Human development, like the earth, the sun, the stars— like all things brought into being by the breath of Omnipotent God—travels ever in a circle. Savagery and ignorance, barbarism and ambition, civilization and sybaritism, dudeism and intellectual decay; then once more savagery and ignorance proclaim the complete circle,—that we have traveled from nadir to zenith and from zenith to nadir— when once again we begin with painful steps and slow to repace the path which carries us to the very verge of godhood and wreathes our brows with immortal bays, then brings us down—even while we think we mount—until we touch a level beneath the very brute. Such has ever been the world's history, and such it will ever be until a force is found that can transform this circle into a straight line —that can blend the rugged manhood of the barbarism with the graces of our higher civilization and give us wisdom without weakness and culture without cowardice; that can incorporate us as corpuscles in the social organism without eliminating every spark of God-like individuality, making us helpless dependents upon social, political and religious precedent.
If the Car of Progress travels in a circle—and history says it does; if neither science, philosophy nor religion can deflect it from its seemingly predestined path—and the condition of their birth-place proclaims their failure so to do—where is hope? Must the human race forever go the weary round of birth and death, like Buddhist souls wandering through all that's fair and foul, until it finds Nirvana in the destruction of the world? Not so, for there is a hope—a blessed hope—that like.
"A poising eagle burns above the unrisen morrow."
That hope is in the union of all the mighty forces that make for the emancipation of mankind,—a union of religion and philosophy, science and woman. And of these the first is the last and the last is the first in point of power and importance.
. . .
When I reflect that until within comparatively recent times women were slaves, I don't much wonder that the old civilizations went to the dogs—that the millennium is not yet due. Trying to make a civilization that would stick without the help of woman were like building a cocktail with a basis of buttermilk. God gave her to man to be an helpmeet, not a plaything. I don't think that she can help him much by going into politics, or becoming a crusading she-Peter-the-Hermit while her own children need her care, but I do believe that the wife and mother—that erstwhile ignorant drudge, raised by God's great mercy to royalty— made Queen of the home, and thereby absolute Empress of the great round earth—is to be the dynamics of a new and grander civilization that can never recede; that the womanly woman, self-poised as a star, pure as the polar snows, fit companion for the true nobleman of nature, is to be the Providence that will lead humanity, step by step, ever onward and upward, until our cruel age of iron is transformed into an age of gold in which there'll be neither millionaire nor mendicant, master nor slave—in which Selfishness will be considered the worst of crimes and Love the all-powerful law.
Such, ladies, is my dream of the future. You see, with true mannish instinct, I throw the work of the world's salvation upon the women. I don't know, however, but it's retributive justice. If you got us fired out of the first Paradise it is your duty to find another and put us in possession. But really with all due respect to Sacred Writ, I could never accept that serpent story without considerable salt. My observation—and experience—has been that men are much more addicted to the snake habit than are women. I gather from Genesis that after the Edenic reptile had done the damage it was condemned to go upon its belly all the days of its life. That indicates that it was not only a good conversationalist, but had legs. Now I submit it to you in all seriousness: which member of the original family was most likely to see such a serpent as that? I think I should have given Adam the Keeley cure, then crossexamined him a little before laying the burden of the blame on Eve. If the latter was really the tempter she was probably trying to reach the heart of her hubby by that direct route, the stomach—lost heaven for love, as too many of her daughters have since done. The fact that Adam was not willing to father her fault proved him unworthy of his wife, and the bad example he set is too often followed by many of his sons—who attribute all their trials and tribulations to the patient wives whose watchful care keeps them out of the penitentiary. Whatever may have been Eve's fortune, Adam was no great loser by being ejected from Eden, for the man who possesses the love of a good woman carries Paradise with him wherever he goes. A woman's love can transform a hovel into a heaven and fill it with supernal sunshine—and her scorn can make perdition of a palace and put in all the fancy touches.
Woman is the only thing extant, if Genesis be believed, that was not evolved from a solid slug of nothing. That I presume, is why she amounts to something. Nothing was good enough raw material of which to make the father of mankind; but when the Almighty came to create our common mother he required something more substantial than a hole in the atmosphere.
I always bank on a boy who has a good mother, regardless of what the old man may be. The fathers of philosophers have sometimes been fools, but their mothers never. A wise man may beget dudes or a good man practical politicians; but it's his misfortune, not his fault. The good Lord expects no man to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. I have yet to hear of a single man who became distinguished in any line of human endeavor according to his father the credit for his greatness. Character is moulded at the mother's knee, and in the light of her loving eyes is born that ambition which buoys man up in a sea of troubles—that drive him on through dangers and difficulties, straight to the shining goal.
The Nineteenth century marks the culmination of an era of human triumphs, a brilliant coruscation of victories over the cohorts of Ignorance and Prejudice; but its crown of imperishable glory is the recognition that woman was created to be man's companion and co-laborer instead of his chattel, his joint sovereign of the earth instead of his slave. Fronting the dawn of a grander day, her hand ungyved and her brain unfettered; with broader opportunities for usefulness and boasting a nobler beauty than during the dark and dreary centuries that lie behind her like a hideous dream—such is the woman of the Nineteenth century, and upon the shapely shoulders of this new Pallas I hang my second Providence, to her loving hands I commit the destiny of the race, to her true heart the salvation of the world.
* * * BRANN'S REPLY TO SLATTERY.
[Ex-Priest Joseph Slattery, in his lecture at Waco, Texas, in the interest of the A.P.A., bitterly denounced the ICONOCLAST. During the Slattery lecture Brann rose, pointed his finger at Slattery and said: "You lie and you know it, and I refuse to listen to you." Brann then turned on his heel and walked out. He then hired the same opera house at his own expense and replied to Slattery.]
Fellow Americans: The ICONOCLAST does not please ex- Priest Slattery, "Baptist minister in good standing," and I am not surprised. Its mission, as its name implies, is to expose Frauds and abolish Fakes, to make unrelenting war upon Humbugs and Hypocrites, hence it is not remarkable that Slattery should regard its existence as a personal affront. It is ever the galled jade that winces; or, to borrow from the elegant pulpit vernacular of the Rev. Sam Jones, "it's the hit dog that yelps."
Slattery would have you believe that I'm a rank atheist who's trying to rip religion up by the roots and bang it across a barbed wire fence in close companionship with the hides of Protestant preachers. This charge has been hurled at me by various sectarian papers and malicious ministers; but not one iota of evidence has ever been submitted. It is simply a bald assertion born of sanctified malice, a brazen libel, similar to that which charges the Pope with trying to subvert the American government. I defy Slattery and all that unclean brood of moral vultures, assassins of character and thieves of reputation which trail in his wake and applaud his infamies, to produce one line I ever wrote, or quote one sentence I ever uttered disrespectful of ANY religion, Pagan, Protestant or Catholic. If in the wilds of Central Africa I should find a man bowing down to a dried toad, a stuffed snake or a Slattery, I'd remove my hat as a tribute of respect, not to his judgment, but to his honesty. I have no word of condemnation for any religious faith, however fatuous it may appear to me, that has comforted the dying or consoled the living —that has cast one gleam of supernal sunshine into the dark vale where grope, each beneath his burthen of sorrow, the sons of men. I am not warring upon religious faith, but on falsehood; not upon Christ, but on those who disgrace his cause—who mistake bile for benevolence, gall for godliness and chronic laziness for "a call to preach."
Nor have I taken the Pope of Rome under my apostolic protection. The Popes managed to exist for a great many years before I was born, and, despite the assaults of Slattery, will doubtless continue in business at the old stand for several years to come. I was raised a Protestant, and—thank God!—I'm no apostate. I learned Protestantism at my mother's knee, and from my father's pulpit; but I did not learn there that the Church of Rome is the "Scarlet Woman," nuns unclean creatures and priests the sworn enemies of my country. I learned that but for the Church of Rome the "glad tidings of great joy," which Christ brought to a dying world, would have been irredeemably lost in that dismal intellectual night known as the Dark Ages. I was taught that for centuries the Church of Rome was the repository, not only of the Christian faith, but of civilization itself. I was taught that the Catholic is the mother of the Protestant church, and that no matter how unworthy a parent may be, a child should not become the herald of its mother's shame.
And while being taught my duty as a Protestant, my education as an American citizen was not neglected. I was taught that this was a land of religious liberty, where every man is privileged to worship God in his own way, or ignore him altogether: that it was my duty to insist upon this right, both for myself and for my fellows.
That is why I am the uncompromising enemy of the A.P.A.
Any attempt to debar an American citizen from the honors and emoluments of a public office because of his religious faith, or non-faith, is a flagrant violation of a fundamental principle of this Republic. And no patriot; no man in whose veins there pulses one drop of the blood of the Conscript Fathers, or who would recognize the Goddess of Liberty if he met her in the road; no man imbued with the tolerant spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ will aid or abet such an un-Christian and un-American movement. The A.P.A. is the bastard spawn of Ignorance and Intolerance, was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity.
There may be some honest men connected with the movement; but if honest they should get their heads trepanned to give their brains room to grow. They are as unable as a mule-eared rabbit to comprehend either the broad principles upon which this government is grounded, or its political and religious history. No man—not even Judas Iscariot Slattery—is to blame for his ignorance; so we should humbly pray, Father forgive them, they know not what they do. Nor is the Church of Rome responsible for the shameless apostate's lack of information. It did all that it could to transform him from an ignorant little beggar into an educated gentleman—but even the Pope cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear. It is no fault of the Church of Rome that he's densely ignorant of the very text-book truths of history; that he knows nothing of that Reformation of which he talks so glibly; that he is unable to comprehend the genius of the government upon which he has conferred his more or less valuable citizenship. The fault, if fault it be, lies with the Almighty, who gave him a bad heart and a worse head.
