1900 Figures Forecast a Century's Dangers

— Nothing less than a full perusal of the interesting and remarkable collection of answers received by the Sunday World Magazine to its question, “What is the chief danger that confronts us in the new century?” can serve to show how many and varied are the forms of coming peril.

The chief danger is war, say Mr. Stead and Mr. Carnegie; imperialism and militarism, say Karl Blind and John Dillon and J. Keir Hardie; mammon worship, says President Schurman; tyranny, says “Ouida;” our armies says Frederic Harrison; our naval armaments says Sir Walter Besant; the increasing influence of wealth, says William J. Bryan — an opinion which is echoed by Cardinal Gibbons, Joseph Arch, M. de Blowitz, Walter Crane and M.E. Braddon. William Watson thinks the danger is greed, Dean Farrar that it is drink, George R. Sims that it is insanity, Sarah Grand that it is laxity in the matter of marriage; and while Flora Annie Steel thinks that woman’s rights is the coming danger Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy thinks it is insufficient freedom.

Most remarkable of all are the opinions of otherwise intelligent thinkers that the press is really the coming danger. According to Conan Doyle it is the “ill-balanced, excitable and sensation-mongering press;” according to Stanley Weyman it is the “irresponsible press;” according to Max O’Rell it is “an irresponsible and unbridled press,” or what Max Beerbohm calls “jumpy journals,” or what T.M. Healy simply calls “the newspapers.”

This is an appalling array of dangers. Whether they are real or imaginary, it is no less a public service to have pointed them out. The world is optimistic enough to believe that the twentieth century, following the unvarying course of human history, will meet and overcome all perils and prove to be the best that this steadily improving planet has ever seen.

‘What is the Chief Danger, Social or Political, That Confronts the New Century?’ New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 30, 1900

The Rev. Hermann Adler, chief rabbi of Great Britain

The recrudescence of racial antipathies and national animosities.

Sir L. Alma-Tadema

The increasing loss of respect for work.

Susan B. Anthony

The chief danger, socially and politically, that confronts the coming century lies in man’s ignoring woman in the making and executing of the laws that govern the world — in man’s egotism, which causes him to think he can run the government machine alone. Not until he calls to his aid the woman by his side, counting her opinion at the ballot-box in the election of every officer so that from President to policeman all must recon with her, will the world be redeemed from the social and political corruption which are now sapping and undermining the very foundations of our Republic. Yours, not for the millennium but the beginning of its possibility, Susan B. Anthony.

Joseph Arch

A large accumulation of wealth on the one hand and a large increase of pauperism on the other.

William Archer, the famous dramatic critic

I think the need of the coming century is some sort of socialism, while the danger is that it should take the form of a military socialism, mechanically enforced, instead of a democratic socialism organically developed.

The Archbishop of Armagh

Fine-spun themes, played by politicians before the eyes of the Maker, impossible to realize and leading to fierce revolution; difficulty of making available the blessed and beautiful conception of international arbitration and undue confidence in the immediate protection afforded by an idea, destined to rule humanity one day, against ambitious strength.

G. F. Savage Armstrong, fellow and professor of English at Trinity College, Dublin

The corruption of the public press.

Lady Battersea


Max Beerbohm

The constant circumspection for social and political danger to which we are incited by jumpy journalism.

Lord Charles Beresford

The Chinese question.

Sir Walter Besant

1. In my opinion the greatest political danger is to be found in the vastly increased naval armaments of all the powers and in their avowed jealousy and open hostility toward the whole of the English-speaking people.

These armaments, designed apparently for self-protection, will be certainly used in combination against our people—probably against England first, and the United States next if the first is successful.

What success would mean in our case is obvious—the transfer of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India &c. to Russia, Germany, France or Japan. What it would mean in the case of the United States I leave to the consideration of America.

That it would mean defeat and humiliation unless the American fleet were equal to a combination of three first-class powers is quite certain. It is also quite certain that the dream of Napoleon, which was the destruction of the English naval power first and the conquest of North America next, has never been forgotten.

2. The greatest social danger — a very terrible and imminent danger — is the increase and development of trusts.

Karl Blind


Gen. Booth, commander of the Salvation Army

In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.

The Hon. G.C. Brodrick, Warden of Merton College, Oxford

The spread of Socialism and the substitution of popularity-hunting for statesmanship.

William J. Bryan

The greatest political danger of the twentieth century is that the increasing influence of wealth will lead to increasing disregard of the inalienable rights of man.

F.C. Burnand, editor of Punch

Social and political: Practical atheism.

Lady Colin Campbell

The results of universal education.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

I have not the slightest idea.

Andrew Carnegie

No matter what trials the coming century may have for humanity it must close with a civilization higher than that of today. All goes well upward onward. I believe that ere the twentieth century closes the earth will be purged of its foulest stain: the killing of men by men in battle under the name of war and that the profession of arms, hitherto the most and until recently the only profession thought worthy of a gentleman, will be held the most dishonorable of all and unworthy of any being in human form. To kill a man in that day will be considered … disquieting. …

Mrs. Ormiston Chant

The glorification of sordidness. to be rich is the universal ideal of human blessedness to-day, not for the sake of doing great, generous deeds for the comfort and improvement of mankind, but for the gratification of self and selfishness.

