“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 present increasing political chaos is a good omen in Anarchistic eyes,— not because it is chaos, but because it is the forerunner, more or less immediate, of a truer social order.
Reaching Colfax, Iowa, on a Sunday, during his recent Western stumping-tour, General Butler, being called on for a speech from the car platform, declined to respond. “I cannot talk politics on Sunday,” objected the presidential candidate of the organ of the National Liberal League.
Liberty is in receipt, from Mr. William Potts, secretary of the Civil Service Reform Association of New York, of interesting documents setting forth what that organization has accomplished, and of a postal card, upon which I am requested to state whether Liberty is “in sympathy with a reform of the Civil Service upon the basis of competitive and other examinations to test the fitness of applicants and appointments simply upon grounds of fitness, and not for partisan reasons.” I returned the postal card to Mr. Secretary Potts, with the following announcement upon it of my adhesion to his movement: “Liberty regards all civil government based on compulsory taxation as necessarily and essentially a fraud, and is interested to see it get as poor service as possible. In Liberty’s opinion no poorer service could be given it than that which would result from the system of competitive examinations, and on that ground only Liberty sympathizes with your proposed reform.”
It is interesting to note contrasts of opinion. The attention of Liberty’s readers has already been called to the humanitarian wish of the Providence “Press” that “such men as Elisée Reclus” might be “promptly shot.” Now, one would suppose that to justify this wish one of two things must be true,— either Reclus must be a very wicked man or his writings must be very disastrous in their effects. But both of these things are questioned by a journal quite as reputable as the “Press,” the Boston “Transcript,” which says: “Such an Anarchist as Reclus may shame us by his blameless life and his work, but in this country his words will have little effect.” Between these seemingly contradictory views I am forced to the opinion of my friend, Mr. Seaver, of the “Investigator,” that “before Reclus is shot, it may be well to read what he says.” Blunt’s “Wind and Whirlwind” is the occasion of a similar discrepancy of view among the critics. For instance, Mrs. Sara A. Underwood tells the readers of the “Index” that it is by no means an extraordinary production, just a fair, every-day sort of thing, while John Boyle O’Reilly in the “Pilot” pronounces it “a poem of remarkable strength and noble purpose” to the “sublimity of which “no extract can do justice.” But this second contrast is less puzzling than the first to those who read these critics, for all such know in advance how much higher must be the poetical standard adopted by a person of Mrs. Underwood’s lofty imaginative faculty and musical nature than that which satisfies the discordant and prosaic soul of Boyle O’Reilly.
George Chainey, everything by turns and nothing long, has joined the Spiritualists. I wish him joy of his pottage.
Though Donn Piatt, in his letter to John Swinton reprinted in another column, overestimates the importance of the tariff question and misapprehends the Democratic party’s intentions regarding it, he “sizes up” Ben Butler most accurately and graphically and shows the absurdity of the prevalent idea that there is anything Jeffersonian about that worshipper of Power.
Mr. Ross Winans has begun vigorous prosecution of crofters for trespass on his Scotch game preserve of a quarter of a million acres. Mr. Winans and other preservers of game are devoid of understanding. If they persist in depriving the crofter of the small pleasure of poaching for pheasants, they will put into his head the idea that it is his duty to go gunning for larger game.
Governor St. John is a reputable man, and as for the cause he represents, though it may not be universally approved of, it certainly is not immoral. — [New York Sun.] Any attempt to interfere with the personal rights of others, any use of force to compel them to conform to our views of right in matters affecting their own conduct, is a violation of Liberty. Any violation of Liberty is immoral. The cause of prohibition is the cause of tyranny. Prohibition certainly is immoral.
Mr. Jones, the wealthy iron-manufacturer who is attending to the financial business of one of the swindling devices known as a political party, says that manufacturers must be governed by “a cold, deliberate calculation of cost.” This is well enough perhaps, but what will become of Mr. Jones’s swindling schemes when the laborer and the capitalist shall be governed literally by deliberate calculation of cost? What Mr. Jones really means is that industry must be governed by cold calculation of the capitalist’s interest. He uses the word “cost” without understanding it. He should, some day, calculate the cost of the political chicanery he is engaged in promoting.
The Boston “Herald,” which enjoys the distinction of being one of the most ignorant and narrow-minded journals of its class, says there is no descent from Thomas Carlyle to Oscar Wilde. “Wilde,” says the “Herald,” “is a crank; so was Carlyle. The Scotch philosopher was a man of brains. So is the aesthete. Both believed in advertising themselves, and both were fond of posing for popular admiration! Where is the descent?” If the extensively misinformed person who is employed to disseminate ignorance through the editorial columns of the “Herald” would take the trouble to read Carlyle’s writings and borrow brains enough to understand them, he would discover that the author of “Sartor Resartus” was one of the cranks by which the world is turned, and that he devoted his life and genius to something quite different from posing for popular admiration. The descent from Carlyle to Wilde is even greater than that from Socrates to Alcibiades, but I have no doubt that the “Herald” editor admires Wild more than he does the other three. Wild has brains, but the “Herald” cannot tell how they have been used to any purpose as yet. It know the young man only as an eccentric clothes-rack.
If the people of the United States, (meaning “the majority”) want to put Mr. Blaine in the White House, says the New York “Herald,” they have a right to do so. The Herald says Blaine is a bad man and a calamity to the country, and yet declares that, if a majority of the people want a bad man to govern the minority, it is perfectly right that the bad man should so govern. In the Herald’s ethics, the difference between right and wrong is purely arithmetical. One vote is enough to make a virtue of the blackest crime.
If Eleanor Marx Aveling, the daughter of Karl Marx, is as badly informed on other subjects as on that of her father’s own writings, she will not make John Swinton as reliable a foreign correspondent as that worthy editor desires and deserves. In her letter of August 23 to his Paper she says: “This same dear old friend [F. Engels] is just now very hard at work supervising a German translation of my fathers work in answer to Proudhon’s La Misére de la Philosophie.” Let me inform Eleanor that Proudhon never wrote any such work, and consequently her father could not have answered it. What her father did do—and he might have been in better business—was to write a work called La Misére de la Philosophie in attempted answer to that unanswerable work of Proudhon, Systéme des Contradictions Economiques, ou, Philosophie de la Misére.
“Edgeworth” is considerably annoyed and not a little frightened because I have published Elisée Reclus’s “Anarchist on Anarchy,” feeling, evidently, a friendly anxiety lest Liberty shall be compromised by Reclus’s denunciation of private property, and is sending out notes of warning in all directions to forestall misapprehension. I assure my good friend that he might be using that brilliant pen of his more advantageously. I published Reclus’s essay because on the whole it tells mightily for Liberty, just as I sell and publish many other things of right tendencies which nevertheless contain sometimes serious errors and inconsistencies, trusting confidently to the great body of Liberty’s propaganda to preserve the equilibrium and overcome with its resistless current all reactionary eddies. In this instance, however, I removed all danger of compromise by the insertion of one or two foot-notes showing how tender I am on the point of individual possession. Be not afraid of error, “Edgeworth;” it is a pitifully weak thing. I must protest, too, against the same writer’s frequent apologies for Proudhon, at least until be has read and understood Proudhon’s writings. “Property is robbery” is more than a “superficial satire of dishonest practices;” it is the motto of a profound philosophy with which “Edgeworth” is substantially in sympathy and in behalf of which he is doing most admirable service. “Edgeworth” has not yet comprehended Proudhon’s use of the word “property,” and will not until he reads “What is Property?” Even then he may think it an unwise use. Perhaps; but in answer I point to results. The persistence and growth of the revolutionary force of Europe, so far as it is due at all to individual thought and work, is the consequence of the scientific (note this adjective, State Socialist!) sanity of Proudhon’s thought and methods in contrast with the mysticism of the Lerouxs, the Blancs, the Owens, the Fouriers, the Cabets, and all the rest of the illuminati.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 50.
“When? Have you not always told me that everything rests on money?”
“And do you really think me, then, so stupid that I cannot understand books and draw conclusions from premises?”
“But again I ask you what conclusion. Really, my dear Verotchka, I do not understand you.”
“Oh! the strategist! He too wants to be a despot and make me dependent upon him! No, that shall not be, Dmitry Sergueitch; do you understand me now?”
“Speak, and I will try to understand.”
“Everything rests on money, you say, Dmitry Sergueitch; consequently, whoever has money has power and freedom, say your books; then, as long as woman lives at man’s expense, she will be dependent on him, will she not? You thought that I could not understand that, and would be your slave? No, Dmitry Sergueitch. I will not suffer your despotism; I know that you intend to be a good and benevolent despot, but I do not intend that you shall be a despot, at all. And now this is what we will do. You shall cut off arms and legs and administer drugs; I, on the other hand, will give lessons on the piano. What further plans shall we form about our life?”
“Perfect, Verotchka! Let every woman maintain with all her strength her independence of every man, however great her love for and confidence in him. Will you succeed? I know not, but it matters little: whoever arrives at such a decision is already almost secure against servitude: for at the worst, he can always dispense with another. But how ridiculous we are, Verotchka! You say: ‘I will not live at your expense,’ and I praise you for it. How can we talk in this way?”
“Ridiculous or not, that matters little, dear friend. We are going to live in our own way and as we deem most fitting. What further plans shall we form about our life?”
“I gave you my ideas, Vera Pavlovna, about one side of our life; you have seen fit to completely overturn them and substitute your own; you have called me tyrant, despot; be good enough therefore to make your own plans. It seems hardly worth while for me to provide you with a pestle with which to thus grind to powder those that I propose. What plans, then, would be your choice, my friend? I am sure that I shall have only congratulations to ofter.”
