Since Mr. Brann's assassination I have seen it charged in some papers, notably one bearing the word Christian at its head, that he was killed because he had slandered his slayer's daughter, and then follows a lot of hypocritical rot about regretting bloodshed, but that there was an unwritten law that required the death of a man who would slander the female relatives of another. A greater falsehood was never published in even a pious Christian weekly. He never mentioned the name of any woman connected with Baylor except the Brazilian girl, and her case was in the courts, and while his friends deeply regretted his unfortunate expression it neither justified his mobbing or his murder. And in the judgment of all fair-minded men, under the circumstances could have been more readily construed to mean Antonio Tiexera than any other woman on earth, for within Baylor's sacred precincts she had been reduced to that condition to which, when a woman arrives, men call her a Magdalene. If this was the motive that prompted his slayer, I ask why he did not appeal to the unwritten law sooner; he who appeals to it must do so at the first information has been conveyed to him that the wrong has been done and he cannot wait for months and then use it as a defense, and I do not hesitate to say that hundreds besides myself in this city do not believe that this prompted his assassin, except to be used as an excuse.
Mr. Brann loved Waco as he never loved any other place; for he knew that within its borders could be found as many brave, liberal-hearted men, pure and noble women as could be found in any other spot on earth with the same population. He loved it, for he said that here was the first place he ever found a real home, and here was the place he had for the first time been recompensed for his toil by receiving over a bare subsistence. Now, did Waco love Mr. Brann, or did it hold him the foul slanderer of her purest and best, as some claimed him to be? Let us see. Every effort was made to throw cold water on any turnout to his funeral; it was told around the city that no women would attend and that no flowers would be sent, but what was the result? From his home to the cemetery the sidewalks were crowded, save at Baylor University, the place that is responsible for his death, and hundreds of men and women who had no carriages walked from his home over two miles to the cemetery, and when the long funeral cortege passed within the gates, around his grave was a sea of human faces unequaled in numbers ever before gathered around any other grave in Waco. Yet Waco had lately laid to rest within that cemetery a man whom she dearly loved and on whom Texas had been proud to confer her high places, a man who in bygone years had so gallantly led her sons on so many bloody fields. As to the flowers, no greater profusion was ever seen on any other grave in Waco, or, perhaps, in Texas, a tribute that the pure and stainless women of Waco paid to the martyred dead. At his funeral was noticed a greater number, both from the city and county, of the sun-kissed sons of toil than had ever been gathered here around any other grave. Why were they there in such numbers? Why did they bow their manly heads o'er the coffin of the dead? I will answer for them. It was because they knew that the dead man loved the land that they, their sires and their grandsires loved; that he was seeking to uproot the evils, both socially and politically, that are so rapidly overrunning it; that all the gold of earth, or the plaudits of those who feel themselves the grand and great could not win him from his task of defending a people's rights against those who were seeking to strike them down, and if he had made an error in a paragraph subject to a double construction, that above all else on earth in his heart he sought
"But the ruin of the bad, the righting of the wrong and ill."
He was followed to his grave by hundreds of men who but a few years ago had given of their money liberally to build up the new Baylor, many of whose wives, daughters and sisters had been educated there. Is it reasonable to suppose that these men who clung to him in life with hooks of steel, and followed him to his grave with tears, are such cravens that, alike in life and death, they would stand by the man who had foully slandered their wives, daughters and sisters' fame? Out upon such a supposition, it can only find lodgment in a breast that holds that the Yahoo of Swift is a true picture of the human race, and that the lowest of the type is living here. If Mr. Brann was the slanderer of women, why did so many of them, from the hundreds that crowded the lawn around his home, lead their children up to his coffin, and those that were not able to look into it they would raise up in their arms that they might look into the dead face of the Prince of the Imperial Realm of Language.
Mr. Brann was no slanderer of women, no man on earth had a greater veneration for the good and pure or more sympathy for the fallen, and he would have died before he would have wronged intentionally either class. In this case he had struck in behalf of a poor and unfortunate girl who had been grievously wronged at Baylor, and it used to be held, and is yet held in some communities, that the man who strikes in the defense of a defenseless woman exhibits the highest trait of chivalry, even if he had made a mistake in striking, but here in Waco, with its Christian schools and churches, and its so-called Christian civilization it was rewarded first by mobs and then by murder.
He was a man who was incapable of malice, he bore none for injuries that most men would have rewarded the cowardly perpetrators by shooting them down like they have their prototype, the sneaking wolf; this arose from the innate tenderness of the man who shrunk from the taking of life, even of an animal, unless it was necessary.
I have used no words of sympathy for his wife, for time and not words can soothe sorrow such as hers, but for the benefit of those at a distance who were her husband's friends I will say that she has the sympathy of all the men and women of this city, irrespective of church or creed, who are not the indorsers and abettors of mobs and assassins, and I am glad to say that this collection of hyena-hearted human vultures, though far too many, are in the minority.
Now, to the dead friend of humanity, the eternal foe to wrong and hypocrisy, I bid adieu forever here, and for aught I know, for hereafter. The greedy grave, whose hungry mouth is never filled, has claimed him, and in the arms of old earth, the last mother of us all, we have laid him to sleep, as peacefully as in infancy he slept upon his mother's breast, indifferent alike in death as in life to the human ghouls who pursued him. Never again will his splendid intellect drive a pen. "In thoughts that breathe and words that burn" against the serried ranks of injustice and of wrong. Others will follow in his footsteps, and battle as faithfully as he for the cause of right, but, alas, none are clad like him in the Milan mail of intellectuality, against which the cloth-yard shafts of foes could rattle but could never pierce. Now, that for him the restless dream of life has closed, I know that every admirer of his genius, no matter of what faith or of no faith at all, will join me in the wish that for him death did not bring oblivion's dreamless sleep, where Lethean waves forever wash the pallid brow of death, but Elysian fields in which he met in joy the loved ones that had gone before and will await in peace the loved ones that are left behind.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killeth the prophets and stoneth them that are sent unto thee."
* * * REST—REST IN PEACE.
BY W. H. WARD.
There comes, I think, in the life of every man a time when feeble words come faintly up for utterance—when the human soul refuses to ease tell its agony in empty phrases—when neither tongue can tell nor pen portray the gloom which o'ershadows the spirit engulfed in woe. This suffering may be selfish, or be merged in a general sorrow. As I write the simple sentence, Brann is dead, a pall settles over my spirit, and, groping blindly in the dark, I feel there remains on earth scarce a single ray of light. I knew this man, and to know him was to love him—knew his faults and his virtues; loved him in spite of one and for the other. His faults were human; his virtues were Godlike. For years we trod together Life's unequal pathway—at times I felt that I stayed his falling steps, and my own feet have strayed oft and again has his firm hand led me back into the light. He was to me a delightful study, for which I found never failing recompense. I have watched his majestic mind expand as the florist watches the budding beauty of a flower, ever growing in its unfolding loveliness. I have lived with him in his home, surrounded by those whom he loved—seen him joy with their gladness, while his heart contracted with every pain that approached his loved ones—have stood with him on the banks of some mighty river, and watched the evening sun throw its chain of fire across the bosom of the waters, while his poetic spirit reveled in the beauties of the sunset sky. Under the shadow of Lookout, I have gazed with him upon those beetling crags, where the fate of a nation was in part decided, while he thanked God fervently that the heart of the nation yet beat steady and strong—have strolled with him in the forests when vernal nature spread its glorious carpet for the foot of man—have felt his great heart expand to receive every subtle impression of beauty and tenderness from nature's matchless canvas—have seen this man against whom the anathema of infidelity and atheism have gone forth, humbly bow to worship God in his handiwork. For him, as for us all, there were times when the earth was darkened with doubt; but there were moments, I know, when his aspiring soul mounted the clouds and caught some reflex of the great white light that breaks on the throne of God. It has been charged that he had neither faith nor religion. In justice to the memory of the dead, I deny the charge. He had a faith as noble as it was unfaltering—that truth was eternal and the love of justice could never utterly fade from the hearts of men. His religion was simple still, though confined by neither church nor creed—'twas the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of Man. As he loved truth and justice even so did he despise falsehood—declaring that he hated all "who loveth or maketh a lie." He loved his fellows as few men have done. The great desire of his heart, and no small part of his lifework, was devoted to the alleviation of human suffering. In his nature he was frank and open as the day—generous to a fault. I do not believe that he gave his affection fondly or foolishly. If those whom he loved failed to reach his high standard, it was not his fault. His was a great heart and he gave its tenderness with a princely hand, feeling himself rich in giving—glorying in his own munificence. No