Aspersions upon the virtue of women are certainly indefensible on any imaginable ground. They demand often a punishment which the law is inadequate to provide. They cannot be ignored. They constitute the exceptions which confirm the rule that it is well to let the law punish slanderers. And in general men are expected to protect to the last extremity the reputations of the women of their family and their acquaintance. The person who attacks publicly or privately the virtue of a woman deserves the limit of vengeance, for the publicity of legal proceedings toward punishment only aggravates the original wrong. Mr. Brann did not attack the virtue of girl-students at Baylor University. He attacked the administration of that institution and the killing of him was the result of a distorted view of the trend of his criticisms. If it were believed that he assailed the virtue of girl-students at Baylor he would not have a single mourner in the southwest. And no man in any part of the United States can have a following of respectable people, if he defames women. The feeling of reverence for woman is so general that it is often a defense for personal violence against writers who never dream of attacking feminine honor. Aside from the fact that death is too light a punishment for the man who attacks womanly chastity, the law of private vengeance is not sweepingly and invariably to be condemned. I am not liberal enough in recognition of the great fact of human nature to admit that the objection to private vengeance is mainly an objection to the recognition of the right of individual execution of the death penalty for any criticism. Men ought not to be shot for criticisms of public institutions. It would be foolish to argue against the fact that men occasionally feel called upon to resent criticism by an appeal to battle without weapons. The killing of critics at the whim of the criticized is the evil against which protest is made. Plain assault and battery is easily defensible on the ground that no one can be expected always to have his temper in control. It makes writers careful, and it is not followed by the regret which follows killing. Writers are expected to keep within bounds in their criticisms, and even then they are certain to generate ill feeling in the criticized and their friends, but so long as the offense is not murderous of reputation and mortally malevolent the private execution of writers is an offense not to be condoned on a mistaken interpretation of chivalry. For all sins of journalistic criticism, outside of the diabolism of blasting reputations for virtue, the law provides adequate remedy, and if it does not, then it were idle to say that the exasperated victims of criticism should not have recourse to their fists, although decent criticism, free from malice, addressed to people in position semi-public would not seem to call for violence under pretense of resenting something much worse. As a rule I should say that the criticism which does not call for extreme and desperate punishment calls for no notice at all, or if it does, in the case of men, there are laws, civil and criminal, that cover the case, with ample punishment for the offense. This is the practical view of the remedies against "carrion journalism."
A public sentiment strong enough to support private vengeance is strong enough to support the law. There are laws for the punishment of slander. More rigorous laws could be enforced. If the people hate slanderers bitterly enough to kill them, then they should hate them enough to see that the laws against slander are enforced. The moral sentiment that can sustain the one could sustain the other. But the individual execution of vengeance is a turning away from the law. It is the fostering of the bully and the killer for drunken pastime. It is a bulwark for boodlers, blackguards, frauds and lechers. It gives rein to individual passion without limit. Such chivalry is barbarism.—Pasquin.
BRANN, THE FOOL.
BY ELBERT HUBBARD, EDITOR OF THE PHILISTINE.
It's a grave subject. Brann is dead. Brann was a fool. The fools were the wisest men at court; and Shakespeare, who dearly loved a fool, placed his wisest sayings into the mouths of men who wore the motley. When he adorned a man with a cap and bells it was as though he had given bonds for both that man's humanity and intelligence. Neither Shakespeare nor any other writer of books ever dared to depart so violently from truth as to picture a fool whose heart was filled with perfidy.
The fool is not malicious. Stupid people may think he is, because his language is charged with the lightning's flash; but they are the people who do not know the difference between an incubator and an egg plant.
Touchstone, with unfailing loyalty, follows his master with quip and quirk, into exile. When all, even his daughters, have forsaken King Lear, the fool bares himself to the storm and covers the shaking old man with his own cloak. And when in our own day we meet the avatars of Trinculo, Costard, Mercutio and Jacques, we find they are men of tender susceptibilities, generous hearts and intellects keen as a rapier's point.
Brann was a fool.
Brann shook his cap, flourished his bauble, gave a toss to that fine head, and with tongue in cheek, asked questions and propounded conundrums that stupid hypocrisy could not answer. So they killed Brann.
. . .
Brann was born in obscurity. Very early he was cast upon the rocks and nourished at the she-wolf's teat.
He graduated at the university of hard knocks and during his short life took several post-graduate courses.
He had been wage-earner, printer's-devil, printer, pressman, editor.
He knew the world of men, the struggling, sorrowing, hoping, laughing, sinning world of men. And to those whom God had tempted beyond what they could bear, his heart went out. He read books with profit, and got great panoramic views out into the world of art and poetry; dreaming dreams and sending his swaying filament of thought out and out, hoping it would somewhere catch and he would be in communication with another world.
Discreet and cautious little men are known by the company they keep. The fool was not particular about his associates; children, sick people, insane folks, rich or poor —it made no difference to him. He sometimes even sat at meat with publicans and sinners.
He was a mystic and lived in the ideal. This deeply religious quality in his nature led him into theology, and he became a clergyman—a Baptist clergyman.
But no church is large enough to hold such a man as this; the fool quality in his nature outcrops, and the jingle of bells makes sleep to the chief pew-holder impossible.
So the fool had to go.
Then he founded that unique periodical, which, in three years, attained a circulation of 90,000 copies. This paper was not used for pantry shelves, lamp lighters, or other base utilitarian purposes. It cost ten times as much as a common newspaper, and the people who bought it read it until it was worn out. All the things in this paper were not truth; mixed up amid a world of wit were often extravagance and much bad taste. It was only a fool's newspaper!
In this periodical the fool railed and jeered and stated facts about smirking complacency, facts so terrible that folks said they were indecent. He flung his jibes at stupidity, and stupidity sought to answer criticism by assassination.
Texas has a libel law patterned after the libel law of the State of New York. If a man takes from you your good name you can put him behind prison bars and place shutters over the windows of his place of business.
The people who thought Brann had injured them did not invoke the law. They invoked Judge Lynch——
A mob seized the fool, and, placing a rope about his neck, led him naked through the October night, out to the theological seminary, which they declared he had traduced.
There they smote him with the flat of their hands, and spat upon him. It was their intention to hang the fool, but better counsel prevailed, and on his signing, in terrorem, a document they placed before him, they gave him warning to depart to another state. And on his promising to do so, they let him go.
But the next day he refused to leave; and his flashing wit still filled the air, now embittered through the outrage visited upon him.
His enemies held prayer-meetings, invoking divine aid for the fool's conversion—or extinction. One man quoted David's prayer concerning Shimmei: "bring thou down his hoar head to the grave in blood!" And others still, prayed, "let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."
But still the fool flourished his bauble.
Then they shot him.
That hand which wrote the most Carlylean phrase of any in America is cold and stiff. That teeming brain which held a larger vocabulary than that of any man in America is only clay that might stop a hole to keep the wind away. That soul through which surged thoughts too great for speech has gone a-journeying.
Brann is dead.
No more shall we see that lean, clean, homely face, with its melancholy smile. No more shall we hear the fool eloquently, and oh! so foolishly, plead the cause of the weak, the unfortunate, the vicious. No more shall we behold the tears of pity glisten in those sad eyes as his heart was wrung by the tale of suffering and woe.
His children are fatherless, his wife a widow.
Brann the Fool is dead.—The Mirror. April 14th, 1898.
* * * WILLIAM COWPER BRANN.
BY J. D. SHAW.
William Cowper Brann was born in Humboldt Township, Coles County, Illinois, January 4, 1855. He was not raised in the home of his parents, though his father, Rev. Noble Brann, survived him, and is still living. His mother having died when he was two and a half years old, he was within the next six months placed in the care of Mr. William Hawkins, a Coles County farmer, with whom he lived about ten years. As to his childhood experiences on the Hawkins' farm nothing is now known. They were probably such as are common to children raised in the country. Of Mr. Hawkins he always spoke kindly, referring to him as "Pa Hawkins." His nature was not suited to farm life, however, and he finally made up his mind to see more of the world, hence without ever having disclosed his resolution to any one, he quietly walked away one dark and cheerless night, carrying in a small box under his arm all that he then possessed, and leaving behind him the friends of his childhood in the only place he had ever known as his home, thus entering upon the active struggle of life at thirteen years of age, without friends, destitute of means, and almost entirely uneducated.
The first position he obtained was that of bell boy in a hotel. Later on he learned to be a painter and grainer, then a printer, a reporter, and finally an editorial writer. He was energetic, industrious and painstaking in whatever he undertook to do, therefore always employed. Early in his struggle he realized the need of an education, in the acquirement of which he applied himself with eager diligence. Nature had endowed him with keen perceptive powers, a retentive memory and great mental vigor, by means of which he soon accumulated considerable knowledge. Every moment that could be spared from his daily toil was spent in reading books of science, philosophy, history, biography and general literature. In this way he became thoroughly informed on almost every important subject, as will be seen by the contents of his writings.
