An Anarchist Woman by Hutchins Hapgood, New York: Duffield & Company, 1909.
An Anarchist Woman
While Marie was trying to find some trace of Terry, the latter was wandering about the country.
"I have been tramping about the country," he wrote me, "living most of the time in the parks. This life, where you 'travel by hand,' crowds out consecutive meditation, but I like It because I can go away at the first shadow of. uneasiness betrayed on either side. My "existence now is so responsive and irresponsible that it comes very close to my heart. I am living a life of contrasts: one week I spent with a rare friend who has many good books. And admires me for the thing for which all others condemn me. Strange, is it not, that the one thing which redeems me in his far-seeing eyes is what places me beyond redemption in the minds of others. I have spent some sleepless nights in his fine home, kept awake by the seductions of social life tugging at my heart-strings. So one night I stole away from this seduction and slept with some drunken hoboes in the tall soft grass, where I could have no doubt about being welcome. I might as well doubt the grass as those pals, who without question hailed me as an equal. I, having the only swell 'front,' tackled a mansion, and the Irish servant-girl, to whom I told the truth, gave me a whole hand-out in a basket, enough for all of us. My brother hoboes swore I should be the travelling agent of the gang. But a copper gave me the 'hot foot,' while I was 'pounding my ear' in the woods with the other 'boes, so I straightened and hiked to the stock yards, where I feel more at home with the Hibernians.
"Never have I seen Life more triumphant and rampant, more brimming over with hope and defiant of all conditions, hygienic and otherwise. I am rooming with an Irish family whose floor space is limited, so we all have shake-downs, and in the morning can clear the decks for action with no bedsteads in the way. I am very 'crummy,' badly fleabitten, overrun with bed bugs, somewhat flyblown, but, redemption of it all, I am free and always drunk. Still, I am really getting tired of playing the knock-about comedian and shall soon 'hit the road.'
"I am willing to do anything for Marie I can, except to love her as I once did, but never shall again. Even spirits die, and the spirit of the salon is so dead that it is beyond resurrection."
Marie, however, would not believe that the spirit of the salon, or at any rate, as much of that spirit as depended on the relation between her and Terry, was dead; she was more concious than Terry of the ups and downs of the human nerves and heart and the ever present possibility of change, and she went to work in a willful attempt to get back her lover. Her next letter was a triumphant one:
"I am a very happy girl to-day, and I must write to tell you so before the mood vanishes, for I have learned that good moods are very fleeting. . . . The cause of my happiness is, of course, that I have at last met Terry and we have bad a long, delightful talk together, and I hope our misunderstanding is all cleared up. Only, now I am afraid I shall begin to pine and fret because we cannot be together always, though reason and philosophy and logic all tell me that the new relation be between us two is the very best, noblest, most ideal-or at least they try to tell me so. It very nearly approaches the anarchistic standard, too.
"There is something fascinating in this new state of affairs. It is just like falling in love all over again: the clandestine meetings, with the one little tremulous caress at partingwhich is all we are bold enough to exchange -thrill me; it is the mysterious charm of the first love-affair! It makes my blood sing and dance. I lie awake the whole night thinking of our meetings and trying to bring them vividly back to me.
"And, do you know, what makes me supremely glad is the feeling that Terry is going to love me again, that I am going to win him back. He thinks that love is an enslaving thing and harmful to the soul, but my dear lovely idealist and dreamer has loved me once and he must love me again. I am so in love with love and almost as fanatical about it as the ecstatic artist is about art: love for love's sake, art for art's sake. I never did -and hope I never shall-get over that feeling of awe at the mystery and beauty and elusiveness of that great force in life-love.
And I have always felt so sorry for people, sincere people, who told me honestly that they have felt that wonder-in-spring sensation only once in all their lives. It made me think that I had at least one thing to be very thankful for, that I was different from them, that I could experience the divine flame, and experience it continually. If you knew how often I have fallen in love with Terry!
