“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.
In this issue appears the second of the “Letters from Italy.” It is even more interesting than the first.
Henry George is a Jonah. He supported Cleveland with all his might, and Cleveland was defeated. To Hill, a candidate on the same ticket, he conducted a vigorous opposition, and Hill was triumphantly elected.
Rarely, if ever, has a choicer epigram appeared in Liberty than that given us by Mr. Lloyd in his article on “Love and Home.” “Consistency is a jewel, which, if valuable enough, will cost a man his life.” Better that who can.
The present instalment of “Love, Marriage, and Divorce” concludes the original controversy between Greeley, James, and Andrews. But it will be immediately followed by the supplementary controversy between James and Andrews in “Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly,” which took place twenty years later.
Every one of the “political microbes,” as a recent correspondent of Liberty so happily characterized the congressional nominees of the Republican party in Massachusetts, was elected, except A. W. Beard, and he was beaten by a political dude who has but little to recommend him beyond the fact that his father was John A. Andrew.
“It is something from which any thoughtful and chivalrous man might shrink,” says J. Wm. Lloyd, “to ask the woman he loves to enter a life of free love and separatism, and thus cut herself off from all social love, honor, and friendship.” But would he not shrink even more from inviting her to enter a life of marital slavery, or one which might at any moment turn into that? Why a woman who despises the present society should covet its love, honor, and friendship passes my comprehension; still more, then, why she should value these above her liberty.
At this date of a year from the Chicago executions it is encouraging to note that some of the instigators and agents in that foul tragedy are beginning to reap their just punishment. A prominent newspaper correspondent who recently visited Chicago told me a few days ago that one of the meanest and most relentless of Attorney Grinnell’s legal assistants during the trial is now almost an outcast. He is virtually boycotted by the entire society in which he formerly moved, not from any aversion for him or sympathy for his victims, but simply because of fear. His former friends consider his life in such danger that they are afraid to have him in their houses or be seen with him in the streets or at public places. His life has become a burden to him. And as for Judge Gary, he is said to be a total wreck. He is so shattered that at times he has been obliged to drop his judicial duties and flee from Chicago, nobody knows where,— anywhere to be out of danger and fear. The repeated threats that his children would be stolen have told heavily upon him. “Oh!” some one will say, “what fiends these Socialists are to attack a man through his children!” Indeed! And is it any worse to attack Judge Gary by stealing his children than to attack, as he did, A. R. Parsons’s children by killing their father?
As I look at it, J. Wm. Lloyd, in attempting on another page to reconcile his opposition to communistic homes with a belief in communism, has made a failure. I agree with him entirely in holding egoism to be the foundation of love and altruism, and I share his hostility to the communistic home which Victor has championed in these columns; but if he accepts Victor’s belief in communism,— as he evidently does, for what he says on this point Victor has said before him,— I fear he will have to accept the communistic home as a legitimate conclusion therefrom. Victor did not advocate a communistic home that should be necessarily perpetual. On the contrary, he stipulated that it should be dissoluble at will. His communistic home completely satisfies the principle laid down in italics by Mr. Lloyd that “communism is all right in any company so long as all the members are so full of sympathy for each other as to be practically one individual.” The error lies in the acceptance of this principle. Communism is not all right — that is, is not, on the whole, beneficial — so long as there is sympathy, because it is the condition better calculated than almost any other to destroy sympathy. It is obvious that liberty to dissolve the communistic home after it has destroyed the sympathy that originally called it into existence does not prevent (though it may postpone) the destruction of the sympathy. The advocates of the individualistic home desire to perpetuate this sympathy, and for that reason are opposed to anything; that endangers it. If Mr. Lloyd wishes to escape Victor’s conclusions, he cannot accept his premises. As for me, I reject them both.
And now the fight over the school-book question is on, good and strong, in Boston. This time it is over certain facts regarding the sale of indulgences by the pope and his followers during Luther’s time. The Protestants and Catholics are inclined to get into each other’s hair over the matter. But they are finding a way out of the difficulty. The women in Massachusetts vote on school matters. The board of education has bounced Swinton’s text-book containing the statements objectionable to the Catholics. The Protestant citizens object to the action of the school-board, and intend to make it warm for them. The Protestant women conceived the idea of registering as many as possible and outvoting those on the other side. But the Catholic women have votes, too, and will follow suit. I suppose the side getting the most votes will carry, and thus the truth will be established — by numbers. A says the sun shines. B says it does not. The fact is, the sun does shine. But it is put to vote. A is an Anarchist or some other horrible thing, and a great deal of prejudice prevails against him. A very large majority is on B’s side. Therefore the sun does not shine. Great thing, the ballot!
* * *
We Anarchists, of course, recognize the inherent defects of the ballot. And yet, as defective as it is, can it not be utilized by us to advance the principles of liberty? We are certainly justified in using any means that is not invasive of others’s rights in advancing our own cause. What objection can there be in using the ballot as a means of protesting against any more positive legislation, and in urging the abolition of statutes that now bear most heavily against our rights? Notwithstanding the cowardly attitude of a large portion of the Democratic party on the subject of free trade, the fact remains that it proposes to reduce the tariff, which is a step towards free trade. Now, what objection can be made against our aiding the Democrats in reducing the tariff, and doing so under no false pretences, but as Anarchists? All political questions mean either more government or less government. Cannot we be consistent with our basic principle in aiding those who strive for less interference on the part of the governing power with the individual? What is free trade but Anarchy in the exchange of products? We surely can not expect to get Anarchy any faster than the thinking and leading people recognize its truth and practicability. And as a rule the people we want to reach will not come to us: if we reach them at all, we must go where they are. The idea of our setting ourselves away from the “common herd” as the elect and so much better than other folks is not in accord with my view as to the best means of making converts to Anarchy. There are many things in the trades unions, the Knights of Labor, and kindred organizations that are not in harmony with my notions of right, but I think I would be doing the cause of liberty an injury were I to sever my connection with them altogether. Why? Because they are fields in which to labor. A farmer would reap no harvest if he waited for the field to come to him; he must go to the field. That practical results come from this policy I am positive. Since embracing the doctrines of Anarchy I have never compromised in my advocacy of its justness. In spite of seemingly insurmountable odds, I have hammered away, and now have the satisfaction of knowing that my attitude towards others and the persistent advocacy of the laissez faire principle have weakened the faith of the most intelligent and active leaders of the labor movement in the city of Detroit and vicinity in the principle of government control. If I had left them on becoming an Anarchist, they would not only have been my enemies, but I would have cut off my field of agitation. Anarchy feeds and fattens on agitation. The Democratic party is the party of Jefferson, who believed that that is the best government that governs the least. That it has flown in the face of this principle; that it has violated the most sacred rights of the individual; that it is even now honeycombed with politicians of the lowest order,— are all true. But no human organization has yet reached our ideal of perfection. The Republican party since the war has gone in the direction of establishing a nation with a big N and crushing out local autonomies. A strong centralized government, such as Hamilton desired, is the ideal of the Republican party. Authoritarianism today finds its most powerful advocate in that party. The Democrats, with all their inconsistencies and shortcomings, are opposed to centralizing political power. The logic of Democracy is Anarchy. The logic of Republicanism is State Communism. The problem to me looks like this:
Assuming the wedge to be political power, government, and the dividing line to be the present, and that those mentioned are going in opposite directions from the dividing line (which is a fact), it does not seem to me inconsistent for those on either side to aid each other. Of course, it is plain that this classification is in the rough, but it suffices to illustrate the general fact. These notions I put before the readers of Liberty to provoke discussion as to the most practical means of advancing the principles of Anarchy.
* * *
The foregoing will probably bring down upon me the condemnation of the class to whom Liberty’s friend belongs who condemned it for recognizing a financial truth in Cleveland’s letter of acceptance. But I have got hardened to criticism and abuse, so won’t mind it much. In fact, because I have within the last two weeks spoken in public — altogether about half an hour — on free trade and the necessity of reducing the functions of government and compelling the politicians to earn an honest living, I have been accused in print and orally of “goingover to the Democrats and making campaign speeches for the Democratic committee.” Of course, this charge is untrue. But even if it were true, whose business is it but my own? I am Anarchist enough, however, to not be very squeamish over the responsibility of my own acts, but those who assume political guardianship over others have yet something to learn of the principle of minding their own business. It is always in order to approve or disapprove the acts of our fellows, but one should be very certain that acts committed not in accord with our own views are committed from mercenary or other evil motive before we condemn the actor.
Joseph A. Labadie.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 136.
She really belonged to herself no longer. She was the property of science, of society, which lent her a bed at usury, a bed to die in, on condition that she would die for society, that her agony should be at its service, and then her corpse, provided she could not redeem it from this iniquitous, absurd society, based on the family which it violated, however, by this hospital life.
This mass of misery overwhelmed her courage like a rock of Sisyphus continually falling back on her poor crushed heart. Even the visits of her daughter, whom Jean brought to her, were regulated like everything else, so that she no longer desired them. Instead of soothing her, they embittered her by the separation.
