Part 4 out of 4
presidency of the United States.
I was fairly driven from this city by the ferocious fleas, which
seemed to render life almost unendurable in hovel and palace. I could
get no rest day or night in many parts of the state, on account of the
savage attacks of these unspeakable, insatiate biters, more terrible
than an army with Gatling guns.
Crossing the beautiful bay in the floating palace ferry-boat, I was
for a time enchanted with Highland Park, Oakland. In front, through a
vista of Eucalyptus, oak and elm trees, appear the glistening waters
of the famed inland sea; on the right are seen the domes and spires
of Oakland, Alameda, and San Francisco; across the valley loom the
mountains, in the rainy season green to their summits, on which rest
the serene blue of the heavens, except when, the frequent fogs bury
everything from sight. On one side of the house, at the same time,
the trade winds from the Pacific chill you to your very bones, on the
other side the burning heat is unbearable. Afar off the humble home of
Joaquin Miller, poet of the Sierras, clearly appears.
There are many beautiful homes on this lofty hilltop, but they were
all for sale at bargains, for their occupants have grown weary of the
cloud bursts of the long dreary rainy season, then of the parching
heats of the equally dreary dry season, when a pickaxe and crowbar are
required to dig a potato unless you keep water running from the hose
day and night. These people long to return to their old homes in New
England where the varying seasons are not so monotonous.
I was invited to accompany a religious society on a week's camp in
a romantic canyon; but I was glad I did not when they returned in a
couple of days, narrating an adventure which daunted the stoutest
hearts. On the second night of their camping, the men were aroused
from sleep by the frightful screams from the women's tent; rushing
out, they saw in the light of the great fire kept burning to frighten
the wild-cats and mountain lions, a circle of venomous rattle-snakes,
hissing like fiends and coiled for springing. The men fought
desperately all night with shotguns and clubs. Life is scarcely worth
the living with these demons, and their natural attendants, the
I had secured the adoption of our dictionaries in every county visited
by me, and now the publishers desired me to remain on the Pacific
coast permanently, without salary, relying on commissions on sales of
their books made by me and my sub-agents by canvassing, from house to
house. This financial proposition was far from being alluring, for the
laws enacted by a national democratic rule of four years had ruined
many of the principal industries of this section, and the larger
cities required a license fee of twenty dollars per week from all
canvassing agents. Many houses displayed large signs, "No book agents
allowed here," and they kept ferocious dogs to enforce the rule. The
majority of the people were poor; the rich were already supplied with
dictionaries; and the schools would have no funds available with which
to buy reference books for nearly a year. Competing agents had visited
every house before my arrival on the coast, and I therefore resigned
my worthless position, and took the Eastern agency for a Tonic Port
which had, by its wonderful efficacy, delivered many from the horrors
of nervous prostration, anaemia, and kindred diseases which afflict so
many of the human race.
Another disenchantment,--another Eden becomes a Sahara. I had reached
the Pacific coast just when the departing rainy season had left all
nature fair as a poet's dream of love, and, vainly dreaming that this
was perpetual, it seemed as if I would sigh for no other heaven. But
the scorching heat and Siroccoes from the Mohave Desert followed close
upon the rear-guard of the retreating, life-giving rain-clouds, and
soon the lovely flowers died; the enchanting green grass withered; the
soul of the beautiful vanished, and the suffocating dust storms buried
the earth in a ghostly shroud, save where wealth was sufficient to
bring the mountain streams for irrigation.
I had for a time reveled in the dreams which fleetingly haunt all
mortals, that there I had found the lost Arcadia, where balmy zephyrs
fan the brow into ecstasy forever; but, alas! After a brief respite
I had, in that land which the real estate sharks called "Paradise,"
suffered more from alternating chilling winds and withering heat than
ever before; one day sweltering in the thinnest of seersuckers, and
perhaps the very next shivering in all the woolens I could command.
Without a shadow of regret or even a backward look, I bade farewell to
the Pacific and returned to the Atlantic of my youth, until the day
dawns and the shadows flee away.
I sojourned for some months in the cities of Richmond, Baltimore,
Providence, and Philadelphia, endeavoring to impress upon the minds of
the physicians the importance of prescribing my remedy, but with no
glittering financial success, lingering for weeks in the last named
city, on the very verge of the grave to which I was brought by the
filthy water of that grotesquely misnamed "City of Brotherly Love."
I had been, in former years, the champion school-book agent of New
England, and publishers had often told me that if I ever returned to
this vocation, they would gladly employ me. I applied to one of these
for a position, requesting a man who owed his success in business
entirely to my friendly aid and instructions, to speak a good word for
me, but he at once showed his gratitude by securing the appointment
for himself, being aided and abetted by an influential bald-headed
man who hated me, simply because I had sent to him a friend who
represented a hair restorer. Said bald-headed man had many reasons
to, and had often claimed to be, a friend of mine; but was foolishly
sensitive about his lack of hirsute adornment, and said I insulted him
by referring to his billiard-ball caput. Truly, gratitude is a lost
art, and some friends immediately become enemies when they can secure
from you no more plunder.
