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Title: Looking Further Forward - An Answer to Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
Author: Michaelis, Richard
Language: English
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LOOKING FURTHER FORWARD



Contents

                   PAGE
    PREFACE.        iii
    CHAPTER I.        9
    CHAPTER II.      16
    CHAPTER III.     28
    CHAPTER IV.      44
    CHAPTER V.       64
    CHAPTER VI.      81
    CHAPTER VII.     95
    CHAPTER VIII.   115



LOOKING FURTHER FORWARD

    BY
    RICHARD MICHAELIS,
    _Editor Chicago “Freie Presse.”_

    AN ANSWER TO
    LOOKING BACKWARD

    BY
    EDWARD BELLAMY.

    CHICAGO AND NEW YORK:
    RAND, MCNALLY & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS.
    1890.



    COPYRIGHT, 1890, BY RICHARD MICHAELIS.



PREFACE.


Every seeker after truth and reform is entitled to recognition, even
if his ways and methods are not ours. Mr. Edward Bellamy’s book:
“Looking Backward”, is an effort to improve the lot of mankind and
therefore commendable, but his reform proposition, stripped of its
fine coloring, is nothing but communism, a state of society, which has
proved a failure whenever established without a religious basis and
which without such basis is en vogue today only among some barbarous
and cannibal tribes.

Chicago has for the last fourteen years been the centre of the
communistic and anarchistic agitation in the United States, and in
defending the fundamental principles of American institutions against
these theories, that were imported from the overcrowded industrial
centres of Europe, I became quite familiar with them as well as
with the notions and peculiarities of social reformers, who imagine
themselves in possession of an infallible receipt to perfect not only
all human institutions but also human nature.

Of course Mr. Bellamy holds more moderate views than those Spies and
Parsons proclaimed, but he has this much in common with the Anarchists
and Communists of Chicago: he has become incapable of passing a fair
judgement upon our present institutions, conditions and men; he
overlooks all difficulties in the introduction of his proposed changes,
he really believes his socialistic air-castles must spring into
existence very soon and without obstruction, and he populates his fairy
palaces with angelic human beings, who would never by any possibility
do anything wrong. The surmise, that men and women in a communistic
state, would put off all selfishness, envy, hate, jealousy, wrangling
and desire to rule is just as reasonable as the supposition, that a man
can sleep one hundred and thirteen years and rise thereafter as young
and fresh as he went to bed.

What queer methods reformers sometimes advocate! John Most would in the
name of equal rights to all, first kill all men who are not in absolute
sympathy with his opinions, then abolish all laws and all officers,
and then let nature take its course.--Mr. Bellamy on the other hand
would, also in the name of equal rights, deprive all the clever and
industrious workers of a large or the largest part of the products of
their labor for the benefit of their awkward, stupid or lazy comrades!
And this would be what Mr. Bellamy is pleased to style justice and
equality!

And for the purpose of reaching this state of mock-equality, Mr.
Bellamy would as a matter of course have to _sacrifice competition_,
the gigantic power that elevated us all and Mr. Bellamy with us to the
present state of evolution! It is true that competition has been and is
now abused, but every institution is subject to abuse and the misuse
of a thing does not demonstrate that the thing in itself is wrong.
Nobody can deny that competition during the centuries of Christian
civilization has developed the brains and muscles of the human race and
that the continuous best efforts of humanity, stimulated by competition
during these many centuries, have lifted our race to a standard where
the mode of living of common laborers is more comfortable and desirable
than the everyday existence of the Kings of which Homer sings.

Every generation has to battle with certain problems, and it is the lot
of ours to overcome the difficulties between capital and labor, that
have been increased by the change in the methods of production since
the discovery of steam power.

We have to find ways and means not to avoid productive _work_ (--spoken
of by Mr. Bellamy as an _evil_--), but to cure the brain cancer of
our days: the permanent uncertainty of subsistence and the fear of
poverty. And we accomplish this by co-operation and by mutual insurance
companies, without retrograding to communism, that most barbarous state
of society.

The imperfect nature of man characterizes, as a matter of course,
all human institutions and it is the easiest thing in the world, by
“_looking backward_”, to find fault with living men as well as with the
present state of affairs and to build air castles inhabited by angels
only.

I will now _look forward_! By demonstrating what would be the logical
conclusion of Mr. Bellamy’s story, if fairly continued, I purpose to
show that he first tries to establish absolute equality and then,
despairing of success, advocates an inequality in many respects more
oppressive than the present state of things. I intend to demonstrate,
that under the regime, proposed by Mr. Bellamy, favoritism and
corruption would be very potent factors in public life. I expect to set
forth that personal liberty would fare so badly in Mr. Bellamy’s United
States, that the proud and independent American people would never
tolerate such a system, and to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that
the people would be much poorer in Mr. Bellamy’s condition of affairs,
than at the present time.

I do not deny that our society stands in need of many desirable
reforms; but I am not prepared to follow blindly Mr. Bellamy, John
Most, or anybody else, who pretends that he is ready to deliver
humanity from all evils on short notice, and I do not intend to jump
head over heels into the dark.

If Mr. Bellamy and his followers are quite sure that they can establish
the millennium, _let them try it_, like the communists of the Amana
Society who have started a community in the state of Iowa on a
religious basis. There are many thousands of acres of good government
lands left, where Mr. Bellamy and his friends may settle and show the
world what they can do! But they should not ask the people of the
United States to break up their present form of government and state of
society, before they have given their theories a trial and proved that
their calculations are correct.

                                   RICHARD MICHAELIS.
  CHICAGO, April 1890.



LOOKING FORWARD.

CHAPTER I.


For the purpose of introducing myself to those readers of this book,
who are not familiar with the contents of “Looking Backward”, edited
by Mr. Edward Bellamy, I will recapitulate the remarkable events of my
life up to the end of that extraordinary narrative.

Born in Boston on the 26th day of December 1857, I was baptized Julian
West, was educated in the schools and colleges of my city, but,
being in possession of a handsome fortune, did not devote myself to
any particular profession or trade. I became engaged to Miss Edith
Bartlett, a young lady of great beauty, and it was our intention to
marry as soon as my new house should be ready for occupation. The
completion of the building was frequently delayed by strikes of masons
and carpenters, and I occupied still the old fashioned house, where my
family had lived for three generations.

Suffering from insomnia, I had prepared in the basement and under the
foundations of the old building, a large vault, where the noises of a
great city would not disturb me. This vault was absolutely fire-proof,
and fresh air was assured by means of a small pipe running up to the
roof of the house.

To obtain sleep I was frequently forced to avail myself of the services
of a mesmerist, and it happened that on the 30th day of May 1887,
after two sleepless nights, I sent my colored servant Sawyer to a Dr.
Pillsbury, whom I was in the habit of employing. The doctor was about
to leave the city to establish himself in New Orleans, and this was
therefore the last time he would be able to treat me. I instructed
Sawyer to rouse me at nine o’clock the next morning, and under the
manipulations of the mesmerist I soon fell into a deep slumber.

When I opened my eyes again I found that I had slept 113 years, 3
months, and 11 days.

I discovered that the old house had been destroyed by fire and that
Sawyer had perished in the flames. Dr. Pillsbury had left Boston, the
existence of the vault where I slept was unknown to my friends, the
house had not been rebuilt and so I remained in a mesmerized condition
for over a hundred years, until a Dr. Leete, the occupant of a house
which was being erected on a part of the old lot, commenced to build a
laboratory and unearthed my vault in the year 2000.

I learned that Edith Bartlett, after mourning my loss fourteen years,
had married, that Dr. Leete’s wife was Edith Bartlett’s granddaughter,
and that his daughter Edith was therefore the great-granddaughter of
the young lady who had been my promised bride 113 years before.

The vigor of my manhood of thirty years overcame the shock of these
discoveries. I soon felt myself at home in Dr. Leete’s house, the more
so, because young Edith soon occupied the place in my heart once filled
by Edith Bartlett, and it was not long before Edith Leete, a somewhat
romantic, compassionate girl, consented with grace to become the
successor of her great-grandmother; to be my bride.

But the turn of my own fate is even less remarkable, than the change
that has taken place in the social order of things. Dr. Leete explained
to me the new organization of society.

Individual enterprises have ended. The nation creates everything
that individuals and corporations were producing at the end of the
nineteenth century. Every able bodied man, every healthy woman belongs
to the “industrial army”. They enter the force at the age of 21 and are
released at 45. Only in rare cases of necessity are men over 45 years
of age summoned to work.

Money is abolished, but all inhabitants of the United States receive
an equal share of the results of the work of the industrial army in
the form of a credit card, a piece of paste board on which dollars
and cents are marked. There is one store in each ward where people
can select such goods as they may desire. The value of the goods,
one purchases, is pricked out of his credit card and his account is
charged in the Government books with the amount of goods so purchased.

The meals are furnished by large cooking houses. Washing and repairing
are done in large laundries. One may take his meals home or eat them at
the cooking house. The bill of fare is very elaborate and one may have
even a special dining room. The amount to be paid for the meals differs
of course according to the bill of fare ordered and to the place where
the meal is taken.

Each family occupies a separate house; the furniture being the property
of the tenant. The rent, which depends on the size of the house, is
also pricked out of the credit card.

All inhabitants of the United States are obliged to attend school
until they have reached the age of 21. Then they become members of the
industrial army. During the first three years of their services they
are called recruits or apprentices and have to do the common labor
under the absolute command of the officers or overseers. A _record_ is
kept, in which are entered the ability and behavior of each recruit.

After the first three years of service, each recruit may select a
profession or a trade. As far as possible the volunteers are placed
in the trades they prefer. Recruits with the best records are given
the first choice. Some of them have to take a second or third choice,
and some are obliged to accept positions assigned to them by their
superiors.

All members of the army are, according to their ability and behavior,
divided into three grades, and apprentices with a first-class record
may, after their three years service, enter at once the first grades of
the different trades selected by them.

The general of the guild appoints all the officers of his trade. The
lieutenants must be taken from the members of the first grades. The
captains are chosen by the general from the lieutenants, the colonels
from the captains. The general of the guild himself is elected by
the former members of the trade, that is, those who have passed the
age of forty-five. The ex-members of all the guilds also elect the
chiefs of the ten great departments or groups of allied trades. The
chiefs are taken from the generals of the guilds. And the former guild
members also elect the President of the United States, who is taken
from the ranks of the retired chiefs of the ten great departments. The
President, the ten chiefs of the great departments and the generals of
all the guilds live in Washington.

The members of the industrial army have not the right to vote for any
of the officers by whom they are governed. They have no representation
during their 24 years of service; but if they have a complaint against
one of their superiors, they may bring their case before a judge whose
decision is final.

The judges are appointed by the President from the ranks of the retired
members of the guild for the term of five years.

Courts, lawyers, jails, sheriffs, tax-assessors, collectors and many
other officers have been abolished. Criminals are treated in hospitals
as persons mentally ill.

The National Government regulates the production. When it sees that
certain trades attract a very large number of volunteers, while other
trades fall short, the administration increases the working time of the
preferred trades and shortens the working hours of those needing more
volunteers.

The women have their own officers, generals, judges, and form an
auxiliary army of industry. They receive the same credit cards as the
men. Since the cooking and washing and repairing of household goods are
done outside, the women of the twentieth century have more time for
productive labor than had the women of a hundred years ago.

Recruits who have passed three years service, during which they are
assignable to any work at the discretion of their superiors, may enter
schools of technology, medicine, art, etc.; but if they cannot keep
pace with the classes, they must withdraw. Physicians, who do not find
sufficient employment, are assigned to work of another character.

If people desire the publication of a newspaper, they must club
together and give up enough of their credit cards to compensate the
nation for the loss of the work of the persons editing and printing the
paper.

If one desires to publish a book, he can write it in his hours of
leisure and can have it printed by giving up a part of his credit
card. For the copies sold he receives again a new credit.

Preachers are in a similar way employed by persons who desire to hear
their sermons.

Cripples or other people unable to do full work or any work at all,
receive their full credit cards, because the fact, that they are human
beings, entitles them to their full share of all good things produced
on earth.

The state governments within the United States have been abolished as
useless.

All other civilized nations have organized themselves on a similar
basis and are exchanging goods with each other. The yearly balances are
settled with national staple articles.

The new order of things enables people to live without cares, and one
of the consequences is the fact, that most of the men and women of an
average constitution live from eighty-five to ninety years.--

Such was the description of the new order of things given me by Dr.
Leete in a number of conversations. The doctor is very enthusiastic
over the organization of society of the twentieth century and does not
hesitate to call it the millennium.

The fear and uncertainty which I entertained in regard to my employment
were set at rest by Dr. Leete, who said, that I could, if I wished,
have the position of professor of the history of the nineteenth century
in the Shawmut College of Boston. I have accepted the offer and shall
enter upon my duties next Monday.



