"That is of no use for the purpose," he informed me. "You must have one like this--"; and he showed me a book about six inches by four inches, with four pages for each day.
"Oh!" I said, "I shall never need all that; besides, it is spaced for a month only."
In a perfectly matter-of-fact voice he said calmly, "Every person in Meccania uses a pocketdiary like this. You will find it indispensable in order that you may make your entries correctly in your weekly diary for the Time Department."
"The what department?" I asked, rather puzzled.
"The Time Department: but never mind; I will explain all that in its proper place. We will get a pocket-diary as we go along."
We walked to the hotel, and on the way Sheep slipped into an office of some kind and handed me a pocket-diary of the regulation type. As we entered the hotel, which was a very small affair,-- evidently the number of foreigners in Bridgetown at any one time could not be more than a dozen if they were all lodged here,--he popped his head into a sort of box-office near the door and said in a loud voice, "Nine o'clock. National Councillor Ming." A girl in the box-office echoed the words whilst making an entry on a large sheet, and handed him a buff-coloured sheet of cardboard, divided or ruled into small squares. This he presented to me, telling me to note down on it the exact time when I entered and left the hotel, and to get it initialed every other day by the girl clerk in the box-office. If the times did not tally with her record I was to consult the manager of the hotel.
"The first thing to do is to report yourself to the manager of the hotel," said Sheep when he had taken me to my room, where I found my baggage, which I had not seen since I left Graves.
The manager was a rather fussy little man, also in a green uniform like Sheep's but with different facings. He did not seem specially pleased to see me. All he said was, "I hope you will not give so much trouble as the last of your fellow-countrymen we had here. If you will study the regulations you will save yourself and me much inconvenience. Meals are at eight, one, and six, and at no other times. And remember that conversation with other Foreign Observers is prohibited until you have received the Certificate of Approval."
Conductor Sheep had rung up for a motor-car, and as we waited a few minutes for its arrival he said, "As you will have seen from the printed programme of Tour No. i, we shall first make a geographical survey of the town, then we shall visit the public buildings, taking note of their architectural features, and beginning first with those under local control, following on with those under the joint control of the Central and Local Government, and concluding with those solely under the control of the Central Government. And of the first category we shall see those first which have to do with the bodily needs, and of these we shall take first those connected with food, then with clothing, then with housing; for that is the only logical order. Everything has been carefully prescribed by the Department of Culture and the Department of Sociology, and the same plan is followed by all Foreign Observers, whatever city they may be visiting."
We went first to a look-out tower which stood on a hill about a mile outside the town. Here we had a view of the surrounding country. The town lay in a bend of the river. It was not exactly picturesque, but the large number of new public buildings near the centre, the broad streets lined with villas, each surrounded by a garden in the large residential quarter on the western side, and even the orderly streets of houses and flats on the more thickly populated eastern side, produced altogether a fine effect. The country round was magnificent. Low wooded hills rose on three sides, backed by higher hills in the distance. Sheep talked almost learnedly about the geology of the district and the historical reasons for the situation of Bridgetown. Then he pointed out that the plan of the town was like a wheel. In the centre were the public buildings and squares. The main streets radiated like spokes, and between these came the residential quarters of the seven social classes; those of the first three on the west side, those of the fourth to the north and south, those of the fifth, sixth and seventh, to the east. On the east side also lay the factories, workshops and warehouses. The shops were arranged in a sort of ring running through the middle of each of the residential quarters.
"The seven social classes?" I asked. I had heard in a vague way of the existence of this arrangement, but had little idea what it meant.
"Yes," answered Sheep, as if he were reading from a guide-book, "the first consists of the highest aristocracy, military and civil; the second, of the military and naval officers, all of noble birth; the third, of the highest mercantile class with an income of a5000 a year and the officials of the first grade in the Imperial civil service; the fourth, of the officials of the civil service of lower grades and the bulk of the professional classes; the fifth, of the skilled artisan class; the sixth, of the semi-skilled; and the seventh, of the menial industrial groups."
