“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.
“Man strives after liberty, woman after morality,” said old Goethe. Defining morality as social order, it is evident that the one is as necessary as the other; yet the having of both or not having of either just depends upon the method by which their achievement is sought. Work in the “manly” way, and you attain both; follow the method ascribed to women, and you plant the seeds of crushing tyranny at the same time that you engender rebellious license.
Henry George assures Henry D. Lloyd that the single tax meets all the demands of the “new conscience.” If so, the “old conscience” was much better, for I have known a goodly number of people whose “conscience” could not rest satisfied with the single tax. Certain it is, at any rate, that common sense never did, never can, and never will satisfy itself with the “wildest sophism ever uttered by a sane man,” as Frederic Harrison calls George’s panacea, which, he adds, is being defended with “rant more lifted to a negro campmeeting than to an industrial inquiry.”
An editorial in the Boston “Herald” impresses upon us that, “in seeking a cure for social ills, one fact has to be taken into account,— that the methods of correction from which the only good results are to be hoped for must be those that spontaneously grow out of existing conditions.” To the student of Socialist reform the corollary which the “Herald” draws will be as unexpected as amusing. “That is, the general reorganization of society on a Communistic, Socialistic, or Anarchistic basis is utterly impossible.” Wonder what sort of a combination the “existing conditions” are, if they contain none of the elements of the three specified social systems!
Mayor Hewitt of New York, in accepting the County Democracy’s renomination for the mayoralty, concludes his letter with these words: “I stand in this struggle for law and order first, and then for individual liberty in all respects where it has not been restricted by law. To all unnecessary restrictions of individual liberty I am unalterably opposed.” I like to see a man use the word “all” with this confidence. It indicates a positive character, adherence to principle. But if used too recklessly, it is apt to result in embarrassing contradictions. It is a very dangerous word in a rule that admits exception practically, even though denying it in terms. If a man makes a statement that implies an exception to a general rule, he must be careful not to frame the rule so rigidly as to exclude exception. In this case, for instance, Mayor Hewitt surely does not mean to say that law never restricts liberty unnecessarily. Yet if he does not mean to say this, and if he stands for law first, how can he be unalterably opposed to all unnecessary restrictions of individual liberty? This logical difficulty surrounds and entangles the very roots of Mayor Hewitt’s political philosophy, and it behooves him to clear it up.
To be a Socialist, according to the “Workmen’s Advocate,” one needs to be a believer in solidarity, order, cooperation, and social harmony. This is just what Liberty thinks, and it was precisely on this ground that it defended the claim of the Communist-Anarchists to the title Socialists, against the previous position of the “Workmen’s Advocate” that none but Collectivists of the Marx school have the right to that title. Everybody who works for a harmonious social order, based on equity, equality, and freedom, is a Socialist, though upon the question what will and what will not aid us in realizing our aspirations opinions may differ. Does the “Workmen’s Advocate” know of any one outside military ranks and insane asylums who declares in favor of civil war, disorder, and tyranny? When it pretends that this or that Socialist school tends toward those conditions, it is bound to show that such is the case, instead of merely giving its word for it. When it succeeds in demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that Communistic Anarchism or Anarchism proper (as defined by their respective champions) does what it asserts it does, it will gain the right to excommunicate them from the Socialist fraternity. Meantime no amount of sophistry and juggling can delude anybody into thinking that Collectivists can rationally deny to the other schools the title of Socialists.
The array of Republican candidates for Congress from Massachusetts is, as my friend who characterizes them in another column well says, “a delicious travesty upon political institutions.” But if all or most of these candidates should be defeated at the coining election, some governmentalist may retort that the argument has proved a boomerang, and that the result, instead of satirizing political institutions, has done much to establish their excellence. In anticipation of such retort, let it be said straightway that the strength of this argument is not in the least dependent upon the election of these candidates. Its strength and significance are to be found in the simple fact that one of the two most prominent political parties, not only desiring and hoping for success, but staking its all upon it, has been taught by long experience in elections that the nomination of such candidates is not incompatible with the realization of its desire and hope. It may not achieve the success it hopes for, but, if it fails, it is almost sure to fail by a margin so narrow that the smallest accident might easily have turned defeat into victory. When some Burchard chances to open his mouth on the day before election, the consequent defeat of an otherwise elected candidate, far from serving as a guarantee of popular wisdom, must be taken as an additional indication of popular stupidity and as a concrete demonstration of the idiocy of majority rule.
“Abstinence” and Its “Reward.”
[N. G. Tchernychewsky.]
Moderation, forbearance, or postponement of personal consumption by the capitalist has a specific result, which should properly constitute the only reward of that quality or fact. Suppose a man has five pounds of jelly, and, instead of eating the whole five pounds the first day, eats only half a pound: what should be the reward of his abstinence? In the first place, his stomach remains in good order. In the second place, he will have something delicious tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. It is the same with a man who has three bushels of corn, and who only consumes two pounds daily instead of consuming the whole in one day. What is his reward? In the first place, how could he eat so much corn in a day? He could throw it into the river, but he certainly could not put it into his stomach. But to throw it into the river would be foolish: so he has his reward in the consciousness of not having acted foolishly and not having made himself a laughing-stock in the eyes of good people. In the second place, by consuming only two pounds a day, he is provided with corn for a long time, whereas, had he not “abstained from personal consumption” on the first day, but eaten the whole, he would have gone hungry the next day.
The following extract from a letter from a friend carries out so well its own suggestion that it suffices simply to print it. “Liberty’s scorn” could find no better expression.
My dear Tucker:
Can’t you point the finger of Liberty’s scorn at the collection of political microbes which the caucus system has produced as the Republican party’s nominees for representatives in Congress from Massachusetts?
First district. — Randall, a rather rich bourgeois, of no estimation among his townsmen, and positively no ability.
Second district. — “Rising Sun” Morse — God save the mark! Rich, ignorant, foolish, unprincipled, buying his delegates without shame.
Third district. — Beard, a man of no knowledge or ability, except as a political ringmaster.
Fourth district. — No candidate.
Fifth district. — Banks, unprincipled rather from mental than from moral weakness, pompous, vapid, empty, said upon good authority to be suffering from softening of the brain, and manifestly insane.
Sixth district. — Lodge, able, but known of all men to be absolutely without principle.
Seventh district. — Cogswell — “Bill” Cogswell, simply a swaggering lout.
Eighth district. — Greenhalge, an indolent, brightish, dudish man, fluent, but unknown.
Ninth district. — Candler, no principle again, plausible, not to be depended upon, a trimmer.
Tenth district. — Walker, a strongly individualized man, with no ballast to keep him from going from one extreme to another.
Eleventh district. — Wallace, simply a tariff-fattened manufacturer.
Twelfth district. — Rockwell, admired because he is “a fighter.”
“There stands Massachusetts — Look at her!”
Not a man at once strong, able, and principled among them all.
Taken together, a delicious travesty upon political institutions.
The Democratic party has nominated better men so far, but it remains to be seen whether they are not defeated for that very reason.
A Vital Truth.
Anger and fury, though they add strength to the sinews of the body, yet are found to relax those of the mind, and to render all its efforts feeble and impotent.
I Dream of All Things Free.
I dream of all things free!
Of a gallant, gallant bark
That sweeps through storm and sea
Like an arrow to its mark!
Of a stag that o’er the hills
Goes bounding in his glee;
Of a thousand flashing rills —
Of all things glad and free.
I dream of some proud bird,
A bright-eyed mountain-king!
In my vision I have heard
The rushing of his wing.
I follow some wild river,
On whose breast no sail may be;
Dark woods around it shiver —
I dream of all things free!
Of a happy forest child,
With the fawns and flowers at play;
Of an Indian midst the wild,
With the star to guide his way;
Of a chief his warriors leading,
Of an archer’s greenwood tree,—
My heart in chains is bleeding,
And I dream of all things free.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Mr. Andrews’s Reply to Mr. James.
Continued from No. 135.
I may as well use this word [Society] as any other to illustrate a certain tendency on the part of your Correspondent, to which I have already adverted, to a lamentable confusion of ideas and terms, in the midst of the most exuberant and sometimes elegant diction. He begins one of his paragraphs by using society as if it were synonymous with the State, by which I presume he means the organization and machinery of government. In the middle of the same paragraph he defines Society to be “the Sentiment of Fellowship and Equality in the Human Bosom.” In the end of the same paragraph he asserts that the “advance of society – this sentiment of fellowship or equality – causes man to look away from governments, and from whatsoever external patronage, and find true help at last in himself;” that is, to resort to the sovereignty of the individual. This last is precisely what I believe. For Society, in which of these senses is it that I exhibit a “sovereign contempt?” Whose superficiality is it now?
