“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.
What is the matter with Depew? Has he become a “calamity croaker”? Speaking of London, he said: “I felt that this great city, with its magnificent palaces, with every evidence in part of it of the largest wealth, the greatest luxury, the most liberal expenditure, rested upon a volcano which only needed the force of civilization to bring upon it a catastrophe which would shock the world.” This was the impression made upon him by “the misery, the wretchedness, the seething furnace of ignorance” of certain parts of London. What is true of London is true of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and every large city in our own country, as a visit to certain parts of either of these cities can show. It is surely impolitic to speak in such fashion, especially during a political campaign in which the Republican tariff is a principal issue.
The New York “Tribune’s” literary editor, after indicating the points in which the latest and final edition of Mr. Spencer’s miscellaneous essays differs from former editions, excuses himself from speaking of the essays themselves. “Their importance, originality, clearness of argument, and charm of style,” he says, “‘have long since been familiar in our mouths as household words.’” Everybody knows that the “Tribune” advocates nothing, or almost nothing, which can be justified from the point of view of Spencerian politics. If Spencer is right, the “Tribune” is wrong, and if the “Tribune” is sound, Spencer’s views must be denounced as false and dangerous. Now, the reviewer does not frankly and formally endorse the Spencerian ideas; but in saying that they are important and original, and that the arguments are clear, he uses language which no editorial writer for his paper would ever think of using in the same connection. The “Tribune” is an ardent protectionist. Spencer is an ardent free-trader, and tells the protectionists that they ought to call themselves aggressionists. Does the “Tribune” consider this clear, original, and important?
One of the women delegates at the recent Newcastle Labor Congress said with reference to the “equal work, equal wages” demand that, “if it was contended that women who did men’s work should have the same pay, it meant driving the women out.” If our labor reformers hope, with Sidney Webb, that the female wageworkers, when they are properly organized, will enthusiastically and persistently demand equal pay with men, they are doomed to disappointment. If not common sense, then a little experience is sure to teach them the danger of such action. While the conditions of the male labor market remain unchanged, it is useless for women to attempt to coerce employers into paying them the same wages they pay to men. There are those who think that the labor reformers are not sincere, and that under the eloquent plea of justice for women lies a sinister conspiracy to drive the women workers from the field altogether. I cannot share this view of the matter; but, whatever the motives of the advocates, the consequences of the agitation for “equal work, equal wages,” are certain to prove disastrous to the women wageworkers. As their lot at present is not a happy one, it would be cruel to increase their miseries.
The Memphis (Tenn.) “Commercial” relishes Liberty’s paragraphic criticism of the Alliance leaders’ treatment of Mr. Westrup and his financial plan, and takes occasion to say that it regards mutual and free banking more feasible and commercially valuable than the sub-treasury scheme. But it would be a mistake to think that the “Commercial” endorses Mr. Westrup’s plan. No; it has an objection to make, and a very peculiar one. It says of Mr. Westrup’s plan: “It is liable to the objection of the government’s connection with it.” This refers to the provision for a State-appointed appraiser to certify in all cases that the security offered is good and worth more than the sum sought to be borrowed. The “Commercial” may be gratified to learn that believers in free banking agree with it in considering this a grave objection. If some favor the provision, it is merely as an additional and temporary safeguard devised for the benefit of the timid and liberty-fearing business men who must be gradually taught to dispense with government aid and supervision. “The thorough-going Democratic idea that the government should not in any way be connected with banks or banking is best,” continues the “Commercial.” Decidedly, say we; and we are glad to have the support of the “Commercial” in our demand for perfect freedom in banking. But — does not the “Commercial,” perchance, imagine that the “Democratic idea” is fully realized now, and that the government has no connection with banking or bankers under prevalent financial arrangements? In other words, does not the “Commercial” think that we have free banking now, and that Mr. Westrup and the Alliance seek to make banking less free? Certain remarks of the editor about “constitutional limitations” of the government’s concern with business produce the impression that the “Commercial” wants to retain the present financial system, which it mistakes for a free system, and is not really prepared to declare for absolute freedom in banking and note-issuing. Is the impression false?