I asked him to go over it again whilst I took a note for future reference.
The rest of the morning passed in listening to Sheep's elaborate descriptions of the drainage and sewage systems, the water supply, the power and light and heat supply, the tramway system, the parcels system, the postal delivery system, the milk delivery system, all from the geographical point of view. After lunch we spent some time in going all over the town on the tramways. This completed the geographical survey.
At six o'clock I was deposited in the hotel just in time for dinner. Presently I prepared to go out to some place of amusement; but on attempting to leave the hotel I was stopped by the porter, who told me I could not leave the hotel unless accompanied by my conductor.
So I spent the evening in writing up my journal.
During the day I had noticed that everywhere all the men were dressed in a sort of uniform, and that the colours of these uniforms corresponded to the rank or class of the wearers. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned this circumstance earlier, for certainly it was one of the first things I noticed when I began to go into the streets. The colours of the uniforms are very striking and even crude. They supply the only touch of the picturesque in Bridgetown, for, judging by my first day's impressions of the town, I should imagine that the authorities responsible for rebuilding it have swept away every vestige of the tiny mediaeval city which once existed on this spot and have replaced it by a perfectly uniform piece of Meccanian town-planning. In such a setting these uniforms strike one at first as out of place, but perhaps I have not yet grasped their purpose or significance. The colour of the uniforms of the members of the First Class is white; that of the Second Class, red or scarlet; of the Third, yellow; of the Fourth, green; of the Fifth, chocolate; of the Sixth, grey; of the Seventh, dark blue. But so far I have seen no white uniforms, and only a few scarlet. I saw several yellow uniforms to-day, but the most common were the green uniforms of the Fourth Class and the chocolate uniforms of the Fifth Class, to which the skilled artisans belong. Greys and dark blues were also fairly numerous; but what surprised me most of all was the small number of people to be seen in the streets. I must ask Sheep for the explanation of this.
Promptly at nine o'clock next morning Sub- Conductor of Foreign Observers Sheep made his appearance at the hotel, and we began our tour of the public buildings. He took me first to the 'Import-Food-Hall,' which stood alongside the railway on the outskirts of the town near the industrial quarter. It was a great warehouse through which all the food brought into the town has to pass before it is allowed to be sold in the markets and shops. (The sole exception is milk, which is distributed by municipal servants.) The building was very extensive and several stories high. The two ends were open for the passage of railway wagons. The architecture was not without a certain coarse dignity. The arches were decorated in Romanesque style, and the whole front facing the street was covered with rude sculptures in high relief of scenes connected with the production of food. The interior walls were covered with frescoes depicting similar scenes. Conductor Sheep grew almost enthusiastic over this exhibition of Meccanian Art. All these decorations, he said, had been executed by the students of the Bridgetown Art School. I was not altogether surprised to hear this; there was something so very naive and obvious about the whole idea.
We next saw the municipal slaughter-houses, which were almost adjoining. Inspector Sheep informed me how many minutes it took to kill and prepare for the meat market a given number of cattle, sheep or pigs. He dilated on the perfection of the machinery for every process, and assured me that not a single drop of blood was wasted. The amount of every particular kind of animal food required for each week in the year was ascertained by the Sociological Department, and consequently there was no difficulty in regulating the supply. The perfection of the methods of preserving meat also effected some economy. Conductor Sheep assured me that the Meccanian slaughter-houses had become the models for all the civilised world, and that a former Director of the Bridgetown slaughter-houses had been lent to a foreign Government to organise the system of technical instruction for butchers.
The five markets were in five different parts of the city. They served to distribute perishable foods only which were not allowed to be sold in the ordinary shops. All women in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Classes were obliged to do their marketing in person. Each person was obliged to deal solely with one dealer for a year at a time, and to attend at the market at a particular hour, so that there should be no congestion and no waste of time on the part of the dealers. This, I suppose, explains the wonderful orderliness of these markets. There was no gossiping or chaffering. Whether the people enjoy this arrangement is a matter upon which Sheep did not enlighten me. He said it had been calculated by the Time Department that an economy of 50 per cent had been effected in the time spent upon the daily purchase of food since the introduction of the modern market system.
