. The mountains fell to a plain and beyond it rose more
mountains, with huge snowdrifts, glistening in the sun, at their feet. I drove towards them; they
looked about five miles away. Ninety minutes later I still drove towards them. Slowly I came
towards that gleaming, undulating sea of what seemed to be the purest driven snow. I knew it could
not be that. When I reached it I found it was an enormous stretch of crystallized gypsum, called
White Sands.
I realized where I was. Hereabouts the first atom bomb was exploded; a hundred years after
acquiring these wild wastes the Republic found a use for them. Here the scientists continued their
mole-like burrowing into the mountain of God’s mysteries, and threw up a small hump. (Arizona,
next door, contains the enormous crater made by a meteor in dark ages past and Russia is said to
contain a much bigger one, made in 1916. Until now the universe, in its desultory bombardment of
the planet earth, has chosen waste places for targets. Should it ever select a populous one, that
might restore proportion to the current debate about atomic annihilation.)
These wastes are ‘the most important spot in the world today’, according to a Mr. David Lilienthal,
who supervised atomic affairs when I was in America. The statement is debatable (Rome,
Canterbury or Mecca might yet prove important) but is typical of the day in America, where public
men for many years have tended to discount the notion of any power higher than man’s, whereas
the Founding Fathers of the Republic emphatically acknowledged another authority. Benjamin
Franklin urged at an early Convention of the Republic that each session begin with prayer: ‘I have
lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God
governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it
possible that an empire can rise without His aid?’
The first atomic bombs, dropped on the Japanese, were made here in New Mexico. The military
leaders vindicated the calling of arms by opposing the deed, which was ordered by political leaders
surrounded by mysterious advisers. Admiral William D. Leahy (who was personal Chief of Staff to
the two presidents concerned, Messrs. Roosevelt and Truman) said in his book published in 1950
that when the bomb was used against Japanese civilians the Japanese armies were already defeated
and ready to surrender (the British commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten, earlier said the same),
and declared that by using it in that way the Republic adopted the ethical standard common to
barbarians of the dark ages. The bomb in truth harmed the Americans and British more than the
Japanese, for it robbed them of their heritage, their hitherto valid faith that they were peoples on a
higher level of humanity, which they fought to preserve.
The true reason for its use emerged when that war ended; it was intended to blackmail the peoples
who produced it into surrender. An organized clamour was raised in America (and England) that
the atom bomb was demonstrably the unanswerable weapon (in military use, it was but one more
explosive projectile); that America and the remnant of Europe were only safe while America alone
‘had it’; and that when ‘the others had it’ annihilation awaited all. Salvation could only be had
through ‘a world government’; in other words, national survival, gained through two wars, must at
once be surrendered.
This intimidation-to-an-end was carried to great lengths. Ten, twenty, a hundred million Americans
would be killed at one blow! American public resistance to such incitements and excitements is
weakened by long immunity from explosives on American soil (the unknown devil is always worse
than the known one) and by the native tendency towards violent emotional extremes. Commercial
concerns began to build atom-bomb retreats, provendered for siege; uneasy folk sought homes in
Arizona; small-town boosters sold shelter in the Ozarks or caves in the Dakotas. One young man,
proudly calling himself the first atom-bomb refugee, built a stone house in a Rocky mountainside,
which he called Atom Haven.
All this was foolish for three reasons. First, the Republic remained militarily invulnerable between
two oceans, save conceivably for an odd bomb or two. Second, the danger to it was from within,
not without; from underground, not from overhead. Thirdly, ‘the others’ (that is in effect, the
Communist Empire) already ‘had’ the bomb.
Clear heads knew that if the Republic were destroyed it would not be by atom-bombing; that kind
of destruction was more likely to fall on what remained of Europe and on the British Island.
General Leslie Groves (who was in charge of atomic development until it was entrusted to civilian
hands) said, ‘As far as the two larger antagonists would be concerned, I cannot see that they would
come to grips … Both sides would probably avoid it of necessity. It would be difficult, anyway, and
more effort than it would be worth for us. We should have to rely on heavy bombing, or the atomic
bomb, for our defences.’
This forecast, of a war in which ‘the two larger antagonists’ (General Groves means America and
the Communist Empire) would ‘not come to grips’ might prove the true one. It would mean that
they would compete against each other with atom or other bombs in that part of Europe still
relatively free and relatively undestroyed. That the Third War, or more accurately the third
instalment of the Twentieth-Century War, would take this shape was certain, saving some
intervention by God, from the moment President Roosevelt unaccountably agreed that the
Communist Empire should advance to the middle of Europe and the American and British armies
in the other half of it were dispersed. It would continue what plainly emerges as the secret pattern
of the First and Second Wars: that of destroying Christian Europe, reducing it to serfdom, and
setting up a pagan World State on its ruins. It is impossible to believe that a Third War would
reverse that process; the change for the better can only come when a new and different generation
of political leaders grows up and of that no sign yet offers.
Final salvation only lies in such different leaders, for ones of the present stamp could continue to
convert military victory into defeat. England’s physical survival in such a third conflict would again
depend more on a few men at the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry than on any politicians,
and if it were achieved could be endangered again at the fighting’s end by the political leaders.
However, it is the first thing to work and hope for. A heroic figure of the Second War who did not
deeply impinge on the public mind was Lord Dowding. If he had yielded to enormous pressure and
sent the last twenty-five British fighter squadrons to France in May 1940 the British island would
have been lost without a Battle of Britain. This saving act (Mr. Churchill calls it ‘an example of
genius in the art of war’) was the culminating one of patient, unknown labour spread over many
years; the quality of the surviving British fighters proved as decisive as their disposition. On such
men in the Services future survival would again turn; the atom bomb is not unanswerable.
In America, although the facts were known in competent places, the oracles of annihilation for
years continued the cult of doom in their efforts to install a world directorate. That the Communist
Empire already ‘had the bomb’ can hardly have been in doubt from the moment of the Canadian
Prime Minister’s disclosures to Mr. Truman (and Mr. Attlee) in 1945. In America recurrent, though
episodic, exposures revealed the delivery of atomic materials to the Communist Empire, or the theft
of such by its agents, planted in these New Mexican establishments, and the presence of its spies in
all public departments. As in England, the whole process was never revealed to the public; each
separate disclosure was the work of individuals who delved into a morass.
Then, in 1949, the seismographs recorded an atomic explosion in inner Russia, and President
Truman announced that the Communist Empire ‘had the bomb’. Mr. Molotoff and Marshal
Voroshiloff publicly confirmed this, remarking contemptuously that they were not alarmed by
others’ atomic weapons. The ’secrets’, thus lost, were American and British. The initial research
work was British; after America entered the war Mr. Churchill agreed that its results should be
passed to America and further development of the bomb be left to it. From that point (at which the
wastes through which I now travelled became, in the opinion I have quoted, ‘the most important
spot in the world’) the ’secrets’ seem to have been more accessible to the Soviet Empire than to their
British initiators. British observers were not allowed to visit the newer American plants, but these,
as events have shown, were permeated by Communist agents, so that the ’secrets’ began to travel
towards the Soviet State and behind the Urals another ‘important spot’ took shape. For years all
warnings about this state of affairs were ignored. General Groves, the first military chief of atomic
development, testified that espionage was conducted on a great scale, but said a presidential order
debarred him from particularizing about it. Thus some doubt seemed to attach to Mr. Churchill’s
continued opinion (in March 1950) that ‘We have no other overall effective shield at the present
time from mortal danger than the atom bomb in the possession, thank God, of the United States of
America’. Many American writers refer to the ’strange power’ which constantly hindered
investigation and exposure; whatever it is, it continues powerful today.
Mr. Churchill’s statement was made some months after President Truman’s announcement that the
Communist Empire ‘had the bomb’. Americans in the mass still had no true idea of the extent of
Communist penetration in their affairs. That began with the changes made in established usage by
highly-powered politicians during wartime. In America, as in England, the wartime status of
‘enemy alien’ was cancelled by stroke of pen, and all safeguards with it. Any who claimed to be
‘friendly aliens’ or ‘refugees from Hitlerist oppression’ could, on that mere assertion, be admitted to
any place at all. The whole apparatus of security was riddled like a target by a sudden burst of
machine-gun fire. In America, a still more perilous sequel was the transference of all atomic
matters from military to civilian control.
After the belated announcement that the Communist Empire ‘had the bomb’, the prophets of
extermination in America were left voiceless for an instant, but quickly discovered an even more
unanswerable weapon. The hydrogen bomb would not only destroy mankind but the very planet -
unless the planet submitted to universal government. Professor Einstein appeared on a television
screen to declare that this bomb would bring ‘annihilation of any life on earth within the range of
technical possibilities’; an American scientist told Americans that it would be twenty thousand
times more destructive than any atom bomb so far exploded; and a Canadian authority announced
that it might cause the world to disintegrate in less than one minute. At this flying-saucers were
seen on all hands and one American observer saw one land, and begoggled hobgoblins get out of it,
Martian dwarfs two feet high.
A soberer evaluation, broadcast by a leading British scientist, was that the hydrogen bomb might
make the world uninhabitable by creating a radio-active cloud covering the whole surface of the
world. I find a certain charm in the picture of Martians asking each other what the cloud around
Earth might be (as we do about ‘canals’ on Mars) and never guessing that it was just the end of man.
However, I doubt if our brief human experiment of trial and error is ended. Wars have never
annihilated yet; during the decade which included the last one the earth’s population increased by
about 150 million people.
I noticed in America a certain revulsion against the oracles of doom. The scare technique is only
effective up to a point; then horror palls and the delusion gives way to questions. Americans began
to see that their Republic was threatened more from within than from above. Not a great foreign
war, but a great domestic disintegration, was their chief danger. However, many still confused the
issues, which Daniel Webster separated in his eulogy of George Washington: ‘If disastrous wars
should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it should exhaust
our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a
new cultivation, they will grow green again and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle even if
the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall … All these may be
rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the
well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty?’
Had he lived in 1950 he would have included the atom and hydrogen bombs among the lesser
dangers, and again have pointed to the greater one. In the last twenty years no American leader has
spoken thus. They have put the threat of physical damage first, and have attacked ‘the fabric of
government’ and ‘constitutional liberties’ in the plea that this would bring salvation.
Not far away from White Sands, at Los Alamos to the north, the atomic experimentation went on,
then under Mr. Lilienthal. He was earlier in charge of an enterprise known as the Tennessee Valley
Authority, begun under President Roosevelt. It was depicted as a grandiose scheme for enriching
poor lands and poor farmers through the control of irrigating waters and the production of cheap
power. Its actual achievements are vehemently contested. It has, however, an aspect of political
power which was not publicly perceived when it was begun. It is an undertaking of the central
government, but cuts across the territory of seven separate States. The American States always had
a large measure of self-governing authority. While they retain that, a political coup in Washington
would leave forty-eight organized State governments capable of opposition or resistance.
The Tennessee Valley Authority overrode State power in various ways. Schemes for nine other
similar ‘Authorities’, covering other areas, lie on Washington desks. The picture of the future, if
they were completed, would be one of political power passing from the elected parliaments and
officers of the various States to regional ‘Authorities’, transcending State boundaries, superseding
State authority, administered by directors appointed by the president. Mr. Lilienthal described this
process as ‘democracy on the march’; it might also be called democracy in retreat. His association
with the Tennessee Valley Authority caused many Americans to dislike his entrustment with
atomic affairs.
No atomic explosions attended my journey through this important spot, but White Sands were the
testing-grounds for rocket-weapons, and a day or two before an improved example of the German
rocket which London knew, fired from here, rose 100 miles at a speed of about 5000 miles an hour;
or so the newspapers said. Obeying warning notices not to tarry, I sped on my way, came to the
Rocky Mountains and began another stiff climb until at last I reached the summit and ran downhill
into Las Cruces.
It was a lively little town, just north of the border but unmistakably down Mexico way, where dark-
skinned policemen and postmen spoke broken English and folk of many colours strolled about
between pleasant Spanish-type houses or adobe ones. Behind it mountains reached sharklike teeth
into a brilliant sky. I wanted to see some cliff-dwellings in these parts but found the boosting habit
an impediment. I went, in search of information about their whereabouts, to a Tourist Information
Office, where a handsome executive spoke into a telephone. Why yes, he said, didn’t his listener
know the tourist industry was the second biggest in the country? Last year it grossed five (or fifty)
billion dollars and we hadn’t skimmed the cream yet; why, in Las Cruces alone last year it grossed
ten (or twenty) million dollars and this year it would gross fifty (or a hundred) million dollars and
next year two (or three) hundred million dollars, it was the biggest thing ever if it was organized
properly, why in three or four years …
This went on a long time and then he turned to me. He was startled that, with fine hotels and motels
all around, I should inquire about cliff-dwellings and could not bring his mind to such trifles, so
that I had to find my own way, and well worth while it was.
In Old Mexico, to the south, the Indians built a civilization of a barbaric magnificence. The king’s
palace was too big for one man to explore; the nobles wore golden cuirasses, jewels and feathered
robes; in one grave 480 ounces of gold were found buried with their owner; those people read,
wrote, and left manuscripts behind them. Away to the north, on the Great Plains, the Indians
remained utterly primitive; they grew only what they needed to eat; and for the rest went hunting
and fishing just like the highly civilized white folk. In the space between, in these and lands of New
Mexico and Arizona, a third community took shape which was neither primitive nor advanced, and
vanished when it was in the midway-stage. These people learned to build houses of several stories
containing many rooms; they knew the secrets of pottery and weaving. What was peculiar to them,
they built their settlements in pockets made by weather erosion in the precipitous walls of the
canyons. There, between heaven and earth, they were safe from hell, high water, weather and foe.
These cliffside townships are fascinating relics of a civilization, begun and gone. Looking at one, I
felt the same startled amazement which seized two old-timers, one day in 1888. They were
searching for stray cattle on the mesa when they came to the rim of a canyon and saw, a hundred
yards across it, under an overhanging cliff, what looked to them like a miniature city, with many
ruined towers and castles. An American scholar, Dr. Andrew E. Douglass, later reconstructed the
brief story of these cliff-dwellers from the rings of trees used in their buildings. They were erected
between 1066 and 1274 and were in use for some two hundred years. No man surely knows why
the vanished townsfolk abandoned them.
Just out of Las Cruces I passed a filling-station with the sign, ‘Last stop before the desert’. It was
eroded, rock-desert, scrub-covered and bleak enough. The road was flat and blistering and when I
reached more mountains the heat-needle began to move towards the red. I coaxed the car up torrid
slopes, with several stops, and thought all trouble over when I passed ‘The Continental Divide’, for I
assumed that would be the highest point. It marks the line by which you might walk dryfoot from
Mexico to Canada; on the eastern side of it all rivers drain to the Atlantic and on the western to the
Pacific. However, more mountains loomed ahead and at high noon the car stopped in a desolate
region where the barren rock was covered with great boulders and a notice said, ‘National Park:
defacing or writing on the rocks forbidden’. In that deserted, unparklike place of a million boulders,
I thought, the white man might have been left to indulge his love of scribbling.
The blazing sun would not let the engine cool and I spent an hour in that shadeless place before the
car would start, but then the road ran downhill at last. Driving into the declining sun that evening, I
was still ten miles from my day’s destination when I passed a man lying by the roadside, with a
bowler hat beside him. As I went on conscience troubled me. This was desert country and he must
he far from any home. What was he doing there? Was he perhaps dead? Above all, why the
crowning derby? You never see them in America.
After a mile I turned back and looked at him. He breathed, but might be ill. I wondered what to do.
He might be drunk, but then, how came he so far from human habitation? I did not want to meddle
if he were drunk, having learned a lesson in that matter. Once I lived near Paddington Station and
in those purlieus plied a lady known to all as Marie. One day, chancing along, I saw her seated on
the pavement, propped against the wall of the underground station. Her eyes were closed as in sleep
and all around knew why. A young man, a stranger, came springing lithely up the stairs and into the
street. His eyes fell on her and filled with indignation, for people passed her incompassionately by.
He ran and lifted her tenderly in his arms; that is, he tried to. Marie was not light and he could not
raise her to her feet (on which she could not have remained anyway). Thus burdened, he looked
about, and saw a policeman, watching, chewing his chin-strap. He detached one arm from Marie
and beckoned imperiously. The policeman, who knew Marie, continued to chew his chinstrap like a
Muslim playing with his amber beads. The young man beckoned again, and called. Life went its
way, a stream that divided around him, rejoined and flowed on. Anger gave way to perplexity in his
eyes, and that to despair. He looked round like a hunted animal, then dumped Marie and fled back
into the station, never again to succour damsel in distress.
I watched the man by the roadside, with the unaccountable derby. ‘Be British, Reed,’ I told myself,
‘he might be ill.’ A fly settled on his. nose. Without opening his eyes he brushed it off, addressing it
in terms that plainly proved his condition. I went on, and as the Arizona, dusk came down ran into
bejewelled Tucson.
*** Chapter Twenty-Two
WHERE BAD MEN WERE
Arizona, in the arid but invigorating West, is better known to distant peoples than their native
lands; an American episode which lasted fifty years is often more familiar to them than their own
history and inheritance. The mind’s eye of all mankind contains a sharper image than any books
could give of the mountains, canyons and prairie; the stage-coach with its sacks of gold-dust, the
waiting outlaws and the galloping posse; the saloons, boardwalks and hitchracks; the prospectors,
cowhands, cattle rustlers and bad men. The reasons are simple: the moving-picture was invented as
the Wild West episode ended, the story offered abundant material for good melodramatic
entertainment, and the climate is ideal for photography. The picture which emerged was in part
genuine, not wholly falsified by the spurious glamour which the dictates of ‘box office’, the
cushioned seat, the amatory handclasp and the crunch of popcorn combine to add.
This country was to have been New Castile, a Spanish colonial empire of great ranches in the gift
of the Spanish crown. That short-lived dream left behind a few relics, notably the lovely white
missions where peace seems to have taken sanctuary. When Manifest Destiny swept over it, rootin’,
shootin’, tootin’, the gold, silver and copper were found and any fertile land was taken by
homesteaders. Also, men who formerly exterminated the buffalo turned to stealing cattle and gold;
the bad men had their day. Law and order could not be improvised in lands where the frontier
continually shifted westward and new townships sprang up overnight, fifty or a hundred miles
apart. For nearly fifty years men were a law unto themselves, and then an episode ended.
What is it all now? The answer varies. I wandered about the bad men’s citadels, Tombstone, Bisbee,
Cochise and other places, where the names of Jesse James and Billy the Kid still ring, like the echo
of gunshots. Some are ghost towns now, crumbling away. Tumbleweed blows through the deserted
streets and in the graveyards the stones lie scattered, among them one to a Tom Smith ‘hanged by
mistake’ and another to ‘269 unknown victims’ of the gunplay days. Others of these places have
taken new root in modern America and the bones of their wild past lie buried beneath Main Street’s
banks and stores.
Of these is Tucson, as likeable a little city as you will find in a desert. It was as tough a place as its
neighbours, not long ago, and a surviving old-timer or two there can still tell many tales. It is white,
bright and lively, full of big hotels, banks, fine shops, pleasant homes. Its roofline is low, which
gives blessed relief in America; a man’s head is in the air, and instead of canyonesque cliffs it has
the wide desert sky for roof and dark, distant mountains for background. In the lemon-coloured
dusk and velvet night its myriad twinkling lights, in pink and violet and mauve and rose, take on a
quality of enchantment which the same hues quite lack in the sombre abysses of Broadway or
Madison Street. It is a little Montmartre in the desert, with its night-clubs, open-air dancing
restaurants, filling-stations, cabin-camps and used-car lots, all strung with vari-coloured
illuminations.
I found it abundantly prosperous and wondered, why do some places become ghost towns and
others bloom like this? Tucson is remote; all around is desert; the gold and silver days are waning
or gone; people I met thought little of a current project to grow cotton in those infertile parts. I
deduced that Tucson’s wellbeing, and that of other places in Arizona, derived from boosting, which
up to a point is only making the most of assets. The climate makes you feel you could walk on
eggshells without breaking them. Its fame has been spread abroad and I soon found that the family
man I met near White Sands, with his household in a truck, was but one of many trekkers to
Arizona. Tucson’s very remoteness recommended it, also, to people who sought immunity from the
illusory atom bomb menace. Thus it has become a town of wealthy people who can go where they
list and chose it for such reasons; retired folk with a modest but assured income; and confirmed
invalids. The prosperity attendant on this immigration also brought masses of people seeking work.
The drawback of boosting is that ‘the place everybody is making for’ is not always what they hope.
From my cabin I saw in the desert distance a long, curious shape and asked a man, who mowed the
grass, what it might be. He said it was ‘eight hundred big bombers being serviced for dispatch to the
European Democracies under the Marshall Plan’ (he had the patter pat; later I saw in other parts
great fleets of laid-up war-vessels or wartime freighters, and hoped they would come to a better end
than the American and British equipment which was lavished on the Communist Empire during the
Second War). This man then told me he had followed the ‘Come to Arizona, State of Enchantment’
signs from New Jersey, but ‘this place isn’t what they say; I’m only paid twenty-five dollars a week
for doing all the work of the camp and I’m going to Pennsylvania next week’.
This rich country, like poorer and more harassed ones, seemed full of people just arrived from, or
anxious to be somewhere else. That is in America partly a survival of a tradition. The old-time
prospectors were ever restless to seek gold in new hills, but when they reached them yarned
affectionately about the last place they were in, just as old sailors commonly say the last ship they
were in was wonderful, curse their present one and dream of a better. However, indiscriminate
boosting seemed sometimes at fault. I talked to a filling-station lad who said the health-giving
properties of ‘this place’ were, in his case, seriously misadvertised. ‘I sold everything to come here,’
he said, ‘on account of asthma in my family, but the children are all ill. It’s a bad spot for respiratory
troubles because of the fine, invisible desert dust. Of course, the dry heat is good for rheumatism or
arthritis, but me, I’m off next week.’
To me Tucson was friendly and delightful. The dark-skinned folk, Mexicans or Mexican Indians,
pleasantly slowed down the American pace; they lounged or sat around in shady corners, dreamily
gazing into space. Tucson was all ringed about with cabin-courts and trailer-camps and the settled
community disliked these, as dens of loose-mating or unanchored folk. Plenty of houses stood
empty, they said, but their owners would not let them because of rent-control (a professedly
benevolent thing which in fact keeps people homeless), and the young folk could or would not buy
houses, so that they drifted into trailer-camps. I found much misgiving about the future among
sober heads, generally on the ground that ‘this is not a united country’. They feared the ceaseless
incitement which, cloaked as a campaign against racial discrimination, divided the 150 million
Americans into sections and boosted the claims of the smallest sections to be paramount in
American affairs.
I met a significant example of what they meant. I took a cabin and found its proprietor unusually
talkative. Recognizing a foreigner, he began to speak about America, saying he, too, was not
American-born. ‘I came here from Russia with my parents in 1906′, he said, ‘without a cent, when I
was eighteen.’ ‘Oh, then if you now own this place you have done well,’ I said. He shrugged; ‘Oh,
all right,’ he said, ‘my son is a State Attorney now.’ I thought of the Statue of Liberty and the lines
about ’send me your poor’; this was clearly a good American story. ‘You have done well,’ I said,
‘that’s no small thing, for your son to have risen to such a post.’ He made no comment but began to
’sell’ Communism to me, little guessing how much I knew about it. ‘I’ve still got relatives in Russia,’
he said, ‘they’ve asked me not to send them any more money because they have enough. I wish I
could say that here.’ ‘Hey!’ I said, ‘I know why people in Russia ask friends abroad not to send them
money; they are not allowed to receive it.’ He looked at me sharply and said, ‘Well, yes, I guess
perhaps that’s so. What they want me to send is clothing.’ ‘I know, they’re allowed to have that,’ I
said. He grinned, sized me up and strolled away. He, and the man at Boston, personified America’s
great problem, and the world’s.
Still trying to beat the heat, and hot engine, I left Tucson one day before dawn. At its outskirts pale
roadside statues loomed in my headlights, with thumbs pointing towards California. The thumbers
are now so distrusted in America that I wondered to see such numbers of them. (Once I saw two
young men with a suitcase thumbing by the roadside in the early morning; when I returned eight
hours later they were still there, sitting each at one end of the suitcase and playing cards on it.) I
drove on while the great golden sun climbed over the mountains behind me and fell on other
spectral shapes in the desert: the great Sahuaro cactus. It is like a giant cucumber propped on end,
sometimes with arms, and recalls a Bushman painting of a human being. It puts forth a little posy of
white flowers which it wears at an angle atop, like an Easter bonnet copied from Fifth Avenue. I
reached Yuma before the sun was full and breakfasted beside a trucker from Los Angeles. His truck
was a refrigerating one and carried ice-cream to Tucson and beyond, five hundred miles and more.
In America that is a cat’s jump, but the picture of these great overland vehicles, carrying ice-cream
to roadside cafés deep in the desert, seemed most typical of this energetic country.
Yuma was a different place again, neither ghost town nor boom town. Its Main Street was true to
type save at one end, where it reverted to Wild West mining-camp. Dark-skinned men, who only
needed tomahawks and a few scalps to step straight into a Western, lounged against the old wooden
saloons. Then, at the next turn of the road, was the old prison of the bad-man days. It looked like a
Moroccan fortress, though less white, with its huge barred doors, and was set on a hillock
overlooking town, desert and the Colorado River. In its graveyard many notorious gunmen found
their six feet of earth. I waited for a long freight train to rumble past between me and it; out of a
box-car popped the heads of two hoboes who looked like illustrations to Huckleberry Finn;
unkempt, unshaven and red-eyed, they looked shiftily at Yuma and bobbed down again.
Yuma, too, seemed to have survived by devising new attractions, fitted to the times. It appeared to
specialize in elopements; perhaps the proximity of the California State line and variations in State
laws made it especially suitable for them. Anyway, the traveller from California was greeted with
huge placards: ‘Welcome to Yuma; Gretna Green Marriages; Marriages performed at any hour of
the day or night in Special Wedding Chapel; Minister in Attendance.’ The number and size of these
signs suggested that the elopement industry flourished.
My cabin at Yuma faced a drive-in theatre. This is a new mushroom growth among the clustering
encampments of food, drink, rest, fuel and entertainment which surround American towns. The first
drive-in theatres were cheap and simple things, merely a large screen set in fenced, open ground.
Now over a thousand of them exist and they are becoming ever larger enterprises, with their own
by-products of swings, roundabouts, skittle alleys, dance floors, cafés, night-clubs and floodlit golf-
practice ranges. The traffic seems able to carry all that and more; either the air or the romantic
atmosphere whets appetites, so that four times as many hot-dogs, hamburgers and packets of
popcorn are eaten in them as in the indoor theatres. They claim, too, to have produced quite new
classes of picturegoers: parents who bring the baby in the car, old and infirm folk, heavy labourers
who do not want to change from work-a-day clothes. Rain does not matter, and soon spectators are
to be supplied with heaters or coolers, according to the night. In these Western expanses the
devotees often drive a hundred miles or more to see a new film.
This theatre showed Bad Men of Tombstone and was the perfect place to watch a Western, for this
was the very country of the miners, bandits, rustlers and the two-fisted gunmen. The scene of the
picture, Tombstone, was genuine, not a film-set, and I knew that now ghostly town. The people
around me watched their own recent past, in a present vastly different. Tilted in their limousines
beneath the Western sky, they ate candy and looked at the shadows of yesterday; they were hitched
to a loud-speaker post as their fathers’ horses were hitched to a rail. I loved Bad Men of Tombstone,
in this setting, but forgot to unhitch myself as I made to drive out, so that a loud wailing and
screeching accompanied me. When I found the cause I restored the loudspeaker to its post,
cautiously made my way among the guests’ cars scattered on the ground, and went to bed.
*** Chapter Twenty-Three
ON DATES AND DESERTS
Outside Yuma the last State boundary confronted me and I changed my tune from Ragtime
Cowboy Joe, that son of a gun from Arizona, to California, here I come! A unique frontier-post
stands here; the boosters once enticed so many people to California that the state tried to regulate
the torrent by requiring that incomers should show a sum of money. Public protest reduced that
barrier and the fruit-pickers rolled in again, also the political novelists who were to depict their life
in tones of sexual promiscuity and squalor unrelieved. The sole remaining ban is on vegetable
pests; travellers must show bags innocent of diseased potato plants and the like.
I was myself the boosters’ victim for I thought California a blessedly abundant land where fruits
grew huge from sheer joy of the soil and sun (in fact the southern part of it is desert and only
constant irrigation can produce those luscious harvests). Thus I thought the name, Desert Edge, of
the first place I came to meant the end of the desert I came from and indeed it seemed a green
paradise after the thousand arid miles behind me, for the road ran between citrus groves, orchards,
vineyards and grainlands. Then masses of date-palms appeared, rearing tall stems from thick old-
leaf bases towards green pinnate crowns. I was hungry and stopped at a delightful oasis where the
date was sold in a hundred different confections, date-jam, date-candy, date-cake and so on, and the
tallest palm was marked, ‘Old Father Solomon, imported from Arabia in 1912; it weighs five tons
and gives enough pollen to pollinate 400 female date-palms’. What a palm, I thought! I ate a large
date-ice-cream and a pound of dates in the shade of Old Father Solomon and for the rest of the day
felt strangely gloomy, as if iron had entered into my soul. Arab tribesmen fortify themselves with
dates, just as the Chinese work and fight on rice and the African native thrives on bread or mealies.
Those who come of meat-eating stock must be differently made. All my life I loved dates, after the
Christmas crackers. Now I shall never eat one again, and for my part Old Father Solomon may rest
from his labours.
This Eden continued for fifty miles and then reverted to desert. This was no longer the stony desert
of the high lands behind me, but the picturegoer’s sandy desert, where Beau Geste fought his battles
over again before a movie-camera. A cold wind blew sand-drifts on to the road and notices warned
of sand-storms; not long ago this was a bitter place but now the shining road insulated travellers, in
their enamelled capsules, against hunger, thirst or loss of way. I saw a distant opalescent gleam and,
I thought, the shimmer of mirages, and drove towards them. I was right; this was a dead sea fifty
miles long.
The Salton Sea seems to be a huge saltpan, left inland at some incalculable time by the receding
waters of the Gulf of California and recently flooded by the Colorado River. It lies well below sea-
level and the hush of utter lifelessness encloses it. The earthmen wonder whether other worlds are
peopled; here in California was a specimen of an uninhabited world, where nothing walked, ran,
crept, crawled, flew or grew, where the spark of life had gone out or never been lit.
The geography of America is a morality play in itself, a graphic natural symbolization of the cross-
roads to which man seems ever to come afresh, at which the white man now stands. On the eastern
sea-board is the civilization so painfully built up, now arrested and imperilled; that was a God-
fearing conquest of the wilderness. Then comes the reward for that first venture, the bountiful
central valley, eternal abundance. Then again comes the arid West, the picture of what might lie at
the end of any false road: emptiness and death. North of Salton Sea lies the terrible place called
Death Valley, which the map-makers have marked ‘National Monument’.
Here the traveller feels, not the youth of the Republic, but the age of America. The little roadside
habitations and the signs, ‘Gas’, ‘Eats’ or ‘Mixed Drinks’ lend emphasis to it. Here antiquity is
recent; you are thrust hard against the savage mien of nature in times now hardly imaginable and
feel acutely the presence of monstrous forces held in leash. This picture of pent vengefulness makes
the current babble about governing the earth seem petty nonsense. The words about wrath to come
were meant, I suppose, to apply to human error, not to promise a senseless retribution for all human
effort, good or bad. Here, however, you may see what the wrath might be like if it were called
down. The wildness of the Wild West, in the sense of short human incident, was nothing compared
with the natural wildness of these lands. In this bloodless earth, in the gaping wounds which
drained off its life, in the writhing rock, you may see the picture of a past immeasurably distant and
a future not tightly to be challenged by the fool who said … Such places are not so much National
Monuments as natural monuments, and warnings to man.
The desert continued for a hundred miles and then gave way to the groves and orchards, and soon
to Los Angeles, the presence of which made itself felt afar off, like New York. Forty or fifty miles
were filled with an indescribable human activity. The come-and-go spirit quickened the air.
Everywhere houses, bungalows and shops were being built or offered for sale. A substantial home
lay on its side in a ditch; it was on wheels and suffered this mishap in transit. A large green gap
contained only a placard, ‘A City in the Building’, and a shack, where the real-estate man sold lots
for yet another city, which I expected to find standing if I returned that way next day.
Once more a fly on the wheel, I was drawn into Los Angeles and after Houdini-like exertions
extricated myself, found a cabin, and set out afoot in search of food. I lost myself in a Chinese
quarter where young men played pool in front rooms and others probably smoked opium in back
ones; so I thought, anyway, from the look of the elderly, mandarin-like Chinese who stood guard
between. One of them, though he could not pronounce the letter ’s’, directed me in English towards
a good meal. When it was inside me my date-born melancholy suddenly disappeared and I went
happily to see the town.
*** Chapter Twenty-Four
… AND MINISTERS OF GRACE …
Los Angeles stands on the opposite coast from the first settlements and is the opposite of all the
earlier American Republic meant. Thirty-five years ago it was but a name on the map, and now it is
[ed: one?] of the world’s biggest cities. What it yet may become, the mid-century traveller might
ask in borrowed words:
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable?
Thou com’st in such a questionable shape,
It is a sprawling mass of loosely-rooted townships grown together without form. It is New York’s
suburb and Hollywood is its suburb, unless it is a suburb of Hollywood: that might be truer. It is
more polyglot than New York, having additional Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and other infusions.
By day it is deafening and by night dazzling. Nowhere else will the beholder see so many lights of
so many colours. Surveying it from the enclosing hills he feels, or imagines, a tinselled
impermanence in this city built on the irrigated sands. It has the all-denying spiritual desolation of
New York.
I drove round and about it looking for the sea, the breath of which my being needed after the long
land journey. My map seemed to show Los Angeles-on-Sea but I could not find the Pacific.
Following the sun, I drove and drove through crowded districts served by street cars. The overhead
cables were strung from tall, black poles with cross-pieces atop; it was an endless vista of calvaries
against the sunset, with three thousand times three crosses. I saw distant hills and thought, the sea
must lie beyond them. I made for them and found Martian regiments marching over them, with the
oil-pumps sucking away between their feet, but no way across the hills offered and I was about to
give the Pacific up for lost when I saw a signpost pointing to ‘Venice’. This, as night approached,
brought me to a seething place which combined features of Margate, Blackpool and Peacehaven. I
caught glimpses of dark waves between houses and then a young man asked for a lift to Los
Angeles. I was glad to give him one for I doubted if I would find my way back through the maze.
‘I thought Los Angeles was by the sea,’ I said. ‘Oh no, fourteen miles away,’ he said. ‘I guess you’re
an Englishman?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘My people came from Birmingham,’ he said, ‘I’m from New York, I
like L.A., it’s fine and healthy for my daughter, I’m going to work now.’ ‘At this hour!’ I said, ‘have I
met another writer?’ ‘No, a barman,’ he said. ‘Ah, then you can tell me something,’ I said. ‘What are
these All-Nite Theatres I see, one even advertising “two dazzling features”? Who would want to be
dazzled at dawn?’ ‘Oh, L.A. has a lot of them,’ he said, ‘you’d be surprised how many people throw
down a quarter because they haven’t anywheres to sleep; they get drunk and don’t want to go home,
so they sleep in the all-nite theatres.’ ‘But your two reasons are contradictory,’ I said, ‘which is it:
they haven’t enough money for a lodging, or they are so drunk they don’t want to go home?’ ‘About
haff-and-haff,’ he said, ‘you’d be surprised how many bums there are in this city without the money
for a bed.’
I pondered this new type of dosshouse, where the homeless snored among plush while Gloria
Glamor wasted her insubstantial charms on them. Yes, L.A. will be the biggest city in the world in
a few years, he said reverently. ‘As it isn’t a seaport and hasn’t much industry,’ I said,’how did it get
so big?’ ‘Oh, lots of rich farmers like to move into a city,’ he said, ‘and then there are the films, and
thousands of veterans who were stationed here in the war stayed on, and industry is moving in now,
and this is where I get out, I appreciate the ride.’
I found, however, that these causes did not wholly explain the growth of population in Los
Angeles, and California generally. The earlier inflow, from the gold rush to the Goldwyn rush, was
spontaneous, but the recent immigration has to some extent been politically instigated. Growing
population means growing political power, in the capitol at Washington, in the United Nations
building at New York, and thus in the world. A careful study of the American electoral system has
clearly been made by interested parties, and the points found where power may be obtained. Of the
150 million Americans in forty-nine states, about 60 millions live in seven states, the thickly-
populated industrial ones of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and
California. Each state, large or small, sends two senators to Congress, but the number of
Representatives (in the lower house) rises or falls according to state-population. The concentration
of population in these seven states gives them the balance of power in presidential elections. The
political control of these states, therefore, is a major prize in the contest for power. Into these states
the new immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, after the Civil War, mainly flowed. It is
fairly clear today that this movement was largely directed, in the case of the Jewish immigration, by
the Political Zionists. In 1940, according to Jewish reference books, more than half of all Jewish
immigrants went to California.
Simultaneously an increasing number of negroes is being drawn from the South into these seven
states by Communist-dominated unions. The powerful waterside union in California chiefly
instigates this movement. It has long been a state within the Californian State (the flag of which,
curiously, carries a Bear and a Star, both of suggestive implication). These unions are under the
control of leaders of Eastern European origins. The polyglot population, which would get along
well enough if the impact of the races were left to regulate itself in amity, is subjected to an
unremitting propaganda of racial antagonism. Newspapers, literature, radio-programmes and plays
constantly harp on the theme. The words ‘white man’ or ‘gentile’ are never used but the insinuation
is that the white gentile population consists of bigots, gaiters, mongers and ‘Fascists’, and that any
decent ones must prove themselves by voting the way the propagandists wish. For such token of
moral virtue the material rewards of the Welfare State are offered; the Republic, like England, if it
is to go down, will go down with free dentures gleaming and half-price toupets waving in the
breeze.
By these means the vote of the seven key states has been mobilized for Democratic or Communist
candidates, as a recent rule. At the last presidential election the only one of these states lost by the
Democratic nominee was New York, where the large Communist vote split the Leftist block, and
let in a Republican. By then, however, the Republicans were so intimidated by the bigot-and-baiter
campaign that (like the Conservatives in England), they were leaning over backward to appease
Political Zionism and Communism, so that their supporters would have been little cheered had their
man won.
This is one reason, then, for the increase in California’s population, which, with the number of its
seats in Congress, is growing fast, while those of the older, non-industrialized states decline or
remain stationary. Mr. John Gunther records that California’s vote tipped the scale for President
Wilson in 1916, and that in 1932 ‘a series of delicate and intricate manoeuvres within the California
delegation enabled Franklyn D. Roosevelt to win the Democratic nomination for President’.
Without those two events the Communist Empire might not have risen, first, and spread second, or
the Zionist State been set up.
Thus L.A. and California are important. Los Angeles is growing into a political stronghold of the
new immigration on the Pacific, as New York is already its chief one on the Atlantic and in the
world.
*** Chapter Twenty-Five
VALLEY OF LIGHTS AND SHADOWS
I did not tarry in central Los Angeles but took a cabin off the Hollywood Boulevard, where the road
strikes uphill towards the Hollywood Bowl and the hills, and contemplated the metropolis of the
moving-picture. If the whole human conglomeration called Los Angeles seems like an incandescent
bubble, reflecting shapes and lights and tints but with only frail substance of its own, Hollywood is
its glittering inner filament. The place seemed as shadowy and impermanent as its own plays.
Hollywood was built in a day, as Holyrood (say Scotsmen of that ancient abbey) was not; the two
places are symbols of opposed philosophies, the faith that endures and the temporal schemes that
fade. Hollywood peculiarly belongs to the group of consanguineous cities, New York, Chicago,
Johannesburg, Tel Aviv. Once, in a visitors’ book at Johannesburg, I found above a Hollywood
signature the comment: ‘Magnificent; only equalled by Hollywood.’ The remark was apt: like draws
to like the whole world o’er.
The encampments which cluster beneath the name Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel
Air, Pacific Palisades and the rest, sprawl over countryside of great natural beauty which reminded
me of the Valley of a Thousand Hills in Natal, save that the ocean lay on one side, whereas that
valley is landlocked. From my cabin I could see these humps, hillocks and hills rising to mountains,
their sides covered with houses, or half-settled, or yet unbuilt. Among them, clamant with placards
by day and neon by night, rose Tap-Dancing Schools, Hearing Improvement Institutes, Song-
Writing Studios, Music-Teaching Institutes, Ballet Schools, Eye-Education Institutes, Reducing
Institutes, Psycho-Analysis Institutes; it was like the Charing Cross Road and the quack quarter of
Soho, deified. On all hands guides waited to show the traveller the way, not to the stars, but to the
Homes of the Stars. A great placard on a vacant lot announced that ‘an extraordinary hotel’ was to
be built there. The greenest places were the domains of the Burial Parks (the notice outside, ‘Free
Parking’, refers to motor cars; interment is expensive); though these will never move a Gray to
compose an Elegy, they prompted Mr. Evelyn Waugh to his ‘tragedy of Anglo-American manners’
and I met many Americans who see an alarming symptom of the times in their frankly pagan and
commercial approach to the disposal of human remains.
Against this evanescent background the human beings I met, too, seemed shadowy, fleeting figures.
Alone among them my host seemed glad to be in Hollywood; he sought relief from a muscular
atrophy and the sun benefited it. My neighbour and his wife, come two months before from far
away in search of the good life, had both found good jobs but were going back to the firm soil, the
green dampness and the hard winters of Connecticut. This being a populous place, I sometimes
took thumbers aboard. One was a young man of exceptional good looks whom I guessed to be a
film aspirant. He resolutely kept a remarkable profile turned to me until he found that I could be of
no help in that ambition, when he relaxed and said he guessed he was through with Hollywood, he
was going back to bit parts on Broadway. Another was an Englishman, originally of the North
Country comic type, who was also stranded and asked for a small loan, and he was hardly gone
before a negro appeared at my car window, saying he was a good cook-butler from the British West
Indies, could I help him to [ed: get?] a job?
I spent my most pleasant hours with film folk, chatting and looking down on the Aladdin’s Cave
which is Hollywood by night. They were some of the nicest people I met anywhere and a
newspaper candidly written by them would be an exceptionally interesting publication. They
complained that in Hollywood you ‘died intellectually’, though I thought they meant spiritually.
About this time an English actor left Hollywood with audible distaste, saying it was ‘an awful place,
run by a few moronic old columnists’. He survived to win great success on Broadway, but most of
the performers do submit to the thrall of some elderly ladies who enjoy the confidence of the rajahs
of film-making and hold the choice between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ publicity over the players. When I
passed through the studios one of the tragi-comic star-and-studio tiffs was in progress. A row of
mobile make-up vans, used ‘on location’, bore each the name of a star, among them that of the one
who had ‘walked off the set’, a Miss Garland. Some rival or small-part player had scribbled with
chalk across her name, as who should say, ‘You’re out, see!’ That tiff was composed, the star
returned, and the columnist aunts pronounced a blessing (but it broke out again later).
Hollywood, built on the irrigated sands, looks and feels as unsubstantial as a house of cards, but
that is not the truth of its importance in the world today. It contains the most potent machine, of this
or any time, for forming or warping the mass-mind. No temporal power of emperors or popes ever
reached areas or multitudes so great. Its industry is in name one of entertainment. In fact it gives
huge opportunities for propaganda, that is, the implanting of a certain set of ideas in the mass-mind
by suggestion. This has become a major aspect of its activity. Hollywood has become a projector of
subversive suggestion. It acts as the agent of New York in this. ‘Hollywood is nothing more than a
suburb of the Bronx, both financially and from the point of view of talent,’ says Mr. John Gunther,
‘… to be accepted in this nation, New York acceptance must come first. I do not assert that this is
necessarily a good thing, I say merely that it is true.’
The Americans I met agreed that it was true, and thought it bad. The picturegoer who sees a
Hollywood film generally sees something that has passed the tests of acceptance by New York; the
exceptions are rare and producers who rebel against the thrall meet much antagonism in many
ways. The propagandist insinuation which runs through most pictures, in varying degree, is roughly
on these lines: that the English-speaking peoples and white gentiles generally are an inferior mass,
prone to base dislikes which must be combated; that their own faith, history and tradition are
unimportant; that their womenfolk are in the main shallow or worse; that they cruelly oppress
beings of different hue or belief. It is the fission-propaganda, for dividing Christian or white folk
among themselves, which proved effective before the Civil War. That incitement (says Mr. Dale
Carnegie in his biography of Lincoln) raged for thirty years, and poisoned the minds of people who
know nothing of the South or of slaves with tales of boiling water, red-hot irons, burnings at the
stake, blood hounds and licentiousness (’the South,’ said Wendell Phillips, ‘is one great brothel
where half a million women are flogged to prostitution’).
The suggestion of Hollywood films today follows a similar line but is devised on a broader front
for a worldwide audience. It is that the white folk in the mass, not now merely the American
Southerners, are innate haters and baiters, who can only be reformed, or prove conversion, by
embracing Communism and Political Zionism. The permeation of the film-output by this subtle
suggestion takes two forms, one positive and the other negative. A few films are wholly devoted to
the propagandist purpose. These, which give the point to the whole, revive Mrs. Beecher Stowe’s
attack on ‘racial prejudice’ and in them Simon Legree is reborn as the oppressor of Jews (or still of
negroes if audiences tire of the first version). The remaining films conform to the negative rule that
they should contain nothing contrary to the suggestion of the positive ones. Thus three-fourths of a
‘production programme’ may consist of Westerns, gangster or thriller pictures, and musicals. The
Westerns are ‘good box office’, and as Indian voters are few redskins may be freely hated or baited
in them. The gunman-pictures are also remunerative and follow the slumming tradition of recent
American literature. The musicals draw well and their prevalent tendency was described by Mr. Jay
Nock as ‘the filthy vulgarization of woman’s beauty’.
The broad inference of the whole ‘production programme’ is that people as evil as those of the
gangster films or as empty as those of the musicals would naturally be given to the foul aversions
depicted in the ‘racial prejudice’ pictures The finer aspects of American life, history or tradition are
almost completely ignored in the Hollywood output. It is an illusion that ‘box office’ is Hollywood’s
only and golden rule; the purpose of political suggestion overrides all else. I found players and
lesser production specialists aware of this paramount policy and repelled by it. It is the true reason
why the great pictures have so seldom come from Hollywood; art cannot thrive among such
inhibitions. Once leading performers and other prominent people in the industry gave evidence
before a parliamentary committee which tried to trace the thing to its subversive roots. They
received ‘the treatment’ in press and radio and found work hard to obtain thereafter. The actor, like
other artists, acts to live and does not live to act and the majority knuckle under; but they are not
happy in Hollywood. ‘Foreign players who arrive with a great reputation, particularly, often blur
into oblivion like a fading negative after a few years there. When I talked with great players of the
past or present I was often reminded of my own experiences in journalism, which underlies a
similar thrall today. As good Americans, they feared the corrupting influence which they felt
around them.
The extent of the bondage was much greater than I realized before I went to America. In earlier
days each new mining-camp or rising township built a theatre, and the greatest players and singers
of the world came to those remote places. Today ‘theatre’ means picture-theatre and outside New
York, with a few exceptions, the living theatre has been destroyed. That means more than is at first
apparent; it means that the play, as well as the players, must pass the over-riding test before
Americans can see it. In former days none could tell Irving or Booth or Otis Skinner what to accept
or reject and they made their choice by the old canons; playwrights all over the English-speaking
world wrote plays and actor-managers or producers selected from them; the best came to the top.
Now all the world’s a screen and the plays are ’screened’ before they are screened, by the central
authority. Scripts for film-plays must measure to the supreme standard of acceptance; if a book or
stage-play is selected it usually undergoes revision, often beyond recognition, before it is filmed.
Good films from other countries, or ones which conflict with the Hollywood tenets, are excluded
by the same machine, which controls the theatres as well as production. Americans are cut off from
the best of the world’s pictures, almost as if they lived on a desert island. Oliver Twist was long
banned, in the American zone of Germany as well as in the Republic, because the lesser of two
villains is a Jew. Hamlet was in effect long excluded, save for the Little Theatre Round the Corner
in one or two big cities. One of the few American producers outside the occult circle said such a
film as the Italian Bicycle Thieves ‘would not stand a chance of being shown in the average
American small town theatre; Hollywood would not permit it’.
This mental air-conditioning covers the whole territory of the Republic. Having studied mass-mind-
control in Communist Moscow and Nazi Berlin, I felt in Hollywood that I had seen everything.
Oddly, the most reassuring spot I found in this ephemeral but despotic place was the one which I
might have expected to be the most impermanent of all. In a corner of the littered grounds of one
big picture-making concern was a little pleasance, come into being by the accident of this industry.
Where all else vanished with the end of a picture, here a few relics of famous shadow plays
remained, and by some chance the living truth of people and events survived among the debris of
makebelieve. On one side was Tara, the white Southern house where Scarlett O’Hara flirted with
her beaux, and on another the millstream cottage and old stone bridge where Mrs. Miniver
composedly battled with the war. Around were other survivals, and in between were fragments of
lawns and gardens; overhead, birds sang. This was all plaster front and façade, propped up behind
by planks and beams, and yet the story of the South and of England was real and poignant in this
unfrequented patch, where only a gardener worked or a studio hand came to eat his sandwiches.
These deserted sets were genuine in the metropolis of the bogus; somehow, enduring values and
verities flowered in a green corner between white pillars and a lichened roof.
The time came to go and I drove out to Santa Monica to prospect the route. It lay in a bay as wide
and lovely as Durban’s, with mountains running sheer to the sand’s edge. In the distance, ahead of
me, I saw the coastal road running below the mountains and eagerly imagined that stage of the long
journey to which I looked forward with particular zest: the run northward, beside the Pacific, to San
Francisco.
*** Chapter Twenty-Six
CASTLE OF DREAMS
I left Hollywood early and half-awake and only after twenty miles realized that I had missed the
coastal road and was travelling inland, though in the right direction. Grass and vegetation were
brown, and I recalled what a famous woman player in Hollywood said to me: ‘This is really desert,
and if we didn’t keep on watering it, it would go back to desert.’ The feeling of living in a place
innately hostile to man combines with the spiritual oppression to make people uneasy and restless.
Southern California lies on the latitude of the Sahara, fruit-growing and other farming is really
oasis-cultivation, and in the background lurks unfriendly nature.
I turned towards the coastal road, through the old Spanish country, never truly settled but dotted
with small settlements and missions, and came to one of the loveliest of these, Saint Bonaventura,
founded in 1770. Now the typical small town has grown up around it and it stands on the main
highway, with filling-stations, five-and-ten-cent stores and all the commotion of Main Street for
neighbours. Yet the church and its cool garden were filled with a deep tranquillity; the peace that
passeth understanding indeed, for I could think of no mortal explanation for the sudden hush that
lay beyond a white wall. It sent me on my way refreshed, and I came at length to the ocean road
and, after a small place or two, to a long, unpeopled stretch and a lonely roadside signpost with a
name. No habitation was to be seen, and a few days before the name would have meant nothing to
me; I should have run past it. Now it attached itself in my mind to fragments of a story heard in
Hollywood. It was one peculiarly American.
I turned off the highway and in a few moments a place came into view, unlike anything I saw
anywhere else in America. It was less than a village and lay asleep, or dying, by a blue lagoon, with
the ocean in the distance. A few houses hid themselves among trees and birds sang. There was a
church, closed, and a post office, open but deserted. Only one thing moved; a girl in a glittering,
kingfisher-blue swimsuit came out of a house, drove away and was gone. No shops, stores, filling-
stations or any of the usual things; either they were kept out or stayed away. Then, where the road
curved towards the lagoon, I found a big warehouse, shut, and a pier leading to the water; a notice
said, ‘Wharfage operations discontinued, trespassing strictly forbidden’. As I looked round this
abandoned place I pictured a busy wharf and warehouse, cargoes landing, people bustling about;
and now, this …
There was a man of wealth and renown. He married, unhappily. Then he met a woman whom he
loved. Divorce was precluded, and they began an unwedded partnership which became too
permanent for the world to begrudge them it, even if the world were wont to reproach rich men. Yet
rich men may find happiness especially hard to reach, and perhaps this one was aggrieved that he
could not have the one thing he wanted.
I invented this explanation, anyway, for the palace he built at the loneliest part of this Pacific coast,
and filled with fantastic treasures from the ends of the earth. To this wharf they came and were
carried to the high mansion where he thought to capture peace and cage love in a castle among the
clouds. The marble halls were packed with costly things, the great grounds stocked with strange
beasts, and from high solitude he looked down on the vast Pacific. He owned the little village, too,
and its decline or demise was part of the natural end of the story.
He was not only rich but powerful. Had the cards of chance fallen a little differently he might have
become president. But he committed a cardinal sin. He opposed American entry into the Second
War and thus crossed the path of those forces which stood to gain by it. He was vulnerable. Barely
disguised, a moving-picture was made of his life, love and citadel.
He had thought to enclose his love and his disappointment in a place where no eye could reach. The
picture tore down every wall, curtain and veil. I recalled that film, seen many years before; only
now did I understand all the circumstances.
I drove back to the main road and on, and soon passed a drive, where great gates stood wide open
but a notice said, ‘Trespassing strictly forbidden; no sightseeing allowed; please do not ask for
passes, because they will not be given’. A mile farther on I stopped and looked back. There it was
on the tallest mountain-top, a huge white place of turrets, towers and terraces, wings and countless
windows. Now, when it all did not matter much any more, someone still tried by ‘No sightseeing’
notices to shut out the prying world, which from a million picture-theatres had long since looked
into every corner of this high fastness.
Only when I went on my way did I realize how lonely was the spot chosen for that astonishing
mansion. All at once the entire roadside apparatus of food, drink, fuel and lodging, which followed
me from New York, even through the desert, faded away. I ran through splendid country which
changed from aridity into one of grassland and grainland, apparently devoid of human life. I saw
that if any mishap should befall me I should spend a lonely night. The road returned to the sea and
suddenly became a narrow shelf running along mountain-sides, which fell steeply down to it and as
steeply again to the ocean. Notices said, ‘Curves and gradients for the next 64 miles’; hairpin bends
for such a distance were new even in my experience. Other notices repeatedly warned, ‘Slide area;
watch for rocks on pavement’ (that is, boulders on the roadway); I pondered the chances of dodging
a descending boulder and divided my eyes anxiously between road and mountainside.
I doubt if the world can surpass the beauty of this road. It ran across innumerable great bridges,
thrown over gulches and canyons. Each must have cost a fortune; in such American undertakings
cost seems of no account. The road twined and twisted up and down the rock face for about a
hundred miles, and at every yard the huge vista of ocean and mountain changed its shape. It was
exhausting driving and I saw I should have to go much farther than I expected before I could hope
to find a lodging. The whole cabin-camp organization, on which by now I relied, suddenly fell
away.
I came to a deep, dark cleft in the rocky walls where huge sentinels stood: ‘The first of the famous
Redwood Trees, which are only to be found in one narrow belt of California.’ Some of these trees
reach 350 feet and are 2000 years old; they were there ‘when they crucified my Lord’. Among them
I had again the feeling, which followed me through the West, that America is old in a way no other
great populated country can be called old. Nowhere else does man hurtle in such sublime, or
vainglorious, indifference along peerless roads through such grim places, dark with the anger of
nature disturbed for the first time since time began. The road turned inland, ran through fragrant
mimosa banks and carpets of purple hedgehog, and suddenly fell down dark, precipitous declines,
thickly clad with the huge redwood trees. The bare rock, above the vegetation line, looked as if it
were the place where creation began in agony; in the contorted, writhing groins and loins of those
mountainsides you could see the pains of that primeval labour.
Midnight struck before I reached Monterey and found a cabin. As I fell into bed a pandemonium of
sirens and alarms broke out and I went to sleep expecting the next morning to find the place ruined
by earthquake or fire. Instead I found it unscathed and wonder to this day what event can have
caused that appalling clamour.
***
Chapter Twenty-Seven
‘… ENJOYMENT OF PARADISE’
Significantly, the pleasantest parts of the twentieth-century Republic are often those where colonial
memories linger on; English ones in the East, French and Spanish in the deep South and South-
West, and here in the far West Spanish ones again. These traces are few, for the Spanish, and later
the Mexican, occupation only amounted to a few missions and notary posts, scattered over a huge
area, but their influence still pervades the air. Monterey was such a fragment, in a great blue bay. It
has a few surviving houses built by Don This and Don That, and even one made from the timbers
of the Natalia, in which Napoleon escaped from Elba to begin his Hundred Days and meet his
Waterloo; the ship was wrecked at Monterey in 1834.
I began the last leg of the Pacific run and soon came again to oil derricks. The irrepressible search
for oil is impressive. The day before, not far north of Los Angeles, I saw derricks marching out into
the very sea, where the water was shallow. The oil-men had drilled down through sea and sand and
on the end of little piers the strangely human pumps worked away by themselves, in their slow,
unpausing rhythm. I sometimes wondered what would happen if the prospectors one day learned
that oil lay below the lost continent of Atlantis, or in the stratosphere; no doubt they would get at it,
somehow.
The marvellous road climbed along the sides of mountains high above the sea and after fifty miles I
came, suddenly, into San Francisco. It is a fabulous city, the finest new one I saw in America;
though it is polyglot it does not bear the Babylonian stamp of the new immigration, but is
recognizably and attractively American. Its situation is exquisite. New York shows that a fine
natural setting is not enough, and may be spoiled; San Francisco has improved on its native
advantages. It is built on hills around a great, islet-studded bay, which is shaped like a ‘C’ reversed
and facing the ocean. Across the gap in the ‘C’ runs the Golden Gate Bridge, the middle span of
which, over a mile in length, is suspended in air by cables; the weight of the bridge, and the mass of
traffic which uses it, makes this even today a marvel. Far below, great liners look like small craft
and sailing-boats like tiny birds.
On the slopes around rises the white city. I do not know if the lesson of the earthquake preserved it
from the fate of New York; anyway, the highest building is not much more than twenty stories. It is
full of green parks and squares, of streets with little, clipped trees, and pleasant homes, all as bright
as new paint. A hundred years ago all that stood here was a Franciscan Mission, a Mexican fortified
post, and a few primitive habitations containing less than a thousand people. Then, as the
Americans took over, gold was found in California, and the last stage of the American conquest
was a two-way, tidal surge which flooded the remaining empty lands. The miners, ‘Forty-Niners,
rushed overland from the East, but many more came round by sea to this remote bay, landed and
pushed eastward to meet the others. Behind them San Francisco rose from the ground like a
conjuror’s tree.
The gold was found, of which Columbus, seeking the new route to the Indies, wrote, ‘It is the most
precious of all commodities; it constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in this
world, as also the means of securing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of
paradise.’ His Most Catholic Majesty’s opinion about this pronouncement is not on record, but it
throws light on the being called Columbus, who appears to have been of a pagan nature. Gold never
yet bought health or happiness and its story until today, when most of it is buried in Kentucky or
Russia, might rather suggest that it carries some inherent malison.
It would not stay with those who found it. The first was one Captain John Sutter, who ten years
earlier swore fealty to the Mexican government and was granted huge lands in the Sacramento
Valley, some sixty miles from San Francisco. He called his realm New Helvetia, in the tradition of
New England, New Netherland, New France and New Spain. In 1848 he and his partner found the
gold and before the year’s end the gold-rush was on. Sutter’s claims, like the Indians’, were brushed
aside by the swarming gold-seekers and he ended his days in Washington, vainly seeking to assert
his title. Most of the miners fared no better. Many were seamen who deserted the gold-rush ships in
San Francisco and rowed upriver to the goldfields, leaving the hulks to rot, sink, or be used as
saloons and boarding-houses; at one time five hundred derelict vessels were stranded there.
Almost overnight a city appeared. The wily ones did not go to the goldfields, but waited in San
Francisco for the miners to bring the gold to them, and soon the nuggets and gold-dust accumulated
on the gaming-tables, the saloon-counters and in the borders. San Francisco passed through a phase
of lawlessness hardly equalled in the history of white men. It was ruled by gangs of escaped
convicts or ticket-of-leave men, many of them from the British penal settlement at Sydney, so that
they were called Sydney Coves and their quarter Sydney Town (later, the Barbary Coast). In two
years the town was six times fired for pillage, but the culprits, if brought to trial at all, were freed
by venal judges prompted by purchasable politicians. The contemporary Annals of San Francisco
remark, ‘The police were few in number and poorly as well as irregularly paid. Some of them were
in league with the criminals themselves and assisted these at all times to elude justice. … Seldom
could a conviction be obtained … Not one criminal had been executed. Yet it was notorious that, at
this period, at least one hundred murders had been committed within the space of a few months.’
This was the beginning of something which remains today a major problem in American cities; the
corruption of justice. One authority, Mr. Herbert Asbury, wrote of the passage quoted, ‘It is
interesting to note how aptly this describes present-day conditions in many American cities’, and
this is a typical American comment. The period of lawlessness in San Francisco was, if not ended,
at least checked by two remarkable interventions, of a kind which have occurred only in America,
as far as I know. They were uprisings of exasperated townsfolk, who took the law into their hands
to establish some sort of law.
