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Long Ropes and Strong Stakes
Condensed from The Ladies' Home Journal (Feb.)
SAIAH, brooding over the estate of his people, flashed out his vision of their need: "Lengthen your ropes and strengthen your stakes." Any camper recognizes that when you pitch a tent, if you lengthen the ropes you must strengthen the stakes.
One does not have to look far in modern life to discover examples of such increased extension calling for increased stability. A prominent business man recently went to pieces in a collapse of character that astonished his friends. He had all the typical modern virtues energy, forcefulness, vigor, the aggressive ability to put things across. But he lacked moral stability. Evidently his activity had been stretched at the expense of his steadiness. Anyone who knows either biography or history knows that one of the primary tests of character is the ability to increase staunchness as you extend strain. Man's life is like a tree. Branches demand roots; every increase in the superstructure, giving purchase for the wind to get hold upon, requires a new grip on the steadfast earth.
Some of the most lamentable collapses in history have taken place in over-extended lives which neglected this elemental necessity. Francis Bacon, for example, had one of the most useful and able minds ever intrusted to a man. When he was scarcely 15 years old a great thought took possession of him that is fairly indicated in a memorandum never intended for publicity: “Believing that I was born for the service of mankind, and regarding the care of the commonwealth as a kind of common property, which, like the air and water, belongs to everybody, I set myself to consider in what way mankind might best be served, and what serv
ice I was myself best fitted by nature to perform." He probably would have died in respectability had it not been for his advancement in power. He was made Lord Chancellor of England, which made him one of the most powerful, as he was the most learned, man of the empire. And then he fell. Convicted of gross bribery and financial corruption, to which he abjectly confessed, he lived his last five years a disgraced man.
Countless similar stories bear witness to the fact that man's life is built like a Gothic cathedral. Every new arch must be braced with a new foundation. Lifting the altitude or spreading the expanse of the nave requires stronger supporting walls or flying buttresses. And the difficulty in our expansive modern life lies here: Ever achieving new powers, enlarging our opportunities, widening our liberties and everywhere complicating our lives, we forget that unless we correspondingly strengthen our moral and spiritual foundations the whole over-extended superstructure I will come down about our ears, as did the old Philistine banquet hall when Samson broke the pillars.
Our young people present an illustration of this truth. They are enjoying a greatly extended freedom, to balance which they have not yet achieved a stabilizing self-control. Let us rejoice in this freedom: A visit to the Far East should encourage our wavering faith in the general soundness of our Western methods of treating youth. The whole Asiatic tradition is on the side of solving youth's problems by seclusion and repression. In an old-fashioned Chinese home, the girl from her twelfth year on did not go outside her father's house until she went to her
husband's, and a Japanese girl when grown could say that she had never come so near a man as even to touch the hand of her brother.
We in the West are trying the opposite method. An unchaperoned group of girls from "our best families" recently went on a publicly organized European tour. During the entire trip they drank to excess, they smoked to excess, and their personal immodesty became a scandal to the party. They were enjoying a degree of liberty never before accorded to young women, and they were betraying their utter inability to handle it. Granting the social restraints of even a generation ago, those same girls probably would be decent, modest, self-respecting young women.
Real freedom never consists in mere release from old restraints. A young tree with a cage around it for support achieves only the freedom to fall over when the wind blows, if that support be removed. The first step toward real freedom for that tree is to grow deep roots of its own on which it can depend. Freedom never is obtained by mere release from old limitations; freedom is the positive substitution of inward self-control for external restraints.
This unlearned truth has cost the race some stiff experiences. Freedom in the state does not consist in making a tyrant stop taking charge of the people; it consists in the intelligent ability of the people to take charge of themselves. One can shoot a Czar and get Lenine and Trotzky instead. Real democracy was not won when kings went; real democracy is still to be won. The facts which our incipient democracy must face are more staggering than the tyrants of old were-for example, that of all the white men drafted into our army 30 out of every 100 could not read newspapers or write letters; that at the last presidential election almost twenty-eight million who were qualified to vote did not exercise that privilege; that in the United States four million people are living in destitution.
No revolution in human history is more important than the emancipation of womanhood to her present independence. She has won the right to be educated. It was not easy to win. Long and difficult, too, has been woman's struggle for the right to work. Yet, unless we can get out of the new system motherhood as consecrated, spiritual quality as fine, idealism as exalted, religious faith as cleansing and ennobling as distinguished previous generations, the new system will have failed in its most important object.
