Liberty Vol. IV. No. 7.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The editor of the “Publishers’ Weekly,” in compiling his “Weekly Record of New Publications,” classifies the “Letter to Grover Cleveland” under the following head: “Spooner, Lysander (pseud. for B. R. Tucker?).” I take off my hat to the editor of the “Publishers’ Weekly” in gratitude for this magnificent compliment, which I am obliged in honesty to decline. Lysander Spooner is no pseudonym, but the real name of a very live man, who has been writing books for over half a century, some of which have won great fame. If the editor of the “Publishers’ Weekly” is not aware of this, it is high time for him to inform himself.
“Foundation Principles,” of Clinton, Iowa, in a notice of Lysander Spooner’s “Letter to Grover Cleveland,” says: “We never could understand Mr. Spooner’s idea of free banking — free money, as we understand money — something that will pay debts. We should as soon think of a free post-office system as of a free money system, one in which everybody who chose could issue that which everybody else must take as money.” After reading the second of these two sentences, especially the words which I have italicized, I am quite ready to believe the first. Nothing could be farther from Mr. Spooner’s idea than that any money should be forced upon any one. He has expressed his opposition to legal tender laws and his views on all other phases of the money question in language so clear and forcible that, if Editor Waisbrooker doesn’t understand him, it is nobody’s fault but her own.
In these days of boycott trials a great deal of nonsense is being talked and written regarding “blackmail.” This is a question of human rights which the principle of Liberty settles at once. It may be well to state the verdict boldly and baldly. Here it is. Any individual may place any condition he chooses, provided the condition be not in itself invasive, upon the doing or not doing of anything which he has a right to do or not do; but no individual can rightfully be a party to any bargain which makes a necessarily invasive condition incumbent upon any of the contracting parties. From which it follows that an individual may rightfully “extort” money from another by “threatening” him with certain consequences, provided those consequences are of such a nature that he can cause them without infringing upon anybody’s rights. Such “extortion” is generally rather mean business, but there are circumstances under which the most high-minded of men might resort to it without doing violence to his instincts, and under no circumstances is it invasive and therefore wrongful unless the act threatened is invasive and therefore wrongful. Therefore to punish men who have taken money for lifting a boycott is oppression pure and simple. Whatever may be the “common law” or the “statute law” of blackmail, this — to use Mr. Spooner’s phrase — is the natural law that governs it.
A Request Complied With.
The editor of the “Civil Service Reformer” sends us a copy of his journal, containing a letter oy Dr. Ely, of the Johns Hopkins University, addressed to the Knights of labor, and asks us to reprint it in whole or in part. He also asks us to kindly send him any editorial comment we may make upon the letter.
To print the whole of the letter would take a page and a half of the valuable space of the “Newsman,” which is impossible. To reprint a part of it is equally impossible, for we want no part of the man who has conspicuously misrepresented existing social movements in behalf of labor.
The comment that we have to make on Dr. Ely’s letter, and which we kindly send to the editor of the “Civil Service Reformer” for publication, is that the kind of civil service reform which the country now most needs is for the millionaire senate and the vile and venal house of representatives of the United States to lock up their doors, go home and mind their own business, earn an honest living, and let decent people alone.
The “Philosophical Anarchists.”
Looking over the field of Anarchistic activity, methinks I see a great danger forthcoming. Anarchism is becoming “respectable.” The “philosophical” and “pacific” Anarchists of the Liberty type have lately been taken kindly to and shown much sympathy by a sort of people whose friendship would thee greatest misfortune and disgrace to any serious movement. These are friends that Liberty must be saved from. “Another such a victory, and we are lost!” The cause of this love and patronizing cordiality is to be found in the fact that Liberty vigorously denounced the actions of the Chicago and New York Communists, and dates its origin from the time those utterances were made,— utterances that have brought much comfort to the reaction and that were gloriously soothing to the troubled hearts of the property beasts.
I do not wish to be understood as opposing the position Liberty has taken on the question of force, nor as criticising the form in which the protest has been expressed. Liberty wages relentless war against all forms of tyranny and compulsion, and, whether the assaults on individual liberty are made by soulless schemers in the name of “law and order” or by sincere, self-sacrificing, but misguided, friends of liberty and justice, the principle is the same in both, and the true Anarchist is bound to condemn it in either. The Anarchist is the antipode of the partisan, and will never hesitate to express his real sentiments, even if by so doing he strengthens the hands of the enemy.
But, having done his duty, the Anarchist should make it clear to the oppressor that he knows how to discriminate between a bitter foe, to whom no mercy is to be shown and no quarter given, and a friend, whom we do not cease to love and honor despite the severe reproof and censure we may be compelled to pass upon his hasty and irrational actions. I fully agree with friend Tucker that violence is no remedy for social evils, and that reformers should appeal to the intelligence and “better nature” of the victim., of our monstrous system rather than to the baser passions and low instincts of the human being. I heartily endorse every word he said in regard to the peculiar ideas and methods of the “Alarm” and “Freiheit” school. But more than I abhor unnecessary violence do I detest Christian meekness and all-forgiving love in a radical. Too much force is decidedly wrong; but too little force and a Quakerish opposition to it is still more repulsive to manliness and the spirit of justice. In consequence of Liberty’s hostile attitude toward the Anarchistic Communists, who have made life extremely unpleasant to some people, Anarchism has come to be regarded as a very harmless thing, a soft of spiritual amusement for kid-gloved reformers, which need not in the least interfere with business and the pursuit of pleasure, as it does not deal with the here and the now. Clergymen, capitalistic editors, and labor reformers begin to smile on “philosophical Anarchy,” pronounce it a very sweet and charming thing — to be realized a thousand years hence; some kind people go so far as to admit that Anarchy is the Christian ideal, the millennium, the “triumph of law and order.” At any rate, it is agreed that Anarchism is no factor in the labor movement, and that neither good nor harm is to be expected from it. Indeed, can there be any objection on the part of those who own the earth to the existence of a class of cultured visionaries who love to dream about a perfect state of society, of a time when crime and vice will have disappeared from the face of the earth and all men will he perfect and wise?
Shades of Proudhon and Bakounine! Is it for this that you lived and worked? No wonder that many of our best friends are disgusted. Now, as one of the “philosophical Anarchists,” I protest against this misrepresentation of Anarchism. Anarchism means war,— war upon all government, all authority, and all forms of slavery. We have a right to use force and resist by all means the invasion of the self-constituted rulers, and we shall not hesitate to bring into play the “resources of civilization” when necessity calls for it and when maddened authority leaves us no alternative. We are all “rebels to the law,” and the monopolists and the prostituted editorial Mammon worshippers need not favor us more than they do the Chicago “fiends.” The followers of Liberty are even more dangerous to “law and order” than the bomb-throwers, and, judging from certain indications, we may be compelled to do a little bomb-throwing before long. Let tyranny beware, and let respectability undeceive itself!
[While giving hearty assent to what I take to be Mr. Yarros’s general meaning in the above article, I desire to be a little more explicit. The words “philosophical” and “pacific” do not trouble me, no matter who applies them. They certainly correctly describe the attitude and methods of the individualistic Anarchists; why, then, object to them? If there are those who choose to smile patronizingly or contemptuously upon these methods as harmless (I confess I have not seen so much of this as Mr. Yarros seems to find), I simply answer them with the words of Proudhon to the French Assembly of 1848, which grew hilarious over his remarks: “I am sorry, citizens, that what I say to you makes you laugh so heartily, for what I am saying will kill you.” It is because peaceful agitation and passive resistance are, in Liberty’s hands, weapons more deadly to tyranny than any others that I uphold them, and it is because brute force strengthens tyranny that I condemn it. War and authority are companions; peace and liberty are companions. The methods and necessities of war involve arbitrary discipline and dictatorship. So-called “war measures” are almost always violations of rights. Even war for liberty is sure to breed the spirit of authority, with after effects unforeseen and incalculable. Striking evidence of this is to be found in the change that has taken place, not only in the government, but in the people, since our civil war. There are times when society must accept the evils and risks of such heroic treatment, but it is foolish in the extreme, not only to resort to it before necessity compels, but especially to madly create the conditions that will lead to this necessity. Taking this view of the matter, I cannot quite approve Mr. Yarros’s distinction between “too much force” and “too little force.” As a general thing, when force becomes necessary, the wiser way is to use as much as possible as promptly as possible; and, until it becomes necessary, there cannot be too little force. This is the policy of Liberty, and its editor will pursue it with the same serenity and steadfastness, whether the clergy contemptuously call him “philosopher” or the Communists angrily call him “coward.” As Mr. Yarros has coupled my denunciations of the New York and Chicago Communists, I wish to explain that I make a vast difference between the motives that govern these two classes. The New York firebugs are contemptible villains; the Chicago Communists I look upon as brave and earnest men and women. That does not prevent them from being equally mistaken. — Editor Liberty.]
Eighteen Christian Centuries:
Or, The Evolution of the Gospel of Anarchy.
An Essay on the Meaning of History. By Dyer D. Lum.
Continued from No. 84.
The Moslem infidel worshipped God where the Mother of God had been adored by Christian piety. Carthage, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, had ceased to be Christian bishopries. Constantinople remained, but shorn of its prestige. Rome alone could wield the power it had so long and unceasingly claimed; but, divorced from the Orient, the battle was to be waged under Western influences. But even Rome needed allies. Her great designs for the extension of Imperialism required an arm of flesh to attain execution. At her doors lay the rapidly growing Lombard State, standing alone in the possession of settled government, with strength and valor to maintain it. What might have been had Christianity sought shelter under Lombard protection cannot be told; what has been is indelibly inscribed in centuries of Caesarian persecution and rule. The systematic development of the Messianic claim could seek shelter only for the purpose of attaining domination. There was an implacable antipathy between the Roman and the Lombard; but it is not an inexplicable one to those who study the logic of these facts, and see in this struggle between the Roman and the Teuton the great historic contest between Authority and Liberty.
