Liberty Vol. III. No. 12.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
“There is no Country,” says one of Diderot’s characters: “I see, from one pole to another, nothing but tyrants and slaves.”
A straw significant of the change that is taking place in the world’s ideals. The municipal authorities of Paris have changed the name of the street heretofore known as the Rue de la Nativité to the Rue P. J. Proudhon. Jesus, the man who felt within his heart the sentiment of justice merely, is giving place to the man who supplemented this sentiment with the science of justice.
In criticising Mr. Underwood of the “Index” for commenting on an article in Liberty, signed by another person, as if it were my own, I recently said that it was “altogether likely that Mr. Underwood, in committing this offence, knew what he was doing.” Although he receives Liberty regularly and reads it with some diligence, he answers that he made the quotation from a paragraph which he found reprinted in an exchange, and supposed that the editor of Liberty wrote it. It seems, then, that he did not know what he was doing. I am very glad to impale Mr. Underwood upon this horn of the dilemma if he finds it less uncomfortable than the other.
In a series of articles in the London “Commonweal” Dr. Edward Aveling, newly-fledged disciple of Karl Marx, discusses economic questions. He concludes each article with what he calls “a concise definition of each of the terms mentioned.” These two definitions stand side by side. “Natural object — that on which human labor has not been expended; Product — a natural object on which human labor has been expended.” A product, then, is something on which human labor has not been expended on which human labor has been expended. Curious animal, a product! No wonder the laborer is unable to hold on to it. More slippery than a greased pig, I should imagine. But this is a “scientific” definition, and I suppose it must be true. For its author, Dr. Aveling, is a scientist, and the subject of his articles is “Scientific Socialism,” which he champions against us loose-thinking Anarchists.
It would be interesting to know just what Rev. R. Heber Newton means by styling Proudhon “that Jacobin of Socialism.” If he means by Jacobin simply an opponent of government, perhaps no exception can be taken to such a classification of Proudhon, for he certainly was an opponent of government, and such a use of the word is not without sanction. But to so describe Proudhon without further specification is very misleading. For the word Jacobin is generally used to signify a revolutionist of the Robespierre school, and Robespierre wits Proudhon’s pet abomination. A Jacobin is generally opposed to the existing government, but he always belongs to that political school which, to serve its ends, will stop at no extreme of tyranny and dictatorship. The ideal society of a Jacobin is always held in subjection to a strong government. The demolition of Jacobinism constitutes a large and important part of Proudhon’s work. Louis Blanc was much more of a Jacobin than Proudhon, and yet two Socialists more antithetical than these could scarcely be named. I am afraid that Rev. R. Heber Newton’s knowledge of Proudhon is of a superficial order.
The “Freiheit” announces that M. Bachmann, formerly editor of “Die Zukunft,” has no editorial or other connection with the “Freiheit” and no personal association with its managers. So much the worse for the “Freiheit.”
Henry B. Blackwell said before the Free Religious Association that he likes the word “cooperation” better than the word “Socialism” because he “cannot forget that, while it is true we are made brothers and sisters in this world, it is also true that we are made our own natural care-takers in this world, and that no man and no woman, can safely trust the management and direction of his or her personal affairs to any society or any organization or any government. I believe to the very marrow of my bones in the doctrine of individualism. I stand today with Thomas Jefferson on the principle that ‘the best government is that which governs least.’ I claim that more important than to secure any organic change is our duty to make government take its hand off of industry, and to do away with these legislative monopolies which bind and fetter the industry of men and the industry of nations. I want, first of all, a political society that is true to the ideal of Socialism, a society that recognizes woman as the equal of man and every man as the equal of every other man.” And in the very next breath he said: “When I saw only yesterday that in Rhode Island they had adopted the ten-hour law for women and children, I thanked God.” Mr. Blackwell, then, would have “government take its hand off of industry” by prohibiting it from working as many hours as it chooses, and, although wanting society to recognize woman as the equal of man, approves a law abridging her liberty of labor while not impairing man’s. This is Jeffersonianism with a vengeance.
As Ruskin once said of that journal’s utterance on another subject, so Liberty now says of its bold stroke at corruption in high places: “Well done, the Pall Mall!” A signal service has been done to society, a signal impulse has been given to the revolution, by the publication of these crowning iniquities practised by the plunderers of the poor. The conspiracy against labor has systematic ramifications that few have dreamed of. Not content, with organizing a scheme to rob laborers of their earnings, these brutal aristocrats have lately, it seems, organized another to, decoy and drug the thirteen-year-old laughters of these laborers and subject them to their depraved desires. Such horrors as the “Pall Mall Gazette” has unfolded to the world are almost past conception. Zola is out-Zolaed; his realism out-realized; truth makes his fiction tame. The morals of the bourgeoisie are infinitely worse than the wildest fancy ever painted them. Such things cannot last. They invite destruction. And the invitation will be accepted. The chief good, in fact, to be derived from these exposures will come, not through their direct effect upon the so-called “social evil,” which will be very small, but through their effect upon the minds of the people, who will begin to inquire, with an earnestness born of horror, how the members of polite society get the means that enables them to spend their time in devising new deviltries instead of supporting themselves by honest work; and, when this inquiry has been answered satisfactorily, not only will the “social evil” fall, but all the social evils will go down together.
“Until the Dawn.”
When head and hands and heart alike are weary;
When hope with folded wings sinks out of sight;
When all thy striving fails to disentangle
From out wrong’s skein the golden thread of right;
When all thy knowledge seems a marsh-light’s glimmer
That only shews the blackness of the night;
In the dark hour when victory seems hopeless;
Against thy lance when armies are arrayed;
When failure writes itself upon thy forehead,
by foes out-numbered and by friends betrayed,—
Still stand thou fast, though faith be bruised and wounded,
Still face thy future, still be undismayed!
While one true man speaks out against injustice.
While through men’s chorused “Right!” clear rings his “Wrong!”
Freedom still lives. One day she will reward him
Who trusted in her though she tarried long,
Who held her creed, was faithful till her coming,
Who, for her sake, strove, suffered, and was strong.
She will bring crowns for those who love and serve her;
If thou cans’t live for her, be satisfied;
If thou cans’t die for her, rejoice! Our brothers
At least shall crown our graves and say, “These died
Believing in the sun when night was blackest,
And by our dawn their faith is justified!”
The Church Necessarily Militant.
The church is ever a contradiction. It is the church of the meek and lowly Christ, yet it is the church militant, church of the God of battles, Lord of Hosts. Especially such is every national church, and its ministers in Russia or in England are doubtless so far from feeling that they belie their profession that, on the contrary, they begin to feel the call to preach fortitude, resolution, and determination. What would a national church be for if it were impartial when a nation became involved? The national churches are parts of the intensest national spirit. If war is ever to be banished, not only national churches, but national clannism and partisanship, the political metaphysics throughout, must be supplanted by individualism and the cosmopolite spirit of fraternal good-wilhand reciprocal service, with absolute liberty of migration, choice of domicile, and freedom of trade. In that case there would be nothing left to fight about and nobody willing to fight on a national scale.
Tithes and Rents.
Mr. Houdley is going to allow his hop poles to be seized rather than pay the demand made upon him for what, is called Extraordinary Tithe. Mr. Houdley has grown hops and is therefore liable to an increased tithe, as he would be if he grew fruit or in any other way added to the productiveness of the land. He does not see why the parson should benefit by his labor, and therefore, at great personal inconvenience, he adopts this mode of passive resistance in order to call attention to the injustice to which he is subjected. This is the true method of resisting injustice, and a few more public-spirited actions of this kind would render it impossible to collect a tax so obnoxious and unjust. It is well, however, to bear in mind that the claim of the vicar for tithe is quite as good as that of the landlord for rent. Indeed, it is better. The clergyman has to do something for tithe, but the landlord does nothing whatever for rent. Neither is the case altered from the face; that the tithe is increased because the ground is more profitably employed. Exactly the same happens in the matter of rent. Let a man plant fruit trees, and how long will it be before his rent is increased? Only so long as his lease extends, if he has a lease, and just so long as it may be necessary to realize the commencement of increased profit if he be without a lease. If he goes to his landlord, and says, “I want to plant fruit trees or build houses, give me a long term,” the rent will probably be increased five-fold at once. The landlord is in every way worse than a vicar, and it will not be long, we hope, before Mr. Houdley’s example in respect of tithe is followed in the matter of rent.
A Letter to Grover Cleveland:
On His False, Absurd, Self-Cortradictory, and Ridiculous Inaugural Address. By Lysander Spooner.
[The author reserves his copyright in this letter.]
But you evidently believe nothing of what I have now been saying. You evidently believe that justice is no law at all unless in cases where the lawmakers may chance to prefer it to any law which they themselves can invent.
You evidently believe that a certain paper, called the constitution, which nobody ever signed, which few persons ever read, which the great body of the people never saw, and as to the meaning of which no two persons were ever agreed, is the supreme law of this land, anything in the law of nature — anything in the natural, inherent, inalienable, individual rights of fifty millions of people — to the contrary notwithstanding.
Did folly, falsehood, absurdity, assumption, or criminality ever reach a higher point than that?
You evidently believe that those great volumes of statutes, which the people at large have never read, nor even seen, and never will read, nor see, but which such men as you and your lawmakers have been manufacturing for nearly a hundred years, to restrain them of their liberty, and deprive them of their natural rights, were all made for their benefit, by men wiser than they — wiser even than justice itself — and having only their welfare at heart!
You evidently believe that the men who made those laws were duly authorized to make them; and that you yourself have been duly authorized to enforce them. But in this you are uterly mistaken. You have not so much as the honest, responsible scratch of one single pen, to justify you in the exercise of the power you have taken upon yourself to exercise. For example, you have no such evidence of your right to take any man’s property for the support of your government, as would be required of you, if you were to claim pay for a single day’s honest labor.
