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Title: The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest

Editor: Upton Sinclair

Author of introduction, etc.: Jack London

Release date: July 5, 2021 [eBook #65775]

Language: English

Credits: MFR, Splendid Geryon and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)





(American sculptor, born 1877)

The Cry for Justice

An Anthology of the Literature
of Social Protest


Covering a Period of Five Thousand Years

Edited by
Author of “Sylvia,” “The Jungle,” Etc.

With an Introduction by
Author of “The Sea Wolf,” “The Call of the Wild,”
“The Valley of the Moon,” Etc., Etc.


Published by

Dr. John R. Haynes, of Los Angeles, very generously purchased from the publishers the plates and copyright of this book, in order to make possible the issuing of this edition. I asked Dr. Haynes if he would let me make acknowledgment to him in the book, and he answered: “Dedicate the book to those unknown ones, who by their dimes and quarters keep the Socialist movement going; to the poor and obscure people who sacrifice themselves in order to bring about a better world, which they may never live to see. Write this as eloquently as you can, and it will be the best possible dedication to ‘The Cry for Justice’.”

I decided, after thinking it over, to combine my own idea with the idea of Dr. Haynes.

Copyright, 1915, by
The John C. Winston Co.


Introduction by Jack London

This anthology, I take it, is the first edition, the first gathering together of the body of the literature and art of the humanist thinkers of the world. As well done as it has been done, it will be better done in the future. There will be much adding, there will be a little subtracting, in the succeeding editions that are bound to come. The result will be a monument of the ages, and there will be none fairer.

Since reading of the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud has enabled countless devout and earnest right-seeking souls to be stirred and uplifted to higher and finer planes of thought and action, then the reading of this humanist Holy Book cannot fail similarly to serve the needs of groping, yearning humans who seek to discern truth and justice amid the dazzle and murk of the thought-chaos of the present-day world.

No person, no matter how soft and secluded his own life has been, can read this Holy Book and not be aware that the world is filled with a vast mass of unfairness, cruelty, and suffering. He will find that it has been observed, during all the ages, by the thinkers, the seers, the poets, and the philosophers.

And such person will learn, possibly, that this fair world so brutally unfair, is not decreed by the will of God nor by any iron law of Nature. He will learn that the world can be fashioned a fair world indeed by the humans who inhabit it, by the very simple, and yet most difficult process of coming to an understanding of the world. Understanding, after all, is merely sympathy in its fine correct sense. And such sympathy, in its genuineness, makes toward unselfishness. Unselfishness inevitably[4] connotes service. And service is the solution of the entire vexatious problem of man.

He, who by understanding becomes converted to the gospel of service, will serve truth to confute liars and make of them truth-tellers; will serve kindness so that brutality will perish; will serve beauty to the erasement of all that is not beautiful. And he who is strong will serve the weak that they may become strong. He will devote his strength, not to the debasement and defilement of his weaker fellows, but to the making of opportunity for them to make themselves into men rather than into slaves and beasts.

One has but to read the names of the men and women whose words burn in these pages, and to recall that by far more than average intelligence have they won to their place in the world’s eye and in the world’s brain long after the dust of them has vanished, to realize that due credence must be placed in their report of the world herein recorded. They were not tyrants and wastrels, hypocrites and liars, brewers and gamblers, market-riggers and stock-brokers. They were givers and servers, and seers and humanists. They were unselfish. They conceived of life, not in terms of profit, but of service.

Life tore at them with its heart-break. They could not escape the hurt of it by selfish refuge in the gluttonies of brain and body. They saw, and steeled themselves to see, clear-eyed and unafraid. Nor were they afflicted by some strange myopia. They all saw the same thing. They are all agreed upon what they saw. The totality of their evidence proves this with unswerving consistency. They have brought the report, these commissioners of humanity. It is here in these pages. It is a true report.

But not merely have they reported the human ills.[5] They have proposed the remedy. And their remedy is of no part of all the jangling sects. It has nothing to do with the complicated metaphysical processes by which one may win to other worlds and imagined gains beyond the sky. It is a remedy for this world, since worlds must be taken one at a time. And yet, that not even the jangling sects should receive hurt by the making fairer of this world for this own world’s sake, it is well, for all future worlds of them that need future worlds, that their splendor be not tarnished by the vileness and ugliness of this world.

It is so simple a remedy, merely service. Not one ignoble thought or act is demanded of any one of all men and women in the world to make fair the world. The call is for nobility of thinking, nobility of doing. The call is for service, and, such is the wholesomeness of it, he who serves all, best serves himself.

Times change, and men’s minds with them. Down the past, civilizations have exposited themselves in terms of power, of world-power or of other-world power. No civilization has yet exposited itself in terms of love-of-man. The humanists have no quarrel with the previous civilizations. They were necessary in the development of man. But their purpose is fulfilled, and they may well pass, leaving man to build the new and higher civilization that will exposit itself in terms of love and service and brotherhood.

To see gathered here together this great body of human beauty and fineness and nobleness is to realize what glorious humans have already existed, do exist, and will continue increasingly to exist until all the world beautiful be made over in their image. We know how gods are made. Comes now the time to make a world.

Honolulu, March 6, 1915.



The editor has used his best efforts to ascertain what material in the present volume is protected by copyright. In all such cases he has obtained the permission of author and publisher for the use of the material. Such permission applies only to the present volume, and no one should assume the right to make any other use of it without seeking permission in turn. If there has been any failure upon the editor’s part to obtain a necessary consent, it is due solely to oversight, and he trusts that it may be overlooked. The following publishers have to be thanked for the permissions which they have kindly granted; the thanks applying also to the authors of the works.

Mitchell Kennerley

Patrick MacGill, “Songs of the Dead End.” Harry Kemp, “The Cry of Youth.” Charles Hanson Towne, “Manhattan.” Hjalmar Bergström, “Lynggaard & Co.” Donald Lowrie, “My Life in Prison.” John G. Neihardt, “Cry of the People.” Frank Harris, “The Bomb.” Vachel Lindsay, “The Eagle that is Forgotten” and “To the United States Senate.” Frederik van Eeden, “The Quest.” Edwin Davies Schoonmaker, “Trinity Church.” Walter Lippman, “A Preface to Politics.” L. Andreyev, “Savva.” J. C. Underwood, “Processionals.” Bliss Carman, “The Rough Rider.” Percy Adams Hutchison, “The Swordless Christ.”

Doubleday, Page & Co.

Frank Norris, “The Octopus.” Helen Keller, “Out of the Dark.” Frederik van Eeden, “Happy Humanity.” Bouck White, “The Call of the Carpenter.” Alexander Irvine, “From the Bottom Up.” John D. Rockefeller, “Random Reminiscences.” G. Lowes Dickinson, “Letters from a Chinese Official.” Ben B. Lindsey and Harvey J. O’Higgins, “The Beast.” Franklin P. Adams, “By and Large.” Edwin Markham, “The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems.” Gerald Stanley Lee, “Crowds.” Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom.”


Houghton Mifflin Co.

William Vaughn Moody, “Poems.” Vida D. Scudder, “Social Ideals.” Florence Wilkinson Evans, “The Ride Home.” Peter Kropotkin, “Mutual Aid” and “Memoirs of a Revolutionist.” Helen G. Cone, “Today.” T. B. Aldrich, “Poems.” T. W. Higginson, “Poems.”

Charles Scribner’s Sons

H. G. Wells, “A Modern Utopia.” Björnstjerne Björnson, “Beyond Human Power.” Edith Wharton, “The House of Mirth.” John Galsworthy, “A Motley.” Maxim Gorky, “Fóma Gordyéeff.” J. M. Barrie, “Farm Laborers.” Walter Wyckoff, “The Workers.”

The Macmillan Co.

John Masefield, “Dauber” and “A Consecration.” Jack London, “The People of the Abyss” and “Revolution.” Robert Herrick, “A Life for a Life.” Israel Zangwill, “Children of the Ghetto.” Albert Edwards, “A Man’s World” and “Comrade Yetta.” Walter Rauschenbusch, “Christianity and the Social Crisis.” Winston Churchill, “The Inside of the Cup.” Rabindranath Tagore, “Gitanjali.” Thorstein Veblen, “The Theory of the Leisure Class.” Edward Alsworth Ross, “Sin and Society.” W. J. Ghent, “Socialism and Success.” Vachel Lindsay, “The Congo.” Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, “Fires.” Percy Mackaye, “The Present Hour.” Robert Hunter, “Violence and the Labor Movement.” Ernest Poole, “The Harbor.”

The Century Co.

Louis Untermeyer, “Challenge.” Richard Whiteing, “No. 5 John Street.” George Carter, “Ballade of Misery and Iron.” James Oppenheim, “Songs for the New Age.” H. G. Wells, “In the Days of the Comet.” Alex. Irvine, “My Lady of the Chimney Corner.” Edwin Björkman, “Dinner à la Tango.”

Small, Maynard & Co.

Charlotte P. Gilman, “In this Our World” and “Women and Economics.” Finley P. Dunne, “Mr. Dooley.”



G. Bernard Shaw, “Preface to Major Barbara” and “The Problem Play.” Eugene Brieux, “The Red Robe.” W. L. George, “A Bed of Roses.”

Duffield & Co.

Elsa Barker, “The Frozen Grail.” H. G. Wells, “Tono-Bungay.”

B. W. Huebsch

James Oppenheim, “Pay Envelopes.” Gerhart Hauptmann, “The Weavers.” Maxim Gorky, “Tales of Two Countries.”

G. P. Putnam Sons

Antonio Fogazzaro, “The Saint.” J. L. Jaurès, “Studies in Socialism.”

George H. Doran Co.

Will Levington Comfort, “Midstream.” Charles E. Russell, “These Shifting Scenes.”

Frederick A. Stokes Co.

Robert Tressall, “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.” Wilhelm Lamszus, “The Human Slaughter House.” Olive Schreiner, “Woman and Labor.” Alfred Noyes, “The Wine Press.”

McClure Publishing Co.

Dana Burnet, “A Ballad of Dead Girls.” Lincoln Steffens, “The Dying Boss” and “The Reluctant Grafter.”

The “Masses”

John Amid, “The Tail of the World.” Dana Burnet, “Sisters of the Cross of Shame.” Carl Sandburg, “Buttons.” J. E. Spingarn, “Heloise sans Abelard.” Louis Untermeyer, “To a Supreme Court Judge.”

James Pott & Co.

David Graham Phillips, “The Reign of Gilt.”


Barse & Hopkins

R. W. Service, “The Spell of the Yukon.”

University of Chicago Press

August Bebel, “Memoirs.”

Charles H. Sergel Co.

Verhaeren, “The Dawn: Translation by Arthur Symons.”

Albert and Charles Boni

Horace Traubel, “Chants Communal.”

A. C. McClurg & Co.

W. E. B. du Bois, “The Souls of Black Folk.”

Mother Earth Publishing Co.

A. Berkman, “Prison Memories of an Anarchist.” Voltairine de Cleyre, “Works.” Emma Goldman, “Anarchism.”

Moffat, Yard & Co.

Reginald Wright Kauffman, “The House of Bondage.”

John Lane

Anatole France, “Penguin Island.” William Watson, “Poems.”

Bobbs-Merrill Co.

Brand Whitlock, “The Turn of the Balance.”

E. P. Dutton & Co.

Patrick MacGill, “Children of the Dead End.”

Charles H. Kerr Co.

“When the Leaves Come Out.”

Hillacre Bookhouse

Arturo Giovannitti, “The Walker.”


Henry Holt & Co.

Romain Rolland, “Jean-Christophe.”

Richard G. Badger (Poet Lore)

Andreyev, “King Hunger.” Gorky, “A Night’s Lodging.”

Mrs. Arthur Upson

Poems by Arthur Upson.

New York Times

Elsa Barker, “Breshkovskaya.”

Collier’s Weekly

Herman Hagedorn, “Fifth Avenue, 1915.”

Poetry: A Magazine of Verse

F. Kiper Frank, “A Girl Strike Leader.”


Max Eastman, “To a Bourgeois Litterateur.”

Walter Scott Publishing Co.

(P. P. Simmons Co., New York)

Joseph Skipsey, “Mother Wept.” Jethro Bithell’s translation of Verhaeren in “Contemporary Belgian Poetry” and of Dehmel in “Contemporary German Poetry.” Rimbaud’s “Waifs and Strays” in “Contemporary French Poetry.”

Elkin Mathews & Co.

William H. Davies, “Songs of Joy.”

Constable & Co.

Harold Monro, “Impressions.”

Duckworth & Co.

Hilaire Belloc, “The Rebel.”


Swan, Sonnenschein & Co.

Edward Carpenter, “Towards Democracy.”

Acknowledgments have also to be made to the following artists, who have kindly consented to have their works used in the volume: Mahonri Young, Wm. Balfour Ker, Ryan Walker, Charles A. Winter, Abastenia Eberle, John Mowbray-Clarke, Isidore Konti, Walter Crane, and Will Dyson. Also to Life Publishing Co. and the New Age, London, for permission to use a drawing from their files.



I. Toil 27
II. The Chasm 73
III. The Outcast 121
IV. Out of the Depths 179
V. Revolt 227
VI. Martyrdom 289
VII. Jesus 345
VIII. The Church 383
IX. The Voice of the Ages 431
X. Mammon 485
XI. War 551
XII. Country 593
XIII. Children 637
XIV. Humor 679
XV. The Poet 725
XVI. Socialism 783
XVII. The New Day 835


List of Illustrations

The Heavy Sledge, Mahonri Young Frontispiece
The Man with the Hoe, E. M. Lilien 32
The Vampire, E. M. Lilien 33
King Canute, William Balfour Ker 93
The Hand of Fate, William Balfour Ker 92
Without a Kennel, Ryan Walker 136
The White Slave, Abastenia St. Leger Eberle 137
Cold, Roger Bloche 200
The People Mourn, Jules Pierre van Biesbroeck 201
The Liberatress, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen 233
Outbreak, Käthe Kollwitz 232
The End, Käthe Kollwitz 297
The Surprise, Ilyá Efímovitch Repin 296
Ecce Homo, Constantin Meunier 368
Despised and Rejected of Men, Sigismund Goetze 369
To Sustain the Body of the Church, if You Please,” Denis Auguste Marie Raffet 392
Christ, John Mowbray-Clarke 393
The Despotic Age, Isidore Konti 456
Courage, Your Majesty, Only One Step More! 457
Marriage à la Mode, William Hogarth 489
Mammon, George Frederick Watts 488
War, Arnold Böcklin 584
London, Paul Gustave Doré 585
A Citizen Lost, Ryan Walker 649
Oliver Twist Asks for More,” George Cruikshank 648
The Coal Famine, Thomas Theodor Heine 680
My Solicitor Shall Hear of This, Will Dyson 681
The Militant, Charles A. Winter 744
The Death of Chatterton, Henry Wallis 745
Once Ye Have Seen My Face Ye Dare Not Mock 808
[16]Justice, Walter Crane 809


Editor’s Preface

When the idea of this collection was first thought of, it was a matter of surprise that the task should have been so long unattempted. There exist small collections of Socialist songs for singing, but apparently this is the first effort that has been made to cover the whole field of the literature of social protest, both in prose and poetry, and from all languages and times.

The reader’s first inquiry will be as to the qualifications of the editor. Let me say that I gave nine years of my life to a study of literature under academic guidance, and then, emerging from a great endowed university, discovered the modern movement of proletarian revolt, and have given fifteen years to the study and interpretation of that. The present volume is thus a blending of two points of view. I have reread the favorites of my youth, choosing from them what now seemed most vital; and I have sought to test the writers of my own time by the touchstone of the old standards.

The size of the task I did not realize until I had gone too far to retreat. It meant not merely the rereading of the classics and the standard anthologies; it meant going through a small library of volumes by living writers, the files of many magazines, and a dozen or more scrap-books and collections of fugitive verse. At the end of this labor I found myself with a pile of typewritten manuscript a foot high; and the task of elimination was the most difficult of all.

To a certain extent, of course, the selection was self-determined. No anthology of social protest could omit[18] “The Song of the Shirt,” and “The Cry of the Children,” and “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”; neither could it omit the “Marseillaise” and the “Internationale.” Equally inevitable were selections from Shelley and Swinburne, Ruskin, Carlyle and Morris, Whitman, Tolstoy and Zola. The same was true of Wells and Shaw and Kropotkin, Hauptmann and Maeterlinck, Romain Rolland and Anatole France. When it came to the newer writers, I sought first their own judgment as to their best work; and later I submitted the manuscript to several friends, the best qualified men and women I knew. Thus the final version was the product of a number of minds; and the collection may be said to represent, not its editor, but a whole movement, made and sustained by the master-spirits of all ages.

For this reason I may without suspicion of egotism say what I think about the volume. It was significant to me that several persons reading the manuscript and writing quite independently, referred to it as “a new Bible.” I believe that it is, quite literally and simply, what the old Bible was—a selection by the living minds of a living time of the best and truest writings known to them. It is a Bible of the future, a Gospel of the new hope of the race. It is a book for the apostles of a new dispensation to carry about with them; a book to cheer the discouraged and console the wounded in humanity’s last war of liberation.

The standards of the book are those of literature. If there has been any letting down, it has been in the case of old writings, which have an interest apart from that of style. It brings us a thrill of wonder to find, in an ancient Egyptian parchment, a father setting forth to his son how easy is the life of the lawyer, and what a[19] dog’s life is that of the farmer. It amuses us to read a play, produced in Athens two thousand, two hundred and twenty-three years ago, in which is elaborately propounded the question which thousands of Socialist “soap-boxers” are answering every night: “Who will do the dirty work?” It makes us shudder, perhaps, to find a Spaniard of the thirteenth century analyzing the evil devices of tyrants, and expounding in detail the labor-policy of some present-day great corporations in America.

Let me add that I have not considered it my function to act as censor to the process of social evolution. Every aspect of the revolutionary movement has found a voice in this book. Two questions have been asked of each writer: Have you had something vital to say? and Have you said it with some special effectiveness? The reader will find, for example, one or two of the hymns of the “Christian Socialists”; he will also find one of the parodies on Christian hymns which are sung by the Industrial Workers of the World in their “jungles” in the Far West. The Anarchists and the apostles of insurrection are also represented; and if some of the things seem to the reader the mere unchaining of furies, I would say, let him not blame the faithful anthologist, let him not blame even the writer—let him blame himself, who has acquiesced in the existence of conditions which have driven his fellow-men to the extremes of madness and despair.

In the preparation of this work I have placed myself under obligation to so many people that it would take much space to make complete acknowledgments. I must thank those friends who went through the bulky manuscript, and gave me the benefit of their detailed criticism: George Sterling, Max Eastman, Floyd Dell, Clement Wood, Louis Untermeyer, and my wife. I am[20] under obligation to a number of people, some of them strangers, who went to the trouble of sending me scrap-books which represented years and even decades of collecting: Elizabeth Balch, Elizabeth Magie Phillips, Frank B. Norman, Frank Stuhlman, J. M. Maddox, Edward J. O’Brien, and Clement Wood. Among those who helped me with valuable suggestions were: Edwin Björkman, Reginald Wright Kauffman, Thomas Seltzer, Jack London, Rose Pastor Stokes, May Beals, Elizabeth Freeman, Arthur W. Calhoun, Frank Shay, Alexander Berkman, Joseph F. Gould, Louis Untermeyer, Harold Monro, Morris Hillquit, Peter Kropotkin, Dr. James P. Warbasse, and the Baroness von Blomberg. The fullness of the section devoted to ancient writings is in part due to the advice of a number of scholars: Dr. Paul Carus, Professor Crawford H. Toy, Professor William Cranston Lawton, Professor Charles Burton Gulick, Professor Thomas D. Goodell, Professor Walton Brooks McDaniels, Rev. John Haynes Holmes, Professor George F. Moore, Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch, and Professor Charles R. Lanman.

With regard to the illustrations in the volume, I endeavored to repeat in the field of art what had been done in the field of literature: to obtain the best material, both old and new, and select the most interesting and vital. I have to record my indebtedness to a number of friends who made suggestions in this field—Ryan Walker, Art Young, John Mowbray-Clarke, Martin Birnbaum, Odon Por, and Walter Crane. Also I must thank Mr. Frank Weitenkampf and Dr. Herman Rosenthal of the New York Public Library, and Dr. Clifford of the Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To the artists whose copyrighted work I have used I owe my thanks for their permission: as likewise to the many[21] writers whose copyrighted books I have quoted. Elsewhere in the volume I have made acknowledgments to publishers for the rights they have kindly granted. Let me here add this general caution: The copyrighted passages used have been used by permission, and any one who desires to reprint them must obtain similar permission.

One or two hundred contemporary authors responded to my invitation and sent me specimens of their writings. Of these authors, probably three-fourths will not find their work included—for which seeming discourtesy I can only offer the sincere plea of the limitations of space which were imposed upon me. I am not being diplomatic, but am stating a fact when I say that I had to leave out much that I thought was of excellent quality.

What was chosen will now speak for itself. Let my last word be of the hope, which has been with me constantly, that the book may be to others what it has been to me. I have spent with it the happiest year of my lifetime: the happiest, because occupied with beauty of the greatest and truest sort. If the material in this volume means to you, the reader, what it has meant to me, you will live with it, love it, sometimes weep with it, many times pray with it, yearn and hunger with it, and, above all, resolve with it. You will carry it with you about your daily tasks, you will be utterly possessed by it; and again and again you will be led to dedicate yourself to the greatest hope, the most wondrous vision which has ever thrilled the soul of humanity. In this spirit and to this end the book is offered to you. If you will read it through consecutively, skipping nothing, you will find that it has a form. You will be led from one passage to the next, and when you reach the end you will be a wiser, a humbler, and a more tender-hearted person.


A Consecration

By John Masefield

Not of the princes and prelates with periwigged charioteers
Riding triumphantly laurelled to lap the fat of the years,
Rather the scorned—the rejected—the men hemmed in with the spears;
The men of the tattered battalion which fights till it dies,
Dazed with the dust of the battle, the din and the cries,
The men with the broken heads and the blood running into their eyes.
Not the be-medalled Commander, beloved of the throne,
Riding cock-horse to parade when the bugles are blown,
But the lads who carried the koppie and cannot be known.
Not the ruler for me, but the ranker, the tramp of the road,
The slave with the sack on his shoulders pricked on with the goad,
The man with too weighty a burden, too weary a load.
The sailor, the stoker of steamers, the man with the clout,
The chantyman bent at the halliards putting a tune to the shout,
The drowsy man at the wheel and the tired lookout.
Others may sing of the wine and the wealth and the mirth,
The portly presence of potentates goodly in girth;—
Mine be the dirt and the dross, the dust and scum of the earth!
Theirs be the music, the color, the glory, the gold;
Mine be a handful of ashes, a mouthful of mould.
Of the maimed, of the halt and the blind in the rain and the cold—
Of these shall my songs be fashioned, my tale be told.




The dignity and tragedy of labor; pictures of the actual conditions under which men and women work in mills and factories, fields and mines.



The Man With the Hoe[A]

By Edwin Markham

(This poem, which was written after seeing Millet’s world-famous painting, was published in 1899 by a California school-principal, and made a profound impression. It has been hailed as “the battle-cry of the next thousand years”)

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this—
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed—
More filled with signs and portents for the soul—
More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings—
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God,
After the silence of the centuries?


Country Life

(From “The Village”)

By George Crabbe

(One of the earliest of English realistic poets, 1754-1832; called “The Poet of the Poor”)

Or will you deem them amply paid in health,
Labor’s fair child, that languishes with wealth?
Go then! and see them rising with the sun,
Through a long course of daily toil to run;
See them beneath the dog-star’s raging heat,
When the knees tremble and the temples beat;
Behold them, leaning on their scythes, look o’er
The labor past, and toils to come explore;
See them alternate suns and showers engage,
And hoard up aches and anguish for their age;
Through fens and marshy moors their steps pursue,
Where their warm pores imbibe the evening dew;
Then own that labor may as fatal be
To these thy slaves, as thine excess to thee.

An Aged Laborer

By Richard Jefferies

(English essayist and nature student, 1848-1887)

For weeks and weeks the stark black oaks stood straight out of the snow as masts of ships with furled sails frozen and ice-bound in the haven of the deep valley. Never was such a long winter.


One morning a laboring man came to the door with a spade, and asked if he could dig the garden, or try to, at the risk of breaking the tool in the ground. He was starving; he had had no work for six months, he said, since the first frost started the winter. Nature and the earth and the gods did not trouble about him, you see. Another aged man came once a week regularly; white as the snow through which he walked. In summer he worked; since the winter began he had had no employment, but supported himself by going round to the farms in rotation. He had no home of any kind. Why did he not go into the workhouse? “I be afeared if I goes in there they’ll put me with the rough ‘uns, and very likely I should get some of my clothes stole.” Rather than go into the workhouse, he would totter round in the face of the blasts that might cover his weak old limbs with drift. There was a sense of dignity and manhood left still; his clothes were worn, but clean and decent; he was no companion of rogues; the snow and frost, the straw of the outhouses, was better than that. He was struggling against age, against nature, against circumstances; the entire weight of society, law and order pressed upon him to force him to lose his self-respect and liberty. He would rather risk his life in the snow-drift. Nature, earth and the gods did not help him; sun and stars, where were they? He knocked at the doors of the farms and found good in man only—not in Law or Order, but in individual man alone.


Farm Laborers

By James Matthew Barrie

(English poet, playwright and novelist, born 1860)

Grand, patient, long-suffering fellows these men were, up at five, summer and winter, foddering their horses, maybe, hours before there would be food for themselves, miserably paid, housed like cattle, and when rheumatism seized them, liable to be flung aside like a broken graip. As hard was the life of the women: coarse food, chaff beds, damp clothes their portion, their sweethearts in the service of masters who were loath to fee a married man. Is it to be wondered that these lads who could be faithful unto death drank soddenly on their one free day; that these girls, starved of opportunities for womanliness, of which they could make as much as the finest lady, sometimes woke after a holiday to wish that they might wake no more?


(From “Sartor Resartus”)

By Thomas Carlyle

(One of the most famous of British essayists, 1795-1881; historian of the French Revolution, and master of a vivid and picturesque prose-style)

It is not because of his toils that I lament for the poor: we must all toil, or steal (howsoever we name our stealing), which is worse; no faithful workman finds his task a pastime. The poor is hungry and athirst; but for[32] him also there is food and drink: he is heavy-laden and weary; but for him also the Heavens send sleep, and of the deepest; in his smoky cribs, a clear dewy haven of rest envelops him, and fitful glitterings of cloud-skirted dreams. But what I do mourn over is, that the lamp of his soul should go out; that no ray of heavenly, or even of earthly, knowledge should visit him; but only, in the haggard darkness, like two spectres, Fear and Indignation bear him company. Alas, while the body stands so broad and brawny, must the soul lie blinded, dwarfed, stupefied, almost annihilated!, Alas, was this too a Breath of God; bestowed in heaven, but on earth never to be unfolded!—That there should one Man die ignorant who had capacity for Knowledge, this I call a tragedy, were it to happen more than twenty times in the minute, as by some computations it does. The miserable fraction of Science which our united Mankind, in a wide universe of Nescience, has acquired, why is not this, with all diligence, imparted to all?




(Contemporary German illustrator)




(French painter of peasant life, 1814-75)

Played Out

(From “Songs of the Dead End”)

By Patrick MacGill

(A young Irishman, called the “Navvy poet”; born 1890. From the age of twelve to twenty a farm laborer, ditch-digger and quarry-man. As this work goes to press, he is fighting with his regiment in Flanders)

As a bullock falls in the crooked ruts, he fell when the day was o’er,
The hunger gripping his stinted guts, his body shaken and sore.
They pulled it out of the ditch in the dark, as a brute is pulled from its lair,
The corpse of the navvy, stiff and stark, with the clay on its face and hair.
In Christian lands, with calloused hands, he labored for others’ good,
In workshop and mill, ditchway and drill, earnest, eager, and rude;
Unhappy and gaunt with worry and want, a food to the whims of fate,
Hashing it out and booted about at the will of the goodly and great.
To him was applied the scorpion lash, for him the gibe and the goad—
The roughcast fool of our moral wash, the rugous wretch of the road.
Willing to crawl for a pittance small to the swine of the tinsel sty,
Beggared and burst from the very first, he chooses the ditch to die—
... Go, pick the dead from the sloughy bed, and hide him from mortal eye.
He tramped through the colorless winter land, or swined in the scorching heat,
The dry skin hacked on his sapless hands or blistering on his feet;
He wallowed in mire unseen, unknown, where your houses of pleasure rise,
And hapless, hungry, and chilled to the bone, he builded the edifice.
In cheerless model[B] and filthy pub, his sinful hours were passed,
Or footsore, weary, he begged his grub, in the sough of the hail-whipped blast,
So some might riot in wealth and ease, with food and wine be crammed,
He wrought like a mule, in muck to his knees, dirty, dissolute, damned.
Arrogant, adipose, you sit in the homes he builded high;
Dirty the ditch, in the depths of it he chooses a spot to die,
Foaming with nicotine-tainted lips, holding his aching breast,
Dropping down like a cow that slips, smitten with rinderpest;
Drivelling yet of the work and wet, swearing as sinners swear,
Raving the rule of the gambling school, mixing it up with a prayer.
He lived like a brute as the navvies live, and went as the cattle go,
No one to sorrow and no one to shrive, for heaven ordained it so—
He handed his check to the shadow in black, and went to the misty lands,
Never a mortal to close his eyes or a woman to cross his hands.
As a bullock falls in the rugged ruts
He fell when the day was o’er,
Hunger gripping his weasened guts,
But never to hunger more
They pulled it out of the ditch in the dark,
The chilling frost on its hair,
The mole-skinned navvy stiff and stark
From no particular where.

Rounding the Horn[C]

(From “Dauber”)

By John Masefield

(An English poet who has had a varied career as sailor, laborer and even bartender upon the Bowery, New York. Born 1873, his narrative poems of humble life made him famous almost over night)

Then came the cry of “Call all hands on deck!”
The Dauber knew its meaning; it was come:
Cape Horn, that tramples beauty into wreck,
And crumples steel and smites the strong man dumb.
Down clattered flying kites and staysails: some
Sang out in quick, high calls: the fair-leads skirled,
And from the south-west came the end of the world....
“Lay out!” the Bosun yelled. The Dauber laid
Out on the yard, gripping the yard, and feeling
Sick at the mighty space of air displayed
Below his feet, where mewing birds were wheeling.
A giddy fear was on him; he was reeling.
He bit his lip half through, clutching the jack.
A cold sweat glued the shirt upon his back.
The yard was shaking, for a brace was loose.
He felt that he would fall; he clutched, he bent,
Clammy with natural terror to the shoes
While idiotic promptings came and went.
Snow fluttered on a wind-flaw and was spent;
He saw the water darken. Someone yelled,
“Frap it; don’t stay to furl! Hold on!” He held.
Darkness came down—half darkness—in a whirl;
The sky went out, the waters disappeared.
He felt a shocking pressure of blowing hurl
The ship upon her side. The darkness speared
At her with wind; she staggered, she careered,
Then down she lay. The Dauber felt her go;
He saw her yard tilt downwards. Then the snow
Whirled all about—dense, multitudinous, cold—
Mixed with the wind’s one devilish thrust and shriek,
Which whiffled out men’s tears, defeated, took hold,
Flattening the flying drift against the cheek.
The yards buckled and bent, man could not speak.
The ship lay on her broadside; the wind’s sound
Had devilish malice at having got her downed....
How long the gale had blown he could not tell,
Only the world had changed, his life had died.
A moment now was everlasting hell.
Nature an onslaught from the weather side,
A withering rush of death, a frost that cried,
Shrieked, till he withered at the heart; a hail
Plastered his oilskins with an icy mail....
“Up!” yelled the Bosun; “up and clear the wreck!”
The Dauber followed where he led; below
He caught one giddy glimpsing of the deck
Filled with white water, as though heaped with snow.
He saw the streamers of the rigging blow
Straight out like pennons from the splintered mast,
Then, all sense dimmed, all was an icy blast
Roaring from nether hell and filled with ice,
Roaring and crashing on the jerking stage,
An utter bridle given to utter vice,
Limitless power mad with endless rage
Withering the soul; a minute seemed an age.
He clutched and hacked at ropes, at rags of sail,
Thinking that comfort was a fairy-tale
Told long ago—long, long ago—long since
Heard of in other lives—imagined, dreamed—
There where the basest beggar was a prince.
To him in torment where the tempest screamed,
Comfort and warmth and ease no longer seemed
Things that a man could know; soul, body, brain,
Knew nothing but the wind, the cold, the pain.

Insouciance in Storm

(From “The Cry of Youth”)

By Harry Kemp

(A young American poet who has wandered over the world as sailor, harvest hand and tramp; born 1883)

Deep in an ore-boat’s hold
Where great-bulked boilers loom
And yawning mouths of fire
Irradiate the gloom,
I saw half-naked men
Made thralls to flame and steam,
Whose bodies, dripping sweat,
Shone with an oily gleam.
There, all the sullen night,
While waves boomed overhead
And smote the lurching ship,
The ravenous fires they fed;
They did not think it brave:
They even dared to joke!
I saw them light their pipes
And puff calm rings of smoke!
I saw a Passer sprawl
Over his load of coal—
At which a Fireman laughed
Until it shook his soul:
All this in a hollow shell
Whose half-submerged form
On Lake Superior tossed
‘Mid rushing hills of storm!

From the Sailors’ Catechism

Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able,
The seventh, holystone the deck and scrub the cable.



(From “The Harbor”)

By Ernest Poole

(American playwright and novelist, born 1880)

We crawled down a short ladder and through low passageways, dripping wet, and so came into the stokehole.

This was a long narrow chamber with a row of glowing furnace doors. Wet coal and coal-dust lay on the floor. At either end a small steel door opened into bunkers that ran along the sides of the ship, deep down near the bottom, containing thousands of tons of soft coal. In the stokehole the fires were not yet up, but by the time the ship was at sea the furnace mouths would be white hot and the men at work half naked. They not only shovelled coal into the flames, they had to spread it as well, and at intervals rake out the “clinkers” in fiery masses on the floor. On these a stream of water played, filling the chamber with clouds of steam. In older ships, like this one, a “lead stoker” stood at the head of the line and set the pace for the others to follow. He was paid more to keep up the pace. But on the big new liners this pacer was replaced by a gong.

“And at each stroke of the gong you shovel,” said Joe. “You do this till you forget your name. Every time the boat pitches the floor heaves you forward, the fire spurts at you out of the doors, and the gong keeps on like a sledge-hammer coming down on top of your mind. And all you think of is your bunk and the time when you’re to tumble in.”


From the stokers’ quarters presently there came a burst of singing.

“Now let’s go back,” he ended, “and see how they’re getting ready for this.”

As we crawled back, the noise increased, and swelled to a roar as we entered. The place was pandemonium. Those groups I had noticed around the bags had been getting out the liquor, and now at eight o’clock in the morning half the crew were already well soused. Some moved restlessly about. One huge bull of a creature with limpid shining eyes stopped suddenly with a puzzled stare, and then leaned back on a bunk and laughed uproariously. From there he lurched over the shoulder of a thin, wiry, sober man who, sitting on the edge of a bunk, was slowly spelling out the words of a newspaper aeroplane story. The big man laughed again and spit, and the thin man jumped half up and snarled.

Louder rose the singing. Half the crew was crowded close around a little red-faced cockney. He was the modern “chanty man.” With sweat pouring down his cheeks and the muscles of his neck drawn taut, he was jerking out verse after verse about women. He sang to an old “chanty” tune, one that I remembered well. But he was not singing out under the stars, he was screaming at steel walls down here in the bottom of the ship. And although he kept speeding up his song, the crowd were too drunk to wait for the chorus; their voices kept tumbling in over his, and soon it was only a frenzy of sound, a roar with yells rising out of it. The singers kept pounding each other’s backs or waving bottles over their heads. Two bottles smashed together and brought a still higher burst of glee.

“I’m tired!” Joe shouted. “Let’s get out!”


I caught a glimpse of his strained frowning face. Again it came over me in a flash, the years he had spent in holes like this, in this hideous rotten world of his, while I had lived joyously in mine. And as though he had read the thought in my disturbed and troubled eyes, “Let’s go up where you belong,” he said.

I followed him up and away from his friends. As we climbed ladder after ladder, fainter and fainter on our ears rose that yelling from below. Suddenly we came out on deck and slammed an iron door behind us. And I was where I belonged.

I was in dazzling sunshine and keen, frosty autumn air. I was among gay throngs of people. Dainty women brushed me by. I felt the softness of their furs, I breathed the fragrant scent of them and of the flowers that they wore, I saw their trim, fresh, immaculate clothes. I heard the joyous tumult of their talking and their laughing to the regular crash of the band—all the life of the ship I had known so well.

And I walked through it all as though in a dream. On the dock I watched it spell-bound—until with handkerchiefs waving and voices calling down good-byes, that throng of happy travellers moved slowly out into midstream.

And I knew that deep below all this, down in the bottom of the ship, the stokers were still singing.


Caliban in the Coal Mines

(From “Challenge”)

By Louis Untermeyer

(American poet, born 1885)

God, we don’t like to complain—
We know that the mine is no lark—
But—there’s the pools from the rain;
But—there’s the cold and the dark.
God, You don’t know what it is—
You, in Your well-lighted sky,
Watching the meteors whizz;
Warm, with the sun always by.
God, if You had but the moon
Stuck in Your cap for a lamp,
Even You’d tire of it soon,
Down in the dark and the damp.
Nothing but blackness above,
And nothing that moves but the cars—
God, if You wish for our love,
Fling us a handful of stars!


The Fertilizer Man

(From “The Jungle”)

By Upton Sinclair

(A novel portraying the lives of the workers in the Chicago stockyards; published in 1906)

His labor took him about one minute to learn. Before him was one of the vents of the mill in which the fertilizer was being ground—rushing forth in a great brown river, with a spray of the finest dust floating forth in clouds. Jurgis was given a shovel, and along with half a dozen others it was his task to shovel this fertilizer into carts. That others were at work he knew by the sound, and by the fact that he sometimes collided with them; otherwise they might as well not have been there, for in the blinding dust-storm a man could not see six feet in front of his face. When he had filled one cart he had to grope around him until another came, and if there was none on hand he continued to grope till one arrived. In five minutes he was, of course, a mass of fertilizer from head to feet; they gave him a sponge to tie over his mouth, so that he could breathe, but the sponge did not prevent his lips and eyelids from caking up with it and his ears from filling solid. He looked like a brown ghost at twilight—from hair to shoes he became the color of the building and of everything in it, and for that matter a hundred yards outside it. The building had to be left open, and when the wind blew Durham and Company lost a great deal of fertilizer.

Working in his shirt-sleeves, and with the thermometer at over a hundred, the phosphates soaked in through every pore of Jurgis’ skin, and in five minutes he had a[44] headache, and in fifteen was almost dazed. The blood was pounding in his brain like an engine’s throbbing; there was a frightful pain in the top of his skull, and he could hardly control his hands. Still, with the memory of his four jobless months behind him, he fought on, in a frenzy of determination; and half an hour later he began to vomit—he vomited until it seemed as if his inwards must be torn into shreds. A man could get used to the fertilizer-mill, the boss had said, if he would only make up his mind to it; but Jurgis now began to see that it was a question of making up his stomach.

At the end of that day of horror, he could scarcely stand. He had to catch himself now and then, and lean against a building and get his bearings. Most of the men, when they came out, made straight for a saloon—they seemed to place fertilizer and rattlesnake poison in one class. But Jurgis was too ill to think of drinking—he could only make his way to the street and stagger on to a car. He had a sense of humor, and later on, when he became an old hand, he used to think it fun to board a street-car and see what happened. Now, however, he was too ill to notice it—how the people in the car began to gasp and sputter, to put their handkerchiefs to their noses, and transfix him with furious glances. Jurgis only knew that a man in front of him immediately got up and gave him a seat; and that half a minute later the two people on each side of him got up; and that in a full minute the crowded car was nearly empty—those passengers who could not get room on the platform having gotten out to walk.

Of course Jurgis had made his home a miniature fertilizer-mill a minute after entering. The stuff was half an inch deep in his skin—his whole system was full of it,[45] and it would have taken a week not merely of scrubbing, but of vigorous exercise, to get it out of him. As it was, he could be compared with nothing known to man, save that newest discovery of the savants, a substance which emits energy for an unlimited time, without being itself in the least diminished in power. He smelt so that he made all the food at the table taste, and set the whole family to vomiting; for himself it was three days before he could keep anything upon his stomach—he might wash his hands, and use a knife and fork, but were not his mouth and throat filled with the poison?

And still Jurgis stuck it out! In spite of splitting headaches he would stagger down to the plant and take up his stand once more, and begin to shovel in the blinding clouds of dust. And so at the end of the week he was a fertilizer-man for life—he was able to eat again, and though his head never stopped aching, it ceased to be so bad that he could not work.


By James Oppenheim

(American poet and novelist; born 1882)

Over his face his gray hair drifting hides his Labor-glory in smoke,
Strange through his breath the soot is sifting, his feet are buried in coal and coke.
By night hands twisted and lurid in fires, by day hands blackened with grime and oil,
He toils at the foundries and never tires, and ever and ever his lot is toil.
He speeds his soul till his body wrestles with terrible tonnage and terrible time,
Out through the yards and over the trestles the flat-cars clank and the engines chime,
His mills through windows seem eaten with fire, his high cranes travel, his ingots roll,
And billet and wheel and whistle and wire shriek with the speeding up of his soul.
Lanterns with reds and greens a-glisten wave the way and the head-light glares,
The back-bent laborers glance and listen and out through the night the tail-light flares—
Deep in the mills like a tipping cradle the huge converter turns on its wheel
And sizzling spills in the ten-ton ladle a golden water of molten steel.
Yet screwed with toil his low face searches shadow-edged fires and whited pits,
Gripping his levers his body lurches, grappling his irons he prods and hits,
And deaf with the roll and clangor and rattle with its sharp escaping staccato of steam,
And blind with flame and worn with battle, into his tonnage he turns his dream.
The world he has builded rises around us, our wonder-cities and weaving rails,
Over his wires a marvel has found us, a glory rides in our wheeled mails,
For the Earth grows small with strong Steel woven, and they come together who plotted apart—
But he who has wrought this thing in his oven knows only toil and the tired heart.


The Navvy[E]

(From “Children of the Dead End”)

By Patrick MacGill

(See page 32)

At that time there were thousands of navvies working at Kinlochleven waterworks. We spoke of waterworks, but only the contractors knew what the work was intended for. We did not know, and we did not care. We never asked questions concerning the ultimate issue of our labors, and we were not supposed to ask questions. If a man throws red muck over a wall today and throws it back again tomorrow, what the devil is it to him if he keeps throwing that same muck over the wall for the rest of his life, knowing not why nor wherefore, provided he gets paid sixpence an hour for his labor? There were so many tons of earth to be lifted and thrown somewhere else; we lifted them and threw them somewhere else; so many cubic yards of iron-hard rocks to be blasted and carried away; we blasted and carried them away, but never asked questions and never knew what results we were laboring to bring about. We turned the Highlands into a cinder-heap, and were as wise at the beginning as at the end of the task. Only when we completed the job, and returned to the town, did we learn from the newspapers that we had been employed on the construction of the biggest aluminium factory in the kingdom. All that we knew was that we had gutted whole mountains and hills in the operations....

Above and over all, the mystery of the night and the[48] desert places hovered inscrutable and implacable. All around the ancient mountains sat like brooding witches, dreaming on their own story of which they knew neither the beginning nor the end. Naked to the four winds of heaven and all the rains of the world, they had stood there for countless ages in all their sinister strength, undefied and unconquered, until man, with puny hands and little tools of labor, came to break the spirit of their ancient mightiness.

And we, the men who braved this task, were outcasts of the world. A blind fate, a vast merciless mechanism, cut and shaped the fabric of our existence. We were men despised when we were most useful, rejected when we were not needed, and forgotten when our troubles weighed upon us heavily. We were the men sent out to fight the spirit of the wastes, rob it of all its primeval horrors, and batter down the barriers of its world-old defences. Where we were working a new town would spring up some day; it was already springing up, and then, if one of us walked there, “a man with no fixed address,” he would be taken up and tried as a loiterer and vagrant.

Even as I thought of these things a shoulder of jagged rock fell into a cutting far below. There was the sound of a scream in the distance, and a song died away in the throat of some rude singer. Then out of the pit I saw men, red with the muck of the deep earth and redder still with the blood of a stricken mate, come forth, bearing between them a silent figure. Another of the pioneers of civilization had given up his life for the sake of society....

The plaintive sunset waned into a sickly haze one evening, and when the night slipped upwards to the mountain peaks never a star came out into the vastness[49] of the high heavens. Next morning we had to thaw the door of our shack out of the muck into which it was frozen during the night. Outside the snow had fallen heavily on the ground, and the virgin granaries of winter had been emptied on the face of the world.

Unkempt, ragged, and dispirited, we slunk to our toil, the snow falling on our shoulders and forcing its way insistently through our worn and battered bluchers. The cuttings were full of slush to the brim, and we had to grope through them with our hands until we found the jumpers and hammers at the bottom. These we held under our coats until the heat of our bodies warmed them, then we went on with our toil.

At intervals during the day the winds of the mountain put their heads together and swept a whirlstorm of snow down upon us, wetting each man to the pelt. Our tools froze until the hands that gripped them were scarred as if by red-hot spits. We shook uncertain over our toil, our sodden clothes scalding and itching the skin with every movement of the swinging hammers. Near at hand the lean derrick jibs whirled on their pivots like spectres of some ghoulish carnival, and the muck-barrows crunched backwards and forwards, all their dirt and rust hidden in woolly mantles of snow. Hither and thither the little black figures of the workers moved across the waste of whiteness like shadows on a lime-washed wall. Their breath steamed out on the air and disappeared in space like the evanescent and fragile vapor of frying mushrooms....

When night came on we crouched around the hot-plate and told stories of bygone winters, when men dropped frozen stiff in the trenches where they labored. A few tried to gamble near the door, but the wind that[50] cut through the chinks of the walls chased them to the fire.

Outside the winds of the night scampered madly, whistling through every crevice of the shack and threatening to smash all its timbers to pieces. We bent closer over the hot-plate, and the many who could not draw near to the heat scrambled into bed and sought warmth under the meagre blankets. Suddenly the lamp went out, and a darkness crept into the corners of the dwelling, causing the figures of my mates to assume fantastic shapes in the gloom. The circle around the hot-plate drew closer, and long lean arms were stretched out towards the flames and the redness. Seldom may a man have the chance to look on hands like those of my mates. Fingers were missing from many, scraggy scars seaming along the wrists or across the palms of others told of accidents which had taken place on many precarious shifts. The faces near me were those of ghouls worn out in some unholy midnight revel. Sunken eyes glared balefully in the dim unearthly light of the fire, and as I looked at them a moment’s terror settled on my soul. For a second I lived in an early age, and my mates were the cave-dwellers of an older world than mine. In the darkness, near the door, a pipe glowed brightly for a moment, then the light went suddenly out and the gloom settled again.


The Song of the Wage Slave

(From “The Spell of the Yukon”)

By Robert W. Service

(Canadian poet, born 1876. His poems of Alaska and the great Northwest have attained wide popularity)

When the long, long day is over, and the Big Boss gives me my pay,
I hope that it won’t be hell-fire, as some of the parsons say.
And I hope that it won’t be heaven, with some of the parsons I’ve met—
All I want is just quiet, just to rest and forget.
Look at my face, toil-furrowed; look at my calloused hands;
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, wrought in Thy many lands—
Wrought for the little masters, big-bellied they be, and rich;
I’ve done their desire for a daily hire, and I die like a dog in a ditch....
I, the primitive toiler, half naked and grimed to the eyes,
Sweating it deep in their ditches, swining it stark in their styes;
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous streams;
Down in the ditch building o’er me palaces fairer than dreams;
Boring the rock to the ore-bed, driving the road through the fen,
Resolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of men.
Master, I’ve filled my contract, wrought in Thy many lands;
Not by my sins wilt Thou judge me, but by the work of my hands.
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, and the light is low in the west,
And the long, long shift is over.... Master, I’ve earned it—Rest.


By Charles Hanson Towne

(American poet, born 1877)

Here in the furnace City, in the humid air they faint,
God’s pallid poor, His people, with scarcely space for breath;
So foul their teeming houses, so full of shame and taint,
They cannot crowd within them for the frightful fear of Death.
Yet somewhere, Lord, Thine open seas are singing with the rain,
And somewhere underneath Thy stars the cool waves crash and beat;
Why is it here, and only here, are huddled Death and Pain,
And here the form of Horror stalks, a menace in the street!
The burning flagstones gleam like glass at morning and at noon,
The giant walls shut out the breeze—if any breeze should blow;
And high above the smothering town at midnight hangs the moon,
A red medallion in the sky, a monster cameo.
Yet somewhere, God, drenched roses bloom by fountains draped with mist
In old, lost gardens of the earth made lyrical with rain;
Why is it here a million brows by hungry Death are kissed,
And here is packed, one Summer night, a whole world’s fiery pain!

A Department-Store Clerk

(From “The House of Bondage”)

By Reginald Wright Kauffman

(American novelist, born 1877)

Katie Flanagan arrived at the Lennox department store every morning at a quarter to eight o’clock. She passed through the employees’ dark entrance, a unit in a horde of other workers, and registered the instant of her arrival on a time-machine that could in no wise be suborned to perjury. She hung up her wraps in a subterranean cloak-room, and, hurrying to the counter to which she was assigned, first helped in “laying out the stock,” and then stood behind her wares, exhibiting, cajoling, selling, until an hour before noon. At that time she was permitted to run away for exactly forty-five minutes for the glass of milk and two pieces of bread and jam that composed her luncheon. This repast disposed of, she returned to the counter and remained behind it, standing like a war-worn watcher on the ramparts of a beleaguered city, till the store closed at six, when there remained to her at least fifteen minutes more of work before her sales-book was balanced and the wares covered up for the night. There were[54] times, indeed, when she did not leave the store until seven o’clock, but those times were caused rather by customers than by the management of the store, which could prevent new shoppers from entering the doors after six, but could hardly turn out those already inside.

The automatic time-machine and a score of more annoying, and equally automatic, human beings kept watch upon all that she did. The former, in addition to the floor-walker in her section of the store, recorded her every going and coming, the latter reported every movement not prescribed by the regulations of the establishment; and the result upon Katie and her fellow-workers was much the result observable upon condemned assassins under the unwinking surveillance of the Death Watch.

If Katie was late, she was fined ten cents for each offense. She was reprimanded if her portion of the counter was disordered after a mauling by careless customers. She was fined for all mistakes she made in the matter of prices and the additions on her salesbook; and she was fined if, having asked the floor-walker for three or five minutes to leave the floor in order to tidy her hair and hands, in constant need of attention through the rapidity of her work and the handling of her dyed wares, she exceeded her time limit by so much as a few seconds.

There were no seats behind the counters, and Katie, whatever her physical condition, remained on her feet all day long, unless she could arrange for relief by a fellow-worker during that worker’s luncheon time. There was no place for rest save a damp, ill-lighted “Recreation Room” in the basement, furnished with a piano that nobody had time to play, magazines that nobody had[55] time to read, and wicker chairs in which nobody had time to sit. All that one might do was to serve the whims and accept the scoldings of women customers who knew too ill, or too well, what they wanted to buy; keep a tight rein upon one’s indignation at strolling men who did not intend to buy anything that the shop advertised; be servilely smiling under the innuendoes of the high-collared floor-walkers, in order to escape their wrath; maintain a sharp outlook for the “spotters,” or paid spies of the establishment; thwart, if possible, those pretending customers who were scouts sent from other stores, and watch for shop-lifters on the one hand and the firm’s detectives on the other.

“It ain’t a cinch, by no means”—thus ran the departing Cora Costigan’s advice to her successor—“but it ain’t nothin’ now to what it will be in the holidays. I’d rather be dead than work in the toy-department in December—I wonder if the kids guess how we that sells ’em hates the sight of their playthings?—and I’d rather be dead an’ damned than work in the accounting department. A girl friend of mine worked there last year,—only it was over to Malcare’s store—an’ didn’t get through her Christmas Eve work till two on Christmas morning, an’ she lived over on Staten Island. She overslept on the twenty-sixth, an’ they docked her a half-week’s pay.

“An’ don’t never,” concluded Cora, “don’t never let ’em transfer you to the exchange department. The people that exchange things all belong in the psychopathic ward at Bellevue—them that don’t belong in Sing Sing. Half the goods they bring back have been used for days, an’ when the store ties a tag on a sent-on-approval opera cloak, the women wriggle the tag inside, an’ wear it to the theatre with a scarf draped over the string. Thank God, I’m goin’ to be married!”


A Cry from the Ghetto

(From the Yiddish of Morris Rosenfeld)

(The poet of the East Side Jews of New York City, born 1861. His poems appeared in Yiddish newspapers and leaflets, and are the genuine voice of the sweat-shop workers. The following translation is by Charles Weber Linn)

The roaring of the wheels has filled my ears,
The clashing and the clamor shut me in;
Myself, my soul, in chaos disappears,
I cannot think or feel amid the din.
Toiling and toiling and toiling—endless toil.
For whom? For what? Why should the work be done?
I do not ask, or know. I only toil.
I work until the day and night are one.
The clock above me ticks away the day,
Its hands are spinning, spinning, like the wheels.
It cannot sleep or for a moment stay,
It is a thing like me, and does not feel.
It throbs as tho’ my heart were beating there—
A heart? My heart? I know not what it means.
The clock ticks, and below I strive and stare.
And so we lose the hour. We are machines.
Noon calls a truce, an ending to the sound,
As if a battle had one moment stayed—
A bloody field! The dead lie all around;
Their wounds cry out until I grow afraid.
It comes—the signal! See, the dead men rise,
They fight again, amid the roar they fight.
Blindly, and knowing not for whom, or why,
They fight, they fall, they sink into the night.



(From “A Motley”)

By John Galsworthy

(English novelist and dramatist, born 1867)

She held in one hand a threaded needle, in the other a pair of trousers, to which she had been adding the accessories demanded by our civilization. One had never seen her without a pair of trousers in her hand, because she could only manage to supply them with decency at the rate of seven or eight pairs a day, working twelve hours. For each pair she received seven farthings, and used nearly one farthing’s worth of cotton; and this gave her an income, in good times, of six to seven shillings a week. But some weeks there were no trousers to be had and then it was necessary to live on the memory of those which had been, together with a little sum put by from weeks when trousers were more plentiful. Deducting two shillings and threepence for rent of the little back room, there was therefore, on an average, about two shillings and ninepence left for the sustenance of herself and husband, who was fortunately a cripple, and somewhat indifferent whether he ate or not. And looking at her face, so furrowed, and at her figure, of which there was not much, one could well understand that she, too, had long established within her such internal economy as was suitable to one who had been “in trousers” twenty-seven years, and, since her husband’s accident fifteen years before, in trousers only, finding her own cotton.... He was a man with a round, white face, a little grey mustache curving[58] down like a parrot’s beak, and round whitish eyes. In his aged and unbuttoned suit of grey, with his head held rather to one side, he looked like a parrot—a bird clinging to its perch, with one grey leg shortened and crumpled against the other. He talked, too, in a toneless, equable voice, looking sideways at the fire, above the rims of dim spectacles, and now and then smiling with a peculiar disenchanted patience.

No—he said—it was no use to complain; did no good! Things had been like this for years, and so, he had no doubt, they always would be. There had never been much in trousers; not this common sort that anybody’d wear, as you might say. Though he’d never seen anybody wearing such things; and where they went to he didn’t know—out of England, he should think. Yes, he had been a carman; ran over by a dray. Oh! yes, they had given him something—four bob a week; but the old man had died and the four bob had died too. Still, there he was, sixty years old—not so very bad for his age....

They were talking, he had heard said, about doing something for trousers. But what could you do for things like these, at half a crown a pair? People must have ’em, so you’d got to make ’em. There you were, and there you would be! She went and heard them talk. They talked very well, she said. It was intellectual for her to go. He couldn’t go himself owing to his leg. He’d like to hear them talk. Oh, yes! and he was silent, staring sideways at the fire as though in the thin crackle of the flames attacking the fresh piece of wood, he were hearing the echo of that talk from which he was cut off. “Lor’ bless you!” he said suddenly. “They’ll do nothing! Can’t!” And, stretching out his dirty hand he took from[59] his wife’s lap a pair of trousers, and held it up. “Look at ’em! Why you can see right throu’ ’em, linings and all. Who’s goin’ to pay more than ‘alf a crown for that? Where they go to I can’t think. Who wears ’em? Some institution I should say. They talk, but dear me, they’ll never do anything so long as there’s thousands like us, glad to work for what we can get. Best not to think about it, I says.”

And laying the trousers back on his wife’s lap he resumed his sidelong stare into the fire.

The Song of the Shirt

By Thomas Hood

(Popular English poet and humorist; 1799-1845)

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread,—
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt;
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the “Song of the Shirt!”
“Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work—work—work
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It’s O! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!
Till the brain begins to swim!
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,—
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!
“O Men, with sisters dear!
O Men, with mothers and wives!
It is not linen you’re wearing out,
But human creatures’ lives!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,—
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A shroud as well as a Shirt!
”But why do I talk of Death—
That phantom of grisly bone?
I hardly fear his terrible shape,
It seems so like my own—
It seems so like my own
Because of the fasts I keep;
O God! that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!
My labor never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread—and rags.
That shattered roof—and this naked floor—
A table—a broken chair—
And a wall so blank my shadow I thank
For something falling there!
From weary chime to chime!
As prisoners work for crime!
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick and the brain benumbed,
As well as the weary hand.
In the dull December light!
And work—work—work
When the weather is warm and bright!
While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling,
As if to show me their sunny backs
And twit me with the Spring.
”O! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet—
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet!
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want,
And the walk that costs a meal!
“O! but for one short hour—
A respite however brief!
No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for Grief!
A little weeping would ease my heart;
But in their briny bed
My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread!”
With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread—
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt;
And still, with a voice of dolorous pitch,
Would that its tone could reach the rich!—
She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

A London Sweating Den[G]

(From “The People of the Abyss”)

By Jack London

(California novelist and Socialist; born 1876. The story of his life will be found on p. 732. For the work here quoted London lived among the people whose misery he describes)

A spawn of children cluttered the slimy pavement, for all the world like tadpoles just turned frogs on the bottom of a dry pond. In a narrow doorway, so narrow that perforce we stepped over her, sat a woman with a young babe, nursing at breasts grossly naked and libelling all the sacredness of motherhood. In the black and narrow hall behind her we waded through a mess of young life, and essayed an even narrower and fouler stairway. Up we went, three flights, each landing two feet by three in area, and heaped with filth and refuse.

There were seven rooms in this abomination called a house. In six of the rooms, twenty-odd people, of both sexes and all ages, cooked, ate, slept, and worked. In[63] size the rooms averaged eight feet by eight, or possibly nine. The seventh room we entered. It was the den in which five men sweated. It was seven feet wide by eight long, and the table at which the work was performed took up the major portion of the space. On this table were five lasts, and there was barely room for the men to stand to their work, for the rest of the space was heaped with cardboard, leather, bundles of shoe uppers, and a miscellaneous assortment of materials used in attaching the uppers of shoes to their soles.

In the adjoining room lived a woman and six children. In another vile hole lived a widow, with an only son of sixteen who was dying of consumption. The woman hawked sweetmeats on the street, I was told, and more often failed than not to supply her son with the three quarts of milk he daily required. Further, this son, weak and dying, did not taste meat oftener than once a week; and the kind and quality of this meat cannot possibly be imagined by people who have never watched human swine eat.

“The w’y ‘e coughs is somethin’ terrible,” volunteered my sweated friend, referring to the dying boy. “We ‘ear ’im ‘ere, w’ile we’re workin’, an’ it’s terrible, I say, terrible!”

And, what of the coughing and the sweetmeats, I found another menace added to the hostile environment of the children of the slums.

My sweated friend, when work was to be had, toiled with four other men in his eight-by-seven room. In the winter a lamp burned nearly all the day and added its fumes to the over-loaded air, which was breathed, and breathed, and breathed again.

In good times, when there was a rush of work, this[64] man told me that he could earn as high as “thirty bob a week.”—“Thirty shillings! Seven dollars and a half!

“But it’s only the best of us can do it,” he qualified. “An’ then we work twelve, thirteen, and fourteen hours a day, just as fast as we can. An’ you should see us sweat! Just runnin’ from us! If you could see us, it’d dazzle your eyes—tacks flyin’ out of mouth like from a machine. Look at my mouth.”

I looked. The teeth were worn down by the constant friction of the metallic brads, while they were coal-black and rotten.

“I clean my teeth,” he added, “else they’d be worse.”

After he had told me that the workers had to furnish their own tools, brads, “grindery,” cardboard, rent, light, and what not, it was plain that his thirty bob was a diminishing quantity.

“But how long does the rush season last, in which you receive this high wage of thirty bob?” I asked.

“Four months,” was the answer; and for the rest of the year, he informed me, they average from “half a quid” to a “quid,” a week, which is equivalent to from two dollars and a half to five dollars. The present week was half gone, and he had earned four bob, or one dollar. And yet I was given to understand that this was one of the better grades of sweating.

The Hop-pickers

So far has the divorcement of the worker from the soil proceeded, that the farming districts, the civilized world over, are dependent upon the cities for the gathering of the harvests. Then it is, when the land is spilling its ripe wealth to waste, that the street folk, who have been driven away from the soil, are called back to it[65] again. But in England they return, not as prodigals, but as outcasts still, as vagrants and pariahs, to be doubted and flouted by their country brethren, to sleep in jails or casual wards, or under the hedges, and to live the Lord knows how.

It is estimated that Kent alone requires eighty thousand of the street people to pick her hops. And out they come, obedient to the call, which is the call of their bellies and of the lingering dregs of adventure-lust still in them. Slums, stews, and ghetto pour them forth, and the festering contents of slums, stews, and ghetto are undiminished. Yet they overrun the country like an army of ghouls, and the country does not want them. They are out of place. As they drag their squat, misshapen bodies along the highways and byways, they resemble some vile spawn from underground. Their very presence, the fact of their existence, is an outrage to the fresh, bright sun and the green and growing things. The clean, upstanding trees cry shame upon them and their withered crookedness, and their rottenness is a slimy desecration of the sweetness and purity of nature.

Is the picture overdrawn? It all depends. For one who sees and thinks life in terms of shares and coupons, it is certainly overdrawn. But for one who sees and thinks life in terms of manhood and womanhood, it cannot be overdrawn. Such hordes of beastly wretchedness and inarticulate misery are no compensation for a millionaire brewer who lives in a West End palace, sates himself with the sensuous delights of London’s golden theatres, hobnobs with lordlings and princelings, and is knighted by the king. Wins his spurs—God forbid! In old time the great blonde beasts rode in the battle’s van and won their spurs by cleaving men from pate to[66] chin. And, after all, it is finer to kill a strong man with a clean-slicing blow of singing steel than to make a beast of him, and of his seed through the generations, by the artful and spidery manipulation of industry and politics.


(From “Merrie England”)

By Robert Blatchford

(This book is probably the most widely-circulated of Socialist books in English. Over two million copies have been sold in Great Britain, and probably a million in America. The author is the editor of the London Clarion; born 1851)

Some years ago a certain writer, much esteemed for his graceful style of saying silly things, informed us that the poor remain poor because they show no efficient desire to be anything else. Is that true? Are only the idle poor? Come with me and I will show you where men and women work from morning till night, from week to week, from year to year, at the full stretch of their powers, in dim and fetid dens, and yet are poor—aye, destitute—have for their wages a crust of bread and rags. I will show you where men work in dirt and heat, using the strength of brutes, for a dozen hours a day, and sleep at night in styes, until brain and muscle are exhausted, and fresh slaves are yoked to the golden car of commerce, and the broken drudges filter through the poor-house or the prison to a felon’s or a pauper’s grave! I will show you how men and women thus work and suffer and faint and die, generation after generation; and I will show you how the longer and the harder these wretches toil[67] the worse their lot becomes; and I will show you the graves, and find witnesses to the histories of brave and noble and industrious poor men whose lives were lives of toil, and poverty, and whose deaths were tragedies.

And all these things are due to sin—but it is to the sin of the smug hypocrites who grow rich upon the robbery and the ruin of their fellow-creatures.

Work and Pray

By Georg Herwegh

(German poet, 1817-1875; took part in the attempt at revolution in Baden in 1848)

Pray and work! proclaims the world;
Briefly pray, for Time is gold.
On the door there knocketh dread—
Briefly pray, for Time is bread.
And ye plow and plant to grow.
And ye rivet and ye sow.
And ye hammer and ye spin—
Say, my people, what ye win.
Weave at loom both day and night,
Mine the coal to mountain height;
Fill right full the harvest horn—
Full to brim with wine and corn.
Yet where is thy meal prepared?
Yet where is thy rest-hour shared?
Yet where is thy warm hearth-fire?
Where is thy sharp sword of ire?


Conventional Lies of Our Civilization

By Max Nordau

(A Hungarian Jewish physician, born 1849, whose work, “Degeneration,” won an international audience)

The modern day laborer is more wretched than the slave of former times, for he is fed by no master nor any one else, and if his position is one of more liberty than the slave, it is principally the liberty of dying of hunger. He is by no means so well off as the outlaw of the Middle Ages, for he has none of the gay independence of the free-lance. He seldom rebels against society, and has neither means nor opportunity to take by violence or treachery what is denied him by the existing conditions of life. The rich is thus richer, the poor poorer than ever before since the beginnings of history.

The Failure of Civilization

By Frederic Harrison

(English essayist and philosopher, born 1831; President of the Positivist Society)

I cannot myself understand how any one who knows what the present manner is can think that it is satisfactory. To me, at least, it would be enough to condemn modern society as hardly an advance on slavery or serfdom, if the permanent condition of industry were to be that which we behold; that ninety per cent of the actual producers of wealth have no home that they can call their own beyond the end of the week;[69] have no bit of soil, or so much as a room that belongs to them; have nothing of value of any kind, except as much old furniture as will go in a cart; have the precarious chance of weekly wages, which barely suffice to keep them in health; are housed for the most part in places that no man thinks fit for his horse; are separated by so narrow a margin from destitution that a month of bad trade, sickness or unexpected loss brings them face to face with hunger and pauperism. In cities, the increasing organization of factory work makes life more and more crowded, and work more and more a monotonous routine; in the country, the increasing pressure makes rural life continually less free, healthful and cheerful; whilst the prizes and hopes of betterment are now reduced to a minimum. This is the normal state of the average workman in town or country, to which we must add the record of preventable disease, accident, suffering and social oppression with its immense yearly roll of death and misery. But below this normal state of the average workman there is found the great band of the destitute outcasts—the camp-followers of the army of industry, at least one-tenth of the whole proletarian population, whose normal condition is one of sickening wretchedness. If this is to be the permanent arrangement of modern society, civilization must be held to bring a curse on the great majority of mankind.



The Chasm

The contrast between riches and poverty; the protest of common sense against a condition of society where one-tenth of the people own nine-tenths of the wealth.


Wat Tyler

By Robert Southey

(One of the so-called “Lake School” of English poets, which included Wordsworth and Coleridge; 1774-1843. Poet-Laureate for thirty years. The refrain of this song was the motto of Wat Tyler’s rebels, who marched upon London in 1381)

“When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?”
Wretched is the infant’s lot,
Born within the straw-roof’d cot;
Be he generous, wise, or brave,
He must only be a slave.
Long, long labor, little rest,
Still to toil, to be oppress’d;
Drain’d by taxes of his store,
Punish’d next for being poor:
This is the poor wretch’s lot,
Born within the straw-roof’d cot.
While the peasant works,—to sleep,
What the peasant sows,—to reap,
On the couch of ease to lie,
Rioting in revelry;
Be he villain, be he fool,
Still to hold despotic rule,
Trampling on his slaves with scorn!
This is to be nobly born.
“When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?”


The Poor-Slave Household

(From “Sartor Resartus”)

By Thomas Carlyle

(See page 31)

“The furniture of this Caravanserai consisted of a large iron Pot, two oaken Tables, two Benches, two Chairs, and a Potheen Noggin. There was a Loft above (attainable by a ladder), upon which the inmates slept; and the space below was divided by a hurdle into two apartments; the one for their cow and pig, the other for themselves and guests. On entering the house we discovered the family, eleven in number, at dinner; the father sitting at the top, the mother at the bottom, the children on each side, of a large oaken Board, which was scooped out in the middle, like a trough, to receive the contents of their Pot of Potatoes. Little holes were cut at equal distances to contain Salt; and a bowl of Milk stood on the table; all the luxuries of meat and beer, bread, knives and dishes, were dispensed with.” The Poor-Slave himself our Traveller found, as he says, broad-backed, black-browed, of great personal strength, and mouth from ear to ear. His Wife was a sun-browned but well-featured woman; and his young ones, bare and chubby, had the appetite of ravens. Of their Philosophical or Religious tenets or observances, no notice or hint.

But now, secondly, of the Dandiacal Household:

“A Dressing-room splendidly furnished; violet-colored curtains, chairs and ottomans of the same hue. Two full-length Mirrors are placed, one on each side of a table, which supports the luxuries of the Toilet. Several Bottles of Perfume, arranged in a peculiar fashion, stand[75] upon a smaller table of mother-of-pearl; opposite to these are placed the appurtenances of Lavation richly wrought in frosted silver. A Wardrobe of Buhl is on the left; the doors of which, being partly open, discover a profusion of Clothes; Shoes of a singularly small size monopolize the lower shelves. Fronting the wardrobe a door ajar gives some slight glimpse of the Bathroom. Folding-doors in the background.—”Enter the Author,” our Theogonist in person, “obsequiously preceded by a French Valet, in white silk Jacket and cambric Apron.”

Such are the two sects which, at this moment, divide the more unsettled portion of the British People; and agitate that ever-vexed country. To the eye of the political Seer, their mutual relation, pregnant with the elements of discord and hostility, is far from consoling. These two principles of Dandiacal Self-worship or Demon-worship, and Poor-Slavish or Drudgical Earth-worship, or whatever that same Drudgism may be, do as yet indeed manifest themselves under distant and nowise considerable shapes: nevertheless, in their roots and subterranean ramifications, they extend through the entire structure of Society, and work unweariedly in the secret depths of English national Existence; striving to separate and isolate it into two contradictory, uncommunicating masses.

In numbers, and even individual strength, the Poor-Slaves or Drudges, it would seem, are hourly increasing. The Dandiacal, again, is by nature no proselytizing Sect; but it boasts of great hereditary resources, and is strong by union; whereas the Drudges, split into parties, have as yet no rallying-point; or at best only co-operate by means of partial secret affiliations. If, indeed, there[76] were to arise a Communion of Drudges, as there is already a Communion of Saints, what strangest effects would follow therefrom! Dandyism as yet affects to look down on Drudgism; but perhaps the hour of trial, when it will be practically seen which ought to look down, and which up, is not so distant.

To me it seems probable that the two Sects will one day part England between them; each recruiting itself from the intermediate ranks, till there be none left to enlist on either side. These Dandiacal Manicheans, with the host of Dandyizing Christians, will form one body; the Drudges, gathering round them whosoever is Drudgical, be he Christian or Infidel Pagan; sweeping-up likewise all manner of Utilitarians, Radicals, refractory Potwallopers, and so forth, into their general mass, will form another. I could liken Dandyism and Drudgism to two bottomless boiling Whirlpools that had broken-out on opposite quarters of the firm land; as yet they appear only disquieted, foolishly bubbling wells, which man’s art might cover-in; yet mark them, their diameter is daily widening; they are hollow Cones that boil-up from the infinite Deep, over which your firm land is but a thin crust or rind! Thus daily is the intermediate land crumbling-in, daily the empire of the two Buchan-Bullers extending; till now there is but a foot-plank, a mere film of Land between them; this too is washed away; and then—we have the true Hell of Waters, and Noah’s Deluge is outdeluged!

Or better, I might call them two boundless, and indeed unexampled Electric Machines (turned by the “Machinery of Society”), with batteries of opposite quality; Drudgism the Negative, Dandyism the Positive; one attracts hourly towards it and appropriates all the Posi[77]tive Electricity of the nation (namely, the Money thereof); the other is equally busy with the Negative (that is to say the Hunger) which is equally potent. Hitherto you see only partial transient sparkles and sputters; but wait a little, till the entire nation is in an electric state; till your whole vital Electricity, no longer healthfully Neutral, is cut into two isolated portions of Positive and Negative (of Money and of Hunger); and stands there bottled-up in two World-Batteries! The stirring of a child’s finger brings the two together; and then—What then? The Earth is but shivered into impalpable smoke by that Doom’s-thunderpeal; the Sun misses one of his Planets in Space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the Moon.

By Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

(French bishop and statesman, 1754-1838)

Society is divided into two classes; the shearers and the shorn. We should always be with the former against the latter.

The Lotus Eaters

By Alfred Tennyson

(Probably the most popular of English lyrical poets; 1809-1892. Made Poet-laureate in 1850, and a baron in 1884)

Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d
Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d
Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world:
Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands,
Clanging fights and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,
Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong;
Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil;
Till they perish and they suffer—some, ’tis whisper’d—down in hell.


By Charles Kingsley

(English clergyman and novelist, 1819-1875; founder of the Christian Socialist movement. In the scene here quoted, a young University man is taken by a game-keeper to see the degradation of English village life)

“Can’t they read? Can’t they practice light and interesting handicrafts at home, as the German peasantry do?”

“Who’ll teach ’em, sir? From the plough-tail to the reaping-hook, and back again, is all they know. Besides,[79] sir, they are not like us Cornish; they are a stupid pig-headed generation at the best, these south countrymen. They’re grown-up babies who want the parson and the squire to be leading them, and preaching to them, and spurring them on, and coaxing them up, every moment. And as for scholarship, sir, a boy leaves school at nine or ten to follow the horses; and between that time and his wedding-day he forgets every word he ever learnt, and becomes, for the most part, as thorough a heathen savage at heart as those wild Indians in the Brazils used to be.”

“And then we call them civilized Englishmen!” said Lancelot. “We can see that your Indian is a savage, because he wears skins and feathers; but your Irish cotter or your English laborer, because he happens to wear a coat and trousers, is to be considered a civilized man.”

“It’s the way of the world, sir,” said Tregarva, “judging carnal judgment, according to the sight of its own eyes; always looking at the outsides of things and men, sir, and never much deeper. But as for reading, sir, it’s all very well for me, who have been a keeper and dawdled about like a gentleman with a gun over my arm; but did you ever do a good day’s farm-work in your life? If you had, man or boy, you wouldn’t have been game for much reading when you got home; you’d do just what these poor fellows do—tumble into bed at eight o’clock, hardly waiting to take your clothes off, knowing that you must turn up again at five o’clock the next morning to get a breakfast of bread, and, perhaps, a dab of the squire’s dripping, and then back to work again; and so on, day after day, sir, week after week, year after year, without a hope or chance of being anything but[80] what you are, and only too thankful if you can get work to break your back, and catch the rheumatism over.”

“But do you mean to say that their labor is so severe and incessant?”

“It’s only God’s blessing if it is incessant, sir, for if it stops, they starve, or go to the house to be worse fed than the thieves in gaol. And as for its being severe, there’s many a boy, as their mothers will tell you, comes home night after night, too tired to eat their suppers, and tumble, fasting, to bed in the same foul shirt which they’ve been working in all the day, never changing their rag of calico from week’s end to week’s end, or washing the skin that’s under it once in seven years.”

“No wonder,” said Lancelot, “that such a life of drudgery makes them brutal and reckless.”

“No wonder, indeed, sir: they’ve no time to think; they’re born to be machines, and machines they must be; and I think, sir,” he added bitterly, “it’s God’s mercy that they daren’t think. It’s God’s mercy that they don’t feel. Men that write books and talk at elections call this a free country, and say that the poorest and meanest has a free opening to rise and become prime minister, if he can. But you see, sir, the misfortune is, that in practice he can’t; for one who gets into a gentleman’s family, or into a little shop, and so saves a few pounds, fifty know that they’ve no chance before them, but day-laborer born, day-laborer live, from hand to mouth, scraping and pinching to get not meat and beer even, but bread and potatoes; and then, at the end of it all, for a worthy reward, half-a-crown-a-week of parish pay—or the work-house. That’s a lively hopeful prospect for a Christian man!” ...

Into the booth they turned; and as soon as Lancelot’s[81] eyes were accustomed to the reeking atmosphere, he saw seated at two long temporary tables of board, fifty or sixty of “My brethren,” as clergymen call them in their sermons, wrangling, stupid, beery, with sodden eyes and drooping lips—interspersed with more girls and brazen-faced women, with dirty flowers in their caps, whose sole business seemed to be to cast jealous looks at each other, and defend themselves from the coarse overtures of their swains.

Lancelot had been already perfectly astonished at the foulness of language which prevailed; and the utter absence of anything like chivalrous respect, almost of common decency, towards women. But lo! the language of the elder women was quite as disgusting as that of the men, if not worse. He whispered a remark on the point to Tregarva, who shook his head.

“It’s the field-work, sir—the field-work, that does it all. They get accustomed there from their childhood to hear words whose very meanings they shouldn’t know; and the elder teach the younger ones, and the married ones are worst of all. It wears them out in body, sir, that field-work, and makes them brutes in soul and in manners....”

Sadder and sadder, Lancelot tried to listen to the conversation of the men round him. To his astonishment he hardly understood a word of it. It was half articulate, nasal, guttural, made up almost entirely of vowels, like the speech of savages. He had never before been struck with the significant contrast between the sharp, clearly defined articulation, the vivid and varied tones of the gentleman, or even of the London street-boy, when compared with the coarse, half-formed growls, as of a company of seals, which he heard round him. That[82] single fact struck him, perhaps, more deeply than any; it connected itself with many of his physiological fancies; it was the parent of many thoughts and plans of his after-life. Here and there he could distinguish a half sentence. An old shrunken man opposite him was drawing figures in the spilt beer with his pipe-stem, and discoursing of the glorious times before the great war, “when there was more food than there were mouths, and more work than there were hands.” “Poor human nature!” thought Lancelot, as he tried to follow one of those unintelligible discussions about the relative prices of the loaf and the bushel of flour, which ended, as usual, in more swearing, and more quarrelling, and more beer to make it up—“Poor human nature! always looking back, as the German sage says, to some fancied golden age, never looking forward to the real one which is coming!”

“But I say, vather,” drawled out some one, “they say there’s a sight more money in England now, than there was afore the war-time.”

“Eees, booy,” said the old man; “but it’s got into too few hands.”

“Well,” thought Lancelot, “there’s a glimpse of practical sense, at least.” And a pedler who sat next him, a bold, black-whiskered bully from the Potteries, hazarded a joke—

“It’s all along of this new sky-and-tough-it farming. They used to spread the money broad cast, but now they drills it all in one place, like bone-dust under their fancy plants, and we poor self-sown chaps gets none.”

This garland of fancies was received with great applause; whereat the pedler, emboldened, proceeded to observe, mysteriously, that “donkeys took a beating, but horses kicked at it; and that they’d found out that in Stafford[83]shire long ago. You want a good Chartist lecturer down here, my covies, to show you donkeys of laboring men that you have got iron on your heels, if you only knowed how to use it....”

Blackbird was by this time prevailed on to sing, and burst out as melodious as ever, while all heads were cocked on one side in delighted attention.

“I zeed a vire o’ Monday night,
A vire both great and high;
But I wool not tell you where, my boys,
Nor wool not tell you why.
The varmer he comes screeching out,
To zave ‘uns new brood mare;
Zays I, ‘You and your stock may roast,
Vor aught us poor chaps care.’

“Coorus, boys, coorus!”

And the chorus burst out—

“Then here’s a curse on varmers all
As rob and grind the poor;
To re’p the fruit of all their works
In —— for evermoor-r-r-r.
”A blind owld dame come to the vire,
Zo near as she could get;
Zays, ‘Here’s a luck I warn’t asleep,
To lose this blessed hett.
They robs us of our turfing rights
Our bits of chips and sticks,
Till poor folks now can’t warm their hands,
Except by varmers’ ricks.’
“Then, etc.”


And again the boy’s delicate voice rang out the ferocious chorus, with something, Lancelot fancied, of fiendish exultation, and every worn face lighted up with a coarse laugh, that indicated no malice—but also no mercy....

Lancelot almost ran out into the night—into a triad of fights, two drunken men, two jealous wives, and a brute who struck a poor, thin, worn-out woman, for trying to coax him home. Lancelot rushed up to interfere, but a man seized his uplifted arm.

“He’ll only beat her all the more when he getteth home.”

“She has stood that every Saturday night for the last seven years, to my knowledge,” said Tregarva; “and worse, too, at times.”

“Good God! is there no escape for her from her tyrant?”

“No, sir. It’s only you gentlefolks who can afford such luxuries; your poor man may be tied to a harlot, or your poor woman to a ruffian, but once done, done for ever.”

“Well,” thought Lancelot, “we English have a characteristic way of proving the holiness of the marriage tie. The angel of Justice and Pity cannot sever it, only the stronger demon of Money.”

Alton Locke

By Charles Kingsley

(See page 78)

“What!” shriek the insulted respectabilities, “have we not paid him his wages weekly, and has he not lived upon them?” Yes; and have you not given your sheep and horses their daily wages, and have they[85] not lived on them? You wanted to work them; and they could not work, you knew, unless they were alive. But here lies your iniquity; you have given the laborer nothing but his daily food—not even his lodgings; the pigs were not stinted of their wash to pay for their sty-room, the man was; and his wages, thanks to your competitive system, were beaten down deliberately and conscientiously (for was it not according to political economy, and the laws thereof?) to the minimum on which he could or would work, without the hope or the possibility of saving a farthing. You know how to invest your capital profitably, dear Society, and to save money over and above your income of daily comforts; but what has he saved?—what is he profited by all those years of labor? He has kept body and soul together—perhaps he could have done that without you or your help. But his wages are used up every Saturday night. When he stops working, you have in your pocket the whole profits of his nearly fifty years’ labor, and he has nothing. And then you say that you have not eaten him!

Looking Backward

By Edward Bellamy

(One of the classics of the Socialist movement, this book sold over four hundred thousand copies in the first years of its publication. Its author was an American school-teacher, 1850-1898)

By way of attempting to give the reader some general impression of the way people lived together in those days, and especially of the relations of the rich and poor to one another, perhaps I cannot do better than compare[86] society as it then was to a prodigious coach which the masses of humanity were harnessed to and dragged toilsomely along a very hilly and sandy road. The driver was hunger, and permitted no lagging, though the pace was necessarily very slow. Despite the difficulty of drawing the coach at all along so hard a road, the top was covered with passengers who never got down, even at the steepest ascents. The seats on top were very breezy and comfortable. Well up out of the dust their occupants could enjoy the scenery at their leisure, or critically discuss the merits of the straining team. Naturally such places were in great demand and the competition for them was keen, every one seeking as the first end in life to secure a seat on the coach for himself and to leave it to his child after him. By the rule of the coach a man could leave his seat to whom he wished, but on the other hand there were many accidents by which it might at any time be wholly lost. For all that they were so easy, the seats were very insecure, and at every sudden jolt of the coach persons were slipping out of them and falling to the ground, where they were instantly compelled to take hold of the rope and help to drag the coach on which they had before ridden so pleasantly. It was naturally regarded as a terrible misfortune to lose one’s seat, and the apprehension that this might happen to them or their friends was a constant cloud upon the happiness of those who rode.

But did they think only of themselves? you ask. Was not their very luxury rendered intolerable to them by comparison with the lot of their brothers and sisters in the harness, and the knowledge that their own weight added to their toil! Had they no compassion for fellow beings from whom fortune only distinguished them? Oh,[87] yes; commiseration was frequently expressed by those who rode for those who had to pull the coach, especially when the vehicle came to a bad place in the road, as it was constantly doing, or to a particularly steep hill. At such times, the desperate straining of the team, their agonized leaping and plunging under the pitiless lashing of hunger, the many who fainted at the rope and were trampled in the mire, made a very distressing spectacle, which often called forth highly creditable displays of feeling on the top of the coach. At such times the passengers would call down encouragingly to the toilers of the rope, exhorting them to patience, and holding out hopes of possible compensation in another world for the hardness of their lot, while others contributed to buy salves and liniments for the crippled and injured. It was agreed that it was a great pity that the coach should be so hard to pull, and there was a sense of general relief when the specially bad piece of road was gotten over. This relief was not, indeed, wholly on account of the team, for there was always some danger at these bad places of a general overturn in which all would lose their seats.

It must in truth be admitted that the main effect of the spectacle of the misery of the toilers at the rope was to enhance the passengers’ sense of the value of their seats upon the coach, and to cause them to hold on to them more desperately than before. If the passengers could only have felt assured that neither they nor their friends would ever fall from the top, it is probable that, beyond contributing to the funds for liniments and bandages, they would have troubled themselves extremely little about those who dragged the coach.


Rich and Poor

By Leo Tolstoy

(Russian novelist and reformer, 1828-1910)

The present position which we, the educated and well-to-do classes, occupy, is that of the Old Man of the Sea, riding on the poor man’s back; only, unlike the Old Man of the Sea, we are very sorry for the poor man, very sorry; and we will do almost anything for the poor man’s relief. We will not only supply him with food sufficient to keep him on his legs, but we will teach and instruct him and point out to him the beauties of the landscape; we will discourse sweet music to him and give him abundance of good advice.

Yes, we will do almost anything for the poor man, anything but get off his back.

A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens

(Celebrated English novelist, 1812-1870. The novel here quoted deals with the French Revolution, and the scene narrates how one of Monseigneur’s guests drives away from the palace)

Not many people had talked with him at the reception; he had stood in a little space apart, and Monseigneur might have been warmer in his manner. It appeared under the circumstances, rather agreeable to him to see the common people dispersed before his horses, and often barely escaping from being run down. His man drove as if he were charging an enemy, and the[89] furious recklessness of the man brought no check into the face, or to the lips, of the master. The complaint had sometimes made itself audible, even in that deaf city and dumb age, that, in the narrow streets without footways, the fierce patrician custom of hard driving endangered and maimed the mere vulgar in a barbarous manner. But few cared enough for that to think of it a second time, and, in this matter, as in all others, the common wretches were left to get out of their difficulties as they could.

With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.

But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses’ bridles.

“What has gone wrong?” said Monsieur, calmly looking out.

A tall man in a nightcap had caught up a bundle from among the feet of the horses, and had laid it on the basement of the fountain, and was down in the mud and wet, howling over it like a wild animal.

“Pardon, Monsieur the Marquis!” said a ragged and submissive man, “it is a child.”

“Why does he make that abominable noise? Is it his child?”


“Excuse me, Monsieur the Marquis—it is a pity—yes.”

The fountain was a little removed; for the street opened, where it was, into a space some ten or twelve yards square. As the tall man suddenly got up from the ground, and came running at the carriage, Monsieur the Marquis clapped his hand for an instant on his sword-hilt.

“Killed!” shrieked the man, in wild desperation, extending both arms at their length above his head, and staring at him. “Dead!”

The people closed round, and looked at Monsieur the Marquis. There was nothing revealed by the many eyes that looked at him but watchfulness and eagerness; there was no visible menacing or anger. Neither did the people say anything; after the first cry, they had been silent, and they remained so. The voice of the submissive man who had spoken, was flat and tame in its extreme submission. Monsieur the Marquis ran his eyes over them all, as if they had been mere rats come out of their holes.

He took out his purse.

“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that.”

He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up, and all the heads craned forward that all the eyes might look down at it as it fell. The tall man called out again with a most unearthly cry, “Dead!”



By Émile Zola

(French novelist, 1840-1902, founder of the school of “Naturalism.” The present is one of his later works, in which he indicates his hope of the regeneration of French society. The hero is a Catholic priest who first attempts to reform the Church, and then leaves it)

Pierre remembered that frightful house in the Rue des Saules, where so much want and suffering were heaped up. He saw again the yard filthy like a quagmire, the evil-smelling staircases, the sordid, bare, icy rooms, the families fighting for messes which even stray dogs would not have eaten; the mothers, with exhausted breasts, carrying screaming children to and fro; the old men who fell in corners like brute beasts, and died of hunger amidst filth. And then came his other hours with the magnificence or the quietude or the gaiety of the salons through which he had passed, the whole insolent display of financial Paris, and political Paris, and society Paris. And at last he came to the dusk, and to that Paris-Sodom and Paris-Gomorrah before him, which was lighting itself up for the night, for the abominations of that accomplice night which, like fine dust, was little by little submerging the expanse of roofs. And the hateful monstrosity of it all howled aloud under the pale sky where the first pure, twinkling stars were gleaming.

A great shudder came upon Pierre as he thought of all that mass of iniquity and suffering, of all that went on below amid wealth and vice. The bourgeoisie, wielding power, would relinquish naught of the sovereignty which it had conquered, wholly stolen; while the people, the eternal dupe, silent so long, clenched its fists and growled, claiming its legitimate share. And it was that frightful injus[92]tice which filled the growing gloom with anger. From what dark-breasted cloud would the thunderbolt fall? For years he had been waiting for that thunderbolt, which low rumbles announced on all points of the horizon. And if he had written a book full of candour and hope, if he had gone in all innocence to Rome, it was to avert that thunderbolt and its frightful consequences. But all hope of the kind was dead within him; he felt that the thunderbolt was inevitable, that nothing henceforth could stay the catastrophe. And never before had he felt it to be so near, amidst the happy impudence of some, and the exasperated distress of others. It was gathering, and it would surely fall over that Paris, all lust and bravado, which, when evening came, thus stirred up its furnace.




(Contemporary American illustrator)

Copyright by J. A. Mitchell.



Copyright by J. A. Mitchell


King Hunger

By Leonid Andreyev

(Russian novelist and dramatist of social protest; born 1871. In this grim symbolical drama is voiced the despair of Russia’s intellectuals after the tragic failure of the Revolution. In the first scene King Hunger is shown inciting the starving factory-slaves to revolt; in the second, he presides over a gathering of the outcasts of society, who meet in a cellar to discuss projects of ferocious vengeance upon the idlers in the ball-room over their heads, but break up in a drunken brawl instead. In the present scene, King Hunger turns traitor to his victims, and presides as a judge passing sentence upon them. The leisure class attend as spectators in the court-room, the women in evening gowns and jewels, “the men in dress coats and surtouts, carefully shaven and dressed at the wig-makers”)

King Hunger:—Show in the first starveling.

(The first starveling, a ragged old man with lacerated feet, is conducted into the court-room. A wire muzzle encases his face.)


King Hunger:—Take the muzzle off the starveling. What’s your offense, Starveling?

Old Man (speaking in a broken voice):—Theft.

King Hunger:—How much did you steal?

Old Man:—I stole a five-pound loaf, but it was wrested from me. I had only time to bite a small piece of it. Forgive me, I will never again——

King Hunger:—How? Have you acquired an inheritance? Or won’t you eat hereafter?

Old Man:—No. It was wrested from me. I only chewed off a small piece——

King Hunger:—But how won’t you steal? Why haven’t you been working?

Old Man:—There’s no work.

King Hunger:—But where’s your brood, Starveling? Why don’t they support you?

Old Man:—My children died of hunger.

King Hunger:—Why did you not starve to death, as they?

Old Man:—I don’t know. I had a mind to live.

King Hunger:—Of what use is life to you, Starveling?

(Voices of Spectators.)

—Indeed, how do they live? I don’t comprehend it.

—To work.

—To glorify God and be confirmed in the consciousness that life—

—Well, I don’t suppose they exalt Him.

—It were better if he were dead.

—A rather wearisome old fellow. And what style of trousers!

—Listen! Listen!

King Hunger (rising, speaks aloud):—Now, ladies and gentlemen, we will feign to meditate. Honorable judges, I beg you to simulate a meditative air.


(The judges for a brief period appear in deep thought—they knit their brows, gaze up at the ceiling, prop up their noses, sigh and obviously endeavor to think. Venerable silence. Then with faces profoundly solemn and earnest, silent as before, the judges rise, and simultaneously they turn around facing Death. And all together they bow low and lingering, stretching themselves forward.)

King Hunger (with bent head):—What is your pleasure?

Death (swiftly rising, wrathfully strikes the table with his clenched fist and speaks in a grating voice):—Condemned—in the name of Satan!

(Then as quickly he sits down and sinks into a malicious inflexibility. The judges resume their places.)

King Hunger:—Starveling, you’re condemned.

Old Man:—Have mercy!

King Hunger:—Put the muzzle over him. Bring the next starveling....

(The next starveling is led into the room. She is a graceful, but extremely emaciated young woman, with a face pallid and tragic to view. The black, fine eyebrows join over her nose; her luxuriant hair is negligently tied in a knot, falling down her shoulders. She makes no bows nor looks around, is as if seeing nobody. Her voice is apathetic and dull.)

King Hunger:—What’s your offense, Starveling?

Young Woman:—I killed my child.


—Oh, horrors! This woman is altogether destitute of motherly feelings.

—What do you expect of them? You astonish me.

—How charming she is. There’s something tragical about her.

—Then marry her.


—Crimes of infanticide were not regarded as such in ancient times, and were looked upon as a natural right of parents. Only with the introduction of humanism into our customs——

—Oh, please, just a second, professor.

—But science, my child——

King Hunger:—Tell us, Starveling, how it happened.

(With drooping hands and motionless, the woman speaks up dully and dispassionately.)

Young Woman:—One night my baby and I crossed the long bridge over the river. And since I had long before decided, so then approaching the middle, where the river is deep and swift, I said: “Look, baby dear, how the water is a-roaring below.” She said, “I can’t reach, mamma, the railing is so high.” I said, “Come, let me lift you, baby dear.” And when she was gazing down into the black deep, I threw her over. That’s all.

King Hunger:—Did she grip you?

Young Woman:—No.

King Hunger:—She screamed?

Young Woman:—Yes, once.

King Hunger:—What was her name?

Young Woman:—Baby dear.

King Hunger:—No, her name. How was she called?

Young Woman:—Baby dear.

King Hunger (covering his face, he speaks in sad, quivering voice):—Honorable judges, I beg you to simulate a meditative air. (The judges knit their brows, gaze on the ceiling, chew their lips. Venerable silence. Then they rise and gravely bow to Death.)

Death:—Condemned—in the name of Satan!

King Hunger (rising, speaks aloud, extending his hands to the woman, as if veiling her in an invisible, black shroud):—[96] You’re condemned, woman, do you hear? Death awaits you. In blackest hell you will be tormented and burnt on everlasting, slakeless fires! Devils will rack your heart with their iron talons! The most venomous serpents of the infernal abyss will suck your brain and sting, sting you, and nobody will heed your agonizing cries, for you’ll be silenced. Let eternal night be over you. Do you hear, Starveling?

Young Woman:—Yes.

King Hunger:—Muzzle her.

(The starveling is led away. King Hunger addresses the spectators in a frank and joyous manner.) Now, ladies and gentlemen, I propose recess for luncheon. Adjudication is a fatiguing affair, and we need to invigorate ourselves. (Gallantly.) Especially our charming matrons and the young ladies. Please!

(Joyful exclamations.)

—To dine! To dine!

—’Tis about time!

—Mamma dear, where are the bonbons?

—Your little mind is only on bonbons!

—Which—is tried? (Waking up.)

—Dinner is ready, Your Excellency.

—Ah! Why didn’t you wake me up before?

(Everything assumes at once a happy, amiable, homelike aspect. The judges pull off their wigs, exposing their bald heads, and gradually they lose themselves in the crowd, shake hands, and with feigned indifference they look askance, contemplating the dining. Portly waiters in rich liveries, with difficulty and bent under the weight of immense dishes, bring gigantic portions; whole mutton trunks, colossal hams, high, mountain-like roasts. Before the stout man, on a low stool, they place a whole roasted pig, which is brought in by three. Doubtful, he looks at it.)


—Would you assist me, Professor?

—With pleasure, Your Excellency.

—And you, Honorable Judge?

—Although I am not hungry—but with your leave—

—I may, perhaps, be suffered to—(the Abbot modestly speaks, his mouth watering.)

(The four seat themselves about the pig and silently they carve it greedily with their knives. Occasionally the eyes of the Professor and of the Abbot meet, and with swollen cheeks, powerless to chew, they are smitten with reciprocal hatred and contempt. Then choking, they ardently champ on. Everywhere small groups eating. Death produces a dry cheese sandwich from his pocket and eats in solitude. A heavy conversation of full-crammed mouths. Munching.)


By Heinrich Heine

(German poet and essayist, one of the most musical and most unhappy of singers; 1797-1856)

It is in the dusky twilight that Poverty with her mates, Vice and Crime, glide forth from their lairs. They shun daylight the more anxiously, the more cruelly their wretchedness contrasts with the pride of wealth which glitters everywhere; only Hunger sometimes drives them at noonday from their dens, and then they stand with silent, speaking eyes, staring beseechingly at the rich merchant who hurries along, busy and jingling gold, or at the lazy lord who, like a surfeited god, rides by on his high horse, casting now and then an aristocratically indifferent glance at the mob below, as though they were swarming ants, or, at all events, a mass of baser beings,[98] whose joys and sorrows have nothing in common with his feelings....

Poor Poverty! how agonizing must thy hunger be where others swell in scornful superfluity! And when some one casts with indifferent hand a crust into thy lap, how bitter must the tears be wherewith thou moistenest it! Thou poisonest thyself with thine own tears. Well art thou in the right when thou alliest thyself to Vice and Crime. Outlawed criminals often bear more humanity in their hearts than those cold, blameless citizens of virtue, in whose white hearts the power of evil is quenched; but also the power of good. I have seen women on whose cheeks red vice was painted, and in whose hearts dwelt heavenly purity.


By William Blake

(English poet and painter of strange and terrible visions. 1757-1827)

I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow;
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlots curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.

A Life for a Life[H]

By Robert Herrick

(American novelist, professor in the University of Chicago; born 1868. In this novel a young American, hungering for success and about to marry the daughter a great captain of industry, is taken by a strange man, “the bearded Anarch,” and shown the horrors of American industrialism)

And thus this strange pilgrimage, like another descent into purgatory and even unto hell, continued,—the shabby bearded Anarch leading his companion from factory, warehouse, and mill to mine and railroad and shop, teaching him by the sight of his own eyes what life means to the silent multitude upon whose bent shoulders the fabric of society rests,—what that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—brave aspirations of the forefathers—has brought to the common man in this land of destiny and desire.

The wanderer breathed the deadly fumes of smelter and glass works, saw where men were burned in great converters, or torn limb from limb upon the whirling teeth of swift machines,—done to death in this way and that, or maimed and cast useless upon the rubbish heap of humanity,—waste product of the process.

“For,” as his guide repeated, “in this country, where Property is sacred, nothing is cheaper than human life. For, remember, the supply of raw labor is inexhaustible.”


He recalled the words of a sleek and comfortable man of business, at the end of the day, with his good dinner comfortably in his belly and a fat cigar between his lips: “There’s too much sentimentalism in the air. Some religion less effeminate than Christ’s is needed to fit the facts of life. In the struggle the weak must go under, and it is a crime to interfere with natural law.” The weak must go under! Surely if that were the law, any religion that would offer an anodyne to the hopeless were a blessing. But again and again the question rose unanswered to his lips,—who are the weak? And the sleek one with his cigar said, “Those who go under!” ...

So they passed on their way through squalid factory towns reeking with human vice and disease, through the network of railroad terminals crowded with laden cars rolling forth to satisfy desires. They loitered in busy city stores, in dim basement holes where bread and clothes were making, in filthy slaughter-houses where beasts were slain by beasts....

At sunset of a glowing day the two sat upon an upper ridge of the hills. All the imperial colors of the firmament dyed the western heavens among the broken peaks of the mountains. Below in the lonely valleys were the excoriations of the mines, the refuse, the smudged stains of the rough surface of the earth. The guide pointed into the distance where the huge smelter of Senator Dexter’s mine sent a yellow cloud upward.

“Near that is the charred debris where the miners blew up the old works. Below the brow of yonder hills lies that stockade where miners, with their women and children, were penned for weeks like wild animals, guarded by the troops of the nation. Beyond is the edge of the great desert, into whose waterless waste others were[101] driven to their death. Of these I was one that escaped. Men were shot and women raped. But I tell over old tales known to all. In this place it has been truly a life for a life according to the primitive text—but more honest than the cunning and hidden ways of the law. Here the eaten is face to face, at least, with the eater.”

The twilight came down like a curtain, hiding the scars of man’s dominion over the earth. The two sat in silent thought. This was the apex of their journey together, and the end. Behind this lofty table-land of the continent began the grim desert, not yet subdued by man, and beyond came other fertile valleys and other mountains, and finally another ocean. Thither had been carried the same civilization, the same spirit of conquest and greed, and that noble aspiration after “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” bore the same fruit in the blood of man. Wherever the victorious race had forced its way, it sowed the seeds of hate and industrial crime. And the flower must bloom, early or late, upon the lonely cattle ranch, in the primeval forest, the soft southern grove, or the virgin valley of the “promised land.”

Thus spoke the Anarch.

In the glimmering twilight the fierce eyes of the bearded one rested upon the wanderer.

“Have you seen enough?”

“Enough! God knows.”

“So at last you understand the meaning of it all!”

“Not yet!” And from the depth of his being there flashed the demand, “Why have you shown me the sore surface of life? What have you to do with it? And what have I?”

His guide replied, “So you still long for the smooth paths of prosperity? You would like to shield your eyes[102] from the disagreeable aspects of a world that is good to you? You would still have your comfort and your heart’s desire? Your ambitious fancy still turns to the daughter of privilege, dainty and lovely and sweet to the eyes?”

(The young man returns to the rich woman whom he had meant to marry.)

He knelt and taking the hem of her garment held it in his hands.

“See!” He crushed the soft fabric in his hand. “Silk with thread of gold. It is the tears! See!” He touched her girdle with his hands. “Gold and precious stones. They are the groans! See!” He put his fingers upon the golden hair. “A wreath of pure gold! Tears and groans and bloody sweat! You are a tissue of the lives of others, from feet to the crown upon your hair.... See!” His hot hands crushed the orchids at her breast. “Even the flower at your breast is stained with blood.... I see the tears of others on your robe. I hear their sighs in your voice. I see defeated desires in the light of your eyes. You are the Sacrifice of the many—I cannot touch!”

Isabella, or The Pot of Basil

By John Keats

(One of the loveliest of English poets, 1795-1821; a chemist’s assistant, who lived unrecognized and died despairing)

With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enrichèd from ancestral merchandise,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torchèd mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver’d loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip,—with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gushed blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark;
Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
That set sharp wracks at work, to pinch and peel.

The Sons of Martha

By Rudyard Kipling

(Under this title the English poet has written a striking picture of the social chasm. He figures the world’s toilers as the “Sons of Martha,” who, because their mother “was rude to the Lord, her Guest,” are condemned forever to unrequited toil. “It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.” The poem goes on to tell of the ignorance and torment in which they live—while the Sons of Mary, who “have inherited that good part,” live in ease upon their toil.)

/p “They sit at the Feet—and they hear the Word—they see how truly the promise runs. They have cast their burdens upon the Lord, and—the Lord He lays them on Martha’s sons.” p/

On the other hand the sons of Martha have to face reality.

“They do not preach that their God will rouse them an hour before the nuts work loose,
They do not teach that His pity allows them to leave their work when they damn-well choose.”

The entire poem may be found in the 1918 Collected Edition of Mr. Kipling’s poems.


Reflections Upon Poverty

(From “The New Grub Street”)

By George Gissing

(Novelist of English middle-class life, 1857-1903. Few have ever equalled him in the portrayal of the sordid, every-day realities of poverty. The story of his own tragic life is told in a novel called “The Private Life of Henry Maitland,” by Morley Roberts)

As there was sunshine Amy accompanied her husband for his walk in the afternoon; it was long since they had been out together. An open carriage that passed, followed by two young girls on horseback, gave a familiar direction to Reardon’s thoughts.

“If one were as rich as those people. They pass so close to us; they see us, and we see them; but the distance between is infinity. They don’t belong to the same world as we poor wretches. They see everything in a different light; they have powers which would seem supernatural if we were suddenly endowed with them.”

“Of course,” assented his companion with a sigh.

“Just fancy, if one got up in the morning with the thought that no reasonable desire that occurred to one throughout the day need remain ungratified! And that it would be the same, any day and every day, to the end of one’s life! Look at those houses; every detail, within and without, luxurious. To have such a home as that!”

“And they are empty creatures who live there.”

“They do live, Amy, at all events. Whatever may be their faculties, they all have free scope. I have often stood staring at houses like these until I couldn’t believe that the people owning them were mere human beings like myself. The power of money is so hard to realize,[105] one who has never had it marvels at the completeness with which it transforms every detail of life. Compare what we call our home with that of rich people; it moves one to scornful laughter. I have no sympathy with the stoical point of view; between wealth and poverty is just the difference between the whole man and the maimed. If my lower limbs are paralyzed I may still be able to think, but then there is no such thing in life as walking. As a poor devil I may live nobly; but one happens to be made with faculties of enjoyment, and those have to fall into atrophy. To be sure, most rich people don’t understand their happiness; if they did, they would move and talk like gods—which indeed they are.”

Amy’s brow was shadowed. A wise man, in Reardon’s position, would not have chosen this subject to dilate upon.

“The difference,” he went on, “between the man with money and the man without is simply this: the one thinks, ‘How shall I use my life?’ and the other, ‘How shall I keep myself alive?’ A physiologist ought to be able to discover some curious distinction between the brain of a person who has never given a thought to the means of subsistence, and that of one who has never known a day free from such cares. There must be some special cerebral development representing the mental anguish kept up by poverty.”

“I should say,” put in Amy, “that it affects every function of the brain. It isn’t a special point of suffering, but a misery that colors every thought.”

“True. Can I think of a single object in all the sphere of my experience without the consciousness that I see it through the medium of poverty? I have no enjoyment[106] which isn’t tainted by that thought, and I can suffer no pain which it doesn’t increase. The curse of poverty is to the modern world just what that of slavery was to the ancient. Rich and destitute stand to each other as free man and bond. You remember the line of Homer I have often quoted about the demoralizing effect of enslavement; poverty degrades in the same way.”

“It has had its effect upon me—I know that too well,” said Amy, with bitter frankness.

Reardon glanced at her, and wished to make some reply, but he could not say what was in his thoughts.

The Veins of Wealth

By John Ruskin

(English art critic and university professor, 1819-1900; author of many works upon social questions, and master of perhaps the greatest English prose style)

Primarily, which is very notable and curious, I observe that men of business rarely know the meaning of the word “rich.” At least if they know, they do not in their reasonings allow for the fact, that it is a relative word, implying its opposite “poor” as positively as the word “north” implies its opposite “south.” Men nearly always speak and write as if riches were absolute, and it were possible, by following certain scientific precepts, for everybody to be rich. Whereas riches are a power like that of electricity, acting only through inequalities or negations of itself. The force of the guinea you have in your pocket depends wholly on the default of a guinea in your neighbor’s pocket.[107] If he did not want it, it would be of no use to you; the degree of power it possesses depends accurately upon the need or desire he has for it,—and the art of making yourself rich, in the ordinary mercantile economist’s sense, is therefore equally and necessarily the art of keeping your neighbor poor.

Lynggaard & Co.

By Hjalmar Bergström

(Contemporary Danish dramatist, born 1868. The present play deals with the modern industrial struggle. The wife of a great manufacturer has become the victim of melancholia after a strike)

Mrs. Lynggaard (absorbed in her memories):—I shall never forget the day when the people went back to work. I was watching them from my bedroom window. For four months they had been starving—starving, do you understand?—they and theirs. Then they turned up again one winter morning before daylight, and there they stood and shivered in the yards. They had no over-clothes, of course, and they were shaking both from cold and from weakness. And then their faces were all covered with beards, so that one couldn’t recognize them. There they stood and waited a long time, a very long time.... At last Heymann [the manager] appeared in the doorway and read something from a paper. It was the conditions of surrender, I suppose. None of them looked up. Then, as they were about to walk in and begin working, Heymann stopped them by holding up his hand, and he said something I couldn’t hear. But after a little while I saw Olsen [the strike-leader] standing all by himself in a cleared[108] place. (A shiver runs through her at the recollection.) Once I saw a picture of an execution in a prison yard.... It lasted only a few seconds. Then Olsen said a few words to his comrades and walked away, looking white as a ghost. The crowd opened up to let him pass through. Then the rest stood there for a while looking so strangely depressed and not knowing what to do. And at last they went in, one by one, bent and broken.

Mikkelsen:—Olsen wasn’t allowed to go back to work?

Mrs. Lynggaard:—It was he who had been their leader, and it was his fault that they had held out as long as they did. And then Olsen began to look for work elsewhere, but none of the other companies would have anything to do with him.

Mikkelsen (shrugging his shoulders):—War is war.

Mrs. Lynggaard:—A few months later, as I was taking a walk, I was stopped on the street by Olsen’s wife. I tell you, the way she looked made my heart shrink within me. Her husband was completely broken down, she told me. And on top of it all he had taken to drink. Everything she and the children could scrape together, he spent on whiskey. She herself was so far gone with her eighth child that she would soon have to quit work.... Then I went home to my husband and begged and prayed him to take Olsen back and make a man of him again. It was the first time during our marriage that I saw him beside himself with rage. There came into his eyes such an evil expression that I wish I had never seen it, for I have never since been able to forget it entirely. But, of course, I guessed who was back of it. (With emphasis.) Then I did the most humiliating thing I have ever done: I went in secret to Heymann and pleaded for that discharged workman.


Mikkelsen:—Well, and Heymann?

Mrs. Lynggaard:—Since that moment I hate Heymann. There I was, humbling myself before him. And he measured me with cold eyes and said: “If I am to be in charge of this plant, madam, I must ask once for all and absolutely, that no outsiders interfere with the running of it.”

Mikkelsen:—I don’t see that he could have done anything else.

Mrs. Lynggaard:—What I cannot forgive myself is that I let myself be imposed upon by that man. I behaved like a coward. At that moment I should have gone to my husband and said: “This is what has happened—now you must choose between Heymann and me!” But I was so cowardly, that I didn’t even tell my husband what I had done.

Mikkelsen:—Nor was it proper for you to go behind your husband’s back like that.

Mrs. Lynggaard (with an expression of abject horror in her fixed gaze):—A little afterwards this thing happened. It was one of the first warm summer days, and I was walking in the garden with Jacob. At that time a splendid old chestnut tree was growing in one corner. And there, in the midst of green leaves, and singing birds, Olsen was hanging, cold and dead. And the flies were crawling in and out of his face.... (She trembles visibly.)

Mikkelsen:—Yes, life is cruel.

Mrs. Lynggaard:—And there I perceived for the first time how utterly poor a human being may become. Anything so pitiful and miserable I had never seen before. There was no sign of underclothing between his trousers and the vest. And I don’t know why, but it seemed[110] almost as if this was what hurt me most—much more than that he had hanged himself.... And since that day I haven’t known a single hour of happiness.

My Religion

By Leo Tolstoy

(From an essay in which the Russian novelist and reformer, 1828-1910, has set forth the creed by which he lived)

What is the law of nature? Is it to know that my security and that of my family, all my amusements and pleasures, are purchased at the expense of misery, deprivation, and suffering to thousands of human beings—by the terror of the gallows; by the misfortune of thousands stifling within prison walls; by the fears inspired by millions of soldiers and guardians of civilization, torn from their homes and besotted by discipline, to protect our pleasures with loaded revolvers against the possible interference of the famishing! Is it to purchase every fragment of bread that I put in my mouth and the mouths of my children by the numberless privations that are necessary to procure my abundance? Or is it to be certain that my piece of bread only belongs to me when I know that everyone else has a share, and that no one starves while I eat?


The Octopus[I]

By Frank Norris

(The young American novelist, 1870-1902, planned this as the first of a trilogy of novels, the “Epic of the Wheat.” The second volume, “The Pit,” was written, but his death interrupted the third. The present story narrates the long struggle between the farmers of the San Joaquin valley and the railroad “octopus.” The farmers have been beaten, and several of them killed while resisting eviction from their homes. The hero is at a dinner party in San Francisco, at the same time that the widow and child of one of the victims are wandering the streets outside)

All around the table conversations were going forward gayly. The good wines had broken up the slight restraint of the early part of the evening and a spirit of good humor and good fellowship prevailed. Young Lambery and Mr. Gerard were deep in reminiscences of certain mutual duck-shooting expeditions. Mrs. Gerard and Mrs. Cedarquist discussed a novel—a strange mingling of psychology, degeneracy, and analysis of erotic conditions—which had just been translated from the Italian. Stephen Lambert and Beatrice disputed over the merits of a Scotch collie just given to the young lady. The scene was gay, the electric bulbs sparkled, the wine flashing back the light. The entire table was a vague glow of white napery, delicate china, and glass as brilliant as crystal. Behind the guests the serving-men came and went, filling the glasses continually, changing the covers, serving the entrées, managing the dinner without interruption, confusion, or the slightest unnecessary noise.

But Presley could find no enjoyment in the occasion. [112]From that picture of feasting, that scene of luxury, that atmosphere of decorous, well-bred refinement, his thoughts went back to Los Muertos and Quien Sabe and the irrigating ditch at Hooven’s. He saw them fall, one by one, Harran, Annixter, Osterman, Broderson, Hooven. The clink of the wine glasses was drowned in the explosion of revolvers. The Railroad might indeed be a force only, which no man could control and for which no man was responsible, but his friends had been killed, but years of extortion and oppression had wrung money from all the San Joaquin, money that had made possible this very scene in which he found himself. Because Magnus had been beggared, Gerard had become Railroad King; because the farmers of the valley were poor, these men were rich.

The fancy grew big in his mind, distorted, caricatured, terrible. Because the farmers had been killed at the irrigating ditch, these others, Gerard and his family, fed full. They fattened on the blood of the People, on the blood of the men who had been killed at the ditch. It was a half-ludicrous, half-horrible “dog eat dog,” an unspeakable cannibalism. Harran, Annixter, and Hooven were being devoured there under his eyes. These dainty women, his cousin Beatrice and little Miss Gerard, frail, delicate; all these fine ladies with their small fingers and slender necks, suddenly were transfigured in his tortured mind into harpies tearing human flesh. His head swam with the horror of it, the terror of it. Yes, the People would turn some day, and, turning, rend those who now preyed upon them. It would be “dog eat dog” again, with positions reversed, and he saw for an instant of time that splendid house sacked to its foundations, the tables overturned, the pictures torn, the hangings blazing, and[113] Liberty, the red-handed Man in the Street, grimed with powder smoke, foul with the gutter, rush yelling, torch in hand, through every door.

At ten o’clock Mrs. Hooven fell.

Luckily she was leading Hilda by the hand at the time and the little girl was not hurt. In vain had Mrs. Hooven, hour after hour, walked the streets. After a while she no longer made any attempt to beg; nobody was stirring, nor did she even try to hunt for food with the stray dogs and cats. She had made up her mind to return to the park in order to sit upon the benches there, but she had mistaken the direction, and, following up Sacramento Street, had come out at length, not upon the park, but upon a great vacant lot at the very top of the Clay Street hill. The ground was unfenced and rose above her to form the cap of the hill, all overgrown with bushes and a few stunted live-oaks. It was in trying to cross this piece of ground that she fell....

“You going to sleep, mammy?” inquired Hilda, touching her face.

Mrs. Hooven roused herself a little.

“Hey? Vat you say? Asleep? Yais, I guess I wass asleep.”

Her voice trailed unintelligibly to silence again. She was not, however, asleep. Her eyes were open. A grateful numbness had begun to creep over her, a pleasing semi-insensibility. She no longer felt the pain and cramps of her stomach, even the hunger was ceasing to bite.

“These stuffed artichokes are delicious, Mrs. Gerard,” murmured young Lambert, wiping his lips with a corner[114] of his napkin. “Pardon me for mentioning it, but your dinner must be my excuse.”

“And this asparagus—since Mr. Lambert has set the bad example,” observed Mrs. Cedarquist, “so delicate, such an exquisite flavor. How do you manage?”

“We get all our asparagus from the southern part of the State, from one particular ranch,” explained Mrs. Gerard. “We order it by wire and get it only twenty hours after cutting. My husband sees to it that it is put on a special train. It stops at this ranch just to take on our asparagus. Extravagant, isn’t it, but I simply can not eat asparagus that has been cut more than a day.”

“Nor I,” exclaimed Julian Lambert, who posed as an epicure. “I can tell to an hour just how long asparagus has been picked.”

“Fancy eating ordinary market asparagus,” said Mrs. Gerard, “that has been fingered by Heaven knows how many hands.”

“Mammy, mammy, wake up,” cried Hilda, trying to push open Mrs. Hooven’s eyelids, at last closed. “Mammy, don’t. You’re just trying to frighten me.”

Feebly Hilda shook her by the shoulder. At last Mrs. Hooven’s lips stirred. Putting her head down, Hilda distinguished the whispered words:

“I’m sick. Go to schleep.... Sick.... Noddings to eat.”

The dessert was a wonderful preparation of alternate layers of biscuit, glacés, ice cream, and candied chestnuts.

“Delicious, is it not?” observed Julian Lambert, partly to himself, partly to Miss Cedarquist. “This Moscovite fouetté—upon my word, I have never tasted its equal.”


“And you should know, shouldn’t you?” returned the young lady.

“Mammy, mammy, wake up,” cried Hilda. “Don’t sleep so. I’m frightened.”

Repeatedly she shook her; repeatedly she tried to raise the inert eyelids with the point of her finger. But her mother no longer stirred. The gaunt, lean body, with its bony face and sunken eye-sockets, lay back, prone upon the ground, the feet upturned and showing the ragged, worn soles of the shoes, the forehead and gray hair beaded with fog, the poor, faded bonnet awry, the poor, faded dress soiled and torn.

Hilda drew close to her mother, kissing her face, twining her arms around her neck. For a long time she lay that way, alternately sobbing and sleeping. Then, after a long time, there was a stir. She woke from a doze to find a police officer and two or three other men bending over her. Some one carried a lantern. Terrified, smitten dumb, she was unable to answer the questions put to her. Then a woman, evidently the mistress of the house on the top of the hill, arrived and took Hilda in her arms and cried over her.

“I’ll take the little girl,” she said to the police officer. “But the mother, can you save her? Is she too far gone?”

“I’ve sent for a doctor,” replied the other.

Just before the ladies left the table, young Lambert raised his glass of Madeira. Turning towards the wife of the Railroad King, he said:

“My best compliments for a delightful dinner.”


The doctor, who had been bending over Mrs. Hooven, rose.

“It’s no use,” he said; “she has been dead some time—exhaustion from starvation.”

By Anatole France

The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.

Progress and Poverty

By Henry George

(One of the most widely-read treatises upon economics ever published, this book was the fountain head of the single-tax movement. The writer was a California journalist, 1839-1897, who devoted all his life to the propaganda of economic justice)

Unpleasant as it may be to admit it, it is at last becoming evident that the enormous increase in productive power which has marked the present century and is still going on with accelerating ratio, has no tendency to extirpate poverty or to lighten the burdens of those compelled to toil. It simply widens the gulf between Dives and Lazarus, and makes the struggle for existence more intense. The march of invention has clothed mankind with powers of which a century ago the boldest imagination could not have dreamed. But in factories where labor-saving machinery has reached its most wonderful development, little children are at work; wherever the new forces are anything like fully[117] utilized, large classes are maintained by charity or live on the verge of recourse to it; amid the greatest accumulations of wealth, men die of starvation, and puny infants suckle dry breasts; while everywhere the greed of gain, the worship of wealth, shows the force of the fear of want. The promised land flies before us like the mirage. The fruits of the tree of knowledge turn, as we grasp them, to apples of Sodom that crumble at the touch....

This association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our times. It is the central fact from which spring industrial, social, and political difficulties that perplex the world, and with which statesmanship and philanthropy and education grapple in vain. From it come the clouds that overhang the future of the most progressive and self-reliant nations. It is the riddle which the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, and which not to answer is to be destroyed. So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent. The reaction must come. The tower leans from its foundations, and every new story but hastens the final catastrophe. To educate men who must be condemned to poverty, is but to make them restive; to base on a state of most glaring social inequality political institutions under which men are theoretically equal, is to stand a pyramid on its apex.



The Outcast

The life of the underworld, of those thrown upon the scrap-heap of the modern industrial machine; vivid and powerful passages portraying the lives of tramps, criminals and prostitutes.


Not Guilty

By Robert Blatchford

(See page 66)

In defending the Bottom Dog I do not deal with hard science only; but with the dearest faiths, the oldest wrongs and the most awful relationships of the great human family, for whose good I strive and to whose judgment I appeal. Knowing, as I do, how the hard-working and hard-playing public shun laborious thinking and serious writing, and how they hate to have their ease disturbed or their prejudices handled rudely, I still make bold to undertake this task, because of the vital nature of the problems I shall probe.

The case for the Bottom Dog should touch the public heart to the quick, for it affects the truth of our religions, the justice of our laws and the destinies of our children and our children’s children. Much golden eloquence has been squandered in praise of the successful and the good; much stern condemnation has been vented upon the wicked. I venture now to plead for those of our poor brothers and sisters who are accursed of Christ and rejected of men.

Hitherto all the love, all the honors, all the applause of this world, and all the rewards of heaven, have been lavished on the fortunate and the strong; and the portion of the unfriended Bottom Dog, in his adversity and weakness, has been curses, blows, chains, the gallows and everlasting damnation. I shall plead, then, for those who are loathed and tortured and branded as the sinful and unclean; for those who have hated us and wronged[122] us, and have been wronged and hated by us. I shall defend them for right’s sake, for pity’s sake and for the benefit of society and the race. For these also are of our flesh, these also have erred and gone astray, these also are victims of an inscrutable and relentless Fate.

If it concerns us that the religions of the world are childish dreams or nightmares; if it concerns us that our penal laws and moral codes are survivals of barbarism and fear; if it concerns us that our most cherished and venerable ideas of our relations to God and to each other are illogical and savage, then the case for the Bottom Dog concerns us nearly.

If it moves us to learn that disease may be prevented, that ruin may be averted, that broken hearts and broken lives may be made whole; if it inspires us to hear how beauty may be conjured out of loathsomeness and glory out of shame; how waste may be turned to wealth and death to life, and despair to happiness, then the case for the Bottom Dog is a case to be well and truly tried.

Moleskin Joe[J]

(From “Children of the Dead End”)

By Patrick MacGill

(See pages 32, 47)

’Twas towards the close of a fine day on the following summer that we were at work in the dead end of a cutting, Moleskin and I, when I, who had been musing on the quickly passing years, turned to Moleskin and quoted a line from the Bible.


“Our years pass like a tale that is told,” I said.

“Like a tale that is told damned bad,” answered my mate, picking stray crumbs of tobacco from his waistcoat pocket and stuffing them into the heel of his pipe. “It’s a strange world, Flynn. Here today, gone tomorrow; always waiting for a good time comin’ and knowin’ that it will never come. We work with one mate this evenin’, we beg for crumbs with another on the mornin’ after. It’s a bad life, ours, and a poor one, when I come to think of it, Flynn.”

“It is all that,” I assented heartily.

“Look at me!” said Joe, clenching his fists and squaring his shoulders. “I must be close on forty years, maybe on the graveyard side of it, for all I know. I’ve horsed it ever since I can mind; I’ve worked like a mule for years, and what have I to show for it all today, matey? Not the price of an ounce of tobacco! A midsummer scarecrow wouldn’t wear the duds that I’ve to wrap around my hide! A cockle-picker that has no property only when the tide is out is as rich as I am. Not the price of an ounce of tobacco! There is something wrong with men like us, surely, when we’re treated like swine in a sty for all the years of our life. It’s not so bad here, but it’s in the big towns that a man can feel it most. No person cares for the like of us, Flynn. I’ve worked nearly ev’rywhere; I’ve helped to build bridges, dams, houses, ay, and towns! When they were finished, what happened? Was it for us—the men who did the buildin’—to live in the homes that we built, or walk through the streets that we laid down? No earthly chance of that! It was always, ‘Slide! we don’t need you any more,’ and then a man like me, as helped to build a thousand houses big as castles, was hellish glad to get[124] the shelter of a ten-acre field and a shut-gate between me and the winds of night. I’ve spent all my money, have I? It’s bloomin’ easy to spend all that fellows like us can earn. When I was in London I saw a lady spend as much on fur to decorate her carcase with as would keep me in beer and tobacco for all the rest of my life. And that same lady would decorate a dog in ribbons and fol-the-dols, and she wouldn’t give me the smell of a crust when I asked her for a mouthful of bread. What could you expect from a woman who wears the furry hide of some animal round her neck, anyhow? We are not thought as much of as dogs, Flynn. By God! them rich buckos do eat an awful lot. Many a time I crept up to a window just to see them gorgin’ themselves.”

“I have looked in at windows too,” I said.

“Most men do,” answered Joe. “You’ve heard of old Moses goin’ up the hill to have a bit peep at the Promist Land. He was just like me and you, Flynn, wantin’ to have a peep at the things which he’d never lay his claws on.”

“Those women who sit half-naked at the table have big appetites,” I said.

“They’re all gab and guts, like young crows,” said Moleskin. “And they think more of their dogs than they do of men like me and you. I’m an Antichrist!”

“A what?”

“One of them sort of fellows as throws bombs at kings.”

“You mean an Anarchist.”

“Well, whatever they are, I’m one. What is the good of kings, of fine-feathered ladies, of churches, of anything in the country, to men like me and you?”


The Carter and the Carpenter[K]

(From “The People of the Abyss”)

By Jack London

(See page 62)

The Carter, with his clean-cut face, chin beard, and shaved upper lip, I should have taken in the United States for anything from a master workman to a well-to-do farmer. The Carpenter—well, I should have taken him for a carpenter. He looked it, lean and wiry, with shrewd, observant eyes, and hands that had grown twisted to the handles of tools through forty-seven years’ work at the trade. The chief difficulty with these men was that they were old, and that their children, instead of growing up to take care of them, had died. Their years had told on them, and they had been forced out of the whirl of industry by the younger and stronger competitors who had taken their places.

These two men, turned away from the casual ward of Whitechapel Workhouse, were bound with me for Poplar Workhouse. Not much of a show, they thought, but to chance it was all that remained to us. It was Poplar, or the streets and night. Both men were anxious for a bed, for they were “about gone,” as they phrased it. The Carter, fifty-eight years of age, had spent the last three nights without shelter or sleep, while the Carpenter, sixty-five years of age, had been out five nights.

But, O dear, soft people, full of meat and blood, with white beds and airy rooms waiting you each night, how can I make you know what it is to suffer as you would suffer if you spent a weary night on London’s streets? [126]Believe me, you would think a thousand centuries had come and gone before the east paled into dawn; you would shiver till you were ready to cry aloud with the pain of each aching muscle; and you would marvel that you could endure so much and live. Should you rest upon a bench, and your tired eyes close, depend upon it the policeman would rouse you and gruffly order you to “move on.” You may rest upon the bench, and benches are few and far between; but if rest means sleep, on you must go, dragging your tired body through the endless streets. Should you, in desperate slyness, seek some forlorn alley, or dark passage-way, and lie down, the omnipresent policeman will rout you out just the same. It is his business to rout you out. It is a law of the powers that be that you shall be routed out.

But when the dawn came, the nightmare over, you would hale you home to refresh yourself, and until you died you would tell the story of your adventure to groups of admiring friends. It would grow into a mighty story. Your little eight-hour night would become an Odyssey and you a Homer.

Not so with these homeless ones who walked to Poplar Workhouse with me. And there are thirty-five thousand of them, men and women, in London Town this night. Please don’t remember it as you go to bed; if you are as soft as you ought to be you may not rest so well as usual. But for old men of sixty, seventy, and eighty, ill-fed, with neither meat nor blood, to greet the dawn unrefreshed, and to stagger through the day in mad search for crusts, with relentless night rushing down upon them again, and to do this five nights and days—O dear, soft people, full of meat and blood, how can you ever understand?


I walked up Mile End Road between the Carter and the Carpenter. Mile End Road is a wide thoroughfare, cutting the heart of East London, and there are tens of thousands of people abroad on it. I tell you this so that you may fully appreciate what I shall describe in the next paragraph. As I say, we walked along, and when they grew bitter and cursed the land, I cursed with them, cursed as an American waif would curse, stranded in a strange and terrible land. And, as I tried to lead them to believe, and succeeded in making them believe, they took me for a “seafaring man,” who had spent his money in riotous living, lost his clothes (no unusual occurrence with seafaring men ashore), and was temporarily broke while looking for a ship. This accounted for my ignorance of English ways in general and casual wards in particular, and my curiosity concerning the same.

The Carter was hard put to keep the pace at which we walked (he told me that he had eaten nothing that day), but the Carpenter, lean and hungry, his grey and ragged overcoat flapping mournfully in the breeze, swung on in a lone and tireless stride which reminded me strongly of the plains wolf or coyote. Both kept their eyes upon the pavement as they walked and talked, and every now and then one or the other would stoop and pick something up, never missing his stride the while. I thought it was cigar and cigarette stumps they were collecting, and for some time took no notice. Then I did notice.

From the slimy, spittle-drenched sidewalk, they were picking up bits of orange peel, apple skin, and grape stems, and they were eating them. The pits of greengage plums they cracked between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked up stray crumbs of bread the size of peas, apple cores[128] so black and dirty one would not take them to be apple cores, and these things these two men took into their mouths, and chewed them, and swallowed them; and this, between six and seven o’clock in the evening of August 20, year of our Lord 1902, in the heart of the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

These two men talked. They were not fools, they were merely old. And, naturally, their guts a-reek with pavement offal, they talked of bloody revolution. They talked as anarchists, fanatics, and madmen would talk. And who shall blame them? In spite of my three good meals that day, and the snug bed I could occupy if I wished, and my social philosophy, and my evolutionary belief in the slow development and metamorphosis of things—in spite of all this, I say, I felt impelled to talk rot with them or hold my tongue. Poor fools! Not of their sort are revolutions bred. And when they are dead and dust, which will be shortly, other fools will talk bloody revolution as they gather offal from the spittle-drenched sidewalk along Mile End Road to Poplar Workhouse.

By Horace Greeley.

(American editor, 1811-1872; prominent abolitionist)

Morality and religion are but words to him who fishes in gutters for the means of sustaining life, and crouches behind barrels in the street for shelter from the cutting blasts of a winter night.


The Hunt for the Job

(From “Pay Envelopes”)

By James Oppenheim

(See page 45)

The Hunt began early next morning—the Hunt for the Job. The hunter, however, is really the hunted. Now and then he bares his skin to the unthinking blows of the world, and runs off to hide himself in the crowd. You may see him bobbing along the turbulent man-currents of Broadway, a tide-tossed derelict in the thousand-foot shadows of the sky-scrapers. The mob about him is lusty with purpose, each unit making his appointed place, the morning rush to work bearing the stenographer to her machine, the broker to his ticker, the ironworker to his sky-dangling beam. In the mighty machine of the city each has his place, each is provided for, each gets the glow of sharing in the world’s work. The morning rush, splashed at street crossings with the gold of the Eastern sun, is rippled with fresh eyes and busy lips. They are all in the machine. But our young man crouching in a corner of the crowded car is not of these; slinking down Broadway he is aware that the machine has thrown him out and he cannot get in. He is an exile in the midst of his own people. The sense of loneliness and inferiority eats the heart out of the breast; the good of life is gone; the blackness soaks across the city and into his home, his love, his soul.

Some go bitter and are for throwing bombs; some despair and are for wiping themselves away; some—the rank and file—are for fighting to the last ditch. Peter pendulated between all three of these moods. In ordi[130]nary times he would have been all fight; in these hard times, drenched with the broadcast hopelessness of men, he knew he was foredoomed to defeat. Only a miracle could save him.

Trudging up Seventy-ninth Street to Third Avenue, fresh with Annie’s kiss and the baby’s pranks, he had the last bit of daring dashed out of him by a strange throng of men. Before a small Hebrew synagogue, packed in the deep area were forty unemployed workers, jammed crowd-thick against the windows and gate. It was fresh weather, not cold, yet the men shivered. Their bodies had for long been unwarmed by sufficient food or clothing; there was a grayness about them as of famished wolves; their lips and fingers were blue; they were unshaved and frowzy with some vile sleeping place. Hard times had blotched the city with a myriad of such groups. And as Peter stopped and imagined himself driven at last among them, he saw a burly fellow emerge from the house and begin handing out charity bowls of hot coffee and charity bread. Peter, independent American workman, was stung at the sight; the souls of these workers were somehow being outraged; they were eating out of the hands of the comfortable, like so many gutter dogs.

The rest of the morning Peter dared now and then to present himself at an office to ask work. At some places he tried boldness, at others meekness, and at last he begged, “For God’s sake, I have a wife and baby—” He met with various receptions at the hands of clerks, office boys, and bosses. A few were sorry, some turned their backs, the rest hurried him out. Each refusal, each “not wanted in the scheme of things,” shot him out into the streets, stripped of another bit of self-reliance.[131] In spite of himself, he began to feel his poor appearance, his drooping lip, his broken purpose. He was a failure and the world could not use him. He hardly dared to look a man in the eyes, to lift his voice above a whisper, to make a demand, to dare a refusal. He slunk home at last like a cowed and beaten animal.

The Unemployable

(From “The Workers”)

By Walter A. Wyckoff

(A professor in Princeton University who went out and lived for long periods as a laborer, in order to know the facts of industry at first hand)

Many of the men were so weakened by the want and hardship of the winter that they were no longer in condition for effective labor. Some of the bosses who were in need of added hands were obliged to turn men away because of physical incapacity. One instance of this I shall not soon forget. It was when I overheard, early one morning, at a factory gate, an interview between a would-be laborer and the boss. I knew the applicant for a Russian Jew, who had at home an old mother and a wife and two young children to support. He had had intermittent employment throughout the winter in a sweater’s den, barely enough to keep them all alive, and, after the hardships of the cold season, he was again in desperate straits for work.

The boss had all but agreed to take him on for some sort of unskilled labor, when, struck by the cadaverous look of the man, he told him to bare his arm. Up went[132] the sleeve of his coat and his ragged flannel shirt, exposing a naked arm with the muscles nearly gone, and the blue-white transparent skin stretched over sinews and the outline of the bones. Pitiful beyond words were his efforts to give a semblance of strength to the biceps which rose faintly to the upward movement of the forearm. But the boss sent him off with an oath and a contemptuous laugh, and I watched the fellow as he turned down the street, facing the fact of his starving family with a despair at his heart which only mortal man can feel and no mortal tongue can speak.

The Bread Line

By Berton Braley

(Contemporary American poet)

Well, here they are—they stand and stamp and shiver
Waiting their food from some kind stranger hand,
Their weary limbs with eagerness a-quiver
Hungry and heartsick in a bounteous land.
“Beggars and bums?” Perhaps, and largely worthless.
Shaky with drink, unlovely, craven, low,
With obscene tongues and hollow laughter mirthless;
But who shall give them scorn for being so?
Yes, here they are—with gaunt and pallid faces,
With limbs ill-clad and fingers stiff and blued,
Shuffling and stamping on their pavement places,
Waiting and watching for their bit of food.
We boast of vast achievements and of power,
Of human progress knowing no defeat,
Of strange new marvels every day and hour—
And here’s the bread line in the wintry street!
Ten thousand years of war and peace and glory,
Of hope and work and deeds and golden schemes,
Of mighty voices raised in song and story,
Of huge inventions and of splendid dreams;
Ten thousand years replete with every wonder,
Of empires risen and of empires dead;
Yet still, while wasters roll in swollen plunder,
These broken men must stand in line—for bread!

The Unemployed Problem

(From “Past and Present”)

By Thomas Carlyle

(See pages 31, 74)

And truly this first practical form of the Sphinx-question, inarticulately and so audibly put there, is one of the most impressive ever asked in the world. “Behold us here, so many thousands, millions, and increasing at the rate of fifty every hour. We are right willing and able to work; and on the Planet Earth is plenty of work and wages for a million times as many. We ask, If you mean to lead us towards work; to try to lead us,—by ways new, never yet heard of till this new unheard-of Time? Or if you declare that you can[134]not lead us? And expect that we are to remain quietly unled, and in a composed manner perish of starvation? What is it you expect of us? What is it you mean to do with us?” This question, I say, has been put in the hearing of all Britain; and will be again put, and ever again, till some answer be given it.

An Answer

By William Howard Taft

(Ex-president of the United States; born 1857)

“What is a man to do who is starving, and cannot find work?”

“God knows.”

The Parish Workhouse

By George Crabbe

(See page 29)

Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor,
Whose walls of mud scarce bear the broken door;
There, where the putrid vapors flagging play,
And the dull wheel hums doleful through the day;
There children dwell who know no parents’ care;
Parents, who know no children’s love, dwell there;
Heart-broken matrons on their joyless bed,
Forsaken wives and mothers never wed;
Dejected widows with unheeded tears,
And crippled age with more than childhood-fears;
The lame, the blind, and—far the happiest they!—
The moping idiot and the madman gay.
Here too the sick their final doom receive,
Here brought amid the scenes of grief to grieve,
Where the loud groans from some sad chamber flow,
Mixed with the clamors of the crowd below;
Here, sorrowing, they each kindred sorrow scan,
And the cold charities of man to man:
Whose laws indeed for ruined age provide,
And strong compulsion plucks the scrap from pride;
But still that scrap is bought with many a sigh,
And pride imbitters what it can’t deny.
Say ye, oppressed by some fantastic woes,
Some jarring nerve that baffles your repose;
Who press the downy couch while slaves advance
With timid eye, to read the distant glance;
Who with sad prayers the weary doctor tease,
To name the nameless ever-new disease;
Who with mock patience dire complaints endure,
Which real pain and that alone can cure:
How would ye bear in real pain to lie,
Despised, neglected, left alone to die?
How would ye bear to draw your latest breath
Where all that’s wretched paves the way for death?

By Kenkō Hoshi

(Japanese Buddhist priest of the Fourteenth Century)

It is desirable for a ruler that no man should suffer from cold and hunger under his rule. Man cannot maintain his standard of morals when he has no ordinary means of living.


The Bread of Affliction

(From “Children of the Ghetto”)

By Israel Zangwill

(English poet and novelist, born 1864; has written with tenderness and charm of the struggles of Judaism in contact with modern commercialism)

At half-past five the stable-doors were thrown open, and the crowd pressed through a long, narrow white-washed stone corridor into a barn-like compartment, with a white-washed ceiling traversed by wooden beams. Within this compartment, and leaving but a narrow circumscribing border, was a sort of cattle-pen, into which the paupers crushed, awaiting amid discomfort and universal jabber the divine moment. The single jet of gas-light depending from the ceiling flared upon the strange simian faces, and touched them into a grotesque picturesqueness that would have delighted Doré.

They felt hungry, these picturesque people; their near and dear ones were hungering at home. Voluptuously savoring in imagination the operation of the soup, they forgot its operation as a dole in aid of wages; were unconscious of the grave economical possibilities of pauperization and the rest, and quite willing to swallow their independence with the soup. Even Esther, who had read much, and was sensitive, accepted unquestioningly the theory of the universe that was held by most people about her, that human beings were distinguished from animals in having to toil terribly for a meagre crust, but that their lot was lightened by the existence of a small and semi-divine class called Takeefim, or rich people, who gave away what they didn’t want. How these rich[137] people came to be, Esther did not inquire; they were as much a part of the constitution of things as clouds and horses. The semi-celestial variety was rarely to be met with. It lived far away from the Ghetto, and a small family of it was said to occupy a whole house. Representatives of it, clad in rustling silks or impressive broad-cloth, and radiating an indefinable aroma of super-humanity, sometimes came to the school, preceded by the beaming Head Mistress; and then all the little girls rose and curtseyed, and the best of them, passing as average members of the class, astonished the semi-divine persons by their intimate acquaintance with the topography of the Pyrenees and the disagreements of Saul and David, the intercourse of the two species ending in effusive smiles and general satisfaction. But the dullest of the girls was alive to the comedy, and had a good-humored contempt for the unworldliness of the semi-divine persons, who spoke to them as if they were not going to recommence squabbling, and pulling one another’s hair, and copying one another’s sums, and stealing one another’s needles, the moment the semi-celestial backs were turned.




(American Socialist cartoonist, born 1870)




(American sculptor, born 1878)

No. 5 John Street

By Richard Whiteing

(English author and journalist, born 1840. The volume here quoted is one of the most amazing pictures of slum-life ever penned)

After midnight the gangs return in carousal from the gin shops, the more thoughtful of them with stored liquor for the morning draft. Now it is three stages of man—no more: man gushing, confiding, uplifted, as he[138] feels the effect of the lighter fumes; disputatious, quarrelsome, as the heavier mount in a second brew of hell; raging with wrath and hate, as the very dregs send their emanations to the tortured brain.

The embrace, the wrangle, and the blow—this is the order of succession. Till one—to mark it by the clock—we sing, “‘Art to ‘art an’ ‘and to ‘and.” At about one forty-five you may expect the tribal row between the gangs, who prey on one another for recreation, and on society for a living. Our brutes read the current gospel of the survival of the fittest in their own way, and they dimly apprehend that mankind is still organized as a predatory horde. The ever-open door brings us much trouble from the outside. The unlighted staircase is a place of rendezvous, and, not unfrequently, of deadly quarrel, in undertones of concentrated fury, between wretches who seek seclusion for the work of manslaughter. Our latest returning inmate, the other night, stumbled over the body of a woman not known at No. 5. She had been kicked to death within sight and sound of lodgers who, believing it to be a matrimonial difference, held interference to be no business of theirs.

The first thud of war between the “Hooligans” is generally for two sharp. The seconds set to, along with their principals, as in the older duel. For mark that in most things we are as our betters were just so many centuries ago, and are simply belated with our flint age. And now our shapelier waves of sound break into a mere foam of oath and shriek. At times there is an interval of silence more awful than the tumult; and you may know that the knife is at its silent work, and that the whole meaner conflict is suspended for an episode of tragedy. If it is a hospital case, it closes the celebra[139]tion. If it is not, the entertainment probably dies out in a slanging match between two of the fair; and the unnamable in invective and vituperation rises, as in blackest vapor, from our pit to the sky. At this, every room that holds a remnant of decency closes its window, and all withdraw, except, perhaps, the little boys and girls, who are beginning to pair according to the laws of the ooze and of the slime....

Night in the Slums[L]

(From “The People of the Abyss”)

By Jack London

(See pages 62, 125)

I was glad the keepers were there, for I did not have on my “seafaring” clothes, and I was what is called a “mark” for the creatures of prey that prowled up and down. At times, between keepers, these males looked at me sharply, hungrily, gutter-wolves that they were, and I was afraid of their hands, of their naked hands, as one may be afraid of the paws of a gorilla. They reminded me of gorillas. Their bodies were small, ill-shaped, and squat. There were no swelling muscles, no abundant thews and wide-spreading shoulders. They exhibited, rather, an elemental economy of nature, such as the cave-men must have exhibited. But there was strength in those meagre bodies, the ferocious, primordial strength to clutch and tear and gripe and rend. When they spring upon their human prey they are known even to bend the victim backward and double its body till[140] the back is broken. They possess neither conscience nor sentiment, and they will kill for half a sovereign, without fear or favor....

The dear soft people of the golden theatres and wonder-mansions of the West End do not see these creatures, do not dream that they exist. But they are here, alive, very much alive in their jungle. And woe the day when England is fighting in her last trench, and her able-bodied men are on the firing line! For on that day they will crawl out of their dens and lairs, and the people of the West End will see them, as the dear soft aristocrats of Feudal France saw them and asked one another, “Whence come they?” “Are they men?”

But they were not the only beasts that ranged the menagerie. They were only here and there, lurking in dark courts and passing like grey shadows along the walls; but the women from whose rotten loins they spring were everywhere. They whined insolently, and in maudlin tones begged me for pennies, and worse. They held carouse in every boozing den, slatternly, unkempt, bleary-eyed, and tousled, leering and gibbering, overspilling with foulness and corruption, and, gone in debauch, sprawling across benches and bars, unspeakably repulsive, fearful to look upon.

And there were others, strange, weird faces and forms and twisted monstrosities that shouldered me on every side, inconceivable types of sodden ugliness, the wrecks of society, the perambulating carcasses, the living deaths—women, blasted by disease and drink till their shame brought not tuppence in the open mart; and men, in fantastic rags, wrenched by hardship and exposure out of all semblance of men, their faces in a perpetual writhe of pain, grinning idiotically, shambling like apes, dying[141] with every step they took and every breath they drew. And there were young girls, of eighteen and twenty, with trim bodies and faces yet untouched with twist and bloat, who had fetched the bottom of the Abyss plump, in one swift fall. And I remember a lad of fourteen, and one of six or seven, white-faced and sickly, homeless, the pair of them, who sat upon the pavement with their backs against a railing and watched it all....

The unfit and the unneeded! The miserable and despised and forgotten, dying in the social shambles. The progeny of prostitution—of the prostitution of men and women and children, of flesh and blood, and sparkle and spirit; in brief, the prostitution of labor. If this is the best that civilization can do for the human, then give us howling and naked savagery. Far better to be a people of the wilderness and desert, of the cave and the squatting place, than to be a people of the machine and the Abyss.