The mossback who has charge of the Boston “Herald’s” review department has recently perpetrated an outrage in the form of a criticism upon a new volume from the Russian. Here is what he said. “There are two Stories in ‘In Two Moods,’ asserted on the title page to be the work of Stepniak and William Westall, and in the preface to be written by Korolenko, but neither is of great consequence, except as a betrayal of the unbridled nature of Russian sentimentalism. The university student, living under any flag, is almost invariably a creature suffering from undigested knowledge, and plunging into all manner of extravagances and foolishness, but it is only when he is Russian that his escapades are supposed to indicate anything but his own deficiency in common sense and worldly wisdom. In Russia, partly because of lax paternal government, partly because of his own un-scrupulousness and his magnificent indifference to veracity, he has repeatedly become dangerous to the common weal, has been used as the catspaw of conspirators, and has become the darling of sentimental political novelists. Regarded without prejudice, he is mildly ridiculous, even when he is most mischievous, and the seriousness with which he contemplates himself inclines one to believe that a small body of educational missionaries, pledged to the practices of Keats, or even of Creakle, would do infinite good in Holy Russia. Naturally, Stepniak profoundly admires the student, his cheap cynicism, his argumentativeness, his dislike of authority, and all his other attributes, and in a very cleverly worded preface impresses his view upon the reader, who, it is to be hoped, will not thereby be deterred from using his own insight, or prevented from seeing that the Russian student is simply Jonathan Harvard, or John Oxford, minus Anglo-Saxon civilization and plus Tartar instincts and Russian physical defects. The two stories make a book harmful or useful, according to the reader’s willingness to accept Stepniak’s guidance, or his firmness in refusing to be influenced by a person exiled for good reasons and desirous of justifying himself.” “Lax paternal government” in Russia is good. The reference to Stepniak as a person exiled for good reasons unmistakably shows the influence of “Anglo-Saxon civilization.” The Russian student is indeed ridiculous. Instead of being intensely interested in races, games, and equally fit pursuits, he studies philosophy, economy, political science, history, and engages in practical political movements. A man who argues is never favorably regarded by mossbacks; and when the man is a student and dislikes authority, he is worse than a Tartar.
Another Editor Favors Free Banking.
Liberty, the well-known free-lance weekly published in Boston by Benjamin R. Tucker, the agnostic book, pamphlet, and newspaper publisher, editor, and essayist, in the current edition asks: “Is it not a little singular that the organs of the Farmer’s Alliance religiously refrain from criticising, considering, or even mentioning the plan of free mutual banking brought to the attention of the Alliance leaders by Mr. Westrup? It surely cannot be beneath the dignity of the financial authorities of the Alliance to examine a plan which such papers as the New York ‘Nation’ and ‘Sun’ have deemed deserving of favorable notice. One cannot expel the suspicion that the leaders of the Alliance are primarily politicians and office-seekers, and but secondarily financial reformers, and that the absence of politics from mutual banking makes that plan exceedingly distasteful to them.” Mr. Westrup explained his plan in a pamphlet which has had a wide circulation, but wider notice from the press. It is the establishment of banks with land for a basis of circulation, an appraiser appointed by the State, in all cases to certify that it is worth more than the money sought to be borrowed from the federal or State government upon it as security. “This,” the Galveston “News,” in an editorial criticising the objections to this plan offered by the Cleveland “World,” “was provided for by Proudhon and by Greene, Warren, Spooner, and others who preceded Mr. Westrup many years in the advocacy of a great truth which is just now coming into something like appreciation, chiefly through the course of events, and Mr. Westrup of course also expects to have a strict valuation of property precedent to a loan.” We must not be understood as endorsing this plan. We merely call attention to it as more feasible, because more commercially valuable, than the communistic heresy known as the sub-treasury scheme. But, like that heresy, it is liable to the objection of the government’s connection with it. The thorough-going Democratic idea that the government should not in any way be connected with banks or banking is best. It ought not to have any business to attend to but that which legitimately falls to it under its constitutional limitations. The moment it gets outside of these safeguards it is by so much on the way to the communism which contemplates the government ownership of railroads, which in time would justify the ownership of steam and canal boats and steamships and the yards and shops necessary to their repair and construction.
