“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 Boston Anarchists’ Club will hold a meeting on Sunday, February 10, at which Victor Yarros will deliver an address on “The Individual, Society, and the State.” The hour and the hall will be announced in the Sunday Notice columns of the Boston “Globe” and “Herald” of February 9 and 10. Not only members, but the general public, are cordially invited.
The Denver “Arbitrator” seems to occupy a position exactly similar to that held by the late “American Idea.” As, however, critical thought and scientific method, rather than sentiment and vague aspiration after the ideal, predominate in the former, there is greater hope of its following to their logical conclusion the Spencerian principles which it steadfastly advocates. In order to arrive at Anarchism it only needs to study the writings of that most sincere and intelligent of Spencer’s disciples, Auberon Herbert.
The New-York “Sun” is proud of the fact that Pope Leo personally thanked Charles A. Dana for the good work of his paper. Alas! that the idealist of the Brook Farm has sunk so low as to pride himself on the compliments of that king of impostors and human enslavers, the pope. What would his former fellow-dreamers and gentle reformers have thought of the “good work” which now so pleases Pope Leo as to induce him to forgive and forget Mr. Dana’s youthful sins against the authority of the infallible Church-State combination?
If I understand the Denver “Arbitrator’s” latest explanation of its attitude regarding decision by majority, it favors it simply and only as a practical method of procedure in voluntary associations, and never as a method of compelling unwilling minorities which are observant of the principle of equal liberty. In that view of the matter no Anarchist has any quarrel with the “Arbitrator.” It is my impression that majorityism has not always been kept within this limit in the editorial declarations of that journal. But never mind the past. If the limit is carefully observed in future, Liberty will be satisfied.
Writing of the votes of the women in the recent Boston school election, C. L. Janies says that the statement of the “Truth Seeker” that “the motive moving the women was the attempt of the Romanists to control the schools in the interest of the Catholic church” is a refutation of the old assertion of the lord of creation that “the women are the special victims of priestcraft, and their votes will be against intellectual liberty.” Perhaps the former assertion would refute the latter, if it were true. But as a matter of fact what the women were fighting was the attempt of the Romanists to prevent the Protestants from controlling the schools in the interest of the Protestant church; which proves that the lord of creation was right in this instance, for the women showed themselves the victims of Protestant priestcraft, and their votes were cast against intellectual liberty.
The theoretical position taken by Henry George in regard to competition is that free trade should prevail everywhere except in those lines of business where in the nature of things competition can exist only partially if at all, and that in such lines there should be a government monopoly. Yet in a recent speech in England he declared that it was not quite clear to him whether the sale of liquor should be free or monopolized by the government. Mr. George, then, if honest and logical, must entertain a suspicion of the existence of some natural restriction upon competition in the sale of liquor. Will he be so good as to point it out? No, he will not; and for the reason that his professed criterion is simply a juggler’s attempt to conceal under something that looks like a scientific formula his arbitrary method of deciding that in such a channel of enterprise there shall be free trade, and in such another there shall be none.
“A right theory of the functions of money,” writes Robert Ellis Thompson in the “Irish World,” “is of the first necessity for understanding the controversy between protection and free trade.” This is an important truth, first expressed, I think, by Proudhon. It is precisely because Mr. Thompson does not understand the money question that he is a protectionist. Supposing that State control of money is a foregone conclusion, he sees as a logical result of this false premise that the State must also control the balance of trade. That his premise may be doubted does not seem to have occurred to him. “The most extreme free trader,” he says, “opposes free trade in money.” Evidently he is unaware that the extremity of free trade is not to be found in the New York “Evening Post.” The Anarchists are the extreme free traders, and they, to a man, favor free trade in money, most of them, in fact, recognizing it as a necessary condition of free trade in products. For, as Mr. Thompson truly says, it is “the height of folly for a country to exchange industrial power for industrial products.” In the absence of a tariff, the tendency would be to just that sort of exchange, provided the State should continue to deprive all products, save one or two, of the monetary function, and therefore of industrial power. Mr. Thompson, supposing this restriction of the monetary function to be necessary and wise, clings very sensibly to the tariff. He would have the State hem in industrial power and bar out industrial products. Of two wrongs he tries to make a right. The simpler way, involving no wrong at all, is to give industrial power to industrial products by endowing them with the monetary function, and then strike down all commercial barriers whatsoever.
Less Paternal, But More Fraternal.
When the elective system was introduced at Harvard, and the arbitrary restraints which distinguished what has sometimes been erroneously called the paternal system of college government were removed, it was predicted that there would be much loss in the personal influence which teachers exercised over their pupils. The result, however, has entirely disproved these fears. The new method has worked just in the opposite direction. If the system is any less paternal, it is certainly more fraternal. The companionship between teacher and scholar has been increased. In fact, as a professor in Harvard recently remarked to us, the drain upon the professors from the direct personal intercourse with students is immense. Under the old system, there was a gap between instructors and students which was seldom bridged over. The question now is how to protect instructors from the “blood-letting” to which students subject them. “I have been obliged,” said the professor referred to, “to limit students to certain hours, in order to secure my breakfast and dinner.” The personal influence of an instructor at Harvard never told for so much as it does now.
The people, and the struggle, and oh, time;
Can a singer vent his feelings in a rhyme?
The struggling common people —
In their effort for existence are sublime.
The people, how they welter, live, and die!
The labors that they cling to, patiently they try,
The earnest common people,
In their struggle to subdue each truth-destroying lie.
The people, oh, the wayward! All sincere
In their splendid earnest struggle year and year,
The thoughtful common people,
Of their steady onward movement have no fear.
The people; oh, the masses here and there!
Those that labor and yet suffer, children born of care,
The eager common people,
Rich in knowledge are of life, that comes from long despair.
The people; list the people — they would speak,
Patience all is broken, they are dangerously meek.
The waiting common people,
In their struggle tell to each the reason they are weak.
The people; oh, the dreamers and the wise!
Telling tales prophetic of a future grand sunrise;
The restless common people —
Breaking bars of thraldom are for the promised prize.
The people; oh, the failures and the gain!
Bread and substance wasted for a victory of pain,
The honest common people,
Take it to their aching hearts, with armor on again.
The people; oh, the weary, lacking art,
Lacking deeper knowledge, taking wisdom from the heart;
The calloused common people
In their struggle for existence demand an equal part.
The people; oh, the watchword, time will tell.
There’s a bitterness in failure that will jest with sin in hell;
The wretched common people
Know it, feel it, and will prove it too as well.
The people; oh, the people; well a-day;
The singer for the moment had his say.
The merry common people
Yet shall lighten all the world with laughter and be gay.
Bravo, Julian Hawthorne!
[Julian Hawthorne in America.]
The real point at issue is, not whether Zola’s books are decent or indecent, but whether a government has a right to suppress indecent literature. And here I must state my conviction that they have no right whatever to say a word in the matter. No man should be restricted in his right to publish whatever he pleases; no publisher should be forbidden to sell (if he can) any book. Legislation against vice is folly, and has been proved so since the beginning of laws. It is never successful; on the contrary, it always promotes what it seeks to suppress. The innocence of ignorance is impossible in this world; the only possible innocence is that of knowledge and volition. . . . And my conclusion is that corrupt freedom is better than enforced virtue — if so absurd a contradiction in terms can be admitted.
The Millionaire’s Backer.
In the rapidly gathering gloom of the afternoon of the Nineteenth Century we must see, if not totally blind, the giant and ghastly form of Privilege in shadowy outline behind the millionaire. Privilege it is that robs labor of his pittance and gives it to the fortunate pets of the State.
Likewise in Political Matters.
In matters of philosophy and science authority has ever been the great opponent of truth. A despotic calm is the triumph of error; in the republic of the sciences sedition and even anarchy are commendable.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 141.
And she approached the child maternally.
Then Jean, bursting open the closed door and seeing the child, cried:
“A child! She! So this is the bottom of the heap! It is complete.”
And he fell upon a chair, overwhelmed with distress and amazement.
This remnant of feudal morals, of the wild justice of Frank chivalry and of barbarian nobility, this right of natural defence which substitutes force and private cunning for the law and public power, this prejudice of an anti-social age when the individual sustained his own cause in the absence of collective power, the duel has outlived the declaration of rights and duties, the principles of the French Revolution; and our bourgeoisie, which has inherited the privileges of the nobility, has inherited also its assassinations.
In spite of all the eloquence of Rousseau, the Goddess of Reason of ’93, and the sovereignty of the People; in spite even of the wise example of aristocratic England, democratic and social France keeps the duel. Outside of the people, who, I hope, will not inherit this vice, all its bourgeois gentlemen, its Jourdains and Dimanches, its republicans even, its citizens of the nineteenth century, still conduct themselves like the knights of the age of judicial combats and judgments of God.
Montesquieu, a feudalist, explains why a blow on the cheek is unpardonable; inasmuch as the knight fought with covered head, none but vassals could be struck on the cheek. Hence, according to this wholly Garoussian theory, the supreme offence, the assault upon a man’s cheek, calls for blood. That of the offender we might allow, but that of the offended?