A Night’s Lodging

By Maxim Gorky

(A true voice of the Russian masses, born 1868; by turns peddler, scullery-boy, baker’s assistant and tramp, he became all at once the most widely known of Russian writers. In this play he has portrayed the misery of the outcasts of his country. The scene is in the cellar of an inn, the haunt of thieves and tramps. Luka, the aged pilgrim, is talking to a young girl)

Luka:—Treat everyone with friendliness—injure no one.

Natasha:—How good you are, grandfather! How is it that you are so good?


Luka:—I am good, you say. Nyah—if it is true, all right. But you see, my girl—there must be some one to be good. We must have pity on mankind. Christ, remember, had pity for us all and so taught us. Have pity when there is still time, believe me, that is right. I was once, for example, employed as a watchman, at a country place which belonged to an engineer, not far from the city of Tomsk, in Siberia. The house stood in the middle of the forest, an out-of-the-way location; and it was winter and I was all alone in the country house. It was beautiful there—magnificent! And once—I heard them scrambling up!


Luka:—Yes. They crept higher, and I took my rifle and went outside. I looked up—two men, opening a window, and so busy that they did not see anything of me at all. I cried to them: Hey, there, get out of that! And would you think it, they fell on me with a hand ax! I warned them. Halt, I cried, or else I fire! Then I aimed first at one and then at the other. They fell on their knees saying, Pardon us! I was pretty hot—on account of the hand ax, you remember. You devils, I cried, I told you to clear out and you didn’t! And now, I said, one of you go into the brush and get a switch. It was done. And now, I commanded, one of you stretch out on the ground, and the other thrash him. And so they whipped each other at my command. And when they had each had a sound beating, they said to me: Grandfather, said they, for the sake of Christ give us a piece of bread. We haven’t a bite in our bodies. They, my daughter, were the thieves who had fallen upon me with the hand ax. Yes, they were a pair of splendid fellows. I said to them, If you had asked for bread![143] Then they answered: We had gotten past that. We had asked and asked, and nobody would give us anything. Endurance was worn out. Nyah—and so they remained with me the whole winter. One of them, Stephen by name, liked to take the rifle and go into the woods. And the other, Jakoff, was constantly ill, always coughing. The three of us watched the place, and when spring came, they said, Farewell, grandfather, and went away—to Russia.

Natasha:—Were they convicts, escaping?

Luka:—They were fugitives—they had left their colony. A pair of splendid fellows. If I had not had pity on them—who knows what would have happened? They might have killed me. Then they would be taken to court again, put in prison, sent back to Siberia—why all that? You can learn nothing good in prison, nor in Siberia. But a man, what can he not learn!

The Menagerie

(Night in a County Workhouse)

By Upton Sinclair

Oh come, ye lords and ladies of the realm,
Come from your couches soft, your perfumed halls,
Come watch with me throughout the weary hours.
Here are there sounds to thrill your jaded nerves,
Such as the cave-men, your forefathers, heard,
Crouching in forests of primeval night;
Here tier on tier in steel-barred cages pent
The beasts ye breed and hunt throughout the world.
Hark to that snore—some beast that slumbers deep;
Hark to that roar—some beast that dreams of blood;
Hark to that moan—some beast that wakes and weeps;
And then in sudden stillness mark the sound—
Some beast that rasps his vermin-haunted hide!
Oh come, ye lords and ladies of the realm,
Come keep the watch with me; this show is yours.
Behold the source of all your joy and pride,
The beasts ye harness fast and set to draw
The chariots of your pageantry and pomp!
It is their blood ye shed to make your feasts,
It is their treadmill that moves all your world.
Come gather now, and think how it will be
When God shall send his flaming angel down
And break these bars—so hath he done of yore,
So doeth he to lords and ladies grand—
And loose these beasts to raven in your streets!

A Sentiment on Social Reform

By Eugene V. Debs

(American locomotive engineer; born 1855; president of his union, and later the best known of American Socialist lecturers)

While there is a lower class, I am in it.
While there is a criminal element, I am of it.
While there is a soul in jail, I am not free.


The “Solitary”

(From “My Life in Prison”)

By Donald Lowrie

(The writer of this picture of prison life, after serving a sentence of fifteen years in San Quentin, has become one of the leaders in the prison reform movement in California)

He was a thin young man of medium height, with long, straggly blonde hair and beard. He was garbed in a ragged suit of dirty stripes. His steel-gray eyes blinked as though the light hurt them, and yet they were very alert, and there was a defiance, an indomitableness in their depths. They protruded slightly, as the eyes of persons who have suffered so frequently do. The lines radiating from the corners bespoke mental as well as physical distress, as did the spasmodic twitching of his mouth. His skin was akin to the color of a thirsty road and his garments looked as though he had not had them off for months—the knees and elbows bulged and the frayed edges of the coat curled under. I was conscious of a warring within me. I had not yet learned who he was, and still I knew I was gazing at a human creature who had been through hell....

“Treat Morrell right,” admonished the lieutenant as he withdrew from the room and left us together.

Morrell! The notorious “Ed” Morrell, about whom I had heard so much, and who had been confined in the “incorrigibles” for five years!

The majority of the prisoners, as well as the freemen, believed him innocent of the offence with which he had been charged and for which he had been subjected to[146] such awful punishment. So this man was Ed Morrell! No wonder I had been agitated....

He arose from the chair and stood dejectedly while I took the necessary measurements, and then I led the way to the back room, where the bathtub was located. I started to return to the front room for the purpose of marking his clothes, but he stopped me.

“Wait a minute,” he urged. “Wait and see what a man looks like after five years in hell. I was a husky when I went up there, hard as nails and full of red blood, but look at me now.”

While speaking, he had dropped off the outer rags, and a moment after stood nude beside the tub of warm water. The enormity of what he had suffered could not have been more forcibly demonstrated. His limbs were horribly emaciated, the knee, elbow, and shoulder bones stood out like huge knots through the drawn and yellow skin, while his ribs reminded me of the carcass of a sheep hanging in front of a butcher’s establishment. The hollows between them were deep and dark. I thought of the picture I had seen of the famine-stricken wretches of India....

“What are those scars on your back?” I asked as he sank onto his knees in the water.

“Scars,” he laughed, sardonically. “Scars? Those ain’t scars. They’re only the marks where the devil prodded me. I was in the jacket, cinched up so that I was breathing from my throat when he came and tried to make me ‘come through,’ and when I sneered at him he kicked me over the kidneys. I don’t know how many times he kicked; the first kick took my breath away and I saw black, but after they took me out of the sack I couldn’t get up, and I had running sores down here[147] for months afterwards. I ain’t right down there now; I’ve got a bad rupture, and sometimes it feels as if there was a knife being twisted around inside of me. It wouldn’t be so bad if they’d got me right, but to give a man a deal like that dead wrong is hell, let me tell you....”

As we stepped into the barber shop there was a noticeable air of expectancy. The word had passed through the prison that the new warden had released “Ed” Morrell from “solitary.” All but one of the half dozen barbers were strangers to Morrell. They had been committed to the prison after his siege of solitary confinement had begun. The one exception was old Frank, a lifer with twenty years’ service behind him....

He took a step backward and a hush fell over the little group.

“With all due respect, Ed, you’re the finest living picture of Jesus Christ that I’ve ever seen, so help me God. And, Ed,” he added, hastily, his voice breaking, “we’re all Jesus Christs, if we’d only remember it.”


By Emma Goldman

(Anarchist lecturer and writer; born in Russia, 1869)

Year after year the gates of prison hells return to the world an emaciated, deformed, will-less shipwrecked crew of humanity, with the Cain mark on their foreheads, their hopes crushed, all their natural inclinations thwarted. With nothing but hunger and inhumanity to greet them, these victims soon sink back into crime as the only possibility of existence. It is not at[148] all an unusual thing to find men and women who have spent half their lives—nay, almost their entire existence—in prison. I know a woman on Blackwell’s Island, who has been in and out thirty-eight times; and through a friend I learn that a young boy of seventeen, whom he had nursed and cared for in the Pittsburgh penitentiary, had never known the meaning of liberty. From the reformatory to the penitentiary had been the path of this boy’s life, until, broken in body, he died a victim of social revenge. These personal experiences are substantiated by extensive data giving overwhelming proof of the futility of prisons as a means of deterrence or reform.

The Prison System

(From “Resurrection”)

By Leo Tolstoy

(See pages 88, 110)

“It is just as if a problem had been set: to find the best, the surest means, of depraving the greatest number of people!” thought Nehlúdof, while getting an insight into the deeds that were being done in the prisons and halting-stations. Every year hundreds of thousands were brought to the highest pitch of depravity, and when completely depraved they were liberated to spread broadcast the moral disease they had caught in prison.

In the prisons of Tumén, Ekáterinburg, Tomsk, and at the halting-stations, Nehlúdof saw how successfully the object society seemed to have set itself was attained. Ordinary simple men holding the Russian peasant social[149] and Christian morality lost this conception, and formed a new, prison, one founded chiefly on the idea that any outrage to or violation of human beings is justifiable, if it seems profitable. After living in prison these people became conscious with the whole of their being that, judging by what was happening to themselves, all those moral laws of respect and sympathy for others which the Church and the moral teachers preach, were set aside in real life, and that therefore they, too, need not keep these laws. Nehlúdof noticed this effect of prison life in all the prisoners he knew. He learnt, during his journey, that tramps who escape into the marshes will persuade comrades to escape with them, and will then kill them and feed on their flesh. He saw a living man who was accused of this, and acknowledged the act. And the most terrible thing was, that this was not a solitary case of cannibalism, but that the thing was continually recurring.

Only by a special cultivation of vice such as was carried on in these establishments, could a Russian be brought to the state of these tramps, who excelled Nietzsche’s newest teaching, holding everything allowable and nothing forbidden, and spreading this teaching, first among the convicts and then among the people in general.

The only explanation of what was being done was that it aimed at the prevention of crime, at inspiring awe, at correcting offenders, and at dealing out to them “lawful vengeance,” as the books said. But in reality nothing in the least resembling these results came to pass. Instead of vice being put a stop to, it only spread farther; instead of being frightened, the criminals were encouraged (many a tramp returned to prison of his own free will); instead of correction, every kind of vice was systematically instilled; while the desire for vengeance, far from being[150] weakened by the measures of Government, was instilled into the people to whom it was not natural.

“Then why is it done?” Nehlúdof asked himself, and could find no answer.

From the Psalms

He hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary ... to hear the sighing of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.

Ballade of Misery and Iron

By George Carter

(Some years ago the Century Magazine received several poems from an inmate of the State penitentiary of Minnesota. Upon investigation it was found that the poet, a young Englishman, had been driven to stealing by starvation. Subsequently his pardon was procured)

Haggard faces and trembling knees,
Eyes that shine with a weakling’s hate,
Lips that mutter their blasphemies,
Murderous hearts that darkly wait:
These are they who were men of late,
Fit to hold a plow or a sword.
If a prayer this wall may penetrate,
Have pity on these my comrades, Lord!
Poets sing of life at the lees
In tender verses and delicate;
Of tears and manifold agonies—
Little they know of what they prate.
Out of this silence, passionate
Sounds a deeper, a wilder chord.
If sound be heard through the narrow grate,
Have pity on these my comrades, Lord!
Hark, that wail of the distant breeze,
Piercing ever the close-barred gate,
Fraught with torturing memories
Of eyes that kindle and lips that mate.
Ah, by the loved ones desolate,
Whose anguish never can pen record,
If thou be truly compassionate,
Have pity on these my comrades, Lord!


These are pawns that the hand of Fate
Careless sweeps from the checker-board.
Thou that know’st if the game be straight,
Have pity on these my comrades, Lord!

By Kenkō Hoshi

(See page 135)

So long as people, being ill-governed, suffer from hunger, criminals will never disappear. It is extremely unkind to punish those who, being sufferers from hunger, are compelled to violate laws.


The Red Robe

By Eugène Brieux

(French dramatist, born 1858; author of a series of powerful dramas exposing the sources of corruption in French social, political and business life. The present play has for its theme the law as a snare for the feet of the poor and friendless. The principal character is a government prosecuting attorney, driven by professional ambition and jealousy, and the nagging of his wife and daughters. A murder has been committed, and the newspapers are scolding because the criminal has not been caught. Suspicion falls upon a poor wretch of a smuggler, who is hounded and bullied into incriminating himself. At the last moment, when the case is in the hands of the jury, the prosecuting attorney’s conscience is troubled, and he realizes that he is sending an innocent man to the gallows)

Mme. Vagret:—But—these circumstances, how could you have ignored them up to now?

Vagret (his head bowed):—You think I have ignored them?—Would I dare to tell you all? I am not a bad man, you’d grant? I wouldn’t desire that anyone should suffer through my fault. Well!—Oh! but how it shames me to confess it, to say it aloud, after having confessed it to myself! Well! When I studied this case, I had got it so fixed in my head, in advance, that this fellow Etchepare was a criminal, that when an argument in his favor presented itself to my mind, I kept it away from me, shrugging my shoulders. As to the facts about which I am telling you, and from which suddenly my doubt has been born—at first I sought only to prove to myself that these facts were false, taking, in the testimony of the witnesses, only what would combat their exactness, repelling all the rest, with a frightful naiveté in my bad faith.—And in the end, to dissipate my last scruples, I said to myself, like[153] you: “It is the affair of the defense, not mine!” Listen and see to just what point the exercise of the profession of prosecutor renders us unjust and cruel; I had, myself—I had a thrill of joy at first, when I saw that the judge, in his questioning, left in the shadow the sum of those little facts. There, that is the trade! you understand, the trade! Ah! poor creatures that we are, poor creatures!

Mme. Vagret:—Possibly the jury may not condemn him?

Vagret:—It will condemn him.

Mme. Vagret:—Or that it will admit some extenuating circumstances.

Vagret:—No. I urged them too emphatically against this. Was I not ardent enough, my God! violent enough?

Mme. Vagret:—That’s true. Why should you have developed your argument with so much passion?

Vagret:—Ah! why! why! Long before the session, it was so well understood by everyone that the accused was the culprit! And then, everyone was trying to rouse my dander, trying to make me drunk! I was the spokesman for humanity, I had to reassure the country, bring peace to the family—I don’t know what all else! My first demands were comparatively moderate. But when I saw that famous advocate make the jury weep, I thought I was lost; I felt that the case was getting away from me. Contrary to my custom, I made a reply. When I stood up again, I was like a combattant who goes to meet defeat, and who fights with desperation. From that moment, Etchepare no longer existed, so to speak. I no longer had the care to defend society, or to maintain the accusation—I was fighting against that advocate; it was a tourney of orators, a contest of actors; I had to come out the conqueror at all hazards. I had to[154] convince the jury, to seize it and tear from it the “Yes” of a verdict. It was no longer a question of Etchepare, I tell you; it was a question of myself, of my vanity, of my reputation, of my honor, of my future. It’s shameful, I repeat, it’s shameful! At any cost, I wanted to avoid the acquittal which I felt was certain. And I was possessed by such a fear of not succeeding, that I employed all the arguments, good and bad—even those which consisted in representing to those frightened men their homes in flames, their loved ones assassinated. I spoke of the vengeance of God upon judges who had no severity. And all that in good faith—or rather without consciousness, in a fit of passion, in a fit of passion against the advocate whom I hated with all my forces.... The success was even greater than I could have wished; the jury is ready to obey me, and for myself, my dear—I let myself be congratulated, and I pressed the hands which were held out to me.—That’s what it is to be a prosecutor!

Mme. Vagret:—Console yourself. There are perhaps not ten men in France who would have acted otherwise.

Vagret:—You are right. Only—if one reflects, it is precisely that which is frightful.

By Kenkō Hoshi

(See pages 135, 151)

The governing class should stop their luxurious expenditures in order to help the governed class. For only when a man has been provided with the ordinary means of living, and yet steals, may he be really called a thief.


A Hanging in Prison

(From “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”)

By Oscar Wilde

(English poet and dramatist, 1856-1900, leader of the so-called “esthetes.” The poem from which these extracts are taken was the fruit of his long imprisonment, and is one of the most moving and terrible narratives in English poetry)

With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fools’ Parade;
We did not care; we knew we were
The Devil’s Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.
We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.
We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.
So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave;
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.
With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalt ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.
Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom:
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.
That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer....
We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or to give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.
For Man’s grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide
We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst
We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man’s heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!
With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From some leper in his lair.
And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman’s snare
Strangled into a scream.
And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.
There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain’s heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.
So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stairs we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.
Out into God’s sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man’s face was white with fear,
And that man’s face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.
I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners call the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by....
The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they were their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.
For where a grave had opened wide
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.
For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim;
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!...
I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in jail
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.
But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother’s life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.
This too I know—and wise it were
If each could know the same—
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.
With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!
The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair.
For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

The Punishment of Thieves

(From “Utopia”)

By Sir Thomas More

(One of the great classic Utopias, written by the English statesman, 1478-1535; executed upon Tower Hill, for opposing the will of King Henry VIII)

In this poynte, not you onlye, but also the most part of the world, be like evyll scholemaisters, which be readyer to beate, than to teache, their scholers. For great and horrible punishmentes be appointed for theves,[161] whereas much rather provision should have ben made, that there were some meanes, whereby they myght get their livyng, so that no man shoulde be dryven to this extreme necessitie, firste to steale, and then to dye.

The Turn of the Balance[M]

By Brand Whitlock

(American novelist and reformer, born 1869; for many years mayor of Toledo, Ohio, and now Minister to Belgium. The present novel is the life-story of Archie Koerner, a boy of the tenements, who is driven to crime by the evil forces of society)

“All ready, Archie.”

Jimmy Ball touched him on the shoulder. He glanced toward the open grated door, thence across the flagging to the other door, and tried to take a step. Out there he could see one or two faces thrust forward suddenly; they peered in, then hastily withdrew. He tried again to take a step, but one leg had gone to sleep, it prickled, and as he bore his weight upon it, it seemed to swell suddenly to elephantine proportions. And he seemed to have no knees at all; if he stood up he would collapse. How was he ever to walk that distance?

“Here!” said Ball. “Get on that other side of him, Warden.”

Then they started. The Reverend Mr. Hoerr, waiting by the door, had begun to read something in a strange, unnatural voice, out of a little red book he held at his breast in both his hands.


“Good-by, Archie!” they called from behind, and he turned, swayed a little, and looked back over his shoulder.

“Good-by, boys,” he said. He had a glimpse of their faces; they looked gray and ugly, worse even than they had that evening—or was it that evening when with sudden fear he had seen them crouching there behind him?

Perhaps just at the last minute the governor would change his mind. They were walking the long way to the door, six yards off. The flagging was cold to his bare feet; his slit trouser-legs flapped miserably, revealing his white calves. Walking had suddenly become laborious; he had to lift each leg separately and manage it; he walked much as that man in the rear rank of Company 21 walked. He would have liked to stop and rest an instant, but Ball and the warden walked beside him, urged him resistlessly along, each gripping him at the wrist and upper arm.

In the room outside, Archie recognized the reporters standing in the sawdust. What they were to write that night would be in the newspapers the next morning, but he would not read it. He heard Beck lock the door of the death chamber, locking it hurriedly, so that he could be in time to look on. Archie had no friend in the group of men that waited in silence, glancing curiously at him, their faces white as the whitewashed wall. The doctors held their watches in their hands. And there before him was the chair, its oil-cloth cover now removed, its cane bottom exposed. But he would have to step up on the little platform to get to it.

“No—yes, there you are, Archie, my boy!” whispered Ball. “There!”

He was in it, at last. He leaned back; then, as his[163] back touched the back of the chair, he started violently. But there were hands on his shoulders pressing him down, until he could feel his back touch the chair from his shoulders down to the very end of his spine. Some one had seized his legs, turned back the slit trousers from his calves.

“Be quick!” he heard the warden say in a scared voice. He was at his right where the switch and the indicator were.

There were hands, too, at his head, at his arms—hands all over him. He took one last look. Had the governor—? Then the leather mask was strapped over his eyes and it was dark. He could only feel and hear now—feel the cold metal on his legs, feel the moist sponge on the top of his head where the barber had shaved him, feel the leather straps binding his legs and arms to the legs and the arms of the chair, binding them tightly, so that they gave him pain, and he could not move. Helpless he lay there, and waited. He heard the loud ticking of a watch; then on the other side of him the loud ticking of another watch; fingers were at his wrists. There was no sound but the mumble of Mr. Hoerr’s voice. Then some one said:

“All ready.”

He waited a second, or an age, then, suddenly, it seemed as if he must leap from the chair, his body was swelling to some monstrous, impossible, unhuman shape; his muscles were stretched, millions of hot and dreadful needles were piercing and pricking him, a stupendous roaring was in his ears, then a million colors, colors he had never seen or imagined before, colors beyond the range of the spectra, new, undiscovered, summoned by some mysterious agency from distant corners of the[164] universe, played before his eyes. Suddenly they were shattered by a terrific explosion in his brain—then darkness.

But no, there was still sensation; a dull purple color slowly spread before him, gradually grew lighter, expanded, and with a mighty pain he struggled, groping his way in torture and torment over fearful obstacles from some far distance, remote as black stars in the cold abyss of the universe; he struggled back to life—then an appalling confusion, a grasp at consciousness; he heard the ticking of the two watches—then, through his brain there slowly trickled a thread of thought that squirmed and glowed like a white-hot wire....

A faint groan escaped the pale lips below the black leather mask, a tremor ran through the form in the chair, then it relaxed and was still.

“It’s all over.” The doctor, lifting his fingers from Archie’s wrist, tried to smile, and wiped the perspiration from his face with a handkerchief.

Some one flung up a window, and a draught of cool air sucked through the room. On the draught was borne from the death-chamber the stale odor of Russian cigarettes. And then a demoniacal roar shook the cell-house. The convicts had been awake.


The Police-Court Reporter

(From “Midstream”)

By Will Levington Comfort

(American novelist and war-correspondent, born 1878)

When I think of prisons; of the men who send other men there; of chairs of death and hangings, and of all that bring these things about—it comes to me that the City is organized hell; that there is no end to our cruelty and stupidity. I bought from door to door in city streets the stuff that makes murder; I sat in the forenoon under the corrective forces, which were quite as blindly stupid and cruel.

The women I passed in the night, appeared often in the morning. I talked to them in the nights, and heard them weep in the days; I saw them in the nights with the men who judged them in the days. Out of all that evil, there was no voice; out of all the corrective force there was no voice. The City covered us all. I was one and the other. The women thought themselves beasts; the men thought themselves men—and, voiceless between them, the City stood.

The most tragic sentence I ever heard, was from the lips of one of these women.... I talked with her through the night. She called it her work; she had an ideal about her work. Every turning in her life had been man-directed. She confessed that she had begun with an unabatable passion; that men had found her sensuousness very attractive when it was fresh. She had preserved a certain sweetness; through such stresses that the upper world would never credit. Thousands of men had come to her; all perversions, all obsessions, all mad[166]ness, and drunkenness, to her alone in this little room. She told of nights when twenty came. Yet there was something inextinguishable about her—something patient and optimistic. In the midst of it all, it was like a little girl speaking:

I wake up in the morning, and find a man beside me. I am always frightened, even yet,—until I remember. I remember who I am and what I am.... Then I try to think what he is like—what his companions called him—what he said to me. I try to remember how he looked—because you know in the morning, his face is always turned away.

Does it help you to see that we are all one?... Yet I couldn’t have seen then, trained by men and the City. I belonged to the ranks of the corrective forces in the eyes of the City—and she, to the destructive.... She would have gone to the pen, I sitting opposite waiting for something more important to make a news bulletin.... From the City’s point of view, I was at large, safe and sane....

The extreme seriousness with which men regard themselves as municipal correctives—as soldiers, lovers, monopolists—has risen for me into one of the most remarkable facts of life.

The Straight Road

By Paul Hanna

(Contemporary American poet)

They got y’, kid: they got y’—just like I said they would.
You tried to walk the narrow path,
You tried, and got an awful laugh;
And laughs are all y’ did get, kid—they got y’ good!
They never knew the little kid—the kid I used to know;
The little bare-legged girl back home,
The little kid that played alone—
They don’t know half the things I know, kid, ain’t it so?
They got y’, kid, they got y’—you know they got y’ right;
They waited till they saw y’ limp,
Then introduced y’ to the pimp—
Ah, you were down then, kid, and couldn’t fight!
I guess y’ know what some don’t know, and others know damn well—
That sweatshops don’t grow angels’ wings,
That workin’ girls is easy things,
And poverty’s the straightest road t’ Hell!

The “Cadet”

(From “The House of Bondage”)

By Reginald Wright Kauffman

(See page 53)

Wherever there is squalor seeking ease, he is there. Wherever there is distress crying for succor, discontent complaining for relief, weariness sighing for rest, there is this missionary, offering the quack salvation of his temporal church. He knows and takes subtle advantage of the Jewish sisters sent to work for the education of Jewish brothers; the Irish, the Germans, the Russians, and the Syrians ground in one or another economic mill; the restless neurotic native daughters untrained for work and spoiled for play. He is at the[168] door of the factory when it releases its white-faced women for a breath of night air; he is at the cheap lunch-room where the stenographers bolt unwholesome noonday food handed about by underpaid waitresses; he lurks around the corner for the servant and the shop-clerk. He remembers that these are girls too tired to do household work in their evenings, too untaught to find continued solace in books; that they must go out, that they must move about; and so he passes his own nights at the restaurants and theaters, the moving-picture shows, the dancing academies, the dance-halls. He may go into those stifling rooms where immigrants, long before they learn to make a half-complete sentence of what they call the American language, learn what they are told are American dances: the whirling “spiel” with blowing skirts, the “half-time waltz” with jerking hips. He may frequent the more sophisticated forms of these places, may even be seen in the more expensive cafés, or may journey into the provinces. But he scents poverty from afar.

The Priestess of Humanity

(From “A History of European Morals”)

By William E. H. Lecky

(English historian and philosopher, 1838-1903. The following much quoted passage may be said to represent the Victorian view of its subject)

Under these circumstances, there has arisen in society a figure which is certainly the most mournful, and in some respects the most awful, upon which the eye of the moralist can dwell. That unhappy being whose[169] very name is a shame to speak; who counterfeits with a cold heart the transports of affection, and submits herself as the passive instrument of lust; who is scorned and insulted as the vilest of her sex, and doomed, for the most part, to disease and abject wretchedness and an early death, appears in every age as the perpetual symbol of the degradation and sinfulness of man. Herself the supreme type of vice, she is ultimately the most efficient guardian of virtue. But for her, the unchallenged purity of countless happy homes would be polluted, and not a few who, in the pride of their untempted chastity, think of her with an indignant shudder, would have known the agony of remorse and despair. On that one degraded and ignoble form are concentrated the passions that might have filled the world with shame. She remains, while creeds and civilizations rise and fall, the eternal priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people.


By Mary Craig Sinclair

(Contemporary American writer)

Last night I woke, and in my tranquil bed
I lay, and thanked my God with fervent prayer
That I had food and warmth, a cosy chair
Beside a jolly fire, and roses red
To give my room a touch of light and grace.
And I thanked God, oh thanked Him! that my face
Was beautiful, that it was fair to men:
I thought awhile, then thanked my God again.
For yesterday, on Broadway I had walked,
And I had stopped to watch them as they stalked
Their prey; and I was glad I had no sons
To look with me upon those woeful ones—
Paint on their lips, and from a corpse their hair,
And eyes of simulated lust, astare!

The Woman of the Streets

By Robert Blatchford

(See pages 66, 121)

Consider now the outcast Jezebel of the London pavement. Fierce and cunning, and false and vile. Ghastly of visage under her paint and grease. A creature debased below the level of the brute, with the hate of a devil in her soul and the fire of hell in her eyes. Lewd of gesture, strident of voice, wanton of gaze, using language so foul as to shock the pot-house ruffian, and laughter whose sound makes the blood run cold. A dreadful spectre, shameless, heartless, reckless, and horrible. A creature whose touch is contamination, whose words burn like a flame, whose leers and ogles make the soul sick. A creature living in drunkenness and filth. A moral blight. A beast of prey who has cast down many wounded, whose victims fill the lunatic ward and the morgue; a thief, a liar, a hopeless, lost, degraded wretch, of whom it has been well said, “Her feet take hold of hell; her house is the way to the grave, going down to the chamber of death.”


In the Strand

By Arthur Symons

(English poet and critic, born 1865)

With eyes and hands and voice convulsively
She craves the bestial wages. In her face
What now is left of woman? whose lost place
Is filled with greed’s last eating agony.
She lives to be rejected and abhorred,
Like a dread thing forgotten. One by one
She hails the passers, whispers blindly; none
Heeds now the voice that had not once implored
Those alms in vain. The hour has struck for her,
And now damnation is scarce possible
Here on the earth; it waits for her in hell.
God! to be spurned of the last wayfarer
That haunts a dark street after midnight! Now
Shame’s last disgrace is hot upon her brow.

The Bridge of Sighs

By Thomas Hood

(See page 59)

One more Unfortunate
Weary of breath,
Rashly importunate,
Gone to her death!
Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care;
Fashion’d so slenderly,
Young, and so fair!
Look at her garments
Clinging like cerements;
Whilst the wave constantly
Drips from her clothing;
Take her up instantly,
Loving, not loathing.
Touch her not scornfully;
Think of her mournfully,
Gently and humanly;
Not of the stains of her—
All that remains of her
Now is pure womanly.
Make no deep scrutiny
Into her mutiny
Rash and undutiful:
Past all dishonor,
Death has left on her
Only the beautiful.
Still, for all slips of hers,
One of Eve’s family—
Wipe those poor lips of hers
Oozing so clammily.
Loop up her tresses
Escaped from the comb,
Her fair auburn tresses;
Whilst wonderment guesses
Where was her home?
Who was her father?
Who was her mother?
Had she a sister?
Had she a brother?
Or was there a dearer one
Still, and a nearer one
Yet, than all other?
Alas! for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun!
O! it was pitiful!
Near a whole city full,
Home she had none.
Sisterly, brotherly,
Fatherly, motherly,
Feelings had changed;
Love, by harsh evidence,
Thrown from its eminence;
Even God’s providence
Seeming estranged.
Where the lamps quiver
So far in the river,
With many a light
From window and casement,
From garret to basement,
She stood, with amazement,
Houseless by night.
The bleak wind of March
Made her tremble and shiver;
But not the dark arch,
Or the black flowing river:
Mad from life’s history,
Glad to death’s mystery
Swift to be hurl’d—
Anywhere, anywhere
Out of the world!
In she plunged boldly,
No matter how coldly
The rough river ran;
Over the brink of it,—
Picture it, think of it,
Dissolute Man!
Lave in it, drink of it
Then, if you can!
Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care;
Fashion’d so slenderly,
Young, and so fair!
Ere her limbs frigidly
Stiffen too rigidly,
Decently, kindly,
Smooth and compose them;
And her eyes, close them,
Staring so blindly!
Dreadfully staring
Thro’ muddy impurity,
As when with the daring
Last look of despairing
Fix’d on futurity.
Perishing gloomily,
Spurr’d by contumely,
Cold inhumanity,
Burning insanity,
Into her rest.
—Cross her hands humbly
As if praying dumbly,
Over her breast!
Owning her weakness,
Her evil behavior,
And leaving, with meekness,
Her sins to her Saviour!



Out of the Depths

The protest of the soul of man confronted with injustice and groping for a remedy.


The People’s Anthem

By Ebenezer Elliott

(One of the leaders of the Chartist movement in England, 1781-1849; known as the “Poet of the People,” and by his enemies as the “Corn-law Rhymer”)

When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy! when?
Not kings and lords, but nations!
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they!
Let them not pass, like weeds, away!
Their heritage a sunless day!
God save the people!
Shall crime bring crime for ever,
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Father!
That man shall toil for wrong?
“No!” say thy mountains; “No!” thy skies;
“Man’s clouded sun shall brightly rise,
And songs be heard instead of sighs.”
God save the people!
When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy! when?
The people, Lord! the people!
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
God save the people! thine they are;
Thy children, as thy angels fair;
Save them from bondage and despair!
God save the people!


A Hymn

By Gilbert K. Chesterton

(English essayist and poet, born 1874)

O God of earth and altar
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not Thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.
Tie in a living tether
The priest and prince and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to Thee.


The World’s Way

By William Shakespeare

(One of the series of sonnets in which the English dramatist, 1564-1616, voiced his inmost soul)

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry—
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honor shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disablèd,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive Good attending captain Ill:—
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my Love alone.

Written in London, September, 1802

By William Wordsworth

(One of the great sonnets of England’s poet of nature; 1770-1850. Poet laureate in 1843)

O friend! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, opprest
To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook,
Or groom!—We must run glittering like a brook
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest;
The wealthiest man among us is the best;
No grandeur now in nature or in book
Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,
This is idolatry; and these we adore;
Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws.

The Preface to “Les Miserables”

By Victor Hugo

(The poet and humanitarian of France, 1802-1885, has in this passage set forth the purpose of one of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world)

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.



By May Beals

(Contemporary American writer and lecturer)

Sometimes I feel the tide of life in me
Flood upward, high and higher, till I stand
Tiptoe, aflame with energy, a god,
Young, virile, glorying in my youth and power.
But not for long; the grip of poverty
Seizes me, sets my daily task; the eyes
Of those I love, looking to me for bread
Pierce me like eagles’ beaks through very love.
I am Prometheus bound; these cares and fears
Tear at my vitals, leave me broken, spent.
And unavailingly ’tis spent, my life,
My wondrous life, so pregnant with rich powers.
That stuff in me from which heroic deeds,
Great thoughts and noble poems might be made
Is wrenched from me, is coined in wealth, and spent
By others; save that I and mine receive
A mere existence, bare of hope and joy,
Bare even of comfort.
Comrades, stretched and bound
In agony on labor’s rock, we live—
And die—to fatten vultures!


To a Foil’d European Revolutionaire

By Walt Whitman

(America’s most original and creative poet, 1819-1892; printer and journalist, during the war an army nurse, and later a government clerk, discharged for publishing what his superiors considered an “indecent” book)

Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
But songs of insurrection also;
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel, the world over,
And he going with me leaves peace and routine behind him,
And stakes his life, to be lost at any moment....
When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the first to go, nor the second or third to go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.
When there are no more memories of martyrs and heroes,
And when all life, and all the souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the earth,
Then only shall liberty, or the idea of liberty, be discharged from that part of the earth,
And the infidel come into full possession.


Chants Communal

By Horace Traubel

(American poet and editor, born 1858; disciple and biographer of Walt Whitman)

You will long resist me. You will deceive yourself with initial victories. You will find me weak. You will count me only one against a million. You will see the world seem to go on just as it is. One day confirming another. Presidents succeeding Presidents in unvarying mediocrity. Millionaires dead reborn in millionaire children. Starvation handing starvation on. The people innocently played against the people. Demand and supply cohabited for the production of a blind progeny. The landlord suborning the land. The moneylord suborning money. The storelord suborning production. All will seem to go on just as it is. And you who resist me will be fooled. You will say the universe is against me. You will say I am cursed. Or you will in your tenderer moments ask: What’s the use? But all this time I will be keeping on. Doing nothing unusual. Only keeping on. Asleep or awake, keeping on. Compelled to say the say of justice all by myself. Willing to wait until you are shaken up and convinced. Until you will say it to yourself. And say it to yourself you will.

There are things ahead that will stir you out of your indifference or lethargy or doubt. Give you an immortal awakening. So you will never sleep again. I do not know just what it will be. But something. And you will know it when it comes. And then you will understand why I am calm. Why I am not worried by[186] delay. Why I am not defeated by postponements. Why all the big things that seem to be against me do not seem to worry the one little thing that is for me. Why my faith maintains itself against your property. Why my soul maintains itself against injustice. Why I am willing to say words that are thought personally unkind for the sake of a result that is universally sweet. Why I look in your face and see you long before you are able to see yourself. Why you with all your fortified rights doubt and despair. Why I without any right at all am cheerful and confident. Why you tremble when one little man with one little voice asks you a question. Why I do not tremble with all the states and churches and political economies at my heels.

These Populations

(From “Towards Democracy”)

By Edward Carpenter

(English poet and philosopher, born 1844; disciple of Walt Whitman)

These populations—

So puny, white-faced, machine-made,

Turned out by factories, out of offices, out of drawing-rooms, by thousands all alike—

Huddled, stitched up, in clothes, fearing a chill, a drop of rain, looking timidly at the sea and sky as at strange monsters, or running back so quick to their suburban runs and burrows,

Dapper, libidinous, cute, with washed-out small eyes—

What are these?

Are they men and women?


Each denying himself, hiding himself?

Are they men and women?

So timorous, like hares—a breath of propriety or custom, a draught of wind, the mere threat of pain or of danger?

O for a breath of the sea and the great mountains!

A bronzed hardy live man walking his way through it all;

Thousands of men companioning the waves and the storms, splendid in health, naked-breasted, catching the lion with their hands;

A thousand women swift-footed and free—owners of themselves, forgetful of themselves; in all their actions—full of joy and laughter and action;

Garbed not so differently from the men, joining with them in their games and sports, sharing also their labors;

Free to hold their own, to grant or withhold their love, the same as the men;

Strong, well-equipped in muscle and skill, clear of finesse and affectation—

(The men, too, clear of much brutality and conceit)—

Comrades together, equal in intelligence and adventure,

Trusting without concealment, loving without shame but with discrimination and continence towards a perfect passion.

O for a breath of the sea!

The necessity and directness of the great elements themselves!

Swimming the rivers, braving the sun, the cold, taming the animals and the earth, conquering the air with wings, and each other with love—

The true, the human society!


The Ship of Humanity

(From “Gloucester Moors”)

By William Vaughn Moody

(American poet and dramatist, 1869-1910)

God, dear God! Does she know her port,
Though she goes so far about?
Or blind astray, does she make her sport
To brazen and chance it out?
I watched when her captains passed:
She were better captainless.
Men in the cabin, before the mast,
But some were reckless and some aghast,
And some sat gorged at mess.
By her battened hatch I leaned and caught
Sounds from the noisome hold,—
Cursing and sighing of souls distraught
And cries too sad to be told.
Then I strove to go down and see;
But they said, “Thou art not of us!”
I turned to those on the deck with me
And cried, “Give help!” But they said, “Let be:
Our ship sails faster thus.”
Jill-o’er-the-ground is purple blue,
Blue is the quaker-maid,
The alder-clump where the brook comes through
Breeds cresses in its shade.
To be out of the moiling street,
With its swelter and its sin!
Who has given to me this sweet,
And given my brother dust to eat?
And when will his wage come in?



By James Russell Lowell

(American scholar and poet, 1819-1891, author of many impassioned poems of human freedom. An ardent anti-slavery advocate, it was said during the Civil War that his poetry was worth an army corps to the Union)

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain
When it works a brother’s pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?
Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! True Freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!
They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think:
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.


Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

By Thomas Gray

(English poet and scholar, 1716-1771; Cambridge professor. It is said that Major Wolfe, while sitting in a row-boat on his way to the night attack upon Quebec, remarked that he would rather have been the author of this poem than the taker of the city)

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth, e’er gave
Await alike th’ inevitable hour:—
The paths of glory lead but to the grave....
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honor’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre;
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne’er unroll;
Chill penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.
The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation’s eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.


The Land Question

By Cardinal Manning

(English prelate of the Catholic Church, 1808-1892)

The land question means hunger, thirst, nakedness, notice to quit, labor spent in vain, the toil of years seized upon, the breaking up of homes; the misery, sickness, deaths of parents, children, wives; the despair and wildness which springs up in the hearts of the poor, when legal force, like a sharp harrow, goes over the most sensitive and vital rights of mankind. All this is contained in the land question.

The Lady Poverty

By Jacob Fisher

(Contemporary American poet)

I met her on the Umbrian Hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod;
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked alone—with God.
I met her in the city street;
Oh, changed her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked alone—with men.


Preface to “Major Barbara”

By G. Bernard Shaw

(Irish dramatist and critic, born 1856; recognized as one of the world’s most brilliant advocates of Socialism)

The thoughtless wickedness with which we scatter sentences of imprisonment, torture in the solitary cell and on the plank bed, and flogging, on moral invalids and energetic rebels, is as nothing compared to the stupid levity with which we tolerate poverty as if it were either a wholesome tonic for lazy people or else a virtue to be embraced as St. Francis embraced it. If a man is indolent, let him be poor. If he is drunken, let him be poor. If he is not a gentleman, let him be poor. If he is addicted to the fine arts or to pure science instead of to trade and finance, let him be poor. If he chooses to spend his urban eighteen shillings a week or his agricultural thirteen shillings a week on his beer and his family instead of saving it up for his old age, let him be poor. Let nothing be done for “the undeserving”: let him be poor. Serves him right! Also—somewhat inconsistently—blessed are the poor!

Now what does this Let Him Be Poor mean? It means let him be weak. Let him be ignorant. Let him become a nucleus of disease. Let him be a standing exhibition and example of ugliness and dirt. Let him have rickety children. Let him be cheap and let him drag his fellows down to his price by selling himself to do their work. Let his habitations turn our cities into poisonous congeries of slums. Let his daughters infect our young men with the diseases of the streets and his sons revenge him by turning the nation’s manhood into scrofula,[194] cowardice, cruelty, hypocrisy, political imbecility, and all the other fruits of oppression and malnutrition. Let the undeserving become still less deserving; and let the deserving lay up for himself, not treasures in heaven, but horrors in hell upon earth. This being so, is it really wise to let him be poor? Would he not do ten times less harm as a prosperous burglar, incendiary, ravisher, or murderer, to the utmost limits of humanity’s comparatively negligible impulses in these directions? Suppose we were to abolish all penalties for such activities, and decide that poverty is the one thing we will not tolerate—that every adult with less than, say, £365 a year, shall be painlessly but inexorably killed, and every hungry half naked child forcibly fattened and clothed, would not that be an enormous improvement on our existing system, which has already destroyed so many civilizations, and is visibly destroying ours in the same way?

The Jungle

By Upton Sinclair

(See pages 43, 143)

Now the dreadful winter was come upon them. In the forests, all summer long, the branches of the trees do battle for light, and some of them lose and die; and then come the raging blasts, and the storms of snow and hail, and strew the ground with these weaker branches. Just so it was in Packingtown; the whole district braced itself for the struggle that was an agony, and those whose time was come died off in hordes. All the year round[195] they had been serving as cogs in the great packing-machine; and now was the time for the renovating of it, and the replacing of damaged parts. There came pneumonia and grippe, stalking among them, seeking for weakened constitutions; there was the annual harvest of those whom tuberculosis had been dragging down. There came cruel cold, and biting winds, and blizzards of snow, all testing relentlessly for failing muscles and impoverished blood. Sooner or later came the day when the unfit one did not report for work; and then, with no time lost in waiting, and no inquiries or regrets, there was a chance for a new hand....

Home was not a very attractive place—at least not this winter. They had only been able to buy one stove, and this was a small one, and proved not big enough to warm even the kitchen in the bitterest weather. This made it hard for Teta Elzbieta all day, and for the children when they could not get to school. At night they would sit huddled around this stove, while they ate their supper off their laps; and then Jurgis and Jonas would smoke a pipe, after which they would all crawl into their beds to get warm, after putting out the fire to save the coal. Then they would have some frightful experiences with the cold. They would sleep with all their clothes on, including their overcoats, and put over them all the bedding and spare clothing they owned; the children would sleep all crowded into one bed, and yet even so they could not keep warm. The outside ones would be shivering and sobbing, crawling over the others and trying to get down into the center, and causing a fight. This old house with the leaky weather-boards was a very different thing from their cabins at home, with great thick walls plastered inside and outside with[196] mud; and the cold which came upon them was a living thing, a demon-presence in the room. They would waken in the midnight hours, when everything was black; perhaps they would hear it yelling outside, or perhaps there would be deathlike stillness—and that would be worse yet. They could feel the cold as it crept in through the cracks, reaching out for them with its icy, death-dealing fingers; and they would crouch and cower, and try to hide from it, all in vain. It would come, and it would come; a grisly thing, a spectre born in the black caverns of terror; a power primeval, cosmic, shadowing the tortures of the lost souls flung out to chaos and destruction. It was cruel, iron-hard; and hour after hour they would cringe in its grasp, alone, alone. There would be no one to hear them if they cried out; there would be no help, no mercy. And so on until morning—when they would go out to another day of toil, a little weaker, a little nearer to the time when it would be their turn to be shaken from the tree.

The Sad Sight of the Hungry

By Li Hung Chang

(A poem by the Chinese statesman, 1823-1901; known as the “Bismarck of Asia,” and said to have been the richest man in the world)

’Twould please me, gods, if you would spare
Mine eyes from all this hungry stare
That fills the face and eyes of men
Who search for food o’er hill and glen.
Their eyes are orbs of dullest fire,
As if the flame would mount up higher;
But in the darkness of their glow
We know the fuel’s burning low.
Such looks, O gods, are not from thee!
No, they’re the stares of misery!
They speak of hunger’s frightful hold
On lips a-dry and stomachs cold.
“Bread, bread,” they cry, these weary men,
With wives and children from the glen!
O, they would toil the live-long day
But for a meal, their lives to stay.
But where is it in all the land?
Unless the gods with gen’rous hand
Send sweetsome rice and strength’ning corn
To these vast crowds to hunger born!

The Right to be Lazy

By Paul Lafargue

(A well-known Socialist writer of France. He and his wife, finding themselves helpless from old age and penury, committed suicide together)

Does any one believe that, because the toilers of the time of the mediæval guilds worked five days out of seven in a week, they lived upon air and water only, as the deluding political economists tell us? Go to! They had leisure to taste of earthly pleasure, to cherish love, to make and to keep open house in honor of the great God, Leisure. In those days, that morose, hypo[198]critically Protestant England was called “Merrie England.” Rabelais, Quevedo, Cervantes, the unknown authors of the spicy novels of those days, make our mouths water with their descriptions of those enormous feasts, at which the peoples of that time regaled themselves, and towards which “nothing was spared.” Jordaens and the Dutch school of painters have portrayed them for us, in their pictures of jovial life. Noble, giant stomachs, what has become of you? Exalted spirits, ye who comprehended the whole of human thought, whither are ye gone? We are thoroughly degenerated and dwarfed. Tubercular cows, potatoes, wine made with fuchsine, beer from saffron, and Prussian whiskey in wise conjunction with compulsory labor have weakened our bodies and dulled our intellects. And at the same time that mankind ties up its stomach, and the productivity of the machine goes on increasing day by day, the political economists wish to preach to us Malthusian doctrine, the religion of abstinence and the dogma of work!

The First Machine

By Antiparos

(Greek, First Century, A. D. The poet celebrates the invention of the water-mill for grinding corn)

The goddess has commanded the work of the girls to be done by the Nymphs; and now these skip lightly over the wheels, so that the shaken axles revolve with the spokes, and pull around the load of the revolving stones. Let us live the life of our fathers, and let us rest from work and enjoy the gifts that the goddess has sent us!


By John Stuart Mill

(English philosopher, 1806-1873)

Hitherto, it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.

The Man Under the Stone

(From “The Man with the Hoe and other Poems”)

By Edwin Markham

(See page 27)

When I see a workingman with mouths to feed,
Up, day after day, in the dark before the dawn,
And coming home, night after night, thro’ the dusk,
Swinging forward like some fierce silent animal,
I see a man doomed to roll a huge stone up an endless steep.
He strains it onward inch by stubborn inch,
Crouched always in the shadow of the rock....
See where he crouches, twisted, cramped, misshapen!
He lifts for their life;
The veins knot and darken—
Blood surges into his face....
Now he loses—now he wins—
Now he loses—loses—(God of my soul!)
He digs his feet into the earth—
There’s a movement of terrified effort....
It stirs—it moves!
Will the huge stone break his hold
And crush him as it plunges to the Gulf?
The silent struggle goes on and on,
Like two contending in a dream.

By Boethius

(Roman philosopher, 470-524)

Though the goddess of riches should bestow as much as the sand rolled by the wind-tossed sea, or as many as the stars that shine, the human race will not cease to wail.



ROGER BLOCHE (French sculptor; from the Luxembourg Museum)




(Sculptor of the Belgian Socialist and co-operative movements; born 1873)

The Wolf at the Door

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

(America’s most brilliant woman poet and critic; born 1860)

There’s a haunting horror near us
That nothing drives away;
Fierce lamping eyes at nightfall,
A crouching shade by day;
There’s a whining at the threshold,
There’s a scratching at the floor.
To work! To work! In Heaven’s name!
The wolf is at the door!
The day was long, the night was short,
The bed was hard and cold;
Still weary are the little ones,
Still weary are the old.
We are weary in our cradles
From our mother’s toil untold;
We are born to hoarded weariness
As some to hoarded gold.
We will not rise! We will not work!
Nothing the day can give
Is half so sweet as an hour of sleep;
Better to sleep than live!
What power can stir these heavy limbs?
What hope these dull hearts swell?
What fear more cold, what pain more sharp
Than the life we know so well?...
The slow, relentless, padding step
That never goes astray—
The rustle in the underbrush—
The shadow in the way—
The straining flight—the long pursuit—
The steady gain behind—
Death-wearied man and tireless brute,
And the struggle wild and blind!
There’s a hot breath at the keyhole
And a tearing as of teeth!
Well do I know the bloodshot eyes
And the dripping jaws beneath!
There’s a whining at the threshold—
There’s a scratching at the floor—
To work! To work! In Heaven’s name!
The wolf is at the door!


By Robert Herrick

(Old English lyric poet, 1591-1674)

To mortal man great loads allotted be;
But of all packs, no pack like poverty.

Each Against All

By Charles Fourier

(One of the early French Utopian writers, 1772-1837; author of a theory of social co-operation which is still known by his name)

The present social order is a ridiculous mechanism, in which portions of the whole are in conflict and acting against the whole. We see each class in society desire, from interest, the misfortune of the other classes, placing in every way individual interest in opposition to public good. The lawyer wishes litigations and suits, particularly among the rich; the physician desires sickness. (The latter would be ruined if everybody died without disease, as would the former if all quarrels were settled by arbitration.) The soldier wants a war, which will carry off half his comrades and secure him promotion; the undertaker wants burials; monopolists and forestallers want famine, to double or treble the price of grain; the architect, the carpenter, the mason, want conflagrations, that will burn down a hundred houses to give activity to their branches of business.

By Matthew Arnold

(English essayist and poet, 1822-1888)

Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class.


Fomá Gordyéeff

By Maxim Gorky

(A novel in which the Russian has portrayed the spiritual agonies of his race. In this scene a poor school-teacher voices his despair)

Yozhov drank his tea at one draught, thrust the glass on the saucer, placed his feet on the edge of the chair, and clasping his knees in his hands, rested his chin upon them. In this pose, small sized and flexible as rubber, he began:

“The student Sachkov, my former teacher, who is now a doctor of medicine, a whist player and a mean fellow all around, used to tell me whenever I knew my lesson well: ‘You’re a fine fellow, Kolya! You are an able boy. We proletarians, plain and poor people, coming from the backyard of life, we must study and study, in order to come to the front, ahead of everybody. Russia is in need of wise and honest people. Try to be such, and you will be master of your fate and a useful member of society. On us commoners rest the best hopes of the country. We are destined to bring into it light, truth,’ and so on. I believed him, the brute. And since then about twenty years have elapsed. We proletarians have grown up, but have neither appropriated any wisdom nor brought light into life. As before, Russia is suffering from its chronic disease—a superabundance of rascals; while we, the proletarians, take pleasure in filling their dense throngs.”

Yozhov’s face wrinkled into a bitter grimace, and he began to laugh noiselessly, with his lips only. “I, and many others with me, we have robbed ourselves for the[204] sake of saving up something for life. Desiring to make myself a valuable man, I have underrated my individuality in every way possible. In order to study and not die of starvation, I have for six years in succession taught blockheads how to read and write, and had to bear a mass of abominations at the hands of various papas and mammas, who humiliated me without any constraint. Earning my bread and tea, I could not, I had not the time to earn my shoes, and I had to turn to charitable institutions with humble petitions for loans on the strength of my poverty. If the philanthropists could only reckon up how much of the spirit they kill in man while supporting the life of his body! If they only knew that each rouble they give for bread contains ninety-nine copecks worth of poison for the soul! If they could only burst from excess of their kindness and pride, which they draw from their holy activity! There is no one on earth more disgusting and repulsive than he who gives alms. Even as there is no one so miserable as he who accepts them.”

The Sight of Inequality

(From “The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”)

By Daniel Defoe

(English novelist and pamphleteer, 1661-1731; many times imprisoned for satires upon the authorities)

I saw the world round me, one part laboring for bread, and the other part squandering in vile excess or empty pleasures, equally miserable, because the end they proposed still fled from them; for the man of pleas[205]ure every day surfeited of his vice, and heaped up work for sorrow and repentance; and the man of labor spent his strength in daily struggling for bread to maintain the vital strength he labored with; so living in a daily circulation of sorrow, living but to work, and working but to live, as if daily bread were the only end of a wearisome life, and a wearisome life the only occasion of daily bread.

Settlement Work[N]

(From “A Man’s World”)

By Albert Edwards

(Pen-name of Arthur Bullard, American novelist and war-correspondent)

After all, what good were these settlement workers doing? Again and again this question demanded an answer. Sometimes I went out with Mr. Dawn to help in burying the dead. I could see no adequate connection between his kindly words to the bereaved and the hideous dragon of tuberculosis which stalked through the crowded district. What good did Dawn’s ministrations do? Sometimes I went out with Miss Bronson, the kindergartner, and listened to her talk to uncomprehending mothers about their duties to their children. What could Miss Bronson accomplish by playing a few hours a day with the youngsters who had to go to filthy homes? They were given a wholesome lunch at the settlement. But the two other meals a day they must eat poorly cooked, adulterated food. Sometimes I went [206]out with Miss Cole, the nurse, to visit her cases. It was hard for me to imagine anything more futile than her single-handed struggle against unsanitary tenements and unsanitary shops.

I remember especially one visit I made with her. It was the crisis for me. The case was a child-birth. There were six other children, all in one unventilated room; its single window looked out on a dark, choked airshaft; and the father was a drunkard. I remember sitting there, after the doctor had gone, holding the next youngest baby on my knee, while Miss Cole was bathing the puny newcomer.

“Can’t you make him stop crying for a minute?” Miss Cole asked nervously.

“No,” I said with sudden rage. “I can’t. I wouldn’t if I could. Why shouldn’t he cry? Why don’t the other little fools cry? Do you want them to laugh?”

She stopped working with the baby and offered me a flask of brandy from her bag. But brandy was not what I wanted. Of course I knew men sank to the very dregs. But I had never realized that some are born there.

When she had done all she could for the mother and child, Miss Cole put her things back in the bag and we started home. It was long after midnight, but the streets were still alive.

“What good does it do?” I demanded vehemently. “Oh, I know—you and the doctor saved the mother’s life—brought a new one into the world and all that. But what good does it do? The child will die—it was a girl—let’s get down on our knees right here and pray the gods that it may die soon—not grow up to want and fear—and shame.” Then I laughed. “No, there’s no[207] use praying. She’ll die all right! They’ll begin feeding her beer out of a can before she’s weaned. No. Not that. I don’t believe the mother will be able to nurse her. She’ll die of skimmed milk. And if that don’t do the trick there’s T. B. and several other things for her to catch. Oh, she’ll die all right! And next year there’ll be another. For God’s sake, what’s the use? What good does it do?” Abruptly I began to swear.

“You mustn’t talk like that,” Miss Cole said in a strained voice.

“Why shouldn’t I curse?” I said fiercely, turning on her challengingly, trying to think of some greater blasphemy to hurl at the muddle of life. But the sight of her face, livid with weariness, her lips twisting spasmodically from nervous exhaustion, showed me one reason not to. The realization that I had been so brutal to her shocked me horribly.

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” I cried.

She stumbled slightly. I thought she was going to faint and I put my arm about her to steady her. She was almost old enough to be my mother, but she put her head on my shoulder and cried like a little child. We stood there on the sidewalk—in the glare of a noisy, loathsome saloon—like two frightened children. I don’t think either of us saw any reason to go anywhere. But we dried our eyes at last and from mere force of habit walked blindly back to the children’s house. On the steps she broke the long silence.

“I know how you feel—everyone’s like that at first, but you’ll get used to it. I can’t tell ‘why.’ I can’t see that it does much good. But it’s got to be done. You mustn’t think about it. There are things to do, today, tomorrow, all the time. Things that must be done.[208] That’s how we live. So many things to do, we can’t think. It would kill you if you had time to think. You’ve got to work—work.

“You’ll stay too. I know. You won’t be able to go away. You’ve been here too long. You won’t ever know ‘why.’ You’ll stop asking if it does any good. And I tell you if you stop to think about it, it will kill you. You must work.”

She went to her room and I across the deserted courtyard and up to mine. But there was no sleep. It was that night that I first realized that I also must. I had seen so much I could never forget. It was something from which there was no escape. No matter how glorious the open fields, there would always be the remembered stink of the tenements in my nostrils. The vision of a sunken-cheeked, tuberculosis-ridden pauper would always rise between me and the beauty of the sunset. A crowd of hurrying ghosts—the ghosts of the slaughtered babies—would follow me everywhere, crying “Coward,” if I ran away. The slums had taken me captive.

Concerning Women

(From “Aurora Leigh”)

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(English poetess, 1806-1861; wife of Robert Browning, and an ardent champion of the liberties of the Italian people)

I call you hard
To general suffering. Here’s the world half blind
With intellectual light, half brutalized
With civilization, having caught the plague
In silks from Tarsus, shrieking east and west
Along a thousand railroads, mad with pain
And sin too!... does one woman of you all,
(You who weep easily) grow pale to see
This tiger shake his cage?—does one of you
Stand still from dancing, stop from stringing pearls,
And pine and die because of the great sum
Of universal anguish?—Show me a tear
Wet as Cordelia’s, in eyes bright as yours,
Because the world is mad. You cannot count,
That you should weep for this account, not you!
You weep for what you know. A red-haired child
Sick in a fever, if you touch him once,
Though but so little as with a finger-tip,
Will set you weeping; but a million sick—
You could as soon weep for the rule of three
Or compound fractions. Therefore, this same world,
Uncomprehended by you.—Women as you are,
Mere women, personal and passionate,
You give us doting mothers, and perfect wives,
Sublime Madonnas, and enduring saints!
We get no Christ from you,—and verily
We shall not get a poet, in my mind.

Women and Economics

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

(See page 200)

Recognizing her intense feeling on moral lines, and seeing in her the rigidly preserved virtues of faith, submission, and self-sacrifice—qualities which in the dark ages were held to be the first of virtues,—we[210] have agreed of late years to call woman the moral superior of man. But the ceaseless growth of human life, social life, has developed in him new virtues, later, higher, more needful; and the moral nature of woman, as maintained in this rudimentary stage by her economic dependence, is a continual check to the progress of the human soul. The main feature of her life—the restriction of her range and duty to the love and service of her own immediate family—acts upon us continually as a retarding influence, hindering the expansion of the spirit of social love and service on which our very lives depend. It keeps the moral standard of the patriarchal era still before us, and blinds our eyes to the full duty of man.

The Wrongfulness of Riches

By Grant Allen

(English essayist and nature student, 1848-1899)

If you are on the side of the spoilers, then you are a bad man. If you are on the side of social justice, then you are a good one. There is no effective test of high morality at the present day save this.

Critics of the middle-class type often exclaim, of reasoning like this, “What on earth makes him say it? What has he to gain by talking in that way? What does he expect to get by it?” So bound up are they in the idea of a self-interest as the one motive of action that they never even seem to conceive of honest conviction as a ground for speaking out the truth that is in one. To such critics I would answer, “The reason why I write all this is because I profoundly believe it. I believe the poor[211] are being kept out of their own. I believe the rich are for the most part selfish and despicable. I believe wealth has been generally piled up by cruel and unworthy means. I believe it is wrong in us to acquiesce in the wicked inequalities of our existing social state, instead of trying our utmost to bring about another, where right would be done to all, where poverty would be impossible. I believe such a system is perfectly practicable, and that nothing stands in its way save the selfish fears and prejudices of individuals. And I believe that even those craven fears and narrow prejudices are wholly mistaken; that everybody, including the rich themselves, would be infinitely happier in a world where no poverty existed, where no hateful sights and sounds met the eye at every turn, where all slums were swept away, and where everybody had their just and even share of pleasures and refinements in a free and equal community.”


By Lady Wilde

(Irish poetess, mother of Oscar Wilde; wrote under the pen-name of Speranza)

Before us dies our brother, of starvation;
Around are cries of famine and despair!
Where is hope for us, or comfort or salvation—
Where—oh! where?
If the angels ever hearken, downward bending,
They are weeping, we are sure,
At the litanies of human groans ascending
From the crushed hearts of the poor.
We never knew a childhood’s mirth and gladness,
Nor the proud heart of youth free and brave;
Oh, a death-like dream of wretchedness and sadness
Is life’s weary journey to the grave!
Day by day we lower sink, and lower,
Till the God-like soul within
Falls crushed beneath the fearful demon power
Of poverty and sin.
So we toil on, on with fever burning
In heart and brain;
So we toil on, on through bitter scorning,
Want, woe, and pain.
We dare not raise our eyes to the blue heavens
Or the toil must cease—
We dare not breathe the fresh air God has given
One hour in peace.

Inequality of Wealth

By G. Bernard Shaw

(See page 193)

I am not bound to keep my temper with an imposture so outrageous, so abjectly sycophantic, as the pretence that the existing inequalities of income correspond to and are produced by moral and physical inferiorities and superiorities—that Barnato was five million times as great and good a man as William Blake, and committed suicide because he lost two-fifths of his superiority; that the life of Lord Anglesey has been on a far higher plane than that of John Ruskin; that Mademoiselle Liane de Pougy has been raised by her successful sugar specula[213]tion to moral heights never attained by Florence Nightingale; and that an arrangement to establish economic equality between them by duly adjusted pensions would be impossible. I say that no sane person can be expected to treat such impudent follies with patience, much less with respect.

The Two Songs

By William Blake

(See page 98)

I heard an Angel singing
When the day was springing:
“Mercy, pity, and peace,
Are the world’s release.”
So he sang all day
Over the new-mown hay,
Till the sun went down,
And haycocks looked brown
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze:
“Mercy could be no more
If there were nobody poor,
And pity no more could be
If all were happy as ye:
And mutual fear brings peace.
Misery’s increase
Are mercy, pity, peace.”
At his curse the sun went down,
And the heavens gave a frown.


By James Anthony Froude

(English historian, 1818-1894)

The endurance of the inequalities of life by the poor is the marvel of human society.


By Leonid Andreyev

(In this strange drama, which might be called a symbolic tragi-comedy, the Russian writer has set forth the plight of the educated people of his country, confronted by the abject superstition of the peasantry. Savva, a fanatical revolutionist, endeavors to wipe out this superstition by blowing up a monastery full of drunken monks. But the plot is revealed to the monks, who carry out the ikon, or sacred image, before the explosion, and afterwards carry it back into the ruins. The peasants, arriving on the scene and finding the ikon uninjured, hail a supreme miracle; the whole country is swept by a wave of religious frenzy, in the course of which Savva is trampled to death by a mob.

In the following scene Savva argues with his sister, a religious believer. The tramp of pilgrims is heard outside)

Savva (smiling):—The tramp of death!

Lipa:—Remember that each one of these would consider himself happy in killing you, in crushing you like a reptile. Each one of these is your death. Why, they beat a simple thief to death, a horse thief. What would they not do to you? You who wanted to steal their God!

Savva:—Quite true. That’s property too.

Lipa:—You still have the brazenness to joke? Who gave you the right to do such a thing? Who gave you[215] the power over people? How dare you meddle with what to them is right? How dare you interfere with their life?

Savva:—Who gave me the right? You gave it to me. Who gave me the power? You gave it to me—you with your malice, your ignorance, your stupidity! You with your wretched impotence! Right! Power! They have turned the earth into a sewer, an outrage, an abode of slaves. They worry each other, they torture each other, and they ask: “Who dares to take us by the throat?” I! Do you understand? I!

Lipa:—But to destroy all! Think of it!

Savva:—What could you do with them? What would you do? Try to persuade the oxen to turn away from their bovine path? Catch each one by his horn and pull him away? Would you put on a frock-coat and read a lecture? Haven’t they had plenty to teach them? As if words and thought had any significance to them! Thought—pure, unhappy thought! They have perverted it. They have taught it to cheat and defraud. They have made it a salable commodity, to be bought at auction in the market. No, sister, life is short, and I am not going to waste it in arguments with oxen. The way to deal with them is by fire. That’s what they require—fire!

Lipa:—But what do you want? What do you want?

Savva:—What do I want? To free the earth, to free mankind. Man—the man of today—is wise. He has come to his senses. He is ripe for liberty. But the past eats away his soul like a canker. It imprisons him within the iron circle of things already accomplished. I want to do away with everything behind man, so that there is nothing to see when he looks back. I want to take him by the scruff of his neck and turn his face toward the future!


The Man Forbid

By John Davidson

(Scotch poet and dramatist, 1857-1909; after struggling for many years in London against poverty and ill-health, committed suicide, leaving some of the most striking and original poetry of the present age)

This Beauty, this Divinity, this Thought,
This hallowed bower and harvest of delight
Whose roots ethereal seemed to clutch the stars,
Whose amaranths perfumed eternity,
Is fixed in earthly soil enriched with bones
Of used-up workers; fattened with the blood
Of prostitutes, the prime manure; and dressed
With brains of madmen and the broken hearts
Of children. Understand it, you at least
Who toil all day and writhe and groan all night
With roots of luxury, a cancer struck
In every muscle: out of you it is
Cathedrals rise and Heaven blossoms fair;
You are the hidden putrefying source
Of beauty and delight, of leisured hours,
Of passionate loves and high imaginings;
You are the dung that keeps the roses sweet.
I say, uproot it; plough the land; and let
A summer-fallow sweeten all the World.



(From “Death and the Child”)

By Stephen Crane

(American novelist and poet, 1870-1900)

These stupid peasants, who, throughout the world, hold potentates on their thrones, make statesmen illustrious, provide generals with lasting victories, all with ignorance, indifference, or half-witted hatred, moving the world with the strength of their arms, and getting their heads knocked together, in the name of God, the king, or the stock exchange—immortal, dreaming, hopeless asses, who surrender their reason to the care of a shining puppet, and persuade some toy to carry their lives in his purse.

An Italian Restaurant

(From “A Bed of Roses”)

By W. L. George

(Contemporary English novelist)

They sat at a marble topped table, flooded with light by incandescent gas. In the glare the waiters seemed blacker, smaller and more stunted than by the light of day. Their faces were pallid, with a touch of green: their hair and moustaches were almost blue black. Their energy was that of automata. Victoria looked at them, melting with pity.

“There’s a life for you,” said Farwell, interpreting her look. “Sixteen hours’ work a day in an atmosphere[218] of stale food. For meals, plate scourings. For sleep and time to get to it, eight hours. For living, the rest of the day.”

“It’s awful, awful,” said Victoria. “They might as well be dead.”

“They will be soon,” said Farwell, “but what does that matter? There are plenty of waiters. In the shadow of the olive groves tonight in far-off Calabria, at the base of the vine-clad hills, couples are walking hand in hand, with passion flashing in their eyes. Brown peasant boys are clasping to their breast young girls with dark hair, white teeth, red lips, hearts that beat and quiver with ecstasy. They tell a tale of love and hope. So we shall not be short of waiters.”


By Carlos Wupperman

(Contemporary American poet)

Tonight the beautiful, chaste moon
From heaven’s height
Scatters over the bridal earth
Blossoms of white;
And spring’s renewed glad charms unfold
Endless delight.
Such mystic wonder the hushed world wears,
Evil has fled
Far, far away; in every heart
God reigns instead....
Tonight a starving virgin sells
Her soul for bread.


A South-Sea Islander

By Francis Adams

(English poet and rebel, 1862-1893; his life, a brief struggle with poverty and disease, was ended by his own hand)

Aloll in the warm clear water,
On her back with languorous limbs
She lies. The baby upon her breast
Paddles and falls and swims.
With half-closed eyes she smiles,
Guarding it with her hands;
And the sob swells up in my heart—
In my heart that understands.
Dear, in the English country,
The hatefullest land on earth,
The mothers are starved and the children die
And death is better than birth!

Out of the Dark

By Helen Keller

(America’s most famous blind girl, born 1880, who has come to see more than most people with normal eyes)

Step by step my investigation of blindness led me into the industrial world. And what a world it is! I must face unflinchingly a world of facts—a world of misery and degradation, of blindness, crookedness, and sin, a world struggling against the elements, against the[220] unknown, against itself. How reconcile this world of fact with the bright world of my imagining? My darkness had been filled with the light of intelligence, and, behold, the outer day-lit world was stumbling and groping in social blindness. At first I was most unhappy; but deeper study restored my confidence. By learning the sufferings and burdens of men, I became aware as never before of the life-power that has survived the forces of darkness—the power which, though never completely victorious, is continuously conquering. The very fact that we are still here carrying on the contest against the hosts of annihilation proves that on the whole the battle has gone for humanity. The world’s great heart has proved equal to the prodigious undertaking which God set it. Rebuffed, but always persevering; self-reproached, but ever regaining faith; undaunted, tenacious, the heart of man labors towards immeasurably distant goals. Discouraged not by difficulties without, or the anguish of ages within, the heart listens to a secret voice that whispers: “Be not dismayed; in the future lies the Promised Land.”

Heirs of Time

By Thomas Wentworth Higginson

(American poet and essayist, 1823-1911; a vehement anti-slavery agitator, he was colonel of the first negro regiment during the Civil War, and in later life became a devoted Socialist)

From street and square, from hill and glen,
Of this vast world beyond my door,
I hear the tread of marching men,
The patient armies of the poor.
Not ermine-clad or clothed in state,
Their title-deeds not yet made plain,
But waking early, toiling late,
The heirs of all the earth remain.
The peasant brain shall yet be wise,
The untamed pulse grow calm and still;
The blind shall see, the lowly rise,
And work in peace Time’s wondrous will.
Some day, without a trumpet’s call
This news will o’er the world be blown:
“The heritage comes back to all;
The myriad monarchs take their own.”

Beyond Human Might

By Björnstjerne Björnson

(Next to Ibsen, the greatest of Norwegian dramatists, 1832-1910. In the following scene, from a two-part symbolic drama of the problem of labor and capital, a young clergyman is speaking to a crowd of miners in the midst of a bitterly fought strike)

Bratt:—Here it is dark and cold. Here few work hopefully, and no one joyfully. Here the children won’t thrive—they yearn for the sea and the daylight. They crave the sun. But it lasts only a little while, and then they give up. They learn that among those who have been cast down here there is rarely one who can climb up again.

Several:—That’s right!...

Bratt:—What is there to herald the coming of better things? A new generation up there? Listen to what their young people answer for themselves: “We want a[222] good time!” And their books? The books and the youth together make the future. And what do the books say? Exactly the same as the youth: “Let us have a good time! Ours are the light and the lust of life, its colors and its joys!” That’s what the youth and their books say.—They are right! It is all theirs! There is no law to prevent their taking life’s sunlight and joy away from the poor people. For those who have the sun have also made the law.—But then the next question is whether we might not scramble up high enough to take part in the writing of a new law. (This is received with thundering cheers.) What is needed is that one generation makes an effort strong enough to raise all coming generations into the vigorous life of full sunlight.

Many:—Yes, yes!

Bratt:—But so far every generation has put it off on the next one. Until at last our turn has come—to bear sacrifices and sufferings like unto those of death itself!


By Heinrich Heine

(See page 97)

Their eyelids are drooping, no tears lie beneath;
They stand at the loom and grind their teeth;
“We are weaving a shroud for the doubly dead,
And a threefold curse in its every thread—
We are weaving, still weaving.
”A curse for the Godhead to whom we have bowed
In our cold and our hunger, we weave in the shroud;
For in vain have we hoped and in vain have prayed;
He has mocked us and scoffed at us, sold and betrayed—
We are weaving, still weaving.
“A curse for the king of the wealthy and proud,
Who for us had no pity, we weave in the shroud;
Who takes our last penny to swell out his purse,
While we die the death of a dog—yea, a curse—
We are weaving, still weaving.
”A curse for our country, whose cowardly crowd
Hold her shame in high honor, we weave in the shroud;
Whose blossoms are blighted and slain in the germ,
Whose filth and corruption engender the worm—
We are weaving, still weaving.
“To and fro flies our shuttle—no pause in its flight,
’Tis a shroud we are weaving by day and by night;
We are weaving a shroud for the worse than dead,
And a threefold curse in its every thread—
We are weaving—still weaving.”