It was once said in this country, that taxation without consent was robbery. And a seven years’ war was fought to maintain that principle. But if that principle were a true one in behalf of three millions of men, it is an equally true one in behalf of three men, or of one man.
Who are ever taxed? Individuals only. Who have property that can he taxed? Individuals only. Who can give their consent to be taxed? Individuals only. Who are ever taxed without their consent? Individuals only. Who, then, are robbed, if taxed without their consent? Individuals only.
If taxation without consent is robbery, the United States government has never had, has not now, and is never likely to have, a single honest dollar in its treasury.
If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized.
If any man’s money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.
That your whole claim of a right to any man’s money for the support of your government, without his consent, is the merest farce and fraud, is proved by the fact that you have no such evidence of your right to take it, as would be required of you, by one of your own courts, to prove a debt of five dollars, that might be honestly due you.
You and your lawmakers have no such evidence of your right of dominion over the people of this country, as would be required to prove your right to any material property, that you might have purchased.
When a man parts with any considerable amount of such material property as he has a natural right to part with,— as, for example, houses, or lands, or food, or clothing, or anything else of much value,— he usually gives, and the purchaser usually demands, some written acknowledgment, receipt, bill of sale, or other evidence, that will prove that he voluntarily parted with it, and that the purchaser is now the real and true owner of it. But you hold that fifty millions of people have voluntarily parted, not only with their natural right of dominion over all their material property, but also with all their natural right of dominion over their own souls and bodies: when not one of them has ever given you a scrap of writing, or even “made his mark,” to that effect.
You have not so much as the honest signature of a single human being, granting to you or your lawmakers any right of dominion whatever over him or his property.
You hold your place only by a title which, on no just principle of law or reason, is worth a straw. And all who are associated with you in the government — whether they be called senators, representatives, judges, executive officers, or what not — all hold their places, directly or indirectly, only by the same worthless title. That title is nothing more nor less than votes given in secret (by secret ballot), by not more than one-fifth of the whole population. These votes were given in secret solely because those who gave them did not dare to make themselves personally responsible, either for their own acts, or the acts of their agents, the lawmakers, judges, etc.
These voters, having given their votes in secret (by secret ballot), have put it out of your power — and out of the power of all others associated with you in the government — to designate your principals individually. That is to say, you have no legal knowledge as to who voted for you, or who voted against you. And being unable to designate your principals individually, you have no right to say that you have any principals. And having no right to say that you have any principals, you are bound, on every just principle of law or reason, to confess that you are mere usurpers, making laws, and enforcing them, upon your own authority alone.
A secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government is nothing else than a government by conspiracy. And a government by conspiracy is the only government we now have.
You say that “every voter exercises a public trust.”
Who appointed him to that trust? Nobody. He simply usurped the power; he never accepted the trust. And because he usurped the power, he dares exercise it only in secret. Not one of all the ten millions of voters, who helped to place you in power, would have dared to do so, if he had known that he was to be held personally responsible, before any just tribunal, for the acts of those for whom he voted.
Inasmuch as all the votes, given for you and your lawmakers, were given in secret, all that you and they can say, in support of your authority as rulers, is that you venture upon your acts as lawmakers, etc., not because you have any open, authentic, written, legitimate authority granted you by any human being,— for you can show nothing of the kind,— but only because, from certain reports made to you of votes given in secret, you have reason to believe that; you have at your backs a secret association strong enough to sustain you by force, in case your authority should be resisted.
Is there a government on earth that rests upon a more false, absurd, or tyrannical basis than that?
But the falsehood and absurdity of your whole system of government do not result solely from the fact that it rests wholly upon votes given in secret, or by men who take care to avoid all personal responsibility for their own acts, or the acts of their agents. On the contrary, if every man, woman, and child in the United States had openly signed, sealed, and delivered to you and your associates, a written document, purporting to invest you with all the legislative, judicial, and executive powers that you now exercise, they would not thereby have given you the slightest legitimate authority. Such a contract, purporting to surrender into your hands all their natural rights of person and property, to be disposed of at your pleasure or discretion, would have been simply an absurd and void contract, giving you no real authority whatever.
It is a natural impossibility for any man to make a binding contract, by which he shall surrender to others a single one of what are commonly called his “natural, inherent, inalienable rights.”
It is a natural impossibility for any man to make a binding contract, that shall invest others with any right whatever of arbitrary, irresponsible dominion over him.
The right of arbitrary, irresponsible dominion is the right of property; and the right of property is the right of arbitrary, irresponsible dominion. The two are identical. There is no difference between them. Neither can exist without the other. If, therefore, our so-called lawmakers really have that right of arbitrary, irresponsible dominion over us, which they claim to have, and which they habitually exercise, it must he because they own us as property. If they own us as property, it must be because nature made us their property; for, as no man can sell himself as a slave, we could never make a binding contract that should make us their property — or, what is the same thing, give them any right of arbitrary, irresponsible dominion over us.
As a lawyer, you certainly ought to know that all this is true.
Sir, consider, for a moment, what an utterly false, absurd, ridiculous, and criminal government we now have.
It all rests upon the false, ridiculous, and utterly groundless assumption, that fifty millions of people not only could voluntarily surrender, but actually have voluntarily surrendered, all their natural rights, as human beings, into the custody of some four hundred men, called lawmakers, judges, etc., who are to be held utterly irresponsible for the disposal they may make of them.
The only right, which any individual is supposed to retain, or possess, under the government, is a purely fictitious one,— one that nature never gave him,— to wit, his right (so-called), as one of some ten millions of male adults, to give away, by his vote, not only all his own natural, inherent, inalienable, human rights, but also all the natural, inherent, inalienable, human rights of forty millions of other human beings — that is, women and children.
To suppose that any one of all these ten millions of male adults would voluntarily surrender a single one of all his natural, inherent, inalienable, human rights into the hands of irresponsible men, is an absurdity; because, first, he has no power to do so, any contract he may make for that purpose being absurd, and necessarily void; and, secondly, because he can have no rational motive for doing so. To suppose him to do so, is to suppose him to be an idiot, incapable of making any rational and obligatory contract. It is to suppose he would voluntarily give away everything in life that was of value to himself, and get nothing in return. To suppose that he would attempt to give away all the natural rights of other persons — that is, the women and children — as well as his own, is to suppose him to attempt to do something that he has no right, or power, to do. It is to suppose him to be both a villain and a fool.
And yet this government now rests wholly upon the assumption that some ten millions of male adults — men supposed to be compos mentis — have not only attempted to do, but have actually succeeded in doing, these absurd and impossible things.
It cannot be said that men put all their rights into the hands of the government, in order to have them protected; because there can be no such thing as a man’s being protected in his rights, any longer than he is allowed to retain them in his own possession. The only possible way, in which any man can he protected in his rights, is to protect him in his own actual possession and exercise of them. And yet our government is absurd enough to assume that a man can be protected in his rights, after he has surrendered them altogether into other hands than his own.
This is just as absurd as it would be to assume that a man had given himself away as a slave, in order to be protected in the enjoyment of his liberty.
A man wants his rights protected, solely that he himself may possess and use them, and have the full benefit of them. But if he is compelled to give them up to somebody else,— to a government, so-called, or to any body else,— he ceases to have any rights of his own to be protected.
To say, as the advocates of our government do, that a man must give up some of his natural rights, to a government, in order to have the rest of them protected — the government being all the while the sole and irresponsible judge as to what rights he does give up, and what he retains, and what are to be protected — is to say that he gives up all the rights that the government chooses, at any time, to assume that he has given up; and that he retains none, and is to be protected in none, except such as the government shall, at all times, see fit to protect, and to permit him to retain. This is to suppose that he has retained no rights at all, that he can, at any time, claim as his own, as against the government. It is to say that he has really given up every right, and reserved none.
For a still further reason, it is absurd to say that a man must give up gome of his rights to a government, in order that government may protect him in the rest. That reason is, that, every right he gives up diminishes his own power of self-protection, and makes it so much more difficult, for the government to protect him. And yet our government says a man must give up all his rights, in order that it may protect him. It might just as well be said that a man must consent to be bound hand and foot, in order to enable a government, or his friends, to protect him against an enemy. Leave him in full possession of his limbs, and of all his powers, and he will do more for his own protection than he otherwise could, and will have less need of protection from a government, or any other source.
Finally, if a man, who is compos mentis, wants any outside protection for his rights, he is perfectly competent to make his own bargain for such as he desires; and other persons have no occasion to thrust their protection upon him, against his will; or to insist, as they now do, that he shall give up all, or any, of his rights to them, in consideration of such protection, and only such protection, as they may afterwards choose to give him.
It is especially noticeable that those persons, who are so impatient to protect other men in their rights that they cannot wait until they are requested to do so, have a somewhat inveterate habit of killing all who do not voluntarily accept their protection; or do not consent to give up to them all their rights in exchange for it.
If A were to go to B, a merchant, and say to him, “Sir, I am a night-watchman, and I insist upon your employing me as such in protecting your property against burglars; and to enable me to do so more effectually, I insist upon your letting me tie your own hands and feet, so that you cannot interfere with me; and also upon your delivering up to me all your keys to your store, your safe, and to all your valuables and that you authorize me to act solely and fully according to my own will, pleasure, and discretion in the matter; and I demand still further, that you shall give me an absolute guaranty that you will not hold me to any accountability whatever for anything I may do, or for anything that may happen to your goods while they are under my protection; and unless you comply with this proposal, I will now kill you on the spot,” — if A were to say all this to B, B would naturally conclude that A himself was the most impudent and dangerous burglar that he (B) had to fear; and that if he (B) wished to secure his property against burglars, his best way would be to kill A in the first place, and then take his chances against all such other burglars as might come afterwards.