In the West France alone seemed equal to the task. The alliance we have seen entered into made them friends. The work begun by the monks in Germany was bearing fruit, though its cultivation was yet to require thirty years of bloodshed. Henceforth France was to be the eldest son of the Church. Unfortunately for the pious fame of Charles Martel, he had laid hands upon the territory of the Church to replenish the treasury, which wars against the enemies of the Church had emptied. The haughty ecclesiastics denounced him as a pagan; later, St. Eucherius, of holy tame, had the pious satisfaction of seeing him “delivered over to the torments of the damned in the lowest regions of hell.” The pope pathetically entreated the aid of Charles to expel the hated Lombard; but what Charles had been unwilling to undertake, his son was zealous to perform. But favors sought require favors in return. Pepin resolved to seize Time by the forelock. The Merovingian line of fainéant kings had long been puppets in the hands of the powerful mayors of the palace. What even Charles had hesitated to do, Pepin determined to accomplish. To usurp the throne was easy; to hold it he sought the papal consecration. He sent an embassy to Pope Zacharias to inquire: “Whether it was better that one who wielded no authority in the land should retain the name of king, or that it should be transferred to him who really exercised the royal power?” Zacharias answered: “He should be called king who had the proper wisdom and power for the office, and not he who was king only in name.” In future ages Napoleon would plead the same reason for his usurpation: Les carriéres aux talents. How ecclesiastics regarded the matter we find recorded in these words: “Zacharias, by his Apostolic authority, ordered Pepin to be made king.” Pepin called himself the Defender of the Holy Roman Church by divine appointment, and was confirmed in his succession for all time under penalty of interdict and excommunication, without regard to either wisdom or power. France gained the Carlovingian dynasty; Rome gained a pregnant precedent beside the needed aid. Pepin waged two campaigns in Lombardy, and was successful in destroying their rule at the battle of Paria. He bestowed upon the pope the extensive territory which, with but few changes, has since constituted the States of the Church. The pope became a temporal prince; he had been raised from temporal impotence to rank with the kings of earth. Henceforth society, says Guizot, “was impelled into a route which tended to make royalty prevail in the civil order, and papacy in the religious order.”
Is it strange that the Lombard bishop, Luitprand, should have said: “The Lombards, Saxons, Franks, Lorrainers, Bavarians, Sueves, Burgunds, comprehend in that one name of Roman whatever is ignoble, cowardly, avaricious, luxurious, false,— in a word, every vice”? As well expect figs from thistles as look for other fruit from the Messianic seed; planted in Roman soil, it became subject to the Roman genius. In the words of Dean Milman:
Christianity has now assumed the complete power, not only of the life to come, but of the present life, with all its temporal advantages. It now leagues itself with barbarians, not to soften, to civilize, to imbue with devotion, to lead to Christian worship: but to give victory in all their ruthless wars, to confer the blessings of heaven on all their schemes of ambition and conquest. The one title to eternal life is obedience to the Church.....The supreme obligation of man is the protection and enlargement of her domain. By zeal in this cause, without any other moral or religious qualification, the most bloody and brutal soldier is a saint in heaven.
We have dwelt upon the antecedents which led to the battle of Paria, because it was the death knell for centuries to Liberty. Order based on progress gave place to order based on authority. The Teutonic spirit would survive in secret to incite local insurrections, but long ages were to pass before it could safely face its foe. But not yet is the triumph complete; not yet has Caesarism attained its highest degree of grandeur.
Pepin’s son, Charlemagne, united the West into one kingdom and received from the pope (A. D. 800) the extinct title of Roman emperor. The alliance between State and Church continued. Pope Hadrian, in a tone of feudal lordship, addresses Charlemagne in these words: “As your men are not allowed to come to Rome without your permission and special letters, so my men must not be allowed to appear at the Court of the Franks without the same credentials from me.”
Although as emperor Charlemagne held and exercised feudal sovereignty over the clergy, who held their estates on the same tenure as the secular nobility, their real power was rather increased than curtailed. The great prelates still added acre to acre by the most unscrupulous means, and rose into an ecclesiastical aristocracy parallel to that of the secular nobility. Charlemagne’s death removed the strong hand from the sword of the State; Louis the Pious became heir to the Empire, but not to the genius of his father. The tendency of events was now to the increase of clerical, not secular power. An effort to reform abuses precipitated the conflict, and through the aid of the bishops Louis was degraded from his royal estate. The old Teutonic usage of division of power among sons prevailed over that of Roman unity. The Empire fell to pieces and disappeared as a unity, but there remained three tacts of prime importance: 1, the foundation of feudalism was laid, the sub-oidination of man to land, involving secular duties as well as rights; 2, the rise of nationalities, in which the Teutonic spirit was to find its cradle, and front which was to come in time the destruction of Roman unity; 3, for the time being, increase of papal power over the temporal sovereign.
Pepin had prostrated himself at the feet of Pope Stephen II., and had humbly walked beside his palfrey. Rome had given him a royal crown, and, in giving the imperial crown to his son, the world saw a papal gift. Legally, the only claim to imperial authority resided in the Eastern emperor, to whose predecessor had been sent the crown and insignia of authority upon the downfall of the Western division in the year 476. Charlemagne’s title, therefore, was founded on the right of the pope to bestow, or it was simply an usurpation. But with the right to grant, was there not also connected the right to deprive? “The Church,” says Hallam, “had tasted the pleasure of trampling upon crowned heads, and was eager to repeat the experiment.” Kings were boldly enjoined that they were not exempt from that general obedience laid upon all men by the Apostle. The councils of the Church were occupied with discussing the adulterous relations of sovereigns, which rendered them suppliants. The strife between secular and clerical power continued all through the ninth century; the bishops ever gaining ground and Rome retaining its hereditary haughty attitude. Nicholas I., Hadrian II., John VIII. were as bold in their claims of absolutism as any of the later popes. Danger from the dreaded Saracens who were already invading Italy, or the contumacious attitude of Gallican bishops, could not fiend the spirit of the Vicar of Christ. No pope has ever been more prolific with interdicts and excommunications than John VIII. In the year 887 the last vestige of the Carlovingian Empire disappeared; Rome remained the sole representative of unity. Hallam says: “It seemed as if Europe was about to pass under as absolute a domination of the hierarchy as had been exercised by the priesthood of ancient Egypt or the druids of Gaul,”
The tenth century is the midnight hour of the Dark Ages, the blackest period in the history of every Christian country. Europe was divided into petty provinces. Baron kings waged war on each other, and the people, herded like cattle, were the prey of all. The only ray of intellectual light which penetrated the darkness of Caesarian rule was that reflected from the Moorish cities in Spain. Buckle says;
In the whole period from the sixth to the tenth centuries there were not in all Europe more than three or four men who dared to think for themselves; and even they were obliged to veil their meaning in obscure and mystical language. The remaining part of society was, during those four centuries, sunk in the most degrading ignorance. Under these circumstances the few who wore able to read confined their studies to works which encouraged and strengthened their superstition, such as the legends of the saints and the homilies of the fathers. From these sources they drew their lying and impudent fables, of which the theology of that time is principally composed. These miserable stories were widely circulated, and were valued as solid and important truths. The more the literature was read, the more the stories were believed; in other words, the greater the learning, the greater the ignorance. And I entertain no doubt that, if all knowledge of the alphabet had for a time been lost, so that men could no longer read the books in which they delighted, the subsequent progress of Europe would have been more rapid than it really was. For, when the progress began, its principal antagonist was that credulity which the literature had fostered. There was the literature of Greece and Rome, which the monks not only preserved, but even occasionally looked into and copied. But what could that avail such readers as they? So far from recognizing the merit of the ancient writers, they were unable to feel even the beauties of their style, and trembled at the boldness of their inquiries. At the first glimpse of the light their eyes were blinded. They never turned the leaves of a pagan author without standing aghast at the risk they were running; and they were in constant fear lest, by imbibing any of their opinions, they should involve themselves in a deadly sin. The result was that they willingly laid aside the great masterpieces of antiquity; and in their place they substituted those wretched compilations which corrupted their taste, increased their credulity, strengthened their errors, and prolonged the ignorance of Europe, by embodying each separate superstition in a written and accessible form, thus perpetuating its influence, and enabling it to enfeeble the understanding even of a distant posterity.
In England, while the Danes were ravaging the country at once on every coast and in the interior, the secular and regular clergy were bitterly wrangling among themselves. In Spain the Saracens held the greater part of the country. In France the Normans were plundering the provinces, and the clergy devoted to increasing wealth wrung from unrequited toi Italy had entered upon its “Iron Age.” its princes arrayed against each other. Germany alone was rising into form, and con tending, with Italy, to preserve the fiction of the Holy Roman Empire. Christian Rome during this century entered upon its lowest depth of degradation. Popes succeeded each other only to be known for their vices and crimes. Sometimes but weeks or months in possession of the coveted tiara, to be hurled from the Apostolic throne by open revolt or treachery. In the four years preceding the opening of the tenth century, five popes had been consecrated. In 904 Leo V., in less than two months of his succession, was thrown into prison by one of his chaplains, who was, in turn, replaced by Sergius IV., who, after seven years of exile, became pontiff of the Church and the criminal lover of the celebrated prostitute, Theodora, a love shared by another, who in 915 became pope as John X. The power of Theodora kept Sergius in power for fourteen years, but he was finally overthrown, imprisoned, and murdered, by the intrigues of her daughter, Marozia. After a brief interval, she raised her son to the Holy See (and son of Pope Sergius) under the name of John XI. His brother threw him and his mother into prison, and four of his puppets followed each other as popes. Then came John XII., a grandson of the amorous Marozia, in 956, who was charged by a council of bishops with adultery, incest, with having made the Lateran a brothel, with murders, with having put out the eyes of one ecclesiastic and castrating another, besides other offences. In 963 he was deposed, but, again reinstated, his career of vengeance on his opposers was brought to an end in 965 by the poniard of an outraged husband. John XIII. had hardly assumed the pontificate before his haughtiness created a revolt, and he was driven from the city; he was subsequently reinstated, but in 972 was strangled in prison. His successor met the same fate. Another descendant of the celebrated Marozia became pope, after another had seized the office as the price of the murder of two popes (Benedict VII.), who, finding it impossible to retain his position, fled with the sacred vessels of the church of St. Peter. But in 983 he returns, seizes the throne again, and murders John XIV. in prison. On his death his corpse was dragged through the city by the populace. The consul of Rome, a grandson of the infamous Theodora and Pope John X., drove John XV. from the city, but he was reinstated by the emperor, Otho III.