Alton Locke

By Charles Kingsley

(See pages 78, 84)

Yes, it was true. Society had not given me my rights. And woe unto the man on whom that idea, true or false, rises lurid, filling all his thoughts with stifling glare, as of the pit itself. Be it true, be it false, it is equally a woe to believe it; to have to live on a negation; to have to worship for our only idea, as hundreds of thousands of us have this day, the hatred of the things which are. Ay, though one of us here and there may die in faith, in sight of the promised land, yet is it not[224] hard, when looking from the top of Pisgah into “the good time coming,” to watch the years slipping away one by one, and death crawling nearer and nearer, and the people wearying themselves in the fire for very vanity, and Jordan not yet passed, the promised land not yet entered? While our little children die around us, like lambs beneath the knife, of cholera and typhus and consumption, and all the diseases which the good time can and will prevent; which, as science has proved, and you the rich confess, might be prevented at once, if you dared to bring in one bold and comprehensive measure, and not sacrifice yearly the lives of thousands to the idol of vested interests, and a majority in the House. Is it not hard to men who smart beneath such things to help crying aloud—“Thou cursed Moloch-Mammon, take my life if thou wilt; let me die in the wilderness, for I have deserved it; but these little ones in mines and factories, in typhus cellars and Tooting pandemoniums, what have they done? If not in their fathers’ cause, yet still in theirs, were it so great a sin to die upon a barricade?”




The struggle to do away with injustice; the battle-cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.


A Man’s a Man for a’ That

By Robert Burns

(Scotland’s most popular poet, 1759-1796)

Is there, for honest poverty,
That hangs his head, and a’ that?
The coward slave, we pass him by,
We daur be puir, for a’ that!
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Our toils obscure and a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp—
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.
What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin-grey and a’ that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine—
A man’s a man for a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show and a’ that,
The honest man, though e’er sae puir,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.
Ye see yon birkie, ca’ed a lord,
Wha struts, and stares, and a’ that;
Though hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
His riband, star, and a’ that;
The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at a’ that.
A king can make a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and a’ that;
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their dignities and a’ that,
The pith o’ sense and pride o’ worth
Are higher rank than a’ that.
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that)
That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
May bear the gree and a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that—
It’s coming yet, for a’ that,
When man to man, the warld o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.

By Thomas Jefferson

(President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, 1743-1826)

All eyes are opened or opening to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.


A Vindication of Natural Society

By Edmund Burke

(British statesman and orator, 1729-1797; defended the American colonies in Parliament during the Revolutionary War)

Ask of politicians the ends for which laws were originally designed, and they will answer that the laws were designed as a protection for the poor and weak, against the oppression of the rich and powerful. But surely no pretence can be so ridiculous; a man might as well tell me he has taken off my load, because he has changed the burden. If the poor man is not able to support his suit according to the vexatious and expensive manner established in civilized countries, has not the rich as great an advantage over him as the strong has over the weak in a state of nature?...

The most obvious division of society is into rich and poor, and it is no less obvious that the number of the former bear a great disproportion to those of the latter. The whole business of the poor is to administer to the idleness, folly, and luxury of the rich, and that of the rich, in return, is to find the best methods of confirming the slavery and increasing the burdens of the poor. In a state of nature it is an invariable law that a man’s acquisitions are in proportion to his labors. In a state of artificial society it is a law as constant and invariable that those who labor most enjoy the fewest things, and that those who labor not at all have the greatest number of enjoyments. A constitution of things this, strange and ridiculous beyond expression! We scarce believe a thing when we are told it which we actually see before our eyes every day without being in the least surprised.[230] I suppose that there are in Great Britain upwards of an hundred thousand people employed in lead, tin, iron, copper, and coal mines; these unhappy wretches scarce ever see the light of the sun; they are buried in the bowels of the earth; there they work at a severe and dismal task, without the least prospect of being delivered from it; they subsist upon the coarsest and worst sort of fare; they have their health miserably impaired, and their lives cut short, by being perpetually confined in the close vapors of these malignant minerals. An hundred thousand more at least are tortured without remission by the suffocating smoke, intense fires, and constant drudgery necessary in refining and managing the products of those mines. If any man informed us that two hundred thousand innocent persons were condemned to so intolerable slavery, how should we pity the unhappy sufferers, and how great would be our just indignation against those who inflicted so cruel and ignominious a punishment! This is an instance—I could not wish a stronger—of the numberless things which we pass by in their common dress, yet which shock us when they are nakedly represented....

In a misery of this sort, admitting some few lenitives, and those too but a few, nine parts in ten of the whole race of mankind drudge through life. It may be urged, perhaps, in palliation of this, that at least the rich few find a considerable and real benefit from the wretchedness of the many. But is this so in fact?...

The poor by their excessive labor, and the rich by their enormous luxury, are set upon a level, and rendered equally ignorant of any knowledge which might conduce to their happiness. A dismal view of the interior of all civil society! The lower part broken and ground[231] down by the most cruel oppression; and the rich by their artificial method of life bringing worse evils on themselves than their tyranny could possibly inflict on those below them.

The Antiquity of Freedom

By William Cullen Bryant

(American poet and editor, 1794-1878; author of “Thanatopsis”)

O freedom! thou art not, as poets dream,
A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs,
And wavy tresses gushing from the cap
With which the Roman master crowned his slave
When he took off the gyves. A bearded man,
Armed to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand
Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow,
Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred
With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs
Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched
His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee;
They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven.
Merciless Power has dug thy dungeon deep,
And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shivered, and the prison walls
Fall outward; terribly thou springest forth,
As springs the flame above a burning pile,
And shoutest to the nations, who return
Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.


By Lord Byron

(English poet of liberty, 1788-1824; died while taking part in the war for the liberation of Greece)

Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?
By their right arms the conquest must be wrought?

Concerning Moderation

By Lafcadio Hearn

(A writer of Irish and Greek parentage, 1850-1904; became a lecturer on English in the University of Tokio. Japan’s ablest interpreter to the western world)

Permit me to say something in opposition to a very famous and very popular Latin proverb—In medio tutissimus ibis—“Thou wilt go most safely by taking the middle course.” In speaking of two distinct tendencies in literature, you might expect me to say that the aim of the student should be to avoid extremes, and to try not to be either too conservative or too liberal. But I should certainly never give any such advice. On the contrary, I think that the proverb above quoted is one of the most mischievous, one of the most pernicious, one of the most foolish, that ever was invented in the world. I believe very strongly in extremes—in violent extremes; and I am quite sure that all progress in this world, whether literary, or scientific, or religious, or political, or social, has been obtained only with the assistance of extremes. But remember that I say, “With the as[233]sistance,”—I do not mean that extremes alone accomplish the aim: there must be antagonism, but there must also be conservatism. What I mean by finding fault with the proverb is simply this—that it is very bad advice for a young man. To give a young man such advice is very much like telling him not to do his best, but only to do half of his best—or, in other words, to be half-hearted in his undertaking.... It is not the old men who ever prove great reformers: they are too cautious, too wise. Reforms are made by the vigor and courage and the self-sacrifice and the emotional conviction of young men, who did not know enough to be afraid, and who feel much more deeply than they think. Indeed great reforms are not accomplished by reasoning, but by feeling.




(Contemporary German etching; from the “Peasant-cycle”)




(French illustrator, born 1859)

The First Issue of “The Liberator”

(January 1, 1831)

By William Lloyd Garrison

(America’s most ardent anti-slavery agitator, 1805-1879. The following pronouncement marked the beginning of the anti-slavery campaign)

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as Truth, and as uncompromising as Justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe[234] from the fire into which it has fallen—but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.

Working and Taking

(From the Lincoln-Douglas debates, 1858)

By Abraham Lincoln

That is the real issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time. The one is the common right of humanity, the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says “you toil and work and earn bread and I’ll eat it.”

Address to President Lincoln

By the International Workingmen’s Association

(Drafted by Karl Marx)

When an oligarchy of three hundred thousand slaveholders, for the first time in the annals of the world, dared to inscribe “Slavery” on the banner of armed revolt; when on the very spot where hardly[235] a century ago the idea of one great democratic republic had first sprung up, whence the first declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth century, when on that very spot the counter-revolution cynically proclaimed property in man to be “the corner-stone of the new edifice”—then the working classes of Europe understood at once that the slaveholders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy war of property against labor; and that for the men of labor, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic.

Boston Hymn

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

(American essayist, philosopher and poet. The two stanzas following, which may be said to sum up the revolutionary view of the subject of “confiscation,” are taken from a poem read in Boston on Emancipation day, January 1, 1863)

Today unbind the captive,
So only are ye unbound;
Lift up a people from the dust,
Trump of their rescue, sound!
Pay ransom to the owner
And fill the bag to the brim.
Who is the owner? The slave is owner,
And ever was. Pay him.


Battle Hymn of the Chinese Revolution (1912)

(From the Chinese)

Freedom, one of the greatest blessings of Heaven,
United to Peace, thou wilt work on this earth ten thousand wonderful new things.
Grave as a spirit, great as a giant rising to the very skies,
With the clouds for a chariot and the wind for a steed,
Come, come to reign over the earth!
For the sake of the black hell of our slavery,
Come, enlighten us with a ray of thy sun!...
In this century we are working to open a new age.
In this century, with one voice, all virile men
Are calling for a new making of heaven and earth.
Hin-Yun, our ancestor, guide us!
Spirit of Freedom, come and protect us!

The Revolution

By Richard Wagner

(It is not generally recalled that the composer of the world’s greatest music-dramas, 1813-1883, was an active revolutionist, who took part in street fighting in the German Revolution of 1848, and escaped a long imprisonment only by flight. The following is from his contributions to the Dresden Volksblätter)

I am the secret of perpetual youth, the everlasting creator of life; where I am not, death rages. I am the comfort, the hope, the dream of the oppressed. I destroy what exists; but from the rock whereon I light[237] new life begins to flow. I come to you to break all chains which bear you down; to free you from the embrace of death, and instill a new life into your veins. All that exists must perish; that is the eternal condition of life, and I the all-destroying fulfil that law to create a fresh, new existence. I will renovate to the very foundations the order of things in which you live, for it is the offspring of sin, whose blossom is misery and whose fruit is crime. The grain is ripe, and I am the reaper. I will dissipate every delusion which has mastery over the human race. I will destroy the authority of the one over the many; of the lifeless over the living; of the material over the spiritual. I will break into pieces the authority of the great; of the law of property. Let the will of each be master of mankind, one’s own strength be one’s one property, for the freeman is the sacred man, and there is nothing sublimer than he....

I will destroy the existing order of things which divides one humanity into hostile peoples, into strong and weak, into privileged and outlawed, into rich and poor; for that makes unfortunate creatures of one and all. I will destroy the order of things which makes millions the slaves of the few, and those few the slaves of their own power, of their own wealth. I will destroy the order of things which severs enjoyment from labor, which turns labor into a burden and enjoyment into a vice, which makes one man miserable through want and another miserable through super-abundance. I will destroy the order of things which consumes the vigor of manhood in the service of the dead, of inert matter, which sustains one part of mankind in idleness or useless activity, which forces thousands to devote their sturdy youth to the indolent pursuits of soldiery, officialism, speculation and[238] usury, and the maintenance of such like despicable conditions, while the other half, by excessive exertion and sacrifice of all the enjoyment of life, bears the burden of the whole infamous structure. I will destroy even the very memory and trace of this delirious order of things which, pieced together out of force, falsehood, trouble, tears, sorrow, suffering, need, deceit, hypocrisy and crime, is shut up in its own reeking atmosphere, and never receives a breath of pure air, to which no ray of pure joy ever penetrates....

Arise, then, ye people of the earth, arise, ye sorrow-stricken and oppressed. Ye, also, who vainly struggle to clothe the inner desolation of your hearts, with the transient glory of riches, arise! Come and follow in my track with the joyful crowd, for I know not how to make distinction between those who follow me. There are but two peoples from henceforth on earth—the one which follows me, and the one which resists me. The one I will lead to happiness, but the other I will crush in my progress. For I am the Revolution, I am the new creating force. I am the divinity which discerns all life, which embraces, revives, and rewards.


Cry of the People

By John G. Neihardt

(Western poet and novelist, born 1881)

Tremble before your chattels,
Lords of the scheme of things!
Fighters of all earth’s battles,
Ours is the might of kings!
Guided by seers and sages,
The world’s heart-beat for a drum,
Snapping the chains of ages,
Out of the night we come!
Lend us no ear that pities!
Offer no almoner’s hand!
Alms for the builders of cities!
When will you understand?
Down with your pride of birth
And your golden gods of trade!
A man is worth to his mother, Earth,
All that a man has made!
We are the workers and makers!
We are no longer dumb!
Tremble, O Shirkers and Takers!
Sweeping the earth—we come!
Ranked in the world-wide dawn,
Marching into the day!
The night is gone and the sword is drawn
And the scabbard is thrown away!


Woman’s Right

(From “Woman and Labor”)

By Olive Schreiner

(South African novelist, born 1859. In the preface to this book one learns that it is only a faint sketch from memory of part of a great work, the manuscript of which was destroyed during the Boer war)

Thrown into strict logical form, our demand is this: We do not ask that the wheels of time should reverse themselves, or the stream of life flow backward. We do not ask that our ancient spinning-wheels be again resuscitated and placed in our hands; we do not demand that our old grindstones and hoes be returned to us, or that man should again betake himself entirely to his ancient province of war and the chase, leaving to us all domestic and civil labor. We do not even demand that society shall immediately so reconstruct itself that every woman may be again a childbearer (deep and overmastering as lies the hunger for motherhood in every virile woman’s heart!); neither do we demand that the children we bear shall again be put exclusively into our hands to train. This, we know, cannot be. The past material conditions of life have gone for ever; no will of man can recall them. But this is our demand: We demand that, in that strange new world that is arising alike upon the man and the woman, where nothing is as it was, and all things are assuming new shapes and relations, that in this new world we also shall have our share of honored and socially useful human toil, our full half of the labor of the Children of Woman. We demand nothing more than this, and will take nothing less. This is our “WOMAN’S RIGHT!”


Ladies in Rebellion

By Abigail Adams

(Wife of one president of the United States, and mother of another. From a letter to her husband written in 1774, during the session of the first Continental Congress)

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.... If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen

(Norwegian dramatist, 1828-1906. A play which may be called the source of the modern Feminist movement. In the following scene a young wife announces her revolt)

Nora:—While I was at home with father, he used to tell me his opinions, and I held the same opinions. If I had others, I concealed them, because he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his doll-child, and played with me as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house—

Helmer:—What an expression to use about our marriage!

Nora (undisturbed):—I mean I passed from father’s hands into yours. You settled everything according to[242] your taste; and I got the same tastes as you; or I pretended to—I don’t know which—both ways, perhaps. When I look back on it now, I seem to have been living here like a beggar, from hand to mouth. I lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father have done me a great wrong. It is your fault that my life has been wasted.

Helmer:—Why, Nora, how unreasonable and ungrateful you are. Haven’t you been happy here?

Nora:—No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But your house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa’s doll-child. And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald.... And that is why I am now leaving you!

Helmer (jumping up):—What—do you mean to say—

Nora:—I must stand quite alone, to know myself and my surroundings; so I can’t stay with you.

Helmer:—Nora! Nora!

Nora:—I am going at once. Christina will take me for tonight.

Helmer:—You are mad! I shall not allow it. I forbid it.

Nora:—It is no use your forbidding me anything now. I shall take with me what belongs to me. From you I will accept nothing, either now or afterwards....

Helmer:—To forsake your home, your husband, and your children! You don’t consider what the world will say.

Nora:—I can pay no heed to that. I only know what I must do.


Helmer:—It is exasperating! Can you forsake your holiest duties in this world?

Nora:—What do you call my holiest duties?

Helmer:—Do you ask me that? Your duties to your husband and your children.

Nora:—I have other duties equally sacred.

Helmer:—Impossible! What duties do you mean?

Nora:—My duties towards myself.

Helmer:—Before all else you are a wife and a mother.

Nora:—That I no longer believe. I think that before all else I am a human being, just as much as you are—or at least I will try to become one.

A Girl Strike-Leader

By Florence Kiper Frank

(American poetess, born 1886)

A white-faced, stubborn little thing
Whose years are not quite twenty years,
Eyes steely now and done with tears,
Mouth scornful of its suffering—
The young mouth!—body virginal
Beneath the cheap, ill-fitting suit,
A bearing quaintly resolute,
A flowering hat, satirical.
A soul that steps to the sound of the fife
And banners waving red to war,
Mystical, knowing scarce wherefore—
A Joan in a modern strife.


Comrade Yetta[O]

By Albert Edwards

(The story of an East Side sweat-shop worker who becomes a strike-leader. The present scene describes a meeting in Carnegie Hall)

Yetta stood there alone, the blood mounting to her cheeks, looking more and more like an orchid, and waited for the storm to pass.

“I’m not going to talk about this strike,” she said when she could make herself heard. “It’s over. I want to tell you about the next one—and the next. I wish very much I could make you understand about the strikes that are coming....

“Perhaps there’s some of you never thought much about strikes till now. Well. There’s been strikes all the time. I don’t believe there’s ever been a year when there wasn’t dozens here in New York. When we began, the skirt-finishers was out. They lost their strike. They went hungry just the way we did, but nobody helped them. And they’re worse now than ever. There ain’t no difference between one strike and another. Perhaps they are striking for more pay or recognition or closed shops. But the next strike’ll be just like ours. It’ll be people fighting so they won’t be so much slaves like they was before.

“The Chairman said perhaps I’d tell you about my experience. There ain’t nothing to tell except everybody has been awful kind to me. It’s fine to have people so kind to me. But I’d rather if they’d try to understand what this strike business means to all of us workers—this strike we’ve won and the ones that are coming....


“I come out of the workhouse today, and they tell me a lady wants to give me money to study, she wants to have me go to college like I was a rich girl. It’s very kind. I want to study. I ain’t been to school none since I was fifteen. I guess I can’t even talk English very good. I’d like to go to college. And I used to see pictures in the papers of beautiful rich women, and of course it would be fine to have clothes like that. But being in a strike, seeing all the people suffer, seeing all the cruelty—it makes things look different.

“The Chairman told you something out of the Christian Bible. Well, we Jews have got a story too—perhaps it’s in your Bible—about Moses and his people in Egypt. He’d been brought up by a rich Egyptian lady—a princess—just like he was her son. But as long as he tried to be an Egyptian he wasn’t no good. And God spoke to him one day out of a bush on fire. I don’t remember just the words of the story, but God said: ‘Moses, you’re a Jew. You ain’t got no business with the Egyptians. Take off those fine clothes and go back to your own people and help them escape from bondage.’ Well. Of course, I ain’t like Moses, and God has never talked to me. But it seems to me sort of as if—during this strike—I’d seen a BLAZING BUSH. Anyhow I’ve seen my people in bondage. And I don’t want to go to college and be a lady. I guess the kind princess couldn’t understand why Moses wanted to be a poor Jew instead of a rich Egyptian. But if you can understand, if you can understand why I’m going to stay with my own people, you’ll understand all I’ve been trying to say.

“We’re a people in bondage. There’s lots of people who’s kind to us. I guess the princess wasn’t the only Egyptian lady that was kind to the Jews. But kindness[246] ain’t what people want who are in bondage. Kindness won’t never make us free. And God don’t send any more prophets nowadays. We’ve got to escape all by ourselves. And when you read in the papers that there’s a strike—it don’t matter whether it’s street-car conductors or lace-makers, whether it’s Eyetalians or Polacks or Jews or Americans, whether it’s here or in Chicago—it’s my People—the People in Bondage who are starting out for the Promised Land.”

She stopped a moment, and a strange look came over her face—a look of communication with some distant spirit. When she spoke again, her words were unintelligible to most of the audience. Some of the Jewish vest-makers understood. And the Rev. Dunham Denning, who was a famous scholar, understood. But even those who did not were held spellbound by the swinging sonorous cadence. She stopped abruptly.

“It’s Hebrew,” she explained. “It’s what my father taught me when I was a little girl. It’s about the Promised Land—I can’t say it in good English—I——”

“Unless I’ve forgotten my Hebrew,” the Reverend Chairman said, stepping forward, “Miss Rayefsky has been repeating God’s words to Moses as recorded in the third chapter of Exodus. I think it’s the seventh verse:—

“‘And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

“‘And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.’”

“Yes. That’s it,” Yetta said. “Well, that’s what strikes mean. We’re fighting for the old promises.”


“New” Women

By Olive Schreiner

(See page 240)

We are not new! If you would understand us, go back two thousand years, and study our descent; our breed is our explanation. We are the daughters of our fathers as well as our mothers. In our dreams we still hear the clash of the shields of our forebears, as they struck them together before battle and raised the shout of “Freedom!” In our dreams it is with us still, and when we wake it breaks from our own lips. We are the daughters of these men.

Bread and Roses

By James Oppenheim

(In a parade of the strikers of Lawrence, Mass., some young girls carried a banner inscribed, “We want Bread, and Roses too!”)

As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.”
As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men—
For they are women’s children and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes—
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread;
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew—
Yes, it is bread we fight for—but we fight for Roses, too.
As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days—
The rising of the women means the rising of the race—
No more the drudge and idler—ten that toil where one reposes—
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses!

The Great Strike[P]

(From “Happy Humanity”)

By Frederik van Eeden

(The Dutch physician, poet and novelist has here told for American readers a personal experience in the labor struggles of his own country)

About forty of us were sent as delegates to different towns to lead and encourage the strikers there. The password was given and a date and hour secretly appointed. On Monday morning, the sixth of April, 1903, no train was to run on any railway in the Netherlands.

Sunday evening I set out, as one of the forty delegates, on the warpath. I took leave of my family, filled a suit[249]case with pamphlets and fly-leaves, and arrived in the middle of the night at the little town of Amersfoort, an important railway junction, to bring my message from headquarters that a strike would be declared that night in the whole country. Expecting the Government to be very active and energetic and not unlikely to arrest me, I took an assumed name, and was dressed like a laborer....

I stayed a week in that little town, living in the houses of the strikers, sharing their meals and their hours of suspense and anxiety. There was a dark, dingy meeting-room where they all preferred to gather, rather than stay at home. The women also regularly attended these meetings, sometimes bringing their children, and they all sought the comfort of being in company, talking of hopes and fears, cheering each other up by songs, and trying to raise each other’s spirits during the long days of inaction. I addressed them, three or four times a day, trying to give them sound notions on social conditions and preparing them for the defeat which I soon knew to be inevitable. I may say, however, that, though I was of all the forty delegates the least hopeful of ultimate success, my little party was the last to surrender and showed the smallest percentage of fugitives.

I saw in those days of strife that of the two contending parties, the stronger, the victorious one, was by far the least sympathetic in its moral attitude and methods. The strikers were pathetically stupid and ignorant about the strength of their opponents and their own weakness. If they had unexpectedly gained a complete victory they would have been utterly unable to use it. If the political power had shifted from the hands of the Government to those of the leading staff of that general strike, the[250] result would have been a terrible confusion. There was no mind strong enough, no hand firm enough among them to rule and reorganize that mass of workers, unaccustomed to freedom, untrained to self-control, unable to work without severe authority and discipline. Yet the feelings and motives of that multitude were fair and just—they showed a chivalry, a generosity, an idealism and an enthusiasm with which the low methods of their powerful opponents contrasted painfully.

Every striker had to fight his own fight at home. Every evening he had to face the worn and anxious face of his wife, the sight of his children in danger of starvation and misery. He had to notice the hidden tears of the woman, or to answer her doubts and reproaches, with a mind itself far from confident. He had to fight in his own heart the egotistical inclination to save himself and give up what he felt to be his best sentiment, solidarity, the faith towards his comrades.

I believe no feeling man of the leisure class could have gone through a week in those surroundings and taken part in a struggle like this without acquiring a different conception of the ethics of socialism and class war.

For on the other side there were the Government, the companies, the defendants of existing order, powerful by their wealth, by their routine, by their experience, and supported by the servility of the great public and the army. They had not to face any real danger (the strikers showed no inclination to deeds of violence), and the arms they used were intimidation and bribery. The only thing for them to do was to demoralize the striker, to make him an egoist, a coward, a traitor to his comrades. And this was done quietly and successfully.

Demoralizing the enemy may be the lawful object of[251] every war—the unavoidable evil to prevent a greater wrong; yet in this case, where the method of corruption could be used only on one side, it showed the ugly character of the conflict. This was no fair battle with common moral rules of chivalry and generosity; it was a pitiful and hopeless struggle between a weak slave and a strong usurper, between an ill-treated, revolting child and a brutal oppressor, who cared only for the restoration of his authority, not for the morals of the child.

What Meaneth a Tyrant, and how he Useth his Power in a Kingdom When he hath Obtained it

(From “Las Siete Partidas”)

By Alfonso the Wise

(A Spanish king of great learning; 1226-1284)

A tyrant doth signify a cruel lord, who, by force or by craft, or by treachery, hath obtained power over any realm or country; and such men be of such nature, that when once they have grown strong in the land, they love rather to work their own profit, though it be to the harm of the land, than the common profit of all, for they always live in an ill fear of losing it. And that they may be able to fulfil this their purpose unencumbered, the wise of old have said that they use their power against the people in three manners. The first is, that they strive that those under their mastery be ever ignorant and timorous, because, when they be such, they may not be bold to rise against them, nor to resist their wills; and the second is, that their victims be not kindly and united among themselves, in such wise that they[252] trust not one another, for while they live in disagreement, they shall not dare to make any discourse against their lord, for fear faith and secrecy should not be kept among themselves; and the third way is, that they strive to make them poor, and to put them upon great undertakings, which they can never finish, whereby they may have so much harm that it may never come into their hearts to devise anything against their ruler. And above all this, have tyrants ever striven to make spoil of the strong and to destroy the wise; and have forbidden fellowship and assemblies of men in their land, and striven always to know what men said or did; and do trust their counsel and the guard of their person rather to foreigners, who will serve at their will, than to them of the land, who serve from oppression.

An Open Letter to the Employers

By “A.E.” (George W. Russell)

(This remarkable piece of eloquence, published in the Dublin Times at the time of the great strike of 1913, is said to have completely revolutionized public opinion on the question. The author, born 1867, is one of Ireland’s greatest poets, and an ardent advocate of agricultural co-operation)

Sirs:—I address this warning to you, the aristocracy of industry in this city, because, like all aristocracies, you tend to grow blind in long authority, and to be unaware that you and your class and its every action are being considered and judged day by day by those who have power to shake or overturn the whole social order, and whose restlessness in poverty today is making our industrial civilization stir like a quaking bog. You[253] do not seem to realize that your assumption that you are answerable to yourselves alone for your actions in the industries you control is one that becomes less and less tolerable in a world so crowded with necessitous life. Some of you have helped Irish farmers to upset a landed aristocracy in the island, an aristocracy richer and more powerful in its sphere than you are in yours, with its roots deep in history. They, too, as a class, though not all of them, were scornful or neglectful of the workers in the industry by which they profited; and to many who knew them in their pride of place and thought them all-powerful they are already becoming a memory, the good disappearing with the bad. If they had done their duty by those from whose labor came their wealth, they might have continued unquestioned in power and prestige for centuries to come. The relation of landlord and tenant is not an ideal one, but any relations in a social order will endure if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy which qualifies life for immortality. Despotisms endure while they are benevolent, and aristocracies while “noblesse oblige” is not a phrase to be referred to with a cynical smile. Even an oligarchy might be permanent if the spirit of human kindness, which harmonizes all things otherwise incompatible, were present....

Those who have economic power have civic power also, yet you have not used the power that was yours to right what was wrong in the evil administration of this city. You have allowed the poor to be herded together so that one thinks of certain places in Dublin as of a pestilence. There are twenty thousand rooms, in each of which live entire families, and sometimes more, where no functions of the body can be concealed, and delicacy[254] and modesty are creatures that are stifled ere they are born. The obvious duty of you in regard to these things you might have left undone, and it be imputed to ignorance or forgetfulness; but your collective and conscious action as a class in the present labor dispute has revealed you to the world in so malign an aspect that the mirror must be held up to you, so that you may see yourself as every humane person sees you.

The conception of yourselves as altogether virtuous and wronged is, I assure you, not at all the one which onlookers hold of you.... The representatives of labor unions in Great Britain met you, and you made of them a preposterous, an impossible demand, and because they would not accede to it you closed the Conference; you refused to meet them further; you assumed that no other guarantees than those you asked were possible, and you determined deliberately, in cold anger, to starve out one-third of the population of this city, to break the manhood of the men by the sight of the suffering of their wives and the hunger of their children. We read in the Dark Ages of the rack and thumbscrew. But these iniquities were hidden and concealed from the knowledge of men in dungeons and torture-chambers. Even in the Dark Ages humanity could not endure the sight of such suffering, and it learnt of such misuse of power by slow degrees, through rumor, and when it was certain it razed its Bastilles to their foundations. It remained for the twentieth century and the capital city of Ireland to see an oligarchy of four hundred masters deciding openly upon starving one hundred thousand people, and refusing to consider any solution except that fixed by their pride. You, masters, asked men to do that which masters of labor in any other city in these islands had not dared[255] to do. You insolently demanded of these men who were members of a trade union that they should resign from that union; and from those who were not members you insisted on a vow that they would never join it.

Your insolence and ignorance of the rights conceded to workers universally in the modern world were incredible, and as great as your inhumanity. If you had between you collectively a portion of human soul as large as a three-penny bit, you would have sat night and day with the representatives of labor, trying this or that solution of the trouble, mindful of the women and children, who at least were innocent of wrong against you. But no! You reminded labor you could always have your three square meals a day while it went hungry. You went into conference again with representatives of the State, because, dull as you are, you knew public opinion would not stand your holding out. You chose as your spokesman the bitterest tongue that ever wagged in this island, and then, when an award was made by men who have an experience in industrial matters a thousand times transcending yours, who have settled disputes in industries so great that the sum of your petty enterprises would not equal them, you withdraw again, and will not agree to accept their solution, and fall back again on your devilish policy of starvation. Cry aloud to Heaven for new souls! The souls you have got cast upon the screen of publicity appear like the horrid and writhing creatures enlarged from the insect world, and revealed to us by the cinematograph.

You may succeed in your policy and ensure your own damnation by your victory. The men whose manhood you have broken will loathe you, and will always be brooding and scheming to strike a fresh blow. The[256] children will be taught to curse you. The infant being molded in the womb will have breathed into its starved body the vitality of hate. It is not they—it is you who are blind Samsons pulling down the pillars of the social order. You are sounding the death-knell of autocracy in industry. There was autocracy in political life, and it was superseded by democracy. So surely will democratic power wrest from you the control of industry. The fate of you, the aristocracy of industry, will be as the fate of the aristocracy of land if you do not show that you have some humanity still among you. Humanity abhors, above all things, a vacuum in itself, and your class will be cut off from humanity as the surgeon cuts the cancer and alien growth from the body. Be warned ere it is too late.

God and the Strong Ones

By Margaret Widdemer

(Contemporary American poet)

“We have made them fools and weak!” said the Strong Ones:
“We have bound them, they are dumb and deaf and blind;
We have crushed them in our hands like a heap of crumbling sands,
We have left them naught to seek or find:
They are quiet at our feet!” said the Strong Ones;
“We have made them one with wood and stone and clod;
Serf and laborer and woman, they are less than wise or human!—--”
“I shall raise the weak!” saith God.
“They are stirring in the dark!” said the Strong Ones,
“They are struggling, who were moveless like the dead;
We can hear them cry and strain hand and foot against the chain,
We can hear their heavy upward tread....
What if they are restless?” said the Strong Ones;
“What if they have stirred beneath the rod?
Fools and weak and blinded men, we can tread them down again——”
“Shall ye conquer Me?” saith God.
“They will trample us and bind!” said the Strong Ones;
“We are crushed beneath the blackened feet and hands;
All the strong and fair and great they will crush from out the state;
They will whelm it with the weight of pressing sands—
They are maddened and are blind!” said the Strong Ones;
“Black decay has come where they have trod;
They will break the world in twain if their hands are on the rein—”
“What is that to me?” saith God.
“Ye have made them in their strength, who were Strong Ones,.
Ye have only taught the blackness ye have known:.
These are evil men and blind?—Ay, but molded to your mind!.
How shall ye cry out against your own?.
Ye have held the light and beauty I have given.
Far above the muddied ways where they must plod:.
Ye have builded this your lord with the lash and with the sword—.
Reap what ye have sown!” saith God.


The Weavers

By Gerhart Hauptmann

(German dramatist and poet, born 1862. The present play is a wonderful picture of the lives of the weavers of Silesia, driven to revolt by starvation. Moritz, a soldier, has just come home to his friends)

Ansorge:—Come, then, Moritz, tell us your opinion, you that’s been out and seen the world. Are things at all like improving for us weavers, eh?

Moritz:—They would need to.

Ansorge:—We’re in an awful state here. It’s not livin’ an’ it’s not dyin’. A man fights to the bitter end, but he’s bound to be beat at last—to be left without a roof over his head, you may say without ground under his feet. As long as he can work at the loom he can earn some sort o’ poor, miserable livin’. But it’s many a day since I’ve been able to get that sort o’ job. Now I tries to put a bite into my mouth with this here basket-makin’. I sits at it late into the night, and by the time I tumbles into bed I’ve earned twelve pfennig. I put it to you if a man can live on that, when everything’s so dear? Nine marks goes in one lump for house tax, three marks for land tax, nine marks for mortgage interest—that makes twenty-one marks. I may reckon my year’s earnin’s at just double that money, and that leaves me twenty-one marks for a whole year’s food, an’ fire, an’ clothes, an’ shoes; and I’ve got to keep up some sort of place to live in. Is it any wonder that I’m behind-hand with my interest payments?

Old Baumert:—Some one would need to go to Berlin an’ tell the King how hard put to it we are.


Moritz:—Little good that would do, Father Baumert. There’s been plenty written about it in the newspapers. But the rich people, they can turn and twist things round—as cunning as the devil himself.

Old Baumert (shaking his head):—To think they’ve no more sense than that in Berlin!

Ansorge:—And is it really true, Moritz? Is there no law to help us? If a man hasn’t been able to scrape together enough to pay his mortgage interest, though he’s worked the very skin off his hands, must his house be taken from him? The peasant that’s lent the money on it, he wants his rights—what else can you look for from him? But what’s to be the end of it all, I don’t know.—If I’m put out o’ the house.... (In a voice choked by tears.) I was born here, and here my father sat at his loom for more than forty years. Many was the time he said to mother: Mother, when I’m gone, the house’ll still be here. I’ve worked hard for it. Every nail means a night’s weaving, every plank a year’s dry bread. A man would think that....

Moritz:—They’re quite fit to take the last bite out of your mouth—that’s what they are.

Ansorge:—Well, well, well! I would rather be carried out than have to walk out now in my old days. Who minds dyin’? My father, he was glad to die. At the very end he got frightened, but I crept into bed beside him, an’ he quieted down again. I was a lad of thirteen then. I was tired and fell asleep beside him—I knew no better—and when I woke he was quite cold....

(They eat the food which the soldier has brought, but the old man Baumert is too far exhausted to retain it, and has to run from the room. He comes back crying with rage.)

Baumert:—It’s no good! I’m too far gone! Now[260] that I’ve at last got hold of somethin’ with a taste in it, my stomach won’t keep it. (He sits down on the bench by the stove crying.)

Moritz (with a sudden violent ebullition of rage):—And yet there are people not far from here, justices they call themselves too, over-fed brutes, that have nothing to do all the year round but invent new ways of wasting their time. And these people say that the weavers would be quite well off if only they weren’t so lazy.

Ansorge:—The men as say that are no men at all, they’re monsters.

Moritz:—Never mind, Father Ansorge; we’re making the place hot for ’em. Becker and I have been and given Dreissiger (the master) a piece of our mind, and before we came away we sang him “Bloody Justice.”

Ansorge:—Good Lord! Is that the song?

Moritz:—Yes; I have it here.

Ansorge:—They call it Dreissiger’s song, don’t they?

Moritz:—I’ll read it to you.

Mother Baumert:—Who wrote it?

Moritz:—That’s what nobody knows. Now listen. (He reads, hesitating like a schoolboy, with incorrect accentuation, but unmistakably strong feeling. Despair, suffering, rage, hatred, thirst for revenge, all find utterance.)

The justice to us weavers dealt
Is bloody, cruel, and hateful;
Our life’s one torture, long drawn out:
For lynch law we’d be grateful.
Stretched on the rack day after day,
Hearts sick and bodies aching,
Our heavy sighs their witness bear
To spirit slowly breaking.


(The words of the song make a strong impression on Old Baumert. Deeply agitated, he struggles against the temptation to interrupt Moritz. At last he can keep quiet no longer.)

Old Baumert (to his wife, half laughing, half crying, stammering):—“Stretched on the rack day after day.” Whoever wrote that, mother, knew the truth. You can bear witness ... eh, how does it go? “Our heavy sighs their witness bear” ... what’s the rest?

Moritz:—“To spirit slowly breaking.”

Old Baumert:—You know the way we sigh, mother, day and night, sleepin’ an’ wakin’.

(Ansorge has stopped working, and cowers on the floor, strongly agitated. Mother Baumert and Bertha wipe their eyes frequently during the course of the reading.)

Moritz (continues to read):—

The Dreissigers true hangmen are,
Servants no whit behind them;
Masters and men with one accord
Set on the poor to grind them.
You villains all, you brood of hell——

Old Baumert (trembling with rage, stamping on the floor):—Yes, brood of hell!!!

Moritz (reads):—

You fiends in fashion human,
A curse will fall on all like you,
Who prey on man and woman.

Ansorge:—Yes, yes, a curse upon them!

Old Baumert (clenching his fist, threateningly):—You prey on man and woman.


Moritz (reads):—

Then think of all our woe and want,
O ye who hear this ditty!
Our struggle vain for daily bread
Hard hearts would move to pity.
But pity’s what you’ve never known,—
You’d take both skin and clothing,
You cannibals, whose cruel deeds
Fill all good men with loathing.

Old Baumert (jumps up, beside himself with excitement):—Both skin and clothing. It’s true, it’s all true! Here I stand, Robert Baumert, master-weaver of Kaschbach. Who can bring up anything against me?... I’ve been an honest, hard-working man all my life long, an’ look at me now! What have I to show for it? Look at me! See what they’ve made of me! Stretched on the rack day after day. (He holds out his arms.) Feel that! Skin and bone! “You villains all, you brood of hell!!” (He sinks down on a chair, weeping with rage and despair.)

Ansorge (flings his basket from him into a corner, rises, his whole body trembling with rage, gasps):—And the time’s come now for a change, I say. We’ll stand it no longer! We’ll stand it no longer! Come what may!


Alton Locke’s Song: 1848

By Charles Kingsley

(See pages 78, 84, 223)

Weep, weep, weep and weep
For pauper, dolt and slave!
Hark! from wasted moor and fen
Feverous alley, stifling den,
Swells the wail of Saxon men—
Work! or the grave!
Down, down, down and down,
With idler, knave, and tyrant!
Why for sluggards cark and moil?
He that will not live by toil
Has no right on English soil!
God’s word’s our warrant!
Up, up, up and up!
Face your game and play it!
The night is past, behold the sun!
The idols fall, the lie is done!
The Judge is set, the doom begun!
Who shall stay it?

By G. Bernard Shaw

Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the Rich is Uselessness.


By Robert G. Ingersoll

(American lawyer and lecturer, 1883-1899)

Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has a right to the thing produced.


(A parody upon a poem by Rudyard Kipling; author unknown. The poem is frequently, but incorrectly, attributed to Mr. Kipling)

We have fed you all for a thousand years,
And you hail us still unfed,
Tho’ there’s never a dollar of all your wealth
But marks the workers’ dead.
We have yielded our best to give you rest,
And you lie on crimson wool;
For if blood be the price of all your wealth
Good God, we ha’ paid in full!
There’s never a mine blown skyward now
But we’re buried alive for you;
There’s never a wreck drifts shoreward now
But we are its ghastly crew;
Go reckon our dead by the forges red,
And the factories where we spin.
If blood be the price of your cursed wealth
Good God, we ha’ paid it in!
We have fed you all for a thousand years,
For that was our doom, you know,
From the days when you chained us in your fields
To the strike of a week ago.
You ha’ eaten our lives and our babies and wives,
And we’re told it’s your legal share;
But, if blood be the price of your lawful wealth,
Good God, we ha’ bought it fair!

The Two “Reigns of Terror”

(From “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”)

(America’s favorite humorist, 1837-1910)

There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with life-long death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.

(Quoted by special permission of Harper & Brothers.)


In Trafalgar Square

(From “Songs of the Army of the Night”)

By Francis W. L. Adams

(See page 219)

The stars shone faint through the smoky blue;
The church-bells were ringing;
Three girls, arms laced, were passing through,
Tramping and singing.
Their heads were bare; their short skirts swung
As they went along;
Their scarf-covered breasts heaved up, as they sung
Their defiant song.
It was not too clean, their feminine lay,
But it thrilled me quite
With its challenge to task-master villainous day
And infamous night,
With its threat to the robber rich, the proud,
The respectable free.
And I laughed and shouted to them aloud,
And they shouted to me!
Girls, that’s the shout, the shout we will utter
When, with rifles and spades,
We stand, with the old Red Flag aflutter,
On the barricades!


The Orator on the Barricade

(From “Les Miserables”)

By Victor Hugo

(See page 182)

Friends, the hour in which we live, and in which I speak to you, is a gloomy hour, but of such is the terrible price of the future. A revolution is a toll-gate. Oh! the human race shall be delivered, uplifted and consoled! We affirm it on this barricade. Whence shall arise the shout of love, if it be not from the summit of sacrifice? O my brothers, here is the place of junction between those who think and those who suffer; this barricade is made neither of paving-stones, nor of timbers, nor of iron; it is made of two mounds, a mound of ideas and a mound of sorrows. Misery here encounters the ideal. Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with thee and thou shalt be born again with me. From the pressure of all desolations faith gushes forth. Sufferings bring their agony here, and ideas their immortality. This agony and this immortality are to mingle and compose our death. Brothers, he who dies here dies in the radiance of the future, and we are entering a grave illumined by the dawn.


Europe: The 72nd and 73rd Years of These States

By Walt Whitman

(The European revolutions of 1848-49)

Suddenly out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Like lightning it le’pt forth half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its hands tight to the throats of kings.
O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots’ lives!
O many a sicken’d heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.
And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming from his simplicity the poor man’s wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken, and laugh’d at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these, did the blows strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn’d the ferocity of kings.
But the sweetness of mercy brew’d bitter destruction, and the frighten’d monarchs come back;
Each comes in state, with his train—hangman, priest, tax-gatherer,
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.
Yet behind all, lowering, stealing—lo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminable, head, front, and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by the arm,
One finger, crook’d, pointed high over the top, like the head of a snake appears.
Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves—bloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.
Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets—those hearts pierc’d by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughter’d vitality.
They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught and exalted.
Not a grave of the murder’d for freedom, but grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains and the snows nourish.
Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counselling, cautioning.
Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair of you.
Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless, be ready—be not weary of watching;
He will return soon—his messengers come anon.

The Dead to the Living

By Ferdinand Freiligrath

(German revolutionary poet, 1810-1876. Part of a poem written after the uprising of 1848, in Berlin, when the people marched past the palace-gates with their slain, and compelled the king to stand upon the balcony and take off his hat to the bodies)

With bullets through and through our breast—our forehead split with pike and spear,
So bear us onward shoulder high, laid dead upon a blood-stained bier;
Yea, shoulder-high above the crowd, that on the man that bade us die,
Our dreadful death-distorted face may be a bitter curse for aye;
That he may see it day and night, or when he wakes, or when he sleeps,
Or when he opes his holy book, or when with wine high revel keeps;
That always each disfeatured face, each gaping wound his sight may sear,
And brood above his bed of death, and curdle all his blood with fear!


Free Speech

By Sir Leslie Stephen

(English essayist and critic, 1832-1904)

I, for one, am fully prepared to listen to any arguments for the propriety of theft or murder, or if it be possible, of immorality in the abstract. No doctrine, however well established, should be protected from discussion. If, as a matter of fact, any appreciable number of persons are so inclined to advocate murder on principle, I should wish them to state their opinions openly and fearlessly, because I should think that the shortest way of exploding the principle and of ascertaining the true causes of such a perversion of moral sentiment. Such a state of things implies the existence of evils which cannot be really cured till their cause is known, and the shortest way to discover the cause is to give a hearing to the alleged reasons.

By Wendell Phillips

(American anti-slavery agitator, 1811-1884)

If there is anything that cannot bear free thought, let it crack.


The Mask of Anarchy

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

(English poet of nature and human liberty, 1792-1822, whose whole life was a cry for beauty and freedom. He died in obloquy and neglect, and today is known as “the Poets’ Poet”)

Men of England, Heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty mother,
Hopes of her, and one another!
Rise, like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew,
Which in sleep had fall’n on you.
Ye are many, they are few.
What is Freedom! Ye can tell
That which Slavery is too well,
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
’Tis to work, and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell:
So that ye for them are made,
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade;
With or without your own will, bent
To their defence and nourishment.
’Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak:—
They are dying whilst I speak.
’Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye.
’Tis to be a slave in soul,
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

Real Liberty

By Henrik Ibsen

(See page 241)

Away with the State! I will take part in that revolution. Undermine the whole conception of a state, declare free choice and spiritual kinship to be the only all-important conditions of any union, and you will have the commencement of a liberty that is worth something.


Christmas in Prison

(From “The Jungle”)

By Upton Sinclair

(See pages 43, 143, 194)

In the distance there was a church-tower bell that tolled the hours one by one. When it came to midnight Jurgis was lying upon the floor with his head in his arms, listening. Instead of falling silent at the end, the bell broke out into a sudden clangor. Jurgis raised his head; what could that mean—a fire? God! suppose there were to be a fire in this jail! But then he made out a melody in the ringing; there were chimes. And they seemed to waken the city—all around, far and near, there were bells, ringing wild music; for fully a minute Jurgis lay lost in wonder, before, all at once, the meaning of it broke over him—that this was Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve—he had forgotten it entirely! There was a breaking of flood-gates, a whirl of new memories and new griefs rushing into his mind. In far Lithuania they had celebrated Christmas; and it came to him as if it had been yesterday—himself a little child, with his lost brother and his dead father in the cabin in the deep black forest, where the snow fell all day and all night and buried them from the world. It was too far off for Santa Claus in Lithuania, but it was not too far for peace and good-will to men, for the wonder-bearing vision of the Christ-child.

But no, their bells were not ringing for him—their Christmas was not meant for him, they were simply not counting him at all. He was of no consequence, like a bit of trash, the carcass of some animal. It was horrible,[275] horrible! His wife might be dying, his baby might be starving, his whole family might be perishing in the cold—and all the while they were ringing their Christmas chimes! And the bitter mockery of it—all this was punishment for him! They put him in a place where the snow could not beat in, where the cold could not eat through his bones; they brought him food and drink—why, in the name of heaven, if they must punish him, did they not put his family in jail and leave him outside—why could they find no better way to punish him than to leave three weak women and six helpless children to starve and freeze?

That was their law, that was their justice! Jurgis stood upright, trembling with passion, his hands clenched and his arms upraised, his whole soul ablaze with hatred and defiance. Ten thousand curses upon them and their law! Their justice—it was a lie, a sham and a loathsome mockery. There was no justice, there was no right, anywhere in it—it was only force, it was tyranny, the will and the power, reckless and unrestrained!

These midnight hours were fateful ones to Jurgis; in them was the beginning of his rebellion, of his outlawry and his unbelief. He had no wit to trace back the social crime to its far sources—he could not say it was the thing men have called “the system” that was crushing him to the earth; that it was the packers, his masters, who had bought up the law of the land, and had dealt out their brutal will to him from the seat of justice. He only knew that he was wronged, and that the world had wronged him; that the law, that society, with all its powers, had declared itself his foe. And every hour his soul grew blacker, every hour he dreamed new dreams of vengeance, of defiance, of raging, frenzied hate.


Robbers and Governments

By Leo Tolstoy

(See pages 88, 110, 148)

The robber generally plundered the rich, the governments generally plunder the poor and protect those rich who assist in their crimes. The robber doing his work risked his life, while the governments risk nothing, but base their whole activity on lies and deception. The robber did not compel anyone to join his band, the governments generally enrol their soldiers by force.... The robber did not intentionally vitiate people, but the governments, to accomplish their ends, vitiate whole generations from childhood to manhood with false religions and patriotic instruction.

“Gunmen” in Israel

(From “A Sociological Study of the Bible”)

By Louis Wallis

We saw that the great revolt under David was put down by the assistance of mercenary troops, or hired “strong men,” and that by their aid Solomon was elevated to the throne against the wishes of the peasantry. In the Hebrew text, these men of power are called gibborim. They were among the principal tools used by the kings in maintaining the government. It was the gibborim who garrisoned the royal strongholds that held the country in awe. In cases where the peasants refused to submit, bands of gibborim were sent out by the kings and the great nobles. Through them the peasantry were[277] “civilized”; and through them, apparently, the Amorite law was enforced in opposition to the old justice.

Hence the prophets were very bitter against these tools of the ruling class. Hosea writes: “Thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy gibborim; therefore shall a tumult arise against thy people; and all thy fortresses shall be destroyed.” Amos, the shepherd, says that when Jehovah shall punish the land, the gibborim shall fall: “Flight shall perish from the swift ... neither shall the gibbor deliver himself; neither shall he stand that handeth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself; ... and he that is courageous among the gibborim shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah.”

“Gunmen” in West Virginia

(“When the Leaves Come Out”)

By a Paint Creek Miner

(Written during the terrible strike of 1911-12)

The hills are very bare and cold and lonely;
I wonder what the future months will bring.
The strike is on—our strength would win, if only—
O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!
They’ve got us down—their martial lines enfold us;
They’ve thrown us out to feel the winter’s sting,
And yet, by God, those curs can never hold us,
Nor could the dogs of hell do such a thing!
It isn’t just to see the hills beside me
Grow fresh and green with every growing thing;
I only want the leaves to come and hide me,
To cover up my vengeful wandering.
I will not watch the floating clouds that hover
Above the birds that warble on the wing;
I want to use this GUN from under cover—
O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!
You see them there, below, the damned scab-herders!
Those puppets on the greedy Owners’ String;
We’ll make them pay for all their dirty murders—
We’ll show them how a starveling’s hate can sting!
They riddled us with volley after volley;
We heard their speeding bullets zip and ring,
But soon we’ll make them suffer for their folly—
O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

From Ecclesiastes

Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad.

Political Violence

(From an Anarchist pamphlet published in London; author unknown)

Under miserable conditions of life, any vision of the possibility of better things makes the present misery more intolerable, and spurs those who suffer to the most energetic struggles to improve their lot; and if[279] these struggles only result in sharper misery, the outcome is sheer desperation. In our present society, for instance, an exploited wage worker, who catches a glimpse of what life and work ought to be, finds the toilsome routine and the squalor of his existence almost intolerable; and even when he has the resolution and courage to continue steadily working his best, and waiting until new ideas have so permeated society as to pave the way for better times, the mere fact that he has such ideas and tries to spread them, brings him into difficulties with his employers. How many thousands of Socialists, and above all Anarchists, have lost work and even the chance of work, solely on the ground of their opinions. It is only the specially gifted craftsman who, if he be a zealous propagandist, can hope to retain permanent employment. And what happens to a man with his brain working actively with a ferment of new ideas, with a vision before his eyes of a new hope dawning for toiling and agonizing men, with the knowledge that his suffering and that of his fellows in misery is not caused by the cruelty of fate, but by the injustice of other human beings,—what happens to such a man when he sees those dear to him starving, when he himself is starved? Some natures in such a plight, and those by no means the least social or the least sensitive, will become violent, and will even feel that their violence is social and not anti-social, that in striking when and how they can, they are striking, not for themselves, but for human nature, outraged and despoiled in their persons and in those of their fellow sufferers. And are we, who ourselves are not in this horrible predicament, to stand by and coldly condemn those piteous victims of the Furies and Fates? Are we to decry as miscreants these human beings who act with[280] heroic self-devotion, sacrificing their lives in protest, where less social and less energetic natures would lie down and grovel in abject submission to injustice and wrong? Are we to join the ignorant and brutal outcry which stigmatizes such men as monsters of wickedness, gratuitously running amuck in a harmonious and innocently peaceful society? No! We hate murder with a hatred that may seem absurdly exaggerated to apologists for Matabele massacres, to callous acquiescers in hangings and bombardments; but we decline in such cases of homicide, or attempted homicide, as those of which we are treating, to be guilty of the cruel injustice of flinging the whole responsibility of the deed upon the immediate perpetrator. The guilt of these homicides lies upon every man and woman who, intentionally or by cold indifference, helps to keep up social conditions that drive human beings to despair. The man who flings his whole life into the attempt, at the cost of his own life, to protest against the wrongs of his fellow-men, is a saint compared to the active and passive upholders of cruelty and injustice, even if his protest destroys other lives besides his own. Let him who is without sin in society cast the first stone at such an one.


The Bomb

By Frank Harris

(The English author, born 1855, author of “The Man Shakespeare,” has in this novel told the inside story of the Haymarket explosion in Chicago in 1886. The following passage describes the treatment which the strikers received from the police)

A meeting was called on a waste space in Packingtown, and over a thousand workmen came together. I went there out of curiosity. Lingg, I may say here, always went alone to these strike meetings. Ida told me once that he suffered so much at them that he could not bear to be seen, and perhaps that was the explanation of his solitary ways. Fielden, the Englishman, spoke first, and was cheered to the echo; the workmen knew him as a working-man and liked him; besides, he talked in a homely way, and was easy to understand. Spies spoke in German and was cheered also. The meeting was perfectly orderly when three hundred police tried to disperse it. The action was ill-advised, to say the best of it, and tyrannical; the strikers were hurting no one and interfering with no one. Without warning or reason the police tried to push their way through the crowd to the speakers; finding a sort of passive resistance and not being able to overcome it, they used their clubs savagely. One or two of the strikers, hot-headed, bared their knives, and at once the police, led on by that madman, Schaack, drew their revolvers and fired. It looked as if the police had been waiting for the opportunity. Three strikers were shot dead on the spot, and more than twenty were wounded, several of them dangerously, before the mob drew sullenly away from the horrible place. A leader,[282] a word, and not one of the police would have escaped alive; but the leader was not there, and the word was not given, so the wrong was done, and went unpunished.

I do not know how I reached my room that afternoon. The sight of the dead men lying stark there in the snow had excited me to madness. The picture of one man followed me like an obsession; he was wounded to death, shot through the lungs; he lifted himself up on his left hand and shook the right at the police, crying in a sort of frenzy till the spouting blood choked him—

“Bestien! Bestien!” (“Beasts! Beasts!”)

I can still see him wiping the blood-stained froth from his lips; I went to help him; but all he could gasp was, “Weib! Kinder! (Wife, children!)” Never shall I forget the despair in his face. I supported him gently; again and again I wiped the blood from his lips; every breath brought up a flood; his poor eyes thanked me, though he could not speak, and soon his eyes closed; flickered out, as one might say, and he lay there still enough in his own blood; “murdered,” as I said to myself when I laid the poor body back; “murdered!”

(As a result of this police action, the narrator goes to the next meeting of the strikers with a bomb in his pocket.)

The crowd began to drift away at the edges. I was alone and curiously watchful. I saw the mayor and the officials move off towards the business part of the town. It looked for a few minutes as if everything was going to pass over in peace; but I was not relieved. I could hear my own heart beating, and suddenly I felt something in the air; it was sentient with expectancy. I slowly turned my head. I was on the very outskirts of the crowd, and as I turned I saw that Bonfield had marched out his police, and was minded to take his own way with[283] the meeting now that the mayor had left. I felt personal antagonism stiffen my muscles.... It grew darker and darker every moment. Suddenly there came a flash, and then a peal of thunder. At the end of the flash, as it seemed to me, I saw the white clubs falling, saw the police striking down the men running along the sidewalk. At once my mind was made up. I put my left hand on the outside of my trousers to hold the bomb tight, and my right hand into the pocket, and drew the tape. I heard a little rasp. I began to count slowly, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven;” as I got to seven the police were quite close to me, bludgeoning every one furiously. Two or three of the foremost had drawn their revolvers. The crowd were flying in all directions. Suddenly there was a shot, and then a dozen shots, all, it seemed to me, fired by the police. Rage blazed in me.

I took the bomb out of my pocket, careless whether I was seen or not, and looked for the right place to throw it; then I hurled it over my shoulder high in the air, towards the middle of the police, and at the same moment I stumbled forward, just as if I had fallen, throwing myself on my hands and face, for I had seen the spark. It seemed as if I had been on my hands for an eternity, when I was crushed to the ground, and my ears split with the roar. I scrambled to my feet again, gasping. Men were thrown down in front of me, and were getting up on their hands. I heard groans and cries, and shrieks behind me. I turned around; as I turned a strong arm was thrust through mine, and I heard Lingg say—

“Come, Rudolph, this way;” and he drew me to the sidewalk, and we walked past where the police had been.

“Don’t look,” he whispered suddenly; “don’t look.”


But before he spoke I had looked, and what I saw will be before my eyes till I die. The street was one shambles; in the very center of it a great pit yawned, and round it men lying, or pieces of men, in every direction, and close to me, near the side-walk as I passed, a leg and foot torn off, and near by two huge pieces of bleeding red meat, skewered together with a thigh-bone. My soul sickened; my senses left me; but Lingg held me up with superhuman strength, and drew me along.

“Hold yourself up, Rudolph,” he whispered; “come on, man,” and the next moment we had passed it all, and I clung to him, trembling like a leaf. When we got to the end of the block I realized that I was wet through from head to foot, as if I had been plunged in cold water.

“I must stop,” I gasped. “I cannot walk, Lingg.”

“Nonsense,” he said; “take a drink of this,” and he thrust a flask of brandy into my hand. The brandy I poured down my throat set my heart beating again, allowed me to breathe, and I walked on with him.

“How you are shaking,” he said. “Strange, you neurotic people; you do everything perfectly, splendidly, and then break down like women. Come, I am not going to leave you; but for God’s sake throw off that shaken, white look. Drink some more.”

I tried to; but the flask was empty. He put it back in his pocket.

“Here is the bottle,” he said. “I have brought enough; but we must get to the depot.”

We saw fire engines with police on them, galloping like madmen in the direction whence we had come. The streets were crowded with people, talking, gesticulating, like actors. Every one seemed to know of the bomb already, and to be talking about it. I noticed that even[285] here, fully a block away, the pavement was covered with pieces of glass; all the windows had been broken by the explosion.

As we came in front of the depot, just before we passed into the full glare of the arc-lamps, Lingg said—

“Let me look at you,” and as he let go my arm, I almost fell; my legs were like German sausages; they felt as if they had no bones in them, and would bend in any direction; in spite of every effort they would shake.

“Come, Rudolph,” he said, “we’ll stop and talk; but you must come to yourself. Take another drink, and think of nothing. I will save you; you are too good to lose. Come, dear friend, don’t let them crow over us.”

My heart seemed to be in my mouth, but I swallowed it down. I took another swig of brandy, and then a long drink of it. It might have been water for all I tasted; but it seemed to do me some little good. In a minute or so I had got hold of myself.

“I’m all right,” I said; “what is there to do now?”

“Simply to go through the depot,” he said, “as if there were nothing the matter, and take the train.”




Messages and records of the heroes of past and present who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of the future.


Social Ideals

By Vida D. Scudder

(Professor at Wellesley College, Mass.; born 1861)

Deeper than all theories, apart from all discussion, the mighty instinct for social justice shapes the hearts that are ready to receive it. The personal types thus created are the harbingers of the victory of the cause of freedom. The heralds of freedom, they are also its martyrs. The delicate vibrations of their consciousness thrill through the larger social self which more stolid people still ignore, and the pain of the world is their own. Not for one instant can they know an undimmed joy in art, in thought, in nature while part of their very life throbs in the hunger of the dispossessed. All this by no virtue, no choice of their own. So were they born: the children of the new age, whom the new intuition governs. In every country, out of every class, they gather: men and women vowed to simplicity of life and to social service; possessed by a force mightier than themselves, over which they have no control; aware of the lack of social harmony in our civilization, restless with pain, perplexity, distress, yet filled with deep inward peace as they obey the imperative claim of a widened consciousness. By active ministry, and yet more by prayer and fast and vigil, they seek to prepare the way for the spiritual democracy on which their souls are set.


Le Père Perdrix

By Charles-Louis Philippe

(A poor and obscure clerk of the municipality of Paris, 1875-1909, who wrote seven volumes of fiction which have placed his name among the masters of French literature. He wrote of the poor whose lives he knew, and his work is characterized by fidelity to truth, beauty of sentiment, and rare charm of style. The following scene is in the home of a workingman, who by heavy sacrifice has succeeded in educating his only son. One day unexpectedly the son returns home)

Pierre Bousset said, “How does it happen that you come to-day?”

Jean sat down with slowness enough, and one saw yet another thing sit down in the house. The mother said, “I guess you haven’t eaten. I’ll make a little chocolate before noon-time.”

Jean’s tongue was loosed. “Here it is. There is something new. It is necessary to tell you: I have left my place!”

“How! You have left your place!” They sat up all three—Pierre Bousset with his apron and his back of labor; and Jean saw that he had gray hair. The mother held a saucepan in her hand, careful like a kitchen-servant, but with feelings as if the saucepan were about to fall. Marguerite, the sister, was already weeping: “Ah, my God! I who was so proud!”

Pierre Bousset said, “And how did you manage that clever stroke?”

It was then that Jean felt his soul wither, and there rose up from the depths of his heart all the needs, all the mists of love. It was necessary that they should live side by side and understand one another, and it was[291] necessary that someone should begin to weaken. He said, “Does one ever know what one does?”

“Ah, indeed!” said the father. “You don’t know what you do?”

“There are moments,” answered Jean, “when one loses his head, and afterwards I don’t say one should not have regrets.”

“For the matter of losing one’s head, I know only one thing: It is that they pay you, and it is up to you always to obey whatever they command.”

The mother watched the chocolate, from which the steam rose with a warmth of strong nutriment. They loved that in the family, like a Sunday morning indulgence, like a bourgeois chocolate for holiday folk. She said, “Anyhow, let it be as it will, he’s got to eat.”

Jean went on to speak. His blue eyes had undergone the first transformation which comes in a man’s life, when he is no longer Jean, son of Pierre, pupil at the Central school, but Jean Bousset, engineer of applied chemistry. There remained in them, however, the shining of a young girl, that emotion which wakens two rays of sunlight in a spring. And now they kept a sort of supplication, like the sweetness of a naked infant.

“Oh, I know everything that you are going to say. You cannot excuse me, because you are not in my place, and I cannot condemn a movement of my heart. You know—I wrote it to you—the workers were about to go on strike. At once I said to myself that these were matters which did not concern me; because, when you are taking care of yourself, it is not necessary to look any farther. But Cousin François explained it all to me.”

“Ah, I told you so!” cried Pierre Bousset. “When you wanted to take Cousin François into your factory,[292] I said to you: ‘Relatives, it is necessary always to keep them at a distance. They push themselves forward, and sometimes, to excuse them one is led to commit whole heaps of lowness.’”

“In truth,” said Jean, “I would never have had to complain of him. On the contrary, he wore his heart on his sleeve.”

“Oh, all drunkards are like that. One says: ‘They wear their hearts on their sleeve,’ and one does not count all the times when they lead the others away.”

“Ah, I have understood many things, father. How can I explain everything that I have understood! There are moments still when, to see and to realize—that makes in my head a noise as if the world would not stay in place. I tell you again it was François who made me understand. I saw, in the evenings. I would say to him: ‘I am bored, I haven’t even a comrade, and I eat at hotel-tables a dinner too well served.’ He said: ‘Come to my house. You don’t know what it is to eat good things, because you don’t work, and because hunger makes a part of work. You will have some soup with us, and we will tell you at least that you are happy to be where you are, and to look upon the workingman while playing the amateur.’ I said to him: ‘But I work, also. To see, to understand, to analyze, to be an engineer! You, it’s your arms; me, it’s my head and my heart that ache.’ He laughed: ‘Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! When I come home in the evening with my throat dry and I eat my soup, I also have a headache, and I laugh at you with your heart-ache. I am as tired as a wolf. What’s that you call your heart?’”

“Yes, he was right there,” said Pierre Bousset. “For my part, I don’t understand at all how you are going[293] to pull through. You have understood a lot of things! As for me, I understand but one thing, which is you are unhappy over being too happy.”

Jean went on speaking, with his blue eyes, like a madness, like a ribbon, like a rosette without any reason which a young girl puts on her forehead. A sweetness came out of his heart to spread itself in the room, where the furniture gave off angular and waxy reflections. Marguerite listened, with restlessness, listened to her father, like a child whose habit it is to be guided by her parents. The mother saw to the chocolate, in a state of confusion, shaking her head.

“Yesterday I was in the office of the superintendent. It was then that the delegation arrived. It seems to me that I see them again. There were three workingmen. They had taken to white shirts, and they had just washed their hands. You know how the poor come into the homes of the rich. There was a great racket, and their steps were put down with so much embarrassment that one felt in the hearts of the three men the shame of crushed things. I had already thought about that poverty which, knowing that it soils, hides itself, and dares not even touch an object. They said: ‘Well, Mr. Superintendent, we have been sent to talk to you. For more than ten years now we have worked in the factory. We get seventy cents a day. That’s not much to tell about. We have wives and children, and our seventy cents hardly carries us farther than a glass of brandy and a little plate of soup. We understand that you also have expenses. But we should like to get eighty cents a day, and for us to explain every thing to you, it is necessary that you should consent, because money gives courage to the workingman.’ The other received them with that assurance of the rich,[294] sitting straight up in his chair and holding his head as if it dominated your own. He would not have had much trouble, with his education, his habits of a master, his stability as a man of affairs, to put them all three ill at ease. ‘Gentlemen, from the first word I say to you: No. The company cannot take account of your wishes. We pay you seventy cents a day, and we judge that it is up to you to lower your life to your wages. As for your insinuations, I shall employ such means as please me to fortify your courage. For the rest, our profits are not what you imagine, you who know neither our efforts nor our disappointments.’ It was then, father, that I felt myself your son, and that I recalled your hands, your back which toils, and the carriage wheels that you make. The three workingmen seemed three children in their father’s home, with hearts that swell and can feel no more. Ah, it was in vain I thought myself an engineer! On the benches of the school I imagined that my head was full of science, and that that sufficed. But all the blood of my father, the days that I passed in your shop, the storms which go to one’s head and seem to come from far off, all that cried out like a grimace, like a lock, like a key.[Q] I took up the argument. ‘Mr. Superintendent, I know these men. There is my cousin who works in the factory. Do you understand what it is, the life of acids, and that of charcoal?’ If you could have seen him! He looked at me with eyes, as if their pupils had turned to ice. ‘Mr. Engineer, I don’t permit either you, who are a child, or these, who are workingmen, a single word to discuss my sayings and my actions! Gentlemen, you may retire.’ I went straight off the handle. A door opened at a single burst.[295] We have at least insolence, we poor, and blows of the mouth, since their weapons stop our blows of the teeth. I went away like them. They lowered their heads and thought. For my part I cried out, I turned about and cried, ‘You be hanged!’”

“Ah, now, indeed! I didn’t expect anything like that,” said Pierre Bousset. “One raises children to make gentle-folk of them, so that they will work a little less than you. Now then, in God’s name! go and demand a place of those for whom you have lost your own!”

The Duty of Civil Disobedience

By Henry David Thoreau

(The New England essayist, 1817-1862, author of “Walden,” went to prison because he refused to pay taxes to a government which returned fugitive slaves to the South. It is narrated that Emerson came to him and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in here?” “Waldo,” was the answer, “what are you doing out of here?”)

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with[296] her but against her—the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.

If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person.




(Russian painter, born 1844)




(Contemporary German etching; from the “Weaver-cycle”)

Address to the Jury

By Arturo M. Giovannitti

(Italian student and clergyman, born 1884, who left the Church for the labor movement. During the strike at Lawrence, Mass., he was arrested upon a charge of “constructive murder.” He spoke in his own defense at Salem Court House, November 23, 1912)

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen of the Jury:—

It is the first time in my life that I speak publicly in your wonderful language, and the most solemn moment in my life. I know not if I will go to the end of my remarks. The District Attorney and the other gentlemen here who are used to measure all human emotions with the yardstick may not understand the tumult that is going on in my soul at this moment. But my friends and my comrades before me, these gentlemen here who have been with me for the last seven or eight months, know exactly, and if my words will fail before I reach the end of this short statement to you, it will be because of the superabundance of sentiments that are flooding to my heart.


I speak to you not because I want to review this evidence at all. I shall not enter into the evidence that has been offered here, as I feel that you gentlemen of the jury have by this time a firm and set conviction; by this time you ought to know, you ought to have realized whether I said or whether I did not say those words that have been put into my mouth by those two detectives. You ought to know whether it is possible, not for a man like me but for any living human being to say those atrocious, those flagitious words that have been attributed to me. I say only this in regard to the evidence that has been introduced in this case, that if there is or ever has been murder in the heart of any man that is in this courtroom today, gentlemen of the jury, that man is not sitting in this cage. We had come to Lawrence, as my noble comrade Mr. Ettor said, because we were prompted by something higher and loftier than what the District Attorney or any other man in this presence here may understand and realize. Were I not afraid that I was being somewhat sacrilegious, I would say that to go and investigate into the motives that prompted and actuated us to go into Lawrence would be the same as to inquire, why did the Saviour come on earth, or why was Lloyd Garrison in this very Commonwealth, in the city of Boston, dragged through the streets with a rope around his neck? Why did all the other great men and masters of thought—why did they go to preach this new gospel of fraternity and brotherhood? It is just that truth should be ascertained, it is right that the criminal should be brought before the bar of justice. But one side alone of our story has been told here. There has been brought only one side of this great industrial question, the method and the tactics. But what about, I[298] say, the ethical part of this question? What about the human and humane part of our ideas? What about the grand condition of tomorrow as we see it, and as we foretell it now to the workers at large, here in this same cage where the felon has sat, in this same cage where the drunkard, where the prostitute, where the hired assassin has been? What about the better and nobler humanity where there shall be no more slaves, where no man will ever be obliged to go on strike in order to obtain fifty cents a week more, where children will not have to starve any more, where women no more will have to go and prostitute themselves; where at last there will not be any more slaves, any more masters, but one great family of friends and brothers. It may be, gentlemen of the jury, that you do not believe in that. It may be that we are dreamers; it may be that we are fanatics, Mr. District Attorney. But so was a fanatic Socrates, who instead of acknowledging the philosophy of the aristocrats of Athens, preferred to drink the poison. And so was a fanatic the Saviour Jesus Christ, who instead of acknowledging that Pilate, or that Tiberius was emperor of Rome, and instead of acknowledging his submission to all the rulers of the time and all the priestcraft of the time, preferred the cross between two thieves.

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(German philosopher and poet, 1749-1832)

All those who oppose intellectual truths merely stir up the fire; the cinders fly about and set fire to that which else they had not touched.


Essay on Liberty

By John Stuart Mill

(English philosopher and economist, 1806-1873)

Mankind can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates, between whom and the legal authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place a memorable collision. Born in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy. This acknowledged master of all the eminent thinkers who have since lived—whose fame, still growing after more than two thousand years, all but outweighs the whole remainder of the names which make his native city illustrious—was put to death by his countrymen, after a judicial conviction, for impiety and immorality. Impiety, in denying the Gods recognized by the State; indeed his accusers asserted (see the “Apologia”) that he believed in no gods at all. Immorality, in being, by his doctrines and instructions, a “corrupter of youth.” Of these charges the tribunal, there is every ground for believing, honestly found him guilty, and condemned the man who probably of all then born had deserved best of mankind to be put to death as a criminal.


From The Epistle of James

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

The Walker

By Arturo M. Giovannitti

(See page 296)

I hear footsteps over my head all night.

They come and they go. Again they come and they go all night.

They come one eternity in four paces and they go one eternity in four paces, and between the coming and the going there is Silence and the Night and the Infinite.

For infinite are the nine feet of a prison cell, and endless is the march of him who walks between the yellow brick wall and the red iron gate, thinking things that cannot be chained and cannot be locked, but that wander far away in the sunlit world, each in a wild pilgrimage after a destined goal.

Throughout the restless night I hear the footsteps over my head.

Who walks? I know not. It is the phantom of the jail, the sleepless brain, a man, the man, the Walker.

One—two—three—four: four paces and the wall.

One—two—three—four: four paces and the iron gate.

He has measured his space, he has measured it accurately, scrupulously, minutely, as the hangman measures the rope and the grave-digger the coffin—so many feet,[301] so many inches, so many fractions of an inch for each of the four paces.

One—two—three—four. Each step sounds heavy and hollow over my head, and the echo of each step sounds hollow within my head as I count them in suspense and in dread that once, perhaps, in the endless walk, there may be five steps instead of four between the yellow brick wall and the red iron gate.

But he has measured the space so accurately, so scrupulously, so minutely that nothing breaks the grave rhythm of the slow, fantastic march....

