"TO THE GENERATION KNOCKING AT THE DOOR."
By John Davidson.
Break—break it open; let the knocker rust;
Consider no "shalt not," nor no man's "must";
And, being entered, promptly take the lead,
Setting aside tradition, custom, creed;
Nor watch the balance of the huckster's beam;
Declare your hardiest thought, your proudest dream;
Await no summons; laugh at all rebuff;
High hearts and you are destiny enough.
The mystery and the power enshrined in you
Are old as time and as the moment new;
And none but you can tell what part you play,
Nor can you tell until you make assay,
For this alone, this always, will succeed,
The miracle and magic of the deed.
OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS.
Whoever severs himself from Mother Earth and her flowing sources of life goes into exile. A vast part of civilization has ceased to feel the deep relation with our mother. How they hasten and fall over one another, the many thousands of the great cities; how they swallow their food, everlastingly counting the minutes with cold hard faces; how they dwell packed together, close to one another, above and beneath, in dark gloomy stuffed holes, with dull hearts and insensitive heads, from the lack of space and air! Economic necessity causes such hateful pressure. Economic necessity? Why not economic stupidity? This seems a more appropriate name for it. Were it not for lack of understanding and knowledge, the necessity of escaping from the agony of an endless search for profit would make itself felt more keenly.
Must the Earth forever be arranged like an ocean steamer, with large, luxurious rooms and luxurious food for a select few, and underneath in the steerage, where the great mass can barely breathe from dirt and the poisonous air? Neither unconquerable external nor internal necessity forces the human race to such life; that which keeps it in such condition are ignorance and indifference.
Since Turgenieff wrote his "Fathers and Sons" and the "New Generation," the appearance of the Revolutionary army in Russia has changed features. At that time only the intellectuals and college youths, a small coterie of idealists, who knew no distinction between class and caste, took part in the tremendous work of reconstruction. The revolutionist of those days had delicate white hands, lots of learning, æstheticism and a good portion of nervousness. He attempted to go among the people, but the people understood him not, for he did not speak the people's tongue. It was a great effort for most of those brave ones to overcome their disgust at the dirt and dense ignorance they met among the peasants, who absolutely lacked comprehension of new ideas; therefore, there could be no understanding between the intellectuals, who wanted to help, and the sufferers, who needed help. These two elements were brought in closer touch through industrialism. The Russian peasant, robbed of the means to remain on his soil, was driven into the large industrial centres, and there he learned to know those brave and heroic men and women who gave up their comfort and career in their efforts for the liberation of their people.
These ideas that have undergone such great changes in Russia within the last decade should serve as good material for study for those who claim the Russian Revolution is dead.
Nicholas Tchaykovsky, one of Russia's foremost workers in the revolutionary movement, and one who, through beauty of character, simplicity of soul and great strategical ability, has been the idol of the Russian revolutionary youth for many years, is here as the delegate of the Russian Revolutionary Socialist party, to raise funds for a new uprising. He was right when he said, at the meeting in Grand Central Palace, "The Russian Revolution will live until the decayed and cowardly regime of tyranny in Russia is rooted out of existence."
The French have a new President. Loubet was succeeded by Fallières. The father of the new one was a great gormandizer of Pantagruelian dimensions. He died of overloading his stomach. The son made his career like a cautious upstart. He is well enough acquainted with himself to know that he is not a Machiavelli. Therefore, he does not boast of his sagacity, but rather of his integrity. A politician is irresistible to a crowd when he cries out to them: "My opponents express the suspicion that I am a numskull. I do not care to argue the point with them, but this I will say by the way of explanation, fellow citizens, that I am a thoroughly honest man to the very roots of my hair." By this method one can attain the presidency of a republic.
As Secretary of the Interior, Fallières caused the arrest of the Socialist poet, Clovis Hugues. At another time he declared: "As long as I am in office, I will not tolerate the red flag on the open street."
The French bourgeois have found in Fallières their fitting man of straw for seven years.
The only genuine Democrat of these times is Death. He does not admit of any class distinctions. He mows down a proletarian and a Marshall Field with the same scythe. How imperfectly the world is arranged. It should be possible to shift the bearing of children and the dying from the rich to the poor—for good pay, of course.
Whosoever believes that the law is infallible and can bring about order in the chaotic social conditions, knows the curative effect of law to the minutest detail. The question how things might be improved is met with this reply: "All criminals should be caught in a net like fish and put away for safe keeping, so that society remains in the care of the righteous." Hallelujah!
People with a capacity to judge for themselves think differently. Mr. Charlton T. Lewis, President of the National Prison Association, maintains:
"Our county jails everywhere are the schools and colleges of crime. In the light of social science it were better for the world if every one of them were destroyed than that this work should be continued. Experience shows that the system of imprisonment of minor offenders for short terms is but a gigantic measure for the manufacture of criminals. Freedom, not confinement, is the natural state of man, and the only condition under which influences for reformation can have their full efficiency.... Prison life is unnatural at best. Man is a social creature. Confinement tends to lower his consciousness of dignity and responsibility, to weaken the motives which govern his relations to his race, to impair the foundations of character and unfit him for independent life. To consign a man to prison is commonly to enrol him in the criminal class.... With all the solemnity and emphasis of which I am capable, I utter the profound conviction, after twenty years of constant study of our prison population, that more than nine-tenths of them ought never to have been confined."
Government and authority are responsible for the conditions in the western mining districts.
Is not the existence of government considered as a necessity on the grounds that it is here to maintain peace, law and order? This is an oft-repeated song.
Let us see how the government of Colorado has lived up to its calling within the last few years. It has permitted that the labor protective laws that have passed the legislature should be broken and trampled upon by the mine owners.
The money powers care little for the eight-hour law, and when the mine workers insisted upon keeping that law, the authorities of Colorado immediately went to the rescue of the exploiters. Not only were police and soldiers let loose upon the Western Federation of Miners; but the government of Colorado permitted the mine owners to recruit an army to fight the labor organizations. Hirelings were formed into a so-called citizens' committee, that inaugurated a reign of terror. These legal lawbreakers invaded peaceful homes during the day and night, and those that were in the least suspected of belonging to or sympathizing with the Western Federation of Miners were torn out of bed, arrested and dragged off to the bull pen, or transported into the desert, without food or shelter, many miles from other living beings. Some of these victims were crippled for life and died as a result thereof.
When it became known that the W. F. M. continued to stand erect, regardless of brutal attacks, it was decided to strike the last violent blow against it.
Orchard, the man of honor, confessed, and the lawbreakers appealed to the law against Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone.
This time the government did not hesitate. The eight-hour and protective labor law was too insignificant to enforce, but to bring the officers of the W. F. M. to account, that, of course, is the duty and the function of the State.
There is not the slightest hope that the authorities who, for a number of years, have permitted the violation of the law, will be put on trial, but the crime they have perpetrated is a weighty argument in favor of those who maintain that the State is not an independent institution, but a tool of the possessing class.
Many radicals entertain the queer notion that they cannot arrange their own lives, according to their own ideas, but that they have to adapt themselves to the conditions they hate, and which they fight in theory with fire and sword.
Anything rather than arouse too much public condemnation! The lives they lead are dependent upon the opinion of the Philistines. They are revolutionists in theory, reactionists in practice.
The words of Louis XIV, "I am the State," have been taken up as a motto by the American policeman. One of the New York papers contains the following account:
"In discharging some seventy prisoners in the Jefferson Market Police Court yesterday morning, the Magistrate said to the police in charge of the cases: 'I am amazed that you men should bring these prisoners before me without a shred of evidence on which they can be held.'"
Such is the blessing of this republic. We are not confronted by one czar of the size of an elephant, but by a hundred thousand czars, as small as mosquitoes, but equally disagreeable and annoying.
Friends of Mother Earth in various Western cities have proposed a lecture tour in behalf of the magazine. So far I have heard from Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago. Those of other cities who wish to have me lecture there, will please communicate with me as to dates at once. The tour is to begin May 12th and last for a month or six weeks.
Box 217, Madison Square Station.
THE CHILD AND ITS ENEMIES.
By Emma Goldman.
Is the child to be considered as an individuality, or as an object to be moulded according to the whims and fancies of those about it? This seems to me to be the most important question to be answered by parents and educators. And whether the child is to grow from within, whether all that craves expression will be permitted to come forth toward the light of day; or whether it is to be kneaded like dough through external forces, depends upon the proper answer to this vital question.
The longing of the best and noblest of our times makes for the strongest individualities. Every sensitive being abhors the idea of being treated as a mere machine or as a mere parrot of conventionality and respectability, the human being craves recognition of his kind.
It must be borne in mind that it is through the channel of the child that the development of the mature man must go, and that the present ideas of the educating or training of the latter in the school and the family—even the family of the liberal or radical—are such as to stifle the natural growth of the child.
Every institution of our day, the family, the State, our moral codes, sees in every strong, beautiful, uncompromising personality a deadly enemy; therefore every effort is being made to cramp human emotion and originality of thought in the individual into a straight-jacket from its earliest infancy; or to shape every human being according to one pattern; not into a well-rounded individuality, but into a patient work slave, professional automaton, tax-paying citizen, or righteous moralist. If one, nevertheless, meets with real spontaneity (which, by the way, is a rare treat,) it is not due to our method of rearing or educating the child: the personality often asserts itself, regardless of official and family barriers. Such a discovery should be celebrated as an unusual event, since the obstacles placed in the way of growth and development of character are so numerous that it must be considered a miracle if it retains its strength and beauty and survives the various attempts at crippling that which is most essential to it.
Indeed, he who has freed himself from the fetters of the thoughtlessness and stupidity of the commonplace; he who can stand without moral crutches, without the approval of public opinion—private laziness, Friedrich Nietzsche called it—may well intone a high and voluminous song of independence and freedom; he has gained the right to it through fierce and fiery battles. These battles already begin at the most delicate age.
The child shows its individual tendencies in its plays, in its questions, in its association with people and things. But it has to struggle with everlasting external interference in its world of thought and emotion. It must not express itself in harmony with its nature, with its growing personality. It must become a thing, an object. Its questions are met with narrow, conventional, ridiculous replies, mostly based on falsehoods; and, when, with large, wondering, innocent eyes, it wishes to behold the wonders of the world, those about it quickly lock the windows and doors, and keep the delicate human plant in a hothouse atmosphere, where it can neither breathe nor grow freely.
Zola, in his novel "Fecundity," maintains that large sections of people have declared death to the child, have conspired against the birth of the child,—a very horrible picture indeed, yet the conspiracy entered into by civilization against the growth and making of character seems to me far more terrible and disastrous, because of the slow and gradual destruction of its latent qualities and traits and the stupefying and crippling effect thereof upon its social well-being.
Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other.
The ideal of the average pedagogist is not a complete, well-rounded, original being; rather does he seek that the result of his art of pedagogy shall be automatons of flesh and blood, to best fit into the treadmill of society and the emptiness and dulness of our lives. Every home, school, college and university stands for dry, cold utilitarianism, overflooding the brain of the pupil with a tremendous amount of ideas, handed down from generations past. "Facts and data," as they are called, constitute a lot of information, well enough perhaps to maintain every form of authority and to create much awe for the importance of possession, but only a great handicap to a true understanding of the human soul and its place in the world.
Truths dead and forgotten long ago, conceptions of the world and its people, covered with mould, even during the times of our grandmothers, are being hammered into the heads of our young generation. Eternal change, thousandfold variations, continual innovation are the essence of life. Professional pedagogy knows nothing of it, the systems of education are being arranged into files, classified and numbered. They lack the strong fertile seed which, falling on rich soil, enables them to grow to great heights, they are worn and incapable of awakening spontaneity of character. Instructors and teachers, with dead souls, operate with dead values. Quantity is forced to take the place of quality. The consequences thereof are inevitable.
In whatever direction one turns, eagerly searching for human beings who do not measure ideas and emotions with the yardstick of expediency, one is confronted with the products, the herdlike drilling instead of the result of spontaneous and innate characteristics working themselves out in freedom.
"No traces now I see
Whatever of a spirit's agency.