Moreover, they took Marie from her work. The little dainties which she brought cost her dear. In short, the mother’s heart was torn at the end of every interview; the sorrow which the progress of the disease caused her daughter every week, and which she saw in Marie’s eyes however the child might try to conceal it, doubled her own pain. She had reached the point where she desired nothing but death, which finally heard her prayer.
On the second day after one of these visits, foreseeing her end, she wished however, though in vain, to see her daughter and Jean, in order to commend her to his care. It was not visitors’ day, but it was death’s day, and death was her only visitor.
In the presence of death and his relentless accomplice, the Sister, who tormented the victim to the end, the worthy mother, with her last breath, only murmured three names,— Jacques, Marie, and Jean.
“Good riddance!” said the Sister. “At last! She richly deserved to go where she has gone! May God have pity on her soul! The impious creature! She will stain nothing more.”
And sprinkling holy water on a cloth with a branch of box, she threw it over the face.
Number 12 was carried to the dissecting room, where there was an abundance of subjects; and, the season being cold, the body remained there until the next visitors’ day.
Then Father Jean came again with Marie, entered the sick-room, and went to the bed.
“Ah!” he cried, terrified, and, turning around quickly, he stopped Marie from advancing.
A man occupied Madame Didier’s place.
“Where is Louise Didier?” he asked.
“Who?” said the devotee.
“The lady that occupied this bed.”
“Madame Didier, I tell you!”
“Too late, good people.”
“Where is she?”
“In the dissecting room, Number 12, if she is still there.”
“Mam’zelle Marie, stay here!” cried Jean.
And he went out like a thunderbolt, in the direction of the dissecting room.
He entered just in time.
Number 12, Madame Didier, was stretched at full length upon a stone table, naked and stiff, without a veil save what was left of her long light hair, scattered over her breasts, her two anatomical arms extended beside her skeleton.
In a hideous tub fragments of human remains were bleaching in cold water, like calves’ feet and heads in a slaughter-house.
The Church consecrates only the remains of the rich. To it as to the State the remains of the poor are detritus.
Around the funeral table a dozen merry students, with aprons fastened to their necks and scalpels in their hands, laughing, smoking, playing at throwing scraps of flesh in each other’s faces, were getting ready to dissect this body, perfect considering its thinness, in order to learn how to cure the rich and become, if not Dubois in the service of the Didiers, at least Dupuytrens in the service of the Hoffmanns.
Time rolled the twelve months of the year 1847 over our characters, each of whom, as Virgil says, followed his attraction. Trahit sua quemque. . . .
While Louise Didier departed, happy to rejoin Jacques in the ground and content to leave Marie in Jean’s charge, Camille ran to his ruin and pushed on the Revolution.
Frinlair and Claire, faithful to their betrothal vows, awaited their marriage by the aid of God and the abbé Ventron.
The baron held stoutly to Camille, and the baroness to Frinlair, when she received her annunciation.
Then she felt the first thrill in her maternal organism, the first pulsation of a heart now charged with two lives.
By accident or design, by imprudence or submission to the sovereign of feminine passions, by Monsieur’s fault or Madame’s, the risk foreseen by Doctor Dubois had keen braved and the danger incurred.
The baroness was pregnant.
An immense joy took possession of her at first. . . . to fulfil her destiny, to be at last a real woman, a mother! What happiness! She saw herself sacrificing everything to her child,— sleep, leisure, pleasures, even her religious duties; devoted to him night and day, rocking him, nursing him, bringing him up, sustaining him body and soul on her own substance, breathing only for him, living again wholly in him.
Maternal love, that supreme law of devotion of the present to the future which governs the feminine nature, changing the sheep into a lioness and the lioness into a sheep, and softening and strengthening everything that it controls on earth, dominated Gertrude. Her arm would serve as a bed of rest for her Jesus, her bosom be his source of life. Already she bore him upon her neck like a Madonna, on a level with her, equal to her. She divided her heart between him and God. . . and he was her husband’s rival as well as her God’s.
Suddenly the memory of death came back to her, and her joy vanished like a flash.
She recollected the fatal danger which science had predicted for her, and the thought took her heart back to Claire, to her adopted daughter, and started her again in a struggle against her husband, fully determined as she was to endow her only for the pious Frinlair.
It was an intestine, constant warfare, secret and open by turns, and to the death.
Poor baron, with a wife both irritable and pregnant! Misfortunes never come singly, but, like policemen, in pairs.
The home, when not harmonious, is worse than the hospital; and the widow Didier dying at the Charity had little reason to envy Gertrude sick in her family.
The doctor, summoned to the house, entered Gertrude’s room.
First he assured himself of her pregnancy as carefully as necessary, scolded the couple for their weakness with his familiar but serious good nature, and then prescribed a severe régime to prevent the birth from being followed by fatal results.
Her food, whether solid or liquid, was to be carefully selected and weighed, tested both as to quantity and quality; and he gravely warned the couple against any violation of his orders.
The slightest imprudence might be fatal to his patient. Her diet must consist largely of milk, given in small and frequent doses. But nothing too substantial, still less anything stimulating, neither wine nor liquors, neither tea nor coffee, strict abstinence from everything succulent.
Thus the prescription for the rich Gertrude was simpler and less expensive than that for the poor Louise, who was bidden to drink wines and eat generous — and onerous — viands.
But if the poor woman had not been able to follow the too costly directions, scarcely more able was the rich one to follow the meaner prescription.
Gertrude, under the influence of this reduced diet, felt that she was becoming depressed. By nature amende, but accustomed to an excellent table, her culinary taste and weak stomach could ill endure privations and agreed in protesting against this fasting régime, in violating the sacred commands of science.
She cried of starvation, and wept sometimes like a child, going from disgust to voracity, and then saying:
“I am hungry!”
She bribed her servants and deceived her husband; or rather the former through negligence and the latter through indulgence left at her door some comforting wine and some savory viand with which she satisfied herself in secret, like a glutton, and the more dangerously because she devoured greedily, at varying intervals, without mastication and without regularity — in all these ways inducing indigestion.
In spite of all the injunctions of her doctor and her husband, something was always lying about under her eyes, under her hand, by chance doubtless, some bit more or less indigestible, forgotten or carelessly put away, meat and wine which she devoured to her destruction.
Sometimes even her husband had not the strength to effectively oppose her, to resist her desires, seeming to feel a guilty sympathy, a conniving goodness, a homicidal tenderness,— a murderer out of pity and killing through love.
So the albuminuria, far from improving under this loosely-followed treatment, grew worse and worse, and the doctor, disappointed and puzzled, unable to calculate on the servants’ negligence and the husband’s kindness, supposing that he was obeyed and not knowing that he was betrayed, came at last to believe that he did not understand this mystifying disease at all, and despaired of saving his patient.
During the whole course of the sickness all his knowledge struggled thus unsuccessfully and met nothing but reverses until the final defeat.
Chance precipitated it.
Chance is everything.
One day, when the doctor had given stricter orders than ever concerning her diet and milk, the baron had for his breakfast an excellent languet de Vierzon. Every winter since she had lived in Paris Gertrude had had this dish from her native Berri.
Summoned on a matter of business, the baron left the table for a moment, no doubt forgetting the tempting lanquet. But scarcely was he out of the room before the poor, famished patient, who, as she drank her milk, had steadily eaten the lanquet with her eyes filled with a look of Tantalus, yielding to her fit of hunger and her provincial taste, had pounced frantically and hungrily upon this pork which was so bad for her, and stuffed herself full, like the monk who invented the dish and died from it.
She washed it down with Sancerre wine, and, when the baron returned, he found nothing but a bare bone and an empty bottle.
The baron scolded, locking the stable-door, as the proverb says, after the horse had been stolen.
A few hours after this imprudence, caused by her husband’s chance absence, Gertrude was taken with a terrible crisis, the violent shock of which failed unfortunately to induce the miscarriage which alone could have saved her.
She was seized with cramps and contractions. The convulsions became so frequent and intense that the servants had to be called continually to hold the bent body and the limbs twisted like vine-stocks by a frightful spasm.
Soon the nervous wave, which had begun with the body and arms, invaded the face. Then there was a horrible spectacle, distressing, poignant, even to the indifferent.
Her teeth chattered, shutting and opening like the mechanical jaws in a dentist’s show-case. Her mouth frothed and foamed; her eyes rolled and twisted and turned in their sockets till nothing but the whites could be seen; her ears rang; her voice, or rather her strident rattle, was a mingled laugh and wail: a frantic vibration alternated with a corpse-like tension; in short, there were all the symptoms of acute eclampsy at its fatal paroxysm.
The doctor, after having tried in vain all anodynes and all revulsives, the rubbing of legs and hands in warm water, cried:
“Quick, a cork!”
And he placed between her teeth the cork from the fatal bottle of Sancerre, adding to the baron:
“Now take good care that this cork stays there, for she might cut her tongue off with her teeth, and the hemorrhage would be her death.”
Then, anxious, he went out to prepare with his own hands a final anaesthetic.
During the doctor’s presence the baron had followed the progress of the crisis with a silent anxiety.
Throughout her sickness, between the crises, the inflexible Gertrude always returned to Claire’s marriage, like Cato to the destruction of Carthage.