All the sounds of the living beings and inanimate things, and all the noises of the night I have heard in my wistful vigil.

I have heard the moans of him who bewails a thing that is dead and the sighs of him who tries to smother a thing that will not die;

I have heard the stifled sobs of the one who weeps with his head under the coarse blanket, and the whisperings of the one who prays with his forehead on the hard, cold stone of the floor;

I have heard him who laughs the shrill, sinister laugh of folly at the horror rampant on the yellow wall and at the red eyes of the nightmare glaring through the iron bars;

I have heard in the sudden icy silence him who coughs a dry, ringing cough, and wished madly that his throat would not rattle so and that he would not spit on the floor, for no sound was more atrocious than that of his sputum upon the floor;

I have heard him who swears fearsome oaths which I listen to in reverence and awe, for they are holier than the virgin’s prayer;


And I have heard, most terrible of all, the silence of two hundred brains all possessed by one single, relentless, unforgiving, desperate thought.

All this I have heard in the watchful night,

And the murmur of the wind beyond the walls,

And the tolls of a distant bell,

And the woeful dirge of the rain,

And the remotest echoes of the sorrowful city,

And the terrible beatings, wild beatings, mad beatings of the One Heart which is nearest to my heart.

All this have I heard in the still night;

But nothing is louder, harder, drearier, mightier, more awful than the footsteps I hear over my head all night....

All through the night he walks and he thinks. Is it more frightful because he walks and his footsteps sound hollow over my head, or because he thinks and speaks not his thoughts?

But does he think? Why should he think? Do I think? I only hear the footsteps and count them. Four steps and the wall. Four steps and the gate. But beyond? Beyond? Where goes he beyond the gate and the wall?

He does not go beyond. His thought breaks there on the iron gate. Perhaps it breaks like a wave of rage, perhaps like a sudden flow of hope, but it always returns to beat the wall like a billow of helplessness and despair.

He walks to and fro within the narrow whirlpit of this ever storming and furious thought. Only one thought—constant, fixed, immovable, sinister, without power and without voice.

A thought of madness, frenzy, agony and despair, a hell-brewed thought, for it is a natural thought. All[303] things natural are things impossible while there are jails in the world—bread, work, happiness, peace, love.

But he thinks not of this. As he walks he thinks of the most superhuman, the most unattainable, the most impossible thing in the world:

He thinks of a small brass key that turns just half around and throws open the red iron gate.

That is all the Walker thinks, as he walks throughout the night.

And that is what two hundred minds drowned in the darkness and the silence of the night think, and that is also what I think.

Wonderful is the supreme wisdom of the jail that makes all think the same thought. Marvelous is the providence of the law that equalizes all, even in mind and sentiment. Fallen is the last barrier of privilege, the aristocracy of the intellect. The democracy of reason has leveled all the two hundred minds to the common surface of the same thought.

I, who have never killed, think like the murderer;

I, who have never stolen, reason like the thief;

I think, reason, wish, hope, doubt, wait like the hired assassin, the embezzler, the forger, the counterfeiter, the incestuous, the raper, the drunkard, the prostitute, the pimp, I, I who used to think of love and life and flowers and song and beauty and the ideal.

A little key, a little key as little as my little finger, a little key of shining brass.

All my ideas, my thoughts, my dreams are congealed in a little key of shiny brass.

All my brain, all my soul, all the suddenly surging latent powers of my deepest life are in the pocket of a white-haired man dressed in blue.


He is great, powerful, formidable, the man with the white hair, for he has in his pocket the mighty talisman which makes one man cry, and one man pray, and one laugh, and one cough, and one walk, and all keep awake and listen and think the same maddening thought.

Greater than all men is the man with the white hair and the small brass key, for no other man in the world could compel two hundred men to think for so long the same thought. Surely when the light breaks I will write a hymn unto him which shall hail him greater than Mohammed and Arbues and Torquemada and Mesmer, and all the other masters of other men’s thoughts. I shall call him Almighty, for he holds everything of all and of me in a little brass key in his pocket.

Everything of me he holds but the branding iron of contempt and the claymore of hatred for the monstrous cabala that can make the apostle and the murderer, the poet and the procurer, think of the same gate, the same key and the same exit on the different sunlit highways of life.

My brother, do not walk any more.

It is wrong to walk on a grave. It is a sacrilege to walk four steps from the headstone to the foot and four steps from the foot to the headstone.

If you stop walking, my brother, no longer will this be a grave, for you will give me back that mind that is chained to your feet and the right to think my own thoughts.

I implore you, my brother, for I am weary of the long vigil, weary of counting your steps, and heavy with sleep.

Stop, rest, sleep, my brother, for the dawn is well nigh and it is not the key alone that can throw open the gate.


By George Washington

(First president of the United States, 1732-1799)

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

Forcible Feeding

(From “The Suffragette”)

By E. Sylvia Pankhurst

(English militant leader)

She was then surrounded and held down, whilst the chair was tilted backwards. She clenched her teeth, but the doctor pulled her mouth away to form a pouch and the wardress poured in milk and brandy, some of which trickled in through the crevices. Later in the day the doctors and wardresses again appeared. They forced her down on to the bed and held her there. One of the doctors then produced a tube two yards in length with a glass junction in the center and a funnel at one end. He forced the other end of the tube up her nostril, hurting her so terribly that the matron and two of the wardresses burst into tears and the second doctor interfered. At last the tube was pushed down into the stomach. She felt the pain of it to the end of the breast bone. Then one of the doctors stood upon a chair holding the funnel end of the tube at arm’s length, and poured food down whilst the wardress and the other doctor all gripped her tight. She felt as though she[306] would suffocate. There was a rushing, burning sensation in her head, the drums of her ears seemed to be bursting. The agony of pain in the throat and breast bone continued. The thing seemed to go on for hours. When at last the tube was withdrawn, she felt as though all the back of her nose and throat were being torn out with it.

Then almost fainting she was carried back to the punishment cell and put to bed. For hours the pain in the chest, nose and ears continued and she felt terribly sick and faint. Day after day the struggle continued; she used no violence, but each time resisted and was overcome by force of numbers. Often she vomited during the operation. When the food did not go down quickly enough the doctor pinched her nose with the tube in it, causing her even greater pain.

The Subjection of Women

By John Stuart Mill

(See pages 199, 299)

In struggles for political emancipation, everybody knows how often its champions are bought off by bribes, or daunted by terrors. In the case of women, each individual of the subject class is in a chronic state of bribery and intimidation combined. In setting up the standard of resistance, a large number of the leaders, and still more of the followers, must make an almost complete sacrifice of the pleasures or the alleviations of their own individual lot. If ever any system of privilege and enforced subjection had its yoke tightly riveted on the necks of those who are kept down by it, this has.


The Old Suffragist

By Margaret Widdemer

(See page 256)

She could have loved—her woman-passions beat
Deeper than theirs, or else she had not known
How to have dropped her heart beneath their feet
A living stepping-stone:
The little hands—did they not clutch her heart?
The guarding arms—was she not very tired?
Was it an easy thing to walk apart,
Unresting, undesired?
She gave away her crown of woman-praise,
Her gentleness and silent girlhood grace
To be a merriment for idle days,
Scorn for the market-place:
She strove for an unvisioned, far-off good,
For one far hope she knew she should not see:
These—not her daughters—crowned with motherhood
And love and beauty—free.


Going to the People

(From “Memoirs of a Revolutionist”)

By Peter Kropotkin

(The Russian author and scientist, born 1842, who renounced the title of prince and spent many years in a dungeon for his faith, has here told his life story)

“It is bitter, the bread that has been made by slaves,” our poet Nekrasoff wrote. The young generation actually refused to eat that bread, and to enjoy the riches that had been accumulated in their fathers’ houses by means of servile labor, whether the laborers were actual serfs or slaves of the present industrial system.

All Russia read with astonishment, in the indictment which was produced at the court against Karakozoff and his friends, that these young men, owners of considerable fortunes, used to live three or four in the same room, never spending more than ten roubles (five dollars) apiece a month for all their needs, and giving at the same time their fortunes for co-operative associations, co-operative workshops (where they themselves worked), and the like. Five years later, thousands and thousands of the Russian youth—the best part of it—were doing the same. Their watch-word was, “V naród!” (To the people; be the people.) During the years 1860-65 in nearly every wealthy family a bitter struggle was going on between the fathers, who wanted to maintain the old traditions, and the sons and daughters, who defended their right to dispose of their life according to their own ideals. Young men left the military service, the counter and the shop, and flocked to the university towns. Girls, bred in the most aristocratic families, rushed penniless to St. Petersburg,[309] Moscow, and Kieff, eager to learn a profession which would free them from the domestic yoke, and some day, perhaps, also from the possible yoke of a husband. After hard and bitter struggles, many of them won that personal freedom. Now they wanted to utilize it, not for their own personal enjoyment, but for carrying to the people the knowledge that had emancipated them.

In every town of Russia, in every quarter of St. Petersburg, small groups were formed for self-improvement and self-education; the works of the philosophers, the writings of the economists, the researches of the young Russian historical school, were carefully read in these circles, and the reading was followed by endless discussions. The aim of all that reading and discussion was to solve the great question which rose before them: In what way could they be useful to the masses? Gradually, they came to the idea that the only way was to settle among the people and to live the people’s life. Young men went into the villages as doctors, doctors’ assistants, teachers, village scribes, even as agricultural laborers, blacksmiths, woodcutters, and so on, and tried to live there in closest contact with the peasants. Girls passed teachers’ examinations, learned midwifery or nursing, and went by the hundred into the villages, devoting themselves entirely to the poorest part of the population....

Here and there, small groups of propagandists had settled in towns and villages in various capacities. Blacksmiths’ shops and small farms had been started, and young men of the wealthier classes worked in the shops or on the farms, to be in daily contact with the toiling masses. At Moscow, a number of young girls, of rich families, who had studied at the Zurich university and had started a separate organization, went even so far[310] as to enter cotton factories, where they worked from fourteen to sixteen hours a day, and lived in the factory barracks the miserable life of the Russian factory girls. It was a grand movement, in which, at the lowest estimate, from two to three thousand persons took an active part, while twice or thrice as many sympathizers and supporters helped the active vanguard in various ways. With a good half of that army our St. Petersburg circle was in regular correspondence—always, of course, in cipher.

The literature which could be published in Russia under a rigorous censorship—the faintest hint of Socialism being prohibited—was soon found insufficient, and we started a printing office of our own abroad. Pamphlets for the workers and the peasants had to be written, and our small “literary committee,” of which I was a member, had its hands full of work. Serghei wrote a couple of such pamphlets—one in the Lammenais style, and another containing an exposition of Socialism in a fairy tale—and both had a wide circulation. The books and pamphlets which were printed abroad were smuggled into Russia by thousands, stored at certain spots, and sent out to the local circles, which distributed them amongst the peasants and the workers. All this required a vast organization as well as much traveling about, and a colossal correspondence, particularly for protecting our helpers and our bookstores from the police. We had special ciphers for different provincial circles, and often, after six or seven hours had been passed in discussing all details, the women, who did not trust to our accuracy in the cipher correspondence, spent all the night in covering sheets of paper with cabalistic figures and fractions.


The Revolutionist

By Ivan Turgénev

(Russian writer, 1818-1883, one of the masters of the novel form. He was imprisoned and later exiled. In the original the present extract is a prose poem. The versification is by Arthur Guiterman)

I saw a spacious house. O’erhung with pall,
A narrow doorway pierced the sombre wall.
Within was chill, impenetrable shade;
Without there stood a maid—a Russian maid,
To whom the icy dark sent forth a slow
And hollow-sounding Voice:
“And dost thou know,
When thou hast entered, what awaits thee here?”
“I know,” she said, “and knowing do not fear.”
“Cold, hunger, hatred, Slander’s blighting breath,”
The Voice still chanted, “suffering—and Death?”
“I know,” she said.
“Undaunted, wilt thou dare
The sneers of kindred? Art thou steeled to bear
From those whom most thou lovest, spite and scorn?”
“Though Love be paid with Hate, that shall be borne,”
She answered.
“Think! Thy doom may be to die
By thine own hand, with none to fathom why,
Unthanked, unhonored, desolate, alone,
Thy grave unmarked, thy toil, thy love unknown,
And none in days to come shall speak thy name.”
She said: “I ask no pity, thanks or fame.”
“Art thou prepared for crime?”
She bowed her head:
“Yes, crime, if that shall need,” the maiden said.
Now paused the Voice before it asked anew:
“But knowest thou that all thou holdest true
Thy soul may yet deny in bitter pain,
So thou shalt deem thy sacrifice in vain?”
“E’en this I know,” she said, “and yet again
I pray thee, let me enter.”
“Enter then!”
That hollow Voice replied. She passed the door.
A sable curtain fell—and nothing more.
“A fool!” snarled some one, gnashing. Like a prayer
“A saint!” the whispered answer thrilled the air.

In a Russian Prison

(From “Memoirs of a Revolutionist”)

By Peter Kropotkin

(See page 308)

One day in the summer of 1875, in the cell that was next to mine I distinctly heard the light steps of heeled boots, and a few minutes later I caught fragments of a conversation. A feminine voice spoke from the cell, and a deep bass voice—evidently that of the sentry—grunted something in reply. Then I recognized the sound of the colonel’s spurs, his rapid steps, his swearing at the sentry, and the click of the key in the lock. He said something, and a feminine voice loudly replied: “We did not talk. I only asked him to call the non[313]-commissioned officer.” Then the door was locked, and I heard the colonel swearing in whispers at the sentry.

So I was alone no more. I had a lady neighbor, who at once broke down the severe discipline which had hitherto reigned among the soldiers. From that day the walls of the fortress, which had been mute during the last fifteen months, became animated. From all sides I heard knocks with the foot on the floor: one, two, three, four, ... eleven knocks; twenty-four knocks, fifteen knocks; then an interruption, followed by three knocks, and a long succession of thirty-three knocks. Over and over again these knocks were repeated in the same succession, until the neighbor would guess at last that they were meant for “Kto vy?” (Who are you?), the letter v being the third letter in our alphabet. Thereupon conversation was soon established, and usually was conducted in the abridged alphabet; that is, the alphabet being divided into six rows of five letters, each letter marked by its row and its place in the row.

I discovered with great pleasure that I had at my left my friend Serdukóff, with whom I could soon talk about everything, especially when we used our cipher. But intercourse with men brought its sufferings as well as its joys. Underneath me was lodged a peasant, whom Serdukóff knew. He talked to him by means of knocks; and even against my will, often unconsciously during my work, I followed their conversations. I also spoke to him. Now, if solitary confinement without any sort of work is hard for educated men, it is infinitely harder for a peasant who is accustomed to physical work, and not at all wont to spend years in reading. Our peasant friend felt quite miserable, and having been kept for nearly two years in another prison before he was brought to the[314] fortress—his crime was that he had listened to Socialists—he was already broken down. Soon I began to notice, to my terror, that from time to time his mind wandered. Gradually his thoughts grew more and more confused, and we two perceived, step by step, day by day, evidences that his reason was failing, until his talk became at last that of a lunatic. Frightful noises and wild cries came next from the lower story; our neighbor was mad, but was still kept for several months in the casemate before he was removed to an asylum, from which he never emerged. To witness the destruction of a man’s mind, under such conditions, was terrible. I am sure it must have contributed to increase the nervous irritability of my good and true friend Serdukóff. When, after four years’ imprisonment, he was acquitted by the court and released, he shot himself.


By Thomas Bailey Aldrich

(New England poet and journalist, 1836-1907)

From yonder gilded minaret
Beside the steel-blue Neva set,
I faintly catch, from time to time,
The sweet, aerial midnight chime—
“God save the Tsar!”
Above the ravelins and the moats
Of the white citadel it floats;
And men in dungeons far beneath
Listen, and pray, and gnash their teeth—
“God save the Tsar!”
The soft reiterations sweep
Across the horror of their sleep,
As if some demon in his glee
Were mocking at their misery—
“God save the Tsar!”
In his red palace over there,
Wakeful, he needs must hear the prayer.
How can it drown the broken cries
Wrung from his children’s agonies?—
“God save the Tsar!”
Father they called him from of old—
Batuschka!... How his heart is cold!
Wait till a million scourgèd men
Rise in their awful might, and then—
“God save the Tsar!”


By Elsa Barker

(Contemporary American poet and novelist. Catherine Breshkovsky, called “Little Mother” by the Russian peasants, was sentenced to a long term of exile in Siberia when seventy-seven years of age)

How narrow seems the round of ladies’ lives
And ladies’ duties in their smiling world,
The day this Titan woman, gray with years,
Goes out across the void to prove her soul!
Brief are the pains of motherhood that end
In motherhood’s long joy; but she has borne
The age-long travail of a cause that lies
Still-born at last on History’s cold lap.
And yet she rests not; yet she will not drink
The cup of peace held to her parching lips
By smug Dishonor’s hand. Nay, forth she fares,
Old and alone, on exile’s rocky road—
That well-worn road with snows incarnadined
By blood-drops from her feet long years agone.
Mother of power, my soul goes out to you
As a strong swimmer goes to meet the sea
Upon whose vastness he is like a leaf.
What are the ends and purposes of song,
Save as a bugle at the lips of Life
To sound reveille to a drowsing world
When some great deed is rising like the sun?
Where are those others whom your deeds inspired
To deeds and words that were themselves a deed?
Those who believe in death have gone with death
To the gray crags of immortality;
Those who believed in life have gone with life
To the red halls of spiritual death.
And you? But what is death or life to you?
Only a weapon in the hand of faith
To cleave a way for beings yet unborn
To a far freedom you will never share!
Freedom of body is an empty shell
Wherein men crawl whose souls are held with gyves;
For Freedom is a spirit, and she dwells
As often in a jail as on the hills.
In all the world this day there is no soul
Freer than you, Breshkovsky, as you stand
Facing the future in your narrow cell.
For you are free of self and free of fear,
Those twin-born shades that lie in wait for man
When he steps out upon the wind-blown road
That leads to human greatness and to pain.
Take in your hand once more the pilgrim’s staff—
Your delicate hand misshapen from the nights
In Kara’s mines; bind on your unbent back
That long has borne the burdens of the race,
The exile’s bundle, and upon your feet
Strap the worn sandals of a tireless faith.
You are too great for pity. After you
We send not sobs, but songs; and all our days
We shall walk bravelier knowing where you are.

In Siberia

By Katherine Breshkovsky

(Reported by Ernest Poole)

As punishment for my attempt at escape I was sentenced to four years’ hard labor in Kara and to forty blows of the lash. Into my cell a physician came to see if I were strong enough to live through the agony. I saw at once that, afraid to flog a woman “political” without precedent, by this trick of declaring me too sick to be punished they wished to establish the precedent of the sentence in order that others might be flogged in the future. I insisted that I was strong enough, and that the court had no right to record such a sentence unless they flogged me at once. The sentence was not carried out.

A few weeks later eight of the men politicals escaped in pairs, leaving dummies in their places. As the guards[318] never took more than a hasty look into that noisome cell, they did not discover the ruse for weeks. Then mounted Cossacks rode out. The man-hunt spread. Some of the fugitives struggled through jungles, over mountains and through swamps a thousand miles to Vladivostok, saw the longed-for American vessels, and there on the docks were re-captured. All were brought back to Kara.

For this we were all punished. One morning the Cossack guards entered our cells, seized us, tore off our clothes, and dressed us in convict suits alive with vermin. That scene cannot be described. One of us attempted suicide. Taken to an old prison we were thrown into the “black holes”—foul little stalls off a low grimy hall which contained two big stoves and two little windows. Each of us had a stall six feet by five. On winter nights the stall doors were left open for heat, but in summer each was locked at night in her own black hole. For three months we did not use our bunks, but fought with candles and pails of scalding water, until at last the vermin were all killed. We had been put on the “black hole diet” of black bread and water. For three years we never breathed the outside air. We struggled constantly against the outrages inflicted on us. After one outrage we lay like a row of dead women for nine days without touching food, until certain promises were finally exacted from the warden. This “hunger strike” was used repeatedly. To thwart it we were often bound hand and foot, while Cossacks tried to force food down our throats.

Kara grew worse after I left. To hint at what happened I tell briefly the story of my dear friend Maria, a woman of broad education and deep refinement. Shortly after my going, Maria saw Madame Sigida strike an official who had repeatedly insulted the women. Two[319] days later she watched Sigida die, moaning and bleeding from the lash; that night she saw three women commit suicide as a protest to the world; she knew that twenty men attempted suicide on the night following, and she determined to double the protest by assassinating the Governor of Trans-Baikal, who had ordered Sigida’s flogging. At this time Maria was pregnant. Her prison term over, she left her husband and walked hundreds of miles to the Governor’s house and shot him. She spent three months in a cold, dirty, “secret cell” not long enough to lie down in or high enough to stand up in, wearing the cast-off suit of a convict, sleeping on the bare floor and tormented by vermin. She was then sentenced to be hanged. She hesitated now whether to save the life of her unborn child. She knew that if she revealed her condition her sentence would be changed to imprisonment. She decided to keep silence and sacrifice her child, that when the execution was over and her condition was discovered, the effect on Russia might be still greater. Her condition, however, became apparent, and she was started off to the Irkutsk prison. It was midwinter, forty degrees below zero. She walked. She was given no overcoat and no boots, until some common criminals in the column gave her theirs. Her child was born dead in prison, and soon after she too died.


Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist

By Alexander Berkman

(The life-story of a man who served a fourteen-year sentence in the Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania for an attempt at assassination)

(Introduction by Hutchins Hapgood)

Not only has this book the interest of the human document, but it is also a striking proof of the power of the human soul. Alexander Berkman spent fourteen years in prison, under perhaps more than commonly harsh and severe conditions. Prison life tends to destroy the body, weaken the mind and pervert the character. Berkman consciously struggled with these adverse, destructive conditions. He took care of his body. He took care of his mind. He did so strenuously. It was a moral effort. He felt insane ideas trying to take possession of him. Insanity is a natural result of prison life. It always tends to come. This man felt it, consciously struggled against it, and overcame it. That the prison affected him is true. It always does. But he saved himself, essentially. Society tried to destroy him, but failed.

If people will read this book carefully it will tend to do away with prisons. The public, once vividly conscious of what prison life is and must be, would not be willing to maintain prisons. This is the only book that I know which goes deeply into the corrupting, demoralizing psychology of prison life. It shows, in picture after picture, sketch after sketch, not only the obvious brutality, stupidity, ugliness permeating the institution, but, very touching, it shows the good qualities and instincts[321] of the human heart perverted, demoralized, helplessly struggling for life; beautiful tendencies basely expressing themselves. And the personality of Berkman goes through it all; idealistic, courageous, uncompromising, sincere, truthful; not untouched, as I have said, by his surroundings, but remaining his essential self....

The Russian Nihilistic origin of Berkman, his Anarchistic experience in America, his attempt on the life of Frick—an attempt made at a violent industrial crisis, an attempt made as a result of a sincere if fanatical belief that he was called on by his destiny to strike a psychological blow for the oppressed of the community—this part of the book will arouse extreme disagreement and disapproval of his ideas and his act. But I see no reason why this, with the rest, should not rather be regarded as an integral part of a human document, as part of the record of a life, with its social and psychological suggestions and explanations. Why not try to understand an honest man even if he feels called on to kill? There, too, it may be deeply instructive. There, too, it has its lessons. Read it not in a combative spirit. Read to understand. Do not read to agree, of course, but read to see.

The Dungeon

In the storeroom I am stripped of my suit of dark gray, and clad in the hateful stripes. Coatless and shoeless, I am led through hallways and corridors, down a steep flight of stairs, and thrown into the dungeon.

Total darkness. The blackness is massive, palpable—I feel its hand upon my head, my face. I dare not move, lest a misstep thrust me into the abyss. I hold my hand close to my eyes—I feel the touch of my lashes upon it,[322] but I cannot see its outline. Motionless I stand on the spot, devoid of all sense of direction. The silence is sinister; it seems to me I can hear it. Only now and then the hasty scrambling of nimble feet suddenly rends the stillness, and the gnawing of invisible river rats haunts the fearful solitude.

Slowly the blackness pales. It ebbs and melts; out of the sombre gray, a wall looms above; the silhouette of a door rises dimly before me, sloping upward and growing compact and impenetrable.

The hours drag in unbroken sameness. Not a sound reaches me from the cell-house. In the maddening quiet and darkness I am bereft of all consciousness of time, save once a day when the heavy rattle of keys apprises me of the morning: the dungeon is unlocked, and the silent guards hand me a slice of bread and a cup of water. The double doors fall heavily to, the steps grow fainter and die in the distance, and all is dark again in the dungeon.

The numbness of death steals upon my soul. The floor is cold and clammy, the gnawing grows louder and nearer, and I am filled with dread lest the starving rats attack my bare feet. I snatch a few unconscious moments leaning against the door; and then again I pace the cell, striving to keep awake, wondering whether it be night or day, yearning for the sound of a human voice.

Utterly forsaken! Cast into the stony bowels of the underground, the world of man receding, leaving no trace behind.... Eagerly I strain my ear—only the ceaseless, fearful gnawing. I clutch the bars in desperation—a hollow echo mocks the clanking iron. My hands tear violently at the door—“Ho, there! Any one here?” All is silent. Nameless terrors quiver in my mind, weav[323]ing nightmares of mortal dread and despair. Fear shapes convulsive thoughts: they rage in wild tempest, then become calm, and again rush through time and space in a rapid succession of strangely familiar scenes, wakened in my slumbering consciousness.

Exhausted and weary I droop against the wall. A slimy creeping on my face startles me in horror, and again I pace the cell. I feel cold and hungry. Am I forgotten? Three days must have passed, and more. Have they forgotten me?...

The clank of keys sends a thrill of joy to my heart. My tomb will open—oh, to see the light, and breathe the air again....

“Officer, isn’t my time up yet?”

“What’s your hurry? You’ve only been here one day.”

The doors fall to. Ravenously I devour the bread, so small and thin, just a bite. Only one day! Despair enfolds me like a pall. Faint with anguish, I sink to the floor....

The Sick Line

One by one the men augment the row; they walk slowly, bent and coughing, painfully limping down the steep flights. From every range they come; the old and decrepit, the young consumptives, the lame and asthmatic, a tottering old negro, an idiotic white boy. All look withered and dejected,—a ghastly line, palsied and blear-eyed, blanched in the valley of death.

The rotunda door opens noisily, and the doctor enters, accompanied by Deputy Warden Graves and Assistant Deputy Hopkins. Behind them is a prisoner, dressed in dark gray and carrying a medicine box. Dr. Boyce glances at the long line, and knits his brows. He looks[324] at his watch, and the frown deepens. He has much to do. Since the death of the senior doctor, the young graduate is the sole physician of the big prison. He must make the rounds of the shops before noon, and visit the hospital before the Warden or the Deputy drops in.

Mr. Greaves sits down at the officers’ desk, near the hall entrance. The Assistant Deputy, pad in hand, places himself at the head of the sick line. The doctor leans against the door of the rotunda, facing the Deputy. The block officers stand within call, at respectful distances.

“Two-fifty-five!” the Assistant Deputy calls out.

A slender young man leaves the line and approaches the doctor. He is tall and well featured, the large eyes lustrous in the pale face. He speaks in a hoarse voice:

“Doctor, there is something the matter with my side. I have pains, and I cough bad at night, and in the morning——”

“All right,” the doctor interrupts, without looking up from his note book. “Give him some salts,” he adds, with a nod to his assistant.

“Next!” the Deputy calls.

“Will you please excuse me from the shop for a few days?” the sick prisoner pleads, a tremor in his voice.

The physician glances questioningly at the Deputy. The latter cries, impatiently, “Next, next man!” striking the desk twice, in quick succession, with the knuckles of his hand.

“Return to the shop,” the doctor says to the prisoner.

“Next,” the Deputy calls, spurting a stream of tobacco juice in the direction of the cuspidor. It strikes sidewise, and splashes over the foot of the approaching new patient, a young negro, his neck covered with bulging tumors.

“Number?” the doctor inquires.


“One-thirty-seven, A one-thirty-seven!” the Deputy mumbles, his head thrown back to receive a fresh handful of “scrap” tobacco.

“Guess Ah’s got de big neck, Ah is, Mistah Boyce,” the negro says hoarsely.

“Salts. Return to work. Next!”

“A one-twenty-six!”

A young man with parchment-like face, sere and yellow, walks painfully from the line.

“Doctor, I seem to be gettin’ worser, and I’m afraid——”

“What’s the trouble?”

“Pains in the stomach. Gettin’ so turrible, I——”

“Give him a plaster. Next!”

“Plaster hell!” the prisoner breaks out in a fury, his face growing livid. “Look at this, will you?” With a quick motion he pulls his shirt up to his head. His chest and back are entirely covered with porous plasters; not an inch of skin is visible. “Damn your plasters,” he cries with sudden sobs, “I ain’t got no more room for plasters. I’m putty near dyin’, an’ you won’t do nothin’ fer me.”

The guards pounce upon the man, and drag him into the rotunda.

The Keepers

The comparative freedom of the range familiarizes me with the workings of the institution, and brings me in close contact with the authorities. The personnel of the guards is of very inferior character. I find their average intelligence considerably lower than that of the inmates. Especially does the element recruited from the police and the detective service lack sympathy with the unfor[326]tunates in their charge. They are mostly men discharged from city employment because of habitual drunkenness, or flagrant brutality and corruption. Their attitude toward the prisoners is summed up in coercion and suppression. They look upon the men as will-less objects of iron-handed discipline, exact unquestioning obedience and absolute submissiveness to peremptory whims, and harbor personal animosity toward the less pliant. The more intelligent among the officers scorn inferior duties, and crave advancement. The authority and remuneration of a Deputy Wardenship is alluring to them, and every keeper considers himself the fittest for the vacancy. But the coveted prize is awarded to the guard most feared by the inmates, and most subservient to the Warden,—a direct incitement to brutality on the one hand, to sycophancy on the other....

Daily I behold the machinery at work, grinding and pulverizing, brutalizing the officers, dehumanizing the inmates. Far removed from the strife and struggle of the larger world, I yet witness its miniature replica, more agonizing and merciless within the walls. A perfected model it is, this prison life, with its apparent uniformity and dull passivity. But beneath the torpid surface smolder the fires of being, now crackling faintly under a dun smothering smoke, now blazing forth with the ruthlessness of despair. Hidden by the veil of discipline rages the struggle of fiercely contending wills, and intricate meshes are woven in the quagmire of darkness and suppression.

Intrigue and counter-plot, violence and corruption, are rampant in cell-house and shop. The prisoners spy upon each other, and in turn upon the officers. The latter encourage the trusties in unearthing the secret doings of[327] the inmates, and the stools enviously compete with each other in supplying information to the keepers. Often they deliberately inveigle the trustful prisoner into a fake plot to escape, help and encourage him in the preparations, and at the critical moment denounce him to the authorities. The luckless man is severely punished, usually remaining in utter ignorance of the intrigue. The provocateur is rewarded with greater liberty and special privileges. Frequently his treachery proves the stepping-stone to freedom, aided by the Warden’s official recommendation of the “model prisoner” to the State Board of Pardons.

By Frederic Harrison

(English philosopher, born 1831)

Society can overlook murder, adultery or swindling; it never forgives the preaching of a new gospel.

The Seven That Were Hanged

By Leonid Andreyev

(One of the most famous of the Russian writer’s stories, in which he describes the execution of a group of Terrorists, analyzing their sensations in their separate cells, and on their journey together to the foot of the gallows)

The Unknown, surnamed Werner, was a man fatigued by struggle. He had loved life, the theatre, society, art, literature, passionately. Endowed with an excellent memory, he spoke several languages perfectly. He was fond of dress, and had excellent manners. Of the whole[328] group of terrorists he was the only one who was able to appear in society without risk of recognition.

For a long time already, and without his comrades having noticed it, he had entertained a profound contempt for men. More of a mathematician than a poet, ecstasy and inspiration had remained so far things unknown to him; at times he would look upon himself as a madman seeking to square the circle in seas of human blood. The enemy against which he daily struggled could not inspire him with respect; it was nothing but a compact network of stupidities, treasons, falsehoods, base deceits....

Werner understood that the execution was not simply death, but also something more. In any case, he was determined to meet it calmly, to live until the end as if nothing had happened or would happen. Only in this way could he repress the profoundest contempt for the execution and preserve his liberty of mind. His comrades, although knowing well his cold and haughty intrepidity, would perhaps not have believed it themselves; but in the courtroom he thought not of life or of death: he played in his mind a difficult game of chess, giving it his deepest and quietest attention. An excellent player, he had begun this game on the very day of his imprisonment, and he had kept it up continually. And the verdict that condemned him did not displace a single piece on the invisible board.

Now he was shrugging his shoulders and feeling his pulse. His heart beat fast, but tranquilly and regularly, with a sonorous force. Like a novice thrown into prison for the first time, he examined attentively the cell, the bolts, the chair screwed to the wall, and said to himself:

“Why have I such a sensation of joy, of liberty? Yes,[329] of liberty; I think of to-morrow’s execution, and it seems to me it does not exist. I look at the walls, and they seem to me not to exist either. And I feel as free as if, instead of being in prison, I had just come out of another cell in which I had been confined all my life.”

Werner’s hands began to tremble, a thing unknown to him. His thought became more and more vibrant. It seemed to him that tongues of fire were moving in his head, trying to escape from his brain to lighten the still obscure distance. Finally the flame darted forth, and the horizon was brilliantly illuminated.

The vague lassitude that had tortured Werner during the last two years had disappeared at sight of death; his beautiful youth came back. It was even something more than beautiful youth. With the astonishing clearness of mind that sometimes lifts man to the supreme heights of meditation, Werner saw suddenly both life and death; and the majesty of this new spectacle struck him. He seemed to be following a path as narrow as the edge of a blade, on the crest of the loftiest mountain. On one side he saw life, and on the other he saw death; and they were like two seas, sparkling and beautiful, melting into each other at the horizon in a single infinite extension.

“What is this, then? What a divine spectacle!” said he slowly.

He arose involuntarily and straightened up, as if in presence of the Supreme Being. And, annihilating the walls, annihilating space and time, by the force of his all-penetrating look, he cast his eyes into the depths of the life that he had quitted.

And life took on a new aspect. He no longer tried, as of old, to translate into words that he was; moreover, in the whole range of human language, still so poor and miserly,[330] he found no words adequate. The paltry, dirty and evil things that suggested to him contempt and sometimes even disgust at the sight of men had completely disappeared, just as, to people rising in a balloon, the mud and filth of the narrow streets become invisible, and ugliness changes into beauty.

With an unconscious movement Werner walked toward the table and leaned upon it with his right arm. Haughty and authoritative by nature, he had never been seen in a prouder, freer, and more imperious attitude; never had his face worn such a look, never had he so lifted up his head, for at no previous time had he been as free and powerful as now, in this prison, on the eve of execution, at the threshold of death.

In his illuminated eyes men wore a new aspect, an unknown beauty and charm. He hovered above time, and never had this humanity, which only the night before was howling like a wild beast in the forest, appeared to him so young. What had heretofore seemed to him terrible, unpardonable and base, became suddenly touching and naïve, just as we cherish in the child the awkwardness of its behavior, the incoherent stammerings in which its unconscious genius glimmers, its laughable errors and blunders, its cruel bruises.

“My dear friends!” ...

What mysterious path had he followed to pass from a feeling of unlimited and haughty liberty to this passionate and moving pity? He did not know. Did he really pity his comrades, or did his tears hide something more passionate, something really greater? His heart, which had suddenly revived and reblossomed, could not tell him. Werner wept, and whispered:

“My dear comrades! My dear comrades!”


And in this man who wept, and who smiled through his tears, no one—not the judges, or his comrades, or himself—would have recognized the cold and haughty Werner, sceptical and insolent.

A Woman’s Execution

By Edward King

(After the Paris Commune of 1871, the leaders of the people were led out and slaughtered by thousands. The author of this poem was an American journalist, 1848-1896)

Sweet-breathed and young,
The people’s daughter,
No nerves unstrung,
Going to slaughter!
“Good morning, friends,
You’ll love us better,—
Make us amends:
We’ve burst your fetter!
”How the sun gleams!
(Women are snarling):
Give me your beams,
Liberty’s darling!
“Marie’s my name;
Christ’s mother bore it.
The badge? No shame:
Glad that I wore it!”
(Hair to the waist,
Limbs like a Venus):
Robes are displaced:
“Soldiers, please screen us!
”He at the front?
That is my lover:
Stood all the brunt;—
Now—the fight’s over.
“Powder and bread
Gave out together:
Droll to be dead
In this bright weather!
”Jean, boy, we might
Have married in June!
This is the wall? Right!
Vive la Commune!

By Thomas Jefferson

(See page 228)

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.


These Shifting Scenes

By Charles Edward Russell

(American editor and Socialist lecturer, born 1860. In the following paragraphs he has given a newspaper reporter’s reminiscences of the Chicago Anarchists)

After so many years the passions and prejudices of the half-forgotten struggle ought to have died away, and men may now speak candidly and without restraint of these things as they really were. Let me then record my deliberate conviction that Albert Parsons never entertained the thought of harm against any human being, for I have seldom met a man of a more genuine kindness of heart; and if the men he denounced in his speeches had been in actual danger before him I am certain he would have been the first to rush to their defense from physical harm. And while I am on this subject, I may add an expression of a wonder growing upon me for many years, that no one has ever paid an adequate tribute to this man. I have not the slightest sympathy with his doctrines, if he believed in the violence he seemed sometimes to preach, which I could never tell. I have lived in the world long enough to know that the social wrongs that moved him to protest can never be cured by violence. Say, then, that the man erred grievously; if his error had been ten times as great it ought to have been wiped from human recollection by his sacrifice, and there should remain but the one image of him, leaving his place of safety and voluntarily entering the prisoner’s dock. I doubt if that magnanimous act has its parallel in history. A hundred men have been elevated to be national heroes for deeds far less heroic. The fact that[334] after all these years it is still obscured and men hesitate to speak about it is marvelous testimony to the power of the press to produce enduring impressions. Even the other staggering fact that in the history of American courts this is the only man that ever came voluntarily and gave himself up and then was hanged, even that seems to be eliminated from the little consideration that is ever bestowed upon a figure of courage so extraordinary.

Similarly I wondered while all these events were passing before me and wonder now, that no one ever stopped to inquire why such men as Parsons and Fielden were in revolt. Granted freely that their idea of the best manner of making a protest was utterly wrong and impossible; granted that they went not the best way to work. But what was it that drove them into attack against the social order as they found it? They and thousands of other men that stood with them were not bad men, nor depraved, nor bloodthirsty, nor hard-hearted, nor criminal, nor selfish, nor crazy. Then what was it that evoked a complaint so bitter and deep-seated? In all the clamor that filled the press for the execution of the law and the supremacy of order not one writer ever stopped to ask this obvious question. No one ever contemplated the simple fact that men do not band themselves together to make a protest without the belief that they have something to protest about, and that in any organized state of society a widespread protest is something for grave inquiry. I thought then and I think now that a few words devoted to this suggestion would have been of far greater service to society than the insensate demand for blood and more blood with which the journals of Chicago were mostly filled.


The Eagle that is Forgotten

By Vachel Lindsay

(Poet and minstrel of Springfield, Illinois, born 1879; has tramped over many parts of the United States with his leaflet of “Rhymes to be Traded for Bread.” He has rediscovered the Homeric chant, and poured into it the life of the Middle West. The following poem is addressed to John P. Altgeld, once Governor of Illinois, who, having convinced himself that the so-called Chicago Anarchists were innocent of the crime charged against them, pardoned them, and thereby sacrificed his political career)

Sleep softly ... eagle forgotten ... under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
“We have buried him now,” thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced.
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day,
Now you were ended. They praised you ... and laid you away.
The others, that mourned you in silence and terror and truth,
The widow bereft of her crust, and the boy without youth,
The mocked and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor,
That should have remembered forever ... remember no more.
Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call,
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons.
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began,
The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man.
Sleep softly ... eagle forgotten ... under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man that kindled the flame—
To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name,
To live in mankind, far, far more ... than to live in a name.


(From the Will of Francisco Ferrer)

(Spanish educator and radical, 1859-1909, executed after the Barcelona riots by a plot of his clerical enemies)

I also wish my friends to speak little or not at all about me, because idols are created when men are praised, and this is very bad for the future of the human race. Acts alone, no matter by whom committed, ought to be studied, praised, or blamed. Let them be praised in order that they may be imitated when they seem to contribute to the common weal; let them be censured when they are regarded as injurious to the general well-being, so that they may not to be repeated.

I desire that on no occasion, whether near or remote, nor for any reason whatsoever, shall demonstrations of a political or religious character be made before my remains, as I consider the time devoted to the dead would be better employed in improving the condition of the living, most of whom stand in great need of this.


Light Upon Waldheim

By Voltairine de Cleyre

(American anarchist writer, 1866-1912. Waldheim is a cemetery in Chicago, where the executed Anarchists were buried. Upon the monument is the figure of a woman holding a dying man upon her knees, with one hand pressing a crown upon his forehead, and with the other drawing a dagger)

Light upon Waldheim! And the earth is gray;
A bitter wind is driving from the north;
The stone is cold, and strange cold whispers say:
“What do ye here with Death? Go forth! Go forth!”
Is this thy word, O Mother, with stern eyes,
Crowning thy dead with stone-caressing touch?
May we not weep o’er him that martyred lies,
Slain in our name, for that he loved us much?
May we not linger till the day is broad?
Nay, none are stirring in this stinging dawn—
None but poor wretches that make no moan to God:
What use are these, O thou with dagger drawn?
“Go forth, go forth! Stand not to weep for these,
Till, weakened with your weeping, like the snow
Ye melt, dissolving in a coward peace!”
Light upon Waldheim! Brother, let us go!



By Auguste Vaillant

(From the speech before the French Chamber of Deputies, 1894, prior to receiving sentence of death for a political crime)

Ah, gentlemen, if the governing classes could go down among the unfortunates! But no, they prefer to remain deaf to their appeals. It seems that a fatality impels them, like the royalty of the eighteenth century, toward the precipice which will engulf them; for woe be to those who remain deaf to the cries of the starving, woe to those who, believing themselves of superior essence, assume the right to exploit those beneath them! There comes a time when the people no longer reason; they rise like a hurricane, and rush onward like a torrent. Then we see bleeding heads impaled on pikes.

Among the exploited, gentlemen, there are two classes of individuals. Those of one class, not realizing what they are and what they might be, take life as it comes, believe that they are born to be slaves, and content themselves with the little that is given them in exchange for their labor. But there are others, on the contrary, who think, who study and, looking about them, discover social iniquities. Is it their fault if they see clearly and suffer at seeing others suffer? Then they throw themselves into the struggle, and make themselves the bearers of the popular claims.

I know very well that I shall be told that I ought to have confined myself to speech for the vindication of the people’s claims. But what can you expect! It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear. Too long have they answered our voices by imprisonment, the rope, and[339] rifle-volleys. Make no mistake; the explosion of my bomb is not only the cry of the rebel Vaillant, but the cry of an entire class which vindicates its rights, and which will soon add acts to words. For, be sure of it, in vain will they pass laws. The ideas of the thinkers will not halt!

Beyond Human Might

By Björnstjerne Björnson

(A drama of modern industry. See page 221. The masters meet in a great castle, the home of one of them, to plan the destruction of the labor unions; whereupon a group of conspirators blow up the castle with dynamite. In the scene following the author gives his reflections upon this event, in the words of the grief-stricken sister of the chief conspirator)

Halden:—Suppose what has happened should arouse the conscience of the people?

Rachel:—Why, that’s what he was saying—his very words, I think—Arouse the conscience of the people! After all these thousands of years that we have been subject to the influence of the family and of religion, can it be possible that we are unable to arouse the people’s conscience except by—O ye silent and exalted witnesses, who hear without answering and see without reflecting what you see, why don’t you show me how to reach the upward road? For in the midst of all this misery there is no road that leads upward—nothing but an endless circling around the same spot, by which I perish!

Halden:—Upward means forward.

Rachel:—But there is no forward in this! We have been thrown back into sheer barbarism! Once more all faith in a happy future has been wiped out. Just ask[340] a few questions around here!... And then the sun, the spring—ever since that dreadful night—nothing but fine weather, night and day—a stretch of it the like of which I cannot recall. Is it not as if nature itself were crying out to us: “Shame! shame! You sprinkle my leaves with blood, and mingle death-cries with my song. You darken the air for me with your gruesome complaints.” That’s what it is saying to us. “You are soiling the spring for me. Your diseases and your evil thoughts are crouching in the woods and on the greenswards. Everywhere a stink of misery is following you like that of rotting waters.” That’s what it is telling us. “Your greed and your envy are a pair of sisters who have fought each other since they were born”—that’s what it says. “Only my highest mountain peaks, only my sandy wastes and icy deserts, have not seen those sisters; every other part of the earth has been filled by them with blood and brutal bawling. In the midst of eternal glory mankind has invented Hell and manages to keep it filled. And men, who should stand for perfection, harbor among them what is worthless and foul.”


By Lord Byron

(Bonnivard, a patriot of Switzerland, was imprisoned with his sons in Chillon Castle. The story is told in Byron’s longer poem, “The Prisoner of Chillon”)

Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty, thou art—
For there thy habitation is the heart—
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign’d—
To fetters, and the damp vault’s dayless gloom—
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom’s fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar; for ’twas trod
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard! May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.




“The martyred Christ of the working class, the inspired evangel of the downtrodden masses, the world’s supreme revolutionary leader, whose love for the poor and the children of the poor hallowed all the days of his consecrated life, lighted up and made forever holy the dark tragedy of his death, and gave to the ages his divine inspiration and his deathless name.”—Debs.



By Eugene V. Debs

(See page 144)

The martyred Christ of the working class, the inspired evangel of the downtrodden masses, the world’s supreme revolutionary leader, whose love for the poor and the children of the poor hallowed all the days of his consecrated life, lighted up and made forever holy the dark tragedy of his death, and gave to the ages his divine inspiration and his deathless name.


By Elizabeth Waddell

(Contemporary American writer)

They have taken the tomb of our Comrade Christ—
Infidel hordes that believe not in Man;
Stable and stall for his birth sufficed,
But his tomb is built on a kingly plan.
They have hedged him round with pomp and parade,
They have buried him deep under steel and stone—
But we come leading the great Crusade
To give our Comrade back to his own.


Jesus the Revolutionist

(From “Christianity and the Social Crisis”[R])

By Walter Rauschenbusch

(Theologian, born 1861; professor in Rochester Theological Seminary)

There was a revolutionary consciousness in Jesus; not, of course, in the common use of the word “revolutionary,” which connects it with violence and bloodshed. But Jesus knew that he had come to kindle a fire on earth. Much as he loved peace, he knew that the actual result of his work would be not peace but the sword. His mother in her song had recognized in her own experience the settled custom of God to “put down the proud and exalt them of low degree,” to “fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich empty away.” King Robert of Sicily recognized the revolutionary ring in those phrases, and thought it well that the Magnificat was sung only in Latin. The son of Mary expected a great reversal of values. The first would be last and the last would be first. He saw that what was exalted among man was an abomination before God, and therefore these exalted things had no glamour for his eye. This revolutionary note runs even through the beatitudes, where we should least expect it. The point of them is that henceforth those were to be blessed whom the world had not blessed, for the kingdom of God would reverse their relative standing. Now the poor and the hungry and sad were to be satisfied and comforted; the meek who had been shouldered aside by the ruthless would get[347] their chance to inherit the earth, and conflict and persecution would be inevitable in the process.

We are apt to forget that his attack on the religious leaders and authorities of his day was of revolutionary boldness and thoroughness. He called the ecclesiastical leaders hypocrites, blind leaders who fumbled in their casuistry, and everywhere missed the decisive facts in teaching right and wrong. Their piety was no piety; their law was inadequate; they harmed the men whom they wanted to convert. Even the publicans and harlots had a truer piety than theirs. If we remember that religion was still the foundation of the Jewish State, and that the religious authorities were the pillars of existing society, much as in mediæval Catholic Europe, we shall realize how revolutionary were his invectives. It was like Luther anathematizing the Catholic hierarchy.

His mind was similarly liberated from spiritual subjection to the existing civil powers. He called Herod, his own liege sovereign, “that fox.” When the mother of James and John tried to steal a march on the others and secure for her sons a pledge of the highest places in the Messianic kingdom, Jesus felt that this was a backsliding into the scrambling methods of the present social order, in which each tries to make the others serve him, and he is greatest who can compel service from most. In the new social order, which was expressed in his own life, each must seek to give the maximum of service, and he would be greatest who would serve utterly. In that connection he sketched with a few strokes the pseudo-greatness of the present aristocracy: “Ye know that they which are supposed to rule over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones tyrannize over them. Thus shall it not be among you.” The monarchies and[348] aristocracies have always lived on the fiction that they exist for the good of the people, and yet it is an appalling fact how few kings have loved their people and have lived to serve. Usually the great ones have regarded the people as their oyster. In a similar saying reported by Luke, Jesus wittily adds that these selfish exploiters of the people graciously allow themselves to be called “Benefactors.” His eyes were open to the unintentional irony of the titles in which the “majesties,” “excellencies,” and “holinesses” of the world have always decked themselves. Every time the inbred instinct to seek precedence cropped up among his disciples he sternly suppressed it. They must not allow themselves to be called Rabbi or Father or Master, “for all ye are brothers.” Christ’s ideal of society involved the abolition of rank and the extinction of those badges of rank in which former inequality was incrusted. The only title to greatness was to be distinguished service at cost to self. All this shows the keenest insight into the masked selfishness of those who hold power, and involves a revolutionary consciousness, emancipated from reverence for things as they are.

To the “Christians”

By Francis Adams

(See pages 219, 266)

Take, then, your paltry Christ,
Your gentleman God.
We want the carpenter’s son,
With his saw and hod.
We want the man who loved
The poor and the oppressed,
Who hated the Rich man and King
And the Scribe and the Priest.
We want the Galilean
Who knew cross and rod.
It’s your “good taste” that prefers
A bastard “God!”

Life of Jesus

By Ernest Renan

(French philosopher and historian, 1823-1892)

The chosen flock presented in fact a very mixed character, and one likely to astonish rigorous moralists. It counted in its fold men with whom a Jew, respecting himself, would not have associated. Perhaps Jesus found in this society, unrestrained by ordinary rules, more mind and heart than in a pedantic and formal middle class, proud of its apparent morality.... He appreciated conditions of soul only in proportion to the love mingled therein. Women with tearful hearts, and disposed through their sins to feelings of humanity, were nearer to his kingdom than ordinary natures, who often have little merit in not having fallen. We may conceive on the other hand that these tender souls, finding in their conversion to the sect an easy means of restoration, would passionately attach themselves to Him. Far from seeking to soothe the murmurs stirred up by his disdain for the social susceptibilities of the time, He seemed to[350] take pleasure in exciting them. Never did anyone avow more loftily this contempt for the “world,” which is the essential condition of great things and great originality. He pardoned a rich man, but only when the rich man, in consequence of some prejudice, was disliked by society. He greatly preferred men of equivocal life and of small consideration in the eyes of the orthodox leaders. “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him.” We can understand how galling the reproach of not having followed the good example set by prostitutes must have been to men making a profession of seriousness and rigid morality.

From the Gospel According to Luke

And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

And the Lord said unto him, “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he, that made that which is without, make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto[351] you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, “Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.”

And he said, “Woe unto you, also, ye lawyers, for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.... Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”

And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

A Tramp’s Confession

(From “The Cry of Youth”)

By Harry Kemp

(See page 37)

We huddled in the mission
Fer it was cold outside,
An’ listened to the preacher
Tell of the Crucified;
Without, a sleety drizzle
Cut deep each ragged form,—
An’ so we stood the talkin’
Fer shelter from the storm
They sang of God an’ angels,
An’ heaven’s eternal joy,
An’ things I stopped believin’
When I was still a boy;
They spoke of good an’ evil,
An’ offered savin’ grace—
An’ some showed love for mankin’
A-shinin’ in their face,
An’ some their graft was workin’
The same as me an’ you:
But most was urgin’ on us
Wot they believed was true.
We sang an’ dozed an’ listened,
But only feared, us men,
The time when, service over,
We’d have to mooch again
An’ walk the icy pavements
An’ breast the snowstorm gray
Till the saloons was opened
An’ there was hints of day.
So, when they called out “Sinners,
Won’t you come!” I came ...
But in my face was pallor
And in my heart was shame ...
An’ so forgive me, Jesus,
Fer mockin’ of thy name—
Fer I was cold an’ hungry!
They gave me grub an’ bed
After I kneeled there with them
An’ many prayers was said.
An’ so fergive me, Jesus,
I didn’t mean no harm—
An’ outside it was zero,
An’ inside it was warm....
Yes, I was cold an’ hungry,—
An’, O Thou Crucified,
Thou friend of all the Lowly,
Fergive the lie I lied!

The Call of the Carpenter[S]

By Bouck White

(American Congregational clergyman, born 1874; imprisoned for protesting in a church against the Colorado massacres)

Jesus held that self-respect required of the rich young man that he refuse to accept too long a handicap over his fellows in the race of life, and start as near as may be from the same mark with them. But he went also a step further. He exacted of the young man that he de-class himself. “Come, follow me.” This was the staggerer. To stay in his own set and invest his fortune in works of charity, would have been comparatively easy. Philanthropy has been fashionable in every age. Charity takes the insurrectionary edge off of poverty. Therefore [354]the philanthropic rich man is a benefactor to his fellow magnates, and is made to feel their gratitude; to him all doors of fashion swing. But Jesus issued a veto. He denied the legitimacy of alms-giving as a plaster for the deep-lying sore in the social tissue. Neighborly help, man to man, was acceptable to him, and he commended it. But philanthropy as a substitute for justice—he would have none of it. Charity is twice cursed—it hardens him that gives and softens him that takes. It does more harm to the poor than exploitation, because it makes them willing to be exploited. It breeds slavishness, which is moral suicide. The only thing Jesus would permit a swollen fortune to do was to give itself to revolutionary propaganda, in order that swollen fortunes might be forever after impossible. Patchwork reformers are but hewing at a hydra. Confronted with this imperative, the rich young ruler made the great refusal. To give up his fashionable set and join himself to this company of working-class Galileans, was a moral heroism to which he was unequal. Therefore he was sorrowful; he went away, for he had a great social standing.

Something of the same brand of atonement was evidently in the mind of Dives when he awoke to the mistake he had made—desirous to send from hell and tell his five brothers to use the family fortune in erecting a “Dives Home for the Hungry,” belike with the family name and coat of arms over the front portal. Jesus would concede no such privilege. He referred those “five brethren” to “Moses and the prophets; let them hear them”—Moses being the leader of the labor movement which had given to the slaves in the Goshen brick-yards their long-deferred rights; and the prophets being those ardent Old Testament tribunes of the people who had so[355] hotly contended for the family idea of society against the exploiters and graspers at the top. Dante’s idea that each sin on earth fashions its own proper punishment in hell receives confirmation in this parable. “The great gulf fixed,” which constituted Dives’s hell, was the gulf which he himself had brought about. For the private fortune he amassed had broken up the solidarity of society—had introduced into it a chasm both broad and deep. The gulf between him and Lazarus in this world exists in the world to come to plague him. The thirst which parched Dives’s tongue, “being in torments,” was the thirst for companionship, the healing contact once more with his fellows, from whom his fortune had sundered him like a butcher’s cleaver. Jesus had so exalted a notion of the working class, their absence of cant, their rugged facing of the facts, their elemental simplicities, their first-hand contact with the realities of life, that he regarded any man who should draw himself off from them in a fancied superiority, as immeasurably the loser thereby, and as putting himself “in torments.”


(From the London “Spectator”)


Still he lingers, where wealth and fashion
Meet together to dine or play—
Lingers, a matter of vague compassion,
Out in the darkness across the way;
Out beyond the warmth and the glitter,
The light where luxury’s laughter rings,
Lazarus waits, where the wind is bitter,
Receiving his evil things.
Still ye find him when, breathless, burning,
Summer flames upon square and street,
When the fortunate ones of the earth are turning
Their thoughts to meadows and meadow-sweet;
Far away from the wide green valley,
The bramble patch where the white-throat sings,
Lazarus sweats in his crowded alley,
Receiving his evil things....
In the name of Knowledge the race grows healthier,
In the name of Freedom the world grows great;
And men are wiser, and men are wealthier,
But—Lazarus lies at the rich man’s gate.
Lies as he lay through human history,
Fame of heroes and pomp of kings,
At the rich man’s gate, an abiding mystery,
Receiving his evil things.

A Parable

By James Russell Lowell

(See page 189)

Said Christ our Lord, “I will go and see
How the men, my brethren, believe in me.”
He passed not again through the gate of birth,
But made himself known to the children of earth.
Then said the chief priests, and rulers, and kings,
“Behold, now, the Giver of all good things;
Go to, let us welcome with pomp and state
Him who alone is mighty and great.”
With carpets of gold the ground they spread
Wherever the Son of Man should tread,
And in palace chambers lofty and rare
They lodged him, and served him with kingly fare.
Great organs surged through arches dim
Their jubilant floods in praise of him;
And in church, and palace, and judgment-hall,
He saw his image high over all.
But still, wherever his steps they led,
The Lord in sorrow bent down his head,
And from under the heavy foundation-stones
The son of Mary heard bitter groans.
And in church, and palace, and judgment-hall,
He marked great fissures that rent the wall,
And opened wider and yet more wide
As the living foundation heaved and sighed.
“Have ye founded your thrones and altars, then,
On the bodies and souls of living men?
And think ye that building shall endure,
Which shelters the noble and crushes the poor?
”With gates of silver and bars of gold
Ye have fenced my sheep from their Father’s fold;
I have heard the dropping of their tears
In heaven these eighteen hundred years.“
”O Lord and Master, not ours the guilt,
We build but as our fathers built;
Behold thine images, how they stand,
Sovereign and sole, through all our land.
“Our task is hard,—with sword and flame
To hold thine earth forever the same,
And with sharp crooks of steel to keep
Still, as thou leftest them, thy sheep.”
Then Christ sought out an artisan,
A low-browed, stunted, haggard man,
And a motherless girl, whose fingers thin
Pushed from her faintly want and sin.
These set he in the midst of them,
And as they drew back their garment-hem,
For fear of defilement, “Lo, here,” said he,
“The images ye have made of me!”

From the Gospel According to Matthew

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee?”

And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”


Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”

Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?”

Then shall he answer them, saying, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

The Easter Children

(From “The Frozen Grail and other Poems”)

By Elsa Barker

(See page 315)

“Christ the Lord is risen!”
Chant the Easter children,
Their love-moulded faces
Luminous with gladness,
And their costly raiment
Gleaming like the lilies.
But last night I wandered
Where Christ had not risen,
Where love knows no gladness,
Where the lord of Hunger
Leaves no room for lilies,
And no time for childhood.
And today I wonder
Whether I am dreaming;
For above the swelling
Of their Easter music
I can hear the murmur,
“Suffer all the children.”
Nay, the world is dreaming!
And my seeing spirit
Trembles for its waking,
When their Saviour rises
To restore the lilies
To the outcast children.

The Quest

By Frederik van Eeden

(The most widely read of modern Dutch novels, this story of the life of “Little Johannes” is perhaps the most successful of the many attempts that have been made to portray the coming of Jesus into the modern world. Johannes is a boy of good family, who meets a strange, homeless workingman, to whom he becomes devoted, and whom he calls his “Brother.” The present selection narrates how Johannes was taken to church.)

“You see, Father,” said the countess, “we have come to seek Jesus. Johannes, also.”

“He is waiting for you,” replied the priest, solemnly, pointing out the great crucifix above the altar. Then he disappeared into the sacristy.

Johannes immediately fastened his eyes upon that figure, and continued to contemplate it while the people were taking their places.


It hung in the strongest light of the shadowy church. Apparently it was of wood stained to a pale rose, with peculiar blue and brown shadows. The wounds in the side and under the thorns on the forehead were distinct to exaggeration—all purple and swollen, with great streaks of blood like dark-red sealing-wax. The face, with its closed eyes, wore a look of distress, and a large circle of gold and precious stones waggishly adorned the usual russet-colored, cork-screwy, woodeny locks. The cross itself was of shining gold, and each of its four extremities was ornamented, while a nice, wavy paper above the head bore the letters I. N. R. I. One could see that it was all brand-new, and freshly gilded and painted. Wreaths and bouquets of paper flowers embellished the altar.

For a long time—perhaps a quarter of an hour—Johannes continued to look at the image. “That is Jesus,” he muttered to himself, “He of whom I have so often heard. Now I am going to learn about Him, and He is to comfort me. He it is who has redeemed the world.”

But however often he might repeat this, trying seriously to convince himself—because he would have been glad to be convinced and also to be redeemed—he could nevertheless see nothing except a repulsive, ugly, bloody, prinked-up wooden doll. And this made him feel doubly sorrowful and disheartened. Fully fifteen minutes had he sat there, looking and musing, hearing the people around him chatting—about the price they had paid for their places, about the keeping on or taking off of women’s hats, and about the reserved seats for the first families. Then the door of the sacristy opened, and the choir-boys with their swinging censers, and the sacristan, and the[362] priests in their beautiful, gold-bordered garments, came slowly and majestically in. And as the congregation kneeled, Johannes kneeled with them.

And when Johannes, as well as the others, looked at the incoming procession, and then again turned his eyes to the high altar, behold! there, to his amazement, kneeling before the white altar, he saw a dark form. It was in plain sight, bending forward in the twilight, the arms upon the altar, and the face hidden in the arms. A man it was, in the customary dark clothes of a laborer. No one—neither Johannes nor probably any one else in the church—had seen whence he came. But he was now in the full sight of all, and one could hear whisperings and a subdued excitement run along the rows of people and pass on to the rear, like a gust of wind over a grain-field.

As soon as the procession of choir-boys and priests came within sight of the altar, the sacristan stepped hastily out of line and went forward to the stranger, to assure him that, possibly from too deep absorption in devotion, or from lack of familiarity with ecclesiastical ceremony, he was guilty of intrusion.

He touched the man’s shoulder, but the man did not stir. In the breathless stillness that followed, while everyone expectantly awaited the outcome, a deep, heartrending sob was heard.

“A penitent!” “A drunken man!” “A convert!” were some of the whispered comments of the people.

The perplexed sacristan turned round, and beckoned Father Canisius, who, with impressive bearing, stepped up in his white, gold-threaded garb, as imposingly as a full-sailed frigate moves.

“Your place is not here,” said the priest, in his deep[363] voice. He spoke kindly, and not particularly loudly. “Go to the back of the church.”

There was no reply, and the man did not move; yet, in the still more profound silence, his weeping was so audible that many people shuddered.

“Do you not hear me?” said the priest, raising his voice a little, and speaking with some impatience. “It is well that you are repentant, but only the consecrated belong here—not penitents.”

So saying, he grasped the shoulder of the stranger with his large, strong hand.

Then, slowly, very slowly, the kneeling man raised his head from his arms, and turned his face toward the priest.

What followed, perhaps each one of the hundreds of witnesses would tell differently; and of those who heard about it later, each had a different idea. But I am going to tell you what Johannes saw and heard—heard quite as clearly as you have seen and heard the members of your own household, today.

He saw his Brother’s face, pale and illumined, as if his head were shone upon by beams of clearest sunlight. And the sadness of that face was so deep and unutterable, so bitter and yet so gentle, that Johannes felt forced, through pain, to press both hands upon his heart, and to set his teeth, while he gazed with wide, tear-filled eyes, forgetting everything save that shining face so full of grief.

For a time it was as still as death, while man and priest regarded each other. At last the man spoke, and said:

“Who are you, and in whose name are you here?”

When two men stand thus, face to face, and address each other with all earnestness in the hearing of many others, one of them is always immediately recognized to[364] be the superior—even if the listeners are unable to gauge the force of the argument. Every one feels that superiority, although later many forget or deny it. If that dominance is not very great, it arouses spitefulness and fury; but if it is indeed great, it brings, betimes, repose and submissiveness.

In this case the ascendency was so great that the priest lost even the air of authority and assurance with which he had come forward, and did that for which, later, he reproached himself—he stopped to explain:

“I am a consecrated priest of the Triune God, and I speak in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—our Saviour and Redeemer.”

There ensued a long silence, and Johannes saw nothing but the shining, human face and the eyes, which, full of sorrow and compassion, continued to regard the richly robed priest with a bitter smile. The priest stood motionless, with hanging hands and staring eyes, as if uncertain what next to say or do; but he listened silently for what was coming, as did Johannes and all the others in the church—as if under an overpowering spell.

Then came the following words, and so long as they sounded no one could think of anything else—neither of the humble garb of him who spoke, nor of the incomprehensible subjection of his gorgeously arrayed listener:

“But you are not yet a man! Would you be a priest of the Most High?

“You are not yet redeemed, nor are these others with you redeemed, although you make bold to say so in the name of the Redeemer.

“Did your Saviour when upon earth wear cloth of silver and of gold?

“There is no redemption yet—neither for you nor for[365] any of yours. The time is not come for the wearing of garments of gold.

“Mock not, nor slander. Your ostentation is a travesty of the Most High, and a defamation of your Saviour.

“Do you esteem the kingdom of God a trifle, that you array yourself and rejoice, while the world still lies in despair and in shackles?...

“You are so commanded to serve your Father in spirit and in truth, and you have served Him with the letter and with lies.

“His prophets, who loved the truth better than their lives, you have burned at the stake, and have made them martyrs....

“You pull the carriage of prince and moneyed man, and make grimaces before the powerful.

“They build your churches, and you say masses for them, although they be Satan himself....

“What have you done for the sheep committed to your care—for the poor and bereaved—for the oppressed and the disinherited?

“Submission you have taught them—ay—submission to Mammon. You have taught them to bow meekly to Satan.

“God’s light—the light of knowledge—you have withheld from them. Woe be to you!

“You have taught them to beg, and to kiss the rod that smote them. You have cloaked the shame of alms-receiving, and have prated of honor in servitude.

“Thus have you humbled man, and disfigured the human soul....

“Of the love of the Father you have made commerce—a sinful merchandise. Not because you love virtue do you preach it, but because of the sweet profit. You[366] promise deliverance to all who follow your counsel; but as well can you make a present of moon and stars.

“Are you not told to recompense evil with good? And is God less than man that He should do otherwise?

“It is well for you that He does not do otherwise, for where then were your salvation?

“For you, and you only, are the brood of vipers against whom is kindled the wrath of Him who was gentle with adulterers and murderers.”

While speaking, the man had risen to his full height, and he now appeared, to all there assembled, impressively tall.

When he had spoken, reaching his right hand backward he grasped the foot of the great golden crucifix. It snapped off like glass, and he threw it on the marble floor at the feet of the priest. The fragment broke into many bits. It was apparently not wood, but plaster.

“Sacrilege!” cried the priest, in a stifled voice, as if the sound were wrung from his throat. His eyes seemed to be starting out of his great purple face.

The man quietly replied:

“No, but my right; for you are the sacrilegist and the blasphemer who makes of the Son of man a hideous caricature.”

Then the priest stepped forward, and gripped Markus by the wrist. The latter made no resistance, but cried in a loud voice that reverberated through the church:

“Do your work, Caiaphas!”

After that he suffered himself to be led away to the sacristy.


The Image in the Forum

By Robert Buchanan

(English novelist and dramatist, 1814-1901)

Not Baal, but Christus-Jingo! Heir
Of him who once was crucified!
The red stigmata still are there,
The crimson spear-wounds in the side;
But raised aloft as God and Lord,
He holds the Money-bag and Sword.
See, underneath the Crown of Thorn,
The eye-balls fierce, the features grim!
And merrily from night to morn
We chaunt his praise and worship him
Great Christus-Jingo, at whose feet
Christian and Jew and Atheist meet!
A wondrous god! most fit for those
Who cheat on ‘Change, then creep to prayer;
Blood on his heavenly altar flows,
Hell’s burning incense fills the air,
And Death attests in street and lane
The hideous glory of his reign.
O gentle Jew, from age to age
Walking the waves thou could’st not tame,
This god hath ta’en thy heritage,
And stolen thy sweet and stainless Name!
To him we crawl and bend the knee,
Naming thy Name, but scorning Thee!


The Quest

By Frederik van Eeden

(Sequel to the scene quoted on page 360. Jesus has been held for examination as to his sanity)

“Does he often have those whims, Johannes,” asked Dr. Cijfer, “when he will not speak?”

“He has no whims,” said Johannes, stoutly.

“Why, then, will he not reply?”

“I think you would not answer me,” returned Johannes, “if I were to ask you if you were mad.”

The two learned men exchanged smiles.

“That is a somewhat different situation,” said Bommeldoos, haughtily.

“He was not questioned in such a blunt manner as that,” explained Doctor Cijfer. “I asked about his extraction, his age, the health of his father and mother, about his own youth, and so forth—the usual memory promptings. Will you not give us some further information concerning him? Remember, it is of real importance to your brother.”

“Mijnheer,” said Johannes, “I know as little as yourself about all that....”

There was a knock at the door. The nurse came and said, “Here is the patient.” Then he let Markus in....

Markus had on a dark-blue linen blouse, such as all the patients of the working-class wear. He stood tall and erect, and Johannes observed that his face was less pale and sad than usual. The blue became his dark curling hair, and Johannes felt happy and confident as he looked at him—standing there so proud and calm and handsome.


“Take a seat,” said Dr. Cijfer.

But Markus seemed not to have heard, and remained standing, while he nodded kindly and reassuringly to Johannes.

“Observe his pride,” said Professor Bommeldoos, in Latin to Dr. Cijfer.

“The proud find pride, and the gloomy, gloom; but the glad find gladness, and the lowly, humility,” said Markus.

Dr. Cijfer stood up, and took his measuring instrument from the table. Then, in a quiet, courteous tone, he said:

“Will you not permit us, Mijnheer, to take your head measure? It is for a scientific purpose?”

“It gives no pain,” added Bommeldoos.

“Not to the body,” said Markus.

Said Dr. Cijfer, “There is nothing in it to offend one. I have had it done to myself many a time.”

“There is a kind of opinionativeness and denseness that offend.”

Bommeldoos flushed. “Opinionativeness and denseness! Mine, perchance? Am I such an ignoramus? Opinionated and stupid!”

“Colleague!” exclaimed Dr. Cijfer, in gentle expostulation. And then, as he enclosed Markus’s head with the shining craniometer, he gave the measurement figures. A considerable time passed, nothing being heard save the low voice of the doctor dictating the figures. Then, as if proceeding with his present occupation, taking advantage of what he considered a compliant mood of the patient, the crafty doctor fancied he saw his opportunity, and said:

“Your parents certainly dwelt in another country—one more southerly and more mountainous.”


But Markus removed the doctor’s hand, with the instrument, from his head, and looked at him piercingly.

“Why are you not sincere?” he then asked, with gentle stress. “How can truth be found through untruth?”

Dr. Cijfer hesitated, and then did exactly what Father Canisius had done—something which, later, he was of the opinion he ought not to have done: he argued with him.

“But if you will not give me a direct reply I am obliged to get the truth circuitously.”

Said Markus, “A curved sword will not go far into a straight scabbard.”

Professor Bommeldoos grew impatient, and snapped at the doctor aside, in a smothered voice: “Do not argue, Colleague, do not argue! Megalomaniacs are smarter, and sometimes have subtler dialectic faculties than you have. Just let me conduct the examination.”

And then, after a loud “h’m! h’m!” he said to Markus:

“ ... Now just tell me, frankly, my friend, are you a prophet? An apostle? Are you perhaps the King? Or are you God himself?”

Markus was silent.

“Why do you not answer now?”

“Because I am not being questioned.”

“Not being questioned! What, then, am I now doing?”

“Raving,” said Markus.

Bommeldoos flushed, and lost his composure.

“Be careful, my friend. You must not be impertinent. Remember that we may decide your fate here.”

Markus lifted his head, with a questioning air, so earnest that the professor held his peace.

“With whom rests the decision of our fate?” asked Markus. Then, pointing with his finger: “Do you consider yourself the one to decide?”


After that he uttered not a word. Dr. Cijfer questioned with gentle stress, Professor Bommeldoos with vehement energy; but Markus was silent, and seemed not to notice that there were others in the room.

“I adhere to my diagnosis, Colleague,” said Bommeldoos.

Dr. Cijfer rang, and ordered the nurse to come.

“Take the patient to his ward again. He will remain, for the present, under observation.”

Markus went, after making a short but kindly inclination of the head to Johannes.

“Will you not tell us now, Johannes, what you know of this person?” asked Dr. Cijfer.

“Mijnheer,” replied Johannes, “I know but little more of him than you do yourself. I met him two years ago, and he is my dearest friend; but I have seen him rarely, and have never inquired about his life nor his origin.”

“Remarkable!” exclaimed Dr. Cijfer.

