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


I found, as I was studying the general view of New York as seen from the top through Mr. Carnegie’s glass, that there appeared to be a great many dots-long rows of dots for the most part-possibly very high buildings, but there was one building, wide and white and low, and more spread-out and important-looking than any of the others, which especially attracted my attention.  It looked as if it might be a kind of monument or mausoleum to somebody.  On looking again I found that it was filled with books, and was the Carnegie Public Library.  There were forty more Libraries for New York Mr. Carnegie was having put up, I was told, and he had dotted them-thousands of them almost everywhere one could look, apparently, on his own particular part of the planet.

A few days later, when I began to do things at a closer range, I took a little trip to New York, and visited the Library; and I asked the man who seemed to have it in charge, who there was who was writing books for Mr. Carnegie’s Libraries just now, or if there was any really adequate arrangement Mr. Carnegie had made for having a few great books written for all these fine buildings-all these really noble book-racks, he had had put up.  The man seemed rather taken aback, and hesitated.  Finally, I asked him point blank to give me the name of the supposed greatest living author who had written anything for all these miles of Carnegie Libraries, and he mentioned doubtfully a certain Mr. Rudyard Kipling.  I at once asked for his books, of course, and sat down without delay to find out if he was the greatest living author the planet had, what it was he had to say for it and about it, and more particularly, of course, what he had to to say it was for.

I found among his books some beautiful and quite refined interpretations of tigers and serpents, a really noble interpretation or conception of what the beasts were for all the glorious gentlemanly beasts-and of what machines were for-all the young, fresh, mighty, worshipful engines-and what soldiers were for.  But when I looked at what he thought men were for, at what the planet was for, there was practically almost nothing.  The nearest I came to it was a remark, apparently in a magazine interview which I cannot quote correctly now, but which amounted to something like this:  “We will never have a great world until we have some one great artist or poet in it, who sees it as a whole, focuses it, composes it, makes a picture of it, and gives the men who are in it a vision to live for.”

Since then I have been trying to see what Messrs. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan could do to produce and arrange what seemed to me the one most important, imperative, and immediate convenience their planet could have, namely, as Mr. Kipling intimated, some man on it, some great creative genius, who would gather it all up in his imagination-the beasts, and the people, and the sciences, and the machines-in short, the planet as a whole, and say what it was for.  It is from this point of view that I have been drawn into writing the following pages on the next important improvements-what one might call the spiritual Unreal-Estate Improvements, for Messrs. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan’s property which will have to be installed.  I have been going over the property more or less carefully in my own way since, studying it and noting what had been done by the owners, and what possibly might be done toward arranging authors, inventors, seers, artists, or engineers or other efficient persons who would be able to inquire, to think out for a world, to express for it, some faint idea of what it was for.