man could have been the recipient of this rich bounty without feeling himself ennobled by the gift. He had the faculty of attracting to him all whom he considered worthy of his affection. He possessed in a rare degree that which, for want of a better name, we term personal magnetism. Intellectually, he was a meteor that shot athwart the literary firmament, leaving a train of fire behind to mark his course. Within a period of four years, in an inland Texas town, he built up a magazine which was read by a large percentage of the English-speaking people. He had at the time of his death a larger clientele of readers than any living writer. For years he did all of the work of the ICONOCLAST himself, but of late he had gathered about him a corps of contributors in whose genius he himself reveled—a "bunch of pansy blossoms," he fondly termed them, whose beauty and fragrance would, he declared, delight the literary world. The hand that held these blossoms is now folded across a pulseless breast; but the silken skein of his affection will yet serve to bind the flowers together. The bright particular star of the Iconoclastic galaxy is dimmed, but the blended light of the others may still serve to illumine the dark places of life, and, in so doing, help to achieve that betterment of man for which their chief toiled so earnestly, battled so bravely and hoped so ardently. The poor and oppressed have lost a friend and protector—true womanhood has lost one of its ablest defenders—liberty its bravest champion—his country a hero, ever ready to fight for a redress of her wrongs. He was a humanitarian in the broadest and best sense of the word. In his heart there lived ever a hope that the time might yet come, in this fair land of ours, when there would be "neither a millionaire nor a mendicant—a master nor a slave." In life he was dear to me, his memory is dearer still, nay, 'tis sacred. I would not play Boswell to any Johnson, but this was my friend, tender, loving and loyal to me, and now that he is dead I come to lay this tribute in the dust at his feet. He has been judged oftenest and most unjustly, as men usually are, by those who knew him least. Beneath the iron corselet which confronted the eyes of the world there beat in this man's breast a heart tender as a child's, and as loving as a woman's, that throbbed in agony for every ill to which humanity is heir. I remember in the early morning once he came into my room and silently beckoned me to his study. There in the vines at the window, scarce three feet from his desk, sat one of our Southern Orioles—a feathered songster, trilling forth the gladness of his heart in song. Brann watched the bird and drank in the music of his song. I saw his face light up with exquisite tenderness, and I knew that he accepted this matin song of the bird as a message from his Maker. I trust I may be pardoned for relating this simple incident, but it served to show me the man as few things could have done. I know 'tis true that: "As snowflakes fall to the earth unperceived and are gathered together in a pile, so do the seemingly unimportant events of life succeed one another. No single flake creates a sensible change on the pile, and no single act constitutes, however much it may exhibit, a man's character." But it is from simple things that the sum of life is made up —from those acts which are most spontaneous and usually least observed that human nature may best be determined and most justly estimated. This man made no preachment of his virtues, believing that "the years are seldom unjust." He was the Navarre of modern journalism, and his white plume ever showed in the thickest of the fight. It was his strong hand that taught the "doubtful battle where to rage"; 'twas his to enchain friendship and inspire followers. Had he battled for a creed as he fought for a faith, his bones would have been canonized. Had he struggled for a party as he stood for the State, no political preferment would have been held beyond his reach. Had he lived in another age, among other people, his body would have been inurned in the Valhalla of the Brave. As it is, all that is mortal of him occupies only so much of Texas soil as may serve as "paste and cover of his bones." Little does he reck of this, and his friends should not repine, for the same prairie breezes that waft incense of flowers over the graves of Travis, Bowie and Crockett, sing a sad requiem over the final resting place of Brann. The aspiring soul has found its fixed abode among the stars; his Titanic intellect which, here on earthy ever struggled for the light, now bathes in the effulgence of the Sun. His heart, ever unquiet because of the woes of his kind, now knows that peace which "passeth the understanding of man." The hand of the All-Father has forever soothed the heart-hunger and unrest of life from his troubled breast. That hand which swept, at will, every cord of the harp of life, has fallen nerveless, but its music will yet linger in the hearts of men until love of truth and beauty shall utterly fade from the earth. A long good-night to thee, Brave Heart, thy better part has found the better place; to that which is mortal and remains with us, we say, Rest—Rest in Peace.
A MEMORIAL TO W. C. BRANN.
It has been suggested that the friends and admirers of Mr. Brann join in a contribution to mark the spot where he sleeps. It is proposed, if this meets the approval of friends, that it be a granite vase, some four or five feet high, surmounted either by a life size statue in bronze or marble of the dead, holding in his hand a copy of the ICONOCLAST, as if offering it to the passer-by, and the word ICONOCLAST upon it in letters sufficiently large to be read at a distance of twenty feet. It is said by those who claim to know that such a memorial can be erected at a cost of some $3,000 or $4,000.
Many of his friends would not approve, and neither would he if he could express himself, of anything that would require any large expenditure of money while so many thousands of worthy men and women are struggling in vain to secure the bare necessities of life, these holding that costly monuments can do the dead no good, and are in bad taste in the living. There can be no doubt that thousands in the years to come will seek his grave to lay their offerings upon the shrine of genius, and while his will be marked I wish to say in this connection to those asking in what condition Mrs. Brann is left financially that while she will have sufficient to keep the wolf from hers and her children's door if properly managed, that she will not have over a tithe of what it has been published that she would.
Submitting these few words for the consideration of his friends, I can say if a response sufficiently favorable come, then the proper steps will be taken to carry it out; if not, nothing more will be said, at least not from me; and as his friend I would not approve of keeping standing in the ICONOCLAST a list of subscribers to the fund; if the suggestion is carried out it will be time enough to publish it when the work is finished and the statue unveiled. G. B. GERALD.
. . .
The man who takes up Brann's work will only succeed, not replace him. He was a star of the first magnitude, and such bodies are not created in an hour—not always in an age. He who attempts an imitation, however clever his work, would stand before the world, self-confessed, a failure from the first. Booth, in his favorite character inspired us—Joe Jefferson could only prompt us to laughter. Yet, is not Jefferson without genius in his way? There is no reason, however, why he who follows may not be as loyal to the faith, as courageous in the fight, as Brann was known and acknowledged to be. The Chief is dead, but did not die until he had blazoned the way for those who dare follow where he so bravely led.
. . .
In life Brann often said he wanted no mourning worn for him, save that which enshrouded the hearts of his family and friends—that the mere trappings of woe were but its "limbs and outward flourishes," which, too often, failed to reach the heart.
* * * SPEAKING OF BRANN.
Died Fighting April 2, 1898.
Where now is all his thundering? He has "fall'n on stillness" in the Spring, And even echo answers not, "In that dim land where all things are forgot," His surging sentences, his cadenced chimes Of speech that through the seven climes Wooed the many to rapt listening.
Soothed by the wind of the dead men's feet, He lies in slumber senseless-sweet. His fame, his wife's and children's tears, The issue that made up his manly years, His hates and loves the burgeoning Earth receives, And list, "a little noiseless noise among the leaves" Of southern springtime pity does entreat.
A fighter's faults were his, but strong The blows he struck at throned Wrong; Beauty he loved as ever love the brave; The April air breathes beauty o'er his grave. Truth he pursued. Lo, he has found her now: She kissed the kiss of peace upon his brow. His ears are filled with Silence's sweet song.
Fighting he died, marched into the Night, His banner blazing with his bravery's light. "Shot from behind," the story goes, To glorify him and to damn his foes. The foes he fought were Cowardice and Fraud; They have prevailed again, but, O Lord God, Thou wilt raise up still others for Thy fight.
Rejoicing loud is in the House of Sham, Bigots to themselves make deep salaam, Shoddydom rubs its ringed hands in glee, The Ogre's scandal-scourged at each pink tea, Pecksniff's pray that he has gone to swell The galaxy of bravery and brains in Hell— Great joy in small souls all not worth a damn!
But where men think, feel, as men can, "Bon voyage through the dark, good man!" They call and take up his pen-lance And brandish it again 'gainst Ignorance In power fortified with a myriad lies And every great-heart, fine-soul cries As pledge of fealty, "Here's to you, Brann!"
What tho' he hear no rumor of our hail! What tho' we follow searching for that Grail A bettered world with less of woe and pain, And better gods than Privilege and Gain, Out in the darkness, by assassins sped, 'Tis better far to join defeated dead Than share success with him whose soul's for sale.
—WILLIAM MARION REEDY, in St. Louis Mirror.
* * * DEATH OF W. C. BRANN.
What a sable pall was flung over the spirits of countless thousands who heard last week that Editor W. C. Brann, of the ICONOCLAST, was no more. "The heavens seem hung in black and the clouds are wrung of their stars," wrote a St. Paul friend who idolized the apostolic seer.
The world is dark with excess of grief for the immortal soul of an illimitable genius has been sent to its maker and scattered with the star dust of the eidouranion William C. Brann was an apostle. Like Christ, like Lincoln and others whom we deify, he was misunderstood and reviled, and a cowardly bullet pierced him in the back, a martyrdom of which he had a premonition.
The head and front of his offending was strict adherence to the truth, though the heavens fall. He knew no fear, but was never the aggressor.