“Once again, Colleague, I stand by my diagnosis,” said Bommeldoos. “Initial paranoia, with megalomaniacal symptoms, on the basis of hereditary inferiority, with vicarious genius.”




(Belgian sculptor, 1831-1905)




(Contemporary German painter)

The Swordless Christ

By Percy Adams Hutchison

(American poet, born 1875)

Vicisti Galilaee

Ay, down the years behold he rides,
The lowly Christ, upon an ass;
But conquering? Ten shall heed the call,
A thousand idly watch him pass:
They watch him pass, or lightly hold
In mock lip-loyalty his name:
A thousand—were they his to lead!
But meek, without a sword, he came.
A myriad horsemen swept the field
With Attila, the whirlwind Hun;
A myriad cannon spake for him,
The silent, dread Napoleon.
For these had ready spoil to give,
Had reeking spoil for savage hands;
Slaves, and fair wives, and pillage rare:
The wealth of cities: teeming lands.
And if the world, once drunk with blood,
Sated, has turned from arms to peace,
Man hath not lost his ancient lusts;
The weapons change; war doth not cease.
The mother in the stifling den,
The brain-dulled child beside the loom,
The hordes that swarm and toil and starve—
We laugh, and tread them to their doom.
They shriek, and cry their prayers to Christ;
And lift wan faces, hands that bleed:
In vain they pray, for what is Christ?
A leader—without men to lead.
Ah, piteous Christ afar he rides!
We see him, but the face is dim;
We that would leap at crash of drums
Are slow to rise and follow him.


How Long, O Lord

By Hall Caine

(English novelist and dramatist, born 1853)

Look down, O Lord, look down. Are the centuries a waste? Nigh upon two thousand years have gone since Thou didst walk the world, and the face of things is not unchanged. In Thy Name now doth the Pharisee give alms in the street to the sound of a trumpet going before him. In Thy Name now doth the Levite pass by on the other side when a man hath fallen among thieves. In Thy Name now doth the lawyer lay on the poor burdens grievous to be borne. In Thy Name now doth the priest buy and sell the glad tidings of the kingdom, giving for the gospel of God the commandments of men, living in rich men’s houses, faring sumptuously every day, praying with his lips, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but saying to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Is it this Thy gospel that yields that Thy fruit? Then will the master of the vineyard come shortly and say, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”


In a Siberian Prison Church

(From “Resurrection”)

By Leo Tolstoy

(See pages 88, 110, 148, 276)

The service began.

It consisted of the following. The priest, having dressed himself up in a strange and very inconvenient garb of gold cloth, cut and arranged little bits of bread on a saucer and then put most of them in a cup with wine, repeating at the same time different names and prayers. Meanwhile the deacon first read Slavonic prayers, difficult to understand in themselves, and rendered still more incomprehensible by being read very fast; he then sang them turn and turn about with the convicts.

The essence of the service consisted in the supposition that the bits of bread cut up by the priest and put into the wine, when manipulated and prayed over in a certain way, turned into the flesh and blood of God.

These manipulations consisted in the priest, hampered by the gold cloth sack he had on, regularly lifting and holding up his arms and then sinking to his knees and kissing the table and all that was on it; but chiefly in his taking a cloth by two of its corners and waving it rhythmically and softly over the silver saucer and the golden cup. It was supposed that at this point the bread and the wine turned into flesh and blood; therefore this part of the service was performed with the utmost solemnity. And the convicts made the sign of the cross, and bowed, first at each sentence, then after every two, and then after three; and all were very glad when the glorification ended[375] and the priest shut the book with a sigh of relief and retired behind the partition. One last act remained. The priest took from a table a large gilt cross with enamel medallions at the ends, and came out into the center of the church with it. First the inspector came up and kissed the cross, then the jailers, and then the convicts, pushing and jostling, and abusing each other in whispers. The priest, talking to the inspector, pushed the cross and his hand, now against the mouths and now against the noses of the convicts, who were trying to kiss both the cross and the hand of the priest. And thus ended the Christian service, intended for the comfort and edification of these brothers who had gone astray.

And none of these present, from the inspector down, seemed conscious of the fact that this Jesus, whose name the priest repeated such a great number of times, whom he praised with all these curious expressions, had forbidden the very things that were being done there; that he had not only prohibited this meaningless much-speaking and the blasphemous incantation over the bread and wine, but had also, in the clearest words, forbidden men to call other men their master or to pray in temples; had taught that every one should pray in solitude; had forbidden to erect temples, saying that he had come to destroy them, and that one should worship not in a temple, but in spirit and in truth; and, above all, that not only had he forbidden to judge, to imprison, to torment, to execute men, as was done here, but had even prohibited any kind of violence, saying that he had come to give freedom to the captives.

No one present seemed conscious that all that was going on here was the greatest blasphemy, and a mockery of that same Christ in whose name it was being done. No[376] one seemed to realize that the gilt cross with the enamel medallions at the ends, which the priest held out to the people to be kissed, was nothing but the emblem of that gallows on which Christ had been executed for denouncing just what was going on here. That these priests, who imagined they were eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, did in reality eat and drink his flesh and his blood, only not as wine and bits of bread, but by ensnaring “these little ones” with whom he identified himself, by depriving them of the greatest blessings and submitting them to most cruel torments, and by hiding from men the tidings of great joy which he had brought—that thought did not enter the mind of any one present.

Before a Crucifix

By Algernon Charles Swinburne

(English poet of nature and liberty, 1837-1909)

Here, down between the dusty trees,
At this lank edge of haggard wood,
Women with labor-loosened knees,
With gaunt backs bowed by servitude,
Stop, shift their loads, and pray, and fare
Forth with souls easier for the prayer.
The suns have branded black, the rains
Striped gray this piteous God of theirs;
The face is full of prayers and pains,
To which they bring their pains and prayers;
Lean limbs that shew the laboring bones,
And ghastly mouth that gapes and groans.
God of this grievous people, wrought
After the likeness of their race,
By faces like thine own besought,
Thine own blind helpless, eyeless face,
I too, that have nor tongue nor knee
For prayer, I have a word to thee.
It was for this then, that thy speech
Was blown about the world in flame
And men’s souls shot up out of reach
Of fear or lust or thwarting shame—
That thy faith over souls should pass
As sea-winds burning the grey grass?
It was for this, that prayers like these
Should spend themselves about thy feet,
And with hard overlabored knees
Kneeling, these slaves of men should beat
Bosoms too lean to suckle sons
And fruitless as their orisons?
It was for this, that men should make
Thy name a fetter on men’s necks,
Poor men made poorer for thy sake,
And women withered out of sex?
It was for this, that slaves should be,
Thy word was passed to set men free?
The nineteenth wave of the ages rolls
Now deathward since thy death and birth.
Hast thou fed full men’s starved-out souls?
Hast thou brought freedom upon earth?
Or are there less oppressions done
In this wild world under the sun?
Nay, if indeed thou be not dead,
Before thy terrene shrine be shaken,
Look down, turn usward, bow thine head;
O thou that wast of God forsaken,
Look on thine household here, and see
These that have not forsaken thee.
Thy faith is fire upon their lips,
Thy kingdom golden in their hands;
They scourge us with thy words for whips,
They brand us with thy words for brands;
The thirst that made thy dry throat shrink
To their moist mouths commends the drink....
O sacred head, O desecrate,
O labor-wounded feet and hands,
O blood poured forth in pledge to fate
Of nameless lives in divers lands,
O slain and spent and sacrificed
People, the grey-grown speechless Christ!
Is there a gospel in the red
Old witness of thy wide-mouthed wounds?
From thy blind stricken tongueless head
What desolate evangel sounds
A hopeless note of hope deferred?
What word, if there be any word?
O son of man, beneath man’s feet
Cast down, O common face of man
Whereon all blows and buffets meet,
O royal, O republican
Face of the people bruised and dumb
And longing till thy kingdom come!...
The tree of faith ingraft by priests
Puts its foul foliage out above thee,
And round it feed man-eating beasts
Because of whom we dare not love thee;
Though hearts reach back and memories ache,
We cannot praise thee for their sake....
Nay, if their God and thou be one,
If thou and this thing be the same,
Thou shouldst not look upon the sun;
The sun grows haggard at thy name.
Come down, be done with, cease, give o’er;
Hide thyself, strive not, be no more.



The Church

Contains passages, both of exhortation and denunciation, dealing with the relation of the church toward modern problems, and the effort to bring back a property-strangled institution to the revolutionary gospel of its founder.


God and My Neighbor

By Robert Blatchford

(See pages 66, 121, 170)

“For all that, Robert, you’re a notorious Infidel.” I paused—just opposite the Tivoli—and gazed moodily up and down the Strand.

As I have remarked elsewhere, I like the Strand. It is a very human place. But I own that the Strand lacks dignity and beauty, and that amongst its varied odors the odor of sanctity is scarcely perceptible.

There are no trees in the Strand. The thoroughfare should be wider. The architecture is, for the most part, banal. For a chief street in a Christian capital, the Strand is not eloquent of high national ideals.

There are derelict churches in the Strand, and dingy, blatant taverns, and strident signs and hoardings; and there are slums hard by.

There are thieves in the Strand, and prowling vagrants, and gaunt hawkers, and touts, and gamblers, and loitering failures, with tragic eyes and wilted garments; and prostitutes plying for hire.

And east and west, and north and south of the Strand, there is London. Is there a man amongst all London’s millions brave enough to tell the naked truth about the vice and crime, the misery and meanness, the hypocrisies and shames of the great, rich, heathen city? Were such a man to arise amongst us and voice the awful truth, what would his reception be? How would he fare at the hands of the Press, and the Public—and the Church?


As London is, so is England. This is a Christian country. What would Christ think of Park Lane, and the slums, and the hooligans? What would He think of the Stock Exchange, and the music hall, and the race-course? What would He think of our national ideals? What would He think of the House of Peers, and the Bench of Bishops, and the Yellow Press?

Pausing again, over against Exeter Hall, I mentally apostrophize the Christian British people. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” I say, “you are Christians in name, but I discern little of Christ in your ideals, your institutions, or your daily lives. You are a mercenary, self-indulgent, frivolous, boastful, blood-guilty mob of heathen. I like you very much, but that is what you are. And it is you—you who call men ‘Infidels.’ You ridiculous creatures, what do you mean by it?”

If to praise Christ in words, and deny Him in deeds, be Christianity, then London is a Christian city, and England is a Christian nation. For it is very evident that our common English ideals are anti-Christian, and that our commercial, foreign, and social affairs are run on anti-Christian lines.

Renan says, in his Life of Jesus, that “were Jesus to return amongst us He would recognize as His disciples, not those who imagine they can compress Him into a few catechismal phrases, but those who labour to carry on his work.”

My Christian friends, I am a Socialist, and as such believe in, and work for, universal freedom, and universal brotherhood, and universal peace.

And you are Christians, and I am an “Infidel.” Well, be it even so.


From the Gospel of Luke

When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!

From the Bottom Up

By Alexander Irvine

(The life-story of an Irish peasant lad, born 1863, who became in turn stableman, man-of-war’s-man, slum-missionary, clergyman, and Socialist agitator)

After some years’ experience in missions and mission churches, I would find it very hard if I were a workingman living in a tenement not to be antagonistic to them; for, in large measure, such work is done on the assumption that people are poor and degraded through laxity in morals. The scheme of salvation is a salvation for the individual; social salvation is out of the question. Social conditions cannot be touched, because in all rotten social conditions, there is a thin red line which always leads to the rich man or woman who is responsible for them.

Coming in contact with these ugly social facts continuously, led me to this belief. It came very slowly; as did also the opinion that the missionary himself or the pastor, be he as wise as Solomon, as eloquent as Demosthenes, as virtuous as St. Francis, has no social standing whatever among the people whose alms support the institutions, religious and philanthropic, of which he is the executive head. The fellowship of the saints is a pure fiction, has absolutely no foundation in fact in a city like New York except as the poor saints have it by themselves.


From the Gospel of John

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.

The Inside of the Cup[T]

By Winston Churchill

(One of the most popular of American novelists, born 1871. This story has for its theme the failure of the Church in the face of modern social problems. In the following scene a rich man is rebuked by his pastor)

The perceptions of the banker were keen, and his sense of security was brief. Somehow, as he met the searching eye of the rector, he was unable to see the man as a visionary, but beheld and,—to do him justice—felt a twinge of respect for an adversary worthy of his steel. He, who was accustomed to prepare for clouds when they were mere specks on his horizon, paused even now to marvel why he had not dealt with this. Here was a man—a fanatic, if he liked—but still a man who positively did not fear him, to whom his wrath and power were as nothing! A new and startling and complicated sensation—but Eldon Parr was no coward. If he had, consciously or unconsciously, formerly looked upon the clergyman as a dependent, Hodder appeared to be one no more. The very ruggedness of the man had enhanced, expanded—as it were—until it filled the room. And Hodder had, with[387] an audacity unparalleled in the banker’s experience, arraigned by implication his whole life, managed to put him on the defensive.

“But if that has become your philosophy,” the rector said—“that a man must look out for himself—what is it in you that impels you to give these large sums for the public good?”

“I should suppose that you, as a clergyman, might understand that my motive is a Christian one.”

Hodder sat very still, but a higher light came into his eyes.

“Mr. Parr,” he replied, “I have been a friend of yours, and I am a friend still. And what I am going to tell you is not only in the hope that others may benefit, but that your own soul may be saved. I mean that literally—your own soul. You are under the impression that you are a Christian, but you are not and never have been one. And you will not be one until your whole life is transformed, until you become a different man. If you do not change, it is my duty to warn you that sorrow and suffering, the uneasiness which you now know, and which drive you on, in search of distraction, to adding useless sums of money to your fortune—this suffering, I say, will become intensified. You will die in the knowledge of it, and live on after, in the knowledge of it.”

In spite of himself, the financier drew back before this unexpected blast, the very intensity of which had struck a chill of terror in his inmost being. He had been taken off his guard,—for he had supposed the day long past—if it had ever existed—when a spiritual rebuke would upset him; the day long past when a minister could pronounce one with any force. That the Church should ever again presume to take herself seriously had never occurred[388] to him. And yet—the man had denounced him in a moment of depression, of nervous irritation and exasperation against a government which had begun to interfere with the sacred liberty of its citizens, against political agitators who had spurred that government on. The world was mad. No element, it seemed, was now content to remain in its proper place. His voice, as he answered, shook with rage,—all the greater because the undaunted sternness by which it was confronted seemed to reduce it to futility.

“Take care!” he cried, “take care! You, nor any other man, clergyman or no clergyman, have any right to be the judge of my conduct.”

“On the contrary,” said Hodder, “if your conduct affects the welfare, the progress, the reputation of the church of which I am rector, I have the right. And I intend to exercise it. It becomes my duty, however painful, to tell you, as a member of the Church, wherein you have wronged the Church and wronged yourself.”

He didn’t raise his tone, and there was in it more of sorrow than of indignation. The banker turned an ashen gray.... A moment elapsed before he spoke, a transforming moment. He suddenly became ice.

“Very well,” he said. “I can’t pretend to account for these astounding views you have acquired—and I am using a mild term. Let me say this” (he leaned forward a little, across the desk): “I demand that you be specific. I am a busy man, I have little time to waste, I have certain matters before me which must be attended to to-night. I warn you that I will not listen any longer to vague accusations.”

It was Hodder’s turn to marvel. Did Eldon Parr, after all, have no sense of guilt? Instantaneously, automatically, his own anger rose.


“You may be sure, Mr. Parr, that I should not be here unless I were prepared to be specific. And what I am going to say to you I have reserved for your ear alone, in the hope that you will take it to heart while it is not yet too late, and amend your life accordingly....”

(The clergyman tells the banker of lives that have been ruined by his financial dishonesties.)

“I am not talking about the imperfect code of human justice under which we live, Mr. Parr,” he cried. “This is not a case in which a court of law may exonerate you, it is between you and your God. But I have taken the trouble to find out, from unquestioned sources, the truth about the Consolidated Tractions Company—I shall not go into the details at length—they are doubtless familiar to you. I know that the legal genius of Mr. Langmaid, one of my vestry, made possible the organization of the company, and thereby evaded the plain spirit of the law of the state. I know that one branch line was bought for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and capitalized for three millions, and that most of the others were scandalously over-capitalized. I know that while the coming transaction was still a secret, you and other gentlemen connected with the matter bought up large interests in other lines, which you proceeded to lease to yourselves at guaranteed dividends which these lines do not earn. I know that the first large dividend was paid out of capital. And the stock which you sold to poor Garvin was so hopelessly watered that it never could have been anything but worthless. If, in spite of these facts, you do not deem yourself responsible for the misery which has been caused, if your conscience is now clear, it is my duty to tell you that there is a higher bar of justice.”

The intensity of the fire of the denunciation had, indeed,[390] a momentary yet visible effect in the banker’s expression. Whatever the emotions thus lashed to self-betrayal, anger, hatred,—fear, perhaps, Hodder could not detect a trace of penitence; and he was aware, on the part of the other, of a supreme, almost spasmodic effort for self-control. The constitutional reluctance of Eldon Parr to fight openly could not have been more clearly demonstrated.

“Because you are a clergyman, Mr. Hodder,” he began, “because you are the rector of St. John’s, I have allowed you to say things to me which I would not have permitted from any other man. I have tried to take into account your point of view, which is naturally restricted, your pardonable ignorance of what business men, who wish to do their duty by Church and State, have to contend with. When you came to this parish you seemed to have a sensible, a proportional view of things; you were content to confine your activities to your own sphere, content not to meddle with politics and business, which you could, at first hand, know nothing about. The modern desire of clergymen to interfere in these matters has ruined the usefulness of many of them.

“I repeat, I have tried to be patient. I venture to hope, still, that this extraordinary change in you may not be permanent, but merely the result of a natural sympathy with the weak and unwise and unfortunate who are always to be found in a complex civilization. I can even conceive how such a discovery must have shocked you, temporarily aroused your indignation, as a clergyman, against the world as it is—and, I may add, as it has always been. My personal friendship for you, and my interest in your future welfare impel me to make a final appeal to you not to ruin a career which is full of promise....”

“I hinted to you awhile ago of a project I have con[391]ceived and almost perfected of gifts on a much larger scale than I have ever attempted.” The financier stared at him meaningly. “And I had you in mind as one of the three men whom I should consult, whom I should associate with myself in the matter. We cannot change human nature, but we can better conditions by wise giving. I do not refer now to the settlement house, which I am ready to help make and maintain as the best in the country, but I have in mind a system to be carried out with the consent and aid of the municipal government, of playgrounds, baths, parks, places of recreation, and hospitals, for the benefit of the people, which will put our city in the very forefront of progress. And I believe, as a practical man, I can convince you that the betterment which you and I so earnestly desire can be brought about in no other way. Agitation can only result in anarchy and misery for all.”

Hodder’s wrath, as he rose from his chair, was of the sort that appears incredibly to add to the physical stature,—the bewildering spiritual wrath which is rare indeed, and carries all before it.

“Don’t tempt me, Mr. Parr!” he said. “Now that I know the truth, I tell you frankly I would face poverty and persecution rather than consent to your offer. And I warn you once more not to flatter yourself that existence ends here, that you will not be called to answer for every wrong act you have committed in accumulating your fortune, that what you call business is an affair of which God takes no account. What I say may seem foolishness to you, but I tell you, in the words of that Foolishness, that it will not profit you to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. You remind me that the Church in old time accepted gifts from the spoils of war, and I will add of rapine and murder. And the Church today, to repeat your[392] own parallel, grows rich with money wrongfully got. Legally? Ah, yes, legally, perhaps. But that will not avail you. And the kind of church you speak of—to which I, to my shame, once consented—Our Lord repudiates. It is none of his. I warn you, Mr. Parr, in his Name, first to make your peace with your brothers before you presume to lay another gift on the altar.”

During this withering condemnation of himself Eldon Parr sat motionless, his face grown livid, an expression on it that continued to haunt Hodder long afterwards. An expression, indeed, which made the banker almost unrecognizable.

“Go,” he whispered, his hand trembling visibly as he pointed towards the door. “Go—I have had enough of this.”

Trinity Church

By Edwin Davies Schoonmaker

(Contemporary American poet)

In vain she points her finger to the sky
And sends her voice along the famous street,
Admonishing how the mortal hours fleet
And bidding men bethink that they must die.
Tearing the coat of Christ they jostle by
And ply their gambling at her very feet.
“Prepare, prepare, prepare thy God to meet!”
She loudly calls. They do not heed her. Why?
Thou, stuffed with tithes of them that traffic here,
Flesh of their flesh, and with thy spotted hand
Buying and selling, fattening year by year,
How darest thou rebuke this venal band?
Thou mocker of the man of Galilee,
Prepare to meet thy God, thou Pharisee.



(French illustrator, 1804-1860)




(Contemporary American sculptor)

The Church and the Workers

By Walter Rauschenbusch

(See page 346)

The stratification of society is becoming more definite in our country, and the people are becoming more conscious of it. The industrial conflicts make them realize how their interests diverge from those of the commercial class. As that consciousness increases, it becomes harder for the two classes to meet in the expression of Christian faith and love—in prayer meetings, for instance. When the Christian business man is presented as a model Christian, working people are coming to look with suspicion on these samples of our Christianity. I am not justifying that, but simply stating the fact. They disapprove of the Christianity of the churches, not because it is too good, but because it is not good enough. The working people are now developing the principle and practice of solidarity, which promises to be one of the most potent ethical forces of the future, and which is essentially more Christian than the covetousness and selfishness which we regard as the indispensable basis of commerce. If this is a correct diagnosis of our condition, is it strange that the Church is unable to evangelize a class alienated from it by divergent class interests and class morality?


Tainted Wealth

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(See page 298)

Capacious is the Church’s belly;
Whole nations it has swallowed down,
Yet no dyspepsia ‘neath its gown;
The Church alone, in jewels drest,
Your “tainted wealth” can quite digest.

The Collection

By Ernest Howard Crosby

(American writer and social reformer, 1856-1907)

I passed the plate in church.

There was little silver, but the crisp bank-notes heaped themselves up high before me;

And ever as the pile grew, the plate became warmer and warmer until it burned my fingers, and a smell of scorching flesh rose from it, and I perceived that some of the notes were beginning to smoulder and curl, half-browned, at the edges.

And then I saw thru the smoke into the very substance of the money, and I beheld what it really was;

I saw the stolen earnings of the poor, the wide margins of wages pared down to starvation;

I saw the underpaid factory girl eking out her living on the street, and the overworked child, and the suicide of the discharged miner;


I saw poisonous gases from great manufactories spreading disease and death; ...

I saw hideousness extending itself from coal mine and foundry over forest and river and field;

I saw money grabbed from fellow grabbers and swindlers, and underneath them the workman forever spinning it out of his vitals....

I saw all this, and the plate burned my fingers so that I had to hold it first in one hand and then in the other; and I was glad when the parson in his white robes took the smoking pile from me on the chancel steps and, turning about, lifted it up and laid it on the altar.

It was an old-time altar indeed, for it bore a burnt offering of flesh and blood—a sweet savor unto the Moloch whom these people worship with their daily round of human sacrifices.

The shambles are in the temple as of yore, and the tables of the money-changers, waiting to be overturned.

By Émile de Lavelaye

(Belgian economist, 1822-1892)

If Christianity were taught and understood conformably to the spirit of its Founder, the existing social organism could not last a day.


The Voice of the Early Church

By Clement of Alexandria

(Greek Church; 150-215)

I know that God has given us the use of goods, but only as far as is necessary; and He has determined that the use be common. It is absurd and disgraceful for one to live magnificently and luxuriously when so many are hungry.

By Tertullian

(Earliest of the Latin fathers; 155-222)

All is common with us except women. Jesus was our man, God and brother. He restored unto all men what cruel murderers took from them by the sword. Christians have no master and no Christian shall be bound for bread and raiment. The land is no man’s inheritance; none shall possess it as property.

By St. Cyprian

(Latin; 200-258)

No man shall be received into our commune who sayeth that the land may be sold. God’s footstool is not property.

By St. Basil

(Greek Church; 329-379)

Which things, tell me, are yours? Whence have you brought your goods into life? You are like one occupying a place in a theatre, who should prohibit others from enter[397]ing, treating that as his own which was designed for the common use of all. Such are the rich. Because they preoccupy common goods, they take these goods as their own. If each one would take that which is sufficient for his needs, leaving what is superfluous to those in distress, no one would be rich, no one poor.... The rich man is a thief.

By St. Ambrose

(Latin; 340-397)

How far, O rich, do you extend your senseless avarice? Do you intend to be the sole inhabitants of the earth? Why do you drive out the fellow sharers of nature, and claim it all for yourselves? The earth was made for all, rich and poor, in common. Why do you rich claim it as your exclusive right? The soil was given to the rich and poor in common—wherefore, oh, ye rich, do you unjustly claim it for yourselves alone? Nature gave all things in common for the use of all; usurpation created private rights. Property hath no rights. The earth is the Lord’s, and we are his offspring. The pagans hold earth as property. They do blaspheme God.

By St. Jerome

(Latin; 340-420)

All riches come from iniquity, and unless one has lost, another cannot gain. Hence that common opinion seems to me to be very true, “the rich man is unjust, or the heir an unjust one.” Opulence is always the result of theft, if not committed by the actual possessor, then by his predecessor.


By St. John Chrysostom

(Greek Church; 347-407)

Tell me, whence are you rich? From whom have you received? From your grandfather, you say; from your father. Are you able to show, ascending in the order of generation, that that possession is just throughout the whole series of preceding generations? Its beginning and root grew necessarily out of injustice. Why? Because God did not make this man rich and that man poor from the beginning. Nor, when He created the world, did He allot much treasure to one man, and forbid another to seek any. He gave the same earth to be cultivated by all. Since, therefore, His bounty is common, how comes it that you have so many fields, and your neighbor not even a clod of earth?... The idea we should have of the rich and covetous—they are truly as robbers, who, standing in the public highway, despoil the passers.

By St. Augustine

(Latin; 354-430)

The superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor. They who possess superfluities, possess the goods of others.

By St. Gregory the Great

(Latin; 540-604)

They must be admonished who do not seek another’s goods, yet do not give of their own, that they may know that the earth from which they have received is common to all men, and therefore its products are given in common to all. They, therefore, wrongly think they are innocent who[399] claim for themselves the common gift of God. When they do not give what they have received, they assist in the death of neighbors, because daily almost as many of the poor perish as have been deprived of means which the rich have kept to themselves. When we give necessaries to the needy we do not bestow upon them our goods; we return to them their own; we pay a debt of justice rather than fulfil a work of mercy.

The Annexing of Christianity[U]

(From “The Call of the Carpenter”)

By Bouck White

(See page 353)

The annexing process was started by a Roman citizen named Saul. Formerly a Jew, he deserted his nationality and with it his former name, and called himself thereafter Paul. Paul was undeniably sincere. He believed that in reinterpreting the Christian faith so as to make it acceptable to the Romans he was doing that faith a service. His make-up was imperial rather than democratic. Both by birth and training he was unfitted to enter into the working-class consciousness of Galileans. He was in culture a Hellenist, in religion a Pharisee, in citizenship a Roman. From the first strain, Hellenism, he received a bias in the direction of philosophy rather than economics; from the second, his Pharisaism, he received a bias toward aloofness, otherworldliness; and from the third, his Romanism, he received a bias toward political acquiescence and the preservation of the status quo....


Paul planned to make Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. It needed a religion badly. The catalogue of its vices, in the forepart of the Epistle to the Romans, is proof. Paul the Roman citizen saw nothing but excellence in Rome’s world-wide empire. Only, it must be redeemed from its laxity of morals. Therefore he would bring to it the Christ as its cleanser and thereby its perpetuator. It was the test of loyal citizenship among the Romans to seek out in every part of the world that which was most rare and valued, and bring it back to Rome as a gift. Thus her sons went forth and returned laden with richest trophies to lay at her feet. They brought to her pearls from India, gold chariots from Babylon, elephants from interior Africa, high-breasted virgins from the Greek isles, Phidian marbles from Athens. Paul also would be a bringer of gifts to the Rome that had honored him and his fathers with the high honor of citizenship. And the gift he would bring and lay at her feet would be the richest of them all—a religion....

Paul was a stockholder in Rome’s world corporation. And that stock by slow degrees had blinded him to the injustice of a social system in whose dividends he himself shared. This explains in large part why he accepted the political status quo, and preached its acceptance by others. Students of ethics have difficulty in reconciling Aristotle’s defence of human servitude, “slavery is a law of nature which is advantageous and just,” with his insight and logic in other matters. The difficulty resolves itself when it is recalled that Aristotle possessed thirteen slaves, and therefore had exactly thirteen arguments for the righteousness of slavery. Seneca, gifted in other things with fine powers of moral philosophy, saw no monstrousness in Nero that he should rebuke—Seneca[401] was a favorite with Nero, and was using that favoritism to amass an enormous fortune. Paul was too highly educated—using the term in its academic sense—to be at one with the unbookish Galileans, and he was personally too much the gainer from Rome’s empire of privilege to share the insurrectionary spirit of the Son of Mary....

Paul was under the spell of Rome’s material greatness. His heart was secretly enticed by her triumphal arches, her literature, her palaces on the Palatine, her baths, porticos of philosophy, gymnasia, schools of rhetoric, her athletic games in the arena. He thought of her history, her jurisprudence, her military might, the starry names in her roll of glory, her sweep of empire from the Thames to the Tigris, and from the Rhine to the deserts of Africa; and when, to this summary, came the pleasant reflection that he was a part of this world corporation, one of the privileged few to share in its profits, it was not hard for him to find reasons to justify his desertion of that poverty-stricken and fanatically democratic race of Israel off there in unimportant Palestine.

A true Roman, Paul preaches to the proletariat the duty of political passivity. To the Carpenter, with his splendid worldliness, the premier qualification for character was self-respect, and the alertness and mastery of environment which go with self-respect. But to Paul the primate virtue is submissiveness—“the powers that be!” He sought to cure the seditiousness of the working class by drawing off their gaze to a crown of righteousness reserved in heaven for them—a gaseous felicity beyond the stars. Israel, holding fast to the enrichment of the present life, had kept its religion from getting off into fog lands, by seeking “a city that hath foundations.” But Paul sought to hush all these “worldly” aims; he wooed the toiling[402] masses to desire “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He was a true yoke-fellow of Pylades, the Roman play-actor, who, wishing to justify his usefulness to the master class, said to Augustus that “it was for the emperor’s advantage that the people should have their attention fixed on the playhouse rather than on politics.”

Preface to “Major Barbara”

By G. Bernard Shaw

(See pages 193, 212, 263)

Churches are suffered to exist only on condition that they preach submission to the State as at present capitalistically organized. The Church of England itself is compelled to add to the thirty-six articles in which it formulates its religious tenets, three more in which it apologetically protests that the moment any of these articles comes in conflict with the State it is to be entirely renounced, abjured, violated, abrogated and abhorred, the policeman being a much more important person than any of the Persons of the Trinity. And this is why no tolerated Church nor Salvation Army can ever win the entire confidence of the poor. It must be on the side of the police and the military, no matter what it believes or disbelieves; and as the police and the military are the instruments by which the rich rob and oppress the poor (on legal and moral principles made for the purpose), it is not possible to be on the side of the poor and of the police at the same time. Indeed the religious bodies, as the almoners of the rich, become a sort of auxiliary police,[403] taking off the insurrectionary edge of poverty with coals and blankets, bread and treacle, and soothing and cheering the victims with hopes of immense and inexpensive happiness in another world, when the process of working them to premature death in the service of the rich is complete in this.

Prince Hagen

By Upton Sinclair

(Prince Hagen, ruler of the Nibelungs, a race of gold-hoarding gnomes, comes up to visit the land of the earth-men, and study Christian civilization. He finds a number of ideas worth taking back to his underground home)

Prince Hagen paused for a moment and puffed in silence; then suddenly he remarked: “Do you know that it is a very wonderful idea—that immortality? Did you ever think about it?”

“Yes,” I said, “a little.”

“I tell you, the man who got that up was a world-genius. When I saw how it worked, it was something almost too much for me to believe; and still I find myself wondering if it can last. For you know if you can once get a man believing in immortality, there is no more left for you to desire; you can take everything in the world he owns—you can skin him alive if it pleases you—and he will bear it all with perfect good humor. I tell you what, I lie awake at night and dream about the chances of getting the Nibelungs to believe in immortality; I don’t think I can manage it, but it is a stake worth playing for. I say the phrases over to myself—you know them all—‘It is better to give than to receive’—‘Lay not up for your[404]self treasures on earth’—‘Take no heed, saying what shall ye eat!’ As a matter of fact, I fancy the Nibelungs will prove pretty tough at reforming, but it is worth any amount of labor. Suppose I could ever get them to the self-renouncing point! Just fancy the self-renunciation of a man with a seventy-mile tunnel full of gold!”

Prince Hagen’s eyes danced; his face was a study. I watched him wonderingly. “Why do you go to all that bother?” I demanded, suddenly. “If you want the gold, why don’t you simply kill the Nibelungs and take it?”

“I have thought of that,” he replied; “I might easily manage it all with a single revolver. But why should I kill the geese that lay me golden eggs? I want not only the gold they have, but the gold that they will dig through the centuries that are to come; for I know that the resources of Nibelheim, if they could only be properly developed, would be simply infinite. So I have made up my mind to civilize the people and develop their souls.”

“Explain to me just how you expect to get their gold,” I said.

“Just as the capitalist is getting it in New York,” was the response. “At present the Nibelungs hide their wealth; I mean to broaden their minds, and establish a system of credit. I mean to teach them ideals of usefulness and service, to establish the arts and sciences, to introduce machinery and all the modern improvements that tend to increase the centralization of power; I shall be master—just as I am here—because I am the strongest, and because I am not a dupe.”

“I see,” I said; “but all this will take a long time.”

“Yes,” said he, “I know; it is the whole course of history to be lived over again. But there will be no mistakes and no groping in this case, for I know the way,[405] and I am king. It will be a sort of benevolent despotism—the ideal form of government, as I believe.”

“And you are sure there is no chance of your plans failing?”

“Failing!” he laughed. “You should have seen how they have worked so far.”

“You have begun applying them?”

“I have been down to Nibelheim twice since the death of dear grandpa,” said the prince. “The first time, as you imagine, there was tremendous excitement, for all Nibelheim knew what a bad person I had been, and stood in terror of my return. I got them all together and told them the truth—that I had become wise and virtuous, that I meant to respect every man’s property, and that I meant to consecrate my whole endeavor to the developing of the resources of my native land. And then you should have witnessed the scene! They went half wild with rejoicing; they fell down on their knees and thanked me with tears in their eyes: I played the pater patriae in a fashion to take away your breath. And afterwards I went on to explain to them that I had discovered very many wonderful things up on the earth; that I was going to make a law forbidding any of them to go there, because it was so dangerous, but that I myself was going to brave all the perils for their sakes. I told them about a wonderful animal that was called a steam-drill, and that ate fire, and dug out gold with swiftness beyond anything they could imagine. I said that I was going to empty all my royal treasure caves, and take my fortune and some of theirs to the earth to buy a few thousand of these wonderful creatures; and I promised them that I would give them to the Nibelungs to use, and they might have twice as much gold as they would have dug with their hands,[406] provided they would give me the balance. Of course they agreed to it with shouts of delight, and the contracts were signed then and there. They helped me get out all my gold, and I took them down the steam-drills, and showed them how to manage them; so before very long I expect to have quite a snug little income.”

The Prince

By Niccolo Machiavelli

(Italian courtier, author of a famous treatise on statecraft: 1469-1527)

A prince has to have particular care that, to see and to hear him, he appears all goodness, integrity, humanity and religion, which last he ought to pretend to more than ordinarily. For everybody sees, but few understand; everybody sees how you appear, but few know what in reality you are, and those few dare not oppose the opinion of the multitude, who have the majesty of their prince to defend them.

Children of the Dead End[V]

By Patrick MacGill

(See pages 32, 47, 122)

Nearly every second year the potatoes went bad; then we were always hungry, although Farley McKeown, a rich merchant in the neighboring village, let my father have a great many bags of Indian meal on[407] credit. A bag contained sixteen stone of meal and cost a shilling a stone. On the bag of meal Farley McKeown charged sixpence a month interest; and fourpence a month on a sack of flour which cost twelve shillings. All the people round about were very honest, and paid up their debts when they were able. Usually when the young went off to Scotland or England they sent home money to their fathers and mothers, and with this money the parents paid for the meal to Farley McKeown. “What doesn’t go to the landlord goes to Farley McKeown,” was a Glenmornan saying.

The merchant was a great friend of the parish priest, who always told the people if they did not pay their debts they would burn for ever and ever in hell. “The fires of eternity will make you sorry for the debts that you did not pay,” said the priest. “What is eternity?” he would ask in a solemn voice from the altar steps. “If a man tried to count the sands on the sea-shore and took a million years to count every single grain, how long would it take him to count them all? A long time, you’ll say. But that time is nothing to eternity. Just think of it! Burning in hell while a man, taking a million years to count a grain of sand, counts all the sand on the sea-shore. And this because you did not pay Farley McKeown his lawful debts, his lawful debts within the letter of the law.” That concluding phrase, “within the letter of the law,” struck terror into all who listened, and no one, maybe not even the priest himself, knew what it meant.



By Max Eastman

(Editor of “The Masses,” born 1883)

I remember a vesper service at Ravello in Italy. I remember that the exquisite and pathetically resplendent little chapel was filled with ragged and dirty-smelling and sweet, sad-eyed mothers. Some carried in their arms their babies, some carried only a memory in their haggard eyes. They were all poor. They were all sad in that place. They were mothers. Mothers wrinkle-eyed, stooped, worn old, but yet gentle—O, so gentle and eager to believe that it would all be made up to them and their beloved in Heaven! I see their bodies swaying to the chant of meaningless long syllables of Latin magic, I see them worked upon by those dark agencies of candle, and minor chord, and incense, and the unknown tongue, and I see that this little dirt-colored coin clutched so tight in their five fingers is going to be given up, with a kind of desperate haste, ere the climax of these incantations is past. Poor, anguished dupes of the hope of Heaven, poor mothers, pinching your own children’s bellies to fatten the wallets of those fat priests!


Exit Salvatore

By Clement Wood

(American poet, born 1888)

Salvatore’s dead—a gap
Where he worked in the ditch-edge, shovelling mud;
Slanting brow; a head mayhap
Rather small, like a bullet; hot southern blood;
Surly now, now riotous
With the flow of his joy; and his hovel bare,
As his whole life is to us—
A stone in his belly the whole of his share.
Body starved, but the soul secure,
Masses to save it from Purgatory,
And to dwell with the Son and the Virgin pure—
Lucky Salvatore!
Salvatore’s glad, for see
On the hearse and the coffin, purple and black,
Tassels, ribbons, broidery
Fit for the Priest’s or the Pope’s own back;
Flowers costly, waxen, gay,
And the mates from the ditch-edge, pair after pair;
Dirging band, and the Priest to pray,
And the soul of the dead one pleasuring there.
Body starved, and the mind as well.
Peace—let him rot in his costly glory,
Cheated no more with a Heaven or Hell—
Exit Salvatore.


From Micah

Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money.... Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.

The Saint

By Antonio Fogazzaro

(Italian poet and novelist, 1842-1911. A devout Catholic, he endeavored to reform the Church from within. The present novel created a tremendous sensation in Italy, and was placed upon the “Index.” In this scene “the Saint” pleads with the Pope)

“May I continue, Your Holiness?”

The Pope, who while Benedetto had been speaking had kept his eyes fixed on his face, now bowed his head slightly, in answer.

“The third evil spirit which is corrupting the Church does not disguise itself as an angel of light, for it well knows it cannot deceive; it is satisfied with the garb of common, human honesty. This is the spirit of avarice. The Vicar of Christ dwells in this royal palace as he dwelt in his episcopal palace, with the pure heart of poverty. Many venerable pastors dwell in the Church with the same heart, but the spirit of poverty is not preached sufficiently, not preached as Christ preached it. The lips of Christ’s min[411]isters are too often over-complaisant to those who seek riches. There are those among them who bow the head respectfully before the man who has much, simply because he has much; there are those who let their tongues flatter the greedy, and too many preachers of the word and of the example of Christ deem it just for them to revel in the pomp and honors attending on riches, to cleave with their souls to the luxury riches bring. Father, exhort the clergy to show those greedy for gain, be they rich or poor, more of that charity which admonishes, which threatens, which rebukes. Holy Father!—--”

Benedetto ceased speaking. There was an expression of fervent appeal in the gaze fixed upon the Pope.

“Well?” the Pontiff murmured.

Benedetto spread wide his arms, and continued:

“The Spirit urges me to say more. It is not the work of a day, but let us prepare for the day—not leaving this task to the enemies of God and of the Church—let us prepare for the day on which the priests of Christ shall set the example of true poverty; when it shall be their duty to live in poverty, as it is their duty to live in chastity; and let the words of Christ to the Seventy-two serve them as a guide in this. Then the Lord will surround the least of them with such honors, with such reverence as does not to-day exist in the hearts of the people for the princes of the Church. They will be few in number, but they will be the light of the world. Holy Father, are they that to-day? Some among them are, but the majority shed neither light nor darkness.”

At this point the Pontiff for the first time bowed his head in sorrowful acquiescence.


The New Rome

By Robert Buchanan

(See page 367)

A thousand starve, a few are fed,
Legions of robbers rack the poor,
The rich man steals the widow’s bread,
And Lazarus dies at Dives’ door;
The Lawyer and the Priest adjust
The claims of Luxury and Lust
To seize the earth and hold the soil,
To store the grain they never reap;
Under their heels the white slaves toil,
While children wail and women weep!—
The gods are dead, but in their name
Humanity is sold to shame,
While (then as now!) the tinsel’d Priest
Sitteth with robbers at the feast,
Blesses the laden blood-stain’d board,
Weaves garlands round the butcher’s sword,
And poureth freely (now as then)
The sacramental blood of Men!

The Priest and the Devil

By Féodor Dostoyevsky

(The Russian realist, 1821-1881, wrote this little story upon the wall of his Siberian prison)

“Hello, you little fat father!” the devil said to the priest. “What made you lie so to those poor, misled people? What tortures of hell did you depict? Don’t you know they are already suffering the tortures of[413] hell in their earthly lives? Don’t you know that you and the authorities of the State are my representatives on earth? It is you that make them suffer the pains of hell with which you threaten them. Don’t you know this? Well, then, come with me!”

The devil grabbed the priest by the collar, lifted him high in the air, and carried him to a factory, to an iron foundry. He saw the workmen there running and hurrying to and fro, and toiling in the scorching heat. Very soon the thick, heavy air and the heat are too much for the priest. With tears in his eyes, he pleads with the devil: “Let me go! Let me leave this hell!”

“Oh, my dear friend, I must show you many more places.” The devil gets hold of him again and drags him off to a farm. There he sees workmen threshing the grain. The dust and heat are insufferable. The overseer carries a knout, and unmercifully beats anyone who falls to the ground overcome by hard toil or hunger.

Next the priest is taken to the huts where these same workers live with their families—dirty, cold, smoky, ill-smelling holes. The devil grins. He points out the poverty and hardships which are at home here.

“Well, isn’t this enough?” he asks. And it seems as if even he, the devil, pities the people. The pious servant of God can hardly bear it. With uplifted hands he begs: “Let me go away from here. Yes, yes! This is hell on earth!”

“Well, then, you see. And you still promise them another hell. You torment them, torture them to death mentally when they are already all but dead physically. Come on! I will show you one more hell—one more, the very worst.”

He took him to a prison and showed him a dungeon,[414] with its foul air and the many human forms, robbed of all health and energy, lying on the floor, covered with vermin that were devouring their poor, naked, emaciated bodies.

“Take off your silken clothes,” said the devil to the priest, “put on your ankles heavy chains such as these poor unfortunates wear; lie down on the cold and filthy floor—and then talk to them about a hell that still awaits them!”

“No, no!” answered the priest, “I cannot think of anything more dreadful than this. I entreat you, let me go away from here!”

“Yes, this is hell. There can be no worse hell than this. Did you not know it? Did you not know that these men and women whom you are frightening with the picture of a hell hereafter—did you not know that they are in hell right here, before they die?”

Work According to the Bible

(A pamphlet written by T. M. Bondareff, a Siberian peasant and ex-serf, at the age of sixty-seven)

They often arrest thieves in the world; but these culprits are rather rogues than thieves. I have laid hands on the real thief, who has robbed God and the church. He has stolen the primal commandment which belongs to us who till the fields. I will point him out. It is he who does not produce his bread with his own hands, but eats the fruit of others’ toil. Seize him and lead him away to judgment. All crimes such as robberies, murders, frauds and the like arise from the fact that this commandment is hidden from man. The rich do all they can to avoid working with their hands, and the poor to rid them[415]selves of the necessity. The poor man says, “There are people who can live on others’ labor; why should not I?” and he kills, steals and cheats in consequence. Behold now what harm can be done by white hands, more than all that good grimy hands can repair upon the earth! You spread out before the laborer the idleness of your life, and thus take away the force from his hands. Your way of living is for us the most cruel of offences, and a shame withal. You are a hundred-fold more wise and learned than I am, and for that reason you take my bread. But because you are wise you ought rather to have pity on me who am weak. It is said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” I am your neighbor, and you are mine. Why are we coarse and untaught? Because we produce our own bread, and yours too! Have we any time to study and educate ourselves? You have stolen our brains as well as our bread by trickery and violence.

How blind thou art, O wise man; thou that readest the scriptures, and seest not the way in which thou mightest free thyself, and the flock committed to thee, from the burden of sin! Thy blindness is like unto that of Balaam, who, astride his ass, saw not the angel of God armed with a sword of fire standing in the way before him. Thou art Balaam, I am the ass, and thou hast ridden upon my back from childhood!



By Leo Tolstoy

(In this novel the greatest of modern religious teachers has presented his indictment of the government and church of his country. The hero is a Russian prince who in early youth seduces a peasant girl, and in after life meets her, a prostitute on trial for murder. He follows her to Siberia, in an effort to reclaim her. Near the end of his story Tolstoi introduces this scene. The Englishman may be said to represent modern science, which asks questions and accumulates futile statistics; while the old man voices the peculiar Christian Anarchism of the author, who at the age of eighty-two left his home and wandered out into the steppes to die)

In one of the exiles’ wards, Nehlúdof [the prince] recognized the strange old man he had seen crossing the ferry that morning. This tattered and wrinkled old man was sitting on the floor by the beds, barefooted, wearing only a dirty cinder-colored shirt, torn on one shoulder, and similar trousers. He looked severely and inquiringly at the new-comers. His emaciated body, visible through the holes in his dirty shirt, looked miserably weak, but in his face was more concentrated seriousness and animation than even when Nehlúdof saw him crossing the ferry. As in all the other wards, so here also the prisoners jumped up and stood erect when the official entered; but the old man remained sitting. His eyes glittered and his brow frowned wrathfully.

“Get up!” the inspector called out to him.

The old man did not rise, but only smiled contemptuously.

“Thy servants are standing before thee, I am not thy servant. Thou bearest the seal....” said the old man, pointing to the inspector’s forehead.


“Wha—a—t?” said the inspector threateningly, and made a step towards him.

“I know this man,” said Nehlúdof. “What is he imprisoned for?”

“The police have sent him here because he has no passport. We ask them not to send such, but they will do it,” said the inspector, casting an angry side glance at the old man.

“And so it seems thou, too, art one of Antichrist’s army?” said the old man to Nehlúdof.

“No, I am a visitor,” said Nehlúdof.

“What, hast thou come to see how Antichrist tortures men? Here, see. He has locked them up in a cage, a whole army of them. Men should eat bread in the sweat of their brow. But He has locked them up with no work to do, and feeds them like swine, so that they should turn into beasts.”

“What is he saying?” asked the Englishman.

Nehlúdof told him the old man was blaming the inspector for keeping men imprisoned.

“Ask him how he thinks one should treat those who do not keep the laws,” said the Englishman.

Nehlúdof translated the question.

The old man laughed strangely, showing his regular teeth.

“The laws?” he repeated with contempt. “First Antichrist robbed everybody, took all the earth, and all rights away from them—took them all for himself—killed all those who were against him—and then He wrote laws forbidding to rob and to kill. He should have written those laws sooner.”

Nehlúdof translated. The Englishman smiled.

“Well, anyhow, ask him how one should treat thieves and murderers now?”


Nehlúdof again translated the question.

“Tell him he should take the seal of Antichrist off from himself,” the old man said, frowning severely; “then he will know neither thieves nor murderers. Tell him so.”

“He is crazy,” said the Englishman, when Nehlúdof had translated the old man’s words; and shrugging his shoulders he left the cell.

“Do thine own task and leave others alone. Every one for himself. God knows whom to execute, whom to pardon, but we do not know,” said the old man. “Be your own chief, then chiefs will not be wanted. Go, go,” he added, frowning angrily, and looking with glittering eyes at Nehlúdof, who lingered in the ward. “Hast thou not gazed enough on how the servants of Antichrist feed lice on men? Go! Go!”


(From “Challenge”)

By Louis Untermeyer

(See pages 42, 418)

It was Sunday—
Eleven in the morning; people were at church—
Prayers were in the making; God was near at hand—
Down the cramped and narrow streets of quiet Lawrence
Came the tramp of workers marching in their hundreds;
Marching in the morning, marching to the grave-yard,
Where, no longer fiery, underneath the grasses,
Callous and uncaring, lay their friend and sister.
In their hands they carried wreaths and drooping flowers,
Overhead their banners dipped and soared like eagles—
Aye, but eagles bleeding, stained with their own heart’s blood—
Red, but not for glory—red, with wounds and travail,
Red, the buoyant symbol of the blood of all the world.
So they bore their banners, singing toward the grave-yard,
So they marched and chanted, mingling tears and tributes,
So, with flowers, the dying went to deck the dead.
Within the churches people heard
The sound, and much concern was theirs—
God might not hear the Sacred Word—
God might not hear their prayers!
Should such things be allowed these slaves—
To vex the Sabbath peace with Song,
To come with chants, like marching waves,
That proudly swept along.
Suppose God turned to these—and heard!
Suppose He listened unawares—
God might forget the Sacred Word,
God might forget their prayers!
And so (the tragic irony)
The blue-clad Guardians of the Peace
Were sent to sweep them back—to see
The ribald Song should cease;
To scatter those who came and vexed
God with their troubled cries and cares.
Quiet—so God might hear the text;
The sleek and unctuous prayers!
Up the rapt and singing streets of little Lawrence
Came the stolid soldiers; and, behind the bluecoats,
Grinning and invisible, bearing unseen torches,
Rode red hordes of anger, sweeping all before them.
Lust and Evil joined them—Terror rode among them;
Fury fired its pistols; Madness stabbed and yelled.
Through the wild and bleeding streets of shuddering Lawrence,
Raged the heedless panic, hour-long and bitter.
Passion tore and trampled; men once mild and peaceful,
Fought with savage hatred in the name of Law and Order.
And, below the outcry, like the sea beneath the breakers,
Mingling with the anguish, rolled the solemn organ....
Eleven in the morning—people were at church—
Prayers were in the making—God was near at hand—
It was Sunday!

By Isaiah

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord.... Bring no more vain oblations.... When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea when ye make many prayers I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.


To the Preacher

(From “In This Our World”)

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

(See pages 200, 209)

Preach about yesterday, Preacher!
The time so far away:
When the hand of Deity smote and slew,
And the heathen plagued the stiff-necked Jew;
Or when the Man of Sorrow came,
And blessed the people who cursed his name—
Preach about yesterday, Preacher,
Not about today!
Preach about tomorrow, Preacher!
Beyond this world’s decay:
Of the sheepfold Paradise we priced
When we pinned our faith to Jesus Christ;
Of those hot depths that shall receive
The goats who would not so believe—
Preach about tomorrow, Preacher,
Not about today!
Preach about the old sins, Preacher!
And the old virtues, too:
You must not steal nor take man’s life,
You must not covet your neighbor’s wife,
And woman must cling at every cost
To her one virtue, or she is lost—
Preach about the old sins, Preacher!
Not about the new!
Preach about the other man, Preacher!
The man we all can see!
The man of oaths, the man of strife,
The man who drinks and beats his wife,
Who helps his mates to fret and shirk
When all they need is to keep at work—
Preach about the other man, Preacher!
Not about me!

The Reluctant Briber

By Lincoln Steffens

(The president of a powerful public service corporation has become disturbed in conscience, and calls in a student of social conditions)

“You’re unhappy because you are bribing and corrupting, and you ask my advice. Why? I’m no ethical teacher. You’re a churchman. Why don’t you go to your pastor?”

“Pastor!” he exclaimed, and he laughed. The scorn of that laugh! “Pastor!”

He turned and walked away, to get control, no doubt. I kept after him.

“Yes,” I insisted, “you should go to the head of your church for moral counsel, and—for economic advice you should go to the professor of economics in——”

He stopped me, facing about. “Professor!” he echoed, and he didn’t reflect my tone.

I was serious. I wanted to get something from him. I wanted to know why our practical men do not go to these professions for help, as they go to lawyers and[423] engineers. And this man had given time and money to the university in his town and to his church, as I reminded him.

“You support colleges and churches, you and your kind do,” I said. “What for?”

“For women and children,” he snapped from his distance.

By Savonarola

(Italian religious reformer, 1452-1498; hanged and burned by his enemies)

But dost thou know what I would tell thee? In the primitive church, the chalices were of wood, the prelates of gold. In these days the church hath chalices of gold and prelates of wood.

The Preacher

(From “The Canterbury Tales”)

By Geoffrey Chaucer

(Early English poet, 1340-1400)

Than peyne I me to strecche forth my necke,
And est and west upon the people I bekke,
As doth a pigeon, syttyng on a loft;
Myn hondes and my tonge move so oft,
That it is joye to see my busynesse.
Of avarice and of suche cursedness
Is al my preching, for to make hem free
To give their pence, and namely unto me....
Therfor my theem is yit, and ever was,
The root of evils is cupidity.
Thus can I preche agayn the same vice
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
But though myself be gilty in the same,
Yit can I maken other folks to blame.

Twentieth Century Socialism

By Edmond Kelly

(American lawyer and Socialist, 1851-1909)

It seems inconceivable that the same civilization should include two bodies of men living in apparent harmony and yet holding such opposite and inconsistent views of man as economists on the one hand and theologians on the other. To these last, man has no economic needs; this world does not count; it is merely a place of probation, mitigated sometimes, it is true, by ecclesiastical pomp and episcopal palaces; but serving for the most part as a mere preparation for a future existence which will satisfy the aspirations of the human soul—the only thing that does count, in this world or the next. So while to the economist man is all hog, to the theologian he is all soul; and between the two the devil secures the vast majority.


The True Faith

(From “A Lay Sermon to Preachers”)

By Henry Arthur Jones

(English dramatist, born 1851)

I believe—I stand accountant for the words to That which gave me the power of thinking and writing them—I believe that if the time and money and thought now given in England to the propagation of wholly incredible doctrines, which are no sooner uttered in one pulpit than they are repudiated in another—if this time and money and thought were given to the understanding and scattering abroad of the simplest laws of national economy, of physiology, of health and beauty, in another generation our England would be greater and mightier than she has ever been. I believe a knowledge of the necessity of fresh air, of the value of beauty, of the certain disease and national corruption and deathfulness hidden in our present commercial system, to be worth far more than all the books on theology ever written. I believe faith in constant ventilation and constant outdoor exercise to be a greater religious necessity than faith in any doctrine of any sect in England today.


God in the World

(From “Gitanjali”)

By Rabindranath Tagore

(Most popular of Hindoo poets, who recently achieved international fame, and received the Nobel prize)

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!

Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.


(From “Songs for the New Age”)

By James Oppenheim

(See pages 45, 129, 147)

Priests are in bad odor,
And yet there shall be no lack of them.
The skies shall not lack a spokesman,
Nor the spirit of man a voice and a gesture.
Not garbed nor churched,
Yet, as of old, in loneliness and anguish,
They shall come eating and drinking among us,
With scourge, pity, and prayer.


(From “The Book of The People”)

By Robert de Lamennais

(French philosopher and religious reformer, 1782-1854)

Your task is to form the universal family, to build the City of God, and by a continuous labor gradually to translate His work in Humanity into fact.

When you love one another as brothers, and treat each other reciprocally as such; when each one, seeking his own good in the good of all, shall identify his own life with the life of all, his own interests with the interests of all, and shall be always ready to sacrifice himself for all the members of the common family—then most of the ills which weigh upon the human race will vanish, as thick mists gathered upon the horizon vanish at the rising of the sun.



The Voice of the Ages

Records from all the past history of mankind from twenty-five different races; the earliest being about 3500 B. C.


The Suppressions of History

(From “The Ancient Lowly”)

By C. Osborne Ward

(American historian, who was forced to publish at his own expense the results of his life-time researches into the early history of the working class)

The great strikes and uprisings of the working people of the ancient world are almost unknown to the living age. It matters little how accounts of five immense strike-wars, involving destruction of property and mutual slaughter of millions of people, have been suppressed, or have otherwise failed to reach us; the fact remains that people are absolutely ignorant of these great events. A meagre sketch of Spartacus may be seen in the encyclopedias, but it is always ruined and its interest pinched and blighted by being classed with crime, its heroes with criminals, its theme with desecration. Yet Spartacus was one of the great generals of history; fully equal to Hannibal and Napoleon, while his cause was much more just and infinitely nobler, his life a model of the beautiful and virtuous, his death an episode of surpassing grandeur.

Still more strange is it, that the great ten-years’ war of Eunus should be unknown. He marshalled at one time an army of two hundred thousand soldiers. He manœuvered them and fought for ten full years for liberty, defeating army after army of Rome. Why is the world ignorant of this fierce, epochal rebellion? Almost the whole matter is passed over in silence by our histories of Rome. In these pages it will be read as news, yet should a similar war rage in our day, against a similar condition[432] of slavery, its cause would not only be considered just, but the combatants would have the sympathy and support of the civilized world.

The great system of labor organization explained in these pages must likewise be regarded as a chapter of news. The portentous fact has lain in abeyance century after century, with the human family in profound ignorance of an organization of trades and other labor unions so powerful that for hundreds of years they undertook and successfully conducted the business of manufacture, of distribution, of purveying provisions to armies, of feeding the inhabitants of the largest cities in the world, of inventing, supplying and working the huge engines of war, and of collecting customs and taxes—tasks confided to their care by the state.

Our civilization has a blushingly poor excuse for its profound ignorance of these facts; for the evidences have existed from much before the beginning of our era.... They are growing fewer and dimmer as their value rises higher in the estimation of a thinking, appreciative, gradually awakening world.


By Plutarch

(Greek historian, A. D. 50-120; author of numerous biographical sketches. It has been said: He stands before us as the legate, the ambassador, and the orator on behalf of those institutions whereby the old-time men were rendered wise and virtuous)

When the love of gold and silver had once gained admittance into the Lacedæmonian commonwealth, it was quickly followed by avarice and baseness of spirit[433] in the pursuit of it, and by luxury, effeminacy and prodigality in the use. Then Sparta fell from almost all her former virtue and repute....

For the rich men without scruple drew the estate into their own hands, excluding the rightful heirs from their succession; and all the wealth being centered upon the few, the generality were poor and miserable. Honorable pursuits, for which there was no longer leisure, were neglected; the state was filled with sordid business, and with hatred and envy of the rich....

Agis, therefore, believing it a glorious action, as in truth it was, to equalize and repeople the state, began to sound the inclinations of the citizens. He found the young men disposed beyond his expectation; they were eager to enter with him upon the contest in the cause of virtue, and to fling aside, for freedom’s sake, their old manner of life, as readily as the wrestler does his garment. But the old men, habituated and confirmed in their vices, were most of them alarmed. These men could not endure to hear Agis continually deploring the present state of Sparta, and wishing she might be restored to her ancient glory....

Agis, nevertheless, little regarding these rumours, took the first occasion of proposing his measure to the council, the chief articles of which were these: That every one should be free from their debts; all the lands to be divided into equal portions....

The people were transported with admiration of the young man’s generosity, and with joy that, after three hundred years’ interval, at last there had appeared a king worthy of Sparta. But, on the other side, Leonidas was now more than ever averse, being sensible that he and his friends would be obliged to contribute with their[434] riches, and yet all the honour and obligation would redound to Agis. [Sparta had two kings, Leonidas and Agis.]

From this time forward, as the common people followed Agis, so the rich men adhered to Leonidas. They besought him not to forsake their cause; and with persuasions and entreaties so far prevailed with the council of Elders, whose power consisted in preparing all laws before they were proposed to the people, that the designed measure was rejected, though but by one vote.

[Attacked by his enemies, Agis sought refuge in a temple.] Leonidas proceeded also to displace the ephors, and to choose others in their stead; then he began to consider how he might entrap Agis. At first, he endeavored by fair means to persuade him to leave the sanctuary, and partake with him in the kingdom. The people, he said, would easily pardon the errors of a young man, ambitious of glory. But finding Agis was suspicious, and not to be prevailed with to quit his sanctuary, he gave up that design; yet what could not then be effected by the dissimulation of an enemy, was soon after brought to pass by the treachery of friends.

Amphares, Damochares, and Arcesilaus often visited Agis, and he was so confident of their fidelity that after a while he was prevailed on to accompany them to the baths, which were not far distant, they constantly returning to see him safe again in the temple. They were all three his familiars; and Amphares had borrowed a great deal of plate and rich household stuff from the mother of Agis, and hoped if he could destroy her and the whole family, he might peaceably enjoy those goods. And he, it is said, was the readiest of all to serve the purposes of Leonidas, and being one of the ephors, did all he could to incense the rest of his colleagues against Agis. These men,[435] therefore, finding that Agis would not quit his sanctuary, but on occasion would venture from it to go to the bath, resolved to seize him on the opportunity thus given them. And one day as he was returning, they met and saluted him as formerly, conversing pleasantly by the way, and jesting, as youthful friends might, till coming to the turning of the street which led to the prison, Amphares, by virtue of his office, laid his hand on Agis, and told him, “You must go with me, Agis, before the other ephors, to answer for your misdemeanors.” At the same time Damochares, who was a tall, strong man, drew his cloak tight around his neck, and dragged him after by it, whilst the others went behind to thrust him on. So that none of Agis’ friends being near to assist him, nor any one by, they easily got him into the prison, where Leonidas was already arrived, with a company of soldiers, who strongly guarded all the avenues; the ephors also came in, with as many of the Elders as they knew to be true to their party, being desirous to proceed with some semblance of justice. And thus they bade him give an account of his actions. To which Agis, smiling at their dissimulation, answered not a word. Amphares told him it was more seasonable for him to weep, for now the time was come in which he should be punished for his presumption. Another of the ephors, as though he would be more favorable, and offering as it were an excuse, asked him whether he was not forced to what he did by Agesilaus and Lysander. But Agis answered, he had not been constrained by any man, nor had any other intent in what he did but to follow the example of Lycurgus, and to govern conformably to his laws. The same ephor asked him whether now at least he did not repent his rashness. To which the young man answered that though he were to suffer the extremest[436] penalty for it, yet he could never repent of so just and glorious a design. Upon this they passed sentence of death on him, and bade the officers carry him to the Dechas, as it is called, a place in the prison where they strangle malefactors. And when the officers would not venture to lay hands on him, and the very mercenary soldiers declined it, believing it an illegal and a wicked act to lay violent hands on a king, Damochares, threatening and reviling them for it, himself thrust him into the room.

For by this time the news of his being seized had reached many parts of the city, and there was a concourse of people with lights and torches about the prison gates, and in the midst of them the mother and the grandmother of Agis, crying out with a loud voice that their king ought to appear, and to be heard and judged by the people. But this clamour, instead of preventing, hastened his death; his enemies fearing, if the tumult should increase, he might be rescued during the night out of their hands.

Agis, being now at the point to die, perceived one of the officers bitterly bewailing his misfortune. “Weep not, friend,” said he, “for me, who die innocent, by the lawless act of wicked men. My condition is much better than theirs.” As soon as he had spoken these words, not showing the least sign of fear, he offered his neck to the noose.


The Labor Problem in Egypt

(From the Book of Exodus)

(Hebrew, B. C. Fourteenth Century; a record of one of the earliest of labor disputes)

Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should hearken unto his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.... Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, loose the people from their work? get you unto your burdens.... Let heavier work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard lying words.... Ye are idle, ye are idle; therefore ye say, Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.”

And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, when it was said, “Ye shall not minish aught from your bricks, your daily task.”

And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: and they said unto them, “The Lord look upon you and judge; because you have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.”

And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, “Lord, wherefore hast thou evil entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath evil entreated this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”

Then the Lord said unto Moses, “Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.”


The People

By Tommaso Campanella

(Italian philosopher, 1568-1639. Translation by John Addington Symonds)

The people is a beast of muddy brain
That knows not its own strength, and therefore stands
Loaded with wood and stone; the powerless hands
Of a mere child guide it with bit and rein;
One kick would be enough to break the chain,
But the beast fears, and what the child demands
It does; nor its own terror understands,
Confused and stupefied by bugbears vain.
Most wonderful! With its own hand it ties
And gags itself—gives itself death and war
For pence doled out by kings from its own store.
Its own are all things between earth and heaven;
But this it knows not; and if one arise
To tell this truth, it kills him unforgiven.

From Ecclesiastes

(Hebrew, B.C. 200)

Then I returned and saw all oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive; yea, better than them both did I esteem him which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.


Tiberius Gracchus

(Tribune of the Roman People)

By Plutarch

(Greek, A.D. 50-120)

Tiberius, maintaining an honorable and just cause, and possessed of eloquence sufficient to have made a less creditable action appear plausible, was no safe or easy antagonist, when, with the people crowding around the hustings, he took his place and spoke in behalf of the poor. “The savage beasts,” said he, “in Italy, have their particular dens, they have their places of repose and refuge; but the men who bear arms, and expose their lives for the safety of their country, enjoy in the meantime nothing in it but the air and light; and, having no houses or settlements of their own, are constrained to wander from place to place with their wives and children.” He told them that the commanders were guilty of a ridiculous error, when, at the head of their armies, they exhorted the common soldiers to fight for their sepulchers and altars; when not any amongst so many Romans is possessed of either altar or monument, neither have they any houses of their own, or hearths of their ancestors to defend. They fought indeed and were slain, but it was to maintain the luxury and the wealth of other men. They were styled the masters of the world, but had not one foot of ground they could call their own.


Captive Good Attending Captain Ill

By Euripides

(Athenian tragic poet, B.C. 480-406; the most modern of ancient writers. Translation by John Addington Symonds)

Doth some one say that there be gods above?
There are not; no, there are not. Let no fool,
Led by the old false fable, thus deceive you.
Look at the facts themselves, yielding my words
No undue credence; for I say that kings
Kill, rob, break oaths, lay cities waste by fraud,
And doing thus are happier than those
Who live calm pious lives day after day.
How many little states that serve the gods
Are subject to the godless but more strong,
Made slaves by might of a superior army!


By Alcaeus

(Greek lyric poet, B.C. 611-580; banished for his resistance to tyrants. Translation by Sir William Jones)

The worst of ills, and hardest to endure,
Past hope, past cure,
Is Penury, who, with her sister-mate
Disorder, soon brings down the loftiest state,
And makes it desolate.
This truth the sage of Sparta told,
Aristodemus old,—
”Wealth makes the man.“ On him that’s poor
Proud Worth looks down, and Honor shuts the door.


The Beggar’s Complaint

(Ancient Japanese classic)

The heaven and earth they call so great,
For me are very small;
The sun and moon they call so bright,
For me ne’er shine at all.
Are all men sad, or only I?
And what have I obtained—
What good the gift of mortal life,
That prize so rarely gained—
If nought my chilly back protects
But one thin grass-cloth coat,
In tatters hanging like the weeds
That on the billows float?
If here in smoke-stained, darksome hut,
Upon the bare cold ground,
I make my wretched bed of straw,
And hear the mournful sound—
Hear how mine aged parents groan,
And wife and children cry,
Father and mother, children, wife,
Huddling in misery—
If in the rice-pan, nigh forgot,
The spider hangs its nest,
And from the hearth no smoke goes up
Where all is so unblest?
Shame and despair are mine from day to day,
But, being no bird, I cannot fly away.


Free Labor

By Haggai

(Hebrew prophet, B.C. 515)

He that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.


By Aristophanes

(Greek comedy writer and satirist; B.C. 450-380. There is probably not a Socialist in the world who has not been asked the question: “Who will do the dirty work?” It is interesting to see this difficulty set forth in a comedy which was staged in Athens in the year 408 B.C. Chremylus and Blepsidemus, two citizens, have taken in charge Plutus, the god of wealth, who is blind. They have undertaken to cure him of his blindness; but an old hag by the name of Poverty appears, and offers to convince them that their success would mean a calamity to the human race)

Chremylus:—As matters now stand (who will dare contradict it?) the life of us men is compos’d
Of a system where folly, absurdity, madness, ay, raving downright is disclosed;
Since, how many a knave we see revel in wealth—the rich heap of his ill-gotten store—
And how many a good man, by fortune unblest, with thee begging bread at the door! (Turns to Poverty.)
I say, then, there is but one thing to be done, and if we succeed, what a prize
Will we bring to mankind! That thing it will be—to give Plutus the use of his eyes.
Poverty:—A pest on your prate, and palavering stuff! back! begone with ye, blockheads, to school!
You pair of old dotards, you drivelling comrades in trifling and playing the fool!
If the plan ye propose be accomplish’d at last nothing worse could mankind e’er befall,
Than that Plutus should have the full use of his eyes, and bestow himself equal on all!
See you not, that at once, to all arts there would be, to each craft that you reckon, an end?
If these were exploded (so much to your joy), say who then should there be, who would lend
To the forge, to the hammer, the adze or the loom—to the rule or the mallet—his hand?
Not a soul! The mechanic, the carpenter, shipwright—would all be expelled from the land.
Where would tailor, or cobbler, or dyer of leather, or bricklay’r, or tanner be found?
Who would e’er condescend in this golden vacation, to till, for his bread’s sake, the ground?
Blepsidemus:—Hold, hold, jade! Whatever essentials of life in your catalogue’s column you string,
Our servants, of course, shall provide us.
Poverty:—Your servants? and whence do you think they shall spring?
Blepsidemus:—We shall buy them with cash—
Poverty:—But with cash all the world as well as yourself is supplied!
Who will care about selling?
Blepsidemus:—Some dealer, no doubt, coming down from the Thessaly side,
(A rare kidnapping nest) who may wish to secure a good bargain to profit the trade.
Poverty (impatiently):—You will not understand! In the lots of mankind when this grand revolution is made
‘Twill at once put an end to all wants—and of course then, the kidnapper’s business will cease:
For who will court danger, and hazard his life, when, grown rich, he may live at his ease?
Thus each for himself will be forced to turn plowman, to dig and to delve and to sweat;
Wearing out an existence more grievous by far than he ever experienced yet.
Chremylus:—Curses on you!
Poverty:—You’ll not have a bed to lie down on—no goods of the sort will be seen!
Not a carpet to tread on—for who, pray, will weave one, when well stock’d his coffers have been?
Farewell to your essences, perfumes, pastilles! When you lead to the altar your bride
Farewell to your roseate veil’s drooping folds, the bright hues of its glittering pride!
Yet forsooth “to be rich”—say what is it, without all these gew-gaws to swell the detail?
Now with me, every item that wish can suggest springs abundant and never can fail;
For who, but myself, urges on to his toil, like a mistress, and drives the mechanic?
If he flags, I but show him my face at the door, and he hies to his work in a panic!
Chremylus:—Pshaw! What good can you bring but sores, blisters and blains, on the wretch as he shivering goes
From the baths’ genial clime driv’n forth to the cold, at the certain expense of his toes?
What, but poor little urchins, whose stomachs are craving, and little old beldames in shoals;
And lice by the thousand, mosquitoes and flies? (I can’t count you the cloud as it rolls!)
Which keep humming and buzzing about one, a language denying the respite of sleep,
In a strain thus consoling—“Poor starveling, awake, tho to hunger!”—yet up you must leap!
Add to this, that you treat us with rags to our backs and a bundle of straw for a bed
(Woe betide the poor wretch on whose carcass the bugs of that ravenous pallet have fed!)
For a carpet, a rotten old mat—for a pillow, a great stone picked out of the street—
And for porridge, or bread, a mere leaf of radish, or stem of a mallow, to eat.
The head that remains of some wreck of a pitcher, by way of a seat you provide;
For the trough we make use of in kneading, we’re driven to shift with a wine barrel’s side,—
And this, too, all broken and split:—in a word, your magnificent gifts to conclude,
(Ironically) To mankind you indeed are a blessed dispenser of mighty and manifold good!...
On my word, dame, your fav’rites are happily off, after striving and toiling to save,
If at last they are able to levy enough to procure them a cheque to the grave!


