EDITED BY B. O. FLOWER.
PUBLISHED BY THE ARENA PUBLISHING CO., BOSTON, MASS.
The New Columbus JULIAN HAWTHORNE
The Unknown (Part I) CAMILLE FLAMMARION
The Chivalry of the Press JULIUS CHAMBERS
Society's Exiles B. O. FLOWER
Evolution and Christianity PROF. JAS. T. BIXBY, Ph.D.
The Irrigation Problem in the Northwest JAMES REALF, JR.
Revolutionary Measures and Neglected Crimes PROF. JOS. RODES BUCHANAN
Spencer's Doctrine of Inconceivability REV. T. ERNEST ALLEN
The Better Part WILLIAM ALLEN DROMGOOLE
The Heiress of the Ridge NO-NAME PAPER
The Brook P. H. S.
Optimism, Real and False EDITORIAL
The Pessimistic Cast of Modern Thought EDITORIAL
Oliver Wendell Holmes GEORGE STEWART, D.C.L., LL.D.
Plutocracy and Snobbery in New York EDGAR FAWCETT
Should the Nation Own the Railways? C. WOOD DAVIS
The Unknown (Part II) CAMILLE FLAMMARION
The Swiss and American Constitutions W. D. MCCRACKAN
The Tyranny of All the People REV. FRANCIS BELLAMY
Revolutionary Measures and Neglected Crimes, (Part 2d) PROF. JOS. RODES BUCHANAN
AEonian Punishment REV. W. E. MANLEY, D.D.
The Negro Question PROF. W. S. SCARBOROUGH
A Prairie Heroine HAMLIN GARLAND
An Epoch-Marking Drama EDITORIAL
The Present Revolution in Theological Thought EDITORIAL
The Conflict Between Ancient and Modern Thought in the Presbyterian Church EDITORIAL
The Unity of Germany MME. BLAZE DEBURY
Should the Nation Own the Railways? C. WOOD DAVIS
Where Must Lasting Progress Begin? ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
My Home Life AMELIA B. EDWARDS
The Tyranny of Nationalism REV. MINOT J. SAVAGE
Individuality in Education PROF. MARY L. DICKINSON
The Working-Women of To-day HELEN CAMPBELL
The Independent Party and Money at Cost R. B. HASSELL
Psychic Experiences SARA A. UNDERWOOD
A Decade of Retrogression FLORENCE KELLEY WISCHNEWETZKY
Old Hickory's Ball WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE
The Era of Woman EDITORIAL
The Newer Heresies REV. GEO. C. LORIMER, D.D.
Harvest and Laborers in the Psychical Field FREDERIC W. H. MYERS
Fashion's Slaves B. O. FLOWER
Un-American Tendencies REV. CARLOS D. MARTYN, D.D.
Extrinsic Significance of Constitutional Government in Japan KUMA OISHI, A.M.
University Extension PROF. WILLIS BOUGHTON
Pope Leo on Labor THOMAS B. PRESTON
The Austrian Postal Banking System SYLVESTER BAXTER
Another View of Newman WILLIAM M. SALTER
Inter-Migration Rabbi SOLOMON SCHINDLER
He Came and Went Again W. N. HARBEN
O Thou Who Sighest for a Broader Field JULIA ANNA WOLCOTT
An Evening at the Corner Grocery HAMLIN GARLAND
James Russell Lowell GEORGE STEWART, D.C.L., LL.D.
Healing Through the Mind HENRY WOOD
Mr. and Mrs. James A. Herne HAMLIN GARLAND
Some Weak Spots in the French Republic THEODORE STANTON
Leaderless Mobs H. C. BRADSBY
Madame Blavatsky at Adyar MONCURE D. CONWAY
Emancipation by Nationalism THADDEUS B. WAKEMAN
Recollections of Old Play-Bills CHARLES H. PATTEE
The Microscope DR. FREDERICK GAERTNER
A Grain of Gold WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE
Religious Intolerance To-day EDITORIAL
Social Conditions Under Louis XV EDITORIAL
Pharisaism in Public Life EDITORIAL
Cancer Spots in Metropolitan Life EDITORIAL
The Saloon EDITORIAL
Hot-beds of Social Pollution EDITORIAL
The Power and Responsibility of the Christian Ministry EDITORIAL
What the Clergy Might Accomplish EDITORIAL
B. O. Flower
Out of Work
Invalid in Chair
Cellarway Leading to Under-Ground Apartments
Sick Man in Under-Ground Apartment
Constance and Maggie
Exterior of a North End Tenement House
Under-Ground Tenement with Two Beds
Widow and two Children in Under-Ground Tenement
Portuguese Widow in Attic
Portuguese Widow and Three Children
The Victoria Square Apartment House, Liverpool, Eng.
Rev. T. Ernest Allen
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Amelia B. Edwards
Rev. Geo. C. Lorimer
Illustrations of "Fashion's Slaves"
Prominent Actresses in Costume
James Russell Lowell
Mr. and Mrs. James A. Herne
Mr. and Mrs. James A. Herne Illustrated in Character
Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge
Noted Members of the South Dakota Divorce Colony
THE NEW COLUMBUS.
BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE.
History repeats itself, but on new planes. Often, a symbol appears in one age, and the spirit of which it is the expression is revealed in another. Each answers the need of its own time. From the creative standpoint, which is out of time, spirit and symbol are one; but to us, who see things successively, they seem as prior and posterior.
If this be so, it should be possible for a thoughtful and believing mind in some measure to forecast the future from the record of the past. No doubt, past and present contain the germs of all that is to be, were the analyst omniscient. But it needs not omniscience roughly to body-forth the contours of coming events. It is done daily, on a smaller or larger scale, with more or less plausibility. All theories are grounded in this principle. And it is noticeable that, at this moment, such tentative prophesies are more than frequent, and more comprehensive than usual in their scope.
The condition of mankind, during the last quarter of the fifteenth century, bore some curious analogies to its state at present. A certain stage or epoch of human life seemed to have run its course and come to a stop. The impulses which had started it were exhausted. In the political field, feudalism, originally beneficent, had become tyrannous and stifling; and monarchy, at first an austere necessity, had grown to be, beyond measure, arrogant, selfish, and luxurious. In science, the old methods had proved themselves puerile and inefficient, and the leading scientists were magicians and witches; in literature, no poet had arisen worthy to strike the lyre that Chaucer tuned to music. As for religion, the corruptions of the papacy, and the corresponding degradation of the monasteries and of the priesthood generally, had brought it down from a region of sublime and self-abnegating faith, to a commodity for raising money, and a cloak to hide profligacy. Martin Luther was still in the womb of the future; and so were Shakespeare, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, and Oliver Cromwell. Pessimists were declaring, according to their invariable custom, that what was bad would get worse, and that what was good would disappear. But there were, scattered here and there throughout Christendom, a number of men of the profounder, optimistic tendency, who saw in existing abuses but the misuse or misapprehension of elements intrinsically good; who knew that evils bear in themselves the seeds of their own extirpation; and who believed that Providence, far from having failed in its design to secure the ultimate happiness of the human race, was bringing the old order of things to a close in order to provide place for something new and higher.
But that obstacle in the way of improvement which was apparently the most immovable, was the geographical one. The habitable earth was used up. Outside of Europe there was nothing, save inaccessible wilderness, and barren, boundless seas. There was nothing for the mass of men to do, and yet their energy and desire were as great as ever; there was nowhere for them to go, and yet they were steadily increasing in numbers. The Crusades had amused them for a while, but they were done with; the plague had thinned them out, and war had helped the plague; but the birth-rate was more than a match for both. A new planet, with all the fresh interests and possibilities which that would involve, seemed absolutely necessary. But who should erect a ladder to the stars, or draw them down from the sky within man's reach? The one indispensable thing was also the one thing impossible.
If, next year, we were to learn that some miraculous Ericsson or Edison had established a practicable route to the planet Mars, and that this neighbor of ours in the solar system was found to be replete with all the things that we most want and can least easily get,—were such news to reach us, we might comprehend the sensation created in the Europe of 1492, four centuries ago, when it received the information that a certain Christopher Columbus had discovered a brand new continent, overflowing with gold and jewels, on the other side of the Atlantic. The impossible had happened. Our globe was not the petty sphere that it had been assumed to be. There was room in it for everybody, and a fortune for the picking up. And all the world, with Spain in the van, prepared to move on El Dorado. A whiff of the fresh Western air blew in all nostrils, and re-animated the moribund body of civilization. The stimulus of Columbus' achievement was felt in every condition of human life and phase of human activity. Mankind once more saw a future, and bound up its loins to take advantage of it. Literature felt the electric touch, and blossomed in the unmatched geniuses of the Elizabethan age. Science ceased to reason a priori, and began to investigate and classify facts. Human liberty began to be conscious of thews and sinews, soon to be tested in the struggle of the Netherlands against Philip II. of Spain, and, later, in that of the people of England against their own Charles Stuart. Religion was heard to mutter something about the rights of private conscience, and anon the muttering took form in the heroic protest of the man of Eisleben. It was like the awakening in the palace of the Sleeping Beauty, in the fairy-tale. Columbus had kissed the lips of the Princess America, and at once the long-pent stream of old-world life dashed onward like a cataract.
A new world! Four hundred years have passed, and the New World is less a novelty than it was. We have begun to suspect that no given number of square miles of land, no eloquence and sagacity of paper preambles and declarations, no swiftness of travel nor instantaneousness of communication, no invincibility of ironclads nor refinement of society, no logic in religion, no gospel of political economy,—none of these and a hundred other things will read us the Riddle of the Sphinx. Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis! The elements of true life lie deeper and are simpler. Once more, it seems, we have reached the limits of a dispensation, and are halted by a blank wall. There is no visible way over it, nor around it. We cannot stand still; still less can we turn back. What is to happen? What happens when an irresistible force encounters an impenetrable barrier?
