The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Arena, by Various

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Arena
       Volume 4, No. 19, June, 1891

Author: Various

Editor: B. O. Flower

Release Date: August 24, 2006 [EBook #19110]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at







June, 1891
The New Columbus
The Unknown (Part I)
The Chivalry of the Press
Society’s Exiles
Evolution and Christianity
The Irrigation Problem in the Northwest
Revolutionary Measures and Neglected Crimes
Spencer’s Doctrine of Inconceivability
The Better Part
The Heiress of the Ridge
The Brook
Optimism, Real and False
The Pessimistic Cast of Modern Thought
July, 1891
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Plutocracy and Snobbery in New York
Should the Nation Own the Railways?
The Unknown (Part II)
The Swiss and American Constitutions
The Tyranny of All the People
Revolutionary Measures and Neglected Crimes, (Part 2d)
Æonian Punishment
The Negro Question
A Prairie Heroine
An Epoch-Marking Drama
The Present Revolution in Theological Thought
The Conflict Between Ancient and Modern Thought in the Presbyterian Church
August, 1891
The Unity of Germany
Should the Nation Own the Railways?
Where Must Lasting Progress Begin?
My Home Life
The Tyranny of Nationalism
Individuality in Education
The Working-Women of To-day
The Independent Party and Money at Cost
Psychic Experiences
A Decade of Retrogression
Old Hickory’s Ball
The Era of Woman
September, 1891
The Newer Heresies
Harvest and Laborers in the Psychical Field
Fashion’s Slaves
Un-American Tendencies
Extrinsic Significance of Constitutional Government in Japan
University Extension
Pope Leo on Labor
The Austrian Postal Banking System
Another View of Newman
Inter-Migration Rabbi
He Came and Went Again
O Thou Who Sighest for a Broader Field
An Evening at the Corner Grocery
October, 1891
James Russell Lowell
Healing Through the Mind
Mr. and Mrs. James A. Herne
Some Weak Spots in the French Republic
Leaderless Mobs
Madame Blavatsky at Adyar
Emancipation by Nationalism
Recollections of Old Play-Bills
The Microscope
A Grain of Gold
Religious Intolerance To-day
Social Conditions Under Louis XV
November, 1891
Pharisaism in Public Life
Cancer Spots in Metropolitan Life
The Saloon
Hot-beds of Social Pollution
The Power and Responsibility of the Christian Ministry
What the Clergy Might Accomplish


A portrait of B. O. Flower



No. XIX.

JUNE, 1891.



History repeats itself, but on new planes. Often, a symbol appears in one age, and the spirit of which it is the expression is revealed in another. Each answers the need of its own time. From the creative standpoint, which is out of time, spirit and symbol are one; but to us, who see things successively, they seem as prior and posterior.

If this be so, it should be possible for a thoughtful and believing mind in some measure to forecast the future from the record of the past. No doubt, past and present contain the germs of all that is to be, were the analyst omniscient. But it needs not omniscience roughly to body-forth the contours of coming events. It is done daily, on a smaller or larger scale, with more or less plausibility. All theories are grounded in this principle. And it is noticeable that, at this moment, such tentative prophesies are more than frequent, and more comprehensive than usual in their scope.

The condition of mankind, during the last quarter of the fifteenth century, bore some curious analogies to its state at present. A certain stage or epoch of human life seemed to have run its course and come to a stop. The impulses which had started it were exhausted. In the political field, feudalism, originally beneficent, had become tyrannous and stifling; and monarchy, at first an austere necessity, had grown to be, beyond measure, arrogant, selfish, and luxurious. In science, the old methods had proved themselves puerile and inefficient, and the leading scientists were magicians and 2witches; in literature, no poet had arisen worthy to strike the lyre that Chaucer tuned to music. As for religion, the corruptions of the papacy, and the corresponding degradation of the monasteries and of the priesthood generally, had brought it down from a region of sublime and self-abnegating faith, to a commodity for raising money, and a cloak to hide profligacy. Martin Luther was still in the womb of the future; and so were Shakespeare, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, and Oliver Cromwell. Pessimists were declaring, according to their invariable custom, that what was bad would get worse, and that what was good would disappear. But there were, scattered here and there throughout Christendom, a number of men of the profounder, optimistic tendency, who saw in existing abuses but the misuse or misapprehension of elements intrinsically good; who knew that evils bear in themselves the seeds of their own extirpation; and who believed that Providence, far from having failed in its design to secure the ultimate happiness of the human race, was bringing the old order of things to a close in order to provide place for something new and higher.

But that obstacle in the way of improvement which was apparently the most immovable, was the geographical one. The habitable earth was used up. Outside of Europe there was nothing, save inaccessible wilderness, and barren, boundless seas. There was nothing for the mass of men to do, and yet their energy and desire were as great as ever; there was nowhere for them to go, and yet they were steadily increasing in numbers. The Crusades had amused them for a while, but they were done with; the plague had thinned them out, and war had helped the plague; but the birth-rate was more than a match for both. A new planet, with all the fresh interests and possibilities which that would involve, seemed absolutely necessary. But who should erect a ladder to the stars, or draw them down from the sky within man’s reach? The one indispensable thing was also the one thing impossible.

If, next year, we were to learn that some miraculous Ericsson or Edison had established a practicable route to the planet Mars, and that this neighbor of ours in the solar system was found to be replete with all the things that we most want and can least easily get,—were such news to reach us, we might comprehend the sensation created in the Europe of 31492, four centuries ago, when it received the information that a certain Christopher Columbus had discovered a brand new continent, overflowing with gold and jewels, on the other side of the Atlantic. The impossible had happened. Our globe was not the petty sphere that it had been assumed to be. There was room in it for everybody, and a fortune for the picking up. And all the world, with Spain in the van, prepared to move on El Dorado. A whiff of the fresh Western air blew in all nostrils, and re-animated the moribund body of civilization. The stimulus of Columbus’ achievement was felt in every condition of human life and phase of human activity. Mankind once more saw a future, and bound up its loins to take advantage of it. Literature felt the electric touch, and blossomed in the unmatched geniuses of the Elizabethan age. Science ceased to reason à priori, and began to investigate and classify facts. Human liberty began to be conscious of thews and sinews, soon to be tested in the struggle of the Netherlands against Philip II. of Spain, and, later, in that of the people of England against their own Charles Stuart. Religion was heard to mutter something about the rights of private conscience, and anon the muttering took form in the heroic protest of the man of Eisleben. It was like the awakening in the palace of the Sleeping Beauty, in the fairy-tale. Columbus had kissed the lips of the Princess America, and at once the long-pent stream of old-world life dashed onward like a cataract.

A new world! Four hundred years have passed, and the New World is less a novelty than it was. We have begun to suspect that no given number of square miles of land, no eloquence and sagacity of paper preambles and declarations, no swiftness of travel nor instantaneousness of communication, no invincibility of ironclads nor refinement of society, no logic in religion, no gospel of political economy,—none of these and a hundred other things will read us the Riddle of the Sphinx. Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis! The elements of true life lie deeper and are simpler. Once more, it seems, we have reached the limits of a dispensation, and are halted by a blank wall. There is no visible way over it, nor around it. We cannot stand still; still less can we turn back. What is to happen? What happens when an irresistible force encounters an impenetrable barrier?

That was the question asked in Columbus’ day; and he 4found an answer to it. Are we to expect the appearance of a new Columbus to answer it again? To unimaginative minds it looks as if there were no career for a new Columbus. In the first place, population is increasing so fast that soon even the steppes of Russia and the western American plains will be overcrowded. Again, land, and the control of industries, are falling into the possession of a comparative handful of persons, to whom the rest of the population must inevitably become subject; or, should the latter rebel, the ensuing period of chaos would be followed, at best, by a return of the old conditions. Religion is a lifeless letter, a school of good-breeding, a philosophical amusement; the old unreasoning faith that moved mountains can never revive. Science advances with ever more and yet more caution, but each new step only confirms the conviction that the really commanding secrets of existence will forever elude discovery. Literature, rendered uncreative by the scientific influence, has fallen to refining upon itself, and photographing a narrow conception of facts. The exhausting heats of Equatorial Africa, and the paralyzing cold of the Poles, forbid the hope of successful colonization of those regions. Social life is an elaborate apeing of behavior which has no root in the real impulses of the human heart; its true underlying spirit is made up of hatred, covetousness, and self-indulgence. There are no illusions left to us, no high, inspiring sentiment. We have reached our limit, and the best thing to be hoped for now is some vast cataclysmal event, which, by destroying us out-of-hand, may save us the slow misery of extinction by disease, despair, and the enmity of every man against every other. What Columbus can help us out of such a predicament?

Such is the refrain of the nineteenth century pessimist. But, as before, the sprouting of new thought and belief is visible to the attentive eye all over the surface of the sordid field of a decaying civilization. The time has come when the spirit of Columbus’ symbol shall avouch itself, vindicating the patient purpose of Him who brings the flower from the seed. Great discoveries come when they are needed; never too early nor too late. When nothing else will serve the turn, then, and not till then, the rock opens, and the spring gushes forth. Who that has considered the philosophy of the infinitely great and of the infinitely minute 5can doubt the inexhaustibleness of nature? And what is nature but the characteristic echo, in sense, of the spirit of man?

Even on the material plane, there are numberless opportunities for the new Columbus. Ever and anon a canard appears in a newspaper, or a romance is published, reporting or describing some imaginary invention which is to revolutionize the economical situation. The problem of air-navigation is among the more familiar of these suggestions, though by no means the most important of them. No doubt we shall fly before long, but that mode of travel will be, after all, nothing more than an improvement upon existing means of intercommunication. After the principle has been generally adopted, and the novelty has worn off, we shall find ourselves not much better, nor much worse off than we were before. Flying will be but another illustration of the truth that competition is only intensified by the perfecting of its instruments. Men will still be poor and rich, happy and unhappy, as formerly. If I can go from New York to London in a day, instead of in a week, so also can those against whom I am competing. The idea that there is any real gain of time is an illusion; the day will still contain its four-and-twenty hours, and I shall, as before, sleep so many, play so many, and work so many. Relatively, my state will be unchanged.

More promising is the idea of the transformation of matter. Science is now nearly ready to affirm that substances of all kinds are specific conditions of etheric vortices. Vibration is the law of existence, and if we could control vibrations, we could create substances, either directly from the etheric base, or, mediately, by inducing the atoms of any given substance so to modify their mutual arrangement, or characteristic vibration, as to produce another substance. It is evident that if this feat is ever performed, it must be by some process of elemental simplicity, readily available for every tyro. A prophet has arisen, during these latter days, in Philadelphia, who somewhat obscurely professes to be on the track of this discovery. He is commonly regarded as a charlatan; but men cognizant of the latest advances of science admit themselves unable to explain upon any known principles the effects he produces. It need not be pointed out that if Mr. Keely, or any one else, has found a way to metamorphose 6one substance into another, the consequences to the world must be profound. Labor for one’s daily bread will be a thing of the past, when bread may be made out of stones by the mere setting-up of a particular vibration. The race for wealth will cease, when every one is equally able to command all the resources of the globe. The whole point of view regarding the material aspects of life will be vitally altered; leisure (so far as necessary physical effort is concerned) will inevitably be universal. For when we consider what have been the true motives of civilization and its appurtenances during the greater part of the historical period, we find it to be the desire to better our physical condition. It is commerce that has built cities, made railroads, laws, and wars, maintained the boundaries of nations, and kept up the human contact which we are accustomed to call society. When commerce ceases—as it will cease, when there is no longer any reason for its existence—all the results of it that we have mentioned will cease also. In other words, civilization and society, as we now know them, will disappear. Human beings will stay where they are born, and live as the birds do. There will be no work except creative or artistic work, done for the mere pleasure of the doing, voluntarily. Society will no longer be based upon mutual rivalries and the gain of personal advantage. Science will not be pursued on its present lines, or for its present ends; for when the human race has attained leisure and the gratification of its material wants, it would have no motives for further merely physical investigation.

This would seem to involve a new kind of barbarism. And so, no doubt, it would, were the discoveries of our Columbus to be limited to the material plane. But it is far more probable that material transubstantiation will be merely the corollary or accompaniment of an infinitely more important revelation and expansion in the spiritual sphere. What we are to expect is an awakening of the soul; the re-discovery and re-habilitation of the genuine and indestructible religious instinct. Such a religious revival will be something very different from what we have hitherto known under that name. It will be a spontaneous and joyful realization by the soul of its vital relations with its Creator. Ecclesiastical forms and dogmas will vanish, and nature will be recognized as a language whereby God converses with man. The 7interpretation of this language, based as it is upon an eternal and living symbolism, containing infinite depths beyond depths of meaning, will be a sufficient study and employment for mankind forever. Art will receive an inconceivable stimulus, from the recognition of its true significance as a re-humanization of nature, and from the perception of its scope and possibilities. Science will become, in truth, the handmaid of religion, in that it will be devoted to reporting the physical analogies of spiritual truths, and following them out in their subtler details. Hitherto, the progress of science has been slow, and subject to constant error and revision, because it would not accept the inevitable dependence of body on soul, as of effect on cause. But as soon as physical research begins to go hand-in-hand with moral or psychical, it will advance with a rapidity hitherto unimagined, each assisting and classifying the other. The study of human nature will give direction to the study of the nature that is not human; and the latter will illustrate and confirm the conclusions of the former. More than half the difficulties of science as now practised is due to ignorance of what to look for; but when it can refer at each step to the truths of the mind and heart, this obstacle will disappear, and certainty take the place of experiment.

The attitude of men towards one another will undergo a corresponding change. It is already become evident that selfishness is a colossal failure. Viewed as to its logical results, it requires that each individual should possess all things and all power. Hostile collision thus becomes inevitable, and more is lost by it than can ever be gained. Recent social theorists propose a universal co-operation, to save the waste of personal competition. But competition is a wholesome and vital law; it is only the direction of it that requires alteration. When the cessation of working for one’s livelihood takes place, human energy and love of production will not cease with it, but will persist, and must find their channels. But competition to outdo each in the service of all is free from collisions, and its range is limitless. Not to support life, but to make life more lovely, will be the effort; and not to make it more lovely for one’s self, but for one’s neighbor. Nor is this all. The love of the neighbor will be a true act of Divine worship, since it will then be acknowledged that mankind, though multiplied to 8human sense, is in essence one; and that in that universal one, which can have no self-consciousness, God is present or incarnate. The divine humanity is the only real and possible object of mortal adoration, and no genuine sentiment of human brotherhood is conceivable apart from its recognition. But, with it, the stature of our common manhood will grow towards the celestial.

Obviously, with thoughts and pursuits of this calibre to engage our attention, we shall be very far from regretting those which harass and enslave us to-day. Leaving out of account the extension of psychical faculties, which will enable the antipodes to commune together at will, and even give us the means of conversing with the inhabitants of other planets, and which will so simplify and deepen language that audible speech, other than the musical sounds indicative of emotion, will be regarded as a comic and clumsy archaism,—apart from all this, the fathomless riches of wisdom to be gathered from the commonest daily objects and outwardly most trivial occurrences, will put an end to all craving for merely physical change of place and excitement. Gradually the human race will become stationary, each family occupying its own place, and living in patriarchal simplicity, though endowed with power and wisdom that we should now consider god-like. The sons and daughters will go forth whither youthful love calls them; but, with the perfecting of society, those whose spiritual sympathies are closest will never be spatially remote; lovers will not then, as now, seek one another in the ends of the earth, and probably miss one another after all. Each member of the great community will spontaneously enlist himself in the service of that use which he is best qualified to promote; and, as in the human body, all the various parts, in fulfilling their function, will serve one another and the whole.

Perhaps the most legitimately interesting phase of this speculation relates to the future of these qualities and instincts in human nature which we now call evil and vicious. Since these qualities are innate, they can never be eradicated, nor even modified in intensity or activity. They belong with us, nay, they are all there is of us, and with their disappearance, we ourselves should disappear. Are we, then, to be wicked forever? Hardly so; but, on the 9contrary, what we have known as wickedness will show itself to be the only possible basis and energy of goodness. These tremendous appetites and passions of ours were not given us to be extinguished, but to be applied aright.

They are like fire, which is the chief of destroyers when it escapes bounds, or is misused; but, in its right place and function, is among the most indispensable of blessings. But to enlarge upon this thought would carry us too far from the immediate topic; nor is it desirable to follow with the feeble flight of our imagination the heaven-embracing orbit of this theme. A hint is all that can be given, which each must follow out for himself. We have only attempted to indicate what regions await the genius of the new Columbus; nor does the conjecture seem too bold that perhaps they are not so distant from us in time as they appear to be in quality. They are with us now, if we would but know it.





Translated from the author’s manuscript, by G. A. H. Meyer and J. H. Wiggin.

Croire tout découvert est une erreur profonde:

C’est prendre l’horizon pour les bornes du monde.

(To fancy all known is an error profound,—

The sky-line mistaking for earth’s utmost bound.)

The idea expressed in this distich is so self-evident that we might almost characterize it as trite. Yet the history of every science marks many eminent men, of superior intelligence, who have been arrested in the way of progress by a wholly contrary opinion, and have very innocently supposed that science had uttered to them her last word. In astronomy, in physics, in chemistry, in optics, in natural history, in physiology, in anatomy, in medicine, in botany, in geology, in all branches of human knowledge, it would be easy to fill several pages with the names of celebrated men who believed science would never pass the limits reached in their own time, and that nothing remained to be discovered thereafter. In the army of wise men now living it would not be difficult to name many distinguished scholars who imagine that, in the spheres whereof they are masters, it is needless to search for anything new.

It may be unbecoming to talk about one’s self, but as, on the one side, some have done me the honor to ask what I think of certain problems,—while, on the other side, I have been more than once accused of busying myself, in a rather unscientific way, with certain vague investigations,—I will begin by acknowledging that the maxim contained in the two verses of my motto has been the conviction of my whole life; and if, from my callow youth until this very day, I have been interested in the study of phenomena pertaining 11to the domain of inquiries called occult, such as magnetism, spiritualism, hypnotism, telepathy, ghost-seeing, it is because I believe we know next to nothing of what may be known, and that nearly everything still remains to be apprehended; for I believe the thirst for knowledge is one of our best faculties, the one most prolific, without which we should still be dwelling in an Age of Stone, inasmuch as it is our right, if not our duty, to seek the truth by all the methods accessible to our intellectual powers.

It is for this reason that I published among other things, in the course of the year 1865,—now a quarter-century past,—a treatise entitled Unknown Natural Forces, and touching certain questions analogous to those which are to occupy our attention in this paper; and so I ask my readers to note the following quotations therefrom, as an introduction to our present investigation:

It is foolish to suppose that all things are known to us.

True wisdom involves continual study.

In the month of June, 1776, a young man, the Marquis de Jouffroy, was experimenting upon the Doubs,1 with a steamboat forty feet long by six feet wide. For two years he had been inviting scientific attention to his invention; for two years he had insisted that steam was a powerful force, heretofore unappreciated. All ears remained deaf to his voice. Complete isolation was his sole recompense. When he walked through the streets of Beaume-les-Dames, a thousand jests greeted his appearance. They nicknamed him Jouffroy the Pump. Ten years later, having constructed a pyroscaphe [steamboat] which voyaged along the Saone, from Lyons to Isle Barbe, Jouffroy presented a petition to Cabinet Minister Calonne and to the Academy of Sciences. They refused even to look at his invention.

On August 9, 1803, Robert Fulton, the American, ascended the Seine in a novel steamboat, at a speed of six kilometers per hour. The Academy of Sciences and the government officials witnessed the experiment. On the tenth they had forgotten him, and Fulton departed to try his fortunes with his own countrymen.

In 1791 an Italian, named Galvani, suspended from the bars of his window at Bologna some flayed frogs, which he that morning had seen in motion on a table, although they had been killed the night before. This incident seemed incredible, and was unanimously rejected by those to whom he related it. Learned men would have considered it below their dignity to take any pains to verify his story, so sure were they of its impossibility. Galvani, however, had noticed that the maximum effect was produced when a metallic arc, of tin and copper, was brought into contact with the lumbar nerves and pedal extremities of a frog. Then the animal would be violently convulsed. The observer believed this came from a nervous fluid, and so he lost the advantage of his observations. It was reserved for Volta to really discover electricity.

Yet already Europe is furrowed by wagons drawn by flame-mouthed 12dragons. Distances have vanished before the patience of the humble workers of the world, which is reduced to pettiness by the genius of man. The longest journeys have become well-trodden promenades; the most gigantic tasks are accomplished under the potential and tireless hand of this unseen force; a telegraphic despatch flies, in the twinkling of an eye, from one continent to the other; without leaving our armchairs, we converse with the inhabitants of London and Saint Petersburg; yet these miracles pass unnoticed. We do not dream to what struggles, to what mortifications, to what persecutions, these wonders are due; and we do not reflect that the impossible of yesterday has become the actual of to-day.

There are men who call to us: “Halt, ye small scientists! We do not understand you! Consequently, you cannot yourselves comprehend what you are talking about!” We may reply: However narrow your judgment, your myopia does not afflict all mankind. It must be declared to you, gentlemen, that in spite of yourselves, despite your ravings, the chariot of human knowledge advances further than ever before, and will continue its triumphal march towards the conquest of new powers.

Like the spasms of Galvani’s frog, certain crude facts, about which you are skeptical, reveal the existence of natural forces as yet unknown. There is no effect without a cause. The human being is the least known of all beings within our ken. We have learned how to measure the sun, to traverse celestial distances, to analyze starlight; yet we are ignorant as to what we ourselves are. Man is a double being, homo duplex; and this double nature remains a mystery to himself. We think; but what is thought? Nobody can say. We walk; but what is this organic action? Nobody knows. My will is an immaterial force; all the faculties of my soul are immaterial; nevertheless, if I will to raise my arm, this volition overcomes matter. How does this power act? What mediation serves for the conveyance of the mental command, in order to produce a physical effect? As yet no one can answer.

Tell me how the optic nerve transmits to our mentality a vision of external objects! Tell me how thought conceives and where it resides, and of what nature is cerebral activity! Tell me…! But no! I could question you for ten years, without the greatest among you being able to solve the least of my riddles.

In this, as in the cases before adduced, we have the unknown for our problem. I am far from saying that the force brought into play in these phenomena can some day be employed like electricity or steam. Such a notion would be neither more nor less than absurd! Nevertheless, though differing essentially from those, occult force is not the less real.

Several years ago I designated this unknown force by the title psychical. This designation may well be retained.

Can we not find the happy medium between absolute negation and dangerous credulity? Is it reasonable either to deny everything we do not comprehend, or to accept all the fantasies engendered in the vortex of disordered imaginations? Can we not achieve at the same time the humility which becomes the weak and the dignity which befits the strong?

I conclude this statement as I began it, by declaring that it is not in favor of the Davenport Brothers that I plead; nor do I take up the gauntlet for any sect, for any group of people, or for any person whatsoever; but I contend in behalf of certain facts, of whose validity I was convinced years ago, though without understanding their cause.

13I beg the reader to excuse the length of this citation; but it seems to me to serve so naturally as an introduction to this present inquiry that even to-day, after a lapse of a quarter-century, I really see no important changes to be made in this old declaration, except to add that it now appears to me to have been rather audacious on the part of a man so very young, and that it forthwith won him many hearty enemies among the elect of science.

The experimental method is bound to conquer here, as everywhere. Let us, then, without partisanship, study the question under its divers aspects.


“The immortality of the soul is a matter so important,” writes Pascal, “that one must have lost all moral sensibility if he remains indifferent as to its nature.”

Why should we give up the hope of ever arriving at a knowledge of the nature of the thinking principle which animates us, and of ascertaining whether or not it outlives the destruction of the body? It must be admitted that hitherto science has taught us nothing on this fundamental subject. Is this any reason for renouncing the study of the problem? On this, as on many other points, we are not of the same mind as those material Positivists who declare themselves satisfied with not knowing anything. We think, on the contrary, that we should attack the problem by all methods, and not neglect a single hint which may aid the solution.

Personally, I declare that I have not yet discovered for myself one fact which proves with certainty the existence of soul as separate from body. Otherwise, however sublime astronomical science may be,—though it stand at the head of human researches, as the first, the most important, and the most widespread of all sciences,—I avow that, if the inductive method had permitted me to penetrate secrets of existence, I should inevitably have abandoned the science of the firmament, for that which would have dethroned the other through its prime and unequalled importance; since it would be superfluous for us to evade the fact that the gravest and most interesting of all questions, to ourselves, is that of our continuous personal existence. The existence of God, of the entire universe, touches us far less intimately. If we ever cease to live (for what is the span of a human life 14in the light of eternity!) it is a matter of utter indifference to us whether other things exist or not. Doubtless this reasoning is severely egotistic! Ah, how can it be otherwise?

If we have no clear and irrefutable proofs, we have still the aid of a goodly number of observations, establishing the conclusion that we are compassed about by a set of phenomena, and by powers differing from the physical order commonly observed day by day; and these phenomena urge us to pursue every line of investigation, having for its end a psychical acquaintance with human nature.

Let us begin at the beginning, with a recital of observations which, from their very nature, have the disadvantage of being very personal.


At the age of sixteen, on my way home one day from the Paris Observatory, I noticed, on the bookseller’s stand in the Galeries de l’Odeon, a green-covered volume entitled Le Livre des Esprits (Book of Spirits), by Allan-Kardec. I bought it, and read it through at a sitting. There was in it something unexpected, original, curious. Were they true, the phenomena therein recounted? Did they solve the great problem of futurity, as the author contended? In my anxiety to ascertain this I made the acquaintance of the high-priest, for Allan-Kardec had made of Spiritism a veritable religion. I assisted at the séances. I experimented and became myself a medium. In one of Allan-Kardec’s works, called Genesis, over the signature of Galilee, may be read a whole chapter on Cosmogony, which I wrote in a mediumistic condition.

I was at that time connected with the principal circles in Paris where these experiments were tried, and for two years I even filled the exacting position of secretary to one of these circles, an office which morally bound me not to be absent from a single séance.

Communications were received in three different ways: by writing with our own hands; by placing our hands upon planchette, in which a pencil was placed which did the writing; by raps beneath the table, or by movements which indicated certain letters, when the alphabet was repeated aloud by one of the sitters.

The first method was the only one in use in the Society for 15Spiritualist Study presided over by Allan-Kardec; but it is the method leaving the widest margin for doubt. Indeed, at the end of several years of experimenting in this fashion, the result was that I became skeptical even of myself, and for the reasons following.

It cannot be denied that, under mediumistic conditions, one does not write in his usual fashion. In the normal state, when we wish to write a sentence, we mentally construct that sentence—if not the whole of it, at least a part of it—before writing the words. The pen and hand obey the creative thought. It is not so when one writes mediumistically. One rests one’s hand, motionless but docile, on a sheet of paper, and then waits. After a little while the hand begins to move, and to form letters, words, and phrases. One does not create these sentences, as in the normal state, but waits for them to produce themselves. Yet the mind is nevertheless associated therewith. The subject treated is in unison with one’s ordinary ideas. The written language is one’s own. If one is deficient in orthography, the composition will betray this fault. Moreover, the mind is so intimately connected with what is written, that if it ponders something else, if the thoughts are allowed to wander from the immediate subject, then the hand will pause, or trace incoherent signs.

Such is the state of the writing-medium,—at least, so far as I have observed it in myself. It is a sort of auto-suggestive state. We are assured there are mediums who write so mechanically that they know not what they are writing, and record theses in strange tongues, on subjects concerning which they are ignorant; but this I have never been able to verify with any certainty.

A few years previous to my commencement of these studies, my illustrious friend Victorien Sardou had undergone similar experiences. As a medium he wrote descriptions of divers planets in our system, principally of Jupiter, and drew very odd pictures, representing the habitations of that planet. One of these pictures depicted the house of Mozart, while others represented the dwellings of Zoroaster and of Bernard Palissy, who seemed to be country neighbors in that immense planet. These habitations appeared to be aërial and of marvellous lightness. The first of them, Mozart’s, was essentially formed of musical instruments and indications, such as the staff, notes, and clefs. The second was 16principally bucolic. There were to be seen flowers, hammocks, swings, flying men; while underneath were intelligent animals, engaged in playing a novel game of tenpins, in which the sport did not lie in bowling the pins over, but in crowning their heads, as in the childish game of cup-and-ball. I reproduced this last design in the work entitled, Les Terres du Ciel (Heavenly Globes), page 180.

These curious drawings prove, beyond a peradventure, that the signature, Bernard Palissy in Jupiter, is apocryphal, and that it was not a spirit inhabitant of Jupiter who guided Victorien Sardou’s hand. Neither did the gifted author conceive these sketches beforehand, and execute them in pursuance of a deliberate purpose; but at that time he found himself in a mental condition similar to that above described. We may neither be magnetized nor hypnotized, nor put to sleep in any fashion, and yet the brain may remain alien to our mechanical productions. Its cells are functionally agitated, and doubtless act by a reflex impulsion on the motor nerves. We all then believed that Jupiter was inhabited by a superior race. These communications were the reflections of opinions generally held. In these days, however, nobody imagines anything of the kind about Jupiter. Moreover, spirit séances have never taught us the least thing in astronomy. Such manifestations in nowise prove the intervention of spirits. Have writing-mediums given us other proofs, more convincing? This question we will examine later.


