THE COMPLETE WORKS OF BRANN THE ICONOCLAST
DOLCE FAR NIENTE AND DOLLARS SALMAGUNDI A KANSAS CITY ARISTOCRAT A PICTORIAL PAIN-KILLER MAN'S GUST FOR GORE A RIGHT ROYAL ROAST TEXAS TOPICS THE RETORT COURTEOUS BRANN VS. BAYLOR SPEAKING OF SPIRITUALISM SOME GOLD-BUG GUFF "THE TYPICAL AMERICAN TOWN" TEE AUTHOR OF EPISCOPALIANISM A GYPSY GENIUS MARRIAGE AND MISERY
SALMAGUNDI THE GOO-GOOS AND TAMMANY'S TIGER THE HON. BARDWELL SLOTE, OF COHOSH MONDE AND DEMI-MONDE MACHIAVELLI THE AMATEUR EDITOR SPEAKING FOR MYSELF AS I WAS SAYING TOMMIE WATSON'S TOMMYROT PILLS AND POLITICS BEHIND TEE SCENES IN ST. LOUIS THE STAGE AND STAGE DEGENERATES "THE CHRISTIAN" SALMAGUNDI SOME ECONOMIC IDIOCY AN EPISCOPALIAN MISTAKE GLORY OF THE NEW GARTER TWO OF A KIND THE SAW-MILL CHECK SYSTEM LOVE AS AN INTOXICANT THE SWORD AND THE CROSS A COUPLE OF UNCLEAN COYOTES COINING BLOOD INTO BOODLE A BIGOTED ARCHBISHOP SALMAGUNDI THE FOOTLIGHT FAVORITES GINX'S BABY WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH MISSOURI
DOLCE FAR NIENTE AND DOLLARS.
The dispatches state that during the three weeks George Gould was lazing and luxuriating in a foreign land "the business revival added at least $15,000,000 to the value of the Gold securities." Gadzooks! how sweet idleness must be when sugared with more than $714,000 per day! I'm willing to loaf for half the lucre. How refreshing it is to contemplate our plutocrats lying beside their nectar like a job lot of Olympian gods—"careless of mankind"—while
"—they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands, Clanging fights and flaming towns, and sinking ships and praying hands."
One of Mr. Gould's employees, who was toiling at risk of life and limb for about $2 a day while his imperial master was doing the dolce far niente act for $714,000 per diem and his board, comments as follows in a letter to the ICONOCLAST:
"W. C. BRANN: It might be pertinent for you to find out how the festive George, of yacht-racing, Waler-hob-nobbing fame, has managed to reap such pronounced benefits from the revival in business. It is notorious among railroad men that one of the first moves of Superintendent Trice, who succeeded Tim Campbell as manager of the I. & G. N., was to inaugurate a series of 'reforms,' the chief feature of which was the cutting salaries of from 20 to 40 per cent, especially among the office men, and at the same time covering it by swapping the men around as much as possible. Forces were reduced by compelling the half-starved employees to do overtime at less pay, and the poor devils can only grin and bear it. Suppose you write down, and get the true data from the various places where the I. & G. N. touches, and then show the true source, or the real 'revival' that has given the festive George such a boost in his cash box."
In the first place, "the business revival" has not "added $15,000,000 to the value of the Gould securities"—it is a political falsehood which George can be depended upon to promptly repudiate when the tax assessor calls around to tender congratulations. It is eleven to seven that Georgie assures him that the Gould estate is in a very bad way, that only by the most heroic self-sacrifices in this period of business depression can he succeed in remaining solvent; that there was a slight advance in railway values while crops were moving, only to be succeeded by a doleful slump, caused by the high tariff, which cuts so dreadfully into tonnage. If he refrains from putting up some such game of talk as that I'll take up a collection among the bootblacks of Texas to help pay his taxes. Fifteen millions in three weeks! Oh my! Since "Count" Castellane pulled one leg off the estate it is no larger than it was when old Jay went to He-aven. Now Jay was an honorable man—at least he wouldn't steal the buttons off your undershirt while you had it on, and hotel keepers; did not take the precaution to chain his knife and fork to the table; but in his palmiest days he paid taxes on but $75,000 worth of personal property—railway securities and "sich." Heavy crops, for which Providence and the industry of the American people are alone responsible, have added somewhat to the present earning power of railway properties, but it is doubtful, if the total mileage and equipment owned by the Goulds would sell for as much actual cash as before the election of McKinley. The great bulk of the boasted advance in Gould securities consists of wind pumped in by the "pulls"; but just the same the American people will be bled to pay dividends on this speculative boodle—both patrons and employees will suffer that interest may be collected on "invested capital" which never had an existence. But even were the dispatches true, what must be said of a "business revival" that reduces wages, that adds enormously to the wealth of the plutocrats while making economic conditions harder for the great mass of the American people? The general trend of wages is downward, while the cost of living is enhanced by the Dingley tariff and the advance in flour caused by foreign crop failures. Why? Because, despite the pumping of the Republican press about the "return of prosperity," the country is full of idle men, and the inevitable tendency of the gold standard and high tariff is to increase their number and further lower wages by the pressure of these people for employment. Railway securities have advanced a little despite the repressive effect of Republican policy, have beaten up somewhat against the adverse winds, impelled by speculators whose vis vitalis was the crops of the country—the great bulk of which were produced by men who voted for Bryan. The necessary sequence of an appreciating standard of value is depreciation in the selling price of property, whether such property be Gould securities or Irish potatoes; while a high tariff inevitably reduces tonnage below what it would otherwise be—chisels a yawning hiatus into the revenues of every American railroad. This fact is so self-evident that it may seem unnecessary to say more on the subject—that arguing the matter were like wasting time proving that water is wet; but as a number of Republican papers are having a serious of violent epeliptoid convulsions because I recently asserted that a nation can only be paid for its exports with its imports, it may not be amiss to make a few remarks adapted to the understanding of the kindergarten class. Trade, whether between the people of this republic, or those of Europe and America, is, when reduced to the last analysis, nothing more than an exchange of commodities. It may happen that we sell largely to a country of which we buy but little; but the nations that purchase of our debtor pay for our products. Our exports usually exceed our imports, and for the simple reason that we owe vast sums abroad, the surplus being employed in the payment of interest and the discharge of our foreign indebtedness. When we become a great creditor nation like England, our imports will exceed our exports—we will begin to absorb the labor products of foreign lands. If America received foreign gold for all her exports it would be nothing more than a commodity weighed to her at so much per ounce and which she might exchange at her good pleasure for foreign goods, just as she does her cotton and corn. Some gold crosses the sea; but it goes and comes just as go other commodities—seeks the most advantageous market. A tariff wall, by keeping foreign products OUT keep American products IN, thereby narrowing our market and limiting production. If the workman does not produce he cannot consume, and production and consumption are the basis of railway business. But why, it may be asked, would the railway corporations cut their own throats by helping elect McKinley? Surely they understand their business much better than does a Texas maverick-brander who writes economic editorials while astride a mustang. Possibly so; but it were well to remember that while it is evidently to the interests of the stockholders of such a corporation that it should prosper, the bond-owner, who is a kind of wholesale pawnbroker and flourishes best during periods of business depression, also has something to say. Whether the former receives any dividends or not the latter must have his interest, and the more of labor products required to pay it the more he is enriched. The railway bondholder is usually the party who holds a $500 mortgage on a $10,000 farm. Crops may fail, the hogs get the cholera and the poultry die of the pips; cotton may go down and cloth go up; but the sorrows of others cause him to lose no sleep. As I have hitherto pointed out, we have it on the authority of Mark Hanna's newspaper organ "lower wages are certainly a feature of the new prosperity"—that the American workman need not hope for permanent employment until willing to accept the same wages paid "the pauper labor of Europe," from whose disastrous competition the Republicans solemnly promised him protection. If Supt. Trice is reducing wages and overworking his men it may be accepted as certain that he is compelled thereto by a higher power—that the edict has gone forth that the employees of the I. & G. N. must work longer hours for less money that interest be paid on the $15,000,000 which the blessed "business revival" added to the value of Mr. Gould's securities while he was idling about Europe.
* * * SALMAGUNDI.
The daily press announces that there is to be another Cleveland baby. It is to make its debut some time this month. "Mrs. Cleveland has been sewing dainty garments all summer." "Presents of beautiful baby clothes are arriving from friends and relatives." Same old gush, gush, gush! slop, slop, slop! that has set the nation retching three times already. Good Lord! will it never end? The fecundity of that family is becoming an American nightmare. Will the time ever come when a married woman of social prominence can get into "a delicate condition" without having the fact heralded over the country as brazenly as though she had committed a crime? There being little hope that the daily press—"public educator," "guardian of morality," etc.—will suffer a renascence of decency, we can only appeal to Grover not to let it happen again. He certainly owes it to the nation to apply the soft pedal to himself. In no other way can he protect a long-suffering nation from seasickness, or his estimable wife from the unclean harpies of the press. I do not believe that Mrs. Cleveland is particeps criminis in these pre-natal proclamations to which the h'upper suckkles of New York are so shockingly addicted. I do not believe that she cares to have the public contemplating her profile portrait just previous to a confinement. Of course it will be urged that a woman of much native delicacy could never have married so crass an animal as Grover Cleveland, have taken him fresh from the embraces of an old harlot like Widow Halpin; but these forget that he held the most exalted position of any man on earth, and his $50,000 per annum had been touched by the genie-wand jobbery—forget that
"—pomp and power alone are woman's care And where these are light Eros finds a feere; Maidens like moths, are eer caught by glare, And Mammon wins his way where Seraphs might despair."