Our government constantly acts the part that is here supposed to be acted by A. And it is just as impudent a scoundrel as A is here supposed to be. It insists that every man shall give up all his lights unreservedly into its custody, and then hold it wholly irresponsible for any disposal it may make of them. And it gives him no alternative but death.
If by putting a bayonet to a man’s breast, and giving him his choice, “to die, or be protected in his rights,” it secures his consent to the latter alternative, it then proclaims itself a free government,— a government resting on consent!
You yourself describe such a government as “the best government ever vouchsafed to man.”
Can you tell me of one that is worse in principle?
But perhaps you will say that ours is not so bad, in principle, as the others, for the reason that here, once in two, four, or six years, each male adult is permitted to have one vote in ten millions, in choosing the public protectors. Well, if you think that that materially alters the case, I wish you joy of your remarkable discernment.
To be continued.
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 63.
Rakhmétoff was gradually becoming animated, and already spoke with warmth. But Véra Pavlovna stopped him.
“I must not listen to you, Rakhmétoff,” said she in a bitter and discontented tone; “you heap reproaches upon the man to whom I am under infinite obligations.”
“Véra Pavlovna, if you must not listen to this, I will not say it to you. Do you imagine that I now notice this for the first time? You know that no one can avoid a conversation with me if it seems to me indispensable. Therefore I could have said this to you before, and yet I said nothing. Therefore the fact that I have now begun to speak means that it is necessary. I never speak sooner than is necessary. You saw me keep the note in my pocket nine whole hours, although it filled me with pity to see you. But it was necessary to keep silent, and I kept silent. So, if I now say what I long ago thought about the ways of Dmitry Serguéitch towards you, that means that it is necessary to speak about it.”
“But I will not listen to you,” said Véra Pavlovna with extreme vehemence: “I beg you to be silent, Rakhmétoff. I beg you to go away. I am much obliged to you for having sacrificed an evening on my account. But I beg you to go away.”
“Good.” said he, laughing. “No, Véra Pavlovna, you cannot get rid of me so easily. I foresaw this contingency, and took my precautions. The note which I burned was written of his own accord. And here is one which he wrote because I asked him to. This I can leave with you, because it is not an important document. Here it is.”
Rakhmétoff banded the note to Véra Pavlovna.
July 11, 2 o’clock in the morning.
My dear Vérotchka:
Listen to all that Rakhmétoff has to say to you. I do not know what he intends to say to you, I have not charged him to say anything to you, and he has not made the slightest allusion to what he intends to say. But I know that he never says anything unnecessary. Yours,
God knows how many times Véra Pavlovna kissed this note.
“Why did you not give it to me sooner? Perhaps you have something else from him.”
“No, I have nothing more, because nothing more was necessary. Why did I not give it to you? There was no reason for giving it to you until it became necessary.”
“But to give me the pleasure of receiving a few lines from him after our separation.”
“If that is all, that is not so important,” and he smiled.
“Ah, Rakhmétoff, you will put me in a rage!”
“So this note is the cause of a new quarrel between us?” said he, smiling again: “if that is the case, I will take it away from you and burn it; you know well what they say of such people as we are,— that to them nothing is sacred. Hence we are capable of all sorts of violence and rascality. May I continue?”
They both became calm,— she, thanks to the note, he, because he remained silent while she kissed the note.
“Yes, I must listen to you.”
“He did not notice what he should have noticed,” began Rakhmétoff calmly: “that has produced had results. Though we cannot call it a crime in him, neither can we excuse it. Suppose that he did not know that the rupture was inevitable; still, given your character and his own, he should nevertheless have prepared you at all events against anything like it, just as one would against any accident which is not to be desired and which there is no reason to expect, but which is to be provided for: for one cannot answer for the future and the changes that it may bring. With this axiom — that we are exposed to all sorts of accidents — he was familiar, we may be sure. Why did he leave you in ignorance to such an extent that, when the present circumstances arose, you were not at all prepared for them? His lack of foresight came from negligence, injurious to you, but in itself an indifferent thing, neither good nor bad; but, in failing to prepare you against any contingency, he acted from an absolutely bad motive. To be sure, he had no data to act upon, but it is precisely in those matters where one acts without data that nature best manifests itself. It would have been contrary to his interests to prepare you, for thereby your resistance to the feeling not in harmony with his interests would have been weakened. Your feeling proved so strong that your resistance could not overcome it; but it was not at all unlikely that his feeling would manifest itself with less force. If it had been inspired by a man less exceptionally worthy, it would have been weaker. Feelings against which it is useless to struggle are an exception. There are many more chances that this feeling will manifest itself in such a way that it may be stifled, if the power of resistance is not wholly destroyed. It was precisely in view of these, the most probable chances, that he did not wish to lessen your power of resistance. Those were his motives for leaving you unprepared and subjecting you to so much suffering. What do you say to this?”
“It is not true, Rakhmétoff. He did not hide his ways of thinking from me. His convictions were as well known to me as to you.”
“To hide them would have been difficult. To oppose in your presence convictions corresponding to his own and to pretend for such a purpose to think otherwise than he did would have been simply dishonesty. You would never have loved such a man. Have I pronounced him bad? He is very good; I could say nothing else; I will praise him as highly as you like. I only say this: at the time of your rupture his conduct was very good, but before that his conduct towards you was bad. Why did you distress yourself? he said (was it worth while to say so, it being clear without it?) that it was because you did not wish to grieve him. Why was this thought that you could thereby greatly grieve him able to find a place in your mind? It should not have found a place there. What grief? It is stupid. Jealousy?”
“You do not admit jealousy, Rakhmétoff?”
“A man with a developed mind should not have it. It is a distorted feeling, a false feeling, an abominable feeling; it is a phenomenon of our existing order of things, based upon the same idea that prevents me from permitting any one to wear my liner, or smoke my pipe: it is a result of the fashion of considering one’s companion as an object that one has appropriated.”
“But, Rakhmétoff, not to admit jealousy leads to horrible consequences.”
“To those who are jealous they are horrible, but to those who are not there is not only nothing horrible about them, but nothing even of importance.”
“You preach utter immorality, Rakhmétoff!”
“Does it seem so to you after living with him for four years? That is precisely where he has done wrong. How many times a day do you dine? Only once. Would any one find fault with you if you dined twice? Probably not. Why do you not do so? Do you fear that you may grieve some one? Probably because you do not feel the necessity of it. Yet dinner is a very agreeable thing. But the mind and (more important still) the stomach say that one dinner is agreeable and that a second would be disagreeable. But if the fancy seized you or you had an unhealthy desire to dine twice, would you be prevented by the fear of grieving some one? No, if any one felt grieved or prohibited you, you would hide and eat your food in bad condition, you would soil your hands in taking it hastily, you would soil your clothes by hiding bits in your pockets, and that would be all. The question here is not one of morality or immorality, but only this: is smuggling a good thing? Who is restrained by the idea that jealousy is a feeling worthy of esteem and respect? Who says to himself: “Ah! if I do this, I shall cause “him grief”? Who is tormented by these useless struggles? Few people, the best, just those whose nature would not lead them into immorality. The mass are not restrained by these stupidities; they only resort to further strategy. They fill their lives with deceit and become really bad. That is all. Are you not well aware of this?”
“Where, then, do you find the moral utility of jealousy?”
“Why, we have always talked in this vein ourselves.”
“Not exactly in this vein, probably, or perhaps you talked so without believing your own words, not believing them because on this as on other questions you heard continually the opposite views. If that was not the case, why did you torment yourself? Why all this confusion about such trivial matters? What an embarrassment to all three of you, and especially to you, Véra Pavlovna! Whereas you might all three live as in the past, as you lived a year ago, or take apartments together, or arrange your life in any other way, according to your choice, but without any upturning, and all three take tea or go to the opera together as in the past. Why these anxieties! Why these catastrophes? “Always because, owing to his wrong policy of keeping you in ignorance on this matter, he has thus caused you much useless sorrow.”
“No, Rakhmétoff, you say horrible things.”
“‘Horrible things’ again! Groundless anxieties and needless catastrophes are the things that seem horrible to me.”
“Then, in your eyes, our whole story is only a stupid melodrama?”
“Yes, an utterly useless melodrama coupled with a dramatist no less useless. And instead of a simple and peaceful conversation there has been a harrowing melodrama; the guilty party is Dmitry Serguéitch. His honest conduct at the last hardly suffices to cancel his original fault. Yes, he is very guilty. But, then, he has paid dearly enough for it. Take another glass of sherry and go to bed. I have accomplished the object of my visit; it is already three o’clock, and, if not waked, you will sleep a long time. Now, I told Macha not to call you till half past ten, so that tomorrow you will hardly have time to take breakfast, but will have to hurry to the depot; even though you should not have time to pack all your things, you will come back soon, or else they will be sent to you. Do you wish Alexander Matvéitch to go directly after you, or do you prefer to come back yourself? But it would be painful for you to be in Macha’s presence, for she must not notice that you are entirely calm. She will not notice thins during half an hour of hurried preparations. With Madame Mertzaloff it is another thing. I will go to her tomorrow morning, and tell her not to come because you went to bed late and must not be waked; that she must go directly to the depot instead.”
“How attentive you are to me!” said Véra Pavlovna.
“This attention, at least, you need not attribute to him; it comes from me.
Except that I rebuke him for the past (to his face I said much more) on account of his responsibility for this useless anxiety, I find that, as soon as you actually began to suffer, he acted very commendably.”
XXXI. An Interview with Reader with the Penetrating Eye, and His Expulsion.
Tell me, then, reader with the penetrating eye, why I have shown you Rakhmétoff, who has just gone away to appear no more in my story. I have already told you that he would take no part in the action.
