The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close of th

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:45 am

Part 2 of 2

He was not to be checked in his mad career. Ever-new rocks did he find, out of which he smote the waters of his theories. Interrupted, he digressed, came to another subject, and without hesitation tore off the veil, putting to flight any ray of a possible hope of slow improvement, strangling every idea of peaceable reform, burying it under the burden of his impeachments... Then, when he had enveloped his hearers in the shadows of his despair, he whispered, stepping before them, the one word: “Revolution!” and left them alone in the night with this single star... So he had become the agitator whose words had always been most effective when born of the moment. Better than any one else Trupp knew how to break the lethargy of indifference, to kindle discontent, to awaken hatred and revolt. Therefore his work among the indifferent was always successful. He was not an organizer. So he avoided the clubs more and more. He liked to get out of the way of discussions. He did not know how to convince. When the rapture and the enthusiasm of the hour had fled, — in the dull monotony of the following day which made the struggle appear useless, the victory hopeless, — many of those whom he had carried away were seized anew and more powerfully by the gloomy feeling of the vanity of all effort, which snapped asunder the drawn chord of hope. He could point the way; he could not take the lead.

When Auban interrupted him, his feverish spirit seized upon another side of the conversation. He told of the children of this misery who are born in this and die in yonder corner, more than thirty in a hundred, before passing their first year, missed by no one, hardly known by their own mothers, never dressed, never enough to eat; of the fortunate ones who are spared a life of uncertainty, the slow death of starvation; of the high prices the poor must pay for everything they need — four, five shillings weekly rent to the landlord for the hole of a room alone, while the earnings of the whole family do not amount to ten, twelve; of the comparatively high school money which they are compelled to pay for their children, whom they need so much to help add a few pence weekly to their earnings; of their complete helplessness in all things, at the death of their relatives, for instance. Of late, dark rumors of frightful occurrences had reached the public, so impossible that everybody regarded them as the abortion of a distempered brain, of a sensational imagination. They were based on facts. Trupp confirmed them.

It was not a very uncommon thing for corpses to remain unburied for days in the same room where the rest of the family lived day and night.

“When I came here,” said Trupp, “a young man of about twenty had died. Of a fever; I think scarlet fever. At any rate, his disease was contagious. The husband was out of work; the wife consumptive. She coughed the whole day. They had four children; but the second, a girl, came home only when she found no other shelter. She and her brother were the only ones who occasionally brought something into the house. Besides, there is the old insane mother of the wife, who never leaves her corner in the room. Well, the son died. He had been ill eight days. Of course, no care, no physician, no food. The corpse remained on the same spot on which the sick boy had died. No one touched it. Instead of looking after work, the man ran a whole day from one magistrate to another. He was referred from one district to another; one had no cemetery, to the other he did not belong. He was a foreigner, could not easily make himself understood — in short, the body remained where it was, without a coffin, unburied. After three days, people in the house began to talk about the matter; after five, the stench came through the cracks of the door; after seven, it had grown so intolerable that the neighbors in the adjoining rooms revolted; only after eight days a policeman heard about the matter, and on the ninth finally, the corpse, in the last stage of putrefaction, was taken away! The papers published no reports about it. And why should they? It is all useless, anyway. — Nine days! That is easily told, but no imagination can in reality paint the picture of that room!”

He ceased for a moment. Auban was cold. He drew his cloak more closely round him, and looked at the light which was going out.

But Trupp had not yet finished. “Sometimes they throw a corpse into a corner of the yard, let what will become of it. Not far from here is a street, which is inhabited by thieves, pimps, murderers, rabble of the first order. There are crowds of children there. When one of them died recently, it was left where it lay. No one claimed it. Who the parents were no one knew. The woman who lived yonder told me of another case. Up there — above us — lives a drunkard. He has a wife and seven children. The woman works for the whole family. Recently one of the children died — of that dreadful disease for which science has no name, ‘slow exhaustion, in consequence of insufficient nourishment’ — do not the newspaper reports usually call it so? The woman takes her very last thing to the pawnshop, only to be able to buy a coffin and a few green branches. But before she can get enough together a few days pass. One evening the husband comes home; of course, completely drunk. The coffin is in his way. He takes it and throws it, with the corpse, through the window of the third story. The following day the women almost killed the man; but over their gin the men laughed about the ‘smart fellow.’ Such is East End life.”

Auban rose.

“Enough, Otto,” he said. “Can you show me the street of which you just spoke?”

“Now? — I guess not! We should not get away again with a whole skin.”

“Then let us go.” As they stood by the door, he looked Trupp in the eye. “You will surely not continue to live here?”

“Why not? — Am I perhaps better? Have I earned more than those poor? — One more or less matters nothing.”

“Yes, it does. One less in filth is always better than one more.” ...

As they stood in the narrow entry, the door opposite was opened. A thin streak of light faintly illumined the passage, and showed the person emerging to be a young woman. She muttered something as she saw Trupp. It sounded like an entreaty, and she pointed to the room. A suffocating, musty, corrupted vapor met the men as they approached — the vapor of clothing that had never been aired, of decaying straw, spoiling food, mixed and impregnated with the miasms of loathsome diseases produced by that uncleanliness which covered everything, — the walls, the floor, the windows. In the cloud of vapor which, despite the cold, warmed the room that could not be heated, a bed was distinguishable which took up the whole length of a wall. On this bed rose a figure that would surely not have been regarded as a human being if it had not hurled towards the door a flood of incoherent abuse: his face entirely disfigured by vice, disease, drunkenness, his head bound up by a dirty, blood-soaked rag, emaciated, his exhausted limbs hardly covered by rags, the man resembled more a dead than a living person. He fell back with a rattling sound, exhausted by the exertion of his aimless wrath. Trupp spoke to the woman. Auban only heard that it was a case of taking the sick man to the hospital, — the paradise of poverty. He felt tired and stupefied, and walked ahead. Trupp soon followed. He had to lead his friend by the arm, so full of holes was the creaking floor of the passage, so worn out the stone flagging of the stairs. “That is also one of those whom the police can take to the poorhouse every day — they have ‘no visible means of existence’! They are terribly afraid of it,” said Trupp.

The lighted yard was deserted as before. One might have believed that all those houses enclosing it were uninhabited, it was so still; there was no sign of life.

“It is always so,” said Trupp. “During the day the children are never noisy in their play.”

There was a group of people at the corner of the next street. They were talking together in a lively manner. Some of them were evidently very much excited. As Auban and Trupp drew nearer, a woman came toward them. She was screaming for a physician. The crowd readily made way for them. They passed through a gateway. A yard, half dark, narrow, dirty, lay before them. Here also was a group of men and women, with children clinging to them. In regular paces, two policemen were walking up and down, as far as the space permitted.

Auban was about to turn back again, when his eyes fell on a lantern which stood on the ground, and cast a dull light on a heap of straw, on which lay a human form. No one hindered him as he stepped closer. The people standing round crowded forward; the policemen paced up and down. Auban was taken for a physician. The corpse lying before them was that of a man of about fifty. It lay on the back, the arms half stretched out and hanging down on both sides, the open eyes turned upwards. The body of the dead man was covered only by a long, black coat. It was open and lay against the naked flesh, with the collar drawn up and enclosing the neck. From his tattered, dirty, and threadbare black trousers, his naked feet protruded, covered by blue frost-marks and filth. His worn silk hat with a ragged rim had rolled away. His unkempt gray hair had fallen over his forehead; the left hand of the dead man was clenched.

Auban bent over him. The body was frightfully emaciated: the ribs of his chest protruded sharply; the joints of his hands and feet were so narrow that a boy’s hand might have encircled them. His cheeks were fallen in, and his cheek-bones stood out prominently; his nose was sharp and thin; his lips entirely bloodless, and a little opened as if in pain; the projecting teeth apparently in good condition. The temples and the region of the throat were deeply sunken — the corpse appeared as if it had been lying for months in a dry place, so thin and tight the yellowish skin covered the bones.

Auban looked up to the policeman who was standing beside him.

“Starved?” he asked in a low voice.

The policeman nodded, stolid and indifferent. — Starved! A thrill of excitement ran through the crowd standing round, who had noiselessly followed every movement of Auban. The word passed from lip to lip, and each spoke it in a different tone of fear and horror, as if each had heard his own death sentence. The children clung more closely to the women, these more closely to the men. A young fellow uttered a scornful, loud cry; he was pushed away. The whole group was thus set into commotion. They jostled each other: each wished to cast a glance at the dead man.

The policemen resumed their walk, occasionally casting a scrutinizing look at some individual in the crowd.

Auban had risen from his kneeling position. The hand of the dead man had fallen back flaccidly after he had raised it. There was no longer a trace of life in the lifeless body.

As he was about to turn, he suddenly felt Trupp’s iron grasp on his arm. He looked up and saw a thoroughly troubled face. Trupp’s eyes were fixed upon the dead man in rigid fright and speechless amazement, as if he recalled to him some dreadful memory.

“Do you know him?” asked Auban.

Trupp made no answer. He steadily gazed at the corpse.

The dead man lay before them, and it suddenly seemed not only to Trupp, but also to Auban, as if a last ray of life were returning into his broken eyes, and as if they were now telling in silent speech for the last time the history of their life: the history of a descent from high to low...

Trupp pulled his friend away, startled from his thoughts. The crowd looked after them in dull expectation, as they still believed Auban to be a physician. Only the two policemen continued pacing up and down, unconcerned: presently an officer would come with a wagon, and tomorrow the dead would lie on the marble slab of a dissecting-table...

On the street Trupp said rapidly, with a voice still choked with fear: —

“I saw him — once — it was four weeks ago — in Fleet Street... He was coming down that street — towards me — just as he lay there: without shoes, without a shirt, but with a tall hat and black gloves. The sight of him was not ridiculous; on the contrary, it was frightful. He looked like death personified — emaciated like a skeleton — like a shadow! — so he slunk along the wall, looking straight ahead, observing no one and unobserved by any. — My feeling told me I should not do it; but I recognized hunger, and so I went up to him and asked him something. He did not understand me. I doubt if he heard me at all. But when I gave him a shilling, he cast a glance on the money, then one on me as if he wanted to strangle me on the spot, and flung what I had given him — my last shilling — to the next street urchin. — I was of course so astonished that I let him go...”

Auban shook his head.

“Is it really the same man?”

“Could we forget that face after we have once seen it?”

Auban remained silent. It was a strange coincidence, but it was not impossible. Trupp might be mistaken. But Auban did not himself believe that he was under a delusion.

He too was greatly agitated. That face — no, one could not forget it after having once seen it. But sadder than the bloodless cheeks and the reproachful eyes had been to him the emaciation of those enfeebled, completely exhausted, famished limbs. Hunger must have labored long and patiently before death could extinguish the blazing flames of that life! ...

Weeks ago passing all ordeals through the strength of pride, it succumbed only to-day; he had retreated into a corner, the dirtiest, most hidden of all — there, unseen by any of those millions, he had broken down; there, unheard by any, he had breathed his last sigh, — tired, perplexed, stupefied, sick, despairing, he had — starved!

“Starved! ... Starved! ... Starved! ...”

Again and again Trupp muttered that word to himself.

Then aloud to Auban: —

“To see that we had indeed not expected! — Look, how everything justifies me! But the vengeance we shall take will efface everything!”

“Except folly,” thought Auban. But of course he did not say it now.

“There can be no blame: what has the blind done that he is blind? — Only folly, folly everywhere — yes, and it will take a terrible revenge! ...”

Suddenly they stood at the entrance to the large, broad living stream of Whitechapel Road.

They had been walking till now without knowing where. Absorbed in what they had seen, they forgot all else. Now they were startled by the light that suddenly flooded them. They looked about. Everything was as it had been two hours ago. Again the lights! Again life, flowing, rushing life, ever and ever again conquering life after the terrors of death!

“To the club!” said Auban. It was the first word that he spoke. He was tired, hungry, but outwardly and inwardly calm, congealed as it were. Trupp was neither thirsty nor exhausted. While he changed his course with the confidence of habit and crossed Commercial Road, he looked before him gloomily, apparently cold, but stirred by indignation, tortured by a dull pain.

They had only a few minutes more to walk. A street lay before them, enveloped in the darkness of the evening, illumined by not a single light. It was Berner Street, E.C. The houses ran into one another; doors and windows were hardly to be distinguished in the shadows of the night. Only one well acquainted here could have found a given house. Auban felt his way with his cane rather than walked.

Here was located the club of the Jewish revolutionists of the East End. Trupp stood before the door and pulled the iron knocker. It was opened at once. Heads emerged from a room on the right, friendly hands were extended to Trupp when he was recognized. Auban saw with what pleasure he grasped the hands and shook them again and again. He himself had not been here for a year. He doubted whether he would see any familiar faces. But he had hardly mingled with the lively groups which filled the small low rooms of the basement, some standing, some sitting round the tables and on the benches, when he felt a hand upon his shoulder and looked into the face of an old comrade whom he had not seen for years, not since his years of storm and stress in Paris.



Memories flew up like a flock of birds whose cage is suddenly opened by the hand of accident.

Except the “Morgenröthe,” the third section of the old Communistic Workingmen’s Educational Society, the “International Workingmen’s Club” was the only club of revolutionary Socialists in the East End. The members, about two hundred of them, consisted mostly of Russian and Polish immigrants. The whole of Whitechapel, which for the most part was inhabited by their countrymen, constituted their wide field of propagandism.

Auban asked his friend to translate for him portions of the paper which the club published weekly at a great sacrifice, assisted by no one, bitterly hated and persecuted by the wealthy Jews of the West End (who once even succeeded by bribery in temporarily suppressing the paper). It was called “The Worker’s Friend,” and was printed with Hebrew letters in that queer mixture of the Polish, German, and English idiom, which is chiefly spoken by the Polish emigrants and understood only with difficulty by others.

Trupp was in the midst of a group of lively talking people. They asked him to speak. He evidently had no desire to. But he consented, and followed them to the upper hall, after he had hastily drunk a glass of beer.

Auban remained sitting, and ordered something to eat. The acquaintance who had recognized him overwhelmed him with questions. They learned many things from each other: one of their friends had been cast ashore here, another there, by the great, mighty wave of the movement. In the course of those few years everything had been moved out of its position, had changed, had taken on a new aspect.

Auban grew more serious than he had been. He felt again the whirr of the wheel rolling on and on, the tramp of the crushing footstep that had also passed over him... No sword was any longer suspended above him. He no longer feared anything, since he battled only for himself. But still the drops of pain were flowing from the scars of his iron heart.

They talked of their former friends. One of them had been shown up as a decoy? Was it possible? None of them would have thought that. “He was a scoundrel.”

“Perhaps he was only unfortunate,” suggested Auban. But the other would not hear of that.

Thus they talked together for an hour.

Then they ascended the narrow stairs to the hall, which was completely packed with people. It was of medium size and held hardly more than a hundred and fifty persons. Plain benches without backs stretched through it crosswise and along the walls. Everywhere extreme poverty, but everywhere also the endeavor to overcome poverty. On the walls hung a number of portraits: Marx, Proudhon, Lassalle overthrowing the golden calf of capitalism; a cartoon in a black frame: “Mrs. Grundy” — the stingy, greedy, envious bourgeoisie, which, laden with treasures of all sorts, refuses the starving the pittance of a penny...

At the front the room was enclosed by a small stage. There Trupp was standing beside the table of the chairman. He spoke in German. Auban pushed a little forward to see him. He could understand only a few words; he could hardly guess what he was saying. Was he telling of his experiences that evening? ... Auban felt the tremendous passion flooding the meeting in hot waves from that point. Breathless, anxious not to lose a single word, they hung on the lips of the speaker. An electric thrill passed through those young people, hardly out of their teens; those women tired and crushed by the burden of their ceaseless toil; those men who, torn away from their native soil, had found each other here doubly and trebly disappointed. Rarely had Auban seen such devotion, such burning interest, such glowing enthusiasm as shone from those faces. He knew them. Questions that among the children of the West would have at most formed matter for calm, indifferent interchange of opinion, were discussed here as if life and death depended on them; in contrast with their own sorrowful, depressed, narrow life only the ideal of paradise! Nothing else! Highest perfection in Communism: above all, peace, fraternity, equality! Christians, idealists, dreamers, fools — such were those Jewish revolutionists of the East End — step-children of reason, banner-bearers of enthusiasm.

Trupp closed. They were preparing for the discussion.

“Be egoists!” Auban would like to have shouted at them. “Be egoists! Egoism is the only weapon against the egoism of your co-religionist exploiters; there is no other. Use it: cool, determined, superior, calm, and you are the victors!”

But he did not express his thoughts. The time when he himself, inspired and inspiring, had stood by the surging waves of excited masses had been followed by years of study. His course included but one study: men. Since he understood them, he knew that the effect of the spoken word is the greater, the more general, the more ideal it is, the farther it goes to meet the vague desires of the heart. It is the phrase that is everywhere received with wild joy by the crowds; the clear, sober word of reason, stripped of tinsel, addressing itself to individual interests, denying all moral commands of duty, dies away without being understood, and without effect.

Had not that been brought home again to him only last Sunday?

Therefore, if he should speak to-day, he would again reap only misunderstanding, instead of joyful applause.

The discussion was in full swing. Almost everyone who approached the speaker’s table spoke with the most glowing zeal to convince, to persuade: not a word was lost.

Trupp retreated to the background of the hall. There he was again surrounded on all sides. They wished to be enlightened on this or that point of his speech. He replied to each. — Auban had sat down. His acquaintance had left him. He did not understand a word. He saw the excited faces that hovered about him through a thin veil of tobacco smoke.

“To-day flaming enthusiasm, tomorrow sobering up and discouragement... To-day Haymarket, tomorrow the gallows... To-day revolution, tomorrow a new illusion and its old authority!” he thought.

Trupp asked him if he would go with him to the “Morgenröthe.” There was a meeting at that place, and he wished to speak there also. Auban let him go alone.

The workingmen’s Marseillaise was sung. The gathering began to break up. The crowd mingled together.

A tall, broad-shouldered German comrade, with a blonde beard and hair, his glass in his hand, with his head raised, sang in a clear, firm voice, giving the keynote, as it were, the first stanza of the song over the heads of the others: —

Wohlan, wer Recht und Freiheit achtet,
Zu unserer Fahne steht zu Hanf!
Ob uns die Lüge noch umnachtet,
Bald steigt der Morgen hell herauf!
Ein schwerer Kampf ist’s, den wir wagen,
Zahllos ist unserer Feinde Schaar —
Doch ob wie Flammen die Gefahr
Mög’ ülber uns zusammenschlagen,
Tod jeder Tyrannei!
Die Arbeit werde frei!
Marsch, marsch,
Marsch, marsch!
Und wär’s zum Tod!
Denn unsere Fahn’ ist roth!

All joined in the refrain.

Auban hummed the French words of the Marseillaise... How many times already had he heard it, how many times already joined in singing it? In hope, in revolt, in despair, in the confidence of victory? Who had not already sung it?

Auban chanced to see how the eyes of a young man — he was evidently a Pole or a Russian — were suspiciously resting on his strange form. He could not help smiling.

Should he tell him who he was? — They did not know him any more. But still the mere mention of his name would have sufficed to at once put to flight all doubt and suspicion.

But he refrained from doing it. He looked at his watch: he must not stay much longer, if he still wished to catch the last train of the underground road for King’s Cross at Aldgate.

He went. They had reached the closing stanza of the song. They sang: —

Tod jeder Tyrannei!
Die Arbeit werde frei!
Marsch, marsch,
Marsch, marsch!
Und wär’s zum Tod.!
Denn unsere Fahn’ ist roth!
Denn unsere — Fahn’ ist — roth!
Denn unsere — Fahn’ — ist — roth!

Auban stood on the street. It was pitch dark. With difficulty he felt his way to where the great streets converged. But before he had yet reached the first gaslights, an enormous building suddenly rose before him in the darkness: in four rows, one above the other, twelve, fourteen, twenty brightly illuminated windows... It was one of the large factories of which there are from forty to fifty in every parish of the East End of London. Was it a silk factory? Auban did not know.

That building, ugly, coarse, ridiculous in shape, a four-cornered monstrosity with a hundred red, glowing eyes, with the flitting shadows of human forms and the gigantic limbs of the machinery behind them, was it not the glaring symbol of the age, the characteristic embodiment of its essential spirit: industry?

The culmination of the evening was reached when Auban stood again on the spot where the two giant streets converge. Already here and there excessive fatigue was beginning to merge in the stillness of Sunday. Soon the public houses were to close. More and more the people constituting the great stream of humanity were disappearing in the side-streets.

But still the throng was almost impenetrable. In feverish haste most of them drained the last flat drops of the flat drink of their Saturday spree.

Aldgate could be reached in less than five minutes. There was still half an hour for Auban before the last train of the underground road for King’s Cross would leave Aldgate Station, and overcome by an inward force against which he was helpless, he turned once more into one of the northern side-streets, into a night full of peculiar mystery...

Only a few lanterns were still burning here, only few people passed by him. Then he came upon streets running crosswise. He turned toward the west.

He passed a group of young people. They were carrying on a dispute in a low voice, in order not to attract the attention of a policeman, and took no notice of Auban. He kept close to the wall.

A light shone from a grated window. He stopped and looked through the dirt-covered panes. It was the kitchen, the common kitchen of a lodging-house which he saw, the common waiting-room for all frequenters before they retire to the sleeping-place rented for one night.

The room was overcrowded. More than seventy persons must have been there; they lay, sat, and stood around in smaller and larger groups: some cowered in the corners. A large number thronged round the fireplace. There they prepared their food, — tea, a bit of fish, the remains of meat. Each was awaiting his turn. As soon as one made room by the fire, another took his place. The spare fire did not give out much heat, for many were cold in their rags and crowded closely together.

There was only one table in the middle of the room. Bent over it, head beside head, most of them were already asleep in confused disorder, — men, women, and children together. Only a few ate there, and on the narrow benches along the walls. But the table was strewn with dirty tin dishes, — cups, bowls, plates, — which the exhausted ones had pushed away before sleep overcame them. The floor was covered with refuse of every kind; children who had slipped away from the laps of their sleeping mothers crept round like little blind dogs.

The faint glimmer of the embers hardly illumined the room. Two smoking lamps on the walls were going out.

Nothing that he had seen to-day, nothing that he had ever seen in the East End, had made a deeper impression on Auban than the silent, gloomy, dismal picture of that room.

