"For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee."
JOHN HAY.
"A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason, and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions." -PROUDHON.

10/1/17

The “Affirmations” of Free Religion.

Listening from time to time to the orators of Free Religion and reading occasionally the Free Religious journals,— or journal, perhaps we should say,— one discovers a certain assumption, put forward with a somewhat orthodox disregard of that much-vaunted Christian grace known as “humility,” to the effect that the true Free Religious liberal is not a merely negative creature, full of all manner of denial, but a person of truly positive and affirmative characteristics; in brief, that the small number of Free Religionists are easily distinguished from the vast herd of so-called liberals who have broken out of the old Evangelical enclosure by this simple sign: the former are builders; they no longer pass their unquiet hours in tearing down the tottering faith of the fathers; on the contrary, they consecrate their intellectual and religious energies all to the service of a new free religious civilization, of which the chief corner-stone is none other than that same spotless morality their Christian brethren have so long denounced as of no more worth than so many “filthy rags:” the latter,— the Tom, Dick, and Harry class,— which comes forth pell-mell, heaven knows how or when, from the four winds,— are simply and only destroyers; they lay waste, or would if they could, all that the ages, with infinite toil and sacrifice, have constructed, leaving but barren earth and howling wilderness to tell of their mighty deeds; they have no outlook into the future, showing them the fair and grand creations of a stately and imposing civilization; they are only intent on tearing down, tearing down, tearing down; they seem to say, “This is our mission, after us the devil.”

The words are ours, but the spirit that inspires them, as we said, is borrowed from the Free Religious teachers. It is the Free Religious estimate of liberal values. Our esteemed contemporary, the “Index,” is fond of often laying out the liberal its dots of differentiating color. It classifies and reclassifies, ever making up its new slate according to its conception of moral pennyweights, or the avoirdupois of spiritual or intellectual culture. And, of course, in strictest regard for that inherited Christian “humility” to which we have alluded, it magnifies the importance of that select and not numerous class of most irreproachable men and women whose sole decorous organ it is. All of which is, doubtless, as it should be, since there is not the slightest suspicion to be cast over its profound and utter sincerity.

Yet, all the same, in the interest of our common humanity, it would be quite defensible, in whomsoever might essay the task, to puncture, at least, with a cambric needle, the swelling bubble of this Free Religious positivism to which the finger of the “Index” so often and so lovingly points. And the simple defence would be that the aforesaid globular apparition is inflated with somewhat on which hungry human nature positively can not feed and long survive.

True, we are not greatly alarmed in view of any rapid spread of this rainbow-hued heresy, and doubt not it will collapse in due season of its own vacuous accord; but there are, as we know, a goodly number of most excellent and noble-minded people who have been led astray by the fascinations of its polished speech and the subdued glamour of its aestheticism, as well as by the claim to superior position amid the up-building forces of this our so needy and patiently-waiting world.

Therefore we speak. For their sakes,— if haply our words may reach ears that hear,— we gently bid them turn their eyes and behold the delusion.

What, then, we ask, is there to support the Free Religious claim to a positive or affirmative attitude?

To waste no words, we bluntly put our questions.

Free Religion no longer gives its time to denying, let us say: (1) the existence of the orthodox deity; (2) the atonement, or mission of Christ; (3) the future life of rewards and punishments; (4) the reality of one incarnate devil, who stole into Paradise and destroyed the bliss of our first parents, and since has been going about as a lion roaring and seeking whom he might devour.

Well, in the place of this, and of much more we might here restate, what does Free Religion affirm?

Does it affirm God in any shape? What affirmation stands instead of the rejected Christi’ What does it say affirmatively of the future life? And how does it dispose of that somewhat extended area of territory so long undisputedly occupied by his Satanic majesty, whom Milton was wont to describe as being in his own conceit “all but less than he whom thunder hath made greater”?

To put these questions is sufficient. Everybody knows Free Religion not only does not attempt to replace these old affirmations with new affirmatives; it glories, instead, in the profession that its constituent parts are all at sea in regard to them, drifting hither and thither at their own free will.

But now, by rapid movement, we pass to the ground Free Religion will claim it has occupied with a most determinedly affirmative state of mind,— to wit, to the ground of man’s moral life here upon earth. It has made the “earthward pilgrimage,” and planted itself strongly in the ethic realities of our present existence. In other word, it has reduced religion to a practical basis, linking it inseparably with world’s morals.

Well, far be it from us to deny that here is happy thought,— one which should find a place in the book and volume of everybody’s brain and heart. But the vital question is, has it done what it thinks it done?

One of the pet phrases of its organ has for some time been, “for supernatural, Christian morality we would substitute natural, scientific morality.” Strain your eyes now, good friend, whoever you are, and tell us just how far this process of substitution has proceeded. Awaiting your response, we fill time with our own report. Not a solitary new affirmative moral dogma has Free Religion reared. Possibly we are blinded and can not see, but to our honest vision there appears not one grand moral affirmation Free Religion has vouchsafed to stand its own peculiar property amid the roar and bustle of “denial” with which it is claimed the liberal air has been filled.

This is the decisive point at which we arrive. Has free Religion affirmed anything whatsoever in its own name as one of the new up-building forces of this our modern time? To our mind this is the answer which must come from fact and truth, “No, not one thing.”

Do we say this gleefully? No, by no means; but sorrowfully, yet not so much for the world’s sake, as for the sake and of the souls of the friends we count organized seriously and solemnly under the Free Religion banner.

The proof of what we say is not far or hard to seek. But the limits or our space now forbid more than the statement which follows: In every important case where Free Religion make a united affirmation, it is close to be observed that the Christian world makes the very same; that, therefore, Free Religion is affirming an old force and not a new one. Not that it must necessarily not affirm a thing because Christian do yet so affirm. Let no one mistake that for charge we bring. Its boast is that it is especially affirming new forces of higher civilization than any yet attained. But when we look for those new forces, they do not, by any affirmation Free Religion makes, put in an appearance.

Now, on the contrary, be it observed, on every new issue upon which mankind is to-day ethically divided, Free Religion is silent. The members of the body, for the most part, cling to the old, conservative side of the living problems that confront the world. Their affirmations are all for what has been, for what is, and for what ought to be.

This is the gist of what we propose to set forth in the next issue of Liberty.

9/30/17

Whilhelm’s Bouncing Boy.

The Emperor Wilhelm of Germany, better known among his subjects as “der alle Hengst,” has concluded at the ripe age of eighty-five that the modern drift of constitutional liberty is all wrong, and will soon lead his royal son to the regency with the notions of Charles I and Louis XIV in his hands wherewith to guide and rule young Germany.

If we mistake not, this bouncing boy will have a big job on his hands before the socialists get through with him. Already they have captured half the army, and, while Bismarck is at his wits’ end to conciliate the laboring masses), the mercantile and educated classes feel insulted at his protective schemes and absolutist tendencies. As if to maliciously overflow the cup of bitterness, Wilhelm now publishes his “rescript,” affirming the maxims of the old monarchists of the Middle Ages.

Well may the blind and infatuated royal cranks tremble at the approach of the day when these newly educated soldier-socialists shall refuse to shoot their fellow proletaires in the streets. In one hand the soldier holds the bayonet, on which is poised the last argument of kings; in the other, the socialistic manifesto disguised under cover of a patent medicine advertisement for the sure cure of the “king’s evil.” The bayonet will yet succumb to the king’s evil, and then where will be Wilhelm’s bouncing boy with the maxims of the Stuarts pasted upon the throne?

The German emperor, in putting himself on the same plane with the czar, similarly endangers his life. He may possibly succeed in making his ministers and officers alone responsible to him, but every royal imitator of the czar will find himself seriously liable, when it is too late, to be responsible to the first brave man who can reach him with a bomb of dynamite. Wilhelm’s bouncing boy had better bethink himself of these things before the old man dies.

In Memoriam.