It is exceedingly difficult for a man who has passed the "death line"
of the half century, to find a place where he can do good and get
good; the hustling crowd of younger and stronger competitors push
him to the wall or trample him beneath their feet, in the terrific
scramble for the bare necessities of life. He drifts into the
depressing occupation of book or life insurance agency, and at once
every so-called friend, who pretended to worship him when he was
prosperous, gives him the cold shoulder, and "poor devil" is the most
complimentary epithet with which he is greeted.
Analogous with that wonderful Gulf Stream, once a myth, still a
mystery, the strange current of human existence bears each and all
of us with a strong, steady sweep from the tropic lands of sunny
childhood, enameled with verdure and gaudy with bloom, through the
temperate regions of manhood and womanhood, fruitful or fruitless as
the case may be; on to the often frigid, lonely shores of old age,
snow-crowned and ice-veined; and individual destinies seem to resemble
the tangled drift on those broad gulf billows, strewn on barren
beaches, stranded upon icebergs, some to be scorched under equatorial
heats, some to perish by polar perils; a few to take root and
flourish, building imperishable landmarks; and many to stagnate in the
long inglorious rest of the Sargasso Sea.
But really to the faithful soul nothing is lost; though the great
prizes of earth are denied us, every heroic endeavor, every struggle
to benefit the world sends treasures on high to our credit in the
grand bank of heaven.
There are the thoughts that one by one died 'ere we gave them birth,
The songs we tried in vain to sing, too sweet, too beautiful for earth.
No endeavor is in vain;
Its reward is in the doing,
And the rapture of pursuing,
Is the prize the vanquished gain.
We are all conscious of these songs we have tried in vain to sing, and
we are confident we will yet sing them when the bodily impediments are
swept away, and, as the earthly shadows lengthen, as the chill winds
of old age strengthen, we more and more appreciate the wonderful
expression of this thought, in that sweetest of all poems of the minor
key, called "The voiceless."
"We count the broken lyres that rest
Where the sweet wailing singers slumber;
But o'er the silent brother's breast,
The wild flowers who will stoop to number.
"A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy fame is proud to win them;
Alas for those who never sing,
But die with all their music in them.
"Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow;
But where the glistening night dews weep
O'er nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.
"If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven."
We have done our best according to the light that has been given; we
will continue to do so until the end, and we are soothed and sustained
by the inspiring thought so sweetly expressed by one of our greatest
"I know not where God's islands lift
Their fronded palms in air,
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
"And so beside the silent sea,
I wait the muffled oar:
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore."
Only waiting till the angels
Open wide the mystic gate,
At whose feet I long have lingered,
Weary, sad, and desolate;
Even now I hear their footsteps,
And their voices far away--
When they call me, I am waiting,
Only waiting to obey.
THE FLORIDA CRACKERS.
When the previous thirty chapters were in press, the conviction was
forced upon me that any book which touched upon Florida without a
description of its poor whites called "Crackers," would be like the
play of "Hamlet" with the Prince of Denmark left out, and I gladly pay
this tribute of grateful remembrance to the most unique, and the only
truly contented people that I have ever met on earth.
So far forth as history enlightens us, the ancestors of these peculiar
specimens of the human race were never born anywhere in particular,
but like Topsy, they "simply growed."
Why these usually long, lean, lank, saffron-hued, erst-while
clay-eaters have received such an unromantic name has been variously
accounted for. Some say the name was suggested by the fact that when
not otherwise employed, they are constantly cracking the lice which
swarm in their never-combed hair; others ascribe it to the frequent
cracking of their rifles and long whip-lashes as they pursue their
game or drive their cattle. An ex-slave of one of them tells me that
they are called "Crackers," because they are all "cracked as to their
Although the faces of many of these children of nature are usually as
expressionless as a cast-iron cook-stove, they are far from being as
stupid as they look; for even General Jackson, "the man of blood
and iron," would have won but few, if any, laurels in his campaigns
against the Seminoles, had it not been for his advanced guard of the
"Out there in history" we see him and his army, while recklessly
rushing the redskins, become lost and bewildered in the vast primeval
forest. Day after day, they marched, but always in a circle; and
each nightfall found them near where they broke camp in the morning.
Provisions failed, and hunger and thirst drove the soldiers frantic.
Every night they were pelted by bullets from unseen foes; stabbed and
stung by innumerable insects; death for all stared them in the face;
myriads of buzzards whirled above them, anxious for their prey.
