MoboReader > Literature > The Parenticide Club

   Chapter 18 No.18

The Parenticide Club By Ambrose Bierce Characters: 107702

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Modern Christianity is beautiful exceedingly, and he who admires not is eyed batly and minded as the mole. "Sell all thou hast," said Christ and "give to the poor." All-no less-in order "to be saved." The poor were Christ's peculiar care. Ever for them and their privations, and not greatly for their spiritual darkness, fell from his lips the compassionate word, the mandate divine for their relief and cherishing. Of foreign missions, of home missions, of mission schools, of church buildings, of work among pagans in partibus infidelium, of work among sailors, of communion table, of delegates to councils-of any of these things he knew no more than the moon man. They were inventions of others, as is the entire florid and flamboyant fabric of ecclesiasticism that has been reared, stone by stone and century after century, upon his simple life and works and words. "Founder," indeed! He founded nothing, instituted nothing; Paul did all that Christ simply went about doing, and being, good-admonishing the rich, whom he regarded as criminals, comforting the luckless and uttering wisdom with that Oriental indirection wherein our stupid ingenuity finds imaginary warrant for all desiderated pranks and fads.


THE desire for life everlasting has commonly been affirmed to be universal-at least that is the view taken by those unacquainted with Oriental faiths and with Oriental character. Those of us whose knowledge is a trifle wider are not prepared to say that the desire is universal or even general.

If the devout Buddhist, for example, wishes to "live alway," he has not succeeded in very clearly formulating the desire. The sort of thing that he is pleased to hope for is not what we should call life, and not what many of us would care for.

When a man says that everybody has "a horror of annihilation," we may be very sure that he has not many opportunities for observation, or that he has not availed himself of all that he has. Most persons go to sleep rather gladly, yet sleep is virtual annihilation while it lasts; and if it should last forever the sleeper would be no worse off after a million years of it than after an hour of it There are minds sufficiently logical to think of it that way, and to them annihilation is not a disagreeable thing to contemplate and expect.

In this matter of immortality, people's beliefs appear to go along with their wishes. The chap who is content with annihilation thinks he will get it; those that want immortality are pretty sure they are immortal, and that is a very comfortable allotment of faiths. The few of us that are left unprovided for are those who don't bother themselves much about the matter, one way or another.

The question of human immortality is the most momentous that the mind is capable of conceiving. If it is a fact that the dead live, all other facts are in comparison trivial and without interest. The prospect of obtaining certain knowledge with regard to this stupendous matter is not encouraging. In all countries but those in barbarism the powers of the profoundest and most penetrating intelligences have been ceaselessly addressed to the task of glimpsing a life beyond this life; yet today no one can truly say that he knows. It is still as much a matter of faith as ever it was.

Our modern Christian nations hold a passionate hope and belief in another world, yet the most popular writer and speaker of his time, the man whose lectures drew the largest audiences, the work of whose pen brought him the highest rewards, was he who most strenuously strove to destroy the ground of that hope and unsettle the foundations of that belief.

The famous and popular Frenchman, Professor of Spectacular Astronomy, Camille Flammarion, affirms immortality because he has talked with departed souls who said that it was true. Yes, Monsieur, but surely you know the rule about hearsay evidence. We Anglo-Saxons are very particular about that. Your testimony is of that character.

"I don't repudiate the presumptive arguments of school men. I merely supplement them with something positive. For instance, if you assumed the existence of God this argument of the scholastics is a good one. God has implanted in all men the desire of perfect happiness. This desire can not be satisfied in our lives here. If there were not another life wherein to satisfy it then God would be a deceiver. Voila tout."

There is more: the desire of perfect happiness does not imply immortality, even if there is a God, for:

( 1 ) God may not have implanted it, but merely suffers it to exist, as He suffers sin to exist, the desire of wealth, the desire to live longer than we do in this world. It is not held that God implanted all the desires of the human heart. Then why hold that He implanted that of perfect happiness?

(2) Even if He did-even if a divinely implanted desire entail its own gratification-even if it can not be gratified in this life-that does not imply immortality. It implies only another life long enough for its gratification just once. An eternity of gratification is not a logical inference from it.

(3) Perhaps God is "a deceiver" who knows that He is not? Assumption of the existence of a God is one thing; assumption of the existence of a God who is honorable and candid according to our finite conception of honor and candor is another.

(4) There may be an honorable and candid God. He may have implanted in us the desire of perfect happiness. It may be-it is-impossible to gratify that desire in this life. Still, another life is not implied, for God may not have intended us to draw the inference that He is going to gratify it. If omniscient and omnipotent, God must be held to have intended, whatever occurs, but no such God is assumed in M. Flammarion's illustration, and it may be that God's knowledge and power are limited, or that one of them is limited.

M. Flammarion is a learned, if somewhat "yellow" astronomer.

He has a tremendous imagination, which naturally is more at home in the marvelous and catastrophic than in the orderly regions of familiar phenomena. To him the heavens are an immense pyrotechnicon and he is the master of the show and sets off the fireworks. But he knows nothing of logic, which is the science of straight thinking, and his views of things have therefore no value; they are nebulous.

Nothing is clearer than that our pre-existence is a dream, having absolutely no basis in anything that we know or can hope to know. Of after-existence there is said to be evidence, or rather testimony, in assurances of those who are in present enjoyment of it-if it is enjoyable. Whether this testimony has actually been given-and it is the only testimony worth a moment's consideration-is a disputed point Many persons while living this life have professed to have received it. But nobody professes, or ever has professed, to have received a communication of any kind from one in actual experience of the fore-life. "The souls as yet ungarmented," if such there are, are dumb to question. The Land beyond the Grave has been, if not observed, yet often and variously described: if not explored and surveyed, yet carefully charted. From among so many accounts of it that we have, he must be fastidious indeed who can not be suited. But of the Fatherland that spreads before the cradle-the great Heretofore, wherein we all dwelt if we are to dwell in the Hereafter, we have no account. Nobody professes knowledge of that. No testimony reaches our ears of flesh concerning its topographical or other features; no one has been so enterprising as to wrest from its actual inhabitants any particulars of their character and appearance, to refresh our memory withal. And among educated experts and professional proponents of worlds to be there is a general denial of its existence.

I am of their way of thinking about that. The fact that we have no recollection of a former life is entirely conclusive of the matter. To have lived an unrecollected life is impossible and unthinkable, for there would be nothing to connect the new life with the old-no thread of continuity-nothing that persisted from the one life to the other. The later birth is that of another person, an altogether different being, unrelated to the first-a new John Smith succeeding to the late Tom Jones.

Let us not be misled here by a false analogy. Today I may get a thwack on the mazzard which will give me an intervening season of unconsciousness between yesterday and tomorrow. Thereafter I may live to a green old age with no recollection of anything that I knew, or did, or was before the accident; yet I shall be the same person, for between the old life and the new there will be a nexus, a thread of continuity, something spanning the gulf from the one state to the other, and the same in both-namely, my body with its habits, capacities and powers. That is I; that identifies me as my former self-authenticates and credentials me as the person that incurred the cranial mischance, dislodging memory.

But when death occurs all is dislodged if memory is; for between two merely mental or spiritual existences memory is the only nexus conceivable; consciousness of identity is the only identity. To live again without memory of having lived before is to live another. Re-existence without recollection is absurd; there is nothing to re-exist.


THIS is not a country of equal fortunes; outside a Socialist's dream no such country exists or can exist. But as nearly as possible this is a country of equal opportunities for those who begin life with nothing but nature's endowments-and of such is the kingdom of success.

In nine instances in ten successful Americans-that is Americans who have succeeded in any worthy ambition or legitimate field of endeavor-have started with nothing but the skin they stood in. It almost may be said, indeed, that to begin with nothing is a main condition of success-in America.

To a young man there is no such hopeless impediment as wealth or the expectation of wealth. Here a man and there a man will be born so abundantly endowed by nature as to overcome the handicap of artificial "advantages," but that is not the rule; usually the chap "born with a gold spoon in his mouth" puts in his time sucking that spoon, and without other employment. Counting possession of the spoon success, why should he bestir himself to achieve what he already has?

The real curled darling of opportunity has nothing in his mouth but his teeth and his appetite-he knows, or is likely to know, what it is to feel his belly sticking to his back. If he have brains a-plenty he will get on, for he must be up and doing-the penalty of indiligence is famine. If he have not, he may up and do to the uttermost satisfaction of his mind and heart, but the end of that man is failure, with possibly Socialism, that last resort of conscious incompetence. It fatigues, this talk of the narrowing opportunities of today, the "closed avenues to success," and the rest of it. Doubtless it serves its purpose of making mischief for the tyrant trusts and the wicked rich generally, but in a six months' bound volume of it there is not enough of truth to float a religion.

Men of brains never had a better chance than now to accomplish all that it is desirable that they should accomplish; and men of no brains never did have much of a chance, nor under any possible conditions can have in this country, nor in any other. They are nature's failures, God's botchwork. Let us be sorry for them, treating them justly and generously; but the Socialism that would level us all down to their plane of achievement and reward is a proposal of which they are themselves the only proponents.

Opportunity, indeed! Who is holding me from composing a great opera that would make me rich and famous?

What oppressive laws forbade me to work my passage up the Yukon as deckhand on a steamboat and discover the gold along Bonanza creek?

What is there in our industrial system that conceals from me the secret of making diamonds from charcoal?

Why was it not I who, entering a lawyer's office as a suitable person to sweep it out, left it as an appointed Justice of the Supreme Court?

The number of actual and possible sources of profit and methods of distinction is infinite. Not all the trusts in the world combined in one trust of trusts could appreciably reduce it-could condemn to permanent failure one man with the talent and the will to succeed. They can abolish that doubtful benefactor of the "small dealer," who lives by charging too much, and that very thickly disguised blessing the "drummer," whom they have to add to the price of everything they sell; but for every opportunity they close they open a new one and leave untouched a thousand actual and a million possible ones. As to their dishonest practices, these are conspicuous and striking, because "lumped," but no worse than the silent, steady aggregate of cheating; by which their constituent firms and individuals, formerly consumed the consumer without his special wonder.