On the very next sentence, your Correspondent adds, “society is the sole beneficiary of the arts and sciences, and the Individual Man becomes partaker of their benefits only by his identification with it.” In which definition is society used here? Is it the government or the State which is the only direct beneficiary of the arts and sciences? Is that what it means? Or is it the “sentiment of fellowship and equality among men” which is the direct beneficiary of the arts and sciences? Or, finally, is it men individualized by “looking away from governments and finding true help in themselves,” who are the direct beneficiary, etc., and the individual man, only because he is “one of ’em?” Whose superficiality and utter confusion of ideas is it this time? Words have a tendency to obscurity when no definite ideas are attached to them.
Beauties of style, a certain dashing fluency of utterance, brilliancy of fancy, vague intuitions of floating grandeur, or of sublime truth even, simply or conjointly, don’t make a philosopher. Some clearness of intellectual vision, some analysis and knowledge of causes, some exactness in definition, a certain expansiveness and comprehension of one’s whole subject, and even more than all, perhaps, a rigid adherence to the laws of dialectics, by which premises are fearlessly pursued to their natural and inevitable conclusions, lead where they may, are requisite to that end. It is always a misfortune to mistake one’s vocation. It is a misfortune, however, which can be partially retrieved at almost any period of life, and we all acquire Wisdom by painful experiences. There is some department, I feel certain, in which your Correspondent might excel. As he declines to be patronized I shall abstain from impertinent suggestions.
Dodge No. 3 is another cuttle-fish plunge into the regions of “the infinite,” and, of course, of the indefinite, the accustomed retreat of impracticable theorists. Your Correspondent informs us that as “ideas are infinite, they admit of no contrast or oppugnancy.” I think he must have discovered by this time that there is both “contrast” and “oppugnancy” between his ideas and mine, so far at least as his sublimated conceptions still retain any thing of the finite or definite. Into the other region I am willing to follow him when occasion offers, and to examine with the rigorous grasp of modern philosophical criticism, your Corespondent’s fanciful reproduction of Plato’s idealism and of the rose-colored atheism of Spinoza, and to separate for him the legitimate from the illegitimate, the possible from the impossible, in the field of human speculation. At the moment, however, my business lies, and his ought to lie, with the simple questions of practical life relating to marriage and divorce – the matters under discussion.
The doctrine of the sovereignty of the individual is an absurdity, contends your Correspondent, because man is under a three-fold subjection, in the nature of things; first, “to nature, then to society” [in which meaning of the word?], “and finally to God.” Grant all this be so, does the fact that man must ever remain under a necessary or appropriate subjection to society, that is, under a certain limitation of the sphere of his activity by the legitimate extension of the spheres of other individuals – does it follow, I say, that it is an absurdity to inquire and fix scientifically what that limit is. Now, this is precisely what we profess to have done, and we give “the Sovereignty of every Individual to be exercised at his own Cost” as the result of that investigation. What possible application has the vague generalization of your Correspondent, as a counter statement to that principle, how true so ever his proposition may be.
It is as if I were to ask the opinion of a Swedenborgian of the policy of abolishing the laws for the collection of debts, and he should reply, “Sir, my opinion is, that if you act rightly in the matter, your action must be dictated by an equal union of the divine love and the divine wisdom.” I must reply, “Very well, my dear sir, but that is all granted to begin with, and although it may give you a great air of profound wisdom to repeat it, my question is a practical one. I want to know what, in your judgment, would be the operation of love and wisdom as applied to the case in everyday practical life which I have brought to your attention.”
I ask in all sincerity, “What is the scientific limit of man’s appropriate freedom as respects society?” and your correspondent replies, with the solemnity of an owl: Sir, it is frivolous and absurd to ask such a question, because there is an appropriate limit upon man’s freedom, and, therefore, man can never be wholly free.
And yet your Correspondent has the hardihood to talk of a Scientifically Constituted Society, as if such terms corresponded to any definite ideas in his mind. I want to know whether, in a rightly or scientifically constituted human society, I am to be permitted to read the Protestant Scriptures at Florence; whether I am to be permitted to publish a scientific discovery at Rome; whether I can print my own opinions and views upon general politics at Paris; whether I can travel on a Sunday in Connecticut, etc., etc. I want to know what constitutes an infringement upon the rights of other men, and within what limit I am committing no infringement – not according to the arbitrary legislation of some petty principality, but according to natural and eternal right? To all this, the answer comes back, Nonsense, man is necessarily subject to Society to some extent.
Now, Sir, I am fatigued with this sort of infinitude of ideas which have never any “oppugnancy,” because having neither substance nor form, they can produce no shock. I hope your Correspondent will be content to withdraw into that field of pure idealism which is devoid of all “contrasts” and distinctions. It must be laborious to him to inhabit a sphere where definitions and limitations are sometimes necessary to enable us to know what we are talking about. Let him seek his freedom in the broad expanse of the Infinite. I, for the present, will endeavor to vindicate some portion of mine, by ascertaining the exact limits of encroachment between me and my neighbor, religiously refraining from passing those limits myself, and mildly or forcibly restraining him from doing so – as I must.
Stephen Pearl Andrews.
A Parthian Arrow by Mr. Greeley.
A Heart-Broken Maniac. – We have just been put in possession of the particulars of a scene of sorrow seldom witnessed. A young lady, of this city, respectably connected and of fair reputation, nearly two years ago became acquainted with a man now residing in this place. The acquaintance soon ripened into a strong attachment, and, finally love, on her part. Under the promise of marriage, as she says, she was made to yield to his solicitations, and last autumn she gave birth to a child, which lived only two days. He disregarded his promises – avoided and frowned upon her. Here she was deprived of her lover and of her child. She felt that every eye was turned upon her with scorn – that those who saw her at her work, or met her in the street, knew her disgrace. Day by day, and week by week, her heart sank within her, paleness came to her cheeks, and her frame wasted away, till she is now almost a living skeleton Wednesday morning she went to work in the mills, as usual, but soon returned, saying that she was sick. In a few hours she was a raving maniac, her reason gone, perhaps forever. Since then she has had a few rational intervals, in one of which she stated that she met that morning with the one she calls her betrayer, and he frowned upon her and treated her with contempt. She could bear all the disgrace that attaches to her condition, if he would treat her kindly. But the thought that the one she has loved so dearly, and the one who made her such fair promises, should desert her at this time, and heartlessly and cruelly insult her, is too much for her to bear. Her brothers and friends are borne down with sorrow at her condition. What a picture! It needs no comment of ours. public opinion will hunt down the heartless villain who betrayed her.” – Manchester (N. H.) Mirror.
The above relation provokes some reflection on “the sovereignty of the individual,” “the right of every man to do pretty much as he pleases,” etc., which the reader will please follow out for himself.
Editor of the Tribune.
Reply by Mr. Andrews.
The above missile a tergo from my valorous antagonist – after his retreat into the safety of a unilateral contest – is suggestive of many things, and might constitute the text for a whole bookful of commentary. It is the usual whine of blear-eyed and inveterate tyranny, gloating over the fact that some one of his victims has got himself, or herself, into a worse fix by disregarding his behests, and attempting an escape from his infernal grip, than he or she was in before. The slave-hunter, amid the baying of his blood-hounds upon the warm scent of the track of an unhappy fugitive, growls out in the same manner his curses upon the inhumanity of the man who has preached freedom to the captive, charging upon him all the horrors of the sickening scene that is about to ensue. Should the friend who has whispered longings after emancipation into the greedy ear of the victim of slavery, afterward, through cowardice, or selfishness, or from any cause overmastering his devotion, shrink from going all lengths in uniting his fortunes with those of the slave – either by remaining with him in bondage, or taking his full share in the risks of the flight; and, if this desertion should rankle in the breast of the fugitive as the worst torment of his forlorn state, even when sore pressed by the devouring dogs, the case would be parallel in all ways to the one cited by Mr. Greeley.
Our transcendent philosopher and moralist of the Tribune can imply the most withering hatred of the “seducer” and “heartless villain,” whom “public opinion” is invoked to “hunt down” for his crime, and whisper no word of rebuke for – nay, aggravate and hound on – that same public opinion in its still more reckless vengeance upon the unfortunate girl herself, by efforts to intensify “all the disgrace that attaches to her condition,” which, terrible as it is now, she said, poor creature! she had the fortitude “to bear,” but for the other element in her misery. That other element, the betrayal of her lover, in addition to the insane odium of the public, Mr. Greeley charges upon the “seducer.” I charge both the one and the other cause of the poor girl’s torture and insanity, just as boldly, upon Mr. Greeley himself, and the like of him. If the mental phenomena which led to her betrayal by her lover could be investigated, they would be indubitably traced back to the senseless rigors of that same public opinion; so that both causes of the wreck and insanity if the one party, and of the endless remorse and torment of the other, as we must presume, flow from the same common fountain – a vitiated public Sentiment, adverse to, and intolerant of, freedom, or the sovereignty of the individual!