Liberty has lost an apostle,— one of her most tried and true defenders, one of her most courageous soldiers, one of her most ardent advocates, one of her most devoted martyrs. Early in the evening of Wednesday, January 11, 1882, after a ten days’ prostration by a paralytic stroke, in Boston, the city which she loved above all others, Laura Kendrick breathed her last. Hers was a life, hers is a character, fit to be treated by the combined genius of the foremost of biographers and the foremost of novelists. In approaching them Liberty’s pen seems almost powerless. But it would be base ingratitude in a journal aiming to represent a cause which owes so much to her, if to her memory it should fail to pay the heartfelt tribute of a farewell word, however feebly spoken. Briefly, then, what was this life that is gone? what is this character that remains?

Laura Kendrick was born in Paris of English parents forty-nine years ago. Her father occupied a high position in the British navy; her mother belonged to the British nobility. She lived in Paris until the age of eight, reared amid all the advantages of wealth, comfort, culture, and refinement, and speaking only the French language. These eight years, similar in very few respects to any portion of her after-life, left a marked impress upon it. At their close her family took up their residence in Canada, bringing her across the ocean with them. Here she first acquired the English tongue and became assimilated to the English race. She was a strange, dreamy, imaginative, reverent child,— submissive, yet wayward; a family phenomenon, wondered at by all, but dearly loved. Coupled with her waywardness, which was born, not of perversity, but of conviction, her nature, though prone to fun and gaiety, had in it a marked element of serious romanticism. At the age of fourteen circumstances which cannot be related here called upon her for a decision which this combination of characteristics controlled, and the result was a separation from her relatives, which pride made permanent. Thrown on her own resources, she soon found her way to the United States, where, at first earning her living by her needle, she later became the wife of Harvey McAlpine, who had just abandoned his profession of clergyman of the English church in Canada for that of the law, and who afterwards became district attorney at Port Huron, Michigan, where they lived in happiness for many years. During thin period occurred that turning-point of her life without which it would have been of no interest to Liberty, for then and there it was that modern spiritualism wrenched her, as it has so many others, from a thoughtless acceptance of the dogmas of Christianity, and, by its innovating tendency rather than by any rationality of its own, brought her face to face with the tremendous problems upon which the interest of radicalism centres. The phenomena that made her its convert came through her own mediumship. What they were, under what circumstances they were produced, and how much they actually proved we cannot undertake to say; they were, at any rate, sufficient to convince her of the reality of a future life and the possibility of communication with those who have entered it. Whatever may be thought of the theory and phenomena of spiritualism,— and, considered in themselves, we certainly hold them in very small esteem,— every one who knew Laura Kendrick must admit the absolutely unquestionable sincerity of her acceptance thereof. Like all earnest recipients of a new gospel, she burned with zeal to spread it. The opportunity was not only brought, but forced upon her by a sad experience. Financial difficulties drove her husband to suicide, and she took the field as a lecturer. Here her public life began. And as we have already outlined that portion of her private life which was principally instrumental in the formation of her character, we shall refer but casually to the rest of it, since it does not concern the world. She rose rapidly into tho highest rank of spiritualist lecturers, developing a power of oratory capable, under pressure of appropriate circumstance, of piercing to depths of human feeling such as we have never heard sounded by the lips of any other woman. Increasing experience in the advocacy of spiritualism gradually taught her that, if it was to be of real value, it must become a religion of this world as well as of the next, and from the time that she first fully realized this she gave her principal attention to the cause of the suffering and downtrodden. No appeal from violated Liberty ever addressed itself to her in vain. Her responses thereto have been heard by hundreds of thousands from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, and the radical seed that she has sown has borne abundant fruit. Shortly after the war she went to California, where she started Sunday evening lectures in Maguire’s Opera House at San Francisco, which at once became exceedingly popular. Their novelty contributed not a little to their success, no female orator at that time having been heard in that part of the country. Through these lectures she exerted no small influence on public sentiment, and they became one of the institutions of the city. She eloquently pleaded the cause of oppressed womanhood, of the fleeced laborer, of the maltreated criminal. The San Francisco “Chronicle” pronounced her “the acknowledged leading champion of radicalism on the Pacific coast.” Those were the days of her highest prosperity. Money flowed freely into her treasury, and was as freely disbursed among the poor and the persecuted. She took no thought for the morrow, little dreaming that her devotion to truth would one day lose her the bulk of her supporters. Such a fate, however, was close at hand for her. In 1872 the famous free-love agitation was attracting the attention of the country. Mrs. Woodhull, its leader, had become the heroine of the New York wing of the woman suffragists, and had been chosen president of the spiritualists’ national body. Her praises were being sounded far and wide by prominent radicals. In the fail of that year she launched the Beecher scandal, and her pseudo-friends vanished like smoke. It was a severe test, and only a few stood it. Of these, one was Laura Kendrick, who had returned to the East a short time before. Heedless of consequences, she jumped into the breach, espoused Mrs. Woodhull and her cause believing in both, visited her in prison, carried her food, and, wherever she went, lifted her eloquent voice in behalf of the woman against whom nearly all religious, social, and political forces had united. Then began the fatal period of adversity which drove her to the grave. From that day her fortunes waned. The spiritualists, regardless of their debt to her, were the first to abandon her. Finally — unkindest cut of all — Mrs. Woodhull herself, whose duplicity she had least expected and deserved, turned and attacked her. But she struggled on valiantly, hopefully, never abating one jot or title of the truth. In 1874 she returned to San Francisco, where the labor agitation was just coming to the front. She plunged into it, body and soul. Another ruinous, glorious step. More friends fell off. The Pittsburg riots broke out, and she, with others, initiated the famous “sand-lot” meetings, which the foul-mouthed demagogue, Kearney, afterwards captured and debased. The cry went up that “the Chinese must go.” The persecuted became persecutors. She, ever faithful, championed the Chinese. This was not pleasing to the agitators, but she maintained her ground and struggled on. In 1878 she came back to the East,— to her beloved Boston. The anti-Comstock agitation was at its height. She arrived just as Mr. E. H. Heywood was about to be tried for mailing “Cupid’s Yokes.” At once she became a leader in the struggle. It seemed as if she was fated, during her later years, to run straight into the teeth of every social storm and bear the brunt of it. Mr. Heywood was sentenced and imprisoned. She went to Washington, and by her infinite tact and persuasive tongue procured his pardon from the president. Her reward for this deed of nobility and mercy was chiefly contumely and ostracism. And still she struggled on. But her sensitive nature was beginning to succumb under the heavy load of poverty, persecution, and slander. Disease began its ravages. She grew weaker and weaker. But never, to the very end, did she fail to answer any call if it was possible to maintain her feet. In 1880 she suffered an apoplectic attack and in 1881 a paralytic stroke, the latter being repeated but a few days ago with fatal effect. She lingered for ten days in an unconscious state, and then sank peacefully into her eternal sleep.

The central, predominant, towering characteristic of this brave woman’s nature was her life-long fidelity to sincere conviction. At whatever cost she stood for the truth as she saw it. The power did not exist that could make her retreat one inch Her slender body was ruled by an indomitable will that worked for righteousness. Next in importance came her singular purity. In thought and act her life was utterly clean. Many have been the attempts to stain her reputation, but her character remain as spotless as the freshly-fallen snow. She combined the refinement of aristocracy with the spirit of democracy. Given to violent likes and dislikes, she was tolerant of all, bore no malice, and was incapable of treasuring up ill-will. An almost unerring judge of human nature, she was always careful to revise her first judgment, if necessary, by subsequent experience. Her endurance was phenomenal. While able to improve prosperity to its utmost, she could bear up under adversity with a resistance seemingly out of all proportion to her strength. Her philanthropy was of the broadest, truest sort, taking in and aiding all who suffered before stopping to ask why they suffered. She had a quick temper, but a genial, sunny temperament. Hers was a tropical nature physically and morally, ill-adapted to cast winds of any sort. This, combined with her perfect manners, easy bearing, entire self-possession, unobtrusive modesty, and delightful conversation, made her a charming companion socially. She had her faults, of course, but they were petty ones, not worth considering now.

She has gone, we said above, to her eternal sleep. But her work lives after her, immortal in its beneficent influence, certain to go on forever. Many friends of Liberty owe their first radical impulse to the stimulation of her eloquence and example. She lives also in the grateful and loving memory of thousands who knew her privately, and in the hearts of her mourning husband and children and not a few grief-stricken friends. One of the latter, who dined with her just before her last sickness, writes to us: “I felt that day, when she left the table, she was going to her grave. Poor, aspiring souls that we all are, flickering and disappearing! A very noble woman, of whom the world was not worthy!”