The second method, planchette, is more independent. This little wooden writer became the fashion chiefly through Madame de Girardin. Its communications soothed her last days, and prepared her for a death fragrant with hope. She believed she was in communication with the spirits of Sappho, Shakespeare, Madame de Sévigné, and Molière; and amidst these convictions she died, without disquietude, without rebellion, without regret. She had introduced a taste for such experiments into the home of Victor Hugo, in Jersey. Nine years later, Auguste Vacquerie, in Les Miettes de l’Histoire (Crumbs of History), wrote as follows:

Madame de Girardin’s departure [from Jersey] did not abate my desire for experimenting with the tables. I pressed eagerly forward into this great marvel,—the half-opened door of death.

17No longer did I wait for the evening. At midday I began my investigations, and forsook them only with the dawn. If I interrupted myself at all during that time, it was only to dine. Personally I had no effect upon the table, and did not touch it; but I asked questions. The mode of communication was always the same, and I had accustomed myself to it. Madame de Girardin sent me two tablets from Paris,—a little tablet, one of whose legs was a pencil, for writing and drawing. A few trials proved that this tablet designed poorly and wrote badly. The other was larger, and consisted of a disk, or dial, whereon was inscribed the alphabet, the letters being designated by a movable pointer. This apparatus also was rejected after an unsuccessful trial, and I finally resumed the primitive process, which—simplified by familiarity and sundry convenient abbreviations—soon afforded all desirable rapidity. I talked fluently with the table, the murmur of the sea mingling with our conversation, whose mysteriousness was increased by the winter, at night, amidst storms, and through isolation. The table no longer responded by a few words merely, but by sentences and pages. It was usually grave and magisterial, but at times it would be witty and even comical. Sometimes it had an access of choler. More than once I was insolently reproved for speaking to it irreverently, and I confess to not feeling at ease until I had obtained forgiveness. The table made certain exactions. It chose the interlocutors it preferred. It wished sometimes to be questioned in verse, and was obeyed; and then it would answer in verse. All these dialogues were collected, not at the close of the séance, but at the moment, and under the dictation of the table. They will some day be published, and will propound an imperious problem to all intelligent minds thirsting for new truths.

If now asked for my explanation of all this, I hesitate to reply. I should not have hesitated in Jersey. I should have unhesitatingly affirmed the presence of spirits. It is not the opinion of Paris which now retards me. I know what respect is due to the opinion of the Paris of to-day, of that Paris so wise, so practical, and so positive, which believes in nothing but dancing skirts and brokers’ bulletins; but the capital’s shrugging shoulders would not compel me to lower my voice. I am even happy to say, in the face of Paris, that as to the existence of what are called spirits, I have no doubts. I have never had that fatuous vanity as to our race, which declares that the ascending ladder of being ends with man. I am persuaded that we have at least as many rounds above us as there are beneath our feet, and I believe as firmly in spirits above as I do in donkeys beneath. The existence of spirits once admitted, their intervention becomes merely a question of details. Why could they not communicate with man by some means, and why may not that means be a table? Because immaterial beings cannot move a table? But who can say these beings are immaterial? They also may have bodies, but more subtile than ours,—bodies as imperceptible to our sight, as light is to our touch. It is fairly presumable that there are transitional states between the human condition and the immaterial. Death comes after life, as man supersedes the animal. The inferior animals are men, with less soul. Man is an animal with more equipoise and self-direction. Death brings a condition of less materiality, but still with some matter left. I know therefore no reasonable argument against the reality of the table phenomena.

Nine years, however, have passed away since all this occurred. I gave up my daily interviews after a few months, for the sake of a friend whose insufficient mind could not bear these breaths from the unknown. I have never reperused the sheets whereon sleep the words which moved me so profoundly. I am no longer in Jersey, upon that rock lost among the waves, where the exile was torn from his native soil, away 18from life. Myself a living corpse, it did not astonish me to encounter the dead alive; and so little is certainty natural to man, that one may doubt even the things he has seen with his eyes and touched with his hands.

Finally, Victor Hugo, who assisted at these experiments, has said: “The moving and speaking table has been greatly ridiculed. Let us speak plainly! This ridicule is misplaced. It is the bounden duty of science to sound the depths of all phenomena. To ignore spiritualistic phenomena, to leave them bankrupt by inattention, is to make a bankrupt of truth itself.” (Les Genies [The Geniuses]: Shakespeare.)

It is table movements which are here spoken of, dictations by tipping or rapping; that is to say, by the third method heretofore referred to. This method has always appeared to be the most independent. In placing our fingers on a planchette, armed with a pencil, and in aiding its motions, we are brought into direct personal association with the results. We may be under the illusion that an outside spirit is guiding the hand, when we are unintentionally controlling it ourselves. We put questions relating to subjects which specially interest us. Passively we write things which we already know more or less about, and unconsciously inspire ourselves with the name of the personage invoked. Far more reliable are the answers given by a table.


Several persons place themselves around a table, their hands resting thereupon and await results. After a given time, if the required conditions for the production of the phenomena have been complied with, raps are heard, apparently within the table, and there are certain motions of the furniture. Sometimes the table tips on one or two legs, and slowly oscillates. Sometimes it rises entirely from the floor, and remains suspended, as if adhering to the palms lying upon it; and this lasts during ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Sometimes the table fastens itself to the floor with such tenacity that its weight seems to be doubled or tripled. At other times, and almost always when so requested by one of the sitters, a noise is heard like that of a saw, a hatchet, or a pencil at work. These are physical effects, which have been observed, and prove undeniably the existence of an unknown force.

This force is physical. If one perceived only movements devoid of purpose, blind and irrelevant, or movements only in sympathy with the will of the assistant, one might rest in 19the conclusion that there is a new and unknown force, which, mayhap, is a transmutation of one’s own nervous energy, derived from organic electricity, and this fact in itself would be important; but the blows are apparently struck inside the wooden substance of the table, and the movements are in response to questions put to invisible beings.

In this way did the phenomena begin in 1848, in the United States, when the Misses Fox heard, in their chamber, the noise of raps within the walls and furniture. When their father, after several months of vexatious inquiry, at last bethought himself of old ghost stories, and appealed to the cause of these noises, the cause answered the questions asked, by means of certain raps agreed upon, and declared itself to be the soul of a former proprietor, killed in that very house. This soul asked for their prayers, and for the burial of its former body.

Is this invisible cause within us, or is it outside of ourselves? Are we capable of doubling ourselves in some way, yet without knowing it,—of unconsciously giving, by mental suggestion, the answers to our own questions, and of so producing certain physical effects without being aware of it? Again, is there around us an intelligent atmosphere, a sort of spiritual cosmos? or are there invisible beings, who are not human, but so many gnomes, hobgoblins, or imps?—for such an invisible world may exist around us. Finally can these effects really come from the souls of the departed, who are able to return from the other world? And where is this other world? Four hypotheses thus present themselves.

The lifting of a table, the displacement of an object, might be attributed to an unknown force, developed by our nervous systems, or by some other means; at any rate, these movements do not prove the existence of an outside spirit. But when—by naming the letters of the alphabet or by pointing to them on a tablet—the table, by certain sounds in the wood, or by certain tips, composes an intelligent paragraph, we are compelled to attribute this intelligent effect to an intelligent cause. The medium himself may be the cause; and the easiest way would evidently be to admit that he is tricking us, either by simply striking the leg of the table with his foot, if he operates by raps, or by directing the movements of the table, through bearing upon it more or less heavily.

20This, indeed, happens very often, and is what discourages so many inquirers.

There are conditions, however, in which fraud is not supposable. The fact that phenomena can be counterfeited is no reason for concluding they do not exist. In experiments with magnetism and hypnotic suggestion, many delusions beset the experimenters, and there is more or less intentional foolery on the part of the subjects. Thus have I seen, at the prison-hospital of Salpétrière and elsewhere, young women outrageously deceiving the most serious investigators, who did not in the least suspect such insincerity. At market fairs there may often be seen booths where sleepwalkers are exhibited, who simulate genuine somnambulism more or less cleverly. Yet one would palpably err who should deny the existence of real magnetism, somnambulism, or hypnotic suggestion, because of these humbugs and mockeries.

Let us, therefore, pass by fraud, and examine cases where all the experimenters knew one another, and did not knowingly deceive, and thus let us consider a series of observed facts. Here are some communications for which I can vouch. They are sentences, dictated by raps:

God does not enlighten the world with thunder and meteors. He controls peacefully the stars which shine. Thus do divine revelations follow one another, with order, reason, and harmony.

Religion and Friendship are two companions, who help us along life’s painful road.

My brother: in the Law [this communication was addressed to an Israelite] revive thy memory! Saul came to the Pythoness of Endor, and begged her to raise the spirit of Samuel; and the spirit of Samuel appeared, announcing to the King the nation’s destiny and his own. (1 Samuel xxviii.) “The spirit [wind] bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (John iii. 8.)

This New Testament text was the more remarkable because it was written in Latin. Here, therefore, are intelligible sentences and accurate quotations. Could blind chance have composed them? Without forgetting possible imposition, our hypotheses still await explication.

Here are other specimens which demand a certain astuteness and decided mental struggle for their dictation. One paragraph begins thus: Suov imrap engèr. The other: 21Arevèlé suov neib. It is necessary to spell these two phrases backward, commencing at the end. Here the hypothesis of mental suggestion becomes very complicated, as also the theory of environment, and would imply special adroitness in the medium. Someone asked: “Why have you dictated thus?” The power replied: “In order to give you marvellous and unexpected evidence.”

Here is another communication of a different kind, beginning, Aimairs vn oo uu ssevt. To the demand what this bizarre assemblage of letters signified, the answer came: “Read every alternate letter!” This arrangement brought out these four lines:—

Amis, nous vous aimons bien tous,

Car vous êtes bons et fidèles.

Soyez unis en Dieu; sur vous

L’Esprit Saint étendra ses ailes.

This stanza may be translated thus:

You one and all, oh friends, we love,

For you are good, and faithful tread.

Be one in God; and then above

The Holy Ghost his wings will spread.

Surely this is sufficiently innocent of poetic pretension; but the mode of dictation was decidedly difficult. This somewhat reduced, as it seemed to us, the supposition of fraud, but did not altogether destroy it.

A communication of a yet different kind is an imitation of Rabelais, which is not so badly done, but cannot be well translated into English, because of its grotesque and idiomatic character.

As to the identity of spirits, even if it could be demonstrated that the preceding quotations emanated from disembodied minds, this would not be a sufficient reason for admitting that the signatures are not entirely apocryphal.


In a great many cases, too long to be reported in this essay, where the communicating cause has declared itself to be the soul of a certain dead person,—of a father, a mother, a child, or a kinsman,—names, dates, and details were given, which were absolutely in accordance with facts whereof the medium was ignorant; but in the cases where the identity appeared to be best indicated, the questioner had his 22hands resting on the table, repeated the alphabet, and might have unconsciously induced the result. You try to invoke a man who bore, let us suppose, the name of Charles. When the letter c is pronounced, you exercise your influence without knowing it. If the experiment is made by rocking the table; you exercise a different pressure at that particular moment. If the communication is by raps, and the letter passes without the expected sound, you naturally allow it to be seen that there is a mistake. We deceive ourselves without being aware of it. This frequently happened to me during two years with this word Charles, which was the name of my mother’s brother, living in New Orleans. During those two years he told me how he died; yet at that very time he was in the vigor of life. This was in 1860 and 1861, and he did not pass away till 1864. We had, therefore, been the dupes of an illusion.

Auto-suggestion, or self-suggestion, is also extremely frequent in these experiments, as well as with writing mediums. I have before my eyes some charming fables, published by Monsieur Jaubert, President of the Civil Tribunal of Carcassonne, and some delicate poems, obtained through planchette, by P. F. Mathieu,—besides some historic and philosophical works,—all leading to the conclusion that these mediums have written under their own influence; or, at best, affording no scientific proof of a foreign influence.

There remain still unexplained the raps, and the motion of objects more or less heavy. On this point I fully share the opinion of the great chemist, Mr. Crookes, who says:

When manifestations of this kind are exhibited, this remark is generally made: “Why do tables and chairs alone show these effects? Why is this the peculiar property of furniture?”

I might reply that I am simply observing and reporting facts, and that I need not enter into the whys and wherefores. Nevertheless it seems clear that if, in an ordinary dining-room, any heavy inanimate body is to be lifted from the floor, it cannot very well be anything except a table or a chair. I have numerous proofs that this property does not appertain alone to articles of furniture; but in this, as in other experimental demonstrations, the intelligence or force—whichever it be that produces these phenomena,—cannot choose but use objects appropriate to its ends.

At different times during my researches I have heard delicate raps, which sounded as if produced by a pin’s point; a cascade of piercing sounds, like those of a machine in full motion; detonations in the air; light and acute metallic taps; cracking noises, like those produced by a floor-polishing machine; sounds which resembled scratching; warbling, like that of birds.

23Each of these noises, which I have tested through different mediums, had its special peculiarity. With Mr. Home they were more varied; but, in strength and regularity, I have heard no sounds which could approach those which came through Miss Kate Fox. During several months I had the pleasure, on almost innumerable occasions, of testing the varying phenomena which took place in the presence of this lady, and it was the sounds which I specially studied. It is usually necessary with other mediums, in a regular séance, to sit awhile before anything is heard; but with Miss Fox it seems to be merely necessary to place her hand on something, no matter what, for the sounds to manifest themselves like a triplicated echo, and sometimes loud enough to be noticeable across several intervening rooms.

I have heard some of these noises produced in a living tree, in a large pane of glass, on a stretched wire, on a tambourine, on the roof of a cab, and in the box of a theatre. Moreover, immediate contact is not always necessary. I have heard these noises proceeding from the flooring and walls, when the medium’s hands and feet were tied, when he was standing on a chair, when he was in a swing suspended from the ceiling, when he was imprisoned in an iron cage, and when he lay in a swoon on a sofa. I have heard them proceed from musical glasses. I have felt them on my own shoulders, and under my own hands. I have heard them on a piece of paper, fastened between the fingers by a string through the corner of the sheet. With a full knowledge of the numerous theories which have been brought forward to explain these sounds, especially in America, I have tested them in every way I could devise, until it was no longer possible to escape the conviction that these sounds were real, and produced neither by fraud nor by mechanical means.

An important question forces itself upon our attention: Are these movements and noises governed by intelligence? From the very beginning of my investigations I have satisfied myself that the power producing these phenomena was not simply blind force, but that some intelligence directed it, or at least was associated with it. The noises, whereof I have spoken, were repeated a determinate number of times. They became either strong or feeble, at my request, and came from different places. By a vocabulary of signals previously agreed upon, the power answered questions, and gave messages with more or less accuracy.

The intelligence governing these phenomena is sometimes obviously inferior to that of the medium, and is often in direct opposition to his wishes. When a determination has been reached to do something which could not be regarded as quite reasonable, I have seen communications urging a reconsideration of the matter. This intelligence is at times of such a character that one is forced to believe it does not emanate from any person present. (Researches in Spiritualism, by William Crookes.)

This last sentence might be slightly modified, and the words forced to believe might be replaced by the words disposed to believe; for human nature is complex, and we are not perpetually the same, even to ourselves. What uncertainty we often find in our own opinions, upon points not yet elucidated; and this we feel, even when called upon to judge actions or events! Are we not sometimes contradictions to ourselves?

24Among the experiments made with these physical and psychical manifestations of the tables, I will mention, as among the best, those of Count de Gasparin, and of my sympathetic friend, Eugene Nus. The Count has obtained rotations, upliftings, raps, revelations of numbers previously thought of, movements without any human contact, and so on. He concludes that human beings are endowed with a fluid, with an unknown force, with an agency capable of impressing objects with the action determined by our wills. (On Table-turning, Supernaturalism in General, and Spirits.)

Eugene Nus has obtained, besides sentences dictated by the table, certain philosophic definitions given almost invariably in exactly a dozen words each. Here are some of them:

Geology: Studies in the transformation of the planets in their periods of revolution.

Astronomy: Order and harmony of the external life of worlds, individually and collectively.

Love: The pivot of mortal passion; attractive sexual force; the element of continuity.

Death: Cessation of individuality, disintegration of its elements, a return to universal life.

Let us note, in passing, the strangely singular fact of a departed soul declaring that death is always the cessation of individuality!

There are whole pages of this kind. Eugene Nus had, as companions in his experiments, Antony Méray, Toussenel, Franchot, Courbebaisse, a whole group of transcendental socialists. Well, this is absolutely the language of Fourier. The words aroma, passional, solidarity, clavier, composite, association, harmony, pivotal force, are in the vocabulary of the table. The author therefore inclines towards the following explanation, as given in his Choses de l’Outre Monde (Things of the Other World), Volume I. Paris, 1887.

Mysterious forces residing in human nature; emanations from inmost potentiality, unknown till our day; the duplication of our experimental power, which gives ability to think and act outside ourselves.

(To be concluded in July Arena.)

A portrait of Julius Chambers




In the splendid days of Rome, the editor was he who introduced the gladiators as they entered the arena to fight the tigers.

To-day, the editor directs the newspaper and he often affects to believe that his mission on earth is to fight the tiger himself.

The editor of this class is a barbarian who forgets that Rome is only a memory.

The successful editor of to-day recognizes the fact that the newspaper exists to amuse and instruct, to uphold public honor and private virtue quite as much as to denounce fraud or expose official corruption. The newspaper is powerful exactly in proportion as it is successful in representing the people who read it; in following, rather than dictating, their line of policy; and, whether it exists for the people or not, it certainly endures only by their sufferance and good-will. Therefore, it is well that we consider the relations of the people at large to the newspaper; then, the editor’s relation to his neighbors, the public; and, finally, the chivalry of editors toward each other.

The newspaper is so large a part of our modern life that it would be trivial to argue the question whether it can be dispensed with. Men who live abreast of the age cannot consent to miss a single day’s communion with the news of the world. The non-arrival of the mail will render an active man absent from town utterly miserable. The purchaser of the daily newspaper of to-day receives for the price of a half yard of calico a manufactured article that has required the employment of millions of capital to produce,—to say nothing of genius to sustain.

And he is often somewhat grateful.

But the chivalry of the public toward the newspaper is peculiar. The public would appear to believe that anything 26it can coax, wheedle, or extort from the newspaper is fair salvage from the necessary expenditures of life.

Recently I listened in amazement to the Rev. Robert Collyer boast at a Cornell University dinner of having beguiled the newspapers of the country. He told how he had schemed and got money to build a new church after the Chicago fire. He did not make it very clear that the civilized members of his race clamored for the new edifice, but he made painfully apparent his ideas of chivalry to the press.

“In this matter,” he began, “I have always been proud of the way in which I ‘worked the newspapers.’ I succeeded in raising the money, because I coaxed the editors into coöperating with me. I wrote long puffs about the congregation and its pastor, and got them printed. Then I hurried ’round with the subscription list and a copy of the paper.”

Of course, this was all said good-naturedly, was meant to be funny, and was uttered from a public rostrum with an utter obliviousness to the mental obliquity that a moment’s thought will disclose. It left upon my mind much the same impression as that once made by hearing an apparently respectable man boast of having stolen an umbrella out of a hotel rack.

Later in the evening, when the reverend gentleman occupied a seat near mine, I asked, with as much naiveté as I could command, if he had “worked” the plumbers, the architects, the masons, the carpenters, and the bell-founders? To each of these questions he returned a regretful, “No.”

Despite his apparent innocence regarding the purport of my inquiry, I doubt if this gentleman would have boasted that he secured his clothes for nothing, that he wheedled his chops from his butcher, or coaxed his groceries from the shopkeeper at the corner of his street.

And yet, he spoke with condescension of the editor and his means of livelihood!

Theoretically, the editor is the public’s mutton. Men who know him boast of their influence with him, and over him. They dictate his policy for him—or say they do, which, of course, is the same thing. Men who never saw him claim to own him. Strangers, casually introduced, ask him questions about his personal affairs that would be instantly resented in any other walk of life.

An experience of my own will illustrate what I mean. 27At a country house, near Philadelphia, I was introduced to a respectable-looking old man. In the period following dinner, as we sat on the porch to enjoy a smoke, this stranger interrogated me in the most offensive way. When he had paused for breath I gave him a dose of his own medicine. “The deadly parallel” column will tell the story.

I hear you are an editor?I am told you are a hatter?
Do most newspapers pay?Is hat-making profitable?
How much do editors earn?How much does your business net you yearly?
You began as a reporter?Grew up in the trade?
Does it require any education to be a reporter?You can “block a hat while I wait”?
Do you write shorthand?You can handle a hot goose?
Eh? used to?Could once?
Please write some: let’s see how it looks?Please take this hat and show me how it is put together.
Curious-looking characters, aren’t they?Have seen a great many queerly shaped hats in your time, no doubt?
How many columns can you write a day?How many hats can you make in a day?
Do you write by the column?Do you work by the piece?
What? Don’t write at all? How strange!—and so on.Ah? Don’t work any longer? Supposed every hatter made his own hats!—and so on.

The editor may be to blame for this state of things; but if so, his good-nature is responsible. He endures more than other men. He is often worried by the troubles of other people; but he never has been weaned from the milk of human kindness. He may be over-persuaded, he may be deceived, and editors have been fooled, like judge and jurors, by the perjured affidavit of apparently honorable men—but he still continues to believe in mankind.

The chivalry of the politician toward the press is comprehended to a nicety by every man who has served as a newspaper correspondent at Washington.

The average congressman thinks it clever to deceive a newspaper editor or correspondent. He believes they are to be “used,” whenever possible, for the congressman’s advantage. A correspondent is to be tricked or cajoled into 28praising the statesman, revising the bad English in his speeches, “saving the country and—the appropriations.” All the charities require and demand his aid, and, I am ashamed to say (knowing as I do what a hollow mockery some of the alleged charities really are), generally get the assistance they ask.

The chivalry of the press toward the public is unquestionable. The editor keeps awake nearly all night to serve it, and the facts are not altered because in best serving the public he serves himself.

Journalism, I regret to say, is often spoken of as a “profession,” and while we may accept the plebeian word “journalism,” as describing a daily labor, I sincerely desire to enter a protest against its designation as a profession. It seems entirely proper to me that this word be relegated to the pedagogue, the chiropodist, and the barn-storming actor who so boldly assert a right to its use.

The making of the newspaper is a mechanical art. It matters very little how much intelligence—or genius, if you prefer the word—enters into its production, the inter-dependence of the so-called “intellectual” branch of the paper upon its mechanical adjuncts is so great that it cannot be maintained that the manufactured article offered to purchasers in the shape of a newspaper is the product of any one lobe of brain tissue. Of what value are a hundred thousand copies of the best newspaper in this land, edited, revised and printed, if its circulation department break down at the critical moment? And what about the newsman? Who shall say that he does not belong to journalism? He’s to the service what the Don Cossack is to the Russian hosts. He’s the Cossack of journalism—our Cossack of the dawn!

While it is easy to determine the point at which the newspaper begins its existence, it would be very difficult indeed to decide exactly where it receives its finishing touches. For years, geographers wrangled regarding the point at which the day began. In other words, this being Monday, they quarrelled regarding the point at which the sun ceased to shine on Monday, and began to shine on Tuesday.

Philosophers who have discussed the nice points of the daily newspapers have claimed that it dates its origin from the paper mill; but I fail to see why, if we are to go back to the paper mill, we shall not go much further and seek the component 29parts from which the paper is originally made, showing at once the absurdity of any such an assumption. While not inclined to argue this point, it is my humble judgment that the newspaper begins its existence the moment the managing editor opens his desk for the day’s work. He is its main-spring! Whatever of distinctive character it possesses in methods of handling the news of the day it owes to him, and it is these very features that render one journal better or worse than others. He it is, as a rule, who establishes the chivalry of the press toward the public. It is he who decides the line of attack or defense when the vast interests which he represents are assailed.

The peculiar kind of mind required for such a post is probably not developed in any other known business. The longer a man has served the art, the more confidently he trusts to intuition and distrusts a decision based wholly upon experience. Several of the worst blunders ever made in American journalism have been committed after a careful study of the historical precedents. Throughout all his troubles, however, all his anxieties by day and by night—because his responsibilities never end—the managing editor’s thoughts are constantly dwelling upon the public service that may be rendered to the reading constituency behind him.

The executive head of a newspaper, great or small, lives in a glass house, with all the world for critics. Every act, no matter how suddenly forced upon him, no matter how careful his judgment, is open to the criticism of every person who reads his paper. The columns of printed matter are the windows of his soul.

These thoughts are all in the line of duty, somewhat selfish in their character, perhaps (because fidelity to the public is the only secret of success); but the sense of chivalry is there,—should be there and seen of all men, on every page of the printed sheet.

This idea of the newspaper’s duty to the public is a comparatively new phase of the journalistic art. It has arisen since the brilliant Round Table days of Bennett, Greeley, Webb, Prentice, and Raymond. Their standards were high. Their energy was tremendous. And when they came to blows the combat was terrific. But Greeley, the last survivor, found his Camlan in 1872. He was ambushed and came to his end much as King Arthur from a race that he 30had trusted and defended. In Greeley’s defeat for the Presidency all theorists who had dwelt upon the so-called “Power of the Press” received a shuddering blow. The men who had affected to believe that the press could make and unmake destinies began to count on their fingers the few newspapers that had opposed Horace Greeley. To their amazement they found that, excepting one journal in the metropolis, every daily paper in the land whose editor or chief stockholder did not hold a public office was marshalled in his support. The echoes of their enthusiasm can be heard even to this day. Some of those editors ranted and roared like Sir Toby Belch; but the professional politicians, serene and complacent as gulligut friars, saw their editorial antagonists routed—cakes, ale, and wine-coolers.

To the believers in printer’s ink, that presidential campaign was a revelation. Mr. Greeley was the most thoroughly defeated candidate this country has ever known.

I remember the period well, for I was a reporter on the Tribune, and as a correspondent travelled from Minnesota to Louisiana. It seemed utterly impossible in May that Mr. Greeley could fail of election; in September, his defeat was assured. That revolt of the people against the dictation of the newspapers was momentous in its results. The independent voter thoroughly asserted himself, and those editors who could be taught by the incident knew that the people resented their leadership. The one sad and pitiful thing about the affair was the ingratitude of the negro race. They deserted their apostle and champion. (I speak frankly, for I was born an abolitionist.)

Throughout the Civil War, the newspapers had harangued, badgered, and dictated; had bolstered up or destroyed men, character, and measures. It was well, perhaps, that the men who directed these same newspapers should be taught a severe lesson.

Without doubt, the stormy period in which Greeley, Bennett, Prentice, Webb, and Raymond tilted, was necessary as a preparatory era to the more brilliant age of chivalry that succeeded! We as a people were younger in journalism than in any other intellectual or mechanical art. Great statesmen had been grown in plenty—the very birth of the nation had found them full-fledged. A constellation of brilliant preachers of the Gospel and expounders of the 31law are remembered. We can all name them over from Jonathan Edwards to Theodore Parker and from John Marshall to Rufus Choate. Great mercantile families had been created, such as the Astors, the Grinells, the Bakers, Howlands, Aspinwalls, and Claflins.

Large fortunes had been amassed in commerce; but not an editor had been able to accumulate money enough to keep his own carriage!

Journalism languished until about 1840. The great public did not seem to require editors. The people of New York, possibly, persisted in remembering that the first man in this country to write an editorial article had been hanged in the City Hall Park. He had died heroically, immortalizing the occasion when he said: “I regret that I have only one life to give for my country.” But some people believed he had suffered death because he wrote editorial articles.

The art of making the newspaper steadily gained in public appreciation. To employ the simile chivalric, its young squires were changed into full-fledged knights by the propagation of a new idea, a new aim—the rendering of public service! True enough, the motto of the noblest English princedom, “Ich dien!” acknowledges the high duty of service; but, when proclaimed as a journalistic duty it took the form of a new tender of fidelity from the best men at court to the people at large. It was so accepted, and has drawn the people and the press closer together. It was as if these true knights drew their weapons before the public eye and offered a new pledge of fidelity in the thrilling old Norman usage of the word “Service!

A gleam of something higher and nobler than mere swashbuckling was in every editorial eye. The idea developed, as did the nobility and purity of Chivalry under Godfrey, the Agamemnon of Tasso. In all truly representative editorial minds the feeling grew that any power which their arms or training gave them should be exercised in the defense of the weak and oppressed. They renewed the old vow: “To maintain the just rights of such as are unable to defend themselves.” It was a great step—as far-reaching in its results as was the promulgation of that oath in the age of Chivalry.

At this point rose the reporter. He had been recognized for years as the coming servitor of the press. But a few of him in the early days had been dissolute, had written without 32proper regard to facts, and had brought discredit not only on himself but the chivalry which others believed in. He began to brace up, to pull himself together, to be better educated, to dress in excellent taste, and, above all, to write better copy. Henry Murger had published a series of sketches under the title “Scenes de La Vie de Bohéme.” These few pictures described the Paris life of that period, beyond a doubt; but here in New York a few bright men sought to revive the spirit and the couleur de rose of the Quartier Latin. It was a clever idea, but it didn’t last.

