10 March 2016

Early SF Tales from the Eaton Collection: Marmaduke, Emperor of Europe by Frank Attfield Fawkes

Hardcover, 271 pages
Published 1895
Borrowed from the Eaton Collection
Read January 2015
Marmaduke, Emperor of Europe: Being a Record of Some Strange Adventures in the Remarkable Career of a Political and Social Reformer Who Was Famous at the Commencement of the Twentieth Century
by X

The title page attributes this book to just "X," who was apparently really Frank Attfield Fawkes, an industrialist (according to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia) or a pharmacist (according a 1931 issue of the British trade publication The Chemist and Druggist). There's not a lot of biographic information out there, but he also wrote thrilling books like:
  • How to Organize Bazaars, Concerts, Fetes, Exhibitions and Various Charitable and Other Functions 
  • Horticultural Buildings: Their Construction, Heating, Interior Fittings, &c., with Remarks on Some of the Principles Involved and Their Application 
  • Architects' Joinery and Its Ornament 
  • Adventures of a Chemist: A Series of Unusual Detective Short Stories Embracing Drama, Comedy, Tragedy, Love, Humour, Infatuation, Passion, and Revenge
  • The Mystery of Human Life: An Attempt to Throw a Little Light Upon the Great Problems: What Am I? Whence Do I Come? Why Am I Here? Whither Do I Go?
Just like The English Revolution of the Twentieth Century, this early sci-fi novel is framed by it being a document that has fallen back in time: the frame is narrated by a guy riding a train who momentarily slips into the future, where his companion in the compartment gives him this book to read. The "Marmaduke" of the title (I assume this name sounded less ridiculous for an emperor before the comic strip) is actually Arthur Hardy, an author and journalist who thinks he knows how to regenerate society, but no one will listen to his theories. After his wife dies, he's given an opportunity to put his theories into practice by the Emperor of Germany, who he eventually persuades to disarm-- at Germany's military peak, so it doesn't come across as a move of weakness. Hardy is a Christian:
it will be a bloodless revolution; a beneficent revolution; a revolution which is intended to cleanse the land of the foul weeds of class and national hatred; a revolution which will prepare the ground for the good growths of love, peace, and prosperity. The revolution is inevitable and imminent. But you will have no reason to dread it. On the contrary you will welcome it. For this revolution is nothing more or less than a rebirth of Christianity. (105-06)
But he is also a highly gifted statistician, who is not cowed by the immensity of his task, providing charts and tables showing the best way to disarm, yet his is flexible in the application of his theories; he does not follow a "cast-iron pattern" and try to fit every nation into the same mold (208). He writes to one of his skeptics:
You assume that I shall be ‘overwhelmed and crushed with the gigantic task of elaborating a system of political and social reform for such a vast area as Europe.’ What would you say if I told you that in dealing with Europe and European questions, I had a difficult task to persuade myself that I was not contemplating the infinitely little under a microscope? (206)
At a certain point, he's believed dead, and he lets the world maintain that belief, deciding it is better off animated by Marmaduke the spirit than Marmaduke the man. Peace eventually takes over the world!

Fawkes's work is mostly notable for how distinct it is from that of his contemporaries, especially George Griffith, whose protagonists in his novel Angel of the Revolution (published just two years before this book) are an alliance of anarchists, socialist, and nihilists that band together as the Terrorists to reform the world. This statement by the narrator about Arthur Hardy seems a repudiation of the Griffith worldview:
He abhorred anarchism, nihilism, and other exponents of brute force. He refused to identify himself with people who, calling themselves “socialists,” advocated such mad schemes as [...] general partition of property—all capital withdrawn from individual and put under public control—abolition of all private property and ownership—and other plans which simply meant slavery for the individual.
     Arthur believed in social reform, but only such reform as was just, gave to every man the equality of opportunity, and could be obtained by strictly constitutional means. (15)
Much of that is what Griffith's Terrorists accomplish in Angel. That said, there are many people who join socialism in Marmaduke because they like its stance against militarism though few others of its tenets; one assumes they eventually end up joining Marmaduke's movement because of his own hatred of force.

Griffith's revolutionaries frequently justify their violence by pointing out that they're only doing what the state does: when nations kill, we call it war, but when individuals kill, we call it murder. For Griffith, this authorizes terrorism, but for Fawkes, this points toward hypocrisy: (Apologies for all the long quotes, but Fawkes is one of those kinda writers.)
Militarism would indignantly repudiate any connection or similarity, however remote, with anarchy. Public opinion places them as far asunder as the poles. To the one is attached the title of ‘honorable profession of arms’; to the other is applied epithets of opprobrium and reproach. One marches proudly in broad daylight with music and flags, the other slinks in the hidden darkness. With one is connected glory and honour, with the other disgrace and degradation.
     Analyse results, however, and what do we find?
     They are both the visible embodiment of brute force. Neither of them has the slightest regard or pity for their innocent victims. They are both engaged in ringing the terrible changes on death, suffering, and disaster. They are each the antitheses of right. They are each absolutely void of utility or benefit. They are each the sworn enemies to progress, justice, or righteousness. Nations have progressed in spite of, not in consequence of, either militarism or anarchism.
     Does war produce anything but national chaos? Is anarchism intended to produce anything but social chaos? Granted that one chaos is on a smaller scale than the other, yet it is still chaos. (121)
Militarism ought to abhor us as much as terrorism, but we've dressed it up to make it justifiable. One suspects that Fawkes would have had a lot to say in this modern era of drone warfare and a military-industrial complex gone mad. Despite its preachiness, Marmaduke was one of the more interesting and nuanced 1890s books I read at the Eaton Collection.

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