Guiteau, the Fraud-Spoiler.

I What may become of Guiteau is in itself a matter of little consequence. He represents a very low type of humanity. Although he took of the leading figure-head of an unscrupulous conspiracy of political rogues, this, were he sane, would detract nothing from the cowardice and unjustifiability of the act, for which we have a detestation more sincere than that professed by the editorial and clerical hypocrites who have shed so many tears over the lamented president.

But, readily as we concede the atrocity of Guiteau’s deed, the taking of one man’s life by another without just cause,— that and nothing more,— we, nevertheless, are convinced that humanity owes Guiteau a debt of gratitude for a rare service which it will sometime be better able to appreciate. That service consists in his astonishing efficacy as a fraud-spoiler. Guiteau is the first man in the record of great trials who ever had a fair whack in open court at judicial liars and hirelings on the bench, legal thieves at the bar, and learned professional quacks and usurpers generally.

How well he has done his work it is needless to say. He sealed Beecher’s lecherous lips with one stroke. He demolished the minor legal and political upstarts with one slap. At his rejoinders the learned “experts” soon sickened of chewing their own words and attempting to demonstrate a knowledge of Guiteau’s mind on July 2 while the prisoner proved to them that they did not know their own minds for five consecutive minutes when testifying.

When a correct report of this trial is published, and read with a view to its “true inwardness,” it will prove a greater source of enlightenment than all the celebrated state trials ever recorded. It has already opened the eyes of thousands of the American public to the hollow humbuggery of professional hierarchs. It has done more to cheapen the status of titled frauds on judicial benches, in medical colleges, and in guilded offices generally than anything that has transpired during the century. It has stripped the mask from scores of representative pretenders, and shown the public that underneath their diplomas, learned titles, and scholarly uniforms the substance of even common sense is wanting. Of that part of Guiteau’s levelling career which covers the cowardly taking of the life of a fellow-man we share the common impulse of detestation, though not forgetting that the State which assumes the right to take his life is no less a murderer than he,— yea, more so,— since the State cannot put forward the plea of insanity. But Guiteau’s career as a leveller of professional fraud and a cheapener of their assumptions is simply splendid. He has proved a formidable “bear” in the expert market, and a few more such trials as his would send down professional stocks, fees, and salaries with a bound. A court of law is very much like its stater machine, the church. During service the accused party on trial, who by right ought to have most to say, is debarred in favor of the fee-takers. Happily, Guiteau has been a memorable exception, and he has taken magnificent advantage of his opportunities for usefulness. In this regard we think that no small portion of the American public would be willing to tender him a vote of thanks.

[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]

9/11/17

A Precious Pair of Pious Politicians.

Boston has a postmaster. His name is Tobey,— E. S. Tobey. He is a pious and holy man. For many years he has been a stalwart pillar of the Church. Of late years, since his official appointment, he has also been a not insignificant prop of the State. That Church and State in this country are separated more in theory than in fact thinking people generally understand. That political advancement treads close upon the heels of religious profession we have often noticed. That this fact is the explanation of Postmaster Tobey’s appointment to office we have always more than suspected. But we had never supposed that he would have the assurance, not only to publicly acknowledge his little game, but to boast of it and hold it up as a shining example to the rising generation. Nevertheless, that is just what he has done. About a fortnight ago a short paragraph in a Boston morning paper caught our eye, which briefly outlined a speech made the evening before by Postmaster Tobey before a Bethel Sunday School. This speech reminded us so strongly of a celebrated Sunday School oration said to have been delivered in the wilds of the West by United States Senator Abner Dilworthy that we asked a reporter, who heard Mr. Tobey, to write it out for us. He has done so, in words which he vouches for as substantially accurate. His manuscript furnished so remarkable a confirmation of our suspicions of plagiarism that we decided to print the two speeches side by side for our readers to compare for themselves. Accordingly, here they are:

Remarks of Postmaster E. S. Tobey, at the Bethel in Boston, before the First Baptist Mariners’ Sunday School, on the occasion of its forty-second anniversary, Sunday evening, January 8. Reported from memory by a professional reporter, who was present.

At the time the war of the rebellion broke out I had the honor to be the president of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Boston. Soon a plan was devised for calling a convention to take measures to provide for the dare of sick and wounded soldiers. I confess I did not think well of the plan, but I waived my own better judgment, hoping that, after an, the scheme might prove to be a good one, and wishing to do what I could to help along any good cause. I went to the convention in New York, was chosen one of Its vice-presidents, and in that capacity went to Philadelphia to aid in the good work, and from there to Washington, becoming acquainted with great men on all sides; and from there I went among the army, was introduced to General Grant, and as the result of that, without any solicitation on my part, I was appointed to the official position I now hold. All this honor and emolument unsolicited by me, is the result of my endeavor to do good,— in short, the result of my good act in taking pert in that convention. No one could have foretold this result, but it only serves to confirm what I have told you, that every good deed is sure to receive its reward, sooner or later.

Remarks of United States Senator Abner Dilvtorthy, during his canvass for re-election, before the Sunday School of the village church at Cattleville. Reported by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their work called “The Glided Age.”

“Now, my dear little friends, sit up straight and pretty,— there, that’s it,— and give me your attention and let me tell you about a poor little Sunday School scholar I once knew. He lived in the far west, and his parents were poor. They could not give him a costly education, but they were good and wise and they sent him to the Sunday School. He loved the Sunday School. I hope you love your Sunday School — ah, I see by your faces that you do! That is right.

“Well, this poor little boy was always in his place when the bell rang, and he always know his lesson; for his teachers wanted him to learn and he loved his teachers dearly. Always love your teachers, my children, for they love you more than you can know, now. He would not let bad boys persuade him to go to play on Sunday. There was one little bad boy who was always trying to persuade him, but he never could.

“So this poor little boy grew up to he a man, and had to go out in the world, far from home and friends to earn his living. Temptations lay all about him, and sometimes he was about to yield, but he would think of some precious lesson he learned in his Sunday School a long time ago, and that would save him. By and by he was elected to the legislature. Then he did everything he could for Sunday Schools. He got laws passed for them; he got Sunday Schools established wherever he could.

“And by and by the people made him governor — and he said it was all owing to the Sunday School.

“After a while the people elected him a Representative to the Congress of the United States, and he grew very famous. — Now temptations as sailed him on every hand. People tried to get him to drink wine, to dance, to go to theatres; they even tried to buy his vote; but no, the memory of his Sunday School saved him from all harm; be remembered the fate of the bad little boy who used to try to get him to play on Sunday, and who grew up and became a drunkard and was hanged. He remembered that, and was glad he never yielded and played on Sunday.

“Well, at last, what do you think happened? Why the people gave him a towering, illustrious position, a grand, imposing position. And what do you think it was? What should you say it was, children? It was Senator of the United States. That poor little boy that loved his Sunday School became that man. That man stands before you! All that he is, he owes to the Sunday School.

“My precious children, love your parents, love your teachers, love your Sunday Scbjol, be pious, be obedient, be honest, be diligent, and then you will succeed in life and be honored of all men. Above all things, my children, be honest. Above all things be pure-minded as the snow. Let us join in prayer.”

When Senator Dilworthy departed from Cattleville, he left three dozen boys behind him arranging campaign of life whose objective point was the United States Senate.

When he arrived at the State capital at midnight Mr. Noble came and held a three hours’ conference with him, and then as he was about leaving said:

“I’ve worked hard, and I’ve got them at last. Six of them haven’t got quite backbone enough to show around and come right out for you on the first ballot to-morrow, but they’re going to vote against you on the first for the sake of appearances, and then come out for you all in a body on the second — I’ve fixed all that! By supper time to-morrow you’ll be re-elected. You can go to bed and sleep easy on that.”

After Mr. Noble was gone, the Senator said:

“Well, to bring about a complexion of things like this was worth coming West for.”