In one of the bleakest corners of the old graveyard at Nantucket stands a monument to Henry Clapp, the presiding genius of the Bohemian Club that sat for so many years in Phaff’s cellar on Broadway. Its roll contained many of the brightest names known in the history of the American press. They were true Bohemians,—once defined by George William Curtis as the “literary men who had a divine contempt for to-morrow.” How cleverly those choice spirits wrote and talked about their lives away back in the fifties. Get a file of the New York Figaro, or some of the Easy Chair papers in Harper’s of that period, and enjoy their cloud-land life! I only quote one sentence and it is from “the Chair,” though I half suspect Fitz James O’Brien, rather than George William Curtis, penned it:—

“Bohemia is a roving kingdom—a realm in the air, like Arthur’s England. It sometimes happens that, as a gipsy’s child turns out to be a prince’s child, who, perforce, dwells in a palace, so the Bohemian is found in a fine house and high society. Bohemia is a fairyland on this hard earth. It is Arcadia in New York.”

Ah! yes, this is all very beautiful, but rent had to be paid; and the literary workers of to-day never forget that journalism is the only branch of literature that from the outset enables a man to live and pay his way. And yet when we remember Henry Clapp, Fitz James O’Brien, N. G. Shepherd, and Ned Wilkins, we feel that every working newspaper man is better to-day because they struggled and starved; because they lived in the free air of Bohemia.

With the worker in the art, “the struggle for existence” begins with his first day’s apprentice task as a reporter. No man ever became a journalist who did not serve that 33apprenticeship. There is no hope for him outside of complete success. It requires several years for him to learn to get news and to properly write it. One failure will blight his entire career. Unlike any other commercial commodity, news once lost cannot be recouped.

Dr. Samuel Johnson was the first Parliamentary reporter. He got a list of the speakers, then went to his lodgings in a dingy court off Fleet Street and wrote out speeches for the Lords and the Commons. He did this for years and not one of the men so honored is on record as having denied the accuracy of the report(?). Dr. Johnson made the reputations of half a dozen men who are to-day mentioned among the great English orators. They were honorable men, as the world goes, but not one of them, except Edmund Burke, ever acknowledged his indebtedness to Samuel Johnson. I never have known a senator or congressman to thank a Washington correspondent for making his speech presentable to educated eyes. He has been known to grow warm in praise of all classes of humanity, from Tipperary to Muscovy, but never a word of commendation escapes his lips for a newspaper man. He believes in philanthropy, but as Napoleon said to Talleyrand, he “wants it to be a long way off!” (Je veux seulement que ce soit de la philanthropie lointaine.)

With the rise of journalistic chivalry came the search for news. It became a precious prize. The special correspondent and reporter sought it. Truth was to be rescued from oblivion! Facts began to be hunted for like the ambergris and ivory of commerce. At first the search resembled the quest for the Oracle of the Holy Bottle,—a test as to the public’s opinion of news. What kind of service did the public want? Adventure followed, as a matter of course, but love of adventure was not the impelling motive.

The American newspaper, like the American railroad, developed along new lines. Girardin, who had created all that is worth considering in the French press, had pinned his faith to the feuilleton and the snappy editorial article, with its “one idea only.” News was of no account. In the English journal, the supremacy of the editorial page was asserted and maintained. News was desirable but secondary; and there was no hurry about obtaining it. In the Spanish press blossomed—and has ever since bloomed—the paragraph. 34News was a good thing, if it could be told in a few lines, but generally, alas, dangerous. A paragraph must only be long enough to allow a cigarette to go out while you were reading it. Wax matches cost only a cuarta per box, but cigarettes were expensive. Beaumarchais understood the Spanish press when he put the famous epigram into “Figaro’s” lips: “So long as you print nothing, you may print anything.”

The chivalry of the editor toward his “esteemed contemporary” is a sad and solemn phase of this true commentary.

After you have carefully reread the “editorial” pages of two metropolitan journals from 1841 to date, and remember that the contemporaries of Guttenberg called printing “the black art,” you will marvel that public opinion has ever changed. If the contemporaries of the old Nuremberg printer had lived in 1882, and taken in the Tribune of February 25th, they would have gone out to gather faggots to roast an editor. The excuse for one of the most savage attacks ever made by one American editor upon another was that a rival had printed a private telegram, sent by an editor to the chief magistrate of the nation, which had found its way into wrong hands or had been “taken off the wires,” as many other messages had been before. And yet, young as I am, I remember that in 1871, the treaty of Washington was “acquired” by means even more questionable and printed entire, to the confusion and indignation of the United States Senators. The very same editor laid down a dictum that was thought to be very clever at the time: “It is the duty of our correspondents to get the news; it is the business of other people to keep their own secrets.” This was all very well in 1871, but in 1882, the moral “lay in the application on it.”

From the very moment in which the American newspaper attained a definite policy and impulse, its direction has been forward, and it has daily grown in wealth and popular respect.

I have called the special correspondent the knight errant of the newspaper. Let me prove it. The greatest, noblest of them all was J. A. MacGahan, of Khiva and San Stefano. He was an American, born in Perry County, Ohio. I can sketch his career in a few brief sentences: He was at law-school in Brussels when the Franco-Prussian war burst upon Europe, in 1870. Having had some experience as a writer 35for the press, he entered the field at once. Danger and suffering were his, though he did not achieve renown in that brief campaign. He then made his memorable ride to Khiva, and wrote the best book on Central Asia known to our language. Another turn of the wheel found him in Cuba describing the Virginius complications. There I first met him. Thence he returned to England, and sailed with Captain Young in the Pandora to the Arctic regions, making the last search undertaken for the lost crew of Sir John Franklin’s expedition. MacGahan returned to London in the spring of 1876 in time to read in the newspapers brief despatches from Turkey recounting the reported atrocities of the Bashi-Bazouks. He determined at once to go to Bulgaria. In a month’s time, he had put a new face on the “Eastern Question.” The great trouble between Christian and Turk was no longer confined to “the petty quarrel of a few monks over a key and a silver star,” as defined by the late Mr. Kinglake, but assumed proportions that could be discerned in every club and in every drawing-room of Imperial London. MacGahan had begun his memorable ride, the results of which will endure as long as Christianity! He visited Batak and painted in cold type what he saw. He caused the shrieks of the dying girls in the pillaged towns of Bulgaria to be heard throughout Christian Europe. A Tory minister, stanch in his fidelity to the “unspeakable Turk,” sent its fleet to the Dardanelles, but dared not land a man or fire a single gun. Popular England repudiated its old ally. And MacGahan rode onward and wrote sheaves of letters. In every hamlet he passed through, he said: “The Czar will avenge this! Courage, people; he will come!”

From that time history was made as by a cyclone. The Russian hosts were mobilized at Kischeneff, and the Czar of all the Russias reviewed them. Then the order to cross the Pruth was given, as MacGahan had foretold; our Knight Errant rode with the advanced guard. Through the changing fortune of the war, grave and gay, he passed. Much of his work, now preserved in permanent form, is the best of its kind in our language. The assault of Skobeleff on the Gravitza redoubt was immortalized by MacGahan’s pen. When Plevna fell, our hero was in the van during the mad rush toward the Bosphorus. The triumphant advance was never checked until the spires and minarets of Constantinople were 36in sight. Bulgaria was redeemed, the power of the Turk in Europe was broken, the aggrandizement of Russia was complete—and all because J. A. MacGahan had lived and striven.

At San Stefano, a suburb of the capital, on the Sea of Marmora, our hero died of fever. Skobeleff, whose friendship dated back to the Kirgitz Steppe and the Khivan conquest, closed his eyes and was chief mourner at his grave. To-day on the anniversary of his death, prayers for the repose of his soul are said in every hamlet throughout Bulgaria. His service to the newspaper and to the civilized world extended over less than eight years, but he accomplished for the public the work of a lifetime.

Hail to his memory! His was the chivalry of the press!

For years the name of Latour d’Auvergne, “first grenadier of France,” was called at nightfall in every regiment of the Imperial Grenadier Guard. When the name was heard, the first grenadier in the rank would answer, “Mort—sur le champ de bataille.”

So, when the roll is called of those that have added to the chivalry and glory of the American press, every fellow-laborer who knew “MacGahan of Kiva and San Stefano” will salute and answer: “Dead—and glorious!”

Philogeny, the new and brilliant science that treats of the development of the human race from the animal kingdom, teaches that the history of the germ is an epitome of the history of the descent. It is equally true in journalism, that the various forms of discouragement, hope, and final success through which the individual worker in the art passes, during his progress from the reportorial egg-cell to the fully developed executive-editorial organism, is a compressed reproduction of the long series of misfortunes and interferences through which the ancestors of the American newspaper of to-day have passed. The simile is true, aye, to the supreme part played by “the struggle for existence!” Under its influence, through the “natural selection” of the public, a new and nobler species of journalism has arisen and now exists. The newspaper of to-day, evolved from rudimentary forms, is a splendid and heroic organism; and the last upholder of the dogma of its miraculous creation and infallible power is dead.




It is difficult to over-estimate the gravity of the problem presented by those compelled to exist in the slums of our populous cities, even when considered from a purely economic point of view. From the midst of this commonwealth of degradation there goes forth a moral contagion, scourging society in all its ramifications, coupled with an atmosphere of physical decay—an atmosphere reeking with filth, heavy with foul odors, laden with disease. In time of any contagion the social cellar becomes the hotbed of death, sending forth myriads of fatal germs which permeate the air for miles around, causing thousands to die because society is too short-sighted to understand that the interest of its humblest member is the interest of all. The slums of our cities are the reservoirs of physical and moral death, an enormous expense to the State, a constant menace to society, a reality whose shadow is at once colossal and portentous. In time of social upheavals they will prove magazines of destruction; for while revolution will not originate in them, once let a popular uprising take form and the cellars will reinforce it in a manner more terrible than words can portray. Considered ethically, the problem is even more embarrassing and deplorable; here, as nowhere else in civilized society, thousands of our fellowmen are exiled from the enjoyments of civilization, forced into life’s lowest strata of existence, branded with that fatal word scum. If they aspire to rise, society shrinks from them; they seem of another world; they are of another world; driven into the darkness of a hopeless existence, viewed much as were lepers in olden times. Over their heads perpetually rests the dread of eviction, of sickness, and of failure to obtain sufficient work to keep life in the forms of their loved ones, making existence a perpetual nightmare, from which death alone brings release. Say not that they do not feel this; I have talked with them; I have seen the agony born of a fear that rests heavy on their 38souls stamped in their wrinkled faces and peering forth from great pathetic eyes. For them winter has real terror, for they possess neither clothes to keep comfortable the body, nor means with which to properly warm their miserable tenements. Summer is scarcely less frightful in their quarters, with the heat at once stifling, suffocating, almost intolerable; heat which acting on the myriad germs of disease produces fever, often ending in death, or, what is still more dreaded, chronic invalidism. Starvation, misery, and vice, trinity of despair, haunt their every step. The Golden Rule,—the foundation of true civilization, the keynote of human happiness,—reaches not their wretched quarters. Placed by society under the ban, life is one long and terrible night. But tragic as is the fate of the present generation, still more appalling is the picture when we contemplate the thousands of little waves of life yearly washed into the cellar of being; fragile, helpless innocents, responsible in no way for their presence or environment, yet condemned to a fate more frightful than the beasts of the field; human beings wandering in the dark, existing in the sewer, ever feeling the crushing weight of the gay world above, which thinks little and cares less for them. Infinitely pathetic is their lot.

The causes that have operated to produce these conditions are numerous and complex, the most apparent being the immense influx of immigration from the crowded centres of the old world; the glamor of city life, which has allured thousands from the country, fascinating them from afar much as the gaudy colors and tinsel before the footlights dazzle the vision of a child; the rapid growth of the saloon, rendered well-nigh impregnable by the wealth of the liquor power; the wonderful labor-saving inventions, which in the hands of greed and avarice, instead of mitigating the burdens of the people, have greatly augmented them, by glutting the market with labor; the opportunities given by the government through grants, special privileges, and protective measures for rapid accumulation of wealth by the few; the power which this wealth has given its possessors over the less fortunate; the spread of that fevered mental condition which subjects all finer feelings and holier aspirations to the acquisition of gold and the gratification of carnal appetites, and which is manifest in such a startling degree in the gambler’s world, 39which to dignify we call the realm of speculation; the desire for vulgar ostentation and luxurious indulgence, in a word the fatal fever for gold which has infested the social atmosphere, and taken possession of hundreds of thousands of our people, chilling their hearts, benumbing their conscience, choking all divine impulses and refined sensibilities; the cowardice and lethargy of the Church, which has grown rich in gold and poor in the possession of moral energy, which no longer dares to denounce the money changers, or alarm those who day by day are anæsthetizing their own souls, while adding to the misery of the world. The church has become, to a great extent, subsidized by gold, saying in effect, “I am rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing,” apparently ignorant of the fact that she “is wretched, poor, blind, and naked,” that she has signally failed in her mission of establishing on earth an ideal brotherhood. Instead of lifting her children into that lofty spiritual realm where each feels the misery of his brother, she has so far surrendered to the mammon of unrighteousness that, without the slightest fear of having their consciences disturbed, men find comfort in her soft-cushioned pews, who are wringing from ten to thirty per cent. profit from their fellowmen in the wretched tenement districts, or who refuse to pay more than twelve cents a pair for the making of pants, forty-five cents a dozen for flannel shirts, seventy-five cents a dozen for knee pants, and twenty-five cents a dozen for neckties. I refer not to the many noble exceptions, but I indict the great body of wealthy and fashionable churches, whose ministers do not know and take no steps to find out the misery that is dependent upon the avarice of their parishioners. Then again back of all this is the defective education which has developed all save character in man; education which has trained the brain but shriveled the soul. Last but by no means least is land speculation which has resulted in keeping large tracts of land idle which otherwise would have blossomed with happy homes. To these influences we must add the general ignorance of the people regarding the nature, extent, and growing proportions of the misery and want in the New World which is spreading as an Eastern plague in the filth of an oriental city.

It is not my present purpose to dwell further on the causes which have produced these conditions. I wish to bring 40home to the mind and heart of the reader a true conception of life in the slums, by citing typical cases illustrating a condition prevalent in every great city of the Union and increasing in its extent every year. I shall confine myself to uninvited want as found in civilized Boston, because I am personally acquainted with the condition of affairs here, and because Boston has long claimed the proud distinction of being practically free from poverty.

I shall briefly describe scenes which fell under my personal observation during an afternoon tour through the slums of the North End, confining myself to a few typical cases which fairly represent the condition of numbers of families who are suffering through uninvited poverty, a fact which I have fully verified by subsequent visits to the wretched homes of our very poor. I purposely omit in this paper describing any members of that terrible commonwealth where misery, vice, degradation, and crime are inseparably interwoven. This class belongs to a lower stratum; they have graduated downward. Feeling that society’s hand is against them, Ishmael-like they raise their hand against society. They complement the uninvited poor; both are largely a product of unjust and inequitable social conditions.

The scenes I am about to describe were witnessed one afternoon in April. The day was sunless and dreary, strangely in keeping with the environment of the exiles of society who dwell in the slums. The sobbing rain, the sad, low murmur of the wind under the eaves and through the narrow alleys, the cheerless frowning sky above, were in perfect harmony with the pathetic drama of life I was witnessing. Everything seemed pitched in a minor key, save now and then there swelled forth splendid notes of manly heroism and womanly courage, as boldly contrasting with the dead level of life as do the full rich notes of Wagner’s grandest strains with the plaintive melody of a simple ballad sung by a shepherd lad. I was accompanied in this instance by the Rev. Walter Swaffield, of the Bethel Mission, and his assistant, Rev. W. J. English.

A photograph of a man sitting in a chair, with his knees covered with a blanket.


The first building we entered faced a narrow street. The hallway was as dark as the air was foul or the walls filthy. Not a ray or shimmer of light fell through transoms or skylight. The stairs were narrow and worn. By the aid of matches we were able to grope our way along, and also to 41observe more than was pleasant to behold. It was apparent that the hallways or stairs were seldom surprised by water, while pure, fresh air was evidently as much a stranger as fresh paint. After ascending several flights, we entered a room of undreamed-of wretchedness. On the floor lay a sick man.2 He was rather fine-looking, with an intelligent face, bright eyes, and countenance indicative of force of character. No sign of dissipation, but an expression of sadness, or rather a look of dumb resignation peered from his expressive eyes. For more than two years he has been paralyzed in his lower limbs, and also affected with dropsy. The spectacle of a strong man, with the organs of locomotion dead, is always pathetic; but when the victim of such misfortune is in the depths of abject poverty, his case assumes a tragic hue. There for two years he had lain on a wretched pallet of rags, seeing day by day and hour by hour his faithful wife tirelessly sewing, and knowing full well that health, life, and hope were hourly slipping from her. This poor woman supports the invalid husband, her two children, and herself, by making pants at twelve cents a pair. No rest, no surcease, a perpetual grind from early dawn often till far into the night; and what is more appalling, outraged nature has rebelled; the long months of semi-starvation and lack of sleep have brought on rheumatism, which has settled in the joints of her fingers, so that every stitch means a throb of pain. The afternoon we called, she was completing an enormous pair of custom-made pants of very fine blue cloth, for one of the largest clothing houses in Boston. The suit would probably bring sixty or sixty-five dollars, yet her employer graciously informed his poor white slave that as the garment was so large, he would give her an extra cent. Thirteen cents for fine custom-made pants, manufactured for a wealthy firm, which repeatedly asserts that its clothing is not made in tenement houses! Thus with one of the most painful diseases enthroned in that part of the body which must move 42incessantly from dawn till midnight, with two small dependent children and a husband who is utterly powerless to help her, this poor woman struggles bravely and uncomplainingly, confronted ever by a nameless dread of impending misfortune. Eviction, sickness, starvation,—such are the ever-present spectres, while every year marks the steady encroachment of disease, and the lowering of the register of vitality. Moreover, from the window of her soul falls the light of no star athwart the pathway of life.

A photograph of two little girls with sewing in their laps.


The next place we visited was in the attic of a tenement building even more wretched than the one just described. The general aspects of these houses, however, are all much the same, the chief difference being in degrees of filth and squalor present. Here in an attic lives a poor widow with three children, a little boy and two little girls, Constance and Maggie.3 They live by making pants at twelve cents a pair. Since the youngest child was two and a half years old she has been daily engaged in overcasting the long seams of the garments made by her mother. When we first called she had just passed her fourth birthday, and now overcasts from three to four pairs of pants every day. There seated on a little stool she sat, her fingers moving as rapidly and in as unerring manner as an old experienced needlewoman. These three children are fine looking, as are most of the little Portuguese I visited. Their large heads and brilliant eyes seem to indicate capacity to enjoy in an unusual degree the matchless delight springing from intellectual and spiritual development. Yet the wretched walls of their little apartment practically mark the limit of their world; the needle their inseparable companion; their moral and mental natures hopelessly dwarfed; a world of wonderful possibilities denied them by an inexorable fate over which they have no control and for which they are in no way responsible. We often hear it said that these children of the slums are perfectly happy; that not knowing what they miss life is as enjoyable to them as the young in more favorable 43quarters. I am satisfied, however, that this is true only in a limited sense. The little children I have just described are already practically machines; day by day they engage in the same work with much the monotony of an automatic instrument propelled by a blind force. When given oranges and cakes, a momentary smile illumined their countenances, a liquid brightness shot from their eyes, only to be replaced by the solemn, almost stolid, expression which has become habitual even on faces so young. This conclusion was still more impressively emphasized by the following touching remark of a child of twelve years in another apartment, who was with her mother busily sewing. “I am forty-three years old to-day,” remarked the mother, and said Mr. English, “I shall be forty-two next week.” “Oh, dear,” broke in the child, “I should think people would grow SO TIRED of living so MANY YEARS.” Was utterance ever more pathetic? She spoke in tones of mingled sadness and weariness, revealing in one breath all the pent-up bitterness of a young life condemned to a slavery intolerable to any refined or sensitive nature. Is it strange that people here take to drink? To me it is far more surprising that so many are sober. I am convinced that, in the slums, far more drunkenness is caused by abject poverty and inability to obtain work, than want is produced by drink. Here the physical system, half starved and often chilled, calls for stimulants. Here the horrors of nightmare, which we sometimes suffer during our sleep, are present during every waking hour. An oppressive fear weighs forever on the mind. Drink offers a temporary relief and satisfies the craving of the system, besides the environment invites dissipation and human nature at best is frail. I marvel that there is not more drunkenness exhibited in the poverty spots of our cities.



A bearded man lies in a small bed.


A woman and two young girls sew, while a toddler looks at the camera.


A woman and a boy are seated, and a girl stands.


Rickety wood and clotheslines hung with ragged clothes are the focus of this picture.


Among the places we visited were a number of cellars or burrows. We descended several steps into dark, narrow passage-ways,4 leading to cold, damp rooms, in many of 44which no direct ray of sunshine ever creeps. We entered a room filled with a bed, cooking stove, rack of dirty clothes and numerous chairs, of which the most one could say was that their backs were still sound and which probably had been donated by persons who could no longer use them. On the bed lay a man who has been ill for three months with rheumatism. This family consists of father, mother, and a large daughter, all of whom are compelled to occupy one bed. They eat, cook, live, and sleep in this wretched cellar and pay over fifty dollars a year rent. This is a typical illustration of life in this underground world.

A crowded room with three children, two beds and a stove.


In another similar cellar or burrow5 we found a mother and seven boys and girls, some of them quite large, all sleeping in two medium-sized beds in one room; this room is also their kitchen. The other room is a storehouse for kindling wood the children gather and sell, a little store and living room combined. Their rent is two dollars a week. The cellar was damp and cold; the air stifling. Nothing can be imagined more favorable to contagion both physical and moral than such dens as these. Ethical exaltation or spiritual growth is impossible with such environment. It is not strange that the slums breed criminals, which require vast sums yearly to punish after evil has been accomplished; but to me it is an ever-increasing source of wonder that society should be so short-sighted and 45neglectful of the condition of its exiles, when an outlay of a much smaller sum would ensure a prevention of a large proportion of the crime that emenates from the slums; while at the same time it would mean a new world of life, happiness, and measureless possibilities for the thousands who now exist in hopeless gloom.

A man sits at a table, with his head on his hand.


In a small room fronting an interior court we found a man6 whose face bore the stamp of that “hope long deferred which maketh the heart sick.” He is, I am informed, a strictly temperate, honest, and industrious workman. Up to the time of his wife’s illness and death, which occurred last summer, the family lived in a reasonably comfortable manner, as the husband found no difficulty in securing work on the sea. When the wife died, however, circumstances changed. She left six little children, one almost an infant. The father could not go to sea, leaving his little flock without a protector, to fall the victims of starvation, and since then he has worked whenever he could get employment loading vessels, or at anything he could find. For the past six weeks he has been practically without work, and the numerous family of little ones have suffered for life’s necessities. His rent is two dollars and a quarter a week.

A woman and four small children.


In the attic in another tenement we found a widow7 weeping and working by the side of a little cradle where lay a sick child, whose large luminous eyes shone with almost phosphorescent brilliancy from great cavernous sockets, as they wandered from one to another, with a wistful, soul-querying gaze. Its forehead was large and prominent, so much so that looking at the upper part of the head one would little imagine how terrible the emaciation of the body, which 46was little more than skin and bones, speaking more eloquently than words of the ravages of slow starvation and wasting disease. The immediate cause of the poor woman’s tears was explained to us in broken English, substantially as follows: She had just returned from the dispensary where she had been unsuccessful in her effort to have a physician visit her child, owing to her inability to pay the quarter of a dollar demanded for the visit. After describing as best she could the condition of the invalid, the doctor had given her two bottles of medicine and a prescription blank on which he had written directions for her to get a truss that would cost her two dollars and a half at the drug store. She had explained to the physician that owing to the illness of her child she had fallen a week and a half in arrears in rent; that the agent for the tenement had notified her that if one week’s rent was not paid on Saturday she would be evicted, which meant death to her child, so she could not buy the truss. To which the doctor replied, “You must get the truss and put it on before giving anything from either bottle, or the medicine will kill your child.” “If I give the medicine,” she repeated showing us the bottles, “before I put the truss on, he says it will kill my child,” and the tears ran swiftly down her sad but intelligent face. The child was so emaciated that the support would inevitably have produced terrible sores in a short time. I am satisfied that had the physician seen its condition, he would not have had a heart to order it.

I thought as I studied the anxious and sorrowful countenance of that mother, how hard, indeed, is the lot of the very poor. They have to buy coal by the basketful and pay almost double price, likewise food and all life’s necessities. They are compelled to live in frightful disease-fostering quarters, and pay exorbitant rents for the accommodations they receive. When sick they are not always free from imposition, even when they receive aid in the name of charity, and sometimes theology under the cloak of religion oppresses them. This last thought had been suggested by seeing in our rounds some half-starved women dropping pennies into the hands of Sisters of Charity, who were even here in the midst of terrible want, exacting from the starving money for a church whose coffers groan with wealth. O religion, ineffably radiant and exalting in thy pure influence, how thou art often debased by thy professed followers! How much injustice is meted 47out to the very poor, and how many crimes are still committed under thy cloak and in thy holy name! Even this poor widow had bitterly suffered through priests who belong to a great communion, claiming to follow Him who cried, “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” as will be seen by the following, related to me by Rev. Walter Swaffield, who was personally cognizant of the facts. The husband of this widow was out of work for a time; being too ill to engage in steady work, he found it impossible to pay the required ten cents for seats in the church to which he belonged, and was consequently excluded from his sitting. Shortly after he fell sick, his wife sought the priest, imploring him to administer the sacrament, and later extreme unction, which he positively refused, leaving the poor man to die without the consolation of the Church he had from infancy been taught to love and revere.

It is not strange that many in this world of misery become embittered against society; that they sometimes learn to hate all who live in comfort, and who represent the established order of things, and from the rank of the patient, uncomplaining struggler descend to a lower zone, where the moral nature is eclipsed by degradation and crime, and life takes on a deeper shade of horror. This class of people exist on the brink of a precipice. Socially, they may be likened to the physical condition of Victor Hugo’s Claude Frollo after Quasimodo had hurled him from the tower of Notre Dame. You remember the sickening sensation produced by that wonderful piece of descriptive work, depicting the false priest hanging to the eaves, vainly striving to ascend, feeling the leaden gutter to which he was holding slowly giving away. His hands send momentary messages to the brain, warning it that endurance is almost exhausted. Below he sees the sharp formidable spires of Saint-Jean-de-Ronde, and immediately under him, two hundred feet from where he hangs, are the hard pavement, where men appear like pigmies. Above stands the avenging hunchback ready to hurl him back if he succeed in climbing over the eaves. So these poor people have ever below them starvation, eviction, and sickness. Above stands Quasimodo in the form of a three-headed monster: a soulless landlord, the slave master who pays only starvation wages, and disease, the natural complement of the wretched squalor permitted by 48the one, and the slow starvation necessarily incident to the prices paid by the other. Their lot is even more terrible when it is remembered that their fall carries with it the fate of their loved ones. In addition to the multitude who are condemned to suffer through uninvited poverty, with no hopeful outlook before them, there is another class who are constantly on the brink of real distress, and who are liable at any time, to suffer bitterly because they are proud-spirited and will almost starve to death before they ask for aid. Space prevents me from citing more than one illustration of this character. In an apartment house we found an American woman with a babe two weeks old and a little girl. The place was scrupulously clean, something very rare in this zone of life. The woman, of course, was weak from illness and, as yet, unable to take in any work to speak of. Her husband has been out of employment for a few weeks, but had just shipped on board a sailing vessel for a cruise of several months. The woman did not intimate that they were in great need, as she hoped to soon be enabled to make some money, and the portion of her husband’s wages she was allowed to draw, paid the rent. A week ago, however, the little girl came to the Bethel Mission asking for a loaf of bread. “We have had nothing to eat since Monday morning,” she said, “and the little baby cries all the time because mamma can give it no milk.” It was Wednesday evening when the child visited the Mission. An investigation substantiated the truth of the child’s words. The mother, too proud to beg, struggled with fate, hoping and praying to be able to succeed without asking for aid, but seeing her babe starving to death, she yielded. This case finds many counterparts where a little aid bridges over a period of frightful want, after which the unfortunate are able, in a measure, to take care of themselves.

I find it impossible in this paper to touch upon other cases I desired to describe. The above illustrations however, typical of the life and environment of hundreds of families, are sufficient to emphasize a condition which exists in our midst and which is yearly growing, both in extent and in intensity of bitterness; a condition that is little understood by those who are not actually brought in contact with the circumstances as they exist, a condition at once revolting and appalling to every sense of humanity and justice. We cannot 49afford to remain ignorant of the real status of life in our midst, any more than we can afford to sacrifice truth to optimism. It has become a habit with some to make light of these grim and terrible facts, to minify the suffering experienced, or to try and impute the terrible condition to drink. This may be pleasant but it will never alter conditions or aid the cause of reform. It is our duty to honestly face the deplorable conditions, and courageously set to work to ameliorate the suffering, and bring about radical reformatory measures calculated to invest life with a rich, new significance for this multitude so long exiles from joy, gladness, and comfort.