That was the question asked in Columbus' day; and he found an answer to it. Are we to expect the appearance of a new Columbus to answer it again? To unimaginative minds it looks as if there were no career for a new Columbus. In the first place, population is increasing so fast that soon even the steppes of Russia and the western American plains will be overcrowded. Again, land, and the control of industries, are falling into the possession of a comparative handful of persons, to whom the rest of the population must inevitably become subject; or, should the latter rebel, the ensuing period of chaos would be followed, at best, by a return of the old conditions. Religion is a lifeless letter, a school of good-breeding, a philosophical amusement; the old unreasoning faith that moved mountains can never revive. Science advances with ever more and yet more caution, but each new step only confirms the conviction that the really commanding secrets of existence will forever elude discovery. Literature, rendered uncreative by the scientific influence, has fallen to refining upon itself, and photographing a narrow conception of facts. The exhausting heats of Equatorial Africa, and the paralyzing cold of the Poles, forbid the hope of successful colonization of those regions. Social life is an elaborate apeing of behavior which has no root in the real impulses of the human heart; its true underlying spirit is made up of hatred, covetousness, and self-indulgence. There are no illusions left to us, no high, inspiring sentiment. We have reached our limit, and the best thing to be hoped for now is some vast cataclysmal event, which, by destroying us out-of-hand, may save us the slow misery of extinction by disease, despair, and the enmity of every man against every other. What Columbus can help us out of such a predicament?
Such is the refrain of the nineteenth century pessimist. But, as before, the sprouting of new thought and belief is visible to the attentive eye all over the surface of the sordid field of a decaying civilization. The time has come when the spirit of Columbus' symbol shall avouch itself, vindicating the patient purpose of Him who brings the flower from the seed. Great discoveries come when they are needed; never too early nor too late. When nothing else will serve the turn, then, and not till then, the rock opens, and the spring gushes forth. Who that has considered the philosophy of the infinitely great and of the infinitely minute can doubt the inexhaustibleness of nature? And what is nature but the characteristic echo, in sense, of the spirit of man?
Even on the material plane, there are numberless opportunities for the new Columbus. Ever and anon a canard appears in a newspaper, or a romance is published, reporting or describing some imaginary invention which is to revolutionize the economical situation. The problem of air-navigation is among the more familiar of these suggestions, though by no means the most important of them. No doubt we shall fly before long, but that mode of travel will be, after all, nothing more than an improvement upon existing means of intercommunication. After the principle has been generally adopted, and the novelty has worn off, we shall find ourselves not much better, nor much worse off than we were before. Flying will be but another illustration of the truth that competition is only intensified by the perfecting of its instruments. Men will still be poor and rich, happy and unhappy, as formerly. If I can go from New York to London in a day, instead of in a week, so also can those against whom I am competing. The idea that there is any real gain of time is an illusion; the day will still contain its four-and-twenty hours, and I shall, as before, sleep so many, play so many, and work so many. Relatively, my state will be unchanged.
More promising is the idea of the transformation of matter. Science is now nearly ready to affirm that substances of all kinds are specific conditions of etheric vortices. Vibration is the law of existence, and if we could control vibrations, we could create substances, either directly from the etheric base, or, mediately, by inducing the atoms of any given substance so to modify their mutual arrangement, or characteristic vibration, as to produce another substance. It is evident that if this feat is ever performed, it must be by some process of elemental simplicity, readily available for every tyro. A prophet has arisen, during these latter days, in Philadelphia, who somewhat obscurely professes to be on the track of this discovery. He is commonly regarded as a charlatan; but men cognizant of the latest advances of science admit themselves unable to explain upon any known principles the effects he produces. It need not be pointed out that if Mr. Keely, or any one else, has found a way to metamorphose one substance into another, the consequences to the world must be profound. Labor for one's daily bread will be a thing of the past, when bread may be made out of stones by the mere setting-up of a particular vibration. The race for wealth will cease, when every one is equally able to command all the resources of the globe. The whole point of view regarding the material aspects of life will be vitally altered; leisure (so far as necessary physical effort is concerned) will inevitably be universal. For when we consider what have been the true motives of civilization and its appurtenances during the greater part of the historical period, we find it to be the desire to better our physical condition. It is commerce that has built cities, made railroads, laws, and wars, maintained the boundaries of nations, and kept up the human contact which we are accustomed to call society. When commerce ceases—as it will cease, when there is no longer any reason for its existence—all the results of it that we have mentioned will cease also. In other words, civilization and society, as we now know them, will disappear. Human beings will stay where they are born, and live as the birds do. There will be no work except creative or artistic work, done for the mere pleasure of the doing, voluntarily. Society will no longer be based upon mutual rivalries and the gain of personal advantage. Science will not be pursued on its present lines, or for its present ends; for when the human race has attained leisure and the gratification of its material wants, it would have no motives for further merely physical investigation.
This would seem to involve a new kind of barbarism. And so, no doubt, it would, were the discoveries of our Columbus to be limited to the material plane. But it is far more probable that material transubstantiation will be merely the corollary or accompaniment of an infinitely more important revelation and expansion in the spiritual sphere. What we are to expect is an awakening of the soul; the re-discovery and re-habilitation of the genuine and indestructible religious instinct. Such a religious revival will be something very different from what we have hitherto known under that name. It will be a spontaneous and joyful realization by the soul of its vital relations with its Creator. Ecclesiastical forms and dogmas will vanish, and nature will be recognized as a language whereby God converses with man. The interpretation of this language, based as it is upon an eternal and living symbolism, containing infinite depths beyond depths of meaning, will be a sufficient study and employment for mankind forever. Art will receive an inconceivable stimulus, from the recognition of its true significance as a re-humanization of nature, and from the perception of its scope and possibilities. Science will become, in truth, the handmaid of religion, in that it will be devoted to reporting the physical analogies of spiritual truths, and following them out in their subtler details. Hitherto, the progress of science has been slow, and subject to constant error and revision, because it would not accept the inevitable dependence of body on soul, as of effect on cause. But as soon as physical research begins to go hand-in-hand with moral or psychical, it will advance with a rapidity hitherto unimagined, each assisting and classifying the other. The study of human nature will give direction to the study of the nature that is not human; and the latter will illustrate and confirm the conclusions of the former. More than half the difficulties of science as now practised is due to ignorance of what to look for; but when it can refer at each step to the truths of the mind and heart, this obstacle will disappear, and certainty take the place of experiment.
The attitude of men towards one another will undergo a corresponding change. It is already become evident that selfishness is a colossal failure. Viewed as to its logical results, it requires that each individual should possess all things and all power. Hostile collision thus becomes inevitable, and more is lost by it than can ever be gained. Recent social theorists propose a universal co-operation, to save the waste of personal competition. But competition is a wholesome and vital law; it is only the direction of it that requires alteration. When the cessation of working for one's livelihood takes place, human energy and love of production will not cease with it, but will persist, and must find their channels. But competition to outdo each in the service of all is free from collisions, and its range is limitless. Not to support life, but to make life more lovely, will be the effort; and not to make it more lovely for one's self, but for one's neighbor. Nor is this all. The love of the neighbor will be a true act of Divine worship, since it will then be acknowledged that mankind, though multiplied to human sense, is in essence one; and that in that universal one, which can have no self-consciousness, God is present or incarnate. The divine humanity is the only real and possible object of mortal adoration, and no genuine sentiment of human brotherhood is conceivable apart from its recognition. But, with it, the stature of our common manhood will grow towards the celestial.
Obviously, with thoughts and pursuits of this calibre to engage our attention, we shall be very far from regretting those which harass and enslave us to-day. Leaving out of account the extension of psychical faculties, which will enable the antipodes to commune together at will, and even give us the means of conversing with the inhabitants of other planets, and which will so simplify and deepen language that audible speech, other than the musical sounds indicative of emotion, will be regarded as a comic and clumsy archaism,—apart from all this, the fathomless riches of wisdom to be gathered from the commonest daily objects and outwardly most trivial occurrences, will put an end to all craving for merely physical change of place and excitement. Gradually the human race will become stationary, each family occupying its own place, and living in patriarchal simplicity, though endowed with power and wisdom that we should now consider god-like. The sons and daughters will go forth whither youthful love calls them; but, with the perfecting of society, those whose spiritual sympathies are closest will never be spatially remote; lovers will not then, as now, seek one another in the ends of the earth, and probably miss one another after all. Each member of the great community will spontaneously enlist himself in the service of that use which he is best qualified to promote; and, as in the human body, all the various parts, in fulfilling their function, will serve one another and the whole.
Perhaps the most legitimately interesting phase of this speculation relates to the future of these qualities and instincts in human nature which we now call evil and vicious. Since these qualities are innate, they can never be eradicated, nor even modified in intensity or activity. They belong with us, nay, they are all there is of us, and with their disappearance, we ourselves should disappear. Are we, then, to be wicked forever? Hardly so; but, on the contrary, what we have known as wickedness will show itself to be the only possible basis and energy of goodness. These tremendous appetites and passions of ours were not given us to be extinguished, but to be applied aright.
They are like fire, which is the chief of destroyers when it escapes bounds, or is misused; but, in its right place and function, is among the most indispensable of blessings. But to enlarge upon this thought would carry us too far from the immediate topic; nor is it desirable to follow with the feeble flight of our imagination the heaven-embracing orbit of this theme. A hint is all that can be given, which each must follow out for himself. We have only attempted to indicate what regions await the genius of the new Columbus; nor does the conjecture seem too bold that perhaps they are not so distant from us in time as they appear to be in quality. They are with us now, if we would but know it.
BY CAMILLE FLAMMARION.