“What! Now you pay me compliments! You wish to be agreeable? You flatter yourself that you are going to rule, while appearing to submit? I know that trick, and I beg you to speak more plainly hereafter. You give me too much praise. I am confused. Do nothing of the kind; I shall grow too proud.”
“Very well, Vera Pavlovna. I will be rude, if you prefer. Your nature has so little of the feminine element that you are undoubtedly about to put forth utterly masculine ideas.”
“Will you tell me, dear friend, what the feminine nature is? Because woman’s voice is generally clearer than man’s is it necessary to discuss the respective merits of the contralto and the barytone? We are always told to remain women. Is not that stupidity?”
“Worse than that, Verotchka.”
“Then I am going to throw off this femininity and put forth utterly masculine ideas as to the way in which we shall live. We will be friends. Only I wish to be your first friend. Oh! I have not yet told you how I detest your dear Kirsanoff.”
“Beware of detesting him; he is an excellent man.”
“I detest him, and I shall forbid you to see him.”
“A fine beginning! She is so afraid of despotism that she desires to make a doll of her husband. How am I to see no more of Kirsanoff when we live together?”
“Are you always in each other’s arms?”
“We are together at breakfast and dinner, but our arms are otherwise occupied.”
“Then you are not together all day?”
“Very near together. He in his room, I in mine.”
“Well, if that is the case, why not entirely cease to see each other?”
“But we are good friends; sometimes we feel a desire to talk, and we talk as long as we can with each other.”
“They are always together! They embrace and quarrel, embrace and quarrel again. I detest him!”
“But who tells you that we quarrel? That has never happened once. We live well-nigh separately; we are friends, it is true; but how can that concern you?”
“How nicely I have trapped him! You did not intend to tell me how we shall live, and yet you have told me all! Listen, then; we will act upon your own words. First, we will have two rooms, one for you and one for me, and a little parlor where we will take breakfast, dine, and receive our visitors,— those who come to see us both, not you or me alone. Second, I shall not dare to enter your room lest I might disturb you. Kirsanoff does not dare to, and that is why you do not quarrel. No more shall you dare to enter mine. So much for the second place. In the third — ah! my dear friend, I forgot to ask you whether Kirsanoff meddles with your affairs and you with his. Have you a right to call one another to account for anything?”
“I see now why you ask this question. I will not answer.”
“But really I detest him! You do not answer me: it is needless. I know how it is: you have no right to question each other about your personal affairs. Consequently I shall have no right to demand anything whatever of you. If you, dear friend, deem it useful to speak to me of your affairs, you will do so of your own accord, vice versa. There are three points settled. Are there any others?”
“The second rule requires some explanation, Verotchka. We see each other in the little parlor. We have breakfasted; I stay in my room, and do not dare to show myself in yours; then I shall not see you until dinner-time?”
“Precisely. But suppose a friend comes to see me, and tells me that another friend is coming at two o’clock. I must go out at one o’clock to attend to my affairs; shall I be allowed to ask you to give this friend who is to come at two o’clock the answer that he seeks,— can I ask you to do that, provided you intend to remain at home?”
“You can always ask that. Whether I will consent or not is another question. If I do not consent, you will not ask the reason. But to ask whether I will consent to do you a service, that you can always do.”
“Very well. But when we are at breakfast, I may not know that I need a service; now, I cannot enter your room. How shall I make my want known?”
“Oh, God! how simple he is! A veritable infant! You go into the neutral room and say: ‘Vera Pavlovna!’ I answer from my room: ‘What do you wish, Dmitry Sergueitch?’ You say: ‘I must go out; Monsieur A. (giving the name of your friend) is coming. I have some information for him. Can I ask you, Vera Pavlovna, to deliver it to him?’ If I say ‘no,’ our conversation is at an end. If I say ‘yes,’ I go into the neutral room and you tell me what reply I am to make to your friend. Now do you know, my little child, how we must conduct ourselves?”
“But, seriously, my dear Verotchka, that is the best way of living together. Only where have you found such ideas? I know them, for my part, and I know where I have read them, but the books in which I have read them you have not seen. In those that I gave you there were no such particulars. From whom can you have heard them, for I believe I am the first new man* that you have met?”
“But is it, then, so hard to think in this way? I have seen the inner life of families; I do not refer to my own, that being too isolated a case: but I have friends, and I have been in their families; you cannot imagine how many quarrels there are between husbands and wives.”
“Oh! I very easily imagine it.”
“Do you know the conclusion that I have come to? That people should not live as they do now,— always together, always together. They should see each other only when they need or desire to. How many times I have asked myself this question: Why are we so careful with strangers? Why do we try to appear better in their presence than in our families? And really we are better in the presence of strangers. Why is this? Why are we worse with our own, although we love them better? Do you know the request I have to make of you? Treat me always as you have done heretofore. Although you have never given me a rude reply or passed any censure upon me, that has not prevented you from loving me. People say: How can one be rude to a woman or young girl whom he does not know, or how pass censure upon her? Well, here I am your sweetheart and about to become your wife; treat me always as it is customary to treat strangers; that seems to me the best way of preserving harmony and love between us. Am I not right?”
“Truly, I don’t know what to think of you, Verotchka; you are always astonishing me.”
“Too much praise, my friend; it is not so difficult to understand things. I am not alone in entertaining such thoughts: many young girls and women, quite as simple as myself, think as I do. Only they do not dare to say so to their suitors or their husbands; they know very well what would be thought of them: immoral woman! I have formed an affection for you precisely because you do not think as others do in this matter. I fell in love with you when, speaking to me for the first time on my birthday, you expressed pity for woman’s lot and pictured for her a better future.”
“And I,— when did I fall in love with you? On the same day, as I have already told you, but exactly at what moment?”
“But you have almost told me yourself, so that one cannot help guessing, and, if I guess, you will begin praising me again.”
“At what moment? When I asked you if it were true that we could so act as to make all men happy.”
“For that I must kiss your hand again, Verotchka.”
“But, dear friend, this kissing of women’s hands is not exactly what I like.”
“Oh! you know yourself; why ask me? Do not, then, ask me these questions, dear friend.”
“Yes, you are right; one should not ask such questions. It is a bad habit; hereafter I will question you only when I really do not know what you mean. Do you mean that we should kiss no person’s hand?”
Verotchka began to laugh. “There, now, I pardon you, since I too have succeeded in catching you napping. You meant to put me through an examination, and you do not even know the reason of my repugnance. It is true that we should not kiss any person’s hand, but I was not speaking from so general a standpoint; I meant simply that men should not kiss women’s hands, since that ought to be offensive to women, for it means that men do not consider them as human beings like themselves, but believe that they can in no way lower their dignity before a woman, so inferior to them is she, and that no marks of affected respect for her can lessen their superiority. But such not being your view, my dear friend, why should you kiss my hand? Moreover, people would say, to see us, that we were betrothed.”
“It does look a little that way, indeed, Verotchka; but what are we then?”
“I do not know exactly, or rather it is as if we had already been married a long time.”
“And that is the truth. We were friends; nothing is changed.”
“Nothing changed but this, my dear friend,— that now I know I am to leave my cellar for liberty.”
Such was their first talk,— a strange one, it will be admitted, for lovers making a declaration. When they had again clasped hands, Lopoukhoff started for his home, and Verotchka had to lock the outside door herself, for Matroena, thinking that her treasure was still snoring, had not yet begun to think of returning from the cabaret. And indeed “her treasure” did sleep a number of hours.
Reaching home at six o’clock, Lopoukhoff tried to go to work, but did not succeed. His mind was occupied, and with the same thought that had absorbed him when going from the Semenovsky Bridge to the district of Wyborg. Were they dreams of love? Yes, in one sense. But the life of a man who has no sure means of existence has its prosaic interests; it was of his interests that Lopoukhoff was thinking. What could you expect? Can a materialist think of anything but his interests? Our hero, then, thought of interests solely; instead of cherishing lofty and poetic dreams, he was absorbed by such dreams of love as are in harmony with the gross nature of materialism.
“Sacrifice! That is the word that I shall never get out of her head, and there is the difficulty; for, when one imagines himself under serious obligations to any one, relations are strained.
“She will know all; my comrades will tell her that for her sake I renounced a brilliant career, and if they do not tell her, she will easily see it herself. ‘See then, what you have renounced for my sake,’ she will say to me. Pecuniary sacrifices it is pretty sure that neither she nor my comrades can impute to me. It is fortunate that at least she will not say: ‘For my sake he remained in poverty, while without me he would have been rich.’ But she will know that I aspired to scientific celebrity, and that that aspiration I have given up. Thence will come her sorrow: ‘Ah! what a sacrifice he has made for me!’ That is something I have never dreamed of. Hitherto I have not been foolish enough to make sacrifices, and I hope that I never shall be. My interest, clearly understood, is the motive of my acts. I am not a man to make sacrifices. For that matter, no one makes them; one may really believe that he does, and that is always the most agreeable way of viewing one’s conduct. But how explain that to her? In theory it is comprehensible; but when we see a fact before us, we are moved. ‘You are my benefactor,’ we say. The germ of this coming revolt has already made its appearance: ‘You deliver me from my cellar.’ ‘How good you are to me!’ she said to me. But are you under any obligations to me for that? If in so doing I labored for my own happiness, I delivered myself. And do you believe that I would do it if I did not prefer to? Yes, I have delivered myself; I wish to live, I wish to love, do you understand? It is in my own interest that I always act.
“What shall I do to extinguish in her this detrimental feeling of gratitude which will be a burden upon her? In whatever way I can I will do it; she is intelligent, she will understand that these are sentimental illusions.
