Liberty, Vol. 17, No. 1, April 1908


Proprietor: BENJ. R. TUCKER, 502 Sixth Ave., New York City

Vol. XVII—No. 1 APRIL, 1908 Whole Number 403


Pride goeth before a fall. In the December number of Liberty I congratulated myself on having re-established my own composing-room. No later than January 10 this composing-room, together with the entire wholesale stock of my publications and nearly all my plates, was absolutely wiped out by fire. As I had deliberately refused to insure, because of the absurdly high rates now prevailing (the rate for the stock in my book-shop exceeds four per cent. a year), the loss was total, amounting to at least ten thousand dollars. I saw at once that, unless the more valuable portions of the stock destroyed could be speedily replaced, it would be necessary to wind up my business. At this juncture Mr. Thomas Earle White, of Philadelphia, generously offered to contribute six hundred dollars towards rehabilitation. At the same time Mr. John W. Ould, of New York, with the co-operation of Mr. Bolton Hall and Dr. E; B. Foote, undertook to raise a fund of [2] one thousand dollars; to replace the plates and stock of “The Ego and His Own.” Encouraged by this, I agreed, in case of their success, to risk two thousand dollars or more, myself, in replacing the more valuable of the other works that had been obliterated, and to continue the business, which during the last half of 1907 had been developing rapidly and seemed sure to prosper. Subscriptions to the proposed fund came in satisfactorily for a time, but ceased at a point where the total pledges amounted to about seven hundred dollars in addition to Mr. White’s. Probably the desired thousand could have been obtained by a second appeal. But in the meantime new conditions had arisen that caused me to reconsider. The formerly growing business suddenly began to dwindle, and in five or six weeks fell off more than sixty per cent. Without doubt the main cause of this is to be found in the general business depression now felt throughout the country. But in my view this period of depression will be prolonged through 1908 and possibly through 1909. Therefore I concluded that it would be folly to risk either my friends’ money or my own in the manner proposed, and accordingly asked Mr. Ould to return the sums already paid in. He has done so. But in spite of the fact that I do not deem it best to accept the proffered assistance, I wish to thank most heartily all those who so promptly and [3] generously took part in this effort at recovery from a blow that has gone far to nullify the work of thirty years. It is my intention to close up my business next summer, and, before January 1, 1909, go to Europe. there to publish Liberty (still mainly for America, of course) and such books and pamphlets as my remaining means may enable me to print. In Europe the cost of living and of publishing is hardly more than half as much as here. Perhaps in the course of years I shall be able to restore my list of publications, and even make important additions. Because of the uncertainty of my situation during the last two months, I decided to omit the February number of Liberty. This, the April number, is the only one since December.

Because of the disaster above alluded to, I am no longer able to supply “Instead of a Book” or, with a few minor exceptions, the other books and pamphlets that constituted my list. For a time, however, I shall be able to offer “The Ego and His Own” at the regular prices of $1.50 and $1 .75, according to the edition desired, having succeeded in repurchasing some copies from booksellers. Fortunately the plates of the two new books, Eltzbacher’s ‘Anarchism” (in English) and Shaw’s “The Sanity of Art,” escaped destruction, and I have been able to publish both. For further [4] information concerning these, the advertising pages of this issue may be consulted.


It was Christmas eve in a great city. No matter what city. Any city. Each may choose for himself. It was an enormous city, miles of stones and bricks in every direction. A crash and roar which never ceased, but slowly sank to lowest ebb at three o’clock in the morning, only to begin to flood again with growl and mutter in the grey dawn. A city where skeletons walked with roses in their hands. Where Starvation glared -upon Plenty, and Misery mocked at Murder. Where iron wheels ground flesh and bones and the filth of the street into a bloody mire. A city of brilliancy and darkness, of poverty and magnificence; of misery and laughter. A city where Vice kissed Virtue. A monster of smoke and glare and gloom and noise and stones, wherein was not one green thing. That exquisite color, in the infinite loveliness of which Earth bath made her garments. No, save in its fenced and guarded spots, not even a strip of humble, beautiful grass.

It was Christmas eve. I do not believe that people keep Christmas because of any memory of the gentle Christ. They do not on that day forgive their enemies, and surely, if Christ’s [5] day is to be kept in his name, that should be done. It is the thing most insisted on, and he himself did forgive, even unto the last—”Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” In all the great city with its wilderness of spires and its army of worshippers was there one, even a server at the altar, who would leave his Christmas warmth and comfort and gather together the thieves and prostitutes, the murderers and villains, and stretch pitying hands over them, saying: “Society, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Was there one who could understand these were not mere words) Even one to say to the wealthy men of the. decorous congregation, “Ye are the thieves;” to the bejeweled wives, “Ye are the prostitutes.”

I do not believe Christians think of their Christ at Christmas, save as a pale and forceless memory, as they do on Sunday. Christmas is a custom of feasting and mirth, and that is very well too, but it is not a day for forgiving our enemies. It is a day to do good to them which love us and a day for us to receive good at their hands, and that is very well too, but it is not a day for doing good to them which hate us and despitefully use us. It is a day to forget the toil and stress of life; to taste, in an ignorant way, one sip of the great truth that the best of happiness is in making others happy. It is [6] a holiday festival, a play-day, but his followers do not think of Christ as a real utterer of pradkical precepts, but oniy as a wax image or a gilt name

It was Christmas eve, and a small girl stood before a shop-window crying. This was not at all as it should be on Christmas eve. She was not crying for a sick mother or father, nor because her little brothers and sisters were hungry. She had never known mother or father, sisters or brothers. She was a human weed, sprung up by a stony wayside. That she had endured to the present was a tribute to the doctrine of chances. This wee human thistle stood in front of a brilliantly-lighted window on the principal shopping avenue of the city. She was about ten years of age, but looked seven in size, fifteen in the shrewdness of the hunted. A thin calico dress hung straight and limp from her small bony shoulders, ad below it were two broomstick legs, one in a black and the other in a brown stocking. Through the tattered hosiery showed the pearly flesh of childhood. ‘What satin is there like the skin of young girls? even the half-starved beggar girls of the street. The pearliness was too white, the face too thin and pale. The little hands clenched tightly were like the talons of a bird. Her arms were straight and rigid. ‘The tears flowed down silently and dropped into the dirty snow. Tears [7] of despair. What despair equals that of a child? The human river ran past her with all its eddies of laughter and color. Rosy young girls in rich furs, and pale young shop-girls in cheap imitation; school boys and young men on the Christmas vacation. Messenger boys and package carriers. White-headed men, red-faced men, sick-looking men from shop and factory. Thin bent working-women with the air of toil upon them and the color of foul gas-poisoned atmosphere in their cheeks. Elegantly attired, well-fed, fashionable men and women. All hurrying, all carrying parcels. Out in mid-stream in the street were smart carriages with dashing horses and rattling harness. Coachman and footman on the box in claret, bottle-green, and blue liveries fine stuffed figures, parasites on parasites. Royal. dames in royal furs reclining on the cushions.

The little girl so thin and bedraggled kept her face to the window, and wept. No one noticed her. None had time for her. This was the last hour for foolish virgins to fill their Christmas lamps. All were hurrying like mad either to the final act of shopping or to the waiting home. The ladies in ermine and sable in the carriages would barely have time to be bathed and dressed by their maids and clad in fine linen and purple velvet .for the luxurious half-past eight o’clock dinner. [8]

The little girl had had no dinner and no luncheon and no breakfast, but that was not as bad as it sounds. She was accustomed to eat as the birds do, when she could. But nevertheless this manner of eating, or rather of not eating, was slowly killing her. She would die early of a species of starvation called by the splendid Christmas title of insufficient nutrition. If I chose to pause and philosophize, I could prove in the gentlest of Christian words that this was her own fault. She should have been willing to work, and she should not have been born of poor but criminal parents, and I could prove that the ladies in the carriages who had married for money deserved their sables and ermine, for Virtue is its own reward. I could prove that the poor but criminal parents were poor because criminal, not criminal because poor. But I see a straight thin line, dark against the blazing window, and tears from a childish heart slowly falling into the slush; so I will not pause to demonstrate her guilt Let us assume it. Every one does.

In the window were dolls: boy dolls, girl dolls, baby dolls; straight dolls, fluffy dolls; pink dolls, white dolls, blue dolls; doll-carriages, doll-houses, doll-muffs to keep the little doll-hands warm. The bird-like little claws of the little girl were blue with cold. She was not thinking of the dolls. Some who in fact did notice her crying said to themselves [9] as they hurried on, There is a poor little girl who never had a doll in her life. weeping because she cannot have a beautiful doll. But none stopped to give her one. That occurs in stories. Had there been a rich Good Samaritan of the story-books, he would have led her inside and made her happy with the central blonde beauty as large as herself and in fur-trimmed bonnet and jacket. But the human river Rowed on, never heeding the withered little leaf lodged on the shore.

