Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly

Part 6 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

procession of shining worlds; at that illimitable expanse of silence.
And I thought of those vast gaps and lapses of manless time, when all
these starry hosts unrolled and marshaled themselves before the
attentive eyes of God, and it had not yet entered into his heart to
create that swarming, writhing, crawling, contentious mass we call
humanity. And I said to myself, "Why should a God condescend to such
a work as man?"

And yet, again, I felt that one grateful heart, that darted out the
living line of its love and adoration from this dark and perturbed
earth, up to the shining throne of the Great Intelligence, must be of
more moment and esteem in the universe than millions of tons of
mountains--yea, than a wilderness of stars. For matter is but the
substance with which God works; while thought, love, conscience and
consciousness are parts of God himself. We think; therefore we are
divine: we pray; therefore we are immortal.

Part of God! The awful, the inexpressible, the incomprehensible God.
His terrible hand swirls, with unresting power, yonder innumerable
congregation of suns in their mighty orbits, and yet stoops, with
tender touch, to build up the petals of the anemone, and paint with
rainbow hues the mealy wings of the butterfly.

I could have wept over man; but I remembered that God lives beyond
the stars.



The next day we were flying over the ocean. The fluctuous and
changeable waves were beneath us, with their multitudinous hues and
colors, as light and foam and billows mingled. Far as the eye could
reach, they seemed to be climbing over each other forever, like the
endless competitions of men in the arena of life. Above us was the
panorama of the clouds--so often the harbingers of terror; for even
in their gentlest forms they foretell the tempest, which is ever
gathering the mists around it like a garment, and, however
slow-paced, is still advancing.

A whale spouted. Happy nature! How cunningly were the wet, sliding
waves accommodated to that smooth skin and those nerves which rioted
in the play of the tumbling waters. A school of dolphins leaped and
gamboled, showing their curved backs to the sun in sudden glimpses; a
vast family; merry, social, jocund, abandoned to happiness. The gulls
flew about us as if our ship was indeed a larger bird; and I thought
of the poet's lines wherein he describes--

"The gray gull, balanced on its bow-like wings,
Between two black waves, seeking where to dive."

And here were more kindly adjustments. How the birds took advantage
of the wind and made it lift them or sink them, or propel them
forward; tacking, with infinite skill, right in the eye of the gale,
like a sailing-vessel. It was not toil--it was delight, rapture--the
very glory and ecstasy of living. Everywhere the benevolence of God
was manifest: light, sound, air, sea, clouds, beast, fish and bird;
we were in the midst of all; we were a part of all; we rejoiced in

And then my thoughts reverted to the great city; to that congregation
of houses; to those streets swarming with murderers; to that hungry,
moaning multitude.

Why did they not listen to me? Why did rich and poor alike mock me?
If they had not done so, this dreadful cup might have been averted
from their lips. But it would seem as if faith and civilization were
incompatible. Christ was only possible in a barefooted world; and the
few who wore shoes murdered him. What dark perversity was it in the
blood of the race that made it wrap itself in misery, like a garment,
while all nature was happy?

Max told me that we had had a narrow escape. Of the three messengers
we had sent forth to General Quincy, but one reached him; the others
had been slain on the streets. And when the solitary man fought his
way through to the armory he found the Mamelukes of the Air full of
preparations for a flight that night to the mountain regions of South
America. Had we delayed our departure for another day, or had all
three of our messengers been killed by the marauders, we must all
have perished in the midst of the flames of the burning building. We
joined Mr. Phillips, therefore, with unwonted heartiness in the
morning prayers.

The next day we came in sight of the shores of Europe. As we drew
near, we passed over multitudes of open boats, river steamers and
ships of all kinds, crowded with people. Many of these vessels were
unfitted for a sea voyage, but the horrors they fled from were
greater than those the great deep could conjure up. Their occupants
shouted to us, through speaking-trumpets, to turn back; that all
Europe was in ruins. And we, in reply, warned them of the condition
of things in America, and advised them to seek out uncivilized lands,
where no men dwelt but barbarians.

As we neared the shore we could see that the beaches, wharves and
tongues of sand were everywhere black with people, who struggled like
madmen to secure the few boats or ships that remained. With such
weapons as they had hurriedly collected they fought back the
better-armed masses of wild and desperate men who hung upon their
skirts, plying the dreadful trade of murder. Some of the agonized
multitude shrieked to us for help. Our hearts bled for them, but we
could do nothing. Their despairing hands were held up to us in
supplication as the air-ship darted over them.