On March 3, 1877, at Rochelle, Illinois, he was married to Miss Carrie Martin, who, with their two children, Grace Gertrude and William Carlyle is now living in the beautiful home, here at Waco, from which he was buried April 3, 1898.
During all the years, from the time he left the hospitable home of Mr. Hawkins, in 1868, until after he had successfully launched "Brann's ICONOCLAST," he suffered the harassing annoyances of extreme poverty, in the endurance of which he was cheerful, hopeful and diligent in the equipment of his mind preparatory to the work he always believed he would some day be able to accomplish.
Beginning his literary career as a reporter, he was soon made an editorial writer, in which capacity he became well-known throughout Illinois, Missouri and Texas. As such he was versatile, forceful and direct. There was no needless repetition of tiresome circumlocution in his composition. He possessed an inexhaustible vocabulary, from which he could always find the words best fitted to convey his meaning at the moment they were most needed, and every sentence was resplendent with an order of wit, humor and satire peculiar to a style original with himself.
In July, 1891, he issued at Austin, Texas, the first number of "Brann's ICONOCLAST." Only a few numbers appeared, when it was suspended and he resumed his editorial work, then on the Globe-Democrat, of St. Louis, Missouri, and later on the Express of San Antonio, Texas. It was in connection with his first attempt to establish the ICONOCLAST that he delivered a few lectures that were well received. In later years he went upon the platform again with every prospect of a successful career in the lecture field.
In the summer of 1894, he settled here in Waco, and, in February of the following year, revived the ICONOCLAST, which was successful from the first issue, having reached, at the time of his death, a circulation of ninety thousand copies. It was through the ICONOCLAST that his genius found full scope for development, and that he became best known to the public. In its columns he dared to be himself. There was now no restraint imposed upon him by timorous publishers. It belonged to him, and in it he gave full wing to his own thought. It was this intellectual freedom, sustained by the magic power and personality of a real genius, that gave to it such widespread popularity.
Mr. Brann has been classed as a humorist. This he was, and of a type peculiar to himself, but he was not content with merely having amused or entertained the people, he aspired to arouse public sentiment in the interest of certain reforms. He was a hater of shams and defied every form of fraud, hypocrisy and deceit. He made of his humor a whip with which to scourge from the temple of social purity every intruder there. He joined in no partisan schemes for place or power, but, confident of his own ground, he would stand alone in the defiance of popular humbugs and frauds. This heroic independence, while admired by many, made him a mark for the envy and hatred of such as feared him, and in the end proved to be the cause of his death.
But with all his uncompromising hatred of shams, there beat in the bosom of W. C. Brann a warm and generous heart for the world at large, and no man was ever a more devoted friend to the poor and needy. No beggar was ever turned away from his door empty handed, and no worthy cause ever asked his help in vain. His religion was to do whatever he believed to be right, and to defy the wrong even though it should be found parading in the garb and livery of righteousness.
Mr. Brann was fond of nature. He loved the mountains, the lakes, the rivers and the billowy sea. He loved to walk amid forest trees and watch the birds fly from bough to bough and warble their songs of love, but in all the wide, wide world, his home life was the most sacred object of his devotion, and when prosperity gave him the means to do so he found great delight in making it beautiful and pleasant. He was fond of his friends, but the love he bore his wife and children was sublimely beautiful, tender and affectionate.
His sudden death was a shock not only to his immediate friends, but to the hundreds of thousands who knew him through the ICONOCLAST. Walking quietly along the street, talking with a friend, he was shot in the back by one T. E. Davis, a partisan on the Baylor side of the Brann-Baylor trouble.
After receiving, without warning, his death wound, Mr. Brann turned upon his assailant, drew a revolver and vindicated his courage by delivering his fire with such deadly aim as to leave Davis in the throes of death, which came to his relief about twenty hours after the fray.
Mr. Brann received three wounds, from the first of which he died at 1:55 a.m., April 2nd, surrounded by his family and many sympathizing friends.
The impression has gone abroad that Mr. Brann was without friends and admirers in Waco. The falsity of this impression was made manifest, by the funeral attendance, said, and generally believed, to have been the largest ever seen here.
He was a believer in religion, therefore, it was not improper that a religious service was held, conducted by Rev. Frank Page, D.D., of the Episcopal church, though the writer, acting in according with the wishes of the family, spoke a few words at the grave.
In Oakwood Cemetery the body of Brann was laid to rest in the embrace of our common mother earth, and under a mound of floral offerings, which though profuse and costly were but a feeble expression of the sincere grief that struck dumb with awe the thousands upon thousands who had learned to love him with an affection accorded to few men.
. . .
My position as to Mr. Brann's style of journalism has been freely expressed, and while he was still alive. I do not approve of all he saw fit to write, nor of the spirit in which he wrote, but that he was a real genius and a benefactor of his race cannot be denied. It was with him, as it is with all men of his type, he made strong and bitter enemies, still his friends and admirers were numbered by thousands, I may safely say hundreds of thousands.
The purposes, direction and character of the ICONOCLAST were in many respects different from those of this Pulpit, nevertheless there was between Mr. Brann and myself a strong tie of friendship that, so far as I know, never suffered the breach of a single moment, and I sincerely mourn his loss as a personal friend whose kindly greetings were to me as glimpses of the sun on a winter's day.
Of humble birth, beset by poverty and environed by many difficulties, he applied himself to the study of literature with such diligence as to acquire abilities possessed by few, and when once equipped for the field he occupied with such consummate skill, no power of prejudice could keep him from rising like a star of the first magnitude. Alas! how soon that star has been obscured and by what ignoble means! But, against great odds, its brief existence was characterized by a brilliancy that no prejudice or hatred can ever obliterate.
Having dealt candidly with Mr. Brann while living, I will not now ignore the fact that he had faults, and his inability to overcome these marred, here and there, the splendor of his intellectual achievements. His faults, though, were of a kind that may be permitted to pass into the grave with his body. His virtues were many, and for these he was loved, despite the imperfections he could not always control. His services to mankind were numerous and they were rendered with a devotion as ardent as that of a lover; for these he will be remembered, nor can any power rob him of his fame as a literary genius—a poet, a humorist and a satirist.
Lectures and Addresses of Brann.
SPEAKING OF GALL.
Gall is a bitter subject, and I shall waste no time selecting sweet words in which to handle it. There's no surplus of sweet words in my vocabulary anyhow. I have never yet been able to rent my mouth for a taffy mill. Webster gives several definitions of Gall; but the good old etymologist was gathered to his fathers long before the word attained its full development and assumed an honored place in the slang vernacular of the day. It was needed. It fills what editors sometimes call a "long-felt want." Gall is sublimated audacity, transcendent impudence, immaculate nerve, triple-plated cheek, brass in solid slugs. It is what enables a man to borrow five dollars of you, forget to repay it, then touch you for twenty more. It is what makes it possible for a woman to borrow her neighbor's best bonnet, then complain because it isn't the latest style or doesn't suit her particular type of beauty. It is what causes people to pour their troubles into the ears of passing acquaintances instead of reserving them for home consumption. It is what makes a man aspire to the governorship, or to air his asininity in the Congress of the United States when he should be fiddling on a stick of cordwood with an able-bodied buck-saw. It is what leads a feather-headed fop, with no fortune but his folly, no prospects but poverty—who lacks business ability to find for himself bread—to mention marriage to a young lady reared in luxury, to ask her to leave the house of her father and help him fill the land with fools. Gall is what spoils so many good ditchers and delvers to make peanut politicians and putty-headed professional men. It is what puts so many men in the pulpit who could serve their Saviour much better planting the mild- eyed potato or harvesting the useful hoop-pole. It is what causes so many young ladies to rush into literature instead of the laundry—to become poets of passion instead of authors of pie.
Gall is a very common ailment. In fact, a man without a liberal supply of it is likely to be as lonesome in this land as a consistent Christian at a modern camp-meeting, or a gold-bug Democrat in Texas. Nearly everybody has it and is actually proud of it. When a young man is first afflicted with the tender passion; when he is in the throes of the mysterious mental aberration that would cause him to climb a mesquite bush and lasso the moon for his inamorata if she chanced to admire it, he is apt to think it love that makes the world go round. Later he learns that Gall is the social dynamics—the force that causes humanity to arise and hump itself.