While Jackson and his men, prostrated by heat, fruitless marching and
discouragement, were praying for succor, suddenly the air seemed to
be filled with human forms, which to their dazed minds appeared to be
angels sent in answer to their fervent petitions. Grotesque looking
angels were these, swinging from limb to limb of the forest trees; but
heavenly in their beneficence were the solemn-faced "Crackers," as
hundreds of them dropped to the ground and fed the exhausted warriors
with "hog, hominy," and water from packs strapped with their rifles to
their dirty, sturdy shoulders--"'nough sight better work for angels
to do than loafin' around the throne." While the feasting was in
full swing, suddenly the haggard and careworn face of "Old Hickory"
appeared in their midst. "Boys," said he, in his quick, incisive
tones, "don't eat any more, 'twill make you sick, stow it away in your
haversacks." Then, turning to the Floridians, he quietly remarked,
"Gentlemen, you saved our lives; many thanks! Now we will do as
much for you. Where are the Injuns?" All the tree-climbers arose
respectfully, saluted, and a tall, cadaverous-looking, long-haired,
coon-skin-capped leader advanced, took the general by the hand, and
"Ginrul, the red niggers air skulkin' yender to the river, waitin' to
chaw up you uns tonight.
"Colonel Tompkins," came the quick command, "_climb_ your forces to
the river, pour a volley into the red-skins at sundown, yell for all
you're worth, we'll do the rest."
"All right, Ginrul, we uns will be thar," and away went the "flying
Crackers," facing unspeakable dangers as calmly as a child looks into
the loving eyes of its mother.
Sometimes they glided noiselessly as the autumn leaves cleave the
air over the pine-needle carpet of the forest, and when this was
impossible on account of the bogs and morasses, which would swallow
them down to unknown depths, they swung through the tops of the
sighing pines until they had flanked their unsuspecting foes; then,
just as the sun was setting, they struck terror to the hearts of the
Seminoles by an unexpected volley from their rifles and by frightful
"As if all the fiends from heaven that fell,
Had pealed the banner-cry of hell."
The red-men fled in panic along the narrow isthmus between the swamps
and river straight upon the ambushed army of Jackson, who mowed them
down with bullets as falls the grass before the scythes. The spirits
of the Indians were crushed, and the remnant of a once powerful tribe
fled into the vast, to the whites, inaccessible everglades, where
their descendants now live on their fertile oasis, which is cultivated
by their negro slaves, who never heard of Abraham Lincoln, or his
proclamation of emancipation. "Old Hickory" and his gallant soldiers
have all the glory; but their heroic allies returned quietly to their
huts, their "hog and hominy," as unconcernedly as if they had done
nothing more important than catching a trout or shooting a quail.
The stolidity and patience of the "Cracker" is equalled only by that
of "their cousins, the Indians"; I have seen one of them sit for
twelve hours continuously in one place fishing without being
encouraged by even a little nibble; his face was as placid as that of
a mummy which he closely resembles; then suddenly he would pull in
scores of trout, but with the same imperturbable composure as before.
Although almost invariably poor so far as money is concerned, owing
to their love of ease, these children of nature are proverbially
hospitable, and you are welcome as his guest until you eat his last
bit of food unless you offer him compensation therefor; if you do that
his wrath knows no bounds, as I once found to my sorrow.
I had been wandering with three other horseback riders for a day and
night lost in the woods; we were hungry and tired to the verge of
collapse, when suddenly up went the heads and tails of our quadruped
friends, who neighed with delight, and dashed pell mell toward a huge
building or rather connected aggregation of buildings which loomed
up on a hill in the pines. We made the welkin ring with our saluting
shouts, but there was no response, the settlement was deserted; we
stabled and fed our horses in the near-by barn, and led by a Floridian
friend entered the largest house. Had manna fallen to us from heaven
our surprise could not have been greater; a huge table was before us
covered with enormous quantities of roasted meats,--venison, quail,
wild turkey, hoe-cakes and fruits galore. We fell upon the provisions
like famished wolves, and when at last our "aching voids" were filled,
we were appalled at the havoc we had wrought; still no hosts appeared
to welcome or rebuke.
On the wide mantel was a quantity of homemade cigars from which those
of us who were "slaves to the filthy weed" made selections, and on the
broad piazza were illustrating the wise man's definition of a cigar,
"a roll of nausea with fire on one end and a fool on the other," when
the air resounded with loud reports like pistol-shots and shouts of
"whoa, whe, gee," rebel yells and barking of dogs; then a multitude
of cattle dashed into view urged on by a cavalcade of men, women and
children. The drivers gave us only casual glances until the round-up
was completed and the enclosing gates shut, when the rollicking crowd
came trooping toward us, and our guilty consciences made us fearful
of dire punishment for our peculations. Then a tall, long-haired
patriarch saluted us with "Howdy, strangers, howdy," shook hands with
us heartily, and with a wave of his hand, "my wife and children,
gents," glanced at the impoverished table, when he shouted "glad you
had good appetites, strangers, mother, guess you'll have to tune up
some more cooking."