But why dilate upon the dreadful picture that unrolled beneath us?
Hamlets, villages, towns, cities, blackened and smoking masses of
ruin. The conflicts were yet raging on every country road and city
street; we could hear the shrieks of the flying, the rattle of rifles
and pistols in the hands of the pursuers. Desolation was everywhere.
Some even rushed out and fired their guns viciously at us, as if
furious to see anything they could not destroy. Never before did I
think mankind was so base. I realized how much of the evil in human
nature had been for ages suppressed and kept in subjection by the
iron force of law and its terrors. Was man the joint product of an
angel and a devil? Certainly in this paroxysm of fate he seemed to be

We turned southward over the trampled gardens and vineyards of
France. A great volcanic lava field of flame and ashes--burning,
smoking--many miles in extent--showed where Paris had been. Around it
ragged creatures were prowling, looking for something to eat, digging
up roots in the fields. At one place, in the open country, I
observed, ahead of us, a tall and solitary tree in a field; near it
were the smouldering ruins of a great house. I saw something white
moving in the midst of the foliage, near the top of the tree. I
turned my glass upon it. It was a woman, holding something in her

"Can we not take her up?" I asked the captain of the airship.

"We cannot stop the vessel in that distance--but we might return to
it," he replied.

"Then do so, for God's sake," I said.

We swooped downward. We passed near the tree. The woman screamed to
us to stop, and held up an infant. Christina and Estella and all the
other women wept. We passed the tree--the despairing cries of the
woman were dreadful to listen to. But she takes courage; sees us
sweep about; we come slowly back; we stop; a rope ladder falls; I
descend; I grasp the child's clothes between my teeth; I help the
woman up the ladder. She falls upon the deck of the ship, and cries
out in French: "Spare my child!" Dreadful period! when every human
being is looked upon as a murderer. The women comfort her. Her
clothes are in rags, but upon her fingers are costly jewels. Her babe
is restored to her arms; she faints with hunger and exhaustion. For
three days, she tells us, she has been hidden in that tree, without
food or drink; and has seen all dear to her perish--all but her
little François. And with what delight Estella and Christina and the
rest cuddle and feed the pretty, chubby, hungry little stranger!

Thank God for the angel that dwells in human nature. And woe unto him
who bids the devil rise to cast it out!

Max, during all this day, is buried in profound thought. He looks out
at the desolated world and sighs. Even Christina fails to attract his
attention. Why should he be happy when there is so much misery? Did
he not help to cause it?

But, after a time, we catch sight of the blue and laughing waters of
the Mediterranean, with its pleasant, bosky islands. This is gone,
and in a little while the yellow sands of the great desert stretch
beneath us, and extend ahead of us, far as the eye can reach. We pass
a toiling caravan, with its awkward, shuffling, patient camels, and
its dark attendants. They have heard nothing, in these solitudes, of
the convulsions that rend the world. They pray to Allah and Mahomet
and are happy. The hot, blue, cloudless sky rises in a great dome
above their heads; their food is scant and rude, but in their veins
there burn not those wild fevers of ambition which have driven
mankind to such frenzies and horrors. They live and die as their
ancestors did, ten thousand years ago--unchangeable as the stars
above their heads; and these are even as they shone clear and bright
when the Chaldean shepherds first studied the outlines of the
constellations, and marked the pathways of the wandering planets.

Before us, at last, rise great blue masses, towering high in air,
like clouds, and extending from east to west; and these, in a little
while, as we rush on, resolve themselves into a mighty mountain
range, snow-capped, with the yellow desert at its feet, stretching
out like a Persian rug.

I direct the pilot, and in another hour the great ship begins to
abate its pace; it sweeps in great circles. I see the sheep flying
terrified by our shadow; then the large, roomy, white-walled house,
with its broad verandas, comes into view; and before it, looking up
at us in surprise, are my dear mother and brothers, and our servants.

The ship settles down from its long voyage. We are at home. We are at



[_These concluding lines are from the journal of Gabriel Weltstein_.]

