• By and By: an Historical
Romance of the Future. G.P. Putnam’s Sons,
Information: First published in 1873, in three volumes. This was the third romance by Edward Maitland. The two previous ones were The Pilgrim and the Shrine; or, Passages from the Life and Correspondence of Herbert Ainslie (1869), and Higher Law: a Romance (1871).
Edward Maitland believed that the existing tales of the future wrongly predicted
that physical science would come to dominate humanity and destroy it. With this
novel he tries to correct this view of science and technology by depicting a
future society transformed by technology into a new
Below we have the title pages, with a photo of the main title page, the links to Books and Chapters of the complete Html text of the work.
Observation: The revision of the digitization errors is not yet complete.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
THE PILGRIM AND THE SHRINE.
4th Edition, 12mo, cloth, $1.50
“One of the wisest and most charming of books.” –
HIGHER LAW. A ROMANCE.
12mo, cloth, $1.75
“There is no novel, in short, which can be compared to it for its width of view,
its cultivation, its poetry, and its deep human interest. … except ‘Romola.’” –
“Its careful study of character, and the ingenuity and independence of its speculations, will commend it to the admiration even of those who differ from its conclusions most gravely.” – British Quarterly Review.
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, PUBLISHERS,
The Pilgrim and the Shrine and Higher Law present, respectively, the evolution of religion and morals out of the contact of the external world with the human consciousness, as well as that of the faculties themselves out of the lower instincts. Similarly, By and By presents a state of society in which the intuitions are promoted to their proper supremacy over tradition and convention. In endeavoring to exhibit the capacity of Nature to produce, unaided, and provided only that its best be given fair play, the highest results in character, and conduct, and faith, the purpose of the entire series shows itself to be no other than the rehabilitation of nature; a purpose supremely religious, inasmuch as to rehabilitate nature is to rehabilitate the Author of nature, – the failure of the work involving that of the maker.
To find a society resting solely on the intelligence and moral sense of its members, as developed by rational education, it was necessary to go to a yet far distant future. By and By, then, is an attempt to depict the condition of the world at a time when our own country, at least, shall have made such advance in the solution of the problems which harass the present, and shall be so far relieved of all disabling artifices, social, political,
and religious, that individuals will be able, without penalty or reproach, to fashion their lives according to their own preferences, the sole external limitation being that imposed by the law of equal liberty for all.
To depict such a society without falling in the extravagances of Utopianism, certain conditions must be observed, the main one of which is that human nature be regarded as a “constant quantity.” Whatever the progress made in knowledge and the art of living, all differences will be of degree, not of kind. Wherefore, unless the period taken be very much in advance of that contemplated in By and By, and altogether unthinkable by us, the conditions of existence will still necessitate the production of types varying widely in character and development, and therefore of lives consisting of efforts resulting more or less in alternating failure and success. No matter how severely scientific the training, there will still be a religious side to man’s nature, a side through which the intuitions will seek towards their source, and deem it to be found in the eternal consciousness, inherent in the universe of being, that for them underlies all phenomena.
It must be expected that, as in the past, so in the future, there will be men endowed with a genius for that righteousness which recognizes a relation to the whole as well as to the part, and as liable under the influence of enthusiasm to transcend the bounds of strict sanity, and in their ecstacy to confound their spiritual imaginings with their physical perceptions, – as ever were founders of religions of old.
With regard to woman, it must be expected that no training will prevent the emotional from still predominating in her constitution, and retaining her in a position in respect to man relatively the same that she has ever held. It must be
expected, too, that the first choice of the ideal man of the future, as just described, will be the woman who most nearly for him represents nature, genuine and unsophisticated; that though he will find such nature very winning and sweet, he will also find it very perverse and wayward, and hard to arouse to a sense of the ideal; but because it is true and genuine, and loves its best, he will be tender and enduring to the end, no matter at what cost to himself. I must be expected that the conflict between soul and sense will still be illustrated in the facts and relations of life; that to much love much more will be forgiven than now, when the compulsion is that of the sentiments and not of law; and that while the selfishness, insincerity, and uncharity which characterize the mere conventional, will be the sole unpardonable sins, and a moral jar be held as justifying divorce, even these will be “vanishing qualities” under the gradual elimination form society of the conditions which favour their development.
It may be further surmised of such character as has been indicated, that, while differing from his prototypes of the past in being rich instead of poor, educated instead of untaught, married instead of single (for how else can he afford a complete example of the ideal life to others?), his enthusiasm expending itself on the practical, and his whole life illustrating the gospel, that man is to be redeemed by works, inasmuch as he has it in his power to amend the conditions of his own existence, he will not altogether escape the fate that has ever befallen those who have been enthusiasts for humanity, and that the sufferings which make perfect will not be wanting to him.
While our Romance of the Future thus becomes in a measure transformed into an allegory, and its characters present
themselves under a typical aspect, it may surely be hoped that, whatever the view taken of details, the impression produced by the whole will be one of hopefulness as to the possibilities of humanity; and that it is not among what has been termed the “literature of despair,” that By and By and its companion books can fairly be catalogued.