She was not thinking of the dolls. True, she never had a doll in her life. Such a thing was not for her. It was as if we should cry for the moon. She did not want a doll. Two days before this blessed Christmas tide the little girl had been a professional beggar and petty thief. One must live, you know. For example, how would the omniscient judges, or you, my friend, resolve the morals of this problem? Certain shrewd men get all the bread there is. It is theirs. They have bought the flour and made the bread. It is the only bread to be had, and a starving man who has no money arrives at the place and demands bread, but the bread lords refuse to give it. except for high price. Ought the starving man to die honestly, or steal and dishonestly live? However, you need not trouble to answer the question, for, whichever way you answer it, nevertheless the man will steal. There is something in life which persists in thinking [10] itself of more value than property, and perhaps it is right; for, when you consider all that life has done and may yet do, it is very possible that life is the most precious thing there is. We blow up palaces in conflagration to prevent greater loss. Perhaps for the wretch to steal from them who have all is not the greatest crime. This little slip of a girl begged for her life and stole for it. Life. Life. That wonderful possession for which we fight so hard. True, she was worked in this trade by a villain who lived on his—Rats, as he called them; but, when you have parasites above, you will have parasites below.

She had no memory of home or father or mother. Only of dens and fetid places, of a gnawing where her stomach was and of blows if she did not bring back enough at night She stole to live. Two days before had come Micky Milligan, seller of papers, Arab of the street; and with him came freedom. Freedom is sweet to men and birds alike, even to the poor. Micky was fourteen, and wiser than the cultured plant at forty. He taught her to defy her boss, rescued her from a beating, and was not fool enough to call upon the profit-sharing detective force, but threatened to bring down a brace of reporters from his paper to write up “de hull gang.” Told her to “cut the game, and sweat for herself. What’s de use)” Only the day before he had arranged that she was [11] to sell flowers on the street from a tray. Then suddenly, like the shadow of a summer cloud, he was knocked down by a team of these same jingling horses and carried to the free ward of the hospital, an inert mass of dirt and freckles. A broken leg and a rap on the hard little skull, born to take a good many. When she had gone to the hospital, it was after hours, and the great building, so full of lights, turned her away. She sought a railway station, and, when turned out of that, she huddled against the warm wall of the boiler-room of a factory, in company with half a dozen boys. like snow-birds in the lee of a barn. In the morning—this very morning—the day before Christmas—she had gone early to the great building, and hung about till they told her he was all right, but could speak to no one; that she should come again late in the afternoon. This she did, and had been admitted to the long hail which smelled so nasty but was so nice and warm; and she had seen Micky in his beautiful white bed in a room full of beds, and he said he was now all right except his leg, which would be all right in a bit; and she had taken his money, and, according to his instructions, gone to the flower-merchant and made a deposit for a tray of second-rate carnations on beautiful new toothpicks with a delicate spray of feather asparagus. How her heart beat! She would live honestly; she would make money for [12] them both. For Micky, her beloved. What joy! How the world smiled before her! She was kept waiting at the florist’s a very long time. She was so eager to work. But at last a few minutes before this weeping, she had sallied into the crowd with her modest tray full of certainly modest boutonnières. Very proud was she as she began crying in a shrill voice: “Flowers. Flowers, please, lady. Flowers for your buttonhole, gentleman. Please buy a flower.” And she imagined with swelling joy the money she would make for Micky. As a frail canoe in unskillful hands dashes on the rocks in mid-stream, so she ran into a policeman first thing, who threatened to arrest her for peddling without a license. Without a license! A license to live! It was Christmas eve, and he was a big German; so, after asking the name of the florist, he let her go, receiving from her trembling hands the first of her bouquets as a propitiatory offering.

Alas! Alas! The planets surely frowned upon this human atom; for, as she stood an eager merchant offering her wares to a crowd of young college men, somewhat hilarious with youth, the season, and wine, one, drunken unto foolishness, kicked tray and all into the street, the carnations flew high in air and then glowed in the slush for a moment, and then tray and flowers were quickly ground under hoof and wheel. The kicker laughed idiotically, and forgot instantly what had [13] happened. The others, wreathing arms, hurried off with him. One flung her a two-dollar bank- note. It was snatched from before her eyes by a gaunt, hollow-eyed spectre, who fled across the chaotic street and vanished. And, before she realized these sudden disasters, she was penniless; propertyless; the florist’s tray gone, and Micky in the hospital. The world had come to an end. She burst into tears.

There was some slight commotion, but no one seemed to understand what was the matter, and all hurried past She heard a woman say, “I wonder what that child is crying about,” and her friend answer, “Oh! nothing at all probably. Hurry, or we II miss our car. A few looked at her, but passed on. Then she went to the doll-window, and turned her back to the world and wept her despair. She did not reason. She did what the cub wolf does. She sought to eat. She sought to live. She abandoned profitless virtue, and turned to prey upon her kind. She turned with the salt real tears in her eyes, and with a voice of real misery she begged from the rushing human river. None regarded her. All were too skeptical or too hurried to heed her outstretched cold little talon, or her tremulous, “Please, lady, I’m hungry,” or “Please, gentleman, I’ve a brother in the hospital.” A bishop coming out of the store with the brilliant window, carrying a doll in a box as large as a [14] baby’s coffin, rebuked her: “My child, you should be in better business. Go home.” And, turning to the lady with him, he said: “There. is no greater mistake than to encourage street-beggars. They are the worst of parasites, and should be put into jail.” A truth only less than the truth that there should be no laws giving special privileges to some, making serfs and parasites of all the rest. He ushered the lady into a glittering carriage, followed her, and they drove away. Something of the contrast between her and them; something of the failure of any profit in her relapse to beggary; something of her loss of flowers and tray, Micky’s property; something of Micky’s clean comfortable white bed; and something of hunger and weakness,—made her childish brain whirl; and, seeing another smart and rattling pair of horses approaching (such as did the business for Micky) she rushed into the street and threw herself before them. The coachman set them back on their haunches; there was sliding and slipping and cursing. The big policeman dashed in, and came back like a mastiff carrying a rat, the slim, limp, ragged, dirty little girl. “What the devil did you do that for)” he said, angrily, as he stood her on her feet. “I didn’t go to,” she whined, fearing arrest; “I slipped.” “Did she do it on purpose?” said several, eagerly. “No,” she said, weeping; “I slipped. Let me go. Let me go.” [15]

It was Christmas eve. Every one was in a furious hurry. Each had an engrossing mission all his own. There was no time to be lost on the fleeting woes of a ragged little girl of the street. The knot of people melted back into the hurrying stream as quickly as it had evolved from it. The big policeman held the fragile bird-claw in his burly fist, and eyed his captive. It was a tableau of Virtue triumphant over Vice. And the world flowed past. Richly-appareled women with escorts of supreme elegance; a clergyman of the traditional sleek type, a preacher of ascetic mien. The keen-faced lawyer, the prosperous merchant. Even an undertaker. It was the avenue of fashionable shops, and the street-throng was chiefly fashionable. They looked at the Law and its captive, and said or thought. “Some youthful malefactor, but the Law pill do all for the best. The Law gives and the Law takes away; blessed be the name of the Law!” They swept on, eager in their own anticipations of Christmas.