Since my return home I have not been idle. In the first place, I
collected and put together the letters I had written to my brother
Heinrich, from New York. I did this because I thought they were
important, as a picture of the destruction of civilization, and of
the events which led up to it. I furthermore had them printed on our
printing-press, believing that every succeeding century would make
them more valuable to posterity; and that in time they would be
treasured as we now treasure the glimpses of the world before the
Deluge, contained in the Book of Genesis.

And I have concluded to still further preserve, in the pages of this
journal, a record of events as they transpire.

As soon as I had explained to my family the causes of our return--for
which they were in part prepared by my letters to Heinrich--and had
made them acquainted with my wife and friends, I summoned a meeting
of the inhabitants of our colony--there are about five thousand of
them, men, women and children.

They all came, bringing baskets of provisions with them, as to a
picnic. We met in an ancient grove upon a hillside. I spoke to them
and told them the dreadful tale of the destruction of the world. I
need not say that they were inexpressibly shocked by the awful
narrative. Many of them wept bitterly, and some even cried out
aloud--for they had left behind them, in Switzerland, many dear
friends and relatives. I comforted them as best I could, by reminding
them that the Helvetian Republic had survived a great many dynasties
and revolutions; that they were not given to the luxuries and
excesses that had wrecked the world, but were a primitive people,
among whom labor had always remained honorable. Moreover, they were a
warlike race, and their mountains were their fortifications; and they
would, therefore, probably, be able to defend themselves against the
invasion of the hungry and starving hordes who would range and ravage
the earth.

The first question for us, I said, was to ascertain how to best
protect ourselves from like dangers. We then proceeded to discuss the
physical conformation of our country. It is a vast table-land,
situated at a great height far above the tropical and miasmatic
plains, and surrounded by mountains still higher, in which dwell the
remnants of that curious white race first described by Stanley. The
only access to our region from the lower country is by means of the
ordinary wagon road which winds upward through a vast defile or gorge
in the mountains. At one point the precipitous walls of this gorge
approach so closely together that there is room for only two wagons
to pass abreast. We determined to assemble all our men the next day
at this place, and build up a high wall that would completely cut off
communication with the external world, making the wall so thick and
strong that it would be impossible for any force that was likely to
come against us to batter it down.

This was successfully accomplished; and a smooth, straight wall,
thirty feet high and about fifty broad at its widest point, now rises
up between our colony and the external world. It was a melancholy
reflection that we--human beings--were thus compelled to exclude our

We also stationed a guard at a high point near the wall, and
commanding a view of its approaches for many miles; and we agreed
upon a system of bale-fires (_Bael_ fires), or signal beacons, to
warn the whole settlement, in case of the approach of an enemy.

We next established a workshop, under the charge of Carl Jansen, in
which he trained some of our young men in metal-working, and they
proceeded to make a large supply of magazine rifles, so that every
man in the settlement might be well armed. Carl is one of those
quiet, unpretending men whose performance is always better than their
promise; and he is a skillful worker in the metals. The iron and coal
we found in abundance in our mountains. We also cast a number of
powerful cannon, placed on very high wheels, and which could be fired
vertically in case we were attacked by air-ships;--although I thought
it probable that the secret of their manufacture would be lost to the
world in the destruction of civilization. We, however, carefully
housed the Demon under a shed, built for the purpose, intending, when
we had time, to make other air-ships like it, with which to
communicate with the external world, should we desire to do so.

Having taken all steps necessary to protect ourselves from others, we
then began to devise means by which we might protect ourselves from
ourselves; for the worst enemies of a people are always found in
their own midst, in their passions and vanities. And the most
dangerous foes of a nation do not advance with drums beating and
colors flying, but creep upon it insidiously, with the noiseless feet
of a fatal malady.

In this work I received great help from Max, and especially from his
father. The latter had quite recovered the tone of his mind. He was
familiar with all the philosophies of government, and he continued to
be filled with an ardent desire to benefit mankind. Max had seemed,
for some days after our arrival, to be seriously depressed, brooding
over his own thoughts; and he seized eagerly upon the work I gave him
to do, as if he would make up by service to our people for any
injuries he had done the world. We held many consultations. For good
purposes and honest instincts we may trust to the multitude; but for
long-sighted thoughts of philanthropy, of statesmanship and
statecraft, we must look to a few superior intellects. It is,
however, rarely that the capacity to do good and the desire to do
good are found united in one man.

