Georgia & Henry Replogle
Egoism Vol. II. No. 9.
To “Enfant Terrible’s” Subscribers.
“Haven’t We Got the Postoffice?”
Except four “Straws in the Breeze,” this number of EGOISM is homemade.
This number, dated February, is the one that should have appeared in January under a normal condition of things.
From a letter from El Reno, I. T., we note that the Indians, after receiving their supplies from the government, sell the clothes to the whites at twenty-five per cent of their value. There is nothing like a political institution for waste and stupidity. If the Indians do not want clothes, the bill could he saved since no part of it is due them.
We have received the first number of “Free Trade,” a new and neat paper published by Albert Tarn, at 17 Johnson’s Court, Fleet Street, London, E. C. It exposes State superstition from the standpoint of absolute freetrade, and is destined to do a wide scope of good work. We think Mr. Tarn should concentrate all his energies on that publication alone. Its standpoint is primary enough to be appreciated by all, and fundamental enough to consistently cover the whole ground of freedom.
As EGOISM goes to press, “Liberty” arrives, and we learn that ours is the only Anarchistic paper now published on this continent. The editor of “Liberty” is going to move to New York, and that journal will not appear again until about the 16th of April. When we note EGOISM falling behind its regular gait, and “Liberty” thus quickening its step there is not much reason to hurrah for ourselves, but as we cannot do this, then we will hurrah for our side. New York is the proper place for “Liberty” and we hope it will come out an 8-page instead of 4-page weekly. And this volley of good will shoots backward as well; EGOISM has no notion itself of becoming extinct.
The California State Liberal Union at its this year’s convention in this city condemned, since it is popular to do so, Harman and Heywood’s imprisonment, but resolutions relating to more freedom in divorce and marriage were tabled. When others have made these questions popular the Liberal Weather Vane can indorse them also. Freethought organizations have succeeded in nothing else. Individuals have done some educating on their own account, but the organizations have only begged money and disdainfully held their skirts aloof when the advance guard came nigh. There is a kind of “eternal fitness of things” that is gratifying to grown people as they witness these Unions pandering to hairbrained prejudice till they die for lack of an issue.
Ambrose Bierce has said many radical and admirable things, but his labored satire on Senator Ingalls’s remarks concerning the United States navy, was not one of them. Though conspicuously late, Senator Ingalls talked more good sense regarding the navy than we have heard from any politician. Defense is the watchword of wise people, and the land is the place to put it, just as Ingalls said. At any rate, peace does not depend in this commercial age upon presented arms. Subsequent consequences of conduct is what determines it. A man can snatch a purse from a child or ransack a house, but it does not follow that an armed man must accompany the child or stand guard at the door of every house. There is such a thing as common interests and consequences for violating them, and these are the great safeguards of any country just as they are of any community. If Mr. Bierce could show that the navy has done something useful since the civil war, there might be some reason why its men should not earn their living by production as better men do.
The New York “Truth Seeker,” ever ready to slander Anarchism with any means at its command, attempts in its issue of Feb. 20 to emulate Anti-Theology by showing that all Anarchists are not Atheists, and to defame Anarchism through implying that it means violent revolution, by citing the case of some Spanish revolutionist-s who, upon their execution, are said to have accepted religious ministrations. If the “Truth Seeker” did not know the difference between press-dis patch “anarchists” and Anarchists proper, such a break might be excused on the grounds of ignorance, but it knows that the executed men were not Anarchists at all, and that those of its readers who are not posted on the matter will be led to believe that Anarchists and violent revolutionists are the same. This serious misrepresentation of a minority however, seems complacently affordable to that journal as it smarts under the castigation of a “lettered” and loyal Wisconsin monopolist. If it can translate the “handwriting on the wall,” it will at least not falsify a successive issue in an attempt to make a worthless point for a declining one.
In the Helena daily “Independent,” we note an excellent article on “Chinese Exclusion,” by P. H. Burns, one of EGOISM’s readers. That is a step in the right direction. Let every reader post himself or herself or itself thoroughly in economic and social science, then take an active part in the discussion of every question that comes up in the community, treating it from an Egoistic and Anarchistic standpoint. This will bring the merits of our principles to public notice and stimulate thousands to inquiry who would otherwise never hear of the ideas. The literature necessary to fit any one for downing all opposition in argument is plenty, and everyone wastes time enough to make him master of the situation if he were to use it in reading and applying the ideas to the questions of the hour.