The lamented Brann was an educator, and an emancipator of human liberty and human thought. The hypocrite stood in awe of his judgment. When he indicted him to be arraigned before the great bar of public opinion he dipped his pen in acid that seared the eyeballs, and wrote their sentence diluted with worm-wood and gall. It is not small wonder that the Judas Iscariots and the lemurs trembled at his power.
Brann's tragic exit from this vale of tears is inspiration now for jackals to attack his name. Like the dull, dull ass they are not afraid to kick the dead lion, while their ears wave to the seventh heaven of delight. In earth life they feared his name, but like ghouls they now go down into the grave to besmirch his memory. And this, too, from those who profess to follow the teachings of the meek and lowly Nazarene.
Strange as it may seem to the hypocrite, Brann was a religious man. His creed was the religion of humanity. His biographers, if they do him justice, will write his name with the blood of the lamb high up on the flying scroll.
Brann's friends, and they are legion, should not repine if he is not canonized as his bones are hearsed in death, for "whenever was a god found agreeable to everybody? The regular way is to lynch, as the Baylorites did, to hang, to kill, to crucify and excoriate and trample them under their stupid hoofs, cloven or webbed, as the case may be, for a century or two; and then take to braying over them when you discover their divine origin, still in a very long-eared manner!" So speaks the sarcastic man, in his wild way, very mournful truths.
Brann was as the "life-tree, Igdrasil, wide-waving and many-toned, with fimbriated tendrils down deep in the Death-Kingdoms, among the oldest dead dust of men and with boughs reaching always beyond the stars and ever changeless as the immutable empyrean of eternal hope."
They could better spare the whole State of Texas than William C. Brann. While the galled jades winced beneath the scorpion whips of his satire, and would have preferred fireballs, they felt the potency of his dynamics and scurried to the soldier works of the masters for a glint of mental pabulum they had never known before.
The editor of The Sunday Eye is in receipt of many letters from admirers of the late lamented genius. They are rich in anathema and maranatha of Brann's heartless and cruel detractors. With one accord they have expressed the wish that I excoriate the revilers who desecrated by bludgeon words the sacrosanct acre of God in which reposes the mortal tenement of the sacred scribe.
I do not believe as Mr. Charles Campbell, of Anchor, does, that they should be gibbeted high as Haman. Nor do I think as Mr. C. E. Stewart, of Minier, does, that they should be lashed naked through the world and lambasted till death ends the heart throbs. I believe that they should be permitted to live until they have read the great genius and learned to understand and exalt him. It would make them better for it, religion would not suffer by it, though Baylor sank a thousand leagues beneath the seven-hued regions of Tartarus.
The ICONOCLAST minced no words. When it dealt body blows they landed in the brisket and affected the solar plexus in a very apprehensive way.
Lincoln was gentle and generous, Ingersoll was brilliant and broad, but Brann was all this and greater. His untimely death was a distinctive loss to the march of civilization and a gain to the shams of hypocrisy which takes now a new grip on the English language to batter down the shackles Brann had welded about them with public opinion.
Brann was a reformer who meant reform. He wore his heart upon his sleeve, but would be cruel to be just. He endured mental anguish great as was suffered in the garden of Gethsemane. As the sweetest perfume exhales from a crushed, blooming rose so the sweeter and nobler sentiments welled up from the perennial spring of his fountains of love when most bruised and racked with pain.
I have no fear of his acceptance on the right hand up there where men are judged by their deeds and not by semblance of better things that a canting world may simulate. He is in Valhalla with the other battling heroes where the alabaster boxes of eternal love are showered upon the halo of their brighter radiance. Brann wrote to catch the wide world's attention that he might teach them gentler things than feculent shocks. He was essentially an ascetic devoted to uplifting in his own sure way.
All the classes came trippingly to his and all the dogmas, all the purlieus of sociology and political economy were as an open book to him. When he soared to the sun he never dropped into the sea from Icarian wings. His iconoclasm was the decadence of the social cesspool and the expurgation of money power which he believed was the ne plus ultra of anarchy and the genius of diabolic perfidy. He preached as he felt, tender and terrible, loving and vehement, a strange commingling of Titanic vulgate and cooing peace. Brann was eccentric but all genius must have a certain leeway without being dubbed Quixotic. He was a man whose loftiest ideality was purity in womanhood. He adored children and was in many respects child-like. He was as "The long light that shakes across the lake, Where the cataract leaps in its glory."
Friend Brann, through blinding mist of sympathetic tears, I say adieu.—Geo. L. Hutchin, in the Bloomington Eye.
* * * A PEN PICTURE OF BRANN
It is hard for me to realize that Brann is dead. It seems only yesterday night that he sat opposite me at table, and talked of his plans and projects and spoke so hopefully, so boyishly of the future that he was never to realize.
For a long time I had a curiosity to see Brann, of the ICONOCLAST. His pyrotechnic vocabulary, his strange admixture of erudition and slang, his almost womanly sympathy and the more than Apache ferocity with which he pursued his enemies, the tender and poetic metaphor that gemmed his iron prose, and the singular blending of optimism and pessimism that characterized most of his work suggested an anomaly that appealed to the imagination, and I was anxious to see what Brann looked like.
I had an opportunity when he came here to lecture. I knew his business manager, Mr. Ward, who figured in the dreadful duel in which he lost his life, and who was, at that time, arranging his lecture dates. Ward is a big Texan, over six feet high, and I suppose he weighs all of two hundred pounds. He is a lawyer who drifted into journalism years ago, and under a somewhat rough-and- ready exterior there is not much trouble in finding the gentleman and the scholar. Well, Ward introduced me to Brann, and after a while the three of us foregathered in a private room of a down-town cafe, and stayed there for several hours that I remember with unmixed delight.
Looking back at the episode, I have difficulty in framing my impressions of the famous Texan editor. I think the principal thing that struck me was his lack of pose and affection. All through his talk, and he was in high spirits and talked a great deal, there were sparks of delightful naivete.
"I want to pull out of the ICONOCLAST as much as I can," he said. "And since we have made enough money to do so, I have bought a great many outside contributions. My idea," he continued, "is this: As long as I wrote most everything in the publication myself it was strictly a one-man paper; and if anything should have happened to me it would have been worth nothing to my wife and family. What I am trying to do now is to organize a corps of contributors who can keep it up if I should be taken away."
Had he any suspicion of the prophecy that lurked in these words? Perhaps he had; for when I suggested to him the advisability of leaving Waco, with its petty local dissensions and the personal dangers incident to them, he shook his head.
"I got together $11,000 not long ago," he said, "and put it into a house. It is the first money worth talking about that I ever had, and I feel that the investment ties me, more or less, to Waco. But aside from that," he went on to say, "I am a little afraid that the ICONOCLAST would lose its characteristic flavor if I moved it to one of the big Eastern cities. You will remember that that experiment was tried with the Arkansas Traveller, which was moved from Little Rock to Chicago, and promptly fell flat. The same thing happened to the Texas Siftings, when it was taken from Austin to New York. I am inclined to believe that a publication acquires a savor of the soil in which it springs, and it is a mighty risky business to try to transplant it."
He told me of Col. Gerald, who had killed the Harris brothers only a few weeks before. "Gerald is a wonderful old man," he said. "He is over sixty, but he is as straight as a pine. He has a light mustache and chin beard, and eyes the color of the blue you see in old china. He don't know what fear is. He thinks it is some kind of a disease like smallpox or appendicitis, and only know that he has never had it." Between talk we ate oysters and drank a little beer. Brann impressed me as being a very temperate man.
The conversation drifted frequently to his plans for the future. "I've been roasted a good deal for the go-as-you- please style of the ICONOCLAST," he said, "and, between ourselves, wish I could have refined its style a trifle. But if I had done so we would never have gone over the 100,000 mark as we did last week. However, I'm tired of it," he said slowly, "most infernally tired. I am anxious next year to devote myself to a higher class of work. I have a novel about half done, and also a play, and I am very hopeful that they may both succeed."
It was long after midnight when we parted. He said that he expected to be back "one of these days."
Poor Brann! It sickens one's soul to think of the value of such a life as his as against that of his slayer. Good God! His little finger was worth all the Texas pot-house politicians and Baylor University pharisees that could be lined up between her and Orion.—O. H. S., in the Looking Glass.
* * * SEMPER VIVAT IN MEMORIAM.
Now that partisan hate has succeeded in hounding to his death America's most eloquent champion of humanity; has driven to the verge of insanity an adoring wife, and thrown o'er the roseate lives of two tender, clinging children the black pall of a sorrow that will forever embitter their hearts, perchance it will pause; will remember the teachings of that other "friend of humanity" who, nearly nineteen hundred years ago, was crucified for daring to fight what he believed to be wrong; whose religion may be summed up in one word—"forgiveness."