When we had formulated our scheme of government we called the people
together again; and after several days of debate it was substantially
agreed upon.

In our constitution, we first of all acknowledged our dependence on
Almighty God; believing that all good impulses on earth spring from
his heart, and that no government can prosper which does not possess
his blessing.

We decreed, secondly, a republican form of government. Every adult
man and woman of sound mind is permitted to vote. We adopted a system
of voting that we believed would insure perfect secrecy and prevent
bribery--something like that which had already been in vogue, in some
countries, before the revolution of the Proletariat.

The highest offense known to our laws is treason against the state,
and this consists not only in levying war against the government, but
in corrupting the voter or the office-holder; or in the voter or
office-holder selling his vote or his services. For these crimes the
penalty is death. But, as they are in their very nature secret
offenses, we provide, in these cases only, for three forms of
verdict: "guilty," "not guilty" and "suspected." This latter verdict
applies to cases where the jury are morally satisfied, from the
surrounding circumstances, that the man is guilty, although there is
not enough direct and positive testimony to convict him. The jury
then have the power--not as a punishment to the man, but for the
safety of the community--to declare him incapable of voting or
holding office for a period of not less than one nor more than five
years. We rank bribery and corruption as high treason; because
experience has demonstrated that they are more deadly in their
consequences to a people than open war against the government, and
many times more so than murder.

We decreed, next, universal and compulsory education. No one can vote
who cannot read and write. We believe that one man's ignorance should
not countervail the just influence of another man's intelligence.
Ignorance is not only ruinous to the individual, but destructive to
society. It is an epidemic which scatters death everywhere.

We abolish all private schools, except the higher institutions and
colleges. We believe it to be essential to the peace and safety of
the commonwealth that the children of all the people, rich and poor,
should, during the period of growth, associate together. In this way,
race, sectarian and caste prejudices are obliterated, and the whole
community grow up together as brethren. Otherwise, in a generation or
two, we shall have the people split up into hostile factions, fenced
in by doctrinal bigotries, suspicious of one another, and
antagonizing one another in politics, business and everything else.

But, as we believe that it is not right to cultivate the heads of the
young to the exclusion of their hearts, we mingle with abstract
knowledge a cult of morality and religion, to be agreed upon by the
different churches; for there are a hundred points wherein they agree
to one wherein they differ. And, as to the points peculiar to each
creed, we require the children to attend school but five days in the
week, thus leaving one day for the parents or pastors to take charge
of their religious training in addition to the care given them on

We abolish all interest on money, and punish with imprisonment the
man who receives it.

The state owns all roads, streets, telegraph or telephone lines,
railroads and mines, and takes exclusive control of the mails and
express matter.

As these departments will in time furnish employment for a great many
officials, who might be massed together by the party in power, and
wielded for political purposes, we decree that any man who accepts
office relinquishes, for the time being, his right of suffrage. The
servants of the people have no right to help rule them; and he who
thinks more of his right to vote than of an office is at liberty to
refuse an appointment.

As we have not an hereditary nobility, as in England, or great
geographical subdivisions, as in America, we are constrained, in
forming our Congress or Parliament, to fall back upon a new device.

Our governing body, called _The People_, is divided into three
branches. The first is elected exclusively by the producers, to-wit:
the workmen in the towns and the farmers and mechanics in the
country; and those they elect must belong to their own class. As
these constitute the great bulk of the people, the body that
represents them stands for the House of Commons in England, or the
House of Representatives in America. The second branch is elected
exclusively by and from the merchants and manufacturers, and all who
are engaged in trade, or as employers of labor. The third branch,
which is the smallest of the three, is selected by the authors,
newspaper writers, artists, scientists, philosophers and literary
people generally. This branch is expected to hold the balance of
power, where the other two bodies cannot agree. It may be expected
that they will be distinguished by broad and philanthropic views and
new and generous conceptions. Where a question arises as to which of
these three groups or subdivisions a voter belongs to, the matter is
to be decided by the president of the Republic.

No law can be passed, in the first instance, unless it receives a
majority vote in each of the three branches, or a two-thirds vote in
two of them. Where a difference of opinion arises upon any point of
legislation, the three branches are to assemble together and discuss
the matter at issue, and try to reach an agreement. As, however, the
experience of the world has shown that there is more danger of the
upper classes combining to oppress the producers than there is of the
producers conspiring to govern them,--except in the last desperate
extremity, as shown recently,--it is therefore decreed that if the
Commons, by a three-fourths vote, pass any measure, it becomes a law,
notwithstanding the veto of the other two branches.