The arch bandit of that community, the Oakland Humane Society, has lately perpetrated another of its paternalistic outrages on a young woman who has the affrontery to have children and be miserable without being married. She is said to have been living with some negro men in a hovel, and as the members of the “humane” society would not like to live in that way, they enforced their tastes upon her by throwing her into prison and taking her children away from her; one of them being but eight months old. Before the court she made a most piteous plea for the possession of her children, especially the younger one. This the judge’s tender sympathies could not endure, and he ordered her to her cell. The officer of the invading society feeling the effects, without seeing the enormity of his brutal work, was moved to say that he would consult the physician of the “home” at which the seized children are confined, and if the latter thinks it would not be injurious to entrust the infant to the mother while imprisoned, it will be returned to her. Generous soul! he imprisons a helpless woman who is minding her own business, and if the imprisonment for which he is responsible, does not interfere, he will kindly restore one of the children he has ruthlessly torn away. He had just the same right to invade her social arrangements that she would to enter his home and drag his children away and cause them to follow her habits, but he had before a consistent interpretation of the fundamental social law no better excuse for his conduct. She was invading no one, and there was no complaint, save that somebody wanted her to follow their ideas or get off the earth, and the folly of this the history of Christian martyrdom should fully illustrate. Recklessly breeding more children than a parent can provide for is very undesirable to pitying eyes, but this flagrant violation of equal freedom is a matter that can easily come much nearer home, and should fill every citizen who may differ in his tastes from these moral censors, with dread of persecution. There is no social guarantee where such conduct goes unrebuked; there is no safety except that which wild beasts must resort to, that of concealment, in all matters differing from the whims of the powerful or the popular. If these people really wish to help in such cases as the one they have tyrannized in, there is ample opportunity for persuasion and material aid in the way of bettering their conditions without violating the plainest rights of the unfortunates.
To “Enfant Terrible’s” Subscribers.
The subscribers to “Enfant Terrible” are already aware that their unexpired subscriptions are to be filled with EGOISM. But it is best to announce at the start that EGOISM itself cannot appear regularly before the beginning of Vol. 3. Like “Enfant Terrible,” we publish ideas as nearly to suit ourselves as the law will allow, and are of course glad to see them sometimes meet with approval. However, these columns are open to the editors of “Enfant Terrible,” and they will undoubtedly still find time to gratify their former readers with at least some of their thoughts as the tape of time slides through the fingers of consciousness.
EGOISM is now the youngest of the only two consistently Anarchistic papers published on this continent, and it needs every effort of every friend of the common cause to extend its circulation.
“Haven’t We Got the Postoffice?”
Yes, and we have got it badly—so badly that it is next to impossible to do business in some most necessary lines. It is a dog in the manger, that will neither eat the hay nor let the horse have it. It will not give uniform rates on exactly the same service, and will not allow those to go into the business who would. It has two effective ways to shut out competition. One is to collect a tribute from a competing carrier, equal to the amount it charges for the same service, and the other is to underbid any approximative cost rate that a rival might name, by making up the loss from the public treasury. The tyranny of collecting the price of a service without rendering any part of it is apparent, as is also the injustice of taxing some citizens, who do not use the mail service, to serve others below cost who do use it. But it is a still more marked outrage when this machinery is used to make some rich while it drives others in a similar vocation, out of business by refusing them a like service at the same rates. Having to sell at similar prices, and buy material and labor at like prices, such individuals or companies cannot pay eight times as much for carrying, and consequently are obliged to go out of business, losing much capital invested and the benefit of years’ of apprenticeship in their particular line. ’ Thus it deprives some of the means of honest livelihood while it taxes them to subsidize others engaged in a similar vocation.
Its latest break is in the case of “Printers’ Ink,” a journal devoted to the art of advertising. The paper is very valuable as an instructor to advertisers, and is closely read by all the progressive ones. It is also a valuable advertising medium, being patronized by many of the largest business establishments in the country. But our State Socialistic mail service has not learned yet that advertising is a legitimate and necessary aid to commerce, so it proposes to kill the standard authority on the subject by discriminating against it in rates. This, because it gets its money by teaching people how to advertise and where to get goods, instead of how to get to a Jehovah’s park, or how to elect a certain politician to office.
If a million persons subscribe for a publication and send the money direct to the publisher, our communistic carrier will carry the million copies to the subscribers below cost. But if only five thousand persons order goods from a dealer at a price that enables him to send them a paper as part, it costs him eight times as much per pound‘ to have it carried as it does the other paper shipper. The same institution will receive a monthly paper at San Francisco and deliver it on the Atlantic coast in the farthest separated parts of any city or cities at the rate of one cent a pound, but to deliver it in a box in the same building at home, it must have one cent for each two ounces or a fraction thereof. It will charge you two cents for carrying a letter weighing the fraction of an ounce, that will not bring you a cent, but for a paper that brings you a good profit, it will charge only one-cent a pound. Yet it cannot allow an advertising paper pound rates, lest it aid private fortune at public-expense.