The student of the Republic’s story very soon finds that ‘lynching’ was not a form of infamous racial
prejudice. It was nearly always the desperate performance of a duty which police, public
prosecutors and judges refused to do, and was aimed against white malefactors. This is the reason
why Communist propaganda today incessantly attacks the memory of something that happened
many yesterdays ago; the new wreckers fear its reappearance tomorrow. In San Francisco the
Vigilance Committee spontaneously took shape and stamped out the worst dangers to individual
life and property by public executions, dissolving when order was established. While highway
violence thus decreased, the subversion of public officials by criminals became rife again later and
is as serious as it has ever been in Los Angeles today. When I was in America a leading journal,
speaking of that city, wrote, ‘California politics is shot through with graft, bribery and corruption;
the dividing line between the underworld and those sworn to defend society against gangsters and
murderers has been worn tissue-thin.’
San Francisco gradually struggled clear of the worst of these things. In 1920 the Barbary Coast was
at last subdued, and when I saw it it survived as a night-life district rather similar to Sankt Pauli, in
Hamburg. Chinatown, risen from the ashes of the fire which destroyed its fetid dens, was a placid
place of narrow streets and shops full of jade, ivory, embroideries and Chinese food. Either dead or
dormant were the bloody tong wars between the Hop Sings and Suey Sings, Sum Yops and Suey
Yops; a demure respectability prevailed where once Chinese girls, brought across the ocean, were
put to prostitution; however, if Chinese girls were no longer ’sold down the river’ at this mid-
century, China itself could be, and was. The tong wars were ended by the last Manchu Emperor,
Kwang Hsu. Appealed to from San Francisco, he called in his statesman, Li Hung-chang, who said,
‘The matter has been attended to; I have cast into prison all relatives of the Suey Yops in China and
have cabled to California that their heads will be chopped off if another Sum Yop is killed in San
Francisco.’ At that time no man foresaw that the oriental torture of holding relatives as hostages
would be introduced into Europe by the Communist Empire.
Life in San Francisco, I thought, should be good. I liked to dine at leisure in the restaurants of
Fisherman’s Wharf and then drive to my distant cabin across the Golden Gate Bridge, looking for
the dazzling night picture of the city. I seldom saw it because the bridge was often wrapped in a
black fog, so that only the next two or three lights along the bridge itself were visible. This ride
through a black tunnel, hundreds of feet above the bay, was at first an experience as startling as the
under-river one in New York. The town behind was hot; up here the air was chilly and dank and the
fog swirled and eddied round like black cotton wool, through which vehicles suddenly loomed,
whoosh-whooshed past and were gone. I found that fog on this bridge is a habitual and unwelcome
visitor. The townsfolk were clearly used to it, for all traffic continued at unabated speed. I was glad
to clear it and the hill beyond and run downhill into a crystal-clear night, sparkling with lights.
One Sunday night I sat outside my cabin and watched the weekend traffic, returning to the city by a
road which ran before my eyes straight for many miles into the country. I could see the headlights
of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of cars, all pressing hard on each other’s wheels and racing
for bridge and city. That unbroken stream must have stretched for twenty, thirty, perhaps fifty
miles, and did not cease or slacken; it was as if a gigantic horde of beetles, three abreast, came
thronging out of the night with blazing eyes.
I can picture almost any earthly event or calamity, and even a trip to the moon. My mind could not
envisage the day when America has twice as many motor vehicles. Would the whole land become
one great conveyor-belt, filled with things on wheels? Would they all take wings and fly? The stray
wayfarer may wonder, but such problems bother no American; he will fix that, or it will fix itself.
*** Chapter Twenty-Eight
SNAKE-TEMPO IN SACRAMENTO
Turning my back to the ocean and my face towards the long overland journey again, I drove round
the shores of San Francisco Bay. Behind me the fog-blanket still lay over the mountains but I rode
beneath clear skies into a great fertile plain that stretched far inland. Sparkling creeks invaded it
and once, when I thought deep water far behind, I came to one where half the American Navy
seemed moored or laid up. Between commercial announcements and soap opera the car radio called
on young men to volunteer for various services. Thinking of Western arms supplied to the
Communist Empire and the Zionist State, I reflected that ample weapons should be at hand, in all
camps, to begin any new affray, and that ‘private arms manufacturers’ could never again be blamed
for this. If it happened, American and British fighting-men would again find themselves opposed
by arms bearing the marks of their own factories, or made by their own machines, ‘lease-lent’; much
of the gold, too, which the ‘Forty-Niners wrested from this Californian soil, had gone that way.
I ran through these historical gold-rush lands to Sacramento, which contains all that remains of
‘New Helvetia’: the fort John Sutter built in 1839 against the Indians; it is now a quiet and lovely
place of lawns and hedges and loopholed walls hung with wisteria. Sacramento, beneath the curious
bear-and-star flag, is the State capital of California, an enchanting white town of flowers and
blossom, parks and fountains, trees and palms, set beside a broad blue river in a verdant plain. It
has the charm which some cities seem to be given at birth and others never acquire. I went to its
post office and was arrested by the sight of a young man who stood statuesquely at its door.
His hair fell to his waist and his beard to his chest. He wore a square of green material draped over
his shoulders and fastened at the neck, and two other squares joined to make breeches, so that his
chest, lower legs and feet were bare. He held a staff and a toy snake, of the kind sold in the five-
and-ten-cent stores, and a rough leather satchel with a sheet of paper protruding from it, on which I
read, ‘Sundog’. People stopped, stared, murmured and giggled. A man said audibly, ‘Why is that
guy standing there? Who does he think he is, John the Baptist?’ A woman sniggered.
I disliked the mockers. Clearly he served his faith, whatever it might be, in this strange way; if this
was his manner of upholding his God, he might at least be left alone. But of what religion, old or
new, could he be the prophet, this lonely man of Sacramento? I went towards him and saw he might
be blind. ‘Why are you here?’ I said. ‘This is part of a publicity campaign to popularize my new
dance-music,’ he said. Illusions fell from me. I should have known, I thought.
‘Oh, is this music, and are you selling it?’ I said, drawing out the sheet marked ‘Sundog’. ‘Yes,’ he
said, ‘anything from [ed: for?] a penny.’ ‘So you are doing this for publicity,’ I said, ‘is that why you
are dressed so? Your appearance suggested a religious motive.’ ‘I always dress like this,’ he said, ‘it
isn’t much of a compliment to compare me with John the Baptist, I’m not a Christian.’ ‘I didn’t
compare you with John the Baptist,’ I said, ‘that was a compatriot of yours.’ ‘But I’ve been expecting
you to, everybody does,’ he said. ‘Not everybody,’ I said. ‘No doubt you observe,’ he said changing
the subject, ‘that all my clothing and appurtenances are in the form of squares?’ I saw that a small
leather-pouch, for money, was also square. ‘Ah, yes, so they are,’ I said, ‘is that good?’ ‘My ear-
rings, too,’ he said, proudly touching leather pendants from his lobes, ‘I had them made by Indians.’
I looked at the music. ‘What does Sundog mean?’ I said. ‘I am Sundog,’ he said simply, as if that
told all. ‘And is this really dance-music,’ I said, looking at the sheet, ‘has it a dance-rhythm?’ ‘Well, I
don’t know what you understand by dance-rhythm,’ he said. ‘I’m just quoting Sundog,’ I said, ‘it says
here, “a new song in a new dance-rhythm”.’ ‘Well, I call it snake-time,’ he said and then I saw that,
to clinch the matter, he carried two five-and-ten-cent snakes, ‘as a matter of fact my ambition is to
conduct, like Toscanini.’ ‘How is your sight?’ I said, gently. ‘There isn’t any,’ he said. ‘But then, how
would you conduct?’ I said. ‘Oh, I would not attempt to conduct any music but my own, which I
know by heart.’ ‘Are you always here?’ I said. ‘No, I arrived last night and go on tomorrow,’ he said.
‘How do you travel?’ I asked. ‘By overland bus, he said, ‘I’m going to Denver from here.’
I felt I had started something I could not finish. There ought to be a graceful way of ending this, I
thought; perhaps a sinuous pas-de-deux performed by Sundog and myself on the steps of
Sacramento post office; but I could not find the right note and somewhat abruptly left him, a half-
naked man draped in green, blind and with hair to his waist, to popularize his snake-rhythm in the
sun. I drove away and on the road was puzzled by the presence of new thumbers, many of them, in
couples, male and female, with suit cases. Then I remembered that this was the road to Reno, to
quick divorce and immediate re-marriage. As nearly everybody in America owns at least one car I
wondered why they did not transport themselves. I could only guess an answer: they thought it
more romantic to thumb a ride. However, I gave them none, but put green Sacramento behind me
and continued along towards the arid lands again.
*** Chapter Twenty-Nine
WIDE OPEN TOWN
Leaving cornfields, ricefields and orchards behind, I began to climb the Sierra Nevada, through
sweet-smelling firs; I was not to see much else that grew green for many hundreds of miles.
Suddenly a roadside sign said, ‘Snow conditions on this route’. I disbelieved it and thought it must
remain there from winter to winter; I was sweating and the engine showed familiar signs of
overheating. Then, peering ahead, I saw a great blanket of greyblack cloud, immobile, which
looked like the permanent cloud-cap of snow mountains, and wondered. I passed altitude signs that
said three, four and five thousand feet and before I reached six thousand the car just struggled over
a crest and stopped; the map showed two thousand feet yet to climb. So much for smartypants in
Hollywood, I thought, who blew a pound or two of winged insects out of the radiator and said I
should have no more hot engine.
Cars seem even more sensitive than human beings to changes of temperature and altitude. This
excellent one (a friend’s) disliked heat and height and I wondered how I should surmount the pass.
While I waited lightning jaggedly cleft the black mass of motionless cloud ahead; clearly storms
raged there. At last the engine cooled and I went on. To my surprise the heat-needle went back and
back; the car, recognizing familiar New England temperatures, was enjoying itself. I passed log
cabins and lumber camps among the firs, and clearings where the grass was of a green I never saw
before, and ran into the sleety storm. ‘Slippery when wet’, said the roadside notices; round a bend
were a great truck, wrecked, and a car wrapped round a tree, and skidmarks everywhere, and men
gazing lugubriously at the mess; mountainside crashes in America are awe-inspiring affairs. I went
on again, now shivering, a few miles from the wilting heat of the plain. Suddenly I came to snow
and a high road where I seemed to ride along the tips of fir trees. Then, all at once, I was over the
summit and far below a great turquoise lake lay among silent conifers. I had climbed eight
thousand feet in fifty miles; now I lost two thousand feet in a few moments, serpentining down a
nearly vertical corkscrew road with the gear in first, towards lonely, unfriendly country, the Nevada
State line, and Reno.
Nevada, between the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies, is the least habitable and least inhabited State.
The settlers shunned its cold barrenness. The miners rushed to it for gold, silver and copper, but the
lodes grew weary and gave out. It might have reverted to wilderness, but the American spirit does
not brook that. Substitutes for natural fertility and mineral wealth were devised. Nevada calls itself
‘The Cyclone Cellar of the Tax-Weary’. Notices at the State boundary offer new inducements to
settlers; the State levies no taxes on income, inheritance, death, sales, gift or anything else. Nevada
is solvent, for revenue is gained in other ways. One famous one is simplified divorce and marriage.
Another is company-formation; directors and shareholders need not live in, ever see or own any
initial capital in Nevada, to form a company there. A third is the wide-open regime for drinking and
gaming.
‘Wide open’ is a term of the first importance in America. It means the saloon that never shuts, the
swing-doors that only remain closed until they are pushed. Nevada is wide open and if it were
bigger and more populous the bonanza kings of the underworld might all retire to it. They need a
bigger field and operate all over the Republic, especially in the great cities, which have populations
many times that of the whole of Nevada. Great untaxed fortunes are today only to be made through
drink, drugs, gambling and prostitution (or a lucky oil-strike) and in the main centres of population
the vice-rings concentrate all energy on getting and keeping all those doors ‘wide open’, through the
bribery of officials. The rewards they can offer are large, for the sky (and the openness of the
doors) seem the only limits to the traffic. The clutch of the underworld thus closes round party-
machines and reaches high into the control of politics. It is a tumour in the body politic and civic of
which all are aware but which none dares to remove.
Reno is a small fish in that murky pond. The big prizes, of money and political control, are in such
places as Chicago and Saint Louis. Reno gives, in miniature, the picture of what a lawfully wide-
open city would be. Most of the big ones pretend to forbid or regulate drink, gaming and
prostitution, then tacitly tolerating them through subverted officials. In Reno wide-openness is the
law; all is open as the day and open all night. No need exists to build a saloon athwart the county
line and shift all the tables across it until a new sheriff has been ‘taken care of’(this happens
elsewhere). In Reno the thing is a tourist-attraction and source of revenue, in an infertile land.
In glittering streets the saloons stand side by side as they stood in the wild days, the trophies and
relics of which cover their walls. They are filled, night and day, with newlyweds and newly-
unweds, tourists, and a few persistent natives, drinking and gaming. The calling of gambler is a
lawful one. These eye-shaded men, who operate the tables of roulette, poker, faro and many other
games, still wear the tight-lipped, expressionless face of their trade. Some of the gamblers are
women, dressed as dude-ranch cowgirls, who carry their names on brooches: Bessie, Anne or Jean.
Many women play, too, among a unique, continuous noise like the clicking of countless
typewriters. It is that of the slot-machines; I counted three hundred in one saloon. The gamblers no
longer carry guns; they do not need to, for the players only too eagerly stand and deliver to the one-
armed bandits. That delightful cartwheel, the silver dollar, is now illegal in America, I believe, but
in Nevada is the common currency; Nevada has silver-mines still and no gaming-machine will
respond to the insertion of a paper note.
The profits of the traffic are beyond accountancy. An institution which surveyed it reported that
fifty million Americans (one in three) gamble regularly. Each year they pay eight milliard dollars to
bookmakers, another milliard to the gaming-machines, and one more milliard to the ‘numbers
racket’ (similar in essentials to the English football pools, which similarly appeared not long ago in
an affair involving the subversion of officials). A substantial share of the proceeds goes to
undermine the law.
A New York judge who collaborated in this investigation saw no clear remedy, saying that the root
of the trouble lay in the people themselves. Few knew that the dice were loaded against them, he
said, but even if they knew did not care; they were like the man who was warned that a game was
crooked and replied, ‘I know, but it’s the only game in town’. That is another way of saying ‘There’s
nothing else to do and, to be understood, needs to be considered against the whole background of
American life as it has come to be shaped by the aversion from literature and music, the
disappearance of the theatre, the lack of small gardens and private domains, and the common
feeling that the cultivation of the mind is effeminate. In Nevada you may come at midnight to some
tiny, remote place and find the dealers shuffling and the machines click-clacking in a dozen
saloons. To reach the only game in town Americans will come from towns very far away. In the
Nevada desert is a place of twenty-five thousand people, Las Vegas. In 1950 a new ‘gambling joint’
was opened there which had a large swimming-pool, a coloured fountain thirty-five feet high, a
floor-show costing several thousand pounds weekly, the kind of chef who uses a sword and a super
doll’s-house for guests’ babies. It cost about a million pounds to build and on the opening night
about £250,000, at current rates, changed hands.
Reno, glittering beneath wild mountains, was an experience indeed. My evenings there, however,
were spent more profitably than with the one-armed bandits. My cabin-proprietor’s daughter was a
Western film star, a remarkable girl who carried on a regular broadcast programme; in this way her
father had come by a collection of sound-effect records, used in radio work, with which he
entertained and instructed me. The old sound-effects man (glass of water, peas in a tray, coco-nut
shells) has clearly passed on. There seemed no imaginable noise which was not somewhere on
these disks, from a cat having its tail twisted to a dogfight, a baby crying, the screech of brakes,
horses snickering, whinnying and neighing. Applause there was, too, in every possible degree. I
already knew how the cheers in the Red Square at Moscow are made; but now I shall never again
believe even in the plaudits of a twentieth-century studio audience.
*** Chapter Thirty
THE GHOST OF GOLD
In another dawn I set out from Reno across mountain meadows and climbed to six thousand feet in
the Sierras, bound for Virginia City. Not long ago this road was a rough track down which the
swaying, four-horsed stage-coaches came, bullion bars beneath the seats, sparks flashing from the
tortured tires, drivers straining on the great brakes, passengers clinging to the sides; here,
sometimes, one rolled over the edge into the canyon below, or masked bandits waited. Now, when
Virginia City was dead, it was a superb modern highway and the changing picture of the angry
ranges was magnificent in the early light.
I came over a summit and into the gold camp. Half-ruined, lifeless, it lay in the rising sun. My
footsteps rang loud and hollow on the plank sidewalks, like those of some spectral visitant to a
haunted manse. The boards were worn by departed miners’ boots so that knots in the wood stuck up
like thumbs. Behind their awnings the sagging saloons leaned against each other; the Bucket of
Blood, the Bonanza, the Brass Rail, the Gold Nugget and many more. It was as if miners, sheriffs,
saloon-keepers and sporting girls had been spirited away not long before. In the dusty, broken
windows of tumbledown shops lay odds and ends of old stock, women’s hats of the 1890s and the
like. From decaying walls peeled brave posters of the Christy Minstrels marching into town.
The impatient American spirit marches roughly over the past. What do you do with an old
automobile, or a played-out mining-camp? Why, junk them! Ghost towns are numerous in the
West. Some have vanished, some are deserted ruins, some are ‘coming back’. Always a few people
remained who would not or could not leave. In those which have not ‘come back’ their lot is as
lonely as that of hermits. Others discovered the sightseers’ value of their townships, collected the
relics, cleaned the place a little, reopened the bars, and created a simulacrum of the Old West. The
tourists came agape and roads were made to help them. A little life returned, of a new kind.
Virginia City is one of the most successful in making the best of its abandonment. Here, in 1864,
the Comstock Lode was struck, and the news went round the earth. The Californian miners flocked
to Nevada when they heard it, and San Francisco grew faster still. The Bonanza Kings were the
lords of this ‘good earth’ (’borrasca’, the Spanish-Mexicans called the goldless kind). In Virginia
City and adjoining camps were sixty thousand people. It was another windfall for the North, though
the Virginia Citizens were deeply divided about the Civil War far away and hung opposing flags
from poles which now bear bullet marks; one woman saloon-keeper, who climbed a mast to lower
the Union and hoist the Confederate flag, was shot as she came down.
Here Mark Twain edited the Territorial Enterprise. Virginia City, like all new towns of that
American day, built a theatre, Piper’s Opera House, which still stands. When Ghost Town was Gold
Town the best singers and players and the great professional beauties came to this remote place;
Edwin Booth, Caruso, Lily Langtry, Maxine Elliott, Harry Lauder, Charles Wyndham, Patti,
Paderewski, Lottie Collins and Dion Boucicault with his Lights of London. The theatre still has the
window where gentlemen parked their guns, and the playbills of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (those
yellowing posters remain more exciting than the most lurid placards of today’s picturemakers). As
the auditorium was flat the stage was tilted upward from footlights to backcloth, so that the
rearmost miner could see all of Lily in a long gown or Lottie in a short skirt. A temperamental
barnstormer or emotional actress would have needed to avoid any over-impetuous movement
(hands uplifted to heaven and eyes upturned to the gallery) on this stage, or they might have broken
into a trot and been unable to pull up before they fell among the musicians.
While I wandered round Virginia City awoke. The saloons opened and men strewed sawdust on
their floors. Once this absorbed more than dregs; in one saloon Suicide Table is preserved, where
three successive proprietors shot themselves after losing all at a dice-throw. The miners are gone
and minors are not served; at breakfast-time, however, I saw a man reel through a swing-door who
looked as if he stepped out of the 1890s. Possibly he too was there for verisimilitude; if he was, he
seemed happy in his work for later, when I imagined him snoring in bed, I saw him stagger through
another swing-door.
Lost in the mountains, Virginia City too has the stuff of a morality’ play (a picture-play was made
about it once, but elsewhere, though the place itself is a perfect Western film-set, ready-made).
Here the gold-seekers impoverished the earth. In California gold was got by washing gravel but the
Comstock Lode wove its glittering way deep through mountains, and underground-timbering
began, six hundred miles of workings. For sixty miles around every tree was taken and now the
mountainsides are bare. Perhaps £200,000,000 worth of gold and silver were taken, then the lode
ran out, the miners dispersed, fires and weather ruined the town, until it struggled back to its
present ghostly state. The morality play ends with a riddle: what purpose is the gold serving now?
I drove back through Reno, past ‘Desert ahead’ signs, towards more arduous journeys. At long
intervals in the stony, scrubby desert fingerposts pointed to remote, invisible habitations, This
Ranch or That Ranch. The loneliness of the open range survives, without its freedom, for the wire
was everywhere. I came to the first of the salt lakes. From one the wind swirled the salt-dust into a
constant, vertical shape; until I drew near I thought it was a geyser blowing. The Bible says that
Lot’s wife, when she turned to look at the ruin of Sodom, was turned into ‘a pillar of salt’. I
wondered if this eerie white column in the desert was that which the words meant. Did Lot’s wife
vanish in a Salt-storm, pillar-like in shape? Much might be clearer in the Bible if we comprehended
its allusions better.
Here small places were fifty or a hundred miles between. This is a trap for the solitary traveller,
who is ever tempted to try and reach one more township and may find himself struggling through
the night in fading hope of bed or food. I passed glittering, miniature Reno’s, called Winnemucca
and Elko, where the cabin-camps were full, and at midnight was still pressing on through a black,
empty land where the rare names on the map proved to be but filling-stations (each full of gaming-
machines). I was resigned to a cold night in the car when I came suddenly on a place called Wells,
which I found next day to have but 1400 inhabitants. It blazed with light in the desert and at one
o’clock in the morning twenty saloons were wide open. None had more than three or four guests,
but in each the banker dealt cards to these few inveterates, and clearly no establishment would
close while one player or tippler remained in it.
I found a room, but not sleep. In the next one a curious company, a man, woman and dog, kept up a
weird chorus of talk, laughter and yelping through the night, so that I needed no alarm to start again
before dawn. At four the sun, like a light suddenly switched on, burst over a mountaintop and not
long afterwards I came over another one and saw an amazing sight: the Great Salt Lake, lifeless,
unwrinkled and opalescent, about a hundred miles of it. The mountains mirrored in it were
duplicates more than reflections; it had a dazzling shimmer and sheen. The road ran straight into
and across its few inches of water, with a railway beside it laid on banked earth. Then the water
ceased and only the hard, glittering salt remained, where the speed-contestants have driven racing
cars at three hundred miles an hour. A river, named the Jordan, flows into the Great Salt Lake and
disappears, in theory by evaporation. No living thing, save a little shrimp, can exist in it.
In the middle of it I had my first flat tire. The night before I shivered and saw the faint luminosity
of snowcaps in the darkness; now I was drenched with sweat before I changed the wheel. In the
West you alternate between Saharan and Alpine conditions suddenly and recurrently. At last the job
was done and I ran on into Salt Lake City, in time for breakfast.
*** Chapter Thirty-One
IN HONEYBEELAND
Salt Lake City, the capital of ‘Friendly Utah’ (as the State-line notices truly say), differed
astonishingly from all else in America. In spirit, this seemed another world.
Utah lies deep in the barren West, with gold-rush or cattle States on all sides. The pioneers who
founded those neighbouring States went there to get gold or land. Another motive drew the
pioneers to Utah; the one which brought many of the first settlers to America. The Puritans and
Pilgrims called it flight from religious persecution. To Utah, when it was wilderness, men came for
religious freedom, and for its sake settled in the bleakest place they could find. When a Mormon
leader, dazzled by California, hurried back from San Francisco to entice the main body of
Mormons thither, his superior, Brigham Young, refused to move. The Mormons, he said, would
decline in a competitive community and perish in trying to colonize a seaport. These pioneers alone
resisted the lure of gold or rich lands and stayed to struggle with a desert. From that beginning grew
a State dissimilar from today’s forty-seven others. Were it surrounded by deep water it might now
be the independent State of Deseret (Mormon for ‘Honeybeeland’); fantastic realms grew in these
parts a century ago.
The story is amazing. On September 21st, 1823, Joseph Smith, an obscure 17-year old youth, at his
village home in New York State was visited by an angel of the Lord, Moroni, who told him of a
book, written on golden plates, that was buried in a hill there. It contained ‘the fulness of the
everlasting Gospel’, and two stones were buried with it which contained the keys to its translation
‘from the ancient ‘Egyptian’. Four years later the same heavenly messenger delivered these to
Joseph Smith, and received them back when the translation was done. It was ‘The Book of
Mormon’, on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded. Its lesson was to
the effect, among much more, that the North American Indians were a lost people of Israel and that
the American lands would see a Second Coming.
Who would believe that? The time was one when men and women, in a new country, eagerly
flocked to new sects; these were often profitable to the leaders; Shakers and Holy Rollers
flourished. However, all religions were born in happenings inexplicable by scientific analysis, and
their prophets all claimed to have received revelations and tables of laws. The Mormons believe in
the message to Joseph Smith as others believe in the visions of Buddha, the appearance of God to
Abraham, the visions of Saul on the road to Damascus and the revelations made to Mohammed.
Anyway, Joseph Smith was martyred for his faith or killed for his presumption, whichever may fit.
He founded his church in New York State; was driven into Ohio (where the first temple was built);
driven out again to Illinois, where the Mormons built a city, Nauvoo, and their numbers grew. Then
Joseph Smith and his brother were imprisoned and, while awaiting trial, taken out by an armed mob
and shot. Once more the Mormons, under their new leader, Brigham Young, trekked; this time over
the Rockies to Utah. They stopped where Salt Lake City now is, built a city, temple and State, and
made a desert blossom like the rose.
Joseph Smith was hated because he introduced plural marriage, claiming that this too was a divine
command. Moral opinions about polygamy vary in different religions and countries. In America,
where Mrs. Beecher Stowe and the Abolitionists were whipping up hatred of the South by depicting
Simon Legree surrounded by black concubines, polygamy in the West was politically embarrassing
to New England and the North. Mormon records say it was popular with Mormon women;
however, the dead cannot testify. In the 1890s the Mormons repudiated polygamy, not from
conviction but to gain membership of the United States, as a State. It is outlawed today and a small
obdurate group, which tries to persist, is sternly repressed; however, Mormons are not deeply
persuaded against it.
The story of Utah under Brigham Young is as remarkable as the man. A Christian potentate with
many wives, he truly kinged it over Honeybeeland. His official residence, the Beehive House, and
his private residence, the Lion House, remain, the one with the beehive atop and the other with the
lion over the door, and both emblems are apt to this strong and busy man, for the two houses are
connected by a passage and each of the gables of the Lion House marks a wife’s bedroom. In the
roadway near them stands his statue; Mormons and non-Mormons both like to point out with a
smile that his back is turned towards the Mormon Temple while his face, and outstretched arm with
open hand upturned, are directed towards the Zion Savings Bank (a Mormon institution).
The persecuted often become persecutors and Brigham Young followed precedent. His gunmen, the
‘Destroying Angels’, were feared by rebels and apostates. They could not subdue the exile leader in
far San Francisco, Samuel Brannan (who kept his own bodyguard and left the Church) but they
dealt harshly with a small dissident group which broke away in 1862, declaring that Brigham
Young was not the divinity he claimed to be. Their leader, one Joseph Morris, said he had seen
visions, conversed with God and was the Lord’s annointed. These Morrisites did what the Mormons
had done; they packed, trekked and settled some forty miles away. Brigham Young sent five
hundred men with artillery after them and mowed them down.
However Joseph Smith and Brigham Young may appear at the final balance, the fact emerges that
Mormonism has achieved something exceptional in this place, since 1847. Possibly God bestows
His blessing on those who seek, whatever their leaders, the merit being in the search; the Mormon
faith is Christian. Many parts of the West speak of the malevolence of nature or the decay of
human schemes; in this desert spot is peace, confidence, sober living and the feeling of civilization.
Salt Lake City, though small, is more of a city than many bigger ones; it has urbanity, a gentler way
of life, and the belief that God is more than gold. These things show themselves in the kindlier
manner of people, the unhurried traffic, the drinking fountains at every corner and the rills of clear
mountain water that constantly freshen the gutters, in the appearance of streets and homes, and in
temperate habits. The Mormons control Utah, though they are not in the majority. Accordingly the
State is not ‘wide open’; drinking and gaming are restricted; across the State’s borders stand ‘Last
Chance’ saloons for those who wish to pay a last forfeit to the one-armed bandit before entering
Utah, or to provide against thirstiness inside it. The Mormons do not drink liquor, eat moderately,
and pay a tithe of their earnings to their church; Utah heads the health and longevity tables.
Mormon legend says that Brigham Young, when he emerged from the mountains with his first
exhausted band after their long trek and saw this dead land between him and a dead sea, struck his
staff on it like the prophet and said, ‘Here we will build a temple to our Lord!’ That is legend; but
anyway, the solitary place was glad, the desert has blossomed, and the temple was built within forty
years. It is to this city what another temple was to Jerusalem; all streets are built to and from it;
‘First South and ‘Fifteenth West’ mean ‘from the Temple’ (which only Mormon initiates may enter).
The Tabernacle, behind it, is a huge oval building with a dome twelve feet thick entirely supported
by great buttresses around its sides; that might not be a simple architectural problem today, but the
Mormon pioneers built it with their own hands soon after they reached this barren spot. Legend,
again, says that the Salt Lake City seagulls came in answer to Mormon prayer and ate the locusts
which destroyed their first efforts at cultivation. The seagulls are certainly there, and unexpected to
see by the dead sea into which a river called the Jordan vanishes. It is all very strange.
Whatever its past or future, Salt Lake City today is a pleasantly reposeful island in America’s
unease. What has been built here was built on faith and is strong. In the gentler spirit of the place
the traffic frenzy and the parking terror fall away. People move in measured time and the air is not
rent with clamour. Prices are lower, and hands do not grasp. A spacious place has been set aside for
‘out of State’ cars, so that the traveller comes to a haven.
What Utah may become, who knows? The stranger soon meets the resident who dislikes the
Mormons, and the man who says ‘The only good thing about this place is the climate’. The critics
complain that the poor man cannot buy beer by the glass but the rich one can drink what he likes in
the great, Mormon-owned hotel. The non-Mormon population is growing and might in time swamp
Salt Lake City as it has swamped other places. Nevertheless, the organization founded by Joseph
Smith and Brigham Young has proved very strong and supple and has kept civic control for a
hundred years. I doubt if the world has anything quite like it.
I went to bathe in the Great Salt Lake, where dawn and sunset paint lurid hues on a lustrous ivory
palette. You cannot sink, but cannot swim with comfort; notices warn you not to get the briny water
in eyes, nose or throat. Also, in this one place where depth does not matter, you can hardly get out
of your depth; after a mile of plodding the water only reached my waist. It was wonderful for sun-
bathing, and oddly, the sun did not burn. The first Spanish explorers were told by Indians, ‘It is a
very harmful lake; any part of the body bathed in it becomes inflamed at once’. Expecting to be
quickly scorched, I emerged, not even pink, but covered with white salt, which brushed off in
masses. Medicinally, this bathing might be fine; after it, and some days in and around pleasant Salt
Lake City, I was more than restored from a long and wearing journey, and went on to Colorado
fighting fit.
*** Chapter Thirty-Two
COLORADO: EL DORADO
Colorado was bleak. As in Nevada, the soil here is hostile to man; Utah stands between the two as a
human victory unique in these parts, one of faith. In Colorado the ranchers and homesteaders often
had to give up after their flocks and herds had eaten the soil dry so that it reverted to sagebrush,
thirty-five acres of which will feed but one cow. What brought it fame and population lay beneath
the soil. At the period when the Republic drew an ace every time it cut the pack, Colorado saw a
third strike like those of Sutter in California and the Comstock Lode in Nevada. In those days,
when Pizarro’s mythical City of Gold between the Amazon and Orinoco still gleamed brightly in
the legends of Spanish-speaking men, it was El Dorado come true. In 1859 the gold-seekers rushed
towards the Rockies and the gold, chalking ‘Pike’s Peak or bust’ on their covered wagons or hand-
carts. The westward-moving frontier jumped 700 miles at a bound towards the glitter of gold in
those bitter ranges.
The day was very hot when I reached the Rockies. The engine stalled again and before me lay a
pass 11,500 feet high. I longed to be over the great north-south spine and on my way towards green
lands. Soon after I started afresh, however, I was more in danger of frostbite than heatstroke. I went
up and up, through alpine water-meadows where streams and rivulets bubbled, through the deep
and sorrowful silence of forests on high slopes, up to bare rock blanketed with snow where ski-ers
sported and into mournful grey cloud; then down through a long ravine, describing the letter ‘S’
until I was dizzy, into desert-heat again and Denver. I stopped at the first place I saw to have a
broken cable repaired, and while I waited was kept in talk by an old gentleman who stood around.
Age may be solitary, amid the pace that passeth understanding. Wherever I went I saw these old
folk. The vestibules of cheap hotels, particularly, were always full of them, big-hatted, shirt-
sleeved, suspendered; waiting, watching, thinking. They were there from dawn to dusk, seldom
speaking save to ask a stranger whence he came, whither he was bound, what he did. They seemed
cast on some sandbank of life’s estuary where they awaited its submerging tide with passive
rancour. Mr. Somerset Maugham observed them: ‘When I have travelled through America I have
often asked myself what sort of men those were whom I saw in the parlour-cars of trains or in the
lounge of an hotel, in rocking-chairs, a spittoon by their sides, looking out of a large plate-glass
window at the street. I have wondered what their lives were, what they thought of and how they
looked upon existence … With a soft hat on the back of their heads, chewing a cigar, they were as
strange to me as the Chinese and more impenetrable. Often I have tried to speak with them, but I
have found no common language in which I could converse with them. They have filled me with
timidity.’
Inscrutable they are, and they have a fixed place in the hurried American scene. The absence of
seats in public places might be part of this mystery of the old folk, as of the hard lot of the bums. (I
once asked a man about this and he said, ‘If you put seats in the parks bums sit on them. I said that
seemed the natural destiny of seats and bums. He said you couldn’t encourage bums. I said I didn’t
see how they could he discouraged and what should we do without them? He looked worried, as if
he thought me a subversive.) In a small Western town, in 1922, a druggist put a bench outside his
store. At once it became ‘a loafing headquarters for the local gaffers’, men between sixty and a
hundred who sat there year in, year out, ‘looking like a jury of irritable terrapins, whittling, spitting
and passing judgment on everything that passed’ (an American newspaper description; these old
gentlemen do load the air with a verdict of censorious spite). By 1949, after a quarter-century of
this daily condemnation, the housewives were so unnerved that they asked the druggist to remove
the bench, saying, ‘Why, they must spit two or three gallons a day! They ain’t died fast enough,
these old men.’ The bench was removed, but the aged men made such a fuss that it was soon put
back, and they are on it now.
This old gentleman of Denver was loquacious, and gave me an acid commentary on the times. Aw
hell, he said, when he was married before the Spanish-American war (1898) he and his wife lived a
year in a box-car; he was ‘on the railroad and she was game’. Then she found a one-room apartment
and wanted her own furniture. Hell, she got it all for 42 dollars, secondhand; ‘after all, once you got
furniture it’s secondhand anyway, ain’t it?’ He let that apartment, furnished, for 59 dollars a month
in 1918; ten years later he was glad to get 15 dollars for it. He paid 399 dollars for his first
automobile; now 399 dollars was just the down-payment. Hell, the young folks today thought the
down-payment was the end; they didn’t trouble to think about the payments to come. When they
bought furniture they had to have everything of the best, hell, 400 dollars for the bedroom suite,
300 for the dining-room suite, hell, they’d do better putting 3000 or 4000 dollars away for the hard
times ahead. Business was slowing down but, hell, the punks who drew big money from the
government thought it ought to go on like that for ever. What would happen to all the production in
a few years time when money was tight and the European countries were recovering and sending
their goods across? The punks would see, aw hell.
He gave me some insight into the minds of these old folks who sit around. I drove on into Denver,
settled myself and looked about me. Denver, like Reno and all the mining-camps, sprang up
overnight, but it has taken firm root, flourished, and is now the biggest city of the West, until you
reach the Pacific. Like Haw Tabor, who chiefly built it, many bonanza kings died in penury, but
others reached Pike’s Peak and were not later ‘busted’; they founded families still wealthy and
powerful in Denver today. Around the real-gold-leafed dome of its Capitol spreads a town of great
contrasts; its main streets are as fine and its mean ones as squalid as any in America.
My lodging was in the poorer part, among tumbledown brick and adobe houses, intersected with
dark alleyways and inhabited by a diversified breed, of many colours. Larimer Street was near and
gave me my first close view of a thoroughfare as distinctively American, at its level, as Main
Street. Here, where the varigated throng surges to and fro, slop-shops, pop-shops and junk-shops,
bars, saloons and snooker-pool rooms neighbour each other, with the neon cross of an occasional
Rescue Mission between, and the whole pot boils day and night; the hard-drinkers perch on their
stools before breakfast and at almost every hour.
With memories of Edna May, I went into one mission room, where seven little coloured children,
seven elderly men (two of whom slept), and two young men confronted a preacher and a young
woman who told the seven children the parable of the Lost Sheep. Mission work must be hard in
these wide-open surroundings. The traveller who talks with Americans soon comes to some
understanding of the Prohibition experiment. It failed because moral attitudes cannot be enforced
by legislation. Not much effort has been made, by taxation or other means, to temper the abundance
or potency of liquor, and possibly none is feasible (in ghostly Virginia City, when I was there, the
few citizens voted unanimously against reducing the number of saloons on the ground that this was
an attack on the American Constitution). Thus the trade, and any effects it may have, continue
almost unregulated, with local exceptions. Many Americans dislike this unrestrictedness.
In Larimer Street every third establishment seemed to be a pawnshop. Once it was the centre of
fashion in growing Denver; now Denver has moved away from it and the elegance of the large
hotel there, which was once ‘the last word in luxury’, is hard to picture today. I found its entrance
hall full of the usual veterans, waiting in judgment, and its bar empty save for one woman, who
sang. She might have weighed seventeen stone and had the remains either of beauty or of what
Wilde called really remarkable ugliness. She had a very strong stage personality and a more
powerful voice than I ever heard in a woman. In London, perhaps, she might not have needed to
spend her days serenading bygone triumphs at a decaying bar, for London loves its Kate Carneys
and Florrie Fordes to the end. None but myself heeded her or her song, which shook the rafters, and
also dated her; it was, ‘Teasing, teasing, I was only teasing you’.
I went back to my hotel and tarried among the ancients who sat there because one, in loud tones,
told a strange tale. Things overheard often defy explanation and, as I missed the beginning, I was
left without the clue to an astonishing human experience. What I heard was, oft- repeated in accents
of reverent emphasis, ‘The doctor made me drink a pint of whisky a day for ninety days to drive the
stuff out of my system. A pint of whisky a day for ninety days! I was drunk for ninety days! And I
don’t drink! I don’t touch whisky. I told him I’d never taste it again. But he made me drink a pint of
whisky a day for ninety days!’
I wonder still what ailment was cured by this treatment. The evening of this man’s days was plainly
to be cheered by the recounting of his ninety days and life had left him little else to tell; that was
made clear when, having exhausted even this theme, he buttonholed a newcomer and urged him to
see this or that picture, then showing in town. The stranger, disappointing man, was a commercial
traveller who spent every evening watching pictures and had already seen them all. To that the
elderly man replied, ‘Then you cain’t do nuthin’ here. There’s nuthin’ else to do. I go to ‘em all. The
pictures is my only pleasure.’
At that I went upstairs, pondering the consolations of age.
*** Chapter Thirty-Three
MYSTERIOUS WAY
I saw another aspect of the American scene in Denver: revivalism. Apparently Denver is a centre of
it and it has several permanent ‘revival churches’. Their advertisements stirred my curiosity. These
offered faith-healing to the music of accordions and steel guitars, and an evangelist who was to take
a piano apart and play upon the strings of a piano with accompaniment of another piano. I
wondered if that added up to two pianos or three, and went to see.
I found a large, barnlike building in a humble district. Strange sounds, as of sorrow or illness, came
from it and inside I discovered about a thousand men, women and children, who emitted them. On
the platform a man made various announcements and between them threw up his arms and cried
‘Praise the Lord!’; then the people threw up their arms too, and waved them, while the men groaned,
the women keened, and all puckered their faces, while many wept. The sounds and gestures were
familiar to me. Around Durban is a sect of Christianized Natives who wear long blue robes with a
white cross on the back. They have mingled Christian with pagan things and drive out devils in the
manner of a tribal war-dance, prancing round the possessed ones, trampling and kicking them, with
movements and noises akin to those I now heard.
Between the groaning and keening men and women stood up and held forth in incoherent words,
sometimes in gibberish. Then the folk on the platform stood with bowed heads and when it ended
they said ‘That is marvellous, praise the Lord!’ and the oohs and aahs began again. At the
announcement of a hymn-tune the tempo abruptly changed; the puckered faces cleared, the
lamentations ceased, and the people sang with terrific gusto. Next a handsome young man with a
strong personality spoke; I could not judge if he genuinely wished to spread the Gospel but he
could have sold snowshoes in the Congo. By turns he took off his coat, undid his tie, unbuttoned
his collar, wiped his brow and spoke of the strain of his work. The church, he said, needed men;
unfortunately (he tried to skate back over that ‘unfortunately’) two-thirds of its members were
women. I looked about me; four-fifths of the congregation were women, all sharing a mien of
unfulfilment, and usually women were the ones who sprang up and babbled. Next the young man
spoke of miracles. A gentleman (’present today, I believe’) had been cured of cancer by attending
these meetings and had the X-ray plate to prove it.
Then he played a banjo and sang a song, ‘Baby Gloves’, about an old dad and mum left all alone
with these tiny mementoes of children grown and gone away. After that an older man said that
Brother Jones had often been offered ‘thousands of dollars without charge’ but had ‘just brushed the
money aside’, and he admired Brother Jones for that. However, he implied, Brother Jones would
like some money and he would now take ‘a love offering for Brother Jones’. Thereon women sprang
up to ‘bear witness’ in jumbled words to Brother Jones’s merit; ‘Give till it hurts!’ cried one. With
great clamour of brass, wind and rub-a-dub the collection was taken and brought in much money,
the figure being greeted with the loudest groans of all.
Next I went to a finer hall in a better district. I could not tell whether these revival churches
belonged to some parent body having the form of a properly constituted church; I rather guessed
that anybody could open a revival church, anywhere. The second one was packed, too, but with
sober folk of the middle-class, lads and girls, young couples with babies in carry-cots, substantial
people of mature age. They looked as good a section of the community as any body of selectors
would choose, and were of the quiet, prudent type which usually rejects a spurious emotionalism,
especially in religion. The drill, however, was the same; a frenzy was whipped up, culminating in a
deft collection. A song-leader with a squeeze-box led a hymn (which a young man next to me
whistled piercingly and melodiously) and mentioned casually that he had been miraculously cured
of warts. Then The Gospel Four sang ‘I wanna be God’s friend ‘n a liddle bit more’ in swing-time.
Prayers followed, with the moaning and shrilling and tears, the shimmying and shaking; then more
talk of miracles, and the collection. To thwart the reluctant giver and small gift, the plate was put
below the preacher and men and women were made separately to march up to it. Thus the human
ambition to keep up with the Jones’s was exploited and large sums were gathered (apparently
several times a week).
The people obviously liked the giving, the fluorescent crosses, the pretty girls at the electric organs,
the two xylophones and the piano, the personable Gospel Four, the lusty singing and the frenetic
self-abasement. All this satisfied some spiritual void in them and they were not people in whom an
easy response to the bogus might have been expected. Clearly the yearning to attach faith to
something is a motive; this is a form of reaction against the life of ‘materialistic gusto’, though it
may be exploited by materialists. I thought of the man who joined the crooked game because it was
the only one in town, and the other whose only pleasure was going to the pictures.
Revivalism clearly has a continuing market value, and American susceptibility to it goes back to
the beginning of the Republic’s story. This is a native form of emotionalism, not the imported,
exotic one of New York. It was there before the admixture of blood began. The records show that
people of unmixed Anglo-Saxon stock behaved differently, in America, from the way they would
have behaved at home. Revivalism today is the old Camp Meeting in a new form.
Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of the ‘monstrous absurdities of the Methodists at their Camp
Meetings’, having been told of an instance ‘of several of these fanatics jumping about on all fours,
imitating the barking of dogs and surrounding a tree in which they pretended they had “treed
Jesus”‘. Prince Achille Murat was an eye-witness and left fantastic pictures of orgies in the woods.
Mr. James Truslow Adams’s Epic says that one, in 1801, was attended by some thirty thousand
people, while seventeen preachers and many volunteer orators preached continuously from a Friday
to the following Thursday. At one time three thousand people lay unconscious, while hundreds
‘jerked’ and ‘barked’ in unison. ‘Just as human nature, dammed in one direction, finds outlets in
another, so the emptiness of life on the frontier led the emotions to find relief in wild orgies … The
almost incredible Camp Meetings catered both to the settler’s desire for company and to his need
for expression in emotional life. The inhibitions of his starved social and emotional life were
suddenly removed by the mass psychology of these vast gatherings, at which thousands would
exhibit pathological symptoms in unison.’
That is a fair description of revivalism one hundred and fifty years later. The land is no longer so
empty in the physical sense, and places like Denver are full, but a spiritual emptiness has remained,
or returned, and the emotions find relief in these modern Camp Meetings, the revival churches. Of
the earlier times, Mr. Adams wrote: ‘Man craves an outlet for his emotions and these had been
completely starved in the monotonous, hard-working, lonely, drab existence of the outer
settlements and frontier.’
In today’s America of the one hundred and fifty millions, the movies, radio, television and the ball-
game, man apparently still craves an outlet for emotions which all these do not satisfy. In the
Republic of forty-nine States there seems still one empty state; that of the spirit and the mind.
Clearly there is something different, incalculable, in the American soil and air; or so I thought, in
the revival churches.
*** Chapter Thirty-Four
SILVER SPOON
Denver has two or three theatres, that is, places which were built for living players. Hollywood has
long since driven out the flesh and blood performers, and of them and their plays remain only a few
photographs, programmes and playbills. Yet the largest of them, the Tabor Grand Opera House,
still contains the living stuff of the eternal human comedy in such measure that the shadow-plays
there seem more than usually unsubstantial; the reality of life is in the place itself. It saw the start
and end of a farcical-tragical-melodrama of sin and retribution, so much overdone that the very
boards of the Lyceum might have groaned in protest against it. Nevertheless, it all truly happened;
this theatre was the scene of a play stranger than any its footlights ever lit.
Even the names of the characters ring as if they were chosen to burlesque Lyceum melodrama, but
are genuine: Haw (H. A. W.) Tabor, the moustachioed gallant; Baby Doe, the golden-haired; and
Silver Dollar, the innocent cheeild. Tabor came with the gold-rushers to these parts a hundred years
ago. He was an unsuccessful miner, and opened a store at Oro (which he later renamed Leadville).
There, in 1875, the gold-miners’ discarded dirt was found to be silver-bearing lead carbonate of
high value, and another rush began, the silver-rush. Tabor’s store prospered and in 1878 he let two
penniless Germans have sixty-five dollars’ worth of food against a one-third share in anything they
might strike. A few months later he sold his share for a million dollars and within a few years could
no longer count his millions. He became king of Leadville (which he hoped to make the capital of
Colorado), formed his own Tabor Fire Brigade and Tabor Light Cavalry to fight flames or disorder,
and built an hotel and theatre. When Denver was chosen for capital he plunged into great schemes
there.
At Central City, another mining-camp some seventy miles away, was a Mrs. Elizabeth Doe,
brought from afar by a gold-seeking husband. The miners called her Baby Doe: what melodramatist
could contrive a name more expressive of gentle and helpless femininity She was young, pretty,
unhappy. The fabulous mining-camps then had the same appeal for ambitious young ladies that
Hollywood holds today. Tabor’s name rang over the mountains. Baby Doe went over the Rockies to
Leadville and caught his eye. Divorces were obtained and they married. Tabor’s renown was so
great that the President attended the wedding in Washington, and Tabor was enabled by political
wirepulling to achieve his supreme ambition, a United States Senatorship (albeit, only for thirty
days). He took with him for this brief senatorship a silk nightshirt with flounces and inserts of rose-
point lace, and four inches of lace at the wrists of the episcopal sleeves.
During this time he built, among other edifices in Denver, the Tabor Grand Opera House, sending
architects to study the theatres of London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna, and emissaries to Brussels,
Paris and Japan for carpets, tapestries and timber. From his box hung a two-foot block of silver
with ‘Tabor’ on it in letters of gold. Above the proscenium arch was a painting of Shakespeare;
Tabor, inquiring who it might depict, said ‘What did he ever do for Denver?’ and supplanted it with
his own portrait. In this theatre (and the one at Leadville) appeared Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry,
Duse, Bernhardt and many other famous ones.
I saw the curtain which fell on the grand opening. It shows the sun setting on the ruins of some
fanciful temple, where wild beasts roam among broken pillars and crumbling pomp; the obscure
German artist, whom Tabor paid fifteen thousand dollars for it, added at the foot two lines by
Charles Kingsley:
So fleet the works of man, back to the earth again
Ancient and holy things fade like a dream.
Presumably this pointed allegory held no personal warning for Tabor, who for a few years looked
down on this splendid house from his flower-filled box, with Baby Doe and her two baby daughters
at his side. The invisible god-mothers of morality attended the second daughter’s christening. She
was named Rosemary Silver Dollar Echo Honeymoon Tabor (the sins of the parents!) but was ever
known as Silver Dollar, Tabor’s favourite symbol. This period was the peak of what today’s
picturemakers would call The Tabor Story. A hundred peacocks stalked the lawns of his Denver
mansion. He was a rajah; at his wedding he sent agents to Spain and Portugal to search for the
legendary crown jewels of Queen Isabella, so that Baby Doe might wear them. The men returned
with some jewels, of whatever authenticity, and a rope of pearls, which she wore.
In 1893 all fell into the ruin pictured on the dropcloth. Silver was too abundant. The twentieth
century, and the closing grip of gold on the world, lay ahead; Tabor may have been an early victim
of that process. The gold-kings forced the repeal of the act which authorized the purchase of silver
bullion and its coinage into dollars. Silver was suddenly not much more valuable than nickel.
Almost overnight Tabor’s fortune dissolved; the mansions, theatres and hotels went, the furnishings
and Baby Doe’s jewels; Silver Dollar’s inheritance vanished. Tabor, who had given the land on
which Denver post office stood, was saved from utter destitution by the gift of the postmastership
and died in 1899, leaving Baby Doe, now forty-five years old, with her two daughters. He
bequeathed one worthless silver-mine in Leadville, telling her ‘Whatever happens, hold on to the
Matchless; it will give you back all I have lost’.
Baby Doe, strange woman, held on to the Matchless Mine. I went to Leadville, a hard journey even
in good weather, and saw the wooden shack, only habitable at the last extremity, where for thirty-
six years she held off all comers with a shotgun. A more desolate spot is hardly to be imagined
outside Arctic regions. Leadville, where she had found the famous Tabor, died around her (of late
years a little life has returned there) but she stayed on, a ghost in a ghost-camp. Few mortals since
Saint Simeon Stylites can have imposed on themselves a more horrific self-martyrdom. The elder
daughter soon went away. Silver Dollar stayed on until she was nearly twenty, when she too fled;
she became a salesgirl, danced in night clubs, drifted around. The mother thought her in a Chicago
convent until, after ten years, Silver Dollar died. She was in the Chicago depths by then and died by
boiling water poured or spilt over her. She left a photograph with the message, ‘If I am killed arrest
this man’. A coroner’s jury was ‘unable to determine whether said occurrence was accidental or
otherwise’.
The elder sister, being informed, said ‘I never approved of my sister; she looked at life so
differently. I can see no more reason now why she should be more to me than just a dead woman
down in Chicago. Why should I, who have pride and position, and like only quiet and nice things,
have to claim her now in this kind of death?’
Baby Doe lived ten more years in the shack, utterly alone, and then was found frozen, wearing
newspapers for warmth and with sacking round her feet. She was eighty-one; when she died Hitler
was dictator of Germany. That seemed strange to me, as if the melodrama covered centuries. She
puzzled me. Was this Baby Doe a cornered tigress, defending in her own way the memory of a
man, against all corners? One detail made me think she tenderly loved her Haw. Among his relics
at Denver are some pyjamas from the great days. Pyjamas in 1885 were not elegant and Haw, who
in his portrait looks like Groucho Marx half-eaten by wolves, must have cut as odd a figure in them
as in the rose-pink nightshirt and golden sleeping-cap. But Baby Doe’s hand worked an intricate
pattern of silken white flowers on these pyjamas; the task must have taken months.
There was yet a sequel; a picture was made of Silver Dollar’s story, and the world premiere was at
the Tabor Grand Opera House, where Baby Doe, blazing with jewels, and her babies once sat in the
Tabor box. A Miss Daniels played Silver Dollar. From Baby Doe to Bebe Daniels; such was the
story of this theatre.
I went also to Baby Doe’s Central City, a ghost-town now half-rematerialized (Colorado has
seventeen official ghost-towns; others, not much less spectral, vigorously repudiate ghosthood and
remain officially mortal). I drove for nine miles along an alarming ledge of mountainside, and
understood why an earlier English traveller, the Rev. F. Barham Zincke in 1868, asked at Central
City if anyone had been killed lately on the approaches to the town. No, replied the landlord, he
was glad to say no one had been killed for two or three years, but every year several persons had
died of accidents on the hill.
As I reached Central City I saw that the more tumbledown places had been boarded up and
freshened; the inhabited houses were cared for; and a deserted mine, with its buildings, shone silver
in a new coat of aluminium paint. All this was background to the Opera House, which has been
made the scene of an annual play festival; it is a forced growth in this remote place, but so is opera
at Glyndebourne, and it has been successful. Americans are in the mood for such things at present
and come in thousands for the three summer weeks of drama or opera, leaving revenues behind
which ensure ghostly Central City mortal life for another year.
When I was there the festival was at hand. There was a gentle fragrance of show-business in the air
and in the street strolled sopranos and contraltos, tenors and baritones who, but for Hitler, might
have been wearing dirndls or leather shorts and drinking coffee in the Café Bazar at Salzburg. In a
few weeks they would all vanish and wraith-like Central City would await the next year’s annual
migration of Art to the Rockies.
*** Chapter Thirty-Five
FROM WYOMING TO ARMAGEDDON
On my way to Wyoming I drove across a plain, running parallel with the Rockies; stopped to look
at a stockaded fort of the Indian days; and as I started again switched on the car radio. In America
this instrument is a valuable guide to the nature of the countryside. Within the radius of such places
as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles it fills the air with the alien dirges of a spunkless
miserabilism, ‘I’m so blue, boo-hoo boo-hoo …’ In New Mexico or Southern California it gives out
Spanish songs and music. In Kentucky, Tennessee and the Middle West you often hear the pleasant
hillbilly numbers, which are like musical soliloquies of a man who leans against a barn-door and
whittles a stick. In Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and other states of the horse-and-cattle tradition come
the entrancing jingle-jangle, clip-clop, yippee-i-ay melodies which contain the very swing and
rhythm of a horse’s shoulders and haunches.
This day was Sunday and, by way of complete contrast, a radio preacher spoke of Armageddon to
any who listened on the wide plains. That is to say, he examined the prophecy of Revelation and
tried soberly to interpret it in the light of today. Wisely, he said that he gave only ‘the best
explanations known to us and ones that do no violence to any other parts of the Bible’. The matter
deeply interested me, because if any prophecy of the Bible has a clear reference to this time it is the
one about Armageddon. So many prophecies are vague or capable of interpretation by any man
who fathers a wish on to a thought; this one seems to be proving itself day by day now and ought to
be completely tested soon.
The radio preacher examined the famous allusion to the great battle of the lords of the earth, and
their gathering in ‘a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon’; the great destruction which
follows, and ‘the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath’ then given to ‘great Babylon’. He
thought this battle of Armageddon would be or already was an earthly one, but not ‘a battle’ in our
sense of one clash of arms of limited duration and immediate, visible result. He interpreted it as a
gigantic ideological conflict which might include several wars of arms and the periods between
them. He believed that both the twentieth-century wars might be contained in that continuing
struggle, but neither they nor another was in itself and alone ‘Armageddon’. They were parts of the
whole, yet to be completed.
As to that outcome, he turned to the second great prophecy of Revelation, which tells of the binding
of ‘that old serpent, which is the devil’ for a thousand years, so that he ’shall deceive the nations no
more’ until the thousand years be fulfilled. That, said the radio preacher, in his judgment meant that
Armageddon would be followed by a spiritual resurrection, a renascence, lasting a thousand years.
After that, once more but only for a brief while, ‘Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go
out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth … to gather them to battle’.
If his interpretations are right, we are in Armageddon now and have been for at least thirty-seven
years, probably much longer. We might continue in it for another five or fifty. I look at these things
with a trained journalist’s eye, which fastens on any major fact, or anything, non-factual but
evidential enough to enforce belief. In this matter of the prophecies of Revelation two points are
formidable enough to impress any man, believer or unbeliever.
The first is that the two twentieth-century wars have both, at their ends, proved to be mainly
concerned with ‘the place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon’, that is, with the Palestinian
land containing the valley of Megiddo, though this place was not mentioned at their beginning. I
feel sure, and hope I may see proof or confutation of this, that any third war will at its end similarly
prove to be mainly concerned with the conquest and ownership of that territory, wherever or under
whatsoever pretext it starts.
To my mind that is almost conclusive proof that this is Armageddon, and the final evidence is not
far off. The second arresting piece of evidence that those prophecies do relate to this time is the
repeated reference to ‘the deception of nations’ and ‘that old serpent, the devil’. ‘The deception of
nations’ describes better than any other four words could do, written so many centuries ago, the
methods by which the Christian nations have been brought today, unseeingly, to fight each other
for a cause of conquest in Arabia which they neither perceived nor could understand. As to that old
serpent, the devil, I see him in Soviet Communism and Political Zionism, the two-headed serpent
hatched in a Russian lair which now holds the masses of Gentiles and Jews alike in its coils.
Thus I was glad to hear that a man who studied the thing with the eye of faith came to the same
conclusion as one who looks at it with that of a political observer. He, too, saw the old devil
defeated at the end, according to prophecy, though after many more tribulations for the Christian
nations, and that also was my belief. In this matter today’s journalist has a hard task. Living in the
time of the old serpent’s success, and seeing more of his victories ahead before he is enchained, he
pictures the world as it goes and foretells the tale of new deceptions. But ‘By a divine instinct men’s
minds mistrust ensuing danger’, and
The first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office; and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remembered knolling a departed friend.
Yet Shakespeare had the golden rule for a journalist in the 1950s, as for all others and all else:
There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distil it out,
and that applies to Armageddon and the prophecies of Revelation. The old serpent and the
deception of nations will yet be chained and defeated, and the Christian nations, if by way of
further suffering, will come to the spiritual resurrection they need. If our time is the long, dark one
of Armageddon, the bright upward road nevertheless resumes at the end of it.
That was my own belief as a political writer and seemed to agree with a cleric’s reading of the most
renowned prophecy of all. Glad to have switched on my radio by chance, I ran across another state
line and came to Cheyenne.
*** Chapter Thirty-Six
ON DUDE RANCHES AND DINOSAURS
Cheyenne shone like a new pin by day and shimmered in neon by night, in the midst of nowhere. It
was once the capital of the cattle kingdom; the round-up, the branding and the long drive led to
Cheyenne, or Abilene. It lives largely on the memory of the Cattle West (as Gallup, in New
Mexico, on that of the Indian West, and Central City, in Colorado, on that of the Golden West), and
capitalizes the legend in its annual Frontier Days Show. Buffalo Bill was the State’s benefactor, for
he invented the Wild West Show, which has now become the rodeo or stampede. The dude-ranch
thrives in Wyoming, and Cheyenne is full of dude-Western clothing-stores, from which obvious
New Yorkers totter out on the cowman’s high heels (even the Garment Centre cannot provide bow
legs) and beneath ten-gallon hats; they reminded me of the good Viennese who wore the Viennese
garment centre’s idea of Styrian peasant’s dress to drink coffee in Bad Ischl. The genuine cowman
may still be seen. The great days of the cattle kings are gone, leaving a few relics like the
perforated painting of a cow in the Cheyenne Museum. It was originally presented to the
Cattlemen’s Club and promptly received the contents of a six-shooter; art was outcast in
communities where ‘Anyone who dressed better than his neighbours, who put on airs, who flaunted
domestic help, was looked on with suspicion.’
Wyoming, on the High Plains, is the size of England and contains as many people as Leicester.
This population may not grow much as the State’s resources of farmland, pasture, oil, dude-ranches
and tourists cannot greatly increase. Substantial areas are uninhabitable, the fertile parts are small,
and the sheep and cattle that followed the buffalo thinned down the grazing. Wyoming’s people do
not claim any summer, saying that spring lasts just long enough to merge into autumn, and in
winter it knows blizzards in which nothing can live. It is the state of storms and even in the clement
season I was often caught in these, as they prowled around the vast plains. As no natural obstacles
impede them there they swell and rage and you see monstrous, many-uddered shapes with pouring
teats many miles away. In these great spaces you perceive the entire size and form of such a storm;
its central core of deluge, its trailing, weeping fringe and its dark envelope.