Translated from the author's manuscript, by G. A. H. Meyer and J. H. Wiggin.
Croire tout decouvert est une erreur profonde: C'est prendre l'horizon pour les bornes du monde.
(To fancy all known is an error profound,— The sky-line mistaking for earth's utmost bound.)
The idea expressed in this distich is so self-evident that we might almost characterize it as trite. Yet the history of every science marks many eminent men, of superior intelligence, who have been arrested in the way of progress by a wholly contrary opinion, and have very innocently supposed that science had uttered to them her last word. In astronomy, in physics, in chemistry, in optics, in natural history, in physiology, in anatomy, in medicine, in botany, in geology, in all branches of human knowledge, it would be easy to fill several pages with the names of celebrated men who believed science would never pass the limits reached in their own time, and that nothing remained to be discovered thereafter. In the army of wise men now living it would not be difficult to name many distinguished scholars who imagine that, in the spheres whereof they are masters, it is needless to search for anything new.
It may be unbecoming to talk about one's self, but as, on the one side, some have done me the honor to ask what I think of certain problems,—while, on the other side, I have been more than once accused of busying myself, in a rather unscientific way, with certain vague investigations,—I will begin by acknowledging that the maxim contained in the two verses of my motto has been the conviction of my whole life; and if, from my callow youth until this very day, I have been interested in the study of phenomena pertaining to the domain of inquiries called occult, such as magnetism, spiritualism, hypnotism, telepathy, ghost-seeing, it is because I believe we know next to nothing of what may be known, and that nearly everything still remains to be apprehended; for I believe the thirst for knowledge is one of our best faculties, the one most prolific, without which we should still be dwelling in an Age of Stone, inasmuch as it is our right, if not our duty, to seek the truth by all the methods accessible to our intellectual powers.
It is for this reason that I published among other things, in the course of the year 1865,—now a quarter-century past,—a treatise entitled Unknown Natural Forces, and touching certain questions analogous to those which are to occupy our attention in this paper; and so I ask my readers to note the following quotations therefrom, as an introduction to our present investigation:
It is foolish to suppose that all things are known to us.
True wisdom involves continual study.
In the month of June, 1776, a young man, the Marquis de Jouffroy, was experimenting upon the Doubs, with a steamboat forty feet long by six feet wide. For two years he had been inviting scientific attention to his invention; for two years he had insisted that steam was a powerful force, heretofore unappreciated. All ears remained deaf to his voice. Complete isolation was his sole recompense. When he walked through the streets of Beaume-les-Dames, a thousand jests greeted his appearance. They nicknamed him Jouffroy the Pump. Ten years later, having constructed a pyroscaphe [steamboat] which voyaged along the Saone, from Lyons to Isle Barbe, Jouffroy presented a petition to Cabinet Minister Calonne and to the Academy of Sciences. They refused even to look at his invention.
 The Doubs is a stream after which one of the Eastern Departments of France is named. Its principal city is Besancon, the birthplace of Victor Hugo.
On August 9, 1803, Robert Fulton, the American, ascended the Seine in a novel steamboat, at a speed of six kilometers per hour. The Academy of Sciences and the government officials witnessed the experiment. On the tenth they had forgotten him, and Fulton departed to try his fortunes with his own countrymen.
In 1791 an Italian, named Galvani, suspended from the bars of his window at Bologna some flayed frogs, which he that morning had seen in motion on a table, although they had been killed the night before. This incident seemed incredible, and was unanimously rejected by those to whom he related it. Learned men would have considered it below their dignity to take any pains to verify his story, so sure were they of its impossibility. Galvani, however, had noticed that the maximum effect was produced when a metallic arc, of tin and copper, was brought into contact with the lumbar nerves and pedal extremities of a frog. Then the animal would be violently convulsed. The observer believed this came from a nervous fluid, and so he lost the advantage of his observations. It was reserved for Volta to really discover electricity.
Yet already Europe is furrowed by wagons drawn by flame-mouthed dragons. Distances have vanished before the patience of the humble workers of the world, which is reduced to pettiness by the genius of man. The longest journeys have become well-trodden promenades; the most gigantic tasks are accomplished under the potential and tireless hand of this unseen force; a telegraphic despatch flies, in the twinkling of an eye, from one continent to the other; without leaving our armchairs, we converse with the inhabitants of London and Saint Petersburg; yet these miracles pass unnoticed. We do not dream to what struggles, to what mortifications, to what persecutions, these wonders are due; and we do not reflect that the impossible of yesterday has become the actual of to-day.
There are men who call to us: "Halt, ye small scientists! We do not understand you! Consequently, you cannot yourselves comprehend what you are talking about!" We may reply: However narrow your judgment, your myopia does not afflict all mankind. It must be declared to you, gentlemen, that in spite of yourselves, despite your ravings, the chariot of human knowledge advances further than ever before, and will continue its triumphal march towards the conquest of new powers.
Like the spasms of Galvani's frog, certain crude facts, about which you are skeptical, reveal the existence of natural forces as yet unknown. There is no effect without a cause. The human being is the least known of all beings within our ken. We have learned how to measure the sun, to traverse celestial distances, to analyze starlight; yet we are ignorant as to what we ourselves are. Man is a double being, homo duplex; and this double nature remains a mystery to himself. We think; but what is thought? Nobody can say. We walk; but what is this organic action? Nobody knows. My will is an immaterial force; all the faculties of my soul are immaterial; nevertheless, if I will to raise my arm, this volition overcomes matter. How does this power act? What mediation serves for the conveyance of the mental command, in order to produce a physical effect? As yet no one can answer.
Tell me how the optic nerve transmits to our mentality a vision of external objects! Tell me how thought conceives and where it resides, and of what nature is cerebral activity! Tell me...! But no! I could question you for ten years, without the greatest among you being able to solve the least of my riddles.
In this, as in the cases before adduced, we have the unknown for our problem. I am far from saying that the force brought into play in these phenomena can some day be employed like electricity or steam. Such a notion would be neither more nor less than absurd! Nevertheless, though differing essentially from those, occult force is not the less real.
Several years ago I designated this unknown force by the title psychical. This designation may well be retained.
Can we not find the happy medium between absolute negation and dangerous credulity? Is it reasonable either to deny everything we do not comprehend, or to accept all the fantasies engendered in the vortex of disordered imaginations? Can we not achieve at the same time the humility which becomes the weak and the dignity which befits the strong?
I conclude this statement as I began it, by declaring that it is not in favor of the Davenport Brothers that I plead; nor do I take up the gauntlet for any sect, for any group of people, or for any person whatsoever; but I contend in behalf of certain facts, of whose validity I was convinced years ago, though without understanding their cause.
I beg the reader to excuse the length of this citation; but it seems to me to serve so naturally as an introduction to this present inquiry that even to-day, after a lapse of a quarter-century, I really see no important changes to be made in this old declaration, except to add that it now appears to me to have been rather audacious on the part of a man so very young, and that it forthwith won him many hearty enemies among the elect of science.
The experimental method is bound to conquer here, as everywhere. Let us, then, without partisanship, study the question under its divers aspects.
"The immortality of the soul is a matter so important," writes Pascal, "that one must have lost all moral sensibility if he remains indifferent as to its nature."
Why should we give up the hope of ever arriving at a knowledge of the nature of the thinking principle which animates us, and of ascertaining whether or not it outlives the destruction of the body? It must be admitted that hitherto science has taught us nothing on this fundamental subject. Is this any reason for renouncing the study of the problem? On this, as on many other points, we are not of the same mind as those material Positivists who declare themselves satisfied with not knowing anything. We think, on the contrary, that we should attack the problem by all methods, and not neglect a single hint which may aid the solution.
Personally, I declare that I have not yet discovered for myself one fact which proves with certainty the existence of soul as separate from body. Otherwise, however sublime astronomical science may be,—though it stand at the head of human researches, as the first, the most important, and the most widespread of all sciences,—I avow that, if the inductive method had permitted me to penetrate secrets of existence, I should inevitably have abandoned the science of the firmament, for that which would have dethroned the other through its prime and unequalled importance; since it would be superfluous for us to evade the fact that the gravest and most interesting of all questions, to ourselves, is that of our continuous personal existence. The existence of God, of the entire universe, touches us far less intimately. If we ever cease to live (for what is the span of a human life in the light of eternity!) it is a matter of utter indifference to us whether other things exist or not. Doubtless this reasoning is severely egotistic! Ah, how can it be otherwise?
If we have no clear and irrefutable proofs, we have still the aid of a goodly number of observations, establishing the conclusion that we are compassed about by a set of phenomena, and by powers differing from the physical order commonly observed day by day; and these phenomena urge us to pursue every line of investigation, having for its end a psychical acquaintance with human nature.
Let us begin at the beginning, with a recital of observations which, from their very nature, have the disadvantage of being very personal.
At the age of sixteen, on my way home one day from the Paris Observatory, I noticed, on the bookseller's stand in the Galeries de l'Odeon, a green-covered volume entitled Le Livre des Esprits (Book of Spirits), by Allan-Kardec. I bought it, and read it through at a sitting. There was in it something unexpected, original, curious. Were they true, the phenomena therein recounted? Did they solve the great problem of futurity, as the author contended? In my anxiety to ascertain this I made the acquaintance of the high-priest, for Allan-Kardec had made of Spiritism a veritable religion. I assisted at the seances. I experimented and became myself a medium. In one of Allan-Kardec's works, called Genesis, over the signature of Galilee, may be read a whole chapter on Cosmogony, which I wrote in a mediumistic condition.
I was at that time connected with the principal circles in Paris where these experiments were tried, and for two years I even filled the exacting position of secretary to one of these circles, an office which morally bound me not to be absent from a single seance.