The whole crowd gave us a marching salute, and made the water fly in
a big tub where they performed much-needed ablutions, and soon,
hoe-cakes were smoking, pork and sausages sizzling, doughnuts
swelling, manipulated by the many willing hands: then the whole army
"fell to" the abundant feast. It was wonderful and laughable to see
that crowd of sons, daughters, grand-sons, grand-daughters--fifty in
number--all one family, "stow away the prog."
Each one reminded you of the Irishman's pig who was said to devour a
half-bushel of boiled potatoes, and when he was outside of all that,
he, himself, would not fill a two quart measure. What a clatter of
dishes as the buxom girls helped mother "clear up"! Then we had fun at
the milking; it required a dozen strong men to hold one kicking cow
while a woman, squeezed out a little milk from the reluctant udders,
though she gave down freely later when the ravenous calf took hold. If
the men relaxed for a minute, up goes the irate cow's heels, away goes
the pail "dowsing" the maid with the foaming milk from head to foot,
anon the wild-eyed brute would down horns and charge, the milkeress
takes to her heels, then a flight of lassoos, over goes the frantic
animal onto her back, the ropes tighten until she was conquered and
forced to "give down some of her juice." One dose of this medicine
was usually sufficient for any wild cow, and forever after she would
"stand and deliver in peace."
Shall we ever forget the feeding of the pigs? Oh, the wild charge they
made when they saw the feed troughs filled! "Everyone for himself, and
the devil take the hindermost;" one huge razor-back stretches himself
at full length on the "dough" in his generous attempt to prevent the
rest from "making hogs of themselves"; an indignant young Cracker
lassoos the hind legs, and by a dextrous pull sends his swine-ship
whirling and rending high heaven with his lamentations.
At last all are stuffed as full as our "grandmother's sassingers," and
then reclining in the sun, they express by their contented grunts and
snores, ecstatic rapture as they pile on flesh for the stuffing of
their carniverous owners. Then we watched a giant Crackeress feeding
what she called her "feathered hogs." With frenzied eyes, whirring
wings and waring beaks, all rushed to cheat the others and to secure
the whole earth, each for himself, very like many "two-legged hogs
without feathers"; a hen seizes a hoe-cake of her own size and
frantically rushes away in the vain hope of devouring it in peace in
some sequestered nook; but argus, envious eyes are watching, and her
uncles and her aunts pursue, striking with beaks and claws to rob her
of her big all. It was a minature Wall Street and stock-exchange,
where human hogs and foul birds of prey fight to the death to plunder
their own brothers.
And now gently the night stole o'er us--
"Night, so holy and so calm,
That the moonbeams hushed the spirit,
Like the voice of prayer or psalm"
and until the "wee sma hours," while three generations listened
intently, we swapped stories with our generous "Crackers."
Our patriarch host had been a captain in the rebel army until he had
his "belly full of fight," as he quaintly termed it. His wife had
blest him with an even score of boys and girls, all now living in this
delightful climate, where he said, "no one ever died; they simply
dried up and blowed away into the happy hunting-grounds beyond the
stars." When a baby was born or a child married, this chief of the
tribe "hitched on" another house, until now the one-story dwellings
covered an acre of his vast lands.
He and his tribe raised on his great farm here in Bradford County
everything he needed to eat, drink, or to wear: his wife and daughters
spun and wove their clothing from the cotton grown and ginned on his
own fields; the delicious syrup and sugar which adorned and sweetened
the mountains of rye pancakes and floods of home-raised coffee, was
made from the cane which was grown, and ground on his own soil.
He grew his own tobacco, tea, peanuts, oranges, figs, pineapples,
bananas; he fattened his cattle and hogs on his own cassava and the
abundant wild grasses; his flocks of sheep "cut their own fodder," and
the wool and mutton was all clear profit. This "Cracker" family was
the happiest and most independent I ever saw on earth.
All around this plantation are millions of uncultivated acres where
the wretches of our city slums could be equally happy if our Carnegies
and Rockefellers would only loan the funds to colonize them there.
The millions of dollars, now worse than wasted by our selfish
millionaires? could thus soon make this earth a paradise like to that
above. After enjoying this free delightful life for several days, and
we were on the point of departing, I said to our host, "Captain, we
have enjoyed your hospitality immensely, and I hope you will allow me
to reciprocate," holding toward him a bank-note.