Foods that are not perishable are sold in the shops, and as regards certain articles there is the same system of choosing each year the shop at which one buys a particular article, whilst as regards others trade is free. The housewife must buy her bread always from the same baker; but things like mustard, spices, coffee or preserved food may be bought at any shop.
The sale of drink is regulated in a different way. The three lowest classes are not allowed to keep drink in their houses; but as the favourite national drink is a mild kind of beer which can be got in any restaurant, there is no apparent hardship in this regulation. The way in which excess is checked is very curious. The weekly budgets of every family, in all classes below the fourth, are checked by the authorities--by which department I do not know--and if the amount spent on drink exceeds a certain sum per head, a fine is inflicted and the offender warned. If the offence is persisted in, the offender is forbidden to buy any drink for a specified period. One might suppose that such regulations could easily be evaded; so they could in most countries, but not in Meccania. Everything is so perfectly scrutinised that no evasion seems possible--at any rate as far as the three lowest classes are concerned.
"This scrutiny of family budgets," I remarked, "is it not resented and even evaded?"
"I do not think it is resented," answered Sheep, "but it certainly cannot be evaded. Why should it be resented? The facts are only known to the officials, and in any case they would be required by the Sociological Department. How else could it obtain the necessary data for its researches? Every woman is taught how to keep her household accounts in the proper manner, and she sends in her account book at the end of each quarter. That is necessary for many reasons. No," he concluded, as if the idea had not occurred to him before, "I have never heard of any complaints. Only those would wish to complain who desired to evade some salutary regulation; consequently there is no reason why, out of regard for them, we should interfere with a practice that has so many advantages."
"What are the advantages?" I asked, for so far I had seen no advantage except the possibility of checking expenditure upon drink.
"The use of these accurate family budgets and household accounts to the Sociological Department is simply indispensable. To the Department of Trade and Industry also they are very valuable. In fact, you may take it that all our Meccanian institutions are so arranged that they serve several purposes and fit in with the whole Meccanian scheme of life."
Incidentally, in connection with the family expenditure on food, he mentioned model dietaries. I was curious to know what these were. He explained that there were three recognised kinds of dietaries. First, the Food Department prescribed model dietaries for families of the three lowest classes in normal health. Secondly, when each person was medically examined--and this happened at least once a year--the medical officer might prescribe a dietary for the individual; and lastly, if a person were positively ill, it would be the duty of the medical officer in charge of the case to prescribe a dietary. I was going to ask some further questions about the Medical Department, when Sheep reminded me that we had still several other municipal departments to visit before we came to the Medical Department, and that we must not depart from the programme of our tour.
The Department for the Inspection and Regulation of Clothing came next. I was rather surprised that this should be a municipal institution, seeing that the regulations were uniform for the whole country.
Sheep explained that it was just because the regulations were so perfectly uniform that the function of administering them could be entrusted to the municipality. The department was quite a small affair. Only about ten inspectors were required for Bridgetown. Their duties were to see that no person wore any uniform to which he was not entitled, and that on ceremonial occasions fulldress uniform was worn. It was quite easy to ensure that a uniform of the right colour was worn, but in addition to that the various grades of each class were indicated by the various facings, stripes, buttons and badges, as were also the different occupations within each class and grade. The penalties for wearing unauthorised decorations were very heavy, and infringements were very rare, as detection was almost certain.
"I should have thought that the whole clothing trade would be in the hands of the Government," I remarked.
"That is not part of our system," replied Sheep. "The production of all the kinds of cloth for all the uniforms is so standardised that there would be no advantage in the State taking over the mere manufacture. Each person chooses his tailor from a small panel. Naturally the members of the higher classes have the best tailors. In fact, a tailor of the first grade would not be allowed to make suits for the three lowest classes; it would be a waste of talent."