Gall has got the world grabbed. Politics is now a high- class play, whose pawns are power and plunder; business is becoming but a gouge-game wherein success hallows any means. Our mighty men are most successful marauders; our social favorites minister in the temple of Mammon, our pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night the follies and foibles of the "Four Hundred," our God the Golden Calf. The standard by which society now measures men is the purse; that by which it gauges greatness the volume of foolish sound which the aspirant for immortal honors succeeds in setting afloat, little caring whether it be such celestial harp music as caused Thebe's walls to rise, or the discordant bray of the ram's horn which made Jericho's to fall. This century, which proudly boasts itself "heir to all the ages and foremost in the files of time," doffs its beaver to brazen effrontery, burns its sweetest incense on the unhallowed shrine of pompous humbuggery, while modest merit is in a more pitiable predicament than the traditional tomcat in Tartarus without teeth or toenails.
We make manifest our immeasureable Gall by proclaiming from the housetops that, of all the ages which have passed o'er the hoary head of Mother Earth, the present stands preeminent; that of all the numberless cycles of Time's mighty pageant there was none like unto it—no, not one. And I sincerely hope there wasn't. Perhaps that which induced the Deity to repent him that he had made man and send a deluge to soak some of the devilment out of him, was the nearest approach to it. We imagine that because we have the electric telegraph and the nickel-plated dude, the printing press and the campaign lie, the locomotive and the scandal in high life; that because we now roast our political opponent instead of the guileless young missionary, and rob our friends by secret fraud instead of despoiling our foes by open force, that we are the people par-excellence and the Lord must be proud of us.
Progress and improvement are not always synonyms. A people may grow in Gall instead of grace. I measure a century by its men rather than by its machines, and we have not, since civilization took its boasted leap forward, produced a Socrates or a Shakespeare, a Phidias or an Angelo, a Confucius or a Christ. This century runs chiefly to Talmages and Deacon Twogoods, pauper dukes and divorce courts—intellectual soup and silk lingerie.
. . .
The poets no longer sing of the immortal gods, of war and sacrifice, while the flame mounts to manhood's cheek, red as the fires of Troy: They twitter of lovies and dovies, of posies and goose-liver pie, while pretty men applaud and sentimental maids get moonsick. Cincinnatus no longer waits for the office to seek the man: He sells his brace of bullocks and buys a political boom. No more the Spartan mother gives her long black hair for bow- strings: She blondines it, paints, powders and tries to pass as the younger sister of her eldest daughter. The Norse viking no longer plows the unknown wave, his heart wilder than the wat'ry waste, his arm stronger than tempered steel: He comes to America and starts a saloon. No more the untamed Irish king caroms on the Saxon invader with a seasoned shillalah: He gets on the police force and helps "run the machine," or clubs the head off the harmless married man who won't go home till morning. In these degenerate days the philosopher retires not to the desert, and there, by meditation most profound, wrings from the secret treasure-house of his own superior soul, jewels to adorn his age and enrich the world: He mixes an impossible plot with a little pessimism, adds a dude and a woman whose moral character has seen better days, spills the nauseous compound on the public as a "philosophical novel" and works the press for puffs. Indeed we're progressing; going onward and upward— like the belled buzzard dodging a divorce scandal. Greece had her Pericles, but it was left for us to produce a Parkhurst. Rome had her Cicero and her Caesar, but was never equal to a Culberson or a Corbett. The princes of old conquered the earth, but the modern plutocrats put a mortgage on it. Cleopatra drank pearls dissolved in wine, but whisky straight is said to be good enough for some of her successors. Samson slew the Philistines with a jawbone of an ass; but a modern politician, employing the self-same weapon, would have got 'em to elect him governor. We've got no Helen of Troy; but our "Hell'n Blazes" is a bird o' the same feather. We've got to yield the palm in poetry and philosophy, art and architecture; but when it comes to building political platforms that straddle every important issue and slinging princely style on a pauper income we're out of sight.
How can the acorn become a mighty forest monarch if planted in a pint pot and crossed with a fuzzy-wuzzy chrysanthemum? How can the Numidian lion's whelp become a king of beasts if reared in a cage and fed on cold potatoes, muzzled and made to dance to popular music? How can the superior soul expand until it becomes all-embracing, god-like, a universe in itself, in which rings sweet sphere-music and rolls Jovinian thunder—in which blazes true Promethean fire instead of smolders the sulphurous caloric of the nether world—when its metes and bounds are irrevocably fixed for it—when it can only grow in certain prescribed directions, painfully mapped out for it by bumptious pismires who imagine that their little heads constitute the intellectual Cosmos?
. . .
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, lamented that he lacked Gall; but the melancholy Dane was dead years before the present generation of titled snobs appeared upon the scene. None of the princes or dukes of the present day appear to be short on Gall; none of the nobility seem to be suffering for lack of it. Not long ago a little Duke who owes his title to the fact that his great-grand-aunt was the paramour of a half-wit prince, kindly condescended to marry an American girl to recoup his failing fortunes. A little French guy whose brains are worth about two cents a pound—for soap-grease—put up a Confederate-bond title for the highest bidder and was bought in like a hairless Mexican pup by an American plutocrat. Now half-a-dozen more little pauper princelings and decadent dukelings are trying to trade their worthless coronets for American cash. But the fact that many a man boasting of his American sovereignty will dicker with a titled young duke, instead of using the forecastle of a No. 9 foot to drive his spinal column up through his plug-hat like a presidential lightning-rod; will actually purchase for his daughter some disgusting little title upon which rests the fateful bar-sinister of a woman's shame, and is encumbered by a dizzy young dude, too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal—too everlastingly "ornery" to raise a respectable crop of wild oats-proves that the young lollipop lordlings haven't a monopoly of the Gall of the Globe.
A most shameful exhibition of Gall is the practice now coming into vogue with certain society ladies of encouraging newspapers to puff their charms—even paying them so much a line for fulsome praise. Not a few metropolitan papers reap a handsome profit by puffing society buds whom their fond parents are eager to place on the matrimonial market, hoping that they will "make good matches"; in other words, that they will marry money— its possessors being thrown in as pelon. Even married women, who are long on shekels but short on sense, sometimes pay big prices to get their portraits in the public prints—accompanied by puffs that would give a buzzard a bilious attack.
But the Gall of the girl who puts her picture in the papers, accompanied by a paid puff of her "purty," scarce equals that of the conceited maid who imagines she has only to look at a man and giggle a few times to "mash him cold"—to get his palpitating heart on a buckskin string and swing it hither-and-yon at pleasure. How the great he-world does suffer at the hands of those heartless young coquettes—if half it tells 'em be true! David said in his haste that all men are liars. And had he carefully considered the matter he would have come to the same conclusion. Washington may have told his father the truth about that cherry-tree; but later in life he became entirely too popular with the ladies for a man unable to lie.
It is natural for men to pay court to a pretty woman as for flies to buzz about a molasses barrel; but not every fly that buzzes expects to get stuck, I beg to state. The man who doesn't tell every woman who will listen to him —excepting, perhaps, his wife—that she's pretty as a peri, even though she be homely enough to frighten a mugwump out of a fat federal office; that she's got his heart grabbed; that he lives only in the studied sunshine of her store- teeth smile and is hungering for an opportunity to die for her dear sake—well, he's an angel, and he-seraphs are almighty scarce I beg of you to believe. Since Adonis died and Joseph was gathered to his fathers none have appeared that I am aware of. These young gentlemen were all right, I suppose; but I'd like to see either of them get elected nowadays on the Democratic ticket in Texas.
But feminine conceit, fed on flattery, were as milk-shake unto mescal, as a kiss by mail to one by moonlight compared with the insufferable egotism of the "pretty man" who puts his moustache up in curl-papers and perfumes his pompadour; who primps and postures before an amorous looking-glass and imagines that all Eve's daughters are trying to abduct him. Whenever I meet one of these male irresistibles I'm forcibly reminded that the Almighty made man out of mud—and not very good mud at that. The two-legged he-thing who makes a clothes-horse of himself and poses on the street-corner perfumed like an emancipation day picnic; who ogles a pretty woman until the crimson creeps into her cheek, then prides himself on having captured her heart like the boy caught the itch,— because he couldn't help it—when she's only blushing for the mother who bore the pitiful parody on manhood; who imagines that every maid who deigns to waste a smile on him is sighing her soul out for his sweet sake, has allowed his Gall to go to his head and curdle his brains.
. . .
More than a moiety of our so-called great men are but featherless geese, possessing a superabundance of Gall— creatures of chance who ride like driftwood on the crest of a wave raised by forces they cannot comprehend; but they ride, and the world applauds them while it tramples better men beneath its brutal feet. Greatness and Gall, genius and goose-speech, sound and sense have become synonyms. If you fall on the wrong side of the market men will quote the proverb about a fool and his money: if on the right side you're a Napoleon of finance. Lead a successful revolt and you are a pure patriot whose memory should be preserved to latest posterity; head an unsuccessful uprising and you are a miserable rebel who should have been hanged. "Nothing succeeds like success." Had the Christian religion failed to take root, Judas Iscariot would have been commemorated in the archives of Rome as one who helped stamp out the hateful heresy, and had Washington got the worst of it in his go with Cornwallis he would have passed into history as a second Jack Cade.