Is it not a fact that the man who has most successfully used up his fellow-men in business, accumulating wealth for himself, is the most socially distinguished and politically honored man today? It is very, very sordid, for death cuts it short and it makes no treasure in Heaven. But how he is glorified!

Walter Crane

Socially, it appears to me, the chief danger that confronts us — a disease which seems to affect all countries, but more especially those that claim to be in a state of advanced civilization — is the pursuit of money and the gauging of everything by a money standard.

Politically, the chief danger is the craze for expansion — big empires and the extinction of small but brave independent races and states.

Miss Emily Crawford, Paris correspondent of London Truth

Over-excitement. Present day over-excitement is really as destructive to the faculties as alcohol, and things seem going from bad to worse. I notice the same weakening effect on the English as on the French, notwithstanding the difference of climate and of temperament.

M. De Blowitz, Paris correspondent of London Times

In my opinion the chief danger that confronts the coming century is a universal and violent coalition of those who have everything to gain against those who have something to lose.

Sir Charles Dilke, M.P.

I think it would be presumption to answer your question, as those of us who are living at the commencement of the century would be certain to give predominance to questions which would probably be entirely forgotten by the middle of the century, let alone the end.

John Dillon, M.P.

Imperialism, militarism and the corruption of public life arising from the Companies’ acts, limited liability and the immense development of the stock exchange.

Dr. A. Conan Doyle

I should say the uncontrolled supremacy of an ill-balanced, excitable and sensation-mongering press.

Ex-Sen. Edmunds

Ignorance, greed, centralization of wealth and of social and political power and the consequent inequality of position and opportunity without which liberty and justice cannot exist.

Dean Farrar

The chief social danger is the dominance of drink. The chief political danger is our apathetic laxity in facing social problems.

Cardinal Gibbons

The greatest dangers that now seem to confront us are political corruption and the lust for gain and the unholy purposes to which it is perverted.

The Bishop of Gloucester

Self-advertising vanity.

Samuel Gompers

One of the chief dangers that confront the coming century is the lowering of the American standard of living. The mighty armaments of the Eastern nations are engaged in battering down the barriers that have hitherto protected Oriental peoples and their hand-made goods against the competition of our machine-made wares. The opening up of the Eastern markets means the flooding of these countries with cheap Western products.

Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower

In answer to your query, I think the chief danger, socially and politically, that confronts the coming century is hooliganism.

Mme. Sarah Grand

The sapping of the foundations of society by laxity in the matter of marriage.

Viscountess Haberton (famous dress reformer)

The lack of steadfastness of purpose in individuals, combined with an excessive craving for amusements and for paltry decorative display in domestic life, which is producing an apathy among the whole body of the people, enabling them to tolerate with equanimity governments that are known to be incompetent — governments composed too often, moreover, of men who have already sacrificed patriotism to mere love of place and party with disastrous results, as exemplified lately by the unpreparedness of England for the war with South Africa, and who for the same despicable motives refuse to attempt to introduce many urgently needed reforms in their countries.

The form of apathy which permits this state of things to continue must clearly end in serious misfortunes and general deterioration in the prosperity of those countries where it is most widely spread.

President Hadley of Yale

Legislation based on the self-interest of individuals or classes instead of on public sentiment and public spirit.

J. Keir Hardie, M.P.

Militarism. It detracts attention from social questions, subordinates the rights of the civilian to the imperious rule of the soldier, increases taxes, interferes with trade and commerce, and glorifies war, which in all its aspects is a reversion to barbarism. It is, besides a menace to political freedom, and in essence and fact a contradiction of the principles of Christianity.

Frederic Harrison, one of England’s foremost critics

The political danger of the future is the tendency of the enormous armies, fleets and military resources now accumulated by the powers of Europe to tempt their rulers and peoples to struggle for ascendancy, mainly in Asia and in Africa.

The social danger is the tendency of the rich and the poor, both having different but immense power, to engage in a struggle for mastery instead of seeking to develop their respective types of moral civilization.

T.M. Healy, M.P.


The Bishop of Hereford

Evil desires and covetousness. — Colossians III., 5.

Ernest Terah Hooley


Henry Arthur Jones


Arthur H. Lee, M.P.

1. In my opinion the chief social danger is the increasing deterioration of the tone of the press and the sacrifice of its sense of responsibility to the demands of sensationalism. 2. In my opinion, the chief political danger is the possibility of a temporary estrangement or quarrel between England and America which would give to some combination of European powers their long-desired opportunity of destroying the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race.

The Right Rev. Richard Lewis

Infidelity, anarchy.

Ian Maclaren

It appears to me that the great political danger in the beginning of the new century will be the collision of the Western powers in the East, and the chief social danger will be anarchy among the masses of the people at the base of our modern society. May I add that in my opinion the safeguard against both perils is the application of the Sermon on the Mount to the life alike of nations and of individuals?

