Liberty Vol. III. No. 8.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
XII. “The Confessions of a Journalist.”
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Labor Reform and Political Action.
Forget His Faults, But Remember What?
Judge Lynch’s the Supreme Court.
Important Anarchistic Accessions.
The Prize Goose is a Michigander.
“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.
The New York Senate has been amusing itself writing poetry. Although the poetry was very bad, it was an improvement, on the usual occupation of law-making.
The offer made in the last issue of Liberty for copies of certain back numbers is now withdrawn. But for the first and fourth numbers of the first volume of this journal I am still ready and anxious to pay ten cents each.
Any intelligent radical looking for work may find it by answering the advertisement of Dr. W. K. Dyer, to be found in another column. As for the unsweetened condensed milk which Dr. Dyer advertises, I am able, from personal knowledge, to guarantees its excellence.
The second number of Charles T. Fowler’s “Sun” is out. Nothing better could be said of it than that it is as good as the first. It shows in a fascinating and masterly manner how the principles of cooperation may be utilized in the store, the bank, and the factory. A portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson adorns the number. Both numbers are advertised in another column. There is nothing better for the purpose of propagandism.
The last resort of Horace Seaver, editor of the “Investigator,” when driven to the wall on the Mormon question, is to ask his opponent: “Would you like to see your own daughter living in polygamy?” In the same way the last resort of the negrophohist in slavery days was to ask the abolitionist: “Would you like to see your own daughter marry a nigger?” It never occurred to the negro hater, as it does not now occur to the Mormon hater, that the wishes of the daughters themselves should be consulted. Every honest father, whatever he may desire to see his daughter do or not do, will strive to secare her in the right of choice,— that is, Liberty.
The new administration begins with contemptible hypocrisy. Almost the first act of Cleveland was to warn the Oklahoma “boomers” off their lands on the ground that these lands are for the Indians. There never was a flimsier, falser pretence. There are no Indians in Oklahoma, and no Indians claim it. The lands are occupied by the cattle kings, and it was to sustain these in their monopoly that Cleveland issued his proclamation. But perhaps it is a good thing that this first hit of the Democracy at labor is so palpable. The sooner laborers find out that all political parties are alike in their friendship to monopoly and capital, the better it will be for mankind.
The first number of Henry Seymour’s new paper, the London “Anarchist,” is at hand. It has four pages, and is published monthly at one shilling and sixpence a year by the International Publishing Company, 35 Newington Green Road, London, N., England. It is gratifying to observe that it is to wage uncompromising war on lines precisely parallel with those of Liberty, being Anarchistic in the extreme and clearly discriminative against Communism. The first number has articles by Mr. Seymour himself, Henry Appleton of Providence, R. I., George Bernard Shaw (whose excellent contribution is copied in another column), and Elisee Reclus. Further evidences of Mr. Seymour’s push and earnestness are to be found in his announcement of an English edition of my translation of Proudhon’s “What is Property?” and of Marie Le Compte’s translation of Bakounine’s “God and the State.”
George Schumm of Chicago sends me the joyful news that his paper, the “Radical Review,” which announced its probable death in the last number, will not die, after all, but will be published soon as a monthly magazine. This is especially gratifying in view of Mr. Schumm’s recent conversion to Anarchism, announced in an article copied in another column. It seemed too bad that so earnest and intelligent a thinker should lose the means of propagandism just as he had come to a knowledge of ideas worth propagating. The world moves, truly, and the Anarchist’s hope and courage grows firmer with each accession to the ranks.
I have often seen Ruskin referred to in labor papers as giving his sanction to the ideas of Henry George. Such papers as foster this delusion would do well to ponder the following lines from No. 95 of Ruskin’s “Fors Clavigera,” recently published:— “The nonsense thought and talked about ‘Nationalisation of Land,’ like other nonsense, must have its day, I suppose,— and I hope, soon, its night. All healthy states from the beginning of the world, living on land, are founded on hereditary tenare, and perish when either the lords or peasants sell their estates, much more when they let them out for hire. The single line of the last words of John of Gaunt to Richard II.: ‘Landlord of England art thou now, not king,’ expresses the root of the whole matter, and the present weakness of the Peers in their dispute with the Commons is because the Upper House is composed no more of Seigneurs, but of Landlords. Possession of land implies the duty of living on it, and by it, if there is enough to live on: then, having got one’s own life from it by one’s own labor, or wise superintendence of labor, if there is more land than is enough for one’s self, the duty of making it fruitful and beautiful for as many more as can live on it.”
Taking generals as they go, I have always held Robert E. Lee in moderately high esteem, but, if Jubal Early tells the truth, this opinion must be revised and perhaps reversed. Trying to relieve Lee from that horrible aspersion on his character which attributes to Grant’s magnanimity at Appomattox Lee’s retention of his sword, Early declares that Lee and all his officers were allowed by the express terms of the capitulation to retain their side-arms, and further (citing Dr. Jones’s “Personal Reminiscences of General R. E. Lee”) that Lee once said to Jones and other friends, and in 1869 to Early himself, that, before going to meet Grant, he left orders with Longstreet and Gordon to hold their commands in readiness, as he was determined to cut his way through or perish in the attempt, if such terms were not granted as he thought his array entitled to demand.” That is to say, General Lee, having determined that it would be folly to make his men fight longer for his cause, made up his mind to surrender, but decided at the same time that he would cause his men to die by the thousands rather than submit himself and his officers to a slight personal humiliation. He was willing to swallow the camel, but, rather than stomach the gnat, he would murder his fellow-men without compunction. All considerations fall before superstition, be the superstition religious, political, or military. The art of war, on which government finally rests, has, like government itself, its laws and regulations and customs, which, in the eyes of the military devotee, must be observed at all hazards. Beside them human life is a mere bagatelle. Man himself may be violated with impunity, but man-made laws and customs are inviolably enshrined in the Holy of Holies.
Inasmuch as two interesting evidences of idiocy are copied in another column from the Detroit “Labor Leaf,” it is only fair to say that since their appearance in that paper it fortunately has passed into new and better hands, which should not be held responsible for such follies.
Ivan Panin, the professed Nihilist, has found his level and shown his true colors. When sometime back he appeared to have abandoned the business of going about the country misrepresenting Nihilism while claiming to champion it and began to devote his energies to the raising of hens at Grafton, Massachusetts, I had some hopes of him; for the latter is a useful, honest occupation, capable of improving both mind and body. But the duplicity of his natare evidently found it uncongenial, for it now appears that he has become the business manager of the Law and Order League! Just fancy it! A Nihilist working for conventional Law and Order and acting as the paid agent of a society whose functions consist in inducing legislators to create fictitious crimes, inducing citizens by deceit to commit these crimes, and inducing the lowest form of human being, the “spotter,” by bribery, to convict these citizens by perjury! I suspected Panin always; I know him now for what he is.
Mr. Harman, one of the editors of “Lucifer,” referring to the length of articles sent by correspondents, says: “While we readily grant that ‘Lucifer’ belongs not to its editors alone but also to its subscribers, we cannot see that justice would require as much space to be given to him who contributes, say, ten dollars to the finances of the paper as should be given to him who gives hundreds of dollars in time, labor, and money for the same purpose.” The idea propounded in the language that I have italicized seems a singular one. If a man gives money to a paper, he gets no claim upon it thereby, for gift implies no quid pro quo. If he subscribes for a paper, he does so because on the whole he likes to read it, and he pays the subscription price for the enjoyment and instruction that he derives from it. His claim is thereby satisfied, and, when the paper ceases to suit him, he can withdraw his support. But it would be ridiculous in him to claim to control any portion of the space. Suppose each one of the hundred and odd thousand buyers of the New York “Sun” should be allowed such a claim. Each would control one word or less a day, and a nice hodgepodge Mr. Dana would serve up every morning! Mr. Harman may surrender his rights to whom he pleases, but for my part I insist on my control of every inch of Liberty. Every article sent to this paper, if in Liberty’s line, well written, and not too long, will be published, whether sent by a subscriber or not, and nothing else will be published, though all the subscribers on the list should unite in demanding it. The conduct of this journal from the start has been in accordance with the announcement made in the first number that it would be “edited to suit its editor,” a policy that I have never regretted. I make these remarks, not to pick a bone with Mr. Harman, but to throw light on a question of newspaper ethics, ignorance of which does so much to stimulate the arrogance of a large class of newspaper readers who seem to think they own the earth.
Then and Now.
XII. “The Confessions of a Journalist.”
Boston, March 21, 2085.
My Dear Louise:
In the old Capitol on Beacon Hill is now one of the finest libraries in the world, and I spend two or three hours almost every day in reading from the most remarkable of the innumerable remarkable volumes. The room that once was the Hall of Representatives is now filled from floor to ceiling with cabinets containing books and pamphlets of the present century. In the room once the Senate chamber are books of the last two centuries, with those of the last largely predominating in numbers, and several of the small rooms are used for those of still older date. All books are classified, first, according to date of writing, and, second, according to subject-matter.
The volume that is just now attracting my attention is one published in 1902, and entitled “The Confessions of a Journalist.” The author’s name does not appear, but he introduces himself in the preface as follows:
“For the past thirty-five years I have made journalism my profession, and during that time have been connected in different ways, as reporter, correspondent, city editor, news editor, managing editor, editorial writer, and part proprietor, with many of the leading newspapers of the country. I have been one of the few that have been fortunate enough at sixty to be able to retire from active labors on the press, having amassed a fortune on which I can live comfortably and see my children well started on the journey of life.”