“Things have not gone as I expected. If she had been able to get a place for two years, I could during that time have become a professor and earned some money. This postponement is no longer possible. Well, what great disadvantage shall I experience? Have I ever thought much of my pecuniary position? To a man that is of little consequence. The need of money is felt principally by woman. Boots, an overcoat not out at the elbows, stcki on the table, my room warmed,— what else do I need? Now all that I shall have. But for a young and pretty woman that is not enough. She needs pleasure and social position. For that she will have no money. To be sure, she will not dwell upon this want; she is intelligent and honest; she will say: ‘These are trifles, which I despise,’ and indeed she will despise them. But because you do not feel what you lack, do you really lack nothing? The illusion does not last. Nature stifled by the will, by circumstances, by pride, is silent at first, but a silent life is torture. No, such is not the way for a young woman, a beauty, to live; it is not right that she should not be dressed as well as others and should not shine for want of means. I pity you, my poor Verotchka; it would have been better could I have arranged my affairs first.
“For my part, I gain by this haste: would she accept me two years hence? Now she accepts me.”
“Dmitry, come to tea,” said Kirsanoff.
Lopoukhoff started for Kirsanoff’s room, and on his way his thoughts continued thus: “But as it is just that the ego should always be the first consideration, it is with myself that I have finished. And with what did I begin? Sacrifice. What irony! Do I indeed renounce celebrity, a chair in the academy? What change will there be in my life? I shall work in the same way, I shall obtain the chair in the same way, and, finally, I shall serve medical science in the same way. From the objective standpoint it is curious to watch how selfishness mocks at our thoughts in practice.”
I forewarn my reader of everything; consequently I will tell him that he must not suppose that Lopoukhoff’s monologue contains any allusion to the nature of his future relations with Vera Pavlovna; the life of Vera Pavlovna will not be tormented by the impossibility of shining in society and dressing richly, and her relations with Lopoukhoff will not be spoiled by the “detrimental feeling” of gratitude.
I do not belong to that school of novelists which beneath every word hides some motive or other; I report what people think and do, and that is all; if any action whatever, or any conversation, or any monologue passing through the brain is indispensable in showing the character of a person or a situation, I relate it, although it may have no influence at all on the further course of my story.
“Henceforth, Alexander, you will have no reason to complain that I neglect my work; I am going to recover the lost time.”
“Then you have finished your affair with this young girl?”
“Yes, I have finished.”
“Is she going to be a governess at Madame B.’s?”
“No, she will not be a governess. The affair is arranged otherwise. Meantime she will lead an endurable life in her family.”
“Very good. The life of a governess is really a very hard one. You know I have got through with the optic nerve; I am going to begin another subject. And where did you leave off?”
“I have still to finish my work upon” . . . . and anatomical and physiological terms followed each other in profusion.
“It is now the twenty-eighth of April. He said that his affairs will be arranged by the beginning of July. Say the tenth: that is surely the beginning. To be surer still, say the fifteenth: no, the tenth is better. How many days, then, are there left? Today does not count; there are but five hours left. Two days in April; thirty-one in May, added to two, make thirty-three; June has thirty, which, added to thirty-three, make sixty-three; ten days in July,— a total of seventy-three days. That is not so long a time, seventy-three days! And then I shall be free! I shall go out of this stifling cellar. Oh! how happy I am! Oh! my dear lover, how well he has solved the problem! How happy I am!”
That was Sunday evening. Monday came the lesson, changed from Tuesday.
“My friend, my darling, how happy I am to see you again even for so short a time! Do you know how much time I have yet to live in my cellar? Will your affairs be arranged by the tenth of July?”
“Then there are but seventy-two days and this evening left. I have already scratched off one day, for I have prepared a table, as the young boarding-scholars and pupils do, and I scratch off the days. How it delights me to scratch them off!”
“My darling Verotchka, you have not long to suffer. Two months and a half will pass quickly by, and then you will be free.”
“Oh, what happiness! But, my darling, do not speak to me any more, and do not look at me; We must not play and sing together so frequently hereafter, nor must I leave my room every evening. But I cannot help it! I will come out every day, just for a moment, and look at you with a cold eye. And now I am going straight back to my room. Till I see you again, my dear friend. When will it be?”
“Three days! How long that is! And then there will be but sixty-eight days left.”
“Less than that: you shall leave here about the seventh of July.”
“The seventh. Then there are but sixty-eight days left now? How you fill me with joy! Au revoir, my well-beloved!”
“Dear friend, only sixty-six days now.”
“Yes, Verotchka, time goes quickly.”
“Quickly? Oh, my dear friend, the days have grown so long! It seems to me that formerly an entire month would have gone by in these three days. Au revoir, my darling, we must not talk too long with each other; we must be strategic, must we not? Au revoir! Ah! sixty-six days more!”
(“Hum, hum! I do not do so much counting; when one is at work, the time passes quickly. But then, I am not in ‘the cellar.’ Hum, hum!”)
“Ah! my darling, still sixty-four days! How wearisome it is here! These two days have lasted longer than the three that preceded them. Ah! what anguish! What infamies surround me! If you knew, my friend! Au revoir, my darling, my angel,— till Tuesday. The following three days will be longer than the five just past. Au revoir! Au revoir!”
(“Hum, hum! yes! hum! Red eyes. She does not like to weep. It is not well. Hum!”)
“Ah, my love, I have already stopped counting the days. They do not pass, they do not pass at all.”
“Verotchka, my good friend; I have a request to make of you. We must talk freely together. Your servitude is becoming too burdensome to you. We must talk together.”
“Yes, we must, my well-beloved.”
“Well, what hour to-morrow will suit you best? You have but to name it. On the same bench in the Boulevard Konno-Gvardeisky. Will you be there?”
“I will be there, I will be there surely. At eleven o’clock. Does that suit you?”
“Very well, thank you, my good friend.”
“Au revoir! Oh, how glad I am that you have decided upon that! Why did I not think of it myself, foolish girl that I am! Au revoir! We are going to talk with each other; that will refresh me a little. Au revoir, dear friend. At eleven o’clock precisely.”
“Verotchka, where are you going?”
“I, Mamma?” Verotchka blushed. “To the Perspective Nevsky.”
“Well, I am going with you; I have got to go to the Gastinoi Dvor. But how is this? You say that you are going to the Nevsky, and have put on such a dress! Put on a finer one; there are many fashionable people on the Nevsky.”
“This dress suits me. Wait a moment, Mamma, I must get something from my room.”
They go out. They have reached the Gastinoi Dvor. They follow the row of stores along the Sadovaia near the corner of the Nevsky. Now they are at Rousanoff’s perfumery.
“Mamma, I have a word to say to you.”
“Till I see you again, I know not when; if you are not offended, till tomorrow.”
“What, Verotchka? I do not understand” . . . . . .
“Au revoir, Mamma, I am going now to my husband’s. Day before yesterday took place my marriage to Dmitry Sergueitch. Rue Karavannaia, coachman!” said she, jumping into a cab.
“A Tchervertatchok,** my good young lady.”
“Yes, provided you go quickly.”
“He will call on you this evening, Mamma. Do not be angry, Mamma.” Maria Alexevna had scarcely had time to hear these words.
“Coachman, you are not to go to the Rue Karavannaia; I told you that in order that you might lose no time in deliberation, as I desired to get away from that woman. Turn to the left, along the Nevsky. We will go much farther than the Karavannaia, to the island of Vassilievsky, *** fifth line, **** beyond the Perspective Moyenne. Go quickly, and I will pay you more.”
“Ah, my good young lady, how you have tried to deceive me. For that I must have a Poltinnitchek.” *****
“You shall have it, if you go fast enough.”
The marriage had been effected without very many difficulties, and yet not without some. During the first days that followed the betrothal, Verotchka rejoiced at her approaching deliverance; the third day “the cellar,” as she called it, seemed to her twice as intolerable as before; the fourth day she cried a little; the fifth she cried a little more than the fourth; the sixth she was already past crying, but she could not sleep, so deep and unintermittent was her anguish.
Then it was that Lopoukhoff, seeing her red eyes, gave utterance to the monologue, “Hum, hum!” After seeing her again, he gave utterance to the other monologue, “Hum, hum! Yes! hum!” From the first monologue he had inferred something, though exactly what he did not know himself; but in the second monologue he explained to himself his inference from the first. “We ought not to leave in slavery one to whom we have shown liberty.”
After that he reflected for two hours,— an hour and a half while going from the Semenovsky Bridge to the district of Wyborg and half an hour lying on his bed. The first quarter of an hour he reflected without knitting his brows; but the remaining seven quarters he reflected with brows knit. Then, the two hours having expired, he struck his forehead, saying: “I am worse than Gogol’s postmaster,****** calf that I am! (Looking at his watch). Ten o’clock. There is yet time.” And he went out.
The first quarter of an hour he said to himself: “All that is of little consequence; what great need is there that I should finish my studies? I shall not be ruined for having no diploma. By lessons and translations I shall earn as much as, and probably even more than, I should have earned as a doctor.”
He had no reason, therefore, to knit his brows; the problem had shown itself so easy to solve, at least partially, that since the last lesson he had felt a presentiment of a solution of this sort. He understood this now. And if any one could have reminded him of the reflections beginning with the word “sacrifice” and ending with the thoughts about the poor, he would have had to admit that at that time he foresaw such an arrangement, because otherwise the thought, “I renounce a career of learning,” would have had no basis. It seemed to him then that he did not renounce, and yet instinct said to him: “This is not a simple postponement; it is a renunciation.” But, if Lopoukhoff would thus have been convicted, as a practical thinker, of violating logic, he would have triumphed as a theorist and would have said: “Here is a new instance of the sway, of selfishness over our thoughts; I ought to have seen clearly, but I saw dimly because I did not wish to see things as they were. I have left the young girl to suffer a week longer, when I should have foreseen and arranged everything on the spot.”