As we pondered over these singular orations and the lessons to be drawn from them, we were involuntarily reminded of another instance of official promotion almost as remarkable. It is needless, of course, to say that we refer to the career of Sir Joseph Porter, K. C. B. And the thought occurred to us that it would be the rankest injustice for his well-earned fame to go down to posterity recorded and enshrined in the immortal verse of “Pinafore,” if the deeds and achievements of Postmaster Tobey were to remain unhonored and unsung. So we resolved to invoke the Muse,— with what result our readers now may judge:

E. Sanctimonious Tobey to the Youthful Mariners.

When I will an led, I readily learned
How the scales of popular prejudice turned;
That a sleek demeanor and pious tones
To secular success were stepping-stones.
So I shaped my course by such points as these,
And trimmed my sails for a worldly breeze.

[Chorus of Admiring Mariners.]
He steered so close to the wind, d’ye see,
That he’s now postmaster of a big cit-tee.

So I cultivated a saintly air,
“Arena in meeting” and “led in prayer,”
And the blood of the Lamb I utilized,
For it kept me pretty well advertised.
It was not strange I soon found my way
To tho head of the B. Y. M. C. A.

[ Chorus.]
He made himself so solid with the saints, d’ye see,
That he’s now postmaster of a big cit-tee.

With cunning hand I began to mix
My piety up with my politics,
And always figured on the party slate
As a highly moral candidate.
The wires pulled easily, greased with grace,
And hoisted me into a good, fat place.

[Chorus.]
He oiled the machine with santi-tee.
And he’s now postmaster of big cit-tee.

Moral.
There’s nothing so helps to win success
As a standard reputation for godliness;
For cheek and cont together, you’ll find,
Have a very strong hold on the public mind.
And it may be possible, if you try,
To become such it goodly, goody, good man as I.

[Chorus.]
Let us cultivate a holy hypocri-see,
And federal officeholders we all may be.

8/27/17

Appeal of the Nihilists.

Citizens,

We have been engaged for several years in the murderous struggle going on in Russia between the government on one side and on the other the men of spirit who have sworn an oath to deliver their country from the despotism which is crushing it.

From day to day the struggle takes on greater proportions and the number of victims consequently increases. The scaffold, the galleys, banishment, and exile by administrative measures seek their prey in all classes of Russian society. The beneficiaries of fortune, as well as the working people and the peasantry; fall under the blows of governmental persecution, and among the latter how many laborers who were the sole support of their families! Shall these victims of the struggle for liberty be viewed with less interest than the widows and orphans left by wars instituted by States? Are the miseries and misfortunes engendered by this struggle less entitled to our sympathies? For a long time the groups tried to relieve these ever-increasing sufferings; but, few in number and deficient in organization, the committees were unable to perform this duty in a manner at all satisfactory.

There has now been established in Russia a Society of the Red Cross of the Will of the People, concentrating in itself the activity of all the groups of this class which preceded it. Its name explains the special object of its work. Just as, on the battle-field, the nurses and doctors of the Red Cross of Geneva pick up the fallen and dress their wounds, so on this blood-stained land of Russia the new Society proposes to care for those wounded in the warfare now being waged in Russia in the name of the Will of the People, and to rush to the aid, without distinction of party or profession of faith, of all those who have suffered in the struggle for liberty of speech, thought, and human development.

It appeals to the sympathies of foreigners as well us to those of the Russians themselves, and counts on the support of all who take to heart the sufferings engendered by the struggles of liberty, in whatever country they present themselves, and who are ready to extend a helping hand to the self-sacrificing, whatever their nationality. To this end the central committee of the Society has appointed two persons to organize a foreign section and receive the sums contributed to the work. These delegates are citizeness Vera Sassulitch and citizen Pierre Lavroff. In conformity to the end which the Society has in view these delegates propose:

1. To make direct appeal for subscriptions by circulating numbered lists, stamped and signed by the delegates, on which shall be registered the sums given by the donors. The latter are requested to deposit their contributions only in the hands of the delegates or of the persons supplied by them: with the aforesaid subscription lists, or at the offices of such journals as shall open a subscription in behalf of the Society.

2. To solicit the cooperation of journals friendly to our cause by inviting them to likewise open subscriptions for the benefit of the Society and to transmit to the delegates the sums thus collected.

3. To call, from time to time, in the principal centres where the Society exercises its activity, meetings of all its members residing in foreign lands. Every parson known to the delegates as having contributed to the work of the Society, either by subscription or personal effort, may attend these meetings, take part in the discussions which they occasion, and obtain such information as can be imparted without prejudice to the Society’s action.

4. To publish in the newspapers reports of the sums received and the manner of their employment.

5. To name, in case of necessity and for countries where there is no delegate, persons of trust, whose signature shall carry in those countries a weight equal to that of the delegates themselves.

Citizens, in addressing this appeal to you, we count on your devotion to the cause of liberty. The sufferings endured by our friends in Russia deserve the profound appreciation of all men of heart. Come to their aid, and thus give proof of that solidarity without which the cause of humanity can never triumph.

Vera Sassulitch,

Pierre Lavroff,

December 27, 1881.

Our European Letter.

[From Liberty’s Special Correspondent.]

London, January 1, 1882. — Whenever, in the trying midnight hours, doubt seizes me and I despair of ever seeing the victorious realization of the ideas for which we have abandoned everything,— home, family, fortune, social position,— then I look over to Russia, where the spectacle afforded is sufficient to at once disperse the nightmares of the most pessimistic. If ever history shall be written by other than minds corrupted by the influence of their social surroundings, the famous three hundred of Thermopylae and the ten thousand of Xenophon will be looked upon as examples of courage, self-sacrifice, and sublimity a hundred-fold less imposing than those afforded by the men and women who brave death and — what is more — a living sepulchre in the icy steppes of Siberia, not for themselves, not for their own aggrandizement, bus for others unknown to them, for the wretched masses whom they love and refuse to exploit after the manner of the bourgeoisie. One hundred and twenty thousand have been sent to Siberia during the last three years! Thirty-seven have been hanged! And yet each day contributes to our ranks double the number thus taken from as.

You probably have beard the rumor that Ignatieff’s position has been much shaken on account of the various signs of life recently exhibited by our party. Put it down as a fabrication. Ignatieff stands firmer than ever, for he is the only man who is willing to continue the policy of adherence to governing on purely Asiatic principles, which the czar regards as the only cure for the growing spirit of dissatisfaction and rebellion.

Even the last remnants of the appearance of justice have now been abolished. All trials hereafter are to be held in strictest secrecy, newspapers are forbidden even to mention the fact of a trial or the names of the accused, and executions are to be accomplished in the presence of no witnesses. All newspapers except the organs of the government are suppressed, and the icy silence of death reigns throughout the vast dominions of Alexander III.

Tchernichevsky’s place of exile has now been changed for the fourth time. You will remember that at the International Literary Congress at Vienna it was moved to petition the czar for the release of the unfortunate romancier. The czar acceded to the demand officially, but give orders the same day for the removal of the exile to the utmost extreme of northern Siberia, facing the ever-frozen sea, where he has been given into the custody of some savage Exquimaux, even Russian cossacks being unable to endure the climate. He himself, even when free, is completely dead for our purposes, as only his body survives.

In Germany social politics, since the Pyrrhus-victory of the elections, has experienced a little lull, though you may prepare to hear news shortly showing it to have been but the lull before the storm. The popular vote cast by the socialists in Germany was two hundred thousand less than at the election of 1878. I do not follow the custom of all parties by counting all the votes not cast as ours. I should be glad to know that even five per cent of them were due to the policy of deliberate abstention. Bebel was defeated for the fourth time, in Mainz, too, where Liebknecht withdrew in his favor, and where thereby a constituency already won for the Social Democrats has been lost again. It is said that Bruno Geiser, Liebknecht’s son-in-law, will resign his seat for Chemnitz in order to make room for Bebel.

It is a natural law that, once started down an inclined plane, the rapidity of the fall increases in a geometrical ratio. A few days ago, in a public debate in the Reichstag, Hasenclever, a Social Democrat, revealed the fact that Hohm, a member of the revolutionary party, was a delegate to the London congress. Hohm is a married man with five children dependent upon him, and, in consequence of this infamous denunciation, will be completely ruined. Penkert, another valiant member of our party, has been arrested, through the denunciation of these same men, at Vienna.