And so it will be until we shall have sufficiently elevated our life and morals to understand the lesson of solidarity that, if one man is offended, all are, and that the offender of one is the offender of all.
That noble theory, “force before right,” still regulates all human relations, individual and collective.
There is even a false code of honor, establishing and containing all the absurd and atrocious laws, usages, and customs of this right of the strongest, civilizing homicide and legalizing murder.
They fight until blood is drawn or to the death, with one or several shots, at the pistol’s mouth or at a distance, hand to hand or at sword’s length, and with seconds to say enough and the doctor near by to repair the too much, and in all cases alike honor is satisfied. They equalize weapons, but neither strength nor skill, and in any case honor is satisfied.
They draw lots for advantages of ground and position, but they allow the advantages of fencing and shooting lessons, and still honor is satisfied.
The knave may be the stronger and more skilful of the two,— that is, the conqueror,— and the honest man may be conquered and dead, but always honor is satisfied.
For one of these civilized crimes, then, the two old school friends, the two rivals who had already fought over a love affair, met a second time at the Porte Maillot. In those days fighting was still allowed in the Bois de Boulogne.
Wood was cut there also; there peaceful labor often met quarrelsome idleness. On this particular day a poor wood-cutter was there, making his poor fagots, as Piron would say, with his poor child. His pale wife brought him his meagre sustenance, a breakfast of bread and cheese to revictual him, after two hours’ work in the morning mist.
Seeing a carriage stop at the crossing of the roads and three persons get out, the wood-cutter said to his wife:
“See, a carriage at this hour! More bourgeois about to amuse themselves by killing each other. It is laughable all the same. They come with weapons to kill each other and a doctor to dress the wounds. . . and they call that honor!”
“Yes,” said the wife, “they would do better to go to work.”
“I do not understand the passion that these idlers have for fighting. After all, they have nothing else to do! Ah! if they had to cut wood all day to earn bread for a family, they would not rise so early in the morning to bleed each other. Whence come they? From the ball-room, and full of truffles and turkey! Ah I if I were the government, I would condemn all these valorous people to support a child of the poor. Children I they give themselves the pain of making them and leave us the pleasure of bringing them up. I hope that the Republic will change all that. I sometimes feel, when I see them, as if I would like to settle all their quarrels with a few blows of the axe and make them into . . . but bah! they are good for nothing, not even for fagots!”
Camille, the first at the rendezvous with his two seconds, of whom one was the workman with the hammer, had advanced during this dialogue between the woodcutter and his wife.
He was soon joined by his adversary still in his Harlequin costume, and Gaston’s seconds, dressed as a Merry Andrew and a Macaire, having had time, after their supper, only to sleep off their wine and get their swords and a doctor.
After having exchanged salutations, Camille said to his adversary:
“This wood-cutter is at work here; let us go a little farther on.”
“I am late and fatigued; let him go farther! Say, there, do you hear? The clodhopper does not answer.”
“Because the clodhopper could not answer you except with a piece of green wood, and he has no time to correct you.”
“Come, get away!” cried Frinlair to the wood-cutter in an imperious tone.
“Get away yourself.”
“Insolent wretch,” and he lifted his cane.
“How so?” and the wood cutter lifted his axe.
“Come, my worthy man, here is the price of your day’s work,” said Camille. And he gave him two dollars.
“This workman is doing his day’s work,” he added, “and we have no right to disturb him for nothing! Come, my good man, do us the service to go away.” “Very well! but this is too much. You owe me only half of this. Take back the rest, and good luck to you! To give two dollars to kill each other when I earn only one to live. Come, wife, let’s be off.”
And the wood-cutter, his child, and his wife, took each a bundle of fagots, big, medium-sized, and little, and made room for the combatants.
Human honor, real honor, is duty, devotion to right, to justice towards one’s fellow, one’s family, one’s country, and humanity.
As soon as the duellists were rid of the wood-cutters, Camille spontaneously offered excuses to Gaston, who did not deign to receive them, and the positions were immediately taken.
The two armed men stood face to face, with that instinctive hatred which animated at least one against the other, a hatred of race, as it were, as well as of interest.
Camille was a pupil of Prevot, a fencing-master whose son, worthy of the father, now gives lessons to the president’s guards. Prevot was the assistant of the great Bertrand, whose hall had preserved the classic tradition of the French school, the lightning stroke, the straight stroke to the heart.
But Camille’s master had set aside the rules of unity; he was romantic in fencing, saying with reason that there is blood everywhere and not alone in the red heart of the plastron. He had revolutionized the duel.
Camille did not want to kill his adversary, remembering Gaston’s mother, his own, and Marie; all these forms of goodness and beauty had driven hatred from his heart. He wanted only to put him hors de combat, abandoned the straight stroke, did not cross his sword, but held it low, ready, on the slightest advance of Frinlair, to stop him with a thrust in the leg or in the arm, in such a way as to disarm him.
Frinlair, as supple as a diplomat, as adroit as a monkey, and more cunning than strong at fencing, performed evolutions like those of a cat when its tail gets caught in a door.
He, on the contrary, wanted to kill Camille, through antipathy first, and also through calculation; he hated the man and the rival. Camille was the obstacle to the dowry, the shield before the million. So it was necessary to kill him at any cost, and the best way was to make him lose his guard and coolness.
After having thus dangerously but vainly harassed him by his skirmishing, suddenly he leaped upon him, engaging him hand to hand, and treacherously seized Camille’s weapon, though too late, whereupon Camille, taking a step backward, ran Gaston through the body.
The seconds received the victim in their arms.
Two strangers to the duel, who had watched it anxiously from behind a clump of trees, came forth at once to shake hands with Camille.
The baron, ever anxious about his dear ward, had followed him, accompanied by Doctor Dubois, happy to be of no use to the victor.
The police arrived, as usual, after all was over, took the cards of the parties, helped to put Frinlair into his carriage. . . and justice, morality, and honor were once more satisfied in France by the flow of blood.
The duel, war, and the death penalty, to say nothing of wages, three means of the same sort, of the same age, and of the same right, force, which arbitration alone can and must replace immediately for the satisfaction of human honor.
The next day the whole press told the story of the end of Gaston de Frinlair without more comment than as if he had died a natural death.
Gérome made a portrait of him in his best style.
The Bois de Boulogne, becoming a park, relegated duellists and wood-cutters to the Bois de Meudon.
Let us go back a few hours in this evening of Mardi-Gras, 1848.
Mine. Potard, first-class midwife, whose establishment was in the Quartier du Marais, was about to take a little rest at nightfall, when a ring of the bell suddenly made her scold.
“Another nuisance,” she exclaimed. “I can do no more, I am tired out. Births, miscarriages, and the rest,— there is no end. Not to mention that the game isn’t worth the candle.”
In the meantime the servant entered.
“Madame,” said she, “a gentleman.”
“Ah, indeed! Well dressed or shabby, tell me?”
“Very chic. Oh! a swell!” exclaimed the servant, admiringly.
“As much as that?” asked Mine. Potard, smiling contentedly.
“Much more,” said the servant, stepping aside to let her mistress pass as the latter ran to see her evening visitor in the ante-room.
She was about to survey and question him when he seized her by the arm and pushed her toward the door.
“Come, start at once,” said he, “there is no time to lose.”
“But, Monsieur,” protested the midwife, “I must first know”. . .
“It is useless, time is pressing, the carriage waits, we will talk on the way.” Willy-nilly, Mme. Potard had to go out and follow her customer.
“Well, what is it?” she asked, when they were once settled in the carriage.
The man, who concealed his face under his high collar, explained his business in a few words.
“I am obliged to confide a grave secret to you,” said he. “A young woman is about to give birth to a child. How does that happen? That does not concern you. Only thus far are you interested. You are to preside at the delivery. The child will be confided to you and must disappear at once.”
“Disappear,” exclaimed Mme. Potard.
“I said disappear,” repeated the stranger.
“Oh! Monsieur,” replied the midwife, “you take me”. . .
“For what you are,” said the man, drily.
“But”. . .
“How much do you ask? One thousand dollars”. . .
“That would be nothing at all," Mme. Potard could not help crying.
“Well, make your own price.”
The midwife began to exclaim again.
“At no price,” said she. “Disappear! How you talk!”
And becoming suspicious, she went on:
“In the first place, one never knows with whom one is dealing. The police have so many devices for tempting and catching us. If one could only be sure of people. . . . If one knew people . . . perhaps . . . I do not say no. I like to render a service; that’s my business . . . but, you see, upon my conscience. . . . Who are you?”
The man remained silent.
“Are you the master of the house?”
The man leaned over toward the midwife and spoke a word in her ear. “Indeed!” she exclaimed. “Then you”. . .
“Hush!” said the other. “And now let us come to an understanding.”
The midwife still professed reluctance.
