List Of Contents | Contents of Man and Superman, by Bernard Shaw
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reconstructive results. The reason we do got do this is because
we work like bees or ants, by instinct or habit, not reasoning
about the matter at all. Therefore when a man comes along who can
and does reason, and who, applying the Kantian test to his
conduct, can truly say to us, If everybody did as I do, the world
would be compelled to reform itself industrially, and abolish
slavery and squalor, which exist only because everybody does as
you do, let us honor that man and seriously consider the
advisability of following his example. Such a man is the
able-bodied, able-minded pauper. Were he a gentleman doing his
best to get a pension or a sinecure instead of sweeping a
crossing, nobody would blame him; for deciding that so long as
the alternative lies between living mainly at the expense of the
community and allowing the community to live mainly at his, it
would be folly to accept what is to him personally the greater of
the two evils.

We may therefore contemplate the tramps of the Sierra without
prejudice, admitting cheerfully that our objects--briefly,
to be gentlemen of fortune--are much the same as theirs, and the
difference in our position and methods merely accidental. One
or two of them, perhaps, it would be wiser to kill without malice
in a friendly and frank manner; for there are bipeds, just as
there are quadrupeds, who are too dangerous to be left unchained
and unmuzzled; and these cannot fairly expect to have other men's
lives wasted in the work of watching them. But as society has not
the courage to kill them, and, when it catches them, simply
wreaks on them some superstitious expiatory rites of torture and
degradation, and than lets them loose with heightened
qualifications for mischief; it is just as well that they are at
large in the Sierra, and in the hands of a chief who looks as if
he might possibly, on provocation, order them to be shot.

This chief, seated in the centre of the group on a squared block
of stone from the quarry, is a tall strong man, with a striking
cockatoo nose, glossy black hair, pointed beard, upturned
moustache, and a Mephistophelean affectation which is fairly
imposing, perhaps because the scenery admits of a larger swagger
than Piccadilly, perhaps because of a certain sentimentality in
the man which gives him that touch of grace which alone can
excuse deliberate picturesqueness. His eyes and mouth are by no
means rascally; he has a fine voice and a ready wit; and whether
he is really the strongest man in the party, or not, he looks it.
He is certainly, the best fed, the best dressed, and the best
trained. The fact that he speaks English is not unexpected in
spite of the Spanish landscape; for with the exception of one man
who might be guessed as a bullfighter ruined by drink and one
unmistakable Frenchman, they are all cockney or American;
therefore, in a land of cloaks and sombreros, they mostly wear
seedy overcoats, woollen mufflers, hard hemispherical hats, and
dirty brown gloves. Only a very few dress after their leader,
whose broad sombrero with a cock's feather in the band, and
voluminous cloak descending to his high boots, are as un-English
as possible. None of them are armed; and the ungloved ones keep
their hands in their pockets because it is their national belief
that it must be dangerously cold in the open air with the night
coming on. (It is as warm an evening as any reasonable man could

Except the bullfighting inebriate there is only one person in the
company who looks more than, say, thirty-three. He is a small man
with reddish whiskers, weak eyes, and the anxious look of a
small tradesman in difficulties. He wears the only tall hat
visible: it shines in the sunset with the sticky glow of some
sixpenny patent hat reviver, often applied and constantly tending
to produce a worse state of the original surface than the ruin it
was applied to remedy. He has a collar and cuff of celluloid; and
his brown Chesterfield overcoat, with velvet collar, is still
presentable. He is pre-eminently the respectable man of the
party, and is certainly over forty, possibly over fifty. He is
the corner man on the leader's right, opposite three men in
scarlet ties on his left. One of these three is the Frenchman. Of
the remaining two, who are both English, one is argumentative,
solemn, and obstinate; the other rowdy and mischievious.

The chief, with a magnificent fling of the end of his cloak
across his left shoulder, rises to address them. The applause
which greets him shows that he is a favorite orator.

THE CHIEF. Friends and fellow brigands. I have a proposal to make
to this meeting. We have now spent three evenings in discussing
the question Have Anarchists or Social-Democrats the most
personal courage? We have gone into the principles of Anarchism
and Social-Democracy at great length. The cause of Anarchy has
been ably represented by our one Anarchist, who doesn't know what
Anarchism means [laughter]--

THE ANARCHIST. [rising] A point of order, Mendoza--

MENDOZA. [forcibly] No, by thunder: your last point of order took
half an hour. Besides, Anarchists don't believe in order.

THE ANARCHIST. [mild, polite but persistent: he is, in fact, the
respectable looking elderly man in the celluloid collar and
cuffs] That is a vulgar error. I can prove--

MENDOZA. Order, order.