“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.
E. C. Walker, formerly editor of “Fair Play” and now a regular contributor to the columns of Liberty, is also an authorized agent for Liberty and for all books and pamphlets published by Benj. R. Tucker.
A New Book Given Away With Each Renewal. — Payment of subscriptions and of renewals is required in advance. The names of subscribers not heard from within two weeks after expiration of subscription are removed from the list. But to every subscriber who sends his renewal for one year, accompanied by the cash, so that it reaches the publisher not later than two weeks after it is due, will be sent, postpaid, any book published in the United States that the subscriber may select, provided that its retail price does not exceed 50 cents if published by Benj. R. Tucker, or 25 cents if published by any other publisher. This is a permanent offer, and enables every promptly-paying subscriber to get a new book each year free of cost. But only one book will be given at a time, no matter how low the price of the book selected.
Liberty and Boycotting.
“Dictators,” cries Kate Field, “must go — whether of high degree or of low — before this land will be in fact what it is in theory.” And she goes on to say:
Monopolies dictate; trade unions dictate. A friend of mine told me the other day that he had joined the Knights of Labor and advised me to become a member of that order. I cannot join an organization that orders boycotts, or that prohibits honest men not within it from earning a living. Trade unions are admirable except when they interfere with personal rights and privileges, such as should be guaranteed to every citizen of a republic. I cannot be in sympathy with organizations that set their faces and their hands against trade schools, and declare that boys and girls shall not be trained in certain vocations.
There are sound arguments and wretched fallacies on both sides of this problem of the relations of capital and labor. Boycotting on either side is detestable and outrageous. It should be un-American, for it is un-republican, and America ought to be, even if it is not, a republic.
Miss Field is not compelled by law to join either the labor or the capital organizations. She is sensible to refuse to coöperate with people whose objects and methods she disapproves. If boycotting seems to her an objectionable method, she is perfectly justified in discouraging the use of it by means not invasive in themselves. But, while such adjectives as “outrageous” and “detestable” may express her own feelings, the adjective “unrepublican” expresses something more, and one may properly ask for the logical argument by which Miss Field arrives at the stated conclusion. Why is boycotting unrepublican? Because boycotters dictate, will probably be said. But surely dictation is not unrepublican. Do not Republics, or Republican governments, dictate? The absence of all dictation means the absence of all government, the absence of all laws not unanimously and freely endorsed by the whole body of citizens. On the other hand, Miss Field cannot possibly object to boycotting because it is unofficial, non-legal dictation. Such an objection would imply a desire for a most un-republican, most despotic government. Miss Field is not a State Socialist, and is not advocating absolute submission of individuals to government. She would allow employers to dictate terms to employees, and she would allow employees to dictate terms to employers. She believes in free contract, and free contract involves dictation.
Dictation in itself is neither good nor bad. The question is generally as to whether the terms dictated and the methods employed in securing compliance are invasive or not, — are warranted by the principle of equal liberty; or not. To show that dictation is bad, it must be shown that the dictators are seeking to impose terms, or enforce conditions, which they cannot legitimately enforce or impose under equal liberty. In some cases, the terms themselves are not invasive, but the means whereby the dictators are placed in the position to enforce them are invasive. The government is invasive in dictating the conditions upon which men shall effect their exchanges and purchase the articles of consumption. Nearly all its financial and commercial legislation is invasive, and its dictation is thus far bad. But the laws against murder and theft, while they are dictated by the government in the same way that the aforesaid laws are dictated, cannot be reprobated by those who believe in equal liberty. The criminal, when made to suffer the penalty attached to his act, is not sympathized with in his complaint or objection to dictation, while those who understand equal liberty do sympathize with the victims of invasive legislation in their objection to certain dictation. As to the dictation of monopolies, the first thing to settle is whether the monopolies are legally-created or not. We object to the dictation of legally-supported monopolies because the government, by invading our liberties, creates the conditions essential to the maintenance of these monopolies. Where competition is free, there is always a remedy at hand against any evil action or dictation on the part of private parties.