Probably she has regretted a thousand times that she bartered her youth and beauty for life companionship with a tub of tallow, mistaken at the time for a god by a purblind public, but even though it be true, as often asserted, that the old boor gets drunk and beats her, a woman could scarce apply for divorce from a man who has twice been president. Furthermore, association with such a man will lower the noblest woman to his level. Every physiognomist who saw Frances Folsom's bright face, its spirituelle beauty, and who looks upon it now and notes it stolid, almost sodden expression, must recall those lines of Tennyson's:
"As the husband is the wife is; thou art mated with a clown, And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down. Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule, Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten'd forehead of the fool."
Last month it was announced with typographical and pictorial trumpet blasts that Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney was about to present her gilded dudelet with a family edition de luxe, and the Duchess of Marlborough to find an heir to that proud title whose foundation was laid with a sister's shame, the capstone placed by the pander's betrayal of his rightful prince; and now before the world can recover from its nausea, flaming headlines announce that the Clevelands are about to refill the family cradle. Hold our head, please, until we puke! Lord, Lord, is there nothing sacred about motherhood any more? Is a married woman no better than a brood-mare, her condition fair subject for comment by vulgar stable-boys? We thank thee, O God, that the South has not kept pace with New York's super-estheticism—that when our women find themselves in an "interesting condition" they seek the seclusion of the home instead of telephoning for a reporter and a chalk artist and exploiting their intumescence in the public prints.
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Thomas M. Harris, who claims to be 84 years old, has writ a little yellow pamphlet entitled, "Rome's Responsibility for the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln." I have expended almost 5 minutes glancing over Mr. Harris labored lucubations, and must confess that I have in that time acquired more information—of its kind—than I ever did in 5 hours before. Of the reliability of his statements there can be no question, as most of them are grounded on the testimony of "Father" Chiniquy—conceded to be the most accomplished liar since Ananias gave up the ghost. It was Chiniquy who first started the story that the Pope was responsible for the assassination of President Lincoln, and I am expecting him to prove that Guiteau who gave the death-wound to Garfield, was a Jesuit in disguise and acted on orders received from Rome. Harris says that agents of the Confederacy in Canada—whom he admits were not Catholics—employed Booth and his accomplices to do the bloody business; that John Wilkes Booth was a Catholic; that the priests were all Southern sympathizers; that but 144,000 Irishmen enlisted in the Federal army, of whom 104,000 deserted; that the cellars of Catholic cathedrals are filled with munitions of war to be used against the government, that Catholics hold the bulk of the offices and dominate the American press. Harris says other things equally awful and interesting. I much fear that he got to thinking how many of his A. P. Apes have broken into the penitentiary, and dreamed a bad dream.
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I once mentioned a little saweiety sheet, published in New York, under the title of Town Topics, because it afforded me a kind of languid pleasure to kick the feculent sewer-rat back into the foul cloaca from which it had crawled to beslime the ICONOCLAST. I must beg the patient reader's pardon for again soiling my sandal-shoon with what should only be touched with a shovel. I have been receiving through the mails for some time past, both from disgusted Northerners and indignant Southerners, a paragraph clipped from its epecine columns where in some mental misfit eager to do the Smart Alex act begs to be informed what right Mrs. Jefferson Davis had "to address a peculiar letter to the Queen Regent of Spain, demanding the release of a party accused of a serious crime," then adds: "If Miss Cisneros is released it will be because she is innocent, and not because her case has been meddled with by a party of irresponsible old freaks." I sometimes wish the ICONOCLAST had no lady readers, that I might freely express my opinion of such pestiferous pole-cats. I dearly love the ladies, but they are awfully in the way when only full-grown adjectives will do a subject justice. If the Tee-Tee editor had half the gumption of a Kansas Gopher he would know that neither Mrs. Davis nor any other American woman made such "demand." Perhaps he did not know it,—if it be possible for the editor of such a quintessential extract of utter idiocy to know anything—but couldn't resist the boorish impulse to insult an aged woman, because he's built that way. The case of Senorita Cisneros appealed to the sympathy of every manly man and noble woman throughout the world—to every living creature within whose hide there pulses one drop of human blood unblended with that of unclean breasts. Mrs. John A. Logan, Mrs. Jefferson Davis and other magnificent types of American womanhood, HUMBLY PETITIONED the Queen Regent of Spain in behalf of the Cuban heroine. And these noble women, whose names are respected in the very brothels and boozing kens of Boiler Avenue, are referred to by this foul parody on God's masterpiece as "a party of irresponsible old freaks." Christ! is it possible that aught born of woman—that any animal that can learn to walk on its hinder legs—should sink to such infamous depths of degradation! Yet this is the fellow who was so concerned for the feelings of certain sawciety she- males who personated French prostitutes at the Bradley-Martin debauch, that when I criticized their brazen bid for "business" he came near having hydrophobia. Did the Tee-Tee trogolodyte contain within his anthropodial diaphragm a single diatom of decency he would have applauded Mrs. Davis' womanly act, else blocked the yawning hole in his prognathic head with a flat-car load of compost. If Mrs. Davis is permitted to petition the King of Kings to have mercy on the miserable journalistic piano-pounder for Gotham's high-toned honk-a-tonks, certainly she may with propriety appeal to the substitute sovereign of a nation of bankrupt assassins to spare Senorita Cisneros.
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Lawd Chelmsfold, now inspecting the Canadian border to ascertain what resistance it could offer in case of a brush with Uncle Sam, is out with an interview in which he says one great element of John Bull's strength is to be found in the fact that our Anglomaniacs could never be convinced "of the justice of any war that might spring up between America and Britain." Lawd Chelmsford, like most Englishmen, is a large, juicy chump. Of course our Anglomaniacs are all traitors in posse, as their Tory forbears were in esse, and would sympathize with "deah old England, dontcherknow," should war be precipitated by her burning all our coast cities without provocation; but as Chimmie Fadden would say, "Dat cuts no ice." They are but a few thousand in number, and in the whole caboodle there's not a chappie who would fight should a Digger Indian fill his ear with a bushel of buffalo chips, squirt tobacco juice on his twousahs and throw alkali dust in his optics. Lawd Chelmsford has suffered himself to be deceived by the bloodless hermaphrodites employed on such papers as Josef Phewlitzer's Verrult and Belo's double-barreled Benedict Arnold. Still it is just as well to know that John Bull considers that he can depend upon the sympathy and assistance of our Anglomaniacs in case of war with this country. While these fellows are slobbering over "the mother country," the leading papers of London are sneering at the United States as "a fourth-class power" and proclaiming that if it doesn't conduct itself more to John Bull's liking, "it will soon feel the iron hand beneath the velvet glove." Turn loose your "iron hand," you old he-bawd—and you'll soon stick it further under your own coat-tails than you did at Yorktown. . . .
The New York Wail and Distress approves the scheme of Spain, Italy and Germany, to establish a penal colony for anarchists. Yes, yes, granny dear; but would it not be much better to alter those conditions that produce anarchists. Anarchy is simply a protest against oppression. When enough people in a revolt against tyranny it becomes a successful revolution and its promoters are enshrined in history as worthy patriots. When a few men strike blindly but desperately at the hydra and are over- powered, they are traitors or anarchists, rebels or rioters. The Wail and Distress was once edited by a party who, according to his father-in-law, "could be more kinds of a d—n fool than any other man in the country," and it is evidently maintaining its old-time reputation.
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It is reported that a British company is about to secure control of the Panama Canal. If it does so, John Bull will practically have Uncle Sam surrounded, and it is worthy of remark that, despite his tearful protestations of friendship, he fortifies every strategical point regardless of expense. What does he want with such Gibraltars as those at Van Couver, Halifax, Bermuda, St. Lucia and half a dozen other points if he loves us so dearly as Anglomaniacs would have us imagine? It costs hundreds of millions to construct and equip these fortifications, yet they are not worth a dollar to him except in case of war with this country. The fact is that he expects another tussle with the Western Titan—intends to precipitate it in his own good time—when India is quieted and he has naught to fear from the continental powers of Europe. Arbitration is the soothing lullaby which Anglomaniacs are to sing to his unsuspecting "cousin" until he gets his "iron hand" in order—weaves about him an anaconda-coil of cannon. Despite all the milk-sick drivel anent "ties of blood, language and literature," "community of interest of the ger-ate and gal-orious Anglo-Saxon race, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, the cold facts of history prove that for more than a century, England has been our implacable enemy. Why? Wounded pride in the first place, commercial rivalry in the second; but the chief reason is that England desires to perpetuate its supremacy as a world power, and sees growing up here a giant who will sooner or later, as Napoleon said, "clip the lion's claws." The best thing this nation can do is to quietly "fix" itself, and then at the first provocation compel J. B. to pull his freight completely out of the Western world. Uncle Sam is an idiot to go practically unarmed while British guns are pointing at his head from all directions. Arbitration the devil! Dismantle that cordon of forts which you have built for our benefit, and we may take some stock in your Pecksniffian professions of friendship. "Actions speak louder than words," says the old adage; and while J. B.'s words are those of Achates, his acts are those of an enemy. The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hand is the hand of Esau.