Was it the late hour that was having its effect on him? Was it his overheated brain, exhausted by long hours of exertion, which produced that abortion? Or did that which he had so often seen come close to him now that he was alone: this night scene of the abandoned life of the outcasts?

He held his breath while he penetrated every corner of the picture with his eyes.

No imagination could have fancied a more disconsolate room, and in it a more grotesque grouping, than was presented here: the white-haired old man, whose cane had dropped from his hand while he fell asleep with his head bent forward; the young girl who was staring before her while her pimp covered her with abuse; that entire family forming a group: the father evidently out of work, and the mother in despair over their situation, quieting the children who were quarrelling about a broken dish; those sleeping rows — they seemed as if dead...

And above them all the gloomy cloud of eternal filth and eternal hunger. No longer any joy, any charm, any hope ... thus day after day ... thus night after night...

Auban forcibly tore himself away from the picture without color, without outline, without tone.

He knew those lodging-houses where one found shelter for single nights. But white letters on the red walls gave the additional information: threepence, fourpence, and sixpence a night. For sixpence — those were the “chambers” where one got his own bed, whose linen was changed once at least every few weeks, after it had served twenty different bodies. For fourpence they slept in rows, closely crowding upon each other, utilizing the space to the fullest extent. For threepence, finally — that was the large room with the empty benches on which one slept, or the kitchen where one remained on the spot where one fell asleep: protected against nothing but the icy cold of the night and the fatal dampness of the street pavement...

A man staggered out of the door. He had been turned away because he could not pay. Auban wished to speak to him, to help him, but he was completely drunk. He staggered on backwards and forwards, knocked about with his hands, and felt his way along the walls of the houses, muttering and reeling — into the night which devoured him.

Auban also walked on. He had forgotten where he was and at what hour.

Suddenly he reflected. He must retrace his steps to assure himself that he was on the right way. There was the street into which he had turned, — therefore straight ahead, again towards the west...

From that point only an unsteady light every hundred paces. The streets grew narrower and narrower. The pavement worse and worse, larger and larger mud pools and rubbish heaps...

But Auban did not wish to go back again.

The door of a house stood open. Another lodging-house, but an unlicensed one. One of the notorious rookeries, as the people call them. It was overcrowded. The entire narrow, steep stairway, as far as Auban could see, covered with crouching dark human bodies. Over and beside each other, like corpses thrown on a heap, so they lay there. As far as the street, on the threshold even, they were cowering. Nothing was any longer plainly recognizable; the skin, peeping from under the rags and tatters, was as dirty as they were, soaked with dampness, filth, and disease...

Auban shuddered. He hurried on. A cross street; then a high wall; a monstrous seven-story tenement house, suddenly rising out of the darkness like a giant. He passed it. Straight ahead — towards the west.

In the next street again a number of stragglers, but scarcely recognizable: shadows painted on the walls, or sitting in the house doors petrified. No noise, no talk, no laughter, no singing ... the stillness of the grave.

Auban began to doubt whether he was on the right way. Again the streets grew completely deserted.

But he knew this region. Had he not been here in the daytime? Everything seemed changed. That wall on the left — he had never seen it. Had he gone wrong? — Impossible! He taxed his excited brain, almost to bursting, while he stood still. He reflected — it must be so and could not be otherwise; if he turned toward the left, toward the south, he must reach Whitechapel High Street in three minutes; if he walked straight on towards the west, he must in the same length of time reach Commercial Street...

Forward, then, straight ahead! ...

He felt only now how tired he was. His lame leg pained him. He would rather lie down on the ground and sleep.

But he called his will to his aid and walked on.

A thought came to him: suppose he should now be attacked — who would hear his calls for help? — Nobody. He had no other weapon with him than his cane, which was beginning to weigh heavily in his hand. — If anybody should meet him and recognize a stranger in him, it was hardly conceivable that he should let the chance of robbing him pass by...

An entirely new feeling possessed him. It was not fear. It was rather the abhorrence of the thought of being attacked by a wild animal in human form in this night, in this filth, in this solitude, and compelled to engage in a struggle for life and death.

He saw how careless it had been of him to challenge this almost unavoidable danger. He remembered now, too, that he was on the very street at the entrance of which a policeman had told him a while ago, as he probably told every well-dressed man, to keep away from it.

Auban hurried on as fast as he could. But the wall seemed to be endless. The darkness was impenetrable. He could not have told the difference between a man and a wall at ten paces.

He held his cane with an iron grasp, without supporting himself on it. He fancied every moment that he saw a robber emerging from the darkness, feeling him at his throat or by his side... But he was determined to sell his life dearly at least.

He ran and swung his cane before him. Perspiration dropped from his forehead. His horror increased...

Where was he? — It was no longer Whitechapel. It was a night without beginning and end; the fathomless depth of an abyss...

Suddenly his cane struck against a wall. And now Auban could again distinguish houses and windows on his right. A short street opened, faintly illumined by a single lantern, and so narrow that no wagon could have passed through it. It led into a longer one...

Suddenly the whole width of Commercial Street lay before Auban. In five minutes he stood panting under the round glass globe of the light which illumined the entrance to the ticket-offices and the stairs leading below.

He had reached the last point of this day’s walk, Aldgate Station.

He still had just ten minutes before the departure of his train.

The whole way from the Club had not taken more than half an hour. Auban felt as if hours had passed since the song of the Marseillaise had vibrated in his ear...

While he was resting to quiet his wild pulses, while the street vendors before him were removing their boards and boxes with the remains of their wares, and round him men were jostling and pushing each other in unconscious intoxication and feverish haste, he once more turned his eyes towards the east... And in a flash the picture he had been longing to shape rose before him: the enormous mouth of the gigantic body of East End — such was Whitechapel, which lay yawning before him. Whatever came near its poisoned breath staggered, lost its hold, was crushed by relentless yawning, and devoured, while all the sounds of misery, from the rattle of fear to the sighs of hunger, died away in the pestilent darkness of its abyss. And all the countries of the entire world threw their refuse into that greedy mouth, so that at last that terrible, forceless, insatiable body might satisfy itself, whose hunger was immeasurable and seemed constantly to be increasing...

And while Auban retreated before the vapor, he suddenly saw in the last minute still remaining to him the grand vision of coming events: that gigantic mouth opened wide its foaming jaws and vomited forth in choking rage an enormous slimy wave of rubbish, filth, and corruption over London... And — like a tottering mountain, — that nauseating wave buried everything: all grandeur, all beauty, all wealth... London was now only an infinite lake of rottenness and corruption, whose horrible vapors infected the heavens and slowly destroyed all life...
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Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:46 am

Chapter 7: The Tragedy of Chicago

The days beginning the second week of November seemed shrouded in smoke and in blood.

While in London the cry for “labor or bread” grew more and more ominous in the ears of the privileged robbers and their protectors, the eyes of the world were fixed on Chicago, on the uplifted hand of power. Would it fall? or, “pardoning,” relax? —

The events of the day followed thick and fast, one precipitating another.

Auban had passed the first days of the week in his office, working hard, for he wished to have the last two as much as possible to himself.

When on Wednesday after luncheon he went to his coffee-house, he saw Fleet Street and the Strand covered with gay-colored flags and streamers, which stood out in strange relief against the melancholy gray of the sky, the slimy black of the street mud, the impenetrable masses of people who monopolized the sidewalks on both sides. Lord Mayor’s show! According to ancient custom the procession of the newly elected mayor of the city was moving through the streets with great pomp and ceremony, and for a few hours the people forgot their hunger in the contemplation of the gay, childish farce.

What an age! thought Auban. The city pays this worthless talker ten thousand pounds annually for his useless labors, and while he dines at Guildhall in wasteful revelry, hunger for a piece of bread is gnawing at the vitals of countless thousands!

He did not wish to see the procession. He sought his way through half-deserted side streets. A fine rain was ceaselessly dripping down. Dampness, cold, and discomfort penetrated the clothing.

He bought a morning paper and rapidly ran through it. Trafalgar Square in every column! Meetings of the unemployed day after day — now permitted, now forbidden... — Arrests of the speakers... — Alarming rumors from Germany: the disease of the crown prince said to be incurable ... faint, timid surmises as to its nature ... cancer ... the fate of a country for weal or for woe dependent on the life and death of a man! ... — France — nothing ... — Chicago! ... Brief remarks on the petitions for pardon of four of the condemned to the governor of Illinois, in whose hands rests the final decision after the refusal of a new trial... On the discovery of bombs in one of the cells... Indeed, certainly! Public sentiment is too favorable to the condemned. So bombs were suddenly “discovered” — discovered in a prisoner’s cell guarded by day and by night! — and it again takes an unfavorable turn! — That discovery came too opportunely at a moment when the petitions for pardon — these petitions which, as the newspapers graphically described, would form a line eleven miles in length if attached one to another — were being filled with hundreds of thousands of signatures, to leave any doubt in regard to the conscious, deliberate intention of the report.

Auban crumpled the paper in his hands and threw it away. Now his last hope had fled. In terrible clearness the coming days rose before him, and the frosty air shook him like a fever.

The eleventh of November fell on a Friday. Auban was sitting in his room at the table covered with papers, pamphlets, and books. It was about five o’clock in the afternoon, and the light of the day was fading away between the gloomy rows of houses.

Auban, aided, by the abundant material which his American friend had placed at his disposal, had devoted the entire day to a review of the tragedy, on whose last act the curtain had just fallen, in each of its separate phases, from beginning to end.

What he had seen rise and grow in each of its parts now stood before him as a perfect whole.

But he was still looking through the piles of papers and turning the leaves of pamphlets in nervous haste, as if he wished to gain additional light on some of the points that seemed not yet to have been set forth in sufficient clearness.

The impossibility of his to-day’s task of picturing to himself in perfect clearness the whole, as well as its separate parts, almost drove him to despair. The contradictions were too numerous. The tragedy on which the last veil had fallen to-day would never be thoroughly understood.

Nevertheless, the facts rose in tangible form before Auban.

Before his mind’s eye stands Chicago, one of the largest cities of the United States: fifty years ago still a little frontier town; twenty years ago a pile of ruins, made so in a night by a great conflagration, but rebuilt in a day; to-day the magnificent city by the great lake, the granary of the world, the centre of a boundless traffic, exuberant with an energy of which the aging life of the East no longer knows anything... In that city of rapid growth, with a population of almost a million, of which one-third are Germans, in all their terrible clearness the consequences of legally privileged exploitation of human labor: the accumulation of wealth in a few hands to a dizzy height, and in faithful correspondence with it ever larger masses driven to the edge of the impossibility of supporting their lives... And hurled into that fermenting city, like a new and more terrible conflagration, the torch of the social creed: fanned by a thousand hands, the flames spread so rapidly as to make it appear that the days of the revolution are at hand...

The authorities send their police; and the people sends its leaders whom it follows. The former club and shoot down striking workingmen, and the latter call in a loud voice: “To arms! To arms!” — and point to the device; “Proletarians, arm yourselves!” as the only remedy.

Force against force! Folly against folly!

The movement in favor of the eight-hour workday in the United States, the “eight-hour movement,” which dated back almost two decades, and the end of which a million workingmen, four hundred thousand “Knights of Labor,” and an equal number belonging to the “Federated Trades Unions,” expect to see in the first of May, 1886, is the point around which both parties are engaged in equally hot contention... What the agitation of former years had already here and there secured as a written “right” remained an unacquired right.

‘The “International Workingmen’s Association,” founded in 1883 by German revolutionists in Chicago who called themselves Anarchists, but who preached the Communistic creed of common property, although it regards universal suffrage simply as a means with which to cheat the workingmen out of economic independence by the pretence of political liberty, nevertheless takes a position on that question which is rapidly becoming the sole issue of the day, in order not to let slip an important field of propagandism...

The first of May is preceded by unexpected events in Chicago, the centre of the eight-hour movement; the closing of a large factory — in consequence of which twelve hundred workingmen are without bread — is followed by meetings that culminate in serious collisions with the official and unofficial police, the private detectives of the Pinkerton Protective Agency in the service of the capitalists, the notorious “Pinkertonians.” ...

Thus, after more than forty thousand workingmen had laid down their work in Chicago alone, on the impatiently expected first of May, and three hundred and sixty thousand in the States, the police on the third of May made an attack on the workingmen, in which a large number of them were wounded. The object of the meeting, called for the fourth of May at the Haymarket by the “Executive Committee” of the I. W. A., was to protest against those outrages of the constituted authorities.

On the same day one of the leaders, the editor of the great German “Arbeiter-Zeitung,” wrote a circular which was destined to achieve a terrible celebrity under the name of the “Revenge Circular.”

It is written in two languages: the one in English addresses itself to the American workingmen, whom it exhorts to prove themselves worthy of their grandsires and to rise in their might like Hercules; the one in German reads: —

“Revenge! Revenge! Workingmen, to arms!

“Working people, this afternoon the bloodhounds, your exploiters, murdered six of your brothers at McCormick’s. Why did they murder them? Because they dared to be dissatisfied with the lot which your exploiters made for them. They asked for bread, and were answered with lead, mindful of the fact that the people can thus be most effectively brought to silence. For many, many years you have submitted to all humiliations without a murmur, have slaved from early morning till late in the evening, have suffered privations of every kind, have sacrificed even your children, — all in order to fill the coffers of your masters, all for them! And now, when you go before them and ask them to lessen your burden, they send their bloodhounds, the police, against you, in gratitude for your sacrifices, to cure you of your discontent by means of leaden balls. Slaves, we ask and entreat you, in the name of all that is dear and sacred to you, to avenge this horrible murder that was perpetrated against your brothers, and that may be perpetrated against you tomorrow. Working people, Hercules, you are at the parting of the ways! Which is your choice? Slavery and hunger, or liberty and bread? If you choose the latter, then do not delay a moment; then, people, to arms! Destruction upon the human beasts who call themselves your masters! Reckless destruction, — that must be your watchword! Think of the heroes whose blood has enriched the path of progress, of liberty, and of humanity — and strive to prove yourselves worthy of them.

“Your Brothers.”

The meeting at the Haymarket on the fourth of May is so orderly that the mayor of the city, who had come with the intention of closing it at the first sign of disorder, tells the police captain he may send his men home.

The wagon from which the speakers are talking is on one of the large streets that lead to the Haymarket. It is surrounded by several thousand people, who are calmly following the words, first of the writer of the manifesto, then of the elaborate address of an American leader on the eight-hour movement; there are many details touching the relation of capital to labor.

A third speaker also makes an address in English.

Clouds, threatening rain, rise on the sky, and the larger portion of the audience disperses. Then, as the last speaker is closing, the police, numbering about a hundred men, make a set attack on those remaining. At this moment a bomb falls into the ranks of the attacking party, hurled by an invisible hand; it kills one of them on the spot, inflicts fatal wounds on six others, injures a large number, about fifty. Under the murderous fire of the police, those remaining seek refuge in the side streets...

The frenzy of fear reigns in Chicago. No one of the enemy sees in the throwing of the bomb an act of self-defence on the part of one driven to despair... And, while in labor circles, the false assumption is gaining ground that it is the deliberate deed of a police agent which was to enable threatened and terrified capital to deal a fatal blow against the eight-hour movement, the press, in the pay of capital, is inflaming public opinion by monstrous reports of bloody conspiracies against “law and order,” by reprinting incendiary passages from labor editorials and speeches, while it had itself prescribed lead for the hungry tramp, and a mixture of arsenic and bread for the unemployed, in order to get rid of them...

The three speakers of the evening are arrested. Likewise, four other well-known individuals in the movement; the eighth, the American publisher of an American labor paper, the “Alarm,” later surrenders himself voluntarily... Of the many who are arrested and examined, these eight are held and summoned to appear before the court.

Thus stood the facts of the early history before Auban’s eyes: a battle had been fought in the great conflict between capital and labor, and the victors sat in judgment on their prisoners.

But the conflict had been brought to a sudden halt for a long time to come.

The second act of the tragedy begins: the trial.

Slowly before Auban’s eyes the curtain is lifted from the trial as he had followed it in all its stages by the aid of the countless reports of the newspapers, as he knew it from the speeches of the condemned, and as he had studied it again to-day in the brief submitted to the supreme court of Illinois.

It had indeed been a laborious task to which he had devoted the day. Doubly laborious for him in the foreign — to his mother tongue so entirely foreign — language. But he wished once more, and for the last time, to see if the enemy had not at least the appearance of right on his side.

From that standpoint, too, the conviction of the condemned is nothing but murder. If a conspiracy had really been on foot to meet the next attacks of the police with the throwing of a bomb, the individual act of the fourth of May was certainly in no relation to it. No one was more surprised by its folly than the men who were to suffer so terribly from its consequences...

In the first place, the selection of the jury is arbitrary. Although about a thousand citizens are summoned, they are men whose admitted prejudice against the movement of Socialism compels the attorneys of the defendants to reject them, until finally they must accept men who, by their own confession, have already formed an opinion before the trial has yet begun. Of nearly one thousand citizens summoned, only ten belonged to the working class, which alone represents a hundred and fifty thousand in a population of three-quarters of a million, and those ten live in the immediate neighborhood of the police station. The State challenges most of them; those whom it accepts it is sure of in advance. Such is the jury in whose hands is placed the power over life and death! ... Ignorance, joined by arrogance, is ever ready to play the part of the ridiculous and contemptible; it becomes terrible, when, as here, it is re-enforced by the brutality of authority. — Then woe to all who fall into its clutches! ...

The remaining preliminaries consist of the arrest and torment of innumerable persons belonging to the working class; the chief of police, a vain demagogue of the commonest type, regards no brutality too brutal, no artifice too contemptible, to get from them what he wants to know, — that there has been a conspiracy. He arrests whom he pleases; he lengthens or shortens the period of arrest as he sees fit; he treats his victims as he likes. No one prevents him. No emperor ever ruled with more sovereign sway than the bloated insignificance of this brutal demagogue.

By the middle of July these preliminaries, too, are completed. The State’s attorney calls upon the defendants to answer to the charge of conspiracy and murder. The great trial which had begun in the middle of June, by the selection of the jury, enters its second stage. A day later the hearing of the witnesses begins in the presence of an unexampled throng of the public, which continues undiminished as long as the trial lasts.

The State has very different kinds of witnesses. Some are confronted with the alternative of being themselves indicted with the prisoners or of testifying against them. They and their families have received support from the police, and held long interviews with them. Even so, they cannot say more than that bombs have been manufactured and distributed, but they must add that the distribution was not for the purpose of use at the Haymarket meeting.

Another State’s witness is a notorious liar of most ill repute among all who know him. His testimony proves the most decisive. He also received money from the police. He saw everything: who threw the bomb and who lit it; he knows who was absent and who was present; only of the speeches that were delivered he heard nothing. And he knows the whole conspiracy in all its details.

All these State’s witnesses contradicted each other’s testimony — but the bloody clothes of the killed policeman are spread before the jury; some of the defendants never saw a dynamite bomb — but the State’s attorney reads some stupid passages from the conscienceless book of a professional revolutionist on “Revolutionary Warfare”; a number of the defendants have never stood in any relations with each other, hardly knew each other — but the jury is flooded with extracts from speeches and articles born of the excitement and passion of the moment, and which in many cases date far back...

For “Anarchy is on trial.” By the sacrifice of these eight men a ruinous blow is meant to be dealt against the entire movement, which is to paralyze it for a long time, the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, class against class!

The attorneys of the defendants do their best to rescue the victims from the clutches of authority. But as they are compelled to meet the enemy on his own ground in order to fight him, the ground described as in mockery “the common law,” they are necessarily doomed to defeat. And they are defeated.

By the end of August the jury brings in its verdict, which dooms seven men to an untimely death.

Thus finally the fool spectacle of that trial which lasted a quarter of a year is brought to a close. A new trial, urgently demanded, is refused.

The defendants deliver their speeches before the judge, those now celebrated speeches through which the sufferings, the complaints, the wishes, all the despair and all the hope, all the expectations and all the defiance of the people, speak in all the tones of an outraged heart so impressively and so boldly, so simply and so passionately, so vehemently and so — vaguely...

A whole year passes before the butcher State can roll up his sleeves to strangle these victims with his insatiable hands. And it almost seemed as if things were to take a different turn. For while the workingmen are cheerfully making all necessary sacrifices to accomplish the utmost that is still possible, a revulsion of popular feeling is gaining ground, and the conviction of the innocence of the condemned is taking the place of intimidated fear and of artificially produced hatred.

The weathercock of “public opinion” is beginning to turn.

Nevertheless the supreme court of Illinois to whom the case was appealed in March of the following year, affirmed the judgment of the lower court in September.

And likewise the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington.

The day of the murder is at hand.

The power of staying the threatening hand of death rests now with a single man, the governor of Illinois. His is the power to pardon.

Three of the condemned submit a written statement in which they describe the indictment as alike false and absurd, but regret having championed violence; the remaining four, in letters full of pride, courage, and contempt, decline a pardon for a crime of which they are innocent. They demand “liberty or death.” In those letters one of them writes: —

“ — Society may hang a number of disciples of progress who have disinterestedly served the cause of the sons of toil, which is the cause of humanity, but their blood will work miracles in bringing about the downfall of modern society, and in hastening the birth of a new era of civilization.”

Another: —

“The experience which I have had in this country, during the fifteen years I have lived here, concerning the ballot and the administration of our public functionaries who have become totally corrupt, has eradicated my belief in the existence of equal rights of poor and rich, and the action of the public officers, police, and militia, has produced the firm belief in me that these conditions cannot last long.”

And a third one, after leaving the governor the choice of being “a servant of the people” or “a mere tool of the monopolists”: “Your decision in that event will not judge me, but yourself and those whom you represent...”

Thus they themselves press the martyr’s crown more deeply into their defiant brows.

The governor is besieged on all sides. At hundreds upon hundreds of meetings, hundreds upon hundreds of resolutions are passed protesting against the sentence. Expressions of sympathy, of indignation, are heard in all parts of the world; everywhere people call for a postponement, for pardon ... only in Chicago itself the hand of authority closes the mouth of the people with brutal might.

Only in the case of three death is commuted into a living grave; five of them must die.

Then, at the last moment, when the waves of popular sympathy threaten to make the murder which is planned impossible, bombs are suddenly found in the cell of one of the condemned. The venal press does its share. It does not inquire in what other way than with the knowledge of the police the bombs could have been placed where they are discovered so opportunely; it sounds anew its cries of fear about “public order being endangered,” and fabulous rumors about bloody plans contemplating the destruction of the jail, of the whole city, are having their effect of intimidation. The wave of sympathy recedes...