Instantly his eyes flashed angry fire, he shot out his fist to strike
me, when a neighbor said, "Don't hit him Cap, he don't know no better,
he's a Yank." "Wall Yank," drawled this six feet of fighting man,
"seein' ye don't know no better, I'll let ye off this time; but I
don't keep no tarvern, and when me and my family come yure way, we'll
all stop with yew, that'll even it up." As I looked at the fifty
yawning caverns of chewing mouths, and reflected upon the cost of
feeding them in Boston for even one day, I thanked God that I had not
given him my card, and we rode away amid ear-splitting cheers and
waving of hands, each one of which resembled in size the tail-board of
On another occasion while scouring the Florida country for lands for
colonizing purposes in company with a native, the night caught us in
the dense forest; our horses stumbled over immense fallen trees, the
owls hooted, the wild cats screamed, the thunder roared, occasionally
a pine fell splintered by the lightning, the rain fell in torrents,
and we seemed destined to shiver all the long black hours supperless
and comfortless, when our eyes were greeted by the cheerful light
shining through the open door of a log hut; a dozen curs gave tongue
and went for our legs till a sharp yell from within sent them yelping
away. A genuine Cracker appeared, and seeing our dripping forms in the
electric flash, he quietly said, "Lite strangers, lite, jest in time,
plenty of hog and hominy." He led our tired steeds into the leanto,
fed them, and ushered us into his one-room shanty, where his lank wife
and a dozen children silently made room for us around a rough board
table. "Mother," said the master, "more hoe-cake, more bacon," and
the obedient woman "slapped" a lot of corn dough on to the blade of
a common hoe which a girl held over the "fat-wood" fire until it
browned; another tossed some smoked hog into an suspicious looking
skillet, and soon, in spite of the slovenly cooking, we "fell to" in
a desperate attempt to smother the gnawing pangs of a long-suffering
appetite. Then we told all the stories we could recall or invent to
satisfy the starving intellects of these lonesome denizens of the
wild wood. "Come, chilluns, to bed," said our host, and they were all
stacked one over the other on the one corn-shuck couch where a chorus
of snores proved they were in the land of dreams.
Our host relapsed into silence and seemed to be pondering some
profound problem in his mind; but suddenly blurted out, "Strangers,
reckon ye haint gut any of the rale critter, have ye? no corn juice
pison nor nuthin'? reckon I was born dry!" My guide in reply produced
a long flat bottle of about his own size, and passed it with "try that
Kunnel." There was a sound of mighty gurgling long drawn out,
but finally the huge demijohn was reluctantly withdrawn from his
cavernlike mouth with a joyous "Ah, that's the rale stuff, have some
mother? The woman removed the snuff rag from her gums long enough to
drain the dregs, and presto! they beamed upon us like twin suns.
"Strangers," ejaculated this typical Cracker, "this is the dog-gondest
place ter git er drink yer ever seed. Aour caounty went dry last
'lection, and tother day er went to the spensary ter git sum
fire-water er thinkin we mought be sick er sunthin, ther wouldn't
let me hev it 'thout Doc's 'scripshun--went to Doc, wouldn't give me
'scripshun 'thout snake-bite er sunthin--went ter only snake er knowed
on fer a bite, und the dog-goned critter sed all his bites wuz spoke
for three weeks ahed. Dunno what ud er dun if you uns hedn't cum
erlong. Naouw, strangers, you take aour bed, we sleep on floo."
Then he took the "kids" one by one, and set them up with their backs
to the side of the shanty, and we, not daring to beard the lion in his
den by declining, obeyed. The next morning we found ourselves set up
alongside the children on the floor, while the old man and his wife
were snoring on the bed. Verily, "For ways that are dark and tricks
that are vain, the heathen 'Cracker' is peculiar."
When I was writing the last words of the preceding chapter of this
book, and was about to
"Heed my tired pen's entreaty,
And say, oh, friends, _valete_,"
I seemed to be trying to awake from a trance in which I had been the
unwilling instrument, compelled by an intelligence extraneous to
myself to expose to an incredulous public the most sacred scenes and
thoughts of a lifetime.
I had decided to relieve the patience of my readers with the
thirty-first chapter; but when the retrospective kaleidoscope closed,
a vision rose before me so vivid, so real, that I am constrained to
describe it in the hope that the warning may prevent the tragic part
of the dream from becoming a reality.
It is Christmas day in the year of our Lord, 1910; the thunder-cloud,
which for many years had been increasing in blackness, now surcharged
with pent-up lightnings, and overspreading our entire national
horizon, bursts with the fury of a cyclone.
The great masses of the people had for a long time watched with
ever-increasing rage the seeming conspiracy of the employing and
professional classes to bind to their chariot-wheels those who labored
with their hands. Gigantic trusts had "cornered" all the necessaries
of life, and a few lily-fingered plutocrats in their marble palaces
dictated to the horny-handed sons of toil the amount of their beggarly
wages, and the prices they must pay for every needed article, until
every job of work and every bone of charity was fought for by
multitudes who mercilessly stabbed each other in their mad fury to
assuage the pangs of hunger.
When the people rallied at the polls, and elected to the high offices
members of their own unions, the millionaires bribed these officials
to obey their every command, and these mercenary law-makers, as often
as chosen, joined the ever-growing ranks of the oppressors.