Alexander of Macedon was great, as measured by the world's standard of eminence. After two-and-twenty centuries our very babes prattle of this bloody butcher, and even his horse has been enshrined in history. In our own day Father Damien left kindred and country and went forth to die for the miserable lepers in the mid-Pacific, but he is already forgotten—his name and fame have faded from the minds of men. Yet greater and grander than all the blood-stained princes and potentates of earth; nobler, more god-like than all the proud prelates that ever aired their turgid eloquence at Christian conference or ecumenical council was that young priest; but no cenotaph rises to commemorate his sacrifice—silent as his own sealed lips is the trumpet of fame.
But for Gall of the A1, triple X brand, commend me to the little pot-house politician who poses as a political prophet and points out to wiser men their public duties. We have to-day in this land of the free and home of the crank, thousands of self-important little personages who know as little of political economy as a parrot of the power of prayer, prating learnedly of free-trade or protection, greenbackism or metallic money. Men who couldn't tell a fundamental principle from their funny- bone, an economic thesis from a hot tamale—who don't know whether Ricardo was an economist or a corn-doctor— evolve from their empty ignorance new systems of "saving the country," and defend them with the dogmatic assurance of a nigger preacher describing the devil—make gorgeous displays of their Gall. I have noticed that, as a rule, the less a man knows of the science of government the crazier he is to go to congress. About half the young statesmen who break into the legislature imagine that Roger Q. Mills wrote the Science of Economics, and that Jefferson Davis was the father of Democracy.
But the Gall is not confined to the little fellows—the big political M.D.'s have their due proportion. The remedies they prescribe for Uncle Sam's ailments remind me of the panaceas put on the market by the patent-medicine men— warranted to cure everything, from a case of cholera-morbus to an epidemic of poor relations. We have one school of practitioners prescribing free-trade as a sure-cure for every industrial ill, another a more drastic system of protection. One assures us that the silver-habit is dragging us down to the demnition bow-wows, another that only an heroic dose of white dollars will save us from industrial death. Political claptrap to corral the succulent pie— "issues" to get office. We have had high and low tariff, the gold and silver standard, greenbackism and "wild-cat" currency; we have had presidents of all shades of political faith and congresses of every kind of economic folly; yet in a single century America has risen from the poorest of nations to the wealthiest in all the world. True it is that wealth is congested—that willful Waste and woeful Want go hand in hand—that the land is filled with plutocrats and paupers; but this distressing fact is due to the faults of our industrial system itself, and can never be reformed by placing fiddle-strings on the free list or increasing the tariff on toothpicks.
Gall? Ye gods! Look at the platform promises of the blessed Democratic party—then at its performances! Look at the party itself—a veritable omnium-gatherum of political odds and ends, huddled together under the party blanket like household gods and barn-yard refuse after a hurricane. High and low tariffs and free-traders; gold- bugs, green-backers and bi-metallists; Cleveland and Croker, Altgeld and Olney, Hill and Hogg, Waco's Warwick and Colonel Culberson's kid, all clamoring to be dyed- in-the-wool Democrats! When I get a new main-spring put in my vocabulary I'm going to tackle the Gall of the Populists and Republicans.
. . .
Some specimens of Gall amaze me by their greatness, some amuse me, while others only spoil my appetite. Of the latter class is the chronic kicker who is forever fuming about feminine fashions. If the hoop-skirt comes in this critic is in agony; if the "pull-back" makes its appearance he has a fit and falls in it. Ever since Eve attired herself in a few freckles and fig-leaves he's been reforming the fashions. Don't mind him, ladies. Like a peacock crying in the night, he's disagreeable, but not dangerous. Adorn yourselves as you see fit; follow such fashions as seem good in your sight, and have no fear that the sons of men will ever forsake you because of your clothes. When you find a man dictating to the ladies what they shall wear you're pretty apt to see his head housed in a stove- pipe hat—the most inartistic and awkward monstrosity ever designed by the devil to make the Almighty ashamed of his masterpiece. In all history there's no record of a great idea being born in a beegum. I never saw a statue of a hero or picture of a martyr with a plug hat on. Imagine the Lord laying aside a silk cady preparatory to preaching that Sermon on the Mount—or Napoleon apostrophizing the pyramids in a plug! Before finding fault with the fashions of the ladies just imagine Apollo in the make-up of a modern society swell, loafing into court on High Olympus! Why Jove would hit him with a thunderbolt so hard there'd be nothing left of him but a wilted chrysanthemum and a pair o' yaller shoes!
. . .
For a specimen of Gall that must amaze the very gods commend me to a crowd of pharisaical plutocrats, piously offering, in a hundred thousand dollar church, prayers to him who had nowhere to lay his head; who pay a preacher $15,000 per annum to point the way to Paradise, while in the great cities of every Christian country children must steal or starve and women choose between death and dishonor. New York is crowded with costly churches that lift their proud spires into the empyrean, that part the clouds with golden fingers—monuments which Mammon rears as if to mock the lowly Son of God. Their value mounts up into the millions; yet I learn—from a religious paper, mark you—that 100,000 men, women and children were evicted in New York alone last year for the non- payment of rent; turned into the streets to suffer summer's heat or winter's cold—to beg, or starve, or steal, as they saw fit. I find these startling statistics in the same column with a tearful appeal for more money to send missionaries to black barbarians—on the same page with a description of a new church that must have cost a cold half-million of cash. That's what I call sanctified assurance—gall masquerading as grace. And what is true of New York is true, in greater or less degree, of every town from Plymouth Rock to Poker Flats, from Tadmor-in-the- Wilderness to Yuba Dam. Everywhere the widow is battling with want, while we send Bibles and blankets, prayer- books and pie, salvation and missionary soup to a job-lot of lazy niggers whose souls aren't worth a soumarkee in blocks-of-five—who wouldn't walk into heaven if the gates were wide open, but once inside would steal the eternal throne if it wasn't spiked down. Let the heathen rage; we've got our hands full at home. I'd rather see the whole black-and-tan aggregation short on Bibles than one white child crying for bread.
While Europe and America are peddling saving grace in pagan lands—and incidentally extending the market for their cheap tobacco, snide jewelry and forty-rod bug-juice —they are also building warships and casting cannon— preparing to cut each other's throats while prating of the prince of peace! The idea of countries that have to build forts on their frontiers and keep colossal standing armies to avoid being butchered by their own Christian brethren; that are full of divorce courts and demagogues, penitentiaries and poorhouses, sending young theological goslings, who believe that all of divine revelation can be found in one book, to teach the philosophic Hindu the road to heaven! Gall! Why the men we are trying to convert were preaching the immortality of the soul when the Hebrew prophets were putting people to the sword for accepting it; they were familiar with all the essential features of the Christian faith a thousand years before the crucifixion of Christ. Charity begins at home. In our own country children are coming up in ignorance and crime, while sect vies with sect in the erection of proud temples in which polite society may display its Parisian finery while pretending to worship One who broke bread with beggars and slept in the brush.
I haven't much use for gold-plated godliness. Christ never built a church, or asked for a vacation on full pay, —never. He indulged in no political harangues—never told his parishioners how to vote—never posed as a professional Prohibitionist. He didn't try to reform the fallen women of Jerusalem by turning them over to the police, a la Parkhurst. Although gladiatorial shows were common in his country—and that without gloves—he didn't go raging up and down the earth like some of our Texas dominies, demanding that these awful crimes against civilization should cease. There is no record of his engineering a boycott against business men who dissented from his doctrine. I think he could have read a copy of the ICONOCLAST with far more patience than some of his successors. Human or divine, he was the grandest man that ever graced the mighty tide of time. His was a labor of love, instead of for lucre. The groves were his temples, the mountain-side his pulpit, the desert his sacristy, and Jordan his baptismal font.
. . .
Then there's the unconscious Gall of the pious parrot who is quite sure that the only highway to the heavenly hereafter is outlined by his little sect, macadamized by his creed; that you've got to travel that or get into trouble, perhaps fall into the fire.
Just imagine that dear Lord, who so loved sinners that he died to save them from death eternal, looking over heaven's holy battlements and observing a miserable mortal plunging downward to his doom, leaving behind him a streak of fire like a falling star, his face distorted with fear, his every hair erect and singing like a jewsharp. He asks St. Peter:
"Oh," says the man on the door, "that's old John Smith."
The Lord goes over to the office of the Recording Angel and turns the leaves of the great ledger. He finds the name, "John Smith, No. 11,027," and on the credit page these entries: "He was fearless as Caesar, generous as Macaenas, tender as Guatama and true to his friends as the stars to their appointed courses. He was a knight of nature's nobility, a lord in the aristocracy of intellect, courtier at home and a king abroad. On the debit page he reads: "Went fishing on Sunday. There was a miscue on his baptism. He knew a pretty woman from an ancient painting, a jack-pot from a prayer-book, and when smitten on one cheek he made the smacker think he'd been smuck by a cyclone." Good-bye, John!