Another scene: Weeping women are lying before the man who embodies authority and power. They clasp his knees; a poor mother pleads for the life of her son; a woman, who could join hands in union with the man she loved only through prison bars, demands justice; a helpless wife points to her trembling children as her words fail her; but nothing can touch the soulless picture of stone, in whose heart only the desolation of barrenness, in whose brain only the prejudices of mediocrity hold sway.

Shuddering, liberty turns away.

The second act of the tragedy is closed. On the death agonies of eighteen months drops finally the black curtain of the past.

Auban rose and walked to and fro, his hands crossed behind his back. It had grown dark. The fire went out.

He was absorbed in his thoughts. The rustle of a paper startled him; the evening paper was pushed through the door. He bent down and took it up eagerly.

Death or life?

A cry of despair escaped from his lips. By the light of the dying fire he ran through a short cable despatch: “Special edition — 6.15 P.M. — Chicago, November 10 — Terrible suicide — One of the condemned — just now — in his cell — shattered his head — with a bomb — lower jaw entirely torn away —”

The atmosphere of his room lay oppressively on Auban. He felt as if he were choking. Away! — away! — Hastily he took his hat and cane and hurried away.

When he returned, an hour later, he found Dr. Hurt at the fireplace, his pipe in his mouth, in one hand a newspaper, in the other a poker with which he was stirring the fire into a fresh glow. He was surprised. It was the first time since the death of his wife that the doctor had visited him, except on the Sunday afternoons.

“Do I disturb you, Auban? Had a call near by, thought it would be good to warm my feet and have a sensible talk in these days, when men are all again acting as if the world were coming to an end —”

Auban pressed his hand firmly.

“You could not have done anything better, doctor,” he said. He spoke each word clearly and distinctly, but his voice was entirely toneless. Dr. Hurt looked at him as he lit the lamp, prepared boiling water, and brought out whiskey-glasses and tobacco.

Then they sat opposite each other, their feet stretched towards the fire.

Evidently neither of them wished to begin the conversation.

Finally Auban pointed to the newspaper which Dr. Hurt was holding in his hand, and asked: “Have you read?”

Hurt nodded gravely.

But when, looking at Auban, he saw how pale and troubled his face was from the suppressed pain within, he said solicitously: —

“How you look!”

Auban waved his hand deprecatingly. But then he bent forwards and buried his face in both his hands.

“I have passed through a night of illusion,” — he said slowly, and in a low tone, reciting the verse of a modern poet...

Dr. Hurt sprang up, and for the first time putting aside the mask of his icy reserve, placed his hand on Auban’s shoulder, and said: —

“Auban, my friend, do not take it so hard! — Things had to come to this pass sooner or later —”

“What would you expect?” he continued more impatiently. “What would you expect of the governments? — That they should fold their hands and look calmly on while the tide of the movement devours them? — No; you who like myself know that right is nothing but might, and the struggle for life nothing but the desire for might, no, you cannot see in the events of Chicago anything but the sad episode of a common struggle which to your reason must appear as a necessity.”

Auban looked at the speaker. His eyes flashed and his lips trembled.

“But I abominate all cowardice. And I cannot conceive of any greater and more contemptible cowardice than this cold-blooded murder. Courage, indeed! To murder — with the fools behind you, with prejudice by your side, and with the ‘divine consent’ above you. What cowardice, to let a battle be fought for you! Not to stand man against man, but to hide yourself behind the robe of the law, the bayonets of soldiers, the fists of savage hirelings, — stupid beasts who know of no other will than that of their masters! What cowardice, I say, to have the majority of ignorance on your side and then to declare you are in the right! Is there a greater?”

As his visitor made no reply, he continued: —

“For me there is but one truly noble and dignified frame of mind: the passive; and but one form of activity whose results I call great: that of one’s own powers. I hold all those who have developed out of themselves, who stand and fall by themselves, in boundless esteem; but equally boundless is my aversion towards those whom folly elevates to-day, to let them fall back into their nothingness tomorrow.”

“Yes, everything is thrown in a heap, true and false merit,” said Dr. Hurt.

“Why are there still rulers on thrones? Because there are still subjects. Whence this social misery? Not because some raise themselves above others, but because the others renounce themselves. On our lives rests the curse of an entirely unnatural idea: the Christian idea. We have cast off some of the externalities of the religions. But little is yet noticeable of the blessings that would result if we threw overboard the idea of religion, of the stiff breeze that would then swell our sails. Believe me, doctor, there is an intrinsic relationship between a bourgeois and a Social Democrat. But there is no bridge leading from either of them to me. There is a chasm between us — between the professors of the State and those of liberty!”

“You think like nature,” said the other, meditatively, “and therefore health and truth are on your side.”

And taking up the thread of their former conversation, he asked: —

“And was not your abhorrence aroused when you heard of the throwing of the bomb?”

“No. I saw in it only an act of justifiable self-defence. On their own responsibility the police made an attack upon a peaceable assembly. For once their brutality was punished, while it usually goes unpunished. I deplore the act, not only as entirely useless, but also as harmful. But still more do I deplore those who will not understand that such acts are always only the outbreak of a despair which has no longer anything to lose because everything has been taken from it.”

“And those who always incite only others to violence without ever taking part themselves, — what is your opinion of them?”

“That they are pitiable cowards, and that the paper was not at all wrong in suggesting some time ago that the man in New York, who was incessantly clamoring for the head of some European prince, ought to be sent to Europe at the general expense, to afford him an opportunity to get it there himself...”

Dr. Hurt had again sat down, and a grave silence reigned. They talked. about other things. Then Hurt said again: —

“I begin to hate the people. It is like a Moloch that has opened his arms and now devours victim after victim. This grown-up child, which has so long been chastised with the rod, is suddenly indulged to a ridiculous degree. It reaches manhood, and is surprised at the strength of its own limbs. When it shall have become fully conscious of it, it will trample on everything that comes under its feet. It has already learned all the attitudes of power: ridiculous infallibility, haughty conceit, narrow self-complacency. I tell you, Auban, the time is not distant when it will be impossible for any proud, free, and independent spirit to still call himself a Socialist, since he would be classed with those wretched toadies and worshippers of success, who even now lie on their knees before every workingman and lick his dirty hands simply because he is a workingman!”

Now Dr. Hurt was excited, while Auban seemed lost in a brooding sadness which was only intensified by what he heard, because he had to agree with it.

“Every age has its lie,” continued Dr. Hurt. “The great lie of our age is ‘politics,’ as that of the coming age will be ‘the people.’ All that is small, weak, and not self-reliant, is caught in its rushing current. All men of ‘to-day’! There in the current they fight their little, worthless, everyday battles. But the men of tomorrow, and to them we belong, remain on the shore or come back to it again, after the current has threatened to devour them for a time. And there, on the shore of truth, we stand, and so we want to let the daily events of our age, whose witnesses we are, pass before us. Is it not so?”

Auban was moved. For the first time in all these long years he had known him, this strange and singular man laid open his heart to him, and showed him its scarred wounds. What must he also have suffered before he became so firm, so hard, and so alone?

“You are indeed right,” he said. “I too swam in the current, and I too stand on the shore. And at my feet and before my eyes are drifting the bloody corpses of Chicago.”

“They are not the first, and they will not be the last.”

“You are indeed right,” said Auban again. “I was among those who struggled in the current. When I was twenty; when I knew nothing of the world; when, in my eyes, some men were conscious sinners, others innocent angels; when I mistook effects for causes, and causes for effects, — then they listened to me as I talked to them. Where I got the courage to parade my phrases before those large audiences, I no longer know. I was proof against all harm; I stood in the service of the cause. How could I fail under such circumstances? I derived all my strength from that thought; not from myself. From it often I drew my indefatigability, my unshaken belief, my indifference towards myself. And the farther I got from the reality of things, the nearer I came to my hearers. Often I went farther than I intended.”

“That was also the way of the leaders of Chicago; they were driven on, and could not go back. They had to outdo themselves in order to maintain themselves. That is so often the tragic fate of all those who look to others for the measure of their ‘worth.’”

“My fate would have been theirs,” said Auban further. “However, I was not happy. I do not believe that self-sacrifice can make us truly happy. — And I should not have liked to die so — I felt it again to-day. No; I want to battle and conquer without receiving a wound!”

“Many will say that is very convenient —”

“Let them say so. I say, it is more difficult than to sacrifice one’s self to the delight of our enemies and to no good of our friends. And do you want to know what brought me to this perception? A smile, a scornful, frigid smile. It was on the occasion of my speech before the judges. I hurled truths at them that fairly startled some, while they enraged others. I spoke of the rights of man that were mine, and of the rights of might which were theirs; in short, it was a pompous, passionate, and entirely uncommon speech wholly without policy and of course also without any purpose, the childish speech of an idealistic man. It is always ridiculous to approach men with ethical commands, especially such half-wild, unreasonable, ignorant men who derive all their wisdom from paragraphs and formulas. But I had not learned that then. While I was speaking so — I really spoke more to those who did not hear me — I noticed on the shrewd face of an officer a smile, a scoffing, pitiful, cutting smile, which said: You fool, what do we care about your words, so long as they do not become deeds! —

“But no; I must correct myself. I did not see the smile, for I kept on talking unconcerned. Only later, in prison, I remembered that I had felt it, and then it pursued me a long time; I can see it to-day if I close my eyes!

“It grinned at me through the cracks of the prison wall. It was an enemy that I had to overcome. But I saw it was not one that allowed itself to be put to flight by words. There was but one means to lay it: to acquire a like smile. Only against it would the other be powerless. I acquired it. I had time, and everything I had experienced and seen seemed changed in the light of this new way of looking at things. I see men as they are; the world as it is. No longer people smile at me.”

“It was certainly the greatest deed of your life, Auban, that you had the strength to tear yourself away and get on your own feet; but the Communists, — is it conceivable that most of them speak with indignation about the petitions for pardon of some of the condemned? To see treason, a debasement in the signing of a bit of paper with which I can save my life out of the hands of my murderer! I should sign a thousand such scraps of paper and laugh at the blockhead who expected ‘honesty’ of me, while he got me into his power by cunning and force. Auban, these Communists are fanatics; they are sick, confused, afflicted with moral spooks —”

“I said what I had to say last Sunday,” Auban remarked calmly.

“And all to no purpose. No, those people must grow wise through experience. Let them alone.”

“The experience will be a terrible one. It is sad for me to see how the very people who have already suffered so much, cause new sufferings to themselves.”

Again there was a digression in the conversation, which during the following hour turned on things far from Chicago.

The doctor had filled the room with smoke which he sent in short, rapid puffs from his pipe, never letting it go out. The plain severity of the room was tempered by the rays of the lamp and the flames of the fire. A breath of comfort almost filled it as the hours wore on.

“Do you know the legend of the emperor’s new clothes?” asked Auban. “It is so with the State, too. Most people, I doubt not, are inwardly convinced that they could get along much better without it. They pay unwillingly the taxes which they instinctively feel as a robbery of their labor. But the notion that ‘it must be so because it has always been so’ prevents them from speaking the word that would save them; they look at one another, doubtful and hesitating. But it requires all the ingenuousness of an unspoiled character to overthrow this artificial barrier, the source of all our external misery, with the words: ‘Why, he has nothing on!’ The whole thing is a piece of clear humbug of the most stupid kind, — and the saving word has been found; it is Anarchy!”

Auban continued, as his listener remained in silent meditation: —

“Or let us take the following example: It is on the morning of a battle. Two armies are facing each other, brought together for mutual destruction. In an hour the slaughter is to begin. How many on either side, do you think, if the individual could have his free choice, would remain to become murderers; and how many would throw aside the weapons forced on them and return home to the peaceful employments of their life? All would return, would they not? And only the small number of those would perhaps remain who make of war and the exercise of power a calling. And, nevertheless, all the others act against their own will, their reason, their better knowledge, because things have not become clear to them. They must; for the curse of illusion — a something, something intangible, something incomprehensible, something terrible, — urges them on... Tell me, doctor, what it is, that dreadful something?”

“Habit, ignorance, and cowardice,” said Hurt.

“Oh, I do not object to war! Do not think that!” exclaimed Auban, and heaped up the papers on his writing-desk that the other might not see how excited he was growing. “Not in the least. There have always been rowdies and brutes. But let them fight out their battles and quarrels among themselves, and not compel other entirely innocent people who prefer to live in peace to take part in their brutal brawls under the lying pretence that it is for their own interest to mutually murder each other in the name of the ‘holy war for the fatherland’ and similar nonsense! I do not object to war,” he exclaimed once more, “but let it be fought by those who want it. So much the better — pounce upon each other, you brutal butchers, tear yourselves into pieces, exterminate each other; the earth will breathe a sigh of relief when it is rid of you!”

“But for the present we are still sitting in the cages of our States, cowering in the corners, mutually watching and observing each other, always on the alert, pressing against the bars of the grating, growling at each other, until we grasp each other by the throat because there is not room enough for us, and the food falls too unequally to our lots,” said the doctor, sarcastically.

Auban replied in the same tone.

“That is the struggle for existence, my friend; the strong crush the weak; — thus nature has willed it!”

“Yes, that phrase, the catchword of a science not understood, came very opportunely for them!”

“It serves them as an apology for their despotic tyranny and the compression of nature within the unnatural limits of the compulsory organization of the State and the stupid laws which they consider infallible, although they themselves made them. It is always the same: labor may compete until it perishes in the midst of the superabundance it has created; capital is exempt from competition.”

At Auban’s words Hurt had again suddenly become very excited.

“I can tolerate anything, only not that science, clear, confident, relentless, incorruptible science, is placed in the service of those swindlers of power and the ‘existing order,’ and thus falsified!” he exclaimed.

Auban continued, sarcastically: —

“And what splendid specimens of the genus man survive as the fittest in ‘that struggle for existence’! For example: Here is one of the Upper Ten, a member of the jeunesse dorée, a tall hat, a monocle, buckled shoes. He does not do a stroke of work. But his capital works for him. It yields him annually one thousand pounds. He is lazy, stupid, without interests, a wreck at thirty.

“On the other hand, there are a hundred workingmen, young fellows, energetic, fresh, full of courage and the will to put their powers to use; they are prevented from doing as they would like. Everything is closed against them. They flag, grow tired, get dull, succumb. When they die, their life has been nothing but work and sleep. They finished the former only to lie down to the latter; and they rose from sleep only to go to work.

“Some have the means not to work; others have not the means to work. Thus the vampire sucks up one after another: he is the product of the squandered labor of a hundred persons. A sickly, unproductive life has simply destroyed a hundred healthy, productive lives. The former has been enervated by idleness, the latter exhausted by overwork.

“What do they call it, eh? — Struggle for existence? Divine wisdom? The order of nature?” —

He paused a moment, and looked at the doctor, who was blowing great clouds of smoke from his pipe. Then he continued: —

“Or, again, — another picture, equally edifying. ‘Her Ladyship!’ During the day she reads novels, or meddles with the work of her ‘domestics,’ of which she knows nothing. In the evening she drives to the ball. What she wears on her body, the diamond ornaments, are in themselves without any value whatever —”

“In itself nothing has value,” Hurt interrupted him.

“But it represents a fortune in value,” Auban continued, unconcerned.

But he was again interrupted.

“Ah, let us have done with that, Auban!” muttered Hurt. “As long as the workingmen will not become more sensible, such lives, and even worse ones, will be the inevitable, entirely natural result.”

It had grown late. The atmosphere of the room was oppressive and hot. The fire was weary. Hurt looked at his watch. But before he rose, the secret, bashful, hot, almost reluctant love of this peculiar man for all the oppressed and suffering burst forth suddenly and vehemently like a flame in angry words which passionately dropped from his lips:

“The fools! Will they never grow sensible? — To throw bombs, what nonsense! — To make it as easy as possible for the governments to destroy them! — But it seems to me that these people make a point of excelling each other in sacrifices and of seeking their pride not in victory, but in defeat! Sacrifice upon sacrifice! No, I do not want to have anything more to do with them; if they do not want to become sensible, they need not!”

He had risen. Turning towards Auban, whose sad eyes seemed riveted on the table on which the crumpled newspapers lay like an unsolved problem, he added, in an apparently lighter vein: —

“You must not expect too much of me, Auban. I am a daily witness of death-bed scenes — what is the life of a few individuals who are forcibly torn away against the crowds whom no one counts and no one mentions, but who are also only victims of the others, although they never tried to defend themselves!”

He extended his hand to him.

“Read history. Open it where you like. Everywhere the conquerors and everywhere the vanquished. The thing has always been the same, only the numbers were different. Whether they fall, shot on the battlefield, starved at the street corner, choked on the gallows — is it not one and the same thing? Not to fall, to conquer — it is for that we are here!”

Auban could not answer. He was seized by a restless fear of the night that was coming, in which he was to remain alone with himself.

Hurt was getting ready to go. But when he had already taken hold of the door-knob, he turned once more towards Auban, stepped up to him, and said: —

“However, I wish to thank you. I wanted to do it long ago. You know I am an old sceptic. I believe in nothing, and all Utopias are an abomination to me. Consequently, I do not believe in liberty as an ideal either. But you, you have had such a way of explaining to me liberty as a business, that I want to tell you, in case you care to hear it: in your sense I am an Anarchist!”

With that he firmly pressed his hand, and the eyes of the two men met for a moment; now they knew each other. It was not a union sealed by blood into which they entered. They gave no promise that was binding on them. They assumed no obligations towards each other.

But they said to each other by their looks: We know what we want. Perhaps the time is not too distant when we shall feel strong enough to hold our ground against authority. Then we may stand together. Until then, vigilance and patience! ...

Auban was alone. And he arose with a violent movement and paced up and down his room for certainly an hour, while the fire entirely went out.

When fatigue overcame him, it was still ringing in his ears again: Read history!

Without choice he drew forth the next volume, and read through the night until dawn.

Up to his knees he waded through the blood of the past. He saw the rise and fall of nations. He saw the responsibility for their life rolled on the shoulders of a few, and he saw those few break down beneath its weight, or play with it like the child with his ball...

He saw how those who “wished the good” produced the bad: error.

He saw how those who “strove after the bad” brought about the good: destroyed error.

He saw how everything that had been could not have been different, precisely because it had been so and not different. It was not for us to mourn and to curse, therefore, but to understand.

To avoid recognized errors, — such the watchword, such the use, such the blessing of history, such its lesson...

Auban read. And over the downfall and ruins of nations he forgot about Chicago...

Then sleep closed his eyes. Gently it drew the book from between his fingers. It slipped on the floor.

The light, however, continued to burn.

Heavy dreams sank upon the sleeper. Restlessly his breast rose and fell, and the pain at other times concealed by the sharp, hard lines about the mouth had crept from its hiding-place, and now lay on his thin cheeks. His pale lips were slightly open.

Thus the night came to an end, the dreaded night.

When Auban awoke morning had come. He changed his dress.

Then he took up the newspapers. He knew what he should read. When he saw how the hand trembled with which he turned the paper, he paced up and down a few times before he began. He wanted to be strong.

Then he read, without haste, pale, with a gloomy calm. But his heart stood still.

It was the last act of the tragedy of Chicago: the morning of the eleventh of November.

The city is in a state of siege, every public building is under guard; everything is feared; above all, incendiarism; the military is concentrated, the fire department called out; at the hotels every arrival is watched; the jurymen, the judges, the State’s attorney, the chiefs of the police, are placed under protection... The larger factories are closed... The jail is surrounded by an impenetrable line of armed policemen... A tumult arises: a despairing woman wanders along the living wall with her weeping children, and attempts in frenzied fear to reach her husband before it is too late. She is seized by brutal hands, and must pass the most terrible hours of her life inside the stone walls of a prison cell...

Silence, the silence of fear, reigns again. In the neighboring streets men are jostling each other. Where they form groups, they again separate. They are paralyzed under the burden of those hours...

In the interior of the jail: —

The condemned have awaked. They write their last letters; they are even now molested by the contemptible obtrusiveness of a clergyman whom they decline to see; they take their last meal; across the distance of their cells they exchange their last words of friendship and hope in behalf of the cause for which they die, and their emotions find expression in strophes which their memory awakens in them, and whose unfamiliar sound echoes powerfully along the rigid walls: —

Ein Fluch dem Götzen, zu dem wir gebeten —
Der uns geäfft, gefoppt and genarrt —

Ein Fluch dem König, dem König der Reichen, —
Der uns wie Hunde erschiessen lässt —

Ein Fluch dem falschen Vaterlande —
Wo nur gedeihen Schmach und Schande...

And: —

Poor creatures! Afraid of the darkness
Who groan at the anguish to come?
How silent I go to my home!
Cease your sorrowful bell —
I am well!

And that immortal song in which all four join, the Marseillaise of Labor, of labor struggling for emancipation —

Von uns wird einst die Nachwelt zeugen!
Schon blickt auf uns die Gegenwart...

Yes; the present which was willing to pave the way for a brighter future, not the present which in impotent blindness was about to revive a buried past, had fixed its gaze upon them in this hour, in pain and in sorrow...

The sheriff appears. The condemned embrace each other, press each other’s hands, which are shackled; the death warrants, dead words with which authority seeks to justify its murder, are read.

The death march begins.

They pass through the door which leads into the yard of the jail; the gallows rises before their eyes. One after another they ascend its steps, pale, but undaunted. White caps are drawn over their heads. In this last moment their voices are heard from behind the coverings: —

“There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle to-day!” exclaims the first.

“Hurrah for Anarchy!” accompanied by a laugh, the second. And: —

“Hurrah for Anarchy! This is the happiest moment of my life!” falls in the third.

Finally the fourth and last: —

“Will I be allowed to speak, O women and men of my dear America?” —

The sheriff gave the signal. Then once more: —

“Let me speak, sheriff! Let the voice of the people be heard! O —”

The trap falls... And cowards see how heroes die.

So far Auban was able to read; the following sentence his eyes just grazed, for suddenly the jail yard of Chicago rose before him in tangible clearness: he sees the crowd of two hundred persons that fills it, the twelve of the jury, the higher court officers, the guard, the newspaper reporters, — a herd of cowardly hirelings; he sees the gallows, the four men whose features he had so often seen in the picture, erect, defiant, great; and he sees their dying, the convulsive movements of their death struggle which lasts fourteen minutes... Fourteen minutes! The butcher kills his cattle at one blow, the robber his victim at one stroke; only these murderers take a horrible delight in the “victory of justice,” which they themselves personify, and fortify their own cowardice behind the word with which authority has hitherto always justified all crimes: “His will be done...”