“It is not true,” interrupts the reader with the penetrating eye. “Rakhmétoff is a personage, for he brought the note, which” . . . .
Why, how weak you are, my good sir, in the aesthetic discussions of which you are so fond! In that case Macha too is, in your eyes, a personage? She also, at the beginning of the story, brought a letter, which horrified Véra Pavlovna. And perhaps Rachel is a personage? For it was she who bought Véra Pavlovna’s things, without which the latter could not have gone away. And Professor N. is a personage, because he recommended Véra Pavlovna to Madame B. as a governess, without which the scene of the return from the Boulevard Konno-Gvardeisky would not have occurred. Perhaps the Boulevard Konno-Gvardeisky is also a personage? For without this boulevard the scene of the rendezvous and the return would not have occurred either. And the Rue Gorokhovaïa must be the most essential personage, because without it the houses there situated would not have existed, including the Storechnikoff house, and as a consequence there would have been no steward of this house and no steward’s daughter, and then there would would have been no story at all.
Admitting with you that the Boulevard Konno-Gvardeisky and Macha, Rachel and the Rue Gorokhovaïa are personages, why is it that only five words or even less are said of each of them? It is because their action is worth no more. On the other hand, how many pages are devoted to Rakhmétoff?
“Ah! now I know,” says the reader with the penetrating eye. “Rakhmétoff appeared to pronounce judgment on Véra Pavlovna and Lopoukhoff; he was needed for the conversation with Véra Pavlovna.”
Your weakness is really deplorable, my worthy friend. You construe the matter in just the wrong way. Was it necessary to bring a man in simply that he might pronounce his opinion of the other personages? Your great artists do it, perhaps. As for me, though a feeble writer, I understand the conditions of art a little better than that. No, my good sir, Rakhmétoff was not at all necessary for that. How many times has Véra Pavlovna herself, how many times have Lopoukhoff and Kirsanoff themselves, expressed their own opinion concerning their own actions and relations! They are intelligent enough to judge what is good and what is bad: they need no prompter for that. Do you believe that Véra Pavlovna herself, recalling at her leisure a few days later the tumult just passed through, would not have blamed herself for having forgotten the shop in the same way that Rakhmétoff blamed her? Do you believe that Lopoukhoff himself did not think of his relations with Véra Pavlovna quite as Rakhmétoff spoke of them to Véra Pavlovna? Honest people think of themselves all the evil that can be said of them, and that is the reason, my good sir, why they are honest people; do you not know it? How weak you are when it comes to analyzing the thoughts of honest people! I will say more: did you not think that Rakhmétoff in his conversation with Véra Pavlovna acted independently of Lopoukhoff? Well, he was only Lopoukhoff’s agent; he understood it so himself, and Véra Pavlovna saw it a day or two later; and she would have seen it as soon as Rakhmétoff opened his mouth, if she had not been so much agitated. So that is how things happened as they did; is it possible that you did not understand even this much? Certainly Lopoukhoff told the truth in his second note; he had said nothing to Rakhmétoff and the latter had said nothing to him about the conversation which was to take place; but Lopoukhoff was acquainted with Rakhmétoff and knew what the latter thought of such or such things and what he would say under such or such circumstances. Honest people understand each other without explaining themselves. Lopoukhoff could have written in advance, almost word for word, all that Rakhmétoff would say to Véra Pavlovna, and that is exactly why he asked Rakhmétoff to be his agent. Must I instruct you further in psychology? Lopoukhoff knew perfectly well that all he thought about himself, Rakhmétoff, Mertzaloff and his wife, and the officer who had wrestled with him on the islands thought also, and that Véra Pavlovna was sure to think so within a short time even though no one should say it to her. She would see it as soon as the first flush of gratitude passed: therefore, calculated Lopoukhoff, I really lose nothing by sending Rakhmétoff to her, although he will rebuke me, for she would reach the same opinion herself; on the contrary, I gain in her esteem: she will see that I foresaw the substance of the conversation, and that I arranged it, and she will think: “How noble he is! He knew that during these first days of agitation my exalted gratitude would dominate everything, and he took care to plant in my mind as early as possible thoughts which would lessen this burden. Although I am angry with Rakhmetoff for accusing him, I see that really Rakhmétoff was right. In a week I should have seer: it myself, but then it would not have been of any importance to me, and I should have had to recover from my agitation without it, whereas by hearing these thoughts the same day I have escaped a painful emotion which otherwise would have lasted a whole week. At that time these thoughts were very useful to me; yes, he has a very noble heart.”
That was the plan which Lopoukhoff devised, and Rakhmétoff was only his agent. You see, my good reader with the penetrating eye. what sly dogs honest people are and how their egoism works; their egoism is different from yours, because they do not find their pleasure in the same direction that you do. They find their greatest pleasure, you see, in having people whom they esteem think well of them, and that is why they trouble themselves to devise all sorts of plans with no less zeal than you show in other matters, But your objects are different, and the plans that you devise are different. You concoct evil plans, injurious to others, while they concoct honest plans, useful to others.
“Why! how dare you say such insulting things to me?” cries the reader with the penetrating eye; “I will bring a complaint against you; I will proclaim everywhere that you are a man of evil disposition.”
Pardon, my good sir, how could I dare to say insulting things to you when I esteem your character as highly as your mind? I simply take the liberty to enlighten you concerning art, which you love so well. In this respect you were in error in thinking that Rakhmétoff appeared to pronounce sentence on Véra Pavlovna and Lopoukhoff. No such thing was necessary. He has said nothing that I might not have given you as thoughts which, without Rakhmétoff’s intervention, would have come to Véra Pavlovna in time.
Now, my good sir, a question: why, then, do I give you Rakhmétoff’s conversation with Véra Pavlovna? Do you understand now that when I give you, not the thoughts of Lopoukhoff and Véra Pavlovna, but Rakhmétoff’s conversation with the latter, I thereby signify the necessity of giving you, not alone the thoughts which constitute the essence of the coversation, but the actual conversation itself?
[To be continued.]
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
One of Our Foundation-Stones.
In the simple statement of facts that follows these introductory words the readers of Liberty can find more food for thought than in anything I can write for them. It is the story of a German laborer who tried to end his life a few weeks ago by jumping from the Brooklyn bridge, but was prevented by the police and taken to the station-house. In all its details, even to the conduct of the priest who was so benevolent as to christen the baby for nothing, but carefully refrained from giving the family bread, it illustrates most vividly the cruelty and recklessness of modern civilization and its institutions. For this industrious workman is one of society’s foundation-stones. See how they crumble and crack under the oppressions of capital! And yet it is charged that the Anarchists are “undermining the social structure.” Not so. It is being undermined, and rapidly, but the Anarchists are not doing the work. The tyrants, the plutocrats, and the priests are doing it for them. The Anarchists are simply crying: “Stand from under!” and announcing the principles of a more lasting social architecture.
I find this article in the “New York Sun”:
At the police station in Brooklyn the prisoner cried and showed that he could not speak English. In German he said his name was Thomas Helriegel, that he was 36 years old, and that he lived at 557 West Forty-second street. A little account book, such as butchers give to their customers, contained the rest. The tale was at. the same time cynical and despondent, and was written in German in a fine hand. It ran:
It is not frivolity that drives me to take this step. Twelve weeks out of work, two small children, and nothing more to eat. I am the father of a family; our clothes and furniture are all gone. I have looked for work and have not found it. Finally we have been turned out into the street. Everything is according to law. I don’t want to steal, and can’t beg. Such is the world, and it belongs to us, and we are in it, and can starve.
The little room in which Helriegel’s family was found last night was not quite as bad a place to live in as the East river, but almost. The floor was bare, the bed was small, with a very thin mattress, and the baby on the bed was painfully thin. The baby was an exceptional one, very light, very wizen, and with eyes that were full of dissatisfaction with the world which it had so lately struck. If it had known of the luxury in which the effete babies of Fifth avenue roll, it would doubtless have uttered communistic howls; but, instead, it pulled wantonly at the feeble tuft of hair on its crown, crowed politely at the presence of a stranger, and resumed its contemplation.
The baby’s mother, a poor, careworn creature, querulous from hardship and want, was frying fish, cutting up bread, and heaping thanks on the head of a sturdy young German workman who had brought the things in. When the father’s attempted suicide was related, everybody cried except the young workman, who did his best to soothe the family, and succeeded just as the fish was done. Then the baby showed its mettle on a big fish bone, and while its mother and little brother ate the rest, the man who brought the food told just what had made Helriegel do what he did.
Helriegel was a first-class machinist, he said, and for two years worked at making chandeliers in the shop of Mitchell, Vance & Co. The young man had worked with Helriegel during the whole time. In last July Helriegel lost his job through a quarrel with his foreman, and, as the young man insisted, through no fault of his own. For a time, he succeeded in getting odd jobs here and there, and was able to support his children with the help of his wife, who worked in a candy factory. But three months ago he was unable to find anything more to do, and at the same time his wife was prevented from going to work by the birth of her child. Every day during that time he bad been tramping around in search of work, but without finding any. Lack of food weakened his wife until she was unable to nurse the baby, and it was reduced to a precarious diet of condensed milk, for which it depended on the charity of neighbors and an occasional half dollar earned by its father in carrying in coal for those who would employ him. Finally, three weeks ago, the rent had run two months in arrears, and the agent said they would have to move, although their case was a very hard one. There was no place but the sidewalk for them to move to; so Helriegel brought around a woman who carted away all his furniture, including a can half full of kerosene oil, and gave him twelve dollars for what had cost about sixty dollars. For a week the family lived in the empty rooms, and when they were turned out, Mrs. Arras, a widow almost as poor as themselves, who had lived on the floor below, took them in to save them from going into the street. She loaned them a bed, two chairs, and a stove, and the family had lived in her room ever since, supported by the charity of Mrs. Arras and of Helriegel’s fellow-workman. Some days they had something to eat, and some days they did not. The baby was the only member of the family who enjoyed any luxury during the three months of suffering, his mother, who is a Catholic, applied to a priest for relief, and the priest, finding that the baby had not been christened, christened it for nothing. But, unfortunately, it had little else to strengthen it for days at a time. Yesterday plain Croton water took the place of condensed milk, and, unless something happened, there was little prospect of any thing richer in the bill of fare. Something did happen, though, because when the young workman, who wouldn’t have his name mentioned, heard about the water, he went out and bought condensed milk at once.
