Proprietor: BENJ. R. TUCKER, 50~ Sixth Ave., New York City
Vol. XVI-No.3 SEPTEMBER, 1907 Whole Number 399
ON PICKET DUTY
The State of New York has gone into partnership with me in the editing of Liberty. Its share of the work, however, is confined to the line that appears on this page, announcing my ownership of the periodical. Until my new associate shall use his superior powers to relieve me of further duties, all the other contents will continue to be edited by me. The power to determine the dates of publication still being mine,- by sufferance,- I may say to the reader that, returning from a business trip to Europe too late to issue an August number, I have decided to complete the six numbers for 1907 by issuing monthly till the end of the year. Next year, the State willing and nothing else preventing, Liberty will greet its readers bi-monthly, with a close approach to regularity. Query: if a man must declare that a thing is his own, is it his own?
The object of the above-mentioned business trip to Europe was to select a stock of French, German, Italian, and Spanish books of the same general tendencies as those of the books already listed in my
"Unique Catalogue of Advanced Literature," and to complete this English catalogue by the addition of such English books in the same line as do not appear in the catalogues of American publishers and importers. Having made these purchases, I have now opened a store at Number 502 Sixth avenue, near Thirtieth street, in this city, under the name of "Benj. R. Tucker's Unique Book-Shop," where these books are offered for sale. This stock constitutes unquestionably by far the largest collection of the literature that makes for "Egoism in Philosophy, Anarchism in Politics, and Iconoclasm in Art" to be found anywhere in the world, and the prices charged for the books in foreign languages are very much lower than the prices prevailing in the stores that make a specialty of foreign books. It is my intention to print a separate catalogue for each language, thereby not only facilitating mail orders, but making it easy for those visiting the shop to examine the portions of the stock that especially interest them. It will take several months to make these catalogues. Already, however, the English, French, and Italian books are being placed, and I expect to be able to offer the German books by September 15. Probably the Spanish books will not arrive much before November. An important feature of this enterprise is the possibility which it affords of obtaining all the principal progressive writers in almost any language that the reader may desire. There are other stores in New York where Ibsen, for instance, may be had both in English and in German, but there is no other where he may be had also in French, Italian, and Spanish.
A fact like this is of importance in view of the cosmopolitan character of the population of America. If the enterprise can be made self-sustaining, it will do more to spread Anarchistic thought than almost any other agency that could be devised. Therefore I urge all sympathizers not only to patronize it themselves, but to interest their acquaintances as well, especially buyers of foreign books, to whom the 19W prices will appeal. To the latter it may be pointed out that, though carrying in stock as a rule only the libertarian literature, I will import any foreign books desired, at correspondingly low prices. The book-shop will be open. from nine in the morning till eleven in the evening.
One way of effectively aiding my present plan of campaign is to buy and distribute my catalogues. An old friend of the movement has ordered, at different times, an aggregate of nearly two hundred copies of the English catalogue, paying me ten cents a copy.
Mr. Fred Schulder, of Cleveland, who became my travelling salesman last March, did very well in New York city during the spring months. His work during the summer has been a little less encouraging, partly because it has been done in small towns, which are much more difficult to canvass profitably, and partly because so many people are away from home in the hot weather. Early in September Mr. SchuIder will go to Philadelphia for a stay of several weeks.
He should find that city an excellent field, much Anarchistic seed having been sown there. I bespeak
for him the hearty co-operation of all the Philadelphia friends of Liberty.
While in Europe, I was fortunate in making arrangements with Mr. Arthur C. Fifield, proprietor of the Simple Life Press, 44 Fleet street, London, whereby he becomes sole importer for Great Britain of "The Ego and His own" and most of my other publications. English friends who desire to be promptly and readily supplied should apply to Mr. Fifield.
"The Ego and His Own" continues to sell well. In fact, there is no doubt that the work has taken its position as a classic. Assuming that the readers of Liberty are interested in what the press is saying about Stirner's book, I shall give, in either the October of November number, a collection of extracts from the reviews.
The new name which "Lucifer" has dug for itself out of the pages of the Century Dictionary -- "The American Journal of Eugenics" -- cannot be altogether pleasing to the editor of the "Truth Seeker," who in his ever watchful championship of Free thought has never shown a conspicuous ambition to lead the way in sex reform, though, as Oscar Wilde might have said, he may realize "The Importance f being Eugene." In reading the "Truth Seeker" it is my habit to look to the Georgics for the eugenics. However, Mr. Harman's organ, in its new magazine form, undoubtedly attains a new dignity, and will
acquire a wider influence, though its contents may never quite justify so awe-inspiring a name.
The New York "evening Post" camped on Anarchistic ground when it said the other day:
We may be free from many traditions that enslave feudal Europe, but the tyranny of local pride is as oppressive a tradition as any Spain or Austria can show. No one can be born in Darbyville without growing up into the intimate conviction that nature and fate have destined it to surpass new Hartford, although New Hartford is on the river and Darbyville is not. No youth can go to college without implicitly assuming a pledge to send his eldest son there, though there are many better colleges in the same State. When Smith of my city announces himself as a candidate for Grand Trustee of the Order of Emancipated Reindeer, it is incumbent upon me to support him, in spite of the fact that I don't like Smith's face, and our wives have quarreled.
These Anarchistic sentiments wear a very thin disguise to one who knows that "local pride" and patriotism are equivalents.
Last autumn, at the time of the first arrests in this city under the new statue against "criminal Anarchism," it was found, after the examination of the prisoners, that a sympathetic audience in the court-room had placed my Anarchist stickers in great profusion upon the backs of the benches. This commendable form of "propaganda by deed" has recently been paralleled in Des Mines, Iowa, according to the following dispatch to the New York "Sun":
DES MOINES, Ia., Aug. 8.--Recently the phonograph was introduced in court procedure here. Anticipating that the
voluminous testimony of an equity case would be needed in another trial, Court Reporter William H. Jayne had the evidence fired into a phonograph record, and, when court opened this morning, the machine was set in motion.
"Courts are the abomination of the earth, and lawyers are the emissaries of the devil," drawled out the talking machine, while Judge Howe, Court Reporter Jayne, officials, and operators looked at each other in blank amazement.
"With the courts abolished and all laws repealed, America would be free indeed, and liberty would come into her own," it continued.
By this time Reporter Jayne had grabbed the machine, and the wanton desecration of the temple of justice ceased.
In the "American Journal of Eugenics" E. C. Walker writes:
The scholarly theorists who smile so derisively at mention of "right" and "wrong," and blithely consign "conscience" to the dust-heap of antiquity, show very clearly, by their indignant denunciation of outrages inflicted upon weak peoples and persons, that all their elaborate and forcible arguments about the glory of "might" and the futility of ethics are purely academic,--that their ingenious speculations have taken no real hold on their lives.
These "scholarly theorists" show nothing of the kind. Their "indignant denunciation" of the oppression of the weak by the strong shows simply that they are not in sympathy with it, and that they are trying to stir all those not in sympathy with it to exercise the might which is theirs, if they did not but know it, to stop it. Might is glorious to each of these "scholarly theorists" only in so far as it is used in the interest of ideals. Mr. Walker evidently thinks that their arguments would become real, rather than merely academic, only if they should exercise their might to obtain what they do not want and what they
do not like; only in that case would their ingenious speculations have taken a real hold on their lives! It needs but to state his position in these words to make it appear as ridiculous as it is. The "scholarly theorists" do not blame either the tiger or the tyrant, but they hate both. They refuse, however, to follow Mr. Walker in preaching to the tiger and the tyrant that they are doing wrong. The tigers and the tyrants are not doing wrong; on the contrary, they are doing exactly the thing that it is right for tigers and tyrants to do. It is equally right for those who are not tigers or tyrants to defend themselves against tigers and tyrants. Such defence is what the "scholarly theorists" are trying to promote. Whether they succeed or fail, the result will be perfectly right. If those who love freedom can achieve and maintain freedom, this world will be for the free. If those who love tigerdom and tyranny can maintain tigerdom and tyranny, this world will be for the tigers and the tyrants. And no amount of preaching against sin can affect the issue in any way, except that its general tendency is to make people submissive to tyrants who are shrewd enough to inscribe the world "holiness" on their banners in order to cause believers in spooks to hug the delusion that they, the tyrants, are battling against sin. It is the preaching Walkers who, by filling men with silly scruples, are discouraging the weak form rebellion against the strong. Yet they bring this further indictment against the "scholarly theorists":
Unfortunately, men and women of weaker intellects and less useful knowledge of the world often have shown the demoralizing effects upon them of these delusive philosophies.
