Address at the Universal Peace Congress Banquet, October 7, 1904

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There is an old story of a London showman who used to exhibit two skulls of Shakespeare--one skull of him when he was a boy and went poaching, and another when he was a man and wrote plays. It seemed more probable to that showman that two acts of creation should have taken place than that the roistering boy who went poaching should ever have peopled the London stage with all the world.

I should like to confide a secret to this audience; that is, that the human family, as old as it is in its national life, in its national relations, is still a very young roistering boy, that it is still using its poacher's head. No doubt when the young Shakespeare went out into the woods he was stirred by the spirit of youthful adventure, and he saw no other way of having a good time. There is no doubt that when he did these things he was reprimanded by the good people of Stratford; he was told that poaching was an evil; he was told to feel sorry for the deer; he might even have been told to organize a society to take care of the deer during its dying hours. He was not told, to be sure, to move into his grown-up head; as an alternative he had only his village public and the bad ale.

During this Conference many times I have wished that we might induce people to use not the poacher's skull, but that we might bid the international man to move into his grown-up skull; that we might tell him that adventure is not only to be found in going forth into new lands and shooting; that youth and spirit can find other outlets; that we might make clear to him the pleasures that lie in the human city. I do not imagine that when Shakespeare saw his Hamlet first walk upon the boards, he grew homesick for his deer stalking. I do not imagine that, if the race once discovered the excitement and the pleasure and the infinite moral stimulus and the gratification of the spirit of adventure to be found in the nourishing of human life, in the bringing of all the world into some sort of general order and decent relationship one with another, they would look back with very much regret, and wish that they might again go opening new lands because they found therein their only joy and their only pleasure.

If we could only stop thinking of mankind as a poacher, if we could believe that he is no longer quite so young as all that, if we could really make out that the gaiety of nations is not altogether horse-play, then I believe the peace movement would get a swing which would simply astonish us all.

I said the other night at the Labor meeting that the only place where we saw the rising feeling which was going to sweep war from the face of the earth was in the organizations of working men; but I have thought of a good many things since.  For instance, I live in an Italian quarter: almost every Sunday our Italian friends come out and beat their drums and wave their flags and wear their uniforms to celebrate the fact that they have formed a little bit of a [page 2] Benefit Society and made a little wall between themselves and starvation and a pauper's grave. All over America we have these societies; they are taking to themselves uniforms and the fife and the drum and a good deal of the paraphernalia of war.

It is in this direction, I believe, that much of our hope lies.  It is in persuading our fellow men that they are grown up; that if they once "catch on," if I may use that phrase, to the beauty of the human play, to the drama as it unfolds itself, these childish notions of power, these boyish ideas of adventure, these veritable rabble conceptions of what pleasure and manliness and courage consist in, will fall away from them as the garments of a child are dropped off from his growing form. {Applause.}

The next Peace Conference will perhaps add one more committee that shall gather together the beginnings, the dawnings of this larger life that we aim at, even if only to suggest it, if only to predict it; to tell us where we may turn to look for the coming release, for the coming of this newer and final activity.  As I look through the audience I see Mr. Perris and other people who had much to do with bringing the Doukhobors into Canada. The Doukhobors, as you know, are a non-resisting sect. They were arrested in Russia for refusing to go into the army. One young man was brought before a Russian judge who reasoned with him and said, "Why do you not submit and join the army?" In return the young man gave him a long commentary upon the teachings of Jesus, and the Russian judge said, "That is very true; we all believe that; but the time has not yet come to put that into practice." The young man replied, "The time may not have come for you, your honor, but the time has come for us." {Applause.} Let us hope that in a few years we may all be able to stand up and say what Brother Washington was able to say for his race a few moments ago, that the time has come for us to accept at least passive resistance if we cannot accept dynamic and creative peace. {Applause.}

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