Project Gutenberg's Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 2, April 1906, by Various
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Title: Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 2, April 1906
Monthly Magazine Devoted to Social Science and Literature
Editor: Emma Goldman
Release Date: November 1, 2008 [EBook #27118]
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|"To the Generation Knocking at the Door" JOHN DAVIDSON
|Observations and Comments
|The Child and Its Enemies EMMA GOLDMAN
|Hope and Fear L. I. PERETZ
|John Most M. B.
|Civilization in Africa
|Our Purpose MARY HANSEN
|Marriage and the Home JOHN R. CORYELL
|The Modern Newspaper
|A Visit to Sing Sing
|The Old and the New Drama MAX BAGINSKI
|A Sentimental Journey.—Police Protection
|The Moral Demand OTTO ERICH HARTLEBEN
"TO THE GENERATION KNOCKING AT THE DOOR."
By John Davidson.
Break—break it open; let the knocker rust;
Consider no "shalt not," nor no man's "must";
And, being entered, promptly take the lead,
Setting aside tradition, custom, creed;
Nor watch the balance of the huckster's beam;
Declare your hardiest thought, your proudest dream;
Await no summons; laugh at all rebuff;
High hearts and you are destiny enough.
The mystery and the power enshrined in you
Are old as time and as the moment new;
And none but you can tell what part you play,
Nor can you tell until you make assay,
For this alone, this always, will succeed,
The miracle and magic of the deed.
OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS.
Whoever severs himself from Mother Earth and her flowing sources of life
goes into exile. A vast part of civilization has ceased to feel the deep
relation with our mother. How they hasten and fall over one another, the
many thousands of the great cities; how they swallow their food,
everlastingly counting the minutes with cold hard faces; how they dwell
packed together, close to one another, above and beneath, in dark gloomy
stuffed holes, with dull hearts and insensitive heads, from the lack of
space and air! Economic necessity causes such hateful pressure. Economic
necessity? Why not economic stupidity? This seems a more appropriate
name for it. Were it not for lack of understanding and knowledge, the
necessity of escaping from the agony of an endless search for profit
would make itself felt more keenly.
Must the Earth forever be arranged like an ocean steamer, with large,
luxurious rooms and luxurious food for a select few, and underneath in
the steerage, where the great mass can barely breathe from dirt and the
poisonous air? Neither unconquerable external nor internal necessity
forces the human race to such life; that which keeps it in such
condition are ignorance and indifference.
Since Turgenieff wrote his "Fathers and Sons" and the "New Generation,"
the appearance of the Revolutionary army in Russia has changed features.
At that time only the intellectuals and college youths, a small coterie
of idealists, who knew no distinction between class and caste, took part
in the tremendous work of reconstruction. The revolutionist of those
days had delicate white hands, lots of learning, æstheticism and a good
portion of nervousness. He attempted to go among the people, but the
people understood him not, for he did not speak the people's tongue. It
was a great effort for most of those brave ones to overcome their
disgust at the dirt and dense ignorance they met among the peasants, who
absolutely lacked comprehension of new ideas; therefore, there could be
no understanding between the intellectuals, who wanted to help, and the
sufferers, who needed help. These two elements were brought in closer
touch through industrialism. The Russian peasant, robbed of the means to
remain on his soil, was driven into the large industrial centres, and
there he learned to know those brave and heroic men and women who gave
up their comfort and career in their efforts for the liberation of their
These ideas that have undergone such great changes in Russia within the
last decade should serve as good material for study for those who claim
the Russian Revolution is dead.
Nicholas Tchaykovsky, one of Russia's foremost workers in the
revolutionary movement, and one who, through beauty of character,
simplicity of soul and great strategical ability, has been the idol of
the Russian revolutionary youth for many years, is here as the delegate
of the Russian Revolutionary Socialist party, to raise funds for a new
uprising. He was right when he said, at the meeting in Grand Central
Palace, "The Russian Revolution will live until the decayed and cowardly
regime of tyranny in Russia is rooted out of existence."
The French have a new President. Loubet was succeeded by Fallières. The
father of the new one was a great gormandizer of Pantagruelian
dimensions. He died of overloading his stomach. The son made his career
like a cautious upstart. He is well enough acquainted with himself to
know that he is not a Machiavelli. Therefore, he does not boast of his
sagacity, but rather of his integrity. A politician is irresistible to a
crowd when he cries out to them: "My opponents express the suspicion
that I am a numskull. I do not care to argue the point with them, but
this I will say by the way of explanation, fellow citizens, that I am a
thoroughly honest man to the very roots of my hair." By this method one
can attain the presidency of a republic.
As Secretary of the Interior, Fallières caused the arrest of the
Socialist poet, Clovis Hugues. At another time he declared: "As long as
I am in office, I will not tolerate the red flag on the open street."
The French bourgeois have found in Fallières their fitting man of straw
for seven years.
The only genuine Democrat of these times is Death. He does not admit of
any class distinctions. He mows down a proletarian and a Marshall Field
with the same scythe. How imperfectly the world is arranged. It should
be possible to shift the bearing of children and the dying from the rich
to the poor—for good pay, of course.
Whosoever believes that the law is infallible and can bring about order
in the chaotic social conditions, knows the curative effect of law to
the minutest detail. The question how things might be improved is met
with this reply: "All criminals should be caught in a net like fish and
put away for safe keeping, so that society remains in the care of the
People with a capacity to judge for themselves think differently. Mr.
Charlton T. Lewis, President of the National Prison Association,
"Our county jails everywhere are the schools and colleges of crime. In
the light of social science it were better for the world if every one of
them were destroyed than that this work should be continued. Experience
shows that the system of imprisonment of minor offenders for short terms
is but a gigantic measure for the manufacture of criminals. Freedom, not
confinement, is the natural state of man, and the only condition under
which influences for reformation can have their full efficiency....
Prison life is unnatural at best. Man is a social creature. Confinement
tends to lower his consciousness of dignity and responsibility, to
weaken the motives which govern his relations to his race, to impair the
foundations of character and unfit him for independent life. To consign
a man to prison is commonly to enrol him in the criminal class.... With
all the solemnity and emphasis of which I am capable, I utter the
profound conviction, after twenty years of constant study of our prison
population, that more than nine-tenths of them ought never to have been
Government and authority are responsible for the conditions in the
western mining districts.
Is not the existence of government considered as a necessity on the
grounds that it is here to maintain peace, law and order? This is an
Let us see how the government of Colorado has lived up to its calling
within the last few years. It has permitted that the labor protective
laws that have passed the legislature should be broken and trampled upon
by the mine owners.
The money powers care little for the eight-hour law, and when the mine
workers insisted upon keeping that law, the authorities of Colorado
immediately went to the rescue of the exploiters. Not only were police
and soldiers let loose upon the Western Federation of Miners; but the
government of Colorado permitted the mine owners to recruit an army to
fight the labor organizations. Hirelings were formed into a so-called
citizens' committee, that inaugurated a reign of terror. These legal
lawbreakers invaded peaceful homes during the day and night, and those
that were in the least suspected of belonging to or sympathizing with
the Western Federation of Miners were torn out of bed, arrested and
dragged off to the bull pen, or transported into the desert, without
food or shelter, many miles from other living beings. Some of these
victims were crippled for life and died as a result thereof.
When it became known that the W. F. M. continued to stand erect,
regardless of brutal attacks, it was decided to strike the last violent
blow against it.
Orchard, the man of honor, confessed, and the lawbreakers appealed to
the law against Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone.
This time the government did not hesitate. The eight-hour and protective
labor law was too insignificant to enforce, but to bring the officers of
the W. F. M. to account, that, of course, is the duty and the function
of the State.
There is not the slightest hope that the authorities who, for a number
of years, have permitted the violation of the law, will be put on
trial, but the crime they have perpetrated is a weighty argument in
favor of those who maintain that the State is not an independent
institution, but a tool of the possessing class.
Many radicals entertain the queer notion that they cannot arrange their
own lives, according to their own ideas, but that they have to adapt
themselves to the conditions they hate, and which they fight in theory
with fire and sword.
Anything rather than arouse too much public condemnation! The lives they
lead are dependent upon the opinion of the Philistines. They are
revolutionists in theory, reactionists in practice.
The words of Louis XIV, "I am the State," have been taken up as a motto
by the American policeman. One of the New York papers contains the
"In discharging some seventy prisoners in the Jefferson Market Police
Court yesterday morning, the Magistrate said to the police in charge of
the cases: 'I am amazed that you men should bring these prisoners before
me without a shred of evidence on which they can be held.'"
Such is the blessing of this republic. We are not confronted by one czar
of the size of an elephant, but by a hundred thousand czars, as small as
mosquitoes, but equally disagreeable and annoying.
Friends of Mother Earth in various Western cities have proposed a
lecture tour in behalf of the magazine. So far I have heard from
Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago. Those of other cities who
wish to have me lecture there, will please communicate with me as to
dates at once. The tour is to begin May 12th and last for a month or six
Box 217, Madison Square Station.
THE CHILD AND ITS ENEMIES.
By Emma Goldman.
Is the child to be considered as an individuality, or as an object to be
moulded according to the whims and fancies of those about it? This seems
to me to be the most important question to be answered by parents and
educators. And whether the child is to grow from within, whether all
that craves expression will be permitted to come forth toward the light
of day; or whether it is to be kneaded like dough through external
forces, depends upon the proper answer to this vital question.
The longing of the best and noblest of our times makes for the strongest
individualities. Every sensitive being abhors the idea of being treated
as a mere machine or as a mere parrot of conventionality and
respectability, the human being craves recognition of his kind.
It must be borne in mind that it is through the channel of the child
that the development of the mature man must go, and that the present
ideas of the educating or training of the latter in the school and the
family—even the family of the liberal or radical—are such as to stifle
the natural growth of the child.
Every institution of our day, the family, the State, our moral codes,
sees in every strong, beautiful, uncompromising personality a deadly
enemy; therefore every effort is being made to cramp human emotion and
originality of thought in the individual into a straight-jacket from its
earliest infancy; or to shape every human being according to one
pattern; not into a well-rounded individuality, but into a patient work
slave, professional automaton, tax-paying citizen, or righteous
moralist. If one, nevertheless, meets with real spontaneity (which, by
the way, is a rare treat,) it is not due to our method of rearing or
educating the child: the personality often asserts itself, regardless of
official and family barriers. Such a discovery should be celebrated as
an unusual event, since the obstacles placed in the way of growth and
development of character are so numerous that it must be considered a
miracle if it retains its strength and beauty and survives the various
attempts at crippling that which is most essential to it.
Indeed, he who has freed himself from the fetters of the
thoughtlessness and stupidity of the commonplace; he who can stand
without moral crutches, without the approval of public opinion—private
laziness, Friedrich Nietzsche called it—may well intone a high and
voluminous song of independence and freedom; he has gained the right to
it through fierce and fiery battles. These battles already begin at the
most delicate age.
The child shows its individual tendencies in its plays, in its
questions, in its association with people and things. But it has to
struggle with everlasting external interference in its world of thought
and emotion. It must not express itself in harmony with its nature, with
its growing personality. It must become a thing, an object. Its
questions are met with narrow, conventional, ridiculous replies, mostly
based on falsehoods; and, when, with large, wondering, innocent eyes, it
wishes to behold the wonders of the world, those about it quickly lock
the windows and doors, and keep the delicate human plant in a hothouse
atmosphere, where it can neither breathe nor grow freely.
Zola, in his novel "Fecundity," maintains that large sections of people
have declared death to the child, have conspired against the birth of
the child,—a very horrible picture indeed, yet the conspiracy entered
into by civilization against the growth and making of character seems to
me far more terrible and disastrous, because of the slow and gradual
destruction of its latent qualities and traits and the stupefying and
crippling effect thereof upon its social well-being.
Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward
making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity
produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting
antagonism with each other.
The ideal of the average pedagogist is not a complete, well-rounded,
original being; rather does he seek that the result of his art of
pedagogy shall be automatons of flesh and blood, to best fit into the
treadmill of society and the emptiness and dulness of our lives. Every
home, school, college and university stands for dry, cold
utilitarianism, overflooding the brain of the pupil with a tremendous
amount of ideas, handed down from generations past. "Facts and data,"
as they are called, constitute a lot of information, well enough perhaps
to maintain every form of authority and to create much awe for the
importance of possession, but only a great handicap to a true
understanding of the human soul and its place in the world.