Even the almost innumerable colleges throughout the Republic, whose
treasuries had absorbed countless millions of dollars, had proved
a measureless curse, as they had become mere cramming machines and
nurseries of lawlessness and brutality. The great universities had
long idolized plug-ugly football kickers and baseball sluggers to
the utter ignoring of scholarship, until the hordes of eleemosinary
prize-fighters among the so-called students created a reign of terror
where they were located, and far surpassed in ferocity even the
gladiators of ancient Rome. The annual "athletic contest" between the
two greatest universities was fought out with almost inconceivable
fury on "Soldiers' Field."
Irresistible bodies met the immovable, cheered on by yelling legions,
each phalanx would conquer or die, and die they did by scores; they
kicked and slugged like maniacs until separated by the combined
police-forces of the surrounding cities, and more were killed and
wounded than in the entire Spanish War. When night fell, thousands of
collegians invaded the capitol of the State, and with savage yells and
wedge-rushes drove all citizens from the streets; they closed every
theatre, pelting the actors with whiskey bottles stolen from the
saloons in which they had smashed thousands of dollars' worth of
costly furniture; they stole every sign from stores, which caught
their fancy; no woman was respected, until their orgies were stopped
by the bayonets of the national guard.
Such "scholars" as these had for many years been ground through these
educational mills by thousands, crowding the ranks of the professional
classes to suffocation. Legions of unscrupulous lawyers, more
heartless than pirates or brigands in Bulgaria, infested every city
and town, busy as demons stirring up strife, drilling witnesses to
perjury, bull-dozing the innocent even unto death with the full
connivance of the plunder-sharing judges, until the jails were crowded
with victims who could not pay their outrageous fees.
These lawyer-sharks packed caucuses, stuffed ballot-boxes, and thereby
elected themselves to legislatures where they enacted unjust laws to
subserve their own iniquitous depredations.
But this nefarious pillaging was not confined to the courts alone:
armies of patientless doctors must be fed at the expense of the
long-suffering public, and as all the people were not _naturally_ sick
all the time for the benefit of the quacks, these so-called doctors
prevailed upon their legislative college-chums to pass laws compelling
all to be innoculated with virus, ostensibly to render them immune to
various contagions, but really to furnish unlimited plunder to their
Even the women caught the craze for "higher education" to fit
themselves for "kid-glove" professional emoluments; they, too, tore
each other's hair, scratched each other's faces in frantic football
rushes, tumbling over each other in the wild scrimmage for fees,
leaving the kitchens to the ignorant foreigners, who ruined digestions
with preposterous cookery, which would have killed a nation of
The great Republic might have survived even such horrors as these had
it not been for the out-breaking of another craze more terrible far
than an army with gattling guns, I refer to the most destructive of
all scourges, the mania for stock-gambling. The crafty, unscrupulous
managers of bucket-shops, stock-exchanges, and brokerages filled the
columns of the press with manufactured accounts of vast fortunes
made in an hour by imaginary investors of small sums, and at once
multitudes of farmers, mechanics, and even teachers abandoned their
honest pursuits to squander their hard earnings in the vain attempts
to "buck the tiger," and "beard the lion in his den."
The inevitable result followed: the lion and the lamb lay down
together, with the lamb inside the lion, thousands of formerly
well-to-do people were pauperized. Thousands of farms were abandoned,
hundreds of factories were deserted, while the fiendish, cheating
boss-gambler sharks were gorged to repletion with their infamous
plunder; then followed a frenzy of hatred on the part of the masses
against the classes: city treasuries were depleted to feed the
starving with free soup, the cities were crowded with the desperate,
hungry multitudes who had lost their all, and bloody riots capped the
climax of a hell on earth.
From the cupola of the State House in Boston, a little group of
citizens gazed upon a scene which would daunt the stoutest heart;
these five men standing motionless and speechless under the gilded
dome are of widely differing stations in life, as far apart as the
poles in culture, education, and creed, but their faces wore the same
expressions of profound sadness mingled with stern determination.
The tall man on the right is the Governor of the State of
Massachusetts, a millionaire, a classic face showing his aristocratic
lineage in every feature, a scholarly, furrowed brow, dressed with
scrupulous care, and looking at the frightful scenes with the
dauntless eye of an eagle. He is the chosen leader of the Republican
party which for many years has controlled the destinies of the "Old
Bay State." Next stands a man in every way in strong contrast to his
refined companion, a short, stout, ruddy-faced son of Ireland, but
now Mayor of the city of Boston, a Democrat of Democrats, carelessly
dressed, a political boss, who under ordinary circumstances would
never have affiliated with his lordly neighbor.