“Really, I should like to be accommodating, but you ask an impossibility. A drug, a simple abortion, that’s all very well; art has to aid nature. A little spurred rye, etc., and all’s done; one does not leave a trade-mark. A fig for the police!”
And coming to the point, she said:
“There are only two of us. If you wish something evil of me, there is no witness; you affirm, I deny. So let us be reasonable. A thousand dollars for such an operation would be no price at all. I should not make my expenses.”
“Two thousand,” said the man, “and silence, for here we are. There’s your money. Is it agreed?”
“Why! since you insist on so much,” said the midwife, following her companion with a quick step.
They entered an aristocratic mansion by the back door, and went up stairs and through the halls until they reached a sleeping-room where they found a young woman in the pains of labor.
The midwife took in the situation in no time.
“Oh! she’s all right. The birth is a normal one. Only fifteen minutes more of pain. There, bite your handkerchief, my child, struggle as much as you please, and don’t be afraid to cry out. We will rid you of that presently.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the patient, in horror. “Who is this woman?”
“Whatl” said the midwife; “then she is not in the secret of Paradise?”
“No,” said the man, in a low voice, “you will tell her that the child is dead.”
“Agreed,” said Mine. Potard.
The time went rapidly. A final spasm drew a last cry from the young woman. “There you are,” said the midwife, softly.
The mother raised her voice feebly.
“It is?” she asked.
“A boy,” said Mme. Potard.
“Oh! give him to me, the poor little one, and let me kiss him,” begged the mother, in a tone of ineffable sweetness.
But the midwife froze the kiss on the lips of the unhappy woman with this single word: “Still-born!” saying which, she placed the child in a basket ready for the purpose.
The mother threw herself back in the bed with a heart-rending cry.
“You are going?” said the man to the midwife. “Is there no danger in leaving Madame alone?”
“No,” she answered. “Hers is a strong nature, and she will sleep.”
And the midwife bowed and retired.
“Now I must hurry off to the other,” exclaimed the man, disappearing in turn, called to another person and another drama which so interested him that he was willing to leave the sick woman to the care of a nurse.
Thus passed several hours.
The dawn lighted the windows of the room.
The man came back.
The sound of his steps aroused the sick woman from her prostration.
“Is he really dead?” she asked.
“Yes, and have courage, Claire; his father has gone straightway to join him.” “His father!”
“Yes; killed in a duel by his rival, caused by a girl. . . All is over. You must be resigned, my child.”
“Oh! I shall go mad,” shrieked the sick woman, fainting under this terrible shock.
“Now then,” said the unknown, ever imperturbable, “there is no further obstacle to the marriage!”
A month after Frinlair’s death, Baron Hoffmann and his daughter were sitting in the same room, the banker at a round table with an account-book and a pencil in his hand, and Claire at another table giving milk to a kitten. In the middle of the room Laurent, the servant, and Rosine, Mademoiselle’s maid, had just arranged a superb array of wedding jewels sent by Camille that Claire might make a selection.
The baron raised his head, saying in an undertone:
“His guardianship account is completed. . . I hold my madman, hold him in spite of everything, tied hand and foot”. . .
And aloud to Claire he said, pointing to the jewels:
“Have you chosen? It is embarrassing. What an array! Camille is eccentric, as usual.”
At this name the banker’s daughter gave a start of horror, and, without answering, continued her attentions to the kitten, saying gently:
“Poor little orphan, I take the place of your mother, who died in giving birth to you.”
And calling, she added:
“Rosine, he is cold; put on his covering, and place him on a cushion near the fire.”
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” said Rosine, going out with the animal.
“One must love something,” sighed Claire, looking pensively at the crosses, amulets, and missals that surrounded her.
“You do not answer me,” said the baron again, with a shade of impatience. Rosine entered with a piece of sculpture in her hand.
“Ah! Mademoiselle,” said she, “here is the representation of Minette which the sculptor has brought for her grave in the garden. Does it look like her?”
“All right,” interrupted the banker. “Let him be paid, and go away!”
Claire took various articles from a box and handed them to the servant.
“Send these bread-tickets to the poor of this district,” said she, “this package of baby’s linen to the infant asylum, and these religious books to the prison of St. Lazare.”
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” said Laurent, who went out with Rosine, saying in her ear: “What an angel!”
The baron rose, and, approaching Claire, said:
“Come, pay a little attention to what I have to say. Let us sit down and talk. My daughter, you are a patroness of St. Lazare, a commissioner of infant asylums, a lady of charity. That’s all very well, but it is not enough. You still lack, you know, the title of Madame Camille Berville.”
“Ah! never!” said Claire, trembling.
The baron looked in her eyes, and continued in a tone of authority:
“This last title is needed to assure the others. You must take it at the earliest possible moment. This marriage, announced and published, has been dragging too long already. These delays displease me, and even frighten me, for I am beginning to be alarmed about Camille.”
Claire gave a start of joy.
“Is it possible?”
“Yes, since a month, since his last duel.”
The unhappy woman felt a mortal shiver.
The baron continued pitilessly:
“Camille is transformed, reformed. No more balls, no more races, no more gambling, no more debts. He is growing orderly. Again I say, that disturbs me. He who all his life has not even calculated his own affairs, spending always without consideration, now has a new skin, and is so changed that one would not recognize him. For the first time, five years after reaching his majority, he calls on me for his guardianship accounts. But to lead him suddenly to become a man of order and good conduct there must be some mystery, and this mystery is very much like love.”
Claire felt an immense sensation of happiness in the midst of her pain. She foresaw the possibility of escaping the man whom, since the death of her lover, she had looked upon as worse than an enemy, as the assassin of her happiness.
“Oh! I should escape,” she murmured.
And feverishly drawing nearer to her father, she asked:
“Love, did you say?”
“Yes,” said he, with a frown, “I have made inquiries. He is enamored of a working-girl.”
“Of a working-girl?” repeated Claire, her illusions vanishing.
“Of a dressmaker,” explained M. Hoffmann, “and recently, if I am not mistaken, at a masquerade supper, followed by that duel”. . .
Claire starting to go away, he had to hold her back.
“Your coldness,” he continued, placing himself in front of her, “your delays are the cause. Therefore this caprice must be cut short before it becomes passion. This girl, as I happen to know, is the more dangerous because she resists him. . . through policy doubtless. You have been desirous of employing her because she was Didier’s daughter. You will leave her, I hope. For a little money she will yield, and all will be settled. I know the man and his extravagance. Camille spurned would be capable of anything. He is already capable of order. His love then must be promptly opposed with marriage.”
Claire turned away her head with a feeling of repulsion, saying in a low voice: “Always that frightful marriage!”
The maid just then interrupted with the announcement:
The baron had a sardonic smile.
“Your rival . . . send her away,” said he to Claire.
But the latter made haste to break off the interview.
“Bid her enter,” she ordered.
Marie, simply dressed as usual, entered timidly, with a pasteboard box under her arm.
“Come in, come in, Mademoiselle Marie,” said Claire, looking at her and reflecting.
“She is very beautiful,” she said to herself. “Can he then have fallen in love? Oh, no, it is simply another intrigue.”
“What do you want?” she asked at last.
“I bring you back my work,” said Marie, hesitating.
“Prompt this time,” said Claire, alluding to the spoiled dress, “and pardoned.” Rosine intervened.
“Does Mademoiselle wish to try it on?”
“Later,” decided the baron, in an imperious tone. “The working-girl will come again.”
Marie laid down the box, but before going out she said to Claire:
“Excuse me, Mademoiselle, I know not how to tell you, to ask you . . . but you have always been so good to me . . . you did not leave me, in spite of the accident to the dress; that encourages me to ask of you another favor now.”
“What is it?” asked Claire in surprise.
“Here is my little bill,” said Marie, in confusion . . . “and I beg you to make no deduction this time, and to pay me directly; for today I am in need, great need, of money.”
Claire started toward the round table, where she kept her money-box.
“Ah! and why?” said she, as she was looking for the money. “You, so economical, so orderly, Marie; have you then changed your habits . . . since the ball? So much the worse.”
And she added with design:
“Remember that order is your inheritance, wisdom your only dowry, and that these blessings may be more precious than wealth to a man of heart.”
“I make this request of you,” answered Marie, candidly, “only because I am no longer alone.”
“Whatl!” exclaimed Claire.
“No, Mademoiselle. For a month I have had a little baby in my care.”
“A baby!” exclaimed the baron, in turn.
“You!” cried Claire, opening her eyes wide and not believing her ears.
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” said Marie, with all the simplicity of her innocence, “a baby that I have adopted”. . .
“A fine thing to do at your age,” observed the baron, ironically.
“That I found,” continued Marie, “a month ago, abandoned, in my room, on the night of Mardi-Gras.”
Claire and the baron looked at each other, moved by the same thought, and grew suddenly pale.
“The night of Mardi-Gras?” questioned M. Hoffmann.
“Yes, Monsieur, on returning from the ball, I found in my room, in a basket, a new-born babe, which I have kept.”
“Ah!” exclaimed Claire, ready to faint and staggering.