Communications were received in three different ways: by writing with our own hands; by placing our hands upon planchette, in which a pencil was placed which did the writing; by raps beneath the table, or by movements which indicated certain letters, when the alphabet was repeated aloud by one of the sitters.
The first method was the only one in use in the Society for Spiritualist Study presided over by Allan-Kardec; but it is the method leaving the widest margin for doubt. Indeed, at the end of several years of experimenting in this fashion, the result was that I became skeptical even of myself, and for the reasons following.
It cannot be denied that, under mediumistic conditions, one does not write in his usual fashion. In the normal state, when we wish to write a sentence, we mentally construct that sentence—if not the whole of it, at least a part of it—before writing the words. The pen and hand obey the creative thought. It is not so when one writes mediumistically. One rests one's hand, motionless but docile, on a sheet of paper, and then waits. After a little while the hand begins to move, and to form letters, words, and phrases. One does not create these sentences, as in the normal state, but waits for them to produce themselves. Yet the mind is nevertheless associated therewith. The subject treated is in unison with one's ordinary ideas. The written language is one's own. If one is deficient in orthography, the composition will betray this fault. Moreover, the mind is so intimately connected with what is written, that if it ponders something else, if the thoughts are allowed to wander from the immediate subject, then the hand will pause, or trace incoherent signs.
Such is the state of the writing-medium,—at least, so far as I have observed it in myself. It is a sort of auto-suggestive state. We are assured there are mediums who write so mechanically that they know not what they are writing, and record theses in strange tongues, on subjects concerning which they are ignorant; but this I have never been able to verify with any certainty.
A few years previous to my commencement of these studies, my illustrious friend Victorien Sardou had undergone similar experiences. As a medium he wrote descriptions of divers planets in our system, principally of Jupiter, and drew very odd pictures, representing the habitations of that planet. One of these pictures depicted the house of Mozart, while others represented the dwellings of Zoroaster and of Bernard Palissy, who seemed to be country neighbors in that immense planet. These habitations appeared to be aerial and of marvellous lightness. The first of them, Mozart's, was essentially formed of musical instruments and indications, such as the staff, notes, and clefs. The second was principally bucolic. There were to be seen flowers, hammocks, swings, flying men; while underneath were intelligent animals, engaged in playing a novel game of tenpins, in which the sport did not lie in bowling the pins over, but in crowning their heads, as in the childish game of cup-and-ball. I reproduced this last design in the work entitled, Les Terres du Ciel (Heavenly Globes), page 180.
These curious drawings prove, beyond a peradventure, that the signature, Bernard Palissy in Jupiter, is apocryphal, and that it was not a spirit inhabitant of Jupiter who guided Victorien Sardou's hand. Neither did the gifted author conceive these sketches beforehand, and execute them in pursuance of a deliberate purpose; but at that time he found himself in a mental condition similar to that above described. We may neither be magnetized nor hypnotized, nor put to sleep in any fashion, and yet the brain may remain alien to our mechanical productions. Its cells are functionally agitated, and doubtless act by a reflex impulsion on the motor nerves. We all then believed that Jupiter was inhabited by a superior race. These communications were the reflections of opinions generally held. In these days, however, nobody imagines anything of the kind about Jupiter. Moreover, spirit seances have never taught us the least thing in astronomy. Such manifestations in nowise prove the intervention of spirits. Have writing-mediums given us other proofs, more convincing? This question we will examine later.
The second method, planchette, is more independent. This little wooden writer became the fashion chiefly through Madame de Girardin. Its communications soothed her last days, and prepared her for a death fragrant with hope. She believed she was in communication with the spirits of Sappho, Shakespeare, Madame de Sevigne, and Moliere; and amidst these convictions she died, without disquietude, without rebellion, without regret. She had introduced a taste for such experiments into the home of Victor Hugo, in Jersey. Nine years later, Auguste Vacquerie, in Les Miettes de l'Histoire (Crumbs of History), wrote as follows:
Madame de Girardin's departure [from Jersey] did not abate my desire for experimenting with the tables. I pressed eagerly forward into this great marvel,—the half-opened door of death.
No longer did I wait for the evening. At midday I began my investigations, and forsook them only with the dawn. If I interrupted myself at all during that time, it was only to dine. Personally I had no effect upon the table, and did not touch it; but I asked questions. The mode of communication was always the same, and I had accustomed myself to it. Madame de Girardin sent me two tablets from Paris,—a little tablet, one of whose legs was a pencil, for writing and drawing. A few trials proved that this tablet designed poorly and wrote badly. The other was larger, and consisted of a disk, or dial, whereon was inscribed the alphabet, the letters being designated by a movable pointer. This apparatus also was rejected after an unsuccessful trial, and I finally resumed the primitive process, which—simplified by familiarity and sundry convenient abbreviations—soon afforded all desirable rapidity. I talked fluently with the table, the murmur of the sea mingling with our conversation, whose mysteriousness was increased by the winter, at night, amidst storms, and through isolation. The table no longer responded by a few words merely, but by sentences and pages. It was usually grave and magisterial, but at times it would be witty and even comical. Sometimes it had an access of choler. More than once I was insolently reproved for speaking to it irreverently, and I confess to not feeling at ease until I had obtained forgiveness. The table made certain exactions. It chose the interlocutors it preferred. It wished sometimes to be questioned in verse, and was obeyed; and then it would answer in verse. All these dialogues were collected, not at the close of the seance, but at the moment, and under the dictation of the table. They will some day be published, and will propound an imperious problem to all intelligent minds thirsting for new truths.
If now asked for my explanation of all this, I hesitate to reply. I should not have hesitated in Jersey. I should have unhesitatingly affirmed the presence of spirits. It is not the opinion of Paris which now retards me. I know what respect is due to the opinion of the Paris of to-day, of that Paris so wise, so practical, and so positive, which believes in nothing but dancing skirts and brokers' bulletins; but the capital's shrugging shoulders would not compel me to lower my voice. I am even happy to say, in the face of Paris, that as to the existence of what are called spirits, I have no doubts. I have never had that fatuous vanity as to our race, which declares that the ascending ladder of being ends with man. I am persuaded that we have at least as many rounds above us as there are beneath our feet, and I believe as firmly in spirits above as I do in donkeys beneath. The existence of spirits once admitted, their intervention becomes merely a question of details. Why could they not communicate with man by some means, and why may not that means be a table? Because immaterial beings cannot move a table? But who can say these beings are immaterial? They also may have bodies, but more subtile than ours,—bodies as imperceptible to our sight, as light is to our touch. It is fairly presumable that there are transitional states between the human condition and the immaterial. Death comes after life, as man supersedes the animal. The inferior animals are men, with less soul. Man is an animal with more equipoise and self-direction. Death brings a condition of less materiality, but still with some matter left. I know therefore no reasonable argument against the reality of the table phenomena.
Nine years, however, have passed away since all this occurred. I gave up my daily interviews after a few months, for the sake of a friend whose insufficient mind could not bear these breaths from the unknown. I have never reperused the sheets whereon sleep the words which moved me so profoundly. I am no longer in Jersey, upon that rock lost among the waves, where the exile was torn from his native soil, away from life. Myself a living corpse, it did not astonish me to encounter the dead alive; and so little is certainty natural to man, that one may doubt even the things he has seen with his eyes and touched with his hands.
Finally, Victor Hugo, who assisted at these experiments, has said: "The moving and speaking table has been greatly ridiculed. Let us speak plainly! This ridicule is misplaced. It is the bounden duty of science to sound the depths of all phenomena. To ignore spiritualistic phenomena, to leave them bankrupt by inattention, is to make a bankrupt of truth itself." (Les Genies [The Geniuses]: Shakespeare.)
It is table movements which are here spoken of, dictations by tipping or rapping; that is to say, by the third method heretofore referred to. This method has always appeared to be the most independent. In placing our fingers on a planchette, armed with a pencil, and in aiding its motions, we are brought into direct personal association with the results. We may be under the illusion that an outside spirit is guiding the hand, when we are unintentionally controlling it ourselves. We put questions relating to subjects which specially interest us. Passively we write things which we already know more or less about, and unconsciously inspire ourselves with the name of the personage invoked. Far more reliable are the answers given by a table.
Several persons place themselves around a table, their hands resting thereupon and await results. After a given time, if the required conditions for the production of the phenomena have been complied with, raps are heard, apparently within the table, and there are certain motions of the furniture. Sometimes the table tips on one or two legs, and slowly oscillates. Sometimes it rises entirely from the floor, and remains suspended, as if adhering to the palms lying upon it; and this lasts during ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Sometimes the table fastens itself to the floor with such tenacity that its weight seems to be doubled or tripled. At other times, and almost always when so requested by one of the sitters, a noise is heard like that of a saw, a hatchet, or a pencil at work. These are physical effects, which have been observed, and prove undeniably the existence of an unknown force.
This force is physical. If one perceived only movements devoid of purpose, blind and irrelevant, or movements only in sympathy with the will of the assistant, one might rest in the conclusion that there is a new and unknown force, which, mayhap, is a transmutation of one's own nervous energy, derived from organic electricity, and this fact in itself would be important; but the blows are apparently struck inside the wooden substance of the table, and the movements are in response to questions put to invisible beings.
In this way did the phenomena begin in 1848, in the United States, when the Misses Fox heard, in their chamber, the noise of raps within the walls and furniture. When their father, after several months of vexatious inquiry, at last bethought himself of old ghost stories, and appealed to the cause of these noises, the cause answered the questions asked, by means of certain raps agreed upon, and declared itself to be the soul of a former proprietor, killed in that very house. This soul asked for their prayers, and for the burial of its former body.