The Germans cried loudly for reform. Too intensely Catholic to revolt, they preserved their old pagan love for chastity and hatred for debauchery and lust. The emperor tried in vain to stem the tide of Roman lasciviousness and crime by causing the election of a German pope. An anti-pope, John XVI., disputed the position with him, till seized by Otho, who put out his eyes, cut off his nose and tongue, and in this condition paraded him before the populace on an ass, with his face to the tail. The German enjoyed his triumph for a year, when he died from poison. He was followed in 999 by Silvester II., a graduate from the Mohammedan school of Cordova, and believed by his contemporaries to be a magician, wizard, and sorcerer. “In these deplorable days,” says Dr. Draper, “there was abundant reason to adopt the popular expectation that the end of all things was at hand, and that A. D. 1O00 would witness the destruction of the world. Society was dissolving, the human race was disappearing, and with difficulty the melancholy ruins of ancient civilization could be traced....Inaugurated in selfishness, it strengthens itself by violence, is perpetuated by ignorance, and yields, its inevitable result, social ruin.”
The belief that the end of the world was at hand but increased the appalling misery endured by the people, who, in some quarters, were actually feeding on human flesh! Wealth and lands flowed into the treasury of the church to a fabulous amount to secure ghostly privileges.
The eleventh century opens. Great as was the genius of Silvester II., he could not arrest the downward tendency. After four years’ pontificate he too fell a victim to the wiles of the poisoner. In the ensuing forty years nine popes succeed each other, all of them obscure save one, Benedict IX., “a boy not more than ten or twelve years old,” whose subsequent shameless life has given him greater fame. Says Mihnan:
For twelve years Benedict IX., under the protection of his powerful kindred, ruled in Rome (1033—1045), in the words of one of his successors, Victor III., lending a life so shameful, so foul and execrable, that he shuddered to describe it. He ruled like a captain of banditti rather than a prelate. Adulteries, homicides perpetrated by his own hand, passed unnoticed, unrevenged.
At last, finding his career run, he put up the Holy Apostolic succession to auction and knocked it down to the highest bidder, a presbyter, John, who became Gregory VI. And Christendom now saw the strange spectacle of three popes, each claiming to be the only original successor of Peter, and mutually anathematizing each other in the name of Christ.
But this long career of profligacy and vice was not unproductive of results. Through the power of the emperor, German integrity at last won its way to the tiara, and the inevitable ruin was stayed. Clerical immorality had shocked Europe. The human element in Christianity, the spirit of Jesus, called the spirit of Christ to account. Here is a fact of great importance. The individualism of the barbarian had been unconsciously modified by social interrelations; the human spirit of the gospels, the voice of nature, had silently operated on his character, and divine authority was asserted to be powerless over social morality. A thousand years had passed since the Messianic claim had been enunciated in Palestine, and a degradation more deep, and an ignorance more dense, than that which ruined the ancient city, had fallen on its Christian successor. The possession of authority by man over man had again worked out the result so often repeated in man’s martyrdom. Rome still claimed to be the City of God, though far different from the visioned one seen by Augustine. The increasing solidarity of peoples; the evolution, slow but steady, of a more complex social life, involving the recognition of social duties; the gradual infusion into the social web of the new element brought in by the Teuton conquerors, individual rights,— these were active causes to awaken Europe from its long lethargy.
[To be continued.]
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 84.
More than the command of the general and the order accompanied by blows from Sir Walpole, the thunder of imprecations hurled at them by the Bunclodyans, who were advancing, sullen and exasperated, determined them to leave Arklow.
They turned upon the inhabitants, and, without waiting for instructions, before Newington had finished inviting them to “charge this herd,” they pounced upon them, bounded on them like lions and tigers, roaring as if starving for human flesh, sniffing the odor of the blood which was flowing and for which they seemed thirty. Balls flew; they ended by creating a panic; and, completely routed, the Bunclodyans, covered with wounds, their limbs broken, hurriedly picking up those who had fallen, re-entered their houses. And Marian and Treor, carried away in the whirlwind, in spite of themselves, abandoned Edith.
“Sentinels at the end of every lane,” ordered the Duke, “and, at the opening of the first door or window, fire! fire! fire! all the cartridges in the cartridge-boxes! and, if necessary, set fire to the dens and smoke out the animals within like foxes.”
When all was quiet in the houses, and peace appeared established for the time, the Duke began to think about getting home, in order first to reassure the Duchess, and then to empty some bottles over the fortunate stranding of the attempt made upon his life, which his officers were still complimenting him upon having escaped.
But he had not gone far before he met the maledictions of Edith, still on her knees by the side of the dear dead body.
She straightened up, haggard, horrible, her face all bloody from the close embraces she had lavished on the dead, and, instantly, turned into a Fury, she leaped at the bridle of Newington’s horse; he let his hunting-whip fall on her, lacerating her face, and, putting spurs to his beast, he overthrew the crazed woman, who cried out to him:
“I will avenge myself, and my vengeance will be terrible.”
He broke into a trot, disdainful; she lifted herself, ran a few steps in pursuit of him, and then, with a last harsh virulent anathema in which there was a sound of prophecy, she faithfully resumed her pious post by the assassinated man, praying, now in despair, now in revolt, growing exhausted, shivering in anger, blaspheming heaven, shaken by sobs, or agitated by a frenzied desire for retaliation.
Long hours passed in these alternations, and the twilight came, enveloping all objects with its soft penumbra; but though ordinarily it calms the suffering of mortals, it did not lessen the terrors of the sad widow’s distress.
Reports broke the silence at intervals, and doleful cries rose in consequence of the terror inspired by the soldiers. Edith did not move, entirely absorbed in her own affliction, telling over and over the same mournful story punctuated with sobs.
“They have murdered him! His whole body is but a rag, tatters of flesh. His mouth, stretched by the breaking of his teeth, is the smallest hole in his good and honest face. His heart hangs from his breast, and, if I did not watch over it, the dogs and wolves would run to eat it. Ah! Newington! Oh! the ruffians who perpetrate for him these nameless crimes! Driven out of our shanties which they burn, killed, assassinated, our bodies left in the open air, we shall fail of our revenge!”
Wrought up to the highest pitch and springing up like a sudden apparition, erect and in an attitude for a sculptor, extending her arm tragically in the direction of the castle windows, which were now joyously lighted, she called on death, misery, all the miseries of humanity and all its shames, to fall upon this execrated place.
“In the fury of battle, may war overthrow the cursed stones, may an avenging hand consign it to the glaring flames, and may its guests perish in agonies like the most cruel, the most refined torments of hell!”
Treor tried once more to go to her, calm her grievous frenzy, and offer her his dwelling as a haven of rest and her dead the hospitality of a shroud. Several balls flattened themselves simultaneously against the walls, falling all around him or cutting the branches of the trees over his head, and Marian appeared on the threshold of their house to follow him, for he did not draw back. The soldiers rushed at them, drove them back with the force of a waterspout, and a sentinel planted himself before the house. At the first word of parleying, he would recall his comrades, and they would sack the dwelling.
So Edith watched the dead man alone, in the open air, in the night, without the light of a candle. The stars! they shone alike and without reluctance upon the assassins and the victim, as indifferent to heroism and abnegation as to the horrors of the unspeakable crime. The blood of the oppressed did not splash the purity of the sky; the smoke of the huts of the poor which the tyrants had burned did not sully its vault of stainless blue.
Even God, in his Paradise, his saints, his son, the mother of his son, and the angels and archangels,— the whole celestial world remained unmoved by the persecutions endured by the humble, by the weak; the great of earth and the great of heaven held each other by the hand, and those above would allow no punishment to fall on those below.
Or else the priests lied, the heavens were desperately empty, as she had seen old churches, unless the blacksmith was right. He claimed that Joseph of Arimathea and Mary and Mary Magdalene had made a mistake, consciously or unconsciously, and that, taken down instead of Jesus, raised from the dead, borne aloft to heaven, and seated triumphantly at the right hand of God, the wicked thief governed men and favored his fellow-thieves, implacably hostile to honesty, to virtue, to all praiseworthy acts and sentiments!
In any case, they could count only on themselves for vengeance!
To think that her Arklow lay on the bare ground, and that they refused a decent pallet on which to stretch him! She lacked oven a vessel to fetch water with which to wash from his face the blood which was drying upon it. Tomorrow, would they still bar all friendly doors? Who could tell? Perhaps they would even oppose the burial of the dead, but leave the body to decompose under the eyes of the public, for the sake of the example, to impress their imaginations, to terrorize. Ah! the impious! Ah! the sacrilegious! Ah! the wild beasts! Lord Newington, his officers, and his soldiers also, were simply so much mud and filth, formed and kneaded with bits of rock which served them as hearts!
She filled at the spring the hollow of her joined hands; the water flowed between her fingers; she soaked her handkerchief; it reddened instantly; and her journeys to the spring had to be repeated frequently. When Arklow’s face, after long bathing, was clean, the poor woman could see still better than before the depth, the multiplicity, the hideousness of the wounds which the veil of coagulated blood had hidden to some extent, and her frenzy for retaliation again took possession of her, imperative and irresistible.
Groaning, turning over plans in her burning brain, she ran to her hut, and, from the mass of rubbish, seized an enormous stone, which she raised without effort and brandished at arm’s length in the air, as easily as the Hercules of a fair. Now she would crush the English, as many of them as she might meet,— one, two, three, ten, twenty,— as long as her strength lasted and as she could herself escape from the rage of the others who would defend themselves.
Just then, in the darkness which the stars dimly lighted, a soldier in the red uniform approached. Ah! this one first. Heaven — surely there was one — sent him. Rapidly, silently, she went close up to him, without his hearing her steps, and, with a fury of savage satisfaction, she dealt him a terrible blow on the head with the immense rock, which, bounding off, dug for itself a bed in the earth.
The soldier fell without a word, without a cry; and in a transport of ferocious joy, Edith called witnesses with all the power of her voice, in which still vibrated deep-rooted, indestructible hatred!
“I have killed in my turn!” she exclaimed, emphatically, exultantly. “Come and see, Irishmen, I have begun the work of vengeance. Come and see, Englishmen, it is one of yours who this time measures on the ground the length of his grave !”
Swallowing their orders, abandoning their posts, the Britons crowded around, threatening, swearing, promising, in the absence of a magnificent funeral, to lay a thick carpet of blood to the cemetery for the procession to walk upon, and behind them a part of the population, curious but timid, fearing for themselves and for Edith the frightful consequences of her act.
“Make room there!” ordered the lieutenant, whose way they were obstructing, and who was accompanied by the corporal and a man provided with a lantern.
“Yes, let him come,” said Edith, “and judge my work!”
The ranks opened; the light falling on the soldier on the ground, they saw that he was young in spite of his skin browned by an Eastern sun, and the widow, bending suddenly, cried out, bewildered, overwhelmed by the crushing weight of the stunning coincidence:
“Michael! my son! it is my Michael!”