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If the dispatches from Hogansville, Ga. be correct, the present federal administration is depriving American citizens of their rights to an extent that suggests the impudence of Germany's swell-head emperor or the petty tyranny of the Turk. It appears that a nigger postmaster was appointed at that place who was persona non grata, and the people employed at their own expense the ex-postmaster to receive their mail for them from the moke. Although a man has an inalienable right to appoint what agent he pleases to receive his money or his mail, the ex-p. m. is to be prosecuted for "conducting a post-office." They then ordered their mail to an adjacent town and sent a private messenger for it, but this was prohibited on the plea that a only government has the right to establish a mail route." To crown the infamy the people were not permitted to mail their letters on postal cars. Here are three flagrant violations of the rights of American citizens, and to compel them to patronize a nigger Republican postmaster. The first agent employed by the people was no more "conducting a post-office" than is the ICONOCLAST, which receives and distributes the mail of a dozen or more people. The messenger sent to the adjacent town was no more running a mail route than is the farmer who brings to town the letters written by his neighbors and carries back those intended for them. The postal department has discharged its entire function when it receives mail, by whosoever presented, and delivers it to those for whom it is intended or to those duly authorized to receive it, and the postmaster-general who permits the department to exceed that simple duty and intermeddle with the rights of the people should not only be impeached and removed from office in one time and two motions, but taken by the slack of the pantalettes and pitched headlong into the penitentiary. It appears that the indignant people assaulted the nigger postmaster. That is indeed to be regretted; still I can but wonder that they do not shoot the whole umbilicus out of every impudent tool of a petty tyranny who attempts to prevent them mailing letters on postal cars while that right is freely accorded to others. The whole affair serves to accentuate the contention of the ICONOCLAST that postmasters should not be appointed by successful politicians, but elected by the people. If the latter can be trusted to choose presidents, congressmen, etc. they can certainly be trusted to select competent men to lick stamps and shuffle postal cards. As matters now stand the wishes of the people, who "pay the freight," are in no wise respected—the pie is shoveled out to a horde of hungry political heelers, not because of services rendered their country, but as payment for their pernicious activity in promoting the interests of a corrupt and conscienceless party. Thus it happens that in about half the cases federal officials are regarded with aversion by the people they are supposed to serve. It is to be hoped that every Southern white man who hereafter votes the Republican ticket will have his billets de amour clapper-clawed and liberally scented by some big fat coon.
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The Buffalo (N.Y.) Distress, commenting on the acquittal of a negro near Barton, Ark., who killed another negro for having criminally assaulted a woman of their own race, wants to know if the law of justification would have held good had the rapist been a white man. Had the Distress but paused to reflect that the white men of Arkansas are free silver Democrats, it would not have indulged in a supposition so far-fetched and foolish. Now in Buffalo, which gave Cleveland to the country, and permits a nigger-loving lazar like the editor of the Distress to run at large, almost anything in petticoats, from old Sycorax to a malodorous coon, might be in some danger of assault by so-called Caucasians.
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There's every indication that another gigantic prize fight fake will soon make a swipe for the long green of the cibarious sucker. Were it not a violation of the law of the land and the canons of the Baptist church to wager money that we should give to the missionaries, I'd risk six-bits that Corbett and Fitzsimmons get together within a year and that the gamblers who are on the inside "make a killing." For six months or more before their last mill these two worthies chewed the rag, making everybody believe that the battle was to be for berlud. The odds were on Corbett, and he got lost in the shuffle as a matter of course—just as Fitz did when he mixed it with Sharkey. Now the rag-chewing has begun over again, and Bob is doing the lordly contempt act just as Jeems did before the late unpleasantness. He has "retired"—wants Corbett to "go get er repertashun"—says "Corbett quit in the last go like er cowardly cur." It will take time to work the thing up, to resuscitate the old excitement, to set fools to betting wildly on their favorite; but when the pippin's ripe it will be pulled. There's not the slightest reason for the existence of any personal ill will between these pugs—it's all in the play, and being bad actors they overdo the part of Termagant, do protest too much. It is quite noticeable that in the "big fights" nowadays nobody gets seriously bruised. It's easy enough to start the claret, and an ounce o' blood well smeared satisfies the crowd as well as a barrel. The result of the "fight" will be determined beforehand—as soon as the managers learn how they can scoop the most money. The best thing you can do with your ducats is to send them to me with instructions to bet them even that Bill McKinley's job will soon fit Bryan. The man who bets on the result of a prize-fight ought to have a guardian appointed.
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A Los Angeles, Cal., correspondent informs me that the editor of the Times of that town, who I trimmed up last month for permitting impudent coons to insult Southern white women through his columns, is named "Col." H. G. Otis, and that during the war he commanded a negro company. He also sends me the following extract from the alleged newspaper published by the ex-captain of the Darktown Paladins:
In considering the crimes of which some negroes are frequently guilty it should not be forgotten that these traits of violent sensuality are undoubtedly inherited from mothers and grandmothers who were subjected to the lust of their masters under the slavery system. In other words, the sins of the fathers are being visited upon their children to the third and fourth generation.
That is a vast improvement over the original statement published by Coon-Captain Otis to the effect that Southern white women seek black paramours, and that most lynchings are caused by the guilty parties getting caught. It is a matter of utter indifference to the ex-slaveholders what this calumnious little fice says about them, if he will but refrain from voiding his fetid rheum upon their families. Doubtless some slaveholders were degraded sensualists, but such were exceptions to the rule. Not one yaller nigger in a hundred is the child of its mother's old master. There were comparatively few mulattoes in the South before the war, most of these were the offspring of white overseers—and it is a notorious fact that a majority of our professional "nigger-drivers" were from the North. This is no reflection on the character of the Northern people—these fellows were simply the feculent scum, the excrementitious offscourings of civilization. And now I remember that a second-cousin of mine in Kentucky has an overseer from Ohio named Otis. A very thrifty and choleric man was my cousin, and considering a yaller nigger less valuable than a black one, he threatened to subject his overseer to a surgical operation if another half-breed pickaninny appeared on the place. I do wonder if this "Col." Otis—who knew so much about the management of coons that he was placed in command of a colored company—can be the same fellow; also what was the result of my relative's ultimatum? Can anybody in Los Angeles tell me what state this "Col." Otis came from, or send me a good picture of the ex-commander of coons?
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While the preachers were hustling out of the fever infected districts of Louisiana, the Sisters of Charity were hurrying in from points as far distant as San Francisco. And what were the A. P. Apes doing? They were standing afar off, pointing the finger of scorn at these angels of mercy and calling them "prostitutes of the priesthood." In this land every man has a perfect right to entertain such religious views as he likes; but those who defame women who cheerfully risk their lives for others' sake should be promptly shot. "By their fruits ye shall know them," says the Good Book; and while the Church of Rome is producing Good Samaritans to wrestle with the plague, the A. P. Ape is filling the penitentiaries. I care nothing for the apostolic pretensions of the Pope or the dogmas of the Priesthood; but I'm strongly tempted to make a few off-hand observations with a six-shooter should these papaphobes speak disrespectfully of the Sisters of Charity in my presence.
. . .
Justice Van Fleet of the supreme court of California recently rendered an opinion which indicates the utter emptiness of our boast that in this land all men are equal before the law. Because of the confusion or ignorance of a new motorman, the young child of a plumber, playing upon the track, was killed by an electric car. The parents sued the company and were awarded damages in the sum of six thousand dollars. Defendant took an appeal, which the supreme court sustained, and the cause was remanded on the ground that the damages awarded were excessive—that the boy would probably have followed his father's occupation, and an embryo workman is not, in Justice Van Fleet's opinion, worth so much money! Measured by this standard, what would have been the average "value" of American presidents when they were boys? Now that Justice Van Fleet is measuring human life solely by the gold standard, perhaps he can tell us what a juvenile Shakespeare or Webster is "worth." I have held to the opinion heretofore that blood could not be measured by boodle, that the children of the common people were of as much importance in the eye of the law as the progeny of the plutocrat—that the anguish of parents did not depend on the length of the purse; but Justice Van Fleet seems to agree with Kernan's weeping Canuck, that the more siller one has the more deeply he feels the loss of a son. He seems to need a powerful cardac for his heart and a hot mush poultice for his head, being as fine a combination of knave and fool, as one can easily find. Had the supreme court declared that the plaintiffs in the case were not entitled to a dollar I would heartily approve the opinion; but to measure the "value" of a son by the gain-getting capacity of its sire is simply monstrous. A statute should be enforced impartially, without regard to persons; but I should like to see the law so amended that people could not trade upon their tears, could not coin the blood of their relatives to fill their pockets. A child should not be considered a piece of property for which the accidental destroyer must PAY, just as a railway company must cough up the cash value of the cow it kills. As not one child in a thousand ever returns to its parents the cost of its rearing it cannot be urged that the plaintiffs in this case were pecuniarily damaged one penny. All they had to sell was "mental anguish," and that should never be made a merchantable commodity. We have criminal courts to deal with those who, through criminal negligence or otherwise occasion death. It may be argued that when the party killed has dependants for whom he or she is providing, the slayer should be compelled to make good the damage in so far as money can do it. I say NO—that if there be blood guiltiness let the offender be punished in accordance with our criminal code; if there be none then is he blameless, and to deprive a person of his property because of a harmless act is a crime. "But the dependants should be provided for." Certainly they should; but not through rank injustice to others. We are carrying entirely too far the theory that the principal is responsible for the acts of his agents. If the agent is guilty of criminal negligence he is punished by one law and his principal by another; if the agent blunders he is found not guilty and discharged, yet his principal is punished for being a co-partner in his innocence. It should not be forgotten that the agent of a private company is also a representative of that larger and more powerful corporation which we call the state. The private company can do no more than outline his duty and discharge him for dereliction; the public corporation not only prescribes his duty but imprisons or hangs him for neglect; the private company is itself but a creation of the state which exercises over it autocratic power while shirking responsibility. If I loosen a rail on the "Katy" road and cause the destruction of $100,000 worth of property the company must pocket the loss, notwithstanding the fact that it is paying the state for protection. If a dozen people are killed in the wreck the relatives of the last one of them will sue for damages and the state compel it to pay for its own failure to afford that protection to which it is clearly entitled. What then? Let the state issue life insurance at cost and compel every person who has dependants to carry a policy payable on the annual installment plan. For 5 or 6 cents a day it can, without loss, issue a policy to every man in America that will provide his family with the necessaries of life for at least ten years after his death, and the man who cannot pay that premium is worth precious little to anybody considered purely from an economic standpoint. If the state wants to bring damage suits for the slaughter of its citizens, well and good; but for God's sake let us get rid of the degrading spectacle of people hawking the corpses of their relatives through the courts.
