posted Jan 2007
table of contents
By Julian Hawthorne.
"BUT if, as you assure me," said I, addressing the intelligent personage with whom I had been conversing, "this is indeed my native land of America, it seems to be strangely altered since last night. What, for instance, has become of the cities ? I have been wandering about here for some time, and can see nothing but farm-houses of rather unpretending design, standing, each of them, in the midst of a ten-acre lot."
As I spoke, I felt a severe crick in my back.
My interlocutor smiled. " In what year, may I venture to ask, did you fall asleep?" he politely enquired.
In what year ? " I repeated. Why, the same year it is now, I presume — A. D. 1893. Why do you ask ? ''
"That explains a good deal, both for me and for you," was his reply. "We are now in the month of June, 1993, so your nap must have lasted a trifle over a century. I congratulate you."
" Your statement would probably have aroused my surprise, and perhaps even my incredulity," said I, "had I not during the last decade or two of the nineteenth century had occasion to read a number of books, all of whose authors had slept during periods of from ten to two hundred years. It is evident that the sympathetic drowsiness caused by their perusal has overcome me to a greater extent than I supposed. May I, without further apology, request you to enlighten me as to the nature of the changes that have taken place during my unconsciousness ? "
'' I applaud your aplomb, my dear sir," rejoined my companion, with a bow. "It has been my fortune to meet gentlemen in your predicament before, and a good deal of time has usually been consumed in the formality of convincing them that they were really so far ahead of their age as the facts showed them to be. You, I am gratified to see, are ready to start off at score. Would it be indiscreet to enquire whether you, like the rest, contemplate publishing the result of your investigations
JUNE, 1993. 451
in the periodicals of a century ago ?''
"You have divined my purpose," answered I, with a blush. " The fact is, I had promised a certain editor, a friend of mine, to prepare for his magazine a story of what''——
" I comprehend," interposed my friend. "It will give me pleasure to enlighten you, and I shall make no charge for my services. At the same time, it would gratify me to know the name of the periodical in which ''——
" With pleasure," said I ; and I mentioned it. My interlocutor's face immediately brightened.
"Indeed ! " he exclaimed ; " is not that the same that first took up the topic of mechanical flight, and published a number of articles proving its feasibility ? "
" The very same," replied I.
" The magazine in question is still in the apogee of its existence,'' he remarked, "and — as you perhaps are not aware — it had the honor of bringing out the first successful flying-machine. The world owes that magazine a debt never to be repaid ; and I need scarcely say that anything I or any of us can do to meet the wishes of its representative of the last century ''—— He ended with a courteous and cordial gesture that put me completely at my ease.
"Suppose, then," said I, "we begin with the disappearanee of the cities. How about it ? What happened to them ? ''
" By way of preparing your mind for a comprehension of that point," said my informant, '' you must remember that, even in your day, business men had taken advantage of the facilities—such as they were — of rapid transit, to leave town at the close of business hours, and betake themselves to a dwelling in the suburbs, from ten to fifty miles outside of the city limits. In this way they secured a quiet night's rest and a breath of country air. Now, it is evident that the distance they went from town was dependent solely on the rate of speed at which the trains of that epoch were able to travel. When, therefore, flying - machines were introduced, with a velocity of from seventy-five to one hundred miles an hour, the business man's dwelling was removed to a corresponding distance, and regions were occupied which had till then been inaccessible. The environs of the great cities were extended to a comparatively vast radius ; and in process of time cities were entirely given up to shops and manufactories, and the great bulk of the population slept some hundreds of miles away from them. Every afternoon, flocks of flying-machines set out in all directions for the country; and since the fare, even to the most remote points, was hardly more than nominal, there were very few who failed to take advantage of the opportunity to escape."
" In short," commented I, " distance, within certain large limits, no longer existed?"
'' Precisely ! And
JUNE, 1993. 452
now came the second step. It was found that the speed of flight rendered the existence of many large towns, comparatively close to one another, superfluous ; and it was suggested that all the manufacturing and commercial interests of the nation should be concentrated in a certain limited number of places, the geographical situation of which should be fixed to suit the convenience of the majority. Surveys showed that not more than four of these great centers would be required, and sites were accordingly chosen, two on the sea-coast, east and west, and two in the interior. In no other part of the continent is there so much as a single village. Every family lives on its own lot of land, averaging about ten acres, and all the old crowding of people together is forever done away with. Each family consists of from five to ten members, who do all their own agricultural work, and make a good deal of their own dry goods and clothing."
"You surprise me," said I. "What time have they left to amuse themselves and cultivate their minds ? "
"More than they ever had in the old times," was the reply. " You must make allowances for the spread of invention and discovery during the past century, and also for the greater simplicity of the general mode of life, to which I will refer presently. We have long since done away with servants, and with the laboring classes."