Next in the line is a smooth-faced portly man, clad in fine
broadcloth, unmistakably a Catholic Priest; next is a man of soldierly
bearing whose uniform and shoulder-straps proclaim him to be the
commander of the national guard of the State; close beside the
guardsman is the stalwart superintendent of the city police. For a few
minutes only, these men were spell-bound by the terrible scenes before
them. A mob of ragged wild-eyed men and women are straggling along the
street, some wearing the red caps of Anarchy, firing revolvers at the
windows of the houses and at every well-dressed person in sight, some
waved strange banners labelled "Bread or blood," "Down with the rich,"
"Shoot the soldiers"; many blood-red flags are waved with demoniacal
Directly in front of this howling mob is massed the First Corps of
Cadets, and the 9th Regiment of Irish militia; soldiers are seen
falling in the ranks, and blood crimsoned the snow, alarm bells are
clanging, flames are bursting from the elegant buildings, tremendous
explosions are heard which seemed to shake the foundations of the
city. Ferocious men and women are seen looting the stores, drinking
plundered liquors; the off-scouring of all nations are pillaging,
burning, murdering; the spirit of hell seems in full control on this
natal day of the Prince of Peace. Still the national guard did not
"Father," cried the Governor, "will the 9th Regiment kill their own
brothers if ordered to shoot?"
"My children will obey orders, sir," quietly replied the priest.
"Then in heaven's name, General, Marconi the order; if we wait longer
everything is ruined."
The Mayor's eyes flashed fire; he seemed about to countermand--the
priest lifted his hand, "Brother, we must," he said--the Mayor
hesitated; he saw many of his own constituents among the rioters; his
face was like that of a corpse, then, "Order," he gasped.
The General touched the keys before him, the Colonel of the 9th
flinched as if struck by a bullet, then a quick command, the clear
notes of the bugle sounded, the Irish soldiers hesitated, glanced at
the cupola; the priest with outstretched arms confirmed the mandate;
the repeating rifles were levelled, and crash upon crash went the
volleys of bullets into the bosoms of the mob. Again pealed the bugle
note, and quick as a flash forward rushed the dandy Cadets and the
Irish soldiers, shoulder to shoulder in a wild bayonet charge.
Screams, groans and curses rend the air, scores of the rioters are
weltering in their gore, the rest broke, fled, leaving the streets
strewn with the dead and wounded.
"Marconi the hospitals," said the Governor; and in a trice the
ambulances are bearing away the sufferers to be tenderly cared for, as
if they were the best, instead of the worst of the human race.
"Brothers," said the Governor, "shall we order the troops and police
in every city to fire? It will be merciful to end this horrible
suspense." "Amen," came the response from the bowed heads of his
companions; instantly the command was Marconied to every place which
was in a state of anarchy.
Suddenly came the crash of musketry from many parts of the city,
accompanied by the grumbling bass of the gattling guns, then the
defiant yells ceased, and all was quiet.
"Your Excellency," calmly spoke the General, "here are Marconis from
every city that the fight is over, the mobs have dispersed.
"Thank God," came the chorus from each in this remarkable quintette
who had co-operated in the carefully-considered plans which had so
quickly brought peace to the distracted city and State.
"Brothers," said the Governor, "we must feed the hungry, and give
work to the people of our overcrowded cities: there is but one way to
accomplish this, we must colonize the unemployed upon the Southern and
Western lands, the people must go back to the bosom of mother earth
where they can have independent homes of their own; there are no
public funds for this purpose, and the rich must furnish the necessary
money for transportation, or the Republic is dead. I will personally
guarantee the funds necessary to furnish homes for all who will go
from Massachusetts to cultivate the unimproved lands in Florida and
Colorado, which, with others, I purchased years ago to provide for
this crisis which many prophesied was sure to come. I will at once
telegraph to secure the co-operation of the Governors of all the
States in our Union; the evening papers will announce our plans to the
In a few minutes the lightnings were flashing full accounts of this,
the most important meeting ever held, throughout the length and
breadth of the nation; the responses were the most enthusiastic and
thrilling ever known in the history of mankind. Money in vast sums was
wired by the rich to every Governor, for the purpose of transforming
the poverty-stricken of the slums into self-supporting self-respecting
farmers; railroad presidents tendered free transportation; one touch
of nature made the whole world kin.
In an uncompleted tunnel under the harbor of Boston was gathered a
vast crowd of wild-eyed Anarchists, and desperate hungry wretches from
the vilest dens, who had just sworn with unspeakable oaths to burn and
plunder the city that very night, to murder all the rich, to commit
outrages no fiend had ever dared to dream before. When they were about
to rush out and let loose the dogs of carnage and unspeakable horrors,
suddenly in the glare of their torches appeared the priest who an hour
before, had played such an important part in the State House cupola
conference. A hush fell upon the rabble as they recognized their
spiritual adviser; with a voice of almost super-human power, he
"Brothers, there is no excuse for murder, no cause for lawlessness,
money is flowing in like water to furnish homes for us all away from
these stifling factories out in God's pure air of the prairies and
fields of the great West and the sunny South. For the sake of your
wives and children do no violence; assemble all to-morrow morning in
the amphitheatre, where you will find food in abundance, until we are
located upon our own portion of God's green earth."