Thinking the open range vanished everywhere, I came unexpectedly on roadside notices, ‘Open
range; be careful of stock’, and sometimes passed antelope standing with big, benignant eyes by the
highway. ‘Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play’; the musical ride
continued. Once, while the car radio played ‘Tumbling along like the tumbling tumbleweed’, I saw
masses of this rootless plant, like stacked cannonballs among the sagebrush. I thought I would
leave Wyoming quickly because the green lands called me urgently and I had far to go, but found
myself repeatedly delayed by marvels which it made no effort to display, but of which I learned.
Quite near Cheyenne was Como Bluff, where in 1876 the bones of the incredible dinosaurs were
found.
I found a lonely, sullen hump beside the great road, with nothing but a small house, privately built
and containing some fossils and literature, to mark the place of so great an event. Here lived the
monstrous reptiles, Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and the rest, the skeletons of which were
reassembled and set up in various museums of the world; some were eighty feet long, seventeen
feet high and weighed several tons. They may have lived 150 million years and have died 60
million years ago, and none knows why they died. Once great herds of buffalo roamed these lands
and we know why they disappeared, though future excavators might wonder; but the times of the
dinosaurs knew no men or bullets. Their decaying carcases, if theory is right, formed the earth’s oil
deposits.
But why did those enormous brutes die out? Were tiny mammals, on four legs, too clever for them?
I often thought, in such parts, that America is a place to study the ends of worlds rather than the
beginnings of new ones. Nowhere else that I know does present time seem so small or past time so
huge, like a dark wall so high that you cannot see its top. I looked at Como Bluff and pictured
stupendous scaly things creeping, crawling and hopping about, then lying down to die in caves, or
being buried by some convulsive eruption, here where the great motor highway runs. Behind the
Bluff lurked a storm, black and scowling; golden beanstalks of lightning climbed up tall black cliffs
of rain. A yellow light fell on Como Bluff so that it stood out, above the grey land and beneath the
stormclouds, like one of those monsters, with long, spiked and curving back.
I drove through the storm and, turning aside at a signpost, came again on something typical of this
great restless country. Wyoming has, not ghost towns, but ghosts of towns. It knew yet another kind
of rush, the coal-rush. The railway, as it spanned the continent, needed coal; here coal was found
and a town grew up in 1868, called Carbon. In 1900, when the best coal was exhausted, the railroad
company just took up the rails and went away. ‘The majority of the population were unable to sell
their houses and were compelled to leave them standing; they were destroyed by thieves and
vandals.’ That was forty years ago, and all I found of Carbon was a cemetery. The same thing
happened at Cambria quite recently, in 1928. The town, which even had the traditional Opera
House, died overnight when the tracks were taken up. I read that it was a ‘ghost town’ but in fact
every vestige of it has disappeared in twenty years! Thus the urgent American spirit moves on. The
Indians and the bison were driven from their fertile plains; the plains grew bare and the newcomers
could not do much with them; it is all a puzzle of time, man, beast and soil, yet to be resolved.
This emptiest-but-one of the states, where the wind rode on a broomstick over flat bleakness or
lurid, sweltering canyons, fit settings for the gorgeous Indian sun-dance, held a spell for me. I
found its empty landscape often more dramatic than any animated human scene. It is a place to visit
with a self-supporting expedition, or at least a caravan, so that you may be freed from all
preoccupations of time, food or weather, for it is full of wonders. One of these caused me, when I
was impatient to press on to green country, to make a detour of many hundred miles back to the
north-west. Having no great interest in scenic beauties or tourists I did not intend to go to the
Yellowstone Park, but could not resist when I heard of the petrified forests there.
These are different from the petrified forests of Arizona, which many playgoers know. There the
logs of great trees, turned to stone, lie about the stony desert, a thing remarkable enough. But in the
Yellowstone whole forests of these trees, still standing, rise above each other in the heart of a
mountain, each one buried by lava which in time has become fertile enough to grow another forest,
then similarly submerged. The Yellowstone River, like a knife cutting through cheese, made a
gorge two thousand feet deep through this region and exposed the standing stumps at successive
levels, among them those of giant redwoods. That I had to see.
It meant another start at dawn and a long and lonely ride, first through green plains, then across
prairie drying into desert. It went, also, through a place called Rawlins, notable only, in this age of
the human-lampshade stories, because a man was authentically skinned there. He was one Big Nose
George, who incurred dislike in the 1850s and was lynched. A local doctor (later governor of the
state) sawed off the top of his skull for a gift to a girl medical student (the bones and truncated skull
were recently disinterred and placed in the local museum), and then skinned the body, tanned the
hide and made a medicine case and some shoes from it. The shoes are still to be seen at the bank.
The Wild West was wild.
Where the country looked too and for human life I saw the Indian reservation; the Indians made
their last stand in Wyoming and a small remnant of Shoshoni and Arapahoe Indians now exist here.
Then I came to one of those Western regions where the agony of creation shows in the contorted
and distorted land. At some time the earth, visibly, had moved like the sea in storm, tossing and
rolling, and been petrified in its last convulsion; you could see the breakers. Mounds and
hummocks of volcanic rock lay where they were spewed; the lips of dead volcanoes were still
pursed, as if they might yet emit fire and brimstone again one day. Through all this, in superb
disdain, ran the splendid American road, and brought me suddenly into a narrow gorge between
high, rocky walls through which a leaden river flowed towards a blood-red mountain, which at the
last moment it and the road encircled, so that I came to a dun-coloured desert where blood-red hills
and hummocks diminished into flatness.
After this menacing place little Cody, on the edge of the Yellowstone, was reassuring; bright, busy
and typically American. It is named after the great showman who was called Buffalo Bill because
he killed five thousand buffalo in eighteen months to feed the men who laid the transcontinental
railroad, and lives on his legend, on the Cody Museum, and on its annual, lifegiving Cody
Stampede. The show goes on, under its new name. I wandered round Cody with memories of a
bright arena at Southend-on-Sea, about 1900, I think. I can still see magnificent Buffalo Bill firing
at glass balls thrown into the air by another horseman. How marvellous that was! I know now that
concussion or small shot will shiver a glass ball, but have learned also that good showmanship is
made up of pardonable deceptions and remain for ever grateful to Buffalo Bill. The Cody Stampede
was in progress, but without Indians! To me that was a sinister sign of a bogus time. Buffalo Bill
might have faked marksmanship or even palmed an ace, for all I cared; he would never have
omitted real Indians from the Wild West Show. This was a stampede from Cody! I could not learn
why the Indians were excluded. Great debate went on about it in the little town, but all behind the
glove; strangers were not welcome to these secrets and even familiars watched their words. I felt
that truth was lost to the world if Indians were lost to Buffalo Bill’s show; this was a blow at the
roots of my being.
In another fifty miles I entered the Yellowstone and once more climbed the Rockies, up and up and
up, through sad and silent fir forests, beneath heavy clouds, in cold, driving rain. Then I burst out of
the firtops upon a lake, almost an inland sea. On its shores campers huddled in tents and trailers
beneath weeping trees; dry weather may be needed for a successful holiday here. I went on for
another hundred miles, through fantastic places, enormous canyons with swift little rivers hurrying
through them far below and their upper faces made by nature in the shape of cathedrals or
fortresses. At nightfall I came to a most genteel, Cheltenham-like hotel and fell into bed, exhausted.
Next morning, as I could not hope to find the fossil forests unaided, I went with an impressive letter
of recommendation to seek the Rangers’ help. The Rangers, who are knights of woodcraft, do not
ecstatically admire tourists. The tourists like to photograph themselves feeding the bears and if they
get a quick cuff on the car the Rangers have to shoot that bear, which they dislike. The tourists also
cause forest fires, which break woodsmen’s hearts. I was not that kind of traveller, but the Rangers
did not know; my cordial missive found no ready response. However, I persisted and at length a
Ranger was detailed to guide me. in his company I spent a memorable day, which I had earned, too,
by that arduous journey.
But for him I would have needed a week to find the fossil forests. They are not marked on the
tourists’ maps, probably because the tourists, as they would say, could not care less. We set off in
his track and came at once on three bears, mother and two cubs, standing like hitch-hikers at the
roadside; they wanted cake, however, not transport. The bears are very kind to human beings and
sometimes, when these seem in playful mood and put children on their backs or dangle buns before
them, join in the fun with a little pat or short-arm jab (these are the little black bears; the few
surviving grizzlies are seldom seen).
My Ranger ran his truck off the road and drove it about half a mile, over rough, rising ground
towards the firbelt of the mountains. Then we left it and I saw before me a climb of some fifteen
hundred feet, through the trees, to bare summits. I guessed that my companion might expect a little
entertainment. My back contained, unknown to him, a cracked spine and this was hard going over
places evidently avoided by man as a rule, for we clambered round a shoulder of rock and saw
before us a mountain sheep with two lambs, tranquilly sunning themselves on a ledge. We were
quite near before they winded us and then they went off in amazingly sure-footed bounds, from
crag to crag, into the forest below. They looked like small antelopes and moved with superb grace.
I survived to the top of Specimen Hill, where there was the stump of a huge tree, enmarbled. The
lava covering must have been gradually worn or washed away by wind or melting snow until it
reappeared, after inconceivable ages. Then, slipping and sliding down the loose mountainside, we
came again and again to the trunks of standing trees at lower levels, which once grew in earlier and
ever earlier forests, each in turn buried by lava. The place gave a man a sense of proportion about
time, life and space. From the forests around rose the vapours of the boiling, bubbling, steaming,
spouting geysers and mudholes in which the Yellowstone abounds. Far below, beneath the tourist-
camps, the curio shops, the ice-cream and hot-cake cafés, the machinery which caused this
tremendous process still worked away.
Going down was quicker but harder than going up. I achieved some thirty feet of the descent in one
slide on my back, among the slipping debris of petrified trees, and was glad to stand again with
only a bruise or two. As we drove back the Ranger asked me about Socialism in England. I said I
thought it was of that old serpent, the devil, anywhere at all, Liberalism, Socialism and
Communism being the successive coils; however, I thought England might yet extricate itself from
this embrace. He said he felt that way too (men who live with woodcraft are seldom far from truth)
but he guessed the thing was coming in America and he didn’t know how to stop it. I often met this
feeling of helplessness in America, and elsewhere. It is produced by ‘the deception of nations’, but I
fancy that another mood, of self-saving action, follows at a later stage.
I spent an evening with the Ranger, his wife and four children, in one of the pleasantest homes I
saw in America; it contained a happy and united family. Then I boiled my bruises in a hot bath and
prepared, once more, to resume the overland journey.
*** Chapter Thirty-Seven
ART AND THE MOUNTAIN
I turned eastward again from the Yellowstone, with its obsidian fortresses and silent mystery, its
boiling mudholes and pent wrath. The fine roads and tourist camps convince no reflective traveller
that man has yet arrived to stay in this volcanic place, where the last few buffalo graze in immunity.
Even vegetable life seems to shrink from his coming for here the firs die in masses of some
unaccountable blight, which is strange, because the fir is the hardiest of trees and seeks out high
places, where nothing else can live, serene to fulfil its lonely destiny.
Fantastic climatic changes awaited me. The Yellowstone, at nine thousand feet, was chilly. Four
thousand feet below I ran through Cody into stifling desert-heat again, and soon after that into the
Big Horn National Park, an exquisite place of flower-carpeted Alpine meadows, little blue lakes
and dancing mountain streams, with none of the menace of the Yellowstone. Then came arid
ranchland again, a cold night in the car on the edge of Wyoming, and a dawn ride into South
Dakota, where a filling-station lad once more undid my plans. He told me of another marvel near at
hand, the sculptured mountain, and I made one more detour, to see it. It took me through another
lovely National Park, the Mount Rushmore one, up an almost vertical spiral road through the
firbelt, to the peak itself.
It is impressively American. If a mountain is to be sculptured, the Sculptor must go to it, and
mountains usually stand in inaccessible places. South Dakota is one of the emptiest and remotest
states, if anything can be called remote in a land of such unrivalled highways. The brow of lonely
Mount Rushmore has been fashioned into the likeness of four American presidents. This is
described as ‘the greatest sculptural feat ever attempted by mankind’. The late Mr. Gutzon Borglum
used a steeplejack’s cradle and a roadmender’s electric drill, or something like it. I could not
imagine how he kept the sense of line and proportion, suspended in space and carving the
mountainside with something less than a high-precision tool. Unkind falls of rock may have forced
him to rearrange the group of the four huge granite heads, six thousand feet above sea-level. They
have a somewhat compressed appearance and Theodore Roosevelt looks rather like a man who tries
to see what goes on between the heads of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.
Mr. Borglum thought the American philosophy was too much obsessed with ‘business and bellies’
and that ‘the creative longing’ was starved. Thus he ardently approved President Franklyn
Roosevelt’s programme of public spending, which began in 1933 as one of welfare projects and
soon expanded to include Art. The ‘Federal Arts Projects’ became the subject of much controversy,
but Mr. Borglum thought they ‘opened the door to the world of creative impulse, without which
people perish … All there is of God in creation is what man has in lonely martyrdom wrung from
nowhere and everywhere … Have we in gold, the worship of Aaron’s calf, made our final bow in
the hall of world fame, to be remembered with Rome for our abuse of wealth?’ He complained of
the indifference of earlier presidents to such matters of art and welcomed the better Rooseveltian
time. During many years, in lonely elevation, he wrung the four imperishable heads from the hard
mountainside; when he died his son completed the work.
From this unique mountain top spectacle I drove downhill again towards the hottest wilderness of
all; the Badlands. Along the roadside signs began to tell me of the remarkable things I might see,
learn, eat, drink or buy at ‘Wall Drug’. I was not at first interested but with the passing leagues these
invitations to gaze on rare beasts, be photographed with a grizzly, study Indians, buy Mexican
jewellery, obtain a free history of The Badlands, and much more, began to exercise a compulsion
on me. What was ‘Wall Drug’? I found myself driving faster and more eagerly as the signs flashed
by.
As I sped into Rapid City I guessed the answer; Wall Drug must mean Wall’s Drugstore in this
town. I raced round looking for the ever-helpful Chamber of Commerce, but this was still early and
it was not open, so I went to see the plaster dinosaurs in its park (possibly a Federal Arts Project?)
and returned later, breathless, to ask where Wall’s Drugstore might be. The pleasant girl was
puzzled; then a light dawned and she said, ‘Oh, you mean the drugstore at Wall, two hours away, on
the edge of the Badlands.’
By now I only wanted to get to Wall Drug. I left Rapid City (no slow place; it was quick to boost
its advantages as an atom-bomb retreat) and, ever faster, followed the signs, some five hundred
miles of which already lay behind me. I realized that I was in the grip of a sales-machine of
hypnotic appeal, which I ought to resist, but I could not stop. At last, with screech of brakes and
sigh of anticipation relieved, I came to Wall, a tiny place which in winter is sometimes buried in
snow; now it was buried in tourists, all allured from the several points of the compass by those
signs. How easily might a druggist, in so minute a township, fall into the rut of merely running a
drugstore! The owner of this one was a genius. That radial array of signs must have cost a small
fortune, but I saw that the outlay was all worth while.
Having seen all wonders I went on with mind at rest but apparently still clouded, for ten miles
farther on I realized that I was on the wrong road, going away from The Badlands. I was then flat
on my back, striving with a flat tire. Once in my life I owned a car with a hydraulic jack; you just
worked a small lever, beer-handlewise, and it dropped four small legs which lifted all four wheels
from the ground. That was the only truly happy time I have known with cars. Ever since I have had
jacks which refused to jack, or let the car suddenly down on the toe of my shoe, happily missing the
toe inside. I was in that hopeless plight when a voice said, ‘Got a flat?’ Crawling out I saw a
friendly road-patrolman and said, ‘Yes, got a jack?’ Not only had he, but this friend in need did the
job.
So I drove back to the Badlands, which look as you might expect the moon to look, if it were hot, a
parched picture of the earth in eroding wrath. It is as if it were the devil’s own bit of the planet and
he had stabbed and slashed with some great knife until all fertility drained away from yawning
wounds. South Dakota, finding the unwelcome name of ‘Badlands’ wished on the place by the early
French Canadian trapper who saw it first of white men, has skilfully turned it into a tourist
attraction, thus making the best of a badlands job. It is another ‘National Monument’; the boosters
call attention to it’s strange beauty (it has a rancorous grandeur), and built a fine road through it for
the tourists.
When I emerged from the Badlands the arid West at last lay behind me and I ran right across
Nebraska to its capital, Omaha, on the fringe of the prolific Middle West. At two the next morning,
after the hardest day’s journey I ever made, I was picking my way carefully through the dead, dark
streets of Fremont, still fifty miles from Omaha, when furious clamour sounded behind me. It
should have awakened every sleeper in Fremont, but Americans seem inured to sirens at any hour
(I sometimes saw bridal processions of twenty or thirty cars circulating slowly in town streets with
every driver’s finger pressed hard on the horn; this form of wedding celebration is common).
As no other was abroad at that hour I guessed the pandemonium to be directed at me, and stopped.
Two threatening blue figures appeared from another car, halted behind me. ‘You was swaying about
all over the road,’ they said, ‘get out, will yer!’ The tone was that of films I had seen, and until then
supposed to be overdone. I got out and was told I was drunk. The next move, in the film tradition,
would have been for me to reply: ‘You can’t do this to me,’ and then to be led away crying, ‘It’s a
frame-up, I tell yer, it’s a frame-up.’ Instead, as a night in jail, though in later retrospect it might be
amusing, looked disagreeable now, I temporized.
American friends advised me before I began these travels to beware of small-town traps, set for
out-of-state drivers. These are good for municipal revenues and also for policemen, who need
seldom fear that a stray motorist will enjoy the protection in superior places that local lawbreakers
sometimes invoke. I think this was such a case. My good interlocutors were distinctly hostile;
moreover, what they said was untrue and they knew it; I had been driving with especial care
because I was very tired. I said so, with an air of smiling English surprise. They brushed the
objection aside, but less certainly; something about me puzzled them. They rattled off catch-
questions and then said suddenly, ‘Where have you been drinking?’ ‘Gentlemen,’ I said, ‘I never
touch it’ (I do not, when driving). They calmed down and, scratching their heads, looked at me with
the air of anglers contemplating the one that got away, and decided to lay off. However, they did a
curious thing. They said I was on the wrong road for Omaha and put me on a false one, so that it
was past four in the morning and dawn was breaking again when, after twenty-five hours of
mountain, desert, plain, cold and heat, I drove into sleeping Omaha. It seemed packed to the seams
and by the time I found a room sleep was wasteful; I scrubbed the thick dust of travel out of my
pores, breakfasted in an early cafeteria, and set out to see life in Nebraska.
*** Chapter Thirty-Eight
ON MEALS AND MEALIES
The return to populous places and fertile lands was a relief. In the arid West I often thought of Mr.
Patrick MacGill’s lines, ‘The nearer you are to nature, the further you are from God’, especially in
those empty parts where once the monstrous reptiles moved and volcanoes spewed. The name
Great American Desert, if unpopular now, is still true. Omaha, on the edge of the green belt, was
reassuring, for here the real and eternal wealth of America began; there can never be ghost-towns in
the Middle West, for people must eat, the corn-standard cannot be abolished, and the vein is
inexhaustible.
It was a small city much like others of the later Republic, with its domed capitol, its Main Street all
neon-and-nylon, farmers ruminating in the hotel vestibules, workmen driving their cars towards
pork-packing factories, and the Missouri running through. In it I first met a problem which
continued to plague me; that of the heat. As I came from Africa, where it never incommoded me
much, I had given it no thought; now I found it a major encumbrance. Not all American, hotels are
air-conditioned; indeed, of the kind I used few were. The humid temperature achieved something
which nothing but physical mishap ever did before; it immobilized me. I could not go about,
drenched, among happier beings whose dryness I envied. When I pondered the thing I realized that
in African heat I was never confined between concrete cliffs; this immurement changed life into a
ludicrous conundrum, to me insoluble.
This comic predicament made even the search for food a hardship. It is often a problem for the
stranger in America and his experiences vary greatly. In Salt Lake City I ate well and cheaply, in
other places poorly. In Omaha the wish to avoid exertion drove me to the cafeteria nearest my
lodging and it proved a haven. To the industry of meals applies the golden rule of an American
song: it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. In principle the cafeteria seemed to me all
wrong, for good service is essentially part of a good meal. I remembered a chophouse in London
where the old waiter once brought potatoes in their jackets and, holding them in a spotless napkin,
crumbled them flourily on the plate; I knew little Wirtschaften on the Rhine where the serving-girl’s
smile added zest to appetite. By contrast, it seemed a disconsolate thing to take a tray, shuffle along
a counter, collect your food and utensils and carry them to a table. I tested this theory in New York
and other places and thought I was right; self-service reduced eating to a gloomy occasion, the
orphaned child of bodily necessity.
This place in Omaha (and sister-houses later found in Des Moines, Mobile and New Orleans)
showed me that at the highest level the cafeteria may have some advantages even over good
restaurants. For one thing it saves the buying of pork in a poke (’I’ll have the gammon if it’s good’);
you see what you choose, and if the food is good that is important. In this establishment it was
excellent, and the march past the dishes was exciting; deft young men advised as you went along
and pleasant girls kept your coffee cup filled when you were seated. The process was well thought
out and run, and I would have liked to open just such a place in England.
Near my lodging was a street of bars, dingy shops and missions, similar to Larimer Street in
Denver (and I met its like again in other cities). The biggest and toughest-looking bar was a brick
building painted blood-red. Within it, bodies went through the rye; outside it usually stood a young
man with an off-note cornet, an elderly man with a big drum, and three women, who sang ‘I was
glad when Jesus entered my heart’ in different keys. A few habitués of the bar always stopped to
listen, either on the way in or out. Then the young man said, ‘If you gentlemen will take off your
hats Mrs. Smith will say a prayer’, and the tipplers uncovered. One of them, finding the vertical
tiresome, propped himself obliquely against a parking-machine-post, sometimes looked at his hat as
if he wondered why it was in his hand, and sank back into his devotions. When the prayer ended
the habitués paid money (a kind of forfeit, I supposed) and entered the bar, while the youngest
woman, following them to its threshold, fervently addressed their backs about the evil of drink; the
face at the bar-room door. It seemed a well-organized proceeding.
I packed once more and went on to Des Moines in Iowa, happy in green, domesticated country,
neither arid nothingness nor mountain wild, but a land of good growing crops and farmhouses. This
was the Fourth of July, when the mealies should be knee-high; in many places they were nearly
shoulder high. Next to sugar I know no crop so splendid to watch as healthy maize. It grows in
great green banks on strong stems with big, shining leaves that look as if they were polished with
dew each morning early. Des Moines stands in the heart of this green and gold empire. It is a town
of trees, but the sun was so vertical that they only cast a little puddle of shade around their feet. The
humidity, I was told, was ninety-seven. A draught through a car window seemed more desirable
than anything else in life and after two days I went on, for the sake of that breeze, through a rural
countryside more prosperous, I suppose, than any in the world. Here the towns became more
frequent and bigger and the population denser as the road returned towards the teeming states of
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the world was one of green avenues converging on the
great industrial regions.
For a few miles I travelled with a passenger, an old lady who thumbed me with appealing smile.
She lived in a village eight miles from Iowa City and went there each day to work, she said. She
was a kitchen-worker at an hotel, and until a few months earlier was a dormitory-maid at Iowa City
University, at 125 dollars a month, ‘but after seventy the State won’t employ you, they reckon you
ought to go on benefit’. Here, in the lengthening shadow of the Welfare State, was a woman who
would rather work until she dropped than go on benefit; until she said this I thought her nearer
eighty than seventy for, though vigorous, her face was gnarled and wrinkled. ‘You like to work?’ I
asked. Oh yes, she said, she liked to have something to do and the doctors said it was the best thing
for you, so she took the kitchen job ‘at 100 dollars, but I get my food’. I thought it must be pleasant,
even at seventy, to be fit for a good day’s work, to travel eight miles daily to and from it, and to
earn a hundred dollars and your food.
After I set her down I stayed awhile in Iowa City, which was as unexpected in its nature and
atmosphere as Salt Lake City. For some reason the turbulent waters of American life divide and
flow around it, leaving a quiet and reassuring islet in their midst. Then I went on into Illinois,
which looked even richer and more abundant than Iowa and there I found again what I had almost
forgotten in the West: the quick succession of busy small towns, with humming Main Street in the
middle and pleasant residential quarters around, where wide streets ran between great shady trees
that overhung cool, white houses. This was the thickly-populated central region of the Republic
once more. For forty miles I drove through a countryside which surpassed anything yet in its look
of wealth. Yet its air contained a restless something, and suddenly I was in the grip of a maelstrom
I knew. Through tunnels, over bridges, beneath the straddled legs of elevated railways, I was
whizzed and whirled along, dived into a parking-lot, climbed dizzily out of the car and gazed
around, blinking.
This was Chicago!
*** Chapter Thirty-Nine
OF BACON AND A BEACON
I looked down from another lodging on a riotous and chaotic city, the cousin of New York. On one
side lay some traces of a quieter Old Chicago, where trees grew in the little gardens of declining
town mansions. On another was a mass and mess of slums and empty lots left by slum-demolishers.
From a dingy wall a large notice asked, ‘Are you buggy? Fumigate yourself for $1.50 a room’. in
the background rose the Babylonian towers of office buildings, one of which contained twenty-five
thousand people by day; on top of another, twenty-storied one was a spired church. In narrow
streets between, street-cars ran below elevated and above underground railways, and beneath these
last, again, ran a merchandise-subway. Accidents, when they occurred, were bigger than anywhere
else. Behind the mountainous buildings lay a lake like a small ocean, Lake Michigan.
Chicago has often meant hogs to visiting writers, American or foreign. The city’s proud insistence
on the annually rising figures of mortality in the stock-pens has largely caused this. A man who
enjoys a rasher should not blench at the thought of pigs dying (Mr. Rabindranath Tagore averred
that vegetables feel pain but no tears were ever shed for the agony of countless onions); yet the
subject has a macabre appeal to literary minds. In 1882 in Chicago Oscar Wilde, reclining on a
buffalo robe in velvet doublet, knee-breeches and silk stockings, ‘closed his eyes at the mention of
the stockyards and looked sick’. In 1906 Mr. Upton Sinclair stirred the Republic with The Jungle,
an Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the hog-pens. In 1919 Mr. Somerset Maugham, though not critical, was
gruesomely impressed by the struggling, squealing, knives and gore of what he saw as ‘a caricature
of the Dance of Death’.
I saw no bacon, but looked long at a beacon, flashing from a Babylonian tower, which seemed
more significant. Newspapers may be read by its light in ships or aircraft miles away. What piqued
my curiosity more than that (I once read print in Saint John’s Wood by the light of burning Saint
Paul’s Churchyard) was its name. It was originally called ‘The Lindbergh Beacon’. I suppose people
who are now thirty years old do not remember that fantastic furore of 1927. No young man ever
sprang at one bound to such peaks of fame. No mortal rewards need have been beyond Lindbergh.
He could certainly have ‘aspired to the presidency, had he accepted certain bonds, for the mass-
newspapers frenziedly played M’Bongo to him (M’Bongo is the African praisemaker who stalks
before a chief calling him Great Elephant, Earth Shaker, Stabber of Heaven and the like).
His humiliation was as complete as that of T. E. Lawrence a decade earlier. The condition of
M’Bongo’s praise was submission to M’Bongo’s dogmas. Lindbergh became suspect before the
Second War began and intolerable when he opposed American part in it. He seems to have been,
not so much against American recourse to arms in any case at all, as against the shape he saw
behind that particular war (the use of American and British arms to expand the Communist Empire
and set up the Zionist State proved him right in the event). This opposition was mortal sin and
brought on him a vengeance recognizably tribal. He was ’smeared’ into oblivion, the trappings of
adulation were torn off, and, among many other things, the beacon was given another name.
Thus Chicago’s re-named beacon is a symbol of something supremely important in the Republic:
’smearing’, which is M’Bongo’s alternative weapon. ‘Smearing’ is known in England but is deadlier
in America. It is an organized thing, with long experience behind it, and its effects are great. It
springs into action there against any who genuinely oppose Soviet Communism, Political Zionism
or The World State.
The might of this hidden machine is fascinating to study on the spot. I know an American writer
who was nationally famous and earned some forty thousand dollars a year until 1941; he then
expressed doubts about the outcome of America’s entry into the war and his income collapsed
overnight, to nothing. He is now slowly fighting his way back. Against an army of newspaper-
writers and broadcasters who serve the three causes I have enumerated, a handful stubbornly fight
for native American interests, defying the smears and threats and succeeding by sheer strength of
conviction in forcing their views into print. One of them, whom I also know, has a lonely house, the
grounds of which he has to keep floodlit at night, for protection.
Thus the former ‘Lindbergh Beacon’ seemed to me possibly more significant than anything which
incoming passengers might read by its light five miles away; that literature was more likely to
darken them. It shines over a city that boils and bubbles with the yet unanswered riddles of
America. One hundred and seventy years ago Chicago was a log-fort. Today it is a towered and
turreted enigma, of many millions. Behind its grandiose lake front, it is a crammed, seething place,
like a building of an early Western mining-camp; all barn behind and pretentious ‘front’ opposed to
the street. The ‘native-born American’, in the old sense, is greatly outnumbered in its population.
The Germans and Irish predominate and from motives of circulation among them its newspapers
are lustily anti-British.
I found that one newspaper building contained an atom-bomb shelter provisioned for three
thousand people. I said to my friend there, ‘What, you expect atom-bombs on Chicago!’ (the thing
seemed somewhat fanciful to me). ‘Not on Chicago,’ he said, ‘on this institution!’ Yet he was an
enlightened man, and had every reason to know that his institution was more in danger of subtle
permeation than of destruction from above. However, the Cult of Doom has had amazing effects of
delusion. In 1950 an explosion of some dynamite at a small port in New jersey sent panic-stricken
mobs rushing through the streets with the cry of ‘Atom bomb!’ and a few months later, at
Devonport in England, the same cry arose when barges of explosives blew up in the harbour. In the
second case what should have been generally clear (and could have been prevented) was soon
admitted; that this was sabotage; and that probably applied to the American incident too.
The population of Chicago is probably as mixed as that of any place on earth. In Halstead Street,
which is twenty-five miles along, almost every nation in the world seems to have its little colony,
Italians, Mexicans, Greeks, Swedes and others, and mixed-breeds of every variety. Maxwell Street,
which appeared to be a mixed Jewish and gypsy quarter, contained more and noisier folk than I
ever saw in one place before, all pushing, shouting, quarrelling, laughing, buying and selling in the
narrow roadway between lines of booths. Chinatown was sedate and tranquil by comparison. The
Chinese today succeed in living as a closed community among other peoples without harsh impact.
Chicago’s seven thousand Chinese have their own proper quarter and small, self-called Town Hall,
with a Chinese court where they try minor Chinese malefactors, sometimes sending the judgments
to be rubber-stamped by American magistrates round the corner.
Wandering in these places I came by chance on West Madison Street, which might have been
designed, built and peopled, as I saw it, by Hogarth. It is but the prolongation of Madison -Street,
which is a great central thoroughfare, and at first I thought it just a mean quarter, filled with dirt,
din, joy, misery, darkness and light like any other. Then I saw men lying in the street, and said to
my companion, ‘That’s a funny place to sleep’. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘they’re asleep all right; knockout
drops.’ He nodded towards lines of men who leaned against walls. ‘Those men haven’t a dime,’ he
said, ‘if they had they’d be inside.’
In bright daylight, I needed a few seconds to comprehend. Then I saw what he meant. The prostrate
men were unconscious, those sitting on the kerbside were only half so, and the ones on their feet
presumably waited to borrow that dime. They leaned against the walls of liquor-shops which
displayed large notices, ‘Whisky, full ounce, 20 cents; double-shot, 35 cents’. The results were plain
to see, stretched on the pavements. At all hours of the day, I found, the scene was similar, and
recumbent forms lay in the refuse-filled alleyways. In the early morning, when thirst needed
encouragement, the double-shot (’Our Morning Special’) cost but 18 cents!
I remembered hard drinking in London forty years ago but professional drinking on this scale (for
these men had no other professions) was new to me. A hundred years ago London may have known
something comparable; the Borough High Street then was described as ‘a continued ale-house, not a
shop to be seen between red-lattice and red-lattice; no workers but all drinkers.’ What I now saw
seemed a great waste of lovers, husbands, fathers, homes, crafts and careers. Prohibition is vain and
appears wrong. Regulation of quantity by taxation and of quality by supervision might be an
answer.
Chicago, however, is a wide-open city in the broadest sense, by order of the vice-syndicates, and
this is one aspect of the effects. The city took brief cognisance of West Madison Street just after I
discovered it. One morning a newspaper-editor ‘picked his way to work through Skid Row’s reeking
garbage and broken bottles, stepping past the bodies of sleeping derelicts on the sidewalks’, and
thought this would ‘make a good story’. In his sense, it did; his newspaper’s circulation rose by
twenty thousand copies daily while it continued. He sent two reporters to live as bums in Skid Row
for a week; one became violently ill from the double-shot but the narrative was produced. There
were eighty-two saloons in three-quarters of a mile of street, all openly breaking the liquor and
health laws, and forty-six doss-houses with a nightly population of twelve thousand men, formerly
of all classes from the managerial and professional to the manual-labour.
The report for a time closed down fifty-six saloons. However, even during this brief alarm thirty-
two unconscious men were counted on the sidewalk during a ten-minute walk. The interests
engaged in keeping the city wide-open are the most powerful in Chicago and the Police
Commissioner ‘threw up his hands’, asking, ‘what can we do?’ Soon the good story was forgotten.
Chicago has always been so.
Yet Chicago was also the scene of a scintillating glimpse of that beautiful and elusive thing, the
American Dream. The oft-used words denote a genuine and admirable longing for something noble
if unclear; visions are commonly vague in outline but contain great power to inspire. The World
Fair of 1893, white and shining, was a sudden, brief realization of that peculiarly American
yearning; in 1925 Sir Charles Cochran remembered it as ‘the most impressive thing of its kind that I
have seen’. Its swift creation and abrupt dissolution reveal two sides of the American character,
which between them make up the whole enigma.
The idea of a World Fair to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s discovery
of America took shape in 1890. In a land where the cities vie for live conventions as Roman ones
fought for Homer dead, this was a glittering prize, and Chicago won it. In January 1891, with
opening-day but two years ahead, a few architects gathered on a lake shore then not much less
desolate than the Atlantic coast where the first settlers landed in 1600. In May 1893 the Fair was
opened.
In those two years seven hundred acres of sand or waterlogged ground were reclaimed and a dozen
palaces built, together with hundreds of smaller buildings, canals, basins, lagoons and islets. For
once ‘American architects were freed from the demon of rent-values and the building-envelope’. All
the buildings were white and of a uniform cornice-height. Meanwhile Chicago itself was still paved
with cobblestones or cedar blocks, the uneven sidewalks were largely of wood, the slums were far-
spread and foul. Mr. Walter Crane wrote of it, ‘Long straight roads break off short on the prairie, to
be continued when this pays. Along these straight roads are planted at regular intervals excessively
irregular houses, the genius of the American architect breaking out in weird, conical towers, vast
verandas, mansard roofs; the main roads are bordered with huge telegraph poles.’
That is still a picture of large areas of Chicago today. In 1893 something entirely different sprang
up on the lake-shore, almost in a night. ‘For the first time in American history a complete city,
equipped with all the public utilities caring for a temporary population of thousands, was built as a
unit on a single architectural scale. Unique in being an epitome of what we had done and a
prophecy of what we could do if content with nothing but the best, it was a miniature of an ideal
city; a symbol of regeneration. A new epoch began in American architecture, the epoch of the
classical. It endured for a few months. A vision was ordered to appear and then ordered to
disappear.’
The huge, swift achievement; the warning touch of disintegrating doom; these two familiar
apparitions of the American landscape reappear in the story of the World Fair. It was scarcely open
when a Chicago bank, with a branch in its grounds, failed; wealthy Chicagoans indemnified foreign
exhibitors. A warehouse caught fire and seventeen firemen were killed. As the Exhibition closed
the Mayor of Chicago was assassinated. The white city remained, silent and deserted, as winter
approached, and businessmen spoke of white elephants. What to do with a white city, its purpose
served? Why, junk it! Fire solved the problem. The great palaces were burned down. Only the Art
Palace survived and stands today, as the Field Museum, a monument to an astonishing feat.
The World Fair left Chicago with what it might otherwise have missed, the splendid lake front
which is its one beauty, with fine parks and buildings, Planetarium and fountain. Only there, in
Chicago, may you hope to find a quiet spot or restful moment, particularly in the Planetarium,
where the most marvellous of all man-made machines projects on to a domed roof the entire picture
of the day or night sky at any moment of the past or future; the contemplation of time and space is
spiritually reinvigorating in a place so given to the passing instant. The fountain too is a joy. All
cities ought to have fountains, constantly playing. They had them when drinking-water had to be
fetched from fountains, but these should not be stilled now that water is laid on, for beauty contains
a utility, and perhaps the greatest.
When I have forgotten much else I shall remember the fountains of the Schwarzenberg Place in
Vienna. Hidden lights of many colours played on them, and shafts and plumes and columns of
water, ever-changing in shape and hue and lovely as flowers, rose and fell in the summer night
while I sat with my coffee and watched. Men knew how to live, once. This fountain in Chicago
recalled that other in the city now in pawn to doom; it was a soft and delightful thing in the hard,
angular brightness of Chicago at night.
*** Chapter Forty
CITIES FULL OF VIOLENCE
Chicago is full of the showplaces of gangsterdom; something pestilential surrounds them still, as if
their doors bore a red cross. The tourist guides lead their flocks to the café where Big Jim Colosimo
was shot (whose throne passed to Johnny Torrio, who faded out so that Al Capone succeeded, who
went to prison so that it descended to other, present kinsmen); another café once owned by
Diamond Joe Esposito, who was shot between his bodyguards; the garage where seven Moran
gangsters were machine-gunned by rivals, two dressed as policemen; the spot where a ‘hanging
prosecutor’ was killed; the nightclub of one Ginsberg who died of fright while awaiting
electrocution (he was a pessimist; in the last 639 gang murders thirteen persons were convicted, but
not all executed); and other X-marked spots.
I went to America believing that the gangster days began and ended with Prohibition, which gave a
galvanic impetus to illicit brewing, distillation and purvey. This was a major error, born in the
perusal of the mass-newspapers; in truth, gangsterdom is more powerful than ever before, because
organized crime is now firmly allied with politics. The masses of American people seem held in a
clutch from which they cannot break free. The general attitude towards organized crime is (as Mark
Twain said about the weather), ‘Everybody complains of it but nobody does anything about it’.
Mr. James Kem, a Senator from Missouri, expressed common public feeling in scriptural words:
‘Mr. President, the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence.’ Organized
subversion of law today is a quite different thing from the Wild Western lawlessness of earlier
times. That was a hot-blooded condition of the open spaces where the forces of law were weak,
some men took what they wanted, and other men lynched them to enforce some security. This is a
cold-blooded thing of the teeming cities, the systematic corruption of an established order of law
and justice for gain and power. It is of the snake, not the man-eater. It is (wrote Mr. Priestley) ‘not a
tropical underworld of hot blood and passion, of people too barbaric for the bourgeois virtues; it is
a chilly, grey, cellar-like, fungus world, of greed, calculated violence and a cold sensuality’.
Gangsterdom in the 1920s and 1930s seemed just a sudden outbreak of violent crime. Rival gangs
fought merely for spoils, hijacked each other’s liquor, muscled-in on each other’s precincts, killed
each other, and that was that. The kidnapping of Colonel Lindbergh’s son in 1932, (when the father
was a national idol yet unsmeared) forced Congress to act. The gunmen publicly most notorious
were hunted down and by 1938 Mr. Edgar Hoover of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(America’s Scotland Yard) thought the gangsters’ day was over. Now the hidden organization
proves stronger than ever. Organized crime is one of the three most powerful forces in the Republic
and its coils reach round the entire edifice of political and civic administration.
The centres of the organization are the great polyglot cities, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles,
Detroit, Cleveland, Saint Louis, Miami and New Orleans. From these its tentacles spread over the
land into small and smaller towns (in 1950 a quiet place of 15,000 people in Kentucky had its entire
police force and 160 other people under indictment for vote frauds, illicit gambling and neglect of
duty). The aim is to make the whole Republic ‘wide open’ for gambling, drinking (against which
regulative laws exist in nearly all States), drugs and prostitution. The method used is the purchase
of politicians and officials at all levels; it is facilitated by the American system of redistributing
public offices after elections. The following quotations (a few from a large mass) show how the
matter is constantly discussed, though as yet without any effect:
In Kansas City the alliance between politics and crime exploded in the killing of Charley Binnaggio
and his gunman Charley Gargotta … It is the duty and responsibility of the President to enforce the
laws but obviously this is not being done … It is little wonder that respect and confidence of the
people for the laws have dropped to an all-time low; the unholy alliance between politics and crime
is responsible for this … No gambler can operate without crooked friends at city hall and in police
headquarters.
The real crime menace is the huge gambling syndicate which has a grip on politics … The Mafia is
the super-government of a nation-wide and world-wide crime organization which now has tentacles
reaching into the Cabinet and White House itself and almost every State capital … The link between
the new-style gangster and the shady politician is the biggest story in America today and its surface
has only been pricked by the reporters’ pens … A share of the gangster’s profits, as crime
investigation committees during the last few years have revealed in Detroit, Chicago and
elsewhere, is laid aside to buy local politicians who have the power to select police, prosecutors,
judges and legislators … The syndicate operates by subterfuge in every big city except Chicago,
where an open alliance between politics and the underworld has brought about conditions that are a
disgrace to civilization.
Politicians need money, racketeers need immunity (a Police Chief from Ohio).
The reason the Police Department takes things on the side is because they don’t make enough to
live on. If you offer them a gift they don’t take it; they grab it and tear your arm off with it (a
gangster).
The recurrent allusion, in all such complaints, is to the ‘alliance between crime and politics’. This is
universally known and individual Americans speak of it with detestation, fear and impotence. They
overlook its larger aspect, which students of recent inquiries in England may also ignore. It is that
officials, once suborned, must toe the line for ever, and the higher they are, the more important the
line. Corruption may reach at last into major actions of State policy and endanger the life of a
nation; more than gaming-machines, drinking-hours or numbers rackets are at stake. Forgetting
that, many Americans tell themselves the Republic will in time, somehow, get the thing out of its
system. A book about Chicago expresses this feeling: ‘It is difficult to get indignant at Chicago. So
much is so open and law-breaking is so obvious that it comes to appear normal.’
Organized crime in its present form is a product of the later immigration which started with the
Civil War. The big names in it are Italian, with some Russian-Jewish ones, and it can only be
understood by considering those origins. The great waves of immigration from Italy and Eastern
Europe came from places where the secret society was indigenous and membership descended from
generation to generation of the same families. The tradition of enmity to law and long experience in
conspiratorial methods were brought to the new land. Signs of connection between Soviet
Communism, Political Zionism and the crime-syndicate have often shown. One leading operator
was prominent in the money-raising campaign for the Zionist adventure in Palestine. Gangsters are
frequently defended by lawyers representing the American Civil Liberties Union, which was
described by a Californian Senatorial Committee as ‘expending at least ninety per cent of its efforts
on behalf of Communists who come into conflict with the law … Its main function is to protect
Communists in their activities of force and violence in their programme to overthrow the
government’.
The Italian organization is at least ninety years old and goes back to the Sicilian Mafia, which is
centuries old. The Italian Government tried to root out the Mafia between 1860 and 1880, so that ‘at
least a hundred of its members’ arrived illegally in New Orleans’ (according to the Italian Consul
there). These men committed some seventy murders in twenty years, most of them with the ‘Mafia
gun’, a forerunner of the deadly weapon still preferred by gangsters in the 1930s (it was a shot gun
with the barrels sawn off to about eighteen inches, the stock sawn through near the trigger and
hollowed to fit the shoulder; the stock was also fitted with hinges so that the gun folded like a jack-
knife).
About 1880 one Giuseppi Esposito (possibly a forebear of Chicago’s Diamond Joe) fled to New
Orleans from Sicily (where Italian troops sought him for cutting off the ears of an English
clergyman, Mr. Rose, and sending these to the family to accelerate ransom) and organized the
Mafia there. He was captured and sent back to Italy, but his men killed the detective who arrested
him in New Orleans. Eleven Italians were charged with this murder but New Orleans saw that
prosecutors, jurymen and judges could not be trusted; the Italians were acquitted and the Mafia held
high festival. Then occurred one of those spontaneous American uprisings against the corruption of
justice; some hundreds of townsmen went to the jail and shot the men.
This setback seemed final, but in fact the Mafia proved to have remained in being and grown
stronger. Al Capone’s cousin is a leader of the organization today and the Unione Siciliano is freely
mentioned in the continuing, but impotent, public debate. The editor of a leading American
newspaper in a current book states that the crime syndicate has drawn such revenues from
gambling, drugs and prostitution that it has invested the proceeds in legitimate trading in a large
way and now owns a chain of great hotels, hundreds of night-clubs, restaurants, stores, skyscraper
buildings and a steamship line! The general staff has plainly suffered little from the loss of the
Pretty Boy Floyds and the Baby Face Nelsons.
Of fifty ‘public enemies’ proclaimed by the Chicago Crime Commission in 1931 none was
convicted and several operate happily there now. In New York Irving Bitz (once of the ‘Lepke
Mob’) popped up for an instant in some new affair and proved to be employed in the office of a
leading newspaper, where advance information useful to the bookmaking ring was to be had.
Dandy Parisi, formerly of ‘Murder, Inc.’, long sought for the murder of one Irving Penn in 1939,
was found in New York in 1950; he belched loud disdain as the judge dismissed the charge for lack
of corroborating evidence (Irving Penn was unlucky; Big Albert Anastasia, Kid Twist Reles,
Pittsburgh Phil Strauss and Mendy Weiss planned the death of one Philip Orlofsky,’ but Dandy
Jack, working to a description, shot the wrong man!).
Those are the smaller men. The big ones bloom unseen, and each knowing writer puts a different
name to the head of the octopus. Frankie Costello in New York is the great chief; Charlie Fischetti
in Chicago is the biggest shot; Tony Goebels in Brooklyn is ‘The King’; opinions vary, but nobody
knows. The rival gangs no longer engage in pitched street-battles, or steal each other’s liquor, or
throw pineapple bombs into shops which have refused to pay for protection. The method has
changed. Possibly there are no rival gangs now, but all have merged to besiege the politicians and
through them to pursue bigger game: power in the land.
The killings which continue are picturesque, internecine and infinitely mysterious. Arrest, charge
and conviction are at the moment obsolete words; enigmatic disputes are summarily settled
between gentlemen who seem above all law but their own, and that’s the end. Benny the Meatball
(supposedly ‘the big shot around Los Angeles’) ‘runs screaming into the night with five bullet holes
in him’. He is succeeded (they say) by Bugsy Siegel, also once of ‘Murder, Inc.’, who is then shot on
a divan in a lady friend’s home. He is followed (men think) by Micky Cohen, who formerly killed
Maxie Shaman, but in self-defence, and was acquitted. Allen Smiley, who sat beside Bugsy on the
fatal night, becomes Micky Cohen’s colleague. Pauley Gibbons, a rival (so people guess), ‘falls
under a hail of bullets’. Hooky Rothman is shot in Micky Cohen’s chair in Micky Cohen’s clothing
shop. Micky Cohen, emerging from a Los Angeles restaurant, is greeted by shotgun-fire from
behind a hoarding opposite (bad luck for a man who rides in a bullet-proof motor car from which
he can turn floodlights on to his whole domain while still afar off, and who, in his home, can watch
all that approaches on a radar screen). Mr. Cohen is only scratched, but his bodyguard, Neddie
Herbert, is killed, and a police companion badly wounded.
Nothing ever becomes known. The crime reporters each time produce a dozen theories. The dead
man was shot by a rival for his place or because he had ’squealed’; the murderer was a ’squealer’ and
feared vengeance; the police killed him because they couldn’t get him any other way, or because he
had ’squealed’ about payments to officials; or he was killed in revenge for another killing. The coils
of conjecture are endless, but conjecture is the end. It is like peering into a nest of vipers where
there are many hissing heads but apparently only one, writhing body. The crime syndicate does not
extirpate itself in this way, but grows stronger. These casualties must amount merely to a fractional
inconvenience within it; they resemble Stalinesque purges.
I was around those parts when the attempt on Mr. Cohen briefly excited public opinion. The story,
which illustrates the subject as well as any, began with the arrest of seven men in a car for driving
the wrong way in a one-way street (the prudent Los Angeles policeman devotes himself to traffic
transgressions but even then may go wrong). The seven men had just finished beating a shopkeeper
‘until he looked like the end-product of a meat-grinder’, so that the policemen found on them
revolvers, loaded canes, tire-irons and the like. At the police-station, however, the desk-sergeants,
after one look at the captives, refused to charge them and restored their belongings. The matter
would have ended there but that, by chance, an amateur photographer took a picture of the seven
men, while they were being searched; he sold it to a newspaper-editor who recognized them as
associates of Mr. Cohen and printed it with adverse comments about the police.
Public curiosity, thus stirred, was further stimulated when another colleague of Mr. Cohen was
arrested for carrying firearms. Mr. Cohen complained that this was a false charge, only brought
because he had refused a donation to the Mayor’s electoral fund. He added that one of the police
officers concerned took payments from a woman brothel-keeper and that this could be proved by
the disks of tapped telephone conversations (apparently a local specialist was tapping such
communications for Mr. Cohen, and also Mr. Cohen’s for the police). The lady involved was in jail,
having arrived there through another police officer, who sent a policewoman to gain incriminating
evidence by offering her services in The Madam’s establishment. At Mr. Cohen’s intervention The
Madam was brought from prison and testified that she had indeed paid money to the police officer
who arrested Mr. Cohen’s associate, and also to the one whose charges sent her to prison. At that
the corroborative witness, the policewoman, said she had perjured herself for love of her superior.
Thus The Madam made good her words to the officers who arrested her, ‘I’ll have your jobs, you’re
only a couple of peanuts in the bottom of the bag’.
Whatever the truth or untruth, the moral seems clear; that a policeman who interferes with the vice-
trade incurs deadly risk. For the rest, a Police Chief resigned and another was appointed, and the
newspapers closed the matter with allusions to ‘the pattern of police bribery and police protection
under which the rackets operate’.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to labour in vain against these conditions. The case of
Al Capone remains the proof of its difficulties; he was only brought to book, at last, for income-tax
frauds! So it still is. A coroner’s jury may say ‘Murder’, but the State or District Attorney’s office
may append, ‘No evidence’, ‘Stricken off’ or ‘Dismissed for want of prosecution’. The devices of
delay also are infinite in the hands of smart lawyers (an American judge once said ‘Litigation at
some point must come to an end’, but that point is hard to reach), and the statute of limitations is
short. One much-sought leader was arrested, as a last hope, for swearing at the police. Admitting to
‘bastards’, he said the President once called a reporter a son-of-a-bitch, and acquittal upheld his
constitutional rights.
One peculiarly American factor also works against the repression of organized crime. ‘The lynching
mob exists in America in two forms’ (writes Mr. Edmund Lester Pearson in Studies in Murder), ‘the
mob which hunts down and kills some wretch of a malefactor, or alleged malefactor; and the mob
which rails against legal officers who are engaged in protecting the community against crime …
Ten thousand tears are shed in America for persons accused of murder, and even for persons
convicted of murder, to every word of regret spoken for the victims of the murders. And that,
according to thoughtful investigators, is one of the reasons why America leads the world in its
shameful record for the unlawful taking of human life.’ Moral indignation about organized crime is
difficult to match with an emotional sympathy towards individual crime, and this might explain the
failure of general opinion to rise effectively against the gambling, drink, drugs and prostitution
ring. The crime-ring killings very seldom come to court, but the scenes which sometimes attend
individual murder-trials have something of the delirium of the Camp Meetings.
Individual crime exists everywhere and would not deserve especial notice in a book about America.
Organized crime is different and appears in America in a degree unknown elsewhere. The alliance
with politics lifts it from the size of a fungus to that of a redwood in the American scene, and its
effects might be as great as those of a civil or foreign war. The crime-ring, through its agents all
over the land, sets out to suborn officials and politicians with money or the promise of votes. The
service demanded is the wide-open regime, in the form of tacit non-interference with the gambling,
liquor, narcotics and prostitution traffic. Once a party organization has been so subverted, however,
its political policies are bound to come under similar pressure. The ultimate aim appears to be the
subversion of the Republic itself, not merely profit. If a State is to be ruined before it is taken over,
this poisoning of its life at the source must be in the interest of political ambitions, not merely of
dope-barons.
One of the ring’s practices is to bribe revenue officials and then blackmail businessmen and others
through the threat of high assessments. A grand jury reported that in President Truman’s home
county ‘one arrogant racketeer, feeling that a prominent businessman had not been polite to him,
had this man’s real-estate assessment tripled. When the victim apologized and opened a credit
account for the racketeer the original assessment was restored’. This jury was shocked into making
an interim report which spoke of ‘terrible lawlessness, utter disregard of our States as well as our
municipal laws’.
The deepest root of the evil, however, is the crime-ring’s delivery of votes, or forgery of them if
they cannot otherwise be obtained. Because of this factor, the results of American elections cannot
always be accepted as genuine. The hidden process was illumined by an event in President
Truman’s constituency in Kansas City in 1950, when two men were found shot in the headquarters
of the First District Democratic Club in Truman Road. They were Charley Binnaggio, who claimed
to be the ‘boss of the Democratic Party machine’ in that place, and his ‘bodyguard and enforcer’,
Charley Gargotta. Every day (at the club where they were killed) ‘boon-seekers ran a gauntlet of
stony-faced hoodlums’ (’gimlet-eyed gorillas ‘is another favourite description) who dispensed
patronage to the purchasable. Binnaggio was ‘a political big shot’; he had ‘thirty thousand votes in
his pocket’ and ‘boasted that he controlled thirty State legislators and had elected the current
Governor’. Some of the votes he thus ‘delivered’ were the subject of inquiry by a grand jury, which
indicted sixty-seven of his helpers for forging them. The evidence was put in a safe in the county
courthouse; someone blew it open and made off with the incriminating ballot-papers. The inquiry
then collapsed.
The public will never know why Binnaggio was killed. The picture was the familiar one; the two
men seemed to have died before they knew that anything threatened, and thus did not suspect their
visitors, whoever they were. They had squealed or might squeal; the usual theories were discussed.
The leading newspapers remarked, without excitement, that ‘the alliance continues between the
underworld and many of the big-city Democratic machines that piled up the votes for the Fair Deal’
(the Roosevelt-Truman regime), and that ‘these bullets echoed in the White House’. The upshot of it
all was that for a while a few Senators and Congressmen vainly sought to drag the matter into the
open and ‘the chances of effective action to enforce the law remained remote’ (to quote one of many
newspaper comments).
Chicago more than any other place makes the traveller wonder what America’s future is to be. That
is not to predict by dark insinuation that it will come to no good end; the huge latent strength of that
great majority of Americans who want a Christian and decent life is obviously enough, if it can
assert itself, to expel toxic matter from its system. It is merely a confession of ignorance. Today’s
traveller in Chicago simply has no past experience by which he can measure future possibilities, for
the white man’s world has never known anything like Chicago; I think that is plainly true and
demonstrable. It is something quite new, at least in degree, and the results can only be judged when
they appear. The second city of America is undeniably ruled by forces organized to stimulate and
exploit the baser weaknesses of human nature, and to that end to subvert what white men have
always in the mass held to be the Christian order of law and decency. Their law is today the only
law in it. Such conspiracies have often been known in the European parentlands of America but
never had more than local and temporary success. I feel sure modern history can show no other
case of a great city being in effect conquered, occupied and ruled by them.
The only comparisons that can he made, as far as the conspiratorial method goes, are with the
Mafia in Italy and the Communist and Political Zionist secret societies in Czarist Russia. As for the
outer results, the Casbah of Casablanca, Port Said and the waterfront of Marseilles alone offer some
possibility of comparison. Those were special cases, however; seaports and the sharpset appetites
of seafaring men from the ends of the earth have always combined to produce small centres of
human degradation. Chicago is not a seaport, so that those factors are absent, yet it far outdoes the
Casbah, Port Said, Marseilles and all other such places put together in the open, commercialized
display of prostitution, sexual perversion, the narcotics trade, drunkenness and gambling. Madison
Street West offers but a small sample of its contents; the nude-show bars, the ‘call girls’, the dope-
pedlars and the panders are innumerable. I thought Berlin between the wars was the ultimate in
these things. Compared with Chicago today it was as a peanut to a pumpkin. The wayworn writer
feels, or should feel, no call to moralize about such things. The more important aspect is that the
whole is organized and operated by a single, central organization, The Big Mob, for purposes of
political power and that now, according to all qualified observers, it has gained great power in the
highest places.
A foremost authority in the subject, Mr. Jack Lait in Chicago Confidential, says this state of affairs
has been brought about by ‘our immigrant hordes’ and study of it shows this to be the fact. The two
traditional countries of the secret society, Russia and Italy, provided most of the immigrants of the
last seventy years, and in the new country the secret societies were able to gain more power than
even in their homelands; the masses of Jews and of Italians suffered under this equally with all
others when the native-born American politician fell under the unaccustomed thrall. The Big Mob
in America today is clearly the Sicilian Mafia of old, with organization intact, rules and methods
unchanged. A current encyclopaedia says it was in Sicily ‘a secret society which in the latter part of
the nineteenth century aimed at superseding the law and ruling the island. Its chief weapon was the
boycott; violence was resorted to only for vengeance; funds were raised by blackmail. Popular
support enabled it to control elections, avoid legal proceedings and influence industrial questions’.[3]
These are precisely the methods used by The Big Mob in America, on a grander scale than ever
before, and the internecine killings in the average lead to an increasing predominance of the Italian
over all other elements. Mr. Lait says that operations are still conducted from Italy, by Charles
(’Lucky’) Luciano, one of the few leading gangsters with whom American justice caught up, at least
to the point of expulsion. He says that the American headquarters is in New York but that the real
centre is Chicago, where The Big Mob under Colosimo, Capone and Torrio experienced its first
great growth in strength and wealth during Prohibition, and where alone it completely controls
affairs (twice during the last ten or fifteen years its sway was challenged even in New York!).
Through the investment of its booty from narcotics, liquor and prostitution in open enterprises like
real-estate, hotels and stores, and shipping it has become, he says, a kind of corporation or cartel
equalling, or transcending, in wealth and power such licit concerns as the Standard Oil Company.
One gangster, briefly held for murder, protested, ‘I’ve got more cash than Rockefeller and there’s
twenty of us with more than I have; no one’s going to push us around’. A Treasury Department
official said this particular man was ‘inclined to boast’ but certainly had ‘as much as $150,000,000
in currency in Chicago safe deposit vaults’.
The heyday of The Big Mob did not end with the ending of the thirteen-year period of Prohibition,
during which the foundations of its empire were laid on the proceeds from bootlegging and
hijacking. On the contrary, it began then. The dwindling news of gangsterdom from America gave
the outer world the impression that it was in decline, but the real reason for this was, not that
gangsterdom was broken, but exactly the opposite: that the prosecution of gangsters ceased! This
started, like permeation by Communism and Political Zionism, in 1933, the year of President
Roosevelt’s inauguration. The president before him, Mr. Hoover, was a vigorous enemy of the
racketeers and his efforts to crush them now look like a main reason for the vendetta since pursued
against him.
Before 1933 The Big Mob operated in a relatively small way through the subversion of local
bosses. After 1933, Mr. Lait says, it broke out from Chicago to take over ‘the entire state and the
entire nation, to break through directly to the top, by-passing the whole succession of
intermediaries’. Mr. Lait says that a quid pro quo arrangement of ‘votes for favours’ was made
directly with Washington. He repeats the statement in various forms several times and adduces
what appears to be proof positive: since 1933 ‘there have been few Federal prosecutions of
Syndicate gangsters – and in Chicago none’. This was why The Big Mob disappeared from the
news, while its power increased; ‘from that time on major prosecutions of important underworld
leaders practically ceased’.
This state of affairs received an impressive mark of official approval in 1947. In that year two
Chicago police officers of long service arrested one Jack Guzik (who made the statement I quoted
earlier) in connection with the murder of a man who challenged the authority of The Big Mob,
refusing to surrender his racing news service to it. Guzik was released within two hours. The two
police officers were charged with depriving the arrested man of his civil rights (apparently by
searching him for arms). Two eyewitnesses of the murder retracted their evidence and a third was
killed. Charges, changed to ‘conspiring to obtain a fraudulent indictment’, were then laid against the
two police officers, but dropped. They were next brought before a Civil Service Commission which
dismissed them from the force. They appealed and two courts ordered their reinstatement. A third
upheld ‘the wholesome decision of the Civil Service Commission’ (a Supreme Court appeal still
pends) and, says Mr. Lait, ‘That was notice to Chicago’s seven thousand policemen that the
racketeers and their assassins must not be disturbed; none has been since, not up to now’. In fact the
warning was a clear one to police officers far beyond Chicago, in all cities where The Big Mob is
strong.