So clearly, like a vision, the end of the tragedy stood before Auban’s eyes that he could no longer endure it, and let his brow sink forward on his arms stretched across the table. So he lay a long time. For he had to fight down everything again that had newly risen in him, of pain, anger, wrath, of sorrow and of hatred.

When he arose he was again himself. But he again paced up and down the length and breadth of his room with his restless steps.

The tragedy of Chicago!

What an audience! All mankind who call themselves civilized! Not one who does not take a part; all compelled to make a choice...

On the one side: the thirst for blood satisfied, beastly joy; the Jubilant victory of authority; a sigh of relief after danger passed; sordid philistinism boasting over the triumph of order; morality priding itself upon its own narrowness; awakening compunctions of conscience; new fear of coming events; and the first gleams of understanding.

On the other: cries of horror, strangled by fear and by awe; impotent rage and growling wrath; shame of one’s own cowardice, anger and pain at that of the others; bitterness, sinking to the very bottom of all hearts; dull surrender to the inevitable; a thousand hopes of earthly justice buried, a thousand new ones risen in the final victory of the cause that has just been baptized in blood; the thirst for revenge on the day of reckoning intensified to an intolerable degree; sentimental sorrow; and the first gleams of understanding.

All the slumbering feelings of which the heart is capable aroused! All the passions called from their hiding-places, struggling in the frantic rage of death! All deliberation, all calm reason, obscured by the clouds of smoke and blood, — these were the fruits of this murder...

The tragedy of Chicago!

What scenes! What changes in them!

In the first act: —

The trembling of the earth which presages the outbreak of the volcano.

The hosts gather on both sides for the conflict.

Deliberating, rousing themselves, resolving, suspecting the danger, calling all forces to aid, arming themselves.

The noise of the battle-cry: Eight hours!

The first collisions: the whiz of the bullets, the gnashing of teeth, the howl of rage, the cries of indignation, the groans of the dying, the weeping of women.

Over countless glowing heads and feverish hearts the uproar of feverish words full of fire and flame.

A thundering crash: smoke and shrieks. Death and destruction.

The mad dance of the passions rushes past.

* * *

In the second act: —

After the noisy, open battle on the public plain, the quiet, hidden, but far more terrible struggle in the “domain of the law.”

Spacious courtrooms and narrow prison-cells. Iron gratings which separate friend from friend, and high prison walls, so high that the sun itself cannot scale them... O golden sun of liberty — not to see you for eighteen months, and then without having caught one of your rays to sink into eternal night.

* * *

And finally in the last and third act: —

The curtain had dropped. But the tragedy was not at an end.

No; those who had put it on the stage had forgotten the epilogue!

An epilogue, an unexpected epilogue, had to follow with inevitable necessity. It was the propaganda which this damnable deed produced: the echo which the history of these lives and deaths would call forth as an answer in countless still slumbering hearts. Thousands would ask: “Why were these men forced to die?” Thousands would answer: “For the cause of the oppressed.” And again: “We are the oppressed, every hour tells us that. But is it not our destiny to suffer?” And again the answer: “No; it is your destiny to be happy. The days of your emancipation have come. Those men died for your happiness. Read their speeches — here they are. Learn from them who they were, what they wanted, that they were no murderers, but heroes.” And the oppressed are awakening. They lift their tired brows, and the chains on their hands rattle. And now they hear their rattle. Then rage seizes them, they revolt, and the chains break. And swinging the iron weapons high in the air, they pounce upon their oppressors, seize and strangle all crying for mercy. Their hands are about to relax, but a voice calls: “Chicago!” Only this one word: “Chicago!” And all thoughts of mercy vanish. The greatest conflict the trembling earth has ever seen is fought to an end without mercy...

To the graves of their dead go the victors. They uncover their heads and say: “You are avenged. Sleep in peace.”

And returning home they teach their boys who those were whom they so honored, how they lived and how they died.

That would be the epilogue of the tragedy of Chicago...

Bent over the crumpled newspapers lay Auban, covering them with his arms and his brow, as if he could thus choke what rose from them, stupefying, like the vapor of fresh blood... His beating heart cried for a word of deliverance from this hour.

“Folly!” his reason whispered to him.

But he felt that it was too cheap a word. And so it died on his lips.
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Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:47 am

Chapter 8: The Propaganda of Communism

Trupp was on the way to his Club.

It was the evening of the day on which the London newspapers had published the detailed accounts of the murder in Chicago, and since Trupp had read them, he had wandered — as if impelled by feelings for which he had no name, and as if bounded and pursued by invisible enemies whom he did not know — through the infinite sea of houses, without aim, without purpose, in all directions, without knowing what he did.

He saw neither the streets through which he passed, nor the streams of humanity through which he forced his way... Where he had been, he knew not. Once the Thames had lain before him, and, leaning against the railing of a bridge, he had stood a whole hour, gazing fixedly and abstractedly down upon the black tide of the river; several times he had crossed the main arteries of traffic, and then each time instinctively sought quieter and more secluded streets, where nothing would interfere with the whirling thoughts of his over-excited brain...

He had not eaten anything the whole day except a piece of bread which he had bought almost unconsciously while passing a bakery, and not drunk anything...

He could not even have told what he had been thinking. In rapid succession thought had followed thought in his brain, forming an immense chain whose countless links all bore one and the same mark: Chicago!

As often as he had looked up, and his eyes met the indifferent faces of men, an unconquerable rage had risen within him to jump at their throats in order to shake them out of their calm with brutal force. But when with bent head he had sauntered along, nothing had told of the storm that stirred up his whole being to its innermost depths and drove waves of impotent rage to the surface...

Only when the shadows of night fell did he awake: as out of a dull stupor, as out of an opium sleep, only that his dreams had not been sweet and enticing, but torturing and bitter, like the iron grasp of a fist...

Then only had he looked about, for he had no idea where he was. He was in Edgware Road, in the north of Hyde Park — still far enough from the Club, half an hour and longer, but he might have found himself in the farthermost suburbs of Highgate or Brixton, hours away from Tottenham, and unable to reach the Club that evening.

Still half stupefied by the blow of this terrible day, but not yet feeling anything of the death-like fatigue which must have taken hold of his body after the day’s mad walk, he started on his way with aching feet, his entire body covered with perspiration and trembling with cold in the chilly evening air.

He knew now exactly what route to take, and he was careful to choose the nearest.

Two feelings had in these last two days incessantly battled within him.

One was that of deepest dejection... The murder of Chicago had been carried out without any attempt on the part of the comrades to prevent it. Or if not to prevent it, at least to interrupt it. He had indeed never looked forward to such an event with absolute confidence, for he knew but too well how rarely the performance agrees with the promise; but nevertheless, this unclouded victory of authority was a terrible blow to him.

The other was a feeling of satisfaction when he thought of the inexhaustible fountain of the propaganda that would flow from these martyr deaths. Chicago had become the Golgotha of workingmen. Eternally, as here the cross, would there the gallows rise...

But with the instinct which a twenty years’ participation in the Socialistic movement had given him, he suspected also that the question of Anarchism had now been placed in a different light, where it would henceforth stand out clearly for all thoughtful men: in the light of day. Much that had hitherto remained doubtful — covered by the veil of a mysterious and for most people inaccessible reserve — had now to be settled. A temporary lull in the propaganda was quite inevitable. The lost time would again be made up — doubtless. But above the doorway of the coming years was graven for him and his comrades: discouragement, lethargy, disaffection!

All that, but also many other things, filled him with a leaden despondency. Foremost, the position of Auban. He no longer understood his friend. His motives, his aims, had become incomprehensible to him.

That he still agreed with him in regard to the means, as he believed, held them together.

But how was there to be any agreement between them henceforth, after Auban had taken up the defence of what he, the Communist, regarded as the ultimate cause of all misery and imperfection: private property?

No doubt could rise in regard to Auban’s perfect honesty. It would have been ridiculous. Auban wanted liberty. He wanted also the liberty of labor. He loved the workingmen. He had given a thousand proofs of it. Their interests were his.

Such love never dies. Trupp knew that.

But for all that, he did not understand him. He would never understand him. Never would he be able to see in private property anything but the stronghold of the enemy. And on its battlements stood Auban, his friend, the comrade of so many years; he could not grasp the thought! ...

Then there were the personal wranglings and misunderstandings in his own camp, in the group to which he belonged. There was no end to them. They had always existed as long as he could remember, and they had never lost any of the repugnance for him with which they had paralyzed his best powers since he came to London. His comrades were too indolent, too inactive, too undecided for him. In these latter years he had immeasurably increased the demands he made on himself and on others. Now everything disappointed him; none of his expectations were henceforth satisfied.

Nothing came up to them. He himself no longer had any other thought than that of his cause. That idea claimed all his thought and action. It pursued him during the toilsome labor of his days with the persistent tenacity with which usually nothing but love dominates the nature of man; it kept him awake till late in the night, and frightened away all fatigue over the manifold labors of the propaganda that had been placed on his shoulders; it pressed the pen into his hand so little used to writing when the columns of the paper were to be filled, and withheld from his thirsting mouth the glass in order to place the money for it upon the great altar which was laden with the sacrifices of labor...

It was this devotion to the cause which had made of him a character remarkable of its kind; it had increased his capacities tenfold, cast his energies in the mould of constancy and firmness, and given aim and direction to his life. It dominated him, and he was its slave, although a slave who never feels his fetters because he believes he is free. He had put the bridle of that devotion on his body and brought himself to obedience as a horse obeys its rider; it must know neither fatigue nor hunger if he did not wish it.

Not because he himself wished to remain free, but because he wished not to be disturbed in the service of his cause, had he remained unmarried, or, rather, never united himself for any extended period with a woman. He was an excellent man in almost every respect. He had none of the faults of narrowness; the grandeur of the cause stifled them. Of an uncommon, although a one-sided and little disciplined intelligence, of firm health, without nerves and with muscles of steel, with an iron will and a dash of simple greatness, — thus he stood: at the head of the people, as it were, as their best and most worthy representative, erect with the pride of the proletarian who, in the consciousness of his power, in the consciousness of being “all in all,” claims the world from a class already declining, claims it with the vehemence of a child, the wrath of a revolutionist, the confidence of a general who knows his troops and feels sure that they are invincible, and who claims it without suspecting what he demands.

History requires such men in order to — use them. It is they with whom it fights its external battles, by placing them at the head of the masses whose strength is decisive.

Liberty sees in them only obstacles. For its battles are fought only by the individuals who represent nothing but themselves.

Trupp was an excellent man. But he was often blind with both eyes. He was a fanatic. He was, moreover, the fanatic of a fantasy. For a fantasy is Communism which must invoke force in order to become dismal reality...

Trupp walked on, and his wakeful thoughts cut still deeper, and he felt them more painfully than the narcotic stupor in which he had passed the day. He was nearing the Club.

The revolutionaries of Socialism are scattered over the entire world. They have already set foot on the most distant continents, and are knocking with their fists against the farthermost doors.

They think they are the early morning walkers of the new day which is dawning for mankind.

Everywhere they join hands: here they call themselves a party, and aim to get into political power by means of universal suffrage and strictly disciplined organization under the direction of elected leaders, in order at some future time to solve the social question from above by force; and there they call themselves a group, and preach the forcible overthrow of all external relations as the only deliverance out of that intolerable misery which always appears to have reached its highest point, and yet always grows greater, like the cloud which comes nearer and nearer, which yesterday we hardly noticed, which to-day already lowers above us with its threatening shadows, and which will discharge itself tomorrow — surely tomorrow: only we do not yet know the hour, the spot, and the measure of its force.

Everywhere they scatter their publications, their pamphlets. Everywhere they start their newspapers... Most of these enterprises indeed pass away again as quickly as they arose; they die of exhaustion, they are suppressed, but still their number is so large that it can no longer be ascertained. They are seed grains, fallen on sterile soil and among weeds: only a few strike root, grow, bear fruit for a few summers... But the hand that sowed them does not grow empty; courage, perseverance, and hope fill it again and again...

The revolutionaries of Socialism are scattered over all the great cities of the world.

But in none is their swarm so mixed as in London. Nowhere does it draw so closely together; nowhere does it go so far apart. Nowhere are its own dissensions more bitter, and nowhere does it fight the common enemy with greater bitterness. Nowhere does it speak in so many languages, and nowhere does it give expression to a greater variety of opinions in a greater variety of accents.

It embodies all types; and it shows them all in their most perfect and interesting as well as in their most demoralized and commonplace forms.

For the novice it is a chaos. But it soon becomes a splendid field of learning, where he quickly feels himself at home.

The life of the refugees in London has a great history.

When English Socialism, whose slow growth has not yet reached maturity, still lay in its swaddling clothes, the refugees of the fourth decade came to London, and at the instigation of men like Marx and others founded the first society of refugees of German workingmen in London, the “Communistic Workingmen’s Society,” which became the parent society of such variously constituted children that they no longer recognize each other as brothers and sisters.

The Russians came, with Herzen at their head, who rung his “Kolokol” there; and Bakounine came from his Siberian exile. Freiligrath came with magnificent songs on his trembling lips; and Kinkel came for a short time from the prison of Spandau; and Ruge with the scattered remains of his “Jahrbücher.” ... Mazzini lived there, the great patriot, the republican conspirator. There finally the Frenchmen: Louis Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, and the comrades of their fate...

All found rest and peace there, the peaceless rest of exile and the scanty bread of the banished...

Then the great names cease. There is a pause.

When with the advent of the eighth decade the creed of free Communism, which assumes the name of Anarchism, comes to London in the person of one of its first and most active champions who founds “Freiheit” there as its first organ, the “Communistic Workingmen’s Educational Society” has already separated into three sections, which soon meet only in bitter hostility: here the Social Democrats, the “blue,” there the Anarchists, the “red.” A few years later the publication of the new paper is transferred to New York; but London, where, since the passage of the law against Socialists in Germany in 1878, the movement has drifted into an entirely new channel, has again become the headquarters of all German refugees, although in a different way from that of thirty years ago...

Their physiognomies, their aspirations, their purposes, their aims, have totally changed. Everything is in a state of fermentation. All stand against each other; all who come — tired by hardships endured, embittered by terrible persecutions, driven into all forms of activity — are drawn into it: for in that bay of exile the waves ran more wildly than on the high seas.

It seems at times as if the refugees had forgotten their distant enemy, so bitterly they fight among themselves. Individual groups secede from the sections of the parent society, and refuse to retain even the old name. A few individuals, filled with restlessness and ambition, try to avail themselves of the dissension for the purpose of gathering up the severed threads and keeping them — in their own hands. The controversies for and against them are carried on for weeks and for months to the degree of exhaustion, when they cease and leave no other traces than estrangement, a pile of papers full of insinuations and suspicions, and a useless pamphlet.

In 1887, the year of the Chicago murder, the four German workingmen’s clubs of London were bound together only by the thin and already damaged bond of affiliation. Only a few of the members still associated with one another. As societies they came together only when the object was to join the English Socialists in some grand demonstration, to make a brilliant affair of some meeting, or to celebrate the days of March.

Trupp found his Club that evening well attended. Usually its rooms were filled only on the Sunday afternoons and evenings when not alone the members, but also their wives and children and the invited guests, came to attend the regular musical and theatrical entertainments. Those entertainments, open to everybody at an admission fee of sixpence, had the double purpose of furnishing new sources of revenue for the propaganda, the papers and pamphlets, and the countless occasions necessitating pecuniary assistance, and of offering a diversion from the cares of the past and the thoughts of the coming week in dance and light conversation, which often gave no hint of the excited struggles at the discussions and closed meetings.

Trupp hardly could force his way through the narrow passage from the door to the steps leading to the basement hall below. The bar-room on the left of the steps was crowded. Most of the people were standing before the counter, alone or in groups, glasses in hand, while only a small number had secured places beside the few tables. But there was still a corner for Trupp on one of the benches. They crowded more closely together, and he quickly took the first glass held out to him, emptying it at one draught.

The spirit of the gathering varied with the people. While a number of groups were moved by the noisy discussion of some question, others were almost dumb. An oppressive silence reigned at the table where Trupp had found a place. A young man was sitting at its other end. He was reading from a newspaper, but his voice was not clear, and he shed tears when he came to the details of the execution. He was surrounded on all sides. A look of threatening determination lay on all faces. But only suppressed words escaped the lips pressed together, and only their looks gave evidence of what most of them were thinking.

Suddenly Trupp saw Auban in a group of comrades standing at the counter where the host and his wife were untiringly seeking to gratify the wishes of the guests. They had not seen each other for eight days, since their excursion through the East End.

Why had Auban come that evening? It had been more an accident than deliberate intention which led him in the neighborhood of Tottenham Court Road and gave him the thought of visiting the Club for half an hour. The day had passed more quickly in work than he had dared to hope. The storms of the morning were followed by the calm of victory. Whoever saw him now found him cool and composed as ever.

Immediately upon his entrance he had been greeted by acquaintances. They had shown him the new rooms of the house; the upper rooms, where there was a billiard table and where the small conferences in closed circle were held, and the large meeting hall in the basement, which was very roomy and made an agreeable impression with its bright, clean walls.

In former years the Club had had at its disposal only the gloomy and dirty back room of a public house, of which they grew tired, especially in consequence of the quarrels that filled it for weeks and for months. And in the spirit of sacrifice they had now rented this house, where they felt comfortable.

In the bar-room, which was too small for the crowds always gathering there first, Auban had entered into a conversation. They had heard about the last discussion held at his place, and had many objections to offer to his theories.

What? He wanted to leave private property intact and to abolish the State? But the very function of the State is the protection of private property. And one man asked in English: —

“As long as there is private property it will need protection. Consequently, the State can fall only when the former falls. What have you to reply to that?”

“It is possible that private property will require protection. I shall buy that protection, and I shall combine with others for the protection of our property, whenever it will be necessary. But I claim that ninety-nine per cent of all so-called ‘crimes of property’ are committed by those who, driven to despair by the prevailing conditions, either cannot sell their labor or sell it only far below the limit of its price, — assuming that cost forms the true limit of price. I assert, therefore, that they must become a rarity from the hour when each shall be able to secure the full product of his labor, i.e. from the hour when State meddling shall cease.

“I assert, further, that self-protection will be more effective than the protection which the State forces on us without asking us if we want it. For example: —

“I could not kill a man, whether in war, in a duel, or in any other ‘legal’ manner. But I should not hesitate a moment to send a bullet through the head of the burglar who should enter my house with the intention of robbing and murdering me. And I believe that he would think twice before entering on the burglary if he were certain of such a reception, instead of knowing, as at present, that stupid laws make it difficult for me to protect my life and my property, and that at the worst he will receive but such and such punishment.

“I have chosen this example also for the benefit of those who still are unable to see the difference between a defensive and an aggressive action, and consequently between a voluntary association for mutual solidarity in definite cases which can be dissolved at any time, for instance, life insurance, etc., and a State which grants the individual neither the choice of entering nor of leaving it, except on the condition that he emigrates from the land of his birth.”

Auban ceased. But those who had listened to him made each of his sentences a text for lively discussions.

They tried to draw him into them. But Auban was not disposed to-day to talk much, and he declined. He descended the steps leading into the meeting hall. It was now filled, and there were many impatient calls for the exercises to begin.

Auban remained standing near the steps, at the entrance to the hall, whose benches stretching along the walls were now filled to the last seat. As the centre remained free, the assembly formed an oval circle in which each individual was recognizable by all. So most of them remained sitting in their places when they spoke.

On that evening few women were present. The men were mostly young, in the twenties and thirties.

The meeting did not differ in any respect from similar gatherings of workingmen, except, perhaps, in the proportionally large number of bold and energetic heads which bore the stamp of exceptional intelligence and great force of will. However, as is always the case, so here it was only the few who stood out so prominently as to be at once recognizable as the hewers of new paths, the axe-bearing pioneers and heralds of a new and better age.

They talked about Chicago. Many spoke. As soon as one had finished another began, and many a hand still rose in the air in sign that the list of speakers was not yet closed.

Most of them spoke briefly but violently. Plans were already being suggested as to the manner in which the propaganda of the death of the martyrs was to be inaugurated.

All agreed that something extraordinary must be done...

Then the debate turned on the question of founding a school for the children of the members who did not want them to be poisoned by the belief in the Church and the State prevailing in the public schools.

Those loud voices suddenly disturbed Auban. They did not harmonize with his mood. About Chicago this evening — in a meeting of such size: he felt it was not right; and the school question — he could not be of any help in it any way; his task was a different one.

He withdrew, therefore, into the quieter background of the hall, where a few comrades were sitting beside their glasses and their newspapers. One was reading, while another was carrying on a conversation in a low tone with a third, and a fourth had fallen asleep, overcome by the exertion of the day’s labor. A young, blonde man with a friendly expression was holding a child on his knees. The mother had died not long after his birth, and the father, who could not leave him at home alone, was obliged to take him with him to the Club, where he grew up: nursed and petted by rough hands, but watched over by good and faithful eyes, fostered by that tender spirit of love that dwells only in hearts which cannot alone love, but also hate... The young man had bestowed special care on the child, and he hung often for hours on his neck with his thin, small arms, while the father took part in a discussion; and nothing was more beautiful than the care and goodness with which he and the others tried to replace the mother for him.

Auban smiled when he saw that picture again. He came nearer and played with the child, who did not show a trace of fatigue. But then he was again overcome by his own heavy and serious thoughts. For he had seen a face at the same table which he knew but too well. It was a comrade who had become insane under the pressure of constant persecutions. At first over-sensitive, then seized by melancholy, his insanity had broken out here in London, where he had sought his last refuge, here, where he was in perfect security. He passed most of his time at the Club, where he usually sat in a corner, not disturbing anybody, and where he was treated with gentle sympathy by all who saw him. No one could help him any more; but they wished to save him, at least, from the insane asylum.

Intentionally Auban did not speak to him. It would only have troubled him. For the unfortunate man was most contented if left sitting alone in his corner, where, with murmuring lips, he could for hours stare before him, and with his nimble fingers draw incomprehensible figures on the table... He always recalled to Auban another comrade who had been overtaken by insanity in another way. It had been one of his young Parisian friends. Fiery, enthusiastic, devoted, he lived only for the cause. He could have given his life for it. He was thirsting to demonstrate his love, and he found no other way than that of a “deed.” He had been influenced by passionate speeches and inspiring promises. But his nature which shrank from violence and bloodshed, revolted. And in the long struggle between what seemed to him as his holiest duty and that nature which made its fulfilment an impossibility, his mind gave way...