. . .
American Protective Association, eh? That signifies that Uncle Sam is in need of protection. I had hitherto supposed that the gentleman in the highwater pants and star-bespangled cutaway was able to protect himself; but it now appears that unless he crawls under the aegis of the redoubtable Slattery he is—to again borrow from the most popular of all Protestant divines—"a gone sucker." Think of placing Uncle Sam under the protection of a man who is an apostate in religion and a renegade in politics—of an Irishman who apostrophizes the British flag! Think of that kind of a bird presuming to tell the grandsons of Revolutionary soldiers their duties as American citizens.
Slattery assures us that we need protection from the Pope. There was a time when the proudest monarchs of Europe trembled at the Papal nod; but gradually the Pope has been shorn of temporal power, confined ever more to the realm of spiritual, until to-day he exerts about as little influence on the political destiny of this world as does Dr. Cranfill with his little Prohibition craze. But Slattery will have it that the Pope is gradually undermining American institutions—leads us to infer that, sooner or later, he'll blow our blessed constitution at the moon and scatter fragments of the Goddess of Liberty from Dan to Beersheba, from Cape Cod to Kalamazoo. The Pope, it appears, is a veritable Guy Faux, who is tunnelling beneath our national capitol with a keg of giant powder in one hand and a box of lucifer matches in the other. What's the evidence? Why, out in San Francisco, so Slattery says— but as Slattery's been convicted of lying it were well to call for papers—a Catholic school-board was elected and employed only Catholic teachers. The same awful thing happened in Detroit—if Slattery's telling the truth, which is doubtful in the extreme. Then what? With a pride worthy a more American act, this illogical idiot informs us that "when the Protestants captured the school-boards of those cities they discharged every one of the Catholic teachers and put only good Protestants on guard." And at that Baptist brethren—with water on the brain—who boast of Roger Williams, cheered so loudly as to be in danger of lockjaw. In the exuberant imagination of Slattery and his dupes there appears to be a wonderful difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them that what is sauce for the Protestant goose should be sauce for the Catholic gander. They damn the Catholics for doing the very thing for which they commend the Protestant. That's the logic of the A.P.A.—the Aggregation of Pusillanimous Asses. In my humble opinion both were engaged in very small business.
The only difference in the offenders that I can see is that while the Catholics are saying nothing, the Protestants are loudly boasting of their vicious subversion of the American principle of religious liberty. The circumstance is a sharp reminder that if we are to preserve a government of the people, for the people and by the people, we've got to keep religion of ALL kinds out of our politics, just as the framers of the federal constitution intended that we should do. Mixing religion and politics is like mixing whiskey and water—it spoils both.
Slattery would have you believe that our Catholic citizens are simply emissaries of the Pope, to whom they owe allegiance both spiritual and temporal, and that they will, at the first opportunity, subvert American institutions and make this Nation simply a satrapy of the Vatican.
The American Catholic takes his theology from Rome; he takes his politics from the ecumenical council of his party—from the national convention of that partisan organization to which he may chance to belong.
That there can be no "Catholic conspiracy" against the free institutions of this country must be evident to every man of common sense from the simple fact that Catholics are divided among all the political parties— are continually voting against each other. Now I appeal to your judgment—lay aside your religious prejudices for the moment and look at the matter from a non-partisan, non-sectarian standpoint: If our Catholic fellow-citizens be under the thumb of the Pope politically, as the apostate now evangelizing for the A.P.A. would have us believe; and if the Pope desires to make himself temporal ruler of this land, or in any manner direct its affairs, would they not be found voting as a unit—a mighty political machine —instead of being as badly divided on secular questions as the Baptists themselves? San Antonio is a Catholic stronghold, yet a prominent Roman Catholic was overwhelmingly defeated in the last mayoralty election. And I could cite you hundreds of instances where Catholics have voted against men of their own religious faith and elected Protestants or infidels.
Again: If the Pope is plotting against America; and if all manner of crime be considered a virtue when committed by Catholics in furtherance of his ends, as Slattery would have you believe, then it were well to keep a sharp eye on apostate priests. How are we to know that they are not emissaries of the Vatican, commissioned to stir the Protestants up to persecute their brethren in Christ and thereby solidify the Catholic vote? No one, not even Slattery, has accused the Pope of being a fool; and certain it is that the A.P.A. movement, if persisted in, will have the effect of driving the Catholics of this country to political unity in self-defense. Persecution, political ostracism for religious opinion's sake, will infallibly bring about those very conditions which Slattery, Hicks, et al. declare that the Pope desires. The communicants of the Church of Rome will no longer vote as Democrats or Republicans, but as Catholics —and then? With unlimited wealth, and such a political machine at the command of a man so ambitious and unscrupulous as we are asked to believe the Pope to be, the capture of the federal government and the political domination of this country were as easy as lying! The Protestants, divided into a hundred warring factions, many of them farther apart theologically than Episcopalianism and Catholicism, could offer no resistance to such a political machine, and they would receive but cold comfort from the liberal element, which has suffered so long from their petty persecutions.
And I tell you Protestants right here, that if it be the intention of the Church of Rome to transform this government into a theocracy by fair means or by foul, then the Pope is the real founder of the A.P.A. and Slattery's a Papal spy.
. . .
According to the story of this self-constituted protector of the American government, he studied Roman Catholic theology for years, then officiated as a priest for eight more before discovering anything immoral in the teachings of the Mother Church, when it suddenly occurred to him that it was but a tissue of falsehoods, a veritable cesspool of rottenness. His transformation appears to have been almost as sudden as that of Saul of Tarsus—or that of Judas Iscariot. I have no objection to his leaving the Catholic priesthood—his bishop stopped his pay. Like the servant maid caught pilfering, he "gave notice, with the missus a pintin' at the door." If Slattery believes that the Protestant Through Line runs more comfortable cars to the great hereafter, he's welcome to take his ticket over that route; but I would have thought better of him had he made the change quietly and refrained from assaulting with the vindictiveness of a renegade that church to which he owes his education, such as it is; had he treated the religion of his mother with decency if not with respect.
I thought I had met all manner of men; men hardened in crime—men destitute of even a semblance of shame; but never before did I behold one with the hardihood to stand up before American women and boast that he had incurred a mother's curse. When a man falls so low in the scale of human degradation that his own mother disowns him it were well to watch him. When a creature asks strangers to accept him because his relatives have rejected him; when, for the sake of gain, he snaps like a mangy fice at the hand that once fed him, and stings like a poisonous adder the bosom that once nurtured him; when, to promote his personal ends, he will use his best endeavors to exterminate religious liberty and precipitate a bloody sectarian war, I tell you he was not born a man but begotten a beast.
From the very foundation of this government the Catholics have been its firm defenders. Their wisdom and eloquence have adorned its councils from the signing of the Declaration of American Independence to this good day, and its every battlefield, from Lexington to the Custer massacre, has been wet with Catholic blood. Nine Roman Catholics signed the Declaration of Independence, and the Roman Catholics of New York contributed so liberally of their blood and treasure to the cause of the new-born Nation that Washington wrote them a letter praising their patriotism. Several Roman Catholics helped frame the Federal Constitution, and the interpretation of that wonderful instrument by a Roman Catholic chief-justice to- day constitutes the fundamental law of the land. Yet Slattery and that ridiculous organization of which he boasts himself a member, would have you believe that the American Catholics would, at a nod from the Pope, ruthlessly trample under foot that flag in whose defense they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor— that they would wreck without remorse and ruin without regret that Nation they helped place on the map of the world. How do you old Confederates, who followed Pat Cleburne, relish having this blatant tramp defame your dead commander? Can you believe, on the unsupported testimony of this mendacious mountebank, that Father Ryan's tribute to the Stars-and-Bars was rank hypocrisy —that the poet-priest was the political tool of a foreign power? Sherman died a Catholic. Fighting Phil Sheridan was a Catholic. Old Pap Thomas, "the Rock of Chickamauga," was a Catholic. The "Bloody Sixty-ninth" New York was a Catholic regiment, and its heroism at the Battle of Bull Run forms one of the brightest pages in the military history of this nation. Strange it never occurred to those demoralized Protestant regiments which took refuge behind the bayonets of the Sixty-ninth that they were throwing the Vatican between themselves and the Confederate forces!
Slattery assures us that the number of Irish Catholics on the police force of our great cities is evidence that the Church of Rome is on mischief bent. I am not surprised that an Irish Catholic with a club in his hand should prove rather alarming to Bro. Slattery. But, although he says, "meet a policeman and you'll see the map of Ireland in his face," those same policemen have several times saved his worthless bacon. When he was mobbed in St. Louis for defaming Catholic nuns, the police formed a cordon around his infamous carcass and saved him from a well- merited trouncing at the hands of the slandered women's relatives. Probably the police did not relish the job overmuch, but they had sworn to uphold the laws, and although Slattery insists that a Catholic oath amounts to nothing, they risked their lives in his defense.