In a moment of calmness, before the insertion of the cork, she had said solemnly to her husband:
“I feel very ill. . . I do not know whether I shall die. . . but if you have loved me, if you love me still, if you wish me to die happy, tranquil, in the hope of going to await you in heaven, swear that you will not sacrifice the heart to the strong-box, our daughter to our treasury, but will marry Claire, not to the scoffer, but to the Christian! It is God’s wish.”
“Ah! dear friend, what are you thinking of? God does not wish to separate us from our daughter, expatriate her, banish her far away from us, from France, in a foreign land, in the arms of an ambassador-husband! Think only of your sickness, of your recovery, of the happiness of all of us.”
And this reply of her husband had unchained the crisis, as we have seen, with all its horrors and all its dangers.
Then, to do his best to quiet her, he placed the patient’s hand upon his heart; and Gertrude, electrified by the contact, by the beating of this beloved heart, fell into a delirious ecstasy full of disordered visions and broken words,— strong-box. . . heart. . . interest. . . love. . . God. . . my daughter. . . heaven. . . Bourges!
Then she saw herself in her dear and good old town of Bourges, in the cathedral church, in front of the high altar, amid the fumes of the incense and the tones of the organ, witnessing the marriage of Claire and Frinlair, celebrated by the abbé Ventron made an archbishop-cardinal, primate of the Aquitanias and leading them all into paradise.
“All! all into heaven!” she cried.
“Ah! poor mad darling! dear wife! come back to yourself,” cried the baron, as if crazed with grief himself, suddenly placing his face against hers and covering her with sobs and kisses.
Then a heart-rending cry was heard.
In these passionate kisses, by some accident doubtless, the cork had jumped from Gertrude’s lips, and the invalid’s convulsive teeth, striking her tongue, had severed it with a cut as clean as a pair of scissor’s would have made. An irrepressible flow of blood started from the mouth of the unfortunate woman. The baron, in despair, rang and shouted for help and for the doctor; but before the doctor had returned, the baroness, holding the baron’s hand so tightly that it seemed as if she would crush it, had breathed her last.
The dead woman’s fingers had to be cut off to release her husband’s hand.
When death strikes, it is rarely with a single blow. Misfortune is like the policeman; it comes in squads. It caroms like Grévy or Pius IX.
Thus Garousse’s hook had been twice fatal to the two families,— the Bervilles and the Didiers.
Thus the descendant of the Frank, continuing the bloody history of his ancestor in our country, had struck twice the Bourgeoisie and the Plebeians. He had killed Berville and Jacques. He killed Gertrude and Louise.
Jean claimed Louise’s body and saved it from public utility by burying it in the common grave where lay the body of her husband; and Madame the baroness went to await hers in the family vault.
“Now it is for me to marry Claire according to God,” said the abbé Ventron to himself, as he blessed Gertrude.
“Now it is for me alone to be both father and mother,” said Jean to himself, as he gazed upon Marie.
After the secret betrothal effected in the oratory by the grace of God, the baron had hermetically sealed his door against Frinlair, in spite of the tears, prayers, and adjurations of the triple alliance,— Claire, Gertrude, and Ventron.
“But,” says Figaro, “if you want to sharpen Rosina’s wits, shut her up.”
So Claire, in spite of all the precautions and watchfulness of Bartholo, found a way of meeting her affianced here or there, even though at a distance.
For five years thus they had met, not united, exchanging only glances and vain sighs, or at most a word with the holy water at the mass of the priest of Saint-Roch, who, still their ally, had more than once preached before them, if not for them, against sterile pleasures, Vae soli, and for the crescite, increase and multiply, of the Holy Bible.
Never had Frinlair been more a Christian, more assiduous in his religious duties than during this lustre following his betrothal.
He frequented the church almost as much as the club, neglecting races for vespers and jockeys for preachers.
But God overwhelms with blessings those who vow to be his own. After audacity, patience is the surest weapon of love. . . and perseverance is diabolical.
Finally an opportunity to renew and assure his rights as a lover was afforded him through another medium, less celestial than that of the priest, just as he was beginning to lose hope, as in the sonnet of Philis, and to fear the prescription.
Frinlair’s sister, Mlle. Berthe, Claire’s school-friend at the convent des Oiseaux, was about to marry.
She had to go to the fashionable dressmaking establishment of the great Alexis to see her wedding dress. So she had begged her friend Claire, whose good taste she recognized, to be kind enough to accompany her and give her the benefit of her advice.
Before their arrival at Alexis’s, a young working-girl in mourning, carrying her box in her hand, knocked at the door of the sales-parlor of the establishment.
“Come in,” cried a valet, fat as a prelate.
An habitue of the Théatre-Francais, thanks to the tickets given him by an actress who patronized his employer, this original valet had taken the classic name of Frontin, and put on many airs with the working-girls, whom he called Toinette or Marton. He was dressed in keeping with his name, laced, powdered, breeched, one of the furnishings of this parlor filled with mannikins, patterns, and displays of every sort.
“What do you want?” said he, grandly, to the working-girl; “work? This is not the office; this is the sales-parlor. You do not come to buy, I suppose.”
“Pardon me, Monsieur,” said she, thoroughly confused by this welcome, “I made a mistake,” and she started to withdraw.
Ogling her and succumbing to the young girl’s magic charm, he said in a gentler tone:
“What is your name, my dear?”
“What part, I ask you?” said he, with a shrug of the shoulder.
“That isn’t what I mean, you innocent. Are you a milliner or a dressmaker? Do you make waists or skirts? Do you sell or pose?”
“I am a seamstress, and I bring some samples,” said she, braving everything through necessity.
“Well, let us look.”
“There, Monsieur, sleeves, waists, and skirts; you can choose.”
And she timidly showed him three little master-pieces of grace, perfect, like herself.
“Not bad, these. . . but a great deal of work for a little money . . . is it not so? See here, you are pretty, you please me; and, if you will take my advice,” he added, giving her a pat on the cheek that made her start, “you will drop the needle for the pose.”
“What’s that?” asked Marie, surprised.
“Well, for the mannikin.”
“The mannikin!” she exclaimed, still more puzzled.
“Why, yes, simpleton; cloak-wearer, shawl-wearer. . . nice work, much better than sewing. A dollar a day and your board, to say nothing of gratuities and the pieces. The more I look at you, the better fitted you seem to me for that employment. You have a good figure, and, if you will be amiable, you shall be presented.”
“Much obliged,” replied Marie, blushing, to this conceited booby; “I prefer to work at home.”
Then steps were heard in the vestibule, and, as Marie, wonder-struck, was picking up her box to go, the varlet said to her:
“Stay a little while; if you wish to see some fine dresses for the sake of your own trade, you will look at the trousseau of Mlle. Berthe de Frinlair.”
Influenced by the love of art, Marie remained.
At that moment Alexis the great, in a dressing-gown, entered with Berthe and Claire, escorted by Frinlair and followed by a dressmaker, Mile. Tronapette, carrying a new dress.
A pianist brought up the rear.
Alexis ordered the valet to light the gas, saying to the ladies:
“One cannot judge a ball-dress except by gas-light and trial. How else can one tell whether the form and shade suit the figure and complexion? So be kind enough, I pray you,” he added, pompously, “to step into the boudoir with Mlle. Trompette.”
The three women passed into the dressing-room, and Alexis handed the “Charivari” to Frinlair, keeping a fashion journal for himself.
Then, perceiving Marie, he said to the valet:
“Who is this girl?”
“A posing apprentice,” answered Frontin.
“Pardon me, Monsieur, a work”. . .
“Hush. . . or the door!” said Frontin in a low voice to Marie, who nevertheless was about to reply, when Alexis, like a true employer, hastened to say:
“We already have many for that line of work. . . but we will see;” and making a sign to the pianist, he cried: “Quadrille and waltz,” whereupon the pianist began a prelude, cutting short the words of Marie, who was gathering up her samples to go.
A large woman then entered, and, bowing awkwardly to Alexis, asked, with a Teutonic accent, to see a cloak of the latest style and largest size for Berlin, she said, German women being taller than Frenchwomen.
“You mean longer,” answered Alexis, laughing, and he cried: “A cloak of the largest size.”
A posing-woman, Louisa, entered with a cloak on her arm.
“Too small,” said Alexis to Louisa. Then, seeing Marie going out, he said: “Ah! you will do. You have a figure. Come here!” And as Marie hesitated, he added: “Come, I say, and stand up straight!”
Taking her by the arm almost by force, he put the cloak upon her back. Then, addressing his customer, he said:
“See, a work of art!”
“It looks very well in the rear. Now turn around, Mademoiselle,” said the customer. “Well, Monsieur, that suits me. How much?”
“Two hundred dollars.”
“A little dear, considering the material.”
“The material! Ah, ah! the material is a consideration for the country, for Germany! Paris, Madame, stands for form. The material is nothing, form is everything. . . and look, it is the latest novelty.”
“I see. . . but have you nothing better for the money?”
“No, Madame,” exclaimed Alexis,superb in his contempt and indignation, “nothing better than that for you. It is enough that you have seen one, you shall not copy two! Louisa, take away that cloak. And you, Frontin, take Madame’s description; we have nothing beautiful enough for her.”