The root reason for the strength of The Big Mob’s hold on American politics is that it is successful
in subverting both main parties. Although it promises ‘votes for favours’, it includes in its
calculations the possibility that the opposition party might somehow come to power, and with
forethought infests it too. In England the Conservative Party is prevented by some occult grip from
truly opposing Soviet Communism or Political Zionism and therewith deprives its followers of
genuine ability to choose. In America the Republican Party similarly submits to those two thralls
and to the third one as well, that of The Big Mob. Mr. Lait says, ‘The unique, baffling Chicago
situation is that there is no “opposition”. In every other machine-manipulated municipality there is
an aggressive minority party, an active “reform” movement of some proportions. In Chicago there
is none. The Republicans, who long owned the county and state, now depend for sustenance on
reciprocal deals; mustn’t offend our foes, because we’ll need them, so we’ll keep it peaceful; no mud
now, boys, or we get nothing.’
I do not think that situation is ‘unique’ to Chicago, even in America. In the larger picture it exists
throughout America and England and the remaining Western countries. The whole shape of it has
only been perceived and publicly exposed by Mr. Roosevelt’s predecessor, the former President
Hoover, who in 1950 said the issue in America was clear; the two major parties should become
opposites, and the Republicans should become a frankly conservative party. He told the
Republicans, ‘There is no room for you on the left’, and the Democrats, ‘Your die is cast, you are the
party of the left’. Then he said to some members of both parties, ‘You are not in your proper
spiritual homes … If there cannot be a reasonably cohesive body of opinion in each major party,
you are on a blind road where there is no authority in the ballot box.’ That is an exact description of
the blurred and confused situation to which permeation has brought the Conservative party in
England too, and England with it.
In addition to the corruption of politics and the bargain-counter display of human merchandise at its
lowest levels of degradation, the rule of The Big Mob has produced a third effect in Chicago, the
ultimate working of which is equally hard to foresee. The Negro population there is now by all
appearance (trustworthy figures cannot be obtained) the biggest single group. Formerly, when it
was much smaller, excellent relations existed between the white and coloured folk. Today there are
large and growing Negro quarters through which white folk hurry by day, reluctantly stopping even
at red traffic lights, and hardly venture at all by night, and white women should not go there
unescorted ever. The figures for murder, rape and all other violence in Chicago’s Fifth District are
beyond anything ever known in white countries.
This great Negro influx was by no means wholly a spontaneous one. The novelist Anthony
Trollope, as he travelled in South Africa about the time the American Negroes were being
liberated, foretold the danger that ‘unscrupulous white politicians’ would make use of black men,
given the vote before they were ready to understand it, and Chicago today is the picture of what he
foresaw. Very many Negroes were induced to go to Chicago and Los Angeles (as the Puerto Ricans
to New York) by cheap fares and other enticements. The object was to tip the voting-scale, and this
was achieved; Chicago the city and Illinois the State were by such means captured by the
Roosevelt-Truman administrations from the Republicans.
In this way Negroes from the remoter parts of the South, who seldom handled five pounds at one
time in their lives before, were in masses brought to Chicago, where during the war they could earn
fifty pounds a week. If there was ever a true economic need for them there it passed with the war,
but they were kept there after it, employers being moved by threats from the white politicians to
employ them, and relief being lavishly distributed if they remained unemployed. Racial
resentments were created where none existed before, as they always must be when large and
sudden population-movements are instigated for political ends.
The result so far has been that a law-abiding, established, slowly-growing and amiable Negro
community has been swamped by a great host of imported newcomers who have been dazed and
dazzled by the entirely new way of life into which they were plunged. For The Big Mob, they are
as clay to the potter, and Bronzeville (which contains the Fifth District) is the result, a place where
drunkenness, drug addiction and all depravity run riot against a background of dirt and human
congestion. This was once a better district of good houses and pleasant streets. The raw Afro-
Americans brought their still semi-tribal way of life into it, turned mansions into antheaps and
apartment buildings into tenements, and pushed out in all directions. In Chicago they are in fact
driving out the white population from substantial areas. Friendly mingling of the races on the old
level has almost stopped while the lowest of both races flock together, especially the degenerates.
The state of affairs in the South during the Reconstruction years has been brought to Chicago and
reproduced in large parts of it.
This is the work of The Big Mob and of the white politicians who have allied themselves with it.
The city is firmly in its grip. Mr. Lait says, ‘There just is no recourse against injustice. There is no
place, no person to whom the helpless who would appeal can go. The blind alley of politics-
gangdom-graft ends in a solid wall which none may crack or vault.’[4]
*** Chapter Forty-One
SMALL TOWN
On my way out of Chicago I passed again through West Madison Street, where lay the men shot
and doubly-shot. The tourist-buses go up and down there and the drivers tell their passengers
through hand-microphones that this is ‘The Land of Forgotten Men’; a misuse of words, for though
these prostrate ones may for periods succeed in forgetting the world, by the sightseeing industry
they are not forgotten. Then I toiled out of the city by the eastward road, a slow job, for Halstead
Street does in a manner continue for the renowned twenty-five miles. When it ceases genuinely to
be the name goes on and throws off ghostly side-streets, 125th, 150th, 175th and so on. The signs
for 1000th and 10,000th Streets are not yet there but will come, in this country of 150 million
people and 35 million motor cars.
At last I ran out of Chicago and Illinois and into Ohio and by way of complete change stayed
awhile at Bryan, a small town of a few thousand souls. Readers of Main Street know Gopher
Prairie, the raw small town of unlovely homes and stores sprung up in the fields where neighbours
know no seclusion, private life is wide open to Mrs. Next-door’s prurient curiosity, gentler souls
yearn for Art and boosters cry Our City. The Gopher Prairies are numerous and account for the tone
in which many Americans say the words, Small Town. A city-bred American friend of mine
dreams of retreating to one from his exhausting surroundings. His wife, who grew up in a Gopher
Prairie, merely answers. ‘You don’t know the small town; I do,’ therewith saying a last word clearly
unanswerable.
In these parts, however, I saw many small towns much pleasanter in appearance, whatever the real
content of life in them, than Gopher Prairie, which was a farming-camp. They were like New
England over again; outside Main Street, at all events, their homes were in green aisles of elms and
the white wooden churches abounded. In time I learned the reason for this transplantation. New
England soil is poor and when the frontier began to move westward many Yankees flocked after it,
lured by tales of better earth. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire were to some extent
depopulated, and those States of The Beginning are among the emptiest today; the ghost-school-
house, ghost-farm and ghost-barn are not uncommon there. The New England spinster became a
familiar figure and one man tried to meet two crying needs by transporting her in hundreds towards
the lonely bachelor in the West.
Thus the mushrooming new towns often grew up like the old New England ones, with the white
houses, gleaming Wren-style churches, and, sometimes, village greens. Bryan had a large open
green place, a bandstand and a band. It reminded me in this of an old-time German garrison town;
however, no visible sign of German population offered and such things are not quickly ascertained,
in an American small town. It was all very pleasant, with children romping round the bandstand. In
America such simple enjoyments as a band in a green place, cool with trees, are rare and a certain
resentment against them is constant. I felt it even in Bryan. The band was good and obviously one
of volunteer musicians. When I went to a drugstore, wishing to sit down while I listened, I found a
gang of lads feeding nickels into a jukebox to drown the sound of music outside.
I went on from Bryan, through Sandusky, and ran along beside another great inland sea, Lake Erie,
to Cleveland, where the car broke down for the first time, by what seemed happy chance outside a
large sales-and-service branch of the firm which made it, in the middle of the city. I left it in the
loudly protesting traffic stream and dashed across. They were sorry, but the entire mechanical staff
of their huge organization had been on strike for three months! It is sad to be stranded in the midst
of a central thoroughfare; all America becomes one great accusing face and anathematizing horn; I
felt like a Lilliputian in Gulliverland. At this crisis a complete stranger with a truck appeared,
without a word wasted began pushing me through the traffic, and after a mile or two taciturnly
steered me aside into a repair-workshop, then departing before I could even thank him.
For a day or two I idled among friends and explored Cleveland, a fine city by the lake, with an
abundance of trees and parks, and many great industries. Here Mike Polopski, the best-paid artisan
in history, earns one hundred dollars a week (sensibly diminished by his union dues), owns a
limousine, and lives in a somewhat inferior house, with a wife, television set, large refrigerator and
a machine which washes, rinses, wrings and dries. Save for the house itself, and what that might
connote, he lives well. He already earns more than the $4000 a year which President Truman has
foretold as the average income of an American family by 1966. The only cloud in his material sky,
if it is one, is the unanswered question: will deficit-spending by his government lead to a ‘bust’ (as it
does for private persons) and what is to be done with the apparently inexhaustible production of
American industry?
As to the first, the currently unfashionable school of ’sound finance’ holds that the ultimate ‘bust’ is
inevitable. As to the second, only God, by the look of things, can provide the solution. When the
small British island (which does not grow all the food or contain all the raw materials it needs) was
wealthy, it bought food and raw materials abroad and largely paid for these with manufactures; and
the world prospered with it. The Republic has all the food it needs and almost all the raw materials,
and must somehow dispose of an apparently boundless surplus of manufactures. The conundrum is
not now acute because a large proportion of these are in effect dumped in foreign countries in the
benevolent manner known as Marshall Aid. If other countries recover and build up their industries
again, their intake of American manufactures will decrease while American industry continues to
grow. At the end it would be thrown on its own market, which is great but could hardly keep pace
with such expansion. At that point the system of deficit-spending, to keep up prices and standards,
might logically lead to cars, refrigerators and television-sets being stored in caves and warehouses,
like grain and potatoes. Alternatively, the deficit-school of politics might declare another
‘emergency’, leading through the seizure of ‘emergency powers’ to ‘control’, impoverishment and the
loss of individual liberty.
Thus Mike Polopski, at present flush, wanders along an enshadowed road trodden by the British
working-man twenty years ahead of him. If his house is inferior to its gadgets, that is only because
he has never thought much about houses. If he wanted a better one he could today still have it, of
any kind he chose and could pay for. The stage at which that may be denied him, in the name of an
‘emergency’, lies farther down the road, about where the British working-man now is.
Cleveland was suffering from an outbreak of robbery with violence and sexual assault, the effect of
two current causes. The visible immunity of the great crime-rings has weakened public respect for
the law, so that unorganized, individual ill-doers now set out to break it in their own way; and that
is made easier for them because the love of mechanical things has led to the disappearance of the
neighbourhood cop (or policeman on his beat). Modern cities all felt that their policemen ought to
rush about in zone-cars with screaming sirens. Constabulary duty was mechanized and became a
thing of loud exhausts, corners taken on one wheel, and microphones (’Calling all cars, calling all
cars …’). This might be useful if the mobsters still fought each other in the streets, but today, for
higher efficiency in the organization, they kill each other privately and without fuss. Thus the
mechanized police have been left like an armoured division in guerrilla country, and the small local
criminal gladly watches them whizz by before he goes to work. The man he feared has gone; that
was the foot patrolman, who knew every honest citizen, bad character and doorway on his beat and
was near at hand when anything went wrong. The man in the zone-car has no such local knowledge
or eye for detail. Unorganized but violent crime has thus become a major problem of the day and
the people of Cleveland were thinking of self-help in the form of Vigilance Committees.
Having come so far, I could not return to New York without saying at least good day to Canada; I
followed the long lakeside road to Buffalo and crossed the frontier. It was as if the wind abruptly
fell. The nervous tension which fills even the empty spaces in the Republic is suddenly relaxed, on
the farther side of a river. This is an inexplicable thing, but palpable. The easier pace of life
communicates itself to the very air, even of woods and fields.
I ran for ten miles along a picturesque riverside, towards a distant, stationary cloud in the clear sky:
the spray from Niagara, suspended in air as eternally, I suppose, as the snow lies on high
mountains. It was good to break the long journey for a little while at Niagara, and to spend the time
planning the route for a future Canadian one. This was a long-cherished ambition, for I had good
Canadian friends in both the wars. I remembered one of them, Eric Read, spinning down to death
below me at Lens on Boxing Day of 1917 and, as I looked at Niagara, thought how little he and
others of his Canadian generation could have suspected the strange things that would happen in the
next thirty years. Their Canada, like the American Republic and the British island, was caught in
the web of the grand design and, with the rest of us, would not know the shape of the future until
Armageddon was complete. I went to Normandy in 1944 with Canadian troops and among
Canadian press correspondents, as among British and American ones, saw some of those new
figures of our time, men in khaki battledress who were not truly Canadians, or British or American,
but quickly-naturalized Communists from Eastern Europe, thus enabled to obtain all manner of
information. The Canadian spy affair of 1945-46 was but the partial exposure of something then
obvious to any trained eye.
The temptation to go on to Toronto was strong but for that moment had to be resisted. I recrossed
the frontier to Buffalo and began the long ride across New York State, breaking the journey only
for a few days at another small town, Le Roy, one of the new-New England Places. It had a little
white church which, like many others, was the loveliest I ever saw, pretty white houses in the
homes-section, green lawns and sidewalks, and trees that grew, in relation to the trees I grew up
with, as if each was the apostle Jesus loved. The delightful, pedimented and porticoed houses
closely rubbed porches and seemed to me to deserve more space between, but that, whether fault or
virtue, is universal in America and belongs to the general fear of uppityness and stuffed-shirtiness.
In comfortable, softly-lit interiors elderly men read newspapers or women played bridge; on stoops,
mothers and fathers rocked themselves; at the Firemen’s Fair the children ate ice-cream, or rode on
the roundabouts and the firemen, in clownish dress, made lusty music. It was all as jolly as could
be. On to this little white-and-green place red-and-gilt Main Street of the hot dogs and ham burgers
was abruptly stitched, a discordant levantine bazaar where a village green would be harmonious.
I went on from Le Roy and found New York State, lush and long-settled, a demi-paradise. Marks of
poverty are rare in this country of fine farmland, substantial homesteads and townships which grow
ever closer together. There were many lakes, not great inland seas like those which accompanied
me for many days, but little, blue, domestic ones, just big enough for fun in a small boat. The roads
are good all over the Republic, but here the double- and treble-tracked highways, with their
overpasses and underpasses and cleverly-contrived intersections, reach perfection. I turned
southward at Albany and was going hard for New York, resolved to resist any new temptations to
tarry, so that I might get there betimes, when I saw a sign, ‘To Catskill, by ferry’. Who could
withstand that? At once I turned aside.
I soon understood why that idle old Dutchman chose this countryside for his twenty-year sleep.
Here, on the edge of turmoil, was a mysterious, empty land of rolling, wooded hills, lonely and
slumbrous. A notice said, ‘Live on the Rip Van Winkle Ridge, lots for sale’, but few seemed to have
come there to live, unless they were asleep in the meadows. I came to a crossroads where the trail
vanished; no new fingerpost pointed to the Catskill Ferry and no human being stirred. I chose a
road at random and plunged ever deeper into country from which life seemed gone. Then I passed
an old, old man, and a little farther an old, old woman, both asleep under trees and both with
baskets of cherries for sale. To whom could they hope to sell cherries on this unfrequented road, or
had they perhaps been asleep for twenty years? It was an eerie place. At last I came to another
unsignposted crossroads where another old man sat beneath a tree. I called to him, ‘Which way to
the ferry?’
‘The ferry?’ he said after some instants, sleepily, ‘the ferry hasn’t bin working for two years’ (or did
he say twenty?). ‘But there’s a sign, way back, pointing to it,’ I said. ‘The ferry,’ he repeated
dreamily, ‘hasn’t bin working for twenty years’ (or perhaps he said two hundred). I felt as if I had
passed from the mortal world into some dreamland peopled only by male and female Van Winkles.
In America a sign that points to a long-vanished ferry is almost inconceivable; on the brink of New
York it is incredible. I looked at the old man and decided he had just awakened after twenty years. I
wondered if he found the world greatly changed, and decided he would not. Here in Rip Van
Winkleland it looked as if it might not have altered since time began. What did the other
differences amount to, anyway? Wheels turned faster, motor cars multiplied, the gadgets increased;
but the world was essentially the same, the grass and the oak grew, the Hudson River flowed, faith,
hope and charity contested eternally with envy, malice and hatred. Why, there must still be even a
road to New York!
I roused the old man (he was asleep again) and with shaking finger he pointed the way and closed
his eyes. I went off and once more, in the late evening, was carried by the conveyor-band into New
York. I had a journey behind me which, as I looked back, seemed like one round the earth, so
varied was the alteration of sun and snow, farmland and desert, plain and sea, mountain and prairie,
populousness and emptiness, tumult and quiet.
*** Chapter Forty-Two
HOT SPOT
I chose the hottest season on record to return to New York and but for arrears of reading and
writing, which I could overtake indoors, should have added a completely wasted fortnight to the
book of a life usually full, for I could not go out by day. I gained much respect for New Yorkers,
who must have some especial reserve of endurance to support life during their midsummer beat.
This steam-bath atmosphere puzzled me and I could only account for it by the structure of the city,
with its tall canyons and lack of trees. It lies on the latitude of Madrid, but nowhere else along that
line, or in Africa, have I met heat of this peculiar kind. Durban or Cape Town in January, when
their inhabitants believe themselves sorely tried, are by comparison airy and cool.
The New York winter, though also renowned, must be relatively a minor affliction; clothing can be
donned endlessly, but not so shed. The summer-tide heat adds one more element to the tensions of
New York, from which large masses of the population can only escape to the unimaginably
thronged beaches of Coney Island (where several millions of people gather on holidays!). The bus-
drivers, who have to take fares and give tickets while they manhandle heavy vehicles along
crowded streets, struggle with a loathing of their passengers, who have to suppress a seething
resentment of surly answers or sudden, jerking starts which they think intentional. The jealousies of
lovers, the quarrels of women, the rivalries of taxi-cabmen, the disputes of labourers flare into
sudden outbursts and the newspapers are full of violent assaults, all plainly born of the heat.
Everyone is a little mad, say the gossips, and they still add, as if this ancient commonplace were
novel and remedial, that it isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity.
I think my big toe alone saved me from prostration. Only repeated shower-baths gave relief; my
bathtub lacked a shower, and mere immersion in a tubful of tepid water refreshed not at all. I found
by experiment that by lying in the empty tub, turning on the cold water full jet and sticking my toe
up the tap I could produce a fair substitute for a shower. It was not easy for taps are not quite the
shape of big toes, which fill them at the sides but leave gaps fore and aft, so that the jets come
where the pressure is greatest, at the sides. This caused an excellent lateral shower, which drenched
the walls and floor but left me dry. However, with practice I was able to regulate that and to direct a
revivifying shower upon myself.
The only other relief was that given by a small swimming-bath beneath a club, of which I was
hospitably made a temporary guest, and when I learned of it I hastened there. It was a place of
cubicles, couches and well-muscled attendants in singlets and shorts, one of whom said, ‘Do you
want to take a swim, sir?’ Yes, I said. ‘That’s fine,’ he said, and pointed to a doorless cubicle
towards which I started when, in the manner of a parliamentary custodian relieving visitors of their
guns, he said, ‘You won’t need those, sir’, and took my swimming-trunks. Evidently an old New
York custom, I thought.
I felt September-mornish, but no doubt looked charming, when I came out of my cubicle. A pink
gentleman stood on a weighing-machine, the hand of which registered 210 lbs; he looked so
alarmed that I wanted to comfort him by telling him it might be fast. I sought the bath, keeping my
eyes before me, and thus found that I repeatedly encountered myself; the place seemed to be a hall
of mirrors, perhaps suitable for a gathering of goddesses. I never saw myself in the mass before and
was about to dive away from the spectacle when another voice said firmly, ‘The showers are in that
corner, sir’, and I had to make a long walk around the bath, accompanied by all my other selves, an
unnerving promenade which caused me to hurry into the first shower-cubicle and turn on the first
tap I saw, so that fierce jets of boiling water made me jump like a scalded cat. Then at last I
plunged in. The water was warm and highly chlorinated. After that I kept to my room and made do
with my big toe, only emerging at night to take the air along Riverside Drive or the Hudson
Parkway, where the Queen Elizabeth, all lit, poked her nose over into the town.
I made one exception, when I went by day to see the funeral of Mr. Cohen’s colleague, slain on the
Sunset Strip in Hollywood. I was cautious about this, recalling the mishap suffered by Mr.
Linklater’s Don Juan, the Limey who was the only man shot at a gangster funeral. I cased the job
(as the saying is, I believe) before I approached too close. However, the days of ten thousand dollar
caskets, five thousand dollars’ worth of flowers, and a dutiful procession of mayors, judges,
prosecutors, politicians and aldermen following the hearse, seem to have gone. This was a decorous
occasion, without display or gunfire. Numbers of citizens watched it noncommittally from
balconies, windows and street-corners. Among the mourners, for all I know, may have been many
stony-eyed hoodlums or gimlet-eyed gorillas. They certainly looked grim, but were resplendent in
clothes of the latest style and respectfully stood around the rabbis as the cortege formed and drove
away.
I had one other experience in New York which I shall ever remember because it seemed somehow
typical of that strange city. I went with a friend to his bank, where he presented a cheque, and the
cashier, with swift, next-please efficiency, paid him five hundred dollars too much; no mean sum.
He discovered this on the pavement outside, and said, ‘I’m going to buy my wife a large diamond.’
‘You wouldn’t do that!’ I said, awed. ‘You watch me, he said. ‘But think of the principle of the
thing,’ I said. ‘This is a matter of principle,’ he said, ‘I cannot bring myself to return money to a
bank, banks are the natural enemy of man.’ ‘But,’ I protested, ‘the widows and children …’ ‘A bank,’
he insisted, ‘has no widows or children, it’s just a great, big, beastly, soulless, grasping, impersonal
bank, stuffed with money; it’s morally wrong to give money back to a bank, it would be like
compounding a felony.’ He plainly felt strongly about the thing as he stood there in Wall Street,
gazing at the Little Church Around The Corner. ‘Think of that cashier,’ I said, ‘he’ll be fired and he
probably has two wives and twenty children.’ ‘He deserves to be fired,’ he said, and went in and
repaid the money. The cashier said casually, ‘Ah yes, I remember now, I miscounted the serial
numbers, thanks a lot.’
‘He didn’t seem much bothered,’ I said as we came away. ‘Of course not,’ he said, ‘five hundred
dollars wouldn’t have been noticed in that bank, it’s cigar money.’ ‘How times have changed,’ I said.
‘How so?’ he asked. ‘I was thinking of my own early days as a bank clerk in London,’ I said, ‘once
the half-yearly audit was held up dead by an errant penny. We juniors all longed to find that
mistake of one penny piece, somewhere in the books; it would have meant a good mark for the
young man who detected it.’ ‘Did you find it?’ he asked. ‘No,’ I said, ‘the Chief Cashier found it, he
was already about as high up as he could get.’ ‘Tough!’ he said.
I made ready to leave and went to Washington to say adieu to good friends there. Hitler’s yacht lay
in the river (its new owner was wondering why he bought it and what he should do with it). I
leaned on a railing, looked at it and let my mind run back along the years to 1933. Odd, I thought;
but for all that I might still be a newspaper correspondent in Berlin, it seems such worlds away. I
wondered if a secure and placid life would have been better than the years full of roaming and
danger, beneath a sky ever more uncertain. Well, for my part I was glad to have lived in this way
and at this time; at least the lot of my generation never contained a dull moment, and I accepted it
thankfully. I turned about, went to New York to collect two sacks of books and another crammed
with papers, and began the last leg of an American journey, back to the South and a ship.
*** Chapter Forty-Three
LAST LAP
I left New York a much more seasoned traveller than the awed and dazed one who was whirled into
it one spring morning months before. I now knew its measure and meaning, and its true place in the
great country I had explored. As to the remaining journey, I had picked up many tricks of the road,
of food and lodging, and no longer felt a learner, lost among knowing initiates. After I crossed the
Hudson River by bridge only two thousand road-miles and three large pieces of water (the
Delaware River, Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean) lay between me and relaxation; it was a
cinch.
I came southward through New Jersey and at pleasant New Castle crossed the Delaware (if the
famous family whose name it bears earlier brought that name with it from Normandy, in William’s
conquering army, it has indeed travelled far and wide). On the farther shore I was once more in the
land of American beginnings; placards announced ‘The Kent and Sussex Fair’ and the next town
ahead was Dover. My road by-passed Dover, but for old time’s sake I turned aside to pay homage to
its name and memory. In 1940 the other Dover was the chin of England, sturdily stuck out against a
threatening knockout blow. A good companion of mine was booked to sing there (a little-sought
engagement then) and in the blue car, with some last dregs of petrol, I drove her to Dover. We
should have had various permits, but in the heat of that day such things were still unorganized;
Dover liked us and let us in. That gay adventure among the shells, bombs and dog-fights returned
to me vividly now.
This Dover was a country place, a small town of the earlier Republic. Its earlier village green was
now a broad, verdant expanse surrounded by fine public buildings, schools and the like. The
modern American school-building is the apotheosis of the humble schoolhouse of old. Expense
appears not to count and good models are followed, so that even in tiny, remote places a great
edifice stands apart that looks like a small university for a thousand scholars. The actual content of
education in these places, however, is a matter of controversy often bitter among Americans.
Mr. Albert Jay Nock, a great authority, says the theory of education in America has been turned
upside down. Formerly it was that of teaching people how to live, and now it is that of training
them to do things. He traces the revolution to the visit of a Harvard president to Germany, where he
discovered and brought back the elective system of subjects. From that beginning it spread from
universities to colleges, secondary schools, primary schools and even (says Mr. Nock) to
Kindergaerten. The ruling idea was that everybody should go to school, college and university and
there study what he, not a pedagogic elite, thought best for him.
Subsidies and endowments were inexhaustible and thus the American educational system ‘took on
the aspect of a huge bargain-counter or modern drugstore’, whence begowned and behooded
graduates emerged carrying academicians’ diplomas for ‘business administration, retail shoe-
merchandising, bricklaying and the like’ (the mortuary heroine of Mr. Waugh’s tragedy of Anglo-
American manners graduated in ‘Beauticraft’, having briefly studied Art, Psychology and Chinese
as ancillary subjects). This revolution, Mr. Nock writes, ‘began with a drastic purge, a thorough
guillotining of the classical curriculum, wherever found; such Greek and Latin as escaped the
Reign of Terror was left to die of inanition in dens and caves of the earth’, that is, in the rare
schools or colleges which by some chance survived it.
Mr. Nock thought American education deteriorated greatly through this unheaval, and I heard
constant complaint about it. One of the currently fashionable polls was held in 1949 and announced
that the percentage of people who read books (for what that may be worth) is 21 in America, 33 in
Sweden, 35 in Australia, 40 in Canada, 43 in Norway and 55 in Britain. The survey stated that in
America 53 per cent of people continue schoolgoing beyond elementary school and in Britain only
13 per cent, but that the group of highest-educated Americans, nevertheless, was well below the
British average. Another matter which disquietens American parents is the permeation of State
education, through prescribed text books, by Communist doctrine. In New York State, in 1949, the
Regents’ examinations in all schools were based on a list of pamphlets, about half of which were
issued by Communist ‘front’ organizations. Thus, while the American school-house of today might
be the envy of teachers and scholars in less wealthy lands, what goes on inside it is a matter of
much concern to large masses of the population.
Dover was a pleasant place, and so was Salisbury, the next township. Though New York and
Philadelphia were not far behind, this Del-Mar-Va Peninsula (so-called because the State-lines of
Delaware, Maryland and Virginia all cut across it) already said, ‘This is the South’; it was once
plantation country and here the negro population began. I came to Cape Charles, ran the car into a
fat-bellied Chesapeake Bay ferrysteamer, and after an hour was set ashore near Cape Henry, where
those very first settlers of all landed on a shore as bleak as that which the Pilgrim Fathers named
Plymouth Rock in 1621.
A few miles later I ran into the happy, squalorous negro quarter of Norfolk, Virginia. When I first
reached America I did not much notice this contented slovenry of the coloured districts, probably
because I came from Africa and was familiar with it. Now that I had seen the rest of America,
where the white folk on the whole maintain their own standards of improving hygiene and
cleanliness, it caught my eye more. I saw that American negroes in the mass tend to live not very
differently from negroes in the white man’s cities of Africa.
The American negro has been a freeman for seventy years, votes in increasing numbers, can earn
sums which might make many palefaces paler with envy, and may aspire to a house. Those things
are beyond most natives in Johannesburg or Cape Town. Yet the American negro does not live on a
much higher scale; apparently his instinct is not to improve his abiding-place.
That might or might not come in time; the real puzzle is whether he wants the white man’s way of
life. He was prised away from a quite diverse one, where a man was warrior, hunter and idler,
under his Chief, and his wives did what fieldwork was necessary to support life. He believed in that
theory of existence, and any debating society might argue its merits. His tribe made war on other
tribes for women, cattle or land, but he did not know the notion of free men freely competing,
acquiring goods, improving their lot. Does he like it now that he has seen it, in America? That is all
uncertain, though it is the claim which white inciters make for him in their feuds with other white
men; he is a pawn in this game.
The spiritual family of Mrs. Beecher Stowe never consider what the negro wants. What he truly
yearns for, as far as I know him, is a separate life from the white man, even if the twain must live
side by side. If there is a ‘colour bar’ it is God’s, and he believes devoutly in it. While I was in
America a thing happened which is much to the point. Four schoolboys (from white New England,
inevitably) were sent ‘to see the South’ and find out the facts of ‘racial discrimination’; clearly they
were expected to return full of the usual virtuous indignation. They were primed at the start and
polished at the finish by leading foes of ‘racial discrimination’ in New York. In the South they
talked to as many negroes as they could find, particularly at a coloured university in Tennessee.
On their return to the furious, negroless North they reported ‘what constituted, perhaps, our greatest
surprise’, namely, ‘that the Southern Negroes did not always seem to desire the abolition of racial
segregation’ (this might indeed be a shock to anyone bred in the atmosphere of New England,
Manchester or Bloomsbury). They found this view prevalent among negro students at the Fisk
University. Their report produced an uproar of reproach from white expostulants, a Dean and
others. Eighty years after Uncle Tom’s Cabin it is still heresy to speak truth about the negro (and
has become so to say it about Political Zionism). My own observation in the American South was
that the negro’s lot there slowly but steadily improves (as in Africa) by white men’s standards, but I
remained as uncertain in America as in Africa whether that is the way the negro wants it to go. His
loud friends, the Liberals, Socialists and Communists, are his real enemies, for they would deny
him his true ambition: a separate being within the white man’s kraals. They wish to bring him to a
darker bourne, from which no fellow-traveller returns.
Norfolk was a rip-roaring dockyard town such as Plymouth or Portsmouth may earlier have been
(there is a Portsmouth here, too, which seems virtually part of Norfolk), and if not wide open, then
much more than ajar. The men, establishments and ships of the American Navy abounded; at sea
America seemed armed to the teeth, as England now, one gathers, to the dentures; however, its
barques might still bite and Devon outlast Bevan. I found a room next to one booked the moment
before by two jolly sailormen who sent up a bottle of whisky to occupy it while they went out. I
foresaw revelry by night next door. My window looked on the flat roof of an adjacent building and
when I glanced at it my expectations increased; it bore some hundreds of bottles, clearly tossed
overboard by earlier jolly sailormen in my hotel, who forgot they were not at sea.
Mysteriously, hardly one of these bottles was broken, though they clearly had travelled twenty or
thirty yards. I saw that I should not be awakened by the noise of breaking glass, and wondered if
some enterprising manufacturer could have produced an unbreakable sort for this especial purpose.
That cannot have been the explanation, however, for among the bottles lay many jugs, toothwater-
decanters and tumblers, the duplicates of those in my own room, which surely could not have been
made of fortified glass by even the most thoughtful hotel keeper. Resisting the temptation to try a
decanter or two, I gave up the puzzle. Perhaps we approach a time when the recognizable qualities
of glass will be that it is unbreakable, non-transparent and will cut diamonds? The trim little
shoregoing launch of the boat in Boston Harbour was made of glass, but looked like anything else.
With a curiosity stimulated by those bottles I went out to look at Main Street; Norfolk promised to
be lively. It was thronged with sailors in neat white suits, this Sunday evening. Nickelodeons, juke-
boxes and radios clamoured against each other from bars, restaurants, cafés, movie-theatres and
Pin-table rooms, all glittering and click-clacking. The sailors rolled in and out of them and of the
shops which sailors love, the windows of which were full of especially smart uniforms, badges,
medal-ribbons, trinkets, gifts and much more. Between them, equally bright and busy, were the
tattooists’ shops, which showed pictures of ladies tattooed in intimate places and men illustrated
from head to foot. There was one of a man with a tattooed face, like an African witch-doctor’s
mask. I wondered what sort of life he had. Not every woman would love that face on a pillow
beside her (though I suppose the odd one might, if she were odd enough). If he made a livelihood
by displaying this frightful face, in booths or circuses, how did he set about buying a meal or a
shirt? There are weak hearts in the world. I wondered (as Noel Coward might say) what happened
to him.
The tattooists prospered, this Sabbath eve. Their overheads are small; they only need a needle, ink
and bright shop-window and the sailorman, vaingloriously offering himself for patterning in it,
provides the free advertisement and custom-attracting display. These lads were well-developed and
clearly liked to show it. One was being tattooed by a woman, happily only on a bicep; a male artist
in the next window was busy on a thigh.
I slept well, being wakened but once by the crash of old-fashioned, breakable glass, and went my
way, pausing to seek out Old Saint Paul’s Church, the wall of which still contains an indignant
cannon-ball fired at the rebellious colonists by the last English governor, Lord Dunmore, from a
ship in the river. Having become used to the parallelograms of American cities I lost myself in
Norfolk, which is a pleasantly rambling place, and long drove round districts of naval homes,
attractive white ones embowered in masses of a pink-flowering shrub, welcome to the eye. At last I
emerged and went on from Norfolk to Suffolk, from Williamston to Windsor and a lesser
Washington. Now that I knew the populous central region where the farmland, the industry and the
newer immigration are concentrated, I realized how sparsely peopled the South is. These were
lonely roads; the wayside life of the car-and-tourist industry fell away and townships were far
between. The great farmhouses of the Middle West are unknown here, for their counterparts, the
plantation houses, are gone and the country is one of small farms and smallholders. The places
where crops grow look like forest-clearings and as you go along the clearings become fewer and
the forests greater.
Sometimes marsh and swamp mark the approach to tropic climes. Immensely long bridges go over
broad rivers swelling to the sea; the water looks oily and ancient and the trees and undergrowth
grow right down into it, a sure sign of jungle. The bridges are not the great, disdainful, stone-and-
metal structures of the newer parts but low, wooden ones with drawbridges in the middle for any
craft that might wish to pass, and they bear notices, ‘Don’t use when in operation’ (I thought that
any man who tried to cross an open drawbridge would hardly be in a condition to read the notice).
Here were great tracts of land, either never cleared by man or reverted to nature after the ruin of the
plantations, yet even there the lonely road bore the signs, ‘Encroachments are strictly prohibited’,
which are the American equivalent of ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’.
Suddenly, running down this deeply-indented coast, I came to Albemarle Sound and tiny, lovely,
astonishing Edenton in North Carolina. This is a lonely and formidable countryside now and the
reader’s eye, moving back, perhaps can picture what it was three hundred years ago. Yet here the
colonists settled and built as if they had six hundred years of island security behind them, the
English Channel and British Navy all around, and nothing to fear ahead. Here is a perfect Georgian
courthouse, facing the Sound across a broad greensward that runs between fine white mansions and
huge, spreading trees.
In the 1770s the ladies of Edenton held a famous tea-party in the Boston sense (though they did not
throw the tea in the sea but drank it). The time was come to show King George who was who, and
the Edenton ladies were violently belligerent. They were as warlike then as the ladies of New
England were later. In both cases, colonists against king, or North against South, the ladies’ cry was
‘Up boys and at ‘em’. The idea that men tear themselves from gentle, restraining arms when they
take up arms seems an ancient fallacy; often their womenfolk are as martial as themselves. For that
matter, in the most recent war women were nearer to the fighting than ever since Boadicea and
apparently will be in the thick of any next one. At the foot of Court House Green in Edenton now
the iron cannon still point sturdily across the Sound at ghostly British ships and around the
sculptured teapot on the greensward, perhaps, gather the shades of pretty ladies who may discuss
the unforeseen sequel to the war they knew.
I spent a few lazy days in Wilmington and felt again the lingering fragrance of the Old South, the
much-mocked one of magnolia and moonlight. From Wilmington Rhett Butler ran cargoes of
Southern cotton through- the Northern blockade to Liverpool, to earn a little money for the
impoverished South and more for himself; and to Wilmington he returned, through the blockade,
with things the South needed. Here a few old plantation houses still stand and the beards of the
Spanish Moss hang grey and sad from the live oaks around them; it is as if Don Quixote passed that
way, collided with a bough, and escaped with his head but left his beard, which then took root and
multiplied.
In the South such relics of the dead past impressed me less than living differences which endure.
They are intangible yet positive things which derive from the old days and the distinctive way of
life in the South then. The comparison first forced itself on me in Wilmington because by that time
I had seen the North, Middle West and West. I felt a gentler spirit; people were courteous and
unhurried and gave smile for smile; the noise and pace of traffic were less. Food was good and
pleasantly served; there I found the best and cheapest lodging I had in America. There was no
wide-openness. By ten o’clock nearly everything was closed and I doubt, but am not sure, if even an
all-night drugstore was open; evening was a quiet hour in Wilmington. The term ‘a civilized way of
life’, may convey too much or too little, but I believe most travellers from afar would concur that
the civilized way of life in America is now chiefly to be found in the South, which is speciously
presented to the outer world as the enemy of civilized ways.
The feeling of jungle increased as I went on to Charleston in South Carolina (it was easy to picture
alligators farther south, in the Floridan Everglades, a name graphically expressive of dark, swampy,
secretive, impenetrable, eternal haunts). The men, apparently anarchist in motive, who destroyed
the plantations without preparing something better to take their place, dealt an almost mortal blow
at this part of the Republic. Here the shack-and-share-cropper country began. Listless-looking
white folk, caught between their own and the dark man’s philosophy of life, hung about or rocked
themselves on the porches of dilapidated homesteads, and idle darkies lolled around the rare filling-
stations and stores (’Lazy-bones, lyin’ in the hay, you’ll never earn a dime that way, lyin’ in the new
mown hay’; the musical ride continued).
Charleston seemed half dead (because, I found, its people were fled to the beaches from the
overpowering heat). This welcome emptiness enabled me to find a good, cheap room at an hotel
where a fountain plashed in a green courtyard and to wander round the lovely streets at leisure.
They retain something of the charm and elegance of the Old South, which Manhattan derides, and
life in them is on the softer note which I previously met only in Wilmington, Salem and Salt Lake
City. Had the South won (which was never possible) Charleston would be a leading port, and city.
Instead it is small and quiet and Northerners call the elderly Southern ladies who seclude
themselves in it ‘Charleston freaks’. With Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg, it is a monument to the
war of brothers and the sadness of calamity is still in its air, for here the war began, when the
Southerners fired on Fort Sumter, occupied by Union troops.
Several old plantation houses survive round Charleston. Near one was a thicket of trees killed by
the hanging moss, so that only bare, rotting bones remained, with the pendant beards. The decay of
the roots had rotted the soil too, and slimy, stagnant, scum-covered water had gathered, so that the
bearded skeletons rose from a fetid, primeval swamp. I remembered the stone forests and spouting
vapours of the Yellowstone, with their constant hint of volcanic action, and the feeling of desert-
held-in-check that fills Southern California. Looking at these murdered trees, behung with the
assassin’s beards, and the green mire at their feet, I thought how quickly it might all revert to
creeping, steaming jungle if man lost his hold.
Between Charleston and Savannah, in Georgia, was more forest and share-cropper country, haunted
by the ghosts of tobacco- and cotton-crops once abundant. Broadway playgoers for seven years
thronged to see the human desolation of this countryside, depicted on the basest level of
degradation. I turned aside to see two places of the earliest settlement, Beaufort and Port Royal.
Beaufort was delightful and contained the usual house from which the Marquis de Lafayette
harangued the colonists about the evils of aristocratic rule. Port Royal, sleeping by a sound beneath
the multitudinous beards, was like world’s end. A railroad track ended at a wooden shed where a
forlorn porter sat and gazed into nothing; behind mosquito-netting on the porches of wooden
houses elderly people sat as if turned to stone. I seldom saw a place so remote from the pulsations
of life and to revive myself had my hair cut in Beaufort.
‘Good morning, sir,’ said the barber, ‘I’ve just been having a word with a friend who’s father just
died from a stroke; he’s better gone.’ From that beginning he talked of many things. He did not like
Beaufort at first, he said, thirty years ago, but his son was born there and so he stayed. ‘It was good
for him?’ I said. ‘Oh, he’s done well,’ he said, ‘I sent him to a military school.’ I never clearly
understood the function of those schools, the announcements of which, showing boys in uniform,
fill the advertisement pages of the better periodicals, so I encouraged him to expand. I gathered
they appeal chiefly to parents who distrust the State-education system. ‘Boys usually get sent to the
military academies to get disciplint,’ he said, ‘my boy, he wasn’t attending to anything but
foolishness while he was at school there so I sent him to the Wilston Military Academy to get
disciplint. They get disciplint there and they never lose it. The boys there always call you Sir when
they talk to you, the others never do. They put ‘em in the bullring if they don’t do what they’re told.
That means they have to keep walking round and round, for two or three hours sometimes. They’ll
do anything to keep out of the bullring. That gives ‘em disciplint. It cost me four or five hundred
dollars a year for him, with board, but it was worth it and if I’d another boy I’d send him there.’
I left him, a contented man who had found the answer to that mortal danger, social security, and
came soon to Savannah. It was a sudden surprise, as delightful as the rainbow you meet at sea,
without any rain to account for it, for it was the best-favoured and proportioned place I saw in
America, remarkable for having developed so much grace and charm in a very short time. The
colonists under General James Oglethorpe only landed here in 1733, to fortify the King’s other
colonies against the Spanish threat from the South; by 1865 the South was prostrate. Thus in 130
years a mellow little city grew, with all the lineaments of taste that its kind, in Europe, acquired
only in the course of centuries.
Like Washington, Savannah proves the curious proposition that a city laid out for defence gains a
long start towards civic beauty. Savannah shows, too, that the parallelogram-plan, of straight streets
intersecting straight streets, need not be ugly; all depends on the execution. General Oglethorpe and
a Colonel Bull worked to a good plan. Each settler was given a town lot, or plot, separated by broad
streets which at their intersections, however, widened into large squares, where stockades were
built so that they made a series of forts in which the townsfolk could quickly assemble and
command all approaches from successive vantage points. The result today is that at every corner a
vista opens of wide, shady streets leading into shady, open places, from which other leafy streets
lead again into other leafy squares. This pleasant setting produced buildings equally delightful. The
churches follow Wren, and many houses are of English Georgian style, designed by architects who
crossed the Atlantic for the purpose; among them was William Jay, whose native taste, acquired in
Bath, has left several fine legacies.
The successive squares of Bull Street relate the paradoxical story of the Republic in their
monuments. First comes the statue of the King’s governor himself, Oglethorpe. Then follow the
memorials to the colonists who threw off the kingly yoke and the proletarians who helped; the
Marquis de Lafayette, the Comte d’Estaing, the Polish Count Pulaski (the German Baron von
Steuben’s statue is somewhere else). The last one is to the liberated republicans who then fought
each other; Bull Street tells in stone the tale of history’s little jokes.
As I went farther south the heat became a daily torment. These temperatures are something for a
white man to reckon with, and I wondered about his life in Florida as I entered its gates (other
State-lines have mere notice-boards, but the State of Flowers, characteristically has Gates).
Florida awaited the traveller with the beaming ‘front’ of a real–estate man. An especially trim and
shining stretch of road, with a manicured look, ran between ‘Welcome to Florida’ signs, through
The Gates and past a palatial Information Pavilion (’We are here to help you; nothing to sell’) which
was padlocked and empty. The outstretched glad hand took the apt shape of an avenue of extended
palms. At Chesapeake Bay, far behind, roadside notices told me I was going ‘From Pines to Palms’,
that is, leaving the chilly North for the exotic South, but I saw no abundance of palms thereafter.
Now Florida resolutely made good this boosters’ boast. The palms looked wistful, as if they knew
their place but did not really want to be there, and where they ended great pinewoods began and
accompanied me for two days; not even in Pomerania have I seen pines in such profusion. The soil
of Northern Florida is poor and sandy and pines, almost alone among growing things, like that kind
of earth. However, the booster can do no wrong and ‘From Pines to Palms’ was the alluring slogan.
Where the brief display of palms ended human beings awaited me and thrust into the car handfuls
of leaflets offering me suites in the finest hotels, all down the coast, at prices so low that I would
have liked to settle there, until I remembered that this was the off-season (people like to go to
Florida in winter).
I came to Jacksonville, a bustling, sweltering little New York packed with people, noise, traffic and
merchandise beneath the blazing sun. Florida, the southernmost State, is not truly of The South. It
was never really colonized by the English or Spanish, though Spanish forts, here and there
implanted in it, marked the northernmost reach of the Spanish conquest. Rather as a territorial
claim than an actual possession, it was bandied between England and Spain during the century of
the American War of Independence and passed to the rising Republic in 1821, but it remained
empty and played no great part in the Civil War. Its development and inhabitation began with this
century and the boosters. During the 1920s the real-estate men proclaimed it an earthly paradise,
and fantastic cities, like Miami, grew on the edge of primeval swamps through which fine roads
were driven. Like Southern California, Florida is very much a colony of New York. The spirit of
Manhattan jumped over the distasteful Old South, with its courtly tradition, and landed in these
sub-tropical parts. In Floridan cities life reassumes the tone of New York and Chicago; muted
motor-horns and after-you drivers give way to the pressing throng and the loud, imperative toot.
Miami is a stronghold of the organized gambling-ring, with its associated trades. Life in Florida has
a forced, transplanted air, as in Southern California; again the traveller wonders, how enduring and
deep are these roots?
Jacksonville, glitteringly new, was in sharp contrast with Saint Augustine not far away, the first
white man’s town ever founded in what is now the United States. The Spaniards built a fort there in
1565, forty years before the English colonists set up Jamestown, and this fort remains, a thing of
age, strength and beauty (preserved in it is a letter written to George Washington by his friend
Chris Gadsden, who was held prisoner there by the British during the War of Independence; he
wrote: ‘All of them behaved with decency to me and I have not had the least insult offered to me.’
The chivalry of war two hundred years ago shames the barbaric vengeances of today).
This fort and a shrine near to it are the earliest monuments the Republic has, and possibly
significant, because the acknowledgment of God remains tangible in the air, and is absent from
more recent encampments. The first colonists, English, French or Spanish, all came with faith in
their hearts. The Spaniards here, when they first anchored off a shore then savage, waited for the
Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin to go ashore and begin their work, and called the fort they then
made the Citadel of Saint Mark. They named the town that was to be built for the saint whose feast-
day was nearest, Saint Augustine. The chaplain of their fleet at once founded the first Mission (the
Name of God Mission) and on its site the little shrine of Our Lady of Milk and Happy Delivery
stands today. In the mirage-like scene of Florida these two places, the formidable fort and the tiny
shrine, equally give out an effluence of enduring strength and peace.
By way of another American contrast, Saint Augustine has a curious museum of ephemera,
apparently brought together by someone who collected other men’s collections of odds and ends;
matchboxes, souvenir buttons (’Good old Dewey’ or ‘Vote for Franklyn D. Roosevelt’), the heraldic
spoons beloved of holidaymakers (’A Gift from Gopher Prairie’), glass pickle-jars, old watches,
tintypes, dance-programmes, alabaster busts of last-century ladies and the like. The disposal of such
a miscellany, once amassed, must be a major problem, unless you buy land for a great bonfire or
charter a ship to sink it at sea. By some means, this one found its way to Saint Augustine, of all
places!
However, it included a pleasing thing, a painting of one Pero, cast into prison by the Spaniards
when they conquered the Netherlands, centuries ago. He was starved into making confession of
heresy, but was allowed the visits of his daughter who, being with milk, was the means of his
happy delivery. The picture shows him receiving that life-giving nourishment. The Spaniards
thought his continued health and rosiness a sign that God was in him, as may have been the case
indeed, and set him free. The legend was then new to me but since that day, in the manner of these
things, I have come across it in various other forms; de Maupassant uses it in his own fashion.
I turned eastwards across Florida, towards the Mexican Gulf, and passed through enormous pine
forests (I read in the newspapers, without surprise, that forestry officers from all over America
came to Florida to study, not the palm, but pineology). I lazed awhile by a slow, sleepy, brown
stream called the Swanee River. Its dreamy, unhurried movement is more in tune with the negro’s
soul, as far as I can judge it, than the dizzy rush of Main Street is. A white man wrote the song, but
it seems to catch the dark man’s philosophy. Then I took refuge from the heat for a day at a cool,
shady and friendly little place called Madison, went on and came out at last on the Gulf Coast at
Panama City.
All was arranged (unless the programme is constant) for me to observe the extremes of human and
natural activity in America, and at this moment a hurricane was prowling about the Gulf Coast. It
was a rogue-hurricane, or as Americans expressively say, ‘a bad actor hurricane’, on the exits and
entrances of which the stage-manager (or weather-forecaster) cannot count. It blew where it listed
and none knew, though all wondered, where it might pop up next. In Saint Augustine, two days
before, I thought the bad actor was about to do his turn, for black clouds suddenly gathered out of
the blue and blazing sky, the trees on the bar at the mouth of the bay became agitated, as if they
wrang anxious hands, and I heard the distant soughing of a big wind; but it passed.
I sneakingly hoped to meet the hurricane, because I read that the great hurricanes of 1926 and 1927
brought sudden tumblings of the barometer to 27 or 28 degrees. I did not know just what the
temperature now was, but it felt like 127, and I would have settled without haggling for 30 or even
35. When I left Madison the morning was much cooler, as if the bad actor were not far away. There
were sudden gusts and the beginnings of rotary movements in the clouds; it was as if a rabid dog,
tied by a fraying rope, yelped and strained to break loose. I made some speed through the
remaining pine sterns, which hurricanes use like matchsticks, and gladly emerged on the open Gulf
coast. About here, the morning papers said, the hurricane might strike during the day, unless it were
an even worse actor than any supposed. Safe now from pulverization by tree-trunks, and not caring
much about burial by sand in my hopes of icy blasts, I went happily along the unsheltered coastal
road, now melting in the heat again.
I came to a lovely place where sands purely white and firm stretched, unpeopled, as far as I could
see. The sky held a kind of frown, not enough wholly to obscure the sun, and the water lay still and
unbreathing, like a great cat about to pounce, lapping the sands without creamy edge or murmur. It
was of a strange, luminous pale-green inshore, of a leaden grey a little way out, and of an
irridescent, butterfly-wing-like blue beyond, where a little sun filtered through the frown. I could
not resist it; only once, at Lake Erie, had I used those swimming-trunks; two or three miles ahead
dunes rose beside the road and if the bad actor appeared I might quickly reach that cover, for what
it was worth. I drove off the road on to the firm-looking sands; promptly the wheels sank to the
axles.
I thought I would not after all welcome a hurricane. In the far distance I saw something fluttering
from a lonely mast and remembered newspaper allusions to hurricane-signals. The sky’s frown
contained a hint of rotation and sudden gusts came. I noticed, without gladness, that it was much
cooler. I wondered if I would be better inside a car bowling along like tumbleweed or lying flat on
the ground, or trying to. I scooped out sand from under the wheels and scrabbled about for pieces of
jetsam. I found nothing bigger than kindling, but forced bunches of this under the wheels which,
when I started, ground them to powder and into the sand.
Then my guardian angel appeared, who wears skins of different hues but never failed me yet. A car
came at speed along the empty road. I did not try to stop it; drivers are reluctant to stop in America,
and I thought I could not fairly ask this one to delay, as he might dislike hurricanes. However, he
stopped unasked and was a young man of strength and ingenuity. Like beachcombers we ranged
those sandy plains for tindery twigs and twiglets, jammed them all round the wheels, and he rocked
the car forward, backward and sideways while I accelerated and the smell of scorching rubber rose
and at last one wheel was on the road and then another, and with a final, convulsive, screeching and
malodorous heave the rear ones followed and I was free. May blessings attend him ever.
The devil was in, the devil a saint would be. I drove fast; more speed, less hurricane, I thought; but
a few miles beyond the hurricane-signal I came to a silver strand lonelier and lovelier yet, and fell
into error again. Thinking sand the only peril, I carefully pulled well into the side of the hard road
by a high dune, and undressed in the car. Then I found I had left my trunks where I stuck before. I
looked around. For miles either way road, sands and sea lay empty, as before life’s creation. I
jumped out, ran round the high dune and to the water. It was the most glorious bathe of my life.
However, the sky grew uneasier, so I came out, ran tightly up the sands and round the dune to the
car; parked behind it was another in which two elderly ladies ate sandwiches.
Like Lord Tom Noddy, I felt that nought was to be said, but, unlike him, that something must be
done, and quickly. I leaped like a gazelle at one bound into the driving seat and on to the
accelerator and pulled up, still breathless, about three miles away to get into shirt, trousers and
shoes. A good actor would have handled the episode with more aplomb, perhaps. Cured now of all
interest in hurricanes I went on and came at nightfall to my starting-point, Mobile, an innocent in
America returning as a fairly seasoned explorer. Little time remained; I continued through
Mississippi to New Orleans in Louisiana and to my homeward ship.
*** Chapter Forty-Four
WAITIN’ ON THE LEVEE
The vessel, however, was late and I thus gained welcome days in New Orleans, where Old Man
River runs broad-mouthed and many-tongued into the Gulf after his long journey between banks
which have seen more startling changes in a century than most rivers know in five hundred years or
more. The countryside far around New Orleans is estuary and the city’s soil is so permeable that the
cemeteries stand above ground and the dead are put in storied vaults built on it. Given this marshy
character and the temperature of those latitudes at the season when I was there, the moist heat of
New Orleans was a new chapter in a book I thought to have read to the end.
The contrast between the beginnings and the continuation of the Republic is sharply shown on
either side of Canal Street, a thoroughfare (so broad that four parallel street-car tracks are hardly
noticed in the middle) which runs through the city to the curving Mississippi like an arrow to a
stretched bow. On one side is old New Orleans, the square mile called the Vieux Carré, and on the
other new New Orleans, the American city. The Vieux Carré was first French, then for a space
Spanish, then briefly French again, a colonial city of Imperial France and Imperial Spain. Its
physiognomy is Spanish because the older French town was burned down; its nature is
predominantly French. In 1803 Napoleon held title to the million square miles then known as
Louisiana, and President Jefferson said that if Napoleon took actual possession of it ‘we must marry
ourselves to the British fleet and nation’. Napoleon averted that by selling Louisiana for fifteen
million dollars. The New Orleans French liked this new bequeathment no more than their earlier
abandonment to the King of Spain and, entrenched in the Vieux Carré’, indignantly watched the
‘foreign invaders’ arrive and encamp across the moat where Canal Street now runs. They refused
social mingling and the street urchins followed the newcomers about, crying:
‘Méricain coquin,
‘billé en nanquin,
voleur di pain …
The urgent American spirit soon marched over all that and racial outlines have been obliterated, or
new ones superimposed, in New Orleans now. Italians are most numerous among the population;
next come the Germans and then the French. The Negro and mixed-breed element is large. The city
is now more kin of New York than of the Old South, save in some of its residential parts. It is a
citadel of the gaming-syndicate and is wide-open; drinking is hard and dubious entertainments are
prolific. New Orleans, too, produces a good deal of the drama and literature of depravity which mar
the American scene at this passing moment. Even hard-bitten New York reviewers sometimes
recoil from these emanations ‘righteously indignant in one breath and droolingly prurient in the
next, like the notes of a small-town peeper on the broom closet of hell’.
The new way of life has flowed over old town and new alike, but the Vieux Carré in its physical
shape remains the monument of a different one. Its narrow streets are blocked with tourist-buses
and loud with the cries of guides, but on either side are graceful houses with balconies and galleries
of delicately-wrought ironwork and open doorways which reveal pleasant inner courtyards, with
trees and flowers, where family privacy once ruled; the change in note and tempo is that between a
bebop band and a spinet. Here people lived who went at nights to the opera, theatre or ball, things
which Hollywood denies to the mass of Americans today. They lived so when the country was a
wilderness of beast and forest; now that the wilderness has been tamed the graceful way of urbane
life has been almost lost; it is as if the wild took revenge on the city.
The people who lived in this pleasant place, built round a cathedral, called themselves Creoles, thus
claiming to be of pure white blood, chiefly French and partly Spanish, and hoped to found a new
nation. The first shipload of Frenchwomen brought to the lonely bachelors of New Orleans seems
to have carried ladies who, though white, were more readily wedded then than they were later
included in family-trees, but the next one contained girls escorted by Ursuline nuns whose blood
later Creoles gladly claimed. Even so, however, bachelors far outnumbered marriageable girls and
this disproportion produced a new, brief-lived race, the famed Quadroons of New Orleans.
The Quadroons must obviously have been of both sexes, but survive in history only as lovely
females (the offspring of half-breed women and white men). All travellers of that day, including
Harriet Martineau, agree about the great beauty of the Quadroons; a puzzling thing because, in my
observation of today, the mere mingling of colour by no means infallibly produces beauty.
Anyway, the young Creole gentlemen traditionally chose a mate at one of the Quadroon Balls and
installed her in a tiny house on the Ramparts until he should marry. Her ambition was to be so
selected, and her dream, to be wed. That seldom happened, but she was cared for while the alliance
lasted and when it ended retained the little house; she preferred this lot to marriage with a
Quadroon. The Creole ladies detested the Quadroon girls.
Of all that, remains only the Quadroon Ballroom, now the home of an order of negro nuns. Above
the stairway where the Creole gallants and the Quadroon beauties went to chose and be chosen, and
the foreign visitors to marvel, is the inscription, ‘I have chosen rather to be an abject in the house of
the Lord than to dwell in the temple with the sinners’. New Orleans must have Quadroons still, for
it has folk of every imaginable hue and countenance, but as a delineated group the Quadroons have
vanished, and so have the Creoles. The girl who sells you a tie or handles your telegram may be a
Creole or may not. The American way of life has dispersed them or impressed them into the mass
and they may only be studied still in such books as Mr. George W. Cable’s Old Creole Days, where
‘Tite Poulette, Jean-ah Poquelin and Madame Delphine live shadow-like again while they wait for
destiny to absorb them.
The Vieux Carré remains a pleasant place at a quiet hour and it shows how drastically the trappings
of life there have changed in a short time. I liked an inscription on a marble slab in the cathedral
which, like a troubadour out of his century, lyrically commemorates ‘Don Andres Almonaster y
Roxas, native of Mayrena in the Kingdom of Andalusia, Chevalier of the Royal and Distinguished
Spanish Order of Charles III, Royal Regidor and Alferez of the Cabildo …’, and much more. (It
reminded me of a noble Spaniard once portrayed by Charles Hawtrey, who at each new
introduction recited all his grandeeships and ever ended with, ‘I ‘ave ze right to wear my ‘at in ze
presence of ze King – but as ‘e is not ‘ere I take it off!’)
The Place d’Armes (now called Jackson Square, a topical and typical renaming) by contrast
contains the rusty remnant of what must surely be the first submarine (unless another, recovered
from the Yellowstone Lake, was earlier; I never could learn by what fantastic means it came there).
No man who has seen this one will ever marvel again at the midget submarines of today. It was
built to contain two men who propelled it just beneath the surface by turning a handle; if they
wished to reverse they turned the handle the other way. It carried a spear with a detachable point, to
which a time-fused explosive float was attached. The theory of its use was to run the spear into the
side of a wooden ship and then withdraw, leaving the spearhead in the hull and the charge near
enough to blow a hole in it. I believe the Civil War ended before this Southern craft could be tested.
Lost or curious communities abound in the New Orleans countryside. There are backwoods
communities of Holy Rollers, Sabines said to have come first as sailors from the Barbary Coast,
Walloons whose ancestors served in Napoleon’s armies and emigrated to America after his fall, and
Acadians. The ‘Cajuns (the name has been shortened, like soldier to sojer) are as mysterious as any.
Their legends give them Armenian origins; they are supposed to have been a dispersed Christian
sect which wandered over Europe, settled in Normandy in the Middle Ages, and migrated about
1750 to Nova Scotia. Their expulsion from there by the British and their flight to New Orleans is
the theme of Longfellow’s poem, ‘Evangeline’.