'Tis drilling, nothing more."
These words of Faust fit our methods of pedagogy perfectly. Take, for instance, the way history is being taught in our schools. See how the events of the world become like a cheap puppet show, where a few wire-pullers are supposed to have directed the course of development of the entire human race.
And the history of our own nation! Was it not chosen by Providence to become the leading nation on earth? And does it not tower mountain high over other nations? Is it not the gem of the ocean? Is it not incomparably virtuous, ideal and brave? The result of such ridiculous teaching is a dull, shallow patriotism, blind to its own limitations, with bull-like stubbornness, utterly incapable of judging of the capacities of other nations. This is the way the spirit of youth is emasculated, deadened through an over-estimation of one's own value. No wonder public opinion can be so easily manufactured.
"Predigested food" should be inscribed over every hall of learning as a warning to all who do not wish to lose their own personalities and their original sense of judgment, who, instead, would be content with a large amount of empty and shallow shells. This may suffice as a recognition of the manifold hindrances placed in the way of an independent mental development of the child.
Equally numerous, and not less important, are the difficulties that confront the emotional life of the young. Must not one suppose that parents should be united to children by the most tender and delicate chords? One should suppose it; yet, sad as it may be, it is, nevertheless, true, that parents are the first to destroy the inner riches of their children.
The Scriptures tell us that God created Man in His own image, which has by no means proven a success. Parents follow the bad example of their heavenly master; they use every effort to shape and mould the child according to their image. They tenaciously cling to the idea that the child is merely part of themselves—an idea as false as it is injurious, and which only increases the misunderstanding of the soul of the child, of the necessary consequences of enslavement and subordination thereof.
As soon as the first rays of consciousness illuminate the mind and heart of the child, it instinctively begins to compare its own personality with the personality of those about it. How many hard and cold stone cliffs meet its large wondering gaze? Soon enough it is confronted with the painful reality that it is here only to serve as inanimate matter for parents and guardians, whose authority alone gives it shape and form.
The terrible struggle of the thinking man and woman against political, social and moral conventions owes its origin to the family, where the child is ever compelled to battle against the internal and external use of force. The categorical imperatives: You shall! you must! this is right! that is wrong! this is true! that is false! shower like a violent rain upon the unsophisticated head of the young being and impress upon its sensibilities that it has to bow before the long established and hard notions of thoughts and emotions. Yet the latent qualities and instincts seek to assert their own peculiar methods of seeking the foundation of things, of distinguishing between what is commonly called wrong, true or false. It is bent upon going its own way, since it is composed of the same nerves, muscles and blood, even as those who assume to direct its destiny. I fail to understand how parents hope that their children will ever grow up into independent, self-reliant spirits, when they strain every effort to abridge and curtail the various activities of their children, the plus in quality and character, which differentiates their offspring from themselves, and by the virtue of which they are eminently equipped carriers of new, invigorating ideas. A young delicate tree, that is being clipped and cut by the gardener in order to give it an artificial form, will never reach the majestic height and the beauty as when allowed to grow in nature and freedom.
When the child reaches adolescence, it meets, added to the home and school restrictions, with a vast amount of hard traditions of social morality. The cravings of love and sex are met with absolute ignorance by the majority of parents, who consider it as something indecent and improper, something disgraceful, almost criminal, to be suppressed and fought like some terrible disease. The love and tender feelings in the young plant are turned into vulgarity and coarseness through the stupidity of those surrounding it, so that everything fine and beautiful is either crushed altogether or hidden in the innermost depths, as a great sin, that dares not face the light.
What is more astonishing is the fact that parents will strip themselves of everything, will sacrifice everything for the physical well-being of their child, will wake nights and stand in fear and agony before some physical ailment of their beloved one; but will remain cold and indifferent, without the slightest understanding before the soul cravings and the yearnings of their child, neither hearing nor wishing to hear the loud knocking of the young spirit that demands recognition. On the contrary, they will stifle the beautiful voice of spring, of a new life of beauty and splendor of love; they will put the long lean finger of authority upon the tender throat and not allow vent to the silvery song of the individual growth, of the beauty of character, of the strength of love and human relation, which alone make life worth living.
And yet these parents imagine that they mean best for the child, and for aught I know, some really do; but their best means absolute death and decay to the bud in the making. After all, they are but imitating their own masters in State, commercial, social and moral affairs, by forcibly suppressing every independent attempt to analyze the ills of society and every sincere effort toward the abolition of these ills; never able to grasp the eternal truth that every method they employ serves as the greatest impetus to bring forth a greater longing for freedom and a deeper zeal to fight for it.
That compulsion is bound to awaken resistance, every parent and teacher ought to know. Great surprise is being expressed over the fact that the majority of children of radical parents are either altogether opposed to the ideas of the latter, many of them moving along the old antiquated paths, or that they are indifferent to the new thoughts and teachings of social regeneration. And yet there is nothing unusual in that. Radical parents, though emancipated from the belief of ownership in the human soul, still cling tenaciously to the notion that they own the child, and that they have the right to exercise their authority over it. So they set out to mould and form the child according to their own conception of what is right and wrong, forcing their ideas upon it with the same vehemence that the average Catholic parent uses. And, with the latter, they hold out the necessity before the young "to do as I tell you and not as I do." But the impressionable mind of the child realizes early enough that the lives of their parents are in contradiction to the ideas they represent; that, like the good Christian who fervently prays on Sunday, yet continues to break the Lord's commands the rest of the week, the radical parent arraigns God, priesthood, church, government, domestic authority, yet continues to adjust himself to the condition he abhors. Just so, the Freethought parent can proudly boast that his son of four will recognize the picture of Thomas Paine or Ingersoll, or that he knows that the idea of God is stupid. Or that the Social Democratic father can point to his little girl of six and say, "Who wrote the Capital, dearie?" "Karl Marx, pa!" Or that the Anarchistic mother can make it known that her daughter's name is Louise Michel, Sophia Perovskaya, or that she can recite the revolutionary poems of Herwegh, Freiligrath, or Shelley, and that she will point out the faces of Spencer, Bakunin or Moses Harmon almost anywhere.
These are by no means exaggerations; they are sad facts that I have met with in my experience with radical parents. What are the results of such methods of biasing the mind? The following is the consequence, and not very infrequent, either. The child, being fed on one-sided, set and fixed ideas, soon grows weary of re-hashing the beliefs of its parents, and it sets out in quest of new sensations, no matter how inferior and shallow the new experience may be, the human mind cannot endure sameness and monotony. So it happens that that boy or girl, over-fed on Thomas Paine, will land in the arms of the Church, or they will vote for imperialism only to escape the drag of economic determinism and scientific socialism, or that they open a shirt-waist factory and cling to their right of accumulating property, only to find relief from the old-fashioned communism of their father. Or that the girl will marry the next best man, provided he can make a living, only to run away from the everlasting talk on variety.
Such a condition of affairs may be very painful to the parents who wish their children to follow in their path, yet I look upon them as very refreshing and encouraging psychological forces. They are the greatest guarantee that the independent mind, at least, will always resist every external and foreign force exercised over the human heart and head.
Some will ask, what about weak natures, must they not be protected? Yes, but to be able to do that, it will be necessary to realize that education of children is not synonymous with herdlike drilling and training. If education should really mean anything at all, it must insist upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and tendencies of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free individual and eventually also for a free community, which shall make interference and coercion of human growth impossible.
HOPE AND FEAR.[A]
(Translated from the Jewish of L. I. Peretz.)
....My heart is with you.
My eye does not get weary looking at your flaming banner; my ear does not get tired listening to your powerful song....
My heart is with you; man's hunger must be appeased, and he must have light; he must be free, and he must be his own master, master over himself and his work.
And when you snap at the fist which is trying to strangle you, your voice, and your ardent protest, preventing you from being heard—I rejoice, praying that your teeth may be sharpened. And when you are marching against Sodom and Gomorrah, to tear down the old, my soul is with you, and the certainty that you must triumph fills and warms my heart and intoxicates me like old wine....
And yet you frighten me.
I am afraid of the bridled who conquer, for they are apt to become the oppressors, and every oppressor transgresses against the human soul....
Do you not talk among yourselves of how humanity is to march, like an army in line, and you are going to sound for it the march on the road?
And yet humanity is not an army.
The strong are going forward, the magnanimous feel more deeply, the proud rise higher, and yet will you not lay down the cedar in order that it may not outgrow the grass?
Or will you not spread your wings over mediocrity, or will you not shield indifference, and protect the gray and uniformly fleeced herd?
* * *
You frighten me.
As conquerors you might become the bureaucracy: to dole out to everybody his morsel, as is the usage in the poor-house; to arrange work for everybody as it is done in the galleys. And you will thus crush the creator of new worlds—the free human will, and fill up with earth the purest spring of human happiness—human initiative, the power which braves one against thousands, against peoples, and against generations? And you will systematize life and bid it to remain on the level of the crowd.
And will you not be occupied with regulations: registrating, recording, estimating—or will you not prescribe how fast and how often the human pulse must beat, how far the human eye may look ahead, how much the ear may perceive, and what kinds of dreams the languishing heart may entertain?
* * *
With joy in my heart I look at you when you tear down the gates of Sodom, but my heart trembles at the same time, fearing that you might erect on its ruins new ones—more chilling and darker ones.
There will be no houses without windows; but fog will envelop the souls....
There will be no empty stomachs, but souls will starve. No ear will hear cries of woe, but the eagle—the human intellect—will stand at the trough with clipped wings together with the cow and the ox.
And justice, which has accompanied you on the thorny and bloody path to victory, will forsake you, and you will not be aware of it, for conquerors and tyrants are always blind. You will conquer and dominate. And you will plunge into injustice, and you will not feel the quagmire under your feet.... Every tyrant thinks he stands on firm ground so long as he has not been vanquished.
And you will build prisons for those who dare to stretch out their hands, pointing to the abyss into which you sink; you will tear out the tongues of the mouths that warn you against those who come after you, to destroy you and your injustice....
Cruelly will you defend the equality of rights of the herd to use the grass under its feet and the salt in the ground,—and your enemies will be the free individuals, the overmen, the ingenious inventors, the prophets, the saviors, the poets and artists.
* * *
Everything that comes to pass occurs in space and time.... The present is the existing: the stable, the firm, and therefore the rigid and frozen—the to-day, which will and must perish....
Time is change—it varies and develops; it is the eternally sprouting, the blossoming, the eternal morning....
And as your "morning," to which you aspire, will become the "to-day," you will become the upholders of the "yesterday," of that which is lifeless—dead. You will trample the sproutings of to-morrow and destroy its blossoms, and pour streams of cold water upon the heads that nestle your prophecies, your dreams, and your new hopes.
The to-day is unwilling to die, bloody is every sunset....
I yearn and hope for your victory, but I fear and tremble for your victory.
You are my hope, and you are my fear.
Nietzsche—Zarathustra spake thus: "He who wishes to say something should be silent a long while." If the makers of public opinion would only carry out this hint for about a lifetime!
According to the latest researches, it has been brought to light that the grim angel who drove Adam and Eve out of Paradise was named Comstock.
As long as there are women who must fear to become mothers on account of economic difficulties or moral prejudices, the emancipation of woman is only a phrase.
[A] This sketch the writer had addressed to Jewish Social Democrats.
By M. B.
JOHN MOST suddenly died in Cincinnati, March 17. He was on an agitation trip, and when he reached Cincinnati he took sick with erysipelas and died within a few days, surrounded by his comrades.
Shortly before that he had the fortune to taste of the kindness and good breeding of the police once more. Some friends in Philadelphia arranged a meeting to celebrate Most's sixtieth birthday. He was one of the speakers; but the police of that city interpreted the American Constitution, which speaks of the right to free speech and assembly, as giving the right to forcibly disperse the meeting.
Conscious misrepresentation and ignorance, the twin angels that hover over the throne of the newspaper kingdom of this country, have made John Most a scarecrow. Organized police authorities and police justices that can neither be accused of a surplus of intelligence nor even of the shadow of love of fairness, made him their target whenever they felt the great calling to save their country from disaster. Naturally the mob of law-abiding citizens must be assured from time to time that their masters have a sacred duty to perform, that they earn the right of graft.