But none of these thoughts came into his head, because, knitting his brows, he said to himself for seven quarters of an hour: “Who will marry us?” And the only reply that presented itself to his mind was this: “No one will marry us.” But suddenly, instead of no one, his mind answered “Mertzaloff.” Then it was that he struck his forehead and justly reproached himself for not having thought of Mertzaloff at first; it is true that his fault was palliated by the circumstance that he was not accustomed to consider Mertzaloff as one who marries.
In the Academy of Medicine there are all sorts of people,— among others, seminarists. Those have acquaintances in the Spiritual Academy, and through these Lopoukhoff had some there also.
A student in the Spiritual Academy, with whom he had no intimate acquaintance but was on friendly terms, had finished his studies the previous year, and was a priest in a certain edifice with endless corridors situated on the island of Vassilievsky. To his house Lopoukhoff repaired, and, in view of the extraordinary circumstances and the advanced hour, he even took a cab.
Mertzaloff, whom he found at home alone, was reading same new work, I know not what,— perhaps that of Louis XIV, perhaps one by some other member of the same dynasty.
“That is the business that brings me here, Alexey Petrovitch! I know very well that it involves a great risk on your part. It will amount to nothing if the parents are reconciled; but, if they bring a suit, you perhaps will be ruined, nay, you surely will be, but” . . . . .
Lopoukhoff could think of nothing with which to follow this “but.” How, indeed, present reasons to an individual to influence him to put his head upon the block for our sake?
Mertzaloff reflected for a long time; he too was trying to find a “but” that would authorize him to run such a risk, but he too could find none.
“What’s to be done? I should very much like. . . . What you ask me to do now I did a year ago; but now I am not free to do all that I would like to do. It is a case of conscience: it would be in accordance with my inclinations to aid you. But when one has a wife, one fears to take a step without looking to see whither it will lead him.”
“Good evening, Alocha.******* My relatives send their regards to you. Good evening, Lopoukhoff; we have not seen each other for a long time. What were you saying about wives? You men are always grumbling about your wives,” said a pretty and vivacious blonde of seventeen years, just returning from a call upon her parents.
Mertzaloff stated the situation to her. The young woman’s eyes sparkled.
“But, Alocha, they will not eat you!”
“There is danger, Natacha.”********
“Yes, very great danger,” added Lopoukhoff.
“But what’s to be done? Risk it, Alocha, I beg of you.”
“If you will not blame me, Natacha, for forgetting you in braving such a danger, our conversation is over. When do you wish to marry, Dmitry Sergueitch?”
Then there was no further obstacle. Monday morning Lopoukhoff had said to Kirsanoff:
“Alexander, I am going to make you a present of my half of our labor. Take my papers and preparations, I abandon them all. I am to leave the Academy; here is the petition. I am going to marry.” And Lopoukhoff told the story briefly.
“If you were not intelligent, or even if I were a booby, I should tell you, Dmitry, that none but fools act in this way. But I do nothing of the sort. You have probably thought more carefully than I upon all that could be said. And even though you had not thought upon it, what difference would it make? Whether you are acting foolishly or wisely I do not know; but I shall not be thoughtless enough to try to change your resolution, for I know that that would be vain. Can I be useful to you in any way?”
“I must find some rooms in some quarter at a low price; I need three. I must make my application to the Academy to obtain my papers as soon as possible, tomorrow in fact. To you, then, I must look to find me rooms.”
Tuesday Lopoukhoff received his papers, went to Mertzaloff, and told him that the marriage would take place the next day.
“What hour will suit you best, Alexey Petrovitch?”
“It is all one to me; tomorrow I shall be at home all day.”
“I expect, moreover, to have time to send Kirsanoff to warn you.”
Wednesday at eleven o’clock Lopoukhoff waited for Verotchka on the boulevard for some time, and was beginning to grow anxious when he saw her running in all haste.
“Dear Verotchka, has anything happened to you?”
“No, my dear friend, I am late only because I slept too long.”
“What time did you go to sleep, then?”
“I do not like to tell you. At seven o’clock; no, at six; up to that time I was continually agitated by unpleasant dreams.”
“I have a request to make of you, dear Verotchka; we must come to an understanding as quickly as possible in order that both of us may be tranquil.”
“That is true, dear friend.”
“So, in four days, or in three.” . . .
“Ah, how good that will be!”
“In three days I probably shall have found some rooms; I shall have purchased everything needful for our household; can we then begin to live together?”
“But first we must marry.”
“Ah, I forgot; yes, we must first marry.”
“But we can marry at once.”
[To be continued]
* By “new man” the author means a man of advanced thought.
** A Tchervert is a coin worth twenty-five copecks. A Tchervertatchok is its diminutive.
*** The island of Vassilievsky is apart of the city of St. Petersburg.
**** In this island each side of almost every street is called a line, so that, if one side of the street, for instance, is called the fifth line, the other is called the fourth line,
***** A Poltinnik is a coin worth fifty copecks. A Poltinnitchek is its diminutive.
****** See Gogol’s “Dead Souls.”
******* Alocha is the diminutive of Alexey.
******** Natacha is the diminutive of Natalia.
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
Liberty and License.
I lately charged myself with the boldness to walk up to a prominent clergyman, to whose name several titles of learning and piety are appended, and ask him to subscribe for Liberty. After timidly looking over the paper, the Reverend gentleman replied: “Well, sir, I believe in liberty, but not in license.”
“If you believe that,” said I, “then you are already an Anarchist, and you certainly cannot afford to be without Liberty.”
“No, I am not an Anarchist,” he replied, sharply, “and I fail to understand what you are driving at.”
“Are you not the very creature of license?” said I.
“Do you mean to insult me, sir?” replied my pious friend.
“By no means,” I answered; “but are you not a licensed clergyman? and if you were not the creature of a license to preach, could you collect your salary? Now, if you do not believe in license, as you assert, throw away your ecclesiastical license and go out and preach as Christ did, on your own merits. What we Anarchists are after is to strip clergymen, doctors, lawyers, landlords, and capitalists of license (monopoly of privilege), and put them on their merits. We are all anti-license men, and that is why we cry Liberty. The fullness of Liberty is the utter extinction of license.”
It had already become too hot for my Reverend friend, and — to use a trite German phrase — er machte sich aus dem Staub — sometimes vulgarly translated by the boys, “he dusted.”
Singularly enough, I was once similarly answered by a leading lawyer in my neighborhood,— viz., that “we must distinguish between liberty and license;” yet this pompous fellow was also a creature of license, and without it would probably be obliged to earn an honest living. An old-school physician who refuses to consult or recognize any practitioner who has not the orthodox license of the American Medical Society is also afraid of liberty, because he so terribly dreads license. Alas! what fools these mortals be! Consistency, thou art indeed a jewel!
Existing governments hinge upon license. It is their chief stock in trade. Through unnatural titles to the soil landlords are licensed to disinherit the masses. Through legal grants of monopoly capitalists are licensed to exact usury and rob labor. Through discriminating restrictions in money and trade bankers and industrial lords are licensed to sit upon the necks of producers. Through the marriage system brutal men are licensed to commit unchastity and practise marital rape. It is license from top to bottom, and what of Liberty remains is due to the impossibility of supervising the manifold concerns of men and to the persistency of the aspiration for Liberty itself.
But I have no desire to pervert the sense which objectors intend in using the word license nor to doubt the conscientiousness of their motive. They mean rash and unregulated conduct in which all restraint is absent and in which the liberties of others are entirely ignored. Now, if I thought Mr. Tucker had started a paper to encourage such conduct as this, I should consider him one of the worst enemies of the human race and myself a fellow criminal of blackest stripe. But what Mr. Tucker and his co-laborers believe to the very bottom of their convictions is that, if this other artifical license and privilege which it is the chief province of the State to dispense were taken away, all conduct would be obliged to regulate itself on the basis of others’ equal liberties, since the cost principle, the ever-present auxiliary of Liberty, would become operative, where now, under invasive and artificial privileges and discriminations by government, its operation is cut off. For instance, under governmental privilege capital pays no taxes, shirks all responsibilities, and throws the cost of all its misdeeds and mismanagement upon labor. Abolish privilege and substitute Liberty, we say, and capital as against labor can only aggrandize itself to the extent that it behaves itself, pays its own bills, and refrains from disinheriting and enslaving the masses. Ought it to aggrandize itself except under those limitations, and is not the present method spurious and suicidal, being — in the language of Proudhon — simply impossible, capital ultimately devouring itself?
No, we Anarchists are arch-enemies of license, and as to that other unregulated and liberty-ignoring rashness of conduct which, in the usage of language, has come to be called license, we affirm that its true corrective is Liberty regulated by cost. Till governments will stop licensing the privileged classes to be exempt from bearing the natural costs of their own actions, we hold them responsible for all the perversions of Liberty which our timid friends characterize by the dread term “license.” One of the very best definitions of Liberty in the extent and purpose of our propagandism is — the repeal of license.
Masters and Slaves.
“There are no classes in this free country,” say the politicians and the newspapers, and they have said it so often and so loudly that they almost believe it themselves. They are afraid of offending the laboring class,— to put the least discreditable construction first,— and so they say there is no laboring class. They say to the workingman: “You are just as good as any of us, in fact a little better than most, and we wouldn’t for the world have you get into your heads the notion that we regard you as other than an equal. You have a vote, and that makes you the equal of the millionaire. The Declaration of Independence says there are no classes, and that all men are free and equal. Therefore it is an insult to you when anybody speaks of the laboring class, the poor class, the rich class, or the better class.”