“Claire!” said the baron, sustaining her and signalling her to control herself. “What is the matter, Mademoiselle?” asked Marie, in a tone of deep sympathy. “Nothing,” cried the baron.
Then, changing his tone and folding his arras, he continued:
“And you have kept this child?”
“To be sure, Monsieur,” confessed Marie, “a poor little orphan, good people, and it costs me four dollars a month to support him.”
“Beautiful, but expensive,” sneered the banker.
“Yes, Monsieur,” concluded Marie, “and I need money this very day to pay the nurse who brought me the baby. So I beg you, Mademoiselle, if it is not too much trouble”. . .
The baron went straight up to her and said rapidly and sternly:
“A child found in your room on returning from the ball! What sort of a Carnival tale are you telling us? You abuse the interest taken in you on account of your father who died in the service of the house. The money will be withheld from you to pay for the spoiled dress. Dress, ball, duel, baby, your whole conduct is a perfect scandal, and your impudence caps the climax. Go bring up your adopted child as you can. We owe assistance to misfortune only.”
Marie turned to Claire.
“Ah, Mademoiselle,” she protested.
“Father!” said Claire to the baron.
And she started to pay Marie. The baron caught her hand.
“Go,” said he to Marie.
Marie bowed and went away, trembling and anxious.
“Now,” she said to herself, “all that remains of my poor inheritance for my child.”
To be continued.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
Liberty and Aggression.
My dear Mr. Tucker:
Liberty has done me a great service in carrying me from the metaphysical speculations in which I was formerly interested into a vein of practical thought which is more than a mere overflow of humanitarianism; which is as closely logical and strictly scientific as any other practical investigation. In spite of certain small criticisms which it would be petty to dwell upon, it is the most advanced and most intellectual paper that I have seen. I esteem it most highly.
The particular matter upon which we have exchanged letters — the question of non-resistance — is still in my mind, but it is hard for me to find time to write anything for publication. Perhaps it is even premature.
Of course I see very clearly that economically Anarchism is complete without including any question as to force or no-force at all: but the importance of preaching one or the other as a means of obtaining or perpetuating Anarchy has not diminished in my mind.
People invariably feel, if they do not ask: “How are you going to accomplish it?” And I think the question is valid.
In every definition of liberty, or of aggression, there is a reference to a certain limit beyond which liberty becomes aggression. How this limit is certainly determinable I have never seen any one attempt to show. As a matter of fact, the history of liberty has been a record of the continual widening of this limit. Once there was a time when religious heterodoxy was regarded as an aggression, not vainly I think you will admit when you remember how much our actions are influenced by our predisposing theories. When it was commonly thought, even by transgressors themselves, that nothing but the acceptance of certain dogmas prevented all men from becoming transgressors, it was not unreasonable to “resist the beginnings.” So now when multitudes of good people regard the maintenance of the State as essential to the preservation of security, it is no wonder that they should easily be inflamed against those who openly antagonize the State. Formerly to think heterodoxy was regarded as an aggression. Afterwards thought was freed, but speech was limited. To speak of the forbidden thing was then an aggression, and still is to some extent.
What is the line? Where is the limit? Thought and speech can both be absolutely free. Thinking or talking cannot really hurt anybody.
But when we come to actions, where are we to stop?
That this line which separates liberty from aggression should be drawn, seems to me essential to the working of the Anarchistic principle in actual practice. As an illustration, you and Egoist in the last issue of Liberty consider each the other an aggressor in a certain case.
Is not government really a bungling attempt, but perhaps the best we could do up to this time, to settle the question, roughly and arbitrarily, between parties who each regarded themselves as within their right and the other as the aggressor.
So it would appear to me. Even the land laws and other laws which seem primary are, I think, only secondary. I am not profoundly versed in the history of law, but I am inclined to think that statutes and the generalizations of common law have sprung from the collocation of many individual decisions, each decision being the best that could be arrived at under the circumstances of the time.
If this is at all a fair description of what is,— that is, if law is a rough attempt to draw the line between liberty and aggression, and not a conscious deliberate fraud committed by the privileged upon the oppressed (and I think the notion of the State being “a conspiracy” is as empty as the parallel notion of some of our secularist friends that the Church is a conspiracy of priests),— if the State is the result of attempts to determine the limit of liberty, no theory that dispenses with the State is complete unless it otherwise defines that limit.
The essence of aggression, the reason that it is forbidden, is that it causes pain. Pain, even when caused by, or a concomitant of, properly limited liberty, is in itself a wrong,— an antagonist of personal or social progress. If aggression were uniformly pleasant, it would be regarded as commendable.
So that if in the exercise of my liberty I give pain to anybody, in so far as I give pain I am committing an aggression. If I bathe naked before one who is shocked by such exhibition, doubtless his prudery is unjustifiable: that, however, does not alter the fact that I have deliberately injured him,— I have committed an aggression.
In trying to logically define this limit, I have cast about in various directions. At one time it seemed that individual liberty included a right to all non-action. That is, that people have a right to say to any one: “You are injuring us by your proceedings; you must stop”; but that they have no right to say: “It is essential to our happiness that you should do this or that.”
I am not sure that this is not a correct idea, but the statement lacks precision, and I have not so far been able to attenuate it.
The best thought that I have yet bad is that what is called “non-resistance" is the true guide. A better word would be “non-retaliation,” yet even that is not quite right.
At the bottom there is a feeling that no one attacks another nowadays for fun. If a man attacks me, I immediately conclude that I have injured him, or that he thinks that I have injured him. If I could “paralyze him by a glance” or otherwise “resist” him without injuring him, I should hardly call it resistance. Usually, however, there are but two courses open. One a timely apology: the other a counter attack. If I adopt the latter and disable him or kill him, the question of who first aggressed is undetermined. I have assumed an aristocratic attitude of impeccability; sociality does not exist.
As for those who take pleasure in aggression, it is an evanescent type. They are hospital subjects, reversions to an ancestral type, certainly not responsible individuals.
Briefly, the question of what constitutes aggression can be settled only by compact between individuals. In order to arrive at an understanding and form the compact, the opinion of the one that thinks he is encroached upon must be final if it cannot be removed by argument,— that is, by changing his convictions.
If any action is persisted in which any one conceives to be an aggression upon him, it virtually is an aggression; and the friend of liberty is compelled to recognize it as such and to recede, rather than to inflict injury in continuing his course.
I trust that you will seize my idea. I do not regard this as final, but I think some clearly logical demarcation essential.
Sincerely yours, John Beverley Robinson.
67 Liberty Street, New York, January 25, 1889.
While I should like to see the line between liberty and aggression drawn with scientific exactness, I can not admit that such rigor of definition is essential to the realization of Anarchism. If, in spite of the lack of such a definition, the history of liberty has been, as Mr. Robinson truly says, “a record of the continual widening of this limit,” there is no reason why this widening process should not go on until Anarchy becomes a fact. It is perfectly thinkable that, after the last inch of debatable ground shall have been adjudged to one side or the other, it may still be found impossible to scientifically formulate the rule by which this decision and its predecessors were arrived at.
The chief influence in narrowing the strip of debatable land is not so much the increasing exactness of the knowledge of what constitutes aggression as the growing conception that aggression is an evil to be avoided and that liberty is the condition of progress. The moment one abandons the idea that he was born to discover what is right and enforce it upon the rest of the world, he begins to feel an increasing disposition to let others alone and to refrain even from retaliation or resistance except in those emergencies which immediately and imperatively require it. This remains true even if aggression be defined in the extremely broad sense of the infliction of pain; for the individual who traces the connection between liberty and the general welfare will be pained by few things so much as by the consciousness that his neighbors are curtailing their liberties out of consideration for his feelings, and such a man will never say to his neighbors, “Thus far and no farther,” until they commit acts of direct and indubitable interference and trespass. The man who feels more pained at seeing his neighbor bathe naked than he would at the knowledge that he refrained from doing so in spite of his preference is invariably the man who believes in aggression and government as the basis of society and has not learned the lesson that “liberty is the mother of order.”
This lesson, then, rather than an exact definition of aggression, is the essential condition of the development of Anarchism. Liberty has steadily taught this lesson, but has never professed an ability to define aggression, except in a very general way. We must trust to experience and the conclusions therefrom for the settlement of all doubtful cases.
As for States and Churches, I think there is more foundation than Mr. Robinson sees for the claim that they are conspiracies. Not that I fail to realize as fully as he that there are many good men in both whose intent is not at all to oppress or aggress. Doubtless there are many good and earnest priests whose sole aim is to teach religious truth as they see it and elevate human life, but has not Dr. McGlynn conclusively shown that the real power of control in the Church is always vested in an unscrupulous machine? That the State originated in aggression Herbert Spencer has proved. If it now pretends to exist for purposes of defence, it is because the advance of sociology has made such a pretence necessary to its preservation. Mistaking this pretence for reality, many good men enlist in the work of the State. But the fact remains that the State exists mainly to do the will of capital and secure it all the privileges it demands, and I cannot see that the combinations of capitalists who employ lobbyists to buy legislators deserve any milder title than “conspirators,” or that the term “conspiracy” inaccurately expresses the nature of their machine, the State.