The European newspapers have been circulating alarming reports about the state of Karl Marx’s health. I can inform you that, though having been very deeply affected by the death or his wife a few weeks ago, he has completely recovered from the shock, and is once more able to continue his subterranean warfare against the Anarchists.

On Picket Duty.

George Chainey’s “Infidel Pulpit” now comes to us under the title, “This World.” It presents a very handsome appearance, and we are glad to hear that it is achieving an abundant success.

William W. Crapo, who represents the first congressional district of Massachusetts in the national house of representatives, is soon to report, in his capacity of chairman of the committee on banking and currency, a bill draughted by himself extending the national banking system for another twenty years. Mr. Crapo is popular among his neighbors, and enjoys the reputation of being an honest man. He may mean well now, but by this action he will constitute himself the champion of the most gigantic swindle ever perpetrated upon tin American people. He is said to have his eye upon the governorship of Massachusetts, and the Crapo “boom” set in some time ago. He is evidently shrewd enough to see that capital makes our governors, and is bidding high. It usually makes no difference to us who is governor, but if Mr. Crappo runs for the office, we confess that we should enjoy seeing Uncle Benjamin Butler beat him right out of his boots.

In another column of this issue is given our estimate of the life and character of an earnest fellow-worker recently taken from the ranks forever. It is written from our own standpoint, as it should be. But how far one who accepts the task of conducting an actual funeral ceremony is justified in flying in the face of the dearest beliefs of the deceased is another question, which we are driven to consider by the action of W. J. Colville, the Spiritualist priest chosen to say the parting words over Laura Kendrick’s coffin. He began the exercises by reading selections from the Bible which he know to be in direct conflict with the teachings of her life. “Blessed are the dead who die in Christ Jesus,” he began; “The Lord is my shepherd,” he continued; and so on to the end. Laura Kendrick did not die in Christ Jesus, and would have rebelled at the very thought. She died in her own glorious self. If, beyond the veil which separates us from the future, there is a judgment day when the damned are separated from the saved, Laura Kendrick, unescorted by any mediator, will walk straight, erect, and fearlessly into the presence of the great white throne there to receive her sentence, confident in the power of her own virtues to achieve her own salvation. Nor was the Lord her shepherd. Her rôle through life was that of a shepherdess. She belonged to no flock, but tended many. And if, the other side the grave, there are green pastures and still waters, our word for it she will discover them unaided, and load countless others to enjoy their benefits. Mr. Colville, by reading these passages, outraged her memory and insulted her friends, and nothing but the proprieties of the occasion saved him from being confronted with at least one rebuffing protest on the spot. He cannot plead ignorance; he knew her too well for that. We can view his conduct only as a feeble imitation cf the cowardly efforts long practised by the Christian church to capture the infidel dead.

8/24/17

Theology in the Light of Sculpture.

Two little girls discussing theology in a sculptor’s studio.

First Little Girl. — “We wasn’t made out of clay like that.”

Second L. G. — “Yes, we was.”

First L. G. — “How do you know?”

Second L. G. — “The priest says so.”

First L. G. — “How does he know? Was he there?”

Second L. G. — “Well, God was.”

First L. G.
— “How do you know that? You wasn’t there.”

Second L. G. — “Well, somebody was. Of course there was. Oh, ho, you silly girl! Of course somebody was.”

First L. G. — “Maybe — but — I don’t know as there was.”

— The thread of conversation was here cut by a shower of rain, and the girls scampered home.

A Second Chapter on Usury.

All statutory laws that interfere with voluntary trade between individuals must be wrong. Therefore, so-called usury laws cannot be defended on any principle of justice.

Again, all such laws are unwise, because they attempt to deal with results. O. W. Holmes says that “it is useless to medicate the symptoms.” If we wish to remove a wrong, we must find the cause, and attack that. History, experience, and reason are in accord in teaching us that usury cannot be regulated by any laws limiting the rate per cent.

The foundation of interest is debt. Therefore, when we all become Bible Christians and “owe no man anything,” usury will be no more. But it may be truly said that we can never get out of debt so long as usury prevails. Here seems to be an unsurmountable difficulty; but a lawyer of some note in this State told me that all this could be righted by less than ten lines of legislation. What we demand, and all we demand, is the abolition of class legislation.

Greenbacks do not constitute scientific money; for, while they stand to represent wealth, there is no tangible, actual wealth back of them to redeem them, in case the holders wish to realize, and close the transaction. For selling goods for money is only one-half of a transaction. All trade, let us remember, is exchanging goods for goods. But the point I wish to present here is this: while all credit money implies a debt, there is a vital difference between the greenback and the national bank note. The former does not constitute an interest-bearing debt; the latter does. Here we see hundreds of millions sucking interest from the productive portion of the people, for no good purpose and for no good reason. I hope and trust that the Greenback party soon become strong enough to remedy this matter.

Let us look at another class of interest-drawing debts, which can be easily wiped out. The people of any city can carry their city debt in their pockets in the form of credit money, just as well as to borrow the money and pay interest. Some of the Western cities are doing this. It is a hopeful indication.

Again, if the people can pay for all the railroads in the country every ten years and virtually give the same to the railroad corporations, can they not, pay for them once and own them, and thus stop all that drain of interest? But the great difficulty, after all, is to convince the live, active business man that interest is wrong in principle and bad in its results. The impossibility of meeting its demands ought to satisfy any thinking man that it cannot be right. One penny put at compound interest at six per cent would bankrupt the whole solar system in less than two thousand years, in all the planet were solid gold! Well, then, why does not interest eat us all up? Simply because A goes into bankruptcy to-day, B tomorrow, and thus through the whole alphabet many times in a year. In other words, interest necessitates failure.

If a man owns two good houses in Boston, he can live in one, and live on the man who lives in the other. Can that be just right? Look through all our cities, and see the land, the buildings, and the vast quantities of goods, on all which somebody is paying usury in the form of rent, profit, and interest. Another panic must settle a large part of those demands.

There are many reforms, improvements, and methods of education that demand our consideration, but we want money to work with. Isaac Butts, in the “North American Review” for January, 1873, said, in speaking of the various corporations: “They are wrongfully abstracting from the pockets of the people millions upon millions every month.” This must be reformed first.

Then?

Apex.

To “Apex.”

Dear Sir:— I see that you “cannot consider” what I say; yet you pronounce my statements superficial and my notions primitive with as much assurance as if you could consider them. I seek to know and follow the truth, but the “you’re another” argument, though much in favor among uncivilized folk, does not lead that way.

I am quite content to let my statements stand as they are for those who can consider them, and equally ready to acknowledge my errors when any one shows them to me.

Important truths often lie on the surface, and are missed by those who fancy themselves profound.

The fact that farmers’ mortgage debts largely increased in the State of Indiana in the year 1880 has no bearing whatever on my arguments, as you would have seen for yourself had you been free to consider them. The natural and rational explanation of the large increase of those debts is that the farmers found it profitable to borrow. Those Indiana people are not such fools as to add fourteen million dollars to their indebtedness in one year, if they did not find it pay to do so.

Among primitive peoples there was no individual ownership of land, no money, no money-lending, and I believe we shall some day resemble them in those respects; but the coming of that day will not, I venture to think, be hastened by the primitive method of calling names, or by trying to “take the second lesson first.”

Basis

Liberty.

Thy cause, O Liberty! can never fail.

Whether by foes o’erwhelmed or friends betrayed.

Then be its advocates of naught afraid;

As God is true, they surely shall prevail.

Let base oppressors tremble and turn pale;

They and they alone may justly be dismayed.

For Truth and Righteousness are on thy side arrayed,

And the whole world shall yet thy triumph hail!

No blow for thee was ever struck in vain;

Thy champions, martyrs, are of noble birth;

Rare honors, praises, blessings, thanks, they gain,

And time and glory magnify their worth.

A thousand times defeated, thou shalt reign

Victor, O Liberty! o’er all the earth.

An Unsatisfactory Reason.

My dear Mr. Tucker:— At length I see a reason, given by “Apex,” why the plough-lender is not entitled to pay for the use of his plough. It is that the use is of no value to the user. I think that “Apex” can have no knowledge of agriculture. If he had ever tried with his hands alone fit an acre of land for the reception of seed, he would hardly have such a reason. I do not see why a man would take the trouble to borrow a plough, if its use was of no value to him. I must wait for a better reason than this. “Apex” is not yet the apex.