And yet the fact that there are classes is so obvious, so persistent, that we find the most democratic politicians and papers trying in vain to avoid using the objectionable term. The New York “Sun” often rebukes its contemporaries for speaking of classes in American society. A few days ago one of the rebuked editors retorted with a dozen extracts from the columns of the Sun in which the “un-American” expression appeared, and the great Mr. Dana felt called upon to explain that some of his young men had written the matter and to solemnly deplore his inability to watch every line printed in the very democratic “Sun.” And so he apologized to the workingman and reiterated the old stupidities about freedom and equality under the law. In spite of themselves, these truckling politicians and owlish editors will go on talking about classes, whenever they attempt to deal with facts, simply because the division of society into classes is as obvious as the division of time into night and day.
The two great classes are the masters and the slaves, the idlers and the workers, the robbers and the robbed. There are besides many sub-divisions,— the pauper class, the criminal class, the upper, middle and lower classes, the educated and the ignorant. Why, except to flatter and wheedle the voting class, should any one deny the existence of these distinctions? Because there ought to be no classes in a free country! Well, there ought to be no poverty in the world, but the man who says there are no rich and no poor is a fool. And this is not a free country. It is an appropriated, fenced-in country. Its freedom is a lawyer’s lie; its boasted equality, a bitter mockery; its citizen sovereignty, a shallow pretence. The founders of this government attached but little meaning to the words “free and equal.” They did not know what they were saying when they spoke of the inalienable rights of life and liberty. Many of them held slaves, and nearly all of them paid homage to wealth and position. Twenty-five years ago but very few of their descendants and successors could detect any inconsistency in freedom and slaveholding. Today, still fewer know the meaning of Liberty. The millions of men, women, and children who work for wages are as surely the slaves of employers as were the blacks of their owners, and their condition is worse than was the condition of the negro chattel. The mill-owner finds it neither his duty nor his interest to provide for the sick, aged, and disabled operatives. He gives them the means of existence only as long as they can work. If they starve to death, he loses nothing, for he can fill their places without expense. Competition for the bare necessities of life will keep him supplied with cheaper labor than the Southern planter ever obtained before the war. America denied the divine right of kings to govern and tax the people, but affirmed the divine right of property to do the same things. The distinctions of “king” and “subject” were swept away, but “master” and “slave” were retained. Emancipation made no man free, because appropriation remained. “You must not disturb my authority, because it was ordained by God that I should rule,” said the king. “Slavery is a divine institution,” protested the Southern planter. “Poverty is the providential lot of most men; you must not try to abolish it,” declare the opponents of Liberty. “It is natural and inevitable that some should be rich and the rest poor,” they say, “and it is our duty to counsel the poor to be contented with their lot. Everything that is must be right, and therefore it is very wicked to disturb the present state of affairs.” They defend the divine right of spoliation and declare that God or “nature” intended the distribution of wealth to be unfair in this world; and yet they say, “there are no classes here.”
When luxury and misery no longer dwell side by side; when Beacon Hill no longer produces elegant idlers, and the North End ceases to breed burglars; when Vanderbilt’s palace and Sing Sing prison no longer harbor thieves; when only those who work shall eat; when all men recognize Liberty,— then shall it be truly said, “there are no classes.”
The Index and the Liberal League.
Mr. Leland in “Man” of May 17 cites Mr. Underwood as the author of the Anti-Comstock resolutions of the National Liberal League, July 4, 1876, and finds him inconsistent in dissenting from the constant policy of the League demanding repeal of the postal laws under whose cover Comstock, the tool of the clerical party, had encroached upon the freedom of the mails and press. These laws, not repealed, have yet, Mr. Leland says, become a dead letter in consequence of the decisions of courts which have baffled the machinations of Comstock and his pious backers. Well, these dead-letter laws are like the Rose of Jericho. Tossed by the winds of the desert for years, they take fresh root and flourish again when blown into some moist spot. The League is right in insisting upon the repeal of such laws; they are snares in the statute-book, ready to the hand of Church or State whenever they see their opportunity to persecute free thought, religious or political. But I do not find Mr. Underwood illogical or inconsistent in opposing the demand for their repeal. His resolutions were modifications of those offered by Mr. S. P. Andrews. Let us compare them:
On the third of July, 1876, Mr. Stephen Pearl Andrews offered the following preamble and resolution:
Whereas, There are many symptoms of a growing intention on the part of the religions power to re-establish a virtual censorship over the press and post-office, by influence exerted over the several legislative bodies, under the pretense of zeal for the public morals, but really in byhalf of religious and ecclesiastical despotism; as, for instance, in procuring a body of loose, dangerous, and oppressive legislation against the circulation of “obscene literature,” under which, it is believed, some of the purest and best men of the land are at this hour sutfering in prison or stand in danger of their liberties; therefore,
Resolved, That we recommend to the members of the League and to the public the utmost vigilance and the closest scrutiny in detecting and the unveiling any such conspiracy or conspiracies against the liberties of the people; andthat they should thus com mence the accumulation of facts upon which the League may, if found requisite, act specifically to procure the entire repeal or righteous modification of all such laws.
- Underwood: “I have now another resolution to submit on behalf of the Committee:
“Resolved, That this League, while it recognizes the great importance and the absolute neccessity of guarding by proper legislation against obscene and indecent publications, whatever sect, party, order, or class such publications claim to favor, disapproves and protests against all laws, which, by reason of indefiniteness or ambiguity, shall permit the prosecution and punishment of honest and conscientious men for presenting to the public what they deem essential to the public welfare, when the views thus presented do not violate in thought or language the acknowledged rules of decency; and that we demand that all laws against obscenity and indecency shall be so clear and explicit that none but actual offenders against recognized principles of purity shall be liable to suffer therefrom.
“Resolved, That we cannot but regard the appointment and authorization by the government of a single individual to inspect our mails, with power to exclude therefrom whatever he deems objectionable, as a delegation of authority dangerous to public and personal liberty, and utterly inconsistent with the genius of free institutions.
“With regard to these resolutions, I would say that many members regret the non-passage last evening of Mr. Andrews’s resolution. Some action of the sort ought to be taken at this time, and these resolutions have been so framed as to obviate the objections then expressed. They seem to embrace everything that is desired. As the time is very short before we must adjourn, I hope there will be little or no discussion upon them, and then we shall act upon them at once.”
Mr. Andrews: “I move the adoption of the resolutions.”
Remark now that the idea which in Mr. Andrews’s formula is verb and substantive, denounces malicious hypocrisy, indicates the victims of injustice, and, in demanding repeal, strikes at once at the agency and the conspiracy for wrong, becomes in Mr. Underwood’s merely adjective, deprecating a possible abuse of the laws; and, so leaving them, it engages the League to nothing and provides for no action. It admits by implication, as normal, constitutional, and justifiable, the assumption by the State of the censorship of the mails, and the animus of its protest is confined to the delegation of that right to a single individual. Suppose, then, a jury of several censors, his objection vanishes. No question is raised as to their discretionary power. He admits that legislation should frustrate the circulation of obscene literature, and that discriminative control should be delegated to censors. Behind this throne of censorship I see no other power raise its head. By some roundabout process it may be supposed that a popular majority strong enough and firm enough may eventually obtain — what? — a change of persons as censors. But of freedom of the press there is really no question. He gives up the ship. It was hardly worth while, then, for the National Liberal League to frame humble prayers to Uncle Sam, as a subject to his sovereign.
On farther meditation (colored possibly by subsequent events) on the spirit of these so polite and guarded sentiments, which, instead of taking the bull of clerical encroachment by the horns, tickle it under its tail, the phraseology of these last resolutions suffers a subjective transformation, and reappears as follows: “Look here, Uncle Sam: I and my wife and son William and daughter Index, we pick our crow with Jehovah in a private parlor. As for those other cupidinous dogs, give’em a bad name and yoke’em up tight, as they deserve, but consider us as Foxes.”
This circle of the “Free Religion” has been unjustly accused of not having any. It really has a God, neither indefinite nor infinite, whose shrine is the Respectability of Comme il faut, and in whose suite there is also a Devil, named Taboo. A little lower than the angels, and, like them, bottomless, its weekly sister of the Atlantic mildly illuminates the Hub in her aesthetic bourgeoisie. Beloved of cultured ease and easy culture, she holds Metaphysics by the gills, courtesies graciously to Ethics, frowns on truculent Neo-moralism, and flirts with Brahmo Somaj at a platonic distance. She is said to have fine ankles, but I do not boast of having spanned them, though I keep as a memento the slipper she has given me. With cerulean stockings and serene confidence, she awaits the advances of Plutus, and, if clouds lurid with Labor’s wrongs drift athwart her horizon, she turns from her fair skirts upon the night the silver lining of co-operation. A friend to the powers that be, she trims her sails nicely to the wind, and to the passions that convulse humanity remains apathetic, like Feodora in “La Peau de Ciagrin.”
The “National” Nominee.
So John Swinton supports Ben Butler for president!
Perhaps on the principle of “Set a thief to catch a thief.”
As your position in journalism may enable you to come at the details and evidence, I would like to know of you whether the accusation of stealing silver from a southern house has ever been refuted. Not that it was or would have been at all extraordinary. I saw nothing but rascality and the spirit of plunder in office on either side during the war. I believe Lee was a gentleman, though I don’t know that personally. The rest, unless blind fanatics, or victims of destiny, were worse, Jeff Davis to begin with.
Honesty disqualifies a man for any public office; legalization is a title of superiority among thieves. When to legality we add military prestige, this superiority becomes distinction; but when to these conditions the element of representation, so dear to the American fancy, is added, and the enemy robbed is represented by a woman, and this woman the mother of children about to be left destitute in their probable bereavement of husband and father, such a climax in refinement of the Anglo-American Berserker traditions may well make the American Eagle flap his wings and scream in triumph.
Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utili dulce.
To morality thus exemplary, the illustrious nominee adds piety, a true biblical, sabbatarian, and Old Testament piety, that rolls the ordinances of the Church as a sweet morsel under his tongue. Under such a president, I think I can hear Uncle Sam ringing us in to prayers three times a day. This “National” platform goes in for State socialism. Government is to own our land for us, build our roads for us, and, with the aid of the woman suffrage army, keep us all sober.