This, by way of introduction, attracted my attention. Books written by journalists I have always found peculiarly interesting, although I must confess seldom very instructive. Journalists know so well how to make insignificant matters entertaining and put things in such a bright, witty way, that it is usually a pleasare to read what they write. Their books are never dull, and it never requires deep thought to understand them. One can read page after page, beginning almost anywhere and leaving off at will, in a dreamy sort of way with the thinking powers at rest. The effect is not an excitement to mental exertion. When I wish to read myself to sleep, I have always been accustomed to take up some book written by a journalist. So, when I ran across this “Confession,” I decided that it would be a good thing to help me digest my dinners. You may judge whether or not I made a mistake from some of the extracts which I shall give you.
The first chapter is devoted to young men who are about to enter the profession, and pretends to give much wholesome advice. But read:
“Young man, you are eager to enter the field of journalism; you are eager to become an editor, perhaps a proprietor. You ask yourself, ‘Have I the talent and the education necessary to enable me to become a successful journalist?’ Are you superficial? This is the first qualification. No deep thinker, no keen reasoner has any place on a daily newspaper.
“Are you an accomplished liar? Or, to put it in a more delicate manner, are you an adept at watering or obscuring the truth? Can you make what you honestly believe to be the truth (provided you think deeply enough to honestly believe any thing) appear to be false, and what you know to be false (or what you would know to be false provided you gave it a thought) appear to be the truth? If you cannot, don’t enter journalism.
“Have you a ready pen for flattery or abuse as you may be commanded? If not, become a hod-carrier rather than a journalist.
“Do you believe in having principles and in supporting them? Go West on the plains, and devote your life to the occupation of a cowboy, but don’t become a journalist.
“Are you one who believes that right should stand ahead of gain? Go hang yourself and die innocent before you become connected with a newspaper.”
Such matter as this did not help me digest my dinner, but it awakened a curiosity that would be satisfied. If honest, right-minded, thinking men cannot make (or could not make, I should say now) successful journalists, then what? Farther on he tells, when he says:
“One who would attain the highest success in journalism as it is today and has been for many years, back as far at least as my memory serves me, must be a man of remarkably quick perception. This is the chief qualification. He must look upon a newspaper as merely a business enterprise, and making money must be his sole aim. This is as true of the most utterly unknown reporter as of the editor-in-chief, business manager, or proprietor. That paper is most successful which sells the most copies daily and has the best advertising patronage; that is, which declares the largest dividend each year. What paper is there that does not aim for this? What leading paper is there that would not support the devil if its management thought that by so doing its finances would be improved? What successful paper is there that would not print anything within the bounds of the law if by so doing more pennies would continue to drop into its till? What prominent paper is there that does not have a little or big list of names of which no unpleasant things must be said, never mind how big the lie told? If Mr. Jones advertises well, must not Mr. Jones be lied about if he happens to do anything about which the truth, if told, would injure him?
“Any man connected with a paper as reporter or editor may be called upon to lie (for twelve, twenty, fifty, or one hundred dollars per week, according to his ability) a dozen times a day, and also to swear that that lie is God’s truth. If he murmurs, he must resign.”
I am beginning to think that my journalist-author is not what he says he is, a retired successful journalist. I am afraid he has not been successful in the profession, and by this means vents his spleen upon those who have. I cannot believe that the great educators, the leaders of the people, the guardians of the liberties and rights of the people of your time are so corrupt; that their only object is gain. Is there, or rather was there, no high moral purpose in the journalism of the nineteenth century? I read on:
“For the most part our dailies are owned by stock companies, and surely no one can expect a philanthropic and moral sentiment to inspire a stock company! The business manager, who is usually the editor-in-chief, who dictates the policy and course of the paper, is paid a certain salary, and he is expected to make the paper earn enough to pay a handsome dividend. It is all business with him. Money is the only principle he sees. That is just and moral that pays best. If he owned the paper, he would do so and so, but it won’t pay, and it is his duty to make the enterprise pay. The managing editor must please the business manager or editor-in-chief. All the subordinates of the managing editor — news editors, city editor, dramatic editor, and all other editors and reporters — must please him and obey him. There must be no individual opinion of right and wrong. Right means profitable and wrong means profitless. ‘Is it for the good of the people that this be published?’ is never asked; ‘Is this just?’ is never asked; but simply, ‘Is it policy to print this?’ I am shaking always, unless I specify differently, of the large daily newspapers, ‘the great leaders of public opinion.’”
When I had read this, I paused, and the thought went through my mind. “What if all this that he says be true! The people have the power to kill a corrupt newspaper in a few weeks, and can stop its influence at once by not buying it. The most successful papers are most successful because they sell the greatest number of copies,— that is, because they print matter that the people like to read. If the people like to read ‘watered truth,’ well and good; if they want to be flattered and abused, who cares?”
I had read but a few pages more when I found the author had anticipated my criticism and answered it in this manner:
“If you charge a journalist with gulling the public, he immediately answers that he gives the public what it wants; witness the success of his paper! It won’t do, he says, to print the truth; no daily could live and do it. The people desire to read exaggerations and flattering and abusing lies. They want the truth adulterated with what will make it pleasant to swallow. They quote this from Nathaniel Hawthorne (a good journalist must be good at quoting): ‘It must be a remarkably true man who can keep his own elevated conceptions of truth when the lower feelings of a multitude are assailing his natural sympathies, and who can speak out frankly the best there is in him when by adulterating it a little or a good deal he knows that he may make it ten times as acceptable to the audience.”
“What redress have the people? Stop buying the papers? But it is necessary that they should buy the papers. There are matters upon which they must keep informed.”
And so the book continues on to the end. Sometime I will talk with an editor of today, and give you his views of journalism.
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 59.
“Verotchka, my friend, you have reproached me,”— his voice trembled for the second and last time in his life; the first time it trembled with doubt, now it trembled with joy,— “you have reproached me, but this reproach is dearer to me than any words of love. I have offended you by a question, but I am happy to have drawn such a reproach upon myself. See! there are tears in my eyes, the first tears that I have shed since my childhood!”
Throughout the evening his eyes were fixed upon her. She did not once say to herself during that evening that he was trying to be affectionate, and that evening was one of the happiest that she ever passed. In a few years she will have days, weeks, years like it; this will be the case when her children have grown up and she sees them happy men worthy of happiness. This joy is above all other persnal joys; that which in every other personal joy is a rare and fleeting intensity is here the ordinary level of every day without distinction. But this is still in the futare for Vera Pavlovna.
When she had gone to sleep upon his knees and he had placed her on her little divan, Lopoukhoff concentrated his thoughts upon this dream. It was not for him to consider whether she loved him or not; that was her affair, and in this she was no more mistress than he was master. This was a point that must clear itself up, to be thought of only leisarely; now time was pressing, and his business was to analyze the causes of this presentiment.
At first it was a long time before he could discover anything. He had seen clearly for some days that he could not keep her love. Painful loss, but what was to be done? If he could change his character, acquire this inclination for gentle affection which the natare of his wife demanded, that would be another matter, certainly. But he saw that this would be a vain attempt. If this inclination is not given by nature or developed by life independently of the intentions of the man himself, it cannot be created by the effort of his will; now, without the inclination nothing is as it should be. Hence for him the question was solved. So this was the problem of his first reflections. Now, after having meditated on his own situation (as an egoist thinking first of himself and of others only secondarily), he could approach the affair of another,— that is, of his wife. What can be done for her? She does not yet understand what is going on within her, she is not yet as well versed as he in affairs of the heart, and very naturally, being four years younger, which at that early age is a great deal. Could he not, as the more experienced, trace this dream back to its cause?
Immediately came into Lopoukhoff’s mind this supposition: the cause of her thoughts must be sought in the circumstance which gave rise to her dream. Some connection must be found between the cause of her dream and its substance. She said that she was vexed because she did not go to the opera. Let us see.
Lopoukhoff began to examine his way of living and that of his wife, and the light dawned on his mind. Most of the time when they had nothing to do she had remained in solitude, as he did. Then had come a change: she had had distractions. Now the more sober life had returned. She had not been able to accept it with indifference, for it was no more in her nature to do so than in that of the enormous majority of mankind. So far there is nothing extraordinary. Now, it is no farther to suppose the solution of the enigma to be in her association with Kirsanoff, an association followed by the latter’s separation. But why did Kirsanoff go away? The cause seems only too natural,— lack of time, pressure of duties. But one cannot deceive, though he use all possible stratagems, an honest, intelligent man, experienced in life, and above all utilizing the theory to which Lopoukhoff held. He may deceive himself through lack of attention; he may neglect to notice what is going on: thus it was that Lopoukhoff came to mistake the motives of Kirsanoff’s original separation, because then, to tell the truth, he had no interest and consequently no desire to look closely into the causes of this separation; the only thing important for him to know was this: Who was to blame for the rupture of friendship? Was it not himself? Evidently not. Then there was no occasion to think about it further. He was neither Kirsanoff’s favorite nor a pedagogue charged with guiding men in the straight road. Kirsanoff understood tilings as well as he did. How did his conduct concern him? In his relations with Kirsanoff was there anything so important? As long as you are on good terms with me and wish me to love you, I am well content; if not, more’s the pity, but for that matter go where you please, it’s all one to me. It makes no great difference whether there is one imbecile more or less in the world. I took an imbecile for an honest man; I am very sorry for it, and that is all. If our interests are not bound up with the acts of an individual, his acts trouble us little provided we are serious men.