THE promoter of organized charity protests against "the wasteful and mischievous method of undirected relief." He means, naturally, relief that is not directed by somebody else than the person giving it-undirected by him and his kind-professional almoners-philanthropists who deem it more blessed to allot than to bestow. Indubitably much is wasted and some mischief done by indiscriminate giving-and individual givers are addicted to that faulty practice. But there is something to be said for "undirected relief" quite the same. It blesses not only him who receives (when he is worthy; and when he is not upon his own head be it), but him who gives. To those uncalculating persons who, despite the protests of the organized charitable, concede a certain moral value to the spontaneous impulses of the heart and read in the word "relief" a double meaning, the office of the mere distributor is imperfectly sacred. He is even without scriptural authority, and lives in the perpetual challenge of a moral quo warranto. Nevertheless he is not without his uses. He is a tapper of tills that do not open automatically. He is almoner to the uncompassionate, who but for him would give no alms. He negotiates unnatural but not censurable relations between selfishness and ingratitude. The good that he does is purely material. He makes two leaves of fat to grow where but one grew before, lessens the sum of gastric pangs and dorsal chills. All this is something, certainly, but it generates no warm and elevated sentiments and does nothing in mitigation of the poor's animosity to the rich. Organized charity is a sapid and savorless thing; its place among moral agencies is no higher than that of root beer.

Christ did not say "Sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the church to give to the poor." He did not mention the Associated Charities of the period. I do not find the words "The Little Sisters of the Poor ye have always with you," nor "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these Dorcas societies ye have done it unto me." Nowhere do I find myself commanded to enable others to comfort the afflicted and visit the sick and those in prison. Nowhere is recorded God's blessing upon him who makes himself a part of a charity machine-no, not even if he be the guiding lever of the whole mechanism.

Organized charity is a delusion and a snare. It enables Munniglut to think himself a good man for paying annual dues and buying transferable meal tickets. Munniglut is not thereby, a good man. On the Last Great Day, when he cowers in the Ineffable Presence and is asked for an accounting it will not help him to say, "Hearing that A was in want I gave money for his need to B." Nor will it help B to say, "When A was in distress I asked C to relieve him, and myself allotted the relief according to a resolution of D, E and F."

There are blessings and benefactions that one would willingly forego-among them the poor. Quack remedies for poverty amuse; a real specific would kindle a noble enthusiasm. Yet the world would lose much by it; human nature would suffer a change for the worse. Happily and unhappily poverty is not abolishable: "The poor ye have always with you" is a sentence that can never become unintelligible. Effect of a thousand causes, poverty is invincible, eternal. And since we must have it let us thank God for it and avail ourselves of all its advantages to mind and character. He who is not good to the deserving poor-who knows not those of his immediate environment, who goes not among them making inquiry of their personal needs, who does not wish with all his heart and both his hands to relieve them-is a fool.


WHAT I should like to know is, how "the enlargement of woman's sphere" by entrance into the various activities of commercial, professional and industrial life benefits the sex. It may please Helen Gougar and satisfy her sense of logical accuracy to say, as she does: "We women must work in order to fill the places left vacant by liquor-drinking men." But who filled these places before? Did they remain vacant, or were there then disappointed applicants, as now? If my memory serves, there has been no time in the period that it covers when the supply of workers-abstemious male workers-was not in excess of the demand. That it has always been so is sufficiently attested by the universally inadequate wage rate.

Employers seldom fail, and never for long, to get all the workmen they need. The field, then, into which women have put their sickles was already overcrowded with reapers. Whatever employment women have obtained has been got by displacing men-who would otherwise be supporting women. Where is the general advantage? We may shout "high tariff," "combination of capital," "demonetization of silver," and what not, but if searching for the cause of augmented poverty and crime, "industrial discontent," and the tramp evil, instead of dogmatically expounding it, we should take some account of this enormous, sudden addition to the number of workers seeking work. If any one thinks that within the brief period of a generation the visible supply of labor can be enormously augmented without profoundly affecting the stability of things and disastrously touching the interests of wage-workers, let no rude voice dispel his dream of such maleficent agencies as his slumbrous understanding may joy to affirm. And let our Widows of Ashur unlung themselves in advocacy of quack remedies for evils for which they themselves are cause; it remains true that when the contention of two lions for one bone is exacerbated by the accession of a lioness the squabble is not composable by stirring up some bears in the cage adjacent.

Indubitably a woman is under no obligation to sacrifice herself to the good of her sex by refusing needed employment in the hope that it may fall to a man gifted with dependent women. Nevertheless our congratulations are more intelligent when bestowed upon her individual head than when sifted into the hair of all Eve's daughters. This is a world of complexities, in which the lines of interest are so intertangled as frequently to transgress that of sex; and one ambitious to help but half the race may profitably know that every effort to that end provokes a counterbalancing mischief. The "enlargement of woman's opportunities" has benefited individual women. It has not benefited the sex as a whole, and has distinctly damaged the race. The mind that can not discern a score of great and irreparable general evils distinctly traceable to "emancipation of woman" is as impregnable to the light as a toad in a rock.

A marked demerit of the new order of things-the régime of female commercial service-is that its main advantage accrues, not to the race, not to the sex, not to the class, not to the individual woman, but to the person of least need and worth-the male employer. (Female employers in any considerable number there will not be, but those that we have could give the male ones profitable instruction in grinding the faces of their employees.) This constant increase of the army of labor-always and everywhere too large for the work in sight-by accession of a new contingent of natural oppressibles makes the very teeth of old Munniglut thrill with a poignant delight. It brings in that situation known as two laborers seeking one job--and one of them a person whose bones he can easily grind to make his bread. And Munniglut is a miller of skill and experience, dusted all over with the evidence of his useful craft. When Heaven has assisted the Daughters of Hope to open to women a new "avenue of opportunities" the first to enter and walk therein, like God in the Garden of Eden, is the good Mr. Munniglut, contentedly smoothing the folds out of the superior slope of his paunch, exuding the peculiar aroma of his oleagmous personality, and larding the new roadway with the overflow of a righteousness secreted by some spiritual gland stimulated to action by relish of his own identity. And ever thereafter the subtle suggestion of a fat Philistinism lingers along the path of progress like an assertion of a possessory right.

It is God's own crystal truth that in dealing with women unfortunate enough to be compelled to earn their own living and fortunate enough to have wrested from Fate an opportunity to do so, men of business and affairs treat them with about the same delicate consideration that they show to dogs and horses of the inferior breeds. It does not commonly occur to the wealthy "professional man," or "prominent merchant," to be ashamed to add to his yearly thousands a part of the salary justly due to his female bookkeeper or typewriter, who sits before him all day with an empty belly in order to have an habilimented back. He has a vague, hazy notion that the law of supply and demand is mandatory, and that in submitting himself to it by paying her a half of what he would have to pay a man of inferior efficiency he is supplying the world with a noble example of obedience. I must take the liberty to remind him that the law of supply and demand is not imperative; it is not a statute, but a phenomenon. He may reply: "It is imperative; the penalty for disobedience is failure. If I pay more in salaries and wages than I need to, my competitor will not; and with that advantage he will drive me from the field." If his margin of profit is so small that he must eke it out by coining the sweat of his workmen into nickels, I've nothing to say to him. Let him adopt in peace the motto, "I cheat to eat" I do not know why he should eat, but Nature, who has provided sustenance for the worming sparrow, the sparrowing owl, and the owling eagle, approves the needy man of prey, and makes a place for him at table.

Human nature is pretty well balanced; for every lacking virtue there is a rough substitute that will serve at a pinch-as cunning is the wisdom of the unwise, and ferocity the courage of the coward. Nobody is altogether bad; the scoundrel who has grown rich by underpaying the workmen in his factory will sometimes endow an asylum for indigent seamen. To oppress one's own workmen, and provide for the workmen of a neighbor-to skin those in charge of one's own interests, while cottoning and oiling the residuary product of another's skinnery-that is not very good benevolence, nor very good sense, but it serves in place of both. The man who eats paté de fois gras in the sweat of his girl cashier's face, or wears purple and fine linen in order that his typewriter may have an eocene gown and a pliocene hat, seems a tolerably satisfactory specimen of the genus thief; but let us not forget that in his own home-a fairly good one-he may enjoy and merit that highest and most honorable title in the hierarchy of woman's favor, "a good provider." One having a just claim to that glittering distinction should enjoy a sacred immunity from the coarse and troublesome question, "From whose backs and bellies do you provide?"

So much for the material results to the sex. What are the moral results? One does not like to speak of them, particularly to those who do not and can not know-to good women in whose innocent minds female immorality is inseparable from flashy gowning and the painted face; to foolish, book-taught men who honestly believe in some protective sanctity that hedges womanhood. If men of the world with years enough to have lived out of the old régime into the new would testify in this matter there would ensue a great rattling of dry bones in bodices of reform ladies. Nay, if the young man about town, knowing nothing of how things were in the "dark backward and abysm of time," but something of the moral difference between even so free-running a creature as the society girl and the average working girl of the factory, the shop and the office, would speak out (under assurance of immunity from prosecution) his testimony would be a surprise to the cartilaginous virgins, blowsy matrons, acrid relicts and hairy males of Emancipation. It would pain, too, some very worthy but unobservant persons not in sympathy with "the cause."

Certain significant facts are within the purview of all but the very young and the comfortably blind. To the woman of today the man of today is imperfectly polite. In place of reverence he gives her "deference;" to the language of compliment has succeeded the language of raillery. Men have almost forgotten how to bow. Doubtless the advanced female prefers the new manner, as may some of her less forward sisters, thinking it more sincere. It is not; our giddy grandfather talked high-flown nonsense because his heart had tangled his tongue. He treated his woman more civilly than we ours because he loved her better. He never had seen her on the "rostrum" and in the lobby, never had seen her in advocacy of herself, never had read her confessions of his sins, never had felt the stress of her competition, nor himself assisted by daily personal contact in rubbing the bloom off her. He did not know that her virtues were due to her secluded life, but thought, dear old boy, that they were a gift of God.