CHAPTER II.


When I first entered the large hall of Shawmut College, where I was to
deliver my lectures, I noticed near the door of the room a gentleman of
about forty years of age. He was too old to be one of the students and
as I had not seen him when Dr. Leete introduced me to the professors
of the institution, I was somewhat curious to know in what capacity he
honored my debut.

The cordial reception I had met at the hands of the professors, the
fact that every seat of the large hall was occupied, acted as a
stimulus and when Dr. White, the president of Shawmut College had
introduced me with a few complimentary remarks as a living witness of
the nineteenth century, I began my first lecture in the best of spirits.

My speech contained naturally many of the points that Dr. Leete had
most dwelt upon, when, in his conversations with me, he had compared
the organization of society of the nineteenth and that of the twentieth
centuries.

I said in substance, that my hearers must not expect a synopsis of the
civilization of the two centuries or a panegyric of the present state
of affairs. I would point out but a few conditions, regulations and
institutions that could serve as criterion of the spirit of their times.

As characteristic of the spirit of the civilization of the nineteenth
century, I described the insane competition, where a man in a foul
fight must “cheat, overreach, supplant, defraud, buy below worth and
sell above, break down the business by which his neighbor fed his
young ones, tempt men to buy what they ought not and to sell what
they should not, grind their laborers, sweat their debtors, cozen
their creditors,”[1] in order to be able to support those dependent
on him. I showed “that there had been many a man among the people of
the nineteenth century who, if it had been merely a question of his
own life would sooner have given it up than nourished it by bread
snatched from others.”[2] I pictured the consequences of this insane
and annihilating competition as a constant wear on the brains and
bodies of the past generation, intensified by the permanent fear of
poverty. The spectre of uncertainty walked constantly beside the man
of the nineteenth century, sat at his table and went to bed with him,
even whispering in his ears: “Do your work ever so well, rise early and
toil till late, rob cunningly or serve faithfully, you shall never know
security. Rich you may be now and still come to poverty at last. Leave
ever so much wealth to your children, you can not buy the assurance,
that your son may not be the servant of your servant or that your
daughter will not sell herself for bread.”[3]

    [1] Such parts of Mr. Bellamy’s book as are characteristic of
        his manner of dealing with the present and with the future,
        I give with marks of quotation, adding in a foot note the
        page of “Looking Backward,” where the sentence may be found.
        The above remarks are taken from page 277.

    [2] Page 277.

    [3] Page 321.

And while one hundred and thirteen years ago all men worked like
slaves, until completely exhausted, without having even a guaranty
that they would not die in poverty or from hunger, the men of the
twentieth century were walking in the sunlight of freedom, security,
happiness and equality. After receiving an excellent education in
standard schools and then passing through an apprenticeship of three
years, the young people of the twentieth century select their vocation.
Short hours of work permit them, even during the years of service in
the industrial army, to spend more time for the continuation of their
studies and for recreation than the people who lived a hundred years
ago had ever believed to be consistent with a successful management of
industries, farming or public affairs.

Free from all cares, in perfect harmony with each other, without
the disturbing influence of political parties, enjoying a wealth
unprecedented in the history of nations, we might verily say: “The long
and weary winter of our race is ended. Its summer has begun. Humanity
has burst the chrysalis. The heavens are before it!”[4]

    [4] Page 292.

I had spoken with enthusiasm, yes, even with deep emotion and I
expected, if not a warm, at least a sympathetic reception of my
address. But only a faint and very cold applause followed my remarks.
I had the impression that not one fourth of the young men present had
found it worth their while to show their approval of my lecture, and
that the applause of even these few had been an act of courtesy rather
than a spontaneous outburst of feeling. The chilly reception was such
a great disappointment to me that I could not rally courage enough to
leave my chair and pass through the students as they were leaving the
hall.

I busied myself at the little desk before me until everybody had gone
with the exception of the gentleman who had arrested my attention when
I entered the room. He remained at the door evidently waiting for me.

“You belong to the college?” I asked, to hide my embarrassment.

“Indeed I do”, he answered with a light smile, that challenged another
question.

“I suppose I have the pleasure of meeting one of my colleagues”, I
continued. “My name is West”.

“Until about a month ago I was Professor Forest, your predecessor in
teaching the history of the nineteenth century; to-day I am one of the
janitors and my chief has been good enough to recommend this room to my
care.”

I had during the last few days seen and heard so many new and strange
things, that I was prepared to be surprised at nothing, however
astounding.

But the information, that to a professor of history was assigned the
duty of cleaning the rooms, where he had once lectured, sounded so
incredible and opened such an unpleasing prospect for my own career,
that I could not conceal my amazement.

“And what has caused this singular change of position”, I inquired.

“In comparing the lot of humanity in 1900 and 2000 I came to
conclusions very different from yours”, responded Mr. Forest.

“You do not mean to say, that the condition of the people of the
nineteenth century was better than that of the present generation?” I
asked with some curiosity.

“That is my opinion”, said Mr. Forest.

“The only way I can understand you holding such extraordinary views,
is that you are personally quite unacquainted with the civilization of
which you speak so highly,” I declared.

“I have as a matter of course, drawn my information from our libraries,
and I am forced to admit that you can support your argument in regard
to the civilization of the last century by pointing to your personal
knowledge. But I am afraid that you are not so familiar with the
present state of affairs, at the fountain of your information in regard
to the twentieth century is only one man, Dr. Leete. I may therefore
claim that my information of the civilization of your days is better
than yours of our institutions, because mine is based on the testimony
of more witnesses than one.”

“Then you must of course disapprove the views developed in my lecture?”

“Your address will undoubtedly be published in extenso in all the
administration organs, that is, in nearly every newspaper in the land”,
said Mr. Forest, evading a direct answer to my question.

“Administration organs you say”, I asked with surprise: “Has the
administration organs, and why does it need them?”

“Of course the administration has organs”, answered Forest. “And it is
both difficult and unpleasant to edit an opposition paper. Therefore we
have only a few of them.”

“But Dr. Leete said: “We have no parties or politicians and as for
demagoguery and corruption, they are words having only a historical
significance.”[5] And yet you speak of opposition and of administration
papers?” I said this very likely with an expression of some doubt in my
eyes.

    [5] Page 60.

My companion broke into a loud laugh, after which he asked: “Excuse,
please, my merriment, but Dr. Leete is a great joker, who never fails
to “bring down the house.” Well! Well! That is too good. I wish I could
have seen his face when he gave you that information.”

And Mr. Forest laughed again.

“I beg your pardon, Mr. West”, he continued, when I met his merriment
with silence; “but you would not only excuse but share my laughter, if
you were familiar with our public life, if you knew Dr. Leete as well
as I do and then learned that he had claimed, we were suffering from a
want of politicians. But I wish to say right here”, added Mr. Forest in
a more composed tone, “that I have not a poor opinion of Dr. Leete. He
is a practical joker, a shrewd politician, but otherwise as good a man
as our time can produce.”

“Dr. Leete is a politician?” I asked in the utmost astonishment.

“Yes. Dr. Leete is the most influential leader of the administration
party in Boston. I owe it to his kind interference, that I am still
connected with the college.”

Noticing that I did not know how to construe this statement, Mr. Forest
added:

“When, in comparing the civilization of your days with ours, I came
to the conclusion, that communism had proved a failure, I was accused
of misleading and corrupting the students and the usual sentence in
such cases: “confinement in an insane asylum”, was passed. Because,
it is claimed, that only a madman could find fault with the best
organization of society ever introduced. Dr. Leete, however, declared,
that my insanity was so harmless, that confinement in an asylum seemed
unnecessary, besides being too expensive. I could still earn my living
by doing light work about the college building; and my case would serve
as a warning to all the professors and students to be careful in
their expressions and teachings. So I retained the liberty in which we
glory and was spared doing street cleaning or some such work, which is
generally awarded to “kickers” against the administration.”

“The students seem to share your opinion, at least they received my
remarks very coldly,” I remarked, in order to avoid a discussion of the
qualities of my host.

Mr. Forest’s keen grey eyes rested for a moment upon my face, and then
he said in a friendly tone:

“I believe you were convinced of what you said, Mr. West; but did it
not occur to you, that you treated your time and your contemporaries
very severely? Did competition really demand, that one should defraud
his neighbor, grind his laborers, sweat his debtors and snatch the
bread from others? Were the majority of the men of your time swindlers
and Shylocks? Were the laborers all slaves, working each day until
completely exhausted? I remember distinctly, that the wage-workers of
your time struck frequently for eight hours, declining to work nine
or ten hours per diem for good pay. I think you had a strong, proud
and independent class of laborers, who could not fairly be regarded
as slaves. And as for the girls, I have seen the statements and
complaints, that help for housekeeping was very scarce in your days and
was paid from $2. to $5. per week, with board, so that there was no
excuse for any decent girl to sell herself for bread.--Of course your
state of civilization was very far from being faultless; in fact there
is no such thing as perfection in anything. But your description of the
civilization of the nineteenth century is painted in such dark colors,
that our students, who are somewhat familiar with the history of those
days, could not very well enthuse over your lecture; especially as many
of these young men do not regard our present institutions with such
complete admiration as you do. I speak frankly, Mr. West, and I hope
you will excuse my frankness, because of my desire to serve you in
describing men, things and institutions as I see them.”

The warm tone of his voice and the sympathetic expression of his eyes
caused me to shake hands with Forest, although everything he had
said went directly against my friends, my views, my feelings and my
interests. I left him in an uneasy mood and walked home revolving in my
mind his criticism of my lecture.

I met Dr. Leete and the ladies, and Edith inquired whether my debut as
professor had satisfied my expectations.

I have always tried to be frank and true: so I gave Dr. Leete and
his family a synopsis of my speech, mentioned the cool reception of
my address and my disappointment. I spoke of Mr. Forest’s criticism,
leaving out, of course, his observations relative to Dr. Leete, and
confessed that his censure was not wholly undeserved inasmuch as I had
gone too far in charging upon the whole people the bad qualities which
reckless competition had stamped on certain individuals.

Dr. Leete was evidently not altogether pleased with my remarks. After a
short pause he said: “I think the reckless competition of the last part
of the nineteenth century could not fail to demoralize more or less,
in most cases more, all the people, who were conducting a business or
who had to work for a living. I think furthermore that your lecture was
an excellent exposition of principles and that you have no reason to
yield an inch of your position. The cold reception you met with, ought
not to worry you. It is due to Forest, who has planted in the hearts of
our students his idiosyncrasy, his blind admiration of competition and
his aversion to our form of civilization. It is your task to enlighten
the young men in regard to the comparative merits of the two orders
of things.--Mr. Forest is placing a heavy tax on the patience of his
fellow citizens by his persistent efforts to mislead the students.--Did
he mention the fact that he was your predecessor?”

“He did, when I asked him if he were a member of the college staff of
teachers. He said that he was discharged for his heresy and that he
owed his comparatively lenient treatment to you.”

“It is not Forest’s habit to conceal his opinions and he may have given
you a nice idea of Dr. Leete”, my host said with a smile.

I thought best under the circumstances to repeat Forest’s remarks in
regard to Dr. Leete, which remarks were very good natured and rather
complimentary to my host. I may add that I desired very much to know
what Dr. Leete would say in answer to the charge of being a politician
and a leader of the administration party.

So I said: “Mr. Forest laughed heartily when I repeated your remarks
that you have no party nor politicians. He called you a great practical
joker, a shrewd politician, the leader of the administration party in
Boston and a good man.”

Dr. Leete smiled somewhat grimly as he replied: “That is a character I
ought to be grateful for, considering that it comes from a faultfinder
like Forest. Concerning his references to me as a politician I will
say that I never held an office, but that the administration has
occasionally consulted me and other citizens on important questions.
Political parties we have not. There are of course a few incurable
faultfinders like Mr. Forest and a few radical growlers, but we pay
but little attention to them so long as they do not disturb the public
peace. If they do, we send them to a hospital where they receive proper
treatment.”

Although these words were spoken in the tone of light conversation,
they impressed me deeply. “If they do, we send them to a hospital,
where they receive proper treatment.” Did not this confirm Forest’s
statement, that the usual sentence against the opponents of communism
was confinement in an insane asylum?

My unpleasant thoughts were interrupted by Edith’s sweet voice
remarking: “I think Mr. Forest is an honest well meaning gentleman and
he should be permitted to express his views, even if they are wrong
and queer. The students will certainly eventually be convinced that
our order of things is as good as it can be made, and besides it is so
entertaining to hear once in a while another opinion.”

With an expression of fatherly love, Dr. Leete placed his right hand
on Edith’s thick hair and said: “The ladies of the court of Louis XVI.
of France also considered very entertaining the ideas that caused the
revolution and cost many of the “entertained” ladies and gentlemen
their heads beneath the guillotine.--Ideas are little sparks. They may
easily cause a conflagration if not watched”.