How exceedingly probable that, at the very moment this hapless girl’s lover cast the repulsive glance that pierced her already wounded heart and overthrew her reason, his own heart was half bursting with the tenderest compassion. Placed in the dire alternative of renouncing affection, or else of abjuring his own freedom perpetually, the instinct of self-preservation may have overborne, in his case, as it must and will overbear in many cases, the natural sentiments of manhood and gallantry, and paternal tenderness, all of which, unobstructed by a blundering Legislation and an ignorant public prejudice, would have prompted him to remain by her side, acknowledge her publicly, and succor and sustain her through all the consequences of their mutual love. Remove from a man the arbitrary demand that he shall make more sacrifice than he feels to be just, and you neutralize, or evidently diminish, the temptation, on his part, to make less. Demand pledges of him, on the contrary, under the penalty of the penitentiary, against that over which he knows, by all his past experience, that he has no more control than he has over his opinions or his tastes, namely, that his affections shall remain unchanged for life, that he will never love another woman, or that, if he does, he will crush that love as he would a viper, no matter though his own heart and others bleed to death in the effort – add to this that he shall change his whole methods of life, assume the care and direction of a family establishment, for which he may have no taste, but only repugnance, and take upon himself the liability of being required to support many lives, instead of the burdens already incumbent on him, beyond, it may be, already, his consciousness of power to bear up against the difficulties of surrounding competition and antagonism; and you put before him what may be, acting upon some natures, not the worst, as they are deemed, but the best as God made them – an insuperable obstacle to the performance of those acts of justice which would be otherwise their natural and irrepressible impulse.
With some men and some women, the instinct for freedom is a domination too potent to be resisted. An association with angels under constraint would be to them a hell. The language of their souls is “Give me Liberty, or give me death.” Such natures have noble and generous propensities in other directions. Say to a man of this sort, abjure freedom or abjure love, and, along with it, the dear object whom you have already compromised in the world’s estimation, and who can foresee the issue of that terrible conflict of the passions which must ensue? In the vast majority of such cases, notwithstanding all, generosity and love conquer, and the man knowingly sacrifice himself and all future thought of happiness, in the privation of freedom, the consciousness of which no affection, no amount of the world’s good opinion, no consideration of any kind, can compensate him for, nor reconcile him to. It would be strange, on the other hand, if the balance of motive never fell upon the other side; and then comes the terrible desertion, the crushing weight of public scorn upon the unprotected head of the wretched woman, and the lasting destruction of the happiness of all concerned, in another of the stereotyped forms of evil.
To be continued.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 135.
Camille had not demanded satisfaction of the traitor. One does not fight with Judas; one is content to let him hang himself, provided he have sufficient conscience left.
Conscience and diplomacy are incompatible; remorse did not torment Frinlair, and the spirit of Talleyrand inspired him.
A diplomat is a gentleman who lies in the interest of his country, and who consequently can lie in his own interest also.
Language was given to man — I beg pardon, to the diplomat — to disguise his thought.
Starting from all the axioms of his sixth class, the young attaché wrote this letter to Camille:
“Dear victim,— I do not dare to say dear friend, and know not how to write to you after the crime that I have committed against the cause and friendship. My conduct is certainly inexcusable, but not inexplicable.
“That is why, knowing your broad mind, I dare to appeal to it. You know my position; the son of an ambassador, belonging to the Court, and threatened with arrest in company with the others, I yielded to a mad fear which caused me to lose my head and my heart.
“I saw everything compromised, not only for me, but for my father, my sister, and all ray relatives destitute of fortune, and — I blush to confess it — I sacrificed you to my family.
“You who so dearly loved your mother perhaps will forgive me for having been so weak in a matter that concerned mine; and I hope that you will not refuse me your pity, until I can find an opportunity to regain your esteem and your friendship.”
To this chancellor’s letter Camille simply sent the following answer:
“I pity you and I hope you will see to it that you get your head broken for the people at the next insurrection.”
This reply, in which for the first time and forever he ceased to address Frinlair in the language of intimate friendship, was interpreted by the young diplomat as meaning indulgence and pardon. So he resolved to accept the invitation and go to Gertrude’s rout.
The Baroness Hoffman’s party was a splendid affair. Her husband’s refined bourgeoisie had raised the style of her receptions; and the abbé Ventron, an accustomed attendant of such worldly festivities, did not complain of them.
This evening, risen from his fall, holier than ever, thanks to a sermon against calumny, and free from certain bruises and occasional allusions in the wicked newspapers to the bruised parts, the abbé showed even more discretion and reserve than at the Berville dinner, not speaking to the ladies, not looking at any in particular, his Tartuffe’s handkerchief always in his hand, addressing only the mistress of the house and her daughter, his attention absorbed by the ices and other refreshments incessantly passed around on silver trays.
Gertrude applauded his success, which seemed to her the triumph of God himself over the devil.
The baron was delighted with Camille, who had consented to open the ball with his daughter.
Claire had accepted, making a frightfully wry face at Camille and, behind her fan, sweet eyes at Gaston.
Frinlair was thus avenged for the cold welcome given him by the baron by Claire, who was almost forward in her attentions, and for the still colder salutation of Camille, who had simply bowed, refusing his hand with this bitterly polite excuse:
“Pardon me, Monsieur Count, I cannot; it is impossible for me to use my hand to take yours.”
The first quadrille began.
It was really a true rout in the full force of the word, a rush of all Paris, ladies and women, sharpers and nobles, people with nothing and people with everything, hardened in the old privileges or converted — Gertrude said perverted — to modern equality. Louchard was sounding Ledru-Rollin for political news for his two journals, and Gripon for financial news for everybody; and the young notary, Loiseaux, was talking over the marriage contract with the baron.
Watching the quadrille, the abbé Ventron, more austere than ever, said to Gertrude as he sipped:
“What a frightful thing the ball-room isl What an example! What chance has innocence there? What a denial of the family, what a symbol of our sad morals, adultery and promiscuity! See these quadrilles, these figures, all temptation and abomination. First two forward! very well so far; but first three forward I then the gentleman changes his lady and the lady her gentleman! And balance your ladies. And the waltz! O Lord, the sanctity of marriage!”
Gertrude almost crossed herself in assent and contrition.
When the ball was at its height, the abbé, between two rum sherbets, emboldened because he had especially remarked, in spite of his moral reflections upon dancing, Claire’s coolness toward her cousin and her ardor toward Frinlair, said to himself: “It is time.”
Then, taking advantage of the moment when the baron led Camille away to the card-room, by agreement with Gertrude he made a sign to Claire, who approached the baroness; and he softly spoke a word in her ear.
Claire made a gesture of assent and joy, and quickly started toward her mother’s oratory, a sort of boudoir-sanctuary adjoining the very ball-room which so shocked the modesty of the abbé. She entered; and straightway Frinlair, who did not lose sight of her, upon a similar honest and pious instigation from the priest, went in the same direction and entered also.
Here was a fine tête-à-tête premeditated and arranged by the abbé acting as a go-between, who watched at the entrance of the holy place to see that these loving devotees should not be disturbed.
Then this pious matchmaker entered with the faithful Gertrude, whose director he was; and there, in presence of the baroness whom he had led to his ends by all means, for the salvation of her soul, the glory of God and of the Church,— in short, that her goods might not become the prey of the devil,— he affianced the two lovers without the father’s knowledge and against his will.
Camille meanwhile was playing, and consequently wholly absorbed in his game. The baron, seeing him engaged in a manner which he so much approved, had returned to the ball-room, casting his eyes about in search of his daughter whom he did not see. Suspecting something, he then looked for his wife, whom he did not see either, and finally for the abbé Ventron, who was likewise not to be seen.
He questioned the servants anxiously.
He was, however, far from suspecting the place and cause of their retreat, when he saw his wife and her confessor coming from the direction of the oratory. He went straight up to them and said dryly:
“Where is my daughter?”
“She is praying,” answered the abbé.
“Praying. . . at this hour?”
“Why not?” said Gertrude.
“And with whom?”
“With her affianced.”
“Her affianced?” cried the baron.
“Yes,” said Gertrude, boldly.
“Her affianced is Camille,” said the father.
“No, it is the Count de Frinlair.”
“Never! No, never will I have any other than Camille for my son-in-law. Never shall my daughter marry Frinlair. I am her father. . . I am the master. . . pardon me, you force me to say it and prove it, and I will”. . .
Just then the happy couple, Gaston and Claire, came out of the oratory together, arm in arm, a little rumpled, doubtless from having knelt, but with shining eyes, walking thus attached like two beings henceforth to be but one, sure of being united against all, in spite of father and statute, in the name of heaven, by virtue of the very power and will of God, by an infallible means, by superior force, which would subject the baron, whom they even seemed to defy.
What had passed between them to give them this assurance? God alone had seen and knew. A betrothal at least had been effected, and not that of Camille; God helping, as the baroness had said, God stronger than the baron, as the abbé Ventron had said.
Camille, who had lost at cards, came back to the ball-room with the right to be fortunate in love, and not even looking to see whether Claire was present or not.
The baron reminded him of his duty toward his daughter, saying in a displeased and almost threatening voice:
“But at least think of the dowry; you will need it.”