The same charge is often brought against Mr. Walker's free-love philosophy. It is the general complaint of the old against the new; and it is not without foundation. Bernard Shaw never said a truer word than when he answered the Comstock crowd:
"Yes, my books are dangerous to the young."
Everything new is dangerous. The railroad was dangerous; the automobile is dangerous. What of it? Are we cowards, or are we men? It is to be hoped that Mr. Walker, on seeing his words in print, turned over the leaf and read on the opposite page the excellent article by M. Florence Johnson. Answering a question that had been propounded in a previous number, "Why is the subject of eugenics the most scientific and majestic problem of the day?" Mrs. Johnson says:
It is the most majestic problem because it is as yet the most unscientific problem, and because all the religious teachings and customs of society have cultivated "sacred" feelings regarding sex, and will oppose its being made a scientific subject.
The most majestic because the most unscientific. This admirable phrase contains a complete answer to Mr. Walker, and he should study it well. The keynote of his politics and ethics finds expression in the words awe and majesty and other opaque and mouth-filling terms. In the rarefied and clarified atmosphere of science this evolutionist finds difficulty in breathing.
A recent article in the London "Mail" on Thomas Hardy contained the following sentences:
Mr. hardy's novels are nearly all faulty in form, but the poems are full of emotion and formally perfect. . . . He
falls back, as a rule, upon some sort of ready-made plot -- upon some variation of the traditional myth; he forces his characters to take a place in his scheme -- and there is his story, lacking subtlety and truth to life.
By this the editor of the New York "Times Saturday Review" is "impelled to wonder at the state of literary thought in a country whose greatest writer is the subject of criticism so inane as this." So he writes as column of eloquent defence of Hardy's plots and dramatic power. "England,' he declares, "is incompetent to criticise Mr. Hardy." After which this competent American critic concludes as follows:
It is a pity so many people know only "Jude" and "Tess," two worthless books, nauseating in their false and decadent "realism" and salacity -- books in no wise typical of their author's life work.
It is safe to say that England's "greatest writer" is less offended by the inanity of the London "Mail" than by the insanity of the New York "Times."
The immigration question affording a fine excuse for a congressional junket, a special immigration commission was sent to Europe lately to study the problem. Senator Latimer, of South Carolina, was a member of the commission. After he had made his studies, he was interviewed in London, and in the conversation he said, among other things.
What I saw tended to disprove the old tradition that only the best and bravest cross the seas. I found that the best men and women were generally satisfied and prosperous under local conditions. These do not emigrate.
To need to go to Europe to find that out, one has
to be as ignorant and stupid as a congressman. If our national lawmakers had appointed a special commission to read the file of Liberty, it would have been less expensive and equally efficacious. To be sure, the commissioners (and their wives) would have failed to see the Café Américain, Maxim's, and the Moulin Rouge, but they would have found in Liberty, of April, 1907, on page 12, the following paragraph:
The law in question [the contract labor law] attracts to our shores mainly those who have not had enough self-reliance and energy to make a place for themselves in their native land. If American employers were free to contract for the services of foreign workmen, they would not, as a rule, employ European unemployed; rather would they outbid foreign employers for the services of their employees, who obviously constitute the better portion of foreign laborers. Of course, it sometimes happens that an exceptionally self-reliant foreigner throws up a good thing at home for the chance of a still better one here; but, as a rule, the emigrant from foreign shores is one who chooses between nothing there and whatever he may get here. The contract labor statute is no exception to, but a peculiarly forcible confirmation of, the rule that law puts a premium on inefficiency.
Liberty not only stated the fact that Senator Latimer saw, but pointed out one of the reasons for it, -- a reason very unpalatable, too, to person who make their living by making laws. The editor of Liberty has brains; the senator from South Carolina has only eyes.
Lou Payn, the Republican boss, says; "If I were governor or president, I would take two things into consideration in making my appointments. I would insist that a man be absolutely honest, and that he be a politician." It is obvious that, if Lou Payn were
governor or president, he would make no appointments.
Reading the New York "Times" the other day, I came upon this item of telegraphic news:
DENVER, July 31. -- Believing that, with the aid of the law, he could force his young wife to live with him, Hugo Lewis Sherwin, who two weeks ago married Maude Fealy, the actress, appealed to District Attorney Stidger to-day. The district attorney declined to act. He told Sherwin that, were she held in duress, the law would give him recourse, but she is remaining away from him voluntarily and nothing can be done.
Further down the column I happened to find this item of local news:
Louis Stern, a furrier, who lived at one time at 309 East Tenth street, was sentenced to State prison yesterday by Judge O'Sullivan in General Sessions for not less than one year nor more than two years on a charge of abandoning his wife, which is now a felony.
So the law of Colorado, made by men and women, allows a wife to leave her husband, while the law of New York, made of men exclusively, punishes a husband who leaves his wife. I infer that the New York men are moralists, and the Colorado women egoists. To a man like E. C. Walker, who is both a free lover and a moralist, this state of affairs must be peculiarly perplexing.
It is a familiar dispute whether we should value a poem in proportion to its positive merits and shut our eyes to its defects, or whether uniform general excellence should be rated higher than a mixture of transcendent greatness with all possible faults. For myself, I want a poem to do for me the utmost that a poem can, and I do not find even glints of perfection so common that I can afford to be over-particular about the company they keep; if a poem is in part better than the accepted standard of perfection, it satisfies me better, notwithstanding that in other parts it may fall notably below that standard. This I doubtless the reason why I put a specially high value on the work of William Walstein Gordak, one of the faultiest of poets, great or small, but one who has certain peculiar powers to stir me.
The main trouble with Gordak was that he was no critic. This is a common enough complaint among poets, but I think they seldom have it so badly as he. In the first place, he seems, through most of his life, not to have realized the value of his own work. It may be that some of the poems in the volume "Here's Luck to Lora," which lies before me, were written when he was at the age at which poets generally produce their best work; but I hardly suppose that he began, at a comparatively late age, to write it for Liberty. At that time he spoke of himself, in a letter to me, as writing occasionally nonsense-verses for the children, and he sent me a sample which was certainly
no competitor for a high prize. Afterward, when he began to find that his verses were valued, they went to the press -- broadcast. Any paper with which Gordak felt any sympathy could have his verses, -- usually good, sometimes very good. If anybody ever tries to collect Gordak's complete poetical works, he will have to search Anarchist papers, radical papers, local papers, sometimes ephemeral, almost always obscure: and it will be no easy task to get them together. But Gordak seems himself to have had the feeling that he was past his poetical prime when he began to write: for he says (it is not in "Here's Luck to Lora"):
- Oh, had I but the poet's soul I lost
- Amid the fray a many years ago --
- Ah, who can tell the pain and shame it cost
- To face the struggle in a world of woe --
- When the dull clowns their malice spewed on me
- Who had not injured them, and little thought,
- Child that I was, they held my liberty
- And would coerce me to their cant and rot.
- If I but had the poet's soul I lost,
- With fire and fury I would meet them now;
- In dust and ashes they would pay the cost,
- Astounded at receiving blow for blow.
- For when I see the earth unpopulated,
- The barren fields, the joyless lives of men,
- I am fulfilled of that eternal hate
- That shall revivify the world again.
- Weak as I am, I yet can prophesy;
- Like John the Baptist, I can tell of him
- Who comes -- a hero of this century --
- The blossom of the ages old and dim,
- fruit of all time, greater far than all,
- Logician, orator, and child of song,
- Apollo of the Arrows, at whose call
- The mass shall rally to redress the wrong.
Now, if Gordak really had once much greater poetical powers than he showed in the time of his productivity, -- and this is what we have to assume from the analogy of other poets, who, especially if they be of the Gordak type, generally do their best work while young, -- what has the world lost by his silence in those years? A very great poet certainly.
As to the edition of his complete works of which I just now spoke, the world can hardly hope to see it. The sixty-two-page volume goes but a little way toward it. Not only is its selection limited in extent, but it does not represent what is it to me the strongest side of Gordak's poetry. The verses I have just cited tell his ideal of what a poet should be. To be sure, he had another ideal, at least of what he himself in certain moods would be; and this other is put into the book, as being altogether appropriate to it:
- They tell us we must leave the wood,
- The mead, the stream, the hazel glen,
- And stir the broth of bad and good
- Among the muddy hearts of men;
- To be august, superior,
- Must sing the song of love and hate,
- And pipe the praise of men of war,
- And sound the depths of human fate.