We now come to the practical question, What is to be done? But before viewing the problem in its larger and more far-reaching aspects, I wish to say a word in regard to the direct measures for immediate relief which it is fashionable among many reformers to dismiss as unworthy of consideration. It is very necessary in a discussion of this character to view the problem in all its bearings, and adjust the mental vision so as to recognize the utility of the various plans advanced by sincere reformers. I have frequently heard it urged that these palliative measures tend to retard the great radical reformative movements, which are now taking hold of the public mind. This view, however comfortable to those who prefer theorizing and agitation to putting their shoulder to the wheel in a practical way, is, nevertheless, erroneous. There is no way in which people can be so thoroughly aroused to the urgent necessity of radical economic changes as by bringing them into such intimate relations with the submerged millions that they hear the throbbing of misery’s heart. The lethargy of the moral instincts of the people is unquestionably due to lack of knowledge more than anything else. The people do not begin to realize the true condition of life in the ever-widening field of abject want. When they know and are sufficiently interested to personally investigate the problem and aid the suffering, they will appreciate as never before the absolute necessity for radical economic changes, which contemplate a greater meed of justice and happiness than any measures yet devised. But aside from this we must not forget the fact that we have a duty to perform to the living no less than to the generations yet unborn. The commonwealth of to-day as well as that of to-morrow demands our aid. Millions are in the quicksands: 50yearly, monthly, daily, hourly they are sinking deeper and deeper. We can save them while the bridges are being built. To withhold the planks upon which life and happiness depend is no less criminal than to refuse to face the question in its broader aspects and labor for fundamental economic changes. A great work of real, practical, and enduring value, however, is being wrought each year by those in charge of local missions work in the slums and by individuals who mingle with and study the actual condition of the very poor. The extent of good accomplished by these few who are giving their lives to uplifting society’s exiles is little understood, because it is quiet and unostentatious; yet through the instrumentality of the silent workers, thousands of persons are annually kept from starvation and crime, while for many of them new, broad, and hopeful horizons are constantly coming in view.8

Let us now examine a broader aspect of this problem. So long as the wretched, filthy dens of dirt, vermin, and disease stand as the only shelter for the children of the scum, so long will moral and physical contagion flourish and send 51forth death-dealing germs; so long will crime and degradation increase, demanding more policemen, more numerous judiciary, and larger prisons. No great permanent or far-reaching reformation can be brought about until the habitations of the people are radically improved. The recognition of this fact has already led to a practical palliative measure for relief that must challenge the admiration of all thoughtful persons interested in the welfare of society’s exiles. It is a step in the direction of justice. It is not merely a work of charity; it is, I think, the most feasible immediate measure that can be employed which will change the whole aspect of life for tens of thousands, making existence mean something, and giving a wonderful significance to the now meaningless word home. I refer to the erection of model tenement apartments in our overcrowded sections, such, for example, as the Victoria Square dwelling of Liverpool. Here, on the former site of miserable tenement houses, sheltering more than a thousand people, stands to-day a palatial structure built around a hollow square, the major part of which is utilized as a large shrub-encircled playground for the children. The halls and stairways of the building are broad, light, and airy; the ventilation and sanitary arrangements perfect. The apartments are divided into one, two, and three rooms each. No room is smaller than 13 × 8 feet 6 inches; most of them are 12 × 13 feet 4 inches. All the ceilings are 9 feet high. A superintendent looks after the building. The tenants are expected to be orderly, and to keep their apartments clean. The roomy character of halls and chambers may be inferred from the fact that there are only two hundred and seventy-five apartments in the entire building. The returns on the total expenditure of the building, which was $338,800.00, it is estimated will be at least 4½ per cent, while the rents are as follows: $1.44 per week for the three-room tenement, $1.08 per week for those containing two large rooms, and 54 cents for the one-room quarters. In Boston, the rents for the dreadful one-room cellar are $1.00 a week; for the two-room tenements above the cellars, the rent, so far as I heard, ranged from $1.50 to $2.50; three rooms were, of course, much higher. The rooms also are far smaller here than those in the beautiful, healthful, and inviting Victoria Square apartments. Yet it will be observed that the Shylock landlords receive more than double 52the rental paid in this building for dens which would be a disgrace to barbarism. A similar experiment, in many respects even more remarkable than that recently inaugurated by the Liverpool co-operation, is exhibited in the Peabody dwellings in London. These apartments have been in successful operation for so many years, while the results attending them have been so marked and salutary, that no discussion of this subject would be complete that failed to give some of the most important facts relating to them. I know of no single act of philanthropy that towers so nobly above the sordid greed of the struggling multitude of millionaires, as does this splendid work of George Peabody, by which to-day twenty thousand people, who but for him would be in the depths of the slums, are fronting a bright future, and with souls full of hope are struggling into a higher civilization. It will be remembered that Mr. Peabody donated at intervals extending over a period of eleven years, or from 1862 to 1873, £500,000 or $2,500,000 to this project of relieving the poor. He specified that his purpose was to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of London, and promote their comfort and happiness, making only the following conditions:—

First and foremost amongst them is the limitation of its uses, absolutely and, exclusively, to such purposes as may be calculated directly to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the poor, who, either by birth or established residence, form a recognized portion of the population of London.

Secondly, it is my intention that now, and for all time, there shall be a rigid exclusion from the management of this fund, of any influences calculated to impart to it a character either sectarian as regards religion, or exclusive in relation to party politics.

Thirdly, it is my wish that the sole qualification for a participation in the benefits of the fund shall be an ascertained and continued condition of life, such as brings the individual within the description (in the ordinary sense of the word) of the poor of London: combined with moral character, and good conduct as a member of society.”

A drawing of an apartment block.


Realizing that little could be hoped for from individuals or their offspring, who were condemned to a life in vile dens, where the squalor and wretchedness was only equalled by the poisonous, disease-breeding atmosphere and the general filth which characterized the tenement districts, the trustees 53Mr. Peabody selected to carry forward his work, engaged in the erection of a large building accommodating over two hundred, at a cost of $136,500. This apartment house, which is substantially uniform with the seventeen additional buildings since constructed from the Peabody fund, is five stories high, built around a hollow square, thus giving plenty of fresh air and sunshine to the rear as well as the front of the entire building. The square affords a large playground for the children where they are in no danger of being run over by vehicles, and where they are under the immediate eye of many of the parents. The building is divided into tenements of one, two, and three room apartments, according to the requirements of the occupant. There are also nine stores on the ground floor, which bring a rental of something over $1,500 a year for each of the buildings. By careful, honest, and conscientious business management, the original sum of $2,500,000 has been almost doubled, while comfortable, healthful homes have been procured for an army of over 20,000 persons. Some of the apartments contain four rooms, many three, some two, others one. The average rent is about $1.15 for an apartment. The average price for three-room apartments in the wretched tenements of London, is from $1.45 a week. In the Peabody dwellings, the death rate is .96 per one thousand below the average in London. Thus it will be seen that while large, healthful, airy, and cheerful homes have been provided for over 20,000 at a lower figure than the wretched disease-fostering and crime-breeding tenements of soulless Shylocks, the Peabody fund has, since 1862, grown to nearly $5,000,000, or almost twice the sum given for the work by the great philanthropist. No words can adequately describe the magnitude of this splendid work, any more than we can measure the good it has accomplished, the crime prevented, or the lives that through it have grown to ornament and bless society. In the Liverpool experiment, the work has been prosecuted by the municipal government. In the Peabody dwellings, it has, of course, been the work of an individual, carried on by a board of high-minded, honorable, and philanthropic gentlemen. To my mind, it seems far more practicable for philanthropic, monied men to prosecute this work as a business investment, specifying in their wills that rents shall not rise above a figure necessary to insure a fair interest on the money, 54rather than leave it for city governments, as in the latter case it would be in great danger of becoming an additional stronghold for unscrupulous city officials to use for political purposes. I know of no field where men with millions can so bless the race as by following Mr. Peabody’s example in our great cities. If, instead of willing every year princely sums to old, rich, and conservative educational institutions, which already possess far more money than they require,—wealthy persons would bequeath sums for the erection of buildings after the manner of the Victoria Square or the Peabody Dwellings, a wonderful transformation would soon appear in our cities. Crime would diminish, life would rise to a higher level, and from the hearts and brains of tens of thousands, a great and terrible load would be lifted. Yet noble and praiseworthy as is this work, we must not lose sight of the fact, that at best it is only a palliative measure: a grand, noble, beneficent work which challenges our admiration, and should receive our cordial support; still it is only a palliative.

There is a broader aspect still, a nobler work to be accomplished. As long as speculation continues in that great gift of God to man, land, the problem will be unsettled. So long as the landlords find that the more wretched, filthy, rickety, and loathsome a building is, the lower will be the taxes, he will continue to make some of the ever-increasing army of bread winners dwell in his foul, disease-impregnated dens.

The present economic system is being rapidly outgrown. Man’s increasing intelligence, sense of justice, and the humanitarian spirit of the age, demand radical changes, which will come immeasurably nearer securing equal opportunities for all persons than the past dreamed possible. No sudden or rash measure calculated to convulse business and work great suffering should be entertained, but our future action should rest on a broad, settled policy founded upon justice, tempered by moderation, keeping in view the great work of banishing uninvited poverty, and elevating to a higher level the great struggling millions without for a moment sacrificing individualism. Indeed, a truer democracy in which a higher interpretation of justice, and a broader conception of individual freedom, and a more sacred regard for liberty, should be the watchword of the future.




In the life and letters of Charles Darwin there is a memorandum, copied from his pocket note-book of 1837, to this effect:—“In July, opened first notebook on Transmutation of Species. Had been greatly struck with the character of the South American fossils and the species on Galapagos Archipelago.”

These facts, he says, were the origin of all his epoch-making views as to the development of life and the work of natural selection in evolving species.

His suspicions that species were not immutable and made at one cast, directly by the fiat of the Creator, seemed to him, at first, he says, almost like murder.

To the greater part of the church, when in 1859, after twenty years of work in accumulating the proofs of his theory, he at last gave it to the world, it seemed quite as bad as murder.

It is very interesting now to look back upon the history and career of the Darwinian theory in the last thirty years; to recall, first the fierce outcry and denunciation it elicited, then the gradual accumulation of corroboratory evidence from all quarters in its favor; the accession of one scientific authority after another to the new views; the softening, little by little, of ecclesiastical opposition; its gradual acceptance by the broad-minded alike in theological and scientific circles; then, in these recent years, the exaltation of the new theory into a scientific and philosophic creed, wherein matter, force, and evolution constitute the new trinity, which, unless the modern man piously believes, he becomes anathematized and excommunicated by all the priests of the new dogmatism.

In the field of science, undoubtedly, evolution has won the day. Nevertheless, in religious circles, old time prejudices and slow conservatism, clinging to its creeds, as the hermit crab clings to the cast-off shell of oyster or clam, 56still resist it. The great body of the Christian laity looks askance on it. And even in progressive America, one of the largest and most liberal of American denominations has recently formally tried and condemned one of its clergy for heresy, for the publication of a book in which the principles of Evolution are frankly adopted and applied to Christianity. For a man to call himself a Christian Evolutionist is (we have been told by high Orthodox authority) a contradiction in terms.

I think it is safe to say to-day that Evolution has come to stay. It is too late to turn it out of the mansions of modern thought. And it is, therefore, a vital question, “Can belief in God, and the soul, and divine revelation abide under the same roof with evolution in peace? Or must Christianity vacate the realm of modern thought and leave it to the chilling frosts of materialism and scepticism?”

Now, if I have been able to understand the issue and its grounds, there is no such alternative, no such incompatibility between Evolution and Christianity.

There is, I know, a form of Evolution and a form of Christianity, which are mutually contradictory.

There is a form of Evolution which is narrowly materialistic. It dogmatically asserts that there is nothing in existence but matter and physical forces, and the iron laws according to which they develop. Life, according to this school, is only a product of the happy combination of the atoms; feeling and thought are but the iridescence of the brain tissues; conscience but a transmuted form of ancestral fears and expediences. Soul, revelation, providence, nothing but illusions of the childish fancy of humanity’s infancy. Opposed to it, fighting with all the intensity of those who fight for their very life, stands a school of Christians who maintain that unless the special creation of species by divine fiat and the frequent intervention of God and His angels in the world be admitted, religion has received its death wound. According to this school, unless the world was created in six days, and Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and it obeyed, and Hezekiah turned the solar shadow back on the dial, and Jesus was born without human father, and unless some new miracle will interfere with the regular course of law, of rain and dew, of sickness and health, of cause and effect, whenever a believer lifts up his voice in prayer, why then, the very foundations of religion are destroyed.

57Now, of course, between a Christianity and an Evolutionism of this sort, there is an irreconcilable conflict. But it is because neither of them is a fair, rational, or true form of thought.

When the principle of Evolution is properly comprehended and expounded; when Christianity is interpreted in the light that history and philosophy require,—the two will be found to have no difficulty in joining hands.

Though a purely naturalistic Evolutionism may ignore God; and a purely supernatural religion may leave no room for Evolution, a natural religion and a rational Evolutionism may yet harmoniously unite in a higher and more fruitful marriage.

Let us only recognize Evolution by the divine spirit, as the process of God’s working in the world, and we have then a theory which has a place and a function, at once for all that the newest science has to teach and the most venerable faith needs to retain.

In the first place, Evolution is not itself a cause. It is no force in itself. It has no originating power. It is simply a method and law of the occurrence of things. Evolution shows that all things proceed, little by little, without breach of continuity; that the higher ever proceeds from the lower; the more complex ever unfolds from the more simple. For every species or form, it points out some ancestor or natural antecedent, from which by gradual modification, it has been derived. And in natural selection, the influence of the environment, sexual selection, use and disuse, sterility, and the variability of the organism, Science shows us some of the secondary factors or conditions of this development. But none of these are supposed by it to be first causes or originating powers. What these are, science itself does not claim the right as yet to declare.

Now, it is true that this unbroken course of development, this omnipresent reign of law, is inconsistent with the theological theories of supernatural intervention that have so often claimed a monopoly of faith. But independent of all scientific reasons, on religious and philosophical grounds themselves, this dogmatic view is no longer to be accepted. For if God be the God of all-seeing wisdom and foresight that reverence conceives him to be, his work should be too perfect from the outset to demand such changes of plan and 58order of working. The great miracle of miracles, as Isaac Taylor used to say, is that Providence needs no miracles to carry out its all-perfect plans.

But if, I hear it asked, the huge machine of the universe thus grinds on and has ever ground on, without interruption; if every event is closely bound to its physical antecedent, life to the cell, mind to brain, man to his animal ancestry and bodily conditions,—what other result will there be than an inevitable surrender to materialism? When Laplace was asked by Napoleon, on presenting to him his famous essay on the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the stellar universe, “Why do I see here no mention of the Deity?” the French astronomer proudly replied: “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.”

Is not that the natural lesson of Evolutionism, to say that God is a hypothesis, no longer needed by science and which progressive thought, therefore, better dismiss?

I do not think so. Old time materialism dismissed the idea of God because it dismissed the idea of a beginning. The forces and phenomena of the world were supposed eternal; and therefore a Creator was unnecessary. But the conception of Evolution is radically different. It is a movement that demands a motor force behind it. It is a movement, moreover, that according to the testimony of modern science cannot have been eternal. The modern theory of heat and the dissipation of energy requires that our solar system and the nebula from which it sprang should have had a beginning in some finite period of time. The evolutionary process cannot have been going on forever; for the amount of heat and the number of degrees of temperature and the rate of cooling, are all finite, calculable quantities, and therefore the process cannot have been going on for more than a certain finite number of years, more or less millions, say. Moreover, if the original fire-mist was perfectly homogeneous, and not impelled into motion by any external force, it would never have begun to rotate and evolve into planets and worlds. If perfectly homogeneous, it would have remained, always balanced and always immobile. To start it on its course of rotation and evolution, there must have been either some external impelling power, or else some original differentiation of forces or conditions; for which, again, some other cause than itself must be supposed. For the well-known 59law of inertia forbids that any material system that is in absolute equilibrium should spontaneously start itself into motion. As John Stuart Mill has admitted, “the laws of nature can give no account of their own origin.”

In the second place, notice that the materialistic interpretation of Evolution fails to account for that which is most characteristic in the process, the steady progress it reveals. Were Evolution an aimless, fruitless motion, rising and falling alternately, or moving round and round in an endless circle, the reference of these motions to the blind forces of matter might have, perhaps, a certain plausibility. But the movements of the evolution process are of quite a different character. They are not chaotic; no barren, useless circlings back to the same point, again and again; but they are progressive; and if often they seem to return to their point of departure, we see, on close examination, that the return is always on a higher plane. The motion is a spiral one, ever advancing to loftier and loftier ranges. Now this progressive motion is something that no accidental play of the atoms will account for. For chance builds no such rational structures. Chance writes no such intelligent dramas, with orderly beginning, crescendo, and climax. Or if some day, chance builds a structure with some show of order in it, to-morrow it pulls it down. It does not move steadily forward with permanent constructiveness.

The further Science penetrates into the secrets of the universe the more regular seems the march of thought presented there; the more harmonious the various parts; the more rational the grand system that is discovered. “How the one force of the universe should have pursued the pathway of Evolution through the lapse of millions of ages, leaving traces so legible by intelligence to-day, unless from beginning to end the whole process had been dominated by intelligence,” this is something, as Francis Abbot well says, that passes the limits of conjecture. The all-luminous intelligibility of the universe is the all-sufficient proof of the intelligence of the cause that produced it. In the annals of science there is nothing more curious than the prophetic power which those savans have gained who have grasped this secret of nature—the rationality of the universe. It was by this confidence in finding in the hitherto unexplored domains of nature what reason demanded, that 60Goethe, from the analogies of the mammalian skeleton, discovered the intermaxillary bone in man; and Sir William Hamilton, from the mathematical consequences of the undulation of light, led the way to the discovery of conical refraction. A similar story is told of Prof. Agassiz and Prof. Pierce, the one the great zoölogist, the other the great mathematician, of Cambridge. Agassiz, having studied the formation of radiate animals, and having found them all referable to three different plans of structure, asked Prof. Pierce, without informing him of his discovery, how to execute all the variations possible, conformed to the fundamental idea of a radiated structure around a central axis. Prof. Pierce, although quite ignorant of natural history, at once devised the very three plans discovered by Agassiz, as the only fundamental plans which could be framed in accordance with the given elements. How significantly do such correspondences speak of the working of mind in nature, moulding it in conformity with ideas of reason. Thus to see the laws of thought exhibiting themselves as also the laws of being seems to me a fact sufficient of itself to prove the presence of an over-ruling mind in nature.

Is there any way of escaping this obvious conclusion? The only method that has been suggested has been to refer these harmonies of nature back to the original regularity of the atoms. As the drops of frozen moisture on the window pane build up the symmetrical frost-forms without design or reason, by virtue of the original similarity of the component parts, so do the similar atoms, without any more reason or plan, build up the harmonious forms of nature.

But this answer brings us face to face with a third still more significant problem, a still greater obstacle to materialism. Why are the atoms of nature thus regular, thus similar, one to another? Here are millions on millions of atoms of gold, each like its fellow atom. Millions and millions of atoms of oxygen, each with the same velocity of movement, same weight and chemical properties. All the millions on millions on millions of atoms on the globe are not of infinitely varied shape, weight, size, quality; but there are only some seventy different kinds, and all the millions of one kind, just as like one another as bullets out of the same mould, so that each new atom of oxygen that comes to a burning 61flame does the same work and acts in precisely the same way as its fellows. Did you ever think of that? If you have ever realized what it means, you must recognize this uniformity of the atoms, billions and billions of them as like one another as if run out of the same mould—as the most astonishing thing in nature.

Now, among the atoms, there can have been no birth, no death, no struggle for existence, no natural selection to account for this. What other explanation, then, in reason is there, than to say, as those great men of science, Sir John Herschel and Clerk Maxwell, who have, in our day, most deeply pondered this curious fact, have said, that this division of all the infinity of atoms in nature into a very limited number of groups, all the billions of members in each group substantially alike in their mechanical and chemical properties, “gives to each of the atoms the essential characters at once of a manufactured article and a subordinate agent.”

Evolution cannot, then, be justly charged with materialism. On the contrary, it especially demands a divine creative force as the starter of its processes and the endower of the atoms with their peculiar properties. The foundation of that scientific system which the greatest of modern expositors of Evolution has built up about that principle (Herbert Spencer’s synthetic philosophy) is the persistence of an infinite, eternal, and indestructible force, of which all things that we see are the manifestations.

To suppose, as many of the camp-followers of the evolution philosophy do, that the processes of successive change and gradual modification, which have been so clearly traced out in nature, relieve us from the need or right of asking for any anterior and higher cause of these processes; or that because the higher and finer always unfolds from the lower and coarser, therefore there was really nothing else in existence, either at the beginning or at present, than these crude elements which alone disclose themselves at first; and that these gross, sensuous facts are the only source and explanation of all that has followed them,—this is a most superficial and inadequate view. For this explanation, as we have already noticed, furnishes no fountain-head of power to maintain the constant upward-mounting of the waters in the world’s conduits. It furnishes no intelligent directions of these streams into ever wise and ordered channels. To explain the higher life 62that comes out of these low beginnings, we must suppose the existence of spiritual powers, unseen at first, and disclosing themselves only in the fuller, later results, the moral and spiritual phenomena that are the crowning flower and fruit of the long process. When a thing has grown from a lower to a higher form, its real rank in nature is not shown by what it began in, but by what it has become. Though chemistry has grown out of alchemy, and astronomy out of astrology, this does not empty them of present truth or impair at all their authority and trustworthiness to-day. Though man’s mind has grown out of the sensations of brutish ancestors, that does not take away the fact that he has now risen to a height from which he overlooks all these mists and sees the light which never was on sea or land. The real beginning of a statue is not in the rough outline in which it first appears, but in the creative idea of the perfect work which regulates its whole progress. The real nature of a tree is not to be discovered in the first swellings of the acorn, or the first out-pushing of its rootlets, but rather are acorn and rootlet themselves parts of that generic idea, that evolutive potentiality, which is only to be understood when manifested in its completer form in the full-grown monarch of the forest. So to discern the real character and motor-power of the world’s evolution, we must look, not to its beginnings, but to its end, and see in the latest stages, and its highest moral and spiritual forms and forces, not disguises of its earlier stages, but ampler manifestations of that Divine power and purpose which is the ever-active agent, working through all the varied levels of creation.

The evolution theory is, also, it must be acknowledged, hostile to that phase of theology which conceives of God as a being outside of nature; which regarded the universe as a dead lump, a mechanical fabric where the Creator once worked, at the immensely remote dawn of creation; and to which again, for a few short moments, this transcendental Power stooped from His celestial throne, when the successive species of living beings were called into being in brief exertions of supernatural energy. But this mechanical view of God who, as Goethe said, “only from without should drive and twirl the universe about,” what a poor conception of God, after all, was that; not undeserving the ridicule of the great German.

63Certainly, the idea of God which Wordsworth has given us, as a Power not indefinitely remote, but ever present and infinitely near,

“A motion and a spirit that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts,

And rolls through all things,”

is a much more inspiring and venerable thought. This is the conception of God that Paul has given us, “the God in whom we live and move and have our being;” this is the conception that the book of Wisdom gives us, “as the Divine Spirit who filleth the world.”

And to this conception of God, Evolution has no antagonism, but on the contrary, throws its immense weight in its favor. Evolution, in fact, instead of removing the Deity from us, brings him close about us; sets us face to face with his daily activities. The universe is but the body of which God is the soul; “the Interior Artist,” as Giordano Bruno used to say, who from within moulds his living shapes of beauty and power. What else, in fact, is Evolution but the secular name for the Divine Indwelling; the scientific alias for the growth and progressive revelation of the Holy Spirit, daily putting off the old and putting on the new; constantly busy from the beginning of time to this very day moulding and forwarding his work?

Not long ago I came across the mental experience of a working geologist which well illustrates this. “Once in early boyhood,” says Mr. James E. Mills, “I left a lumberman’s camp at night to go to the brook for water. It was a clear, cold, moonlight night and very still, except the distant murmuring of the Penobscot at some falls. A sense of the grandeur of the forest and rivers, the hills, and sky, and stars came over the boy, and he stood and looked around. An owl hooted, and the hooting was not a cheerful sound. The men were all asleep, and the conditions were lonely enough. But there was no feeling of loneliness; for with the sense of the grandeur of creation, came the sense, very real and strong, of the Creator’s presence. In boyish imagination, I could see His almighty hand shaping the hills and scooping out the valleys, spreading the sky overhead, and making trees, animals, and men. Thirty years later I camped alone in the open air on the bank of the Gila. It was a clear, cold, moonlight night. The camp-fire was low, for the Apaches were on the warpath. 64An owl again hooted; but again all loneliness was dispelled by a sense of the Creator’s presence, and the night of long ago by the Penobscot came into my mind, and with it the question: What is the difference to my mind between the Creator’s presence now and then? To the heart, it was very like, but to the mind very different. Now, no great hand was shaping things from without. But God was everywhere, reaching down through long lines of forces, and shaping and sustaining things from within. I had been travelling all day by mountains of lava which had cooled long ages ago, and over grounds which the sea, now far off, had left on its beaches; and with the geologist’s habit recalled the lava still glowing and flowing, and the sea still rolling its pebbles on the beaches. But now I knew it was by forces within the earth that the lava was poured out, and that the waves which rolled the pebbles were driven by the wind and the wind by the sun’s heat. And the forces within the earth and the heat within the sun come from still further within. Inward, always inward, the search for the original energy and law carried my mind, for He whose will is the source of all force, and whose thought is the source of all law is on the inside of the universe. The kingdom of God is within you.”

“Now this change from the boyish idea of God creating things from without, to the manhood’s view of God creating and sustaining all things from within,” is indeed as this working geologist so well says, “the essential change which modern science has wrought in the habit of religious thought. From Copernicus to Darwin, every important step in the development of science has cost the giving up of some idea of a God creating things as man shapes them from without, and has illustrated the higher idea of God reaching His works from within. Every step has led toward the truth that life and force come to the forms in which they are clothed from God by the inner way; and by the same way, their law comes with them; and that the forms are the effects of the force and life, acting according to the law.”

This is certainly a most noble, uplifting conception of the world. But how, perhaps it will be asked, can we find justification for such a view of the Divine Spirit as indwelling in nature? It is a question worth dwelling upon, and when we carefully ponder it, we find that one of the phases 65of the evolution philosophy that has been a chief source of alarm is precisely the one that lends signal support to this doctrine of Divine Indwelling.

Evolution is especially shrunk from, because it connects man so closely with nature; our souls are traced back to an animal origin; consciousness to instinct, instinct to sensibility, and this to lower laws and properties of force. By the law of the correlation of forces, our mental and spiritual powers are regarded as but transformed phases of physical forces, conditioned as they are on our bodily states and changes; and the soul, it is said, is but a child of nature, who is most literally its mother.

To many minds this is appalling. But let us look it candidly in the face and see its full bearing. We will recall in the first place, the scientific law, no life but from proceeding life. Let us recollect next the dictum of mechanics, no fountain can rise higher than its source. The natural corollary and consequence of this is “no evolution without preceding involution.” If mind and consciousness come out of nature, they must first have been enveloped in nature, resident within its depths. If the spirit within our hearts is one with the force that stirs the sense and grows in the plant, then that sea of energy that envelops us is also spirit.

When we come to examine the idea of force, we find that there is only one form in which we get any direct knowledge of it, only one place in which we come into contact with it, and that is, in our own conscious experiences, in the efforts of our own will. According to the scientific rule, always to interpret the unknown by the known, not the known by the unknown, it is only the rational conclusion that force elsewhere is also will. Through this personal experience of energy, we get, just once, an inside view of the universal energy, and we find it to be spiritual; the will-force of the Infinite Spirit dwelling in all things. That the encircling force of the universe can best be understood through the analogy of our own sense of effort, and therefore is a form of will, of Spirit, is a conclusion endorsed by the most eminent men of science,—Huxley, Herschel, Carpenter, and Le Conte. There is, therefore, no real efficient force but Spirit. The various energies of nature are but different forms or special currents of this Omnipresent Divine Power; the laws of nature, but the wise and regular habits of this 66active Divine will; physical phenomena but projections of God’s thought on the screen of space; and Evolution but the slow, gradual unrolling of the panorama on the great stage of time.

In geology and paleontology, as is admitted, Evolution is not directly observed, but only inferred. The process is too slow; the stage too grand for direct observation. There is one field and only one where it has been directly observed. This is in the case of domestic animals and plants under man’s charge. Now as here, where alone we see Evolution going on, it is under the guidance of superintending mind, it is a justifiable inference that in nature, also, it goes on under similar intelligent guidance. Now, it is the observation of distinguished men of science that we see precisely such guidance in nature. There is nothing in the Darwinian theory, as I said, that would conduct species upward rather than downward. To account for the steady upward progress we must resort to a higher Cause. We must say with Asa Gray, “Variation has been led along certain beneficial lines, like a stream along definite and useful lines of irrigation.” We must say with Prof. Owen, “A purposive route of development and change, of correlation and inter-dependence, manifesting intelligent will, is as determinable in the succession of races as in the development and organization of the individual. Generations do not vary accidentally in any and every direction, but in pre-ordained, definite, and correlated courses.” This judgment is one which Prof. Carpenter has also substantially agreed with, declaring that the history of Evolution is that of a consistent advance along definite lines of progress, and can only be explained as the work of a mind in nature.