"Poor Terry, I feel so sorry for him, too; he has no place to stay, though he could stay indefinitely at three or four houses that I know of, where his friends would feel only too glad to have him. But he says he does not want again to attach himself to any person, place, or cause, because the time would come when he should have to break away, and then he should have to experience death again. So he intends to move about whenever and wherever the whim suits. But I am sure this life will not satisfy Terry for long, for there is really very much of the hermit in him. . . .
"I am going to see him again in a few days, so I have the pleasantest things to dream of. If I am to win Terry back, I must be extremely careful: one false move would be likely to queer the whole thing. Oh, I am tremendously happy, for I am sure I shall win my dear Terry back again!"
The next letter, written about a month later, has a note of discouragement, and also a slight suggestion of an effort to steel herself against possible developments in the future:
"When I go among the comrades and friends, I must keep such careful watch over myself. I don't want to show them how I feel about our separation. The movement had the strongest conviction that I was so wrapped up in Terry- I was always so frantically jealous of him, you know-that I would surely die, or go crazy, if I were ever separated from him. So they are all guessing at present, and don't know just what to think of me. Apparently I am just the same, in fact some better, for I laugh and talk more, much more than I ever did.
"Terry and I have met several times since I wrote you, and I am almost discouraged, and think at times it would be better for me not to see him at all. I have to be so careful, and it is awfully hard to control my impulses to tell him what I' feel! But I dare not do that or he would never see me again, and I hardly think I could stand that. He is so very cold and friendly; of course, he does kiss me when we meet and at parting, but in such an indifferent way, and if I allow my lips to linger or cling to his for just the least part of a second, you ought to see how abruptly, almost roughly, he turns away. And I must not even notice it, and it hurts terribly. I don't understand how anyone can be so dreadfully cold. It makes me thrill all over when I see him bend his head toward me for the customary kiss, and I close my eyes so that I may enjoy more intensely that blissful eternity which I expect, and alas! only one short, perfunctory little peck, and it is all over-before my eyes are hardly closed.
"However, hope has not entirely left me. After being so intimate with Terry for seven years I ought surely to know something of his moods and 'disposition; and I do hope and expect that he will in time grow weary of roaming about and living the way he does now and that he will begin to yearn for feminine influences and caprices and tyrannies, and I hope, for mine in particular! . . .
"I should be much happier if I did not care for him so much, and I hope that in time I may have only a strong friendly interest in him. At times I envy him: he is so care-free, without the slightest responsibility toward anything or anybody; he can break from old associations and habits so easily and light-heartedly. I never could have done that . . .
"I am awfully absent-minded these days; you would laugh at some of the funny things I do. I ride on the cars miles past my street, and wander about and forget where I am going. Sometimes I think of things and then forget I was thinking."
In another six weeks' time came still more gloomy news:
"Our meetings are as uncertain, unpremeditated, and unarranged as his wanderings about the city are. It happened that I was all alone for the whole of last week, eight precious days of freedom, especially from Katie and her woes. I love her, as you know, but she does get on my nerves, at times. So I wrote Terry, asking him to come and visit with me for several days. It must have been my Jonah day, for the letter reached him, and he came and stayed here with me for the whole seven days. During this time we talked a great deal of our life together and of our life since we have not been together, and with his most calm and philosophical air he spoke of our circumstances, past and present. It seemed so pleasant and homelike, so much like the old days, to have dear Terry here with me, and I felt such lazy content to see and hear him, that at times I awoke with a start, for I could not keep myself from the idea that our separation was only a horrid dream.
"So, when he said things that ought to have hurt me dreadfully, I positively couldn't feel hurt. Somehow, the sound of his voice was so pleasing that I missed the sting of some of his pessimistic reflections about our love; it seemed to me that he spoke of others, surely not of our two selves I But now, since he has gone, and I have been forced to think of the things he said, many of the easily accepted but only half understood reflections on our love have come back to me with all their Sting. And I must now believe that I have passed out from Terry's life utterly, and that there is no return, nor hope of return. The most I could possibly hope for is an indifferent friendship, for so he has willed it, or perhaps fate, rather, has so -willed it. 'Dead love can never return,' he said. And I am now only one of the people he knows I It is so terrible that I must avoid the blow, must seek an independence of my own.