Is this invisible cause within us, or is it outside of ourselves? Are we capable of doubling ourselves in some way, yet without knowing it,—of unconsciously giving, by mental suggestion, the answers to our own questions, and of so producing certain physical effects without being aware of it? Again, is there around us an intelligent atmosphere, a sort of spiritual cosmos? or are there invisible beings, who are not human, but so many gnomes, hobgoblins, or imps?—for such an invisible world may exist around us. Finally can these effects really come from the souls of the departed, who are able to return from the other world? And where is this other world? Four hypotheses thus present themselves.
The lifting of a table, the displacement of an object, might be attributed to an unknown force, developed by our nervous systems, or by some other means; at any rate, these movements do not prove the existence of an outside spirit. But when—by naming the letters of the alphabet or by pointing to them on a tablet—the table, by certain sounds in the wood, or by certain tips, composes an intelligent paragraph, we are compelled to attribute this intelligent effect to an intelligent cause. The medium himself may be the cause; and the easiest way would evidently be to admit that he is tricking us, either by simply striking the leg of the table with his foot, if he operates by raps, or by directing the movements of the table, through bearing upon it more or less heavily.
This, indeed, happens very often, and is what discourages so many inquirers.
There are conditions, however, in which fraud is not supposable. The fact that phenomena can be counterfeited is no reason for concluding they do not exist. In experiments with magnetism and hypnotic suggestion, many delusions beset the experimenters, and there is more or less intentional foolery on the part of the subjects. Thus have I seen, at the prison-hospital of Salpetriere and elsewhere, young women outrageously deceiving the most serious investigators, who did not in the least suspect such insincerity. At market fairs there may often be seen booths where sleepwalkers are exhibited, who simulate genuine somnambulism more or less cleverly. Yet one would palpably err who should deny the existence of real magnetism, somnambulism, or hypnotic suggestion, because of these humbugs and mockeries.
Let us, therefore, pass by fraud, and examine cases where all the experimenters knew one another, and did not knowingly deceive, and thus let us consider a series of observed facts. Here are some communications for which I can vouch. They are sentences, dictated by raps:
God does not enlighten the world with thunder and meteors. He controls peacefully the stars which shine. Thus do divine revelations follow one another, with order, reason, and harmony.
Religion and Friendship are two companions, who help us along life's painful road.
My brother: in the Law [this communication was addressed to an Israelite] revive thy memory! Saul came to the Pythoness of Endor, and begged her to raise the spirit of Samuel; and the spirit of Samuel appeared, announcing to the King the nation's destiny and his own. (1 Samuel xxviii.) "The spirit [wind] bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." (John iii. 8.)
This New Testament text was the more remarkable because it was written in Latin. Here, therefore, are intelligible sentences and accurate quotations. Could blind chance have composed them? Without forgetting possible imposition, our hypotheses still await explication.
Here are other specimens which demand a certain astuteness and decided mental struggle for their dictation. One paragraph begins thus: Suov imrap enger. The other: Arevele suov neib. It is necessary to spell these two phrases backward, commencing at the end. Here the hypothesis of mental suggestion becomes very complicated, as also the theory of environment, and would imply special adroitness in the medium. Someone asked: "Why have you dictated thus?" The power replied: "In order to give you marvellous and unexpected evidence."
Here is another communication of a different kind, beginning, Aimairs vn oo uu ssevt. To the demand what this bizarre assemblage of letters signified, the answer came: "Read every alternate letter!" This arrangement brought out these four lines:—
Amis, nous vous aimons bien tous, Car vous etes bons et fideles. Soyez unis en Dieu; sur vous L'Esprit Saint etendra ses ailes.
This stanza may be translated thus:
You one and all, oh friends, we love, For you are good, and faithful tread. Be one in God; and then above The Holy Ghost his wings will spread.
Surely this is sufficiently innocent of poetic pretension; but the mode of dictation was decidedly difficult. This somewhat reduced, as it seemed to us, the supposition of fraud, but did not altogether destroy it.
A communication of a yet different kind is an imitation of Rabelais, which is not so badly done, but cannot be well translated into English, because of its grotesque and idiomatic character.
As to the identity of spirits, even if it could be demonstrated that the preceding quotations emanated from disembodied minds, this would not be a sufficient reason for admitting that the signatures are not entirely apocryphal.
In a great many cases, too long to be reported in this essay, where the communicating cause has declared itself to be the soul of a certain dead person,—of a father, a mother, a child, or a kinsman,—names, dates, and details were given, which were absolutely in accordance with facts whereof the medium was ignorant; but in the cases where the identity appeared to be best indicated, the questioner had his hands resting on the table, repeated the alphabet, and might have unconsciously induced the result. You try to invoke a man who bore, let us suppose, the name of Charles. When the letter c is pronounced, you exercise your influence without knowing it. If the experiment is made by rocking the table; you exercise a different pressure at that particular moment. If the communication is by raps, and the letter passes without the expected sound, you naturally allow it to be seen that there is a mistake. We deceive ourselves without being aware of it. This frequently happened to me during two years with this word Charles, which was the name of my mother's brother, living in New Orleans. During those two years he told me how he died; yet at that very time he was in the vigor of life. This was in 1860 and 1861, and he did not pass away till 1864. We had, therefore, been the dupes of an illusion.
Auto-suggestion, or self-suggestion, is also extremely frequent in these experiments, as well as with writing mediums. I have before my eyes some charming fables, published by Monsieur Jaubert, President of the Civil Tribunal of Carcassonne, and some delicate poems, obtained through planchette, by P. F. Mathieu,—besides some historic and philosophical works,—all leading to the conclusion that these mediums have written under their own influence; or, at best, affording no scientific proof of a foreign influence.
There remain still unexplained the raps, and the motion of objects more or less heavy. On this point I fully share the opinion of the great chemist, Mr. Crookes, who says:
When manifestations of this kind are exhibited, this remark is generally made: "Why do tables and chairs alone show these effects? Why is this the peculiar property of furniture?"
I might reply that I am simply observing and reporting facts, and that I need not enter into the whys and wherefores. Nevertheless it seems clear that if, in an ordinary dining-room, any heavy inanimate body is to be lifted from the floor, it cannot very well be anything except a table or a chair. I have numerous proofs that this property does not appertain alone to articles of furniture; but in this, as in other experimental demonstrations, the intelligence or force—whichever it be that produces these phenomena,—cannot choose but use objects appropriate to its ends.
At different times during my researches I have heard delicate raps, which sounded as if produced by a pin's point; a cascade of piercing sounds, like those of a machine in full motion; detonations in the air; light and acute metallic taps; cracking noises, like those produced by a floor-polishing machine; sounds which resembled scratching; warbling, like that of birds.
Each of these noises, which I have tested through different mediums, had its special peculiarity. With Mr. Home they were more varied; but, in strength and regularity, I have heard no sounds which could approach those which came through Miss Kate Fox. During several months I had the pleasure, on almost innumerable occasions, of testing the varying phenomena which took place in the presence of this lady, and it was the sounds which I specially studied. It is usually necessary with other mediums, in a regular seance, to sit awhile before anything is heard; but with Miss Fox it seems to be merely necessary to place her hand on something, no matter what, for the sounds to manifest themselves like a triplicated echo, and sometimes loud enough to be noticeable across several intervening rooms.
I have heard some of these noises produced in a living tree, in a large pane of glass, on a stretched wire, on a tambourine, on the roof of a cab, and in the box of a theatre. Moreover, immediate contact is not always necessary. I have heard these noises proceeding from the flooring and walls, when the medium's hands and feet were tied, when he was standing on a chair, when he was in a swing suspended from the ceiling, when he was imprisoned in an iron cage, and when he lay in a swoon on a sofa. I have heard them proceed from musical glasses. I have felt them on my own shoulders, and under my own hands. I have heard them on a piece of paper, fastened between the fingers by a string through the corner of the sheet. With a full knowledge of the numerous theories which have been brought forward to explain these sounds, especially in America, I have tested them in every way I could devise, until it was no longer possible to escape the conviction that these sounds were real, and produced neither by fraud nor by mechanical means.
An important question forces itself upon our attention: Are these movements and noises governed by intelligence? From the very beginning of my investigations I have satisfied myself that the power producing these phenomena was not simply blind force, but that some intelligence directed it, or at least was associated with it. The noises, whereof I have spoken, were repeated a determinate number of times. They became either strong or feeble, at my request, and came from different places. By a vocabulary of signals previously agreed upon, the power answered questions, and gave messages with more or less accuracy.
The intelligence governing these phenomena is sometimes obviously inferior to that of the medium, and is often in direct opposition to his wishes. When a determination has been reached to do something which could not be regarded as quite reasonable, I have seen communications urging a reconsideration of the matter. This intelligence is at times of such a character that one is forced to believe it does not emanate from any person present. (Researches in Spiritualism, by William Crookes.)
This last sentence might be slightly modified, and the words forced to believe might be replaced by the words disposed to believe; for human nature is complex, and we are not perpetually the same, even to ourselves. What uncertainty we often find in our own opinions, upon points not yet elucidated; and this we feel, even when called upon to judge actions or events! Are we not sometimes contradictions to ourselves?
Among the experiments made with these physical and psychical manifestations of the tables, I will mention, as among the best, those of Count de Gasparin, and of my sympathetic friend, Eugene Nus. The Count has obtained rotations, upliftings, raps, revelations of numbers previously thought of, movements without any human contact, and so on. He concludes that human beings are endowed with a fluid, with an unknown force, with an agency capable of impressing objects with the action determined by our wills. (On Table-turning, Supernaturalism in General, and Spirits.)
Eugene Nus has obtained, besides sentences dictated by the table, certain philosophic definitions given almost invariably in exactly a dozen words each. Here are some of them:
Geology: Studies in the transformation of the planets in their periods of revolution.
Astronomy: Order and harmony of the external life of worlds, individually and collectively.