It may be that the monarch of the majestic universe marches around after every inconsequential little mortal, note-book in hand, giving him a white mark when he prays for the neighbor who poisons his dog, or tells his wife the truth regardless of consequences; a black one when he bets his money on the wrong horse or sits down on the sidewalk and tries to swipe the front gate as it goes sailing by; but I doubt it. If I could make the sun, moon and stars in one day and build a beautiful woman of an old bone, I'd just like to see the color of that man's hair I'd waste much time and attention on.
. . .
Why should we quarrel about our faiths and declare that this is right and that is wrong, when all religions are, and must of necessity ever be, fundamentally one and the same —the worship of a superior power, the great
"Father of all, in every age, in ev'ry clime adored, By saint, by savage and by sage, Jehovah, Jove, or Lord."
. . .
Man's cool assumption that the Almighty made him as his "masterpiece" should be marked Exhibit A in the mighty aggregation of Gall. That after millions of years experience in the creation business—after building the archangels and the devil; after making the man in the moon and performing other wondrous miracles, the straddling six-foot biped who wears a spike-tail coat and plug- hat, a silk surcingle and sooner tie; who parts his name on the side and his hair in the middle; who sucks a cane and simpers like a school-girl struggling with her first compliment; who takes it for granted that he knows it all, when his whole life—including his birth, marriage and death—is a piece of ridiculous guess-work; who insists that he has a soul to save, yet labors with might and main to lose it; protests that there's a better land beyond the grave, yet moves heaven and earth to keep from going to it so long as he can help it—the assumption, I say, that this was the best the Creator could do, is prima facie evidence of a plentitude of Gall of the purest ray serene.
The calm assurance of man that the earth and all it contains were made for his especial benefit; that woman was created solely for his comfort; that the sun was made to give him light by day and the moon to enable him to find his way home from the lodge at night without the aid of a policeman; that the heavens were hung with a resplendent curtain of stars and the planets sent whirling through space in a majestic dance about the God of Day, simply to afford him matter for wonder or for amusement when too tired to talk politics or too bilious to drink beer, evinces an egotism that must amuse the Almighty.
Masterpiece indeed! Why, God made man, and, finding that he couldn't take care of himself, made woman to take care of him—and she proposes to discharge her heaven- ordained duty or know the reason why. Tennyson says that, "as the husband is the wife is"; but even Tennyson didn't know it quite all. When wives take their hubbies for measures of morality, marriage will become an enthusiastic failure and Satan be loosed for a little season. We acknowledge woman's superiority by demanding that she be better than we could if we would, or would be if we could.
We are fond of alluding to woman as "the weaker vessel"; but she can BREAK the best of us if given an opportunity. Pope calls man the "great lord of all things"—but Pope never got married. We rule with a rod of iron the creatures of the earth and air and sea; we hurl our withering defi in the face of Kings and brave presidential lightning; we found empires and straddle the perilous political issue, then surrender unconditionally to a little bundle of dimples and deviltry, sunshine and extravagance. No man ever followed freedom's flag for patriotism (and a pension) with half the enthusiasm that he will trail the red, white and blue that constitute the banner of female beauty. The monarch's fetters cannot curtail our haughty freedom, nor nature's majestic forces confine us to this little lump of clay; we tread the ocean's foam beneath our feet, harness the thunderbolts of imperial Jove to the jaunting car, and even aspire to mount the storm and walk upon the wind; yet the bravest of us tremble like cowards and lie like Cretans when called to account by our wives for some of our cussedness,
But you will say that I have wandered from my text— have followed the ladies off and got lost. Well, it's not the first time it's happened. But really, I'm not so inconsistent as I may seem; for if the gentler sex exceeds us in goodness it likewise surpasses us in Gall. Perhaps the most colossal exhibit of polite and elegant audacity this world can boast is furnished by that female who has made a marriage of convenience; has wedded money instead of a man,—practically put her charms up at auction for the highest bidder—yet who poses as a paragon of purity; gathers up her silken skirts—the price of her legalized shame—lest they come in contact with the calico gown of some poor girl who has loved, not wisely, but too well.
Marriage is the most sacred institution ever established on earth, making the father, mother and child a veritable Holy Trinity; but it is rapidly degenerating into an unclean Humbug, in which Greed is God and Gall is recognized high-priest. We now consider our fortunes rather than our affections, acquire a husband or wife much as we would a parrot or a poodle, and get rid of them with about as little compunction. Cupid now feathers his arrows from the wings of the gold eagle and shoots at the stomach instead of the heart. Love without law makes angels blush; but law without love crimson even the brazen brow of infamy.
. . .
But the fact that so many selfish, soulless marriages are made is not altogether woman's fault. Our ridiculous social code is calculated to crush all sentiment and sweetness out of the gentler sex—to make woman regard herself as merchandise rather than as a moral entity, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The average woman must select a husband from a narrow circle; must make choice among two or three admirers or elect to live a loveless old maid—to forego the joys of motherhood, the happiness of a home. Man is privileged to go forth and seek a mate. The world is before him, a veritable "Dream of Fair Women." He wanders at will, as amid a mighty parterre of flowers, sweet as the breath of morn, and finally, before some fair blossom he bows the knee —pours forth the incense of his soul to the one woman in all the world he would make his wife. True, she may refuse him and marry some other fellow; but he is at least privileged to approach her, to plead his cause to employ all the art and eloquence of love to bring her into his life. Woman enjoys no such privilege. She must wait to be wooed, and if her king comes not she must take the best that offers and try to be content.
Every daughter of Eve dreams of an ideal,—of a man tender and true, who will fill her life with love's own melody; his word her law, his home her heaven, his honor her glory and his tomb her grave. And some day, from these castles in the clouds he comes—these day-dreams, golden as the dawn, become the halo of a mortal man, to whom her heart turns as the helianthus to the sun. At last the god of her idolatry doth walk the earth; but she must stand afar,—must not, by word or act, betray the holy passion that's consuming her, lest "that monster custom of habits devil," doth brand her bold and bad. Love ofttimes begets love, as the steel strikes fire from the cold flint, and a word from her might bring him to her feet; but she must stand with dumb lips and assumed indifference and see him drift out of her life, leaving it desolate as the Scythian desert, when it should have budded and blossomed like the great blush rose. So she drifts desolate into old maidenhood and the company of Maltese cats; else, when hope is dead in her heart—when the dream of her youth has become dust and ashes—she marries for money and tries to feed her famished heart with Parisian finery, to satisfy her soul with the Dead Sea fruit of fashion.
No; I wouldn't give woman the ballot—not in a thousand years. I want no petticoats in politics—no she-senators or female presidents; but I'd do better by woman; I'd repeal that ridiculous social law—survival of female slavery—which compels her to wait to be wooed. I'd put a hundred leap-years in every century, give woman the right to do half the courting—to find a man to her liking and capture him if she could. Talk about reforms! Why, the bachelors would simply have to become Benedicts or take to the brush, and there'd be no old maids outside the dime museums. But I was speaking of Gall.
. . .
Gall is usually unadulterated impudence; but sometimes it is irremediably idiocy. When you find a man pluming himself on his ancestors you can safely set it down that he's got the disease in its latter form, and got it bad. I always feel sorry for a man who's got nothing to be proud of but a dead gran'daddy, for it appears to be a law of nature that there shall be but one great man to a tribe— that the lightning of genius shall not twice strike the same family tree. I suppose that Cleveland and Jim Corbett, Luther and Mrs. Lease, Homer and J. S. Hogg had parents and gran'parents; but we don't hear much about 'em. And while the ancestors of the truly great are usually lost in the obscurity of the cornfield or cotton- patch, their children seldom succeed in setting the world on fire. Talent may be transmitted from father to son; but you can no more inherit genius than you can inherit a fall out of a balloon. It is the direct gift of that God who is no respecter of persons, and who sheds his glory on the cotter's child as freely as on those of monarchs and of millionaires.
We have in this country three aristocracies: The aristocracy of intellect, founded by the Almighty; the aristocracy of money, founded by Mammon, and the aristocracy of family, founded by fools. The aristocracy of brains differs from those of birth and boodle as a star differs from a jack-o'-lantern, as the music of the spheres from the bray of a burro, as a woman's first love from the stale affection hashed up for a fourth husband.
To the aristocracy of money belong many worthy men; but why should the spirit of mortal be proud? The founder of one of the wealthiest and most exclusive of American families skinned beeves and made weinerwurst. The calling was an honest and useful one. His sausages were said to be excellent, and at a SKIN game he was exceptionally hard to beat; but his descendants positively decline to put a calf's head regardant and a cleaver rampant on their coat-of-arms. A relative much addicted to the genealogical habit once assured me that he could trace our family back 600 years just as easy as following the path to the drugstore in a Prohibition town. I was delighted to hear it, to learn that I too had ancestors—that some of them were actually on the earth before I was born. While he was tracing I was figuring. I found that in 600 years there should be 20 generations—if everybody did his duty—and that in 20 generations a man has 2,093,056 ancestors! Just think of it! Why, if he had gone back 600 years further he might have discovered that I was a lineal descendant of Adam, perhaps distantly related to crowned monarchs—if not to the Duke of Marlborough. As my cousin couldn't account for this job-lot of kinsmen —had no idea how many had been hanged, gone into politics or written poetry, I rang off. Those people who delight to trace their lineage through several generations to some distinguished man should be tapped for the simples. When John Smith starts out to found a family and marries Miss Jones, their son is half Smith and half Jones. The next crop is nearly one-fourth Smith and at the end of a dozen generations the young Smiths bear about as much relation to the original as they do to a rabbit.
. . .
There are various grades of Gall, but perhaps the superlative brand is that which leads a man to look down with lofty scorn upon those of his fellow mortals who have tripped on Life's rugged pathway and plunged into a shoreless sea of shame. I am no apologist for crime— I would not cover its naked hideousness with the Arachne— robe of sentiment; but I do believe that many a social outcast, many a branded criminal, will get as sweet a harp in the great hereafter as those who have kept themselves unspotted from the world. It is easy enough to say grace over a good square meal, to be honest on a fat income, to praise God when full of pie; but just wait till you get the same razzle-dazzle the devil dished up for Job and see how your halle-hallelujahs hold out before exalting your horn. Victory does not always proclaim the hero nor virtue the saint. It were easy enough to sail with wind and tide to float over fair seas, mid purple isles of spice; but the captain who loses his ship mid tempests dire, mid wreck and wrath, may be a better sailor and a braver than the master who rides safe to port with rigging all intact and every ensign flying. With
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,"
it were easy enough to be a good citizen and a consistent Christian. It is poverty and contempt, suffering and disappointment that try men's souls—that proclaim of what metal they are made. Faith, Hope and Charity are man's triune transcendent—"and the greatest of these is Charity." A pharisee is either a pious fraud or a hopeless fool—he's either short on "gumption" or long on Gall.
. . .
Half the alleged honesty of this world is but Gall, and must be particularly offensive to the Almighty. We have oodles of men in every community who are legally honest, but morally rotten. Legal honesty is the brand usually proclaimed as "the best policy." Only fools risk the penitentiary to fill their purse. The smart rogue is ever "honest within the law"—infamous in strict accord with the criminal code.
Dives may attire himself in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day, while Lazarus lies at his door for the dogs to lick, vainly craving the crumbs that fall from the millionaire's table, and still be legally honest, even a church member in good standing; but his loyalty to legal forms will avail him but little when he finds his coat-tails afire and no water within forty miles.
The girl who flirts with a featherless young gosling till he doesn't know whether he's floating in a sea of champagne to the sound of celestial music, sliding down a greased rainbow or riding on the ridge-pole of the aurora borealis, then tells him that she can only be a kind of Christmas-present, opera-ticket sister to him; who steals his unripe affections and allows 'em to get frost-bitten— carries him into the empyrean of puppy-love, only to drop him with a dull plunk that fills his callow heart with compound fractures—well, she cannot be prosecuted for petit larceny nor indicted for malicious mischief; but the unfortunate fellow who finally gets her will be glad to go to heaven, where there's neither marrying nor giving in marriage.
The man who preaches Prohibition in public and pays court to a gallon jug of corn-juice in private; who damns the saloon at home and sits up with it all night abroad, may not transcend the law of the land, but if his Gall should burst the very buzzards would break their necks trying to get out of the country.
The druggist who charges a poor dunderhead a dollar for filling a prescription that calls in Latin for a spoonful of salt and an ounce of water, may do no violence to the criminal code, but he plays ducks and drakes with the moral law.
The little tin-horn attorney, whose specialties are divorce cases and libel suits; who stirs up good-for-naughts to sue publishers for $10,000 damages to 10-cent reputations; who's as ready to shield Vice from the sword of Justice as to defend Virtue from stupid violence; who's ever for sale to the highest bidder and keeps eloquence on tap for whosoever cares to buy; who would rob the orphan of his patrimony on a technicality or brand the Virgin Mary as a bawd to shield a black-mailer—well, he cannot be put into the penitentiary, more's the pity! but it's some satisfaction to believe that, if in all the great universe of God there is a hell where fiends lie howling, the most sulphurous section is reserved for the infamous shyster—that if he cannot be debarred from the courts of earth he'll get the bounce from those of heaven.
The woman who inveigles some poor fool—perhaps old enough to be her father—into calling her his tootsie- wootsie over his own signature, then brings suit for breach of promise—or the Seventh Commandment; who exhibits her broken heart to the judge and jury and demands that it be patched up with Uncle Sam's illuminated anguish plasters; who plays the adventuress, then poses in the public prints as an injured innocent—sends a good reputation to join a bad character in hope of monetary reward —well, she too may be legally honest; but it's just as well to watch her, for no woman worth powder to blow her to perdition ever did or every will carry such a case into court. When a woman's heart is really hurting her money is not going to help it: when she's truly sorry for her sin she tells her troubles to the Lord instead of to policemen and reporters.
The man who sues a fellow-citizen for alienating his wife's affections, instead of striking his trail with a bell- mouthed blunderbuss and a muzzle-loading bulldog; who asks the court to put a silver lining in the cloud of infamy that hangs over his home; who tries to make capital of his shame and heal with golden guineas the hurt that honor feels—well, he too may be a law-abiding citizen; but ten thousand such souls, if separated from their Gall, might play hide-and-seek on the surface of a copper cent for a hundred years and never find each other.
. . .
Dignity is but a peculiar manifestation of Gall. It is the stock in trade of fools. If Almighty God ever put up great dignity and superior intellect in the same package it must have got misplaced. They are opposing elements, as antagonistic as the doctrines of infinite love and infant damnation. Knowledge makes men humble; true genius is ever modest. The donkey is popularly supposed to be the most stupid animal extant—excepting the dude. He's also the most dignified—since the extinction of the dodo. No pope or president, rich in the world's respect; no prince or potentate reveling in the pride of sovereign power; no poet or philosopher bearing his blushing honors thick upon him ever equaled a blind donkey in impressive dignity. As a man's vision broadens; as he begins to realize what a miserable little microbe he is in that mighty immensity, studded with the stupendous handiwork of a power that transcends his comprehension, his dignity drains of and he feels like asking to be recognized just long enough to apologize for his existence.
When I see a little man strut forth in the face of heaven like a turkey-cock on dress parade; forgotten aeons behind him, blank time before him, his birth a mystery, his death a leap in the dark; when I see him pose on the grave of forgotten races and puff himself up with pomposity like the frog in the fable; when I see him sprinkled with the dust of fallen dynasties and erecting new altars upon the site of forgotten fanes, yet staggering about under a load of dignity that would spring the knee-joints of an archangel, I don't wonder that the Lord once decided to drown the whole layout like a litter of blind puppies.
. . .
A lecture on Gall were woefully incomplete without some reference to the press, that "archimedean lever" and "molder of public opinion." The average newspaper posing as a "public educator" is a specimen of Gall that cannot be properly analyzed in one evening. Men do not establish newspapers for the express purpose of reforming the world, but rather to print what a large number of people in a particular community want to read and are willing to pay for. A newspaper is simply a mirror in which the community sees itself, not as it should be, but as it actually is. It is not the mother, but the daughter of public opinion. The printing press is a mighty phonograph that echoes back the joy and the sorrow, the glory and the shame of the generation it serves. I have no more quarrel with editors for filling their columns with inanities than casting shadows when they stand in the sun. They know what kind of mental pabulum their people crave, and they are no more in business for their health than is the merchant. They know that should they print the grandest sermon that ever fell from Massillon's lips of gold not 20 per cent., even of the professedly pious, would read it; but that a detailed account of a fragrant divorce case or international prize-fight will cause 99 per cent. of the very elect of the Lord to swoop down upon it like a hungry hen-hawk on an unripe gosling and fairly devour it, then roll their eyes to heaven like a calf with the colic and wonder what this wicked old world is coming to. The editor knows that half the people who pretend to be filled to overflowing with the grace of God are only perambulating pillars of pure Gall. He knows that the very people who criticize him for printing accounts of crimes and making spreads on sporting events, would transfer their patronage to other papers if he heeded their howling— that they are talking for effect through the crown of their felts.
Speaking of prize-fights reminds me that a governor who, after winking at a hundred brutal slugging matches, puts his state to the expense of a legislative session to prevent a pair of gladiators pounding each other with soft gloves, is not suffering for lack of Gall; that those pious souls who never suspected that pugilism was an insult to our civilization until they got a good opportunity to make a grandstand play, then whereased and resoluted themselves black in the face anent its brutality, should be presented with a medal of pure brass. Politics is said to make strange bed-fellows, but I scarce expected to see a shoe- string gambler and would-be Don Juan lauded by ministerial associations as "our heroic young Christian governor."
Gall? Why, Geo. Clark presumes to give Bismarck pointers and congress advice. Nobody knows so well how to manage a husband as an old maid. A bachelor can give the father of a village pointers on the training of boys. Our Northern neighbors know exactly how to deal with the nigger. The man who would starve but for the industry of his wife feels competent to manage the finances of the country. People who couldn't be trusted to wean a calf, tell us all about the Creator of the Cosmos. Sam Jones wants to debate with Bob Ingersoll, and every forks- of-the-creek economist takes a hard fall out of Henry George. The A.P.A. agitators prate loudly of freedom of conscience and insist on disfranchising the Catholics. We boast of religious liberty, then enact iron-clad Sunday laws that compel Jew and pagan to conform to our creed or go to prison. The prohibs. want to confine the whole world to cold water because their leaders haven't sufficient stamina to stay sober. Men who fail to make a living at honest labor insist on entering the public service. Political parties charge up to each other the adverse decrees of Providence. Atheists deny the existence of God because he doesn't move in their set, while ministers assume that a criticism of themselves is an insult to the Creator.
. . .
But to detain you longer were to give a practical illustration of my text. I will be told that Gall is a necessary evil; that a certain amount of audacity, of native impudence, is necessary to success. I deny it. Fame and wealth and power constitute our ideal of success—folly born of falsehood. Only the useful are successful. Father Damien was the grandest success of the century; Alexander of Macedon the most miserable failure known to human history—with the possible exception of Grover Cleveland. Alexander employed his genius to conquer the Orient and Cleveland his stupidity to ruin the Occident. The kingdom of the one went to pieces, and the party of the other is now posing as the lost tribe of the political Israel!
Success? A Gould must give up his gold at the grave, the sovereign surrender his sceptre, the very gods are in time forgotten—are swallowed up in the voiceless, viewless past, hidden by the shadows of the centuries. Why should men strive for fame, that feather in the cap of fools, when nations and peoples perish like the flowers and are forgotten— when even continents fade from the great world's face and the ocean's bed becomes the mountain's brow. Why strive for power, that passes like the perfume of the dawn, and leaves prince and pauper peers in death? Why should man, made in the mortal image of immortal God, become the subservient slave of Greed and barter all of time for a handful of yellow dross to cast upon the threshold of eternity? "Poor and content is rich," and rich enough. With a roof to shelter those his heart holds dear, and table furnished forth with frugal fare; with manhood's dauntless courage and woman's deathless love, the peasant in his lowly cot may be richer far than the prince in his imperial hall.
Success? I would rather be a fox and steal fat geese than a miserly millionaire and prey upon the misfortunes of my fellows. I would rather be a doodle-bug burrowing in the dust than a plotting politician, trying to inflate a second-term gubernatorial boom with the fetid breath of a foul hypocrisy. I would rather be a peddler of hot peanuts than a President who gives to bond-grabbers and boodlers privilege to despoil the pantries of the poor. I would rather be a louse on the head of a lazar than lord high executioner of a theological college that, to preserve its reputation and fill its coffers with filthy lucre, brands an orphan babe as a bawd. I would rather watch the stars shining down through blue immensity, and the cool mists creeping round the purple hills, than feast my eyes on all the tawdry treasures of Ophir and of Ind. I would rather play a corn-stalk fiddle while pickaninnies dance, than build, of widows' sighs and orphans' tears, a flimsy bubble of fame to be blown adown the narrow beach of Time into Eternity's shoreless sea. I would rather be the beggar lord of a lodge in the wilderness, dress in a suit of sunburn and live on hominy and hope, yet see the love-light blaze unbought in truthful eyes, than to be the marauding emperor of the mighty world, and know not who fawned upon the master and who esteemed the man.
* * * BLUE AND GRAY.
AN ADDRESS TO THE OLD VETERANS.
[The following is a summary of Mr. Brann's address to the United American Veterans, San Antonio, Feb. 22, 1894.]
It occurs to me that the time is not an appropriate one for lengthy speeches. This is a love-feast, and I have noticed that when people are much in love they are little inclined to talk. Perhaps I have been called upon because I'm a professional peacemaker, an expert harmony promoter. Were I not as meek as Moses and patient as Job I certainly would weary in well-doing—become discouraged and give o'er the attempt to inaugurate an era of universal peace and general good will; for when I go North I am denounced by the partisan press as an unreconstructed rebel seeking to rip the federal government up by the roots, and when I come South I'm pointed out as a dangerous Yankee importation with the bluest of equators. The Democrats insist that I'm a Republican, but that party declines the responsibility; the infidels call me a religious crank, the clergy an Atheist, and even the Mugwumps regard me with suspicion. But let me tell you right here that whatever I may or may not be, I am an American from the ground up—from Alpha to Omega, world-without- end. I may be a man without a party and without a creed; but so long as Old Glory blazes in God's blue firmament I will never be a man without a country.
I can no more imagine a man loving only the north or south half of his country than I can imagine him loving only the right or left side of his wife. If I had to love my country on the instalment plan I'd move out of it. The man who is really a patriot loves his country in a lump. There's room in his heart for every acre of its sunny soil, its every hill upon which the morning breaks, its every vale that cradles the evening shadows, its every stream that laughs back the image of the sun.
When a man feels that way you can safely trust him with an office—and most of us are perfectly willing to be trusted.
As an American citizen I am proud of every man, of whatever section, who, by the nobility of his nature or the majesty of his intellect, has added one jot or tittle to the fame of his fair land, has increased the credit of our common country, has contributed new power to the car of human progress. They are my countrymen, friends and brethren. Are you of the North? Then I claim with you a joint interest in your entire galaxy of intellectual gods. At the shrine of Lincoln's broad humanity, of Webster's matchless power, of the cunning genius of your Menlo wizard I humbly bow. Are you of the South? Your Jefferson, Jackson and Lee are mine as well as thine, for they too were Americans—lords in that mighty aristocracy of intellect that has, in four generations, made the New World the wonder of the Old with its cumulative greatness of forty centuries.
I have watched the progress of the United American Veterans' Association with uncommon interest, because it is distinctively a national organization, in which shriveled sectionalism and party prejudice find no place. Its corner- stone is American manhood, its object fraternity, its principles broad as the continent upon which falls the shadow of our flag. Do you know what that association means? —had you thought of its significance? It means that when brave men sheathe the sword the quarrel's done. It means that peace hath its triumphs no less than war. The world's annals furnish forth no parallel to that association whose guests we are to-night. Men have fought ere this and patched up a peace; but where, in all the cycles of human history, have they waged war more relentless than did Rome and Carthage, then, without a murmur, accepted the arbitrament of the sword and swung into line, shoulder to shoulder, a band of brothers, one flag, one country, one destiny and that the highest goal of human endeavor?
My attention has been especially attracted to this association because it is a practical illustration of what I have so often urged in print: That the pitiful sectional prejudices which we see here and there coming to the surface both north and south; that the petty hatreds, which appear to transform some hearts into bitter little pools in which Justice perishes and divine Reason is quite overthrown, have no lot or part among the soldiers who made the civil war the grandest event in modern history—one from which the world will mark time for centuries yet to be. I have yet to hear an ex-federal who met Lee's veterans at the Wilderness or Gettysburg, speak disrespectfully of the man who wore the gray. I have yet to hear an ex-confederate who mixed it with "Old Pap" Thomas at Chickamauga, or Joe Hooker above the clouds, speak disparagingly of those who wore the blue. It is those who stayed at home to sing, "We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree," and those who damned "Old Abe" Lincoln at long range who are doing all the tremendous fighting now. They didn't get started for the front until after Appomattox; but having once sailed in for slaughter all Hades can't head 'em off! If a merciful Providence doesn't soon interpose, these mighty post-bellum warriors will either break a lung or wreck the majestic world. They are more dreadful in their destructive awfulness than the farmer's two he-goats, that "fit an' fit" until there was nothing left of 'em but a splotch o' blood and two belligerent tails. Those who exchanged compliments at Corinth and Cold Harbor; those who received informal calls from Kilpatrick's cavalry, who we are told "rode like centaurs and fought like devils"; those who saw Grant's intrepid Westerners hurl themselves against Vicksburg's impregnable heights; those who were slammed up against Jackson's "Stone wall" or picnicked with Johnston's cartridge-biters on grapeshot pie and deviled minnie balls, now treat each other with the studied respect which the Kansas farmer paid the cyclone. He felt sure that the Lord was on his side and that with such help he could more than hold his own; still he was in no wise anxious to steer his theory against a condition that was making a million revolutions a minute and hadn't yet brought up its reserves.