A publication may give premiums of a value that more than covers the subscription price, making the paper free, and it will go at pound rates, but whoever gives advertising as a premium must pay ounce rates. If you give away subscriptions till your advertising space is worth enough to cover them, you are all right, but if you sell your advertising space for enough to cover subscriptions you are all wrong. You may grow rich giving away subscriptions and selling advertising, but if you give away subscriptions to sell advertising, you will be squelched for using a public carrier for private gain. In this case the difference between tweedledee and tweedledum is the difference between being in business or out of business.
All this absurdity, bungling, and tyranny is due to but one thing, and that is State management. Nobody in particular is responsible; nobody in particular’s capital or livelihood is at stake. There is no loser in consequence of wretched business principles except the customer, and since no rival service is allowed there is neither relief for him nor damage to the institution. He can take it as he can get it, or do without, it makes not the slightest difference to a concern which in its very nature can have no incentive to accommodate, from either gain or accountability. Theoretically it is the servant of the people and amenable to them, but complaint is useless here, for they are never in, and cannot be seen. The man you talk to can take no responsibility, should he even so desire, and you are referred from one department to another till you come to a “construction” of the law by the head of the departments, and if that is absurd and unjust, you can go before congress if you are insane enough to think it will desert its boodle games to decide against a colleague. After congress ignores you you can go before all the people of the United States and convince them that your point, relating to your business, is more important to them than all their political interests and prejudices, and they will get up new platforms and send men to congress who will adjust your matter. Of course the nature of your business demanded immediate attention, and would have received it at the hands of any company doing business for gain. And of course three years’ delay has annihilated your business and the expenses of agitation have bankrupted you, and the people could not see the pay in troubling themselves about the management of a business that brings no returns. But you have appealed to the proper authority according to the theory. You have also learned that our State Socialistic postoffice is a failure, and totally irresponsible. You have found that redress for a grievance is impossible, since you cannot try a man before himself. It is also impossible to ascertain in advance what will pass under the regulations, for no one being responsible to any one in particular, official prejudice, which is an unknown quantity and quality, may construe to suit itself or its friends. In short, there is back of it not a solitary motive for either economy, business policy, or progress. It is simply a great political machine whose members can be interested in nothing but their salaries and emoluments, and these in no way depend upon the impartiality and efficiency with which the business is conducted, or the price of its service to the public. It is in every sense such an inexpressibly ridiculous and inexcusable monstrosity that nothing but a generally unanalyzed superstitious reverence for political authority can account for its co-existence with a business world so exacting and economical in most other departments.
The publishers of “Printers’ Ink” are agitating for a consistent and definite law as to what shall constitute a paper entitled to pound rates. Even with their immense leverage this is improbable, though their paper may be reinstated. But the principal and permanent work to be done, lies in agitation for the abolishment of State monopoly of this and all other business. There is no more reason why the State should monopolize mail carrying than why it should do the same with advertising, farming, or any other vocation. Let it work on business principles, charging for each kind of service rate that will cover the expense of carrying, and let as many other companies go into the business as wish to, and the people will have a service at approximate cost, and with all the efficiency they care to pay for. There would then be no excuse for censorship on the grounds of free rates, and all would be treated alike.
Yes, we have got the postoffice and much other State superstition very bad, and we are likely to have more State Socialism before we have less. God, king, president—rule, rule, rule. Sense, equal freedom, and economy later.
Oakland has jute mills, which are useful, and a Humane Society and board of education which might be more so if they knew more than they do. The jute mills have work--which children can do, and at which they can earn from $3 to $6 per week. But the State, characteristic of political authority, has provided a law to prevent them thus helping themselves or parents unless they are twelve years old, but as usual it has made no provisions to be responsible for the wages it deprives its subjects of, by substituting an equivalent. Such is no part of its function; its function is to despoil, to destroy without responsibility. That fact, however, does not prevent this “humane” society springing the irresistible State deadfall upon the helpless victims which its privilege has created. The society has some spoils which it is willing to change for glory where there is no cheaper way to get it, but in this case the glory can be secured by the State’s sword, and the consequences to the helpless does not deter these meddlers. It is evident that it is glory alone that the society seeks, or it would contrive to really help those With whose affairs it meddles. The childrens’ parents and friends did what they could to evade the preying of these privilege crows, but the mills had to discharge some of the little workers and turn them out to live on the air and the laurels of the Humane Society. In one instance a mother had sent her nine-year-old son with a letter to the superintendent of the mills beseeching him to give the little fellow employment, as she was starving. The superintendent did so, giving the boy $3 per week. But the pressure of Christian love and lucre law forced the child’s discharge, and he and his mother may get on as best they can, while the mongers of land titles and privileged gold rub their gouty knees and congratulate themselves as saviors of society.