"And what about the women's clothing?" I inquired. "They do not wear uniforms. Is their dress regulated in any way?"
"Only in two ways," answered Sheep. "Every woman must wear, on the front upper part of each of her outdoor dresses, a piece of cloth of the regulation pattern and colour, to indicate the class to which she belongs. Also the expenditure on dress is limited according to the social class."
When we came to the offices of the Department of Health, Sheep said I had made a grave error of judgment in choosing Tour No. i--the tour for a single week only--as there was enough to occupy us for a week in the Department of Health alone. It included the Sanitation Section, the Medical Inspection Section, the Medical Dispensing Section, the Medical Attendance Section, the. Hospital Section, the section of the Special Medical Board, the Marriages and Births Section, the Post-Mortem Section, and the Buildings Section.
After this I was not surprised to hear that over a thousand persons were employed in the Health Department, in addition to the workmen--chiefly of the Sixth and Seventh Classes--who did the actual menial work of keeping the sewage system in order and keeping the streets clean. I might write a whole chapter on the Health Department, but it will perhaps suffice if I mention the most singular features.
Inspectors visit every house twice a year to see that each house and flat is kept in a sanitary condition. Each person is medically examined once a year--this is in addition to the system of medical inspection in schools--and whatever treatment is prescribed he must submit to.
"What happens," I asked, "if a person declines to submit to treatment?"
"He would be taken before the Special Medical Board," answered Sheep.
"And what is that?" I asked.
"We shall come to that presently," said Sheep reprovingly. He went on to explain that the Dispensing Section treated all persons of the three lowest classes who did not require to go into a hospital. The doctors were municipal officials and there was no choice of doctor.
"Why do you not allow choice of doctor?" I asked.
"That would interfere with the proper classification o, the diseases," he answered. "As soon as a complaint is diagnosed, it is handed over to the appropriate doctor for treatment. The same applies to the Medical Attendance Section; but persons in the three lowest classes are not generally attended in their homes, they are brought into the hospitals. The chief work of the Medical Attendance Section is in connection with births; consequently we employ a number of women doctornurses in this Section. Now we come to the Special Medical Board. It is a sort of Higher General Staff. It collates the results of the work of all the other medical sections, and is responsible for the annual report. It receives the instructions of the Central Medical Department of Meccania, and sees that these are carried out. It directs special investigations in all abnormal cases. In the case of so-called incurable diseases it pronounces its decree as to whether the case is incurable, and in that event it authorises the death of the patient."
"Authorises the death of the patient?" I said. "Without the patient's consent?"
"The patient can hardly be the best judge," said Sheep.
"What about the relatives then?" I asked.
"The relatives have no voice in the matter," said Sheep.
"That sounds very drastic," I remarked; "and what about the sort of case you mentioned a little while ago?"
"The case you mentioned?" said Sheep. "I do not remember any such cases, but if one occurred it would be dealt with under Section 143 of the Medical Regulations, which prescribes that in case of persistent disregard of the instructions of the authorised medical officer, with the consent of the Special Medical Board, the person guilty of such refusal is to be removed to an asylum for mental abnormality."
"A lunatic asylum!"
"We do not call them lunatic asylums. The term is obsolete; it does not accord with our system of classification."
Sheep next dealt with the Marriages and Births Section. This is in some ways the most remarkable of all. It appears that a licence to marry is issued to all persons in normal health, the Department prescribing the number of children to be born within each period of five years. Persons classified as abnormal are specially dealt with, and on this subject Sheep referred me to the Report of the Central Medical Department, which I could obtain in the Great Meccanian Library at Mecco. The Post-Mortem Section carried out an examination in all cases of interest to the Health Department before cremation.
I asked what the Buildings Section was. It seems to be a sort of link between the Architectural Department and the Health Department, and supervises the building regulations from the hygienic point of view.