Love: The pivot of mortal passion; attractive sexual force; the element of continuity.
Death: Cessation of individuality, disintegration of its elements, a return to universal life.
Let us note, in passing, the strangely singular fact of a departed soul declaring that death is always the cessation of individuality!
There are whole pages of this kind. Eugene Nus had, as companions in his experiments, Antony Meray, Toussenel, Franchot, Courbebaisse, a whole group of transcendental socialists. Well, this is absolutely the language of Fourier. The words aroma, passional, solidarity, clavier, composite, association, harmony, pivotal force, are in the vocabulary of the table. The author therefore inclines towards the following explanation, as given in his Choses de l'Outre Monde (Things of the Other World), Volume I. Paris, 1887.
Mysterious forces residing in human nature; emanations from inmost potentiality, unknown till our day; the duplication of our experimental power, which gives ability to think and act outside ourselves.
(To be concluded in July Arena.)
THE CHIVALRY OF THE PRESS.
BY JULIUS CHAMBERS.
In the splendid days of Rome, the editor was he who introduced the gladiators as they entered the arena to fight the tigers.
To-day, the editor directs the newspaper and he often affects to believe that his mission on earth is to fight the tiger himself.
The editor of this class is a barbarian who forgets that Rome is only a memory.
The successful editor of to-day recognizes the fact that the newspaper exists to amuse and instruct, to uphold public honor and private virtue quite as much as to denounce fraud or expose official corruption. The newspaper is powerful exactly in proportion as it is successful in representing the people who read it; in following, rather than dictating, their line of policy; and, whether it exists for the people or not, it certainly endures only by their sufferance and good-will. Therefore, it is well that we consider the relations of the people at large to the newspaper; then, the editor's relation to his neighbors, the public; and, finally, the chivalry of editors toward each other.
The newspaper is so large a part of our modern life that it would be trivial to argue the question whether it can be dispensed with. Men who live abreast of the age cannot consent to miss a single day's communion with the news of the world. The non-arrival of the mail will render an active man absent from town utterly miserable. The purchaser of the daily newspaper of to-day receives for the price of a half yard of calico a manufactured article that has required the employment of millions of capital to produce,—to say nothing of genius to sustain.
And he is often somewhat grateful.
But the chivalry of the public toward the newspaper is peculiar. The public would appear to believe that anything it can coax, wheedle, or extort from the newspaper is fair salvage from the necessary expenditures of life.
Recently I listened in amazement to the Rev. Robert Collyer boast at a Cornell University dinner of having beguiled the newspapers of the country. He told how he had schemed and got money to build a new church after the Chicago fire. He did not make it very clear that the civilized members of his race clamored for the new edifice, but he made painfully apparent his ideas of chivalry to the press.
"In this matter," he began, "I have always been proud of the way in which I 'worked the newspapers.' I succeeded in raising the money, because I coaxed the editors into cooeperating with me. I wrote long puffs about the congregation and its pastor, and got them printed. Then I hurried 'round with the subscription list and a copy of the paper."
Of course, this was all said good-naturedly, was meant to be funny, and was uttered from a public rostrum with an utter obliviousness to the mental obliquity that a moment's thought will disclose. It left upon my mind much the same impression as that once made by hearing an apparently respectable man boast of having stolen an umbrella out of a hotel rack.
Later in the evening, when the reverend gentleman occupied a seat near mine, I asked, with as much naivete as I could command, if he had "worked" the plumbers, the architects, the masons, the carpenters, and the bell-founders? To each of these questions he returned a regretful, "No."
Despite his apparent innocence regarding the purport of my inquiry, I doubt if this gentleman would have boasted that he secured his clothes for nothing, that he wheedled his chops from his butcher, or coaxed his groceries from the shopkeeper at the corner of his street.
And yet, he spoke with condescension of the editor and his means of livelihood!
Theoretically, the editor is the public's mutton. Men who know him boast of their influence with him, and over him. They dictate his policy for him—or say they do, which, of course, is the same thing. Men who never saw him claim to own him. Strangers, casually introduced, ask him questions about his personal affairs that would be instantly resented in any other walk of life.
An experience of my own will illustrate what I mean. At a country house, near Philadelphia, I was introduced to a respectable-looking old man. In the period following dinner, as we sat on the porch to enjoy a smoke, this stranger interrogated me in the most offensive way. When he had paused for breath I gave him a dose of his own medicine. "The deadly parallel" column will tell the story.
WHAT HE ASKED. WHAT I ASKED.
I hear you are an editor? I am told you are a hatter?
Do most newspapers pay? Is hat-making profitable?
How much do editors earn? How much does your business net you yearly?
You began as a reporter? Grew up in the trade?
Does it require any You can "block a hat while I wait"? education to be a reporter?
Do you write shorthand? You can handle a hot goose?
Eh? used to? Could once?
Please write some: let's Please take this hat and show me how see how it looks? it is put together.
Curious-looking Have seen a great many queerly shaped characters, aren't they? hats in your time, no doubt?
How many columns can you How many hats can you make in a day? write a day?
Do you write by the column? Do you work by the piece?
What? Don't write at all? Ah? Don't work any longer? Supposed every How strange!—and so on. hatter made his own hats!—and so on.
The editor may be to blame for this state of things; but if so, his good-nature is responsible. He endures more than other men. He is often worried by the troubles of other people; but he never has been weaned from the milk of human kindness. He may be over-persuaded, he may be deceived, and editors have been fooled, like judge and jurors, by the perjured affidavit of apparently honorable men—but he still continues to believe in mankind.
The chivalry of the politician toward the press is comprehended to a nicety by every man who has served as a newspaper correspondent at Washington.
The average congressman thinks it clever to deceive a newspaper editor or correspondent. He believes they are to be "used," whenever possible, for the congressman's advantage. A correspondent is to be tricked or cajoled into praising the statesman, revising the bad English in his speeches, "saving the country and—the appropriations." All the charities require and demand his aid, and, I am ashamed to say (knowing as I do what a hollow mockery some of the alleged charities really are), generally get the assistance they ask.
The chivalry of the press toward the public is unquestionable. The editor keeps awake nearly all night to serve it, and the facts are not altered because in best serving the public he serves himself.
Journalism, I regret to say, is often spoken of as a "profession," and while we may accept the plebeian word "journalism," as describing a daily labor, I sincerely desire to enter a protest against its designation as a profession. It seems entirely proper to me that this word be relegated to the pedagogue, the chiropodist, and the barn-storming actor who so boldly assert a right to its use.
The making of the newspaper is a mechanical art. It matters very little how much intelligence—or genius, if you prefer the word—enters into its production, the inter-dependence of the so-called "intellectual" branch of the paper upon its mechanical adjuncts is so great that it cannot be maintained that the manufactured article offered to purchasers in the shape of a newspaper is the product of any one lobe of brain tissue. Of what value are a hundred thousand copies of the best newspaper in this land, edited, revised and printed, if its circulation department break down at the critical moment? And what about the newsman? Who shall say that he does not belong to journalism? He's to the service what the Don Cossack is to the Russian hosts. He's the Cossack of journalism—our Cossack of the dawn!
While it is easy to determine the point at which the newspaper begins its existence, it would be very difficult indeed to decide exactly where it receives its finishing touches. For years, geographers wrangled regarding the point at which the day began. In other words, this being Monday, they quarrelled regarding the point at which the sun ceased to shine on Monday, and began to shine on Tuesday.
Philosophers who have discussed the nice points of the daily newspapers have claimed that it dates its origin from the paper mill; but I fail to see why, if we are to go back to the paper mill, we shall not go much further and seek the component parts from which the paper is originally made, showing at once the absurdity of any such an assumption. While not inclined to argue this point, it is my humble judgment that the newspaper begins its existence the moment the managing editor opens his desk for the day's work. He is its main-spring! Whatever of distinctive character it possesses in methods of handling the news of the day it owes to him, and it is these very features that render one journal better or worse than others. He it is, as a rule, who establishes the chivalry of the press toward the public. It is he who decides the line of attack or defense when the vast interests which he represents are assailed.
The peculiar kind of mind required for such a post is probably not developed in any other known business. The longer a man has served the art, the more confidently he trusts to intuition and distrusts a decision based wholly upon experience. Several of the worst blunders ever made in American journalism have been committed after a careful study of the historical precedents. Throughout all his troubles, however, all his anxieties by day and by night—because his responsibilities never end—the managing editor's thoughts are constantly dwelling upon the public service that may be rendered to the reading constituency behind him.
The executive head of a newspaper, great or small, lives in a glass house, with all the world for critics. Every act, no matter how suddenly forced upon him, no matter how careful his judgment, is open to the criticism of every person who reads his paper. The columns of printed matter are the windows of his soul.
These thoughts are all in the line of duty, somewhat selfish in their character, perhaps (because fidelity to the public is the only secret of success); but the sense of chivalry is there,—should be there and seen of all men, on every page of the printed sheet.
This idea of the newspaper's duty to the public is a comparatively new phase of the journalistic art. It has arisen since the brilliant Round Table days of Bennett, Greeley, Webb, Prentice, and Raymond. Their standards were high. Their energy was tremendous. And when they came to blows the combat was terrific. But Greeley, the last survivor, found his Camlan in 1872. He was ambushed and came to his end much as King Arthur from a race that he had trusted and defended. In Greeley's defeat for the Presidency all theorists who had dwelt upon the so-called "Power of the Press" received a shuddering blow. The men who had affected to believe that the press could make and unmake destinies began to count on their fingers the few newspapers that had opposed Horace Greeley. To their amazement they found that, excepting one journal in the metropolis, every daily paper in the land whose editor or chief stockholder did not hold a public office was marshalled in his support. The echoes of their enthusiasm can be heard even to this day. Some of those editors ranted and roared like Sir Toby Belch; but the professional politicians, serene and complacent as gulligut friars, saw their editorial antagonists routed—cakes, ale, and wine-coolers.