Mill on Conspiracy.
Careful readers will remember the position once taken in Liberty upon the question of boycotting and so-called conspiracy methods of trades unions. Mr. Tucker held that a man has a right to threaten what he has a right to carry into effect, and that men may legitimately combine for purposes which individually they have the right to pursue. Thornton, in his book on “Labor and Its Claims,” expresses a similar opinion with regard to the conspiracy laws directed against workmen’s organizations. In a favorable review of that book, John Stuart Mill takes exception to a portion of the argument by which Thornton supports his conclusion, though concurring in the conclusion itself. He says:
I cannot go entirely with him when he lays it down as an absolute and self-evident truth that whatever is lawful when done by one person ought not to be an offence when done by a combination of several. He forgets that the number of agents may materially alter the essential character of the act. Suppose, merely for the sake of illustration, that the state of opinion was such as to induce legislators to tolerate within certain limits the prosecution of quarrels and the redress of injuries by the party’s own hands, as is the case practically, though not legally, in all countries where duelling prevails. If, under cover of this license, instead of a combat between one and one, a band of assailants were to set upon a single person and take his life, or inflict on him bodily harm, would it be allowable to apply to this case the maxim that what is permitted to one person ought to be permitted to any number? The cases are not parallel; but if there be so much as one case of this character, It is discussable, and requires to be discussed, whether any given case is such a one; and we have a fresh proof how little even the most plausible of these absolute maxims of right and wrong are to be depended on.
Should superficial minds cite such a case in proof of the untenability of the position assumed by Liberty and Thornton that a mere multiplication of agents cannot turn an originally permissible act into a crime, one might feel a certain pleasure in correcting this rather amusing blunder; but when so close and analytical a thinker as the author of “Logic” and the critic of Sir William Hamilton and Comte gives sober utterance to such a silly remark, one becomes conscious of a sense of shame and confusion akin to that which we experience when an admired friend of ours makes a fool of himself in public. On the other hand, the astonishment is too great at the fact that a man so keen should upon a matter so simple fall into an error so palpable and absurd, and one is apt to suspect that there is a hidden meaning and significance in the apparently illogical statement not discoverable by ordinary intelligence. Still the case seems to be clear. Duels are tolerated because both parties concerned voluntarily decide upon this private method of vindicating their dignity, and the “essential character” of the act would be altered in the case of a band of assailants supposed by Mill simply and solely because it is inconceivable that anyone should agree to suffer such an attack. Were one to willingly accept such conditions of duelling and choose to fight a whole band, there obviously would be no more ground for legal prohibition than is now recognized. On the other hand, no one can force another to accept a challenge on any conditions, if he sees fit to decline. It is not the “number of agents,” then, which alters the case, but the lack of the main condition, which is the voluntary consent of both parties. The maxim that what is allowable to one must be allowed to a combination of many is still “to be depended on.”
The Question of Compromise.
The issue of Liberty which contained my article on “Ideas and Conduct” also had the following editorial note:
The real question involved in the problem of compromise is not whether a man’s life should harmonize with his beliefs, but whether it is better, in the interest of truth, that a teacher should not tell the whole of it, even though he can just as well as not.
Although no reference is made to my article, it is obvious that the paragraph was intended as a critical comment on the same. Now I cannot admit that the “real question” of compromise is formulated or summarized correctly in the words I have quoted. That there are people who discuss the question from that standpoint, I well know; that there are people who deem it expedient to deal with truth on the instalment plan, I am equally well aware; but I deny that in this consists the essential and central difficulty and bone of contention. Prominent writers invariably discuss compromise from the standpoint taken by me, agreeing entirely as to the importance and necessity of uttering the whole truth on all occasions where it is possible to do so without positive injury to innocent people. Herbert Spencer considers at length the problem in question in his “Study of Sociology” and “Social Statics,” and in the concluding pages of the latter he uses this language:
The reader may now see his way out of the dilemma in which he feels placed between a conviction on the one hand that the perfect law is the only safe guide and a consciousness on the other that the perfect law cannot be fulfilled by imperfect men. Let him but duly realize the fact that opinion is the agency through which character adapts external arrangements to itself; that his opinion rightly forms part of this agency, is a unit of force constituting with other such units the general power which works out social changes; and he will then perceive that he may properly give full utterance to his innermost conviction, leaving it to produce what effect it may. It if not for nothing that he has in him these sympathies with some principles and repugnance to others. He with all his capacities and desires and beliefs is not an accident, but a product of the time. . . . The highest truth conceivable by him he will fearlessly utter; and will endeavor to get embodied in fact his purest idealism, knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his appointed part in the world; knowing that, if be can get the thing he aims at — well; if not — well also, though not so well.
John Morley in his book on “Compromise” (a work, by the way, which I would earnestly recommend as the most lucid, fair, philosophical, and complete statement of the question), justifying or rather enjoining moderation and caution in the work of practical innovation, thus expresses himself with regard to the theoretical side of reform:
The time has always come, and the season is never unripe, for the announcement of the fruitful idea. The fact of a new idea having come to one man is a sign that it is in the air. The new idea does not spring up uncaused and by miracle. If it has come to him, there must be others to whom it has only just missed coming. If he has found his way to the light, there must be others groping after it very close in his neighborhood. His discovery is their goal. The fact that the mass are not yet ready to receive, any more than to find, is no reason why the possessor of the new truth should run to hide under a bushel the candle which has been lighted for him. If the time has not come for them, at least it has come for him. No man can ever know whether his neighbors are ready for change or not. He has all these certainties, at least; that he himself is ready for the change; that he believes it would be a good and beneficent one; that, unless some one begins the work of preparation, assuredly there will be no consummation; and that, if he declines to take a part in the matter, there can be no reason why every one else in turn should not decline in like manner, and so the work remain forever unperformed. He who acts just as if the truth were not in him does for the ideas with which he sees the very thing which the acute persecutor does for the is which he dislikes — he extinguishes beginnings and kills the germs.
Similar ideas and sentiments are warmly defended by Emerson, George Eliot, and others, but it would be useless to multiply quotations. Only when possessors of truth cannot freely speak without risk of serious personal injury are they absolved from the duty of unreserved advocacy. But such cases properly come within the question of harmonizing conduct with opinions, and need not be here introduced. I only insist that what Mr. Tucker defined as “the real question” is really no question at all to thinkers and students, they all agreeing that it cannot be in the interest of truth to refrain from “telling the whole of it,” even though nothing obliges us to suppress any part, and that those to whom it is still a question are, as Mr. Toots would say, “of no consequence.”
[Mr. Yarros’s article on “Ideas and Conduct,” though thoughtful and well-written, like all his articles, and containing, as I now remember it, little or nothing of which I disapprove, seemed to me, nevertheless, superfluous and misleading in these pages,— superfluous because dealing with a question which most of Liberty’s readers may be supposed to have outgrown, and misleading because liable to confuse some of them as to the ground upon which the compromise issue has generally been debated in Liberty. Fearing, then, that the article might send the discussion into channels foreign to the province of this paper, I wrote my paragraph as a precaution against such a diversion, and not as a criticism upon the substance of Mr. Yarros’s argument. He seems to have mistaken my purpose through a misunderstanding of what I meant by “real question.” By that phrase I meant the question with which Liberty and all advanced sociologists have to deal in the prosecution of their work. The absolute moral duty of conforming conduct to conviction at whatever cost is a doctrine which the theologian preaches to his mental slaves, and the correctness of it is a bone of contention between the theologian and the scientist. But the warfare between theology and science is not of doubtful issue, and Liberty has gone onward and upward to higher ground. Liberty exacts nothing from the theologian or his slaves; it takes the scientific method for granted; and its peculiar business is to point out to those who accept the scientific method the principles which that method fixes as the starting-points in sociology. But, in going about this business, it comes in conflict with some people — nay, a good many people — who, accepting the scientific method, still maintain, professedly on rational and non-transcendental grounds, that it is expedient and to the interest of truth itself, to use Mr. Yarros’s happy phrase, to “deal with truth on the instalment plan.” Now these people may not be Spencers or Morleys,— although I think it would require no very extended search to find an abundance of passages sustaining such a policy in the works of “thinkers and students” nearly as famous as those whom Mr. Yarros quotes,— but they are, most of them, earnest and intelligent people, whose cooperation is desirable in any movement. They are very far from being “of no consequence.” In fact, their error is one of the most serious obstacles with which truth has to contend. Such, with the exception of one or two manifest cowards and scoundrels, are the persons who have opposed Liberty’s “plumb-line” policy, and it is their policy which Liberty has combatted. To Liberty, then, the question of compromise as they raise it is the “real question,” and about any other question of compromise it has little or no concern; for it knows that with those who hold beliefs earnestly the desire to conform their lives thereto will cause them to do all that can be done healthily in that direction, if not a little more, while as for those with whom belief is nothing but reluctant assent to that which only the foolish and the ignorant can deny, they are the persons whom Mr. Toots might truly characterize as “of no consequence.” — Editor Liberty.]