Go it, honest Government!
Descending from this sublime moral altitude, let us breathe!
Are the spoons a true historic feather in the general’s illustrious casque, or but the glittering myth of an heroic age? I leave this exegesis to some more learned and more critical analyst. If a myth, it arose from the fitness of the act to the circumstance. The supreme reason of War, as of Government, being plunder, a conqueror, an American conqueror, an Anglo-American conqueror, and a biblical pietist would have been sadly illogical and wanting to his opportunities had he not stolen those spoons. Let us hope, then, his justification by the fact. This seems to have been the view taken up by his sponsors at Indianapolis.
A characteristic act of which I may speak with more assurance, had for its object the wife of my cousin, Phillip Phillips, barrister, afterwards of Washington City, resident in ’66 at New Orleans. This lady, at a certain religious solemnity which she witnessed from the window of her mansion, had the indecorum to laugh. Like the mule in the fable, who faintly remembered that his father was an ass, the heredity of New England blue-law traditions cropped out on this occasion for the prestige of a truly Russian military autocracy. General Butler, then in command of the city, felt the lion of popular indignation aroused in him by this disrespect of a lady. Her social position aggravated the offence. He ordered her to be seized and imprisoned, which was done. Let all blasphemous free thinkers take warning!
[I am unable to furnish the desired information regarding the truth of the “spoons” story. If true, the offence, as “Edgeworth” says, is secondary, involved with many others in the original and greater crime of enlisting in the war. Hence it seems to me wiser to attack Butler in the many vulnerable and vital points which his loose political philosophy and unscrupulous political career have laid open. — Editor Liberty.]
Bold Donn on Bold Ben.
[John Swinton’s Paper.]
Mr Dear John Swinton: — You offer “a dollar for the bold Donn Piatt’s opinion of the bold Ben Butler.”
You can have it for nothing.
I have always regarded the bold Ben as one of the ablest men, in either law or politics, our country can boast of, and I like him because he is not respectable.
Respectable people are those who make their one virtue very tiresome. As a man may bathe until he brings on a skin disease, so these reputable people are sick of their proprieties.
The old Hoars, of Massachusetts, are illustrious specimens of this. They support Blaine, although they despise him, because it would not be respectable to vote with any other party than this organized dishonesty in purple and fine linens called the Republican party.
The old Hoars, and such like, hate Butter; so I like him.
When it comes to voting — and I am going to indulge in that absurdity for the first time in ten years — I cannot vote for the bold Ben. And I will tell you why.
I believe in the old Jeffersonian theory of government, that it means only the intervention of the constable to keep the peace. We never can have the relief you seek and I sigh for until we secure the form of government Jefferson projected.
Now, the bold Ben believes in the Commune, and that is in antagonism to the correct theory, for it makes the government everything, and puts it everywhere.
Republicanism, with its paternal government, is the commune of capital. Ben’s party is the commune of labor.
The labor you appeal to, even if you could influence or control it, is helpless for good. Just now the bold Ben is seeking to use it for evil. It is the mechanical labor of towns, and is in a hopeless minority, when numbered with the vast agricultural labor of the land.
This last, the farmer, is a dark, heavy mass of ignorance, but a power all the same. It cannot be taught, but it can be made to feel, and at this moment they are suffering — for I am one of them — from a lack of market. I lost twenty cents a bushel on my wheat. My neighbors are losing twenty-five cents a bushel, and all other produce suffers in a like manner.
Do you know what this loss is to a farmer? It is utter ruin, not only to him, but to the entire country. He is sick, and turns his back on the Republican party. He cannot tell you why, but he does.
Now, the keystone of this arch of Republican iniquity, the crowning rascality of this commune of capital, is the protective tariff. It shuts out the competition from abroad, and leaves home monopoly to deal with us as its greed dictates.
The bold Ben dodges this, and you say nothing. He fears to lose votes.
I care nothing for platforms. They are like those of the cars — “dangerous to stand on.” But I do count a little — not much, but a little — on the selfish instincts of the masses, and these commit the Democratic party to a repeal of the protective swindle called a tariff. Not only this, but real statesmen, such as John G. Carlisle, Henry Watterson, Frank Hurd, William Morrison, John Follett, and many others, men of high courage and honest convictions, are coming to the front, and the war they make is a war of right against wrong.
It seems to me that the bold Ben seeks to obscure the issue and defeat the grand result. And, my dear friend, you are missing your opportunity. What you want, or rather need, is an influence over the masses that elect presidents, make the congress, and control the courts. Instead of seizing the chance of this opening, you are throwing obstacles in the way and playing into the hands of the commune of capital.
This is why I cannot vote for the bold Ben.
Yours ever, Donn Piatt.
Mac-o-Cheek, Ohio, September 1.
A Picturesque Figure.
Probably no Englishman has taken more earnest interest in the Egyptian question than Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. The frightful injustice of the British interference with Arabi and his plans for regenerating Egypt aroused in his mind the most intense indignation, which he uttered in “The Wind and the Whirlwind,” a poem of great power and feeling, which has been issued in very attractive form by Benjamin R. Tucker of Boston. He has compelled England to listen to him, although he has been badly, treated by the government, and he is today the chief lion of the London season. The “Whitehall Review” says he is one of the most picturesque figures of the day. It is impossible not to feel interest in an Englishman who is as much at home in the desert as most of his countrymen are in Piccadilly or the Bois de Boulogne; who can live like an Arab among Arabs, and a European among Europeans; one half of whose life is passed in the stately garments of a Bedaween sheik, and the other in the most careful handiwork of Mr. Vigo; who rears Arab horses that would make the Oriental in Mr. Browning’s poem envious; and who, to conclude all, writes sonnets that the greatest admirers of Petrarch, of the Pleiad, and of the “Sonnets from the Portuguese” may read with pleasure. The real Anglo-Oriental is always an interesting figure, whether he be Burton in Mecca or Floyer in Beloochistan; but the varied qualifications and accomplishments of Wilfred Blunt make him more like some figure from the “Thousand and One Nights” than the child of nineteenth-century England.
Then and Now.
Continued from No. 50.
Law, Justice, Right, and Wrong.
Boston, September 20, 2084.
My dear Louise:
When Mr. De Domain told me that Anarchy prevented crime to a great extent, I did not doubt his words, for he is unquestionably honest, but an enthusiast is very apt to exaggerate the benefits of the thing in which he is most interested, and so I began a systematic reading of the newspapers to see how many crimes were reported. I know you will say: “You can’t tell anything by the newspapers,” but newspapers are not today what they were two hundred years ago. Now the papers tell the truth according to the best knowledge of those who edit them; then it was a notorious fact that policy and expediency determined whether a newspaper should tell the truth or lie. But I did not depend altogether upon the papers for my information for fear that there might be certain classes of cases which the editors thought it better not to publish at all. Every day for the past two weeks I have attended some court and watched the proceedings and studied the calendar. I think that I need only say that there is no shade of exaggeration in what Mr. De Demain has said.
In all there are but four courts in Boston. Each is in session for two hours each day unless some important case which may be on trial requires more time for its completion, when the length of session is continued at will. In all my attendance upon these courts, I have not seen one case that required more than an hour for trial, and on several occasions there were no cases at all ready for hearing. There are no lawyers today. Those having cases before the courts in charge are termed jurists.
This much I learned by attending the courts. When Mr. De Demain called last evening, I told him of my experience, and many questions by me brought out answers which I will put together in the form of a little essay.
“All criminal cases are tried before a jury of twelve, and the jury decides all questions of law, fact, and punishment. Of course there is no statute law and no other law that carries force with itself. A jury decides after hearing evidence that a certain act is a crime or that it is not. This, you see, makes a judge unnecessary. Most crimes are committed under such peculiar circumstances that it is better to decide upon every point in every case.
“The public courts are little used in civil cases, but such cases are left entirely to the judgment of a jury when they are brought before these courts. Such a jury may consist of any number decided on by the parties to the case. Most civil cases are taken before private courts, of which there are some dozen or twenty in the city. Business is conducted much the same in these as in the public courts, but the expense is somewhat less and the proceedings may be kept private if desired. A keeps a court. B and C are parties to a case which they bring before this court. A has an understanding with fifty or more men, well-known to be honest, whereby he may call upon any number of them to act as jurors. B and C look over the list of these names and mutually agree upon three, four, six, or any number they desire, and these sit and listen to the evidence presented by B and C, and their unanimous decision is binding upon both parties. There are no decisions upon complicated questions of law to be appealed from to higher courts, and so higher courts are unnecessary. Justice is no longer hedced in by endless petty forms. Most small civil cases are left by the parties interested to the judgment of one man, who carefully investigates the matter and decides.
“In the time of the State justice was too good a thing for common, everyday use; in fact it was seldom used at all. It was personified and placed on a bright pedestal where it might be admired as a beautiful image. Then, that the people might not get at it, it was hedged in with law, and fenced in with lawyers and judges, and to make this hedge and fence stronger was the constant aim of legislatures and congresses. The shadow, even, of justice could not fall outside of the enclosure in which it was so sacredly kept.