A KANSAS CITY ARISTOCRAT.
I sometimes rejoice with an exceeding great joy and take something on myself that the ICONOCLAST is read by a million truth-loving Americans, as I am thereby enabled not only to make it uncomfortable for frauds and fakes, but to hold an occasional bypedal puppy up by the subsequent end that Scorn may sight him and stick her cold and clammy finger so far through his miserable carcass that Goliah might hang his helmet on the protruding point. Sometime ago I found America's meanest man in Massachusetts: I have just discovered the most contemptible of all God's creatures in Kansas City. Some may suppose that the first discovery excludes the last; but such forget that there is the same difference between cussedness and contemptibility that exists between the leopard and the louse, between a Cuban hurricane and the crapulous eructations of a chronic hoodlum. I want the world to take an attentive look at one Walter S. Halliwell, to make a labored perscrutation of this priorient social pewee, this arbiter eligantarium of corn-fed aristocracy, this Beau Brummel of the border, for though Argus had a compound microscope glued to his every eye he might never look upon the like again. He resembles a pigmy statue of Priapus carved out of a guano bed with a muck rake and smells like a maison d'joie after an Orange Society celebration of the Battle of the Boyne. Mr. Halliwell evidently has an idea rumbling round in his otherwise tenantless attic room that he's a Brahmin of the Brahmins, an aristocrat dead right, a goo-goo for your Klondyke galways, a Lady Vere de Vere in plug hat and "pants." He's the Ward McAllister of Kay-See, the model of the chappies, and traces his haughty lineage back in an unbroken line to the primordial anthropoid swinging by his prehensile tail to a limb of the Ash tree Ygdrasyl and playfully scratching the back of the hungry behemoth with the jawbone of an erstwhile ichthyosaurian. Walter S. Halliwell was born when quite young, where or why deponent saith not, and had gotten thus far on life's tow-path, absorbing such provender as he could come at, before I chanced to hear of him. As there be tides in the affairs of men which taken at the flood lead on to fortune, so there be waves which straddled at the proper time will bear a Halliwell on their niveous crest to the dizzy heights of fame, quicker'n the nictitation of a thomas-cat. Walter made connection with the climbing wave, and here he is, bumping the macrencephalic end of himself against the milky-way and affrighting the gibbous moon. His opportunity to make an immortal ass of himself, to earn catasterism and be placed among the stars as an equine udder, thus happened to hap: Kay-See was to have a "Karnival" modeled upon the pinchbeck rake with which Waco worked the gullible country folk once upon a time—when she so far forgot herself as to trade on womanly beauty to make it a bunco-steerer for her stores. The chief attraction wass to be a "Kween Karnation" and her maids of honor, the latter consisting of the most beautiful young ladies of the various Missouri towns. I presume that these fair blossoms were (or will be, for I know not the date of the brummagen blowout) paraded through the streets bedized in royal frippery to make a hoodlum holiday while the megalophanous huckster worked the perspiring mob with peanuts and soda pop, and the thrifty merchant marked his shopworn wares up 60 per cent, and sold them to confiding country men "at a tremendous sacrifice." I infer from the dispatches that Halliwell was made lord high executioner of the "Karnival"—at least accorded ample space in which to wildly wave his asinine ears. Miss Edna Whitney, described as being "one of the most beautiful young ladies of Chillicothe," was put forward by her friends as a candidate for the honor of representing that city at the royal court of "Kween Karnation," the citizens to determine the matter by a voting contest. Now Miss Whitney, while dowered with great beauty, popular and of good repute, is a working girl instead of a fashionable butterfly, being employed in a cigar factory. When it appeared certain that she would bear off the honor, the snobocracy of Chillicothe, furious at being "trun down" by a working girl, appealed to Halliwell to exclude her from the contest, and this miserable parody of God's masterpiece promptly wired that her business occupation was an insuperable barrier. How's that for a country boasting of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity"—its press and politicians ever prating of "the dignity of labor"! The contest, I'm told, was open to all "respectable young women"; but a working girl, though pure as the lily and fair as the rose, is not considered "respectable" by the would-be patricians of Corncob Corners and the grand panjandrum of the Kay-See Karnival! Working girls must not presume to be pretty or popular or enter into contests for holiday honors with the high-born daughters of successful swindlers, but will be kindly permitted by the lordly Halliwell to stand on the curb and see beauts who are only by the grace of boodle, roll by like triumphant Sylla on Fortune's bike. During the Saturnalia in ancient Rome the master acknowledged the brotherhood of man by ministering to his slave; but Kansas City, thanks to the omnipotent Halliwell, has cut the working class off from mankind—the hewers of wood and drawers of water are no longer considered human! Surely we are making rapid "progress"—are nearing that point in time when the working people will enter a protest against insult added to injury by tying a few bow-knots in the rubber necks of presumptuous parvenues. If it be a disgrace for a woman to work then is this nation in a very bad way, for few of us are the sons or daughters "of an hundred earls"—can go back more than a generation or two without finding a maternal ancestor blithely swinging the useful sad-iron or taking a vigorous fall out of the wash-tub. The parents of some of the wealthiest people of Kansas City, the bon-ton of the town, smelled of laundry soap, the curry-comb or night-soil cart. Some made themselves useful as hash- slingers in cheap boarding houses or chambermaids in livery stables, nursery maids or barbers, while others kept gambling dens, boozing-kens or even run variety dives. There is now a bright young woman working for a wealthy man in Kansas City for six dollars a week. The wife of her employer was once her mother's servant and laundered her infantile linen. The ex-servant, scarce able to read or write, ugly by nature and gross by instinct, is now a glorious star in Fashion's galaxy, while the child whose diapers she used to deodorize, compelled by poverty to accept employment, is socially ostracized. People of gentle blood—those who for many generations back have been educated men and cultured women, do not act as do Halliwell and the snobocrats of Chillicothe. These are giving a very exact imitation of people who lately came up from the social gutter, and it were interesting to know how far we would have to trace their "genealogical tree" before finding something much worse than a working woman. It is said that "three generations make a gentleman"; and if that be true there is some hope of Halliwell's great-grandsons—granting, of course, that the pusillanimous prig is not too epicene to provide himself with posterity. Day by day it becomes more evident that the purse-proud snobocracy of New York's old rat- catchers and sprat peddlers is fast getting a foothold in the West, that the social gulf between the House of Have and that of Have-Not, is steadily widening and deepening—that we have reached that point in national decay where gold suffices to "gild the straitened forehead of the fool," where WEALTH instead of WORTH" makes the man and want of it the fellow." Of course it is not to be expected that working girls, however worthy, will be generally carried on the visiting list of wealthy women, that their society will be sought by the followers of Fashion. None expect this, and few desire it. King Cophetua's beggar maid would have cut a sorry figure at court ere his favor raised her to fortune. For Cinderella to attend the Bradley-Martin ball clothed in rags would be embarrassing both to herself and the company. The woman who must work for a living has little time for the diversions of the wealthy; and is usually too proud to accept costly social courtesies which she cannot repay in kind. Society divides naturally into classes, dilettantism and pococurantism dawdling luxuriously here, labor at hand-grip with Destiny there. "Birds of a feather flock together," say the old copy-books, and Fortune gives to each such plumage as she pleases. Still, boodle does not map out all the social metes and bounds. It was said of old that every door opens to a golden key, but this is not altogether true. The honest working girl shuns the society of the wealthy wanton, and the stupid ignoramus, whatsoever his fortune, is accorded no seat at the symposiac—is blackballed by the brotherhood of brains. Imagine Goethe giving Richter the "marble heart" or Byron snubbing Burns because of his lowly birth! The world would be quick to rebuke their arrogance, would assure them that a singer was not esteemed for his siller, but for his song. In the carnival case it was a question of beauty not of boodle, of popularity instead of purses, and to exclude from the contest a candidate of the working class was to acknowledge her superiority and avenge defeat with brutal insult that would shame the crassest boor. The King of Syracuse was not ashamed to contend with the humblest for Olympian honors, nor the Emperor of Rome to measure swords with Thracian gladiators to prove his skill at arms. Ever does genius sympathize with folly and the truly learned with the unlettered; but Mammon "least erect of all the angelic host that fell from heaven," puts the mark of the beast on the brazen foreheads of all who bow down to his abominations. When working-girls are treated thus, what wonder that some of them become imbittered, discouraged, and go head-long to the devil—affording the wretched pharisees whose brutality wrought their ruin, an opportunity to "rescue" them and pose before the world as Christian philanthropists! What inducement has a young and beautiful woman to toil early and late for an honest livelihood when by so doing she forfeits the right to be called respectable—is flouted by even the paltry plutocracy of a country town and proclaimed a social pariah by such a headless phthirius pubis as Halliwell! If labor be no longer respectable wherein are our thousands of virtuous working girls superior to prostitutes? Clearly if the dictum of Halliwell be correct it were better for the daughter of poverty to regard her face as her fortune and hasten to sell herself—with approval of law and blessings of holy church—to some old duffer with ducats and be welcomed by the "hupper sukkle" as a bright and shining ornament. Or if no beducated old duffer can be come at, she might marry the first shiftless he-thing that offers itself and pick up a luxurious livelihood for her family among her gentlemen friends, as so many enterprising society women now do, and be "respectable" to her heart's content—even a devout church member and prominent in "rescue" work among fallen women. Somehow I cannot help wondering whether Halliwell's respectability be not due to some ancestor who was too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal. To the grand army of working women I would say, Be not discouraged by such gross affronts, prompted by splenetic hearts and spewed forth by empty heads. You may be flouted on the one hand by a few purse-proud parvenues and pitied on the other hand by bedizened prostitutes, but the great world, which learned long ago that the reptile as well as the eagle can reach the apex of the pyramid, estimates you at your true worth and binds upon your pure brows the victor's wreath, while ringing ever in your ears like a heavenly anthem are the words of Israel's wisest—"A good name is more precious than fine gold."