"Ana I had such high hopes, such dreams of pillowing his dear head on my bosom, and alas! he would consider that intolerable. And, upon reflection, his head would, in fact, rest very uneasily on my scrawny breast!
"So I am trying to resign myself and to readjust what is left of my life. It seems pitiful, though, that my life has been so commonplace all through. Not one single exception, not one thing that ever happened to me, or that I ever did, has been different from the experiences of all the world. My life with Terry, which I surely expected would be different, would be an exception to the commonplace love affairs of all people, has now ended the same way as everyone else's.
"Well, I have had seven years of life, that is perhaps a little more than some people have, and I ought to be satisfied with that. The biggest chapter of my life is over and 'done and closed for ever and I will try not to look back or think of it too much. And I shall tell you the same as if I were making some solemn vow, that I will not try any more to regain the love I have lost."
This resolution of Marie's seemed to have helped her considerably, for her later letters are not quite so exclusively concerned with the unhappy aspect of her relations with Terry. The strong vitality of mind and temperament which enabled this factory girl and prostitute to adjust herself to a relatively intellectual and distinguished existence still stood her in good stead, and enabled her to meet the present deeply tragic situation step by step and not go under: her youth and vitality and her love of life triumphed, as we shall see, over even this terrible rupture; the consolatory philosophy of anarchism, which had educated her, largely fell away, with the love of the man who had created it for her. But the work of the social propagandist has been done on Marie: the woman is a thoroughly self-conscious individual, as capable of leading her life as only are very few really distinguished personalities. Her next letter shows again a more general interest, though still largely concerned with Terry:
"The other night Terry spoke for the Social Science League on 'The Lesson of the Haymarket'- referring, as you know, to the hanging of the anarchists in 1886. The Saturday Evening Post had quite a lengthy notice about it the day before the lecture, and nearly all the morning papers spoke of it the day after. The lecture hall was well filled with people who do not usually attend the S. S. League. And I think these people, who were not radical, were much shocked and disappointed, for Terry was not a bit gentle and well-mannered, nor as philosophical as he nearly always is. I thought his lecture good, though there was something forced about it. Perhaps because he no longer has so much faith was the cause of his greater violence. It was as if he was trying to remember what he had once felt; and that made the expression rougher than if it had been more spontaneous. I really do not believe that he is, at bottom, at all violent. But he tried to be so in this lecture. He advocated assassination and regicide and other most violent and bloodcurdling things. His voice and manner, however, in saying these terrible things were not at all convincing. When replying to the critics, he was most violent, and was hissed and shamed, over half of the audience leaving the hall, very angry and indignant. I thought, for a while, that a regular free fistfight would follow, and it very nearly did, but Terry had a few friends with him, among them a German hen-pecked anarchist I must write you about, and your friend Jimmy, both of whom were ready to stand by Terry.
"Needless to say, Terry was gloriously drunk, and utterly reckless, and after the meeting was over quite a bunch of us became as drunk as he, though not quite so gloriously. He was quite helpless toward the small hours, when our party broke up, and I took Terry home with me, as Katie was not there, and on the way I had the pleasure of acting as a referee when he and a stranger, who Terry fancied had insulted him, did really have a fist-fight; I gathered up their hats and neckties and kept out of the way, ready to call assistance if need be, which fortunately was not necessary, for they only rolled around in the dirt a little, and Terry only had his chin smashed slightly by the fall.
"Drunk as he was, he did not strike the other man, though being stronger he could have pounded the life out of him; he only tripped him up and rolled him on the ground, Terry is certainly instinctively and naturally gentle and chivalrous, and I loved him as much as ever as I took him home and put him to bed.