The boycott is not a weapon of invasion and invaders. It may be used prudently or recklessly, wisely or foolishly; but it cannot be used invasively. It would be a cause for general rejoicing and congratulation if the boycott should come into general use to the exclusion of the practice of appealing to legislators for special and invasive legislation. When the farmers of a Texas town determined to boycott the town of Ladonia because the authorities of that town had seized and sold three horses belonging to a member of the Farmer’s Alliance of Texas, in compliance with an ordinance prohibiting stock from running at large within town limits, they proposed no acts of invasion. If they are injured, or imagine themselves injured, by ordinances in force in a given town, they are justified in withdrawing their patronage from the people of the offending town, knowing that, if their patronage is valuable, the ordinances obnoxious to them will be speedily suspended or repealed. What manlier, more “American” course could they take? Or take the instance afforded by the citizens and physicians of the town of Stuttgart, in Arkansas. The disinclination of the citizens to pay their bills promptly led the physicians to form an organization for their protection. They inserted a provision in their by-laws prohibiting any member of the organization from responding to a call sent in by a person whose name appears on the bad-pay list. Instead of asking the legislators to compel prompt settlement, the physicians determined to boycott the delinquent citizens and thus bring them to time. The victory would have been theirs, had not the boycotted citizens induced their neighbors and sympathizers to institute a general boycott against the members of the organization and compel them to strike out the objectionable clause. The citizens are likely to carry the day, and the doctors will console themselves with the reflection that tardy payments are better than none at all. But who can say the fight is not fair and manly? The by-stander feels that personal liberty is safe in the hands of either party. Not so in the case of the doctors in this and other States who ask the legislators to suppress the “quacks,” and who doubtless agree with Miss Field that the boycott is un-American. They are conspiring to overthrow certain liberties of the so-called quacks and their patrons, and it is necessary to watch them unceasingly. Is Miss Field anxious to preserve and increase the sphere of personal liberty? Then her have the legislation-begging physicians offended. As for those who rely upon the boycott and similar non-invasive weapons, none have they offended. V. Y.
In a story in one of the popular family papers I find this bit of profound moralizing.
“Ain’t it first-rate that folks can get married?” said Jonas, soberly. “I never thought anything about it till I come to want you. Now just think o’ there being a law o’ the State that folks that wants each other can have each other for good an’ all. It seemed queer when I began to think about that.”
This quaintly but accurately expresses the idea of the masses concerning the relations of the individual and the government. In the State we live, in the State we move, in the State we have our being. To our Yankee lover there was no absurdity in the “law o’ the State” which presumes to say whether or not “folks that wants each other can have each other for good an’ all.” His only surprise is that the State should graciously grant so very much to its chattels. Should the “law o’ the State” kindly grant him the privilege of going just ten miles from his birthplace upon arriving at a certain age his surprise and his gratitude would be equally great. The author of this story has in one paragraph depicted for us the typical modern American. Jonathan is not miserable and rebellious because the State supervises and restricts his activities in nine out of each ten directions; on the contrary, he is supremely happy and abjectly grateful because his grandmother State does not supervise and restrict him in all directions.
In a late number of the “New Nation” Edward Bellamy criticises the attitude and arguments of Herbert Spencer and Frederick Harrison upon the question of woman’s rights. Near the end of his article Mr. Bellamy says:
We say frankly that if we did not regard the agitation for woman suffrage as a step toward Nationalism and destined to end in it, we should feel very slight interest in it.
In other words, Mr. Bellamy would give woman what is called political liberty only on condition that she use it in assisting him in alienating all the liberties of both men and women. The gentleman is charmingly frank, and I thank him for revealing to us his real animus. It would tend to simplify several problems if the preachers would emulate his candor. It is less than two decades ago that, as a class, they strenuously opposed the political emancipation (so-called) of woman. Suddenly they faced about and became the loudest-voiced champions of the cause. Why this almost “lightning change.”? Simply this: They thought they had discovered that the unreasoning moralism and blind religious fanaticism of the majority of women would enable them, the “spiritual guides” of the people, to force prohibitory, Sabbath-sanctity, and kindred legislation down the throats of the protesting majority of men. Now let the preachers join forces with the Nationalists under the leadership of Edward Bellamy and woman may sit upon the throne of Authority and the nation become the foretold heaven of Christian Socialism, filled with machine-finished automatons.