The next day Conductor Sheep called punctually at nine o'clock to continue the tour of observation. We had come to the end of one section, as marked out in the mind of the' Authority,' and were now to begin another, namely, the institutions controlled partly by the City and partly by the State. I suspect that the control by the City is a good deal of a fiction, for the State has power to take over any of the functions that are not performed to its satisfaction.
We began with the Police. The office of the Central Police Station was in the building where I had first been inspected, examined and instructed, on my arrival. It was a large building for a town of the size of Bridgetown, and seemed full of officials, police officers and clerks. Yet I had noticed very few police officers in the streets. I remarked upon this to my guide. I said, "In the country I have just come from they have a great many police officers in the streets of the large towns, but very few other officials connected with the police service. Here, apparently, you have few police officers in the streets, but a great many other officials connected with the police service. Can you explain that?"
"Yes," he said; "I have heard something of the kind before, and although I have never been abroad to other countries, the books in our libraries describe the police systems so fully that I think I can answer your question. The police in Luniland--so I am informed--do little else besides keeping order in the streets and following up criminals."
"Exactly," I remarked. "What else should they do?"
"Here," said Sheep, "these are the least of their functions. We employ fewer police in keeping order in the streets, and in detecting criminals, than any country in the world. Crime and disorder are almost unknown in Meccania. Our people are so well brought up that they have little desire to commit crime. Those who do show any propensity in that direction are deported to criminal colonies and give very little trouble afterwards. Besides, there is, after all, very little opportunity to commit crime, as you would soon discover if you attempted to do so."
"I can well believe that," I said. "But what, then, do your police find to do?"
"Speaking generally, their function is to see that the regulations devised for the good of the State are properly carried out."
"And those regulations are rather numerous, I suppose?"
"Undoubtedly. As they affect every department of life, there are many occasions upon which the assistance of the police is necessary in order that people shall not make mistakes," said Sheep.
"But," I said, "I thought that the officials of each department of State attended to so many things that there would be little left for the police. For instance," I added, "the inspectors of food and clothing, of buildings, of public health, of education, and so forth."
"Yes, yes," answered Conductor Sheep; "but suppose some matter arises which may belong to several departments; the citizen needs guidance. Quite apart from that, the police watch over the life of the people from the point of view of the general public interest. They collect information from all the other departments. Suppose a man neglects his attendance at the theatre: the amusement authority must report the case to the police. Similarly with all the other departments. Suppose, for instance, a man were to try to make an unauthorised journey, or to remain absent from work without a medical certificate, or to exceed his proper expenditure and get into debt, or try to pass himself off as a member of a higher class: in such cases it is the police who take cognisance of the offence. Then there is the annual report and certificate of conduct with respect to every citizen. How could this be filled up without exact information? All this involves a great deal of work."
"Indeed it must," I replied.
"You see, then, that our police are not idle," said Sheep triumphantly.
"Indeed I do," I replied.
After this enlightening explanation the offices of the Police Department no longer presented a mystery to me. I looked with awe at the hundreds of volumes of police reports in the official library of the Bridgetown police office, and wondered what the Central Police Office Library would be like; for I was told it contained a copy of every police report of every district in the country, as well as those for the great capital Mecco.
When we came to the Department of Education, which was one of the institutions managed by the State and the Municipality, Conductor Sheep regretted once more that I had chosen Tour No. i. We could only spare half a day at most for this important department. Here, again, I can only note a few of the unusual features of the system* as explained to me by my encyclopaedic conductor. We saw no schools except on the outside, but I noticed the children going to and from school. They all marched in step, in twos or fours, like little soldiers. They did not race about the streets or play games. Wherever they started from they fell into step with their comrades and carried their satchels like knapsacks. The State Inspectors, it seems, decide what is to be taught, and how it is to be taught: the local officers carry out their instructions and classify the children. In the office of the Department there is a sort of museum of school apparatus in connection with the stores section. The books are all prescribed by the Central Department, and no others may be used. The children of the Sixth and Seventh Classes attend common schools in order to get the benefit of better classification. There are no schools in Bridgetown for the members of the First and Second Classes. They go elsewhere, but the other classes have separate schools. The children of the Sixth and Seventh Classes stay at school until they are twelve; but their instruction is largely of a practical and manual kind. Those of the Fifth Class remain until fifteen, and are trained to be skilled workmen. After fifteen they receive instruction in science in connection with their several occupations.