A woman—the world denied her the title of lady, though she was dressed beyond any of them— was coming up the street. A messenger-boy, evidently her property, followed with a huge pasteboard box. Splendid was her black hat with wealth of sable plumes. Glossy the silver fox collar to her fur-lined dark green coat. Huge her silver fox muff. Great diamonds shone at her ears. [16] Brilliant her dark eyes and white teeth. Almost too small her pretty nose. Babyish and weak her pretty mouth and chin. She trod her way, enjoying the scene, self-confident, independent, looking boldly into the faces of the men she met. She passed a straight, handsome fellow of forty without a sign of recognition. He was one of her lovers. She had many. She was known to half the world as Mabel Richly. She lived upon her beauty. The furs and diamonds were the price of it. She preferred luxury to penury. Her eye saw the tableau: Vice in the triumphant clutch of Virtue. Saw the thin little form, the hollow cheeks, high cheek-bones, tear-stained; the tear-swollen eyes, blue underneath; the rags, dirt, misery. She saw a little child suffering. Without hesitation she pushed her bold way to the scene, and said to the policeman:

“What’s the matter, Gus?” and, without waiting for an answer, she stooped and took the child’s face in her gloved hands, warm from her muff. “What’s the matter, little girl?“ “She tried to commit suicide,” said Gus, with cheerful disgust. “What! So soon! Oh, come, this is a little early,” said the girl (she was only twenty-two), and then, quickly pulling the thin wan face more upward:

“You poor little sinner. You have lovely eyes. You poor little sinner. You’ve got on your summer frock. Aren’t you freezing: God, this [17] isn’t right! Where’s your home) Where does she belong, Gus?” “I ain’t got any,” and partly earnest, partly the beggar’s artifice, the whine and sobs began. “No home,” said the girl, and then repeated, as if the words had struck some chord within her, “No home.” “Where do you go at night?” continued Mabel. “Nowhere,” said the little girl. “Nowhere!” said the girl, in a shivering voice. “Nowhere! Gus, I’m going to take her.” “Oh, hush, Miss Richly,” growled the limb of the law,—a very huge limb,—”What can you do with her?” with a meaning accent on the you. “Feed her, bathe her, clothe her; get her warm. Let her have one warm happy night in her life,” said Mabel, with quivering chin—that babyish chin; “it’s Christmas eve.” From out Mabel’s muff hung the point of a lace handkerchief. Any one could see that it was valuable. This was too much for the hungry little thief. She slipped her hand up to it, and in a twinkling it was gone and thrust through a hole in her dress waist. Gus’s eye caught it as it disappeared. “There,” said he, “she’s a professional thief. I tell you she’s got your handkerchief this minute” and he pulled it out, the little girl looking uninterested and unashamed. It was the fortune of war, that was all. “Of course she has,” said Mabel; “I gave it to her myself when I first came up. I wiped her eyes with it, and gave it to her.” The little girl [18] looked at this pretty liar, and eyed her as if she would come at her secret soul. Lying to save her. She couldn’t understand it. Mabel cut the matter short with an imperative, “Gus, get me a carriage; hurry up.” Gus walked up the street a little way, threw up his hand, and presently a cab halted at the curb. The little girl and the big box were lifted in. the messenger-boy was dismissed with a Christmas tip. Mabel’s fur coat was thrown about the wisp of humanity. “Don’t you forget, it’s your own foolishness,” said Gus, as the cab moved off; “remember, that child’s a professional thief.” “What are you?” shouted Mabel, gleefully, and then sank back muttering, “What am I?“—and she hugged the frail little body. “To the Bazaar,” called Mabel to the cabby, and then to the little girl, “What’s your name?” “Kid,” said the child. Mabel laughed. “I mean your real name:” “I ain’t got any,” whined the child. “How old are you?” “I dunno.” “What were you crying about?” Mabel was still in the process of extracting from the child the tale of her woes and of Micky in the hospital when the cab drew up at the Bazaar.

Mabel pushed her way to the children’s department. Some ladies, jammed as the place was, contrived to draw their dresses away so that she should not touch them. She sat upon a stool and entered upon a shopping spree with all the zest imaginable. She bought the finest and most [19] useless things, ending in blue silk stockings, a fluffy blue silk dress, and blue morocco pumps. She had great fun advising with the pretty but faded shop-girl with dark rings under her eyes. They laughed together over Mabel’s complete forgetfulness as to underwaists and stocking- supporters, as if it were the greatest joke in the world. ‘The shop-girl nodded smilingly every now and then to the kid, who stood shrinking to the smallest possible dimensions beside Mabel. “Now, how much is it?” said Mabel; “I’m awful late.” The sales—girl figured for a few moments, and then said: “A hundred and thirty dollars and eighty-seven cents.” “What!” shrieked Mabel, pretending to faint; “why, I haven’t got half that,” and she poured a crumpled bunch of notes and some silver on the counter. “It’s robbery. No wonder old can keep three establishments. [She named the owner of the Bazaar, but I am afraid to use any name at all for fear that it might be personal.] Send for your floor-walker.” That bald-headed gentleman appeared, rubbing his hands, and Mabel talked low into his ear. “Why, certainly, certainly,” he replied, smiling. “That’s all right,” said he to the sales-girl; “charge to Miss Richly.” “Oh! not all; I’ll pay—let’s see, I’ll pay—well, take forty-five,” she said, pushing it over and taking back the odd change. “Send it out to my carriage, will you?” she added. [20] “Certainly,” said the floor-walker, bowing obsequiously. Men are more liberal-minded than women in some things, as applied to men.

“Home,” said Mabel, nodding to the driver. As they began to proceed slowly through the crush of carriages, the kid poked a small bundle at Mabel, and said: “Here, lady.” It was a fine lace-trimmed nightgown, and more blue silk stockings. “Where did you get these?” said Mabel. “Pinched them,” said the child earnestly, almost eagerly; “they’re for you.” “Oh, dear,” said Mabel, and ordered the driver back to the Bazaar. “See here, Kiddy, you mustn’t steal.” “I got to steals” whined the child. “No, you haven’t,” said Mabel; “not any more. Do you understand? Not any more, and I do not like it. It ain’t right, and you’ll get me into trouble. Now, Kiddy, I’m going to take care of you, but you must never steal again. Never. Promise?” “Yes,” sobbed Kiddy, pushing her face into Mabel’s side, all confused and disheartened. “How am I going to live?” she whined. “With me,” said Mabel, tears starting into her eyes; “with me, Kiddy,” and the prostitute put her arm about the waif.

Mabel found the shop-girl with the tired eyes and returned the things, saying they had got in with the other things by mistake. “Oh, I’m so glad,” said the girl, wiping away a tear; “I was awfully worried. I would have been charged with [21] them. It was just spoiling my Christmas.” Then, on the way home, Mabel, by way of a moral precept from an immoral preceptor, told Kiddy how the poor girl who worked so hard was crying because she would have had to pay for the things.

Arrived at a house with all the curtains closely drawn, but evidently bursting with light within, Mabel touched the bell, and the door was quickly opened by a giant negress. “Mary, pay the man and a Christmas tip, and bring the things up to my room,” said Mabel; and she and Kiddy hurried in. After some preliminary Christmas persiflage. Mary drew from a bosom resembling that of a Goddess of Abundance a roll of bills, paid a dollar and a half to the driver, and carried in the boxes.

The double parlors of the house were gaudily furnished: red damask curtains, chairs and divan covered with red damask. Red wall-paper with a deeper velvet stripe in it. A thick carpet of huge red roses on a green ground. An. onyx-table with gilt legs, and other furniture, and a piano. No books other than two paper-covered novels on the onyx table. Strolling about the room were two or three women of superb figures and in elegant if rather showy costumes, cut extremely low, front and back, to show splendid shoulders and bosoms. One blonde Venus (artificial) in pale blue velvet sat in a gilt-back chair, her elbows on the onyx table, manicuring her nails. She caught sight of [22] Mabel and the child as they passed the door, and called out in a shrill voice: “Hello, Mabel;” and then, in still shriller surprise, “What in the name of God have you got there?” All eyes were turned on Mabel and the waif, and Mabel walked into the room, holding the child by the hand. The child stood quite composedly, looking at the beautiful women and occasionally glancing her eyes over the room. “Well, where did you pick that up?” continued the blonde; “who is she?” “I picked her up in the street” said Mabel, triumphantly; “she’s mine.” “Well, of all the little guttersnipes”—the blonde was saying, when a sharp, “Shut up, Belle,” from Mabel, caused the blonde to shut up. open her eyes, also her mouth, and say quite phlegmatically: “What’s the matter? The matter is this child has no home, and has had nothing to eat since yesterday.” “The poor little young one! Oh, dear! Poor thing!” sounded a chorus from all the beautiful women with tired eyes as they came about the child: and the blonde said: Come out here with me; I’ll fix you.” And the tallest of them all, one of queenly figure and a marble white face in which burned deep-set black eyes, stooped down and took the child’s hands, and looked sadly at her, and said:

“Mabel, why don’t you let her die?” “Come with me, Dolly,” said Mabel to her; “we’ll bathe her first, and then see about it. Belle, please, if [23] you don’t mind, order a good supper sent in; plenty of rich milk. Will you?” Dark-eyed Dolly, Mabel, and the child vent upstairs, where the African goddess of bounteous bosoms awaited theme “Mary, prepare a bath,” said Mabel, “and then open those bundles and lay out the clothes in my room.”