- Ah, well-a-day! But not for me
- The soul-anatomist's great part;
- I'd rather watch the bumble bee
- Suck honey from the clover's heart.
. . . . . .
- Let others strum pathetic tunes
- Upon the heart-strings of the race,
- But I will sing the languid noons
- Of summer in a shady place.
- The earth is older than the man,
- And better loved; the stream is old,
- So let me muse the pome's plan
- Beside its water deep and cold.
And yet we have elsewhere -- if we have files of obscure papers, or a well-selected scrap-book -- his testimony that this latter ideal, even in its limitation to his personal poetic life, was constantly failing to satisfy and hold him; and in particular we have "The Minor Poets," in a tone which cannot be taken as not meaning what it says:
- Those little shivering poets -- where are they?
- Behind the battlements of caste and gain;
- No deep and thrilling chords they dare to play,
- For fear they might be called on to explain.
- Melodious are they and touched with fire,
- But earnest, honest ardor for thing great
- Pervades them not; they only work for hire,
- Like layers or the servants of the State.
- They'll get just what they ask for and no more --
- A little transient praise and dainty fare;
- But ne'er will gain a foothold on the Shore
- Of Honorable Mention anywhere.
- Why twenty lines of Shelley will outlive
- A hundred thousand volumes of their rhyme;
- Though might'st as well hold water in a sieve
- As pledge them Fame for any length of time.
We need not just now discuss the soundness of this judgment, or point out that Gordak's description of the worthless "minor poet" fits conspicuously to Shakspere and Homer; we have to face a more
pertinent and more puzzling question. Why was it that Gordak, when this was his mind, and when he had printed poems belonging to the class of poetry that he rated highest, chose to exclude this class from his collection of poems to be printed for permanence? How comes it that "Here's Luck to Lora" contains the praises of Keats and Morris, and contains Gordak's poems having the quality of Keats and Morris, but does not contain this poem with its praise of Shelley, and does not contain the poems that have the Shelley quality, thought it was to the Shelley quality alone that Gordak in his soberest mood would promise immortality.
It may be that his self-criticism was more unsparing in that which he rated higher; he may have felt that he had done fairly well in the minor sphere, but fell too conspicuously short of what was wanted in the greater poetry. Or it may be that he had heard that legitimate poetry should aim merely at beauty, and not be didactic; and he may have felt that, when he was compiling a volume for publication, and not giving free poetic expression to his own instinct, he should conform to what he supposed to be an accepted canon of taste. Or it may be that he thought his book would be rejected by publishers, if it contained Anarchistic matter; possibly he hoped that this less offensive volume might be the entering wedge for a different one which he might live to publish.
But it was not in this minor sphere that he did best. I have said that this volume contains matter having the quality of Keats and Morris; and I would have
this understood in its most laudatory sense. There is matter here that is fully worthy of Keats. It a poem like "The Thunderstorm" challenges direct comparison with James Russell Lowell's "Summer Storm," it bears the ordeal perfectly. Take a bit out of the coming on of Gordak's shower:
- And they that love the glory of the storm
- Turned with rapt faces to the deepening sky,
- Where far-off thunder rumbled low and long;
- While rumpled corn, and grass, and woodland nigh,
- Thrilled by expectant change, a moment swayed,
- Then, hushed in calm, a deeper stillness made.
- Now were the westward hills and forests drowned
- In rainy mists, and dim to mortal eyes
- Grew the white-shining stream and sunlit ground;
- But grandeur filled the everlasting skies --
- A strange and shuddering beauty -- as the broad
- Black belt bore up that archangelic horde.
- The sun went out; low moaned the frightened sea,
- And flurried birds skimmed close upon the sand,
- And screaming gulls across the foam did flee,
- While wildest tumult struck the darkened land;
- A mighty wind bore down the sapling oak,
- And crackling through the thick-set forest broke
Both Lowell and Gordak have given us genuine typical New England Thundershowers, yet each shower is as individual as it is typical. In each one we recognize the weather of an actual day. And if one must choose between them, I believe that Gordak's poem will stand the test of persistent re-reading, and comparison with its fellow, better than Lowell's will. But the faults of Gordak's work are most strongly felt in this poetry that aims purely at beauty. I, for my part, am willing to pass lightly over his disposition to
coin new words and new syntaxes on slight provocation or to treat foreign languages in such fashion as rhyming "Parisiens" with "lens" (which is in this book), or exclaiming "Festina lente, thoughtless rulers all" (which is elsewhere); but I should warn Gordak, if he were still within reach of the warning, that such things will in general more readily find pardon in poetry "with a purpose." And, what is more, Gordak's work in this book has almost nothing beyond the equivalent of Keats or Morris, or some other predecessor -- oftenest, perhaps, these two. If we look in these poems for something that nobody but Gordak could have written, we must rake with a fine-tooth comb; and we find a scrap like
- Nor know where ignorance is bliss
- 'Tis folly to be fools,
-- which is far too slight to be Gordak's best, but it is pure Gordak -- or this:
- yet I knew
- The source of pleasure, dreamed it oft,
- Star-gazing at the depths night-blue,
- Or when the rain beat on the loft.
- Hail to the common things that be!
- The sound of rain upon the roof,
- The rose, the wild anemone,
- The rhythm of the horse's hoof,
- The scent of piny forests, glow
- Of autumn's tinted foliage,
- The smooth and slumberous fields of snow,
- Familiar things -- man's heritage.
But here, when we begin to find things that no one but Gordak could have written (and a poet cannot long survive except by his work that is unique: what
poet does the world honor for the excellence with which he wrote things that the greatest of his predecessors might have written?), we find ourselves getting into what I have called the Shelley quality, which Gordak has in general ruled out of this collection.
The quality in Shelley to which Gordak obviously refers in the lines I quoted, and which equally characterizes Gordak's poetry outside of the book "Here's Luck to Lora," is didacticism in a two-fold aspect: it is the use of poetry as a mouthpiece for a philosophic formula of life and as a tool for moving the world to right social wrongs. Shelley's formula of life was determinism. This word did not then exist in English, so Shelley called it by the less definite name Necessity. It was difficult for even Shelley to get much poetry out of that. Gordak's formula is the origin of pleasure from racial familiarity: whatever has from of old been familiar to the race is a pleasure to the member of the race. This makes better poetry than determinism. Aside from the passage above, take this from outside the book:
- And when the thunder shakes the stead
- (Down drives the pelting rain),
- It fills me with a joyous dread
- Forever and again.
- And thou, O dark-blue night of stars,
- The loveliness that never was
- Until we knew it! Joy hath come
- Upon us with the years;
Or this -- has any poet ever come nearer to presenting a basis on which Egoist and Altruist could meet? (I do not say that either of them will acknowledge himself willing to meeting, of course.)
- What! Fleece the gaping peasant of his all
- With words of soporiferous chicane?
- To thrust the yeoman forward to his fall,
- The half-freed slave to lure and bind again?
- To rob the children of their joy and health,
- Ingenuous women of their happiness,
- That I may lolk in soft indulgent wealth?
- Nay! But no other reason can I guess
- Save this -- the only answer I can find:
- It has not been the custom of my kind.
- Superior in virtue, -- say it not:
- And, if I were, I did not make myself.
- Though wrought and riven by the common lot,
- I have not covered anothers' pelf.
- But why? Some instinct vague and curious,
- Some fault or fortune of my winged strain,
- Too dense to solve, too weighty to discuss,
- Involves my being: and I say again
- To those who wish me otherwise inclined:
- It has not been the custom of my kind.
But it is in his practical didacticism that Gordak has most power over me. It is when he is most in earnest that he means most, and it is when he means most that he says most in a few words. Take this series of samples from a single poem in Liberty:
- No man can see the light and fail
- To follow: none can look afar,
- Beholding were the heavens grow pale
- The glimmer of the Blazing Star,
- Save in his heart begins to burn
- Some reflex of that heavenly fire;
- He cannot waver, flinch, or turn;
- He must advance, he must desire.
. . . . .
- The vision of the surely sane:
- The fact of happiness -- the life
- Of health, of temperance, and peace --
- The normal desuetude of strife
- And servitude -- content, release.
. . . . .
- With hearts by custom long grown cold
- To what they deem men cannot do,
. . . . .
- who look beyond the bounds
- Of habit, and discern the light
- Of our ideal.
Is there another poet known who could have written these lines IF so, what has his name been? -- And yet, in selecting his poems to be put in permanent form, the man left this one out!
If Gordak fell a prey to some critic telling him that the didactic was not to be included among poetry proper, I can only rail against the whole tribe of pedants who try to fence art in by formulas. If that essay of Macaulay's in which he lays down the principle that poetry is that poetry does, and that, when a man says "This poem is more pleasing than the other, but it is less correct," he ought to say "The principle by which I have been judging correctness of poetic structure is an incorrect principle," could be made a required part of the high-school course, we would be rid of much evil. The Greeks new better. Every Greek poet of the classic age whose reputation was so high that any considerable part of his work survives knew that the highest purpose of his art was to teach; he wrote from that standpoint and it did his work good. Lyric, tragic, comic, elegiac, they are all of them preaching. The result is that their works are recognized by the civilized world as the supreme model of poetic taste.
Now we see people -- plenty of them -- propounding a rule of taste which condemns the Greeks. So
long as this rule is merely offered as a guide in the formation of taste, and the preservation of works is left to be determined by survival of the fittest, little harm is done; for the survival of the fittest has an admirable way of riding rough-shod over false rules. But, if such a rule is to determine what works shall be put into a material form capable of surviving, then rage is justified.
I have a strong suspicion, however, that Gordak's selection was actually determined by the thought of what publishers in general might be supposed willing to print. I am the more confirmed in this suspicion when I find that in "Venus" he has left off the last two verses:
- The crown of all incarnate bliss!
- I saw, as she reclining lay,
- The lovesome lips red-ripe to kiss,
- Her laughing, lovelit eyes of gray,
- The graceful arms, the Grecian head,
- Her sculptured body white and sweet,
- The marble mounts where love hath fed,
- Her rounded calves and dimpled feet.
- And as I gazed upon this scene,
- I thought of all the million years
- That go to make the woman queen
- Of Love and of our smiles and tears;
- Of by what slow gradation came
- This madding beauty, till to-day
- Not to desire seems like shame,
- And not to love means life's decay.
Gordak certainly did not cut this out because it was contrary to his taste as poetry, for it wasn't. He may have cut it out for the sake of getting greater unity, to be sure. But it looks very possible that he may
have cut it out for fear of offending a publisher, and that the more earnest of his other poems may have been omitted for a like reason. Now, if it be so, see how the whirligig of time brought in its revenges. The book is issued by a publisher who would have been glad to have it contain such matter as he is glad to publish in Liberty: and Gordak is dead, and cannot take advantage of any possible success to compile a second volume; and nobody now alive knows where to find the scattered poems that might belong in the second volume, unless Gordak has kept a set of them and left it in good hands. From this let men learn how foolish it is to aim at something less than the best, on the ground that the something less is more practicable.
Therefore, I end as I began, that Gordak was no judge of his own work. But his work was very good, and any collection of it is welcome.
STEVEN T. BYINGTON.
I am glad to see that Michael Monahan has been able to revive the "Papyrus." His scoring of Arthur Brisbane, in the first number of the new series, for his responsibility for yellow journalism, is one of the most satisfying things on that subject that I have read. Yet I could not help thinking how many better men than Brisbane have shared in that responsibility. Ernest Crosby was one of these, -- a thought which was brought home to me by the fact that the article on Brisbane immediately followed the editorial tribute to that great character.
Those who read Liberty of December, 1906, remember the wonderful article by "Foemina," glorifying the Einzige, -- that is, the individual who seeks his pleasure in his own way, regardless of the wishes and example of the crowd. The present article, by the same author and also translated from the "Figaro," is a fitting companion-piece, picturing the busybodies who are unwilling that anyone should be an Einzige. The French title, "Les Intempestifs," does not lend itself readily to translation. Literally it means "The Untimely ones." "The Meddlers" might serve; but my friend, Mr. Emile Peron, has placed me under obligation by suggesting the bit of American slang that meets the case.
They are queer individuals. One knows them well only at his cost and after long experience. Nothing external declares the maleficent genius with which they are endowed. Even their reputation reassures one. People say that they are excellent, and so devoted! . . . Why should one distrust these tranquil personages, whose minds seem open and whose manners are either affable or cordially brusque? On the contrary, they inspire confidence at the start, by their air of conviction which we see, by the settledness of their judgment which we feel. They are certain of a multitude of things . . . They remind one of solid and resisting blocks. They give utterance to reasonable opinions: in case of need, they come to the support of the moral and the aesthetic with advice that is charged with authority; they do not fear the commonplace, but they announce it with so much vigor that it takes on the character of a new and singular truth. In short, they resemble everybody, and
at first sight one cannot discover their strange and dreadful mania.
To succeed in his career, the Butter-In must, in addition to the particular gift, possess a certain ensemble of virtues and weaknesses.
Not every one who wishes can be a butter-in.
First of all, the good butter-in has enormous vital energy. Then, he must be inexorably persuaded of his own omnipotence in the moral order; the smallest doubt on this point would jeopardize his enterprises. He must also think himself fitted to govern the world, restricting the exercise of his faculties to a group out of pure good grace. Furthermore, his pride, by force of extension, must have degenerated into altruism; and, finally, he must be possessed of tireless activity, imagination, some wit, much naivete, and a little stupidity. He must be sufficiently indifferent to his personal affairs, sufficiently detached from his own adventures, not to be encumbered when he takes in hand the affairs of his neighbors and enters into their adventures. The butter-in who knows his trade gives -- so much does he forget himself! -- the illusion of being consumed by the passion of self-sacrifice. In truth, he simply obeys his own frantic desire for damnation. He is no wicked, and he believes himself to be very good, He thinks himself entitled to the gratitude of his victim, never gets it, and, as there is no nonsense about his vanity, is astonished thereat. Generally, although an optimist by destination, the Butter-In speaks of men with some bitterness.
There are two sorts of butters-in: the indiscreet and the subtle.
The indiscreet gives advice generously, even when not asked for it: criticizes the course that he sees you following, and shows you the consequences of it; inquires regarding your intentions, and proves to you that it is better to change them. He proposes to meddle with matters which you prefer him to let alone, offers his recommendation, tries to reconcile you with one person and embroil you with another, endeavors to arrange a marriage for you, wants to take you on a journey and introduce you to people. He compromises you by immoderate puffery, lowers you by disparaging your most magnificent enemies, promises to make money for you, exerts himself to regulate your affairs and better your situation, assumes to console you, to instruct you, to guide you, precisely when you do not wish to be consoled or instructed, and when you are hungry for independence.
The clumsiness of this intolerable individual is so irritating that one does not permit him to take too great advantages. But it is rare that he takes none at all. So many solicitations, a cordiality so overflowing, such an air of disinterestedness, are touching. One accepts a bit of advice, a shadow of a service; one delivers a little of himself. Happily the clumsy haste which the Butter-In shows to invade the territories thus half opened to him reawakens the instinct of defence, and one throws him out. He goes away, full of recollections of the good offices that he has rendered, or, in their absence, of the intentions that he had of rendering them. He puts you down for a mediocre and stupidly vain soul; he despises you. And, if afterward you suffer some damage, he
takes in it that secret pleasure which even the best of men feel when they see things turn out badly that insist on turning out without their aid.
The subtle is infinitely more terrible; one does not get rid of him so easily. Sometimes one does not get rid of him at all!
On one of those days when life is hard to bear, when one feels the burden of inner solitude, one meets him. This monster prowling about in search of his prey is immediately apprised of the momentary weakness of your heart. Unlike the indiscreet, he puts no direct questions, he offers nothing; he simply shows his sympathy by an indirect word, a look. He gives you to understand that he comprehends, and that it is in his power to help you. He does not insist. He has no intention of forcing confidence . . Infernal personage! He lies in ambush, he watches, he fascinates. He has the air of one utterly without curiosity. His reserve attracts . . . He appears before you like Kipling's boa executing the dance of hunger before the poor innocent monkeys . . . Encouraged, half captured, you risk a word somewhat more precise. The Butter-In's face becomes animated, and now he interrogates with a warmth that completes his victory. You confess something of your ennui, he glides in, insinuates himself, penetrates; it is done, he has entered into your secret. He surveys your heart and your life with a sagacious look. In a minute he has seen all, he knows; he is about to act. Then, little by little, he reveals himself. He installs himself, spreads himself, takes up all the room there is. With an adroit hand he suppresses your liberty,
Takes away your right to choose your path, to look out of the window, to breathe. He intervenes, decides, reforms and upsets everything, with an irresistible authority.
The Butter-In is persuaded of these two points: first, that diseases, embarrassments, misfortunes, everything untoward that happens to others, happens to them through their own fault; second, that he has received from heaven the power to discern, without possibility of mistake, the proper thing to bring happiness to each. It irritates him to see many people making so poor use of their good opportunities; he is eager to substitute himself for these bunglers in order to reestablish order in their lives. He is not a simple counselor satisfying his taste for useless words; no, he wishes to be obeyed, and often he is obeyed. How resist him? He is so well informed about everything! He puts his time, his though, his influence, and even his money, at the service of his victims. To him nothing is too costly that will make him their master and give him the right to lord it over their existence. And what force he has, what coolness, what vigor ever ready to combine, to judge, to decide! His mind remains supple and free, for these tragedies, these comedies, into which he thrusts himself, are not his affairs. Nothing threatens either his skin or his heart. None of these things concern him. With heroic calm he orders the most heartrending sacrifices, with persuasive warmth he impels to the most tiresome task; it is not he that sobs or yawns. He tortures his victims" for their good," like that Torquemada -- the
typical Butter-In -- who put people on the grill save their souls.
The Butter-In is at home on all subjects. You are ill? It is because you are determined to be; you do not know how to care for yourself. Entrust yourself to him, and you will be cured. He inflicts upon you his doctor, his hygiene, his methods. If you are so unfortunate as not to get better, it is pure perversity on your part; he gets angry, he reprimands you. He has given you the means of health: be healthy without delay, or you will be the worst of ingrates, a hopeless neurasthenic who takes pleasure in his morbid manias, a sad imbecile. The vigorous butter-in, who knows what you need, administers his energy to you with a club. He humiliates you, amazes you, deprives you of your power of reaction. He would kill you, so sure is he of the efficacy of his system.
Are you passing through a sentimental crisis? Here he is, ready to serve you. Things can be arranged they will be arranged; is he not at hand? You have been betrayed, you are no longer loved, or you are loved less; you are hurt, doubtful, sad; you still hope, you are inclined to forgive . . . God knows what you would do without the Butter-In! But he takes charge of everything, he will save you from yourself. He takes too keen an interest in everything that concerns you to indulge you in weaknesses that later you would regret. You think the contrary? Naturally! What do you know about yourself? It is he that knows your needs, your aspirations, your real intentions, your sincere desires. The wrong done to you exasperates him even more than it wounds you. You are being treated worse than you think: he
proves it to you. He searches your heart for the elements of anger that already had begun to scatter; he reassembles them, and sets fire to them. He cannot bear that, through cowardice, you should derive a precarious joy from the fragments of the happiness destroyed. If you are not proud enough, he will be proud for you. He commands ruptures, contributes to them, carries letters, charges himself with messages, corrects and envenoms the words which it is his mission to repeat, for your dignity is more precious to him than to yourself. He helps you to tear you heart out, and goes home glorious and satisfied.
He loves violent situations because they tend to increase his influence. In his soul there is no atrocity; he wishes to dominate, that is all.
Following this idea that no man -- except himself -- is capable of choosing his real good, the Butter-In aims to effect a complete change in the existence of his victims. Hardly any one is satisfied. The Butter-In is convinced of it. Nobody does what he ought to do! And he gets to work to restore harmony about him. He urges the novelist to write for the stage, and the dramatist to go into politics. No sooner does he enter into the confidence of a desolate widow than he constrains her to marry again, no matter how, no matter whom; if only she gives up the idea of following the instincts of her heart, he is content. He loves to turn artistic natures toward sordid instincts, to counsel those who have a preference for society to retire to the country to read Montaigne. Workers who are fond of solitude and silence must participate in evening gayeties. He hopes to turn aside the
31 passionate from passion, but he preaches the beauties of love to people of refractory temperament. Never is he content with the ideas that he finds in you. He gives you to understand that every effort made by you up to the blessed moment when you first met him was utterly vain. You were in a bad path, you must take another, begin everything again, go elsewhere. Your friends, mistresses, lovers, do not fail to displease him. He disapproves the character of one, the nose of another. And, if this character and this nose, in which you have put your hope, happen to cause you ennui, "I told you so!" criest the Butter-In. For no butter-in was ever wrong!
When docile following of his advice leads to disaster, he is not astonished; you have done what he said, to be sure, but have you done it as he told you to do it? Certainly not! Then . . .
What an inexplicable pleasure these people take in meddling in others' affairs! They derive no profit from it. One fears tem, one tries to get rid of them; sometimes one hates them. Unseasonable service, undesired advice, are not things not to be forgiven. They have excellent intentions, yet the result of their actions are almost always disastrous. Useless to the strong, they depress the weak by diminishing their sense of responsibility. They lack the suppleness that penetrates to the depths of the feelings, the secret springs of conduct. If they had this suppleness, they would also be acute enough to understand that advice helps nobody, and that you partially destroy another's will by substituting for it your own. But they understand precious little of things essential. These ineffectual
dominators are the dust, the waste, the botchwork, of which nature is so prolific in her gropings toward the masterpiece. She finds it necessary to clutter our path with butters-in by the thousand before producing a leader of men or a great queen.
I can recall no precise parallel to the way in which the world has treated the great principle established by Darwin,--I mean not natural selection, whose scope is still under debate, but the doctrine that species originate by evolution from other species. That the doctrine was hotly debated when new is not surprising. But now we see it accepted without question by all scientific men, while at the same time the impression of the general public is that it is an exploded notion which was talked about for a while but was too absurd ever to get any credit among sensible people. This is the unique thing, -- that, in an age of enlightenment, and an age in which the opinion of scientific specialists is accepted as decisive for matters within their specialties (and sometimes outside these), the doctrine that the specialists regard as correct should be well known to the public and yet known only as an exploded folly.
There is a second illogicality which is not quite so unique, but I think it has something to do with the first, nevertheless. This is he way in which even those who accept the doctrine of evolution continue to hold views which have become obsolete by the into-
duction of that doctrine.* Darwin seems to have treated many an old notion as the old-time Irish immigrant treated the turtle he was ordered to kill. He cut off the turtles head, but it still crawled around with about the same degree of activity as before, and somebody suggested to Pat that he didnt seem to have killed it. Sure, he answered, the baste is dead, but it isnt conscious of it. Likewise, these ideas that Darwin has killed are not conscious of being dead; they go on crawling away without their heads, with the same self-moving massiveness as ever. One suspects, indeed, that the head can never have been very important to them, or they would miss it more.
An instance of pre-Darwinianism is all this nature-fakir talk. Mr. Long impresses me as a competent observer; but it makes no essential difference if he is guilty of all the specific misstatements alleged by Burroughs and Roosevelt, and twice as many more. His opponents, notwithstanding that one of them has the highest reputation as a naturalist and the other has a very respectable reputation as a hunter, have put themselves in so deep a hole that all the mud they can throw on Long will not keep him from looking white by contrast to them. Burroughss talk is avowedly based on the proposition that beasts cannot have anything in the line of reason, but only instinct, and
*The fact cited is indeed remarkable, but I never expected it to be pointed out by a man who still clings to orthodox Christianity. I may as well add, to guard against misconception of my own position, that, while I agree very largely with what Mr. Byington says in this article, I dissent almost entirely from the views which he expresses in his concluding paragraph. Editor
that observations of nature must be interpreted by this standard; nay, by this standard must their admissibility as true observations at all be tested. And Roosevelt avows himself to be following Burroughs as a leader and teacher. Now, Darwin having lived, it is really inadmissible that men of fair scientific education should hold such views. They might holdif the evidence were not all to the contrarythat the element of reason in bestial life is always too small to be perceptible, and likewise the element of instinct in human life; but they dont seem to restrain themselves even to such tenets as these. Burroughss argument against Long culminates in a demonstration (only Burroughs fails to draw this particular conclusion) that you cannot with the help of the whip teach a dog to sit on its hind legs and beg, or to jump over a stick. For wild dogs in their state of nature cannot possibly have any instinct admonishing them to do such things so as to escape a whip; and they cannot feel the whip as a motive to these actions, which have on their face nothing to do with a whipping, except by forming just such an association of the one thing with the other as Burroughs denies that beast can ever form. Such principles might have been exploded without the help of the evolutionary generalization, one would think. Furthermore, while I do not know that Burroughs and Roosevelt exactly deny that beats of the same species have notable individual difference in temperament, or intelligence, or instinct, or habits, or whatever may, according to Burroughs, determine a beasts way of acting, and that the observation of the exceptional
beast is as instructive and profitable (especially if that beast seems to stand above his fellows) as that of the ordinary beast, yet Long is certainly right in saying that they do not give sufficient practical weight to these considerations; and this also is because they have not learned Darwins lesson thoroughly enough to realize the importance of variations in biology. The sum of the matter is this. Long teaches (whether he exemplifies it or not, most folks have no opportunity to see) the right and scientific method and standpoint for the observation of nature; consequently his books are the right thing for the children. Burroughs teaches and exemplifies the false and unscientific method, whereby you cook the observations to make them square with a preconceived notion, and a mistaken notion at that. Burroughss science is under the heel of headless ideas which continue active because they are not conscious that they are dead. And Roosevelt is a ramification of Burroughs.
It is pre-Darwinianism, again, when C. E. S. Wood, in the April number of Liberty, says that the hatred of serpents originates from the book of Genesis. A student of sociology in our day ought to know that the hatred and horror of snakes is common to men and monkeys, and is more intense in monkeys than in men; wherefore it is an inheritance from a common ancestry more ancient than nay date assigned to Genesis, or even to Eden. When our ancestors lived in trees, out of the way of wolves and crocodiles, they had to fear only three important animal enemies, -- the snake tribe, the cat tribe, and the insects that carry
contagious diseases. Therefore it was highly valuable to them if they, or any of them, had the quality ,well known still to exist in a few men and women, of being unable to have rest, or comfort, or quietness, so long as a cat is anywhere near, even though the cat be not perceptible by any of the ordinary senses. Likewise, it was valuable to them to hate a snake without stopping to think why; and one need not be kept from recognizing the naturalness of this antipathy by the fact that to the snake, as well as to the cats, many persons (of whom I am one) feel no antipathy whatever. The hatred of the snake is also reinforced by the general hatred of the strong for any creature which is at once weak and dangerous, especially if it strikes when you did not see that an enemy was near. (This last observation is especially commended to the attention of those who approve or palliate the policy of assassination and terrorism. However justifiable the actions of the rattlesnake may be, however good may have been Franklins arguments in favor of it as a more honorable emblem for the United States than the bald eagle, we know what treatment it gets, and we know that its fight is a losing one. Those who choose to make themselves the rattlesnakes and copperheads of society must expect, by all analogy of history, that they will be treated as such; and a rattlesnake is not so treated as to facilitate the snakes getting what it wants. Also, creatures that are classified in the same group with rattlesnakes, or are thought to resemble them, receive the same treatment: a fact which is of no advantage either to them on the whole or to the rattle-
snakes.) As to the insects that carry contagious diseases, this danger is not peculiar to animals of arboreal stock, and neither is the corresponding disgust at feeling a bug crawling on you; every switch of a cows or horses tail shows that their ancestors, as well as ours, were punished to death if they were indifferent to flies.
But indeed this statement of Mr. Woods is no worse than the one which he couples it, -- that the horror of nakedness is drawn from the same story in Genesis. It is still more incumbent on the sociologist to know that the horror of nakedness is felt where the influence of the Bible has never penetrated, and was felt long before the time of Moses. Otherwise he has forgotten the Twelfth Commandment, which is, Thou shalt not write about a thing thou dost not understand, as Chwolson, the physicist, has just now said in criticism of Haeckel.* Mr. Wood ought to read Gunkels Commentary on Genesis. It is a very interesting book; and by the time he has read it he will have learned to read the legends in Genesis from the same standpoint as he reads the legends in Hiawatha, and this will do him a lot of good. There is no profit in combining the traditional view of the purpose of a book like Genesis with the iconoclastic view of its authority, when the traditional view of its purpose has no basis whatever except in the traditional
*A man is not so much to blame if he accepts false testimony to a fact which must necessarily rest on testimony. I cannot feel myself very guilty for having stated in Liberty, on the faith of a report in the New York Evening Sun, that the law for the compulsory registration of births was broken in the case of ex-President Clevelands daughter Ruth. I have no learned that the report was a mere forgery by Jacob A. Riis. Without doubt the editor, like the public, supposed to be truthful.
view of its authority. The records in Genesis are not drawn up for the purpose of inculcating a course of life which is to be followed, but for the purpose of explaining that that are already extant. Hence, when we find a certain rule spoken of in Genesis as proper, this proves, not that the book is a source of the rule, but that the rule is older than the book.
Since I am on Wood, let me turn aside from pre-Darwinianism long enough to remark that Wood, on the other side of the continent, did not get the whole of the report he quotes about Father Teeling, of Lynn. According to the Boston papers, the Lynn priest not only ruled that women must not appear in his church bareheaded, but also declared it to be indecent (though not within his power to stop) that women should go bareheaded on the street; and for this also he quoted the same text in Corinthians as authority. But the text in Corinthians declares that it is indecent for a man to have his head covered under the given circumstances, just as plainly as it declares that it is indecent under the same circumstances for a woman to have hers bare. Wherefore, it is indecent for Father Teeling to go out on the street with a hat on, and the police ought probably to run him in if he does so; and likewise any other man.
To come back to my text, it is pre-Darwinianism again when people say that all a mans actions are motived by the desire for happiness. The assertion that this is the best and most rational motive in every case is an assertion to which no science except ethics
or theology can make any objection; but the assertion that no other motive is extant is an assertion which ought to become conscious that it is dead since Darwin has lived. It is the sign of a brain that has not yet learned to look at the universe from an evolutionary standpoint. If the structure of mans mind were of mysterious and unfathomed origin, the bringing all his acts under a single motive would not merely be admissible along with the rest of the mystery, but would even seem to diminish the mystery by the simplicity of the formula. But, if mans mind has come to be what it is by the progressive inheritance of such variations as are useful to the species, then it is supremely improbably that this process has given only one sort of impulse for all actions, the regular and the occasional, the essential and the non-essential, the urgent and the postponible. Just as there is reason as well as instinct in animals, so there is instinct as well as reason in man. Pleasure and pain are not two sides of the same thing (and they do not even seem to be, except when a theorist is trying to simplify his theory by bringing everything under one hat), but totally disparate impulses which are appropriate to different purposes, the one to those acts which merely had better be done sometime, the other to those acts which have to be done now. But some of the most urgent acts of all, such as the avoidance of a recognized danger of death, are entrusted not even to pain, but to an automatic and unreflecting impulse which is surer and prompter in its action than pain itself. Again, when a course of action is once begun, it is taken charge of by the never-saving impulse to
Keep on; and the man not only goes on walking or running or hoeing, but even turns corners and throws out stones and starts again after stopping, without constantly thinking of any desire connected with the walking or running or hoeing. I do not consider that this is all; I think that I could find still other disparate motives without going into the sphere of ethics as commonly understood; and I think that there are altruistic motives (I use the plural deliberately, meaning to imply more than one type of motives not reducible the one to the other) which are as distinguishable from the pleasure or pain of sympathy as they are from the calculation of an expected cash profit to accrue to me from my neighbors prosperity. But, even if this were demonstrated to be false, and if all motives alleged to be moral or altruistic were successfully reduced to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, it would still remain true that neither pleasure nor pain, nor the two together, constitute the sole non-moral motive from which men act.
STEVEN T. BYINGTON.
The German vice-chancellor is preparing a scheme for the maintenance of persons out of work while they are seeking employment. When this scheme gets into operation, the trade of seeking employment will be followed with an astonishing persistency. IN that trade the open shop will prevail, and there will be no danger of strikes.
Thoughts compelled from out the hidden
Frequently are inexact;
But the thought that comes unbidden
Is the one that fits the fact.
--Rabbi Ben Gessing.
In the outlook of Anarchy, conceived of as the mother of order, an international Peace Congress ought to be about the best thing anywhere in sight. Because all the ends of order are peace, and the sure result of peace must be order. It makes little difference which end foremost the object is presented whether the Anarchy end or the Peace end; if we see one coming, we know what must be following. When the woman passenger asked the conductor of the trolley car whether she should go to the front end or the rear end of the car to alight on reaching her street, he said: It dont make any differ, lady; both ends gets there. Peace and Anarchy, meaning order, sustain the relation of the two ends of the car, and, as remarked, either end foremost suits. And, just as naturally as Peace and Anarchy come and go together, so War and the State united stand, or divided fall and are counted out. Real peace has not subsisted since there were two armed governments on earth. There has been that which was called peace the peace humorously proclaimed in the Thanksgiving order, the message to congress, and the speech from the throne which, however, is not peace, but a brief cessation of hostilities. It is a rest after the last war, said rest being confined to the combatants and their assigns who are deceased; and it is otherwise a period
of preparation for a future war, made at the expense of the joyous survivors.
If peace waits on the reduction of the function of government to the performance of police duty, religion, or the church, will have to go. The original purpose of the State was to protect and enforce some form of worship. I believe that the government of Spain, and perhaps of some other European countries, has no excuse to exist except the maintenance of faith. This government of the United States is reputed to be the first one ever set up with any other object in view. Some of the men instrumental in outlining its original policy had the delusion that the people could be governed that is, held politically subject otherwise than through their superstitions. Their successors are correcting the error as fast as they can by converting the State to the uses of the church. And anybody is blind who cannot see that imperialism, or the policy of annexation, is the same thing as the Christian missionary business. It is the overflowing fountain, as Christianity is defined by Mr. Bryan, who himself slops over perpetually.
Only a few know about the identity, here affirmed, of Peace and Anarchy. And what else could you expect when Anarchy is presented, judged, and condemned as another sort of government that varies the conventional way of administering justice by starting with the execution instead of with accusation and trial. That is not Anarchy; it is unwritten law. As I would define the Anarchistic philosophy, it is not the personal bumping off of an individual ruler, but rather the taking away of the thing he rules with. The
force-Anarchist is a Protestant blowing up the pope or a cardinal by means of some high explosive hove next to him in the shape of a bomb, whereas the peace-Anarchist, as I understand his method, would be a denier disseminating unbelief as his propaganda and withholding his tithes to make the deed jump with the word.
So peace is a matter of not putting any belief, or money, into a government that manifests mainly through armies and navies. There is no peace sentiment about building warships and forts wherewith to defy the powers. A few weeks ago, when murders by Italians got more frequent than comported with the safety of the police, the policy of disarmament was adopted, and so far enforced that not a policeman has been killed since. Considering the restricted scope of the reform, and who gets the benefit of it, this is not so good an illustration of the point as I would like to give, but it at least proves the birth of the idea that the first step toward peace is to give up the gun.
The government of Italy has demanded of the Hague conference that a delegate from Cuba or from a Central American State (the accounts name both places) shall be pushed out of its councils because he is a condemned Anarchist and an exile from King Victor Emmanuels realm. If this chap is an Anarchist proper, and not one of those unofficial executioners or unwritten-law fellows, he is exactly the delegate who can tell the peace conferees where they will have to stand to see the peace band-wagon come up. Of course, if they dont want peace so much as they want
to govern their fellow-man, they dont have to have it, and will not follow his advice.
How does it happen that a man who derives the one great satisfaction of his life from gazing at himself in a looking-glass, by his own volition, will avert his face, side-step the reflection, and go up in the air if somebody else holds the mirror before him? When the act, in one case, brings to his countenance an expression of perfect self-complacency, it seems strange that, in the other case, the effect on him should be so different that it amounts to an annoyance, under which he may knock the glass aside hard enough to break it, or maybe smash the person who has it in his hands. Leave him alone with a looking-glass, and he is likely to waste time viewing himself in a great variety of postures, and will even distort his features and still find them fascinating; but lead him unsuspectingly before the glass, and you must be twice as strong as he is to hold him there. He can see therein nothing but himself; nevertheless he would show more pleasure standing in front of and inspecting a cage of monkeys.
The freakishness of a human being in this respect explains the resentment shown by some writers who were quoted in the May number of Liberty. Not having this freakishness in mind, I had carelessly, and impertinently as I am aware, sprung the looking-glass on my Jewish fellow-citizens. It cannot be claimed that the reflection showed a single one of them any detail of himself that he had not examined and lamented or admired a thousand times, and all of
them are aware of the fact. As I pointed out nothing reprehensible or unpraiseworthy, they could not fairly complain that they had been misrepresented, and they took the course that any lawyer would approve. They entered a demurrer, which mean that the facts stated are not sufficient to constitute a good cause of action. Their replies bulk large, because the writers are sophisticated rhetoricians, as Disraeli, said; and the rest of their answer is surging to get out of range of the mirror. All this was natural. What else could they do, and how could the editor of Liberty have made a better application of Much Ado About Nothing than when he used it as a heading for their remarks?
I am disappointed and mortified beyond telling; and, except for the brilliant essay the affair has given me a chance to write on the strange behavior of the man before the glass, I should, on the whole, set down the reception of my Judenfrage piece as a frost. Not a feature of it came out clear in the atmosphere of the East Side. The critics missed the purpose, they missed the point, they missed the spirit of it; and then, just to be consistent, they overlooked my name at the end. They did not understand what had been written, or who wrote it.
Controversy on the merits of the Jews is not for me. They appear to be all right, and in a discussion I am convinced that the other fellow has no show. I have about the same high regard for an anti-Semite or Jew-baiter as for an anti-Japanese hoodlum; but I still think that the Jews are relatively a commercial people, and am feeling sore because the replies made to my
Inquiry were so vague and indirect. I asked whether any Jews are Socialists, and, if so, what they expected to gain by a change to a system that promises to do away with commercialism; and I am not a thought the wiser for being told in response that Mr. Tucker is an anti-Semite.
The way to dispose of a question is to give an answer to it or let it alone. On the Fourth of July a speaker at the celebration in Paris appealed to the reflective faculties of his hearers by inquiring: do married men make the best husbands? His audience only laughed. Now, to laugh is better than to get red-headed, but neither is an answer. The speaker asked: Do married men make the best husbands? and the question is Do they?
In a back number of Liberty the prophecy was risked by the writer that the government would enlarge its supervision over offspring born to us, and that the fruit of our loins would be picked by the State for ulterior purposes earlier than it is now for purposes of education. The day looked to be coming this way when children would be delivered directly into the hands of public officials trained to catch them on the fly. I did not expect any confirmation of that view this year or next; I was forecasting at long range. Like other prophecies that are forgotten unless some even happens to fit them, this one was on the point of escaping my recollection, when Mr. Roosevelt passed out a promise to an assemblage of Indiana agriculturists, on Decoration Day, that might have been prompted by the same unbidden
thought; for the president then and there proclaimed an eight-hour day for farmers wives, outlined a system of instruction for the men, and said that the government, though the agricultural department, proposed to dry-nurse the children, who were the best crop the farmers could raise. That is about what I said would be the next move. And now will the newspapers editors go on fooling themselves with the idea that, while Roosevelt directs the policy of the government, there is no forecasting what its next move will be; or will they read Liberty and get wise?
Mr. Roosevelt added a detail that somehow or other I missed. He says that first aid to parents will be extended through the department of agriculture. It is a relief to know the worst. He might have created a new cabinet officer, and called him the Secretary of Eugenics (formerly Lucifer): or, seeing only the obvious, he could have claimed that the supervision of marriages and births properly belonged to the department of commerce and labor; but the question is settled, and settled right. His attitude heretofore toward improvement of the human race by artificial selection shows that he approves its classification as barnyard ethics; and a department of agriculture stepping about the barnyards of our land would furnish an inspiring sight not to be too frequently repeated. The observations there taken would fortify the members to go into the house and give improving advice. After the administration has shortened the working day of farmers wives to eight hours, it might take up the problem of bringing births nearer together. Many perfectly-developed and robust
infants have appeared in half a year or so after the marriage of parents. If this can be accomplished in the case of the first child, it is the duty of the agricultural department to find out why future additions to the family do not show the same expedition. Great glory awaits this department as the brains, backbone, and so on, of the republic.
Lest his words escape the eye of those who can best appreciate them, I will briefly quote from a recent speech by President Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton University. Dr. Wilson recklessly spoke as follows:
There can be no liberty, if the individual is not free; there is no such thing as corporate liberty. There is no other possible formula for a free government than this: that the laws must deal with individuals, allowing them to choose their own lives [under a definite personal responsibility to a common government set over them], and that government must regulate, not as a superintendent does, but as a judge does; it must safeguard, it must not direct.