The board of education has found in this howl an opportunity for its little shovel also, and proposes to enforce the compulsory education law with which it has been provided to gather political pap. The children are to be “educated” whether they have food, books, and clothing or not. The election-day sovereign voters who are the parents of these children, are competent on polling days to decide over a minority of sages even, who shall rule the country, but they have not sense enough to direct so small a matter as the education of their children! The fact that the city schools are really dressing parades, and that parents who are in a condition that requires their children’s labor to secure an existence cannot compete with the better to do in this respect, and that children not so dressed will be subjected to the taunts and even cruelty of youthful viciousness, weighs not at all with these political saviors. The dominance of the popular authority superstition, and the harvest of notoriety such action will bring, is too much for them to see over. Besides they are fairly pushed ahead by the State Socialistic labor unions of the place, who have also a little pull in the matter in the way of magnifying the importance of labor legislation, on the wave of which agitation some of their members hope for the double satisfaction of being tossed upon the public crib and saving society “a little” at the same time. Thus these stranger-laborers—so strange that they can scarcely communicate their commonest wants in our tongue, become grist for our whole mill, even to furnishing organized labor their bones to fertilize State Socialism.
If to really help these children was the purpose of the Humane Society, it should have placed the case before those in the community who have managed to get the wealth, and then contrived to secure for the parents at a rent that they could pay, quarters near enough the center to enable the children to attend night schools that the society could have provided at cost, or free. And if this were not satisfactory, it could be intensified by finding other children—children from the stock of the saviors themselves—to take the places of the factory children for two or three hours each day while the latter attended a course of instruction provided near by. This would add useful experience to the education of the substitutes and cause them to appreciate their own good fortune, while it would win them the gratitude instead of the hatred of the little laborers, as is now the case. By conferring with the mill owners and the parents, the society could have arranged all this and received the help and interest of both, instead of their opposition, as is true of the crude and brutal military method employed, while it can accomplish nothing but greater privation for the unfortunate, and a disgracefully cheap glory for the society.
If the Humane Society wants to do something consistent with its name and pretensions, let it labor for immediate relief by actually helping, and for ultimate relief from that necessity, by educating and agitating for the cessation of the privilege that prevents access to unoccupied but useful space on the earth’s surface, and that prevents free exchange of products. People who receive the full product of their labor will readily educate their children of their own accord, and if they should not, there would still be no reason for forcing them to. The plea that the children may become criminal charges upon society’s hands if they are not “educated,” will not go; it does not follow in fact, and if it should, society is not justified in becoming criminal first by violating the equal freedom of innocent people through any such anticipatory presumption. It is a most flagrant violation of the only principle by which comparatively equal factions can live without expending all their energy in a mutual destruction. The Humane Society is guilty of the only criminal act in connection with the jute mill disturbance. There is the fact of course, that children too young to work more than two or three hours a day have to work more than ten, but that is due to an economic condition for which the ignorance of the greater part of society is responsible, and is not overt in its nature as is true of the act which violently forces individuals to accept others’ choice in these individuals’ private affairs. That is what the Humane Society and labor organizations have done with the parents of the jute mill children, besides shortening their means of living. Thou shalt not is the height of offense, the moment it leaves defense.
Our Communist Contemporary.
Some time ago J. W. Sullivan, of the “Twentieth Century,” in announcing the appearance of the Portland, Or., “Freedom” said, “it has already mastered the phraseology of Anarchism and the philosophy of selfishness.” If that is as clear an insight as he can get from his reading, it is no wonder that he remains a Governmentalist and Moralist in spite of the logic that has come before his eyes. The paper referred to has mastered neither the phraseology of Anarchism nor the philosophy of selfishness, and little else than the declamation of emotionalism. It knows possibly less about the principles of Anarchism and Egoism than Mr. Sullivan himself, and seems just as determined not to learn them. It proclaims itself an Anarchist-Communist, and bears such earmarks in every particular from the usual confusion of ideas, to its make-up. It has no appreciation of the “philosophy of selfishness” except that unanalyzed kind of appreciation of self, which is so sanguine that it involuntarily hisses at the thought of an interest relating altogether to another. So far is “Freedom” from the mastery of the indicated philosophy, that it cannot bear the idea of a generalization looking to the securing of each his own product, lest one producing more, would have more to enjoy than another producing less (with like opportunity of course). This is the very essence of babyishness and a fair sample of the emotionalism that does duty as logic throughout the paper’s propaganda.
