The warning voice of the more prudent men of science was silenced by the loud enthusiasm of the younger generation over the solution of the greatest of the world-problems: the genesis of living beings had been brought to light, and a thing which admitted of no doubt man as well as the brute creation was a product of purely natural evolution.
But until Germans realise, as the other Powers are slowly realising, that the true basis of Empire is not a love of glory but a sense of responsibility towards backward peoples, it will be hard to readmit them into the comity of the Great Powers. Only a sense of common purposes and ideals, and of joint responsibility for world-problems, can make the Concert of Europe a reality.
Their knowledge of languages passed the common; in earlier years they had travelled, and their reminiscences fostered the liberality which was the natural tone of their minds. To converse familiarly with them was to discover their grasp of historical principles, their insight into philosophic systems, their large apprehension of world-problems.
We have yet to induce the modern citizen to pay continuous attention to issues which, although they are seemingly remote from his purview, may at any moment shake the whole fabric of his everyday existence; and, when we have done this, we have to persuade him to approach these world-problems not in the spirit of a competitive aggrandizement but with a view to discovering what is the best line of policy in the interests of the world as a whole.
Other way around you get Tannhauser and Venus and Elizabeth; two women, one man; more triangle and more trouble. Yes." And I nodded at him again. The tide of my thought was pulling me hard away from this to other important world-problems, but my will held, struggling, and I kept to it. "You wait," I told him. "I know what I mean. Trouble is, so hard to advise him right."
He is in touch with the humors and graces of European courts and cities, has rapport with the rich-dyed, unchanging, double-dealing East, enjoys the picaresque life of the Spanish mountains: he feels the tragedy of vanished Rome, the marble appeal of ancient Athens, the mystery of the Pyramids, the futility of life; his books palpitate with world-problems.
"Half the good my books do would be instantly destroyed," he said sadly; "they would say that I wrote with my tongue in my cheek. Wait till I hold the solutions of the old world-problems in my hands! Wait till the light of this new revelation breaks upon confused humanity, and it wakes to find its bravest hopes justified! Ah, then, my dear Laidlaw "
After reading and listening to a great deal of this sort of assertion I find that the question forms itself with more and more distinctness in my mind: Who are those who assume to put hard questions to other people and to demand a solution of them? How did they acquire the right to demand that others should solve their world-problems for them?
If one asked him "Why are we at war with Germany" this regular soldier would scratch his head, struggle to find a reasonable answer, and mutter something about "them bloody Germans," and "giving a hand to the Froggies." Of international politics, world-problems, Teutonic ambitions, Slav perils, White Papers or Yellow Papers, he knew nothing and cared nothing.
But my will was getting all the while a stronger hold, and my thoughts were less and less inclined to stray to other world-problems; moreover, below the confusion that still a little reigned in them was the primal cunning of the old Adam, the native man, quite untroubled and alert it saw John's look at me and it prompted my course. "Yes," I said. "He wants the truth from me. Where's his letter?