To the Editor of Liberty:
After having read in No. 141 of Liberty of the barefaced letter of Victoria Woodhull, repudiating in toto her past advocacy of “free love,” and your own protest against her shameless denials, I feel it my duty to strengthen your testimony by adding mine, which, like your own, is based on personal experience.
I happened to be acquainted with her in 1871–73. I belonged to a section of the International Workingmen’s Association in New York. Mrs. Woodhull and Tennie C. Claflin, her sister, belonged to another section of the same order. Theirs was No. 12, and its delegate to the Federal Council sitting on Prince Street, New York, was Col. Blood, one of the two husbands living in her mansion up town. I was the delegate of my own section to the Federal Council.
Mrs. Woodhull and her sister had made themselves so extensively notorious with their advocacy of what they were pleased to call “free love” (but what was in reality “free promiscuity”) that the General Council in London (England), under the iron rulership of Karl Marx, sent to the American Federal Council a “bull” of expulsion against the section to which the two notorious sisters belonged,— viz., No. 12.
Great troubles and disturbances arose in the Federal Council. The American sections stood for the right of thought and speech, and refused to endorse the "expulsion.” The German and French sections sided with Karl Marx and the General Council, but, the majority being American delegates, the expulsion was never recognized. This unfortunate affair was, to a large extent, the cause of the subsequent disintegration of the Federal Council and of the order.
I, myself, as representative of an American section, voted against the expulsion. For my presumption against his autocratic power, Karl Marx persecuted me in a most cowardly way. I had sat on the General Council in London as a co-worker of his, and he knew by experience that I was bold enough to vote against his pet schemes.
Therefore, the editors of "Der Arme Teufel” and “Freiheit” may feel assured that you have stated nothing but the truth (and not all the truth) in your comments on Victoria Woodhull’s letter. That person and her sister were expelled from the International Workingmen’s Association on the ground that they were notorious advocates of “free love.” The general secretary of the Federal Council, being yet alive and residing in the States, can testify to the accuracy of my statement.
It is true, as you say, that thousands upon thousands have listened to these two women’s speeches in favor of “promiscuity,” or “variety,” as some of our contemporaries call it. In some instances, thousands had to stay outside, so crammed was the hall inside. Their paper, “Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly,” was replete with "free love” matters, written by themselves; and, in my presence, their private conversation was devoted specially to that branch of social reform.
It is not that I throw the least blame on either their convictions or their practical demonstrations of such. It is the indisputable right of the individual to think, speak, and act as he pleases,— i.e., as his nature prompts him to do,— and no other individual is justified in condemning these demonstrations of individualism.
I merely wanted to join my voice to your own in affirming that Victoria Woodhull’s letter to the London “Court Journal” is a fabrication of lies or a manifestation of insanity, and to say that your utterances relating thereto are in no way exaggerated.
Lum Should Join the Primary Class.
G. C. Clemens, whom the editor of the “Alarm” puts forward as an exponent of the “elementary principles of Anarchism,” writes as follows in the “Kansas Democrat” of the position taken by the aforesaid editor that Anarchism can be accomplished by forcible revolution:
If the whole world were plunged into revolution tomorrow, and those oppressed were completely victorious, what good would it do for Anarchism? Would not such a revolution, while the majority yet believe in force and laws, merely result in erecting another government, one, perhaps, more despotic than any before it? Would not State Socialism, rather than Anarchism, be uppermost in such a struggle?
State Socialism could win by a revolution, for State Socialism believes in a strong, centralized government which could coerce the unwilling; but on the morrow of the revolution the Anarchists would wish to say: “Now the government is gone, let us have no more of it. Let us go peacefully to work,” and at once the demagogues would profit by ignorance to re-enslave the people.
Cannot anyone of the commonest intelligence see that Anarchism cannot succeed by any other means than the education of the people; by exciting their admiration of an ideal future till they yearn for its realization? Why, men and brethren, go read Herbert Spencer, Emerson, Dr. Channing, and Thoreau, if you would know what Anarchism really is; and you will blush for the vulgar ignorance of your editors.
Egoism the Morality of Socialism.
[S. O. in London Freedom.]
Socialism has no peculiar moral basis. It has a moral platform, or body of characteristic opinion, as to what is good for the life of man, just as Judaism or Christianity had theirs; but its basis, or final criterion, of morals is not different from that of any other philosophy founded like itself “on the agnostic treatment of the supersensuous,” which ignores, that is, theology and metaphysics. This basis, or final criterion, is individual desire, and nothing else. . . “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.” Only education in society can teach the individual what is most truly expedient for him. The Socialist “moral platform” will give him excellent rules for guidance in his non-age, but not until he acts socially for the satisfaction of his own individual desire, apart from any sense of duty or obligation, can he be in truth a free and moral agent.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Comments and Reply by Mr. Andrews.
Continued from No. 141.
The free lover rejoices in any relaxation of civil-marriage stringency, any facilitation by legislation of the laws of divorce such as Mr. James desires; but we choose to base our social agitation on the higher law of individual rights, leaving individuals to battle with their legal restrictions as they best may; as the abolitionists chose to do, rather than to agitate for special ameliorations of the condition of the slaves. This is in fact the only difference between Mr. James and us qua this particular question of the method of arriving at more practical freedom.
I have said that, as a mere politician or judicial functionary, I might myself be engaged, on the lower ground of expediency and practical necessity, in enacting and enforcing laws which, as a sociological writer and agitator, I should be instigating people to set aside and defy; and I will add that, in this latter capacity, I might be engaged in vindicating for individuals or the people freedom to act in ways in which, if they did act, I should wholly and energetically condemn them upon the still higher ground of transcendental ethics; and I hold still further tat any one who cannot understand and adjust himself to all these complexities is incompetent to be integrally a sociologist.
The rise of a higher social doctrine in the community is like the rise of a new tissue in the development of the body. It finds the ground preoccupied by the old, which it has to crowd aside to make room for itself. Hence the necessity for a conflict; and the same individual may find himself related at one moment to the old in a way to enforce duties upon him of that order, and the next moment to the new in a similar manner. Mrs. Woodhull, who agitates for free love, and the judge and jury who try her, and, if the evidence and the law require it, condemn her and send her to Blackwell’s Island, are both right; and Mrs. Woodhull, if empaneled on a jury to try one like herself, might have, in good conscience, to join in such a verdict against another doing the same as she may have been charged with doing. When people go to war, there is no use in whining over the fact that they are liable to get hurt; and a doubleness of duty in different directions is one of the commonest events of life. I simply rejoice that just in this age, and here in America, and perhaps in a few other countries, the old civilization has grown so rotten and enfeebled that the agitators for the new civilization have the advantage, and can defy and conquer with less of martyrdom than most other reforms have demanded.
Now, fortunately, the sociologico-ethical doctrine, that which scientifically defines the rights of individuals, reciprocally, in their mutual relations, sexual and otherwise, is merely a doctrine regulating reciprocity, and is not binding on the conscience of the other party the moment the reciprocity fails; and that moment the advocate of the doctrine is free to fall back upon the lower law and fight it out there; although, as a magnanimous policy, he may think it best not to avail himself of his privilege, – as in political economy the free-trader is only bound by his principles, on grounds of justice and equity, to inaugurate free trade with nations who will reciprocate, but he may, as magnanimity or far-reaching expediency, deem it best not to stop there. So the Declaration of American Independence declares certain rights to be inalienable, but it proceeds immediately to provide certain punishments, consisting of depriving individuals of the exercise of those very rights. What is meant is that the rights are conditionally inalienable, the condition being that those who claim them shall come with clean hands to do so; not at the same instant infringing the same rights in others. The South, in the war, demanded, on the ground of right, to be let alone, but demanded it for the purpose of enslaving others, and so lost her standing in court to make that plea, while, yet, the plea remained, abstractly, perfectly good. So I, as a free lover, am not bound to accord the freedom to regulate their own conduct, relieved from my interference, to any but those who can and will, in good faith and chivalric certainty, leave every other person, their dearest lovers included, equally free.
As regards all the rest of mankind, they have no right whatever under this doctrine “which white men are bound to respect.” I may deem it magnanimous or educationally expedient to recognize as free lovers, and to agitate in behalf of, those who are only half born into the doctrine; but they have no claims on my conscience to do so. Apart from this compact of equitable amity with a handful of people who are morally and intellectually competent to appreciate a scientific gauge of equity, I am just as free, in conscience, if I find it expedient, as the veriest old fogy, to help in the suppression of every deviation from the rigors of the law or of Mrs. Grundy. I am not, in other words, under any conscientious inability to behave as a good citizen on the lower politico-civic ground. But I deem the new doctrine so infinitely better, so fast as the world can be brought to regulate its conduct by a scientific principle, instead of force, that, as an agitator for the higher truth, the mere legislation of the hour takes no rank in the comparison; and if I find myself entangled in the meshes of the contradiction, I must take my risks and fight it through according to the circumstances of the individual case.