“It’s all right for Mabel to bring home little street beggars; it’s her house; but, if one of us did it, it would be different,” said Belle, down in the parlor. “You don’t begrudge that child a warm supper, do you?“ said a slender girl in a golden-brown brocade which went well with her red hair. “No, I don’t,” snapped Belle, “and you know I don’t. Mag, you have the nastiest way about you. ‘What makes you talk like that? I was only thinking how nice it was for Mabel to have her own house.” “And wishing you had yours,” smiled Mag. “Why not? Wishin’ is no crime. If I did have it, I can tell you one thing; there wouldn’t be any but ladies in it,” and Belit gathered up her manicuring tools. “Where would you be?” smiled Mag, as Belle swept from the room.

Dolly and Mabel took off their dresses and went to the bathroom, where the warm water was gently steaming in the white porcelain tub. They made the little girl shed her rags, as if she were a snake, and the skin was carried off to be burned. [24] Then they dropped the thin little body gently into the water and wept inwardly to see how thin she was, and they laughed as she clutched Mabel’s arm in a drowning clasp. They took turns in soaping and scrubbing from scalp to toes, and no two girls bathing a doll or a puppy ever enjoyed it. half as much. Kiddy too began to feel the luxury of it, and to be at home. She splashed, and even laughed a timid laugh to see how clean and pearly and pink she was. All this had taken much time, and, as they were rubbing and drying her hair, combing and untangling it, Mary came to say Mr. Demon and two other gentlemen were downstairs. “All right,” said Mabel, and went on eagerly polishing off Kiddy. Belle and Mary arrived with a tray-full of supper, and the four women united in stuffing Kiddy far beyond the limit of safety, beginning with soup and ending with ice cream, but with plain crackers and milk the leading favorite.

Then the dressing began, and it became a high festival. It was decided to put on the gorgeous symphony in blue. Mary came to say that Mr. ‘Waite was downstairs to see Miss Dolly. “All right. Let him wait,” said Dolly; “that suits his name.” Before the finishing touches had been given the lower regions were thronged. Carriages drove up, the front door-bell constantly rang. Other splendid voluptuous-looking women arrived, some of them rather coarse-looking, all of them [25] hail-fellow-well-met. They ran upstairs to see Mabel and her kid, laughing boisterously as they entered and saying they had heard all about it. One of them kissed the child and said she was surely somebody’s love child, and her own eyes filled with tears. Some admired her long lashes, very red little mouth, and delicate skin with blue veins, and said that Mabel was a jewel. All agreed she was looking for trouble. Mabel’s eyes sparkled like jewels, her cheeks glowing with her exertions over the bath-tub, in the parlor the piano was heard shouting and hurrahing in Christmas enthusiasm of the wildest sort, and growing momentarily more excited and reckless. Shouts and laughter drifted up. “She can’t go down there,” said Mabel, significantly. “Sure she can,” said one of the new-corners; “everybody is all right; it’s only Christmas Eve,” and the impetuous new-corner grasped Kiddy by the wrist and led her downstairs in all her cerulean glory.

“Give her to me,” said Mabel; “if she is to go down, I will take her.” The others all ran ahead as couriers, shouting, “Here comes Mabel and her kid.”

The scene had changed. Men were scattered about; some in evening dress, some in business suits. Champagne bottles and glasses were everywhere—on the table, the piano, the mantel, [26] and on tête-à-tête tables which had been brought

in. Every one was drinking. A very dissipated-looking man, immaculately dressed in evening clothes, sat at the piano. His face was bloated and pimply; his hair the thinnest possible thatch to a rubicund scalp. “Billy, play this” and “Billy, play that,” they shouted to him, and on the instant he responded to the calls; chiefly waltzes, two-steps, and rag-time, and the airs from the latest musical vaudeville. Sometimes there was a call for Faust or Lohengrin or Carmen or some such classical music, which he played with the same bold brilliancy and about the same expression as his cake-walks.

A beardless, withered, weazen-faced monkey you mistook for a faded boy till a second glance assured you that he was seventy if he was a day and wore a wig and had false teeth was also faultlessly attired in evening dress and glittering with rings, fob, studs, and a bracelet. He went about with a bottle and a glass, presenting the bubbling golden draught to each beauty in turn and kissing her shoulders and bosom. Here and there a fair nymph sat upon the knee of her faun or satyr, and patted his cheek, and kissed him. It was Billy and Jack and Belle and Maud, Bob and Flora, calling from one end of the room to the other. Occasionally a mare demure ‘Mr. Smith,” or, “Your friend.” Shouting, laughter, and a [27] babel of voices, and the lively piano rollicking through it all with Billy swaying before the keys.

“Here comes Mabel and her kid.” The babel subsided. Mabel and the child paused upon the staircase, and through the open double doorway looked upon the scene. Billy glanced over his shoulder and began to play, “Hail to the Chief.” The child shrank against Mabel, and made a charming blue spot against Mabel’s old rose satin dress. All were crowding to the doorway and staring at the child peering out between the banisters. “Well, ladies and gentlemen,” said Mabel; “if you think this is a menagerie, come up here behind the bars, and Kiddy and I will poke umbrellas at you.” Billy played a bar or two of, “Oh, I went to the Animal Fair,” and then, as Mabel and the child descended, he struck up the wedding march from Lohengrin. “Hello, Bob. Is that for us?” she laughed, nodding toward the piano, and holding out both hands impulsively to the gentleman whom she had passed a few hours before on the street without recognition,—Mr. Bob Denton. He introduced two friends, and she received them with quite conventional dignity. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said she, “this is Christmas Eve, and, if Billy will stop that racket for a moment, I want to tell you a little Christmas story. Out in St. Luke’s Hospital is a little newsboy who won’t have any Christmas to-morrow. [28] He hasn’t any father or mother, sister or brother, not a soul who cares whether he lives or dies except this little girl here. He fought for her, gave her the last cent he had, and was knocked down by a pair of carriage-horses and his leg broken. He hasn’t a cent in the world, and is sick and without friends. Everybody flit your glasses. Here’s a Merry Christmas to Mickey Milligan! How much are you going to give. Bob? Remember, it’s Christmas Eve.” “How much do you want?” laughed Bob. “All I can get.” Billy commenced to play softly Verdi’s Ave Maria, as if the deacons were passing the plate, which was better than could have been expected of him. Bob called for a piece of paper, and made himself trustee, and subscribed a goodly sum, and then carried the paper around. Billy was the only one who shook his head. He said, “Don’t you see my hands are occupied?“ All laughed, and apparently expected nothing from him. When Bob approached the withered monkey, he was talking with Mag, the red-haired girl in the brown brocade. She said, “Don’t bother Mr. Carew now, Bob. He is going to give through me.” It was like an auction. All the women vied with each other in pushing their men to the highest figures. When Mabel saw the completed paper, she clapped her hands joyfully and, looking over Bob’s shoulder, said, “But the Dickey Bird isn’t down,”—the Dickey Bird being [29] the Monkey, otherwise Mr. Carew. “Mr. Carew,” said the copper-haired Venus, “does not care to write his name.” “No,” said Mr. Carew, smirking. “But,” continued she, “he is glad to give this trifle.” Saying which, she laid in Bob Denton’s hand one of Mr. Carew’s huge pearl studs worth a thousand dollars at least, which she had abstracted while treacherously fondling that little monstrosity. “No, no,” shrieked the monkey, and all laughed and shouted, “So good of you. Hear. Hear. Hurrah for the Dickey Bird!” Till he was glad-to ransom his pearl for half its value.

The waif was looking with dark solemn eyes at those who led her about, kissed her, held her in their laps. Surely she was in Fairyland or Heaven, only she had never heard of either. She was warm, arid full-fed, and clean, and dressed like a princess, if she had ever heard of one. Her eyes were growing heavy. “What is her name?” “She has none.” “We’ll christen her,” said Billy; “what shall her name be? I had a little sister once; I remember her about this age; her name was Anne. We’ll call her Anne.” “Here’s to Anne!” they shouted, gleefully. “Bumpers to Anne!” And Billy struck up Bonnie Annie Laurie, which was sung by the congregation.

“Now, Kiddy, you can hardly keep your eyes open. Come to bed, and tomorrow we’ll go see Mickey, and take him everything he wants and [30] more too, and take care of him. You must thank all these kind gentlemen for helping you and Mickey and me, and wish them Merry Christmas.” “Merry Christmas!” replied the child, in a dazed, sleepy voice. “What are you going to make of her, Mabel?“ said Billy. Mabel hesitated a moment, and then said defiantly, “A good woman, or”—and a sob seemed to catch in her voice—”cut her throat” There was a solemn silence, and at that instant bells were heard booming and clanging over the city, and a shout went up, “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, Mabel! Merry Christmas, little Anne!” The piano shouted a Christmas carol.