'' That servants should have been extirpated does not astonish me," I said, " since I find the rest of the human race still in existence ; and it was to be expected that the laboring classes would arrive at a point where the working hours would dwindle to nothing, and the pay increase to anything. But I confess I do find it a little incredible that ladies should have given up shopping ; and yet that is the inference your words seem to warrant."
"I doubt if you will find a woman in the country who even knows what shopping means," returned the other confidently. "It all came about naturally. So long as people herded together in cities, in constant view of one another, the imitative instinct of humanity was constantly stimulated, and that strange form of insanity called fashion was in the ascendant. But with the dispersal of the population, we began to act and think more independently, and each of us fell into the way of wearing such garments as suited us individually, instead of following an example set by some deformed or brainless man or woman in some remote part of the world. Though there is, broadly speaking, a certain uniformity in our male and female costumes, it is the result not of apish imitation, but of the gradual evolution of a dress which is proved to be hygienically and aesthetically the best. There is nothing more to it ; and the change is due to the abolition of cities, which, again, is the consequence, as I have pointed out, of the invention of human flight. And as shopping was occasioned solely by the demands of fashion, you may now understand why our women know and care nothing about it."
"But what has become of the gregarious instincts of humanity ?" I demanded. "I can understand that much is gained in the way of health and independence by your present system of life ; but there is an electric sympathy in crowds, of which men, as well as women, are conscious. This ten-acre lot arrangement prevents that altogether, and must lead, I should suppose, to an ever-increasing dulness and lethargy, hostile to intellectual and ethical development. What becomes of music, eloquence, and the drama ?"
"Your exception is well taken," said my companion. '' Human beings do need the occasional excitement pf one another's presence in large numbers ; the heights of enthusiasm and conviction would be unattainable without it. At the same time, you must have observed that the habitual dwellers in cities were less sensitive to these stimuli than those who were comparatively unused to them. Habit breeds callousness. The nightly lounge at the theatre and the opera, the weekly crowd at church, the parade on the fashionable avenues, the annual thronging to summer watering places, these customs only rendered those who indulged in them insensible to the very benefits they were designed to confer. So, also, the endless series of dinners, receptions, balls and routs which dominated what was called society, had the final effect of only boring to death the participants
JUNE, 1993. 453
in them. Yet they are, in themselves, excellent things ; the trouble was, that owing to the heaping together of people in inextricable masses, they were carried to an unnatural and intolerable excess. Our new plan of existence has not annihilated the principle of human meetings ; it has regulated and modified them, and thereby rendered them fully and invariably effective. In addition to the great business centers of which I have told you, there is an equal number of places whereon are built theatres, churches, museums, and great pleasure gardens and halls for amusement and for public meetings of all sorts. At these places, at stated intervals—five or six times a year— the people come together in vast numbers, for purposes of mutual entertainment, information and improvement. After a few days spent in this manner, they separate again, and disperse to their homes. In this manner they obtain the very best results of association, without running any risk of overdoing it. Of course, it is the flying-machine that makes such gatherings from all parts of the continent practicable."
"And don't the ladies wear bonnets at these gatherings?" I enquired, somewhat anxiously.
'' No one now wears either hats or bonnets," replied my informant. " It was discovered about sixty years ago that the hair is a sufficient and natural covering for the head, and nothing else is worn by anyone.''
"And where are your government headquarters, and your halls of congress ? " I asked.
"Nothing of the kind has existed for
JUNE, 1993. 454
many years," was the answer. "In the first place, the scattering of the population radically modified the character of the laws needed for our government; and the absence of municipalities and the difficulty of getting officers to carry out the behests of the law over so vast an extent of country, practically brought legislation to a standstill. But, on the other hand, it was soon discovered that laws were scarcely necessary, and were becoming less so every year. The pauper class was rapidly diminishing—it is now non-existent—because land speculation had been put an end to, and the land was free to whomsoever desired to settle on and improve it. Crimes against property ceased ; drunkenness died a natural death, owing to the lack of example and provocation which cities had supplied. Social vices diminished for the same reason ; and, in short, it appeared that there was little or nothing, in the way of pains and penalties for the law to do. The separate and independent mode of life adopted by the people taught them how to take care of themselves, and to be just to one another ; and the fact that immense improvements in the way of telegraphs and telephones had brought every individual of the nation into immediate and effortless communication with every other, gradually made the government of the people, by the people, for the people, a literal instead of merely a figurative truth. We are all under one another's moral supervision ; a wrong done this morning at the spot on which we stand, for example would, before sunset be known to every man and woman in America, and the wrongdoer would be henceforth marked. Matters of supreme public concern are still discussed, at need, at meetings of the delegates of the nation, and the results are disseminated over the continent, not as commands, but as counsel. Really, however, things mostly run themselves nowadays ; insomuch that not more than once or twice in my lifetime has it been found necessary to call a consultation of the delegates."