The life of a merchant prince or financier of Revolutionary days must have been comparatively simple. How we have lengthened our ropes since then! Many a modern business man as a matter of course now carries responsibilities so great that in comparison an ancient emperor would look like a small retail merchant on a side street. In consequence, the immediate need of our business life is not more extended activity but more fundamental morality. So, in a military operation, the process of advance may be carried perilously far. The time comes when the men must dig in, the lines must be consolidated, the communications with the base must be re-established.
By this new world of complicated relationships the lives of all of us are encompassed. The resultant need is evident. Long emphasis upon expansion must be matched by renewed emphasis upon those spiritual forces which stabilize and fortify men, confirm them in self-control, give steadfastness to meet strain. And among all such forces there is nothing to compare with real religion. We are energetic, forceful, progressive. But we are also distracted, overstrained, restless. We lack adequate spiritual reserves, and it can never be well with us until we find them.
Peace, for example, in its personal meaning, is a word which is not only inapplicable to modern life but is even distasteful to modern ears. Yet peace one of the supreme, positive (Continued on page 724)
The Greatest Genius in History
Condensed from The Mentor (Jan.)
EONARDO DA VINCI is known to most people simply as the painter of "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper," probably the two most celebrated pictures in the world. But scarcely one person in one hundred realizes the full and amazing extent of Leonardo's genius.
Leonardo was born at Vinci, a picturesque Tuscan mountain town, in 1452. He was the illegitimate son of a celebrated Florentine lawyer, and of a woman of humble birth. Brought up by his father, the boy enjoyed the best education that could be obtained in Florence. He grew to be a youth of extraordinary charm and attainments. His physical strength is celebrated through the legend that he could bend the extremities of a horseshoe together by squeezing it in one hand. When but an apprentice he painted with such amazing skill that his teacher realized that Leonardo's work was superior to his own.
Leonardo's daring projects in hydraulics, architecture, mechanics and military and civil engineering amazed his contemporaries. He was a dazzling figure. He outrivaled the youth of the city in feats of strength, of horsemanship, of recitation. We have a glimpse of him buying caged birds in the market place to set them free, or as standing in the piazza, a radiant youth, radiantly dressed, explaining to the populace the great projects that he planned.
About 1483 Leonardo left Florence for Milan where he spent the sixteen most fruitful years of his life. acted as a general factotum for the ruler, taking charge of military, engineering, and architectural projects, and even designing and directing great court pageants and festivities. Yet he found time to fill his notebooks
with his studies in statics and dynamics, in anatomy, mathematics, perspective, and light and shade. He wrote a treatise on painting. He sculptured in marble, bronze, or clay. He produced a great monument, over twenty-six feet high, probably_the finest equestrian statue of the Renaissance, later destroyed by Gascon archers. The crowning achievement of these years, however, was the masterpiece, the world-famous "Last Supper," a wall decoration in a monastery.
As he grew older he gave less and less time to art and more to scientific studies. He traveled extensively in central Italy, as a military engineer, making many drawings and maps of the regions he visited. Upon his return he finished "Mona Lisa," now in the Louvre. His biographer writes: "Leonardo made use of this device: Mona Lisa being very beautiful, he employed people to play and sing, and continually jested while working on the picture in order to keep the lady merry and thus banish that air of melancholy which is so often seen in painted portraits. In this picture there was a smile of such charm that it seemed more divine than human, and was esteemed a miracle, since it was nothing else than alive."
In 1516 Leonardo took up his residence in France, where he died on the second of May, 1519-comparatively poor. He left some five thousand pages of manuscript, now scattered through collections in Europe, from which we know that this universal genius was in many ways centuries ahead of his time. On submarine warfare he wrote in 1520: "By a certain machine many may stay some time under water. And how and why I do not divulge by reason of the evil na
ture of man, who would use it for assassination at the bottom of the sea by destroying ships and sinking them, together with the men in them."