“Pardon me,” replied the customer, “everything in your establishment is not second-rate, Monsieur Alexis; your insolence at least is of the first quality.”
And she went out, bursting with laughter, taking with her in her German memory as revenge a pattern for use in Berlin free of cost.
Frinlair had found the scene quite as amusing as the “Charivari”; and Marie, more and more interested, was nevertheless about to go at last, when Trompette came back to say:
“Mademoiselle de Frinlair is ready.”
Then Marie, fascinated by curiosity, stayed longer.
“Wait,” said Alexis to Trompette, “till I take ray place in order to judge well of the effect.”
And he seated himself majestically on his armchair as if it were a throne, the throne of fashion. Then, taking up his eye-glasses, he said:
“Tell her to come in.”
And as Berthe entered in her costume, he continued:
“I beg pardon, Mademoiselle, salute me, I beg of you, as you pass, that I may see if the movement disarranges the waist. . . . Good! Correct, not a wrinkle, nothing moves, a cuirass. And now you are going to dance.”
“Dance?” exclaimed Berthe, in amazement.
“That I may see now if the movement will disarrange the skirt.”
“Isn’t that rather too much? I can hardly walk! But I must submit or resign. Your will be done, great artist! We are your subjects, and you are a real tyrant, the most absolute of all, the tyrant of fashion.”
“And the slave of beauty.”
“All quarters, all regimes, royalty and the republic, nobility and finance, Saint-Honoré and Saint-Germain, all Paris obeys you more than the pope.”
“To say nothing of all the crowned heads of Europe, whose hair I dress and whose costumes I make, but at what price! What art!”
“And what expense!”
“To be sure! Master-pieces cost everybody dear, you as well as me. Now, cavalier, come in.”
Then entered a young man dressed in a black coat, with a moustache of the same color, white cravat and gloves, and a flower in his buttonhole,— a masculine poser, waxed, polished, glazed, perfect.
“My son, Mademoiselle.”
The son bowed.
“Come, give your hand to Mademoiselle; take your place and let the music begin,” said Alexis.
The piano started.
“First two forward! Balance!. . . Stop!” said Alexis. “A fold loosened in the skirt, at the right hip, nothing else. Thank you, Mademoiselle, the trial is over. You understand the importance of it now? Such an accident in a ballroom,— what an annoyance to you and what a disgrace to me! I should be ruined! Farewell the throne! Alexis would abdicate like Charles X. . . and unfortunately, though power is hereditary, genius is not, and my son is only a good dancer, Frontin, serve.”
Then the valet offered refreshments on trays worthy of the customers.
During all these Parisian follies a serious thing had occurred.
Frinlair and Claire had slipped into the unoccupied boudoir, their absence unnoticed by Alexis and Berthe absorbed in the dress; and they returned equally unobserved, after having confirmed their betrothal under the auspices, this time, of the priest and king of fashion.
The second offenders having partaken of the refreshments with Berthe, all went away contented, especially Frinlair, reflecting upon this modification of Bazile’s proverb: “The pitcher goes so often to the well that at last. . .” and upon the morality of Ventron: “The end justifies the means.”
Marie, left face to face with Alexis, made bold to say to him then:
“Monsieur, I came to offer you”. . .
“Ah! to be sure! A dollar for the pose. Frontin, take her to the cashier.”
Then the employer drank a glass of champagne with his son and went out with him.
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.
The Gallows Glorified.
“Put God on the gibbet, and you have the cross,” says Victor Hugo in the preface of his “Lucrece Borgia.”
This truth, which no one else could have uttered so strikingly, was as strikingly exemplified when, one year ago, on November 11, 1887, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Albert R. Parsons, and George Engel were hanged in Chicago for the utterance and dissemination of their opinions. When these men ascended the gallows, they added to the splendor of the glory with which John Brown had already invested it.
On the first anniversary of this legal massacre this glory is recognized and celebrated on both hemispheres. In memory of these men and their comrade, Louis Lingg, and in execration of their murderers, meetings are held in many of the principal cities of the world, and even where they do not actually assemble, all lovers of freedom feel their pulses throb in unison as they look back a year upon the cruel wrong. It is a healthy sign. May this celebration be renewed from year to year until it can be said of Spies, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, and Lingg as the poet said of Robert Blum, who was executed at Vienna in 1851:
He lives — ten thousand Blums still live, begot of his one brain,
With thousand names and thousand brains to act Blum o’er again,
In everything but death, and that if death their mission gives,
And though these Blums, ten thousand, fall — still Blum’s not dead, but lives!
Land Titles and Rent.
Perseverance is one of the rarest and best qualities of men, and it is especially gratifying to observe Egoist’s firm determination to obtain the assent of Anarchists to his proposition to violate the general principle of non-interference in the particular matter of land-holding and introduce the authoritarian scheme of connscation of economic rents. Rent we all know to be a question which perplexes the minds of very pronounced individualists, and only few there are who do not show reluctance in applying to it the unflinching logic of the “let alone” policy. Egoist’s opportune discussion of the subject will at last reveal the real strength or weakness of our position on the problem of land and its occupancy.
While in the main coinciding in our emphasis of untrammelled personal activity, Egoist makes an exception in the case of landholding, and invites governmental regulation on the ground that, under freedom, the law of rent would continue to operate in favor of certain fortunate cultivators to the detriment of all the rest. He claims that by recognizing occupation and use as the unqualified title to land, without regard to differences of fertility, superiority of locality, and similar conditions, we create a permanent system of unequal exchanges and enable some men to live partly on the labor of others. Certainly this, if true, presents a serious difficulty, and we admit that such inequality would be an impediment to social harmony and peaceful industrial progress. The temptation on the part of the owners of the poorer lands to compel the surrender of economic rent into a common treasury would be exceedingly strong, and those who should oppose such action would have to be prepared to offer some uncommonly satisfactory reasons for upholding a principle demonstrably injurious to the material interests of the larger portion of the community.
But as the case stands, the burden of proof is all on Egoist’s side. Before he can consistently and with any show of reason ask us to follow him in the devious and uncertain path of artificial levelling, he is obliged to show that the evil complained of is far-reaching and deeply-felt, that liberty is clearly inadequate to remedy it, and that the need for the extraordinary measure proposed by him is vital and pressing. It is hardly necessary to remind Egoist that it would be extremely injudicious and thoughtless for individualists to hastily sacrifice their principle to doubtful expedients. We must therefore stop to inquire whether Egoist makes out a sufficiently convincing argument in defence of his proposition.
Turning to his letter, we find nothing more than a reference to what is called the Ricardian theory of rent. Is, then, “economic rent” such a palpable, substantial, and indisputably real entity that to mention it is all that is required? Let us ask if there is any thing in the realm of fact corresponding to Egoist’s imaginary and hypothetical exchange of three days’ labor for five days’ labor. J. K. Ingram, discussing Ricardo, writes:
If we are asked whether this doctrine of rent. . . is true, we must answer that it is hypothetically true in the most advanced industrial communities, and there only, but that even in those communities neither safe inference nor sound action can be built upon it. . . The pressure anticipated by Ricardo is not felt, and the cry is rather of the landlord over falling rents than of the consumer over rising prices. The entire conditions are in fact so altered that Prof. Nicholson, no “enemy” to the orthodox economics, when recently conducting an inquiry into the present state of the agricultural question, pronounced the so-called Ricardian theory of rent “too abstract to be of practical utility.”
When we remember that these opinions come from sources, not only entirely free from reproach of undue partiality for non-interference, but avowedly friendly to governmental control of economic relations; that a number of economists deny even the theoretical soundness of the doctrine; that Socialist writers only admit it to be true under capitalism and untrue under such a system as we contemplate; and that some critics, nothing loth to accept the theory as correct, declare the game not worth the candle, as the proceeds would barely cover the expense of the national office necessary for the regular collection of the rents, we think we are justified in pronouncing Egoist’s schemes premature and ill-grounded. Before appealing to us to assist him in collecting rents, let him settle this “unsettled question in political economy” and make sure that there is something to be collected.
Assuming, however, that “economic rent” exists, let us ask if there really be no more “individualistic measure” by which we could equalize the differences. As Egoist is a follower of Henry George, the criticism of that author by John F. Kelly also concerns him. Mr. Kelly, reviewing the work on protection and free trade, said:
Mr. George, in order to sustain his free trade theories, tells us that the difference in natural advantages of two countries simply calls them to a difference in function, that rent enters into price, and that, consequently, the people of the poorer land will profit by the riches of their neighbors. . . It rests with Mr. George to show us why the laws of trade which served to equalize the condition of two nations should not be equally efficient in internal affairs. . . . According to Mr. George’s pet theory [of confiscating rent], the people of the richer country should have paid rent to a joint State, so that the latter might use it to equalize the wealth of the two countries. But here we have his avowal that the same result is attained by the natural laws of trade, without any of the waste or corruption necessary with governmental methods.