Two cases alone excepted, which, however, seem exceptions only to men accustomed to consider the word “interest” in the not too strict sense of ordinary calculation. The first case is when actions interest us on their theoretical side, as psychical phenomena explaining the natare of man,— that is, when we feel an intellectual interest; the other case is when the destiny of the person is so dependent upon ourselves that we should be guilty in our own eyes if we should be careless of his conduct,— that is, when we feel a conscientious interest. But in the silly departure which Kirsanoff had formerly taken there was nothing not known to Lopoukhoff as a very ordinary characteristic of actual morals, for it is not rare to see a man of honest ideas governed by current trivialities. But that Lopoukhoff could play an important part in Kirsanoff’s destiny was something that Lopoukhoff could never have imagined: of what use, therefore, to trouble himself about Kirsanoff? So go, my dear friend, where it seems good to you: why should I trouble myself about you? But now the situation was no longer the same: Kirsanoff’s acts appeared in connection with the interests of the woman whom Lopoukhoff loved. He could not help giving them close thought. Now, to give a thing close thought and to understand its causes are almost one and the same thing to a man of Lopoukhoff’s habits of thought. Lopoukhoff believed that his theory furnished the surest means of analyzing human emotions, and I confess that I am of his opinion. During a long series of years this theory that I profess has not once led me into error, and has always put me in a position to easily discover the truth, whatever the depths in which it be hidden.
It is none the less true that this theory is not accessible to all; it requires experience and habits of thought to be able to understand it.
After a half-hour’s meditation all was clear to Lopoukhoff in Kirsanoff’s relations with Vera Pavlovna. It was clear, indeed, but nevertheless Lopoukhoff did not cease to ponder over it, and this reverie ended in a decisive and complete discovery, which so impressed him that he could not sleep. But why wear out one’s nerves through insomnia? It is three o’clock. If one cannot sleep, he must take morphine. He took two pills; “I will take just one look at Verotchka.” But instead of going and looking, he drew his armchair up to the divan upon which his wife lay asleep, and sat down there; then he took her hand and kissed it.
“You still work, my darling, and always for me; how good you are, and how I love you!” she murmured in her sleep. Against morphine in sufficient quantities no laceration of the heart can endure; on this occasion two pills were enough. Therefore sleep took possession of him. This laceration of the heart was approximately equal in intensity (according to Lopoukhoff’s materialism) to four cups of strong coffee, to counteract which one pill would not have been enough while three pills would have been too many. He went to sleep, laughing at the comparison.
XXII. A Theoretical Conversation.
Scarcely had Kirsanoff stretched himself out the next day like a veritable sybarite, a cigar between his lips, to read and to rest after his dinner which had been delayed by his duties at the hospital, when Lopoukhoff entered.
“I am as much in the way here as a dog in a ninepin alley,” said Lopoukhoff in a jocose though not at all trifling tone; “I disturb you, Alexander. It is absolutely necessary that I should talk seriously with you. It is pressing; this morning I overslept and should not have found you.”
Lopoukhoff did not seem to be trifling.
“What does this mean? Can he have noticed anything?” thought Kirsanoff. “Therefore let us talk a little,” continued Lopoukhoff, sitting down; “look me in the face.”
“Yes, he speaks of that; there is no doubt about it,” said Kirsanoff to himself. Then aloud and in a still more serious tone: “Listen, Dmitry; we are friends. But there are things that even friends must not permit themselves. I beg you to drop this conversation. I am not disposed to talk today. And on this subject I am never disposed to talk.”
Kirsanoff’s eyes had a steady look of animosity, as if there were a man before him whom he suspected of an intention to commit some piece of rascality.
“To be silent,— that cannot be, Alexander,” continued Lopoukhoff, in a calm though somewhat hollow voice; “I have seen through your manoeuvres.”
“Be silent! I forbid you to speak unless you wish me for an eternal enemy, unless you wish to forfeit my esteem.”
“Formerly you did not fear to lose my esteem,— do you recollect? Now, therefore, all is clear. Then I did not pay sufficient attention.”
“Dmitry, I beg you to go away, or I shall have to go myself.”
“You cannot. Is it with your interests that I am concerned?”
Kirsanoff did not say a word.
“My position is advantageous. Yours in conversation with me is not. I seem to be performing an act of heroism. But such notions are silly. I cannot act otherwise; common sense forces me to it. I beg you, Alexander, to put an end to your manoeuvres. They accomplish nothing.”
“What? Was it too late already? Pardon me,” said Kirsanoff quickly, unable to tell whether it was joy or chagrin that moved him when he heard the words: “They accomplish nothing.”
“No, you do not rightly understand me. It was not too late. Nothing has happened so far. What will happen we shall see. For the rest, Alexander, I do not understand of what you speak; nor do you understand of what I speak; we do not understand each other. Am I right? And we do not need to understand each other. Enigmas that you do not understand are disagreeable to you. But there is no enigma here. I have said nothing. I have nothing to say to you. Give me a cigar; I have carelessly forgotten mine. I will light it, and we will discuss scientific questions; it was not for that that I came, but to spend the time in chatting about science. What do you think of these strange experiments in the artificial production of albumen?”
Lopoukhoff drew another chair up to his own to put his feet on it, seated himself comfortably, lighted his cigar, and continued his remarks:
“In my opinion it is a great discovery, if it be not contradicted. Have you reproduced the experiments?”
“No, but I must do so.”
“How fortunate you are in having a good laboratory at your disposition! Reproduce them, reproduce them, I beg of you, but with great care. It is a complete revolution in the entire alimentary economy, in the whole life of humanity,— the manufactare of the principal nutritive substance directly from inorganic matter. That is an extremely important discovery, equal to Newton’s. Do you not think so?”
“Certainly. Only I very much doubt the accuracy of the experiments. Sooner or later we shall reach that point, indisputably; science clearly tends in that direction. But now it is scarcely probable that we have already got there.”
“That is your opinion? Well, it is mine, too. So our conversation is over. Au revoir, Alexander; but, in taking leave of you, I beg you to come to see us often, as in the past. Au revoir.”
Kirsanoff’s eyes, fixed on Lopoukhoff, shone with indignation.
“So, you wish, Dmitry, to leave with me the opinion that you have of low thoughts?”
“Not at all. But you ought to see us. What is there extraordinary in that? Are we not friends? My invitation is a very natural one.”
“I cannot. You began upon a senseless and therefore dangerous matter.”
“I do not understand of what affair you speak, and I must say that this conversation pleases me no more than it pleased you two minutes ago.”
“I demand an explanation of you, Dmitry.”
“There is nothing to explain or to understand. You are getting angry for nothing, and that is all.”
“No, I cannot let you go away like that.” Kirsanoff seized Lopoukhoff by the hand as he was on the point of starting. “Be seated. You began to speak without any necessity of doing so. You demand of me — I know not what. Y on must listen to me.”
Lopoukhoff sat down.
“What right have you,” began Kirsanoff in a voice still more indignant than before,— “what right have you to demand of me that which is painful to me? Am I under obligation to you in anything? And what’s the use? It is an absurdity. Throw aside this nonsense of romanticism. What we both recognize as normal life will prevail when society’s ideas and customs shall be changed. Society must acquire new ideas, it is true. And it is acquiring them with the development of life. That he who has acquired them should aid others is also true. But until this radical change has taken place, you have no right to engage the destiny of another. It is a terrible thing. Do you understand? Or have you gone mad?”
“No, I understand nothing. I do not know what you are talking about. It pleases you to attribute an unheard-of significance to the invitation of your friend who asks you not to forget him, it being agreeable to him to see you at his house. I do not understand what reason you have to get angry.”
“No, Dmitry, you cannot throw me off this conversation by trifling. You are mad; a base idea has taken possession of you. We utterly reject prejudices, for instance. We do not admit that there is anything dishonoring in a blow per se (that idea is a silly, harmful prejudice, and nothing more). But have you a right at the present moment to strike any one a blow? That would be rascality on your part; you would take away from such a man the tranquillity of his life. How stupid you are not to understand that, if I love this man and you demand that I shall strike him, I hold you for a base man and will kill either you or myself, but will not strike the blow? Besides men, there are women in the world, who are also human beings; besides blows, there are other insults,— stupidities according to our theories, and in reality, but which take away from men the tranquillity of life. Do you understand that to submit any human being whomsoever — let alone a woman — to one of these stupidities now regarded as insults is a despicable thing? Yes, you have offensive thoughts.”
“You tell the truth, my friend, touching things proper and things offensive; only I do not know why you speak of them, or why you take me to task in the matter, I have not said a single word to you; I have no designs upon the tranquillity of any one whomsoever. You construct chimeras, that is all. I beg you not to forget me, it being agreeable to me to spend my time with you,— nothing more. Will you comply with your friend’s request?”
“It is offensive, and I do not commit offences.”
“Not to commit them is laudable. But some whim or other has irritated you, and you launch out into full theory. So be it; I too would like to theorize, and quite aimlessly; I am going to ask you a question, simply to throw light on an abstract truth, without reference to any one whomsoever. If any one, without doing anything disagreeable to himself, can give pleasare to another, in my opinion he should do so, because in so doing he himself will find pleasare. Is not that true?”
“That’s all humbug, Dmitry; you have no right to say that.”
“But I say nothing, Alexander; I am only dealing with theoretical questions. And here is another. If any desire whatever is awakened in any one, do our efforts to stifle this desire lead to any good? Are you not of a contrary opinion, and do you not think that suppression simply overexcites this desire, a hurtful thing, or gives it a false direction, a hurtful and dangerous thing, or stifles life in stifling this special desire, which is a calamity?”