Truths dead and forgotten long ago, conceptions of the world and its
people, covered with mould, even during the times of our grandmothers,
are being hammered into the heads of our young generation. Eternal
change, thousandfold variations, continual innovation are the essence of
life. Professional pedagogy knows nothing of it, the systems of
education are being arranged into files, classified and numbered. They
lack the strong fertile seed which, falling on rich soil, enables them
to grow to great heights, they are worn and incapable of awakening
spontaneity of character. Instructors and teachers, with dead souls,
operate with dead values. Quantity is forced to take the place of
quality. The consequences thereof are inevitable.
In whatever direction one turns, eagerly searching for human beings who
do not measure ideas and emotions with the yardstick of expediency, one
is confronted with the products, the herdlike drilling instead of the
result of spontaneous and innate characteristics working themselves out
"No traces now I see
Whatever of a spirit's agency.
'Tis drilling, nothing more."
These words of Faust fit our methods of pedagogy perfectly. Take, for
instance, the way history is being taught in our schools. See how the
events of the world become like a cheap puppet show, where a few
wire-pullers are supposed to have directed the course of development of
the entire human race.
And the history of our own nation! Was it not chosen by Providence to
become the leading nation on earth? And does it not tower mountain high
over other nations? Is it not the gem of the ocean? Is it not
incomparably virtuous, ideal and brave? The result of such ridiculous
teaching is a dull, shallow patriotism, blind to its own limitations,
with bull-like stubbornness, utterly incapable of judging of the
capacities of other nations. This is the way the spirit of youth is
emasculated, deadened through an over-estimation of one's own value. No
wonder public opinion can be so easily manufactured.
"Predigested food" should be inscribed over every hall of learning as a
warning to all who do not wish to lose their own personalities and their
original sense of judgment, who, instead, would be content with a large
amount of empty and shallow shells. This may suffice as a recognition of
the manifold hindrances placed in the way of an independent mental
development of the child.
Equally numerous, and not less important, are the difficulties that
confront the emotional life of the young. Must not one suppose that
parents should be united to children by the most tender and delicate
chords? One should suppose it; yet, sad as it may be, it is,
nevertheless, true, that parents are the first to destroy the inner
riches of their children.
The Scriptures tell us that God created Man in His own image, which has
by no means proven a success. Parents follow the bad example of their
heavenly master; they use every effort to shape and mould the child
according to their image. They tenaciously cling to the idea that the
child is merely part of themselves—an idea as false as it is injurious,
and which only increases the misunderstanding of the soul of the child,
of the necessary consequences of enslavement and subordination thereof.
As soon as the first rays of consciousness illuminate the mind and heart
of the child, it instinctively begins to compare its own personality
with the personality of those about it. How many hard and cold stone
cliffs meet its large wondering gaze? Soon enough it is confronted with
the painful reality that it is here only to serve as inanimate matter
for parents and guardians, whose authority alone gives it shape and
The terrible struggle of the thinking man and woman against political,
social and moral conventions owes its origin to the family, where the
child is ever compelled to battle against the internal and external use
of force. The categorical imperatives: You shall! you must! this is
right! that is wrong! this is true! that is false! shower like a violent
rain upon the unsophisticated head of the young being and impress upon
its sensibilities that it has to bow before the long established and
hard notions of thoughts and emotions. Yet the latent qualities and
instincts seek to assert their own peculiar methods of seeking the
foundation of things, of distinguishing between what is commonly called
wrong, true or false. It is bent upon going its own way, since it is
composed of the same nerves, muscles and blood, even as those who assume
to direct its destiny. I fail to understand how parents hope that their
children will ever grow up into independent, self-reliant spirits, when
they strain every effort to abridge and curtail the various activities
of their children, the plus in quality and character, which
differentiates their offspring from themselves, and by the virtue of
which they are eminently equipped carriers of new, invigorating ideas. A
young delicate tree, that is being clipped and cut by the gardener in
order to give it an artificial form, will never reach the majestic
height and the beauty as when allowed to grow in nature and freedom.
When the child reaches adolescence, it meets, added to the home and
school restrictions, with a vast amount of hard traditions of social
morality. The cravings of love and sex are met with absolute ignorance
by the majority of parents, who consider it as something indecent and
improper, something disgraceful, almost criminal, to be suppressed and
fought like some terrible disease. The love and tender feelings in the
young plant are turned into vulgarity and coarseness through the
stupidity of those surrounding it, so that everything fine and beautiful
is either crushed altogether or hidden in the innermost depths, as a
great sin, that dares not face the light.
What is more astonishing is the fact that parents will strip themselves
of everything, will sacrifice everything for the physical well-being of
their child, will wake nights and stand in fear and agony before some
physical ailment of their beloved one; but will remain cold and
indifferent, without the slightest understanding before the soul
cravings and the yearnings of their child, neither hearing nor wishing
to hear the loud knocking of the young spirit that demands recognition.
On the contrary, they will stifle the beautiful voice of spring, of a
new life of beauty and splendor of love; they will put the long lean
finger of authority upon the tender throat and not allow vent to the
silvery song of the individual growth, of the beauty of character, of
the strength of love and human relation, which alone make life worth
And yet these parents imagine that they mean best for the child, and for
aught I know, some really do; but their best means absolute death and
decay to the bud in the making. After all, they are but imitating their
own masters in State, commercial, social and moral affairs, by forcibly
suppressing every independent attempt to analyze the ills of society and
every sincere effort toward the abolition of these ills; never able to
grasp the eternal truth that every method they employ serves as the
greatest impetus to bring forth a greater longing for freedom and a
deeper zeal to fight for it.
That compulsion is bound to awaken resistance, every parent and teacher
ought to know. Great surprise is being expressed over the fact that the
majority of children of radical parents are either altogether opposed to
the ideas of the latter, many of them moving along the old antiquated
paths, or that they are indifferent to the new thoughts and teachings of
social regeneration. And yet there is nothing unusual in that. Radical
parents, though emancipated from the belief of ownership in the human
soul, still cling tenaciously to the notion that they own the child, and
that they have the right to exercise their authority over it. So they
set out to mould and form the child according to their own conception of
what is right and wrong, forcing their ideas upon it with the same
vehemence that the average Catholic parent uses. And, with the latter,
they hold out the necessity before the young "to do as I tell you and
not as I do." But the impressionable mind of the child realizes early
enough that the lives of their parents are in contradiction to the ideas
they represent; that, like the good Christian who fervently prays on
Sunday, yet continues to break the Lord's commands the rest of the week,
the radical parent arraigns God, priesthood, church, government,
domestic authority, yet continues to adjust himself to the condition he
abhors. Just so, the Freethought parent can proudly boast that his son
of four will recognize the picture of Thomas Paine or Ingersoll, or that
he knows that the idea of God is stupid. Or that the Social Democratic
father can point to his little girl of six and say, "Who wrote the
Capital, dearie?" "Karl Marx, pa!" Or that the Anarchistic mother can
make it known that her daughter's name is Louise Michel, Sophia
Perovskaya, or that she can recite the revolutionary poems of Herwegh,
Freiligrath, or Shelley, and that she will point out the faces of
Spencer, Bakunin or Moses Harmon almost anywhere.
These are by no means exaggerations; they are sad facts that I have met
with in my experience with radical parents. What are the results of such
methods of biasing the mind? The following is the consequence, and not
very infrequent, either. The child, being fed on one-sided, set and
fixed ideas, soon grows weary of re-hashing the beliefs of its parents,
and it sets out in quest of new sensations, no matter how inferior and
shallow the new experience may be, the human mind cannot endure sameness
and monotony. So it happens that that boy or girl, over-fed on Thomas
Paine, will land in the arms of the Church, or they will vote for
imperialism only to escape the drag of economic determinism and
scientific socialism, or that they open a shirt-waist factory and cling
to their right of accumulating property, only to find relief from the
old-fashioned communism of their father. Or that the girl will marry the
next best man, provided he can make a living, only to run away from the
everlasting talk on variety.
Such a condition of affairs may be very painful to the parents who wish
their children to follow in their path, yet I look upon them as very
refreshing and encouraging psychological forces. They are the greatest
guarantee that the independent mind, at least, will always resist every
external and foreign force exercised over the human heart and head.
Some will ask, what about weak natures, must they not be protected? Yes,
but to be able to do that, it will be necessary to realize that
education of children is not synonymous with herdlike drilling and
training. If education should really mean anything at all, it must
insist upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and
tendencies of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free
individual and eventually also for a free community, which shall make
interference and coercion of human growth impossible.
HOPE AND FEAR.[A]
(Translated from the Jewish of L. I. Peretz.)
....My heart is with you.
My eye does not get weary looking at your flaming banner; my ear does
not get tired listening to your powerful song....
My heart is with you; man's hunger must be appeased, and he must have
light; he must be free, and he must be his own master, master over
himself and his work.
And when you snap at the fist which is trying to strangle you, your
voice, and your ardent protest, preventing you from being heard—I
rejoice, praying that your teeth may be sharpened. And when you are
marching against Sodom and Gomorrah, to tear down the old, my soul is
with you, and the certainty that you must triumph fills and warms my
heart and intoxicates me like old wine....
And yet you frighten me.
I am afraid of the bridled who conquer, for they are apt to become the
oppressors, and every oppressor transgresses against the human soul....
Do you not talk among yourselves of how humanity is to march, like an
army in line, and you are going to sound for it the march on the road?
And yet humanity is not an army.
The strong are going forward, the magnanimous feel more deeply, the
proud rise higher, and yet will you not lay down the cedar in order that
it may not outgrow the grass?
Or will you not spread your wings over mediocrity, or will you not
shield indifference, and protect the gray and uniformly fleeced herd?
* * *
You frighten me.
As conquerors you might become the bureaucracy: to dole out to everybody
his morsel, as is the usage in the poor-house; to arrange work for
everybody as it is done in the galleys. And you will thus crush the
creator of new worlds—the free human will, and fill up with earth the
purest spring of human happiness—human initiative, the power which
braves one against thousands, against peoples, and against generations?
And you will systematize life and bid it to remain on the level of the
And will you not be occupied with regulations: registrating, recording,
estimating—or will you not prescribe how fast and how often the human
pulse must beat, how far the human eye may look ahead, how much the ear
may perceive, and what kinds of dreams the languishing heart may
* * *
With joy in my heart I look at you when you tear down the gates of
Sodom, but my heart trembles at the same time, fearing that you might
erect on its ruins new ones—more chilling and darker ones.
There will be no houses without windows; but fog will envelop the
There will be no empty stomachs, but souls will starve. No ear will hear
cries of woe, but the eagle—the human intellect—will stand at the
trough with clipped wings together with the cow and the ox.
And justice, which has accompanied you on the thorny and bloody path to
victory, will forsake you, and you will not be aware of it, for
conquerors and tyrants are always blind. You will conquer and dominate.
And you will plunge into injustice, and you will not feel the quagmire
under your feet.... Every tyrant thinks he stands on firm ground so long
as he has not been vanquished.
And you will build prisons for those who dare to stretch out their
hands, pointing to the abyss into which you sink; you will tear out the
tongues of the mouths that warn you against those who come after you, to
destroy you and your injustice....
Cruelly will you defend the equality of rights of the herd to use the
grass under its feet and the salt in the ground,—and your enemies will
be the free individuals, the overmen, the ingenious inventors, the
prophets, the saviors, the poets and artists.
* * *
Everything that comes to pass occurs in space and time.... The present
is the existing: the stable, the firm, and therefore the rigid and
frozen—the to-day, which will and must perish....
Time is change—it varies and develops; it is the eternally sprouting,
the blossoming, the eternal morning....
And as your "morning," to which you aspire, will become the "to-day,"
you will become the upholders of the "yesterday," of that which is
lifeless—dead. You will trample the sproutings of to-morrow and destroy
its blossoms, and pour streams of cold water upon the heads that nestle
your prophecies, your dreams, and your new hopes.
The to-day is unwilling to die, bloody is every sunset....
I yearn and hope for your victory, but I fear and tremble for your
You are my hope, and you are my fear.
Nietzsche—Zarathustra spake thus: "He who wishes to say something
should be silent a long while." If the makers of public opinion would
only carry out this hint for about a lifetime!
According to the latest researches, it has been brought to light that
the grim angel who drove Adam and Eve out of Paradise was named
As long as there are women who must fear to become mothers on account of
economic difficulties or moral prejudices, the emancipation of woman is
only a phrase.
By M. B.
JOHN MOST suddenly died in Cincinnati, March 17. He was on an agitation
trip, and when he reached Cincinnati he took sick with erysipelas and
died within a few days, surrounded by his comrades.