We come now to the still higher sphere, to the transcendental ethical sphere, where Mr. James commonly thinks and writes and figures. It is here that he usually talks of marriage, and by marriage in this sense I understand him to mean: whatsoever right conjunction of the counterparting factors of life; either as abstract principles, or in the realm of concrete personality. Marriage in this sense is what I mean by trinism, the reconciliative harmony of opposites. The idea is Swedenborgian, is Jamesian, is universological. In it I believe most religiously; for it I work most assiduously; to it I would lead all mankind; and in the effort to that end I recognize and fellowship Mr. James most heartily. He may, and I think probably would, define this spiritual, ethical, metaphysical marriage in a technical and somewhat narrow doctrinaire sense which I should reject; and here I think is another point of our real differences; and here, to make a clean breast of it, I think he may, perhaps, have something yet to learn from me. If he accepts the above definition, and if he will leave the questions: What are the counterparting factors of life, and What is a right adjustment of them, open to free scientific investigation, not imposing on the inquirer any doctrinaire interpretation of them, we can start fair; and I shall have many words, when the time comes, to utter about this matter.
But it seems to me a pity that Mr. James, with such a meaning of marriage, should never notify his readers when he passes to and fro between it and the common vulgar idea of statute marriage; the confusion so induced sometimes seeming to make of his writings a brilliant kaleidoscope of mysticism, instead of a body of intelligible instruction. For example, take this sentence: “Thus your doctrine has both a negative or implicit force, as addressed to the making marriage free by progressively enlarging the grounds of divorce; and a positive or explicit force, as addressed to the making love free, by denying its essential subordination to marriage.”
The word marriage is used here in two senses as if they were one; first, in the ordinary sense, and, second, to mean the true rational adjustment of the relations of love; and it is against this last, which he identifies first (at least as a factor) with “society” (meaning the highest ideal well-bring and true order of society), and then with “God,” the ideal personal author of this system of true order, that Mr. James supposes the free lovers to be in revolt (in addition to their revolt, in which he concurs, against the outward restrictions of enforced marriage in the lower sense).
The only solution I can think of (at first I could think of none) of this seemingly gratuitous assumption is this: Free lovers do often speak of their relative contempt for marriage as compared with the claims of genuine affection, and Mr. James, having the fixed idea in his mind of marriage in this higher sense, as the permanent meaning of the word, has attributed to them a meaning which he would have had, had had he used similar language. But he should know that they are not piping in the high transcendental keys in which he habitually sings or talks. They mean merely that love is for them the higher law over statute marriage without love. They are not then talking, or thinking, in the least, of denying that duty in a thousand forms may be a higher law still over love; that is to say, over the sensuous indulgences of mere love: duty to one’s self is f the health is to incur injury, duty to one’s higher spiritual nature if it is to be marred, duty to one’s children if their destiny is involved, duty to previous innocent companions and parties implicated in one’s act, duty to society at large and its well-being, duty to God or divine law written in the soul demanding integral and distributive justice; duty, in a word, to the Most High, or that, whatsoever it is, which is the highest in each individual soul. Some persons, to be sure, deny duty altogether on a ground of metaphysical subtlety, saying that, when they know what is right, that is the attraction and its doing not from duty but from love; but this is merely another mode of stating the common idea.
The mere agitators for free love are for the most part those who have not risen to the consideration of the ulterior questions involved in the true uses of freedom, any more than slaves struggling for freedom enquire what line of conduct they will pursue, or what considerations they will abide by in deciding their conduct, when free; and it is a pure gratuity to assume that they have decided against any moral course whatever.
Pope puts into the mouth of Eloise the following startling words: (Pope’s Poetical Works, vol. i., p. 125.)
How oft, when pressed to marriage, have I said,
Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
Let wealth, let honor, wait the wedded dame,
August her deed, and sacred be her name;
Before true passion all those views remove;
Fame, wealth, and honor! What are you to love?
The jealous God, when we profane his fires,
Those restless passions in revenge inspires,
And bids them make mistaken mortals groan,
Who seek in love for aught but love alone.
Should at my feet the world’s great Master fall,
Himself, His throne, His world, I’d scorn them all:
Not Caesar’s empress would I deign to prove;
No, make me mistress to the man I love;
If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
Oh, happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature law:
All then is full, possessing and possessed,
No craving void left aching in the breast;
Even thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part,
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
This sure is bliss (if bliss on earth there be),
And once the lot of Abelard and me.
The most exalted pythoness of free love of our day has never said more or gone farther than this: and yet a few pages farther on in this poem, this same rebel against marriage in the lower sense, as by the laws of man, is found struggling desperately with her own sense of right in the higher court of conscience, or as related to ethical truth; which, with her, held the from of obedience to God. Read the following in this vein:
Ah, wretch! believed the spouse of God in vain,
Confessed within the slave of love and man.
Assist me, heaven! but whence arose that prayer?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
E’en here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot as I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle with the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turned to heaven, I weep my past offence.
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
’Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I love the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love the offender, yet detest the offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touched, so pierced, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, forget,
Conceal, disdain, – do all things but regret!
But let heaven seize it, all at once ’tis fired;
Not touched, but wrapt; not weakened, but inspired!
O come! O teach me Nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself – and you;
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for He
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
To be continued.
[Edward Carpenter in the Fortnightly Review.]
Every human being grows up inside a sheath of custom, which enfolds it as the swathing-clothes enfold the infant. The sacred customs of one’s own early home, how fixed and immutable they appear to the child! It surely thinks that all the world in all times has proceeded on the same lines which bound its tiny life. It regards a breach of these rules (some of them at least) as a wild step in the dark, leading to unknown dangers.
Nevertheless its mental eyes have hardly opened ere it perceives, not without a shock, that, whereas in the family dining-room the meat always precedes the pudding, below-stairs and in the cottage the pudding has a way of coming before the meat; that, whereas its father puts the manure on the top of his seed-potatoes in spring, his neighbor invariably places his potatoes on top of the manure. All its confidence in the sanctity of its home life and the truth of things is upset. Surely there must be a right and a wrong way of eating one’s dinner or of setting potatoes, and surely, if any one, “father” or “mother” must know what is right. The elders have always said (and indeed it seems only reasonable) that by this time of day everything has been so thoroughly worked over that the best methods of ordering our life — food, dress, domestic practices, social habits, &c. — have long ago been determined. If so, why these divergencies in the simplest and most obvious matters?
And then one thing after another gives way. The sacred world-wide customs in which we were bred turn out to be only the practices of a small and narrow class or caste; or they prove to be confined to a very limited locality, and must be left behind when we set out on our travels; or they belong to the tenets of a feeble religious sect; or they are just the products of one age in history and no other. Are there really no natural boundaries? has not our life anywhere been founded on reason and necessity, but only on arbitrary custom? What is more important than food, yet in what human matter is there more arbitrary divergence of practice? The Highlander flourishes on oatmeal, which the Sheffield ironworker would rather starve than eat; the fat snail which the Roman country gentleman once so prized now crawls unmolested in the Gloucestershire peasant’s garden; rabbits are tabooed in Germany; frogs are unspeakable in England; sauer-kraut is detested in France; many races and gangs of people are quite certain they would die if deprived of meat, others think spirits of some kind a necessity, while to others again both these things are an abomination. Every country district has its local practices in food, and the peasants look with the greatest suspicion on any new dish, and can rarely be induced to adopt it. Though it has been abundantly proved that many of the British fungi are excellent eating, such is the force of custom that the mushroom alone is ever publicly recognized, while curiously enough it is said that in some other countries where the claims of other agarics are allowed the mushroom itself is not used! Finally, I feel myself (and the gentle reader probably feels the same) that I would rather die than subsist on insects, such is the deep-seated disgust we experience towards this class of food. Yet it is notorious that many races of respectable people adopt a diet of this sort, and only lately a book has been published giving details of the excellent provender of the kind that we habitually overlook,— tasty morsels of caterpillars and beetles, and so forth I And indeed, when one comes to think of it, what can it be but prejudice which causes one to eat the periwinkle and reject the land-snail, or to prize the lively prawn and proscribe the cheerful grasshopper?