So far as I am aware, Mr. Kelly was the first to point out this contradiction in George’s argument for free trade and a single tax. So far as I know, Mr. George has never met this pertinent criticism. Perhaps Egoist now will come to his rescue; he certainly must not fail to do so if he expects us to look with more interest and favor upon his proposal. Meantime we hope to be pardoned for disregarding the various schemes of taxation by theoretical enemies and friends alike.
A Chapter of Labor Politics.
. . . And so it went on till the year of our Lord, 1886, when two men, a priest and a prophet, came upon the scene. They had been known long before as devoted and faithful champions of labor, and their appearance in the arena of the labor political struggle was hailed with unprecedented enthusiasm. They at once assumed leadership, and opened a memorable campaign.
They believed that all the troubles of the toiling poor could be removed by a single tax on land values. [Our duty as historian does not involve the definition of their economic formulae. We are confined to facte.]
It was claimed by them that the one thing needful was to free industry, sweep away restrictions and burdens, and return the land to the cultivators. Only what they called the “unearned increment” was to be taxed out of the latter’s hands.
Socialism was to find its reason for existence gone. Anarchism was to die in its infancy. Protection was to go. All the reforms then popular were to be supplanted by the one great movement for a single tax.
These teachings seemed to take deep root. In the city of New York alone over seventy thousand people supported their propagators.
Such success only inspired the chosen leaders to greater effort. Between the end of that campaign and the State elections of 1887 the good work never halted. Such agitation for a single tax and free trade will hardly ever be repeated in history. The Socialists were excluded from the victorious party, the Anarchists were haughtily ignored, and preparations were being made for the coming encounter. The priest and the prophet were inseparable. Everywhere they went together, arm in arm, an example of pure friendship, loyalty, and greatness. The down-hearted looked at them and took fresh courage; the powerful grew pale and trembled.
The elections came on. As students of history too well know, bright expectations have often ended in disappointment and bitter failure. Also in 1887 the stupid and fickle masses deserted their true friends at the critical moment and allowed the enemy to carry the day.
Keen was the suffering of the wounded prophet, betrayed by his own. Alas! he succumbed to his grief, and, as a labor politician on a single-tax platform, disappeared forever shortly afterwards. Soon he was heard of in the capacity of a defender of the Democratic party, assuring the people that a seven per cent, reduction of tariff duties and absolute free trade were really one and the same thing.
As we may well imagine, this was a cruel blow to the priest. The defeat and the loss of a dear brother and trusted companion-in-arms, added to the pain inflicted by the Church which he had served and loved, told seriously upon him and impaired his physical vigor. Ah, but not his mental and moral! He still continued the noble fight for free trade and a single tax, single-handed, defying the enemies, among whom he numbered his former friend.
Desirous of bringing more immediate relief to the oppressed, the priest organized an anti-rent movement, which promised to spread and accomplish much good. This naturally increased the popular admiration for him. The ex-prophet had the impudence to censure him for disloyalty to the single tax, but this charge was met with universal contempt. The fame of the priest rose higher and higher, while the once fair name of the prophet sank lower and lower.
Suddenly the anti-rent agitation came to an end. The eloquent appeals for free trade were discontinued. The single-tax banner was missed. The world won-deringly asked the reason, the cause, the meaning, the explanation of the strange change. And soon all was made clear. . . . Oh, why did not the fact remain a mystery? History is obliged to chronicle another distressing fall of an idol. The priest dispelled all doubt by coming before the public as an advocate of that fraud, protection. . .
Then it was that a contemporary observer uttered the following remarkable words:
“Henry George is at present making stump speeches for the Democrats at five hundred dollars a night, and McGlynn is drawing boodle from the Republicans. Such are the results of a parliamentary agitation. Thank you!”
Liberty’s views of compromise as a method of propagandism have been stated so often and at such length that it is scarcely necessary to present them again in contrast with Labadie’s defence of that policy. Moreover, the recent campaign and election, the obscurity in which it was necessary to envelop the very mild reformatory issue involved, and the dire failure to smuggle it into voters’ brains even thus, afford a better answer than any that I could make. Of course Labadie is in a position to judge better than I as to the fruitfulness of his work. I can only say that at this distance I am unable to perceive that belief in laissez-faire among the labor leaders of Detroit which he finds, although I pay my hearty tribute of admiration to his energy and perseverance and ability. Whatever he may do, I do not question the loftiness of his motive, but only the efficacy of his course.
After a skirmish with the election inspectors and a short but decisive struggle in the courts, Eugene Macdonald, editor of the “Truth Seeker,” has established a man’s right to keep his hand in his pocket. This will gain him the thanks of loafers. If now he wishes to deserve the gratitude of workers, let him expend a little of his surplus energy in establishing a man’s right to keep his money in his pocket. I fear, alas! that he looks upon this as a comparatively unimportant matter.
Letters from Italy.
Florence, Italy, October 18, 1888.
To the Editor of Liberty:
In my preceding letter I tried to give an idea of the political situation that at present invests Italy; now I pass to an examination of the status of the different social classes and their influence upon the government.
From the political standpoint social classes in Italy may be reduced to two,— the bourgeoisie and the people. The aristocracy makes common cause with the bourgeoisie and is blended with it (speaking always from the political standpoint), save perhaps at Rome, where the Roman princes still faithful to the pope give but a very faint idea of the Faubourg Saint-Germain at Paris. Perhaps also at Naples there are still some families which may be said to be attached to the Bourbons, but these are no more than simple archreological curiosities. We certainly have not in Italy, as in France, an aristocracy that sulkily repudiates the government and makes a factious opposition to it; the Italian aristocracy, on the contrary, is generally of the governmental party, and vigorously claims its share of the benefits which the government lavishes upon those who support it.
The history of England shows us that very often the action of the aristocracy of that country has been favorable, even though unconsciously, to the cause of liberty. It is unfortunate for Italy that she has not a few great liberal families, like the English Whig families. Stuart Mill said that, the great danger of our time being uniformity, originality of any kind might be useful in a certain sense, from the very fact that it presented an example of deviation from the usual rule. So I believe that in presence of the growing power of governments, which interfere more and more every day with the private life of the citizen, every centre of resistance is to be prized. A man, from the very fact that he refuses to bend under the yoke to which everybody submits, and has the strength and courage to remain erect when others bend the knee, renders a service to his fellow-citizens by setting them an example of resistance. Even though such resistance have its source in class or religious prejudices, it is none the less precious; the main thing, in fact, is not the end which it has in view, but the example which it furnishes. Unfortunately liberals rarely understand this; they applaud the government’s acts of violence against those whom they call reactionists, forgetting that the government, which today tramples under foot the liberty and rights of their enemies, will easily find a way of applying the same policy to them when it finds in them an embarrassment. If they would study history a little, they would see that it is often thus that despotism has established itself. In the ancient Greek cities the tyrant asked the people for a guard to defend him against the oligarchy, and then made use of it to establish his power over the oligarchy and the people together.
In Italy the class in possession of power, in order to keep its strength, not only makes use of the feeling of hostility to France which it has succeeded in artificially creating, but also skilfully exploits the anti-clerical feeling of the liberals. Any person who ventures to discuss the acts of the government is denounced as lacking in patriotism or as a clerical.
At Terni so-called steel-works have been established for the manufacture of plates for Italian iron-clads, the real purpose, however, being to carry on a speculation at the expense of the country. The government loads this establishment with its favors, among other things buying steel rails of it at almost double the usual market price. If any one respectfully points out that steel rails really bear a very remote relation to the defence of the country, the government, instead of answering this argument, contents itself with denouncing through its journals the lack of patriotism shown in the attempt to keep too close a watch upon what the government is doing for the defence of the country. Thus, under this fallacious pretext, they take away our money, which they do not use at all in the defence of the country, but rather in making presents to the supporters of the government; and, if we complain of this proceeding, they accuse us of not loving our country.
In the same way the government, while making the most serious inroads upon liberty, does not fail to take a few measures against the priests or their followers, which, in its opinion, should serve as crumbs of comfort to the liberals.
Thus on February 10 of this year the government, by virtue of a simple royal decree, increased the duty on cereals, and then on March 8, again by royal decree, without the approval of parliament, increased the duty on rice. Not until some time later did the government deign to secure the parliament’s approval of these taxes.
It is unprecedented that a free people should for any length of time pay a tax that had not been voted by its representatives. Such a thing in certain countries — England, for instance — would not even be possible. The citizens of the United Kingdom would simply refuse to pay, and no judges would be found to sentence an Englishman to pay a tax that had not received the sanction of a bill from parliament.
A few old Italian parliamentarians have indeed timidly pointed out that it was contrary to the statute for the government to demand taxes that had not been voted, but this had no effect upon our liberals; they then had more serious business to attend to, being greatly occupied with a monument which they desire to erect at Rome to Giordano Bruno on the spot where he was burned in the Campo dei Fiori.
The municipality of Rome did not wish the monument to be erected in that locality, looking upon it as a provocation directed at the Catholics and the pope. The government strongly supported the liberals in their struggle against the municipality; the Duke Torlonia, syndic of Rome, having paid a visit to the cardinal-vicar, the ministry turned him out of office, receiving the applause of the good Italian radicals, who did not perceive that they were thus induced to part with the prey for the shadow, and that it would have been much better to let Giordano Bruno rest a while longer and prevent the government from wasting the money of the country.