“That is not the point, Dmitry. I will state this theoretical question in another form: has any one a right to submit a human being to a risk, if this human being is in a tolerably comfortable condition without any need of running a risk? There will come a time, we both know, when all desires will receive complete satisfaction, but we also know that that time has not yet arrived. Now, the reasonable man is content if his life is comfortable, even though such a life should not permit the development of all his faculties, the satisfaction of all his desires. I will suppose, as an abstract hypothesis, that this reasonable human being exists and is a woman, that the situation in which she finds it convenient to live is the marriage state; that she is content in this situation: and I ask, given these conditions, who has the right to submit this person to the danger of losing the life which satisfies her simply to see if she might not attain a better, more complete life with which she can easily dispense. The golden age will come, Dmitry, as we well know, but it is yet to come. The iron age is almost gone, but the golden age is not yet here. I pursue my abstract hypothesis: if an intense desire on the part of the person in question — suppose it, for instance, to be the desire of love — were receiving little or no satisfaction, I should have nothing to say against any danger incurred by herself, but I still protest against the risk that another might lead her to run. Now, if the person finds in her life a partial satisfaction of her new desire, she ought not to risk losing everything; and if she does not wish to run this risk, I say that he would be acting in a censurable and senseless manner who should try to make her run it. What objection have you to offer to this hypothetical deduction? None. Admit, then, that you are not right.”
“In your place, Alexander, I should have spoken as you do; I do not say that you are interested in the matter; I know that it scarcely touches us; we speak only as savants, on an interesting subject, in accordance with general scientific ideas which seem to us to be just. According to these ideas, each one judges everything from his own standpoint, determined by his personal relations to the thing in question; it is only in this sense that I say that in your place I should speak absolutely as you do. You in my place would speak absolutely as I do. From the general scientific standpoint, this is an indisputable truth. A in B’s place is B; if, in B’s place, A were not B, that would mean that he was not exactly in B’s place. Am I right? If so, you have nothing to say against that, just as I have nothing to say in answer to your words. But, following your example, I will construct an abstract hypothesis, likewise having no reference to any one whomsoever. Suppose that, given three persons, one of them has a secret which he desires to hide from the second and especially from the third, and that the second discovers the secret of the first and says to him: Do what I ask of you, or I will reveal your secret to the third. What do you think of such a case?”
Kirsanoff turned a little pale, and, twisting his moustache obstinately, said:
“Dmitry, you are not acting rightly toward me.”
“Do I need to act rightly toward you? Is it you that I am interested in? And, moreover, I do not know what you are talking about. We have spoken of science; we have mutually proposed to each other various learned and abstract problems; I have succeeded in proposing one to you which embarrasses you, and my ambition as a savant is satisfied. So I break on this theoretical conversation. I have much to do,— no less than you; so, au revoir. But, by the way,— I forgot,— you will yield to my desire, then, and no longer disdain your good friends who would be so happy to see you as often as before.”
Kirsanoff looked steadily at his fingers, as if each of them were an abstract hypothesis.
“You are not acting rightly toward me, Dmitry. I cannot satisfy your request. But, in my turn, I impose one condition upon you. I will visit you, but unless I go away from your house alone, you must accompany me everywhere without waiting for me to say a word. Do you understand? Without you I will not take a step either to the opera or anywhere else.”
“This condition is offensive to me. Must I look upon you as a robber?”
“That is not what I meant; I could not so far outrage you as to believe that you could regard me as a robber. I would put my head in your hands without hesitation. I hope that I may expect equal confidence from you. But it is for me to know what is in my thought. As for you, do as I tell you,— that is all.”
“I know all that you have done in this direction, and you wish to do still more; in that case you are right to lay this necessity upon me. But, however grateful I may be to you, my friend, I know that such a course will result in nothing. I too tried to force myself. I have a will as well as you; my manoeuvres were no worse than yours. But that which is done from calculation, from a sentiment of duty, by an effort of the will instead of by natural inclination, is destitute of life. One can only kill by such means. Life cannot result from suffocation.”
Lopoukhoff was so moved by Kirsanoff’s words, “It is for me to know what is in my thought,” that he said to him: “I thank you, my friend. We have never embraced each other; shall we do so now?”
If Lopoukhoff had been able to examine his course in this conversation as a theorist, he would have remarked with pleasare: “How true the theory is, to be sure! Egoism always governs a man. That is precisely the main point, which I have hidden. ‘Suppose that this person is contented with her situation,’— it was there that I should have said: ‘Alexander, your supposition is not correct;’ and yet I said nothing, for it would not have been to my advantage to say it. It is agreeable to a man to observe as a theorist what tricks his egoism plays him in practice. One renounces that which is lost, and egoism, so shapes things that one sets himself up as a man performing an heroic act.
If Kirsanoff had examined his course in this conversation as a theorist, he would have remarked with pleasare: “How true the theory is! I desire to preserve my tranquillity, to rest on my laurels, and I preach that one has no right to compromise a woman’s tranquillity; now that, you will understand, means: I will act heroically, I will restrain myself, for the tranquillity of a certain person and my own. Bow, then, before my greatness of soul. It is agreeable to a man to observe as a theorist what tricks his egoism plays him in practice. I abandoned this affair that I might not be a coward, and I get myself up to the joy of triumph as if I had performed an heroic and generous act. I refuse to yield to the first word of invitation that I may not be again embarrassed in my conduct and that I may not be deprived of the sweet joy which my noble way of acting causes me, and egoism so arranges things that I have the air of a man who persists in a course of noble heroism.”
But neither Lopoukhoff nor Kirsanoff had time to take a theoretical standpoint for the purpose of making these agreeable observations: for both of them practice was very difficult.
The temporary absence of Kirsanoff explained itself very naturally. For five months he had sadly neglected his duties and consequently had had to apply himself to his work assiduously for nearly six weeks; now he had caught up and could therefore dispose more freely of his time. This was so clear that any explanation was almost useless. It was, in fact, so plausible that no doubt on the subject suggested itself to Vera Pavlovna.
Kirsanoff sustained his role in the same artistic, irreproachable manner as before. He feared that his tact might fail him on his first visit to the Lopoukhoffs after the scientific conversation with his friend; he feared lest he should blush with emotion on taking his first look at Vera Pavlovna, or should make it too plain that he avoided looking at her, or should make some similar mistake; but no, he was contented with himself and had a right to be; the first meeting passed off very well. The agreeable and friendly smile of a man happy to see his old friends again, from whom he had had to tear himself away for a time; the calm look, the vivacious and careless language of a man who has at the bottom of his soul no other thoughts than those which he expresses so lightly,— the shrewdest gossip might have looked at him with the greatest desire to discover something suspicious and seen only a man happy at being able to pass an evening in the society of his friends.
The first test, met so successfully, was it difficult to maintain his self-possession during the rest of the evening? And everything going so well on the first evening, was it difficult to produce the same result on the subsequent evenings? Not a word which was not free and easy, not a look which was not simple and good, sincere and friendly,— that was all.
But though Kirsanoff conducted himself as well as before, the eyes that looked at him were ready, on the contrary, to notice many things that other eyes, no matter whose, would have been unable to see. Lopoukhoff himself, in whom Maria Alexevna had discerned a man born for the management of the liquor business, was astonished at the ease of Kirsanoff, who did not betray himself for a second, and as a theorist he took great pleasare in his observations, in which he was unconsciously interested on account of their psychological and scientific bearings.
But not for nothing had the apparition sung and compelled the reading of the diary. Certain eyes were very clear-sighted when the apparition of the dream spoke in the ear of a certain person. These eyes themselves could see nothing, but the apparition said: “Watch closely, although you cannot see what I see;” and the aforesaid eyes examined, and, although they saw nothing, it was enough for them to examine in order to notice. For instance, Vera Pavlovna goes with her husband and Kirsanoff to an evening party at the Mertzaloffs’. Why does not Kirsanoff waltz at this little party of intimate friends, where Lopoukhoff himself waltzes, it being the general rule: a septuagenarian happening to find himself there would have committed the same follies as the rest; no one looks at you, each has one and the same thought of the steadily increasing noise and movement,— that is, the more joy for each, the more for all; why, then, does Kirsanoff not waltz? Finally he throws himself into it, but why does he hesitate a few minutes before beginning? Is it worth while to expend so much reflection on the question whether or no he shall begin an affair so serious? Not to waltz was to half betray his secret. To waltz, but not with Vera Pavlovna, was to betray it quite. But he was a very skilful artist in his role; he would have preferred not to waltz with Vera Pavlovna, but he saw at once that that would be noticed. Hence his hesitation. All this, in spite of the whisperings of the apparition, would not have been noticed if this same apparition had not begun to ask a multitude of other questions quite as insignificant. Why, for instance, when, on returning from the Mertzaloffs’, they had agreed to go to the opera the following evening to see “II Puritani,” and when Vera Pavlovna had said to her husband: “You do not like this opera; it will tire you; I will go with Alexander Matveitch; every opera pleases him; were you or I to write an opera, he would listen to it just the same,” why did not Kirsanoff sustain the opinion of Vera Pavlovna? Why did he not say: “That’s so, Dmitry; I will get no ticket for you”? Why was this? That her darling should go in spite of all was not strange, for he accompanied his wife everywhere. Since the time when she had said to him: “Devote more time to me,” he had never forgotten it, and that could mean but one thing,— that he was good and should be loved. But Kirsanoff knew nothing of this; why, then, did he not sustain the opinion of Vera Pavlovna? To be sure, these were insignificant things scarcely noticed by Vera Pavlovna and which she seldom remembered beyoud the moment, but these imperceptible grains of sand fell and fell continually.
Here, for instance, is a conversation which is not a grain of sand, but a little pebble.
The following evening, while going to the opera in a single cab (for economy’s sake), they talked of the Mertzaloffs, praised their harmonious life, and remarked upon its rarity: so said they all, Kirsanoff for his part adding: “Yes, and a very good thing too about Mertzaloff is that his wife can freely open her heart to him.” That was all that Kirsanoff said. Each of the three might have said the same thing, but Kirsanoff happened to be the one to say it. But why did he say it? What did it mean? Looked at from a certain point of view, it might be a eulogy of Lopoukhoff, a glorification of Vera Pavlovna’s happiness with him; it might also have been said with no thought of any one but the Mertzaloffs; but supposing him to have been thinking of the Mertzaloffs and the Lopoukhoffs, it was evident that it was said expressly for Vera Pavlovna. With what object?
