Part 3 out of 6
host of little capitalists warred with each other in economic
anarchy, and when production was primitive, wasteful, unorganized,
and costly. Believe me, Joshua's task was easier, and he had
Jehovah to help him. But God has forsaken you small capitalists.
The sun of the small capitalists is setting. It will never rise
again. Nor is it in your power even to make it stand still. You
are perishing, and you are doomed to perish utterly from the face
"This is the fiat of evolution. It is the word of God.
Combination is stronger than competition. Primitive man was a puny
creature hiding in the crevices of the rocks. He combined and made
war upon his carnivorous enemies. They were competitive beasts.
Primitive man was a combinative beast, and because of it he rose to
primacy over all the animals. And man has been achieving greater
and greater combinations ever since. It is combination versus
competition, a thousand centuries long struggle, in which
competition has always been worsted. Whoso enlists on the side of
"But the trusts themselves arose out of competition," Mr. Calvin
Very true," Ernest answered. "And the trusts themselves destroyed
competition. That, by your own word, is why you are no longer in
the dairy business."
The first laughter of the evening went around the table, and even
Mr. Calvin joined in the laugh against himself.
"And now, while we are on the trusts," Ernest went on, "let us
settle a few things. I shall make certain statements, and if you
disagree with them, speak up. Silence will mean agreement. Is it
not true that a machine-loom will weave more cloth and weave more
cheaply than a hand-loom?" He paused, but nobody spoke up. "Is it
not then highly irrational to break the machine-loom and go back to
the clumsy and more costly hand-loom method of weaving?" Heads
nodded in acquiescence. "Is it not true that that known as a trust
produces more efficiently and cheaply than can a thousand competing
small concerns?" Still no one objected. "Then is it not
irrational to destroy that cheap and efficient combination?"
No one answered for a long time. Then Mr. Kowalt spoke.
"What are we to do, then?" he demanded. "To destroy the trusts is
the only way we can see to escape their domination."
Ernest was all fire and aliveness on the instant.
"I'll show you another way!" he cried. "Let us not destroy those
wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us
control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness.
Let us run them for ourselves. Let us oust the present owners of
the wonderful machines, and let us own the wonderful machines
ourselves. That, gentlemen, is socialism, a greater combination
than the trusts, a greater economic and social combination than any
that has as yet appeared on the planet. It is in line with
evolution. We meet combination with greater combination. It is
the winning side. Come on over with us socialists and play on the
Here arose dissent. There was a shaking of heads, and mutterings
"All right, then, you prefer to be anachronisms," Ernest laughed.
"You prefer to play atavistic roles. You are doomed to perish as
all atavisms perish. Have you ever asked what will happen to you
when greater combinations than even the present trusts arise? Have
you ever considered where you will stand when the great trusts
themselves combine into the combination of combinations--into the
social, economic, and political trust?"
He turned abruptly and irrelevantly upon Mr. Calvin.
"Tell me," Ernest said, "if this is not true. You are compelled to
form a new political party because the old parties are in the hands
of the trusts. The chief obstacle to your Grange propaganda is the
trusts. Behind every obstacle you encounter, every blow that
smites you, every defeat that you receive, is the hand of the
trusts. Is this not so? Tell me."
Mr. Calvin sat in uncomfortable silence.
"Go ahead," Ernest encouraged.
"It is true," Mr. Calvin confessed. "We captured the state
legislature of Oregon and put through splendid protective
legislation, and it was vetoed by the governor, who was a creature
of the trusts. We elected a governor of Colorado, and the
legislature refused to permit him to take office. Twice we have
passed a national income tax, and each time the supreme court
smashed it as unconstitutional. The courts are in the hands of the
trusts. We, the people, do not pay our judges sufficiently. But
there will come a time--"
"When the combination of the trusts will control all legislation,
when the combination of the trusts will itself be the government,"
"Never! never!" were the cries that arose. Everybody was excited
"Tell me," Ernest demanded, "what will you do when such a time
"We will rise in our strength!" Mr. Asmunsen cried, and many voices
backed his decision.
"That will be civil war," Ernest warned them.
"So be it, civil war," was Mr. Asmunsen's answer, with the cries of
all the men at the table behind him. "We have not forgotten the
deeds of our forefathers. For our liberties we are ready to fight
"Do not forget," he said, "that we had tacitly agreed that liberty
in your case, gentlemen, means liberty to squeeze profits out of
The table was angry, now, fighting angry; but Ernest controlled the
tumult and made himself heard.
"One more question. When you rise in your strength, remember, the
reason for your rising will be that the government is in the hands
of the trusts. Therefore, against your strength the government
will turn the regular army, the navy, the militia, the police--in
short, the whole organized war machinery of the United States.
Where will your strength be then?"
Dismay sat on their faces, and before they could recover, Ernest
"Do you remember, not so long ago, when our regular army was only
fifty thousand? Year by year it has been increased until to-day it
is three hundred thousand."
Again he struck.
"Nor is that all. While you diligently pursued that favorite
phantom of yours, called profits, and moralized about that favorite
fetich of yours, called competition, even greater and more direful
things have been accomplished by combination. There is the
"It is our strength!" cried Mr. Kowalt. "With it we would repel
the invasion of the regular army."
"You would go into the militia yourself," was Ernest's retort, "and
be sent to Maine, or Florida, or the Philippines, or anywhere else,
to drown in blood your own comrades civil-warring for their
liberties. While from Kansas, or Wisconsin, or any other state,
your own comrades would go into the militia and come here to
California to drown in blood your own civil-warring."
Now they were really shocked, and they sat wordless, until Mr. Owen
"We would not go into the militia. That would settle it. We would
not be so foolish."
Ernest laughed outright.
"You do not understand the combination that has been effected. You
could not help yourself. You would be drafted into the militia."
"There is such a thing as civil law," Mr. Owen insisted.
"Not when the government suspends civil law. In that day when you
speak of rising in your strength, your strength would be turned
against yourself. Into the militia you would go, willy-nilly.
Habeas corpus, I heard some one mutter just now. Instead of habeas
corpus you would get post mortems. If you refused to go into the
militia, or to obey after you were in, you would be tried by
drumhead court martial and shot down like dogs. It is the law."
"It is not the law!" Mr. Calvin asserted positively. "There is no
such law. Young man, you have dreamed all this. Why, you spoke of
sending the militia to the Philippines. That is unconstitutional.
The Constitution especially states that the militia cannot be sent
out of the country."
"What's the Constitution got to do with it?" Ernest demanded. "The
courts interpret the Constitution, and the courts, as Mr. Asmunsen
agreed, are the creatures of the trusts. Besides, it is as I have
said, the law. It has been the law for years, for nine years,
"That we can be drafted into the militia?" Mr. Calvin asked
incredulously. "That they can shoot us by drumhead court martial
if we refuse?"
"Yes," Ernest answered, "precisely that."
"How is it that we have never heard of this law?" my father asked,
and I could see that it was likewise new to him.
"For two reasons," Ernest said. "First, there has been no need to
enforce it. If there had, you'd have heard of it soon enough. And
secondly, the law was rushed through Congress and the Senate
secretly, with practically no discussion. Of course, the
newspapers made no mention of it. But we socialists knew about it.
We published it in our papers. But you never read our papers."
"I still insist you are dreaming," Mr. Calvin said stubbornly.
"The country would never have permitted it."
"But the country did permit it," Ernest replied. "And as for my
dreaming--" he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a small
pamphlet--"tell me if this looks like dream-stuff."
He opened it and began to read:
"'Section One, be it enacted, and so forth and so forth, that the
militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the
respective states, territories, and District of Columbia, who is
more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age.'
"'Section Seven, that any officer or enlisted man'--remember
Section One, gentlemen, you are all enlisted men--"that any
enlisted man of the militia who shall refuse or neglect to present
himself to such mustering officer upon being called forth as herein
prescribed, shall be subject to trial by court martial, and shall
be punished as such court martial shall direct.'
"'Section Eight, that courts martial, for the trial of officers or
men of the militia, shall be composed of militia officers only.'
"'Section Nine, that the militia, when called into the actual
service of the United States, shall be subject to the same rules
and articles of war as the regular troops of the United States.'
"There you are gentlemen, American citizens, and fellow-militiamen.
Nine years ago we socialists thought that law was aimed against
labor. But it would seem that it was aimed against you, too.
Congressman Wiley, in the brief discussion that was permitted, said
that the bill 'provided for a reserve force to take the mob by the
throat'--you're the mob, gentlemen--'and protect at all hazards
life, liberty, and property.' And in the time to come, when you
rise in your strength, remember that you will be rising against the
property of the trusts, and the liberty of the trusts, according to
the law, to squeeze you. Your teeth are pulled, gentlemen. Your
claws are trimmed. In the day you rise in your strength, toothless
and clawless, you will be as harmless as any army of clams."
"I don't believe it!" Kowalt cried. "There is no such law. It is
a canard got up by you socialists."
"This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on July
30, 1902," was the reply. "It was introduced by Representative
Dick of Ohio. It was rushed through. It was passed unanimously by
the Senate on January 14, 1903. And just seven days afterward was
approved by the President of the United States."*
* Everhard was right in the essential particulars, though his date
of the introduction of the bill is in error. The bill was
introduced on June 30, and not on July 30. The Congressional
Record is here in Ardis, and a reference to it shows mention of the
bill on the following dates: June 30, December 9, 15, 16, and 17,
1902, and January 7 and 14, 1903. The ignorance evidenced by the
business men at the dinner was nothing unusual. Very few people
knew of the existence of this law. E. Untermann, a revolutionist,
in July, 1903, published a pamphlet at Girard, Kansas, on the
"Militia Bill." This pamphlet had a small circulation among
workingmen; but already had the segregation of classes proceeded so
far, that the members of the middle class never heard of the
pamphlet at all, and so remained in ignorance of the law.