P.S.—Since the foregoing was put in print I have received Kansas City papers giving a fuller account of the affair, and it is in every way more miserable than I had imagined. Halliwell, who is bossee of the whole business, says he sent the telegram at the request of the board of lady managers of the flower parade—in other words, that, at the solicitation of a lot of snobby old females, he made even a greater ass of himself than nature had originally intended. Mrs. J. K. Cravens, chairman of the aforesaid board, denies that the ladies had anything to do with the matter, then flies into a towering passion "cusses out" the newspapers, figuratively speaking, rips her silk lingerie to ribbons, and otherwise conducts herself like a woman educated in a logging camp. I shall not attempt to decide the question of veracity between Halliwell and Mrs. Cravens, but that one is a mental vacuum and the other a ripsnortin' old virago is established beyond the peradventure of a doubt. Everybody connected with the Karnival is doing the Artful Dodger act to escape the withering storm of indignation which the pitiful episode called forth from the American people. The most encouraging feature of the whole affair is the withdrawal of several of Chillicothe's society girls from the contest because of the gratuitous insult tendered Miss Whitney in the Halliwell telegram, thus indicating that the old town's upper ten is not composed exclusively of pudding heads and parvenues.
* * * A PICTORIAL PAIN KILLER.
Puck is what the erstwhile Artemous Ward would call a "yewmerous" paper, and is published solely for the benefit of bad barbers. When you take your seat in the butcher's shambles he provides you with a copy of Puck because its jokes are so excruciatingly painful that it pulls your piligerous annex out with a stump-extractor and rubbed aqua fortis into your face with a bath brick, the physical ill would be forgotten in the mental agony. I never saw anybody but a barber purchase a copy of Puck not any son of Adam reading it outside a "tonsorial parlor." Should the Populists carry the country and barbers be tabooed Puck's mission on earth would be ended—unless it could persuade dentists to adopts it as an anaesthetic, and sheriffs to read it to condemned criminals to make them yearn for death. The last time I was shaved the razor pulled so dreadfully that I sought refuge in this pictorial pain-killer's editorial page. I there learned, much to my surprise, that the rise in the price of wheat had killed the silver cause; also that W. J. Bryan had "said, in that pose of easy omniscience for which he became remarkable, that 'a bushel of wheat and an ounce of silver were ordained by nature to become equal each to the other'—'wheat cannot rise unless silver rises.' " If W. J. Bryan said that, even in his salad days, he's a hopeless damphool, unfit to be pound-master, much less president; but I'll pay two-bits for incontestable evidence that he ever made such an idiotic remark. My private opinion is that the malice of Puck's mendacity is equalled only by its awkwardness. It is possible that its editor mistakes falsehood for fun. Or he may have heard somewhere the statement he parrots and really supposed it true, for a man capable of conducting so jejune a journal might easily believe anything. Another article in his paper says that Cardinal Wolsey managed all "Bluff King Hal" divorce business, while the fact is that his hostility to that feculent old tub of tallow's matrimonial crimes was the efficient cause of his downfall. As a historian Puck is about as reliable as Mark Twain's acerbic old sea captain; hence his asservations anent Bryan's utterances should be taken with considerable chloride of sodium. Every man who knows as much about political economy as a terrapin does of the Talmud is well aware that a rise in the price of one commodity simultaneous with the decline in price of another commodity has nothing whatever to do with the currency question. Those who cackle about a rise in wheat synchronously with the fall of silver make a very indecent exposure of their own ignorance. If I had a ten-year old boy who was such a hopeless idiot I'd drown him as not worth honest grub, then seek a surgeon and make sure that I'd never again inflict the world with progeny cursed with cretinism. Wheat went up and silver down, as Mr. Bryan recently explained to the satisfaction of every man possessing an ounce of brains, simply because the demand for the one was increased by foreign crop failures, the demand for the other decreased by Anglo-Cleveland skull-duggery. "Law of supply and demand," bawls Puck and all the other journalistic puppets of an impudent plutocracy. You miserable little hiccius doctius, do you expect to deceive an intelligent people with that kind of howl, while the trade in wheat is left untrammeled and the demand for silver arbitrarily limited by law? Suppose that while the world's wheat fields were producing abundantly the leading nations should prohibit their people purchasing any more of that cereal for food production; would any macrocephalous donkey ascribe the decline in the price of wheat to "the immutable law of supply and demand?" When silver is placed on an equality with all other commodities; when the people are permitted to freely employ it as they please, then will the natural law of supply and demand apply to the white metal, and New York editors cease to jabber financial nonsense with the stupid persistence of a poll-parrot praising its own personal pulchritude. The editor of Puck should avoid political economy as a subject a trifle too large for the knot on the end of his neck, and confine himself to his threadbare specialty, that of belittling the Jews with his watery wit and atribilarious art. The only funny thing I find in his paper is its solemn "notice to publishers" that all its raccous rot is copyrighted, that infringement will be "promptly and vigorously prosecuted." The editor who would steal from Puck would walk through Stringfellow's fruit farm to crib a wilted cabbage leaf from a blind cow. The best things in Puck scarce rise to the dignity of Slob Snots' milk-sick drivel in the Gal-Dal, while Texas has a hundred country editors pulling a Washington hand press and building stallion poster, who could write brighter things if they were drunk—or dead. "Promptly and vigorously prosecuted" O the devil! Why don't you say that you'll have any fool who attempts to father your hand-made yermer sent to an insane asylum to be treated for prolapsus of the intellect?
* * * MAN'S GUST FOR GORE.
Hon. Chas. P. Johnson has written for the Globe-Democrat an article that will doubtless receive the careful consideration of every sociologist, for he therein assumes that man's instincts are as brutal and bloody to-day as in those far times when, clad only in his "thick natural fell," and armed with a stone, he struggled for food with the wild beasts of the forest—that the prevalence of lynchings is not due to incompetency of our criminal courts, but to an alarming revival of savagery in man himself. He declares that our courts are more effective than ever before, but that Judge Lynch continues active without other cause than the inability of the people to restrain their murderous proclivities. He assures us that the entire suppression of the savage instinct is impossible by any civilization whatever, and adds that "its control and regulation is as difficult to-day as it has been at any period since the historical birth of man." Why this is so he does not directly say, but the following paragraph is significant:
"Perhaps the statesmanship which looks solely to the development of our material resources and the accumulation of wealth is overlooking the growth and development of many social vices which may yet engulf us in a vortex of anarchical passion or governmental revolution."
