Read EPILOGUE of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on

France is threatened by her childless women, Germany by her machines, Russia is beginning the Nineteenth Century.  It is to England and America, struggling still sublimely with their sins, the nations look-for the time being-for the next big free lift upon the world.

Looked at in the large, in their historic import and their effect on the time, the English temperament and the American temperament are essentially the same.  As between ourselves, England and America are apt to seem different, but as between us and the world, we blend together.  One could go through in what I have been saying about Oxford Street and the House of Commons in this book, strike out all after Oxford Street and read Broadway, and all after the House of Commons and read Congress, and it would be essentially true with the necessary English or American modulation.  In the same way it would be possible to go through and strike out all after the President and read Prime Minister or the Government.

England and America have the individualistic temperament, and if we cannot make a self-expressive individualism noble, and if we are not men enough to sing up our individualism into the social and the universal, we perish.

It is our native way.  We are to be crowdmen or nobodies.

The English temperament or the American temperament, whichever we may call it, is the same tune, but played with a different and almost contrasting expression.

England is being played gravely and massively like a violoncello, and America-played more lightly, is full of the sweeps and the lulls, the ecstasy, the overriding glory of the violins.

But it is the same tune, and God helping us, we will not and we shall not be overwhelmed under the great dome of the world, by Germany with all her faithful pianolas, or by France with her cold sweet flutes, or by Russia with her shrieks and her pauses, pounding her splendid kettledrums in that awful silence!

Our song is ours-England and America, the ’cello, and the bright violins!

And no one shall sing it for us.

And no one shall keep us from singing it.

The skyscrapers are singing, “I will, I will!” to God, and Manchester and London and Port Sunlight are singing, “I will, I will!” to God.  I have heard even Westminister Abbey and York-those beautiful old fellows-altering, “I will, I will!” to God!

And I have seen, as I was going by, Trinity Church at the head of Wall Street repenting her sins and holding noonday prayer meetings for millionaires.

Our genius is a moral genius, the genius of each man for fulfilling himself.  Our religion is the finding of a way to do it beautifully.

Let Russian men be an army if they like-death and obedience.  Let German men keep on with their faithful, plodding, moral machines if they want to, and let all French men be artists, go tra-la-laing up and down the Time to the beautiful-furnishing nudes, clothes, and academies to a world.

But we-England and America-will stand up on this planet in the way we like to stand on a planet and sing, “I will, I will!” to God.

If we cannot do better, we will sing, “I won’t, I won’t!” to God.  Our wills and our won’ts are our genius among the sons of men.  They are what we are for.  With England and America I will and I won’t are an art form, our means of expressing ourselves, our way of invention and creation, of begetting an age, of begetting a nation upon a world.

We do not know (like great men and children) who we are at first.  We begin saying vaguely-will-will!

Then i will!

Then I will!