EMANCIPATION of woman is not of American invention. The "movement," like most others that are truly momentous, originated in Europe, and has broken through and broken down more formidable barriers of law, custom and tradition there than here. It is not true that the English married woman is "virtually a bondwoman" to her husband; that "she can hardly go and come without his consent, and usually he does not consent;" that "all she has is his." If there is such a thing as "the bitterness of the English married woman to the law," underlying it there is such a thing as ignorance of what the law is. The "subjection of woman," as it exists today in England, is customary and traditionary-a social, not a legal, subjection. Nowhere has law so sharply challenged that male dominion whose seat is in the harder muscles, the larger brain and the coarser heart And the law, it may be worth while to point out, was not of woman born; nor was it handed down out of Heaven engraved on tables of stone. Learned English judges have decided that virtually the term "marital rights" has no longer a legal signification. As one writer puts it, "The law has relaxed the husband's control over his wife's person and fortune, bit by bit, until legally it has left him nothing but the power to prevent her, if he is so disposed, and arrives in time, from jumping out of the window." He will find it greatly to his interest to arrive in time when he conveniently can, and to be so disposed, for the husband is still liable for the wife's torts; and if she makes the leap he may have to pay for the telescoping of a subjacent hat or two.

In England it is the Tyrant Man himself who is chafing in his chain. Not only is a husband still liable for the wrongs committed by the wife whom he has no longer the power to restrain from committing them, but in many ways-in one very important way-his obligation to her remains intact after she has had the self-sacrifice to surrender all obligation to him. Moreover, if his wife has a separate estate he has to endure the pain of seeing it hedged about from her creditors (themselves not altogether happy in the contemplation) with restrictions which do not hamper the right of recourse against his own. Doubtless all this is not without a softening effect upon his character, smoothing down his dispositional asperities and endowing him day by day with fresh accretions of humility. And that is good for him. I do not say that female autonomy is not among the most efficacious agencies for man's reclamation from the sin of pride; I only say that it is not indigenous to this country, the sweet, sweet home of the assassiness, the happy hunting ground of the whiplady, the paradise of the vitrioleuse.

If the protagonists of woman suffrage are frank they are shallow; if wise, uncandid. Continually they affirm their conviction that political power in the hands of women will give us better government. To proof of that proposition they address all the powers that they have and marshal such facts as can be compelled to serve under their flag. They either think or profess to think that if they can show that women's votes will purify politics they will have proved their case. That is not true; whether they know it or not, the strongest objection to woman suffrage would remain untouched. Pure politics is desirable, certainly, but it is not the chief concern of the best and most intelligent citizens. Good government is "devoutly to be wished," but more than good government we need good women. If all our public affairs were to be ordered with the goodness and wisdom of angels, and this state of perfection were obtained by sacrifice of any of those qualities which make the best of our women, if not what they should be, nor what the mindless male thinks them, at least what they are, we should have purchased the advantage too dearly. The effect of woman suffrage upon the country is of secondary importance: the question for profitable consideration is, How will it affect the character of woman? He who does not see in the goodness and charm of such women as are good and charming something incalculably more precious than any degree of political purity or national prosperity may be a patriot: doubtless he is; but also he has the distinction to be a pig.

I should like to ask the gallant gentlemen who vote for removal of woman's political disability if they have observed in the minds and manners of the women in the forefront of the movement nothing "ominous and drear." Are not these women different-I don't say worse, just different-from the best types of women of peace who are not exhibits and audibles? If they are different, is the difference of such a nature as to encourage a hope that activity in public affairs will work an improvement in women generally? Is "the glare of publicity" good for her growth in grace and winsomeness? Would a sane and sensible husband or lover willingly forego in wife or sweetheart all that the colonels of her sex appear to lack, or find in her all that they appear to have and to value?

A few more questions-addressed more particularly to veteran observers than to those to whom the world is new and strange. Have you observed any alteration in the manner of men toward women? If so, is it in the direction of greater rudeness or of more ceremonious respect? And again, if so, has not the change, in point of time, been coincident with the genesis and development of woman's "emancipation" and her triumphal entry into the field of "affairs"? Are you really desirous that the change go further? Or do you think that when women are armed with the ballot they will compel a return of the old régime of deference and delicate consideration-extorting by their power the tribute once voluntarily paid to their weakness? Is there any known way by which women can at once be our political equals and our social superiors, our competitors in the sharp and bitter struggle for glory, gain or bread, and the objects of our unselfish and undiminished devotion? The present predicts the future; of the foreshadow of the coming event all sensitive female hearts feel the chill. For whatever advantages, real or illusory, some women enjoy under this régime of partial "emancipation" all women pay. Of the coin in which payment is made the shouldering shouters of the sex have not a groat and can bear the situation with impunity. They have either passed the age of masculine attention or were born without the means to its accroachment. Dwelling in the open bog, they can afford to defy eviction.

While men did nearly all the writing and public speaking of the world, setting so the fashion in thought, women, naturally extolled with true sexual extravagance, came to be considered, even by themselves, as a very superior order of beings, with something in them of divinity which was denied to man. Not only were they represented as better, generally, than men, as indeed anybody could see that they were, but their goodness was supposed to be a kind of spiritual endowment and more or less independent of environmental influences.

We are changing all that. Women are beginning to do much of the writing and public speaking, and not only are they going to extol us (to the fattening of our conceit) but they are bound to disclose, even to the unthinking, certain defects of character in themselves which their silence had veiled. Their competition, too, in several kinds of affairs will slowly but certainly provoke resentment, and moreover expose them to temptations which will distinctly lower the morality of their sex. All these changes, and many more having a similar effect and significance, are occurring with amazing rapidity, and the stated results are already visible to even the blindest observation. In accurate depiction of the new order of things conjecture fails, but so much we know: the woman-superstition has already received its death wound and must soon expire.

Everywhere, and in no reverential spirit, men are questioning the dear old idolatry; not "sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer," but dispassionately applying to its basic doctrine the methods of scientific criticism. He who within even the last twenty years has not marked in society, in letters, in art, in everything, a distinct change in man's attitude toward women-a change which, were one a woman, one would not wish to see-may reasonably conclude that much, otherwise observable, is hidden by his nose. In the various movements-none of them consciously iconoclastic-engaged in overthrowing this oddest of modern superstitions there is something to deprecate, and even deplore, but the superstition can be spared. It never had much in it that was either creditable or profitable, and all through its rituals ran a note of insincerity which was partly Nature's protest against the rites, but partly, too, hypocrisy. There is no danger that good men will ever cease to respect and love good women, and if bad men ever cease to adore them for their sex when not beating them for their virtues the gain in consistency will partly offset the loss in religious ecstasy.

Let the patriot abandon his fear, his betters their hope, that only the low class woman will vote-the unlettered wench of the slums, the raddled hag of the dives, the war-painted protégée of the police. Into the vortex of politics goes every floating thing that is free to move. The summons to the polls will be imperative and incessant. Duty will thunder it from every platform, conscience whisper it into every ear, pride, interest, the lust of victory-all the motives that impel men to partisan activity will act with equal power upon women as upon men; and to all the other forces flowing irresistibly toward the polls will be added the suasion of men themselves. The price of votes will not decline because of the increased supply, although it will in most instances be offered in currencies too subtle to be counted. As now, the honest and respectable elector will habitually take bribes in the invisible coin of the realm of Sentiment-a mintage peculiarly valued by woman. For one reason or another all women will vote, even those who now view the "right" widi aversion. The observer who has marked the strength and activity of the forces pent in the dark drink of politics and given off in the act of bibation will not expect inaction to the victim of the "habit," be he male or she female. In the partisan, conviction is compulsion--opinions bear fruit in conduct. The partisan thinks in deeds, and woman is by nature a partisan-a blessing for which the Lord has never made her male relatives and friends sufficiently thankful. Not a mere man of them would have the effrontery to ask her toleration if she were not Depend upon it, the full strength of the female vote will eventually be cast at every election. And it would be well indeed for civilization and the interests of the race if woman suffrage meant no more than going to the polling-place and polling-which clearly is all that it has been thought out to mean by the headless horsemen spurring their new hobbies bravely at the tail of the procession. That would be a very simple matter; the opposition based upon the impropriety of the female rubbing shoulders at the polls with such scurvy blackguards as ourselves may with advantage be retired from service. Nor is it particularly important what men and measures the women will vote for. By one means or another Tyrant Man will have his way; the Opposing Sex can merely obstruct him in his way of having it. And should that obstruction ever be too pronounced, the party line and the sex line coinciding, woman suffrage will then and henceforth be no more.

In the politics of this bad world majorities are of several kinds. One of the most "overwhelming" is made up of these simple elements: (1) a numerical minority; (2) a military superiority. If not a single election were ever in any degree affected by it, the introduction of woman suffrage into our scheme of manners and morals would nevertheless be the most momentous and mischievous event of modern history. Compared with the action of this destructive solvent, that of all other disintegrating agencies concerned in our decivilization is as the languorous indiligence of rosewater to the mordant fury of nitric acid.

Lively Woman is indeed, as Carlyle would put it, "hellbent" on purification of politics by adding herself as an ingredient. It is unlikely that the injection of her personality into the contention (and politics is essentially a contention) will allay any animosities, sweeten any tempers, elevate any motives. The strifes of women are distinctly meaner than those of men-which are out of all reason mean; their methods of overcoming opponents distinctly more unscrupulous. That their participation in politics will notably alter the conditions of the game is not to be denied; that, unfortunately, is obvious; but that it will make the player less malignant and the playing more honorable is a proposition in support of which one can utter a deal of gorgeous nonsense, with a less insupportable sense of its unfitness, than in the service of any other delusion.

The frosty truth is that except in the home the influence of women is not elevating, but debasing. When they stoop to uplift men who need uplifting, they are themselves pulled down, and that is all that is accomplished. Wherever they come into familiar contact with men who are not their relatives they impart nothing, they receive all; they do not affect us with their notions of morality; we infect them with ours.

In the last forty years, in this country, they have entered a hundred avenues of activity from which they were previously debarred by an unwritten law. They are found in the offices, the shops, the factories. Like Charles Lamb's fugitive pigs, they have run up all manner of streets. Does any one think that in that time there has been an advance in professional, commercial and industrial morality? Are lawyers more scrupulous, tradesmen more honest? When one has been served by a "saleslady" does one leave the shop with a feebler sense of injury than was formerly inspired by a transaction at the counter-a duller consciousness of being oneself the commodity that has changed hands? Have actresses elevated the stage to a moral altitude congenial to the colder virtues? In studios of the artists is the "sound of revelry by night" invariably a deep, masculine bass? In literature are the immoral books-the books "dealing" with questionable "questions"-always, or even commonly, written by men?