In the number of Jan. 16, J. H. Morris, one of its editors, undertakes to criticise J. Wm. Lloyd’s late review in EGOISM of “News from Nowhere,” and also my review of that review. He succeeds in exposing not only a hopeless ignorance of Egoism and Anarchism, but of logic as well:
Referring to Communism, Lloyd says there will always be rebels against an order of society that allows incompetents to share equally with the competents. Here he shows his competitivist tendency. Competitivism is the opposite of Communism and is based on that “competency” idea; that is, a man is entitled to all he is competent to accumulate. The poor devil who has by honest toil added ten dollars per day for twenty or thirty years, to the world’s wealth and has to die in the poorhouse, is an incompetent. Another, who has never done a stroke of useful work, rolls in wealth—he is a competent man. There, you have the competency idea in a nutshell. He who expects to carry this old idea of inequality into the new social system has yet to emancipate his mind from commercialism. I do not see why one who has proved “incompetent” under the present system should wish it changed to another whose basic principle is the same, unless he thought it a little better adapted to his special abilities for becoming a monopolist.
Neither do I see how I would be supposed to think a system with basic principles the same as the present, would be any better adapted to my abilities for becoming a monopolist than the present one is. But it is easy to see that if the writer of the above sentences ever penned any Anarchistic; phraseology he must have copied it, for there is no indication that he knows anything about Anarchism itself. If he did he would know that his man is shorn of his products through the exactions that privilege imposes, and that the absence of privilege is the first principle of the Anarchistic idea of industrial freedom; that his “competent man,” enjoying without producing the material, could exist only by present legal privilege or by the provisions of Communism, which would also take from the producer and give to the non-producer. Mr. Morris evidently has no idea of the nature of competition; that it is the antidote for monopoly, and that in even its present restricted state, it is the only thing that prevents some individual owning the world. He does not understand that with equal opportunity, it stimulates production and multiplies luxuries at labor cost, while it maintains equity without the expense, blunders, and prejudice of regulative administration. He does not conceive that commerce,—-exchange—is the basis of social existence, and that interference with it by the community superstition is the cause of the poverty and tyranny of the present.
Of the effect of equal opportunity; of the nature and equity of free competition, and of the social character of the let-alone principle, this alleged master of Egoism and Anarchistic phraseology has not even dreamed. His idea of sociability seems to be the community toothbrush, spoon, bath, and towel. But some otherwise agreeable people, regard it all the more sociable in one not to clean his teeth with their private brushes; not to slabber on their private spoons, and not to wipe the exudation from his poorly-washed face and eyes on their private towels. This is the Egoistic conception of social intensity, and the principle that Anarchism applies also to industrialism. When Mr. Morris has taken the time and trouble to understand these principles he will have less terror of “competitivism,” and as great an abhorrence of industrial meddling as he now has of sexual meddling. He can learn the lesson on competition, and much more, from Proudhon’s “Economical Contradictions,” and the spirit and philosophy of Egoistic ethics may be gleaned from the columns of this paper.
The following is Mr. Morris’s idea of our bond to society:
Under Communism I think there would be no objection to, and certainly no force to prevent, a man’s withdrawing himself and his belongings. But if he concludes society is of no use to him, to be consistent he should be willing to withdraw taking with him only that which he would have possessed, and becoming what he would have been, had he never known society or its benefits; that would be a savage, or worse. To make use of the things—including all scientific knowledge and every useful invention—which a community of interests and efforts can alone produce, without contributing to the community’s needs, is to become a parasite.
How sensitive on the parasite question, this man who preaches: “From each according to his ability, and to each according to his present need,” regardless, necessarily, of contribution to the general fund. How thoughtful of society’s property in ideas. But if I may take my other property away, why not a like share of that in ideas, especially since I shall leave as much among others as though I had taken none. However, since my intellectual impressions cannot be separated from me, and since if each member should withdraw his person from society there would be no knowledge left it, I conclude that society as a proprietor, aside from the individual and his belongings, is a myth, and that Communism is itself more nearly an expression of savagery than of civilization, seeing that the savage strata of mental complexity is somewhat the more prone to myth chasing.