So it always is: whoever sets himself to look in a certain direction always finds what he is looking for. Where another would see nothing, he very clearly distinguishes a trace. Where another does not see a shadow, he sees the shadow and even the object which throws it, whose features become more distinct with each new look, with each new thought.
Now, in this case there was, besides, a very palpable fact, in which lay hidden the entire solution of the enigma: it was evident that Kirsanoff esteemed the Lopoukhoffs; why, then, had he avoided them for more than two years?
It was evident that he was an honest and intelligent man; how could he haye shown himself so stupid and commonplace? As long as Vera Pavlovna had no need to think this over, she had not done so, any more than Lopoukhoff had at that time, but now her thoughts took this direction unconsciously.
Slowly and imperceptibly to herself this discovery ripened within her. Produced by Kirsauoff’s words or acts, even insignificant in pressions which no one else would have felt accumulated within her, without any ability on her part, on such trifles did they rest, to analyze them. She supposed, suspected, and gradually became interested in the question why he had avoided her for nearly three years.
She became more and more firmly established in this idea: such a man would not have taken himself away out of paltry ambition, for he has no ambition. All these things chased each other in confusion through her head, and to add to the confusion there came into her consciousness from the silent depths of life this thought: “What am I to him? What is he to me?”
One day after dinner Vera Pavlovna was sitting in her chamber sewing and thinking, very tranquilly, not at first of this, but of all sorts of things, in the house, at the shop, about her lessons, when very quietly, very quietly these thoughts directed themselves towards the subject which for some unknown reason occupied them more and more. Memories, questions arose slowly; not very numerous at first, they then increased, multiplied, and swarmed by thousands through her head; they grew thicker and thicker, and gradually merged themselves in a single question taking more and more definite shape. “What is the matter with me? Of what am I thinking? What is it that I feel?” And Vera Pavlovna’s fingers forgot to stitch, and her sewing fell from her hands, and she grew a little pale, then blushed, turned pale again, and then her cheeks inflamed and passed in a twinkling of an eye from a fiery redness to a snowy whiteness. With almost haggard eyes she ran into her husband’s room, threw herself upon his knees, embraced him convulsively, and laid her head upon his shoulder that he might sustain it and hide her face.
“My dear friend, I love you,” said she in a stifled voice, bursting into tears.
“Well, my dear friend? Is there any reason in that for so much grief?”
“I do not want to offend you; it is you I wish to love.”
“You will try, you will see. If you can. In the meantime, be calm; time will tell what you can and what you cannot do. You have a great affection for me; then how could you offend me?”
He caressed her hair, kissed her head, pressed her hand. She sobbed a long time, but gradually grew calm. As for him, he had been prepared for a long time to hear this confession, and consequently he received it imperturbably; moreover, she did not see his face.
“I will see him no more; I will tell him that he must stop visiting us,” said Vera Pavlovna.
“Think it over yourself, my dear friend; you shall do what seems best to you. And when you are calm, we will talk it over together.”
“Whatever happens, we cannot fail to be friends. Give me your hand; clasp mine; see how warmly you press it.”
[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.
Labor Reform and Political Action.
Some labor reformers preach the doctrine that political action has nothing to do with industrial conditions. Evidently the men who seek to control legislation do not believe this. If one had no effect on the other, why is it that capital and its tools in our law-making bodies invariably vote down every measure asked in the interest of labor? If politics has nothing to do with industrial conditions, why does Jay Gould buy legislatures, and money changers buy up congresses? What created the national banking system but legislation? and does not the system plunder the people?
We solemnly affirm, and stand ready to prove it, that the men who control the politics of any nation control the purse-strings and the destiny of its people.
The above is from the Hartford “Examiner,” probably the most earnest and influential labor organ in New England, and around which are associated a coterie of brave and true reformers whom I very highly respect. John Swinton calls this “solid sense”; but I regret to so essentially differ with him as to call it solid imbecility.
Evidently the consciences and convictions of the various labor organ editors are becoming more and more tried over the question of utterly divorcing labor agitation from politics, and the quarrels among themselves over the point are assuming ever larger proportions. Some have already dropped their political idols, and the drift is steadily in that way. May I be permitted to paraphrase the above quotation, as follows, in order to bring out the moral inference intended by the “Examiner”?
Some sanitary reformers preach the doctrine that utilizing dirty tools engenders diseased manhood and does worse than no good to existing industrial conditions. Evidently the men who seek to foster dirty conditions do not believe this. If one has no effect on the other, why is it that capital and its dirty tools in our law-making bodies invariably vote down every clean measare asked for in the interest of labor? If dirtiness has nothing to do with industrial conditions, why does Jay Gould buy dirty legislatures, and money-changers buy up dirty congresses? What created the national banking system but dirty legislation? and does not the system plunder the people?
We solemnly affirm, and stand ready to prove it, that the inert who control the dirty tools of the nation control the purse-strings and the destiny of the people.
Very well, brothers Pyne and Swinton; and now what do you propose to do about it? Do you propose to send clean, healthy men down into these legislative sewers to handle the dirty tools? and how long can they handle dirty tools without becoming dirty and diseased themselves?
You reply: “Throw out the dirty tools, and send in nothing but clean ones!” But what do you want of clean tools in a dirty place? and can your tools possibly stay clean if they do any work at all? The one thing that you people have yet to learn is that politics itself, in its very organic structure, is composed of dirty materials. You cannot touch a clean tool to it without contamination. The only way that you and your tools can stay clean is to keep out of the dirty structure altogether. Let dirty Jay Gould and his dirty tools take care of such places. They belong there, and you do not. By keeping them company you become an ally of their infamy. Call upon working people to turn their backs upon these legislative dens, and upon the ballot-boxes which support them. Then tell them to go to work and deal with their oppressors on business principles. When you labor-reform editors arrive at this stage of level-headedness, it will not be long before you see Jay Gould and his tools fleeing from their legislative dens for their lives, like rats in a freshet. They are only dangerous because men like you defend the existence of the dens in which they do their dirty work. You blindly hold the tools responsible, when it is this structure itself that is dirty. Condemn this rotten old structure; put your tools to work on a new house,— and you will have no trouble in keeping them clean and bright.
As an example of the utter blindness of ordinary labor-reformers, I have been solicited to appear before a committee of legislative scoundrels to plead for a ten-hour law, which is pending in my State. Of course, as an Anarchist, I cannot recognize this legislative crew nor its authority. Yet men who are fully in accord with the Anarchistic idea elbow me gently and say: “But here is a chance to get some good out of the rotten old machine. You need not hate politics any the less, but you ought to use it wherever you can to beat its own brains out with.”
And yet the labor reformers of Anarchistic tendencies know very well that a ten-hour law is a direct assault upon personal liberty. If I concede the authority of a legislature to make ten hours a day’s work, I thereby concede its authority to make twenty hours a day’s work, or ultimately its authority to forbid me to work at all. What authority can forbid me to make a contract with an employer to work as many hours as we can agree upon, without a flat-footed invasion of my personal liberty? Granted that existing contracts are voided in equity, by reason of the employer’s monopoly of the means of existence: but does not the State exist for the sole and only purpose of protecting property, the creature of monopoly? So long as labor reformers flounder about among politicians, and do not demand such conditions as will make a free contract possible, they are as apt to be on the side of despotism as on the side of justice. They cannot demand such conditions logically, except as they demand the abolition of the State itself. An honest man has no business before a legislative committee, except to ask the whole gang to go home and mind their own business.
While workingmen are nosing servilely about the skirts of legislative committees, begging “Your Honorable body” to do something for them, the great corporation bosses are getting tired of this slow tomfoolery and proceeding in a business-like manner to employ Pinkerton’s detectives to shoot them down for hire. By this simple device the politicians escape the ire of their voting cattle, and while Pinkerton is doing his work on business principles, labor reformers are assuring “Your Honorable body” that they are peaceable, law-abiding citizens, humbly and respectfully asking for justice.
When will workingmen take their cue from the business-like tyrants of Hocking Valley and the railroad corporations who employ Pinkerton’s men to shoot them down, while the politician hides behind these hired assassins in order to save his votes? How long are men like Pyne and Swinton to yet aid and abet this cheat and swindle of politics, before they are ready to ask labor to turn its back upon the legislatures and congresses, and get down to business with their oppressors on the practical and business-like line challenged by the employers of Pinkerton’s paid bloodhounds? I pause for a reply.
Premier Ferry’s administration having suppressed, prior to its own most welcome suppression, the new Anarchistic journal, “Terre et Liberte,” its persevering publishers have revived it under another name,“L’Audace,” adopting as its motto Danton’s celebrated counsel: “To succeed it is necessary to dare, and again to dare, and ever to dare.” May this daring be especially fruitful of success!
The many delays and obstacles incidental to the establishment of a printing office have delayed this issue, in spite of my promise, far beyond my anticipation. But let not readers despair of the promised regularity of publication. It will come, and soon. I hope to have the next number ready by April 25.
Forget His Faults, But Remember What?
A murderer by wholesale, a callous political adventarer, a notorious public beggar, a lickspittle of capital, and a bankrupt speculator and conniver at fraud lies dying in New York as I write, and a nation of fools are waiting to shod tears over the carcass which a life of rum-guzzling an I tobacco-smoking has made as cancerous anti rotten as the mind and heart that dwell within it. If some honest laborer among his victims hod interrupted this wanton’s rascally career with a bomb, these same fools would have become mailmen and torn the dynamiter to shreds. Such is the morality and justice inspired in the people * * * worship of government and power.