We have many nationalities in this country, and each of them, as every observant man well knows, manifests a predilection for some special occupation. Thus the Jews take to trade, the Germans to agriculture, the Norwegians to lumbering, the French to catering and the Irish to politics. Make a Freewill Baptist or a Buddhist of an Irishman and you do not change his nature—he'll turn up at the next political convention just the same. And the man who's too good to take a hand in practical politics; who's too nice to mingle with the horny-handed at the ward primaries; who's too busy to act as delegate to the convention—who deliberately neglects his duty as an American citizen—finds that Pat's activity has been rewarded with a place on the police force, and blames it all on the Pope.
. . .
It is not my province to defend Roman Catholic theology —I suppose that Slattery said all that could be urged in its behalf before he apostatized. Perhaps the Catholics really believe the Pope infallible; and if they do, it is certainly no worse than for certain Waco Protestants to believe that Slattery's infallible. I noticed that at his lecture last week they cheered every charge he preferred against either the Pope or the "Apostle," and that without asking for an iota of evidence. When I arose at the stag party with which he wound up the intellectual debauch, and questioned his infallibility, the good brethren cried, "Throw him out!" Why did they so unless they believed that to question the supernal wisdom and immaculate truth of aught a Baptist minister might say, were sacrilege —a sin against the Holy Ghost?
Here was I, their fellow citizen of Waco, I had done them no harm; yet when a strolling vagabond, wearing God's livery, and whose forte is the defamation of women, made a statement, which if true, would forever disgrace me in the eyes of the world; when he preferred this charge against me within two blocks of where my babies lay sleeping, they wanted to mob me for branding him then and there as an infamous liar and a cowardly blackguard.
Mark you, I'm no tramp in America. This is the house of my fathers. They helped hew it out of the Virginia wilderness. They helped put Old Glory in the heavens, and to keep it there for more than a hundred years, still it appears that I have no rights in this country which a foreigner with the smell of the steerage still upon him is bound to respect, if he chances to be a Baptist preacher.
Talk to me about the Church of Rome muzzling free speech when the A.P.A. would mob an American citizen for defending his character from the infamous falsehoods of a foreign tramp! "Throw him out!" Why throw him out? I'll tell you: The sanctified buzzards had gone there with appetites sharpened for a mess of carrion, and they were afraid I'd kill their cook. "Throw him out!" But I noticed that those who were splitting their faces as wide as Billy Kersands' were glued to their seats. They wanted somebody else to throw him out. They were anxious to see a gang of three or four hundred sanctified hoodlums trample upon me, but there was not one among the self- constituted protectors of this mighty American Nation with sufficient "sand" to lead the mob. If there were no better Americans than those trailing in the wake of the Rev. Joseph Slattery, like buzzards following a bad smell, I'd take a cornstalk, clean out the whole shooting-match and stock the country with niggers and yaller dogs. If such cattle were sired by Satan, damned by Sycorax and born in hell they would dishonor their parents and disgrace their country.
Slattery insists that Catholics believe thus-and-so, and that no man with such a faith concealed about his person can be a good American citizen. I don't know about that; but I do know that if the Catholics act in strict accordance with their religious creed they are the only people in this country that do so. I've learned that you can't judge a man by his catechism. Slattery assures us that he has discarded the Pope and taken Christ for his immediate guide. The latter commands his followers to pray for those who despitefully use them; but if Slattery did any praying for the "Apostle" during his sojourn in this city he managed to keep that fact a profound secret. Christ enjoins patience and humility. He tells his followers to turn the other cheek to the smiter; yet Slattery assured the ladies Wednesday night that he was "a great believer in muscular Christianity." Then he placed his 250 pounds of stall-fed beef in fighting attitude and declared he'd "like to have his enemies come at him one at a time"—to be prayed for, I presume. If Christ taught "muscular Christianity" I have inadvertently overlooked a bet. Christ commands us to love our enemies, but doesn't suggest that we should manifest our affection by lying about 'em. He rebuked those who tattled about a common courtesan, yet Slattery defamed decent women. No, you can't judge a man by his creed. If the allegiance of the Catholics to the Pope is of the same character as that of Slattery to the Lord Jesus Christ, Uncle Sam need not lie awake o' nights to worry about "Papal plots."
Had Slattery been truly a Christian, instead of black- guarding me when protected by the presence of ladies, he would have put up a fervent prayer for my immediate conversion to the Baptist faith. But his milk of human kindness had soured—he was short on Christian charity and long on gall.
"Faith, hope and charity," says St. Paul; "and the greatest of these is charity." And he might have added that it's also the scarcest. Perhaps that's what makes it so valuable—the supply is ever equal to the demand.
Speaking of charity reminds me of my experience with the Protestant preachers of San Antonio, some of whom, I understand, are aiding and abetting this A.P.A. movement, "designed to preserve the priceless liberty of free speech." While editor of the morning paper of that city I was in the habit of writing a short sermon for the Sunday edition, for the benefit of those who could not go to church, I supposed that the ministers would sanction my clerical efforts, but they didn't. They wanted no assistance in saving souls, considered that they should be accorded a monopoly in that line and were entitled to all the emoluments. They proceeded to thunder at me from the pulpit, and sometimes three or four perspiring pulpiteers were pounding away at me at the same time—and incidentally making me very popular. I dropped into a swell church one Sunday morning to get a little grace— a building that cost up in the six figures while people were living in $4 jackals and subsisting on 50 cents a week within sound of its bells—and the minister was holding a copy of the Express aloft in one hand and a Bible in the other and demanding of his congregation: "Which will you take—Brann or God?" Well, they seemed to think that if they couldn't have both they'd best take God, though some of the sinners on the back seats were a trifle subsequent in making up their minds.
I kept hammering away—preaching to my little congregation of fifteen or twenty thousand readers every Sunday, as I now do to ten times that many a month—until finally the Ministerial Association met, perorated, whereased, resoluted and wound up by practically demanding of the proprietor of the Express that I be either muzzled or fired. And all this time the Catholic priests said never a word—and San Antonio is a Catholic city. But the Baptist ministers were running a sneaking boycott! Yet the Church of Rome is the boa-constrictor that's trying to throttle the American right of free speech!
The Y.M.C.A. invited me to lecture on Humbugs, and that scared the Ministerial Association nearly to death. They thought I was after 'em now sure, so they went to the officials of the Y.M.C.A. and made them cancel the date. And the only Protestant minster in the entire city who did not join in this attempt to throttle free speech was an Episcopalian—and the Episcopalians are not Protestants to hurt. Yet when these ministers, who are now so fearful that the Church of Rome will muzzle somebody, found that they couldn't drive me out of town; that they couldn't take the bread from the mouths of my babes because I had dared utter my honest thoughts like a freeman; that I was to continue to edit the Express so long as I liked, they came fawning about me like a lot of spaniels afraid of the lash! But not one of them ever tried to convert me. Not one of them ever tried, by kindly argument, to convince me that I was wrong. Not one of them ever invited me to church—or prayed for me, so far as I could learn. Perhaps they thought I was past redemption.
Slattery cautions you not to send your children to convent schools, declaring that he "never yet saw a nun who was an educated woman." That statement, standing alone, ought to convince every one blessed with a thinking apparatus that Slattery's a fraud. Some of the best educated women in this world have entered convents. Women upon whose tuition fortunes have been expended are now making convent schools deservedly popular with the intelligent people.
He says ignorance is the correlative of Catholicism, and points to Spain as proof of this startling assertion. There was a time when Spain stood in the very forefront of civilization, in the van of human progress, the arbiter of the world's political destiny,—and Spain was even more Catholic then than it is to-day. Nations and civilizations have their youth, their lusty manhood and their decay, and it were idle to attribute the decline of Spain to Catholicism as the decadence of Greece to Paganism. The Catholic church found Spain a nation of barbarians and brought it up to that standard of civilization where a Spanish monarch could understand the mighty plans of Columbus. It was her Catholic Majesty, Queen Isabella, who took from her imperial bosom the jewels with which to buy a world—who exchanged the pearls of the Orient for the star of Empire. The Catholic church found England a nation of barbarians and brought it up, step by step, until Catholic barons wrung from King John at Runnymede the Great Charter—the mother of the American Constitution. It found Ireland a nation of savages and did for it what the mighty power of the Caesars could not—brought it within the pale of civilization. But for the Roman Catholic Church Slattery might be wearing a breech clout, digging roots with his finger nails and gorging himself with raw meat in Ireland to-day instead of insulting the intelligence of American audiences and wringing money from fanatics and fools by warring upon the political institutions of their fathers.
. . .
Slattery was horrified to learn that some of the nuns were inclined to talk about each other. I sincerely trust that he will find none of the Baptist sisters addicted to the same bad habit.
From what I could gather of his discourse,—before I was "put out"—and from the report of his alleged wife's lectures, I infer that this delectable twain impeach the virtue of the Roman Catholic sisterhoods. Malice, like death, loves a shining mark, and there is no hate so venomous as that of the apostate. But before giving credence to such tales, let me ask you: Why should a woman exchange the brilliant parlor for a gloomy cell in which to play the hypocrite? Why should a cultured woman of gentle birth deliberately forego the joys of wife and motherhood, the social triumph and the freedom of the world and condemn herself to a life of labor, a dreary round of drudgery, if her heart's impure? For shame!