Voodooism, with its attendant spells, charms, evil-eyeing and smelling-out, survives among the
negroes, who brought it from Africa. In Durban once I knew a woman who could not keep native
servants and found they fled from some chalk marks which her little boy had scribbled on the door
of their quarters; they thought themselves ‘tigati’d’. This same thing continues in darker corners of
New Orleans today. The countryside around is that of the bayous, well suited to superstitions. It is a
mysterious, secretive region, half land and half water, where countless creeks, rivulets and streams
wander tortuously through swamp and marsh, and a smuggler or slave-runner who knew his
business could paddle his boat to New Orleans and back by a hundred different ways. Today great
motor-roads run through it to the lair of the famous pirate Jean Lafitte, at Grand Isle.
Something strange and fierce still invests the Louisiana air. Here arose a politico named Huey Long
who in the 1930s bade fair to out-Roosevelt Roosevelt in his promises of milk-and-honey. He
gained a great following and did not vainly boast when, soon after President Roosevelt’s election,
he wrote a remarkable book called My First Days in the White House, the text and illustrations of
which showed Mr. Roosevelt as his subordinate. He might well have reached that house; his ‘Share
Our Wealth’ programme titillated mass-nostrils even more than the Roosevelt ‘New Deal’ and he
held out such Socialist-Communist promises as Full Employment, the Redistribution of Wealth and
Social Security. However, M’Bongo was in the other camp, and Mr. Long was an embarrassing
rival. He was shot (presumably by ‘a madman’) in the midst of his bodyguards.
I thought I had organized my journey very well when I reached its end, New Orleans, hale and
hearty. I knew I had gone too far and too fast, slept and rested too little in great heat, and neglected
meals; I had to, having so much to do in a short time. I counted on the sea-trip to make good
anything that needed restoration and thought I had calculated the matter to a fraction. I was wrong,
for Nemesis beat me at the post. A few days before I was to sail the old malarial affliction smote
me, and brought dysentery with it. I was not very well housed, having reached New Orleans at the
same time as a convention of some befezzed organization, so that rooms were hard to get.
However, I had a bed and took my fever into it, hoping I should be able to struggle to the ship later.
Whatever else I might waste, I thought, I would not waste time. Sweating and almost
disembowelled, I propped myself against pillows and began in quavering notes to sum up what I
had seen and learned in America….
*** PART TWO BEHIND THE SCENE Chapter One
THREE SERVITUDES
My experience is that a man may have many countries and one that he loves: his own. I found
much to respect and admire everywhere I have been: the diligence, thrift and virility of Germans,
the poetry and patriotism of Poles, the taste and urbanity of Frenchmen, the charm and friendliness
of Austrians, the happy energy of Belgians, the dour industriousness of Hollanders, the mellow
peasant culture of Croats and Slovaks, the indomitable nationhood of Serbs and Bulgars, the
brilliant valour of Greeks. I felt all these things as part of a common Christian inheritance in which
I equally shared. Cracow Cathedral, the Cologne Dom, Saint Stephen’s at Vienna and Saint Peter’s
at Rome all meant as much to me as Saint Paul’s and Canterbury, and they meant the same thing,
like the Saxon and Norman citadels of England, Carcassonne and Avignon, and the Baltic castles of
the Teutonic knights. Europe’s many wars did not alter that; out of the quarrels of kings, popes and
barons emerged ever a clear purpose and an improving way of life, commonly Christian. The
century of Armageddon, I believe, is to show whether all that is to be destroyed, and the American
Republic might have the greatest part in deciding the issue.
In America, again, I felt this underlying kinship of Christian purpose, but overlain now by much
confusion. Its huge strength and energy are as admirable as the good nature of the masses of its
people, once reached, and the beauty (and especially in the South, the charm) of its women.
Americans are filled with an urgent longing to fulfil the American Dream and a deep perplexity
about its shape. A great quantity of idealism, faith, hope and charity is stored up in a younger
generation, particularly, which feels spiritually lost and is the easy prey of misleaders. The great
question, which may decide the outcome of Armageddon, is whether this stored energy will be put
to continuing the 2000-year process, the splendid results of which are clear to see in Europe, or to
destroying it, and therewith the American Republic too. The sharp visible contrast between the
earlier Republic of Richmond, Washington and Boston and the later one of New York, Chicago and
Los Angeles shows that the decision may be balanced on a razor edge.
In America a period of spiritual pessimism has followed on the century of optimism. This is not
disproved by monetary wealth or the wearing of buttons with the words, ‘I am proud to be an
American’. It is not a native thing either, though the tendency towards violent emotional
oscillations, which wise leadership could arrest, partly derives from the experience of the frontier
period when ‘mind and emotion became ingrowing and nature took its revenge in the form of
occasional outbursts of violent excitement’; the Epic, speaking of a hundred years ago, says: ‘The
Camp Meeting is a key to much that we shall find even in present-day life, in a nation even yet
emotionally starving.’ This emotional unfulfilment, a product of the excessive concentration on
material things, leaves a mass of unused spiritual energy drifting about in the Republic, like loose
ballast in a ship. If the ballast can be moved to one side, the ship will list and possibly founder; for
twenty years, at least, an organized effort has been made to achieve that effect. Two hundred and
fifty years ago William Penn said, ‘Either nations will be governed by God or they will be ruled by
tyrants.’ The Republic has been brought to the brink of that choice by the stealthy indoctrination of
the unstable body of pent-up emotionalism with the teaching that it must destroy Christian
nationhood and set up a pagan world tyranny, obliterating nations.
Thus the Manifest Destiny of 1850 has changed to a destiny non-manifest in 1950. A hundred years
ago the course seemed clear; westward the course of empire took its way. When the western limit
was reached the vernacular question posed itself, ‘Where do we go from here?’ For some time past
America has produced no William Penns to restate eternal truths. The leaderless mass stands
irresolute, not yet quite a firmly welded nation, while many voices cry that America’s manifest
destiny now is to destroy all nations and Christianity with them; the thing is more subtly said but
that is the purpose.
Hatreds, passions and prejudices are to some extent innate in man and may be reduced by wise
leadership or inflamed by bad. As I have gone along I have seen that they are incited, in all
countries, by organized forces from outside for the purpose of setting up the World State on the
ruins of Christian nations. That key once found, the dark origins of our twentieth-century wars and
the strange doublings their courses took are alike plain to understand. The parent organization goes
back at least to the French Revolution; all European and American wars since then seem to some
extent to have been deflected by it; the second war of this century clearly was brought almost
completely under its control and so directed that its outcome left but one more stage of the grand
design to be completed.
This is ‘the deception of nations’ mentioned in Revelation as an integral part of the process of
Armageddon, if Biblical prophecy be true at all. The deception of the American nation was very
great, despite the outer panoply of free nationhood which it retained for the nonce at the war’s end.
It was promised four freedoms, but in truth was surrendered to three servitudes.
The first of these is the now visible supremacy in its affairs of a new, foreign ambition: Political
Zionism. No American politician of rank today dares challenge it, and this submission has
apparently been brought about by what the founder of Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, called ‘the
awful power of our purse’.
The second servitude is the permeation of American public life at all levels by a second foreign
ambition, Soviet Communism. This is the other prong of the pincers described by Herzl: ‘When we
sink we become a revolutionary proletariat.’ The edifice of State is weakened at the top by the
power of the purse and at the middle by the infiltration of revolutionaries. This second process
began in full force with the inauguration of President Roosevelt nearly twenty years ago.
Demonstrably it led to the warping of major courses of State policy and has not yet been stopped,
merely a little impeded. These two foreign ambitions, ostensibly separate but born in the same
place, appear to meet in the central ambition of a World State, dominated by them. Plainly they
intend, if they can, to bend the strength of America to that end.
The third servitude, which helps the other two by corrupting political life at its foundations, as
distinct from the higher citadels and departmental levels of power, is organized crime. The grasp of
these three forces on the body politic and civic of the Republic, and their influence over the
leaderless mass of spiritually starved opinion, are great enough to make America’s destiny doubtful,
no longer manifest, today.
This three-coiled captivity is not merely an American plight. It occurs in all the remaining nations
of the Christian West and caused the ruin of those now submerged. It is greatest in America
because, by all evidential signs, the emigration from Eastern Europe was mainly and deliberately
directed thither, for the purposes of power. In England the visible, though unadvertised, power of
Political Zionism is as great; no leading politician of any party (with one possible exception) now
resists it. The deflection of major acts of State policy has been clear to see since the Balfour
Declaration. Permeation of public life by Soviet Communism is considerable and official resistance
to exposure as constant as in America. Organized crime, in the gaming, liquor and prostitution
sense, is much less, though Eastern European figures often appear in the occasional revelations of
attempted political corruption.
Essentially, the mass of Americans and of British are in the same boat now. I never in either
country found any mass of people, outside the immigrant sections involved and those natives whom
they suborn, who wanted American or British nationhood destroyed, or even merged. The broad
legions of people wanted to retain their own national identity under the government of God, not to
disappear serf-like into a shapeless mass under an Asiatic supremacy. The question whether either
nation will be able to keep its individuality, now that the occult servitudes are so strong, is the one
which the rest of this century of Armageddon will answer. The course and outcome of the Second
War were portents as ominous as they could be for the result of any third one. Nevertheless, I found
in both countries that widening masses of opinion were becoming alert to the shape and purpose of
the grand design, and as to the final upshot, Saint Mark has a word for it: ‘And ye shall hear of wars
and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass but the end
is not yet.’
Clearly the revolution of destruction will go on awhile, like a dancing dervish pirouetting towards
his foaming collapse. After seeing America I felt sure that every effort would be made to use
American and British strength a third time to complete the ruin of the Christian area, and even to
set these peoples against each other if the purpose could be better served that way. I felt equally
sure that the grand design would fail at the last and that the end of the Christian two thousand years
is not yet.
*** Chapter Two
ZIONISM PARAMOUNT
The three forces which weaken the whole structure of American public life in effect serve the
strongest among themselves, Political Zionism, which stands behind the seats of the mighty while
the others work in lesser places, if to similar ends of power-over-politicians. The proof of this
supremacy is to be found by a simple test: the extent to which public discussion is permitted.
It is entirely free in the matter of organized crime. No day passes but this is publicly debated
somewhere in the Republic, in the tone that it is loathsome but normal, and not to be put down.
Huey Long once said he could buy politicians ‘like sacks of potatoes’ and the daily talk in America
is always full of such allusions to purchaseable men. The great argument, however, overlooks
possible effects on national policy and treats the matter merely as one of local ‘wide-openness’ and
parochial effects; possibly for that reason it is so free. That wireworm at the roots may imperil the
whole plant is an aspect ignored.
The case of Communist permeation at the middle level is different. Public discussion is nominally
free, so much so that the outer world receives an impression of ‘a witch hunt’ in constant progress.
In truth public anxiety to know what goes on is combated, and powerful opposition is offered, from
the highest places down, to the general demand for knowledge and action. The chorus of ‘hysteria’,
‘Red-baiting’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ reaches a higher crescendo each time some startling disclosure is
achieved by persistent investigators. The great bulk of Americans have in fact been thwarted for
seventeen years in their wish to have the stables cleansed (this is the case in England, too).
At the topmost level, a virtual ban on public discussion of Political Zionism proves the
paramountcy of its sway in American affairs. As in England, the open expression of doubt about
this territorial ambition, and support for it, has been almost driven underground in recent years. An
imperial thrall has been laid on America in this matter. Traditional Americans, whose forebears
detested laws of lese-majesty and the genuflections of courts, now find their leaders performing an
even humbler obeisance in this direction; like foremost politicians in England, they thus emulate
those Rumanian nobles who long bowed to the Sultan’s rule, vainly hoping to keep rank and
possessions. The Soviet ban on ‘anti-Semitism’ (which was in effect a veto on public discussion of
the origins of Communism) has in practice been extended to the British island and the American
Republic in the matter of Political Zionism. It is lese-majesty in a new form and because of it
present-day Americans and Englishmen do not as a rule see the grave future courses and penalties
to which support of Political Zionism has committed them.
The way in which this overlordship has been imposed on the Christian West is wonderful and
fascinating to study. It has all been done so quickly and with such sure skill (and if it is evil, as I
think, may be to the good in the end, for the catfish in the tank reinvigorates other fish grown lazy).
Political Zionism and Soviet Communism both grew up side by side in the Jewish areas of Czarist
Russia, within Jewish families living beneath the same rooftree. The golden age was then dawning
for Jews everywhere. When Napoleon convened their Grand Sanhedrin in Paris in 1807 the Rabbis
declared that Israel existed only as a religion and aspired to no national resurrection. All over the
world even Orthodox Jews, clamant for civic equalities, strenuously denied that Israel was a nation
within the nations; Reform Judaism echoed this avowal. In England Jewry vowed that if England
should emancipate the Jew it would fill his heart with consciousness of country; he would think,
feel, fear and hope as an Englishman. America was opening to Jews and the same pledge was made
on their behalf there.
It was true, too. Jews in those countries did lose much of the sense of being different which
accompanied them, like a curse, down the centuries and caused them (not the Gentiles) to build
ghettoes for themselves. They became good and happy Germans, Englishmen, Frenchmen,
Americans. They seemed to confound those opponents of the Jewish Disability Bill in the English
Parliament who argued that the Jews looked forward to the coming of a great deliverer, to their
return to Palestine, to the rebuilding of their temple, to the revival of their ancient faith in its tribal
form, and therefore would always consider England not as their country, but merely as their place
of exile. Similarly, those events disproved for ever the lie that men inherently hate Jews.
Yet the English objectors, and Americans who raised warning voices against the new immigration,
were made true prophets by the event. All that was gained was swept away by one section of the
community of Russian Jews. They revived and imposed on Jews everywhere the old teaching, ‘Do
not cultivate strange lands, soon you will cultivate your own; do not attach yourself to any land, for
thus you will be unfaithful to the memory of your native land; do not submit to any king, for you
have no master but the Lord of the Holy Land, Jehovah; do not scatter among the nations, you will
forfeit your salvation and you will not see the light of the day of resurrection; remain such as you
left your house; the hour will come and you will see again the hills of your ancestors, and those
hills will then be the centre of the world, which will be subject to your power.
The destructive achievement, in both the Zionist and Communist aspect, came from the Jews in the
Russia of the Romanoffs; that is the key to understanding of the present and future. The Jews who
made those two great movements were not Semites; on that point all qualified authorities agree;
their ancestors never knew ‘the hills of your ancestors’. They were the descendants of a Russian,
Mongol-Tartar race converted to Judaism in the seventh century whose remote forebears never trod
Palestinian soil. Their two destructive exploits are astounding, considered as feats, like those of
weightlifters, but still are less extraordinary than the submission to them of leading Gentile
politicians in the Christian West during the last forty years.
The tale, more fantastic than any of the Arabian Nights, is most plainly told in Dr. Chaim
Weizmann’s Trial and Error. It shows the soil where the two destructive movements grew, to their
present fiery bloom, in the last decades of the past century. There was a little White Russian village
‘within the Pale’, with 400 or 500 Russian families and under 200 Jewish ones. The Jews kept to
their own streets of their own wish, so that Jews and Gentiles were strangers to each other’s ways of
thought, dreams, religions, festivals and even languages. All buildings were of wood save two of
brick, the church and ‘the house of the richest Jew’. The Pale of Settlement was ‘a prison house for
Jews’; yet the typical Jewish family depicted had a house of seven rooms and a garden and some
acres of land, the father employed fifty or sixty Russians in the season. There was no starvation or
any pogroms in the place though pogroms were heard of elsewhere (the student of these things will
often come across such statements). Russian servants were employed and the matriarch of the
family went each summer to distant Bohemia or Bavaria.
It does not look too dire a picture. Yet within this Jewish household, in the 1880s, was ferment. The
‘Return’ was in the air, ‘a vague deep-rooted Messianism, a hope which would not die’. Such
families were deeply divided among themselves, so that brothers and sisters often would not speak
to each other. The line of dispute was between those young Jews who wanted to overthrow the
Czardom and gain power inside Russia (the later Communists) and those who wanted to recreate a
Jewish nation in Palestine (the later Zionists). The matriarch said, well, if the revolutionary son
were right they would all be happy in Russia, and if the Zionist one were correct she would go to
Palestine, so all would be well either way.
It is a vivid picture of the beginnings of the things we now experience. It is given as one of Jewish
misery, but the Russians seem to have been much worse off. In From Pharaoh to Hitler Mr.
Bernard J. Brown, writing as a Jew, says, ‘When the Jews talk about oppression they are mistaken
in assuming that they have been the only oppressed people on earth. As late as 1860 there were
over 23,000,000 Christian peasants in Russia in abject slavery, while the Jews of that period in
Russia followed their trades and professions, enjoying reasonable freedom and prosperity
consistent with the form of government and general economic conditions prevalent at that time.’
This Russia, nevertheless, the younger Jews, to judge from Dr. Weizmann, wished to destroy. True,
a third body of Jewish opinion existed, that of the Jews who wished to ‘assimilate’ themselves, like
Jews in the West. Throughout Dr. Weizmann’s book these Jews appear as more detestable than
Gentile ‘anti-Semites’.
At that time the victory of those Jews, who wished to ‘keep the peace of the city’ in whatever land
they dwelt, seemed certain. The whole history of the world for eighteen hundred years had been
one of gradually improving humanity and enlightenment, broken only by what seemed the passing
nightmare of the French Revolution, and in this upward process Czar Alexander II was a typical
figure. It was he who in 1861 liberated the 23,000,000 Russian serfs, so that a new dawn broke for
the innumerable races and faiths of Russia. A reconciler and unifier, he was killed at the decisive
moment, like Lincoln, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Alexander of Yugoslavia and Count
Bernadotte.
Repressive measures followed against the population generally, including Jews. The masses were
resentful and, says Dr. Weizmann, ‘among the Jews this first folk awakening had two facets, the
revolutionary, mingling with the general Russian revolt, and the Zionist nationalist’. This, then, was
the actual birth of twins long in gestation, Soviet Communism and Political Zionism. (At the
Communist revolution of 1917, however, Jewish revolutionaries did not ‘mingle with the general
Russian revolt’; they led it exclusively, and from that day to this the leadership of Soviet
Communism has continued to be predominantly Russian-Jewish, while that of Political Zionism
has been almost exclusively so, though it is represented as a movement of all Jews throughout the
world.)[5]
In the decade following Czar Alexander’s murder Dr. Weizmann went to school at Pinsk. He did
not personally experience pogroms but ‘did not need to live in the midst of pogroms’ to know that
‘the Gentile world was poisoned’; indeed, he knew little of Gentiles but from the first they were to
him ‘the symbols of menacing forces’. The frame of mind seems clearly innate, not the result of
thought or experience; it might fairly be called ‘anti-Gentilism’, an emotional antipathy and not a
reasoned antagonism. It coloured his approach to school-going: ‘The acquisition of knowledge was
not for us so much a normal process of education as the storing up of weapons in an arsenal by
means of which we hoped later to be able to hold our own in a hostile world.’
The world, however, was not hostile to Jews. All doors were open to them, and that seems to have
disquietened Dr. Weizmann more than anything. At Pinsk (where he had ‘no social contact with
Gentiles’, who were a minority of the population) he found many assimilationist Jews. The Zionists
were becoming compact and began to fight ‘assimilation’. Thus Dr. Weizmann locates the actual
sources of the thing which overclouds the world today; he says the foundation layers of the Zionist
State are Pinsk and Vilna, Odessa and Warsaw, and many lesser-known Jewish communities of
those Eastern European stretches; that is Russian Jewry.
Dr. Weizmann disliked Czarist Russia so much that, graduated at Pinsk, he crossed the German
frontier clandestinely and went to Pfungstadt. He found there something previously unrealized by
him; that German Jewry was exerting itself to be German (he calls this ‘a queer chapter in Jewish
history’). He obtained a post at a Jewish boarding school and decided that its principal, who held
such views, was an intellectual coward and a toady. The sight of Jews entirely free seems to have
appalled him. He was ‘lonely and desperately homesick’ for Pinsk, for the little village in the
prison-like Pale! ‘It was better in Pinsk, though Pinsk was Russia.’ He longed for the separate,
ghetto-like life of the Jews there, and returned. Pinsk seems indeed to have been a good place for
Jews, because his four years of military service were due ‘but I managed to talk my way out of the
army in a special interview with the local military commander, a decent and cultured Russian who
thought it a pity to have my education interrupted!’
Later he went to Berlin, Freiburg, Geneva and other places, where he found Jewish students from
Russia increasing in number and revolutionary fervour. They were militant cells engaged in
fighting ‘the assimilationist revolutionary movement, not on its revolutionary but on its
assimilationist side’. This means that they worked for revolution and against the reconciliation of
Jew and Gentile, which they saw as an obstacle to revolution. Nevertheless, the ‘assimilationist’
Jews remained aloof. ‘I cannot say that anything resembling real intimacy ever grew up between the
Russian-Jewish student colony and the Jewish community of Berlin; the gap between the two
worlds was almost unbridgable.’
This great gulf was in time to be bridged by Mr. Lloyd George, Lord Balfour, later British leaders,
President Wilson, President Roosevelt and President Truman, and the Jews who were happy in
those Western countries were to be driven back across the bridge into the clutch of a tribal
nationalism which they did not desire.
In the next ten years, as student and then teacher at those Christian universities, Dr. Weizmann
learned ‘the technique of propaganda and the approach to the masses’. Meanwhile a westernized
Jew, Dr. Theodor Herzl, emerged as the visible leader of the conspiracy now grown into an open
movement; by publishing The Jewish State he first proclaimed the territorial ambition. Not one
Gentile in a million, probably, even noticed it. World Jewry, which knew what it would mean, was
put in the condition of a dovecote invaded by a cat. This was the reversal of all that Orthodox and
Reform Jewry alike had promised; in the end it would mean the ruin of the achievements of
centuries.
In Dr. Herzl first appeared the phenomenon of this century, the Zionist operator on whose knee
Gentile politicians sat as puppets. Rabbi Elmer Berger says, ‘With Herzl that group of Jews which
committed itself to Zionism and acknowledged him as its leader entered a peripatetic kind of
diplomacy, which took it into many chancelleries and parliaments, exploring the labyrinthine and
devious ways of international politics in a part of the world where political intrigue and secret deals
were a byword.’ Dr. Herzl began successfully to court what Mr. Bernard J. Brown describes as ‘the
false praise of those Christians who, for one reason or another, seek Jewish favour’.
Herzl used words which seemed of the most foolish pretension at the time, but were modest in
comparison with what Political Zionism later achieved. When his first important Jewish backer
died, Baron de Hirsch, Herzl wrote, ‘Hirsch dies and I enter on negotiations with princes.’[6] He
hoped to buy for twenty million pounds a charter for Palestine from the Sultan of Turkey, who ever
needed money, but that fell through. Seeking an interview with the Kaiser, he promised ‘the
diminution of radical’ (that is, revolutionary) ‘propaganda in Europe, in proportion to the
development of national effort among Jews’, but when the Kaiser delayed in procuring Palestine for
him Herzl wrote threateningly to him, ‘If our work miscarries, hundreds of revolutionaries will at a
single bound join the revolutionary parties’. He told one of the Rothschilds, who feared Political
Zionism, ‘I will start a great agitation in which it will be difficult to maintain order … You think it is
a misfortune to operate with masses; consider well, would it not be a greater misfortune if I set the
masses in motion by a tumultuous agitation?’
Herzl in such words precisely foretells, as if by divine or demoniac revelation, the working of the
machine he built; the crushing of Gentile nations between the power of the purse and the
revolutionary masses, both controlled from the same source. He used the famous phrase about
‘England being the point where the Archimedean lever must be applied’, and England was so used
(though not by him) to prise open the oyster. After Herzl’s death his threats became realities. He
failed, or did not succeed quickly enough for those whose passions he aroused; he seems at the end
to have become terrified of the thing he began. When he called the First Zionist Congress he found
he was no longer master of his machine. ‘There rose before our eyes’, he wrote, ‘a Russian Jewry the
strength of which we had not even suspected … They represented the views and sentiments of the
five million Jews of that country … What a humiliation for us, who had taken our superiority for
granted!’
Russian Jewry took over, as Russian Jewry took over Soviet Communism, and Russian Jewry
remains the master-force today. Herzl became a discredited Messiah. In 1903 he produced at last an
offer of Uganda, from the British Government. I cannot recall any comparable donation in history,
but it was derisively rejected by the Russian Jews, who now controlled a project which was
gathering momentum like a wheel rolling downhill. Herzl relieved his extremists of further
annoyance by dying the next year, at forty-four, an opportune death, for by sponsoring the Uganda
scheme he made himself, if not quite a reconciler and peacemaker, then a ‘deviationist’ (in the
modern idiom). Much worse than that, during a visit to Moscow he warned the Political Zionists
against harbouring revolutionaries in their ranks! His death occurred at the decisive moment.
At that time Dr. Weizmann, now thirty, poor, little known outside Zionist circles, was on his way to
England, which he chose as a country in which ‘at least theoretically’ a Jew might be allowed to live
and work without let or hindrance (the words ‘at least theoretically’, published in 1949, seem mildly
amusing in the light of all he was able to achieve; in this case practice more than vindicated
theory). He went to Manchester with but a letter of introduction to a professor at the University
there. He was ‘very warmly received’, given the use of a laboratory at a nominal rent, access to ‘the
Holy of Holies’ (the store room where fine chemicals were kept), ‘consistent kindheartedness’ from
workmen ‘who spared no effort to produce any piece of apparatus or furniture that I asked for’.
Soon the services of two research men were added and, within the year, the offer of a research
scholarship and a weekly lectureship. This seems fairly sympathetic treatment and was but the
beginning of much warmer friendliness. However, in 1932 Dr. Weizmann, contemplating the wild
beasts of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, observed, ‘It must be a wonderful thing to be an
animal in the South African game reserve; much better than being a Jew in Warsaw – or even in
London.’
Manchester produces in its natives a moral outlook akin to the New England Conscience, or to the
warm humanity of Bloomsbury and Greenwich Village. Its corporate soul responds like a
harpstring to the cries of oppressed beings far away, and the farther away the better. In Manchester
the newborn babe’s first cry is not of pain, but already of righteous indignation about the lot of
Thailanders, Vietnamese, Louisiana Negroes and Durban Indians; and the first words it says are
probably ‘Hands off Liberia’. If the world has a conscience (and The Times has said so), Manchester
is its guardian. What Manchester thinks today the world thinks tomorrow and regrets the day after;
the best way to foresee the tribulations of the future is to read a Manchester newspaper. Manchester
adores strange causes and exotic visitors; they must be good, they’ve come so far, and the things
they complain about are also delightfully distant. Manchester succumbs to such blandishments as
charmingly as a mid-Western farmer’s daughter of the ‘nineties to a Chicago salesman.
Dr. Weizmann says he went to Manchester to keep out of Zionist politics for a time; but he landed
in a most propitious place for their pursuit. He had what he himself calls an astounding experience
of Manchester’s illusions soon after he arrived. He shared his laboratory with a Japanese student
and the two read with delight newspaper reports of Russian defeats in the war with Japan, then in
progress; the Japanese because he was Japanese, Dr. Weizmann because he longed for his native
Russia’s defeat. Later he read in the Annual Report of the Director of Laboratories a proud eulogy
of the international nature of the Manchester Chemical School and of the unifying influence of
science, which made it possible for two mortal foes, ‘a Japanese and a Russian, to work side by side
there during the war!’
If the mere desire to do good in some vague way at someone else’s expense qualifies for a place in
heaven, the spirit of Manchester will one day be highly enthroned there; if the scrutiny of facts and
right or wrong also belongs to the qualifying process, it will meet grave trouble at the turnstiles. At
Manchester in 1906 the notion of transferring masses of East Europeans to Palestine made
immediate appeal. The little matter of the Arabs there did not worry the Manchester Conscience,
for the Arabs had not studied the technique of propaganda and the approach to masses or sent
anyone to Manchester. The Chairman of the Conservative Party there was a Zionist (this is
something which still bedevils both the large political parties in England and America). Before he
was two years in England or had much command of English Dr. Weizmann found himself closeted
with the lately defeated Prime Minister (and leader of the Conservative Opposition), Mr. Arthur
Balfour, in an hotel room!
Does history show a more fateful meeting? A mysterious foreign ambition began to entwine itself
round British policy. Dr. Weizmann, an obscure newcomer, found that Mr. Balfour had only ‘the
most naive and rudimentary notion of the movement’ (a description which, remained good twenty
years later when Lord Balfour first saw the Arabian land where, in the meantime, he had
undertaken to set up a National Home for the Zionists. Being warmly welcomed in Jewish parts of
it, he said it reminded him of a general election tour, but with everybody on the same side. Against
the wishes of his Zionist hosts, who wished ‘to spare him as much as possible’, he went on to Arab
Damascus and had to be smuggled away from an infuriated mob and to a ship. He may thus at the
last have suspected another side to the question; he had but a few years to live).
In 1911, after seven years, Dr. Weizmann’s position at the University was worth £600 and his
wife’s, as medical officer for several city clinics, £350, so that the joint income, as he says, was
considerable for those days and possibly vindicated England’s comportment towards newcomers,
Jewish or Gentile. On this account, perhaps, the German Jews in Manchester were contentedly
assimilated. Dr. Weizmann, however, felt most at home with the Russian Jews there; the old
English-Jewish families ‘might just as well have belonged to another world’. Russian Jews
predominated in the Jewish community and a strong Political Zionist group took shape around Dr.
Weizmann in Manchester. In 1907 he first saw the country of his ambitions; he found it a dolorous
one where 80,000 Jews lived, in poverty and amity, with some 550,000 Arabs. All that was to be
changed.
The First War began in 1914; long-memoried readers may recall that it appeared to be concerned
with such matters as the rape of Belgium, ending Prussian Militarism, and making the world safe
for democracy. At its start Baron Edmond de Rothschild told Dr. Weizmann that it would spread to
the Middle East, where things of great significance to Political Zionism would occur. The first few
months saw another fateful meeting; Dr. Weizmann, by chance he says, was presented to Mr. C. P.
Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian. Mr. Scott, whose ideas about the matter may have been
as rudimentary as Mr. Balfour’s, asked typically Mancunian questions (’Are you a Pole?’) and was
told of Dr. Weizmann’s hatred of Russia, then England’s powerful ally. This did not deter him from
immediate enthusiasm. Thereafter when he went to London Dr. Weizmann habitually met him at
the station, Mr. Scott’s usual greeting being, ‘Now, Dr. Weizmann, tell me what you want me to do
for you’.
This led to a third fateful meeting. When the war was still four months young Mr. Scott took Dr.
Weizmann to breakfast with Mr. Lloyd George (Mr. Asquith was then Prime Minister and, learning
of a scheme to transplant Eastern Europeans to Palestine, said it was fantastic). Mr. Lloyd George
told Dr. Weizmann that a leading English Jew, Mr. Edwin Montagu, would bitterly oppose the
project. Indeed, the mass of Jews everywhere, other than those from Russia, were firmly against it.
At this time the curious process began; wherever established Jews resisted an enterprise which they
thought perilous to Jewry, Gentile leaders turned against them. The little-known Dr. Weizmann
from Russia was more kindly heard than the eminent spokesmen of Jewish communities
established in England for centuries.
Mr. Lloyd George sent Dr. Weizmann again to Mr. Balfour, who apparently first asked an obvious
question: how a friend of England could be so anti-Russian when Russia fought on our side? Dr.
Weizmann spoke of pogroms and expulsions which made ‘every Russian victory a horror for the
Jews’ and this seems to have satisfied Mr. Balfour, who said, ‘It is a great cause you are working
for. You must come again and again’. Such are the things which secretly go on in war-time. This
was in 1914, when the Russian offensive saved Paris. I remember the enormous casualties the
Russians suffered; without that effort the Allies might have been lost.
Whilst Czarist Russia in the east took the brunt off bowed French and British shoulders in the west,
Dr. Weizmann told British leaders of his hatred for Russia. The very name of Political Zionism was
unknown to the fighting-men or the watching masses, but behind the scenes this new ambition took
root and stem in London. Dr. Weizmann says his meetings with Mr. Scott, Mr. Lloyd George and
Mr. Balfour were but ‘the beginnings of our discoveries of friends’. The thing, unless one looks for
baser motives, seems today only explicable as an infatuation among public men. Political Zionism
in the next few years made immense strides, and if they were not even greater this was due to the
opposition of Jews, the mass of whom stood everywhere as firm as they could behind Gentile
politicians who went down like ninepins.
After two years of war English Jewry still refused to demand more than ‘equal rights’ with the
Arabs and ‘reasonable facilities for immigration and colonization’ in the event that the war should
put Palestine in the hands of England or France. At the Foreign Office Mr. Lucien Wolf (until then
accepted as the secular spokesman of British Jewry) protested that Political Zionism was a purely
East European movement. He and his kind fought vainly against Gentile politicians who seem to
have been possessed. When Mr. Lloyd George became Prime Minister, and prepared for the fatal
deed, he told Dr. Weizmann, ‘I know that with the issuance of this Declaration I shall please one
group of Jews and displease another. I have decided to please your group because you stand for a
great idea.’ These words will first he fully tested when the great idea reaches its full consummation
and I think that may not now be long.
Dr. Weizmann, curiously, wrote: ‘We hate equally anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism; both are
degrading.’ If he meant by this anti-Zionism and pro-Zionism he ought to have hated Messrs. Scott,
Balfour and Lloyd George. The circle of these champions widened and its multiplying members
remained ‘completely baffled’ by the opposition of British Jews. The then editor of The Times, says
Dr. Weizmann, expressed intense annoyance because anti-Zionists wrote letters of protest to his
paper (in later years such expostulations were rebuked as ‘anti-Semitism’). Lord Milner publicly
reproved those who thought Palestine should remain what it was, Arab. Mr. Philip Kerr (later Lord
Lothian and an Ambassador to America), wrote contemptuously to Dr. Weizmann, from Russia, of
’so-called British Jewry’ and said no amount of talk by Mr. Edwin Montagu ‘or people like him’
would stem the tide.
This gestation of the thing now accomplished is fantastic to contemplate. Dr. Weizmann went to
the Admiralty and found that his Zionist work thrust itself insistently into his labours there. He
converted Sir Mark Sykes (Chief Secretary to the War Cabinet), Mr. Leopold Amery (later to be
Colonial Secretary; Mr. Amery was ‘incensed when leading Jews attacked the scheme openly’), Mr.
Ormsby-Gore, Lord Robert Cecil; the slip became a landslide. He found his work easy then
because it was in the realm of the abstract; he says, in memorable words, that ‘the great difficulties,
like the Arab problem, had not yet come to the fore’. In the later events the Arabs, and pledges
made to them, never came much to the fore.
America, too, was now being roped in. The Jewish Question having been solved by the centuries, a
new Jewish Question was thrown up there, the Political Zionist one, and the Zionist leader, Mr.
Brandeis, was appointed Adviser to President Wilson on the Jewish Question; the era of The
Advisers began. Then General Smuts, from South Africa, appeared in London and heartily assured
Dr. Weizmann that something would be done about Palestine and the Jewish people. By this time a
growing family of powerful men, freed from the peace-time checks of public debate, accepted the
Russian Jews, the Political Zionists from Eastern Europe, as ‘the Jewish people’.
Thus Political Zionism, which in 1880 was but a matter of violent inter-family dispute between
Jewish-revolutionary and Jewish- nationalist sons in Jewish homes in Russia, by 1917 was
imperiously presented to the British and American governments as the demand of the entire Jewish
people. Still the great masses knew nothing of it and thought the war they fought was for the liberty
of men and nations. They could not dream that one of its primary purposes was to drive a small,
harmless and allied people out of its native land and install East Europeans in their place.
They were never consulted about that, though their leaders secretly vied in fervour for this cause.
Dr. Weizmann says, ‘Our difficulties were not connected with the first rank statesmen. These had,
for by far the greatest part, always understood our aspirations, and their statements in favour of the
Jewish National Home really constitute a literature. It was always behind the scenes, and on the
lower levels, that we encountered an obstinate, devious and secretive opposition.’ The words
‘behind the scenes’ and ’secretive’ are notable, for the masses knew very little of the methods by
which ‘first rank statesmen’ were won. However, Dr. Weizmann did not invariably find first rank
statesmen so admirable. In a much later connection (the Czechoslovak crisis of 1938) he refers to
Mr. Neville Chamberlain’s ‘profound ignorance’ and says he does not know if it was ‘typical for the
British ruling class, but judging from its behaviour at that time it either did not know, or else it did
not wish to know because the knowledge was inconvenient, disturbing and dangerous’. The three
adjectives might equally apply to the first rank statesmen in England and America who took up
Political Zionism; either they did not know or did not wish to know whither that would lead, and
their uninstructed peoples were dragged along with them.
Of those ‘first rank statesmen’ who in 1917 prepared the first triumph of Political Zionism Lord
Robert Cecil (Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs) is exceptionally important because he alone
(Dr. Weizmann says), ’saw it in its true perspective as an integral part of world stabilization. To him
the re-establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine and the organization of the world in a great
federation were complementary features of the next step in the management of human affairs.’
I do not know, but doubt, if Lord Robert Cecil ever explained the matter to his own people like that,
but in these words a much bigger nigger pops out of the woodpile. In them the ‘National Home’ no
longer appears as an all-satisfying end in itself, as it was first presented to be; or even as the basis
of a future Zionist State, which it was denied to be. The words contain the true shape of the whole
ambition, as I believe it to be, for they speak of world stabilization, of a world federation, and of
managing mankind. If this future world federation is to surmount nations, why had it to begin with
the creation of a new nation, the Zionist one, unless the ‘management of human affairs’ is to be
assumed by that one?
In 1917, with the First War in its fourth year and the masses still all oblivious of such large
schemes for their future, the secret process suddenly accelerated and cleared, as if a developing
fluid abruptly brought out the outlines of a negative. Either all the fates conspired, or the Political
Zionists were then strong enough, to displace any front rank statesmen who still resisted and to
supplant them with men obedient to their will. Mr. Asquith, the only important objector remaining,
had been overthrown, and one may now doubt whether deficiencies of leadership were the cause.
The real reason may have been certain secret Anglo-French treaties about Palestine which might
have preserved the Arabs from their approaching fate. President Wilson was prompted sternly to
denounce ’secret treaties’ (Americans retained a holy horror of these two words until President
Roosevelt, in 1944-45, made secret treatie’s on a really stupendous scale) and Mr. Asquith went.
The new government was made up of men to whom, apparently, Political Zionism was by now a
foremost issue of the war (I recall with humility the importance I then attached to the French front,
above which I flew). Mr. Lloyd George was Prime Minister, Mr. Philip Kerr his secretary, Mr.
Balfour Foreign Secretary, Lord Robert Cecil Assistant Foreign Secretary, and so on. Lord Robert
Cecil had been assured that ‘a Jewish Palestine would be a safeguard to Palestine, in particular in
respect to the Suez Canal’. This put the matter on a plane below mere righteousness, but even at that
the final test has yet to be made and might be interesting to watch.
Another significant thing happened while the fateful issue was in the balance. General Smuts,
arrived in London, was acclaimed as the symbolic figure of Boer-British reconciliation. The public
masses in South Africa and England knew nothing of his admiration for Political Zionism, and
hardly its name. He was invited to join the British War Cabinet, a proceeding without precedent in
the Commonwealth which his Boers greatly resented. He did join it, in a status never clearly
defined, and was offered the command in Palestine by Mr. Lloyd George who (General Smuts
says) ‘was very anxious that a determined offensive should be made in Palestine … He was strongly
under the impression that Palestine should be made a decisive feature of the war’ (my italics).
Learning from the military authorities that they counted the enterprise of little military value
General Smuts refused the command, but in the Cabinet presented his plan for such a campaign,
which was eventually undertaken. Thus as the First War drew to its end Palestine was made ‘a
decisive feature’ and British Commonwealth troops, not for military reasons, were used to conquer
the territory of the future Zionist State.
The great moment thus approached. To the last British Jewry repudiated Political Zionism, to the
‘downright annoyance’ of the editor of The Times, who spent ‘a good hour’ discussing with Dr.
Weizmann ‘the kind of leader which was likely to make the best appeal to the British public’ and
produced ‘a magnificent presentation of the Zionist case’. In such circumstances may leading
articles about major issues sometimes be written. By August 1917 Dr. Weizmann was able to
inform Mr. Felix Frankfurter (later esteemed as an adviser by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman)
that the only remaining obstacle was ‘outside interference – entirely from Jews!’ (these delightful
words about outside interference by Jews in Political Zionism are Dr. Weizmann’s). Before the
decisive Cabinet meeting Dr. Weizmann wrote to the Foreign Office to protest against the anti-
Zionist view being urged at it by ‘a prominent Englishman of the Jewish faith’. At the last moment
President Wilson cabled support for the Zionist cause and the British and American Jews were
finally undone.
The overt, fatal deed followed; the Balfour Declaration fathered a ‘Jewish National Home’ in
Palestine and, as I think, tethered the British and American peoples to the ambition of a Zionist-
controlled world federation which lay behind it. The Declaration hardly indented the consciousness
of the British and American masses and they still do not see its full consequences for themselves.
Its immediate meaning was only clear to the Arabs and to British officials and soldiers in Palestine.
It led to thirty years of Arab risings and then to an Arab war against aggression, broken by
overwhelming force. During that period Commissions were repeatedly sent to Palestine to find the
reason for so much trouble and each in turn reported the blindingly obvious; that the native
population objected to enforced displacement by Eastern European newcomers. Similarly (as Dr.
Weizmann records) administrators who went to Palestine favourably inclined towards Political
Zionism ‘as an almost universal rule … turned against us in a few months’.
The front rank statesmen, who thus prepared their peoples’ future tribulations, were happy. Lord
Balfour thought the Declaration the great achievement of his life. Lord Robert Cecil (one of the
founders of the League of Nations) thought the National Homeland of equal importance with the
League (soon to die). President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George announced that the National Home
would be the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth, so that, the war being over, the broad masses
were at length able to perceive this object of it. General Smuts said, ‘One of the great objects we
fought for in the war was to provide a national home for the Jewish people’. The people concerned,
however, were never told that this was an object, let alone a great object, of the war they went into.
Nor was a similar objective ever announced as the aim of the Second War; but events show that this
was the fact and the peoples might logically assume that a primary object of any third war, though
cloaked at the start, would be the expansion of the Zionist State, and the imposition of a world
federation’ and a new ‘management’ on mankind. In the aftermath of the Second War such aims,
earlier concealed, were much more openly admitted by leading politicians, and little room for doubt
remains about their future attitude.
The last day of the First War saw Dr. Weizmann, the unknown immigrant of twelve years before,
lunching with Mr. Lloyd George while delirious joy filled the streets outside. After lunch the Prime
Minister (now almost forgotten) was borne from Number Ten on the crowd’s shoulders, watched
from the window by Dr. Weizmann, whom the crowd would not have recognized, if it saw him.
That strange scene appears to me still to have topical significance. The leading men of the Christian
West had identified Political Zionism, a movement of the revolutionary Russian Jews, with World
Jewry everywhere and forced the rising generation of Jews into this grasp. They undid the work of
centuries and renewed the ferment in Jewry just when it was allayed. In doing this they scouted and
affronted their own established Jewish communities. If any statesmen survive, or are growing up
now, their task will be to undo what was done, and they will need the help of God and the prayers
of men for that.
In that first stage of the great plan leading British politicians, editors, soldiers seem to have
succumbed as if to hypnosis, and lost even patriotic prudence during the greatest war in history.
Vainly did the British Jews point out that the Political Zionists were ‘an international organization
which included different, even enemy, elements’ and refuse all truck with them. No such objections,
Dr. Weizmann recalls, ‘ever occurred to the many Englishmen who were encouraging us so
generously in those days’.
The explanations which leading men later gave for their submission to the Russian Zionists were
casual or misleading. Mr. Lloyd George gave contradictory accounts of motive. One was that the
promise of a National Home was expected to rally Jewish opinion throughout the world to the
Allied cause; in fact the bulk of British, American and German Jews were opposed to Political
Zionism, and this remains true today to an extent only lessened by the fact that new Jewish
generations have been told by British and American leaders that they consider Political Zionism to
be The Jewish People; their situation is analogous to that of the Eastern European countries which
had Communist governments forced on them by the Christian West. Another Lloyd Georgian
version is that he promised the National Home to Dr. Weizmann, in the manner of Napoleon
bestowing a kingdom, in gratitude for a new method of producing acetone, a substance much
needed during that war. Dr. Weizmann (who received the cash payment customary for such
services, in this case ten thousand pounds) refers to this statement with gentle irony, saying that
‘history does not deal in Aladdin’s lamps’. He also mentions that Mr. Lloyd George, in memoirs
designed for the masses, said he first met Dr. Weizmann and became interested in Political Zionism
in 1917 (the year of the Declaration); whereas, says Dr. Weizmann, they met long before that and
Mr. Lloyd George’s ‘advocacy of the Jewish Homeland long predated his accession to the
Premiership’.
Slowly truth emerges, with the passing of the years. A vital, or lethal, twist was given to the
declared aims and purposes of the First War and this distortion continued, with ever graver effects,
through the intervening years and into the Second War. Even on the low level of material
advantage the thing proved a curse to the British. The politicians and editors had been told, and so
informed the masses, that, the National Home once established, ‘England would have in the Jews
the best possible friends’. Of Jews that might have been true, but the Political Zionists proved
inveterate enemies, ever crying that England should enforce their rule in Palestine by arms and
killing British soldiers and officials for twenty-five years because this was not done. No such
murderer ever received the penalty for murder; in no land ever occupied by the British, for periods
short or long, has that ever occurred before. During the twenty years of peace and six of war the
authorities in London who sent men to do duty in Palestine intervened to protect their assailants if
they were killed doing it. Nothing was allowed to stop the transplantation of Eastern Europeans to
Palestine. The Arabs breed fast, however, and maintained superior numbers. Clearly a Zionist
majority could never be achieved unless in the confusion of another world war (which the masses
thought inconceivable). Hitler arrived opportunely.
When he began to do things obviously planned to make another great war certain the Palestine
adventure had broken down. Without open war the National Home could not be converted into a
Zionist State. One of the last administrators, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald (the son of a Socialist Prime
Minister) inherited the illusions about Political Zionism fashionable in political quarters but as
Colonial Secretary, when he had to handle the actual substance of this dream, was quickly
undeceived, like all others. His term of office produced the White Paper in 1939 which was a
British Government’s confession, after twenty-one years, of an earlier one’s error; it was to restrict
Zionist immigration and set up an Arab State in Arab Palestine within five years. Thereon the
Second War broke out.
Just before that Mr. Churchill first appears in Dr. Weizmann’s narrative as a champion of Political
Zionism (his predecessor, Mr. Chamberlain, is criticized by Dr. Weizmann for speaking of
Czechoslovakia as ‘a little country far away of which we know very little’; however, the British
supporters of Political Zionism harshly handled a little country still farther away of which they
knew even less). By this time Dr. Weizmann was in touch with a new generation of first rank
statesmen, most of the earlier ones being dead. The day of the great debate in Parliament, for and
against the White Paper, found him lunching with Mr. Churchill, who was to speak, ‘of course’,
against it. Mr. Churchill read his speech to his guests and asked if Dr. Weizmann had any changes
to suggest.
Then the Second War began. Initially it was supposed to be about Poland, Czechoslovakia and
other countries, which in the event were treated as if they were the culprits, not the victims, with
the connivance of the Western leaders. The British Island survived, and also the western half of
Europe, which was left in such plight that it might at any time be overrun. In the Second War as in
the First the twin causes born in Czarist Russia were served; the Communist Empire was
aggrandized and the Zionist State set up, with the help of American and British arms. This
phenomenon having appeared in two wars, its recurrence in larger form in any third one plainly
could only be prevented by the exposure and disentanglement of Soviet Communist and Political
Zionist influence from British and American State policy. Possibly this is not even feasible during
the present generation of first rank statesmen, who seem to accept the thrall as a normal thing.
However, new generations arise and tomorrow is also a day, as the Germans say.
During the Second War the weight of Political Zionist pressure gradually was transferred from
London to Washington and applied there with practised skill, again at the decisive moment;
America was drawn into the fatal coils. There was a sound reason for this. As Dr. Weizmann wrote,
front rank politicians are easily won for Political Zionism, but greater resistance is met on lower
levels, where public servants seem to be of stouter timber and hold tenaciously to their conceptions
of duty and principle. As the Second War began he met these hindrances in England.
He records that, very early in that war, he saw Mr. Churchill (not yet Prime Minister) at the
Admiralty. He said he ‘hoped Mr. Churchill would see the enterprise through’ and the Political
Zionists would want after the war to build up a State of three or four million Jews in Palestine; Mr.
Churchill replied, ‘Yes, indeed, I quite agree with that’. I do not think the British islanders, at that
dire moment, ever knew that Mr. Churchill conceived this among the aims of the war; if he publicly
said so I must have missed it. I knew he attacked the White Paper, but also recalled that in 1922,
when he was Colonial Secretary, he officially announced that the National Home would not mean
the ‘imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole’; any
expectations that it was to be made ‘as Jewish as England is English’ were impracticable and His
Majesty’s Government had no such aim, nor did they contemplate the disappearance or
subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine; the Balfour Declaration
contained nothing that need cause alarm to the Arab population of Palestine.
Mr. Churchill became Prime Minister and in August 1940 (while the Battle of Britain yet
impended) Dr. Weizmann wrote to him, urging that the Zionists in Palestine be accorded their
‘elementary human right to bear arms’ (a matter which involved the elementary human right of the
Arabs to remain in Palestine). Much later the Zionists amassed many arms, in secret ways, and used
them against the British to such effect that the responsible Minister recorded a serious interference
with the British war effort. At this moment, however, authorities at lower levels proved resistant
and Dr. Weizmann refers to ‘the frustrations we encountered’.
Mr. Churchill’s memoirs are unexpectedly illuminating at this point. Without much comment he
reproduces his own documents which show that long before August 1940 he urgently wanted to
arm the Zionists. These papers appear in the volume called Their Finest Hour and perusal of them
made me wonder whose finest hour that was. Mr. Churchill took office on May 10th, 1940, and
says he was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last he had the authority to give directions
over the whole scene; ‘I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but
a preparation for this hour and this trial.’ I remember that hour very well and doubt if any of the
cornered and almost defenceless British Islanders, save possibly a few initiates, thought the man
who took on the burden could have room in his heart or mind for anything but the island’s survival
or fall. Neverthe- less, Mr. Churchill, at such a moment, diligently strove to further the Political
Zionist cause, so far away.
He acquired ‘the chief-power in the State’ on May 10th, as France disintegrated. By May 23rd, as
disasters accumulated, he was instructing his Colonial Secretary that ‘The main and almost the sole
aim in Palestine at the present time is to liberate the eleven battalions of excellent regular troops
who are now tethered there; for this purpose the Jews should be armed in their own defence and
properly organized as speedily as possible’. On May 29th, while the evacuation from Dunkirk was
at its height, he repeated the order more urgently. That seemed fair enough at a moment when the
British Army looked likely to be lost in France. He reiterated the order on June 2nd, by which time
the salvation of the British Army had changed the situation. On June 6th he complained of military
opposition to this order, saying eight battalions were needed to build up a new expeditionary force
and he had only agreed to wait for eight Indian battalions to relieve them if these were sent at once.
At the end of June he complained of ‘difficulties’ with two Ministers, particularly Lord Lloyd, the
Colonial Secretary responsible, ‘who was a convinced anti-Zionist and pro-Arab. I wished to arm
the Jewish colonists’.
I may be odd, but when I look back on those tense days of Dunkirk I still find it hard to understand
that, at such a moment, a British Government could find time to think about arming the Political
Zionists in Palestine. On June 28th Mr. Churchill sent a memorandum to Lord Lloyd in terms
which must be rare between a Prime Minister and a responsible colleague. He said the large
number of troops in Palestine were ‘the price we have to pay for the anti-Jewish policy which has
been persisted in for some years’ (the policy was that enunciated in the statement of a Colonial
Secretary, Mr. Churchill, in 1922). If the Jews were properly armed, he said, those troops would
become available ‘and there would be no danger of the Jews attacking the Arabs’ (in 1950 this
observation appears sanguine). He thought it was ‘little less than a scandal that a time when we are
fighting for our lives these very large forces should be immobilized in support of a policy which
commends itself only to a section of the Conservative Party’. He had hoped, added Mr. Churchill,
that Lord Lloyd ‘would take a broad view of the Palestine situation … I could certainly not associate
myself with such an answer as you have drawn up for me’ (presumably a Zionist spokesman in
parliament had been prompted to put down a Question asking why the British troops were not
withdrawn and the Zionists armed, or some such thing).
In July again (while the British Islander thought presumably his lonely plight to be an all-exclusive
preoccupation), Mr. Churchill ‘wished to arm the Jews at Tel Aviv, who with proper weapons
would have made a good fight against all comers. Here I encountered every kind of resistance.’
Clearly, ‘difficulties at lower levels’ arose; men responsible or on the spot, with a sense of duty, are
not easily to be convinced that such a course as the one now proposed is right. Apart from that, the
reference to ‘proper weapons’ is striking. At that moment the weapons of the British Army had been
lost in France and the British Island was almost unarmed (I well remember the long search I had to
find a forty-year-old pistol, which none other would buy, in a second-hand shop in Exeter). Mr.
Churchill records that our armies were unarmed except for rifles, that the whole country contained
barely 500 field guns and 200 tanks of any type or condition. Even at the end of September he was
urgently appealing to the American President for 250,000 rifles ‘as I have 250,000 trained and
uniformed men into whose hands they can be put’. In these circumstances the urgency shown in
July to give arms to the Zionists in Palestine seems at least premature; no doubt the Arabs would
have held it to offend against ‘the hitherto accepted dictates of humanity’, to quote a phrase fired by
Mr. Churchill against one Hermann Goering.
In August and September, as England’s ordeal began, Mr. Churchill repeated his exhortations, and
later volumes of his memoirs than I have may continue the narrative. I feel sure the beleaguered
British people at that time were unaware that the arming of the Zionists, which in effect would
mean the transfer of Arab Palestine to new owners, was so important in their affairs; they fancied
their own plight to be a total and paramount-preoccupation. Anyway, Political Zionism did not at
that moment succeed in its next objective. Responsible men at lower levels or at the scene delayed
the downhill process for a while (the further services of Lord Lloyd might have been beneficial to
all concerned, including the mass of Jews, but he died in 1941). By the war’s end, however, the
thrall was upon first rank politicians in America and the second fatal deed was perpetrated.
Dr. Weizmann went to America in 1940, 1941 and 1942. He found among ‘the top political leaders’
real sympathy for Political Zionism, but, once more, had trouble with ‘the experts in the State
Department’ (professionals are often troublesome; they know something of the subject). Before his
third visit, he says, Mr. Churchill told him, ‘I would like to see Ibn Saud made lord of the Middle
East — the boss of the bosses — provided he settles with you … You might talk it over with
Roosevelt when you get to America. There’s nothing he and I cannot do if we set our minds to it.’
Dr. Weizmann found powerful friends for Zionism, including particularly Mr. Henry Morgenthau,
Junior, whose name attaches to the Plan for Germany which, in effect, bisected Europe and made a
third war as certain as any human event can be. President Roosevelt was (in 1942) ‘completely
affirmative’ about the Zionist ambition in Palestine (though Dr. Weizmann does not clearly record
whether he definitely accepted the proposition that ‘the consent of the Arabs’ should not be sought).
By this time politicians everywhere were competing for Zionist favour like men struggling for the
last seat on a band wagon and the British working man’s Socialist Party issued its admirable
pronunciamento: ‘Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out as the Jews move in. Let them be
handsomely compensated for their land, and their settlement elsewhere be carefully organized and
generously financed’ (seldom have a few words so precisely described the opposite of the
subsequent event, when the Arabs were encouraged with bombs to move into destitution).
In September 1943 Mr. Churchill again gave ‘friendly reassurances’ to his visitor and in November
1944 was ‘very specific’, speaking of partition and of the inclusion of the invaluable Negev in the
Zionist State now generally, though privily, proposed. Mr. Churchill also urged Dr. Weizmann,
who was going to Palestine, to stop in Cairo and see Lord Moyne, one of Mr. Churchill’s colleagues
who was showing improved comprehension of Political Zionism (Dr. Weizmann was unable to
comply because the news of Lord Moyne’s better behaviour apparently was not known in Palestine,
so that he was killed by Political Zionists in Cairo only two days later).
Then the Second War ended and the real trouble began. Just before it closed President Roosevelt,
on his homeward way from Yalta, received Ibn Saud on his cruiser. What he said is astounding, if
his words are rightly quoted by the New York Times of October 19th, ‘No decision will be taken
with regard to the basic situation in 1945: Palestine without full consultation with both Arabs and
Jews’ and ‘I would take no action in my capacity as Chief of the Executive Branch of our
government which might prove hostile to the Arab people’.
He died immediately after saying this. The fascinating question is, did he say it? If he did, it was in
the nature of a deathbed conversion, return to grace, or perception of truth by revelation; the
remainder of this century would look very different if ‘top line politicians’ habitually spoke so and
acted accordingly. He died, but had he lived his political health might never have been the same
again, those words once spoken. His confidant, Mr. Harry Hopkins, gives a different version, much
more in keeping with the present pattern of politicianship. He says President Roosevelt demanded
that Ibn Saud admit more Jews into Palestine and was ‘wholly committed publicly and privately and
by conviction’ to his demand.
In the private commitments, at least, one may believe in these times, and whether Mr. Roosevelt
underwent a last-moment illumination or not is but a collector’s item, for his successor accepted
those commitments. At the decisive moment American strength was used to set up the Zionist
State, as British strength was used exactly thirty years before to proclaim the National Home. The
war’s last shot was scarcely fired before Mr. Truman requested Mr. Attlee to infuse another
hundred thousand Zionists into Palestine (which thus became the first culprit to be punished for
Hitler’s acts!) The British Government recoiled like an executioner appalled. It was politically
impossible for the first Socialist Government to begin its rule by an attack on Arabs, and thus
blatantly to demonstrate that the war-against-aggression was one for aggression and against
defenceless small peoples (even though support of Political Zionism and readiness to drive Arabs
from Palestine was by this time the final test of a good British Socialist, too! In 1939 a Socialist
leader, Mr. Herbert Morrison, wagged his finger at an errant Socialist, Mr. Malcom Macdonald,
who sought in his responsible office to avert the catastrophe in Palestine, and mournfully reminded
him that he was once a Socialist!)
The deed demanded was just too crude and in practice infeasible. Thereon, with the case of a neat
change of gear, the American Republic was used to supply the desired acceleration. In this matter
the junior Mr. Henry Morgenthau was ‘of particular assistance’, Dr. Weizmann says (the father was
resolutely anti-Zionist; this is an instance of the way in which Political Zionism, once fathered on
all Jews by Gentile politicians, widened its influence among Jews of the rising generation). The son
gave his name to the disastrous Plan for Germany which both Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill
initialled and then publicly regretted; however, Mr. Truman followed his counsel in this matter. In
Palestine the Political Zionists increased their attacks on the British until only two alternatives
remained; to suppress them or get out. The British Government got out.
In New York the body called The United Nations was set up. As individual politicians nearly all
had shown submission to Political Zionism, equal subservience was to be expected from any
corporate body. On November 19th, 1947, just thirty years after the issuance of the Balfour
Declaration (when Dr. Weizmann waited at the Prime Minister’s Secretary’s office in case the
British Cabinet at its decisive meeting should need him), President Truman received Dr. Weizmann
‘with the utmost cordiality’.[7] That same afternoon the American delegation at the United Nations
received telephonic instructions from the President to support Political Zionist claims.
Ten days later the United Nations, at American insistence but on legal or moral authority unknown,
announced that a Zionist State would be set up in Palestine after the British withdrawal. At the last
the American and British Foreign Ministers sought to avert the deed. The resignation of Mr.
George Marshall (who told American Senators it would be like touching off the powder keg of a
new world war) was not long delayed. Mr. Bevin as I write still politically survives a fierce
campaign of vengeance, waged in newspapers throughout the world as well as the couloirs of
politics. (He has since died.)
This event gave the lie to every moral principle ever stated by Western politicians as the issue of
the two wars. The Arabs were inoffensive people who harmed none, had no part in causing either
war, were not connected with the events in Europe which were supposed to have caused those wars,
were themselves oppressed, and as the direct result of each war had their land thrown open to an
invasion, mockingly sanctified in the second case by a self-elected body claiming to represent The
World. The Arabs may be as good or bad as most or worse than any; that is not the point. The
moral principle was publicly derided and crowned with thorns on each occasion and the lesson for
the future is plain. If it is not clear enough, the utterances of top line politicians unmistakably point
to a continuance of the process. They were even more enthusiastic than those of the First War about
the National Home.
Mr. Truman (whose presidency was undreamed of by Americans when the Second War began),
said in 1949 that the day when he recognized the Zionist State, in reality his creation, was the
proudest of his life; how many Americans could have imagined that in 1941? Mr. Churchill, having
accused Mr. Bevin of ‘prejudice against the Jews in Palestine’, described himself in 1950, in a
message to the Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as ‘an unfaltering Zionist who
always had the interest of the Jewish people at heart’; how many British Islanders realized that in
1939 or 1940 or understood what it implied? Mr. Anthony Eden (in whom Mr. Churchill sees the
next Conservative leader in England) told Jewish ex-service men (according to the Jewish Agency)
that the emergence of the Jewish State was the most memorable event in the recent history of the
world; what would British folk have thought had the matter been foretold to them in that form in
1939? General Smuts told a Zionist gathering in 1950, ‘I bracket the Battle of Britain and the
resurrection of Israel as among the human highlights of our epoch’; yet the one was resistance to
invasion, the other invasion of a small and helpless land.