I had intended to stop here, but now feel like recording the satisfaction that I take in having said thus much when I see that in some instances good men and true are joining the mob in singing the praises of this wretch and begging us to forget his faults. There are few more demoralizing spectacles than that of the noble of this earth lending themselves to the blind, passionate apotheosis of its ignoble. Forget his faults? Yes, gladly. But to forget his faults is to forget the man, and the man you insist we shall remember. So I insist that, if we must remember him, we shall remember him as he was. Take away his faults, and, in a public view, there is nothing left. For beyond such ordinary virtues as he possibly possessed in common with ordinary mortals, what surpassing virtue had he? Talents he had, but he used them unworthily. Are we to worship those? I have no hatred for General Grant or for any other bad man. They, like the rest of us, do the best they know. All evil at bottom is only ignorance. Hence, if his friends would let him die quietly, so would I. What I object to is this singling out of a bad man’s life as ideal or in any way exemplary. Did we not have enough of this in Garfield’s case? Now that Garfield’s real character is becoming manifest, what humiliation must his old-time eulogists feel! Let them heed this warning against a repetition of the experience. For just as surely as James A. Garfield will go down to history an object of universal contempt, just so surely will Ulysses S. Grant go down to history an object of universal horror.
Consolation for Anarchists.
An Anarchist has reason for rejoicing over the formation of the new administration. The interest he takes in politics being, as the editor of Liberty has neatly put it, that which a man takes in his chief enemy, he can survey the new adjustment of wheels with great equanimity, even pleasure. For it will be liable to take the country a long and unsuspected step toward Anarchy.
President Cleveland is a man who will carry to an extreme, from the standpoint of even his own party, the dispersion of official powers and privileges. There will be no assumption of new honors, no avaricious grasping of added dignities and powers under his hand. If his character does not undergo a great change from what it has been during his administration of the affairs of New York, he will devote himself a great deal more assiduously to the official routine of his position than to shining as the president of fifty-five millions of people. All of which will be the best thing for Anarchy that could happen. For to dwarf the presidency to the occupation of an official desk will be the next thing to proving its uselessness.
Anarchists can be well pleased with the main part of the cabinet, too, because it is weak. The principal exception is Bayard, the strongest man of the group, whose recent attitude on the dynamite question justified Senator Riddleberger’s objection. The appointment of Manning and Vilas was in evident reward of their party services and proved that even Cleveland, the mugwump idol, cannot be trusted on the conventional civil service reform idea. Wherein their appointment, too, is good for Anarchy. They are men who will work for their own aggrandizement and continue to keep professional politics an offence to the nostrils of decent people. Wherein again that appointment is good for Anarchy. The three or four members who are fairly honorable, scholarly men who can write polished reports and carry the honors of office with decorum and dignity, won’t be able to centralize, strengthen, and extend the authority and powers of their respective departments. Senator Bayard is the only monitor of the new administration who will attempt to exalt the national honor, power, and dignity. The rest of them, if office does not change their characters, will make their offices seem much less important than they do now in the eyes of people who ever use those organs.
A “Moral” Contract.
During a short term of residence in Lowell, I noticed that a large proportion of the inhabitants were regular attendants at church. The religiosity of the community struck me as somewhat phenomenal. It was apparently a priest-ridden city, and therefore not a very promising field for Anarchistic labors. But I made a discovery which indicated that the people were more completely under the control of the corporations than I had supposed. In the Boott Cotton Mills are posted printed regulations, from which I quote two significant paragraphs:
“The company recommend regular attendance on public worship on the Sabbath, as they consider it necessary for the preservation of good order and morals.”
“These regulations are considered part of the contract with all persons entering into the employment of the Boott Cotton Mills.”
Nothing less than an order to slaves from masters to attend church. It is a part of the contract, all the terms of which are fixed by one party. The gentlemen who build mills and kindly permit skilled workers to toil for them are much concerned for the welfare of the drudges. They recommend frugality and cut down wages to compel the workers to practise the virtue, and then they send the poor devils to church that they may learn humility and obedience. The capitalists consider it necessary for the preservation of morals that the workingmen and women should have no day of recreation, no time to think and study for themselves. When their bellies are empty and clamorous, the drudges may seek the consolations of religion, which teaches them that poverty is a virtue and their reward will come in the heavenly hereafter. But for the beneficent influence of the church and the teachings of priests, the poor, swindled workers might demand the reward of their labor in this life and greatly embarrass the pious proprietors of the Boott Mills.
Beasts are governed by or through their imagination as much as by either love or force. That of horses and asses is continually attested by their shying at the least unusual object on the road, sometimes merely at noises, the cause of which they do not see. Dogs betray it by dream barking, and also behave as if they saw ghosts on some occasions. It is vain to try protecting grape vines or rose bushes from goats by any quantity or disposition of brush, upon the ground; but ornament the top of your easily-climbed rail fence with a little of the same, aud it becomes a safe barrier.
Passing from beasts to men, we find superstitious imaginings most rife among the races and classes nearest beasts by their ignorance and simplicity. Hence the reverence for authority on which religions build, and, after them, secular governments.
A natural effect of heredity, against which reformers need to be continually on their guard, and which is now cropping out among Socialists, is the proclivity to superstition in which only some names and superficial forms have been changed in their recent and but partial emancipation. Thus, for the fabled Jehovah, on whom all sorts of attributes were lavished according to the whim of the worshipper, we find Socialists substituting an ideal State, to which, after the gratuitous ascription of justice and wisdom, they propose to surrender the soil, at the same time that they confirm in its possession the actual and fatally abused faculty of money making. This baseless confidence, flying in the face of a sinister experience, is the more dangerous from the bait that it throws out to agriculture. Its paper coinage, bolstered by political fanaticism, will, of course, have a certain run. Farmers, generally moneyless, may be easily seduced by the Socialist offer of State purchase, filling their pockets with greenbacks, while continuing their hold upon the land as tenants, whose rent shall be a simple commutation of their previous rates and taxes.
Money plenty, and exchanges facilitated still further by cheap transportation, when by the same hocus pocus of greenbacks the Government owns the railroads, extravagance will be the order of the day; a fabulous prosperity will seem to have dawned upon us. Next to the great capitalist land and railroad owners of today, whose coffers will be filled to overflowing upon Europe, the class most apparently benefited will be the farmers resilient near railroads and getting cheaper rates of transportation. Under our revenue system the artisan masses will be chiefly privileged by the honor of paying interest on the new debts contracted. During this nitrous oxide jubilee the country will be drained of specie to pay for foreign luxuries of fantastic and evanescent value, the natural demagogues will have gotten possession of State offices more numerous than ever, and when, after a year or so, the financial bubble bursts, the bankrupt nation will be all the more completely enslaved to its government, whose officers control the mass of real values in land, and the means of transportation and of communication, either postal or telegraphic.
Here is the statement, made by “Truth” (San Francisco, June, 1884), “The Organ of Scientific Socialism in America,” and from the pen of William Harrison Riley:
The government should undertake the stewardship of the land and pay the present “so-called” owners thereof a fair valuation in greenbacks. Actual cultivators should be permitted to retain the use of their farms, and should pay a fair rent for such use. Then all taxes and rates should be abolished, and the rents be applied to the public service. The railways and telegraphs would become public property, and the income from these and the land would amply suffice for all public works, and the farmers would gain by the change, as the rent they would pay would be less than the taxes and rates they had previously paid.
Mr. Riley ought to be a happy man, for he carries an Aladdin’s lamp in his brain. He has, however, moments of sober resipiscence, as in adding: “This estimate, however, is based on the assumption that the government has ceased to be a tool of the usurers, has ceased to pay interest, abolished all sinecure offices, and that its work is wholly for the good of the people.” Vanus hominum mentes! Such a government will have eaten its own head. See the fascination of the serpent eye, by which this superstition of government controls the mind even of him who writhes against it, sighing, “Alas! there is no reason for hope that the government will soon become honest.”
So far from giving up the government idea, this Socialist, who sees and criticises well enough our existing evils and the perfidies of our “representative” government as their cause, would initiate their care by making all governments increase their issues of money, to which he gives the name “certificates of credit,” free of interest.
This sophism of an honest government, issuing paper credits ad libitum, is to precede the other sophism of the honest government buying up the soil and the railroads and telegraphs, and assuming the functions of stewardship. He is psychologized with the government-idea, just as the church-ridden bigot is with the God-idea. The latter, instead of confessing natural law and dealing directly with natural forces, must first imagine God, and then imagine God creating Nature and ruling it as with a human will. So the besotted Socialist must first imagine his honest government (in contravention of all human experience), and then set this honest government to doing what enterprise and faculty already are doing so effectively, and which only the intermeddling of government by privilege prevents from being to our general good.
Nearly all our evils are due to the unwholesome ascendant given to commerce over production and to manufactures over agricultural production by the privileges of banking, land grants, and protective tariffs. Add to these the two parasite armies created by and for revenue, from indirect taxation, the civil and the military, and you have nearly exhausted the functions of government. Its judiciary we could quite as well dispense with.
From the Socialist programme precited three corollaries flow. Let us study them.
Corollary 1. — Confirmation of past injustice and privilege: new millions to be paid out of the pockets of the taxed people to the Huntingdons and Vanderbilts, paying them for having received a donation, sums equal to what may remain of the original donations, for constructing railroads, which, where constructed, may have already paid immense dividends, and which either remain the property of their contractors, or else become the subject of fresh government purchases, saddling the people with additional taxes. These costs are certain, and will fall on all of us; while the benefit of such purchase must depend on the honesty and wise economy of government officers (which, of course, has always been proverbial). Farthermore, supposing the railroad management and land agent management honest and wise, the profits accruing from them inhere chiefly to the small class of great capitalists, bondholders, already swollen to monstrosity by gratuitous deeds of land (hundreds of millions of acres), with banking privileges still more onerous and dangerous to the people, and, to crown all, exemption of their bonds from taxation.