The executive is elected by the Congress for a period of four years,
and is not eligible for re-election. He has no veto and no control of
any patronage. In the election of president a two-thirds vote of each
branch is necessary.

Whenever it can be shown, in the future, that in any foreign country
the wages of labor and the prosperity of the people are as high as in
our own, then free trade with that people is decreed. But whenever
the people of another country are in greater poverty, or working at a
lower rate of wages than our own, then all commercial intercourse
with them shall be totally interdicted. For impoverished labor on one
side of a line, unless walled out, must inevitably drag down labor on
the other side of the line to a like condition. Neither is the device
of a tariff sufficient; for, although it is better than free trade,
yet, while it tends to keep up the price of goods, it lets in the
products of foreign labor; this diminishes the wages of our own
laborers by decreasing the demand for their productions to the extent
of the goods imported; and thus, while the price of commodities is
held up for the benefit of the manufacturers, the price of labor
falls. There can be no equitable commerce between two peoples
representing two different stages of civilization, and both engaged
in producing the same commodities. Thus the freest nations are
constantly pulled down to ruin by the most oppressed. What would
happen to heaven if you took down the fence between it and hell? We
are resolved that our republic shall be of itself, by itself--"in a
great pool, a swan's nest."

As a corollary to these propositions, we decree that our Congress
shall have the right to fix the rate of compensation for all forms of
labor, so that wages shall never fall below a rate that will afford
the laborer a comfortable living, with a margin that will enable him
to provide for his old age. It is simply a question of the adjustment
of values. This experiment has been tried before by different
countries, but it was always tried in the interest of the employers;
the laborers had no voice in the matter; and it was the interest of
the upper class to cheapen labor; and hence _Muscle_ became a drug
and _Cunning_ invaluable and masterful; and the process was continued
indefinitely until the catastrophe came. Now labor has its own branch
of our Congress, and can defend its rights and explain its

In the comparison of views between the three classes some reasonable
ground of compromise will generally be found; and if error is
committed we prefer that it should enure to the benefit of the many,
instead of, as heretofore, to the benefit of the few.

We declare in the preamble to our constitution that "this government
is intended to be merely a plain and simple instrument, to insure to
every industrious citizen not only liberty, but an educated mind, a
comfortable home, an abundant supply of food and clothing, and a
pleasant, happy life."

Are not these the highest objects for which governments can exist?
And if government, on the old lines, did not yield these results,
should it not have been so reformed as to do so?

We shall not seek to produce uniformity of recompense for all kinds
of work; for we know that skilled labor is intrinsically worth more
than unskilled; and there are some forms of intellectual toil that
are more valuable to the world than any muscular exertion. The object
will be not to drag down, but to lift up; and, above all, to prevent
the masses from falling into that awful slough of wretchedness which
has just culminated in world-wide disaster.

The government will also regulate the number of apprentices who shall
enter any given trade or pursuit. For instance, there may be too many
shoemakers and not enough farmers; if, now, more shoemakers crowd
into that trade, they will simply help starve those already there;
but if they are distributed to farming, and other employments, where
there is a lack, then there is more work for the shoemakers, and in
time a necessity for more shoemakers.

There is no reason why the ingenuity of man should not be applied to
these great questions. It has conquered the forces of steam and
electricity, but it has neglected the great adjustments of society,
on which the happiness of millions depends. If the same intelligence
which has been bestowed on perfecting the steam-engine had been
directed to a consideration of the correlations of man to man, and
pursuit to pursuit, supply and demand would have precisely matched
each other, and there need have been no pauperism in the world--save
that of the sick and imbecile. And the very mendicants would begin to
rise when the superincumbent pressure of those who live on the edge
of pauperism had been withdrawn.

We deny gold and silver any function as money except for small
amounts--such as five dollars or less. We know of no supplies of
those metals in our mountains, and if we tied our prosperity to their
chariot, the little, comparatively, there is among us, would
gradually gravitate into a few hands, and these men would become the
masters of the country. We issue, therefore, a legal-tender paper
money, receivable for all indebtedness, public and private, and not
to be increased beyond a certain _per capita_ of population.