Most was born at Augsburg, Bavaria, February 5, 1846. According to his memoirs, he early found it necessary to resist the tyranny of a stepmother and the miserable treatment of his master. As a bookbinder apprentice, at a very early age, he took to his heels and went on the road of the world, where he soon came in contact with revolutionary ideas in the labor movement that greatly inspired him and urged him to read and study. It might be more appropriately said that he developed a ravenous appetite for knowledge and research of all the works of human science.
At that time socialistic ideas had just begun to exercise great influence upon the thinking mind of the European continents. The zeal and craving for knowledge displayed by the working people of those days can hardly be properly estimated, especially by the proletariat of this country, whose literature and source of knowledge chiefly consists of the daily papers. Workingmen, who worked ten and twelve hours in factories and shops, spent their evenings in study and reading of economic, political and philosophic works—Ferdinand Lassalle, Karl Marx, Engels, Bakunin and, later, Kropotkin; also Henry George's "Progress and Poverty." Added to these were the works of the materialistic-natural science schools, such as Darwin, Huxley, Molleschot, Karl Vogt, Ludwig Buechner, Haeckel, that constituted the mental diet of a large number of workingmen of that period. Just as the revolutionary economists were hailed as the liberators of physical slavery, so were the materialistic, naturalistic sciences accepted as the saviors from mental narrowness and darkness.
Most was untiring in his work of popularizing these ideas, and as he could quickly grasp things he was tremendously successful in simplifying scientific books into pamphlets and essays, accessible to the ordinary intelligence of the working people. He possessed a marvelous memory, and once he got hold of an amount of data he could easily avail himself of it at any moment. This was particularly true in the domain of history, with its compilation of bloodcurdling events, from which he drew his conclusions of how the human race ought not to live.
Together with his journalistic activity, he combined oral propaganda. His power of delivery was marvelous, and those who heard him in his early days will understand why the powers of the world stood in awe before him. He not only had a very convincing way, but he succeeded in keeping his audiences spellbound or to bring them up to the highest pitch of enthusiasm.
The scene of his first great activity was in Vienna, where he was soon met with many indictments and persecutions from the authorities, who mercilessly pursued him for the rest of his life. After a term of imprisonment in several American prisons, he went to Germany, where he became the editor of the "Free Press" in Berlin, but his original and biting criticism of bureaucracy again brought him in conflict with the powers that be. The Berlin prison, Ploetzensee, soon closed its doors on the culprit. Even to-day those who visit that famous institution of civilization are still shown Most's cell.
At that time Bismarck carried an unsuccessful battle against the power of the Catholic Church, eager to subordinate her to the State authority. It happened that the famous leader of the Catholic party, Majunke, was sent for a term of imprisonment to Ploetzensee. When the prisoners were led out for their daily walk, the leader of the Reds, John Most, met the leader of the Blacks, Majunke. The situation was comical enough to cause amusement to both; both being brilliant, they found enough interesting material for conversation, which helped them over the dreariness and monotony of prison life.
Several years later Bismarck succeeded in enacting the muzzle law against Social Democracy, which destroyed the freedom of the press and assembly. The question arose then what could be done.
Most had been elected to the Reichstag, representing the famous factory town Chemnitz, but his experience in Parliament only served him to despise the representative system and professional lawmaking more than ever.
When leaders of Social Democracy, like Bebel and Liebknecht, thought it more expedient to adapt themselves to conditions, Most went to London, where he continued his revolutionary literary crusade in the "Freiheit." He came in contact with Karl Marx, Engels and various other refugees who lived in England. Marx assured Most that his sharp pen in the "Freiheit" was not likely to cause him any trouble in England so long as the Conservative party was in power, but that nothing good was to be expected of a Liberal government. Marx was right. Shortly after Most's arrival in London his paper was seized and he was arrested on the indictment for inciting to murder because he paid a glowing tribute to the revolutionists of Russia, who, on the first of March, 1881, executed Alexander II. He was tried and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment to one of the barbarous English prisons.
Most gradually developed into an Anarchist, representing Communist Anarchism, the organization of production and consummation, based on free industrial groups, and which would exclude State and bureaucratic interference. His ideas were related to those of Kropotkin and Elisée Reclus. He often assured me that he considered Kropotkin his teacher, and that he owed much of his mental development to him.
The next aim of the hounded man was America, but it does not appear that he was followed across the ocean by his lucky star. He soon was made to feel that free speech and free press in this great republic was but a myth. Time and again he was arrested, brutally treated by the police, and sentenced to serve time in the penitentiary. Added to this came the fearful attacks and misrepresentations of Most and his ideas by the press, many of the articles making him appear as a wild beast ever plotting destruction. The last sentence inflicted upon him was after the Czolgosz act. He was arrested for an article by the Radical Karl Heinzen, that had been written many years ago and the author of which had been dead a long time. The article had not the slightest relation to the act, did not contain a single reference to the conditions of this country, and treated altogether of European conditions of fifty years ago. In the face of this sentence one cannot but help think of Tolstoi's "Power of Darkness." Only the Power of Darkness in the minds of the judges before whom Most was tried and the newspaper men, who helped in arousing public opinion against him, were responsible for the sentence inflicted upon him.
Taking Most's life superficially, it would appear that his road was hard and thorny, but looking at it from a thorough view point, one will realize that all his hardships and injustices had made of him a relentless, uncompromising rebel, who continued to wage war against the enemies of the people.
With but few exceptions the American journalists censure the immoral profession of "Mrs. Warren." Is it not heavenly irony that God pressed the headman's sword of morals into the hands of the newspaper writers? Perhaps the great God Pan thought they would be the fittest to handle the sword, since they are so intimately associated with mental prostitution.
CIVILIZATION IN AFRICA.
A large, strong man, dressed in a uniform and armed to the teeth, knocked at the door of a hut on the west coast of Africa.
"Who are you and what do you want?" said a voice from the inside.
"In the name of civilization, open your door or I'll break it down for you and fill you full of lead."
"But what do you want here?"
"My name is Christian Civilization. Don't talk like a fool, you black brute; what do you suppose I want here but to civilize you and make a reasonable human being out of you if it is possible."
"What are you going to do?"
"In the first place you must dress yourself like a white man. It is a shame and disgrace the way you go about. From now on you must wear underclothing, a pair of pants, vest, coat, plug hat, and a pair of yellow gloves. I will furnish them to you at reasonable rates."
"What shall I do with them?"
"Wear them, of course. You did not expect to eat them, did you? The first step to civilization is in wearing proper clothes."
"But it is too hot here to wear such garments. I'm not used to them. I'll perish from the heat. Do you want to murder me?"
"Not particularly. But if you do die you will have the satisfaction of being a martyr to civilization."
"Don't mention it. What do you do for a living?"
"When I am hungry I eat a banana; I eat, drink or sleep just as I feel like it."
"What horrible barbarity! You must settle down to some occupation, my friend. If you don't it will be my duty to lock you up as a vagrant."
"If I have to follow some occupation I think I'll start a coffee house. I've got a considerable amount of coffee and sugar stored here and there."
"Oh, you have, have you? Why, you are not such a hopeless case as I thought you were. In the first place you want to pay me the sum of fifty dollars."
"As an occupation tax, you ignorant heathen. Do you expect all the blessings of civilization for nothing?"
"But I have no money."
"That makes no difference. I'll take it out in tea and coffee. If you don't pay up like a Christian man, I'll put you in jail for the rest of your life."
"What is jail?"
"Jail is a progressive word. You must be prepared to make some sacrifices for civilization, you know."
"What a great and glorious thing is civilization."
"You cannot possibly realize the benefits of it, but you will before I get through with you, my fine fellow."
The unfortunate native took to the woods and has not been seen since—Waverly Magazine.
By Mary Hansen.
I come, not with the blaring of trumpet,
To herald the birth of a king;
I come, not with traditional story,
The life of a savior to sing;
I come, not with jests for the silly,
I come, not to worship the strong,
But to question the powers that govern,
To point out a world-old wrong.
To kiss from the starved lips of childhood
The lies that are sapping its breath,
And brighten the brief cheerless valley
That leads to the darkness of death;
With reason and sympathy blended,
And a hope that all mankind shall see,
Untrammeled by Creed, Law or Custom—
The attainable goal of the Free.
MARRIAGE AND THE HOME.
By John R. Coryell.
YOU remember Punch's advice to the young man about to be married—don't. There is a jest nearly half a century old, and yet ever fresh and poignant. Why? Can it be that the secret, serious voice of mankind proclaims the jest truth in masquerade? Can it be that marriage, as an institution, has indeed proved itself in experience such a terrible failure?
We worship many fetishes, we of the superior civilization, and the institution of marriage is the chief of them. Few of us but bow before that; before that and the home of which it is the foundation. And I know what scorn and obloquy and denunciation await that man who stands unawed before it, seeing in it but an ugly little idol. And I guess what will be dealt out to him who not only refuses to bow the head, but openly scoffs. And yet I am going to scoff and say ugly words about this fetish of ours. I am going to say that it represents ignorance, hides and causes hypocrisy, stands in the way of progress, drags low the standard of individual excellence, perpetuates many foul practices.
Let me admit at the outset that I recognize in the institution of marriage a perfectly legitimate result of the working of the law of evolution. Of course it is; and the same may be said of everything that exists whether good or evil. Every vile and filthy thing, crime, disease, misery, are all equally legitimate products of the working of this law. Evolution is simply the process of the logical working of things; it explains how things come to be; and there is nothing in the nature of the law to enable it to give to its results the hall mark of sterling. A thing is because of something else that was. Marriage is because of a primeval club. Man craved woman and he procured her. Considering the beginnings of the institution of marriage, it is interesting, if nothing more, to consider the efforts of the priest to give it an attribute of sanctity, to call it a sacrament. In truth, marriage is the most artificial of the relations which exist in the social body. It is a device of man at his worst—a mixture of slavery, savage egotism and priestcraft. It is indicated by nothing in the physical constitution of either male or female. It is an anomaly; a contract which can be freely entered into by the most unfit, but which cannot be broken, though both parties wish it, though absolute unfitness be patent, though hell on earth be its result. The pretense must be abandoned that men and women marry in order to reproduce their kind. Nothing could be less true. Marriage legalizes reproduction, but is not caused by desire for it. Marriage is the hard and fast tying together of a man and a woman without the least regard to moral or physiological conditions. Marriage may be for pecuniary gain, or for social advancement; it may be at the will of a controlling parent, or, more commonly for St. Paul's reason, that it is better to marry than to burn; but never for the reason that the parties to it are fitted to each other for parenthood. That supreme consideration not only does not enter into either the preliminary or after-thought of the matter, but is even held to be an indecent topic of conversation between persons not already married to each other.
The constituents of the average marriage are a man over-stimulated sexually by mystery and ignorance, and a woman abnormally undersexed by the course of self-repression and self-mutilation which have been taught her from her earliest childhood as necessities of modesty, purity and virtue. And then out of the carefully cultivated repugnance of the woman and the savage, exulting, unrelenting passion of the man are produced children, frequently welcome, seldom premeditated. And we are asked to believe that out of such elements are created the best foundation for a race or nation. Surely, surely, that combination of conditions is the best for a race or a nation which produces the best individuals; and quite as surely we should strive to bring about those conditions which tend to produce the best individuals.