Thus Mr. Johnson endorses the position of the ICONOCLAST that the getting of gain should not constitute the sole aim of man; that society cannot long exist with self- interest for "sole nexus," as the French physiocrats would say—that the worship of Mammon is dragging us back to barbarism. It is quite true that man's savage instincts cannot be wholly eradicated; and it is likewise true that could you drain all the Berserker out of his blood he would sink to the level of an emasculated simian. A man in whom there's no latent savagery were equivalent to mint julep in which buttermilk were used as a succedaneum for bourbon. Life, we are told, is "a battle and a march," and an indispensable prerequisite for such stubborn work, call it by what name you will, is but a refinement of the barbaric gust for blood. Whether he be poet or philosopher, priest or prophet, it is the combative man—the man who would find a wild fierce joy in a bayonet charge—who wins new territory from the powers of Darkness and the Devil. Man IS a savage, and civilization but a cloak with which he covers his ferocity as best he can. If the cloak be scant—as with the Turk—or frayed by time—as with the Spaniard—we may expect to catch frequent and shocking glimpses of the predacious animal. But Mr. Johnson is mistaken in supposing that the lynchings of which he complains evidence an abnormal thirst for blood on the part of the American people. He says:
"As the masses of ancient Rome enjoyed the carnage of the amphi-theater; as the populace of Paris crowded with eager avidity around the guillotine to see the blood gush from the heads and trunks of the victims of the revolutionary tribunal; as the Spaniard in holiday attire followed over the plaza the procession and rapturously looked upon the execution of the wretches of the auto da fe; as in all ages the spirit of savagery has made men to enjoy scenes of suffering, brutality and death—so does the modern mob look with frenzied delight upon like exhibitions to-day."
For a man so erudite and earnest, Mr. Johnson comes painfully near being ridiculous. The evidence is ample that never since the first settlement of this country have the people found LESS pleasure in the effusion of blood and scenes of brutality. Instead of the savage instinct becoming dominant, we are fairly open to the charge of effeminacy, of super-estheticism. Our very sports are becoming namby pamby as those of the Bengalese, the element of danger which gave zest to them in auld lang syne being all but eliminated. Bear-baiting, cocking- mains, shin-kicking, bulldog-fighting, etc., all greatly enjoyed by the general public a generation or so ago, are now quite generally tabood. Many of us can remember when pugilism was practiced with bare-knuckles and every fight to a finish; it is practiced now with feather pillows "for points," and under police supervision. About the only game left us that is more dangerous than playing Presbyterian billards with an old maid from Boston is college football, and even that will soon be stripped of its vigor on the plea that it is barbarous. When our fathers quarreled they took a pot-shot at each other at ten paces; now disagreements involving even family honor are carried into the courts—the bloody Code Duello has been relegated to "innocuous desuetude." Texas is supposed by our Northern neighbors to be the "wurst ever," the most bloodthirsty place this side the Ottoman Empire; yet the Houston Post, leading paper of Harris county, is crying its poor self sick because some peripatetic Ananias intimated to an Eastern reporter that our wildest and wooliest cowboys would even think of shooting the pigtail off a Chinaman bowling along on a bike. Our governor earned the title of "heroic young Christian" by calling a special session of the legislature to prevent Prof. Fitzsimmons giving it to Prof. Corbett "in de slats" with a buggy cushion—was re-elected on the proposition that a boxing- match is "brutal"—which proves that our people are not ahunger and athirst for gore, do not yearn for the sickening scenes of the Roman amphitheatre, where holy virgins by turning their thumbs up or down, decided questions of life and death. "Bloodthirsty?" Good Lord! The average American would grow sick at the stomach if required to slaughter a pullet with which to regale the palate of his favorite preacher. During the past two decades we have practically become Quakers, and now suffer foreign powers to vent their rheum upon us and rub it in, because to maintain our dignity might precipitate a war, and bloodshed is so very brutal. Mr. Johnson seems to imagine that the usual method of procedure in Judge Lynch's court is for the mob to trample its victim to death, bray him in a mortar, kerosene him and set him on fire, then dance the carmagnole around his flaming carcass. This, I am pleased to remark, is simply a mid-day nightmare which should be subjected to hydropathic treatment, reinforced with cracked ice and bromo-seltzer. As a rule lynchings are conducted in quite as orderly and humane a manner as legal esecutions. It is true that cases have occurred, when the public patience had become exhausted by repeated offenses, or the crime committed was peculiarly atrocious, wherein respectable God-fearing men were seized with a murderous frenzy, and whole communities noted for their culture, united in torturing or burning at the state the object of their displeasure; but these were usually instances where failure to enforce the law was notorious, or it did not provide an adequate penalty. The courts imprison the man who steals a mule, or even a loaf of bread to feed a starving family. They hang the man who in a fit of rage of jealousy or drunken frenzy commits a homicide: they can do no more to the brutal buck negro who ravishes and murders a white babe—so Judge Lynch takes cognizance of his case and builds for him a beautiful bonfire; but the average lynching appeals no more strongly to the savage instincts of man than does a hanging by the sheriff. Then, it may be asked, why do lynchings occur. I have treated this subject at considerable length in former issues of the ICONOCLAST, hence will but recapitulate here and add a few observations suggested by Mr. Johnson's very able but sadly mistaken article. Lynchings occur because, whatsoever be the efficiency of our courts, they are a trifle shy of public confidence; because there are some offenses for which the statutes do not provide adequate penalties; because the people insist that when a heinous crime is committed punishment follow fast upon the offense instead of being delayed by a costly circumlocution office and perhaps altogether defeated by skillful attorneys—men ready to put their eloquence and tears on tap in the interest of worse criminals. I will not take issue with so distinguished an authority as Mr. Johnson regarding the competency of our courts to deal with criminals in accordance with the laws of the land; but the people see that despite the vigilance of officers, the erudition of judges and the industries of juries, murders multiply, rapes increase and portable property remains at the mercy of the marauder. If my memory of statistics does not mislead me, we have in the United States something like 10,000 homicides per annum, while every newspaper teems with accounts of robbery and rape. When we consider this in connection with the further fact that the courts continue to increase in cost—are already a veritable Old Man of the Sea about the neck of the Industrial Sinbad—can we wonder at the impatience of the people? But there is another feature which Mr. Johnson has quite overlooked in his vision of a brutal mob drunk with blood—like most lawyers, he stands too close to his subject to see more than one side, views it from beneath rather than from above. We set a higher value on human life than did our ancestors of the old dueling days. This may be called the Age of Woman—the era of her apothesis. She occupies a higher intellectual, social and political level than ever before in human history, and as she increases in importance crimes against her person assume more gravity. A generation ago such a thing as the criminal assault of a white woman by a negro was almost unknown, but now it is of every day occurrence; thus as womanhood becomes more sacred in our eyes it is subjected to fouler insult. Nor is this all: The American people are becoming every year more mercurial. The whole trend of our civilization—of our education, our business, even our religion—is to make us neurotic, excitable, impatient. In our cooler moments we enact laws expressive of mistaken mercy rather than of unflinching justice. Some of the states have even abolished capital punishment and in but one can a brute be tied up and whipped for the cowardly crime of wife-beating. We establish courts rather to acquit than to convict by disqualifying intelligence for jury service and enforcing the stupid unit rule. We provide convicts with comforts unknown to millions of honest working men and regard them as poor unfortunates to be "reformed rather than as malefactors to be punished. And when our misguided mercy has borne its legitimate fruit we take fire, curse the laws and the courts, seize and hang the offender, and have the satisfaction of knowing that there's one less monster alive in the land. Mr. Johnson suggests no remedy for what he regards as the evil of the age, and is therefore like unto the doctor who volunteers the entirely superfluous information that you "have a misery in your innards," but provides neither pill nor poultice. As Judge Lynch probably makes fewer mistakes than do the courts; as those he hangs usually deserve hemp and he renders no bill of costs to the country; and as the people are the creators and not the creatures of the courts, I am not particularly interested in his suppression, notwithstanding the fact that he seriously interferes with the material welfare of the professional juror and my lawyer friends. But were I duly ordained to perform that duty I would not begin by creating new deputies or calling out local militia companies to shoot down their neighbors and friends, to protect the miserable carcass of a rape-fiend. I would wipe out our entire penal code and frame a new one in which there would be no comfortable penitentiaries. If a man were found guilty of rape or homicide I'd promptly hang him, if of a less heinous offense I'd give him stripes proportionate to his crime and turn him loose to earn a livelihood and thus prevent his family becoming a public burden. For the second offense in crimes like forgery, perjury, theft, arson, etc., I'd resort to the rope. I would abolish fines in misdemeanor cases, thereby putting the rich and poor on a parity, and set the offenders in the stocks. I'd get rid of the costly delays which are the chief cause of lynchings, by elective jurors and the majority rule, by appointing one man well learned in the law to see that all the evidence was properly placed before the court, and advise the rest of the legal fraternity now making heaven and earth resound with their eloquence and weeping crocodile tears at so much per wope, that it were better to make two fat shoats flourish where one hazel- splitter pined in the hitherto, than to employ their talents and energies securing the conviction of the innocent and the aquittal of the guilty. By such a system almost any criminal case could be fairly tried in a couple of hours. If the defendant desired to appeal from the sentence of the court, instead of sending the case up to a higher tribunal thereby entailing heavy cost and vexatious delay, I would empanel a new jury then and there, composed of reputable citizens of the community, retry the case, and if the first verdict was confirmed, the sentence should be executed within the hour. The quicker the courts "get action" on an offender the more terror they inspire in the criminal classes and the better they please the people. If a murderer or rape-fiend captured at daylight could be fairly tried and executed by sundown Judge Lynch would speedily find himself without an occupation.