To the believers in printer's ink, that presidential campaign was a revelation. Mr. Greeley was the most thoroughly defeated candidate this country has ever known.
I remember the period well, for I was a reporter on the Tribune, and as a correspondent travelled from Minnesota to Louisiana. It seemed utterly impossible in May that Mr. Greeley could fail of election; in September, his defeat was assured. That revolt of the people against the dictation of the newspapers was momentous in its results. The independent voter thoroughly asserted himself, and those editors who could be taught by the incident knew that the people resented their leadership. The one sad and pitiful thing about the affair was the ingratitude of the negro race. They deserted their apostle and champion. (I speak frankly, for I was born an abolitionist.)
Throughout the Civil War, the newspapers had harangued, badgered, and dictated; had bolstered up or destroyed men, character, and measures. It was well, perhaps, that the men who directed these same newspapers should be taught a severe lesson.
Without doubt, the stormy period in which Greeley, Bennett, Prentice, Webb, and Raymond tilted, was necessary as a preparatory era to the more brilliant age of chivalry that succeeded! We as a people were younger in journalism than in any other intellectual or mechanical art. Great statesmen had been grown in plenty—the very birth of the nation had found them full-fledged. A constellation of brilliant preachers of the Gospel and expounders of the law are remembered. We can all name them over from Jonathan Edwards to Theodore Parker and from John Marshall to Rufus Choate. Great mercantile families had been created, such as the Astors, the Grinells, the Bakers, Howlands, Aspinwalls, and Claflins.
Large fortunes had been amassed in commerce; but not an editor had been able to accumulate money enough to keep his own carriage!
Journalism languished until about 1840. The great public did not seem to require editors. The people of New York, possibly, persisted in remembering that the first man in this country to write an editorial article had been hanged in the City Hall Park. He had died heroically, immortalizing the occasion when he said: "I regret that I have only one life to give for my country." But some people believed he had suffered death because he wrote editorial articles.
The art of making the newspaper steadily gained in public appreciation. To employ the simile chivalric, its young squires were changed into full-fledged knights by the propagation of a new idea, a new aim—the rendering of public service! True enough, the motto of the noblest English princedom, "Ich dien!" acknowledges the high duty of service; but, when proclaimed as a journalistic duty it took the form of a new tender of fidelity from the best men at court to the people at large. It was so accepted, and has drawn the people and the press closer together. It was as if these true knights drew their weapons before the public eye and offered a new pledge of fidelity in the thrilling old Norman usage of the word "Service!"
A gleam of something higher and nobler than mere swashbuckling was in every editorial eye. The idea developed, as did the nobility and purity of Chivalry under Godfrey, the Agamemnon of Tasso. In all truly representative editorial minds the feeling grew that any power which their arms or training gave them should be exercised in the defense of the weak and oppressed. They renewed the old vow: "To maintain the just rights of such as are unable to defend themselves." It was a great step—as far-reaching in its results as was the promulgation of that oath in the age of Chivalry.
At this point rose the reporter. He had been recognized for years as the coming servitor of the press. But a few of him in the early days had been dissolute, had written without proper regard to facts, and had brought discredit not only on himself but the chivalry which others believed in. He began to brace up, to pull himself together, to be better educated, to dress in excellent taste, and, above all, to write better copy. Henry Murger had published a series of sketches under the title "Scenes de La Vie de Boheme." These few pictures described the Paris life of that period, beyond a doubt; but here in New York a few bright men sought to revive the spirit and the couleur de rose of the Quartier Latin. It was a clever idea, but it didn't last.
In one of the bleakest corners of the old graveyard at Nantucket stands a monument to Henry Clapp, the presiding genius of the Bohemian Club that sat for so many years in Phaff's cellar on Broadway. Its roll contained many of the brightest names known in the history of the American press. They were true Bohemians,—once defined by George William Curtis as the "literary men who had a divine contempt for to-morrow." How cleverly those choice spirits wrote and talked about their lives away back in the fifties. Get a file of the New York Figaro, or some of the Easy Chair papers in Harper's of that period, and enjoy their cloud-land life! I only quote one sentence and it is from "the Chair," though I half suspect Fitz James O'Brien, rather than George William Curtis, penned it:—
"Bohemia is a roving kingdom—a realm in the air, like Arthur's England. It sometimes happens that, as a gipsy's child turns out to be a prince's child, who, perforce, dwells in a palace, so the Bohemian is found in a fine house and high society. Bohemia is a fairyland on this hard earth. It is Arcadia in New York."
Ah! yes, this is all very beautiful, but rent had to be paid; and the literary workers of to-day never forget that journalism is the only branch of literature that from the outset enables a man to live and pay his way. And yet when we remember Henry Clapp, Fitz James O'Brien, N. G. Shepherd, and Ned Wilkins, we feel that every working newspaper man is better to-day because they struggled and starved; because they lived in the free air of Bohemia.
With the worker in the art, "the struggle for existence" begins with his first day's apprentice task as a reporter. No man ever became a journalist who did not serve that apprenticeship. There is no hope for him outside of complete success. It requires several years for him to learn to get news and to properly write it. One failure will blight his entire career. Unlike any other commercial commodity, news once lost cannot be recouped.
Dr. Samuel Johnson was the first Parliamentary reporter. He got a list of the speakers, then went to his lodgings in a dingy court off Fleet Street and wrote out speeches for the Lords and the Commons. He did this for years and not one of the men so honored is on record as having denied the accuracy of the report(?). Dr. Johnson made the reputations of half a dozen men who are to-day mentioned among the great English orators. They were honorable men, as the world goes, but not one of them, except Edmund Burke, ever acknowledged his indebtedness to Samuel Johnson. I never have known a senator or congressman to thank a Washington correspondent for making his speech presentable to educated eyes. He has been known to grow warm in praise of all classes of humanity, from Tipperary to Muscovy, but never a word of commendation escapes his lips for a newspaper man. He believes in philanthropy, but as Napoleon said to Talleyrand, he "wants it to be a long way off!" (Je veux seulement que ce soit de la philanthropie lointaine.)
With the rise of journalistic chivalry came the search for news. It became a precious prize. The special correspondent and reporter sought it. Truth was to be rescued from oblivion! Facts began to be hunted for like the ambergris and ivory of commerce. At first the search resembled the quest for the Oracle of the Holy Bottle,—a test as to the public's opinion of news. What kind of service did the public want? Adventure followed, as a matter of course, but love of adventure was not the impelling motive.
The American newspaper, like the American railroad, developed along new lines. Girardin, who had created all that is worth considering in the French press, had pinned his faith to the feuilleton and the snappy editorial article, with its "one idea only." News was of no account. In the English journal, the supremacy of the editorial page was asserted and maintained. News was desirable but secondary; and there was no hurry about obtaining it. In the Spanish press blossomed—and has ever since bloomed—the paragraph. News was a good thing, if it could be told in a few lines, but generally, alas, dangerous. A paragraph must only be long enough to allow a cigarette to go out while you were reading it. Wax matches cost only a cuarta per box, but cigarettes were expensive. Beaumarchais understood the Spanish press when he put the famous epigram into "Figaro's" lips: "So long as you print nothing, you may print anything."
The chivalry of the editor toward his "esteemed contemporary" is a sad and solemn phase of this true commentary.
After you have carefully reread the "editorial" pages of two metropolitan journals from 1841 to date, and remember that the contemporaries of Guttenberg called printing "the black art," you will marvel that public opinion has ever changed. If the contemporaries of the old Nuremberg printer had lived in 1882, and taken in the Tribune of February 25th, they would have gone out to gather faggots to roast an editor. The excuse for one of the most savage attacks ever made by one American editor upon another was that a rival had printed a private telegram, sent by an editor to the chief magistrate of the nation, which had found its way into wrong hands or had been "taken off the wires," as many other messages had been before. And yet, young as I am, I remember that in 1871, the treaty of Washington was "acquired" by means even more questionable and printed entire, to the confusion and indignation of the United States Senators. The very same editor laid down a dictum that was thought to be very clever at the time: "It is the duty of our correspondents to get the news; it is the business of other people to keep their own secrets." This was all very well in 1871, but in 1882, the moral "lay in the application on it."
From the very moment in which the American newspaper attained a definite policy and impulse, its direction has been forward, and it has daily grown in wealth and popular respect.
I have called the special correspondent the knight errant of the newspaper. Let me prove it. The greatest, noblest of them all was J. A. MacGahan, of Khiva and San Stefano. He was an American, born in Perry County, Ohio. I can sketch his career in a few brief sentences: He was at law-school in Brussels when the Franco-Prussian war burst upon Europe, in 1870. Having had some experience as a writer for the press, he entered the field at once. Danger and suffering were his, though he did not achieve renown in that brief campaign. He then made his memorable ride to Khiva, and wrote the best book on Central Asia known to our language. Another turn of the wheel found him in Cuba describing the Virginius complications. There I first met him. Thence he returned to England, and sailed with Captain Young in the Pandora to the Arctic regions, making the last search undertaken for the lost crew of Sir John Franklin's expedition. MacGahan returned to London in the spring of 1876 in time to read in the newspapers brief despatches from Turkey recounting the reported atrocities of the Bashi-Bazouks. He determined at once to go to Bulgaria. In a month's time, he had put a new face on the "Eastern Question." The great trouble between Christian and Turk was no longer confined to "the petty quarrel of a few monks over a key and a silver star," as defined by the late Mr. Kinglake, but assumed proportions that could be discerned in every club and in every drawing-room of Imperial London. MacGahan had begun his memorable ride, the results of which will endure as long as Christianity! He visited Batak and painted in cold type what he saw. He caused the shrieks of the dying girls in the pillaged towns of Bulgaria to be heard throughout Christian Europe. A Tory minister, stanch in his fidelity to the "unspeakable Turk," sent its fleet to the Dardanelles, but dared not land a man or fire a single gun. Popular England repudiated its old ally. And MacGahan rode onward and wrote sheaves of letters. In every hamlet he passed through, he said: "The Czar will avenge this! Courage, people; he will come!"