Then there is home. Home, sweet home! the perfect flower, we are told, that blooms on the fair stem of marriage. Yet it is the very citadel of ignorance, when it should be the school in which are taught the beautiful phenomena of physical life. Home! where the simplest, purest facts of life are converted into a nasty mystery and deliberately endowed with the characteristics of impurity and sin; for what else is the meaning of that solemn formula, which most of us have been taught, that we were conceived in sin? What else is the meaning of the hush and blush that go to any reference to sex, sign or manifestation of sex? Is it not awful beyond the power of words to express that a man and a woman come together in ignorance and beget children who are not even to obtain the benefit of such knowledge as their unfortunate parents pick up by the way, but must themselves begin the most responsible functions of life, not only in equal ignorance, but with an added load of misconceptions, sex-superstitions, immoral dogmas and probably physical disabilities? A short time since a father was speaking to me of his son, fourteen years of age, and plainly at an age when some of the beautiful phenomena of sex-life were beginning to crowd upon him for notice. I asked the man if he had talked with his son about the matter. His answer was peculiar only in that he put into words a description of the attitude of the average parent: "Talked to him about that? Not I. Let him learn as I did. No one ever told me." But some one had told him, as his unpleasantly reminiscent smile advised me! He had been told by ignorant companions, by ignorant servants, and, quite likely, by books, whose grossness would have been harmless but for the child's piteous ignorance. No, the man would not talk with his son about such things, but he would go into his club and talk into the small hours over a glass of whiskey with his friends there, turning the beauty and purity of sex manifestation into shabby jest and impure ridicule. He would exchange stories based on sex relation with any stranger with whom he might ride for two hours in a smoking car. Every man knows that I speak well within bounds.
And the girl child! what of her? Does her mother, the victim of misinformation and no information, of misuse and self-mutilation, in the sweet privacy of this home, which is called the cradle of peace and the nestling place of purity, save her by taking warning of her own ruined life and giving her the benefit of such little knowledge as she has gained in physical, mental and moral misery? We know she does not. On the contrary, the same terrible old lies are told, the same hideous practices are resorted to; and another poor creature is launched into that awful life of legalized prostitution which is called marriage.
Motherhood is woman's highest function, and, moreover, it is a function which it is unwise not to exercise; for it is infinitely more perilous for a healthy woman not to be a mother than it is for her to bear children. Motherhood, too, is the most markedly indicated function of a woman's body. She is specialized for it; it is the thing indicated. And yet we never say to a woman, Be a mother when you will; we hold up our hands in horror at the very thought of motherhood itself, and we say, Marry; marry anything; get another name for yourself; merge your very identity into that of some man; get a home; never mind about children; you don't have to have them; they have nothing to do with your respectability. Is it not so? Is it not so that that woman who prefers her own name and her freedom, and who exercises her highest function of motherhood, thereby becomes a thing of scorn and contumely?
And yet, how in this world can a woman do a finer, wiser, braver, truer thing than to bear a child in freedom by a carefully chosen father? It is true that we have moralists who urge wives to breed for the good of the country, but even they, while declaring that it is the duty of women to have large families, roll their eyes in horror at the thought of a woman exercising her plainest right, without first having some man, whose only interest in the matter is his fee, say some magic words over her and her master.
Oh, that marriage ceremony! And is it not pathetic to hear the women, dimly conscious of their backbones, declaring that they will not promise to obey? They will promise vehemently to love and honor, which they absolutely cannot be sure of doing, but they refuse to obey—the only thing they could safely promise to do, and which, in fact, most of them do. For, writhe and twist as they may, defy never so bravely, the conventions of the world are against them, and conform they must. Down, down they sink until they are on their knees in the mire of tradition, their heads bowed to the ugly little fetish. A woman may be a thousand times the superior of her husband, and yet she must be his slave.
And what puerile fables, what transparent lies are told to reconcile the poor slave to her lot! A man's rib! And she is the weaker vessel! Nevertheless, she is the power behind the throne. And if the man possess her, does she not equally possess him? Is not monogamy the mainstay of our morals? Is not God to be thanked that he has given us light to see the horrors of polygamy? Oh, that shocking thing, polygamy! How the husbands of the land rise up to defend their firesides from it! No Smoots shall get into our Senate. That virtuous Senate!
Why if every practising polygamist went home from the Congress there would not be a quorum left to do business. Monogamy! Why it is the most shocking phase of the hypocrisy due to marriage. There is no such condition known in this country. Of course, there may be sporadic cases of it, but that is all. If monogamy be the practice of the men of this country, why the hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, why divorces for adultery, why those secret establishments where unhappily married men indemnify themselves for the appearance of monogamy by an association which can be ended at will? Whence come the mulattoes and the half-breeds of all sorts? Who so credulous as to believe the fable of monogamy?
What has monogamy or polygamy or polyandry to do with this matter? I assume that it is undeniable that motherhood is woman's most manifest function. If that be so, how can there be any more immorality in the exercise of it than in the process of digestion? What can be clearer than that a woman has the inherent right to bear children if she wish? And there is nothing in experience or morals which demands one father for all her children. It should be for her to say whether she will have one father for all her children or one for each. And if the question be asked how, under such conditions, the interests of the children would be safe-guarded, I ask if they are safe-guarded now. The right-minded man provides as he can for them; as would be the case always; while the wrong-minded man does not now provide properly for them. Besides, is the mother not to be considered? Do we not all know of women who in widowhood take care of their families? Do we not know of women who take care of their husbands as well as of their children? Women, of course, should, in any case, be economically free. But at least let them be sex free; let them decide for themselves whether they will have many or few or no children. Teach woman to be economically independent, give her the opportunity for full knowledge of all that pertains to motherhood; make the motherhood a pure and beautiful manifestation of physical activity if you will, but without forgetting that it is only simple and natural; avoiding that hysterical glorification of the function in poetry and the hiding of it in actual life as if it were an unclean thing. But the important matter is to understand that a woman has a right to bear a child if she wish. Nothing is more distinctly pointed out by the constitution of her body, and therefore it is impossible that there can be any immorality in the exercise of the function. To put my idea in as few and as bold words as I can: Motherhood is a right and has no proper relation to marriage. Marriage is a purely artificial relation, and not only is it not justified by its results, but distinctly it is discredited by them. By it a man becomes a vile hypocrite since he loudly avows a moral standard and a course of conduct which in private by his acts he denies and puts to scorn; by it a woman becomes a slave, giving up her rights in her own body; submitting to ravishment, and becoming the accidental mother to unwished, unwelcome children; by it children are robbed of their plain right to the best equipment that can be given them; and which cannot be given them under the prevailing system. It is only when a woman is free to choose the father of her child that the child can hope for even a partial payment of the debt that was due it from its parents from the moment they took the responsibility of calling it from the nowhere into the here. This doctrine of the responsibility of the parent to the child is comparatively new and goes neither with marriage nor with the home. The old and current notion is that the child is a chattel.
Abraham never offers an apology for making little Isaac carry wood and then mount the sacrificial pile. Indeed we are asked to marvel at the heroism of the father. Then we are told that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. As if the child were the property of the parent. And yet there must always have been naughty children asking pointed questions, for it was long ago found necessary to try to scare them by a divine fulmination. Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long! It seems that even so long ago parents were afraid they could not win honor from their children. Abraham's place was on the pile, just as it is the place of the modern parent who looks upon his child as his chattel; disposing of him as he will; arbitrarily making rules for his conduct which he would not dream of observing for himself; stifling his natural demands for knowledge; converting what is pure and most beautiful in the world into a mire of filth and ignorance; wilfully robbing him of his birthright of individuality by forcing him to conform to methods of thought and conduct which his own experience tells him no man can or does conform to from the moment he wins his freedom or learns the hideous lesson of that hypocrisy which he is sure in the end to discover that his father practices. What right has any father to make a sacrifice of his child? What is his title to the love or gratitude or self-abnegation of his child? Is it that the child is the unconsidered consequence of the legal rape of some poor woman who has been unfitted for the office forced upon her, by a life mentally dwarfed, morally twisted and physically mutilated? Is it that the child is haled out of nothingness to be inoculated, perhaps, with germs of disease in the first instance and then half nourished for nine months in a body which has been robbed of its vitality by the mutilation and torture to which it has been subjected at the behest of fashion?
The highest duty of a parent is to so treat his child that it will enter upon the struggle of life prepared to obtain the utmost happiness from it.
If anyone fancies I have been too severe in my strictures I would ask him to read what Mrs. Gilman has to say on the subject of home. It is true that she does not come to the same conclusion that I do. She would have women economically independent, and she would have children taken care of by those especially fitted for the task, leaving mothers and fathers free to go their separate ways. But how could there be separate ways so long as the slavery of marriage remained? Woman must be not only economically free, but altogether free. As I have said, motherhood is not an affair of morals; it is a function. Marriage, on the other hand, is a matter of morals; and hideously immoral it is, too. Then why not have motherhood without its immoral, artificial adjunct, marriage?
You see I do not ask for easy divorce as a solution of the problem of marriage. I set my face sternly against divorce. I am one with the church in that. I only demand that there shall be no marriage at all, that there shall be no fastening of life-long slavery on woman. Let woman mother children or not, as she will. Let her say who shall be the father of her child and of each child. Let motherhood be deemed not even honorable, but only natural.
Can anyone believe that if men and women were free to decide whether or not they would be parents, they would not in the end, seeing their duty in the light of their knowledge, fit themselves for parenthood before taking upon themselves its responsibilities?
I would like to say that I have no fear of the odium of the designation of iconoclast. Nor do I quake lest some one triumphantly ask me what I will put in the place of marriage and the home. As well might one demand what I would give in the place of smallpox if I were able to eradicate it. I am not concerned to find a substitute for such perversion of sex activity. If men and women choose to live together in freedom, fathering and mothering their children according to a rule grown out of freedom, and directed by expediency, I fancy they would be, at least, as happy as they can be now, tied together by a hard, unpleasant knot. And if an economically free woman chose to have six children by six different fathers, as a wise woman might well do, I believe she could be trusted to secure those children from want quite as well as the mother-slave of to-day, who bears her children at the will of an irresponsible man, and then, often enough, has to take care of them and him too.
"Wealth protects and animates art and literature, as the dew enlivens the fields."
Nonsense! Wealth animates art and literature, as the whistle of the master animates the dog and makes him wag his tail.
THE MODERN NEWSPAPER.
Let me describe to you, very briefly, a newspaper day.
Figure first, then, a hastily erected, and still more hastily designed, building in a dirty, paper-littered back street of London, and a number of shabbily dressed men coming and going in this with projectile swiftness. Within this factory companies of printers, tensely active with nimble fingers—they were always speeding up the printers—ply their typesetting machines, and cast and arrange masses of metal in a sort of kitchen inferno, above which, in a beehive of little, brightly lit rooms, disheveled men sit and scribble. There is a throbbing of telephones and a clicking of telegraph instruments, a rushing of messengers, a running to and fro of heated men, clutching proofs and copy. Then begins a roar of machinery catching the infection, going faster and faster, and whizzing and banging. Engineers, who have never had time to wash since their birth, fly about with oil cans, while paper runs off its rolls with a shudder of haste. The proprietor you must suppose arriving explosively on a swift motor car, leaping out before the thing is at a standstill, with letters and documents clutched in his hand, rushing in, resolute to "hustle," getting wonderfully in everybody's way. At the sight of him even the messenger boys who are waiting get up and scamper to and fro. Sprinkle your vision with collisions, curses, incoherencies. You imagine all the parts of this complex, lunatic machine working hysterically toward a crescendo of haste and excitement as the night wears on. At last, the only things that seem to travel slowly in those tearing, vibrating premises, are the hands of the clock.
Slowly things draw on toward publication, the consummation of all those stresses. Then, in the small hours, in the now dark and deserted streets comes a wild whirl of carts and men, the place spurts paper at every door; bales, heaps, torrents of papers, that are snatched and flung about in what looks like a free fight, and off with a rush and clatter east, west, north and south. The interest passes outwardly; the men from the little rooms are going homeward, the printers disperse, yawning, the roaring presses slacken. The paper exists. Distribution follows manufacture, and we follow the bundles.
Our vision becomes a vision of dispersal. You see those bundles hurling into stations, catching trains by a hair's breadth, speeding on their way, breaking up, smaller bundles of them hurled with a fierce accuracy out upon the platforms that rush by, and then everywhere a division of these smaller bundles into still smaller bundles, into dispersing parcels, into separate papers. The dawn happens unnoticed amidst a great running and shouting of boys, a shoving through letter-slots, openings of windows, spreading out upon book-stalls. For the space of a few hours, you must figure the whole country dotted white with rustling papers. Placards everywhere vociferate the hurried lie for the day. Men and women in trains, men and women eating and reading, men by study fenders, people sitting up in bed, mothers and sons and daughters waiting for father to finish—a million scattered people are reading—reading headlong—or feverishly ready to read. It is just as if some vehement jet had sprayed that white foam of papers over the surface of the land.