* * * A RIGHT ROYAL ROAST. THE ICONOCLAST MADE HARD TO CATCH.
Galveston, Tex., August 12, 1897. MR. W. C. BRANN:
In your editorial on the "Henry George Hoodoo," which appears in the August number of the ICONOCLAST, the following passage occurs: "It seems to me that I have treated the Single Taxers as fairly as they could ask, and if I now proceed to state a few plain truths about them and their faith they will have no just cause to complain." From the tone and tenor of these words it is fair to assume that in the editorial referred to you have discharged against the Single Taxers and their faith the heaviest broadsides of which your ordnance is capable. If, notwithstanding all the time you have wasted "crucifying the economic mooncalf" which has played such sad havoc with the wits of Single Taxers, it should turn out that the monstrous concept, far from being crucified, annihilated, or even "dying of its own accord," only gathers strength, energy, and renewed activity from the healthful exercise with which you provide it, must it not seem the part of prudence for you, even if occasion of regret for us, that you should abandon the war and leave the calf to his fate? Your belated and apparently desperate resolve to "tell some plain truths" about us, Single Taxers, justifies the inquiry, what were you telling before? The fact that it seems to yourself that you have treated Single Taxers fairly is not absolutely irrefragible proof that they have been so treated at least it has not brought conviction of the fact to them. That the offer of your space to Mr. George was courteously declined affords no just ground for refusing it to those "whose matin hymn and vesper prayer reads, there is no God but George," etc. I'll warrant you that if you and the Single Taxers had access on equal terms to a journal which neither controlled, and whose space both were bound to respect, you would not have to go outside the limits of your own state to find a dozen foemen worthy of your steel, and I'd stake my life on it that you'd find not a few to unhorse you. This is not claiming that any one of them, or all of them together, can come anywhere near you in the artistic manipulation of words or the construction of ear-tickling phrases; but it is claiming, and that without any false pretense of modesty, that they have yet seen no reason to fear you in rigidly logical argument when the Single Tax is the question at issue. Their cause is so palpably just, its underlying principle so transparently simple and elementary, its practical application so direct, feasible and efficient that no mere wizardry of words, no thimble-riggery or language, can by any possibility obscure the principle—or confuse the advocates. Of course there are among Single Taxers, as among other enthusiasts, men who indiscreetly use abuse for argument, and of these you may have some reason to complain; but should not your great talents and the immense advantages which the undisputed control of your own journal give you, enable you to rise above their abuse, to ignore it completely, and to grapple with only those who present you with argument? I have no right to expect from you more consideration than has been meted out to better men; still, you can but refuse this rejoinder to your August editorial, which is respectfully offered for publication in your journal. If you are quite sure of your ground, you can only gain strength from exposing my weakness, but even if you are not sure of it, both the requirements of simple justice and the amende honorable to Single Taxers would still plead for the publication of this article.
You say that Mr. George has obtained no standing of consequence in either politics or economics "because his teachings are violative of the public concept of truth." Do you really believe that the fact that he has obtained no standing of consequence in politics is in any way derogatory to his character or his teaching? Do you not know full well that a Bill Sykes, a Jonas Chuzzlewit, or a Mr. Montague Tigg would have a hundred chances to attain that distinction to-day to the one chance that Henry George, Vincent de Paul or even Jesus Christ would have? Don't you know this well, and if you do, why do you use it as an argument against Henry George? As to his standing in economics, that, I submit, is a matter of opinion. You think he has no standing of consequence; I think his teaching is the most active ferment in the economic thought of to-day. We may be both mistaken, but whether we are or not cuts no figure in the truth or falsity of the Single Tax. But it is worth while to point out that the reason you have given for his lack of "standing" lends neither weight nor force to your argument. "Because," you say, "his teachings are violative of the public concept of truth." When did the public concept of truth become the standard by which to test it? The public concept of the best form of money is, and has been for thousands of years, gold and silver coins. I am much mistaken if that be your concept. By the way, why did you not say "violative of truth," instead of "violative of the public concept," etc.? I guess you had an inward consciousness that a thing is not true or false by public concept, but by being inherently so. What Henry George taught was inherently true or false before he ever taught it, and would be so still if he had been never born. The only difference would be that so many of us who now bask in the blessed light of inward, if not of outward, freedom would, in that event, be still barking with the great blind multitude over every false trail along which blinder teachers might be leading them and us.
You admit that Mr. George is a polemic without a peer, and you say that "no other living man could have made so absurd a theory appear so plausible, deceived hundreds of abler men than himself." Surely there is something very faulty in the position you assume here. If what you say be so, how do you know that you are not yourself the victim of deception at the hands of some inferior? Or is it only men who have "gone daft on Single Tax" that possess the extraordinary power of leading abler men than themselves by the nose? Surely that were too much honor for an antagonist to concede to them. More surely still, if a man's intelligence is not proof against deception by inferiors in argument, he can never reach finality in a process of reasoning, and logical proof for him there is none.
"He mistakes the plausible for the actual and by his sophistry deceives himself." O pshaw! We all say things sometimes that just do for talk, but this hasn't even that poor excuse. I might just as well say, "He takes the conceivable for the supposable and by his logic enlightens himself. One statement would be as valuable as the other and neither would be worth a pinch of snuff. Come, let us argue with dignity and composure, like honest men sincerely searching after truth, and eager to lend a hand in abolishing this social Inferno of legalized robbery which fairly threatens to consume us all.
There is, you'll admit, such a thing as land value, i. e. value attaching to land irrespective of improvements made in or on it by private industry. This value arises from the presence of a community and can never actually exist without it. If the exclusive creator or producer of a thing is its rightful owner, land belongs to the community that creates or produces it, and can never, in the first instance, rightly belong to any other owner. The Single Tax is the taking of this value for this community. Is it just? The highest homage, the highest act of faith which the human mind and heart can offer to God is to say that He could not be God and pronounce the Single Tax unjust! Here now is a gage of battle cast at the feet of whoever wishes to take it up, be the same logician, metaphysician or theologian. (Pardon me, Mr. Brann, for momentarily turning aside from you.)
The justice of the Single Tax is beyond all question of refutation. What about its efficiency for the cure of social ills? Here, I think, is where we are widest apart. You say, "the unearned increment is already taken for public use under our present system of taxation." If by "unearned increment" you mean what I have defined as land value (and I think you do) your statement is the wildest and most astounding I ever heard or read from a sane man making an argument. Is it possible you have not learned that where all the land value is taken in taxation there can be no selling value? And where is the land to-day with a community settled upon it that has not selling value? If land value is already absorbed by taxation, what is it that goes to maintain landlordism? Perhaps you'll contend that landlordism doesn't exist. What value is it that a man pays for when he buys an unimproved lot in the heart of a city? What is it that the boomer booms and the land speculator gambles on when he adds acre to acre and lot to lot without any intention of productive use? What, if not the community value which he expects to attach to his land as a result of increase of population? And what advantage to him as a speculator would this community value be if, as you claim, it is now being absorbed in taxation and should continue to be so absorbed as fast as it arises? Do landlords in cities and towns retain for themselves only the rent of buildings and hand over to the government the full amount of their ground rents as tax? I know an old eye-sore of a building in this city not worth $150, whose occupant pays $100 a month rent. Do you seriously believe that all of this $1,200 a year which does not go to the city and state in taxes is rent on the old $150 rat-warren? Why, the thing is too childish for serious discussion; and to have discussed it with you without having been driven to it by yourself, I should have regarded as in the nature of a slight on your intelligence. If what you claim as a fact were true, we would have the Single Tax in full swing now and would be fretting ourselves to fiddle-strings, not to bring it about, but to get rid of it for its evil fruit.
As to whether the Single Tax, in full force, would provide enough revenue for municipal, county, state and federal governments, we, Single Taxers, are not greatly concerned. We have our own opinions on that question and can give better reasons for them than our opponents can give for theirs. But the question is not essential to our argument. What we hold to is that until land values fully taxed prove inadequate for the expenses of government economically administered, not one cent should be levied on labor products, no matter in whose possession found. This, however, belongs to the fiscal side of our reform. Of infinitely more importance is the social side. Here our end and aim is to secure to all the sons of Adam an equal right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness by securing to them an equal right in the bounties of nature—and passing strange it certainly is that men who would not dream of denying this right in the abstract are ever ready to anathematize it in the concrete.
With the Single Tax in force, that is, with the plain behest of nature observed and respected, no man will hold land out of use when, whether he uses it or not, he must pay to the community its annual value for the privilege of monopolizing it. No man will hold land for a rise in community value when that value is taken from him for the use of the community as fast as it arises. No man will need to mortgage his home and the earnings of his most vigorous years to a boomer or speculator for the privilege of living on the earth for there will be no boomer or speculator to sell him the privilege, and the privilege itself will have ceased to be such and become an indefeasible right.