Shortly before that he had the fortune to taste of the kindness and good
breeding of the police once more. Some friends in Philadelphia arranged
a meeting to celebrate Most's sixtieth birthday. He was one of the
speakers; but the police of that city interpreted the American
Constitution, which speaks of the right to free speech and assembly, as
giving the right to forcibly disperse the meeting.
Conscious misrepresentation and ignorance, the twin angels that hover
over the throne of the newspaper kingdom of this country, have made John
Most a scarecrow. Organized police authorities and police justices that
can neither be accused of a surplus of intelligence nor even of the
shadow of love of fairness, made him their target whenever they felt the
great calling to save their country from disaster. Naturally the mob of
law-abiding citizens must be assured from time to time that their
masters have a sacred duty to perform, that they earn the right of
Most was born at Augsburg, Bavaria, February 5, 1846. According to his
memoirs, he early found it necessary to resist the tyranny of a
stepmother and the miserable treatment of his master. As a bookbinder
apprentice, at a very early age, he took to his heels and went on the
road of the world, where he soon came in contact with revolutionary
ideas in the labor movement that greatly inspired him and urged him to
read and study. It might be more appropriately said that he developed a
ravenous appetite for knowledge and research of all the works of human
At that time socialistic ideas had just begun to exercise great
influence upon the thinking mind of the European continents. The zeal
and craving for knowledge displayed by the working people of those days
can hardly be properly estimated, especially by the proletariat of this
country, whose literature and source of knowledge chiefly consists of
the daily papers. Workingmen, who worked ten and twelve hours in
factories and shops, spent their evenings in study and reading of
economic, political and philosophic works—Ferdinand Lassalle, Karl
Marx, Engels, Bakunin and, later, Kropotkin; also Henry George's
"Progress and Poverty." Added to these were the works of the
materialistic-natural science schools, such as Darwin, Huxley,
Molleschot, Karl Vogt, Ludwig Buechner, Haeckel, that constituted the
mental diet of a large number of workingmen of that period. Just as the
revolutionary economists were hailed as the liberators of physical
slavery, so were the materialistic, naturalistic sciences accepted as
the saviors from mental narrowness and darkness.
Most was untiring in his work of popularizing these ideas, and as he
could quickly grasp things he was tremendously successful in simplifying
scientific books into pamphlets and essays, accessible to the ordinary
intelligence of the working people. He possessed a marvelous memory, and
once he got hold of an amount of data he could easily avail himself of
it at any moment. This was particularly true in the domain of history,
with its compilation of bloodcurdling events, from which he drew his
conclusions of how the human race ought not to live.
Together with his journalistic activity, he combined oral propaganda.
His power of delivery was marvelous, and those who heard him in his
early days will understand why the powers of the world stood in awe
before him. He not only had a very convincing way, but he succeeded in
keeping his audiences spellbound or to bring them up to the highest
pitch of enthusiasm.
The scene of his first great activity was in Vienna, where he was soon
met with many indictments and persecutions from the authorities, who
mercilessly pursued him for the rest of his life. After a term of
imprisonment in several American prisons, he went to Germany, where he
became the editor of the "Free Press" in Berlin, but his original and
biting criticism of bureaucracy again brought him in conflict with the
powers that be. The Berlin prison, Ploetzensee, soon closed its doors on
the culprit. Even to-day those who visit that famous institution of
civilization are still shown Most's cell.
At that time Bismarck carried an unsuccessful battle against the power
of the Catholic Church, eager to subordinate her to the State authority.
It happened that the famous leader of the Catholic party, Majunke, was
sent for a term of imprisonment to Ploetzensee. When the prisoners were
led out for their daily walk, the leader of the Reds, John Most, met the
leader of the Blacks, Majunke. The situation was comical enough to cause
amusement to both; both being brilliant, they found enough interesting
material for conversation, which helped them over the dreariness and
monotony of prison life.
Several years later Bismarck succeeded in enacting the muzzle law
against Social Democracy, which destroyed the freedom of the press and
assembly. The question arose then what could be done.
Most had been elected to the Reichstag, representing the famous factory
town Chemnitz, but his experience in Parliament only served him to
despise the representative system and professional lawmaking more than
When leaders of Social Democracy, like Bebel and Liebknecht, thought it
more expedient to adapt themselves to conditions, Most went to London,
where he continued his revolutionary literary crusade in the "Freiheit."
He came in contact with Karl Marx, Engels and various other refugees who
lived in England. Marx assured Most that his sharp pen in the "Freiheit"
was not likely to cause him any trouble in England so long as the
Conservative party was in power, but that nothing good was to be
expected of a Liberal government. Marx was right. Shortly after Most's
arrival in London his paper was seized and he was arrested on the
indictment for inciting to murder because he paid a glowing tribute to
the revolutionists of Russia, who, on the first of March, 1881, executed
Alexander II. He was tried and sentenced to eighteen months'
imprisonment to one of the barbarous English prisons.
Most gradually developed into an Anarchist, representing Communist
Anarchism, the organization of production and consummation, based on
free industrial groups, and which would exclude State and bureaucratic
interference. His ideas were related to those of Kropotkin and Elisée
Reclus. He often assured me that he considered Kropotkin his teacher,
and that he owed much of his mental development to him.
The next aim of the hounded man was America, but it does not appear that
he was followed across the ocean by his lucky star. He soon was made to
feel that free speech and free press in this great republic was but a
myth. Time and again he was arrested, brutally treated by the police,
and sentenced to serve time in the penitentiary. Added to this came the
fearful attacks and misrepresentations of Most and his ideas by the
press, many of the articles making him appear as a wild beast ever
plotting destruction. The last sentence inflicted upon him was after the
Czolgosz act. He was arrested for an article by the Radical Karl
Heinzen, that had been written many years ago and the author of which
had been dead a long time. The article had not the slightest relation to
the act, did not contain a single reference to the conditions of this
country, and treated altogether of European conditions of fifty years
ago. In the face of this sentence one cannot but help think of Tolstoi's
"Power of Darkness." Only the Power of Darkness in the minds of the
judges before whom Most was tried and the newspaper men, who helped in
arousing public opinion against him, were responsible for the sentence
inflicted upon him.
Taking Most's life superficially, it would appear that his road was hard
and thorny, but looking at it from a thorough view point, one will
realize that all his hardships and injustices had made of him a
relentless, uncompromising rebel, who continued to wage war against the
enemies of the people.
With but few exceptions the American journalists censure the immoral
profession of "Mrs. Warren." Is it not heavenly irony that God pressed
the headman's sword of morals into the hands of the newspaper writers?
Perhaps the great God Pan thought they would be the fittest to handle
the sword, since they are so intimately associated with mental
CIVILIZATION IN AFRICA.
A large, strong man, dressed in a uniform and armed to the teeth,
knocked at the door of a hut on the west coast of Africa.
"Who are you and what do you want?" said a voice from the inside.
"In the name of civilization, open your door or I'll break it down for
you and fill you full of lead."
"But what do you want here?"
"My name is Christian Civilization. Don't talk like a fool, you black
brute; what do you suppose I want here but to civilize you and make a
reasonable human being out of you if it is possible."
"What are you going to do?"
"In the first place you must dress yourself like a white man. It is a
shame and disgrace the way you go about. From now on you must wear
underclothing, a pair of pants, vest, coat, plug hat, and a pair of
yellow gloves. I will furnish them to you at reasonable rates."
"What shall I do with them?"
"Wear them, of course. You did not expect to eat them, did you? The
first step to civilization is in wearing proper clothes."
"But it is too hot here to wear such garments. I'm not used to them.
I'll perish from the heat. Do you want to murder me?"
"Not particularly. But if you do die you will have the satisfaction of
being a martyr to civilization."
"Don't mention it. What do you do for a living?"
"When I am hungry I eat a banana; I eat, drink or sleep just as I feel
"What horrible barbarity! You must settle down to some occupation, my
friend. If you don't it will be my duty to lock you up as a vagrant."
"If I have to follow some occupation I think I'll start a coffee house.
I've got a considerable amount of coffee and sugar stored here and
"Oh, you have, have you? Why, you are not such a hopeless case as I
thought you were. In the first place you want to pay me the sum of fifty
"As an occupation tax, you ignorant heathen. Do you expect all the
blessings of civilization for nothing?"
"But I have no money."
"That makes no difference. I'll take it out in tea and coffee. If you
don't pay up like a Christian man, I'll put you in jail for the rest of
"What is jail?"
"Jail is a progressive word. You must be prepared to make some
sacrifices for civilization, you know."
"What a great and glorious thing is civilization."
"You cannot possibly realize the benefits of it, but you will before I
get through with you, my fine fellow."
The unfortunate native took to the woods and has not been seen
By Mary Hansen.
I come, not with the blaring of trumpet,
To herald the birth of a king;
I come, not with traditional story,
The life of a savior to sing;
I come, not with jests for the silly,
I come, not to worship the strong,
But to question the powers that govern,
To point out a world-old wrong.
To kiss from the starved lips of childhood
The lies that are sapping its breath,
And brighten the brief cheerless valley
That leads to the darkness of death;
With reason and sympathy blended,
And a hope that all mankind shall see,
Untrammeled by Creed, Law or Custom—
The attainable goal of the Free.
MARRIAGE AND THE HOME.
By John R. Coryell.
YOU remember Punch's advice to the young man about to be
married—don't. There is a jest nearly half a century old, and yet ever
fresh and poignant. Why? Can it be that the secret, serious voice of
mankind proclaims the jest truth in masquerade? Can it be that marriage,
as an institution, has indeed proved itself in experience such a
We worship many fetishes, we of the superior civilization, and the
institution of marriage is the chief of them. Few of us but bow before
that; before that and the home of which it is the foundation. And I know
what scorn and obloquy and denunciation await that man who stands unawed
before it, seeing in it but an ugly little idol. And I guess what will
be dealt out to him who not only refuses to bow the head, but openly
scoffs. And yet I am going to scoff and say ugly words about this fetish
of ours. I am going to say that it represents ignorance, hides and
causes hypocrisy, stands in the way of progress, drags low the standard
of individual excellence, perpetuates many foul practices.
Let me admit at the outset that I recognize in the institution of
marriage a perfectly legitimate result of the working of the law of
evolution. Of course it is; and the same may be said of everything that
exists whether good or evil. Every vile and filthy thing, crime,
disease, misery, are all equally legitimate products of the working of
this law. Evolution is simply the process of the logical working of
things; it explains how things come to be; and there is nothing in the
nature of the law to enable it to give to its results the hall mark of
sterling. A thing is because of something else that was. Marriage is
because of a primeval club. Man craved woman and he procured her.
Considering the beginnings of the institution of marriage, it is
interesting, if nothing more, to consider the efforts of the priest to
give it an attribute of sanctity, to call it a sacrament. In truth,
marriage is the most artificial of the relations which exist in the
social body. It is a device of man at his worst—a mixture of slavery,
savage egotism and priestcraft. It is indicated by nothing in the
physical constitution of either male or female. It is an anomaly; a
contract which can be freely entered into by the most unfit, but which
cannot be broken, though both parties wish it, though absolute unfitness
be patent, though hell on earth be its result. The pretense must be
abandoned that men and women marry in order to reproduce their kind.
Nothing could be less true. Marriage legalizes reproduction, but is not
caused by desire for it. Marriage is the hard and fast tying together of
a man and a woman without the least regard to moral or physiological
conditions. Marriage may be for pecuniary gain, or for social
advancement; it may be at the will of a controlling parent, or, more
commonly for St. Paul's reason, that it is better to marry than to burn;
but never for the reason that the parties to it are fitted to each other
for parenthood. That supreme consideration not only does not enter into
either the preliminary or after-thought of the matter, but is even held
to be an indecent topic of conversation between persons not already
married to each other.
The constituents of the average marriage are a man over-stimulated
sexually by mystery and ignorance, and a woman abnormally undersexed by
the course of self-repression and self-mutilation which have been taught
her from her earliest childhood as necessities of modesty, purity and
virtue. And then out of the carefully cultivated repugnance of the woman
and the savage, exulting, unrelenting passion of the man are produced
children, frequently welcome, seldom premeditated. And we are asked to
believe that out of such elements are created the best foundation for a
race or nation. Surely, surely, that combination of conditions is the
best for a race or a nation which produces the best individuals; and
quite as surely we should strive to bring about those conditions which
tend to produce the best individuals.
