when the President of the World first declared the developement of his policy – Benson The Lord of the World
Oliver Brand stepped out from the Conference Hall in Westminster on theFriday evening, so soon as the business was over and thePlenipotentiaries had risen from the table, more concerned as to theeffect of the news upon his wife than upon the world.He traced the beginning of the change to the day five months ago whenthe President of the World had first declared the development of hispolicy, and while Oliver himself had yielded to that development, andfrom defending it in public had gradually convinced himself of itsnecessity, Mabel, for the first time in her life, had shown herselfabsolutely obstinate.The woman to his mind seemed to him to have fallen into some kind ofinsanity. Felsenburgh’s declaration had been made a week or two afterhis Acclamation at Westminster, and Mabel had received the news of it atfirst with absolute incredulity.Then, when there was no longer any doubt that he had declared theextermination of the Supernaturalists to be a possible necessity, therehad been a terrible scene between husband and wife. She had said thatshe had been deceived; that the world’s hope was a monstrous mockery;that the reign of universal peace was as far away as ever; thatFelsenburgh had betrayed his trust and broken his word. There had beenan appalling scene. He did not even now like to recall it to hisimagination. She had quieted after a while, but his arguments, deliveredwith infinite patience, seemed to produce very little effect. Shesettled down into silence, hardly answering him. One thing only seemedto touch her, and that was when he spoke of the President himself. Itwas becoming plain to him that she was but a woman after all at themercy of a strong personality, but utterly beyond the reach of logic. Hewas very much disappointed. Yet he trusted to time to cure her.The Government of England had taken swift and skilful steps to reassurethose who, like Mabel, recoiled from the inevitable logic of the newpolicy. An army of speakers traversed the country, defending andexplaining; the press was engineered with extraordinary adroitness, andit was possible to say that there was not a person among the millions ofEngland who had not easy access to the Government’s defence.Briefly, shorn of rhetoric, their arguments were as follows, and therewas no doubt that, on the whole, they had the effect of quieting theamazed revolt of the more sentimental minds.Peace, it was pointed out, had for the first time in the world’s historybecome an universal fact. There was no longer one State, however small,whose interests were not identical with those of one of the threedivisions of the world of which it was a dependency, and that firststage had been accomplished nearly half-a-century ago. But the secondstage–the reunion of these three divisions under a common head–aninfinitely greater achievement than the former, since the conflictinginterests were incalculably more vast–this had been consummated by asingle Person, Who, it appeared, had emerged from humanity at the veryinstant when such a Character was demanded. It was surely not much toask that those on whom these benefits had come should assent to the willand judgment of Him through whom they had come. This, then, was anappeal to faith.The second main argument was addressed to reason. Persecution, as allenlightened persons confessed, was the method of a majority of savageswho desired to force a set of opinions upon a minority who did notspontaneously share them. Now the peculiar malevolence of persecution inthe past lay, not in the employment of force, but in the abuse of it.That any one kingdom should dictate religious opinions to a minority ofits members was an intolerable tyranny, for no one State possessed theright to lay down universal laws, the contrary to which might be held byits neighbour. This, however, disguised, was nothing else than theIndividualism of Nations, a heresy even more disastrous to thecommonwealth of the world than the Individualism of the Individual. Butwith the arrival of the universal community of interests the wholesituation was changed. The single personality of the human race hadsucceeded to the incoherence of divided units, and with thatconsummation–which might be compared to a coming of age, an entirelynew set of rights had come into being. The human race was now a singleentity with a supreme responsibility towards itself; there were nolonger any private rights at all, such as had certainly existed, in theperiod previous to this. Man now possessed dominion over every cellwhich composed His Mystical Body, and where any such cell asserteditself to the detriment of the Body, the rights of the whole wereunqualified.And there was no religion but one that claimed the equal rights ofuniversal jurisdiction–and that the Catholic. The sects of the East,while each retained characteristics of its own, had yet found in the NewMan the incarnation of their ideals, and had therefore given in theirallegiance to the authority of the whole Body of whom He was Head. Butthe very essence of the Catholic Religion was treason to the very ideaof man. Christians directed their homage to a supposed supernaturalBeing who was not only–so they claimed–outside of the world butpositively transcended it. Christians, then–leaving aside the mad fableof the Incarnation, which might very well be suffered to die of its ownfolly–deliberately severed themselves from that Body of which by humangeneration they had been made members. They were as mortified limbsyielding themselves to the domination of an outside force other thanthat which was their only life, and by that very act imperilled theentire Body. This madness, then, was the one crime which still deservedthe name. Murder, theft, rape, even anarchy itself, were as triflingfaults compared to this monstrous sin, for while these injured indeedthe Body they did not strike at its heart–individuals suffered, andtherefore those minor criminals deserved restraint; but the very Lifewas not struck at. But in Christianity there was a poison actuallydeadly. Every cell that became infected with it was infected in thatvery fibre that bound it to the spring of life. This, and this alone,was the supreme crime of High Treason against man–and nothing butcomplete removal from the world could be an adequate remedy.These, then, were the main arguments addressed to that section of theworld which still recoiled from the deliberate utterance of Felsenburgh,and their success had been remarkable. Of course, the logic, in itselfindisputable, had been dressed in a variety of costumes gilded withrhetoric, flushed with passion, and it had done its work in such amanner that as summer drew on Felsenburgh had announced privately thathe proposed to introduce a bill which should carry out to its logical conclusion the policy of which he had spoken.Now, this too, had been accomplished.