He brought *** enough for three effete babies, but Helriegel’s baby wasn’t daunted. It glued its lips to a long rubber tube, and when last seen was engaged in a desperate struggle to draw up the bottom of the bottle, utterly regardless of its rapidly rising apron.
What will society do for this laborer now that it has stopped him from jumping off the Brooklyn bridge? Provide his family with bread? No. Provide him with work? Yes. With work for a term of years, without pay, at Sing Sing. It will deprive him of his liberty to punish him for attempting to deprive himself of his life. It will destroy a large portion of his existence because he wanted to destroy the whole of it.
Time to Think.
Cyrus W. Field says: “The present is the time for men with money to stop and think. It is the hour for the right man to achieve greatness. Let some explorer find a fountain springing in the wide desert of speculation; let him discover some project that gives any fair certainty of profit, and there are millions of idle money at his command. It is impossible today to safely invest money and receive interest in return of over five per cent. The millionaire of today has a smaller income than the man with two hundred and fifty thousand dollars enjoyed ten years ago.”
Yes, it is time for men with money to stop and think, and nothing quicker sets the moneyed man to thinking than the impossibility of wringing from the hand of labor over five per cent. But Cyrus Field’s way of thinking will do no good to anybody. The greatness to be achieved by devising some new plan of robbery is not the kind of greatness of which the world is in need now. Too many men have devoted their energies and talents to discovering and inventing projects of profit. When it becomes impossible to invest money and receive any interest at all, when the desert of speculation becomes too arid to harbor fountains which flow only for idlers, then men with money may begin to really think. It is well that the millionaire’s income diminishes, because the incomes of millionaires are but the proceeds of robbery. Every cent of Mr. Field’s income is stolen from the world’s workers, and the less he gets the smaller the theft and the loss to labor.
It is time for all men to stop and think,— and some of them are thinking, not without effect. When the laborer stops work, the factory being closed or wages reduced beyond endurance, his thinking faculties have more time to operate, and he begins to wonder if some better and honester condition of things is devisable or possible on this earth. Surely, he thinks, no worse could be brought about, were this to be overturned and abolished utterly; and he waxes indignant, and declares that those who have wronged him shall suffer, that the robbers shall give up their plunder, that he might as well die fighting as peaceably starve to death. Because the idlers, the men who seek greatness in the line of Cyrus Field’s activity, never have given him time to do his thinking rightly, he is unable to reason without passion to right conclusions. When he reaches the point where the injustice of the relations between himself and society become apparent, he ceases to think and begins to act. Then we have tumult, violence, destruction of property and proprietors, French Revolution, or other hell-upon-earth.
Symptoms of another convulsion of the social system are not wanting. Repression by government only increases the danger; it is piling weights on the safety-valve. The force is accumulating and one day will surely break forth, unless men stop and think,— and do their thinking in some way quite other than Cyrus Field’s way.
Rev. Heber Newton.
Rev. Heber Newton before the Free Religious Association presented a striking and a pleasing figure. Mr. Newton is a clergyman grasping many excellent heresies, while yet maintaining a position in the Protestant Episcopal Church. He comes forth from the traditions and influences of his Christian “study,” and finds himself quite at home on a this world’s platform, discussing with zeal the interests of the life that now is. Few, if any, of the Free Religionists have shown so practical a turn of mind, so courageous a handling of the great industrial problem, as Mr. Newton’s essay presents. Of what avail is it to reduce religion to ethics, if your ethics have no greater virility than the old religion? Orthodox Religion has had its home for the most part in a next world; Free Religion has been thus far very much in the air,— a thin speculation of God or no God. Culture has not given it breadth or freedom, but rather circumscribed and paralyzed it. Still, from time to time, the association furnishes a platform whereon brave men stand and speak encouraging, reassuring words. Mr. Newton naturally views the question of Socialism from a religious standpoint. He asks himself what is required of religion. Religion, he says, is the recognition of the bonds of a Divine Order, and the obedience thereto. But he does not find that Divine Order in our existing human system. It is to be sought in the ideal of human brotherhood and in the revelation of the Golden Rule. To Affirm this with his most solemn sanctions, to persuade men really to believe it, and to induce men to act upon it,— this is the mission of religion today!
But Mr. Newton’s observations lead him to discover, and his honesty to confess, that Socialism has never been without this religious aspect.
In seriously setting itself to correct the disorders of the earth, Socialism affirms its faith in the reality of the true order, and in the possibility of realizing it. He who struggles deliberately against a wrong declares therein his conviction that it can be righted; he who tries to transform a chaos confesses that he believes in a cosmos. If it be impossible to establish an order upon earth, why should one essay the thankless task of grappling with the disorders of earth? However little consciousness of the fact there may be in the breasts of Socialists, their fundamental conviction — a conviction which is unquestioningly held, which is expressed with childlike simplicity of confidence, a faith which literally removes mountains — is none other than the ancient belief in God. They have caught sight of the ideal social order. Its beauty has inflamed their souls.
In a rapid review of the successive socialistic movements and their leaders he discovers that they have all manifested a “passionate aspiration which takes on the tones as of a new inspiration.” And now “the greatest economic reconstruction and the most important social uplifting which the world has yet experienced are preparing. Our institutions will have to adjust themselves to the change.”
We will not quarrel with Mr. Newton about the necessity of insisting upon God, since he is so ready to insist upon humanity, to call upon, persuade, human beings to dwell together in good will and peace. The survival of the God-idea he brings from his Church creed is tolerably harmless. Nor do we take exception to his religion, so defined. And we leave to others the opportunity to contrast the religion of the Socialist who had “done with God” and the religion of the Church which has had so little to do with any one else. Enough that he now declares for that “enthusiasm of humanity enkindled in the soul as the very love of God,”
We have said this much in earnest commendation of the new departure which Mr. Newton desires religion to take. It remains for us to call his attention to the fact that in his investigation of the subject he has failed to acquaint himself with the true character of the Socialism of the Anarchist. He betrays a familiarity with Mr. George and his book, and has undoubtly done well in availing himself of whatever new light and inspiration he could obtain in that quarter. But it will not do for him to rely upon Mr. George for his Anarchistic ideas. Mr. George has nowhere shown that he has at all comprehended the individualistic movement. And Mr. Newton will find him but a blind guide. Some day Mr. Newton will experience the surprise — and the pleasure, we trust — of discovering that the so-called Anarchists have not only a passionate enthusiasm for an ideal social order, but an intelligent conception of what that order is to be. “Socialism is not Anarchism,” he exclaims; “it does not propose simply to overturn the existing order and let civilization lapse back again into chaos.” We feel sure that Mr. Newton has his information at second hand, or he would not display the lack of courage and candor which such a statement implies. If he will read Anarchistic publications, he will find that a social science, a social order,— the harmony of individuals dwelling together developing human nature to its best,— is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of the Anarchistic dream. Not Socialism? The Anarchist believes he has dwelt in the Mount and seen the perfection of Socialism!
It may surprise Mr. Newton still more to find that the Anarchist is the only Socialist who is not amenable to the “folly of tramdating an ideal into a law, ethical principles into an economic scheme.” Precisely here the Anarchist lies open to the misunderstanding of the ignorant. Because he refuses politics, the State, will not go into caucus to “translate his ideal into a law,” it is supposed he would upset all things and “let civilization lapse hack into chaos.” But Mr. Newton should never repeat such a charge. For with him the Anarchist says: “Civilization must ripen gradually into the sweetness of a brotherhood. We cannot force Nature’s seasons. Society is a growth, and only through patient evolution can an order be worked out in which truly free people shall lift to the throne of Earth the holy form of Justice.”
Liberal Artful Dodgers.
Despotism has its beginning in theology. The theological State is a machine constructed to make capital out of those religious instincts which are integral in the constitution of man.
But this machine, when once saddled upon men, calls for an extended system of subsidiary machinery, whereby theological rulers may be enabled to enforce their commands and secure assent. This machinery is found in the political State. Theology first entraps the victim, pretending to have regard only for his spiritual welfare. Its ultimate designs are, however, upon his earnings and substance. Therefore, by allying itself with the “civil arm,” it finds a confederate fitted to take care of the material spoliation of the masses. This cooperating member it sanctifies with the mantle of divinity, while its twin ally reciprocates by defending it.
These two agents of despotism — Theology and Politics — are born in one womb. The origin and nature of one are the origin and nature of the other. The argument which condemns the one condemns the other. The defence of one is the logical defence of the other.
When the “Index,” the “Investigator,” and the “Truth Seeker” defend the existing State, they defend the existing Theology. I propose to hold Mr. Underwood’s dainty Free Religious nose down to this fact from time to time, until he either confesses it or skulks away as a moral coward. I honestly believe that he, and McDonald, and Leo the Terrible of Paine Hall, are painfully conscious of the absurd and illogical position they occupy, and the time is not far off when they will either he forced to show their hands or stand convicted of the same dishonesty and hypocrisy of which they accuse the pulpits.