Then there is home. Home, sweet home! the perfect flower, we are told,
that blooms on the fair stem of marriage. Yet it is the very citadel of
ignorance, when it should be the school in which are taught the
beautiful phenomena of physical life. Home! where the simplest, purest
facts of life are converted into a nasty mystery and deliberately
endowed with the characteristics of impurity and sin; for what else is
the meaning of that solemn formula, which most of us have been taught,
that we were conceived in sin? What else is the meaning of the hush and
blush that go to any reference to sex, sign or manifestation of sex? Is
it not awful beyond the power of words to express that a man and a woman
come together in ignorance and beget children who are not even to obtain
the benefit of such knowledge as their unfortunate parents pick up by
the way, but must themselves begin the most responsible functions of
life, not only in equal ignorance, but with an added load of
misconceptions, sex-superstitions, immoral dogmas and probably physical
disabilities? A short time since a father was speaking to me of his son,
fourteen years of age, and plainly at an age when some of the beautiful
phenomena of sex-life were beginning to crowd upon him for notice. I
asked the man if he had talked with his son about the matter. His answer
was peculiar only in that he put into words a description of the
attitude of the average parent: "Talked to him about that? Not I. Let
him learn as I did. No one ever told me." But some one had told him, as
his unpleasantly reminiscent smile advised me! He had been told by
ignorant companions, by ignorant servants, and, quite likely, by books,
whose grossness would have been harmless but for the child's piteous
ignorance. No, the man would not talk with his son about such things,
but he would go into his club and talk into the small hours over a glass
of whiskey with his friends there, turning the beauty and purity of sex
manifestation into shabby jest and impure ridicule. He would exchange
stories based on sex relation with any stranger with whom he might ride
for two hours in a smoking car. Every man knows that I speak well within
And the girl child! what of her? Does her mother, the victim of
misinformation and no information, of misuse and self-mutilation, in the
sweet privacy of this home, which is called the cradle of peace and the
nestling place of purity, save her by taking warning of her own ruined
life and giving her the benefit of such little knowledge as she has
gained in physical, mental and moral misery? We know she does not. On
the contrary, the same terrible old lies are told, the same hideous
practices are resorted to; and another poor creature is launched into
that awful life of legalized prostitution which is called marriage.
Motherhood is woman's highest function, and, moreover, it is a function
which it is unwise not to exercise; for it is infinitely more perilous
for a healthy woman not to be a mother than it is for her to bear
children. Motherhood, too, is the most markedly indicated function of a
woman's body. She is specialized for it; it is the thing indicated. And
yet we never say to a woman, Be a mother when you will; we hold up our
hands in horror at the very thought of motherhood itself, and we say,
Marry; marry anything; get another name for yourself; merge your very
identity into that of some man; get a home; never mind about children;
you don't have to have them; they have nothing to do with your
respectability. Is it not so? Is it not so that that woman who prefers
her own name and her freedom, and who exercises her highest function of
motherhood, thereby becomes a thing of scorn and contumely?
And yet, how in this world can a woman do a finer, wiser, braver, truer
thing than to bear a child in freedom by a carefully chosen father? It
is true that we have moralists who urge wives to breed for the good of
the country, but even they, while declaring that it is the duty of women
to have large families, roll their eyes in horror at the thought of a
woman exercising her plainest right, without first having some man,
whose only interest in the matter is his fee, say some magic words over
her and her master.
Oh, that marriage ceremony! And is it not pathetic to hear the women,
dimly conscious of their backbones, declaring that they will not promise
to obey? They will promise vehemently to love and honor, which they
absolutely cannot be sure of doing, but they refuse to obey—the only
thing they could safely promise to do, and which, in fact, most of them
do. For, writhe and twist as they may, defy never so bravely, the
conventions of the world are against them, and conform they must. Down,
down they sink until they are on their knees in the mire of tradition,
their heads bowed to the ugly little fetish. A woman may be a thousand
times the superior of her husband, and yet she must be his slave.
And what puerile fables, what transparent lies are told to reconcile the
poor slave to her lot! A man's rib! And she is the weaker vessel!
Nevertheless, she is the power behind the throne. And if the man
possess her, does she not equally possess him? Is not monogamy the
mainstay of our morals? Is not God to be thanked that he has given us
light to see the horrors of polygamy? Oh, that shocking thing, polygamy!
How the husbands of the land rise up to defend their firesides from it!
No Smoots shall get into our Senate. That virtuous Senate!
Why if every practising polygamist went home from the Congress there
would not be a quorum left to do business. Monogamy! Why it is the most
shocking phase of the hypocrisy due to marriage. There is no such
condition known in this country. Of course, there may be sporadic cases
of it, but that is all. If monogamy be the practice of the men of this
country, why the hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, why divorces for
adultery, why those secret establishments where unhappily married men
indemnify themselves for the appearance of monogamy by an association
which can be ended at will? Whence come the mulattoes and the
half-breeds of all sorts? Who so credulous as to believe the fable of
What has monogamy or polygamy or polyandry to do with this matter? I
assume that it is undeniable that motherhood is woman's most manifest
function. If that be so, how can there be any more immorality in the
exercise of it than in the process of digestion? What can be clearer
than that a woman has the inherent right to bear children if she wish?
And there is nothing in experience or morals which demands one father
for all her children. It should be for her to say whether she will have
one father for all her children or one for each. And if the question be
asked how, under such conditions, the interests of the children would be
safe-guarded, I ask if they are safe-guarded now. The right-minded man
provides as he can for them; as would be the case always; while the
wrong-minded man does not now provide properly for them. Besides, is the
mother not to be considered? Do we not all know of women who in
widowhood take care of their families? Do we not know of women who take
care of their husbands as well as of their children? Women, of course,
should, in any case, be economically free. But at least let them be sex
free; let them decide for themselves whether they will have many or few
or no children. Teach woman to be economically independent, give her the
opportunity for full knowledge of all that pertains to motherhood; make
the motherhood a pure and beautiful manifestation of physical activity
if you will, but without forgetting that it is only simple and natural;
avoiding that hysterical glorification of the function in poetry and the
hiding of it in actual life as if it were an unclean thing. But the
important matter is to understand that a woman has a right to bear a
child if she wish. Nothing is more distinctly pointed out by the
constitution of her body, and therefore it is impossible that there can
be any immorality in the exercise of the function. To put my idea in as
few and as bold words as I can: Motherhood is a right and has no proper
relation to marriage. Marriage is a purely artificial relation, and not
only is it not justified by its results, but distinctly it is
discredited by them. By it a man becomes a vile hypocrite since he
loudly avows a moral standard and a course of conduct which in private
by his acts he denies and puts to scorn; by it a woman becomes a slave,
giving up her rights in her own body; submitting to ravishment, and
becoming the accidental mother to unwished, unwelcome children; by it
children are robbed of their plain right to the best equipment that can
be given them; and which cannot be given them under the prevailing
system. It is only when a woman is free to choose the father of her
child that the child can hope for even a partial payment of the debt
that was due it from its parents from the moment they took the
responsibility of calling it from the nowhere into the here. This
doctrine of the responsibility of the parent to the child is
comparatively new and goes neither with marriage nor with the home. The
old and current notion is that the child is a chattel.
Abraham never offers an apology for making little Isaac carry wood and
then mount the sacrificial pile. Indeed we are asked to marvel at the
heroism of the father. Then we are told that God so loved the world that
he gave his only begotten son. As if the child were the property of the
parent. And yet there must always have been naughty children asking
pointed questions, for it was long ago found necessary to try to scare
them by a divine fulmination. Honor thy father and thy mother that thy
days may be long! It seems that even so long ago parents were afraid
they could not win honor from their children. Abraham's place was on the
pile, just as it is the place of the modern parent who looks upon his
child as his chattel; disposing of him as he will; arbitrarily making
rules for his conduct which he would not dream of observing for himself;
stifling his natural demands for knowledge; converting what is pure and
most beautiful in the world into a mire of filth and ignorance; wilfully
robbing him of his birthright of individuality by forcing him to conform
to methods of thought and conduct which his own experience tells him no
man can or does conform to from the moment he wins his freedom or learns
the hideous lesson of that hypocrisy which he is sure in the end to
discover that his father practices. What right has any father to make a
sacrifice of his child? What is his title to the love or gratitude or
self-abnegation of his child? Is it that the child is the unconsidered
consequence of the legal rape of some poor woman who has been unfitted
for the office forced upon her, by a life mentally dwarfed, morally
twisted and physically mutilated? Is it that the child is haled out of
nothingness to be inoculated, perhaps, with germs of disease in the
first instance and then half nourished for nine months in a body which
has been robbed of its vitality by the mutilation and torture to which
it has been subjected at the behest of fashion?
The highest duty of a parent is to so treat his child that it will enter
upon the struggle of life prepared to obtain the utmost happiness from
If anyone fancies I have been too severe in my strictures I would ask
him to read what Mrs. Gilman has to say on the subject of home. It is
true that she does not come to the same conclusion that I do. She would
have women economically independent, and she would have children taken
care of by those especially fitted for the task, leaving mothers and
fathers free to go their separate ways. But how could there be separate
ways so long as the slavery of marriage remained? Woman must be not only
economically free, but altogether free. As I have said, motherhood is
not an affair of morals; it is a function. Marriage, on the other hand,
is a matter of morals; and hideously immoral it is, too. Then why not
have motherhood without its immoral, artificial adjunct, marriage?
You see I do not ask for easy divorce as a solution of the problem of
marriage. I set my face sternly against divorce. I am one with the
church in that. I only demand that there shall be no marriage at all,
that there shall be no fastening of life-long slavery on woman. Let
woman mother children or not, as she will. Let her say who shall be the
father of her child and of each child. Let motherhood be deemed not even
honorable, but only natural.
Can anyone believe that if men and women were free to decide whether or
not they would be parents, they would not in the end, seeing their duty
in the light of their knowledge, fit themselves for parenthood before
taking upon themselves its responsibilities?
I would like to say that I have no fear of the odium of the designation
of iconoclast. Nor do I quake lest some one triumphantly ask me what I
will put in the place of marriage and the home. As well might one demand
what I would give in the place of smallpox if I were able to eradicate
it. I am not concerned to find a substitute for such perversion of sex
activity. If men and women choose to live together in freedom, fathering
and mothering their children according to a rule grown out of freedom,
and directed by expediency, I fancy they would be, at least, as happy as
they can be now, tied together by a hard, unpleasant knot. And if an
economically free woman chose to have six children by six different
fathers, as a wise woman might well do, I believe she could be trusted
to secure those children from want quite as well as the mother-slave of
to-day, who bears her children at the will of an irresponsible man, and
then, often enough, has to take care of them and him too.
"Wealth protects and animates art and literature, as the dew enlivens the fields."
Nonsense! Wealth animates art and literature, as the whistle of the
master animates the dog and makes him wag his tail.
THE MODERN NEWSPAPER.
Let me describe to you, very briefly, a newspaper day.
Figure first, then, a hastily erected, and still more hastily designed,
building in a dirty, paper-littered back street of London, and a number
of shabbily dressed men coming and going in this with projectile
swiftness. Within this factory companies of printers, tensely active
with nimble fingers—they were always speeding up the printers—ply
their typesetting machines, and cast and arrange masses of metal in a
sort of kitchen inferno, above which, in a beehive of little, brightly
lit rooms, disheveled men sit and scribble. There is a throbbing of
telephones and a clicking of telegraph instruments, a rushing of
messengers, a running to and fro of heated men, clutching proofs and
copy. Then begins a roar of machinery catching the infection, going
faster and faster, and whizzing and banging. Engineers, who have never
had time to wash since their birth, fly about with oil cans, while paper
runs off its rolls with a shudder of haste. The proprietor you must
suppose arriving explosively on a swift motor car, leaping out before
the thing is at a standstill, with letters and documents clutched in his
hand, rushing in, resolute to "hustle," getting wonderfully in
everybody's way. At the sight of him even the messenger boys who are
waiting get up and scamper to and fro. Sprinkle your vision with
collisions, curses, incoherencies. You imagine all the parts of this
complex, lunatic machine working hysterically toward a crescendo of
haste and excitement as the night wears on. At last, the only things
that seem to travel slowly in those tearing, vibrating premises, are the
hands of the clock.
Slowly things draw on toward publication, the consummation of all those
stresses. Then, in the small hours, in the now dark and deserted streets
comes a wild whirl of carts and men, the place spurts paper at every
door; bales, heaps, torrents of papers, that are snatched and flung
about in what looks like a free fight, and off with a rush and clatter
east, west, north and south. The interest passes outwardly; the men from
the little rooms are going homeward, the printers disperse, yawning, the
roaring presses slacken. The paper exists. Distribution follows
manufacture, and we follow the bundles.