"But how in case of war ? '' was my next question. "Is not the power and concentration afforded by cities severely missed in such emergencies ? and are not meetings of the leading-citizens then indispensable, to devise measures for defence and to raise armies ? ''
" If you will reflect for a moment, I think you will perceive that a war would be a difficult thing to start," said the man of the twentieth century, lifting one eyebrow with an arch expression. '' Whom are we to fight against ? ''
"I don't refer to civil war, of course," said I, "but supposing you were attacked from the other side of the Atlantic?"
"The flying-machine is the universal peace-maker," answered he. "It is true that when it was first invented it was recognized as a most formidable war-
JUNE, 1993. 455
engine ; and I believe that it was employed for that purpose, to some extent, before the close of your century. Battles were fought in the air, and bombs were dropped into cities; no doubt there was a general feeling of helplessness and insecurity. It was easy for a single machine to destroy billions of dollars worth of property and innumerable lives. But the consequence was, that the fighting soon came to an end. It is always governments, and never peoples, who quarrel ; and the latter declined to assist in any further destruction. As soon as there was peace, there ensued a universal era of travel; everybody had his flying-machine, and there was a general interchange of visits all over the world. This continued for a dozen or twenty years. By that time, political geography been practically obliterated. I am speaking now, of Europe ; there was never any difficulty in this country. The nations made personal acquaintance with one another through the individuals composing them ; free trade had already become universal, since it was found impracticable to maintain custom-houses in the sky. Many persons settled down in what had formerly been "foreign" countries; by and by, there were no longer any foreigners , things got so mixed up that distinct forms of government became, as I told you, impossible and inoperative. The old world became a huge, informal federation ; and although Europe, Asia, Africa and Polynesia are still, in a sense, separate countries, it is only so far as they are geographically divided from one another. The inevitable consequence of this was the gradual adoption of a common language; and today the inhabitants of this planet are rapidly approximating to the state of a homogeneous people, all whose
JUNE, 1993. 456
social, political and commercial interests are identical. Owing to the unlimited facilities of intercommunication, they are almost as closely united as the members of a family; and you might travel round the globe, and find little in the life, manners and even personal appearance of the inhabitants to remind yon that you were remote from your own birthplace.''
"Personal appearance!" I repeated. " Surely I should find some modifications in Africa or China, for example? "
"Perhaps, if you are an exceptionally keen ethnologist. Of what blood should you take me to be? "
I looked narrowly at my interlocutor. He was a man of little more than middle height, with a square, compact brow, and refined, finely moulded features. The face indicated a justly balanced nature, intellectual, yet not to such a degree as to overpower the emotional. His figure was powerful and active and his bearing graceful. In short, I had seldom seen so handsome and manly a man.
"You are a New Englander,'' said I, after due deliberation, "of English—I think of Welsh—descent."
He laughed heartily.
"My great-great-grandparents were unadulterated Esquimaux," he replied. "No, we are pretty well disguised even now, and in another hundred years we shall be quite indistinguishable. But it is only fair to admit that the crossing of the races alone is not sufficient to account for the similarity of type. A new element of vitality, a new spirit, has been infused into the human race; and a change has evidently taken place in the interior physical constitution of the dark races, causing them to tend both in form and hue towards the Caucasian standard. It would not be in our present line of discourse to explain to you the causes of this ; but you must take into consideration the substantial unity of aim and feeling that now exists throughout the world, and remember that the body is formed by the soul, and is its material expression. But the alliance between physical and spiritual science had been scarcely completed in your day, I think^*and these hints may therefore not have much significance for you."
'' What you say is, nevertheless, interesting, and I doubt not it may be valuable," said I, with a bow. "Still, as you say, we are here to talk about the consequences of the flying-machine. Now, after making all allowances for your unquestionable improvements and advantages, it still seems to meihat life must be rather a dull affair in these last years of the twentieth century. What novelty or change is there to look forward to ? What excitement, what uncertainty or peril have you to anticipate, to brace your nerves and rouse your souls withal? You will soon — if you have not already done so — come to a standstill; there will be nothing left to hope for — and not to hope is to despair. My apprehension would be that your civilization will presently begin to retrograde; the old passions and follies of mankind will revive; they will deliberately turn their backs on what you call good, and revert to what you call evil ; and a century or two hence the world will be once more a barbarism, and the whole march of improvement will have to begin over again. And to tell you the truth, I would rather live in that age than take my place here now and never feel my pulse quicken at an unforeseen emergency, or strive for eminence, or dread disaster.''