There is one direction in which "emancipation of woman" and enlargement of her "sphere" have wrought a reform: they have elevated the personnel of the little dinner party in the "private room." Formerly, as any veteran man-about-town can testify, if he will, the female contingent of the party was composed of persons altogether unspeakable. That element now remains upon its reservation; among the superior advantages enjoyed by the man-about-town of today is that of the companionship, at his dinner in camera, of ladies having an honorable vocation. In the corridors of the "French restaurant" the swish of Pseudonyma's skirt is no longer heard; she has been superseded by the Princess Tap-tap (with Truckle & Cinch), by my lady Snip-snip (from the "emporium" of Boltwhack & Co.), by Miss Chink-chink, who sits at the receipt of customs in that severely un-French restaurant, the Maison Hash. That the man-about-town has been morally elevated by this Emancipation of Girl from the seclusion of home to that of the "private room" is too obvious for denial. Nothing so uplifts Tyrant Man as the table talk of good young women who earn their own living.

I do not wish to be altogether ironical about this rather serious matter-not so much so as to forfeit anything of lucidity. Let me state, then, in all earnestness and sobriety and simplicity of speech, what is known to every worldly-wise male dweller in the cities, to every scamp and scapegrace of the clubs, to every reformed sentimentalist and every observer with a straight eye-namely, that in all the various classes of young women in our cities who support, or partly support, themselves in vocations which bring them into personal contact with men, female chastity is a vanishing tradition. In the lives of the "main and general" of these, all those considerate which have their origin in personal purity, and cluster about it, and are its signs and safeguards, have almost ceased to cut a figure. It is needless to remind me that there are exceptions-I know that. With some of them I have personal acquaintance, or think I have, and for them a respect withheld from any woman of the rostrum who points to their misfortune and calls it emancipation-to their need and calls it a spirit of independence. It is not from these good girls that you will hear the flippant boast of an unfettered life, with "freedom to develop;" nor is it they who will be foremost and furious in denial and resentment of my statements regarding the morals of their class. They do not know the whole truth, thank Heaven, but they know enough for a deprecation too deep to find relief in a cheap affirmation of woman's purity, which is, and always has been, the creature of seclusion.

The fitness of women for political activity is not in present question; I am considering the fitness of political activity for women. For women as men say they are, wish them to be, and try to think them, it is unfit altogether-as unfit as anything else that "mixes them up" with us, compelling a communication and association that are not social. If we wish to have women who are different from ourselves in knowledge, character, accomplishments, manners; as different mentally as physically-and in these and in all odier expressible differences reside all the charms that they have for us-we must keep them, or they must keep themselves, in an environment unlike our own. One would think that obvious to the meanest capacity, and might even hope that it would be understood by the Daughters of Thunder. Possibly the Advanced One, hospitably accepting her karma, is not concerned to be charming to "the likes o' we'"-would prefer the companionship of her blue gingham umbrella, her corkscrew curls, her epicene audiences and her name in the newspapers. Perhaps she is content with the comfort of her raucous voice. Therein she is unwise, for self-interest is the first law. When we no longer find woman charming we may find a way to make them more useful-more truly useful, even, than the speech-ladies would have them make themselves by competition. Really, there is nothing in the world between them and slavery but their power of interesting us; and that has its origin in the very differences which the Colonels are striving to abolish. God has made no law of miracles and none of His laws are going to be suspended in deference to woman's desire to achieve familiarity without contempt. If she wants to please she must retain some scrap of novelty; if she desires our respect she must not be always in evidence, disclosing the baser side of her character, as in competition with us she must do (as we do to one another) or lamentably fail. Mrs. Edmund Gosse, like "Ouida," Mrs. Atherton, and all other women of brains, declares that the taking of unfair advantages-the lack of magnanimity-is a leading characteristic of her sex. Mrs. Gosse adds, with reference to men's passive acquiescence in this monstrous folly of "emancipation," that possibly our quiet may be the calm before the storm; and she utters this warning, which, also, more strongly, "Ouida" has uttered: "How would it be with us if the men should suddenly rise en masse and throw the whole surging lot of us into convents and harems?"

It is not likely that men will "rise en masse" to undo the mischief wrought by noisy protagonists of Woman Suffrage working like beavers to rear their airy fad upon the sandy foundation of masculine tolerance and inattention. No rising will be needed. All that is required for the wreck of their hopes is for a wave of reason to slide a little farther up the sands of time, "loll out its large tongue, lick the whole labor flat" The work has prospered so far only because nobody but its promoters has taken it seriously. It has not engaged attention from those having the knowledge and the insight to discern beneath its cap-and-bells and the motley that is its only wear a serious menace to all that civilized men hold precious in woman. It is of the nature of men-themselves cheerful polygamists, with no penitent intentions-to set a high value upon chastity in woman. (We need not inquire why they do so; those to whom the reasons are not clear can profitably remain in the valley of the shadow of ignorance.) Valuing it, they purpose having it, or some considerable numerical presumption of it. As they perceive that in a general way women are virtuous in proportion to the remoteness of their lives and interests from the lives and interests of men-their seclusion from the influences of which men's own vices are a main part-an easy and peaceful means will doubtless be found for the repression of the shouters.

In the orchestration of mind woman's instruments might have kept silence without injury to the volume and quality of the music; efface the impress of her touch upon the world and, by those who come after, the blank must be diligently sought. Go to the top of any large city and look about and below. It is not much that you will see, but it represents an amazing advance from the conditions of primitive man. No where in the wide survey will you see the work of woman. It is all the work of men's hands, and before it was wrought into form and substance, existed as conscious creations in men's brains. Concealed within the visible forms of buildings and ships-themselves miracles of thought-lie such wonder-worlds of invention and discovery as no human life is long enough to explore, no human understanding capacious enough to hold in knowledge. If, like Asmodeus, we could rive the roofs and see woman's part of this prodigious exhibition-the things that she has actually created with her brain-what kind of display would it be? It is probable that all the intellectual energy expended by women from first to last would not have sufficed, if directed into the one channel, for the genesis and evolution of the modern bicycle.

I once heard a lady who had playfully competed with men in a jumping match gravely attribute her defeat to the trammeling of her skirt. Similarly, women are pleased to explain their penury of mental achievement by repressive education and custom, and therein they are not altogether in heresy. But even in regions where they have ever had the freedom of the quarries they have not builded themselves monuments. Nobody, for example, is holding them from greatness in poetry, which needs no special education, and music, in which they have always been specially educated; yet where is the great poem by a woman? where the great musical composition? In the grammar of literature what is the feminine of Homer, of Shakspere, of Goethe, of Hugo? What female names are the equivalents of the names of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Wagner? Women are not musicians-they "sing and play." In short, if woman had no better claim to respect and affection than her brain; no sweeter charms than those of her reason; no means of suasion but her power upon men's convictions, she would long ago have been "improved off the face of the earth." As she is, men accord her such homage as is compatible with contempt, such immunities as are consistent with exaction; but whereas she is not altogether filled with light and is moreover, imperfectly reverent, it is but right that in obedience to Scriptural injunction she keep silence in our churches while we are worshipping Ourselves.

She will not have it so, the good, good girl; as moral as the best of us, she will be as intellectual as the rest of us. She will have out her little taper and set the rivers of thought all ablaze, legging it over the land from stream to stream till all are fired. She will widen her sphere, forsooth, herself no wider than before. It is not enough that we have edified her a pedestal and perform impossible rites in celebration of her altitude and distinction. It does not suffice that with never a smile we assure her that she is the superior sex-a whopper by the repetition whereof certain callow youth among us have incurred the divine vengeance of belief. It does not satisfy her that she is indubitably gifted with pulchritude and an unquestionable genius for its embellishing; that Nature has endowed her with a prodigious knack at accroachment, whereby the male of her species is lured to a suitable doom. No; she has taken unto herself in these evil days that "intelligent discontent" which giveth its beloved fits. To her flock of graces and virtues she must add our one poor ewe lamb of brains. Well, I tell her that intellect is a monster which devours beauty; that the woman of exceptional mind is exceptionally masculine in face, figure, action; that in transplanting brains to an unfamiliar soil God leaves much of the original earth about the roots. And so with a reluctant farewell to Lovely Woman, I humbly withdraw from her presence and hasten to overtake the receding periphery of her "sphere."

One moment more. Mesdames: I crave leave to estop your disfavor-which were affliction and calamity-by "defining my position" in the words of one of yourselves, who has said of me (though with reprehensible exaggeration, believe me) that I hate woman and love women-have an acute animosity to your sex and adoring each individual member of it. What matters my opinion of your understandings so long as I am in bondage to your charms? Moreover, there is one service of incomparable utility and dignity for which I esteem you eminently fit-to be mothers of men.


AN AMERICAN newspaper holds this opinion: "If republican government had done nothing else than give independence to American character and preserve it from the servility inseparable from the allegiance to kings, it would have accomplished a great work."

I do not doubt that the writer of that sentence believes that republican government has actually wrought the change in human nature which challenges his admiration. He is very sure that his countrymen are not sycophants; that before rank and power and wealth they stand covered, maintaining "the godlike attitude of freedom and a man" and exulting in it. It is not true; it is an immeasurable distance from the truth. We are as abject toadies as any people on earth-more so than any European people of similar civilization. When a foreign emperor, king, prince or nobleman comes among us the rites of servility that we execute in his honor are baser than any that he ever saw in his own land. When a foreign nobleman's prow puts into shore the American shin is pickled in brine to welcome him; and if he come not in adequate quantity those of us who can afford the expense go swarming over sea to struggle for front places in his attention. In this blind and brutal scramble for social recognition in Europe the traveling American toady and impostor has many chances of success: he is commonly unknown even to ministers and consuls of his own country, and these complaisant gentlemen, rather than incur t

he risk of erring on the wrong side, take him at his own valuation and push him in where his obscurity being again in his favor, he is treated with kindly toleration, and sometimes a genuine hospitality, to which he has no shadow of right nor title, and which, if he were a gentleman, he would not accept if it were voluntarily proffered. It should be said in mitigation that all this delirious abasement in no degree tempers his rancor against the system of which the foreign notable is the flower and fruit. He keeps his servility sweet by preserving it in the salt of vilification. In the character of a blatant blackguard the American snob is so happily disguised that he does not know himself.