Our vision becomes a vision of dispersal. You see those bundles hurling
into stations, catching trains by a hair's breadth, speeding on their
way, breaking up, smaller bundles of them hurled with a fierce accuracy
out upon the platforms that rush by, and then everywhere a division of
these smaller bundles into still smaller bundles, into dispersing
parcels, into separate papers. The dawn happens unnoticed amidst a great
running and shouting of boys, a shoving through letter-slots, openings
of windows, spreading out upon book-stalls. For the space of a few
hours, you must figure the whole country dotted white with rustling
papers. Placards everywhere vociferate the hurried lie for the day. Men
and women in trains, men and women eating and reading, men by study
fenders, people sitting up in bed, mothers and sons and daughters
waiting for father to finish—a million scattered people are
reading—reading headlong—or feverishly ready to read. It is just as if
some vehement jet had sprayed that white foam of papers over the surface
of the land.
Nonsense! The whole affair is a noisy paroxysm of nonsense, unreasonable
excitement, witless mischief, and waste of strength—signifying nothing.
—From H. G. Wells "In the Days of the Comet."
A VISIT TO SING SING.
By A Moralist.
I WAS ennuyé; the everlasting decency and respectability of my
surroundings bored me. On whichever side of me I looked, I saw people
doing the same things for the same reasons; or for the same lack of
reasons. And they were uninteresting.
"Oh," said I to myself, "these are the people of the ruts; they go that
way because others have gone; they are conforming. But there must be
some persons who do not conform. Where are they?"
Now you can understand why it was that my thoughts turned toward that
monument of our civilization on the Hudson River, and why finally I
made up my mind to visit it.
I knew that neither my citizenship, nor yet my philosophic and human
interest in the working of that great school would avail to obtain me
entrance there, so I sought out one of the politicians of my district,
who at that time at least exercised his activities outside of the walls
of the building, and I exchanged with him a five-dollar bill for an
order to admit me.
"I suppose," I said to the attendant who did the honors of the place for
me, "that these persons who are garbed alike and who affect the same
tonsorial effect are those who have been unskillful in their
"They are prisoners," he replied. I bit my lip and looked as smug as I
remembered one should who as yet has the right of egress as well as
ingress in an institution of that character.
At that moment my eyes fell on a face that seemed familiar to me, and as
I studied it I saw with surprise that I had come upon a man who had once
been a schoolmate of mine.
Now I had always believed that if a person had done wrong, he would be
conscious of it; and that if he were found out he would at least try to
appear penitent. But in this case my theory did not seem to be working;
for my former chum, whom I remembered as a quiet, unobtrusive fellow,
met my startled glance with a twinkle of suppressed humor. I confess
that such a blow to my theory filled me with indignation.
I stepped toward him, all my moral superiority betraying itself in the
self-satisfied smirk which fixed itself on my face in accordance with
the sense of duty which the Philistine feels so keenly in his relations
"Why are you here?" I asked him.
"Are you not a little impertinent?" he asked. "I do not inquire of you
why you are here."
"That is obvious, to say the least," I answered loftily.
"Obvious from your pharisaical expression, perhaps," he said
good-naturedly. "But never mind! We look at the matter from different
points of view. To me it is a greater indiscretion to annoy a helpless
prisoner with 'holier-than-thou' questions than it would be to attend
the Charity Ball in pajamas. But of course you do not see it in the same
"Pardon me if I annoyed you," I said stiffly.
"Don't mention it," he replied, with the humorous twinkle still playing
in his eyes. "And to prove that I bear no hard feeling, I will ask you
Naturally I was embarrassed at such an exhibition of hardihood in one in
his situation, but I said I would be pleased to answer him to the best
of my ability.
"It is some time since I was away from this retreat on a vacation," he
said, with an easy assurance that was indescribably shocking to one of
correct principles, "and I would like to know if all the rascals have
yet been put in prison."
I pushed my insurance policy a little deeper into my pocket and replied,
"Certainly not; but you must not forget that no man is guilty until he
has been proven so."
"Ah, yes," he said; "and that a man may pride himself on his honesty on
the secure ground that he has not yet reached the penitentiary. Yes, of
course, you are right. But, tell me, is it true, according to a rumor
which has reached us in our seclusion, that these good Christians pro
tem, are considering the advisability of having rat poison served to us
in place of the delicious stale bread and flat water which now comprise
our bill of fare?"
"Oh," I answered vaguely, "there are still reformers of all sorts in the
"Reformers!" he cried, his face lighting up with a new interest. "Ah!
you mean those profound thinkers who seek to cure every disease of the
social body by means of legislation. Yes, yes! tell me about them!
Society still believes in them?"
"Believes in them!" I cried indignantly. "Surely it does. Why, the great
political parties are responding to the cry of the downtrodden masses,
"Oh," he said dreamily, "they are still responding?"
"What do you mean by still responding?" I demanded curtly.
"Why, I remember that in my time, too, the people always responded. The
party leaders would say to them that they were in a bad way and needed
help. The people would cry out in joy to think their leaders had
discovered this. Then the leaders would wink at each other and jump upon
the platforms and explain to the people that what was needed was a new
law of some sort. The people would weep for happiness at such wisdom and
would beg their leaders to get together and make the law. And the law
that the leaders would make when they got together was one that would
put the people still more in their power. So that is still going on?"
I recognized that he was ironical, but I answered with a sneer:
"The people get what they deserve, and what they wish. They have only to
demand through the ballot box, you know."
"Ah, yes," he murmured with a grin, "I had forgotten the ballot box.
Dear me! how could I have forgotten the ballot box?"
Providentially the keeper came to notify me that my time was up, and I
"One thing more," cried the prisoner; "is it still the case that the
American people enjoy their freedom best when they are enslaved in some
"You are outrageous," I exclaimed; "the American people are not enslaved
in any way. It is true they are restricted for their own good by those
more capable of judging than they. That must always be the case."
"I don't know about must," he sighed, "but I am sure it will always be
the case as long as a man's idea of freedom is his ability to impose
some slavish notion on his brother."
"Good-bye," I said, with a recurrence to my smirk of pharisaical pity,
"I am sorry to see you here."
"Oh, don't be troubled on my account," he answered; "on the whole, I am
"Satisfied! Impossible!" I cried.
"Why impossible? Consider that I shall never again be compelled to
associate with decent, honest folk. Oh, I have cause to be satisfied; I
am here on a life sentence."
THE OLD AND THE NEW DRAMA.
By Max Baginski.
THE inscription over the Drama in olden times used to be, "Man, look
into this mirror of life; your soul will be gripped in its innermost
depths, anguish and dread will take possession of you in the face of
this rage of human desire and passion. Go ye, atone and make good."
Even Schiller entertained this view when he called the Stage a moral
institution. It was also from this standpoint that the Drama was
expected to show the terrible consequences of uncontrolled human
passion, and that these consequences should teach man to overcome
himself. "To conquer oneself is man's greatest triumph."
This ascetic tendency, incidentally part of chastisement and acquired
resignation, one can trace in every investigation of the value and
meaning of the Drama, though in different forms. The avenging Nemesis,
always at the heels of the sinner, may be placated by means of rigid
self-control and self-denial. This, too, was Schopenhauer's idea of the
Drama. In it, his eye perceived with horror that human relation became
disastrously interwoven; that guilt and atonement made light of the
human race, which merely served as a target for the principles of good
and evil. Guilt and atonement reign because the blind force of life will
not resign itself, but, on the contrary, is ever ready to yield itself
to the struggle of the passions. Mountains of guilt pile themselves on
the top of each other, while purifying fires ever flame up into the heavens.
In the idea that Life in itself is a great guilt, Schopenhauer coincides
with the teachings of Christ, though otherwise he has little regard for
them. With Christ, he recognized in the chastisement of the body a
purification of the mind; the inner man, who thus escapes from close
physical intimacy, as if from bad company. The spiritual man appears
before the physical as a saint and a Pharisee. In reality, he is the
intellectual cause of the so-called bad deeds of the human body, its
path indicator and teacher. But, once the mischief is accomplished, he
puts on a pious air and denies all responsibility for the deed.
Wherever the idea of guilt, the fear of sin prevails, the mind becomes
traitor to the body: "I know him not and will have nothing to do with
him." Whenever man entertains the belief in good and evil, he is bound
to pretend the good and do the evil. And yet the understanding of all
human occurrences begins, as with the Zarathustra philosopher, beyond good and evil.
The modern drama is, in its profoundest depths, an attempt to ignore
good and evil in its analysis of human manifestations. It aims to get at
a complete whole, out of each strong, healthy emotion, out of each
absorbing mood that carries and urges one forward from the beginning to
the end. It represents the World as it reflects itself in each passion,
in each quivering life; not trying to confine and to judge, to condemn
or to praise; not acting merely in the capacity of a cold observer; but
striving to grow in oneness with Life; to become color, tone and light;
to absorb universal sorrow as one's own; universal joy as one's own; to
feel every emotion as it manifests itself in a natural way; to be one's
self, yet oblivious of self.
The modern dramatist tries to understand and to explain. Goodness is no
longer entitled to a reward, like a pupil who knows his lesson; nor is
evil condemned to an eternal Hell. Both belong together in the sphere of
all that is human. Often enough it is seen that evil triumphs over good,
while virtue, ever highly praised in words, is rarely practiced. It is
set aside to become dusty and dirty in some obscure corner. Only at some
opportune moment is it brought forward from its hiding place to serve as
a cover for some vile deed. We can no longer believe that beyond and
above us there is some irrevocable, irresistible Fate, whose duty it is
to punish all evil and wrong and to reward all goodness; an idea so
fondly cherished by our grandfathers.
To-day we no longer look for the force of fate outside of human
activity. It lives and weaves its own tragedies and comedies with us and
within us. It has its roots in our social, political and economic
surroundings, in our physical, mental and psychic capacities. (Did not
the fate of Cyrano de Bergerac lie in his gigantic nose?) With others,
fate lies in their vocation in life, in their mental and emotional
tendencies, which either submerge them into the hurry and rush of a
commonplace existence, or bring them into the most annoying conflicts
with the dicta of society. Indeed, it is often seen that a human
being, apparently of a cheerful nature, but who has failed to establish
a durable relation with society, often leads a most tragic inner life.
Should he find the cause in his own inclinations, and suffer agonizing
reproaches therefrom, he becomes a misanthrope. If, however, he feels
inwardly robust and powerful, living truly, if he crave complete
assertion of a self that is being hampered by his surroundings at every
step, he must inevitably become a Revolutionist. And, again, his life
may become tragic in the struggle with our powerful institutions and
traditions, the leaden weight of which will, apparently, not let him
soar through space to ever greater heights. Apparently, because it
sometimes occurs that an individual rises above the average, and waves
his colors over the heads of the common herd. His life is that of the
storm bird, anxiously making for distant shores. The efforts of the
deepest, truest and freest spirits of our day tend toward the conscious
formation of life, toward that life which will make the blind raging of
the elements impossible; a life which will show man his sovereignity and
admit his right to direct his own world.
The old conception of the drama paid little or no attention to the
importance of the influences of social conditions. It was the individual
alone who had to carry the weight of all responsibility. But is not the
tragedy greater, the suffering of the individual increased, by
influences he cannot control, the existing social and moral conditions?
And is it not true that the very best and most beautiful in the human
breast cannot and will not bow down to the commands of the commonplace
and everyday conditions? Out of the anachronisms of society and its
relation to the individual grow the strongest motives of the modern
drama. Pure personal conflicts are no longer considered important enough
to bring about a dramatic climax. A play must contain the beating of the
waves, the deep breath of life; and its strong invigorating breeze can
never fail in bringing about a dramatic effect upon our emotions. The
new drama means reproduction of nature in all its phases, the social and
psychological included. It embraces, analyzes and enriches all life. It
goes hand in hand with the longing for materially and mentally
harmonious institutions. It rehabilitates the human body, establishes it
in its proper place and dignity, and brings about the long deferred
reconciliation between the mind and the body.
Full of enthusiasm, with the pulse of time throbbing in his veins, the
modern dramatist compiles mountains of material for the better
understanding of Man, and the influences that mould and form him. He no
longer presents capital acts, extraordinary events, or melodramatic
expressions. It is life in all its complexity, that is being unfolded
before us, and so we come closer to the source of the forces that
destroy and build up again, the forces that make for individual
character and direct the world at large. Life, as a whole, is being
dealt with, and not mere particles. Formerly our eyes were dazzled by a
display of costumes and scenery, while the heart remained unmoved. This
no longer satisfies. One must feel the warmth of life, in order to
respond, to be gripped.