THE OTHERS [shouting] Order, order. Sit down. Chair! Shut up.

The Anarchist is suppressed.

MENDOZA. On the other hand we have three Social-Democrats among
us. They are not on speaking terms; and they have put before us
three distinct and incompatible views of Social-Democracy.

THE MAJORITY. [shouting assent] Hear, hear! So we are. Right.

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [smarting under oppression] You ain't
no Christian. You're a Sheeny, you are.

MENDOZA. [with crushing magnanimity] My friend; I am an exception
to all rules. It is true that I have the honor to be a Jew; and,
when the Zionists need a leader to reassemble our race on its
historic soil of Palestine, Mendoza will not be the last to
volunteer [sympathetic applause--hear, hear, etc.]. But I am not
a slave to any superstition. I have swallowed all the formulas,
even that of Socialism; though, in a sense, once a Socialist,
always a Socialist.


MENDOZA. But I am well aware that the ordinary man--even the
ordinary brigand, who can scarcely be called an ordinary man
[Hear, hear!]--is not a philosopher. Common sense is good enough
for him; and in our business affairs common sense is good enough
for me. Well, what is our business here in the Sierra Nevada,
chosen by the Moors as the fairest spot in Spain? Is it to
discuss abstruse questions of political economy? No: it is to
hold up motor cars and secure a more equitable distribution of

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. All made by labor, mind you.

MENDOZA. [urbanely] Undoubtedly. All made by labor, and on its
way to be squandered by wealthy vagabonds in the dens of vice
that disfigure the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. We
intercept that wealth. We restore it to circulation among the
class that produced it and that chiefly needs it--the working
class. We do this at the risk of our lives and liberties, by the
exercise of the virtues of courage, endurance, foresight, and
abstinence--especially abstinence. I myself have eaten nothing
but prickly pears and broiled rabbit for three days.

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. (Stubbornly] No more ain't we.

MENDOZA. [indignantly] Have I taken more than my share?

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [unmoved] Why should you?

THE ANARCHIST. Why should he not? To each according to his needs:
from each according to his means.

THE FRENCHMAN. [shaking his fist at the anarchist] Fumiste!

MENDOZA. [diplomatically] I agree with both of you.


MENDOZA. What I say is, let us treat one another as gentlemen,
and strive to excel in personal courage only when we take the

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [derisively] Shikespear.

A whistle comes from the goatherd on the hill. He springs up and
points excitedly forward along the road to the north.

THE GOATHERD. Automobile! Automobile! [He rushes down the hill
and joins the rest, who all scramble to their feet].

MENDOZA. [in ringing tones] To arms! Who has the gun?

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [handing a rifle to Mendoza] Here.

MENDOZA. Have the nails been strewn in the road?

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEM0CRAT. Two ahnces of em.

MENDOZA. Good! [To the Frenchman] With me, Duval. If the nails
fail, puncture their tires with a bullet. [He gives the rifle to
Duval, who follows him up the hill. Mendoza produces an opera
glass. The others hurry across to the road and disappear to the

MENDOZA. [on the hill, using his glass] Two only, a capitalist
and his chauffeur. They look English.

DUVAL. Angliche! Aoh yess. Cochons! [Handling the rifle] Faut
tire, n'est-ce-pas?

MENDOZA. No: the nails have gone home. Their tire is down: they

DUVAL. [shouting to the others] Fondez sur eux, nom de Dieu!

MENDOZA. [rebuking his excitement] Du calme, Duval: keep your
hair on. They take it quietly. Let us descend and receive them.

Mendoza descends, passing behind the fire and coming forward,
whilst Tanner and Straker, in their motoring goggles, leather
coats, and caps, are led in from the road by brigands.

TANNER. Is this the gentleman you describe as your boss? Does he
speak English?

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. Course he does. Y'don't suppowz we
Hinglishmen lets ahrselves be bossed by a bloomin Spenniard, do

MENDOZA. [with dignity] Allow me to introduce myself: Mendoza,
President of the League of the Sierra! [Posing loftily] I am a
brigand: I live by robbing the rich.

TANNER. [promptly] I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor.
Shake hands.


General laughter and good humor. Tanner and Mendoza shake hands.
The Brigands drop into their former places

STRAKER. Ere! where do I come in?

TANNER. [introducing] My friend and chauffeur.

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [suspiciously] Well, which is he?
friend or show-foor? It makes all the difference you know.

MENDOZA. [explaining] We should expect ransom for a friend. A
professional chauffeur is free of the mountains. He even takes a
trifling percentage of his princpal's ransom if he will honor us
by accepting it.