“‘Legal’ is a word no longer used. ‘Is it just?’ is asked, instead of ‘is it legal?’ Justice always meant more than law, never mind how numerous laws were, and if a thing were legal, that was enough. If justice instead of law had defined the bounds of right and wrong, people would have questioned whether a thing were just before doing an injury to a fellow being. I think it was Coleridge who said there could be no definition of right and wrong except in the technical language of the courts. If ‘technical language’ were omitted, this would be true. It is for no man or number of men to decide upon a question and settle it for all time, saying ‘this shall be right’ and ‘this shall be wrong.’ As I said before, every case in which is raised the question of right or wrong has about it peculiar circumstances which must decide. So long as nature knows no absolute right or wrong, man will know none, and nature will always act, as she acts now and ever has acted, upon the impulse of the moment. Forces which have been at work through all time determine such acts, but nothing determines that these forces shall cause such acts. That they do is enough. Why should they not? Why should we suppose a controlling hand? Every man, when he is about to act, must decide for that time whether such act will be just. There is no absolute justice by which he can measure his act. Still, there is justice in the world, but it is simply an ever-varying phase of human nature. The moment you define justice, that moment it ceases to be justice. This — the defining of justice — was the greatest fault of the State; this was the greatest barrier to liberty; this was the greatest barrier to human happiness; this was the greatest curse of the human race.
“The people of your time could see that nature acted well without an outside controlling power. They could see, too, that man was a part of nature, and with the other part of nature acted spontaneously. But they could not see that man needed no outside hand to guide him. ‘God and the State!’ Well did Bakounine connect them. One is as absurd as the other. One is as unnecessary as the other.”
Mr. De Demain was becoming excited and blasphemous, and I checked him, and as the hour was quite late, he took leave of me. What he said seems, to glance at it hastily, very sensible, but I shall give it more thought, and I trust that you, my dear Louise, will do the same.
Among the little liberties in which Liberty indulges is that of the ellipsis, a figure of speech which in the dance of ideas sometimes trips up the flatfooted Saxon understanding, and unwittingly causes much scandal. In condescension to its infirm imagination, she here writes the phrase out in full, with variants to suit circumstances:
Property is the effect of robbery.
Property is the provocative to robbery.
Property is the victim of robbery.
The first case occurs when human legislation arrogates the right of might by imposing an arbitrary title. Thus, by speculating on the, knavery and treachery of representative governments, foreigners acquire “property” in the soil of the United States, and actually fence out the inhabitants from millions of acres. Such rifling calls for the rifle.
Second. A gardener, I have “entered” a quarter section, paid the regular fees on it (legislative robbery) to Uncle Sam, and paid half as much again to the arbitrary requirement of local land officers, because I could not afford to go to law with then (indirect official robbery). Of my tract, thus acquired in fulfilling the terms of improvement during five years’ residence, I fence in fifteen acres for pasture, grain, and fruit, there being tracts adjacent still open to entry. My neighbors care for corn and cotton only. They have the woods, mine as well as theirs, free for pasture; but as my improved clearings yield more and better grasses, they take down my bars of fence at places out of sight, and let their cattle in upon me. Against such procedures there is law, but utterly inoperative, by the cost of vigilance needed for discovery and proof, while heavy penalties attach to the slightest injuries, such as peppering the trespassing cattle with mustard seed. The laws really only hinder me from protecting myself as well as I could do without them. (Indirect legislative robbery X direct personal aggression.) With my orchard and melon patch, it is likewise; few besides me being willing to work for fruit, none willing to pay for it, but all liking to eat it. Hence, my property is their robbery, sanctioned by custom, behind which the law stands ready to punish me if I resent it. Corn and cotton, being common crops, are guarded by custom and but seldom stolen.
Observe here the operation of natural law. Property in common things is respected as such without recourse to law or intervention of its officers. Property in uncommon things is not respected here in the country, where the law is a dead letter, there being no police. In the cities, it is different: there, rarities, howsoever acquired, are guarded by a police paid out of the pockets mainly of the masses who own none, and through that sort of robbery which is called indirect taxation.
Coming back to my orchard, I remark another feature of complicative robbery, viz.: the fruit is stolen mainly between Saturday evening and Monday. There is a chapel within half a mile of me, others all around me. My neighbors are generally pious. Church property not being taxed, the preachers, taking a hint from this favor of the State, expect to be upon the free list everywhere. They levy without scruple on my professional time and means, they teach dishonesty by the vicarious atonement and salvation through faith, and while I am paying gratuitous visits to the sick in their families, their church members are stealing my fruit. To confess one’s self “a miserable sinner,” that washes out conscience and whets appetite. The State indirectly occasions this robbery by its Sabbath law, one of the very few which is enforced, and which turns loose from their usual employments a number of light-fingered loafers seeking what they may devour.
Again, State ans Church concur to invalidate the morality of commor sense, viz.: A church member of exemplary piety begged seed of me, and got fifteen dollars’ worth, contracting to pay by half the coming crop, in making which half the costs were to be also supplied by me. The crop made, he refused payment, telling me, in presence of his wife and children, after evening prayers, that he “did not consider himself bound by any contract that might be inconvenient to him.” I appealed to law, and got a judgment against him, but the judge told me I could not collect it on account of the stay laws, which contravene the others in more than nine cases out of ten.
There are still other senses in which our laws render property robbery, viz.: A pious church member came to borrow some farming utensils. As he took leave of me, he turned and said: “I will either return these, or pay for them.” I answered not, and he never did either. I consulted Mr. Boyd, a lawyer of fair repute, since secretary of this State (Alabama). He told me I had no case, because the borrower had promised conditional payment, which constituted the borrowed property a debt, which the stay laws exempted from judgment. These State stay laws equally protect debtors against professional labor and costs. After submitting to be legally robbed every year, under pretext of license to practise, I find hardly one man in the hundred on whom any claim for costs and service is valid, because, however great my fatigue, my expense, or the benefit I render, my labor is not classed in law as “mechanical.” My claim is invalid against fortunes less than $3000.
The wrongs under which the more numerous small proprietors, like myself, suffer are doubtless due in great measure to the degradation of the masses by the exploitation of large proprietors, especially of usurers. Morality is proportional to general prosperity, to the stake that each holds in a country’s goods, the more equal the better. Is it surprising that with such laws and such church doctrines as ours, the foundations of natural morality should be undermined, and scoundrelism floated into credit? Our actual Church and State are the two representative thieves, between whom the Son of Man is hung. Because of them property means robbery. Remove them, and property becomes the extension proper to each personal faculty over Nature, including society; the reciprocation by terra-solar forces from the not me to the impressive or creative me. This transendant and positive definition asks developments and illustrations, which I have given in the “Radical Review” and the “Index.”
Well, Then, in 6884.
To the Editor of Liberty:
A copy of the August 9th number of your Liberty has chanced to come into my possession today. I wish to hear more from you; so, find herewith a dollar, which is, I see, the yearly subscription price of Liberty — which I expect to relieve me for twelve months at least of that “eternal vigilance” expense of which we frequently hear as necessary for the defence of the only thing worth having.
Verily, I find in reading Liberty that a few people in the world are getting radical enough to suit me, in the main. Go ahead, and you’ll finally get down to tap-roots in “moral” and social philosophy, I feel sure.
In subscribing for Liberty, I have hope that you or some of your contributors will make it clear to me how the decisions of arbiters (in the proposed system of arbitration which it is averred should take the place of our courts) are to be enforced, i.e., make themselves heeded by dissenting parties. I understand well enough that “public sentiment” is expected to enforce them, but will it not take five thousand years to educate the people up to the proper sentiment? Thirty years ago I thought that a quarter of a century would be sufficient for the due “development” and “emancipation” of the race. Now I don’t set the figures this side of the year 6884. But I am patient, and willing to wait!
Winsted, Connecticut, August 17, 1884.
[If Mr. Case diligently reads Liberty, he will gradually glean all the information that he seeks. Meanwhile, let him cheer up. My experience has been quite different. When I first met, comprehended, and embraced the Anarchistic doctrine, I did not dare to hope, though a sanguine boy of eighteen, for its realization much this side of Mr. Case’s millennial date, the sixty-ninth century. Since then twelve years have passed away, during which my wonder has not ceased to increase daily at the rate the old world has been forging ahead. It is now my firm belief that the history of the twentieth century will record the complete triumph of Liberty throughout the civilized world. But what difference does it make, as far as our duty is concerned? Mr. Case may be right in thinking that this earth will not be heaven till 6884. The great point is that the journey is begun. Shall we let the distance discourage us? If so, we may not get there until 6885. — Editor Liberty]
An Anarchist’s Singular Confession.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I have just read E. H. Benton’s letter on currency, and your reply thereto. It seems to me that you are both in a “corner.” Taking Anarchism as a standpoint for a “new departure” in thought and action, what is your mortgage worth? What can it secure? Take away the machinery of the State, and mortgages will not possess as much value as so much blank paper. The latter may be useful to write on; whilst the former could only be utilized for pulp. When we do away with or outgrow the “State,” we must leave all its methods behind. We must not attempt to put the new wine of the revolution into the old skins (bottles) of the played-out State.
Tennessee Pass, Colorado, August 15, 1884.
[There is no point to Mr. Cooper’s criticism unless he is a Communist as well as an Anarchist (if indeed one can be both). For none but Communists favor the disappearance of all titles to justly-earned wealth. A mortgage is a conditional title. To say that under Anarchy it will be worth nothing is to say that Anarchy means utter insecurity and wholesale theft. A not uncommon charge from its opponents, but a strange confession to come from one of its friends! When Anarchy prevails, all just titles will be valid and efficacious for one of two reasons,— either people will have improved in their morals sufficiently to respect them voluntarily, or else such persons as are indisposed to respect them will be forced to do so. “The old State over again!” my undiscriminating friend will cry. Not at all, my friend! Simply a voluntary association for defence of person and property to which no one need belong who does not choose and which no one not belonging will be expected to support. By no means an old bottle. On the contrary, an entirely new one, and just the thing, as long as needed, to hold the revolutionary wine. — Editor Liberty.]