" And were our condition what you suppose, I should certainly make the choice that you do," replied my companion. "But you have jumped to conclusions which the facts do not support. The main difference between life now, and as it was in your day, is that ours is comparatively an interior, and therefore a more real and absorbing life. For the first time in history we have a real human society. You had the imitation — the symbol — but not the true thing itself. You will admit that in a perfectly free state man will inevitably select that environment and those companions with which' he feels himself most in sympathy — where he finds himself most at home. Now, the power of flight, combined with the modification of the old political conditions that I have mentioned, gave to man this ability to live where and with whom he would. The perfect result could not be attained at once, as it might be in a purely spiritual state ; but the tendency was present and the issue was only a question of time. By degrees, the individuals throughout the world who by mind and temperament were suited to one another, found one another out, and chose habitations where
JUNE, 1993. 457
they might be readily accessible to one another. Thus, each family lives in the midst of a circle of families comprising those who are most nearly at one with it in sentiment and quality, and the intercourse of this group is mainly confined to itself. There is between them perfect and intimate friendship and confidence, and you will easily understand that they must realize the true ideal of society. There is no loss, no waste, no aimlessness in their communion; they are a constant stimulus and means of elevation to one another, and their advance in goodness and felicity is more rapid than you can perhaps realize ; but you know how human peace and happiness can be retarded by the selfish opposition of every man against his brothers, and you may infer what a transformation would ensue upon a reversal of that attitude."
" I recognize your point ; but there must still be a certain sort of monotony in this paradisiacal existence. Felicity is good as an occasional indulgence, but as a steady diet it is too relaxing. Misfortunes, griefs and disappointments—we need them just as much as we need salt, and cold weather.''
The twentieth century man shook his head and smiled. " Since, as I suppose, you are to return to your own historical epoch upon the conclusion of this interview," said he, " we may agree to differ, for the present, as to the objection you raise. But when you come back to us again for good, I think you will find our life to be not less arduous and full of vicissitudes than your own. This earth will never be quite heaven ; there will always be struggle, uncertainty and incompleteness. Nor will you find these less poignant because the plane of activity is a more interior and vital one than you have yet known. As your perceptions become more acute, your emotions more sensitive, and your intellect more comprehensive — as your spirit, in short, learns to master your body — you will enter upon an experience compared with which the most stirring career of old times would seem tame and vulgar. But just as your dog or your horse could not be influenced or in-
spired by the things which mould and agitate your own life, so you—pardon me — are as yet incapable of appreciating the subtle but mighty forces that educate and purify us. This power of flight, on which our present civilization is conditioned, is, like other material phenomena, an emblem. We are lifted to a higher sphere, and thereby to a perception of truths to which the nineteenth century is as yet a stranger."
'' It strikes me, sir,'' said I, '' that you have intimated that I, and with me the friends and acquaintances whom I have temporarily left behind me in the year 1893, are little better than so many asses. I might brook the personal aspersion on myself; but I can do no less than resent it on the part of those whom I have the honor to represent. I fail to see that further intercourse between us is desirable ; but, in bidding you good-day, I may remark that I think a more modest attitude on your part would have been becoming ; for you must admit that whatever you and your civilization are, is due to me—insomuch that if I had not had this dream you would have had no existence whatever. Yet I am willing to be lenient, and the only retaliation I shall permit myself for your discourtesy is simply to wake up and thereby relegate you to the nothingness out of which you have been evoked."
Table of contents:
Frontispiece, James G. Blaine............................... 386
Monte Carlo. H. C. FARNHAM .......Illustrated. 387
After Mist in Winter, (poem.)
ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN ............ 398
The Beet-root Sugar Industry,
Illustrated. H.S. ADAMS ........................ 399
Oriental Rugs. S.G.W. Benjamin.........illustrated. 407
Toki Murata. SEWALL READ .................... 418
Illustrated by George Wharton Edwards.
James G. Blaine. T.C CRAWFORD ............illus. 429
" I Know Not if I Love Thee." (poem)...................... 439
The Evolution of Naval Construction.
Illustrated. S. EARDLEY-WILMOT .............440
June, 1993. Julian Hawthorns ............. 450
Illustrated by Dan Beard.
The Unillumined Verge, (poem.)
ROBERT BRIDGES ................. 458
Democracy and the Mother Tongue.
JOHN COLEMAN ADAMS .......... 459
The Great Railway Systems of the United States.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.
Illustrated. CHARLES C. GLEED ..........465
Suffrage. E.E. HALE ....................... 476
Cachuca Amorita. WILSON DE MEZA ................481
Illustrated by the Author.
Lullaby, (poem.) ARTHUR SHERBURNS HARDY.....494
A Traveller from Altruria.
W. D. HOWELLS................... 495
Dusk, (poem.) WILLIAM WILFRED CAMPBELL 500
Lord Beaconsfield. ADAM BADEAU ......Illustrated. 501
Rebellion and Revolution, (poem.)
CHARLES W. COLEMAN...........512
VOLUME. XIV. edited by JOHN BRISBEN WALKER
PRICE, 25 cents