An American newspaper once printed a portrait of her whom the irreverent Briton had a reprehensible habit of designating colloquially as "The Old Lady," But the editor in question did not so designate her-his simple American manhood and republican spirit would not admit that she was a lady. So he contented himself with labeling the portrait "Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria" This incident raises an important question.

Important Question Raised by This Incident: Is it better to be a subject and a man, or a citizen and a flunkey-to own the sway of a "gory tyrant" and retain one's self-respect, or dwell, a "sovereign elector," in the land of liberty and disgrace it?

However it may be customary for English newspapers to designate the English sovereign, they are at least not addicted to sycophancy in designating the rulers of other countries than their own. They would not say "His Abracadabral Humpti-dumptiness Emperor William," nor "His Pestilency the Speaker of the American House of Representatives." They would not think of calling even the most ornately self-bemedaled American sovereign elector "His Badgesty." Of a foreign nobleman they do not say "His Lordship;" they will not admit that he is a lord; nor when speaking of their own noblemen do they spell "lord" with a capital L, as we do. In brief, when mentioning foreign dignitaries, of whatever rank in their own countries, the English press is simply and serviceably descriptive: the king is a king, the queen a queen, the jack a jack. We use "another kind of common sense." At the very foundation of our political system lies the denial of hereditary and artificial rank. Our fathers created this government as a protest against all that, and all that it implies. They virtually declared that kings and noblemen could not breathe here, and no American loyal to the principles of the Revolution which made him one will ever say in his own country "Your Majesty" or "Your Lordship"-the words would choke him and they ought.

There are a few of us who keep the faith, who do not bow the knee to Baal, who hold fast to what is high and good in the doctrine of political equality; in whose hearts the altar-fires of rational liberty are kept aglow, beaconing the darkness of that illimitable inane where their countrymen, inaccessible to the light, wander witless in the bogs of political unreason, alternately adoring and damning the man-made gods of their own stature. Of that bright band fueling the bale-fires of political consistency I can not profess myself a member in good standing. In view of this general recreancy and treason to the principles that our fathers established by the sword-having in constant observation this almost universal hospitality to the solemn nonsense of hereditary rank and unearned distinction, my faith in practical realization of republican ideals is small, and I falter in the work of their maintenance in the interest of a people for whom they are too good. Seeing that we are immune to none of the evils besetting monarchies, excepting those for which we secretly yearn; that inequality of fortune and unjust allotment of honors are as conspicuous among us as elsewhere; that the tyranny of individuals is as intolerable, and that of the public more so; that the law's majesty is a dream and its failure a fact-hearing everywhere the footfalls of disorder and the watchwords of anarchy, I despair of the republic and catch in every breeze that blows "a cry prophetic of its fall."

I have seen a vast crowd of Americans change color like a field of waving grain, as it uncovered to do such base homage to a petty foreign princess as in her own country she had never received. I have seen full-grown, self-respecting American citizens tremble and go speechless when spoken to by the Emperor of Brazil. I have seen a half-dozen American gentlemen in evening clothes trying to outdo one another in the profundity of their bows in the presence of the nigger King of Hawaii. I have not seen a Chinese "Earl" borne in a chair by four Americans officially detailed for the disgraceful service, but it was done, and did not evoke a hiss of disapproval. And I did not-thank Heaven!-observe the mob of American "simple republicans" that dogged the heels of a disreputable little Frenchman who is a count by courtesy only, and those of an English duke quietly attending to his business of making a living by being a married man. The republican New World is no less impested with servility than the monarchial Old. One form of government may be better than another for this purpose or for that; all are alike in the futility of their influence upon human character. None can affect man's instinctive abasement in the contemplation of power and rank.

Not only are we no less sycophantic than the people of monarchial countries; we are more so. We grovel before their exalted personages, and perform in addition a special prostration at the clay feet of our own idols-which they do not revere. The typical "subject," hat-in-hand to his sovereign and his nobleman, is a less shameful figure than the "citizen" executing his genuflexion before the public of which he is himself a part. No European court journal, no European courtier, was ever more abject in subservience to the sovereign than are the American newspaper and the American politician in flattery of the people. Between the courtier and the demagogue I see nothing to choose. They are moved by the same sentiment and fired by the same hope. Their method is flattery, and their purpose profit. Their adulation is not a testimony to character, but a tribute to power, or the shadow of power. If this country were governed by its criminal idiots we should have the same attestations of their goodness and wisdom, the same competition for their favor, the same solemn doctrine that their voice is the voice of God. Our children would be brought up to believe that an Idiotocracy is the only natural and rational form of government And for my part I'm not at all sure that it would not be a pretty good political system, as political systems go. I have always, however, cherished a secret faith in Smithocracy, which seems to combine the advantages of both the monarchial and the republican idea. If all the offices were held for life by Smiths-the senior John being President-we should have a settled and orderly succession to allay all fears of anarchy and a sufficiently wide eligibility to feed the fires of patriotic ambition. All could not be Smiths, but many could marry into the family.

The Harrison "progress" left its heritage of shame, whereof each abaser would gladly have washed the hands of him in his neighbor's basin. All this was in due order of Nature, and was to have been expected. It was a phenomenon of the same character as, in the loves of the low, the squabbling consequent upon satiety and shame. We could not slink out of sight; we could deny our sycophancy, albeit we might give it another name; but we could somewhat medicine our damaged self-esteem by dealing damnation 'round on one another. The blush of shame turned easily to the glow of indignation, and many a hot hatred was kindled at the rosy flame of self-contempt. Persons conscious of having dishonored themselves are doubly sensitive to any indignity put upon them by others. The vices and follies of human nature are interdependent; they do not move alone, nor are they singly aroused to activity. In my judgment, this entire incident of the President's "tour" was infinitely discreditable to President and people. I do not go into the question of his motive in making it. Be that what it may, the manner of it seems to me an outrage upon all the principles and sentiments underlying republican institutions. In all but the name it was a "royal progress"-the same costly ostentation, the same civic and military pomp, the same solemn and senseless adulation, the same abasement of spirit of the Many before the One. And according to republican traditions, ten thousand times a year affirmed, in every way in which affirmation is possible, we fondly persuade ourselves, as a true faith in the hearts of our hearts, that the One is the inferior of the Many! And it is no mere political catch-phrase: he is their servant; he is their creature; all that in him to which they grovel (dignifying and justifying their instinctive and inherited servility by names as false as anything in ceremonial imposture) they themselves have made, as truly as the heathen has made the wooden god before which he performs his unmanly rite. It is precisely this thing-the superiority of the people to their servants-that constitutes, and was by our fathers understood to constitute, the essential, fundamental difference between the monarchial system which they uprooted and the democratic one which they planted in its stead. Deluded men! how little they guessed the length and strength and vitality of the roots left in the soil of the centuries when their noxious harvestage of mischievous institutions had been cast as rubbish to the void!

I am no contestant for forms of government-no believer in either the practical value or the permanence of any that has yet been devised. That all men are created equal, in the best and highest sense of the phrase, I hold; not as I observe it held by others, but as a living faith. That an officeholder is a servant of the people; that I am his political superior, owing him no deference, and entitled to such deference from him as may be serviceable to keep him in mind of his subordination-these are propositions which command my assent, which I feel to be true and which determine the character of my personal relations with those whom they concern. That I should give my hand, or bend my neck, or uncover my head to any man in homage to or recognition of his office, great or small, is to me simply inconceivable. These tricks of servility with the softened names are the vestiges of an involuntary allegiance to power extraneous to the performer. They represent in our American life obedience and propitiation in their most primitive and odious forms. The man who speaks of them as manifestations of a proper respect for "the President's great office" is either a rogue, a dupe or a journalist They come to us out of a fascinating but terrible past as survivals of servitude. They speak a various language of oppression, and the superstition of man-worship; they cany forward the traditions of the sceptre and the lash. Through the plaudits of the people may be heard always the faint, far cry of the beaten slave.

Respect? Respect the good. Respect the wise. Respect the dead. Let the President look to it that he belongs to one of these classes. His going about the country in gorgeous state and barbaric splendor as the guest of a thieving corporation, but at our expense-shining and dining and swining-unsouling himself of clotted nonsense in pickled platitudes calculated for the meridian of Coon Hollow, Indiana, but ingeniously adapted to each water tank on the line of his absurd "progress," does not prove it, and the presumption of his "great office" is against him.

Can you not see, poor misguided "fellow citizens," how you permit your political taskmasters to forge leg-chains of your follies and load you down with them? Will nothing teach you that all this fuss-and-feathers, all this ceremony, all this official gorgeousness and brass-banding, this "manifestation of a proper respect for the nation's head" has no decent place in American life and American politics? Will no experience open your stupid eyes to the fact that these shows are but absurd imitations of royalty, to hold you silly while you are plundered by the managers of the performance?-that while you toss your greasy caps in air and sustain them by the ascending current of your senseless hurrahs the programmers are going through your blessed pockets and exploiting your holy dollars? No; you feel secure; "power is of the People," and you can effect a change of robbers every four years. Inestimable privilege-to pull off the glutted leech and attach the lean one! And you can not even choose among the lean leeches, but must accept those designated by the programmers and showmen who have the reptiles on tap! But then you are not "subjects;" you are "citizens"-there is much in that Your tyrant is not a "King;" he is a "President." He does not occupy a "throne," but a "chair." He does not succeed to it by inheritance; he is pitchforked into it by the boss. Altogether, you are distinctly better off than the Russian mujik who wears his shirt outside his trousers and has never shaken hands with the Czar in all his life.

I hold that kings and noblemen can not breathe in America. When they set foot upon our soil their kingship and their nobility fall away from them like the chains of a slave in England. Whatever a man may be in his own country, here he is but a man. My countrymen may do as they please, lickspittling the high and mighty of other nations even to the filling of their spiritual bellies, but I make a stand for simple American manhood. I will meet no man on this soil who expects from me a greater deference than I could properly accord to the President of my own country. My allegiance to republican institutions is slack through lack of faith in them as a practical system of governing men as men are. All the same, I will call no man "Your Majesty," nor "Your Lordship." For me to meet in my own country a king or a nobleman would require as much preliminary negotiation as an official interview between the Mufti of Moosh and the Ahkoond of Swat. The form of salutation and the style and tide of address would have to be settled definitively and with precision. With some of my most esteemed and patriotic friends the matter is more simple; their generosity in concession fills me with admiration and their forbearance in exaction challenges my astonishment as one of the seven wonders of American hospitality. In fancy I see the ceremony of their "presentation" and as examples of simple republican dignity I commend their posture to the youth of this fair New World, inviting particular attention to the grand, bold curves of character shown in the outlines of the Human Ham.