The sphere of the drama has widened most marvellously in all directions,
and only ends where human limitations begin. Together with this, a
marked deepening of the inner world has taken place. Still there are
those who have much to say about the vulgarity contained in the modern
drama, and how its inaugurators and following present the ugly and
untruthful. Untrue and ugly, indeed, for those who are buried under a
mass of inherited views and prejudices. The growth of the scope of the
drama has increased the number of the participants therein. Formerly it
was assumed that the fate of the ordinary man, the man of the masses,
was altogether too obscure, too indifferent to serve as material for
anything tragic; since those who had never dwelt in the heights of
material splendor could not go down to the darkest and lowest abyss.
Because of that assumption, the low and humble never gained access to
the center of the stage; they were only utilized to represent mobs.
Those that were of importance were persons of high position and
standing, persons who represented wealth and power with superiority and
dignity, yet with shallow and superficial airs. The ensemble was but a
mechanism and not an organism; and each participant was stiff and
lifeless; each movement was forced and strained. The old fate and hero
drama did not spring from within Man and the things about him; it was
merely manufactured. Most remarkable incidents, unheard of situations
had to be invented, if only to produce, externally, an appearance of
coinciding cause and effect; and not a single plot could be without
secret doors and vaults, terrible oaths and perjury. If Ibsen, Gorky,
Hauptmann, Gabrielle D'Annunzio and others had brought us nothing else
but liberation from such grotesque ballast, from such impossibilities as
destroy every illusion as to the life import of a play, they would still
be entitled to our gratitude and the gratitude of posterity. But they
have done more. Out of the confusion of trap doors, secret passages,
folding screens, they have led us into the light of day, of undisguised
events, with their simple distinct outlines. In this light, the man of
the heap gains in life force, importance and depth. The stage no longer
offers a place for impossible deeds and the endless monologues of the
hero, the important feature is harmonious concert of action. The hero,
on a stage that conscientiously stands for real art and aims to produce
life, is about as superfluous as the clown who amused the audience
between the acts. After all the spectacle of one star display, one
cannot help but hail the refreshing contrast, shown in the "Man of
Destiny," by the clever Bernard Shaw, where he presents the legend-hero,
Napoleon, as a petty intriguer, with all the inner fear and uneasiness
of a plotter. In these days of concerted energy, of the co-operation of
numerous hands and brains; in the days when the most far-reaching effect
can only be accomplished through the summons of a manifold physical and
mental endeavor, the existence of these loud heroes is circumscribed
within rather limited lines.
Previous generations could never have grasped the deep tragedy in that
famous painting of Millet that inspired Edwin Markham to write his "Man
with the Hoe." Our generation, however, is thrilled by it. And is there
not something terribly tragic about the lives of the great masses who
pierced the colossal stone cliffs of the Simplon, or who are building
the Panama Canal? They have and are performing a task that may safely be
compared with the extraordinary achievements of Hercules; works which,
according to human conception, will last into eternity. The names and
the characters of these workmen are unknown. The historians, coldly and
disinterestedly, pass them by.
The new drama has unveiled this kind of tragedy. It has done away with
the lie that sought to produce a violent dramatic effect through a
plunge from the sublime to the ridiculous. Those who understand
Tolstoy's "Power of Darkness," wherein but those of the lowest strata
appear, will be overwhelmed by the terrible tragedy in their lives, in
comparison with which the worries of some crowned head or the money
troubles of some powerful speculator will appear insignificant indeed.
That which this master unfolds before us is no longer a plunge from
heaven to hell; the entire life of these people is an Inferno. The
terrible darkness and ignorance of these people, forced on them by the
social misery of dull necessity, produces greater soul sensations in the
spectator than the stilted tragedy of a Corneille. Those who witness a
performance of Gerhart Hauptmann's "Hannele" and fail to be stirred by
the grandeur and depth of that masterpiece, regardless of its petty
poorhouse atmosphere, deserve to see nothing else than the "Wizard of
Oz." And again is not the long thunderous march of hungry strikers in
Zola's "Germinal" as awe-inspiring to those who feel the heart beat of
our age even as the heroic deeds of Hannibal's warriors were to his contemporaries?
The world stage ever represents a change of participants. The one who
played the part of leading man in one century, may become a clown in
another. Entire social classes and casts that formerly commanded first
parts, are to-day utilized to make up stage decorations or as
figurantes. Plays representing the glory of knighthood or minnesingers
would only amuse to-day, no matter how serious they were intended to
appear. Once anything lies buried under the bulk of social changes, it
can affect coming generations only so far as the excavated skeleton
affects the geologist. This must be borne in mind by sincere stage art,
if it is not to remain in the stifling atmosphere of tradition, if it
does not wish to degrade a noble method, that helps to recognize and
disclose all that is rich and deep in the human into a commonplace,
hypocritical and stupid method. If the artist's creation is to have any
effect, it must contain elements of real life, and must turn its gaze
toward the dawn of the morn of a more beautiful and joyous world, with a
new and healthy generation, that feels deeply its relationship with all
human beings over the universe.
In a report of the Russian government, it is stated that the conduct of
the soldiers in the struggles of the streets was such, that in no
instance did they transgress the limit which is prescribed to them in
their oath as soldiers. This is true. The soldier's oath prescribes
murder and cruelty as their patriotic duty.
If government, were it even an ideal Revolutionary government, creates
no new force and is of no use whatever in the work of demolition which
we have to accomplish, still less can we count on it for the work of
reorganization which must follow that of demolition. The economic change
which will result from the Social Revolution will be so immense and so
profound, it must so change all the relations based to-day on property
and exchange, that it is impossible for one or any individual to
elaborate the different social forms, which must spring up in the
society of the future. This elaboration of new social forms can only be
made by the collective work of the masses. To satisfy the immense
variety of conditions and needs which will spring up as soon as private
property shall be abolished, it is necessary to have the collective
suppleness of mind of the whole people. Any authority external to it
will only be an obstacle, only a trammel on the organic labor which must
be accomplished, and beside that a source of discord and hatred.
A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.—POLICE PROTECTION.
CHICAGO'S pride are the stockyards, the Standard Oil University, and
Miss Jane Addams. It is, therefore, perfectly natural that the
sensibility of such a city would suffer as soon as it became known that
an obscure person, by the common name of E. G. Smith, was none other
than the awful Emma Goldman, and that she had not even presented herself
to Mayor Dunne, the platonic lover of Municipal Ownership. However, not
much harm came of it.
The Chicago newspapers, who cherish the truth like a costly jewel, made
the discovery that the shrewd Miss Smith compromised a number of
Chicago's aristocracy and excellencies, among others also Baron von
Schlippenbach, consul of the Russian Empire. We consider it our duty to
defend this gentleman against such an awful accusation. Miss Smith never
visited the house of the Baron, nor did she attend any of his banquets.
We know her well and feel confident that she never would put her foot on
the threshold of a representative of a government that crushes every
free breath, every free word; that sends her very best and noblest sons
and daughters to prison or the gallows; that has the children of the
soil, the peasants, publicly flogged; and that is responsible for the
barbarous slaughter of thousands of Jews.
Miss Jane Addams, too, is quite safe from Miss Smith. True, she invited
her to be present at a reception, but, knowing the weak knees of the
soup kitchen philanthropy from past experience, Miss Smith called her up
on the 'phone and told her that E. G. S. was the dreaded Emma Goldman.
It must have been quite a shock to the lady; after all, one cannot
afford to hurt the sensibilities of society, so long as one has
political and public aspirations. Miss E. G. Smith, being a strong
believer in the prevention of cruelty, preferred to leave the purity of
the Hull House untouched. After her return to New York, E. G. Smith sent
Smith about its business, and started on a lecture tour in her own
right, as Emma Goldman.
Cleveland. Dear old friends and co-workers: The work you accomplished
was splendid, also the comradely spirit of the young. But why spoil it
by bad example of applying for protection from the city authorities? It
does not behoove us, who neither believe in their right to prohibit free
assembly, nor to permit it, to appeal to them. If the authorities choose
to do either, they merely prove their autocracy. Those who love freedom
must understand that it is even more distasteful to speak under police
protection than it is to suffer under their persecution. However, the
meetings were very encouraging and the feeling of solidarity sweet and
Buffalo. The shadow of September 6 still haunts the police of that city.
Their only vision of an Anarchist is one who is forever lying in wait
for human life, which is, of course, very stupid; but stupidity and
authority always join forces. Capt. Ward, who, with a squad of police,
came to save the innocent citizens of Buffalo, asked if we knew the law,
and was quite surprised that that was not our trade; that we had not
been employed to disentangle the chaos of the law,—that it was his
affair to know the law. However, the Captain showed himself absolutely
ignorant of the provisions of the American Constitution. Of course, his
superiors knew what they were about when they set the Constitution
aside, as old and antiquated, and, instead, enacted a law which gives
the average officer a right to invade the head and heart of a man, as to
what he thinks and feels. Capt. Ward added an amendment to the
anti-Anarchist law. He declared any other language than English a
felony, and, since Max Baginski could only avail himself of the German
language, he was not permitted to speak. How is that for our law-abiding
citizens? A man is brutally prevented from speaking, because he does not
know the refined English language of the police force.
Emma Goldman delivered her address in English. It is not likely that
Capt. Ward understood enough of that language. However, the audience
did, and if the police of this country were not so barefaced, the
saviour of Buffalo would have wished himself anywhere rather than to
stand exposed as a clown before a large gathering of men and women.
The meeting the following evening was forcibly dispersed before the
speakers had arrived. Ignorance is always brutal when it is backed by
Toronto. King Edward Hotel, Queen Victoria Manicuring Parlor. It was
only when we read these signs that we realized that we were on the soil
of the British Empire.
However, the monarchical authorities of Canada were more hospitable and
much freer than those of our free Republic. Not a sign of an officer at
any of the meetings.
The city? A gray sky, rain, storms. Altogether one was reminded of one
of Heine's witty, drastic criticisms in reference to a well-known German
university town. "Dogs on the street," Heine writes, "implore strangers
to kick them, so that they may have some change from the awful monotony and dulness."
Rochester. The neighborly influence of the Buffalo police seems to have
had a bad effect upon the mental development of the Rochester
authorities. The hall was packed with officers at both meetings. The
government of Rochester, however, was not saved—the police kept
themselves in good order. Some of them seem to have benefited by the
lectures. That accounts for the familiarity of one of Rochester's
"finest," who wanted to shake Emma Goldman's hand. E. G. had to decline.
Baron von Schlippenbach or an American representative of law and
disorder,—where is the difference?
Syracuse. The city where the trains run through the streets. With
Tolstoy, one feels that civilization is a crime and a mistake, when one
sees nerve-wrecking machines running through the streets, poisoning the
atmosphere with soft coal smoke.
What! Anarchists within the walls of Syracuse? O horror! The newspapers
reported of special session at City Hall, how to meet the terrible
Well, Syracuse still stands on its old site. The second meeting,
attended largely by "genuine" Americans, brought by curiosity perhaps,
was very successful. We were assured that the lecture made a splendid
impression, which led us to think that we probably were guilty of some
foolishness, as the Greek philosopher, when his lectures were applauded,
would turn to his hearers and ask, "Gentlemen, have I committed some
E. G. and M. B.
THE MORAL DEMAND.
A Comedy, in One Act, by Otto Erich Hartleben.
Translated from the German for "Mother Earth."
Rita Revera, concert singer.
Friedrich Stierwald, owner of firm of "C. W. Stierwald Sons" in
Bertha, Rita's maid.
Time.—End of the nineteenth century.
Place.—A large German fashionable bathing resort.
Scene.—Rita's boudoir. Small room elegantly furnished in Louis XVI.
style. In the background, a broad open door, with draperies, which leads
into an antechamber. To the right, a piano, in front of which stands a
large, comfortable stool.
Rita (enters the antechamber attired in an elaborate ball toilette. She
wears a gray silk cloak, a lace fichu, and a parasol. Gaily tripping
toward the front, she sings): "Les envoyées du paradis sont les
mascottes, mes amis...." (She lays the parasol on the table and takes
off her long white gloves, all the while singing the melody. She
interrupts herself and calls aloud) Bertha! Bertha! (Sings) O
Bertholina, O Bertholina!
