A few years of rough and tumble of propaganda in the Anarchist movement leaves a strange impression of crowds on the speaker's mind. His answers to questions and opposition form much the most satisfactory part of his work after he has sufficient experience to be able to deal with them adequately, and it is just from them he gets to understand his crowd. One of the strangest things that experience at such work reveals is the similarity of the crowd's mind (if one may use such an expression) wherever it may be found.
Let the speaker choose his pitch in the middle of London, or let him go to the strange mining villages north of the Forth, and in both cases he will get the same questions in almost the same words. If he is able to understand his crowd, he will find it suffering from the same difficulties, and making the same weary and half-hearted struggle to break the bonds of the old superstitions that still bind it. It is passing strange that amid the theatres, the picture galleries, and museums of London — so suggestive of the fulness and richness of life; among the great engineering works and structures of Manchester and the Clyde, which speak so eloquently of the power man has of producing wealth; in the midst of the fruitful valleys of England, or among the vast Scotch mountains — it matters not where — there is the same lack of vision, the same sad, kind-hearted men willing to hear the new gospel, but alas! the same despair. This hopelessness on the faces of men who are all-powerful is the most exasperating and the most tragic thing in all human existence. "Your strength lies no nearer and no further off than your own limbs. The world grows rich by your strength, no more surely than you grow poor by the same power. It were easier for you to make yourselves great than to make others so while you bring misery on yourselves." Such is the message of the revolutionist, and the mute answer might be expressed in the tragic words of Goethe: —
"Hush! Leave us where we are, resigned.
Wake not ambitious longings in the mind.
Born of the night, akin with night alone,
Scarce to ourselves, and to none others known."
But I write so far of crowds, and crowds after all do not