STRAKER. I see. Just to encourage me to come this way again.
Well, I'll think about it.

DUVAL. [impulsively rushing across to Straker] Mon frere! [He
embraces him rapturously and kisses him on both cheeks].

STRAKER. [disguested] Ere, git out: don't be silly. Who are you,

DUVAL. Duval: Social-Democrat.

STRAKER. Oh, you're a Social-Democrat, are you?

THE ANARCHIST. He means that he has sold out to the parliamentary
humbugs and the bourgeoisie. Compromise! that is his faith.

DUVAL. [furiously] I understand what he say. He say Bourgeois. He
say Compromise. Jamais de la vie! Miserable menteur--

STRAKER. See here, Captain Mendoza, ow much o this sort o thing
do you put up with here? Are we avin a pleasure trip in the
mountains, or are we at a Socialist meetin?

THE MAJORITY. Hear, hear! Shut up. Chuck it. Sit down, etc. etc.
[The Social-Democrats and the Anarchist are hurtled into the
background. Straker, after superintending this proceeding with
satisfaction, places himself on Mendoza's left, Tanner being on
his right].

MENDOZA. Can we offer you anything? Broiled rabbit and prickly

TANNER. Thank you: we have dined.

MENDOZA. [to his followers] Gentlemen: business is over for the
day. Go as you please until morning.

The Brigands disperse into groups lazily. Some go into the cave.
Others sit down or lie down to sleep in the open. A few produce a
pack of cards and move off towards the road; for it is now
starlight; and they know that motor cars have lamps which can be
turned to account for lighting a card party.

STRAKER. [calling after them] Don't none of you go fooling with
that car, d'ye hear?

MENDOZA. No fear, Monsieur le Chauffeur. The first one we
captured cured us of that.

STRAKER. [interested] What did it do?

MENDOZA. It carried three brave comrades of ours, who did not
know how to stop it, into Granada, and capsized them opposite the
police station. Since then we never touch one without sending for
the chauffeur. Shall we chat at our ease?

TANNER. By all means.

Tanner, Mendoza, and Straker sit down on the turf by the fire.
Mendoza delicately waives his presidential dignity, of which the
right to sit on the squared stone block is the appanage, by
sitting on the ground like his guests, and using the stone only
as a support for his back.

MENDOZA. It is the custom in Spain always to put off business
until to-morrow. In fact, you have arrived out of office hours.
However, if you would prefer to settle the question of ransom at
once, I am at your service.

TANNER. To-morrow will do for me. I am rich enough to pay
anything in reason.

MENDOZA. [respectfully, much struck by this admission] You
are a remarkable man, sir. Our guests usually describe themselves
as miserably poor.

TANNER. Pooh! Miserably poor people don't own motor cars.

MENDOZA. Precisely what we say to them.

TANNER. Treat us well: we shall not prove ungrateful.

STRAKER. No prickly pears and broiled rabbits, you know. Don't
tell me you can't do us a bit better than that if you like.

MENDOZA. Wine, kids, milk, cheese and bread can be procured for
ready money.

STRAKER. [graciously] Now you're talking.

TANNER. Are you all Socialists here, may I ask?

MENDOZA. [repudiating this humiliating misconception] Oh no, no,
no: nothing of the kind, I assure you. We naturally have modern
views as to the justice of the existing distribution of wealth:
otherwise we should lose our self-respect. But nothing that you
could take exception to, except two or three faddists.

TANNER. I had no intention of suggesting anything discreditable.
In fact, I am a bit of a Socialist myself.

STRAKER. [drily] Most rich men are, I notice.

MENDOZA. Quite so. It has reached us, I admit. It is in the air
of the century.

STRAKER. Socialism must be looking up a bit if your chaps are
taking to it.

MENDOZA. That is true, sir. A movement which is confined to
philosophers and honest men can never exercise any real political
influence: there are too few of them. Until a movement shows
itself capable of spreading among brigands, it can never hope for
a political majority.

TANNER. But are your brigands any less honest than ordinary

MENDOZA. Sir: I will be frank with you. Brigandage is abnormal.
Abnormal professions attract two classes: those who are not good
enough for ordinary bourgeois life and those who are too good for
it. We are dregs and scum, sir: the dregs very filthy, the scum
very superior.

STRAKER. Take care! some o the dregs'll hear you.

MENDOZA. It does not matter: each brigand thinks himself scum,
and likes to hear the others called dregs.

TANNER. Come! you are a wit. [Mendoza inclines his head,

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