Who is it that visits the slums of our great cities ministering to the afflicted, comforting the dying, reclaiming the fallen? When pestilence sweeps over the land and mothers desert their babes and husbands their wives, who is it that presses the cup of cold water to the feverish lip and closes the staring eyes of the deserted dead? Who was it that went upon the Southern battle-fields to minister to the wounded soldiers, followed them to the hospitals and tenderly nursed them back to life? The Roman Catholic sisterhoods, God bless them!
One of those angels of mercy can walk unattended and unharmed through our "Reservation" at midnight. She can visit with impunity the most degraded dive in the White-chapel district. At her coming the ribald song is stilled and the oath dies on the lips of the loafer. Fallen creatures reverently touch the hem of her garments, and men steeped in crime to the very lips involuntarily remove their hats as a tribute to noble womanhood. The very atmosphere seems to grow sweet with her coming and the howl of hell's demons to grow silent. None so low in the barrel-house, the gambling hell or the brothel as to breathe a word against her good name; but when we turn to the Baptist pulpit there we find an inhuman monster clad in God's livery, saying, "Unclean, unclean!" God help a religious denomination that will countenance such an infamous cur!
As a working journalist I have visited all manner of places. I have written up the foulest dives that exist on this continent, and have seen Sisters of Charity enter them unattended. Had one of the inmates dared insult them he would have been torn in pieces. And I have sat in the opera house of this city—boasting itself a center of culture—and heard a so-called man of God speak flippantly of the Catholic sisterhoods, and professing Christians applaud him to the echo.
Merciful God! if heaven is filled with such Christians, send me to hell, with those whose sins are human! Better everlasting life in a lake of fire than enforced companionship in Paradise for one hour with the foul harpies that groaned "awmen" to Slattery's infamous utterances. God of Israel! to think that those unmanly scabs, those psalm-singing vultures are Americans and our political brethren!
. . .
I know little about the private lives of the Catholic priesthood; but this I do know: They were the first to plant the standard of Christian faith in the New World. They were the first to teach the savages something of the blessings of civilization. I do know that those of them who were once Protestants are not making a specialty of defaming the faith of their fathers. I do know that neither hardship nor danger can abate their holy zeal and that hundreds of them have freely given their lives in the service of the Lord. And why should a man devote his body to God and his soul to the devil? I do know that one of them has given us the grandest example of human sacrifice for others' sake that this great world affords. Even Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me"; but Father Damien pressed a cup even more bitter to his own lips and drained it to the dregs—died for the sake of suffering mortals a death to which the cross were mercy.
The Protestants admit that they are responsible for the inoculation of the simple Sandwich Islanders with the leprosy; yet when those who fell victims to the foul disease were segregated, made prisoners upon a small island in the mid-Pacific, not a Protestant preacher in all the earth could be found to minister to them. The Lord had "called" 'em all into his vineyard, but it appears that he didn't call a blessed one of them to that leper colony where people were rotting alive, with none to point them to that life beyond the grave where all the sins and corruptions of the flesh are purged away and the redeemed stand in robes of radiant white at the right hand of God. I blame no man for declining the sacrifice. To set foot upon that accursed spot was to be declared unclean and there confined until death released you—death by leprosy, the most appalling disease in all the dreadful catalogue of human ills, the most dreaded arrow in the quiver of the grim Destroyer. Yet Father Damien, a young Roman Catholic priest, left home and country and all that life holds dear, and went deliberately forth to die for afflicted barbarians. There he reared an humble temple with his own hands to the God of his fathers, there, through long years of confinement, he ministered to the temporal and spiritual wants of the afflicted; there he died, as he knew he must die, with his fingers falling from his hands, his flesh from his bones, a sight to appall the very imps of hell. No wonder the Protestant ministers held aloof. Merciful God. I'd rather be crucified!
We are all brave men when the war-drum throbs and the trumpet calls us to battle beneath the eyes of the world, —when, touching elbows with our fellows and clad in all the glorious pomp and circumstance of war we seek the bubble of fame e'en at the cannon's mouth. When the music of the battery breeds murder in the blood, the electric order goes ringing down the line, is answered by the thrilling cheer, the veriest coward drives the spur deep into the foaming flank and plunges, like a thunderbolt, into the gaping jaws of death, into the mouth of hell; but when a man was wanted to go forth alone, without blare of trumpet or drum, and become a life-prisoner in a leper colony, but one in all the world could be found equal to that supreme test of personal heroism, and that man was a Roman Catholic priest. And what was his reward? Hear what Thos. G. Sherman, a good Protestant, says in the New York Post:
"Before the missionaries gained control of the islands; leprosy was unknown. But with the introduction of strange races, leprosy established itself and rapidly increased. An entire island was properly devoted to the lepers. No Protestant missionary would venture among them. For this I do not blame them, as, no doubt, I should not have had the courage to go myself. But a noble Catholic priest consecrated his life to the service of the lepers, lived among them, baptized them, educated them, and brought some light and happiness into their wretched lives. Stung by the contrast of his example, the one remaining missionary, a recognized and paid agent of the American Board, spread broadcast the vilest slanders against Father Damien."
So it appears that the world is blessed with two Slatterys.
There are three kinds of liars at large in the land: The harmless Munchausen who romances for amusement, and whose falsehoods do no harm; the Machiavellian liar, whose mendacity bears the stamp of original genius, and the stupid prevaricator, who rechews the fetid vomit of other villains simply because he lacks a fecund brain to breed falsehoods to which he may play the father. And Slattery's a rank specimen of the latter class. When he attempts to branch out for himself he invariably comes to grief. After giving a dreadful account of how Catholics persecute those who renounce the faith, declaring that they were a disgrace to the church while within its pale, he produced a certificate from a Philadelphia minister to the effect that he—the Philadelphian—had visited Slattery's old parish in Ireland and the Catholics there declared that he was a good and faithful priest! What Slattery seems to lack to become a first-class fraud is continuity of thought. He lies fluently, even entertainingly, but not consistently.
The apostate priest would have the various Protestant denominations throw down the bars that separate them and mark off their theological bailiwicks "with little beds of flowers." The idea is a good one—and I can but wonder where Slattery stole it. Still I can see no cogent reason for getting all the children together in happy union and leaving their good old mother out in the cold.
Throw down all the bars, and let every division of the Great Army of God, whether wearing the uniform of Buddhist or Baptist, Catholic or Campbellite, Methodist or Mohammedan, move forward, with Faith its sword, Hope its ensign and Charity its shield. Cease this foolish internecine strife, at which angels weep, swing into line as sworn allies and, at the command of the Great Captain, advance your standards on the camp of the common foe. Wage war, not upon each other, but on Poverty, Ignorance and Crime, hell's great triumvirate, until this beautiful world's redeemed and bound in very truth,
"With gold chains about the feet of God."
THE LOCAL OPTION LUNACY.
[Mr. Brann was billed to lecture at Hillsboro, Texas, on the eve of the local option election. The Antis took possession of the opera house and changed his subject. Following is a synopsis of his address.]
Ladies and Gentlemen: I came here to talk on "Gall," and I find that I must speak on "Prohibition"—a distinction without a difference. I hold in my hand a printed challenge from the Prohib committee to meet Hon. W. K. Homan in joint debate to-night—a challenge issued when they were well aware that I was to lecture here this evening. They felt certain that I would not forego a lecture fee to mix it with them without money and without price; but they didn't know their man. I'm always willing to make some sacrifice to secure the luxury of a red-hot intellectual scrapping match. We proposed to make it a Midshipman Easy duel, a three-cornered fight—Brothers Homan and Benson vs. the "Apostle," but they wiggled in and they wiggled out, they temporized and tergiversated until we saw there wasn't an ounce of fight in the whole Prohibition crew—that, after their flamboyant defi, we couldn't pull 'em into a joint debate with a span of mules and a log-cabin. I last saw Bro. Bill Homan at Hubbard City. He was getting out of town on the train I got in on —after promising that he would remain over and meet me. In his harangue the night before he told his auditors that I'd simply "abuse the church and make ugly faces." Well, I didn't abuse the church on that occasion, nor upon any other, albeit I sometimes make it a trifle uncomfortable for some of its unworthy representatives. I cannot help "making ugly faces." It's my misfortune, not my fault. I was born good and Bro. Bill was born beautiful. He's the Adonis of the rostrum, the Apollo Belvidere of the bema. He's so dodgasted "purty" that the children cry for him. Had he come to earth two thousand years ago some Grecian goddess would have stolen him. Bro. Bill couldn't make an ugly face if he tried. If he ever catches sight of his own personal pulchritude as reflected in some translucent lake, I much fear that he'll meet with the fate of Narcissus. Some of you Prohibs don't know who Narcissus was. Well, he was one of those fellows whom cold water killed.
I'm no professional anti-Prohibition spouter, and have been jumped up here without preparation; but it occurs to me that it requires no careful rehearsal of set orations before an amorous looking glass, no studied intermingling of pathos, bathos and blue fire to demolish the Prohibition fallacy. Liberty is ever won by volunteers; the shackles of political and religious slavery are forged by the hands of hirelings. Prohibition cannot withstand the light of logic, the lessons of experience, nor the crucible of the commonest kind of common sense.
Milton tells us that the angel Ithuriel found the devil "squat like a toad," distilling poison in the ear of sleeping Eve; that he touched the varmint with his spear, and forthwith Satan resumed his proper shape and fled shrieking out of Paradise. Prohibition is another evil spirit that is breeding trouble in man's Eden; but when touched by the spear-point of legitimate criticism its disguise falls away, and we see, instead of a harmless toad, a malicious Meddlesome Mattie stirring up strife and bitterness among brethren.
