the slaves of the social convention, which is afraid of you; slaves of it as much as the very police that stand up in defence of that convention. Clearly you are, since you want to revolutionise it. It governs your thoughts, of course, and your action too, and thus neither your thought nor your action can ever be conclusive."
Conrad's objectivity may seem cool; but is a passion--a passion for freedom. It is the expression of very same love and passion that drove the young Pole to sea; and that--as once in the case of Ivan Tourgeniev --was doubtless the profoundest motive of his cultural relations with the West. This love of freedom cannot be confused with bourgeois liberalism, for he is an artist; and it is far too robust to be classed as aestheticism. The extent of Conrad's artistic success in Germany will be measured by his talent. His intellectual message will be for those among us who believe--in opposition to the views of the large majority --that the idea of freedom has a role to play in Europe that is not yet played out. ( 1926, 1933)
R. W. STALLMAN
"I suppose you know that the world is selfish, I mean the majority of the people in it, often unconsciously I must admit, and especially people with a mission, with a fixed idea, with some fantastic object in view, or even with only some fantastic illusion."
The Arrow of Gold, II, 1.
As The Secret Agent is among Conrad's lesser known works, though it is among his greatest, a brief summary may be useful to the reader who has not read it recently. The story, to quote Miss Bradbrook's summary in Joseph Conrad: Poland's English Genius ( 1941), "has for its main event a 'senseless outrage' staged by Verloc the agent provocateur, which unexpectedly involves the death of his feeble-minded young brother-____________________