The old argument from Design, it has been frequently said of late, is quite overthrown by Evolution. In one sense it is: i.e. the old idea of a special purpose and a separate creation of each part of nature. But the divine agency is not dispensed with, by Evolution; only shifted to a different point of application; transferred from the particular to the general; from the fact to the law. Paley compared the eye to a watch; and said it must have been made by a divine hand. The modern scientist objects that the eye has been found to be no hand-work; it is the last result of a complicated combination of forces; the mighty machine of nature, 67which has been grinding at the work for thousands of years. Very well; but the modern watch is not made by hand, either, but by a score of different machines. But does it require less, or not more intelligence to make the watch in this way? Or if some watch should be discovered that was not put together by human hand, but formed by another watch, not quite so perfect as itself, and this by another watch, further back, would the wonder, the demand for a superior intelligence as the origin of the process be any the less? It strikes me that it would be but the greater. The farther back you go, and the more general, and invariable, and simple the fundamental laws that brought all things into their present form, then, it seems to me, the more marvellous becomes the miracle of the eye, the ear, each bodily organ, when recognized as a climax to whose consummation each successive stage of the world has contributed. How much more significant of purposive intelligence than any special creation is this related whole, this host of co-ordinated molecules, this complex system of countless interwoven laws and movements, all driven forward, straight to their mark, down the vistas of the ages, to the grand world consummation of to-day? What else but omniscience is equal to this?

All law, then, we should regard as a divine operation; and all divine operation, conversely, obeys law. Whatever phenomena we consider as specially divine ought, then, to be most orderly and true to nature. Religion, as far as it is genuine, must, therefore, be natural. It should be no exotic, no foreign graft, as it is often regarded, but the normal outgrowth of our native instincts. Evolution does not banish revelation from our belief. Recognizing in man’s spirit a spark of the divine energy, “individuated to the power of self-consciousness and recognition of God,” as Le Conte aptly phrases it; tracing the development of the spirit-embryo through all geologic time till it came to birth and independent life in man, and humanity recognized itself as a child of God, the communion of the finite spirit with the infinite is perfectly natural. This direct influence of the spirit of God on the spirit of man, in conscience speaking to him of the moral law, through prophet and apostle declaring to us the great laws of spiritual life and the beauty of holiness,—this is what we call revelation. The laws which it observes are superior laws, quite above the plane of material 68things. But the work of revelation is not, therefore, infallible or outside the sphere of Evolution. On the contrary, one of the most noticeable features of revelation is its progressive character. In the beginning, it is imperfect, dim in its vision of truth, often gross in its forms of expression. But from age to age it gains in clearness and elevation. In religion, as in secular matters,—it is the lesson of the ages, that “the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.”

How short-sighted, then, are they who seek to compress the broadening vision of modern days within the narrow loopholes of mediæval creeds. “There is still more light to break from the words of Scripture,” was the brave protest of Robinson to the bigots of his day. And as we say Amen to that, we may add: “Yes, and more light still to come from the whole heavens and the whole earth.” If we wish to see that light and receive the richest rewards of God’s revealing word, we must face the sun of truth and follow bravely forward.

As we look back upon the long path of Evolution up which God’s hand has already led humanity; as we see from what lowliness and imperfection, from what darkness and grossness God has led us to our present heritage of truth and spiritual life, can we doubt, that, if we go forward obediently, loyal to reason, we shall not find a new heavens and more glorious, above our head, a new earth and a nobler field of work beneath our feet?




Unless artesian irrigation is introduced extensively in the central part of both Dakotas, their future, unlike their skies, will be heavily clouded. True, the valley of the Sioux, a strip about seventy-five miles wide from the eastern border, of which Sioux Falls is the chief city, and the valley of the lower Missouri about the same extent south of this, of which Yankton is the metropolis, have never had a crop failure. Also, the Red River Valley in North Dakota, about ten thousand square miles, which contains the famous Dalrymple farm and produces the best wheat in the world, has the same unblemished record as an agricultural area. But these fertile and fortunate sections suffer from the general effect on the country of the drouths in the Jim Valley adjacent, which have been severe for four years and are increasing in severity. In the James or Jim Valley, as it is generally called, the year 1887 showed a partial crop failure, 1888 a little more, 1889 and 1890, a total loss.

Of course, every country is liable to crop failure at times, and must be till man makes his own weather, which will, no doubt, some day be done to an extent now unguessed. Nor is the record of three grievous years out of ten in the agricultural history of a section so very bad, except just in the way it has happened here, with a continuous and cumulative effect. But the central Dakotans have been disheartened, and the cumulative and often, perhaps, exaggerative, reports of their condition spread over the country have checked immigration into the States for the past two years, and thus retarded the growth of the fortunate valleys.

This deplorable condition lately attracted the attention of a young Yale graduate, who is editing an evening paper in Sioux Falls, and he began to collect the views of experts on the question of artesian irrigation.

70Mr. Tomlinson, of the Argus Leader, had, probably, no idea of the mass of literature with which the theme was potential, and the way the papers, even outside the State, have followed his lead must be flattering to him both as an editor and public-spirited citizen. My indebtedness to Mr. Tomlinson for some of my facts being thus cheerfully acknowledged, let me plunge in medias res into the turbid waters of the irrigation problem.

Shall we make it “rain from the earth, when the sky fails”? is now, thanks to an editor, the great Dakotan question. It is a question of many facets. What does it cost, will it pay, is it safe, or must it ultimately poison the ground by sowing the land with salt like a vandal conqueror, and creating a Sahara for immediate posterity? Finally, if it is to be done on a proper scale, how shall the burden of the introduction be borne; by the township, the county, the State, the nation, or by private enterprise? Let us take up these points seriatum. Professor Upham, of the United States Geologic Survey, a man of unquestionable honesty and no mean authority generally, thinks that the cost alone demonstrates the futility of attempting the artesian system. He bases his opinion on the Jamestown well, which cost $7,000. Yet if, as there seems to be no doubt, irrigation will increase the wheat crop by at least ten bushels an acre, even this large expense would be warranted by the increase in land value. But it is probably not known to Professor Upham that wells between Jamestown and Huron are being sunk now for half, in some cases one-third, and in a few cases one-tenth of his reckoning. So with this change of former figures, the question of cost may be said to cut no figure. But will it pay permanently, and to what extent? Prof. G. E. Culver answers this question with great ability. He says positively that it will not materially change climate nor by attraction increase appreciably the annual rainfall, though he thinks it may tend to equalize the distribution of the rainfall. As to climate one might be inclined to disagree with him. There has certainly been a great change in the climate of Utah since irrigation was begun there, and an appreciable change in some parts of Southern California, though not in Colorado, as far as can be learned. It is a well-known fact that rain storms follow the course of streams, and as a system of irrigation multiplies universally 71the evaporation of a region, besides multiplying small streams and enlarging others, and as hollows would often be ponded by the waste water, an increase in the area watered by local showers is naturally to be expected. Moreover, the burning winds that so often scorch the crops will be somewhat softened by traversing so much moist ground and so many streams. Trees, too, grow more readily in the moistened land, and in turn protect the land from the hot winds. Given a proper system of irrigation in operation for twenty-five years, and the epithet, treeless, need not be applied to Dakota.

Let us consider irrigation a moment historically. Certainly half of the world’s population depend on it to-day. Modern Egypt has the most extensive system ever known, except the one recently unearthed in India, so massive in construction and vast in stretch that one writer has declared it would take the entire wealth of the British Empire to put it again in order. The Egyptian system cost $200,000,000, and two, sometimes three crops, are raised for one of former times.

No division of the United States has a better credit in commercial circles than Utah, and this is not due to the peculiar institution of polygamy, but to the perfect system of irrigation. The careful husbanding of the waters that come down the Wahsatch Range on mountains, has transmuted a dreary desert of sand and sage brush into what most travellers regard as a garden, and what possibly to the faithful appears symbolically a Paradise.

Senator Stewart, of the United States Irrigation Committee, stated that he had inspected nearly every irrigated region of the world, and knew of no place supplied by so vast a reservoir of water, with either the volume or the pressure of the artesian belt of Dakota. Much of the land in the Jim River Valley is comparatively level and susceptible of sub soil irrigation. It would take from two to three years to put the land in prime condition and to make each acre that is now valued at from three to ten dollars, worth fifty, at least, and probably seventy-five.

Now, $5,000,000 would more than cover the cost of the suggested irrigation in the Northwest—a mere trifle, if the certainty of crops is thereby guaranteed. Nor is the certainty of crops the only object to be considered. According 72to dealers in Sioux City, Iowa, the quality of cattle, shipped from some places in Clay and Yankton Counties since the introduction of irrigation, has increased twenty-five per cent., which appears not improbable when we note the difference between the warm, sweet flow of artesian water and the icy, brackish stuff of a prairie slough.

The next and really the most important question—for man should not work for the present and immediate future without the keenest regard to the rights of posterity—is whether, under Dakotan conditions, artesian irrigation is safe; whether there is not danger of its poisoning the ground. Professor Upham unhesitatingly declares that on account of the alkaline and saline properties in these artesian waters a continued use of them for many years would render the land worthless. The assertion is a rounder one than scientific men generally make, and must be received with caution, though emanating from so high a source, for many samples of South Dakotan waters, tested at Brookings, have shown no alkaline reaction at all, and the professor’s reasoning seems to rest chiefly upon the North Dakotan waters, which for some reason show larger saline percentages than the South. Then, too, he proceeds on the theory that a yearly supply of one foot of water is necessary, whereas half that amount during the dryest year, supplied through the five growing months, would insure good crops. Four inches last July would have saved the harvest. But anyway the entire amount of saline matter in South Dakotan waters, according to Prof. Lewis McLouth, does not, on the average, exceed one fifth of one per cent. after substracting all inert substances, such as sand, clay, limestone, and iron ores; so that, if six inches of water were applied to the lands, and all evaporated on the surface, the salty crust would be one 1/160 of an inch thick. But as a part of the water would run off into the streams, and much of it, diluted with rain-water, would soak into the ground, the salty ingredients would be mixed at once with at least a foot of the surface earth, and would form less than one fifteenth of one per cent. of the weight of that soil. These ingredients are salts of lime, magnesia, potash, and soda. Now Dr. Bruckner, in an analysis of some soil in Holland, which he pronounces remarkably rich, says that it contains over fifteen per cent. of these same ingredients, or two hundred and twenty-five times as much as six inches of 73artesian water would give to a foot of Dakotan soil within a year. So it would take two hundred and twenty-five years for this soil to acquire as much of these saline ingredients as the rich soil of Holland already possesses.

We might go further into this subject and show that every ingredient of these artesian well salts is a necessary food for many plant tissues; but even if the accumulation of salty substances were thought dangerous, it is to be remembered that during five of the ten years since the settlement of the Jim Valley, the rainfall has been ample, and if this average should continue, the land could be allowed to rest from irrigation for one half of the time so that the floods of rain-water would wash away the surplus saline matter.

Enough has now been said to show that in South Dakota, at least, no harm is likely to accrue to the soil under five hundred years, if South Dakota chemists are to be trusted. By that time chemistry will have advanced from an analytic to a creative science, and if what was once ignorantly termed “The Great American Desert” should suddenly lapse into a saline state, a speedy cure for that condition may be counted on with confidence.

Dismissing, then, this danger as something too dim in the distance to be regarded even as ultimately certain, we are confronted with a really grave question—a question fraught with serious immediate peril, if answered practically in the way it seems likely to be, unless patriotic Dakotans coöperate to prevent it. How shall the burden of the cost be borne? The farmers individually are mostly too poor, and in the Northwest, which the oppressions of the railroads and the teachings of Donelly have honeycombed with tendencies to State socialism, the first answer is, “By the State, of course.” But the need of action in this matter is pressing, and the State of South Dakota certainly is too poor at present, for her debt-limit, under her constitution, is already reached.

For the counties to attempt it would be equally difficult, for many persons not directly benefited would be forced to share the expense, and under the pressure of continued hard times an irrigation rebellion might result and most certainly dissatisfaction as to the location of the wells would ensue. There is another plan against which none of these objections can be raised. A bill has been introduced in the legislature, 74providing that when thirty voters shall so petition, the State engineer of irrigation shall select proper sites for nine six-inch or sixteen four and one half inch wells. An election shall then be held to vote bonds of the township. If they carry, the supervisors shall have these wells sunk, and shall rent the water to such farmers as wish it, at a sum in no case exceeding a pro-rata share of seven per cent. of the value of the bonds, the title to the water to go with the title to the land so long as the rent is paid.

The details of the bill are carefully worked out, and it would seem that this plan is feasible. It will enable the present owners to retain their land, and to water it at reasonable cost, while those benefited will bear the expense.

But the great danger is that what is known as private enterprise, which in the West has been as a rule simply the legal twin of highway robbery, will seize the situation which this irrigation problem so temptingly presents. Some of the investment companies are already becoming aware of the possibilities, and are taking advantage of the farmers by buying their land at a nominal price, and it is not improbable that speculators within a year will appropriate (“convey” the wise it call) vast stretches in the Jim Valley, crowding out the present owners and keeping the land comparatively idle for years. This is the peculiar peril of the Dakotas, and the Farmers’ Alliance would do well to spend some of their superfluous energy on a co-operative plan of introducing irrigation, else they will be at the mercy of a greedy crowd of embryo Jay Goulds. There is, indeed, no reason why the nation, if it can appropriate money for river and harbor bills, should not appropriate so small a sum as $5,000,000 to an enterprise of such moment as this, and if the Republican party had a dying glimmer of their olden shrewdness, they would have tightened their relaxing hold on the affections of the Dakotans by a measure of this kind. But so cumbersome is our present system of republican government, that it would take too long in this case to set governmental aid in motion. So, as it is, the Dakotas are between the devil of drouth and the deep sea of further capitalistic oppression, their only hope of a fair solution lying in the township scheme.

Before parting with this theme, as indicative of what might be done with the drouth belt of the Dakotas, the following 75table deserves a comparative glance. It consists of the tax lists of several California counties before and after the application of irrigation.

Counties. 1879. 1889.
Fresno $6,354,596 $25,387,173
Los Angeles 16,368,649 84,376,310
Merced 5,208,245 14,146,845
Orange 2,817,700 9,270,767
San Bernardino 2,576,973 23,267,955
San Diego 8,525,253 31,560,918
Stanislaus 6,232,368 15,594,003
Solano 2,651,367 6,966,007
Tulare 5,204,777 24,343,013
Total $55,939,928 $234,912,991

A few words more on the first question of cost, which is one a practical mind is always asking and re-asking. The Aberdeen Daily News, which ought to know, for there are several wells in its neighborhood easy to study, states that a six-inch well can be put down for less than $2,300, and that any of the principal wells at Aberdeen, Hitchcock, Redfield, Woonsocket, Huron, or Yankton will irrigate six hundred and forty acres, which would bring the cost to less than $4.00 per acre for twelve inches of depth during the growing season. Mr. Hinds, of the Hinds ranch, has been charging adjacent farmers, however, only $1.00 per acre for water from his well, and considers it a paying investment. I cannot resist the temptation of closing this brief inquiry into and commentary upon this most important question by citing a picturesque passage from the Aberdeen Daily News:—

“The power of these wells is almost inconceivable. An iron bar eight feet long and two inches in diameter was accidentally dropped into the tubing of one of them, decreasing the flow for a short time, but it was soon ejected by the water with such force as to break the elbow of a strong iron pipe. When the well at Huron was first put down, no make of water mains was strong enough to withstand the full pressure of the water. The same may be said of nearly all the wells. The fact is that the artesian wells of this valley furnish the mechanical power of the world. This power requires no fuel, no engines, no repairs, no extra insurance. It never freezes up, nor blows up, nor dries up. It can be managed by a girl baby; 76$1,500 will furnish everlasting fifty horse-power. The wonder is that all the woolen, cotton, silk, and linen mills of the world do not rush to take possession of it. It is a Niagara Falls already harnessed for use. All the textile fabrics could be manufactured here cheaper than in any other part of the universe. The time will come when this will be recognized, and natural gas will be extinguished by the giant gushing wells in Dakota.”

This vivid writing, this rhetoric of artesian force, may be the result of an editorial fancy that has long bestridden a western boom, instead of tame old Pegasus; but, leaving out the manufacturing prospectus, there can be no gainsay of the statement that, with a million acres of the opulent Dakotan soil under the brilliant Dakotan sun, tended by two thousand artesian wells, the great drouth belt of the Northwest would be the richest agricultural area in the world.




There is a crime which has run in wild unbridled career around the globe, from the most ancient recorded time, beginning in barbaric tyranny and robbery of the toiler, advancing with the power and wealth of nations, and flourishing unchecked in modern civilization, sapping the strength of nations, paralyzing the conscience of humanity, impoverishing the spirit and power of benevolence, stimulating with alcoholic energy the mad rush for wealth and power, and making abortive the greater part of what saints, heroes, and martyrs might achieve for human redemption. But alas! such has been its insinuating and blinding power, that it has never been opposed by legislation, and never arrested by the Church, which assumes to obey the sinless martyr of Jerusalem, and to war against all sins, yet has never made war upon this giant sin, but has fondled and caressed it so kindly that the pious and conscientious, believing it no sin or crime, have lost all conception of its enormity, and may never realize it until an enlightened people shall pour their hot indignation upon the crime and the unconscious criminals.

This crime which the world’s dazzled intellect and torpid conscience has so long tolerated without resistance, and which antiquity admired in its despotic rulers, splendid in proportion to the people’s misery, is that misleading form of intense and heartless selfishness, which grasps the elements of life and happiness, the wealth of a nation, to squander and destroy it in that OSTENTATION which has no other purpose than to uplift the man of wealth and humiliate his humbler brother. That purpose is a crime; a crime incompatible with genuine Christianity; a crime which was once checked by the religious fervor of Wesley, but checked only for a time. Its criminality is not so much in the heartless 78motive as in its wanton destruction of happiness and life to achieve a selfish purpose.

This feature of social ostentation, its absolute cruelty, has not attracted the investigation of moralists and pietists. On the contrary, the crime is cherished in the higher ranks of the clergy, and an eminent divine in Cincinnati occupying an absurdly expensive church, actually preached a sermon in vindication of LUXURY—defending it on the audacious assumption that it was right because some men had very expensive tastes and it was proper that such tastes should be gratified. A private interview with John Wesley would have been very edifying to that clergyman, as the more remote example of the founder of Christianity had been forgotten.

That squandering wealth in ostentation and luxury is a crime becomes very apparent by a close examination of the act. There would be no harm in building a $700,000 stable for his horses, like a Syracuse millionaire, or in placing a $50,000 service on the dinner table, like a New York Astor, if money were as free as air and water; but every dollar represents an average day’s labor, for there are more toilers who receive less than a dollar than there are who receive more.9 Hence the $700,000 stable represents the labor of a thousand men for two years and four months. It also represents seven hundred lives; for a thousand dollars would meet the cost of the first ten years of a child, and the cost of the second ten years would be fully repaid by his labor. The fancy stable, therefore, represents the physical basis of seven hundred lives, and affirms that the owner values it more highly, or is willing that seven hundred should die, that his vanity may be gratified.

This is not an imaginative estimate. A thousand dollars would save not one but many lives in the Irish famine. It would save more than a score of lives in New York, if diligently used among those who are approaching the Potter’s Field, which annually receives eight thousand of the dead of New York. It would establish, if invested at seven per cent., an institution that would permanently sustain educating to a virtuous manhood, two hundred and fifty of the waifs gathered in from the pollution of the streets, sending 79forth fifty redeemed ones every year. When $700,000 is squandered, such is the amount of human life destroyed, by destroying that for want of which the benevolent are unable to stay the march of disease, of crime, and of death.

The thought of snatching food from the starving, or turning out half-clad men and women to perish in the wintry snow, excites our horror, but which is the greater criminal, he who for avarice thus destroys one family, or he who in riotous ostentation destroys the means that would save a hundred lives? Does the fact that they are not in his presence, or may be a mile or two away, change the nature or results of his act? And does his accidental possession of the basis of life authorize him to destroy it?

It is not unreasonable to say that every thousand dollars wantonly wasted, represents the destruction of the one human life that it would have saved, and while this slaughter of the innocents proceeds, society is cursed with the presence of over 100,000 criminals, paupers, tramps, and vagrants in the State of New York, who might have been reared into respectable citizenship with a small fragment of the wealth that is squandered in the hurtful ostentation that panders to a vicious taste. While poor women in New York are fighting hunger at arm’s length, or looking through ash barrels and offal buckets, their wealthy sisters think nothing of spending ten, twenty, or thirty thousand dollars on their toilet, or wearing a $130,000 necklace, or half a million in diamonds in a Washington court circle,—all of which I hope to see in time condemned by a purer taste as tawdry and offensive vulgarity, even if it were not done in the presence of misery as it is. “Twenty-four hours in the slums” (says Julia H. Percy, in the New York World)—“just a night and a day—yet into them were crowded such revelations of misery, and depravity, and degradation as having once been gazed upon, life can never be the same afterwards.” Such is life in New York. What it is in “Darkest England,” as portrayed by General Booth, is too wretched and loathsome to be reproduced here. But we must not fail to understand that five sixths of the people of the millionaire’s metropolis, New York, live in the tenement-house region, a breeding centre of intemperance, pestilence, crime, and future mobs, where wretched life is crushed to deeper wretchedness by the avaricious exaction of unfeeling 80landlords10 worse than those against whom the Irish rebel. Is not the splendor of such a city like the hectic flush on the consumptive’s cheek? The statistics of the past year reveal the startling fact that New York is a decaying city; that its population has no natural growth, but had 853 more deaths than births.

The desire for ostentation as one of the great aims of life is inwoven into the whole fabric of society to the exclusion of nobler motives, for ostentation is death to benevolence. How many bankruptcies, how many defalcations, and frauds, how many absconding criminals, how many struggles ending in broken-down constitutions, how many social wrecks and embittered lives are due to its seductive influence, because the Church and the moral sentiment of society have not taken a stand against it, and education has never checked it, for it runs riot at the universities patronized by the wealthy.

New York has been said to spend five millions annually on flowers, which is far more a matter of ostentation than of taste, for as a rule “whatever is most costly is most fashionable.” Nor is the cost the only evil, for the costly dinners and parties of the ostentatious are not only characterized by an absence of serious and elevated sentiment, but by intellectual poverty and frivolous chatter. To waste $5,000 for an evening’s lavish display of flowers to a thoughtless and crowded throng, almost within hearing of the never-ending moan of misfortune in a city in which police stations shelter 150,000 of the utterly destitute every year, is a picturesque way of ignoring that brotherhood of humanity, which is gently and inoffensively referred to on Sunday.

Moralists and pietists have been so utterly blind to the nature of CRIMINAL OSTENTATION, that society is not shocked to read in parallel columns the crushing agonies of famine and pestilence, and the costly revels of aristocracy, or the 81millions wasted on royal families, that manifest about as much concern for the suffering million as a farmer feels for the squealing of his pigs in cold weather. No one is surprised or shocked to hear that in India, a land famed for poverty, famine, and pestilence, the maharajah of Baroda could offer a pearly and jewelled carpet, ten feet by six, costing a million of dollars, as a present to the woman who had pleased his fancy.11 How many lives and how much of agony did that carpet represent in a country where five cents pays for a day’s labor? Twenty million days’ labor is a small matter to a petty prince.

Criminal ostentation stands ever in the way of man’s progress to a higher condition, like a wasting disease that comes in to arrest the recovery of a patient. All schemes of benevolence, all efforts to gain a greater mastery of nature’s forces, and thus emancipate the race from poverty and pestilence, languish feebly, or totally fail, for want of the resources consumed in the blaze of ostentation. The resources of a Church that might abolish ignorance and pauperism must be given to uphold the royal state of lord bishops, who sit in parliament, and make a heavy incubus on all real progress, obstructing the measures which might uplift into comfort, decency, and intelligence, England’s three millions of submerged classes who live in destitution and misery.12

The upward progress of humanity is foreign to their thoughts, and the grandest problems of human life and destiny that ever interested the mind of man are investigated not by the aid of the millions that ostentation wastes, but by the heroic labors of the impoverished scholar, thankless until his only reward can be but a monumental stone. How seldom do we hear from the pulpit so bright a remark as that of the Rev. S. R. Calthrop, “If the governments of the world 82would spend on scientific discovery a hundredth part of what they spend on killing men, or rather in making preparation for killing men and then not doing it, the secrets of the earth would be laid bare in a time inordinately short.” But this very warlike ambition is a matter of CRIMINAL OSTENTATION, like that of the bullying pugilist, seeking the belt—the desperate determination to shine and boast as the master power in the field of war, which is to-day the insane ostentation fostered by the leading powers of Europe. Vanity, literally meaning emptiness, is the antithesis of wisdom, and military vanity is a half-way station on the road to insanity.

The profligacy of private ostentation extends in this country to public life, as was scandalously displayed in the twenty million State House job at Albany (which our arithmetic makes equivalent to twenty thousand lives) and renders all governmental affairs needlessly expensive13 (except in that admirable republic Switzerland), nor is it arrested by the solemnity of death, for a prodigal funeral and a hundred thousand dollar tomb for an individual eminent only by wealth is but a fashionable matter of course to-day. Against this my moral sense revolts. Had I the wealth of Crœsus, or the power of Napoleon, I could not consent to the evil record that my last act in life, in ordering a funeral and monument, was the effort to destroy as much as possible, and take from the resources of benevolence that which might gladden a thousand lives. To look back from the enlightened upper world upon such, a monument of base selfishness, would be the hell of conscience; but a simple rose or hawthorn over the couch of the abandoned form would harmonize well with the sentiments of heaven.

What is it but a matter of course, and fashionably proper 83for a minister representing the moneyless and homeless saint of Jerusalem, to spend in various ways ten or twenty times the average income of an American citizen. But has any man a right to indulge in needless and therefore profligate expenditure for himself, while misery unrelieved surrounds him?14 Could he, if he had an occasional throb of the sentiment of brotherhood, the divine love enforced by Jesus? Suffering, intense suffering of mind and body, is ever present in society, and we cannot ignore it or disregard it. Has any human being a right to look on at human suffering, and turn away contemptuously? to see men drowning and refuse to throw them the plank which lies conveniently by? to pass by the chamber of dying, with loud, unseemly revels? to titter and laugh alongside of the grave where an unrecognized brother is being buried? to feast upon costly wines and far-fetched elaborate viands at tables overloaded with fresh flowers and artistic gold, while the pallid faces of a hundred hungry ones are looking on, and who are not even recognized so much as the dog that receives a bone? To know that the city is attacked by a powerful army and refuse either to enlist for its defence, or to contribute means to help the defenders, would not be tolerated; but to do such things is precisely what selfish and unfeeling wealth demands, and what the aroused conscience of humanity will, ere long, forbid. It refuses to establish the industrial and moral education for all which would protect society from the invading forces of pauperism, crime, and pestilence. It refuses to suspend its costly royal revels until the voices of hunger and despair are silenced. It refuses to moderate its giddy round of fashionable frivolity and ostentation in the very presence of death, in the tenements where human life is reduced to less than half its normal length, so that death and revelry confront each other in the city.

I can imagine the voice of the million which says to the millionaire, we do not ask you to be a hero and leap in to save the drowning; we do not even require you to be a manly man and bestir yourself before a life is lost; but we do say that the 84drowning man shall not be doomed to drown by your indifference? but if there is a rope which may be thrown to him, or a plank to uphold him, that rope or that plank shall be used, even if you forbid and claim them as your vested rights. You have no vested rights paramount to the rights of the commonwealth. It can order you in times of danger to all to place your body for the protection of the city in the path of the cannon ball, and if the commonwealth can demand your life for the benefit of all, do you think it will allow its members to be slaughtered in order to sustain your revelry, and leave your piles of hoarded gold and silver to accumulate as a magazine of corruption and danger to society? No, Mr. Millionaire, poverty, pestilence, and crime, are making war upon society and tumbling their slaughtered thousands into Potter’s Fields. And if the commonwealth does not demand your personal service, but simply demands that you shall not make perpetual for the sake of ostentation all of the present unnatural inequality, you are surely treated justly and kindly.

When the planter objected to General Jackson’s using his cotton bales as a rampart for the defence of New Orleans, tradition says the General ordered him to take a musket and stand behind them as a common soldier. At present we ask only your superfluous cotton bales, and it would not be wise for you to oppose our demand. The people remember the unholy distinction of classes thirty years ago, which enabled a favored few patricians to flourish as vampires on the commonwealth, while the plebeians were giving it their sufferings, their blood, and their lives, and hence they seek justice through our enormous system of pensions.