Corollary 2. — Functions created for an additional army of office holders as land stewards to be paid from taxation
Corollary 3. — Closer dependency of the rentee on the good will of the land steward, opening for fresh privilege favoritism, oppression, bribery, and corruption. This hook is covered with the bait of ready money. The needy farmer will be paid in government paper for his farm, and still is assured he shall retain its use. Still farther, he is told, on the one hand, that he will not be taxed beyond the rent he pays to government, and that this rent shall be less than the taxes and rates previously paid.
“Tell that to the marines.”
With the new issues of greenbacks for these purchases, perhaps doubling or trebling the actual circulation, prices are bound to rise, and experience has proved that wages never rise in proportion with them. A much larger class will then be depressed to the verge of starvation, as in Europe. For awhile, the increase of money stimulating exchanges, business will be very active; the increased importation of luxuries consequent involves shipments of grains, meat, and specie to other countries, rendering the necessaries dearer at home, with a currency more and more dependent on the mere credit of government. Hence the strengthening of the ties of dependency between all moneyed classes and the government, whose collapse would ruin them; hence the urgency for a strong and well-disciplined army as national police force, with all the consequences of a military despotism.
Burning the People’s Money.
Henry Maret, a member of the Extreme Left in the French Chamber of Deputies, wrote as follows in his newspaper, “Le Radical,” more than a fortnight before Gambetta’s disciple and successor, Premier Ferry, came to grief, in the prosecution of his outrageous campaign against China:
Each day brings us news of a great victory in Tonquin.
Each tomorrow brings us news that we are no more advanced than before.
No battles in the open field, nothing but assaults. The Chinese intrench themselves; our soldiers valiantly carry the redoubts; many dead, many wounded. Nothing ended, nothing even gained. All is to begin over again, all to do over again. After the Chinese intrenched more Chinese intrenched; another assault; more dead; more wounded. And nothing further. It is the endless wheel, which rolls on crushing bodies in its path and leads nowhither.
Now, it seems, we are to be asked for fifty millions and twenty thousand men more.
You have seen a huge iron-works furnace, those immense masses of live coals, into which day and night naked laborers throw combustibles after combustibles, which immediately disappear, are immediately swallowed up, to be immediately replaced by others. Such is Tonquin, with this difference,— that factory furnaces keep powerful machines in motion, while the blood and money of France move nothing but the operations of the stock-market.
Fifty millions when there is a deficit in the budget, when we have spent a whole year in higgling over credits, when the receipts are diminishing, when the crisis is increasing in intensity; twenty thousand men today, forty thousand tomorrow, the best of our blood flowing drop by drop from out this wound,— that is the spectacle which we are witnessing, calm, almost indifferent, dreaming neither of the responsibilities incurred nor of the future that threatens.
And this war, which is beginning to assume frightful aspects, is not yet war at all. I hope that, when we shall be asked for an authorization to march on Pekin, we shall call a cat a cat, and that we shall hear at last this terrible word which seems to be so much more fearful than the thing itself. The majority, which ought to look upon this as a fratricidal war, being itself composed of Chinese baboons who know nothing but how to say yes to everything that is asked of them,— the majority will vote funds, men, and all. And we shall march on Pekin. To do what?
If they tell me: “To pillage,” I shall answer: “That is vulgar,” but I shall understand. They will not tell me that. They will say: “To make peace.”
This reminds me of that pretty story of Pyrrhus describing to a sage his schemes of conquest.
“We will capture this, then that.”
“We will go to the North.”
“We will return by way of the South.”
“When we have conquered everything, we will come back to our homes and rest.”
“Why not begin there?” said the sage. “Can we not rest now?”
Since peace is the end that we have in view, why not remain at peace, and why destroy it in order to attain it? But we shall have advantages! What? Who will repay us our lost gold? Who will restore us our soldiers? Are a few kilometres of uninhabitable land, where fever decimates the population, worth all this massacre and all this ruin?
Unhappily, in this government of sages, as Ferry modestly calls himself, sagacity is what is most lacking. The finger has been inserted in the gearing, then the hand, then the arm; soon the whole body will disappear. Now, how are we to make people listen to reason who think of nothing but the approaching elections, to whom the whole future is bounded by the next few months, who do not see beyond the parliamentary horizon, and who will believe that all is saved if they keep their seats and their portfolios.
Where we need statesmen we have only men of circumstance; where we need citizens we have only candidates.
Judge Lynch’s the Supreme Court.
To the editor of Liberty:
I have long been a reader of the “Truth Seeker,” and for several months past have been a reader of Liberty; and, if Liberty was filled with Anarchism, or the science that underlies our social system, I would like it much better. I have given the subject all the thought I possibly could, and at the same time have been thoroughly examining the claims of State Socialism. After having passed through the various phases of belief from Christianity up to Anarchism, including Communism, I am compelled to say that Anarchism appears to me the nearest a true ideal of anything that has yet been advanced. The result is that, until I see something better presented, I think I may safely announce myself an Anarchist. I read everything I can afford on the subject, and analyze what I read and compare it with my experience in life.
This leads me to the reference of the editor of the “Truth Seeker” to vigilance committees on the frontier. I have spent the last ten years of my life on the extreme frontier, and now for the first time in ten years am a resident of a so-called civilized town. Hence I know something of the operations of vigilance committees. And I am fully persuaded that, in the entire absence of civil law, volunteer associations for self protection discount all other methods for bringing peace, harmony, and security out of chaos. The only trouble I have ever known to result from acts of vigilance committees has been easily traced by a sound reasoner to the civil law itself. I have never known summary justice meted out to offenders by the best element of a frontier town but what it had the desired effect upon offenders. The difficulty generally is that people delay action too often in deference to civil law, and never take matters in their own hands until absolutely compelled to for their own safety. The best people are Anarchists if they only knew it. The worst elements themselves often form vigilance committees, and commit crime under the guise of administering justice; but, if there was no civil law, the best elements would always prevail against the criminal class. Even as it is, I have never known a frontier town that was not purified and civilized and made habitable by the best elements of society before civil law could assert itself. I saw five men shot down (killed, I mean) one morning before breakfast in a frontier town,— three robbers or “hold-ups,” and a citizen and the deputy sheriff. It was done by the citizens. Before this the deputy sheriff was a mere figure-head, powerless to enforce civil law. He was from necessity rather a protection to than a restrainer of wrong-doing. I could say much more on this subject, which would be confirmed by hundreds on the frontier.
J. Allen Evans.
Greeley, Colorado, February 22, 1885.
What’s in a Name?
Give a dog a bad name and hang him. Give a man a bad name — Anarchist, for example — and hang him by all means. Anarchist is a very bad name indeed. The comfortable landlord or capitalist cries to the Collectivist, “What you propose would land you, not in Utopia, as you expect, but in anarchy.” The Collectivist retorts, “What have we at present but anarchy everywhere?” But the capitalist knows better than that. He points to the omnipresent “iron laws” which on other occasions the Collectivist himself has often pointed out, and presses for instances of anarchy. The Collectivist, thus hard put to it, retracts his generalization, but maintains that, though there is system and socialization in production, there is anarchy in exchange. By which, as it presently appears, he means that exchange is controlled by a few private persons; that it is a monopoly; that, in short, what he is complaining of is not Anarchy at all, but despotism. But he does not cease to use the word anarchy, nor will he admit that he has misapplied it; for the Collectivists believe in the infallibility of their Pope, Karl Marx; and he said some hard things once of Anarchism, as indeed he did, in the exuberance of his talent for hard hitting, about every “ism” that was not unquestioning Marxism. And so from both camps mud is thrown on the name of Anarchist. Then, it will be asked, why offend people’s sensibilities with it? Why not drop it? Simply because our enemies know better than to let us drop it. They will take care to keep it fastened tightly upon us; and if we disown it, and yet, when challenged home, cannot deny it, will it not appear that we are ashamed of it, and will not our shame justly condemn us unheard? No: we must live down calumny as many men, from primitive Christians to Quakers, and from Quakers to Socialists, have lived it down before us upon less occasion. What Socialists have done in England, Anarchists may do; for England is the fatherland of laissez-faire; and laissez-faire, in spite of all the stumblings it has brought upon itself by persistently holding its candle to the devil instead of to its own footsteps, is the torchbeaver of Anarchism. It is easy for the Collectivist to declare that Adam Smith, with his inveterate mistrust of all government, and his conviction that people can manage their own business better than any authority can manage it for them, was half a fool, and half a creatare of the mercantile classes; but the greatest work on political economy of the eighteenth century is not a proof of the author’s folly; nor is there much evidence of servility either in his comparison of a merchant with a common soldier, greatly to the advantage of the latter, or in the contemptuous allusions to “furious and disappointed monopolists,” and the like terms, with which his economies are interspersed. Adam Smith could hardly have anticipated that his lessons would be held up to odium by professed champions of liberty because the oppressors of mankind were clever enough to be the first to profit by them. But the time has come for English Socialists to consider whether the great Scotchman was really such a fool as some Collectivists seem to take him for. The late compromise of Liberals and Conservatives on the franchise was really a coalition brought about by the pressure of the growing Democracy on two parties, whose differences had long ceased to exist except as factious habits. The monopolist is at last face to face with the Socialist; and it must presently appear to all Englishmen that, instead of two sorts of monopolists — Whig and Tory — opposing one sort of Socialist, there are really two sorts of Socialists — Anarchist and Collectivist — confronting one solid body of monopolists. The Collectivists would drive the money-changers from Westminster only to replace them with a central administration, committee of public safety, or what not. Instead of “Victoria, by the Grace of God,” they would give us “the Superintendent of such and such an Industry, by the authority of the Democratic Federation,” or whatever body we are to make our master under the new dispensation. “Master” is certainly an ugly word for a “popular government,” the members of which are but Trustees for the people. “Trustees” is good; but is not a father better than a body of trustees? Shall the English nation be orphaned? The Russians have a father in the Czar: why should not we have a Czar? What objection would he be open to that does not apply to a popular government just as strongly? — nay, more so; for should either misbehave it is easier to remove one man than six hundred and seventy. Or is there freedom in a multitude of masters, as there is said to be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors (a remark made long before the British House of Commons devoted its energies to proving the contrary)? The sole valid protest against Czardom, individual or collective, is that of the Anarchist, who would call no man Master. Slavery is the complement of authority, and must disappear with it. If the slave indeed make the master, then the workers are slaves by choice, and to emancipate them tyranny. But if, as we believe, it is the master that makes the slave, we shall never get rid of slavery until we have got rid of authority. In favor of authority, from its simple enforcement by the rod in the nursery to its complex organization in “the minor state of siege,” there is much to be said on every ground except that of experience. Were there twice as much, it is the mission of the Anarchist to obstruct its coming and to hasten its banishment; to mistrust its expediency, however specious the instance; and to maintain incessant protest against all its forms throughout the world.