Nonsense! The whole affair is a noisy paroxysm of nonsense, unreasonable excitement, witless mischief, and waste of strength—signifying nothing.
—From H. G. Wells "In the Days of the Comet."
A VISIT TO SING SING.
By A Moralist.
I WAS ennuyé; the everlasting decency and respectability of my surroundings bored me. On whichever side of me I looked, I saw people doing the same things for the same reasons; or for the same lack of reasons. And they were uninteresting.
"Oh," said I to myself, "these are the people of the ruts; they go that way because others have gone; they are conforming. But there must be some persons who do not conform. Where are they?"
Now you can understand why it was that my thoughts turned toward that monument of our civilization on the Hudson River, and why finally I made up my mind to visit it.
I knew that neither my citizenship, nor yet my philosophic and human interest in the working of that great school would avail to obtain me entrance there, so I sought out one of the politicians of my district, who at that time at least exercised his activities outside of the walls of the building, and I exchanged with him a five-dollar bill for an order to admit me.
"I suppose," I said to the attendant who did the honors of the place for me, "that these persons who are garbed alike and who affect the same tonsorial effect are those who have been unskillful in their non-conformity."
"They are prisoners," he replied. I bit my lip and looked as smug as I remembered one should who as yet has the right of egress as well as ingress in an institution of that character.
At that moment my eyes fell on a face that seemed familiar to me, and as I studied it I saw with surprise that I had come upon a man who had once been a schoolmate of mine.
Now I had always believed that if a person had done wrong, he would be conscious of it; and that if he were found out he would at least try to appear penitent. But in this case my theory did not seem to be working; for my former chum, whom I remembered as a quiet, unobtrusive fellow, met my startled glance with a twinkle of suppressed humor. I confess that such a blow to my theory filled me with indignation.
I stepped toward him, all my moral superiority betraying itself in the self-satisfied smirk which fixed itself on my face in accordance with the sense of duty which the Philistine feels so keenly in his relations with others.
"Why are you here?" I asked him.
"Are you not a little impertinent?" he asked. "I do not inquire of you why you are here."
"That is obvious, to say the least," I answered loftily.
"Obvious from your pharisaical expression, perhaps," he said good-naturedly. "But never mind! We look at the matter from different points of view. To me it is a greater indiscretion to annoy a helpless prisoner with 'holier-than-thou' questions than it would be to attend the Charity Ball in pajamas. But of course you do not see it in the same light."
"Pardon me if I annoyed you," I said stiffly.
"Don't mention it," he replied, with the humorous twinkle still playing in his eyes. "And to prove that I bear no hard feeling, I will ask you some questions."
Naturally I was embarrassed at such an exhibition of hardihood in one in his situation, but I said I would be pleased to answer him to the best of my ability.
"It is some time since I was away from this retreat on a vacation," he said, with an easy assurance that was indescribably shocking to one of correct principles, "and I would like to know if all the rascals have yet been put in prison."
I pushed my insurance policy a little deeper into my pocket and replied, with conviction:
"Certainly not; but you must not forget that no man is guilty until he has been proven so."
"Ah, yes," he said; "and that a man may pride himself on his honesty on the secure ground that he has not yet reached the penitentiary. Yes, of course, you are right. But, tell me, is it true, according to a rumor which has reached us in our seclusion, that these good Christians pro tem, are considering the advisability of having rat poison served to us in place of the delicious stale bread and flat water which now comprise our bill of fare?"
"Oh," I answered vaguely, "there are still reformers of all sorts in the world."
"Reformers!" he cried, his face lighting up with a new interest. "Ah! you mean those profound thinkers who seek to cure every disease of the social body by means of legislation. Yes, yes! tell me about them! Society still believes in them?"
"Believes in them!" I cried indignantly. "Surely it does. Why, the great political parties are responding to the cry of the downtrodden masses, and—"
"Oh," he said dreamily, "they are still responding?"
"What do you mean by still responding?" I demanded curtly.
"Why, I remember that in my time, too, the people always responded. The party leaders would say to them that they were in a bad way and needed help. The people would cry out in joy to think their leaders had discovered this. Then the leaders would wink at each other and jump upon the platforms and explain to the people that what was needed was a new law of some sort. The people would weep for happiness at such wisdom and would beg their leaders to get together and make the law. And the law that the leaders would make when they got together was one that would put the people still more in their power. So that is still going on?"
I recognized that he was ironical, but I answered with a sneer:
"The people get what they deserve, and what they wish. They have only to demand through the ballot box, you know."
"Ah, yes," he murmured with a grin, "I had forgotten the ballot box. Dear me! how could I have forgotten the ballot box?"
Providentially the keeper came to notify me that my time was up, and I turned away.
"One thing more," cried the prisoner; "is it still the case that the American people enjoy their freedom best when they are enslaved in some way?"
"You are outrageous," I exclaimed; "the American people are not enslaved in any way. It is true they are restricted for their own good by those more capable of judging than they. That must always be the case."
"I don't know about must," he sighed, "but I am sure it will always be the case as long as a man's idea of freedom is his ability to impose some slavish notion on his brother."
"Good-bye," I said, with a recurrence to my smirk of pharisaical pity, "I am sorry to see you here."
"Oh, don't be troubled on my account," he answered; "on the whole, I am satisfied."
"Satisfied! Impossible!" I cried.
"Why impossible? Consider that I shall never again be compelled to associate with decent, honest folk. Oh, I have cause to be satisfied; I am here on a life sentence."
THE OLD AND THE NEW DRAMA.
By Max Baginski.
THE inscription over the Drama in olden times used to be, "Man, look into this mirror of life; your soul will be gripped in its innermost depths, anguish and dread will take possession of you in the face of this rage of human desire and passion. Go ye, atone and make good."
Even Schiller entertained this view when he called the Stage a moral institution. It was also from this standpoint that the Drama was expected to show the terrible consequences of uncontrolled human passion, and that these consequences should teach man to overcome himself. "To conquer oneself is man's greatest triumph."
This ascetic tendency, incidentally part of chastisement and acquired resignation, one can trace in every investigation of the value and meaning of the Drama, though in different forms. The avenging Nemesis, always at the heels of the sinner, may be placated by means of rigid self-control and self-denial. This, too, was Schopenhauer's idea of the Drama. In it, his eye perceived with horror that human relation became disastrously interwoven; that guilt and atonement made light of the human race, which merely served as a target for the principles of good and evil. Guilt and atonement reign because the blind force of life will not resign itself, but, on the contrary, is ever ready to yield itself to the struggle of the passions. Mountains of guilt pile themselves on the top of each other, while purifying fires ever flame up into the heavens.
In the idea that Life in itself is a great guilt, Schopenhauer coincides with the teachings of Christ, though otherwise he has little regard for them. With Christ, he recognized in the chastisement of the body a purification of the mind; the inner man, who thus escapes from close physical intimacy, as if from bad company. The spiritual man appears before the physical as a saint and a Pharisee. In reality, he is the intellectual cause of the so-called bad deeds of the human body, its path indicator and teacher. But, once the mischief is accomplished, he puts on a pious air and denies all responsibility for the deed. Wherever the idea of guilt, the fear of sin prevails, the mind becomes traitor to the body: "I know him not and will have nothing to do with him." Whenever man entertains the belief in good and evil, he is bound to pretend the good and do the evil. And yet the understanding of all human occurrences begins, as with the Zarathustra philosopher, beyond good and evil.
The modern drama is, in its profoundest depths, an attempt to ignore good and evil in its analysis of human manifestations. It aims to get at a complete whole, out of each strong, healthy emotion, out of each absorbing mood that carries and urges one forward from the beginning to the end. It represents the World as it reflects itself in each passion, in each quivering life; not trying to confine and to judge, to condemn or to praise; not acting merely in the capacity of a cold observer; but striving to grow in oneness with Life; to become color, tone and light; to absorb universal sorrow as one's own; universal joy as one's own; to feel every emotion as it manifests itself in a natural way; to be one's self, yet oblivious of self.
The modern dramatist tries to understand and to explain. Goodness is no longer entitled to a reward, like a pupil who knows his lesson; nor is evil condemned to an eternal Hell. Both belong together in the sphere of all that is human. Often enough it is seen that evil triumphs over good, while virtue, ever highly praised in words, is rarely practiced. It is set aside to become dusty and dirty in some obscure corner. Only at some opportune moment is it brought forward from its hiding place to serve as a cover for some vile deed. We can no longer believe that beyond and above us there is some irrevocable, irresistible Fate, whose duty it is to punish all evil and wrong and to reward all goodness; an idea so fondly cherished by our grandfathers.
To-day we no longer look for the force of fate outside of human activity. It lives and weaves its own tragedies and comedies with us and within us. It has its roots in our social, political and economic surroundings, in our physical, mental and psychic capacities. (Did not the fate of Cyrano de Bergerac lie in his gigantic nose?) With others, fate lies in their vocation in life, in their mental and emotional tendencies, which either submerge them into the hurry and rush of a commonplace existence, or bring them into the most annoying conflicts with the dicta of society. Indeed, it is often seen that a human being, apparently of a cheerful nature, but who has failed to establish a durable relation with society, often leads a most tragic inner life. Should he find the cause in his own inclinations, and suffer agonizing reproaches therefrom, he becomes a misanthrope. If, however, he feels inwardly robust and powerful, living truly, if he crave complete assertion of a self that is being hampered by his surroundings at every step, he must inevitably become a Revolutionist. And, again, his life may become tragic in the struggle with our powerful institutions and traditions, the leaden weight of which will, apparently, not let him soar through space to ever greater heights. Apparently, because it sometimes occurs that an individual rises above the average, and waves his colors over the heads of the common herd. His life is that of the storm bird, anxiously making for distant shores. The efforts of the deepest, truest and freest spirits of our day tend toward the conscious formation of life, toward that life which will make the blind raging of the elements impossible; a life which will show man his sovereignity and admit his right to direct his own world.
The old conception of the drama paid little or no attention to the importance of the influences of social conditions. It was the individual alone who had to carry the weight of all responsibility. But is not the tragedy greater, the suffering of the individual increased, by influences he cannot control, the existing social and moral conditions? And is it not true that the very best and most beautiful in the human breast cannot and will not bow down to the commands of the commonplace and everyday conditions? Out of the anachronisms of society and its relation to the individual grow the strongest motives of the modern drama. Pure personal conflicts are no longer considered important enough to bring about a dramatic climax. A play must contain the beating of the waves, the deep breath of life; and its strong invigorating breeze can never fail in bringing about a dramatic effect upon our emotions. The new drama means reproduction of nature in all its phases, the social and psychological included. It embraces, analyzes and enriches all life. It goes hand in hand with the longing for materially and mentally harmonious institutions. It rehabilitates the human body, establishes it in its proper place and dignity, and brings about the long deferred reconciliation between the mind and the body.
Full of enthusiasm, with the pulse of time throbbing in his veins, the modern dramatist compiles mountains of material for the better understanding of Man, and the influences that mould and form him. He no longer presents capital acts, extraordinary events, or melodramatic expressions. It is life in all its complexity, that is being unfolded before us, and so we come closer to the source of the forces that destroy and build up again, the forces that make for individual character and direct the world at large. Life, as a whole, is being dealt with, and not mere particles. Formerly our eyes were dazzled by a display of costumes and scenery, while the heart remained unmoved. This no longer satisfies. One must feel the warmth of life, in order to respond, to be gripped.