“Cousin, for the next waltz,” said Camille, smiling.
“Thank you, Monsieur, I am engaged,” and she remained on Frinlair’s arm. Then the baron lost his self-possession, and raised his hand as if to take away his daughter.
The baroness intervened in time to avoid scandal:
“My friend. . . take care!”
And the fright that she had had and the effort that she had made threw her into such a crisis that she had to be carried from the ball-room, followed by Claire, the doctor, the confessor, and her husband.
Camille went back to the gaming-table in search of revenge.
Louise Didier’s sickness grew worse. Unable longer to endure this state of things, Father Jean spruced himself up, as he said,— that is, he put on his best rags and passed his hands through his hair and his thick beard.
He looked at himself in a bit of mirror, and, not difficult to satisfy, hoped that others would see him with his own eyes.
“Upon my word, I have the air of a m’lord,” he said to himself; “I lack only a cravat.”
And without further reflection, full of confidence, he started for the residence of the celebrated Doctor Dubois.
The elegance of the establishment considerably disconcerted him at first; but he quickly recovered his plebeian assurance, and with perfect self-possession inquired of the janitor regarding the doctor.
“This is where Doctor Dubois lives, of the Charity Hospital?”
“You have an errand with him?” asked the Cerberus, eyeing him disdainfully. “That’s not your business.”
The offended janitor, in a voice more supercilious still, pointed to the servants’ staircase, which Father Jean quickly ascended.
“This takes the shine off the Rue Marguerite,” said he, admiring the clean, light stairway.
He rang, and was introduced without opposition into the kitchen, where a world of cooks, scullions, and kitchen-maids were moving about.
“Oh! oh!” he exclaimed, now seriously disturbed.
“What do you want?” asked one of the cooks.
“Is the doctor in?”
“Because I wish to talk with him on serious business.’
“What business? If you want to consult him, those are not the stairs.” “Where, then, if you please? I do not come for myself, to be sure. I should have no money with which to pay him.”
“No matter, come all the same.”
Doctor Dubois, as his servants knew, did not turn away the poor, but received them always.
The rag-picker was ushered into the office of the doctor, who had finished his consultations and was counting his fees.
The room was filled with works of art, and paintings by the great masters, ancient and modern, hid the walls to the satisfaction of the doctor and the diversion of his patients.
But what struck Jean especially was a table covered with a pleiad of gold and silver coin,— a firmament, one would have said. Jean was dazzled, if not dumb.
“Pardon me, Monsieur doctor, for taking up your time gratis, as I see it is worth a great deal to you; perhaps you have earned enough today, since you have closed your shop to those who pay and receive a beggar like me.”
The famous Doctor Dubois, who left his name to a private asylum in Paris, the Baron Dubois, was the great Liberal practitioner of his time, ex-chief physician of the ex-emperor and healer of the ex-nobility,— the opposite, in character and principles, of his no less famous confrère in barony and medicine, the avaricious and hard-hearted savant who left his name to a museum, Doctor Dupuytren, chief surgeon of the king.
The people called Dubois “the good doctor.” He had indeed a democratic temperament, and as a doctor he recognized himself in men.
Consequently the sight of Jean, so frank in look and voice, neither borrowed nor begging, served only to increase the doctor’s usual kindness to those who seemed to him worthy of it.
“True,” said he fairly and squarely, “time is money. What do you want?”
“Nothing for myself, doctor, as you see; I am well enough, thank God I But I have a lady for a neighbor who”. . .
“Interests you, my buck.”
“Oh! with the most honorable intentions,” exclaimed Jean quickly, “the poor brave lady; and pardon me, Monsieur Dubois, if you give my words a mischievous meaning, that will show that you are not as good as you are said to be.”
“To be sure; I was wrong. Come, what is the trouble?”
“Very well, then. You see I have confidence, since I am here. You could easily have deceived me; a doctor must be good! He is not like the lawyer, you know.”
“Ah! and why?”
“Why? Because the best lawyer is he who wins the worst case, while the best doctor is he who cures the worst disease.”
“Truly,” said the doctor, charmed by this good sense, “that is a good definition of the two robes, and is well worth the prescription that I shall give your protégée. Go on.”
“I was telling you that my neighbor, the widow Didier, wife of a poor collector killed in the service of the banker, M. Berville. . . . You must have read about that in the papers?”
“Yes; what then?”
“Why, this poor lady, mother of a young girl as honest and poor as herself, is dying of consumption. Perhaps you have seen her yourself at the hospital consultation.”
“Wait; why, yes, I think so; about forty years old, blonde, from the Rue Sainte-Marguerite, Is that the one?”
“Exactly. Well, she has been told by you or some member of the board of physicians, no matter who, that she is not sick enough to enter the hospital, and they advised her to travel for her health — and her revenues? — and thus to wait until she is too sick to enter the hospital. Your remedy is death.”
“What would you? The regulations, remember, my brave fellow! There is no room!”
“There’ll be room enough in the cemetery; but, Great God I there’s no lack of it at the Luxembourg, at the Elysée, at the Louvre, at the Tuileries. . . to say nothing of the suburbs, Saint-Cloud, Meudon, Versailles. What good hospitals, eh?” The doctor smiled.
“Really, Monsieur doctor, things cannot go on in this way long, good people. She can hold out no longer! She is dying! And if she is not dead already, it is because she frightens death away. I wanted to bring her to you, but, you see, she has no legs left to support her poor body, and not a cent for a carriage!”
“Well! my friend, we will take mine and go to see your neighbor. The hospital is not salvation, but it is better than nothing.”
Just then the servant brought him a letter.
“Oh! oh!” said he, as he read; “this letter is from Mme. Hoffman, the sister of M. Berville of whom you were speaking. Pregnant!” he cried. “Well, that will interest the abbé Ventron!”
“The messenger is waiting for a reply!” said the servant.
“I will go. . . but first your poor neighbor! Come, my old man.”
Just as they were about to go out, the servant came back with a card bearing these words:
And in pencil: “Urgent, apoplexy.”
“Show him in,” said the doctor.
The son of the usurer Gripon, become a “broker,” was introduced; he asked the doctor to visit his father, who had had a stroke.
“Where does he live?” asked the doctor.
“Faubourg Saint-Antoine, No. 30; an old man’s mania for sticking to his old home.”
“Well, I shall pass there, for I am going to the Rue Sainte-Marguerite.”
A visit to so humble a street aroused Gripon’s Judaic disposition.
“How much do you charge for a visit, doctor?” he asked.
“The father of a broker. . . he is valuable; China is right in recognizing only the ascendant nobility; the author of a child like you is worth much. What do you think about it? It will be one hundred dollars.”
“The devil! it is dear,” exclaimed Gripon, in spite of himself.
“You find it so, M. Gripon? How much do you gain by a stroke in the stock market? A hundred dollars. My plan is to make the rich pay for the poor. Those of your profession do enough to make the poor pay for the rich. Compensation.”
“Very well; but at least you will have the kindness to attend my mother at the same time; she is sick also.”
“Ah! you want to kill two birds with one stone. Your mother to boot? Doubtless she is less dear, because, having a son of your age, she will have no more. Well, pardon me, Monsieur Gripon, you are celebrated on the floor of the stock-exchange for this variation from arithmetic: ‘Two and two make five!’ I am content, for my part, with the ordinary rule: ‘Two and two make four.’ Therefore two visits at a hundred dollars each come to. . . two hundred dollars. Take it or leave it!”
He bowed to the usurer, who returned the bow and went to Dupuytren, who asked him, according to the Gripon rule, three hundred dollars; so that Ismael, running hither and thither, seeking paternal salvation at a discount, going from door to door, from the Court physicians to the quacks, lost time enough to inherit from father and mother without having to pay five, or four, or two, but zero to the doctor.
During the economical peregrinations of the younger Gripon in search of inheritance at a cheap rate, the doctor and Jean were rolling away in the direction of the Rue Sainte-Marguerite.
They found Louise Didier in a swoon in her daughter’s arms in consequence of a hemorrhage.
The good doctor made her inhale salts, restored her to consciousness, and soon found that she was suffering from pulmonary consumption of an advanced stage; then, carrying humanity to a point not unfrequently reached in his noble profession since the day of the good Ambroise Paré, he took Mme. Didier in his own carriage to the Charity Hospital, after which he started for the residence of the baroness, the Hotel Hoffman.
Unhappily religion is not always as humane as science. And after the first consultation and prescription, given in the presence of the house-physicians and nurses, Mme. Didier passed from the good doctor’s hands into those of a Sister of Charity.
The Charity Hospital was so named doubtless like the Sister, according to the rule lucus a non lucendo. . . it was an antilogy.
In a room containing more holy water than gruel and more crucifixes than bouillon, a dozen beds infected each other where there was really room only for six. . . and even six would have been too many.
The lung, an organ ever active like the heart, needs to be fed continually. It must consume at least twelve hundred cubic feet of air a day in order to oxygenize the blood and furnish the living body its natural heat.