While Auban was under the spell of that memory, he heard Trupp’s loud, clear voice, as it penetrated the hall from end to end.

“We must declare ourselves in solidarity, not only with the opinions of the murdered men of Chicago, but also with the deed of the bomb-thrower of the fourth of May, that glorious deed of a hero!” — and noticed the enthusiasm which those words elicited on all sides.

His flesh began to creep. He felt like rising and holding up his hands entreatingly against the fools who were ready to jump into the abyss that had opened before them. But his reason also showed him at once the perfect uselessness of his intention: instead of tempering the passions, his words would have fanned them to a higher flame on that evening.

He supported his head with his hands.

If possible, he wished to have a decisive word with Trupp that very evening.

He felt that there was nothing further for him to do here. He believed only in self-help. They would have to proceed along their lines and make their experiences, from which neither he nor any one else could save them.

And he again asked himself the question which had often come to him of late years: “Have you any right whatever to help? to influence? to counsel? Was there any other way than that of experience? And did not all experience require time to be made? Was it right to forestall it?”

Auban had, therefore, but rarely taken part in any discussions since he came to London. But he always remembered with pleasure an evening when he had discussed the question of the gratuity of mutual credit with four or five others in the narrow bar-room above him. Each had taken part, not with long explanations, but with brief, concise questions; each had had an opportunity to formulate and express his ideas as he wished, so that, when they separated, all demanded the continuation of such meetings, so animated were they and enthusiastic over the profitable manner of exchanging opinions. When they met again, this time not in the exceptionally small circle, but in the usual large number, everything had been led back into the old rut: one speaker rose, spoke for two hours, — in accordance with the principle of personal liberty each had the right to speak as long as he wished, and none the right to interrupt him, — digressed, took up entirely foreign subjects, tired some and bored others, so that Auban had given up the matter and gone away discouraged. It was the last attempt of the kind he had made.

He had not only sympathy, but also admiration for those men who occupied themselves after their day’s hard labor with the most serious problems in the most devoted manner, while they saw others diverting themselves in a stupid game at cards or in shallow talk. He respected them from the bottom of his heart. But only the more deeply did he deplore the intangible vagueness of their aspirations, which would not achieve a single aim, would grow more and more desperate, and after a thousand sacrifices end like all similar ones before them, — in blood and defeat.

For in reality they were not struggling for the improvement of their own lot. They struggled for ideals which were unattainable because utterly visionary. Moreover, they had only contempt and scorn for all “practical” aspirations of their class to help itself, which, in comparison with their “great aims” of the emancipation of mankind, etc., seemed paltry and prosaic.

Their mental confusion seemed almost incurable to Auban since he had recognized it. He had often made experiments to see how far it extended, and met with results that first amazed and finally discouraged him.

Thus he had once put the first and simplest of all questions to each of a number of his acquaintances: —

“To whom does the product of your labor belong?” he asked in turn, first a number of inveterate Social Democrats of strictest faith; several Communists, both those who championed compulsory Communism and those who saw in the autonomy of the individual the final aim, and regarded themselves as Anarchists; finally, a number of English Socialists. If they had all been logical thinkers, they would have been obliged to reply on the basis of their philosophy of Socialism: “My labor belongs to the others: the State, society, mankind... I have no right to it.” ... But a Social Democrat replied without hesitation: his labor belonged to him; and an Autonomist: his labor belonged to society; and Auban was surprised to learn that those who were most bitterly fighting among themselves agreed on this one question, of which all others are corollaries; and that those who occupied one and the same ground gave directly opposite answers...

Indeed, nothing had yet been cleared up. Most of them were bound together not by clear thoughts, but by dull feelings which had not yet shaken off the torpor of sleep. Revolutions are fought with those feelings, but no truths are fathomed by them. The cool, refreshing bath of experience must first have washed the sleep from the eyes of the awaking masses, before they would be able to proceed to the labor of the new day...

It was necessary to be patient and not to lose courage! ... Auban thought again of Trupp, and wanted to see him. He could not find him in the hall, and so went up stairs again.

When he entered the bar-room again, he found Trupp engaged in conversation with a man whose bearing and dress at once showed that he was no workingman, but wished to appear one. He stopped, therefore, and at the same time caught a look of his friend, which he instantly understood. The stranger, who had been drinking from the glass before him, could not have noticed anything of the rapid, silent exchange of ideas.

Most of the people had gone down into the hall. Only at the table a few comrades were still sitting, reading and playing cards. Auban joined them and sat down with his back towards Trupp. Then he took up one of the papers lying about, and appeared to be reading it attentively.

Of the conversation carried on behind him he could understand only a few words, especially as it was in German. Both speakers intentionally lowered their voices. But he had not been sitting there five minutes, when he felt Trupp’s hand on his shoulder.

“Will you go with us? Let us have another glass of beer.” He turned instantly, and noticed in rising how little the stranger could suppress his embarrassment at this invitation.

All three left the Club together. The stranger concealed his embarrassment in passing through the door by politely allowing Auban to take the lead. When they were on the street, Trupp said in a loud voice to Auban: “A banished comrade from Berlin! A fine place, isn’t it?”

Auban bit his lips. On such occasions his friend was an expert.

“What are you?” he asked the Berlinian, in German.

“I am a shoemaker, but I cannot find any work here.”

“Oh, you are a shoemaker! But how do you wash your hands to get them so white?” Auban continued.

Now the stranger grew seriously alarmed. His timid look passed alternately from one to the other. He was walking between the two. He wanted to stop, but Trupp and Auban walked on unconcerned, so that he could only ask: “You do not believe me?”

Trupp burst into a loud laugh, which sounded as natural as that of a child, “Nonsense, the comrade is joking. Who would not believe you?”

And he suddenly grew very talkative, so that the others could not get in a word. But all that he said turned on the unmasking of decoys, police agents, and similar shady characters. He made fun of the ignorance both of the authorities and their tools. He spoke also of the voluntary spies who had sneaked into the clubs and meetings, and thrust their noses into everything until they were thrown out, when they finally filled the newspapers with lying reports of things they had hardly seen and did not understand.

Trupp’s intention was no longer to be mistaken, especially since he did not concern himself about Auban, who, apparently absorbed in his own thoughts, sauntered along, but step for step kept closely by the side of the stranger, who could not escape from him, and whom each of his words put in perceptibly greater alarm and fear.

They had reached a narrow and dark street, which was illumined only by a single lantern and entirely deserted. Here several houses stood considerably back, leaving a large open space before the street again grew narrow.

Trupp had reached his destination, and suddenly interrupted himself.

The decoy saw that all was lost.

“Where are we going?” he uttered, with an effort, and stopped. “I do not want to go farther —”

Already Trupp’s strong hands had seized him and pushed him powerfully against the wall.

“You scoundrel!” he broke forth. “Now I have you!”

And twice his free hand struck the face of the wretch; once from the right and once from the left, and both times Auban heard the clashing blow of that iron hand.

The stranger was stunned. He raised his arms only in defence, to protect his face.

But Trupp commanded: “Arms down!” and involuntarily, like a child that is punished by his teacher, he dropped his arms.

Again — and again — Trupp’s hand struck out, and with every blow his wrath also found relief in words: “You knave — you contemptible knave — you wanted to betray us, you spy? Just wait, you will not come again!”

And again his hand descended.

“Help me; he is strangling me!” came gaspingly from the lips of the man, who was seized by the terror of death.

But Auban, unsympathetic, half turned away, his arms crossed on his breast, did not stir.

And Trupp shook his victim like a doll of straw. “Yes, one ought to strangle dogs like you,” he again broke forth. “It would be the best thing one could do! All of you, decoys that you are, scoundrels!” — and while he lifted the fellow from his cowering position, he dragged him with the hand which he seemed to have inextricably buried in his breast, closer into the unsteady, flickering light of the lantern and showed Auban the pale, cowardly face, distorted by the fear of death, and disfigured under the blows of that murderous iron fist: “See, Auban; so they look, those wretches, who pursue the lowest of all callings!” He opened his fist, which lay like a vice on the breast of his victim, who — exhausted and dizzy — staggered, fell down, picked himself up again, muttered some incomprehensible words, and disappeared in the darkness.

The two friends gave the fellow no further attention. While they were rapidly walking towards Oxford Street, Trupp related the details of this new case. The friends now spoke French.

One day the fellow had come to one of the members with a letter of recommendation from a comrade in Berlin. The member took the bearer into the Club, and inquiry in Berlin confirmed the recommendation. But then it became known that the real receiver of it was not identical with the bearer; that the latter had been given it by the former, and had introduced himself under an assumed name. Thereupon, one of the comrades, without arousing his suspicions, went to room with him, and managed to get hold of his entire correspondence, which showed him to be a decoy in the direct pay of the German police, who for a monthly salary had undertaken to give his employers all desired information regarding the proceedings in the London Anarchistic clubs. They wanted to avoid a scandal in the Club, in order not to give the English police the coveted opportunity for entering it. He had undertaken the chastisement of which Auban had just been a witness.

Exposures of this kind were neither new nor especially rare. Generally, the fellows devoting themselves to that most sordid and contemptible of all callings escaped with a sound thrashing; often they scented what was coming, and anticipated a discovery by timely flight. In consequence of ceaseless denunciation, vilification, and persecution the suspicion among the revolutionists had grown very great. Important plans were no longer discussed in larger circles, and mostly remained the secret of a few intimates, or were locked up in the breast of a single individual. But greater still than against unknown workingmen was the suspicion against intellectual workers, in consequence of the sad experiences that had been made with newspaper writers and littérateurs. Nothing was more justifiable than caution in regard to these people; out of every ten there were surely nine who, under the pretence of wishing to “study” the teachings of Anarchism, only tried to penetrate the secrets of the propaganda in order to spread before their ignorant and injudicious readers the most harrowing tales concerning those “bands of murderers and criminals.” That many an intellectual proletaire, who was suffering just as much, if not more, than the hand-worker from the pressure of the prevailing conditions, and who was consequently filled by the same great hatred against them, was frightened away by that suspicion, — when he came to place his talents in the service of the “most progressive of all parties,” — was a fact which, as Trupp said, was “not to be changed.” The greater were the hopes which Auban began to place in them: bound by no considerations, and in the possession of an education weighing heavily upon them, they would surely be the first and for the present perhaps also the only ones who are not alone willing, but also capable of drawing the conclusions of Individualism.

Trupp had reached a point in the conversation which always excited him very much.

“The Social Democrats assert,” he said, with his bitter laugh, “all Anarchists are decoys; or, if it happens to suit them better, that there are no Anarchists at all. Ah,” he continued, indignant, “there is nothing too mean that was not done against us by that party, above all, by its worthy leaders, who lead the workingmen by the nose in a perfectly outrageous manner. First they mocked and ridiculed us; then they vilified and denounced us; they harmed us wherever they could. From the beginning till now they saw in us their bitterest enemies, all because we attempted to open the eyes of the workingman to the uselessness of his sacrifices, of the suffrage humbug, of political wire-pulling. You have no idea, Auban, how corrupt the party is in Germany: the loyal Prussian subjects are not less self-reliant and more servile in relation to their lord and master than the German workingmen, who belong to the party, in relation to their leaders! ... How will it end?”

“Well,” Auban observed, calmly, “there is an immense difference between the workingmen as a class and the Social Democrats as a party. It is hardly conceivable that the former will ever be completely absorbed by the latter. Therefore, we need not stand in too great fear of the future. I even believe that the most important steps in the emancipation of labor will not be initiated by the Socialistic parties, but by the workingmen themselves, who will here and there gradually come to understand their true interests. They will simply push the party aside.

“But still less will they have anything to do with you. You must make that clear to yourselves. For in the first place, they can understand you at best with the heart, but not with the intellect, and for the real improvement of their condition they need nothing more than their intellect, which alone can show them the right road: I mean Egoism. And in the second place, by your perfectly absurd blending of all sorts of views, but still more by the policy you pursue, you have challenged the prejudices of ignorance, and apparently justified them, to such a degree that it requires an exceptionally independent will and a very rare love of knowledge to study your ways. Or a warm heart — which you all have!”

“As if you did not have it?” Trupp laughed, bitterly.

“Yes; warm enough, I hope, to love the cause of liberty forever. But no longer warm enough to harm it by folly.”

“What do you call folly? Our policy?”


“You say that?” said Trupp, almost threateningly.

“Yes; I.”

“Well, then it is about time that we came to a thorough understanding of the matter.”

“Certainly. But first let us be alone. Not here on the street.”

They walked on rapidly. Trupp was silent. When the light of a lantern fell on them, Auban saw how his whole frame trembled as if shaken by chill, while he was sucking the blood flowing from a wound in his hand, which must have grazed the wall while he was punishing the decoy.

“You are shivering?” he asked, thinking the excitement was the cause of it.

But Trupp exclaimed sullenly that it was nothing: he had only been running about the whole day, and forgotten to eat in consequence. Auban shook his head.

“You are incorrigible, Otto! To eat nothing the whole day, what folly!”

He took him by the arm and drew him away. They entered a small, modest restaurant on Oxford Street. There they knew a little-frequented back room. As they sat on the brown leather sofa in the quiet corner, and Trupp ate hastily and silently, while Auban watched him chewing his meat with his strong teeth, he reminded him that in that very room they had sat opposite each other after years of separation, and he said, smiling: —

“Is not everything as it was then?” ...

But Trupp cast a bitter look of reproach on him, and pushed aside his plate and glass. His temporary weakness had disappeared, and he was again entirely the iron man, whose physical strength was inexhaustible.

“Now let us talk. Or are you tired?”

“I am not tired,” said Auban.

Trupp reflected a moment. He feared the coming conversation, for he suspected that it would be decisive. He wished with all his heart by means of it to win back his friend to the cause of the revolution, to the conflict of the hour, in which he and his comrades were engaged, for he knew how invaluable his services were. He did not wish intentionally to bring about a rupture by a rude attack, but neither could he suppress the reproaches that had been gathering within him.

“Since you have been in London,” he began, “and out of prison, you are another man. I hardly know you any more. You have no longer taken part in anything: in any meeting, or scheme, or enterprise. You have no longer written anything; not a line. You have lost almost all touch with us. What excuse have you?”

“What excuse have I?” asked Auban, a little sharply. “What for? And to whom do I owe it?”

“To the cause!” replied Trupp, vehemently.

“My cause is my liberty.”

“Once liberty was your cause.”

“That was my mistake. Once I believed that I must begin with the others; I have now learned that it is necessary to begin with one’s self and always to start from one’s self.”

Trupp was silent. Then Auban began: —

“Two weeks ago we talked about our opinions at my house, and I trust I showed you where I stand, although I may not hope to have made it clear to you where you stand. I desired to place the one side of the question in a glaring light. The other side is still in the dark between us: that of policy. In shedding a light on it, too, this evening, I assume you are convinced that it is not moral or kindred scruples that move me to say to you: I consider the policy which you pursue, the so-called ‘propaganda of deed,’ not alone as useless, but also as harmful. You will never win a lasting victory by it.”

Trupp’s eyes were firmly fixed on the speaker. They flashed with excitement, and his bleeding hand, wrapped in a cloth, fell clinched on the table.

“It is well that we talk!” he exclaimed. “You demand, then, that we should idly fold our hands and calmly allow ourselves to be killed?”

He sprang up.

“You defend our enemies!” he ejaculated.

“On the contrary, I have discovered a weapon against which they are powerless,” said Auban, calmly, and placed his hand on the arm of his excited friend, forcing him back to his place.

“I hate force in every form!” he continued; and now he seemed to be the one who wished to convince and win the other over to his idea. “The important thing is to make force impossible. That is not done by opposing force by force: the devil will not be driven out by Beelzebub... Already you have changed your opinions on some points. Once you championed the secret societies and the large associations which were to unite the proletaires of all lands and all tongues; then you became aware how easy it was for the government to smuggle one of its dirty tools into the former, who at once seizes all your clews, and how in every instance the latter have broken up, yielded to time and to their own fate; and since then you have more and more fallen back on the individual and preach as the only expedient method the forming of small groups, which know next to nothing about each other, and the individual deed as the only correct thing; since then you even condemn confidence among the most intimate friends in certain cases. Once your paper was published in ‘Nowhere’ by the ‘Free Common Press’; now it is published like every other paper with the name and address of the printer on the last page... And thus everything, the entire movement, has been more and more placed in the light of publicity.”

He paused a moment.

Then he said impressively: —

“Your entire policy is a false one. Let us never forget that we are engaged in war.

“But what is the alpha and omega of all warfare? Every lieutenant can tell you.

“To deal the heaviest possible blows against the enemy at the least possible cost to yourself.

“Modern warfare recognizes more and more the value of the defensive; it condemns more and more the useless attack.

“Let us learn from it, as we ought to learn from everything that can in any way profit us.

“But my objections are of a far more serious kind. I accuse you even of ignoring the very first condition of all warfare: of neglecting to inform yourselves concerning your own and the enemy’s forces.

“It must be said: you overrate yourselves and underrate the enemy!”

“And what,” asked Trupp, scornfully, “are we to do, if I may ask?”

“What you are to do, I do not know. You must know yourselves. But I assert: passive resistance against aggressive force is the only means to break it.”

Trupp laughed, and a lively conversation arose between the two men. Each defended his policy, illustrating its effectiveness by examples.

It was late when they closed: Auban persuaded of the impossibility of convincing his friend, and the latter embittered and irritated by his “apostasy.”

They left the public house, and quickly reached the place where Tottenham Court Road meets with Oxford Street and the streets from the south. Entering one of the narrower and less crowded thoroughfares they walked up and down, and said their final and decisive words.

“You work into the hands of the government by your propaganda. You fulfil their dearest wishes. Nothing comes more opportunely to them than your policy, which enables them to employ means of oppression for which they would else lack all excuse. Proof: the agents provocateurs who instigate such deeds in their service. There is a ghastly humor in the thought that you are — the voluntary accomplices of authority, you who want liberty!” ...

He ceased, while from afar the tumult of Oxford Street came into that dark and quiet side street which was frequented only by a few timid forms which had separated themselves from the stream of humanity of the main thoroughfare, like sparkling embers from an ash-heap.

Trupp stood still. By the suppressed tone of his voice, Auban knew how hard it was for him to say what he had to say.

“You are no longer a revolutionist! You have renounced the grand cause of humanity. Formerly you understood us, and we understood you. Now we no longer understand you, because you no longer understand us. You have become a bourgeois. Or rather: you have always been a bourgeois. Return whence you came. We shall reach our aim without you.”

Auban laughed. He laughed so loudly that the passers-by stopped and looked round. And that loud, full, clear laugh, which showed how little those words hurt him, formed an outlet for what had oppressed his breast these last days.

“I not understand you, Otto!” he said, while his laughter yielded to the earnestness of his words. “You do not believe yourself what you say. I not understand you, I who for years felt with your feelings and thought with your thoughts! If you were to set fire to the cities in a hundred points at once, if you were to desolate the countries as far as your power extended, if you were to blow up the earth or to drown it in blood, — I should understand you! If you were to take revenge on your enemies by exterminating them one and all, — I could understand it! And if it were necessary in order to at last achieve liberty — I should join your ranks and fight unto my latest breath! I understand you, but I no longer believe in the violent progress of things. And because I no longer believe in it, I condemn force as the weapon of the foolish and the blind.” ...

And as he recalled what Trupp had just said, he again had to laugh, and he closed: —

“Indeed, after all you have told me to-day it is only necessary to add that I condemn the policy of force in order — to spare the enemy!”

But again his laughter was silenced as his look met that of Trupp, who said, in a hard and almost hostile voice: —

“He that is not with us is against us!”

The two men stood opposite each other, so closely that their breasts seemed to touch. Their eyes met in iron determination.

“Very well,” said Auban, and his voice was as calm as ever, “continue to throw bombs, and continue to suffer hanging for it, if you will never grow wise. I am the last to deny the suicide the right of destroying himself. But you preach your policy as a duty towards mankind, while yon do not exemplify it in your lives. It is that against which I protest. You assume a tremendous responsibility: the responsibility for the life of others.” ...

“For the happiness of mankind sacrifices must be made,” said Trupp, frowning.

“Then make a sacrifice of yourselves!” cried Auban. “Then be men, not talkers! If you really believe in the emancipation of mankind by means of force, and if no experiences can cure you of that mad faith, then act instead of sitting in your clubs and intoxicating yourselves with your phrases! Then shake the world with your bombs, turn upon it the face of horror, so that it shall fear you instead of only hating you as now!” ...

Trupp grew pale. Never had the sorest of all spots between them been touched so mercilessly.

“What I shall do, and I can speak only for myself, you do not know. But you will some day see,” he muttered. Auban’s words had not applied to him. His was a nature which knew neither cowardice nor indecision, and which was strong enough to accomplish what it promised. But he felt with bitterness how true the accusation was in general which he had just heard.

And he deliberately brought the conversation to a close by saying: —

“What are we to each other any longer? My life is my cause. You became my friend because you were my comrade. My comrades are my friends. I know of no other friendship. You have renounced the cause — we have nothing in common any longer. You will not betray it, but you will no longer be of any service to it, such as you now are. It is better we part.”

Auban’s excitement had again subsided.

“You must act as you consider best, Otto. If you want me, you will find me by following the course of liberty. But where are you going?”

“I go with my brothers, who suffer as I do!”

They took each other’s hand with the same firm grasp as ever.

Then they separated: each going his own long, solitary way, absorbed in thoughts which were as different as the course they took. They knew that a long time would pass before they would meet again; and they suspected that on the present evening they had spoken together alone for the last time.

Till now they had been friends; henceforth they would be opponents, although opponents in the struggle for an ideal which both called by the same name: liberty.
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Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:47 am

Chapter 9: Trafalgar Square

London was in a fever.

It reached its highest point on the second Sunday of November, the Sunday following the events of Chicago.

Among the many memorable days of that memorable year this thirteenth of November was destined to take a most prominent place.

For a month, according to the whim of the police authorities, the “unemployed” had been alternately driven from and admitted to Trafalgar Square, the most accessible public meeting ground of the city.

This condition was intolerable for any length of time. The complaints of the starving masses grew more and more desperate, while the hotel-keepers and pawnbrokers considered the meetings as harmful to their business and invoked the protection of their servants, the “organs of public power.”

At the beginning of the month a decree of the police commissioner interdicted the further holding of meetings on Trafalgar Square.