A Boston “Home Journal” writer remarks, speaking of the relations of George Sand and Frederic Chopin, that “The separation that occurred after a quarrel was a result to be expected of a union unsanctioned by God and man.” This seems to finally dispose, off-hand, of a momentous social problem, until our sluggish memories recall the fact that each year witnesses the formal or informal separation of some thousands of couples who were united with the sanction of man and presumably with that of God also, as his ambassadors almost invariably directly or indirectly assisted at the nuptial ceremonies. There must be a hitch somewhere in the essayist’s logic. The same writer says of George Sand’s social theories: “We need not touch upon her erroneous views of the marriage tie. In this land of the Puritan there is only the voice of condemnation of such views.” From which it would be safe to infer that this lady is unaware of the fact that “this land of the Puritan” is the birthplace of the intellectual and ethical revolt which now throughout the Union challenges the very right to live of the worse than peculiar institution which George Sand repudiated.
Mrs. Kendal says that in America the press is irreproachable, but in England the critics are not to be relied upon.
Mrs. Kendal must have been trying to flatter our patriotism, or more probably the first half of the above paragraph was “writ sarcastic.”
San Francisco, Oct. 14. — Recently a story came from the north of the murder of a white man at Point Hope by natives and of the terrible revenge taken by his comrades. The facts of the case have just come by letter from Oualaska. It seems that the crime and retribution occurred at Point Harrow, a whaling station, which is the farthest north of all places inhabited by white men. It seems that a Portuguese named Manual was one of the white men employed at a steam whaling station at Point Barrow. He became enamored of a squaw and induced the woman to live with him. The native husband objected to this and took the woman away by force. Soon after the husband went on a deer-hunting expedition, and during his absence the woman again went to live with Manual. When the husband returned, he went with a rifle to Manual’s but and seized the woman. Just then Manual and a friend appeared. They threw the Indian out of the house, whereupon the enraged man raised his rifle and blew Manual’s brains out. When the white men learned of the shooting, they went to the Indian’s house, dragged him out, and tied him up by the thumbs to a flagstaff. The poor fellow begged for mercy, declaring he had done only what any of them would have done under similar circumstances, as he was mad with jealousy and had been abused by the man who stole his squaw. Despite his pleas the white men formed a line about seventy-five feet from him, and then literally riddled his body with bullets.
Nowadays it is very frequently pointed out that we have two standards of sexual morality, one for men and another for women. From the above it would appear that we are equally at sea in regard to what is the proper treatment of the lovers of other men’s wives. In the States white men sitting on juries almost without exception vote for the acquittal of husbands who have murdered the lovers of their legal sex associates, while in Alaska they torture and shoot to death the Indian husband who is guilty of the same crime. What is the cause of this difference in the treatment of men who have “avenged their insulted honor”? Are the white men in Alaska wiser and more just than those in the States, as this killing at Point Hope would on the surface seem to indicate? Or, did the remaining white men kill the slayer of their comrade, not because he, an “outraged husband,” had murdered the lover of his wife, but because he, an Indian, had killed one of the members of a “superior” race? I am sorry to say that the latter solution seems the more probable. In either view, the affair forcibly illustrates the humanizing effects of “civilization.”
An editorial writer in the Boston “Herald” says that upon the occasion of his last visit in James Parton’s home at Newburyport Mr. Parton “surprised” him by saying:
I have changed my ideas about going to church. I sent my little children to the Unitarian Sunday school because it seemed to be the form of religion that had the least amount of humbug in it, and when they came to me and asked me to go to church with them, I felt as if it was a personal call through these children from a higher source. I have been to church ever since. It is true that I go where the belief is as simple as possible, but I find great comfort and help in it. I have missed a great deal by not going to church in my earlier days. It is wonderful what a ministry children exercise over their parents.