THE MATHEMATICS OF A DREAM
In the midst of the consternation his revelation had produced,
Ernest began again to speak.
"You have said, a dozen of you to-night, that socialism is
impossible. You have asserted the impossible, now let me
demonstrate the inevitable. Not only is it inevitable that you
small capitalists shall pass away, but it is inevitable that the
large capitalists, and the trusts also, shall pass away. Remember,
the tide of evolution never flows backward. It flows on and on,
and it flows from competition to combination, and from little
combination to large combination, and from large combination to
colossal combination, and it flows on to socialism, which is the
most colossal combination of all.
"You tell me that I dream. Very good. I'll give you the
mathematics of my dream; and here, in advance, I challenge you to
show that my mathematics are wrong. I shall develop the
inevitability of the breakdown of the capitalist system, and I
shall demonstrate mathematically why it must break down. Here
goes, and bear with me if at first I seem irrelevant.
"Let us, first of all, investigate a particular industrial process,
and whenever I state something with which you disagree, please
interrupt me. Here is a shoe factory. This factory takes leather
and makes it into shoes. Here is one hundred dollars' worth of
leather. It goes through the factory and comes out in the form of
shoes, worth, let us say, two hundred dollars. What has happened?
One hundred dollars has been added to the value of the leather.
How was it added? Let us see.
"Capital and labor added this value of one hundred dollars.
Capital furnished the factory, the machines, and paid all the
expenses. Labor furnished labor. By the joint effort of capital
and labor one hundred dollars of value was added. Are you all
agreed so far?"
Heads nodded around the table in affirmation.
"Labor and capital having produced this one hundred dollars, now
proceed to divide it. The statistics of this division are
fractional; so let us, for the sake of convenience, make them
roughly approximate. Capital takes fifty dollars as its share, and
labor gets in wages fifty dollars as its share. We will not enter
into the squabbling over the division.* No matter how much
squabbling takes place, in one percentage or another the division
is arranged. And take notice here, that what is true of this
particular industrial process is true of all industrial processes.
Am I right?"
* Everhard here clearly develops the cause of all the labor
troubles of that time. In the division of the joint-product,
capital wanted all it could get, and labor wanted all it could get.
This quarrel over the division was irreconcilable. So long as the
system of capitalistic production existed, labor and capital
continued to quarrel over the division of the joint-product. It is
a ludicrous spectacle to us, but we must not forget that we have
seven centuries' advantage over those that lived in that time.
Again the whole table agreed with Ernest.
"Now, suppose labor, having received its fifty dollars, wanted to
buy back shoes. It could only buy back fifty dollars' worth.
That's clear, isn't it?
"And now we shift from this particular process to the sum total of
all industrial processes in the United States, which includes the
leather itself, raw material, transportation, selling, everything.
We will say, for the sake of round figures, that the total
production of wealth in the United States is one year is four
billion dollars. Then labor has received in wages, during the same
period, two billion dollars. Four billion dollars has been
produced. How much of this can labor buy back? Two billions.
There is no discussion of this, I am sure. For that matter, my
percentages are mild. Because of a thousand capitalistic devices,
labor cannot buy back even half of the total product.
"But to return. We will say labor buys back two billions. Then it
stands to reason that labor can consume only two billions. There
are still two billions to be accounted for, which labor cannot buy
back and consume."
"Labor does not consume its two billions, even," Mr. Kowalt spoke
up. "If it did, it would not have any deposits in the savings
"Labor's deposits in the savings banks are only a sort of reserve
fund that is consumed as fast as it accumulates. These deposits
are saved for old age, for sickness and accident, and for funeral
expenses. The savings bank deposit is simply a piece of the loaf
put back on the shelf to be eaten next day. No, labor consumes all
of the total product that its wages will buy back.
"Two billions are left to capital. After it has paid its expenses,
does it consume the remainder? Does capital consume all of its two
Ernest stopped and put the question point blank to a number of the
men. They shook their heads.
"I don't know," one of them frankly said.
"Of course you do," Ernest went on. "Stop and think a moment. If
capital consumed its share, the sum total of capital could not
increase. It would remain constant. If you will look at the
economic history of the United States, you will see that the sum
total of capital has continually increased. Therefore capital does
not consume its share. Do you remember when England owned so much
of our railroad bonds? As the years went by, we bought back those
bonds. What does that mean? That part of capital's unconsumed
share bought back the bonds. What is the meaning of the fact that
to-day the capitalists of the United States own hundreds and
hundreds of millions of dollars of Mexican bonds, Russian bonds,
Italian bonds, Grecian bonds? The meaning is that those hundreds
and hundreds of millions were part of capital's share which capital
did not consume. Furthermore, from the very beginning of the
capitalist system, capital has never consumed all of its share.
"And now we come to the point. Four billion dollars of wealth is
produced in one year in the United States. Labor buys back and
consumes two billions. Capital does not consume the remaining two
billions. There is a large balance left over unconsumed. What is
done with this balance? What can be done with it? Labor cannot
consume any of it, for labor has already spent all its wages.
Capital will not consume this balance, because, already, according
to its nature, it has consumed all it can. And still remains the
balance. What can be done with it? What is done with it?"
"It is sold abroad," Mr. Kowalt volunteered.
"The very thing," Ernest agreed. "Because of this balance arises
our need for a foreign market. This is sold abroad. It has to be
sold abroad. There is no other way of getting rid of it. And that
unconsumed surplus, sold abroad, becomes what we call our favorable
balance of trade. Are we all agreed so far?"
"Surely it is a waste of time to elaborate these A B C's of
commerce," Mr. Calvin said tartly. "We all understand them."
"And it is by these A B C's I have so carefully elaborated that I
shall confound you," Ernest retorted. "There's the beauty of it.
And I'm going to confound you with them right now. Here goes.
"The United States is a capitalist country that has developed its
resources. According to its capitalist system of industry, it has
an unconsumed surplus that must be got rid of, and that must be got
rid of abroad.* What is true of the United States is true of every
other capitalist country with developed resources. Every one of
such countries has an unconsumed surplus. Don't forget that they
have already traded with one another, and that these surpluses yet
remain. Labor in all these countries has spent it wages, and
cannot buy any of the surpluses. Capital in all these countries
has already consumed all it is able according to its nature. And
still remain the surpluses. They cannot dispose of these surpluses
to one another. How are they going to get rid of them?"
* Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States a few years
prior to this time, made the following public declaration: "A more
liberal and extensive reciprocity in the purchase and sale of
commodities is necessary, so that the overproduction of the United
States can be satisfactorily disposed of to foreign countries." Of
course, this overproduction he mentions was the profits of the
capitalist system over and beyond the consuming power of the
capitalists. It was at this time that Senator Mark Hanna said:
"The production of wealth in the United States is one-third larger
annually than its consumption." Also a fellow-Senator, Chauncey
Depew, said: "The American people produce annually two billions
more wealth than they consume."
"Sell them to countries with undeveloped resources," Mr. Kowalt
"The very thing. You see, my argument is so clear and simple that
in your own minds you carry it on for me. And now for the next
step. Suppose the United States disposes of its surplus to a
country with undeveloped resources like, say, Brazil. Remember
this surplus is over and above trade, which articles of trade have
been consumed. What, then, does the United States get in return
"Gold," said Mr. Kowalt.
"But there is only so much gold, and not much of it, in the world,"
"Gold in the form of securities and bonds and so forth," Mr. Kowalt
"Now you've struck it," Ernest said. "From Brazil the United
States, in return for her surplus, gets bonds and securities. And
what does that mean? It means that the United States is coming to
own railroads in Brazil, factories, mines, and lands in Brazil.
And what is the meaning of that in turn?"
Mr. Kowalt pondered and shook his head.
"I'll tell you," Ernest continued. "It means that the resources of
Brazil are being developed. And now, the next point. When Brazil,
under the capitalist system, has developed her resources, she will
herself have an unconsumed surplus. Can she get rid of this
surplus to the United States? No, because the United States has
herself a surplus. Can the United States do what she previously
did--get rid of her surplus to Brazil? No, for Brazil now has a
"What happens? The United States and Brazil must both seek out
other countries with undeveloped resources, in order to unload the
surpluses on them. But by the very process of unloading the
surpluses, the resources of those countries are in turn developed.
Soon they have surpluses, and are seeking other countries on which
to unload. Now, gentlemen, follow me. The planet is only so
large. There are only so many countries in the world. What will
happen when every country in the world, down to the smallest and
last, with a surplus in its hands, stands confronting every other
country with surpluses in their hands?"
He paused and regarded his listeners. The bepuzzlement in their
faces was delicious. Also, there was awe in their faces. Out of
abstractions Ernest had conjured a vision and made them see it.
They were seeing it then, as they sat there, and they were
frightened by it.
"We started with A B C, Mr. Calvin," Ernest said slyly. "I have
now given you the rest of the alphabet. It is very simple. That
is the beauty of it. You surely have the answer forthcoming.
What, then, when every country in the world has an unconsumed
surplus? Where will your capitalist system be then?"
But Mr. Calvin shook a troubled head. He was obviously questing
back through Ernest's reasoning in search of an error.
"Let me briefly go over the ground with you again," Ernest said.
"We began with a particular industrial process, the shoe factory.
We found that the division of the joint product that took place
there was similar to the division that took place in the sum total
of all industrial processes. We found that labor could buy back
with its wages only so much of the product, and that capital did
not consume all of the remainder of the product. We found that
when labor had consumed to the full extent of its wages, and when
capital had consumed all it wanted, there was still left an
unconsumed surplus. We agreed that this surplus could only be
disposed of abroad. We agreed, also, that the effect of unloading
this surplus on another country would be to develop the resources
of that country, and that in a short time that country would have
an unconsumed surplus. We extended this process to all the
countries on the planet, till every country was producing every
year, and every day, an unconsumed surplus, which it could dispose
of to no other country. And now I ask you again, what are we going
to do with those surpluses?"