Mabel and the child went up to Mabel’s room. Mary was sent downstairs with the big box which the boy following Mabel had been carrying. Shouts and screams and peals of laughter came upstairs, for in it was a grotesque present for every one, including a dickey bird which wagged its head three times and hopped twice, for Mr. Carew. Mabel kissed her good night, and ran down to join the frolic.

Presently little Anne sank to exquisite slumber in Mabel’s own bed, soothing and delicious sleep on the soft pillows and between the cool sweet sheets of sin.

The next day, Christ’s Day, the bishop [31] preached an eloquent sermon to a most brilliant congregation on the text, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Francis Du Bosque.


“If you mention the word ‘Liberty’ at Columbus,” said an Ohio State senator to me, “everybody gets frightened; they think you are talking Socialism or Anarchy!”

This is a healthy sign. Time was when “Liberty” was a word to conjure with; when every politician, every procurer of law-created privilege, proclaimed himself its champion. This change shows some analysis. Proceeding thus, they will discover the difference between Socialism and Anarchism.

But why get hysterical? Even when their victims shall also sense the true kinship of Liberty, the plutocratic law-makers will have no good reason for being frightened. For then the time shall dawn when even they will be able to get a comfortable living, honestly.

Fred Schulder. [32]


I wish to propound the question—I should be glad to be able to answer it; perhaps writing will cause me to make up my mind on some of the points involved, and I shall offer an answer before I finish the article, as sometimes happens to me— how far certain terms of opprobrium, which connote wilful misdoing, are applicable (with that connotation) to people who do amiss without realizing it,

If a man categorically asserts a thing which he believes to be true, and does not intimate by word or tone that his knowledge is less than positive certainty; if nevertheless this man has neglected to provide himself with any’ such basis of knowledge as entitles his testimony to any weight at all; and if the thing that he says happens not to be so,— is he a liar? If he is, then (as Scott misquoted Falstaff) “how we men are given to lying!”

If a man has succeeded in persuading himself that he is devoted to certain principles and that his actions are determined by conformity to these principles; if he then makes this same profession before his neighbors; if nevertheless his devotion to these principles is merely formal, the connection of these principles with his actions purely artificial; and many of his actions such as any reasonable interpretation of his principles would emphatically [33] forbid,—is he a hypocrite? Here we may appeal to the history of the word. For all our modem use of the word “hypocrite” is founded on the use of this word by Jesus Christ;* and, if human nature acted the same then as now, we cannot suppose that most of those whom he called “hypocrites” were conscious of not being God’s most faithful – servants.

If a man believes that what the law gives him is his, and thereupon diligently takes to himself goods which are given to him by an unjust law without thinking it worth his while to study the question whether this particular law is just or unjust; or if he believes that what a just law gives him is his, and then takes goods under an actually unjust law which he regards as correct and practical and public-spirited and good for the country, while he despises as pernicious theoretical moonshine the law which would really be just and would stop his profits; or if he is incapable of seeking any unjust gain for himself privately, but will decree that his government shall commit acts of rapacity,—is he a thief?

If a man who is heartily opposed to bribery commits an act which has the effect and ordinary [34] form of bribery, without realizing that he is exerting any illegitimate influence, is he a corruptionist? Doubtless America’s foremost instance in our day is the way in which that undeniably upright men, John Wanamaker, who is so innocent that he cannot foresee what wickedness some people’s interpretation will find in his acts,** raised $400,000 to be handed to that most notorious corruptionist, Matthew S. Quay, hi the last days of a presidential campaign, and then immediately accepted a postmaster-generalship under the president whom Quay had succeeded in electing, and whom Quay was supposed to be advising. But perhaps a still more illuminating case, is that of some W. C. T. U. ladies I heard of, who set up a coffee-stand near the polls, and dealt out their best coffee freely to those who would vote no license—and to no others. They wanted to induce men to vote their way, and their innocent heath never dreamed that no bribery of voters could be more formal and barefaced than theirs.

There is no need of prejudicing these questions by making the point that it is bad business to call names anyhow. Whether this is true or not, the [35] man who Wants to defend a friend has just as much interest in knowing whether certain conduct falls within or without the definition of dishonesty as has the man who wants to disparage an enemy.

Besides setting aside this point, we may set off certain parts of our questions as not likely to be disputed by competent persons; for instance, that dishonesty consists in the substance of the thing done and not in its form. It is said that robbers asked St. Francis of Assisi where a certain man, whom they were pursuing, had gone. “He has not gone this way,” replied the saint—and ran his hand up his sleeve. Whatever may be said in defence of his lie, it was just as much a lie as if he had kept his hand out of his sleeve. And, if a law which gives a husband control of his wife’s property is unjust, then a husband who takes advantage of such a law to take to himself part of his wife’s earnings or patrimony is guilty of robbery in the same degree—all other things, including his knowledge of the nature of his act, being equal—as if he had taken the same from some other woman who could have prosecuted him. This we will take as agreed, and also that muddle-headed mischief does the same harm to the sufferers as wilful mischief. If a man takes or destroys my property by misunderstanding, I am just as much out as if he had meant to rob me; and there is just as much motive for taking repressive [36] measures against him in the on& case as in the other, provided there is the same hope that they will be effective. If a man misstates facts because he is (so far as ordinary judgment can see) constitutionally incapable of seeing the difference between correct and incorrect statement, the deceived man gets no great relief by hearing that his informant is incapable of an intentional lie.

Of course it is possible to dodge all debatable questions of language by paraphrasing. You may say of your careless friend that he never permits himself to make any statement which he knows or believes to be untrue, and of your careless enemy that he is a man whose word cannot be believed under oath; and both statements may be unimpeachably correct, while the two men may be as like as any two peas as regards their relation to the truth. I say both statements may be correct; but about a man of the careless type or the muddle-headed type the latter is much likelier to be quite correct than the former. For there is nothing more absolute than the unreliability of a man who does not know the truth from a falsehood, and no firm determination on his part to be honest can affect his unreliability. He is a much less credible witness than the clear-headed wilful liar, for the latter will tell the truth when he chooses, while it is extraordinary if the former tells the truth about anything beyond the extremely simple. [37] Even if the liar has become such a slave to habit that he lies when it is obviously for his interest to tell the truth, as is the case with some liars, he is at least no less credible than the hopeless blunderer.

I do not believe, however, that the thoroughly clear-headed liar is a very common animal. Accurate apprehension of truth is so difficult to the human race that a man is not likely to get it in a high degree unless he devotes himself to the investigation of truth quite carefully. This carefulness is not so likely to be undertaken except by those who are distinctly the. friends and partisans of truth; and, when a man has taken all the trouble of picking out the truth for himself, he is likely to set such a value on his acquisition that he will insist on using that, and not a substitute, wherever he can. So the man who is not particular about telling the truth is not likely to be the man who particularly knows the truth.

This thought may help us to appraise the statement Darwin made in his later years (in the brief autobiography printed at the beginning of his “Life and Letters”) that in all his life he had known only two cases in which anybody told a downright lie. This statement is to be compared with the words of George Bernard Shaw’s soldier in Arms and the Man, where he intimates that the practice of daily lying is so universal that one is justified in disbelieving the sincerity of any person [38] who demands that his word be’ regarded as above suspicion. Of the two witnesses, Darwin is much more credible than Shaw. Darwin was to an unusual degree devoted to truth, habituated to accuracy, and conscious of the possibility that unexpected importance may attach to any statement whatever; he had no motive for falsehood in this case, and he made his statement deliberately as a matter worth paying attention to. Shaw’s high reputation does not lie especially along the line of scientific accuracy, whatever may be his artistic accuracy. It is of course to be assumed that Darwin uses “lie” in a very narrow sense. And yet one cannot help thinking that, if Darwin had been not a naturalist but a journalist, a politician, or a lawyer, he might have been able to remember at least a round half-dozen lies in his life, after making all possible allowances. Darwin had, in my judgment, two protections against hearing lies. First, he paid attention mainly to topics on which men have less temptation to lie than on some; but second, he dealt largely with men of science, and a man who spends his life in the study of truth is less likely to be willing to lie.