The sphere of the drama has widened most marvellously in all directions, and only ends where human limitations begin. Together with this, a marked deepening of the inner world has taken place. Still there are those who have much to say about the vulgarity contained in the modern drama, and how its inaugurators and following present the ugly and untruthful. Untrue and ugly, indeed, for those who are buried under a mass of inherited views and prejudices. The growth of the scope of the drama has increased the number of the participants therein. Formerly it was assumed that the fate of the ordinary man, the man of the masses, was altogether too obscure, too indifferent to serve as material for anything tragic; since those who had never dwelt in the heights of material splendor could not go down to the darkest and lowest abyss. Because of that assumption, the low and humble never gained access to the center of the stage; they were only utilized to represent mobs. Those that were of importance were persons of high position and standing, persons who represented wealth and power with superiority and dignity, yet with shallow and superficial airs. The ensemble was but a mechanism and not an organism; and each participant was stiff and lifeless; each movement was forced and strained. The old fate and hero drama did not spring from within Man and the things about him; it was merely manufactured. Most remarkable incidents, unheard of situations had to be invented, if only to produce, externally, an appearance of coinciding cause and effect; and not a single plot could be without secret doors and vaults, terrible oaths and perjury. If Ibsen, Gorky, Hauptmann, Gabrielle D'Annunzio and others had brought us nothing else but liberation from such grotesque ballast, from such impossibilities as destroy every illusion as to the life import of a play, they would still be entitled to our gratitude and the gratitude of posterity. But they have done more. Out of the confusion of trap doors, secret passages, folding screens, they have led us into the light of day, of undisguised events, with their simple distinct outlines. In this light, the man of the heap gains in life force, importance and depth. The stage no longer offers a place for impossible deeds and the endless monologues of the hero, the important feature is harmonious concert of action. The hero, on a stage that conscientiously stands for real art and aims to produce life, is about as superfluous as the clown who amused the audience between the acts. After all the spectacle of one star display, one cannot help but hail the refreshing contrast, shown in the "Man of Destiny," by the clever Bernard Shaw, where he presents the legend-hero, Napoleon, as a petty intriguer, with all the inner fear and uneasiness of a plotter. In these days of concerted energy, of the co-operation of numerous hands and brains; in the days when the most far-reaching effect can only be accomplished through the summons of a manifold physical and mental endeavor, the existence of these loud heroes is circumscribed within rather limited lines.
Previous generations could never have grasped the deep tragedy in that famous painting of Millet that inspired Edwin Markham to write his "Man with the Hoe." Our generation, however, is thrilled by it. And is there not something terribly tragic about the lives of the great masses who pierced the colossal stone cliffs of the Simplon, or who are building the Panama Canal? They have and are performing a task that may safely be compared with the extraordinary achievements of Hercules; works which, according to human conception, will last into eternity. The names and the characters of these workmen are unknown. The historians, coldly and disinterestedly, pass them by.
The new drama has unveiled this kind of tragedy. It has done away with the lie that sought to produce a violent dramatic effect through a plunge from the sublime to the ridiculous. Those who understand Tolstoy's "Power of Darkness," wherein but those of the lowest strata appear, will be overwhelmed by the terrible tragedy in their lives, in comparison with which the worries of some crowned head or the money troubles of some powerful speculator will appear insignificant indeed. That which this master unfolds before us is no longer a plunge from heaven to hell; the entire life of these people is an Inferno. The terrible darkness and ignorance of these people, forced on them by the social misery of dull necessity, produces greater soul sensations in the spectator than the stilted tragedy of a Corneille. Those who witness a performance of Gerhart Hauptmann's "Hannele" and fail to be stirred by the grandeur and depth of that masterpiece, regardless of its petty poorhouse atmosphere, deserve to see nothing else than the "Wizard of Oz." And again is not the long thunderous march of hungry strikers in Zola's "Germinal" as awe-inspiring to those who feel the heart beat of our age even as the heroic deeds of Hannibal's warriors were to his contemporaries?
The world stage ever represents a change of participants. The one who played the part of leading man in one century, may become a clown in another. Entire social classes and casts that formerly commanded first parts, are to-day utilized to make up stage decorations or as figurantes. Plays representing the glory of knighthood or minnesingers would only amuse to-day, no matter how serious they were intended to appear. Once anything lies buried under the bulk of social changes, it can affect coming generations only so far as the excavated skeleton affects the geologist. This must be borne in mind by sincere stage art, if it is not to remain in the stifling atmosphere of tradition, if it does not wish to degrade a noble method, that helps to recognize and disclose all that is rich and deep in the human into a commonplace, hypocritical and stupid method. If the artist's creation is to have any effect, it must contain elements of real life, and must turn its gaze toward the dawn of the morn of a more beautiful and joyous world, with a new and healthy generation, that feels deeply its relationship with all human beings over the universe.
In a report of the Russian government, it is stated that the conduct of the soldiers in the struggles of the streets was such, that in no instance did they transgress the limit which is prescribed to them in their oath as soldiers. This is true. The soldier's oath prescribes murder and cruelty as their patriotic duty.
If government, were it even an ideal Revolutionary government, creates no new force and is of no use whatever in the work of demolition which we have to accomplish, still less can we count on it for the work of reorganization which must follow that of demolition. The economic change which will result from the Social Revolution will be so immense and so profound, it must so change all the relations based to-day on property and exchange, that it is impossible for one or any individual to elaborate the different social forms, which must spring up in the society of the future. This elaboration of new social forms can only be made by the collective work of the masses. To satisfy the immense variety of conditions and needs which will spring up as soon as private property shall be abolished, it is necessary to have the collective suppleness of mind of the whole people. Any authority external to it will only be an obstacle, only a trammel on the organic labor which must be accomplished, and beside that a source of discord and hatred.
A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.—POLICE PROTECTION.
CHICAGO'S pride are the stockyards, the Standard Oil University, and Miss Jane Addams. It is, therefore, perfectly natural that the sensibility of such a city would suffer as soon as it became known that an obscure person, by the common name of E. G. Smith, was none other than the awful Emma Goldman, and that she had not even presented herself to Mayor Dunne, the platonic lover of Municipal Ownership. However, not much harm came of it.
The Chicago newspapers, who cherish the truth like a costly jewel, made the discovery that the shrewd Miss Smith compromised a number of Chicago's aristocracy and excellencies, among others also Baron von Schlippenbach, consul of the Russian Empire. We consider it our duty to defend this gentleman against such an awful accusation. Miss Smith never visited the house of the Baron, nor did she attend any of his banquets. We know her well and feel confident that she never would put her foot on the threshold of a representative of a government that crushes every free breath, every free word; that sends her very best and noblest sons and daughters to prison or the gallows; that has the children of the soil, the peasants, publicly flogged; and that is responsible for the barbarous slaughter of thousands of Jews.
Miss Jane Addams, too, is quite safe from Miss Smith. True, she invited her to be present at a reception, but, knowing the weak knees of the soup kitchen philanthropy from past experience, Miss Smith called her up on the 'phone and told her that E. G. S. was the dreaded Emma Goldman. It must have been quite a shock to the lady; after all, one cannot afford to hurt the sensibilities of society, so long as one has political and public aspirations. Miss E. G. Smith, being a strong believer in the prevention of cruelty, preferred to leave the purity of the Hull House untouched. After her return to New York, E. G. Smith sent Smith about its business, and started on a lecture tour in her own right, as Emma Goldman.
Cleveland. Dear old friends and co-workers: The work you accomplished was splendid, also the comradely spirit of the young. But why spoil it by bad example of applying for protection from the city authorities? It does not behoove us, who neither believe in their right to prohibit free assembly, nor to permit it, to appeal to them. If the authorities choose to do either, they merely prove their autocracy. Those who love freedom must understand that it is even more distasteful to speak under police protection than it is to suffer under their persecution. However, the meetings were very encouraging and the feeling of solidarity sweet and refreshing.
Buffalo. The shadow of September 6 still haunts the police of that city. Their only vision of an Anarchist is one who is forever lying in wait for human life, which is, of course, very stupid; but stupidity and authority always join forces. Capt. Ward, who, with a squad of police, came to save the innocent citizens of Buffalo, asked if we knew the law, and was quite surprised that that was not our trade; that we had not been employed to disentangle the chaos of the law,—that it was his affair to know the law. However, the Captain showed himself absolutely ignorant of the provisions of the American Constitution. Of course, his superiors knew what they were about when they set the Constitution aside, as old and antiquated, and, instead, enacted a law which gives the average officer a right to invade the head and heart of a man, as to what he thinks and feels. Capt. Ward added an amendment to the anti-Anarchist law. He declared any other language than English a felony, and, since Max Baginski could only avail himself of the German language, he was not permitted to speak. How is that for our law-abiding citizens? A man is brutally prevented from speaking, because he does not know the refined English language of the police force.
Emma Goldman delivered her address in English. It is not likely that Capt. Ward understood enough of that language. However, the audience did, and if the police of this country were not so barefaced, the saviour of Buffalo would have wished himself anywhere rather than to stand exposed as a clown before a large gathering of men and women.
The meeting the following evening was forcibly dispersed before the speakers had arrived. Ignorance is always brutal when it is backed by power.
Toronto. King Edward Hotel, Queen Victoria Manicuring Parlor. It was only when we read these signs that we realized that we were on the soil of the British Empire.
However, the monarchical authorities of Canada were more hospitable and much freer than those of our free Republic. Not a sign of an officer at any of the meetings.
The city? A gray sky, rain, storms. Altogether one was reminded of one of Heine's witty, drastic criticisms in reference to a well-known German university town. "Dogs on the street," Heine writes, "implore strangers to kick them, so that they may have some change from the awful monotony and dulness."
Rochester. The neighborly influence of the Buffalo police seems to have had a bad effect upon the mental development of the Rochester authorities. The hall was packed with officers at both meetings. The government of Rochester, however, was not saved—the police kept themselves in good order. Some of them seem to have benefited by the lectures. That accounts for the familiarity of one of Rochester's "finest," who wanted to shake Emma Goldman's hand. E. G. had to decline. Baron von Schlippenbach or an American representative of law and disorder,—where is the difference?
Syracuse. The city where the trains run through the streets. With Tolstoy, one feels that civilization is a crime and a mistake, when one sees nerve-wrecking machines running through the streets, poisoning the atmosphere with soft coal smoke.
What! Anarchists within the walls of Syracuse? O horror! The newspapers reported of special session at City Hall, how to meet the terrible calamity.
Well, Syracuse still stands on its old site. The second meeting, attended largely by "genuine" Americans, brought by curiosity perhaps, was very successful. We were assured that the lecture made a splendid impression, which led us to think that we probably were guilty of some foolishness, as the Greek philosopher, when his lectures were applauded, would turn to his hearers and ask, "Gentlemen, have I committed some folly?"
E. G. and M. B.
THE MORAL DEMAND.
A Comedy, in One Act, by Otto Erich Hartleben.
Translated from the German for "Mother Earth."
Rita Revera, concert singer.
Friedrich Stierwald, owner of firm of "C. W. Stierwald Sons" in Rudolstadt.
Bertha, Rita's maid.
Time.—End of the nineteenth century.
Place.—A large German fashionable bathing resort.
Scene.—Rita's boudoir. Small room elegantly furnished in Louis XVI. style. In the background, a broad open door, with draperies, which leads into an antechamber. To the right, a piano, in front of which stands a large, comfortable stool.
Rita (enters the antechamber attired in an elaborate ball toilette. She wears a gray silk cloak, a lace fichu, and a parasol. Gaily tripping toward the front, she sings): "Les envoyées du paradis sont les mascottes, mes amis...." (She lays the parasol on the table and takes off her long white gloves, all the while singing the melody. She interrupts herself and calls aloud) Bertha! Bertha! (Sings) O Bertholina, O Bertholina!
Bertha (walks through the middle): My lady, your pleasure?
(Rita has taken off her cloak and stands in front of the mirror. She is still humming the melody absentmindedly).
(Bertha takes off Rita's wraps.)
Rita (turns around merrily): Tell me, Bertha, why does not the electric bell ring? I must always sing first, must always squander all my flute notes first ere I can entice you to come. What do you suppose that costs? With that I can immediately arrange another charity matinée. Terrible thing, isn't it?
Bertha: Yes. The man has not yet repaired it.
Rita: O, Bertholina, why has the man not yet repaired it?
Bertha: Yes. The man intended to come early in the morning.