OF ALL anachronisms and survivals, the love of the dog; is the most reasonless. Because, some thousands of years ago, when we wore other skins than our own and sat enthroned upon our haunches, tearing tangles of tendons from raw bones with our teeth, the dog ministered purveyorwise to our savage needs, we go on cherishing him to this day, when his only function is to lie sun-soaken on a door mat and insult us as we pass in and out, enamored of his fat superfluity. One dog in a thousand earns his bread-and takes beefsteak; the other nine hundred and ninety-nine we maintain, by cheating the poor, in the style suitable to their state.

The trouble with the modern dog is that he is the same old dog. Not an inch has the rascal advanced along the line of evolution. We have ceased to squat upon our naked haunches and gnaw raw bones, but this companion of the childhood of the race, this vestigial remnant of juventus mundi this dismal anachronism, this veteran inharmony of the scheme of things, the dog, has abated no jot nor tittle of his unthinkable objection-ableness since the morning stars sang together and he had sat up all night to deflate a lung at the performance. Possibly he may some time be improved otherwise than by effacement, but at present he is still in that early stage of reform that is not incompatible with a mouthful of reformer.

The dog is a detestable quadruped. He knows more ways to be unmentionable than can be suppressed in seven languages.

The word "dog" is a term of contempt the world over. Poets have sung and prosaists have prosed of the virtues of individual dogs, but nobody has had the hardihood to eulogize the species. No man loves the Dog; he loves his own dog or dogs, and there he stops; the force of perverted affection can no further go. He loves his own dog partly because that thrifty creature, ever cadging when not maurauding, tickles his vanity by fawning upon him as the visible source of steaks and bones; and partly because the graceless beast insults everybody else, harming as many as he dares. The dog is an encampment of fleas, and a reservoir of sinful smells. He is prone to bad manners as the sparks fly upward. He has no discrimination; his loyalty is given to the person that feeds him, be the same a blackguard or a murderer's mother. He fights for his master without regard to the justice of the quarrel-wherein he is no better than a patriot or a paid soldier. There are men who are proud of a dog's love-and dogs love that kind of men. There are men who, having the privilege of loving women, insult them by loving dogs; and there are women who forgive and respect their canine rivals. Women, I am told, are true cynolaters; they adore not only dogs, but Dog-not only their own horrible little beasts, but those of others. But women will love anything; they love men who love dogs. I sometimes wonder how it is that of all our women among whom the dog fad is prevalent none have incurred the husband fad, or the child fad. Possibly there are exceptions, but it seems to be a rule that the female heart which has a dog in it is without other lodgers. There is not, I suppose, a very wild and importunate demand for accommodation. For my part, I do not know which is the less desirable, the tenant or the tenement There are dogs that submit to be kissed by women base enough to kiss them; but they have a secret, coarse revenge. For the dog is a joker, withal, gifted with as much humor as is consistent with biting.

Miss Louise Imogen Guiney has replied to Mrs. Meynell's proposal to abolish the dog-a proposal which Miss Guiney has the originality to call "original." Divested of its "literature," Miss Guiney's plea for the defendant consists, essentially, of the following assertions: (1) Dogs are whatever their masters are. (2) They bite only those who fear them. (3) Really vicious dogs are not found nearer than Constantinople. (4) Only wronged dogs go mad, and hydrophobia is retaliation. (5) In actions for damages for dog-bites judicial prejudice is against the dog. (6) "Dogs are continually saving children from death." (7) Association with dogs begets piety, tenderness, mercy, loyalty, and so forth; in brief, the dog is an elevating influence: "to walk modestly at a dog's heels is a certificate of merit!" As to that last, if Miss Guiney had ever observed the dog himself walking modestly at the heels of another dog she would perhaps have wished that it was not the custom of her sex to seal the certificate of merit with a kiss.

In all this absurd woman's statements, thus fairly epitomized, there is not one that is true-not one of which the essential falsity is not evident, obvious, conspicuous to even the most delinquent observation. Yet with the smartness and smirk of a graduating seminary girl refuting Epicurus she marshals them against the awful truth that every year in Europe and the United States alone more than five thousand human beings the of hydrophobia-a fact which her controversial conscience does not permit her to mention. The names on this needless death-roll are mostly those of children, the sins of whose parents in cherishing their own hereditary love of dogs is visited upon their children because they have not the intelligence and agility to get out of the way. Or perhaps they lack that tranquil courage upon which Miss Guiney relies to avert the canine tooth from her own inedible shank.

Finally this amusing illogician, this type and example of the female controversialist, has the hardihood to hope that there may be fathers who can see their children the the horrible death of hydrophobia without wishing "to exile man's best ideal of fidelity from the hearthstones of civilization." If we must have an "ideal of fidelity" why not find it, not in the dog that kills the child, but in the father that kills the dog. The profit of maintaining a standard and pattern of the virtues (at considerable expense in the case of this insatiable canine consumer) may be great, but are we so hard pushed that we must go to the animals for it? In life and letters are there no men and women whose names kindle enthusiasm and emulation? Is fidelity, is devotion, is self-sacrifice unknown among ourselves? As a model of the higher virtues why will not one's mother serve at a pinch? And what is the matter with Miss Guiney herself? She is faithful, at least to dogs, whatever she may be to the hundreds of American children inevitably foredoomed to a death of unthinkable agony.

There is perhaps a hope that when the sun's returning flame shall gild the hither end of the thirtieth century this savage and filthy brute, the dog, will have ceased to "banquet on through a whole year" of human fat and lean; that he will have been gathered to his variously unworthy fathers to give an account of the deeds done in body of man. In the meantime, those of us who have not the enlightened understanding to be enamored of him may endure with such fortitude as we can command his feats of tooth among the shins and throats of those who have; we ourselves are so few that there is a strong numerical presumption of personal immunity.

It is well to have a clear understanding of such inconveniences as may be expected to ensue from dog-bites. That inconveniences and even discomforts do sometimes flow from, or at least follow, the mischance of being bitten by dogs, even the sturdiest champion of "man's best friend" will admit when not heated fay controversy. True, he is disposed to sympathy for those incurring the inconveniences and discomforts, but against apparent incompassion may be offset his indubitable sympathy with the dog. No one is altogether heartless.

Amongst the several disadvantages of a close personal connection with the canine tooth, the disorder known as hydrophobia has long held an undisputed primacy. The existence of dus ailment is attested by so many witnesses, many of whom, belonging to the profession of medicine, speak with a certain authority, that even the breeders and lovers of snap-dogs are compelled reluctantly to concede it, though as a rule they stoutly deny that it is imparted by the dog. In their view, hydrophobia is a theory, not a condition. The patient imagines himself to have it, and acting upon that unsupported assumption or hypothesis, suffers and dies in the attempt to square his conduct with his opinions.

It seems there is firmer ground for their view of the matter than the rest of us have been willing to admit There is such a thing, doubtless, as hydrophobia proper, but also there is such another thing as pseudo-hydrophobia, or hydrophobia improper.

Pseudo-hydrophobia, the physicians explain, is caused by fear of hydrophobia. The patient, having been chewed by a healthy and harmless dog, broods upon his imaginary peril, solicitously watches his imaginary symptoms, and, finally, persuading himself of their reality, puts them on exhibition, as he understands them. He runs about (when permitted) on his hands and knees, growls, barks, howls, and in default of a tail wags the part of him where it would be if he had one. In a few days he is gone before, a victim to his lack of confidence in man's best friend.

The number of cases of pseudo-hydrophobia, relatively, to those of true hydrophobia, is not definitely known, the medical records having been imperfectly made, and never collated; champions of the snap-dog, as intimated, believe it is many to nothing. That being so (they argue), the animal is entirely exonerated, and leaves the discussion without a stain upon his reputation.

But that is feeble reasoning. Even if we grant their premises we can not embrace their conclusion. In the first place, it hurts to be bitten by a dog, as the dog himself audibly confesses when bitten by another dog. Furthermore, pseudo-hydrophobia is quite as fatal as if it were a legitimate product of the bite, not a result of the terror which that mischance inspires.

Human nature being what it is, and well known to the dog to be what it is, we have a right to expect that the creature will take our weaknesses into consideration-that he will respect our addiction to reasonless panic, even as we respect his when, as we commonly do, we refrain from attaching tinware to his tail. A dog that runs himself to death to evade a kitchen utensil which could not possibly harm him, and which if he did not flee would not pursue, is the author of his own undoing in precisely the same sense as is the victim of pseudo-hydrophobia. He is slain by a theory, not a condition. Yet the wicked boy that set him going is not blameless, and no one would be so zealous and strenuous in his prosecution as the cynolater, the adorer of dogs, the person who holds them guileless of pseudo-hydrophobia.

Mr. Nicholas Smith, while United States Consul at Liege, wrote, or caused to be written, an official report, wickedly, willfully and maliciously designed to abridge the privileges, augment the ills and impair the honorable status of the domestic dog. In the very beginning of this report Mr. Smith manifests his animus by stigmatizing the domestic dog as an "hereditary loafer;" and having hurled the allegation, affirms "the dawn of a [Belgian] new era" wherein the pampered menial will loaf no more. There is to be no more sun-soaking on door mats having a southern exposure, no more usurpation of the warmest segment of the family circle, no more successful personal solicitation of cheer at the domestic board. The dog's place in the social scale is no longer to be determined by consideration of sentiment, but will be the result of cold commercial calculation, and so fixed as best to serve the ends of industrial expediency. All this in Belgium, where the dog is already in active service as a beast of burden and draught; doubtless the transition to that humble condition from his present and immemorial social elevation in less advanced countries will be slow and characterized by bitter factional strife. America, especially, though ever accessible to the infection of new and profitable ideas, will be angularly slow to accept so radical a subversion of a social superstructure that almost may be said to rest upon the domestic dog as a basic verity.