It is useless to say that these local and other divergencies are rooted in the necessities of the localities and times in which they occur. They are nothing of the kind. For the most part they are mere customs, perhaps grown originally out of some necessity, but now perpetuated from simple habit and inherent human laziness. This can perhaps best be illustrated by going below the human to the kingdom of the animals. If customs are strong among men, they are far stronger among animals. The sheep lives on grass, the cat lives on mice and other animal food. And it is generally assumed that the respective diets are the most “natural” in each case, and those on which the animals in question will readiest thrive, and indeed that they could not well live on any other. But nothing of the kind. For cats can be bred up to live on oatmeal and milk with next to no meat; and a sheep has been known to get on very comfortably on a diet of port wine and mutton chops! Dogs, whose “natural” food in the wild state is of the animal kind, are undoubtedly much healthier (at any rate in the domestic state) when kept on farinaceous substances with little or no meat, and indeed they take so kindly to a vegetable diet that they sometimes become perfect nuisances in a garden,— eating strawberries, gooseberries, peas, &c., freely off the beds when they have once learned the habit. Any one in fact who has kept many pets knows what an astonishing variety of food they may be made to adopt, though each animal in the wild state has the most intensely narrow prejudices on the subject, and will die rather than overstep the customs of its tribe. Thus pheasants will eat fern-roots in winter when snow covers the ground, but the grouse “don’t eat fern-roots,” and die in consequence. A wolf of an inquiring turn of mind would probably find strawberries and peas as good food as a dog does, but it is practically certain that any ordinary member of the genus would perish in a garden full of the same if deprived of his customary bones.
All this seems to indicate what an immensely important part mere custom plays in the life of men and animals. The main part of the power which man acquires over the animals depends upon his establishing habits in them which once established they never think of violating, though perfectly able to do so. And the almost insuperable nature of this force in animals throws back light on the part it plays in human life.
Of course I am not contending in the above remarks upon food that there is no physiological difference between a dog and a sheep in the matter of their digestive organs, and that the one is not by the nature of its body more fitted for one kind of food than the other; but what I contend is that after all the main cause of their divergence in food is custom rather than physiological necessity. Custom changed first; the change of physical structure (which is only custom showing itself in the body) followed slowly after. What happened was probably something like this. Some time in the far back past a group of animals, driven perhaps by necessity, took to hunting in packs in the woods; it developed a modified physical structure in consequence, and special habits which in the course of time became deeply fixed in the race. Another group saved its life by taking to grazing. Grass is poor food; but it was the only chance this group had, and in time it got so accustomed to eating grass that it could not imagine any other form of diet, and at first would refuse even oysters when placed in its way! Another group saw an opening in trees; it developed a long neck and became the giraffe. But the fact that the giraffe lives on leaves, and the sheep on grass, and the wolf on animal matter, and that custom is in each so strong that at first the creature will refuse any other kind of diet, does not in the least prove that that diet is the best for it, or that the physiological modification in each case is so great as to make it impossible or even difficult for the creature to change its diet.
Returning to man, we see him enveloped in thousands of customs,— local customs, class customs, race customs, family customs, religious customs; customs in food, customs in clothing, customs in furniture, form of habitation, industrial production, art, social and municipal and national life, &c.; and the question arises, Where is the grain of necessity which underlies it all? How much in each case is due to a real fitness in nature, and how much to mere otiose habit? The first thing that meets my eye in glancing out of the window is a tile on a neighboring roof. Why are tiles made S-shaped in some localities and flat in others? Surely the conditions of wind and rain are much the same in all places. Perhaps far back there was a reason, but now nothing remains but — custom. Why do we sit on chairs instead of on the floor, as the Japanese do, or on cushions like the Turk? It is a custom, and perhaps it suits with our other customs. The more we look into our life and consider the immense variety of habit in every department of it — even under conditions to all appearances exactly similar — the more are we impressed by the absence of any very serious necessity in the forms we ourselves are accustomed to. Each race, each class, each section of the population, each unit even, vaunts its own habits of life as superior to the rest, as the only true and legitimate forms; and peoples and classes will go to war with each other in the assertion of their own special beliefs and practices; but the question that rather presses upon the ingenuous and inquiring mind is whether any of us have got hold of much true life at all? — whether we are not rather mere multitudinous varieties of caddis-worms shuffled up in the cast-off skins and clothes and debris of those who have gone before us, with very little vitality of our own perceptible at all? How many times a day do we perform an action that is authentic and not a mere mechanical piece of repetition? Indeed, if our various actions and practices were authentic and flowing from the true necessity, perhaps we shouldn’t quarrel with each other over them so often as we do.
And then to come to the subject of morals. These also are customs,— divergent to the last degree among different races, at different times, or in different localities; customs for which it is often difficult to find any ground in reason or the “fitness of things.” Thieving is supposed to be discountenanced among us; yet our present-day trade morality sanctions it in a thousand different forms; and the respectable usurer (who can hardly be said to be other than a thief) takes a high place at the table of life. To bunt the earth for game has from time immemorial been considered the natural birthright and privilege of man, until the landlord class (whom wicked Socialists now denounce!) invented the crime of poaching and hanged men for it. As to marriage customs, in different times and among different peoples, they have been simply innumerable. And here the sense of inviolability in each case is most powerful. The severest penalties, the most stringent public opinion, biting deep down into the individual conscience, enforce the various codes of various times and places; yet they all contradict each other. They are but customs. Polygamy in one country, polyandry in the next; brother and sister marriage allowed at one time, marriage with your grandmother forbidden at another; prostitution sacred in the temples of antiquity, trampled under foot in the gutters of our great cities of today; monogamy respectable in one land, a mark of class-inferiority in another; celibacy scorned by some sections of people, accepted as the highest state by others; and so on.
What are we to conclude from all this? Is it possible, once we have fairly faced the immense variety of human life in every department of arts, manners, and morals,— a variety, too, existing in a vast number of cases under conditions to all intents and purposes quite similar,— is it possible ever again to suppose that the particular practices which we are accustomed to are very much better (or, indeed, very much worse) than the particular practices which others are accustomed to? We have been born, as I said at first, into a sheath of custom which enfolds us with our swaddling-clothes. When we begin to grow to manhood (if we ever do), we see what sort of a thing it is which surrounds us. It is an old husk now. It does not bear looking into; it is rotten, it is inconsistent, it is thoroughly indefensible; yet very likely we have to accept it. The caddis-worm has grown to its tube and cannot leave it. A little spark of vitality amid a heap of dead matter, all it can do is to make its dwelling a little more convenient in shape for itself, or (like the coral insect) to prolong its growth in the most favorable direction for those that come after. The class, the caste, the locality, the age in which we were born has determined our form of life, and in that form very likely we must remain. But a change has come over our minds. The vauntings of earlier days we abandon. We, at any rate, are no better than anybody else, and at best, alas! are only half alive.
If these, then, are our conclusions, is it not with justice that children and early races keep so rigidly to the narrow path that custom has made for them? Have they not an instinctive feeling that to forsake custom would be to launch out on a trackless sea where life would cease to have any special purpose or direction, and morality would be utterly gulfed? Custom for them is the line of their growth; it is the coral-branch from the end of which the next insect builds; it is the hardening bark of the tree-twig which determines the direction of the growing shoot. It may be merely arbitrary, this custom, but that they do not know; its appearance of finality and necessity may be quite, illusive; but the illusion is necessary for life, and the arbitrariness is just what makes one life different from another. Till he grows to manhood, the human being, he cannot do without it.
And when he grows to manhood, what then? Why he dies, and so becomes alive. The caddis-fly leaves his tube behind and soars into the upper air; the creature abandons its barnacle existence on the rock and swims at large in the sea. For it is just when we die to custom that, for the first time, we rise into the true life of humanity; it is just when we abandon all prejudice of our own superiority over others, and become convinced of our entire indefensibleness, that the world opens out with comrade faces in all directions; and when we perceive how entirely arbitrary is the setting of our own life, that the whole structure collapses on which our apartness from others rests, and we pass easily and at once into the great ocean of freedom and equality.
This is, as it were, a new departure for man, for which even today the old world, overlaid with myriad customs now brought into obvious and open conflict with each other, is evidently preparing. The period of human infancy is coming to an end. Now comes the time of true manhood and vitality.
And, indeed, it is obvious that for true vitality custom must be laid aside. For custom is an ossification. Some day man will use all actions indifferently, or rather to meet the requirements of the moment. Then he will be alive all over, and not do anything because he is dead. He will not be a slave. All human practices will find their use, none will be forbidden. He will eat grain one day and beef another; he will go with clothes or without clothes; he will inhabit a but or a palace indifferently, according to the work he has to do; he will use the various forms of sex-relationship without prejudice, but with regard for what is really needed. And the inhabitants of one city or country will not be all alike.
Possibly this is a law of history,— that, when man has run through every variety of custom, a time comes for him to be freed from it,— that is, he uses it indifferently according to his requirements, and is no longer a slave to it. At this point, whenever reached, “morals” come to an end and humanity takes its place,— that is to say, there is no longer any code of action, but the one object of all action is the deliverance of the human being and the establishment of equality between oneself and another, the entry into a new life, which new life, when entered into, is glad and perfect, because there is no more any effort or strain in it, but it is the recognition of oneself in others, eternally.
Far as custom has carried man from man, yet when at last in the ever-branching series the complete human being is produced, it knows at once its kinship with all the other forms. “I have passed my spirit in determination and compassion round the whole earth, and found only equals and lovers.” More, it knows its kinship with the animals. It sees that it is only habit, an illusion of difference, that divides; and it perceives after all that it is the same human creature that flies in the air, and swims in the sea, or walks biped upon the land.
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.