Closely connected with the system of education, for the three lowest classes, is the Juvenile Bureau of Industry. This is controlled by the Department of Industry and Commerce. No young person in Meccania can take up any employment without a certificate granted by this Department. The officials of the Juvenile Bureau, after consultation with the officials of the Education Department, decide what occupation boys and girls may enter, and no employer is allowed to engage a boy or girl except through the medium of the Bureau.
"What about the inclinations of the boys and girls, and the desires of their parents?" I remarked to Sheep.
"The inclinations of the boys?" said Sheep, more puzzled than surprised. "In what way does that affect the question?"
"A boy might like to be a cabinet-maker rather than a metal worker, or a mason rather than a clerk," I said.
"But such a question as that will have been determined while the boy is at school."
"Then when does he get the chance of choosing an occupation?"
"It will depend upon his abilities for different kinds of work. And he can hardly be the judge of that himself," added Sheep.
"Where do the parents come in, then?" I asked.
"The parents will naturally encourage the boy to do his best at school. And after all, does it matter much whether a boy is a mason or a carpenter? In any case, the number of carpenters will be decided each year, and even each quarter, by the Department of Industry. It is not as if it would alter his class, either; he will be in the same class unless he is very exceptional and passes the State Examination for promotion."
I saw it would be useless to suggest any other ideas to Sub-Conductor Sheep, who seemed constitutionally unable to understand any objections to the official point of view. I could hardly hope to learn much about education in a single afternoon. All we saw was the mere machinery from the outside, and not even a great deal of that. I gathered that there was a most minute classification, with all sorts of subdivisions, of the children according to their capacities and future occupations. There were sufficient local inspectors to provide one for each large school, and their chief business was to conduct psychological experiments and apply all sorts of tests of intelligence in order to introduce improved methods of instruction. The inspectors themselves were all specialists. One was an expert on mental fatigue, another devoted himself to classifying the teachers according to their aptitude for teaching particular subjects, another specialised in organising profitable recreative employments for different grades of children; another superintended all juvenile amusements. Sheep showed me the exterior of a large psychological laboratory attached to the Technical College. Bridgetown was too small to have a University of its own, but it had two large' Secondary' Schools for pupils in the Third and Fourth Classes, and an enormous technical school for the boys of the Fifth Class. It was fitted up like a series of workshops for all sorts of trades, with class-rooms and laboratories attached. Sheep asserted that it was through these schools that the Meccanian artisans had become by far the most efficient workmen in the whole world. I had not time to ask many questions about the provision for games or physical training, but from something Sheep said I inferred that whilst games had been reduced to a minimum the experts had devised a system of physical training which satisfied all Meccanian requirements.
Sheep strongly advised me to study Meccanian education in Mecco if I ever got there. All true Meccanians recognised, he said, that the whole national greatness of Meccania rested on their system of education. No doubt statesmen had done much, but the ground had been prepared by the schoolmasters, and the statesmen themselves had been brought up in the Meccanian system of education. He himself, he confided, was the son of a Meccanian village schoolmaster.
Why then, I asked, begging his pardon if the question were indiscreet, did he wear the chocolate button which indicated that he had once been a member of the Fifth Class?
"When the sevenfold classification was introduced," he answered, "village schoolmasters who were not graduates were in the Fifth Class, and I was in the Fifth Class until I was thirty and gained my promotion in the Police Department."
Tour No. i made no provision for studying the lighter side of life in Bridgetown. Sheep said that practically all forms of amusement were controlled by a section of the Department of Culture, but t at the Organising Inspectors of Private Leisure were appointed locally, subject to the approval of the Central Department.
"Organising Inspectors of Private Leisure I "T exclaimed. "What an extraordinary institution!"