CHAPTER III.


My studies had never been directed to questions of national economy.
I had never thought of comparing the merits of competition with those
of communism. When Dr. Leete had explained in his positive and still
fascinating manner the new order of things I had hardly noticed that it
was based on communistic principles. I thought humanity had reached at
last the millennium, and when Dr. Leete stated that his easy and even
luxurious way of living represented the average style of the people of
the twentieth century, I had no doubt that everybody was satisfied with
the new order of things.

My cool reception by the students and my conversation with Mr. Forest
had convinced me, that not every inhabitant of the United States in
the 2000th year of our Lord considered the present order of things
the millennium and I must say that I noticed the dissatisfaction with
sincere sorrow. For a sweet peace, a tranquillity never felt before,
had filled my heart, when Dr. Leete spoke of the absolute happiness of
the men of the twentieth century.

My new profession imposed upon me the duty of studying national
economy. Of course I could have pictured simply the social and
political circumstances, in which the people of the United States had
lived 113 years ago, but this would not have satisfied me. I desired
to learn, how the civilizations of the two centuries, if impartially
judged, would compare. Therefore I cultivated my acquaintance with Mr.
Forest, to hear from him the arguments against the theories set forth
by Dr. Leete, although a feeling of discomfort always overwhelmed
me, whenever the thought came to me, that Forest’s ideas might prove
victorious over the principles advanced by Dr. Leete. For a victory won
by Forest could mean nothing else but a return to a state of affairs,
which I thoroughly disliked, and which I knew to be full of cares and
discomforts.

I confined my next lecture to an accurate description of the state
of the labor market of Boston in 1887. Avoiding carefully all
exaggerations, I drew only indisputable conclusions from the facts
given, showing how capital and labor had lost equally by the numerous
strikes in those days and complimenting the present order of things,
for making such irrational economical conflicts impossible.

After my lectures I always conversed with Mr. Forest, who was quite as
willing to discuss the new order of society as Dr. Leete.

“The friends of the administration are calling me a fault-finder”,
said Mr. Forest, “and they are right, although they might express
their opinion with more civility, if they said, that I am critically
disposed. I would criticise every administration under which it chanced
to be my destiny to live, however good or bad that administration
might be. I do not harbor any animosity against the men, who rule
the United States to-day. I even admit that they exercise a little
more wisdom, energy and tolerance, than did the members of the
government, which ruled twelve years ago. But the fundamental principle
of their system is decidedly wrong and so the consequences must be
bad;--whatever the members of the administration may do to patch up the
shortcomings of their system”.

“So you think that the present system is absolutely wrong?” I queried.

“Can you entertain any doubts?” answered Forest. “Look around! Is the
leading principle in creation equality or variety? You find sometimes
similitude but never conformity. Botanists have carefully compared
thousands of leaves, which looked exactly alike at the first glance,
but which after close examination were found to possess striking
dissimilarities. Inequality is the law of nature and the attempt to
establish equality is therefore unnatural and absurd. Where-ever such
experiments have been made, they have ended in unqualified failure.
Even some of the first Christians, moved by brotherly love and charity,
failed in their efforts to establish communism permanently. And the
lamented Procrustes used two bedsteads in which he placed his victims.
He could not get along with one size for everybody. We may just as
well try to make every man six feet long, forty-two inches around
his chest, with a Grecian nose, blue eyes, light hair and a lyric
tenor voice, as to attempt to equalize all lives and reduce them to a
communistic state.--Now consider, in connection with the difference in
the mental and physical powers of men, their different inclinations
and tastes, the variety of their occupations, and then say, whether
the establishment of society on the basis of communism, of absolute
equality, is possible.”

“If I have formed a just appreciation of the organization of your
society, you have recognized the right of all men to a living by giving
everybody an equal share of the products of labor”, I objected; “but at
the same time you give everybody the chance to select the profession
or trade most to his taste and you have graded the men, belonging
to a guild, thus inciting the ambition of the worker, to reach a
higher grade, and creating a diversity of positions, adapted to that
dissimilarity of men, you were just speaking of”.

“Yes”, said Forest, “we first established the principle of equality
and then proceeded to arrange our system upon a basis of inequality,
thus avoiding an open avowal that the new organization of society was
a failure in both theory and practice. The question before us is a
very plain one: “_Are we all alike_”? If we are, then communism is
the proper form of society and everybody should have an equal share
of the products of labor. If we are not alike, if we differ in mental
power and in physical ability, if the results of the labor of men are
different, then there is no reason, why the wealth of the nation should
be equally divided. But we first proclaim equality and pretend that
we divide the products of labor equally among all;--and then we divide
the “workers into _first_, _second_ and _third grades_, according to
_ability_, and these grades are _subdivided_ into _first_ and _second
classes_.”[6] Here we see the workers subdivided into six classes for
the reason, expressly stated, that their ability _differs_. That their
diligence also differs is not admitted, but it is nevertheless the
fact. The _inequality_ of men is thus _distinctly recognized_, but the
products of labor are _equally_ divided in the name of _equality_! Now,
everybody has a natural right to the products of his activity, but we
are taking a large share of the results of the labor of a clever worker
of class A of the first grade to give it to a lazy fellow of class B
of the third grade. This is downright robbery, not even hidden beneath
the shabby cloak of the leading principle governing all the acts of the
administration; and all those who can not admire this stealing, are
denounced as enemies of the best organization of society, ever known in
the history of mankind”.

    [6] Page 125.

“You are to a certain extent an admirer of the civilization of the
nineteenth century”, I answered; “and yet in our times the employers
were accused by some of the labor agitators of “stealing” a large
amount of the products of work by reaping very large profits and paying
small wages. I would rather favor an equal division of all properties
than a system, by which a comparatively small number of employers can
enrich themselves at the expense of the masses of the laboring people.”

“I am not an admirer of the civilization of the nineteenth century,
Mr. West,” Forest exclaimed. “I simply maintain, that the principles
of _competition_ under which society worked a hundred years ago was
far _superior_ to the _communism_, under which we are laboring. The
unjust profits of the employers, of which you complain, could have
been easily done away with, if your workmen had organized themselves
into co-partnerships or associations. There was no law a hundred
years ago to prevent a dozen shoemakers renting a loft with steam
power, purchasing a few sewing and other machines and making boots and
shoes at their own risk. There was no law to prevent all the other
workingmen buying their boots and shoes at the shop of the co-operative
association, thus securing for the members of the latter the profits
of the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer and workman. The laborers
of all the different trades had a perfect right to organize such
co-operative societies and thus secure all the profit that was in
their labor. If the workmen preferred not to make use of this chance,
if they did not care to assume the cares and risks of conducting a
business for themselves, if they would rather work for an employer,
leaving the cares and risks of the managements entirely to him, they
had certainly no reason to complain of the profit of the employer. And
if they were not satisfied with their treatment they could at any time
seek other employment;--a thing that the workmen of our days _can not
do_, for there is only one employer, the national administration.--The
principle, that a man has a right to what he produces, was not
questioned under your form of production. But we have in the name of
equality and justice established the “right” to rob an industrious
man of a part of the product of his labor and give this booty to his
lazy comrade. If the workingmen of the nineteenth century, instead of
sacrificing enormous sums in strikes, had organized one trade after
another into co-operative associations, they would have solved what
they styled the social questions with comparatively little trouble. And
they would have saved us from the present outrageous form of society.”

“The strikes were an effect merely of the concentration of capital in
greater masses, than had ever been known before”, I said, repeating the
views of Dr. Leete on this question. “Before this concentration began
... the individual workman was relatively important and independent in
his relations to his employers. Moreover, when a little capital or a
new idea was enough to start a man in business for himself, workingmen
were constantly becoming employers and there was no hard or fast line
between the two classes. Labor unions were needless then and general
strikes out of the question”.[7]

    [7] Page 52.

“In your place, Mr. West, I would not endorse those sentences of Dr.
Leete”, said Forest with a smile, “for the Doctor has had frequent
occasions to change his mind on this subject and persists in repeating
his erroneous statements, although I and others have disproved them
until further repetitions of our arguments became tedious. Strikes are
not, as Dr. Leete pretends to believe, comparatively late appearances
on the battle fields of national economy. One of the biggest strikes
that ever occurred, the “secessio in montem sacrum”, took place in Rome
as early as 494 before Christ, and, during the centuries of the middle
ages, strikes for higher wages frequently occurred, although in those
days labor was much better organized (in trades unions, guilds and
“Zuenfte”) and more powerful than capital. And as for the impossibility
of laborers ever becoming employers, I can show you in the college
library a copy of the German paper, the “Freie Presse”, published in
the city of Chicago anno 1888, where the editor, in contradicting
similar statements of the communists of those days, points to the fact,
that in 1888 there were 12,000 German house owners, manufacturers
and well to do or rich business men in Chicago, who all had come to
the city poor. When these Germans came to Chicago only a very few of
them spoke English, still they were able to accumulate fortunes. This
disproves the statement, that the people at the end of the last century
were in the clutches of capital and unable to free themselves.--It is
the easiest thing in the world to make wild statements, but it is
sometimes difficult to substantiate them. And Dr. Leete is an adapt at
making statements”.

“But are you not getting along in good style?” I asked, hoping to stop
Forest’s complaints, by pointing to an undisputable fact. “Are you not
enjoying an unprecedented prosperity and is not this general result,
the definite annihilation of poverty, an achievement worth small
sacrifices?”

“We are not getting along in good style. We are not enjoying an
unprecedented prosperity. You will discover very soon, that you are
overestimating the character and the fruits of our civilization. And so
far as the annihilation of poverty is concerned, it amounts practically
to nothing but the enrichment of the awkward, stupid and lazy people,
with the proceeds of the work of the clever and industrious women and
men. You could have done that 113 years ago, but you were not foolish
and unjust enough to commit such a robbery.”

“If the people don’t like the present organization of society, why do
they not change it?” I asked. “From your remarks, I have drawn the
conclusion, that you have no opposition party worth speaking of, for
you said, there are only a few opposition papers published in the
country. This seems to prove that the people are satisfied with the
present state of affairs”.

Forest looked very severe as he answered: “You are of course under the
impression, that we are acting with the same liberty you were enjoying
113 years ago. But everything in political life has changed since those
days. With the exception of a limited number of government officials
and a few contractors, your citizens were perfectly independent of
the administration; to-day the administration rules everything,
and everybody is more or less dependent upon the good will of our
rulers. Whoever dares to openly oppose the ruling spirits may be sure
that all the wrath and all the unpleasantness at the command of the
administration, will be piled upon him and his relatives and friends.
Therefore the number of men who are daring enough to challenge the ire
of the government is very small, although a great many are discontented
with the present state of affairs.”

“But why don’t people elect men to congress, who would pass laws, that
would change a state of things, so unsatisfactory to the masses?” I
asked, satisfied, that Forest in his fault-finding mood, was using his
dark paint altogether to freely.

“Congress has very little influence nowadays”, Forest answered. “The
power rests almost entirely with the president and the chiefs of the
ten great departments. They have well nigh absolute power and resemble
somewhat the council of ten in Venice, when that aristocratic Republic
was at the height of its power. As it lies within their discretion
to assign each and every person to a good or a poor position for
twenty-four years and even to order a draft from the ranks of the men
over forty-five years of age, thus being able to get disliked men
back under the direct discipline of the industrial army, they have a
power over all the people that no tyrant of your times ever dreamed of
establishing”.

“You know of course”, Mr. Forest continued, “that all recruits belong
for the first three years of their service to the class of unskilled
or common laborers. It is not until after this period, during which he
is _assignable_ to _any work_ at the _discretion of his superiors_,
that the young man is allowed to select a special avocation”.[8] You
can readily see that the young man is during these three years at the
absolute mercy of his superiors. They may assign him to easy and clean
work, or they may send him to do a dirty and unhealthy job. He has to
obey orders. For “a man able to do duty and persistently refusing,
is sentenced to solitary imprisonment on bread and water until he
consents”.[9]

    [8] Page 70.

    [9] Page 128.