Yet these theological Anarchists, when called upon to be honest and logical, feign an almost, immaculate innocence, and supplement it by arrogant impertinence. They pretend that they have elaborately refuted the arguments of the political Anarchists, and met with no reply. Moreover, they say that they have been constantly looking for an intelligent explanation of what Anarchism means, but can get nothing out of Liberty. They represent that they are ready and willing to be convinced, but fail to be accommodated.
Well, then, if these gifted truth-seekers and investigators can find nothing in Liberty or the Anarchistic literature which it advertises, I think I can furnish them with a home-made prescription that will tone them up and open their eyes. I ask them simply to go over the arguments by which they establish their position as theological Anarchists. They well know, for instance, the argument by which they prove the existing orthodox God to be a usurper, who has no right to exist. Let them simply apply this same argument on the political side, and the political king goes under with the divine one. To refuse to apply this argument on the political side is next to blank dishonesty. Apply it, and off goes the king’s head.
But the theological Anarchist goes farther. He avers that the Individual, and he alone, is the rightful keeper of his own spiritual welfare, and that therefore all ecclesiastical agents, whether divinely called, or elected by majorities, are usurpers. He therefore naturally protests against being forced to pay taxes to support these agents and their machinery. When told that these agents are legally elected by a majority, under a constitution, he replies that this fact only aggravates the assault upon individual right. He insists that no Individual can be theologically governed without his consent, except to rob and enslave him.
Now, Mr. Underwood and the rest, have you the hardihood to maintain that this argument does not hold just as good in social and material concerns as in spiritual? If so, then the proof of the faith that is in you devolves upon yourselves, not us. The grounds by which you prove that the leading ecclesiastic of America is a usurper whom you are obliged to help support are exactly the same grounds by which I prove that President Cleveland is a usurper, whom I want not, but am obliged to help support. If my argument against President Cleveland is not good, then your argument against the leading Protestant Episcopal bishop of the United States, elected by a majority under purely republican forms, is also not good. You cannot escape this position without belying the plainest laws of common sense.
From causes which I have not space to explain here, the world is far along in its disgust with theological despotism. Hence the theological Anarchist is on comparatively safe and respectable ground. It costs Mr. Underwood nothing to be a theological Anarchist; in fact, he gets a good salary out of it. But when the political Anarchist takes up Mr. Underwood’s arguments and goes for the State, he gets into dangerous proximity with the corns of the wealthy landlords, usurers, and profit-robbers who read the “Index,” although he has committed no greater offence than to apply Mr. Underwood’s arguments to the pockets as well as to the souls of men. But there’s the rub that makes Mr. Underwood tremble when he is asked to be consistent; for a sifting of this whole business of social robbery reveals but one efficient cause,— the political State. Culture relishes the arguments by which the souls of men are liberated, but, when the application of these arguments is so generalized as to endanger its grip upon the pockets of men, it calls a halt, and the salaried theological Anarchist inquires innocently what these other fellows are driving at.
They know well enough what we are driving at. And they know, too, that they are playing a double game. If costs something to stand out as a thoroughbred Anarchist, but it ultimately costs more to be a skulking time-server. When political Anarchism becomes as safe and popular as theological, there will be no especial merit in being a man. But now, in the martyrdom stage of the fight, is the time to test true souls and to demonstrate whether vaunted liberalism is integral and genuine in the would-be reformer, or is movable capital, invested in a safe and paying trade.
Let Us Reason Together.
Noticing the sensible remarks of N. G. W. in Liberty of May 23, I would say to that gentleman that the casual correlation of policy between Anarchism and Catholicism vs. a given State power in no wise blinds us to the mortal enmity which must exist between Anarchists and all clerical authority or the assumption of it. Nor should there he aught but cordial good will between friends of Liberty combating either State or Church.
Next, as regards the policy of methods, I suggest that we should aim at the most vulnerable organ common to these two forms of authority. I need not say that this organ is the purse. The key to theology is financial. First Jehovah, then Jesus, have been impressed by the church, as its tax collectors and now it is using secular government for the same purpose. Doctrines are for churches as superficial as the scales on the hack of an alligator. It rather tickles the beast to have you pepper him with pistol halls. To invent or promulgate doctrines is a clerical pastime, and to be seriously attacked about them is rather a compliment than otherwise from outsiders. For the fold of the faithful, as faith, like memory, increases by exercise, the more absurd, the better. Credo quia absurdum, says the honest Catholic, which pairs with the adage that God loves a good sinner. The Church asks no better than that we should spend our ammunition on its stalking horses of doctrine. This blows up the zeal of the faithful and helps the collections. But the State, by its Sabbath observance laws, its school fund contribution, and its exemption of Church property from taxation, is, even in the United States, the mainstay of the Church. But for the support of the State, the Church in France would succumb to education and public amusements. A poor Church can only besot the poor, the ignorant, the uninfluential. To all classes of society it is necessary to offer, through the fine arts, and especially through their dramatic combination in the opera and ballet, absorbent substitutions more pleasurable than churches can afford, and which must he completed by all sorts of active games and facilities for rural rambles, as in Paris. It is the State, it is Government, that prevents this fair and free competition. And Government is not only tax collector for the Church, in different ways; it is also, by political superstition and tribute-levying, a Church itself. It is, besides, the tax collector of Capitalist privileges, in the several forms of banking, of protective tariffs, and the military support of monopolist oppressions in exploiting laborers. See now the three-headed hydra of Authority,— the State, the Church, and Capitalism. Either and each of these three forms of one Power can reproduce the other two, and will almost certainly do it. The only practical question, then, for Liberty is how to cripple them all most effectively. The method we propose is a special operation on the currency, by Labor and Produce Exchange Banks. Look into that; it is worth your while. It reclaims to the People, to Labor, the faculty of money making, and renders them so much less tributary to the State and to cumulative capital; so much freer to amuse themselves, to instruct themselves, and to acquire such a property in this world as is the best safeguard against spectral illusions of Heaven and Hell.
Let me say to the few rich and capable philanthropists, to those whom the love of Liberty for all good purposes has so polarized that they can also hate well and wisely, that the actual combination of powers and circumstances has realized for them the wish of an emperor, that all his enemies had one head. This head is money. Its control is the omnipotence of the State; for its issue, an arbitrary and irresponsible act of authority, is equivalent to all taxation. By a stroke of the pen, by a fiat, it can, without provoking opposition, enslave millions, and transfer them as serfs to its favorites, the bankers and the railroad kings. And to cut off this head, how simple! Only for producers to exchange with each other, either directly, or through the mediation of their Bank: demonetizing at once gold, silver, and Government bank-notes. The bill of exchange is the certificate of goods or labor payable at sight.
While we signalize to the attention of iconoclasts this pivotal measure in finance, we would gladly group under it many special agencies for weeding out church influence. Observing that this is most active through the young lady members of congregations and organized at their sociables, church dressings, and fairs, in which young gentlemen cooperate, it is indicated that iconoclasts should counter-organize in a similar manner, which, with equal resources, they can do more effectively, because the narrow-mindedness of clergymen forbids dancing and other social attractions. Arm in arm with sociability, comes charity. As a lever of social influence, it is a discipline of character and behavior, even more important for the class exercising it than for that which is its subject.
All along the line, we must keep in view the principle, absorbent substitution. Thus, in counteracting the preaching of churches, we need lectures illustrated with experiments in the physical sciences and useful arts. Young men in easy circumstances should educate themselves as anticlerical missionaries in the natural sciences, for Science alone is competent to the elimination of theology.
Then and Now.
XVIII. Marriage and Divorce.
Boston, July 4, 2085.
My Dear Louise:
For some strange reason until a few days ago I did not think that, because all laws are abolished, those regulating marriage and divorce must also have passed away. I had noticed that men and women lived together as man and wile and reared their children in families; that home life was much the same to all outward: appearance as in my good old Boston; and there was every evidence of affection and devotion on the part of husband, wife, and children. I could not believe that this could be without law, either of the State or Church. I, of course, at once went to my never-failing source of information, Mr. De Demain.
“I had intended,” said he, “to explain this matter to you some time ago, but I thought, it would be better for you to live among us for a while and see for yourself that our social life is pure and happy. You have now been with us for several months, and have, I believe, had every opportunity to see what of evil there may be in our social system. You have been into many homes of the people, and have seen little but harmony and happiness. Am I not right?”
I assured him that he was, but I desired to know how man and woman can live happily as man and wife without the sanction and aid of the law.
“Affection, I believe,” said Mr. De Demain, “was the chief reason for marriage in your time, as if is today. People did not marry because there were marriage laws, and people did not love because there were marriage laws. Love was the binding force, and not law. Law could not cause love, and law could not make an unhappy marriage a happy one. Love caused a desire in men and women to live together as man and wife, to beget and rear children and have a happy home life. Marriage laws never helped to make the lives of husbands, wives, and children more happy. We realize this, and so have no such laws.”
“I suppose, then, that I may take it for granted that your social system allows a man to have as many wives as he likes, and a woman to have as many husbands, either at different times or at one time,— in fact, that the relations between man and woman are on a free love base.” I think my voice, as I said this, must have given evidence of my disgust.