The “Herald” editor need not have been surprised at Mr. Parton’s statement. It is unfortunately true that the minds of most men weaken before their bodies die. Mind is dependent upon organization, and hence the processes of physical disintegration cannot proceed very long before the products of the brain deteriorate. Mr. Parton was not an exception to the law. The man who stopped his subscription to Liberty because this paper refused to lay an offering of adulation on “War’s red altar-stone” to appease the manes of Ulysses Grant was easily capable of finding in the invitation of his children to attend church a call “from a higher source,” and his plaint that he missed much by not attending church in his earlier days is natural and not in the least difficult to understand. He did not feel the need of the church in the days of his strength. As weakness came on apace he needs must lean on something and his human sympathy with his children took him to their playground, and to their nursery in the church. The fables that awed them soothed him, and so he foolishly fancied that he had needed the same drugged wine of superstition in the years of his physical and mental virility. But he had not. It was a sad and saddening illusion of decrepitude which may afflict any or all of us before our lives close.
Two music boxes that wouldn’t wind up were found by New York customs officials to be stuffed with silks and jewels. The tariff is a great help to the devil. — Boston Herald.
If deceit is fittingly personified by “the devil,” then it is true that the tariff is a great help to his majesty. And the same is true of prohibitory laws, Sunday statutes, marriage laws, internal revenue taxes, and multitudes of other paternalistic enactments. When the law stigmatizes as crimes perfectly legitimate acts, it opens the door to all kinds and depths of deceit and duplicity. The “Herald,” if it were the truly independent paper it claims to be, would have added that smuggling is a law-made crime, therefore no crime at all, and that the smuggler is the friend and benefactor of his race, because he helps to keep alive the spirit of non-conformity, of liberty, without which ethical growth and health are impossible. But the “Herald” did not dare say that; perhaps it did not think it, even. Inability to think correctly is often a result of the fear to speak truly. E. C. Walker.
Four prominent daily papers are now advocating free banking, — the Galveston “News,” the Detroit “News,” the Atlanta “Constitution,” and the Memphis “Commercial.” Ten years ago there was not one; ten years hence there will be fifty.
Mackay’s new book, “The Anarchists,” is now ready in English. In my opinion its publication will prove an important event. Those desiring the book should read the advertisement in another column.
By George Forrest.
“The world knows not the names of those who scorn the world,” says George Moore in his beautiful sketch of Cabaner, and it is true. It knows only the shrewd, who sweep from it the cash prizes; it knows only the successful. It gives wealth to those who pander to its prejudices; but to the few who will not stoop to make a commerce of their genius, it gives despair and death.... They are buried and forgotten.
Forgotten — But their memory lives in the minds of the few whom they influence; and they become an ideal for minds less pure than theirs; minds that are better able to fight the world for being tainted by what the world dubs worldly wisdom.
Such an unknown genius was my friend.
When I became acquainted with him, he was about twenty-four years old, and two years my senior. He had arrived from Germany the same year, and was earning a living in the new world by teaching languages. His appearance was very impressive: tall and dark, with slender physique, hair of intense blackness, heavy, and disorderly, thrown back from his forehead; light-colored eyes, that were alternately smiling and sad; and lips, tightly closed, with an expression of exquisite refinement.
I first saw him in a public library, of whose reading room I was a constant frequenter, and instantly determined to know him. He had one of the foreign magazines before him, and was evidently deeply interested. He could not see me from where he sat, so I changed my chair and took a seat at another table, almost directly in front of him. I picked up the magazine before me, but as it happened to be a German periodical, I could not read it; so I made a pretence. I knew he had noticed me, and once, when I looked up, our eyes met —
Strange, is it not, how one becomes attracted by a stranger. Frequently it happens that one, while in the theatre or public hall, or on the street, notices a face which appeals to him; one turns to look, the other is looking also; then, perhaps, they never see each other again. Each sees in the other a feeling which answers to his own: they recognize each other as comrades.
Such was the way I felt towards him that night.