In this cursed common room there was neither a sufficient quantity nor a sufficient quality of air, even for healthy lungs. And the sick woman, in both these respects, had lost by her change of quarters. The hospital was worse than her garret.
If the air of Paris, as analysis has proved, contains more microbes than the country, and the country more than the ocean, how much more than sea, fields, and city does the hospital contain! There Doctor Oxygen becomes Doctor Poison.Hospital fever is the most pernicious of all. It is well known that amputations are more fatal at the hospital than under the tent in camp.
To this must be added the sleepless nights, disturbed by the coughing of the other patients, the death-rattle of the dying, the sight of the dead, and the goings and comings of the nurses as they empty the beds of their corpses and fill them with new patients.
Such are the material conditions offered by official hygiene to the poor, to Mme. Didier as well as others.
In all public administration, alas! the administered is a mere package transported to the great cost of the State and to the great profit of the administrator only.
The strictly medical conditions were no better.
Mme. Didier, as she grew sicker and sicker, was less and less carefully attended by the nurse in charge of her health. The Sister’s attention was in the nature of an inquisitor’s persecution. The religious zeal of the devotee increased with the disease of the patient. With each fit of coughing there was a pious exhortation I before the julep! Not a look without a dose of orthodox advice!
“You are sicker than you think,” the Sister had charitably remarked on the very first day; “your sickness is incurable without the grace of heaven; and you would do much better to call a confessor who would set your soul at peace, and thus render the body more susceptible to the influence of medicine.”
At this word, confessor, Louise shuddered, remembering the abbé Ventron.
Mme. Didier, with her usual straightforwardness, at once told the Sister to speak to her no more of priests, for she no longer believed in confessors or, consequently, confession.
“Unhappy woman,” cried the pious nurse, more in anger than in pity, “to whom, then, can you look, I do not say for cure, but for consolation?”
“To my conscience!” and she turned her head toward the wall.
From that time she was disliked, and, as she remained firm to the end, the usual severity changed into cruelty.
The inconveniences of consumption became unpardonable crimes in the poor victim. She was wrong in everything. She spat too much, she spat in the wrong place, she stained the bed-clothes, the carpet, the floor.
One would have said that the nurse was more concerned with the tiles than with her lungs, and that she was more the sister of the bed-curtaius than of the patient.
“It is disgusting, you soil everything,” she cried every time the sick woman spat blood. “You awaken everybody with your hollow cough.”
The worst fanaticism is the son of the worst egoism,— personal salvation for eternity; remember that. Charity became ferocity.
The care, prescriptions, and advice of Doctor Dubois, therefore, were null and ineffective, dead letters, forgotten and unexecuted.
Tortured by omission and commission, she was blamed for everything at the same time that she was deprived of everything.
There was no sweetening in the drinks; sugar, so necessary for the supply of heat in lung diseases, was given out in doses, begged, and stolen. For those who would not eat the consecrated wafer there was no milk.
The nurse became a killer by inches with her stinging words, her pin-pricks; in short, it was a long and atrocious assassination of several months’ duration, the victim in such a case as this being fully conscious, seeing that she was being killed and feeling it.
But the moral conditions of the patient were even worse.
This poor, sensitive woman suffered especially in her dignity, her modesty, yes, even more than in all her wants.
Man is at once individual and collective. Though he needs common life, he no less needs private life; and it is especially in suffering that he wants to be alone. The most gregarious beast, a sheep or a hen, once taken sick, separates from the others and goes into a corner to suffer and to die.
It is this need of retirement, of quiet, more necessary still to man, in whom the family instinct is stronger than in the beast,— it is this instinctive repugnance of the people to an unnatural promiscuity which makes them regard it as an insult to be told: “You will die in the hospital!”
All the science and zeal of the best physicians have not been able to overcome this love of home and this hatred of confusion; the hospital, the convent, the barracks, place the same check upon individual sentiment.
Louise Didier had no greater torture to endure than this moral indignity of the cenobitism of the hospital.
Degraded on entering, deprived of name and personality . . . a number, a subject, a case.
Obliged every morning to submit to a public visit, in presence of the other patients, from a band of students, some of them studious, the rest curious, all taking turns in feeling of her, handling her, sounding her, and turning her over in every direction.
Nothing of her own left, not even her skin; treated without respect or decency; made simply a subject of experiment.
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.
Protection, and Its Relation to Rent.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Referring to your favored reply of October 13, I fail to find an answer to the question as to the result of the attempt of two rival protectors to secure to different persons the same territory. I cannot see how, under such conditions, a physical conflict can be avoided, (1) nor is it clear why the best and cheapest protector will be the most patronized if he is not at the same time the strongest. It would be the power rather than the quality of protection that would secure patronage. (2) But if the tyrant by sophistry could convince the masses, as he now does, that his policy is to their benefit and could obtain their support, Anarchy would inevitably lead to despotism. (3) The present State, to my mind, is indeed the natural outgrowth of Anarchy, its absurd character, being due to shortsighted intelligence and sustained by a copious amount of sophistry. (4)
My remarks about equity do certainly not refer to what is now termed equity, but to the genuine article.
The statement that the value of the protection in the possession of land equals its economic rent I consider true, even if there is no direct labor of protection involved.
By rent I mean, of course, that which Ricardo terms rent,— i.e., the difference between the productivity of a particular piece of land and the marginal productivity; the excess of the value of a product over the value of the labor producing it.
The observation regarding the sentimental value of protection is certainly out of place, since in economic discussion none other than exchange value can be considered. (5) Even in a society in which the policeman is superfluous, the value of protection in the possession of land can be shown to be equal to its economic rent. The right of possession to land consists in an agreement of the people to forego the special advantages which the use of land affords to an undisturbed possessor. It represents a giving-up, by the community, of that which they could obtain for themselves,— the cost of the community being certainly that which they have relinquished, and equals in value the special advantage which is the cause of rent. In view of this, it seems to me that affording this protection is to the community an expense equal to the rent. (6) Moreover, assuming that owing to the favorable locality or fertility (eliminating a difference of skill or other merit) the production on that land of one year’s labor (say three hundred days) will exchange for five hundred days’ of other men’s labor who must work without such special advantages, it will be difficult to show that the occupier of that land is equitably entitled to this exchange value. (7) Those who buy his products really produce and actually pay the excess of two hundred days’ labor. Are they not entitled to a distribution of this rent which they, in the course of exchange, have paid to him? If the people of a community are endowed with intelligent egoism, they cannot give that protection to any one who is not willing to pay the rent; and, if the occupier refuses to do so, the right of occupation will simply be given to one who is willing. (8) This is no invasion, but a bargain. (9) What right has he to expect the community to secure him an opportunity to make inequitable exchanges, (10) when others are willing to pay the full value of the advantages offered, whereby equity is established? I can conceive of no other individualistic measure (11) by which the cost principle of value can be realized in those cases in which the cost of producing equal quantities is different on account of a variation of local opportunities than to add rent to the cost where the immediate cost is naturally less than the value of the product. All men are then upon an equitable plane regarding the gifts of nature; and none can, as none should in this respect, have an advantage that is not similarly enjoyed by all. (12)
(1) A physical conflict may or may not occur. The probability of it is inversely proportional to the amount of education in economics and social science acquired by the people prior to the inauguration of the conditions supposed. If government should be abruptly and entirely abolished to-morrow, there would probably ensue a series of physical conflicts about land and many other things, ending in reaction and a revival of the old tyranny. But if the abolition of government shall take place gradually, beginning with the downfall of the money and land monopolies and extending thence into one field after another, it will be accompanied by such a constant acquisition and steady spreading of social truth that, when the time shall come to apply the voluntary principle in the supply of police protection, the people will rally as promptly and universally to the support of the protector who acts most nearly in accordance with the principles of social science as they now rally to the side of the assaulted man against his would-be murderer. In that case no serious conflict can arise.
(2) Egoist neglects to consider my statement in reply to him in the last issue of Liberty, to the effect that the source of the protector’s power lies precisely in the patronage. The protector who is most patronized will, therefore, be the strongest; and the people will endow with their power the protector who is best fitted to use it in the administration of justice.
(3) That is to say, if the masses, or any large section of them, after having come to an understanding and acceptance of Anarchism, should then be induced by the sophistry of tyrants to reject it again, despotism would result. This is perfectly true. No Anarchist ever dreamed of denying it. Indeed, the Anarchist’s only hope lies in his confidence that people who have once intelligently accepted his principle will stay put.
(4) The present State cannot be an outgrowth of Anarchy, because Anarchy, in the philosophical sense of the word, has never existed. For Anarchy, after all, means something more than the possession of liberty. Just as Ruskin defines wealth as the possession of the valuable by the valiant, so Anarchy may be defined as the possession of liberty by libertarians,— that is, by those who know what liberty means. The barbaric liberty out of which the present State developed was not Anarchy in this sense at all, for those who possessed it had not the slightest conception of its blessings or of the line that divides it from tyranny.