“You know furthermore, that “individual _records are kept_ and that
excellence receives distinction, corresponding with the penalties
that negligence incurs.” Dr. Leete has undoubtedly told you this
and furthermore “that it is not policy with us to permit youthful
recklessness or indiscretion, when not deeply culpable, to handicap
the future careers of young men and that all who have passed the
unclassified grade without serious disgrace, have an equal opportunity
to choose the life employment they have the most liking for....
Now not only are the individual records of these apprentices for
ability and industry strictly kept and excellency distinguished by
suitable distinctions, but upon the average of his record during
his apprenticeship the standing given the apprentice among the full
workmen depends....[10] While the internal organizations of the
various industries, mechanical and agricultural, differ according to
their peculiar conditions, they agree in a general division of their
workers into first, second and third grades, according to ability,
and these grades are in many cases subdivided, into first and second
classes. According to his _standing_ as an _apprentice_, a young man is
_assigned_ his place as a _first_, _second_ or _third grade worker_.
_Regradings take place_ in each industry at intervals, corresponding
with the length of the apprenticeship.... One of the notable advantages
of a high grading, is the _privilege_ it gives the worker to select
which of the various branches or processes of his industry he will
follow as his specialty”[11].... Dr. Leete has of course further
informed you, “that so far as possible, the preferences of the poorest
workman are considered in assigning him his line of work.... While
however the wish of the lower grade man is consulted so far as the
exigencies of the service permit, he is considered only after the upper
grade men are provided for, and often he has to put up with second
or third choice or even with an _arbitrary assignment_ when help is
needed. This privilege of selection attends every _regrading_, and when
a man loses his grade, he also risks having to exchange the sort of
work he likes best for some other less to his taste.... High places in
the nation are open only to the highest class men.”[12]

    [10] Page 124.

    [11] Page 125.

    [12] Pages 125 and 126.

“These regulations bear out what I just said in regard to the power
of the administration. The lieutenants, captains and colonels, are
appointed by the generals of the guild, who in turn are under the
command of the ten chiefs of the ten great departments. These officers
may give their young friends, who enter the industrial army as
apprentices, easy jobs and good records and enable their friends on
the strength of their records, as soon as they have passed the first
three years of service, to enter the first class of the first grade of
a trade. And such a favorite, who, backed by influential friends, has
passed an easy time as an apprentice and who has received at once the
first class of the first grade of his trade is immediately appointable
to a lieutenantship and he can run up to the higher honors in a few
years.--You can not deny, Mr. West, that our regulations permit such a
favoritism.”

I had to admit that such things were possible.

Mr. Forest continued: “On the other hand, the young men, who are not
the sons and friends of our leaders, are fortunate if they can secure
a second grade position, with a record, that does not exclude all
hopes of further promotion. Relatives of outspoken opponents of the
administration, can be placed in the second class of the third grade
of their trade, and their record can be so kept, that they can never
hope to secure a higher position. And such a favoritism is not only
possible, but it absolutely does exist. The sons and relatives of men,
who are known as opponents of the administration, have practically to
live worse than slaves, and are sometimes treated like foot balls”.

“Is there no court of appeals?” I asked.

“Yes, such an abused man or woman can go to a Judge”, Mr. Forest
answered. “But, the minor Judges are merely men who have passed
the 45th year of age and have been appointed to such a position
for five years by the President. They--as Dr. Leete of course told
you--adjudicate all cases where a member of the industrial army makes
a complaint of unfairness against an officer. All such questions are
_heard and settled without appeal by a single Judge_, three Judges
being required only in graver cases. The efficiency of industry
requires the _strictest discipline_ in the army of labor[13]--The men
appointed by the President are of course trustworthy friends of the
administration and not expected to decide in such cases against the
officers of the government and in favor of the “Kickers”. And as such
cases are settled without appeal, the ill-used member of the industrial
army has to go back to his old position, where the superior, whom he
has accused, will certainly not treat him better than before. On the
contrary, such an officer has a first-class chance to “get even” with
his dissatisfied subordinate, especially at the next regrading, when he
can put him into the last class and grade, if the unfortunate fellow
is not already there. If such is the case, the offended officer can at
least assign the “Kicker” to the most objectionable work”.

    [13] Page 206.

The picture, thus drawn by Mr. Forest, appeared so dreadful, especially
when compared by me with the descriptions of Dr. Leete, that I could
not collect myself sufficiently to try an argument against the
conclusions of my predecessor in the professorship of the history of
the nineteenth century.

After a short pause the present janitor continued: “Now consider in
connection with all the facts and institutions that I have mentioned,
that “_the workers have no suffrage to exercise or anything to say
about the choice” of their superiors_.[14]--“The general of the guild
appoints to the ranks under him, but he himself is not appointed, but
chosen by suffrage among the superintendents by vote of the honorary
members of the guilds, that is by those who have served their time in
the guild and received their discharge”[15].--So my dear Mr. West, the
members of the industrial army are twenty-four years absolutely at the
mercy of their superiors. If they desire to have a good time they
must blindly obey orders and seek favor by all means in their power.
They must influence their friends who have votes not only to stand by
the administration, but to do it in a demonstrative manner. Occasional
presents of wines and cigars may secure the friendship of some of the
officers. Otherwise the member of the industrial army may lead for
twenty-four years a life, compared with which the lot of a plantation
slave or of the poorest coal digger 150 years ago would be called an
enviable fate. For a plantation slave was considered a valuable piece
of property and not recklessly destroyed, while the poorest coal digger
could leave his job and go to some other place, until he found more
suitable employment. A member of our industrial army, who has drawn
down upon himself the ire of the officers of the administration or
who is placed on the list of the enemies of society on account of the
opposition of his voting relatives, leads a life that may be termed
as “twenty four years of hell on earth”! I have demonstrated to you
now, Mr. West, why congress has no influence. The vast majority of its
members are continually trying to please the administration, for the
purpose of securing favors for themselves, their relatives and their
friends,” said Mr. Forest in conclusion. “And this is the equality of
the best organization society ever had; this is what Dr. Leete calls
the millennium”.

    [14] Page 277.

    [15] Page 189.



CHAPTER IV.


“It is in conformity with the laws of nature and, therefore, right
that a man should push his son, his relatives and friends, and I would
not blame a man for doing this; I should rather denounce him for not
doing it--always provided, of course, that said son, said relatives
or friends were qualified to fill the positions to which they are
appointed”, said Mr. Forest at our next conversation. “I remember
that I have read in certain books a great deal about the nepotism
shown at your time in the distribution of the federal patronage, and
that General Grant was accused of always preferring his relatives and
friends in making appointments. I sympathize with that great commander
in the sturdiness with which he stood by his friends, and I am inclined
to excuse the mistakes, he sometimes made in his appointments, because
they were mistakes of his heart that was always true to his friends
and sometimes was inclined to overestimate their ability, or sense of
honor. If the ties of blood and friendship are not to be considered,
what else should be? And since a man is bound to know the character
and ability of his relatives and friends better than the qualities of
other people, he should certainly first appoint those next to him to
positions for which they are qualified.”

“But the trouble with our political and social system is, that it is
bound to breed not only favoritism, but also corruption on the largest
scale. One hundred and thirteen years ago, the men at the head of the
National Government or those who were influential with them were also
sometimes filling places, where for little work a good salary was paid,
with unworthy women and men, but such sinecures were comparatively few
and far between. The number of federal officials in your days was, if I
am not mistaken about 80,000, and the postmasters of the small country
towns, who made up the largest part of the 80,000 were paid such a
beggarly commission for the sale of postage stamps, that no one could
afford to accept such positions except trades people, who kept a store,
where they had to be all day anyhow, and to whom the honor and small
profits were an object. And then the incumbents of all the offices that
could be classed as sinecures, were changed every four or eight years.
Our administrations have a very long life. The one ousted twelve years
ago lasted twenty-six years. And the number of positions at the command
of the government is very large. There is one lieutenant or overseer to
about each and every twelve men or women, not to mention the captains,
colonels, etc.; and the amount of bookkeeping done, is simply enormous.
We are keeping books as you know, I suppose, in all the producing as
well as in the distributing departments, and more than that: every
citizen has an account in the police books[16].

    [16] Page 87.

“When you take into consideration our great and growing population,
you can form some idea of how enormous this work is. You are aware,
that the North American territory, formerly under British rule, has
been annexed to the United States, and that the population, according
to the census of 1990, numbered 414,000,000. It is now estimated at
500,000,000[17]. The complicated system of bookkeeping required by the
communistic plan of production, and the shortness of working hours
granted to the bookkeepers, who are all preferred men and women,
favorites of the members of the administration, made it necessary
to appoint a bookkeeper for every fifty people. Under the former
administration we had one bookkeeper for every forty-two people. This
gives to the government a chance to provide, at its own pleasure, over
10,000,000 of men and women with clean and easy work. Add to these
10,000,000 of positions about 10,000,000 officers of the industrial
army, from the lieutenantships up to the positions of colonel; add,
furthermore, the clerkships in the distributing places and many other
preferred positions, and you can see at a glance what an enormous power
the administration possesses and how tempting this power is.”

    [17] The first census of the United States was taken in 1790,
         when 3,929,314 people were counted. In 1880 the population
         numbered 50,155,738, and in 1890 it is about 68,000,000.
         In one hundred years it has been multiplied by 16. If
         the rate of increase should continue to be the same, the
         United States would have in 1990, without the population
         of Canada, about 1,040,006,000 of people. I have figured
         an increase of about twenty percent for each decade,
         which would give for the year 2000 about 500 millions of
         inhabitants for the United States and Canada.

“But is it not necessary for those applying for the responsible
position of a bookkeeper to have passed through a course of study in
order to be qualified for such important duties?” I inquired.

“Bookkeeping is part of the instruction in our schools”, Mr. Forest
answered, “and the bookkeeping in the public offices is not well done.
So the responsibility, resting on the shoulders of the favorites
of the members of the administration, does not harass the minds of
these preferred people very much. It is, of course, impossible for
an outsider to obtain an insight into the workings of the present
administration, and to know how the books are kept. But when the late
administration went out of office twelve years ago, an unfathomable
pool of corruption was uncovered. An inventory of the goods on hand was
taken, and it was stated that the books showed a shortage of more than
four hundred and thirty-two million dollars. The members of the ousted
administration declared this statement to be entirely false, that it
had been “doctored” by the experts of the administration, for the
purpose of casting discredit upon the members of the old government.
The accused officers admitted that shortages were possible, for the
reason, that all the clerks whose duty it was to measure goods, were
inclined to give the people good weight and large measure, but that
these shortages would not reach the figure of $432,000,000, and that
the deficiency could not be considered as a proof of want of honesty
on the part of the old officers. On the other hand, the new officers
claimed, that the enormous shortages were due to the corruption of the
members and prominent supporters of the ousted administration, who had
always overdrawn their accounts, and had not been charged with the
goods taken out in excess of their credit cards”.

I asked Mr. Forest what he thought of these charges.

“I think, they were to a large extent well founded. The temptation
under our wretched system is too great. That the leaders should give
to their relatives and next friends good positions would not be
blameworthy, if the appointees were fit to fill the places given them.
But the best places, numbering in all about twenty millions, are not
filled with the best and most able men. They go, so far as they are not
given to the relatives and friends of the leaders, to friends of the
administration, in order to keep the latter in power. They are given to
the sons and relatives and friends of the most active supporters of the
government. And even this would be tolerable, if the favoritism stopped
there, at the boundary of corruption and tyranny. But it does not”.

“Are you accusing the present administration and all its friends of
corruption and tyranny?” I asked, feeling that I should have to end my
conversations with Mr. Forest, if he should make disparaging charges,
even indirectly, against my host.

“I am speaking of a system and I am mentioning only such facts and
deeds as I can prove”, Mr. Forest answered. “I am not accusing men for
any pleasure it gives me to do so. I know that your question refers
to Dr. Leete and, though it is not a direct one, yet I will meet it
squarely. I regard Dr. Leete as one of the best and purest of men among
the party-leaders; but he, also, is making use of the advantages that
our system offers to the men in power.”

“Will you be kind enough to substantiate what you say?” I asked
quietly, but sharply.

“I will leave it to you to say, whether I am going too far in my
statement”, Forest continued. “Did not Dr. Leete inform you that he has
been “cherishing the idea of building a laboratory in the large garden
of his house?”[18] And did he not tell you that he sent for the workmen
and that they unearthed the vault in which you slept?”[19]

    [18] Page 34.

    [19] Page 34.

“Indeed, Dr. Leete said that he intended to build a chemical
laboratory”, I admitted; “but is not the amount of his credit-card
large enough to permit him such an expenditure?”

Forest looked somewhat amused and asked me, if I had ever looked at
the total amount the credit-card called for. I confessed that I never
had; noticing that the style of living of Dr. Leete was luxurious
enough for anybody, I had not troubled myself to ascertain how much the
country allowed each and every inhabitant per year.

“Well”, said Mr. Forest, “we will discuss the wealth of the nation at
some other time. To-day we will continue to investigate the tendency
of the communistic system to breed favoritism, corruption, servility
and suppression of opponents.--As for Dr. Leete, he is building his
laboratory in spite of the fact, that such an enterprise is entirely
against the intention and spirit of our institutions. There is a very
good laboratory of the kind in the basement of this college, and Dr.
Leete would certainly be welcome, if he should ask permission to
experiment there at his pleasure. His influence, if nothing else, would
secure him a permit. But vanity causes him to erect a superfluous
building, which will give the Radicals a new and visible argument
against the ruling clique”.

“What Radicals are you speaking of?” I asked.