But the Egoist does not indicate that he wishes to withdraw from society in its comprehensive sense. On the contrary, as indicated in a preceding paragraph, he is more sociable and more appreciative of social benefits than the Communist. The Egoist strives to intensify social intercourse by retaining its advantages and eliminating as many of the unpleasant features of social compromise as possible. His Anarchistic polity insures equal opportunity and leaves each to handle his own affairs to suit himself without interfering with others, thus effecting conditions susceptible of the least hostility possible. His Egoistic ethics prevents him expecting or exacting Duty from any one, and puts him in such an intelligent sympathy with the spirit of a given opposition, that he can view it with more of the justice of a disinterested party, and avoid the extremes of retaliation identified with fanatical indignation. His policy fosters every advantage of every kind of mutual exchange, while it provides the most satisfactory methods for the disposal of those interests which are in their nature conflicting. Of all people, Egoists are pre-eminently the Socialists. They ask nothing better than the liberty to withdraw their property from a society that would collectively claim even the impressions that objects make on the individual’s brain. They would straightway proceed to inaugurating among themselves the order of each one minding his own business, and would set an example that would capture the world by its justice and harmony. Society does not need rebuilding; it needs simply liberty. Recognized self-interest in unrestricted competition, would spontaneously evolve a justice of defensive and reciprocal exactitude that would despair the efforts of the most delicate theorist to describe.
I find that I am a good deal of trouble to myself in pursuit of the habit of life; I have to be doing things all the while of which I am keenly cognizant. Since W. S. Bell has come home I have been sleeping in the kitchen on a palsied cot and an empty stomach—my own stomach—I sleep alone. I use the cot to evade depriving Mr. Bell of his bed, and the vacant stomach to digest the otherwise lumpy reflections of my sleep. I lie on the top edge of the cot and hang a season-cracked comfortable over me, which makes us together look very like a clotheshorse draped with a cow’s paunch and its appurtenances. After reviewing my day’s failures I listen awhile to Mr. Bell intently breathing in an audible voice in the next room, then I fall asleep and sometimes worse, although never from virtue. At first I tried rolling over when I wanted the other side up, and was saved from falling into the cigar store below only by the interposition of the floor located between us. I now revolve on the comb of the structure, and thus defeat gravitation. I suppose it will have to hobble about now as best it can without feet, but, being crippled, perhaps it won’t be so lively next time in slamming sleeping innocence on a floor that remains, under all pressures, a given distance from the earth. My nocturnal hibernation is interspersed, however, with other incidents. I pump oxygen through an open window, and it is often mixed with the exclamations of immodest cats, and of roosters who have a habit of yelling in their sleep. Then about 3 o’clock the milkman comes up the back stairs like a barrel-rack of empty breadpans, and at 5 o’clock the alarm explodes and goes off into hysterics, cutting me off in the midst of a dream, which is the only state of mind in which I ever succeeded in getting things to go satisfactorily for a recognizable length of time. I then swing off my orbit and immediately wish for a fire. After I have kindled one I perpetrate breakfast, and try my wife with a tablefork to determine whether she is done—eating. I think it would be a brilliant scheme also with which to get her out of bed; I shall try it when we have an extra fork. When I have devoured, I start into my routine of exhorting my wife’s little niece and making EGOISM between declamations. All these things and the absence of many others reassure me of my continued presence and its inconveniences. I don’t like to kindle a fire even when I’m right in the kitchen, especially when it is the cool anterior of a service which furnishes me only my “finding” and a continual anxiety about losing even that.
My wife is anxious that I become a great and successful journalist most any time now, and offers me every advantage in her power to remuneratively accomplish the feet, which I have carried about and spent money on all these years. It is perceptible that I have not successfully managed EGOISM, and in order that I might get some pointers on the policy and principal features of a successful magazine, she brought me the February number of “The Ladies’ Home Journal.” Its main point is purported proof by productions from the pens of daughters of great parentage, that genius is inherited. Almost the first thing that I noticed was a flat contradiction by the facts, of the editor’s assertion that this is proven by the evidence adduced. Here I had the secret of success: assert what is flattering about those who are popular, and assert that facts hear you out whether they do or not. It matters not that a few may discover and point out the error; you can easily show that they are cranks.
The first sprout from greatness as catalogued in the aforesaid journal, is the daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I never met Nate, but with the other hawthorns I am feelingly familiar, having had them in my side on numerous occasions and Sundays. This thorn sticks on the “Love of an American Girl.” And its ideal and some of its ideas indicate that the writer must have inherited so much genius that it was unnecessary to put any indication of it in her effort. She wears her hair like the feminine number of the “Enfant Terrible,” but if the latter cannot write a story with a better ideal and ideas, she needn’t sit again on the foot of our bed and hug my wife, while I hang by the chin on my knuckles and the front end of a suppressed regret. I am opposed to regrets, anyway.