In commingling thus in a common brotherhood, those who followed the fortunes of the confederacy until human fortitude could no further go, and those who, with the sword's keen point, held every gleaming star in Old Glory's field of blue, are furnishing a commendable example to all our countrymen, to all humanity. It is an echo, nay, an incarnation of those words of Grant, the grandest that ever fell from victorious warrior's lips: "Let us have peace." The battlefield was sown long since with kindlier seed than dragon's teeth, has blossomed and borne the fruits of Life where Death reigned paramount. The flowers of our Southern fields are no longer dyed with the blood of the contending brave, but drip with heaven's own dews; the sullen battery has gone silent on our purple hills and the crash of steel resounds no more amid our pleasant valleys. No longer the Northern child waits and watches for the soldier sire whose lips have felt the touch of God's own hand; no longer the Southern woman wanders with bursting heart amid the wreck and wraith of the fierce simoon, brushing the battle grime from cold brows, seeking among the mangled dead for all that life held dear. The curse has passed: "Let us have peace."
The civil war was a national necessity. It was the fiery furnace in which Almighty God welded the discordant elements of the New World into one homogeneous people. For generations the Puritan hated the Cavalier, and the latter gave back scorn for scorn and added compound interest. This mutual dislike was a rank, infectious weed that first took root across the sea and ripened into that revolution which sent Charles the First to the block and invested Cromwell with more than regal power. Some of this virus, distilled in stubborn hearts by religious and political intolerance, was carried by the Puritan to Plymouth and by the Cavalier to the banks of the James, and it survived even the fires of patriotism and the frosts of Valley Forge. Bone of the same bone and flesh of the same flesh, the religio-political doctrinaires had succeeded in casting our forefathers in different molds—each colossal, masculine, heroic, but radically antagonistic. Together they followed Washington through those eight long years of blood and tears of which human liberty was born. Together they laid broad and deep the foundation of the Republic and reared thereon that wondrous superstructure which—please God—shall endure forever, and together they poured their blood in one unstinted tide upon its sacred shrine. But the Puritan was still a Cromwell and the Cavalier a lord. That people so widely divergent in customs and character could long dwell at peace as one political household were preposterous. The one had his "convictions," the other his "institutions," and neither would yield the right-o'-way. When such opposing trains of thought try to pass on a single track there's going to be trouble sure. The friction, evident even in the early day of the Republic, grew and gathered fire until the nation burst forth in that mighty conflagration whose pathetic ashes repose in a million sepulchers. It had to come. Let us thank God that the fierce baptism of fire is in the past and not yet to be; that the bitter cup can never be pressed to our children's lips; that never again while the world stands and the heavens endure will Americans meet in battle- shock! that never again will our rivers run red with the blood of Columbia's brave, poured forth by her own keen blade—that the last stumbling-block hath been removed from our path of progress; that we can now move forward with a giant's stride to that high destiny for which the chastening hand of God hath fitted us, the greatest nation and the grandest people in all the mighty tide of Time!
I rejoice to see the veterans setting the example of reconciliation, for they, more than all others, have most to forgive and forget. I am doubly gratified that the good work should have begun in Texas, which has such cause to entertain the kindliest feeling toward every section of our common country, for each and all contributed to her past glory and present greatness. Among those who cast their lot in Texas when every step was a challenge to destiny and every hour was darkened by a danger; who faced unflinchingly the trials of frontier life and carved out an independent republic with the sword, were men from every State of the American union. One instance will suffice (though scores might be cited) to illustrate the cosmopolitan character of that band of heroes who made the early history of Texas one of the noblest cantos in the mighty Anglo-Saxon epic. The New Orleans Grays was the first military company to come from the States to the aid of the struggling Texans. It got its first baptism of fire in this city, being a part of that band of 300 Spartans who followed Old Ben Milam to attack General Cos and his 1,500 veterans. From the roster of the Grays I learn that the company numbered but sixty- four men, yet represented sixteen sovereign States and six foreign countries! Think of it! Twenty-five came from north of the Ohio, twenty-four from the Southern States, fourteen across far seas to fight for Texas liberty, while one brave lad came from God knows where, but he got there just the same! General Cos never inquired where Milam's men were born. He knew where his own were dying, decided that San Antonio had been overrated as a health resort and took to the chaparral.
As most of those daring spirits who flocked hither to fight for Texas remained, and ever since a steady human tide has poured in from all parts of the Union, and every country of Western Europe, we have become a mixed people, scarce daring to throw a rock in any direction lest we hit our relatives. And the cosmopolitan character of our people—the fact that the Puritan and the Cavalier have blended here as nowhere else—will be found a powerful factor in the attainment of a glorious future.
It is particularly appropriate that the Blue and the Gray should unite in observing the day that marks the birth of Washington, that soldier-statesman who marshalled our fathers under one flag and led them forth to the defense of human liberty. Whatever may have since mis- chanced, the trials and the triumphs of the Revolution are our common heritage. As the Greeks of old, divided among themselves, united to face a foreign foe, so did the American, North and South, unite beneath the banner of Washington and hurl down the gage of battle to Britain's mighty power, and no historian has yet presumed to say which was the better soldier. Washington belongs to no section. He was truly an American, pre-eminently a patriot. The nobility of his character was his very own; the dazzling splendor of his undying fame is the brightest jewel in Columbia's crown of glory, for it was born of the dauntless valor and nurtured with the priceless blood of a people whom kings could not conquer nor sophists deceive.
A husband and wife, long estranged, met at the grave of their firstborn, the child of their youthful strength. Their strife had been bitter, their love had turned to hate, and they elected to tread life's path apart. They stood, one on either side, and looked coldly upon each other. Then they looked down upon the little mound that held the broken link with which God had bound their hearts. They knelt and bowed their faces upon the cold sod that covered the sacred dust of their dead. They stretched forth their hands across the little grave, each to the other, and the Angel of God washed all the bitterness of the years from their hearts with a rain of penitential tears, and sent them down life's pathway hand-in-hand, as in the old days when Love was lord of their two lives and the lost babe was cradled upon its mother's breast.
This day the North and the South kneel at the grave of Washington, their best beloved. The estrangement is forgotten, the bitterness of the years passes like an uneasy dream, they reach their hands each to the other across the tomb, and the benediction of God falls upon a re- united people.
* * * HUMBUGS AND HUMBUGGERY.
THE GREAT AMERICAN PRODUCT
Satan is supposed to have been the original Humbug; but he's a back number now—must feel dreadfully antiquated and useless among so many modern improvements.
That the American people love to be humbugged long since passed into proverb. Humbuggery may be called our national vice, our besetting sin. Like liberty, it appears to be in the very air we breathe, and we take to it as naturally as we go into politics. Our entire social system has become saturated with it. It is the main-spring of many acts we loudly praise, the lode-star of men we apotheosize, is oftimes the warp and woof even of the mantle of charity, which, like a well-filled purse—or a tariff compromise—covers a multitude of sins.
There are various kinds and classes of Humbugs; but reduced to the last analysis—stripped of the sugar- coating by which they impose on the public—they are one and all simply professors of falsehood.
I am sometimes inclined to the view that humbuggery is a disease, and that some doctor will yet discover a gold- cure for it—will demonstrate that the bad habit is due to microbes that get into a man's mind and make trouble trying to turn around, or to bacilli that bore holes in his moral character and let his honesty leak out; for the medical fraternity has gravely informed us that kleptomania (sneak-thievery by eminently respectable people) and dipsomania (sottishness by the social salt of the earth), are simply diseases that should be treated with pills and powders instead of with penitentiaries and whipping-posts. Now if a man will steal a saw-mill and go back after the site simply because his pericardium is out of plumb or his liver has gone into politics; will nurse a juicy old jag until it develops into a combined museum and menagerie, because his circulation has slipped an eccentric or his stomach got out of its natural orbit, I submit, in all seriousness that he might be physically incapacitated for telling the truth by an insidious attack on his veracity by the dreadful falsehood fungi, and that the best way to restore his moral equilibrium—to remove him from the category of chronic Humbugs—would be to fumigate him.
The Lord once attempted to check the Humbug habit by striking liars dead; but soon saw that such a plan would prove more fatal than a second flood—that there wouldn't be even a Noah's Ark picnic of us left—and reluctantly relinquished it. Science has not yet succeeded in mastering the disease; but just give it time and it will save the world yet—will find a medical name for every human frailty; will be able to tell, by looking at a man's tongue, whether he's coming down with the mug-wump malaria or the office-holding hysteria, and do something for him before it's everlastingly too late.