Yours cordially,
J. M. L. Babcock

Henry George’s Errors.

Benj. R. Tucker:— The broadside which Liberty fired into the Henry George camp under the caption, “Ireland’s New Saviour,” is very exhilarating after reading to saticty the extravagant eulogy and fulsome panegyric bestowed so lavishly on that author by such journals as the “Irish World” and the New York “Truth,” About two months ago I examined “Progress and Poverty” for the first time, and was greatly astonished that such unqualified adulation have been heaped by radical reformers upon a treatise that is vulnerable in so many different points.

Wust George denominates “The Remedy” is so utterly absurd and ridiculous when closely analyzed that I decided to write a pamphlet exposing its fallacy and exhibiting to the cursory reader of that book the ignis fatuus the author has followed down to the present period.

You, too, have overlooked the fatal error in his taxation and revenue scheme. It is the destruction of land values by taxation for the purpose of making the land common property, and then proposing to make the defunct land values the source of a vast revenue system.

Do you perceive the incompatibility of the two propositions?

E. F. Boyd.
26 Second Avenue, New York, Nov. 16, 1881.

Right and Individual Rights.

Until somebody shall have formulated and demonstrated a correct science of justice, the way is ever open to constant confusion as regards the subject of right and rights. The columns of a newspaper are not the place to develop such a science; nevertheless, the matter is so important that we have determined, reconsidering our previously-announced purpose to drop it, to once more re-state our position. On several occasions our editorials have been sharply criticised by parties who are supposed to know something of the principles of Liberty; not that they would differ from us, if they carried in mind the distinction that must necessarily be kept in view in discussing the bearings of Liberty upon human acts, but simply that they have got into the habit of carelessly defining acts without reference to the sphere of the individuals acting.

The right to do a thing and the abstract right of a thing involve two essentially different principles. For instance, we have defended the right of individuals to make contracts stipulating the payment of usury, and should strike at the very essence of Liberty if we did not; but this defence of individual right by no means carries with it the defence of usury as an equitable transaction per se. In defending the right to take usury, we do not defend the right of usury. He who cannot see this has not managed the A B C of social analysis. One of our critics, who has twice challenged our defence of individuals who voluntarily choose to be parties to usury, strenuously defends “free rum.” Would he like to be accused of saying thereby that it is right, as a matter of principle, to drink rum inordinately? No, he is a severe believer in the wrongfulness of excessive rum-drinking. But he believes that the rum-drinker and the rum-seller have the right to execute a contract involving a practice wrong in itself, and that no third party has the right to step between them by force and dictate the terms of their mutual and voluntary transactions. This is exactly, and no more than, what Liberty affirms with regard to usury. Wherein, then, have we so grievously sinned?

To say that it is absolutely right to do a thing is to say that, to do it is to do that which will administer to the greatest possible good, when every possible element involved in the transaction is seen and weighed. But who possesses that sublime omniscience which can see and weigh every element, past, present, and future, that enters into a transaction? And even if one could, who is to vouch authoritatively that his weights, measures, and balances are correct? In this dilemma the theologians, of course, find an easy way out by setting up a pure fiction labelled “God” and stamped infallible. This trick, however, being “played out” with our critics, how do they propose to get at the absolute right of a thing? Is there, indeed, in practice, any absolute right?

Nor does it solve the matter at all to bring in the cost principle, and say that that is absolutely right which is done solely at the cost of the individuals who act. There is no mentionable act, not even the dropping of a pin in the middle of the Desert of Sahara, of which it can infallibly be said that it is done solely at the cost of the individuals acting. The loss of that pin as a necessary surgical instrument to treat the disabled camel may cost its life, and with it the lives of the whole party. We believe in the cost principle as a standard, and the best at our service, but its observance can never result in the universality of absolute right, since no man or set of men can ever attain to the omniscience of foreseeing the entire bill of costs, or on which side of the scales all the consequents will range themselves. In short, with our human limitations, absolute right practically has no existence.

The only way even to approximately solve the right and wrong of human acts is to leave every individual free to make such contracts with his fellows as to them seem good. The fact of how far given transactions are executed at the cost of others will soon be made evident in every case by the protest of those on whom the cost unjustly falls. If every individual in left free to make contracts and ever free individual in left free to make contracts and ever free to enter an effectual protest against transactions wherein the cost falls upon his shoulders without his consent, the consequent adjustments will reach the nearest possible approach to absolute justice. The monster that Liberty invites true reformers to help battle down and exterminate is the State, whose purpose is, first, to enforce unjust contracts through forcible defence of monopoly, and, second, to make effectual protest impossible by defending ill-gotten property from the natural retribution which attends tyranny and theft. Liberty, therefore, must defend the right of individuals to make contracts involving usury, rum, marriage, prostitution, and many other things which it believes to be wrong in principle and opposed to human well-being. The right to do wrong involves the essence of all Rights. Perfect liberty to contract for what is wrong is the shortest and surest way to abolish that wrong, provided the State can be made to step down and out and leave the wrong to its merits in a fair fight with no favors. The State, however, almost invariably takes sides with the wrong, and declares the advocates of a fair contest between right and wrong enemies of law and order. The right, losing its head in that most dangerous of superstitions known as patriotism, is stupid enough to take up arms against itself, and everything goes to suit tho oppressor.

Given the untrammelled right to take usury on the one hand, and the untrammelled right to protest that its cost shall not be shouldered by the innocent on the other, abolish all State interference, and then usury can work no harm to humanity. The minimum of its harm is measured by the total abolition of the State, and the last analysis usury is wrong, in practice, solely because the State is suffered to exist. To those who can not meet us on this ground as radical reformers we respectfully announce that we decline to waste any more time and type over their future shufflings.

A Statue to Proudhon.

A movement is on foot in France for the erection of a statue to Proudhon. It may surprise our readers to hear that Liberty questions the advisability of the project, and asks its initiators to reflect a little before going farther with it. That a journal brought into existence almost as a direct consequence of the teachings of Proudhon, and which lives principally to emphasize and spread them, should hesitate to give its sanction to the perpetuation of his memory by a public monument may be phenomenal, but is not, we think, unreasonable. There are men who make their own monuments. Of these Proudhon was one. He made his of stuff more enduring than bronze or marble,— namely, ideas. It is to be found inside the half-hundred and more marvellous volumes which demonstrate his loftiness of character, his mastery of philosophy, metaphysics, and social and political science, and his intelligent and profound acquaintance with literature, art, and history. These are capable of indefinite multiplication, and, if so multiplied, would do more than statues innumerable to enshrine the author’s memory in the popular heart. The first duty of his faithful disciples is to open these books to the eyes of the world. After that, build your monument, if you will. But we anticipate that the readers of his works will pronounce all other monuments superfluous, and will think twice before subscribing toward the erection of a statue in memory of him who wrote these words:

What is a great man? Are there great men? Do the principles of the French Revolution and of a Republic founded on the right of man admit of such? Together with the right of man we have recognized progress as a principle of the new society. Now, one of the effects of progress in a homogeneous society democratically organized is the continual lessening of the distance between man and man in proportion as the mass of mankind advances on the road of science, art, and right. In the thought of the Revolution and in the perspective of the Republic the idea of great men is nonsense; their disappearance is one of the guarantees of our deliverance. Those members of the Constituent who voted for the Pantheon, and those members of the Convention who carried thither Le Peletier and Marat, were arrant aristocrats, unless it was tacitly understood among them that one day the entire people should be gathered there; in which case it would have been simpler to have left us under the starry vault of heaven.

7/19/17

The Guiteau Experts.

The government experts, in Guiteau’s case, seem to be having things very much their own way; and will probably succeed in getting him hanged, provided they succeed in getting the jury to accept their opinions as to his sanity, or insanity. But will they do this? Are we to hang a man simply because a certain number of superintendents of lunatic asylums believe him sane? Are we to hang a man, upon mere opinions, the truth or reason of which cannot be judged of by common men? Do the lives of men, in this country, legally depend upon the mere judgments of any twenty, fifty, or a hundred men, who claim to know more than other men, as to what diseases, delusions, or impulses that strange thing, the human mind, is liable to, but who cannot so communicate the grounds of their opinions, as to enable other men to judge of their truth or error?

