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Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia

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Friedrich briefly sketched the circumstances of his life. The old man shook his head gently. "Twenty years ago? Yes, yes! I understand your surprise. Yet everything already existed at that time. You remember the words of Ecclesiastes: 'That which hath been is that which shall be and that which hath been done is that which shall be done. And there is nothing new under the sun.'"

"Pardon me, Mr. President!" shouted Steineck. "That must be taken with a grain of salt. All that now is did not always exist, and all that is to be does not lie behind us... I recall not Ecclesiastes, but Stockton-Darlington. Understand?"

"What about Stockton-Darlington?" asked Lord Sudbury. "Do you refer to the first railway, built by George Stephenson a hundred years ago?"

"Quite so, my lord!" cried the Professor. "A few days ago the Academy decided to suggest a worthy world-wide tribute to Stephenson in 1925. Our suggestion is that at the exact moment when the hundred years are fulfilled locomotives in every part of the world, wherever they may happen to be, shall stop and whistle slowly three times. That is the Stockton-Darlington ceremony which we propose. Passengers in trains all over the world will be obliged to remember Stephenson, the harbinger of a new era. You will admit, dear Mr. President, that between Stockton and Darlington the wisdom of Ecclesiastes goes off the rails, will you not?"

"I admit it the more readily," responded Dr. Marcus pleasantly, "since I did not contradict it. I was thinking only of the co-existence of things, a favorite theme of mine. I meditate on it when I relax, and it calms my spirit. I welcome the years, the months or the days that still remain to me for its sake. It is my comfort that all things which once existed still continue to exist. The future too is already here, and I recognize it: it is the good. Thus, while I start from the same premises as the Preacher, son of David, who ruled over Israel in Jerusalem, I reach a conclusion different from his. Still, Solomon may have meant the same thing, though he said that all is vanity, and inquired what reward had a man for all his toil under the sun. All is indeed vanity if we look at things from the transitory viewpoint of our own personalities. But once we can think beyond ourselves, all is not vanity. Even my dreams are eternal, for others will dream them when I am gone. Though the creators of beauty and wisdom pass away, Beauty and Wisdom are themselves immortal. Just as the conservation of energy is self-evident, so must we infer that there is conservation of Beauty and Wisdom. Has the joyous art of the Greeks, for instance, ever been lost? No, it is always reborn in later ages. Are the sayings of our sages extinguished? No, they still burn, though perhaps less brightly in the daylight of happiness than in the dark night of misery. In that they are like all flames. What follows? That we are in duty bound to increase beauty and Wisdom upon the earth unto our last breath. For the earth is we ourselves. Out of her we come, unto her we return. Ecclesiastes said it, and we today have nothing to add to his words: 'But the earth shall endure forever.'"

After Dr. Marcus had finished, each man gave himself silently up to his own thoughts. Suddenly, the voice of a woman singing, though muffled by the intervening doors and walls, penetrated into the quiet room. All were hushed as they listened.

"Who is that?" whispered Friedrich.

"Don't you know?" Isaacs whispered back. "It's Miss Miriam." He rose and walked down the arcade to the door of the music room, which he noiselessly set ajar. Now the glorious tones were heard in their full strength. Miriam, unconscious of her audience, sang Schumann, Rubinstein, Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, the music of all the nations, for Lady Lillian. The melodies flowed in a ceaseless stream. Friedrich listened blissfully, happy to be among these choice spirits who realized life in Beauty and Wisdom, when Miriam began the wistful song from "Mignon" that he had always loved, "Knowest thou the land," he whispered to himself, "This is the Land!"

III

The hours at the artist's studio passed like a dream. Toward evening Professor Steineck was called to the telephone. Kingscourt speaking. The Professor must return to the hotel at once.

"Miss Miriam," said Friedrich as they drove back with the Professor, "I want to thank you for revealing yourself to me through your music. Now I feel that I know you."

She blushed and was silent.

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