Whenever a man opposes the plans of the Prohibs he is forthwith denounced as an enemy of morality, a slave of the saloons, a hireling of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. Well, I had rather be the emissary of the saloons than the assassin of liberty, the slave of a brewer than the blind peon of ignorant prejudice, while if morality consists in attending to my neighbor's business to the neglect of my own, then I'm ferninst it, first, last and all the time. As a good German friend of mine once remarked: "Dot beoples who lives py stones of mine shouldn't trow some glass houses, haind id?" Who is making money out of this agitation? The Professional Prohibs. Did you ever know of one of these gentry making a Prohibition speech except for filthy lucre—unless he was electioneering for office or taking subscribers for a cold-water journal? They are the cattle who are OUT FOR THE STUFF; they are the mercenaries—the men who pump foul air through their faces for a fee. Did you ever hear of a man getting paid for defending the doctrine of personal liberty? Did you ever see a collection taken up at an anti-prohibition meeting to pay some important spouter for pointing out to the people their political duty? (A voice: "Nix.") And you never will. These prohibition orators have the impudence to denounce me as "the peon of the rum power" while I am fighting the battles of personal liberty at my own cost, yet not a dad-burned one of 'em will open his head unless paid for his wind-power! They are "reformers" for revenue only.
I have noticed that, as a rule, men who speak against Prohibition have never been in the gutter, while those who pick up a precarious livelihood by chasing the "Rum Demon" around a stump have usually been his very humble slaves. I have noticed that the men who oppose Prohibition are usually the solid, well-to-do men of the community, the heavy tax-payers the men upon whom the schools, the churches and the state chiefly depend for support, while those who champion it on the rostrum are usually living in some way upon the industry of others. The man who has brains enough to make money and keep it usually has too much sense to be a Prohibitionist. It is the fellows who have made a failure of life; who live on donations; who weep over the world's wickedness, then take up a collection to enable them to get to the next town; who haven't sufficient moral stamina to stay sober, that are prating of Prohibition. If we required a property franchise you couldn't muster five thousand Prohibition votes between the Sabine and the Rio Grande.
And yet we are told that licensing the saloons is a bad business investment; that it costs more than it comes to; that the way to abolish poverty is to abrogate the liquor license law. Strange that the Prohibs should possess such transcendent business heads and such empty stomachs! Doubtless the drinking of liquor adds to the cost of our judiciary; doubtless it is responsible for some crime; but the question at issue is not one of liquor-drinking vs. teetotalism—it is a question of drinking licensed liquor or Prohibition aquafortis. It is not a question of reducing the cost of our courts, but of making liquor bear its due proportion of the burdens it foists upon the people.
I am neither the friend nor enemy of liquor, any more than I am the enemy or friend of buttermilk. I have drunk both a third of a century and have been unable to see that they did me any especial good or harm. I was never befuddled on the one nor foundered on the other, and have managed to get along very well with both. Whether in eating or drinking, a man should keep his brains above his belt, and if he cannot do that he's a precious poor excuse for an uncrowned King, an American Sovereign.
The statistics furnished by the Prohibition orators are fearfully and wonderfully made. It has been asserted in this campaign that a million Americans die every year of the world from the effects of strong drink—and all this great army goes direct to hell. The man who made that statement is a preacher, and presumably familiar with the Bible; but he has evidently overlooked the story of Ananias and Saphira. I learn from the United States census report, which I hold in my hand, that in the very year in which this Prohibition apostle claims a million Americans were slain by strong drink, the statistical experts could find but 1,592 victims of John Barleycorn. The doctors have ever claimed that more people die of over-eating than of over-drinking, and the census report bears out the assertion, for in the year in which 1,592 people were filed away by "alcoholism," 30,094 deaths are accredited to "diseases of the digestive organs." What causes indigestion? Over-eating, or eating food difficult of digestion. Now I submit that if Brothers Benson, Homan, et al, are trying to save the people of this land from premature graves and bear the stock of the coffin trust, they should direct their crusade against indigestible food,—reduce the people of this Nation by means of statutory law to a diet of cornbread and buttermilk. Let them bring all their ballistae and battering-rams to bear upon the toothsome mince pie, the railway sandwich, the hard-boiled egg and pickled pigs' feet—that pestilence that walks in darkness. Indigestion is indeed a fruitful source of crime. It casts the black shadow of chronic pessimism athwart the sunniest soul and transforms happy homes into dens of despair. It makes men irritable, morose, and prompts them to homicide. Who can tell how much misery and crime the wretched cookery of female Prohibitionists is responsible for? How the cost of our criminal courts might be reduced if these she-reformers would but attend to their kitchens and dish up for their lords and masters grub that would more easily assimilate with the gastric juices! If a man be fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils when loaded with a half a pint of red licker, what must be the condition of his mind and morals when he's full of sodden pie, half baked beans and soda-biscuits that if fired from a cannon would kill a bull?
The theory that strong drink is an unmixed evil that must be abolished, is not in accord with the genius of this government, which would give to the individual untrammeled liberty in matters concerning only himself. Experience has proven Prohibition a rank failure and the customs of mankind from the very dawn of history brand it a rotten fraud. The people of every age and clime have used stimulants, and we may safely conclude that, despite the Prohibs, they will be employed so long as man exists upon the earth. Banish liquor and man will find a substitute even though it be opium, morphine or cocaine. It is said that Thor, the great northern god of war, once tried to lift what he supposed was an old woman, but found to his sorrow that it was a mighty serpent which, in Norse mythology, encircles the world. The Prohibs are warring upon what they foolishly imagine to be frivolous habit of man, but will yet learn that they are running counter to an immutable decree of God—are trying to alter the physical constitution of the human race by means of local option elections.
So far as I am personally concerned, I would care but little if every ounce of liquor was banished from the earth and its method of manufacture forever be forgotten; but I object to having a lot of he-virgins and female wall-flowers sit at my muzzle and dictate how I shall load myself. If I'm an American sovereign I propose to be supreme autocrat of my own stomach. When I want advice regarding what I shall eat and what I shall drink I'll consult a doctor of medicine instead of a doctor of divinity.
I do not oppose Prohibition because I am the friend of liquor, but because I am the friend of liberty. I would rather see a few boozers than a race of bondmen. I am not interested in preserving the liquor traffic, but I am interested in the perpetuation of those principles that ennoble a people and make manly men—men who rely upon themselves for their social salvation rather than upon a public policy which may change with the phases of the moon or the arrival of some new demagogue from distant parts. I have but little use for men who must swing to the apron-strings of a public grand-dame or go to the dogs. Let us reserve the nursery for children. Men whom we cannot trust with the guardianship of their own appetites should not be allowed to run at large. How would you young ladies like to marry "American Sovereigns" who must be tied up, like a lot of mangy cayuses when white clover is in blossom to keep 'em from catching the "slobbers"?
But, the Prohibs inform us, the brightest men of the world are ruined by strong drink. They assure us that "it is not a question of intellect, but of appetite." What was judgment given us for if not to control our appetites? If Appetite be paramount to judgment why do we hang rape-fiends? Let me tell you the idea that the brainiest men of the world die drunkards is the merest moonshine. If only men of genius drank liquor a one-horse still would supply the demand and be idle six months in the year. Take the thousand greatest men the world has produced —the Thousand Immortelles—and not 2 per cent. of them died drunkards, yet 98 per cent. of them drank liquor. If the Prohibs have ever produced an intellect of the first class they must have hidden it under a bushel. Its possessor is probably one of those village Hampdens or mute inglorious Miltons of whom the poet sings. The Prohibs don't run to great men—they run to gab.
Stripped of all its superfluous trappings, the thesis of Prohibition is simply this: "Some men drink to excess; therefore no one should be permitted to drink at all. The human race must reserve its inherent tastes and time-honored habits lest some wild-eyed jay get on a jag." The question at issue, the riddle for us to unravel, is simply this: Can we afford to sacrifice human liberty to save the sots? Is the game worth the candle, and if we burn the candle will we win the game?
The Pros assure you that Prohibition prohibits. It does. It prohibits the sale of liquor and supplies its place with coffin paint. It prohibits the sale of good, ice cold beer and gives us forty-rod bugjuice. Theories are not worth a continental when slammed up against conditions. What I hear I take with a grain of salt; but what I see that I do know. I tell you candidly that next to a pretty woman I love a cocktail. If the liquor is good and the barkeeper understands his business, I consider it a thing to thank God for—occasionally. Like religion, a little of it is an excellent thing, but an overdose will put wheels in your head. I have never yet been in a Prohibition precinct where I needed to go thirsty if I had the price of a pint flask concealed about my person—and my stomach could stand the poison.