These men never saw, handled, or examined human mind. They can only observe its manifestations through the body; and can only guess, like other people, at the causes of its mysterious and erratic operations. Are men to be hanged on the strength of their guesses?

There are, we suppose, in this country, three, or perhaps five, hundred men, physicians, so called, who make a specialty of treating diseases of the human body, where there is but one who makes a specialty of treating diseases of the human mind. But although diseases of the human body are so much more extensively studied, and treated, and so much easier to be ascertained and judged of, than are diseases of the mind, we have very little confidence in the knowledge of these many physicians, as to the nature or causes of our bodily diseases. These physicians differ so much among themselves, as to the nature and causes of these diseases of the body, that we would not think of hanging a man on the judgments of any number of them, where the grounds of their judgments were so obscure that they could not be communicated to, or comprehended by, the minds of unprofessional men. In other words, we will not hang men, in this country, on any grounds whatever, that cannot be shown, to the common mind, the unprofessional mind, to be true and sound, beyond a reasonable doubt. We will not hang a man upon the mere secret, incomprehensible, or incommunicable reasonings of any number, or body of men whatever. Yet this is just what the government is attempting to do in Guiteau’s case. And it is attemting to do it on the mere opinions, or guesses of a few men only; these few having confessedly very little knowledge, except what is common to mankind in general, of the causes, or the phenomena of mental diseases.

But this is not all. So far as these experts succeed in communicating the grounds of their opinions, these grounds appear not merely fallacious, but preposterous. For example. They have each spent a months’ time, more or less, in the court room, and in the jail, examining Guiteau, to get the data, the facts, the symptoms, by which to judge whether he is, or is not, insane now. They thus impliedly confess that the question is, at least, an obscure and difficult one to themselves. And when they attempt to communicate their reasons to others, they utterly fail to show any valid ones for their conclusions; that is, any reasons that are intelligible and conclusive to common minds. Common minds know almost absolutely nothing as to the validity,or invalidity, of the reasons which these experts give for holding that he is sane now, or that he has been sane at any time since he bas been under their own eyes. If, then, Guiteau is to be hanged, on the testimony of these experts, he is to be hanged on faith, and not on reason; on faith in the simple opinions or conjectures of these experts, and not on reasons brought home to the comprehension and the understandings of the jurors themselves.

But even this is not all. These experts not only give their opinions that Guiteau is sane now, but also that he was sane on the second of July; five or six months ago.

Even if he is sane now, what do they know, or what are their opinions worth, as to whether he was, or was not, sane six months ago?

They apparently have no reason for thinking that he was sane in July, except that they think he is sane in January.

Would it not be just as sensible for them to say that, because he has no fever, or delirium tremens, on him to-day, therefore he could have had none on him six months ago?

This kind of reasoning implies that they hold that if a man was insane in July, he would undoubtedly have continued to be insane until January; or, what is substantially the same thing, that if a man is once insane, he will always remain so.

Now, this, we think, is very likely to be the rule in the asylums under their own control; that they seldom or never cure any body that comes under their care. And we ought to be thankful for this information; for it enables us to know where not to send our insane friends if we wish to have them cured.

On this theory of theirs, that once insane, always insane, the cases, in which they report the patients as “discharged cured,” must be presumed to be cases, in which the victims never were insane; but were simply sent to them on “the certificate of two physicians,” who knew just so much about insanity as it was necessary for them to know, or as they cared to know, in order to earn two or three dollars for certifying their opinions.

If these experts have really any reliable knowledge — beyond that of other men — as to the operations of minds diseased, or not diseased, why do they not give us some reasonable explanation of the conduct of Guiteau, in killing a man in open day, and before a multitude of people, and making no attempt to escape; and all this, when he had no personal malice towards his victim, and no rational prospect of gaining any thing by his death? Are such acts as this common to human experience? So common as to imply no disorder in the mind of the actor? Do all the experiences of all the Bedlams on earth explain such a phenomenon as this, consistently with the sanity of the agent?

When these experts are confronted with this question, they are confounded. Instead of telling us how a sane man could do such an act, they stammer out “wickedness,” “depravity,” “evil passions.”

But what “evil passion?” Was it the evil passion of avarice, or jealousy, or revenge, or any other particular “evil passion,” that is known to men to commit murder? No. It was evidently none of these. But it was (as thede experts would have us believe) simple “wickedness,” “depravity,” “evil passions.” They can give no answer more definite than that.

Such answers as these might perhaps pass in some schools of theology, which hold that a virus of simple “wickedness,” “depravity,” or “evil passions” was incorporated into the very nature of our first parents, and by them transmitted to all their posterity. But when they are offered in a court of justice, where a man’s life is at stake, they are not merely shameful, they are infamous. Men are not to be hanged, in this country, upon any theory that theologians or others may hold as to an ancient transaction between Adam, Eve, and the devil.

These experts have had thousands of insane persons under their care. Many of these persons have committed homicides, or other violent assaults. All of them, or nearly all of them, were supposed to be liable to commit acts dangerous to themselves, or others. The insanity of no two of them showed itself in the same way. But they were all saying and doing things, daily, that were just as absurd and irrational as was the act of Guiteau. And because their acts, whether violent or not, were so absurd and irrational, these experts have no doubt that the actors were insane. But when Guiteau does an absurd and irrational act, they hold that he is not insane, but simply “wicked,” “depraved,” under the control of his “evil passions.” And yet they can give no reasons — that are capable of being comprehended, end judged of, by common minds — why Guiteau’s absurd and irrational act is not as good proof of his insanity, as the absurd and irrational acts of others are of theirs.

Even the witches were not hanged on such absurd testimony as this.

The testimony of these experts tends to show how much science and reason are to be found among the keepers of our asylums for the insane. It tends to show that these men are either blockheads outright, and do not know that they are making fools of themselves, or that they are capable of committing, for money, or to advertise themselves as physicians for the insane, almost any possible crime against justice and reason. It tends to show that many of them, at least, are capable of all the crimes, against both the sane and the insane, with which so many of them have been charged, and of which some of them have no doubt been guilty.
[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]

Justice Gray.

The appointment of Horace Gray, as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, adds more weight than light to that bench. He weighs, we suppose, about two hundred and seventy-five pounds. But his light is not at all proportionate to his weight. We might as well expect to get light out of two hundred and seventy-five pounds of rump steak. Nevertheless, all this is just as it should be; for it is weight, and not light, that is wanted in Supreme Courts.

All governments, that assume to control their subjects arbitrarily, find it necessary to keep in their service some authority, or some tribunal, that shall be reverenced by the people, and that shall tell them that the acts of the government are all right, and obligatory; and that it is the moral duty of the people to obey and submit; that resistance or disobedience, on their part, is a great crime; a heinous sin against God and man.

In despotic governments, so-called, this service is performed by a State Church. The government gives great privileges, honors, and revenues to the Church, upon the condition that the Church will teach the people that the government is ordained of God; and that to disobey or resist it would be a great sin against God. In this way, the ignorant and, superstitions people are kept in subjection to an arbitrary power that robs, enslaves, and murders them at its pleasure.

We, in this country, have got rid of this superstition about the Church; and the consequence is that our government must have a substitute. And this substitute it finds in its Supreme Court. It sets up a court of its own; selects its own judges, pays them as long as they sanction all its doings; but impeaches and removes them, if they fail to sanction them.

These judges, of course, do sanction all its doings; they are appointed, and paid, and sustained for that purpose, and no other. They understand perfectly the tenure, by which they hold their places, and govern themselves accordingly. And the government, whenever its tyranny or usurpations become atrocious, and cause an outcry, points to the decisions of its Supreme Court, as if that settled the matter.

In this way, the judges of a Supreme Court, in this country, serve the same purpose as do the dignitaries of a State Church in other countries. And the judges can be as safely relied upon, by the government, in this country, to sanction all its doings, as the dignitaries of a State Church can be to sanction all the doings of the government, on which they depend for their privileges and revenues. The judges are an much part and parcel of the conspiracy, in the one case, as the priests are in the other.