Bertha (walks through the middle): My lady, your pleasure?
(Rita has taken off her cloak and stands in front of the mirror. She is
still humming the melody absentmindedly).
(Bertha takes off Rita's wraps.)
Rita (turns around merrily): Tell me, Bertha, why does not the
electric bell ring? I must always sing first, must always squander all
my flute notes first ere I can entice you to come. What do you suppose
that costs? With that I can immediately arrange another charity matinée.
Terrible thing, isn't it?
Bertha: Yes. The man has not yet repaired it.
Rita: O, Bertholina, why has the man not yet repaired it?
Bertha: Yes. The man intended to come early in the morning.
Rita: The man has often wanted to do so. He does not seem to possess a
strong character. (She points to her cloak) Dust it well before
placing it in the wardrobe. The dust is simply terrible in this place
... and this they call a fresh-air resort. Has anybody called?
Bertha: Yes, my lady, the Count. He has——
Rita: Well, yes; I mean anyone else?
Bertha: No. No one.
Rita: Hm! Let me have my dressing gown.
(Bertha goes to the sleeping chamber to the left.)
Rita (steps in front of the mirror, singing softly): "Les envoyées du
paradis...." (Suddenly raising her voice, she asks Bertha) How long
did he wait?
Rita: I would like to know how long he waited.
Bertha: An hour.
Rita (to herself): He does not love me any more. (Loudly) But during
that time he might have at least repaired the bell. He is of no use
whatever. (She laughs.)
Bertha: The Count came directly from the matinée and asked me where your
ladyship had gone to dine. Naturally I did not know.
Rita: Did he ask—anything else?
Bertha: No, he looked at the photographs.
Rita (in the door): Well? And does he expect to come again to-day?
Bertha: Yes, certainly. At four o'clock.
Rita (looks at the clock): Oh, but that's boring. Now it is already
half-past three. One cannot even drink coffee in peace. Hurry, Bertha,
prepare the coffee.
(Bertha leaves the room, carrying the articles of attire.)
(Rita, after a pause, singing a melancholy melody.)
(Friedrich Stierwald, a man very carefully dressed in black, about
thirty years of age, with a black crêpe around his stiff hat, enters
from the rear into the antechamber, followed by Bertha.)
Bertha: But the lady is not well.
Friedrich: Please tell the lady that I am passing through here, and that
I must speak with her about a very pressing matter. It is absolutely
necessary. Please! (He gives her money and his card.)
Bertha: Yes, I shall take your card, but I fear she will not receive
Friedrich: Why not? O, yes! Just go——
Bertha: This morning she sang at a charity matinée and so——
Friedrich: I know, I know. Listen! (Rita's singing has grown louder)
Don't you hear how she sings? Oh, do go!
Bertha (shaking her head): Well, then—wait a moment. (She passes
through the room to the half-opened door of the sleeping apartment,
knocks) Dear lady!
Rita (from within): Well? What's the matter?
Bertha (at the door): Oh, this gentleman here—he wishes to see you
very much. He is passing through here.
Rita (within; laughs): Come in.
(Friedrich has walked up to the middle door, where he remains
Rita: Well. Who is it? Friedrich—— Hmm—— I shall come immediately.
Bertha (comes out and looks at Friedrich in surprise): My lady wishes
you to await her. (She walks away, after having taken another glance at
(Friedrich looks about embarrassed and shyly.)
(Rita enters attired in a tasteful dressing gown, but remains standing
in the door.)
Friedrich (bows; softly): Good day.
(Rita looks at him with an ironical smile and remains silent.)
Friedrich: You remember me? Don't you?
Rita (quietly): Strange. You—come to see me? What has become of your
good training? (Laughs.) Have you lost all sense of shame?
Friedrich (stretches out his hand, as if imploring): Oh, I beg of you,
I beg of you; not this tone! I really came to explain everything to you,
everything. And possibly to set things aright.
Rita: You—with me! (She shakes her head.) Incredible! But, please,
since you are here, sit down. With what can you serve me?
Friedrich (seriously): Miss Hattenbach, I really should——
Rita (lightly): Pardon me, my name is Revera. Rita Revera.
Friedrich: I know that you call yourself by that name now. But you won't
expect me, an old friend of your family, to make use of this romantic,
theatrical name. For me you are now, as heretofore, the daughter of the
esteemed house of Hattenbach, with which I——
Rita (quickly and sharply): With which your father transacts business,
Friedrich (with emphasis): With which I now am myself associated.
Rita: Is it possible? And your father?
Friedrich (seriously): If I had the slightest inkling of your address,
yes, even your present name, I should not have missed to announce to you
the sudden death of my father.
Rita (after pause): Oh, he is dead. I see you still wear mourning. How
long ago is it?
Friedrich: Half a year. Since then I am looking for you, and I hope you
will not forbid me to address you now, as of yore, with that name, which
is so highly esteemed in our native city.
Rita (smiling friendly): Your solemnity—is delightful. Golden! But
Friedrich (remains standing; he is hurt): I must confess, Miss
Hattenbach, that I was not prepared for such a reception from you. I
hoped that I might expect, after these four or five years, that you
would receive me differently than with this—with this—how shall I say?
Friedrich: No, with this arrogance.
Friedrich (controlling himself): I beg your pardon. I am sorry to have
Rita (after a pause, hostile): You wish to be taken seriously? (She
sits down, with a gesture of the hand) Please, what have you to say to
Friedrich: Much. Oh, very much. (He also sits down.) But—you are not
Rita: Not well? What makes you say so?
Friedrich: Yes, the maid told me so.
Rita: The maid—she is a useful person. That makes me think. You
certainly expect to stay here some time, do you not?
Friedrich: With your permission. I have much to tell you.
Rita: I thought so. (Calling loudly) Bertha! Bertha! Do you suppose
one could get an electric bell repaired here? Impossible.
Bertha (enters): My lady?
Rita: Bertha, when the Count comes—now I am really sick.
Bertha (nods): Very well. (She leaves.)
Rita (calls after her): And where is the coffee? I shall famish.
Bertha (outside): Immediately.
Friedrich: The—the Count—did you say?
Rita: Yes, quite a fine fellow otherwise, but—would not fit in now. I
wanted to say: I am passionately fond of electric bells. You know they
have a fabulous charm for me. One only needs to touch them softly, ever
so softly, with the small finger, and still cause a terrible noise.
Fine—is it not? You wanted to talk about serious matters. It seems so
Friedrich: Yes. And I beg of you, Miss Erna——
Rita: Oh, well!
Friedrich (continuing): I beg of you; be really and truly serious.
Yes? Listen to what I have to say to you. Be assured that it comes from
an honest, warm heart. During the years in which I have not seen you, I
have grown to be a serious man—perhaps, too serious for my age—but my
feelings for you have remained young, quite young. Do you hear me, Erna?
Rita (leaning back in the rocking chair, with a sigh): I hear.
Friedrich: And you know, Erna, how I have always loved you from my
earliest youth, yes, even sooner than I myself suspected. You know that,
(Rita is silent and does not look at him.)
Friedrich: When I was still a foolish schoolboy I already called you my
betrothed, and I could not but think otherwise than that I would some
day call you my wife. You certainly know that, don't you?
Rita (reserved): Yes, I know it.
Friedrich: Well, then you ought to be able to understand what dreadful
feelings overcame me when I discovered, sooner than you or the world,
the affection of my father for you. That was—no, you cannot grasp it.
Rita (looks at him searchingly): Sooner than I and all the world?
Friedrich: Oh, a great deal sooner ... that was.... That time was the
beginning of the hardest innermost struggles for me. What was I to do?
(He sighs deeply.) Ah, Miss Erna, we people are really——
Rita: Yes, yes.
Friedrich: We are dreadfully shallow-minded. How seldom one of us can
really live as he would like to. Must we not always and forever consider
others—and our surroundings?
Friedrich: Well, yes, we do so, at least. And when it is our own father!
For, look here, Erna, I never would have been able to oppose my father!
I was used, as you well know, from childhood to always look up to my
father with the greatest respect. He used to be severe, my father, proud
and inaccessible, but—if I may be permitted to say so, he was an
Friedrich (eagerly): Yes, indeed! You must remember that it was he
alone who established our business by means of his powerful energy and
untiring diligence. Only now I myself have undertaken the management of
the establishment. I am able to see what an immense work he has
Rita (simply): Yes, he was an able business man.
Friedrich: In every respect! Ability personified, and he had grown to be
fifty-two years of age and was still, still—how shall I say?
Rita: Still able.
Friedrich: Well, yes; I mean a vigorous man in his best years. For
fifteen years he had been a widower, he had worked, worked unceasingly,
and then—the house was well established—he could think of placing some
of the work upon younger shoulders. He could think of enjoying his life
Rita (softly): That is——
Friedrich (continuing): And he thought he had found, in you, the one
who would bring back to him youth and the joy of life.
Rita (irritated): Yes, but then you ought to—(Breaks off.) Oh, it
is not worth while.
Friedrich: How? I should have been man enough to say: No, I forbid it;
that is a folly of age. I, your son, forbid it. I demand her for myself.
The young fortune is meant for me—not for you?——No, Erna, I could
not do that. I could not do that.
Friedrich: I, the young clerk, with no future before me!
Friedrich: My entire training and my conceptions urged me to consider it
my duty to simply stand aside and stifle my affection, as I did—as I
already told you even before any other person had an idea of the
intentions of my father. I gradually grew away from you.
Rita (amused): Gradually—yes, I recollect. You suddenly became
formal. Indeed, very nice!
Friedrich: I thought——
(Bertha comes with the coffee and serves.)
Rita: Will you take a cup with me?
Friedrich (thoughtlessly): I thought——(Correcting himself) pardon
me! I thank you!
Rita: I hope it will not disturb you if I drink my coffee while you
Friedrich: Please (embarrassed). I thought it a proper thing. I hoped
that my cold and distant attitude would check a possible existing
affection for me.
Rita: Possible existing affection! Fie! Now you are beginning to lie!
(She jumps up and walks nervously through the room.) As though you had
not positively known that! (Stepping in front of him) Or what did you
take me for when I kissed you?
Friedrich (very much frightened, also rises): O, Erna, I always——
Rita (laughs): You are delightful! Delightful! Still the same bashful
boy—who does not dare—(she laughs and sits down again.) Delightful.
Friedrich (after a silence, hesitatingly): Well, are you going to
allow me to call you Erna again, as of yore?
Rita: As of yore. (She sighs, then gaily) If you care to.
Friedrich (happy): Yes? May I?
Rita (heartily): O, yes, Fritz. That's better, isn't it? It sounds
more natural, eh?
Friedrich (presses her hand and sighs): Yes, really. You take a heavy
load from me. Everything that I want to say to you can be done so much
better in the familiar tone.
Rita: Oh! Have you still so much to say to me?
Friedrich: Well—but now tell me first: how was it possible for you to
undertake such a step. What prompted you to leave so suddenly? Erna,
Erna, how could you do that?
Rita (proudly): How I could? Can you ask me that? Do you really not
Friedrich (softly): Oh, yes; I do know it, but—it takes so much to do
Rita: Not more than was in me.
Friedrich: One thing I must confess to you, although it was really bad
of me. But I knew no way out of it. I felt relieved after you had gone.
Rita: Well, then, that was your heroism.
Friedrich: Do not misunderstand me. I knew my father had——
Rita: Yes, yes—but do not talk about it any more.
Friedrich: You are right. It was boyish of me. It did not last long, and
then I mourned for you—not less than your parents. Oh, Erna! If you
would see your parents now. They have aged terribly. Your father has
lost his humor altogether, and is giving full vent to his old passion
for red wine. Your mother is always ailing, hardly ever leaves the
house, and both, even though they never lose a word about it, cannot
reconcile themselves to the thought that their only child left them.
Rita (after a pause, awakens from her meditation, harshly): Perhaps
you were sent by my father?
Rita: Then I would show you the door.
Rita: A man, who ventured to pay his debts with me——
Friedrich: How so; what do you mean?
Rita: Oh—let's drop that. Times were bad. But to-day the house of
Hattenbach enjoys its good old standing, as you say, and has overcome
the crisis. Then your father must have had some consideration—without
me. Well, then.——And Rudolstadt still stands—on the old spot. That's
the main thing. But now let us talk about something else, I beg of you.
Friedrich: No, no, Erna. What you allude to, that——do you really
believe my father had——
Rita: Your father had grown used to buy and attain everything in life
through money. Why not buy me also? And he had already received the
promise—not from me, but from my father. But I am free! I ran away and
am my own mistress! (With haughtiness.) A young girl, all alone! Down
with the gang!