When high license prevailed in Hillsboro you had a dozen saloons, each contributing to the revenues of the state, the country, the municipality and the school fund. You voted local option in, and now you've thirty-two unlicensed and unregulated doggeries selling rot-gut to schoolboys and contributing not one cent to the public revenues. The cost of your courts has increased, drunkenness was never so common, brawls never so frequent. It is said that even fools can learn in the bitter school of experience; but there be idiots upon whom even such lessons are lost. But you say, "Vote local option in again and we'll elect officers who will enforce the laws." Have you yet to learn that a law cannot be enforced that is not steadily upheld by public opinion? And do you not know that there's not a considerable town in Texas where public opinion demands at all times a strict enforcement of such a law? If you really desire to have a sober city, raise a purse and hire the operators of your blind tigers to place their booze on the sidewalk in buckets, accompanied by tin dippers and signs, "Help yourself—funerals furnished free." Men would then run away from the very smell of the stuff who now sneak up dirty alleys and pay 15 cents for the privilege of poisoning themselves. On the same principle some men—and they are not all anti-Prohibs either—will leave a beautiful and charming wife to mope at home while they are flirting with some female whose face would frighten a freight-train. Man is just like a dog—only more so. Perhaps a marauding old muley cow would be a better comparison. A muley cow will eat anything on this majestic earth that she can steal, from a hickory shirt to a Prohibition newspaper, and if she can't get it through her neck she will chew it and suck the juice. That's human nature to a hair. Man values most what is hardest to get. And until you reverse the law of nature the legitimate effect of Prohibition will be blind tigers and back-door sneaks, the breeding of spies and the sale and consumption of an infinitely meaner brand of booze.
That liquor has done a vast amount of damage I freely concede; but shall we banish everything that has added to the mighty tide of human ills? Then what have we left? A hole in the atmosphere, God has not bequeathed to man an unmixed blessing since he expelled him from Paradise. Even woman, his last, best gift, hath grievous faults. The very first one brought into this world, according to Pagan legend and Holy Writ, was the author of all our ills. But for her we would be to-day in a blessed state of innocence, where mothers-in-law and millinery bills, political issues and itinerant preachers, mental freaks and professional reformers, jim-jams and jag cure joints disturb us not. Instead of all this toil and trouble we would lie like gods reclining on banks of asphodel, pull the heavenly bell-cord when hungry and live on from age to age, ever young Apollos. Perhaps the Almighty made a mistake when he gave to man a wife, and another when he gave him the vine; but when he corrects 'em I'll crawl off the earth.
Woman has filled the world with war's alarms, and the bacchic revel has ended in the brawl. Troy flamed because Menelaus' wife was false, and Philip's all-conquering son surrendered to the brimming bowl. Ever is our dearest joy wedded to our direst woe. The same air that comes stealing round our pillow, laden with the sensuous perfume of a thousand flowers, rips our towns to pieces and turns our artesian wells inside out. The same rains that fructify the earth pour the destructive flood. The same intellectual power that bends nature's mighty forces to man's imperial will, enables him to trample upon his brethren. The same reckless courage that breaks the tyrant's chain ofttimes stains the hand with a brother's blood. The same longing for woman's sweet companionship that leads these to rear happy homes—sacred shrines from which incense mounts night and day to the throne of Omnipotent God—goads those to lawless love. The empurpled juice that warms the cold heart and stirs the sluggish blood that gives to the orator lips of gold, to the poet promethean fire abused doth breed the hasty quarrel and make the god a beast.
It was said of old that a middle course is safest and best, and the axiom still holds good. All the Utopias thus far inaugurated were greased at the wrong end. The fact that since the dawn of history—aye, so far back that legend itself is lost in the shadows of the centuries—the winecup has circulated about the social board, proves that it supplies a definite, an inherent human want—that it fills a niche in the world's economy. One of the first acts of a people after passing the pale of savagery is to supply itself with stimulants. Why this is so, I do not pretend to know; but so it is, and it argues that the Prohibition apostles have tackled about as big a contract as did Dame Partington—that they had best "pluck a few feathers from the wing of their fancy wherewith to supply the tail of their judgment."
The Prohibs declare that 999 out of every 1,000 crimes are caused by liquor. Suppose this to be true: Does it take the cussedness out of liquor to drive it from the front room into the back alley? Is it not a fact that the worst brand of "fighting booze" is dispensed at the illicit doggery? But the Prohibs are as badly at sea anent their criminal statistics as in the mortuary report. Comparatively few of the great criminals of this country ever drank liquor to excess. But a small per cent. of those in our penitentiaries were confirmed drunkards when accorded the hospitality of the state. When a man is convicted of crime he naturally seeks a scapegoat. Adam threw all the blame of that apple episode on Eve, simply because liquor had not then been invented and he could not plead an Edenic jag in extenuation. I was once interviewing a man who had just been sentenced to the penitentiary for horse-theft. I thought that perhaps a cocktail would cause him to talk freer, and had one smuggled to his cell. He declined it, saying that he had never taken but one drink of liquor in his life, and that made him sick.
"But," said I, "you told the court that you were crazy drunk when you committed the crime."
"Yes," he replied, "I'd rather be thought a drunkard than a natural born d——d thief."
That led me to investigate. I interviewed the recorder of Galveston, the chief of police, the sheriff of the county, the district attorney and several other officials. We went over the records, and the habits of each offender were carefully inquired into. As a matter of course the "drunks and disorderlies" made an imposing list; but we were unable to trace the influence of liquor in more than 3 per cent. of the serious crimes committed in Galveston city and county during five years.
The great cry of the Prohibs is, "Save the boys; remove temptation from their path." Well, that's all right, if you've got a putty boy; but if I had a boy who wanted to go on a whizz and wasn't smart enough to find the means despite all the Prohibs in Christendom, I'd send him to the insane asylum. I was reading the other day of some college youths who were watched so closely that they couldn't obtain liquor, and proceeded to fill up on illuminating gas. If the supply of gas holds out those youngsters are likely to develop into great Prohibition orators. If you want to keep your boy from filling a drunkard's grave, begin by getting a sure-enough boy— one whose brain-pan lies above instead of below his ears. Then raise him right. Don't tell him that every man who sells liquor is an emissary of hell, and that every man who drinks it is a worthless sot. If you do, he'll soon find out that you are a liar without sufficient intelligence to build a dangerous falsehood, and he'll take off the muzzle. Tell him the truth and thereby retain his confidence. Tell him that liquor is a pretty good thing to let alone, but that millions of better men than his daddy have drank it and lived and died sober and useful citizens.
Prohibition was first tried in the Garden of Eden. It proved a failure there, and it has proven a failure ever since. It is not in accord with the Christian Bible, the fundamental law of the land or the lessons of history. Wine has been used in almost every religious rite except Mohammedanism and devil worship. St. Paul recommends it, Christ made and used it and God saved Noah while letting all the good Prohibitionists drown. The Saviour came eating and drinking. Abraham Lincoln declared Prohibition "a species of intemperance within itself" and "a blow at the very principles on which our government was founded." General Grant, Thomas Jefferson, Horatio Seymour and John Quincy Adams denounced it in unmeasured terms. Who's taking issue with these giants of the intellect? Redlicker Benson of Ingeanny, who has come all the way to Texas to tell us barbarians what to do to be saved—and incidentally pick up enough money to pay for another "jag"; Whoopee Kalamity Homan, the pretty man of Dallas, whose chief argument is that I abuse the churches—which is an infernal falsehood; and Jehovah Boanerges Cranfill, an ex-bum who aspires to the presidency of the United States, but couldn't be elected pound-master in his own precinct.
I have been asked why, if as much liquor is sold under Prohibition as under high license, the saloonists insist upon contributing to the public revenues. The answer's dead easy. The men who engineer blind tigers vote the Prohibition ticket. They contribute to the campaign fund. They help pay the fees of the cold water spouters and sputers. More liquor is sold under local option than under high license, because of man's natural hankering for forbidden fruits; but it is sold by a different class of men and is a different kind of booze. It is sold by chronic law- breakers, by men who have little to lose, by toughs for whom the bat-cage hath no terrors. The man who is capable of straddling an unlicensed keg of bug-juice in a back-room and ladling out liquid hell to little boys, is quite naturally in favor of Prohibition. A man of respectability, and who is financially responsible for offenses, desires to keep within the limits of the law. That's the reason that respectable saloon men are the enemies of Prohibition.
Legalize the sale of liquor and you will have some crime, no doubt. You will have paupers and criminals to provide for, but you'll have a revenue to help bear the burdens. Prohibit it and you'll have the burdens without the revenue. Permit its sale and you will have law-abiding citizens engaged in the traffic, men who will try to make it decent, who will take a pride in the purity of their wares and the orderliness of their places; prohibit it, and you will have a lot of law-breakers on the one hand selling slumgullion made of cheap chemicals and general cussedness, and a gang of spies and informers on the other stirring up strife and entailing costly litigation.
When driven to the wall; when it is clearly demonstrated that their doctrine does not accord with the genius of this government; when it is amply proven that wherever tried it has proven an expensive failure, an arrant fraud, the Prohibs fall back upon the Bible. You may prove five hundred different religious dogmas by the Bible, but Prohibition is not one of them. Bro. Homan declares that the Old Testament prohibits the drinking of wine. It does not; but it does not make circumcision obligatory, and a sin of omission is as bad as a sin of commission. If Bro. Homan proposes to be guided by the Old Testament I beg to suggest that he is overlooking a very important bit. The Old Testament commands no class of people to abstain from wine, except the Jewish priesthood, and they ONLY WHILE PERFORMING THEIR SACRED OFFICES. An angel of the Lord did command the barren Manoah to stay sober awhile and she should conceive and bear a son; and I imagine that something equally as miraculous might happen to Luther Benson under similar circumstances. David recounts as one of God's mercies that he giveth water to the wild ass and wine to make glad the heart of man. Solomon sings to the wine cup with all the ardor of Anacreon, while the prophets kept the morals of Israel toned up by threats that a lapse from virtue would prove disastrous to the vineyards. St. Paul advised bishops and old women to take but little wine. He also suggested to the first that they should not fly into a passion, and to the latter that spreading false reports about their neighbors was not considered good form. The Prohibs, as a last resort, insist that the wine of Biblical days was very different from our own—a kind of circus lemonade; but it seems to have gotten in its graft on old Noah in most elegant shape. If the wine of Biblical times was so harmless why did the sacred writers consider it necessary to caution people against drunkenness, bid them be temperate in all things—while avoiding teetotalism? The only beverage I can find mentioned in the Bible that affected a man like a Prohibition drink, was that given Col. Lot in the cave by his two daughters. It accomplished what medical men assure me was a miracle—and the Prohibs run largely to the miraculous.