Then she bent over the mouth of the dying man, and feeling the breath, which still came, though spasmodically, she began to take hope.
“His heart beats,” said the corporal, who, unfastening the vest, had slipped his hand under the shirt.
“In that case, lift him up!” ordered Sir Walpole, “and take him to the castle; he is a deserter!”
At Cumslen Park, notwithstanding the gravity of events, notwithstanding the alarms, the summary executions, the exemplary chastisements, the revenges waited for at the corners of the roads, the Duchess did not give up the pleasures of hunting which each autumn renewed, and which were followed by gala dinners, brilliant receptions, fancy dress balls, masquerades, comedies acted by the guests of the castle, in imitation of those customary in France, in the residences of the nobility and at court, under the reign of the unfortunate Louis the Sixteenth.
The parties of invited guests succeeded each other more gaily and noisily than in preceding years, this being due, with some, to the certainty of conquest which they felt, and, with others, to nervous excitement, the necessity of forgetting themselves, of stunning themselves into insensibility, of stifling under bursts of mad laughter the groans and moans of the persecuted, the harsh and frightful curses of the exasperated.
Every second day came hunts for hares, foxes, and deer, mad, tumultuous, dangerous runs across woods and plains, over steep mountain sides, along perpendicular descents, by the side of abysses into which a single false step or a stone rolling under a horse’s hoof would hurl you headlong, torn by the brushwood and the ragged rocks, and at the bottom of which, though luckily benumbed by the fall, you would surely suffer fracture of your bones or skull, sudden and unrelenting death.
But with the intoxicating flourish of trumocts and the eager barking of dogs, the danger in the excitement, the emulation involved in the sport, only added to the pleasure; the giddiness bordered on intoxication.
To all these ordinary attractions the first hunt, signalized three weeks before by a sort of incidental death-dance, had added an unexpected excitement and the most piquant relish.
Breaking cover behind the deer on the square of Bunclody, the huntsmen had fallen upon the crowd of inhabitants collected around Arklow’s coffin, which the priest obstinately refused to bless, barricading the door of the church so that the body could not be brought in.
His resistance had lasted two days; he yielded neither to the peaceful negotiations which they proposed, nor to supplications, nor to virulent denunciations, though pestilential odors were arising from the bier placed in front of the door, which the Irish were determined net to put into the ground without a bit of a prayer and the sprinkling of holy water.
They were bent on this less from religious scruples than from obstinacy, indignation at seeing their priest, like a Protestant pastor, make common cause with the oppressors and signify to them categorically that he would revoke his decision only on condition that they would abjure their damnable vow to liberate Ireland.
Edith took no part in the quarrel. Her mind was divided between the corpse and the prisoner at the castle, her Michael, of whose fate she was ignorant, and whose future haunted her like a torturing nightmare. She kept silent in consternation, now fixing her eyes on the catafalque and now turning them, wandering, moist, and full of anguish, in the direction of Cumslen Park.
A neighbor beseeched her to express herself in favor of renouncing the divine service and proceeding to burial. Edith scandalized her by her indifference; in reality, she preferred this delay, which prolonged the sojourn of the dead upon earth, and postponed the heart-rending moment of the last parting, the parting for ever.
Reaching this dramatic scene before the others, the Duchess kept the impression of the terrible picture which struck her; the gloomy lookers-on, angry and at last out of patience, determined upon a sterner policy; the inconsolable widow, the heart-broken mother, with her sinister and haggard face, lost in the immensity of her double affliction; the humble black pall, on which was embroidered the blessed shamrock; the bier, which the dense smoke of the resinous torches flaming at its four corners wrapped in funereal crape; and the worm-eaten wooden door of the church under the tottering porch, worn by the centuries, which in its modest simplicity assumed gigantic proportions, symbolizing the pitiless strictness and hopeless narrowness of an illiberal and morose religion.
Under the pressure of the mass frightened by the irruption of the chase, by the huntsmen blowing their horns, by the pack yelling as if possessed, by the horses piling upon each other or rearing in the hands of their riders or Amazons, suddenly the disjointed planks of this obstinate door burst apart, the crowd entered, and, with the surge, the coffin, lifted by ready hands amid a cry of triumph.
And while the huntsmen pursued their mad course, plunging into the woods, in the fury of the “who-hoop!” now close at hand, Lady Ellen stationed herself with some amateurs in sight of the tragedy going on within the church.
A unanimous chorus called the priest to his altar, summoned him to ascend and then come down, mumbling his litanies for the repose of the dead.
As he did not obey, as the messengers returned from the sacristy and the presbytery only to report that the priest, seized with fear, had disappeared, the wrath of the people was let loose, filling the arches of the church with angry blasphemies.
The uproar had turned into brutal manifestations; the more turbulent were tearing up the pews and striking the flag-stones with them, still calling for the priest, when a happy inspiration averted the rising tempest.
Paddy and his comrades lifted Treor on the steps of the altar, inviting him to take the priest’s place, give the absolution, and preside at the obsequies. Consulting the assembly, the old Irishman received its permission; and immediately, amid the general hush, a silence which Father Richmond would never have obtained, he officiated, very soberly, in his own way, speaking the orisons, simple, touching, and grand, in the national tongue.
Approaching on her horse, Lady Ellen herself, under the influence of the general emotion, had forgotten to rejoin the hunt.
For several days she appeared thoroughly absorbed by the thought of this imposing scene, and then had done everything to forget it.
The representative, plastic, artistic, poetic side of the drama vanished, to leave with her, by day and by night, only the memory of the funeral trappings, which she seemed to see, the torches, the coffin, and the corpse, the fetid and lingering odor of which would not leave her, in spite of the perfumes with which she saturated her clothes and deluged her soft, rose-colored, silken skin.
Little by little, however, the impression was dissipated in the distraction of incessant merry-making, and now her one passion preoccupied her: she considered only how she could gratify it freely, and was happy at the thought of the approaching renewal of hostilities, which would necessitate long journeys to the other end of the province on the part of Newington.
His return the week before, alas! and his presence at the castle irritated her, and she had had several secret interviews with Casper.
[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.
A Fable for Malthusians.
Of all the astonishing arguments developed by the interesting Malthusian discussion now in progress in “Lucifer” and Liberty the most singular, surprising, and shortsighted is that advanced by E. C. Walker in maintaining the identity of political and domestic economy so far as the problem of population is concerned.
“The prosperity of the whole,” he tells Miss Kelly, “exists only because of the prosperity of the parts.”
“To speak of domestic economy,” he tells Mr. J. F. Kelly, “as though it were something that could be considered apart from so-called national economy is confusing and unautonomistic. There can be no ‘public good’ which is secured at the expense of the individual, at the sacrifice of the private good. The ‘population question’ is nothing but a question of the wisdom or unwisdom and the consequent happiness or unhappiness of individuals and of families, primarily, of course, of individuals. Were Mr. Kelly and his confréres not standing upon State Socialistic ground, they would never think of advancing such a Collectivist argument. Should any governmentalist say to Mr. Kelly that the ‘public good’ required so and so, and that the individual must waive his rights when confronted with the greater right of the majority, that gentleman would proceed to show his opponent that there was no such a thing as the ‘public good,’ save as it was the aggregation of the individual goods, and what was required to augment the ‘public good’ was to jealously preserve the rights and liberties of the individual.”
This indicates the most blissful ignorance on Mr. Walker’s part of the real bearing of the point originally made against him,— a point as indisputable as the sunlight, and which he had only to admit frankly and unreservedly in order to stop the “leak in the dykes that confined the waters of anti-Malthusian eloquence” and thereby save himself the necessity of counteracting this leak by opening his own flood-gates. The point referred to is this,— that, in consequence of the “iron law of wages” which prevails wherever monopoly prevails, a reduction of population cannot benefit the mass of laborers, and hence, while monopoly lives, can be of little or no value in political economy, although, if confined to a few families, it may benefit the families in question, and therefore be good domestic economy; the explanation of this being that small families mean a reduction in the cost of living for those families, and a reduction in the cost of living for even one family means, under a monopolistic system, a reduction in the rate of wages paid to all laborers. If Mr. Walker had understood this, he never would have attempted to meet it with the specious statement (which to all Anarchists is the merest truism) that the public good is only the aggregation of the individual goods. Can he suppose that the Kellys and myself are so stupid that, if we believed that Malthusianism would make all individuals comfortable and happy, or would largely contribute to that end, we would not be as ardent Malthusians as himself? Mr. Walker begs the question. He bases his argument on an unproven assumption of the very point which we dispute and believe we disprove. The Kellys have expressly denied that Malthusianism can benefit the aggregation of individuals, and therefore the public. They have nowhere admitted that it would benefit “the individual”; they have only admitted that it might benefit “a few individuals;” and between these admissions there is a vast and vital difference.
Concerning the rights of the individual and the majority, neither Mr. Kelly nor Mr. Walker would say that “what was required to augment the ‘public good’ was to jealously preserve the rights and liberties of” a few individuals at the expense of others. So, in the matter of population, Mr. Kelly does not say that the public welfare is to be enhanced by reducing the size of a few families, and thus making the individuals belonging to them comfortable at the expense of others. But Mr. Walker virtually does say so, and precisely there is his mistake. Thus Mr. Walker’s own analogy convicts him of his error.
If he can be made to really see that under the present system small families must benefit at the expense of others if at all, I think he will be obliged in honesty to abandon his position that Malthusianism is good political economy. Will he excuse me, then, if I try to make this plain in a rather simple way?
I will suppose A, B, C, &c., to and including Y, to be day laborers, each having five children and each employed at wages barely sufficient to sustain such life as they are willing to endure rather than resort to forcible revolution and expropriation. Z is out of employment. He has four children, and sees the possibility of a fifth. Suddenly a happy thought strikes him: “As long as I have only four children, I can get work, for I can afford to work for less than Y with his five children. I will become a Malthusian,— no, a Neo-Malthusian,— and apply the preventive check.” Counting the few dollars and cents still left in his pocket, he finds that he can keep his family in bread for two days longer and still have enough left to buy a copy of Dr. Foote’s “Radical Remedy in Social Science” and a syringe of the most improved pattern. He makes these prudential purchases, and presents them to his good wife. Mrs. Z’s eyes fairly dance with delight at the new vistas of joy that open before her, and I, for one, am sincerely glad for her. That night witnesses a renewal of the Zs’ honeymoon. The next day, buoyant and hopeful, Z presents himself at the office of Mr. Gradgrind, Y’s employer. “Y,” says he, “works for you at a dollar and seventy-five cents a day; I will do the same work at a dollar and a half.” “You’re the very man I’m after,” says Gradgrind, rubbing his hands; “come to work tomorrow.” When Y puts on his coat to go home, he is handed an envelope containing his pay and his discharge.
Y, who has never been out of work long enough to read Malthus, and to whom that famous parson’s gospel would now come all too late, lies awake all night, discussing the dismal prospect with Mrs. Y. Far from experiencing a second honeymoon, they begin to wish they bad never known a first. “But we must live somehow,” finally concludes Y; “half a loaf is better than no bread; tomorrow I will go to Mr. Gradgrind and offer to work for a dollar and a half.” He carries out his resolve. This time Gradgrind’s glee knows no bounds; he takes Y back into his employ, and resolves thereafter to worship at the shrine of Parson Malthus. That night X finds himself in Y’s predicament of the night before. Time goes on. Y’s five children, not getting enough to eat, grow paler and thinner, and finally the youngest and frailest is carried off to the cemetery. The preventive check in the Z family has resulted in a positive check in the Y family.
Meanwhile there has been no interruption of the movement started by Z. A fate similar to Y’s has overtaken X, W, V, and all their alphabetical predecessors, till now A, most unfortunate of all, finds himself thrown on a cold world with five starving children. What happens then? Driven from half loaf to quarter loaf, A tries to underbid Z, and that prudent individual, who has enjoyed a temporary prosperity at the expense of his fellows, is at last forced down again to the general level in order to hold his place, the net result of his Malthusian experiment is that A is out of employment instead of himself, one child has not been born, twenty-four have died from hunger, wages have fallen to a dollar and a half, and Gradgrind, richer than ever, begins to think that cranks amount to something and is shaking hands with Walker over the approaching millennium.
Ah! a bloody millennium it will be, Mr. Gradgrind, if you and Mr. Walker keep on. Do you see what A is about? Too proud to go to the poor-house, too honest to steal, he has wandered in despair over to the Haymarket (I forgot to say that Chicago is the scene of my tragedy), and there has learned from one Parsons that all wealth belongs to everybody, that each should seize what he can, and that he, A, and his hungry children, with twenty-five cents’ worth of dynamite, may live and loaf like princes and Gradgrinds forever. Straightway some one hands him a bomb, and he flings it into a squad of police. “What then? The earth is but shivered into impalpable smoke by that Doom’s-thunderpeal; the sun misses one of his planets in space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the moon.”
To what stern, ay! to what singular realities has my allegory brought us! A bloody revolution, and Malthusianism to blame! Walker, the Malthusian, sharing with Gradgrind, the robber, the responsibility for Parsons, the dynamiter! Loud as Mr. Walxer may declaim against forcible revolution (and he can do so none too loud for me), his voice is sounding deeper tones which will push the people to it. I call the attention of the authorities to his incendiary Malthusian utterances.
Is it to be inferred, then, that I discountenance small families? By no means. I highly approve them. Z’s conduct was right and wise. He acted within his right. And his act was perfectly innocent in itself. It was not his fault that it injured others; it was the fault of the monopolistic system which shrewdly manages to keep the demand for labor below the supply. Z could not be expected to damage himself in order to refrain from damaging others, as long as his conduct was of such a character that it would not have damaged others except for the existence of an economic system for which he was in no special sense to blame. Nevertheless it will not do to wink out of sight the fact that he did damage others, or to fail to learn from it the folly of supposing that any reform is fundamental in political economy except the achievement of Liberty in our industrial and commercial life.
Does Mr. Walker believe in this achievement? Yes. Then he is an Anarchist. I think that Miss Kelly does him injustice in denying him the name. He is one of the very few persons within my knowledge who never trip on a question of liberty. But, although he knows that liberty is right, he fails to appreciate its overwhelming importance. He thinks there is something else more important, more fundamental. And I am compelled to admit that, when a man thinks this and acts and works accordingly, his influence is in the main reactionary. If this is what Miss Kelly means, I agree with her. And I also agree with her that Mr. Walker, after attributing human vices to individual depravity rather than to a false social structure, can lay no claim to the name of socialist. The “Be-good-and-you’ll-be-happy” gospel is emphatically anti-socialistic. I regret to announce, that Comrade Lloyd is going to preach it in the next issue of Liberty.
The Law and Its Pimps.
The low level of depravity which characterizes an ordinary court of so-called justice was fittingly exhibited in the appearance of a vile Pinkerton miscreant named Jansen at the trial of the Chicago Anarchists. This professional prostitute and blackmailer for hire joined the Anarchistic group as a pretended brother, gushed and ranted as one whose whole heart and soul were in the movement, and brought to bear his whole art as a professional liar to secure their confidence. When this wretch, leprous with lies, is fully equipped with testimony, his fellow-conspirators on the bench brazenly call him in to give evidence on which the lives of those whom he has betrayed are hanging. In the Heywood case Judge Nelson, to his infinite honor, cautioned the jury, in his charge, regarding the value of the evidence of Decoy Comstock on the ground that testimony avowedly secured by lies was to be questioned by reason of presumptive proof that the witness might lie under oath. Such rulings, which staggered Comstock, are, however, exceptional and accidental. The Chicago infamy is a fair sample, and ought to make any fair-minded man blush who is willing to rate the ordinary court of “justice” above a hired pack of tools, whose business it is to dispose of the lives, liberties, and substance of men to suit the purposes of that prime conspiracy behind them, the State.
The Worship of Law and Order.
It is the abolition of the State, after all, that underlies all social emancipation. This abolition we do not propose to bring about by violence, for that is the very thing we protest against in the imposition called law. The abolition we contemplate shall come of the abolition of ignorance and servile superstition in the masses, to the end that, by a gradual desertion of the ballot-boxes and a refusal of the people to voluntarily touch any of the foul machinery of the lie called government, tyrants shall yet be compelled to survive or perish solely on their own merits, at their own cost, and on their own responsibility.
These words are found in a recent issue of Liberty. The first sentence forms the text for all Anarchistic preaching, but the suggestion of method is not agreed to by me, because it does not appear to be a proper adaptation of means to an end. If in human experience there had ever been found an instance whore it did not require a pound to balance a pound, or where a round hole was fitted by a square peg, I could be made to believe that violence can be met and conquered by a means less energetic than itself. It is admitted that exact similarity of the evil and the remedy is not necessary, as a lever of wood is hotter than a lever of stone for moving a rock; but the power must be equal to the task. It is also admitted that evil may be overcome by good, and that soft music may lure a barbarian. But it must be remembered, in moving to abolish the State, that it is not the institution which stands in the way, for it is intangible, but the people themselves make a wall of their backs against those who would drown the light their devotion has kindled. That light of State dazzles and attracts, and their gaze cannot he withdrawn by anything less than startling. Smooth motions will not startle. A riveted attention must be suddenly turned, and violence is the means.
Let me not be told that in the course of time these intellectual nudgings will be felt and will divert the mass of dolts who have all eyes toward the glittering State. It is too long to wait, the remedy would not keep pace with the disease, and it will be found, as in all times till now, that the stone which we would thus wear away with our tears had been generously oiled by the power of government. Given enough of nudging or any awakening preachments, the result hoped might be looked for with reason; but considering the relation of numbers and the blinding power of the light set up by the people for their own guidance, the suggestion of Liberty revives the anecdote of the man who proposed to shampoo an elephant with a pint of soap-suds.
We have many illustrations of the fact that people must be shaken up to make them think. No page of history is without them. In Great Britain the explosion at Clerkenwell was an instance, and the butchery of Cavendish and Burke in Phoenix Park was another,— horrible things, it is true, but the nearness of Ireland’s emancipation has already given them an exalted character as payments made in the purchase of liberty. In our own country it is beginning to be seen that the bomb which exploded in Chicago spread more knowledge of the Anarchistic doctrine than endless harangues would have done. When President Andrew Johnson was being tried with the purpose of impeaching him in that high office, observers remarked that the Constitution of the United States was read and studied more than it had been in fifty years. Every great strike compels the public into a trial of its merits, and this brings light to the industrial question.
So I am constrained to believe that the violence which in Liberty’s eyes seems vulgar is really a thing necessary, and therefore good; for it is my conviction that, no matter what may be the means, their complete adaptation to an end is the highest show of intelligence that can be made. The proof comes at the last, for it is certain that means not well chosen must fail. This, however, need not be entertained with fear, because whatever means are used will always be the best and wisest known to those who are in the circumstances. Although I would not advise such a course in the study of astronomy, it is nevertheless true that a man can be made to see stars if you rap him sharply on the head, and at any rate you cannot expect to have his attention unless you command it by something more urgent than the show before him. You cannot rouse a sluggard by the waving of fans, however they move the perfumed intellectual air; hit him, and he will get up quickly. If he can think, he will think, and his attention will be equal to the alacrity. His eyes, when opened, will direct him what to do.
John A. Henry.
Boston, July 7, 1886.
Before attempting to reply to Mr. Henry, let me say that I honor him for his frankness in saying just what he thinks like a man.
The anatomy of violence is quite an intricate subject. Perhaps the best way to get hold of Mr. Henry is to take him up on the point practically stated by him, viz., that all violence calls for defence in kind. If a man attacks me with his tongue, I am not, generally speaking, justified in replying with my fist. If he attacks me with his fist, I am not justified in replying with a shot-gun, if I have good fists too. In general terms, I am only justified in replying with the same weapons that are used by my assaulter. It is only when the attacking party denies me the right to defend myself with the weapons he is using that I am justified in utilizing any I can get hold of, since self-preservation is the first law of nature.
Now, the chief weapon of violence used by the State is the ballot-box. But, when using it, the State even invites me to use the same weapon that is used to take away my liberties. The highway robber levels his shotgun at me, but, instead of handing me the same weapon and giving me an equal show, he commands me to raise my hands and not to touch any instrument of defence.
Of course, the State has no right to put me in a position where I must either shoot back with a ballot or be robbed without appeal. The established code of honor among private individuals is that the challenged party is entitled to a choice of weapons. If the State were as honorable as individuals, it would do the same, for, having assumed forcible control over my life and liberties, it has no right, under all the established canons of honor in ordinary life, to dictate my methods of defence. This it does, however, and is therefore clearly more dishonorable and cowardly than ordinary assaulters. On this point,— that the party challenging another without his consent on the issue of life and liberty is morally bound to abide by the effects of whatever weapons of defence the assaulted party chooses to make use of,— we “Boston Anarchists” have never budged and never will.