“I am referring to the radical communists who object to the present
state of affairs, because they desire to abolish religious services,
matrimony and all personal-property, institutions that are at present
tolerated. We will speak of our political parties and their principles
later. I simply desired to establish to your own satisfaction, or
dissatisfaction, the fact, that Dr. Leete is erecting for his private
use and in violation of communistic principles, a chemical laboratory,
a very expensive affair, for which the credit-cards of ten men would
not pay, and thus challenging the criticism of all the enemies of the
administration”.

“Cannot Dr. Leete pay a fair rent for the laboratory?” I rejoined. “I
should think that the abundance of labor could not be used to a better
advantage than to erect buildings, the rent for which will increase the
income of the nation”.

“But there is no abundance of labor, as you will discover in due
time”, said Forest. “And if you will imagine what would happen, if
every citizen should demand a similar outlay of labor and instruments
to please his notions, you will undoubtedly see, that Dr. Leete is
assuming an exceptional position, which, not only savors of favoritism
but, also, involves an indiscreet abuse of power, calculated to create
bad blood”.

I could not very well refute the arguments of Mr. Forest, and so was
silent.

“But favoritism and the occasional abuse of power for the accommodation
of men like Dr. Leete, are not the worst features of our present form
of government”, he continued, “and the fact that influential men
frequently receive presents of silks, furs, and jewelry for their wives
and daughters, and of wine and cigars for themselves, from people
seeking the intercession of these powerful men, in order to procure
preferred positions for themselves or for relatives and friends,
could also be borne although, of course, they are proofs of political
corruption. But the worst consequences of this damnable communism are
tyranny and the possibility of brutal persecution of the opponents
of the administration on the one hand, and servility, adulation and
calumny on the other. Every man and every body of men who have gained
certain advantages or occupy desired positions will defend themselves
against all attacks of their opponents. So will political parties try
to keep themselves in power by rewarding their faithful workers and
by crowding back their opponents. It is, therefore, very dangerous
to invest a great government with arbitrary powers, which permit
the rulers to make the people dependent upon the good will of their
officers, even in their daily occupation, all their life long”.

“According to your description the present state of society appears to
be an unbearable condition of affairs”, I said.

“If you inquire among the members of the different guilds, especially
among the farmers,” Mr. Forest continued, “you will find that I am
describing things just as they are. Every member of the industrial army
knows that ability and industry alone will secure a desirable position
only in exceptional cases, if at all; that political influence is the
almighty factor in every affair of our lives, and that the industrial
army is governed by officers whom the worker must try to please, by
personal adulation, by presents, by a slavish devotion to the orders
of the superiors, and indirectly by inducing all the members of his
family and all his friends to support every measure and every member
of the administration. If the members of the industrial army could
elect their officers, the discipline would of course, not be so strict,
as it is now; but even an occasional row amongst the men would be
preferable to the present state of affairs, where every one who happens
to be unpopular with the ruling party is leading a terrible existence.
The number of suicides is therefore becoming larger every year and is
to-day four times greater than in your times”.

“The number of suicides in European armies 113 years ago was very
large”, I remarked thoughtfully, “although the men had everything they
needed in the line of lodging, food and clothing”.

“Yes,” said Forest, “the necessities of life without liberty are of
little value. The soldiers of your time threw away their lives, because
they did not consider a life without freedom worth living, and still
their term of service lasted only three or five years, and they had but
a comparatively easy duty to perform in times of peace. The service
in our industrial army lasts, at the best, 24 years of our life. The
men and women are at the mercy of their officers, and they can appeal
against maltreatment to other members of the administration only to
judges who decide definitely such cases, generally by simply sending
back the complainants to their work with an admonishment to try to win
the good will of their superiors, and thus secure promotion.”

“You have been speaking about politicians, Mr. Forest”, I said. “Do
many men take an active part in political life?”

“I should say they did”, my predecessor answered. “Many of the men
from 45 years upwards, and many women do little else, except busy
themselves with politics. They can live on their credit-cards wherever
they please, and many of them prefer to spend their time in Washington,
“hustling around” in a very lively fashion, trying to gain favors
for their friends, and for such people as address themselves to the
hustlers. The lobby in the halls of Congress in your days is described
as a bad crowd, but to compare it with the hustlers of our days, would
be like comparing a Sunday school with pandemonium. Millions of people
who desire better work or promotion, and who have nothing to hope from
the influence they are able to command at home, write to the hustlers
at Washington to secure their services.”

“But what can the seekers of favors offer to those who live in
Washington for the purpose of gaining favor for other people, and whom
we may call the lobbyists of the twentieth century?” I inquired. “In
the present day, men do not accumulate fortunes.”

“Indeed, they do not”, answered Mr. Forest with a smile. “But some
people desire to have occasionally a “high time” and to spend five or
ten times the amount of their credit-card during each year. Some of our
administration leaders keep, what we may style, a “great house”. They
receive guests and entertain them with delicacies and wine. Some of the
most prominent lobbyists do the same thing. An applicant for favors has
to give up a part or perhaps nearly all of his credit-card, and he may
look to his future subordinates for a rich compensation”.

“But why are people not satisfied with their legitimate income”? I
asked, painfully surprised to see that wire-pulling and corruption were
quite as prevalent as they had been 113 years ago. “Is not the income a
credit-card affords sufficient to support people?”

“You can never satisfy the people”, Forest said. “Nowadays the clever
and industrious part of the people feel that they are robbed for the
benefit of their lazy, awkward or stupid comrades, that they have to
submit to the impudence and blackmailing of some of their superiors,
or else undergo humiliating treatment. And even the men and women of
the lowest ability, who are benefited by our present system, are not
all of them pleased. Some of them would rather do away with personal
property and separate housekeeping. In fact, but a very small portion
of our citizens are really satisfied.--And people who are fond of good
cooking, costly meals and Havana cigars, certainly cannot pay for such
luxuries, and have to depend upon others if they desire to enjoy them.
We have in Washington, also, a great many young women, who prefer
flirtation, fine meals and a fast life to the regular employment in the
industrial army or the life of an ordinary good wife”.

“Then prostitution still flourishes in Washington”, I exclaimed with
amazement.

“Indeed it does”, Mr. Forest assented. “Of course, these girls hold
clerical positions in the different departments, but these positions
are sinecures. I understand from friends who have seen part of the
secret life at the capitol, (and it is not so very secret either) that
some of the higher officials spend fifty times the amount of their
credit cards with these women. A part of their income is obtained from
those seeking favors, who willy-nilly give up a part of their credit
cards. Another part of the values squandered by influential persons,
comes from the public storehouse, where only a small proportion of
the value taken out by the influential people, is pricked from their
credit cards by the clerks, who are fully aware what is expected of
them, if they desire to retain their positions; for if they should
treat the leaders of the ruling party like common laborers, they would
be degraded to class B of their third grade. The glitter of corruption
proves attractive to many men and women, as I have stated before, and
the population of Washington, therefore, exceeds that of any other city
on the American continent.”

“But, I cannot understand, why the people tolerate such a corrupt and
tyrannical government as you describe,” I said, “and I am satisfied
that your hypochondriac disposition is befogging somewhat the keenness
of your eyesight and the clearness of your judgment.”

“It is your own fault if you remain in doubt as to the perfect
correctness of my statements”, Mr. Forest said. “If you, for instance,
should desire to take a vacation for the purpose of giving our rulers
in Washington one of your enthusiastic lectures, you will cheerfully
be granted leave of absence from your duties as professor and will be
received at the capitol in grand style. For the enthusiasm displayed
by you for our institutions, as compared with the civilization of
the nineteenth century, will pour water on the mill wheels of our
administration. You will find the state of affairs precisely as I have
described them to be, and by conversing with the rank and file of the
supporters of the administration, you will find that they are upholding
the present state for the reason that they despair of their ability to
improve public affairs, and because they are afraid of a rule still
worse, under the radicals”.

“How could a state of public affairs be worse than the one you have
pictured to me in your conversations”, I exclaimed.

“Many people are afraid that the Radicals would prohibit marriages and
would force free love with all its consequences upon the people. In
fact, the radical newspapers--the only sheets that speak out boldly
against the administration and strike from the shoulder--are denouncing
religion, marriage, separate house-keeping and the limited amount of
property people are permitted to own”.

“But, how can the tone of the Radical press be reconciled with your
statement that the administration is treating its opponents so badly”?
I asked. “If it is the custom of the government to confine its
opponents in insane asylums, why are the Radical newspapers permitted
to advocate such abominable principles”?

Mr. Forest laughed and replied: “The Radical editors are favored
exceptions. They are doing good service for the administration in
scaring the mass of the people into submission. Whenever an election
of generals of the guilds is near at hand, the Radical press is
permitted to howl to the best ability of its editors. Then, a few days
before the election, the administration organs copy extracts from the
rabid and nonsensical utterances of such papers, and ask the people,
if they desire that kind of government, urge the voters to stand by
the administration which can, of course, not please everybody in all
points, but which is the best any people on earth ever had, and so
forth ad infinitum”.

“Then the Radical editors are simply tolerated as bugbears, while the
more moderate writers are not permitted to oppose the administration?”

“Exactly”, rejoined Mr. Forest. “But I am afraid, the government is
playing a very dangerous game. The Radicals are undoubtedly gaining
ground and have amongst their followers very desperate men, who may
at any time raise the black flag of destruction. If we had a free and
independent people, the danger would not be so great. Then the masses
of free men would rally to the defence of their beloved institutions.
But as matters now stand, the masses are accustomed to submission
under a rule of a minority, and the determined uprising of a body of
desperate men would find but a comparatively small number of citizens
ready to fight for the present order of things. And it will be a bad
day for humanity, when the Radicals come into power”.

“But, you said that about twelve years ago the government lost an
election. That shows, that it can be beaten in a square fight, and you
further said that the present rulers are better citizens than the men
that formed the last administration”.

“There is certainly some improvement, but it is nothing very
remarkable. It amounted, in substance, to a change of men, but not
to a change of system. Favoritism, corruption and prostitution have
decreased somewhat, but they have not been stamped out. They still
flourish. People who were very enthusiastic at the time of the election
and hoped for a clean and popular administration, have now lost all
confidence, that under the communistic rule there can be such a thing
as a just government. In substance, it has been, as I said, merely a
change of personalities and, therefore, the confidence of the people
in the prevailing system has been destroyed. Consequently, the change
has actually done more harm than good. The strongest and most reliable
element to-day in favor of good government is the farming population;
but although the farmers are very numerous, they represent one guild
only. They have but one general and one department chief, and are
outvoted by the representatives of the other guilds. And on account
of the opposition of the farmers to the administration they are not
treated as well as the members of the other guilds”.

“Do they not receive the same credit cards as other people”? I queried.

“They do, but they complain that they receive the poorest goods, and
that their share of public improvements and benefits is comparatively
small; and whenever there is a chance to discriminate against their
representatives, that chance is not lost. The farmers would be the
most reliable opponents to the Radicals, but the treatment they are
receiving from the administration, has created so much dissatisfaction
amongst the farming population, that we cannot count upon them in
a fight for the maintenance of the present system or the present
government. To give you an instance of the discrimination against the
farmers, I will mention the erection of music halls, theatres and
other places of evolution, recreation and amusement. It is, of course,
impossible to build a theatre or a concert hall at every country
crossroad, but the number of such public places erected in the cities
is entirely out of proportion to those erected in the country towns
and villages. The administration relies for its support upon the city
people, upon such guilds as are recruited from the population of the
cities, and, therefore bends all its energies to benefitting them.
Then there is another thing to be taken into account. The nation is
frequently left with small lots of goods on its hands, through changes
of taste, unseasonable weather and various other causes. These have to
be disposed of at a sacrifice, and the loss charged up to the expenses
of the business[20]. These goods the administration can dispose of at
any time when it chooses to claim that the best prices can be realized.
The members of the administration are also judges as to what goods are
to be sold at a sacrifice. It has been charged by the representatives
of the farming population that such of these goods as are of poor
quality are largely given out to farmers, while other things that are
in first-class condition are disposed of in the storehouses of the
cities, at reduced prices, and that in such instances favoritism and
corruption are coming in. I do not care to endorse all the complaints,
our farmers make. They may lack foundation to a great extent, but they
prove the existence of a deep dissatisfaction, and such charges could
simply not be made if our administration were not clothed with power
hitherto unheard of in the history of mankind. It is the system itself
that breeds all these evils”.

    [20] Page 186.

“Have you not, besides the radical and the administration parties,
other organizations fighting for the control of the government”?

“We have the temperance people who have organized themselves; but they
are simply striving within the administration party to secure the
control of the government. The administration does not discriminate
against the members of this organization. It gives them a chance to
do their very best, but so far they have not succeeded in making much
headway”.

“I notice that you are not giving the present system of society much
credit for anything done under its auspices. Don’t you think that the
abolition of absolute poverty, the elevation of all men and women to
a standard at least nearly equal, is a great and priceless gain to
humanity? I remember too well the inexpressible sufferings of some of
the poor people of my days, and while I am not sufficiently familiar
with the present state of society, to endorse or to contradict your
statements, yet I prize the abolishment of poverty so high, that I
still cling to the hope, in spite of your arguments to the contrary,
that the present form of society and of production may overcome all the
difficulties inseparable from all human efforts and institutions”.

“My dear Mr. West, I am glad to see you using now in your last remarks
in defense of communism the same arguments the defenders of the old
form of production used against the communists of your days. This
simply proves two facts, viz.: that nothing is perfect under God’s
sun, and that every form of government is forced to admit this. The
abolition of absolute poverty could have been accomplished as I can
and will prove later on, beyond a reasonable doubt, without a descent
into communism and the terrible consequences of this worst system
of production. The fact, that the members and the officers of the
administration may, at their pleasure, treat the friends of their
opponents, members of the industrial army, like slaves; that even the
friends of the government’s opponents who have gained comparatively
good positions, can be placed in the second class of the third grade
at the yearly regradings, and that favoritism is shown to all friends
of the administration, has caused adulation, servility, calumny and
corruption, and there was never a time in the history of the Saxon
race when there were in public business and social life so little
independence and manhood among the citizens. When two hundred and
thirty years ago England tried to levy a tax upon tea, the Americans
rose up in arms, because they would not permit the government to
collect a tax unless it granted to the Americans representation in the
parliament which imposed this tax. To-day the government controls the
labor of all men and women for twenty-four long years, without giving
the flower of the American people a chance to cast a vote, which shall
shape the form and policy of the government in conformity with the
wishes of those who produce the wealth of the nation. This state of
slavery which never existed before in the history of civilized nations,
can not last many years longer. It will go down in an ocean of blood.
For as the German poet Schiller says: Fear not outrages from free men;
but tremble when slaves break their chains”.



CHAPTER V.


From a heaven of peace and joy, from an ideal state inhabited by good
people only, Forest had thrown me into a deep dark sea of pity and
doubt.

Dr. Leete and his family noticed, of course, the disturbed state of my
thoughts, and while the doctor was evidently waiting for me to bring
about a discussion of the social problems, Edith was anxious to console
me. She seemed to think that the strangeness of my surroundings and of
my present position was depressing me.

I carefully avoided an explanation. I had resolved to continue the
conversations with Mr. Forest, but to form a clear opinion of my own by
examining into the actual state of things, and thus find if the real
facts bore out the statements of Dr. Leete or those of Mr. Forest.
Therefore on my way to and from the college I strolled along the
streets and conversed with all the people I met. I noticed with some
surprise that everybody was reserved, yes even shy, when I commenced to
ask about the administration of public affairs, about the principles
underlying our form of government, about the behavior of the officers,
the management of the storehouses, and whether the people were
satisfied and pleased, or not.

Hardly ever did I meet an expression either of cheerful contentment, or
of decided dissatisfaction. Only a few Radicals expressed themselves
in strong language against the present state of things and against the
leaders of the country, and a few women said that they did not like the
work in the factories at all. But, although people were very reserved
in the expression of their feelings and thoughts, I became convinced
that contentment is as rare a flower in the garden of communism as it
was in the United States of 113 years ago. The abominable language
used by the Radicals against the highest officers of the country could
not, of course, convince me that the latter were guilty of the charges
preferred. But I could not elicit from any other man or from any other
women of the rank and file of the industrial army a defense of the
accused men. They evidently did not care to antagonize anybody when
they were not called upon by one of their superiors to stand by the
administration.

Thus, I was forced to the conclusion, that communistic rule did
not create the universal happiness I expected to find after my
conversations with Dr. Leete. But I was inclined to think that people
lived well enough, without great cares, neither on the one hand
particularly content with their lot, nor on the other inclined to
change their system of production. And it seemed to me that most of the
people were rather dull and did not take much interest in anything. One
day when I reached the house of Dr. Leete after one of my promenades
through the streets of Boston, as I entered the hall, I heard a very
loud conversation in one of the rooms. The first words that arrested my
attention, spoken in a deep voice, trembling with emotion, were: “Miss
Edith has encouraged me to repeat my visits”.

“We are always glad to see you here, Mr. Fest”, Dr. Leete replied. “We
have all invited you.”

“Yes, you have; but you understand very well what I mean”, the
deep voice continued. “I have called here so frequently and have
to-day asked Miss Edith to become my wife, because your daughter has
encouraged my hopes to win her love. And now I am coolly informed that
I have made a great mistake, and I see my suspicion confirmed, that
this Bostonian of the nineteenth century, dug out by you from his grave
in your garden, is the man whom Miss Edith prefers to all others, even
the one she encouraged until a few days ago”.

“Mr. Fest, I wish you would represent the civilization of the twentieth
century with more dignity when you are speaking of my daughter and of
my guest”, said Dr. Leete with some emotion in his voice.

“Of course, I must preserve my dignity when I have been fooled by a
base flirtation for over a year, and make the discovery that the girl
I love is to marry a man 143 years old, in preference to me”, Mr. Fest
said in deep bitterness and somewhat sneeringly.

“How can you utter such cruel and untrue words,” Edith exclaimed with
angry excitement. “Never has the thought entered my mind that your
feelings toward me, your friend for over ten years, were anything but
brotherly affection”.

“It is time to end this conversation”, interposed Dr. Leete, “after the
explanations given, Mr. Fest undoubtedly feels, that our relations can
not be continued”.

“Of course, our relations can not be continued”, cried Mr. Fest in a
rage. “I leave you now, and give you, now and here, fair warning that I
shall not enter your house again as a friend. If I ever come again, it
will be as an enemy to be avenged for the destruction of my happiness
and the peace of my heart. Beware of that day”!

The reckless manner in which this man addressed Edith and her father
aroused my anger, and, entering the room I said; “Please save your
cheap pathos for amateur theatricals and leave this room at once”.

The man before me was about six feet and three inches tall, with broad
shoulders and two heavy fists. He looked down upon me with an ironical
glance and said: “I will spare you this time, old man, but the next
occasion that you indulge in impudent language, I will put you in a bag
and dump you into Massachusetts Bay”.

Before I could answer this pleasing threat, Mr. Fest had left the room
and the house.

“Who is this man?” I asked, turning to Dr. Leete, with no attempt to
conceal my displeasure.

“He is a machinist, a very able man in his trade and a captain in the
industrial army”, explained the doctor. “His parents lived next door
and when he was a boy, he used to play with Edith”.

“If I were to judge the social manners of the officers of the
industrial army, by the experience of this hour, I should have to
say that civilization has moved very slowly and rather backward than
ahead”, I remarked.

“It is an extraordinary case of atavism”, said Dr. Leete. “Such
hotheadedness is very rare in our days”.

I did not care to begin just now, a conversation that might have a
very unpleasant termination. But I could not repress the thought that
113 years ago the manners and morals were such, that lines were drawn
between the two sexes that were invisible but still recognized by
every one having a little sense of propriety, and that a man would
hardly have felt as if he had been encouraged, if it were not the
case. I entertained not the slightest doubt that Edith had behaved as
well as any girl of her time. It was the consequence of the tendency
to equalize everything that had, perhaps, effaced to a certain degree
the fine lines existing 113 years ago between good women and men. I
remembered my question put to Dr. Leete: “And so the girls of the
twentieth century tell their love”? and the doctor’s answer: “If they
choose. There is no more pretense of a concealment of feeling on their
part than on the part of their lovers”.[21]--Yes, if girls tell their
love just as men do, then the fine lines between the two sexes must be
obliterated, and a feeling of repulsion and uneasiness took possession
of me.

    [21] Page 266.

“It may become necessary to place Mr. Fest, at least for a few months,
under medical treatment”, remarked Dr. Leete thoughtfully. “He is
certainly in a high state of excitement, and it is not unlikely that he
may commit a rash act which he would repent afterwards”.

“One hundred and thirteen years ago we would have placed such a man
under bonds to keep the peace,” I said, considering with terror the
idea, that a man could be placed in an insane asylum for uttering a few
rash words.

“And if, in violation of his bond, he committed a breach of the peace”,
said the doctor, “what did you then do with such a man”?

“We punished him according to the laws covering the case, either by
imprisonment or by a fine, or in cases of murder, by putting the
criminals to death”.

“We place a man in whom atavism makes its appearance, in a hospital
where competent physicians take care of him until they consider him
sufficiently cured to be released”, said Dr. Leete, with an expression
of great satisfaction and kindness, as he lighted a fresh havana cigar.

“I think you are running no great risk, papa, if you allow that man to
attend to the duties of his position”, Edith remarked. “He is quick
tempered and hot headed; but he will soon become composed”.

“I am not so sure about that”, Dr. Leete said slowly. “I remember that
he has always shown deep strong feeling whenever he had set his heart
upon anything. He may, and he may not, calm down. It is dangerous to
take any chances with such a man”.

Conflicting sentiments and ideas filled my heart and head. I felt that
if I continued the conversation it might end in a conflict with Dr.
Leete, and I was in no mood to engage in any discussion with him. So I
excused myself on the plea of a bad head ache, and left the house to
take a walk.

The experience of the last hour did not savor much of the millennium.
Here was a man holding the rank of an officer of the industrial army,
and roughly and rudely accusing Edith of flirtation. His behavior
certainly did not correspond with the high praise Dr. Leete gave to the
culture and education of the young people of the twentieth century.
At all events this conflict between Fest and the family of Dr. Leete
demonstrated that contentment is not secured to humanity by the simple
introduction of communism, by securing for everybody lodging, clothing
and a sufficient quantity of good food. Envy and jealousy threatened
our love, and Mr. Fest seemed to be just the kind of a man to make his
displeasure felt. The manner in which Dr. Leete proposed to prevent a
rash act of the enraged lover appeared to me even more disagreeable
than the prospect of a personal encounter with Mr. Fest. And again
the question arose before my mind whether Edith Bartlett, my fiancée
of 1887 would ever have given a man an opportunity to accuse her of
flirtation or to assert that she had encouraged him to declare his love.

When I met Mr. Forest after my next lecture I remarked: “I understand
the girls of the twentieth century are somewhat of the style that we
would have called emancipated”.

With a short but sharp glance at my pale face which testified that I
had passed a sleepless night, Mr. Forest replied: “The mad endeavor
to equalize the variety, established by nature, has not spared the
relations between women and men. Both sexes belong to the industrial
army, both have their own officers and judges, both receive the same
pay. The queen of your old-fashioned household has been dethroned.
We take our meals in great steam-feeding establishments, and if our
Radicals, who are in fact the logical communists, are victorious,
we will all live together in lodging houses accommodating thousands
of people. Marriage will be abolished, together with religion and
all personal property; free love will be proclaimed and we will live
together like a flock of rabbits. The natural sense of propriety which
is a distinguishing quality of the finer sex, fortunately prevents
most of our women and girls becoming victims of the low and degrading
theories of communism. But the real girl of our period is a very
remarkable although by no means agreeable specimen. Do you know Miss
Cora Delong, a cousin of Miss Edith Leete”?

“I have not the pleasure”.

“You will not escape her”, Mr. Forest predicted with a smile of
amusement. “Miss Cora is very enthusiastic over the absolute equality
of women and men. And since some of our young men are courting their
young lady friends, Miss Cora thinks it but fair and proper that she
should court some of the young men. She does not hesitate to tell them
that she admires their good looks, that she loves them; she asks them
for kisses, invites them to a drink--just as young men talk to young
girls and just as they invite them to have a plate of ice cream.--She
smokes cigars and plays billiards with her male friends, and is doing
all she can to “equalize” the sexes. And Miss Cora as well as the
other “girls of our period” complains very loudly that she cannot
abolish all the differences between woman and man”.

“I am not very anxious to make the acquaintance of Miss Cora Delong”, I
confessed. “And I agree with you from my own personal experience that
the old style of housekeeping is very agreeable. I would prefer it. But
do not the women of the twentieth century lead a more comfortable life
than even the wealthy ladies of my former days? And are you not getting
more toil out of the women than we did? Dr Leete says you are”[22].

    [22] Page 266.

“Dr. Leete is a great optimist whenever communism is discussed”,
answered Mr. Forest. “It is, of course, impossible to state with any
degree of certainty, how much the girls and women of the year 1887
produced. But I doubt very much the statement of your host that we are
getting a great deal more toil out of our women than you did”.

“The separate cooking, washing and ironing at the end of the nineteenth
century must have caused a great deal more work than the present way
of doing these things”, I remarked. “And Dr. Leete said: There is no
housework to be done”[23].

    [23] Page 118.