The Lawyer and the Farmer

(Egyptian; B.C. 1400, or earlier. A letter from a father to his son, exhorting him to stick to the study of his profession)

It is told to me that thou hast cast aside learning, and givest thyself to dancing; thou turnest thy face to the work in the fields, and castest the divine words behind thee.

Behold, thou rememberest not the condition of the fellah (farmer) when the harvest is taken over. The worms carry off half the corn, and the hippopotamus devours the rest; mice abound in the fields, and locusts arrive; the cattle devour, the sparrows steal. How miserable is the lot of the fellah! What remains on the threshing-floor, robbers finish it up. The bronze ... are worn out, the horses die with threshing and plowing. Then the scribe (lawyer) moors at the bank, who is to take over the harvest for the government; the attendants bear staves, the negroes carry palm sticks. They say, “Give corn!” But there is none. They beat the fellah prostrate; they bind him and cast him into the canal, throwing him headlong. His wife is bound before him, his children are swung off; his neighbors let them go, and flee to look after their corn.

But the scribe is the leader of labor for all; he reckons to himself the produce in winter, and there is none that appoints him his tale of produce. Behold, now thou knowest!


Farmer and Lawyer Again

(From “The Vision of Piers Plowman”)

By William Langland

(One of the earliest of English social protests, a picture of the misery of the workers of the fourteenth century)

Some were for ploughing, and played full seldom,
Set their seed and sowed their seed and sweated hard,
To win what wastrels with gluttony destroy....
There wandered a hundred in hoods of silk,
Serjeants they seemed, and served at the Bar,
Pleading the Law for pennies and for pounds,
Unlocking their lips never for love of our Lord.
Thou mightest better mete the mist on Malvern hills
Than get a mutter from their mouths—save thou show thy money!

The Agitator

By Isaiah

(Hebrew prophet, B.C. 740)

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake will I not rest,
Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness,
And the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
Upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, have I set watchmen,
Who shall never hold their peace, day and night.
Go through, go through the gates;
Prepare ye the way of the people!
Lift up a standard to the peoples!


The Muckraker in Persia

By Nizami

(Persian poet, A.D. 1200)

There was a king who oppressed his subjects. An informer came to him, and said, “A certain old man has in private called thee a tyrant, a disturber, and bloodthirsty.” The king, enraged, said, “Even now I put him to death.” While the king made preparations for the execution, a youth ran to the old man, and said, “The king is ill-disposed to thee; hasten to assuage his wrath.” The sage performed his ablutions, took his shroud, and went to the king. The tyrant, seeing him, clapped his hands together, and with eye hungry for revenge, cried, “I hear thou hast given loose to thy speech; thou hast called me revengeful, an oppressive demon.” The sage replied, “I have said worse of thee than what thou repeatest. Old and young are in peril from thy action; town and village are injured by thy ministry. Apply thy understanding, and see if it be true; if it be not, slay me on a gibbet. I am holding a mirror before thee; when it shows thy blemishes truly, it is a folly to break the mirror. Break thyself!”

The king saw the rectitude of the sage, and his own crookedness. He said, “Remove his burial spices, and his shroud; bring to him sweet perfumes, and the robe of honor.” He became a just prince, cherishing his subjects. Bring forward thy rough truth; truth from thee is victory; it shall shine as a pearl.


The System

By Jeremiah

(Hebrew prophet, B.C. 630)

For among my people are found wicked men; they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit; therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine; yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked; they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord; shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Grafters in Athens

(From “The Frogs”)

By Aristophanes

(Greek comedy, produced B.C. 405)

Keep silence—keep peace—and let all the profane
From our holy solemnity duly refrain;
Whose souls unenlightened by taste, are obscure;
Whose poetical notions are dark and impure;
Whose theatrical conscience
Is sullied by nonsense;
Who never were train’d by the mighty Cratinus
In mystical orgies poetic and vinous;
Who delight in buffooning and jests out of season;
Who promote the designs of oppression and treason;
Who foster sedition, and strife, and debate;
All traitors, in short, to the stage and the state;
Who surrender a fort, or in private, export
To places and harbors of hostile resort,
Clandestine consignments of cables and pitch;
In the way the Thorycion grew to be rich
From a scoundrelly dirty collector of tribute!
All such we reject and severely prohibit:
All statesmen retrenching the fees and the salaries
Of theatrical bards, in revenge for the railleries,
And jests, and lampoons, of this holy solemnity,
Profanely pursuing their personal enmity,
For having been flouted, and scoff’d, and scorn’d,
All such are admonish’d and heartily warn’d!
We warn them once,
We warn them twice,
We warn and admonish—we warn them thrice,
To conform to the law,
To retire and withdraw—
While the Chorus again with the formal saw
(Fixt and assign’d to the festive day)
Move to the measure and march away!


Pure Food Agitation

By Martin Luther

(German religious reformer, 1483-1564)

They have learned the trick of placing such commodities as pepper, ginger, saffron, in damp vaults or cellars in order to increase the weight.... Nor is there a single article of trade whatever out of which they cannot make unfair profit by false measuring, counting or weighing. They produce artificial colors, or they put the pretty things at the top and bottom and the ugly ones in the middle; and indeed there is no end to their trickery, and no one tradesman will trust another, for they know each other’s ways.

Wall Street

By Habakkuk

(Hebrew prophet. B.C. 600)

They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag; therefore they sacrifice unto their nets, and burn incense unto their drags; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.

By Martial

(Latin poet, A.D. 43-104)

If you are a poor man now, Aemilianus, a poor man you will always be. Nowadays, riches are bestowed on no one but the rich.


By Cato, the Censor

(Latin, B.C. 234-149)

Small thieves lie in towers fastened to wooden blocks; big ones strut about in gold and silver.


(From the Book of Job)

(Hebrew, B.C. Fourth Century)

Thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man, he dwelt in it. Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.

The Leading Citizen

By Horace

(Latin poet, B.C. 65-8. Translation by John Milton)

Whom do we count a good man? Whom but he
Who keeps the laws and statutes of the senate,
Who judges in great suits and controversies,
Whose witness and opinion wins the cause?
But his own house, and the whole neighborhood,
Sees his foul inside through his whited skin.


Hong’s Experiences in Hades

By Im Bang

(Korean poet, 1640-1722)

The next hell had inscribed on it, “Deceivers.” I saw in it many scores of people, with ogres that cut the flesh from their bodies, and fed it to starving demons. These ate and ate, and the flesh was cut and cut till only the bones remained. When the winds of hell blew, then flesh returned to them; then metal snakes and copper dogs crowded in to bite them and suck their blood. Their screams of pain made the earth to tremble. The guides said to me, “When these offenders were on earth they held high office, and while they pretended to be true and good they received bribes in secret and were doers of all evil. As Ministers of State they ate the fat of the land and sucked the blood of the people, and yet advertised themselves as benefactors and were highly applauded. While in reality they lived as thieves, they pretended to be holy, as Confucius and Mencius were holy. They were deceivers of the world, and robbers, and so are punished thus.”


By Martin Luther

(A picture of the conditions which brought on the Peasants’ War in Germany, 1525)

Before all, if the princes and lords wish to fulfill the duties of their office they must prohibit and banish the vicious system of monopolies, which is altogether unendurable in town or country. As for the trading companies,[454] they are thoroughly corrupt and made up of great injustices. They have every sort of commodity in their own power and they do with them just as they please, raise or lower the prices at their own convenience and crush and ruin all the small shop people—just as the pike does with the small fish in the water—as if they were lords over God’s creatures and exempt from all laws of authority and religion.... How can it be godly and just that in so short a time a man should grow so rich that he can outbid kings and emperors? They have brought things to such a pass that all the rest of the world must carry on business with risk and damage, gaining today, losing tomorrow, while they continually grow richer and richer, and make up for their losses by higher profits; so it is no wonder that they are appropriating to themselves the riches of the whole world.

Intemperate Speech

(From the Epistle of James)

(A.D. 100 to 120)

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasures together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have[455] lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just: and he doth not resist you. Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.


By Marcus Aurelius

(Roman emperor and philosopher, A.D. 121-180)

And these your professed politicians, the only true practical philosophers of the world (as they think themselves) so full of affected gravity, or such professed lovers of virtue and honesty, what wretches be they in very deed; how vile and contemptible in themselves! O man, what ado dost thou make!

Murder by Statute

(From “The Sayings of Mencius”)

(Chinese classic, B.C. 300)

King Hwuy of Leang said, “I wish quietly to receive your instructions.” Mencius replied, ”Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick, and with a sword?“ ”There is not,“ was the answer.


Mencius continued, “Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and with government measures?” “There is not,” was the answer again.

Mencius then said, “In your stalls there are fat beasts; in your stables there are fat horses. But your people have the look of hunger, and in the fields are those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men. Beasts devour one another, and men hate them for doing so. When he who is called the parent of the people conducts his government so as to be chargeable with leading on beasts to devour men, where is that parental relation to the people?”

Rebuking a Tyrant

By Sadi

(Persian poet, A.D. 1200)

In a certain year I was sitting retired in the great mosque at Damascus, at the head of the tomb of Yahiya the prophet (on whom be peace!). One of the kings of Arabia, who was notorious for his injustice, happened to come on a pilgrimage, and having performed his devotions, he uttered the following words: “The poor and the rich are servants of this earth, and those who are richest have the greatest wants.” He then looked towards me, and said, “Because dervishes are strenuous and sincere in their commerce with heaven, unite your prayers with mine, for I am in dread of a powerful enemy.”

I replied, “Show mercy to the weak peasant, that you may not experience difficulty from a strong enemy. It is criminal to crush the poor and defenceless subjects[457] with the arm of power. He liveth in dread who befriendeth not the poor; for should his foot slip, no one layeth hold of his hand. Whosoever soweth bad seed, and looketh for good fruit, tortureth his imagination in vain, making a false judgment of things. Take the cotton out of thine ear, and distribute justice to mankind; for if thou refusest justice, there will be a day of retribution.

“The children of Adam are limbs of one another, and are all produced from the same substance; when the world gives pain to one member, the others also suffer uneasiness. Thou who art indifferent to the sufferings of others deservest not to be called a man.”



ISIDORE KONTI (American sculptor, born 1862; group from the Buffalo Exposition)



Courage, Your Majesty, only one step more

(Example of Russian cartooning, published at the height of the Revolution of 1905)

The Eloquent Peasant

(Egyptian, B.C. 2000 or earlier)

An interesting primitive protest against injustice is the story of the Eloquent Peasant, which was one of the most popular of ancient Egyptian tales, and is found in scores of different papyri. The story narrates how a peasant named Rensi was robbed of his asses by the henchmen of a certain grand steward. In spite of all threats the peasant persisted in appealing against the robber to the grand steward himself. The scene is described in “Social Forces and Religion in Ancient Egypt,” by James Henry Breasted, as follows:

“It is a tableau which epitomizes ages of social history in the East: on the one hand, the brilliant group of the great man’s sleek and subservient suite, the universal type of the official class; and, on the other, the friendless and forlorn figure of the despoiled peasant, the pathetic personification of the cry for social justice. This scene[458] is one of the earliest examples of that Oriental skill in setting forth abstract principles, so wonderfully illustrated later in the parables of Jesus. Seeing that the grand steward makes no reply, the peasant makes another effort to save his family and himself from the starvation which threatens them. He steps forward and with amazing eloquence addresses the great man in whose hands his case now rests, promising him a fair voyage as he embarks on the canal, and voicing the fame of the grand steward’s benevolence, on which he had reckoned. ‘For thou art the father of the orphan, the husband of the widow, the brother of the forsaken, the kilt of the motherless. Let me put thy name in this land above every good law, O leader free from avarice, great man free from littleness, who destroys falsehood and brings about truth. Respond to the cry which my mouth utters; when I speak, hear thou. Do justice, thou who art praised, whom the praised praise. Relieve my misery. Behold me, I am heavy laden; prove me, lo I am in sorrow.’”

To follow the account of the incident in other records, the grand steward is so much pleased with the peasant’s eloquence that he goes to the king and tells him about it. “My Lord, I have found one of these peasants, excellent of speech, in very truth; stolen are his goods, and he has come to complain to me of the matter.”

His majesty says, “As thou wishest that I may see health, lengthen out his complaint, without reply to any of his speeches! He who desireth him to continue speaking should be silent; behold, bring us his words in writing that we may listen to them.”

So he keeps the peasant pleading for many days. The story quotes nine separate speeches, of constantly increas[459]ing bitterness and pathos. The peasant is beaten by the servants of the grand steward, but still he comes. “Thou art appointed to hear causes, to judge two litigants, to ward off the robber. But thou makest common cause with the thief.... Thou art instructed, thou art educated, thou art taught—but not for robbery. Thou art accustomed to do like all men, and thy kin are likewise ensnared. Thou the rectitude of all men, art the chief transgressor of the whole land. The gardener of evil waters his domain with iniquity that his domain may bring forth falsehood, in order to flood the estate with wickedness.”

In spite of his eloquence, the grand steward remains unmoved. The peasant appeals to the gods of Justice; and in the ninth address he threatens to make his plea to the god Anubis, who is the god of the dead—meaning thereby that he will commit suicide. None of the extant papyri informs us as to the outcome of the whole proceedings.

Prayers Without Answer

(From The Iliad)

By Homer

(Greek epic poet, B.C. 700?)

Prayers are Jove’s daughters of celestial race,
Lame are their feet, and wrinkled is their face;
With homely mien and with dejected eyes,
Constant they follow where injustice flies.
Injustice, suave, erect, and unconfined,
Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o’er mankind—
While prayers to heal her wrongs move slow behind.


The Suffering of Women

By Herbert Spencer

(English philosopher, 1820-1903)

In the history of humanity as written, the saddest part concerns the treatment of women; and had we before us its unwritten history we should find this part still sadder. I say the saddest part because there have been many things more conspicuously dreadful—cannibalism, the torturing of prisoners, the sacrifice of victims to ghosts and gods—these have been but occasionally; whereas the brutal treatment of woman has been universal and constant. If looking first at their state of subjection among the semi-civilized we pass to the uncivilized, and observe the lives of hardship borne by nearly all of them; if we then think what must have gone on among those still ruder peoples who, for so many thousands of years roamed over the uncultivated earth; we shall infer that the amount of suffering which has been and is borne by women is utterly beyond imagination.

Divorce in Ancient Babylon

(From the Code of Hammurabi)

(B.C. 2250)

Anu and Baal called me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshipper of the gods, to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, to enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people.[461] Hammurabi, the governor named by Baal am I, who brought about plenty and abundance.

§ 142: If a woman shall hate her husband and say: “Thou shalt not have me,” they shall inquire into her antecedents for her defects.... If she have not been a careful mistress, have gadded about, have neglected her house and have belittled her husband, they shall throw that woman into the water.

The Parable of the Hungry Dog

(From the Gospel of Buddha)

(Hindu Bible, B.C. 600)

There was a wicked tyrant; and the god Indra, assuming the shape of a hunter, came down upon earth with the demon Matali, the latter appearing as a dog of enormous size. Hunter and dog entered the palace, and the dog howled so woefully that the royal buildings shook with the sound to their very foundations. The tyrant had the awe-inspiring hunter brought before his throne and inquired after the cause of the terrible bark. The hunter said, “The dog is hungry,” whereupon the frightened king ordered food for him. All the food prepared at the royal banquet disappeared rapidly in the dog’s jaws, and still he howled with portentous significance. More food was sent for, and all the royal store-houses were emptied, but in vain. Then the tyrant grew desperate and asked: “Will nothing satisfy the cravings of that woeful beast?” “Nothing,” replied the hunter, “nothing except perhaps the flesh of all his enemies.” “And who are his enemies?” anxiously asked the tyrant. The hunter replied: “The dog will howl as long as there[462] are people hungry in the kingdom, and his enemies are those that practice injustice and oppress the poor.” The oppressor of the people, remembering his evil deeds, was seized with remorse, and for the first time in his life he began to listen to the teachings of righteousness.

The Nature of Kings

(From the First Book of Samuel)

(Hebrew, B.C. Eleventh Century)

And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said: “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”


King Yu’s Misgovernment

(From the She-ching)

(Chinese classic, B.C. 1000)

A fish in some translucent lake
Must ever live to fear a prey
He cannot hide himself away
From those who come the fish to take.
I, too, may not escape the eyes
Of those who cause these miseries;
My sorrowing heart must grieve to know
My country’s deep distress and woe.


(From the Edda)

(Scandinavian legends of great antiquity, collected, A.D. 1100, by Saemund)

King Frothi called his slaves renowned for strength, Fenia and Menia, and bade them grind for gold. The maidens ground through many years, they ground endless treasures; but at last they grew weary. Then Frothi said, “Grind on! Rest ye not, sleep ye not, longer than the cuckoo is silent, or a verse can be sung.” The weary slaves ground on, till lo! from the mighty mill is poured forth an army of men. Now lies Frothi slain amid his gold. Now is Frothi’s peace forever ended.


The Power of Justice

By Manu

(Hindu poet, B.C. 1200)

Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it.

He grows rich for a while through unrighteousness; then he beholds good things; then it is that he vanquishes his foes; but he perishes at length from his whole root upwards.

Justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated. Beware, O judge! lest justice, being overturned, overturn both us and thyself.


By Isaiah

(Hebrew prophet, B.C. 740)

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.


Concerning Wealth


(Greek poet, B.C. 650)

Who, or by open force, or secret stealth,
Or perjured wiles, amasses wealth,
(Such many are, whom thirst of gain betrays)
The gods, all seeing, shall o’ercloud his days;
His wife, his children, and his friends shall die,
And, like a dream, his ill-got riches fly.

(From the Instructions of Ptah-Hotep)

(Egyptian, B.C. 3550; the oldest book in the world)

If thou be great, after being of no account, and hast gotten riches after squalor, being foremost in these in the city, and hast knowledge concerning useful matters, so that promotion is come unto thee; then swathe not thine heart in thine hoard, for thou art become a steward of the endowment of the God. Thou art not the last, others shall be thine equal, and to them shall come what has come to thee.

(From the Icelandic, Eleventh Century)

I saw the well-filled barns
Of the child of wealth;
Now leans he on the staff of the beggar.
Thus are riches,
As the glance of an eye,
They are an inconstant friend.


By Virgil

(Latin epic poet, B.C. 70-19)

Curst greed of gold, what crimes thy tyrant power has caused!

(From the “Antigone” of Sophocles)

(Greek tragic poet, B.C. 440)

No such ill device
Ever appeared, as money to mankind:
This is it that sacks cities, this routs out
Men from their homes, and trains and turns astray
The minds of honest mortals, setting them
Upon base actions; this revealed to men
Habits of all misdoing, and cognizance
Of every work of wickedness.

(From the Book of Good Counsels)

(Sanscrit, B.C. 300)

Wealth is friends, home, father, brother, title to respect, and fame;
Yea, and wealth is held for wisdom—that it should be so is shame.

(From the “Medea” of Euripides)

(Greek tragic poet, B.C. 431)

Speak not so hastily: the gods themselves
By gifts are swayed, as fame relates; and gold
Hath a far greater influence o’er the souls
Of mortals than the most persuasive words.


(From “The Convivio” of Dante Alighieri)

(Italian epic poet, 1265-1321)

I affirm that gain is precisely that which comes oftener to the bad than to the good; for illegitimate gains never come to the good at all, because they reject them. And lawful gains rarely come to the good, because, since much anxious care is needful thereto, and the anxious care of the good man is directed to weightier matters, rarely does the good man give sufficient attention thereto. Wherefore it is clear that in every way the advent of these riches is iniquitous....

Let us give heed to the life of them who chase riches, and see in what security they live when they have gathered of them, how content they are, how reposeful! And what else, day by day, imperils and slays cities, countries and single persons so much as the new amassing of wealth by anyone? Which amassing reveals new longings, the goal of which may not be reached without wrong to someone....

Wherefore the baseness of riches is manifest enough by reason of all their characteristics, and so a man of right appetite and of true knowledge never loves them; and not loving them does not unite himself to them, but ever wishes them to be far removed from him, save as they be ordained to some necessary service....


The Perfect City

(From “The Republic” of Plato)

(Greek philosopher, B.C. 429-347)

We have, it seems, discovered other things, which our guardians must by all means watch against, that they may nowise escape their notice and steal into the city.

What kinds of things are these?

Riches, said I, and poverty.

Concerning Independence

By Lucretius

(Latin poet, B.C. 95-52)

But if men would live up to reason’s rules,
They would not bow and scrape to wealthy fools.

(From The Hitopadesa)

(Hindu religious work, B.C. 250)

It is better to abandon life than flatter the base. Impoverishment is better than luxury through another’s wealth. Not to attend at the door of the wealthy, and not to use the voice of petition, these imply the best life of a man.


By Xenophon

(Greek historian, B.C. Fourth Century)

If you perfume a slave and a freeman, the difference of their birth produces none in the smell; and the scent is perceived as soon in the one as the other; but the odor of honorable toil, as it is acquired with great pains and application, is ever sweet and worthy of a brave man.

By Dante Alighieri

(Italian epic poet, 1265-1321)

What! You say a horse is noble because it is good in itself, and the same you say of a falcon or a pearl; but a man shall be called noble because his ancestors were so? Not with words, but with knives must one answer such a beastly notion.

By Omar Khayyam

(Persian poet, Eleventh Century)

In this world he who possesses a morsel of bread, and some nest in which to shelter himself, who is master or slave of no man, tell that man to live content; he possesses a very sweet existence.


Oh! Freedom

(Negro Slave Song)

Oh! Freedom, oh! Freedom,
Oh! Freedom, over me;
And before I’ll be a slave
I’ll be buried in my grave,
And go home to my God
And be free.


By John Barbour

(English poet, Fourteenth Century)

A! fredome is a nobill thing!
Fredome mayse man to haiff liking!
Fredome all solace to man giffis:
He levys at ese that frely levys;
A noble hart may haiff nane ease,
Na ellys nocht that may him plese,
Gyff fredome failythe: for fre liking
Is yearnyt ow’r all othir thing
Na he, that ay hase levyt fre,
May nocht knaw weill the propyrte,
The angry, na the wretchyt dome,
That is cowplyt to foule thyrldome.
Bot gyff he had assayit it,
Than all perquer he suld it wyt;
And suld think fredome mar to pryse
Than all the gold in warld that is.


A Home of Righteousness

(Ancient Greek Inscription)

Piety has raised this house from the first foundation even to the lofty roof; for Macedonius fashioned not his wealth by heaping up from the possessions of others with plundering sword, nor has any poor man here wept over his vain and profitless toil, being robbed of just hire; and as rest from labor is kept inviolate by the just man, so let the works of pious mortals endure.


(From the Book of Enoch)

(Hebrew work of the Second Century, B.C., preserved only in the Ethiopic tongue)

Woe unto you who despise the humble dwelling and inheritance of your fathers! Woe unto you who build your palaces with the sweat of others! Each stone, each brick of which it is built, is a sin!

Pride in Poverty

By Confucius

(Chinese philosopher, B. C. 500)

Riches and honor are what men desire; but if they attain to them by improper ways, they should not continue to hold them. Poverty and low estate are what men dislike; but if they are brought to such condition by improper ways, they should not feel shame for it.


Millionaires in Rome

By Cicero

(Latin statesman and orator, B. C. 106-43)

As to their money, and their splendid mansions, and their wealth, and their lordship, and the delights by which they are chiefly attracted, never in truth have I ranked them amongst things good or desirable; inasmuch as I saw for a certainty that in the abundance of these things men longed most for the very things wherein they abounded. For never is the thirst of cupidity filled nor sated. And not only are they tortured by the longing to increase their possessions, but they are also tortured by fear of losing them.

The Ruling Classes

By Ezekiel

(Hebrew prophet, B. C. 600)

The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled[473] them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd.... My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill; yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; as I live, saith the Lord God, ... Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand.... I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down.... And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.

Ladies of Fashion

By Isaiah

(Hebrew prophet, B.C. 740)

The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of Hosts. Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet; therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the[474] bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. And it shall come to pass that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Concerning Justice

(Ancient Hindu Proverb)

Justice is so dear to the heart of Nature, that if in the last day one atom of injustice were found, the universe would shrivel like a snake-skin to cast it off forever.

By Marcus Aurelius

(Roman emperor, A.D. 121-180)

In the whole constitution of man, I see not any virtue contrary to justice, whereby it may be resisted and opposed.


By Sadi

(Persian poet, A.D. 1200)

Take heed that he weep not; for the throne of the Almighty is shaken to and fro when the orphan sets a-crying. Beware of the groans of the wounded souls, since the hidden sore will at length break out; oppress not to the utmost a single heart, for a single sigh has power to overset a whole world.

(From “The Koran”)

(Bible of Mohammedanism; Arabic, A.D. 600)

Justice is an unassailable fortress, built on the brow of a mountain which cannot be overthrown by the violence of torrents, nor demolished by the force of armies.

“Do you desire,” said Abdallah, “to bring the praise of mankind upon your action? Then desire not unjustly, or even by your right, to grasp that which belongs to another.”

(Arabian proverb, Sixteenth Century)

The exercise of equity for one day is equal to sixty years spent in prayer.

By Nintoku

(Japanese emperor, Fourth Century)

If the people are poor, I am the poorest.



By Plutarch

(Greek historian, A.D. 50-120)

The Athenians fell into their old quarrels about the government, there being as many different parties as there were diversities in the country. The Hill quarter favoured democracy, the Plain, oligarchy, and those that lived by the Seaside stood for a mixed sort of government, and so hindered either of the other parties from prevailing. And the disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor at that time also reached its height; so that the city seemed to be in a truly dangerous condition, and there appeared no other means for freeing it from disturbances and settling it but a despotic power. All the people were indebted to the rich; and either they tilled their land for their creditors, paying them a sixth part of the increase, or else they engaged their body for the debt, and might be seized, and either sent into slavery at home, or sold to strangers; some (for no law forbade it) were forced to sell their children, or fly their country to avoid the cruelty of their creditors; but the most part and the bravest of them began to combine together and encourage one another to stand it, to choose a leader, to liberate the condemned debtors, divide the land, and change the government.

Then the wisest of the Athenians, perceiving Solon was of all men the only one not implicated in the troubles, that he had not joined in the exactions of the rich, and was not involved in the necessities of the poor, pressed him to succour the commonwealth and compose the differences....


The first thing which he settled was, that what debts remained should be forgiven, and no man, for the future, should engage the body of his debtor for security.

Concerning Land

By Solon

(Greek lawgiver, B.C. 639-559)

The mortgage stones that covered her, by me
Removed, the land that was a slave is free.


(Hebrew, B.C. 700?)

These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.... At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbor shall release it, he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release.


(Hebrew law-book, B.C. 700?)

And the Lord spake unto Moses in Mount Sinai, saying: ... “The land shall not be sold for ever; for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”


(From, “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”)

By Jean Jacques Rousseau

(French novelist and philosopher, 1712-1778; father of the French Revolution)

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”


By Confucius

(Chinese philosopher, B.C. 500)

Things have their root and their completion. It cannot be that when the root is neglected, what springs from it will be well ordered.


Seeking Causes

By Plato

(Greek philosopher and poet, B.C. 428-347)

Neither drugs nor charms nor burnings will touch a deep-lying political sore any more than a deep bodily one; but only right and utter change of constitution; and they do but lose their labor who think that by any tricks of law they can get the better of those mischiefs of commerce, and see not that they hew at a hydra.

Concerning Usury[W]

(From “The Koran”)

(Arabic, A.D. 600)

To him who is of kin to thee give his due, and to the poor and to the wayfarer: this will be best for those who seek the face of God; and with them it shall be well.

Whatever ye put out at usury to increase it with the substance of others shall have no increase from God: but whatever ye shall give in alms, as seeking the face of God, shall be doubled to you.

(From the Psalms)

(Hebrew, B.C. 200)

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart....


He that putteth his money not out to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

By Aristotle

(Greek philosopher, B.C. Fourth Century)

Usury is the most reasonably detested of all forms of money-making; it is most against nature.

(From “Essay on Riches”)

By Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam

(English philosopher and statesman, 1561-1626)

The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul....

Usury is the certainest means of gain, though one of the worst; as that whereby a man doth eat his bread with sweat of another’s face, and besides, doth plough upon Sundays.


By Marcus Aurelius

(Roman emperor, A.D. 121-180)

As thou thyself, whoever thou art, wert made for the perfection and consummation of a common society; so must every action of thine tend to the perfection and consummation of a life that is truly sociable. Whatever[481] action of thine that, either immediately or afar off, hath not reference to the common good, that is an exorbitant and disorderly action; yea, it is seditious; as one among the people who from a general consent and unity should factiously divide and separate himself.


By Wang-An-Shih

(Chinese statesman, Eleventh Century)

The State should take the entire management of commerce, industry, and agriculture into its own hands, with a view to succoring the working classes and preventing their being ground to the dust by the rich.

The Promise

(From the Psalms)

(Hebrew, B.C. 200)

The Lord shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence; and precious shall their blood be in his sight.


The Co-operative Commonwealth

By Isaiah II, the Prophet of the Exile

(B.C. 550)

And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.




Wealth, and the crimes that are committed in its name, and the protests of the spirit of humanity against its power in society.


Paradise Lost

By John Milton

(English lyric and epic poet, 1608-1674)

Mammon led them on—
Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell
From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heaven’s pavement, trodden gold,
Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed
In vision beatific. By him first
Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth
For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
Opened into the hill a spacious wound,
And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire
That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane.

Miss Kilmansegg: Her Moral

By Thomas Hood

(See pages 59, 171)

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
Molten, graven, hammer’d, and roll’d;
Heavy to get, and light to hold;
Hoarded, barter’d, bought, and sold,
Stolen, borrow’d, squander’d, doled:
Spurn’d by the young, but hugg’d by the old
To the very verge of the churchyard mould;
Price of many a crime untold:
Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Good or bad a thousand-fold!
How widely its agencies vary—
To save—to ruin—to curse—to bless—
As even its minted coins express,
Now stamp’d with the image of Good Queen Bess,
And now of a bloody Mary.

Northern Farmer: New Style

By Alfred Tennyson

(See page 77)

Dosn’t thou ‘ear my ‘erse’s legs, as they canters awaäy,
Proputty, proputty, proputty—that’s what I ‘ears ’em saäy.
Proputty, proputty, proputty—Sam, thou’s an ass for thy paäins,
Theer’s moor sense i’ one o’ ‘is legs nor in all thy braäins.
Me an’ thy muther, Sammy, ‘as beän a-talkin’ o’ thee;
Thou’s beän talkin’ to muther, an’ she beän a tellin’ it me.
Thou’ll not marry for munny—thou’s sweet upo’ parson’s lass—
Noä—thou’ll marry for luvv—an’ we boäth on us thinks tha an ass.
Seeä’d her todaäy goä by—Saäint’s daäy—they was ringing the bells.
She’s a beauty thou thinks—an’ soä is scoors o’ gells,
Them as ‘as munny an’ all—wot’s a beauty?—the flower as blaws.
But proputty, proputty sticks, an’ proputty, proputty graws.
Doänt’t be stunt: taäke time: I knaws what maäkes tha sa mad.
Warn’t I craäzed fur the lasses mysén when I wur a lad?
But I knaw’d a Quaäker feller as often ‘as towd ma this:
“Doän’t thou marry for munny, but goä wheer munny is!”

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

By John D. Rockefeller

(American capitalist, born 1839)

Then, and indeed for many years after, it seemed as though there was no end to the money needed to carry on and develop the business. As our successes began to come, I seldom put my head upon the pillow at night without speaking a few words to myself in this wise:

“Now a little success, soon you will fall down, soon you will be overthrown. Because you have got a start, you think you are quite a merchant; look out, or you will lose your head—go steady.” These intimate conversations with myself, I am sure, had a great influence on my life.


From Ecclesiasticus

A merchant shall hardly keep himself from wrong-doing; and a huckster shall not be acquitted of sin.

Past and Present

By Thomas Carlyle

(See pages 31, 74, 133)

What is it, if you pierce through his Cants, his oft-repeated Hearsays, what he calls his Worships and so forth,—what is it that the modern English soul does, in very truth, dread infinitely, and contemplate with entire despair? What is his Hell, after all these reputable, oft-repeated Hearsays, what is it? With hesitation, with astonishment, I pronounce it to be: The terror of “Not succeeding”; of not making money, fame, or some other figure in the world,—chiefly of not making money! Is not that a somewhat singular Hell?




(English painter, member of the Royal Academy, 1817-1904)




(Old English artist, 1697-1764.

Famous painting, representing an alliance between the son of a broken-down old nobleman and the daughter of a rich city merchant)


By Arthur Hugh Clough

(English poet and scholar, friend of Tennyson and Matthew Arnold, 1819-1861)

As I sat at the café, I said to myself,
They may talk as they please about what they call pelf,
They may sneer as they like about eating and drinking,
But help it I cannot, I cannot help thinking,
How pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
How pleasant it is to have money.
I sit at my table en grand seigneur,
And when I have done, throw a crust to the poor;
Not only the pleasure, one’s self, of good living,
But also the pleasure of now and then giving.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money....
I drive through the streets, and I care not a d—n;
The people they stare, and they ask who I am;
And if I should chance to run over a cad,
I can pay for the damage if ever so bad.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.
We stroll to our box and look down on the pit,
And if it weren’t low should be tempted to spit;
We loll and we talk until people look up,
And when it’s half over we go out to sup.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.
The best of the tables and best of the fare—
And as for the others, the devil may care;
It isn’t our fault if they dare not afford
To sup like a prince and be drunk as a lord.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.



By Sir Thomas More

(See page 160)

They marveile also that golde, whych of the owne nature is a thinge so unprofytable, is nowe amonge all people in so hyghe estimation, that man him selfe, by whome, yea and for the use of whome it is so much set by, is in muche lesse estimation, then the golde it selfe. In so muche that a lumpyshe blockehedded churle, and whyche hathe no more wytte then an asse, yea and as ful of noughtynes as of follye, shall have nevertheless manye wyse and good men in subjectyon and bondage, only for this, bycause he hath a greate heape of golde. Whyche yf it shoulde be taken from hym by anye fortune, or by some subtyll wyle and cautele of the lawe, (whyche no lesse then fortune dothe bothe raise up the lowe, and plucke downe the highe) and be geven to the moste vile slave and abject dryvell of all his housholde, then shortely after he shal goo into the service of his servaunt, as an augmentation or overplus beside his money. But they muche more marvell at and detest the madnes of them, whyche to those riche men, in whose debte and daunger they be not, do give almost divine honoures, for none other consideration, but bicause they be riche: and yet knowing them to bee suche nigeshe penny fathers, that they be sure as longe as they live, not the worthe of one farthinge of that heape of gold shall come to them. These and such like opinions have they conceaved, partely by education, beinge brought up in that common wealthe, whose lawes and customes be farre different from these kindes of folly, and partely by good litterature and learning.


The Crown of Wild Olive

By John Ruskin

(See page 106)

It is physically impossible for a well-educated, intellectual, or brave man to make money the chief object of his thoughts; as physically impossible as it is for him to make his dinner the principal object of them. All healthy people like their dinners, but their dinner is not the main object of their lives. So all healthily minded people like making money—ought to like it, and to enjoy the sensation of winning it: but the main object of their life is not money; it is something better than money.

Don Juan

By Lord Byron

(See pages 233, 340)

Oh, Gold! Why call we misers miserable?
Theirs is the pleasure that can never pall;
Theirs is the best bower-anchor, the chain-cable
Which holds fast other pleasures great and small.
Ye who but see the saving man at table
And scorn his temperate board, as none at all,
And wonder how the wealthy can be sparing,
Know not what visions spring from each cheese-paring....
Perhaps he hath great projects in his mind
To build a college, or to found a race,
An hospital, a church—and leave behind
Some dome surmounted by his meagre face;
Perhaps he fain would liberate mankind,
Even with the very ore that makes them base;
Perhaps he would be wealthiest of his nation,
Or revel in the joys of calculation....
“Love rules the camp, the court, the grove—for love
Is heaven, and heaven is love:” so sings the bard;
Which it were rather difficult to prove
(A thing with poetry in general hard).
Perhaps there may be something in “the grove,”
At least it rhymes to “love”; but I’m prepared
To doubt (no less than landlords of their rental)
If “courts” and “camps” be quite so sentimental.
But if Love don’t, Cash does, and Cash alone:
Cash rules the grove, and fells it too besides;
Without cash, camps were thin, and courts were none;
Without cash, Malthus tells you, “take no brides.”
So Cash rules Love the ruler, on his own
High ground, as virgin Cynthia sways the tides:
And as for “Heaven being Love,” why not say honey
Is wax? Heaven is not Love, ’tis Matrimony.

By William Shakespeare

(See page 181)

Gold? yellow, glittering, precious gold?...
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions; bless the accursed;
Make the hoar leprosy adored; place thieves,
And give them title, knee and approbation
With senators on the bench.


The Cave of Mammon

(From “The Faerie Queene”)

By Edmund Spenser

(Old English poet, 1552-1599)

At last he came unto a gloomy glade
Cover’d with boughs and shrubs from heavens light,
Whereas he sitting found in secret shade
An uncouth, salvage, and uncivile wight,
Of griesly hew and fowle ill-favour’d sight;
His face with smoke was tand, and eies were bleard,
His head and beard with sout were ill bedight,
His cole-blacke hands did seem to have ben seard
In smythes fire-spitting forge, and nayles like clawes appeard....
And round about him lay on every side
Great heapes of gold that never could be spent;
Of which some were rude owre, not purifide,
Of Mulcibers devouring element;
Some others were new driven, and distent
Into great ingowes and to wedges square;
Some in round plates withouten moniment;
But most were stampt, and in their metal bare
The antique shapes of kings and kesars straung and rare....
“What secret place,” quoth he, “can safely hold
So huge a mass, and hide from heavens eie?
Or where hast thou thy wonne, that so much gold
Thou canst preserve from wrong and robbery?”
“Come thou,” quoth he, “and see.” So by and by
Through that black covert he him led, and fownd
A darksome way, which no man could descry,
That deep descended through the hollow grownd,
And was with dread and horror compassèd arownd....
So soon as Mammon there arrived, the dore
To him did open and affoorded way:
Him followed eke Sir Guyon evermore,
Ne darknesse him ne daunger might dismay.
Soone as he entred was, the dore streightway
Did shutt, and from behind it forth there lept
An ugly feend, more fowle then dismall day:
The which with monstrous stalke behind him stept,
And ever as he went dew watch upon him kept.
Well hopèd hee, ere long that hardy guest,
If ever covetous hand, or lustfull eye,
Or lips he layd on thing that likte him best,
Or ever sleepe his eie-strings did untye,
Should be his pray: and therefore still on hye
He over him did hold his cruell clawes,
Threatning with greedy gripe to doe him dye,
And rend in peeces with his ravenous pawes,
If ever he transgrest the fatall Stygian lawes.
In all that rowme was nothing to be seene
But huge great yron chests, and coffers strong,
All bard with double bends, that none could weene
Them to efforce by violence or wrong;
On every side they placèd were along.
But all the grownd with sculs was scattered
And dead mens bones, which round about were flong;
Whose lives, it seemed, whilome there was shed,
And their vile carcases now left unburièd.


Mammon Marriage

By George MacDonald

(Scotch novelist and clergyman, 1824-1905)

The croak of a raven hoar!
A dog’s howl, kennel-tied!
Loud shuts the carriage-door:
The two are away on their ghastly ride
To Death’s salt shore!
Where are the love and the grace?
The bridegroom is thirsty and cold!
The bride’s skull sharpens her face!
But the coachman is driving, jubilant, bold,
The devil’s pace.
The horses shiver’d and shook
Waiting gaunt and haggard
With sorry and evil look;
But swift as a drunken wind they stagger’d
‘Longst Lethe brook.
Long since, they ran no more;
Heavily pulling they died
On the sand of the hopeless shore
Where never swell’d or sank a tide,
And the salt burns sore.
Flat their skeletons lie,
White shadows on shining sand;
The crusted reins go high
To the crumbling coachman’s bony hand
On his knees awry.
Side by side, jarring no more,
Day and night side by side,
Each by a doorless door,
Motionless sit the bridegroom and bride
On the Dead-Sea-shore.

Snobs and Marriage

(From “The Book of Snobs”)

By William Makepeace Thackeray

(English novelist and satirist of manners, 1811-1863)

People dare not be happy for fear of Snobs. People dare not love for fear of Snobs. People pine away lonely under the tyranny of Snobs. Honest kindly hearts dry up and die. Gallant generous lads, blooming with hearty youth, swell into bloated old bachelorhood, and burst and tumble over. Tender girls wither into shrunken decay, and perish solitary, from whom Snobbishness has cut off the common claim to happiness and affection with which Nature endowed us all. My heart grows sad as I see the blundering tyrant’s handiwork. As I behold it I swell with cheap rage, and glow with fury against the Snob. Come down, I say, thou skulking dullness. Come down, thou stupid bully, and give up thy brutal ghost! And I arm myself with the sword and spear, and taking leave of my family, go forth to do battle with that hideous ogre and giant, that brutal despot in Snob Castle, who holds so many gentle hearts in torture and thrall.


In Bohemia

By John Boyle O’Reilly

(Irish-born American journalist, 1844-1890)

The thirsty of soul soon learn to know
The moistureless froth of the social show,
The vulgar sham of the pompous feast
Where the heaviest purse is the highest priest;
The organized charity, scrimped and iced,
In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ.

Vanity Fair

(From “The Pilgrim’s Progress”)

By John Bunyan

(English thinker and religious rebel, who was put in prison and there wrote one of the world’s great allegories; 1628-1688)

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long.... At this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, such as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, precious stones, and what not.

And moreover, at this fair there are at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind.


Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.

The Sins of Society

By Bernard Vaughan

(The sermons of a Jesuit priest, in Mayfair, London, which caused great excitement among the “Smart Set”)

Society nowadays, as we all know, is every bit as material as it was when Dives was alive. It still cares very little, indeed, for what it cannot either put on or into itself. It is self-centred. Its fair votaries must be set up by the best man-milliner, and fed up by the best man-cook; and then, provided they are known at the opera by their diamonds, in Mayfair by their motors, and at Cowes by their yacht, nothing else matters, especially if they happen to have a house at Ascot and a launch at Henley for the racing weeks.

It is not so much persons as things that count in this age of materialism. Hence there is but one sin less pardonable than that of being dull, and that is being poor. After all, there may be some excuse for dulness if you have money, but there is simply none at all for poverty, which like dirt on one’s shoes, or dust on one’s gown, must be brushed away from sight as soon as possible. Not even poor relatives are tolerated or recognized, except occasionally on an “off-day,” when, like some unfortunate governesses in such households, they may be asked to look in at tea-time, when nobody is there. Surely all this is very contemptible, and altogether unworthy of old English traditions. Yes, but old[499] English traditions, with rare exceptions, are being swept away by the incoming tide of millionaire wealth, so that, nowadays, it matters little what you are, but much, nay, everything, what you have. If you command money, you command the world. If you have none, you are nobody, though you be a prince.

(From a leading London newspaper)

Father Vaughan’s knotted lash is sharp, and he wields it sternly, but it does not raise one weal on the delicate flesh of these massaged and manicured Salomes and Phrynes. His scorn is savage, but it does not produce more than a polite smile on these soft, faultless faces. His contempt is bitter, but it does not make a single modish harlot blush. They are dimly amused by the excitement of the good man. They are not in the least annoyed. They are, on the contrary, eager to ask him to dinner. What a piquant sensation to serve adultery with the sauce of asceticism!

Father Vaughan says that if King Herod and Herodias and Salome were to arrive in Mayfair they would be petted by the Smart Set. The good father, in the innocence of his heart, underacts the role of Sa-vaughan-rola. Herod and Herodias and Salome have arrived. They are here. We know them. We see them daily. Their names are in the newspapers. They were at Ascot. They are present at the smartest weddings at St. George’s, Hanover Square. Do we despise them? Do we boycott them? Do we cut them. By no means. We honor and reverence them. We may talk about their bestialities in the privacy of the boudoir and the smoking-room, but in public the theme is discreetly evaded.


Fifth Avenue, 1915

By Hermann Hagedorn

(American poet, born 1882. The following poem is a rondel, an interesting case of the use of an artificial old French verse-form in a vital way)

The motor cars go up and down,
The painted ladies sit and smile.
Along the sidewalks, mile on mile,
Parade the dandies of the town.
The latest hat, the latest gown,
The tedium of their souls beguile.
The motor cars go up and down,
The painted ladies sit and smile.
In wild and icy waters drown
A thousand for a rock-bound isle.
Ten thousand in a black defile
Perish for justice or a crown.
The motor cars go up and down....

Hotel Life[X]

(From “The House of Mirth”)

By Edith Wharton

(Contemporary American novelist)

The environment in which Lily found herself was as strange to her as its inhabitants. She was unacquainted with the world of the fashionable New York hotel—a world over-heated, over-upholstered, and over[501]fitted with mechanical appliances for the gratification of fantastic requirements, while the comforts of a civilized life were as unattainable as in a desert. Through this atmosphere of torrid splendor moved wan beings as richly upholstered as the furniture, beings without definite pursuits or permanent relations, who drifted on a languid tide of curiosity from restaurant to concert-hall, from palm-garden to music-room, from “art-exhibit” to dressmaker’s opening. High-stepping horses or elaborately equipped motors waited to carry these ladies into vague metropolitan distances, whence they returned, still more wan from the weight of their sables, to be sucked back into the stifling inertia of the hotel routine. Somewhere behind them in the background of their lives, there was doubtless a real past, peopled by real human activities: they themselves were probably the product of strong ambitions, persistent energies, diversified contacts with the wholesome roughness of life; yet they had no more real existence than the poet’s shades in limbo.

Lily had not been long in this pallid world without discovering that Mrs. Hatch was its most substantial figure.... The daily details of her existence were as strange to Lily as its general tenor. The lady’s habits were marked by an Oriental indolence and disorder peculiarly trying to her companion. Mrs. Hatch and her friends seemed to float together outside the bounds of time and space. No definite hours were kept; no fixed obligations existed: night and day floated into one another in a blur of confused and retarded engagements, so that one had the impression of lunching at the tea-hour, while dinner was often merged in the noisy after-theatre supper which prolonged Mrs. Hatch’s vigil until daylight. Through this jumble of futile activities came and went a[502] strange throng of hangers-on—manicures, beauty-doctors, hair-dressers, teachers of bridge, of French, of “physical development.” ... Mrs. Hatch swam in a haze of indeterminate enthusiasms, of aspirations culled from the stage, the newspapers, the fashion-journals, and a gaudy world of sport still more completely beyond her companion’s ken.

The Parasitic Female

(From “Woman and Labor”)

By Olive Schreiner

(In the preface to this book, it is explained that it is only a faint sketch from memory of part of a great work, the manuscript of which was destroyed during the Boer war)

In place of the active laboring woman, upholding society by her toil, had come the effete wife, concubine or prostitute, clad in fine raiment, the work of others’ fingers; fed on luxurious viands, the result of others’ toil, waited on and tended by the labor of others. The need for her physical labor having gone, and mental industry not having taken its place, she bedecked and scented her person, or had it bedecked and scented for her, she lay upon her sofa, or drove or was carried out in her vehicle, and, loaded with jewels, she sought by dissipations and amusements to fill up the inordinate blank left by the lack of productive activity. And the hand whitened and the frame softened, till at last, the very duties of motherhood, which were all the constitution of her life left her, became distasteful, and, from the instant when her infant came damp from her womb, it passed into the hands of[503] others, to be tended and reared by them; and from youth to age her offspring often owed nothing to her personal toil. In many cases so complete was her enervation, that at last the very joy of giving life, the glory and beatitude of a virile womanhood, became distasteful; and she sought to evade it, not because of its interference with more imperious duties to those already born of her, or to her society, but because her existence of inactivity had robbed her of all joy in strenuous exertion and endurance in any form. Finely clad, tenderly housed, life became for her merely the gratification of her own physical and sexual appetites, and the appetites of the male, through the stimulation of which she could maintain herself. And, whether as kept wife, kept mistress, or prostitute, she contributed nothing to the active and sustaining labors of her society. She had attained to the full development of that type which, whether in modern Paris or New York or London, or in ancient Greece, Assyria, or Rome, is essentially one in its features, its nature, and its results. She was the “fine lady,” the human female parasite—the most deadly microbe which can make its appearance on the surface of any social organism.

Wherever in the history of the past this type has reached its full development and has comprised the bulk of the females belonging to any dominant class or race, it has heralded its decay. In Assyria, Greece, Rome, Persia, as in Turkey today, the same material conditions have produced the same social disease among the wealthy and dominant races; and again and again, when the nation so affected has come into contact with nations more healthily constituted, this diseased condition has contributed to its destruction.


In the Market-Place

(From “Beyond the Breakers”)

By George Sterling

(California poet, born 1869)

In Babylon, high Babylon,
What gear is bought and sold?
All merchandise beneath the sun
That bartered is for gold;
Amber and oils from far beyond
The desert and the fen,
And wines whereof our throats are fond—
Yea! and the souls of men!
In Babylon, grey Babylon,
What goods are sold and bought?
Vesture of linen subtly spun,
And cups from agate wrought;
Raiment of many-colored silk
For some fair denizen,
And ivory more white than milk—
Yea! and the souls of men!...
In Babylon, sad Babylon,
What chattels shall invite?
A wife whenas your youth is done,
Or leman for a night.
Before Astarte’s portico
The torches flare again;
The shadows come, the shadows go—
Yea! and the souls of men!
In Babylon, dark Babylon,
Who take the wage of shame?
The scribe and singer, one by one,
That toil for gold and fame.
They grovel to their masters’ mood
The blood upon the pen
Assigns their souls to servitude—
Yea! and the souls of men!

Dinner à la Tango

By Edwin Björkman

(American critic, born in Sweden 1866)

It is after eight o’clock in one of the smaller dining-rooms of a fashionable New York hotel. The middle of the room is cleared for dancing. At one end a small orchestra is working furiously at a melody that affects the mind like the triple-distilled essence of nervous unrest. Every table is occupied by merry groups of men and women in evening dress. Above our heads are strung almost invisible wires, to which are attached colored lanterns, gaudy mechanical butterflies, and huge red and green toy balloons. Just as we enter, a stoutish, heavy-faced chap with a monocle slaps the next man on the back and cries out:

“We must be gay, old boy!”

The open square in the middle is filled with dancers. They trip and slide and dip. They side-step and back-step and gyrate. They wave their arms like pump-handles, or raise them skyward, palm to palm, as if in prayer. There are among them young girls with shining[506] faces full of inarticulate desire; simpering young men with a leer lurking at the bottom of their vacant stares; stiff-legged and white-haired old men with drooping eyelids; and stern-jawed matrons with hand-made faces of a startling purple hue. But on every face, young or old, bright or dull, there beams a smile or clings a smirk, for the spirit of the place demands gaiety at any price.

On the tables are strewn gaily trimmed packages that open with a report, and yield up gaily colored paper caps. Rubicund gentlemen place the caps over their bald spots, while women pick the big butterflies to pieces, and put the fragments into their hair until they look like barbarous princesses. Men and women drink and dance, feast and flirt, sing and laugh and shout....

Gay is the scene indeed: gay the music and the laughter; gay the wine that sparkles in the glasses; gay the swirling, swaying maze of dancing couples; gay the bright balloons and brilliant dresses of the women. And it is as if my mind’s eye saw these words written in burning letters on the wall:

Leave care behind, all ye that enter here!

But out there on Fifth Avenue a lot of unkempt, unreasonable men and women are marching savagely behind a black flag.


Evils of Gold

By William Shakespeare

(See pages 181, 492)

O thou sweet king killer, and dear divorce
’Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen’s purest bed! thou valiant Mars;
Thou ever young, fresh, loved, and delicate wooer,
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian’s lap! thou visible god,
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And mak’st them kiss; that speak’st with every tongue,
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave, man, rebels; and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire.

The Theory of the Leisure Class[Y]

By Thorstein Veblen

(American university professor)

The function of dress as an evidence of ability to pay does not end with simply showing that the wearer consumes valuable goods in excess of what is required for physical comfort. Simple conspicuous waste of goods is effective and gratifying as far as it goes; it is good prima facie evidence of pecuniary success, and consequently prima facie evidence of social worth. But dress has subtler and more far-reaching possibilities than[508] this crude, first-hand evidence of wasteful consumption only. If, in addition to showing that the wearer can afford to consume freely and uneconomically, it can also be shown in the same stroke that he or she is not under the necessity of earning a livelihood, the evidence of social worth is enhanced in a very considerable degree. Our dress, therefore, in order to serve its purpose effectually, should not only be expensive, but it should also make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor. In the evolutionary process by which our system of dress has been elaborated into its present admirably perfect adaptation to its purpose, this subsidiary line of evidence has received due attention. A detailed examination of what passes in popular apprehension for elegant apparel will show that it is contrived at every point to convey the impression that the wearer does not habitually put forth any useful effort. It goes without saying that no apparel can be considered elegant, or even decent, if it shows the effect of manual labor on the part of the wearer, in the way of soil or wear. The pleasing effect of neat and spotless garments is chiefly, if not altogether, due to their carrying the suggestion of leisure—exemption from personal contact with industrial processes of any kind. Much of the charm that invests the patent-leather shoe, the stainless linen, the lustrous cylindrical hat, and the walking-stick, which so greatly enhance the native dignity of a gentleman, comes of their pointedly suggesting that the wearer cannot when so attired bear a hand in any employment that is directly and immediately of any human use....

The dress of women goes even farther than that of men in the way of demonstrating the wearer’s abstinence from productive employment. It needs no argument to[509] enforce the generalization that the more elegant styles of feminine bonnets go even farther towards making work impossible than does the man’s high hat. The woman’s shoe adds the so-called French heel to the evidence of enforced leisure afforded by its polish; because this high heel obviously makes any, even the simplest and most necessary manual work extremely difficult. The like is true even in a higher degree of the skirt and the rest of the drapery which characterizes woman’s dress. The substantial reason for our tenacious attachment to the skirt is just this: it is expensive and it hampers the wearer at every turn and incapacitates her for all useful exertion. The like is true of the feminine custom of wearing the hair excessively long.

But the woman’s apparel not only goes beyond that of the modern man in the degree in which it argues exemption from labor; it also adds a peculiar and highly characteristic feature which differs in kind from anything habitually practiced by the men. This feature is the class of contrivances of which the corset is the typical example. The corset is, in economic theory, substantially a mutilation, undergone for the purpose of lowering the subject’s vitality and rendering her permanently and obviously unfit for work. It is true, the corset impairs the personal attractions of the wearer, but the loss suffered on that score is offset by the gain in reputability which comes of her visibly increased expensiveness and infirmity. It may broadly be set down that the womanliness of woman’s apparel resolves itself, in point of substantial fact, into the more effective hindrance to useful exertion offered by the garments peculiar to women.


The Vanity of Human Wishes

By Samuel Johnson

(English essayist and poet, 1709-1784. The poem from which these lines are taken is a paraphrase of the Roman poet Juvenal)

But, scarce observed, the knowing and the bold
Fall in the general massacre of gold;
Wide wasting pest! that rages unconfined,
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind;
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heaped on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys,
The dangers gather as the treasures rise.

Letters from a Chinese Official

By G. Lowes Dickinson

(This little book, published anonymously, was taken for a genuine document by many critics, among others, Mr. William Jennings Bryan, who wrote an elaborate answer to it. The writer is an English university lecturer)

When I review my impressions of the average English citizen, impressions based on many years’ study, what kind of man do I see? I see one divorced from Nature, but unreclaimed by Art; instructed, but not educated; assimilative, but incapable of thought. Trained in the tenets of a religion in which he does not believe—for he sees it flatly contradicted in every relation of life—he dimly feels that it is prudent to conceal under a mask of piety the atheism he is hardly intelligent enough[511] to avow. His religion is conventional; and, what is more important, his morals are as conventional as his creed. Charity, chastity, self-abnegation, contempt of the world and its prizes—these are the words on which he has been fed from his childhood upward. And words they have remained, for neither has he anywhere seen them practiced by others, nor has it ever occurred to him to practice them himself. Their influence, while it is strong enough to make him a chronic hypocrite, is not so strong as to show him the hypocrite he is. Deprived on the one hand of the support of a true ethical standard, embodied in the life of the society of which he is a member, he is duped, on the other, by lip-worship of an impotent ideal. Abandoned thus to his instinct, he is content to do as others do, and, ignoring the things of the spirit, to devote himself to material ends. He becomes a mere tool; and of such your society is composed. By your works you may be known. Your triumphs in the mechanical arts are the obverse of your failure in all that calls for spiritual insight.

Stupidity Street

By Ralph Hodgson

(Contemporary English poet, who publishes his work in tiny pamphlets with quaint illustrations)

I saw with open eyes
Singing birds sweet
Sold in the shops
For the people to eat,
Sold in the shops of
Stupidity Street.
I saw in vision
The worm in the wheat;
And in the shops nothing
For people to eat;
Nothing for sale in
Stupidity Street.

The Souls of Black Folk

By W. E. Burghardt Du Bois

(Professor in the University of Atlanta, born 1868; a prominent advocate of the rights of his race)

In the Black World, the Preacher and Teacher embodied once the ideals of this people,—the strife for another and a juster world, the vague dream of righteousness, the mystery of knowing; but today the danger is that these ideals, with their simple beauty and weird inspiration, will suddenly sink to a question of cash and a lust for gold. Here stands this black young Atalanta, girding herself for the race that must be run; and if her eyes be still toward the hills and sky as in the days of old, then we may look for noble running; but what if some ruthless or wily or even thoughtless Hippomenes lay golden apples before her? What if the negro people be wooed from a strife for righteousness, from a love of knowing, to regard dollars as the be-all and the end-all of life? What if to the Mammonism of America be added the rising Mammonism of the re-born South, and the Mammonism of this South be reinforced by the budding Mammonism of its half-awakened black millions? Whither, then, is the new-world quest of Goodness and Beauty and Truth gone glimmering?


Co-operation and Nationality

By “A.E.” (George W. Russell)

(See page 252)

When steam first began to puff and wheels go round at so many revolutions per minute, the wild child humanity, who had hitherto developed his civilization in picturesque unconsciousness of where he was going, and without any set plan, was caught and put in harness. What are called business habits were invented to make the life of man run in harmony with the steam engine, and his movements rival the train in punctuality. The factory system was invented, and it was an instantaneous success. Men were clothed with cheapness and uniformity. Their minds grew numerously alike, cheap and uniform also. They were at their desks at nine o’clock, or at their looms at six. They adjusted themselves to the punctual wheels. The rapid piston acted as pacemaker, and in England, which started first in the modern race for wealth, it was an enormous advantage to have tireless machines of superhuman activity to make the pace, and nerve men, women and children to the fullest activity possible. Business methods had a long start in England, and irregularity and want of uniformity became after a while such exceptions that they were regarded as deadly sins. The grocer whose supplies of butter did not arrive week after week by the same train, at the same hour, and of the same quality, of the same color, the same saltness, and in the same kind of box, quarrelled with the wholesaler, who in his turn quarrelled with the producer. Only the most machine-like race could win custom. After a while every country felt it had to be drilled or[514] become extinct. Some made themselves into machines to enter the English market, some to preserve their own markets. Even the indolent Oriental is getting keyed up, and in another fifty years the Bedouin of the desert will be at his desk and the wild horseman of Tartary will be oiling his engines.

The Communist Manifesto

By Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

(Published in 1848, the charter of the modern Socialist movement)

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade.


Portrait of an American

By Louis Untermeyer

(See pages 42, 418)

He slobbers over sentimental plays
And sniffles over sentimental songs.
He tells you often how he sadly longs
For the ideals of the dear old days.
In gatherings he is the first to raise
His voice against “our country’s shameful wrongs.”
He storms at greed. His hard, flat tone prolongs
The hymns and mumbled platitudes of praise.
I heard him in his office Friday past.
“Look here,” he said, “their talk is all a bluff;
You mark my words, this thing will never last.
Let them walk out—they’ll come back quick enough.
We’ll have all hands at work—and working fast!
How do they think we’re running this—for love?”

A Living Wage

By J. Pierpont Morgan

(American banker; testimony before the United States Commission on Industrial Relations)

Question: Do you consider ten dollars a week enough for a ‘longshoreman with a family to support?

Answer: If that’s all he can get, and he takes it, I should say it’s enough.



By Harold Monro

(Contemporary English poet)

He’s something in the city. Who shall say
His fortune was not honorably won?
Few people can afford to give away
As he, or help the poor as he has done.
Neat in his habits, temperate in his life:
Oh, who shall dare his character besmirch?
He scarcely ever quarrels with his wife,
And every Sabbath strictly goes to church.
He helps the village club, and in the town
Attends parochial meetings once a week,
Pays for each purchase ready-money down:
Is anyone against him?—Who will speak?
There is a widow somewhere in the north,
On whom slow ruin gradually fell,
While she, believing that her God was wroth,
Suffered without a word—or she might tell.
And there’s a beggar somewhere in the west,
Whose fortune vanished gradually away:
Now he but drags his limbs in horror lest
Starvation feed on them—or he might say.
And there are children stricken with disease,
Too ignorant to curse him, or too weak.
In a true portrait of him all of these
Must figure in the background—they shall speak.


New Varieties of Sin

(From “Sin and Society”)

By Edward Alsworth Ross

(American college professor, born 1866, a prominent advocate of academic freedom)

Today the sacrifice of life incidental to quick success rarely calls for the actual spilling of blood. How decent are the pale slayings of the quack, the adulterator, and the purveyor of polluted water, compared with the red slayings of the vulgar bandit or assassin! Even if there is blood-letting, the long-range, tentacular nature of modern homicide eliminates all personal collision. What an abyss between the knife-play of brawlers and the law-defying neglect to fence dangerous machinery in a mill, or to furnish cars with safety couplers! The providing of unsuspecting passengers with “cork” life-preservers secretly loaded with bars of iron to make up for their deficiency in weight of cork, is spiritually akin to the treachery of Joab, who, taking Amasa by the beard “to kiss him,” smote Amasa “in the fifth rib”; but it wears a very different aspect. The current methods of annexing the property of others are characterized by a pleasing indirectness and refinement. The furtive, apprehensive manner of the till-tapper or the porch-climber would jar disagreeably upon the tax-dodger “swearing off” his property, or the city official concealing a “rake-off” in his specifications for a public building. The work of the card-sharp and the thimblerigger shocks a type of man that will not stick at the massive “artistic swindling” of the contemporary promoter....

One might suppose that an exasperated public would[518] sternly castigate these modern sins. But the fact is, the very qualities that lull the conscience of the sinner blind the eyes of the on-lookers. People are sentimental, and bastinado wrong-doing not according to its harmfulness, but according to the infamy that has come to attach to it. Undiscerning, they chastise with scorpions the old authentic sins, but spare the new. They do not see that boodling is treason, that blackmail is piracy, that embezzlement is theft, that speculation is gambling, that tax dodging is larceny, that railroad discrimination is treachery, that the factory labor of children is slavery, that deleterious adulteration is murder. It has not come home to them that the fraudulent promoter “devours widows’ houses,” that the monopolist “grinds the faces of the poor,” that mercenary editors and spellbinders “put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” The cloven hoof hides in patent leather; and to-day, as in Hosea’s time, the people “are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The mob lynches the red-handed slayer, when it ought to keep a gallows Haman-high for the venal mine inspector, the seller of infected milk, the maintainer of a fire-trap theatre. The child-beater is forever blasted in reputation, but the exploiter of infant toil, or the concocter of a soothing syrup for the drugging of babies, stands a pillar of society. The petty shoplifter is more abhorred than the stealer of a franchise, and the wife-whipper is outcast long before the man who sends his over-insured ship to founder with its crew.


By Jack London

Far better to have the front of one’s face pushed in by the fist of an honest prize-fighter than to have the lining of one’s stomach corroded by the embalmed beef of a dishonest manufacturer.


By H. G. Wells

(English novelist, born 1866; author of many strange romances of modern science, and later, of penetrating studies of social injustice and hypocrisy. The present novel tells of the career of a financial potentate who begins life with a patent-medicine business)

It was my uncle’s genius that did it. No doubt he needed me—I was, I will admit, his indispensable right hand; but his was the brain to conceive. He wrote every advertisement; some of them even he sketched. You must remember that his were the days before the Times took to enterprise and the vociferous hawking of that antiquated Encyclopædia. That alluring, button-holing, let-me-just-tell-you-quite-soberly-something-you-ought-to-know style of newspaper advertisement, with every now and then a convulsive jump of some attractive phrase into capitals, was then almost a novelty. “Many people who are MODERATELY well think they are QUITE well,” was one of his early efforts. The jerks in capitals were, “DO NOT NEED DRUGS OR MEDICINE,” and “SIMPLY A PROPER REGIMEN TO GET YOU IN TONE.” One was warned against the chemist or druggist who pushed “much-advertised nostrums” on one’s attention. That[520] trash did more harm than good. The thing needed was regimen—and Tono-Bungay!

Very early, too, was that bright little quarter column, at least it was usually a quarter column in the evening papers: “HILARITY—TONO-BUNGAY. Like Mountain Air in the Veins.” The penetrating trio of questions: “Are you bored with your Business? Are you bored with your Dinner? Are you bored with your Wife?”—that, too, was in our Gower Street days. Both these we had in our first campaign when we worked London south, central, and west; and then, too, we had our first poster,—the HEALTH, BEAUTY AND STRENGTH one. That was his design; I happen still to have got by me the first sketch he made for it....

By all modern standards the business was, as my uncle would say, “absolutely bona fide.” We sold our stuff and got the money, and spent the money honestly in lies and clamor to sell more stuff. Section by section we spread it over the whole of the British Isles; first working the middle-class London suburbs, then the outer suburbs, then the home counties, then going (with new bills and a more pious style of “ad”) into Wales, a great field always for a new patent-medicine, and then into Lancashire. My uncle had in his inner office a big map of England, and as we took up fresh sections of the local press and our consignments invaded new areas, flags for advertisements and pink underlines for orders showed our progress.

“The romance of modern commerce, George!” my uncle would say, rubbing his hands together and drawing in air through his teeth. “The romance of modern commerce, eh? Conquest. Province by Province. Like sogers.”


We subjugated England and Wales; we rolled over the Cheviots with a special adaptation containing eleven per cent. of absolute alcohol; “Tono-Bungay: Thistle Brand.” We also had the Fog poster adapted to a kilted Briton in a misty Highland scene....

As I look back at them now, those energetic years seem all compacted to a year or so; from the days of our first hazardous beginning in Farrington Street with barely a thousand pounds’ worth of stuff or credit all told—and that got by something perilously like snatching—to the days when my uncle went to the public on behalf of himself and me (one-tenth share) and our silent partners, the drug wholesalers and the printing people and the owner of that group of magazines and newspapers, to ask with honest confidence for £150,000. Those silent partners were remarkably sorry, I know, that they had not taken larger shares and given us longer credit when the subscriptions came pouring in. My uncle had a clear half to play with (including the one-tenth understood to be mine).

£150,000—think of it!—for the goodwill in a string of lies and a trade in bottles of mitigated water! Do you realize the madness of the world that sanctions such a thing? Perhaps you don’t. At times use and wont certainly blinded me. If it had not been for Ewart, I don’t think I should have had an inkling of the wonderfulness of this development of my fortunes; I should have grown accustomed to it, fallen in with all its delusions as completely as my uncle presently did. He was immensely proud of the flotation. “They’ve never been given such value,” he said, “for a dozen years.” But Ewart, with his gesticulating hairy hands and bony wrists, is single-handed chorus to all this as it plays[522] itself over again in my memory, and he kept my fundamental absurdity illuminated for me during all this astonishing time.

“It’s just on all fours with the rest of things,” he remarked; “only more so. You needn’t think you’re anything out of the way.”

Man the Reformer

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

(See page 235)

It is only necessary to ask a few questions as to the progress of the articles of commerce from the fields where they grew, to our houses, to become aware that we eat and drink and wear perjury and fraud in a hundred commodities. We are all implicated in this charge. The sins of our trade belong to no class, to no individual. Everybody partakes, everybody confesses, yet none feels himself accountable. The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man. Nay, the evil custom reaches into the whole institution of property, until our laws which establish and protect it seem not to be the issue of love and reason, but of selfishness.


To a Certain Rich Young Ruler

By Clement Wood

(A sonnet which was widely circulated at the time of the Colorado coal-strike of 1913-14)

White-fingered lord of murderous events,
Well are you guarding what your father gained;
With torch and rifle you have well maintained
The lot to which a heavenly providence
Has called you; laborers, risen in defense
Of liberty and life, lie charred and brained
About your mines, whose gutted hills are stained
With slaughter of these newer innocents.
Ah, but your bloody fingers clenched in prayer!
Your piety, which all the world has seen!
The godly odor spreading through the air
From your efficient charity machine!
Thus you rehearse for your high rôle up there,
Ruling beside the lowly Nazarene!

From the Politics of Aristotle

(See page 480)

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider godfearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.


By Amos

(Hebrew prophet, B. C. 760)

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Concerning Charity


(Part of a statement before the United States Commission on Industrial Relations, 1915. The writer was the representative of the miners in charge of the Colorado strike, and went to work as a pit-boy at the age of eight)

There is another cause of industrial discontent. This is the skillful attempt that is being made to substitute Philanthropy for Justice. There is not one of these foundations, now spreading their millions over the world in showy generosity, that does not draw those millions from some form of industrial injustice. It is not their money that these lords of commercialized virtue are spending, but the withheld wages of the American working-class.

I sat in this room and heard a great philanthropist read the list of activities of his Foundation “to promote the well-being of mankind.” An international health commission to extend to foreign countries and peoples[525] the work of eradicating the hookworm; the promotion of medical education and health in China; the investigations of vice conditions in Europe; one hundred thousand dollars for the American Academy in Rome, twenty thousand a year for widows’ pensions in New York, one million for the relief of Belgians, thirty-four millions for the University of Chicago, thirty-four millions for a General Education Board. A wave of horror swept over me during that reading, and I say to you that that same wave is now rushing over the entire working-class of the United States. Health for China, a refuge for birds in Louisiana, food for the Belgians, pensions for New York widows, university training for the elect—and never a thought or a dollar for the many thousands of men, women and children who starved in Colorado, for the widows robbed of husbands and children of their fathers, by law-violating conditions in the mines. There are thousands of this great philanthropist’s former employees in Colorado today who wish to God that they were in Belgium to be fed, or birds to be cared for tenderly.


By Gerald Stanley Lee

(Contemporary American author and lecturer, formerly a clergyman)

As I have watched my fellow human beings, what I have come to want most of all in this world is the inspired employer—or what I have called the inspired millionaire or organizer; the man who can take the machines off the backs of the people, and take the machines out of their wits, and make the machines free their bodies and serve their souls.


If we ever have the inspired employer, he will have to be made by the social imagination of the people, by creating the spirit of expectation and challenge toward the rich among the masses of the people....

Nothing is more visionary than trying to run a world without dreams, especially an economic world. It is because even bad dreams are better in this world than having no dreams at all that bad people so-called are so largely allowed to run it.

In the final and practical sense, the one factor in economics to be reckoned with is Desire.

The Dying Boss

By Lincoln Steffens

(American writer upon social problems, born 1866. A story of the political leader of a corrupt city, who lies upon his death-bed, and has asked to have the meaning of his own career made plain to him)

“What kind of a kid were you, Boss?” I began.

“Pretty tough, I guess,” he answered.

“Born here?”

“Yes; in the Third Ward.”

“Tough then as it is now?”

“Tougher,” he said.

“Produces toughness the way Kansas produces corn,” I remarked. “Father?” I asked.

“Kept a saloon; a driver before that.”

“Mother a girl of the ward?”

“Yes,” he said. “She was brought up there; but she came to this country with her father from England, as a baby.”


“What sort of woman was she?”

“Quiet,” he said; “always still; silent-like; a worker. Kept the old man straight—some; and me too—‘s well as she could. She’s th’ one that got him off th’ wagon and started in th’ liquor business.”

“You were poor people?”


“And common?”


“A child of the people,” I commented: “the common people.”

He nodded, wondering.

“One of the great, friendless mass of helpless humanity?”

He nodded.

“That wasn’t your fault, was it?” I said. “Not to blame for that? That’s not your sin, is it?”

He shook his head, staring, and he was so mystified that I said that most people were “pretty terribly punished for being born poor and common.” He nodded, but he wasn’t interested or enlightened, apparently. “And you learned, somehow, that the thing to do was to get yourself on, get up out of it, make a success of your life?”

“Yes,” he said slowly. “I don’t know how, but I did get that, somehow.”

“That was the ideal they taught you,” I said. “Never heard of getting everybody on and making a success of society; of the city and State?”

But this line of questioning was beyond him. I changed my tack....