We decree a limitation upon the amount of land or money any one man
can possess. All above that must be used, either by the owner or the
government, in works of public usefulness.

There is but one town in our colony--it is indeed not much more than
a village--called Stanley. The republic has taken possession of all
the land in and contiguous to it, not already built on--paying the
owners the present price of the same; and hereafter no lots will be
sold except to persons who buy to build homes for themselves; and
these lots will be sold at the original cost price. Thus the
opportunity for the poor to secure homes will never be diminished.

We further decree that when hereafter any towns or cities or villages
are to be established, it shall only be by the nation itself.
Whenever one hundred persons or more petition the government,
expressing their desire to build a town, the government shall then
take possession of a sufficient tract of land, paying the intrinsic,
not the artificial, price therefor. It shall then lay the land out in
lots, and shall give the petitioners and others the right to take the
lots at the original cost price, provided they make their homes upon
them. We shut out all speculators.

No towns started in any other way shall have railroad or mail

When once a municipality is created in the way I have described, it
shall provide, in the plat of the town, parks for recreation; no lot
shall contain less than half an acre; the streets shall be very wide
and planted with fruit trees in double and treble rows. In the center
of the town shall be erected a town hall, with an assembly chamber,
arranged like a theater, and large enough to seat all the
inhabitants. The building shall also contain free public baths, a
library, a reading-room, public offices, etc. The municipality shall
divide the people into groups of five hundred families each, and for
each group they shall furnish a physician, to be paid for out of the
general taxes. They shall also provide in the same way concerts and
dramatic representations and lectures, free of charge. The hours of
labor are limited to eight each day; and there are to be two holidays
in the week, Wednesday and Sundays. just as the state is able to
carry the mails for less than each man could carry them for himself,
so the cost of physicians and entertainments procured by the
municipality will be much less than under the old system.

We do not give any encouragement to labor-saving inventions, although
we do not discard them. We think the end of government should be--not
cheap goods or cheap men, but happy families. If any man makes a
serviceable invention the state purchases it at a reasonable price
for the benefit of the people.

Men are elected to whom all disputes are referred; each of the
contestants selects a man, and the three act together as arbitrators.
Where a jury is demanded the defeated party pays all the expenses. We
hold that it is not right that all the peaceable citizens should be
taxed to enable two litigious fellows to quarrel. Where a man is
convicted of crime he is compelled to work out all the cost of his
trial and conviction, and the cost of his support as a prisoner,
before he can be discharged. If vice will exist, it must be made

[_An extract from Gabriel's journal-five years later._]

I have just left a very happy group upon the veranda--Estella and our
two darling little children; Christina and her three flaxen-haired
beauties. Max is away on his sheep farm. My mother and Mrs. and Mr.
Phillips are reading, or playing with the children. The sun is
shining brightly, and the birds are singing. I enter my library to
make this entry in my journal.

God has greatly blessed us and all our people. There were a few
conservatives who strenuously objected at first to our reforms; but
we mildly suggested to them that if they were not happy--and desired
it--we would transfer them to the outside world, where they could
enjoy the fruits of the time-hallowed systems they praised so much.
They are now the most vigorous supporters of the new order of things.
And this is one of the merits of your true conservative: if you can
once get him into the right course he will cling to it as tenaciously
as he formerly clung to the wrong. They are not naturally bad men;
their brains are simply incapable of suddenly adjusting themselves to
new conceptions.

The Demon returned yesterday from a trip to the outside world. Max's
forebodings have been terribly realized. Three-fourths of the human
race, in the civilized lands, have been swept away. In France and
Italy and Russia the slaughter has been most appalling. In many
places the Demon sailed for hundreds of miles without seeing a human
being. The wild beasts--wolves and bears--are reassuming possession
of the country. In Scandinavia and in northern America, where the
severity of the climate somewhat mitigated the ferocity of man, some
sort of government is springing up again; and the peasants have
formed themselves into troops to defend their cattle and their homes
against the marauders.

But civility, culture, seem to have disappeared. There are no
newspapers, no books, no schools, no teachers. The next generation
will be simply barbarians, possessing only a few dim legends of the
refinement and wonderful powers of their ancestors. Fortunate it is
indeed, that here, in these mountains, we have preserved all the
instrumentalities with which to restore, when the world is ready to
receive it, the civilization of the former ages.