Obviously the future will not improve while this exotic ambition keeps its hold on leading men in
Western countries. Only increasing public alertness and a new breed of politicians could bring a
change for the better. The affairs of nations are passing out of the hands of nations and entering (as
Rabbi Elmer Berger wrote) ‘the labyrinthine and devious ways of international politics in a part of
the world where political intrigue and secret deals are a byword’. One has the feeling of being in a
dark room where tentacles delicately wave and grope, and with sure grasp fix on a man, another
man, and another man …
General Smuts seems to me especially representative of a type now universal in all English-
speaking countries. He, Mr. Churchill and Dr. Weizmann were all born about the same time. His
life shows a line undeviatingly Christian, patriotic, conservative and reasonable save for the
inexplicable championship of Political Zionism. He fought with his South African Boers against the
British (Mr. Churchill was in the opposing ranks) and afterwards led the cause of Anglo-Boer
reconciliation. The Boers did not want so quick a friendship with England and resented him; the
British South Africans were glad to live under Boer leadership if the great family were preserved.
Neither group knew that the Zionist cause (then unknown to the masses) was deep in his heart. His
purpose in entering Mr. Lloyd George’s Cabinet in the First War was to plan a campaign in
Palestine and, if he could, to command it! His approved biography says he later regretted refusing it
and wonders ‘whether he would not prefer, to the memories he has, the thought that he entered
Jerusalem’. In 1948 he said the Zionist triumph had been the one highlight in an era of tragedy and
failure and ‘I am proud of the fact that the last important act while I was Prime Minister was the
recognition of the State of Israel’. In 1949, to a Zionist audience, he said ‘I am happy to have been
associated with at least one thing in my life which has been successful, and I am glad that South
Africa has had a small share in the realization of the great vision’.
South Africans, like the Americans and British, never knew that this was ‘the great vision’. General
Smuts, like American presidents and British prime ministers, became caught up in paradoxes. He
told his obdurate Boers that ‘hankering after the past can lead in the wrong direction’ but supported
Political Zionism, which invoked a past two thousand years older and beyond all proof. A Boer
politician, when General Smuts visited London for a Zionist gathering, said, ‘He flew six thousand
miles for the purpose of honouring Jewish nationalism and then he flew back six thousand miles to
continue undermining South African nationalism’; this applied equally to almost any leading
American or British politician. (Nor was General Smuts always so good a counsellor as British
people thought; during the collapse of France he urged that those last few fighter squadrons should
be sent there, which in the event saved the British Island and what else was saved by the Second
War.)
When all has been examined the workings of General Smuts’s mind, and that of all such leaders,
remain in this, matter incomprehensible. He said, ‘There never was such nonsense as this idea the
Jews have that they are an exclusive, pure race. They are the most impure race on earth. I doubt if
they are even Semites.’ Yet he joined in the clamour against ‘anti-Semitism’ and called it ‘the
manifestation of a canker which eats into the very heart of Christianity’. If such a thing as an anti-
Semite exists he might be one, for if the Jews are not Semites the Arabs undoubtedly are and he
disliked them; his approved biography attributes ‘racial predilections’ to him and he said: ‘I never
saw any romance in the Arabs … They are a bitter, recalcitrant little people.’ (A curious incident in
his career occurred in 1920 when a sect of African Natives, who adopted the Jewish ritual and
called themselves Israelites, encamped to celebrate the Passover at a place called Bullhoek and
refused to leave it; these Israelites stood fast when troops sent by General Smuts’s government
advanced against them, nearly three hundred of them, and one white trooper, being killed.)
General Smuts appears to be more closely identified with Political Zionism than even any other
Gentile politician of these four decades. When he was made a Freeman of the City of London in
1917 (while the Balfour Declaration was in incubation) he publicly recommended the ‘interesting
military and political possibilities’ of a Palestine campaign and spoke of ’silent, invisible forces’. He
habitually used words of mystic fervour about Political Zionism and once said, ‘Nothing in the
whole bloody history of the human race compares with the history of the Jewish people’. Today the
bloody expulsion of the Arabs from their native Palestine may be compared with another bloody
expulsion in antique and barbaric times. However, he thought what has been done is just: ‘It is not
because I love the Jews better than other people that I support them; I love justice.’ He became, as a
Zionist writer said, ‘the Jews’ leading and accepted, perhaps their only active and consistent friend
among the statesmen of the world’ (in both these quotations ‘Jews’ should apparently be read as
meaning ‘Political Zionists’).
Today these beliefs of General Smuts are clearly held by leading politicians in all English-speaking
countries, and this will not quickly change because they have established successions loyal to this
supreme, if mystic, theory. General Smuts’s political heir was a Mr. J. H. Hofmeyr, who told
Zionists, ‘Hold fast to that Zionist ideal whatever happens, for it alone can save Jewry and the
world’. Mr. Hofmeyr died but the succession passed to another Zionist champion. The same
situation exists in America and Britain. President Truman upheld Political Zionism like Presidents
Roosevelt and Wilson. Mr. Churchill, when he became Prime Minister, supported it like Mr. Lloyd
George and Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Eden has avowed his respect for it. The thrall has spread to all
other English-speaking lands. During the struggle at the United Nations Assembly to give a mock-
legality to the partition of Palestine the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand delegations
suddenly joined with General Smuts’s South African one in ardent support for Political Zionism and
in opposition to hard-pressed Britain; this was the first great dissension between Commonwealth
nations, which in physical danger always immediately united.
The overriding allegiance spreads to all parties in all these countries, too, so that in this matter the
English-speaking voter in America, Britain or throughout the Commonwealth countries has no
choice. At the last American presidential election the Democratic candidate, Mr. Truman, displayed
the Zionist State as a trump card, but the Republican one, Mr. Dewey, appeared to think Zionist
favour equally essential and at a Jewish ceremony ‘donned a skull cap for the first time … since he
sang in a synagogue choir as a young man’. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, a leading Democratic
personality, became vice-chairman of the ‘National Christian Committee of the United Jewish
Appeal’ (which collects funds for Political Zionism); Senator Robert Taft, leader of the Republican
Party, became another vice-chairman.
Both parties appear to believe the approval of Political Zionism so important that they will do
anything to court it. If they win an election, they think they have won through a mass of votes
‘delivered’ by the Zionist interest; if they lose, they increase their efforts to gain that vote at the next
election. Exactly the same situation exists in England. When the Second War ended (during which
the Socialists spoke of ‘encouraging the Arabs to move out and the Jews to move in’) the masses of
Jewry swung at once to Socialism. Suddenly Jews vanished from the Conservative benches; more
Jews than ever before appeared on the Socialist ones and in the government (so that certain
measures which cut deeply into the ancient British traditions of liberty and property were
associated with the names of Ministers of Russian-Jewish origins).
Immediately the other party, the Conservative, redoubled its efforts, not to overthrow Socialism,
but to gain Zionist support. It said it would support the Socialist Government’s foreign policy, but
when the Palestine dispute arose it moved a vote of censure on the Foreign Minister (Mr. Bevin)
and Mr. Churchill’s followers received the imperative three-line admonition to vote for it; in this
matter alone was the government’s foreign policy opposed (and a Conservative emissary appeared
in Palestine). In 1950 a new election came and was fiercely fought in a neck-and-neck contest
which brought the Socialist majority down from 140 to 6 seats.
Yet that Isomeric struggle, so eagerly watched by the world, was essentially bogus; I believe the
Conservative Party management would risk losing an election rather than put up one candidate
anywhere who does not accept Political Zionist supremacy and may have lost this election for that
sake. The proof, I hold, is the case of Mr. Andrew Fountaine.
The deadliest word of our generation is ‘Adviser’. ‘Advisers’ are now innumerable in British and
American public affairs and where they appear power usually passes from the responsible figures to
irresponsible ones whose motives cannot be scrutinized. The Conservative and Socialist Parties
both have ‘advisory committees’ at headquarters which approve or reject candidates (again, the
situation is similar in America). If voters ever learn of and become curious about these bodies they
are briefly told that ‘the best man’ to represent them is thus selected; the mysterious advisers know
better than the voter what he wants. (I first noticed during the war that the Conservative Party was
sending avowed Political Zionist supporters as candidates to by-elections. Often the constituencies
resented this foisting of strangers on them but were overborne; I knew a resident Conservative
working-man of the highest record and quality who was thrust aside in this way.)
In 1950 one candidate, who was highly thought of by the voters of Chorley, fought without official
Conservative approval, which was firmly denied him. This was Mr. Fountaine. In 1946, when the
Conservative Party was in very low water, he was a delegate to the annual party conference at
Brighton, and demanded that the party should ‘root out’ subversive influences in British public life.
As at the touch of a button the reproach of ‘anti-Semitism’ came from the platform (I told the
beginnings of this story in From Smoke to Smother, 1948) but the feeling of the meeting was
strongly with Mr. Fountaine and the party-management agreed to ‘an inquiry’. The promised report
(at the next conference, in 1947) ignored the demand for action to ‘root out’ and blandly said the
party-management ’should take certain steps to ensure that the conspiracy is closely studied’.
That was the familiar end of that, but not of the vendetta against Mr. Fountaine, on whom a taboo
was laid. The ‘advisory committee’ implacably rejected him in 1950, though what he proposed was
‘Conservative policy’, so that he fought alone, receiving some 22,700 votes and losing the seat only
by 361. With the backing of the party-machine he would obviously have won it, which would have
reduced the Socialist majority to 4. If there were 10 other such cases (I should think there might
have been more) the Conservatives threw away the election in this manner. If Mr. Fountaine stands
again he will presumably have to fight the party-machine anew. However, immediately after his
sensational feat at Chorley vigorous moves were begun from party-headquarters to have a Political
Zionist put up as official Conservative candidate at the next election. The one good sign in all this
was the extent of the voters’ revolt.
In about seventy years Political Zionism, a movement of Russian Jews, has established its power
over the masses of Jews everywhere and, through Gentile politicians, over the English-speaking
nations, the major policies of which are clearly conditioned by it now. It was a thing born of an
innate hostility to Gentiles which no act of Gentile mankind could alter. The success achieved can
only be understood by considering the conspiratorial beginnings, among several million Russian
Jews who lived self-secluded among Gentiles, who at school, university and in their careers
pursued the Zionist ambition parallel with and through their education and professional activities.
There is a science of mind-control and these men proved masters of it. They achieved dominance
over Gentile politicians and split world Jewry as by atomic fission, reviving in it the doctrine of a
peculiar people with a Messianic mission overriding other loyalties, overruling native interests,
overlording public affairs.
The propagandist approach to the masses has worked wonders. The minds of men in the mass seem
like screens, on which headlines produce an impression. In America, Mr. Albert Jay Nock thought
that the increase in literacy (that is, the ability to read words) went parallel with a decrease in
comprehension of what was read or what went on. In evidence he compared the American
periodicals of today with the much superior ones of forty years ago (a comparison apt in England,
too). For a decade at least the majority of Americans were as fearful of the words ‘anti-Semitism’ as
an Alabama darkie might be of the evil eye; at that point, thought, reason and discrimination failed.
Particularly, the words ’six million Jewish dead’ seemed to atrophy the power to think. (A relevant
reminiscence: at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, after the First War, Dr. Weizmann maintained
that ‘as a group the Jews had been hit harder by the war than any other’. People still living may
recall the huge casualties on all sides, the ruin in France, the massacres in Russia, the inflation-
years in Germany and compare their sum with this statement.)
Mr. Nock may be right; a bench of Kentucky farmhands or Sussex gaffers, before they could read,
probably would caustically have dismissed such rhetorical extravagances as this one of the six
millions. During the Second War I noticed that the figures of Jewish losses, in places where war
made verification impossible, were being irresponsibly inflated, and said so in a book. The process
continued until the war’s end when the figure of six millions was produced (and the Arabs were
immediately chastised). A transparently worthless estimate was not only used for mass-delusion
through newspapers, but even given official status! If by any turn of chance the American and
British representatives who bandied it about at Nuremberg were ever called to answer for it, they
might be hard pressed for a defence, for any impartial tribunal might tear it to pieces.
No proof can be given that six million Jews ‘perished’; proof can be adduced that so many could not
have perished. Some casualties in war can be precisely ascertained. Thus in six years the huge
expenditure of human and mechanical effort by the Germans, Italians, Japanese and lesser foes
killed 824,928 British, Commonwealth and American fighting-men, merchant sailors and civilians
(Mr. Churchill’s and General Eisenhower’s figures). The reader may calculate how much more
effort would have been needed to kill seven-and-a-half times as many people, separately. He might
consider, too, the output of energy entailed, in the form of desk-work, detectives, constables,
vehicles and the like, in the capture of one wanted man, say a felon or one who has lost his
memory, and multiply that by six millions. Certain mathematical rules govern destruction on such a
scale; you need pursuers, jailers, prisons, camps, transport, executioners in numbers inconceivable.
The Germans would have needed, behind the fronts, armies perhaps ten times as great as all they
disposed of, for such butchery.
In a matter where nothing is verifiable, one thing seems sure: that six million Jews were never even
contained in German-occupied territories. Many Jews left Europe before the war began and the
only large communities which remained were in Poland and Russia, countries from which
trustworthy statistics are not to be expected. Many of those in Poland apparently welcomed the
Communist invasion of 1939 and went into the Communist zone. A Jewish observer, Mr. Levine,
returning to America from Russia in 1946, said. ‘At the outset of the war, as we all know, Jews
were among the first evacuated from the western regions threatened by the Hitlerite invaders and
shipped to safety east of the Urals.’ He said these privileged ones amounted to two millions.
Yet this massive assertion about the six millions was used by politicians in the highest places, by
prosecutors at Nuremberg, and habitually by mass-newspapers which in lesser matters would print
no statement unverified! In truth nobody outside Political Zionism knows how many Jews the
world contains, partly because Jewry has always included a section which avoids prominence in
statistics, partly because the numbers in the Soviet areas cannot be ascertained, partly because
Political Zionism has been able to obscure population-movements. Rabbi Elmer Berger wrote in
1946, of the Jews in Poland and Russia, that he did not know how many had survived ‘and no one
knows’. Since President Roosevelt’s time track has been lost of the increase of Jewish population in
America; good observers believe it now to approach eight millions. In England the figure is
similarly unknown; ‘It is impossible in the absence of official statistics to do more than make an
intelligent guess … The exact number of Jews in Britain remains a mystery’ (the Zionist Record).
In my judgment the figure of six millions was a grotesque exaggeration which an unintimidated
press would never have published, save to expose. In this matter the charges brought against the
German leaders at Nuremberg cannot be substantiated, yet they were apparently presented as ‘the
crux of the case’ (Captain Liddell Hart, alluding to the trial of Field Marshal von Manstein) and the
men condemned were executed on the Jewish Day of Atonement.
If ever freedom of debate returns to the world, a board of impartial accountants might be set to
study this matter of the six millions, stated by leading politicians of the West, and their
representatives at Nuremberg, to have perished. Until then, all the student of the times can do is to
try and trace their fate in such figures as are available to him. Figures, however, are curious things;
though inanimate, they have a kind of life of their own, and if stretched too far may, like elastic,
inflict painful stings and surprises.
Thus the seeker after truth today can only turn to those publications which, for many decades, have
built up a reputation for supplying the most authentic and carefully scrutinized statistics in all
important matters of the day. The chief of these, in the United States and Britain respectively, are
the World Almanac and Whitaker’s Almanac. In a question so shrouded in mystery as that of the
number of Jews in the world they, with all others, are thrown on Jewish statistics, and they both
state that the ones they present are supplied by Jewish sources, which thus are responsible for them.
Thus the World Almanac for 1947 (two years after the war’s end) printed such Jewish-supplied
‘estimates’, which gave the world’s population of Jews in 1939, when the war began, as 15,688,259.
The population after 1945 was not then given. The World Almanac for 1950 and 1951, however,
still quoting these Jewish estimates, gave the Jewish population of the world in 1939 as 16,643,120.
The Jewish estimators gave no reason why they then found the Jewish population before the war to
have increased by a million; it is a large difference in a relatively small figure. In the 1950 and
1951 editions figures for the Jewish population of the World after the war were given: according to
these estimates they were 11,373,000 (1950 edition), or 1l,303,350 (1951 edition).
If those estimates were correct, that would show the disappearance, if not of six million Jews, then
of something over five million (assuming that the amended figure for 1939 is correct, and not the
earlier one; in the second case, something over four million Jews disappeared, in these estimates).
Whitaker’s Almanac for 1949 and 1950 gives total estimates, from similar Jewish sources, which
approximately correspond with those printed in the World Almanac for 1950 and 1951. These state
that the Jewish population of the world in 1939 was 16,838,000 and in 1948 11,385,200, a
reduction of nearly five and a half millions.
But when the detailed estimates given in both almanacs are more closely compared a large
discrepancy becomes apparent. The estimate of the Jewish populations of separate countries, given
in Whitaker’s, for 1949 and 1950, adds up to much more (13,120,000) than the total figure
(11,385,200) given for the world! If this were correct, and if the larger figure for 1939 is also the
right one, the decline in Jewish population would be something over three and a half millions, or
two and a half if by any chance the lower estimate for 1939 were nearer the truth.
Where the real truth is, no man can ascertain, for the truth lies buried in those parts of the world
where (as such careful publications wisely state in other sections) no trustworthy statistics can be
obtained: Soviet Russia and the Eastern European countries forced into the Soviet area in 1945.
Thus the perspiring student will at length find, when he examines the figures for separate countries,
the main reason for the large difference between the estimates published by the World Almanac and
by Whitaker’s. In the Jewish estimates for separate countries supplied to these publications, the
Jewish population of the Soviet Union after the war is given at 2,000,000 (in the World Almanac,
1950 and 1951) and 5,300,000 (in Whitaker’s, 1949 and 1950)! The first figure makes the sum, of
vanished Jews, work out; in the second one, most of them reappear! That the second one is, in fact,
the truer one is suggested by the fact that Whitaker’s breaks down the Soviet population of Jews
into cities, giving very large Jewish communities to such traditionally Jewish cities as Odessa and
Kieff.
If these figures, as I believe, come much nearer to the truth, the figure of six millions, on the
strength or weakness of which such grave things were done, was one which would not bear any
scrutiny by independent investigators. It can never be so examined unless and until the Iron Curtain
lifts or is smashed. However, if the estimates supplied to the World Almanac for its 1950 and 1951
editions were correct, they mean that only 2,600,000 Jews now exist in all Soviet Russia and the
three traditional countries of large Jewish population in Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary and
Rumania) which at Yalta were forced into the Soviet area. Before the war this area contained
between nine and ten million Jews, as far as can he estimated. According to the Jewish authority I
quoted above Jews in it were removed from the regions threatened by Hitler in 1939 and ’shipped to
safety east of the Urals’. He gave a figure of two millions, apparently for the Eastern European
countries alone, without reference to Jews already in Soviet Russia.
Finally, as an illustrative footnote to this excursion into statistics, in 1948 the New York Times (a
Jewish-owned newspaper) published what was offered as an authoritative, statistical article, which
stated that the figure of the Jewish world population for the year 1948 was between 15,700,000 and
18,600,000.
In a time of such propagandist darkness the lot of the uneasy patriot is hard, in America as in
England. Political Zionism openly shows its power, in ways wounding to native pride, in New
York. Crowds of New Yorkers, flocking to hear a famous German pianist, were rudely thrust back
by Zionist and Communist pickets who said he once played for Hitler; two hours before the concert
was due to begin the Department of Justice (given untrammelled powers in such matters by the
President) ordered him to leave the country. A Jewish magistrate refused to try young Zionists who
threw refuse at a visiting Foreign Minister (Mr. Bevin). A rabbi, marrying a young woman twice
found guilty by twelve jurors of Communist espionage (and at liberty pending appeal) wished her
happiness with the words: ‘Beyond mere conjecture there is neither proof nor certainty as to any act
of disloyalty on your part.’
Literature and the drama come under the Zionist ban, which pauses at no name. The Merchant of
Venice is in practice banned in New York (as by law in Moscow). The film of Oliver Twist was
long taboo because the lesser of two rogues is a Jew and in this case the veto extended also to the
American and British occupation zones of Germany; what Germans may see, hear or read is also
coming under the spell of New York. The Gentile Americans number over 140 millions, but have
no free choice from the mind’s menu; the dishes are first tasted by the court official, as it were, and
only those approved by him appear on it.
The press for years was almost closed to any reasoned criticism of Political Zionism, in editorial,
news or letter columns. (In London, too, analogous conditions obtain. When a Zionist film about
Palestine was shown there, and taken off at public protest, three leading London newspapers
reported the matter at length without once mentioning the words Palestine, Zionists or Zionism.)
For nearly a decade there was in daily reality a very powerful censorship in this one matter. It
produced widespread symptoms of mental claustrophobia among the American population and in
1949 began to relax a little under the stress of public exasperation, intuitive if not reasoned. It
remains strong and produces a kind of mental twilight which is either that of dusk or dawn and
must get better or get worse. Either the politicians of America (and Britain) will enact laws of lese-
majesty in some form, to crush public discussion of the origins and aims of Soviet Communism and
Political Zionism, or a more reasonable regime will return and the two great countries will take
their destinies in their own hands again. I believe most Jews would welcome that, but at present
they are all classed as Political Zionists by the leading Gentile politicians (rather as Mr. Churchill
lumped all Germans together as ‘65 millions of these malignant Huns’).
In this twilight period an important part is played by numerous semi-secret organizations which
play on the fear of ‘anti-Semitism’. They have public names and offices but are semi-secret in their
methods of intimidation. A chief one is the Anti-Defamation League, originally a fraternal Jewish
lodge but now a body of vast resources and endless activities. Its own description of its work is that
it ’sends literature to various groups, works through the radio, the motion-picture industry and other
media; subsidizes speakers’ bureaus and publishes periodicals, pamphlets and books (from comic
strips to literature), fostering goodwill and condemning discrimination, whether social, political or
economic, encourages movements, meetings, programmes of all kinds, and uses every advertising
media from newspaper advertisements to billboards’. This, it says, ‘amounts to a highpowered
educational programme geared to reach every man, woman and child every day of the year’. The
Anti-Defamation League reported that in one recent year it transmitted 216 broadcasts a day, that it
influenced 1900 daily newspapers with a circulation of 43,000,000, apart from rural, foreign
language, negro and labour publications, that it placed 330,000 books in public libraries, as well as
9,000,000 pamphlets ‘tailored to fit the audience’, and distributed 40,000,000 comic-strip books to
children and servicemen. Through approved lecture bureaus it presented approved lecturers to
30,000,000 people, and much more.
This is the public side of its work, and plainly represents the indoctrination of public opinion on a
scale greater than any commonly practised by regular political parties. The lesser-known aspect of
its activities is the keeping of dossiers and black lists. Its spokesmen (some years ago it claimed
150 public relations committees in as many cities and 2000 key men in a thousand more) have been
known to call on editors and publishers to persuade them against publishing material displeasing to
it. The fear of losing advertising revenue is strong in America (as in England and the
Commonwealth countries). This League for some years employed a man of many aliases who
published a book ’smearing’ thousands of people with the words ‘Fascist’, ‘Anti-Semite’ and the like.
Three American courts convicted him of libel and one judge said, ‘He would do anything for a
dollar’. Under the complicated State laws the book continues widely to circulate.
Similar organizations, open in name but semi-clandestine in method, exist in other countries. Signs
of their activity in England have been such things as the sudden deletion (until protest was made) of
the term ‘Christian name’ from British registration forms in favour of ‘forename’ (’Christmas’ and
‘Xmas’ might he analogous cases), and the servile and superfluous announcement of twenty-one
East End candidates at the last British election that they ‘pledged themselves to combat racial and
religious prejudice’ (the creation of the non-existent thing).
In France, again, a body called The Centre of Jewish Contemporary Documentation has been
formed. The title suggests dossiers and black lists and inevitably awakens memories of Ochrana
and Gestapo practices. A reception was held in London in 1950 to enlist the help of Anglo-Jewry in
its work, so that its activities may now be spreading through England. It was first formed in France
during the German occupation ‘to gather documents and information’. This collection (the speakers
said) ‘now contained 75,000 documents of great importance’ and ‘valuable use’ was being made of
these; the French delegation at Nuremberg ‘depended entirely’ on these documents and if the Centre
had not existed ‘the Nuremberg Trials would not have had the same result’. Thus the source of such
charges as that about the six million dead is seen; the repute of American, British and French
justice is involved.
All this gives the picture of a growing mechanism of power and indirect control. I said that for a
decade at least the result has been almost to eliminate public discussion of Political Zionism, but
that statement has one important exception. The ban runs for Gentiles only. Discussion is
boundlessly free in the Zionist press. The perusal of this is somewhat humiliating to the Gentile
reader who fears the hold which Political Zionism has gained over his leaders, for he finds in it all
the arguments he would himself advance and would like to hear from his own representatives. The
Zionist argument dominates, of course, but prudence, doubt, common humanity and reason all
come to the word. The Zionist press contains all that is disallowed, in daily practice, in the Gentile
mass-circulation sheets. It gives the true picture of world Jewry in renewed ferment, seeking the
truth and its own soul.
The Zionist newspapers reminded me of a Jewish village in Ruthenia in 1938, where a man said to
me, ‘These Jews are the most disputatious people in the world among themselves, but at the
approach of a stranger they close together like a sea urchin at the touch of a human finger’. In these
publications I found the Jew who felt guilt because of the treatment of the Arabs; to whom the
ruination of these poor peoples’ homes and homeland by those who complained of homelessness
was an awful thing. Next to him was the Jew who was tormented by the revived curse of dual
loyalties; he did not want to become an Israeli or a Zionist-in-exile, but to remain a good American,
Britisher, Frenchman or German. Next came the Jew who wanted it both ways, that is, to remain in
the Dispersal and be a good Israeli; and the Jew who said, ‘I supported Zionism as a Jewish
Nationalist but now the Zionist State is here, for any who want to go to it, I am done with it; I
propose to live as a Frenchman’. There was the Jew who wanted the new State to be one of a tribal
religion, more exclusive than Hitler’s, the Jew who wanted intermarriage with Gentiles, and the Jew
who wanted it to be atheist and communist. There was a Berlin Jew who said five thousand of his
fellow Jews there were saved by Germans and he would live nowhere else; Jews who longed to
return to Europe and could not; Jews who hated Europe and adored the Communist destroyers of it.
There were replies to all these opinions; the debate was open and endless.
Again, I found in the Zionist newspapers the open truth about the cry of ‘anti-Semitism’. I knew it
was a transferable label, moved about by the Political Zionists from one country to another in order
to keep the Jewish masses on the rack; no Gentile newspaper would print that, but here it was
candidly avowed. A leading Yiddish writer said the Political Zionists were keeping up the clamour
of ‘anti-Semitism’ in order to undermine the morale, faith and hope of Jews in their American
home. He said the Zionist intention was to keep Jews constantly on edge with the scare of anti-
Semitism, not to let them forget the Hitler horrors, and to spread doubts, fear and despair about the
future of Jews in America. Every manifestation of anti-Semitism, he wrote, was seized on and
exaggerated to create an impression that American Jews stand on the brink of a catastrophe and
that, sooner or later, they will have to run for safety.
He proved this by quoting a Hebrew writer in Jerusalem, who said, ‘Upon us, Zionists, now lies the
old responsibility of constantly raising the hair of the Jewish people, not to let them rest; to keep
them for ever on the edge of a precipice and make them aware of dangers facing them’ (’raising the
hair’ means ‘making the flesh creep’). This method was explained again by a Zionist publication in
Paris, which said that, while American Jews lived in a fool’s paradise, they would never agree to
regard that country as a place of transit for Israel, so that they must be ‘propagandized’. By this
means they would in time be brought to the Zionist State (where, as another Zionist writer
recorded, a ‘pronounced anti-Goyism’ was emerging). As a companion piece to these candid Zionist
statements, the Gentile mass-circulation sheets in 1948 and 1949 began to inform their readers that
‘anti-Semitism’ was rearing its head in the Soviet Empire (a quaint conceit). The Zionist newspapers
quietly instructed their better-informed readers not to take these Gentile babblings too seriously; the
Soviet remained the Jews’ best friend in the world.
These quotations show that if the Jews of the world are not to be allowed peace, it is not the Gentile
masses who will disturb them, though perhaps the top-line Gentile politicians in their submission to
Political Zionism and its falsely Messianic aim of ruling the world from Jerusalem. As to that, the
student of these things, as he goes along, may make astonishing discoveries about the age of the
ambition and the strange Gentile places where it has earlier shown itself. In Salt Lake City, for
instance, I found a Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church issued in 1845.
This, in a chapter headed Armageddon, spoke of a battle in Palestine and of a victory of the Jews,
attended with ‘the personal advent of Messiah’, which will ‘change the whole order of things in
Europe and Asia … The Jews as a nation become holy from that day forward, and their city and
sanctuary become holy. There also the Messiah establishes his throne and seat of government.
Jerusalem then becomes the seat of empire, and the great centre and capital of the world.’
I could not ascertain if this is still part of Mormon belief or why; however, it is Political Zionism.
Then I learned that President Lincoln, two years before his murder, received a mysterious visitor,
said to have been a Canadian and a Gentile, who told him that, though the freeing of slaves was a
good deed, ‘There could be no peace in the world until the Jews were emancipated’ (they were then
as much emancipated as those among whom they lived). This visitor also canvassed the Political
Zionist ambition. Mr. Lincoln, who had the Civil War on his hands, turned the matter aside (later
generations of politicians found time to listen to such callers amid even greater preoccupations).
Relevantly, one of the American Communist leaders tried in 1949 said Mr. Lincoln’s election in
1860 was ’supported by American Marxists and international Marxists’, thus placing the Civil War
in the planned sequence of revolutionary and destructive ones of these 160 years, as I do; that
strengthens the belief that Mr. Lincoln’s conciliatory attitude towards the South at the war’s end led
to his murder by Marxist forces.
Then at the revivalist meetings in Denver, held under the sign of the cross, if in a rather unorthodox
spirit, I was given a pamphlet which said, ‘Just as God’s earthly people, having finished their
wilderness journeys, were about to enter the land of Canaan, a prophecy was uttered which has
been fulfilled ever since and will have a fulfilment until Gentile dominion is overthrown and the
Lord establishes His Millennial Kingdom, with the Jews at the head of the nations’.
The thing is aged, many-headed, many-coiled and has many lairs. What does it all amount to now?
The dream of ruling the world from Jerusalem cannot seem too audacious today to men who have
already achieved so much. The Zionist State has been formed. It has about as many inhabitants as
Albania or Honduras and less than Haiti, yet Napoleon in all his glory was not treated much more
deferentially. Clearly its size and might cannot make the world quail, yet no politician in any
English-speaking country seems willing to take office or mount the hustings without salaaming
towards it and, by symbolically washing his hands of ‘racial discrimination’, undertaking to obey its
will. Some now even openly confess themselves ‘Zionists’. The strength of this new State, so tiny in
size, plainly lies in the English-speaking countries themselves, which are still the strongest in the
world; in the power of the purse, which it wields in them; and in the ability to control masses
through the control of politicians and parties. In peace this new State fills the people with unease
and in war, begun no matter where, it will clearly form the core of conflict.
It was established by violence and can only expand by violence. As to that, the past is a signpost to
the future. In 1919 Dr. Weizmann said, ‘We do not aspire to found a Zionist State … We cannot
hope to rule in a country in which only one-seventh of the population at present are Jews.’ The
Zionist State was set up in 1947 and a Zionist majority imposed by arms. In 1948 the first Zionist
Premier said the new State contained barely ten per cent of the world’s Jews and the ingathering of
the exiles represented ‘the real content of Zionism’. In 1950 the Zionist Foreign Minister said, ‘A
State has risen. It seems to be the crowning piece of our historic edifice … No, my friends, that
crowning piece of the edifice must be turned into a new foundation for the still greater structure of
the future’ (and another speaker in reply said ‘Let us bind ourselves this evening, not only to the
people of Israel, but to the whole of world Jewry, whose aim is a greater State of Israel’).
Politicians of the English-speaking countries have often demonstrated, implicitly or explicitly, that
they will accept any expansion of the Zionist State, if it is presented to them as an accomplished
fact, or help such expansion with arms in future. The United Nations dictate of November 29th,
1947, which set up the Zionist State, assigned Jaffa, Acre, Ramleh, Lydda, Western Galilee,
Beersheba and other areas to the native Arabs. The Zionists took these areas and when Count
Bernadotte was sent to redress the matter he was almost casually murdered. The United Nations
paid little heed to this killing of its emissary. While these violent annexations were in progress Dr.
James MacDonald (later to become the first American Ambassador to the Zionist State) went to
South Africa and there told a Zionist audience he did not think Israel was bound by the Partition
limits (typically, the only protest against this, seen by me, came from a Jewish objector, who
demurred that, deeply grateful as he was for Dr. MacDonald’s friendship for Zionism, ’such
statements at this juncture do not make it easier to reach a settlement in Palestine with the Arabs;
and this must remain our considered policy, if disaster is not to overtake us’).
Two years later, in September 1949, the American Foreign Minister, Mr. Dean Acheson, asked the
United Nations to place at least Jerusalem, the Holy City, under international control, and this body
agreed. The Zionist Premier forthwith announced that Jerusalem would be made the capital of the
Zionist State and a mild request from the United Nations to revoke this decision was answered by
the establishment of the Zionist Government in it and its proclamation as the Zionist capital. To Dr.
James MacDonald, now American Ambassador, fell the paradoxical part of declining to attend, as
the official representative of his country, the meeting of the Jewish Community Council in
Jerusalem at which the United Nations request was derisively rejected, the Zionist Premier
remarking that ‘The fate of the Holy City was settled three thousand years ago, when it was made
the Jewish capital’. In June 1950 the United Nations agreed that ‘it was impracticable at this time to
proceed with the statute for the internationalization of Jerusalem’.
In March 1950 the Zionist press reported that the Zionist army was larger than ever before and
included a small army, navy, air force, paratroopers ‘and other surprises’ (this for a State of a
million beings). They announced that ‘impartial American aid, followed by a substantial American
development plan under President Truman’s Fourth Point, would avert further trouble’. At that time
British and American arms were not supplied to the new State and the junior Mr. Franklyn
Roosevelt, at a Zionist gathering, demanded that none should be given to the neighbouring Arabs,
while in New York also a Zionist rabbi accused the American Government of ‘helping to keep the
Jewish State weak in face of the mounting threat of the rearmament of the surrounding Arab
countries’.
In April 1950 Mr. Dean Acheson stated that the arms embargo was lifted for the Zionist and Arab
States alike though only for ‘weapons of self-defence’. In June a spokesman of the British Foreign
Office said Israel was ‘the dominant military power in the Middle East and had greater air-fighter
strength and tank-power than all the Arab States put together’. Also in June a high American
Government official announced that Israel was being furnished ‘with arms of American
manufacture which the Arabs do not possess’. Simultaneously both great countries declared that no
country in that area would receive arms if it displayed ‘any aggressive intentions’. Aggressive
intentions usually appear at the moment of aggression and the past history of this matter seems to
make it improbable that the Zionist State would be declared an aggressor, or an Arab one the victim
of aggression, in any imaginable circumstances.
All this, in my reading, plainly adds up the continued submission of American and British
governments to the Political Zionist ambition, and to the preparation of Armageddon, leading to the
Millennial Kingdom. However, in which sense the Millennial Kingdom will dawn events have yet
to show, and I do not believe this strangling servitude of the English-speaking peoples, through
their political leaders, can last much longer.
*** Chapter Three
COMMUNISM PENETRANT
Soviet Communism penetrated into the edifice of the American Republic like the woodworm into
furniture (which if unchecked will cause a massive sideboard to collapse). This happened also in
England and the Commonwealth countries, that is, throughout the English-speaking area which is
the world’s last barrier against Asiatic rule. The extent of the rot is best shown by comparison with
an event: of thirty-seven years ago.
On March 2nd, 1913, the Austrian Military Intelligence opened two suspicious looking packets
addressed to General Delivery (Poste Restante) at the Vienna Central Post Office from Eydtkuhnen
on the Russo-German frontier. They contained banknotes worth $2700 (then about £540). They
were re-sealed and detectives were set to watch who should call for them. Eighty-three days later,
on May 24th, the postal clerk’s alarm buzzer called the waiting detectives and they hurried to the
post office, just in time to see a taxicab disappear. The trail was thus lost at the start but by chance
they found the taxicab later and learned that its passenger had been taken to a café; in the cab they
found the small leather sheath of a pocket knife. The trail faded again at the café, which was empty,
but by a third chance they heard that a gentleman had recently been driven from it to an hotel.
There the porter told them of four newly-arrived guests. They gave him the sheath and he asked
each of these, as they came downstairs, if it were his. One claimed it.
He was Colonel Alfred Redl, Chief-of-Staff of the Eighth Austrian Corps at Prague. The detective
rang the Political Police, who called Military Intelligence, of which Colonel Redl earlier (from
1900 to 1905) was Director. His successor, Captain Ronge, went to the post office and obtained the
form which had to be filled in by persons collecting mail. He then returned to Military Intelligence
and compared the writing with that of a notebook, containing the department’s most secret
information, bequeathed to him by Redl on transfer to Prague eight years before. The handwriting
was the same: Redl’s.
Meanwhile Redl was being shadowed by detectives. Apparently suspicious, he tore up and threw
away some papers. A detective collected and joined the pieces and took them to Captain Ronge,
who found they were postal receipts for a money-packet sent to an officer of Uhlans and for letters
to addresses in Brussels, Warsaw and Lausanne. These addresses appeared in a black list of foreign
espionage agents prepared by Redl when he was in charge of Military Intelligence. The Chief of the
Austro-Hungarian Secret Service, von Ostromiecz, was informed and at once went to the
Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Conrad von Hoetzendorff.
Redl was visited at midnight in his room by von Ostromiecz and three officers. He bowed and said,
‘I know why you have come. I have spoiled my life. I am writing letters of farewell.’ He was given
a revolver and left alone. He wrote, ‘Levity and passion have destroyed me. Pray for me. I pay with
my life for my sins. 1.15 a.m.; I will die now,’ and shot himself.
When this happened the First War was but a few weeks distant. He may have changed its entire
course or even have caused it. His rooms in Prague yielded proof that he was a spy for Russia for
ten or eleven years. For a fortune, he sold the most secret Austro-Hungarian plans and also betrayed
Austrian agents in Russia to the Russians; to strengthen his position the Russians arranged for him
to ‘capture’ a Russian spy and expose a faked organization of espionage. Above all, he sold von
Hoetzendorff’s vital Plan Three to the Russians, who passed it to the Serbs. Time was too short to
improvise entirely different plans and the Austro-Hungarian setbacks in the first campaigns were
heavy, against an enemy apparently much inferior. Further, by substituting false papers for genuine
ones procured by Austrian agents he misled both the Austro-Hungarian and the German general
staffs about the number of new Russian army corps. Count Albert Apponyi, the Hungarian
statesman, said long afterwards that, had the Austro-Hungarian and German general staffs known
of those new Russian armies, they could have prevented their politicians from driving them into the
First War.
Thus espionage and treason may have the direst results for nations. The vital comparison for today,
however, is that only a few hours elapsed between Colonel Redl’s call for his mail and his death.
Once found out, no courts or judges were needed then; a man caught in such a deed did not wish to
live. The same standard prevailed, pretty well, in all countries west of Asia. The case is different in
1950, and this difference seems to me the measure of what has happened to the English-speaking
family since Communism emerged in Asia (inside the Communist Empire espionage and treason
remain summarily punishable by death in peace or war).
This is what might happen if someone like Colonel Redl were detected in America, for instance,
today. First, his responsible superiors might refuse to listen to evidence against him and he would
remain at his post. If challenged he would not ask for a revolver but deny everything pointblank.
He might rise in rank and gain greater access to national secrets. After five, or ten years uneasy
patriots or penitent fellow-transgressors might force some public attention to the case. He would
repeat all denials and his superiors would angrily rebuke his accusers as hysterical witch-hunters
and Red-baiters. The investigators, thus finding themselves the accused, might produce proof!
Would the culprit then collapse and the stable be cleansed? By no means; leaders of the party-in-
power, judges, churchmen, newspapers and broadcasters would raise even louder clamour that he
was a martyr. At last a trial might become unavoidable, and, proof brought, the verdict be of guilty.
Would even that be the end? No; pending the final, supreme court utterance the chorus of ‘witch-
hunt’ would become louder yet. The whole process might occupy more years than the hours that
passed between Colonel Redl’s detection and his death.
That points to an immense spiritual weakening of the West, more dangerous for the future than
even the geographical changes which its leaders connived to bring about. If it continued the
outcome of Armageddon would clearly be the victory of the old serpent.
Before the First War a traitor was, if not unknown in America or England, then rare enough to be
the exception that proved a golden rule. Faith and loyalty were, both by inherent instinct and long
teaching, matters of each man’s private pride. Even reason preferred a candid allegiance to a secret
disloyalty, which makes life an unhappy falsehood. In the 1920s, however, young people found
themselves in a world where this suddenly changed. A method was found to corrupt them without
their even being conscious of the gradual process, to the truth of which they only awoke in middle
age, if at all, when they often could not retreat. They made no deliberate choice between loyalty
and treachery; caught first in the outer strands of a web they felt then but a gentle constraint, and
only later the lethal clutch. Their leaders were at fault; they were entrapped in ‘the deception of
nations’.
In America Communist penetration began at the end of the First War and continued after it.
Misleadership at the top took the form of official encouragement, and the stealthy process
continued step by step. In 1925 Congress, at some prompting, refused grants to the Department of
Justice for investigative work. In 1931 a Congressional Report stated, ‘The attitude of the War
Department up to now has been that, Communism being a political question, it was not the function
of the Army to maintain detailed knowledge of the activities of the Communists and it therefore
relied on the Department of Justice to furnish the necessary information. The fact is that the
Department of Justice has had no power or authority from Congress to obtain the facts regarding
Communist propaganda and activities since 1925 and of necessity the War Department has been
ever since hopelessly in the dark regarding these revolutionary activities directed against our
domestic institutions.’ Thus Military Intelligence and the Department of Justice were both
hamstrung. That left only Naval Intelligence, which in 1935 issued ‘a comprehensive survey of
Communist activities in the United States’. Thereon President Roosevelt, prompted by a body
called ‘The National Conference of Jews and Christians’, publicly forbade further Army or Navy
reports.
The only remaining defences against Communist penetration were the efforts of individual
officials, officers or civilians who continued vigilant and stored up information for a better day.
Such men, publicly unknown, exist in all countries, and in England may have succeeded in keeping
the Navy and Air Force at a level which, by a hairsbreadth, saved the island in 1940.
The support given by high places to Communism in America may remain for ever unexplained.
Given this help, the picture of the time was favourable for its success among individuals. True, its
aims were beyond doubt. Its leaders, from Stalin and Lenin back to Karl Marx and Adam
Weishaupt and far beyond, all plainly stated that its object was to destroy Christianity and
legitimate authority everywhere; that it existed long before Marx’s Communist Manifesto of 1848
but until then as ‘a secret society’; that, it must use ‘the Trojan horse method of penetrating
established governments and communities’ and ‘work illegally behind the screen of legality’; that its
goal was ‘the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions’ and so on.
Nevertheless, the white folk have a weakness (unless it is a strength) for wanting to see an evil
thing proved before they will believe it and many remained in doubt. They were encouraged by
their leaders to think that the Communist Revolution was the spontaneous uprising of oppressed
Russians, which it was not, and the suppression of American and British official papers about that
event helped delude them (I then fell for that deception and only realized the truth when I saw
Soviet Russia and studied Communism there and elsewhere). Above all, from 1917 to 1939
Communism (having been thrown out of Poland, Bavaria and Hungary by the peoples there in
1918-19) was contained in Russia.
The circumstances of that time, then, left much room for confusion, especially in young minds.
Strong national leadership, which could have shown them the right path, was denied them. In 1933
Mr. Roosevelt became President. Stricken by incurable bodily misfortune in 1921, he seemed to
have dropped out of politics and appears to have invested substantially in a resort, Warm Springs in
Georgia, where he went to seek better health. In 1928, however, he was induced to run as
Democratic candidate for the Governorship of New York by friends who took over his financial
preoccupations there, amounting to $250,000, and this led him to the presidency four years later.
His inauguration coincided with the bogus election in Germany by which, in the waning glow of
the Reichstag fire, Hitler clinched his hold on the Germans. Mr. Roosevelt’s first declamations also
were Wagnerian, if not Hitlerian. One of the familiar ‘Emergencies’ of our time was in progress and
Mr. Roosevelt (like many other politicians, who are repudiated by statesmen of the classic mould)
invoked it to claim ‘Powers’: ‘In the event that the national emergency is still critical … I shall ask
Congress for broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power
that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.’ America (like England,
though to a lesser degree of captivity) has never since escaped from those Powers. For twelve years
Mr. Roosevelt ruled the Republic in that spirit, and in this time its foundation-timbers were much
gnawed by termites, so that its major problem today (like England’s) is the undoing of much that
was done.
In finance, an era of prodigious deficit-spending was begun (to the cry of ‘Down with the deficits’);
Mr. Roosevelt spent three times as much public money as the entire line of presidents from
Washington to his predecessor. A fundamental rule, laid down by the Communist Manifesto, for
destroying society is ‘A heavy progressive or graduated income-tax’. Mr. Roosevelt brought the
Republic three-quarters of the way to the brink where Britain now stands, that at which the oily
remaining step leads to confiscation. Mr. Robert Sherwood, his admirer and ghost-writer, says this
cornucopian expenditure ‘offered more juicy plums in the way of political patronage than had ever
before been known in peacetime’.
In foreign policy, his first act was to recognize the Soviet Empire, in 1933. The Soviet in return
undertook to refrain from subversive activities in America and these immediately increased on a
scale un- known before anywhere; Communist publications announced that the aim was to
overthrow the Republic by force and ‘recognition has not changed that’. The process was clearly
prepared for years before and now, as at the opening of a sluice, a stream of picked men flowed
into every department of the Republic’s life. During the subsequent war a second and greater stream
was released into places prepared by the first permeation.
The American masses remained as unconscious as if they were drugged of this planned infusion of
Communism into the arteries of their State. It was an alien injection at the source, which swept
many native Americans with it in its later reaches, and I have room here for only a glimpse of one
aspect of it. During the Second War American broadcasting was put under the control of a body
called the Federal Communications Commission. This set up a sub-department called the War
Problems Division, and complaint about it grew loud enough for a Congressional Committee of
investigation to be appointed. This committee’s Chief Counsel, Mr. Eugene L. Garey, said half-way
through the war: ‘This division was formed for the avowed purpose of unlawfully liquidating all the
radio personnel in the foreign-language field that did not meet with its favour. A real Gestapo was
created and a lawless enterprise was launched … In a time of war we are asked to place our trust in
lately arrived aliens whose sole claim to trustworthiness is that because they have been unfaithful to
old allegiances they will be faithful to new ones. The voices of these aliens go into our homes and
the unwary are led to believe that they speak with authority and official approval. They even censor
our Christmas and Easter religious programmes and tell us what music we may hear. Apparently
we can still read the news in our press but we can only hear what these aliens permit to us. What
next medium of communication will receive their attention? Obviously, the press … These
destroyers of free speech are alien in birth, education, training and thought … if the radio can thus
be controlled in August 1943, there is nothing to prevent that control from slanting our political
news and nothing to prevent the colouring of our war aims and purposes when peace comes.’[8]
The last sentence accurately foretold the subsequent event. The subtle control did extend to other
means of communication and then to high policy; the results of the war proved it. In 1913 President
Wilson wrote, ‘We know that something intervenes between the people of the United States and the
control of their own affairs at Washington’. Whether he or Mr. Roosevelt, as war-time presidents,
found what that something was and yielded to it, one cannot judge. Several Americans told me that
a president’s one concern is to remain president, and if that is so considerations of national interest
are likely to suffer. Mr. Roosevelt had cause to know what Communism meant. He had to send
troops to break a Communist strike at a Californian arms plant (before the Nazis and Communists
fell out, of course). Also, he had at that period the experience, unique among American presidents,
of being booed on his own White House lawn, when he told Youth Congress delegates gathered
there that if any of them were Communists (apparently they all were) ‘you have no American right,
by act or deed of any kind, to subvert the Government and Constitution of this Nation’.
Nevertheless, his harshest rebukes, to the end, were kept for any who urged him to check
Communist penetration. Mr. Martin Dies (chairman of the Congressional committee chiefly
concerned, who was later ’smeared’ into oblivion) was angrily told, ‘There’s no one interested in
Communism, no one at all. There is no menace here in Communism’. Thus conditions were created,
ideal for the subversion of a State by the agents of a foreign power.
The chief victims of this twilight period in America were young people, usually native-born
Americans, who fell into the clutches of the trained organizers, mostly aliens. How were they to
know if treason was evil, if their leaders made a treasonable party legal? They found themselves in
a bewildering world, of which Canterbury today is perhaps the microcosm. There the Archbishop
teaches the Christian lesson and the Dean upholds atheist Communism. Obviously the
Congregation must think that the house of God is but a debating-place where anything may be
right, and this situation exists in all English-speaking countries now. If the great political,
educational and religious shepherds differ so, the littlest lamb may know as well as or better than
they. So it is today in many churches and more universities, especially American universities. The
old notion was that university presidents, rectors and fellows knew more than the students and their
teaching rested on certain principles, those of the Christian faith and of the American Constitution.
The universities were themselves the products of Christian growth and their members imparted
wisdom in that sense.
Now the thing has been turned into its opposite. The rule of ‘free and untrammelled inquiry’
prevails; at the educational bargain-counters religious, agnostic and atheist professors compete, the
denials of science are opposed to the beliefs of faith, the economic bedlam of Liberalism, Socialism
and Communism dominates the classrooms, and from the pandemonium the pupil may choose what
he prefers. The inference for the student is plainly that his instructors know nothing, as they all
vary, and he must seek the truth when he leaves the university’s argument. The teaching corps
d’élite, carefully guiding young men towards a good life, has been disbanded; in its place is an
anarchic chaos from which young folk emerge leaderless into the world. The spiritual distress
which is so palpable in young Americans today begins at this source. The emergent graduate often
falls into bad hands and only learns the truth, which wise instructors might have shown him, after
ten or twenty years of bitter disillusionment.
Such a man was Mr. Whittaker Chambers, whose story epitomizes the decline of the West, under
bad leaders, during these four decades. What happened to him could not have befallen any man
before 1917; for thirty-three years now it has occurred to many men in many countries. The root
evil is the legalization of the Communist Party in non-Communist countries, which is akin to
legalizing murder in civil law; its prohibition is the only way of protecting young people from such
ordeals as that of Mr. Chambers. As long as political leaders insist that an avowedly destructive
party is legal young men and women will join it and find themselves forced into degradations
which, for lack of instruction, they cannot foresee. For this their national leaders, who declaim
against the assassin they set free, are in truth responsible.
In 1924 Mr. Chambers left a New York university contemplating suicide, which was natural
enough. He was exceptionally gifted and, had his feet been set on the right path, might very soon
have become a famous writer. Instead, the university years left him spiritually adrift and morbidly
despairing and in 1925 he joined the Communist Party, then a semi-underground one almost
completely alien in membership. He joined the New York Daily Worker and earned the praise of
Moscow by his editorship of its Letters Page (today Letters Pages in the majority of newspapers
claiming to be Conservative, Republican, Socialist, Democratic, Liberal or Independent are used by
planted men to spread Communism through the selective presentation of correspondence; they
should be read in that light). He gained further approval in Moscow through some revolutionary
short stories, full of rifle volleys and bleeding proletarians, which were produced as plays by
Communist groups in many countries. He was thought important enough for higher tasks and in
1932 was made editor of the Communist New Masses.
Then the screw was given the first turn. Communist emissaries from Moscow told him he was ‘to
go into the underground’; if he refused he would be expelled from the party. He accepted, was
given the usual ‘cover name’ (’Bob’ at that moment) and disappeared from the face of America as if
he were dead. With wife and baby he moved about the land, constantly taking new identities and
acting as transmission-man for stolen documents, money, and instructions from Moscow, and
organizer of cells and underground groups. One method of changing identity was to search the
obituary notices of newspapers for a man born in the same year, write to the Board of Health for a
copy of his birth certificate, and with it to obtain a passport in the dead man’s name from the State
Department. Clearly centuries of experience lie behind such devices; they could not be quickly
invented.
Two years later he was drawn a stage further into the net. In 1934 Mr. Roosevelt was president and
the intensive penetration of the Republic’s organism was in progress. Mr. Chambers was introduced
by another Moscovite emissary to a junior government official about his own age, Mr. Alger Hiss.
An acquaintance thus began which led to developments more astounding than the affair of Colonel
Redl. Mr. Hiss, another bewildered university graduate of the 1920s, was brought into government
service in 1933, when Mr. Roosevelt was setting up the ‘Alphabetical Agencies’, that is, bodies
known as the AA., FWA., TERA., RFC., and so on, all of which had billions to spend on Projects
supposed to spell death for the ‘Emergency’. Great staffs were being recruited and within these new,
unsupervisable organizations Communist infiltrants were helping each other towards the peaks of
power in the manner of mountaineers roped together. The key-men, at strategic points, were nearly
always of foreign birth or antecedents; the flies in the web were often young Americans. The
directors sat in Moscow with charts of the Republic’s government organization before them and
moved their followers into control-posts. Miss Edna Lonigan, an acute observer, wrote, ‘First the
network placed its economists and lawyers … Then it moved its men into public relations. As the
leaders learned more about the workings of the bureaucracy, they put their people into jobs as
personnel directors. Assistant directors proved even better for the purpose. These officials were
never in the headlines. But they saw the incoming applications; they could weed out those with
anti-Communist records, or ‘expedite’ those with key names and key experience to identify them …
The duty of the ablest Soviet agents’ (then) ‘was not espionage. It was to win the confidence of
those who directed policy … So, each year, the network moved its men into higher and higher
positions.’
Such was the true picture, now revealed, of the Republic in the 1930s as it moved towards the
Second War and, more important, the Second Peace; this is the reason for the shape that war and
peace took. ‘When war came the veterans of eight years of conspiracy reached the highest policy
levels. Always an invisible force was pushing the favoured higher’ (Miss Lonigan).
Mr. Chambers and Mr. Hiss became ever deeper involved. In Washington Mr. Chambers was
ordered, by the Moscovite emissary, to form a ’special group’ including several persons in rising
government service; among them were Mr. Hiss and a Mr. Harry Dexter White, who was secretary
to Mr. Henry Morgenthau junior (of the Plan for Germany). At this time the visible Communist
Party in America was negligible, maintained in that small open form (as in other countries) to
delude the public into believing this was all Communism amounted to. In fact, each new member of
‘Carl’s’ group (Mr. Chambers was now just ‘Carl’, a trusted Communist agent, to the others) formed
a fresh cell around him in the various government departments and agencies. These young
Americans, of course, thought ‘Fascism’ was the opposite of ‘Communism’ and could only be
destroyed with the help of Communism. Their Moscovite masters -wished them to think that and
their own political, religious and educational instructors had not enlightened them.
By 1936 all these young men (Messrs. Chambers, Hiss and White were but three of a great number)
were involved beyond turning back. They were ordered to obtain secret documents from the State
Department, where Mr. Hiss was by this time employed. Mr. Chambers acted as courier. The
documents were either copied on Mr. Hiss’s private typewriter or the originals were given to Mr.
Chambers to take to Baltimore to be microfilmed; in either case the originals were back in their
official files by next morning. This happened under the nose of an Assistant Secretary of State who
fourteen years later remembered wondering why the ‘trade agreements division’ of his Department
constantly asked for secret material that had nothing to do with trade agreements!
At that point the Moscovites used a final device of entrapment which appears in all these affairs.
Communist Moscow does not bribe its agents with thousands, as Czarist Moscow did Colonel Redl.
For its purpose the smallest thing is enough, a bottle of whisky, a few dollars, a fur coat. The
victims are so encoiled that they do not desire, and would rather refuse such tokens, but the object
is incrimination, not reward. Once they accept something, they are hopelessly committed and at that
stage Moscow will not take nay. Mr. Hiss and Mr. Chambers each received the kiss of death in the
form of a Bokhara rug. The paltriness of the gifts in these cases somehow adds to the captives’
ignominy.
Once a week for a year Mr. Chambers took the military and diplomatic secrets of the Republic, and
of Powers friendly with it, to the Moscovite agents. For fourteen years he had paid the penalty of
the confusions implanted in his mind, at its most impressionable stage, by his university experience
and his political leaders. Now awakening came. One day, ‘with the terror of a Catholic
contemplating mortal sin’, he read Tchernavin’s account of Siberian labour-slavery, I Speak for the
Silent. When he finished it his Communism was finished. After losing fourteen years he realized
that ‘Communism is a form of totalitarianism, that its triumph means slavery to men wherever they
fall under its sway and spiritual night to the human mind and soul’.
In 1938 he went underground in a different sense. First he bought a shack on a hilltop near
Baltimore, whence he could watch all approaches. Then he took a vital precaution. He collected
one more batch of documents from Mr. Hiss and had them microfilmed in Baltimore, but then,
instead of conveying them to the Moscovite agent in New York, he disappeared with them, and his
wife and family, into the shack. A few days later, in the hope of safeguarding his family if he were
killed, he deposited this package with a relative in New York. Its contents, revealed ten years later,
showed that Moscow must have known nearly as much of the most vital military and diplomatic
secrets of the West as if they were its own.
After a year, in 1939, he felt secure enough to resume life as Whittaker Chambers and obtained a
post with Time magazine. He was eaten with remorse but could not bring himself to inculpate men
he liked, such as Mr. Hiss, until August 26th, 1939, when the news of the Hitler-Stalin pact
exploded. Then this quiet man realized that he had purveyed the innermost secrets of the West, not
only to Moscow but probably to Berlin as well! He could not remain silent but feared to go to the
State Department, so much permeated with Communists. He tried instead to reach President
Roosevelt and to that end dined with an Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Adolf Berle, on
September 2nd, 1939, when Stalin was about to join Hitler in destroying Poland. Mr. Chambers
told his story and was later informed, he says, that Mr. Berle went to the President and was told ‘to
go jump in the lake, only in coarser language’. In following months repeated efforts were made to
have the matter investigated, notably by a Jewish journalist, Mr. Don Levine, and Mr. William
Bullitt, a former Ambassador to Russia, went personally with it to President Roosevelt but was
equally rebuffed.
There the matter might have ended but for a series of astounding chances, occupying many years.
While the Second War went on Mr. Chambers rose to Senior Editor of Time, and Mr. Hiss (though
ignorant of foreign countries) advanced to assistant to the head of the Far Eastern Division; special
assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations; Deputy Director of the Office of Special Political
Affairs; and Presidential Adviser!
In this last capacity, in 1945, he accompanied the dying President to Yalta and helped draft the
proposals for ‘unity governments’ in Eastern Europe which in effect abandoned that area to the
Communist Empire (of course, no ‘unity government’ containing Communists would survive in
those countries without the Red Army’s presence, but that was also ensured at Yalta). Mr. Hiss
himself said he helped formulate the Yalta Agreement and he was a signatory. Mr. Stettinius (an
inexperienced man who was catapulted into the post of Foreign Minister at that time) wrote that he
consulted Mr. Hiss about the Polish boundaries, a part of the world unknown to both. Mr.
Roosevelt yielded to the Soviet demand for three votes at the United Nations against one American
vote at a moment when he was closeted with Stalin, an interpreter and Mr. Hiss. To later objections
Mr. Roosevelt replied, ‘I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I was so tired when they got hold of me.
Besides, it won’t make much difference.’ Mr. Hiss next appeared as General Secretary, at the
foundation meeting of the United Nations Organization at San Francisco and then, aged forty-one,
was put in supreme charge of the Office of Special Political Affairs (which, according to a leading
American newspaper, ‘was a major voice in department affairs and a vital factor in formulating
foreign policy’). At this moment Mr. Chambers’s information against him had been in currency for
nearly six years and the incriminating papers for that period had accumulated dust on top of a
disused service-lift in New York.
In November 1945 the Canadian spy case broke and the Canadian Prime Minister flew to
Washington to inform the new President, Mr. Truman, of grave matters in America, emerged from
the Canadian investigations. Mr. Truman was told of something which the published Canadian
Report did not disclose, namely, that Igor Gouzenko (the fugitive from the Soviet Embassy in
Ottawa) stated ‘the Soviet had an agent in the United States who was an assistant to the Secretary of
State, Mr. Stettinius’. Mr. Mackenzie King’s flights to Mr. Truman and Mr. Attlee led to no official
statement, public investigation or effective action in either country, although the Canadian Prime
Minister publicly spoke of the extreme gravity of his mission (he died in 1950 and ‘left unfinished
his last and cherished task: the writing of his memoirs’).