For thirty years this place, “the finest site of Europe,” had been used by all parties at innumerable gatherings on the most varied occasions. A stroke of the hand was to drive them all away.

The first question raised was that of the “legality” of this despotic measure. The columns of the newspapers were filled with paragraphs from antiquated statute-books, which were paralleled by some taken from still older volumes: those insignia of a usurped power which fill all who have been reared in the faith of human authority with the mysterious awe of the inscrutable.

It is said that every citizen of the State helps make the laws of his country. But is there a single man among the thousands who knows what 57 George III. cap. 19, sec. 23, or 2 and 3 Vic. c. 47, sec. 52 means? Hieroglyphics.

To the chief of police it was of course a matter of perfect indifference whether his decree was “legal” or “illegal.” If he had the power to enforce it to-day, it was “legal,” and Trafalgar Square the property of the queen and the crown; if the “people” was strong enough to drive him and his men tomorrow from Trafalgar Square, the place remained what it had been, the “property of the people,” and everybody could talk on it as much and as long as he found hearers who listened to him, or longer.

The question of the unemployed was pushed into the background at a blow. The Tory administration was suddenly opposed by the radical and liberal parties in battle array, who re-enforced the Socialists, and raised against the “terrorism” of the former their cry of the inalienable “right of free speech.”

They decided to hold a public meeting on Trafalgar Square on Sunday, the thirteenth, with the programme: “Protest against the recent imprisonment of an Irish leader.”

The preparations for the battle were conducted on both sides with feverish zeal: the Tories were firmly resolved not to stop short of the shedding of blood in beating down any attempt at occupying the Square, while the opposition parties were equally determined on capturing it at any cost.

The excitement in the city had been growing daily. On Saturday the authorities published a second ukase interdicting the approach of the Square on Sunday in the form of a procession.

There were not a few who believed they were on the eve of a revolution...

Auban had risen later than usual. His head felt dull. Nevertheless, he had taken up his work. But he was interrupted by a caller.

He shrugged his shoulders as he read the name “Frederick Waller” on the card that was handed him. What did that man still want of him? As a boy he had offered him his friendship, which Auban had not desired. Later, — he had built up a large business in Lothringia and travelled a great deal, — he had twice called on him in Paris, and Auban had explained those visits by the fact of his temporary popularity, received him coolly, and dismissed him coolly. Now, after years, this man again approached him, with whom he had not a thought, not a sentiment, in common, and who belonged to a circle of people who had always been hateful to him in his inmost soul. But now he wanted to learn what brought him to him.

He wanted to directly ask him what his intentions were. But the other anticipated him by remarking that it was his duty not to entirely lose sight of his relatives. It was the same curious interest in the strange life which had once drawn him to the boy. He knew little about Auban. But as he suspected his radical views, he said confidentially that he, too, was anything but conservative, but that Auban would certainly understand how much his position compelled him to exercise the greatest caution. But Auban had neither patience nor understanding for men of that stamp. He wrapped himself in his frigid superiority, entirely ignored the question of his relative after his own life, made no inquiries, and expressed his opinions with their original harshness. When the visitor went away, he felt as if he had been overtaken listening at a strange door, and he made up his mind never again to repeat the attempt to get at Auban, who had this time plainly shown him how little he thought of him and his entire kith and kin.

In Auban this call awakened memories of long past years, which he followed up for a long time.

What a difference between then and now!

And yet it seemed to him sometimes as if his present self were more like the boy who, alone and reserved, labored to open the iron gates of truth in the quiet nights when no one saw him, with his soft and unskilled fingers, than like the youth who once presumed to storm them with fire and sword.

His was not a nature capable of permanently occupying a position exposing him on all sides to the gaze of a thousand eyes. He did not possess enough of levity, of ambition, of conceit, of self-complacency for that.

It was well that his fate had taken such a turn...

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon.

Auban was slowly coming from the north of the city.

All the streets he passed were almost deserted. Only Oxford Street showed stray signs of life. It was not far from four o’clock when he approached Trafalgar Square. At St. Martin’s Lane he had to stop: crowds of men obstructed the neighboring entrances of the side streets. He had arrived at the very moment when one of the four processions which at that hour tried to get access to the Square from four different sides, the one coming from Clerkenwell Green, came into collision with the police awaiting it here. He forced his way to the front as far as he could, but it was impossible for him to break through the last line of the crowd. He had to look between the heads and over them to see what was going on beyond.

The procession was headed by a woman. She carried a red flag. Auban took her and the men surrounding her, who grasped their canes more firmly, for members of the Socialist League. Directly behind the flag-bearer came the music. They played the Marseillaise. The procession was pretty long. Auban could not see it all. Only waving flags rose above the black throng.

In closed ranks the police awaited the procession. Holding in readiness their oaken clubs, they watched for the sign of attack from the superintendent.

When the procession had come up to them within a horse’s length, calls passed back and forth, while at the same time the police made such a savage attack that the closed ranks of the procession seemed as if torn asunder. A fierce hand-to-hand fight followed. One tall policeman had sprung upon the woman and torn the flag out of her hands, which she held high in the air with all her strength. She staggered and fell down in a swoon, while a violent blow of a cane struck the neck of her assailant. The musicians fought for their instruments, which were taken from them, trampled on, and demolished. Some tried to save them by flight. With iron might the police handled their clubs, unconcerned where they struck. The attacked made a desperate defence. Most of them carried heavy canes and struck about them in mad rage. The confusion was indescribable. The air was filled with curses, cries of pain, words of abuse, the shrill howl of the multitude which, wherever it could, threw itself into the fight, dull blows, the tramp of heavy shoes on the hard pavement, the breaking of lanterns struck by stones... People beat, kicked, scratched each other, sought to trip one another up, got entangled in a tight grip, pulling one another down.

Farther and farther the police pushed forward, driving the crowd before them, surrounded by it, but, mutually rushing to each other’s aid, scattering it by the blows of their clubs. Farther and farther the attacked receded. There was no longer a trace of discipline among them. Some escaped in disorderly flight, others fought on the spot where they stood until they were overpowered, seized, and led away. After ten minutes the victory of the uniforms was decided: the flags were captured, the musical instruments demolished, the entire procession routed... Some of the last of its ranks were pursued through the whole length of St. Martin’s Lane, some driven into the side streets, where they mixed with the howling crowd and were carried away by it in hopeless confusion.

Auban also. He saw how a small division of the police, with their clubs in the air, came rushing towards the entrance of the street where he stood, felt how the crowd enclosing him got into motion, and, irresistibly carried away by it, he found himself the next minute at the other end of the street, where angry speech, laughter, and howling gave relief to the terror of the outraged crowd.

Then everything again streamed in the direction of Trafalgar Square. Auban also. He wished to reach it without again getting into too great a throng. But he could go by no other route than that leading by the church of St. Martin.

After what he had just seen, he was convinced that none of the processions would ever be able to gain access to the Square...

Trafalgar Square lay before him; bounded on the north by the severe structure of the National Gallery, by great club-houses and hotels on the east and west, it slopes gradually towards the south, where it broadens once more before it ends in a number of wide streets.

Its interior lower surface, formed by the terraces of the streets and bearing as an imposing feature the Nelson Column at the south, that large, cold, empty surface, adorned only by two immense fountains, was to-day completely in possession of the authorities; as Auban saw at a glance.

He became alarmed as he thought that the attempt might be made to drive from the place a force which, if not in numbers, was infinitely superior in discipline and military skill. It was indeed an army that was stationed there: a superficial estimate fixed its strength at from three to four thousand men. Who could drive it away? Not fifty, not a hundred thousand.

He left his place, and slowly drifted past the National Gallery. Here the surging crowds were kept in constant motion by the police. Where the constables saw a crowd, there they directed their attacks, by driving the wedge of their men into it. Every man who remained standing was incessantly commanded to “Move on! Move on!”

Walking down the west side, Auban now became convinced, at every step he took, of the well-considered plan of all these preparations. The steps leading to the north were strongly garrisoned. Here, and along the two other enclosed sides, a double line of policemen made it utterly impossible to climb over the enclosure and jump into the Square.

A reporter who knew Auban gave him a few figures which he had just learned and was now putting in his note-book, while Auban furnished him with some details concerning the Clerkenwell procession. The police had occupied the Square already since nine o’clock in the morning. Since twelve in full force. About one thousand five hundred constables and three thousand policemen had been summoned from all parts of London, besides several hundred mounted police. The Life and the Grenadier Guards were being held in reserve.

The southern open side of the Square, in the centre of which the Nelson Column rises on an immense base guarded by four gigantic lions, was most strongly garrisoned, since no wall obstructed the entrance there. The “protectors of order” guarded the place here in lines four and five men deep; and a long line of mounted police was stationed here, who from time to time flanked the streets.

Here, in the wide space in front of the column which is formed by the meeting of four large streets, here, around the monument of Charles I., the crowds seemed densest. The masses appeared to grow larger from minute to minute. From all sides portions of the scattered processions congregated here in smaller or larger bands, no longer with flags and music and courageous spirits, but clasped together arm in arm, incensed by their defeat to the last degree, no longer hopeful of still capturing the place, but determined to have their revenge in minor collisions.

Auban studied the physiognomy of the crowd. Out of every five certainly two were curiosity-seekers, who had come to enjoy a rare spectacle, they willingly went wherever the police drove them. But surely many a one among them lost his equanimity in witnessing the brutalities that were committed about him, and by taking sides with the attacked, became a participant in the event of the day against his will. Another fifth certainly consisted of the “mob”: fishers in troubled waters, professional pickpockets, ruffians, idlers who make a better living than the honest workingman, pimps — in short, of all those who are always on hand, as nothing binds them. They were mostly very young. As the most personal enemies of the police, with whom they are engaged in daily struggle, they allowed no opportunity to pass in taking their revenge on them. Armed with stones, sticks, and pocket-knives, they inflicted painful injuries upon the police; whereupon they escaped as quick as lightning, disappearing in the crowds without leaving a trace and emerging at another place the next minute with loud howls and shrieks, to vent their spite afresh. They were present, moreover, at all collisions, aggravating the tumult, intensifying the confusion, exasperating the rage to the highest pitch by their wild shrieks. There remained only two-fifths, who consisted of those who were directly interested in the present afternoon: those who saw in the struggle an important political action, the members of the radical parties, the Socialists, the unemployed... And those truly interested persons who had not been attracted by curiosity, the observing and thoughtful spectators to whom he himself belonged.

He had arrived at the south end of the place, half jostled, half pushed. Here the crowding was intense and the masses were steadily growing more excited. It had just struck four o’clock: Auban saw the hands on Dent’s clock. At the foot of the Nelson Column a violent collision took place. Two men, a Socialist leader and a radical member of parliament, undertook to gain admission by force. After a short hand-to-hand fight, they were overpowered and arrested.

Auban could not see anything but clubs and sticks swinging in the air, and uplifted arms...

He tried to go on, but met with difficulties. The mounted police continually flanked the way between the column and the monument of Charles I., in order to keep it clear. The masses, wedged in as they were, began to scatter in all directions: gathered into small groups, filled with fear, around the lantern posts; fled down Whitehall; or were pushed close against the lines of the police, by whom they were brutally driven away.

Auban waited until the riders had galloped by, and then reached one of the crossings where he felt secure beside the lantern post. But a constable drove away the crowd gathering here. “Move on, sir!” he commanded Auban too. But Auban looked calmly into the flushed face of the angry man, and pointed to the horses that again came storming towards him. “Where to?” he asked. “Must I let those horses ride over me or rush into the clubs of your men?” His calmness made an impression. When the street was again clear for half a minute, he safely reached the sidewalk in front of Morley’s Hotel on the east side of the Square.

There he was suddenly seized by the arm. Before him stood an English acquaintance. His collar was torn, his hat soiled. He was in a state of the greatest excitement. After a few hasty questions back and forth, he said that the long procession from the south had also been dispersed.

While they — kept on the move by the police — held closely together in order not to be separated, and drifted to and fro with the crowd into which they were wedged, the Englishman said, with breathless haste: —

“We gathered at Rotherhithe: the radical and other societies and clubs of Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, etc., met on our way the Peckham Radical Club, the associations of Camberwell and Walworth, and in Westminster Bridge Road also those of St. Georges — it was an enormous procession, with numerous banners, music bands, adorned with green, accompanied by an endless mass of people on both sides, which in the best of order crossed the entirely vacant bridge of Westminster.

“As was agreed, we were to meet with the procession from Lambeth and Battersea in Bridge Street at Parliament House. Then we were to march in a straight line from south to north, up Whitehall, to this place. Just imagine: a single great procession of imposing length, representing the entire south of London, the entire section of the city on the other side of the Thames — from Woolwich and Greenwich to Battersea and Wandworth! ...

“But our two processions had not joined each other, we had not reached Parliament Street, when the battle began. I was pretty far in the front ranks. Ah, the brutes, galloping on their horses into our ranks, breaking and tearing our flags, knocking down whatever comes in their way!”

“It was fortunate you did not get farther,” Auban interrupted him, “for I have heard that the Life Guards were held in reserve in Whitehall. I am surprised that they are not yet here, for the situation is getting more serious.”

“But we defended ourselves,” exclaimed the other, “with my loaded cane I gave one —”

He did not finish his sentence. For a division of the police began to clear the sidewalk, dispersed the throng congregated there, and the next minute Auban was again alone. He was again near Morley’s Hotel; the steps had just been cleared to the last man, but were again occupied with the rapidity of lightning. Auban secured an elevated position...

From here the place and its surroundings could be easily overlooked, and presented a grand view. For four hours the multitude that surged around it had been steadily growing and seemed now to have reached the limit of its size as well as the culmination of its excitement. The windows and balconies of the neighboring houses were occupied to the last corner by the spectators of this wholly unusual and singular sight who followed every collision between police and the people with passionate interest and applauded the brutalities of the former. On the balconies of the club-houses lying opposite, the gilded youth of London indulged in the innocent pleasure, as Auban had observed before, of spitting on the “mob,” against whose wrath they felt as secure in their high position as in a church...

In the south of the place, there where the masses surged through the wide bed of the streets like a wildly swollen stream, the situation seemed to grow more and more serious. Nevertheless, the traffic of omnibuses, often interrupted, went on. Crowded to overflowing, the heavy vehicles moved on step by step. Like ships they floated through the black human flood. On their tops stood excited men who gesticulated with their hands in the air, and improved the opportunity of saying at least a few sympathetic words to the multitude below. The horses and wheels made passages for swarms of people, who followed each vehicle like so many tails.

There Auban suddenly saw an extraordinary excitement, like an electric current, passing through the masses and coming nearer and nearer. Faster than before, they scattered in all directions, and louder and more frightened grew the cries and calls. What was it?

Horsemen appeared.

And: —

“The Life Guards!” exclaimed a hundred voices. The police seemed forgotten. All eyes hung on the shining cuirasses and the tufted helmets of the riders, who, about two hundred in number, slowly approached the Nelson Column, then turned to the right, and in quiet march proceeded on the way to the National Gallery, past the steps where Auban stood.

A man in civilian’s dress rode at the head, between the commanding officers, a roll of paper in his hand. And: —

“The Riots Act!” exclaimed again the voices. The representative of the magistrate of the city was received with loud cries.

“We are all good Englishmen and law-abiding citizens — we need no —” cried one.

“You damned fool, put away your paper —” another.

Just as the troops were passing the steps where Auban stood, he heard how the heavy tramp of the hoofs on the hard pavement was drowned by the cries of applause, the clapping of hands, the jubilant shouts of the surrounding crowds, and he distrusted his ears. Were these really signs of applause? It was not possible. It could only be mockery and scorn. But the exultation of the crowd at the unexpected spectacle of that glittering tin, that pompous procession, was so spontaneous, and so well calculated was the effect of the latter, that he could no longer doubt: the same people who but a minute before had covered the police, who clubbed them and rode roughshod into them, with the hissing of their hate and the howl of their rage, now hailed with senseless pleasure those who had been sent to shoot them down! ...

At first Auban had incredulously shaken his head. Now he laughed, and a thought struck him. He gave a shrill whistle. And behold: round about him the whistle was taken up and carried along farther and farther, so that for a minute the clapping of applause was drowned by that sign of contempt. And Auban saw that now the same people whistled who before had shouted their applause.

Then he laughed. But his laughter soon gave way to the disgust that overcame him in the contemplation of that irresponsible stupidity.

What foolish children! he thought. Just now cruelly chastised by brutal hands, they go into raptures — like the child over his doll — over the gay rags of that ridiculous outward show, without even suspecting the terrible meaning of the childish play!

As he resolved to escape that disgusting farce by leaving the steps and the place, the reinforcement of the Grenadier Guards came moving along on foot with crossed bayonets, everywhere scattering fear and wild dismay by their glittering steel; the steps were filled by a double number of terrified people, who at last — as it seemed — began to understand what the issue was, and that perhaps an accident might change this play by a turn of the hand into the most deadly earnest. But everything seemed to pass off with a threat. Calmly the troops passed several times round the outside of the Square. Only once, when Auban had already reached the north end at St. Martin’s, he heard a terrible outcry of fear, drowning the dull roar and tumult, rise from the midst of the crowd, who were being driven before the steadily advancing column of bayonets occupying the entire width of the street.

What had happened? Had anybody been stabbed? Had a woman been crushed in the infinite throng? The excitement was tremendous. Now, at the approach of dusk, everybody seemed to be seized by the dizziness of fear, although only a few could make up their minds to leave the place.

Auban walked towards the Strand. For a long time the noise behind pursued him. He walked until he came to the end of the crowds who surged through the streets surrounding the Square in a wide circle, and where the usual bustle began. He longed after rest and seclusion. Therefore he went to the dining-room of one of the large English restaurants and sat there a long time.

Here on the snowy linen of the tables glittered the silver, and flowers exhaled their perfume, while the whole was reflected from the high mirrors on the walls. The guests, most of them in full evening dress, entered silently and took their places with dignity, conscious of the importance of the moment which they devoted to the study of the menus. With inaudible steps the waiters passed over the heavily carpeted floor. Nothing was to be heard in this lofty, aristocratic room with its subdued colors, but the low clatter of plates and knives, the rustle of silken trains, and occasionally a soft, melodious laugh which interrupted the conversation carried on in low tones...

Auban dined as simply as ever, only better and at a tenfold price which he paid for his presence in these rooms. And while he observed the diners, he involuntarily compared their confident, easy, elegant, but monotonous and uncharacteristic appearance with the forms out of whose midst he had come: the heavy, rude forms of the people whom hunger and privation had crushed and often disfigured until they could no longer be recognized...

When after an hour’s rest he again took the direction of Trafalgar Square, he happened to pass the doors of Charing Cross Hospital. The entrance, as well as the whole street on which the hospital lay, was densely crowded: here the broken limbs were again set and the gashed heads mended, which had resulted from the conflict on the neighboring battlefield...

The spectacle was at once serious and comical: here, supported by two others, a man came tottering along, whose face was covered with blood streaming from an open wound on his forehead; there a man came out of the door, his wounds just dressed, his one arm in a sling, but still holding in the other his broken wind-instrument. Here a policeman limped along who had fallen down with his horse; and there a man who had fainted was carried on a stretcher.

Auban came closer and looked round in the hall of the hospital. Along the walls the enemies were peaceably sitting together, some with their wounds already dressed, others waiting until one of the assistants, driven with work, should take pity on them.

“So far, we have not met with any very serious injuries,” said one of the bystanders.

What a comedy! thought Auban. First they crack each other’s skulls, then they let the same hand mend them, — an innocent pastime. Pack schlägt sich, Pack verträgt sich.

And he walked on, forcing his way with great difficulty through the curious throng at the entrance, attracted, as it were, by the fresh blood, and who made way only for the wounded.

When he had again reached the Strand, a screaming and unusually large crowd came rushing towards him and forced him to stop. The police were now driving the multitude far into the side streets...

Nevertheless, he did not wish to turn back now, when the wings of the evening were already spread over the earth, without having cast another glance at the spectacle, which must have assumed an entirely different character in the twilight.

So he wanted to try to reach the Square from the south; and in front of Charing Cross Station he turned on the left into Villiers Street, leading to the Thames. Then he passed through the tunnel under the railroad station. Just five weeks ago — on a Saturday evening in October, wet and cold as the present one, — coming from the other side of the Thames he had passed through it, and, agitated by the sad memories of former experiences, fled from it the last time. To-day he had no time for memories.

He hurried on. When he stood in Northumberland Avenue, that street of palaces, he saw that ever fresh enforcements were sent to the Square from Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the police. He took the same road.

Everything in the Square presented a changed aspect: the Nelson Column rose like the giant forefinger of a giant hand threateningly into the darkness; on the right lay the enormous rotunda of the Grand Hotel with its illuminated windows, behind which the curiosity-seekers had not yet disappeared; silent was the inner surface of the place, still occupied by the police; and in the streets round about still raged the struggle, which with the falling darkness seemed to grow more intense the nearer it approached its end...

The countless lights of the lanterns flashed and illumined with their trembling rays the dark masses who surged wildly past them in feverish haste.

The Life Guards were still riding up and down the streets in troops. Flooded by the light, their uniforms, their armor, their white pantaloons and red coats, glittered in the darkness.

The attacks of the police, especially the mounted police, had become more and more insolent, brutal, and unjustifiable. Riding into the densest crowds at full speed, they trampled upon all who could not escape quickly enough, using their clubs against the falling and those lying on the ground, indifferent where they struck, on the arms, the shoulders, or the heads of the defenceless. In an instant the places where just now not a stone could have fallen on the ground, were strewn with rags and tatters, crushed hats, broken canes.

Notwithstanding the exhaustion of both parties was unmistakable, all seemed doubly embittered. Now that nothing could be clearly distinguished, the cries sounded more beastly than before.

Whichever way he turned, Auban saw scenes that made his blood boil.

He stood, unable to move, in a crowd petrified by fear, at the very front. An old man sought refuge with him. His white hair was stained with blood. One of the riders pursued him, again and again beating him with his club. Auban rushed forward, but he could not help, for he was carried along by those following him with such violence that he himself felt as if he were falling; the police had come riding up on the other side and put everything into commotion...

At the entrance of Charing Cross he could at last get a firm footing once more. The riders turned round and madly galloped back. Auban mounted some steps.

“London has not witnessed such scenes since the days of the Chartists!” exclaimed an elderly gentleman beside him.

“The Prince of Wales made the bloodhounds drunk with brandy, so that they would kill us!” screamed a woman.

And it really seemed to be so. But not only the police were drunk, but also the people, drunk with rage and hate.