The next feature of that conducted journal is the shoulder, cheek, and hair of the right side of President Harrison’s daughter. I think it must be the right side or she wouldn’t have turned it out. At least, she don’t seem to be wrong side out. She has certainly inherited a great shoulder from a prominent man, and must have put it to the wheel too, when she was photographed, or we would come face to face with the shadow of a mental greatness that could not have been inherited. Her effort is on the training of children and contains, aside from some silly religious gush, more sense than the rest of the family combined have ever made public. It is more than a representative article on the representative vocation of the people; for there is little else besides the breeding and pasturing of children that the majority accomplishes. He most marked training of these on this coast, is under the wheels of the local trains in Oakland.
The third halo of inherited ponderosity is an article from the daughter of Senator Ingalls the flinty Atheist. It is on Mrs. Stanford, and reveals the glowing mettle of the gifted sire by declaring: “Mrs. Stanford’s friends are legion, for no one comes beneath the influence of her beautiful Christian spirit without feeling for her something deeper than a mere acquaintanceship.” [The italics are mine, or my wife’s rather, along with the rest of “our” plant.] The greatness of Miss Ingalls’s sentiment could easily have been inherited from a flock of geese or a religious tract house. There is also a cut of Mrs. Stanford’s brooch and bust. She has an abundance of hair, brilliant bangs, and a made countenance. She is talented too, managing, besides breathing and eating, to audit and pay the household bills. The latter is indeed, an extraordinary accomplishment, one that I have striven all my life to attain, and a matter in which some of the brightest men fail. Whoever can pay his bills has reason to congratulate himself, so have his creditors. I believe, however, that I could do it if I had Mr. Stanford’s income to draw from, as Mrs. Stanford has, but a sorghum-mixed mustard plaster couldn’t bring it from my resources.
Then for a variation of implied minor importance, the next sketch is of a subject with some brains: Kate Greenaway, who is responsible for those mummyish costumes that an aping populace dresses its infant squall in. The gable ends of her shoulders swing considerably below a level with her throat, and one is impressed that among the other delusions she hugs, men are not conspicuous—at least not when being hugged. Her neck-sleeve reaches clear to her chin and ears, and her hair is not half combed. I suppose she grows busy and leaves it till next day. Some other painting girls who have to economize by using their faces for canvas also leave their hair till next day—in scraps of tin or paper. The bulblet from genius who magnifies Miss Greenaway, is the daughter of Sir Morell Mackenzie, and does her work as well as an ordinary newspaper reporter whose father possesses the originality to produce his own living.
Next comes the daughter of Charles Dickens with “What My Father Taught Us,” first of which it seems, was a prayer. What in the dickens the old Dickens taught the little Dickens such jamesnastics for is more than I can divine, unless it was because he didn’t know any better. Another of his virtues was teaching self-reliance to the little Dickens by compelling them to count out their own washing to the laundress! To count out washing to a lawn dress, seems pretty tough for well-to-do folks to impose for mere training’s sake, but I am just aching to win fame and rest by going Dickens one better, in compelling my wife’s little niece, when she is big enough, to wash her own clothes, laundress and all, after she has counted them. In her case, however, the shortness of the count may materially neutralize the heroic effect of the training. The accompanying portrait of Miss Dickens did not have much clothes on except some kind of a necklace or charm to prevent nosebleed, I take it. She also wears a large and forcible nose, which broadens at the end in a way to indicate intense satisfaction from the largest-sized and most absorbing pleasurable sensations, and the chin and chest seem to fully coincide, and outside too. She should be susceptible of being as broadly, though perhaps not so widely appreciated as her father. Her literary inheritance seems to consist chiefly of proceeds from her father’s copyrights.
Horace Greeley’s daughter wears a domestic expression and nursery smile, and tells how nice and good and wise she thinks her father was. But I have read his controversy with Stephen Pearl Andrews in “Love, Marriage, and Divorce,” and am not deceived. His was the strata of emotion without philosophy. His daughter has inherited this and also some of his property, evidently.
General Sherman’s daughter wears a pumpadoor-necked dress and steely countenance, and contributes a story of war horrors with all the assurance of its necessity that could be assumed of the necessity of equal freedom. It is an echo of two decades ago, which in its turn was echoed from a primitive crudity reasoning with the logic of annihilation. In this case there is evidence that that genus, if not the genius of great parentage was transmitted. I am delighted to see political killers exhibit their refinement, but I am not grateful for a dearth of fool-killers.
