The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Arena, by Various

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Title: The Arena
       Volume 4, No. 20, July, 1891

Author: Various

Editor: B.O. Flower

Release Date: October 22, 2006 [EBook #19603]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier, Richard J. Shiffer
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No. XX.

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)
Ĉonian 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

(signed) Very truly Yours, Oliver Wendell Holmes.



To the year 1809, the world is very much indebted for a band of notable recruits to the ranks of literature and science, statesmanship and military renown. One need mention only a few names to establish that fact, and grand names they are, for the list includes Darwin, Gladstone, Erastus Wilson, John Hill Burton, Manteuffel, Count Beust, Lord Houghton, Alfred Tennyson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Each of these has played an important part in the world’s history, and impressed the age with a genius that marks an epoch in the great department of human activity and progress. The year was pretty well advanced, and the month of August had reached its 29th day, when the wife of Dr. Abiel Holmes presented the author of “The American Annals” with a son who was destined to take his place in the front line of poets, thinkers, and essayists. The babe was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the centre of a Puritan civilization, which could scarcely have been in touch and harmony with the emphasized Unitarianism emanating from Harvard. But Abiel Holmes was a genial, generous-hearted man, and despite the severity of his religious belief, contrived to live on terms of a most agreeable character with his neighbors. A Yale man himself, and the firm friend of his old professor, the president of that institution, who had given him his daughter Mary to wed (she died five years after her marriage), we may readily believe that for a time, Harvard University, then strongly under the sway of the Unitarians, had little fascination130 for him. But his kindly nature conquered the repugnance he may have felt, and he soon got on well with all classes of the little community which surrounded him. By his first wife he had no children. But five, three daughters and two sons, blessed his union with Sarah Wendell, the accomplished daughter of the Hon. John Wendell, of Boston. We may pass briefly over the early years of Oliver Wendell Holmes. He was educated at the Phillips Academy at Exeter, and subsequently entered Harvard University, where he was graduated, with high honors, in 1829, and belonged to that class of young fellows who, in after life, greatly distinguished themselves. Some of his noblest poems were written in memory of that class, such as “Bill and Joe,” “A Song of Twenty-nine,” “The Old Man Dreams,” “Our Sweet Singer,” and “Our Banker,” all of them breathing love and respect for the boys with whom the poet studied and matriculated. Young Holmes was destined for the law, but Chitty and Blackstone apparently had little charm for him, for after a year’s trial, he abandoned the field and took up medicine. His mind could not have been much impressed with statutes, for all the time that he was supposed to be conning over abstruse points in jurisprudence, he was sending to the printers some of the cleverest and most waggish contributions which have fallen from his pen. The Collegian,—the university journal of those days,—published most of these, and though no name was attached to the screeds, it was fairly well known that Holmes was the author. The companion writers in the Collegian were Simmons, who wrote over the signature of “Lockfast”; John O. Sargent, poet and essayist, whose nom de plume was “Charles Sherry”; Robert Habersham, the “Mr. Airy” of the group; and that clever young trifler, Theodore Snow, who delighted the readers of the periodical with the works of “Geoffrey La Touche.” Of these, of course, Holmes was the life and soul, and though sixty years have passed away since he enriched the columns of the Collegian with the fruits of his muse, more than half of the pieces survive, and are deemed good enough to hold a place beside his maturer productions. “Evening of a Sailor,” “The Meeting of the Dryads,” and “The Spectre Pig,”—the latter in the vein of Tom Hood at his best,—will be remembered as among those in the collection which may be read to-day with the zest, appreciation,131 and delight which they inspired more than half a century ago. Holmes’ connection with the Collegian had a most inspiriting effect on his fellow contributors, who found their wits sharpened by contact with a mind that was forever buoyant and overflowing with humor and good nature. In friendly rivalry, those kindred intellects vied with one another, and no more brilliant college paper was ever published than the Collegian, and this is more remarkable still, when we come to consider the fact, that at that time, literature in America was practically in its infancy. Nine years before, Sydney Smith had asked his famous question, “Who reads an American book? who goes to an American play?” And to that query there was really no answer. Six numbers of the Collegian were issued, and they must have proved a revelation to the men and women of that day, whose reading, hitherto, had almost been confined to the imported article from beyond the seas, for Washington Irving wrote with the pen of an English gentleman, Bryant and Dana had not yet made their mark in distinctively American authorship, and Cooper’s “Prairie” was just becoming to be understood by the critics and people.

Shaking the dust of the law office from his shoes, Oliver Wendell Holmes, abandoning literature for a time, plunged boldly into the study of a profession for which he had always evinced a strong predilection. The art and practice of medical science had ever a fascination for him, and he made rapid progress at the university. Once or twice he yielded to impulse, and wrote a few bright things, anonymously, for the Harbinger,—the paper which Epes Sargent and Park Benjamin published for the benefit of a charitable institution, and dedicated as a May gift to the ladies who had aided the New England Institution for the Education of the Blind. In 1833, Holmes sailed for Paris, where he studied medicine and surgery, and walked the hospitals. Three years were spent abroad, and then the young student returned to Cambridge to take his medical degree at Harvard, and to deliver his metrical Essay on Poetry, before the Phi-Beta-Kappa Society. In this year too, 1836, he published his first acknowledged book of poems,—a duodecimo volume of less than two hundred pages. In this collection his Essay on Poetry appeared. It describes the art in four stages, viz., the Pastoral or Bucolic, the Martial, the Epic, and the Dramatic. In132 illustration of his views, he furnished exemplars from his own prolific muse, and his striking poem of “Old Ironsides” was printed for the first time, and sprang at a bound into national esteem. And in this first book, there was included that little poem, “The Last Leaf,” better work than which Holmes has never done. It is in a vein which he has developed much since then. Grace, humor, pathos, and happiness of phrase and idea, are all to be found in its delicious stanzas:—

I saw him once before,

As he passed by the door,

And again

The pavement stones resound,

As he totters o’er the ground

With his cane.

They say that in his prime,

Ere the pruning-knife of Time

Cut him down,

Not a better man was found

By the Crier on his round

Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,

And he looks at all he meets,

Sad and wan;

And he shakes his feeble head,

That it seems as if he said,

“They are gone!”

The mossy marbles rest

On the lips that he has prest

In their bloom,

And the names he loved to hear

Have been carved for many a year

On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said—

Poor old lady, she is dead

Long ago—

That he had a Roman nose,

And his cheek was like a rose

In the snow.

But now his nose is thin,

And it rests upon his chin

Like a staff;

And a crook is in his back,

And a melancholy crack

In his laugh.

I know it is a sin

For me to sit and grin

At him here;133

But the old three-cornered hat,

And the breeches, and all that,

Are so queer!

And if I should live to be

The last leaf upon the tree

In the spring,

Let them smile as I do now,

At the old forsaken bough

Where I cling.

In 1838, Doctor Holmes accepted his first professorial position, and became professor of anatomy and physiology at Dartmouth. Two years later, he married, and took up the practice of medicine in Boston. In 1847, he returned to his old love, accepting the Parkman professorship of anatomy and physiology, in the Medical School at Harvard. While engaged in teaching, he prepared for publication several important books and reports relating to his profession, and his papers in the various medical journals attracted great attention by their freshness, clearness, and originality. But it is not as a medical man that Doctor Holmes may be discussed in this paper. We have to deal altogether with his literary career,—a career, which for its brilliancy has not been surpassed on this side of the Atlantic.

As a poet he differs much from his contemporaries, but the standard he has reached is as high as that which has been attained by Lowell and Longfellow. In lofty verse he is strong and unconventional, writing always with a firm grasp on his subject, and emphasizing his perfect knowledge of melody and metre. As a writer of occasional verse he has not had an equal in our time, and his pen for threescore years has been put to frequent use in celebration of all sorts of events, whether military, literary, or scientific. Bayard Taylor said, “He lifted the ‘occasional’ into the ‘classic’,” and the phrase happily expresses the truth. The vivacious character of his nature readily lends itself to work of this sort, and though the printed page gives the reader the sparkling epigram and the graceful lines, clear-cut always and full of soul, the pleasure is not quite the same as seeing and hearing him recite his own poems, in the company of congenial friends. His songs are full of sunshine and heart, and his literary manner wins by its simplicity and tenderness. Years ago, Miss Mitford said that she knew no one so thoroughly original. For him she could find no living prototype.134 And so she went back to the time of John Dryden to find a man to whom she might compare him. And Lowell in his “Fable for Critics,” describes Holmes as

“A Leyden-jar full-charged, from which flit

The electrical tingles, of hit after hit.”

His lyrical pieces are among the best of his compositions, and his ballads, too few in number, betray that love which he has always felt for the melodious minstrelsy of the ancient bards. Whittier thought that the “Chambered Nautilus” was “booked for immortality.” In the same list may be put the “One-Hoss Shay,” “Contentment,” “Destination,” “How the Old Horse Won the Bet,” “The Broomstick Train,” and that lovely family portrait, “Dorothy Q—,” a poem with a history. Dorothy Quincy’s picture, cold and hard, painted by an unknown artist, hangs on the wall of the poet’s home in Beacon Street. A hole in the canvas marks the spot where one of King George’s soldiers thrust his bayonet. The lady was Dr. Holmes’ grandmother’s mother, and she is represented as being about thirteen years of age, with

Girlish bust, but womanly air;

Smooth, square forehead, with uprolled hair;

Lips that lover has never kissed;

Taper fingers and slender wrist;

Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;

So they painted the little maid.

And the poet goes on:—

What if a hundred years ago

Those close-shut lips had answered no,

When forth the tremulous question came

That cost the maiden her Norman name,

And under the folds that look so still,

The bodice swelled with the bosom’s thrill!

Should I be I, or would it be

One tenth another, to nine tenths me?

Soft is the breath of a maiden’s yes,

Not the light gossamer stirs with less;

But never a cable that holds so fast

Through all the battles of wave and blast,

And never an echo of speech or song

That lives in the babbling air so long!

There were tones in the voice that whispered then,

You may hear to-day in a hundred men.135

O lady and lover, how faint and far

Your images hover, and here we are,

Solid and stirring in flesh and bone,

Edward’s and Dorothy’s—all their own,

A goodly record for time to show

Of a syllable spoken so long ago!

Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive

For the tender whisper that bade me live?

It shall be a blessing, my little maid!

I will heal the stab of the red-coat’s blade,

And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,

And gild with a rhyme your household name;

So you shall smile on us brave and bright,

As first you greeted the morning’s light,

And live untroubled by woes and fears

Through a second youth of a hundred years.

Dr. Holmes’ coloring is invariably artistic. Nothing in his verse offends the eye or grates unpleasantly on the ear. He is a true musician, and his story, joke, or passing fancy is always joined to a measure which never halts. “The Voiceless,” perhaps, as well as “Under the Violets,” ought to be mentioned among the more tender verses which we have from his pen, in his higher mood.

His novels are object lessons, each one having been written with a well-defined purpose in view. But unlike most novels with a purpose, the three which he has written are nowise dull. The first of the set is “The Professor’s Story; or, Elsie Venner,” the second is “The Guardian Angel,” written when the author was in his prime, and the third is “A Mortal Antipathy,” written only a few years ago. In no sense are these works commonplace. Their art is very superb, and while they amuse, they afford the reader much opportunity for reflection. Elsie Venner is a romance of destiny, and a strange physiological condition furnishes the key-note and marrow of the tale. It is Holmes’ snake story, the taint of the serpent appearing in the daughter, whose mother was bitten by a rattle-snake before her babe was born. The traits inherited by this unfortunate offspring from the reptile, find rapid development. She becomes a creature of impulse, and her life spent in a New England village, at a ladies’ academy, with its social and religious surroundings, is described and worked out with rare analytical skill, and by a hand accustomed to deal with curious scientific phenomena. The character drawing is admirable, the episodes are striking and original, and the scenery, carefully elaborated, is managed136 with fine judgment. Despite the idea, which to some may at first blush appear revolting and startling, there is nothing sensational in the book. The reader observes only the growth and movement of the poison in the girl’s system, its effect on her way of life, and its remarkable power over her mind. Horror or disgust at her condition is not for one moment evoked. The style is pure and ennobling, and while our sympathies may be touched, we are at the same time fascinated and entertained, from the first page to the last. Of quite different texture is “The Guardian Angel,” a perhaps more readable story, so far as form is concerned, much lighter in character, and less of a study. There is more plot, but the range is not so lofty. It is less philosophical in tone than “Elsie Venner,” and the events move quicker. The scene of “The Guardian Angel” is also laid in an ordinary New England village, and the object of the Doctor-Novelist was to write a tale in which the peculiarities and laws of hysteria should find expression and development. In carrying out his plan, Dr. Holmes has achieved a genuine success. He has taught a lesson, and at the same time has told a deeply interesting story, lightened up here and there with characteristic humor and wit. The characters of Myrtle Hazard and Byles Gridley are drawn with nice discrimination, while the sketch of the village poet, Mr. Gifted Hopkins, is so life-like and realistic, that he has only to be named to be instantly recognized. He is a type of the poet who haunts the newspaper office, and belongs to every town and hamlet. His lady-love is Miss Susan Posey, a delicious creation in Dr. Holmes’ best manner. These two prove excellent foils for the stronger personages of the story, and afford much amusement. “A Mortal Antipathy” is less of a romance than the others. The reader will be interested in the description of a boat race which is exquisitely done.

In biographical writing, we have two books from Dr. Holmes, one a short life of Emerson, and the other a memoir of Motley. Though capable of writing a great biography like Trevelyan’s Macaulay or Lockhart’s Scott, the doctor has not yet done so. Of the two which he has written, the Motley is the better one. In neither, however, has the author arrived at his own standard of what a biography should be.

Mechanism in thought and morals,—a Phi-Beta-Kappa137 address, delivered at Harvard in 1870,—is one of Dr. Holmes’ most luminous contributions to popular science. It is ample in the way of suggestion and the presentation of facts, and though scientific in treatment, the captivating style of the essayist relieves the paper of all heaviness. A brief extract from this fine, thoughtful work may be given here:—

“We wish to remember something in the course of conversation. No effort of the will can reach it; but we say, ‘wait a minute, and it will come to me,’ and go on talking. Presently, perhaps some minutes later, the idea we are in search of comes all at once into the mind, delivered like a prepaid bundle, laid at the door of consciousness like a foundling in a basket. How it came there we know not. The mind must have been at work groping and feeling for it in the dark; it cannot have come of itself. Yet all the while, our consciousness was busy with other thoughts.”

The literary reputation of Dr. Holmes will rest on the three great books which have made his name famous on two continents. Thackeray had passed his fortieth year before he produced his magnificent novel. Holmes, too, was more than forty when he began that unique and original book, “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” one of the most thoughtful, graceful, and able investigations into philosophy and culture ever written. We have the author in every mood, playful and pathetic, witty and wise. Who can ever forget the young fellow called John, our Benjamin Franklin, the Divinity student, the school-mistress, the landlady’s daughter, and the poor relation? What characterization is there here! The delightful talk of the autocrat, his humor, always infectious, his logic, his strong common sense, illumine every page. When he began to write, Dr. Holmes had no settled plan in his head. In November, 1831, he sent an article to the New England Magazine, published by Buckingham in Boston, followed by another paper in February, 1832. The idea next occurred to the author in 1857,—a quarter of a century afterwards, when the editors of the Atlantic Monthly, then starting on its career, begged him to write something for its pages. He thought of “The Autocrat,” and resolved, as he says, “to shake the same bough again, and see if the ripe fruit were better or worse than the early windfalls.” At a bound “The Autocrat” leaped into popular favor. The138 reading public could hardly wait for the numbers. All sorts of topics are touched upon from nature to mankind. There is the talk about the trees, which one may read a dozen times and feel the better for it. And then comes that charming account of the walk with the school-mistress, when the lovers looked at the elms, and the roses came and went on the maiden’s cheeks. And here is a paragraph or two which makes men think:

“Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The angel of life winds them up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the hand of the Angel of the Resurrection. Tic-tac! tic-tac! go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop them; they cannot stop themselves; sleep cannot still them; madness only makes them go faster; death alone can break into the case, and seizing the ever-swinging pendulum, which we call the heart, silence at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have carried so long beneath our wrinkled foreheads.

“If we could only get at them, as we lie on our pillows and count the dead beats of thought after thought, and image after image, jarring through the overtired organ! Will nobody block those wheels, uncouple that pinion, cut the string that holds those weights, blow up the infernal machine with gun-powder? What a passion comes over us sometimes for silence and rest!—that this dreadful mechanism, unwinding the endless tapestry of time, embroidered with spectral figures of life and death, could have but one brief holiday! Who can wonder that men swing themselves off from beams in hempen lassos?—that they jump off from parapets into the swift and gurgling waters beneath?—that they take counsel of the grim friend who has but to utter his one peremptory monosyllable and the restless machine is shivered as a vase that is dashed upon a marble floor? Under that building which we pass every day there are strong dungeons, where neither hook, nor bar, nor bed-cord, nor drinking vessel from which a sharp fragment may be shattered, shall by any chance be seen. There is nothing for it, when the brain is on fire with the whirling of its wheels, but to spring against the stone wall and silence them with one crash. Ah, they remembered that,—the kind city fathers,—and the walls are nicely padded, so that one can take such exercise as he likes without damaging himself on the very plain and serviceable upholstery. If anybody would only contrive some kind of a lever that one could thrust in among the works of this horrid automaton and check them, or alter their rate of going, what would the world give for the discovery?”

“The Autocrat” was followed by “The Professor at the139 Breakfast Table,”—a book in every way equal to the first one, though, to be sure, there are critics who pretend to see diminished power in the author’s pen. It is, however, full of the same gentle humor and keen analyses of the follies and foibles of human kind. It is a trifle graver, though some of the characters belonging to “The Autocrat” come to the front again. It is in this book that we find that lovely story of Iris,—a masterpiece in itself and one of the sweetest things that has come to us for a hundred years, rivalling to a degree the delicious manner and style of Goldsmith and Lamb. In 1873 the last of the series appeared, and “The Poet” came upon the scene to gladden the breakfasters. Every chapter sparkles with originality. “I have,” says Dr. Holmes, “unburdened myself in this book, and in some other pages, of what I was born to say. Many things that I have said in my riper days have been aching in my soul since I was a mere child. I say aching, because they conflicted with many of my inherited beliefs, or rather traditions. I did not know then that two strains of blood were striving in me for the mastery—two! twenty, perhaps, twenty thousand, for aught I know—but represented to me by two—paternal and maternal. But I do know this: I have struck a good many chords, first and last, in the consciousness of other people. I confess to a tender feeling for my little brood of thoughts. When they have been welcomed and praised, it has pleased me, and if at any time they have been rudely handled and despitefully treated, it has cost me a little worry. I don’t despise reputation, and I should like to be remembered as having said something worth lasting well enough to last.”

There is much philosophy in “The Poet,” and if it is less humorous than “The Autocrat,” it is more profound than either of its fellows in the great trio. In it the doctor has said enough to make the reputations of half a dozen authors.

“One Hundred Days in Europe,” if written by anyone else save Dr. Holmes, would, perhaps, go begging for a publisher. But he journeyed to the old land with his heart upon his sleeve. He met nearly every man and woman worth knowing, and the Court, Science, and Literature received him with open arms. He had not seen England for half a century. Fifty years before, he was an obscure young man, studying medicine, and known by scarcely half a dozen140 persons. He returned in 1886, a man of world-wide fame, and every hand was stretched out to do him honor, and to pay him homage. Lord Houghton,—the famous breakfast giver of his time, certainly, the most successful since the princely Rogers,—had met him in Boston years before, and had begged him again and again to cross the ocean. Letters failing to move the poet, Houghton tried verse upon him, and sent these graceful lines:—

“When genius from the furthest West,

Sierra’s Wilds and Poker Flat,

Can seek our shores with filial zest,

Why not the genial Autocrat?

“Why is this burden on us laid,

That friendly London never greets

The peer of Locker, Moore, and Praed

From Boston’s almost neighbor streets?

“His earlier and maturer powers

His own dear land might well engage;

We only ask a few kind hours

Of his serene and vigorous age.

“Oh, for a glimpse of glorious Poe!

His raven grimly answers ‘never!’

Will Holmes’s milder muse say ‘no,’

And keep our hands apart forever?”

But he was not destined to see his friend. When Holmes arrived in England, Lord Houghton was in his grave, and so was Dean Stanley, whose sweetness of disposition had so charmed the autocrat, when the two men had met in Boston a few years before. Ruskin he failed to meet also, for the distinguished word-painter was ill. At a dinner, however, at Arch-Deacon Farrar’s, he spent some time with Sir John Millais and Prof. John Tyndall. Of course, he saw Gladstone, Tennyson, Robert Browning, Chief Justice Coleridge, Du Maurier, the illustrator of Punch, Prof. James Bryce who wrote “The American Commonwealth,” “Lord Wolseley,” Britain’s “Only General,” “His Grace of Argyll,” “Lord Lorne and the Princess Louise,”—one of the best amateur painters and sculptors in England,—and many others. Of all these noted ones, he has something bright and entertaining to say. The universities laid their highest honors at his feet. Edinburgh gave him the degree of LL.D., Cambridge that of Doctor of Letters, and Oxford conferred upon him her D. C. L., his companion on the last occasion being141 John Bright. It was at Oxford that he met Vice-Chancellor Benjamin Jowett, the Master of Balliol College, Prof. Max Müller, Lord and Lady Herschell, and Prof. James Russell Lowell, his old and unvarying friend. The account of his visit to Europe is told with most engaging directness and simplicity, and though the book has no permanent value, it affords much entertainment for the time.

The reader will experience a feeling of sadness, when he takes up Dr. Holmes’ last book, “Over the Tea-cups,” for there are indications in the work which warn the public that the genial pen will write hereafter less frequently than usual. It is a witty and delightful book, recalling the Autocrat, the Professor, and the Poet, and yet presenting features not to be found in either. The author dwells on his advancing years, but this he does not do in a querulous fashion. He speaks of his contemporaries, and compares the ages of old trees, and over the tea-cups a thousand quaint, curious, and splendid things are said. The work takes a wide range, but there is more sunshine than anything else, and that indefinable charm, peculiar to the author, enriches every page. One might wish that he would never grow old. As Lowell said, a few years ago, in a birthday verse to the doctor:—

“You keep your youth as yon Scotch firs,

Whose gaunt line my horizon hems,

Though twilight all the lowland blurs,

Hold sunset in their ruddy stems.

“Master alike in speech and song

Of fame’s great anti-septic—style,

You with the classic few belong

Who tempered wisdom with a smile.

Outlive us all! Who else like you

Could sift the seed corn from our chaff,

And make us, with the pen we knew,

Deathless at least in epitaph?”




Let us imagine that a foreigner has entered a New York ball-room for the first time, and let us make that foreigner not merely an Englishman, but an Englishman of title. He would soon be charmed by the women who beamed on every side of him. Their refinement of manner would be obvious, though in some cases they might shock him by a shrillness and nasal harshness when speaking, while in other cases both their tone and accent might repel him through extreme affectation of “elegance.” But for the most part he would pronounce these women bright, cultivated, and often remarkably handsome. They would not require to be amused or even entertained after the manner of his own countrywomen; they would appear before him amply capable of yielding rather than exacting diversion, and often through the mediums of nimble wit, engaging humor, or an audacity at once daring and picturesque. But after a little more time our titled stranger would begin to perceive that behind all this feminine sparkle and freshness, lurked a positive transport of humility. He would discover that he had swiftly become with these fashionable ladies an object of idolatry, and that all the single ones were thrilled with the idea of marrying him, while all the married ones felt pierced by the sad realization that destiny had disqualified them for so golden a bit of luck. He would find himself assailed by questions about his precise English rank and standing. Had he any other title besides the one by which he was currently known? How long ago was it since his family had been elevated to the peerage? Did he personally know the Queen or the Prince of Wales? Was his mother “Lady” anybody before she married his father? Did he own several places in the country, and if so, what was the name of each?

The men would naturally be less inquisitive; but then the men all would have their Burke or DeBrett to consult at their clubs, and could “look him up” there as if he had143 been an unfamiliar word in the dictionary. And these male followers of fashion would, for the most part, distress and perplex him. He would be confronted with a mournful fact in our social life: the men who “go out” are nearly all silly striplings who, on reaching a sensible age, discreetly remain at home.

He would soon begin to perceive that New York society is a blending of the ludicrous and pathetic. The really charming women have two terrible faults, one which their fathers, husbands, and brothers have taught them, and one which they have apparently contracted without extraneous aid. The first is their worship of wealth, their devout genuflection before it as the sole choicest gift which fate can bestow, and the second is their merciless and metallic snobbery. They have made a god of caste, and in a country where, of all other cults, that of caste is the most preposterous. The men (the real grown-up men, who may hate the big balls, but are nevertheless a great deal in the movement as regards other gay pastimes) watch them with quiet approbation. Many a New York husband is quite willing that his wife shall cut her own grandmother if that relative be not “desirable.” The men have not time to preen their social plumes quite so strenuously; they are too busy in money-getting, and of a sort which nearly always concerns the hazard of the Wall Street die. And yet quite a number of the men are arrant snobs, refusing to associate with, often even to notice, others whose dollars count fewer than their own. This form of plutocratic self-adulation is relatively modern. It is called by some people a very inferior state of things to that which existed in “the good old Knickerbocker days.” But the truth is, odious though the millionnaire’s ascendancy may be at present, that of the Knickerbocker was once hardly less so. Vulgar, brassy, and intolerable the “I’m-better-than-you” strut and swagger of plutocracy surely is; but in the smug, pert provincialism of those former New York autocrats who defined as “family” their descent of two or three generations from raw Dutch immigrants, there was very little comfort indeed. The present writer has seen something of this element; in the decade from 1865 to 1875 it was still extremely active. Society was then governed by the Knickerbocker, as it is now governed by the plutocrat, and in either instance the rule has been wholly deplorable.144 Indeed, for one cogent reason, if no other, poor New York stands to-day as the least fortunate of all great cities. Her society, from the time she ceased to admit herself a village up to the date at which these lines are written, has never been even faintly worthy of the name. A few years ago the “old residents,” with their ridiculous claims to pedigree, had everything their own way. A New York drawing-room was, in those days, parochial as a Boston or Philadelphia tea-party. There were modish metropolitan details, it is true, but the petty reign of the immigrant Hollanders’ descendants would have put to shame the laborious freaks and foibles of a tiny German principality. Now, having changed all that, and having forced the Knickerbockers from their old places of vantage, the plutocrats reign supreme. To a mind capable of being saddened by human materialism, pretension, braggadocio, it is all very much the same sort of affair. Our republic should be ashamed of an aristocracy founded on either money or birth, and that thousands of its citizens are not only unashamed of such systems, but really glory in them, is merely another proof of how this country has broken almost every democratic promise which she once made to the Old World.

It is easy to sneer away statements like these. It is easy to laugh them off as “mere pessimism,” and to talk of persons with “green spectacles” and “disordered livers.” We have learned to know the glad ring of the optimist’s patriotic voice. If we all believed this voice, we should all believe that America is the ideal polity of the world. And one never so keenly realizes that this is not true as when he watches the creeds and character of society in New York. Of Londoners we are apt to assert that they grovel obsequiously before their prince, with his attendant throng of dukes, earls, and minor gentlemen. This may be fact, but it is very far from being the whole fact. In London there is a large class of ladies and gentlemen who form a localized and centralized body, and whose assemblages are haunts of intelligence, refinement, and good taste. In a certain sense these are “mixed,” but all noteworthy gatherings must be that, and the “smart” and “swagger” sets of every great European city are nowadays but a small, even a contemptible factor in its festivities.

Not long ago the present writer inquired of a well-known145 Englishman whether people of literary and artistic note were not always bidden to large and important London receptions. “In nearly all cases, yes,” he replied. “It has been the aim of my sister to invite, on such occasions, authors, artists, and actors of talent and distinction. They come, and are welcomed when they come.” He did not mention the name of his sister, knowing, doubtless, that I knew it. She was an English duchess, magnificently housed in London, a beauty, and a star of fashion.