Our constitution has worked admirably. Not far from here has arisen
the beautiful village of Lincoln. It is a joy to, visit it, as I do
very often.

The wide streets are planted with trees; not shade trees, but fruit
trees, the abundance of which is free to all. Around each modest
house there is a garden, blooming with flowers and growing food for
the household. There are no lordly palaces to cast a chill shadow
over humble industry; and no resplendent vehicles to arouse envy and
jealousy in the hearts of the beholders. Instead of these shallow
vanities a sentiment of brotherly love dwells in all hearts. The poor
man is not worked to death, driven to an early grave by hopeless and
incessant toil. No; he sings while he works, and his heart is merry.
No dread shadow of hunger hangs over him. We are breeding men, not

And the good wife sings also while she prepares the evening meal, for
she remembers that this is the night of the play; and yonder, on that
chair, lies the unfinished dress which her handsome daughter is to
wear, next Saturday night, to the weekly ball. And her sons are
greatly interested in the lectures on chemistry and history.

Let us look in upon them at supper. The merry, rosy faces of young
and old; the cheerful converse; the plain and abundant food. Here are
vegetables from their own garden, and fruit from the trees that line
the wide streets.

Listen to their talk! The father is telling how the municipality
bought, some three years ago, a large number of female calves, at a
small cost; and now they are milch cows; and the town authorities are
about to give one of them to every poor family that is without one.

And they praise this work; they love mankind, and the good, kindly
government--their own government--which so cares for humanity and
strives to lift it up. And then the father explains that each person
who now receives a free gift of a milch cow is to bring to the
municipal government the first female calf raised by that cow, and
the city will care for that, too, for two or three years, and then
bestow it upon some other poor family; and so, in endless rotation,
the organized benevolence does its work, perennial as seed-time and
harvest; and none are the poorer for it, and all are the happier.

But come; they have finished their supper, amid much merriment, and
are preparing to go to the play. Let us follow them. How the streets
swarm! Not with the dark and terrible throngs that dwell so vividly
in my memory; but a joyous crowd--laughing, talking, loving one
another--each with a merry smile and a kindly word for his neighbor.
And here we are at the door of the play-house.

There is no fumbling to find the coins that can perhaps be but poorly
spared; but free as the streets the great doors open. What hurry,
what confusion, what chatter, what a rustle of dresses, as they seek
their seats.

But hush! The curtain rises. The actors are their own
townspeople--young men and women who have shown an aptitude for the
art; they have been trained at the cost of the town, and are paid a
small stipend for their services once a week. How the lights shine!
How sweet is the music! What a beautiful scene! And what lovely
figures are these, clad in the picturesque garb of some far-away
country or some past age. And listen! They are telling the old, old
story; old as the wooing of Eve in Eden; the story of human love,
always so dear, so precious to the human heart.

But see! the scene has changed--here is a merry-making; a crowd of
flower-wreathed lads and lasses enter, and the harmonious dance,
instinct with life and motion,--the poetry of human limbs,--unrolls
itself before our eyes.

And so the pretty drama goes forward. An idyl of the golden age; of
that glorious epoch when virtue was always triumphant, and vice was
always exposed and crushed.

But the play is over; and the audience stream back, laughing and
chatting, under the stars, down the long, fruit-embowered streets, to
their flower-bedecked, humble homes.

And how little it costs to make mankind happy!

And what do we miss in all this joyous scene? Why, where are the
wolves, that used to prowl through the towns and cities of the world
that has passed away? The slinking, sullen, bloody-mouthed
miscreants, who, under one crafty device or another, would spring
upon, and tear, and destroy the poor, shrieking, innocent
people--where are they?

Ah! this is the difference: The government which formerly fed and
housed these monsters, under cunning kennels of perverted law, and
broke open holes in the palisades of society, that they might crawl
through and devastate the community, now shuts up every crevice
through which they could enter; stops every hole of opportunity;
crushes down every uprising instinct of cruelty and selfishness. And
the wolves have disappeared; and our little world is a garden of
peace and beauty, musical with laughter.

And so mankind moves with linked hands through happy lives to deaths;
and God smiles down upon them from his throne beyond the stars.

End of Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly

Book of the day: