An Anarchist Woman by Hutchins Hapgood, New York: Duffield & Company, 1909.
An Anarchist Woman
The Rogues' Gallery went the way of all good things: it ceased to exist when the creative spirit was gone. Terry went to Pittsburg, as we have seen, to find the flaw 'in the tanning process, and while he was away Marie attempted to conduct the ..academy of anarchism. But she was too much interested in what is called "life" to make a sustained mental or moral effort without the inspiring presence of a man whose central passionate ideas never changed. The personal jealousies which Terry's philosophic attitude and idealism tended to dissipate became, during his absence, too strong for the bond uniting the "rogues," and when Terry returned he found that his little colony had dispersed and that Marie, unable any longer to pay the rent, was. living with her Old friend Katie.
This was, to our idealist, a deep disappointment. On the heels of his final break in Pittsburg with society came this sign of woman's weakness. Terry might easily have expected it, but one of the limitations of an idealist is an insufficient knowledge of realities. To men of his temperament there is always a distinct shock envolved in coming face to face with an actuality. Truth is the element of the idealist, but an abstract truth into which concrete realities seldom fit. Terry did not, or tried not to, mind, at this time, this continued sexual freedom, or rather vagaries, of Marie's life; for that fitted into his scheme of personal freedom: he zealously strove to respect the private inclinations of every human being. But the least sign, in any of his acquaintances, of a compromise with the integrity of the soul, of any essential weakness, met with no tolerance from him. " He passed him up," on the spot, with a scornful wafture of his hand. That Marie had yielded to the stress of circumstances, had been unable to hold out in the Rogues' Gallery, galled the relatively uncompromising, exigent idealist. If she had resorted to temporary prostitution to hold the society together he would have admired her. But, instead, she weakly sought, like any merely conservative woman) the shelter of Katie's roof. The first seed' of the essential discord which finally resulted, at a much later time, in their relations was planted thus in this deep irritation of Terry's soul; it did not, however, affect seriously his love for Marie as a person or his interest in her as a social experiment. But it tended to make him feel more lonely and to render him more hopeless of any realisation of the ideal, as he saw it.
When Terry returned, without a job, and with no intention of trying for one, and found Marie living with Katie, he had a long talk with the two women. Katie was still with her husband, Nick, but she was willing to quit him in order to live with and take care of, her darling Marie. She proposed to Marie and Terry to hire some rooms and all live together. She would work as cook in a restaurant and thus support the three of them.
To this eager desire of Katie's Terry refused to consent; but he also refused to work. What was to be done? He was too proud willingly to live on Katie, and he was principled against labour. Katie wanted the luxury of her proposed arrangement. She quarrelled with Terry, but he interested her Already she began to look on these two as her superior cultivated ones, aristocrats, with whom it was a joy to live and for whom it was a pleasure to work. To work for them, especially for Marie, she would drop her old Nick, good dull man, in a moment.
An event which happened just at the right moment to decide things, finally brought about the union of the three. One night Terry was 'drinking in a saloon, talking philosophy, and quoting literature. Some rapid lines from Swinburne had just left his lips when an elderly man, who had been listening to Terry's talk approached him and said: "You are the man I'm looking for, won't you have a drink?"
As he spoke, he flashed a fifty dollar bill over the bar and repeatedly treated the crowd, all in Terry's honour.
"Before we separated that night," said Terry, telling me the story, "I learned that the old guy had fifty thousand dollars and that he would soon go down and out, for he had all sorts of bad diseases. He knew it himself, but he was an old sport and he wanted his fling before he died. He liked me and wanted me to be bar-tender in a saloon he owned. He lived above the saloon and wanted a housekeeper to take care of the rooms. So I told Kate here was her chance. The next day Marie, Katie, and I moved into the rooms, where the old man lived, too, and I began my work as a bar-tender.
"I did not regard this job as work: it was really graft, for I had decided that my old friend, not long for this world, did not need all of his money and that I might as well turn part of it toward Katie, to help maintain a common house for us all. So, every night, after the day's work, I turned the roll that I received behind the bar over to Katie, who tucked it away in the bank. I don't know whether the old guy knew about it or not, if he did, he did not care. He died after two or three months, but Katie bad increased her bank account by three or four hundred dollars."
Terry is strenuous about this story. He is evidently anxious lest it be thought that he later became a mere parasite on Katie. He prides himself on having taught her to steal from an unkind world, but he does not like the idea that she has slaved for him without any help in return. Katie did not prove to be a good pupil. She was not naturally "wise," in the slang sense, but gained what she gained by hard labour. Even while she was housekeeper for the old guy she felt she earned all the money she tucked away.
"I worked hard for the old man" she said, and I only got about one hundred and thirty dollars for all my work. I thought I made that much."
There is a slight difference in the amount received, in Terry's account and in Katie's, but it is clear that it was not very much. It is interesting and characteristic that Terry wants it to appear to have been "graft," while Katie looks upon the money as honest wages, received in an unconventional way.
Nick was definitely deserted, and the new salon" formed, with Terry and Marie as the bright particular stars and Katie as the happy means of living, 'if not in luxury at least in independence. They lived on her eight or nine dollars a week with the comfortable feeling that there were several hundred dollars tucked away in the bank, the result of Katie's savings and Terry's ideas.
The salon was of a more select and higher order intellectually than had been the Rogues' Gallery. The people who frequented the three little slummy rooms on the West Side where Terry, Marie, and Katie lived were mainly anarchists in theory, and occasionally one or another of them was so in practice. They mainly consisted of rebellious labourers who had educated themselves in the philosophy of anarchism. 1 They had ideas about politics and government and the relation between the sexes. They were indeed all "free lovers," and quite naturally so; the rebellious temperament instinctively takes as its object of attack the strongest convention in society. Anarchism in Europe is mainly political; in America it is mainly sexual; for the reason that there is less freedom of expression about sex in America than in Europe: so there is a stronger protest here against the conventions in this field-as the yoke is more severely felt. While I was in Italy and France I met a number of anarchists who on the sex side were not ostentatiously rebellious. They were like the free sort of conservative people everywhere. But in political ideas they were more logical, sophisticated, and deeply revolutionary than is the case with the American anarchists, who, on the other hand both in their lives and their opinions, are extreme rebels against sex conventions. It is only another instance of how unreason in one extreme tends to bring about unreason in the other. Our prudishness, hypocrisy and stupid conventionality in all sex matters is responsible for the unbalanced license of many a protesting spirit.
So there was many an "orgie" in the salon-sexual and alcoholic: and many wild words were spoken and many wild things done. But these same extreme people were gentle and senstive, too, and emotionally interested in ideas. They went to lectures on all sorts of social subjects, they read good books of literature and crude books on politics, they grouped together and enjoyed to a certain extent their communistic ideas. They published their anarchistic newspapers and they welcomed into their ranks people who otherwise could have attained to no consolatory philosophy-who would have had no ,society and no hope. And they did not do it for the sake of charity-hollow word!- but from a feeling of fellowship and love. You, reader, who may think ill of thieves and prostitutes too ill of them, perhaps: if you can come to see that social differences are of slight value in comparison with the great primal things and the universal qualities of human nature, you will perhaps be better if not more "virtuous" than before, and may be kinder, less self-righteous, and do far more good, no matter how "charitable" you are now inclined to be. You have never been able to arouse the real interest of the proletariat, for the simple reason that you have never been really interested in them. But you do arouse their hatred and their contempt. They ought not, of course, to hate and despise anything, especially anything that means as well as you do. But they, though they are anarchists, are human, all too human, sometimes, like the rest of us. Here are some of the ideas of the salon about you, about us, let me say, as voiced by Terry and Marie. To begin with, Terry: about our "culture" he writes:
"There is not much doubt about the sapping influence of culture. It seems that narrowness of range means intensity of emotion. This is seen in the savage, the child, and uncultivated men as well as other animals. I might even go farther and say we see it in such titans as Balzac and Wagner, who seek to compress all the arts into their own particular art. The mind that finds many outlets generally overflows in dissipation of energy instead of digging a deep single channel of its own. And yet to focus our feelings to one point may be a dangerous accomplishment. For instance, the fulminating fire of Swinburne's radium rhymes, while harmless to himself, may become dangerous through me or some other 'conductor.' Unfortunately, the inability to foretell the ultimate effect of any given idea produces that form of inhibition called conservatism, and to this vice people of so-called culture are especially prone. It takes recklessness to be a social experimentalist or really to get in touch with humanity. Our careful humanitarians, our charitable ones, never do, for they stick to their conservatism. How we do fashion our own fetters, from chains to corsets, and from gods to governments. Oh, how I wish I were a fine lean satirist!- with a great black-snake whip of sarcasm to scourge the smug and genial ones, the self-righteous, charitable, and respectable ones! How I would lay the lash on corpulent content and fat faith with folds in its belly, chin and hands2; those who try to beat their breast-bone through layers of fat! Oh, this rotund reverence of morality! 'Meagre minds, I mutters George Moore, and my gorge rises in stuttering rage to get action on them. Verily such morality as your ordinary conservative person professes has an organic basis: it has its seat in those vestiges of muscles that would still wag our abortive tails, and often do wag our abortive tongues.
"To arouse such fat ones to any onward flight it may take the tremendous impact of a revolution. It may take many upheavals of the seismic soul of man before the hobgoblins of authority are finally laid in the valley.
How many free spirits have been caught and hampered in the quagmire of conservatism. Yet they have the homing instinct of all winged things: they return to the soul and seek to throw off the fat and heavy 'flesh of social stupidity. Many great free spirits there have been who possess this orientation of the race and have brought us tidings of the promised land. How many thundering spirits have commanded us to march by the tongued and livid lightning of their prophetic souls, but how few of us have done so I Why, to me, this world is a halting hell of hitching-posts and of truculent troughs for belching swineherds. The universe has no goal that we know of unless Eternity be the aim; let us then have the modesty of the Cosmos, and no other modesty, and be content to know our course, and be sure to run it.
"I have tried for freedom, indeed, everywhere, but I find the 'good ones' always in my way. How well I know the cost of my attempt! My heavy heart and my parched and choking throat, they know! I may indeed beat my breast alone in the darkness in a silent prayer for freedom and hear no response from the haunting hollows of the night. Such hungry freedom I had and have; and I could share it only with the outcasts of the world: the fat and rotund charitable ones would none of it. This freedom is possessed only by him who is afflicted over much with himself because he has been crazed by others and made mad by his escape from them. I suppose I am mad, for to believe myself perfectly sane in a greatly mad world is surely a subtle species of lunacy. And yet I am compelled to act towards others as if they were more sane than 1. To feel as if one were eternally in a court-room trial, with lean lunatics for lawyers and fat philistines for judges, this is life.
"I am only one of the human victims who studies his own malady because he likes universal history. The world has thrown me back upon myself and made me at times what is called mad. After being down-hearted for some time, I grow superstitious and imagine that some strange and fatal spell is hanging over us all. Even my own acts and thoughts take on the futility of nightmare, and Nirvana is very welcome, if I could be sure of it, but I had rather stay what I am than start life all over again in some other shape, with a possible creeping recollection of my former existence. I have at times startled intimations that I lived in vain in some former unhappy time; so I shall try to postpone the eternal recurrence as best I may."
Thus Terry tries not only to reject the laws of "fat" society, but at times he strives against what he imagines to be the deep laws of the universe: he tries to stem the tide of fate, and this in the name of Truth! It shows how far remote from reality is the truth of the idealist; and yet such an attitude is often forced upon a sensitive spirit by rough contact with imperfect society. Although Terry is the most perfect specimen of the anarchists I have known, yet they all have more or less the quality of idealism so marked in him.
Marie's letters teem with the spirit of revolt, which of course was the atmosphere of the salon. With her it is always less ideal, more personal, more egotistic than with Terry. In one of her letters she told "how she was led to try to get a job again, in order to buy some pretty things." A few days' search, however, disgusted her and brought her back completely to the mood of the salon, and led her 'deeply to appreciate Hedda Gabler, and to condemn American morality and the "good" people. Of Hedda she wrote:
"Her character always did appeal to me, but last night I was in the mood especially to understand and sympathise with Hedda, to be Hedda, in fact. For a few hours I was as brave and wonderful in thought and feeling as she. It was the reaction from my stupid days in hunting a job. Her disgust with everything, her search for something new and different, the fascination she felt for saying and doing dangerous and reckless things- this I could understand so thoroughly! I was in a very reckless and discontented mood, but I was able to get away from myself and become Hedda for awhile; and this made me think of what a wonderful thing it is, what a power Ibsen has, to produce such emotions by merely stringing a few words together. Why, the very name Hedda, Hedda Gabler! When Eilert says it, what does it not convey! Terry and I had a long talk about it, and about literature in general, so the result was that I became calm, quiet, and reflective-as I love to be, but which I can be only very seldom. I have an almost continuous craving for something new and strange, like Hedda. But somehow reading and thinking about her calmed me. I can find new emotions in books, and this satisfies me for a time, but they are never vital enough to last me long. It is only sterile emotions we derive from literature, and so I turn again restlessly to life.
"But when I turn to life I find for the most part people who are unwilling to give themselves up to life, who will not follow out their moods, or have none. When I am no longer capable of abandoning myself, why continue? Most people seem to me to be dried up. They look as if they never felt anything, so expressionless, so automatic are they, as if they had been wound up to walk and talk, and eat and sleep in precisely the same way for a certain number of years. This seems to be the American type. I suppose you have read of the Caruso affair-how he kissed a woman in Central Park, or wanted to, and the howl it made? The way they all jumped on him, in the name of morality! And you remember what happened to Gorky, when he was here? Why, these American stiffs, what do they mean by morality? Since they are much too cold-blooded for immortality, what do they know about it? This country is composed of pie-eating, ice-water drinking, sour-faced business people. If one with emotions comes to this country, he is of course immoral. If there were no foreigners here, this country would resemble the North Pole.
"I'm glad I am not an American in blood, for then I would not be as interesting to myself as I am now. Sometimes I stand before my mirror and look at myself for a long, long time; it always surprises me that I look so commonplace. Surely, something of what I have in me ought to show in my face. But I know it's there, anyway. I know I'm altogether different from anyone else, I know it with a kind of fierce joy; not better, of course, but different.
"For instance, this regularity and system they talk about! You wrote me to be more regular and the like of that, if I wanted to sleep better. You, too, are a typical American! just imagine me drinking milk to make me sleep or grow fat I The thought of such a thing makes me shudder. Your remark about amorous sport being a soporific if performed regularly and without excitement made me double up with laughter. But I am quite sure that the performance of such a "duty" would not induce sleep, I am only moved to such things by new lovers, and then I desire not sleep but wakefulness. And then, too, usually such desires come to me at noon, not at night, and who ever heard of sleeping at noon! "As for the other physical exercises that you recommend, I do walk along muddy, prosaic streets and work in our household until I grow weary and ask the gods what sins I have committed. My beloved cigarettes) which are as dear to me as sleep itself, my solace when sleep flies, my comfort, you would take these away from me! What would I do without them? I am without them sometimes? when Terry takes some of my tobacco, and then I am angry at him! The only plan I have is to have enough tobacco. Otherwise, I have nothing arranged, no plan. You think there is something fine in having logical arrangements for all things. I have never felt that way. I am only a poor creature of an hour, of a moment, and have never had plans. I would love to be where you are now, in Paris, that home of the planless, the free and joyous and emotional people."
What most people think is good, is worth while) is in good taste, the salon rejected; partly, of course, in the spirit of mere rejection, of revolt, but based nevertheless on a higher ideal of human love than obtains in our society. These anarchists are not historians or practical people and they are not as much interested in what society must be as in what society ought to be; and because they see that society is not what it ought to be, because they as unfortunate members of the labouring class feel that the origin of our society is the root of injustice, they rebel totally against that society, rejecting the good with the evil. They passionately believe that the real and radical evil in our social world is partly kept there by our very justice, by our very morality, our very religion-kept there not so much by what is called evil in our society as by what is called good. They see that much large kindness is prevented by the morality which is expressed in the idea of private property, that much large virtue is denied by the institution of marriage, that psychological truth and Christian kindness at once are not considered by the social court, which looks only to the law-to the complex, historical law, so often meaningless and unjust to human feeling, so often based upon special interests" and ancient prejudices.
Their situation, as proletarian interpreters of the working class, enables them to see whatever is true in this view with peculiar vividness. For, of course, it is to their interest to see this truth; for truth is only an impassioned statement of our fundamental needs.
The salon was composed of the poor and the criminal, and what kept it together was the human desire to form a society, the norms of judgment of which should give value to the individual members-the deep need of justification.
There were fakirs in the salon, unkind people, unjust people, vicious people; there were mere "climbers," persons who saw their only chance for recognition and livelihood in the espousal of anarchistic ideas. But there were also kind people, relatively just people, and moderate ones, honest and strenuous with themselves. There were none perfect, as there are none perfect in any society. We shall see how Terry became disgusted finally with the anarchists themselves, preferring even insanity and probable death to them.
And Marie's letters are full of satire of her companions, of the perception of their weaknesses and inconsistences. She never embraces or rejects them so completely as Terry does, for she sees them more clearly; therefore she sees them more humorously, understands them better. Her letters teem with "psychological gossip," so to speak, in which some of her companions seem portrayed with relative truth. One she wrote me, while I was seeing something in London, of an anarchist named Nicoll, who was a friend of William Morris and still edits Morris's old paper, is full of both appreciation and satire of a number of "radicals":
"An old friend of Nicoll's used to talk to me by the hour about him. He, the friend, an ordinary, rather stupid fellow, once helped poor Nicoll, got a room for him and gave him money, after he was released from prison. He felt proud to think that a man like Nicoll would accept hospitality 'from a poor bloke like me,' as he put it. His friendship with Nicoll has been the great event of his life. Whenever anything occurs in the radical movement which recalls ever so slightly the affair of which Nicoll was the scapegoat, his old friend will say, in his funny Jewish Cockney, 'That's always the wey, like Nicoll's kise, for example.' Then he launches forth into eloquent streams of denunciation, for he does not regard Nicoll as at all insane, but on, the contrary, 'the finest man ever downed' by aristocrats like Turner and Kropotkin.
"This affair has made our friend pessimistic about anarchism, at times, and inclined to join the socialist party. His life is made miserable by the ceaseless debate of his mind and soul over which of these two philosophies is the best one for the race. He, suspiciously, is always looking for another case like Nicoll's, and is doubtful about all movements, not only anarchism and socialism, but all which preach liberty, justice, and the like, such as Theosophy, Single Tax, Sun Worshippers, Spirit Fruiters, Holy Rollers, Upton Sinclair's Helicot Colony, and Parker Sercombe's Spencer-Whitman Centre. All these he has tested and found more or less wanting. Life grows daily more melancholy for him, as he continues, on account of 'Nicoll's Kise,' to probe beneath the surface of all the cults and movements which profess boundless love for humanity, truth, justice and freedom.
"P. R., whom you have also met in London, has got himself into trouble by making inflammatory speeches in Germany. When they talked of arresting him, he immediately claimed American citizenship. But if he ever turned up in America again they would clap him in jail so quick it would make his head swim. He, together with McQueen, was arrested here some years ago for helping start the New Jersey riots, but he skipped his bonds, to the great disgust of the bondsmen, who were comrades in the movement. The movement in the whole United States) Canada, Europe, and Asia was divided into factions over this affair, and very nearly went to pieces. But it was ridiculous to arrest him in the first place, for he could not incite a feather to riot. He is one of those flamboyant windbags, with a terrific command of high-sounding phrases, eloquent gestures, and fine eyes the kind sixteen-year-old girls admire-to think I once loved him, or thought I did I He is a big little physical coward and prides himself on being the realization of Nietzsche's Uebermensch.
"The movement in Chicago is about to resume its usual winter activity by the opening of the Social Science League this Sunday evening. There are many cultured people in this city who think the Social Science League is too crude and vulgar to grace with their presence, therefore it has been resolved to establish another society of a more exclusive order, in which may be discussed important questions in a more subdued, rational, and artistic way. It is especially desired that only the 'artistic' anarchist be admitted to this new society. The crude element of anarchism is to be excluded as much as possible, but what cannot be excluded is to be subdued. If this is impossible, it shall be expelled. All illustrious lights will speak there. Terry has been invited, but has refused on democratic grounds, and sticks to that 'bum' society, the S. S. League.
"One of the girls who has gone over to the (swells' is Mary. She is a factory girl and an important little person, who prides herself on the amount of culture she possesses, and the famous people she has met and talked with. I introduced her once to a literary man, but she did not know he was so, at the time, and only nodded coldly. But when she found he was the famous Mr. F--- she was angry at me for not putting her 'next' and was much distressed, for here was another famous man whom she had nearly talked with.
"Another girl whom I know has done a wonderful thing with a certain man. He is a great, strong German, who guzzles beer and bullies the other fellow in his arguments about anarchism. When I first knew him' several years ago, he was married to a nice non-resistant sort of a girl, whom he treated awfully bad-without intending to. For he is really generous and good-hearted, but is firmly imbued with the idea, which he thought was the beginning of anarchism, that one must be firm and have one's own way and do all that one wants to do, without allowing any scruple of conscience or morals or delicacy to interfere; that to be a man and an anarchist one must never allow a petticoat to come between you and your desire. So he did what he wanted, regardless of anybody. He was a sort of brutal Overman; one could not help admiring the kind of barbaric splendour there was about him. And his poor wife idolised him and would stand everything from him.
"Now he is here with another girl. Talk about a change! He has turned from a lion to a mouse. She is a little bit of a thing, only nineteen, rather silly and not very attractive. She is pretty in an outward way, but her features are unlit by any glimmer of feeling or thought, or even good nature-a slothful, empty sort of prettiness. She makes him walk a chalk-line, and it is contemptible and ridiculous and pitiful to see that big man cringe before this poor, pretty, empty little thing. Once in a while he tears himself away, and a glimmer of his old self, returns; for an hour or two he plays his old rôle again, but if she finds out about it, it is very unpleasant for him. It is strange how weak women can subdue at times these big, husky creatures. But the more they succeed, the more dissatisfied they grow, until at last they feel contempt for the man they have subdued. The girl in this case feels that way about this big, powerful man. If he would assert himself, she would love him, as she did when she saw how he bullied his wife and all others. But at bottom we women are pleased, for it is a triumph for our sex, though we feel a little jealous because not one of us could have been the lion-tamer, instead of this weak little creature. Terry is wild about it, and tries to lead the enslaved Hercules into evil ways and keep him out at night, but all these things have lost their charm for the big man, who now would rather stay at home with the little girl. She, however, finds things very tedious, particularly in the day time, when her big man is at the factory, for she has nothing to do. So she passes her time, at Esther's house.
"I would go crazy were I in Esther's place. Poor Esther, she doesn't know what to do, either, for she cannot be always ill. She takes pleasure in being an invalid, but she can't use this plea for sympathy all the time, people get tired of it. But Esther is fortunate in having somebody to whom she can tell all her aches and pains and their history. She has found a unique occupation, in scrubbing. She starts Monday mornings and finishes Saturday afternoons, and then on Monday starts again. I was with her a week, and that's the way she spent the 'days. Perhaps she is like Mary Maclain and finds a peculiar inspiration in this fascinating task. If you were a woman I would write more about Esther's scrubbing, which is very wonderful, but you probably would not understand. Jay, her lover, comes home from work every evening, and, after eating the chaste evening meal of rice and beans, lights his corncob pipe, settles himself comfortably in his chair and listens carefully to the description of the aches and pains which have afflicted Esther that day. These pains continue in spite of all the beautiful scrubbing. He suggests different remedies until his pipe is finished, then he calmly retires to his library and reviews a book and reads several pamphlets, writes an article for 'The Demonstrator' or 'The Appeal to Reason' or some other radical paper and attends to his voluminous correspondence with the leading radicals of the day. Then he retires for the night, also Esther, after the farewell scrub of the dishes, table, and the rest, and the kids, too, go to roost. When I was there, I also went to bed, though it was only about half past eight.
"About half past five in the morning a most infernal alarm clock emits a most hellish noise. Jay and Esther tumble 'from their couch, light the lamp, and resume their occupations. After a very chaste breakfast Esther continues her scrubbing and Jay finishes his correspondence and puts in the rest of the time until seven o'clock, when his work in the factory begins, in studying the new language, Esperanto. Oh, I spent a most charming and delightful week there; I could hardly tear myself away."
One of Marie's amorous episodes, led her to Detroit, with a "fake" anarchist, of whom there are many. After a week or two of dissipation and disillusionment, Marie returned, very ill, to the "Salon," where Terry received her with his usual stoicism, and acted as trained nurse. Repentant and disgusted, Marie wrote me from her convalescent bed:
"I am still far from well, but am much better. My illness was caused by too much dissipation, which I plunged into for relaxation. For some weeks previously I had got a particularly large dose of my environment. Terry and I live in surroundings which would kill an ordinary person. Our little home is not as bad in the summer time. We can have the windows and doors open, but now in this cold winter we must all live in one room, a very small room, where there is a stove. The dampness penetrates right through the walls and the wind comes through the holes in the window panes. Sundays are the hardest days for me. Then Kate, queen of the kitchen, is here, and she delights in cooking all sorts of things on that day, so for the remaining six days our home smells of her culinary opertions-most abominable, this odour of stale cookery! And what a mess our rooms are in on Monday morning! You wouldn't comprehend, even if I told you. I have to clean up all this, and I wish I could fly away every Sunday. At times I get so tired of this way of living. I hope some day I may find a large barn with a hay loft: I would immediately abolish Kate and her cookery and would be comfortable for once in my life.
"So I ran away, for a time, partly for relief, partly because I was rather taken with a Detroit anarchist who was visiting us. Though he was a comrade, he was really a Philistine, which I did not see till afterwards. I saw only that he was young and lusty and wanted a lark, as I did, so I went with him on an awful tear, and returned terribly done up, as you know.
"I have been lying here in this little room for three weeks. I thought surely I should die, and I was neither glad nor sorry. It was curious, this sensation of approaching death. All these days Terry sat opposite me at a table reading or writing, I could see him distinctly at times, at other times everything was misty or completely dark, only his voice reached me from such a long, long distance. He sat there like an implacable fate, with calm, cold eyes, gazing above and beyond me. Between two slow heart beats I felt it was almost a duty to call him and bid him farewell, but some strange sense of shyness held me back. I tried so hard to think of what I might do, and the most grotesque and comical things suggested themselves. At one lucid moment I had the brilliant idea of becoming a jockey!
"Other ways of passing my life revolved ceaselessly in my brain, and now at last perhaps I have found it. Now that I am better I am reading Swinburne aloud, in bed. The sound of my voice carried along with the music of his matchless rhythms is to me a delight and a wonder. I have discovered that the Garden of Proserpine should be read only Aen one is in a reclining position. Then one's voice conveys more perfectly the weariness of all things mortal and the sweet delight of rest. I find I must practice breathing more deeply, if I wish to render the voluptuous, sinuous lines. Don't you think this is a great ambition, to read Swinburne well? I am so glad to find something to do, something I love to do. Perhaps I may escape from all by this.
"It is now five days since I started to write to you, but I still lie on my back and dream and have not found my place, and never shall. Swinburne's never-ceasing, monotonous rhymes have palled upon me. Even this is sordid, and then, if so, what is the rest?-the daily life filled with brutish and shallow men and women? When I can no longer endure poetry and daily life-it is then that I rush into brutal dissipation, from which I awake sick in mind and body, without hope or desire for anything but sleep: and then, once more, the Garden of Proserpine reveals itself to me, or some other thing of beauty. It is an eternal round.
"I often think that the only way for me to be in harmony with the scheme of things', would be to go down into the gutter. Some years ago during my brief period of -prostitution, I suppose- I felt a strange importance. It was death to me, but something real, too. I was fulfilling a need of society, a horrible need, but a need. And then, too, all my men friends often go to these houses. All the nice, intellectual men are to be met there men from all ranks of life-men a girl like me could never meet in any other way. During that brief time, at moments between a sleep and a drink, I used to have this fancy, which sometimes makes me shudder now, as
I think of it, and yet somehow seems such a fine satisfying protest-a feeling that some day I would be seen waddling about the streets of Chicago, known to all the denizens of the under world as Drunken Mary! I saw myself fat and repulsive, begging nickels from the passers-by and perhaps strangled at the end by some passing hobo for the few nickels in my stocking. And am I essentially worse than you, or my lady, or anyone whom Society protects and honours? To me poet and pimp, politician, reformer, thief, aristocrat, prostitute are one. Caste and class distinctions are too subtle for my poor brain and too outrageous for my heart, which still tries to beat with and for humanity."
Terry refers only in a line or two, characteristically, to this adventure and illness of Marie.
"She is seriously ill, the result of a mad adventure. As I exist for others when they are in pain, I am her trained nurse. She is now recovering from the drugs, the debauching, and the raving madness of sleepless nights. I will give you an account sometime of a strange piece of magic charlatanism, practiced under the guise of beautiful art! . . .
"I think her growing recovery is largely due to the inability to secure a doctor to christen her disease. I feel rather worn with 'domestic drudgery, cooking, laundering, wrestling with disease without and demons within. Still, as a trained nurse who can go sleepless for three weeks, I do not look upon myself as a failure."
Marie's health improved slowly, due in part to the unsanitary conditions of her home. She wrote:
"The roof of this miserable shack leaks all the time. The other day the owner came around in his automobile. I was speechless. It made me mad to think of that hound, riding in his car which we had paid for. Oh, the miserable people who live in these two houses: old, decrepit women who earn their living by washing clothes for others. It would make your blood boil to see them. And then to see that fat dog in his auto, accepting money from them and not ever giving them a whole roof in return. When I saw him I wanted to say so much. I could only choke. Oh, when you hear of the brutality of the mob, don't believe it. The mob may indeed, under the impulse of the moment, burn and destroy; but think of the cold brutality of a judge sitting on his bench and calmly condemning some poor wretch to be killed, and this with no emotion. How can this be? The revolutionists in France were the kindest beings, in comparison. They had personal injuries to avenge, and all they did was to strike off an enemy's head and that was the end. There was even a chance of being saved, if the doomed one could find the right expression, some little sentence that would affect the brutal (?) people. But this could not happen before a judge!
"The trouble with the poor is, they have not enough imagination. They are not refined in their cruelties. They could never invent the Bull Pen, but would only quickly destroy. It is raining to-day, and I have been moving about trying to find a dry spot where I can continue writing without having a large splash come down on my nose. But I guess I'll have to give it up. Oh, that cursed landlord! I'd like to do something to him, not so much for myself as for those poor old things, they are all rheumatic and stiff, but continue to live here because, poor souls, they think the rent is low. Ye gods, the place is not fit for dogs to live in, and yet he charges all the way from five dollars up for these filthy, worm-eaten, rotten holes. And yet the old decrepit inhabitants of this rich man's house unbend their stiff knees in profound salaams whenever he appears."
But in these leaky rooms of Kate's there was often much jollity and gaiety, when the "Salon" had its sessions, and proletarians of the pale cast of thought sat and smoked their cigarettes, drank their beer, kissed their girls, and talked of philosophy and literature and social evil and possible regeneration. Then they were always happy, whatever the subject of their talk. Marie wrote me to my villa in Italy:
"You write of your beautiful gardens and seem quite happy. We too are well and happy in our little old joint; you are the only one missing to make our circle complete. But perhaps sometime you can be with us, with a can on the table and good talk going round, and then I'm sure you will not miss your Italian garden. Emma Goldman and Berkman have been visiting Chicago, and we had some jolly good times while they were here. She is a good fellow, when she is alone with a few choice friends. Then she lets herself out. The other day we gave a social for these two celebrated ones. Positively, no police, reporters, or strangers were admitted. Next day there was a hue and cry in all the papers, dark conspiracy, and so on! But all we did was to have a great time: everybody was drunk before morning, and everybody felt kindly toward the whole world, and would not have cursed even the greatest 'exploiter.' We finished the evening or rather the morning by an orgy of kissing. It was quite interesting and innocent. Smith has at last begun to return my affection. I think he likes me a little now. At least, he calls here frequently, and he told me once he would like to tear me limb from limb I This remark made me shudder, not unpleasantly. It must be good to be torn in that way by such a nice man.
"The rose-leaves you sent from Italy retained some of their sweet smell. The rose is my favourite flower, and I like to imagine that perhaps some day my dust will be soil for roses. Last summer I found a poor little stillborn thing which had been hastily thrown aside, near a place where Terry and I were camping. Some poor little 'fleur de mal' which I covered from sight, in the sand, and marked the place with some stones and flowers. The next year I found some wild white daisies growing there. This made a 'deep impression on me and strengthened my hope that 1, too, might become soil for roses, flowers of love.
"Henry is a rose, too, in his way. He is getting more picturesque every day. At the Emma Goldman social he was ornamented with a new straw hat, which had a very high crown and narrow brim with little black ribbons for the side. Also, an enormous tie, the ends of which fluttered gaily and coquettishly in the wind. His curling black locks nearly reached his shoulders, and he has vowed never again to cut his hair, as a protest against the conventions of society. I left the social with him, and as we walked down the street in the morning he was a target for all eyes. He was talking philosophy and love to me, but this changed to fury. He flung his arms about, and shouted to the crowd: 'Oh, you monkeys, sheep, dogs,' and several other kinds of quadrupeds and birds. Henry is a peculiar man, but he is as sincere as anybody living and is a friend of that wonderful man, Kropotkin. When Kropotkin was in Chicago some years ago a reception was given him at Hull House. Poor Henry eagerly hastened there to see his friend-dressed in unbecoming and informal attire. He had not seen Kropotkin for years) and so anxious was he to meet him again that he forgot his raggedness. But the dear, sympathetic settlement workers were decidedly polite in showing Henry the door. But, at the psychological moment, Kropotkin appeared, threw his arms around Henry, kissed him, and carried on like an emigrant who runs across an exile."
1. See "The Spirit of Labour," Chapter 4, called "An Anarchist Salon," for a description of some of the principal members of this society.-H. H.
2. This is worthy of some of the mythological- Christian paintings of Mantegna, where the vices are being scourged by the indignant virtues.-H. H.