In 1946 Mr. Hiss, still rising, went to London as principal Adviser to the American delegation to
the United Nations General Assembly. However, the rumours about him were now becoming loud
and embarrassing to the authorities and his star paled somewhat. He gained financially in leaving
the American Foreign Service gracefully to become President, at $20,000 a year, of one of those
bodies which Work For Peace (usually in the strangest ways): the Carnegie Endowment for Peace,
in December 1946. The conservative-minded gentlemen who looked after this Endowment refused
to examine charges that Mr. Hiss might be a Communist and indignantly defended his ‘complete
loyalty to our American institutions’.
At this moment the two young men who left universities in the 1920s with minds ravaged by the
confusions there were both greatly successful. Mr. Hiss stood beside a dying president at a fateful
moment in the world’s story, in a place where he could give a decisive slant to world affairs. He
was a complete Communist, instructed when he entered government service to deny his
Communism, divest himself of all traces of his allegiance and avoid open association with it. Mr.
Chambers was Senior Editor of Time at $30,000 a year. He had made good the lost years
materially; spiritually he sought rehabilitation in religion, in the Christian and patriotic upbringing
of his children, and in work on his farm. Mr. Hiss was publicly popular; Mr. Chambers felt enmity
among his colleagues, who included many Communist infiltrants. The thought that the public
structure of his country was riddled with Communist agents tormented him. He still hoped to
expose that but still wished to keep the matter of actual espionage secret, for fear of harming men
whose perfidy was but his own earlier one.
Apparently he never would have achieved what he desired but for the first of a long series of
chances, which led to partial disclosures but not once to the lifting of the whole dark curtain. In
1945 a Miss Elizabeth Bentley experienced the same awakening as Mr. Chambers in 1938. She,
too, was in the ‘underground’. Hers was another story of adolescent confusions and, in her case, of
love. She was a New Englander of good old stock but at the same New York university came under
the same influences and was ‘a card-carrying Communist’ in 1935. Her enthusiasm being noticed,
she was told in 1938 to ‘destroy her card’, dissociate herself from open Communist associations and
begin more important work. Her chief was an East European and she fell in love with him. By 1941
she, too, was a courier for stolen documents and a recipient of information from people in high
places, which she passed towards the centre of the web.
In 1943 her chief died suddenly. Until that time she was ‘terrifically shielded from the realities
behind this thing’; now she came in direct contact with the Moscovites and by 1944 wanted
desperately to break loose. Like all such penitents, she thought official departments were full of
Communists and dared not go to one. She went finally to a local branch of the Criminal
Investigation Department (FBI.) in a small Connecticut city. She accused a Presidential Adviser, a
high Treasury official, a State Department man and numerous lesser government servants. Her
story was not taken seriously, but as she said she had an appointment with the First Secretary of the
Soviet Embassy, a Mr. Gromoff, detectives were set, apparently without enthusiasm, to watch the
meeting. Her masters were suspicious and at that very moment insisted that she take money, the
substantial sum of $2000. The detectives saw it change hands. No haste was shown but apparently
this incident helped move President Truman to approve the appointment of a Federal Grand Jury to
investigate Communist espionage (in 1947!). By this time Mr. Chambers’s information was eight
years old; a full report of the Un-American Activities Committee of Congress had lain on two
presidential desks for four years; the Canadian Prime Minister’s warning was eighteen months old.
Now the matter seemed about to become public in the genuine sense. However, dilatoriness may be
as effective as suppression. After a year, in April 1948, the Grand Jury still dragged on, while
newspaper readers wearily wondered what to make of reports, often compiled by persons whose
intention was to obscure the facts. Then the Grand Jury changed its course. The matter of espionage
was dropped and the investigation turned away from hidden Communism in public offices to the
question whether the open Communist Party ‘conspired to overthrow the Government by force’
(under that misleading head some open Communist leaders were later tried and sentenced). A
presidential election approached and wiseheads said the matter was to be sidetracked.
Another chance brought it back to the rails. There are scrupulous journalists, and Miss Bentley,
when she saw the stoolpigeons appear before the Grand Jury, communicated with one, whose
newspaper at long last published her story, though without names. This enabled the ever-thwarted
Un-American Activities Committee of Congress to sub-poena a number of persons involved. For
the first time the American public gained some inkling of what was involved. Its curiosity was then
foiled by another simple device. Nearly all the witnesses took advantage of a kink in American law
which enabled them to reply to questions, ‘I refuse to answer on the grounds that any answer I give
may tend to be self-incriminatory’. Mr. Harry Dexter White denied everything, like Mr. Hiss, and
with other witnesses turned the proceedings into an attack on the Committee’s ‘witch-hunt’. Once
more inquiry seemed checkmated. Then, by yet another chance, another journalist recalled stories
heard years before of statements made by a Mr. Whittaker Chambers. He urged the committee to
sub-poena Mr. Chambers and this was done, Mr. Chambers saying wearily to a friend, ‘I always
feared I’d have to cross this bridge, but I hoped not to’ (he had ever hoped to get the evil cured
without involving individuals in ‘the ultimate perfidy of espionage’).
Thus, after nine years, on August 3rd, 1948, Mr. Chambers was at last heard, and publicly heard.
He told of his efforts of 1939 to move the authorities to action, saying ‘At that moment in history I
was one of the few men on this side of the battle who could perform this service’. He named the
members of his former ‘group’, among them Mr. Hiss and Mr. White. He still did not mention
espionage, saying the purpose at the time ‘was not primarily espionage, but the Communist
infiltration of the American Government’.
The next day rabid vituperation broke loose in the newspapers, radio and Congress, against Mr.
Chambers, not Mr. Hiss or the others. Two days later Mr. Hiss was heard. He denied ever knowing
Mr. Chambers and any association with Communism at any time. He was presented in the press,
not only of America but of the world, for journalism was thoroughly permeated too, as a national
hero suffering martyrdom. The Committee was so greatly intimidated that it made to wash its hands
of the whole business, but one more chance prevented this’ A solitary committeeman doubted Mr.
Hiss’s denials and urged that a sub-committee be sent privately to Mr. Chambers to test by further
questioning his claim to have known Mr. Hiss.’ On August 7th, 1948, this sub-committee saw Mr.
Chambers and elicited such details of Mr. Hiss’s household and affairs that the proof, who was
lying, was plainly within reach. Nine days later, while a tremendous press campaign continued
against Mr. Chambers (he was called ‘mad’ among other things, a familiar Communist trick) Mr.
Hiss was called again. He repeated all denials, but his answers to questions, which confirmed Mr.
Chambers’s information in detail, showed that Mr. Chambers must have known him, his wife and
child and stayed in his house. On August 17th, 1948, they were confronted privately. Mr. Hiss,
after asking to hear Mr. Chambers’s voice and look in his mouth, decided he was a man called
Crosley who had once stayed in his house. He reiterated all denials about Communism and invited
Mr. Chambers to repeat his statements outside the committee-room, so that he could be sued for
libel.
That put the fat in the fire. Presumably Mr. Chambers, until this moment, felt certain Mr. Hiss
would not drive him into the last corner by sueing for libel, while Mr. Hiss was sure Mr. Chambers
would not dare to produce his proofs, or did not know he had them.
About this time Mr. Chambers resigned his senior editorship of Time (which in its columns treated
him not much more kindly than the other publications); this threw up the question, what motive
could a man have to sacrifice $30,000 a year and a brilliant career merely to defame another man
unknown to him? The second confrontation, on August 25th, 1948, was public. When it came about
Mr. Hiss was acclaimed by a host of friends throughout America; Mr. Chambers was a pariah.
When one after another of Mr. Hiss’s statements was broken down by evidence he denied having
made them and attacked Mr. Chambers’s character, as the press did outside. However, his friends
cut off his last escape, for some sympathizers inveigled Mr. Chambers to a microphone, apparently
to bait him, and dared him to repeat there that Mr. Hiss ‘is or ever was a Communist’, which Mr.
Chambers promptly did. Thereon even the public wondered why Mr. Hiss did not sue and after a
month he did, for $75,000.
Now Mr. Chambers could not turn back. He went to his relative in New York and retrieved the
dust-covered envelope from the disused service-lift shaft. It contained forty-seven copies of official
documents (proved to have been typewritten on Mr. Hiss’s machine), five rolls of microfilm which
recorded hundreds more documents in miniature, four memorandums in Mr. Hiss’s writing and five
in Mr. Dexter White’s. He took the papers to his lawyer and put the microfilm rolls in a pumpkin on
his farm, the top of which he removed and replaced. At the ‘pre-trial hearing’ Mr. Hiss’s lawyer
contemptuously asked if Mr. Chambers had ‘any documentary proof of your assertions’ and, after
ten years, the papers were produced.
The affrighted lawyers agreed that the matter was now too big for them and sent the documents to
the FBI. On December 8th, 1948, the Grand Jury, ageing fast, was once more convened. The
investigators retained little faith in it and what they had vanished when an inspired newspaper
announcement said ‘The justice Department is about ready to drop its investigation of the celebrated
Alger Hiss-Whittaker Chambers controversy’ (Americans often smile about the English gift for
understatement, but the word ‘controversy’ has seldom been outdone, or underdone, even in
England).
Even at that stage the matter looked likely to be shelved but for still another chance. A third
journalist cabled to the persistent Congressman who previously rescued it from oblivion that he
believed ‘new evidence’ was in currency; would the Committee reopen its investigation? The
Congressman replied that he would have the Committee’s hearings reopened ‘if necessary to
prevent justice Department cover-up’ and returned from a sea voyage to land by commandeered
coast-guard aeroplane. The thing was a race for time now, for the Congressional Committee itself
was about to die; an election was just over which increased the Democratic and reduced the
Republican strength in Congress and soon the Committee’s membership was to be rearranged and
its zeal curbed, like that of the Grand Jury. It was a matter of days.
The irrepressible Congressman, returned to Washington, had Mr. Chambers sub-poenaed to yield
up any other material in his possession. Mr. Chambers led the committee’s investigators to his
pumpkin patch and his last proofs, the five rolls of microfilm. They too contained the most secret
information of the American and other governments. American Ambassadors in London and other
capitals laid bare the minds of British and other Prime Ministers; private matters of military, naval
and air forces abounded, and graver things still. The prints made a pile over four feet high. Not all
these documents have been made public; even today their content is held too serious. They
represented perhaps a fiftieth part of the whole mass of information which was conveyed to
Moscow by this one group. Mr. White’s memorandums were read to the House of Representatives
and seriously incriminated himself and others. He died suddenly about this time, as did Mr.
Laurence Duggan (a former State Department official also named in the business) and several other
people. These deaths have never been publicly explained.
Of these documents an Under Secretary of State during the period concerned, Mr. Sumner Welles,
said that their release to unauthorized hands in 1938 would have been ‘in the highest degree
prejudicial, and in the highest degree dangerous, to the national interest’. To have delivered them to
a foreign power would have meant giving away also the means of breaking the most secret codes.
An Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Francis B. Sayre (whose testimony was not made public) said
in comment on press suggestions that the documents were not of the highest importance, ‘I violently
disagree, not only because of the substance of these cables, but because some of them were in the
highly confidential codes … And for these telegrams to get out at the time they did meant that other
governments could crack our codes and that, I think, is indescribably horrible.’ Another point, he
added, was that ’some of these cables reveal sources from which information was obtained, sources
planted in foreign countries. Now, you make a cable of this kind known, you cut off that source of
information from another country, and you kill what you have been working on for years’ (this is
what Colonel Redl did, too).
The Un-American Activities Committee now tried once more to force the government’s hand by
publishing the news of the pumpkin-plot papers and vague indications of their import. The Grand
Jury met, and on December 10th reported, sure enough, that it could find no grounds for an
indictment! It also attacked the Congressional Committee for its irritating zeal. Then the last chance
intervened. The FBI., with professional energy, ran down letters written by Mr. and Mrs. Hiss on a
typewriter since disappeared; they were found to have been written on the same machine which
made the copies of secret documents, between their abstraction and return. At that Mr. Hiss was
indicted for perjury, in denying that he furnished the copies to Mr. Chambers and that he ever saw
or talked with Mr. Chambers at relevant dates (under the American statute of limitations Mr. Hiss
was never charged with espionage or treason).
During this time the presidential office repeatedly referred to the matter as ‘a red herring’ or ‘a
hysterical outcry’ intended only to discredit the party in power. Just before the Un-American
Activities Committee passed from Republican control Mr. Chambers made a full disclosure to it of
everything he knew and had done in espionage. This material was suppressed by the new
committee; if published it might give the public mind a galvanic shock so great that purification
would be forced.
Even at this stage the matter might have ended in public acclamation for Mr. Hiss but for that
remarkable institution, the jury system. Mr. Hiss’s first trial, in May-July 1949, was conducted by a
judge who once referred to Mr. Chambers as ‘the defendant’; who was new on the Federal bench
and assigned himself to this trial; whose nomination was refused endorsement by the Association of
the Bar of New York City and by the Federal Bar Associations of the States of New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut; and was supported by only one group, the New York County Lawyers
Association, of the judiciary committee of which Mr. Hiss’s counsel was chairman. A justice of the
Supreme Court (which would have to try any ultimate appeal) offered himself as character witness
for Mr. Hiss. This was Mr. Felix Frankfurter, who was initially responsible for Mr. Hiss’s entry into
government service; his ‘young men’ of the Harvard Law School in the 1920s were numerously
distributed in it. However, eight jurors voted for conviction against four for acquittal. The evidence
was thought conclusive by most people and found so by the next jury, in 1950, which returned a
unanimous verdict of guilty.
Mr. Hiss was sentenced to five years imprisonment and this was followed by one of the most
remarkable incidents of the whole affair. On hearing the news the Secretary of State of the day, Mr.
Dean Acheson, called pressmen together to tell them, ‘Whatever the outcome of any appeal by Mr.
Hiss, I do not intend to turn my back on him’. To reinforce the solemn earnestness of his words, he
spoke them with an open Bible at hand! The case of Colonel Redl filled from first to last about
eleven hours; that of Mr. Hiss about eleven years, up to that point.
The Hiss case shows, that by this mid-century a massive power has arisen in the world which is
now able to corrupt and enslave young people in great numbers; secretly to sway politicians,
political parties and major actions of State policy; and to prevent, delay or mitigate the exposure
and punishment of treachery.
This state of affairs is not only an American one but exists, in varying degrees, in England and the
Commonwealth countries; that is, throughout the English-speaking area. In England no action
followed Mr. MacKenzie King’s warning of the extent of treasonable infusion in 1946 (if Dr. Allan
Nunn May was tried and convicted, this seems only to have been because his name emerged too
clearly in the Canadian revelations to be ignored). The case of Dr. Klaus Fuchs apparently became
public in 1950 solely because the FBI., in America, drew attention to it (it was less successful in
obtaining action about similar cases in America). Yet the British Government was warned in 1933,
according to Mr. Attlee, that Dr. Fuchs was a Communist, and Dr. Fuchs’s own counsel at his trial
said he was always ‘a known Communist and never pretended that he was anything else’. His name
was one of five sent to the British Government by the Canadian one in 1946, when ‘the
responsibility for further investigation rested on the British Government’ (the Canadian Minister of
External Affairs). Yet he was allowed to continue his vital work and was enabled, by the grant of
British citizenship, to take part in, and betray, atomic research work in America. In both the May
and Fuchs cases the judicial comments at the trials were ignored (the Lord Chief justice said, ‘Dare
we now give shelter to political refugees who may be followers of this pernicious creed and who
well may disguise themselves to bite the hand that feeds them?’ and he was rebuked by the Daily
Telegraph, Manchester Guardian and Spectator.) The Prime Minister said that, save by totalitarian
methods, ‘There were no means by which one could have found out about this man’, despite the
Canadian warning of four years before. Here is a span of seventeen years of treason unchecked, and
in the persons of Drs. May and Fuchs only the fringe of the destructive organism was touched. In
America (which received a list of 165 names from Canada) the President spoke of ‘hysteria’.
Newspapers of the most respectable pretensions join in obscuring the matter and preventing
exposure; possibly their owners and editors often do not even understand what goes on in their own
columns. Any man who tries to expose the evil is ’smeared’ as a ‘character assassin’, ‘Red-baiter’,
‘witch-hunter’ or ‘anti-Semite’ by newspapers from London to Manchester, Durban to Cape Town
and Johannesburg, Sydney to Auckland, New York to Los Angeles. The ’smear’ once attached to
the accuser, the facts of the charge or inquiry are suppressed or obscured. This is the result of the
systematic permeation of the press during the last twenty-five years by trained Leftist writers whose
allegiance is not publicly known. A leading American journalist, Mr. Arthur Krock, wrote of ‘The
increase in the number of syndicated writers from Washington of Leftist persuasions. Their
opinions and their versions of the facts and factors in public affairs reach millions of readers. And
like-minded radio commentators are skilled in the use of inflections and tones to produce desired
effects on listeners while adhering to a neutral text.’ In England, a case of this kind became public
when Reuter’s Chief Correspondent in Berlin resigned and transferred to the Communist sector,
then giving a propagandist interview to the Communist press there. He, too, was a known
Communist. The fact only became public, however, because of his public action, which was
apparently ordered for propagandist effect; and here, again, but one tiny corner of a great dark
curtain was lifted; the general condition remains.
I was travelling in America during the first Hiss trial and saw that the American public had no
means of judging the facts. Not only the judge referred to the accuser as ‘the defendant’. Leading
political personages, writers and broadcasters put it that way (Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Mr.
Chambers is on trial and not Mr. Hiss’), and I believe many people thought that the actual case.
American news papers in the great majority are assembly-line jobs. They are made up of ‘agency
reports’, prepared by the ’syndicated writers of Leftist persuasions’ to whom Mr. Krock referred,
which are widely distributed and universally used. The planting of a few trained men at these
sources of news-supply enables the whole stream of information to be infected, far outside
America; I satisfied myself that British and Commonwealth readers, too, could gain no authentic
view of the matter. Mr. Hiss’s case was not an isolated one. During 1949 and 1950 at least half a
dozen major scandals of the kind deeply alarmed masses of Americans, but with each new one the
clamour of ‘Drop the witch-hunt’ grew louder from leading public personages, newspapers and the
radio.
The Hiss case is symbolic. Mr. Chambers and Mr. Hiss in their opposed figures represent the inner
conflict which threatens to disrupt the English-speaking family as it awaits the final assault of
Asiatic barbarism, the last stage of Armageddon. In the 1920s they were the earliest guinea-pigs of
Communism in the Christian West. Now they stand, one an unregenerate Communist, ready to
conspire and lie to the last for the sake, or fear, of his alien allegiance; the other a regenerate who
would rather die than see that cause triumph, who has returned to religion as well as patriotism. The
dark background is the political heaven in which there was no joy over the sinner who repented, but
only praise and friendship for the one who did not. Somewhere in that clouded Olympus behind the
two men lies the shape of the coming decision.
As to that, the whole future of America is at stake. Dr. Charles A. Beard (in President Roosevelt
and the Coming of the War, 1941; published 1948) said, ‘At this point in its history, the American
Republic has arrived under the theory that the President of the United States possesses limitless
authority publicly to misrepresent and secretly to control foreign policy, foreign affairs, and the war
power. More than a hundred years ago, James Madison, Father of the Constitution, prophesied that
the supreme test of American statesmanship would come about 1930. Although not exactly in the
form that Madison foresaw, the test is here now – with no divinity hedging our Republic against
Caesar.’
If President Madison and Dr. Beard are right, the result of the test, under Mr. Roosevelt’s
presidency (he was elected in 1932) was that power in the Republic passed by penetration largely
into foreign hands, and did not leave them when the next president succeeded. The power of
American presidents has become so much infected before they use it that even a war against the
Communist Empire could be turned to serve the ends of these occult controllers; to judge by the
course of the Second War it would be diverted at decisive moments to serve the destructive plan in
some way. President Roosevelt’s actions, particularly at Yalta, show that. His own words, and
abundant other evidence, prove that he was not, alone and by himself, the wielder of power, but
that this was exercised by ascendant groups around him.
Whether he knew, all the time, some of the time, or none of the time, whither they were pushing
him may never become clear. Towards his end (when Mr. Churchill in the House of Commons said
‘The United States is now at the highest pinnacle of her power and fame’ and Mr. Sherwood, the
ghost-writer, urged the President to quote this in a speech), Mr. Roosevelt said, ‘What Winston says
may be true at the moment, but I’d hate to say it, because we may be heading before very long for
the pinnacle of our weakness’. The ’strange statement’ perplexed Mr. Sherwood but was a truer
picture than Mr. Churchill’s, whether Mr. Roosevelt realized this or was simply fey. Once Mr.
Churchill, with similar rhetorical inexactitude, spoke of ‘the hospitable and exhilarating atmosphere
of the White House and of the American nation, erect and infuriate against tyrants and aggressors’.
The American nation desired to be in that heroic posture, and perhaps thought it was, but under
President Roosevelt the reality was other than the appearance.
What real purpose did Mr. Roosevelt promote through the way he used his imperial powers? He
furthered the main principles of a plan for the redistribution of the earth published in 1942 (but
clearly prepared much earlier) by a mysterious ‘Group for a New World Order’, headed by a Mr.
Moritz Gomberg. What this group proposed was startling at the time but proved farsighted. The
main recommendations were that the Communist Empire should be extended from the Pacific to
the Rhine, with China, Korea, Indo-China, Siam and Malaya in its orbit; and that a Hebrew State
should be set up on the soil of ‘Palestine, Transjordan and the adjoining territories’. These two
projects were largely realized. Canada and numerous ’strategic islands’ were to pass to the United
States (the reader should keep these ’strategic islands’ in mind). The remaining countries of Western
Europe were to disappear in a ‘United States of Europe’ (this scheme is being vigorously pursued at
present). The African continent was to become a ‘Union of Republics’. The British Commonwealth
was to be left much reduced, the Dutch West Indies joining Australia and New Zealand in it. The
scheme looks like a blueprint of the second stage in a grand operation of three stages, and
substantial parts of it were achieved; what was not then accomplished is being energetically
attempted now.
Certainly President Roosevelt would not publicly have owned such a plan, but his actions all
furthered it. The fighting leaders in America (and in England) both thought they saw plainly what
they fought for; to sustain each other. On the eve of America’s entry into the war the Chief of Naval
Operations, Admiral Stark, prepared a memorandum which stated, as the major national objectives,
‘defence of the Western Hemisphere and prevention of the disruption of the British Empire, with all
that such a consummation implies’. The same dominant aims were declared in another
memorandum, jointly prepared by the two Chiefs of Staff, General Marshall and Admiral Stark.
The fighting leaders in England, and the political ones, in reverse circumstances would clearly put
‘the prevention of the disruption of the United States’ at the head of the list. President Roosevelt, the
potentate, in truth thought differently. In 1950 his speeches and papers were published; being edited
by a Mr. Samuel Rosenman, one of the three ghost-writers who prepared his speeches, they are of
especial authenticity. Mr. Rosenman records that, in answer to a journalist who asked if Mr.
Churchill expected the British Empire to remain intact after the war, Mr. Roosevelt said, ‘Yes, he is
mid-Victorian on all things like that … Dear old Winston will never learn on that point.’
Then what were Mr. Roosevelt’s private ideas about the British Commonwealth, his ally, and how
far did Mr. Churchill understand them? Mr. Roosevelt’s views seem to have been constant and
different from what was publicly supposed; he wanted to redistribute the Commonwealth, in
collaboration with the Soviet and to enlarge the Communist Empire. Mr. Churchill seems to have
moved about between incomprehension of this and sudden, irritable perceptions of it. Mr.
Roosevelt may or may not have understood the ultimate purpose of destroying all nations; his
experience was not great. Mr. Churchill, more widely travelled and deeply versed, knew it well.
That appears from his own words: ‘No sooner did Lenin arrive in Russia than he began beckoning a
finger here and there to obscure persons in sheltered retreats in New York, Glasgow, Berne and
other countries, and he gathered together the leading spirits of a formidable sect, the most
formidable sect in the world’; and, ‘The citadel will be stormed under the banners of Liberty and
Democracy; and once the apparatus of power is in the hands of the Brotherhood all opposition, all
contrary opinions, must be extinguished by death. Democracy is but a tool to be used and
afterwards broken; liberty but a sentimental folly unworthy of the logician. The absolute rule of a
self-chosen priesthood according to dogmas it has learned by rote is to be imposed upon mankind
without mitigation progressively for ever.’ No shred of doubt, then, remains in Mr. Churchill’s case
that he knows what it is all about.
These two men in the 1940s wielded, or outwardly appeared to wield, imperial power,
untrammelled. Mr. Churchill says this was the office he liked best: ‘Power in a national crisis, when
a man believes he knows what orders should be given, is a blessing.’ To me it seems a curse, in the
light of the two wars. However, it set them both free to pursue purposes which the masses inferred
to be those of preserving their own countries, first, and sustaining their allies, second.
One of Mr. Churchill’s first actions seemed oddly aberrant; the offer, as France fell, to merge the
British and French nations. It would have meant the surrender of national identity in one direction
while it was being defended to the last in another; to this day I am grateful to the Frenchmen who
rejected it. The idea was not Mr. Churchill’s. He says he was ‘by no means convinced’, and ‘the
implications and consequences’ of this ‘immense design’ were not in any way thought out; yet he
made the proposal. (A prime mover, he says, was M. Jean Monnet of France, who in 1950 was a
prime mover in an analagous project, that to unite British, French and German heavy industry
under ‘a supreme authority’. In this form the plan of the Group for a New World Order goes on and
it seems to me all in tune with the aims of the Brotherhood.)
Mr. Churchill was a heroic figure then, yet the British Islanders, had they been told more, might
have been disturbed at some of the things he contemplated. As France collapsed he told these
islanders, ‘Our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the
struggle’. Yet later Mr. Harry Hopkins reported to President Roosevelt, ‘Churchill believed that if
the United Kingdom fell, the Empire would be ended, at least temporarily, and the leadership of the
remaining units of the British Commonwealth would pass to Washington’.
Had that happened, Canada would presumably have passed to the United States (as the Group for a
New World Order foresaw), but why should it have happened? At that time the British Government
urged the French Government with all its might to withdraw with its fleet to the French overseas
empire and continue the battle from there. Marshal Petain was even accused of treachery for not
doing so (and as I write the nonagenarian is still in a fortress on that account). No reason offers why
the King, government and fleet should not have gone to Canada to fight on from there. The British
Islander today may be more than ever grateful to Lord Dowding and all those who resisted the
pressure to have the last British fighters sent to France. At that time several messages from Mr.
Churchill to President Roosevelt spoke of the British fleet ‘crossing the Atlantic’ (not ‘going to
Canada’) in the event of a successful invasion of Britain, and at one point the Canadian Prime
Minister and British Ambassador in Washington seem both to have taken alarm.
Then the curious matter of the ’strategic islands’ arose (which the Group for a New World Order
also foresaw to pass to America: the ruling idea may be that the World-Government-to-come can
best hold the world in thrall from this chain of ocean strongholds). Mr. Churchill suggested to Mr.
Roosevelt that the Republic should acquire on 99-year leases naval bases on certain British West
Indian islands, in return for the use of fifty old destroyers. He says, ‘There was, of course, no
comparison between the intrinsic value of these antiquated and inefficient craft and the immense
permanent’ (my italics) ’strategic security afforded to the United States by the enjoyment of island
bases’.
Much later (November 1942,) Mr. Churchill seems to have been seized by sudden suspicions, for
he said, ‘Let me make this clear, in case there should be any mistake about it in any quarter. We
mean to hold to our own. I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the
liquidation of the British Empire … Here we are and here we stand, a veritable rock of salvation in
this drifting world.’ However, if that needed saying Mr. Churchill’s earlier actions may have caused
the need. Apart from the islands, there was his strange pronouncement of August 1940, ‘The British
Empire and the United States will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs
for mutual and general advantage … I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop
it if I wished. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll.’ I never found, in America
or my own island, any who wanted the two countries ‘mixed up’, unless they were hangers-on of
‘the most formidable sect in the world’ which desires the destruction of all nations.
Mr. Churchill in 1940 may have overestimated his knowledge of what was in President Roosevelt’s
mind; this would explain his somewhat aggrieved later protest, for by that time he was enlightened.
In June 1942 a Mr. Molotoff visited Washington and President Roosevelt told him there were, all
over the world, ‘many islands and colonial possessions which ought, for our own safety, to be taken
away from weak nations’ (’our’ apparently meant the Communist Empire and the United States.
These islands were nearly all in possession of the Republic’s fighting allies, particularly the British
Commonwealth). The President was specific: the Japanese should be removed from the formerly
German islands they administered ‘but we do not want these islands and neither the British nor the
French ought to have them either. Perhaps the same procedure should be applied to the islands now
held by the British. These islands obviously ought not to belong to any one nation’. Mr. Roosevelt,
then, did not want the ’strategic islands’ for the American Republic, but for the New World Order.
Mr. Roosevelt then turned from islands to mainland ‘colonial possessions’ (which, the reader will
recall, the Group for a New World Order allotted to the Communist Empire). The President ‘took as
examples’ Indo-China (French), Siam (not a ‘colonial possession’ but an independent kingdom), and
the Malay States (British), and proposed changes of authority there. Mr. Molotoff was favourably
impressed. Mr. Churchill seems to have become restless when he learned about these proposed
dispositions (extended later also to India and Hong Kong). Thereon Mr. Eden, visiting Washington,
was moved to mention that President Roosevelt did not suggest any comparable American gestures
and to inquire about the President’s constitutional powers for reshaping the world while it was still
at war. Mr. Hopkins then consulted an Assistant Secretary of State (Mr. Berle), who reported that
the President ‘could do anything he liked ‘without any Congressional action in the first instance’ and
‘the handling of the military forces of the United States could be so managed as to foster any
purpose he pursued’.
Such evidence is conclusive but if it were not the last nail of proof is driven home in a book
published in 1950 by Admiral William D. Leahy, personal Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt
and Truman (I Was There). This shows plainly that Mr. Roosevelt’s grand design was for a large
apportionment of the globe between the Communist Empire and the United States, at the expense
of the British Commonwealth and French Empire. Support of Communism in China, too, was
primarily intended to prevent a British revival there and in the planning of the Pacific campaign
everything was done to exclude the British and make China and Japan into a Soviet-American
sphere of influence. Admiral Leahy shows that President Truman, when he succeeded, accepted
and applied this policy without question. The results of it confront America today. Charity in search
of motive might conclude that President Roosevelt’s inexperience and superficial knowledge of
world affairs and ill-health blinded him to what he did and that his facial expression at the end
reflected an awakening inner consternation about the purposes for which he was used.
In fact he furthered the aims of the ‘formidable sect’ and perilously weakened his country at home.
He is the great example of the apparently powerful man, used by others for ulterior aims. In reality
he was not even president at fateful moments. Mr. Hopkins was that and he was like a blind man
playing with high tension wires. History shows no stranger partnership than this, which built up the
Communist Empire to its present peak of menace.
I told how Mr. Roosevelt emerged from political oblivion to become, first Governor of New York,
then President, wielding exceptional Powers against a permanent Emergency. Constitutional
restraints irked him from the start; if he did not, like Hitler, proclaim himself ‘the supreme
magistrate’, yet in a similar spirit, when his actions were challenged, he attacked his Supreme Court
and threatened to pack it with compliant justices. His and Mr. Hopkins’s assaults on the obstructive
judges because they were ‘elderly’ read oddly thirteen years later; years in those cases denoted
physical health, but neither Mr. Roosevelt nor Mr. Hopkins were to live long enough to be accused
of old age. Immediately he became Governor, in 1928, Mr. Roosevelt began a huge programme of
welfare expenditure which he inflated from a State to a national one when he became President. In
1928 he first chose Mr. Hopkins, then a little-known charity-appeal organizer, to conduct this
spending which later, again, swelled into a world-wide distribution under the name of ‘Lend-Lease’.
Mr. Hopkins never enriched himself but sovereignly dispensed more money than any man, or
probably any thousand men, in the world before, free from all supervision. What manner of man,
then, was this Mr. Hopkins?
He, too, was a typical product of the years of confusion. Born in humble circumstances, he emerged
just before the First War from a small college where his favourite professor was a man who, during
years in England, fell in with the London Economic Club and the Fabian Society and who believed
‘the democratic nations would learn to co-operate through a United States of the World’; the
familiar influences appear at the start. Another professor, from whom he first learned about ‘the
strange, remote, gigantic mass that was Russia’, was a converted Jew from Bohemia who conducted
a course on Applied Christianity. Mr. Hopkins was ‘permanently influenced’ by what he thus
learned of ‘the Christian ethic and the teachings of Tolstoy’.
Arrived in the outer, bewildering world Mr. Hopkins (through the second professor) obtained a
small post with a mission in the East Side slums of New York, which were then (1912,) full of
Eastern European gunmen of the Peter the Painter or Stem Gang type. Four men (’Gyp the Blood,
Dago Frank, Lefty Louie and Whitey Lewis’) were executed for the murder of a gaming-house
owner, Herman Rosenthal, and one day, when Mr. Hopkins lectured on civic betterment to a boys’
club, a lad rose and said ‘I move that the whole club stand up for two minutes in honour of the four
gunmen who died today’. Mr. Hopkins was ‘profoundly puzzled’ but, typically, concluded that
’society’ must be to blame. He had a hard life, enlisted in the organized claques for Caruso and
Geraldine Farrar at the Opera House, joined the Red Cross in 1917, returned to charity-appeal work
in 1921. Employers or colleagues of that period depict ‘an ulcerous type, intense, seeming to be in a
perpetual nervous ferment, a chain-smoker and black coffee drinker. Most of the time he would
show up at the office looking as though he had spent the previous night sleeping in a hayloft. He
would wear the same shirt three or four days at a time’; ‘Harry never had the faintest conception of
the value of money. But then, that is true of most social workers. Although in no sense personally
dishonest, they can become unscrupulous in the handling of funds. They can convince themselves
that the worthy end justifies the means.
Thus the later global replanner and dispenser of untold billions. From 1933 on he was ‘in all
respects the inevitable Roosevelt favourite’. In 1937 he spent six months in hospital, a large portion
of his stomach being removed, and in 1938 was told by Mr. Roosevelt he would be the next
president, or at least Democratic candidate. Further illness possibly prevented that; in August 1939
he had ‘about four weeks to live’, but recovered and ‘was taken into the White House to live in May
1940′. From then until the war’s end he was in decisive matters ‘the de facto President’ or in others
‘the second most important individual in the United States Government during the most critical
period of the world’s greatest war, yet he had no legitimate official position nor even any desk of
his own except a card table in his bedroom’ (Mr. Robert Sherwood, his biographer, who was also
brought into the White House by Mr. Hopkins).
Mr. Sherwood, though an admirer, calls him ‘a profoundly shrewd and faintly ominous man’ and
says when he entered the White House ‘he was to all intents and purposes physically a finished man
who might drag out his life for a few years of relative inactivity or might collapse or die at any
time’. However, not inactive, he lived in President Lincoln’s study, which was the best guest room,
assigned to King George VI during his visit in 1939; ‘it was conveniently located for Churchill,
being right across the hall’ from the room occupied by Mr. Churchill during his visits.
A dying president delegated to another dying man such authority that he became in fact, all
unsupervised, the president. Unhindered power to dispose of the money, arms, manufactures and
military operations of America was his, or anyone’s who could control his mind. Today’s map
shows the results. Mr. Hopkins lacked training and knowledge for a task involving the fate of
hundreds of millions of beings. He cultivated crudeness in thought, manners and speech, and talked
of ‘cracking down on the bastards’ if he were opposed. This appealed to Mr. Roosevelt, who liked
to put on the Common Man air (the widespread American weakness to which Mr. Somerset
Maugham alluded). The two men especially liked to deride professional members of the American
Foreign Service as ‘pansies’, ’striped-pants’ and ‘cookie-pushers’.
Mr. Hopkins entered on his empire with the birth of Lend-Lease and reigned for four years. Mr.
Churchill says that by November 1940 Britain had paid to America, in cash or British-owned shares
requisitioned from their owners, nearly 5,000,000,000 dollars, so that its resources were almost
exhausted and further American supplies could not be paid for. Hard bargains were driven. At
American request the British Government sold the Courtauld business in America to the United
States Government for a low figure and it was then sold through the markets at a much higher
price. An American warship was sent to Cape Town, despite Mr. Churchill’s appeals, to carry away
British gold gathered there. After that the barrel was empty, and ‘Lend-Lease’ appeared. Under a
statute of 1892 the American Secretary of War might ‘lease army property when in his discretion it
will be for the public good’. This was invoked (December 1940) to help Britain, President
Roosevelt saying in a ‘Fireside Chat’, ‘If Britain should go down, all of us in the Americas would be
living at the point of a gun’.
Appearances belie realities; not Britain was to be chiefly succoured. The Lend-Lease Bill was
passed against the protests of many Americans who wanted to help Britain but feared their money
might in the end arm the Red Army. Three months later that became the case. In June the Fascists
red and brown turned against each other and Lend-Lease became an inexhaustible supply-line to
the Communist Empire. The sums which passed through it (say, over £20,000,000,000,000) are
beyond human comprehension, and where it all went is hard to determine. Mr. Sherwood appears to
say that about a fifth went to the Soviet Empire, but the share might be much larger if the countries
it was helped to annex were included.
Some idea of the possibilities is given by the Report of a Congressional Committee on Military
Expenditure for the year 1949, which asked, ‘What became of the vast quantities of war material on
hand at the end of hostilities?’ The American Army, it stated, then had material sufficient to equip
only eighteen fully-equipped divisions ‘although at the end of the war it had some eighty-nine fully
equipped divisions and great additional quantities of material in the pipe line’. The Report’ also
asked what happened to the 86,000 tanks produced during the war; in 1949 the Army could only
produce 16,000, most of them obsolete.
After the Second War’s end this vast quantity of arms disappeared, somehow, somewhere. Private
soldiers may not lose a button without reprimand. The direction in which most of it went seems
obvious. The American Army was precipitately disbanded, Western Europe left almost undefended,
the Soviet Empire up to Berlin gorged with soldiers and weapons.
Mr. Hopkins, though without formal title, was put in sole charge of this stupendous distribution.
That meant world power, for it meant the control of foreign policy. He decided who should have
weapons, and also merchant shipping, vehicles, food, fuel, industrial equipment (among other
things, plans of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s great power plants were supplied, and machines
built from these are now being used in atom-bomb and other production in the Soviet fastnesses).
The State Department in Washington and American Ambassadors abroad were excluded from the
daily business of foreign relations; the foreign missions besieged the bestower of gifts, Mr.
Hopkins. He appointed his own ‘Expediter of Lend-Lease’ in London, so that the functions of the
American Ambassador there (as Mr. Walter Winant sadly complained) virtually ceased. Mr.
Churchill, with messages for President Roosevelt, would cable to Mr. Hopkins and receive replies
from him. The experienced Foreign Minister (Mr. Cordell Hull) sometimes received polite notes
enclosing copies of Mr. Hopkins’s cables ‘for information’. A Cabinet Committee (representing the
State Department, Treasury, Army and Navy) at first expected to supervise this gigantic diffusion
of money, arms and goods, but it was thrust aside and Mr. Hopkins became supreme arbiter.
The results now show how he used the power. Right at the start (July 1941) he went to Moscow to
discuss deliveries. He told Stalin that the American Government would be unwilling to send really
big stuff, like tanks, aircraft and artillery, until ‘the relative and strategic interests of ‘each front, as
well as the interests of our several countries’ were fully and jointly explored in conference.
This seems the first and last time any suggestion was made that the causes and outcome of the war
should he discussed before the Soviet Empire was put in a position to ignore any conditions.
Thereafter supplies were continuous, increasing and unconditional, though pious hopes about this
or that were sometimes expressed.
In tackling Stalin, Mr. Hopkins was the opposite of the picture painted of him by Mr. Roosevelt:
‘When he’s talking to some foreign dignitary, he knows how to slump back in his chair and put up
his feet upon the conference table and say, Oh yeah?’ Mr. Hopkins said ‘Oh yes!’ not ‘Oh yeah?’ He
emerged from the presence in a state of awe that remained with him, so that a friend had to remind
him he was a down-to-earth American, as good as any man if not better.
Thus supplies began without any irritating condition save one: that repayment should begin five
years after the war’s end (I doubt if this matter was strictly pressed, in 1950). Only one obstacle
remained. Mr. Hopkins, now ‘Chairman of the President’s Soviet Protocol Committee’, was in 1942
irritated by a committee-member who urged that ‘before we extend further aid to the Russians we
should demand that they provide us with full information concerning their military situation as the
British have consistently done’. Italics should be sparingly used but Mr. Hopkins’s reply deserves
them because it explains what truly went on and what confronts the world today:
The United States is doing things which it would not do for other United Nations without full
information from them. This decision to act without full information was made with some
misgivings but after due deliberation (whose deliberation, Mr. Hopkins did not mention;
presumably Mr. Hopkins’s). There is no reservation about the policy at the present time but the
policy is constantly being brought up by various groups for rediscussion. I propose that no further
consideration be given to these requests for rediscussion.
That was final, and fateful for America and the world. Mr. Sherwood says, ‘The repeated warnings
of possible Russian perfidy that Roosevelt received in 1941 and throughout the years that followed
only served to make him increase his efforts to convince the Russians of America’s incontestable
good faith’, and presumably Mr. Hopkins was the master-mind in this. At this point Mr. Hopkins, to
judge by such words, seemed only to desire the triumph of the Soviet Empire and I wondered if he
ever stated what he thought the war was about. I found he repeatedly described the grand purpose.
It was, in splendid simplicity, ‘to defeat Hitler’. Mr. Churchill elaborates: ‘There he sat, slim, frail,
ill, but absolutely glowing with refined comprehension of the Cause. It was to be the defeat, ruin
and slaughter of Hitler, to the exclusion of all other purposes, loyalties or aims.’
These are hard words, used in praise, but apparently true, especially the ones about ‘exclusion of all
other loyalties’ (which might almost form an indictment). If Mr. Hopkins’s refined comprehension
reduced the Cause to the slaughter of one man he was sorely disappointed. One of his last
experiences on earth was to hear from Stalin’s august lips scornful disbelief of Hitler’s death, and
Stalin should have known, because by that time his soldiers were in exclusive possession of the
Place where Hitler committed suicide, omitting to leave his body behind. On his return to Berlin
Mr. Hopkins was apparently the first American citizen to be allowed into this place. He had told the
sceptical Stalin he hoped to find Hitler’s body there. He found only some books in Hitler’s office,
which he took for souvenirs.
‘The exclusion of all other loyalties’; those are remarkable words indeed. Did the master of rhetoric
who used them realize, on this occasion, how precisely they described the sober but sinister truth?
A man in Mr. Hopkins’s position (’de facto President’) should have but two loyalties, the primary
one to his country and the secondary one to his country’s allies. These cannot be ‘excluded’ (and Mr.
Churchill is not one to use words carelessly) without other loyalties taking their place. Mr. Hopkins
did in fact put loyalty to the Communist ally (so recently Hitler’s own ally) above loyalty to all his
country’s other allies; his own words testify to that. Therewith he also put it above loyalty to his
own country; whether his mental and physical health enabled him to see that or not, the event
proved it for his country was left facing another and worse war. In effect his actions advanced the
aims of that ‘Brotherhood’ or ‘most formidable sect in the world’ which Mr. Churchill so well
understood, and it is hard to see why Mr. Churchill thought so highly of his comprehension.
‘Other loyalties’ indeed suffered grievously after Mr. Hopkins entered the war. In its later years the
picture behind the scenes was rather like that of a supper party at the Borgias, culminating in the
toxic banquet at Yalta. The Communist Empire had a primary and a secondary aim. The first was to
add as much territory as it could to its domains through the war. The second was to prevent the rise
of men, or groups of men, in the remaining European countries who would become national heroes
of liberation there, forming strong cores around which those nations would rally in the third stage
of Armageddon. The weaker and more leaderless those remaining nations were left, the easier
would the final triumph be. The actions of Messrs. Roosevelt and Hopkins, and unhappily those of
the British leaders, also lent themselves to this process, which was to make a third war harder to
prevent and more difficult to fight if it came.
The reader may remember how thankless the lot became, as the war went on, of any who at the
start threw in their lot with the enemies of the man whose ‘defeat, ruin and slaughter’ was the
Cause. King Leopold of the Belgians was called traitor because he stayed with his army to the last
and did not join his government in exile. King Peter of Yugoslavia was dethroned because he
formed a government in exile and did not stay with his army to the last (’He asked me,’ says
Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean, Mr. Churchill’s emissary to the Communist usurper, Tito, ‘what
prospect I thought he had of recovering his throne after the war. I replied, None, unless he could
somehow go back and take part in the war of liberation, side by side with his people, as his father
had done in the last war’). King George of Greece sinned mortally by staying with his army to the
last and then forming a government in exile; after that his allies insisted that he should not remount
his throne without a public referendum.
General de Gaulle, having fought with us from the start, was pictured as a nuisance and probably ‘a
Fascist’. Otto Strasser, the one German who fought Hitler in Germany and in exile from 1933 on,
was held a virtual prisoner in Canada and as I write is still forbidden even to return to his country,
where men who crushed attempts to kill Hitler are allowed to organize political parties. As to
Poland (Mr. Churchill wrongly calls a section of Their Finest Hour, ‘Alone!’; the Poles then fought
with us on land, at sea and in the air) it was ‘the first to fight’ and its liberation intact was pledged
by Mr. Eden on July 30th, 1941. Yet it was handed to the Communist Empire; the Poles, logically,
did not appear at all in the ultimate Victory Parade. Mr. Churchill even thought, by 1949, that the
Poles ‘doomed themselves by their follies’ to ‘awful slaughter and miseries’ (from a sea-girt island it
may appear folly to live in a country squeezed between the Rooshans and the Prooshans).
In China Chiang Kai-shek incurred the odium generally attaching to allies. His troubles began
during Mr. Hopkins’s reign. The accumulated evidence of the various inquiries and exposures
which have occurred since the Second War ended now overwhelmingly suggests that Communist
infiltration in American government departments and more particularly in the war-time agencies
which were set up, was strong enough for the Communists to delay Lend-Lease deliveries to
Chiang Kai-shek, or rather, to ensure that he received no deliveries. When the great flow of
supplies to the Communist Empire began the Chinese emissary in Washington protested to Mr.
Hopkins, ‘I have now been in the United States over fourteen months pleading for help of planes …
In these fourteen months not a single plane sufficiently equipped with armaments and ammunition
so that it could actually be used to fire has reached China.’ By November 1942 Madame Chiang
Kai-Shek told Mr. Hopkins, ‘Everyone in China is afraid that the United States is going to sell them
down the river’, a prescient fear. Mr. Roosevelt’s arrangements at Yalta, and subsequent American
support for the Communist demand to be taken into Chiang Kai-Shek’s government, did what else
was needed.
Mr. Churchill’s part in such affairs shows curious alternations, as if different lights played on him.
His offer to ‘release’ Greece from its own intention to fight the Nazis if attacked, in 1941, horrified
the British Ambassador and notary commander, who knew the Greeks meant to fight in any
circumstances, against any comers, for their own honour, without any other’s leave or objection.
Had Greece accepted the proffered ‘release’ it would presumably be now part of the Soviet Empire,
and the general situation that much worse. Mr. Churchill averted that through his heroic
interventions in 1945, when the Communists tried to clinch the matter by invasion and massacre.
The Yugoslav affair seems beyond reasonable explanation. Knowing the Balkans, I think only
future tribulation can come from the political course Mr. Churchill pursued there, apparently with
the support of Messrs. Roosevelt and Hopkins. After the war he complained of the ‘Iron Curtain’,
but Communist Yugoslavia is its southern pin, and he put it there. His emissary’s account of the
abandonment of King Peter (’to whom the British Government was morally under a definite
obligation, who had thrown in his lot with Great Britain in her hour of need, and to whose
government they were politically committed’) will remain painful reading for all time. While
Britain had few arms to give, King Peter’s general was supported; when they were in lavish supply,
the Communist leader was supported; at the end the King’s general was shot by Communists in
khaki uniform using British or American weapons – it is gruesome. Some words of Mr. Churchill
(used about the abandonment of Czechoslovakia in 1938, by Mr. Chamberlain’s government) might
apply in this case: ‘There is one helpful guide, namely, for a nation to keep its word and to act in
accordance with its treaty obligations to allies. This guide is called honour.’
In all that the American and British masses had no say or authentic information. Mr. Churchill’s
dictum, ‘At no time was the right of criticism impaired’, is substantially misleading. The right may
have continued, but the public expression of criticism, at the time when it might have done good,
was in practice much restricted. The press and broadcasting, in England as in America, were
controlled by official agencies which effectively operated to reduce criticism to a minimum, and
quite apart from that, the newspapers and radio were thoroughly permeated by Communists.
Writers of my own experience and knowledge were virtually excluded, or they would have said,
much earlier and in suitable terms, what Brigadier Maclean’s American top-sergeant said when he
saw that Red Army trucks rolling into Belgrade in 1944 were American ones: ‘It makes you sick to
think of these unprintable unmentionables having all this good American equipment.’ At that time
the world did not know of atom bombs and when it did learn of them was for some years told that
America had a monopoly, but in fact, under ‘Lend-Lease’, atomic compounds also went to the
Communist Empire and no doubt remains now that secrets of manufacture also travelled that way,
from sources American and British. Further, the industrial capacity of the Soviet Empire, behind
the Urals, was being greatly expanded in the same manner, and that was something not so
important for the outcome of the Second War as for preparing a third.
Nevertheless, up to the very last one means remained of making good these deeds and forcing the
Communist Empire to conclude the war in the spirit in which it was begun, namely, by liberating
the nations overrun. This was to send the American and British armies right across Germany and
beyond and let them do the liberating. However, that possibility was foreseen too, and
arrangements made to prevent it. In 1943 Mr. Hopkins thought ‘there was no understanding
between Great Britain, Russia and ourselves as to which army should be where’ after the defeat of
Germany. Either this lack of understanding was carefully nurtured until the Red Army stood on the
Berlin line, which meant the bisection of Europe and a third war unless the grace of God should
avert one (man would not be able to), or an understanding to that effect was reached.
In that last stage Mr. Hopkins, possibly all unknowing, was acting as the chief instrument of a
mechanism of power controlled and permeated by Communism. Soon after the invasion of
Normandy he telegraphed a warning to President Roosevelt against meeting Mr. Churchill ‘without
Uncle Joe’. The vital matter of who should occupy what ‘zone’ dragged on in some committee and
eventually settled itself in the shape visible today: the extension of the Communist Empire to
Berlin. The British and American military commanders, given free hand, could have occupied all
Germany and much beyond.
At last, as if Stalin himself were planning every detail, Mr. Hopkins’s four years approached their
climax. In October 1944, when the last coup alone remained in doubt, Mr. Cordell Hull resigned
the American Secretaryship of State (Foreign, Office). He was the one experienced professional
still near the hub of affairs and for years had been bypassed, Messrs. Roosevelt and Hopkins
sending their dispatches through military channels so that they should not reach his eyes or those of
American ambassadors abroad. All checks and restraints were now slipped. A man of standing, Mr.
James Byrnes, might have been appointed, but some years before had told Mr. Hopkins to ‘keep the
hell out of my business’. A completely unqualified one, Mr. Edward Stettinius, was therefore
selected; his part was to do what Mr. Hopkins said.
This determined the shape of the American delegation to the vital Yalta Conference, where all that
had been hatched was to pop out of the egg. Its four leading members were President Roosevelt,
Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Stettinius and Mr. Alger Hiss; three had but a short time to live and the fourth
was a Communist. Mr. Hopkins was in reality the chief delegate. He only left his bed to attend full
meetings; the American delegation otherwise gathered in his bedroom. The place of meeting (in
Soviet territory) was chosen by Mr. Hopkins, who over-rode all objections of Mr. Roosevelt’s other
advisers. Mr. Hopkins says that President Roosevelt was already unclear of understanding;
nevertheless he remembered to tell Stalin ‘privately’ that the British ought to give Hong Kong back
to the Chinese, who were already abandoned in Mr. Hopkins’s and presumably in Mr. Hiss’s minds
to the Communists. Then Mr. Stettinius, prompted by Mr. Hopkins, revived the proposal for
relieving Britain of colonial possessions and ’strategic islands’. This angered Mr. Churchill, who
also fought hard for ‘the rights of small nations’, at that stage unhappily a cause already largely lost,
in Yugoslavia among other places.
Mr. Sherwood thinks President Roosevelt ‘would not have agreed to that final firm commitment’
(he appears to mean the betrayal of China) ‘had it not been that the Yalta Conference was almost at
an end and he was tired and anxious to avoid further argument’. These reasons might explain
concessions in a matter of a few dimes but seem inadequate in one of such dimensions. The
documents suggest that Mr. Roosevelt at that moment was beyond knowing what he did or resisting
any pressure from those around him. The American Republic, materially, was at its greatest
strength; through its President it was spiritually at its weakest.
The Yalta Conference must surely be unique in history. Acted as a play in a theatre, it would
challenge credulity to such extent that the playgoers might laugh it off the stage. It had a strange
sequel, a little human footnote still not legible. It was the end of the Roosevelt-Hopkins
partnership! The last meeting over, President Roosevelt wanted Harry the Hop to help him write his
speech to America, on the homeward voyage. Suddenly Harry the Hop would not comply! He ’sent
word’ that he must leave the ship at Algiers, rest, and then fly to Washington. Mr. Roosevelt was
‘disappointed and even displeased’. His farewell (when Mr. Hopkins emerged from his cabin to go
ashore) ‘was not very amiable’. The two men never met again; the great partnership ends in a row of
dots, a query mark and the present ordeal of mankind.
Mr. Sherwood writes for nine hundred pages as an ardent admirer of both men. At the end he seems
suddenly to shrink, Dorian Gray-like, from the picture of America under their sway which he has
drawn. He finishes the amazing tale by expressing the hope that ‘a phenomenon like Franklin D.
Roosevelt will not recur … in the interests of the nation and indeed of the entire world, which must
never again be in the position in time of peril of placing so much reliance on the imagination,
courage and durability of one mortal man’ (nevertheless America, and Britain, are more than ever in
that position now). Mr. Sherwood was left in an ‘alarmed awareness of the risks that we run of
disastrous fallibility at the very top of our Constitutional structure’. He says there is ‘far too great a
gap between the President and the Congress’ and adds that ‘the extraordinary and solitary
Constitutional powers of the President remain and, in times of crisis, they are going to be asserted
for better or for worse’. He particularly mentions (and in my observation this is a most vital point)
the added power, to lead or mislead, which was given to Mr. Roosevelt for the first time among
Presidents but remains with his successors: that of commanding a direct audience of many millions
through broadcasts.
Mr. Roosevelt, and the man who in fact supplanted him at decisive moments, both were made the
instruments of Soviet Communism, which had penetrated the roost on which they stood to a degree
they probably never knew. They refused ear to all arguments against subversion at home or the
probity of the Communist Empire. Their minds had been moulded to think that such honest
misgivings were but the emanations of ‘racial discrimination’, ‘Red-baiting’ or ‘anti-Semitism’; so
perverse are the top-line politicians of our time that they would make it treason to denounce
treason, and this is both an American and an English situation.
The power which deluded these men grew up, like Political Zionism, among Russian Jewry. To that
Dr. Weizmann’s book, among much other evidence, appears to be conclusive testimony.
Communism is the product of the revolutionary son (as Zionism was that of the nationalist son) in
those households. The directing forces of both movements remain Russian-Jewish; each new
disclosure reaffirms that and many more Jews than Gentiles have spoken to it. Dr. Oscar Levy
wrote in 1920, ‘Jewish elements provide the driving force for both Communism and Capitalism for
the material as well as the spiritual ruin of the world’. Mr. Maurice Samuel wrote, ‘We are trying to
rebuild the world to our needs and unbuild it for the Gentiles … We, the destroyers, will remain
destroyers forever … Nothing you will do will meet our needs and demands. We will forever
destroy because we need a world of our own.’
Such statements, made by non-Jews, would today be denounced as racial defamation but are true of
the group of Russian Jewry which produced Soviet Communism. It did not include all Russian
Jews; once again, Russian Jews have attacked it more strongly than Gentiles, and have been
ignored by leading Gentile politicians just as the established Jews in England and America were
ignored. For instance, a Russian Jew, Mr. J. Anthony Marcus, in 1949 gave evidence for a United
States Senate Committee which was appointed to consider matters of Immigration and
Naturalization, with particular reference to ‘Communist Activities among Aliens and National
Groups’. He said, among much else:
I am here because I owe an eternal debt to this country, as do many millions more immigrants. I
came here from Czarist Russia as a lonely immigrant boy in 1910, seeking the freedom, economic
and educational opportunities which were denied to me in the country of my birth … Here in
America such opportunities were mine for the mere asking and on equal terms with the native-born
citizens. Within four years after landing here with the munificent fortune of $14.28, with an English
vocabulary of three words (’street’ and ‘hurry up’) I not only made my way from modest beginnings
in industrial plants to a post in the United States Immigration Service but had managed to save up
enough money to bring over from Russia my widowed mother and six brothers and sisters … The
life of a person is entirely too short to enable him to repay so great a debt to the generous, warm-
hearted and fair-minded people of America … In a modest way I have tried through the years to
make some repayment … Ever since landing on American soil I have felt that since my ancestors
had contributed nothing to make this country free, prosperous, generous, progressive and cultured;
since my ancestors did not struggle and die in the process of clearing the wilderness, fighting the
Indian wars, freezing in the covered wagons as they blazed a trail from coast to coast for future
settlers, suffering hunger and thirst while building this great continent, the least I could and should
do is to help preserve its liberties for all time to come. The same duty devolves upon every
immigrant here.
Prior to the First World War, countless thousands of immigrants came here without any intention of
becoming full-fledged members of this democracy. They were bent on exploiting our political and
economic opportunities and returning to their homelands as soon as America had served their
purpose … Since the conclusion of the First World War, a new type has made his way here. Some
have discovered that one did not have to labour in factories, mines, mills or fields to earn a living.
One could earn a much better living, and satisfy their exaggerated ego besides, by stirring up
political and labour trouble among their compatriots, promising paradise on earth à la Stalin to the
uninformed, unthinking and ungrateful. This is very important, because there are hundreds and
hundreds of organizations in the United States that have very large memberships and … they are
being pressed by their relatives abroad, who are being pressed by their respective totalitarian
governments, to do their bidding on our soil … Reluctantly, I must confess that too many of my
fellow immigrants, both naturalized and those still aliens, are largely responsible for the subversive
movements plaguing this country today … They remained aliens to our language and at heart.
… The presence here of large bodies of ethnic groups, alien at heart and spirit to our way of life, is
the outgrowth of lax immigration laws … On the basis of nearly thirty years of close contact with
the operations of the Soviet Government here and abroad, I most earnestly urge you to heed this
warning … Bad as it was prior to the Second War, since its conclusion matters have taken a turn for
the worse. The satellite nations — Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Lithuania, Latvia,
Bulgaria and so forth — have millions of their former nationals in this country, some naturalized
and many not. They, in turn, have millions of relatives and friends in their former homelands … By
bringing pressure to bear on those relatives overseas, by reprisals or threats thereof, they [the
Communists] can and do exert pressure on their American relations to do the biddings of their
Communist governments … As a former immigrant, I deem it my duty to speak frankly to fellow
immigrants who in these troubled times, by omission or commission, fail to show their appreciation
of what this country has done for them….
Such statements apply, not to World Jewry, but to the cohesive body of Russian Jewry, non-Semitic
in origins, which has thrown up the two destructive movements of today and has in effect landed
armies of political paratroopers in America and England. Until now, and for thirty years past, words
like those of Mr. Marcus have had no effect on the Gentile political leaders who facilitated the
process and the bulk of Jews and Gentiles alike are caught in this destructive mechanism. Indeed,
the most rabid hatred is kept for Jewish objectors to it. An American rabbi, Mr. Morris Lazaron,
once said, ‘There is no room in this country for any race, Italian, Russian, Polish or Jewish, to set
itself up as a private community and build a wall around itself’. The sober opinion received an
inflammatory reply from a particularly fanatical Political Zionist leader, the late Rabbi Stephen S.
Wise, who said, ‘This Jewish apostle of Christian-Jewish goodwill stands exposed in the nakedness
of his bitter and unyielding anti-Jewishness. If there were such a thing as decent public opinion in
America, Rabbi Morris Lazaron would nevermore be permitted to stand before a Jewish meeting.’
That violent group of Russian Jewry, from all I have seen as I have come through the decades, is
the one which has perfected two methods of gaining political control over leading politicians of the
West and over the masses of Jewry. I believe the majority of Jews, and very few Gentiles,
understand this, and I think most Jews would join with Gentiles in opposing something equally
harmful to them both, if they could. Both are thwarted in that by the present permeation of political
machines in great countries, especially America, by these political paratroopers from afar. The
actions of President Roosevelt and Mr. Hopkins appear to represent their greatest success in mind-
control to date. They have shown stupendous skill in their work; had this been applied to improving
relations between men a dazzling prospect of betterment might face the world today. But their
driving force is essentially hatred, and for that reason I believe they must fail in the end. Their
dupes are inwardly the unhappiest folk I know, for their lives are living lies. Serving no positive
purpose, but only a destructive one, they are the victims of ‘the deception of nations’ and in time
must destroy themselves.