Patricians would retain commanding superiority of wealth for power and ostentation, but the people object to this power and scorn the ostentation.

The immense concentration of wealth by syndicates, corporations, and trusts alarms us all, because we see in it a formidable danger to the republic.15 Colonel Higginson 85admits the evil, but denies that any method of counteracting it is known, yet it may easily be shown that we have several effective methods.

Our wealthiest are beginning to have incomes of over $5,000,000 a year, and it is very plain from the concentration of this wealth that a few wealthy men who could easily form themselves into close and secret corporation, will in time outweigh the entire republic, as Mr. Shearman says that 250,000 families are already a three fourths financial majority.

It was thought that this was impossible in our republic because we had no law of primogeniture, but we have another kind of geniture that is very effective. Recent statistics have shown that the very wealthy inhabitants of Fifth Avenue, 86New York, have in one year but one eighteenth as many children as the same number of families in the poorer neighborhood of Cherry Hill. Thus poverty multiplies itself rapidly, while wealth concentrates and needs no primogeniture to hold it together, because its numbers do not increase; and a similar fact, but not so extreme, appears in the reference to our Back Bay region in our own statistics, and in the statistics of Philadelphia. Thus it seems that we are destined to have the richest aristocracy by far that the world has ever dreamed of.

We know that concentrated wealth is power—and that great power is always dangerous to its neighbors. Like the slumbering power of dynamite, we are unwilling to have it near us, no matter how well guarded. I hold, therefore, that a republic has a right to guard itself against such dangers as much as the city has a right to prohibit the establishment of powder magazines in the centre of its population.

The profound and prophetic mind of Abraham Lincoln presaged this, and he said: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of the war. God grant that my suspicion may prove groundless.”

Wealth has a natural tendency to grow into an overwhelming power, for a million of dollars well managed will become $1,000,000,000 in a century and a half, and there are millionaires to-day who may become billionaires in forty or fifty years. But this growth has always been kept down by a generous or prodigal consumption, by ostentatious luxury, by profligacy, by pestilence, and by war. Yet when these checks are diminished; when, as in our republic, the danger of war is removed; when the generous consumption is hindered by wide-spread poverty; when pestilence is checked by sanitary improvements, and industry is enforced on the millions by daily necessity, then that growth of wealth which has been interrupted every few years in the old 87world by war, tyranny, taxation, standing armies, ignorance, and disease, will advance in our country as a mighty flood, impelled by the rains from heaven. The flood from heaven which is enriching us is the inspiration of genius in every form of science, art, and mechanical progress, which doubles and redoubles our productive power. We must look to human wisdom for the means of regulating the flow that it may act as a fertilizing rain, and not as a devastating flood, wasting the hillsides into barrenness, and sweeping away the bulwarks that the wise have erected.

It is no rhetorical exaggeration to speak of accumulated and unequal wealth as a dangerous flood. All ancient history proves it to be a danger. Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, and India, have shown by their terrible record how wealth in a few hands has ever proved a curse instead of a blessing to society. The pyramids of Egypt, an awful monument of the blood and toil of slaves, are a gloomy record of the senseless ostentation of despots, yet who ever speaks of the pyramids as the monuments of a crime?

Immense wealth for personal use is not a normal desire. It is an unsound, unhealthy appetite, resembling that of gluttony and darkness—an appetite that grows by what it feeds on and becomes insatiable.

It is an unsound appetite, for the increase of wealth already beyond all human wants, adds nothing to a man’s comforts or happiness—it adds only to his cares, which it increases, to his selfishness, which it intensifies, and to his power of indulging arrogance and ostentation. It impairs his sympathy with his fellowman, and inflames his egotism.

The superfluous mass of wealth serves only to supply an overruling power destructive to the social rights of others, and a haughty ostentation that humiliates fellow-citizens. It is, therefore, a hostile and dangerous element in a republic, although a few may hold great wealth and resist its insidious influence.

Both extreme wealth and extreme poverty are injurious to man and injurious to society, and if it is the law of nature that the fittest shall survive, the extremely wealthy are not the fittest, for through the centuries they do not survive. The extremely wealthy are dying out, for they do not have children enough to maintain their numbers. It is our duty so to shape our policy as to relieve the commonwealth of 88possible dangers from both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. They are twin evils; extreme wealth indicates extreme poverty, as mountains indicate valleys. Wealth, corruption, and despotism, are grouped together in history, as liberty has been grouped with equality, simplicity, hardihood, the mountain and the wilderness.

Great wealth is timid, narrow-minded, and opposed to reform, its method of opposition being corruption, and these characteristics are intensified in hereditary wealth. Wealth everywhere gives power to monopolize the face of the earth, and thus establish a hereditary nobility; for the landlords of millions of acres are the most substantial and formidable lords that society knows, and nowhere in the world have there been greater opportunities to establish such an aristocracy, which may be able to buy and sell the aristocracy of Europe. Our present national wealth, which is about one thousand dollars per capita, represents not the increased wealth of the masses but the enormous accumulations of a few. Our gain of about two thousand millions annually, does it represent the prosperity or the decline of the republic? If it is but aggregation of wealth, it is a decline, it is corpulence instead of strength.

Our social system has the elements of decay already as conspicuous as in the tuberculous patient. Invention increases the power of wealth instead of increasing the resources of manhood, for wealth absorbs and uses machinery and diminishes the relative value of the man by making him a machine attendant. In leather work he sinks from the independent shoemaker, safe in the patronage of his neighbors, to the mere tenth of a shoemaker who if dislodged from the factory is helpless. The independence of the hunter and the farmer is fast disappearing. Population is gathering in cities, and the country becoming the home of tenant farmers or day laborers on large estates. The middle class is declining, and society becoming slowly an aggregation of capitalists and employers, an unhealthy social condition, premonitory of struggles and conflicts that were not possible fifty years ago. At this moment a strike of 150,000 is threatened. But it is not merely the laboring classes, for all classes are threatened by our present dangerous system which is running on to sure destruction, like a locomotive let loose and flying wildly over the railroad. If there were 89no other formidable danger, the trust or syndicate is in itself a fatality. When a thousand millions enter the field they enter as master, in the Standard Oil fashion. They can buy out or crush out, as they may choose, every competitor in the field they may seize. There is not a single form of industry which they cannot monopolize, and where the monopoly is established, demand what prices they please for that which they alone can supply. Can we imagine the conventional brother Jonathan held down by the throat with iron grip, and his pockets open to the holder, or will he rebel before the grip is fastened? He does not seem aware how well it is fastened upon him already; but something decisive will be done long before a syndicate senate can rule the entire country. Ten years more will introduce the struggle. The struggle must come, for plutocracy is advancing to universal absorption, and labor is becoming defiant, and well it may, for the COMMONWEALTH represents not money but man, and when plutocracy, absorbing ninety-five per cent. of the nation’s wealth, assumes the practical government, the commonwealth with a firm hand will thrust it aside; but will it be a peaceful change, will the conquerors yield to the conquered? As the vampire bat fans its sleeping victims while absorbing their life blood, the advocates of capital deny that there is any such thing as plutocracy, or anything going on but the natural legitimate and healthful development of trade; and the medical corporations called colleges in seizing a stern monopoly of the healing art, assure us that it is only for the benefit and protection of the dear people who have not sense enough to distinguish between a successful and an unsuccessful doctor, and have so unpardonable a partiality for those who cure them cheaply without college permission. There is nothing too small for monopoly to grasp, not even the cheap dispensing of established remedies from the druggist’s counter.

It is a just and patriotic sentiment which looks with apprehension upon the great and irresponsible power developed by extreme wealth, which lifts the wealthy far above society, enabling them to indulge in profligate luxury, and to squander in a single evening’s pleasure (or display without pleasure) an amount that would make life prosperous to a hundred suffering families, or on a single piece of architectural splendor, enough to complete the education of the 90entire youth of a city—wealth enabling them to rival the despots of Europe in social ostentation, while almost within hearing of their revelry, ten or twenty thousand are suffering from want of employment, want of health, want of education, want of industrial skill, which society did not give them, suffering the slow death that comes through debility, emaciation, and disease, from toil and poverty, the sufferer being sometimes a woman in whom all the virtues have blossomed only to perish in the chilling atmosphere of poverty.16 This may be utterly senseless talk to those in whom the sentiment of brotherhood is dead, but it expresses sentiments to which millions respond, and it is refreshing to see that these statements, which at last have found free expression through The Arena, are also beginning to find a home in the minds of public leaders, whose voices will compel attention. I allude to the philanthropic expressions of the Emperor of Germany, and to the language of Mr. Gladstone, who shows that the necessity of philanthropic action on the part of the wealthy is increased by their changed attitude, as they are becoming more isolated from the people, and no longer take that friendly personal interest in their tenants and employes of every grade, which was formerly common. In this country, social ostentation is a great power to increase this separation of ranks, and the book of Jacob A. Riis, “How the Other Half Lives,” ought to be studied by every wealthy citizen as well as by reformers. Herbert Spencer, in a recent thoughtful essay, refers to this increasing interest in social welfare thus: “He is struck, too, by the contrast between the small space which popular welfare then occupied in the public attention, and the large space it now occupies, with the result that outside and inside Parliament, plans to benefit the millions form the leading topics, and every one having means is expected to join in some philanthropic effort.” This is because the millions demand it, and they who, like the writer, have for half a century been interested in behalf of the millions, may now be listened to.

The enormous wealth developed in our republic, in which 91a single city holds a thousand millionaires, controls the press, controls legislation, and teaches the ambitious to sell themselves to the wealthy who are the controlling power. Under such influences arises that moral insensibility which, in New York, could squander twenty millions on one building, while half the children were out of school, and a large portion of the insane were left wallowing in indecent filth, worse than that of a hog pen, as shown in the Albany Law Journal.

In presenting these views, I am not assailing millionaires as men more objectionable or censurable than any other class. It is not true that the mere ability to gain wealth implies moral inferiority, for it implies many substantial and honorable qualities. Reverse the social ranks, give the wealth to the poor, and our condition would not be improved, perhaps it would be much worse. The fault lies in our social system of struggle and rivalry, and while that system generates, as it always has, extreme wealth and extreme poverty, we must combat these two evils, and to control them is the purpose of this essay. Whether a better social system is possible that would PREVENT them, is not now under consideration, but surely there must be a system which will make unlimited wealth and unlimited poverty impossible, for such conditions are incompatible with a permanent, peaceful, and prosperous republic. As well might we expect a successful voyage from a ship with four-fifths of its cargo on the upper deck, as from a republic top heavy with millionaire capital. Can we believe that republics are forbidden by the laws of progress and evolution; that they must, as Macaulay maintained, come to a fatal crisis? I trust not. But does not our social system, inherited from barbarism, built up on the hot ashes left where the fires of war have desolated, necessarily develop that inequality which has swept the great empires of antiquity to their doom. When all the wealth of the nation has fallen into the possession of two per cent. of the population, the period of danger has arrived. Five per cent. of our population had, in 1880, absorbed four fifths of the national wealth, and at present, according to the careful statistics of Mr. Shearman, less than two per cent. hold seven tenths of our wealth, and are rapidly advancing to nine tenths, their progress being assisted by the indirect taxation which places the burden of government on the shoulders of poverty. Popular ignorance of public affairs has tolerated 92this, and has tolerated a financial system far worse, which has given capital all possible advantage of labor. We are drifting in the rapids; how far off is our Niagara? But labor is roused, and a change in our system of taxation is imminent.

Unlimited wealth and unlimited poverty are the necessary results of the warlike stage of progress, which develops the conquerors and the conquered in the great battle of life. Unnumbered centuries of tribal and international war have developed to high perfection the wolfish and tigerish instincts of humanity. What is called peace is a state of financial war. Beneath the smooth skin of the civilized man, we find the wolf in undiminished vigor. The triumphant wolf rides in his chariot; the conquered wolf sleeps in the open air along the alleys, wharves, and streets; but what cares the wolf triumphant for that? for the 30,000 homeless in London? The policeman’s club, or the bayonet, is the only thing that keeps down riot and arson, and the uncertainty of the result is all that hinders the French, German, and Russian wolves from turning a continent into a pandemonium. Is Europe truly a civilized country? Not if tried by an ethical standard. Von Moltke, the great man of Germany, who has so recently passed away, considered war a permanent institution.

In this wolfish stage of human development, altruism is almost unknown, except as an eccentricity. It is safe to say, as a general rule to which there are not many exceptions, that no man is fit to be entrusted with any more than he needs for his own comfortable existence. Every dollar beyond that sum is wasted in his hands. He has not the faintest conception that he is a trustee of all such wealth, responsible to heaven for its use. As he cannot consume it, he can but squander it to gratify his vanity, and lift himself to a position from which he can, or thinks he can, look down upon his fellows. The leading idea of the average citizen is to construct a palace that will cost ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred times as much as the residence that would be amply sufficient and pleasant.17 His talent for the destruction of wealth grows by indulgence, and thus the millions that the financial 93conquerors have won from the conquered are thrown into the blazing flame of ostentation, and might as well be thrown into a literal conflagration. Such is the humanity with which we have to deal at present. Wealth, no matter who holds it, does not restrain the destruction of the resources of the commonwealth, but the growl of the suffering millions may, and may lead to a recognition of the grand truth that everything beyond the demands of human comfort is a sacred trust for humanity, and with the millions thus aroused, I believe it may be possible to introduce laws which will gradually change the entire condition of society, and leave in this broad land neither an American prince nor an American beggar—a change which will be a greater forward movement than that of 1776.

The leading purpose of such legislation will be the controlling of that lawless selfishness, which wantonly destroys all in which the community is interested; which on the prairies exterminates the buffalo, in the mountains and forests destroys the timber, bringing on as a consequence the drouth, floods, and desolate barrenness, under which a large part of the old world is suffering; which would exterminate the seals if government did not interfere, and would infect every city with pestilential odors of offensive manufactories; which would destroy the people’s national money for the benefit of private bankers, and pervert all the powers of government for the benefit of monopoly and organized speculation.

May we not look to that struggle for justice which to-day assumes the forms of Nationalism, Farmers’ Alliance, People’s Party, Knights of Labor, and Land Nationalization, to accomplish this purpose and emancipate the present from the barbarian ideas of the past?

(To be concluded in July Arena.)

A portrait, signed 'Cordially Yours, Ernest Allen'




The service rendered to humanity by Mr. Herbert Spencer in the elaboration of the Synthetic Philosophy, should command the admiration and gratitude of all broad-minded men. There are certain fallacies in the argument by which Religion is relegated into the “Unknowable,” however, to which it will be the purpose of this essay to call the reader’s attention. If Religion really be, by its very nature, unknowable, it follows that as man grows in intelligence, the extent to which it occupies his thought will tend to diminish towards final extinction. It is a thoroughly wholesome state of affairs that, like all things which claim our consideration, Religion should again and again be compelled to step into the arena to vindicate its right to hold sway over humanity. Nor is the attitude of many minds which places Religion upon the defensive, unreasonable, or the outgrowth of a perverse spirit, but, on the contrary, it results from the questionings of those eager to find the truth and anxious to “prove all things” and cast error aside. Let us see if Religion can withstand the fierce onslaught, threatening its very life, which Mr. Spencer makes in his “First Principles” (pp. 3-123).

Our author’s first attempt is to “form something like a general theory of current opinions,” so as neither to “over-estimate nor under-estimate their worth.” As a special case from the examination of which he hopes to derive a general method, he traces the evolution of government from the beginning until now. It is held that no belief concerning government is wholly true or false; “each of them insists upon a certain subordination of individual actions to social requirements…. From the oldest and rudest idea of allegiance, down to the most advanced political theory of our 95own day, there is on this point complete unanimity.” He speaks of this subordination as a postulate “which is, indeed, of self-evident validity,” as ranking “next in certainty to the postulates of exact science.” As the result of his search for “a generalization which may habitually guide us when seeking for the soul of truth in things erroneous,” he concludes: “This method is to compare all opinions of the same genus; to set aside as more or less discrediting one another those various special and concrete elements in which such opinions disagree; to observe what remains after the discordant constituents have been eliminated, and to find for the remaining constituent that abstract expression which holds true throughout its divergent modifications.”

What did Mr. Spencer discover by the application of his method to government? A postulate which he announces to be of “self-evident validity,” an “unquestionable fact”—that is all! His method is a statement of the process of abstraction. Very useful though it is in determining what one or more predicates may be affirmed of many objects of thought which differ widely otherwise or in revealing truths, as he points out, respecting which men can by no possibility disagree, it cannot assist us in discriminating between true and false “discordant constituents,” for which purpose a simple method would be helpful. Certainly this is not the method which gave us the most “advanced political theory” of the day! The fact is, that when used, as Mr. Spencer suggests, it shrivels the total content of any subject under consideration, down to the one truth lying at the foundation of the most primitive theory. In the case of Religion, he alleges that the one point upon which there is entire unanimity between the most divergent creeds, between the lowest fetichism and the most enlightened Christianity, is this: “That there is something to be explained.” An interesting piece of information, surely! Yes, but “the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable.” Over against this, we have the magnificent superstructure of modern Science, erected by the employment of methods quite other than the one which he esteems competent to overthrow Religion.

The postulate, a straight line may be drawn between two points, while it makes a geometry possible, reveals nothing as to the properties of lines; so, in the present case, the 96proposition resulting from the process of abstraction, “there is something to be explained,” affirms that, at least à priori, Religion is possible, but decides nothing as to the truth or falsity of unnumbered statements which millions of people have believed for centuries to belong to the domain of Religion. This method does not and cannot discredit Religion.

“Religious ideas of one kind or another,” says Mr. Spencer, “are almost universal…. We are obliged to admit that, if not supernaturally derived, as the majority contend, they must be derived out of human experiences, slowly accumulated and organized…. Considering all faculties,” under the evolutionary hypothesis, “to result from accumulated modifications caused by the intercourse of the organism with its environment, we are obliged to admit that there exist in the environment certain phenomena or conditions which have determined the growth of the feeling in question, and so are obliged to admit that it is as normal as any other faculty…. We are also forced to infer that this feeling is in some way conducive to human welfare…. Positive knowledge does not and never can fill the whole region of possible thought. At the utmost reach of discovery there arises, and must ever arise, the question—what lies beyond?… Throughout all future time, as now, the human mind may occupy itself, not only with ascertained phenomena and their relations, but also with that unascertained something which phenomena and their relations imply. Hence if knowledge cannot monopolize consciousness—if it must always continue possible for the mind to dwell upon that which transcends knowledge; then there can never cease to be a place for something of the nature of Religion; since Religion under all its forms is distinguished from everything else in this, that its subject matter is that which passes the sphere of experience.” Religion is “a constituent of the great whole; and being such must be treated as a subject of Science with no more prejudice than any other reality.”

It will suit our present purpose to divide the cognitive faculties into intuitive and non-intuitive. If I rightly understand Mr. Spencer, when he says of the subject matter of Religion that it “passes the sphere of experience,” he means that the content of Religion results from the action of the non-intuitive faculties upon material furnished by the intuitive 97faculties, and not from the immediate action of the latter upon environment. For the sake of the argument, I will grant this position. In order that mankind may build up sciences in which it reposes such confidence, the action of the non-intuitive faculties must be trusted, for it is only through such action that sciences can ever be constructed from the materials of experience. Granting, then, the general trustworthiness of mental operations, the mind cannot abstract out of human experiences what was not already in them; cannot evolve what was not involved. The separation of the true from the false in Religion, then, must be accomplished, as in the case of Science, by verifying the intuitions and going repeatedly over the chains of reasoning which lead to the conclusions farthest removed from intuitions, to guard as much as possible against error. Thus, because drawn out from given data, certain conclusions will embody to-day what is true in Religion, and later, with an enlarged experience, more or less modified conclusions will express what will then be seen to be true. This is in accord with the general law of evolution which holds for Science. From the present point of view, Mr. Spencer seems to concur in the above, since he says of religious ideas, that “to suppose these multiform conceptions” to “be one and all absolutely groundless, discredits too profoundly that average human intelligence from which all our individual intelligences are inherited.”

To the statement that the mind cannot abstract out of human experiences what was not already in them, Mr. Spencer could make, I think, but one answer, to wit: that while the operations of the mind are generally reliable, and while there has been an element in human experience which seemed to warrant conclusions derived from them, nevertheless, mankind has egregiously erred in thinking that it had the power to build up a valid content to Religion, since the very nature of Religion is such, that the mental operations which are reliable in the realm of Science cannot be so in the realm of Religion. To answer this, we must consider the argument for conceivability as the touchstone which is to separate the “Knowable” from the “Unknowable.” Corresponding to small objects, a piece of rock for example, where the sides, top, and bottom can be considered as practically all present in consciousness at once, and large ones, like the earth, 98where they cannot, our author divides conceptions into complete and symbolic. Great magnitudes and classes of objects also produce symbolic conceptions which, while indispensable to reasoning, often lead us into error. “We habitually mistake our symbolic conceptions for real ones.” The former “are legitimate, provided that by some cumulative or indirect process of thought, or by the fulfilment of predictions based upon them, we can assure ourselves that they stand for actualities,” otherwise “they are altogether vicious and illusive” and “illegitimate” and here belong religious ideas.

The foregoing is applied by Mr. Spencer in his argument relative to the origin of the Universe respecting which, he asserts that “three verbally intelligible suppositions may be made”: (1) that it is self-existent, (2) that it was self-created, (3) that it was created by an external agency. “Which of these suppositions is most credible it is not needful here to enquire. The deeper question, into which this finally merges, is, whether any one of these is even conceivable in the true sense of the word.” He shows that, since the mind refuses to accept the transformation of absolute vacuity into the existent, the theory of self-creation forces us back to a potential Universe whose self-creation was transition to an actual Universe, and that then, we must explain the existence of the potential Universe and that, similarly, creation by an external agency demands that we account for the genesis of the Creator, so that both of these theories involve the self-existence of a something. Therefore, I shall analyze his presentation of the first theory only. “Self-existence necessarily means existence without a beginning; and to form a conception of self-existence is to form a conception of existence without a beginning. Now by no mental effort can we do this. To conceive existence through infinite past-time, implies the conception of infinite past-time, which is an impossibility. To this let us add, that even were self-existence conceivable, it would not in any sense be an explanation of the Universe…. It is not a question of probability, or credibility, but of conceivability.”

In making conceivability the supreme test as to what is knowable, Mr. Spencer sets up a criterion which he himself violates. If it can be shown that he places at the very foundation of Science a postulate or, what is generally conceded 99to be a demonstrated truth, which, equally with the conception of the Universe as self-existent, involves the conception of infinite past-time, it is evident that we shall have broken down the fundamental distinguishing characteristic which separates his “Knowable” from his “Unknowable,” and thus leave Science and Religion standing upon the same level of validity in their relation to the human mind. In the second part of “First Principles,” which treats of the “Knowable,” Mr. Spencer says (p. 180): “The Indestructibility of Matter … is a proposition on the truth of which depends the possibility of exact Science. Could it be shown, or could it with any rationality be even supposed, that Matter, either in its aggregates or in its units, ever became non-existent, there would be need either to ascertain under what conditions it became non-existent, or else to confess that Science and Philosophy are impossible. For if, instead of having to deal with fixed quantities and weights, we had to deal with quantities and weights which were apt, wholly or in part, to be annihilated, there would be introduced an incalculable element, fatal to all positive conclusions” (p. 172). Considering that in times past men have believed in the creation of Matter out of nothing and in its annihilation, he points out that it is to quantitative Chemistry that we owe the empirical basis for our present belief.

Next he inquires “whether we have any higher warrant for this fundamental belief than the warrant of conscious induction,” and writes as follows of logical necessity (pp. 172-179): “The consciousness of logical necessity, is the consciousness that a certain conclusion is implicitly contained in certain premises explicitly stated. If, contrasting a young child and an adult, we see that this consciousness of logical necessity, absent from the one is present in the other, we are taught that there is a growing up to the recognition of certain necessary truths, merely by the unfolding of the inherited intellectual forms and faculties. To state the case more specifically:—before a truth can be known as necessary, two conditions must be fulfilled. There must be a mental structure capable of grasping the terms of the proposition and the relation alleged between them; and there must be such definite and deliberate mental representation of these terms as makes possible a clear consciousness of this relation…. Along with acquirement of more complex 100faculty and more vivid imagination, there comes a power of perceiving to be necessary truths, what were before not recognized as truths at all…. All this which holds of logical and mathematical truths, holds, with change of terms, of physical truths. There are necessary truths in Physics for the apprehension of which, also, a developed and disciplined intelligence is required; and before such intelligence arises, not only may there be failure to apprehend the necessity of them, but there may be vague beliefs in their contraries…. But though many are incapable of grasping physical axioms, it no more follows that physical axioms are not knowable à priori by a developed intelligence, than it follows that logical relations are not necessary, because undeveloped intellects cannot perceive their necessity.

“The terms ‘à priori truth’ and ‘necessary truth’ … are to be interpreted,” he continues, “not in the old sense, as implying cognitions wholly independent of experiences, but as implying cognitions that have been rendered organic by immense accumulations of experiences, received partly by the individual, but mainly by all ancestral individuals whose nervous systems he inherits. But when during mental evolution, the vague ideas arising in a nervous structure imperfectly organized, are replaced by clear ideas arising in a definite nervous structure; this definite structure, molded by experience into correspondence with external phenomena, makes necessary in thought the relations answering to absolute uniformities in things. Hence, among others, the conception of the Indestructibility of Matter…. Our inability to conceive Matter becoming non-existent, is immediately consequent upon the nature of thought…. It must be added, that no experimental verification of the truth that Matter is indestructible, is possible without a tacit assumption of it. For all such verification implies weighing, and weighing implies that the matter forming the weight remains the same. In other words, the proof that certain matter dealt with in certain ways is unchanged in quantity, depends on the assumption that other matter otherwise dealt with is unchanged in quantity.”

In answer to the above it can be said:—

First. The current explanation of the existence of Matter is that it was created by an external agency. Mr. Spencer’s lucid statement of the way in which Matter has been proved 101indestructible does not go far enough. Where he stops, logic might justly pronounce the whole procedure a fallacious one, a begging of the whole question at issue. The binding force of the whole argument rests upon a rational principle here overlooked by Mr. Spencer, the principle of sufficient cause. The chemist in making the experiment found that certain substances counterbalanced a given weight; after combustion, the products counterbalanced the same weight. If the weight did not change during the experiment, then no matter had been destroyed. The weight is believed not to have changed, because it existed under ordinary and quiescent conditions: which, in view of past race experience, rendered it extremely improbable that any force sufficient to vitiate the result had come into play during the experiment. The absence of a sufficient cause to change the weight, is, then, the critical point of the argument, and the perfect trust of the mind in the principle of sufficient cause forces us to the conclusion that Matter is indestructible.

What has really been accomplished, however, by the experiment? I do not object to the statement that Matter is indestructible, but the meaning of this explicitly stated, is that in the light of the present knowledge of the race, we have experimented with Matter under certain extreme conditions—some chemical changes seeming, at first glance, to annihilate it—and have not been able to destroy it, therefore, Matter is indestructible. While this is true to an extent which preserves the integrity of the foundation for our Science and our Philosophy, it is at the same time consistent with the hypothesis that a Being surpassing man in intelligence and power, may be able to convert Matter into a not-matter—from the standpoint of present definitions of Matter and Space—quantitatively correlated with it, or vice versa; and this statement of the case harmonizes Science and Religion. Now, what from the point of view of Science Mr. Spencer accepts as indestructibility, is identical with what Religion means when it affirms self-existence, and as he has demonstrated to his own satisfaction that self-existence in the abstract is an illegitimate conception, a conception of what by its very nature is unknowable, because it involves the impossible conception of infinite past-time, he is logically bound by accepting one horn of the dilemma, to 102admit the conception of self-existence into the realm of the Knowable, or by choosing the other, to transfer his “Indestructibility,” his “possibility of exact Science” into the realm of the Unknowable! In either event, we place an ultimate religious idea and a scientific conception whose denial he admits to be the annihilation of exact Science, upon the same footing, and so reduce the distinguishing characteristic which he has set up to differentiate the Knowable from the Unknowable, to zero.

Second. We come now to the statement of some of the consequences which follow from Mr. Spencer’s view—already explained—as to how the higher warrant, by which we know the Indestructibility of Matter to be an axiom, a self-evident truth, originated. In his chapter upon “Ultimate Scientific Ideas” he says that Space and Time are “wholly incomprehensible,” and that “Matter … in its ultimate nature, is as absolutely incomprehensible as Space and Time.” He affirms, as pointed out, that no experimental verification is possible without assuming what we set out to prove. If the chemical balance cannot demonstrate this truth, how, then, can we know it? It is, we are told, an à priori or necessary truth which arises in our consciousness through the “cognitions that have been rendered organic by immense accumulations of experiences, received partly by the individual, but mainly by all ancestral individuals whose nervous systems” we inherit. This is Mr. Spencer’s answer. This commits us to the absurdity, that the truth of the doctrine of the Indestructibility of Matter has come to be accepted as axiomatic by the repetition of cognitions of an inconceivable “absolute uniformity” of things, by an indefinite series of ancestors, in the face of the fact that the present development of Science does not now permit us, with the aid of all its apparatus, to receive a single logically valid cognition from the same phenomenal world which supplied all the others; ergo, add together a sufficient number of cognitions of the inconceivable, and you arrive at an axiomatic truth! To lift a ton weight, apply a vast number of forces of one ounce intensity, acting successively in time, and the thing is done!