"I am beginning to think I am a genius in taking care of drunken men, for I have managed in some way to take home and care for quite a number of them, for instance, Harris, who is the most unmanageable and perverse creature when drunk. I had an experience taking him home which I would not dare write you; and I can hardly realise to this day how I even succeeded in half carrying and half dragging him to our home from away down town. He certainly was the limit.
"On Monday the papers were all shrieking for Terry's head-wanted him deported or persecuted or prosecuted. But Terry has a good many friends and too much of a reputation as a philosopher; and his friends and his reputation prevented his becoming a martyr. Two friends, both newspaper men, managed to eliminate the most objectionable parts of Terry's terroristic utterances from their respective papers, and Terry's sister, the lawyer, one sergeant of police, and the ferocious but humane Tim Quinn did the rest. For the present, therefore, Terry's -desire to be acquainted with the inside of a prison, or otherwise to suffer for the cause which he still half-heartedly believes in, is frustrated.
"To me the most important aspect of the lecture was that he prepared it in our home. So, for another week, we enjoyed one another's company; and after the lecture he not only went home with me, as I have said, but he has remained ever since. I am trying not to build up any more hopes on this, because I know that Terry has been in a particularly reckless mood, and does not care much where he is. I am sorry that he could not find a better outlet for his mood than lecturing for the Social Science League, but that perhaps is a better and more harmless way than getting in with the criminals, as he has wanted to do so often of late. You may be sure, however, that his talk on the platform will not be forgotten, and should anything happen, in any way like the McKinley affair, for instance, I am sure things would be made very unpleasant for him. So I hope nothing will happen.
"Terry is really harmless. He expends all of his energy in desiring and thinking and talking, and has nothing left over for action. Whenever he had any scheme in mind I did not like, I used to encourage him to talk about it, knowing that he thus would be satisfied, without acting. He lives almost altogether in the head and in the imagination, and is really a teacher, in his own peculiar way, rather than an actor or practical man. That is why he takes offence at what seems to me such little things: they are not little to him, in his scheme of things, which is not the scheme of the world, and, alas! not even mine, I fear. He is so terribly alone, and growing more so, and I feel so awfully sorry for him.
"Especially since our rupture I have been compelled to be so careful not to hurt his feelings or trespass on his ideas of right and wrong; for he imagines he can feel what I am thinking and feeling, even if no words are said. He says words only conceal thought and do not express it. At times I feel so oppressed and depressed that I should experience the keenest ecstasy if I could hurt him in some physical way, use my muscles on him until I were exhausted. In imagination I sometimes know the fierce delight and exaltation of my flesh and spirit in hurting this man whom I love, in hurting him morally and physically-and I feel the lightness of my heart as the accumulated burden of my repression rolls away in the wildest, freest sensations.
"Of course, I have only felt this way at times; and at those times I know I was very passionate and unreasonable. I had regular fits of jealousy and anger, but at other times I had a boundless pity for him, there was something so pathetic about his gestures and his voice when he told me he knows just how I feel about him, that I could have cried out with the ache of my heart. It was so terrible to see how he suffered in his heroic attempt to suffice unto himself, to defy the world. He tries to think and feel deeper and higher than anyone else, but this is a terrible, terrible strain. It is all fearfully sad, and sometimes I wish I had never known him."