Right Views and Right Motives.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I have seen and read Liberty for May 17, and it is glorious and inspiring to one who has fought and suffered for Liberty fifty years. I divide humanity into those who have neither right views nor motives, those who have right motives and wrong views, those who have right views and wrong motives, and the highest order, which consists of men and women with right views and right motives.
The men and women of the last class are few and precious, but it is inspiring that their number, by the growth of the brain upward and forward, is fast increasing. I believe the editor of Liberty — judging from the number I read — has the right view of Anarchy and Socialism, and that his ideal of a true and scientific reconstruction of human society is essentially mine.
If I comprehend him, he is working like the sensible chemist to analyze and disintegrate the unjust and unnatural compound called society and government into its constituent, primary elements,— into individual men and women,— and then let them be drawn together by natural affinity or attraction into a New Integration, “wherein shall dwell righteousness,” truth, peace, health, justice, love, and wisdom, and all individual rights be preserved, secured, and mutually protected and guaranteed. If such is your ideal, your goal and aspiration, then I am with you, and have been forty years; but I can see and define that ideal better now than ever before.
Alas, when I look through the world and see how scarce is the material to build our new Temple of Humanity from, I almost “give up the ship.”
Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Certainly, Lysander Spooner is a man of right views and motives, for never have I read such a masterly and critical analysis of “the Supreme Law,” the United States Constitution; such searching, scathing, invincible logic; such undeniable facts; such scorching, withering, consuming irony and invective; such a probing of the selfishness, tyranny, usurpation, and rottenness of our anti-human constitutions, national and State legislation,— as his letter to Hon. Thomas F. Bayard. Webster was “the great expounder of the Constitution,” but behold a greater and better and truer expounder in Spooner.
Well, “the war must go on”: and, as Adams said, “Why put off longer the Declaration of Independence?” I mean our new declaration of independence from all man-made combinations and forces that suppress and oppress human, individual rights and functions. Let right views and right motives prevail.
Clear the Way!
[Pall Mall Gazette.]
Clear the way, my lords and lackeys! you have had your day.
Here you have your answer — England’s yea against your nay:
Long enough your House has held you: up, and clear the way!
Lust and falsehood, craft and traffic, precedent and gold,
Tongue of courtier, kiss of harlot, promise bought and sold,
Gave you heritage of empire over thralls of old.
Now that all these things are rotten, all their gold is rust.
Quenched the pride they lived by, dead the faith and cold the lust,
Shall their heritage not also turn again to dust?
By the grace of these they reigned, who left their sons their away:
By the grace of these, what England says her lords unsay:
Till at last her cry go forth against them — Clear the way!
By the grace of trust in treason knaves have lived and lied:
By the force of fear and folly fools have fed their pride,
By the strength of sloth and custom reason stands defied.
Lest perchance your reckoning on some later day be worse,
Halt and hearken, lords of land and princes of the purse,
Ere the tide be full that comes with blessing and with curse.
Where we stand, as where you sit, scarce falls a sprinkling spray;
But the wind that swells, the wave that follows, none shall stay:
Spread no maze of sail for shipwreck: out, and clear the way!
Algernon Charles Swinburne.
While the principle of equal representation of all available values by the notes of the Exchange Bank is what I have advocated these thirty years, I do not perceive how, in generalizing the system, as Proudhon would do (I refer to the paragraphs translated by Greene), we are to avoid the chances of forgery on the one side, and on the other, of fraudulent issues by the officers of the Bank.
Such a Bank, moreover, is equivalent to a general insurance policy on the property of a country, and the true value of its notes must depend on security against conflagrations and other catastrophes affecting real estate as well as “personal property.”
I hope that the first essays will be local and limited. I think the commercial activity of modern civilization dangerously, if not fatally, exaggerated and disproportioned to production. The Railroad is a revolver in the hands of a maniac, who has just about sense enough to shoot himself. Even were we not, in our blind passion for rapid and facile transportation, banging ourselves by the slip-noose of monopoly, the impulse which railroads give to and towards city life, coming, as it has, before the establishment of a conservative scavenger system, by which the cream of soils would be restored to them, rapidly drains and wastes terra-solar vitality, and suffices soon to render America a desert. The feasible check to this “galloping consumption” lies in localizing the circuits of production with manipulation and consumption in cooperative associations. The smaller the area in which such self-sufficing circuit is effected, the greater the economy of force in transportation.
Men and Gods are too extense;
Could you slacken and condense?
I suppose you see the correlation of this idea with that of the safety of Exchange Bank notes, as in a locally restricted commerce, frauds could and would be promptly detected, and therefore would be seldom attempted.
[Proudhon was accustomed to present his views of the way in which credit may be organized in two forms,— his Bank of Exchange and his Bank of the People. The latter was his real ideal; the former he advocated whenever he wished to avoid the necessity of combating the objections of the governmentalists. The Bank of Exchange was to be simply the Bank of France transformed on the mutual principle. It is easy to see that the precautions against forgery and over-issue now used by the Bank of France would be equally valid after the transformation. But in the case of the Bank of the People, which involves the introduction of free competition into the banking business, these evils will have to be otherwise guarded against. The various ways of doing this are secondary considerations, having nothing to do with the principles of finance; and human ingenuity, which has heretofore conquered much greater obstacles, will undoubtedly prove equal to the emergency. The more reputable banks would soon become distinguished from the others by some sort of voluntary organization and mutual inspection necessary to their own protection. The credit of all such as declined to submit to thorough examination by experts at any moment or to keep their books open for public inspection would be ruined, and these would receive no patronage. Probably also the better banks would combine in the use of a uniform bank-note paper difficult to counterfeit, which would be guarded most carefully and distributed to the various banks only so far as they could furnish security for it. In fact, any number of checks can be devised by experts that would secure the currency against all attempts at adulteration. There is little doubt that the first essays will be, as “Edgeworth” hopes, “local and limited.” But I do not think the money so produced will be nearly as safe as that which will result when the system has become widespread and its various branches organized in such a way that the best means of protection may be utilized at small expense. — Editor Liberty.]
A Half Truth and a Whole Lie.
[San Francisco “Weekly Star.”]
The Associated Charities of Boston claim that “the four causes of poverty are drunkenness, ignorance, laziness, and pride.” It is quite Bostonian to leave out a more potent cause than all four,— that is, the robbery of the producing classes by the non-producers to the extent of half their earnings, or more. Drunkenness may be a cause of poverty, but poverty — through the exhaustion caused by overwork — is also a leading cause of drunkenness. Ignorance, too, is also more the effect than the cause of poverty; the ignorance, however, of monopolists and other wealthy men, especially of legislators and so-called “statesmen,” generally, also those who assume to be the leaders of thought, most certainly causes the poverty of the millions. Laziness on the part of the poor is reaction from overwork. The man who works seventeen hours a day in harvest time is apt to become a tramp and a drunkard the remainder of the year. It, too, is more an effect of poverty than a cause, though the laziness of our fine ladies, whose silks, jewelry, and general extravagance has to be supplied by the toil and privations of the producing classes, may cause the poverty of producers. Likewise the pride of the genteel plundering classes causes the poverty of those from whose eamings they are supported.
With these explanations, modifications, and exceptions the Boston theory is doubtless correct. It is not, however, strikingly new or original; it is in fact some few centuries old, and in the form put forth by those Boston dudes and dudines who vary their useless lives by playing at charity it is not as popular among thinking people as it used to be.
[P. J. Proudhon.]
A revolution is a force against which no other power, divine or human, can prevail, and whose nature it is to be made stronger and greater by the very resistance which it meets. We may guide, moderate, slacken a revolution; I have already said that the wisest politics consists in yielding to it foot by foot, in order that the eternal evolution of Humanity, instead of proceeding with vast strides, may be accomplished insensibly and noiselessly. We cannot stem a revolution, we cannot deceive it, we cannot change its nature; all the more, then, we cannot conquer it. The more you repress it, the more you add to its energy and render its action irresistible. So true is this that, as far as the triumph of an idea is concerned, it is immaterial whether it be persecuted, harassed, crashed in its beginnings, or allowed to develop and spread without opposition. Like the ancient Nemesis, whom neither prayers nor threats could move, the revolution advances, with grave and fatal trend, over the flowers which its devotees strew before it, through the blood of its defenders, and over the dead bodies of its enemies.
A Poet’s Opinion of a Poem.
[John Boyle O’Reilly in the “Pilot.”]
“The Wind and the Whirlwind,” by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, is a poem of remarkable strength and noble purpose. Its theme is the retribution awaiting the spoilers of Egypt, the unhappy land which Mr. Blunt, almost alone among Englishmen, has championed with voice and pen already. No extract can do justice to the sublimity of this noble work. It abounds in striking figures and exalted thoughts. The indignation of a poet, standing “Alone against the mighty many, to form a hearing for the weak and few,” finds expression in burning words of prophecy. It is a poem to be read and admired, as much for its literary merits as for its noble sentiments, by all who share the poet’s lofty hatred of “Injustice, that hard step-mother of heroes.”
The Value of Liberty’s Influence.
To the Editor of Liberty:
While I by no means agree with all the doctrines taught in Liberty, it is apparent that the tendencies of the day to the rapid centralisation of power and accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few, to the consequent down-pulling of the many, is an evil which can only be met by the spread of doctrines calculated to cast an influence on the opposite side of the balances. For this reason Liberty and periodicals of a similar character will do good. It seems to be the bane of humanity to want to look up to somebody. This may be due to man’s inherent knowledge of his own infirmities. But it is also his bane to want to look down on some other body, presumably a little lower in the social scale. This is due to a want of education. But in no way can man be more surely or rapidly elevated to a higher plane — a plane which would fit him for Anarchy if such a thing is possible — than by teaching him the value of Liberty,— the feeling of self-respect in the widest sense, and the feeling of respect for others in a sense equally wide.
Chariton, Missouri, August 7, 1884.
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.