(5) Nothing can have value in the absence of demand for it. Therefore the basis of the demand cannot be irrelevant in considering value. Now, it is manifest that the demand for protection in the possession of land does not rest solely upon excess of fertility or commercial advantage of situation. On the contrary, it rests, in an ever-rising degree and among an ever-increasing proportion of the people, upon the love of security and peace, the love of home, the love of beautiful scenery, and many other wholly sentimental motives. Inasmuch, then, as the strength of some of the motives for the demand of protection bears often no relation to economic rent, the value of such protection is not necessarily equal to economic rent. Which is the contrary of Egoist’s proposition.
(6) All this legitimately follows, once having admitted Egoist’s definition of the right of possession of land. But that definition rests on an assumption which Anarchists deny,— namely, that there is an entity known as the community which is the rightful owner of all land. Here we touch the central point of the discussion. Here I take issue with Egoist, and maintain that the community is a nonentity, that it has no existence, and that what is called the community is simply a combination of individuals having no prerogatives beyond those of the individuals themselves. This combination of individuals has no better title to the land than any single individual outside of it; and the argument which Egoist uses in behalf of the community this outside individual, if he but had the strength to back it up, might cite with equal propriety in his own behalf. He might say: The right of possession of land consists in an agreement on my part to forego the special advantages which the use of such land affords to an undisturbed possessor. It represents a giving-up, by me, of that which I could obtain for myself,— the cost to me being certainly that which I have relinquished, and equals in value the special advantage which is the cause of rent. In view of this, it seems to me that affording this protection is to me an expense equal to the rent. And thereupon he might proceed to collect this rent from the community as compensation for the protection which he afforded it in allowing it to occupy the land. But in his case the supposed condition is lacking; he has not the strength necessary to enforce such an argument as this. The community, or combination of individuals, has this strength. Its only superiority to the single individual, then, in relation to the land, consists in the right of the strongest,— a perfectly valid right, I admit, but one which, if exercised, leads to serious results. If the community proposes to exercise its right of the strongest, why stop with the collection of economic rent? Why not make the individual its slave outright? Why not strip him of everything but the bare necessities of life? Why recognize him at all, in any way, except as a tool to be used in the interest of the community? In a word, why not do precisely what capitalism is doing now, or else what State Socialism proposes to do when it gets control of affairs? But if the community does not propose to go to this extreme; if it proposes to recognize the individual and treat with him,— then it must forego entirely its right of the strongest, and be ready to contract on a basis of equality of rights, by which the individual’s title to the land he uses and to what he gets out of it shall be held valid as against the world. Then, if the individual consents to pool his rent with others, well and good; but, if not—why, then, he must be left alone. And it will not do for the community to turn upon him and demand the economic rent of his land as compensation for the protection which it affords him in thus letting him alone. As well might the burglar say to the householder: Here, I can, if I choose, enter your house one of these fine nights and carry off your valuables; I therefore demand that you immediately hand them over to me as compensation for the sacrifice which I make and the protection which I afford you in not doing so.
(7) Precisely as difficult as it would be to show that the man of superior skill (native, not acquired) who produces in the ratio of five hundred to another’s three hundred is equitably entitled to this surplus exchange value. There is no more reason why we should pool the results of our lands than the results of our hands. And to compel such pooling is as meddlesome and tyrannical in one case as in the other. That school of Socialistic economists which carries Henry George’s idea to its conclusions, confiscating not only rent but interest and profit and equalizing wages,— a school of which G. Bernard Shaw may be taken as a typical representative,— is more logical than the school to which Mr. George and Egoist belong, because it completes the application of the tyrannical principle.
(8) Here again we have the assumption of the community’s superior title to the land.
(9) Yes, the bargain of the highwayman to deliver another’s goods.
(10) The cultivator of land who does not ask protection does not expect the community to secure him the opportunity referred to. He simply expects the community not to deprive him of this opportunity. He does not say to the community: Here! an invader is trying to oust me from my land; come and help me drive him off. He says to the community: My right to this land is as good as yours. In fact it is better, for I am already occupying and cultivating it. I demand of you simply that you shall not disturb me. If you impose certain burdens upon me by threatening me with dispossession, I, being weaker than you, must of course submit temporarily. But in the mean time I shall teach the principle of liberty to the individuals of which you are composed, and by and by, when they see that you are oppressing me, they will espouse my cause, and your tyrannical yoke will speedily be lifted from my neck.
(11) No other! Is Egoist’s measure individualistic, then? I have already pointed out its communistic and authoritarian character.
(12) If the cost principle of value cannot be realized otherwise than by compulsion, then it had better not be realized. For my part, I do not believe that it is possible or highly important to realize it absolutely and completely. But it is both possible and highly important to effect its approximate realization. So much can be effected without compulsion,— in fact, can only be effected by at least partial abolition of compulsion,— and so much will be sufficient. By far the larger part of the violations of the cost principle—probably nine-tenths—result from artificial, law-made inequalities; only a small portion arise from natural inequalities. Abolish the artificial monopolies of money and land, and interest, profit, and the rent of buildings will almost entirely disappear; ground rents will no longer flow into a few hands; and practically the only inequality remaining will be the slight disparity of products due to superiority of soil and skill. Even this disparity will soon develop a tendency to decrease. Under the new economic conditions and enlarged opportunities resulting from freedom of credit and land classes will tend to disappear; great capacities will not be developed in a few at the expense of stunting those of the many; talents will approximate towards equality, though their variety will be greater than ever; freedom of locomotion will be vastly increased; the toilers will no longer be anchored in such large numbers in the present commercial centres, and thus made subservient to the city landlords; territories and resources never before utilized will become easy of access and development; and under all these influences the disparity above mentioned will decrease to a minimum. Probably it will never disappear entirely; on the other hand, it can never become intolerable. It must always remain a comparatively trivial consideration, certainly never to be weighed for a moment in the same scale with liberty.
Theory and Practice.
It is the same old story, but it remains ever new. A friend writes me:
I read Liberty regularly, but must confess that I am further than ever from being a candidate for conversion. I do not believe that whatever is true in theory is applicable in practice. In mathematics the most finely executed calculations are correct enough in themselves; try to apply them in practice, and much of the fineness is lost.
Well, and what of it? What conclusion does the logic, not only of our friend, but of the vast multitude of his co-believers, seem to deduce from the fact corresponding to the above illustration? Are we to turn our backs upon mathematics and proceed to make our measurements, build our bridges, and construct our machines in opposition to her laws? Shall we, since it is in practice impossible to draw two absolutely parallel lines, begin with crossing all our lines from the start? Shall we scorn all fine adjustments and polished surfaces because the perpetuum mobile is not to be attained anyway? Not at all, for experience has ever brought out the fact that in applied mathematics the greatest scientific exactness always achieves the greatest results, and that without level and square the simplest shed cannot be erected.
But men, ah! men are no computable material. It is simply impossible to establish any theory with the expectation that stupid and stubborn, corrupt and whimsical humanity will verify it, even approximately. That is the objection which our unconvertible reader of Liberty and his ilk are constantly throwing up to us. They never weary in confronting us with that winged word, which, with its incessant flapping, would chill the fire of every ideal aspiration: “What is true in theory is not always applicable in practice.” But I am not to be frightened by this bat — bird thou never wert — which, with every step that I venture out of my hermitage, flaps its wings against my head. I will rather examine these very wings to see how far they may be trusted to carry their burden.
So you concede at last, my unconvertible friend, that the theory must be correct; otherwise, it would not be worth considering at all. But what is it that constitutes the truth or correctness of a theory? Surely the — that the fact upon which it rests can be scientifically demonstrated.
Now, if the principle that normal man, in the complete possession of his senses, can fully develop and be happy only in a state of liberty — that is the whole theory that underlies the teachings of Anarchy — is correct, then it is also true that nothing but the actual enjoyment of liberty is able to lead man on to perfect intellectual, moral, and social health; just as it is true that nothing but obedience to the laws of our physical nature can secure us physical well-being. We have not yet discovered all the laws of hygiene, and those that we do know we may not, under existing conditions, be able to obey faithfully; but the fact nevertheless remains that we can enjoy neither perfect health nor perfect strength so long as we remain ignorant and incapable in this respect. Therefore physicians and men of science are most assiduous in their search after these laws, and it never occurs to them to desist from their efforts because these laws, when discovered, cannot, in all probability, be followed with absolute exactness. And to the laity it never occurs to scoff at these efforts as useless or even as ridiculous and insane.
But as soon as an investigation of the laws of our intellectual, moral, and social health is suggested, this same laity at once becomes terrified and timid. It feels that there is danger of its being jolted out of its time-worn, easy-going rut; that it must question everything which it had hitherto held in good faith; that it must measure everything, the individual conscience, the family and business relations, State and society, with a new rule; that whoever accepts the new doctrine at once stands opposed to a whole world of indolent slaves of custom and habit as their enemy.