(Friedrich is silent and holds his head.)
Rita (steps up to him and touches his shoulder, in a friendly manner):
Don't be sad. At that time your father was the stronger, and——Life is
not otherwise. After all, one must assert oneself.
Friedrich: But he robbed you of your happiness.
Rita (jovially): Who knows? It is just as well.
Friedrich (surprised): Is that possible? Do you call that happiness,
this being alone?
Rita: Yes. That is MY happiness—my freedom, and I love it with
jealousy, for I fought for it myself.
Friedrich (bitterly): A great happiness! Outside of family ties,
outside the ranks of respectable society.
Rita (laughs aloud, but without bitterness): Respectable society! Yes.
I fled from that—thank Heaven. (harshly) But if you do not come in
the name of my father, what do you want here? Why do you come? For what
purpose? What do you want of me?
Friedrich: Erna, you ask that in a strange manner.
Rita: Well, yes. I have a suspicion that you—begrudge me my liberty.
How did you find me, anyway?
Friedrich: Yes, that was hard enough.
Rita: Rita Revera is not so unknown.
Friedrich: Rita Revera! Oh, no! How often I have read that name these
last years—in the newspapers in Berlin, on various placards, in large
letters. But how could I ever have thought that you were meant by it?
Rita (laughs): Why did you not go to the "Winter Garden" when you were
Friedrich: I never frequent such places.
Rita: Pardon me! Oh, I always forget the old customs.
Friedrich: Oh, please, please, dear Erna; not in this tone of voice!
Rita: Which tone?
Friedrich: Erna! Do not make matters so difficult for me. See, after I
had finally discovered, through an agency in Berlin, and after hunting a
long time, that you were the famous Revera, I was terribly shocked at
first, terribly sad, and, for a moment, I thought of giving up
everything. My worst fears were over. I had the assurance that you lived
in good, and as I now see, in comfortable circumstances. But, on the
other hand, I had to be prepared that you might have grown estranged to
the world in which I live—that we could hardly understand each other.
Rita: Hm! Shall I tell you what was your ideal—how you would have liked
to find me again? As a poor seamstress, in an attic room, who, during
the four years, had lived in hunger and need—but respectably, that is
the main point. Then you would have stretched forth your kind arms, and
the poor, pale little dove would have gratefully embraced you. Will you
deny that you have imagined it thus and even wished for it?
Friedrich (looks at her calmly): Well, is there anything wrong about
Rita: But how did it happen that, regardless of this, of this
disappointment, you, nevertheless, continued to search for me?
Friedrich: Thank goodness, at the right moment I recollected your clear,
silvery, childlike laughter. Right in the midst of my petty scruples it
resounded in my ears, as at the time when you ridiculed my gravity. Do
you still remember that time, Erna?
(Rita is silent.)
Bertha (enters with an enormous bouquet of dark red roses): My
lady—from the Count.
Rita (jumps up, nervously excited): Roses! My dark roses! Give them to
me! Ah! (She holds them toward Friedrich and asks) Did he say
Bertha: No, said nothing, but——
Friedrich (shoves the bouquet, which she holds up closely to his face,
aside): I thank you.
Rita (without noticing him, to Bertha): Well?
Bertha (pointing to the bouquet): The Count has written something on a
Rita: His card? Where? (She searches among the flowers) Oh, here!
(She reads; then softly to Bertha) It is all right.
Rita (reads again): "Pour prendre congé." (With an easy sigh) Yes,
Friedrich: What is the matter?
Rita: Sad! His education was hardly half finished and he already
Friedrich: What do you mean? I do not understand you at all.
Rita (her mind is occupied): Too bad. Now he'll grow entirely stupid.
Friedrich (rises importantly): Erna, answer me. What relationship
existed between you and the Count?
Rita (laughs): What business is that of yours?
Friedrich (solemnly): Erna! Whatever it might have been, this will not
do any longer.
Rita (gaily): No, no; you see it is already ended.
Friedrich: No, Erna, that must all be ended. You must get out of all
Rita (looks at him surprised and inquiringly): Hm! Strange person.
Friedrich (grows more eager and walks up and down in the room): Such a
life is immoral. You must recognize it. Yes, and I forbid you to live on
in this fashion. I have the right to demand it of you.
Rita (interrupts him sharply): Demand? You demand something of me?
Friedrich: Yes, indeed, demand! Not for me—no—in the name of morals.
That which I ask of you is simply a moral demand, do you understand, a
moral demand, which must be expected of every woman.
Rita: "Must!" And why?
Friedrich: Because—because—because—well, dear me—because—otherwise
everything will stop!
Rita: What will stop? Life?
Friedrich: No, but morals.
Rita: Ah, I thank you. Now I understand you. One must be moral
because—otherwise morality will stop.
Friedrich: Why, yes. That is very simple.
Rita: Yes—now, please, what would I have to do in order to fulfill your
demand? I am curious like a child now, and shall listen obediently.
(She sits down again.)
Friedrich (also sits down and grasps her hand, warmly): Well, see, my
dear Erna, everything can still be undone. In Rudolstadt everybody
believes you are in England with relatives. Even if you have never been
Rita: Often enough. My best engagements.
Friedrich: So much the better. Then you certainly speak English?
Rita: Of course.
Friedrich: And you are acquainted with English customs. Excellent. Oh,
Erna. Your father will be pleased, he once confessed to me, when he had
a little too much wine. You know him: he grows sentimental then.
Rita (to herself): They are all that way.
Rita: Oh, nothing. Please continue. Well—I could come back?
Friedrich: Certainly! Fortunately, during these last years, since you
have grown so famous, nobody has——
Rita: I have grown notorious only within a year.
Friedrich: Well, most likely nobody in Rudolstadt has ever seen you on
the boards. In one word, you must return.
Rita: From England?
Friedrich: Yes, nothing lies in the way. And your mother will be
Rita: Nay, nay.
Friedrich: How well that you have taken a different name.
Rita: Ah, that is it. Yes, I believe that. Then they know that I am Rita
Friedrich: I wrote them. They will receive you with open arms. Erna! I
beg of you! I entreat you; come with me! It is still time. To-day. You
cannot know, but anybody from Rudolstadt who knows might come to the
Rita (decidedly): No one from Rudolstadt will do that. They are too
well trained for that. You see it by your own person. But go on! If I
would care to, if I really would return—what then?
Friedrich: Then? Well, then, you would be in the midst of the family and
society again—and then——
Rita: And then?
Friedrich: Then, after some time has elapsed and you feel at home and
when all is forgotten, as though nothing had ever happened——
Rita: But a great deal has happened.
Friedrich: Erna, you must not take me for such a Philistine that I would
mind that. At heart I am unprejudiced. No, really, I know (softly) my
own fault, and I know Life. I know very well, and I cannot ask it of
you, that you, in a career like yours, you——
Friedrich: Well, that you should have remained entirely faultless. And I
do not ask it of you either.
Rita: You do well at that.
Friedrich: I mean, whatever has happened within these four years—lies
beyond us, does not concern me—but shall not concern you any longer
either. Rita Revera has ceased to be—Erna Hattenbach returns to her
Rita: Lovely, very lovely. Hm!—but then, what then? Shall I start a
Friedrich (with a gentle reproach): But, Erna! Don't you understand
me? Could you think of anything else than—— Of course, I shall marry
(Rita looks at him puzzled.)
Friedrich: But that is self-evident. Why should I have looked you up
otherwise? Why should I be here? But, dear Erna, don't look so stunned.
Rita (still stares at him): "Simply—marry." Strange. (She turns
around towards the open piano, plays and sings softly) Farilon, farila,
Friedrich (has risen): Erna! Do not torment me!
Rita: Torment? No. That would not be right. You are a good fellow. Give
me a kiss. (She rises.)
Friedrich (embraces and kisses her): My Erna! Oh, you have grown so
much prettier! So much prettier!
(Rita leans her head on his shoulder.)
Friedrich: But now come. Let us not lose one moment.
(Rita does not move.)
Friedrich: If possible let everything be.... Come! (He pushes her with
gentle force) You cry?
Rita (hastily wipes the tears from her eyes, controls herself): O,
nonsense. Rita Revera does not cry—she laughs. (Laughs forcedly.)
Friedrich: Erna, do not use that name. I do not care to hear it again!
Rita: Oh—you do not want to hear it any more. You would like to command
me. You come here and assume that that which life and hard times have
made of me you can wipe out in a half hour! No! You do not know life and
know nothing of me. (Harshly) My name is Revera, and I shall not marry
a merchant from Rudolstadt.
Friedrich: How is that? You still hesitate?
Rita: Do I look as though I hesitated? (She steps up closer to him.)
Do you know, Fred, that during the years after my escape I often went
hungry, brutally hungry? Do you know that I ran about in the most
frightful dives, with rattling plate, collecting pennies and insults? Do
you know what it means to humiliate oneself for dry bread? You see; that
has been my school. Do you understand that I had to become an entirely
different person or go to ruin? One who owes everything to himself, who
is proud of himself, but who no longer respects anything, above all, no
conventional measures and weights? And do you understand, Fred, that it
would be base on my part were I to follow you to the Philistine?
Friedrich (after a pause, sadly): No, I do not understand that.
Rita (again gaily): I thought so. Shall I dread there every suspicion
and tremble before every fool, whereas I can breathe free air, enjoy
sunshine and the best conscience. You know that pretty part in the
Walküre? (She sings):
"Greet Rudolstadt for me,
Greet my father and mother
And all the heroes....
I shall not follow you to them!"
Now you know. (She sits down at the piano again.)
Friedrich (after silence): Even if you have lived through hard times,
that still does not give you the right to disregard the duties of morals
Rita (plays and sings): "Farilon, farila, farilette—"
Friedrich: I cannot understand how you can refuse me, when I offer you
the opportunity of returning to ordered circumstances.
Rita: I do not love the "ordered" circumstances. On the contrary, I must
have something to train.
Friedrich: And I? I shall never be anything to you any more? You thrust
me also aside in your stubbornness.
Rita: But not at all. Why?
Friedrich: How so? Did you not state just now that you would never marry
a merchant from Rudolstadt.
Friedrich: Do you see? You cannot be so cold and heartless towards me?
(Flattering) Why did you kiss me before? I know you also yearn in your
innermost heart for those times in which we secretly saw and found each
other. You also, and, even if you deny it, I felt it before when you
cried. (Softly) Erna! Come along, come along with me! Come! Become my
Rita (looks at him quietly): No, I shall not do such a thing.
Friedrich (starts nervously; after a pause): Erna! Is that your last
Friedrich: Consider well what you say!
Rita: I know what I am about.
Friedrich: Erna! You want—to remain what you are?
Rita: Yes. That's just what I want.
Friedrich (remains for some time struggling, then grasps his hat):
Then—adieu! (He hurries toward the left into the bedroom.)
Rita (calls smiling): Halt! Not there.
Friedrich (returns, confused): Pardon me, I——
Rita: Poor Fred, did you stray into my bedroom? There is the door.
(Long pause. Several times he tries to speak. She laughs gently. Then
she sings and plays the song from "Mamselle Nitouche"):
A minuit, après la fête,
Rev'naient Babet et Cadet;
Cristi! la nuit est complète,
Faut nous dépêcher, Babet.
Tâche d'en profiter, grosse bête!
Farilon, farila, farilette.
J'ai trop peur, disait Cadet—
J'ai pas peur, disait Babet—
Larirette, larire.— — —
(Friedrich at first listens against his will, even makes a step toward
the door. By and by he becomes fascinated and finally is charmed. When
she finishes, he puts his stiff hat on the table and walks toward her
with a blissful smile.)
Rita: Now? You even smile? Did I impress you?
Friedrich (drops down on his knees in front of her): Oh, Erna, you are
the most charming woman on earth. (He kisses her hands wildly.)
Rita (stoops down to him, softly and merrily): Why run away? Why? If
you still love me, can you run off—you mule?
Friedrich: Oh, I'll remain—I remain with you.
Rita: It was well that you missed the door.
Friedrich: Oh, Erna——
Rita: But now you'll call me Rita—do you understand? Well? Are you
going to—are you going to be good?
Friedrich: Rita! Rita! Everything you wish.
Rita: Everything I wish. (She kisses him.) And now tell me about your
moral demand. Yes? You are delightful when you talk about it. So
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Free America. 16mo, cloth, ornamental, gilt top, 75c.; by mail . . 80c.
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