As a contribution to this study I would cite the case of the man I know best. I don’t myself lie daily as Shaw would have us all do. The last time I gave plausible ground for a charge of lying, so far as I know, was in 1899, when my bicycle [39] was new. I rode down town without a light at night, and a constable held me up and proposed to arrest me and asked me if I didn’t know the law against riding without lights after dark. Having to answer hastily, and being desirous to answer persuasively, I said I didn’t. Now, the fact was that I did know, in the background of my memory. that there was some sort of an ordinance posted up on a tree, of which I remembered the clause that forbade riding on the sidewalk, and I remembered that there was something else. If I had not had to answer him without taking time for thought, I should certainly have figured out that the reason why I did not remember the last part was because I had not expected, at the time when I took notice of, the sign, to be riding after dark at all, and that this part of the sign must be the requirement of lights—as was in fact the case. My judgment at the time, after thinking the matter over, was that I had not been lying; but I felt that I had come nearer to it than I had ever come in I couldn’t say how many years, and it gave me a severe psychical shake-up.

What I mean by lying, for myself, is the use of language or its equivalent so as to be avoidably deceptive. I call it lying to tell a man on the first of April that there is a long hair on his coat-collar, when there isn’t; or, being asked the way to the lunatic asylum, to point to the city hail in silence; [40] or to tell an illiterate man that there isn’t a sesquipedalian mosquito on my place, expecting that he will most probably take “sesquipedalian” as a mere word of profane emphasis. And these things I don’t do. But I do not hold myself bound, as U. S. Grant is said to have done, to chase up a man and correct myself if I find that I have accidentally misstated some utterly unessential matter; nor do I object to telling of that Western county which is good for most kinds of farming, but cannot raise melons because the soil is so rich that the melons get bumped to pieces by the speed with which the growth of the vines drags them over the ground—for I do not think that in telling this story I am causing anybody to believe what is not so; nor do I think it a lie to give a gray-haired conservative the most accurate and intelligible account of Anarchism that I can, even though I know that he will certainly contrive to misunderstand it utterly. Nor do I hold myself bound to refrain from such obvious rhetorical exaggerations as the words “there is nothing more absolute” five paragraphs back; but from a literary standpoint 1 think it wiser to avoid such, for superlatives and universals are much more effective if reserved for the occasions where they are Literally true. Such occasions are not scarce if one will pick his words, and not say that a thing is “the vilest outrage recorded in all the history of [41] the human race” when he means “it has features of vileness which outdo anything I ever read of.” The more accurate statement is by far the more effective because of its more special tone. Young writers should be told to take a lesson from the weather bureau, which, by such carefully limited statements as “the hottest 13th of May in twenty- seven years.” is able to keep up a constant stream of announcements of broken records, every one sensational enough to take a scare-head in the paper, and every one scientifically accurate. So, If 1 had not meant to use “there is nothing more absolute than the unreliability of a man who” as an illustration down here. I might wisely have changed it to “no man can be more perpetually unreliable than one who,” first for the sake of saying a better thing, and second for the sake of what Plato well says: “To speak amiss is not only unworkmanlike in itself, but it also damages the speaker’s intellect.”

And, finally, when I say that I do not tell lies, I do not mean that I never assert with the air of knowledge a thing about which l have neglected to get properly reliable knowledge. I strive against this foul and noisome vice, and I am as free from it as some of my neighbors; but I do not claim to be so far free from this as I am from asserting things which, to the best of my knowledge, are most probably not true. Therefore, while I [42] believe that the testimony I have given is relevant to Shaw’s charges against mankind, I cannot absolutely assert that I am not a liar till I have an idea whether unwarranted positiveness is to be called lying.

Another reservation we may make. George Macdonald (I mean the religious George, not the irreligious George E.) makes a Scotch character in one of his novels say “A lee is a lee, whether the leear be a leear or no!” I have often been reminded of this; for instance, when I was reading of some old document that undertook to accomplish its purpose (perhaps a very laudable purpose’) by getting its purely fictitious statements believed as facts, and the apologist comes saying “We must not regard this as falsehood, for such fictions were a regular literary custom at that time.” ft appears to me that the lee is a lee, however it may be with the leear. In like manner we may reserve the right to claim that theft is theft even if the thief be not a thief. Our judgment of the actor need not conclusively determine our judgment of the act. But it should not be forgotten that Macdonald’s Kirsty does not make herself responsible for the assertion that the leear is not a leear. We still have this point to settle.

We may rest our terminology on two bases: first, current usage; second, the desirability of a [43] certain use of words as helping the mind to keep apart things that are essentially different and to keep together things that are fundamentally identical.

As to usage, there can be little doubt of its tendency to restrict as narrowly as possible the application of all terms of opprobrium. Probably the men whom Jesus Christ called hypocrites would not in general be called hypocrites by a careful speaker of the present day. If a man who did not intend to commit theft or falsehood is called a thief or a liar, the ordinary presumption is that the man who calls him so is too ignorant of human life to realize even the possibility of such a relation of circumstances, motives, etc., as the actual case embodies. (Of course it may be that the ignoramus has any number of years’ experience from ten to ninety, and that he is especially proud—very probably even boastful—of his knowledge of the world and his insight into human nature. We all know that such things, do not involve the possession of actual wisdom, except in our own case.) From this it follows in turn that, if a man calls the Pharisees of our day “hypocrites,” or calls the traditionalists who cannot see falsehood in anything that supports their cause “liars,” or calls the money-changers and dove-sellers of our day “thieves,” he must expect the more intelligent section of public opinion to set him down as an [44] ignoramus whose words are based on a misconception of facts. This will give us pause if we are prudent.

But prudence is understood to be a virtue, and since the publication of Stirner’s book we are not supposed to care much for virtues. Jesus Christ, whose words I have been quoting, was not prudent. He cared no more whether intelligent public opinion respected him than he did whether it spared his life. He would sooner utter a word that would receive the contempt of thousands, and the indifference of other thousands, and the gaping non-comprehension of thousands more, and enlighten a few, than a word which would receive the respectful attention of all the wise owls and open-mouthed sparrows in Palestine and enlighten nobody at all. Hence his ultimate influence on the course of human life and thought was greater than Gamaliel’s. Those who care more for conveying an idea than for getting a respectful hearing may let his example encourage them to see if anything can be said for the more sweeping use of words.

We can at least eliminate the test which the law has so foolishly established for the responsibility of the criminal insane. Did he know it was wrong)” Ever since history began, conservatives have been officially butchering radicals and radicals have been assassinating conservatives (or, as in [45] Marat’s case, vice versa) in the firm belief that they were serving the holiest of causes; and in no case have the friends of the victims doubted that it was murder, however clear the murderers’ consciences may have been. No good purpose would be served by denying that those who commit such murders are murderers. It would merely encourage them (and others) to regard their, act as something different from murder. The act is essentially identical with any other murder, and it is highly important that everybody should recognize this identity.

And we can at least eliminate the idea that the act becomes different by being the act of many. To be sure, this idea is very current, not only in the well-known case of the soldier, but all the way down through all sorts f organizations and unorganized relations, down to the child who feels that the most vital fact relating to his action is that “all the boys were doing it” and the law of solidarity compelled him to be one of them. (An interesting offshoot is the person who would not hire a man to do a certain thing, but who will, along with the rest of the public, pay a nickel or a quarter for a satisfaction which is procured by somebody’s doing that thing.) But, however current this idea may be, we cannot be wrong in declaring it altogether unsound both philosophically and socially. A man cannot disown his personality [46] and declare his act to be something else than his act. Human actions are done only by individuals. And it is in the highest degree harmful to all progress and helpful to all evil when men feel as if their acts were not their own acts but those of the mass whose bulk gives them effect. Everybody— by all means beginning with the small boy—should be encouraged to feel that even when he acts as part of a mass, he still acts under absolute individual responsibility. Therefore language should assume this.

There remain two points which are probably the likeliest to produce insoluble doubt or irreconcilable disagreement in our inquiry: the point of motive and the point of a man’s consciousness of the nature of his actions. As to the first of these, I for my part am ready to give a decision. We cannot afford to make such classification as these depend on motive. A man’s motives are often inscrutable to the man himself, and are exceedingly apt to be inscrutable to his neighbors. The likeliest thing about them is that they will be so mixed that no classification of the man as acting in a certain way from certain motives will be mare than half correct. And if all motives were clearly known, and were simple enough to fit into a classification, it would still not seem very appropriate to classify men by designations that refer primarily to actions, and [47] then put men into different parts of this classification because they had been led by different motives to do the same thing in the same way. I think, also, that the main part of usage is on this side. If a man murders or steals or lies for the purpose of doing good, it is ordinary to call him a murderer or a thief or a liar unless some other circumstance modifies the judgment. To be sure, a man who steals for fun is not called a thief: but a man who murders for fun is called a murderer, and a man who lies for fun is called a liar, though in this case the word “liar” is regarded as having lost its sting. I think we may fairly say that the refusal to call the jocular thief a thief is an inconsistency which the analogy of the rest of usage condemns.