The effect of these sympathetic words was wonderful; malice and frenzy
were driven from the minds of these children of the slums, even as the
devils were exorcised from the Magdalen of old, and inspired with new
hopes and holier aspirations they vanished into the shades of evening.
All night long the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America, hundreds
of every nationality and creed, labored strenuously in making
preparations to feed the hungry, clothe the shivering, and care for
the sick. When the morning dawned fair and balmy beyond all precedent
for this season of the year, the scene in the vast amphitheatre
baffled description, over which the heavenly host rejoiced as never
before. The united bands of the city discoursed sweet music from the
balcony, from steaming cauldrons the multitudes were fed to repletion
with nourishing delicious food; the sick, the weak, the women and
children were abundantly supplied in their homes, all seemed like one
great family, the rich and the poor clasped hands like brothers, and
the spirit of peace on earth good will toward men reigned supreme.
When all had been refreshed, while the bands played "Hail to the
Chief," the Governor, with a great number of the most prominent in
church, state, and philanthropy, filed in upon the rostrum, welcomed
by enthusiastic cheers. As the applause died away His Excellency said,
"In the city hives are clustered far too many human bees, we must
swarm out into the country where there is honey enough and to spare,
"'Go back to your mother, ye children, for shame,
Who have wandered like truants, for riches and fame!
With a smile on her face, and a sprig in her cap,
She calls you to feast from her bountiful lap.
Come out from your alleys, your courts, and your lanes,
And breathe, like your eagles, the air of our plains;
Take a whiff from our fields, and your excellent wives
Will declare it all nonsense insuring your lives.'
"You, who are strong, and who delight in buffetting the cold and snows,
should go to the deserted New England farms or to the broad prairies
of the West, the graneries of the world; but you who shrivel in the
wintry blasts, and who are subject to rheumatism and coughs, should go
to the sunny southlands where you can work and rejoice in a climate of
"We have funds in abundance to secure lands for all, build houses,
furnish essentials for tilling the soil, and provisions, until crops
can be raised; this money you can repay in easy installments to be
used to equip future applicants. All wishing to secure these homes
without money and without price can apply at the State House
A glad shout which reached the stars and gladdened the angelic hosts
was the immediate response to these tidings, and poverty was banished
forever from the Great Republic.
The scene changes--from stygian darkness, desolation and gloom of
dingy, malodorous factories and streets, where ragged, hopeless
beggars-for-work delve and curse, to the glorious sunlight and balmy
air of the "Land of Flowers." Here we see pretty vine-clad cottages
embowered in orange groves, and surrounded by luxuriant harvests of
everything to make life worth the living. Here we see the murderous
villains of the Boston Christmas-day mobs, no longer blood-thirsty,
but smiling and happy as they listen to the songs of birds, the
bleating of their own flocks, the laughter of their delighted
children, while the prosperous fathers "tickle the bosom of their own
mother earth with the hoe to make it laugh with abundant crops for man
and beast." The grateful citizens have named their towns in honor of
their generous benefactors, thus establishing for Carneiges, Morgans
and Rockefellers monuments to their memories which will endure
Thus was removed for all time the antagonism between labor and
capital; thus were envy and class hatreds banished from society, and
thus was our glorious Republic secured upon firm foundations, which
will endure "until the final day breaks and all earthly shadows flee
Thus at last the prophetic vision of the poet seemed to be realized in
"the land of the free and the home of the brave."
"One dream through all the ages
Has led the world along:
The wise words of the sages,
The poet in his song,
The prophet in his vision,--
All these have caught the gleam,
Have caught the light elysian,
Have told the haunting dream.
This dream is that the story
The ages have unrolled
Shall blossom in the glory
Of one long age of gold;
That every man and woman
Shall find life glad and free,
That in whate'er is human
Is hid Divinity.
The rod of old oppression
One day shall broken be;
Those held in night's possession
The light of hope shall see;
For tears there shall be laughing,
And peace shall be for strife,
And thirsty lips be quaffing
The wine of glorious life.
The rage and noise of battle
Shall sink, and fall to peace,
The lowing of the cattle,
The fruit and corn increase;
No more the wide sky under
The rattle of the drum,
No more the cannon's thunder,--
God's kingdom shall have come.
Some day, dearest, where skies are bright,
We'll dwell in the beauty of love and light;
And sorrow will seem
Like a far-off dream,
And life shall be morning, that knows no night!
Some day, dearest--that perfect day
For which we knelt in the dark to pray
We'll reap the rest
That God deems best--
In the beautiful vales of the far-away!"