The words which I have enclosed in brackets are surplusage, like the pious under God in Lincolns Gettysburg speech and the second clause of Spencers definition of rights. Dr. Wilson might as well have omitted the governmental note, and let the individual answer to other individuals for his abuse of freedom, which abuse is termed invasion a good word, not to be used so often as to get worn out, or lose the freshness of its bloom, or sink into the vocabulary of cant. An interesting lot of conclusions follow the negation of the governments function to direct. I ask Dr. Wilson if he has considered the bearings of his proposition on the appointment of official ghostly
advisers called chaplains; on the rules and regulations of the post office as to the kind of thought it will condescend to transmit on the duties of the various federal departments, bureaus, and commissions; on divorce laws, Sunday laws, anti-race-suicide laws, prohibition, proclamations, executive orders, messages to congress, and magazine interviews on nature-fakirs. These are all directive, supervisory, hortatory, and indicate government by impulse. The notions of the president of a Princeton are hopelessly primitive. They are those of a man who has not framed up government as a Sunday-school teaching pickpocket and burglar who will operate with chosen pals, but will permit no individual competition.
The most hilarious note on the exposure and conviction of Mayor Schmitz of San Francisco is of course to be found in one of Hearsts papers. All the communities of this continent, says the American, will share San Franciscos elation in the final triumph there of the people over graft and dishonor. The triumph of the people is pretty good. The people had their triumph all right, but it was not in the downfall of the grafters; it was in their election to office. This incident should be recorded right. When exposers of graft got after Schmitz, the people held great indignation meetings addressed by their representatives and by Father Yorke, the peoples priest, at which the mayors detractors were exhibited as thwarters of the popular will. It would be the prudent course to ascertain the feelings and temper of the common people of San Francisco before offering
felicitations. Otherwise one might get a tart reply. And, when you get right down to grass tracks, the turpitude of Schmitz does not distinguish him so far from other elected persons as would at first appear. Consider the offence of which he stands convicted, -- that of taking the money of a restaurant proprietor in return for immunity from let or hindrance in his business. What the restaurant man gave up to Schmitz was his second assessment. The government had pulled his leg previously. The government assessment was called a license, which was transmitted to Washington and contributed its percentage toward paying the personal expenses of the Roosevelt family, -- the railroad fare of the president and his parasites, the cost of keeping a government vessel in commission to take the Roosevelt female and young on pleasure trips, specifically the taking of the presidents sons to see the Yale-Harvard boat race on the Sylph at the governments expense. The license money did that. The other money, given to Schmitz, is called extortion, and went toward paying for the Schmitz residence. Where is the physical difference between the license and extortion? That there is a moral difference I concede, though I may be alone in the admission; for I believe that the liquor which the government licensed the restaurant man to sell did more harm than the room-renting that Schmitz permitted for a fee. Otherwise, in the perspective of a man up a tree, the cases run parallel.
Dr. Wilson, of Princeton, avers there is no such thing as corporate liberty. Is there corporate
felony? Apparently not. Government can without reproach duplicate private crimes, and even individual meannesses. I will adduce one example of each. Consider the tariff, how it goes. That form of extortion has two motives, -- protection and revenue. Protection is the term used to describe the action of the police in not molesting the dive-keeper who gives up, while arresting and prosecuting his more conservative competitor. Any other tariff for protection discriminates in substantially the same way. Tariff for revenue means that we need the money. It is not an exalted motive, for none other ever actuated a burglar or pirate. You would think that a great government, while magnifying and exceeding the felonies of individuals, might be exempt from their meanness. You have another think coming. The city dweller who has not got tired of life and turned commuter imagines he is dealing with the meanest people on earth when his fare is received at the ticket office of a street railroad and he passes through the gate to find no cars running on account of a block. He gets back to the street without recovering his nickel, and next time he hears government ownership of railroads advocated he says he believes in it, or in anything else that will check this greed of transportation companies that is absorbing the scant surplus of the proletariat. It is pretty rough. He has lost his fare. But, if he wants to lose the value of a dozen fares, let him stamp a four-pound package and deposit in the mails for transmission abroad. The agent of the government seizes the package, destroys the stamps, and at his leisure notifies the sender that,
under a rule of such and such a date, or according to order so and so, the package doesnt go. You have recourse to an express company, and wonder why petty larceny was ever made a crime.
The superior wholesomeness and gayety of sinners as compared with saints has always been noticed. That the cheerful one should stand straight and live long, while the serious and over-righteous man gets round-shouldered and peters out, is supposed to be due to divine mercy, which would give the wicked time to repent. Some other explanation is needed. The chap in Bunyans Pilgrims Progress stooping under a bundle of sins is not true to life. I talked with a man who had all of the moralities at his tongues end, and who was admirable in every way except that he provoked in you a desire to kick him. He knew what the conduct of every person should be, and the burden of speech was A man ought to, or Taint right for a man to, and I always make it a rule. He had practiced all good precepts from his youth up, and bore only the sins imputed from the fall of Adam. But these he deemed a heavy load. And he was getting aged and bald and narrow-chested and shrunken, and tired and uncommunicative except when some folly of his fellow-man stirred him to utter a groan. It seems to me, he said one day, as if it was about impossible for a man to live up to his knowledge of what is pleasing in the sight of God. He was worrying himself thin over that. I looked at him attentively, and recalled the lines of the hymn:
See how the aged sinner goes
Laden with grief and heavy woes.
And I saw how it didnt fit the case. So I thought again: Old man, it isnt your sins that trouble you; it is your virtues. Estimating the sacrifice of time and money, health and happiness, life and liberty, that is required to keep the world as good as it now is, I have concluded that this truth is of general application, -- that the pack of sins man bears on his shoulders is exceedingly light compared with the load of virtues he is trying to support.
I have a criticism to pass on the course chosen by that New York woman who, having entered into a trial engagement with a man, sued him for breach of promise when he terminated the arrangement without marrying her. The law gives her that right, and, as she is bound to support and obey the law, she is entitled to any benefit she can derive by appealing to it. But the law is a cold proposition to bring into a love affair. If penury can repress the noble rage of a poet, and freeze the genial marrow of his soul, not less must a law-suit refrigerate the lover. The legal ceremony, taken seriously, chills more or less the parties to a marriage; a wedding by order of the court would be arctic. For my own part, I doubt and suspect the utter abandon of a love that waits on marriage settlements; and the affection whose yearn will be satisfied with possessing its object or three thousand dollars in lieu thereof cannot be the real thing by a whole lot. Engaged persons expect, and promise when they marry, to love each other forever. But, if it falls out
that one party does not want to marry, the other will hate him so heartily inside of six weeks as to sue him at the law and penalize him to the limit. It looks unreasonable. Damages for breach of promise are founded on neither good sense nor experience. In the first place, as many turn out happily when they are broken as when they are kept; and, while a man may disappoint a woman some if he does not marry her, the chances are in favor of his disappointing her a good deal worse if he does. I am satisfied that marriage would oftener prove a success, and wedded happiness be vastly increased, if husbands never did their wives any greater unkindness than not marrying them.
GEORGE E. MACDONALD.
THE PRICE OF PROGRESS
Young brother, young sister, with the uplift gaze,
Would you follow the new vision, live the new life?
Have you conceived an ideal beyond old creeds and customs?
Does it call you? Would you follow? Count the cost!
Has poverty no terrors for you?
Can you be driven from shelter to shelter till home is an empty name,
And can you still be true?
Can you hunger while prostitution feasts and flourishes,
And keep your genius pure?
Have you reckoned with the worlds scorn, and counted it as naught?
Can you discount the averted gaze where once shone welcome?
Still I say to you Count the cost!
Do you know the price you shall pay for your freedom?
A sword shall sever you from kindred, friends, lovers.
Not one who is not of then new, not one of the old can hold you or be held.
One by one you shall sacrifice them on the altar of your progress,
In a long-drawn agony of pain.
Your very blood shall cry out to you for cruelty.
Your throat shall ache with pity, but they will never understand
The reproach in their eyes shall haunt your sweetest joys,
And your veriest triumphs shall ring with their defeats.
They whom you love, love, love!
Can you pay for you progress the price of their pain?
Then go on, on, on! And die, still going on!
For you shall never arrive!
But you shall gain? Strength that grows by resistance, power that is born of purpose;
A deeper insight, a clearer understanding, a greater love.
And here and there, along steep hillsides, beside yawning chasms,
A warm hand shall clasp yours,
Clear eyes shall look into yours with the look that knows and responds,
And you shall claim comrades, yours, your own!
You may not keep them with you, but you shall know
That somewhere on the pathway they too are climbing,
They too are pursuing the dream and the vision.
And in you shall be born a living, leaping Hope that into the pain and the yearning,
Into the worlds weariness and woe,
A new light shall dawn, a new day shall break;
That, whether you stand or fall, the world shall grow by your striving;
That slowly, but with onward sweep of endeavor,
On into Freedom and Joy-life, the World is advancing!