I wonder, by the way, why the motive of fun is generally allowed as an excuse for almost anything, while other good motives, such as benevolence, are not granted the same indulgence. Is it assumed that the person who commits malicious mischief for fun is so nearly insane that he is entitled to the grace which the law metes out to insane criminals? (Compare Prov. 26: 18-19.) Or is it because fun is so rare a jewel that no scrap of it can on any account be spared? Or is it—this will probably hit the mark—because the spirit of fun is so much the best part of human nature that a man who cannot see fun in a thing [48] done for fun must be set down as a degenerate? At any rate, it is fortunate for stupid people that one can so easily, without any exertion of the brain, have the fun of lying to a man and then laughing at him for having believed you. And the idea that something of the sort is essential to fun seems to be so general that I think it necessary, since I have said that I am not in the habit of lying, to add explicitly that I get a good deal of fun out of life. I am sure some of my readers had been inferring that I didn’t.

But we have now got to the point where the whole issue hinges on the excuse that the man does not know what he is doing. Shall we admit that no man who thinks he is telling the truth is a liar; that no man who thinks he is acting within his rights is a thief; that no man who thinks himself sincere is a hypocrite; and so on?

I find myself disposed to give a mixed answer. As to lying we doubtless agree that when doctors fifteen years ago assured their patients that the contagion of yellow fever was sometimes conveyed by infected clothing, they were not liars. They knew no better, and could not be expected to know better. Now, when that eminent scientist Alfred Russel Wallace writes a book against vaccination and crams it with forged statistics which he has supposed to be reliable because he found them set forth as facts by respectable [49] looking men, shall we judge differently of him He also knew no better; the only difference is that he ought to have known better; he did not exercise due scientific caution in verifying his facts. But if we make the question whether a man is a liar depend on whether he ought to have known better, whether he had exercised due care- before speaking, we are making it depend on a point distinctly harder to ascertain than whether he did not know better; thereby we contribute to confusion in the use of the word; so let us not do it.

As to stealing, we doubtless agree that a man is not a thief if in a Communistic community he helps himself to such goods as he is expected to help himself to. Now, suppose one comes from a region where there is such a measure of Communism in grapes that any man passing by an extensive vineyard is welcome to eat a handful, and goes to Yates county, N. Y., where the penalty against such actions is rather severe and the enforcement rather strict and the grape growers’ opinion in favor of the law and its enforcement rather emphatic, and suppose he helps himself to a bunch of grapes there. It may perhaps be necessary to treat him as a thief; but, if we also call him one, we shall make the quality of thievishness inhere not in the man and his actions but in the way other people feel [50] toward him. Again, we may agree that a man is not a thief if he tries to take possession of money due to him in regular wages, but forcibly and wrongfully withheld from him; nor if he insists on not paying an extortionate and ungrounded charge for alleged wages. Now, if a man has hired another to do some work, and the work has been done, and the price was not named in advance, and the customs and precedents known to the one man do not agree with those known to the other, and the two men are not able to come to terms about the price and each tries to enforce his own claim, and is temporarily successful in doing so, we shall probably call them both foolish, and shall certainly adjudge the money to one of them; but shall we call the other one a thief for what he did in insisting on what he supposed to be his rights) if we did so, the conclusion would be that a little ignorance may be the only difference between a thief and an honest man. Or suppose that Smith has a title to some idle land, and bath Smith and Jones believe the title to valid; that both Smith and Jones believe that in permitting Jones to use this land Smith Is doing Jones a service which should in fairness be paid for; that Jones does pay Smith a rent which both men agree upon as fair; but that Smith’s title is not in fact valid. Shall we call Smith a [51] thief? It would seem exceedingly harsh. Yet if Brown, holding a similar title and knowing that his title is void and that the land is properly free to Jones’s occupancy, takes advantage of Jones’s ignorance to collect the same rent, we shall doubtless call Brown a thief.

Now, see what we come to if we make this distinction between Smith and Brown. We are making a man’s status as a thief depend either on his knowledge of the civil law, or on his readiness to admit that the civil law is not conclusive as to the proper title to land, or on the soundness of his views as to the titles which might properly be recognized on a basis other than the present civil law, or on his being aware of the fact that a certain principle regarding titles to land has been disputed, or on his ability to see both sides of a disputed question, or on some such standard of intelligence. In the various beliefs that he may hold there are all the possible grades of ignorance, forgetfulness, inattention, “moral certainty,” provisional decision, indecision, assurance based on prejudice, and assurance based on evidence. If we say that his being a thief depends on his being aware of the invalidity of his title, we shall find ourselves in a very quagmire of psychological indeterminateness, where our only possible footing will be upon the proposition that in most of the cases where the [52] accused does not confess himself a thief—that is, the cases in which anybody cares to have such a criterion as we are seeking—nobody can know whether he is a thief or not.

The most satisfactory conclusion that I can see is that every man who violates another’s rights of property, especially with mischievous effect, is a thief, even if he thinks he is doing what he has a perfect right to do. Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris neminem excusat, says the brocard: “ignorance of fact is an excuse, ignorance of right is no excuse for anybody.” The man who ate the grapes is excused by ignorance of fact, not knowing the fact of the owner’s unwillingness; but the man who pulls down a child’s wigwam of old fence-boards because its ugliness is an eyesore to him, knowing the fact of the child’s unwillingness but holding that a child’s impromptu hut is not a thing that need be respected, is not excused by his ignorance of right.

I see the unacceptable conclusion that as a man may be ignorantly a thief, and so (if he be innocently ignorant) innocently a thief. But it will be no easy job to keep clear of acknowledging innocent thieves even if we allow ignorance of right to be an excuse; and we should get ourselves into more entanglements than the reader’s patience would bear, before we could [53] determine whether all ignorance of right should be an excuse, or only some, and, if so, what.

Well, I have long wanted tp have an opinion as to when a man is a liar or a thief, and I congratulate myself on having at length acquired one. As Eltzbacher says at the end of his book, the personal want has received some satisfaction. Be it understood, now, that according to me Roosevelt is a thief when he sends his collectors to collect the tariff, but he is not a liar when he says he is not a thief, even though as a Harvard graduate he ought to know better. Whether he is a hypocrite I may perhaps decide hereafter. It is time now to rest.

Steven T. Byington.


Thoughts compelled from out the hidden
Frequently are inexact:
But the thought that comes unbidden
Is the one that fits the fact.

Rabbi Ben Gessing.


That our purity as a people may be advertised as from a White housetop, Mr. George Bernard Shaw proposes that Roosevelt step out of the presidency and let Comstock have the office forever. Mr. Shaw means to be facetious, but this is too serious a matter to be handled as a joke. Who knows that Theodore would not jump into the place Anthony would have to leave vacant, and thus make us sorry we did not let bad enough alone) The change would most certainly be for the worse, as we should learn when the strenuous one got busy. For there can hardly be in the country two men more alike than Comstock and Roosevelt, and, if there is any difference in the degree of likeness, Roosevelt is most like Comstock.


This picture of the land we adore and of the men we elect and distrust is reflected across the intervening wet from the columns of “Reynolds’s Newspaper:”

Although the North American republic is a country in which the sex tie is almost ignored; in which bribery and corruption in every rank is practised; and where there is an enormous amount of crime,—there is still a curious tendency, on every available occasion, [55] among public men, to preach. A distinguished American professor has traced this phenomenon to the still-existing influence of the Pilgrim Fathers. Be that as it may. America is the world’s depot for the manufacture of new religions, and of an almost absolute ignorance of modem biblical criticism. not to say science, except when it impinges upon inventions for commercial purposes.

For the almost ignoring of the sex-tie in America I am content to rely upon Reynolds’s information. I have no criminal knowledge of the facts and no fixed delusions on the subject I go no farther than to accept the generalization o1 Mr. Howells that man is imperfectly monogamous. Just the same, when, in the first State in the Union, within the past six months two sex-tie laws have lapsed into force,—the Grannis-Doane adultery law and the marriage license Jaw,—we somehow do not seem to be getting credit from abroad for the austerities which we profess; and, if virtue were not its own reward, we might well be discouraged. The complaint I have quoted is unexpected, too, seeing that we take our sex-ties from the lord bishop of London as we do our neckties from the prince of Wales. Anyone who has read Professor Giddings’s “Natural History of American Morals” might conclude that our indifference to sex-ties (admitted for the sake, of the illustration), as well as our proneness to preach, is traceable to “the still-existing influence of the Pilgrim Fathers”—from England. [56]

How our sins come back at. us! Only in the last number of Liberty I let fall the remark—with no thought of its going further—that our public men, after a week upon the stage of political affairs, had a curious tendency to preach on Sunday, or to “double in religion” as a versatile artist doubles in brass. The Reynolds person could have done better than to echo a chance observation. Instead of commenting on the preaching of America’s public men, as though it were something unique, he ought to have proposed that some of our statesmen and economists who are addicted to prelection should exchange pulpits or enter into a sermon competition with his own lay sky-pilots, Sir Oliver Lodge, Mr. Birrell, or even George Bernard Shaw.