Brann's enemies were professed followers of this Christ. With tearful eyes and uplifted, supplicating faces they besought the God of Justice to—in the beautiful language of the prayer left us by his Son—"lead us not into temptation" and "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"; and the next day passed resolutions congratulating a mob of brutal ruffians for frightening a sick woman nearly to death, kidnaping her defenseless husband and forcing him—under threats of instant death—to retract what they knew to be the truth. A few weeks later, they were "resoluting" and "sympathizing" and formulating plans for the erection of a monument to the memory of two would-be assassins who were killed while attempting to carry out their cowardly work. Oh, Christianity!—that thy cloak—pure as polar snow—must cover such infamy!
Brann's death blots from the firmament of American journalism its brightest star. He was an intellectual titan. In him was embodied the philosophy of Carlyle— the brilliancy of Voltaire,—the withering sarcasm of Desmoulins—the poetry of Ingersoll. His genius, universal as that of Shakespeare, was ever aligned on the side of the weak and oppressed; ever, with god-like fearlessness, he stood for Right against Might—for purity against corruption. In church, in state, in society— he tore the painted mask from the face of hypocrisy and exposed it, in all its festering hideousness, to the world's ridicule.
Brann has been damned as an atheist—by people who have never read, and are incapable of reading and understanding, a single paragraph from his pen. The author of "Tiens ta Foi," "Charity," "Man's Immorality"—was not an atheist. He refused to bend the knee to superstition— to lend a patient ear to earth's self-constituted vice- gerents of Omniscience. But God spoke to him through nature. The flowers he so passionately loved were reminders of His loving tenderness; in the divine music of Wagner, Liszt and Chopin, he recognized the voice of God. His faith was broad as the universe—deep as infinity. He loved purity; he hated hypocrisy; and for this he died —a martyr.
Inspiration comes from God. The children of genius needs must be the favorites of Omniscience. Yet theologians vilify Brann from the pulpit—teachers denounce him to their pupils. For nearly ten years he has been the target of vindictive spite—such spite as only a narrow, bigoted mind can be capable of. This is the greatest compliment mediocrity can pay to genius.
Brann is dead! Still forever is the pen whose wondrous alchemy transposed the English language—with all its inherent harshness—into music sweet as song of Israfil. Stilled is the heart that stood alone, defiant, a bulwark 'gainst the wave of corruption that is engulfing our land.
Brann is dead! But when Baylor University has sunk beneath the wave of oblivion; when the very bones of the splenetic-hearted hypocrites—who goaded to his death the grandest man America has ever produced—have crumbled into the tongueless silence of the dreamless dust— Brann's name will live—a beacon light for those who love truth for truth's sake.
Brann is dead! The blow that wrung our hearts with unavailing anguish but ushered him into the company of Shakespeare, Carlyle, Hugo and Wagner. And there, whether it be in the light that beats on God's great throne, or in the serbonian darkness of a hell more horrible than that pictured by Dante—is the true Heaven.—Abbott Graphic.
* * * BRANN'S BRAVE BATTLE.
With humble soul and heavy heart we take up our pen to chronicle the death, yea the murder of one of the brightest and purest noblemen that God ever created—W. C. Brann. A few years ago he, W. H. Ward and the writer each occupied desks, side by side, in the editorial rooms of The Waco Morning News. There budded a friendship between that trio that we full believe shall blossom into ripe fraternal love on a shore as yet unknown to Mr. Ward and the writer. Mr. Brann was editor of the ICONOCLAST, and as its name indicates it is a smasher of idols from Tadmor in the Wilderness to the mountains of Hepsedam. Scorning the sensual, always against the vulgar, in much the same manner as Carlyle, Brann stuck the gaffles of truth deep into the sides of wrong in high places, and exposed rottenness wherever found. With rugged English, twisted into sentences more cutting than whips of scorpions' tails, he stood up and fought for right as opposed to might. He tore off the plaster of moral cancerous ulcers, now so prolific on the body politic of the world, and held high the treachery, the bigotry, the superstition, the damnably dirty doings of a generation that accepts hidebound dogmas for the ultima thule of reasoning and truth; precept for right and in reality worships at the shrine of exploded fables and crowns, by its own acts, the parrot as its preceptor—lives and dies, having no desire to do anything that somebody has not done before! Is it any wonder that such a man as W. C. Brann should fall a victim to such a populace? He was hounded to his death—mobbed, spat upon, shot and murdered, by several thousand pin-headed obstreperous patrons and followers of a little pee-wee college, that turns young ladies out enceinte almost yearly and hires its professors for less salaries than a railroad brakeman gets.
Brann's good work will live, his fame will survive and an intellectual race yet will rise up and bless his name when the lying epitaphs of the assassin sent to the d—— by him shall have crumbled to earth ten thousand years. We cannot close this faint tribute of respect to our dead friend without acknowledging the worth of such true men as Mr. W. H. Ward and Judge G. B. Gerald, both of whom are able, brave, high-toned gentlemen, and both of whom came near dying, and both were willing to die, or see that Mr. Brann got fair play while he lived.—S. M. Scruggs, in the Tribune.
* * * BRANN IS NO MORE.
On the first of April—All Fools' Day—W. C. Brann, of the ICONOCLAST, and T. M. Davis riddled each other with bullets in Waco, Texas. Both of them died the following day. The trouble between them grew out of the attack made by Brann in his paper on the Baylor University, a Baptist institution attended by the daughter of Davis. At the time that Brann accused the students of the college of immorality, he was assaulted by them, and barely escaped lynching at their hands. He was forced to make a retraction and was ordered to leave town. Being a courageous man Brann refused to emigrate.
The Irish Standard chronicles the untimely and awful death of Mr. Brann with poignant regret, and tenders its condolence to his afflicted family. In many ways he won the admiration of the American people. He was a man of great mental endowments, and in the use of invective, often degenerating into billingsgate, he stood without a rival in American journalism. His mind was broad and he despised religious intolerance. As an American he loved the stars and stripes and was opposed to an Anglo- American alliance. He held hypocrites in supreme contempt and lashed the pharisees unmercifully. When Catholic priests and sisters were misrepresented by sectarian bigots, he used his tongue and pen in their defense. So ably did he vindicate the Catholic church from their aspersions that many supposed him to be a Jesuit in disguise. In the last issue of the ICONOCLAST he told a correspondent what he thought of Mrs. Shepard and ex- priest Chiniquy. Had Brann lived in a more civilized community than among the bigoted Baptists of Texas, he would have used more elegant language in his magazine than it contained for the past few months.
We entirely disagree with the Pioneer Press in its characterization of the deceased journalist when it says: "From attacking the private lives of the prominent and successful men of every quarter of the union and levying blackmail as the price of silence from those whose slips or frailties his keen hyena-like appetite for filth had enabled him to scent, it was an easy step to the most scurrilous assaults on men and women whose only offending lay in their uprightness and virtue."
Brann never attacked men and women for their "uprightness and virtue," and our St. Paul contemporary is guilty of calumny when it says so. Every evildoer and hypocrite feared him, while upright men and virtuous women had a champion in him. His bitterest enemies never accused him of being a blackmailer, and the editor of the Pioneer Press took care he was dead before he made the unwarrantable charge.—The Irish Standard.
* * * BRAVE AND BRAINY BRANN
The killing of W. C. Brann in a duel at Waco, Texas, a few days ago, is but a repetition of the punishment that generally falls to newspaper men who persistently print the truth. Brann was an intellectual giant. The rarest accomplishments possible for a human mind to acquire were not too intricate for him to master. His versatility was as boundless as his originality was unique. Absolutely fearless and utterly indifferent regarding his personal safety, he dared to expose the charlatan and the trickster in whatever walk of life he chanced to meet him. Endowed with a mind that was only circumscribed by the Infinite itself and fortified with a thorough classical education, he held the hypocrite up to contempt and public scorn and deservedly lashed him with the lash of sarcasm. True, some of our erudite(?) members of the press have presumed to pass judgment upon him; men as incapable of rendering a just criticism of his talents as they have found it impossible to rise to his standard of excellence. One who is especially in love with himself has said that had Brann been less soulless he might have been an ornament to his trade. Trade! When men attain Brann's intellectual standing, and they are as rare as the intellectual sloven is numerous, the TRADE evolves into a profession. It is indeed disheartening to see one devote his life and his talents to truth and justice, only to be belittled after death by those whose poverty-stricken understandings render them incapable of half-appreciating the man's genius, to say nothing of his nobility of purpose in endeavoring to elevate mankind. He has been accused of blasphemy by another who has probably been as startled by Brann's truthful declarations as he himself would have been had he at some time dared to commit such a rash act. Despite these intellectual "pee-wees" Brann's writings will live long after the surf of eternity has carried the penny-a-liners out upon the sea of oblivion. In the tragic death of W. C. Brann the world has lost the most versatile pen the century has produced and it is with sincere grief that we chronicle his sudden taking away.—The Gilroy (Cal.) Telegram.
* * * BRANN, OF THE ICONOCLAST.