Our eyes had met thus several times, and the knowledge of my guilt, and the awkwardness of my attempt to show that I was interested in the magazine, not a single word in which I could understand, made me uncomfortable, and I was getting a trifle red in the face. I knew he was watching me closely, and I feared to raise my eyes. I wished for an excuse for speaking to him; so I asked him to hand me a magazine which he had just laid aside. He did so, very politely, at the same time saying a few words about an article which it contained. I was overjoyed, and replied to him, and, after a short conversation, confessed that I had wished much to become acquainted with him. That night we left the library together, and as we walked along the street, we conversed about the articles in the magazines, some of which wore on modern social questions, — the relations of capital and labor, and such, — and on literary matters.
It was a most beautiful night, in the early spring; a crescent moon was in the western sky, and the stars shone’gainst the soft blue, bright as on those frosty winter nights which fill the sky with brilliants. The air was deliciously soft and cooling. It was just the night for a walk on the boulevard, and it was not long before we had become intimate. Our reading bad been much in the same line, and on the social question we agreed perfectly.
His manner was perfect, — fascinating. As I listened to him saying things which I had long thought and felt, but never dared to speak, he won me completely; and from that night I was his best friend. At that time I was much discouraged, with but little money, and had almost decided to accept a position on a daily journal, where I would have to write hypocritical articles to suit the editor.
But the manner in which he spoke that night deterred me, and I remained honest.
In our walk we had reached one of the broad squares, and we walked over the grass to a bench under a large tree and sat down. The outer edge of the square, on one of the busy streets, was noisy and crowded; the horse-cars went tinkling by every few minutes, and on the opposite side of the street the open doors of the stores, cafés, and saloons threw streams of light on the pavements, and on the busy crowd hurrying in opposite directions; but where we sat all was quiet. I had been speaking for some time as we walked along, telling him how hard it was to get along, and passing stray remarks upon the uselessness of life in general. After we had been seated a few moments he began to speak.
“I know how you feel,” he said, speaking with a very slight German accent. “We all feel the same at times. We see no good in anything. All attempt to change conditions is useless. Even if we succeeded in making conditions equal on earth, what does it amount to? force rules; something may happen on our sun and the world goes to smash; force rules. Why not ourselves use force and be like the rest; become hypocrites if it pays, swindlers if it pays, politicians if it pays; the world will go to smash some day, anyway, and crush out all; why not we crush out as much as in our power?”
He paused for a few moments and laughed gently.
“Yes,” he continued, “and why not kill, if possible? Men will die anyway. I really cannot see why the good people do not kill each other. They will starve each other, cheat, steal, lie, become hypocrites, and even not allow each other to live; but they will not kill. Why such tenderness? It is perfectly legitimate to deprive one of the means of livelihood, and yet life is sacred!”
He turned and looked me in the face.
“Would you,” he continued, “become one of those?”
He waved his hand at the passing crowd.
“It is easy enough,” he went on; “all you have to do is pay the price — deception and tyranny are legal tenders — and you secure” (he shrugged his shoulders) — “wealth.
“Wealth — that is all. What a great prize it must be to buy it at so dear a price. You lose your self-esteem, but you gain a banknote. Liberty becomes a costly luxury, so you barter it for cash. Ah! that is wise.”
He continued speaking in such strain for some time, and in a good-humored manner; and all around us was becoming quiet. The hour was late and the streets were becoming deserted, but we hardly noticed it until we heard a church clock ring out on the stillness — twelve; then we arose from the bench.
“You will call and see me?” he asked, as we stood before parting on the street corner.
“To-morrow,” I answered.
We shook hands warmly and parted; and more than once I turned to look at his tall figure disappearing in the darkness.
After that first meeting there were few days that we did not see each other and hold long conversations. Sometimes, either in his room or mine, we would sit near the book-case and talk long into the night, arguing on social questions; or I would listen quietly while he indulged in a long philosophical monologue. Then, more than at any time before or since, did I learn the beauty of friendship, and feel that life was worth living.