When the public men of America are thus aspersed, I must move to their defence. Although our immortals (who will be forgotten after the next election) may know nothing about modern biblical criticism, that is not a fault—it is their boast. And while, as alleged, they rarely overlook an economic opportunity, their commercial instinct proves to be their salvation, since it forbids that a single one of them should ever risk a dollar of a vote on the conclusions of the evolutionists or on the investigations and reports of the Higher Critics. Their self-control is so absolute that they will never permit themselves to disturb either the [57] belief or the knowledge of the most credulous and ignorant of their followers. “God save the State” if it ever falls into the hands of any other kind of men!

An ordinance that has been introduced in the New York board of aldermen forbids the proprietors of hotels, restaurants, and other places of entertainment to allow men to smoke in the public rooms, but says nothing against men smoking in such rooms in the presence of the females of their species. As the only way they can make smoking at close range inoffensive to them is to burn a little tobacco themselves, the women who would rather smoke than be smoked can only regard such an ordinance as a denial of the first law of nature, which is self-defence.


The White House geyser gushed freely on December 17, when Boston was celebrating the centennial of Whittier. This is the way it played on the celebrants:

I do not for one moment subscribe to the belief that we can divorce the art of the artist, and especially the art of the man of letters, from character and from the teachings that mould character.

In choosing our poets, therefore, we should exercise no less care than in appointing a United States marshal, and never fix upon one who has been convicted of a crime less serious than bumping [58] off a fellow-man. Full knowledge of a poet’s character must precede judgment of the product of his pen. Unless his reputation is unspotted, we only encourage vice when we admit that his work deserves to be called poetry. His art cannot be segregated from his personal achievements in industry, sobriety, and chastity. By this definition, it will be seen, the “character” you get with a maid-servant from her last employer is poetry.

Some men would have been satisfied to hand an assemblage a raw thought like that and let them chew it, but Mr. Roosevelt passes out a second portion.

It seems to me that all good Americans should feel peculiar pride in Whittier because he combined the power of expression and the great gift of poet with a flaming zeal or righteousness which made him the leader in matters of the spirit no less than of the intellect.

Any other opinion than the one set forth in the first quotation—that a man’s poetry can be only as good as his conduct—we could not look for from the same source, for that is the opinion of the common mind, which our president reflects. It is the expression of that conservatism which denies merit to the “Ballad of Reading Gaol.” But Teddy got in wrong when he went on to say that Whittier had a “zeal for righteousness.” He can’t have been familiar with Whittier’s life and views. Righteousness [59] means two things—the raising of a large family and the keeping in training for a fight; and Whittier was a bachelor and a Quaker. He never married. He held it was better to be comfortable than to be numerous, and he wouldn’t fight. Now, in our endeavors to keep up the population, he that is not for us is against us, and the hand that knocks the cradle isn’t the hand that stocks the world. Roosevelt talks at random and without information when poets are his theme. A while back he subscribed (in words) to the Shelley memorial, implying that deceased was a great poet; and yet when you look at the religion and morals of Shelley, you discern nothing to suggest that ‘he could write poetry for sour apples. His art was never married to such a character as common minds admire. ‘Whittier was disloyal by reason of his aversion to war and a wife, thereby falling short of righteousness in two essentials. And Shelley, the Atheist the near-Anarchist, the rebel against social usages, the man who called war the hired assassin’s trade,—is it likely that he could write poetry fit for any place but the inside of a freight-car? No, sir. As righteousness cannot be separated from the fight and the family, neither can the art of poetry be divorced from Mrs. Grannis.

—– [60]

Censoring fake advertisements has done worse than 10 take the profit out of them for the frauds who put them in the papers. It has a more serious result in depriving the public of the valuable lessons it gets from being taken in. That a bad policy which prevents persons endowed with wits from using them to sharpen the perceptive faculties of their fellow-men. The protection of mankind from the consequences of their folly, observes Mr. Spencer, in effect, is the policy best calculated to cultivate a race of fools. The only fake advertiser that ever parted me from my money is the government itself. I maintain that if the government is going to advertise books by shutting them out of the mails on the ground of indecency, good faith between State and subject demands that it put men on the job whose judgment we can rely upon. Regarding a book suppressed as a menace to public morals, there ought to be no doubt of its being as the censors represent. Here is where cause is given for complaint The censors have a way of finding danger to morals in writings of the kind that instead of making the reader want to do something devilish, only put him to sleep. The prosecution of a book by the government should be a guarantee that it is worth reading; but the man who nowadays proceeds on that theory in selecting his literature has disappointment [61] in store for him. Talk about fake advertisements! None is such a bald fake as the government is guilty of when it advertises a book by prosecuting it, and the book upon examination does not turn out to be as represented. Pretty soon no attention whatever will be paid to the efforts of the post-office to stimulate the sale of books by closing the mails against them. Who is responsible when the public is misled as it is in most cases? I will leave that to be determined by Editor Hapgood, of “Collier’s,” who is the censor of all advertisements. I quit the subject with solemn warning that, if officers of the government are to be allowed a monopoly of deceptive advertising, something must soon be done to restore a wavering confidence in our popular institutions. Let us have a return to the good old times when only books of merit, such as “Leaves of Crass” and “The Kreutzer Sonata,” were attacked, and forever be forgotten these degenerate days when, if we look up a work our censors have turned down, we get nothing better than “Memoirs of My Dead Life” and Three Weeks.


The old year went out with a bank panic, and the new one came in with a big railroad failure. It happened because somebody talked too much with his mouth. And yet the dangerous [62] talkers were supposed to be under the lid. Most is dead. John Turner is turned back. MacQueen is silenced, and Emma Goldman has not said anything indictable for six months. Have we been suppressing the wrong noise? Leaving out the time a Paterson mob grew unruly when MacQueen advised it to avoid violence, all the incendiary speeches of these parties seem to have been wasted. Contrast that total with the busted banks and the wrecked railroad and the business tie-up laid to the other fellows with the open-face disease, and, unless you sidestep very nimbly, you will collide with the inference that the loud-mouthed agitator, who makes a mob stand up and howl, is safer than the salaried political demagogue swaying a whole nation. We have pretty good facilities for controlling the law-breaking element, but how to keep the law-making criminals in check is a problem we shall have to leave as a heritage of tribulation to posterity.


The church holds in high regard the doctrine that the inhabitants of the globe will never be wise enough to order their own spiritual medicine, but must forever have a priest on hand at both ends of life, when they are born and when they die, as also in the middle when they get married. The spectacle of thousands doing fairly well without [63] ghostly advice anywhere along the route is lost upon the Christian world, which thinks, without fear of contradicting itself, that the devil takes care of his own. To that expectation of the church that the individual will never be self-saving we may probably trace the apprehension of the State that he can never be self-governing. Civilization sends missionaries and murderers to depressed peoples, and, when the natives resent insult, robbery, and extermination, civilization pronounces them incompetent to govern themselves. Secretary Taft says the Filipinos will not be ready for self-government for a hundred years. Nothing said about the centuries in the past when they managed to give themselves all the government they thought necessary. Mr. Taft’s verdict is found on evidence that the Filipinos are not in the proper frame of mind for submission to a government they do not want. One who would see a self-governing people should gaze upon us. We govern ourselves to the extent of not kicking off our premises the fellows who govern us in fact. The Filipino might use a club on them, and is therefore not ready for independence. A self-governing people, in the view of the governing class, is one which has so far lost the sense of freedom that it will stand without hitching.

George E. Macdonald.

* I do not mean that he invented the word. It is freely used in the same sense in the “Psalms of Solomon.” a Pharisee book of pre-Christian date. May we suppose that he took a favorite word of the Pharisees’ own and threw it back at them?

** Please understand that I am not speaking ironically of Mr. Wanamaker. So far as I understand the great retailer, he is something like what I have said. I have no faith in that school of human-nature-study which undertakes to explain every character so that ii shall contain no contradictions.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2628 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.