"In what way extraordinary?" said Sheep.
"I am sure they do not exist in any other country," I replied.
"Perhaps not," replied Sheep; "but, then, our culture is not modelled on that of any other country. Possibly other countries will discover the use of such officials when they have developed a better system of education."
"But what is their function?" I asked.
"Any person who has more than an hour a day unaccounted for, after doing his day's work, and fulfilling all his other duties, is required;o submit a scheme every half-year, showing what cultural pursuit he proposes to follow. The inspectors will assist him with expert advice and will see that he carries out his programme."
"Is there nothing left unregulated in this country?" I asked in as innocent a tone as I could command.
"That is a very interesting question," replied Sheep. "If you will consult the Forty-eighth Annual Report of the Ministry of Culture you will find an interesting diagram, or map, showing the whole field of Meccanian life and the stages in its organisation. One by one all the spheres of life have been gradually organised. If you examine the diagram showing the present state of Meccania, and compare it with similar maps for other countries, you will perceive how very much more advanced our culture is than that of any other country."
"And what regions still remain for the Department of Culture to conquer?"
"An investigation is going on at the present time into the interesting question of individual taste," he answered. "It is being conducted by the ^Esthetic Section of the Department, but they have not yet reported."
Where everything is so completely regulated it is not surprising to find that poverty, as understood in many countries, no longer exists; but I was not quite clear how it was provided against. Once more Sheep was ready with a complete explanation.
"Our laws," he said, "do not permit anyone to remain idle, and the regulation of the expenditure of the lower classes secures them against improvidence. Besides, as they contribute to insurance funds, they receive a pension in old age, and allowances during sickness or disablement. Poverty is therefore impossible."
"Apparently, then," I remarked, "if the labouring classes will surrender their liberty to the State they can be relieved of all danger of poverty."
"I do not understand what you mean by surrendering their liberty," replied Sheep.
"In many other countries," I said, "people desire to please themselves what they will work at, and indeed whether they will work at all. They Hke to have the liberty of striking, for instance, against wages or other conditions that do not satisfy them, and I have heard people in such countries declare that they would rather preserve their freedom in such things than be secured even against poverty."
"It is no part of my business to discuss such questions," replied Sheep, "but I have never heard such a question even discussed in Meccania. The foundation of Meccanian law is that the private individual has no rights against the State."
It was towards the end of the week that I mentioned to Conductor Sheep that I had had great difficulty in procuring a copy of the local newspaper published in Bridgetown; in fact, I had not managed to get a sight of it. Sheep explained that Tour No. i did not allow time for the study of local social life in such detail as to provide a place for such a thing, but he was good enough to procure me a sight of the Bridgetown Weekly Gazette. It was well printed on good paper, but it was more like an official municipal record than a newspaper. It contained brief reports of municipal committee meetings, announcements as to forthcoming examinations, lists of persons who had passed various examinations; and statistics of births, death sand marriages. The figures for the births were given in an unusual form. There were fifty first-born boys, forty-five first-born girls; forty-seven secondborn boys, forty-eight second-born girls; and so on down to three fourteenth-born boys and seven fourteenth-born girls. There were statistics of accidents, with brief details. There was a list of small fines inflicted for various infringements of regulations, and announcements of forthcoming legal cases. The only advertisements were a few concerning sales of property and household goods. It was altogether the driest document calling itself a newspaper I had ever seen. I tried to draw Sheep on the subject of newspapers in general, but he seemed rather annoyed.
"I procured this Gazette," he said, "as a concession to your curiosity, although it forms no part of our programme, and now you wish to go into a subject which is totally unconnected with our tour. The question is of historical interest only, and if you stay in Meccania long enough to study the historical development of our Culture, you will study the history of the Press in its proper place and connection. I will, however, add for your present information that the Central Government issues a complete series of Gazettes, which serve the same purpose for the country as a whole as the Bridgetown Weekly Gazette for his locality." With that the subject was closed for the present.