In either case, the judges and priests are simply tools and confederates, employed by the government, to overawe ignorant and superstitious people, and keep them in subjection. They are simply weights, which the governments throw upon the people, to prevent their rising in rebellion against the oppressions which the governments practice upon them.

Now, Gray is just the man for a service of this kind. He has no doubt that the government is entitled to arbitrary, irresponsible power over the people; or that it is the duty of the people to submit blindly to every thing the government does. If, in any particular case, any question should be raised, as to the right or justice of any act of the government, he can tell you that, for hundreds of years back, governments have been doing the same things, or other things equally outrageous; but that the people had no alternative but to submit; and that, therefore, they have no other alternative now.

Now, this is exactly what is wanted of a judge of a Supreme Court. And that is why we say that Gray is the right man for the place. And it is the only thing he is fit for. And it is the only use that he will ever be put to, as long as he remains a member of the court.

His associates on the bench will, of course, welcome him as a brother. And they will all enjoy their dignities, and salaries, as long as they sanction all the usurpations and crimes which the government practices upon the people, and no longer.

It is to be hoped that a machine, to be called Supreme Court, will sometime be invented, to be run by foot or horse power, and made to do the work now done by Supreme Courts — that is, to grind out opinions sanctioning every thing the government does. Then the services of such men as Gray and his associates will be no longer needed.

7/17/17

Light-headed Socialists.

The platform adopted by the convention of socialists which met in New York last week is as singular a heap of sociological bric a brac as could be well jumbled together. Such a ridiculous confusion of ideas easily sifts itself to no ideas at all. The key note of this remarkable pot-pourri is compulsion. This is not, however, very singular, since the socialistic machine, like every other which does not propose to stand on its own merits by voluntary assent, can only be run by extraneous force.

It is, indeed, astonishing that a convention of otherwise intelligent and well-meaning men should meet to denounce the present machine, and yet, in the same breath, set up another, with exactly the same despotic element in it that damns the first,— compulsion. Compulsory factory legislation today makes the protest of the pillaged operative nugatory. Compulsory legislation makes the great railways the deadly suckers of farm labor. Compulsory education makes the Colleges, the pulpits, and the newspapers the lick-spittles of capital. Yet, after denouncing these institutions as the agents of robbery and oppression, the socialists immediately set to work, not alohne to imitate their methods, but to revive them in infinitely more atrocious forms.

Take, for instance, compulsory education. Of course the new education under the socialistic regime will be socialistic education. The taxes to support it must be levied by force. The writer of this article does not believe such to be education, but worse than ignorance. He would consider that he was insulting and degrading his children to send them to school under such a system. Now, do the socialists propose to have the audacity to compel him to pay for this education, whether he wants it or not? If so, then their denunciation of the present order is mockery, and they are worse enemies to progress than those whom they call to account.

This absurd craze of “nationalizing” things is the most impertinent lunacy that could make reform ridiculous. In last week’s “Irish World” William Howard comes out with a scheme for “free travel.” The government, which to-day alone puts travelers at the mercy of usurious corporations, is asked to buy up the railroads and thereby exterminate the only element, competition, which keeps the price of a ride from Boston to Chicago from being one hundred dollars instead of ten dollars. “But the government must run the roads at cost!” cries Mr. Howard. Whose cost? The government’s cost, of course; and yet, if Mr. Howard would only be at the pains to consult the facts, he would know beyond all cavil that the cost of running things by government is almost always above that of the most extortionate corporations. Thieving as are the great railroad monopolies to-day, this government, even though it should set to work in dead earnest to run the roads at cost, could not do it at the cost which is imposed upon the travelling public by the corporations. The most expensive public service of its kind is the national postal service, so often cited by the Socialists and Greenbackers as a guiding “star route” to perfection. A corporation now stands ready to do that service, under the most substantial guarantees and even in governmental handcuffs, at far less cost and more efficiently, whenever it shall be permitted to do so.

We are not generally supposed to be remarkably wanting in the virtue of patience, but patience with this over-repeated idiocy of “nationalization” is one of the things that puts us most severely to the test. Guiteau’s attempt to popularize the taking-off of governmental figure-heads by “theocratizing” murder is ridiculous enough, but has the whole weight of inspiration and religious logic on its side, and his arguments challenge the respect of the learned, the wise, and the pious. The socialists, more absurd than he, are in a fair way to yet demand the “nationalization” of love, lunacy, and common sense, backed by compulsory taxation. As yet we have got no farther into their logic than to concede that “free travel” to the lunatic asylums would not be altogether objectionable.

About Progressive People.

A new street in Paris is to be named after Littré, the great positivist and lexicographer.

The artist Collier has just completed an excellent and life-like portrait of Charles Darwin.

The name of Thoreau has become extinct in this country, it is said, by the dead at Bangor, Me., of Miss Martha Thoreau, an aunt of the late Henry D. Thoreau. The latter was the last male descendant of a large family.

A great-great-grandson of Danton has subscribed five florins towards the monument which is to be erected to his famous ancestor. This descendant of the member of the Convention is Aloys Emile Danton, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army.

It is reported that Karl Marx is dying. His wife, whose death was chronicled in our last issue, was a woman of brilliant talents, descended from an aristocratic and extremely orthodox Prussian family, allied, it is said, to the Scottish house o Agryll.

Professor Huxley had a cook that got so drunk and raised such a row in his house that the police were called. As she was hustled through the yard she let her tongue fly, and gave the professor a blast, of which the only words that could be made out were to the effect that he was a "damn atheist."

The remarkable types of Nihilist women are well known. Vera Sassulitch, whose shot inaugurated terrorism, was the most modest of her sex. In the court-room she blushed when she perceived any one staring at her. Lydy Figner, a charming lady and an accomplished singer, got her eight years in the Siberian mines by sitting in a parlor and playing the piano for weary hours, trying to drown the noise made by the secret printing press in the next room. Anna Lebedeff, a priest's daughter, in the disguise of the wife of a switchman, lived in a watch-house on the railroad, and was found on a box filled with dynamite, chatting with the switchman. Sophy Perovskaya, the daughter of a general and senator, who declined the dignity of maid of honor to the empress and entered the Nihilist fraternity, did the Moscow mine and directed the late Czar's assassination. Sophy Bardin, who was welcomed as a shining star in the literary horizon, wrote a few poems which, though gems of Russian literature, were treasonable, and the singing of them is a State crime.

It was generally supposed that the charges made by Henri Rochefort against M. Roustan in regard to Tunisian affairs had got the famous radical into trouble, but to Tunisian affairs had got the famous radical into trouble, but on the contrary he, alone of those involved, has come out with flying colors. In the suit brought by Roustan, Rochefort was acquitted on every point. The New York "Tribune" thus describes the defendant's appearance in court: "Rochefort's boldness in refusing to challenge the jury told in his favor. His attitude in court was also prepossessing. Spectators, and one may surmise jurymen as well, observed that his air was distingué. He was dressed by a fashionable English tailor, and did not look in any wise foppish. There was frankness in his manner, in his answers, explanations, and observations. He might have been mistaken, he might have been unfairly violent; but his good fail was patent. Gatineau, his counsel, made a point by alluding to all the misery that Rochefort's intrepidity as a journalist had brought upon him. He had never used his pen to accomplish mercenary ends, and went into the war against finacio-politicians with perfectly clean hands. Rochelfort's face is not nearly so fat as it was when he came back from exile. It now looks like a skill carved in old yellow ivory, with two coals of fire to serve as eyes. The flash of the coals appears to light up the caverns at the remote ends of which they are placed. Thick, frizzly, pepper-and-salt hair covers the head, and is arranged in a curious tuft at the coronal region. Rochefort showed presence of mind. His questions were full of meaning, and opened wide vistas which the presiding judge wished to keep shut to the jury. The Lanternier occasionally let fall a droll observation, which, in every case, had the effect of throwing a strange light upon the case. His voice is as peculiar as his head and face. It is singularly distinct. The chin acts with a chopping motion when he speaks. Gleams and glances of the flashing eyes italicize. As his chest is of enormous girth, what he says is heard a long way off. Clemenceau says that Rochefort is wider around the shoulders than any other Frenchman that he knows."