George Bernard Shaw.
Man’s Relation to the Land.
The relation of each person born into this world to the land is that of a helpless new-born child to its mother. Man is the natural and most highly developed product of the land, and can no more exist without its use than can the new-born babe exist without the use of its mother’s breast. And how it is that mankind have lost sight of this all-important truth, or, rather, up to this time have failed to discover it, is a problem not very encouraging to thinkers.
And yet in my opinion it is the basic and all-important problem that must be rightly solved, fully understood, and correctly reduced to practice before any considerable improvement of the condition of suffering humanity can be accomplished.
Why is it that this overshadowing problem has received so little attention in the past? And why do not the workers and thinkers of today give it the attention it demands of them.
Is it not largely chargeable to our educational institutions; to methods that are handed down to us from generation to generation, both political and religious: to Church and State, which cramp, mystify, and circumscribe our minds in a very limited circle by working on our fears and holding up to us the terrible tortures that will be meted out to us by their imaginary, vengeful God if we dare think and speak beyond the beaten traces and well-fixed boundaries of old conservatism and its unscientific, uneconomic, unendurable, demoralizing, oppressive institutions?
What have these twin sisters of oppression done for humanity during the ten thousand or more years of Paganism and Jewish predominance, of the nearly two thousand years of Christian existence? Have they not always fought science all along the line from its earliest introduction to the present time, and placed obstacles in the way of obtaining reliable, useful knowledge? These brazen-faced, self-constituted leaders and teachers of old conservatism have continuously and persistently taught the useful masses of mankind that their imaginary, vengeful God created this earth and appointed them his special agents to teach mankind the will of God and the way to Heaven, and they took particular care that the lands should be parceled out to the kings, priests, and their favorites, while they taught the people that it was sinful for them to think how they could make themselves comfortable or happy here, but that it was their highest duty, and one very pleasing to God, to think how they could make themselves very comfortable and happy after they were dead; and in that way they have succeeded too well in keeping the useful classes from considering and understanding their rights and duties, and thereby throwing off the cruel oppression that has so long been put upon them by their heartless leaders and teachers.
As the land is the only source from which men can draw their means of subsistence and supply their wants, and as the land is the product of nature and a free gift to the race, what right or guarantee has any person to live at all, if he has not the natural right to the use of as much land as is necessary to supply his wants?
Much could be said in support of the above axiomatic statement, but if there are any truths that are self-evident, the above, I think, belongs to that category.
And I am satisfied to submit it to the earnest consideration of all fair-minded persons.
Important Anarchistic Accessions.
The Chicago “Radical Review,” which for some time has been bravely and earnestly fighting for ideas more or less liberal, announces in its last issue that it must give up the ghost for want of support. But its editors, George and Emma Schumm, couple the announcement with the following excellent statement of the Anarchistic faith and acknowledgment of their conversion thereto:
Yes, we are still loyal to the ideal of our early youth,— the ideal of a world of strong, true men and noble women. It has indeed become more rounded, more beautiful, and more imperious. In one capacity or another we shall still serve it in the future, for we are dissatisfied to the core with the present order of things. We also still regard the diffusion of Truth and Liberty among the people as the grand means for the realization of our hopes for the world, though, if we continued the “Review,” we should pursue a more radical advocacy of Liberty, and place less faith in democratic institutions than we have done. Not, indeed, as though we looked with favor upon aristocratic or monarchical institutions, but because we have come to consider democracy, with its questionable expediency of majority rule, as an obstacle in the way of Liberty and the rule of conscience, which alone are the true conditions of progress and social well-being. We have no doubt that the democratization of the government of this country, such as we have heretofore advocated, and which contemplated a more direct participation in the affairs of state by the people than they now have, would denote a great improvement on the present system. But there would still remain the danger of the exploitation of democratic institutions by the cunning and unscrupulous few; and despotism screened by parliamentary forms is always more dangerous to the life and welfare of a people than the despotism of an absolute monarch. And even if the exploitation of democratic institutions by oppression and tyranny might be prevented, no scheme aiming merely at the improvement of the present governmental machinery would reach the root of the evil to be removed. That will be reached only by the abolition of all government based on force; and it makes no difference whether this force is that of an absolute ruler, of an aristocratic minority, or of a democratic majority. The intrinsic quality of force is the same in all these instances, and its total elimination from society is unmistakably the watchword of the future,— that is, if the future will come under the sway of reason and morality, as we have an abiding faith that it will.
This is not the place to elaborate these views at which we have recently, but by no means suddenly or carelessly arrived. We will only say that they are in a direct line of descent from views that we have heretofore held. The individual has ever been sacred to us. We have always earnestly opposed every scheme like Communism that tended to repress him. We have always approved only of those schemes that, as it seemed to us, provided for the development and expansion of the individual, like Democracy. But we now see that Democracy does not offer the most favorable conditions for the individual. These conditions are provided only by Anarchism,—that is, by a society based on voluntary association of all its members, and where all matters are conducted on the basis of free contracts.
That, says our friend, is a distant goal, and he doubts whether it will ever be reached. But it is enough for us that it is a true goal, one that we must reach, and that we shall reach the sooner the sooner we resolve to do it. Such is our faith!
This is a Lie.
The “Alarm” is the only English paper in America that advocates the complete emancipation of labor.
The Economical Dinner Party.
A wily Crocodile,
Who dwelt upon the Nile,
Rethought himself one day to give a dinner.
“Economy,” said he,
“Is chief of all with me,
And shall considered be — as I’m a sinner.”
With paper, pen, and ink,
He sat him down to think,
And first of all Sir Lion he invited;
The Northern Wolf, who dwells.
In rocky Arctic dells;
The Leopard and the Lynx, by blood united;
Then Mr. Fox, the shrewd,—
No lover he of good,—
And Madam Duck, with sober step and stately,
And Mr. Frog, serene
In garb of bottle green,
Who warbled bass and bore himself sedately.
Sir Crocodile, content,
The invitation sent;
The day was come — his guests were all assembled;
They fancied that some guile
Lurked in his ample smile;
Each on the other looked, and somewhat trembled.
A lengthy time they wait,
Their hunger waxes great,
And still the host in conversation dallies;
At last the table’s laid
With covered dishes spread,
And out, in haste, the hungry party sallies.
But when — the covers raised —
On empty plates they gazed.
Each on the other looked with dire intentions
Ma’am Duck sat last of all,
And Mr. Frog was small,
She softly swallowed him, and made no mention.
This Mr. Fox perceives,
And saying, “By your leaves
Some punishment is due for this transgression,”
He gobbled her in haste;
Then much to his distaste
By Mr. Lynx was taken in possession.
The Wolf without a pause —
In spite of teeth and claws —
Left nothing of the Lynx to tell the story;
The Leopard, all irate
At his relation’s fate,
Made mincemeat of that wolfish monster hoary.
The Lion raised his head —
“Since I am King,” he said,
“It ill befits the King to lack his dinner!”
Then on the Leopard sprang
With might of claw and fang,
And made a meal upon that spotted sinner.
Then saw in sudden fear
Sir Crocodile draw near,
And heard him speak, with feelings of distraction:
“Since all of you have dined,
Well suited to your mind,
You surely cannot grudge me satisfaction.”
And sooth a deal of guile
Lurked in his ample smile,
And down his throat the roaring Lion hasted.
“Economy, with me.
Is chief of all,” said he,
“And I am glad to see there’s nothing wasted.”
E. V. Blake.
The Prize Goose is a Michigander.
[Detroit Labor Leaf.]
That which is at any time the will of the people is right. There is no higher court; there is no higher law; and that person who would set his judgment against the judgment of the whole people is rash. He may advise or plead for a change, but the decision of the people must be expressed before his judgment can be confirmed as right.
This Seems Profound. Is It?
[Detroit Labor Leaf.]
The Trades-Unionists and Knights of Labor cry, “Organize! Organize! Organize!” The Socialists, “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” The Cooperators, “Cooperate! Cooperate! Cooperate!” The Individualists, “Prudential restraint! Prudential restraint. Prudential restraint!” The Anarchists, “Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” While the philosopher looks on in cold indifference, knowing that they are all struggling for the right, and are only factors in the eternal purposes of nature, governed by her laws! But behind all this there stands the phantom of hope, and we listen with credulity to the whisperings of fancy.