From that time history was made as by a cyclone. The Russian hosts were mobilized at Kischeneff, and the Czar of all the Russias reviewed them. Then the order to cross the Pruth was given, as MacGahan had foretold; our Knight Errant rode with the advanced guard. Through the changing fortune of the war, grave and gay, he passed. Much of his work, now preserved in permanent form, is the best of its kind in our language. The assault of Skobeleff on the Gravitza redoubt was immortalized by MacGahan's pen. When Plevna fell, our hero was in the van during the mad rush toward the Bosphorus. The triumphant advance was never checked until the spires and minarets of Constantinople were in sight. Bulgaria was redeemed, the power of the Turk in Europe was broken, the aggrandizement of Russia was complete—and all because J. A. MacGahan had lived and striven.
At San Stefano, a suburb of the capital, on the Sea of Marmora, our hero died of fever. Skobeleff, whose friendship dated back to the Kirgitz Steppe and the Khivan conquest, closed his eyes and was chief mourner at his grave. To-day on the anniversary of his death, prayers for the repose of his soul are said in every hamlet throughout Bulgaria. His service to the newspaper and to the civilized world extended over less than eight years, but he accomplished for the public the work of a lifetime.
Hail to his memory! His was the chivalry of the press!
For years the name of Latour d'Auvergne, "first grenadier of France," was called at nightfall in every regiment of the Imperial Grenadier Guard. When the name was heard, the first grenadier in the rank would answer, "Mort—sur le champ de bataille."
So, when the roll is called of those that have added to the chivalry and glory of the American press, every fellow-laborer who knew "MacGahan of Kiva and San Stefano" will salute and answer: "Dead—and glorious!"
Philogeny, the new and brilliant science that treats of the development of the human race from the animal kingdom, teaches that the history of the germ is an epitome of the history of the descent. It is equally true in journalism, that the various forms of discouragement, hope, and final success through which the individual worker in the art passes, during his progress from the reportorial egg-cell to the fully developed executive-editorial organism, is a compressed reproduction of the long series of misfortunes and interferences through which the ancestors of the American newspaper of to-day have passed. The simile is true, aye, to the supreme part played by "the struggle for existence!" Under its influence, through the "natural selection" of the public, a new and nobler species of journalism has arisen and now exists. The newspaper of to-day, evolved from rudimentary forms, is a splendid and heroic organism; and the last upholder of the dogma of its miraculous creation and infallible power is dead.
BY B. O. FLOWER.
It is difficult to over-estimate the gravity of the problem presented by those compelled to exist in the slums of our populous cities, even when considered from a purely economic point of view. From the midst of this commonwealth of degradation there goes forth a moral contagion, scourging society in all its ramifications, coupled with an atmosphere of physical decay—an atmosphere reeking with filth, heavy with foul odors, laden with disease. In time of any contagion the social cellar becomes the hotbed of death, sending forth myriads of fatal germs which permeate the air for miles around, causing thousands to die because society is too short-sighted to understand that the interest of its humblest member is the interest of all. The slums of our cities are the reservoirs of physical and moral death, an enormous expense to the State, a constant menace to society, a reality whose shadow is at once colossal and portentous. In time of social upheavals they will prove magazines of destruction; for while revolution will not originate in them, once let a popular uprising take form and the cellars will reinforce it in a manner more terrible than words can portray. Considered ethically, the problem is even more embarrassing and deplorable; here, as nowhere else in civilized society, thousands of our fellowmen are exiled from the enjoyments of civilization, forced into life's lowest strata of existence, branded with that fatal word scum. If they aspire to rise, society shrinks from them; they seem of another world; they are of another world; driven into the darkness of a hopeless existence, viewed much as were lepers in olden times. Over their heads perpetually rests the dread of eviction, of sickness, and of failure to obtain sufficient work to keep life in the forms of their loved ones, making existence a perpetual nightmare, from which death alone brings release. Say not that they do not feel this; I have talked with them; I have seen the agony born of a fear that rests heavy on their souls stamped in their wrinkled faces and peering forth from great pathetic eyes. For them winter has real terror, for they possess neither clothes to keep comfortable the body, nor means with which to properly warm their miserable tenements. Summer is scarcely less frightful in their quarters, with the heat at once stifling, suffocating, almost intolerable; heat which acting on the myriad germs of disease produces fever, often ending in death, or, what is still more dreaded, chronic invalidism. Starvation, misery, and vice, trinity of despair, haunt their every step. The Golden Rule,—the foundation of true civilization, the keynote of human happiness,—reaches not their wretched quarters. Placed by society under the ban, life is one long and terrible night. But tragic as is the fate of the present generation, still more appalling is the picture when we contemplate the thousands of little waves of life yearly washed into the cellar of being; fragile, helpless innocents, responsible in no way for their presence or environment, yet condemned to a fate more frightful than the beasts of the field; human beings wandering in the dark, existing in the sewer, ever feeling the crushing weight of the gay world above, which thinks little and cares less for them. Infinitely pathetic is their lot.
The causes that have operated to produce these conditions are numerous and complex, the most apparent being the immense influx of immigration from the crowded centres of the old world; the glamor of city life, which has allured thousands from the country, fascinating them from afar much as the gaudy colors and tinsel before the footlights dazzle the vision of a child; the rapid growth of the saloon, rendered well-nigh impregnable by the wealth of the liquor power; the wonderful labor-saving inventions, which in the hands of greed and avarice, instead of mitigating the burdens of the people, have greatly augmented them, by glutting the market with labor; the opportunities given by the government through grants, special privileges, and protective measures for rapid accumulation of wealth by the few; the power which this wealth has given its possessors over the less fortunate; the spread of that fevered mental condition which subjects all finer feelings and holier aspirations to the acquisition of gold and the gratification of carnal appetites, and which is manifest in such a startling degree in the gambler's world, which to dignify we call the realm of speculation; the desire for vulgar ostentation and luxurious indulgence, in a word the fatal fever for gold which has infested the social atmosphere, and taken possession of hundreds of thousands of our people, chilling their hearts, benumbing their conscience, choking all divine impulses and refined sensibilities; the cowardice and lethargy of the Church, which has grown rich in gold and poor in the possession of moral energy, which no longer dares to denounce the money changers, or alarm those who day by day are anaesthetizing their own souls, while adding to the misery of the world. The church has become, to a great extent, subsidized by gold, saying in effect, "I am rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing," apparently ignorant of the fact that she "is wretched, poor, blind, and naked," that she has signally failed in her mission of establishing on earth an ideal brotherhood. Instead of lifting her children into that lofty spiritual realm where each feels the misery of his brother, she has so far surrendered to the mammon of unrighteousness that, without the slightest fear of having their consciences disturbed, men find comfort in her soft-cushioned pews, who are wringing from ten to thirty per cent. profit from their fellowmen in the wretched tenement districts, or who refuse to pay more than twelve cents a pair for the making of pants, forty-five cents a dozen for flannel shirts, seventy-five cents a dozen for knee pants, and twenty-five cents a dozen for neckties. I refer not to the many noble exceptions, but I indict the great body of wealthy and fashionable churches, whose ministers do not know and take no steps to find out the misery that is dependent upon the avarice of their parishioners. Then again back of all this is the defective education which has developed all save character in man; education which has trained the brain but shriveled the soul. Last but by no means least is land speculation which has resulted in keeping large tracts of land idle which otherwise would have blossomed with happy homes. To these influences we must add the general ignorance of the people regarding the nature, extent, and growing proportions of the misery and want in the New World which is spreading as an Eastern plague in the filth of an oriental city.
It is not my present purpose to dwell further on the causes which have produced these conditions. I wish to bring home to the mind and heart of the reader a true conception of life in the slums, by citing typical cases illustrating a condition prevalent in every great city of the Union and increasing in its extent every year. I shall confine myself to uninvited want as found in civilized Boston, because I am personally acquainted with the condition of affairs here, and because Boston has long claimed the proud distinction of being practically free from poverty.
I shall briefly describe scenes which fell under my personal observation during an afternoon tour through the slums of the North End, confining myself to a few typical cases which fairly represent the condition of numbers of families who are suffering through uninvited poverty, a fact which I have fully verified by subsequent visits to the wretched homes of our very poor. I purposely omit in this paper describing any members of that terrible commonwealth where misery, vice, degradation, and crime are inseparably interwoven. This class belongs to a lower stratum; they have graduated downward. Feeling that society's hand is against them, Ishmael-like they raise their hand against society. They complement the uninvited poor; both are largely a product of unjust and inequitable social conditions.
The scenes I am about to describe were witnessed one afternoon in April. The day was sunless and dreary, strangely in keeping with the environment of the exiles of society who dwell in the slums. The sobbing rain, the sad, low murmur of the wind under the eaves and through the narrow alleys, the cheerless frowning sky above, were in perfect harmony with the pathetic drama of life I was witnessing. Everything seemed pitched in a minor key, save now and then there swelled forth splendid notes of manly heroism and womanly courage, as boldly contrasting with the dead level of life as do the full rich notes of Wagner's grandest strains with the plaintive melody of a simple ballad sung by a shepherd lad. I was accompanied in this instance by the Rev. Walter Swaffield, of the Bethel Mission, and his assistant, Rev. W. J. English.