Still no one answered.
"Mr. Calvin?" Ernest queried.
"It beats me," Mr. Calvin confessed.
"I never dreamed of such a thing," Mr. Asmunsen said. "And yet it
does seem clear as print."
It was the first time I had ever heard Karl Marx's* doctrine of
surplus value elaborated, and Ernest had done it so simply that I,
too, sat puzzled and dumbfounded.
* Karl Marx--the great intellectual hero of Socialism. A German
Jew of the nineteenth century. A contemporary of John Stuart Mill.
It seems incredible to us that whole generations should have
elapsed after the enunciation of Marx's economic discoveries, in
which time he was sneered at by the world's accepted thinkers and
scholars. Because of his discoveries he was banished from his
native country, and he died an exile in England.
"I'll tell you a way to get rid of the surplus," Ernest said.
"Throw it into the sea. Throw every year hundreds of millions of
dollars' worth of shoes and wheat and clothing and all the
commodities of commerce into the sea. Won't that fix it?"
"It will certainly fix it," Mr. Calvin answered. "But it is absurd
for you to talk that way."
Ernest was upon him like a flash.
"Is it a bit more absurd than what you advocate, you machine-
breaker, returning to the antediluvian ways of your forefathers?
What do you propose in order to get rid of the surplus? You would
escape the problem of the surplus by not producing any surplus.
And how do you propose to avoid producing a surplus? By returning
to a primitive method of production, so confused and disorderly and
irrational, so wasteful and costly, that it will be impossible to
produce a surplus."
Mr. Calvin swallowed. The point had been driven home. He
swallowed again and cleared his throat.
"You are right," he said. "I stand convicted. It is absurd. But
we've got to do something. It is a case of life and death for us
of the middle class. We refuse to perish. We elect to be absurd
and to return to the truly crude and wasteful methods of our
forefathers. We will put back industry to its pre-trust stage. We
will break the machines. And what are you going to do about it?"
"But you can't break the machines," Ernest replied. "You cannot
make the tide of evolution flow backward. Opposed to you are two
great forces, each of which is more powerful than you of the middle
class. The large capitalists, the trusts, in short, will not let
you turn back. They don't want the machines destroyed. And
greater than the trusts, and more powerful, is labor. It will not
let you destroy the machines. The ownership of the world, along
with the machines, lies between the trusts and labor. That is the
battle alignment. Neither side wants the destruction of the
machines. But each side wants to possess the machines. In this
battle the middle class has no place. The middle class is a pygmy
between two giants. Don't you see, you poor perishing middle
class, you are caught between the upper and nether millstones, and
even now has the grinding begun.
"I have demonstrated to you mathematically the inevitable breakdown
of the capitalist system. When every country stands with an
unconsumed and unsalable surplus on its hands, the capitalist
system will break down under the terrific structure of profits that
it itself has reared. And in that day there won't be any
destruction of the machines. The struggle then will be for the
ownership of the machines. If labor wins, your way will be easy.
The United States, and the whole world for that matter, will enter
upon a new and tremendous era. Instead of being crushed by the
machines, life will be made fairer, and happier, and nobler by
them. You of the destroyed middle class, along with labor--there
will be nothing but labor then; so you, and all the rest of labor,
will participate in the equitable distribution of the products of
the wonderful machines. And we, all of us, will make new and more
wonderful machines. And there won't be any unconsumed surplus,
because there won't be any profits."
"But suppose the trusts win in this battle over the ownership of
the machines and the world?" Mr. Kowalt asked.
"Then," Ernest answered, "you, and labor, and all of us, will be
crushed under the iron heel of a despotism as relentless and
terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the
history of man. That will be a good name for that despotism, the
* The earliest known use of that name to designate the Oligarchy.
There was a long pause, and every man at the table meditated in
ways unwonted and profound.
"But this socialism of yours is a dream," Mr. Calvin said; and
repeated, "a dream."
"I'll show you something that isn't a dream, then," Ernest
answered. "And that something I shall call the Oligarchy. You
call it the Plutocracy. We both mean the same thing, the large
capitalists or the trusts. Let us see where the power lies today.
And in order to do so, let us apportion society into its class
"There are three big classes in society. First comes the
Plutocracy, which is composed of wealthy bankers, railway magnates,
corporation directors, and trust magnates. Second, is the middle
class, your class, gentlemen, which is composed of farmers,
merchants, small manufacturers, and professional men. And third
and last comes my class, the proletariat, which is composed of the
* This division of society made by Everhard is in accordance with
that made by Lucien Sanial, one of the statistical authorities of
that time. His calculation of the membership of these divisions by
occupation, from the United States Census of 1900, is as follows:
Plutocratic class, 250,251; Middle class, 8,429,845; and
Proletariat class, 20,393,137.
"You cannot but grant that the ownership of wealth constitutes
essential power in the United States to-day. How is this wealth
owned by these three classes? Here are the figures. The
Plutocracy owns sixty-seven billions of wealth. Of the total
number of persons engaged in occupations in the United States, only
nine-tenths of one per cent are from the Plutocracy, yet the
Plutocracy owns seventy per cent of the total wealth. The middle
class owns twenty-four billions. Twenty-nine per cent of those in
occupations are from the middle class, and they own twenty-five per
cent of the total wealth. Remains the proletariat. It owns four
billions. Of all persons in occupations, seventy per cent come
from the proletariat; and the proletariat owns four per cent of the
total wealth. Where does the power lie, gentlemen?"
"From your own figures, we of the middle class are more powerful
than labor," Mr. Asmunsen remarked.
"Calling us weak does not make you stronger in the face of the
strength of the Plutocracy," Ernest retorted. "And furthermore,
I'm not done with you. There is a greater strength than wealth,
and it is greater because it cannot be taken away. Our strength,
the strength of the proletariat, is in our muscles, in our hands to
cast ballots, in our fingers to pull triggers. This strength we
cannot be stripped of. It is the primitive strength, it is the
strength that is to life germane, it is the strength that is
stronger than wealth, and that wealth cannot take away.
"But your strength is detachable. It can be taken away from you.
Even now the Plutocracy is taking it away from you. In the end it
will take it all away from you. And then you will cease to be the
middle class. You will descend to us. You will become
proletarians. And the beauty of it is that you will then add to
our strength. We will hail you brothers, and we will fight
shoulder to shoulder in the cause of humanity.
"You see, labor has nothing concrete of which to be despoiled. Its
share of the wealth of the country consists of clothes and
household furniture, with here and there, in very rare cases, an
unencumbered home. But you have the concrete wealth, twenty-four
billions of it, and the Plutocracy will take it away from you. Of
course, there is the large likelihood that the proletariat will
take it away first. Don't you see your position, gentlemen? The
middle class is a wobbly little lamb between a lion and a tiger.
If one doesn't get you, the other will. And if the Plutocracy gets
you first, why it's only a matter of time when the Proletariat gets
"Even your present wealth is not a true measure of your power. The
strength of your wealth at this moment is only an empty shell.
That is why you are crying out your feeble little battle-cry,
"Return to the ways of our fathers." You are aware of your
impotency. You know that your strength is an empty shell. And
I'll show you the emptiness of it.
"What power have the farmers? Over fifty per cent are thralls by
virtue of the fact that they are merely tenants or are mortgaged.
And all of them are thralls by virtue of the fact that the trusts
already own or control (which is the same thing only better)--own
and control all the means of marketing the crops, such as cold
storage, railroads, elevators, and steamship lines. And,
furthermore, the trusts control the markets. In all this the
farmers are without power. As regards their political and
governmental power, I'll take that up later, along with the
political and governmental power of the whole middle class.
"Day by day the trusts squeeze out the farmers as they squeezed out
Mr. Calvin and the rest of the dairymen. And day by day are the
merchants squeezed out in the same way. Do you remember how, in
six months, the Tobacco Trust squeezed out over four hundred cigar
stores in New York City alone? Where are the old-time owners of
the coal fields? You know today, without my telling you, that the
Railroad Trust owns or controls the entire anthracite and
bituminous coal fields. Doesn't the Standard Oil Trust* own a
score of the ocean lines? And does it not also control copper, to
say nothing of running a smelter trust as a little side enterprise?
There are ten thousand cities in the United States to-night lighted
by the companies owned or controlled by Standard Oil, and in as
many cities all the electric transportation,--urban, suburban, and
interurban,--is in the hands of Standard Oil. The small
capitalists who were in these thousands of enterprises are gone.
You know that. It's the same way that you are going.
* Standard Oil and Rockefeller--see upcoming footnote: "Rockefeller
began as a member . . ."
"The small manufacturer is like the farmer; and small manufacturers
and farmers to-day are reduced, to all intents and purposes, to
feudal tenure. For that matter, the professional men and the
artists are at this present moment villeins in everything but name,
while the politicians are henchmen. Why do you, Mr. Calvin, work
all your nights and days to organize the farmers, along with the
rest of the middle class, into a new political party? Because the
politicians of the old parties will have nothing to do with your
atavistic ideas; and with your atavistic ideas, they will have
nothing to do because they are what I said they are, henchmen,
retainers of the Plutocracy.
"I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What
else are they? One and all, the professors, the preachers, and the
editors, hold their jobs by serving the Plutocracy, and their
service consists of propagating only such ideas as are either
harmless to or commendatory of the Plutocracy. Whenever they
propagate ideas that menace the Plutocracy, they lose their jobs,
in which case, if they have not provided for the rainy day, they
descend into the proletariat and either perish or become working-
class agitators. And don't forget that it is the press, the
pulpit, and the university that mould public opinion, set the
thought-pace of the nation. As for the artists, they merely pander
to the little less than ignoble tastes of the Plutocracy.
"But after all, wealth in itself is not the real power; it is the
means to power, and power is governmental. Who controls the
government to-day? The proletariat with its twenty millions
engaged in occupations? Even you laugh at the idea. Does the
middle class, with its eight million occupied members? No more
than the proletariat. Who, then, controls the government? The
Plutocracy, with its paltry quarter of a million of occupied
members. But this quarter of a million does not control the
government, though it renders yeoman service. It is the brain of
the Plutocracy that controls the government, and this brain
consists of seven* small and powerful groups of men. And do not
forget that these groups are working to-day practically in unison.
* Even as late as 1907, it was considered that eleven groups
dominated the country, but this number was reduced by the
amalgamation of the five railroad groups into a supreme combination
of all the railroads. These five groups so amalgamated, along with
their financial and political allies, were (1) James J. Hill with
his control of the Northwest; (2) the Pennsylvania railway group,
Schiff financial manager, with big banking firms of Philadelphia
and New York; (3) Harriman, with Frick for counsel and Odell as
political lieutenant, controlling the central continental,
Southwestern and Southern Pacific Coast lines of transportation;
(4) the Gould family railway interests; and (5) Moore, Reid, and
Leeds, known as the "Rock Island crowd." These strong oligarchs
arose out of the conflict of competition and travelled the
inevitable road toward combination.
"Let me point out the power of but one of them, the railroad group.
It employs forty thousand lawyers to defeat the people in the
courts. It issues countless thousands of free passes to judges,
bankers, editors, ministers, university men, members of state
legislatures, and of Congress. It maintains luxurious lobbies* at
every state capital, and at the national capital; and in all the
cities and towns of the land it employs an immense army of
pettifoggers and small politicians whose business is to attend
primaries, pack conventions, get on juries, bribe judges, and in
every way to work for its interests.**
* Lobby--a peculiar institution for bribing, bulldozing, and
corrupting the legislators who were supposed to represent the
** A decade before this speech of Everhard's, the New York Board of
Trade issued a report from which the following is quoted: "The
railroads control absolutely the legislatures of a majority of the
states of the Union; they make and unmake United States Senators,
congressmen, and governors, and are practically dictators of the
governmental policy of the United States."
"Gentlemen, I have merely sketched the power of one of the seven
groups that constitute the brain of the Plutocracy.* Your twenty-
four billions of wealth does not give you twenty-five cents' worth
of governmental power. It is an empty shell, and soon even the
empty shell will be taken away from you. The Plutocracy has all
power in its hands to-day. It to-day makes the laws, for it owns
the Senate, Congress, the courts, and the state legislatures. And
not only that. Behind law must be force to execute the law. To-
day the Plutocracy makes the law, and to enforce the law it has at
its beck and call the, police, the army, the navy, and, lastly, the
militia, which is you, and me, and all of us."
* Rockefeller began as a member of the proletariat, and through
thrift and cunning succeeded in developing the first perfect trust,
namely that known as Standard Oil. We cannot forbear giving the
following remarkable page from the history of the times, to show
how the need for reinvestment of the Standard Oil surplus crushed
out small capitalists and hastened the breakdown of the capitalist
system. David Graham Phillips was a radical writer of the period,
and the quotation, by him, is taken from a copy of the Saturday
Evening Post, dated October 4, 1902 A.D. This is the only copy of
this publication that has come down to us, and yet, from its
appearance and content, we cannot but conclude that it was one of
the popular periodicals with a large circulation. The quotation
"About ten years ago Rockefeller's income was given as thirty
millions by an excellent authority. He had reached the limit of
profitable investment of profits in the oil industry. Here, then,
were these enormous sums in cash pouring in--more than $2,000,000 a
month for John Davison Rockefeller alone. The problem of
reinvestment became more serious. It became a nightmare. The oil
income was swelling, swelling, and the number of sound investments
limited, even more limited than it is now. It was through no
special eagerness for more gains that the Rockefellers began to
branch out from oil into other things. They were forced, swept on
by this inrolling tide of wealth which their monopoly magnet
irresistibly attracted. They developed a staff of investment
seekers and investigators. It is said that the chief of this staff
has a salary of $125,000 a year.
"The first conspicuous excursion and incursion of the Rockefellers
was into the railway field. By 1895 they controlled one-fifth of
the railway mileage of the country. What do they own or, through
dominant ownership, control to-day? They are powerful in all the
great railways of New York, north, east, and west, except one,
where their share is only a few millions. They are in most of the
great railways radiating from Chicago. They dominate in several of
the systems that extend to the Pacific. It is their votes that
make Mr. Morgan so potent, though, it may be added, they need his
brains more than he needs their votes--at present, and the
combination of the two constitutes in large measure the 'community
"But railways could not alone absorb rapidly enough those mighty
floods of gold. Presently John D. Rockefeller's $2,500,000 a
month had increased to four, to five, to six millions a month, to
$75,000,000 a year. Illuminating oil was becoming all profit. The
reinvestments of income were adding their mite of many annual
"The Rockefellers went into gas and electricity when those
industries had developed to the safe investment stage. And now a
large part of the American people must begin to enrich the
Rockefellers as soon as the sun goes down, no matter what form of
illuminant they use. They went into farm mortgages. It is said
that when prosperity a few years ago enabled the farmers to rid
themselves of their mortgages, John D. Rockefeller was moved
almost to tears; eight millions which he had thought taken care of
for years to come at a good interest were suddenly dumped upon his
doorstep and there set up a-squawking for a new home. This
unexpected addition to his worriments in finding places for the
progeny of his petroleum and their progeny and their progeny's
progeny was too much for the equanimity of a man without a
digestion. . . .
"The Rockefellers went into mines--iron and coal and copper and
lead; into other industrial companies; into street railways, into
national, state, and municipal bonds; into steamships and
steamboats and telegraphy; into real estate, into skyscrapers and
residences and hotels and business blocks; into life insurance,
into banking. There was soon literally no field of industry where
their millions were not at work. . . .
"The Rockefeller bank--the National City Bank--is by itself far and
away the biggest bank in the United States. It is exceeded in the
world only by the Bank of England and the Bank of France. The
deposits average more than one hundred millions a day; and it
dominates the call loan market on Wall Street and the stock market.
But it is not alone; it is the head of the Rockefeller chain of
banks, which includes fourteen banks and trust companies in New
York City, and banks of great strength and influence in every large
money center in the country.
"John D. Rockefeller owns Standard Oil stock worth between four
and five hundred millions at the market quotations. He has a
hundred millions in the steel trust, almost as much in a single
western railway system, half as much in a second, and so on and on
and on until the mind wearies of the cataloguing. His income last
year was about $100,000,000--it is doubtful if the incomes of all
the Rothschilds together make a greater sum. And it is going up by
leaps and bounds."
Little discussion took place after this, and the dinner soon broke
up. All were quiet and subdued, and leave-taking was done with low
voices. It seemed almost that they were scared by the vision of
the times they had seen.
"The situation is, indeed, serious," Mr. Calvin said to Ernest. "I
have little quarrel with the way you have depicted it. Only I
disagree with you about the doom of the middle class. We shall
survive, and we shall overthrow the trusts."
"And return to the ways of your fathers," Ernest finished for him.
"Even so," Mr. Calvin answered gravely. "I know it's a sort of
machine-breaking, and that it is absurd. But then life seems
absurd to-day, what of the machinations of the Plutocracy. And at
any rate, our sort of machine-breaking is at least practical and
possible, which your dream is not. Your socialistic dream is . . .
well, a dream. We cannot follow you."
"I only wish you fellows knew a little something about evolution
and sociology," Ernest said wistfully, as they shook hands. "We
would be saved so much trouble if you did."
Following like thunder claps upon the Business Men's dinner,
occurred event after event of terrifying moment; and I, little I,
who had lived so placidly all my days in the quiet university town,
found myself and my personal affairs drawn into the vortex of the
great world-affairs. Whether it was my love for Ernest, or the
clear sight he had given me of the society in which I lived, that
made me a revolutionist, I know not; but a revolutionist I became,
and I was plunged into a whirl of happenings that would have been
inconceivable three short months before.
The crisis in my own fortunes came simultaneously with great crises
in society. First of all, father was discharged from the
university. Oh, he was not technically discharged. His
resignation was demanded, that was all. This, in itself, did not
amount to much. Father, in fact, was delighted. He was especially
delighted because his discharge had been precipitated by the
publication of his book, "Economics and Education." It clinched
his argument, he contended. What better evidence could be advanced
to prove that education was dominated by the capitalist class?
But this proof never got anywhere. Nobody knew he had been forced
to resign from the university. He was so eminent a scientist that
such an announcement, coupled with the reason for his enforced
resignation, would have created somewhat of a furor all over the
world. The newspapers showered him with praise and honor, and
commended him for having given up the drudgery of the lecture room
in order to devote his whole time to scientific research.
At first father laughed. Then he became angry--tonic angry. Then
came the suppression of his book. This suppression was performed
secretly, so secretly that at first we could not comprehend. The
publication of the book had immediately caused a bit of excitement
in the country. Father had been politely abused in the capitalist
press, the tone of the abuse being to the effect that it was a pity
so great a scientist should leave his field and invade the realm of
sociology, about which he knew nothing and wherein he had promptly
become lost. This lasted for a week, while father chuckled and
said the book had touched a sore spot on capitalism. And then,
abruptly, the newspapers and the critical magazines ceased saying
anything about the book at all. Also, and with equal suddenness,
the book disappeared from the market. Not a copy was obtainable
from any bookseller. Father wrote to the publishers and was
informed that the plates had been accidentally injured. An
unsatisfactory correspondence followed. Driven finally to an
unequivocal stand, the publishers stated that they could not see
their way to putting the book into type again, but that they were
willing to relinquish their rights in it.
"And you won't find another publishing house in the country to
touch it," Ernest said. "And if I were you, I'd hunt cover right
now. You've merely got a foretaste of the Iron Heel."
But father was nothing if not a scientist. He never believed in
jumping to conclusions. A laboratory experiment was no experiment
if it were not carried through in all its details. So he patiently
went the round of the publishing houses. They gave a multitude of
excuses, but not one house would consider the book.
When father became convinced that the book had actually been
suppressed, he tried to get the fact into the newspapers; but his
communications were ignored. At a political meeting of the
socialists, where many reporters were present, father saw his
chance. He arose and related the history of the suppression of the
book. He laughed next day when he read the newspapers, and then he
grew angry to a degree that eliminated all tonic qualities. The
papers made no mention of the book, but they misreported him
beautifully. They twisted his words and phrases away from the
context, and turned his subdued and controlled remarks into a
howling anarchistic speech. It was done artfully. One instance,
in particular, I remember. He had used the phrase "social
revolution." The reporter merely dropped out "social." This was
sent out all over the country in an Associated Press despatch, and
from all over the country arose a cry of alarm. Father was branded
as a nihilist and an anarchist, and in one cartoon that was copied
widely he was portrayed waving a red flag at the head of a mob of
long-haired, wild-eyed men who bore in their hands torches, knives,
and dynamite bombs.
He was assailed terribly in the press, in long and abusive
editorials, for his anarchy, and hints were made of mental
breakdown on his part. This behavior, on the part of the
capitalist press, was nothing new, Ernest told us. It was the
custom, he said, to send reporters to all the socialist meetings
for the express purpose of misreporting and distorting what was
said, in order to frighten the middle class away from any possible
affiliation with the proletariat. And repeatedly Ernest warned
father to cease fighting and to take to cover.
The socialist press of the country took up the fight, however, and
throughout the reading portion of the working class it was known
that the book had been suppressed. But this knowledge stopped with
the working class. Next, the "Appeal to Reason," a big socialist
publishing house, arranged with father to bring out the book.
Father was jubilant, but Ernest was alarmed.
"I tell you we are on the verge of the unknown," he insisted. "Big
things are happening secretly all around us. We can feel them. We
do not know what they are, but they are there. The whole fabric of
society is a-tremble with them. Don't ask me. I don't know
myself. But out of this flux of society something is about to
crystallize. It is crystallizing now. The suppression of the book
is a precipitation. How many books have been suppressed? We
haven't the least idea. We are in the dark. We have no way of
learning. Watch out next for the suppression of the socialist
press and socialist publishing houses. I'm afraid it's coming. We
are going to be throttled."
Ernest had his hand on the pulse of events even more closely than
the rest of the socialists, and within two days the first blow was
struck. The Appeal to Reason was a weekly, and its regular
circulation amongst the proletariat was seven hundred and fifty
thousand. Also, it very frequently got out special editions of
from two to five millions. These great editions were paid for and
distributed by the small army of voluntary workers who had
marshalled around the Appeal. The first blow was aimed at these
special editions, and it was a crushing one. By an arbitrary
ruling of the Post Office, these editions were decided to be not
the regular circulation of the paper, and for that reason were
denied admission to the mails.
A week later the Post Office Department ruled that the paper was
seditious, and barred it entirely from the mails. This was a
fearful blow to the socialist propaganda. The Appeal was
desperate. It devised a plan of reaching its subscribers through
the express companies, but they declined to handle it. This was
the end of the Appeal. But not quite. It prepared to go on with
its book publishing. Twenty thousand copies of father's book were
in the bindery, and the presses were turning off more. And then,
without warning, a mob arose one night, and, under a waving
American flag, singing patriotic songs, set fire to the great plant
of the Appeal and totally destroyed it.
Now Girard, Kansas, was a quiet, peaceable town. There had never
been any labor troubles there. The Appeal paid union wages; and,
in fact, was the backbone of the town, giving employment to
hundreds of men and women. It was not the citizens of Girard that
composed the mob. This mob had risen up out of the earth
apparently, and to all intents and purposes, its work done, it had
gone back into the earth. Ernest saw in the affair the most
"The Black Hundreds* are being organized in the United States," he
said. "This is the beginning. There will be more of it. The Iron
Heel is getting bold."
* The Black Hundreds were reactionary mobs organized by the
perishing Autocracy in the Russian Revolution. These reactionary
groups attacked the revolutionary groups, and also, at needed
moments, rioted and destroyed property so as to afford the
Autocracy the pretext of calling out the Cossacks.
And so perished father's book. We were to see much of the Black
Hundreds as the days went by. Week by week more of the socialist
papers were barred from the mails, and in a number of instances the
Black Hundreds destroyed the socialist presses. Of course, the
newspapers of the land lived up to the reactionary policy of the
ruling class, and the destroyed socialist press was misrepresented
and vilified, while the Black Hundreds were represented as true
patriots and saviours of society. So convincing was all this
misrepresentation that even sincere ministers in the pulpit praised
the Black Hundreds while regretting the necessity of violence.
History was making fast. The fall elections were soon to occur,
and Ernest was nominated by the socialist party to run for
Congress. His chance for election was most favorable. The street-
car strike in San Francisco had been broken. And following upon it
the teamsters' strike had been broken. These two defeats had been
very disastrous to organized labor. The whole Water Front
Federation, along with its allies in the structural trades, had
backed up the teamsters, and all had smashed down ingloriously. It
had been a bloody strike. The police had broken countless heads
with their riot clubs; and the death list had been augmented by the
turning loose of a machine-gun on the strikers from the barns of
the Marsden Special Delivery Company.
In consequence, the men were sullen and vindictive. They wanted
blood, and revenge. Beaten on their chosen field, they were ripe
to seek revenge by means of political action. They still
maintained their labor organization, and this gave them strength in
the political struggle that was on. Ernest's chance for election
grew stronger and stronger. Day by day unions and more unions
voted their support to the socialists, until even Ernest laughed
when the Undertakers' Assistants and the Chicken Pickers fell into
line. Labor became mulish. While it packed the socialist meetings
with mad enthusiasm, it was impervious to the wiles of the old-
party politicians. The old-party orators were usually greeted with
empty halls, though occasionally they encountered full halls where
they were so roughly handled that more than once it was necessary
to call out the police reserves.
History was making fast. The air was vibrant with things happening
and impending. The country was on the verge of hard times,* caused
by a series of prosperous years wherein the difficulty of disposing
abroad of the unconsumed surplus had become increasingly difficult.
Industries were working short time; many great factories were
standing idle against the time when the surplus should be gone; and
wages were being cut right and left.
* Under the capitalist regime these periods of hard times were as
inevitable as they were absurd. Prosperity always brought
calamity. This, of course, was due to the excess of unconsumed
profits that was piled up.
Also, the great machinist strike had been broken. Two hundred
thousand machinists, along with their five hundred thousand allies
in the metalworking trades, had been defeated in as bloody a strike
as had ever marred the United States. Pitched battles had been
fought with the small armies of armed strike-breakers* put in the
field by the employers' associations; the Black Hundreds, appearing
in scores of wide-scattered places, had destroyed property; and, in
consequence, a hundred thousand regular soldiers of the United
States has been called out to put a frightful end to the whole
affair. A number of the labor leaders had been executed; many
others had been sentenced to prison, while thousands of the rank
and file of the strikers had been herded into bull-pens** and
abominably treated by the soldiers.
* Strike-breakers--these were, in purpose and practice and
everything except name, the private soldiers of the capitalists.
They were thoroughly organized and well armed, and they were held
in readiness to be hurled in special trains to any part of the
country where labor went on strike or was locked out by the
employers. Only those curious times could have given rise to the
amazing spectacle of one, Farley, a notorious commander of strike-
breakers, who, in 1906, swept across the United States in special
trains from New York to San Francisco with an army of twenty-five
hundred men, fully armed and equipped, to break a strike of the San
Francisco street-car men. Such an act was in direct violation of
the laws of the land. The fact that this act, and thousands of
similar acts, went unpunished, goes to show how completely the
judiciary was the creature of the Plutocracy.
** Bull-pen--in a miners' strike in Idaho, in the latter part of
the nineteenth century, it happened that many of the strikers were
confined in a bull-pen by the troops. The practice and the name
continued in the twentieth century.
The years of prosperity were now to be paid for. All markets were
glutted; all markets were falling; and amidst the general crumble
of prices the price of labor crumbled fastest of all. The land was
convulsed with industrial dissensions. Labor was striking here,
there, and everywhere; and where it was not striking, it was being
turned out by the capitalists. The papers were filled with tales
of violence and blood. And through it all the Black Hundreds
played their part. Riot, arson, and wanton destruction of property
was their function, and well they performed it. The whole regular
army was in the field, called there by the actions of the Black
Hundreds.* All cities and towns were like armed camps, and
laborers were shot down like dogs. Out of the vast army of the
unemployed the strike-breakers were recruited; and when the strike-
breakers were worsted by the labor unions, the troops always
appeared and crushed the unions. Then there was the militia. As
yet, it was not necessary to have recourse to the secret militia
law. Only the regularly organized militia was out, and it was out
everywhere. And in this time of terror, the regular army was
increased an additional hundred thousand by the government.
* The name only, and not the idea, was imported from Russia. The
Black Hundreds were a development out of the secret agents of the
capitalists, and their use arose in the labor struggles of the
nineteenth century. There is no discussion of this. No less an
authority of the times than Carroll D. Wright, United States
Commissioner of Labor, is responsible for the statement. From his
book, entitled "The Battles of Labor," is quoted the declaration
that "in some of the great historic strikes the employers
themselves have instigated acts of violence;" that manufacturers
have deliberately provoked strikes in order to get rid of surplus
stock; and that freight cars have been burned by employers' agents
during railroad strikes in order to increase disorder. It was out
of these secret agents of the employers that the Black Hundreds
arose; and it was they, in turn, that later became that terrible
weapon of the Oligarchy, the agents-provocateurs.
Never had labor received such an all-around beating. The great
captains of industry, the oligarchs, had for the first time thrown
their full weight into the breach the struggling employers'
associations had made. These associations were practically middle-
class affairs, and now, compelled by hard times and crashing
markets, and aided by the great captains of industry, they gave
organized labor an awful and decisive defeat. It was an all-
powerful alliance, but it was an alliance of the lion and the lamb,
as the middle class was soon to learn.
Labor was bloody and sullen, but crushed. Yet its defeat did not
put an end to the hard times. The banks, themselves constituting
one of the most important forces of the Oligarchy, continued to
call in credits. The Wall Street* group turned the stock market
into a maelstrom where the values of all the land crumbled away
almost to nothingness. And out of all the rack and ruin rose the
form of the nascent Oligarchy, imperturbable, indifferent, and
sure. Its serenity and certitude was terrifying. Not only did it
use its own vast power, but it used all the power of the United
States Treasury to carry out its plans.
* Wall Street--so named from a street in ancient New York, where
was situated the stock exchange, and where the irrational
organization of society permitted underhanded manipulation of all
the industries of the country.
The captains of industry had turned upon the middle class. The
employers' associations, that had helped the captains of industry
to tear and rend labor, were now torn and rent by their quondam
allies. Amidst the crashing of the middle men, the small business
men and manufacturers, the trusts stood firm. Nay, the trusts did
more than stand firm. They were active. They sowed wind, and
wind, and ever more wind; for they alone knew how to reap the
whirlwind and make a profit out of it. And such profits! Colossal
profits! Strong enough themselves to weather the storm that was
largely their own brewing, they turned loose and plundered the
wrecks that floated about them. Values were pitifully and
inconceivably shrunken, and the trusts added hugely to their
holdings, even extending their enterprises into many new fields--
and always at the expense of the middle class.
Thus the summer of 1912 witnessed the virtual death-thrust to the
middle class. Even Ernest was astounded at the quickness with
which it had been done. He shook his head ominously and looked
forward without hope to the fall elections.
"It's no use," he said. "We are beaten. The Iron Heel is here.
I had hoped for a peaceable victory at the ballot-box. I was wrong.
Wickson was right. We shall be robbed of our few remaining
liberties; the Iron Heel will walk upon our faces; nothing remains
but a bloody revolution of the working class. Of course we will
win, but I shudder to think of it."
And from then on Ernest pinned his faith in revolution. In this he
was in advance of his party. His fellow-socialists could not agree
with him. They still insisted that victory could be gained through
the elections. It was not that they were stunned. They were too
cool-headed and courageous for that. They were merely incredulous,
that was all. Ernest could not get them seriously to fear the
coming of the Oligarchy. They were stirred by him, but they were
too sure of their own strength. There was no room in their
theoretical social evolution for an oligarchy, therefore the
Oligarchy could not be.
"We'll send you to Congress and it will be all right," they told
him at one of our secret meetings.
"And when they take me out of Congress," Ernest replied coldly,
"and put me against a wall, and blow my brains out--what then?"
"Then we'll rise in our might," a dozen voices answered at once.
"Then you'll welter in your gore," was his retort. "I've heard
that song sung by the middle class, and where is it now in its
THE GREAT ADVENTURE
Mr. Wickson did not send for father. They met by chance on the
ferry-boat to San Francisco, so that the warning he gave father was
not premeditated. Had they not met accidentally, there would not
have been any warning. Not that the outcome would have been
different, however. Father came of stout old Mayflower* stock, and
the blood was imperative in him.
* One of the first ships that carried colonies to America, after
the discovery of the New World. Descendants of these original
colonists were for a while inordinately proud of their genealogy;
but in time the blood became so widely diffused that it ran in the
veins practically of all Americans.
"Ernest was right," he told me, as soon as he had returned home.
"Ernest is a very remarkable young man, and I'd rather see you his
wife than the wife of Rockefeller himself or the King of England."
"What's the matter?" I asked in alarm.
"The Oligarchy is about to tread upon our faces--yours and mine.
Wickson as much as told me so. He was very kind--for an oligarch.
He offered to reinstate me in the university. What do you think of
that? He, Wickson, a sordid money-grabber, has the power to
determine whether I shall or shall not teach in the university of
the state. But he offered me even better than that--offered to
make me president of some great college of physical sciences that
is being planned--the Oligarchy must get rid of its surplus
somehow, you see.
"'Do you remember what I told that socialist lover of your
daughter's?' he said. 'I told him that we would walk upon the
faces of the working class. And so we shall. As for you, I have
for you a deep respect as a scientist; but if you throw your
fortunes in with the working class--well, watch out for your face,
that is all.' And then he turned and left me."
"It means we'll have to marry earlier than you planned," was
Ernest's comment when we told him.
I could not follow his reasoning, but I was soon to learn it. It
was at this time that the quarterly dividend of the Sierra Mills
was paid--or, rather, should have been paid, for father did not
receive his. After waiting several days, father wrote to the
secretary. Promptly came the reply that there was no record on the
books of father's owning any stock, and a polite request for more
"I'll make it explicit enough, confound him," father declared, and
departed for the bank to get the stock in question from his safe-
"Ernest is a very remarkable man," he said when he got back and
while I was helping him off with his overcoat. "I repeat, my
daughter, that young man of yours is a very remarkable young man."
I had learned, whenever he praised Ernest in such fashion, to
"They have already walked upon my face," father explained. "There
was no stock. The box was empty. You and Ernest will have to get
married pretty quickly."
Father insisted on laboratory methods. He brought the Sierra Mills
into court, but he could not bring the books of the Sierra Mills
into court. He did not control the courts, and the Sierra Mills
did. That explained it all. He was thoroughly beaten by the law,
and the bare-faced robbery held good.
It is almost laughable now, when I look back on it, the way father
was beaten. He met Wickson accidentally on the street in San
Francisco, and he told Wickson that he was a damned scoundrel. And
then father was arrested for attempted assault, fined in the police
court, and bound over to keep the peace. It was all so ridiculous
that when he got home he had to laugh himself. But what a furor
was raised in the local papers! There was grave talk about the
bacillus of violence that infected all men who embraced socialism;
and father, with his long and peaceful life, was instanced as a
shining example of how the bacillus of violence worked. Also, it
was asserted by more than one paper that father's mind had weakened
under the strain of scientific study, and confinement in a state
asylum for the insane was suggested. Nor was this merely talk. It
was an imminent peril. But father was wise enough to see it. He
had the Bishop's experience to lesson from, and he lessoned well.
He kept quiet no matter what injustice was perpetrated on him, and
really, I think, surprised his enemies.
There was the matter of the house--our home. A mortgage was
foreclosed on it, and we had to give up possession. Of course
there wasn't any mortgage, and never had been any mortgage. The
ground had been bought outright, and the house had been paid for
when it was built. And house and lot had always been free and
unencumbered. Nevertheless there was the mortgage, properly and
legally drawn up and signed, with a record of the payments of
interest through a number of years. Father made no outcry. As he
had been robbed of his money, so was he now robbed of his home.
And he had no recourse. The machinery of society was in the hands
of those who were bent on breaking him. He was a philosopher at
heart, and he was no longer even angry.
"I am doomed to be broken," he said to me; "but that is no reason
that I should not try to be shattered as little as possible. These
old bones of mine are fragile, and I've learned my lesson. God
knows I don't want to spend my last days in an insane asylum."
Which reminds me of Bishop Morehouse, whom I have neglected for
many pages. But first let me tell of my marriage. In the play of
events, my marriage sinks into insignificance, I know, so I shall
barely mention it.
"Now we shall become real proletarians," father said, when we were
driven from our home. "I have often envied that young man of yours
for his actual knowledge of the proletariat. Now I shall see and
learn for myself."
Father must have had strong in him the blood of adventure. He
looked upon our catastrophe in the light of an adventure. No anger
nor bitterness possessed him. He was too philosophic and simple to
be vindictive, and he lived too much in the world of mind to miss
the creature comforts we were giving up. So it was, when we moved
to San Francisco into four wretched rooms in the slum south of
Market Street, that he embarked upon the adventure with the joy and
enthusiasm of a child--combined with the clear sight and mental
grasp of an extraordinary intellect. He really never crystallized
mentally. He had no false sense of values. Conventional or
habitual values meant nothing to him. The only values he
recognized were mathematical and scientific facts. My father was a
great man. He had the mind and the soul that only great men have.
In ways he was even greater than Ernest, than whom I have known
Even I found some relief in our change of living. If nothing else,
I was escaping from the organized ostracism that had been our
increasing portion in the university town ever since the enmity of
the nascent Oligarchy had been incurred. And the change was to me
likewise adventure, and the greatest of all, for it was love-
adventure. The change in our fortunes had hastened my marriage,
and it was as a wife that I came to live in the four rooms on Pell
Street, in the San Francisco slum.
And this out of all remains: I made Ernest happy. I came into his
stormy life, not as a new perturbing force, but as one that made
toward peace and repose. I gave him rest. It was the guerdon of
my love for him. It was the one infallible token that I had not
failed. To bring forgetfulness, or the light of gladness, into
those poor tired eyes of his--what greater joy could have blessed
me than that?
Those dear tired eyes. He toiled as few men ever toiled, and all
his lifetime he toiled for others. That was the measure of his
manhood. He was a humanist and a lover. And he, with his
incarnate spirit of battle, his gladiator body and his eagle
spirit--he was as gentle and tender to me as a poet. He was a
poet. A singer in deeds. And all his life he sang the song of
man. And he did it out of sheer love of man, and for man he gave
his life and was crucified.
And all this he did with no hope of future reward. In his
conception of things there was no future life. He, who fairly
burnt with immortality, denied himself immortality--such was the
paradox of him. He, so warm in spirit, was dominated by that cold
and forbidding philosophy, materialistic monism. I used to refute
him by telling him that I measured his immortality by the wings of
his soul, and that I should have to live endless aeons in order to
achieve the full measurement. Whereat he would laugh, and his arms
would leap out to me, and he would call me his sweet metaphysician;
and the tiredness would pass out of his eyes, and into them would
flood the happy love-light that was in itself a new and sufficient
advertisement of his immortality.
Also, he used to call me his dualist, and he would explain how
Kant, by means of pure reason, had abolished reason, in order to
worship God. And he drew the parallel and included me guilty of a
similar act. And when I pleaded guilty, but defended the act as
highly rational, he but pressed me closer and laughed as only one
of God's own lovers could laugh. I was wont to deny that heredity
and environment could explain his own originality and genius, any
more than could the cold groping finger of science catch and
analyze and classify that elusive essence that lurked in the
constitution of life itself.
I held that space was an apparition of God, and that soul was a
projection of the character of God; and when he called me his sweet
metaphysician, I called him my immortal materialist. And so we
loved and were happy; and I forgave him his materialism because of
his tremendous work in the world, performed without thought of
soul-gain thereby, and because of his so exceeding modesty of
spirit that prevented him from having pride and regal consciousness
of himself and his soul.
But he had pride. How could he have been an eagle and not have
pride? His contention was that it was finer for a finite mortal
speck of life to feel Godlike, than for a god to feel godlike; and
so it was that he exalted what he deemed his mortality. He was
fond of quoting a fragment from a certain poem. He had never seen
the whole poem, and he had tried vainly to learn its authorship. I
here give the fragment, not alone because he loved it, but because
it epitomized the paradox that he was in the spirit of him, and his
conception of his spirit. For how can a man, with thrilling, and
burning, and exaltation, recite the following and still be mere
mortal earth, a bit of fugitive force, an evanescent form? Here it
"Joy upon joy and gain upon gain
Are the destined rights of my birth,
And I shout the praise of my endless days
To the echoing edge of the earth.
Though I suffer all deaths that a man can die
To the uttermost end of time,
I have deep-drained this, my cup of bliss,
In every age and clime--
"The froth of Pride, the tang of Power,
The sweet of Womanhood!
I drain the lees upon my knees,
For oh, the draught is good;
I drink to Life, I drink to Death,
And smack my lips with song,
For when I die, another 'I' shall pass the cup along.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dearest woes,
From the first faint cry of the newborn
To the rack of the woman's throes.
"Packed with the pulse of an unborn race,
Torn with a world's desire,
The surging flood of my wild young blood
Would quench the judgment fire.
I am Man, Man, Man, from the tingling flesh
To the dust of my earthly goal,
From the nestling gloom of the pregnant womb
To the sheen of my naked soul.
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
The whole world leaps to my will,
And the unslaked thirst of an Eden cursed
Shall harrow the earth for its fill.
Almighty God, when I drain life's glass
Of all its rainbow gleams,
The hapless plight of eternal night
Shall be none too long for my dreams.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dear delight,
From the brightest gleam of the Arctic stream
To the dusk of my own love-night."
Ernest always overworked. His wonderful constitution kept him up;
but even that constitution could not keep the tired look out of his
eyes. His dear, tired eyes! He never slept more than four and
one-half hours a night; yet he never found time to do all the work
he wanted to do. He never ceased from his activities as a
propagandist, and was always scheduled long in advance for lectures
to workingmen's organizations. Then there was the campaign. He
did a man's full work in that alone. With the suppression of the
socialist publishing houses, his meagre royalties ceased, and he
was hard-put to make a living; for he had to make a living in
addition to all his other labor. He did a great deal of
translating for the magazines on scientific and philosophic
subjects; and, coming home late at night, worn out from the strain
of the campaign, he would plunge into his translating and toil on
well into the morning hours. And in addition to everything, there
was his studying. To the day of his death he kept up his studies,
and he studied prodigiously.
And yet he found time in which to love me and make me happy. But
this was accomplished only through my merging my life completely
into his. I learned shorthand and typewriting, and became his
secretary. He insisted that I succeeded in cutting his work in
half; and so it was that I schooled myself to understand his work.
Our interests became mutual, and we worked together and played
And then there were our sweet stolen moments in the midst of our
work--just a word, or caress, or flash of love-light; and our
moments were sweeter for being stolen. For we lived on the
heights, where the air was keen and sparkling, where the toil was
for humanity, and where sordidness and selfishness never entered.
We loved love, and our love was never smirched by anything less
than the best. And this out of all remains: I did not fail. I
gave him rest--he who worked so hard for others, my dear, tired-
It was after my marriage that I chanced upon Bishop Morehouse. But
I must give the events in their proper sequence. After his
outbreak at the I. P. H. Convention, the Bishop, being a gentle
soul, had yielded to the friendly pressure brought to bear upon
him, and had gone away on a vacation. But he returned more fixed
than ever in his determination to preach the message of the Church.
To the consternation of his congregation, his first sermon was
quite similar to the address he had given before the Convention.
Again he said, and at length and with distressing detail, that the
Church had wandered away from the Master's teaching, and that
Mammon had been instated in the place of Christ.
And the result was, willy-nilly, that he was led away to a private
sanitarium for mental disease, while in the newspapers appeared
pathetic accounts of his mental breakdown and of the saintliness of
his character. He was held a prisoner in the sanitarium. I called
repeatedly, but was denied access to him; and I was terribly
impressed by the tragedy of a sane, normal, saintly man being
crushed by the brutal will of society. For the Bishop was sane,
and pure, and noble. As Ernest said, all that was the matter with
him was that he had incorrect notions of biology and sociology, and
because of his incorrect notions he had not gone about it in the
right way to rectify matters.
What terrified me was the Bishop's helplessness. If he persisted
in the truth as he saw it, he was doomed to an insane ward. And he
could do nothing. His money, his position, his culture, could not
save him. His views were perilous to society, and society could
not conceive that such perilous views could be the product of a
sane mind. Or, at least, it seems to me that such was society's
But the Bishop, in spite of the gentleness and purity of his
spirit, was possessed of guile. He apprehended clearly his danger.
He saw himself caught in the web, and he tried to escape from it.
Denied help from his friends, such as father and Ernest and I could
have given, he was left to battle for himself alone. And in the
enforced solitude of the sanitarium he recovered. He became again
sane. His eyes ceased to see visions; his brain was purged of the
fancy that it was the duty of society to feed the Master's lambs.
As I say, he became well, quite well, and the newspapers and the
church people hailed his return with joy. I went once to his
church. The sermon was of the same order as the ones he had
preached long before his eyes had seen visions. I was
disappointed, shocked. Had society then beaten him into
submission? Was he a coward? Had he been bulldozed into
recanting? Or had the strain been too great for him, and had he
meekly surrendered to the juggernaut of the established?
I called upon him in his beautiful home. He was woefully changed.
He was thinner, and there were lines on his face which I had never
seen before. He was manifestly distressed by my coming. He
plucked nervously at his sleeve as we talked; and his eyes were
restless, fluttering here, there, and everywhere, and refusing to
meet mine. His mind seemed preoccupied, and there were strange
pauses in his conversation, abrupt changes of topic, and an
inconsecutiveness that was bewildering. Could this, then, be the
firm-poised, Christ-like man I had known, with pure, limpid eyes
and a gaze steady and unfaltering as his soul? He had been man-
handled; he had been cowed into subjection. His spirit was too
gentle. It had not been mighty enough to face the organized wolf-
pack of society.
I felt sad, unutterably sad. He talked ambiguously, and was so
apprehensive of what I might say that I had not the heart to
catechise him. He spoke in a far-away manner of his illness, and
we talked disjointedly about the church, the alterations in the
organ, and about petty charities; and he saw me depart with such
evident relief that I should have laughed had not my heart been so
full of tears.
The poor little hero! If I had only known! He was battling like a
giant, and I did not guess it. Alone, all alone, in the midst of
millions of his fellow-men, he was fighting his fight. Torn by his
horror of the asylum and his fidelity to truth and the right, he
clung steadfastly to truth and the right; but so alone was he that
he did not dare to trust even me. He had learned his lesson well--
But I was soon to know. One day the Bishop disappeared. He had
told nobody that he was going away; and as the days went by and he
did not reappear, there was much gossip to the effect that he had
committed suicide while temporarily deranged. But this idea was
dispelled when it was learned that he had sold all his
possessions,--his city mansion, his country house at Menlo Park,
his paintings, and collections, and even his cherished library. It
was patent that he had made a clean and secret sweep of everything
before he disappeared.
This happened during the time when calamity had overtaken us in our
own affairs; and it was not till we were well settled in our new
home that we had opportunity really to wonder and speculate about
the Bishop's doings. And then, everything was suddenly made clear.
Early one evening, while it was yet twilight, I had run across the
street and into the butcher-shop to get some chops for Ernest's
supper. We called the last meal of the day "supper" in our new
Just at the moment I came out of the butcher-shop, a man emerged
from the corner grocery that stood alongside. A queer sense
familiarity made me look again. But the man had turned and was
walking rapidly away. There was something about the slope of the
shoulders and the fringe of silver hair between coat collar and
slouch hat that aroused vague memories. Instead of crossing the
street, I hurried after the man. I quickened my pace, trying not
to think the thoughts that formed unbidden in my brain. No, it was
impossible. It could not be--not in those faded overalls, too long
in the legs and frayed at the bottoms.
I paused, laughed at myself, and almost abandoned the chase. But
the haunting familiarity of those shoulders and that silver hair!
Again I hurried on. As I passed him, I shot a keen look at his
face; then I whirled around abruptly and confronted--the Bishop.
He halted with equal abruptness, and gasped. A large paper bag in
his right hand fell to the sidewalk. It burst, and about his feet
and mine bounced and rolled a flood of potatoes. He looked at me
with surprise and alarm, then he seemed to wilt away; the shoulders
drooped with dejection, and he uttered a deep sigh.
I held out my hand. He shook it, but his hand felt clammy. He
cleared his throat in embarrassment, and I could see the sweat
starting out on his forehead. It was evident that he was badly
"The potatoes," he murmured faintly. "They are precious."
Between us we picked them up and replaced them in the broken bag,
which he now held carefully in the hollow of his arm. I tried to
tell him my gladness at meeting him and that he must come right
home with me.
"Father will be rejoiced to see you," I said. "We live only a
stone's throw away.
"I can't," he said, "I must be going. Good-by."
He looked apprehensively about him, as though dreading discovery,
and made an attempt to walk on.
"Tell me where you live, and I shall call later," he said, when he
saw that I walked beside him and that it was my intention to stick
to him now that he was found.
"No," I answered firmly. "You must come now."
He looked at the potatoes spilling on his arm, and at the small
parcels on his other arm.
"Really, it is impossible," he said. "Forgive me for my rudeness.
If you only knew."
He looked as if he were going to break down, but the next moment he
had himself in control.
"Besides, this food," he went on. "It is a sad case. It is
terrible. She is an old woman. I must take it to her at once.
She is suffering from want of it. I must go at once. You
understand. Then I will return. I promise you."
"Let me go with you," I volunteered. "Is it far?"
He sighed again, and surrendered.
"Only two blocks," he said. "Let us hasten."
Under the Bishop's guidance I learned something of my own
neighborhood. I had not dreamed such wretchedness and misery
existed in it. Of course, this was because I did not concern
myself with charity. I had become convinced that Ernest was right
when he sneered at charity as a poulticing of an ulcer. Remove the
ulcer, was his remedy; give to the worker his product; pension as
soldiers those who grow honorably old in their toil, and there will
be no need for charity. Convinced of this, I toiled with him at
the revolution, and did not exhaust my energy in alleviating the
social ills that continuously arose from the injustice of the
I followed the Bishop into a small room, ten by twelve, in a rear
tenement. And there we found a little old German woman--sixty-four
years old, the Bishop said. She was surprised at seeing me, but
she nodded a pleasant greeting and went on sewing on the pair of
men's trousers in her lap. Beside her, on the floor, was a pile of
trousers. The Bishop discovered there was neither coal nor
kindling, and went out to buy some.
I took up a pair of trousers and examined her work.
"Six cents, lady," she said, nodding her head gently while she went
on stitching. She stitched slowly, but never did she cease from
stitching. She seemed mastered by the verb "to stitch."
"For all that work?" I asked. "Is that what they pay? How long
does it take you?"
"Yes," she answered, "that is what they pay. Six cents for
finishing. Two hours' sewing on each pair."
But the boss doesn't know that," she added quickly, betraying a
fear of getting him into trouble. "I'm slow. I've got the
rheumatism in my hands. Girls work much faster. They finish in
half that time. The boss is kind. He lets me take the work home,
now that I am old and the noise of the machine bothers my head. If
it wasn't for his kindness, I'd starve.
"Yes, those who work in the shop get eight cents. But what can you
do? There is not enough work for the young. The old have no
chance. Often one pair is all I can get. Sometimes, like to-day,
I am given eight pair to finish before night."
I asked her the hours she worked, and she said it depended on the
"In the summer, when there is a rush order, I work from five in the
morning to nine at night. But in the winter it is too cold. The
hands do not early get over the stiffness. Then you must work
later--till after midnight sometimes.
"Yes, it has been a bad summer. The hard times. God must be
angry. This is the first work the boss has given me in a week. It
is true, one cannot eat much when there is no work. I am used to
it. I have sewed all my life, in the old country and here in San
"If you are sure of the rent, it is all right. The houseman is
very kind, but he must have his rent. It is fair. He only charges
three dollars for this room. That is cheap. But it is not easy
for you to find all of three dollars every month."
She ceased talking, and, nodding her head, went on stitching.
"You have to be very careful as to how you spend your earnings," I
She nodded emphatically.
"After the rent it's not so bad. Of course you can't buy meat.
And there is no milk for the coffee. But always there is one meal
a day, and often two."
She said this last proudly. There was a smack of success in her
words. But as she stitched on in silence, I noticed the sadness in
her pleasant eyes and the droop of her mouth. The look in her eyes
became far away. She rubbed the dimness hastily out of them; it
interfered with her stitching.
No, it is not the hunger that makes the heart ache," she explained.
"You get used to being hungry. It is for my child that I cry. It
was the machine that killed her. It is true she worked hard, but I
cannot understand. She was strong. And she was young--only forty;
and she worked only thirty years. She began young, it is true; but
my man died. The boiler exploded down at the works. And what were
we to do? She was ten, but she was very strong. But the machine
killed her. Yes, it did. It killed her, and she was the fastest
worker in the shop. I have thought about it often, and I know.
That is why I cannot work in the shop. The machine bothers my
head. Always I hear it saying, "I did it, I did it." And it says
that all day long. And then I think of my daughter, and I cannot
The moistness was in her old eyes again, and she had to wipe it
away before she could go on stitching.
I heard the Bishop stumbling up the stairs, and I opened the door.
What a spectacle he was. On his back he carried half a sack of
coal, with kindling on top. Some of the coal dust had coated his
face, and the sweat from his exertions was running in streaks. He
dropped his burden in the corner by the stove and wiped his face on
a coarse bandana handkerchief. I could scarcely accept the verdict
of my senses. The Bishop, black as a coal-heaver, in a
workingman's cheap cotton shirt (one button was missing from the
throat), and in overalls! That was the most incongruous of all--
the overalls, frayed at the bottoms, dragged down at the heels, and
held up by a narrow leather belt around the hips such as laborers
Though the Bishop was warm, the poor swollen hands of the old woman
were already cramping with the cold; and before we left her, the
Bishop had built the fire, while I had peeled the potatoes and put
them on to boil. I was to learn, as time went by, that there were
many cases similar to hers, and many worse, hidden away in the
monstrous depths of the tenements in my neighborhood.
We got back to find Ernest alarmed by my absence. After the first
surprise of greeting was over, the Bishop leaned back in his chair,
stretched out his overall-covered legs, and actually sighed a
comfortable sigh. We were the first of his old friends he had met
since his disappearance, he told us; and during the intervening
weeks he must have suffered greatly from loneliness. He told us
much, though he told us more of the joy he had experienced in doing
the Master's bidding.
"For truly now," he said, "I am feeding his lambs. And I have
learned a great lesson. The soul cannot be ministered to till the
stomach is appeased. His lambs must be fed bread and butter and
potatoes and meat; after that, and only after that, are their
spirits ready for more refined nourishment."
He ate heartily of the supper I cooked. Never had he had such an
appetite at our table in the old days. We spoke of it, and he said
that he had never been so healthy in his life.
"I walk always now," he said, and a blush was on his cheek at the
thought of the time when he rode in his carriage, as though it were
a sin not lightly to be laid.
"My health is better for it," he added hastily. "And I am very
happy--indeed, most happy. At last I am a consecrated spirit."
And yet there was in his face a permanent pain, the pain of the
world that he was now taking to himself. He was seeing life in the
raw, and it was a different life from what he had known within the
printed books of his library.
"And you are responsible for all this, young man," he said directly
Ernest was embarrassed and awkward.
"I--I warned you," he faltered.
"No, you misunderstand," the Bishop answered. "I speak not in
reproach, but in gratitude. I have you to thank for showing me my
path. You led me from theories about life to life itself. You
pulled aside the veils from the social shams. You were light in my
darkness, but now I, too, see the light. And I am very happy,
only . . ." he hesitated painfully, and in his eyes fear leaped large.
"Only the persecution. I harm no one. Why will they not let me
alone? But it is not that. It is the nature of the persecution.
I shouldn't mind if they cut my flesh with stripes, or burned me at
the stake, or crucified me head--downward. But it is the asylum
that frightens me. Think of it! Of me--in an asylum for the
insane! It is revolting. I saw some of the cases at the
sanitarium. They were violent. My blood chills when I think of
it. And to be imprisoned for the rest of my life amid scenes of
screaming madness! No! no! Not that! Not that!"
It was pitiful. His hands shook, his whole body quivered and
shrank away from the picture he had conjured. But the next moment
he was calm.
"Forgive me," he said simply. "It is my wretched nerves. And if
the Master's work leads there, so be it. Who am I to complain?"
I felt like crying aloud as I looked at him: "Great Bishop! O
hero! God's hero!"
As the evening wore on we learned more of his doings.
"I sold my house--my houses, rather," he said, all my other
possessions. I knew I must do it secretly, else they would have
taken everything away from me. That would have been terrible. I
often marvel these days at the immense quantity of potatoes two or
three hundred thousand dollars will buy, or bread, or meat, or coal
and kindling." He turned to Ernest. "You are right, young man.
Labor is dreadfully underpaid. I never did a bit of work in my
life, except to appeal aesthetically to Pharisees--I thought I was
preaching the message--and yet I was worth half a million dollars.
I never knew what half a million dollars meant until I realized how
much potatoes and bread and butter and meat it could buy. And then
I realized something more. I realized that all those potatoes and
that bread and butter and meat were mine, and that I had not worked
to make them. Then it was clear to me, some one else had worked
and made them and been robbed of them. And when I came down
amongst the poor I found those who had been robbed and who were
hungry and wretched because they had been robbed."
We drew him back to his narrative.
"The money? I have it deposited in many different banks under
different names. It can never be taken away from me, because it
can never be found. And it is so good, that money. It buys so
much food. I never knew before what money was good for."