We had been acquainted for some time before I began to notice a change which was taking place in hint; he was becoming melancholy. Pupils were few and poor paying, and his health was becoming poor, a heavy cough frequently shaking his tall frame; but he continued to work on as hard as ever.
When not teaching he was engaged in writing articles on social questions, and for some time he had been at work on a novel, parts of which he would read to me. Occasionally he would give me his manuscript to examine, and then we would talk on its merits. One night, after I had read the latest chapter which he had written, he discoursed at length on the novel and literature in general.
“I think,” he said, “that there is a time in the life of every refined person when it would be easy for them to write a novel of Interest, which would merely be a record of their life, or of their impressions of life. Of course, art is necessary to perfect work; but even without art it would be interesting.
“Yes, there is a time when we live so intensely on some question that every impression which we give utterance to is of interest, but if we do not write then the impressions are lost and we are no longer able to record them because we no longer feel them. I know there are artists — Tourgénieff was one — who, even in old age, can draw youth with the pen of youth; but they are rare. On the way through life they have always been artists, and every sensation which they have lived they have analyzed: their life has been a study of life. There are others who have written, with less art, perhaps, but with strength and truth, on questions which were to them of the deepest import at the time of the writing. When Olive Schreiner wrote the ‘Story of An African Farm’ she must have lived intensely — it is all youth.”
He coughed a little and his face was a trifle flushed.
“I have been talking too rapidly,” he said.
Whenever these pauses came in our conversation as the cough shook him, I felt an intense pain, which was almost physical, as I noticed how the consumption was invading him. Frequently, when I inquired anxiously as to how he felt, he would laugh loudly.
“Am I not robust?” he would say.
But he was no longer robust.
“I wonder,” he continued, “if Miss Schreiner had not written her story when she did, whether she could write it now? Perhaps she would not consider the questions as so important. We all advance in thought, and it is always the latest phase which is of most interest. Thus, as I advance, I become more interested in philosophy, and if I do not write the novel now, I might never write it, because something else would be to me more important, and I would look upon the novel merely as a work of art.”
He paused for a few moments, and then began to talk about his book. He explained the pessimistic manner in which it would end; and he was especially proud of the principal character, an Anarchistic bohemian, whom he had drawn in the background, beyond the strife and death among the mass around him.
“They will see,” he said, “that he is the only one who really lives.”
I had noticed that he was hurrying the book, working beyond his strength, because he well knew that he had not long to live. He still managed to teach a few pupils, and earned enough for his very modest wants. Every day, now, that I saw him, he was becoming weaker, and evenings as I walked home from his room, there was such a sad expression on my face, that passers-by looked pityingly at me. At night, at home in my room, I would sit by the window and look out on the darkness. Why, I know not, unless it be that darkness is akin to misery.
The end bad come and I had lost my friend.
They sent for me shortly before he died and I hurried to his room. It was Autumn; and as I sped along the street the dead leaves from the trees rustled mournfully under my feet and were wafted in my face by the strong, damp breeze. All nature seemed to me to wear an aspect of profound sadness. The sky was dark and dreary and the leaden clouds were hanging low over the barren earth.
As I walked along I thought to myself that this was the time of year that poor Claude Tillier had died, died as he desired “With the last leaf of the poplar, with the last flower of the meadow, with the last song of the birds,” and soon too would my friend return with the leaves and the flowers to the cold embrace of the earth....
When I reached his room I seated myself at his bedside, and silently he put out his baud and grasped mine. For some minutes be said nothing; finally he spoke, and there was a slight smile on his pale face:
“I am playing Bazaroff — you remember — in Tourgénieff’s novel?”
I nodded, for I remembered that death scene well.
Again there was silence for a long time; but his hand still grasped mine firmly; then again he spoke.
“You will take my manuscript?”
Again I nodded; I was afraid to speak.
His grasp on my hand did not relax, and thus, with my band in his, he died.
. . . . . . . . .
As, in after years, I look over the manuscripts which he left in my care — fragments, many; and unfinished — I think sadly of his early death, and of what he might have been had he but lived. Perhaps some day I may publish these writings left by him; by him whom I called by those two sweet words:
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.