“In that first interview we had,” I said, “you insisted that, while the business boss was the real boss, the[528] sovereign, you had some power of your own. And you described it today as the backing of your own ward, which, you said, you had in your pocket. When you became boss, you got the backing, the personal support, of other wards, didn’t you?”

“Seven of ’em,” he counted. “Made th’ leaders myself.”

“And you developed a big personal following in other wards, too?”

“Sure,” he said; “in every one of them. I was a popular leader; not only a boss, but a friend with friends, lots of ’em. The people liked me.”

“That’s the point,” I said. “The people liked you.”

He nodded warmly.

“The common people,” I went on, and he was about to nod, but he didn’t. And his fingers became still. “Your own people—the great helpless mass of the friendless mob—liked you.” His eyes were fixed on mine. “They followed you; they trusted you.”

I paused a moment, then I asked: “Didn’t they, Boss?”

“Yes,” he said with his lips alone.

“They didn’t set a watch on you, did they?” I continued. “They voted as you bade them vote, elected the fellows you put on the tickets of their party for them. And, after they elected them, they left it to them, and to you, to be true to them; to stick to them; to be loyal.”

His eyes fell to his fingers, and his fingers began again to pick.

“And when your enemies got after you and accused you,” I said, “the people stuck by you?”

No answer; only the fingers picked.


“The great, friendless mass—the hopeful, hopeless majority—they were true to you and the party, and they re-elected you.”

His eyes were on mine again, and there was light in them; but it was the reflected light of fire, and it burned.

“And you—you betrayed them,” I said; and I hurried on, piling on the fuel, all I had. “They have power, the people have, and they have needs, great common needs; and they have great common wealth. All your fat, rich franchises, all your great social values, the values added to land and franchise by the presence of the great, common, numerous mass, all the city’s public property—all are theirs, their common property. They own enough in common to meet all their great common needs, and they have an organization to keep for them and to develop for their use and profit all these great needed social values. It is the city; the city government; city, State, and national. And they have, they breed in their own ranks, men like you, natural political leaders, to go into public life and lead them, teach them, represent them. And they leave it all to you, trusting you. And you, all of you—not you alone, Boss, but all of you: ward leaders; State leaders; all the national political bosses—you all betray them. You receive from them their votes, so faithfully given, and you transform them into office-holders whom you teach or corrupt and compel to obey you. So you reorganize the city government. You, not the Mayor, are the head of it; you, not the council, are its legislature; you, not the heads of departments, are the administrators of the property and the powers of the people of your city; the common, helpless, friendless people. And, having thus organized and taken over all this power and property and—this beautiful faith,[530] you do not protect their rights and their property. What do you do with it, Boss?”

He started. He could not answer. I answered for him:

“You sell ’em out; you turn over the whole thing—the city, its property, and its people—to Business, to the big fellows; to the business leaders of the people. You deliver, not only franchises, privileges, private rights and public properties, and values, Boss: you—all of you together—have delivered the government itself to these men, so that today this city, this State, and the national government represent, normally, not the people, not the great mass of common folk, who need protection, but—Business; preferably bad business; privileged business; a class; a privileged class.”

He had sunk back among the pillows, his eyes closed, his fingers still. I sounded him.

“That’s the system,” I repeated. “It’s an organization of social treason, and the political boss is the chief traitor. It couldn’t stand without the submission of the people; the real bosses have to get that. They can’t buy the people—too many of them; so they buy the people’s leaders, and the disloyalty of the political boss is the key to the whole thing.”

These was no response. I plumbed him again.

“And you—you believe in loyalty, Boss,” I said—“in being true to your own.” His eyes opened. “That’s your virtue, you say, and you said, too, that you have practiced it.”

“Don’t,” he murmured.


A Ballad of Dead Girls

By Dana Burnet

(American poet, born 1888)

Scarce had they brought the bodies down
Across the withered floor,
Than Max Rogosky thundered at
The District Leader’s door.
Scarce had the white-lipped mothers come
To search the fearful noon,
Than little Max stood shivering
In Tom McTodd’s saloon!
In Tom McTodd’s saloon he stood,
Beside the silver bar,
Where any honest lad may stand,
And sell his vote at par.
“Ten years I’ve paid the System’s tax,”
The words fell, quivering, raw;
“And now I want the thing I bought—
Protection from the law!”
The Leader smiled a twisted smile:
“Your doors were locked,” he said.
“You’ve overstepped the limit, Max—
A hundred women ... dead!”
Then Max Rogosky gripped the bar
And shivered where he stood.
“You listen now to me,” he cried,
“Like business fellers should!
”I’ve paid for all my hundred dead,
I’ve paid, I’ve paid, I’ve paid.“
His ragged laughter rang, and died—
For he was sore afraid.
”I’ve paid for wooden hall and stair,
I’ve paid to strain my floors,
I’ve paid for rotten fire-escapes,
For all my bolted doors.
“Your fat inspectors came and came—
I crossed their hands with gold.
And now I want the thing I bought,
The thing the System sold.”
The District Leader filled a glass
With whiskey from the bar,
(The little silver counter where
He bought men’s souls at par.)
And well he knew that he must give
The thing that he had sold,
Else men should doubt the System’s word,
Keep back the System’s gold.
The whiskey burned beneath his tongue:
“A hundred women dead!
I guess the Boss can fix it up,
Go home—and hide,” he said.

All day they brought the bodies down
From Max Rogosky’s place—
And oh, the fearful touch of flame
On hand and breast and face!
All day the white-lipped mothers came
To search the sheeted dead;
And Horror strode the blackened walls.
Where Death had walked in red.
But Max Rogosky did not weep.
(He knew that tears were vain.)
He paid the System’s price, and lived
To lock his doors again.

By William Shakespeare

(See pages 181, 492, 507)

The strongest castle, tower and town,
The golden bullet beats it down.

The Miner’s Tale

By May Beals

(A tragedy at Coal Creek, Tennessee, May 19, 1902)

The lord of us he lay in his bed—
Good right had he, good right!
But we were up before night had fled,
Out to the mine in the dawning red;
Slaves were we all, by hunger led
Into the land of night.
The master knew of our danger well,
We also knew—we knew.
His greed for profits had served him well,
But he over-reached him, as fate befell,
And I alone am left to tell,
Death’s horrors I lived through
The master dreamed, mayhap, of his gold,
But we were awake—awake,
Buried alive in the black earth’s mold;
And some who yet could a pencil hold,
Wrote till their hands in death grew cold,
For wife or sweetheart’s sake.
Letters they wrote of farewell—farewell,
To mother, sweetheart, wife:
What words of comfort could they tell—
Comfort for those who loved them well,
Up from the jaws of the earth’s black hell
That was crushing out their life.
The master cursed, as masters do—
Good right had he, good right!
But the fear of our vengeance stirred him, too;
He sailed, with some of his pirate crew,
To Europe, and reveled a year or two;
Great might has he—great might!



By Seymour Deming

(Contemporary American writer)

The old idea of romance: The country boy goes to the city, marries his employer’s daughter, enslaves some hundreds of his fellow humans, gets rich, and leaves a public library to his home town.

The new idea of romance: To undo some of the mischief done by the old idea of romance.

The Soul’s Errand

By Sir Walter Raleigh

(Written by the English soldier and statesman, 1552-1618, just before his execution)

Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give them all the lie.
Go tell the Court it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Go tell the Church it shows
What’s good, but does no good:
If Court and Church reply
Give Court and Church the lie.
Tell Potentates they live
Acting, but oh! their actions;
Not loved, unless they give,
Nor strong but by their factions:
If Potentates reply,
Give Potentates the lie.
Tell men of high condition,
That rule affairs of state,
Their purpose is ambition;
Their practice only hate:
And if they do reply,
Then give them all the lie....
Tell Physic of her boldness;
Tell Skill it is pretension;
Tell Charity of coldness;
Tell Law it is contention:
And if they yield reply,
Then give them all the lie....
So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing;
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing:
Yet stab at thee who will,
No stab the Soul can kill.


December 31st

By Lascelles Abercrombie

(Contemporary English poet)

What is he hammering there,
That devil swinking in Hell?
Oh, he forges a cunning New Year,
God knows he does it well.
Mill and harrow and rake,
A restless enginery
Of men and women to make
Cruelty, Harlotry.

Sisters of the Cross of Shame

By Dana Burnet

(See page 531)

The Sisters of the Cross of Shame,
They smile along the night;
Their houses stand with shuttered souls
And painted eyes of light.
Their houses look with scarlet eyes
Upon a world of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
And every man goes in.
The sober Senate meets at noon,
To pass the Woman’s Law,
The portly Churchmen vote to stem
The torrent with a straw.
The Sister of the Cross of Shame,
She smiles beneath her cloud—
(She does not laugh till ten o’clock,
And then she laughs too loud.)
And still she hears the throb of feet
Upon the scarlet stair,
And still she dons the cloak of shame
That is not hers to wear.
The sons of saintly women come
To kiss the Cross of Shame;
Before them, in another time,
Their worthy fathers came....
And no man tells his son the truth,
Lest he should speak of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
And every man goes in.

Bringing the Light

(From “A Bed of Roses”)

By W. L. George

(Contemporary English novelist. The life-story of a woman wage-earner who is driven by the pressure of want to a career of shame. In the following scene she argues with a suffrage-worker, who has called upon her, in ignorance of her true character)

The woman’s eyes were rapt, her hands tightly clenched, her lips parted, her cheeks a little flushed. But Victoria’s face had hardened suddenly.

“Miss Welkin,” she said quietly, “has anything struck you about this house, about me?”


The suffragist looked at her uneasily.

“You ought to know whom you are talking to,” Victoria went on, “I am a.... I am a what you would probably call ... well, not respectable.”

A dull red flush spread over Miss Welkin’s face, from the line of her tightly pulled hair to her stiff white collar; even her ears went red. She looked away into a corner.

“You see,” said Victoria, “it’s a shock, isn’t it? I ought not to have let you in. It wasn’t quite fair, was it?”

“Oh, it isn’t that, Mrs. Ferris,” burst out the suffragist, “I’m not thinking of myself.... Our cause is not the cause of rich women or poor women, of good women or bad; it’s the cause of woman. Thus, it doesn’t matter who she is, so long as there is a woman who stands aloof from us there is still work to do. I know that yours is not a happy life; and we are bringing the light.”

“The light!” echoed Victoria bitterly. “You have no idea, I see, of how many people there are who are bringing the light to women like me. There are various religious organizations who wish to rescue us and house us comfortably under the patronage of the police, to keep us nicely and feed us on what is suitable for the fallen; they expect us to sew ten hours a day for these privileges, but that is by the way. There are also many kindly souls who offer little jobs as charwomen to those of us who are too worn out to pursue our calling; we are offered emigration as servants in exchange for the power of commanding a household; we are offered poverty for luxury, service for domination, slavery to women instead of slavery to men. How tempting it is!” ...

The suffragist said nothing for a second. She felt shaken by Victoria’s bitterness.... “The vote does not mean everything,” she said reluctantly. “It will[540] merely ensure that we rise like the men when we are fit.”

“Well, Miss Welkin, I won’t press that. But now, tell me, if women got the vote to-morrow, what would it do for my class?”

“It would be raised....”

“No, no, we can’t wait to be raised. We’ve got to live, and if you ‘raise’ us we lose our means of livelihood. How are you going to get to the root cause and lift us, not the next generation, at once out of the lower depths?”

The suffragist’s face contracted.

“Everything takes time,” she faltered. “Just as I couldn’t promise a charwoman that her hours would go down and her wages go up the next day, I can’t say that ... of course your case is more difficult than any other, because ... because....”

“Because,” said Victoria coldly, “I represent a social necessity. So long as your economic system is such that there is not work for the asking for every human being—work, mark you, fitted to strength and ability—so long on the other hand as there is such uncertainty as prevents men from marrying, so long as there is a leisure class who draw luxury from the labor of other men; so long will my class endure as it endured in Athens, in Rome, in Alexandria, as it does now from St. John’s Wood to Pekin.”


The Selling of Love

(From “Love’s Coming of Age”)

By Edward Carpenter

(See page 186)

The commercial prostitution of love is the last outcome of our whole social system, and its most clear condemnation. It flaunts in our streets, it hides itself in the garment of respectability under the name of matrimony, it eats in actual physical disease and death right through our midst; it is fed by the oppression and the ignorance of women, by their poverty and denied means of livelihood, and by the hypocritical puritanism which forbids them by millions not only to gratify but even to speak of their natural desires; and it is encouraged by the callousness of an age which has accustomed men to buy and sell for money every most precious thing—even the life-long labor of their brothers, therefore why not also the very bodies of their sisters?

The Butcher’s Stall

(From “Les Villes Tentaculaires:” The Octopus Cities)

By Émile Verhaeren

(Belgian poet, born 1855. When Maurice Maeterlinck was suggested as a member of the French Academy, he recommended that the honor should be conferred upon Verhaeren instead. Beginning his career as a decadent and victim of disease, Verhaeren evolved into a rhapsodist of modern civilization. No poet has ever approached him in the portrayal and interpretation of factories, forges, railroads, and all the phenomena of industrialism. Of late he has become an ardent Socialist. The poem here quoted is from[542] a book portraying the sins and agonies of great cities. Only portions of the poem could be printed in a work intended for general circulation in English; but even of these passages the editor will venture the assertion that never before has the horror of prostitution been so packed into human speech)

Hard by the docks, soon as the shadows fold
The dizzy mansion-fronts that soar aloft,
When eyes of lamps are burning soft,
The shy, dark quarter lights again its old
Allurement of red vice and gold.
Women, blocks of heaped, blown meat,
Stand on low thresholds down the narrow street,
Calling to every man that passes;
Behind them, at the end of corridors,
Shine fires, a curtain stirs
And gives a glimpse of masses
Of mad and naked flesh in looking-glasses.
Hard by the docks
The street upon the left is ended by
A tangle of high masts and shrouds that blocks
A sheet of sky;
Upon the right a net of grovelling alleys
Falls from the town—and here the black crowd rallies
And reels to rotten revelry.
It is the flabby, fulsome butcher’s stall of luxury,
Time out of mind erected on the frontiers
Of the city and the sea.
Far-sailing melancholy mariners
Who, wet with spray, thru grey mists peer,
Cabin-boys cradled among the rigging, and they who steer
Hallucinated by the blue eyes of the vast sea-spaces,
All dream of it, evoke it when the evening falls;
Their raw desire to madness galls;
The wind’s soft kisses hover on their faces;
The wave awakens rolling images of soft embraces;
And their two arms implore
Stretched in a frantic cry towards the shore.
And they of offices and shops, the city tribes,
Merchants precise, keen reckoners, haggard scribes,
Who sell their brains for hire, and tame their brows,
When the keys of desks are hanging on the wall,
Feel the same galling rut at even-fall,
And run like hunted dogs to the carouse.
Out of the depths of dusk come their dark flocks,
And in their hearts debauch so rudely shocks
Their ingrained greed and old accustomed care,
That they are racked and ruined by despair.
It is the flabby, fulsome butcher’s stall of luxury,
Time out of mind erected on the frontiers
Of the city and the sea.
Come from what far sea-isles or pestilent parts?
Come from what feverish or methodic marts?
Their eyes are filled with bitter, cunning hate,
They fight their instincts that they cannot sate;
Around red females who befool them, they
Herd frenzied till the dawn of sober day.
The panelling is fiery with lewd art;
Out of the wall nitescent knick-knacks dart;
Fat Bacchuses and leaping satyrs in
Wan mirrors freeze an unremitting grin....
And women with spent loins and sleeping croups
Are piled on sofas and arm-chairs in groups,
With sodden flesh grown vague, and black and blue
With the first trampling of the evening’s crew.
One of them slides a gold coin in her stocking;
Another yawns, and some their knees are rocking;
Others by bacchanalia worn out,
Feeling old age, and, sniffing them, Death’s snout,
Stare with wide-open eyes, torches extinct,
And smooth their legs with hands together linked....
It is the flabby, fulsome butcher’s stall of luxury,
Wherein Crime plants his knives that bleed,
Where lightning madness stains
Foreheads with rotting pains,
Time out of mind erected on frontiers that feed
The city and the sea.

Fomá Gordyéeff

By Maxim Gorky

(Perhaps the most famous novel of the Russian writer, the life-story of the son of a prosperous merchant, a youth who wrecks himself in a vain search for some outlet for his energies, and at the end commits suicide)

“Where is the merchant to spend his energy? He cannot spend much of it on the Exchange, so he squanders the excess of his muscular capital in drinking-bouts in kabaky; for he has no conception of other applications of his strength, which are more productive, more valuable to life. He is still a beast, and life has already become to him a cage, and it is too nar[545]row for him with his splendid health and predilection for licentiousness. Hampered by culture, he at once starts to lead a dissolute life. The debauch of a merchant is always the revolt of a captive beast. Of course this is bad. But, ah! it will be worse yet, when this beast shall have gathered some sense and shall have disciplined it. Believe me, even then he will not cease to create scandals, but they will be historical events. For they will emanate from the merchant’s thirst for power; their aim will be the omnipotence of one class, and the merchant will not be particular about the means toward the attainment of this aim.

“Where am I to make use of my strength, since there is no demand for it? I ought to fight with robbers, or turn a robber myself. In general I ought to do something big. And that would be done, not with the head, but with the arms and breast. While here we have to go to the Exchange and try to aim well to make a rouble. What do we need it for? And what is it, anyway? Has life been arranged in this form forever? What sort of life is it, if everyone finds it too narrow for him? Life ought to be according to the taste of man. If it is narrow for me; I must move it asunder that I may have more room. I must break it and reconstruct it. But how? That’s where the trouble lies! What ought to be done that life may be freer? That I don’t understand, and that’s all there is to it!”


Venus Pandemos

By Richard Dehmel

(Contemporary German poet, born 1863)

This was the last time. I was lounging in
The night-café that lights the suburb gloom,
Tired with the reek of sultry sofa plush,
And with my glowing toddy, and the steam
Of women sweating in their gowns: tired, lustful.
Clouds of tobacco smoke were wavering through
The laughter and the haggling cries and shrieks
Of painted women and the men they drew.
The rattling at the sideboard of the spoons
Cheered on the hubbub of the mart of love
Uninterrupted like a tambourine....
I was about to choose, when, where I sate,
The crimson curtain of the door was split,
And a fresh couple entered. A cold draught
Cut through the heated room, and some one swore;
But through the crowd the pair stepped noiselessly.
Over against me at the transverse end
Of the corridor, whence they could sweep the room,
They took their seats. The chandelier of bronze
Hung o’er them like an awning heavy, old.
And no one seemed to know the couple, but
At my right hand I heard a hoarse voice pipe:
“I must have come across that pair before.”
He sat quite still. The loud gray of the air
Almost recoiled before his callous brow,
Which wan as wax rose into his sparse hair.
His great pale eye-lids hung down deep and shut,
On both sides lay around his sunken nose
Their shadows, and through his thin beard shone the skin.
And only when the woman at his side,
Less tall than he, and of a lissom shape,
Hissed, giggling, in his ear some obscene word,
Half rose of one black eye the heavy lid,
And slowly round he turned his long, thin neck,
As when a vulture lunges at a corpse.
And silent and more silent grew the room;
All eyes were fixed upon the silent guest,
And on the woman squatted, strange to see.
“She is quite young”—a whispering round me went;
And with a child’s greed she was drinking milk.
Yet almost old she seemed to me, whenever
Her tongue shot through a gap in her black teeth,
Her pointed tongue out of her hissing mouth,
While her gray, eager glance took in the room;
The gaslight in it shone like poisonous green.
And now she rose. He had not touched his glass;
A great coin lit the table. She went out;
He automatically followed her.
The crimson curtain round the door fell to,
Once more the cold draught shivered through the heat,
But no one cursed. Through me a shiver ran.
I did not choose a partner—suddenly
I knew them: it was Syphilis and Death.




Pictures of a terrible evil, and denunciations of it, which will be found especially timely at the present hour.


I Sing the Battle

(From “The Cry of Youth”)

By Harry Kemp

(See pages 37, 351)

I sing the song of the great clean guns that belch forth death at will.
Ah, but the wailing mothers, the lifeless forms and still!
I sing the songs of the billowing flags, the bugles that cry before.
Ah, but the skeletons flapping rags, the lips that speak no more!
I sing the clash of bayonets and sabres that flash and cleave.
And wilt thou sing the maimed ones, too, that go with pinned-up sleeve?
I sing acclaimèd generals that bring the victory home.
Ah, but the broken bodies that drip like honey-comb!
I sing of hearts triumphant, long ranks of marching men.
And wilt thou sing the shadowy hosts that never march again?



(From “Beyond the Breakers”)

By George Sterling

(See page 504)

The night was on the world, and in my sleep
I heard a voice that cried across the dark:
“Give steel!” And gazing I beheld a red,
Infernal stithy. There were Titans five
Assembled, thewed and naked and malign
Against the glare. One to the furnace throat,
Whence issued screams, fed shapes of human use—
The hammer, axe and plow. Those molten soon,
Another haled the dazzling ingot forth
With tongs, and gave it to the anvil. Two,
With massy sledges throbbing at the task,
Harried the gloom with unenduring stars
And poured a clangorous music on the dark,
With loud, astounding shock and counter-shock
Incessant. And the fifth colossus stood
The captain of that labor. From his form
Spread wings more black than Hell’s high-altar—ribbed
As are the vampire-bat’s. The night grew old,
And I was then aware they shaped a sword....
In that domain and interval of dream
’Twas dawn upon the headlands of the world,
And I, appalled, beheld how men had reared
A mountain, dark below the morning star—
A peak made up of houses and of herds,
Of cradles, yokes and all the handiwork
Of man. Upon its crest were gems and gold,
Rare fabrics, and the woof of humble looms.
Harvests and groves and battlements were made
Part of its ramparts, and the whole was drenched
With oil and wine and honey. Then thereon
Men bound their sons, the fair, alert and strong,
Sparing no household. And when all were bound,
Brands were brought forth: the mount became a pyre.
Black from that red immensity of flame,
A tower of smoke, upcoiling to the sky,
Was shapen by the winds, and took the form
Of him who in the stithy gave command.
A shadow between day and men he stood;
His eyes looked forth on nothingness; his wings
Domed desolations, and the scarlet sun
Glowed through their darkness like a seal that God
Might set on Hell forever. Then the pyre
Shrank, and he reeled. Whereat, to save that shape
Their madness had evoked in death and pain,
Men rose and made a second sacrifice.

Sartor Resartus

By Thomas Carlyle

(See pages 31, 74, 133, 488)

What, speaking in quite unofficial language, is the net-purport and upshot of war? To my own knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these, by certain “Natural Enemies” of the French, there are successfully selected, during the[554] French war, say thirty able-bodied men: Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them: she has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red, and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there till wanted. And now to that same spot, in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending; till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition, and Thirty stands fronting Thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word “Fire!” is given and they blow the souls out of one another, and in place of sixty brisk useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury, and anew shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the Devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart; were the entirest strangers; nay, in so wide a Universe, there was even, unconsciously, by Commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton! their Governors had fallen out; and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.—Alas, so is it in Deutschland, and hitherto in all other lands; still as of old, “what devilry soever Kings do, the Greeks must pay the piper!”—In that fiction of the English Smollett, it is true, the final Cessation of War is perhaps prophetically shadowed forth; where the two Natural Enemies, in person, take each a Tobacco-pipe, filled with Brimstone; light the same, and smoke in one another’s faces,[555] till the weaker gives in: but from such predicted Peace-Era, what blood-filled trenches, and contentious centuries, may still divide us!

The Soldier’s Oath

By Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany

(Speech delivered in 1891)

Recruits! Before the altar and the servant of God you have given me the oath of allegiance. You are too young to know the full meaning of what you have said, but your first care must be to obey implicitly all orders and directions. You have sworn fidelity to me, you are the children of my guard, you are my soldiers, you have surrendered yourselves to me, body and soul. Only one enemy can exist for you—my enemy. With the present Socialist machinations, it may happen that I shall order you to shoot your own relatives, your brothers, or even your parents—which God forbid—and then you are bound in duty implicitly to obey my orders.

The Coming of War

By Leo Tolstoy

(See pages 88, 110, 148, 276, 374, 416)

The bells will peal, long-haired men will dress in golden sacks to pray for successful slaughter. And the old story will begin again, the awful customary acts.

The editors of the daily Press will begin virulently to stir men up to hatred and manslaughter in the name of[556] patriotism, happy in the receipt of an increased income. Manufacturers, merchants, contractors for military stores, will hurry joyously about their business, in the hope of double receipts.

All sorts of Government officials will buzz about, foreseeing a possibility of purloining something more than usual. The military authorities will hurry hither and thither, drawing double pay and rations, and with the expectation of receiving for the slaughter of other men various silly little ornaments which they so highly prize, as ribbons, crosses, orders, and stars. Idle ladies and gentlemen will make a great fuss, entering their names in advance for the Red Cross Society, and ready to bind up the wounds of those whom their husbands and brothers will mutilate; and they will imagine that in so doing they are performing a most Christian work.

And, smothering despair within their souls by songs, licentiousness, and wine, men will trail along, torn from peaceful labor, from their wives, mothers and children—hundreds of thousands of simple-minded, good-natured men with murderous weapons in their hands—anywhere they may be driven.

They will march, freeze, hunger, suffer sickness, and die from it, or finally come to some place where they will be slain by thousands or kill thousands themselves with no reason—men whom they have never seen before, and who neither have done nor could do them any mischief.

And when the number of sick, wounded, and killed becomes so great that there are not hands enough left to pick them up, and when the air is so infected with the putrefying scent of the “food for powder” that even the authorities find it disagreeable, a truce will be made, the wounded will be picked up anyhow, the sick will be[557] brought in and huddled together in heaps, the killed will be covered with earth and lime, and once more all the crowd of deluded men will be led on and on till those who have devised the project, weary of it, or till those who thought to find it profitable receive their spoil.

And so once more men will be made savage, fierce, and brutal, and love will wane in the world, and the Christianizing of mankind, which has already begun, will lapse for scores and hundreds of years. And so once more the men who reaped profit from it all, will assert with assurance that since there has been a war there must needs have been one, and that other wars must follow, and they will again prepare future generations for a continuance of slaughter, depraving them from their birth.


By William Cowper

(English poet, 1731-1800)

O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more. My ear is pained,
My soul is sick, with every day’s report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled.
There is no flesh in man’s obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colored like his own; and having power
To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations, who had else
Like kindred drops been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worse than all, and most to be deplored,
As human nature’s broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.

The Biglow Papers

By James Russell Lowell

(These poems, first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1846, voiced the bitter opposition of New England to the Mexican war as a slave-holders’ enterprise)

Thrash away, you’ll hev to rattle
On them kittle-drums o’ yourn,—
‘Tain’t a knowin’ kind o’ cattle
Thet is ketched with mouldy corn;
Put in stiff, you fifer feller,
Let folks see how spry you be,—
Guess you’ll toot till you are yeller
‘Fore you git ahold o’ me!...
Ez fer war, I call it murder,—
There you hev it plain an’ flat;
I don’t want to go no furder
Than my Testyment fer that;
God hez sed so plump an’ fairly,
It’s ez long ez it is broad,
An’ you’ve got to git up airly
Ef you want to take in God.
‘Tain’t your eppyletts an’ feathers
Make the thing a grain more right;
‘Tain’t afollerin’ your bell-wethers
Will excuse ye in His sight;
Ef you take a sword an’ dror it,
An’ go stick a feller thru,
Guv’mint ain’t to answer for it,
God’ll send the bill to you.
Wut’s the use o’ meetin’-goin’
Every Sabbath, wet or dry,
Ef it’s right to go amowin’
Feller-men like oats an’ rye?
I dunno but wut it’s pooty
Trainin’ round in bobtail coats,—
But it’s curus Christian dooty
This ‘ere cuttin’ folks’s throats....
Tell ye jest the eend I’ve come to
Arter cipherin’ plaguey smart,
An’ it makes a handy sum, tu,
Any gump could larn by heart;
Laborin’ man an’ laborin’ woman
Hev one glory an’ one shame.
Ev’y thin’ thet’s done inhuman
Injers all on ’em the same.
‘Tain’t by turnin’ out to hack folks
You’re agoin’ to git your right,
Nor by lookin’ down on black folks
Coz you’re put upon by white;
Slavery ain’t o’ nary color,
‘Tain’t the hide thet makes it wus,
All it keers fer in a feller
‘S jest to make him fill its pus.

To a Nine-inch Gun

By P. F. McCarthy

(This poem came to the New York World office on a crumpled piece of soiled paper. The author’s address was given as Fourth Bench, City Hall Park)

Whether your shell hits the target or not,
Your cost is Five Hundred Dollars a Shot.
You thing of noise and flame and power,
We feed you a hundred barrels of flour
Each time you roar. Your flame is fed
With twenty thousand loaves of bread.
Silence! A million hungry men
Seek bread to fill their mouths again.



(From “The Present Hour”)

By Percy Mackaye

(American poet and dramatist, born 1875)

Crowned on the twilight battlefield, there bends
A crooked iron dwarf, and delves for gold,
Chuckling: “One hundred thousand gatlings—sold!”
And the moon rises, and a moaning rends
The mangled living, and the dead distends,
And a child cowers on the chartless wold,
Where, searching in his safety vault of mold,
The kobold kaiser cuts his dividends.
We, who still wage his battles, are his thralls,
And dying do him homage; yea, and give
Daily our living souls to be enticed
Into his power. So long as on war’s walls
We build engines of death that he may live,
So long shall we serve Krupp instead of Christ.

By The Empress Catherine II of Russia


The only way to save our empires from the encroachment of the people is to engage in war, and thus substitute national passions for social aspirations.


By Frederick the Great of Prussia


If my soldiers were to begin to reflect, not one of them would remain in the ranks.

Our Father Which Art in Heaven

(From “The Human Slaughter-House”)

By Wilhelm Lamszus

(A novel by a Hamburg school-teacher, published in 1913. Although banned by the authorities in some places, over 100,000 copies were sold in Germany in a few weeks)

We rejoined the Colors on Friday. On Monday we are to move out. Today, being Sunday, is full-dress Church Parade.

I slept badly last night, and am feeling uneasy and limp.

And now we are sitting close-packed in church.

The organ is playing a voluntary.

I am leaning back and straining my ears for the sounds in the dim twilight of the building. Childhood’s days rise before my eyes again. I am watching a little solemn-faced boy sitting crouched in a corner and listening to the divine service. The priest is standing in front of the altar, and is intoning the Exhortation devoutly. The choir in the gallery is chanting the responses. The organ thunders out and floods through the building majestically. I am rapt in an ecstasy of sweet terror, for the Lord God is coming down upon us. He is standing before me and touching my body, so that I have to close my eyes in a terror of shuddering ecstasy....


That is long, long ago, and is all past and done with, as youth itself is past and done with....

Strange! After all these years of doubt and unbelief, at this moment of lucid consciousness, the atmosphere of devoutness, long since dead, possesses me, and thrills me so passionately that I can hardly resist it. This is the same heavy twilight—these are the same yearning angel voices—the same fearful sense of rapture—

I pull myself together, and sit bolt upright on the hard wooden pew.

In the main and the side aisles below, and in the galleries above, nothing but soldiers in uniform, and all, with level faces, turned toward the altar, toward that pale man in his long dignified black gown, toward that sonorous, unctuous mouth, from whose lips flows the name of God.

Look! He is now stretching forth his hands. We incline our heads. He is pronouncing the Benediction over us in a voice that echoes from the tomb. He is blessing us in the name of God, the Merciful. He is blessing our rifles that they may not fail us; he is blessing the wire-drawn guns on their patent recoilless carriages; he is blessing every precious cartridge, lest a single bullet be wasted, lest any pass idly through the air; that each one may account for a hundred human beings, may shatter a hundred human beings simultaneously.

Father in Heaven! Thou art gazing down at us in such terrible silence. Dost Thou shudder at these sons of men? Thou poor and slight God! Thou couldst only rain Thy paltry pitch and sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. But we, Thy children, whom Thou hast created, we are going to exterminate them by high-pressure machinery, and butcher whole cities in factories. Here we stand, and while we stretch our hands to Thy Son in prayer,[564] and cry Hosannah! we are hurling shells and shrapnel in the face of Thy Image, and shooting the Son of Man down from His Cross like a target at the rifle-butts.

And now the Holy Communion is being celebrated. The organ is playing mysteriously from afar off, and the flesh and blood of the Redeemer is mingling with our flesh and blood.

There He is hanging on the Cross above me, and gazing down upon me.

How pale those cheeks look! And those eyes are the eyes as of one dead! Who was this Christ Who is to aid us, and Whose blood we drink? What was it they once taught us at school? Didst Thou not love mankind? And didst Thou not die for the whole human race? Stretch out Thine arms toward me. There is something I would fain ask of Thee.... Ah! they have nailed Thy arms to the Cross, so that Thou canst not stretch out a finger toward us.

Shuddering, I fix my eyes on the corpse-like face and see that He died long ago, that He is nothing more than wood, nothing other than a puppet. Christ, it is no longer Thee to whom we pray. Look there! Look there! It is he. The new patron saint of a Christian State! Look there! It is he, the great Genghis Khan. Of him we know that he swept through the history of the world with fire and sword, and piled up pyramids of skulls. Yes, that is he. Let us heap up mountains of human heads, and pile up heaps of human entrails. Great Genghis Khan! Thou, our patron saint! Do thou bless us! Pray to thy blood-drenched father seated above the skies of Asia, that he may sweep with us through the clouds; that he may strike down that accursed nation till it writhes in its blood, till it never can rise again. A red[565] mist swims before my eyes. Of a sudden I see nothing but blood before me. The heavens have opened, and the red flood pours in through the windows. Blood wells up on the altar. The walls run blood from the ceiling to the floor, and—God the Father steps out of the blood. Every scale of his skin stands erect, his beard and hair drip blood. A giant of blood stands before me. He seats himself backward on the altar, and is laughing from thick, coarse lips—there sits the King of Dahomey, and he butchers his slaves. The black executioner raises his sword and whirls it above my head. Another moment and my head will roll down on the floor—another moment and the red jet will spurt from my neck.... Murderers, murderers! None other than murderers! Lord God in Heaven!


The church door opens creaking—

Light, air, the blue of heaven, burst in.

I draw a breath of relief. We have risen to our feet, and at length pass out of the twilight into the open air.

My knees are still trembling under me.

We fall into line, and in our hob-nailed boots tramp in step down the street toward the barracks. When I see my mates marching beside me in their matter-of-fact and stolid way, I feel ashamed, and call myself a wretched coward. What a weak-nerved, hysterical breed, that can no longer look at blood without fainting! You neurasthenic offspring of your sturdy peasant forebears, who shouted for joy when they went out to fight!

I pull myself together and throw my head back.

I never was a coward, and eye for eye I have always looked my man in the face, and will so do this time, too, happen what may.


The War Prayer[Z]

By Mark Twain

(American humorist. See page 265. This “War Prayer,” withheld from publication until after Mark Twain’s death, pictures the assembling of soldiers in church, and the prayer of the chaplain for victory. In answer to the prayer, God sends down a white-robed messenger, who voices the unspoken meaning of the prayer.)

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love and who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset, and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord, and Thine shall be the praise and honor and glory now and ever, Amen.”

(After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak!—the messenger of the Most High waits.”


The Illusion of War

By Richard Le Gallienne

(American poet, born in England, 1866)

War I abhor, and yet how sweet
The sound along the marching street
Of drum and fife, and I forget
Wet eyes of widows, and forget
Broken old mothers, and the whole
Dark butchery without a soul.
Without a soul, save this bright drink
Of heady music, sweet as hell;
And even my peace-abiding feet
Go marching with the marching street—
For yonder, yonder goes the fife,
And what care I for human life!
The tears fill my astonished eyes,
And my full heart is like to break;
And yet ’tis all embannered lies,
A dream those little drummers make.
O, it is wickedness to clothe
Yon hideous grinning thing that stalks,
Hidden in music, like a queen,
That in a garden of glory walks,
Till good men love the thing they loathe.
Art, thou hast many infamies,
But not an infamy like this—
Oh, snap the fife, and still the drum,
And show the monster as she is!


Lay Down Your Arms

By Baroness Bertha von Suttner

(Austrian novelist and peace advocate, 1850-1914. Her protest against war, published in 1889, made a deep impression throughout Europe. In the following scene a woman is taken to visit a field of battle with the hospital-corps)

No more thunder of artillery, no more blare of trumpets, no more beat of drum; only the low moans of pain and the rattle of death. In the trampled ground some redly-glimmering pools, lakes of blood; all the crops destroyed, only here and there a piece of land left untouched, and still covered with stubble; the smiling villages of yesterday turned into ruins and rubbish. The trees burned and hacked in the forests, the hedges torn with grape-shot. And on this battle-ground thousands and thousands of men dead and dying—dying without aid. No blossoms of flowers are to be seen on wayside or meadow; but sabres, bayonets, knapsacks, cloaks, overturned ammunition wagons, powder wagons blown into the air, cannon with broken carriages. Near the cannon, whose muzzles are black with smoke, the ground is bloodiest. There the greatest number and the most mangled of dead and half-dead men are lying, literally torn to pieces with shot; and the dead horses, and the half-dead which raise themselves on their feet—such feet as they have left—to sink again; then raise themselves up once more and fall down again, till they only raise their head to shriek out their pain-laden death-cry. There is a hollow way quite filled with corpses trodden into the mire. The poor creatures had taken refuge there no doubt to get cover, but a battery has driven over them, and they[569] have been crushed by the horses’ hoofs and the wheels. Many of them are still alive—a pulpy, bleeding mass, but “still alive”.

And yet there is still something more hellish even than all this, and that is the appearance of the most vile scum of humanity, as it shows itself in war—the appearance and activity of “the hyenas of the battlefield.” “Then slink on the monsters who grope after the spoils of the dead, and bend over the corpses and over the living, mercilessly tearing off their clothes from their bodies. The boots are dragged off the bleeding limbs, the rings off the wounded hands, or to get the ring the finger is simply chopped off, and if a man tries to defend himself from such a sacrifice, he is murdered by these hyenas; or, in order to make him unrecognizable, they dig his eyes out.”

I shrieked out loud at the doctor’s last words. I again saw the whole scene before me, and the eyes into which the hyena was plunging his knife were Frederick’s soft, blue, beloved eyes.

“Pray, forgive me, dear lady, but it was by your own wish——”

“Oh, yes; I desire to hear it all. What you are now describing was the night that follows the battle; and these scenes are enacted by the starlight?”

“And by torchlight. The patrols which the conquerors send out to survey the field of battle carry torches and lanterns, and red lanterns are hoisted on signal poles to point out the places where flying hospitals are to be established.”

“And next morning, how does the field look?”

“Almost more fearful still. The contrast between the bright smiling daylight and the dreadful work of man on[570] which it shines has a doubly-painful effect. At night the entire picture of horror is something ghostly and fantastic. By daylight it is simply hopeless. Now you see for the first time the mass of corpses lying around on the lanes, between the fields, in the ditches, behind the ruins of walls. Everywhere dead bodies—everywhere. Plundered, some of them naked; and just the same with the wounded. Those who, in spite of the nightly labor of the Sanitary Corps, are still always lying around in numbers, look pale and collapsed, green or yellow, with fixed and stupefied gaze, or writhing in agonies of pain, they beg any one who comes near to put them to death. Swarms of carrion crows settle on the tops of the trees, and with loud croaks announce the bill of fare of the tempting banquet. Hungry dogs, from the villages around, come running by and lick the blood from wounds. Further afield there are a few hyenas to be seen, who are still carrying on their work hastily. And now comes the great interment.”

“Who does that—the Sanitary Corps?”

“How could they suffice for such a mass of work? They have fully enough to do with the wounded.”

“Then troops are detailed for the work?”

“No. A crowd of men impressed, or even offering themselves voluntarily—loiterers, baggage people, who are supporting themselves by the market-stalls, baggage-wagons and so forth, and who now have been hunted away by the force of the military operations, together with the inhabitants of the cottages and huts—to dig trenches—good large ones, of course—wide trenches, for they are not made deep—there is no time for that. Into these the dead bodies are thrown, heads up or heads down just as they come to hand. Or it is done in this way: A heap is made of the corpses, and a foot or two of earth[571] is heaped up over them, and then it has the appearance of a tumulus. In a few days rain comes on and washes the covering off the festering dead bodies! but what does that matter? The nimble, jolly grave-diggers do not look so far forward. For jolly, merry workmen they are, that one must allow. Songs are piped out there, and all kinds of dubious jokes made—nay, sometimes a dance of hyenas is danced round the open trench. Whether life is still stirring in several of the bodies that are shovelled into it or are covered with the earth, they give themselves no trouble to think. The thing is inevitable, for the stiff cramp often comes on after wounds. Many who have been saved by accident have told of the danger of being buried alive which they have escaped. But how many are there of those who are not able to tell anything! If a man has once got a foot or two of earth over his mouth he may well hold his tongue.”

Before Sedan

By Austin Dobson

(English poet and essayist, born 1840)

Here in this leafy place
Quiet he lies,
Cold, with his sightless face
Turned to the skies;
’Tis but another dead;
All you can say is said.
Carry his body hence,—
Kings must have slaves;
Kings climb to eminence
Over men’s graves;
So this man’s eye is dim;—
Throw the earth over him.


(From “The Present Hour”)

By Percy Mackaye

(One of a group of six sonnets, entitled “Carnage,” written in September, 1914)

So thin, so frail the opalescent ice
Where yesterday, in lordly pageant, rose
The monumental nations—the repose
Of continents at peace! Realities
Solid as earth they seemed; yet in a trice
Their bastions crumbled in the surging floes
Of unconceivable, inhuman woes,
Gulfed in a mad, unmeaning sacrifice.
We, who survive that world-quake, cower and start,
Searching our hidden souls with dark surmise:
So thin, so frail—is reason? Patient art—
Is it all a mockery, and love all lies?
Who sees the lurking Hun in childhood’s eyes?
Is hell so near to every human heart?


The Wife of Flanders

By Gilbert K. Chesterton

(See page 180)

Low and brown barns, thatched and repatched and tattered,
Where I had seven sons until to-day—
A little hill of hay your spur has scattered....
This is not Paris. You have lost your way.
You, staring at your sword to find it brittle,
Surprised at the surprise that was your plan;
Who, shaking and breaking barriers not a little,
Find never more the death-door of Sedan.
Must I for more than carnage call you claimant,
Pay you a penny for each son you slay?
Man, the whole globe in gold were no repayment
For what you have lost. And how shall I repay?
What is the price of that red spark that caught me
From a kind farm that never had a name?
What is the price of that dead man they brought me?
For other dead men do not look the same.
How should I pay for one poor graven steeple
Whereon you shattered what you shall not know?
How should I pay you, miserable people?
How should I pay you everything you owe?
Unhappy, can I give you back your honor?
Tho’ I forgave, would any man forget?
While all our great green earth has, trampled on her,
The treason and terror of the night we met.
Not any more in vengeance or in pardon,
One old wife bargains for a bean that’s hers,
You have no word to break; no heart to harden.
Ride on and prosper. You have lost your spurs.


By Carl Sandburg

(Contemporary American poet)

I have been watching the war map slammed up for advertising in front of the newspaper office.
Buttons—red and yellow buttons—blue and black buttons—are shoved back and forth across the map.
A laughing young man, sunny with freckles,
Climbs a ladder, yells a joke to somebody in the crowd,
And then fixes a yellow button one inch west
And follows the yellow button with a black button one inch west.
(Ten thousand men and boys twist on their bodies in a red soak along a river edge,
Gasping of wounds, calling for water, some rattling death in their throats.)
Who by Christ would guess what it cost to move two buttons one inch on the war map here in front of the newspaper office where the freckle-faced young man is laughing to us?


The Wine Press

By Alfred Noyes

(English poet, born 1880)

A Murdered man, ten miles away,
Will hardly shake your peace,
Like one red stain upon your hand;
And a tortured child in a distant land
Will never check one smile to-day,
Or bid one fiddle cease.

The News

It comes along a little wire,
Sunk in a deep sea;
It thins in the clubs to a little smoke
Between one joke and another joke,
For a city in flames is less than the fire
That comforts you and me.

The Diplomats

Each was honest after his way,
Lukewarm in faith, and old;
And blood, to them, was only a word,
And the point of a phrase their only sword,
And the cost of war, they reckoned it
In little disks of gold.
They were cleanly groomed. They were not to be bought.
And their cigars were good.
But they had pulled so many strings
In the tinselled puppet-show of kings
That, when they talked of war, they thought
Of sawdust, not of blood;
Not of the crimson tempest
Where the shattered city falls:
They thought, behind their varnished doors,
Of diplomats, ambassadors,
Budgets, and loans and boundary-lines,
Coercions and re-calls.

The Charge

Slaughter! Slaughter! Slaughter!
The cold machines whirred on.
And strange things crawled amongst the wheat
With entrails dragging round their feet,
And over the foul red shambles
A fearful sunlight shone....
The maxims cracked like cattle-whips
Above the struggling hordes.
They rolled and plunged and writhed like snakes
In the trampled wheat and the blackthorn brakes,
And the lightnings leapt among them
Like clashing crimson swords.
The rifles flogged their wallowing herds,
Flogged them down to die.
Down on their slain the slayers lay,
And the shrapnel thrashed them into the clay,
And tossed their limbs like tattered birds
Thro’ a red volcanic sky.



(From “Songs of Joy”)

By William H. Davies

(An English poet whose “Autobiography of a Super-tramp” was given to the world with an introduction by Bernard Shaw)

Ye Liberals and Conservatives,
Have pity on our human lives,
Waste not more blood on human strife;
Until we know some way to use
This human blood we take or lose,
’Tis sin to sacrifice our life.
When pigs are stuck we save their blood
And make puddings for our food,
The sweetest and the cheapest meat;
And many a woman, man and boy
Have ate those puddings with great joy,
And oft-times in the open street.
Let’s not have war till we can make,
Of this sweet life we lose or take,
Some kind of pudding of man’s gore;
So that the clergy in each parish
May save the lives of those that famish
Because meat’s dear and times are poor.


In Praise of the Warrior

(From “Don Quixote”)

By Miguel de Cervantes

(Best known of Spanish novelists, 1547-1616; himself a soldier, captured and made a galley-slave in Algiers)

I am not a barbarian, and I love letters, but let us beware of according them pre-eminence over arms, or even an equality with arms. The man of letters, it is very true, instructs and illuminates his fellows, softens manners, elevates minds, and teaches us justice, a beautiful and sublime science. But the warrior makes us observe justice. His object is to procure us the first and sweetest of blessings, peace, gentlest peace, so necessary to human happiness. This peace, adorable blessing, gift divine, source of happiness, this peace is the object of war. The warrior labors to procure it for us, and the warrior therefore performs the most useful labor in the world.

Song of the Exposition

By Walt Whitman

(See pages 184, 268)

Away with themes of war! away with War itself!
Hence from my shuddering sight, to never more return, that show of blacken’d, mutilated corpses!
That hell unpent, and raid of blood—fit for wild tigers, or for lop-tongued wolves—not reasoning men!
And in its stead speed Industry’s campaigns!
With thy undaunted armies, Engineering!
Thy pennants, Labor, loosen’d to the breeze!
Thy bugles sounding loud and clear!


Woman and War

(From “Woman and Labor”)

By Olive Schreiner

(See pages 240, 246, 504)

In supplying the men for the carnage of a battlefield, women have not merely lost actually more blood, and gone through a more acute anguish and weariness, in the months of bearing and in the final agony of child-birth, than has been experienced by the men who cover it; but, in the months of rearing that follow, the women of the race go through a long, patiently endured strain which no knapsacked soldier on his longest march has ever more than equalled; while, even in the matter of death, in all civilized societies, the probability that the average woman will die in child-birth is immeasurably greater than the probability that the average male will die in battle.

There is, perhaps, no woman, whether she have borne children, or be merely potentially a child-bearer, who could look down upon a battlefield covered with slain, but the thought would rise in her, “So many mothers’ sons! So many young bodies brought into the world to lie there! So many months of weariness and pain while bones and muscles were shaped within! So many hours of anguish and struggle that breath might be! So many baby mouths drawing life at women’s breasts;—all this, that men might lie with glazed eyeballs, and swollen faces, and fixed, blue, unclosed mouths, and great limbs tossed—this, that an acre of ground might be manured with human flesh, that next year’s grass or poppies or karoo bushes may spring up greener and redder, where they have lain, or that the sand of a plain may have the glint of white bones!”[580] And we cry, “Without an inexorable cause, this must not be!” No woman who is a woman says of a human body, “It is nothing!”

The Arsenal at Springfield

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Probably the most popular of American poets, 1807-1882)

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise—how wild and dreary—
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus—
The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
In long reverberations reach our own....
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
And; arrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals or forts.


War and Peace

By Benjamin Franklin

(American statesman, 1706-1790)

I join with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for, in my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace. What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of life might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of utility! What an extension of agriculture, even to the tops of the mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices and improvements, rendering England a complete paradise, might not have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief—in bringing misery into thousands of families, and destroying the lives of so many working people, who might have performed the useful labors.


A Prayer of the Peoples

(From “The Present Hour”)

By Percy Mackaye

(See pages 561, 572)

God of us who kill our kind!
Master of this blood-tracked Mind
Which from wolf and Caliban
Staggers toward the star of Man—
Now, on Thy cathedral stair,
God, we cry to Thee in prayer!
Where our stifled anguish bleeds
Strangling through Thine organ reeds,
Where our voiceless songs suspire
From the corpses in Thy choir—
Through Thy charred and shattered nave,
God, we cry on Thee to save!
Save us from our tribal gods!
From the racial powers, whose rods—
Wreathed with stinging serpents—stir
Odin and old Jupiter
From their ancient hells of hate
To invade Thy dawning state....
Lord, our God! to whom, from clay,
Blood and mire, Thy peoples pray—
Not from Thy cathedral’s stair
Thou hearest:—Thou criest through our prayer
For our prayer is but the gate:
We, who pray, ourselves are fate.



By the Great Indian, Chief Joseph

Hear me, my warriors; my heart is sick and sad;
Our chiefs are killed,
The old men are all dead,
It is cold and we have no blankets;
The little children are freezing to death.
Hear me, my warriors; my heart is sick and sad;
From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever!

A Project for a Perpetual Peace

By Jean Jacques Rousseau

(A document published 1756 in which the French philosopher outlined in detail a plan for a European federation, which seems in 1915 to have become the next step in civilization)

As a more noble, useful, and delightful Project never engaged the human mind, than that of establishing a perpetual peace among the contending nations of Europe, never did a writer lay a better claim to the attention of the public than he who points out the means to carry such a design into execution. It is indeed very difficult for a man of probity and sensibility, not to be fired with a kind of enthusiasm on such a subject; nay, I am not clear that the very illusions of a heart truly humane, whose warmth makes everything easily surmountable, are not in this case more eligible than that rigid and forbidding prudence, which finds in its own indifference and want of public spirit, the chief obstacle to everything that tends to promote the public good.


I doubt not that many of my readers will be forearmed with incredulity, to withstand the pleasing temptation of being persuaded; and indeed I sincerely lament their dullness in mistaking obstinacy for wisdom. But I flatter myself, that many an honest mind will sympathize with me in that delightful emotion, with which I take up the pen to treat of a subject so greatly interesting to the world. I am going to take a view, at least in imagination, of mankind united by love and friendship: I am going to take a contemplative prospect of an agreeable and peaceful society of brethren, living in constant harmony, directed by the same maxims, and joint sharers of one common felicity; while, realizing to myself so affecting a picture, the representation of such imaginary happiness will give me the momentary enjoyment of a pleasure actually present.

Let the People Vote on War

By Allen L. Benson

(American Socialist writer, born 1871)

Each voter should sign his or her name to the ballot that is voted. In counting, the ballots for war should be kept apart from the ballots against war. In the event of more than half of the population voting for war, those who voted for war should be sent to the front in the order in which they appeared at their respective polling places. Nobody who voted against war should be called to serve until everybody who voted for war had been sent to the front.




(German painter, 1827-1901. Painting in the Dresden Gallery)




French illustrator, 1833-1883.

(His pictures for Dante’s “Inferno” are well known)



(From “The Red Wave”)

By Joseph-Henry Rosny, the Elder

(French novelist, member of the Académie des Goncourts; born 1856. A novel of revolutionary Syndicalism. The present scene describes a debate organized between champions of the revolutionary and the conservative labor unions, the “Reds” and the “Yellows”; a grand Homeric combat of ideas, in which the audience is wrought to a furious pitch of excitement, and does as much talking as the orators. In the following extract, from about forty pages of mingled eloquence and humor, the champion of the “Reds” announces “the grave and dreadful problem of anti-militarism”)

A long shudder agitated the hostile crowds. All the wild beasts quivered in their cages. Rougemont, immobile, scarcely raised his hand; never before had his voice sounded more grave and more pathetic.

“Ah, yes! Question profound and dreadful. No one has been troubled by it more than I, for I am not among those bold internationalists who deny their country. I love my land of France. To make our happiness perfect, we must have the land of France. But who would dare to say that we, the poor, are any other thing upon that land than food for suffering and food for barracks? The worst Prussian, provided that he owns a coin of a hundred sous—is he not superior to the unhappy wretch who rummages in empty pockets? All the pleasures, all the beauty, all the luxury, our most beautiful daughters, belong to the rich cosmopolitan: he possesses the enchanter’s ring. If you have nothing, you will live more a stranger in your country than the dog of a swindling millionaire. If you have nothing, you will be insulted, scorned, hunted, locked in prison for vagabondage. La[586] patrie! La patrie of the poor! It is a fable, a symbol, an inscription upon a military-list or a school-book—the most bitter derision! Your right, unhappy ones—it is to suffer and defend the soil, which belongs to your master, to him who possesses. For him, for him alone, our France devotes each year a billion francs for army and navy....

“It is necessary purely and simply to suppress the budget of the army and navy,” thundered Rougemont, with such force that he broke the tumult. “France must give all at once, without hesitation, the example of disarmament. And that would be a thing so grand and so beautiful that the entire universe would applaud, that all humanity would turn toward her. From that day alone we should be at the head of the nations, and our country would become the country of free men!”

“Under the heel of Wilhelm!”

“A Poland!”

“Guts for the cats!”

“Sold! Rubbish! Meat for sheenies!”

“... living in boiling water like lobsters!”

All at once, the tumult sank. The voice of the orator forced itself upon the ear, high as a bell, precise as a clarion. “Free, superb, and triumphant! Queen of the peoples, goddess of the unfortunate! If we should disarm, before ten years, France would become a land of pilgrimage, the Mecca of men. Before twenty years, the other nations would have followed her example. As for making of us a Poland, let them try it! Have you then forgotten the teachings of history? Do you not know that our grand armies, our innumerable victories—we have won as many victories as all the rest of Europe together—have only ended in the crushing of Waterloo and the collapse of Sedan? On the contrary, Italy, dis[587]membered for centuries, Italy, which cannot count its defeats, is become a free nation. That is because it is inhabited by a race, clean and well-defined, upon which the foreigner has been unable to impress his mark. France enslaved, she, the most intelligent of nations, she who has had the most influence upon minds and hearts! Come now, that is not possible, that will never happen! But the people who would howl indignation at the dismembering of a disarmed France, would let a war-like France go down to ruin: she would be only one country like the others. So, I repeat it without scruple: it is necessary that we should give the magnificent example of disarmament. Only then shall we be a nation loved and admired among nations. Only then will all hearts turn toward us. Only then will the idea that anyone could touch France seem a sacrilege such as no tyrant would risk!”

The Dawn

By Émile Verhaeren

(In this play the Belgian poet has voiced his hopes for the regeneration of human society. The city of Oppidomagne is besieged by a hostile army, and the revolutionists in both armies conspire and revolt. The gates of the city are thrown open, and the end of war declared. A captain in the hostile army is speaking over the body of Hérénian, leader of the revolutionists in the city)

I was his disciple, and his unknown friend. His books were my Bible. It is men like this who give birth to men like me, faithful, long obscure, but whom fortune permits, in one overwhelming hour, to realize the supreme dream of their master. If fatherlands are fair, sweet to[588] the heart, dear to the memory, armed nations on the frontiers are tragic and deadly; and the whole world is yet bristling with nations. It is in their teeth that we throw them this example of our concord. (Cheers.) They will understand some day the immortal thing accomplished here, in this illustrious Oppidomagne, whence the loftiest ideas of humanity have taken flight, one after another, through all the ages. For the first time since the beginning of power, since brains have reckoned time, two races, one renouncing its victory, the other its humbled pride, are made one in an embrace. The whole earth must needs have quivered, all the blood, all the sap of the earth must have flowed to the heart of things. Concord and good will have conquered hate. (Cheers.) Human strife, in its form of bloodshed, has been gainsaid. A new beacon shines on the horizon of future storms. Its steady rays shall dazzle all eyes, haunt all brains, magnetize all desires. Needs must we, after all these trials and sorrows, come at last into port, to whose entrance it points the way, and where it gilds the tranquil masts and vessels.

(Enthusiasm of all; the people shout and embrace. The former enemies rise and surround the speaker. Those of Oppidomagne stretch their arms towards him.)


The Springtime of Peace

(From “Studies in Socialism”)

By Jean Léon Jaurés

(Editor of l’Humanité, and leader of the French Socialist movement, 1859-1914; probably the most eminent of Socialist parliamentarians, assassinated by a fanatic at the outbreak of the war with Germany. The following is the peroration of a speech delivered at an Anglo-French parliamentary dinner, 1903)

The majesty of suffering labor is no longer dumb: it speaks now with a million tongues, and it asks the nations not to increase the ills which crush down the workers by an added burden of mistrust and hate, by wars and the expectation of wars.

Gentlemen, you may ask how and when and in what form this longing for international concord will express itself to some purpose.... I can only answer you by a parable which I gleaned by fragments from the legends of Merlin, the magician, from the Arabian Nights, and from a book that is still unread.

Once upon a time there was an enchanted forest. It had been stripped of all verdure, it was wild and forbidding. The trees, tossed by the bitter winter wind that never ceased, struck one another with a sound as of breaking swords. When at last, after a long series of freezing nights and sunless days that seemed like nights, all living things trembled with the first call of spring, the trees became afraid of the sap that began to move within them. And the solitary and bitter spirit that had its dwelling within the hard bark of each of them said very low, with a shudder that came up from the deepest roots: “Have a care! If thou art the first to risk yielding to the wooing[590] of the new season, if thou art the first to turn thy lancelike buds into blossoms and leaves, their delicate raiment will be torn by the rough blows of the trees that have been slower to put forth leaves and flowers.”

And the proud and melancholy spirit that was shut up within the great Druidical oak spoke to its tree with peculiar insistence: “And wilt thou, too, seek to join the universal love-feast, thou whose noble branches have been broken by the storm?”

Thus, in the enchanted forest, mutual distrust drove back the sap, and prolonged the death-like winter even after the call of spring.

What happened at last? By what mysterious influence was the grim charm broken? Did some tree find the courage to act alone, like those April poplars that break into a shower of verdure, and give from afar the signal for a renewal of all life? Or did a warmer and more life-giving beam start the sap moving in all the trees at once? For lo! in a single day the whole forest burst forth into a magnificent flowering of joy and peace.

By Micah

(Hebrew prophet, B. C. 700)

He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.




The higher patriotism; the duty of man to his country as seen from the point of view of those who would make the country the parent and friend of all who dwell in it.


Our Country

(Read July 4, 1883)

By John Greenleaf Whittier

(New England Quaker poet, 1807-1892; a prominent anti-slavery advocate)

We give thy natal day to hope,
O country of our love and prayer!
Thy way is down no fatal slope,
But up to freer sun and air.
Tried as by furnace fires, and yet
By God’s grace only stronger made,
In future task before thee set
Thou shalt not lack the old-time aid.
Great, without seeking to be great
By fraud of conquest; rich in gold,
But richer in the large estate
Of virtue which thy children hold.
With peace that comes of purity,
And strength to simple justice due—
So runs our loyal dream of thee;
God of our fathers! make it true.
O land of lands! to thee we give
Our love, our trust, our service free;
For thee thy sons shall nobly live,
And at thy need shall die for thee.


The New Freedom

By Woodrow Wilson

(President of the United States, born 1856. The following is from his campaign speeches, 1912)

Are we preserving freedom in this land of ours, the hope of all the earth? Have we, inheritors of this continent and of the ideals to which the fathers consecrated it,—have we maintained them, realizing them, as each generation must, anew? Are we, in the consciousness that the life of man is pledged to higher levels here than elsewhere, striving still to bear aloft the standards of liberty and hope; or, disillusioned and defeated, are we feeling the disgrace of having had a free field in which to do new things and of not having done them?

The answer must be, I am sure, that we have been in a fair way of failure,—tragic failure. And we stand in danger of utter failure yet, except we fulfil speedily the determination we have reached, to deal with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts. Don’t deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of the great interests which now dominate our development. They are so great that it is almost an open question whether the government of the United States can dominate them or not. Go one step further, make their organized power permanent, and it may be too late to turn back. The roads diverge at the point where we stand.


An Ode in Time of Hesitation

By William Vaughn Moody

(In these noble words the poet voices his pain at the Philippine war, and the wave of “imperialism” which then swept over America)

Was it for this our fathers kept the law?
This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth?
Are we the eagle nation Milton saw
Mewing its mighty youth,
Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth,
And be a swift familiar of the sun
Where aye before God’s face his trumpets run?
Or have we but the talons and the maw,
And for the abject likeness of our heart
Shall some less lordly bird be set apart?—
Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat?
Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat?
Ah, no!
We have not fallen so.
We are our fathers’ sons: let those who lead us know!...
We charge you, ye who lead us,
Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain!
Turn not their new-world victories to gain!
One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays
Of their dear praise,
One jot of their pure conquest put to hire,
The implacable republic will require;
With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon,
Or subtly, coming as a thief at night,
But surely, very surely, slow or soon
That insult deep we deeply will requite.
Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity!
For save we let the island men go free,
Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts
Will curse us from the lamentable coasts
Where walk the frustrate dead,
The cup of trembling shall be drained quite,
Eaten the sour bread of astonishment,
With ashes of the heart shall be made white
Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent;
Then on your guiltier head
Shall our intolerable self-disdain
Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain;
For manifest in that disastrous light
We shall discern the right
And do it, tardily.—O ye who lead,
Take heed!
Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.

The Price of Liberty

By Thomas Jefferson

(See pages 228, 332)

Cherish the spirit of our people and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and[597] experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind; for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.

To the Goddess of Liberty

(New York Harbor)

By George Sterling

(See pages 504, 552)

Oh! is it bale-fire in thy brazen hand—
The traitor-light set on betraying coasts
To lure to doom the mariner? Art thou
Indeed that Freedom, gracious and supreme,
By France once sighted over seas of blood—
A beacon to the ages, and their hope,
A star against the midnight of the race,
A vision, an announcement? Art thou she
For whom our fathers fought at Lexington
And trod the ways of death at Gettysburg?
Thy torch is lit, thy steadfast hand upheld,
Before our ocean-portals. For a sign
Men set thee there to welcome—loving men,
With faith in man. Thou wast upraised to tell,
To simple souls that seek from over-seas
Our rumored liberty, that here no chains
Are on the people, here no kings can stand,
Nor the old tyranny confound mankind,
Sapping with craft the ramparts of the Law
For such, O high presentment of their dream!
Thy pathless sandals wait upon the stone,
Thy tranquil face looks evermore to sea:
Now turn, and know the treason at thy back!
Turn to the anarchs’ turrets, and behold
The cunning ones that reap where others sow!
In those great strongholds lifted to the sun
They plot dominion. Thronèd greeds conspire,
Half allied in a brotherhood malign,
Against the throneless many....
Would One might pour within thy breast of bronze
Spirit and life! Then should thy loyal hand
Cast down its torch, and thy deep voice should cry:
“Turn back! Turn back, O liberative ships!
Be warned, ye voyagers! From tyranny
To vaster tyranny ye come! Ye come
From realms that in my morning twilight wait
My radiant invasion. But these shores
Have known me and renounced me. I am raised
In mockery, and here the forfeit day
Deepens to West, and my indignant Star
Would hide her shame with darkness and the sea—
A sun of doom forecasting on the Land
The shadow of the sceptre and the sword.”


To the United States Senate

By Vachel Lindsay

(Upon the arrival of the news that the United States Senate had declared the election of William Lorimer good and valid)

And must the Senator from Illinois
Be this squat thing, with blinking, half-closed eyes?
This brazen gutter idol, reared to power
Upon a leering pyramid of lies?
And must the Senator from Illinois
Be the world’s proverb of successful shame,
Dazzling all State house flies that steal and steal,
Who, when the sad State spares them, count it fame?
If once or twice within his new won hall
His vote had counted for the broken men;
If in his early days he wrought some good—
We might a great soul’s sins forgive him then.
But must the Senator from Illinois
Be vindicated by fat kings of gold?
And must he be belauded by the smirched,
The sleek, uncanny chiefs in lies grown old?
Be warned, O wanton ones, who shielded him—
Black wrath awaits. You all shall eat the dust.
You dare not say: “Tomorrow will bring peace;
Let us make merry, and go forth in lust.”
What will you trading frogs do on a day
When Armageddon thunders thro’ the land;
When each sad patriot rises, mad with shame,
His ballot or his musket in his hand?


The Duty of Civil Disobedience

By Henry David Thoreau

(See page 295)

What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote and a feeble countenance and God-speed, to the right, as it goes by them.

A Prophecy

(Written during the Revolutionary War)

By Thomas Jefferson

(See pages 228, 332, 596)

The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may become persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated that the time for fixing essential right, on a legal basis, is while our rulers are honest, ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The[601] shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will be heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.

An Election Campaign in New York

(From “The House of Bondage”)

By Reginald Wright Kauffman

(See pages 53, 167)

For many days previously, any outsider, reading the newspapers or attending the mass-meetings in Cooper Union and Carnegie Hall, would have supposed that a prodigious battle was waging and that the result would be, until the last shot, in doubt. There were terrible scareheads, brutal cartoons, and extra editions. As the real problem was whether one organization of needy men should remain in control, or whether another should replace it, there were few matters of policy to be discussed; and so the speechmaking and the printing resolved themselves into personal investigations, and attacks upon character. Private detectives were hired, records searched, neighbors questioned, old enemies sought out, and family feuds revived. Desks were broken open, letters bought, anonymous communications mailed, boyhood indiscretions unearthed, and women and men hired to wheedle, to commit perjury, to entrap. Whatever was discovered, forged, stolen, manufactured—whatever truth or falsehood could be seized by whatever means—was blazoned in the papers, shrieked by the newsboys, bawled from the cart-tails at the corners under[602] the campaign banners, in the light of the torches and before the cheering crowds. It would be all over in a very short while; in a very short while there would pass one another, with pleasant smiles, in court, at church, and along Broadway, the distinguished gentlemen that were now, before big audiences, calling one another adulterers and thieves; but it is customary for distinguished gentlemen so to call one another during a manly campaign in this successful democracy of ours, and it seems to be an engrossing occupation while the chance endures.

The Doom of Empires

By Robert G. Ingersoll

(American lawyer and lecturer, 1833-1899)

The traveler standing amid the ruins of ancient cities and empires, seeing on every side the fallen pillar and the prostrate wall, asks why did these cities fall, why did these empires crumble? And the Ghost of the Past, the wisdom of ages, answers: These temples, these palaces, these cities, the ruins of which you stand upon, were built by tyranny and injustice. The hands that built them were unpaid. The backs that bore the burdens also bore the marks of the lash. They were built by slaves to satisfy the vanity and ambition of thieves and robbers. For these reasons they are dust.

Their civilization was a lie. Their laws merely regulated robbery and established theft. They bought and sold the bodies and souls of men, and the mournful wind of desolation, sighing amid their crumbling ruins, is a voice of prophetic warning to those who would repeat[603] the infamous experiment, uttering the great truth, that no nation founded upon slavery, either of body or mind, can stand.

The Statue of Liberty

(New York Harbor, A.D. 2900)

By Arthur Upson

(American poet, 1877-1908)

Here once, the records show, a land whose pride
Abode in Freedom’s watchword! And once here
The port of traffic for a hemisphere,
With great gold-piling cities at her side!
Tradition says, superbly once did bide
Their sculptured goddess on an island near,
With hospitable smile and torch kept clear
For all wild hordes that sought her o’er the tide.
’Twas centuries ago. But this is true:
Late the fond tyrant who misrules our land,
Bidding his serfs dig deep in marshes old,
Trembled, not knowing wherefore, as they drew
From out this swampy bed of ancient mould
A shattered torch held in a mighty hand.

By Francis Bacon

(English philosopher and statesman, father of modern scientific thought; 1561-1626)

Let states that aim at greatness take heed how their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast. For that maketh the common subject grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and in effect but the gentleman’s laborer.


By Daniel Webster

(New England statesman and orator, 1782-1852)

The freest government cannot long endure when the tendency of the law is to create a rapid accumulation of property in the hands of a few, and to render the masses poor and dependent.

The Deserted Village

By Oliver Goldsmith

(English poet and novelist, 1728-1774)

Sweet-smiling village, loveliest of the lawn!
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green;
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain;
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries;
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o’ertops the mouldering wall;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler’s hand;
Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade—
A breath can make them, as a breath has made:
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England’s griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintained its man;
For him light labor spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are altered: trade’s unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scattered hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose;
And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride,
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that asked but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Lived in each look, and brightened all the green—
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more....
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen, who survey
The rich man’s joys increase, the poor’s decay,
’Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting Folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards, e’en beyond the miser’s wish, abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains; this wealth is but a name,
That leaves our useful products still the same.
Not so the loss: the man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied;
Space for his lake, his park’s extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Has robbed the neighboring fields of half their growth;
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies;
While thus the land, adorned for pleasure all,
In barren splendor, feebly waits the fall....
Where then, ah! where, shall poverty reside,
To ‘scape the pressure of contiguous pride?
If, to some common’s fenceless limits strayed,
He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,
Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,
And even the bare-worn common is denied.
If to the city sped, what waits him there?
To see profusion that he must not share;
To see ten thousand baneful arts combined
To pamper luxury, and thin mankind;
To see each joy the sons of pleasure know
Extorted from his fellow-creatures’ woe.
Here while the courtier glitters in brocade,
There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;
Here while the proud their long-drawn pomps display,
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.
The dome where Pleasure holds her midnight reign,
Here, richly decked, admits the gorgeous train;
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square—
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles e’er annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy!
Are these thy serious thoughts? Ah! turn thine eyes
Where the poor, houseless, shivering female lies;
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn;
Now lost to all—her friends, her virtue fled—
Near her betrayer’s door she lays her head;
And, pinched with cold, and shrinking from the shower,
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour
When, idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel, and robes of country brown....
O luxury! thou curst by Heaven’s decree,
How ill exchanged are things like these for thee!
How do thy potions, with insidious joy,
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy!
Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown,
Boast of a florid vigor not their own.
At every draught more large and large they grow,
A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe;
Till sapped their strength, and every part unsound,
Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round.


England in 1819

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

(See page 272)

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,—
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn—mud from a muddy spring,—
Rulers, who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow—
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,—
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,—
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed;
A Senate,—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,—
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

The Victorian Age

By Edward Carpenter

(See pages 186, 541)

I found myself—and without knowing where I was—in the middle of that strange period of human evolution, the Victorian Age, which in some respects, one now thinks, marked the lowest ebb of modern civilized society; a period in which not only commercialism in public life, but cant in religion, pure materialism in science, futility in social conventions, the worship of stocks and shares, the starving of the human heart, the denial of the human[609] body and its needs, the huddling concealment of the body in clothes, the “impure hush” on matters of sex, class-division, contempt of manual labor, and the cruel barring of women from every natural and useful expression of their lives, were carried to an extremity of folly difficult for us now to realize.

Coronation Day

(From “The People of the Abyss”)

By Jack London

(See pages 62, 125, 139, 519)

Vivat Rex Eduardus! They crowned a king this day, and there have been great rejoicing and elaborate tomfoolery, and I am perplexed and saddened. I never saw anything to compare with the pageant, except Yankee circuses and Alhambra ballets; nor did I ever see anything so hopeless and so tragic.

To have enjoyed the Coronation procession, I should have come straight from America to the Hotel Cecil, and straight from the Hotel Cecil to a five-guinea seat among the washed. My mistake was in coming from the unwashed of the East End. There were not many who came from that quarter. The East End, as a whole, remained in the East End and got drunk. The Socialists, Democrats, and Republicans went off to the country for a breath of fresh air, quite unaffected by the fact that four hundred millions of people were taking to themselves a crowned and anointed ruler. Six thousand five hundred prelates, priests, statesmen, princes and warriors beheld the crowning, and the rest of us the pageant as it passed.


I saw it at Trafalgar Square, “the most splendid site in Europe,” and the very innermost heart of the empire. There were many thousands of us,