Henry Arthur Jones

Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929) has not entirely faded into history as is attested to by the existence of his Wikipedia entry. A prolific playwright from the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, about whom Oscar Wilde said this:

“There are three rules for writing plays. The first rule is not to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules are the same.”

My acquaintance with Mr Jones has come through my just having finished reading his wondrous 1921 political tract, My Dear Wells: A Manual for the Haters of England, whose perspective is perhaps better displayed by its subtitle, “Being a Series of Letters Upon Bolshevism, Collectivism, Internationalism, and the Distribution of Wealth Addressed to Mr H.G. Wells”. So whatever rules there may be about writing plays, the three rules for writing political tracts might be summarised as: the first rule is to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules would then be the same.

What is particularly wondrous is that the book could have come off the press this morning, how up-to-date he is in singling out the fools on the left who seem not to have learned a thing in the hundred years since then. Mr Jones was infuriated by Wells’s support for Lenin and the Revolution which had just then taken place in Russia. I had not been aware that the horrors that were visited upon the Russian people had been immediately recognised for what they were and discussed across the world. Jones’ replies to Wells’s own writings highlights the cruel indifference typically shown by the left, seen today in how the horrors in Venezuela are being downplayed by the media and the socialists amongst us. Other people’s tragedies must never be allowed to impede progressives in their will to visit the same tragedies on us as well. The left were vile then and are equally vile now. Here is a bit to see just how contemporary it all is:

Make a list of the richest and most powerful men in Western European and American civilization. Quite a large number of them are men who have made themselves rich and powerful, not by intercepting the wealth and influence that other men have created for mankind, but by their own conspicuous ability, by severe self-denial, by thrift, by constant strain of hard thought and hard work. By these means many of them have created vast quantities of wealth for others, and have eased the conditions of living for large populations of workers, and have otherwise conferred lasting benefits on their fellows. I do not say that some of these rich and powerful men may not have received larger rewards than were justly their due, I do not say that some of them may not have gained some of their wealth by dishonest means. There is no possible way of adjusting any scale of measurement. The thing for you to notice is that in your Collectivist State you are not likely to have many of these benefactors, for in denying them the rewards of money, power, honour and influence, you take away from them all incentive to train their natural ability, to practise thrift and self-denial, to scorn base trivial delights, and to spend themselves in constant thought and labour. Notice the result in Russia of suppressing and persecuting out of existence this enterprising type. (Jones 1921: 183)

Socialists never change. Grasping, greedy and envious to the end, ignorant even of the basics on how wealth is created so that what is produced may be shared out amongst us. These socialists are the curse of the earth.

LET ME ADD THIS: Via Instapundit this morning: Your Socialism Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad. The promise of free stuff plus “equality” has a powerful attraction many find hard to resist. Now we also add in containing climate change as one more part of the socialist magic act. Just vote us in and we will tax and spend our way to stopping the seas from rising.

1 thought on “Henry Arthur Jones

  1. Many thanks for introducing me to an author unknown to me. Other novices may enjoy this link to My Dear Wellswhich includes this author’s note:

    The English public expect a writer who addresses them on series matters, to be solemn and portentous. This enables them to understand that he is making an appeal to whatever capacity for careful judgment they may possess. I therefore did my best to make this book as dull as possible, but in spite of my efforts, I fear a certain liveliness has crept into many passages.

    Compared with Mr. Wells, I am at much disadvantage with the great body of readers. I do not invent theories which, by merely pronouncing them, will open a spacious State Paradise with velvet lounges for all of us. I do not solve social problems by wrapping them in vasty vaporous phrases that have no relations to facts. I do not issue rosy prophesies.

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