Whatever I may think of his intellectual powers, I have nothing to say against the honest, conscientious conservative, who, after due reflection on the subject, has arrived at the conviction that our principle is a false one; but against him who seeks to avoid the mountain of difficulties and of laborious intellectual work which this question piles up before him by the convenient subterfuge: “In theory this is quite correct, but in practice it is inapplicable,” — is this dishonesty or stupidity?
It must be either the one or the other. No truly intelligent person can escape the conclusion that a theory which is demonstrably correct, not a mere chimera or fantastic dream, must be taken into serious practical consideration, and that in the same degree as it is neglected and violated there will result loss, hardship, suffering, and disaster. A correct principle can be said to be a law of nature, and as inexorable as a law of nature. It demands obedience as nature does for her law’s, and punishes every transgression as nature is won’t to do. Plant an acorn in a vase, the vase will break and the plant will die; plant it in a large tub, and the pigmy tree is a miserable specimen compared with the giant in the meadow which for several generations has defied wind and storm. Imprison the young girl in a nunnery, and a stunted being will be the result, who will never blossom into complete womanhood. Human beings as they are, ignoble, unreliable, deformed in body and soul, “not worthy of a sacrifice,” either developed through the struggle for existence into despoilers and tyrants, or deformed into cripples of despoliation and slavery,— these are a telling example of disobedience to a correct principle.
We may be intellectually incapable of understanding this, we may be unacquainted with the great miseries of the world or ascribe them to other causes, but then why indulge in silly talk about the correctness of a theory which the mind has not even acknowledged as correct? Is this not both stupid and dishonest at once?
But whoever pretends to thoroughly understand the question under consideration, and as a result of his knowledge postulates the correctness, but at the same time the impracticability of a theory, either does not after all understand what he is talking about, and his illogical mind does not command any respect, or he does understand, but fears the consequences, the possible personal dangers and inconveniences, that may result from an open avowal. He is dishonest, cowardly, and despicable.
An unknown friend, writing from San Francisco, raises two objections to the ideas about love and lovers’ relations which I have expressed in Liberty. Both are well worth discussing.
Her first point is made in the following sentence: “If I had a lover who had an affection for another woman that I did not like, I would want nothing more than to see them try to live together. Nine times out of ten the disenchantment that I desired would [speedily?] follow.” This is evidently intended as an argument against “living together” generally, and is based on the proverbial truth that “familiarity breeds contempt.” But I must ask my fair correspondent to reflect a little more upon the subject and revise her opinion in the light of the considerations briefly submitted below.
Granting for the Bake of the argument (for I am far from really admitting it) that distance not only lends enchantment, but that the latter is absolutely impossible in the absence of the former, why should lovers think of and fear disenchantment while they are yet in the blissful state of being all in all to each other? It is not disputed that during the reign of enchantment the desire to be near and inseparable is exceedingly strong, and that only external and insurmountable obstacles can now make ardent lovers undergo the misery of separation. Why, then, should they, even with a most vivid realization of the inevitable future change of feeling, prefer voluntary self-infliction of immediate suffering to distant sorrow? They gain nothing by such action. Besides, if they know that the days of their love are numbered, they know that there are other and newer joys in store for them. “When half-gods go, the gods arrive.” While there is life, there is hope, and what love lacks in durability it must make up in intensity and variety. “It is not good for man to be alone it is not natural for one to live without love in a rational and free state of society. Love would not be a drug in the market, and it would not be necessary to take it in small doses for fear of having to go altogether without.
Still another fact to be remembered: Lovers cannot and do not think of the time when the flower of their affection shall fade and grow dim and die. The happiness of the present absorbs them, and leaves them without thought or care for the future as it wipes out the past. And, where there is some occasion for fear and anxiety, the effects are precisely the opposite of that in my friend’s imagination. Such apprehension only draws them more closely together and narrows the circle of their interests. Lovers sincerely assure each other Lhat they feel it would be utility impossible to cease to love; they could not conceive of any change. Of course, they are helpless when the change comes, and it is out of their power to control the ebb and flow of their affections. But, while love continually changes, it fancies itself, at every given moment, infinite and eternal. (Has my correspondent read Emerson’s essay on “Love”? If not, let me urge her to read it without delay.)
My correspondent further thinks that “Tchemychewsky [whom I have quoted] is wrong when he says that kissing a woman’s hand is degrading to her.” She thinks “it can be as loving and respectful as kissing on the lips,” and it would never enter her mind “that kissing the hands or eyes or lips or hair of her lover” showed that she thought him inferior to her. All this is perfectly correct, and neither I nor Tchernychewsky ever meant to antagonize this view. Had Lopoukhoff held Véra’s hand in his caressingly while they were conversing and kissed it spontaneously, it is certain that she would have left her little lecture undelivered and thought Lopoukhoff a dear fond creature. But — men are so stupid! — instead of this, he praised some ordinary remark of hers, and formally requested to be permitted to kiss her hand in acknowledgment of her superior intelligence. Véra properly felt a little insulted, and by a natural association of ideas was led to think upon the general treatment of women by men, who, my correspondent must be aware, are in the habit of acting the part of worshippers and willing lackeys before women whom they neither love nor respect, especially in so-called polite society. When, on another occasion, Dmitry tells Vérotchka: “You have walked in bare feet over the floor; let me kiss your feet to warm them,” Vérotchka invites his caresses, and does not think of the despotic rulers of barbarous countries who compel their subject to kiss their feet, for between that form of degrading homage and Lopoukhoff’s agitated and passionate tenderness there is nothing in common. It does us good to know, moreover, that Lopoukhoff did not strictly obey Véra Pavlovna’s commands and frequently kissed her hands without stopping to apply for special license.
How Statesmen Can Benefit Humanity.
It should be the task of the statesman to make himself less and less necessary, to educate the public sense of justice so that the greatest possible number of free individuals can live in harmony with one another; and each, alone or in conjunction with some fellow workman, can occupy himself with the eternal problems.
War and Government.
[Guy de Maupassant in “Sur l’Eau.”]
If I only dream of this word, war, a fright comes over me as if some one had spoken to me of witchcraft, of the Inquisition, of a thing remote, finished, abominable, monstrous, against nature.
When cannibals are mentioned, we smile with pride as we proclaim our superiority over those savages. Who are the savages, the real savages? Those who fight to eat the conquered, or those who fight to kill, and only to kill?
The little soldiers running about yonder are destined for death as the flocks of sheep are that a butcher drives along the roads. They will fall on some field, the head split open by a sword or the breast pierced by a ball; and yet they are young men who might labor, produce, be useful. Their fathers are old and poor; their mothers, who for twenty years have loved them, adored them as only mothers adore, will learn in six months or a year perhaps that the son, the child, the big boy brought up with so much love, has been thrown into a hole like a dead dog, after having been disemboweled by a bullet and trampled upon, crushed, reduced to pulp by cavalry charges. Why have they killed her boy, her handsome boy, her only hope, her pride, her life? She does not know. Yes, why?
War! . . . to fight! . . . to strangle! . . . to massacre men! . . . And we have today, at our epoch, with our civilization, with the extent of science and the degree of philosophy which the human race is supposed to have reached, schools where they learn to kill, to kill at a great distance, with perfection, many people at the same time, to kill poor devils of innocent men, with families to support and with no record of crime.
And the most astonishing thing is that the people do not rise against the governments! What difference is there, pray, between monarchies and republics? The most astonishing thing is that entire society does not revolt against the very word, war!
Ah! we shall always live under the weight of the old and odious customs, the criminal prejudices, the ferocious ideas of our barbarian ancestors, for we are beasts, we shall remain beasts, governed by instinct and never changing.
If any other than Victor Hugo had uttered that great cry of deliverance and truth, would they not have scoffed at him?
Today force is called violence and is beginning to be judged; war stands accused at the bar. Civilization, upon the complaint of the human race, frames the indictment and draws up the great criminal record of the conquerors and captains. The peoples are beginning to understand that the growth of a crime cannot be its diminution; that, if it is a crime to kill, to kill a great deal cannot be an extenuating circumstance; that, if it is a shame to steal, to invade cannot be a glory.
Ah! let us proclaim these absolute truths, let us dishonor war!
Vain wrath, a poet’s indignation! War is more worshipped than ever.
A skilful artist in this line, a man with a genius for massacre, M. de Moltke, once answered a peace delegation with these strange words:
War is holy, a divine institution; it is one of the sacred laws of the world; it keeps alive in men all great and noble feelings,— honor, disinterestedness, virtue, courage,— and prevents them, in a word, from falling into the most hideous materialism.
So, to gather in troops of four hundred thousand men, to march day and night without rest, to think of nothing and study nothing and learn nothing and read nothing, to be useful to nobody, to rot in filth, to lie in mud, to live like brutes in a continual stupor, to pillage cities, to bum villages, to ruin populations, and then to meet another agglomeration of human meat, to rush upon each other, to make lakes of blood, plains of flesh trampled into and mixed with the muddy and bloody earth, heaps of corpses, to have arms or legs taken off, brains scattered about for nobody’s benefit, and to die in the corner of a field, while your aged parents, your wife, and your children are perishing with hunger,— that is what is called not falling into the most hideous materialism!