Mr. Spencer cannot point out the characteristics which separate those inconceivable things and qualities which may legitimately furnish the raw material for the development of 103axioms, from those which cannot, since this would at once remove them to the category of the conceivable, and he cannot exhaustively catalogue the axioms, since the process of evolution which he puts forth as the sole and sufficient explanation of their origin and growth is still going on. We therefore see that we are justified in saying that conceivability is worthless as a test as to whether an object of thought lies within the domain of the Knowable or Unknowable. Further, should a theologian say to Mr. Spencer “To me, the existence of God and his Infinite Love, Wisdom, and Power rank as axioms,” I do not see how, consistently with the above, he could deny that these truths were valid to the theologian, even if they were not so to his own mind. How completely we have placed Religion and Science upon the same level is evident from our author’s statement that “a religious creed is definable as a theory of original causation” and from the fact that a self-existent Universe is one of the three possible hypotheses which he mentions in his argument.

Space forbids the criticism of Mr. Spencer’s doctrine of the relativity of knowledge and of the speculations concerning the Infinite and Absolute based upon the writings of Hamilton and Mansel. I have been restricted, also, to the negative side of the question, but so far as inconceivability enters as a factor into the argument against Religion, I contend that it has broken down; that so far as that element affects the problem, Religion has as high credentials as Science.




Some barks there are that drift dreamily down stream, ever near to the shore where the waters are shallow. Some catch the current and go bounding on with sweep and swirl until the river, placid at last, slips into the tideless Everlasting. Some, alas! commanded by iron-hearted Fate, are headed up stream to fight—who dares call it Folly’s battle?—against the current which yields only to the invincible will and the tireless arm. They lie who swear that life turns on mere accident. There are no accidents in fate. The end is but a gathering of the means; the means but byways to the end; and at the last fate is master still, and we its victims are, as was she, my Claudia.

I am an old woman, childless and loveless; I know what it is to stand alone with life’s hollow corpses,—corpses of youth, and love, and hope. Perhaps this is why my heart turned to her in her sweet youth and guileless innocence. I used to fancy, when I saw her, a child under the old-fashioned locust’s shade that fell about her father’s modest place, that she was unlike other children. She had a thoughtful face—not beautiful, but soulful. I thank God now that the child was spared that curse. Fate set snares enough without that deadliest one of beauty. Yet she had soul; her eyes betrayed its strength and mirrored its deep passion,—that mightiest, holiest passion which men call genius. Her genius merely budded; fate set its heel against the plant and crushed it.

I knew her from her birth; knew her strong-hearted mother, and her gentle father, who slipped the noose of life when Claudia was a tiny thing, too young to more than lisp his name. Yet, with his last breath he blessed her, and blessed the man into whose arms he placed her, and left her to his care.

“You have said you owe me something,” said the dying man; “if so, pay it to my child, my girl-babe, in fatherly advice and guidance.”

105That man had been a felon and would have met a felon’s doom but for the friend whose child had been confided to his guidance. He had saved him by silence and by loans which had beggared him in lending. He was a strong man, and left his daughter something of his strength for heritage, and that was all. But from her mother, her great-souled mother, the child received enough of courage, and of hope, and faith, and energy, to make her life a sure thing at all events.

I lost her ’twixt the years of girl and womanhood, for both of us were poor, and I took such scanty living here and there as offered. But one day she found me out, and begged me to go with her to her old home under the locust trees. All were dead but her; she was alone; needed me for protection, and I, she argued, needed part of the old roof, too large for one small head.

“There’s a mortgage on it, dear,” she told me, “but I am young and strong, and have some education and some little energy; and,—” she laughed, “the note is held by that old boy-friend of my father who promised to look out for me, you know. So I have no fears of being turned out homeless, Gertie.”

So I went, and tried to be to her a friend. Instead, I was her lover—her worshipper. Her soul, as it opened to me day after day, expanding under the visé of poverty, took on such strength, such grandeur, that I almost stood in awe of her. She was so young, too, yet strong—strong as God, I used to think—and full of hope, and courage, and ambition. Ambition! that isn’t a word often applied to women; yet I say Claudia was ambitious. I upbraided her one day for this. She winced, and came and knelt down at my feet, her face upon her hands, her arms upon my knees, her sweet soul seeking mine through her eyes.

“Gertie,” said she, “I wonder why God made me a woman and fixed no place for me in all the many niches of creation. There is no room for such women as I am; women with bodies moulded for womanhood, and souls measured for man’s burdens.”

The words had a solemn sound—a solemn meaning likewise. I had no answer for such awesome words, and so the child talked on.

“I had a mother once,” she said, “who loved me, and who unfitted me—God rest her sainted memory—for my battle 106with adversity. Nay, dear, don’t look so shocked. I say that she unfitted me by instilling into my heart her own great grandeur, and her own grand courage. There is no room for such, I tell you. As a frail female weakling the slums would have cradled me; as a wife the world would have respected me; as a toiler for honest bread there is no place for me. My mother was to me a creature next to God, and I have sometimes dared to put her first when I have felt most deeply all her nobleness. My father died, then came our struggle, hers and mine. I was her idol, she my God. We clung as only child and parent can. I could have made good money in the shops or factories. The neighbors said so, and advised that I be ‘put to work.’

“‘What need had paupers of such training as she was giving me? Poverty was no disgrace, so it be honest poverty.’

“Aye, that’s it. How long will poverty be honest in children’s untrained keeping? My mother understood, and knew my needs, as well.

“‘The child is what the mother makes it,’ was her creed. And so she set her teeth against the factory and its damning influence, and she bade me look higher, teaching by her own life that hunger of body is better than a starved soul.

“Ambition was the food she gave my young life; that she declared the one rope thrown by God’s hand to the rescue of poor women. At last my soul took fire with hers; my heart awoke.

“My struggles for opportunities tortured her. She sold her thimble once,—a pretty golden one, my father’s gift—that I might have a book I needed. She did our household drudgery that the servant’s wage might go for my tuition in a thorough school. Oh, how we labored, she and I together, cheating night of many hours o’er books and study that were to repay us at the last with decent independence.

“The school days ended, the neighbors urged again the shops. But ‘no’ again. She had not spent her strength to fit me for the yard-stick and the shop-girl’s meagre living. She read the riddle of my being as only mothers can; saw the stamp upon my soul and fondly called it genius. Pinned her faith upon that slumbering curse, or blessing, as we choose each to interpret it.

“I had a little school some sixty miles from home. She 107had agreed that I might teach; that was in the course in which she wished my life to go. The schoolhouse was a cabin in the wood, through which flowed a river. We cannot tell the route by which we run to fame, and mine lay through this cabin in the woods. I scribbled bits of rhyme and broken verse, constantly; and found it fame enough if in the hurried jingle my mother detected ‘improvement,’ ‘promise.’

“But one day when the river burst its banks, the cabin, deluged, lay under water for ten days, and I became a temporary prisoner in my miserable boarding-house, I wrote a story, a simple, earnest little story. It sold, and more, it won a prize. Two hundred and fifty dollars,—it would take ten months of the little school to make so much. When it came—Gertie, I cannot tell you how I felt!—I thought that somehow in the darkness I had reached my hands out and found them clasped in God’s; held tight and fast, and strong and safe. I kneeled down in that cabin schoolroom, with the awe-struck children gathered round me, and choked with sobs and happy tears, thanked God who sent the blessed treasure.

“I had but one thought—Mother. I sent the children home—my work with them was done. Now I could go to her, and with a sprig of laurel to lay upon my brow, could silence stinging tongues while I worked quietly on at home. Home! never would I leave its blessed roof again. Oh, how my longing heart hurried my laggard feet. I did not write; no pen should cheat my tongue of the blessed story. I wished to feel her arms, see her smile, catch her heart-beat while I told her. God! I whispered His name softly in gratitude and love. I planned my surprise well, but I was doomed to disappointment. It was midnight when I reached the town; the streets were silent and no one spoke to me. ‘Some one must have told her,’ I said, as the hack in which I rode drew up before the door, and I saw the house was lighted; every window was wide open; and her room, where I, a child, had learned my woman’s lesson, was filled with people. Solemn, sitting folk; it was not a jubilee at all. ‘She is sick,’ I gasped, as my trembling fingers sought the gate latch. No, I saw her bed, the bed where I had nestled in her arms for eighteen years. It was white and stiff in its familiar drapings. I tore the gate ajar and bounded up the 108steps. My youngest sister met me in the doorway, weeping. I brushed her aside and passed in among the friendly neighbors who had hurried out on my arrival. I felt, but scarcely saw them as I said: ‘I want my mother.’ Then some one burst in tears and pointed to the open parlor door. Merciless heaven! resting upon two chairs stood a long, brown box; a coffin. I gave one shriek, so wild, so full of agony that not one who heard it stayed to offer the hollow mockery of comfort. ‘Merciful God! not my mother?’

“But it was. I never saw her face again. I would not look on it in death; that face which had been my life. But I love to think I have her presence with me here, together with her teaching, in my bosom. And with her help, for the dear dead always help us, I am working out my destiny after the pattern she set me. It is a hard task; grows harder every day; but I am young yet, and strong.”

Poor child. She did not know the dangers of the road she travelled; she only knew its hardships. Day after day she toiled, hopeful even in failure. The bloom left her cheek; but faith still fired her eye. One day she put away her manuscript, and left the house. The next day she returned. She had been to ask for her old place in the cabin schoolhouse. Too late; the place was filled. She sought one of her mother’s friends and asked for work, copying. She returned with white face and set lip, and a look of horror in her eyes. I understood. God help the poor, the respectable poor, those starvelings who cannot rise to independence and cannot sink to vileness. And oh, I prayed, God pity her,—my Claudia.

I watched her struggles with my own power palsied by that same old curse, poverty. She did her best; her struggles were torture to me even when she smiled and met them with sweet faith in her own strength and God’s goodness. She never once murmured, although I knew that many a night she had gone hungry to her desk, and rose from it, hungry still, at dawn.

And oh, when hope began to die, I saw it all; saw it in the weary eyes; heard it in the step that lagging past my door, climbed to its task, its hopeless task, again. I saw it in the cheek where hunger,—the hunger of the common herd—had set its fangs upon the delicate bloom. To ask for bread meant to receive a stone, a stone like unto the 109stones cast at her, that one in old Jerusalem. Perhaps she hungered too; who dares judge, since Christ himself refused to condemn.

She tried at shops at last, but no man wanted modest Quaker maids to measure off their goods. The shop-girl’s smile was part and parcel of the bargain, and if the smile beguiled a serpent in man’s clothing, why the girl must look to that.

One night I sought her room, her tidy little nest—my poor solitary birdling—and found her at her work, her old task of writing. She had gone back to it. There were rings about the eyes where tears were forbidden visitors. I took the poor head in my arms.

“Don’t, Claudia,” I cried. “The youth is all gone from your face.” “That’s right,” she said. “It left my heart long ago, and face and heart should have a common correspondence.”

And then she laughed, as if to cheat my old ears with the sound of merriment.

“I needed stamps,” she said. “The question rested, stamps vs. supper. Like a true artist I made my choice for art. But see here. That manuscript when it is finished, means no more hunger. Something tells me it will succeed, and save me. So I have called it Refuge, and on it I have staked my last hope.”

She playfully tapped the tidy page, and laughed again. But her words had a solemn earnestness about them to which her pale pinched face lent something still of awe.

Day after day I watched her, as day after day the battle became too much for her. Too much? I spoke too quickly when I said so. She was a mystery to me. I felt but could not understand her life, and its grand, heart-breaking changes. She had planned for something which she could not reach. The doors to it were closed. Her starving woman’s soul called for food; the husks were offered in its stead; the bestial, grovelling, brutish swine’s husks. She refused them. Her soul would make no compromise with swine. She was so strong, and had been so full of hope I could not understand her. You who have studied the tricks of the human heart, you who have held your own while faith died in your bosom, or you who have felt it stabbed and crushed refuse to die, perhaps you can understand that strange and 110fitful strength that came and went; that outburst of hope, that silence of despair which made, in turn, my dear one’s torture.

One night I found her sitting in the moonlight with her face dropped forward on the windowsill. So pure, so white, so frail of body, and so strong of soul, she might have been some marble priestess waiting there for God’s breath to move in passion through the pulseless stone.

“Claudia, dear, are you asleep?” I whispered.

“No, I was thinking if the moon would ever shine upon the night when I shall feel no more the pangs of hunger.”

I took her in my arms and wept, although her eyes were strangely tearless. She put out her hand and stroked away my tears.

“Don’t, dear,” she begged. “It is all right. It is only that there is no place for me. The niche I wish to fill has never been chiseled in the wall of this world’s matters. It is God’s mistake if one is made, and God must look to it. I tell you, Gertie,” and she rose up grandly in her pride and in her wrath, “there are but two niches made for woman in this world. There’s but one choice, wife or harlot. The poor, who refuse still to be vile, must step aside, since honest poverty by man’s decree is but a myth. There’s no room in this world for such.”

She was growing bitter, bitter, driving on, I thought, to that fatal rock from which the wrecks of lost women cry back to rail at God who would not save them from destruction, although they prayed aloud and shrieked their agony up heavenward, straight to His ears. I think sometimes I should not like to sit in God’s stead when such women come to face His judgment. Women who called, and called, and never had an answer, and so went down, still calling.

It was thus she called.

One day I came upon her where she had thrown herself upon a little garden stool to rest. A book lay on her knee, her eyes upon the page; and as I listened, for she read aloud, slowly, as when one reads to his own heart, I caught the meaning of the poet’s words as they had found interpretation by her:—

“‘For each man deems his own sand-house secure,

While life’s wild waves are lulled; yet who can say,

If yet his faith’s foundations do endure,

It is not that no wind hath blown that way?’”

111She was silent a moment, then repeated the first line of the stanza again, even more softly than before,

“‘For each man deems his own sand-house secure.’”

Then, tossing the book aside, she burst out wildly, all the pent-up patience, all the insulted and outraged womanhood within her, breaking bonds at last. She lifted up her hand as if calling down from God a curse, or offering at His register an oath. It might have been an oath, indeed; who knows? Thinking of her since I think it was an oath, made, in that moment of her frenzy, betwixt her soul and God, and registered with Him.

“Gertie,” she said, “to-day a man offered me money. Offered me all I asked, offered to make me his mistress. Do you hear? Do you? or has your soul gone deaf as mine has? His mistress! I meet it everywhere. Yet why? Because I am respectably poor. To-morrow the roof tumbles about my ears. The mortgage closes. You and I alike are homeless. I went to him, my father’s friend, to whom, in dying, he entrusted me for guidance. I begged of him that guidance, or, at the least, a little longer time upon the mortgage. He laughed. ‘Don’t worry,’ said he, ‘and don’t soil your pretty hands with ink stains any further. Leave that for the printer, or the devil. You and I will make an easier trade.’ Ease! ease! I tell you ’tis these flowery beds of ease on which poor suffocated women wake in hell. ‘Soil’ my soul and leave that for the ‘devil,’ too, his trade meant. He put it in plain words, that gray-haired guardian of a dead friend’s honor. Ease! I did not ask for ease, but work. I am strong, and young, and willing; but my ‘sand-house’ trembles with the lashing of the tide on its foundation. O my God! what fools we women be to kick against the pricks of fate.”

“Each man deems his own sand-house secure.”

I repeated the words when she had left me there with the echo of her bitter rebellious words still ringing in my ears. I felt no anger and no fear for her, only sorrow, sorrow. My poor, proud darling. Her father’s house had sheltered many; his hand had been open and his bounty free. And yet not one reached out a hand to her. She might have begged, or held a hireling’s place. She was ‘not too good for it,’ the 112old friends said (so few are friends to poverty), but yet none found such a place for her.

Through my tears I saw her go down the garden walk, stopping to pluck a handful of the large Jack roses growing near the gate and tuck them in her belt, so that the dullish red blooms lay upon her heart, like blots of blood against her soft white dress. I shuddered, and drew my hand across my eyes. Blood! those old blood-roses rise before me now, in dreams at night. I heard the latch lift and click again into its place, and when I looked the child was gone.

She stayed a long while. Over all the garden and across the open windows, the moon was shining when I heard her step upon the doorway. It had a weary sound. Those feet which had begun so bravely were tired out already. Still had I no fear for her. She might have stayed until the gray dawn cleft the black of night and not one doubt of her could sting my faith. She climbed the stairs wearily, as if old age had of a sudden caught and cramped the young life in her feet; and listening thus I swore a mighty oath against the thing called Fate.

She so young, so strong, so willing, so full of aspiration, so loyal to faith and honor, with every door barred against her. O my God! was there none, not one human heart open to her cry? Was there but one resource—one opening for her pure soul and her proud heart—the harlot’s door? O my God! my God! women are driven to it every day, every day. Is it, indeed, the only door that opens to their knock? And would she, too, seek it at last, when faith should be quite dead? No, never! not while my palsied fingers could find strength to draw a knife across her throat.

I arose, and went to find her in her room. The door stood slightly open, and I entered, softly. Why so softly, I never could have told; only it seemed the proper thing to do. She had thrown herself across the bed, near by the open window. The moonlight flooded the room, showing me the strong, pale face lying against the pillow. Her white dress fell about her like a silverish shroud; and on the table near the window where she had sat to finish her task lay a manuscript. The moonlight fell upon the title page with mocking splendor. I stooped and read:

“‘Thou art our Refuge and our Strength.’”

113Dear heart! dear, sad soul! She had sought her refuge and indeed found strength. Strength! I brand him liar who calls it other.

One hand lay on the coverlid beside her, and one upon her breast half hidden by the dark blood-roses covering her heart. And that heart when I placed my hand over it—was still.

Broken! who dares say suicide? I say it was the grandest blow that weakness struck for virtue,—her life, offered in the name of outraged womanhood. The choice lay open. Shame or suicide! and like the real woman that she was, she made her choice for virtue. Conquered by fate, overcome by adversity, those who should have been helpers turned tempters. Who dares meet God in his soul and say she did not choose the better part?

“‘Thou art our Refuge and our Strength.’”

I whispered it above her grave and left her there, under the stars and broken lily buds.

But when the grand Jack roses bloom, I always think of her, and thinking, I ponder again the same old riddle, Fate, whose edict swears, “No room for honest poverty; no niche for such as she.” And thinking thus I wonder,—where shall the blame rest? Whose shall the crime be?




The “Ridger” is quite a different person from the Mountaineer. He looks upon the latter individual as a sodden and benighted unfortunate, whose inaccessible habitation entitles him to the pity of the favored dwellers on the “Ridge.”

That the Ridge is but a low out-put of the Mountain, that it is barren and isolated, does not disturb the comfortable theory of its inhabitants. To the people of the Valley the Ridger is a twin brother of the owner of the hut on the top-most peak of the range.

They look alike. Their bearing and habits are similar. To the Valley eye their clothes are of the same material and cut; but to the Ridger himself there is as wide a difference between him and his less favored brother on the “mounting” as that to be found by the stroller on Fifth Avenue when he gazes with profound contempt upon the egotistic biped who plainly hopes to deceive the elect into a belief that he, also, belongs to the charmed circle and has not simply “run over” from Jersey City, or St. Louis, or New Bedford.

The Mountaineer is frequently a Tunker, the Ridger rarely. Therefore the Ridger is likely to have a shaven face, and, for the younger contingent, a mustache is the rule, a “goatee” the fashion. To the Tunker none of these are permissible. The beard may not be cut, a mustache may not be worn, and, with the first of these propositions in force it will be seen at once that “a goatee” is quite out of the question.

When I say that the Ridger is likely to have a shaven face I do not intend to convey the impression that he ever uses a razor. He shaves his face with the scissors. His Tunker neighbor up the mountain performs the same feat on his own upper lip. The result is effective and satisfactory from both a religious and artistic outlook in the eyes of these sticklers for fashion and dogma, albeit, it might be looked upon as more or less disappointing by the habitués of the Union League Club or the devotees at St. Thomas.

115If the rivet, which at some previous date had held the two halves of the scissors together, happens to be lost, or if it has worn so loose that these members “do not speak as they pass by,” a jack knife or even a butcher’s knife is no stranger to the tonsorial process of these followers of the elusive god of style.

I do not know that I have ever met a Tunker so lost to a deep sense of religious duty, or a Ridger sufficiently devoid of the pride of personal appearance, that he would “go to town” without having first performed this rite.

It is a serious business.

In the house of my old friend Jeb Hilson there had once been a “lookin’ glass” of no mean proportions, if those of his neighbors may be taken as the standard, and how else do we measure elegance or style? It had occupied a black frame, and a position on the wall directly over a “toilet,” which was the most conspicuous piece of furniture in the room. At the present time there was nothing to tell the tale but a large nail (from which hung a bunch of seed onions,) and the smoked outline of something which had been nearly fourteen inches long and not far from the same width. In front of this drab outline Jeb Hilson always stood to shave. His memory was so tenacious that I never observed that he noticed the absence of the glass. He gazed steadily at the wall and worked the scissors so deftly that the stubble rained in little showers upon the top of the “toilet” and within the open bosom of his tennis shirt. Not that Jeb Hilson ever heard of tennis, or knew that he was clad in a garment of so approved a metropolitan style and make; but that was the pattern he had worn for many years, and it was the one which his women folk were best able to reproduce. His flannel ones were gray, and his trousers were belted about with a leather strap. For full dress occasions he wore a white cotton shirt of the same pattern and a brown homespun vest. This latter garment was seldom buttoned. Why hide the glory of that shirt? If Jeb owned a coat I have never seen it. He appeared to think it a useless garment.

I believe I did not say that Jeb Hilson was the leader of those who eschewed all hair upon the face. Whether this was done to show a profounder contempt for the Tunker superstition, or whether Jeb had a secret pride in the outline of his mouth and chin, and a desire to give full expression to their best effects, it would be hard to say. It is certain, 116however, that his motives must have been powerful, for he underwent untold torture to achieve his results. If the blades of the scissors clicked past each other or wabbled apart too far to even click, Jeb would resort to his knife and proceed to saw off the offending beard.

“Hit air saw off er chaw off,” he would remark laconically, as he tried first one implement and then the other. “I wisht ter gracious thet theer scisser leg’d stay whar’t war put; but Lide trum the grape vines with ’em las’ week an’ they is wus sprung then they wus befo’. But wimmen folks is all durn fools. I’d be right down glad ef the good Lord had a saw fit ter give ’em a mite er sense. Some folks sez it would er spilt ’em, but I’m blame ef I kin see how they could er been wus spilt than the way they is fixed now.”

He gazed intently at the smoked image on the wall, and collecting, between his thumb and finger, a pinch of hair on his upper lip began to saw at it with his knife. His large yellow teeth were displayed, and the appearance of a beak was so effectively presented by the protruded lip that words came from behind it with the uncanny sound of a parrot; but it did not occur to him to cease talking.

“I fromised” (his upper lip was drawn too far out to form the letter p, or any with like requirements), “I fromised the young ’squire ter be at the cote house ter day, an’ I tole him thet I’d ast the jedge fer ter ’fint a gyardeen fer thet theer demented widder uv Ike’s.”

He grasped a fresh bunch of stubble, shifted onto the other foot, turned the side of his face to the smoked image of the one time mirror, and rolled his eyes so that in case a glass had hung there he might have been able to see one inch from his left ear. The shaving went steadily on. So did the conversation.

“Ef I don’t make considdable much hase I’m gwine ter be late, an’ ef the jedge don’t ’pint a gyardeen fer thet theer Sabriny she’s goin’ fer ter squander the hull uv her proppity. Thet theer wuthless Lige Tummun is goin’ fer ter git the hull uv hit. Thet’s thes persisely what he’s a figgerin’ fer in my erpinion. He hev thes persuaged her fer ter let him hev the han’lin uv hit, an’ she air a goin’ ter live thar fer the res’er her days; but I’d thes like ter know what’s a goin’ ter hinder him fum a bouncin’ her thes es soon es he onct gits holt er the hull er thet theer proppity. An’ then whose a goin’ ter take keer uv her? Nobody air a hankerin’ 117fer ter take keer uv a demented widder woman onless she air got proppity. But I hain’t a wantin’ ter say much, fer they is folks mean enough ter up an’ think I mout be a try’n ter git holt er thet proppity myse’f, an’ have the han’lin uv hit; so I thes tole the young ’squire abouten hit, an’ he thes rec’mended me fer ter thes go ter town nex’ cote day an’ erply ter the jedge fer ter ’pint a gyardeen over Sabriny.”

The shaving was finished at last and the homespun “weskit” donned. He stood in front of the smoked reminder while he performed this latter feat, and, after staring intently at the wall, appeared to be perfectly content with the result. Then he trudged away and joined the innumerable host which would as soon think of staying away from town on court day as it would think of standing on its head to pray.

All Ridgers of the masculine gender went to town on court day, and as few Valley men failed to do the same—whether because they knew it would be a good chance to see everybody in the county and talk politics, or because few men were so destitute as to be without lawsuits of their own,—certain it is that they all went and that it furnished topics of conversation which lasted until court day rolled around again.

As I was a guest at the “young ’squire’s” house I was privileged to hear on the following day some further conversation on the subject of Sabriny’s guardian. I was sitting on the front porch with the sweet and simple-hearted mother of the young ’squire when Jeb Hilson’s lithe form appeared.

Jeb was still in full dress. The fronts of his vest hung beneath his long arms as he walked, and he wore his white cotton shirt, somewhat the worse for its “Cote Day” experiences, it must be confessed. On his head was one of those delightfully soft straw hats which the young men of the valley buy by the dozen for fifty cents, wear until they get damp, or for some other reason droop about the face and head like a “Havelock,” and then cast aside for a new one. But a Ridger does not pay out five cents recklessly. One of these straw coverings must last him all summer. But for all that a Ridger must see, and therefore the front of the drooping brim is sacrificed to stern necessity when it can no longer be kept off of the face. The effect is unique. A soft straw crown, run to a peak; a pendant wide brim touching the back and shoulders; a few “frazzles” of straw on 118the forehead which tell where a brim once was; for the Ridger cuts the front out with the same scissors or knife with which he shaves, and with no more accuracy of outline. The young farmers wear these broad straw hats to protect their faces and eyes from the down-beating sun. The Ridger appears to wear them purely for ornament, since the only protection which they offer in their new shape is to the back of necks already so wrinkled and tanned that even a Virginia sun could hardly penetrate to a discomforting degree.

Jeb nodded to me. Then he took his straw ornament by the top of the peak and lifted it high above his head, so that he could bring it forward without scraping his hair, and “made his manners” to the young “’squire’s” mother. He seated himself on the upper step of the wide gallery, crossed his long legs, placed his straw ornament carefully on his knee, with the pendant portion falling toward his foot, and began a bit of diplomatic manœuvring.

“Howdy, Miss Brady, howdy. I hope yo’ health is tollible. I thes thought I’d like t’ see the young ’squire. Air he in? Hit air thes a leetle bisness matter twixt him an’ me, thes a leetle matter uv mo’ er less intrust’ t’ us both.”

But the young ’squire was not at home. His mother indicated a willingness to convey any message to him upon his return; but Jeb, always contemptuous of women, was in a state of elusive subtlety. Someone in town had lent wings to his already abnormally developed caution in the matter of the application for the appointment of the “gyardeen” for his weak-minded sister-in-law, and had hinted that he might have to swear to her mental condition if he became the sponsor for such a move. Jeb was wily. He had tasted of his brother’s wife’s wrath on more occasions than one, and whatever his opinion may have been of the strength of her mind, he entertained no doubts as to the vigor of her temper when it was aroused. Jeb wanted to be appointed her “gyardeen.” He looked upon the “proppity” as a vast and important financial trust. If he asked the judge to appoint a guardian, and Sabriny knew that he had said that she was of defective intellect—well—Jeb would face much to be allowed to handle that $134.92. (This was the “proppity” in question. It was a “back” pension and there was to be $2.11 per month henceforth.) But Jeb was not foolhardy, and he had trudged back from town without 119having done what the young “’squire” had advised, and Sabriny’s “proppity” was in jeopardy still.

“No,” he said, wagging his head and looking slyly at the young ’squire’s mother. “No, I thes wanted ter see the young ’squire fer a leetle private talk. I thes promised him fer ter do sompin, an’ then I never done it. Not as he’d keer; but I thes wanted ter make my part fa’r an’ squar’.”

He espied a straw that had straggled out from the ragged cut in the front of his hat. He took it firmly between thumb and finger and gave it a quick sidewise jerk, whereupon it parted company forever with its fellows. Jeb inserted this between two of his lower front teeth at their very base. When it was firmly established he continued his conversation, leaving his lower lip to struggle in vain to regain a position of horizontal dignity. The straw was tenacious, and the lip was held at bay. He did not want to tell his story to anyone but the young ’squire; but an opportunity to display his mental vigor and business acumen to the ’squire’s mother did not present itself every day, and might he not tell the tale, and yet not tell it? Could he not give an outline and still conceal his own motives and desires? Certainly. Women were very weak minded at best, and even the young ’squire’s mother would not be able to sound the depths of his subtle nature.

“The young ’squire, he tole me fer ter ast the jedge ter ’pint a gyardeen over the proppity o’ Sabriny, along o’ her beein’—thet is ter say—wimmen bein’ incompertent ter—thet is, Miss Brady, mose wimmen not havin’ the ’bility fer ter hannel a large proppity—even if they is—. I aint sayin’ that Sabriny is diff’nt fum mose wimmen, you mine. They is folks thet say her mine is—thet she aint adzackly right in her head; but lawsy, I aint sayin’ thet; an’ you mus’ know thet wimmin’ aint in no way fit fer ter manage a proppity—a large proppity—-more especial if they is any man a-tryin’ fer ter git hit away frum ’em.”

“Why, is anybody trying to get poor Sabriny’s money, Jeb?” asked the young ’squire’s mother in sympathetic wonder.

But Jeb had been warned that he would better not commit himself if he hoped for fair sailing. He turned his straw over and put the stiff end between his teeth again, glanced covertly about, concluded that the lady was not setting a trap for him, and began again.

120“I aint a sayin’ as they is, an’ I aint a swarin’ thet they aint. Mebby you mout o’ heard uv Lige Tummun?”

“Yes, I have heard that he is a trifling fellow,” said the young ’squire’s mother. “I hope there is no way he can get Sabriny’s little pension.”

“I aint a sayin’ nothin’ agin’ Lige,” said Jeb, with wily inflection which said all things against that luckless wight. “I aint sayin’ nothing’ agin Lige, an’ I aint sayin’ thet he wants ter git hole uv Sabriny fer ter git her proppity; but he hev drawed up a paper, an’ she hev sign hit, fer ter live with him an’ his ole ’oman the res’ er her days fer, an’ in consideration, uv the hull uv thet back pension down, en half—er as near half as $2.11 kin be halft,—every month whilse she live; an’ he bines hisself fer ter feed, an’ cloth, an pervide fer her so long as they both do live, by an’ accordin’ ter the terms uv thet theer paper he hed draw’d up and Sabriny hev sign.”

“Too bad, too bad,” said the young ’squire’s mother; “but the judge will appoint you, don’t you think, since she is weak-minded, and Lige is so unreliable? Poor Sabriny would have very little comfort in that torn-down hut I’m afraid. Did the judge say he would see to it?”

Jeb took the straw from between his teeth, and his lip resumed its normal position. He turned and twisted, seated himself on the lower step, and readjusted his hat on his knee. Then he went on:—

“I aint sayin’ I want ter be ’pinted her gyardeen. Thet air fer the jedge ter say, pervided somebody er other fetch the needcessity ter his mine befo’ all thet proppity air squandered. I haint sayin’ that Sabriny air weak-minded, nuther—thet is weakmindeder then thet she air a—she hev the mine uv a female, an’ nachully not able ter hannel proppity. An’ I haint sayin’ she aint gettin’ mighty well took keer uv by Lige, nuther. The last time I war theer she war roolin’ the roost. She slep’ in the bes’ bed, an’ et offen the bes’ plate, an’ had the bes’ corn dodger an’ shote; but what I air—that is what some air thinkin’ about air whence Lige onct gits the hull er thet proppity in bulk, air hit goin’ ter be thet away? Mine you, I aint asten this yer question; but they is them thet does, an’ whilse they does hit do seem only right an’ proper fer hit ter be looked inter by the proper ‘thorities. Now I tole the young ’squire thet I’d lay the 121hull caste befo’ the jedge las’ cote day, but the fack air that whence I git theer I met up with a few er my bisness erquaintainces an’ on reflection I made up my mine thet I bes’ thes say nothin’ to the jedge. Thet’s what I kem ter tell the young ’squire so’s he won’t ercuse me in his mine er lyin’ ter ‘im whence he fine out thet I never tole the jedge. They was reasons—numbrous and gineral reasons—fer me ter refleck an’ retrack my plan.”

He reflected for a moment now, and then lifting his hat by the peak, turned it around, raised it high over his head, carried it back and put it on; then from its mutilated front just above his eyebrow he snipped off, with a deft jerk, another straw and started down the steps.

“They is some thet say Sabriny hev a temper thet don’t stop ter be lit up, Miss Brady, but lawsy, I haint sayin’ nothing agin’ Sabriny’s temper, ner agin’ Lige, ner nobody. Some folks will talk thet away. You can’t stop ’em long es they’s ’live en kickin’; but I got mighty little ter say.”

There was a long pause. Then with studied indifference of inflection he continued:—

“I reckon my leetle bisness with the young ’squire kin wait without mouldin’ over night. I thes reckon hit wouldn’t be edzackly bes’ fer ter discuss hit with nobody else,” and he inserted the straw between his teeth with great care and precision, and took his high stepping way toward the Ridge, secure in his self-esteem and approbation in that not even the wiles of a lady of the position of the young ’squire’s mother could betray him into divulging his secret. For, after all, she was but a woman, and—well—this whole matter was a question of “proppity,” and therefore quite beyond her capacity.

As he disappeared over the hill, his straw havelock flapping gently in the wind, and his vest spread wide against his pendent arms, the young ’squire’s mother laughed gently and said:—

“Poor Sabrina, she is a little weaker minded than Jeb, and Jeb is a kind soul in his way. We must let the judge know the trouble, and see if some honest and capable person cannot be found to handle that ‘proppity’ and not squander, too recklessly, the two dollars and eleven cents in the months that are to come. The life of an heiress is, indeed, beset with pitfalls even among the Ridgers.”



BY P. H. S.

I love the gentle music of the brook,

Its solitary, meditative song.

On every hill

Some stream has birth,

Some lyric rill,

To wake the selfish earth,

And smile and toss the heavens their shining look,

Repeat and every flash of life prolong.

In spite of play,

Along its cheerful way

It turns to rest beneath some sheltering tree

In richer beauty;

Or at call of duty

Leaps forth into a cry of ecstacy,

And sings that work is best,

In brighter colors drest

Runs on its way,

Nor longer wills to stay

Than but to see itself that it is fair,—

Thou happy brook, true brother to the air.

I fear the steady death-roar of the sea,

Its sullen, never-changing undertone;

Round all the land

It clasps its heavy strength,

A liquid band

Of world-unending length,

And ever chants a wild monotony,

A change between a low cry and a moan.

The earth is glad,

The sea alone is sad;

Its swelling surge it rolls against the shore

In mammoth anger;

Or, in weary languor,

Beaten, it whines that it can rage no more,

And sinks to treacherous rest,

While from the happy west

123The sun is glad;

The sea alone is sad.

Its voice has messages nor words for me,

All, all is pitched in one low minor key.

Then take my heart upon thy dancing stream,

O tiny brook, thou bearest my heart away.

Run gently past

The breaking of the stones,

Nor yet too fast;

And on thy perfect tones

Bear thou my discord life that I may seem

A harmony for one short hour to-day.

Why wilt thou, brook,

Not check thy forward look?

Why wilt thou, brook, not make my heart thine own?

The wild commotion

Of the frantic ocean

Will madden thee and drown thy sorry moan,

And none will hear the cry;

Then run more slowly by—

Nay, for this nook

Was made for thee, my brook,

Stay with me here beneath this silver shade

And think this day for thee and me was made.

Thy present sweetness will be turned to brine;

Thou’lt hardly make one petty, paltry wave.

Lovest thou the sun?

He will not know thee there.

Is’t sweet to run,

Know thine own whence and where?

’Tis here thy joy, thy love, thy life are thine;

There thou wilt neither be, nor do, nor have.

The mighty sea

Will blindly number thee

To bear the ships, send thee to shape the shore

That thou art scorning;

Or some awful morning,

Set thee to pluck some sailor from his oar

And drink his weary life;

O fear this chance of strife!

Or what may be

Else, dead monotony.

Give o’er thy headlong haste, dwell here with me,

Why lose thyself in the vast, hungry sea?

124These thoughts I cast into the wiser stream,

And lay and heard it run the hours away;

And then above

The beauty and the peace,

It sang of love;

And in that glad release

I knew my thoughts had run beyond my dream,

Had seen the laboring river and the bay.

“’Tis joy to run!

Else life would ne’er be done,

I ne’er should know the triumphing of death,

Nor its revealing;

Nor the eager feeling

Of fuller life, the promise of the breath

That fleets the open sea:

All this was given to me

Once as I won

My first great leap; the sun

I knew my king, and laughed, and since that day

I run and sing; he wills, and I obey.”




Much has been written of late about the pessimistic spirit pervading modern reformative literature. When an earnest writer presents a gloomy picture of life as it really is, he is frequently judged by that most shallow of all standards, “Is it pleasing or amusing?” His fidelity to the ideal of truth is often overlooked or dismissed with a flippant word. We all know that great and dangerous evils exist and menace our civilization. They are growing under the fostering influence of the “conspiracy of silence”; yet we are seriously informed that we must not expose them to view; that there is so much tragedy in real life that society should not be annoyed by sombre pictures in fiction or the drama. “Prophesy to us smooth things or hold thy peace,” is the tenor of much of the criticism of the hour. Optimism is at present a popular Shibboleth, hence many thoughtlessly echo the cry against every exposure of growing evils. Writers who are popularly known as optimists belong mainly to three classes. Those who after a general survey of life become thorough pessimists, believing that the social, economic, religious, and ethical problems can never be justly or equitably solved; that in the weary age long struggle of right against might, of justice against greed, of liberty against slavery, of truth against error, the baser will win the battle, because there is more evil than good present in the world, and therefore, it being useless to break with the established order, assume a cheerful tone, crying down all efforts to unmask the widespread and ever-increasing evils which are festering under the cover of silence, and in substance urge us to eat, drink, and be merry, taking no thought for the morrow or for the generations which are to follow us.

A second class, comparing the ignorance, superstition, brutality, and inhumanity of the past with life to-day, arrive at the conclusion that the nineteenth century is the flower of all the preceding ages, which is true. That the present, registering the high-tide water-mark of the centuries, is to be extolled rather than assaulted, and all efforts to create discontent are unwise, and should be frowned upon. The mistake of these individuals lies in the fact that they fail to see that the chief cause of humanity’s triumphs is found in the works performed by those thinkers who in all ages have corresponded to the persons flippantly characterized pessimists at the present time: they who have assailed the existing order of things, who have thrown into the congregation of the people the shells of doubt; who have confronted the priests and potentates of conventionalism with a disturbing “Why”; who have compelled the people to think.

126A third class of writers who pitch their thoughts in a hopeful key, appreciate the injustice of much that is accepted by conventional thought as right, or which is tolerated by virtue of its antiquity, but seeing the profound agitation which a thoughtful and earnest presentation of the evils of the hour produces in the public mind, they have become alarmed, fearing lest the rising tide of angry discontent sweep away much that is good, true, and beautiful, in its blind attempt to right existing wrongs, and inaugurate an era of justice. Old institutions, ancient and revered thought, accepted lines of policy, even when palpably unjust, are safer, they urge, than the sudden blinding light of justice, the instantaneous widening of the horizon of popular thought. The strong light of a new era thrown suddenly upon the foul, monstrous and iniquitous systems in vogue, the awakening of the public mind to the enormity of the injustice, hypocrisy, and immorality of respectable conservatism of to-day will turn the brain of the people—they will become mad; a second French Revolution will ensue—such is their fear, and from a superficial view their apprehensions seem reasonable. Their error lies in the fact that the horrors of the French Revolution were the legitimate result of a policy exactly analogous to what they are pursuing. It arose from justice long deferred; from wrongs endured for generations. It was the concentrated wrath of the people who for many decades had been oppressed by Church, by nobility, and by the crown. Though the motives are entirely different, these writers, in striving to procrastinate the feud of justice against entrenched power and established customs, are acting on the lines of Louis XV., who, when told that a revolution would burst forth in France, inquired, “How many years hence?” “Fifteen or twenty, sire,” was the reply. “Well, I shall be dead then; let my successor look out for that.” So in seeking to put off just and rightful demands, these short-sighted philosophers lose sight of the fact that the longer justice is exiled from the throne of power, the more terrible will be the reckoning when it comes. Yet history teaches no lesson more impressively, unless it be that a question involving justice once raised will never be settled until right has been vindicated.

Those reformers, on the other hand, who have been popularly credited with sounding a pessimistic note in all their writings, by virtue of their fidelity to actual conditions and prevailing customs, are chiefly optimists in the truest sense of the word. They are men and women who believe profoundly in the triumph of right, liberty, and justice. Their faces are set toward the morning. The glorious ideals that float before and beyond the present have beamed upon their earnest gaze. They have traced the ascent of humanity through the ages; they have noted the slow march, the weary struggle from age to age of the old against the new, of dawn against night, of progress against conservatism, but they have also seen that the trend has been onward and upward, and what is far more important, they have noted that the prophets, sages, and 127reformers,—in a word, the advance guard, who have blazed the pathway and opened the vista to broader and nobler conceptions of justice and liberty, have been those who have assailed the popular conventionality of their times; who have been denounced as enemies to social order, as dangerous pessimists and wreckers of civilization. But they have also observed that these honest and far-sighted spirits have set in motion the thought that has borne humanity upward into a more radiant estate. Furthermore, they realize that only by a fearless denunciation of existing evils, by faithful though gloomy pictures of life as it is, by raising the interrogation point after every wrong or unjust condition sanctioned by virtue of its antiquity and conservatism and by appealing to the reason and conscience of the people has humanity been elevated. They have studied the problem of human progress profoundly; they have strong faith in the triumph of justice, but they realize that victory can never be attained as long as conventionalism lulls to sleep the public conscience. They know that only by bringing the truth effectively before the people, only by raising questions and stimulating the mind can reforms be inaugurated. The present calls for honest thought, for true pictures, for brave and earnest agitators. Give us these, and humanity will soon take another of those great epoch making strides which at intervals have marked the ascent of man.


Much of the best thought of to-day necessarily takes on a gloomy cast, because the most wise and earnest reformers keenly realize the giant wrongs that oppress humanity. They see the splendid possibilities floating before mankind, even within the grasp of the rising generation, if the heralds of the coming day are courageous and persistent; if they sink all hope of popularity, all thought of self-interest; if they are loyal to their highest impulses, regardless of what may follow.

The era of the questioner has arrived. Soon mankind will refuse to accept anything simply because others believed it. Traditions and ancient thought, though weighed down with credentials of past ages or dead civilizations, will be cast aside. All problems will be weighed in the scales of the broader conception of justice which is daily growing in the mind of man. The twilight is passing, the dawn is upon us, and to-morrow will be indebted chiefly to these true brave men and women whom the superficial call pessimists, for the glorious heritage which will fall to humanity; for they are related to the manifold reforms which crowd upon the present, as were Copernicus and Galileo related to the science of astronomy, as Luther was to the Reformation, Jefferson to modern Democracy, as Wilberforce in England and Garrison in America to the overthrow of black slavery. They denounce the iniquity of the present hour; they unmask the carefully concealed evils which are undermining public morals; they demand a higher standard 128of life. If they aim to destroy the old wooden building, it is because they see around them not only the quarried stone, the mortar and iron beams, but a million hands waiting to erect upon the ruins of the old a nobler structure than humanity has yet beheld.


  1. The Doubs is a stream after which one of the Eastern Departments of France is named. Its principal city is Besançon, the birthplace of Victor Hugo. Return to text

  2. Note on Picture of Invalid in Chair. The picture given in this issue of this apartment represents the poor invalid placed by some friends on a chair while his bed could be made. Our artist preferred to take it this way, knowing that it would bring out the strong face better than if taken on his pallet on the floor, where for two years he has lain. Through The Arena Relief Fund, we have been enabled to greatly relieve the hard lot of this as well as many other families of unfortunates. Now the invalid is provided with a comfortable bedstead, with a deep, soft mattress, and furnished with many other things which contribute to life’s comfort. When the bed, mattress, and other articles were being brought into this apartment, the tears of gratitude and joy flowed almost in rivers from the eyes of the patient wife, who felt that even in their obscure den some one in the great world yet cared for them.Return to pictureReturn to text

  3. Note on Picture of Constance and Maggie. When Mr. Swaffield first visited this little family he found them in the most abject want; a pot of boiling water, in which the mother was stirring a handful of meal, constituting their only food. Their clothing was thin and worn almost to shreds; their apartment but slightly heated; half of all they could earn, even when all were well and work good, had to go for their rent, leaving only one dollar and twenty-five cents a week to feed and clothe four persons. The day we first called they were poorly clothed, with sorry apologies for dresses and shoes laughing at the toes. In the picture we reproduce, they are neatly dressed and well shod from money contributed by liberal-hearted friends to The Arena Relief Fund.Return to pictureReturn to text

  4. Note on Illustration of Cellarway Leading into Partially Underground Apartment. This passage-way is several steps down from the court or alley-way, and leads to the apartment seen in accompanying picture. There are many of these dark cellarways leading to underground tenements.Return to pictureReturn to text

    Note on Picture of a Sick Man in Underground Tenement. Leading off the cellar-way shown above, is a tenement shown in this illustration. It consists of one room, over the bed the ceiling slants toward the street, and above the ceiling are the steps leading to the tenements above. In this one room lives the sick man, who for a long time, has been confined to his bed with rheumatism; his wife and a daughter are compelled to occupy the one bed with him, while the small sunless room is their only kitchen, laundry, living room, parlor, and bedroom.Return to pictureReturn to text

    Note on Portuguese Family, Widow, Two Daughters, and Little Boy. This illustration is a fair type of a number of lodgings. The photograph does not begin to reveal the extent of the wretchedness of the tenement. A little cubby-hole leads off from this room, large enough for a three quarters bed, in which the entire family of four sleep. The girls are remarkably bright and lady-like in their behavior, carrying with them an air of refinement one would not expect to find in such a place. They make their living by sewing; their rent is two dollars a week.Return to pictureReturn to text

    Note on Widow and Two Children in Underground Tenement. This picture of a squalid underground apartment is typical of numbers of tenements in this part of the city. The widow sews and does any other kind of work she can to meet rent and living expenses; the children sew on pants.Return to pictureReturn to text

    Note on Picture of Exterior of Tenement House. This picture is from a photograph of one of the many tenements in the North End which front upon blind alleys. The illustration gives the front of the house and the only entrance to it. In this building dwell twenty families. The interior is even more dilapidated and horrible than the entrance. Here children are born, and here characters are moulded; here the fate of future members of the Commonwealth is stamped. Taxes on such a building are relatively low under our present system so the landlord realizes a princely revenue, and while such a condition remains, it is not probable that he will tear down the wretched old and erect a commodious new building, on which he would be compelled to pay double or triple the present taxes, merely for the comfort and moral and physical health of his tenants.Return to pictureReturn to text

  5. Note on Illustration of Underground Tenement with Two Beds. These miserable quarters are four steps down from the street. There are two small rooms, one a shop in which kindling wood is stowed, which is gathered up by the children, split and tied in bundles. The mother also sells peanuts and candy. The back room contains a range and two beds which take almost the entire area of the room. In these two rooms several people sleep. One can readily see how unfortunate such a life is from an ethical, no less than social point of view.Return to pictureReturn to text

  6. Note on Illustration Out of Work. The young man photographed in his dismal lodging is a widower with six small children; he is strictly sober, an American by birth, but parents were Scotch and Irish. Until the illness and death of the wife last summer, everything went reasonably well. The husband and father followed the sea and managed to provide for his family, even saving a little. The wife’s sickness and burial expenses ate up all and more than he had saved, while being left with so many little children and no one to look after them, he found it impossible to engage in sea voyages; he was compelled to seek work which would enable him to be home at night. This winter, work has been very slack; for six weeks he has only been able to obtain employment for a few days; meantime his rent, which is two dollars and a quarter a week, has eaten up almost all the man could earn. Through the aid of the Baptist Bethel Mission and The Arena Relief Fund, this family has been provided with food and clothes.Return to pictureReturn to text

  7. Note on Illustration of Portuguese Widow in Attic. In an attic with slanting roof and skylight window lives a poor widow with her little family of four, a full description of which is given elsewhere. The long-continued sickness of the little child has made the struggle for rent and bread very terrible, and had it not been for assistance rendered at intervals, eviction or starvation, or both, must have resulted. This woman and her children are sober, industrious, and intelligent. Cases like this are by no means rare in this city which claims to be practically free from poverty.Return to pictureReturn to text

  8. The extent and character of this work will be more readily understood by noting the labor accomplished by the Bethel Mission in the North End, which is doing more than any other single organization in that section of the city for the dwellers of the slums. Here under the efficient management of the Rev. Walter Swaffield, assisted by Rev. W. J. English, work is intelligently pushed with untiring zeal, and in a perfectly systematic manner. From a social and humanitarian point of view, their work may be principally summed up in the following classifications: [1.] Looking after the temporal and immediate wants of those who are really suffering. Here cases are quietly and sympathetically investigated. Food is often purchased; the rents are sometimes paid; old clothes are distributed where they are most needed, and in many ways the temporal wants are looked after while kind, friendly visitation of between one and two hundred very needy families comprise a portion of each month’s work. [2]. The sailors’ boarding house. A large, clean, homelike building is fitted up for sailors. Every American vessel that comes into port is visited by a member of the Mission, who invites the sailors to remain at this model home for seamen. In this way hundreds yearly escape the dreadful atmosphere of the wretched sailors’ boarding houses of this part of the city, or, what is still more important, avoid undreamed-of vice, degradation, and disease by going with companions to vile dens of infamy. [3]. Securing comfortable homes and good positions for the young who are thus enabled to rise out of the night and oppression of this terrible existence. This, it is needless to add, is a very difficult task, owing to the fact that society shrinks from its exiles; few persons will give any one a chance who is known to have belonged to the slums. Nevertheless good positions are yearly secured for several of these children of adversity. [4]. The children’s free industrial school in which the young are taught useful trades, occupations, and means of employment. In this training school the little girls are taught to make themselves garments. The material is furnished them free and when they have completed the garment it is given them. [5]. Summer vacations in the country for the little ones are provided for several hundred children; some for a day, some a week, some two weeks as the exigencies of the case require and the limited funds permit. These little oases in the children’s dreary routine life are looked forward to with even greater anticipations of joy than is Christmas in the homes of the rich. I have cited the work of this Mission because I have personally investigated its work, and have seen the immense good that is being done with the very limited funds at the command of the Mission, and also to show by an illustration how much may be accomplished for the immediate relief of the sufferers. A grand palliative work requiring labor and money. It is not enough for those who live in our great cities to contribute to such work, they should visit these quarters and see for themselves. This would change many who to-day are indifferent into active missionaries.Return to text

  9. According to J. R. Dodge, there are five million agricultural laborers in this country whose wages do not average over $194 a year.Return to text

  10. Fifteen to forty per cent. is the usual profit exacted on tenement-house property, according to witnesses before a Senate Committee,—forty per cent. being common. Is not this the plunder of poverty by wealth? Has Ireland anything approaching this or resembling the horrid conditions in New York? “All previous accounts and descriptions” (says Ballington Booth) “became obliterated from my memory by the surprise and horror I experienced when passing through some of the foul haunts and vicious hotbeds which make up the labyrinth of this modern Sodom.” “How powerless” (said Mr. Booth) “are lips to describe or pens to write scenes which baffle description, and which no ink is black enough to show in their true colors.”Return to text

  11. This love of ostentation has much to do with the degradation of India. The silver money which should be in circulation is hoarded up or used for silver ornaments. A wedding in that country is not marked by proper preparation for the duties and expenses of conjugal life, but by a display of jewelry and silver. A thousand rupees’ worth must be furnished by the bride, and two thousand by the bridegroom, if they are able to raise so much, and sometimes they raise it by going in debt beyond their ability to pay. This love of ostentation marks an inferior type of human development.Return to text

  12. These suggestions are not offered in a hostile spirit. The writer fully realizes the large amount of moral sentiment and fervent piety assembled in the Church to uplift society in this country, but he deeply regrets that it is not more enlightened in ethics and in doctrine, and that the Church has never got rid of its ancient taint, mentioned by the Apostle James, that the brethren paid more respect to the man with a gold ring than a man in cheap clothing.Return to text

  13. The salary that was sufficient for the commanding dignity and ability of Washington is not sufficient for the third-rate politician who occupies the White House to-day. The numerous allowances which are added to his $50,000 salary raise it to $114,865. But why should he have any salary at all? Would any man require the bribe of salary to induce him to accept the Presidency? The honor of the office would be more than sufficient pay for the third-rate men that are accidentally chosen to a far higher rank than nature gave them. We have too many ideas and fashions inherited from old-world kingdoms, and the ridiculous rules and etiquette of precedence and punctilio are as carefully enforced in the court circle of Washington as in the old world which still rules our fashions. But far worse than they, we have the criminal ostentation of a funeral for a Congressman, costing from fifty to a hundred thousand dollars, which is simply an unconstitutional and shameful robbery of the people to imitate the style of royalty.Return to text

  14. The writer once started a society upon this principle, to be called the Brotherhood of Justice. Its principle was the abnegation of selfishness by strictly limiting the expenditure of every member to the amount really necessary to his comfort, dedicating the rest to humanity. It did not appear difficult to gather members, and an able apostle of this principle would be a world’s benefactor.Return to text

  15. It is not only in the strong language of many political meetings, conventions, and the independent press, that this danger is recognized, but in that wealthy and conservative body, the United States Senate, it is distinctly recognized and frequently expressed; the language of Senators Ingalls, Stewart, Call, Gorman, Vest, Berry, and others, shows that they are alarmed and would warn their colleagues.

    Senator Call, of Florida, said:—“It is well for the people to form some idea of the extent to which the powers of the government are becoming subject to the control of a very small number of people, and the extent to which these powers are becoming absolute, despotic, monarchical, almost as much so as the Czar of Russia.

    “The present system places the control of the wealth of this country in the hands of a very small number of persons, an almost infinitesimal portion of the people; gives them money to buy those who represent the people.”

    Senator Berry said:—“So much injustice has been done to the people, so many wrongs have been perpetrated in the interests of wealth and capital by the passage of unjust laws, that the people are in open revolt to-day, and they have a right to be; they have determined to have relief, and they are entitled to it.”

    Senator Stewart said:—“If there is no reason nor humanity in the possessors of accumulated capital there is power in revolution.”

    Senator Gorman, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said:—“We stand to-day, Mr. President, upon a financial volcano. The labor of the country appeals through every channel it can to this administration and this Congress to stay the awful wreck that is threatened.”

    The eloquent address of Senator Ingalls presented still more forcibly and fully the evils of plutocracy, which is “threatening the safety if it does not endanger the existence of the republic,” by “the tyranny of combined, concentrated, centralized, and incorporated capital.” “The conscience of the nation is shocked at the injustice of modern society. The moral sentiment of mankind has been aroused at the unequal distribution of wealth, at the unequal diffusion of the burdens, the benefits, and the privileges of society.” “At this time there are many scores of men, of estates, and of corporations, in this country, whose annual income exceeds, and there has been one man whose monthly revenue since that period exceeds the entire accumulations of the wealthiest citizen of the United States at the end of the last century.” “By some means, some device, some machination, some incantation, honest or otherwise, some process that cannot be defined, less than a two-thousandth part of our population have obtained possession and have kept out of the penitentiary, in spite of the means they have adopted to acquire it, of more than one half of the entire accumulated wealth of the country. That is not the worst, Mr. President. It has been chiefly acquired by men who have contributed little to the material welfare of the country, and by processes that I do not care in appropriate terms to describe.” “The people of this country are generous and just, they are jealous also, and when discontent changes to resentment, and resentment passes into exasperation, one volume of a nation’s history is closed and another will be opened.”

    This feeling of resentment must arise in a community which is deeply in debt, and is not prospering. The last census shows in Iowa a mortgage indebtedness equivalent to over five hundred dollars upon every head of a family.Return to text

  16. And society is still organized to ensure the perpetuation of this poverty, no matter what the bounties of nature, or what the increase of wealth by art and invention. The army of the dissatisfied, the hungry, and the demoralized, continually grows and becomes more dangerous. The President of the National Home Association at Washington stated a few months since that there were sixty thousand boy tramps in the United States.Return to text

  17. Nob Hill, in San Francisco, is crowned with five huge buildings in imitation of foreign palaces, utterly unfit for private residences, which may possibly sometime be utilized for public purposes. They but illustrate the crazy ostentation of selfish wealth. Can it be possible, as stated by the St. Joseph Herald, that “George Vanderbilt is building a genuine old-fashioned mediæval baronial castle at Asheville, N. C., at a cost of $10,000,000”?Return to text

Transcriber’s Note: The page numbers in the Table of Contents have been converted to issues in the following way:

Issue Pages
June, 1891 1-128
July, 1891 129-256
August, 1891 257-384
September, 1891 385-512
October, 1891 513-640
November, 1891 641-768
Index to 4th Volume 769-771

Please note that the November issue’s Contents are as printed, although the issue does have more articles than stated.

Also, the illustrations are shown in the correct issue, but may be in a slightly different order than that listed.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Arena, by Various


***** This file should be named 19110-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS', WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.