The only question, then, is one of pure utility. If by shooting back with ballots we could successfully abolish the State, we would do it. We are satisfied, however, that every gun loaded with a ballot is bound to recoil and sink us still deeper into the mire of statecraft. If by shooting back with hemp, bullets, and dynamite we could thereby successfully abolish the State, we would do it. The State has challenged with violence, and we stand by the moral right to choose our own weapons. But here again we believe that the use of these weapons is squarely suicidal to our cause. The shooting off of a few heads does not put any brains into the heads that are left, and is liable at any time to provoke a mad and indiscriminate retaliation that would cost the heads of the few men among us who now have any brains to spill on this issue.
The irrepressible fact is that only as intelligence, character, and the moral sense stand behind bullets and dynamite are they in the long run worth an infinitely small fraction of what they are liable to cost when they succeed in maddening the multitude by horror. And I beg to remind Mr. Henry that, when education has put intelligence, character, and moral sense into the scales, the bullets and the dynamite will not be needed, for the power of violent assault on the part of the State will be removed by absence of cooperation in the masses.
It only remains for Mr. Henry to say that incidentally the Clerkenwell explosions, the Phoenix Park murders, and the Chicago bombs do good, as means of awaking the dull legitimatized thieves who smile in security beside their plunder, and go to sleep happy, under guard of “the law.” Least of all do the “Boston Anarchists” deny this, and they were never known to whine, cant, or shed crocodile tears when, in the providence of things, these eruptions have taken place. We count them as accidents, and, although these accidents may be in special cases fortunate ones, they by no means have any bearing upon the general principle of conduct to be advocated.
The stubborn fact lies beneath this whole situation that the great mass of the people stupidly, ignorantly, and through hereditary and acquired superstition support the swindle of so-called government by furnishing it with money, the means solely and alone on which it stands. Put a thousand of them in a row, and nine hundred and ninety-nine will swear that it is their duty to pay taxes in support of government. But give me a proportion of twenty-five per cent, of these men, who are convinced that it is their duty not to pay taxes and are ready to go to jail for their convictions, and the game is up without the shedding of a drop of blood; for the other seventy-five per cent, would not think of undertaking to board the twenty-five per cent. Now, if dynamite will blow this righteous conviction into even a single man’s head, then bring it on, and I am with you, Mr. Henry. If it will not, then you have nothing to fall back upon but the accidental and incidental good that may come of an explosion.
You must abolish ignorance, or you abolish nothing. You may screech and swear and kick up the dust and burn and shoot and explode, but only as the dead level of this blank and persistent mass of ignorance is reduced by the healthy absorption of vigorously applied truth have you finally abolished anything. You may dream and get revolution-drunk and swear and kill and burn, but this cold fact will continue to smile cruelly upon you till it dies a natural death.
In closing, let me ask you, Mr. Henry, to bear in mind that, so long as all these people want the thing they can government, you have no more right to take it away from them by the violence of dynamite, if it were possible, than they have the right to shoulder their swindle on you by the violence of the ballot.
To the Editor of Liberty:
As you request me (see your item under the head “On Picket Duty,” in Liberty of July 3) to specify the passages from which I drew the inference that you meant war, and as you promise to refrain from all such in future, I will very cheerfully comply, although, as I had already said, in the article you quote from, that I had been happily disappointed, I cannot see what you have to feel sensitive about. Of course you will permit me to briefly touch one or two other points of your paragraph, as well as the one you designate for me.
I have read Liberty, from the first, with a great deal of pleasure, and I cheerfully accord it the credit of helping me to definite views and strengthening me in the doctrine of Individuality. I have never felt to criticise you, for, generally, you express my thought as well as or better than I could myself. If, then, I say now what I should not have wished to say, had you not made the occasion, I think you should excuse me.
One reason I had for thinking you meant war was not taken from any “passages” in your editorial, in particular, but was gathered from the general caustic and pugnacious quality of your writing, such as is exhibited in this item, to which I am replying. I refer to such expressions as this, for instance: “I wonder what words mean to Mr. A. Warren, of Wichita Falls, Texas,” etc., and this: “He must use a lexicon unknown to standard English writers.” I think many of your readers will agree with me that such language, especially when unprovoked, displays a belligerent disposition. (1)
As to lexicons, I am again agreeably surprised. I understood you to repudiate them altogether. If you stand by the lexicographers, you must mean, not only war, but confusion and disorder of all sorts; for, if not, they are all against you. (2)
Your statement that I am “one of those that are very much disturbed lest the term Anarchy may he misunderstood” is incorrect. I have not been at all disturbed on that point. I believe in Individuality. I am not necessarily disturbed when I offer advice. If my advice is not taken, I simply try to mind my own business. I was doing that when I wrote to “Lucifer.” I wanted it understood that I do not call myself an Anarchist; and, lest some of my sensitive brothers, like Mr. Tucker, might be aggrieved, I gave my reasons for my position. But my liberality seems to have been lost on Mr. Tucker, as he will be satisfied with nothing short of full indorsement of not only his views, but his modes of expression also. (3)
But, I have not forgotten that I am to “specify” passages in Liberty that justify my conclusion that its editor believed in physical force as a means of revolution. Turn, then, to No. 58, of January 31, 1885, which I pick up at random. (4) On the front page, in the third column, we find a paragraph beginning thus: “It is glorious news that comes to us from England.... Sad enough,.... but none the less joyful and glorious. The dynamite policy is now definitely adopted in England, and must he vigorously pushed, until it has produced the desired effect of abolishing all repressive legislation,” etc.
If the writer of that article was not, at that time, favoring war measures even in America, when the time should come, I must concede that we do, undoubtedly, use different lexicons. (5) And the paragraph quoted from is not an exceptional one. Liberty, at least until recently, abounds with them. (6) It is true it has not advocated the introduction of European methods in this country, but I inferred, and I still think, rightly, that it was to be only a question of time; for, as a matter of principle, I could see no difference between throwing a bomb in London or St. Petersburg, and doing the same thing in New York, or Chicago, or Boston; and it is noticable that Most, and others who claim to be Anarchists, and are recognized as such, while Mr. Tucker is not, to any extent, outside of his own school, themselves perceive no difference. They will inaugurate war in Americans readily as in Europe. (7)
Now, I wish to assure you, again, that I am not unfriendly to Liberty, or to its work, or its workers. It voices your individuality: and I believe in individuality, for all. I only object, when you seem to depart from that principle; or, to use your own form of expression, when you seem to seek to govern somebody. (8) In the language of the immortal humbug of the age, “Let us have peace.” (9)
(1) Why, certainly. I never claimed to be sweet-tempered. But does every ill-tempered man “mean war”? The world is full of error, and I am lighting it. But error is mental, and must be met mentally. I propose to use against it every mental weapon at my command,— logic, ridicule, sarcasm, etc. In this way I invade the rights of none and change the minds of some. But if I were to plunder and kill those who are in error, I should invade their rights and should not change their minds. When Mr. Warren supposed that I meant war, he clearly supposed that I meant to plunder and kill; otherwise my denunciation of Most’s followers for plundering and killing would not have relieved him of this supposition. If, when I ask him for the foundation of this supposition, he cites my “caustic and pugnacious” style and “belligerent disquisition” (which, by the way, were never shown more intensely than in my treatment of Most and his followers), I can only answer him that his conclusions are too remote from his premises to require me to keep my promise to refrain from further misleading him.
(2) I have never repudiated the lexicographers as students by whose works all men profit; I have simply denied them absolute authority. They have made special and deep study of language, and have arrived at such substantial agreement that we find it for our convenience in communication to adopt their definitions. But they were never endowed by a superior power with the sole right to study language, and any man is at liberty to reject any of their conclusions. Therefore, when any man abandons their definition of a given word and defines it for himself, he has a right to claim that his critics shall interpret him in accordance with his own definition. The few words used with novel meanings in Liberty’s columns have been defined so repeatedly and so carefully that Mr. Warren cannot have misapprehended them. Hence his misunderstanding of me must have arisen from my general use of language, which I believe to be in very close accord with the lexicons. Thus I justify my “caustic” remark that “he must use a lexicon unknown to standard English writers.”
(3) In comparing my “liberality” with his own, Mr. Warren should remember that, far from demanding that he or any one else should indorse my views and modes of expression, I have not even written once to the newspapers cautioning him against the use of that much-misunderstood word, individuality, while he has written repeatedly to advise me and others not to use the word Anarchy, lest it should be misunderstood and damage the cause. His letters have betrayed an anxiety which all lexicons known to me would define as disturbance. But he says he has not been disturbed, and so drives me again to the theory of a strange lexicon.
(4) The freaks of fortune are very singular. Strange to say, No. 58, which Mr. Warren has “picked up at random,” is the very number which I expected him to pick up after careful examination of the files, and which I had in mind when I called on him to “specify.”
(5) This is an excellent example of what can be proved against a man by skilful omission of a portion of his words. Mr. Warren breaks off his quotation at a point which is very convenient for his purpose. See now how differently the last sentence quoted sounds when given in its complete form. “The dynamite policy is now definitely adopted in England, and must be vigorously pushed until it has produced the desired effect of abolishing all the repressive legislation that denies the freedom of agitation and discussion which alone can result in the final settlement of social questions and make the Revolution a fixed fact.” It will be seen that Mr. Warren, by the omission of that little word “the” and the long clause which I have here italicized, makes me favor dynamite for the abolition of all repressive legislation instead of the abolition of such repressive legislation as denies freedom of agitation, and carefully conceals my emphatic assertion that only agitation and discussion can settle social questions. I do not like to say hard things of Mr. Warren, but he has certainly descended to one of the tricks of the pettifogger. He fails to quote also the succeeding sentence, which makes my meaning clearer still. “When and where that freedom [of agitation and discussion] prevails, the use of dynamite or any form of physical force can never have the sanction of Liberty; when and where it does not prevail, force must be sanctioned for the time being, for nothing else can be done.” I am glad that Mr. Warren has revived this matter, because it gives me a chance to explain that by the “denial of freedom of agitation,” when I use the phrase in the above connection, I do not mean simply the breaking-up of one meeting or the suppression of one paper or the imprisonment of one editor,— because a few acts of that sort would not necessarily prevent the holding of new meetings and the establishment of new papers,— but the rigorous enforcement throughout the alleged jurisdiction of any given government, or any large part thereof, of such a policy of coercion as that wretched hypocrite, Gladstone, imposed upon Ireland,— a policy which could not be eluded, against which the London explosions were directed, and to abolish which I could justify the use of force in the passage referred to by Mr. Warren. But to declare that we should not use force until driven into a corner is not to “mean war,” but simply to repudiate the doctrine of absolute non-resistance.