Soldiers are the scourges of the world. We struggle against nature, ignorance, against obstacles of every sort, to render our miserable life less hard. Men, benefactors, savants spend their lives in toiling, in searching for something that may aid, something that may help, something that may relieve their brothers. With furious enthusiasm they go about their useful work, heaping up discoveries, broadening the human mind, enlarging the scope of science, giving daily to intelligence an amount of new knowledge, giving daily to their country comfort, ease, strength.
War comes. In six months generals have destroyed twenty years of effort, patience, and genius.
That is what is called not falling into the most hideous materialism.
We have seen war. We have seen men become brutes, crazed, killing for the pleasure of it, through terror, through bravado, through ostentation. When right no longer existed, when law was dead, when every idea of justice had disappeared, we have witnessed the shooting of innocents found upon a highway and suspected because they showed fear. We have witnessed the killing of dogs chained to their masters doors simply to try new revolvers; we have witnessed the fire of the mitrailleuse rained for mere pleasure’s sake upon cows lying in a field, without any reason, simply in order to fire shots and make opportunity for laughter.
That is what is called not falling into the most hideous materialism.
To enter a country, to kill the man who defends his house because he is dressed in a blouse and has no kepi on his head; to burn the dwellings of wretches who have no bread left, to break their furniture, to steal from others, to drink the wine found in the cellars, to rape women found in the streets, to burn millions of dollars in the shape of powder, and to leave misery and cholera behind you.
That is what is called not falling into the most hideous materialism.
. . . Did Napoleon I. continue the great intellectual movement begun by the philosophers at the end of the last century?
Truly, since governments thus assume the right of death over peoples, it is not astonishing that peoples sometimes assume the right of death over governments.
They defend themselves. They have a right. No one has an absolute right to govern others.
The Naked in Court.
[Paul Heusy in Le Radical.]
An engraving charged with immorality is on trial.
The three magistrates constituting the tribunal are solemnly seated on the bench. Of these three magistrates one is light, another dark, the third gray. In the morning, before coming to the court-house, in the evening, in the society in which they move, they differ no less in their attitudes and expressions than in the color of their hair. But at this moment they seem like three copies of one model. On donning their robes a moment ago, their faces assumed the same air,— the austere air of great occasions.
The guilty engraving is spread before their eyes. Nevertheless they scarcely examine it; they only give it an occasional oblique glance. They are waiting. They will study it at leisure later.
The assistant district attorney speaks. The regulation requires them to appear to listen.
The assistant district attorney is bald from his brow to his neck, and he expresses himself as follows:
“My God, gentlemen, I do not hesitate to admit that the engraver whom I ask you to condemn possesses very fine talent, deserves to be considered a perfect gentleman, and should on no account be confounded with those who design for places of ill repute. But we have duties to public decency to fulfil. The engraving which we charge with criminality represents a woman at whose feet lies a cabbage. Now, not only is the woman naked, but the cabbage also is naked.”
The assistant district attorney pauses awhile, and then goes on:
“Surely there is no intention here of preventing the manifestations of art. The government, the magistracy, and the district attorney’s office bow before art. No more would we proscribe the naked. But let us understand each other. It is important to distinguish between the various kinds of nakedness.”
Another pause of the bald personage, who then, in a more solemn voice, proceeds:
“There is the ancient naked and the modern naked. We do not prosecute the ancient naked, which is entitled to all our respects. When confronted with the modern naked, on the contrary, we must keep our eyes open. For instance, never, in the ancient naked, would you find a cabbage. The cabbage, gentlemen,— do not forget it,— is the emblem held up to us in our infancy as the personification of maternity. It is extremely shocking. Your minds, so sagacious, so penetrating, so profound, have already perceived it. It is useless to dwell upon it. Moreover, in case you should still remain in any doubt, remember the learned definition of obscenity which you have given: ‘Obscenity exists where art does not step in to elevate the ideal,’ and when you have retired to your deliberating-room, ask yourselves whether art steps in by the side of this cabbage to elevate the ideal.”
The poor engraver, pale as death, rises, and can only stammer:
“My cabbage is naked, I confess; but in that respect it does not differ from other cabbages, its fellows. I did not know that a cabbage, to obtain the freedom of the city, had to be imprinted with the ideal; and if I must make a complete confession, I do not know where to find the ideal cabbage. I have confined myself to looking at ordinary cabbages, and it is from these that I have designed mine as well as my pencil would allow. I venture to affirm that I have seen nothing obscene in them. I did not know, it is true, this definition of obscenity, but now that I know it. . . excuse me, I do not understand it.”
The court declares the case closed and retires.
In the council-chamber the blonde judge and the gray judge rush upon the engraving and turn and return it in every direction.
At last the young blonde exclaims in despair:
“This cabbage resembles all cabbages; I see no indecency in it.”
Then the gray judge takes off his glasses, wipes them carefully them on his nose, takes up the design, looks at it closely and from a distance, in the light and in the shade, and says in a good-natured tone:
“I agree with my colleague.”
“But,” says the dark judge, who has thus far been silent, “does not the curve of the leaves recall certain memories?” His companions a second time feel and smell of the paper. “No,” says the blonde judge, squarely.
“Oh! my dear president,” says the gray judge, “I am astonished at your imagination.”
The dark judge tenderly lowers his eyes and resumes:
“What shall the sentence be, gentlemen?”
“We do not sentence,” answer the two other magistrates, in chorus.
“And what do you do with the obscenity which ‘exists where art’. . . ?”
A double burst of laughter stops the phrase on the dark judge’s lips.
“Very well, we will acquit,” he says, with a vexed air. And five minutes later he declaims from the bench:
“Whereas, the cabbage of the accused, in spite of its wanton attitudes, does not, à priori and in a general way, inspire indecent ideas, the court orders its discharge.”
J. A. Labadie wishes to know to a “dead certainty the proper end of human life and the right way of attaining it,” and invites such readers of Liberty as have some knowledge of the subject “to tell” of it, and also to give him “some unalterable rule by which to judge if a thing be right or not.” Mr. Labadie should have followed the long series of papers on the “object of life” in the “Forum” last year; he would have concluded with Grant Allen that “no such object or end exists,” and that human life is what the progress of intelligence and growth of social sympathies permit it to be. Our object in life is happiness, and so far the human mind has been unable to develop any unalterable rule for conduct in cases where there is room for doubt as to the beneficence or misery of the consequences. The best and most satisfactory ideas on the question of such rules have been promulgated by Herbert Spencer, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Auberon Herbert. Those who are acquainted with “Social Statics,” “The Sphere and Duties of Government,” and “The Right and Wrong of Compulsion” know the “last word” which social science has up to date succeeded in advancing. Those who are not enjoying the privilege of such intimacy with the fruits of modern philosophy should lay aside all other matters and attentively study the named works. Then, if not perfectly clear and free from misgivings, they will at least know all that is at present “knowable,” and no longer be “all mixed up.” They will have mastered the ABC of Anarchism. If Mr. Labadie has views and opinions on the subject other than those of the above-named authors, he should hasten to give them wide publicity.
Mr. Morse “cannot bring himself to feel comfortable quite inside of any movement that gets particularized and labeled.” Truly, not without reason has this little planet of ours been termed the “vale of tears and grief”: no sooner is a thing born into it than it gets stamped and “particularized and labeled,” making discomfort general and everlasting. It is not clear why affairs should assume a more cheerful aspect if the receiver, rather than the dispenser, of ideas “particularized and labeled them.” The ordinary impression is that the mischief would be greater. It was the enemies of the Russian revolutionists who invented the term “Nihilist” for their benefit; and the American Greenbackers are likewise indebted for their party name to the “receivers” of their doctrine. Besides, even if the first dispenser should refrain from christening his mental offspring, the receiver, in doing it for him, would continue the use of the names on becoming a dispenser in his turn. So it is only a question of a short interval at best,— between the original dispenser and his first convert. Perhaps, however, Mr. Morse may be pardoned for his scruples in relation to such a word as “Anarchy.” But, surely, the word “Liberty” is altogether attractive and inspiring and glorious! Not at all. Ask Laurence Gronlund. He abhors it, and directs a page of anathemas against it. “Freedom” is his delight and joy. But, alas! the translator of Humboldt’s work on the “Sphere of Government,” so bitterly unpalatable to Mr. Gronlund, mostly, if not wholly, uses this same word freedom as the equivalent of the German Freiheit. And Spencer also employs “freedom” with decidedly too much freedom. Gronlund should look for a new term, and may Mr. Morse profit by the lesson!
Silence is Golden.
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact,— from calling on us to look through a heap of millet-seed in order to be sure that there is no pearl in it.
What It is to Really Know Truth.
[John Stuart Mill.]
To see a truth occasionally is one thing; to recognize it propositions inconsistent with it, is another.
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.