W. C. Brann, the fearless editor of the ICONOCLAST, is no more. The ICONOCLAST is published at Waco, Texas, and was started but a few years ago by its gifted author with no more capital than his genius and the courage of his convictions. The ICONOCLAST assailed every form of avarice, hypocrisy and infamy; in a few months the publication gained a world-wide reputation and amassed for its editor a handsome fortune because it was bought and read by thousands of people who love truth, when boldly proclaimed, for truth's sake. Some time ago the ICONOCLAST laid bare the iniquities of some white-sepulchral hypocrites having charge of a young ladies' seminary under the auspices of a religious denomination. The pious and lecherous scoundrels, and their ilk, who felt aggrieved by the publication of the sensational facts, instead of resorting to the law and proving that they had been libeled, and vindicating themselves by the imprisonment of Brann, resorted to mob violence, and what they lacked in courage they supplied with numbers, and beat their helpless victim into insensibility. In the very next issue of the ICONOCLAST, Brann, its outraged but incomparably fearless editor, in speaking of his cowardly assailants, used the following defiant and sadly prophetic words: "Truth to tell there's not one of the whole cowardly tribe who's worth a charge of buckshot who deserve so much honor as being sent to hell by a white man's hand! If Socrates was poisoned, and Christ was crucified, for telling unpalatable truths to the splenetic-hearted hypocrites of their time, it would ill become me to complain of martyrdom for a like offense." Brann was shot in the back by a drunken "local" politician, who doubtless had as much conception of morality and honor as did those whom Brann had assailed openly and above-board in the ICONOCLAST. Brann, though mortally wounded, turned and shot his assassin, wounding him fatally—Brann and his assassin have both died—one, mourned as a martyr in the cause of truth; the other mourned by the "splenetic-hearted hypocrites" of Waco and elsewhere.—Charleston Enterprise.
* * * A MARTYR TO FREE SPEECH.
Poor Brann has fallen a martyr to Baptist bigotry. The foul minded crowd who imported Slattery to Waco ran a university whose iniquities Brann exposed. The deacons of the church and the preachers combined against him and his life was attacked again and again because he was not afraid of telling the truth. The last attempt was successful and his blood is on the head of the bigots of Waco.
We have not read in any of our "American" dailies nor have we seen in any of our Evangelical weeklies a condemnation of this outrage on free speech. If the conditions had been reversed, if a Catholic had shot down the defamer of Catholic women, the country would have rung with denunciations of Catholic bigotry. But the Baptist beetle-browed can for months plan the death of a man who has exposed their hypocrisy and the assassination is taken as one of the few "occurrences" which diversify life in those monotonous Texas towns.
Brann was not a Catholic. In the eyes of the majority Baptists of Waco he was an infidel. He had no sympathy with any creed as a creed; but as far as we can judge he loved truth and justice and hated wrong and hypocrisy. It was this natural feeling for right and fair play which led him into the battle with the A.P.A., the battle in which he perished. We believe that he acted according to his lights, and to those who live by the law as it is shown to them, God will not deny grace. Many a man and woman who never saw Brann, and do not sympathize with the extreme views he held on certain religious matters, and might perhaps take exception to his style of conveying his opinions, will yet because of his manly defense of ladies slandered without cause by the vilest of the vile, breathe a silent prayer that God may have mercy on his soul. As long as ye did it unto these you did it unto Me. Even a cup of cold water shall not lose its reward.—The Monitor, San Francisco, Cal.
TO THE PUBLIC.
The editorial supervision of the May ICONOCLAST has been to me a labor of love. The stress of circumstances under which the work has been done, is too well known for either explanation or apology for its shortcomings. This issue of the paper is intended as a memorial of the man who founded it; whose genius has so long adorned its pages, and whose personality has endeared it to so many thousands of readers throughout the land. W. H. WARD.
. . .
In the Vicksburg Dispatch of Sunday, February 13, appeared an article from the pen of Ida Clyde Gallagher, of Vicksburg, a very bright and gifted writer, in which she pays a feeling tribute to the character of W. C. Brann. The article in question has been widely read and copied. It was written while Mr. Brann was on his Southern lecture tour, and is peculiarly appropriate to this issue of the ICONOCLAST. I therefore reproduce it with pleasure:
"The development of all really great forces afford an interesting study for the mind capable of grasping and measuring them. The overflow of a river, the eruption of a volcano or the devastation of a storm arouse admiration even while they inspire terror and awaken awe. But it is the purely human force, with its infinite variety, which charms while it enthralls. A man born and reared, as other men, bound by the same ties, subject to the same laws, fettered by the same conventionalities, to throw off the yoke of circumstances, break through the trammels of the conventional, grapple with and overcome every obstacle that lies in his path, until he reaches the summit of Olympus and bodily fronts the Gods, or towers among men, like Saul above his brethren. We may envy him, as we ever envy the truly great, or be disposed to close his lips in death, because he tells us unpalatable truths, yet admire him secretly and in our hearts exalt him. We may not confess as much while he lives and labors, but when his lips are dumb in death, his breast pulseless, we lay our hatred and envy in the dust at his feet, and rear in marble a gleaming shaft to commemorate the virtues of the dead. The name of "Brann" has inspired this homily; Brann, of the ICONOCLAST, the man whose praises are being sung loved by half the world, by the other half condemned, whose whole life has been a battle and a march, who wars as did the Titans and if he gropes blindly at times ever struggles toward the light. This is the man who began his education while rearing a family, and went from behind the smokestack of a locomotive to the tripod of a daily paper. Who in a few years has risen to dizzy heights of fame, whose utterances are waited for and attended by more than half a million people, many of whom he does not and can not convert, but all of whom he impresses. A man who is said to be an ideal husband and father, a tender, loyal and devoted friend, yet whose entire existence is devoted to a warfare against existing evils, bitter as death, and uncompromising as the grave. You may not always be right, Mr. Brann, indeed, we shrewdly suspect you are not, but we respect you and admire you just the same, because you attack boldly and fight fearlessly. Yes, we admire you, and shall not wait to whisper it to your tombstone either."
. . .
If the futility of brute force as an appeal to reason required an object lesson, it might easily be found in the fact that while the hand that wielded one pen lies motionless in death, hundreds of others have been raised up to fight under the same banner.
. . .
Several months ago a number of the students of the Baylor University, acting without regard for the laws of either God or man, attempted to mob the editor of the ICONOCLAST in an effort to bridle his pen. The hand which they sought to restrain has now been enjoined by a court whose order is irrevocable. In every state in the union men have come forward to take up a fight which Brann himself considered ended, and the object is accomplished. In reproducing tributes to the memory of the dead editor I have felt it my duty in several instances to blue-pencil certain passages which might have been considered as reflecting upon those who are innocent and unoffending. The moral here needs no pointing.
. . .
To his readers and admirers, who have uniformly expressed regret over the death of her husband, Mrs. W. C. Brann desires to return a woman's thanks for the kindly sympathy extended.
* * * SIMPLE STATEMENT OF FACTS.
BY W. H. WARD.
Concerning the tragedy of April 1, in which W. C. Brann lost his life and I, myself, was slightly wounded, as a sensational event, enough and more than enough, has already been said in the daily press. I should not have mentioned the matter here at all, but I know the readers of the ICONOCLAST will expect a statement of the facts. I therefore give a subjoined account of the affair from the Independent Pulpit, published in Waco by J. D. Shaw. Mr. Shaw is well known to the people of Texas. There is not a man in the state who will doubt that his account of the tragedy is in absolute accord with truth and justice. In the extract referred to Mr. Shaw says:
LET THE PLAIN TRUTH BE TOLD.
The lateness of this Pulpit affords me an opportunity to correct some false impressions with regard to the recent tragedy in which W. C. Brann lost his life.
That there should have been some errors of view among bystanders as to the various incidents in that deadly conflict is not surprising, and of these, trifling in their nature, I will not here write.
The idea that Brann was seeking a difficulty with Davis is certainly false. He had made his arrangements to go on a lecturing tour, had spent the day at his home, went to town about 4 o'clock that afternoon to get a shave, and on his return walked with his business manager, Mr. W. H. Ward, by the office in which Davis was sitting. Having passed the office a few steps, Davis stepped out and shot him in the back. This was the shot that killed him, and it was after receiving it that he turned, drew his revolver and opened fire upon his assailant.
Now as to Mr. Ward: He left Brann's house some time after Brann did, had joined the latter a few minutes before the firing, and was at the time walking by his side. When Davis fired, Ward jumped at him in an attempt to get his, Davis' pistol, caught hold of it over the muzzle and was shot through the hand. Ward was unarmed, having left his revolver in a grip at Mr. Brann's house. His hands were gloved and he had no idea of a difficulty at the time.
I state these facts not through any feeling of prejudice, having never been mixed up in the Brann-Baylor trouble, but solely in the interest of the truth. I can understand how an excited observer, seeing Mr. Ward extend his hand to get Davis' pistol and seeing immediately the fire of the same, might have thought that Ward did the shooting, and it was this mistake that caused his arrest.— Independent Pulpit.
To this I will only add, that neither Mr. Brann nor myself were in the slightest anticipation of trouble. He left home, having the boy to drive him down in his buggy, shortly before 4 o'clock on the afternoon of the tragedy. I awaited his return to drive to the train to meet my brother, whom I was expecting with a party of friends that evening. At 20 minutes to 6 o'clock he had not returned and I took the first car down, as several ladies who chanced to be at Mr. Brann's home will testify. I left the car at Fourth and Austin streets at about 6 o'clock, walked to Herz Bros., gave an order for some books, and met Mr. John Guerin, walked with him toward the depot, met Mr. Brann at the corner of Fourth street and Bankers' alley, chatted with him for a moment, when Mr. Guerin walked on, and Mr. Brann and myself crossed the street and walked towards Austin avenue. We had passed the place, where I afterwards learned Davis' office was located, about ten paces, when Davis came out and opened fire from the rear. His opening fire was the first warning of the trouble. We were walking side by side, conversing together, when the first shot was fired. That shot entered Mr. Brann's back, and caused his death. I will add, that I was unarmed, and had not removed my driving gloves, which were taken off when my wound was dressed, and had been with Mr. Brann not more than three minutes when the shooting occurred. These are the facts, as substantiated by the signed statement of over a score of eye-witnesses, the same now being in the hands of my attorneys, Messrs. Baker & Ross, and C. R. Sparks. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, therefore I shall have but little to say of Mr. Davis. My acquaintance with him was brief; I never met him but once—when he was shooting another man, IN THE BACK.
* * *
Reference has been made by Judge Gerald to the pathetic tragedy in Brann's life because of the loss of his daughter. The burden of sorrow which he bore is beautifully revealed: in the following account of that tragedy which was written by Brann.
THE LAST LESSON.
"Is there no stoning save with flint and rock? Yes, as the dead we weep for testify— No desolation but by sword and fire? Yes, as your moanings witness, and myself Am lonelier, darker, earthier for my loss."
Poor in gold and goods yet richer than fancy ever fabled in home and happiness, the young father toiled and hoarded his scant wage; the little mother denied herself a thousand things that women covet, and they said: "It is for her, our Inez, our fairy queen. Her feet shall find no thorns in life's path; a father's strength a mother's love shall fill it with sweetest flowers."
Beautiful to their eyes, and other eyes, was she, as Grecian sculptor's dream and still more beautiful when childhood's early years flashed by and the bud was bursting into womanhood's glorious bloom. No crowned empress so imperial seemed, yet pride so womanly and softened by such grace that each and all yielded sweet allegiance to her sway.
And they would sit and watch her at her books or play, drinking with greedy ear her admiring teacher's oft-told tale of triumphs won in classroom or on the green, and watched her comrades,—loving subjects they—weave crowns of flowers for her fair brow and hail her queen.
And so the days went by, toilsome yet happy days until, when scarce passed to her 'teens, the youthful swains began to sigh for her and bashful cast their tribute of flowers—such as they knew she loved—into the open door, then blushingly retreat, fearing cold comfort from her imperious eyes. And one there was of her own age, who seemed to haunt the street, until the mother noticed it and said:
"Daughter, what does he ever near the house?"
And the father fretted and spoke harshly of the boy, and sharply to his child saying: "You do encourage the little fool to haunt the place. Speak to him no more." And the daughter made reply:
"Father, I never spoke to him, nor he to me." And she arose, and taking her music roll went forth and the boy followed her.
"Our daughter deceives us!" cried the father fierce with rage; and he followed the twain.
"You have deceived me, Daughter!"
His voice was sharp, and, quailing before his wrath as though it were a blow, she gasped, "Oh, Father!" and returned with him in silence to their home.
And the little mother fretted and lectured her; but she sat silent, brooding upon the great wrong, and the queenly eyes were full of tears that seemed frozen by her pride and could not fall.
They never fell. The gust of anger from the doting father's lips, the breath of doubt of her dear word, and her little heart seemed broken quite; the world seemed desolate. The father's good-night kiss; the mother's tender solicitude were in vain,—the wound was too deep to heal. And while they slept and dreamed sweet dreams of her fair future she poured her heart out to the good God, who never doubted her, and leaving a little note that was a wailing cry of hopeless pain, passed by her own fair hand to the great beyond.
And the father kissed the dead lips of his first born and knew that he had killed her. And ever in his heart there is a cry, "I killed her!" And night and day that cold, sweet face doth haunt him; and day and night he hears that piteous cry, wrung from his child when he broke her heart, "Oh, Father!" and ever the little mother's lamentation goes up to heaven, "Our house is left unto us desolate!"
There is a class of men who take especial delight in pistol practice—when the "other fellow" furnishes the target. They shut their eyes and literally feel what is going on —see pistols flashing, as the man, with a well-developed Texas "jag," sees keyholes in the door at 3 o'clock A.M. —just legions of them. As a matter of fact when pistols are really cracking, powder actually burning and bullets sweetly singing "Nearer my God to Thee," these are the first to seek the sheltering arms of a two-foot wall— "most any old wall," so it won't leak lead.
. . .
I wish to call attention of the readers of the ICONOCLAST to the pack of journalistic jackals who are raising their illfamous howl over the body of Brann. As usual, when the lion is dead the hyena comes forth for a feast. Life is too short and the game too mean to justify individual firing, so I will take a pot-shot at the pock; these animals are so much alike in tastes, character and habits that one will typify all. I therefore call attention to "Majah" Burbanks of the New Orleans Picayune. The state Constitutional Convention has eliminated the negro from Louisiana politics. Had that body also placed journalism under the color ban they would have disposed of the "Majah" most effectively, and, I might add, to the entire satisfaction of all concerned; unless, indeed, the coons had objected to their company. So help me God, I would rather be a yellow dog, with an abbreviated narrative, and belong to a disreputable negro, than go around with my cowardly heart in my throat, fearing to look a man in the face while alive, then mercilessly assail his character after death. Bah! the mere existence of such creatures revolutionizes Darwin's theory—argues the survival of the unfittest.
. . .
It is well for the public to understand that the murder of W. C. Brann did not remove all of the abuses from which this country suffers, and the frauds and fakes which prey upon it. Assassination may shatter an instrument, but it cannot conquer a cause. There is still work for the iconoclast to do, and it will be done. It will continue to place its brand upon the forehead of the seducer, the whining hypocrite, the sniveling rogue, the confidence man, the fakir and the fool. It is proposed to show this country that the pistol is unconvincing as an argument and useless as a brake upon reform. Brann is dead; but there are men alive who lack his phenomenal ability, perhaps, but who share his deathless hatred of the rotten in morals and in politics. The mission for the ICONOCLAST is unchanged and unended. Its field is its own. It will be filled.
. . .
The man who seeks the American spirit must look for it in the South and West. He will not find it in the East. That part of our common country is inhabited by a nation of shopkeepers as distinct from the peoples of the other sections as the lion is distinct from the jackal. They are smooth-faced, snub-nosed rogues, tied to the counter and till, dollar-marked niederlings of the department stores, jack rabbits of wall street, coyotes of the boards of trade. If every man who has traded upon the distress of his country and the peril of his kinsfolk were to be shot this morning, the air of the North Atlantic states would be heavy with powder smoke. From that well kept and wearisome prostitute and buffoon, Chauncey Depew, down to the smallest operator of a bucket-shop, they are all tarred with the same brush—things in trousers who would sell their souls for coin. They own the President of this country, and they own many of the congressmen, having bought and paid for them.
. . .
America, I suppose, is as religious as its neighbors, but it is for the dollar first and for Christ afterward. Easter is a period devoted to commemoration of the saddest and noblest event in human history, the highest and most important event. It is used by thousands of our merchants, however, as a time specially devoted to making money. From the manufacturer of "Easter cards," to the maker of hot cross buns, the signs and symbols of religion are made the means of chasing the nimble 10-cent piece. The cross is the hall mark of printed sentiment, to be sold for a quarter, and the crucifixion is done over and over again in gingerbread. The ICONOCLAST may not get to heaven by the Baptist route or the Methodist route, or by any one of the thousand routes which "Christians" have been pleased to blaze out for sinners in the centuries since Christ died, but it is a long way above that kind of impiety— sacrilege is a better word for it.
. . .
How does the Republican party—the party of gold —look now, from fat Tom Reed at its head down to "Nancy" Green, son of Hetty Green, at its tail? Is it the party of patriotism? May it be trusted to uphold the honor of the nation? Is it honest? Is it even decent? Nay. I say that nine out of every ten Republican congressmen who voted for the intervention resolutions did so because they were driven to it by fear of outraged citizens, Democrats and Republicans alike, not because they were patriots. I say that the representatives of the Republican party are bound hand and foot to the millionaires of America. I say that the leaders of that party are without principle. The polls next November will show what the honest money and honest patriotism people of the nation think of the Republican party.
. . .
From the time that Fitzhugh Lee reached Washington the myrmidons of William McKinley sought to detract from his services to the country and to belittle his rugged patriotism and love of truth. The popinjay in the White House could not bear to listen to the roar of welcome that greeted him as he stepped from the train. It was like the oleaginous Ohio poltroon to inspire detraction of one who is his official inferior, and his superior in everything that goes to make a man. The Virginian is not intellectually great. He is plain of speech and manner. But he has carried high the unstained banner of the lees. He has stood to his post in the face of danger. He has bearded the traitorous Spaniard in his stronghold. He has demonstrated once that God never made a more courageous animal than the Southern gentleman. Beside such a man, the purchasable McKinleys and gross scoundrelly Hannas of the nation are dwarfs.
. . .
Dr. Dowie, of the Chicago "Zion," a place where faith cure fools who have cirrhosis of the liver are allowed to die for a consideration, has written a circular and sent out a million or two of copies. He wants every adult person in the United States to send him 50 cents, so that he can have money to send out more literature with which to catch more fools. The people of Chicago can confer a favor upon themselves and humanity at large by taking Dowie five miles out into Lake Michigan, tying three hundred pounds of scrap iron to his heels and dumping him overboard.
. . .
Mrs. Henrotin, president of the Federation of Women's Clubs, has telegraphed McKinley from Chicago that she, as the representative of that influential band of hens, cordially and heartily indorses everything he has ever done or thought of doing. It is proper to say that Mrs. Henrotin no more represents her sisters than I represent the W. C. T. U. She is only another instance of the modern highly developed female, eaten by an itch for writing and getting her name into the newspapers. The mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and sweethearts of America no more indorse William McKinley than they indorse any other coward. The women of the federated clubs are much like other women when they stop playing upon the ink bottle and begin playing upon the cook- stove. They have taken off Mrs. Henrotin's back hair, and she now eats her meals from the mantelpiece. All of which is proper.
. . .
Little Jimmy Eckles, Cleveland's undersized underling, got some handclaps and whoops from the Chicago Credit Men's Association when he addressed the members at the Grand Pacific Hotel on the night of April 12th. He talked about the business men's longing for war when the country is insulted, and these snipes and jack bailiffs of the big mercantile houses, warmed into drunken courage by gallons of cheap wine, yelped in unison. This auriferous insect, who was for four years comptroller of the currency, is remembered in Washington chiefly for a remarkable burst of speed displayed one night when his timorous mind conceived the idea that a somnolent hackman was going to rob him. He had his dress suit case in one hand and his plug hat in the other, and he covered three blocks in ten seconds. The cabby, whom he had hired, waked in time to discover the meteoric dash, and was the most puzzled man in the capital. Eckles is a warrior, and his credit giving, or refusing, listeners are all warriors.
. . .
J. Guy Smith, of Cotulla, was locally called, so I am informed, "Brann No. 2." Like most other men, he was far behind W. C. Brann in wealth of intellect, in largeness of heart, in charity, in his hatred of wrong and the oppressor. It appears, however, that he had the habit of speaking his mind and he was shot for it. Also that he was shot in the back.
. . .
Joe Leiter, the wheat speculator of Chicago, is followed about all day by detectives whom he has hired to protect him. I do not know if anyone contemplates giving him his deserts, but since he has used his inherited millions to make bread dearer in thousands of poor mouths, he should be whipped twice a day for a month. Under a properly constituted and administered government, Leiter and his kind would be sent to the penitentiary at hard labor. He is as much a robber as any brigand of the Italian passes, and as much of a thief as any pickpocket in America.
. . .
A great many people imagine that "your Uncle Sam" will frazzle hell's bells out of Spain in one word and two motions, that all of this preparation for threatened conflict with Spain is much ado about little; that the United States will get up early some morning and administer the paternal slipper to the Spanish pantaloon, simply by way of diversion or to get up an appetite for breakfast. The result of the scrap may show that the job had best be undertaken after a square meal.
. . .
As the war is not yet on I rise to remark that it is my sincere wish that those who have lost a scrap may find it —that those who have clamored so hard and so long for hostilities to begin, may find standing room only in the theater of war, and be given positions in the full glare of the footlight, with a corporal's guard behind them, to see that they do not strike a retrograde motion when the curtain rises on the first act.
[This completes the last issue of the ICONOCLAST. The publication of the paper was not continued, though evidently this was intended when the May issue was printed. The following articles were written shortly after the death of Brann but did not appear in the ICONOCLAST.]
THE DEATH OF BRANN.
BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY.
Mr. Brann, who was killed in Waco last Friday, was a much greater man than even his admirers knew. He had many virtues which, in a way, his peculiar tactics in journalism belied. For instance, his paper was read, for the most part, by people who took a delight in his calling a spade a spade, and, in fact, in his seeking out spades to write about. This was not the true Brann at all. The man was clean-minded in his conversation. He thought cleanly. He lived cleanly as a gentleman should, though he did not leave off sack. He was not a brawling, boisterous ruffian, reveling in the slums. He was essentially a family man and a student who "scorned delights and lived laborious days." His regard for the purity of women amounted almost to a monomania, and he lived up to his own preachment on all the various forms of integrity with much more strictness than people who affected to believe he was leper. Furthermore the man was an ascetic in his essential spirit. He had the true taste for the finely done thing in letters and if he did not devote himself to what might be called the more refined literary artistry, it was because he felt that there was danger of drawing too fine the lessons he thought it his duty to impart. There was no use, he said, in writing to the few. One should write so that all might read, running. He maintained that the way to instill principles in the people was to secure their attention first, and he did not hesitate to secure their attention by any device that seemed available. Therefore he felt himself justified in appealing to the lower instincts in men in order that, while they were all unsuspecting, he might inculcate something better. And so there ran through his publication the strangest contrasts of sweetness and salacity, of eloquence and bombast, of purity and pornography, of jewel-phrases and gutter slang, excerpts of enthralling poetry and brothel billingsgate. He pointed his morals with putridity and he adorned his really beautiful style with barbarities and banalities which make one shudder. He set his fine thoughts like jewels in compost. He ravished the classics to mix them up with sentences that stunk of the stews. The man seemed to indulge in special flights of poesy with no other purpose than to achieve a disgusting anti-climax of muckery and mockery. The person who read Brann intelligently was impressed most by this habit of irony in the Waconian. It was of the essence of his iconoclasm. He had something in his effects in this line that was piteous. There was no denying his appreciation of the pure air, of the beautiful in life and nature, of the truth as thinkers see and feel it. It seemed to me that when he had soared up towards the ever vanishing ideal, he reached a point whereat he turned in disgust and hurled himself madly back to the dungiest part of this dungy earth. There was a mighty dissatisfaction, even a despair, in Brann, and a touch of sadness in his writing as in his face. The more I read of his deliberate pandering to the literarily excrementitious appetite, the more I saw, or thought I saw, that he was afflicted with a mighty ennui, and was chiefly trying to escape from his own torture as one who knew not whether solace was to be found either in the spiritual or the earthly nature of man. Such a one as he might have been expected to take up any cause that assailed the existing condition of things politically and sociologically. While he was an ascetic his asceticism was only a wreaking of his own bitterness upon himself. He was a man in whom strong emotions were easily excited and he put into his writing all the passion which he suppressed in his dealings with his fellows socially. He never felt malice towards people whom he assailed most maliciously. He saw them simply as representatives of some fault in our social or political system, and he felt that he was doing his duty by his own conception of what the world should be, by pillorying them as object lessons of characters to be eliminated in his good time coming. When he saw a foul wrong he saw it personified in some man or woman. Then he went abroad in search of foul things to say about it. And he found them and he hurled them at the object, and he polluted the atmosphere for a mile around. When he wrote about the abstractions of poetry and philosophy he wrote with a sweeping, swinging rhythm that thrilled anyone. He was master of the diapason. His ear was not attuned particularly to minor chords. He loved cyclonic clashes of words and he would strike out fecal flashes to illuminate them. His correggiosity was at times overpowering. His vocabulary overcame him often, bore him away from his thought and landed him in some swamp out of which he was wont to extricate himself, to the great delight of the semi-educated reader by some quip or quirk equally meretricious and mephitic. Thus would he, metaphorically, throw filth at himself. He felt all the time that he was pursuing the best course, bending things he despised and loathed to better purposes. Mr. Brann believed that the country was, if not in itself decadent and degenerate, under the control of decadent, degenerate and depraved men. He believed that society was a social cesspool. He thought that most religion was hypocrisy. He believed that most wealth represented nothing more than the superior and diabolic genius of dishonesty. So believing he so preached and he preached with a vehemence that was in a sense vicious. His terribly irony made his work an engine of anarchy. Not that he meant anarchy at all, but because the people who were caught by his banalities could not differentiate sufficiently to extract the core of truth from the great superstructure of extravagances with which he hid it. Mr. Brann meant only to lift the world up, and one of his queer conceptions was, that his own dragging down of things pure to the lowest levels of life and thought and feeling was calculated to make his multitudinous clientele look upward. He was mistaken. He came to know it, too, for he said to me one evening, "I am only a fad." "I'll pass away when my vogue is done, like brick pomeroy." He wished he could believe that the best way to help people up was to take a stand and view a little above them. He said, when it was suggested that he try this tack, that he feared it was too late. Not that he wholly abandoned his belief in his own plan, but it seemed to me that he felt sorry that once attention could be attracted by being shocking it could only be held by a continuance of the shocks.
. . .
In my personal dealings with Mr. Brann I found him a person of almost feminine fineness. It was amusing to meet him after some particularly atrocious issue of the ICONOCLAST, either personally or by letter, and have him "roar as gently as a sucking dove." In such moods he revealed a character that was really sweet—though I must apologize for that misused word. He was impressed with the pity of life. He loved to toy intellectually with subtleties of thought. He had intuitions in art and poetry, and music touched him truly and deeply. I never have seen such a gentle man with women and his estimate of woman, either in conversation or writing, was a high and noble one. If at times he wrote so that his conception of virtuous womanhood was unpleasantly associated with ideas that revolted you, it was his peculiar belief that purity was all the purer for the contrast and antithesis. He loved children, too, and in his more familiar moods, according to his intimates, he was like one whose heart was as a little child. He cared no more for money after he began to make it than he cared in his bohemian days when he was readier to give than to take. He loved his friends blindly. He did not hate his enemies, he despised them. He had all the manly virtues, courage, generosity, modesty. Yes, modesty; for egoism such as he had was not foolish pride. His egotism was only his own force asserting itself. His friendship was almost foolish. He praised too generously. He was inclined to help everybody he could and I am sure that he never assailed anyone or anything that did not represent to him uncharity and snobbery. He was not envious. His mind was on the Texas scale; he knew no meanness. His was Kentucky origin and he was tainted with Kentucky's quixotism. He loved liberty and he loved love. He was the friend of the people as he dreamed they should be. He was the advocate of the greatest enlargement of rights. With little of what he strove for in immediate political issues did I sympathize. He believed more in what is called socialism than I do, but he believed it most earnestly. He was the greatest force in this country, with his 80,000 issues of his magazine per month, for all the things that go with free silver. His following included all the thinking followers of Bryan and his work had no little effect, in its powerful music and color, upon many people to whom Bryanism represented the political abomination of desolation.
. . .
As to the manner of Mr. Brann's death there is only to be said that he expected it. He judged from the characters of those he attacked, that they would assassinate him. He died as he expected to die, without any cringing to his enemies. Some people he attacked who did not deserve his vitriolic attentions, but he thought they did. In the main he scourged and sacrificed only those who deserved. The manner in which he was killed and the cause in which he was killed—the cause of an institution in which a girl was debauched in the name of Christ and turned out of doors to starve to the glory of religion—glorify him. He who fought in the open was shot by a sneak from behind. The sneak himself was shot in his act of cowardice. Mr. Brann was brilliant and brave. He partook of the qualities of the men who immortalized the Alamo. He was the first man who identified Texas with thought. He loved Texas so well that he defended the code of private and public mobbery for righting wrongs. To that cruel coward code he fell a victim. With all his faults as I see them, I can think of him only as worthy of being buried in some high place, to the strains of Sigfried's Funeral March, and can only say, with Browning of the dead "grammarian"—
Here, here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, lightnings are loosened Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm, peace let the day send! Lofty designs must close in life effects: loftily lying, Leave him—still loftier than the world suspects, living and dying. —The Mirror for April 7, 1898.
A CONSIDERATION OF ALLEGED CHIVALRY.
Some person has sent me a marked copy of the New Orleans Picayune, the marked matter being an editorial substantially approving the manner of the taking off of Mr. Brann, the editor of the Iconoclast.
Granted that, as the Picayune declares, Mr. Brann wantonly attacked spotless reputation, that decency and purity were not sacred to him—an assumption, by the way, that is a rank injustice to Mr. Brann's memory— let us see about this matter of private vengeance which the Picayune approves.
Are there not laws in all the states against libel? Are there not laws against publishing obscene and defamatory matter? If there be, then what justification can there be for private vengeance? What is the use of laws if men on any provocation may set aside those laws and set themselves above them and execute the person who may have offended, or who may be imagined to have offended them? If private vengeance is to prevail what is to prevent any person construing any criticism into a mortal offense and assassinating the critic, even though the critic be palpably and undeniably criticizing for the public good? When the individual is made the judge, jury and executioner of whomsoever displeases him, what becomes of law, of order, of civilization? There is not a day in the year that one could not justify the murder of a hundred editors, if the rightfulness of the killing were determinable solely by what the killers thought of the criticisms against them in the papers controlled by those one hundred editors.
If we can tolerate a state of society in which any man, for what seems to him good and sufficient reason, for anything from biting the thumb at him to jesting about his whiskers, may take the life of another, why shall we not tolerate the man who will take another's property because the taker deems the other has too much or has unjustly accumulated what he has?
What is the result of this sanction of private vengeance? It is anarchy. Pursued to the ultimate of its logic it means that every man is a law unto himself and the justice of an execution rests upon nothing but the opinion, or delusion, of the executioner. What one man might call a trifle might, to another man, call for blood. You could kill a man because his boots creaked or his eyes squinted or he wore the wrong shade of your favorite color in his necktie. Ridiculous? Not at all. Liking or disliking any of these trifling things is only a matter of personal preference. They may be as distasteful to one person as the tone of an editorial is to another. If a man may rightly kill a writer, like Mr. Brann, why would it not be right for someone to kill any editor? At one time there was talk in the south of killing the late Joseph B. McCullagh for his editorials. How if Senator Hanna were to "go gunning" for the editorial "roasters" of himself, or for the malevolent cartoonist? Mr. Brann attacked hypocritic preachers, snide politicians, shoddy society people, shyster lawyers. He did it in, to me, an exaggerated manner, but he felt that such manner was necessary to arouse the people. Were Brann's blasts against Baylor University intrinsically worse, more a license of the press than let us say the assaults of the New York World, the New York Journal or the Post Dispatch upon Pierpont Morgan and the trusts? And yet, if any trust magnate, crucified as a blood-sucker on the poor, were to shoot the editor of one of these sheets, he would be howled to the hangman's noose. The trust magnate would be told he should have had recourse to law. But in the south, no—Mr. Brann was rightfully assassinated. No law for him! Why? Because Mr. Brann assailed a few southern "josses." If Mr. Brann were justly slain then the next person who may dislike an editorial in the Picayune may kill its editor on the ground that the editorial—no matter how trifling in its imputation—is "carrion journalism." This law of chivalric private vengeance would justify a saturnalia of murder in every large city where gossip circulates in society. The chivalry of it! A man has written something he deems to be true and comments upon it as he deems it his duty in a quasi public capacity. Everyone who does not like the article can "take a pop at him." But, says the chivalrous Picayune, the law of private vengeance does not apply to anything save grave offenses in scurrility. Ah! The offensiveness of a criticism is only a matter of individual capacity for pain or humiliation. The trifle is only a trifle, because a man thinks it so. It may become a thing of importance at any time if you leave the decision of its importance solely to the judgment of the man who is going to resent it.
Private vengeance makes for the creation of a caste of bulldozers. Let it become known in a community that criticism is an invitation to death, and who profit? Not the men of spotless reputation. Not the decent and pure elements of the community. Not at all. The ruffian gang in politics profits. The sanctimonious crooks profit. The seducer and betrayer, who is a dead-shot, profits. Every social and civic iniquity flourishes under this dominance of the law of private vengeance. All the people who deserve criticism are ready to shoot. They are the judges of their own spotless reputations. They will kill the man who spots it. So it is that in almost every southern city there has grown up a class of political brahmins absolutely secure from criticism that counts. Take New Orleans. The papers feared for years to breathe a breath of attack against the "spotless reputations" of its leaders. The story of the corruption that developed is too well known to require telling. After all, it is not the people of spotless reputation who are assailed in the papers. Whenever anyone is assailed the chances are there is ground for the assault, and there is at least a prima facie evidence that attack or exposure is necessary in the interest of public morality. Any reputation would be spotless if no one dared attack it. If it were high crime to assail people vigorously how would dishonor, debauchery, fraud and crime in high places ever be brought to light. If the right of private vengeance shall prevail in any community then the ruffians and blackguards may pursue their nefarious ends unhampered because of the terror they inspire by threats to shoot their critics. This recognition of the right of the individual to punish, by the infliction of death, the person who has injured him, puts the community at the mercy of the worst elements in it. It is the extension of the barbarism of lynch law. It makes every man, who wants to be one, a mob. It develops the idea of savagery in revenge to such an extent that the individual executioner of the offender against himself does not hesitate to wreak his vengeance from behind. It promotes assassination.