Rita: The man has often wanted to do so. He does not seem to possess a strong character. (She points to her cloak) Dust it well before placing it in the wardrobe. The dust is simply terrible in this place ... and this they call a fresh-air resort. Has anybody called?
Bertha: Yes, my lady, the Count. He has——
Rita: Well, yes; I mean anyone else?
Bertha: No. No one.
Rita: Hm! Let me have my dressing gown.
(Bertha goes to the sleeping chamber to the left.)
Rita (steps in front of the mirror, singing softly): "Les envoyées du paradis...." (Suddenly raising her voice, she asks Bertha) How long did he wait?
Rita: I would like to know how long he waited.
Bertha: An hour.
Rita (to herself): He does not love me any more. (Loudly) But during that time he might have at least repaired the bell. He is of no use whatever. (She laughs.)
Bertha: The Count came directly from the matinée and asked me where your ladyship had gone to dine. Naturally I did not know.
Rita: Did he ask—anything else?
Bertha: No, he looked at the photographs.
Rita (in the door): Well? And does he expect to come again to-day?
Bertha: Yes, certainly. At four o'clock.
Rita (looks at the clock): Oh, but that's boring. Now it is already half-past three. One cannot even drink coffee in peace. Hurry, Bertha, prepare the coffee.
(Bertha leaves the room, carrying the articles of attire.)
(Rita, after a pause, singing a melancholy melody.)
(Friedrich Stierwald, a man very carefully dressed in black, about thirty years of age, with a black crêpe around his stiff hat, enters from the rear into the antechamber, followed by Bertha.)
Bertha: But the lady is not well.
Friedrich: Please tell the lady that I am passing through here, and that I must speak with her about a very pressing matter. It is absolutely necessary. Please! (He gives her money and his card.)
Bertha: Yes, I shall take your card, but I fear she will not receive you.
Friedrich: Why not? O, yes! Just go——
Bertha: This morning she sang at a charity matinée and so——
Friedrich: I know, I know. Listen! (Rita's singing has grown louder) Don't you hear how she sings? Oh, do go!
Bertha (shaking her head): Well, then—wait a moment. (She passes through the room to the half-opened door of the sleeping apartment, knocks) Dear lady!
Rita (from within): Well? What's the matter?
Bertha (at the door): Oh, this gentleman here—he wishes to see you very much. He is passing through here.
Rita (within; laughs): Come in.
(Friedrich has walked up to the middle door, where he remains standing.)
Rita: Well. Who is it? Friedrich—— Hmm—— I shall come immediately.
Bertha (comes out and looks at Friedrich in surprise): My lady wishes you to await her. (She walks away, after having taken another glance at Friedrich.)
(Friedrich looks about embarrassed and shyly.)
(Rita enters attired in a tasteful dressing gown, but remains standing in the door.)
Friedrich (bows; softly): Good day.
(Rita looks at him with an ironical smile and remains silent.)
Friedrich: You remember me? Don't you?
Rita (quietly): Strange. You—come to see me? What has become of your good training? (Laughs.) Have you lost all sense of shame?
Friedrich (stretches out his hand, as if imploring): Oh, I beg of you, I beg of you; not this tone! I really came to explain everything to you, everything. And possibly to set things aright.
Rita: You—with me! (She shakes her head.) Incredible! But, please, since you are here, sit down. With what can you serve me?
Friedrich (seriously): Miss Hattenbach, I really should——
Rita (lightly): Pardon me, my name is Revera. Rita Revera.
Friedrich: I know that you call yourself by that name now. But you won't expect me, an old friend of your family, to make use of this romantic, theatrical name. For me you are now, as heretofore, the daughter of the esteemed house of Hattenbach, with which I——
Rita (quickly and sharply): With which your father transacts business, I know.
Friedrich (with emphasis): With which I now am myself associated.
Rita: Is it possible? And your father?
Friedrich (seriously): If I had the slightest inkling of your address, yes, even your present name, I should not have missed to announce to you the sudden death of my father.
Rita (after pause): Oh, he is dead. I see you still wear mourning. How long ago is it?
Friedrich: Half a year. Since then I am looking for you, and I hope you will not forbid me to address you now, as of yore, with that name, which is so highly esteemed in our native city.
Rita (smiling friendly): Your solemnity—is delightful. Golden! But sit down.
Friedrich (remains standing; he is hurt): I must confess, Miss Hattenbach, that I was not prepared for such a reception from you. I hoped that I might expect, after these four or five years, that you would receive me differently than with this—with this—how shall I say?
Friedrich: No, with this arrogance.
Friedrich (controlling himself): I beg your pardon. I am sorry to have said that.
Rita (after a pause, hostile): You wish to be taken seriously? (She sits down, with a gesture of the hand) Please, what have you to say to me?
Friedrich: Much. Oh, very much. (He also sits down.) But—you are not well to-day?
Rita: Not well? What makes you say so?
Friedrich: Yes, the maid told me so.
Rita: The maid—she is a useful person. That makes me think. You certainly expect to stay here some time, do you not?
Friedrich: With your permission. I have much to tell you.
Rita: I thought so. (Calling loudly) Bertha! Bertha! Do you suppose one could get an electric bell repaired here? Impossible.
Bertha (enters): My lady?
Rita: Bertha, when the Count comes—now I am really sick.
Bertha (nods): Very well. (She leaves.)
Rita (calls after her): And where is the coffee? I shall famish.
Bertha (outside): Immediately.
Friedrich: The—the Count—did you say?
Rita: Yes, quite a fine fellow otherwise, but—would not fit in now. I wanted to say: I am passionately fond of electric bells. You know they have a fabulous charm for me. One only needs to touch them softly, ever so softly, with the small finger, and still cause a terrible noise. Fine—is it not? You wanted to talk about serious matters. It seems so to me.
Friedrich: Yes. And I beg of you, Miss Erna——
Rita: Oh, well!
Friedrich (continuing): I beg of you; be really and truly serious. Yes? Listen to what I have to say to you. Be assured that it comes from an honest, warm heart. During the years in which I have not seen you, I have grown to be a serious man—perhaps, too serious for my age—but my feelings for you have remained young, quite young. Do you hear me, Erna?
Rita (leaning back in the rocking chair, with a sigh): I hear.
Friedrich: And you know, Erna, how I have always loved you from my earliest youth, yes, even sooner than I myself suspected. You know that, yes?
(Rita is silent and does not look at him.)
Friedrich: When I was still a foolish schoolboy I already called you my betrothed, and I could not but think otherwise than that I would some day call you my wife. You certainly know that, don't you?
Rita (reserved): Yes, I know it.
Friedrich: Well, then you ought to be able to understand what dreadful feelings overcame me when I discovered, sooner than you or the world, the affection of my father for you. That was—no, you cannot grasp it.
Rita (looks at him searchingly): Sooner than I and all the world?
Friedrich: Oh, a great deal sooner ... that was.... That time was the beginning of the hardest innermost struggles for me. What was I to do? (He sighs deeply.) Ah, Miss Erna, we people are really——
Rita: Yes, yes.
Friedrich: We are dreadfully shallow-minded. How seldom one of us can really live as he would like to. Must we not always and forever consider others—and our surroundings?
Friedrich: Well, yes, we do so, at least. And when it is our own father! For, look here, Erna, I never would have been able to oppose my father! I was used, as you well know, from childhood to always look up to my father with the greatest respect. He used to be severe, my father, proud and inaccessible, but—if I may be permitted to say so, he was an excellent man.
Friedrich (eagerly): Yes, indeed! You must remember that it was he alone who established our business by means of his powerful energy and untiring diligence. Only now I myself have undertaken the management of the establishment. I am able to see what an immense work he has accomplished.
Rita (simply): Yes, he was an able business man.
Friedrich: In every respect! Ability personified, and he had grown to be fifty-two years of age and was still, still—how shall I say?
Rita: Still able.
Friedrich: Well, yes; I mean a vigorous man in his best years. For fifteen years he had been a widower, he had worked, worked unceasingly, and then—the house was well established—he could think of placing some of the work upon younger shoulders. He could think of enjoying his life once more.
Rita (softly): That is——
Friedrich (continuing): And he thought he had found, in you, the one who would bring back to him youth and the joy of life.
Rita (irritated): Yes, but then you ought to—(Breaks off.) Oh, it is not worth while.
Friedrich: How? I should have been man enough to say: No, I forbid it; that is a folly of age. I, your son, forbid it. I demand her for myself. The young fortune is meant for me—not for you?——No, Erna, I could not do that. I could not do that.
Friedrich: I, the young clerk, with no future before me!
Friedrich: My entire training and my conceptions urged me to consider it my duty to simply stand aside and stifle my affection, as I did—as I already told you even before any other person had an idea of the intentions of my father. I gradually grew away from you.
Rita (amused): Gradually—yes, I recollect. You suddenly became formal. Indeed, very nice!
Friedrich: I thought——
(Bertha comes with the coffee and serves.)
Rita: Will you take a cup with me?
Friedrich (thoughtlessly): I thought——(Correcting himself) pardon me! I thank you!
Rita: I hope it will not disturb you if I drink my coffee while you continue.
Friedrich: Please (embarrassed). I thought it a proper thing. I hoped that my cold and distant attitude would check a possible existing affection for me.
Rita: Possible existing affection! Fie! Now you are beginning to lie! (She jumps up and walks nervously through the room.) As though you had not positively known that! (Stepping in front of him) Or what did you take me for when I kissed you?
Friedrich (very much frightened, also rises): O, Erna, I always——
Rita (laughs): You are delightful! Delightful! Still the same bashful boy—who does not dare—(she laughs and sits down again.) Delightful.
Friedrich (after a silence, hesitatingly): Well, are you going to allow me to call you Erna again, as of yore?
Rita: As of yore. (She sighs, then gaily) If you care to.
Friedrich (happy): Yes? May I?
Rita (heartily): O, yes, Fritz. That's better, isn't it? It sounds more natural, eh?
Friedrich (presses her hand and sighs): Yes, really. You take a heavy load from me. Everything that I want to say to you can be done so much better in the familiar tone.
Rita: Oh! Have you still so much to say to me?
Friedrich: Well—but now tell me first: how was it possible for you to undertake such a step. What prompted you to leave so suddenly? Erna, Erna, how could you do that?
Rita (proudly): How I could? Can you ask me that? Do you really not know it?
Friedrich (softly): Oh, yes; I do know it, but—it takes so much to do that.
Rita: Not more than was in me.
Friedrich: One thing I must confess to you, although it was really bad of me. But I knew no way out of it. I felt relieved after you had gone.
Rita: Well, then, that was your heroism.
Friedrich: Do not misunderstand me. I knew my father had——
Rita: Yes, yes—but do not talk about it any more.
Friedrich: You are right. It was boyish of me. It did not last long, and then I mourned for you—not less than your parents. Oh, Erna! If you would see your parents now. They have aged terribly. Your father has lost his humor altogether, and is giving full vent to his old passion for red wine. Your mother is always ailing, hardly ever leaves the house, and both, even though they never lose a word about it, cannot reconcile themselves to the thought that their only child left them.
Rita (after a pause, awakens from her meditation, harshly): Perhaps you were sent by my father?
Rita: Then I would show you the door.
Rita: A man, who ventured to pay his debts with me——
Friedrich: How so; what do you mean?
Rita: Oh—let's drop that. Times were bad. But to-day the house of Hattenbach enjoys its good old standing, as you say, and has overcome the crisis. Then your father must have had some consideration—without me. Well, then.——And Rudolstadt still stands—on the old spot. That's the main thing. But now let us talk about something else, I beg of you.
Friedrich: No, no, Erna. What you allude to, that——do you really believe my father had——
Rita: Your father had grown used to buy and attain everything in life through money. Why not buy me also? And he had already received the promise—not from me, but from my father. But I am free! I ran away and am my own mistress! (With haughtiness.) A young girl, all alone! Down with the gang!
(Friedrich is silent and holds his head.)
Rita (steps up to him and touches his shoulder, in a friendly manner): Don't be sad. At that time your father was the stronger, and——Life is not otherwise. After all, one must assert oneself.