At the entrance of the same street where Auban stood, not far from the Grand Hotel, a new crowd was gathering, clearly determined to offer resistance and keeping close together in obedience to the instinct of a common interest. A new division of the police, on foot, came moving on apace. A mad hand-to-hand fight followed. Stones flew through the air, window-panes crashed, the wrestling of the combatants was heard and the dull thud of the canes, screams, and low mutterings.

The police were on the point of retreating. But already the mounted ranks arrived at full speed, and the struggle was decided. The fleeing crowd was driven far into Charing Cross. Again Auban was irresistibly carried away.

The sparks which the galloping horses struck on the pavement glittered in the darkness...

Thus the noise and the conflicts would continue to rage for another hour, at most two, and then subside; and then the battle, fought out along the whole line in favor of authority, would be brought to an end, and the right of free speech on Trafalgar Square lost to the people forever, for a long time...

Before Auban left the Square, he once more, with a long look, fixed in his mind the picture of this spectacle, which he would never forget. Once more his ears and his eyes, both tired, drank in the dark expanse of the place, the black sea of humanity, the rush and roar of its tides, the dazzling lights, the thousand tones of passion consolidated into one; and no longer ridiculous, but almost terrible was the howl which seemed to come from a single throat.

Auban fled. He longed for rest. He longed for a struggle, different from this one in which he had participated in its early days as passionately as any one, for a struggle about whose success there was no doubt, because it would have to be relentless, in which other forces were to be tested than those which had to-day wrestled together in play, as if to make each other’s acquaintance.

As he entered the carriage which was to take him to his quiet room, he heard the shrill voices of the newsboys offering for sale the evening papers, which contained descriptions of what he had seen in the afternoon.
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Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:48 am

Chapter 10: Anarchy

Weeks passed.

The “bloody Sunday” on Trafalgar Square no longer excited people to passionate discussions. On the following Sunday, indeed, a company of patriotic volunteers had come to offer their support to the police, but after they had been exposed a few hours in the Square to the scorn and ridicule of the curious crowd, who made no attempt at reconquering a lost right, they had to return home, drenched by the rain, and without having swung their newly turned clubs.

After the grand spectacle, the comedy of voluntary self-abasement; after the “bloody Sunday” the “laughing-stocks”! ...

The Square was and remained empty.

The question of the “unemployed” was of course not solved, but it had been pushed into the background, and no longer cried for an answer in the shrill tones of hunger.

In Chicago the corpses of the murdered men had been followed to their graves by an unparalleled outpouring of the population. It looked like a wish to atone for a wrong.

The time of great events had passed. Everything had taken again its usual course.

The days had grown more chilly and damp as the month approached its end.

Auban had not again seen Trupp, nor any of his other friends. Only Dr. Hurt had occasionally called on him, to “warm his feet” and smoke his pipe. They approached each other spiritually more and more closely, and understood each other better and better.

The Sunday afternoon gatherings seemed not only interrupted, but to have been suspended altogether. Nor did Auban think of reviving them. He was now convinced of their uselessness.

The clubs, too, he had not again attended since the evening of his talk with Trupp. And the greatest change in his life — he had also given up his walks through the districts of hunger.

He had much to do. He began now with the work of his life, compared with which all that he had previously done was only preparation.

For himself he had at this time won a little victory.

The management of the French compilation, to assist in which he had been called to London three years ago, had gradually passed into his hands. Thanks to his conscientiousness, circumspection, and independence, the enterprise, which was now approaching its completion, had been attended by brilliant success. Although he had become indispensable to the publishing firm, one of the greatest in England, they had failed to adequately reward his services and but slightly raised his salary.

He had waited long for the voluntary fulfilment of that duty. He waited until he held all the trumps in his hands. Then he turned them up one day, and handed in his resignation, to take effect by the end of the year.

A long interview followed with the two members of the firm. At the outbreak of their moral indignation at the breach of the contract which had not been entered into by Auban, either in writing or by any word of his, but by them, as they claimed, only in “good faith,” Auban had begged of them to put all sentimentality aside in a business transaction. Then he demonstrated to them by the use of figures that the only service they had rendered in the publication of the work consisted in furnishing the capital, but that that service had been so profitable as to give them four-fifths of the product of his labor.

Then, when he was asked to remain a quarter of a year longer, till the preliminary completion of the work, he made his demands: first, his monthly salary to be increased threefold.

“Never had they paid any of their employees such a salary —”

“Never, surely, had any of their employees rendered them such services —”

Further, — and that was Auban’s principal move by which he hoped in a degree at least to secure his future, — a share of the profit of each edition of the work.

“Was ever such a demand made?”

“That was immaterial to him. It was in their power to accept or reject it.”

They did the former.

Finally, Auban’s third demand; a compensation, in proportion to the success of his labor, for services hitherto performed, payable at once.

“That looks damnably like blackmail.”

“They might call it what they pleased. He had learned of them. Were they surprised? Did they not also force down the wages of their workingmen as far as possible? He would resist, and in his turn force them —”

When he had gone, the partners gnashed their teeth. But as shrewd business men they tacitly admitted that they had never respected Auban more than at that moment...

Auban submitted the contract, which both parties had drawn up, to one of the best lawyers, for examination and approval, before he signed it and bound himself for three months.

Then he was free for some time; and never had he felt so clearly how necessary pecuniary independence was for what he now wished to do...

A quarter of a year, and he was in a position to return to Paris. To Paris! His heart beat faster at the thought.

He loved London and admired it, that wonderful, immense London, and he loved Paris. But he loved it differently...

London began to weigh heavily on him with its eternally gray sky, its pale fog, its gloomy darkness.

A sun rose. And that sun was Paris. Soon he would again bask in its rays, which were so warm, so animating, so beautiful! ...

The piles of papers and pamphlets on Chicago had disappeared from Auban’s writing-desk, and it was covered by new works, which filled his few free hours.

He was clear concerning what he wanted.

He stood alone: none of his numerous friends had gone with him in the latter years; none had been able to draw the last conclusions.

So he had to leave them behind, — he who had restlessly advanced towards liberty.

But he had formed new connections, and ever and anon he cast his glances towards America, where a small but steadily and surely increasing company of excellent men had already been engaged for years in the task which in the Old World had not yet been begun.

It was becoming urgent to begin it here too.

Two circumstances aggravated the difficulties in the way of the spread of the idea of Anarchy in Europe: —

Either people regarded every Anarchist as a dynamiter; or, if they had cast a glance at the philosophy of the new party, as a Communist.

While in America already some rays of light had begun to enter the dull eyes of prejudice and bias, all were still veiled in Europe.

It was necessary, above all, to newly examine, understand, and explain the misapprehended meaning of the word.

Those who accepted everything as it was offered them, and who saw in Anarchy only chaos, and in the Anarchist only the violent revolutionist, had to be taught that Anarchy was, on the contrary, the goal of human development, and designated that condition of society in which the liberty of the individual and his labor constitutes the guarantee alike of his welfare and that of mankind.

And those who rightly did not believe in the ideal of liberty in fraternal Communism, had to be shown that Anarchy, far from seeing liberty in Communism and sacrifice, sought, on the contrary, to realize it by the removal of definite forcible obstructions and artificial barriers. Then after this first crude and ungrateful preliminary work had been accomplished, and after the perception had gained ground, even if at first only among the few, that Anarchy is not a heaven on earth and that men need only to understand their true nature and its needs, and not to “fundamentally change it,” in order to make liberty possible, the next task would consist in designating the institution of the State as the greatest and only obstacle in the path of human civilization.

It was necessary to show: that the State is privileged force, and that it is force which supports it; that it is the State which changes the harmony of nature into the confusion of force; that it is its crimes which create the crimes; that it grants unnatural privileges here, while it denies natural rights there; that it paralyzes the competitive evolution of forces in all domains, stifles trade, and thus undermines the welfare of the whole people; that it represents mediocrity in all things, and that everything which it undertakes to do could be done far better, more satisfactorily, and more profitably without it if left to the free competition of private men; that a nation is the richer and happier the less it is governed; that far from constituting the expression of the will of the whole people, the State is rather only the will of those who stand at its head, and that those who stand at the head do indeed always look out for themselves and “their own,” but never for those who are foolish enough to entrust them with their cares; that the State can only give what it has first taken, because it is unproductive, and that it always gives back less than it received, — in short, it was necessary to show that, taken all in all, it is nothing but one immense, continued, shameless trick, by means of which the few live at the expense of the many, be its name what it will...

Then, after the faith in the infallible idol of the State had thus been shaken with regard to some points, and the spirit of self-reliance correspondingly strengthened, the laws dominating social economy had to be studied. The truth had to be established that the interests of men are not hostile to each other, but harmonious, if only granted free rein for their development.

The liberty of labor — realized by the fall of the State, which can no longer monopolize money, limit credit, withhold capital, obstruct the circulation of values, in a word, no longer control the affairs of the individual, — when this had become a fact, the sun of Anarchy had risen.

Its blessings, — they would be felt like warmth after the long night of cold and want...

But nothing ought to be promised. Only those who did not know what they wanted made promises. It was necessary to convince, not to persuade.

That required different talents from those of the flowing tongue which persuades the masses to act against their will instead of leaving the choice of his decisions to the individual and trusting to his reason.

All knowledge would have to be drawn upon in order to demonstrate the theory of the newly awakening creed: history, in order to avoid the mistakes of the past in the future; psychology, in order to understand how the soul is subject to the conditions prescribed by the body; philosophy, in order to show how all thought proceeds only from the individual, to whom it must return...

After everything had thus been done, in order to demonstrate the liberty of the individual as the culmination of human development, one task remained.

Not only had the ends and aims to be shown: the best and surest ways had also to be pointed out along which they were to be achieved. Regarding authority as the greatest enemy, it was necessary to destroy authority. In what way?

This also was found. Superior as the State was in all the appliances of power and armed to the teeth, there could be no idea of challenging it to a combat. It would have been decided before it had yet been begun. No; that monster which feeds and lives on our blood had to be starved by denying it the tribute which it claimed as a matter of course. It had to die of exhaustion, starve, — slowly, indeed, to be sure, but surely. It still had the power and the prestige to claim its booty, or to destroy those who should resist. But some day it would encounter a number of men, cool-headed, calm, intrepid men, who with folded arms would beat back its attack with the question: What do you want of us? We want nothing of you. We deny you all obedience. Let those support you who need you. But leave us in peace!

On that day liberty would win its first victory, a bloodless victory, whose glory would travel round the earth with the velocity of the storm and everywhere call out the voice of reason in response.

What else were the strikes before which the exploiters trembled than passive resistance? Was it not possible for the workingmen to gain victories by means of them? Victories for which they would have to wait in vain if they continued to trust in the perfidious game of political jugglers!

Hitherto, in the history of the century resorted to only in individual cases here and there, and only temporarily for the purpose of securing certain political demands, passive resistance, methodically applied as against the government — principally in the form of resistance to taxation — would some day constitute the presented bayonet against which the State would bleed to death.

But until then?

Until then it was necessary to watch and to wait.

There was no other way in which finally to reach the goal, but that of calm, unwearied, sure enlightenment, and that of individual example, which would some day work wonders.

Thus in its entire outline lay before Auban the work to which he decided to dedicate his life. He did not overestimate his strength. But he trusted in it. For it had led him through the errors of his youth. Consequently it could be no common strength.

He was still alone. Soon he would have friends and comrades. Already an individualistic Anarchistic movement was noticeable among the Communists of Paris, championing private property.

The first numbers of a new periodical — founded evidently with slender means — had just come to him, which gave brilliant proof of the intelligence prevailing in certain labor circles of his native country. The “Autonomie individuelle” had extricated itself from Communism, and was now attacked as much by it as formerly by the Social Democrats. Auban became absorbed in the reading of the few papers which were imbued with a spirit of liberty that enchanted him...

A knock at the door interrupted him.

A letter was handed to him. It asked of him the favor of a rendez-vous that very evening, and bore no signature. At first Auban wanted to throw it aside. But after reading it a second time his face assumed a more thoughtful expression. There must have been something in the style of the letter that changed his decision, for he looked at his watch and studied the large map of London that hung on the wall.

By the underground railroad he rode over Blackfriars from King’s Cross to London Bridge. He had to change cars, and was delayed in consequence. Nevertheless, he arrived at the street and the appointed house before the time set. When he knocked at the closed door, it was at once opened.

Auban did not need to mention the name which had been told him. It died on his lips in an involuntary exclamation of recognition and fright when he saw the man who opened the door for him. Before him stood a man who had been one of the most feared and celebrated personalities in the revolutionary movement of Europe, but whose name was now mentioned by most people only with hate and contempt. Auban would have sooner expected to see anybody else than this man who received him silently and now led him silently up stairs into a small, low room.

There, by the only window, they stood opposite each other, and Auban’s recognition yielded to a feeling of deepest agitation when he saw what the few years during which he had not seen him had made of his former acquaintance. Then his figure had been erect and proud; now he stood before him as if staggering under the burden of a terrible fate. Not yet thirty-five, his hair was as gray as that of a man of fifty; once his smile had been so confident and compelling that no one could resist it; to-day it was sad and painful when he saw how little Auban could conceal his fright and his agitation in consequence of his changed looks.

Then, as if he feared the walls might hear him, Auban called him by his real name, that name once so popular, now almost forgotten.

“Yes, it is I,” said the other, and the sad smile did not disappear from his lips. “You would not have known me again, Auban?”

Auban shook off his excitement with an effort.

“Where have you come from? Do you not know —”

“Yes, I know; they are everywhere at my heels, even here in England. In France they would extradite me, and in Germany bury me for life, if they had me. Here also I am not safe. But I had to come here once more before I disappear forever. You know why —”

Certainly, Auban knew. On this man lay the terrible suspicion of having betrayed a comrade. How much, how little truth there was in that suspicion, Auban could not determine. It had first been uttered by Social Democrats. But so many wilful lies concerning the Communists had originated from that source, that this one, too, might have been made of whole cloth. Then it had been repeated by a hostile faction in his own camp. The accused had not replied. But whether he would not or could not: in short, in spite of many words, the matter was never fully cleared up. But it was altogether impossible to do it in public; too many things had to be suppressed lest the enemy should hear them, too many names had to remain unmentioned, too many relations untouched which ought to have been thoroughly discussed, to allow the accused the hope of ever again rehabilitating himself in the eyes of all.

Such was the curse of the slavery with which a false policy bound one to the other, so that no one could turn and move as he liked.

Although he was attacked on all sides, he could still have continued his work among the old circle of comrades, if he had not himself become wavering. Then one day he burned all the bridges behind him and disappeared. His name was forgotten; what he had done was forgotten, after his great influence, which had been fascinating where it had made itself felt, had disappeared with his person.

Auban knew it, and said, therefore: —

“Your trip was useless?”

“Yes,” was the reply, and his voice was as gloomy as his eyes, “it was useless.”

Completely broken down, he dropped his head as he continued in a lower voice, as if he were ashamed alike of his return and his cowardice: —

“I could not stand it any longer. I was alone two years. Then I decided to return and make a last attempt to justify myself. They do not believe me. No one believes me...”

“Then believe in yourself!” said Auban, firmly.

“To-day I thought of you. They spoke to me of you. They criticised you for going your own ways. And, indeed, you are the only one who has preserved his freedom in the confusion. I thank you for having come.”

He looked exhausted, as if those few words had tired him. Three years ago he had been a brilliant speaker, who could talk for three hours without showing a sign of fatigue.

Auban was deeply agitated. He would gladly have told him that he believed him. But how could he without becoming dishonest? The whole affair had remained almost unknown to him, as much as he had heard of it. The other seemed to feel it.

“I should have to tell you the whole story to enable you to pass a judgment. But that would require hours, and perhaps it would be useless nevertheless. Only so much, and this you may believe: I made a mistake, but I am innocent of the crime with which I am charged. Besides, I neglected to do many things in my defence that I ought to have done immediately. Now it is too late.”

He looked at his watch.

“Yes, it would require hours, and I have not half an hour to spare. I am going away to-day.”

“Where?” asked Auban.

“First, up the Thames with a boat. And then,” — sadly smiling, he made a motion with his hand in space, — “and then farther — anywhere —” He took a little valise which lay packed beside him.

“I have nothing to do here; let us go, Auban. Accompany me to the bridge, if it is not out of your way.”

They left the room and the house without any one looking after them. They walked silently as far as London Bridge.

But as they were crossing the bridge, the pent-up anger of the outcast broke forth.

“I gave all I had to the cause: the whole of my youth and half my life. After taking everything from me, it left me nothing, not even the belief in itself.”

“Half your life still remains in which to win back in its stead the belief in yourself, the only belief that has no disappointments.”

But the other shook his head.

“Look at me; I am no longer what I was. I have defied all persecutions, hunger, hate, imprisonment, death; but to be driven away like a mad dog by those whom I loved more than myself, is more than I can endure. Ah, I am so weary! — so weary! — so weary! ...”

He entered one of the resting-places of the bridge, and dropped on a bench, while the human stream rushed on. Auban sat down beside him. The tone in which the unfortunate man repeated the last words agitated him anew to his very depths. And while the grandiose life behind them was sweeping over the bridge, he talked to him, in order to give him time to collect himself, of his own sad experiences and lessons, and how his strength was nevertheless unshaken and his courage undaunted since he had found himself again and — standing on his own feet — doing and letting as he pleased — not dependent on any party, any clique, any school — no longer allowed any one to interfere with his own life —

But the other sat indifferent. He shook his head and looked before him.

Suddenly he sprang up, seized his baggage, pointed to the chaos of ships, and muttered a few incomprehensible words.

Then, before Auban could reply to him, he vehemently embraced him and hurried away, making a sign with his hand that he did not wish to be accompanied any further...

Auban looked after him a long time.

Sacrifice upon sacrifice, and all in vain, he thought. For a long time he saw before him the aged face and the gray hair of the persecuted man, who — a restless wanderer — was facing a strange world, without strength and without courage to continue a life that had deceived him.

The evening began.

The sun went down.

Two immense human streams surged across London Bridge; back and forth rolled, rattling and resounding, two unbroken lines of vehicles.

The black waters of the Thames flowed lazily.

Auban stood against the railing of the bridge, and, facing the east, contemplated the grand picture which presented itself: Everywhere, on both sides of the stream, towers, pillars, chimney-stacks, church steeples rose above the sea of houses... But beneath him a forest of masts, poles, sails... On the left Billingsgate, the great, famous fish-market of London... Farther, where the four towers rise, the dark, dismal structure of the Tower. With a reddish glare the setting sun, the pale, weary sun of London, lay on its windows a few minutes; then also its light was suddenly extinguished, and a gray twilight drew its streaks around the dark masses of the warehouses, the giant bodies of the ships, the pillars of the bridge...

By the clock on the Adelaide Buildings it was already seven, but still the task of unloading the great ocean steamer at Auban’s feet was not yet completed. Long lines of strong men carried boxes and bales over wavering wooden bridges to the shore. Their foreheads, heads, and necks protected against the crushing pressure of their heavy burdens by strangely shaped cushions, they looked like oxen in the yoke as they staggered along under their weight...

A strange feeling crept over Auban. Such was London, immense London, which covers seven hundred miles with its five millions of human beings; such was London, where a man was born every fifth minute, where one died every eighth... Such was London, which grew and grew, and already immeasurable, seemed to aspire to the infinite...

Immense city! Sphinx-like, it stretched on both sides of the river, and the clouds of smoke, vapor, noise it belched forth, lay like veils over its panting body...

Lights after lights began to flash and mingled the warmth of their glow with the dampness of the fog. Their reddish reflections trembled through the twilight.

London Bridge thundered and resounded under the burdens it bore.

Thus day after day, week after week, year after year, raged that mighty life which never grew tired. The beatings of its heart grew ever more feverish, the deeds of its arms ever mightier, the plans of its brain ever bolder.

When would it reach the summit of its aspirations? When would it rest?

Was it immortal?

Or was it also threatened by destruction?

And again Auban saw them approaching, the clouds of ruin which would send the lightning that would ignite this mass of inflammable material.

London, even you are not immortal... You are great. But time is greater...

It grew darker and darker.

Then he turned towards the north, and as he was walking along with his heavy, long strides, supported by his cane, many a passer-by looked after the tall, thin, proud form, round which swung his loose cloak.

And as Auban crossed street after street, and came nearer and nearer to his dwelling, he had already overcome the agitation of the last hours, and once more the wings of his thoughts circled restlessly around the longed-for light of liberty.

What was still resting in the womb of time as a germ but just fructified — how would it develop, and what shape would it take?

Of one thing he was certain.

Without pain it was to take place, this birth of a new world, if it was to live.

The social question was an economic question.

So, and in no other way, it could be solved:

With the decline of State authority the individual becomes more and more self-reliant. Escaping from the leading-strings of paternalism, he acquires the independence of his own wishes and deeds. Claiming the right of self-determination without restriction, he aims first at making null and void all past privileges. Nothing was to be left of them but an enormous heap of mouldering paper. Land left vacant and no longer recognized as the property of those who do not live on it, is used by subsequent occupants. Hitherto uncultivated, it now bears fruit and grain and nourishes abundantly a free people. Capital, incapable of any longer fattening on the sweat of others’ labor, is compelled to consume itself: although it still supports the father and the son without obliging them to turn a hand, the grandson is already confronted with the alternative of starving or disgracing the “glory of his fathers” by working. For the disappearance of all privileges entails on the individual the duty of responsibility. Will it be a heavier burden for him than the thousand duties towards others with which hitherto the State saddled its citizens, the Church its members, morality the righteous?

There was but one solution of the social question, but one: no longer to keep one’s self in mutual dependence, to open for one’s self and thereby for others the way to independence; no longer to make the ridiculous claim of the strong, “Become weak!” no, to exhort the weak at last, “Become strong!” no longer to trust in the help “from above,” but at last to rely on one’s own exertions.

The nineteenth century has deposed “our Father in Heaven.” It no longer believes in a divine power to which it is subject.

But only the children of the twentieth century would be the real atheists: doubters of divine omnipotence, they had to begin to test the justification of all human authority by the relentless criticism at their reason.

They would be imbued with the consciousness of their own dignity. Instead of seeking their pride as hitherto in subjection, humility, devotion, they would regard command as presumption, obedience as sacrifice, and each as a dishonor which the free man despises...

The race, crippled in uniforms, might require a long time to regain its natural growth and the erect carriage of pride.