"He (Mr. George) is a well-intentioned man who confidently believes he can make the poverty-stricken millions prosperous by revoking the taxes of the rich and increasing the burthens of the poor." Fie, fie! What is to be gained by such transparent, palpable misrepresentation as this? Do you verily believe that land values, which Mr. George proposes to tax, are mainly in possession of the poor? Did you not see—of course you did—a diagrammatic exhibit made not long ago by the New York Herald of the holdings of twenty New York real estate owners? Let me quote a passage from an article in the New York Journal on this exhibit:
"The reason 170 families own half of Manhattan Island, as stated in the Herald, and that 1,800,000 out of the two million residents of Manhattan Island, until very recently, had no interest whatever, except as renters, in this superb property, is because, until the last few years, it required a fortune to own the smallest separate parcel of this great estate. Only the rich could participate in its ownership, its income, its profits."
Now is it your view that all this is but clumsy lying, and that in reality it is the poor people of New York as of other large cities that own the bulk of its land values? Again you say, "He would equalize the conditions of Dives and Lazarus by removing the tax from the palace of the one and laying it upon the potato patch of the other." This statement is much more artistic than the preceding one. It wears a jaunty semblance of truth. Indeed it is true in a sense as far as it goes. But it is vague and incomplete, and for that reason as deceptive and misleading as half truths always are. With your permission I will fill it out in parenthesis and convert it into an honest whole truth: "He would equalize the conditions of (both freedom and justice for) Dives and Lazarus by removing the tax from the palace of the one (and from the labor products of the other) and laying it upon (the community value of the land occupied by the palace and) the potato patch of the other." Now, if the potato patches of the poor occupy, as a rule, more valuable land than the palaces of the rich, there might be some apparent ground for your contention. It would be only apparent, however, for in such a case the potato patch would be as much out of place as a public school on a wharf front. To devote highly valuable land to ordinary potato culture would be about as sensible as to print the Sunday edition of the Galveston News on costly linen paper. One of the virtues of the Single Tax is its potency to prevent such stupid waste of opportunity. Your way of stating the case, however, has this virtue that it is a welcome variation of the old wearisome chestnut about the poor widow owning a valuable lot, etc.
You believe Progress and Poverty inspired by the plutocracy, "250,000 of whom own 80 per cent. of the taxable wealth of the country, while the land is largely in possession of the great middle class." Passing over the source of the inspiration, you have come pretty close to the truth here! Unfortunately for you, however, the statement has no value in the argument. Single Taxers do not need to deny that the great middle class largely own the land, but they do claim, and you won't have the hardihood to deny it, that the plutocracy own the vast bulk of the land values. You will perceive the distinction when you reflect that the land is nearly all out in the country, while the land values are nearly all in the cities and towns. To tax land according to area is the bug-a-boo you are putting up your guards to; to tax it according to community value is what we invite you to smash if you can. You "cannot understand how a man possessed of common sense could fail to see that removing taxation from the class of property chiefly in the hands of the rich and placing it altogether on property chiefly in the hands of the comparatively poor, could fail to benefit the millionaire at the expense of the working man." Neither can I, if you tax it according to quantity, but that is not the Single Tax and it is time you knew it. Let me tell you now something that I can't understand—why a man who has the means and the ability to strike giant blows for the cause of the blind, stupid, plundered humanity prefers to waste his time, his talents, his opportunities making himself a straw man and, with that silly-looking thing for antagonist, belaboring all about him like a bull in a china shop. You sincerest well-wishers, of whom I claim to be one, earnestly hope you will soon change your tactics.
You ask some practical questions which it may be well to answer: "How will you prevent the Standard Oil Company forcing weaker concerns to the wall by the simple expedient of selling below cost of production?" The Standard Oil trust is maintained (1) by monopoly of oil lands; (2) by monopoly of pipe lines; (3) by collusion with railroads. The Single Tax and its corollaries would absolutely destroy each of these advantages; (1) by throwing unused oil lands open to all on equal terms; (2) by government ownership or complete control of pipe lines to all distributing points, such lines being open for use to all oil producers on equal terms; (3) by exactly analogous treatment of railroads. With the three-fold monopoly of oil lands, pipe line, and railroad abolished, the Standard Oil trust would find no wall against which to crush weaker concerns. As to the trust, we hope that the abolishment of the thieves' compact, i.e. the protective tariff, will make the trusts sick unto death. Absolute free trade, a necessary concomitant of the Single Tax, will leave 99 per cent. of the trusts stranded. If any survive it will not be the fault of the Single Tax. Be it remembered that the evils which the Single Tax is guaranteed to cure are, primarily, land monopoly, and, secondarily, all the other monopolies based upon it; as those of the coal, iron and lumber trust, the Standard Oil trust, etc.
"With coal fields leased to the operators by Uncle Sam, how would you prevent Hanna organizing a pool, limiting production, raising prices and reducing wages?" Coal fields are included in the economic term, land. When unused land is free for occupancy, unused coal fields will also be free. If Mark sought to limit production by shutting down his mines, one of two things would happen. Either somebody else would start in to mine coal, or Mark's tax would be raised till the wisdom of either letting go or resuming would dawn on his fat wits. Unless he owned or controlled the coal fields he could not limit production, raise prices, or cut down wages. "How will you prevent the Standard Oil company forcing weaker concerns to the wall by the simple expedient of selling below cost of production?" We wouldn't prevent them. But if they afterwards tried to recoup their losses by raising prices as they do now, we might get after them with a tax commensurate with their asinine generosity, and keep after them till other concerns got well on their feet. If they became too refractory, what's to prevent the government from taking hold itself and working the oil wells for the benefit of the whole people? Remember the government is theoretically the people's servant, and it could be actually so if the people only had a little intelligence and moral courage.
You very needlessly tell your Ft. Hamilton friend that land is the primal source of all wealth; that it does not produce wealth, but simply affords man an opportunity to produce it; you forgot to add—provided the landlord doesn't prevent him. You say in another place, "Figure it as you will, adjust it as you may, a tax is a fine on industry and will so remain until you get blood from turnips," etc. This very objection in protean form is continually being raised by a class of shallow-thinking men with whom the editor of the ICONOCLAST should not be proud to herd. "What difference docs it make," they say, "whether I pay rent to the government or to a landlord when I've got to pay it anyhow? And what difference does it make whether taxes are levied on my land or my improvements, or both, so long as I've got to pay them with the products of my labor?"
Now, it is quite true that all taxes of whatever nature are paid out of the products of labor. But must they be for that reason a tax on labor products. Let us see. I suppose you won't deny that a unit of labor applies to different kinds of land will give very different results. Suppose that a unit of labor produces on A's land 4, on B's 3, on C's 2 and on D's 1. A's land is the most, and D's is the least, productive land in use in the community to which they belong. B's and C's represent intermediate grades. Suppose each occupies the best land that was open to him when he entered into possession. Now, B, and C, and D have just as good a right to the use of the best land as A had. Manifestly then, if this be the whole story, there cannot be equality of opportunity where a unit of labor produces such different results, all other things being equal except the land. How is this equality to be secured? There is but one possible way. Each must surrender for the common use of all, himself included, whatever advantages accrues to him from the possession of land superior to that which falls to the lot of him who occupies the poorest. In the case stated, what the unit of labor produces for D, is what it should produce for A, B and C, if these are not to have an advantage of natural opportunity over D. Hence equity is secured when A pays 3, D, 2 and C, 1 into a common fund for the common use of all—to be expended, say in digging a well, making a road or bridge, building a school, or other public utility. Is it not manifest that here the tax which A, B and C pay into a common fund, and from which D is exempt, is not a tax on their labor products (though paid out of them) but a tax on the superior advantage which they enjoy over D, and to which D has just as good a right as any of them. The result of this arrangement is that each takes up as much of the best land open to him as he can put to gainful use, and what he cannot so use he leaves open for the next. Moreover, he is at no disadvantage with the rest who have come in ahead of him, for they provide for him, in proportion to their respective advantages, those public utilities which invariably arise wherever men live in communities. Of course he will in turn hold to those who come later the same relation that those who came earlier held to him. Suppose now that taxes had been levied on labor products instead of land; all that any land-holder would have to do to avoid the tax is to produce little or nothing. He could just squat on his land, neither using it himself nor letting others use it, but he would not stop at this, for he would grab to the last acre all that he could possibly get hold of. Each of the others would do the same in turn, with the sure result that by and by, E, F and G would find no land left for them on which they might make a living. So they would have to hire their labor to those who had already monopolized the land, or else buy or rent a piece of land from them. Behold now the devil of landlordism getting his hoof on God's handiwork! Exit justice, freedom, social peace and plenty. Enter robbery, slavery, social discontent, consuming grief, riotous but unearned wealth, degrading pauperism, crime breeding, want, the beggar's whine, and the tyrant's iron heel. And how did it all come about? By the simple expedient of taxing labor products in order that precious landlordism might laugh and grow fat on the bovine stupidity of the community that contributes its own land values toward its own enslavement! And yet men vacuously ask, "What difference does it make?" O tempora! O mores! To be as plain as is necessary, it makes this four-fold difference. First, it robs the community of its land values; second, it robs labor of its wages in the name of taxation; third, it sustains and fosters landlordism, a most conspicuously damnable difference; fourth, it exhibits willing workers in enforced idleness; beholding their families in want on the one hand, and unused land that would yield them abundance on the other. This last is a difference that cries to heaven for vengeance, and if it does not always cry in vain, will W. C. Brann be able to draw his robe close around him and with a good conscience exclaim, "It's none of my fault; I am not my brother's keeper."