Friedrich: But he robbed you of your happiness.
Rita (jovially): Who knows? It is just as well.
Friedrich (surprised): Is that possible? Do you call that happiness, this being alone?
Rita: Yes. That is MY happiness—my freedom, and I love it with jealousy, for I fought for it myself.
Friedrich (bitterly): A great happiness! Outside of family ties, outside the ranks of respectable society.
Rita (laughs aloud, but without bitterness): Respectable society! Yes. I fled from that—thank Heaven. (harshly) But if you do not come in the name of my father, what do you want here? Why do you come? For what purpose? What do you want of me?
Friedrich: Erna, you ask that in a strange manner.
Rita: Well, yes. I have a suspicion that you—begrudge me my liberty. How did you find me, anyway?
Friedrich: Yes, that was hard enough.
Rita: Rita Revera is not so unknown.
Friedrich: Rita Revera! Oh, no! How often I have read that name these last years—in the newspapers in Berlin, on various placards, in large letters. But how could I ever have thought that you were meant by it?
Rita (laughs): Why did you not go to the "Winter Garden" when you were in Berlin?
Friedrich: I never frequent such places.
Rita: Pardon me! Oh, I always forget the old customs.
Friedrich: Oh, please, please, dear Erna; not in this tone of voice!
Rita: Which tone?
Friedrich: Erna! Do not make matters so difficult for me. See, after I had finally discovered, through an agency in Berlin, and after hunting a long time, that you were the famous Revera, I was terribly shocked at first, terribly sad, and, for a moment, I thought of giving up everything. My worst fears were over. I had the assurance that you lived in good, and as I now see, in comfortable circumstances. But, on the other hand, I had to be prepared that you might have grown estranged to the world in which I live—that we could hardly understand each other.
Rita: Hm! Shall I tell you what was your ideal—how you would have liked to find me again? As a poor seamstress, in an attic room, who, during the four years, had lived in hunger and need—but respectably, that is the main point. Then you would have stretched forth your kind arms, and the poor, pale little dove would have gratefully embraced you. Will you deny that you have imagined it thus and even wished for it?
Friedrich (looks at her calmly): Well, is there anything wrong about it?
Rita: But how did it happen that, regardless of this, of this disappointment, you, nevertheless, continued to search for me?
Friedrich: Thank goodness, at the right moment I recollected your clear, silvery, childlike laughter. Right in the midst of my petty scruples it resounded in my ears, as at the time when you ridiculed my gravity. Do you still remember that time, Erna?
(Rita is silent.)
Bertha (enters with an enormous bouquet of dark red roses): My lady—from the Count.
Rita (jumps up, nervously excited): Roses! My dark roses! Give them to me! Ah! (She holds them toward Friedrich and asks) Did he say anything?
Bertha: No, said nothing, but——
Friedrich (shoves the bouquet, which she holds up closely to his face, aside): I thank you.
Rita (without noticing him, to Bertha): Well?
Bertha (pointing to the bouquet): The Count has written something on a card.
Rita: His card? Where? (She searches among the flowers) Oh, here! (She reads; then softly to Bertha) It is all right.
Rita (reads again): "Pour prendre congé." (With an easy sigh) Yes, yes.
Friedrich: What is the matter?
Rita: Sad! His education was hardly half finished and he already forsakes me.
Friedrich: What do you mean? I do not understand you at all.
Rita (her mind is occupied): Too bad. Now he'll grow entirely stupid.
Friedrich (rises importantly): Erna, answer me. What relationship existed between you and the Count?
Rita (laughs): What business is that of yours?
Friedrich (solemnly): Erna! Whatever it might have been, this will not do any longer.
Rita (gaily): No, no; you see it is already ended.
Friedrich: No, Erna, that must all be ended. You must get out of all this—entirely—and forever.
Rita (looks at him surprised and inquiringly): Hm! Strange person.
Friedrich (grows more eager and walks up and down in the room): Such a life is immoral. You must recognize it. Yes, and I forbid you to live on in this fashion. I have the right to demand it of you.
Rita (interrupts him sharply): Demand? You demand something of me?
Friedrich: Yes, indeed, demand! Not for me—no—in the name of morals. That which I ask of you is simply a moral demand, do you understand, a moral demand, which must be expected of every woman.
Rita: "Must!" And why?
Friedrich: Because—because—because—well, dear me—because—otherwise everything will stop!
Rita: What will stop? Life?
Friedrich: No, but morals.
Rita: Ah, I thank you. Now I understand you. One must be moral because—otherwise morality will stop.
Friedrich: Why, yes. That is very simple.
Rita: Yes—now, please, what would I have to do in order to fulfill your demand? I am curious like a child now, and shall listen obediently. (She sits down again.)
Friedrich (also sits down and grasps her hand, warmly): Well, see, my dear Erna, everything can still be undone. In Rudolstadt everybody believes you are in England with relatives. Even if you have never been there——
Rita: Often enough. My best engagements.
Friedrich: So much the better. Then you certainly speak English?
Rita: Of course.
Friedrich: And you are acquainted with English customs. Excellent. Oh, Erna. Your father will be pleased, he once confessed to me, when he had a little too much wine. You know him: he grows sentimental then.
Rita (to herself): They are all that way.
Rita: Oh, nothing. Please continue. Well—I could come back?
Friedrich: Certainly! Fortunately, during these last years, since you have grown so famous, nobody has——
Rita: I have grown notorious only within a year.
Friedrich: Well, most likely nobody in Rudolstadt has ever seen you on the boards. In one word, you must return.
Rita: From England?
Friedrich: Yes, nothing lies in the way. And your mother will be overjoyed.
Rita: Nay, nay.
Friedrich: How well that you have taken a different name.
Rita: Ah, that is it. Yes, I believe that. Then they know that I am Rita Revera.
Friedrich: I wrote them. They will receive you with open arms. Erna! I beg of you! I entreat you; come with me! It is still time. To-day. You cannot know, but anybody from Rudolstadt who knows might come to the theatre and——
Rita (decidedly): No one from Rudolstadt will do that. They are too well trained for that. You see it by your own person. But go on! If I would care to, if I really would return—what then?
Friedrich: Then? Well, then, you would be in the midst of the family and society again—and then——
Rita: And then?
Friedrich: Then, after some time has elapsed and you feel at home and when all is forgotten, as though nothing had ever happened——
Rita: But a great deal has happened.
Friedrich: Erna, you must not take me for such a Philistine that I would mind that. At heart I am unprejudiced. No, really, I know (softly) my own fault, and I know Life. I know very well, and I cannot ask it of you, that you, in a career like yours, you——
Friedrich: Well, that you should have remained entirely faultless. And I do not ask it of you either.
Rita: You do well at that.
Friedrich: I mean, whatever has happened within these four years—lies beyond us, does not concern me—but shall not concern you any longer either. Rita Revera has ceased to be—Erna Hattenbach returns to her family.
Rita: Lovely, very lovely. Hm!—but then, what then? Shall I start a cooking school?
Friedrich (with a gentle reproach): But, Erna! Don't you understand me? Could you think of anything else than—— Of course, I shall marry you then.
(Rita looks at him puzzled.)
Friedrich: But that is self-evident. Why should I have looked you up otherwise? Why should I be here? But, dear Erna, don't look so stunned.
Rita (still stares at him): "Simply—marry." Strange. (She turns around towards the open piano, plays and sings softly) Farilon, farila, farilette.
Friedrich (has risen): Erna! Do not torment me!
Rita: Torment? No. That would not be right. You are a good fellow. Give me a kiss. (She rises.)
Friedrich (embraces and kisses her): My Erna! Oh, you have grown so much prettier! So much prettier!
(Rita leans her head on his shoulder.)
Friedrich: But now come. Let us not lose one moment.
(Rita does not move.)
Friedrich: If possible let everything be.... Come! (He pushes her with gentle force) You cry?
Rita (hastily wipes the tears from her eyes, controls herself): O, nonsense. Rita Revera does not cry—she laughs. (Laughs forcedly.)
Friedrich: Erna, do not use that name. I do not care to hear it again!
Rita: Oh—you do not want to hear it any more. You would like to command me. You come here and assume that that which life and hard times have made of me you can wipe out in a half hour! No! You do not know life and know nothing of me. (Harshly) My name is Revera, and I shall not marry a merchant from Rudolstadt.
Friedrich: How is that? You still hesitate?
Rita: Do I look as though I hesitated? (She steps up closer to him.) Do you know, Fred, that during the years after my escape I often went hungry, brutally hungry? Do you know that I ran about in the most frightful dives, with rattling plate, collecting pennies and insults? Do you know what it means to humiliate oneself for dry bread? You see; that has been my school. Do you understand that I had to become an entirely different person or go to ruin? One who owes everything to himself, who is proud of himself, but who no longer respects anything, above all, no conventional measures and weights? And do you understand, Fred, that it would be base on my part were I to follow you to the Philistine?
Friedrich (after a pause, sadly): No, I do not understand that.
Rita (again gaily): I thought so. Shall I dread there every suspicion and tremble before every fool, whereas I can breathe free air, enjoy sunshine and the best conscience. You know that pretty part in the Walküre? (She sings):
"Greet Rudolstadt for me,
Greet my father and mother
And all the heroes....
I shall not follow you to them!"
Now you know. (She sits down at the piano again.)
Friedrich (after silence): Even if you have lived through hard times, that still does not give you the right to disregard the duties of morals and customs.
Rita (plays and sings): "Farilon, farila, farilette—"
Friedrich: I cannot understand how you can refuse me, when I offer you the opportunity of returning to ordered circumstances.
Rita: I do not love the "ordered" circumstances. On the contrary, I must have something to train.
Friedrich: And I? I shall never be anything to you any more? You thrust me also aside in your stubbornness.
Rita: But not at all. Why?
Friedrich: How so? Did you not state just now that you would never marry a merchant from Rudolstadt.
Friedrich: Do you see? You cannot be so cold and heartless towards me? (Flattering) Why did you kiss me before? I know you also yearn in your innermost heart for those times in which we secretly saw and found each other. You also, and, even if you deny it, I felt it before when you cried. (Softly) Erna! Come along, come along with me! Come! Become my dear wife!
Rita (looks at him quietly): No, I shall not do such a thing.
Friedrich (starts nervously; after a pause): Erna! Is that your last word?
Friedrich: Consider well what you say!
Rita: I know what I am about.
Friedrich: Erna! You want—to remain what you are?
Rita: Yes. That's just what I want.
Friedrich (remains for some time struggling, then grasps his hat): Then—adieu! (He hurries toward the left into the bedroom.)
Rita (calls smiling): Halt! Not there.
Friedrich (returns, confused): Pardon me, I——
Rita: Poor Fred, did you stray into my bedroom? There is the door. (Long pause. Several times he tries to speak. She laughs gently. Then she sings and plays the song from "Mamselle Nitouche"):
A minuit, après la fête,
Rev'naient Babet et Cadet;
Cristi! la nuit est complète,
Faut nous dépêcher, Babet.
Tâche d'en profiter, grosse bête!
Farilon, farila, farilette.
J'ai trop peur, disait Cadet—
J'ai pas peur, disait Babet—
Larirette, larire.— — —
(Friedrich at first listens against his will, even makes a step toward the door. By and by he becomes fascinated and finally is charmed. When she finishes, he puts his stiff hat on the table and walks toward her with a blissful smile.)
Rita: Now? You even smile? Did I impress you?
Friedrich (drops down on his knees in front of her): Oh, Erna, you are the most charming woman on earth. (He kisses her hands wildly.)
Rita (stoops down to him, softly and merrily): Why run away? Why? If you still love me, can you run off—you mule?
Friedrich: Oh, I'll remain—I remain with you.
Rita: It was well that you missed the door.
Friedrich: Oh, Erna——
Rita: But now you'll call me Rita—do you understand? Well? Are you going to—are you going to be good?
Friedrich: Rita! Rita! Everything you wish.
Rita: Everything I wish. (She kisses him.) And now tell me about your moral demand. Yes? You are delightful when you talk about it. So delightful.
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