Auban was no dreamer. By raising the demands of liberty, he did not ask of time their immediate realization. The great changes of the social organs would probably require centuries before they would attain to the normal condition of equal opportunities for all.

The development towards liberty would last the longer, the more powerful and triumphant the great opposition current of authority would become.

Violence would everywhere retard the peaceable cause of development. It was inevitable. Hate, blindness, want of confidence, were too intense on both sides to make impossible collisions such as would make the earth tremble in terror.

The nature of things must have its course.

The logic of events neutralized the wish for the impossible.

Ever and ever the follies must pay their tribute to experience before it will rise to the surface.

Socialism was the last general stupidity of mankind. This last station of suffering on the way to liberty had to be passed.

Not until then could the God of illusion be nailed to the cross.

Not until all faith lay strangled on the ground and no longer lent wings to any hope, — to scale the heavens, — not until then had the time come for the true “kingdom on earth”: the kingdom of happiness, of joy and exuberant life, which was liberty...

But liberty had also a powerful ally: the dissensions in the camp of its enemies.

Everywhere divisions; everywhere unrest; everywhere fear; and everywhere the cry for more authority! Authority, authority! — it was to cure all evils. And the armies sprang from the earth, the nations were armed to the teeth, and dread of the bloody future frightened sleep from the eyes of the seeing.

The rulers no longer knew what to do. Like that general of antiquity, they ordered the sea to be lashed which flooded the deck with its billows and threatened to drown all on board.

Wars in whose streams of blood the holders of power would attempt to extinguish the flames of popular revolt were inevitable, wars such as the world had never seen...

Crime and injustice had been piled too high, and terrible would be the revenge!

Then, after the chaos of the revolutions and the slaughter of the battles, when the desolated earth had crumbled together from exhaustion, when the bitterest experience had destroyed the last faith in authority, then, perhaps, would be understood who they were and what they wanted, they, the lone ones, who in the confusion round about them trusted in liberty, calm and composed, which they called by the name: Anarchy! ...

How it surged and roared, that London! How its pulses beat faster and faster with the approach of night! What signified those thousand-fold voices?

Farther and farther had Auban gone, till he reached his dwelling.

Now he was again in the secluded stillness of his room, which he had left only a few hours ago.

The fire still glowed in the fireplace.

But before he again took up his work, he moved up a chair and sat a short time, his hands stretched towards the warmth, and, bent forwards, gazing into the glow.

A great, almost overpowering joy, such as he had never felt before, filled him.

The walls of his room, the fogs of London, the darkness of the evening, — everything disappeared before the picture which he saw:

A long night has passed.

Slowly the sun rises above the sleeping house-tops and the resting fields.

A solitary wanderer passes through the expanse.

The dew of the night still trembles on the grasses at the edge of the road. In the woods on the hillsides the first voices of the birds are heard. Above the summit of the mountains soars the first eagle.

The wanderer walks alone. But he does not feel lonely. The chaste freshness of nature communicates itself to him.

He feels: it is the morning of a new day.

Then he meets another wanderer. And another. And they understand each other by their looks as they pass each other.

The light rises and rises.

And the early morning walker opens wide his arms and salutes it with the liberating cry of joy...

So was Auban.

The early morning walker at the break of the new day was he.

After a long night of error and illusion, he walked through a morning of light.

The sun of truth had risen for him, and rose higher and higher.

Ages had to pass before the idea of Anarchy could arise.

All the forms of slavery had to be passed through. Ever seeking liberty only to find the same despotism in the changed forms, so had the people staggered.

Now was the truth found to condemn all forms which were force. Authority began to yield.

The wild chase was approaching its end.

But still it was necessary to battle, to battle, to battle — not to grow tired and never to despair! —

The issue was not one of transitory aims. The happiness of liberty which was to be conquered was imperishable.

Like the wanderer was Auban.

And like the early morning walker he also opened his arms, saluted the future with the cry of joy, and called it by the immortal name: Anarchy! ...

Then he took up his work.

Upon his thin, hard features lay a calm, magnanimous, confident smile.

It was the smile of invincibility.
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Re: The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close o

Postby admin » Sat May 12, 2018 4:49 am


John Henry Mackay[2]

Among the modern poets with a marked personality, John Henry Mackay undoubtedly occupies a conspicuous place. Surely the task of tracing the development of this poet-individuality is not without charm. The personal life, which in all cases reacts powerfully on a man’s works, can here indeed hardly be touched upon, and I can consequently offer no plastic, but only a reflex, picture.

With a few exceptions, Mackay’s poems so far have been so entirely lyrical, so entirely the expression of an inner mood, and so little addressed to the public, that they can be understood and appreciated only in their ensemble. To be delighted by rare beauty, surprised by original and saving ideas, one must allow his thought and soul-life to absorb him seriously and without prejudice. This is especially true of Mackay’s latest and, for the general reading public, most incomprehensible book, “Das starke Jahr” (The Strong Year). The following study is chiefly meant to serve as an introduction to the spirit of this remarkable collection of poems.

John Henry Mackay was born on the 6th of February, 1864, at Greenock, in Scotland. After the death of his father, his mother, a Hamburg lady, returned to Germany with her three-year-old boy. He was given a_ German collegiate education, which inflamed his inherited British and Hamburgian spirit of independence to such angry rebellion that it gave rise to the precious series of songs, “Moderne Jugend” (Modern Youth).

Studies in Leipzig, a sojourn in Berlin, travels in Scotland, Englan , Spain, and France, gave the young man a general idea of the contemporary state of European civilization. Now Mackay lives mostly in Zürich.

It is characteristic of the poet that birth and conditions made a cosmopolitan of him long before he declared himself one on principle. On what country, indeed, should he bestow his patriotic sentiments ‘? He belongs to that class of men who are foreigners everywhere. Notwithstanding his extraction and his name, he cannot be classed with the English singers. Despite his perfect mastery of our language, he is in a certain sense also not a German poet. To explain this statement, it is suflicient to point, in contrast to him, to Bleibtreu and Wildenbruch. In their excellences and in their failings these are genuine Germans; with all their diiferences they are one in their enthusiasm for the spirit of nationalism. This element is wholly foreign to Mackay; yes, he is directly hostile to it. At a time when the spirit of patriotism dominates public opinion, we shall have to look to this circumstance for one of the reasons that will, for a long time to come, prevent the recognition of Mackay among the better class of people.

That the poet, however, is not without a great measure of warm love for his native land, for the soil on which the child first enjoyed the sun, the air, and worldly beauty, he has demonstrated by his first work, “Die Kinder des Hochlands, eine Geschichte aus Schottlands Bergen” (The Children of the Highlands; a Story of thdgiountains of Scotland). Mackay also paid a delicate tribute of youthful gratitude to our classics for the fructification of his poetical genius in a small volume of “Thüringer Lieder” (Thuringian Songs).

In Ilmenau he finds a melodious echo of the immortal strain: “Ueber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh.” And with a sense of power native to him also, he leaves the places dedicated to the memory of past greatness with the exclamation: —

... Doch ich trage voll von Hoffen
Eine Welt in mir mit fort.

All honor to the enthusiasm for Goethe and Schiller; to English poets — Byron, Shelley, Swinburne — Mackay seems to be still more indebted for the form of expression.

His own world is first opened to us in the “Dichtungen” (Poems), published in 1886.

A charming, youthful world!

Aside from a number of pictures of life seized with the intuition of the genuine poet (“Unschn1dig verurteilt,” Innocently Condemned, “Martha,” and “Einsames Sterben,” Lonely Dying), the book depicts the natural feelings of a youth just past boyhood. The love-songs bear the unmistakable stamp of the alike visionary and transitory inclinations of the young student. The poem “Glückliche Fahrt” (Happy Journey) describes the pain of the mother on the departure of her son into the world. The feelings of a mother’s heart in this heavy hour are expressed with such tender truth that one is led to infer a specially intimate relation existing between mother and son. Is it the unconscious exhaled the unconsciously inhaled influence of a filially loved woman which later gave the man the power of noble form, the pure feeling which Mackay always manifests when he treats of the most difficult themes with free inspiration?

In the “Dichtungen” all the qualities of his individuality are already to be found: the inclination to the crass, the weird, the passionately fanatical hatred of all tyrannical power, and coupled with it a deep soul-life, a love for nature which tracks its most hidden beauties, a power which knows how to reflect the finest shades of that indeiinable something which we call mood. Above all, Mackay possesses feeling and language for human suffering which give him a place beside the greatest singers of the world’s woe.

But all this is so far only indicated, just as ono recognizes the features of the grown-up man in an old photograph of a child.

The “Dichtungen” do not yet contain angthin that good fathers and mothers, cultured aunts, an loysl citizens could not pardon to a fiery and aspiring young talent. The ligh things play in it, but the storm may yet turn into a gentle, beneiicent country rain.

The mutterings of the thunder become more ominous in the social poem, “Arma parata fero,” which appeared in 1887. It is quite likely that it cost Mackay many a friend and patron. There indeed flames a kindling force in the melodious verses which far surpasses anything that the poet has hitherto accomplished; but for that very reason they are also doubly dangerous.

With this song he takes up the weapons, not again to lay them down; he becomes a clear-headed champion of the rights of the oppressed; he calls himself the spokesman of liberty.

Between the works reviewed, to which are to be added an attempt at a tragedy, “Anna Hermsdorf,” and the novelistic studies “Schatten” (Shadows), and Mackay’s later works lies an important period. Evidently we are here in the presence of one of those mysterious turning-points which occur in the development of every superior mind, and in which such abrupt changes seem to take place within it as in the verdure of the earth after certain moist, warm spring nights. Indeed, if everything becomes suddenly green, it is because the buds were ready to burst. In the year 1888 Mackay published, through Baumert and Ronge, in Grossenhain and Leipzig, a collection of novels, “Moderne Stoffe” (Modern Themes), and a second volume of poems. The latter he called “Fortgang.” At the same time two books appeared at Schabelitz’s in Zürich, anonymously, “Helene” and “Sturm” (Storm). John Henry Mackay very soon confessed himself the author.

Here we see an astonishingly rich harvest, which seems impossible to have ripened in a single year. Those must have been high-water marks of life, of creative power!

The four books belong together, although each one is in form an independent whole.

The promise, Arma parata fero! is kept.

What confusedly dawns on others from distant realms, stands before the clairvoyant eye of the prophet in clear, proximate reality. And he measures the present by the ideal of a liberty-illumined future. He daress see that which men must live, and is stronger than the Schillerian youth before the picture of Sais. — The sight of truth has not paralyzed him. He finds powerful words to proclaim to all the world what one-half of mankind must suffer that the rest may enjoy, in order to arouse from lazy indulgence and dull resignation, to terrify and to encourage.

Characteristic of this epoch is the epilogue with which “Fortgang” closes: —

“Freudig kämpfend bis zum Ziele!”
Freund, das sind ja Worte nur.
Nicht mit leeren Tönen spiele,
Willst du folgen klarer Spur.

Wann hat je ein Ziel ein Streben,
Wenn es schrankenlos die Welt
Seinem eignen kurzen Leben
Kühn und kräftig unterstellt?

Und wozu ein Kampf auf Erden
Wenn er nicht ein Ziel gewinnt:
Dass wir Alle froher werden,
Als wir waren, als wir sind?

“Freudig” — kämpft der Wahnbethörte
Und der Knecht auf blinder Spur.
Wer des Mitleids Stimmen hörte
Kämpft in herben Schmerzen nur.

Ueber Sterbende und Leichen
Wird vielleicht sein Wünschen gehn,
Und sein Ziel — er wird es weichen
Weit und immer weiter sehn.

The description of the fates of women, as illustrated in the characters contained in “Moderne Stoffe” and “Helene,” is born of an infinite compassion.

These girls have nothing of dæmonic sensuality, nothing of the sentimentality of “fallen innocence” with which most writers love to invest such figures. They are poor, troubled, trembling, despairing slaves of the sin of others. It seems to me it might do many a young lady of the bourgeoisie a great deal of good to read the story of this Hedi, this Maxl’, and the dance-hall singer Helene, in order to put aside her haughty scorn of such poor, dust-covered creatures.

Mackay has the gift of drawing the girls of the common people very attractively with the simplest means. The story of the brave little waitress Maxl’ and her tragic defeat is a gem of modern narrative art. The cold scorn with which the well-bred hero Hans Grützmeier is described leads us to expect still more of the author in the domain of satire.

Larger in conception, more valuable by its form, and more overpowering by its glowing passion is the epic poem “Helene,” written in blank verse.

It treats of the love of a young man of the upper classes for a girl who disappears after a chance acquaintance. And then he finds her again in the sad calling referred to above, which she took up not by choice, but into which deplorable conditions drove her.

Love, love, nothing but love! The exultation of young joy, sighs of languishing desire, wrestling with despair and newly-awakening pain of hope to the rage of the wildest passion! And then separation and her downfall — worse than death — and a curse shrieked into the air by the man who sees her drifting down the dark stream — ever farther and farther — and who stands on the shore and cannot help her.

What shall I say of the beauty of its lines, of its glow of passion, of its changing moods, of its climax? — Whoever has lived through the heights and the depths of a great passion, will feel by the revival of all painful memories how true this book is; and whoever does not know them — let him not read “Helene,” for its contents will appear as madness to him.

The exception might be taken that the object of such a grand feeling is little worthy of it — but when did love ever go by the rule of middle-class respectability? Presumably the Levites and other distinguished personages of the people of Israel in their time also did not consider the shepherdess, to whom the royal singer, Solomon, dedicated his song, worthy of him. And yet it was the song of songs, and Shulamite became the symbol of the heavenly bride. Every age has its typical heroine. The Middle Ages, when feudalism flourished, sang of queens; Beatrice and Laura were at least noble ladies. When the bourgeoisie recalled its rights, and the clouds of the revolution of 1789 rose on the horizon, Lotte, the pure middle-class maiden, inflamed all hearts with emotion. Helene, the filth-covered, innocently ruined proletaire girl — wil1 she not be the heroine of the threatening future?

That the heart of a son of the ruling caste, the caste which contributed no small part in causing her ruin, breaks for her, gives the poem the eifect of deep tragedy.

“I have died, but I will live!” Mackay lets his hero say, after he has resigned youth and happiness. These words are fraught with a far-reaching significance.

A number of the men who are to-day undermining the bourgeoisie with their pencil and their pen, with their word and their brush, who are bringing to honor the rights of the fourth estate, be it through the artistic representation of its life, be it through unequivocal battle cries, are the defiant, spirited children of the fat and hoary bourgeoisie itself. Such is the Nemesis of universal history. Caesar died by the hand of Brutus — the absolutism of the Catholic Church was overthrown by a monk, — and Mirabeau was a descendant of the French aristocracy. Almost always the insurgents have been nourished and equipped for their work of destruction with the best forces of the declining ruling classes.

The naturalistic, social artists and writers of the present time, too, have inherited from the bourgeoisie the results of science and the refined spirit which enables them, now that the age has opened their eyes, to feel the sufferings of their brothers so keenly and to depict them so powerfully.

A poet who with a creative imagination and the heart of a lover of mankind has made the studies that flowered in “Moderne Stoife” and in “Helene” must be carried away to mad rebellion.

After Mackay could write “Helene,” he must write “Sturm.” And the poems of “Fortgang” are only the quieter intervals between the hurricane, the dying-away of it.

Mackay has broken with his past and with the old world. In Titanic wrath he shakes at the foundations on which society imagines that it lives securely. With sublime courage he hurls mighty war songs against a hated order of the world.

Of course the book was forbidden.

It is the right of civil society to defend itself by all means against an enemy who preaches the overthrow of all existing things in such magnificent language.

The melancholy gloom which broods over the songs of the “Fortgang,” the lamentations on the frigid loneliness in which the truth-seekers dwell, are only now comprehensible. We understand that, with this poet who is too deep, and with all his pity too proud to give himself over to the quickly changing favors of the masses, and who has forever broken with the applause of his own caste, they are no mere poetical figure, but bitter reality.

“Fortgang” is a serious, rich book, a treasure for uncommon people. The solitary observer acquires a keen glance for the events about him, in which he no longer takes an active part. The results of such observations are turned into bright, psychologically interesting little sketches by the poet of the “Fortgang.” Of these I enumerate the best: “Ehe” (Marriage), “Die Knechtin” (The Hired Girl), “Der Wahre” (The True Man), “Frühlingswind” (Spring Breezes), “Liebe” (Love), “In der Gesellschaft” (In Society).

There is in Mackay a peculiar blending of a clear, sceptical reason with an imagination soaring into the realms of the unknowable. His phantasies sometimes border on the morbid. Nevertheless, when he tries to banish them, the poet shows himself perhaps at his best.

A year after the four books just reviewed, Mackay published a small volume of translations from English and American poets. It contains much that is beautiful and successfully done; nevertheless — with the exception of Joaquin Miller’s “Arizonian” — I cannot rate them as highly as Mackay’s own poetical productions.

In the meantime Mackay made an acquaintance which had the greatest influence on him. The new edition of “Sturm” of 1890, which remained unmolested by the police, is dedicated to the memory of Max Stirner.

The highly significant, now almost forgotten book of this philosopher, “Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum,” must exert a saving influence on natures who are sick with an excess of the love of humanity and who yet understand that the sacrifice of their own personality not only does no good to any one, but leads to deception and hypocrisy. Who has ever quite overcome his own self?

At bottom every largely endowed character with artistic talent is an individualist. If he wishes to be unusually true to himself and others, he will openly say so; and if he is at the same a thinker, he will try to put it into a system. Stirner, with his luminous demonstration of the right of egoism, could only offer to Mackay in a connected way what the latter had long ago experienced and even already expressed in his writings here and there.

The enthusiastic gratitude with which he recognizes the master only shows that much-abused egoism does not necessarily make its disciples incapable of every so-called noble emotion.

Mackay says in the preface to the second edition of “Sturm”: —

Und langsam fand ich mich. Ein Jahr zerrann
In letzten Kämpfen, bis ich mich gewann,
Vom Nebel-Schleier war ich dicht umhüllt,
Von Rufen aus der Tiefe wild umbrüllt,
Von Lockungen der Höhen süss umklungen,
Höhen und Tiefen habe ich bezwungen.

It is very probable that the poet of “Sturm” was approached by the temptation of taking an active part in the social movement of our day.

But Mackay no longer believes in Utopias. As long as men do not make themselves inwardly free of illusions and prejudices of all kinds, outward liberty will be of little use to them.

Wenn Ihr die Stärkren geworden seid,
So scid Ihr in Eurem Rechte,

he exclaims to the dreamers.

The idea that Socialists and Communists might prepare a happy state for the people he opposes in the strongest terms in the following verses: —

— Wo ist dann Freiheit noch und wo Entfaltung,
Wenn Keiner sich mehr an dem Andren misst?

Was Staat jetzt heisst, wird dann Gemeinde heissen,
Der Einzelne wird mehr und mehr umengt,
Ihm ist versagt, sich los- und freizureissen,
Er ist in — Rosen-Ketten eingezwängtl!

Die “Liebe” breitet ihres Mitleids Schwingen
Ueber der Tage unentschiedene Schlacht!
Sie lähmt dein Leben, meines Geistes Ringen;
Mein Lachen und dein Weinen sind bewacht.

Und bleigrau-öde, trübe Langeweile
Sinkt auf die Welt herab ein Leichcntuch,
Erfüllung hemmt des letzten Wunsches Eile
Und schliesst des Lebens unverstandnes Buch. .

These words will hardly be pardoned to Mackay by the people whom they hit.

Thus he is separated from all parties, and it will be his fate to be much hated and little understood. He stands alone, as is his will, single and strong.

The last work with which John Henry Mackay has presented us bears the name “Das starke Jahr.” (Schabeiitz, Zurich, 1890.)

The dedication of the poem reads: —

Dem gehassten Gefährten gehöre sein Werk.

“Sturm” gives us the answer thereto: —

Das ist der Kampf, den allnächtlich
Bevor das Dunkel zerrinnt,
Einsam und gramvoll auskämpft
Des Jahrhunderts verlorenes Kind.

Or is it that gloomy friend to whom the poet speaks: —

Reich mir die Hand, meiner Jugend Genosee, gewaltiger Schmerz!

The book consists of brilliant variations of the theme, “Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum.” Stirner would be pleased with the fruits of his teachings. But the harvest is no longer his; it has become Mackay’s own.

Only he alone — an idealist of materialism — could write such deep fancies on the right of the individual. It requires Mackay’s courage of the truth to draw the last conclusions of one’s philosophy with such a weirdly grand humor as is found in the poem “Krähengekrächz” (The Cawing of the Crows) — to illustrate its dark side by a picture like “Der Trinker” (The Drinker).

Some songs in which the wrestling with the unspeakable is not Yet crowned by success, or which refer directly to experiences which the reader does not know, and which for this reason, despite his best efforts, remain obscure to him, might have better been omitted by the author. The fertile loneliness of the poet, the changing moods of the creative spirit, are sung with wonderful melody. Mackay finds touching expression also for wild pleasure and the eternally wakeful longing after happiness.

How beautiful is the song, “Frühlingsnacht” (Spring Night)! But little space is accorded to love. It is the mature man who is talking here, — the wise man, who introduces us like his pupil Walther to 1ife’s opulent feast, and whose “final perception” of the world is —

Einst wähnte ich sie zu verachten —
Ich verachte sie nicht mehr —
Ich kann nur noch betrachten —
Ich schaue um mich her —

Ich betrachte das Sein wie ein Haben,
Von dem kein Teil ich bin —
Ich bin mein — ich kann mich geben
Nicht mehr den Andern hin.

To what purpose any further quotations?

Whoever has recognized how rotten the pillars are which we commonly call “ideals” when the experiences of reality brutally rise against them — and who at the same time carries within him the unquenchable thirst for pondering on the riddles of human being, the great fate of the world — will find much in this book to move him and lead him by a rare perfection of form into a realm of serious, true beauty. “Das starke Jahr” will not capture the masses, but whoever has mastered it will find in it a true friend, and its influence will grow in the course of time.

On the last page of “Das starke Jahr” the publisher announces the early appearance of the novel, “Die Anarchisten,” by John Henry Mackay. With it the poet appears for the first time before the public with a prose work of this kind. One is curious to know how such an independent, courageous, and conscientious thinker will treat the question of the Anarchistic movement. And it will be interesting to see whether the lyric poet, the novelist, has grown into the mastery of the great picture of civilization.



[1] Weltanschauung: world view.

[2] A literary study, by Gabriele Reuter. Translated from “Die Gesellschaft.”
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