(6) This I flatly deny.
(7) As far as locality itself is concerned, there is no difference between using force in one place and using it in another, but the different conditions prevailing in different localities make a vast difference in the policy to be pursued. I have always made the advisability of the use of force dependent upon the conditions prevailing. Mr. Warren, in his allusion to Most, is about as fair as I would be were I to judge Mr. Warren’s Individualism by the words and conduct of such men as David A. Wells and E. L. Godkin, “who claim to be” Individualists, “and are recognized as such, while Mr.” Warren “is not, to any extent, outside of his own school.”
(8) But Mr. Warren has yet to “specify” any words of mine that are fairly open to the charge of even seeming “to seek to govern somebody.”
(9) It seems to me that in Mr. Warren’s concluding sentence I detect a “caustic and pugnacious quality,” and that it “displays a belligerent disposition.” Does Mr. Warren “mean war”?
Tchernychewsky’s Life and Trial.
Translated from the Russian for Liberty by Victor Yarros.
Continued from No. 84.
“The prisoner is charged with three offences:
“I. Unlawful connection with the political offender and exile, Herzen, who is undermining the existing forms of government, and participation in the latter’s criminal designs. This charge is based on unsatisfactory evidence, and therefore declared unproven.
“II. Authorship of a manifesto addressed to the serfs, of the most seditious character, which was intended for publication and wide circulation among the peasants. The proofs of this charge are: (a) the testimony of V. Kostomaroff, who gave a full account of the matter; (b) the note left by Tchernychewsky at Kostomaroff’s quarters, requesting him to change some expression in the text of the manifesto; (c) the testimony of the convict Michailoff; (d) the testimony of Iakovleff, who was in the employ of V. Kostomaroff.
“III. Inciting to riot and plotting against the government. Material proof of this is found in the letter to journalist Plescheieff, which substantiates all the other charges, and clearly shows that Tchernychewsky is legally guilty as well as morally. In that letter he reproaches his friend for his neglect and tardiness, and informs him that other arrangements were made concerning the publication of his revolutionary manifesto. We thus find that Tchernychewsky cultivated the acquaintance of other conspirators, who were disturbing public peace by their incendiary literature.
“This evidence leaves no doubt as to the existence of a plot to overthrow the government, in which Tchernychewsky played a very important part. This crime comes under the head of Article 283, Vol. XV, of the code of capital crimes. But owing to the consideration that these plots were discovered in time to prevent any actual disturbance from taking place, and considering that nothing serious had occurred in consequence of their propaganda, Tchernychewsky is subject to the penalty provided by the third or fourth degree of Article 284. Bearing in mind that Tchernychewsky, being a popular writer and one of the directing minds on the ‘Sovremennic,’ exercised exceptional power over the youth of the country, whom he endeavored to convert into adherents to his extreme socialistic and materialistic views, advocating the forcible overthrow of the existing government as the means of realizing those ideas, and thus was a particularly dangerous agitator and considering his obstinate refusal to admit the truth of the charges in spite of the overwhelming evidence, the Senatorial Council thinks it necessary that Tchernychewsky should suffer the severest penalty of the law, and sentences titular councillor N. G. Tchernychewsky, aged thirty-five years, to fourteen years of hard labor in the mines and, at the expiration of that term, to banishment to Siberia for life.”
9 a.m., June 13, 1864, was the time fixed for the reading of the decision. In spite of the heavy rain that commenced at daybreak, Mistin Square was thronged at the appointed hour. The outward appearance of the crowd indicated that they belonged to the cultured classes of society. Few gained admittance into the court room. Tchernychewsky was greatly changed. He looked pale and haggard. He did not utter a word. When the official conspirator began to read the shameful government fraud, Tchernychewsky turned his face to the wall, and remained so till the sentence was pronounced. Then his hands were put through two iron rings attached to a scaffold. A sabre was broken. At this moment a bouquet was thrown at Tchernychewsky’s feet....Nicholas Govrilovitch Tchernychewsky was hurriedly led out and transported to the Siberian mines....
This incomplete sketch of Tchernychewsky’s early life and trial represents all that could be gathered from private sources. Since 1862 Russia has virtually been under a reign of terror. The world has heard much about the Lopoukhoffs, Kirsanoffs, Rakhmétoffs, but nothing about their author. For more than twenty years Tchernychewsky’s name was not once mentioned in the press; but he was not forgotten by “young Russia.” The famous revolutionist Mishkin made an attempt to rescue Tchernychewsky, but the plot was discovered at the last moment, and Tchernychewsky’s lot was made bitterer and sadder than before. The international literary congress assembled in Vienna petitioned for Tchernychewsky’s release, but no attention was paid to it by the czar. A radical Russian newspaper was bold enough to take up the matter, and in a very able article urged the government to set Tchernychewsky free. “He was an honest and brave man,” said the writer; “can any honest government fear such men?” It is needless to add that these bold utterances brought the paper to an early grave. The government feared Tchernychewsky’s influence, and, like all blind and maddened tyrants, only increased it by its suicidal policy. His writings were suppressed; no one was allowed to speak about them or mention his name; but this was precisely the best method of making his name a peculiar charm to enthusiastic and spirited youths. Indeed, Tchernychewsky’s influence and the importance of the part he played in creating and directing the revolutionary drift that will yet carry away the whole fabric of barbarism and tyranny can hardly be over-estimated. We can only wonder how much more he would have done for the cause of degraded and law-ridden humanity! The government early discovered the danger that threatened “established institutions” and determined to extinguish the light before it kindled into a blaze. Did it succeed? Let the history of Russia for the last two decades answer!
Of Tchernychewsky’s life in exile very little is known. He passed seven years in the Zalaikalsky district, working at various occupations. In the mines, he actually worked only a few weeks. After 1871 he lived in Viluisk (near lakutsk) as a convict settler. He occupied a small hut with an adjoining garden, where he worked several hours every day. The peasants called him “saint.” Sometimes he visited them and talked with them about the conditions of life in that part of the country, but this had to be discontinued, as the authorities accused him of spreading revolutionary ideas among the peasants. During the first few years Nekrasoff and his other co-workers on the “Sovremennic” supplied him with money; afterwards the government allowed him two hundred roubles a year. As everything is very cheap in that region, he found this sum sufficient to supply his few and simple wants. No correspondence with his wife or friends was allowed. He had some volumes of poetry and a few other books, but Byron was the most “serious” writer whom he was allowed to enjoy. Of newspapers he had a small local publication and the “Illustrated London News.” On the whole, Tchernychewsky appears to have been treated decently by the local authorities, although, of course, his movements were strictly watched. Now and then he would write something, but he burned all his manuscripts.
Thus Tchernychewsky passed twenty years of his life. What a tragical fate for such a man! Who can measure the intensity of the sufferings he underwent during these long years of enforced idleness and helplessness? No wonder that the reports of his insanity found so many believers in his own country. In October, 1883, the joyful and unexpected news spread over unhappy Russia that Tchernychewsky, the great teacher and hero, had been “pardoned” by the czar. “Can it be true?” the disconsolate subjects of the czar asked themselves, and shook their heads in melancholy doubt. But it was true. On the twenty-seventh of October, 1883, after twenty years of exile, N. G. Tchernychewsky returned from Siberia. He lives now in Astrachan under police surveillance, and this place he is not allowed to leave. His wife is with him. They occupy a small house in the central part of the city. They lead a very quiet and retired life. The authorities, it is understood, are instructed to discourage any curious strangers from visiting Tchernychewsky, nor is Tchernychewsky himself anxious to receive visitors. For well known reasons no representatives of the Russian press interviewed him, and absolutely nothing was said in the newspapers about the event.
A correspondent of the London “Daily News” visited Tchernychewsky at his home. He was received courteously, though in a somewhat reserved manner. At first Tchernychewsky impressed him as very vigorous and well-preserved, but the impression was illusive. The expression of mental vigor, so familiar in Tchernychewsky’s photographs, has entirely disappeared. He is extremely nervous; his look is troubled and restless; his eyes wander continually from one object to another; some of his movements are purely convulsive. From time to time a curt, dry remark involuntarily escaped him, as if his mind dwelt on some past memories, but whether they were of a painful or pleasant nature it was difficult to divine. His health is ruined. The twenty years of exile have had a most disastrous effect on the greatest thinker and writer of modem Russia. His only wish, if he can be said to have any wishes, is rest, absolute rest...
I take my hat off and reverently bow in taking leave of the author of “What’s To Be Done?”
Miss Kelly’s Errors.
I do not desire to unduly extend this discussion of the population question, especially as it is clearly perceivable that Miss Kelly is somewhat nettled and considerably inclined to be unkind, if not unphilosophical, in her treatment of her opponent. I have often noticed, however, that such is the spirit of most Anti-Malalthusians, and so no especial blame should rest upon Miss Kelly, as she has simply committed the error of her school when dealing with this question. But I see no need for acrimony in this inquiry, no need for contempt and superciliousness. It is to be presumed that the Malthusians with whom Miss Kelly has to do in this discussion are as earnestly and sincerely desirous of finding the truth as is she herself, and I am not at all inclined to agree with my opponents in their assumption that the “Malthusian theory” was invented to save the threatened governmental and capitalistic systems. In candor, I must here record my opinion that such assumption is unfounded and unjust.
Another reason why I do not follow Miss Kelly more closely and at greater length is because in the discussion between J. F. Kelly and myself in “Lucifer” very nearly the same ground has been traversed. This being so, I shall content myself in the present instance with the correction of a very few of my opponent’s mistakes, and these in matters of fact only.
So far is Miss Kelly from being accurate in her statement to the effect that English Malthusians, in considering the causes of East Indian poverty and misery, overlook or ignore the part that the British usurer has lead in the production of that poverty and misery, that I am compelled to conclude that she has not read the writings of English Malthusians,— those which bear on this subject; at all events, the and I have certainly read differently, for it has been my fortune to peruse very much more which was in condemnation of English rule in India than which attributed the sufferings of that country to over-population, and this always from the of English Malthusians. And there is in this nothing inimical to my position, for I have all along maintained that the Neo-Malthusian and the true labor reformer can work hand in hand, always achieving better results, because seeing more truth when working thus unitedly than when blinded and kept apart by partisan prejudice.