This shows that in reality, unfortunately, a part of our radicals have all the prejudices of the bourgeoisie, to which for that matter they belong by birth, and in the eyes of the bourgeoisie the wasting of the public revenues is not a fault in the government, at least as long as the bourgeoisie profits thereby; and if it gets the benefit of the product of the new taxes, it does not consider it at all blameworthy that these should be levied by a simple decree of the executive power.
The present condition of Italy, and largely of France as well, may be characterized by saying that it is the result of the application, for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, of the principles and processes which are commonly called socialism when considered as instituted in favor of the people.
For the rest, every time a social class has succeeded in getting possession of power, and has not been restrained by the resistance of others, it has established in legislation entirely to its own advantage.
The bourgeoisie reigns and governs without contrast in Italy; its power is so well seated that it does not even need to have recourse to force to maintain it; it rests on bases much firmer than it could possibly find in repressive laws, for it has its foundation in the powerlessness to which its enemies are reduced, either by their lack of cohesion, their ignorance and their poverty, or by the shrewdness of the social conduct of the bourgeoisie.
Judging things superficially, one would say that among its politicians there are men more or less liberal, and in fact some are pleased to call themselves conservatives and others progressists, but in reality it is a simple question of method of government — of form, not of purpose — that divides them. These, uglier or more timid, would like to tighten the curb, as Minister Depretis said, and prevent by force any manifestation of their enemies; those, more good-natured or more cunning, see no disadvantage in allowing the discontent of a portion of the people to evaporate in words.
Thus lately the unemployed workmen at Rome held a great meeting at which a resolution was adopted inviting “the workers of the entire world to unite in a march for the conquest of their rights.”
Such vain declamations doing no harm to anybody, the government allowed these worthy people to say what they liked. Thereupon the so-called conservative journals blamed the government for its inertia; they would have had it interfere, dissolve the meeting, and imprison the speakers.
The facts have shown that this time at least the method of the government was the better one, for two or three days later the extravagances of the orators of the meeting had been forgotten, and it was precisely because this was foreseen that they were allowed to utter them; had they been more practical and so more effective, a way of suppressing them would readily have been found.
If, when the government has levied by a simple royal decree a new tax, such as the increase of the duties on cereals, the citizens had held a meeting to protest against this violation of the statute and to decide not to pay an illegal tax, the government would not have tolerated it; it tolerates only that which is inoffensive. Moreover, this is not a simple supposition; facts abound to warrant it. When there was a tax on maslin in Italy, the formation of a league to agitate for its abolition was never tolerated, and any attempt in that direction was always suppressed by force. The English aristocracy, to be sure, because of the free institutions of the United Kingdom, had to tolerate Cobden’s Anti-Corn-Law League, but the Italian bourgeoisie never permitted any thing of the kind against its tax on maslin. If more recent facts are desired, a few days ago, at the time of the visit of the emperor of Germany, our government caused the arrest at Rome of several persons known for their anti-Germanic opinions. One of these, Signor Albani, asked to be shown the judicial warrant for his arrest. He was answered that there was none, and that it was simply by order of the police!
And this is a common practice. When the king visits a city, or on any occasion when there is reason to fear disorder, the police, to save themselves the trouble of watching the principal Republicans, Socialists, etc., are accustomed to arrest them and hold them behind bars as long as any fear of disorder is entertained; after which they set them at liberty, of course without giving them even the shadow of a trial, for there would be absolutely nothing upon which to base one, even with the most submissive judges.
We are a long way, alas! from the habeas corpus privilege, so dear to the citizens of Anglo-Saxon countries!
It is curious to observe the attitude of our bourgeois in presence of these flagrant violations of liberty, whether economic or personal. Some try to deny the facts, or, when that is impossible, at least to diminish their importance. A propos of the duties on grains, they have indulged in some very amusing sophistry.
Their journals said that it was the United States of America that would pay this tax, for the American producers would have to reduce their prices by an amount just equal to the tax. They went so far as to publish news from America to the effect that congress had voted a premium on the exportation of wheat to Italy! If the Americans really entertain this kind intention of taking our taxes upon their shoulders, they would do well to make haste, for with this year’s insufficient crop we are beginning to suffer cruelly!
Others squarely avow their purpose. They say: So much the worse for the people, if they have to pay more for their bread; at any rate the proprietors must be satisfied! The people who are arbitrarily arrested inspire in them no feeling of pity. The government has a right, they say, to take any measures that it may deem necessary to assure order and tranquillity. To them those persons who do not share the passion of our present governors for everything German are simply outlaws; it is perfectly right to clap them into prison, and they ought to be very thankful that they are treated no worse.
The singular feature of all this is that these same bourgeois read with delight Taine’s works on the French Revolution and wax sincerely wroth over the arbitrary proceedings of the Jacobins!
But the mass of the bourgeoisie are indifferent to all these considerations; provided the number of State-salaried offices placed annually at the disposition of their sons does not diminish, provided they may continue to enrich themselves by means of economic protection, speculations carried on at the cost of the country, and monopolies granted them by the government, and provided they are given at the public expense such railroads as they desire, all the rest seems to them of trifling importance,— matters for the consideration of theorists, but unworthy the attention of practical people who mind to their own business.
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. 136.
I do not deny that, among those men, nor, indeed, that the great majority of those men who seduce and betray women, are bad men; that is, that they are undeveloped, hardened, and perverted beings, hardly capable of compassion or remorse. What I do affirm is, that there are, also, among them, men of the most refined, and delicate, and gentle natures, fitted to endure the most intense suffering themselves while they inflict it – none but their own hearts can tell how unwillingly – on those they most dearly prize in the world; and that Society is in fault to place such men in such a cruel conflict with themselves, in which some proportion of the whole number so tried is sure to fall. I also affirm that, of the former class,– the undeveloped, hardened, and perverted,– their undevelopment, hardening, and perversion are again chargeable upon our false social arrangements, and, more than all else, perhaps, upon that very exclusion from a genial and familiar association with the female sex, now deemed essential, in order to maintain the marriage institution in “its purity.” And, finally, I affirm, that, while such men exist, the best protection that woman can have against their machinations is more Development on her own part, such as can alone come from more Freedom, more Knowledge of the world, more Familiarity with men, more ability to judge of character and to read the intentions of those by whom she is approached, more Womanhood, in fine; instead of a namby-pamby, lackadaisical, half-silly interestingness, cultured and procured by a nun-like seclusion from business, from freedom of locomotion, from unrestrained intercommunication of thought and sentiment with the male sex, and, in a word, from almost the whole circle of the rational means of development.
He must be an unobservant man, indeed, who does not perceive the pregnant signs all around him that approximations toward the opinions now uttered by me are everywhere existent, and becoming every day nearer and more frequent.
“When people understand,” says Lord Stowell, in the case of Evans vs. Evans, 1st Consistory Reports, p. 36, “that they must live together, they learn, by mutual accommodation, to bear that yoke which they know they cannot shake off; they become good husbands and wives (!) from the necessity of remaining husbands and wives, for necessity is a powerful master in teaching the duties which it imposes.” How antiquated does such a defense of any institution begin to sound to our ears! It is equally good when applied to despotism, to slavery, to the inquisition, or to any other of the forms in which force and necessity are brought to bear upon human beings to the destruction of their freedom, and the ruin of their highest happiness. indeed, it is the argument which, time out of mind, has been relied upon to sustain all those ancient abuses which are melting away before the spirit of this age. We are rapidly discarding force, and recognizing the truth, and purity, and potency of love and attraction, in government, in education, in social life, and everywhere.
The restraints of marriage are becoming daily less. Its oppressions are felt more and more. There are today in our midst ten times as many fugitives from matrimony as there are fugitives from slavery; and it may well be doubted if the aggregate, or the average, of their sufferings has been less. There is hardly a country village that has not from one to a dozen such persons. When these unfortunates, flying from the blessings of one of our peculiar and divine institutions, hitherto almost wholly unquestioned, happen to be women – the weaker sex – they are contemptuously designated “grass-widows;” as “runaway” or “free nigger” is, in like manner, applied to the outlaws of another “domestic” arrangement,– freedom in either case becoming, by a horrible social inversion, a badge of reproach. These severed halves of the matrimonial unit are, nevertheless, achieving respectability by virtue of numbers, and in America, at least, have nearly ceased to suffer any loss of caste by the peculiarity of their social condition. Divorce is more and more freely applied for, and easily obtained. Bastard children are now hardly persecuted at all by that sanctimonious Phariseeism which, a few generations ago, hunted them to the death, for no fault of theirs. The rights of woman are every day more and more loudly discussed. Marriage has virtually ceased to claim the sanction of religion, fallen into the hands of the civil magistrate, and come to be regarded as merely a civil contract. While thus recognized as solely a legal convention, the repugnance for merely conventional marriages (mariages de convenance) is yet deepening in the public mind into horror, and taking the place of that heretofore felt against a genuine passion not sanctified by the blessing of the Church. I quote from one of the most conservative writers of the age when I say, that “it is not the mere ring and the orange blossom which constitute the difference between virtue and vice.”