* * * OLD GLORY.
(Address at San Antonio, July 4, 1893.)
FELLOW CITIZENS—I have done pretty much everything that a man may do and dodge the penitentiary, except run for office and make Fourth of July speeches. Eulogizing the Goddess of Liberty were much like adding splendor to the sunrise or fragrance to the breath of morn. She needs no encomiast, star-crowned she stands, the glory of America, the admiration of the world.
I shall make a bid for your gratitude by being brief. In July weather the song of an electric fan and the small voice of the soda fount were more grateful to the soul than the grandest eloquence that ever burned on a Grady's lips of gold. It is customary, I believe on July 4th, to "make the eagle scream,"—to fight o'er again all the gory battles of the Republic, from Lexington's defeat to the glorious victory of the last election; but I am no Gov. Waite, and blood to horses' bridles delights me not. I would rather at any time talk of love's encounters than of war's alarums —rather bask in the smiles of beauty than mount barbed steeds to fright the souls of fearful adversaries. I have ever had a sneaking respect for Grover Cleveland for sending a substitute to remonstrate with the Southern Confederacy while he played progressive euchre with the pretty girls. His patriotism may not have soared above par, but there were no picnic ants on his judgment. Much as I love my country, I would rather be a living president than a dead hero.
I address you as "fellow Americans," for in this land no man of Celtic or of Saxon blood can be an alien. Whether he was born on the banks of the blue Danube or by Killarney's lovely lakes, 'mid Scotia's rugged hills or on the sunny vales of France, he is bound to us with ties of blood; he hath a claim upon our country, countersigned by those brave souls who, in the western wilds, gave to Liberty a habitation and a name—who declared that Columbia should ever be the refuge of the world's oppressed,—that all men, in whatever country born, should be equal before the law wherever falls the shadow of our flag. There has of late arisen a strange new doctrine that we should close our ports against the peoples of other lands, however worthy they may be; but I say unto you that such a policy were to betray a sacred trust confided to us by our fathers,—that every honest man beneath high heaven, every worshipper at Liberty's dear shrine hath an inheritance here, and when, with uplifted hand he pledges his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to the defense of freedom's flag he becomes as much an American as though to the manner born.
On occasions such as this we of America are apt to glorify ourselves too much,—to overlook the origin of those elements that made us great. When exulting over our victories in war and our still more glorious triumphs in peace, our progress and our prosperity, we should not forget that had there been no Europe there would be no great American nation; that all the courage that beats in the blood of Columbia's imperial sons, and all the wondrous beauty with which her daughters are dowered; that all the tireless energy of which she proudly boasts, and all the genius that gilds her name with glory were nurtured for a thousand years at white bosoms beyond the ocean's brine.
The American nation is the fair flower of European civilization, the petted child of the world's old age. Princes may be jealous of her progress and tyrants read in her rise their own downfall; but the great heart of the people of every land and clime is hers; to her they turn their faces as the helianthus to the rising sun,—she is their beacon light, their star of hope, guiding them to the glories of a grander day.
It is natural, it is right that on the nation's natal day we should felicitate ourselves on the sacred privileges we enjoy—should pay the tribute of our respect to those whose courage crowned us with sovereignty and made us masters of our fate; but we should not, as too often happens, make it the occasion for senseless bravado and foolish bluster. We should rather employ it to promote good will among the nations of the earth, to link together in a kindlier brotherhood the various families of the great Caucasian race, to beat the barbarous sword into peaceful plowshares and forever banish strife.
I sometimes dream that God has, in his mercy, raised this nation up unto the world's salvation,—the immediate instrument of His grace to usher in that age of gold,
"When the war-drum throbs no longer and the battle-flags are furled, In the parliament of man, the federation of the world."
I delight to trace in the rise and fall of nations the finger of God, and strive to read the Almighty's plan in the historic page. In the farthest east appeared the first faint light of civilization's dawn, and westward ever since the star of empire hath ta'en its way, while each succeeding nation that rose in its luminous paths like flowers in the footsteps of our dear Lord, has reached a higher plane and wrought out a grander destiny. The cycle is complete— the star now blazes in the world's extreme west and by the law of progress which has preserved for forty centuries, here if anywhere, must we look for that millennial dawn of which poets have fondly dreamed and for which philanthropists have prayed.
The awful responsibility of leadership rests upon us. We have shattered the scepter of the tyrant and broken the shackles of the slave; we have torn the diadem from the prince's brow and placed the fasces of authority in the hands of the people; we have undertaken to lead the human race from the Slough of Despond to the Delectable Mountains, where Justice reigns supreme and every son of Adam may find life worth living. Can we make good our glorious promises? Are we equal to the task to which we have given our hand? Ten thousand times the world has asked this question, but there is neither Dodona Oak nor Delphic Oracle to make reply—the future alone can answer. All eyes are upon us, in hope or fear, in prayer or protest. The fierce light that beats upon a throne were as the firefly's dull flame to the lightning's flash compared with that which illumes the every act of this champion of human progress, this knight par excellence, this Moses of the nations.
It is an important role which God hath assigned to us in the great drama of life, yet into a part so pregnant with fate we too often inject the levity of the farce. While preaching equal rights to all and special privileges to none, we pass laws that divide the people of this land into princes and paupers, into masters and slaves. On July 4th we shout for the old flag, and all the rest of the year we clamor for an appropriation. While boasting that we are sovereigns by right divine and equal unto kings, we hasten to lay our hair beneath the feet of every scorbutic dude who hither drifts,
"Stuck o'er with titles and hung around with strings."
The soldier who serves the state demands a pension, and every burning patriot wants an office. We boast that the people rule, and office-holders are but public servants; yet more than a moiety of us would hang our crowns on a hickory limb and swim a river to break into official bondage. Here in Texas seven distinguished citizens are already chasing the governorship like a pack of hungry wolves after a wounded fawn, while the woods are full of brunette equines who have taken for their motto,
"They also serve who only stand and wait."
Yes, our office-holders are indeed our public servants— and my experience with servants has been that they usually run the whole shebang.
Theoretically we have the best government on the globe, but it is so brutally mismanaged by our blessed public servants that it produces the same evil conditions that have damned the worst. Even Americans whose forefathers dined on faith at Valley Forge, or fought at Lundy's Lane, have become so discouraged by political bossism, so heartsick with hope deferred that they quote approvingly those lines of Pope,
"For forms government let fools contest, Whate'er is best administered is best."
While boasting of popular government, we suffer ourselves to be led about by self-seeking politicians like a blind man by a scurvy poodle; we made partisanship paramount to patriotism—have reserved the poet's line, and now
"All are for a party and none are for the state."
It were well for us to make July 4th less an occasion for self-glorification than for prayerful consideration of the dangers upon which we are drifting in these piping times of peace—dangers that arise, not in foreign courts and camps, but are conceived in sin by the American plutocracy and brought forth in iniquity by our own political bosses. We have no longer aught to fear from the outside world. Uncle Sam can, if need be, marshal forth to battle eight million as intrepid sons as those who crowned old Bunker Hill with flame or bathed the crests of Gettysburg with blood. Upon such a wall of oak and iron the powers of the majestic world would beat in vain. Our altars and our fanes are far beyond the reach of a foreign foe; but the rock that recks not the thunderbolt nor bows to the fierce simoon, is swept from its base by the unconsidered brook.
No man can be a patriot on an empty stomach; no country can be secure, I care not if Moses makes its constitution and Solon frame its laws, when half its people are homeless and brawny giants must beg their bread. As far back as history's dawn the rise of the plutocracy and the impoverishment of the common people have heralded the downfall of the state. Thus fell imperial Rome, that once did rule the world, and Need and Greed are the ballistae and battering-rams that are pounding to-day with tremendous power upon every throne of Europe and rocking the very civilization of the world from turret to foundation stone.
We have achieved liberty, but have yet to learn in this strange new land the true significance of life. We have made the dollar the god of our idolatry, the Alpha and Omega of our existence, and bow the knee to it with a servility as abject as that of courtiers kissing the hand of Kings. As the old pagans sometimes incorporated their lesser in their greater deities that they might worship all at once, so have we put the Goddess of Liberty and Saving Grace on the silver dollar that we may not forget them.