While it is true that our social conditions, our inequitable distribution of labor fruits, produce much of the intemperance that curses our land, the facts do not warrant us in making the sweeping assertion that Miss Kelly does to the effect that all intemperance is produced by poverty. This is the legitimate deduction from her words. Poverty and intemperance are alternating cause and effect. It is hard to say whether poverty produces the more intemperance or intemperance the more poverty; but I am inclined to think he latter.
I repeat, the questions of political economy and domestic economy, so far as the problem of population is concerned, are, in fact, one. The prosperity of the whole exists only because of the prosperity of the parts. If “domestic economy ” in the propagation of offspring is of benefit to the family, it will be in like ratio of benefit to the “State.”
I am deeply grateful to Miss Kelly for admitting that I “tend toward Anarchism.” I had supposed that I was a full-fledged Anarchist, or Autonomist; but it seems that I am only just out of the shell of Authoritarianism, with certain slight tendencies in the direction of Liberty. And why? Simply because I accept the postulate that population tends to outrun subsistence, and do not believe that revolution, without previous education and personal reformation, will give us a better social state.
E. C. Walker.
Mr. Walker Can Say More Than One “Really Foolish Thing.”
If it was true, as Mr. Tucker said, that Mr. Walker’s opening statement on Malthusianism was the first really foolish thing he had ever said, he has since unmistakably proven to all of us that it is not by any means the only foolish thing that he is capable of saying. “Unkind” as I am, I begin to feel quite sorry for him: it pains me to see him sinking deeper and deeper into the mire.
If we could only make Mr. Walker hold to any one position for five minutes at a time, we might succeed in convincing him of the error of his ways; but he dodges from position to position with lightning-like rapidity, when attacked on one, going off to another, insisting it was not this be meant but that, and when attacked on that, returning to this. He began by defending Malthus against Proudhon, and when we showed him that the lessening of the numbers, whether it be of adult individuals, or in the number of children in families, could be followed by no beneficial results to the laborers, under present conditions, he dodged it by saying that he did not suppose the present conditions to continue, that what he was defending was Neo-Malthusianism, which contemplated the abolition of the wages-system, and not Malthusianism. This was pure dodging, as Proudhoun did not attack Neo-Malthusianism but Malthusianism. Then he recommended us a book, which, he told us, represented his views, which I showed him did not at all contemplate the abolition of the wages-system, ascribed all the evils from which the working-people suffered to their excessive numbers, and differed from Malthusianism in no way but in the remedy proposed for lessening the numbers. He again dodged the issue by saying that he regarded the reduction of the size of families, not as any benefit in itself, but valued it simply as an educational measure, tacitly admitting that the reduction, if general, would be of no use. We then began to take some hope, for we thought that light, though very dim, was at last beginning to dawn on Mr. Walker; but our joy was extremely short-lived, for in the ext issue of “Lucifer” appeared a glowing eulogy of a hook entitled the “Radical Remedy in Social Science” (whatever a remedy in science may mean) with not a single word from Mr. Walker to say that the remedy was not radical. The alue of this book, both as a literary and scientific production, may be fairly estimated from its title and sub-title.
As to the object and result of the Malthusian theory in affecting the growth of socialism, I would refer Mr. Walker to my reply to Mr. James. Malthus’s work was intended to serve, and served, no other interests but those of the reaction. As far as the presumptive pressure of the population on the means of subsistence was concerned, Condorcet had foreseen it, and proposed the remedy — after the conditions had been changed, i.e., after freedom and equality had been guaranteed to all.
As far as lessening the size of families as an educational measure is concerned, we have history to prove that prudential restraint has followed, not preceded, improved conditions. Malthus himself admits that the improved conditions of the French peasants were what gave birth to their prudence, and Mill has shown that the professional classes, whose conditions are more nearly dependent on their own industry than any other, are more particular in this regard. Therefore Mr. Walker’s position is in any case entirely illogical and untenable. He admits that the social revolution will have to be made after the families are reduced, but still tells us that the reduction is the first thing to be consummated, while we maintain that, when the revolution is made, the population question will settle itself, as it has done before.
Mr. Walker’s position on the temperance question is perfectly consistent with that on the population question, and I am very glad that he has so declared himself, as it may help to clear off the mist surrounding this subject. Intemperance is, in the main, due to the unjust distribution of wealth, and will disappear with this unjust distribution. Intemperance, as almost every physician will testify, is found mainly in two classes of individuals,— those who have nothing to do, and those who are overworked or whose position is very precarious,— and these two classes will not exist under just conditions. But Mr. Walker, in true scientific fashion, would have us treat results and leave causes untouched.
Intemperance may sometimes cause poverty, as large families may cause poverty; but the point I wish to insist upon is that, by removing all the large families and all the intemperance, the poverty would still remain, while, by removing the poverty, by securing to each what he earned, the intemperance and the large families would in the main disappear. Those cases that remained would then belong to the domain, not of political, but of domestic, economy.
I again repeat that the reduction of the size of families under present conditions is purely a matter of domestic economy,— the gain accruing to isolated individuals being simply due to the majority having large families, for, if the reduction became general, no good would have resulted, as the wages would have fallen in exact proportion. The market for commodities would have been lessened in exact proportion to the reduction in the numbers, and so the over-production and the lack of work would exist as today, and the resulting crime, and vice, and misery. Mr. Walker has again returned to the position which he abandoned sometime ago,— that the prosperity of the whole people could be increased by the reduction in the size of the families. If he only would tell us the position to which he really means to adhere, it would be such a comfort, and our respect for his sense and honesty would be very much increased.
Mr. Walker seems to feel quite hurt that I said he “tended towards Anarchism.” I “take it all back,” for I think now he is tending directly away from it. I did not know, when I compared him some time since to the Christian Temperance women, that he was really so nearly related to them. He is very much more nearly related to them than he is to the Anarchists. He not only is not an Anarchistic socialist, but can lay no claim to being a socialist of any kind. All socialism presupposes that the conditions must he changed before men can be very much better; in other words, as Spencer puts it, “it is impossible to be moral in immoral surroundings.” If it is possible for each individual to work out his own salvation without having regard to any one else, why is Mr. Walker so anxious to have his views spread? Why is he not satisfied with “moralizing” himself and his immediate family, and leaving the rest of the world to its fate?
Gertrude B. Kelly.
A Lady Corrected.
[John Swinton’s Paper.]
We regret to find that we cannot satisfy Miss Gertrude B. Kelly, who has repeatedly scolded us in Liberty. Before quoting a paragraph of her essay in the last number of that able exponent of philosophical and pacific anarchism, we desire to make a few corrections. In the first place we have never “wilfully closed our eyes to the light” that secure to us genuine, or that was delivered to us in the original packages, so to speak. In the second place, every reader of this paper knows that it is an error to say we have devoted “all our time” to the promotion of the eight-hour movement. In the third place, all of our readers know that it is another error to say that the only measure we have promised for turning machinery to the benefit of the laborer is the eight-hour measure; for we have hardly ever referred to the subject without saying that the machinery ought to be owned by the laborers who invent, construct, and operate it. In the next place, no one can have read this paper without knowing that we have incessantly argued in favor of the settlement of the labor question by reason and judgment,— always excepting the case in which we challenged the “Rev.” Jo. Cook to a trial of strength and skill with the broadsword and the arquebuse. Finally, as to dealing with “bottom issues,” we can only say that, if we do not reach the bottom, we frequently get into that region where the primitive ooze darkens the vision. Having made these corrections, it is time to give a show to Miss Gertrude B. Kelly, who recently brought us into a comparison against which she ought to have taken warning from Shakspere. [Here followed the quotation from Miss Kelly’s article. — Editor Liberty.]
John Swinton’s Conscience is Alive!
I have some hope for John Swinton now, as his conscience has at last shown what the biologists tell us is the first sign of life, irritability, or the power of responding to stimulus. For a long time I had thought that he was dead,— dead to all that constitutes real life, justice, and truth. Mr. Swinton says he regrets that he cannot satisfy me. It is my opinion that he has not tried to do so, but it is not for this that I have fault to find with him. What I dislike most in Mr. Swinton is his desire to please the people instead of enlightening them, his desire to go with the tide of popular prejudice (deluding himself with the idea, as so many do, that he is leading, when he is in reality only following the crowd) instead of using his influence as a man of brains and conscience to turn the movement in the right direction.
Mr. Swinton says he has never “wilfully closed his eyes to the light.” Well, if he sees the true light, and does not show it to those who are being deluded by false lights, he is acknowledging himself to be worse than I had painted him. That he is not giving forth what he conceives to be the highest truth was plainly stated by himself sometime ago to one of Liberty’s contributors. He said that all that Liberty was teaching was very true, but that it was beyond the people, that we must remember that we had to deal with the canaille of today, who were not fit for the acceptance of those lofty principles. “He who says that truth is not always to be told, and that it is not fit for all minds, is simply a defender of falsehood; and we should take no notice of him, inasmuch as, the object of discussion being to destroy error, we cannot discuss with a man who deliberately affirms that error should be spared.” [Buckle.]
If John Swinton has not devoted “all his time” to the promotion of the eight-hour movement, he certainly has devoted the greater part of it since the question became a popular one,— that is, to use his own complimentary term, since the canaille have become deluded into the idea that it would Be of benefit to them. If Mr. Swinton does not know that the eight-hour measure is not only no solution of the labor problem, but that it is not even a single step toward its solution, I would respectfully refer him to the study of that philosopher for whom he professes to have the most profound respect, Karl Marx, before he devotes any more of his valuable time to leading the people into a will-o’-thee-wisp chase after happiness. I defy Mr. Swinton to prove that, if he does not touch “bottom issues,” — in other words, if he does not determine what constitutes exact justice,— he can have any other standard by which to decide any question but brute force.
As to the comparison between Mr. Swinton and Mr. Drury, to which Mr. Swinton seems so much to object. Though I do not entirely agree with Victor Drury, I have always placed him, and still place him, immensely above John Swinton. If Mr. Swinton was sure that he was right as to the expulsion of the Chinese, why did he not call the attention of his readers to that article? Why did he not show them the consistency which there was in his treatment of the black men and the yellow men? Or, if he felt that he was wrong, why did he not acknowledge it like a man, as Victor Drury did? Why? Because he does not belong to those of whom the revolution stands in great need,
Who never sell the truth to serve the hour.
Or palter with eternal good for power.
Gertrude B. Kelly.