The dogs are our only true "leisure class" (for even the tramps are sometimes compelled to engage in such simple industries as are possible within the "precincts" of the county jail) and we are justly proud of them. They toil not, neither spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not a dog. Instead of making them hewers of wood and drawers of water, it would be more consonant with the Anglomaniacal and general Old World spirit, now so dominant in the councils of the nation, to make them "hereditary legislators." And Mr. Smith must permit me to add, with a special significance, that history records an instance of even a horse making a fairly good Consul.

Mr. Smith avers with obvious and impudent satisfaction that in Liege twice as many draught dogs as horses are seen in the streets, attached to vehicles. He regards "a gaily painted cart" drawn by "a well fed dog" and driven by a well fed (and gaily painted) woman as a "pleasing vision." I do not; I should prefer to see the dog sitting at the receipt of steaks and chops and the lady devoting herself to the amelioration of the condition of the universe, and the manufacture of poetry and stories that are not true. A more pleasing vision, too, one endeared to eye and heart by immemorial use and wont, is that of stranger and dog indulging in the pleasures of the chase-stranger a little ahead-while the woman in the case manifests a characteristically compassionate solicitude lest the gentleman's trousers do not match Fido's mustache. It is, indeed, impossible to regard with any degree of approval the degradation to commercial utility of two so noble animals as Dog and Woman; and if Man had joined them together by driving-reins I should hope that God would put them asunder, even if the reins were held by Dog. There would no doubt be a distinct gain as well as a certain artistic fitness in unyoking the strong-minded female of our species from the Chariot of Progress and yoking her to the apple-cart or fish-wagon, and-but that is another story; the imminence of the draughtwoman is not foreshadowed in the report of our Consul at Liege.

Mr. Smith's estimate of the number of dogs in this country at 7,000,000 is a "conservative" one, it must be confessed, and can hardly have been based on observations by moonlight in a suburban village; his estimate of the effective strength of the average dog at 500 pounds is probably about right, as will be attested by any intelligent boy who in campaigns against orchards has experienced detention by the Cerberi of the places. Taking his own figures Mr. Smith calculates that we have in this country 3,500,000,000 pounds of "idle dog power." But this statement is more ingenious than ingenuous; it gives, as doubtless it was intended to give, the impression that we have only idle dogs, whereas of all mundane forces the domestic dog is most easily stirred to action. His expense of energy in pursuit of the harmless, necessary flea, for example, is prodigious; and he is not infrequently seen in chase of his own tail, with an activity scarcely inferior. If there is anything worth while in accepted theories of the conversion and conservation of force these gigantic energies are by no means wasted; they appear as heat, light and electricity, modifying climate, reducing gas bills and assisting in propulsion of street cars. Even in baying the moon and insulting visitors and bypassers the dog releases a certain amount of vibratory force which through various mutations of its wave-length, may do its part in cooking a steak or gratifying the olfactory nerve by throwing fresh perfume on the violet. Evidently the commercial advantages of deposing the dog from the position of Exalted Personage and subduing him to that of Motor would not be all clear gain. He would no longer have the spirit to send, Whitmanwise, his barbarous but beneficent yawp over the housetops, nor the leisure to throw off vast quantities of energy by centrifugal efforts at the conquest of his tail. As to the fleas, he would accept them with apathetic satisfaction as preventives of thought upon his fallen fortunes.

Having observed with attention and considered with seriousness the London Daily News declares its conviction that the dog, as we have the happiness to know him, is dreadfully bored by civilization. This is one of the gravest accusations that the friends of progress and light have been called out to meet-a challenge that it is impossible to ignore and unprofitable to evade; for the dog as we have the happiness to know him is the only dog that we have the happiness really to know. The wolf is hardly a dog within the meaning of the law, nor is the scalp-yielding coyote, whether he howls or merely sings and plays the piano; moreover, these are beyond the pale of civilization and outside the scope of our sympathies.

With the dog it is different His place is among us; he is with us and of us-a part of our life and love. If we are maintaining and promoting a condition of things that gives him "that tired feeling" it is befitting that we mend our ways lest, shaking the carpet dust from his feet and the tenderloin steaks from his teeth, he depart from our midst and connect himself with the enchanted life of the thrilling barbarian. We can not afford to lose him. The cynophobes may call him a "survival" and sneer at his exhausted mandate-albeit, as Darwin points out, they are indebted for their sneer to his own habit of uncovering his teeth to bite; they may seek to cast opprobrium upon the nature of our affection for him by pronouncing it hereditary-a bequest from our primitive ancestors, for whom he performed important service in other ways than depriving visitors of their tendons; but quite the same we should miss him at his meal time and in the (but for him) silent watches of the night. We should miss his bark and his bite, the feel of his forefeet upon our shirt-fronts, the frou-frou of his dusty sides against our nether habiliments. More than all, we should miss and mourn that visible yearning for chops and steaks, which he has persuaded us to accept as the lovelight of his eye and a tribute to our personal worth. We must keep the dog, and to that end find means to abate his weariness of us and our ways.

Doubtless much might be done to reclaim our dogs from their uncheerful state of mind by abstention from debate on imperialism; by excluding them from the churches, at least during the sermons; by keeping them off the streets and out of hearing when rites of prostration are in performance before visiting notables; by forbidding anyone to read aloud in their hearing the sensational articles in the newspapers, and by educating them to the belief that Labor and Capital are illusions. A limitation of the annual output of popular novels would undoubtedly reduce the dejection, which could be still further mitigated by abolition of the more successful magazines. If the dialect story or poem could be prohibited, under severe penalties, the sum of night-howling (erroneously attributed to lunar influence) would experience an audible decrement, which, also, would enable the fire department to augment its own uproar without reproach. There is, indeed, a considerable number of ways in which we might effect a double reform-promoting the advantage of Man, as well as medicating the mental fatigue of Dog. For another example, it would be "a boon and a blessing to man" if Society would put to death, or at least banish, the mill-man or manufacturer who persists in apprising the entire community many times a day by means of a steam whistle that it is time for his oppressed employees (every one of whom has a gold watch) to go to work or to leave off. Such things not only make a dog tired, they make a man mad. They answer with an accented affirmative Truthful James' plaintive inquiry,

"Is civilization a failure,

Or is the Caucasian played out?"

Unquestionably, from his advantageous point of view as a looker-on at the game, the dog is justified in the conviction that they are.


A WELL-KNOWN citizen of Ohio once discovered another man of the same name exactly resembling him, and writing a "hand" which, including the signature, he was unable to distinguish from his own. The two men were unable to discover any blood relationship between them. It is nevertheless almost absolutely certain that a relationship existed, though it may have been so remote a degree that the familiar term "forty-second cousin" would not have exaggerated the slenderness of the tie. The phenomena of heredity have been inattentively noted; its laws are imperfectly understood, even by Herbert Spencer and the prophets. My own small study in this amazing field convinces me that a man is the sum of his ancestors; that his character, moral and intellectual, is determined before his birth. His environment with all its varied suasions, its agencies of good and evil; breeding, training, interest, experience and the rest of it-have little to do with the matter and can not alter the sentence passed upon him at conception, compelling him to be what he is.

Man is the hither end of an immeasurable line extending back to the ultimate Adam-or, as we scientists prefer to name him, Protoplasmos. Man travels, not the mental road that he would, but the one that he must-is pushed this way and that by the resultant of all the forces behind him; for each member of the ancestral line, though dead, yet pusfaedi. In one of what Dr. Nolmes (Holmes, ed.) calls his "medicated novels," The Guardian Angel, this truth is most admirably and lucidly set forth with abundant instance and copious exposition. Upon another work of his, Elsie Venner-in which he erroneously affirms the influence of circumstance and environment-let us lay a charitable hand and fling it into the fire.

Clearly all one's ancestors have not equal power in shaping his character. Conceiving them, according to our figure, as arranged in line behind him and influential in the ratio of their individuality, we shall get the best notion of their method by supposing them to have taken their places in an order somewhat independent of chronology and a little different from their arrangement behind his brother. Immediately at his back, with a controlling hand (a trifle skinny) upon him, may stand his great-grandmother, while his father may be many removes arear. Or the place of power may be held by some fine old Asian gentleman who flourished before the confusion of tongues on the plain of Shinar; or by some cave-dweller who polished the bone of life in Mesopotamia and was perhaps a respectable and honest troglodyte.

Sometimes a whole platoon of ancestors appears to have been moved backward or forward, en bloc not, we may be sure, capriciously, but in obedience to some law that we do not understand. I know a man to whose character not an ancestor since the seventeenth century has contributed an element. Intellectually he is a contemporary of John Dryden, whom naturally he reveres as the greatest of poets. I know another who has inherited his handwriting from his great-grandfather, although he has been trained to the Spencerian system and tried hard to acquire it. Furthermore, his handwriting follows the same order of progressive development as that of his greatgrandfather. At the age of twenty he wrote exactly as his ancestor did at the same age, and, although at forty-five his chirography is nothing like what it was even ten years ago, it is accurately like his great-grandfather's at forty-five. It was only five years ago that the discovery of some old letters showed him how his great-grandfather wrote, and accounted for the absolute dissimilarity of his own handwriting to that of any known member of his family.

To suppose that such individual traits as the configuration of the body, the color of the hair and eyes, the shape of hands and feet, the thousand-and-one subtle characteristics that make family resemblances are transmissible, and that the form, texture and capacities of the brain which fix the degree of natural intellect, are not transmissible, is illogical and absurd. We see that certain actions, such as gestures, gait, and so forth, resulting from the most complex concurrences of brain, nerves and muscles, are hereditary. Is it reasonable to suppose that the brain alone of all the organs performs its work according to its own sweet will, free from congenital tendencies? Is it not a familiar fact that racial characteristics are persistent?-that one race is stupid and indocile, another quick and intelligent? Does not each generation of a race inherit the intellectual qualities of the preceding generation? How could this be true of generations and not of individuals?