However, as matters stand today in the political parties, they can only be checkmated by some
counter-movement sprung from the loins of the masses. I think this birth, or renascence, is
occurring now.
Chapter Four
LOOKING BACK
From the deck I watched the lights of New Orleans, of the Mississippi’s banks and of the last land
slip past until the night was black; the ship was out at sea and America was astern. So that was that;
I knew the whole area, from Moscow to San Francisco, where the destiny of the world is being
forged. Now I had seen everything.
All the world is waiting for the sunrise; there was more truth in that trite ballad of the Second War
than its writer or hearers knew. Since 1914 the world has been waiting, and it must wait awhile yet.
This feeling of a world waiting to know its own fate, like a prisoner while the jury is absent, has
accompanied me everywhere I went. I felt it first in Berlin in 1929 (and today it must lie heavier
than ever on that city); it hung over Vienna when I went there in 1935, and over Prague and
Budapest and Belgrade and Warsaw in 1938 and 1939. It was more tangible than ever in Paris in
early 1940, and heaviest of all over my own London a month or two later.
Still the unanswered question presses on all the peoples, and ever more onerously, and in America
it was tangible and vibrant, too. Men know in their hearts, though few of them admit, that the
ordeal which began in 1914 is not over but continues; it must continue until the ambition which has
been pursued during these four decades succeeds or fails, until the Western nations are free again or
have been wholly enslaved, not through defeats in battle but by the alien conspirators at home to
whom they have opened their gates.
The feeling of constant suspense which troubled Europe between the wars has spread to the
American Republic. Its people intuitively know, if they do not consciously realize, that in the next
stage of the process they will be in the thick of the clash. But what the process is very few of them
perceive. I think personal experience, of the actual event, is necessary to that. They are in a clutch
which they feel but do not understand. They are like the Berliners in 1932, the Viennese in 1937.
Only their anticipation is palpable.
To my mind, they are in a similar boat to the British Islander, though not yet quite so far
downstream. They are being steered, under pretence of going to fight ‘emergencies’ and wars of
arms, towards the serfdom of the World State with its terrible great sword and its oceanic
watchtowers. But only at a high level of enlightenment, like that of Mrs. Alice Duer Miller in The
White Cliffs and of Professor J. Frank Dobie in A Texan in England, does a perception of that
inexorably-linked destiny, or doom, survive. Professor Dobie wrote, ‘It is not only their common
language, their common inheritance of the noblest literature on earth and many common material
and national interests that dictate a decent partnership between America and the British nations; it
is a common civilization’.
That is in fact the stake, but I do not believe that the forces which have become so strong behind
the American and British governments desire the continuance of that civilization. They wish to
destroy it and the time seems to me to be ripe for the culminating attempt.
I found in America, if my eye was true, at this time a great bewilderment, a sense of premonition
and a spiritual leaderlessness, all things which I knew from Europe and my country, between the
wars and after the second one. The structure of government and all the means of public information
have become so infested that the masses of men simply cannot tell where truth or native interest lie.
The machine has taken charge, and only when men see with their own eyes whither it takes them
will they now know whether this was good or bad for them, and turn to resistance if they still can.
America, my own country and what remains of Europe are, I thought, in one ship now, and it is
being steered towards the harbour lights, or the wreckers’ light, of the World State. I think those
lights false ones, set up on rocks. To judge what this great scheme portends for mankind, you need
to know the men who are truly behind it. I think I know them, after these twenty-five years of
political exploration. However, all should be able to form an opinion about that before very long.
Meanwhile, it was a fine experience and I was the better and happier for it. I looked back with
regret as the last of America faded astern, and turned my face towards new travels.
*** POSTSCRIPT
I finished this book in June 1950 and a few days later American troops were sent to South Korea to
fight Communists from North Korea. The book was meant to be a picture of America on the eve of
events which, I thought, clearly impended. Now they have begun; I think they are intended to start
the third stage of Armageddon.
In the year that followed I travelled far and wide again, in Africa, then in Canada, and once more
into the United States. Thus I often saw The Boys as they set out on one more journey: splendid
Rhodesian fighting-men and South African airmen (Boer and British) sailing from Durban;
Canadians entraining at Montreal; my own fellow-islanders training for the fray in Canada;
Americans reporting for duty. Fine men all, the very best; the breed does not deteriorate, but
improves.
But for what purpose were they being sent? Watching them, I recalled those ominous words of
President Roosevelt’s legal adviser: ‘the handling of the military forces of the United States can be
so managed as to foster any purpose you pursue’. That applies, also, to British, Canadian,
Australian, New Zealand and all other military forces, in these times.
Though I feel myself still in the first flush of youth, I come to feel myself also like the Old Man of
the Sea when I watch these departures of The Boys. 1914 …! 1917 …! 1939 …! 1941 …! 1950 …! In
these first contingents are always many who go for sheer love of a campaign; behind them, later,
come the masses.
As I foresee them, the events which began with the landing in Korea will comprise the third and
probably the final stage in Armageddon and will continue from now on without genuine
interruption, whether the Korean affair for tactical reasons is allowed to subside, or is inflated into a
third world upheaval. The purpose pursued, by those who truly wield power in the world now, will
in my opinion be to reduce America and Britain, both, to slave-status in a World Federation
dominated by ‘that most formidable sect in the world’ to which Mr. Churchill once alluded. This
brotherhood has in the last thirty years become so powerful in America and Britain that its chances
of success are good. ‘When the fox hath once got in his nose, he’ll soon find means to make the
body follow’, said Shakespeare, and this particular fox has in Washington and London got in much
more than its nose.
That at least is my opinion, but before adding such argument as I can to support it I beg the patient
reader’s ear for some explanation of myself. The man who has closely followed these things from
their open beginning in 1914, as I have, and has broken away from daily journalism because hidden
restraints prevent both the accurate reporting of facts and the unimpeded building of opinion on
them, treads a curious path. He becomes a free and thus a happy man. But the very reason that
moved him to this self-liberation is that the times are bad and infested with falsehood. The tale he
freely tells, therefore, is one of a bad time getting worse, before it can get better; the only difference
is that he can at least say what he sees.
This exposes him to the danger that ‘the nature of bad news infects the teller’. He has to beware of
that contagion, to which such as the late Mr. H. G. Wells succumbed (who was so oppressed by the
sense of coming evil that he at last thought the end of the world was at hand, whereas only his own
impended).
A trained journalist is better equipped to write of such matters than a novelist who turns to
moralizing. I am not tempted to moralize, only to report. My training shows me the deep truth of
Shakespeare’s warning about the contaminatory danger of bad news, so that I try to shun the
personal infection while telling bad news from book to book (at the moment there is no other
news), and I hope one day to report the happier sequel.
Merely to shout warnings is also useless, for ‘by a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust ensuing
danger’. (Who but that Founding Father of wisdom would have seen the divine root of what seems,
in the passing instant, a devilish inertia?) Nevertheless, a writer should write, though he should
always remember those two great truths, and I write to try and show the true shape of current
events behind the smoke-screens thrown out for the masses.
Dogmatism is another danger. My native way of saying things sometimes gives an abrupt shock to
the reader’s newspaper-born notions of what goes on in the world, stinging him to sharp cries of
grief or rage. A man who has seen as much as I have of the sequence of events that began in 1914
is easily moved to impatience at the false public presentation of them and the surrender of the
mass-mind to transparent falsehoods. However, no mortal is qualified to cry, ‘Lord, what fools
these mortals be!’, so I want to curb my natural spleen, and in offering my opinions about far Korea
to the reader to say, Come, let us reason together’. Then he can make up his own mind.
My opinion, then, is that the Korean affair, whether it remains localized now or is puffed up into a
third universal war, is either the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, of Armageddon.
I think the ‘military forces’ engaged, and their operations, will be ‘handled’ to pursue certain
‘purposes’, and I think the overriding purpose is to enslave all The Boys, on all sides, to a tyrannous
world authority, for which the present United Nations Organization is a rehearsal. In two earlier
books (of 1948 and 1950) I said that, in view of the outcome of the Second War, no faith could be
put in any third war begun as one of ‘The West against Communist aggression’, or the like, unless
the political leaders of America and Britain were set free from the secret thrall which they have in
recent generations accepted. With that as the basis of my argument, I hope the persevering reader
will scrutinize with me the beginnings and present stage of the Korean episode.
In the sequel to Mr. Roosevelt’s imperial gift of ’special rights in China’ to the Communist Empire
(which, under further American pressure, by 1950 had extended to include all China save an island
yet unconquered, Formosa), the Korean peninsula was partitioned like Europe and Palestine. North
Korea was occupied by Soviet and South Korea by American troops.
Events then followed the pattern now familiar. An American expert, General Wedemeyer, was in
1947 sent to Korea and in that year reported to President Truman that the Communist North
Koreans would be sent by the Russian Communists against the South Koreans once the Soviet had
‘induced’ the United States to withdraw its own troops from South Korea. On that, United States
forces were withdrawn (1948); the North Korean Communists did invade (1950); and President
Truman (without consulting the American commander, General MacArthur), ordered the American
forces to return, broadcasting that this event ‘makes it clear beyond all doubt that the international
Communist movement is willing to use armed invasion to conquer independent nations … The free
nations face a worldwide threat. It must be met with a worldwide defence’. The United Nations
Organization was hurriedly called together to proclaim the President’s action a United Nations one.
In England, the Prime Minister spoke of ‘a worldwide conspiracy against the way of life of the free
democracies’ and his Attorney General said South Korea was ‘one of the lighthouses of liberty,
which we cannot serenely allow to go out’ (Sir Hartley Shawcross, one of the prosecutors of
Nuremberg, also referred to ‘the world conscience’).
Up to that early stage in the affair, then, it could be interpreted in two ways. Either this sudden war
against ‘Communist aggression’ was genuine or it was false. Either the leading politicians of the
West had suddenly awakened to the true nature of Communism; or military operations were being
begun and would be ‘handled’ to allow certain other, overriding ‘purposes’ to be pursued.
What are the signs either way, of genuineness or falsity? The genuine motive can only be tested
when the world is able to survey what comes of it all, and that might be some time yet. Many
things, however, meanwhile pointed to a continuation of the false one.
First, only five years earlier eight separate European nations, and half of Germany, were
surrendered to ‘Communist aggression’ through secret arrangements made by President Roosevelt
which limited the Anglo-American advance in Europe in 1944-45. These countries were forced, by
the arrival of the Red Army, to submit to Communist governments, appointed by Moscow. The
United Nations Organization, today eager to check ‘Communist aggression’ in fact sanctioned those
aggressions and annexations by admitting the puppet-governments to full membership, so that each
Soviet vote was echoed by several dummies. All these governments, with the parent one, remained
members of the United Nations Organization when it set out to punish ‘Communist aggression’;
indeed, for some time the American Commander’s operational reports, and requests for
reinforcements, were rendered to the Soviet delegate there, who was for the time president of the
Security Council!
Second, soon after the Korean campaign against Communist aggression began, the American
President sanctioned large loans to Yugoslavia, a Communist State. True, its head was supposed to
dislike and be disliked by Stalin, but it was beyond any question a Communist state. Was the war,
then, to be one against Communism in one place and for Communism in another?
Third, and most important, Korea was a geographical pendant of the Chinese mainland, and at
American insistence a Communist Government had been foisted on China, too (the Secretary for
War under whom General MacArthur operated, General Marshall, but a year or two before had
played the chief part in that). Now all that remained non-Communist was this South Korea and the
island of Formosa, where the Chinese anti-Communist leader, Chiang Kai-shek (who had been
fighting Fascism and Communism longer than anybody else in the world) stood with his last forces.
He at once offered an army of trained troops to fight ‘Communist aggression’, and this aid was
promptly refused by the American President, who also forbade him to attack his enemies on the
mainland.
No reasonable man, I think, can in all this find any genuine sign of a resolve to stamp out
Communist aggression or to liberate the world, at last. The picture is that, of saying one thing and
doing another, of declaring A Cause to the masses but ‘handling’ military operations to pursue other
‘purposes’, which caused the political loss of the Second War, after it was militarily won.
That was particularly clear in the case of Chiang Kai-shek. His unpopularity, in the parliaments and
newspapers of the West, could not have been greater had he been a Communist aggressor; indeed, I
think it would then have been much less. Having fought all comers for twenty years, and being now
embattled in his last island stronghold, he had no friends anywhere. The same process began, of
’smearing’ a national leader, which was used (if the patient reader will cast his memory back) with
every anti-Fascist ally during the Second War. To be on the side of the West, to fight valiantly
against Hitler, was a political death-warrant, and sometimes a mortal one. Generals Bor and Anders
of Poland, Mihailovitch of Yugoslavia and his King, King George of Greece, General de Gaulle of
France and Otto Strasser of Germany, and many more, all received ‘the treatment’ in this way; now
Chiang Kai-shek’s turn came. The campaign against him proves the complete infestation of the
newspapers of the West, whatever political label they display; and behind it was the massive fact,
that he could have thrown large armies into the battle to take the brunt off The Boys from America,
from Britain and the British countries overseas. That was not allowed!
Next came the turn of the American commander, General MacArthur. He believed it his duty to
destroy the enemy and win battles; outside America, and even in large parts of that country, the
mass-newspapers, now so largely controlled by the conspirators of these times, made him as
unpopular as Chiang Kai-shek. He did not stop at the 38th Parallel (I hope one day to see a fighting,
advancing army perform the delightful military exercise of stopping at an imaginary line,
particularly if a good position for the enemy lies on the other side of it); he wanted to bomb the
enemy, even to use Chiang’s soldiers! In a war against ‘Communist aggression’ these were clearly
disgraceful, almost mutinous ideas; he was dismissed.
I heard his tumultuous public welcome and his speech to Congress from a ship at sea, and landed in
North America while the furore continued. General MacArthur is a soldier of a well-known
American school. When you have been trained at West Point around 1900 by instructors whose
own instructors were still fighting the War of Independence, you see everything in terms of
redcoats and continue to fight all your battles against King George III; it is an amiable weakness
that only disappears in the course of several centuries. Thus General MacArthur in 1945 did not
want the British ‘to assume control of any territory that we recaptured from the enemy’ and ‘refused
to use any British divisions until after an assault on the Japanese mainland was under way’. In his
speech to Congress General MacArthur, while putting all cogent facts of the Korean affair plainly
before America, also contrived to suggest that it was all, in some odd way, mixed up with British
‘colonialism’ (he did not explain what this had to do with an American President’s decision, first to
leave Korea and then to reoccupy it). However, that is unimportant. The important thing was his
gigantic public welcome, which to my mind sprang spontaneously from the hearts and throats of
the great mass of Americans who feel, though they cannot understand, the falsehoods that have
beclouded the matter from its start. If they are to fight Communism, they wanted to fight it, destroy
it, and get the thing done; if not, then they wanted to get out. General MacArthur’s orders from
Washington (they must count among the most curious of all military history) were merely to
‘ensure the security of his command’.
General MacArthur may have been mistaken about the date, thinking it to be 1775, not 1951, but in
the main matter at issue he was a symbol of truth among falsehood, and a genuine one. For that
reason his tremendous welcome came from the great mass of Americans who felt and feared the
falsehoods and longed for truth.
If he was sent, without being asked, against a ‘Communist aggressor’, he wanted to fight successful
battles, destroy and drive back the enemy, win the campaign. When he felt a hand reach out from
behind and arrest him each time he tried to do those things, he thought it was a treacherous hand,
and protested loudly. He did his country and the world a great service, for by his stand and
dismissal large numbers of people for the first time had the brutal contrast, between what the
politicians said and what they did, put luridly before them.
Also, The Boys might at some stage in these proceedings wonder to what end they are being used,
if any commander who seeks to destroy the enemy is to be dismissed. It is a piquant reflection, that
the final success of the Plan for Mankind can probably only be averted now by the recurrence of
similar incidents, by the loud protest of a politician here and a general there against the deception of
nations. General MacArthur’s dismissal was presented to the public masses as the necessary
assertion of ‘the civil authority over the military’, a phrase once valid. Today, when ‘the civil
authority’ in all great countries has clearly passed into other hands than those of the visible
politicians, it is an artful deception.
General MacArthur went the way of every politician and soldier, for many years past, who has
rebelled against this occult rule. To the close student of the records, General Wavell’s relegation
from the battlefield, during the Second War, looks very much as if it was the penalty for his
reluctance to have any truck with the major disaster which was being prepared in Palestine. The
dismissal of General Sir Frederick Morgan (the chief planner of D-Day, and ‘an exceptionally fine
officer’ according to General Eisenhower) was openly the consequence of his public warning that,
in the confusion following the fighting’s end in Europe, mass-movements of Eastern Europeans
were being made to bring about that new centre of world-unrest in Palestine. General Marshall
resigned after opposing the recognition of Israel; and only reappeared in the American scene after
lending himself to the enforced Communization of China. Mr. Bevin, the only statesman of the last
thirty years, was pursued to his deathbed for his opposition to the Palestinian adventure, being
described in Zionist newspapers just before his end as ‘a symbol of anti-Jewishness almost as
definite as Hitler’!
General MacArthur’s dismissal was, I thought, certain from the very start of the Korean Affair
unless he understood and accepted the meaning of a certain event at its outset. He was made, not
the commander of the American, or of Allied forces, but ‘the United Nations commander’, and as a
pledge of that status he was sent a United Nations flag. This was indeed a retreat from Old Glory
and, knowing something of his character, I was at the time surprised that he submitted. The United
Nations flag is in the same colours as that of the new Zionist State, and is almost indistinguishable,
in colouring and device, from one used by the Soviet State for its ‘International Peace Movement’.
But that was not all. This particular banner, bestowed on General MacArthur, was an especial one:
that carried by Count Bernadotte, the emissary of the United Nations murdered on a mission of
peace to Palestine! His death went unpunished; it was tacitly overlooked by the United Nations; his
proposals were ignored and their opposite accepted.
Thus no more arrogant and open emblem, not of ‘The United Nations Organization’ as visible to the
masses, but of an inner authority ruling it, could have been chosen to present to General
MacArthur. There is a sardonic and obviously deliberate symbolism in such episodes as this.
To my mind, the choice of that banner clearly meant that any commander, in the Korean affair or
any later one that might grow out of it, must without question carry out his orders received or
expect dismissal. It is a great gain to the world that the first commander thus involved did prefer
dismissal and did obtain the world’s eye for a moment with his public exposure of the inherent
falsity of the situation. This is not a matter of the supremacy of ‘the civil’ over ‘the military’
authority, but of that of ‘The United Nations Organization’ and of whatever forces in truth control
that body, of which Mr. Alger Hiss was a founding father. The answer to that question supplies
itself: on the very first line of this organization’s first ledger-page stand two fatal entries written in
red: the expulsion of the defenceless Arabs from their native Palestine, with the proclamation of a
Zionist State; and the mock-legalization of the Soviet Union’s annexation of half Europe.
Thus any commander who intends to keep a ‘United Nations’ command, while this state of affairs
continues, must carry out any orders, no matter what his military knowledge or national pride tell
him he ought to do. Up to the present the picture of a commander who conforms to that idea is
given by General Eisenhower, of himself, in his book, Crusade in Europe. At the time, when the
thing was in its beginnings, he may well have failed to see its true shape. I do not think that can be
hidden from any future commander, who will have before his eyes the way military victory in
Europe was converted into political defeat, and the obvious reappearance of symptoms of that same
result in Korea.
It fell to General Eisenhower to obey orders to make the Anglo-American advance in Europe, in
1944-45, conform with the Soviet advance from the east, so that in the end Communism swallowed
half of Europe. The Anglo-American military commanders, left to pursue purely military ends,
could have averted that calamity by pressing right through Germany, and beyond. General
Eisenhower repeatedly mentions recommendations by Mr. Churchill in some such sense, but says
he had to oppose them because they were ‘political’, where he was tied to ‘military’ considerations.
However, the supreme order to let the Red Armies get to the Berlin line first was the greatest
political one of these 1951 years, in my judgment.
Instructively, General Eisenhower refers to General Montgomery’s reputation for excessive caution.
He mentions this only to refute it, but by alluding to it at all gives the rumour further currency.
Then he mentions two occasions on which General Montgomery, after the Normandy landing,
urged a quicker and more vigorous advance; on both occasions General Eisenhower declined! The
second occasion was in September 1944, when General Montgomery urged that, if given full
support, he could rush right on into Berlin and end the war. ‘I would not consider it,’ General
Eisenhower says; and the picture of Europe today may be the result.
In 1951 General Eisenhower is Supreme Commander in Western Europe, and events might have
shown him that situations arise when a commander would do better to demur than yield. Of
General MacArthur’s dismissal, he said ‘When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions
which you accept’. In his book, however, he said, ‘The American soldier … is an intelligent human
being who demands and deserves basic understanding of the reasons why his country took up arms
and of the conflicting consequences of victory or defeat … Belief in an underlying cause is fully as
important to success in war as any local esprit or discipline induced or produced by whatever kind
of command or leadership action.’
The question arises from that, whether the American soldier, surveying Europe as the Allied victory
in 1945 left it, and Korea after the first year’s fighting, has any clear ‘basic understanding of the
reasons why his country took up arms’, or of ‘the underlying cause’. I do not see how a belief in
those essentials can be reconciled with unquestioning submission to orders which might blatantly
conflict with ‘the reasons’ or ‘the cause’, and think it might be grave if General Eisenhower took
with him into his second Supreme Command an inflexible respect for ‘certain inhibitions’.
For what was the result of General MacArthur’s dismissal? How far did it clarify ‘the cause’ or
improve the prospects? The answers may be learned from the remarks that were made about it by
leading men who approved of it. First, President Truman himself announced that his country ‘would
not strip itself of allies in order to follow General MacArthur into direct war on Communist China’
(the Chinese Communists, as I have neglected to mention, by this time were making war on
General MacArthur, and his successor). But if anyone ’stripped’ the American forces of allies, it
was apparently President Truman, who from the first forbade Chiang’s anti-Communist Chinese to
fight the Chinese Communists, and refused the aid of their armies! Words lose all meaning in these
debates.
Then the British Defence Minister, a Mr. Shinwell, announced that General MacArthur’s dismissal
had opened the way for the United Nations and Red China ‘to get together’. Red China, with its
puppet North Korea, was ‘the Communist aggressor’ against whom this enterprise was originally
launched. Now the aim was ‘to get together’.
Then, while American cheers for General MacArthur still resounded, the Canadian Minister for
External Affairs, Mr. Lester Pearson, declared that it was ‘a mistake to say the United Nations
forces were fighting in Korea to defeat Communism. The purpose there is to defeat aggression by
Communist states’. He added that ‘until the war is ended there can be no question of even
discussing whether Formosa should be handed over to the Peking regime’ (the Communist
Government foisted on China) ‘and the same view holds in regard to the recognition of the Peking
Government’.
That is clear. It means that when the war is ended there can be ‘a question of discussing whether
Formosa should be handed over’ to the Communists, and there can be ‘a question of recognizing the
Chinese Communist Government’.
That would mean rewarding ‘Communist aggression’ by handing over to the Chinese Communists
the last unsubdued anti-Communist stronghold, and a further reward in the form of recognition.
That would be a repetition of the events of 1945 in Europe: the expansion of the Communist area,
the increase of Communist voting-strength in the United Nations Organization, the abandonment of
the anti-Communist (or anti-Fascist) leader. It would be the exact opposite of ‘the reasons’ and ‘the
underlying cause’ proclaimed to the masses when the war was begun!
That should explain the mass of American enthusiasm for General MacArthur. He was seen as the
symbol of truth against untruth. At the time the statements were made, which I have quoted above,
ten thousand Americans had fallen in Korea, and mounting numbers of British, Canadian,
Australian, New Zealand, South African, Greek, Turkish and other soldiers. Surely at some point
The Boys must learn for what they are sent to fight? To masses of Americans, in any case, it must
have seemed that the exposure of a Mr. Alger Hiss (and to numbers of British Islanders, that of a
Dr. Nunn May, a Dr. Klaus Fuchs or a Dr. Bruno Pontecorvo) was wasted energy, if events were to
follow such a course as this.
I do not see how to escape the conclusion that, at any rate up to this point, military undertakings
were once again being ‘handled’ to pursue the ‘purposes’ of groups which have become supremely
powerful in America and England, and that these purposes were the opposite of any ’cause’ publicly
proclaimed. I think the aim is so to direct events that the last obstacles to the setting up of the
despotic World State shall be broken down; and these are, the remaining rights of property and
liberty in the American Republic and the British Island.
For the great secret which has been discovered in the Twentieth Century is this: that once you can
get The Boys marching you can behind their backs destroy all these remaining obstacles. You can
do anything at all! The solution to all problems lies in the magic words, Emergency Powers.
In England this process has been carried half-way to completion, or perhaps a little more; only the
last coup is needed. Income-tax is already nearly half of income, and taxation only begins there.
Men may no longer freely buy food, choose their occupations or build homes. They have as yet the
right to fair trial. All these inroads on property and liberty were begun under Emergency Powers in
the First War and enlarged under those taken by Mr. Churchill in the Second War. The restoration
of those rights was promised but in the event the Socialist Government of 1945 prolonged the
Emergency Powers temporarily, from year to year. The Korean enterprise once begun, they were
made permanent at once! Now they can only be thrown off by some great change or upheaval in
England; the people are half-way back to where they were centuries ago.
America almost escaped from President Roosevelt’s Emergency Powers after 1945. Save for the
great increase in taxation, they mostly fell away. The Korean enterprise once begun, President
Truman reintroduced his predecessor’s ‘State of National Emergency’, and America followed
England on to the downhill path, though some distance behind.
In both countries the chief device recommended by Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto for reducing
a free country to slave status (’a progressive income-tax’) was at once applied. President Truman
announced that his country ‘must be taxed until it hurts’; in England a Mr. Strauss, Minister of
Supply, foretold ’severe new taxation’, and this quickly followed.
The Plan goes on, by the methods now tried and tested. I do not now see much likelihood that
effective public opposition to it will arise before it is completed, because there is no effective
public realization of it. The chief reason for this is the astonishing submission of the world’s
newspapers to it. They are now so very largely served by news-agencies and political writers
working from a central source that their infestation by news and views, all coloured to serve the
hidden purpose, is almost absolute. Since I first set foot in a newspaper office thirty years ago the
deterioration in this matter has been fantastic; since I shook that dust from my feet twelve years ago
I have watched it constantly increase in speed.
I do not believe that far Korea has much more than the importance of a starting-button in these
events. A few years from now men will have forgotten where it is, and have to jog their memories
to recall that, like Poland, it was once proclaimed to be ‘a lighthouse of liberty’. I think the events
which will grow out of this event will prove to be mainly concerned with a different territory, the
one known to biblical prophecy as Armageddon.
Already tomorrow’s events are taking shape there. ‘If the war should spread’ (wrote a Zionist
newspaper, while all the world and his wife looked at Korea) ‘the Middle East is seen as a potential
danger zone, and new talks have taken place in Washington between Israel representatives and the
United States State Department on the subject of arms shipments to the Near East and protective
measures if Israel is threatened’.
Why is that particular piece of the globe held so vital by those who, quite transparently today,
control the acts of great governments? I think the answer is contained in some words spoken in
1950 to a Zionist audience by the World Zionist leader, Dr. Nahum Goldman (once again I am
obliged to a Zionist newspaper for knowledge of them). He said of Israel, ‘The state has been
established in one of the most difficult geographical positions in the world. It is very hard to find an
explanation, but it is a unique geographical position. In the days when we were trying to get the
Jewish state with the consent of the British Government and at one of the private talks I had with
Mr. Bevin, he said: “Do you know what you are asking me to do? You are asking me to deliver the
key to one of the most vital and strategic areas in the world.” And I said, “It is not written in either
the New or Old Testament that Great Britain must have this key”.’
That applies to any other country in the world today, not alone Great Britain.
Of the many methods by which these great ambitions are pursued, far behind the scenes visible to
the public masses, I can offer one other small but vividly illuminating glimpse (also from a Zionist
newspaper). At the time of the numerous exposures of Communist agents in British and American
atomic research in 1950 (the case of one ‘Professor Pontecorvo’ was in discussion at the moment), a
Zionist publication printed these statements:
‘The matter has brought into question, though still in a friendly and rather delicate manner, the
position of other foreign-born scientists, the overwhelming number of whom are Jews from
different parts of Europe. In fact, investigation has now revealed to the public that atomic research
is to a large extent a Jewish science … It is of some interest to disclose that before the war a
proposal was put forward to Dr. Weizmann to bring together some of the most noted Jewish
scientists in order to establish a team which would bargain with the allies in the interest of the Jews
… Only recently I saw the project as originally outlined … by a scientist who had himself achieved
some renown in the sphere of military invention.’
In the picture of such larger ambitions the Korean affair dwindles to the size of a speck, or perhaps
of a starting-button. As to that enterprise, whether it is to grow into a third world war or not, no
confidence can in my opinion be placed in any military or verbal campaign against ‘Communist
aggression’ while the victims of such aggression are represented by Communist commissars in the
debates of the United Nations Organization; while the Communist Party is left legal in the great
countries supposed to be united against Communist aggression; while Communist permeation
remains unchecked and unexposed in their countries and while their peoples are by the screw of
Emergency Powers ground ever deeper towards Communism.
The Korean undertaking could not at its start be accepted, until proof appeared, as a genuine bid to
punish ‘Communist aggression’ or check Communism; the political leaders of the two great
countries chiefly concerned, America and Britain, had for many years done their utmost to prevent
the exposure of Communist infiltration into their own governmental machines and today still
continue to cloak it, while publicly accusing and abusing ‘the worldwide Communist conspiracy’.
The conversion was therefore too sudden to be accepted without proof by deed. The first year of the
Korean affair, however, at every stage gave greater cause to doubt the genuine conversion and
genuine motive, and to suspect the continuance of the secret, false one.
If the real motive is to increase the authority of the United Nations Organization over peoples, and
to tighten the submission of peoples to it, the forward-looking reader should bear in mind that
among its delegations Communist voting-power is very strong and will be made stronger, as the
direct result of the Korean episode, if that is to lead to the abandonment of Chiang Kai-shek and the
mock-legalization of the Chinese Communist Government by its admission to the United Nations.
Quite apart from that aspect, anyone who knows the permanent staff of the United Nations
Organization would smile at the notion that it would wholly and genuinely support any attempt to
check, repress or punish Communist aggression. The permanent staff was assembled in those days
of greatest confusion which surrounded the fighting’s end in Europe; the days when Mr. Alger Hiss
was Presidential Adviser and first Secretary-General of the new world directorate. It is permeated
through and through with Eastern European Communists and Zionists, the spiritual kith and kin of
the persons who have appeared, as at the turning of stones, in those fragmentary exposures of
espionage and subversion which have occurred in the last five years in the United States, America
and Britain. This particularly applies to those organs of it, called ‘Unesco’ and the like, which are
clearly intended to be shadow-ministries of the future World Government.
In these circumstances, any World Government arising out of the United Nations Organization in
its present form would be a tyrannous, despotic thing comparable only, in my judgment, with the
carpet-bagger-and-scallawag regime which the North inflicted on the prostrate South after the
American Civil War, or the Soviet on prostrate Eastern Europe after the Second War of this
century. If the U.N. stables ever were truly cleansed, that might alter, but they have not yet been
and no sign appears of any true intention to purify them.
Beyond that, to my mind, lies the point where hopeful portents appear in the darkening, downhill
process. Until the Western world sees the actual reality of what threatens, it will not believe, for
authentic information is now denied the masses and in any case men’s minds disbelieve dangers yet
to come. But when the plan succeeds and the thing happens, men will at last see its face, and know
its clutch. Not all the carpet-baggers and scallawags could prevent the American South from
putting itself together again; the South survived and revived. That is the later stage to which I look
now in the greater picture.
The picture is that of ‘the deception of nations’. Revelation says that the final attempt will fail and
the old serpent be put in chains. That final attempt seems to be beginning now and in its last stage,
as I judge, aims at the disintegration of the American Republic and the British Commonwealth, not
at that of the Communist Empire. However, the happier outcome is yet to follow, and I expect by
way of later travels, farther and wider, one day to come to and witness that liberation from the thrall
which began in 1914.
*** P. P. S., JULY 1951
Between the writing of the Postscript and the publication of this book came the event which calls
for the Post-Postscript: the truce-parley in Korea.
This event was foreshadowed in an allusion made previously [ed: fourth paragraph of Postscript}:
‘whether the Korean affair for tactical reasons is allowed to subside, or is inflated into a third world
upheaval’. For tactical reasons which I think obvious, the intention as I write seems to be to allow
the Korean affair to subside. The reason appears to me to be that the Korean war was coming too
near to achieving its declared aim: a heavy defeat for ‘Communist aggression’. I do not believe that
result was ever genuinely desired by the forces which began it, and think the major facts of the
year’s fighting, 1950-51, plainly demonstrate this.
Before the truce-talks were even announced an American commentator, Senator Joe McCarthy, in a
speech which was suppressed by nearly all newspapers everywhere, said, ‘This Administration,
which has given us this caricature of a war, is now bent on an even worse horror: a phony and
fraudulent peace.’ I think this opinion accurate and borne out by the facts now available. If that is
so, it equally vindicates one I expressed in two books published after the Second War (From Smoke
to Smother, 1948, and Somewhere South of Suez, 1950): that the great governments of the West are
at present plainly servient to or infested by the agents of two super-national forces, Soviet
Communism and Zionist Nationalism, which pursue overriding ambitions; and that while this
condition continues no confidence can be put in any war proclaimed at its outset to be one of ‘The
West against Communism’. I thought that any such war would in the event be ‘handled’ to destroy
the last defences of personal liberty and property in the English-speaking countries and to enslave
them all to a bogus World State which would in truth be a Communist-Zionist directorate.
That would be the continuation of the process begun at Yalta, where the military victory of the
West was transformed into the political victory of these overriding forces, so that the major results
of the war were the expansion of the Communist Empire and the erection of the Zionist State, both
through the political leaders and military strength of the English-speaking countries. The course of
the Korean campaign, in my view, showed that these overriding forces remain powerful enough to
bend all military operations to their overriding ends (whether the truce now in negotiation is
completed or the fighting is renewed).
The theory may be tested against the facts now known. The Korean war is unlike any other in
history. Its course, like that of the Second War after the Communist Empire changed from alliance
with Hitler to alliance with the West, seems to me to have followed ‘a secret pattern to which we do
not as yet have the key’. The words, again are those of Senator McCarthy in his speech of June
14th, 1951, before the United States Senate, which I hold to be the most important document made
public (though suppressed by newspapers) since the Canadian Spy Report of 1946 and any who
wish to understand the real war that has been in progress since 1939, or 1914, should obtain it. I
think, however, that my theory, given above, provides ‘the key’.
I support the statement that the Korean war was, or is, unlike any other in history with the
following arguments.
It was begun, on his own authority, by an American president without any consultation of the
American people. That in itself is not new in history; despotic rulers have often sent their people
into war so. What is new in history is that the American representative at the Nuremberg Trials,
instructed by the same president, made this very thing a capital charge against the Nazi leaders. He
pressed for and obtained from the chief defendant, Goring, an admission that the German people
were not consulted when Hitler decided to make war on Soviet Russia. This point was laboured in
order to lay emphasis on the criminal irresponsibility of the Nazi leaders, and the consequent guilt
of individual German generals in following it.
Similarly, the British and other peoples were not consulted when they, too, were sent into the
Korean war, following the Americans. All these English-speaking peoples have now surrendered
their birth-rights to the dogma of ‘emergency powers’, set up during two world wars, under which
governments in the English-speaking world may at any instant throw their peoples into foreign war,
or domestic servitude, without further explanation than that of ‘an emergency’.
The supreme importance of that, to my mind, is not so much that these peoples can now be drawn
blindfold into war, for, unlike most others, I do not see war in itself as the supreme evil. The greater
importance of it is that they have also surrendered the power to scrutinize their governors’ motives
for beginning a war, the conduct of military operations, or the political outcome. The campaign
may be so ‘handled’ as to produce their own political defeat at the moment of military victory,
which means that the men of the English-speaking countries can be marched, through
‘emergencies’, to their own enslavement.
When I first visited America, in 1949, one of my earnest acquaintances, an American who seemed
at first sight a simple man, surprised me by a deeply perceptive remark. He spoke of the machine of
mass-suggestion which has been built in the last twenty years and said, ‘I guess this country could
be brought to fight any other country in the world after one month’s propaganda treatment by the
politicians, press and radio.’
He erred, however, by thirty days. Not even thirty seconds of propagandist preparation now are
necessary to set English-speaking soldiers on the march, from the American Republic, the British
island, the English-speaking countries oversea. Again, the supreme importance of that is not so
much that they are sent to fight, willy-nilly, but that they have no insight into or control over true
motives or real results. When they have fought and won, under this System, the political triumph
can be handed to their enemies.
General Eisenhower, who carried out the order which left half Europe in the Communist clutch,
wrote in his book that soldiers demand and deserve the truth about the reasons for a war they fight,
and need ‘belief in an underlying cause’. In Korea the valid reasons and the credible cause were not
to be perceived. The war ‘against Communist aggression’ there was begun by governments, in the
United States and Britain, which for five years (since the Canadian Prime Minister’s urgent flight to
and warning of the American President and the British Prime Minister in 1945) refused to expose
the Communist infestation of their own departments, agencies and services; they always
indignantly denied that the condition existed when some public expostulant called attention to it.
The exposures of it which occurred in the United States and Britain before and during the Korean
war (such as that of Mr. Alger Hiss and many others in America; of ‘Professor Pontecorvo’, Dr.
Klaus Fuchs, Dr. Alan Nunn May and others in England) were in every case brought about by
outside action, such as the persistent denunciations of a repentant Communist agent, or imperious
summonses from Moscow to desert), and never by the act of the London or Washington
Governments.
From the moment of the Canadian Prime Minister’s warning (and in the case of America much
earlier, for President Roosevelt was given proofs in 1939) the concealment of this situation by those
governments has been a clear sign that no ‘war against Communist aggression’ undertaken by them
could be held genuine, unless its course and outcome proved this. If the infestation were not
admitted, exposed and removed, the hidden forces clearly, from the outset of any new war, would
work for the political victory of the alien power to which they owed allegiance. Yalta was the first
major proof of their strength; Korea has yet to prove or disprove whether it is to be the second.
Obviously, until Communism is outlawed in the English-speaking countries, and the general
condition altered, of which the sporadic revelations have given only the most partial glimpses,
political defeat must be feared as the outcome of any war into which the men of the English-
speaking countries are sent, no matter how complete their military victory.
What were the signs of a genuine determination to arrest ‘Communist aggression’ in Korea? I do not
know of a clear one, but the causes for continued misgiving, until unmistakable reassurance is
given, were innumerable. The Korean campaign was waged under a Defence Secretary, in the
United States, who was earlier responsible for enforcing Communism on China, through pressure
brought on the anti-Communist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, and the cessation of supplies to him.
Politically, it was begun under a Foreign Secretary there who publicly proclaimed that he would
‘not turn his back’ on the convicted Communist agent (President Roosevelt’s chief adviser at Yalta)
who had been exposed in his own Department.
The war was conducted as one of ‘The United Nations Organization’. This was clearly the first
political defeat of the forces from the English-speaking countries which chiefly fought it, for the
Communist parentland and all the countries thrust into its grasp by this very United Nations
Organization in 1945 were full members of it. When the American commander in the field claimed
his immemorial military right of ‘hot pursuit’ of enemy aircraft, the American Secretary of State
claimed that this could not be demanded from the United Nations Organization because the
Communist Empire, from its seat, would veto this military action! Thus the commander in the field
was in vital operations subject to the enemy’s orders!
That is new in history, and even newer was the case of Formosa. This island was the last stronghold
of the Chinese anti-Communists. In past history none would have presumed to deny their leader,
Chiang Kai-shek, and his armies their natural right to fight the Chinese Communists, even before
these joined the Korean Communists in the attack on South Korea, ordered by the common masters
in Moscow.
Chiang Kai-shek’s offer to fight the Chinese Communist aggressor, however, was refused by the
President who rebuked General MacArthur for actions liable ‘to strip the United States of allies’.
That was not all. The American Seventh Fleet was ordered to protect the Chinese Communist
mainland from any attack by the Chinese anti-Communists on Formosa! The order simply stated
that the Seventh Fleet should immobilize the anti-Communist leader on his island and prevent any
landings by him on the China coast.
Thus of two American brothers, sent out in the name of ‘an emergency’, one might have been sent
to Korea to fight Chinese Communists and the other, if he were a sailor with the Seventh Fleet,
have had the duty of protecting them! That might equally apply to two British brothers; for all I
know British naval units may have shared in the blockade of the anti-Communists on Formosa.
It is in respect of this transaction, particularly, that I used the words, ‘The Korean war is unlike any
other in history’, and venture to think of it as transparently suspect in its motives and conduct.
The Korean war ended (in saying this I am assuming that the truce will be completed and the
fighting not be renewed) with the dismissal of the American commander who wanted to win it. As
soon as he was gone the word ‘truce’ began to echo through the corridors of the United Nations
Organization, the Communist Empire’s representative then pronounced it as publicly as he would
have uttered the veto on ‘hot pursuit’ of Communists, there was a mysterious journey of the
American Defence Secretary to Japan, and, as suddenly as the war began, the truce-parleys started.
The picture is that of semi-secret agreement among master-minds on both sides of the supposedly
opposed lines; it looks to be like a discussion at the board of directors of a chainstore undertaking
about rivalry between local branches.
The case of General MacArthur becomes more instructive as it recedes in time. He asked in his
speech to Congress, ‘Where is the merit in fighting an enemy merely in order to give him military
advantages?’ A commander of that mind might have found himself unable to carry out the order of
1945 in Europe, to ‘let the Russians take Berlin’; had there been such a general, and had he been
dismissed, the state of the world today would fully have vindicated him.
The British reader may not realize that General MacArthur is but one of a number of American
generals who have been relegated, have resigned, or have not received the promotion that seemed
due to them, apparently because they felt and rebelled against ‘the impossible dilemma between
duty and conscience’ which is recurrently thrust on generals in these days of overriding, occult
powers. To my mind, this dilemma arises from the fact that, in those mysterious, higher circles, the
notion prevails of ‘handling military operations’ to produce other results than those which the
military commanders and the masses believe they fight for. They feel the inhibitions from above,
the restraining hand, the falsity of the situation into which they are thrust, the danger to their men
and their victory.
Another reason why, I feel, the Korean war may be called unlike any other in history is that
General MacArthur was dismissed for questioning his orders just when the last German generals
were being hanged for unquestioningly obeying orders! The words I quoted above, ‘an impossible
dilemma between duty and conscience’, are those of a great authority, Lord Hankey, when he
commented in the House of Lords on the Nuremberg Trials. The American representative there,
Mr. Justice Jackson, with the approval of President Truman set up the principle, new in
International Law, that ‘the fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his government or of a
superior shall not free him from responsibility’. The German leaders and generals were hanged,
among other ostensible things, for obeying ‘the obsolete doctrine that orders from an official
superior protect one who obeys them’.
The highest appointments in the American fighting services, as a result of the Korean war,
apparently went to generals who accepted this ‘obsolete doctrine’ of unquestioning obedience.
General Marshall, the present Defence Secretary, once told Congress that in enforcing Chiang Kai-
shek’s submission to the Communists he merely carried out the instructions of an authority higher
than himself, and this answer seems to have been taken as conclusive. (It was General Marshall
who in 1942 proposed that the United States should withdraw from the war in Europe unless the
British agreed to a cross-Channel invasion that year. Hardly any American troops or craft then were
ready to take part in such an operation, to which Mr. Churchill’s dictum of the time applies, that a
hasty, reckless invasion might have proved ‘the only way in which we could possibly lose this
war’).
Similarly General Eisenhower, commenting on General MacArthur’s dismissal, spoke of ‘certain
inhibitions’ which a commander (presumably, other than a German commander) must accept. The
phrase must be taken to cover the last stage of operations in Europe in 1945, which were
subordinated to the order of President Truman (given on the advice of General Marshall and the
other Chiefs of Staff) ‘to let the Russians take Berlin’.
Another point in which the Korean war, I think, may fairly be said to be unlike any other in history
is that on three separate occasions before it began the American Foreign Secretary, Mr. Dean
Acheson, stated that neither Formosa nor South Korea fell within the American defence perimeter.
As the Communist invasion of South Korea then was immediately met by an American counter-
landing, the observer can only surmise that American opinion was at that time becoming restless,
so that a token of apparently genuine anti-Communist sentiment was thought in high political
circles to be necessary. The greater fact remains, however, that the American commander was not
allowed to make the countermove effective.
It seems to me clear that all these political and military moves were directed, by agreement on the
higher levels of all countries concerned, to some ambition not yet revealed. I think it to be the
progressive subjugation of the English-speaking countries to the World State. I might be wrong. Is
there any sure test by which the genuineness or fraudulence of the Korean war may be judged?
I think one offers: the question of Formosa and that (linked with it) of Communist, China’s
admission to the United Nations Organization over the body of Chiang Kai-shek and his anti-
Communists.
Here is another matter in which the Korean war may, without fear of challenge, be called unlike
any other in history.
At its start and for some time thereafter the official spokesmen of the American, British and
Canadian Governments (the three chiefly engaged) repeatedly recommended that Formosa should
be handed over to Communist China (as China itself had been handed over to Communism); that
Chiang Kai-shek’s government should be abandoned as the Polish and many other governments
were abandoned during the Second War; and that Communist China should be given membership
of the United Nations Organization in place of the anti-Communists, then, and as I write still, the
representatives of China there.
It seems to me astounding, even in these times, that this proposal to fight a war ‘against Communist
aggression’ for the purpose of rewarding Communist aggression with territory and power should
have been so openly made in such high places, and have been so supinely received by the peoples
of the three countries.
The observer of these times may see an intentional and sardonic cynicism in the terms which are
currently used to describe soldiers from the English-speaking countries. If they can openly be put to
such purposes as this, it may not be accident that they are coming to be spoken of as ‘bodies’ (a
word against which Mr. Churchill was moved vehemently to protest during the Second War),
‘General Issue Joes’, or beings ‘expendable’. It was in tune with this growing practice (also new in
history, I think) that an official American spokesman, in June 1951, said that after the glorious
inauguration of the World Force in Korea, American contingents would in future be ‘earmarked’ for
United Nations service. ‘Earmarking’, I believe, is a term hitherto used about cattle.
As the Korean war went on, however, a new factor arose in the situation, with which the planners at
high levels may not sufficiently have reckoned. This was the casualty-lists. The death of thousands
of American soldiers made an impression in America, painful enough to disquieten party-managers,
who live with thoughts of the next congressional or presidential election. The martyrdom of the
Black Watch and the Gloucesters, also, was vibrantly felt throughout the British Island and Ulster.
From this moment a change occurred in the allusions made by leading politicians to Formosa, the
desertion of Chiang Kai-shek and the elevation of Red China. In Britain and Canada no retraction
was made, but the politicians became quieter about the matter. In America, however, where the
bereaved were much more numerous, a complete alteration was made. The government’s official
spokesman said, frequently, publicly and plainly, that the United States would not allow Formosa
to be thrown to the Communist wolves on the China coast, or Communist China to be received in
triumph at the building of the Board of Directors in New York.
That is the point at which all may test the matter for themselves. If in the sequel, sooner or later,
Chiang Kai-shek is abandoned like so many before him, if Formosa is handed over to his enemies
and these are admitted to join the other Soviet puppets in New York, then the Korean war was
fraudulent in its motives from the start, and the only genuine thing about it was the casualty-list of
English-speaking soldiers, and those from Turkey, Greece and elsewhere.
I believe that this was in truth the issue at the root of the whole affair. As long as Formosa
remained an anti-Communist stronghold, China was not wholly Communist; the Communist area
could not be further expanded; and the number of Soviet satellites in the United Nations
Organization would not increase. Islands are notoriously difficult to conquer, as the British Islander
should know. The plan existed (the official statements of members of the governments leagued to
check ‘Communist aggression’ exist to prove it) to save Communist China the pains of conquering
Formosa by using the United Nations Organization to make another mock-legal transfer, in the
name of a war against Communist aggression!
I do not believe that plan has been dropped; I think the truce parleys in Korea are a sign that it will
be pursued by other methods. It may not be quite so easy now, given the suspicious and resentful
state of American opinion, to complete the transaction, but the attempt will in my judgment be
made, and by its success or failure the shape of the future may be known. If a truce is called in
Korea, memories in the English-speaking world will cool; in America the Communists will repeat
the 1945-46 campaign to ‘bring the boys home’; soon the stage may be clear for another Yalta.
All that is in flux at the moment, with the approach of an American presidential election probably
the decisive factor. The Communist Empire slightly prefers, on balance, to have the Democrats in
office there, rather than the Republicans, and for that reason might delay its hand until after
November 1952. The party-managers in America might calculate that Formosa could be handed
over and Communist China honoured before that, and an election yet be won.
Whatever the moment and the method, the powerful forces which at present clearly can bend
leading politicians of the English-speaking countries to their will, and use the United Nations
Organization as their instrument, plainly hold Formosa and the strengthening of Communist China
to be of major importance in their plans. I think they will not desist from the attempt to enthrone the
Chinese Communists on Formosa and in New York, and they will have strong support in London,
Washington and Formosa.
Korea, then, was the first full and open test of the uses which will be made of the fighting-men
from the English-speaking world, if their governors continue to subordinate them to the United
Nations Organization. As they were sent to fight they were in fact plainly told that the aim was to
help the enemy to military and political successes; General MacArthur was right about that, even if
he merely felt and did not fully perceive it. This is the result of surrendering national sovereignty
and national interests to a coterie or committee, housed on New York’s East River, which claims to
represent The World. A ’secret pattern’ is being woven there and in its design the armies of the
English-speaking world would be but puppets. Another, greater war, waged under these auspices,
would in my opinion merely repeat the history of Korea on a greater scale, if Korea is to repeat that
of Yalta. Ominously, as the Korean truce-parleys began, a report came from Washington that
General Eisenhower desired ‘an Allied army with a single flag, uniform and command to defend
Western Europe’. The flag, presumably, would be that under which Count Bernadotte was
murdered and General MacArthur was dismissed; to what effective extent Western Europe would
be defended may unhappily be judged by the example of Korea, which has been largely destroyed
and seems likely to be left in the Limbo-like state of Europe, at the best.
That might be inferred, too, from the words of the American President when the Korean truce-
parleys began. I heard him make a speech to a listless audience, which was more interested in the
fire-crackers, on July the Fourth, 1951. He did not proclaim the victory of the cause he had
proclaimed when he ordered American troops into Korea a year before, but that of another, quite
different cause, and as I judge the true one: ‘Men of the armed forces in Korea, you will go down in
history as the first army to fight under a flag of a world organization in the defence of human
freedom.’
That was ‘the victory’ then: that for the first time in history men were brought to fight under the flag
of an organization calling itself a world one. How far they were allowed to defend human freedom,
they may judge by what yet comes of the Korean episode. If it leads to a further increase in their
enemies’ strength within the ‘world organization’, the lesson would be plain, quite apart from what
happens to the Koreans.
This surrender of English-speaking troops to the purposes of ‘a world organization’, the motives and
ambitions of which are unknown to them, was only part of the successes which were won, through
the Korean affair, by the World-Planners. Another part was the further diminution of personal
liberty in the American Republic and the British island. All the American President’s speeches,
after the truce-talks began, followed the line begun by President Roosevelt nineteen years before:
the ‘emergency’ continued, there must be more and more taxation, more and more ‘controls’, less
and less ‘human freedom’. The American Republic is being dragged down the road descended,
before it, by the British people.
The ‘emergency’ goes on and clearly will continue until the forces which now dominate national
governments succeed in their aim of reducing the English-speaking world to slave status within
their World State, or are exposed and defeated. In that grand design of the twentieth century Korea
is but a stepping-stone towards the final stage of Armageddon.
By ‘partitioning’, through this bogus United Nations Organization, three flashpoints for the
culminating struggle have been made: in Europe, on the bisection line; in the Far East, in Korea;
and in the Near East, in Arab Palestine.
The great centre of the conclusive conflict, in my judgment, is to be the Near East. This part of the
world’s surface, in my opinion, is ‘earmarked’ to be the true seat of world government, and the
people who live there realize this much more clearly than the English-speaking peoples who have
been and will be used to conquer it.
The Prime Minister of the Zionist State has recently declared (in New York) that ‘the Jewish State
is not the fulfilment of Zionism’; that the present small state ‘has jurisdiction only over the Jews
living in it’ whereas ‘Zionism embraces all Jews everywhere’ and ‘we are still very far from the
Zionist ideal’; that within the next ten years four million Jews must be brought to the Zionist State.
The perceptive reader may survey for himself the future prospects which are opened by these
ambitions. Two world wars and thirty-four years of local Arabian warfare have been needed to set
up the Zionist State and to transport a million Jews to it. There are not four million Jews in the
world who wish to go to the Zionist State. To enable this new transfer of populations the cry of
anti-Semitism would have to be raised anew, probably in the later stages of some new war. To gain
the true perspective the reader should bear in mind the vast sums of American money which are
being poured into this part of the world, in order ‘to increase the ability of the recipient countries to
defend themselves’ (the words are those of an official American Government spokesman), and the
lengths to which American party-managers, on both sides, apparently feel themselves forced to go,
in the competition for the Zionist vote.
The signs of the outcome are clear to see, from the anti-British outbursts in Persia to the
assassination of King Abdullah of Jordan (the only Arab ruler who ever showed an inclination to
make a deal with Zionist Nationalism). The Near East is the great powder-keg, and the World
Planners are dancing round it with spark-scattering torches. At present few signs offer that the
leading politicians of the English-speaking countries will shake off the thralls which have led them,
for thirty-four years or more, to support by their deeds (whatever their words) the two exterior
forces which have brought about the present situation. Soviet Communism and Zionist
Nationalism. Until they outlaw the one and break loose from the other, the twentieth century and
the English-speaking peoples must move relentlessly towards their final test in the place called in
the Hebrew tongue Megiddo.
I can imagine that some future historian, writing perhaps a hundred years from now, might say
something like this: ‘In considering today the events which enabled conspiratorial sects from Asia
and Eurasia to gain power over the then mighty nations of the West and bring about the short-lived
but bloody fiasco of the World State, from the cruel effects of which they are even now but slowly
reviving, the historian is struck by the apparent absence of protest or resistance among the leaders
of those Western nations, which thus were deprived of what they had gained during two thousand
years. Very rarely, from what one can now tell, did a leading man see what impended or succeed, if
he saw, in making his voice heard. The Canadian Prime Minister, in 1945, was ignored by the
American and British leaders. A British Foreign Minister, Mr. Ernest Bevin, in 1945-51 seems to
have perceived the immense omens of the Zionist State and vainly to have tried to keep his country
from lending countenance to it. A British general, Sir Frededek Morgan, at one phase tried, equally
vainly, to call public attention to the grave danger of that enterprise. An American general, one
Douglas MacArthur, at a later stage (the astonishing campaign of 1950-51 in Korea) was dismissed
for his resistance to the hindrances that were placed on his leadership. In all countries a rare
politician, soldier or writer tried to stem the Gadarene stampede, but on the whole the process
seems to have been one of infatuated self-surrender to the forces of destruction. So much has been
lost of the truth of those days that today’s historian is himself at a loss to account for much that was
done or was not done, and for public acquiescence in it all, but even when that is said two things
remain to puzzle him: the fewness of the public men who resisted the occult forces which were
truly in control, and the apparent lack of public response even to their warnings.’
To any such comment I offer a reply across the century to come: ‘At the mid-twentieth century the
forces conspiring to enslave all the countries of the Christian West, especially the English-speaking
ones, were so greatly in control of public information, of every kind, that the masses knew next to
nothing of what went on and what impended. Public men, by the mid-century, had come to fear
these inhibitors too much to tempt their wrath, and any who did risk that ire were defamed by so
powerful a machine of the spoken and written word that even the masses, after lending an eager ear
of hope renewed for an instant, in the nature of masses then dully turned their backs on the speakers
and shunned them, thinking they must be evil after all. In that way they were brought again and
again to pit themselves against each other, always in the name of “freedom”, for their own mutual
destruction and enslavement; thus the shortlived but bloody fiasco of the World State came about.
Only when they experienced it did they know the truth and rise; and God must have willed it so,
good scribe of the year 2051, for “by a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust ensuing danger”.’
***
END
*** prepared by Truth Seeker – http://www.douglasreed.co.uk *** NOTES
1: The secession dispute itself is one of history’s recurrent jests, summed up by an American
humorist in these words: “If you admit the right of secession, sir, my sympathies are with the
South; if you deny it, God bless his Majesty!”
2: Who simultaneously attacked, but did not kill, the Secretary of State, Frederick Seward, the only
other man in Lincoln’s Cabinet who unfalteringly pursued reunion and reconciliation.
3: It is a striking reflection that in its homeland, Italy, ever racked by revolution and war, the weak
State authority has never yielded to the Mafia, but fought and fights it constantly down, whereas in
the mighty American Republic it has achieved its present peak of power, as the Senatorial inquiry
of 1950-51 fully and publicly confirmed.
4: In 1950 a Crime Committee of the U.S. Senate held an inquiry lasting a year into organized
crime and political corruption. Its report, issued in May 1951, tallied in many conclusions with
these observations of a casual outside observer.
5: The first Communist Government, according to the American Ambassador in Moscow in 1918,
consisted of ninety per cent of Russian-Jewish revolutionaries returned from America, and the ban
on anti-Semitism, with a death penalty, clearly identified the regime. In the following thirty years
Russian-Jewish dominance in international Communism was repeatedly shown by sporadic
disclosures in Canada and America, and this continues today. In Russia itself this dominance
appears to have persisted up to the present time, though masked by the withdrawal of recognizably
Russian-Jewish figures from the more visible places of power in the Soviet Union. In 1946 an
American Jewish authority, Mr. Louis Levine, reported at Chicago after a visit to Moscow, that
many of the high ranking government officials were Russian-Jewish: ‘They did not look Jewish but
they spoke to me privately in Hebrew or Yiddish.’ Russian-Jews, or men of Russian-Jewish origins,
predominated in the two short-lived Communist governments of 1918-19 in Hungary and Bavaria,
which fell because the Red Army, on that occasion, was not present to enforce their survival; they
reappeared in the Communist Government imposed on Hungary by the Red Army after 1945. The
dominant Russian-Jewish influence in the Government foisted by the same means on Poland was
remarked by an American Ambassador, Mr. Arthur Bliss Lane, and an English M.P., Major Tufton
Beamish, in books published in 1948 and 1949 and many other observers. The same thing
happened in Rumania. In Soviet-controlled Eastern Germany, according to a Zionist newspaper,
‘life has brought changes for the better; not a few Jews today occupy high positions in the
Government and Administration, positions which no Jew had ever before held in Germany … The
Supreme Judge in the Eastern Sector of Berlin is a Jew and so are several senior judges in the
provinces outside Berlin.’ Could the facts be ascertained, I think most of these men would prove to
be Russian-Jews or of Russian-Jewish origins. The first Israeli Government consisted of eight
members, all but one born in Russia or Russian-Poland. The Communist and Zionist movements,
therefore, appear both to be still under the paramount control of one section of Jewry, the non-
Semitic Russian-Jews or Jews of Russian antecedents, which now, in fact, rules over most of Asia
and a large portion of Europe and extends a powerful influence through America and England. A
clear picture of the whole process, however, cannot be gained without considering the fact that
Gentile politicians in Christian lands have decisively helped it, and that anti-Zionist Jews have
probably opposed it more strenuously, though as yet no more effectively, than non-Jewish leaders
anywhere.
6: A bright sidelight on the methods used in the ‘negotiations with princes’ (and, after their
disappearance, with politicians) which led to the rise of Zionism to its present status of a world
power: Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the doomed Habsburg throne, committed suicide on
January 30th, 1887. A few weeks before, wishing to make provision for a favourite woman friend,
Mitzi Kaspar, he obtained a loan of 100,000 gulden ‘from the banker, Baron Hirsch, in return for an
act of friendliness he had performed in December, when he invited the banker to meet the Prince of
Wales’ (the future King Edward VII). From documents in the secret archives of the Imperial Court
at Vienna, quoted by Count Carl Lonyay in Rudolf (Hamish Hamilton, 1950).
7: Dr. Weizmann told Mr. Truman that the Zionist State, as Egypt might deny it the use of the Suez
Canal, ought to have its own canal from Haifa or Tel Aviv to Akaba; two years later, as part of his
programme of global expenditure, Mr. Truman announced a ‘Fourth Point’ for ‘capital investment in
areas needing development’. This enterprise, which was earlier recommended in Communist
publications, might prove to include the new canal.
8: Apropos, an amusing experience befell me in England about the same time. I was approached to
broadcast to Austria, a service for which I was equipped by experience and knowledge of German;
later I received intimation that ‘friendly aliens’ already so employed would not feel comfortable if I
appeared among them and the matter was dropped. http://www.archive.org/details/FarAndWide

http://ia341229.us.archive.org/2/items/FarAndWide/far.pdf

Published on March 3, 2009 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

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