“As every individual is a law unto himself, so long as he does not interfere with the natural rights of other individuals, you can easily see that men and women have the privilege to follow their individual inclinations in this matter. I must once more beg of you not to consider me personal if I allude to your time and its customs in a somewhat uncomplimentary manner. Your marriage laws came down to you from the time when mankind was in a condition of barbarism. Women were looked upon as property,— valuable property, in fact. It was observed that there were not, at any one time, many more than enough to go round; so each man was granted upon his request, the privilege to own one woman who was not at the time owned by some other man. We fancy that we have advanced far enough to see that men and women are equally human, and that they have equal rights in nature’s bounties or such portion as they can gather through labor. We recognize absolute freedom of love and all that it means. You need not be shocked in the least. I can assure you that society is much purer today, even from your standpoint, than it was two hundred years ago. If a man loves a woman who loves him, they live together happily so long as that love continues, and you know enough of human nature to know that, where there is love of this kind, the man and woman will be satisfied with each other and be true to each other. Where there is no love, there will be no happiness. It was so, was it not, in your time? Men and women mutually agree to live with each other as man and wife so long as they find happiness in such partnership. If love is outlived, if a man and woman living together as man and wife find that they can live together happily no longer, they part. There is no appeal to law. If there be children, some mutual agreement is entered into regard to them. If no agreement can be reached, some third party is appealed to. But such separation are rare, much rarer than they were two hundred years ago, and when they do occure there is no disgusting exposure of petty family quarrels, such as there were in your divorce courts. Little unpleasant incidents were dragged up out of the past and magnified into grievous offences. It was worth — if I am correctly informed — the reputation of any man or any woman to appear, sometimes even as a witness, before a divorce court.”
“Do I understand that there is but one custom in regard to marriage? Is it true that one man and one woman always are satisfied to love and be loved by but one at a time? Is there no plurality of husbands or of wives?”
“As I said, human nature follows its own inclinations, and there is no cast-iron custom that places any restraint upon any individual. There are many customs in regard to marriage in vogue, and none are frowned upon, provided the rights of others are not interfered with.
“To sum the whole matter up in a few words, we have marriage without marriage laws, and divorces — not many — without divorce laws. We allow human instincts to act without restraint or compulsion, and the result is, I can assure you, much more satisfactory to humanity than was the system under which you lived.”
I take his word for it that this is so, for I have every reason to believe that he is a correctly-informed and honest man. It nevertheless seems strange to me that men and women can live pure and happy lives without laws to govern marriage and divorce.
Victor Hugo and His Death.
Below I group some excerpts from French journals of recent date, called faith by the sickness, death, and burial of the man whom France, and in less degree the entire civilized world, worships as a demigod. I do this, not only because these matters will naturally interest the readers of Liberty, but in homage to the noble spirit of the honored dead, a spirit which found response in the unparalleled funeral that the people gave him, eight hundred thousand of them following in formal procession the pauper hearse that bore his remains from the Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon and a million more lining the sidewalks by the way. The spirit of the man and the grandeur and beauty of the literary expression which he gave it,— these in Victor Hugo are what I bow before. For he was no original philosopher, no profound thinker; he gave to the world no great idea, no revolutionizing thought. His vision never possessed that discriminating power which clearly distinguishes between liberty and tyranny; hence he often confounded the two, with results in his life that made it a grievous disappointment to true radicals. His radicalism was of the purely emotional sort, and never knew the saving guidance of a rational philosophy. But wherever he supposed he recognized liberty or tyranny, he blazed forth for the one and against, the other in a fierce and purifying fire which will rekindle itself in other men’s hearts as long as time shall last. And he was able to do this the more effectively because he was a literary giant. Here his mastership is undisputed, indisputable. In all brunches of literature he stood high, in some he was facile princeps. This superb power he wielded faithfully throughout a long life in the service of the Spirit of Progress, giving it, not much light unfortunately, but an impulse such as it has received from no other personal source. For this, Liberty, joining in the fulsome adulation of the unthinking no more than in the cruel vituperation of the unfeeling, gives him the honor that is his due.
Hugo’s escape from the priests.
A few days before Hugo’s death the archbishop of Paris sent the following letter to Madame Lockroy, the poet’s step-daughter:
Archbishopric of Paris.
Paris, May 21, 1885.
I share most keenly the sufferings of M. Victor Hugo and the alarm of his family. I have prayed earnestly for the illustrious sick at the Holy Sacrament. If he should desire to see a minister of our holy religion, although I am still weak myself, just recovering from a sickness much resembling his own, I should deem it a very agreeable duty to carry to him the aid and consolation which one so sorely needs in these cruel ordeals.
Please accept, Madame, the homage of my most respectful and devoted feelings.
-i- J. Hipp., Cardinal Guiber,
Archbishop of Paris.
M. Edouard Lockroy immediately answered:
Paris. May 21, 1885.
To the Archbishop of Paris:
Madame Lockroy, who cannot leave the bedside of her step-father, begs me to thank you for the sentiments which you are kind enough to expres in a way at once so eloquent and so benevolent.
As for M. Victor Hugo, he has declared within a few days but he did not desire the presence during his sickness of any *** of any faith. We should fail in all our duties if we will not respect his wishes.
Please accept, I beg you, Mr. Archbishop of Paris, the expression of my most respectful sentiments.
Upon this correspondence Henri Rochefort commented as follows in “L’Intransigeant”:
The priests, who got Littré, thanks to feminine complicity, are moving actively in the hope of getting Victor Hugo also. Such superb prey they cannot make up their minds to renounce. To secure it they do not deem it excessive to offer the highest episcopal powers. So the archbishop of Paris in person has written to Madame Lockroy to inform her that every morning, in saying his mass, he prays for the cure of the illustrious sick.
One is compelled to believe that Madame Lockroy does not attribute to these prayers the highest efficacy, for she has none the less continued to avail herself of the knowledge of such celebrated physicians as Germain Sée and Vulpian. But the archbishop, putting his real thought into the postscript of his missive, has likewise made it known to the family of Victor Hugo that, if the author of “The Terrible Year,” he who alter the Commune offered an asylum to the proscribed, should decide to call a confessor, he, Guibert, was determined to leave to no other the duty of crying the viaticum to the great man over whose bedside all France is beat.
Remembering the insults under which Louis Veuillot and his friends have tried to crush the exile of 1851, one perhaps would have a right to be astonished at this sudden solicitude about the soul of a sceptic for which they had prepared a very special place in hell. But the clergy’s first thought is of their little selves. The whole Catholic world comprehends the danger that it is in from the long-since signified refusal of Victor Hugo to make his exit through the Church.
To this holy mother this is a really terrible blow, and to avoid it she would make the most humiliating sacrifices. Ah! the man who should succeed in leading M. Guibert to the poet’s bedside would receive a handsome reward, and the bishop who should offer it to him would certainly be the gainer; for if, unfortunately, our illustrious sick should die, his civil burial would take hundreds of thousands of coffins from the holy-water sprinklers that await them.
The free-thought movement began to develop in France with the non-religious obsequies of Félicien David, which caused a scandal and were the occasion of clamorous clerical manifestations. The composer of the “Desert” had not been buried; he had been “earthed”: and the word “earthed” became fashionable. Nevertheless, Hérold, the prefect of police, demanded on his death-bed that his body be taken directly to the cemetery. This example of emancipation was stiff more serious than the other, for Félicien David was only a member of the Institute, while Hérold vas an officeholder. Gambetta completed the series; but it would have been rash to hope for a return to the ***tramontane bosom of a former premier bound by the chain of his famous phrase: “Clericalism is the enemy.”
Victor Hugo’s publicly announced resolution of passing by his parish-church without stopping throws deep dismay into the ranks of the army of devotees. It always expected that this son of a Vendean mother would return sooner or later to the beliefs of his childhood, and it cannot think without fright of the innumerable imitators sure to follow the example of the incomparable writer who has filled the world with his name and all minds with his genius.
In fact, if Victor Hugo should enter Notre Dame, it would be for the clergy what a recapture of the Bastile would have been for Louis XVI. One cannot estimate the souls upon which the priests would again instantaneously lay hands. But he will not enter, and the trade in souls will feel it grievously, first in the influence and then in the cash-box of the dealers.
That is why M. Guibert has been so eager with his proposal to carry his confessional to the chamber of this precious sick man.
They have thanked the archbishop of Paris for his kindness, but have begged him to keep his sacraments for himself.
A Eulogist Who Feared to Eulogize.
Maxime Du Camp, member of the French Academy, holds this year the office of director of that body, and it is his duty to pronounce the eulogy for the Academy upon any fellow-member dying in 1885. As be is chiefly famous (or infamous) for his shameless defence of the massacres committed by the Versailles troops during the Bloody Week under the direction of Thiers and General Galliffet, it would have been a gross outrage for him to have posed as the eulogist of Victor Hugo. Commenting the irony of chance which seemed to have imposed this task upon him, Rochefort wrote:
While the great poet opened his door to the Commune’s refugees, the academician Du Camp tried to open the prisons to them. Fach of Victor Hugo’s acts being a condemnation of Maxime Du Camp, the latter cannot risk the slightest eulogy without seeming to make his meá culpa and to designate himself as a target for cabbage-stalks and hisses, which, in spite of the solemnity of the ceremony, he certainly would not escape.
Victor Hugo having helped the children whom M. Du Camp and his friends made orphans, it would be far too strange to see the living who committed the crimes congratulate the dead having attempted to repair them.
The Academy’s delegat, is mistaken in his corpse; the only grave over which it can ever be allowable for him to speak is that of Galliffet.
Under pressure of the general protest that arose, M. Du Camp informed the Academy that his health would not permit him to perform the duty, and Emile Auger pronounced the eulogy. The motives which influenced Du Camp are thus set forth in “L’Intransigeant”:
Victor Hugo’s family approached Maxime Du Camp to beg him to abandon his intention of speaking. On behalf of the president of the republic General Pittié came to support the request. Finally M. Camescasse, formerly prefect of police, gave the literary spy this salutary warning: “You will not say ten words; you will be interrupted, not by hisses, but by pistol balls.” It was evidently this last remark that caused Galliffet’s co-laborer to reconsider his intuitions.
A Tribute from a Celtic.
Emile Zola, who, as the most conspicuous representative of the modern realistic school of romance, has often been forced to criticise Hugo’s romanticism, wrote the following letter to a member of Hugo’s family;
Some day perhaps you will know, sir, that even regarding Victor Hugo I have claimed the critic’s rights, and that is why, in the terrible sorrow into which you are plunged, I feel bound to tell you that all hearts are broken with your own.