Now there comes an indispensable contribution to literature from the daughter of Captain Marryat. It consists of a picture of her billowy bosom, parlor expression, and a recipe for wearing diamonds—if you can get them. In the function of a nervous litterateur’s armchair, she would certainly be very able, and even pleasant to marry at.
Then comes Julia Ward Howe’s litter of literary posterity. The first contributes a mother-goose-schoolgirl-humoristic poem and her picture, which looks that of a contented modern wife in easy circumstances. Her greatness evidently runs in the direction of ease.
The second furnishes a more interesting theme, in a cut of her neck, bare shoulder, and a contribution on “Country Maids and City Wives.” The latter is artistically written, I think, and has some good ideas, but the former get there in great shape. They are sure to elicit wide-spread interest, if not even illicit interest. They are a remark that one wants to peruse again and again. She says among many other things that “in the city we learn to love humanity.” Let me add: especially, if it has overflowing shoulders, a beautiful neck, and tapering limbs. In this forequarter portrait and the accompanying arrangement of letters, the successful editor has a fact of some greatness ‘whether it was inherited or not. I like four-quarters because they make a dollar, and because they cannot make me languid.
The third of Mrs. Howe’s transmitted evidences wears a ruche and a Sunday school visage, and writes historically on “The Childhood of My Mother.”
Among a dozen other shoots of greatness, Fannie Davenport and Maude Banks write creditable articles regarding the stage, and Jeff Davis’s daughter shows some originality in treating “The American Girl Who Studies Abroad.” I can’t afford to treat any girl, abroad or a home.
After the “great” delusions, come the departments of the ladies’ mental garbage cart. Bob Burdette gets some amusing hash from a “New Inkstand.” I never could get much from an inkstand besides pools of ink on the tablecloth and carpet, and lickings on toast, or about that temperature. But an inkstand is a good stand to take, if you can get hold of a nice one. It is better than to stand on the burning deck, but not as good as “standing in.”
“The King’s Daughters” follows Burdette’s corner, and is edited by Mrs. M. Bottome. A glance at its contents reveals that at least the top of no cerebrum-bearing organism could emit such drivel as type is contorted into by the “old woman” of these daughters. She declares, in addressing young mothers, that she has learned her deepest lessons from her children. Her productions attest the truthfulness of this statement and that the posterity of a flounderess would not have been too flat to inculcate the vacuum sustained by her hemlet. While preaching unselfishness, she is an obtrudingly general favorite with herself, and a regular pull-the-hair-out-of—their-noses chum with Jesus and God.
Befittingly, but unfortunately, this froth from mental imbecility is followed by Talmage. He should follow wild geese to the north pole and blow up there. The standing disgrace of the age is the popularity of this mental horsefiddle. His page, however, has a humorous feature. It is a picture of the mammoth theological gander himself under his study lamp. Just as though he ever studied! And as if to tempt a thunderbolt from a clear sky, instead of seeming the least intent and occupied, his head is thrown back and his neck craned like that of a young rooster who has just made an audible attempt at crowing, and is looking for the back fence, ash heap, and rain barrel to applaud him. Yet the stupid readers of “The Ladies’ Home Journal” can look at that picture without laughing.
Then comes “Side Talks With Girls,” and if indoctrinations ever bore fruit, as well as all the sensible people who witness their workings, these “Side Talks” are the strongest evidence of Talmage’s senseless blaring. This department is edited by a woman with a heavy crop of hair which seems to have soaked up all her intellectual energy, and obliges her to run a lot of second-hand monogamic chaff through the sex mill to keep the stones from grinding each other, while the flour of the family should remain batter. Of course people are all made in pairs for each other like shoes, and are dumped into a heap to be assorted by a game of hide and seek, to be conducted in the spirit of cat courting, in which there is an excessive amount of squalling for the market value of the kittens. There is also a recipe for girls to caterwaul by, and an apology from the editor more pointless than her preceding remarks. There is evidently a woman question, but if it is to be judged by the difference between the matter of this department, and that of the boy’s, which follows, it is obviously a question of brains.
All this is but the grazingest glance at the principal features of a successful American journal. Is EGOISM to become a great and successful publication. Hardly,—at least that is the way it has been doing it. The paper shall never be lowered from its present plane by pandering to a brainless mob, as “The Ladies’ Home Journal” has. I prefer to give it into the hands of a couple strong and deliberate truckmen once we are compelled to get out from over the German cigar store in order to supply a growing trade.