As to stirpiculture, the intelligent and systematic breeding of men and women with a view to improvement of the species-it is a thing of the far future, It is hardly in sight. Yet, what splendid possibilities it carries! Two or three generations of as careful breeding as we bestow on horses, dogs and pigeons would do more good than all the penal, reformatory and educating agencies of the world accomplish in a thousand years. It is the one direction in which human effort to "elevate the race" can be assured of a definitive, speedy and adequate success. It is hardly better than nonsense to prate of any good coming to the race through (for example) medical science, which is mainly concerned in reversing the beneficent operation of natural laws and saving the unfittest to perpetuate their unfitness. Our entire system of charities is of, to the same objection; it cares for the incapables whom Nature is trying to "weed out," This not only debases the race physically, intellectually and morally, but constantly increases the rate of debasement. The proportion of criminals, paupers and the various kinds of "inmates" of charitable institutions augments its horrible percentage yearly. On the other hand, our wars destroy the capable; so thus we make inroads upon the vitality of the race from two directions. We preserve the feeble and extirpate the strong. He who, in view of this amazing folly can believe in a constant, even slow, progress of the human race toward perfection ought to be happy. He has a mind whose Olympian heights are inaccessible-the Titans of fact can never scale them to storm its ancient reign.


ALL kinds of relief, charitable or other, doubtless tend to perpetuation of pauperism, inasmuch as paupers are thereby kept alive; and living paupers unquestionably propagate their unthrifty kind more abundantly than dead ones. It is not true, though, that relief interferes with Nature's beneficent law of the survival of the fittest, for the power to excite sympathy and obtain relief is a kind of fitness. I am still a devotee of the homely primitive doctrine that mischance, disability or even unthrift, is not a capital crime justly and profitably punishable by starvation. I still regard the Good Samaritan with a certain toleration and Jesus Christ's tenderness to the poor as something more than a policy of obstruction.

If no such thing as an almshouse, a hospital, an asylum or any one of the many public establishments for relief of the unfortunate were known the proposal to found one would indubitably evoke from thousands of throats notes of deprecation and predictions of disaster. It would be called Socialism of the radical and dangerous kind-of a kind to menace the stability of government and undermine the very foundations of organized society! Yet who is more truly unfortunate than an able-bodied man out of work through no delinquency of will and no default of effort? Is hunger to him and his less poignant than to the feeble in body and mind whom we support for nothing in almshouse or asylum? Are cold and exposure less disagreeable to him than to them? Is not his claim to the right to live as valid as theirs if backed by the will to pay for life with work? And in denial of his claim is there not latent a far greater peril to society than inheres in denial of theirs? So unfortunate and dangerous a creature as a man willing to work, yet having no work to do, should be unknown outside of the literature of satire. Doubtless there would be enormous difficulties in devising a practicable and beneficent system, and doubtless the reform, like all permanent and salutary reforms, will have to grow. The growth naturally will be delayed by opposition of the workingmen themselves-precisely as they oppose prison labor from ignorance that labor makes labor.

It matters not that nine in ten of all our tramps and vagrants are such from choice, and irreclaimable degenerates into the bargain; so long as one worthy man is out of employment and unable to obtain it our duty is to provide it by law. Nay, so long as industrial conditions are such that so pathetic a phenomenon is possible we have not the moral right to disregard that possibility. The right to employment being the right to life, its denial is homicide. It should be needless to point out the advantages of its concession. It would preserve the life and self-respect of him who is needy through misfortune, and supply an infallible means of detection of his criminal imitator, who could then be dealt with as he deserves, widiout the lenity that finds justification in doubt and compassion. It would diminish crime, for an empty stomach has no morals. With a wage rate lower than the commercial, it would disturb no private industries by luring away their workmen, and with nothing made to sell there would be no competition with private products. Properly directed, it would give us highways, bridges and embankments which we shall not otherwise have.

It is difficult to say if our laws relating to vagrancy and vagrants are more cruel or more absurd. If not so atrocious they would evoke laughter; if less ridiculous we should read them with indignation. Here is an imaginary conversation:

The Law: It is forbidden to you to rob. It is forbidden to you to steal. It is forbidden to you to beg.

The Vagrant: Being without money, and denied employment, I am compelled to obtain food, shelter and clothing in one of these ways, else I shall be hungry and cold.

The Law: That is no affair of mine. Yet I am considerate-you are permitted to be as hungry as you like and as cold as may suit you.

The Vagrant: Hungry, yes, and many thanks to you; but if I go naked I am arrested for indecent exposure. You require me to wear clothing.

The Law: You'll admit that you need it.

The Vagrant: But not that you provide a way for me to get it. No one will give me shelter at night; you forbid me to sleep in a straw stack.

The Law: Ungrateful man! we provide a cell.

The Vagrant: Even when I obey you, starving all day and freezing all night, and holding my tongue with both hands, I am liable to arrest for being "without visible means of support."

The Law: A most reprehensible condition.

The Vagrant: One thing has been overlooked-a legal punishment for begging for work.

The Law: True; I am not perfect.


A PERSON who loses heart and hope through a personal bereavement is like a grain of sand on the seashore complaining that the tide has washed a neighboring grain out of reach. He is worse, for the bereaved grain cannot help itself; it has to be a grain of sand and play the game of tide, win or lose; whereas he can quit-by watching his opportunity can "quit a winner." For sometimes we do beat "the man who keeps the table"-never in the long run, but infrequently and out of small stakes. But this is no time to "cash in" and go, for you can not take your little winning with you. The time to quit is when you have lost a big stake, your fool hope of eventual success, your fortitude and your love of the game. If you stay in the game, which you are not compelled to do, take your losses in good temper and do not whine about them. They are hard to bear, but that is no reason why you should be.

But we are told with tiresome iteration that we are "put here" for some purpose (not disclosed) and have no right to retire until summoned-it may be by small-pox, it may be by the bludgeon of a blackguard, it may be by the kick of a cow; the "summoning" Power (said to be the same as the "putting" Power) has not a nice taste in the choice of messengers. That "argument" is not worth attention, for it is unsupported by either evidence or anything remotely resembling evidence. "Put here." Indeed! And by the keeper of the table who "runs" the "skin game." We were put here by our parents-that is all anybody knows about it; and they had no more authority than we, and probably no more intention.

The notion that we have not the right to take our own lives comes of our consciousness that we have not the courage. It is the plea of the coward-his excuse for continuing to live when he has nothing to live for-or his provision against such a time in the future. If he were not egotist as well as coward he would need no excuse. To one who does not regard himself as the center of creation and his sorrow as the throes of the universe, life, if not worth living, is also not worth leaving. The ancient philosopher who was asked why he did not the if, as he taught, life was no better than death, replied: "Because death is no better than life." We do not know that either proposition is true, but the matter is not worth bothering about, for both states are supportable-life despite its pleasures and death despite its repose.

It was Robert G. Ingersoll's opinion that there is rather too little than too much suicide in the world-that people are so cowardly as to live on long after endurance has ceased to be a virtue. This view is but a return to the wisdom of the ancients, in whose splendid civilization suicide had as honorable place as any other courageous, reasonable and unselfish act. Antony, Brutus, Cato, Seneca-these were not of the kind of men to do deeds of cowardice and folly. The smug, self-righteous modern way of looking upon the act as that of a craven or a lunatic is the creation of priests, Philistines and women. If courage is manifest in endurance of profitless discomfort it is cowardice to warm oneself when cold, to cure oneself when ill, to drive away mosquitoes, to go in when it rains. The "pursuit of happiness," then, is not an "inalienable right," for that implies avoidance of pain. No principle is involved in this matter; suicide is justifiable or not, according to circumstances; each case is to be considered on its merits and he having the act under advisement is sole judge. To his decision, made with whatever light he may chance to have, all honest minds will bow. The appellant has no court to which to take his appeal. Nowhere is a jurisdiction so comprehensive as to embrace the right of condemning the wretched to life.

Suicide is always courageous. We call it courage in a soldier merely to face death-say to lead a forlorn hope-although he has a chance of life and a certainty of "glory." But the suicide does more than face death; he incurs it, and with a certainty, not of glory, but of reproach. If that is not courage we must reform our vocabulary.

True, there may be a higher courage in living than in dying-a moral courage greater than physical. The courage of the suicide, like that of the pirate, is not incompatible with a selfish disregard of the rights and interests of others-a cruel recreancy to duty and decency. I have been asked: "Do you not think it cowardly when a man leaves his family unprovided for, to end his life, because he is dissatisfied with life in general?" No, I do not; I think it selfish and cruel. Is not that enough to say of it? Must we distort words from their true meaning in order more effectually to damn the act and cover its author with a greater infamy? A word means something; despite the maunderings of the lexicographers, it does not mean whatever you want it to mean. "Cowardice" means the fear of danger, not the shirking of duty. The writer who allows himself as much liberty in the use of words as he is allowed by the dictionary-maker and by popular consent is a bad writer. He can make no impression on his reader, and would do better service at the ribbon-counter.

The ethics of suicide is not a simple matter; one can not lay down laws of universal application, but each case is to be judged, if judged at all, with a full knowledge of all the circumstances, including the mental and moral make-up of the person taking his own life-an impossible qualification for judgment. One's time, race and religion have much to do with it. Some people, like the ancient Romans and the modern Japanese, have considered suicide in certain circumstances honorable and obligatory; among ourselves it is held in disfavor. A man of sense will not give much attention to considerations of that kind, excepting in so far as they affect others, but in judging weak offenders they are to be taken into the account. Speaking generally, then, I should say that in our time and country the following persons (and some others) are justified in removing themselves, and that to some of them it is a duty:

One afflicted with a painful or loathsome and incurable disease.

One who is a heavy burden to his friends, with no prospect of their relief.

One threatened with permanent insanity.

One irreclaimably addicted to drunkenness or some similarly destructive or offensive habit.

One without friends, property, employment or hope.

One who has disgraced himself.

Why do we honor the valiant soldier, sailor, fireman? For obedience to duty? Not at all; that alone-without the peril-seldom elicits remark, never evokes enthusiasm. It is because he faced without flinching the risk of that supreme disaster-or what we feel to be such-death. But look you: the soldier braves the danger of death; the suicide braves death itself! The leader of the forlorn hope may not be struck. The sailor who voluntarily goes down with his ship may be picked up or cast ashore. It is not certain that the wall will topple until the fireman shall have descended with his precious burden. But the suicide-his is the foeman that never missed a mark, his the sea that gives nothing back; the wall that he mounts bears no man's weight And his, at the end of it all, is the dishonored grave where the wild ass of public opinion

"Stamps o'er his head but can not break his sleep."

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top