Read LETTING THE CROWD BE BEAUTIFUL - WISTFUL MILLIONAIRES - CHAPTER I of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on ReadCentral.com.

TO WILBUR WRIGHT AND WILLIAM MARCONI

"Great Spirit-Thou who in my being’s burning mesh Hath wrought the shining of the mist through and through the flesh, Who, through the double-wondered glory of the dust Hast thrust Habits of skies upon me, souls of days and nights, Where are the deeds that needs must be, The dreams, the high delights, That I once more may hear my voice From cloudy door to door rejoice- May stretch the boundaries of love Beyond the mumbling, mock horizons of my fears To the faint-remembered glory of those years- May lift my soul And reach this Heaven of thine With mine?”

    “Come up here, dear little Child
      To fly in the clouds and winds with me,
          and play with the measureless light!"

MR. CARNEGIE SPEAKS UP

As I was wandering through space the other day-just aeroplaning past on my way over from Mars-I came suddenly upon a neat, snug little property, with a huge sign stuck in the middle of it: 

    THE EARTH:  THIS DESIRABLE PROPERTY TO LET.  Rockefeller,
    Carnegie, Morgan & Co.

I was just about to pass it by, inferring naturally that it must be a mere bank, or wholesale house, or something, when it occurred to me it might do no harm to stop over on it, and see.  I thought I might at least drop in and inquire what kind of a firm it was that was handling it, and what was their idea, and what, if anything, they thought their little planet was for, and what they proposed to do with it.

I found, on meeting Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Morgan, to my astonishment, that they did not propose to do anything with it at all.  They had merely got it; that was as far as they had thought the thing out apparently-to get it.  They seemed to be depending, so far as I could judge, in a vague, pained way, on somebody’s happening along who would think perhaps of something that could be done with it.

Of course, as Mr. Carnegie (who was the talking member of the firm) pointed out, if they only owned a part of it, and could sell one part of it to the other part there would still be something left that they could do, at least it would be their line; but merely owning all of it, so, as they did, was embarrassing.  He had tried, Mr. Carnegie told me, to think of a few things himself, but was discouraged; and he intimated he was devoting his life just now to pulling himself together at the end, and dying a poor man.  But that was not much, he admitted, and it was really not a very great service on his part to a world, he thought-his merely dying poor in it.

When I asked him if there was anything else he had been able to think of to do for the world-

“No,” he said, “nothing really; nothing except chucking down libraries on it-safes for old books.”

“And Mr. Morgan?” I said.

“Oh!  He is chucking down old china on it, old pictures, and things.”

“And Mr. Rockefeller?”

“Mussing with colleges, some,” he said, “just now.  But he doesn’t, as a matter of fact, see anything-not of his own-that can really be done with them, except to make them more systematized and businesslike, make them over into sort of Standard Oil Spiritual Refineries, fill them with millions more of little Rockefellers-and they won’t let him do that.  Of course, as you might see, what they want to do practically is to take the Rockefeller money and leave the Rockefeller out.  Nobody will really let him do anything.  Everything goes this way when we seriously try to do things.  The fact is, it is a pretty small, helpless business, owning a world,” sighed Mr. Carnegie.

“This is why we are selling out, if anybody happens along.  Anybody, that is, who really sees what this piece of property is for and how to develop it, can have it,” said Mr. Carnegie, “and have it cheap.”

Mr. Carnegie spoke these last words very slowly and wearily, and with his most wistful look; and then, recalling himself suddenly, and handing me a glass to look at New York with and see what I thought of it, he asked to be excused for a moment, and saying, “I have fourteen libraries to give away before a quarter past twelve,” he hurried out of the room.