But our New York brummagem “duchesses” of yesterday are less liberal in their condescensions. An attractive New York woman once said to me: “I told a man the other day that I was tired of meeting him incessantly at dinner, and that we met each other so often in this way as to make conversation a bore.” Could any remark have more pungently expressed the unhappy narrowness of New York reunions? How many times has the dainty Mr. Amsterdam or Mrs. Manhattan ever met men and women of literary or artistic gifts at a fashionable dinner in Fifth or Madison Avenue? How many times has he or she met any such person at a “patriarchs’ ball” or an “assembly?” Has he or she ever met an actor of note anywhere, except in two or three exceptional instances? True, men and women of intellectual fame shrink from contact with our noble Four Hundred. But that they should so shrink is in itself a scorching comment. They encounter patronage at such places, and getting patronage from one’s inferiors can never be a pleasant mode of passing one’s time. That delicate homage which is the due of mental merit they scarcely ever receive. Now and then you hear of a portrait-painter, who has made himself the rage of the town, being asked to dine and to sup. But he is seldom really held to be des nôtres, as the haughty elect ones would phrase it, and his popularity, based upon insolent patronage, often quickly crumbles. The solid devotion is all saved for the solid millionnaires. Frederick the Great, if I recall rightly, said that an army was like a snake, and moved on its stomach. Of New York society this might also be asserted, though with a meaning much more luxurious. To be a great leader is to be a great feeder. You must dispense terrapin, and canvas-back ducks, and rare brands of champagne, in lordly dining-halls, or your place is certain to be secondary. You may, if a man, have146 the manners of a Chesterfield and the wit of a Balzac; you may, if a woman, be beautiful as Mary Stuart and brilliant as DeStaël, and yet, powerless to “entertain,” you can fill no lofty pedestal. “Position” in New York means a corpulent purse whose strings work as flexibly as the dorsal muscles of a professional toady. And this kind of toady has an exquisite flair for your greatness and dignity the moment he becomes quite sure of your pecuniary willingness to back both. New York is at present the paradise of parvenus, and these occasionally commit grotesque mistakes in the distribution of civilities. Because you chose to “stay in” for a season or two, they will take for granted, if suddenly brought in contact with you, that you have never “been out” and could not go if you tried. Of course, to feel hurt by such cheap hauteur proves that you are in a manner worthy of it; but even though you are not in the least hurt, you cannot refrain from a thrill of annoyance that a country which has boasted in so loud-mouthed a way to Europe of having begun its national life by a wholesome scorn of all class distinction, should contain citizens cursed by a spirit of such tawdry pride. At least the aristocracies of other lands, vicious and reprehensible as they have always been, are yet an evil with a certain malign consistency for their support. Like those monarchies of which they have formed a piteous adjunct, they have always been the outgrowths of a perfectly natural ignorance. Though distinct clogs to civilization, their existence remains pathetically legitimate. Nuisances, they are still nuisances with a hereditary hold on history. Their chief modern claim for continuance is the fact that they were once authorized by that very “divine right” which is now the scorn and jest of philosophy, and that the communities which they still infest are yet unprepared for the shock of their extirpation. It is clear that they will one day be sloughed off like a mass of dead animal tissue, even if they are not amputated like a living limb that has grown hopelessly diseased. They are as surely doomed by the slow threat of evolution as is the failure to establish trial by jury in Russia. They are tolerated by progress for the simple reason that progress is not yet ready to destroy them. Hence are all imitations of their permitted and perpetuated folly in wofully bad taste. They are more; they are an insult, when147 practised in such a land as ours, to republican energies, motives, and ideals. Heaven knows, we are a country with sorry enough substantiality behind her vaunts. We call ourselves freemen, and our mines and factories are swarming with haggard slaves. We declare that to be President of the United States is the most honorable office a man can hold, and our elected candidates (except when they have the splendid self-abnegating courage of a Cleveland!) wade to Washington through a perfect bog of venal promises. We prate of our democratic institutions, and forget that free trade is one of the first proofs of a free people, and that protected industries are the feudalism of manufacture. We sneer at the corruption of a Jeffreys or a Marlborough in the past, and concede that bribery riots in our capital, and that the infernal political grist-mill in New York has to-day almost as much nefarious grinding to get through with annually as it had when Tweed and Sweeny stood the boss millers that fed its voracious maw. And after all, the abominations of New York’s politics are only a few degrees more repellent than the cruelties and pusillanimities of her self-styled patrician horde. The highest duty of rich people is to be charitable; in New York the rich people make for themselves two highest duties, to be fashionable and to be richer—if they can. Charity of a certain sort does exist among them, and it would be unfair to say that it is all of the pompous public sort. Much of it, indeed, is private, and when incomes, as in a few individual cases, reach enormous figures, the unpretentious donations are of no slight weight. But charity is a virtue that counts for nothing unless meekness, philanthropy, altruism, is each its acolyte. How can we expect that beings who busy themselves with affairs of such poignant importance as whether they shall give Jones a full nod or Brown a quarter of a nod when they next meet him; as whether the Moneypennys are really quite lancés enough for them to encounter the great Gilt-edges or no, at a prospective dinner-party; as whether the latest Parisian tidings about bonnets are really authentic or the contrary; as whether His Royal Highness has or has not actually appeared at one of his imperial mamma’s drawing-rooms in a Newmarket cutaway,—how, it is asked, can we expect that beings of this bent may properly heed those ghastly and incessant wants which are forever making148 of humanity the forlorn tragi-comedy it is? The yawp of socialism is excusably despised by plutocracy. Socialism is not merely a cry of pain; if it were only that its plaints might have proved more effectual. It is a cry of avarice, of jealousy, and very often of extreme laziness as well. Every socialistic theory that we have yet heard of is self-damning. Each real thinker, whether he be Crœsus or pauper, comprehends that to empower the executive with greater responsibility than it already possesses would mean to tempt national ruin, and that until mankind has become a race of angels the hideous problem of human suffering can never be solved by vesting private property-rights in the hands of public functionaries. But the note of anguish in that voice of desperation and revolt need not, for all this, be confused with its madder strains. The claim of poverty upon riches is to-day a tremendously ethical one. Help—and help wise, earnest, persistent—is the inflexible moral tax levied by life itself on all who have an overplus of wealth wherewith to relieve deserving misery. The occasional careless signing of a cheque, or even a visit now and then among the filthy slums of Bayard and Hester Streets, cannot cancel these mighty obligations. And there are better ways of schooling the soul to recognize the magnitude and insistence of such obligations than by organizing ultra-select dancing-classes at Sherry’s; giving “pink luncheons” to a bevy of simpering female snobs; uncorking eight-dollar bottles of Clos de Vougeot for a fastidious dinner company of men-about-town; squandering three thousand dollars on a Delmonico ball, or purchasing at vast prices the gowns and jewels of a deposed foreign empress. Yes, there are better ways. And for people who are solely pleasure-seekers to call themselves Christian is, from their own points of view, blasphemy unspeakable; since whatever we agnostics may say and believe about the alleged “divinity” of Christ, they hold that the Galilean was the son of God, and that in such miraculous character he spoke when saying: “Leave all and follow me.”

The American snob is a type at once the most anomalous and the most vulgar. Why he is anomalous need not be explained, but the essence of his vulgarity lies in his entire absence of a sanctioning background. It is not, when all is said, so strange a matter that anyone reared in an atmosphere149 of historic ceremonial and precedent should betray an inherent leaning toward shams and vanities. But if there is anything that we Americans, as a race, are forever volubly extolling, it is our immunity from all such drawbacks. And yet I will venture to state that in every large city of our land snobbery and plutocracy reign as twin evils, while in every small town, from Salem to some Pacific-slope settlement, the beginnings of the same social curse are manifest. Of course New York towers in bad eminence over the entire country. Abroad they are finding out the absurd shallowness of our professions. Nearly seven years ago an able literary man said to me in London: “I am wearied, here, by the necessity of continual aristocratic patronage. Especially true is this,” he added, “regarding all new dramatic productions. Lord This and Lady That are more thought of as potentially occupying stalls or boxes at a first performance than is the presence of the most sapient judges.” And then again, after a slight pause, he proceeded: “But I hear it is very much the same thing with you. I have often longed to go to America, just for the sake of that social emancipation which it has seemed to promise. But they tell me that in your big cities a good deal of the same humbug prevails.” I assured him that he was fatally right; but I did not proceed to say, as I might have done, that our “aristocracy” rarely patronizes first nights at theatres, holding most ladies, and gentlemen connected with the stage in a position somewhere between their scullions and their head footmen.

London laughs and sneers at New York when she thinks of her at all, which is, on the whole, not very often. If London esteemed New York of greater importance than she does esteem her, the derisive laughter might be keener and hence more salutary. Imagine America separated by only a narrow channel from Europe, and imagine her to contain in her chief metropolis, as she does at present, the amazing contradictions and refutations of the democratic idea which are to be noted now. What food for English, French, and German sarcasm would our pigmy Four Hundred then become! In those remote realms they have already shrank aghast at the licentious tyrannies of our newspapers. England has freedom of the press, but she also has a law of libel which is not a cipher. Our law of libel is so horribly effete that the purest woman on our continent may to-morrow150 be vilely slandered, and yet obtain no adequate form of redress. This is what our extolled “liberty” has brought us—a despotism in its way as frightful as anything that Russia or the Orient can parallel. Is it remarkable that such relatively minor abuses as those of plutocracy and snobbery should torment us here in New York when bullets of journalistic scandal are whizzing about our ears every day of our lives, and those who get wounds have no healing remedy within their possible reach? Some one of our clever novelists might take a hint for the plot of a future tale from this melancholy state of things. He might write a kind of new Monte Cristo, and make his hero, riddled and stung by assaults of our unbridled press, find but a single means of vengeance. That means would be the starting of a great newspaper on his own account, and the triumphant cannonading of his foes through its columns. More influential New York editors would doubtless already have forced their way within the holy bounds of patrician circles, were it not that, in the first place editors are somewhat hard-worked persons, and that in the second place they are usually men of brains.

Marriage, among the New York snobs and plutocrats, ordinarily treats human affection as though it were a trifling optic malady to be cured by a few drops of corrective lotion. Daughters are trained by their mothers to leave no efforts untried, short of those absolutely immoral, in winning wealthy husbands. Usually the daughters are tractable enough. Rebellion is rare with them; why should it not be? Almost from infancy (unless when their parents have made fortunes with prodigious quickness) they are taught that matrimony is a mere hard bargain, to be driven shrewdly and in a spirit of the coolest mercantile craft. Sometimes they do really rebel, however, mastered by pure nature, in one of those tiresome moods where she shows the insolence of defying bloodless convention. Yet nearly always capitulation follows. And then what follows later on? Perhaps heart-broken resignation, perhaps masked adultery, perhaps the degradation of public divorce. But usually it is no worse than a silent disgusted slavery, for the American woman is notoriously cold in all sense of passion, and when reared to respect “society” she is a snob to the core. Some commentators aver that it is the climate151 which makes her so pulseless and prudent. This is possible. But one deeply familiar with the glacial theories of the fashionable New York mother might find an explanation no less frigid than comprehensive for all her traits of acquiescence and decorum. How many of these fashionable mothers ask more than a single question of the bridegrooms they desire for their daughters? That one question is simply: “What amount of money do you control?” But constantly this kind of interrogation is needless. A male “match” and “catch” finds that his income is known to the last dollar long before he has been graduated from the senior class at Columbia or Harvard. Society, like a genial feminine Briaræus, opens to him its myriad rosy and dimpled arms. He has only to let a certain selected pair of these clutch him tight, if he is rich enough to make his personality a luring prize. Often his morals are unsavory, but these prove no impediment. The great point with plutocracy and snobbery is to perpetuate themselves—to go on producing scions who will uphold for them future generations of selfishness and arrogance. One sees the same sort of procreative tendency in certain of our hardiest and coarsest weeds. Sometimes a gardener comes along, with hoe, spade, and a strong uprooting animus. In human life that kind of gardener goes by the ugly name of Revolution. But we are dealing with neither parables nor allegories. Those are for the modish clergymen of the select and exclusive churches, and are administered in the form of dainty little religious pills which these gentlemen have great art in knowing how to palatably sugar.152



PART I.—Objections to National Ownership Considered.

When the paper published in the February Arena, entitled “The Farmer, the Investor, and the Railway,” was written, the writer was not ready to accept national ownership as a solution of the railway problem; but the occurrences attending the flurries of last autumn in the money markets, when half a dozen men, in order to obtain control of certain railways, entered into a conspiracy that came near wrecking the entire industrial and commercial interests of the country, having shed a lurid light upon the enormous and baleful power which the corporate control of the railways places in the hands of what Theodore Roosevelt aptly termed “the dangerous wealthy classes,” has had the effect of converting to the advocacy of national ownership not only the writer but vast numbers of conservative people of the central, western, and southern States to whom the question now assumes this form: “Which is to be preferred: a master in the shape of a political party that it is possible to dislodge by the use of the ballot, or one in the shape of ten or twenty Goulds, Vanderbilts, Huntingtons, Rockefellers, Sages, Dillons, and Brices who never die and whom it will be impossible to dislodge by the use of the ballot?” The particular Gould or Vanderbilt may die, as did that Vanderbilt to whom was ascribed the aphorism “The public be damned,” but the spirit and power of the Goulds and Vanderbilts never dies.


The objections to national ownership are many; that most frequently advanced and having the most force being the possibility that, by reason of its control of a vastly increased number of civil servants, the party in possession153 of the federal administration at the time such ownership was assumed would be able to perpetuate its power indefinitely. As there are more than 700,000 people employed by the railways, this objection would seem to be well taken; and it indicates serious and far-reaching results unless some way can be devised to neutralize the political power of such a vast addition to the official army.

In the military service we have a body of men that exerts little or no political power, as the moment a citizen enters the army he divests himself of political functions; and it is not hazardous to say that 700,000 capable and efficient men can be found who, for the sake of employment, to be continued so long as they are capable and well-behaved, will forego the right to take part in political affairs. If a sufficient number of such men can be found, this objection would, by proper legislation, be divested of all its force. At all events no trouble from such a source has been experienced since Australian railways were placed under control of non-partisan commissions, such a commission, having had charge of the Victorian railways since February, 1884, or a little more than one term, they being appointed for seven years instead of for life, as stated by Mr. W. M. Acworth in his argument against government control.

The second objection is that there would be constant political pressure to make places for the strikers of the party in power, thus adding a vast number of useless men to the force, and rendering it progressively more difficult to effect a change in the political complexion of the administration.

That this objection has much less force than is claimed is clear from the conduct of the postal department which is, unquestionably, a political adjunct of the administration; yet but few useless men are employed, while its conduct of the mail service is a model of efficiency after which the corporate managed railways might well pattern. Moreover, if the railways are put under non-partisan control, this objection will lose nearly if not quite all its force.

A third objection is that the service would be less efficient and cost more than with continued corporate ownership.

This appears to be bare assertion, as from the very nature of the case there can be no data outside that furnished by the government-owned railways of the British colonies, and such data negatives these assertions; and the advocates of154 national ownership are justified in asserting that such ownership would materially lessen the cost, as any expert can readily point out many ways in which the enormous costs of corporate management would be lessened. With those familiar with present methods, and not interested in their perpetuation, this objection has no force whatever.

The fourth objection is that with constant political pressure unnecessary lines would be built for political ends.

This is also bare assertion, although it is not impossible that such results would follow; yet such has not been the case in the British colonies where the governments have had control of construction. On the other hand, it is notorious that under corporate ownership, and solely to reap the profits to be made out of construction, the United States have been burthened with useless parallel roads, and such corporations as the Santa Fe have paralleled their own lines for such profits. It is quite safe to say that when the nation owns the railways there will be no nickel-plating, nor will such an unnecessary expenditure be made as was involved in the construction of the “West Shore”; nor will the feat of Gould and the Santa Fe be repeated of each building two hundred and forty miles, side by side, for construction profits, much of which is located in the arid portion of Kansas where there is never likely to be traffic for even one railway. Much of the republic is covered with closely parallel lines which would never have been built under national ownership, and this process will continue as long as the manipulators can make vast sums out of construction.

A fifth objection is that with the amount of red-tape that will be in use, it will be impossible to secure the building of needed lines.

While such objection is inconsistent with the fourth it may have some force; but as the greater part of the country is already provided with all the railways that will be needed for a generation, it is not a very serious objection even if it is as difficult as asserted to procure the building of new lines. It is not probable, however, that the government would refuse to build any line that would clearly subserve public convenience, the conduct of the postal service negativing such a supposition; and for party purposes the administration would certainly favor the construction of such lines as were clearly needed, and it is high time155 that only such should be built; and what instrumentality so fit to determine this as a non-partisan commission acting as the agent of the whole people?

The sixth objection is that lines built by the government would cost much more than if built by corporations.

Possibly this would be true, but they would be much better built and cost far less for maintenance and “betterments,” and would represent no more than actual cost; and such lines as the Kansas Midland, costing but $10,200 per mile, would not, as now, be capitalized at $53,024 per mile; nor would the President of the Union Pacific (as does Sidney Dillon, in the North American Review for April,) say that “A citizen, simply as a citizen, commits an impertinence when he questions the right of a corporation to capitalize its properties at any sum whatever,” as then there would be no Sidney Dillons who would be presidents of corporations, pretending to own railways built wholly from government moneys and lands, and who have never invested a dollar in the construction of a property which they have now capitalized at the modest sum of $106,000 per mile. After such an achievement, in making much out of nothing, it is no wonder that Mr. Dillon is a multi-millionnaire and thinks it an impertinence when a citizen asks how he has discharged his trust in relation to a railway built wholly with public funds, no part of which Mr. Dillon and his associates seem in haste to pay back; their indebtedness to the government, with many years of unpaid interest, amounting to more than $50,000,000, which is more than the cash cost of the railway upon which these men have been so sharp as to induce the government, after furnishing all the money expended in its construction, to accept a second mortgage, and now ask the same accommodating government to reduce the rate of interest—which they make no pretence of paying—to a nominal figure, and to wait another hundred years for both principal and interest. To make sure that the government’s second mortgage shall be no more valuable than second mortgages usually are, and to make it more comfortable for the manipulators, Messrs. Gould and Dillon now propose to put a blanket first mortgage of $250,000,000 on this property, built wholly from funds derived from the sale of government lands and bonds, and to pay the interest on which bonds the people are yearly taxed, although Mr.156 Dillon and his associates contracted to pay such interest. In his conception of the relations of railway corporations to the public, Mr. Dillon is clearly not in accord with the higher tribunals which hold, in substance, that railways are public rather than private property, and that the shareholders are entitled to but a reasonable compensation for the capital actually expended in construction and a limited control of the property; and in this connection it may be well to quote briefly from decisions of the United States Supreme Court, which, in the case of Wabash Railway vs. Illinois, uses this language: “The highways in a State are the highways of the State. The highways are not of private but of public institution and regulation. In modern times, it is true, government is in the habit, in some countries, of letting out the construction of important highways, requiring a large expenditure of capital, to agents, generally corporate bodies created for the purpose, and giving them the right of taxing those who travel or transport goods thereon as a means of obtaining compensation for their outlay; but a superintending power over the highways, and the charges imposed upon the public for their use, always remains in the government.” Again, in Olcott vs. the Supervisors, it is held that: “Whether the use of a railway is a public or private one depends in no measure upon the question who constructed it or who owns it. It has never been considered of any importance that the road was built by the agency of a private corporation. No matter who is the agent, the function performed is that of the State.”

Mr. Justice Bradley says: “When a railroad is chartered it is for the purpose of performing a duty which belongs to the State itself…. It is the duty and prerogative of the State to provide means of intercommunication between one part of its territory and another.”

If, as appears, such is the duty of the State (nation) why should not the State resume the discharge of this duty when the corporate agents to which it has delegated it are found to be using the delegated power for the purpose of oppressing and plundering a public which it is the duty of the government to protect?

The abilities of the man who cannot become a multi-millionnaire with the free use, for twenty-five years, of $33,000,000 of government funds, must be of a very low157 order, and it is no wonder, that after having for so many years had the use of such a sum without payment of interest, Mr. Dillon and his associates are very wealthy, and, like others who are retaining what does not belong to them, think it an impertinence when the owner inquires what use they are making of property to which they have no right. Had the nation built the Union Pacific there would have been no “Credit-Mobilier” and its unsavory scandal, and it is safe to say that the road would not now be made to represent an expenditure of $106,000 per mile, and that Mr. Dillon and some others would not have so much money as to warrant them in putting on such insufferable airs. When it is remembered what use Oakes Ames and the Union Pacific crew made of issues of stock, it is not at all surprising that the president of the Union Pacific should think it an impertinence for a citizen to question the amount of capitalization or the use to which a part of such issues have been put, some of which are within the knowledge of the writer, so far as relates to issues of that part of the Union Pacific lying in Kansas and built by Samuel Hallett, who told the writer that he gave a member of the then federal cabinet several thousand shares of the capital stock of the “Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division,”—now the Kansas Division of the Union Pacific—to secure the acceptance of sections of the road which were not built in accordance with the requirements of the act of Congress, which provided that a given amount of government bonds per mile should be delivered to the railway company when certain officials should accept the road; and it was a quarrel with the chief engineer of the road in relation to a letter written by such engineer to President Lincoln, informing him of the defective construction of this road, that caused Samuel Hallett to be shot down in the streets of Wyandotte, Kansas, by engineer Talcott. It is within the knowledge of the writer that the member of the cabinet to whom Mr. Hallett said he gave several thousand shares of stock, held an amount of Union Pacific shares years afterwards, and that many years after he left the cabinet he continued to draw a large salary from the Union Pacific Company. Mr. Hallett also told the writer what were the arguments applied to congressmen to induce them to change the government lien from a first to a second mortgage of the Pacific Railway lines, and what was his158 contribution in dollars to the fund used to enable congressmen to see the force of the arguments. When issues of railway shares are used for corrupt purposes it is certainly an impertinence for a citizen to make inquiries or offer any remarks in relation thereto.

The seventh objection to State owned railways is that they are incapable of as progressive improvement as are corporate owned ones, and will not keep pace with the progress of the nation in other respects; and in his Forum article Mr. Acworth lays great stress upon this phase of the question, and argues that as a result the service would be far less satisfactory.

There may be force in this objection, but the evidence points to an opposite conclusion. When the nation owns the railways, trains will run into union depots, the equipment will become uniform and of the best character, and so sufficient that the traffic of no part of the country would have to wait while the worthless locomotives of some bankrupt corporation were being patched up, nor would there be the present difficulties in obtaining freight cars, growing out of the poverty of corporations which have been plundered by the manipulators, and improvements would not be hindered by the diverse ideas of the managers of various lines in relation to the adoption of devices intended to render life more secure or to add to the public convenience. That such is one of the evils of corporate management is demonstrated daily, and is shown by the following from the Railway Review of March 7, 1891: “It is stated that a bill will be introduced in the Illinois Legislature, at the suggestion of the railroad and warehouse commissioners, governing the placing of interlocking plants at railway grade crossings. It sometimes happens that one of the companies concerned is anxious to put in such a plant and the other objects. At present there is no law to govern the matter, and the enterprising company is forced to abide the time of the other.” Instead of national ownership being a hindrance to improvement and enterprise, the results in Australia prove the contrary, as in Victoria the government railways are already provided with interlocking plants at all grade crossings, and one line does not have to wait the motion of another, but all are governed by an active and enlightened policy which adopts all beneficial improvements, appliances or modes of administration that will add either to the public159 safety, comfort, or convenience. It is safe to say that had the nation been operating the railways, there would have been no Fourth Avenue tunnel horror; and Chauncey Depew and associates would not now be under indictment, as the government would not have continued the use of the death-dealing stove on nearly half the railways in the country in order to save money for the shareholders.

Existing evidence all negatives Mr. Acworth’s postulate “that State railway systems are incapable of vigorous life.”

An objection to national ownership, which the writer has not seen advanced, is that States, counties, cities, townships, and school-districts would lose some $27,000,000 of revenue derived from taxes upon railways.

While this would be a serious loss to some communities, there would be compensating advantages for the public, as the cost of transportation would be lessened in like measure.

Many believe stringent laws, enforced by commissions having judicial powers, will serve the desired end, and the writer was long hopeful of the efficacy of regulation by State and national commissions; but close observation of their endeavors and of the constant efforts—too often successful—of the corporations to place their tools on such commissions, and to evade all laws and regulations, have convinced him that such control is and must continue to be ineffective, and that the only hope of just and impartial treatment for railway users is to exercise the “right of eminent domain,” condemn the railways, and pay their owners what it would cost to duplicate them; and in this connection it may be well to state what valuations some of the corporations place upon their properties.

Some years since the “Santa Fe” filed in the counties on its line a statement showing that at the then price of labor and materials—rails were double the present price—that their road could be duplicated for $9,685 per mile, and the materials being much worn the actual cash value of the road did not exceed $7,725 per mile.

In 1885 the superintendent of the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railway, before the Arkansas State board of assessors, swore that he could duplicate such railway for $11,000 per mile, and yet Mr. Gould has managed to float its securities, notwithstanding a capitalization of five times that amount.

(Concluded next month.)





The human soul would seem to be a spiritual substance, endowed with psychical force, capable of acting outside bodily limits. This force, like all others, may be transmissible into the form of electricity or heat, or may be capable of bringing into activity certain latent energies while it yet remains intimately united with our mental being.

We propound questions to the table, already impressed with our nervous impetus, on subjects interesting to ourselves; and then we ourselves unconsciously inspire the responses. The table speaks to us in our own language, giving back our own ideas, within the limits of our own knowledge, conversing with us about our opinions and views, as we might discuss them with ourselves. This is absolutely the reflection—direct or remote, precise or vague—of our own feelings and thoughts. All my efforts to establish the identity of a stranger spirit, unknown to the persons present, have failed.

On the other hand, attentive examination of different communications leads us toward a conclusion as to their origin. When amidst the Marquis de Mirville’s revelations, one is in the full swing of Roman Catholic diabolism—demons, spirits, purgatory, miracles, prayers,—nothing is lacking. With the Count de Gasparin, we are in the bosom of Rational Protestantism, which is absolutely the opposite of the other. Here are no present miracles, no devils, but simply a physical agency, a fluid obedient to volition. In the experiences of Eugene Nus’s circle, we find the language of Fourier discoursing about the phalanstery, about racial solidarity, and socialistic religion. Therein are found earthly music chanted in space,—songs of Saturn and Jupiter161 dictated under the influence of Alyre Bureau, who was the musician for the spiritualist society of Allan-Kardec. Here we have disembodied spirits of all ranks, and this is the apostolate of their reincarnation.

In the United States, on the contrary, the moving tables declare that the hypothesis of reincarnation is absurd and misleading; and it may be assumed that none of the persons present, especially the ladies, would for one moment admit the possibility of being some day reincarnated beneath the skin of a negro. A brilliant imagination, like that of Sardou, will picture to us Jupiter’s castles; a musician may receive the revelation of a musical composition, more or less charming; an astronomer may be favored with astronomical communications. Is this physical auto-suggestion? Not absolutely, since the force goes outside of ourselves, in order to act. It is rather mental suggestion; yet an idea cannot be suggested to a piece of wood. This is, therefore, the direct action of the mind. I cannot find a better name for it than psychical force, a term, as already stated, which I have used since 1865, and which has since become the fashion.

The action of mind, outside the body, has other testimony, however. Magnetism, hypnotism, suggestion, telepathy prove this every day. It cannot be disputed that here also we encounter many illusions.

Some ten years ago a learned physician at Nice, Doctor Barety, the author of “La Force Neurique Rayonnante et Circulante” (The Radiation and Circulation of Nervous Force) devoted himself to ingenious experiments in the distant transmission of thought as observable in a magnetized person. In these experiments, in which I assisted, it seemed to me that the subject’s sense of hearing amply sufficed to explain the results.

Take one case. The subject began to count aloud, while the magnetizer was in an adjoining room, the door standing open between them. At a certain moment the doctor, with all his energy, projected his “nervous fluid” from his hands, and the magnetized subject forthwith ceased counting; yet the doctor’s linen cuffs made enough noise to indicate what he commanded, though no word was spoken. During the experiments at Salpétrière and at Ivry, to which Doctor Luys was kind enough to invite me, I thought I observed that a previous knowledge of the sequence of the experiments162 furnished a wide margin for the exercise of the personal faculties of the young women upon whom the experiments were made. These suspicions, however, did not prevent certain facts in regard to mental suggestion from being absolutely incontestable.

Here is one among others:—

Doctor Ochorowiez was attending a lady troubled with long-standing hysterio-epilepsy, aggravated by a maniacal inclination to suicide. Madame M. was twenty-seven years of age, and had a vigorous constitution. She appeared to be in excellent health. Her active and gay temperament was united with extreme moral sensibility. Her character was specially truthful. Her profound goodness was tinctured with a tendency toward self-sacrifice. Her intelligence was remarkable. Her talents were many, and her perceptive faculties were good. At times she would display a lack of willpower, and an element of painful indecision; while at other times she showed exceptional firmness. The slightest moral fatigue, any unexpected impression, though of trifling importance, whether agreeable or otherwise, reacted, although slowly and imperceptibly, upon her vaso-motor nerves, and brought on convulsive attacks and a nervous swoon. Writes Dr. Ochorowiez in his work on Mental Suggestion:

One day, or rather one night, her attack being over (including a phase of delirium), the patient fell quietly asleep. Awaking suddenly, and seeing us (one of her female friends and myself) still near her, she begged us to go away, and not to tire ourselves needlessly on her account. She was so persistent that, fearing a nervous crisis, we departed. I went slowly downstairs, for she resided on the fourth story, and I paused several times to listen attentively, troubled by an evil presentiment; for she had wounded herself several times a few days before. I had already reached the courtyard, when I paused again, asking myself whether or not I ought to go away.

All at once her window opened with a slam, and I saw the sick woman leaning out with a rapid motion. I rushed to the spot where she might fall; and mechanically, without attaching any great importance to the impulse, I concentrated all my will in one great desire to oppose her precipitation.

The patient was influenced, however, though already leaning far out, and retreated slowly and spasmodically from the window. The same movements were repeated five times in succession, until the patient, seemingly fatigued, at last remained motionless, her back leaning against the casement of the window, which was still open.

She could not see me, as I was in the shadow far below, and it was night. At that moment, her friend, Mademoiselle X., ran in, and caught madame in her arms. I heard them struggling together, and hastened up the stairs to mademoiselle’s assistance. I found the invalid in a frenzy of excitement. She did not recognize us, but mistook us for163 robbers. I could only draw her away from the window by using violence enough to throw her upon her knees. Several times she tried to bite me; but after much trouble, I succeeded in replacing the poor lady in her bed. While maintaining my grasp with one hand, I induced a contraction of her arms, and finally put her to sleep.

When again in a somnambulistic state, her first words were: “Thanks!—pardon!”

Then she told me that she positively intended to throw herself out of the window, but that each time she felt as if she were “stayed from below.”

“How so?”

“I do not know.”

“Did you have any suspicion of my presence?”

“No! it was precisely because I believed you away, that I proposed to carry out my design. However, it seemed to me at times that you were near me, or behind me, and that you did not want me to fall.”

Here is another experiment still more striking. Pierre Janet, Professor of Philosophy in the Havre Lycée, and Monsieur Gibert, a physician, selected as a subject for their observation a certain woman, a native of Brittany. She was fifty years old, robust, and moderately sensitive to hypnotic influences. On October 10, 1885, they agreed upon the following command:

To-morrow, at noon, lock the doors of your house.


This suggestion Dr. Janet inscribed upon a sheet of paper, which he carried about in his pocket, not communicating its purport to anybody. Dr. Gibert made the suggestion by placing his forehead against the woman’s, while she was in a lethargic slumber; and for a few moments he concentrated his mind upon the mental command he was giving.

Writes Janet concerning this incident:

On the morrow we went to the house, at fifteen minutes before twelve, and found the entrance barricaded and the doors locked. Inquiry proved that madame herself had closed them. When I asked her, next day, why she had done such a strange thing, she replied: “I felt very tired, and did not want you to come in and put me to sleep.”

She was greatly agitated at the time. She continually wandered about the garden, and I saw her pluck a rose, and go towards the letter-box, which was near the gate. These actions were of no importance; but it is curious to note that these last actions were precisely those the day before we had thought of ordering her to perform, though we afterwards decided upon a different suggestion, namely, that of locking the doors. Undoubtedly his first suggestion occupied Gibert’s mind while he was giving the second, and had a corresponding influence over the woman.

Here is still another experiment, related by Doctor Dusart:

Every day, before leaving a certain young patient, I commanded her to sleep until a specified hour the next day. Once I came away, forgetting164 this precaution, and I was seven hundred yards away before I thought of it. Being unable to retrace my steps, I said to myself that my wish might perhaps be felt, notwithstanding the distance, since a silent suggestion was sometimes obeyed at an interval of one or two yards. I therefore formulated my command that she should sleep until eight o’clock the next morning, and then kept on my way. The next day I called again, at half-past seven, and found my patient still asleep.

“How happens it that you are still asleep?”

“Why, Monsieur, I am obeying your orders.”

“You are mistaken. I went away without giving any such command!”

“That is so! but five minutes later I distinctly heard you tell me to sleep until eight o’clock.”

As it was not yet eight, and as eight was the hour I usually indicated, the possibility suggested itself that her awakening was the result of an illusion, arising from habit, and perhaps, after all, this was a case of simple coincidence. In order to make a clean breast of it, and leave no room for doubt, I ordered the invalid to sleep until she should receive a command to awake.

During the day, having a few spare moments, I resolved to complete the experiment. On leaving my house, seven kilometers away, I mentally gave the order for her to wake up. I noticed that it was two o’clock. On reaching the house I found her awake. Her parents, following my advice, had noted the precise time of her awakening. It was the very hour at which I gave the command.

This experiment was repeated several times, at different hours, and always with kindred results.

This is really very interesting; but here is something which appears more extraordinary.

On the first of January I discontinued my visits, and my relations to the family ceased. I had not even heard them spoken of; yet on January 12, as I was making some visits in an opposite direction, ten kilometers away from my former patient, I found myself wondering if it was still possible to make her hear my mental commands, despite the distance separating us, despite the cessation of my relations to the family, and despite the intervention of a third party, the father himself, who was magnetizing his daughter. I therefore bade the patient not fall asleep. Half an hour later, reflecting that if, by some extraordinary chance, my command was obeyed, this might prejudice the mind of the unfortunate girl against me, I withdrew my prohibition, and dismissed it from my thoughts. On the following morning, at six o’clock, I was greatly surprised by the arrival of a messenger, bringing me a letter from the father of the young lady, in which he informed me that on the day before, January 12, at ten o’clock in the forenoon, he was unable to put his daughter to sleep, except by a prolonged and disagreeable struggle. When she at last fell asleep she declared that if she had resisted, it was because of my command, and that she finally fell asleep only because I permitted it.

These declarations had been made before witnesses, whom the father had asked to countersign his report. I have preserved this letter, and have added a few circumstantial details thereto.

It is, therefore, probable that, with an exact knowledge or phenomenal conditions, we may eventually be able to mentally transmit entire thoughts to distant points, as is done now by telephone.

Independently of magnetism, it is difficult not to believe165 that two persons, mutually dear to each other, although separated by certain circumstances, may remain united by their thoughts, with a tenacity which nothing can disturb, especially if the circumstances are grave. The thoughts of the one react upon the mind of the other, as if the beatings of one heart could transmit themselves to another heart. There is a certain psychical tie between the two; and at the time when one especially concentrates his voluntary force upon the other, it is not unusual for the latter to feel the reaction, and be plunged into a revery even more intense. The transmission of thought—or, to speak more exactly, suggestion,—is, under these conditions, a matter for observation, which might frequently be applied.

I shall not here consider the phenomena of telepathy or ghosts. Readers of The Arena have been favored with Mr. Wallace’s excellent articles on this point, and it would be superfluous to reconsider it. No doubt our readers are also acquainted with the examples reported in my work called Urania, and have long been aware that I believe in the possibility of communications between invisible beings and ourselves. In the point of view at which I have placed myself in this technical and essentially scientific outline, I have taken care to carefully distinguish the things seen by myself from those which I have not seen.

I do not belong to the same class with those who say: “We have not seen it, and therefore it cannot be.” There are honest people everywhere. There are, perhaps, few exact observers, capable of reporting facts, without changing anything in their recitals; but there are witnesses we cannot well gainsay.

Here, for example, is a letter among many recently addressed to me, relative to certain extraordinary facts.

Your work, Urania, has prompted me to bring to your knowledge an event which I heard related by the very person to whom it happened,-a Danish physician, named Vogler, residing at Gudum, near Alborg, in Jutland.

Vogler is a man of robust health, both in mind and body. He has an upright and positive disposition, without the least tendency (but quite the contrary) to nervous excitability.

He related to me the following story, which I have often heard confirmed by others as the unadorned and exact truth.

When a young man, studying medicine, he travelled in Germany with Count Schimmuelmann, a noted name among the nobility of Holstein, who was about his own age. They hired a small house in a German university town where they proposed to stay for sometime. The Count166 lived in the apartments on the ground floor, while Vogler occupied the next story; and the street door, as well as the stairway, were used by themselves alone. One night, when Mr. Vogler was reading in bed, he suddenly heard the door at the foot of the stairs open and shut; but he did not pay any attention to it, believing the Count had just come in. A few moments later he heard slow and tired footsteps ascend the stairs, and stop at his chamber door. He saw the door open, but nobody appeared. The footsteps did not cease, however, for he heard them on the floor, advancing from the door to the bed. He could see absolutely nothing, although the light was continuously burning; and he could not understand the affair, not recognizing the footsteps. When the steps had drawn very near the bed, he heard a great sigh, which he at once recognized as that of his grandmother, whom he had left in good health at their home in Denmark. At the same instant he also recognized the step, which was, indeed, the halting and aged step of his grandmother. Looking at his watch, which he had placed under his pillow, Vogler noted the exact hour, and made a memorandum of it, for he at once surmised that his grandmother might be dying at the very instant. At a later day he received a letter from the paternal home, announcing the sudden death of his grandmother, who particularly cherished him above the other grandchildren. This established the fact that her death occurred at the very hour indicated. In this manner did the venerable woman take leave of her grandson, who did not even know of her illness.

Edward Hambro
Counselor-at-law, and Secretary of Public Works
in the City of Christiana

Here, as may be seen, is a fact, observed as precisely as a scientific experiment; and it might be added to those I have published in Urania.

I will adduce one more fact, which was observed very long ago, in 1784, by my great-grandfather, on my mother’s side.

It occurred in Illand, a little village in the county of Bar, which to-day belongs to the Department of Haute-Marne, not far from the native place of both my maternal grandfather and myself. In childhood I spent all my vacations there among the vine-planted hills, face to face with gracious landscapes, amid forests alive with bird songs. The house yet stands in which the incident happened. It is at the entrance of the village, on the right, and is called the Chateau. One evening my great-grandmother, on returning from her work in the fields, perceived, by the huge chimney-corner (which can still be seen), her brother, who had been dead several months. He was seated, and seemed to be warming himself. “My God!” she exclaimed in affright, “it’s our dead Rolet!” and then she ran away. Her husband, entering in his turn, also saw his brother-in-law sitting by the fireplace. At that critical moment one of the farm hands uttered an oath, and the apparition vanished.167

I give this narrative as it was related to me. No misgivings as to the reality of the vision existed in the minds of the personages in my grandmother’s household.

Allow me to mention another illustration. In February, 1889, I received from H. Van der Kerkhare the following communication, relating to an article I had published about this class of phenomena.

While in Texas, on August 25, 1874, towards sunset, I was smoking my after-dinner pipe in a room on the ground floor of the house I occupied. I was facing the wall, with a door on my right opening towards the northwest. Here is a diagram of the scene.

Seat and door location

Suddenly I saw my old grandfather in the doorway. I was in that semi-conscious state of well-being and quietude natural to a man with a good appetite who has dined satisfactorily. I was not at all astonished to see my grandfather there. In fact, I was vegetating just then, thinking of nothing in particular. Nevertheless, I said to myself:—“It is droll that the rays of the setting sun should pour gold and purple through the least folds of my grandfather’s garments and face.” In fact, the setting sun was red, and threw its last horizontal rays diagonally athwart the doorway. Grandfather had a beneficent countenance. He smiled and seemed happy. All at once he disappeared along with the vanishing sun, and I roused myself as from a dream, but with the conviction that I had seen an apparition. Six weeks afterwards I was apprised by letter that my grandfather had died on the night of August 25 and 26 between one and two o’clock. Well, there is a difference of five and one-half hours between the longitude of Belgium, where my grandfather died, and the longitude of Texas where I was, and where the sun set at about seven o’clock.

It would be easy to cite a large number of similar cases. Let me end this section with the following conclusion of Ch. Richet, the learned editor of the Revue Scientifique:—

Unless we discredit the value of all human testimony, these stories are veritable and accurate. Whenever kindred incidents are reproduced by experiment, telepathy will no longer be disputed, but admitted as a natural phenomenon, as well proven as the rotation of the earth, or as the contagion of tuberculosis. To-day’s audacious theories will, in a few years, seem almost like infantile truisms.

We have now come to the closing section of this already long essay,—namely, to the explanation of such phenomena as table-tipping, spirit rapping and dictation, and distant transmission of thought. Let us confess that it is much easier to unfold and discuss such facts, than to determine their modus168 operandi. I will add that, even if in the present state of our knowledge, it is impossible to explain these facts, there is no shadow of a reason for rejecting them.

The theory with which we conclude has been anticipated by the preceding sections.

What is the universe? What is nature? What are beings? What are things?

From astronomy to physiology, everything constrains us to allow the existence of at least two elements—force and matter.

The order and laws of the universe, together with human thought and consciousness, lead us to admit (besides force and matter) a third element—intelligence; for speaking only of the constituency of our planet, no chemical combination whatever has ever been known to produce an idea.

Force directs. Matter obeys.

Force is invisible and so is matter.

All matter whatsoever is composed of atoms, too infinitesimal for our perception, and even invisible beneath the most powerful microscope but whose existence is demonstrated by chemistry, as well as by physics. The molecules of iron, gold, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, appear to be groups of atoms. Even if we deny the existence of atoms, and admit only the existence of molecules, they also are invisible.

Matter, therefore, in its very essence, is invisible. Our eyes behold only motion and transitory forms. Our hands touch only appearances. Hardness and softness, heat and cold, weight and lightness, are relative, not absolute conditions.

What we call matter is only an effect produced upon our senses by the motion of atoms,—that is to say, by our unceasing receptivity to sensations.

The universe is a dynamic conglomerate. Atoms are in perpetual motion, caused by forces. All is movement. Heat, light, electricity, terrestrial magnetism, do not exist as independent agents. They are but modes of motion. That which actually exists is force. It is force that sustains the universe. It is force that projects the earth into space. It is force that constitutes living creatures.

The human soul is a principle of force. Thought is a dynamic act. Psychical force acts upon the matter composing our bodies, and actuates all our members to fulfil their tasks. Like all forces, psychical force can transform itself,169 can become electricity, heat, light, motion; for these are all modes of motion. Psychical force is itself in motion.

It can act outside the limits of the human organism, and can temporarily animate a table. I place my hands on a round table, with a firm desire to see it obey my will. I communicate to it a certain heat, a certain electricity, a certain polarization, or a certain other something we have not yet discovered. The stand becomes, so to speak, an extension of my body, and submits to the influence of my will. I look at a person. I take his hand. I thus act upon him.

More than this. If the brain of another person vibrates in unison with mine, or has at one in harmony with the keynote of my own brain, I can act upon him, even from a distance.

If I emit a sound a few yards from a piano, those piano-strings which are in harmony with my utterance will vibrate, and themselves send forth a kindred sound, easily distinguishable.

A telegraph wire transmits a despatch: A neighboring wire is influenced by induction; and it has been possible, by the aid of this second and separate wire, to read messages sent over the first.

There is still more to be said. The principle of the transformation of force to-day opens to us new views which might well be called marvellous. We every day make use of the telephone, without thinking that it is, in itself, more astonishing than all the occult facts considered in this paper.

You speak. Your voice is transmitted ten or twenty thousand kilometers, from Paris to Marseilles, and even farther away. You think it is your own voice which is heard and recognized at the other end of the wire; but it is not; your voice has not made the journey. Sound of itself, in its ordinary state, is not transmitted with anything like the rapidity attending this flight over the copper wire. If it were otherwise, we should have to wait seven hours and twenty-four seconds for a response, whereas there is no appreciable delay in the telephonic passage of sound. The usual vocal velocity becomes electric velocity, and the interval between the terminal stations of the wire is traversed instantaneously. On reaching its destination, the current again transforms itself into sound through its encounter with a medial, an environment like that at its starting-point.

Is the conductive wire indispensable? By no means! Is170 there a connecting wire between the sun and the earth? Yet the spots on the sun occasion rebounds in the variations of terrestrial magnetism. In the photophone the conductive wire has already been dispensed with, and a ray of light is used in its place. You speak behind a mirror, and thus cause it to vibrate. These vibrations modify the reflection of light from the vibrating mirror, which thus bears along your voice, with which it becomes charged. Selenium, the chemical element used in the operation, transmits the sound to the telephone, and your spoken word is reproduced.

The principal of the transformation of forces is undoubtedly one of the most prolific in modern physics. Heat can be transformed into mechanical motion; mechanical motion may be transformed into heat. Electricity is transformable into magnetism; and, reciprocally, magnetism may change into electricity, into light. The motion of the mill-wheel serves to illuminate your house. From Paris you can light a lamp in Brussels. When you act from afar upon another mind, it is not your thought which travels, as a mental condition; but your thought traverses the intervening ether through a series of vibrations as yet unknown to us, and only becomes thought again when brought into contact with another brain, because the last transference brings the impulse into a medium akin to that from which it started. It is therefore necessary that this second brain should be in sympathy with yours; that is to say, using one of Doctor Ochorowiez’s expressions, that “the dynamic tone” of the receiver should be in accord with your own. It is, moreover, noticeable that there are periods when veritable thought-currents affect thousands of brains at the same moment. At the bottom of all this there is but one principle, and that is identical with the relation existing between the magnet and the iron, between the sun and the earth,—namely, the transmission and transformation of motion. Herbert Spencer has said:—

The discovery that matter, so simple in appearance, is wonderfully complicated in its vital structure,—and that other discovery, that its molecules, oscillating with a rapidity almost infinite, convey their impressions to the surrounding ether, which, in turn, transmits them over inconceivable distances, in an inconceivably short space of time,—these discoveries lead us to the even more marvellous discovery, that any kind of molecules are affected in a special manner by molecules of the same kind, though situated in the most distant regions of space.

It requires but one step more for the admission that171 psychical communications may be established between an inhabitant of Mars and an inhabitant of the earth.

We are often asked what all these studies amount to. That is still unknown. If they should end in a scientific proof of the existence and immortality of the soul, these investigations would forthwith surpass in value all other human sciences put together, without a single exception.

It must be acknowledged that this reason is a sufficient authorization for us not to despise this class of researches. But this argument is needless. These investigations relate to the unknown, and that reason is all-sufficient.

Did Galvani in examining the convulsions of his frogs, have any idea of the immense, the prodigious, the universal part which electric science was to perform in less than a century? Denis Papin and Robert Fulton, Benjamin Franklin and James Watts, Jouffroy and Daguerre,—all the inventors, all the searchers after truth,—were they wrong in losing themselves in their pursuit of the unknown? It is such men who cause the advance of humanity. It is to them mankind owes its progress.

If it were proved, we say, that there exists outside of us, and even within us, an immaterial and spiritual force, which eludes the known processes of nature, and the acknowledged laws of life,—and which reveals itself by other processes and other laws, which do not supplant the first, but take an equal place beside them, this new knowledge might enlighten somewhat the shadows which now conceal the great secret of the origin and destiny of such poor beings as ourselves.

First of all, let us seek the truth. To be sure, Taine has written very wittily: “I never thought that a truth could be of any practical use!” but we may not be of the same mind, and may think, on the contrary, that the search for truth is the prime object of men’s intellectual existence.172



The study of federalism, as a system of government, has in recent times become a favorite subject for constitutional writers. At present the United States and the Dominion of Canada on this continent, the newly constituted Australian Commonwealth at the Antipodes, and in Europe the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Swiss Confederation are all examples of the application of the federal principle in its various phases. What makes all researches into this branch of political learning particularly difficult, and perhaps for that reason also exceptionally fascinating, is the fact that federated states seem forever oscillating between the two extremes of complete centralization and decentralization. The two forces, centripetal and centrifugal, seem to be always pulling against each other, and producing a new resultant which varies according to their proportionate intensity. One is almost tempted to say that there must be an ideal state somewhere between these two extremes, some point of perfect balance, from which no nation can ever depart very far without either falling apart into anarchy or being consolidated into despotism. Whatever, therefore, can throw light upon these obscure forces is certainly entitled to our deepest interest.

But not all the different states mentioned above as representatives of federalism, possess an equal value for us in our search after improvements in the art of self-government. The study of the constitutions of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires can only be of secondary importance to us Americans, because these states are founded upon monarchical principles, quite foreign to our body politic. To a limited extent, the same objection may be made to the Canadian and Australian constitutions, since the connection of those countries with the monarchical mother country has not been constitutionally severed. But there is another federated state in existence, until lately almost ignored by173 writers on political subjects, whose example can in reality be of the utmost use to us, for its general organization more nearly resembles our own in miniature than any other. This country is Switzerland. In her quiet fashion the unobtrusive little Confederation is working out some of the great modern problems, and her citizens, with their natural aptitude for self-government, are presenting object lessons which we especially in America cannot afford to overlook. It is true that political analogies are sometimes a little perilous, for identical situations can never be reproduced in different countries, but if there be any virtue at all in the study of comparative politics, a comparison between the Federal constitutions of Switzerland and the United States ought to throw into relief some features which can be of service to us.

To be perfectly frank, the Swiss constitution, when placed side by side with our own, at first shows certain decided short-comings. The Constitution of the United States is an eminently logical, well-balanced document, in which a masterly distinction is made between the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of government, and between matters which belong by nature to organic law, and those which may safely be left to the statute law. In the Swiss constitution, however, the line which separates these departments is not as clearly drawn, so that, in fact, a certain amount of confusion in their treatment becomes apparent. In the primitive leagues which were concluded between the early Confederates no attempt was made to draw up regular constitutions, and the one now in force dates only from 1848, with amendments made in 1874, 1879, and 1885, an instrument still somewhat imperfect, perhaps, but none the less suggestive to the student.

There are two institutions in the Swiss state which bear a very strong likeness to corresponding ones in our own. Both countries have a legislative system consisting of two houses, one representing the people numerically, and the other the Cantons or States of which the Union is composed, and both possess a Supreme Court, which in Switzerland goes by the name of the Federal Tribunal. It is generally conceded that the Swiss consciously imitated these American institutions, but in doing so they certainly took care to adapt them to their own particular needs, so that the two sets of institutions are by no means identical. The Swiss National Council and174 Council of States, forming together the Federal Assembly, are equal, co-ordinate bodies, performing the same functions, whereas our House of Representatives and Senate have particular duties assigned to each, and the former occupies in a measure a subordinate position to the latter. The Swiss Houses meet twice a year in regular sessions, on the first Monday in June and the first Monday in December, and for extra sessions if there is special unfinished business to transact. The National Council is composed at present of 147 members, one representative to every 20,000 inhabitants. Every citizen of twenty-one is a voter; and every voter not a clergyman is eligible to this National Council—the exclusion of the clergy is due to dread of religious quarrels, with which the pages of Swiss history have been only too frequently stained. A general election takes place every three years. The salary of the representatives is four dollars a day, which is forfeited by non-attendance, and about five cents a mile for travelling expenses. On the other hand, the Council of States is composed of forty-four members, two for each of the twenty-two Cantons. The length of their terms of office is left entirely to the discretion of the Cantons which elect them, and in the same manner their salaries are paid out of the Cantonal treasuries. There are certain special occasions when the two houses meet together and act in concert: first, for the election of the Federal Council, which corresponds in a general way to our President and his Cabinet; secondly, for the election of the Federal Tribunal; thirdly, for that of the Chancellor of the Confederation, an official whose duties seem to be those of a secretary to the Federal Council and Federal Assembly, and fourthly, for that of the Commander-in-Chief in case of war. The attributes of the Swiss Federal Tribunal, though closely resembling those of our Supreme Court, are not identical with them, for the Swiss conception of the sovereignty of the people is quite different from our own. Their Federal Assembly is the repository of the national sovereignty, and, therefore, no other body can override its decisions. The Supreme Court of the United States tests the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress which may be submitted to it for examination, thus placing itself as arbiter over the representatives of the people; but the Federal Tribunal must accept as final all laws which have passed through the usual channels, so that175 its duty consists merely in applying them to particular cases without questioning their constitutionality.

If there is a certain resemblance between the Federal Assembly and our Congress, and between the Federal Tribunal and our Supreme Court, there is on the other hand a striking difference between the Federal Council and our presidential office.

The Swiss Constitution does not intrust the executive power to one man, as our own does, but to a Federal Council of seven members, acting as a sort of Board of Administration. These seven men are elected for a fixed term of three years, out of the ranks of the whole body of voters throughout the country, by the two Houses, united in joint session. Every year they also designate, from the seven members of the Federal Council, the two persons who shall act as President and Vice-President of the Swiss Confederation. The Swiss President is, therefore, only the chairman of an executive board, and presents a complete contrast to the President of the United States, who is virtually a monarch, elected for a short reign. Sir Henry Maine says in his book on “Popular Government,” that somewhat exasperating but always instructive arraignment of democracy: “On the face of the Constitution of the United States, the resemblance of the President of the United States to the European king, and especially to the King of Great Britain, is too obvious to mistake. The President has, in various degrees, a number of powers which those who know something of kingship in its general history recognize at once as peculiarly associated with it and with no other institution.” In truth he is vested with all the attributes of sovereignty during his term of office. He holds in his hand the whole executive power of the government; he is Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy; possesses a suspensory veto upon legislation and the privilege of pardoning offences against Federal law, and finally is intrusted with an appointing power unparalleled in any free country. With all this authority he is still a partisan by reason of the manner of his election, so that he cannot possibly administer his office impartially, and must, from the necessity of the case, forward the interests of one political party at the expense of the rest. It is certainly worthy of consideration whether the Swiss Federal Council does not contain valuable suggestions for reformers who desire176 to hasten the triumph of absolute democracy in the United States.

The institution of the Referendum has no counterpart in our own country, unless we except the somewhat unwieldy provisions in various States for the revisions of their constitutions by popular vote. It is undoubtedly the most successful experiment in applying the principles of direct government which has been made in modern times. Having already written more fully upon this subject in the March number of The Arena, the writer will here confine himself to reminding the readers of this review that the referendum is an institution by means of which laws framed by the representatives are submitted to the people for rejection or approval. It is significant of the interest which the referendum is already exciting in this country that a committee of gentlemen recently presented themselves at the State House to urge the adoption of this principle in local matters.

There are, besides, a host of minor differences between the Swiss and American Constitutions, of more or less interest to students of politics and economics.

The central government in Switzerland maintains a university, the Polytechnic at Zürich, and by virtue of the constitution also exerts an influence over education throughout the Confederation. Article 27 prescribes that the Cantons shall provide compulsory primary instruction to be placed in charge of the civil authorities and to be gratuitous in all public schools. In practice these provisions have been found difficult to enforce where the spirit of the population was opposed to them, as in Uri, the most illiterate of the Cantons, where the writer found educational matters entirely in the hands of the priesthood. Fortunately, however, the Swiss people at large have a very keen appreciation of the value of education, so that illiteracy, as we have it in this country, among the negroes and the poor whites of the South, as well as amongst certain classes of our immigrants, is really unknown in Switzerland. Someone has jestingly said that there “the primary business of the state is to keep school,” and really, in travelling through the country which gave birth to Pestalozzi, one is continually impressed with the size and comparative splendor of the schoolhouses; in every village and hamlet they have the appearance of being the very best which the community by scrimping and saving177 can possibly put up. On the subject of import duties, the Constitution lays down in Article 29 as general rules to guide the conduct of legislators, that “materials which are necessary to the industries and agriculture of the country shall be taxed as low as possible; the same rule shall be observed in regard to the necessaries of life. Articles of luxury shall be subjected to the highest taxes.” From this set of principles it will be seen that Switzerland levies her duties for revenue only, as the phrase is, although it must be confessed that there is a perceptible tendency now manifested to raise the duties in consequence of the high protectionist wave which is sweeping over the continent of Europe at the present moment. When the statistics of Switzerland’s general trade, including all goods in transit, which, of course, make a considerable portion of the whole, are compared with those of other European states, it is found that she possesses a greater amount of general trade per head of population than any other country, more even than England. The telegraph and telephone systems are managed by the central government, as well as the post office, with excellent results. Not only are these departments conducted in an exemplary manner upon cheap terms, but a respectable revenue is also derived from them which makes a good showing in the annual budget. Everything which is connected with the army, from the selection of the recruits to the election of the Commander-in-Chief, also possesses exceptional interest, because Switzerland is the only country in the world which has so far succeeded in maintaining an efficient militia without the vestige of a standing army. An attempt was made in 1885 to deal with the evils of intemperance, by establishing a state monopoly of the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors, the Revenue thus derived being apportioned amongst the Cantons according to population, with the proviso that ten per cent. of it be used by them to combat the causes and effects of alcoholism in their midst. It is too early to speak of the final results of this legislation, but for the moment there seems to be a decided falling off in the consumption of the cruder and more injurious qualities. Amongst other matters which the Federal authorities have brought under their supervision, are the forests, river improvements, ordinary roads, and railroads, and bridges, etc., not managing them all directly, but reserving the right to regulate them at178 will. Even hunting and fishing come within the jurisdiction of the central government, this constitutional power having been used to preserve the chamois in certain mountain ranges where they were threatening to disappear completely, but where, thanks to timely interference, they are now actually on the increase.

Apart from these constitutional provisions, the general drift of legislative action seems to have set in very strongly towards a mild form of state socialism, somewhat after the form of the Prussian system, but with this difference, that in the case of Switzerland it is the people who unite to delegate certain powers to the state, while in the latter country this policy is imposed upon the people from above by the ruling authorities. The altogether exceptional clauses in the Swiss Constitution referring to the exclusion of the Jesuits, a survival of the war of 1848, to the so-called Heimatlosen, or those who have no commune of origin, and to the police appointed to control the movements of foreign agitators seeking the asylum of the country, all these have a purely local interest, and need not be especially examined.

What, then, is the peculiar mark and symbol of the Swiss Constitution, taken as a whole? When all has been said and done, the most characteristic provisions are those which introduce forms of direct government or of pure democracy, as the technical expression is. The supremacy of the legislative branch, as representing the people, the peculiar make-up of the Federal Council, the limited powers of the Federal Tribunal, and above all the institution of the referendum, are all evidences of this tendency toward direct government. In the Cantonal governments the same quality is still more apparent, for it is from them that the Swiss Federal Constitution has borrowed the principles which underlie these characteristic provisions. In point of fact, representative democracy has never felt quite at home in Switzerland; there has always been an effort to revert to simpler, more straightforward methods; to reduce the distance which separates the people from the exercise of their sovereignty; and to constitute them into a court of final appeal.

In view of the marvellous stability which the pure democracy of Switzerland has displayed, there is something comical in the horror of all forms of direct government expressed179 by most constitutional writers. De Tocqueville, whom we honor for his appreciation of our own Constitution, declares “that they all tend to render the government of the people irregular in its action, precipitate in its resolutions, and tyrannical in its acts.” Mr. George Grote also condemns the referendum, and of course one cannot expect pure democracy to be praised by Sir Henry Maine, who believes that “the progress of mankind has hitherto been effected by the rise and fall of aristocracies.” On the other hand it is refreshing to hear Mr. Freeman and Mr. Dicey actually discussing the practicability of introducing the referendum into the English political system.

After all, is not this very quality of directness a great recommendation, when we consider the rubbish which at present clogs the wheels of our political machinery, the complications which confuse the voter and hide the real issues from his comprehension? The very epithets pure and direct satisfy at once our best aspirations and our common sense. If monarchy is the government of one, oligarchy that of a few, and democracy that of many, surely there will some day arise the rule of all. The United States seems to be standing at the parting of two ways, one of which leads back in a vicious circle to plutocracy and despotism, while the other advances towards a genuine pure democracy. No nation can stand still. Which way shall it be?180



Dr. Whewell observed that the acceptance of every new idea passed through three stages: 1. It is absurd; 2. It is contrary to the Bible; 3. We always believed it. Change the second stage to, It is unscientific, and the diagram may apply to socialism. We have certainly emerged from the period when it was considered a valid argument to call socialism somebody’s dream. It is now treated with a scientific earnestness which betrays its progress in general thought. This serious grappling with the subject is noted in the recent “Plea for Liberty,” by some of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s disciples, for which Mr. Spencer himself has written an elaborate introduction.

The same earnestness is felt in the masterly editorial, “Is Socialism Desirable?” in The Arena for May. This is a solid contribution to the permanent literature of the subject. It is not a surprise that it has commanded such wide attention. Its deep thoughtfulness, its strategic selection of only vital points for its attack, and, not the least, its kindliness and chivalry, mark it as a notable production. I truly appreciate the honor of being chosen by this knightly antagonist to face the attack on his own sands.

It is not without some question, however, that I accept the generous challenge. For I am not sure that I myself believe in the military type of socialism which the editor seems continually to have in mind. The book, which more than all others combined has brought socialism before American thought, has also furnished to its opponents a splendidly clear target in its military organization. It cannot be repeated too often, however, that the army type is not conceded by socialists to be an essential, even, of nationalistic socialism. Democratic socialism differs considerably from military socialism, and may be fully as national in its reach. In so far as Mr. Flower’s arguments apply to democratic181 socialism, the following paragraphs may be taken as a rejoinder.

To bring the chief counts of the editor’s indictment again clearly before the readers, it will be well to summarize them:—

(1) National socialism means governmentalism, which is tyranny over the individual.

(2) National socialism means paternalism, which, exercised by all the people, is the most hopeless kind of tyranny.

(3) National socialism means the arrest of progress, because the majority will surely tyrannize over the small “vanguard of human progress.”

(4) National socialism will be needless when the people are educated to the fraternalism which alone could temper the inevitable despotism of the majority.

There is a period in every agitation of a new idea when the most prosperous weapon against it is a thumping epithet. The name must be apt enough to stick. Furthermore, no matter how misleading, it must be suggestive of sinister things.

“Governmentalism” is such a word. In its etymology it is harmless enough. Governmental is the adjective of government, and means “exercising the powers of government.” Governmentalism, therefore, means the exercise of the powers of government considered as a principle. But the word when made the bogy of socialism is supposed to mean the principle of the exercise of the powers of government raised to the nth degree, and separated from the people. It suggests a shadowy somewhat of officialdom; a Corliss engine of functionaryism; all of which is thought of as apart from the people, yet pressing upon the people. In other words, the name “governmentalism,” while intended as a word of opprobrium for socialism, really indicates the amazing misconception which the critics have of the nation itself, and of the relation of the nation’s life to its self-direction.

The nation is not an aggregate of the Smiths, and Joneses, and Robinsons. It is a favorite formula with the opponents of the new school that the nation is but a multitude of individuals. So is a sand-heap. But in the nation the individual atoms are linked by mutual obligations. They are members one of another. No individual can claim isolation and independency. Let him make the most of his individuality;182 yet, as Aristotle said, “Man is a political animal;” his nature apart from the nation is incomplete; sundered from that to which he belongs he seems a freak.

The nation, then, is not an artificial binding of units; it is a natural relationship. The ideal nation is not entered as a result of reflection and choice. A man is born into the nation as into the family. To belong to the English nation when born an Englishman is not usually considered so “greatly to his credit,” except in the case of Mr. Gilbert’s naval hero. The very term “naturalize,” with which we denote the initiation of a foreigner, is a confession that the nation is not a social contract but a natural relation. It is this natural relation which makes the nation worth dying for; it is fatherland.

Still further, the nation is an organic being. The scattered atoms of a sand-heap are as perfect as before they were dislodged; not so an amputated arm. When the nation is disunited, the detached segment becomes a different kind of body. “The man without a country” begins to be another sort of man. The nation is not a mass of independent individuals, but of related individuals, who, moreover, are so closely related that they make together an indivisible organism; this organism develops according to orderly laws; this organism has perpetuity, never disjoining itself either from its past or future; and this organism has also self-consciousness and moral personality. This is the nation in which we live, and move, and have our being.

When we look this high conception of the nation squarely in the eye, much of the talk about governmentalism seems at once irrelevant. For government in America must ever mean the nation directing itself. Here are no hereditary governing machines; no bureaucracies created by a power apart from the people. In Europe, government is fastened on the people. But in America, if government is not of the people, by the people, and for the people, it is their own fault. The worst abuses of power in a government actually emanating from the people, do not put it beyond their reach. It is still the nation governing itself. It will one day become conscious of its strength, and will direct its efforts more wisely. But so long as it is the living, organic nation governing itself, no mere multiplication of functions, no straightforward increase of powers, are a discrowning of the people.183

Socialists believe in the fearless extension of government because they have a clear and high idea of the nation as an organic relationship, apart from which the individual cannot realize himself. As the nation becomes more self-conscious, it perceives more clearly its own responsibility for the development of each individual. The self-governing nation extends its governmental powers solely to give a better chance for development to the largest number of individuals. “All individualism,” says Mr. Flower, “would be surrendered to that mysterious thing called government.” But there is nothing mysterious in the expression the nation makes of its own will; and it is hard to discover what individualism is surrendered, except bumptiousness, when the rounded development of the greatest number of individuals is the nation’s motive for extending its governmental functions.

There is also another kind of reason for being undismayed at the threat of governmentalism. Nationalism is but the very distant consummation of local socialism.

I suppose it is not strange that the hostile critics occupy themselves almost entirely with this keystone of the arch, since that has given the name to the whole tendency. They delight to picture the superb riot of corruption if nationalists could have their way at once. They will never listen, they will never remember, while nationalists declare they would not have their way at once if they could. A catastrophe by which nationalistic socialism might be precipitated would be a deplorable disaster to human progress.

Socialism properly begins with the municipality; or more properly still, with the town-meeting. The Hon. Joseph Chamberlain is a practical State socialist; and he outlines in the North American Review for May how English cities are laying the foundation of more general socialism. The popular representative government of the municipality, he says, “unlike the imperial legislature, is very near to the poor, and can deal with details, and with special conditions. It is subject to the criticism and direct control both of those who find the money, and of those who are chiefly interested in its expenditure. In England, at any rate,” he continues, “it has been free from the suspicion of personal corruption, and has always been able to secure the services of the ablest and most disinterested members of the community.” The184 practical socialism of Birmingham, and other cities of Great Britain, enthusiastically supported by multitudes of citizens who do not call themselves socialists, is an example of the first numbers on the socialistic programme. The intellectual leaders of socialism are in no hurry. They have all the time there is. It may take years to persuade American cities that they are business corporations themselves, whose aim is the well-being of all the members. The extension of municipal control over all natural monopolies may be decades off. No matter; there is no use in being hot-headed because hearts are hot at the miseries of the poor. Municipalization ought to precede nationalization. The members of the community must learn to trust each other before the East and the West will trust one another. It must be proved in American cities, as it has been already in English cities, that the extension of municipal powers is itself a force to drive out corruption and purify politics, before the nation as a whole will deem it safe to make great enlargements of the civil service.

As that day approaches, it will be found that nationalism is a much simpler thing than it now seems. Nationalism does not begin in a paper constitution and work downwards. During the upheavals of the French Revolution Abbè Siéges is always coming forward with a new constitution. But in America institutions are rather an evolution. The last numbers on the social programme may safely be left blank. Nationalism is neither a city let down, of a sudden, four-square from heaven, nor are its working plans yet to be found in any architect’s office on earth. We certainly want no nationalism which is not an orderly development. We may agree with Mr. Spencer that the course of political evolution is full of surprises. It is quite possible that the nationalism which seems so full of menace as a military despotism may turn out to be but a simple federation of industrial and commercial interests which find they require a single head.

In other words, it seems to me, nationalism is only a prophecy. It is too distant to be certainly detailed. Present day accounts of it will one day be, as Horace Greeley said of something else, “mighty interesting reading.” We may be inspired by it as the end towards which present movements are tending. But each age solves its own problems; and the passage into that promised land is the issue185 for another generation. A nearer view alone can determine where the passage is, and whether the land is truly desirable. We may justly put some faith in the common sense, as well as in the political ingenuity of those who come after us. If military socialism, whatever it is, should ever be the issue, this American people can be trusted to vote against it if it is undesirable. Meantime, what our people must vote upon in the present year of grace, is whether great private corporations shall control legislatures and city councils, and charge their own unquestioned prices for such public necessities of life as light and transit. There is an issue between tyranny and liberty which is to the point. The future is in the hands of evolution.

Another opprobrious epithet is “paternalism.” This is the most familiar of the titles of reproach. It suggests an idea of government made pestiferous by old abuse. The most atrocious despotisms both of king and church have planted themselves in loco parentis. The welfare of the people has been the hoary excuse for the cruelest outrages of history. Mr. Flower goes a step further and avers that, with the good of the people for a pretext, tyranny has always been in exact proportion to power and authority.

Without stopping to query as to this last rather sweeping statement, it will be enough to check ourselves while the editor leaps to his induction; namely, that because the monarchical and ecclesiastical governments have tyrannized in proportion to their power, nothing less is to be expected if our Republic becomes affected with a greater sense of governmental responsibility for the welfare of her citizens. If our nation, it is claimed, allows this specious excuse to commit it to the doctrine of State interference, we are drifted into the despotic paternalisms of the old world.

But a paternalism must have a parent, a royal sire, or a priestly grandmother. In the antique paternalisms there is invariably this parental personality at the top; down beneath it are the puppet children. “My soldiers are my children,” says Napoleon; and he orders a charge for their benefit; an hour afterwards the dying address him as Sire as he walks over the field. “The German people are my children,” says Emperor William; and he issues the edict for the compulsory life-insurance of workingmen; an undoubted blessing. Both are instances of paternalism; and186 the principle in one case is as obnoxious as in the other. The principle of paternalism is an irresponsible authority above the people, mastering the people, with their welfare as a pretext.

But this essential of paternalism must be lacking in the republic. Whatever powers democracy may assume, it recognizes no authority outside itself. Democratic government, however socialistic it may become, is nothing but democracy expressing its own will. If the individual is led to surrender certain of his freedoms for the good of all, he surrenders to a paternalism of all the people. That were better called, once for all, a fraternalism.

It is not enough, however, to show that the title is in our case a grave misnomer. The editor adduces several recent instances which he considers exhibitions of the increasing tyranny of all the people. He believes the tyranny of all the people, if they are as selfish as they are now, would be more hopeless than the despotism of an individual; for the single tyrant is after all amenable to revolution, while the whole nation as a tyrant is accountable to nothing. To his view, indeed, the occurrences I am about to repeat prove the new tyrant is already created. They exhibit a “tyranny which shows that persecutions are only limited by the power vested in the State.”

Let us examine the data for this astonishing conclusion. My limits will not allow more than a bare reference to the incidents which are fully described in the May editorial.

Case I. is the incarceration in Tennessee of a Seventh-day Adventist for working on Sunday. Of this it may be remarked that had it happened two centuries ago it would have been symptomatic; to-day it is a curiosity.

Case II. is the arrest of a Christian Scientist in Iowa for practising contrary to the rules of the State. I presume this cannot be fairly disposed of by suggesting that there has been some aggravated occasion for such stringency. But it is certainly true that the State has the right to prevent malpractice—a right none of us would wish renounced. And as soon as there are sufficient data to convince an intelligent public opinion that the theory, with its perilous repudiation of all medical skill, is not fatal to human life, it will receive an ungrudged status.

Case III. is the arrest of a minister, of pure life and unquestioned187 standing, for sending obscene literature through the mail. The sole charge was the publication of an earnest and chastely worded article on marital purity; but the real cause was supposed to be his severe criticism of the Society for the Prevention of Vice nearly a year afterward. If these facts are verifiable this is a monstrous outrage. But unhappily it is not the first instance where revenge has been taken on the innocent by due process of law. Without doubt the people ought to be more aroused by it than they are. Yet such a sporadic instance of miscarried justice is scarcely a reason why the State should cease its efforts to check by law the present alarming increase of lascivious printing.

Case IV. is an election bill in California which prohibits independent nominations except upon petition of five per cent. of the voters, and thus disfranchises four per cent. of the voting population. If this mad device proves anything, it proves that the leaders of the old parties are in such consternation at the uneasiness of the people that they have lost their heads. It proves no more than the denial of the right of petition in Congress during anti-slavery days; and it proves as much as that attempt to ignore the voice of reform. Earthquakes are not far off when such things happen.

Case V. is the suit for damages which one Powell brings against Pennsylvania. Under a statute authorizing the manufacture of oleomargarine, he had undertaken the business, to find himself ruined by a later legislature making its manufacture a misdemeanor. This is very noteworthy, for it proves too much. It shows a vested money interest controlling legislature and voting a rival business into outlawry. This is a kind of instance socialists like to get hold of.

Yet these instances are used to illustrate “a growing spirit of intolerance” in our country; they are said to exhibit a State tyranny which is already blossoming under paternalistic legislation; they emphasize, it is claimed, the fact,—“That all the majority wishes is the sanction of law to make its crimes against the minority assume a show of respectability. All that retards persecution is the limit of the sanction of law; and I submit that, in the light of history, and in the face of the wrongs of the present, all increase in governmental power menaces the liberty, the happiness, and the growth of the individual.”188

This is a pretty large indictment to hang on such debatable evidence. Its audaciousness fairly takes one’s breath away. Our heaviest battery is turned against ourselves. Every cherished dream of the good time coming goes up at a blast. Instead of freedom at last to do that for which we are made, and to fit into the niche where we belong, we are shown a State’s-prison. Instead of an age of joy and of elastic step, we are pointed to an iron rule of repression and cheerlessness. Instead of leisure to ripen, of a full summing of our powers, of the exhilaration of new truth, we have disclosed to us a stunted individuality treading a dull and monotonous round of existence. And all this, because if the people are trusted with more power they will tyrannize life down to this paralyzing reaction.

The logic of this bold pessimism is:—Human nature is tyrannical; the majority have always tyrannized in proportion to their power; increase their power and they will increase their tyranny. This is the syllogism which has dignified the foregoing collection of occurrences into grave symptoms of an increase of popular despotism.

It might be fair to meet dogmatic pessimism with dogmatic optimism. Or, it would be legitimate to follow the logic to its end in a general abandoning of all the powers of government which, it seems, has only hurt when it tried to help humanity; to go back honestly to Jefferson, and beyond him, to

The very best government of all,

That which governs not at all.

This is the pandemonium of anarchy. Mr. Flower believes that there is not enough of the golden rule in society to-day to make socialism tolerable. But we have only to imagine our present society, with its current quantity of golden rule, thrown into the chaos where government has ceased to govern, where the political majority has lost all its power, but where the majority of brute strength awakes to find itself with no laws to molest or make it afraid.

But this doctrine of the inevitable despotism of the political majority lies so at the bottom of the whole impeachment, that it ought to be carefully examined in itself.

In the first place, both premises are without support. Human nature, even in irresponsible multitudes, is not189 essentially tyrannical. Let us admit frankly all the degraded sweeps of intolerance in the past; yet has not human nature during recent generations been growing in the tolerant spirit? Look straight at the intelligent society around us; look within ourselves most of all, and let us ask if we see any such intolerance of spirit as would bloom into tyranny if we only had the chance. A man may prove to me by inductive data, reaching uninterruptedly over ten thousand years, that my own nature is intolerant; he may even corroborate his proof by pointing to my occasional acts of thoughtless disregard for another’s opinion, yet all this array does not overwhelm me, for I know I am not intolerant. Our society to-day, as a whole, knows it is not intolerant;—even though it be proved as conclusively as ever Puritan divine proved God’s hatred for man, and man’s incapacity for a single good act. The logic works well; only there are some omitted factors. Human nature has made some progress. Hospitality to new ideas, and patience with divergent ones, are two of the surest fruits of later civilization.

Again, the majority have not always tyrannized in proportion to their power. They did not, in the Dutch Republic, when William of Orange followed the hideous persecutions of Phillip II. with the establishment of religious liberty. The Church of England was in the majority when it abandoned its acts of tyranny. Congregationalism was still in the ascendancy when it ceased to banish Baptists and to whip Quakers. The Rhode Island Baptists had plenty of majority when they pioneered the empire of religious freedom in America. And the Maryland Roman Catholics had things their own way, when in an age of persecution they resolved to be hospitable to other beliefs. Indeed, in our American life especially, the generosity and long-suffering of majorities are among the most notable features. On the other hand it may with truth be said that the worst tyrannies have been on the part of minorities. In the old world the oppressive minorities have usually been hereditary or ecclesiastical interests. In our country the ruling minorities have been determined, and self-assertive classes who would not brook the wisdom or the sense of justice of the majority. It was the regnant minority which rushed the South into secession. It was that same minority which had for half a century before over-ridden the whole nation. It190 was the Tammany minority which ruled the Democracy. It is the minority of syndicates, corporations, and vested interests which crowned itself in our Billion Congress, and is spreading itself in our legislatures. Are the very occurrences, of which so much has been made exhibitions, of the tyranny of all the people; or, are they not rather, with one exception, instances where a graceless minority has resolved either slyly or boldly to ignore the people? In short, the charge in the phrase “tyranny of the majority” has but the least justification in the course of government. There has been in history no power which has tyrannized less than the political majority. In modern times, at least, the most violent acts of despotic outrage have been the attempts to ride down the will of the political majority. “In the light of history, and in the face of the wrongs of the present,” to use the editor’s words, it might be well to consider some means for the protection of majorities.

For after all, in spite of the English sneers at government by count of noses, from Carlyle and Sir Henry Maine to the latest utterances, there is nothing so safe for humanity’s interests as the political majority. It is perfectly true that “the vanguard of human progress must ever be in the minority.” But the hope of this minority lies in one day becoming the majority. As Disraeli said, that is the minority’s business. The minorities of hereditary privilege, of priesthood, of monied classes, can perpetuate themselves and their power. But the majority of voters is always changing and always losing its power. The minority of radicals is always becoming the majority of conservatives,—the steadfast power to which progress has tied itself.

Is socialism necessary to the progress of the race? Will not a perfected fraternalism make the strong hand of socialism needless? Both questions are to be answered, yes. The perfect state is undoubtedly pictured in Rousseau’s ideal, where every man remains perfectly free, so that when he obeys the State he obeys only himself. This is the deep and eternal truth of the law of brotherhood, which is also the law of liberty. Love is the fulfilling of all law; no laws will be needed when love is the protection of the weak. Belief in that coming government of Love is the real religion.

But the practical politics of the present deal with a society191 where a strong arm is needed to protect the weak from the tyranny of the giants. To talk about the principles of brotherhood fully prevailing in our present conditions, is to treat the laws of Christ with flippancy. Nine-tenths of the maxims of our modern business system contradict the law of love. In our present environment it is impossible for business people or working people to obey the Sermon on the Mount and not starve. Perhaps a few sacrifices of this kind are needed to teach us how abhorrent the present selfish system is to the Christianity of Christ. “I suppose I ought to be thankful to get the work at all, for they told other women they had no work left for them,” said a woman to me who was making men’s pantaloons for two dollars a dozen. She was part of the system; she was competing with other less fortunate women as truly as her employer with other firms; she drank her tea at the expense of her less lucky sister, who had no work and no tea. What chance does this system afford for perfect fraternalism, or even for decent fraternalism, among those who have to compete?

Socialism aims to produce an environment where not only the Golden Rule but the Law of Love will have a living chance. As such an agent it has its proper political place in the development of mankind.192




If we agree that all men are born free and equal, with certain inalienable rights,—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,—let us legislate to enforce our belief. All men are not born equal, if one is born with power to live without toil; power to control the movements of a hundred thousand of his unequal fellow-citizens; power to bribe legislatures; power to hire a pretorian guard of laborers, writers, editors, clergymen, and even soldiers or police to do his bidding and to sing his praise, and to threaten those who wish to establish a real republic. It was thought we had abolished hereditary inequality; but in a land where our democratic lords can each hire fifty thousand men and equip an army if need be,—where a democratic American lord can buy a dozen of the puny lords of Europe,—the social equality dreamed of in ‘76 does not exist. We have abolished the useless title but not the lord.

We should not object to that inequality which is natural—to the superior ability and superior virtue which place one man far above his fellows; but we should object to an immense inequality, which is not natural, and which sometimes places the superior man at the mercy and in the service of one who has no ability whatever,—who is simply born to rule by means of hereditary wealth. This is just as great a social inequality as that which Jefferson saw in Europe, and which he thought was to be excluded from America.

It is a condition that is demoralizing in a hundred ways, and is fraught with peril to the republic, peril to society, and peril to all the interests of humanity; and therefore as I would assert,—and who would deny the supreme right193 and power of the people to protect the republic from any impending calamity by any just means, but not by any unjust means—I would claim that it is our right and duty to say that this grand hereditary inequality shall not be perpetual, and that the past shall not rule the present—the graveyard shall not contain our legislature,—but that each generation shall be a law unto itself, and shall establish the conditions of justice and safety without regard to the follies of the dead and the ancient laws of inheritance when they conflict with justice.

Justice and safety to the republic demand that men shall not be born as rulers, nor born as serfs. The serf is the person who is born in poverty, with no right to a standing place, and whom society has left to the education of the street or of the coal mine, growing up without knowledge, without industrial skill—knowing nothing but to sell unskilled labor in a market crowded by a million others like himself or herself, and thus forced into that wretched life seen in all the great cities of America and Europe, the description of which is enough to make us cry out in despair, How long, O Lord, how long? Wherein does this white slavery differ from African slavery, except that the master cares nothing for the slave, is not bound by self-interest to take care of him, and cannot flog him though he can punish him in other ways, and on shipboard he can flog him also, and the horrors of nautical brutality have not even produced a society for its abolition?

Such is the serf, which our democracy allows its citizens to become,—men to whom the right of suffrage sometimes seems a worthless rag which they would gladly sell,—men on whose weak shoulders the republic cannot stand.

To abolish that class, every boy and girl should be guaranteed a solid intellectual and industrial education, making a permanent guarantee against pauperism and serfdom, a permanent guarantee that women shall not be enslaved by lust, but shall be enabled to rear an offspring of manly citizens. These are the most important things that a true nationalism should accomplish at present, and mainly by the gospel of industrial education, which the writer has long been urging with all his power.

Public sentiment has advanced so far on this question, that there will be very little opposition to abolishing the194 serf by industrial education; out with all our industrial education, our disorganized competition makes employment terribly uncertain, and impoverishes the industrious by enforced idleness, because there is no science, no social system to regulate the demand and supply of labor in different pursuits.

Hence, until we can do better, there must be at all times a vast number of idle men walking about in search of work, losing all their savings in times of enforced idleness, their days of gloom and despair.

They are our brothers, and we cannot say with Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are our brothers’ keepers, for they are partners in this republic, and brothers in the family of God, and they help to make the social atmosphere in which we live, and they help the republic to sink or swim. We simply cannot afford to deny our brotherhood, and if we do we are the devil’s own fools.

Action on this matter is demanded now as it never was before, for we are advancing blindly to a crisis which our political economists and statesmen have not foreseen, and do not yet recognize. The genius that increases by invention the productive power of labor ought to increase the rewards of labor, but it does not. Labor is demanded only to supply what is consumed; and if at present a million laborers are employed to produce the food, clothing, fuel, furniture, and houses required, but in a few years invention enables half a million to produce the same, what is to become of the half million no longer needed? Will wages advance so that the million may still be employed, working for half a day instead of a day. That would be just, but instead, it produces a glut in the labor market, which by competition puts down wages, and starts a fierce contest between laborers and employers, and among laborers themselves. The fall in prices produced by competition in a crowded market makes the employer unwilling to advance wages, and an angry contest is inevitable. The multitude dislodged by invention is increased by the inevitable multitude arising from irregular demand and supply in fluctuating markets, and thus families by the hundred thousand are driven to the verge of immediate starvation, and this becomes our chronic condition, which must be rectified,—a chronic condition which bears most heavily on woman, and through her debases future generations.195

We are bound to see that every honest citizen, male or female, has a fair chance in the battle of life, has a fair preparation at the start, and a fair field. To insure this,—to insure that the productive power of the nation is not wasted,—is a larger question than our statesmen have ever yet considered. It requires that the government shall have a Department of Productive Labor, in which honest men and women, when jostled out of their industrial positions, may enlist.[2] This department should be managed by the ablest and most benevolent business men of the Peter Cooper class, who understand all productive industries, and who, seeing what is permanently and largely needed for human consumption and not abundantly supplied, or what new industries can be started which will benefit the nation, what new productions can be acclimatized, shall take charge of all the laborers who wish to enlist in governmental employ for eight hours a day, with such pay and rations as will be satisfactory and fair; and if rightly managed, not only will their labor pay all costs of the department, but it may be made to teach the country great industrial lessons in agriculture and manufactures, by improvements which scientific combined labor on a large scale may introduce; and if we are anxious to make our country independent in all things, and superior in manufactures, this is the very method in which it can be done, by the instruction in the national establishments, which may be the means of starting all manufactures that we need, far better than the protective tariff which forces an unnatural growth at an enormous cost to the people.

There will then be no tramps, no paupers, no women compelled to sell their persons; and as poverty, gloom, and hardship are the chief sources of intemperance, we may anticipate, as another consequence, an immense diminution of the liquor traffic, when the Department of Productive Labor shall have gotten into full operation. Moral gloom and the bad passions impel men to intemperance, and when they acquire the happy and gentle temperament of woman they will also acquire her temperance.

Mr. Bellamy’s idea of the nation as the employer may not196 be practicable, but the Department of Productive Labor is an obvious method of initiating the principle of national co-operation, which an urgent necessity has compelled the British government to initiate in Ireland. But we cannot safely wait, like England, until famine is threatening.

The pauperization of labor depends on the monopoly of land combined with the monopoly of machinery. It cannot occur in a new country, but must develop when all the land is monopolized and worth a hundred dollars an acre. The independence of the laborer owing to cheap vacant land is more than restored by a Department of Productive Labor which establishes a minimum of wages below which they cannot be forced, and gives a standing ground on which exaction can be resisted permanently by the laborer.

The Department of Productive Labor may be made a charming feature of the government, on which philanthropists may expend their skill; and its beautiful plantations, especially in the highlands of the Carolinas and Georgia, and in California, may be looked to as a haven of repose by all who are disappointed in life, who may find in these rural homes something more attractive than the co-operative societies to which some are rushing now. The voice of the red flag anarchist will be quieted, and the agitators who endeavor to stir up dissension will find most of their grievances redressed when the laborer has an assured home.

There is no obstructive limit to the achievements of the army of labor. Aside from agriculture and manufactures, there are roads to be built, buildings to be erected, improvements of many kinds, and there are about a thousand million acres of arid land, needing irrigation, the necessary works for which could employ more than would probably apply, for the wages should not be such as to attract men from profitable employments. The army of labor may not at first be wisely managed, but anything is better than the vast national losses by enforced idleness. It is not extravagant to anticipate an ultimate governmental administration of railroads, mines, manufactures, and government farms that may employ many hundred thousands. There is no apparent hindrance to the extension of the Department of Productive Labor until it shall embrace all who desire the comfort and security it gives, while those who prefer the strife of competition can remain outside of the experiment, and thus the governmental197 and the individual systems be fairly tried in competition with each other. Thus far no formidable difficulty appears in abolishing pauperism, but we find a more difficult task when we propose the abolition of Plutocracy, by what may be called a REVOLUTIONARY MEASURE.

Having thus gotten rid of the increasing army of paupers and tramps, providing, as it seems, a sound basis for a republic, we have the other problem of getting rid of the growing aristocracy—the plutocratic princes, the syndicates and trusts, who constitute the other great danger,—of whom we may say we must either master them or they will master us by managing our senators, governors, and presidents. They have already swallowed some such legislatures as we have been able to elect, with such facility as to show that it will not be long before they can swallow the entire government, and when it has been swallowed it may not be as fortunate as Jonah in getting out again, for there is some very important legislation necessary to this republic which the plutocracy may be expected to resist with all its power, and when the conflict comes it will be a grand one.

They will probably combat with all their might the doctrine which must sometime be presented, that the nation must rule itself on democratic principles, and that the dead shall not rule the living by entail, mortmain, or will. When a child is born it must become a member of the republic on conditions compatible with the safety of that republic. It cannot be allowed to come in as the born master of a hundred thousand fellow-citizens equally competent to serve the republic. Our young citizens approach us from a generation that has passed away.

It sleeps in the graveyard, or it leads a better life in the better world. It has left vast masses of wealth, surrounded by wretched areas of desolate poverty. Was it wise or just to do so,—to ignore brotherhood of man, and to perpetuate all possible inequality? No, a thousand times no. There is not one, perhaps, of the millionnaire dwellers in the better world who does not regret and mourn his earthly selfishness, and who would not order a more just and generous distribution of his estate if his voice could be heard.

But we need not ask them. We know what is just and we will correct the mistakes of the departed. We know that this hoarding in families is unjust to the republic and198 unjust to the Brotherhood of Humanity,—an injury to all, a benefit to none. Therefore it must not be permitted.

Already the law is beginning to recognize this principle, which is destined to revolutionize all the world; but we are not the leaders in this democracy, because our plutocracy is too strong. Switzerland in its mountain homes carries the banner of democracy, and has gone farther than any other country in asserting the rights of the commonwealth over inherited wealth. New York has ordained a little infinitesimal inheritance tax which, according to the Herald, in 1886 produced $60,000, in 1887 $500,000, in 1888 over a million. That will be enough to build schoolhouses for the 20,000 children kept out of school in the city of New York for want of room. The proposition is under discussion in Massachusetts, and if we do our duty Massachusetts may set the example of the greatest social revolution ever accomplished by law. If Boston received the benefit of such a tax on its own population, it might be adjusted to raise from one million to more than ten millions a year; at any rate a succession tax might produce more than all other taxes produce at present, and it would bring about such radical changes that it would be expedient to make the change gradual, and gradual it must be, for it will meet determined opposition, and we must enforce our principle by every argument of justice and expediency, for it is both just and expedient. What right have the millionnaires to say how the world shall be managed after they have left it? What right to say that when they have established a dangerous inequality, posterity shall be compelled to make it perpetual. The robber barons established inequality by the sword, and by the same power made it perpetual. The posterity of kings and barons, however worthless, corrupt, criminal, or imbecile, continue to occupy the saddle upon the public donkey. But inherited royalty is going, and inherited aristocracy must also go. We who survive are the responsible parties, and (as the Romans charged their rulers in times of danger) we must see that the republic does not suffer, and that aristocracy shall not be its permanent master.

What right has the millionnaire to direct from the grave, that the wealth which he has left shall be used in the manner most dangerous and most injurious to society. He has no such right. He has no right in the matter, but what we199 in our justice or in our good-nature may give him. If these views are just, they must in time rule the world, but they are not yet asserted by those to whom the world looks for counsel.[3]

The sacred right of the living citizen in that which his industry has created, has no application here. It is a totally different case. It is the question what right has he to rule the world after he has enjoyed his full share and more, and gone away. We do not ask whether he got his wealth by fraud, or robbery, or industry. He has left it; he is done with it; he is dead in fact and ought to be dead in law! The law has no jurisdiction over him now, and he has no possible interest in what is done, nor any power to rectify his mistakes. To perpetuate his fictitious personality, and make the opinions which he has left in writing an authority like the acts of a living man, is a tremendous stretch of the imagination, much like the old superstitions which made a law by the preface “thus saith the Lord.”

I know the claim will be made that the wealth which the millionnaires could not carry away was truly theirs, and therefore that while they lived they had a right to dispose of it. But I deny it. In the highest sense of justice, it was not theirs, and even if it was, it was justly forfeited by their treason to humanity; for I hold that neither genius nor the business capacity that produces wealth ever releases a man from his obligations to society. In time of war to defend the city or State, we take every man’s property, so far as needed, and require him, in addition, to offer his life in battle to protect the community; and surely in the grand battle which every republic has to meet against its foes,—on the one hand oligarchy and despotism, and on the other social disorder and convulsions between capital and impoverished labor,—in this battle, I say, every man may be required to defend the republic with his money, his honor, and his life, if need be, and he should think himself very lightly released if society demands only to become his legatee, after he has provided for his family. He thus relinquishes what is nothing to him but everything to society.

Wealth is the product of the nation—of all its work of200 brain and muscle. No one man by himself ever accumulated wealth. But in the entangled social co-operation, struggle, and battle, wealth is scattered strangely and gathered in heaps like the money at a gaming table. One man seizes a gold mine, another seizes for a trifle a piece of parchment giving the title to land where a million are going to settle, and both become millionnaire princes at the expense of the commonwealth. There would be very few rich men if the real production of each was all that he could hold. To seize by a legal fiction a mine that yields a million annually is simply a robbery of the commonwealth. The robbery of the commonwealth and the toiler is our chronic condition. The urban population, strong in capital and skilful in combination and chicanery, has drained the agricultural regions, until agriculture,[4] toil, and poverty, are closely associated, while201 urban wealth displays its ostentatious ease, and farmers are driven by the million into a desperate political struggle for self-protection.

The great mass of accumulated wealth was all unearned. It was the donation of absurd law to monopolists,—to men who procured the titles to lands. Their value came from the entire community, created by the people, and when that amount is rescued from landlordism, the millions vanish and society reclaims its own. Thus do I assert the ownership of the community in millionnaire hoards. And when the tenant for life has gone, to whom the law has been by far too generous, and left his hoards, out of which he has already squandered more than he was entitled to—the commonwealth from which this wealth was gathered may rightly step in and reclaim it.

It is but a waif on the ocean of commerce—the jetsam and flotsam, of which the law must direct the disposal. The heirs, as they have been called, may come in to the wreck that lies on the shores of time, after the soul has gone to eternity—but law must decide whether these wreckers are entitled to the cargo,—to goods which they did not produce, and whether it is safe and patriotic to allow them to carry off what is substantially in the majority of cases morally and justly the property of the commonwealth. There may be some exceptions to these general statements as to property, but when we recollect how land monopoly and other monopolies have robbed the commonwealth, I hold that the commonwealth is bound to reclaim the stolen wealth wherever it can find it, and certainly wherever the commonwealth can find it abandoned by the claimant, the action of trover should come in when the tenant for life has ceased to exist.

Perhaps the devotees of precedent may be bold enough to call this robbery, but it is simply reclamation of that which has too long been lost or stolen. For the chief foundations of large fortunes, the chief source of the great flood of accumulated wealth, has been the taxation of the people by the monopoly of land and monopoly of mines—the monopoly202 by private individuals of what justly belonged to the commonwealth, but was captured by the sword or by law—aided by cunning financial operations which stand on no higher plane than gambling or fraud.

The British peerage draw an annual rental from their lands of $66,000,000, and the American princes draw far more, but I have not had time to find the statistics.[5] It will not be long before foreign landlords shall draw $50,000,000 annually from the United States, if they do not already, for they hold more than 20,000,000 acres, and on these they may practise the eviction of tenants in the Irish fashion. The wrongs of Irish tenants elicit universal sympathy, but they are far surpassed now in America without outcry or comment. About twenty-four thousand evictions occurred last year in the city of New York, and this indicated more than a hundred thousand human beings turned homeless into the streets, generally in a penniless condition! The distressing evictions of the great cities, and the selling out of thousands of western farmers under foreclosing mortgages, are preparing a terrible mass of discontented population to whom a social convulsion would not be alarming. Those who live under the pressure of a terrible social system will not be sorry if it is overthrown by violence.

A large portion of the city of New York is held at values ($50 a foot) which would make its annual ground rental over $100,000 a year for a single acre. When we think of the vast sums which have been accumulating for centuries in the form of rent—say, for example, the land rents of England, which, outside of mines, amount to $330,000,000 a year,—it will be apparent that the grand flood-tide of wealth, which has passed into the possession of private individuals who have been fortunate enough to acquire land titles long ago, and their successors, exceeds by more than a hundred times all the wealth that has not been squandered and remains in sight to-day.

But it is gone—squandered—and we never can reclaim it; and there is another mountain mass of wealth not quite expended yet, which came from corrupt financial monopoly, which has sometimes generated financial lords more rapidly than land monopoly. Upon questions of finance and political203 economy, our people have been as blind as they have upon the land question, and our entire financial legislation has been but a trap to catch the commonwealth and rob it, and the commonwealth has been caught, and robbed of far more than two thousand millions.[6]

The follies and crimes of the past cannot be readjusted—but its legacy of robbery to the present must submit to the arbitration of justice, and the demands of philanthropy. The millions exacted from the tenants of England and Ireland by the descendants of the robber barons and brigand soldiers, who took the soil by the sword, still cry aloud for justice.

If we grant that an individual may by his own exertions justly acquire a hundred thousand dollars, which is an ample competence, and that as an encouragement and reward for his industry, society may justly allow him to dispose of it by will, which I think is a liberal concession, I see no sufficient reason for extending his authority beyond that amount. All above that amount, I hold, should belong to the commonwealth in justice, for two reasons—first, because it was taken from the commonwealth, and second, because the commonwealth suffers from two dangerous classes, which ought not to exist,[7]—the tramps becoming demoralized and desperate, and the idlers, becoming demoralized and worthless, who think themselves a privileged class, born with a right to live in everlasting idleness upon the toil of those who are not thus well born. This division into the aristocracy, the proletariat, and the middle class struggling to become the aristocracy, does not make a republic. It is an ancient falsehood and injustice established by absurd laws204 of inheritance (as absurd as the Hindoo castes), which have cursed the world, and will continue to curse it until America shall establish democratic justice. Yet as experience shows that men’s opinions in all things are swayed by their interests, there must be but few of the patrician class who can perceive these truths, and we must rely for their appreciation upon the vast majority who are not born to wealth.

What policy the commonwealth may observe,—whether it shall allow the millionnaire to dispose of ten, twenty, or fifty per cent. as an encouragement and reward for his accumulations,—is a debatable question. To give him post-mortem control of fifty per cent. would be, it seems to me, an act of prodigal generosity to millionnaire heirs. That a dead man of a hundred millions should be allowed to keep fifty millions hoarded in private possession appears to me an extravagant claim, for even ten per cent. of that amount would be enough to spoil his children and unfit them for good citizenship. I believe it would be better for society if all inheritance of wealth were forbidden, and every boy and girl required to begin life with a few hundred dollars, and gain the position they deserved by their own abilities alone.

This reclamation of millionnaire estates by the commonwealth would not be so necessary but for the fact that the world has been ruled by false principles, and in all past ages millionnaires have, with few exceptions, regarded their vast possessions as something on which the public had no claim in justice, as being the true sources of wealth—something on which the brotherhood of humanity had no claim—something which was not a sacred trust for the benefit of mankind—something which they should clutch with an iron grasp, as long as possible, to keep it intact and unbroken, and still speaking from the grave, hold it protected from all the claims of humanity, to magnify their own names in their descendants, and keep their offspring the lords dominant of society,—thus making it really a curse instead of a blessing; and as neither the moralists nor the clergy have ever taught them anything else, such is still their tendency, with a few such exceptions as Peter Cooper and George Peabody. But when society substitutes rational ethics and simple justice for old traditions and debasing customs, the destruction of wealth will be recognized as a crime, no matter how it was205 obtained; and such profligates as the Prince of Wales, who spends half a million yearly, and then calls upon his avaricious mother for one or two millions to silence the clamor of creditors whom he has defrauded, will be no longer feasted, admired, and imitated, for justice will be embodied in law and the race of profligates will have been exterminated.

If any owner of these hoards, when he is compelled to give them up, politely throws out five per cent. or even two per cent. for something that he considers worthy, it is received with great laudation as something not to have been expected. A Cleveland millionnaire was lauded for a petty donation, less than he had expended on his old wife’s laces. As philanthropists millionnaires are generally great failures. They did not study the public welfare through life, and they do not know how to promote it; their benefactions generally go to institutions that perpetuate the old order of mediæval conservatism, and delay the progress of humanity. They are incompetent as trustees. One man with the wealth of an Astor or a Rockefeller, and the overflowing love guided by the wisdom of intuition (so conspicuous in Jesus that men have worshipped him as a God, and elevated their own natures by the worship), could accomplish more than all that American wealth has ever done upon this continent.

Therefore by that right of eminent domain which is good over lands occupied by the living, and far better over estates abandoned by the dead, it becomes the duty of society to maintain the republic, to assert the supreme law of justice, and thereby teach the doctrine so long forgotten by followers of Christianity, that all our powers and resources beyond our own necessities belong to our brothers. Such are the principles of every real Christian. Such was the sentiment of John Wesley; and his expression, if I recollect rightly, was that he would consider himself a thief if he died with more than ten pounds in his possession.

These doctrines are not entirely strange—the world is beginning to look in this direction already. The heirship of the state is an idea already broached in France, sustained by Clemenceau, Pelletan, and many other distinguished citizens, and discussed in the Chamber of Deputies. The proposition was to limit the law of inheritance, and substitute the heirship of the state for all collateral heirs. That eminent and practical philanthropist, M. Godin, whose name has been206 immortalized by the Industrial Palace at Guise, warmly espoused this idea in all its breadth, and said:—

“When an individual dies, society has then the right to take to itself what he leaves, for it has been the chief aid of the deceased. Without its aid, without its institutions, he could never have been able to amass the riches of which he is at his death the holder. Society inherits wealth, then, to use for the same work of social progress already accomplished; that is to say to allow others, the surviving in general (not the privileged strangers to the creation of the existing riches), to continue their labor and co-operation in the common social work. The heredity of the State is then just, both in principle and in fact.”

The two measures which are necessary now are the Department of Productive Labor and the law of inheritance by the commonwealth, which limits the transmission of estates above a hundred thousand dollars, giving the commonwealth a share, rising from one to ninety-nine per cent. according to the magnitude of the estate—or some other form of taxation (if there be a better) producing equivalent results.

I do not propose these measures as THE REMEDY par excellence for our unhappy social condition. Not at all. They are merely the gigantic blows from the right arm of the commonwealth, by which the curses established in the dark and bloody past, crushing man and woman to the earth, shall be hurled into oblivion. The true, absolute, and complete REMEDY is that industrial, intellectual, hygienic, and ethical training of all, which I have published as the “New Education” which will make new men. These are bold and revolutionary measures,[8] but the surgery of the knife is sometimes what humanity demands. The mad riot of rivalry207 and selfishness must be restrained before it brings the republic to ruin. The power of land monopoly must be broken by a land tax, and the post-mortem despotism which perpetuates accumulated evils must be thrown off by just and practicable legislation.

We must act upon the undisguised truth that individual humanity is not yet properly educated, and not yet qualified to exercise its trusteeship of wealth, for the hard struggles against the oppressive power of poverty, sickness, robbery, fraud, and sudden calamity have made the self-protective faculties predominant, and the sharp rivalry and competition of business has so increased their predominance that the thought of public welfare is never paramount, and is but an occasional glimmer, and the death-bed surrender of wealth, if it considers the welfare of society at all, considers it so blindly that a large proportion of the benevolent endowments are of little real value.

It is, therefore, necessary that the outcry of suffering and the warning of danger should rouse the public conscience to nobler principles, and that society in its maximum wisdom, which embraces a few earnest philanthropists, many capable financiers and economists, very many tender-hearted women who will not consent to suffering, and who are destined to participate in government, as well as a great many who are personally conscious of wrongs that need rectifying, should assume the administration of the SUPERFLUOUS WEALTH abnormally accumulated.

The change proposed is so great that its realization may be far off, and the evolution of law may be rivalled by the evolution of evasive ingenuity, so that the commonwealth may be compelled to prohibit evasive ante-mortem donations, and to reinforce the succession tax by more stringent measures, from which there can be no escape, and which will control plutocracy as effectively as any succession tax, and thus render the latter of less importance; but it is none the less important that the principle should be asserted, that the dead shall not rule the living.

There are two obvious measures, and one of them is sure to be adopted soon, without waiting for the abolition of unlimited inheritance. The income tax is made almost necessary by the last Congress, which emptied the treasury, and the income tax, if made accumulative, increasing its rates with208 the increase of income, will be as effective a control over plutocracy as the people wish to make it. The increasing rate of taxation upon superfluous wealth, is a sacred principle for which every reformer should contend.

But even this is not fortified against evasion, and we need the most efficient tax of all—the progressively accumulating tax on wealth, which will gather a large rental from all the superfluous millions, compelling the holders to use them profitably. A three per cent. tax on all over ten millions would not only enrich the commonwealth, but stimulate industry in millionnaires. How long will the millionnaires be able to defeat such legislation?

These are the coming taxes. They are not untried theories, for Switzerland, the foremost nation in democracy, enjoys both the income tax and the progressively accumulating tax, which falls most heavily on the largest properties.

It is to be hoped that political corruption and intrigue will not delay many years this assertion of the sovereignty of the commonwealth by taxation, which will give the republic a solid foundation, and that the power of the commonwealth thus enlarged will, through the Department of Productive Labor, and by educational progress, give us a true and a happy republic. These suggestions are not farther in advance of public opinion to-day, than was the nationalization of the land, when I urged it in 1847. They will find fit champions in a few years.

To what extent the Department of Productive Labor should be fostered by every State, and to what extent it may be authorized by the federal constitution, we need not yet consider, for it is apparent that the due administration of the national domain and development of the arid region by irrigation, will furnish ample employment, if we adopt as a sacred principle, the demand of justice, that not another acre of the national domain shall ever be sold. Let us give settlers the easiest possible terms, but never surrender to monopoly the land of the commonwealth.209



Some months ago an article with the above heading appeared in The Arena. It was written by Rev. C. H. Kidder, and was intended as a reply to one written by myself, on the eternal punishment.

It appears that a friend of Mr. Kidder, a physician “of great ability,” on reading my article was caused great disquietude. “He felt that if all the statements contained in the article were accurate, his religious instructors had been either knaves or fools—knaves, if they taught what they did not believe, and fools, if they believed what they taught,” p. 101. I have only to say that the statements of my article are, in all important respects, accurate, explain the rest as he may; nor has Mr. Kidder shown that they are not accurate, except in one particular, not affecting the main question. This will be noticed in the proper place.

It is often true that men “of great ability” are men of hasty judgment, especially when they are “much disquieted”; and the doctor is certainly mistaken in supposing that his instructors were either knaves or fools. The men who teach eternal punishment are in the main honest, and of fair intelligence. The doctrine came into the church in a dark age; and for centuries it was dangerous to believe or teach anything else. When the human mind was set free, and it was no longer dangerous to teach what one believed, the doctrine had become so firmly established by a false system of interpretation, that it was a long time before much impression could be made toward its removal. But the Gospel leaven has been working in all these ages since the reformation to the present century; so that now there is little faith of that kind in the Orthodox church and none out of it.

I have not intended to admit that all the teachers of eternal punishment in the church have been honest. Some have been dishonest, in order, as they claimed, to do the more good. There was a class of ministers in the ancient church who210 had two sets of opinions, one set for the congregation, and another for the private circle. Dr. Edward Beecher mentions several venerable men, who preached eternal misery, but who had not a particle of faith in the doctrine, as he believes. They are Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzus, Athanasius, and Basil the Great. See Historical Retribution, p. 273. These were great men; but a greater than these had taught that it is right to lie for the good of mankind, namely, Plato. Who will say there have been no others since that day? For the honor of humanity, I trust not many.

I would say here that all Mr. Kidder has advanced, may be admitted, without the least detriment to the main purpose of my article. The greater part of his paper is devoted to incidental topics that are not essential to the main subject, and what he says on the main point utterly fails to invalidate my argument, as the reader will clearly perceive before I get through.

So far as our version favors eternal punishment, the fact is due chiefly to a wrong translation; and it is difficult to suppress the conviction that the translators, in much of their work of this kind, were perfectly conscious of the wrong they were doing. The word hell in every place where it is found (with one or two exceptions, where the heathen hell is referred to) is the rendering of a word that has no such meaning. The word everlasting combines a wrong rendering and a wrong exegesis. These are the main points. They are the Jachin and Boaz of the orthodox temple. But the translators have sought to favor their doctrines in other ways; sometimes by supplying words not found in the text, and sometimes by rejecting words that are there.

My article was devoted chiefly to these last, particularly a wrong use of the Greek article, and the rejection of an important word, when it conflicted with their views, though they often employ it at other times.

I say with the fullest confidence that the doctrine of eternal punishment is not in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. It came into the church chiefly with converts who had believed it before their conversion, and continued to believe it by a misconstruction of the Scriptures.


By not paying particular attention to what I said, my critic has misrepresented me in an important particular; and211 has repeated the idea a number of times, namely, that I deny the sonship of Jesus Christ. I simply refer to some passages to show the importance of the Greek article, and some of these have the expression, “the Son of God,” when they ought to have been rendered “a Son of God,” or “a Son of a God” not only because the article is omitted in the Greek, but it is the language of Satan, and of the heathen, and therefore more characteristic than the words the Son of God. The sonship of our Lord has evidence enough, without that of Satan and the heathen, especially as the evangelists have represented them as giving no such testimony.

The reference in my article to insanity and suicide was incidental; and whether strictly correct or not, the thousand that have been ruined in this way is a picture sufficiently frightful, and shows that the Christian religion has been greatly misapprehended; for in its purity, it never has, and never can, produce a single case of either insanity or suicide.


Of the six theological seminaries, which I referred to, on the authority of Dr. Edward Beecher, as existing in the early days of the church, I find on further reading that two were not theological seminaries, but “schools of thought,” as the doctor afterwards calls them. One of these was in Asia Minor; and there, the annihilation of the wicked was believed and taught. The other was in North Africa; and here, endless punishment was the prevailing belief on the subject of future destiny. The four others were real seminaries, in which the doctrine of the final holiness and happiness of all intelligent beings, after future disciplinary punishment, was inculcated by men as much distinguished for piety and virtue and missionary zeal, as any in the whole church.

The four schools were located at Alexandria, in Egypt, Cesarea in Palestine, Antioch in Syria, and Edessa or Nisibis. This last school was held at the one or the other of these places, in Eastern Syria. When persecution drove it out of one of these cities, it held its sessions in the other. All these four schools were numerously attended, often having hundreds of scholars at one time. Mr. Kidder thinks there must have been more than this number; but as it is a mere conjecture with him, his opinion can have but little weight against the statement of a man who has thoroughly investigated the subject. It will not do to judge them after our212 little schools, at the present day, when the church is divided into scores of little communities, each having its insignificant seminary or seminaries. The church was then one body, though each school varied slightly from the rest.


Dr. Beecher points out and refutes the statements of Professor Shedd, and some others, on the prevalence of certain doctrines in the early church.

Professor Shedd, in his history of Christian doctrine, Vol. II. p. 414, says, “The punishment inflicted upon the lost was regarded by the fathers of the ancient church, with very few exceptions, as endless.” “The only exception to the belief in the eternity of future punishment, in the ancient church, appears in the Alexandrian school.” “The views of Origen concerning future retribution were almost wholly confined to their schools.”

Dr. Beecher makes the following reply. “This statement somewhat transcends the limits set by Lecky, to the doctrine of the restoration. It is not confined to two individuals, but it is confined to one school,—the school of Alexandria. What then shall be said of Diodore, of Tarsus, not of the school of Alexandria, the eminent teacher of Chrysostom, and a decided advocate of universal restoration? What shall be said of his disciple, Theodore of Mopsuestia, that earnest defender of the same doctrine, of whom Dorner says that he was the climax and crown of the school of Antioch? What shall be said of the great Eastern school of Edessa and Nisibis, in which the scriptural exposition of Theodore of Mopsuestia, was a supreme authority and text-book? Was Theodore of the school of Alexandria? Not at all. He was of the school of Antioch…. And yet he not only taught the doctrine of universal restoration on his own basis, but even introduced it into the liturgy of the Nestorian Church, in Eastern Asia. What, too, shall we say of the two great theological schools, in which he had a place of such honor and influence?… Dr. Shedd would have called to mind a statement in Guericke’s Church History, as translated by himself, “It is noticeable that the exegetico-grammatical school of Antioch, as well as the allegorizing Alexandrian, adopted and maintained the doctrine of restoration, p. 349, note 1.” Then it should be added that Origen was not the only one of the Alexandrian school, who213 taught this doctrine. Clemens, who preceded Origen, taught it; and Didymus who succeeded him. The whole period of the presidency of these men over the school must have been a century or more. And yet the great body of Christians, as Professor Shedd would have us believe, were believers in eternal punishment; but they neither turned these men out, nor established any other school to counteract their influence. They must have been a trifle different from believers in the doctrine now. And what is very remarkable, we hear of no books or essays written against the doctrine of the Alexandrian school, as if it were a pernicious heresy.

Church historians in modern times impose on their readers by quoting passages from ancient Christian writers, that employ the word everlasting in connection with punishment, leaving the impression that these words were understood then as they are now, when in fact believers in limited punishment, as well as those who thought punishment endless, employed the term everlasting (aiōnios) to denote its duration. Origen and Clemens speak of everlasting punishment, though they believed it would end in reformation and salvation. Justin Martyr and Irenæus warn men of everlasting punishment, though they believed in the annihilation of the wicked.


In some instances the resurrection is used in the same way as the new birth, to denote conversion. Such is John v. 21-29. The change thus indicated is commonly called a moral resurrection. My critic would have the last two verses refer to the general resurrection at the end of the world; while he seems to admit that all the rest relates to a moral resurrection, two things as unlike as they possibly could be. Such is not our Lord’s mode of teaching. I understand the whole passage as confined to one subject, the moral resurrection. He divides the subject into two parts, to be sure, but it is the same subject in both parts—first, the moral resurrection then in progress; and second, the moral resurrection “coming” on a more extensive scale, even embracing all men. Jesus changes one word only, using graves,—more properly tombs,—instead of death. But coming out of death into life, and coming out of the tombs into life, are essentially the same thing. Both are figurative expressions. I insist that where Jesus says, “The hour is coming and now is,” he214 conveys the impression that the then present process was in its nature the same as the coming one, only that the latter would be more extended, even universal.


That Trinitarians should translate this expression, The Word was God, in John i. 1, might be expected; but by the rules of translating the Greek language into English, the expression should be, The Word was a god. The rule of Middleton that the article must not be used in the predicate of a sentence may hold good, when it conflicts with no superior rule; but if taken absolutely, it has many exceptions. I suppose the renowned Origen understood the Greek language. He interprets the passage before us as I do. “Origen uses θεὁς [Greek: theos] (god), not in our modern sense, as a proper name, but as a common name. This use of the term, which was common to him with his contemporaries, and continued to be common after his time, is illustrated by his remarks on the passage, ‘and the Logos was God’; in which he contended, that the Logos was god, in an inferior sense;—not as we would say God, but a god, not the divine being, but a divine being. (Opp. iv. p. 48, reqq.).” See Norton’s Statement of Reasons, p. 120, note.

The quotation from the Athanasian creed had better been omitted; for many will read it, who had not before known that it contained any such absurdity; and will have less respect for the Trinity than they would wish to have. The quotation is, “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet they (?) are not three Gods, but one God.” I am accused of following an “uncritical principle,” in not reasoning in the same way. If it is “uncritical,” I plead guilty, and beg that my sentence may be as mild as possible. But before the sentence is pronounced may it not be well to apply the reasoning to some other subject,—to Peter, James, and John, for instance? Each of these is a man; but they are not three men but one man!


I complained that the translators and revisors left out this word, apparently for the reason that it conflicts with their theology. It makes certain things to be near at hand, which they regarded as far in the future. My critic says, “The Greek mellō frequently has the meaning assigned to it by Dr. Manley, but it is not shut up to that meaning,” p. 106. It215 probably has that meaning twenty times, where it has any other meaning once. In the passages from which it is excluded, if it has any other meaning, why did they not retain it, and render it according to its true import, and not throw it out? Mr. Kidder does not meet the case, when he shows that the word does sometimes have another meaning. His business is to show that it has no meaning, in the passages from which it is excluded. It will then be in order to show why the writers put such a word in these passages. When the translators recognize the word, they seldom fail to give it a meaning corresponding to the sense I assign to it.

It is conceded that the wrath to come (Matt. iii. 7; Luke iii. 7.), should probably be the wrath about to come, meaning the destruction soon to fall on the Jewish State. This word mellō (about) takes the passage out of the hands of those who would apply it to a far-off eternal punishment. The word in other passages would have been alike opposed to the common construction; and, therefore, it was left out. This is the plain common-sense view of the case; and I shall hold the translators and revisers guilty of a base fraud, till some good reason can be given for their conduct. This probably cannot be done.

Aiōn, aiōnios. That the expression, “end of the world,” where the original for world is aiōn, ever has the meaning of end of this material universe cannot be proved. Where Jesus promises to be with his disciples to the end of the world (aiōn) is the most favorable instance. But in the sense here intended, namely, enabling them to perform miracles, he was with them, only to the end of the Jewish age. By that time the Gospel was so well established, as no longer to need miraculous interposition. In what sense Jesus was with the disciples, is explained by the closing words of Mark’s Gospel. “And they went forth, preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word, by the signs that followed. Amen.”

My critic says of aiōn, p. 107: “It may at times refer to the Jewish dispensation, with its limit fixed at the judgment executed upon the holy city, and the destruction of the temple.” Then it may mean this, in Matt. xiii. 38, 39, 49, and xxiv. 3. “It does not always mean age; for this meaning is inadequate for the worlds, aiōnos, of Heb. i. 2, xi. 3.” It does not seem so; for God created the ages and dispensations of time,216 as much as he did the material worlds. Constituted may be better than created. God is the author of both creations. Aion is a term that always implies time, or duration, and not material substance. De Quincey says that everything has its aion. The aiōn of an individual man is about seventy years. The aion of the human race would probably be some millions of years. It would follow from this reasoning that the aiōn of God would be eternal, past, and to come. De Quincey does not, I believe, carry his reasoning to this result; and I had never seen the argument stated before, as it is in the passages produced by Mr. K., from Aristotle and Plato. But the same reasoning that makes the aiōn of God eternal, makes every other limited. It would be illogical, and appear so at once, if one should argue, God is eternal; and, therefore, punishment is eternal.

The rule generally accepted for understanding aiōnios, is to modify the meaning according to the nature of the noun which it qualifies. If it denote duration, the amount of duration will depend on the noun qualified. This rule forbids that eternal punishment should be of as long duration as eternal life. Punishment is a means to an end, and in itself is undesirable. Life or happiness is an end; the longer continued the better; for it is desirable in itself. It is that which we seek by means of punishment. The less we have of punishment, the better. The more we have of life, the better.

My critic ought to have pondered the words of Dr. Taylor Lewis, before he entered on this discussion. His words are, “The preacher, in contending with the Universalist and the Restorationist, would commit an error, and it may be, suffer a failure in his argument, should he lay the whole stress of it on the etymological or historical significance of the words, aiōn, aiōnios, and attempt to prove that of themselves they necessarily carry the meaning of endless duration.” Lange’s Eccl. p. 48. Beecher’s “Retribution,” p. 154. Prof. Lewis says that aiōnios means pertaining to the age or world to come. The only fault this definition has, is the addition of the words to come. Jesus says, “These shall go away into the punishment of the age, and the righteous into the life of the age.” The age referred to, is the Christian age or dispensation, that has already come. It is the same as has all along been called, “the age to come,” or about to come. It was to follow the Jewish age, which was soon to end.217 Both together are referred to as “this age and that which is about to come.” But when the parable of the sheep and goats begins, the age is already come.

The form here given by Taylor Lewis is the same as Jesus himself used, if he spoke the Aramaic, as my critic says he did, and I agree with him. He did not say, “These shall go away into aiōnion punishment,” etc., which is the unwarranted Greek form. But his words are, “These shall go away into the punishment of the age (or pertaining to the age), and the righteous into the life of the age (or pertaining to the age).” It is the same form in the Peshito-Syriac version, made in the days of the Apostles. It is the same in the Hebrew New Testament, translated by the Bible society, to circulate among the modern Jews.

I have in my possession over a hundred passages, from classic Greek authors, in which aiōn is used in a limited sense, generally denoting human life, or the age of man. It is used, in a few instances, to denote an endless age, by attaching to it another word for endless. The adjective aiōnios is used very little by these authors, and not at all, I think, by the more ancient ones. No lexicon gives it the definition of eternal, till long after the time of Christ; and the remark is added, when thus defined, that it is so understood by the theologians.

But the principal help for understanding the Greek of the New Testament, is the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. The words we are discussing are found in that version not far from four hundred times, three fourths of them probably in a limited sense. The Hebrew form, “the statutes of the age,” are rendered into Greek, everlasting or aiōnion statutes; “the covenant of the age,” the aiōnion covenant, etc. These terms have sixteen different renderings. They are, everlasting, forever, forevermore, perpetual, ever, never (when joined with a negative particle), old, ancient, long, always, world, lasting, eternal, continuance, at any time, Elam. The last word stands for the Hebrew olam, the word answering to aiōn in the Greek. With these definitions in view (a number of them being limited terms), it would be folly to claim that this word has an unlimited meaning when applied to punishment. The punishment which God inflicts is limited. Heb. 12.

Great stress is placed on the circumstance, that in Matt.218 xxv. 46, the punishment and the life are spoken of near together, even in the same verse. Tertullian, and later Augustine, urged this fact as proof that both must be of the same duration. The late Albert Barns thought the argument sound. Of course, no large man ever rode a large horse, without being of the same size. Perhaps an illustration from Scripture will be more satisfactory. “And the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills did bow; his ways are everlasting.” Hab. iii. 6. For the last sentence, see the margin, Revised Edition. Are there to be no ways of God, after the mountains and hills are gone? Besides, this whole parable has its fulfilment, not in eternity, but in the Christian dispensation. It began to be fulfilled at the coming of Christ, when some were living, who had heard him, during his ministry, nearly forty years before. Matt. xvi. 27, 28. No fixed rewards and punishments are possible under the circumstances, for men are changing. The rendering “pertaining to the age,” has no objection of this kind. If it be claimed that a man, “once a Christian, always a Christian,” no one can doubt, that a man, not a Christian, may become one, and so change his condition—a proof that his condition is not eternal.

I will close this article by a few words on the apocalypse. The dramatic representation of Eichhorn is correct, save the added clause, “the eternal felicity of the future life described.” The holy city is not heaven; it came down from God out of heaven. It does not denote a final and fixed condition. It is four-square, and has three gates on each side; and all of them open continually, to admit those who wish to enter; and the invitation is sounded without ceasing, to the outsiders from within, to “come and partake of the waters of life freely.” Neither in the New Jerusalem, nor the lake of fire, is there any allusion to the eternal world of fixed and changeless conditions.

In those days, when books were not printed, but transcribed by the hand, it was customary for the author to make a strong appeal to the copyist or transcriber, not to make any alteration in the book, with certain penalties, fictitious or otherwise. Hence the Revelation closes with this admonition,—not to add to, nor take from, the book (xxii. 18, 19.), the penalty being sufficiently severe, to which I would commend the late revisers of the New Testament.219



In the discussion of the so-called “Negro Problem,” there is, as a rule, a great deal of the sentimental and still more of the sensational. By a series of non sequitur arguments the average disputant succeeds admirably in proving what is foreign to the subject. This is true of writers of both sections of our country—North as well as South—but especially true of those of the South.

The recent symposium of Southern writers in the Independent on the Negro Question, as interesting as it was for novelty and variety of view, is no exception to the rule. If the negro could be induced to believe for a moment that he was thus actually destitute of all the elements that go to make up a rational creature, his life would be miserable beyond endurance. But he has not reached that point nor does he care to reach it. Others may exclaim:—

“O wad some power the giftie gi’e us

To see oursel’s as ithers see us;”

but not the negro, if the vision must always be so distorted. The black man is naturally of a sanguine temperament, as has so often been said; and the facts in the case bear him out in entertaining a hopeful view of his own future and his ability to carve it out. I am sure that they do not warrant even our Southern friends in taking such a pessimistic view of the situation, so far as the negro himself is concerned. But facts are of little account nowadays. There is a tendency to ignore them and appeal to the prejudices and passions of men, and that, too, when it is well known that such methods of procedure prolong rather than settle the question at issue. This is the work of the alarmist—to keep things stirred up and always in an unsettled state.

I think it may be justly inferred that the average white220 man does not understand the black man, and that he is still an unknown quantity to many of the white people of the country, even to those who profess to know him best. Admitting this, then, it is but natural that much of their deliberation and many of their conclusions should be wide of the mark. The negro does not censure the white man for his conclusions as they are the logical consequence of his premises, but he does object to his premises. Our white friends make their mistake in seeming by all their movements to insist that there is but one standpoint from which to view this question, the white man’s; but there is another and the negro is viewing it from that side, not selfishly but in a friendly and brotherly spirit.

Senator George was right when he said that the solution of this question should be left to time, but wrong when he further added, “and to the sound judgment of the Southern people.” The recent disfranchisement of the negroes of his native State shows very plainly to the thoughtful citizen that the South is not yet capable of justly handling this question, notwithstanding that they are the people “who have the trouble before them every day.” This is Mississippi’s fatal mistake and one that places the State in the rear of her Southern sisters, and for the present, at least, lessens the value of any suggestion from that quarter.

It is well understood that the sentiment of the American people is that enough has been done for the negro; that the country is under no obligations to look further after his interest, and that he must act for himself. Survival of the fittest is now the watchword. There is no objection to this provided the blacks are allowed to do for themselves,—to survive as the fittest, if it be possible,—but this they are not allowed to do. They are certainly anxious to work out their own destiny. They are tired of sentiment and are therefore impatient. They desire to show to the world that they are not only misunderstood but misjudged. They are willing to unite with either North or South in the adjustment of present difficulties.

Unlike the Indians they are sincere—neither treacherous nor deceitful. They are simple, frank, and open-hearted, and are as desirous of good government as are the most honored citizens of the land. Let alone, they will give neither the State nor the nation any trouble. They feel themselves a221 part and parcel of the nation and as such have an interest in its prosperity as deep as those who are allowed to exercise, untrammelled, the rights of citizenship.

To keep the blacks submissive there is need of neither army nor navy. Though at the foot of the ladder they are contented to remain there, until by virtue of their own efforts they may rise to higher planes. The negro has never sought, does not now, nor will he seek to step beyond his limit. “Social equality,” “Negro domination,” and “Negro supremacy,” are meaningless terms to him so far as his own aspirations are concerned. The social side of this question will regulate itself. It has always done so, in all ages and all climes, despite coercion, despite law. This is the least of the negro’s cares. His demand for civil rights is no demand for “social equality.” This is a mistaken view of the subject. It is this dread of social equality, this fear of social contact with the negro that precludes many well-meaning people from securing accurate information in regard to the aims, and purposes, and capabilities of those whom they desire to help. But there is light ahead, dark as at times it now may seem, and erroneous as are the views in regard to the negro’s relation to the American body-politic.

Congressman Herbert, in his effort to show the negro’s incapacity for self-government by calling attention to the defalcations, embezzlements, and petty larcenies, etc., of reconstruction times, forgets that if this is to be taken as the gauge of capacity for self-government, the same rule will apply to bank and railroad wreckers of the present day,—to every defaulter and embezzler of State and private funds, and to every absconding clerk. Now we must remember that this class of citizens is enormously large, and that they are all white, as a rule. Every daily paper that one picks up devotes considerable space to this class of citizens who, according to Mr. Herbert, has shown its “incapacity for self-government,” as well as the incapacity of others “who alone have acquired such a capacity” as is claimed by Congressman Barnes. Queer logic is it not? The latter should say so, for it is he who claims that “the Anglo-Saxon is the only member of the human family who has yet shown evidence of a capacity for self-government.”

Again, it is said that the negro cannot attain high and rigid scholarship, and even those who have succeeded in222 becoming educated “if left to themselves would relapse into barbarism.” Now, I cannot believe that any such statement as this can be made with sincerity. In the light of the facts it is preposterous. Flipper, while at West Point, demonstrated beyond controversy the fallacy of such a position as the first; and there is hardly a college commencement in which some negro in some way does not continue to show its falsity by distinguishing himself by his extraordinary attainments. Even while I write, a letter lies before me from a young colored student, a graduate of Brown University, who is now taking a post-graduate course at the American School for Classical Studies, at Athens, Greece. From all reports, he is making an excellent record, and will present a thesis in March on “The Demes of Athens.” As to relapsing into barbarism, were the negro removed from white influence, the mere mention of the negro scholar, Dr. Edward Blyden, born on the island of St. Thomas, educated and reared in Africa away from the slightest social contact with people of Anglo-Saxon extraction, is sufficient proof that such a conclusion is not a correct one.

What a leading journal has said in regard to the Indians may be repeated here as applicable to the negro: “The most crying need in Indian [negro] affairs is its disentanglement from politics and political manipulations.”

Here is an opportunity for the Church, but the Church has shown itself wholly inadequate to meet the case, and because of its tendency to shirk its duty, may be said to be to blame for many of the troubles growing out of the presence of the negro on this continent. I have noted that there is more prejudice in the Church, as a rule, than there is in the State. If, as is asserted by some, neither Church nor State can settle this question, then there is nothing to be done but to leave it to time and the combined patience and forbearance of the American people,—black as well as white.223



Lucretia Burns had never been handsome, even in her days of early girlhood, and now she was middle aged, distorted with work and child-bearing, and looking faded and worn as one of the boulders that lay beside the pasture fence near where she sat milking a large white cow.

She had no shawl or hat and no shoes, for it was still muddy in the little yard, where the cattle stood patiently fighting the flies and mosquitoes swarming into their skins already wet with blood. The evening was oppressive with its heat, and a ring of just-seen thunder-heads gave premonitions of an approaching storm.

An observer seeing Lucretia Burns as she rose from the cow’s side, and taking her pails of foaming milk staggered toward the gate, would have been made weak with sympathetic pain. The two pails hung from her lean arms, her bare feet slipped on the filthy ground, her greasy and faded calico dress showed her tired, swollen ankles, and the mosquitoes swarmed mercilessly on her neck and bedded themselves in her colorless hair.

The children were quarrelling at the well and the sound of blows could be heard. Calves were querulously calling for their milk, and little turkeys lost in the tangle of grass were piping plaintively.

The sun just setting struck through a long, low rift like a boy peeping beneath the eaves of a huge roof. Its light brought out Lucretia’s face as she leaned her sallow forehead on the top bar of the gate and looked towards the west.

It was a pitifully worn, almost tragic face,—long, thin, sallow, hollow-eyed. The mouth had long since lost the power to shape itself into a kiss, and had a droop at the corners which seemed to announce a breaking down at any moment into a despairing wail. The collarless neck and sharp shoulders showed painfully.

She felt vaguely that the night was beautiful, the setting224 sun, the noise of frogs, the nocturnal insects beginning to pipe—all in some way called her girlhood back to her, though there was little in her girlhood to give her pleasure. Her large gray eyes (her only interesting feature) grew round, deep, and wistful as she saw the illimitable craggy clouds grow crimson, roll slowly up, and fire at the top. A childish scream recalled her.

“Oh my soul!” she half groaned, half swore, as she lifted her milk and hurried to the well. Arriving there, she cuffed the children right and left with all her remaining strength, saying in justification:—

“My soul! can’t you—you young ‘uns give me a minute’s peace? Land knows, I’m almost gone up—washin’ an’ milkin’ six cows, and tendin’ you and cookin’ f’r him, ought’o be enough f’r one day! Sadie, you let him drink now’r I’ll slap your head off, you hateful thing! Why can’t you behave, when you know I’m jest about dead.” She was weeping now, with nervous weakness. “Where’s y’r pa?” she asked after a moment, wiping her eyes with her apron.

One of the group, the one cuffed last, sniffled out, in rage and grief:—

“He’s in the cornfield,—where’d ye s’pose he was?”

“Good land! why don’t the man work all night? Sile, you put that dipper in that milk agin, an’ I’ll whack you till your head’ll swim! Sadie, le’ go Pet, an’ go ‘n get them turkeys out of the grass ‘fore it gits dark! Bob, you go tell y’r dad if he wants the rest o’ them cows milked, he’s got ‘o do it himself. I jest can’t, and what’s more I won’t,” she ended rebelliously.

Having strained the milk and fed the children, she took some skimmed milk from the cans and started to feed the calves bawling strenuously behind the barn. The eager and unruly brutes pushed and struggled to get into the pails all at once, and in consequence spilt nearly all of the milk on the ground. This was the last trial,—the woman fell down on the damp grass and moaned and sobbed like a crazed thing. The children stood around like little partridges, looking at her in silence, till at last the little one began to wail. Then the mother rose wearily to her feet, and walked slowly back towards the house.

She heard Burns threshing his team at the well, with the sound of oaths. He was tired, hungry, and ill-tempered, but225 she was too desperate to care. His poor, overworked team did not move quick enough for him, and his extra long turn in the corn had made him dangerous. His eyes gleamed from his dust-laid face.

“Supper ready?” he growled.

“Yes, two hours ago.”

“Well, I can’t help it! That devilish corn is getting too tall to plow again, and I’ve got ‘o go through it to-morrow or not at all. Cows milked?”

“Part of ‘em.”

“How many?”


“Hell! Which three?”

“Spot, and Brin, and Cherry.”

Of course! kept the three worst ones. I’ll be damned if I milk ‘m to-night. I don’t see why you play out jest the nights I need ye most—” here he kicked a child out of the way. “Git out ‘o that! Haint ye got no sense? I’ll learn ye—”

“Stop that, Sim Burns!” cried the woman, snatching up the child. “You’re a reg’lar ol’ hyeny,—that’s what you are—” she added defiantly, roused at last from her lethargy.

“You’re a—beauty, that’s what you are,” he said, pitilessly. “Keep your brats out f’um under my feet;” and he strode off to the barn after his team, leaving her with a fierce hate in her heart. She heard him yelling at his team in their stalls.

The children had had their supper so she took them to bed. She was unusually tender to them for she wanted to make up in some way for her harshness. The ferocity of her husband had shown up her own petulant temper hideously, and she sat and sobbed in the darkness a long time beside the cradle where the little Pet slept.

She heard Burns come growling in and tramp about,—the supper was on the table, he could wait on himself. There was an awful feeling at her heart as she sat there and the house grew quiet. She thought of suicide in a vague way; of somehow taking her children in her arms and sinking into a lake somewhere, where she would never more be troubled, where she could sleep forever, without toil or hunger.226

Then she thought of the little turkeys wandering in the grass, of the children sleeping at last, of the quiet, wonderful stars. Then she thought of the cows left unmilked, and listened to them stirring uneasily in the yard. She rose, at last, and stole forth. She could not rid herself of the thought that they would suffer. She knew what the dull ache in the full breasts of a mother was, and she could not let them stand at the bars all night moaning for relief.

The mosquitoes had gone, but the frogs and katy-dids still sang, while over in the west Venus shone. She was a long time milking the cows; her hands were so tired she had often to stop and rest them, while the tears fell unheeded into the pail. She saw and felt little of the external as she sat there. She thought of how sweet it seemed the first time Sim came to see her, of the many rides to town with him when he was an accepted lover, of the few things he had given her, a coral breastpin and a ring.

She felt no shame at her present miserable appearance, she was past that; she hardly felt as if the tall, strong girl, attractive with health and hope, could be the same soul as the woman who now sat in utter despair listening to the heavy breathing of the happy cows, grateful for the relief from their burden of milk.

She contrasted her lot with that of two or three women that she knew, not a very high standard, who “kept hired help,” and who had “fine houses of four or five rooms.” Even the neighbors were better off than she, for they didn’t have such quarrels. But she wasn’t to blame—Sim didn’t—then her mind changed to a vague resentment against “things;” everything seemed against her.

She rose at last and carried her second load of milk to the well, strained it, washed out the pails, and after bathing her tired feet in a tub that stood there, she put on a pair of horrible shoes without stockings, and crept stealthily into the house. Sim did not hear her as she slipped up the stairs to the little low, unfinished chamber beside her oldest children,—she could not bear to sleep near him that night,—she wanted a chance to sob herself to quiet.

As for Sim, he was a little disturbed but would as soon have cut off his head as acknowledge himself in the wrong, but he yelled as he went to bed, and found her still away:227

“Say, ol’ woman, aint ye comin’ to bed?” and upon receiving no answer he rolled his aching body into the creaking bed. “Do as ye damn please about it. If ye wan’ to sulk y’ can.” And in such wise the family grew quiet in sleep, while the moist, warm air pulsed with the ceaseless chime of the crickets.


When Sim Burns woke the next morning he felt a sharper twinge of remorse. It was not a broad or well-defined feeling, just a sense that he’d been unduly irritable, not that on the whole he was not in the right. Little Pet lay with the warm June sunshine filling his baby eyes, curiously content in striking at flies that buzzed around his little mouth.

The man thrust his dirty naked feet into his huge boots, and, without washing his face or combing his hair, went out to the barn to do his chores.

He was a type of the prairie farmer and his whole surrounding was typical. He had a quarter-section of fine level land, mortgaged, of course, but his house was a little box-like structure, costing, perhaps, five hundred dollars. It had three rooms and the ever-present “summer kitchen” attached to the back. It was unpainted and had no touch of beauty, a mere box.

His stable was built of slabs and banked and covered with straw. It looked like a den, was low and long, and had but one door in the end. The cow-yard held ten or fifteen cattle of various kinds, while a few calves were bawling from a pen near by. Behind the barn on the west and north was a fringe of willows forming a “wind-break.” A few broken and discouraged fruit trees standing here and there among the weeds formed the garden. In short, he was spoken of by his neighbors as “a hard-working cuss, and tollably well fixed.”

No grace had come or ever could come into his life. Back of him were generations of men like himself, whose main’ business had been to work hard, live miserably, and beget children to take their places after they died. He was a product.

His courtship had been delayed so long on account of poverty that it brought little of humanizing emotion into his228 life. He never mentioned it now, or if he did, it was only to sneer obscenely at it. He had long since ceased to kiss his wife or even speak kindly to her. There was no longer any sanctity to life or love. He chewed tobacco and toiled on from year to year without any very clearly defined idea of the future.

He was tall, dark, and strong, in a flat-chested, slouching sort of way, and had grown neglectful of even decency in his dress. He wore the American farmer’s customary outfit of rough brown pants, hickory shirt, and greasy white hat. It differed from his neighbors, mainly in being a little dirtier and more ragged. His grimy hands were broad and strong as the clutch of a bear, and he “was a turrible feller to turn off work,” as Council said. “I druther have Sim Burns work for me one day than some men three. He’s a linger.” He worked with unusual speed this morning, and ended by milking all the cows himself as a sort of savage penance for his misdeeds the previous evening, muttering in self-defence:—

“Seems ‘s if ever’ cussid thing piles on to me at once. That corn, the road-tax, and hayin’ comin’ on, and now she gits her back up—”

When he went back to the well he sloshed himself thoroughly in the horse-trough and went to the house. He found breakfast ready but his wife was not in sight. The older children were clamoring around the uninviting breakfast table, spread with cheap plates and with boiled potatoes and fried salt pork as the principal dish.

“Where’s y’r ma?” he asked, with a threatening note in his voice, as he sat down by the table.

“She’s in the bedroom.”

He rose and pushed open the door. The mother sat with the babe in her lap, looking out of the window down across the superb field of timothy, moving like a lake. She did not look round. She only grew rigid. Her thin neck throbbed with the pulsing of blood to her head.

“What’s got into you, now?” he said brutally; “don’t be a fool. Come out and eat breakfast with me, an’ take care o’ y’r young ones.”

She neither moved nor made a sound. With an oath he turned on his heel and went out to the table. Eating his breakfast in his usual wolfish fashion, he went out into the hot sun with his team and ridding plow, not a little disturbed229 by this new phase of his wife’s “cantankerousness.” He plowed steadily and sullenly all the forenoon, in the terrific heat and dust. The air was full of tempestuous threats, still and sultry, one of those days when work is a punishment. When he came in at noon he found things the same,—dinner on the table, but his wife out in the garden with the youngest child.

“I c’n stand it as long as she can,” he said to himself, in the hearing of the children. When he finished the field of corn it was after sundown, and he came up to the house, hot, dusty, his shirt wringing wet with sweat, and his neck aching with the work of looking down all day at the cornrows. His mood was still stern. The multitudinous lift, and stir, and sheen of the wide green field had been lost upon him.

“I wonder if she’s milked them cows,” he muttered to himself. He gave a sigh of relief to find she had. But she had done so not for his sake, but for the sake of the poor, patient, dumb brutes.

When he went to the bedroom after supper, he found that the cradle and his wife’s few little boxes and parcels—poor pathetic properties—had been removed to the garret which they called a chamber, and he knew he was to sleep alone again.

“She’ll git over it, I guess.” He was very tired but he didn’t feel quite comfortable enough to sleep. The air was oppressive. His shirt wet in places, and stiff with dust in other places, oppressed him more than usual, so he rose and removed it, getting a clean one out of a drawer. This was an unusual thing for him, for he usually slept in the same shirt which he wore in his day’s work, but it was Saturday night, and he felt justified in the extravagance.

In the meanwhile poor Lucretia was brooding over her life in a most dangerous fashion. All she had done and suffered for Simeon Burns came back to her till she wondered how she had endured it all. All day long in the midst of the glorious summer landscape she brooded.

“I hate him,” she thought with a fierce blazing up through the murk of her musing, “I hate t’ live. But they aint no hope. I’m tied down. I can’t leave the children, and I aint got no money. I couldn’t make a living out in the world. I aint never seen anything an’ don’t know anything.”

She was too simple and too unknowing to speculate on the230 loss of her beauty, which would have brought her competency once,—if sold in the right market. As she lay in her little attic bed, she was still sullenly thinking, wearily thinking of her life. She thought of a poor old horse which Sim had bought once, years before, and put to the plough when it was too old and weak to work. She could see her again as in a vision, that poor old mare, with sad head drooping, toiling, toiling, till at last she could no longer move, and lying down under the harness in the furrow, groaned under the whip—and died.

Then she wondered if her own numbness and despair meant death, and she held her breath to think harder upon it. She concluded at last, grimly, that she didn’t care—only for the children.

The air was frightfully close in the little attic, and she heard the low mutter of the rising storm in the west. She forgot her troubles a little, listening to the far-off gigantic footsteps of the tempest.

Boom, boom, boom, it broke nearer and nearer as if a vast cordon of cannon was being drawn around the horizon. Yet she was conscious only of pleasure. She had no fear. At last came the sweep of cool, fragrant storm-wind, a short and sudden dash of rain, and then in the cool, sweet hush which followed, the worn and weary woman fell into a deep sleep.

When she woke the younger children were playing about on the floor in their night-clothes, and little Pet was sitting in a square of sunshine intent on one of his shoes. He was too young to know how poor and squalid his surroundings were, the patch of sunshine flung on the floor glorified it all. He (little animal) was happy.

The poor of the western prairies lie almost as unhealthily close together as do the poor of the city tenements. In the small hut of the peasant there is as little chance to escape close and tainting contact as in the coops and dens of the North End of proud Boston. In the midst of oceans of land, floods of sunshine and gulfs of verdure, the farmer lives in two or three small rooms. Poverty’s eternal cordon is ever round the poor.

“Ma, why didn’t you sleep with pap last night?” asked Bob, the seven-year old, when he saw she was awake at last. She flushed a dull red.231

“Sh! Because—I—it was too warm—and there was a storm comin’. You never mind askin’ such questions. Is he gone out?”

“Yup. I heerd him callin’ the pigs. It’s Sunday, aint it, ma?”

“Why, yes, so it is! Wal! Now Sadie, you jump up an’ dress quick’s y’ can, an’ Bob an’ Sile, you run down an’ bring s’m water,” she commanded, in nervous haste beginning to dress. In the middle of the room there was scarce space to stand beneath the rafters.

When Sim came in for his breakfast he found it on the table but his wife was absent.

“Where’s y’r ma?” he asked with a little less of the growl in his voice.

“She’s upstairs with Pet.”

The man ate his breakfast in dead silence, till at last Bob ventured to say,

“What makes ma ac’ so?”

“Shut up!” was the brutal reply. The children began to take sides with the mother—all but the oldest girl who was ten years old. To her the father turned now for certain things to be done, treating her in his rough fashion as a housekeeper, and the girl felt flattered and docile accordingly.

They were pitiably clad; like most farm-children, indeed, they could hardly be said to be clad at all. Sadie had on but two garments, a sort of undershirt of cotton and a faded calico dress, out of which her bare, yellow little legs protruded, lamentably dirty and covered with scratches.

The boys also had two garments, a hickory shirt and a pair of pants like their father’s, made out of brown denims by the mother’s never-resting hands,—hands that in sleep still sewed, and skimmed, and baked, and churned. The boys had gone to bed without washing their feet, which now looked like toads, calloused, brown, and chapped.

Part of this the mother saw with her dull eyes as she came down, after seeing the departure of Sim up the road with the cows. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and the woman might have sung like a bird if men were only as kind to her as Nature. But she looked dully on the seas of ripe grasses, tangled and flashing with dew, out of which the bobolinks and larks sprang. The glorious winds brought her no melody, no perfume, no respite from toil and care.232

She thought of the children she saw in the town. Children of the merchant and banker, clean as little dolls, the boys in knickerbocker suits, the girls in dainty white dresses, and a bitterness sprang into her heart. She soon put the dishes away, but felt too tired and listless to do more.

“Taw-bay-wies! Pet want ta-aw-bay-wies!” cried the little one, tugging at her dress.

Listlessly, mechanically she took him in her arms, and went out into the garden which was fragrant and sweet with dew and sun. After picking some berries for him, she sat down on the grass under the row of cotton-woods, and sank into a kind of lethargy. A kingbird chattered and shrieked overhead, the grasshoppers buzzed in the grasses, strange insects with ventriloquistic voices sang all about her,—she could not tell where.

“Ma, can’t I put on my clean dress?” insisted Sadie.

“I don’t care,” said the brooding woman darkly. “Leave me alone.”

Oh, if she could only lie here forever, escaping all pain and weariness! The wind sang in her ears, the great clouds, beautiful as heavenly ships, floated far above in the vast dazzling deeps of blue sky, the birds rustled and chirped around her, leaping-insects buzzed and clattered in the grass and in the vines and bushes. The goodness and glory of God was in the very air, the bitterness and oppression of man in every line of her face.

But her quiet was broken by Sadie who came leaping like a fawn down through the grass.

“O ma, Aunt Maria and Uncle William are coming. They’ve jest turned in.”

“I don’t care if they be!” she answered in the same dully-irritated way. “What’re they comin’ here to-day for, I wan’ to know.” She stayed there immovably, till Mrs. Council came down to see her, piloted by two or three of the children. Mrs. Council, a jolly, large-framed woman, smiled brightly, and greeted her in a loud, jovial voice. She made the mistake of taking the whole matter lightly; her tone amounted to ridicule.

“Sim says you’ve been having a tantrum, Creeshy. Don’t know what for, he says.”

“He don’t,” said the wife with a sullen flash in the eyes.233He don’t know why! Well, then, you just tell him what I say. I’ve lived in hell long enough. I’m done. I’ve slaved here day in and day out f’r twelve years without pay—not even a decent word. I’ve worked like no nigger ever worked ‘r could work and live. I’ve given him all I had, ‘r ever expect to have. I’m wore out. My strength is gone, my patience is gone. I’m done with it—that’s a part of what’s the matter.”

“My sakes, Lucreeshy! You mustn’t talk that way.”

“But I will,” said the woman, as she supported herself on one palm and raised the other. “I’ve got to talk that way.” She was ripe for an explosion like this. She seized upon it with eagerness. “They aint no use o’ livin’ this way, anyway. I’d take poison if it want f’r the young ones.”

“Lucreeshy Burns!”

“Oh, I mean it.”

“Land sakes alive, I b’leeve you’re goin’ crazy!”

“I shouldn’t wonder if I was. I’ve had enough t’ drive an Indian crazy. Now you jest go off an’ leave me ‘lone. I aint in mind to visit—they aint no way out of it, an’ I’m tired o’ tryin’ to find a way. Go off an’ let me be.”

Her tone was so bitterly hopeless that the great jolly face of Mrs. Council stiffened into a look of horror such as she had not worn for years. The children, in two separate groups, could be heard rioting. Bees were humming around the clover in the grass, and the kingbird chattered ceaselessly from the Lombardy poplar-tip. Both women felt all this peace and beauty of the morning, dimly, and it disturbed Mrs. Council because the other was so impassive under it all. At last, after a long and thoughtful pause, Mrs. Council asked a question whose answer she knew would decide it all,—asked it very kindly and softly,—

“Creeshy, are you comin’ in?”

“No,” was the short and sullenly decisive answer. Mrs. Council knew that was the end, and so rose with a sigh and went away.

“Wal, good by,” she said simply.

Looking back she saw Lucretia lying at length with closed eyes and hollow cheeks. She seemed to be sleeping, half-buried in the grass. She did not look up nor reply to her sister-in-law. Her life also was one of toil and trouble, but234 not so hard and hapless as Lucretia’s. By contrast with most of her neighbors she seemed comfortable.

“Sim Burns, what you ben doin’ to that woman?” she burst out as she waddled up to where the two men were sitting under a cotton-wood tree, talking and whittling after the manner of farmers.

“Nawthin’ ‘s fur ‘s I know,” answered Burns, not quite honestly, and looking uneasy.

“You needn’t try t’ git out of it like that, Sim Burns,” replied his sister. “That woman never got into that fit f’r nawthin’.”

“Wal, if you know more about it than I do, whadgy ask me fur,” he replied angrily.

“Tut, tut!” put in Council, always a peacemaker, “hold y’r horses! Don’t git on y’r ear, childern! Keep cool, and don’t spile y’r shirts. Most likely yer all t’ blame. Keep cool an’ swear less.”

“Wal, I’ll bet Sim’s more to blame than she is. Why they aint a harder-workin’ woman in the hull State of Ioway than she is—”

“Except Marm Council.”

“Except nobody. Look at her, jest skin and bones.”

Council chuckled in his vast way. “That’s so, mother, measured in that way she leads over you. You git fat on it.”

She smiled a little, her indignation oozing away; she never “could stay mad,” her children were accustomed to tell her. Burns refused to talk any more about the matter, and the visitors gave it up, and got out their team and started for home, Mrs. Council firing this parting shot:—

“The best thing you can do to-day is t’ let her alone. Mebbe the childern ‘ll bring her round again. If she does come round, you see ‘t you treat her a little more ‘s y’ did when you was a-courtin’ her.”

“This way,” roared Council, putting his arm around his wife’s waist. She boxed his ears while he guffawed and clucked at his team.

Burns took a measure of salt and went out into the pasture to salt the cows. On the sunlit slope of the field, where the cattle came running and bawling to meet him, he threw down the salt in handfuls, and then lay down to watch them as they eagerly licked it up, even gnawing a bare spot in the sod in their eagerness to get it all.235

Burns was not a drinking man; was hard-working, frugal, in fact, he had no extravagances except his tobacco. His clothes he wore until they all but dropped from him; and he worked in rain and mud, as well as dust and sun. It was this suffering and toiling all to no purpose that made him sour and irritable. He didn’t see why he should have so little after so much hard work.

He was puzzled to account for it all. His mind (the average mind) was weary with trying to solve an insoluble problem. His neighbors, who had got along a little better than himself, were free with advice and suggestion as to the cause of his persistent poverty.

Old man Bacon, the hardest-working man in the county, laid it to Burns’ lack of management. Jim Butler, who owned a dozen farms (which he had taken on mortgages), and who had got rich by buying land at government price and holding for a rise, laid all such cases as Burns to “lack of enterprise, foresight.”

But the larger number feeling themselves “in the same boat” with Burns, said:—

“I’d know. Seems as if things got worse an’ worse. Corn an’ wheat gittin’ cheaper ‘n’ cheaper. Machinery eatin’ up profits—got to have machinery to harvest the cheap grain, an’ then the machinery eats up profits. Taxes goin’ up. Devil to pay all round; I’d know what ‘n thunder is the matter.”

The democrats said protection was killing the farmers, the republicans said no. The grangers growled about the middle-men, the green-backers said there wasn’t circulating medium enough, and in the midst of it all, hard-working discouraged farmers, like Simeon Burns, worked on, unable to find out what really was the matter.

And there on this beautiful Sabbath morning, Sim sat and thought and thought, till he rose with an oath, and gave it up.


It was hot and brilliant again the next morning as Douglass Radbourn drove up the road with Lily Graham, the teacher of the school in the little white schoolhouse. It was blazing hot, even though not yet nine o’clock, and the young farmers plowing beside the fence looked longingly and236 somewhat bitterly at Radbourn seated in a fine top-buggy beside a beautiful creature in lace and cambric.

Very beautiful the town-bred “schoolma’am” looked to those grimy, sweaty fellows, superb fellows physically, too, with bare red arms and leather-colored faces. She was as if builded of the pink and white clouds soaring far up there in the morning sky. So cool, and sweet, and dainty.

As she came in sight, their dusty and sweaty shirts grew biting as the poisoned shirt of the Norse myth, their bare feet in the brown dirt grew distressingly flat and hoof-like, and their huge, dirty, brown, chapped, and swollen hands grew so repulsive that the mere remote possibility of some time in the far future “standing a chance” of having an introduction to her, caused them to wipe them on their trousers’ leg stealthily.

Lycurgus Banks, “Ly” Banks, swore when he saw Radbourn. “That cuss thinks he’s ol’ hell this morning. He don’t earn his living. But he’s jest the kind of cuss to get holt of all the purty girls.”

Others gazed with simple, sad wistfulness upon the slender figure, pale, sweet face, and dark eyes of the young girl, feeling that to have talk with such a fairy-like creature was a happiness too great to ever be their lot. And when she had passed they went back to work with a sigh and feeling of loss.

As for Lily, she felt a pang of pity for these people. She looked at this peculiar form of poverty and hardship much as the fragile, tender girl of the city looks upon the men laying a gas-main in the streets. She felt (sympathetically) the heat and grime, and though but the faintest idea of what it meant to wear such clothing came to her, she shuddered. Her eyes had been opened to these things by Radbourn, who was a well-known radical,—a law student in Rock River.

“Poor fellows!” sighed Lily, almost unconsciously. “I hate to see them working there in the dirt and hot sun. It seems a hopeless sort of life, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, but this is the most beautiful part of the year,” said Radbourn. “Think of them in the mud, in the sleet; think of them husking corn in the snow, a bitter wind blowing; think of them a month later in the harvest; think of them imprisoned here in winter!”

“Yes, it’s dreadful! But I never felt it so keenly before. You have opened my eyes to it.”237

“Writers and orators have lied so long about ‘the idyllic’ in farm life, and said so much about the ‘independent American farmer’ that he himself has remained blind to the fact that he’s one of the hardest-working and poorest-paid men in America. See the houses they live in,—hovels.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” said Lily; a look of deeper pain swept over her face. “And the fate of the poor women, oh, the fate of the women!”

“Yes, it’s a matter of statistics,” went on Radbourn, pitilessly, “that the wives of the American farmers fill our insane asylums. See what a life they lead, most of them; no music, no books. Seventeen hours a day in a couple of small rooms—dens. Now there’s Sim Burns! what a travesty of a home! Yet there are a dozen just as bad in sight. He works like a fiend,—so does his wife,—and what is their reward? Simply a hole to hibernate in and to sleep and eat in in summer. A dreary present and a well-nigh hopeless future. No, they have a future, if they knew it, and we must tell them.”

“I know Mrs. Burns; she sends several children to my school. Poor, pathetic little things, half-clad and wistful-eyed. They make my heart ache; they are so hungry for love, and so quick to learn.”

As they passed the Burns farm, they looked for the wife but she was not to be seen. The children had evidently gone up to the little white schoolhouse at the head of the lane. Radbourn let the reins fall slack as he talked on. He did not look at the girl, his eyebrows were drawn into a look of gloomy pain.

“It aint so much the grime that I abhor, nor the labor that crooks their backs and makes their hands bludgeons. It’s the horrible waste of life involved in it all. I don’t believe God intended a man to be bent to plow-handles like that, but that aint the worst of it. The worst of it is, these people live lives approaching automata. They become machines to serve others more lucky or more unscrupulous than themselves. What is the world of art, of music, of literature, to these poor devils—to Sim Burns and his wife there, for example? Or even to the best of these farmers?”

The girl looked away over the shimmering lake of yellow-green corn, a choking came into her throat. Her gloved hand trembled.238

“What is such a life worth? It’s all very comfortable for us to say, ‘they don’t feel it.’ How do we know what they feel? What do we know of their capacity for enjoyment of art and music? They never have leisure or opportunity. The master is very glad to be taught by preacher, and lawyer, and novelist, that his slaves are contented and never feel any longings for a higher life. These people live lives but little higher than their cattle,—are forced to live so. Their hopes and aspirations are crushed out, their souls are twisted and deformed just as toil twists and deforms their bodies. They are on the same level as the city laborer. It makes me wild to think of it. The very religion they hear is a soporific. They are taught to be content here that they may be happy hereafter. Suppose there isn’t any hereafter?”

“Oh, don’t say that, please!” Lily cried.

“But I don’t know that there is,” looking up at her pitilessly, “and I do know that these people are being robbed of something more than money, of all that makes life worth living. The promise of milk and honey in Canaan is all very well, but I prefer to have mine here, then I’m sure of it.”

“What can we do?” murmured the girl.

“Do? Rouse these people for one thing; preach discontent, a noble discontent.”

“It will only make them unhappy.”

“No, it won’t, not if you show them the way out. If it does, it’s better to be unhappy striving for higher things, like a man, than to be content in a wallow like swine.”

“But what is the way out?”

This was sufficient to set Radbourn upon his hobby-horse. He outlined his plan of action, the abolition of all indirect taxes. The State control of all privileges, the private ownership of which interfered with the equal rights of all. He would utterly destroy speculative holdings of the earth. He would have land everywhere brought to its best use, by appropriating all ground rents to the use of the State, etc., etc., to which the girl listened with eager interest but with only partial comprehension.

As they neared the little schoolhouse, a swarm of midgets in pink dresses, pink sun-bonnets, and brown legs, came rushing to meet their teacher, with that peculiar devotion the children in the country develop for a refined teacher.239

Radbourn helped Lily out into the midst of the eager little scholars, who swarmed upon her like bees on a lump of sugar, till even Radbourn’s gravity gave way, and he smiled into her lifted eyes—an unusual smile, that strangely enough stopped the smile on her own lips, filling her face with a wistful shadow, and her breath came hard for a moment and she trembled.

She loved that cold, stern face, oh, so much! and to have him smile was a pleasure that made her heart leap till she suffered a smothering pain. She turned to him to say:—

“I am very thankful, Mr. Radbourn, for another pleasant ride,” adding in a lower tone, “It was a very great pleasure; you always give me so much. I feel stronger and more hopeful.”

“I’m glad you feel so. I was afraid I was prosy with my land-doctrine.”

“Oh no! Indeed no! You have given me a new hope; I am exalted with the thought; I shall try to think it all out and apply it.”

And so they parted, the children looking on and slyly whispering among themselves. Radbourn looked back after awhile but the bare little hive had absorbed its little group, and was standing bleak as a tombstone and hot as a furnace on the naked plain in the blazing sun.

“America’s pitiful boast!” said the young radical looking back at it. “Only a miserable hint of what it might be.”

All that forenoon as Lily faced her little group of barefoot children, she was thinking of Radbourn, of his almost fierce sympathy for these poor supine farmers, hopeless, and in some cases content in their narrow lives. The children almost worshipped the beautiful girl who came to them as a revelation of exquisite neatness and taste,—whose very voice and intonation awed them.

They noted (unconsciously, of course,) every detail. Snowy linen, touches of soft color, graceful lines of bust and side—the slender fingers that could almost speak, so beautifully flexile were they. Lily herself sometimes, when she shook the calloused, knotted, stiffened hands of the women, shuddered with sympathetic pain, to think that the crowning wonder and beauty of God’s world should be so maimed and distorted from its true purpose.

Even in the children before her she could see the inherited240 results of fruitless labor—and more pitiful yet in the bent shoulders of the older ones she could see the beginnings of deformity that would soon be permanent. And as these things came to her, she clasped the poor wondering things to her side with a convulsive wish to make life a little brighter for them.

“How is your mother, Sadie?” she asked of Sadie Burns, as she was eating her luncheon on the drab-colored table near the open window.

“Purty well,” said Sadie in a hesitating way.

Lily was looking out, and listening to the gophers whistling as they raced to and fro. She could see Bob Burns lying at length on the grass in the pasture over the fence, his heels waving in the air, his hands holding a string which formed a snare. Bob was “death on gophers.” It was like fishing to young Izaak Walton.

It was very still and hot and the cheep and trill of the gophers, and the chatter of the kingbirds alone broke the silence. A cloud of butterflies were fluttering about a pool near, a couple of big flies buzzed and mumbled on the pane.

“What ails your mother?” Lily asked, recovering herself and looking at Sadie who was distinctly ill at ease.

“Oh, I dunno,” Sadie replied, putting one bare foot across the other.

Lily insisted.

“She ‘n’ pa’s had an awful row—”

“Sadie!” said the teacher warningly, “what language!”

“I mean they quarrelled, an’ she don’t speak to him any more.”

“Why, how dreadful!”

“An’ pa he’s awful cross,—and she won’t eat when he does, an’ I haf to wait on table.”

“I believe I’ll go down and see her this noon,” said Lily to herself, as she divined a little of the state of affairs in the Burns family.

Sim was mending the pasture fence as Lily came down the road toward him. He had delayed going to dinner to finish his task and was just about ready to go when Lily spoke to him.

“Good-morning, Mr. Burns. I am just going down to see Mrs. Burns. It must be time to go to dinner—aren’t you ready to go? I want to talk with you.”241

Ordinarily he would have been delighted with the idea of walking down the road with the schoolma’am, but there was something in her look which seemed to tell him that she knew all about his trouble, and beside he was not in good humor.

“Yes, in a minnit,—soon’s I fix up this hole. Them shoats, I b’leeve, would go through a keyhole, if they could once git their snoots in.”

He expanded on this idea as he nailed away, anxious to gain time. He foresaw trouble for himself. He couldn’t be rude to this sweet and fragile girl. If a man had dared to attack him on his domestic shortcomings, he could have fought. The girl stood waiting for him, her large, steady eyes full of thought, gazing down at him from the shadow of her broad-brimmed hat.

“The world is so full of misery anyway, that we ought to do the best we can to make it less,” she said at last in a musing tone, as if her thoughts had unconsciously taken on speech. She had always appealed to him strongly, and never more so than in this softly uttered abstraction,—that it was an abstraction added to its power with him.

He could find no words for reply, but picked up his hammer and nail-box, and slouched along the road by her side, listening without a word to her talk.

“Christ was patient, and bore with his enemies, surely we ought to bear with our—friends.” She went on adapting her steps to his. He took off his torn straw hat and wiped his face on his sleeve, being much embarrassed and ashamed. Not knowing how to meet such argument, he kept silent.

“How is Mrs. Burns?” said Lily at length, determined to make him speak. The delicate meaning in the emphasis laid on is did not escape him.

“Oh, she’s all right,—I mean she’s done her work jest the same as ever. I don’t see her much—”

“I didn’t know—I was afraid she was sick. Sadie said she was acting strangely.”

“No, she’s well enough—but,—”

“But what is the trouble? Won’t you let me help you, won’t you?”

“Can’t anybody help us. We’ve got ‘o fight it out, I s’pose,” he replied, a gloomy note of resentment creeping242 into his voice. “She’s ben in a devil of a temper f’r a week.”

“Haven’t you been in the same kind of a temper too?” demanded Lily, firmly, but kindly. “I think most troubles of this kind come from bad temper on both sides. Don’t you? Have you done your share at being kind and patient?”

They had reached the gate now, and she laid her hand on his arm to stop him. He looked down at the slender gloved hand on his arm feeling as if a giant had grasped him, then he raised his eyes to her face, flushing a purplish red as he remembered his grossness. It seemed monstrous in the presence of this girl-advocate. Her face was like silver, her eyes seemed pools of tears.

“I don’t s’pose I have,” he said at last pushing by her. He couldn’t have stood her glance another moment. His whole air conveyed the impression of destructive admission. Lily did not comprehend the extent of her advantage or she would have pursued it further. As it was she felt a little hurt as she entered the house. The table was set, but Mrs. Burns was nowhere to be seen. Calling her softly, the young girl passed through the shabby little living room to the oven-like bedroom which opened off it, but no one was about. She stood for a moment shuddering at the wretchedness of the room.

Going back to the kitchen she found Sim about beginning on his dinner; little Pet was with him, the rest of the children were at the schoolhouse.

“Where is she?”

“I d’ know. Out in the garden I expect. She don’t eat with me now. I never see her. She don’t come near me. I aint seen her since Saturday.”

Lily was shocked inexpressibly and began to see clearer the magnitude of the task she had set herself to do. But it must be done; she felt that a tragedy was not far off. It must be averted.

“Mr. Burns, what have you done? What have you done?” she asked in terror and horror.

“Don’t lay it all to me! She hain’t done nawthin’ but complain f’r ten years. I couldn’t do nothin’ to suit her. She was always naggin’ me.”

“I don’t think Lucretia Burns would nag anybody. I don’t say you’re all to blame, but I’m afraid you haven’t243 acknowledged you were any to blame. I’m afraid you’ve not been patient with her. I’m going out to bring her in. If she comes will you say you were part to blame? You needn’t beg her pardon, just say you’ll try to be better. Will you do it? Think how much she has done for you! Will you?”

He remained silent, and looked discouragingly rude. His sweaty, dirty shirt was open at the neck, his arms were bare, his scraggly teeth were yellow with tobacco, and his uncombed hair lay tumbled about on his high, narrow head. His clumsy, unsteady hands played with the dishes on the table. His pride was struggling with his sense of justice; he knew he ought to consent, and yet it was so hard to acknowledge himself to blame. The girl went on in a voice piercingly sweet, trembling with pity and pleading.

“What word can I carry to her from you? I’m going to go and see her. If I could take a word from you, I know she would come back to the table. Shall I tell her you feel to blame?”

The answer was a long time coming; at last the man nodded an assent, the sweat pouring from his purple face. She had set him thinking, her victory was sure.

Lily almost ran out into the garden and to the strawberry patch, where she found Lucretia in her familiar, colorless, shapeless dress, picking berries in the hot sun, the mosquitoes biting her neck and hands.

“Poor, pathetic, dumb sufferer,” the girl thought as she ran up to her.

She dropped her dish as she heard Lily coming, and gazed up into the tender, pitying face. Not a word was spoken, but something she saw there made her eyes fill with tears, and her throat swell. It was pure sympathy. She put her arms around the girl’s neck and sobbed for the first time since Friday night. Then they sat down on the grass under the hedge and she told her story, interspersed with Lily’s horrified comments.

When it was all told the girl still sat listening. She heard Radbourn’s calm, slow voice again. It helped her not to hate Burns; it helped her to pity and understand him.

“You must remember that such toil brutalizes a man; it makes him callous, selfish, unfeeling necessarily. A fine244 nature must either adapt itself to its hard surroundings or die. Men who toil terribly in filthy garments day after day and year after year cannot easily keep gentle; the frost and grime, the heat and cold will sooner or later enter into their souls. The case is not all in favor of the suffering wives, and against the brutal husbands. If the farmer’s wife is dulled and crazed by her routine, the farmer himself is degraded and brutalized. They are both products of a social system, victims of a land system, which produces tenement houses in the city, and pushes the farmer into a semi-solitude—victims of land laws that are relics of feudalism, made in the interest of the man who holds a special privilege in the earth. Free America has set up on its soil the systems of land-owning which produces the lord and the tenant; that glorifies speculation in the earth, and gives the priceless riches of the hills and forests into a few hands. But this will not continue—it can’t continue. The awakening understanding of America cries out against it.”

As well as she could Lily explained all this to the woman who lay with her face buried in the girl’s lap. Lily’s arms were about her thin shoulders in an agony of pity.

“It’s hard, Lucretia, I know, more than you can bear, but you mustn’t forget what Sim endures, too. He goes out in the storms and in the heat and dust. His boots are hard, and see how his hands are all bruised and broken by his work! He was tired and hungry when he said that—he didn’t really mean it.”

The wife remained silent.

“Mr. Radbourn says work as things go now does degrade a man in spite of himself. He says men get coarse and violent in spite of themselves just as women do when everything goes wrong in the house,—when the flies are thick, and the fire won’t burn, and the irons stick to the clothes. You see, you both suffer. Don’t lay up this fit of temper against Sim—will you?”

The wife lifted her head and looked away. Her face was full of hopeless weariness.

“It aint this once. It aint that ‘t all. It’s having no let up. Just goin’ the same thing right over ‘n’ over—no hope of anything better.”

“If you had a hope of another world—”

“Don’t talk that—that’s rich man’s doctrine. I don’t245 want that kind o’ comfert. I want a decent chance here. I want ‘o rest an’ be happy now—then I’m sure of it.”

Lily’s big eyes were streaming with tears. What should she say to the desperate woman?

“What’s the use? We might jest as well die—all of us.”

The woman’s livid face appalled the beautiful girl. She was gaunt, heavy-eyed, nerveless. Her faded dress settled down over her limbs showing the swollen knees and thin calves, her hands with distorted joints protruded painfully from her sleeves. And all about was the ever-recurring wealth and cheer of nature that knows no fear or favor. The bees and flies buzzing in the sun, the jay and kingbird in the poplars, the smell of strawberries, the motion of lush grass, the shimmer of corn blades tossed gayly as banners in a conquering army.

Like a flash of keener light a sentence shot across the girl’s mind. “Nature knows no title-deed. The bounty of her mighty hands falls as the sunlight falls, copious, impartial; her seas carry all ships, her air is for all lips, her lands for all feet.”

“Poverty and suffering such as yours will not last.” There was something in the girl’s voice that roused the woman. She turned her dull eyes upon her face.

Lily took her hand in both hers as if by a caress she could impart her own faith.

“Look up, dear. When Nature is so good and generous, man must come to be better, surely. Come, go in the house again. Sim is there, he expects you, he told me to tell you he was sorry.” Lucretia’s face twitched a little at that, but her head was bent. “Come, you can’t live this way. There isn’t any other place to go to.”

No, that was the bitterest truth. Where on this wide earth with its forth-shooting fruits and grains, its fragrant lands and shining seas, could this dwarfed, bent, broken, middle-aged woman go? Nobody wanted her, nobody cared for her. But the wind kissed her drawn lips as readily as those of the girl, and the blooms of clover nodded to her as if to a queen.

Lily had said all she could. Her heart ached with unspeakable pity and a sort of terror.

“Don’t give up, Lucretia. This may be the worst hour of your life. Live and bear with it all for Christ’s sake—for246 your children’s sake. Sim told me to tell you he was to blame. If you will only see that you are both to blame and yet neither to blame, then you can rise above it. Try, dear!”

The wife pulled herself together, rose silently, and started toward the house. Her face was rigid but no longer sullen. Lily followed her slowly, wonderingly.

As she neared the kitchen door, she saw Sim still sitting at the table; his face was unusually grave and soft. She saw him start and shove back his chair,—saw Lucretia go to the stove and lift the tea-pot, and heard her say, as she took her seat beside the baby,—

“Want some more tea?”

She had become a wife and mother again, but in what spirit the puzzled girl could not say.247



A movement destined, I think, to be in a degree epoch-marking in the dramatic annals of the American stage, was inaugurated by Mr. James A. Herne, on the fourth of May, in Boston, in the production of his remarkable realistic drama, “Margaret Fleming,” at Chickering Hall. The play is a bold innovation, so much so that no theatre in the city would produce it, although the various managers who examined it declared it to be as strong as and no less powerful than any American drama yet written. The character of the audience was as striking as the play was brave and original. It was, indeed, a strange sight to see such well-known and thoughtful men and women as Mr. William Dean Howells, Rev. Minot J. Savage, Rabbi Solomon Schindler, Rev. Edward A. Horton, Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, Hamlin Garland, and a score or more of persons almost as well known in literary, religious, and thoughtful circles, assembled on the first night of a dramatic production. Nor was the character of the audience less remarkable during the fortnight it was played. Men and women who are rarely seen at theatres attended two, three, and even four performances. The superb acting of Mr. and Mrs. Herne contributed much to the success of the play; curiosity also doubtless attracted many, yet beyond and above this was the deep appreciation of a thoughtful and intelligent constituency, who saw in this drama the marvellous possibilities of the stage for improvement as well as entertainment. They also saw real life depicted. The absence of empty lines and stilted phrases so common in conventional drama was refreshing and interesting to those who believe that the drama has a mission other than merely to amuse. “Margaret Fleming” is nothing if not artistic from the standpoint of the realist. Its fidelity to life as we find it—to existing conditions and types of society,—is wonderful. Its dramatic strength is none the less marked. But aside from and above all this, for me it has a far greater merit—utility. I have no sympathy with the flippant, effeminate, and senile cry, “Art for art’s sake”; that is the echo of a decaying civilization, the voice of Greece and Rome in their decline. It is the shibboleth of a people drunken with pleasure; of a popular conscience anæsthetized; the cry of sensualism and selfishness popular with shallow minds and bloodless hearts; the incarnation of that fatal effeminacy that springs from a union of wealth and superficial intellectuality; the voice of a human automaton without a soul. Victor Hugo has made no utterances more grandly true than when he pleads for the beautiful being made the servant of progress as voiced in the following sentiment:

“Be of some service. Do not be fastidious when so much depends upon being efficient and good. Art for art’s sake may be very fine, but248 art for progress is finer still. Ah! you must think? Then think of making man better. Courage! Let us consecrate ourselves. Let us devote ourselves to the good, to the true, to the just; it is well for us to do so. Some pure lovers of art, moved by a solicitude which is not without its dignity, discard the formula, ‘Art for Progress,’ the Beautiful Useful, fearing lest the useful should deform the beautiful. They tremble to see the drudge’s hand attached to the muse’s arm. According to them, the ideal may become perverted by too much contact with reality. They are solicitous for the sublime, if it descends as far as to humanity. They are in error. The useful, far from circumscribing the sublime, enlarges it. But critics protest: To undertake the cure of social evils; to amend the codes; to impeach law in the court of right to utter those hideous words, ‘penitentiary,’ ‘convict-keeper,’ ‘galley-slave,’ ‘girl of the town’; to inspect the police registers; to contract the business of dispensaries; to study the questions of wages and want of work; to taste the black bread of the poor; to seek labor for the working-woman; to confront fashionable idleness with ragged sloth; to throw down the partition of ignorance; to open schools; to teach little children how to read; to attack shame, infamy, error, vice, crime, want of conscience; to preach the multiplication of spelling-books; to improve the food of intellects and of hearts; to give meat and drink; to demand solutions for problems and shoes for naked feet,—these things they declare are not the business of the azure. Art is the azure. Yes, art is the azure; but the azure from above, whence falls the ray which swells the wheat, yellows the maize, rounds the apple, gilds the orange, sweetens the grape. Again I say, a further service is an added beauty. At all events, where is the diminution? To ripen the beet-root, to water the potato, to increase the yield of lucern, of clover, or of hay; to be a fellow-workman with the ploughman, the vinedresser, and the gardener,—this does not deprive the heavens of one star. Immensity does not despise utility,—and what does it lose by it? Does the vast vital fluid that we call magnetic or electric flash through the cloud-masses with less splendor because it consents to perform the office of pilot to a bark, and to keep constant to the north the little needle intrusted to it, the gigantic guide? Yet the critics insist that to compose social poetry, human poetry, popular poetry; to grumble against the evil and laud the good, to be the spokesman of public wrath, to insult despots, to make knaves despair, to emancipate man before he is of age, to push souls forward and darkness backward, to know that there are thieves and tyrants, to clean penal cells, to flush the sewer of public uncleanness,—is not the function of art! Why not? Homer was the geographer and historian of his time, Moses the legislator of his, Juvenal the judge of his, Dante the theologian of his, Shakespeare the moralist of his, Voltaire the philosopher of his. No region, in speculation or in fact, is shut to the mind. Here a horizon, there wings; freedom for all to soar. To sing the ideal, to love humanity, to believe in progress, to pray toward the infinite. To be the servant of God in the task of progress, and the apostle of God to the people,—such is the law which regulates growth. All power is duty. Should this power enter into repose in our age? Should duty shut its eyes? And is the moment come for art to disarm? Less than ever. Thanks to 1789, the human caravan has reached a high plateau; and, the horizon being vaster, art has more to do. This is all. To every widening of the horizon, an enlargement of conscience corresponds. We have not reached the goal. Concord condensed into felicity, civilization summed up in harmony,—that is yet far off. The theatre is a crucible of civilization. It is a place of human communion. All its phases need to be studied. It is in the theatre that the public soul is formed.”


The theatre may be made the most potent engine for progress and reform. We are living in the midst of the most splendid age which has dawned since humanity first fronted the morning, dimly conscious of its innate power and the possibilities that lay imbedded in its being; an era of life, growth, warfare. On the one hand are ancient thought and prejudice, on the other the inspiration of greater liberty and a nobler manhood. On the one hand selfishness, sensuality, vulgar ostentation, avarice, luxury, and moral effeminacy crying, “Art for art’s sake,” demanding amusements that will aid in dissipating any moral strength or deep thought that still lingers in the mind, and literature that shall enable one to kill time without the slightest suspicion of intellectual exertion; physical, mental, and moral ennui, with an assumed lofty contempt for utility. On the other hand we have the gathering forces of the dawn, demanding “art for progress,” declaring that beauty must be the handmaid of duty; that art must wait on justice, liberty, fraternity, nobility, morality, and intellectual honesty,—in a word the forces in league with light must compel the beautiful to make radiant the pathway of the future. In the union of art and utility lies the supreme excellence of “Margaret Fleming,” it deals with one of the most pressing problems of our present civilization; it is the most powerful plea for an equal standard of morals for men and women that I have ever heard. This thought, it is true, like the entire drama, is anything but conventional; it breathes the spirit of the coming day. The subtile bondage and servility of woman, a vestige of the barbarous past, still taints our civilization. Far more is demanded by society of her than of man, and when heretofore she has raised her voice against this inequity she has been silenced by unworthy imputations. It is the shame of our age that woman is not accorded a higher meed of justice. She has a right to demand that the man who marries her be every whit as pure and moral as herself, and until she makes this demand, and holds herself from the contamination of moral lepers, no substantial progress for higher morals and purer life will be made. Unless woman checks the increasing degradation of manhood, man will sooner or later drag her to his deplorable level. “Margaret Fleming” shows this truth and points to the woman of to-day her stern and inexorable duty.

Unless woman assumes an aggressive stand and ostracizes the libertine, refusing his society, his attention, and most of all the proffer of his leprous love, the moral outlook for society will soon be as gloomy as was Rome’s future when Epictetus was banished from her streets because he mercilessly assailed the moral degradation of his day.


The rapid spread of heresy throughout the churches is creating genuine dismay in many quarters. When such ripe scholars and representative thinkers as Rev. Heber Newton, Dr. C. A. Briggs, and Rev. Dr. Bridgman, representing three of the most powerful Protestant communions, freely preach doctrines250 at variance with conventional orthodox views, and express a grander hope and broader faith than that cherished by conservative theologians, it is by no means strange that the current of old-time thought should be stirred. If, however, these scholarly minds stood alone in their convictions, there would be no warrant for such widespread apprehension as is manifest. The serious character of the present theological revolution, however, lies in the fact that the pulpit and the people are honey-combed with the peculiar heresy which rejects the verbal inspiration of the Bible and the dogma of eternal damnation.[9] The general uneasiness occasioned by the present epidemic of heresy, and the bitter strictures which it has called forth, are perfectly natural, while it is equally true that the present liberal attitude of so many of the foremost thinkers in the various orthodox churches is the legitimate outcome of numerous agencies which have been silently working for generations.

At various era-marking periods in the annals of history, the multitudes have been thus disturbed. They have felt that the old-time beliefs of their fathers, the tradition of ages, the oracles, which from early infancy they have learned to revere and hold most sacred, were being demolished. This naturally aroused bitter antagonism in their souls. They believed they were carrying out God’s wishes when like Saul of Tarsus, they aided in slaying heretics. Thus when the great Nazarene taught a higher, sweeter, and nobler code of ethics than the ancient Jewish law-givers and teachers, he was persecuted and slain because the Jews believed he sought to overthrow their revered and sacred truths. In a like manner Paul and the early advocates of Christianity, when they proclaimed their religion in Gentile lands frequently aroused the bitterest antagonism. At a later date Galileo’s demonstrations251 and Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery occasioned precisely the game dismay, and called forth bitter and pronounced opposition, because it was felt that in one case the authority of the Bible was impeached, and in the other that God was to be taken out of the universe. When Luther and the Reformation broke the dead calm of centuries of growing corruption and externalization in the religious life of Europe, Christendom felt a thrill of dismay. New disturbing elements had entered the fields. The general uneasiness on the part of tens of thousands of people who believed they were sincere worshippers of God, was succeeded by an intense desire to crush out this dangerous heresy with fire and torture, if necessary. The terrible days, months, and years that followed the dawn of the Reformation, bear melancholy testimony to the innate ferocity of man’s nature, and the relentless character of religious warfare. Nevertheless, in spite of persecution, the new truth spread. A broader horizon opened to man’s view. That conflict marked the birth of one of the grandest epochs in humanity’s onward march. Thus has it ever been. To-day stones the prophet, to-morrow tearfully rears a monument and treasures his lofty utterances.

Yet with every transition period comes the old-time struggle, the apprehension and anguish of spirit, the night of doubt. It is, therefore, not surprising that the oppression of fear weighs on the minds of all those who believe that God has spoken His last word; that in the twilight of the past alone lies the hope of humanity.

On the other hand, the theological revolt now manifest is a legitimate result of multitudinous agencies, which have for generations been silently and subtly influencing the mind of man, among which may be mentioned the spread of popular education, and the growth of the newspaper. As long as people knew not how to read or were unable to procure any medium of information which brought them in rapport with the vast growing world of thought and action, they naturally turned to their priest or clergyman for intellectual as well as religious food, and from him as a rule received instruction with the docility and confidence exhibited by little children seeking for truth. With the appearance of schoolhouses in every hamlet, and the establishment of cheap and popular newspapers, however, came a change as marked as it was wonderful. People began to reason and think for themselves. They demanded credentials for the various dogmas and ideas discussed in every department of thought. It is true, that religion was approached much more reluctantly and reverently than other subjects, but the growth of knowledge, the opportunity to hear all sides of problems discussed, and the broader conception of life which a world knowledge gave, exerted a positive and ever-increasing influence on their minds in this department of thought. The great inventions of the past hundred years, which have bound together as one family almost the whole world, have also brought to light the great religions of other races and252 ages. Gradually it dawned on the public mind that almost every people had a clearly defined system of theology; containing much that was beautiful, elevating, and inspiring, more or less hidden among superstitious traditions natural to childhood and credulous ages. This led many to ask whether Jesus might not have had a larger thought in his mind than mankind had dreamed when he said, “Other sheep have I which are not of this fold”; and whether there might not be a wider significance than had been given to the idea, that God had in sundry times and in divers ways spoken to His children on earth. Another lever of progressive thought was the marvellous strides taken in physical science, which followed the Reformation. Discoveries in astronomy, in geology and biology have completely overthrown many time-honored and revered traditions and fables regarded for ages as divine truth. The critical spirit of the age, the inquiring condition of human thought, which instead of being discouraging is distinctly a mark of human growth, stands in bold antithesis to the dark ages, when speculation and progress were outlawed in many fields of research, and spirituality suffered an eclipse behind the pomp, form, and show of theology, when to a great degree mental stagnation prevailed. Yet this critical spirit has been one of the most potent factors in liberalizing thought. Another cause for the radical change of views among Bible scholars is found in the rich results of archæological research during the past generation. This with a critical, or scientific study of the Bible, the early church, and profane history, contemporaneous with the rise of Christianity, has led thousands of the most profound and sincere religious thinkers into broader fields, giving to them a loftier view of life, eternity and God than was possible under the old conceptions. What diligent research on the part of scholarship has effected among critical students, the recent revision of the Bible has accomplished among the people. The old-time reverence for the letter of the law, or what is commonly known as verbal inspiration, is disappearing as mist before the sunshine, owing, in this latter case, to the people becoming acquainted for the first time with the fact that there are passages in the Bible confessed by the most orthodox scholars to be spurious. They found in the revised scriptures passages in some instances containing many consecutive verses enclosed in brackets, as, for example, the story of the woman taken in sin in the Gospel of John from vii. 53 to viii. 11 inclusive. Consulting the foot-note they found that these passages were spurious or added by a later hand. I well remember the explanation made by a scholarly and devout professor in theology, while at the Kentucky University, regarding the passage referred to above. “The incident doubtless occurred much as it appears,” asserted the professor, “but while omitted from the earlier copies, was handed down by tradition, and at a later day incorporated into the text.” Such explanations in the very nature of things, however, were by no means calculated to satisfy the doubts which had253 been raised in the minds of those who had from infancy been taught to believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. Naturally the question arose in the minds of the thinking masses, if one passage is proved to be spurious, and the world possesses no original manuscripts, what guarantee that anything approaching the original teachings of Jesus is preserved. If the stream of inspiration is proved to be muddy in some places, is it not possible that what at first was pure as the melting snow on the mountain tops, after passing through the hands of various human authors and copyists, may have become as turbid with the cast of human thought as the mountain stream which, pure at the source, is heavy with mud at the base? It is impossible to estimate how much influence this discovery on the part of the people has exerted in behalf of a broader and more liberal interpretation of the Bible. Another factor which is usually overlooked, but which has had a marked effect on the thought which to-day is in open rebellion against the old standards, is found in the influence exerted by a galaxy of great and godly lives, which came on the stage of existence early in the present century, and whose thoughts have unconsciously broadened the minds, refined the sentiment, and ennobled the lives of every one who has read their works. In this country Longfellow, Bryant, Whittier, Lowell, Hawthorne, Emerson, Channing, Parker, Clarke, and other illuminated souls, gave all who came under the magic of their words a broader view of life, a truer conception of the universe, and a loftier inspiration than aught that had touched them before. It is doubtful if the great thinkers dreamed that on the current of their thoughts tens of thousands of earnest lives were to be carried into a larger hope, a more intelligent, humane appreciation of the mysteries of creation, and a grander idea of God. Thus we see in the present religious revolution nothing strange in the bitter opposition of conservative thought, nothing remarkable in the persistent and earnest attitude of those who stand for the higher criticism. It is the old feud; the past struggling with the future; departing night battling with the dawn. Of the issue none who have faith in the ultimate triumph of truth, wisdom, and progress can doubt.


The vote of the New York Presbytery on the twelfth of May, to present the case of Prof. Charles A. Briggs[10] before the synod will probably prove one of the most momentous moves made in recent years in the theological world. It is a positive challenge254 thrown before Presbyterians who hold views popularly termed “Higher Criticism.” It is a declaration of war to the knife on the part of those who oppose the revision of the Westminster Confession, and who cherish ancient thought. Nor is the opposition led by Dr. Briggs disposed to yield what is believed to be the only truth consistent with an intelligent conception of a just, loving, and wise God. The immediate cause of this determined conflict is found in Professor Briggs’ recent address on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, delivered at his inaugural as Professor of Biblical Theology in the Union Theological Seminary of New York. In this notable address he maintained that there were three great fountains of divine authority, the Bible, the Church, and Reason, any one of which was capable of leading persons to God. He instanced the following cases: Cardinal Newman was led to God through the Church of Rome; Spurgeon, through the Bible, and the philosopher Martineau through Reason. He further asserted “that no one could get at the Bible unless he forced his way through human obstacles, which he tabulated as follows: (1) Superstitious reverence for the book itself. (2) The belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. (3) The authenticity of the Scriptures. Traditions from the dead church assign authors to all the books of the Bible, but higher criticism pronounces these traditions fallacies and follies. (4) The doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. Historical criticism again pronounces that there are errors in the Bible, but they are in circumstantials, not in essentials. (5) The miracles are in violation of the laws of nature, and keep men away from the Bible. (6) The failure of minute prophecy.” Dr. Briggs further expressed belief in the ultimate salvation of mankind, declaring that redemption was not limited to this world, but continued through the vast period of time preceding the resurrection.

On page 55 of his revised address, he observes:

The Biblical redemption is a redemption of our race and of universal nature. As the ancient Jews limited redemption to Israel and overlooked255 the nations, so the Church limited redemption to those who were baptized, and excluded the heathen and unbaptized. The Presbyterians have too often limited redemption by their doctrine of election; the Bible knows no such limitation. The Bible teaches election, but an election of love. Loving only the elect, is earthly, human teaching. Electing men to salvation by the touch of Divine love—that is heavenly doctrine. The salvation of the world can only mean the world as a whole, compared with which the unredeemed will be so few and insignificant and evidently beyond the reach of redemption by their own act of rejecting it and hardening themselves against it, and by descending into such depths of demoniacal depravity that they will vanish from sight.

In the appendix to his address, published about the middle of May, in speaking of inerrancy, Dr. Briggs further observes:—

It is agreed that there are a large number of errors in the best MSS. of the Bible; it is the theory of modern dogmaticians, that they were not in the original MSS. We can never have them, and it is idle to speculate as to their contents. When the Lower or Textual Criticism has done its best, and secured the best possible text, dogmaticians discredit the best text when they speculate as to what was in the original text. If the reactionary dogmaticians may speculate to remove errors from the text, the rationalistic critics may also speculate with regard to the original text in a way that would make havoc with scholastic theology. Even Mohammed was willing to accept the original text of the Law and the Gospel, which he claimed had been falsified by Jews and Christians.

I said, “It is not a pleasant task to point out errors in the Sacred Scriptures.” In “Biblical Study,” and “Whither?” I limited myself to two errors of citation. I have not taken a brief to prove the errancy of Scripture. Conservative men should hesitate before they force the critics in self-defence to make a catalogue of errors in the Bible. The errors are in the only texts we have, and every one is forced to recognize them.

It is well known that the great reformers, Calvin and Luther, recognized errors in the Scriptures, that Baxter and Rutherford of the second Reformation were not disturbed by them, and that the choicest spirits of modern times—such as Van Oosterzee, Tholuck, Neander, Stier, Lange, and Dorner—have not hesitated to point out numerous errors in Holy Scripture. This view is maintained by Sanday, Driver, Cheyne, Davidson, Bruce, Gore, Marcus Dods, Blaikie, and numerous others in Great Britain; by Fisher, Thayer, Smythe, Evans, H. B. Smith, W. R. Harper, and hosts of others in this country.”

One can easily see how dangerously heretical such bold declarations would sound to patriarchs of conservatism like Rev. Dr. Shedd, the well-known author of Dogmatic Theology, which embraces thirteen hundred pages, but in the index of which one looks in vain for “forgiveness of sin” or “pardon of sin.” A work which devotes eighty-six pages to hell and only four to heaven. Dr. Briggs, however, claims that theologians like Dr. Shedd, whose teachings have been chiefly on the damnation of men not competent to judge him, and gauged by our present civilization he is doubtless correct, but by the standard of the theologians who framed the Westminster Confession, I have less confidence in his accuracy. It must be remembered, however, that Professor Briggs has exhaustively studied the lives and256 teachings of the framers of the Confession, and he may have been able at times to catch them at their best, when in moments of spiritual exaltation they have uttered grand prophetic and divinely loving utterances which were foreign to their usual habits of thought or the religious conviction of the age in which they lived. And in that event he may be able to maintain his position when his case is called before the synod, even against the popular impression as to the real meaning of the Confession. Failing in this, the only alternative will be recantation or withdrawal from the Presbyterian Communion. From the stand already taken it is impossible to imagine the professor stultifying himself and teaching what he does not believe; while his withdrawal will unquestionably mean the greatest schism that Presbyterianism has yet suffered. I think it highly probable that the majority of his brother ministers to-day will condemn[11] the bold, brave man whom his communion in the near future will revere as a man who, prophet-like, saw beyond the sect to which he belonged; whose noble, loving, and holy nature drew him into intimate relationship with the Divine life, which is the essence of Love.


  1. Translated by G. H. A. Meyer and J. Henry Wiggin, from the manuscript of Camille Flammarion. Return to text

  2. Thousands of the women toiling in the cities on starving wages, might be given in the Southern States pleasant employment in fruit culture, and other light agricultural labors. Return to text

  3. A year after this was written, the following advanced sentiment was uttered by Rabbi Schindler: “Have the dead the right of imposing laws upon the living, of making contracts of which future generations ought to bear the burden?” Return to text

  4. It is necessary to illustrate this by a few decisive facts which have not been made familiar to the majority of readers, as farmers’ interests have received very little consideration in the East. The financial policy of the general government ever controlled by capital against labor, has been the most gigantic imposition by financial jugglery that history has recorded, and has been effected chiefly by manipulation and contraction of the currency to make debts more oppressive, and during the war by depreciating the people’s money. After the war when $500,000,000 were needed to compensate the destruction of confederate money, a criminal contraction of $500,000,000 dealt a crushing blow to the South, and to the whole country. Let us look at it from the standpoint of the largest body of laborers, the farmers. A very intelligent Illinois farmer, Bert Stewart, presents the case as follows, and if his data are all correct, he has demonstrated a wholesale robbery: The national debt at the end of the war was about $2,800,000,000. What would it then have cost the farmers to pay this debt? He estimates that it could have been paid by 996,000,000 bushels of wheat; or 1,380,000,000 bushels of corn; or 10,000,000 bales of cotton. But financial legislation has increased the value of money (magnifying the debt), and decreased the value of the products of labor, so that practically, the debt has been increasing faster than it has been paid; and, after paying nearly $2,000,000,000 of the principal, and over $2,000,000,000 of interest, it will cost more to pay the remaining third of the debt than to have paid the whole at first. It would require to-day, instead of 1,380,000,000, over 4,000,000,000 bushels of corn to pay the remaining third. This being the case, it would seem that the payment of about four thousand millions during the last twenty-six years, leaving the debt substantially unpaid, was virtually a robbery of the commonwealth by corrupt or ignorant legislation. Mr. Stewart mentions also, that in one year the binding twine trust, by raising prices, drew $21,000,000 “from the farmers of the West to the sharpers of the East.” The reports of the State Board of Agriculture of Illinois show (what is a fair statement for the whole country) that during the last thirty years the corn crops of Illinois have for more than half the time brought less than the cost of their production; and taking the entire thirty years together, the losses so nearly balanced the profits that the average net profit of the thirty years has not exceeded seventeen cents an acre for each year, in the cultivation of over six millions of acres of corn. In the official report of Iowa also, it is stated “the general range of farm products have sold below cost of production, since 1885.” The official “Farm Statistics of Michigan,” just issued, tell the same sad story. It shows that the wheat crop of 1889 cost more than it sold for, the loss being $1,471,515. The entire loss on wheat, corn, and oats amounted to $9,226,510. Thus is agricultural labor crushed that millionnaires may grow. Hence it is that farmers are sinking under their burdens of mortgage indebtedness, paying seven per cent. or more, losing their farms, and often compelled to mortgage crops, tools, and stock. In the single year, 1887, 35,334 farm mortgages were recorded in Illinois, amounting to $37,040,770, and “nine million mortgaged homes” is the war-cry of the Farmers’ Alliance.

    Thus the independent farmer is disappearing, and although there was scarcely a tenant farmer in Illinois in 1840, there are more than 110,000 tenant farmers now; and we have a vast increase of large farms. But while the farmer sinks into poverty, those who handle his products grow rich. The Chicago Stock Yard that was started with a million of capital has grown so prosperously that its stock now amounts to $23,000,000. The monetary interests control all things, and Mr. Stewart forcibly says: “The time has come, gentlemen, when the government must run the railroads, or the railroads will run the government. In Pennsylvania to-day two roads own the State, its legislature, its governor, its courts, its people, own them body and soul, and stole the money from the people to buy them with. You elect men to positions and pay them salaries, and then the railroads buy them and make you pay for bribing your own officers, in the freight rates they charge you. The net income of the railroads of the United States is three times that of the entire revenue of the government.” Return to text

  5. Parker Pillsbury mentions a Governor of Maine, who owns in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota, and Canada, 691,000 acres. Return to text

  6. As a single specimen of this, I would mention that those eminent politicians, John C. New, and Wm. H. English, of Indiana, under the laws engineered by cunning and accepted by ignorance, invested $200,000 in a national bank scheme when greenbacks had been knocked down to forty cents, and in thirteen years from 1864 to 1877 they made a clear profit of $2,133,000—more than ten for one of their investment. But this is very moderate in comparison with land speculation. The Elyton Land Company at Birmingham, Alabama, with a cash capital of $100,000, has declared in five years, ending in 1888, dividends amounting to $5,570,000, and is believed to own property still that will amount to $5,000,000, a return of more than a hundred dollars for every one invested—a clear profit absorbed of over ten millions—the gift of law to monopoly. Will this ever return to the commonwealth? The robbery of the commonwealth goes on in every direction. Shall we continue the present system under which, while the nation is losing its inheritance daily, one man in Chicago tied up the wheat crop of the United States, and one man also tied up or cornered pork, and both levied millions on the people? Return to text

  7. To save the nation we must reform and stop the production of 60,000 boy tramps and the half million of paupers and criminals which our horrible system has produced, which at the present rate of increase will, in fifty years, be a million and a quarter, and in a hundred years will probably exceed FOUR MILLIONS. I see no measures but those I propose that will save us from this terrible condition. They will not be adopted in time to prevent civil war, but they must be adopted afterwards. Return to text

  8. Succession and income taxes are now beginning to be considered. Two very feeble propositions have been brought forward. The Massachusetts Legislative Committee, on probate, reported a bill well adapted to be worthless—to discourage benevolence and keep property in the family by imposing a tax of five per cent. on property left by will, except when going to relatives or connections. Congressman Hall, of Minnesota, introduced a bill in the last Congress for an income tax, a fourth of one per cent. on incomes between two and three thousand rising gradually to one per cent. on incomes over $10,000. This very small business is not what was demanded by “The Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union” in the Ocala convention, which demanded the abolition of national banks and “the passage of a graduated income tax law.” These demands were reiterated by the last legislature of Missouri, in a resolution calling upon Congress to act upon them, and pledging the legislature to enforce the farmers’ demand as far as in their power. North Carolina, too, has adopted the Alliance principles. The income tax will probably be a growing one—one per cent. will not be its maximum. The British income tax under Mr. Gladstone in 1885 was three and a third per cent. But this is mere child’s play, being about equivalent to a property tax of one seventh of one per cent. When seriously considered, the question will be between five, ten, twenty, and thirty per cent. Return to text

  9. The United Presbyterian in a recent issue says, “It appears that Dr. Briggs does not stand alone in the theological seminaries of the Presbyterian Church as a teacher of dangerous views of inspiration. Four of the professors of Lane Seminary have declared themselves as equally radical.” The Interior says, “The paper of Prof. Smith, of Lane, published in a pamphlet with that of Prof. Evans, goes much beyond anything that has appeared on the subject from Presbyterian authorship in this country.”

    At the meeting of the Alumni of the Union Theological Seminary, on the eighteenth of May, the newly elected professor of systematic theology, the brilliant Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke, D. D. (since deceased) made the following bold remark while defending Dr. Briggs: “If we cannot have orthodoxy and liberty, let orthodoxy go and let us have liberty. Liberty has always produced progress.

    In his sermon on May the 24th, Rev. Thomas Dixon, one of the Baptist clergymen of New York City, said: The heresy trial is a record of barbarism, a relic of savagery. It belongs to the crudeness, and ignorance, and superstition of barbaric times. It smells of roasting flesh.

    On the same Sunday the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst, of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, of New York, quoted the ringing words given above by Dr. Van Dyke, with his cordial indorsement. He continued to thus severely arraign the Orthodox brethren in the Presbyterian Church:

    “This question of inerrancy is not new. Calvin, Luther, and many others did not believe in the Bible’s inerrancy. If this is not according to the confession of faith—I don’t know whether it is or not—we had better square the confession with the truth rather than the truth with the confession. Let those who would prove that there are no mistakes in the Bible produce a cud-chewing coney, and then we will consider the question of inerrancy.

    If the Church is to go on in the way that some are trying to persuade us it ought to go, the sooner it gives up the ghost the better, to save the medical expense.” Return to text

  10. Dr. Philip Schaff, than whom there is no abler or more renowned biblical scholar in the New World, has in a recent paper in the New York Herald defended Dr. Briggs. That journal aptly says: In his paper, he defines in the most trenchant language, the apparent inconsistency of the New York Presbytery in practically avowing, eighteen months ago, the same principle for which Dr. Briggs, it declares, must now stand trial. He declares that the American Presbyterian Church has herself materially changed the Westminster Confession of a hundred years ago, and that this spirit of revision pervades the whole Christian world. Finally, he asserts that, as the theory of verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is not in the Westminster Confession of Faith, it cannot be demanded from any Presbyterian minister or professor, and warns churchmen that any attempt by the General Assembly to enforce an extra Scriptural and extra Confessional theory upon the Church will create a split worse than that of 1837. The Herald observes that:—

    “Dr. Schaff’s international fame as a church historian and theologian will compel the greatest respect from not alone the ministers of the Presbyterian church, but also from the clergy of all Christian churches.

    As early as 1845, he was tried for heresy in this country, and acquitted. In 1854, he represented the American German churches at the Ecclesiastical Diet at Frankfort, and received the degree of D. D. from the University at Berlin. In 1870, he accepted the chair of sacred literature in the Union Theological Seminary of this city. He is a member of the Leipsic Historical, the Netherland, and other historical and literary societies in this country and in Europe, and is one of the founders and honorary secretary of the American Branch of the Evangelical Alliance. In 1871, he was one of the Alliance delegates to the Emperor of Russia to plead for the religious liberty of his subjects in the Baltic Provinces.

    He was president of the American Bible Revision Committee, which was appointed in 1871 at the request of the English committee, and in 1875 was sent to England to arrange for the co-operation and publication of the Anglo-American edition. The same year he attended officially the conferences of the Old Catholics, Greeks and Protestants at Bonn, to promote Christian unity.

    Dr. Schaff was first president of the American Society of Church History, and is the author of a great number of historical and exegetical works, both in English and German, the latter having been translated into English.” Return to text

  11. Since writing the above the Assembly at Detroit has voted against the confirmation of Dr. Briggs by 440 against 59; thus, from a numerical point of view, Dr. Briggs is in the minority. This is by no means surprising, and I regard it greatly to the credit of the Assembly that, while they hold to the severe doctrines popularly known as Calvinism, they repudiate all the great liberal scholars who refuse to believe and teach conceptions of God which were unquestioningly accepted in a former age, but which the enlightenment of the present century shrinks from with unutterable horror. Unless Dr. Briggs proves a dishonest man and recants he must leave Union Theological Seminary, if that institution remains in the Presbyterian fellowship. Return to text

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