Indeed, it may be stated as the growing public sentiment of Christendom already, that the man and woman who do not love have no right, before God, to live together as man and wife, no matter how solemn the marriage service which may have been mumbled over them. This is the negative statement of a grand truth, already arrived at and becoming daily louder and more peremptory in its utterance. How long, think you, it will be before the converse, or positive, side of the same truth will be affirmed, namely, that the man and woman who do love, can live together in purity without any mummery at all,– that it is love that sanctifies – not the blessing of the Church?
Such is my doctrine. Such is the horrid heresy of which I am guilty. And such, say what you will, is the eternal, inexpugnable truth of God and nature. Batter at it till your bones ache, and you can never successfully assail it. Sooner or later you must come to it, and whether it shall be sooner or later is hardly left to your option. The progress of opinion, the great growth of the world, in this age, is sweeping all men, with the strength of an ocean current, to the acceptance of these views of love and marriage, to the acceptance of universal freedom, – freedom to feel and act, as well as freedom to think,– to the acceptance, in fine, of the sovereignty of every individual, to be exercised at his own cost. If our remaining Institutions are found to be adverse to this freedom, so that bad results follow from its acceptance, then our remaining Institutions are wrong, and the remedy is to be sought in still farther and more radical changes.
Had there existed a public opinion already formed, based on freedom, the poor girl in New Hampshire, whose sad history we have read in a paragraph, would probably not have been deserted, or if she were, she would not have felt that “every eye was turned upon her in scorn, knowing her disgrace,” visiting upon her a worse torture than any ever invented by savages, because, forsooth, she had already been cruelly wronged! A Christian people, indeed! “Her heart” would not have “sunk within her day by day and week by week.” “Paleness” would not have “come upon her cheeks,” and “her frame” have “wasted away until she was almost a living skeleton.” She would not have become a raving maniac. “Her brothers and friends” would not have been “borne down with sorrow at her condition.” Public opinion would not have been invoked “to hunt down” her betrayer, after first hunting down her; and, finally, her misfortune would not have been paraded and gloated over by a shameless public press, Mr. Greeley in the van, holding up the poor agonized, heart-riven, persecuted victim of the infernalism of our social institutions, in warning to others against yielding to the purest, and holiest, and most powerful of the sentiments which God has implanted in the human heart,– the joint force of the yearning after freedom and after love.
Mr. Greeley, the wrong that infests our social arrangements is deeper and more central than you have believed. It is not to be cured by superficial appliances and conservative nostrums. The science of social relations must be known and applied. You do not know it. You refuse to study it. You do not believe that there is any such science either known or possible. You persist in scratching over the surface, instead of putting the plow down into the subsoil of social reform. Very well, then, the world can’t wait! You must drop behind, and the army of progress must even consent to proceed without your leadership. I have been already a dozen times congratulated that I am helping to render you entirely “proper” and “orthodox.” If you were quite sincere and more logical than you are, I could drive you clean back to the papacy upon all subjects, where you have already confessedly gone upon the subject of divorce,– except that you relax a little in your rigor out of personal deference to Christ.
The truth will ere long be apparent that there is no middle ground upon which a man of sense can permanently stand, between absolutism, blind faith, and implicit obedience to authority, on the one hand, and on the other, “the sovereignty of the Individual.”
Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Strictures on an Article from Henry James, in the New York “Tribune” Of February 12, 1853.
My dear Andrews:
I have read James’ stuff in response to your article, and have no doubt that you will appreciate it. I saw, as I anticipated and mentioned to you, that your article required intelligence and candor in the reader, equal to those in the writer, to do it justice.
Mr. James appears to possess neither, to the degree required for a controversy so important as this is in the present crisis. He has, however, been driven by your clear and definite statement of a great principle, to dabble with it, and so to open the way for its introduction. His very perversion of your formula demands correction, and calls for a discrimination that he seems not to comprehend.
He misquotes your formula as saying that one “may do as he pleases, provided he will accept the consequences of so doing.” He says he finds it thus propounded. This is a misrepresentation. He does not find it “thus propounded,” but has perverted it, either through carelessness, or ignorance, or a less excusable design, to misrepresent; but this matters not,– it is his practical applications that interest us. Having furnished his own formula, he then goes on to show how ridiculous it is; but at the same time shows that the plane of his morality (although a teacher of the public) is even below that of the humble and unpretending. he seems to see no other consequences of stealing than what he finds in the penitentiary! no other consequences of lying than the violation of one of the commands of the decalogue! no other consequences of “prostituting your neighbor’s daughter” “but the scorn of every honest nature!” Had he read your formula intelligently and candidly, I think he could not have failed to see that the “exercise of my sovereignty at my own cost,” while it would give me supreme control over my own property within my own sphere, equally prohibits any use of it to the injury of another. The same formula would regulate the acquisition of property. I may acquire as much as I please at my own cost, but if I steal another’s I acquire it at his “cost,” which is a violation of his sovereignty and of the formula. Again, had society been formed under the influence of such a regulating principle, Mr. James and his readers might have been spared his coarse allusion to seduction. No one whose habits had been formed upon this simple but sublime principle, would ever think of involving “a neighbor’s daughter,” nor any other person, in suffering by the pursuit of his happiness. This would be acting at their “cost,” instead of his own; it would be a violation of their Sovereignty and of the formula. When a strict and sacred regard to the “sovereignty of the individual” shall begin to regulate the acts of mankind, innocence and confiding love will begin to be safe, and find protectors in all who surround them. Thus, the readers of Mr. James (if not Mr. James himself) will see that this simple formula, which he says “is as old as the foundation of the world,” opens to view a plane of morality as much higher than the vision of Mr. James as it is new and necessary to the world.
* I cannot, perhaps, better close this controversy than by the insertion of the following Communication suggested by it, and which will show how differently the Doctrine of “The Sovereignty of the Individual” lies in some people’s minds from what it appears to do in the minds of Mr. Greeley and Mr. James. – S. P. A.
Love and Home.
Is love communistic or individualistic? Let us see.
I can find nothing in love but desire. All those complicated feelings and expressions to which we give the generic name love have reference only to this. What a man needs, or thinks he needs, he desires, and that desire — as felt, expressed, and gratified — is called a love. Whether it be God, or gold, or wisdom, or wine, or woman that is desired, it is the same. Back of the love will always be found a need, real or imagined, and love is strictly only the egoistic impulse to satisfy that need. Therefore love in its origin is egoistic — for the individual.
The objector points to the love of parents for offspring, and indeed all forms of altruistic love, as disproving this, but the objection only reveals that misunderstanding which has made so many minds despise and reject egoism,— that partial knowledge which fails to perceive the relation between stem and fruit. It is the natural evolution of egoism to blossom constantly into altruism,— altruism being only a part, form, or expression of complete egoism.
Egoism is that central necessity in nature which makes every unit provide for and preserve itself. But sooner or later each self becomes conscious that its prosperity and security could be increased by the aid of other neighboring selves. These neighboring selves reaching the same conclusion, reciprocity springs up as a matter of course, with all beautiful results of peace, helpfulness, and mutual insurance. It being discovered in time that those are most willingly and certainly helped who most willingly and reliably help, sentiments of altruism, or care for others, cannot help springing up and growing and intensifying, till they become inherited and passionate instincts having no conscious reference to their origin. Thus altruism is revealed in its beginning and action as an invention — a moral machine — for egoistic benefit. And it thus becomes clear how the instinct of unselfish love originated and becomes stronger from generation to generation: it is because egoistic love thus most perfectly satisfies its need, and secures the service it craves. It is more blessed to give than receive simply because the one who gives the most receives the most, and the tendency is always to a return larger than the gift.
But this is not all. Nature is after all one,— an individual in itself, we may say,— and the universal connectedness is continually making itself felt. A strange sympathy, as we call it, seems to unite especially those structures composed of similar materials and on the same plane of action. Rays of unseen influence are continually passing and repassing from one thing to another, producing similar action in both, and making two or more act and react for the time as one; in other words, sympathy is an extension or enlargement of the individual. In the case of parent and child this union was but recently one of physiological fact, and the similarity of nervous structure is so close that the currents of sympathy flow with peculiar ease. The separation is hardly realized; parent and child constitute one self; and the mother’s consciousness and sensitiveness in that direction having been peculiarly developed and intensified during pregnancy, she resists instinctively an injury done her child because she feels it as an injury done herself.
As each love relates to a need, so what we call Love, in the supreme sense, relates to our greatest and most intensely felt need, and in a certain sense to all our needs collectively. We each need a friend; a friend whom we may utterly trust; a friend whom nature and education have fitted to understand our secret desires better than we can express them, and, before we express them, to appreciate them, to be willing and anxious to satisfy them, with power to satisfy them, and who does satisfy them. This is our great and tremendous need, and we dream dreams continually of one who shall do all this for us. And whenever we meet a person of our own or the opposite sex who appears at all capable of realizing our ideal and administering to this our need, the heart leaps up, and straightway we fall in love with that person; and nothing but conviction that we are mistaken, or complete satisfaction from another source, can shake or abate that love. And, in proportion as we are lovely or loveable ourselves, we instinctively and intensely desire to be to this our lover what we desire him or her to be to us,— a city of refuge, a haven of repose, a paradise of pleasure, an indispensable friend. Love between human beings, then, demands complete satisfaction of the supreme needs and perfect sympathy,— that is, demands a lover who shall so completely feel and satisfy our wants as to be really a part of ourselves,— ourself.
And this is a fact. Closeness is the most significant word in the vocabulary of love. Whether love is on the physical or the mental plane, or all planes, it equally and always demands contact, fusion, utter blending and unity as its complete expression. “And they twain shall be one flesh” [and spirit].
“What now!” cries the pestilent objector; “have you not reached communism?” Yes, this is communism. Love is the root of communism, and communism is the fruit of love. Be not amazed. Everything is good in its place, and communism equally with the rest. The trouble with communism is that its admirers are continually trying to produce the fruit without the root, or else to produce the fruit before the root is ready, or to produce more fruit than the root will support. Communism has no normal place except between lovers, and while love lasts. There is indeed a communism which is the result of force; that intercourse with a woman which I may have as the fruit of love I may also have as the fruit of rape, but it is not the same thing in its spirit or its results; the communism of love is altogether joy, but every alternate heart-beat of the communism of force is a throb of disgust and agony.
And now we are in a position to understand why communism is worthless as a constitution of society. Communism is not a basis, a root, but a supergrowth, an efflorescence. Communism is all right in any company so long as all the members are so full of sympathy for each other as to be practically one individual, where their desires and ambitions are the same, where the mutual trust is perfect, where they are satisfied with each other’s conduct, and where altruistic love is so complete that an injury or benefit to one is felt as an injury or benefit to all. Given this, communism is all right, and the conditions are not quite so utopian as they sound. Every day and everywhere people group themselves together who, for a time, realize all this, and in a society whose constitution was a pure and equitable individualism there would be ten times better chances for such grouping than now, and these flowers of communism would bloom everywhere and bear fruit of joy.
But any attempt to preserve these flowers is to kill them; they may retain their form and apparent beauty, but they are dead, and there is no pleasure in them. Human beings are not perfect, and it is utopian to suppose they ever will be; they are not alike, and never can be. Therefore any attempt to stiffen communism into systems or institutions is to strap straight-jackets on human flesh. For the moment any group of two or more people begin to lose sympathy for each other, to distrust each other, or even to have different purposes and paths in life, in that moment the community fails, and the parts naturally tend to resolve themselves into their separate individualities; and any arrangement which they may have foolishly made to perpetuate their communism becomes at once an instrument of slavery,— a bit in the mouth of one, a rein in the hands of another.
Nothing in the world is more natural, spontaneous, delightful than that two lovers should rush together, share everything, indulge their generous impulses, and find passionate bliss in the contact, blending, and communism of body, soul, and fortune.
But to petrify this natural and charming impulse, dependent upon the satisfaction of its own necessities for normal growth and results, into the institution of a communistic home is to seat the devil in paradise. It is like saying, because normal growth of a stalk of corn includes an upward movement of so many lines, or inches, per day, that, therefore, you will secure normal growth by pulling it up that number of lines, or inches, per day.
Altruistic love and communism, we have just seen, are inventions for the benefit of the ego. But, if these run to excess, they become destructive of the ego, and defeat their own ends. It is blessed to give, but it is not blessed to give everything and receive nothing; it is blessed to share, it is accursed to share when you are unwilling.
It is obvious then, that, if love would be normal and truly satisfy the needs which give it being, it must be left freely to the movement of its own impulses, to the guidance and check of its own intellect. To petrify any of those impulses, or checks, into institutions or laws, is to pull up or smother down, to destroy the life of love. The safety and beneficence of communism in love — all communism — depends wholly upon its spontaneity, and upon the perfect liberty of the lovers at any time and all times to resolve their communism into equitable individualism, upon the recognition of individual ownership as the basis and as the standard by which all differences are to be adjusted.
The home is not a bake-shop, a restaurant, a laundry, a workshop of any kind; it is not a nursery; in the future division of labor all these things will be outside of the home. The home is the palace and temple of the individual; the sanitary bit of solitude in which he finds healthful balance against the weight of society, and opportunity to become acquainted with himself; the studio in which he worships his Ideal Self, chips and chisels his personality, and paints himself on the wall,— his eyrie, his refuge, his repose, his kingdom. In other words, like his altruism and his communism, his home is an invention to benefit and develop himself. Homes, then, being gardens in which individuals cultivate and grow themselves, there should be no jumbling of them together. To come into a home where masculine and feminine aspirations are confusedly manifested should arouse in a person of good taste the same disgust or ridicule which would now be expressed to see a man partly arrayed in his wife’s garment’s. A man’s home should express only himself.
No matter how much commerce and travel there may be between the home of a man and the home of a woman,— and I care not how much,— the two homes should be as separate as the two physical individuals. All the charm, the surprise, the humor, the picturesqueuess, the progress, of life depend upon the evolution, preservation, and emphasis of individualities. What trust and delight can there not be in the relations of lovers, when the consummation of love gives no legal power over the person, the pocketbook, or the arrangements of home?
And now for the sneer: “A pretty home a man’s would be without the care of a woman’s hand.” The critic forgets that all questions pertaining to Anarchy are more or less ideal questions. Anarchy as yet is not; nor can anything belonging to it have any fair expression or normal growth under the present social system. I am continually amazed at free lovers, free traders, and the like, who sneer at Anarchy as impracticable, not realizing that, until Anarchy comes, free love and free trade are impossible, or possible only in an isolated, momentary, fragmentary way. Marriage and the communal home are necessary parts of the present system, legitimate products of its evolution, and to touch them is to stir the hornet’s nest. They cannot be abolished till the whole present social system, us an inward superstition and an outward despotism, is abolished. But the first steps can be taken, and we are taking them.
I hate marriage and all forced communism; I hate taxes, interest, rents, profits, laws. What then? I have been married, kept a communal home, paid taxes, interest, rent, profits; worse, I have taken interest, rent, and profits; I have obeyed and used law; and all these things I may do again. What then, I say? Consistency is a jewel, which, if valuable enough, will cost a man his life. Some men serve best by dying, but that will hardly apply to all. The average man, if he would be of any use, must at least live, and will wisely choose that course which enables him to do the most harm to his foe, with the least risk to himself. I have a profound admiration for that hero who ran away in order to fight another day. A brave man is not obliged to be a fool to prove it.
So, then, I find no fault with those who, as the least of evils, under the present regime, marry and link homes. I ask only that they shall clearly admit their compromises, and conceal not the truth of a better way. It is, indeed, something from which any thoughtful and chivalrous man might shrink to ask the woman he loves to enter a life of free love and separatism, and thus cut herself off from all social love, honor, and friendship, and pit herself single-handed against the whips and tortures of the whole world, in a pitiless life-long battle. It is for each human being to form an inventory of his own military resources, and, in view of their magnitude or insignificance, decide for himself what and how many points he will defend against that invasive social and political tyranny which holds us all in the hollow of its hand and is able to crush any of us, if its might is once fully exerted against us. In the light of this digression, let us return to the criticism.
I admit that under the present system the attempt to establish separate homes would usually be more disastrous than to outwardly acquiesce in the customary arrangement. Here and there, in favored spots, favored individuals may realize the ideal of free-love and free-homes; but for the average poor man or woman, obliged to labor ten or more hours per day to exist, and dependent upon the good-will of the community for even the permission to labor at all, with no spare means to defend against legal and illegal brutalities, and no division of labor to assist in its execution, it is clearly impossible. In other words, we cannot pluck the blossoms and fruit of Liberty until the tree itself has had time to grow.
In order to make separate homes comfortably possible, it seems to me that the following is necessary: First, a grouping of human beings, either in contiguous houses or in large hotels; secondly, a freedom, division, and spontaneous organization of labor which makes it unnecessary for any human being to labor more than half of the daylight hours, at the most, and which takes cooking, laundry work, and housekeeping, out of the hands of the home-holder, and the care and education of the child (to any desired extent) out of the hands of the parent. A man could then place his housekeeping in the hands of an artistic specialist, who would visit his rooms at certain hours, and arrange everything in accordance with the expressed desires, and individual taste, of the owner.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
Westfield, New Jersey, October 27, 1888.
Virgil on the Spoliation of Labor.
[Notes and Queries.]
The origin of the phrase, Sic vos non vobis, is this. Virgil wrote a distich in praise of Caesar, which was claimed by a poet named Bathyllus; Virgil, angry, wrote beneath the distich the lines:
“Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores;
Sic vos non vobis———
Sic vos non vobis———
Sic vos non vobis———
Sic vos non vobis———
Caesar asked Bathyllus if he could finish the lines, but he couldn’t. Virgil then stepped up, and said he could. So he finished them thus:
———fertis aratra boves;
———vellera fortis oves;
The translation of the five lines is: “These lines made I, another steals my honors; so you for others, oxen, bear the yoke; so you for others, bees, store up your honey; so you for others, sheep, put on your fleece; so you for others, birds, construct your nests.”
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.