About his speech, Terry wrote:
"I am one of the by-products that do not pay just now, until some process comes along and sets the seal of its approval on me. just now I am deemed worse than useless, and since my speech on 'The Lesson of the Haymarket Riot' the authorities are looking for a law that will deport me. This will suit me, as I will swear that I am a citizen of no man's land. What I really need is not deportation, but solitary confinement, for the sake of my meditations. For even with my scant companionship I feel as if I were a circus animal. I still clutch convulsively to the idea that thought is the only reality and all expression of it merely a grading down of what was most high. If I am shut up I must cease talking and may think about real things, that is, ideal things. That would help me to put up with the world, which cannot put up with me unless I am in cold storage. There is a mental peace which passeth all understanding, and perhaps I might find that peace in prison. I have been insidiously poisoning my own mind for some time, and unless I can stop this I had better cease from talking, which does not seem to purge me of my unconscious pose, and retire to solitude behind the prison bars. There, undisturbed, I can meditate and often remember peacefully the beautiful things I have known in literature and nature. Beauty is like rain to the desert, it is rare, but it vanishes only from the surface of things, and deep down who knows what secret springs it feeds? As my sands run out, the remembrance of the brief beauty I have known will break over me like the pleasant noise of far-off Niagara waters on the stony desert of my life.
I once thought that I could help the mob to organise its own freedom. But now I see that we are all the mob, that all human beings are alike, and that all I or anyone can do is to save his own soul, to win his own freedom, and perhaps to teach others to do the same, not so much through social propaganda as by digging down to a deeper personal culture. Though I sometimes think that just now the prison would help me, yet I also long at times to talk to the crowd. I wish to tell the smug ones that we waste our lives in holding on to things that in our hearts we hold contemptible. I wish to tell the mob just why there are thirty thousand steady men out of work in this city: to do this I may take to the curbstone."
After his speech Terry returned to the home of Katie and Marie, as has been described by Marie, but on no basis of permanence. He thus speaks of it:
"You may think that I, too, have 'cashed in' my ideals; for I am back at the Salon for how long nobody knows-by special proxy request of Katie. 1 will spare myself and you any moralising on my relapse."
Katie, explaining Terry's return, said: "When he went away, Marie was sad all the time. She could not eat nor sleep and was looking for her lover every day. After weeks had passed I said to her: 'When you see Terry at the Social Science League, bring him home.' 'Do you mean it, Katie?' asked Marie, her eyes sparkling. She did so, and Terry went quietly into his room, and the next morning I made coffee as usual and Terry came out, and it was all right; it might have been all right for good, if this damned Nietzsche business had not come up." But that is anticipating.
It was after Terry's return that the famous miner Haywood, just after his acquittal from the charge of murder in connection with the Idaho labour troubles, visited Chicago, and spent most of his time at the Salon with Terry and Marie and several of their friends. The Salon was temporarily revived, like the flash in the pan, under Haywood's stimulating influence. Terry wrote of him:
Haywood has the stern pioneer pride of the West. There is a mighty simplicity about him. He is Walt Whitman's works bound in flesh and blood. He is a man of few words, and of instinctive psychic force, and is the big blond beast of Nietzsche. He knows just what he is doing and why, and has a great influence on the crowd: the mob went wild at his mere presence, and after his brief speech he came absolutely to be one of them. The swaying mass becomes, at his touch, in close contact with their instinctive leader. He is too much in touch with the people to agree with narrow trades-union policies. At a secret meeting in this city with Mitchell and Gompers he hinted that the Western Federation of Miners would amalgamate with the American Federation of Labour on the ground of no trade agreements and the open shop, and warned them that no man and no organisation was strong enough to stand in the way of this development. The Socialist party made him a big offer, but he replied that the Labour movement was big enough for him."
Of Haywood, Marie wrote: "He is a giant in size, but as gentle as the most delicate woman. He has only one eye, but that a very good one which does not miss things. He has been made into a regular hero by the people here, but he is the most modest man I have ever met. He is sincere and unassuming, so calm, with no heroic bluster about him. His voice is quiet and gentle. We had a blow-out for him, and all those present were very discreet. We all forgot our years and our troubles and we showed him a good time. I hardly think that even you, with all your democracy, could have stood for all the things that happened. Haywood is a big, good-natured boy, but quite sentimental, too. I think he liked me pretty well. I am sure he could have won many much more attractive girls than 1, but somehow he took to me right from the start. I was introduced to him along with a whole bunch of girls, all good-lookers, too, but I sat back quietly and was the only one who did not say nice things to the hero."