“This is one of the many wild statements of Dr. Leete”, Mr. Forest
answered. “Who is sweeping the rooms, making the beds, cleaning the
windows, dusting the furniture, scrubbing the floors? I have no
doubt that Dr. Leete’s family is an exception, because women of the
industrial army do a great deal, if not all, this work in the house of
the leader of the administration party. Have you ever seen Mrs. Leete
or Miss Edith doing any housework of the kind I have mentioned”?

I had to confess that I never had, and, indeed, Miss Edith had never
done anything except arrange a bunch of flowers. If she were a member
of the industrial army, it must be in a capacity, where there was but
very little work to do. She had never mentioned that she had duties
to perform, and I remembered that Dr. Leete had once spoken of his
daughter as an indefatigable shopper[24], thus indicating that she had
much spare time.

    [24] Page 99.

“In the houses occupied by the rank and file of our industrial army
the women have no help from other members of the auxiliary corps (the
women of the industrial army). These women have to do all the work I
have mentioned, and for them the cooking in the public eating houses is
not such a great help as Dr. Leete seems to believe”, began Mr. Forest.
“These women have to change their dresses three times a day, for they
cannot appear at the table in the wrapper they wear while working at
home, and they have to wash and dress their children, if they have any.
And I am inclined to believe that by having the cooking done in the
public eating houses, a great deal of material is squandered that would
be saved in a private house. Besides, the public cooking houses have to
prepare a large bill of fare, and there is, as a matter of course, a
great deal left over that can not be used afterwards.--Therefore, the
women who are members of the industrial army find actually very little
time to do any work besides the labor connected with housekeeping, and
the majority of them would rather do the cooking at home. They could do
it while busy with their housework, without losing more time than the
dressing and undressing for breakfast, dinner and supper consume. And
the complaint has frequently been made that families with many children
would fare much better, and the mothers of such families save much time
if the cooking were done at home. When there is sickness in the family,
it is very annoying to the healthy members to be obliged to go to the
eating houses to procure proper food for the invalid. A Mrs. Hosmer
said to me the other day, she and her seven children had frequently
missed a meal, because she could not wash all her little ones and dress
herself and the children in time”.

“How do you employ the married women”? I asked.

“This is a very weak point in our social system”, Mr. Forest replied.
“Most of the married women do not at all relish doing outside work, and
they make all kinds of excuses to avoid it. Trouble with their children
and personal indisposition are frequently used as excuses for the
absence of married women from their positions in the industrial army”.

“I suppose it is very difficult, even for the physicians, to ascertain
whether such statements are well founded or not”, I remarked.

“Of course, in the majority of cases it is impossible to make the
charge of shamming and prove it”, Mr. Forest continued. “It is this
trouble with the married women, and their excuses that their small
children prevent them doing any duty in the industrial army, that
the radical Communists are using in support of their demand for the
abolition of private housekeeping. The Radicals claim that their
system would be more prosperous than ours. It would be much cheaper to
lodge hundreds or thousands under one roof, than to have houses for
one, two or three families. They furthermore claim that if marriages
were abolished and free love introduced as the principle governing
the relations of the two sexes, the passing alliances of men and
women would produce better children than the offspring of the present
marriages. These children would be kept and nursed, after they had
passed their first year, in large nurseries, so that the mothers would
have nothing to do with them and could attend all day to their work as
members of the industrial army”.

“How beastly are these theories”! I exclaimed. “To establish all
human institutions, the relations of the sexes, simply on a basis of
calculation, and to separate the mothers from their children, because
it is cheaper to raise two hundred mammifers by the bulk even if the
mortality should be ten and twenty percent larger”!

“But the Radicals are the logical Communists”, Mr. Forest said. “The
fundamental principle of communism is equality. You can base the demand
for the equal division of the products of labor on that principle of
equality only, and if we are all equal, then there is no reason why we
should live in houses of different architecture, why we should wear
different clothing, why we should have a variety of meals, why one man
should not have just as good a right to the love of a certain girl as
any and all other men, and why one girl should not have just as fair a
claim to the love of any man she may select as any other girl has. And
there is no reason, why one baby should have more care than another and
why one mother should spend more time on her child than another, thus
perhaps losing time that would have enabled her to make herself useful
by peeling a plate of potatoes. The Radicals are the only Communists”.

“But every girl can not love all the men, and every man can not very
well love all the girls”, I objected, somewhat amused by the grim humor
displayed by Mr. Forest, although my deep disgust for the abominable
brutality preached by the Radicals, prevented real merriment.

“Our radical reformers have never been able to explain to my entire
satisfaction how the principle of free love should be regulated, if
regulated at all”, Mr. Forest answered. “Some of them seem disposed
to grant permission to live together, so long as both parties like
each other. But the more radical and logical communists object to
the stability of an institution as incongruous with the spirit of
institutions based on the principle of absolute equality. Perhaps they
favor the choosing of a new partner every day, and in order to place
both sexes on equal footing they would give the right of choice to the
women on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to the men on the other
three week-days, leaving the Sundays in addition to the ladies. And to
avoid strife, when a number of reformers demand the love of the same
girl, or when more girls than one fall in love with the same man,
they could draw lots or could raffle for the first chance, thus doing
justice to all”[25].

    [25] The well known naturalist, Professor Karl Vogt in Germany,
         famous by his nickname “Monkey-Vogt,” is a radical
         philosopher, who gained this sobriquet as an advocate of
         the theory of evolution, claiming Monkeys to have the same
         progenitors as man. But even Vogt’s radicalism revolted
         against the doctrines set forth by Russian, French and
         German nihilists and anarchists; during a “convention”
         held in Switzerland, Karl Vogt dedicated the following
         lines to them:

             “Wir wollen in der Sonn’ spazieren,
             Wir wollen uns mit Fett beschmieren
             Und ausgelöscht sei Mein und Dein.
             Wir wollen uns mit Schnapps berauschen,
             Wir wollen uns’re Weiber tauschen,
             Wir wollen freie Männer sein!”

         A free translation of which reads:

             We will walk in the sun, boys, with ease,
             We will cover our bodies with grease,
             For poverty there is no need.
             We’ll all get as drunk as a loon,
             We’ll swap our wives every noon,
             And thus be _true_ freemen indeed.

“It is inconceivable”, I said, “that men, proudly considering
themselves the crown of creation, or if they do not believe in God,
at least considering themselves intellectual free-thinkers, can breed
in their brains such horrid theories. I should deplore the fate of
womanhood if these theories should ever become victorious, if free love
in this damnable form should ever be proclaimed; or if the nursing
and education of children should be taken away from the mothers and
entrusted to others”.

“I should consider it the most terrible blow ever aimed at humanity
if the nursing and the first education of the young children should
be transferred from their mothers to other persons. No women or
men, however good and noble they may be, can feel the love and the
patience for a child that fills a mother’s heart. The ties that bind
women and men together, marriage and the family, are institutions
which even our communistic Solons have so far respected. Humanity is
doomed to barbarism on the day family life is broken up, when mothers
are separated from their children, when men are alienated from the
constantly elevating influence of good women, when the relations of men
and women are stripped of that sublimity conferred upon matrimonial
life by the permanent exchange of feelings and thoughts, when these
relations are degraded to nothing but sexual intercourse. Nearly all
our good qualities can be traced back to the influence the unfathomable
love and patience of the mother, in her efforts to make her beloved
child good and true, have exercised upon our minds and hearts. Nearly
all great men had good mothers. There is nothing on earth that could
compensate a child for the loss of its mother, or that could indemnify
humanity for the loss of the beneficial influence mothers have on the
growing generation”.

“Do you suppose that your Radicals will ever have power enough to
dethrone the mothers and to abolish matrimonial life”? I asked, with
great curiosity.

Mr. Forest’s reply to this question sounded very cheerful and
confident, more so than anything he had thus far uttered in my
presence.

“The Radicals may rise and overthrow the present government, they
may change many things”, he said, “and they may not meet with much
resistance, because the great mass of the people simply tolerate the
present rule, have no love for it, and will not rally to its defense.
But the experience of our Radicals will be very unpleasant if they
attempt to separate man and wife, mother and child. Almost every mother
will fight like a lioness before she will give up her children, and I
know one man who does not care a straw for the overthrow of the present
government, but who would fight to his death before he would yield to
a separation from his spouse. For a good and loving wife always has
been, is, and always will be the greatest blessing of God, and no man
of honor and courage will permit anybody to rob him of her”!



CHAPTER VI.


“Now, Mr. Forest”, I said when I again met my predecessor as professor
of the history of the nineteenth century, “please tell me how much is
the average yearly income of every inhabitant of the United States of
America”?

“The average yearly income was figured up to be $204.”, Mr. Forest
answered.

“Two hundred and four dollars you say. Is that all”? I queried with
astonishment. “I expected from the statements of Dr. Leete and his
style of living that it amounted to at least three times that sum”.

Forest smiled. “How much was the average income of the people of the
United States in your days”? he asked.

I was forced to admit that I had not the faintest idea.

“It was $165.”, said Mr. Forest, “or about twice the average amount
earned by the people of Germany or France”.

I was perplexed. I had never looked into the statistics of national
economy. I had spent about twenty times $165. every year. I remembered
having read in the papers of my time that the average yearly earnings
of the working men, working women and children were over four hundred
dollars, and I was inclined to estimate the average yearly income at
about six hundred dollars. I stated this to Mr. Forest.

“You have left out of your calculation the women and children who
were not earning anything, but who depended upon the income of their
husbands, fathers and brothers”, Mr. Forest explained. “An income of
two hundred and four dollars for every man, woman and child would,
therefore, represent a large increase, if the figures were fairly
given. But they are not correct. In order to make the income of the
nation appear greater than it really is, the value of the various
productions is quoted higher than in your days. Consequently the
purchasing power of every dollar on our credit-cards is less than that
of the dollar of your time. I have carefully compared the prices of
all the necessities and commodities as they are now and as they were
in your time, and I have found an increase of about 95 percent. The
real average yearly income of all the people of our country is about
one hundred and twelve dollars, so there is not an increase of about 24
percent, but a decrease of about 33 percent”.

“How do you account for this remarkable statement”? I inquired.

“That is a question easier asked than answered”, replied Mr. Forest.

“I am very curious to hear your explanation”, I remarked. “Dr. Leete
has given me so many plausible reasons for the “poverty resulting from
our extraordinary industrial system”[26] that I was quite convinced
of the greater wealth of your people. He mentioned the frequent wrong
speculations of the nineteenth century, the insane competition, the
periodical overproductions and consequent crises, the waste from idle
capital and labor[27], and he especially dwelt upon the point that
four or five enterprises of the nineteenth century failed where one
succeeded”[28].

    [26] Page 42.

    [27] Page 229 & 230.

    [28] Page 230.

“Yes, I know Dr. Leete’s arguments from occasional speeches he has
made, and from articles he has written for the administration organs”,
Mr. Forest responded. “And he has undoubtedly mentioned many other
causes that crippled the production of your days. He has, or he may
have, pointed to the expenditures for your army and navy, to your
custom and revenue officials, to the tax-assessors and collectors you
employed, to the larger number of judges, sheriffs and other officers
you needed, to the greater amount of labor made necessary by domestic
washing and cooking, to the large number of middlemen needed in
handling goods before the articles made their way from the factory to
the retail store, the latter corresponding to our storehouses. And Dr.
Leete has or may have, mentioned the lawyers, bankers and their clerks
who were nominally engaged in work that was really not done, and which
has all been done away with to-day”.

“Indeed”, I said, “Dr. Leete has enumerated most of these causes of
the poverty of our days, and, since these evils have been abolished
under your system of production, I think it would be simply a matter
of course that the total yearly income of your people should have
increased, and I wonder that the increase is not even greater than you
have stated it to be”.

“I will not waste much time in investigating all these points and
ascertaining how great was the loss thus inflicted on the production
of the nineteenth century”, Mr. Forest continued. “But you seem to
be inclined to overestimate their effects. Unlucky speculations, for
instance, caused sometimes heavy losses to the speculator, but in most
cases they produced values that benefitted others and increased the
wealth of the nation. The “insane competition” made goods cheaper,
thereby stimulating both production and consumption and not harming,
but on the contrary to a certain extent benefitting humanity. The
statement that four or five enterprises failed where one succeeded is
a “licentia poetica” of which Dr. Leete makes free use. You must know
yourself that it is a gross exaggeration.

“The saving from the employment of steam-cooking we have already
investigated. If there is any, it is small in the cities and smaller
still in the country districts, and offers no compensation for the loss
of comfort involved. Furthermore we take into consideration that many
of the men engaged as judges, lawyers, bankers, officers, middlemen,
or clerks were over forty-five years or under twenty-one, so that you
would have to deduct them from the force that you have to consider as a
loss to the industrial army”.

“Still, these misplacements of capital and labor, these losses in
various ways were enormous”, I insisted, “and they account for the
greater poverty of the people of the nineteenth century, compared with
the inhabitants of the United States in the year 2000”.

