The Habit of Command.


A Letter to the Editor



 The Daily Chronicle, December 19, 1910



Will you permit me to point out that your correspondent R. S. Warren Bell appears to view the universe from a tunnel in an ant-heap.  "Every year," he says, "we see more clearly what powers are transmitted by heredity."  But, on the contrary, every year scientists announce more clearly that "acquired traits are not hereditary."  "Could we hold India," asks your correspondent, "if we had not at hand a body of young men with the ruling instinct in the shape of public school prefects? Where the son of a grocer could wonder whether the natives would obey him the son of a peer takes it for granted that they will. By reducing the authority of Britain's governing class you reduce Britain's grip ..."  But William the Conqueror, a man mentally and socially equal to a modern butcher boy, would have held India even easier than he held England. He was not a public-school prefect. We hold India by thousands of years of racial evolution, due mainly to climate, not by anything that takes place in an ant-hill. And the son of a grocer would not wonder whether the natives would obey him. Does a policeman wonder whether your correspondent will obey him, when, like a god, he says to him, "Move on!" Yet he is not the son of a peer.

M.P. Shiel


10, Coburg Mansions, W.C.




Return to M.P. Shiel at Selected Authors of Supernatural Fiction