Leonardo was curious about all things. As artist and sculptor, he made detailed study of the theory of light and shade, of perspective, of color. In four centuries that have passed, his skill in drawing the folds of drapery has never been surpassed. He did bronze casting; he dissected men and horses and became an excellent anatomist; an architect of eminence, he assisted in the construction of the Cathedral of Milan; he studied the construction of the dome and the arch, devised ingenious military engines and fortifications, and carried on the building of the Martesana Canal. He wrote on botany, on astronomy, on physiology, on physics, on mathematics, on philosophy. He wrote moral precepts, drew maps of Italy and plans of the spiral construction of sea shells, devised a life-saving belt, and wrote on warfare. We think of the flying machine as a present-day example of the inventive genius in
America-yet Leonardo planned a flying machine in 1490, two years before America was discovered. A model of his flying machine is in the United States National Museum at Washington.
Today there exist but five pictures in the world attribued to Leonardo whose authenticity is undisputed. As a draftsman he was far more prolific than as a painter. The many beautiful drawings which he left are among the world's greatest art treasures. On his deathbed Leonardo reproached himself for having offended God and mankind in not having labored at his art as he should have done. The imagination leaps at the idea of the treasures which Leonardo might have left posterity had he given more time to painting and sculpture. His art is unsurpassed, if it has indeed ever been approached. Characteristic of his enormously active career is the single sentence entitled "A Prayer,” to be found in his manuscripts: "Thou, O God, dost sell us all good things at the price of labor." Another of his sentences: "As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life, well used, brings happy death."
(Continued from page 722) achievements of the human spirit, because it means the possession of adequate resources. Peace in daily life is the consciousness of health and ability to spare so that when one's tasks are done there is a margin all around. Peace in business is the consciousness of capital in plenty, su that one need not fear what the day may bring. Peace in the family is the consciousness that, under all the strains inevitably incident to the running of a home, there is unfailing wealth of love and devotion and fidelity to fall back upon. Peace in the soul is the consciousness that, however difficult life may be, we are not living it alone, that above and
beneath and around us are the resources of the Eternal Spirit, that we can depend upon the reality, nearness and availability of the Unseen Friend. In this age of over-extended activity, our streets are thronged with people whose fundamental need is such spiritual underpinning. This twentieth century is desperately in need of stabilizing forces, and in personal character one of the primary tests is the ability to realize in experience an ideal presented long ago: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock."
Tragedy in Vienna
Condensed from The National Geographic Magazine (Jan.)
1. Pitiable plight of the middle class.
2. Gingerbread costs more than team of horses before war. 3. Tales of distress at Professor's Mess.
4. Living rooms commandeered by city.
NTIL recently one of the richest and gayest cities on the Continent and the center of Europe's oldest empire, Vienna is today the capital of a few mountains and rivers that occupy a small corner of her former dominions. Surrounded by countries that are nursing ancient grudges against her, depending on them for nearly all her food and fuel, and with only worthless money with which to pay her bills-this is the fate which has brought almost unparalleled national misery upon a highly civilized people in a famous center of learning, art, and culture.
Forming a fourth of the population, the entire middle class, to whom the city owes its greatness, is beggared, hopeless, and apparently doomed to extinction. While the wages of skilled labor have almost kept pace with the depreciation of the crown, the incomes of the middle class have dwindled away to almost nothing. The rent law holds their old homes for them, and there they hide away from the sight of the city, creeping forth once a day to be fed in the community kitchens. They have long since pawned their trinkets and sold their furniture, linen, books, and clothing to second-hand dealers.
arrival of a baby among them is considered a catastrophe. A holiday, a new dress, a theater ticket are not to be thought of any more.
Near the outskirts of the city one sees armies of ragged women and children on the city's dumping grounds combing the heaps of refuse for bits of food, metal, or glass. Families carrying two or three chickens under their arms take their fowls from spot to spot setting them down to peck at any likely looking mound, while a child is sent ahead to prospect for another place with possibilities.
2. Every week new price lists are posted in the shop windows, where they are studied by housewives. Re- . cently a middle-aged woman in tears stood before the price list. She had just the sum needed to buy a loaf of bread at yesterday's price. She said she was an officer's widow, who before the war had received a pension of 80 crowns ($16) a month. Now she has 100,000 crowns from the government, worth only $1.25 a month. A gingerbread horse coated with frosting costs 15,000 crowns-5 times the sum her brother paid before the war for a real team of horses. Her income buys just 15 loaves of bread a month. One meal a day in the community kitchens is keeping her alive.
3. The writer was a guest at the Professors' Mess last June, maintained by the American Relief. Here the most brilliant men of Vienna were fed every day at the cost of a cent and a half. Famous scientists, archeologists, mathematicians, and historians, whose the faces were color of wax undernourish