But before God, I do believe that this selfish, this Mammon-serving and unpatriotic age will pass, as passed the age of brutish ignorance, as passed the age of tyranny. I believe the day will come—oh blessed dawn!—when we'll no longer place the badge of party servitude above the crown of American sovereignty, the ridiculous oriflamme of foolish division above Old Glory's star-gemmed promise of everlasting unity; when Americans will be in spirit and in truth a band of brothers, the wrongs of one the concern of all; when brains and patriotism will take precedence of boodle and partisanship in our national politics; when labor will no longer fear the cormorant nor capital the commune; when every worthy and industrious citizen may spend his declining days, not in some charity ward, but in the grateful shadow of his own vine and fig-tree, the loving lord of a little world hemmed in by the sacred circle of a home. There was a time, we're told, when to be a Roman was greater than to be a King; yet there came a time when to be a Roman was to be the vassal of a slave. Change is the order of the universe and nothing stands. We must go forward or we must go backward—we must press on to grander heights, to greater glories, or see the laurels already won turn to ashes on our brow. We may sometimes slip; shadows may obscure our path; the boulders may bruise our feet; there may be months of mourning and days of agony; but however dark the night, Hope, a poising eagle, will ever burn above the unrisen morrow. Trials we may have and tribulations sore; but I say unto you, oh brothers mine, that while God reigns and the human race endures, this nation, born of our father's blood and sanctified by our mother's tears, shall never pass away.
* * * THE LONE STAR.
These balmy days, I often recall my ideas of Texas before I had the pleasure of mingling with its people,—of becoming myself a Texan. I regret to say that I had accepted Phil Sheridan's estimate of the State—an opinion that still prevails in too many portions of our common country. After living in Texas for ten years I paid a visit to my people beyond the beautiful Ohio. The old gentlemen sized me up critically, evidently expecting to see me wearing war-paint and a brace of bowie-knives.
"So, young man, you're living in Texas?"
"Fell kinder t'hum 'mong them centerpedes, cowboys 'n other varments, I s'pose?"
"Well, Billy, you allers was a mighty bad boy. I kinder cackalated as how you'd go t'hell some day; but, praise God, I never thought y' was bound fer Texas!"
I assured him that were I certain hell were half as good as Texas, I wouldn't worry so much about my friends who were in politics for their health.
Texas could well afford to spend a million dollars a year for a decade to disabuse the minds of the Northern people—to work it through their hair that the southwest produces something besides hades and hoodlums, jack- rabbits and jays. Were it generally known exactly what Texas is,—what her people, climate and resources—there are not railroads enough running into the state to handle the men and money that would seek homes and investments here. The year 1900 would see ten million prosperous people between the Sabine and Rio Grande; and it would be a people to be proud of,—the young blood of America, the cream of Christendom, the brain and brawn of the Western World.
The light of the Lone Star cannot be much longer hidden; it is breaking even now upon the earth. True knowledge of Texas is spreading,—spreading over the icy North, spreading over the barren East, spreading over crowded Europe—and knowledge of Texas is power unto her salvation.
I was north last summer, and talked Texas, of course. One day a long, lank, lingering eternity of a gawk sidled up to me, as though he feared I was loaded, and said:
"Great state, that Texas, I 'spose?"
"Purty big, I heer'n tell?"
"Look at the map."
"Gewhillikins, Maria! 'Tis purty dogon gosh-all-fired big, haint she?"
" 'Spose you're a gineral, or a corporal, or suthin nuther when you're t'hum?"
"N-no? Jedge, p'haps?"
"No, sir; I am simply a plain, every-day citizen of Texas,—not even a member of the legislature or candidate for congress."
"Hump! Say, Maria, I kinder thought as how that slab-sided galoot was a lyin' when he said he was frum Texas."
He could not conceive of a Texan without a title. But Texas will come out all right. I have faith in her future, for many reasons; but chiefly because she has unbounded confidence in herself—because nowhere will you find such local patriotism, such state pride, such love of home as beneath the Lone Star. There are rivalries, but they are not born of bitterness. A Texas is all for Texas.
Within the memory of living men, Oppression's fangs wounded Freedom's snowy breast, and from the ruddy drops Almighty God did make a star, the brightest that ever blessed the world; but ever have the clouds of calumny and the mists of malice obscured its matchless beauty. Slowly but surely the rank vapors are rolling by, and brighter and ever brighter blazes our astral emblem —born in the field of battle, its lullaby the cannon's thunder, its cradle the hearts of the brave, its nurse necessity, its baptismal rite a rain of blood and tears. May it forever be another beacon of Bethlehem to guide us on to a grander future—a harbinger of hope and happiness, an emblem of love and liberty, and in its deathless splendor go ever shining on.
* * * SLAVE OR SOVEREIGN.
STATUS OF THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
[Synopsis of an address delivered by Mr. Brann, August 10, 1895.]
FELLOW CITIZENS: If I had a million o' money—carefully protected from the income tax by a plutocratic supreme court—I would probably not be here to inquire whether you are Slaves or Sovereigns. And if you could draw your check for seven figures—with any probability of getting it cashed—you would not be here to answer. You'd do just as Dives did: lean back in your luxurious chair and absorb your sangaree, while Lazarus scratched his Populist fleas on your front steps and exploited your garbage barrels for bones. You'd turn up your patrician nose at the lowly proletaire, and if he did but hint that, having created this world's wealth, he was entitled to something better than hand-outs, you'd have an anti-communistic cat-fit and denounce him as an insolent hoodlum who should be comfortably hanged. That's human nature to a hair, and you are all human,—I suppose—even if the politicians do buy you with gas and sell you for gold.
I tell you frankly that I'm complaining, not because of the other fellow's colossal fortune, but because I can't strike the plutocratic combination. I'm dreadfully anxious to accumulate a modest fortune—of about fifty millions— that I may build a comfortable orphan asylum for that vast contingent of Democratic politicians whom the next election will deprive of their "pap."
I'm no philanthropist who's trying to reform the world for the fun of the thing—who's willing to starve to death for the sake of an attractive tombstone. I want to so amend industrial conditions that I won't have to hustle so hard—and so long—between meals; and when they are bettered for me they will be bettered for you, and for every man who—with pick or pen, brain or brawn— honestly earns his daily bread.
I want more holidays; more time to sit down and reflect that it is good to be alive; more time to go fishing—not fishing for men, but for sure—enough suckers. Here in America if the average mortal aspires to fill a long-felt want with first-class fodder, he's got to chase the almighty dollar on week-days like a hungry coyote camping on the trail of a corpulent jack-rabbit, and spend Sunday figuring how to circumvent his fellow-citizen. Life with the American people is one continental hurry, and rush from the cradle to the grave. We're born in a hurry, live by electricity and die with scientific expedition. Half of us don't take time to become acquainted with our own families. We've even got to courting by telephone, and I expect to see some enterprising firm put up lover's kisses in tablet form, so that they can be carried in the vest pocket and absorbed while we figure cent per cent. or make out a mortgage.
. . .
For a score of years I had been listening to the boast of the American people that they were Sovereigns by right divine, and at last it occurred to me to swear out a search warrant for my crown and go on a still-hunt for my scepter; but soon found that the jewels of my throne-room, the rod of my authority and my purple robe of office were conspicuous by their absence and I wasn't married at the time either. The American citizen is a sovereign, not to the extent of his voice and vote, but to the exact amount of Uncle Sam's illuminated mental anguish plasters at his command. Money is lord paramount, Mammon our prophet, our god the golden calf.
The dollar is indeed "almighty." It's the Archimedean lever that lifts the ill-bred boor into select society and places the ignorant sap-head in the United State Senate. It makes presidents of "stuffed prophets," governors of intellectual geese, philosophers of fools and gilds infamy itself with supernal glory. It wrecks the altars of innocence and pollutes the fanes of the people, breaks the sword of Justice and binds the Goddess of Liberty with chains of gold. It is lord of the land, the uncrowned king of the commonwealth, and its whole religious creed is comprised in the one verse, "To him that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance, while from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath."
"We, the people, rule"—in the conventions; but our delegated lawmakers have a different lord. In 1892 we demanded "tariff reform" with a whoop that shook the imperial rafters of heaven, and declared for the minting of gold and silver without discrimination against either metal. But our so-called "public servants," instead of hastening to obey our behests, spent months manufacturing excuses for disregarding their duty. Placed between the devil of the money power and the deep sea of public opinion, they wobbled in and they wobbled out like a drunken boa-constrictor taking its jag to a gold cure joint. They were like the little boy who put his trousers on t'other side to—we couldn't tell whether they were going to school or coming home. But our doubts were all dispelled last November. They are the fellows who were going to school—to that school of experience where fools are educated.
. . .
Slave or Sovereign? The last is an individual entity, a controlling power, his will is law. The first goes and comes, fetches and carries at the command of a master; creating wealth he may not possess, bound by laws he does not approve, dependent upon the pleasure of others for the privilege of breaking bread. Is not the latter condition that of a majority of the American people to-day? Are they not at the subsequent end of a financial hole, the sides soaped and never a ladder in sight?
In a country so favored—a veritable garden of the gods, where every prospect pleases and not even the politician is wholly vile—the lowliest laborer should be a lord, and each and all find life well worth the living. But it is not so. People starve while sunny savannas, bursting with fatness, yield no food; they wander houseless through summer's heat and winter's cold, while great mountains of granite comb the fleecy clouds and the forest monarch measures strength with the thunderstorm; they flee naked and ashamed from the face of their fellow-men while fabrics molder in the market-place and the song of the spindle is silent: they freeze while beneath their feet are countless tons of coal—incarnate kisses of the sun-god's fiery youth; they have never a spot of earth on which to plant a vine and watch their children play—where they may rear with loving hands lowly roof and rule, lords of a little world hemmed in by the sacred circle of a home; yet the common heritage in the human race lies fair before them and there is room enough.