H.W. Massingham, journalist and critic

The chief danger which, in my view, confronts the coming century is that the civilized world, which claims the right to impose its ideas on peoples that it calls uncivilized of insufficiently civilized, is itself without Faith, without Hope, and without Love.

That is, indeed, the most terrible and malignant form of barbarism—namely, a barbarism furnished with the weapons which science [has] placed in its hands [and whi]ch it [can?]not use for good. [Note: Because of deterioration of the source copy, the portions in brackets have been inferred from context.]

George Moore


Max Nordau

The chief danger, threatening civilization itself, seems to be that infernal selfishness called by pseudo-philosophers “individualism.” In social life it leads to anarchy, in home politics to party-preying, in international politics to wars, conquests and land-grabbing; in art and literature to silly pooh-poohing of all traditions and to attitudinizing. Progress is the outcome of a strong social sense. “Individualism” such as preached by the madman Nietzsche and brought into fashion by his contemptible followers necessarily leads to barbarism.

Col. Muller, President of Swiss Republic (The president of the Swiss Republic is forbidden by the etiquette and usage of his position from giving any direct statement for publication in the press. Col. Muller so replied when approached at Berne by a special representative of this number, who, however, obtained through the medium of a Swiss Deputy, the President’s answer to the question whether Republican institutions will flourish and expand during the Twentieth Century.)

In my opinion, republicanism must and will make great progress during the coming century. The peoples will demand republican institutions, privileges will disappear and with them the monarchial rule.

Max O’Rell

An irresponsible and unbridled press.


Tyranny — tyranny of majorities, tyranny military, medical, scientific, political.

Gilbert Parker, M.P.

… The spread and power of monopolies …

Arthur W. Pinero

Trades unions—the relations of workmen and employers.

The Bishop of Raphoe

Mutilated education — that is, education without religion.

John Rhys, principal of Jesus College, Oxford

The widespread materialism evidenced by the growing influence of made money, the insane hurry of individuals and nations to grab, the gradual installation of crass athleticism in place of what once claimed to be true religion and sound learning, and the reflex action which steadily impels men of a certain type of mind to seek refuge in materialism and the abnegation of intellectual independence.

The Duke of Rutland

The Duke of Rutland, not being endowed with the gift of prophecy, is unable to foretell what may be the chief danger, social or political, to the coming century in the different countries of the world.

President J.G. Schurman, of Cornell

The closing century has been characterized by great discoveries of the laws of nature, the universal application of science to the industrial arts, and the dissolution of many theological dogmas in the light of scientific and historical criticism. Man’s life in this world has gained in ease, comfort and interest, and the rewards and penalties of the world beyond have lost in vividness and reality. The human consciousness has become intensely mundane. The race for wealth was never before so keen, nor the prizes so vast, nor the general desire for creature comforts so absorbing.

The chief danger of the coming century will be the outcome of this condition. We may call it Mammonism, or the exaltation, worship and pursuit of money as the foremost good in life. And the counterpart of Mammonism is the decline of idealism and the intellectual life, a weakened sense of the rights of others, and a decay of the virile virtues of simplicity, justice and liberty, which are at once the foundation and protection of civil communities. The salt that may save us from this blight is to be found in our schools and churches, in every union for a righteous cause, and most of all in the ideals and aspirations of the noble souls who will not suffer human society to degenerate into a mere brutish struggle for life and the survival of the fittest.

George R. Sims, journalist and playwright

The spread of insanity.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

My one panacea for the world’s moral uplifting is justice to women. You see, I see nothing else! I know nothing else!

Flora Annie Steel

The danger, social or political, caused by the dislocation of aspiration from actuality in a swiftly increasing and eventually overwhelming body of women which, having given up its old position, has not found a logical foothold in the new.

The Duke of Sutherland

The chief danger to the British and American peoples is the chance of a misunderstanding or disagreement between them. All nations have their own social or political dangers — for instance, France’s danger is decrease of population.

Ellen Terry

A lack of simplicity in thought — manners and customs.

William Watson


The Earl of Wemyss

Socialism — the state and municipalities trying to play the part of providence and traders.

Stanley J. Weyman

The influence upon half-educated nations of an irresponsible press whose first object must, with very rare exceptions, be pecuniary.

Queen Wilhelmina, of Holland, Europe’s youngest sovereign, has given The World her view of the future of monarchial institutions (This most interesting declaration from Queen Wilhelmina was given to a specially accredited representative at The Hague on Nov. 20, 1900, through the medium of the Queen Mother):

As long as a sovereign rules constitutionally, and above all, dwells in the hearts of his or her subjects, as I hope I do in those of my people, the institution of monarchy is, in my opinion, safe to last not only in the coming century, but for all time.

Wu Ting Fang, Chinese minister to the United States

In my opinion the greatest danger, political or social, is the grasping spirit or covetousness which is unhappily growing more and more prevalent among individuals and nations. With the former, it makes them discontented with their lot and leads them to uneasiness and dispute, with the later, it leads them to disregard the rights of other nations and urges them to go to war, thus causing bloodshed and misery.

I. Zangwill

The reactionary reversion to mediaeval ideals of militarism, caste and ecclesiastical despotism ere they have been sufficiently purged by modern thought.