Victor Hugo was my youth; I remember what I owe him. At such a time as this discussion is no longer possible; all hands must unite, all French writers must rise to honor a master and affirm the absolute triumph of literary genius.
Believe, sir, in my deep and sorrowful sympathy.
Among the innumerable reminiscences called up by the newspapers is the following, which exhibits, as well as my poor translation can, the poet’s graceful wit and gallantry:
During the famine caused by the siege of Paris, when the inhabitants were eating bread made of powdered bone and the butchers’ shops were filled with the bodies of horses obtained upon the battle-fields, Victor Hugo invited the beautiful Judith Gautier to dine at his house. She was unable to come, and sent her regrets, which led him to write on a corner of the table the following charming quatrain:
If you had come, O beauty whom all of us admire!
For you I would have spread a feast without compare.
I would have slaughtered Pegasus, and cooked him at the fire,
To place a horse’s wing upon your bill of fare.
A Demoralizing Business.
[Galveston Daily News.]
Is there not something demoralizing in the business of legislation itself? Dees not the trade of politics tend more than any other business to lower a man in the scale of moral rectitude when success crowns his efforts? The law-maker becomes in a measure above law in his power. It has been observed that “success in politics implies and necessitates a resort to ways that are dark and tricks that are mean, and hence it is that, if a man is not corrupt in his morals before entering upon a political career, in most cases he becomes so.” The question is, how can he become successful in that line without descending to the level of others, who succeed by ignoring moral rectitude? The business of law-making is very easily explained to be demoralizing by the simple fact that nearly every law ever passed by a legislature, congress, or parliament is or was an invasion of natural or of human rights. The best laws passed by such bodies have been those that repealed other and more invasive laws. The legislator, then, who is not blinded by fanaticism nor imbued with the spirit of attempted betterment by unlimited dalliance with state communism — and unfortunately all statism is communistic to a certain extent — will seek to preserve his moral rectitude by working for the repeal of despotic laws and opposing the tendency to invasive legislation, hoping that in freedom and individuality education will gently and gradually make way for the growth of manhood and self-reliance, and all the saving social virtues. The legislatures are now viewed by many intelligent men as mere tumefactions upon the industrial body. They too often draw upon the strength and poison the vitality of labor and capital, which would be more healthy if more let alone. Hygienic remedies are indicated as the alternative to the surgeon’s knife. An intelligent and ***ding of the subject from the bottom to the top may save a great deal of moral energy, which otherwise will, it is apprehended, be fruitlessly misdirected.
A Difference Made Plain.
Whoever says Anarchy, says denial of government;
Whoever says denial of government, says affirmation of the people;
Whoever says affirmation of the people, says individual liberty;
Whoever says individual liberty, says the sovereignty of each;
Whoever says the sovereignty of each, says equality;
Whoever says equality, says solidarity;
Whoever says solidarity, says social order.
Therefore, whoever says Anarchy, says social order.
On the Contrary
Whoever says government, says denial of the people;
Whoever says denial of the people, says affirmation of political authority;
Whoever says affirmation of political authority, says individual subordination;
Whoever says individual subordination, says class supremacy;
Whoever says class supremacy, says inequality;
Whoever says inequality, says antagonism;
Whoever says antagonism, says civil war.
Therefore, whoever says government, says civil war.
Agnostic Fear of the Goddess Grundy.
[G.W. Foote in London Freethinker.]
I am afraid that the Goddess Grundy is at the bottom of nearly all shrinking from the team Atheist by those who are “without God.” When theology is banished from the world as completely as astronomy, there will be no need for anti-theological badges. No one will be required to adopt any attitude towards an exploded superstition. We do not now divide into parties on the subject of witchcraft, although our forefathers did; we have simply passed it by as a mania. Some day or other we shall regard theology in the same light. We shall neither believe it nor disbelieve it, but simply ignore it — as we do witchcraft. Theist and Atheist will then be unnecessary terms. But until then we must go on employing them. Theist means practically “with God,” while Atheist means practically “without God.” All the metaphysical talk in the world about the relativity of human thought can not obscure this plain distinction. The Atheist knows as well as the Agnostic that man is finite.
He knows what’s what;
And that’s as high
As metaphysic wit can fly.
With God or without God, Theist or Atheist,— that is the issue which will be decided by ordinary people who have business to do in the world. They leave intermediate imaginations about the infinite to those who have the disposition and the leisure to imitate the Hindu Yogis or the monks of St. Athos in profound contemplation of the mystery of their navels. Our Agnostic friends do not, however, patronize this particular form of mysticism. They like the pride and pleasure of life too well. Their mysticism is usually borrowed from the dogmas of the Goddess Grundy.
[Gramont in L'Intransigeant.]
To those minds which are sometimes troubled and anxious; to those who sometimes doubt the unassailable strength of Democracy; who are not absolutely sure that the future, like the present, belongs to it irrevocably; who fear lest a return to the past is yet among the possibilities; who think that the Aristocracy may perhaps at a given moment recover some fragments of its lost authority and power,— to all those the reply is easy enough, and events, and even the incidental details of life, are taking it upon themselves to formulate it every day.
Compare, for instance, what the People were doing at the beginning of this week and what the Aristocracy were doing. They were spending their time in ways considerably different.
The People? What they were doing we know; entire humanity is informed about it. They were solemnly, piously escorting the dead Poet from the Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon.
The Aristocracy? They were disguising themselves as a menagerie.
It was at Madame de Sagan’s that the affair happened.
This grand lady, noted for her eccentric tastes, gave a party. She wished it to be original. The instructions were to come disguised as some animal or other. Read Buffon.
The attendance, I beg you to believe, was numerous and select. Not a countryman, not a clown. The top of the basket, the flower, the cream, the crisp of the crisp. All the illustrious names that we have. Take the list of guests. Nothing but marquises, counts, barons, duchesses. The peerage of France, one might say. And, indeed, so it was.
All these great lords, all these grand and respectable ladies, were disguised for the occasion as beasts. Some pretend that every human being resembles an animal. Madame de Sagan’s guests emphasized the resemblance. They stuffed themselves into the very skins of our inferior brothers. There were peacocks, ibises, owls. Cocks exhibited their combs. There were canaries, turkeys, giraffes. You saw a cat: it was a princess. Then insects. Bees and drones. These were the corps de baliet.
La chose fut equise et fort bien ordonnée.
For fuller information consult Padrisis of the “Figaro” and Tou*** of the “Gaulois.” Ah! my dear! . . . .
I do not really know why well-born people exhibit such aversion to the theories of Darwin and vehemently reject the idea of the descent of man. How can it disturb them to have it said that they come from the animals when, to amuse themselves, and nothing forcing them to it, they return to them? It is no longer easy to understand why they deny our long-armed ancestor, the venerable ape.
As for their more recent ancestors, the warriors, knights, and gentlemen, those who by cut and thrust won their coats of arms and their titles, it would be safe to wager that these would have felt some astonishment if, having risen for a night from the dust in which they have been sleeping or an age, they had been taken to this zoological ball, and, seeing these birds, these insects, these mammiferous animals of all sorts, had been told: “There are your descendants!”
They were barbed with iron. Their sons cover themselves with feathers and hair.
Some, undoubtedly, of these disguised nobles are descended from the barbarian chiefs who also went about clad in the skins of beasts. But the bears and the wolves whose bloody skins unwrapped their giant forms they killed themselves, strangling thorn with their own hands, as Hercules would have done. Today you, the People, ate the Hercules!
The astonishing part of this affair is not the ball itself and its brutish whimsicalities,— each one behaved in accordance with his disguise,— but chiefly the publicity given to such trivialities by the society journals, the length of the reports, the luxury of the details. We do not complain. It is good that the public should be definitely informed concerning the favorite occupations of those who move in high society.
Nadar once maintained in a humorous article that the “Vie Parisienne” was the most revolutionary of all journals, inasmuch as it painted the ruling classes in colors little calculated to inspire respect. It is my opinion that the “Figaro’ and the “Gaulois” are no longer second in this respect to the “Vie Parisienne.”
The “Figaro” bears off the palm for demagogy. It gives a strange specimen of the language used in this brilliant assembly.
“They hailed each other,” it says, “all the evening in the most picturesque ways. ‘See! the paroquet!’ ‘You are no owl!’ ‘Out of the way, you buzzard!’ ‘Oh! that turkey!’ ‘You are a queer sort of an animal:’ ‘You are another!’”
The reveal to the masses that eminently select society uses on its festival days the same metaphors, the same apostrophes as Bibi-la-Grillade, Mes-Bottes, and Bec-Salé,— it would seem to me difficult to be more violently anarchistic.
“In short, you are indignant? You blame them?”
Not at all. I do not blame them; I am not in the least indignant. I simply note (with pleasure) that the People are becoming every day more serious, more open to matters of the mind, and the Aristocracy more frivolous.
 The irresponsibility of the senators and representatives is guaranteed to them in this wise:
For any speech or debate [or vote] in either house, they [the senators and representatives] shall not be questioned [held to any legal responsibility] in any other place. — Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 6.
The Judicial and executive officers are all equally guaranteed against all responsibility to the people. They are made responsible only to the senators and representatives, whose laws they are to administer and execute. So long as they sanction and execute all these laws, to the satisfaction of the lawmakers, they are safe against all responsibility. In no case can the people, whose rights they are continually denying and trampling upon, hold them to any accountability whatever.
Thus it will be seen that all departments of the government, legislative, judicial, and executive, are placed entirely beyond any responsibility to the people, whose agents they profess to be, and whose rights they assume to dispose of at pleasure.
Was a more absolute, irresponsible government than that ever invented?