“They would, undoubtedly”, Mr. Forest argued, “if there were no other
reasons for a _decrease_ of our production. But there are causes as you
will readily see, when I point them out. The principle reason why both
the quantity and the quality of our production are constantly abating,
is the _abolishment of competition_. Competition was the gigantic
motor that caused nearly everybody during the first nineteen centuries
of Christian civilization to use all his mental and physical powers
to “get ahead”. Since the introduction of communism, since the good
workmen are robbed of a part of the products of their labor for the
benefit of the poor workers, and since everybody is sure of an equal
share of all the necessities and commodities of life, no matter how
much or how little he produces, the masses of the people are becoming
more and more indifferent. They are not putting forth their best
efforts to furnish much and good work. They are taking life easy. Their
mental and physical ability has decreased. The people of the United
States, once famous for their energy, are degenerating. Promotion might
have acted as a spur, had not favoritism of the politicians monopolized
all good positions for the tools of the administration”.

“The second reason for the decrease of production is the shortening of
both the years and the hours of work. It is difficult to ascertain how
many persons of different ages were employed in your time in productive
labor. The census of the United States government taken before you went
to sleep for one hundred and thirteen years, the census of 1880 is in
many respects a very creditable work but it does not give the ages of
the persons who then formed the industrial army. The report is very
elaborate as to the number of persons of all ages, their nationality,
and so forth. But in regard to the age of the workers it only gives
three classes, one comprising all the persons under 15 years of age,
another, all persons between 16 and 59, and the third, the number of
employees of 60 years and over. Of the people under 15 years of age
1,118,356 were employed, of the men and women over 60 years 933,644
were males and 70,873 females. The whole industrial army of your day
numbered, out of an entire population of 50,155,783, not less than
17,392,099, only 2,647,157 being girls and women, including the servant
girls”.

“I remember reading some of these figures”, I remarked.

“The census of 1880 thus shows that over 12 percent of the population
of the United States belonging to the industrial army were under 15
and over 60 years of age”, Mr. Forest continued. “This is, of course,
a very bad showing. Girls and boys under 15 years of age should
certainly belong to the schools, while people over 50 years ought to
have permanent rest and a good living. But there can be no doubt that
the working-force at the close of the last century was comparatively
larger than ours. According to the census of 1880, there lived in
the United States 15,527,215 persons of the age, that would make
them to-day members of our industrial army. You employed, therefore,
2,173,184 more persons than your whole population between the ages of
21 to 45 numbered, and this calculation figures, that all the people
of that age are really active. You must consider the fact, that many
of our population who are of the age, when they ought to do work in
the industrial army, are excused from service for various reasons,
for instance: permanently sick people, the weak-minded, cripples,
mothers of babies, etc. You must, therefore, recognize that your people
furnished a much stronger working-force than does our generation.”

“I guess we did”, I admitted, convinced by the figures quoted by Mr.
Forest.

Drawing a piece of paper from his note book the gentleman continued:
“Here is a list of all the avocations you may call unproductive,
taken from the census of 1880. I have given every point, which seems
contrary to my views, the benefit of the doubt. I have embraced all the
trades, professions and occupations Dr. Leete himself could fairly
claim as nonproductive in this compilation, though a good many of the
people engaged in them were, at least, saving time for members of the
producing classes. Many men and women of your time would not have
been able to produce pictures and works of art, or to sing in operas
and so forth, if it had been impossible for them to secure help in
housekeeping. Now, in your day, the year of our Lord 1880, the people
engaged in the occupations, trades and professions that Dr. Leete would
call nonproductive, numbered 1,654,319 including all the servants.
Deducting these 1,654,319 from the 2,173,084 persons under the age of
15 and over 60, there still would be a surplus of 518,765 women and men
of your time over the number of people, that would belong in our days
to the industrial force”.

“Your figures are correct, as far as you state them”, I said, desirous
to encourage Mr. Forest to proceed with his argument.

“So you had, undoubtedly, in 1880 a surplus of productive persons above
the age that would place them in our industrial army, which amounted
to over one percent of the population, and to over three percent of
persons at the age where they, to-day, would have to be members of the
industrial army, even if we deduct all the persons from the working
force whom a man like Dr. Leete would classify as nonproductive.
Now, deduct, furthermore, all our ladies occupied by their duties as
mothers, before and after the birth of their children, deduct all the
persons permanently sick, all the cripples and all the other people
unable to do productive work, and you will have to admit that you had
in your days a comparatively much larger force engaged in productive
labor than we have. Consider, that these people were stimulated
by competition, that they desired to establish themselves on an
independent basis, that they put forth their best efforts, in order to
secure a life free from care during their old age, and that, therefore,
the years of productive labor of each individual were much longer than
they are at present, and that the stimulus to succeed was a potent fact
in obtaining more and better work than we can secure nowadays.

“That I will admit”, I answered.

“And the working hours to-day are much shorter than they were at the
end of the nineteenth century”, proceeded Mr. Forest with an expression
on his face like that of a victor in a gladiatorial fight. “The natural
tendency of an organization of society like ours is in that direction.
And there are many reasons to encourage such a tendency. I have
mentioned already that the farmers are complaining of the small number
of theaters and concert halls and other amusements and advantages for
country people, which city people enjoy to the full. The consequence
of this is, that the country people flock to the cities. The nation
would have suffered from a want of agricultural products if all the
people crowding into the large cities had been accepted. But they were
not welcomed. They were appointed to farm work. That settled their
desire to live in the cities, and at the same time destroyed their
ambition. The country people are satisfied that they cannot improve
their lot, that they have to do farm work and that the city people are
imposing upon them. The consequence is that they are working as little
as possible, and the farming products have decreased to such an extent
that we have to appoint city workmen of class B of the third grade to
farm work, in order to protect the city people from starvation”.

“Say your worst”, I remarked with a forced smile, for I saw Dr. Leete’s
beautiful structure crumbling under the fire of Mr. Forest’s artillery
of logic.

“You have seen”, Mr. Forest continued, “that the industrial army of
1880, engaged in productive labor, was, in proportion, much larger
than ours, that the members were stimulated by competition to use
their best mental and physical efforts to ‘get ahead’, and that they
worked longer hours than we do. You must, furthermore, consider that
we squander a greater amount of labor in overseeing and bookkeeping
than you ever did. Most of your retail business was transacted on the
cash basis, and the small tradespeople did their own bookkeeping after
closing their stores and shops. We, on the other hand, have an account
for every man, woman and child in the country in the books of the
national administration[29]. We have a bureau which keeps an account
of the visits of all the physicians[30]. We have another bureau where
you can secure help for housework as well as for other purposes, where
accounts are kept, both of the helpers and of the people who demand
help.[31] We have bureaus for each industry and they are excellent
examples of the most thorough manner in which a government can waste
human labor. The entire field of productive and constructive industry
is, as you know, divided into ten great departments, each representing
a group of allied industries, each particular industry being in turn
represented by a subordinate bureau, which has a complete record of the
plant and force under its control, as well as of the present product
and the means of increasing it. The estimates of consumption of the
distribution department (an organization independent of the great
productive departments) after adoption by the administration, are
sent as mandates to the ten great departments which allot them to the
subordinate bureaus representing the particular industries, and these
set the men to work. Each bureau is responsible for the task given it,
and the responsibility is enforced by departmental supervision and that
of the administration; nor does the distribution department accept the
products without its own inspection, while, even if in the hands of the
consumer, an article turns out unfit, the system enables the fault to
be traced back to the original workman”.[32]

    [29] Page 87.

    [30] Page 122.

    [31] Page 120.

    [32] Pages 182, 183.

“This amount of overseeing and bookkeeping, by which the government can
trace back to the original workman a bad pin or a poorly rolled cigar,
enables the administration to provide for its favorites many desirable
places, but it certainly lessens the productive power of the industrial
force, thus, again, decreasing the production. And at the same time the
number of consumers is larger than in your days”.

“How do you account for this?” I inquired.

“Has not Dr. Leete informed you that persons of average constitution
usually live to be from eighty-five to ninety years old?”[33]

    [33] Page 197.

“Indeed, he has”.

“This accounts for an increased number of consumers who all draw their
full share of the products of labor in the form of a credit card”, Mr.
Forest continued. “Our people live longer than your contemporaries
did. They take life easy, and while the spirit, the energy and the
enterprise of our generation are gradually decreasing and degenerating,
their bodies last longer”.

“Ah! now at last you are admitting one gain”, I exclaimed.

“If it is a gain, I do”, rejoined Mr. Forest. “But even the favored
members of our industrial army do not seem to consider it a very
valuable acquisition. Because the only way to secure a desirable
position is to sacrifice their own independence and that of their
relatives and friends, and even to employ base means of corruption,
downright bribery of their superiors with a part of their own credit
cards, many of the favorites of the administration are, in fact,
enemies of the leaders”.

After a short pause Mr. Forest concluded his arguments. “I suppose I
have successfully demonstrated that our organization of society, with
its pretended basis of human equality has proved to be a failure, that
there prevails to-day an inequality in many respects more oppressive
than that of your time, that favoritism and corruption are about as
potent under our communistic rule as they were at the end of the
nineteenth century, that personal liberty is almost entirely destroyed,
that the members of the industrial army, without having the right to
vote at the election of their superiors, are at the mercy of their
officers, that the members of the industrial force who are considered
enemies of the government are leading a life that very properly may
be styled as twenty-four years of hell on earth, that since the
abolishment of competition the people are mentally degenerating for
want of intellectual exercise, and that not even a greater wealth is
a consolation for the loss of the greater liberty and independence
the people enjoyed in your time. The shortening of both the years and
the hours of productive labor, the abolition of competition and the
increase in the number of consumers have reduced the average daily
income of the inhabitants of the United States to such an extent that
the amount inscribed upon our credit card is so small, that it affords
only a very frugal living to the people of the twentieth century. And
there is no doubt in my mind that a continuation of the present system
for a few hundred years more would so degrade and degenerate the people
that a relapse into barbarism would ensue”.



CHAPTER VII.


“You have given me your ideas and objections in regard to the
present state of affairs”, I commenced my next conversation with
Mr. Forest, “you have expressed, occasionally, your conviction that
the organization of society at the end of the last century needed
reformation. Will you, now, kindly state how you would have reformed
the evils of my time?”

Mr. Forest smiled. “I do not pretend to be a reformer who can perfect
mankind or even all human institutions. Please do not forget that we
are all cooking with water. What many people style the social question
is insolvable. The variety established by nature will always be felt.
You can never create conformity. We will always have smart and stupid,
industrious and lazy people. The clever women and men will not submit
to an equal distribution of the product of labor, nor feel satisfied
under such a state of legal robbery. And if the results of labor are
distributed according to the ability of the workers the people earning
less than others will always grumble. It is, therefore, impossible to
make all men content with their lot, no matter how you may distribute
the earnings of the working force. But the fact that it is impossible
to make everybody absolutely happy does not release us from the
obligation to use our best efforts toward improving the lot of mankind”.

“I understand your position. But let me hear what reforms you would
have inaugurated or proposed, if you had lived at the close of the last
century”.

“The society of your day suffered chiefly”, said Mr. Forest, “from
unsystematized production, the monopolies that made possible the
amassing of immense fortunes at the expense of the people, and the want
of intelligence on the part of the workers who would either submit
to these extortions or strike, instead of forming mutual producing
associations. Another great evil was the injustice of your taxation. In
all the fields of human activity the workers produced values without
a clear knowledge of what was really required. There was, generally,
such a surplus of the products of farming that the farmers had to
sell everything so cheap that they could hardly earn a living. Some
factories worked day and night until the markets were overstocked with
goods. Then these goods were sold at any price obtainable, sometimes
below cost. Numerous bankruptcies followed, the factories had to stop
their work, and the manufacturers as well as the working women and men
had to suffer from a term of idleness until the surplus of goods was
exhausted. Then a feverish activity commenced again”.

“How would you have remedied this evil?” I asked.

“A national bureau of statistics should have ascertained both the
average yearly consumption and the capacity of the different trades
and their plants for the production of the necessities of life”.

“Should the government have given to each trade an order for the work
to be done during the year?” I queried, “and how should the trades have
divided such an order among the members so that all would be satisfied?”

“The National Government should simply have ascertained the amount of
the yearly consumption of the various articles, the capacity of the
respective trades for furnishing such articles, and should then have
left the regulation of production to the members of each trade. Such
an arrangement would have given each trade a clear idea of its task.
The chosen representatives of each trade could have subdivided the
work. A heavy overproduction would easily have been prevented, while
competition both among the factories and the individual members would
have been maintained, thus securing the best kind of work, while under
the present system of production we are suffering from a want both of
quantity and quality”.

“But if any trade should have produced more goods than needed”, I
objected.

“That would have been its own fault, and it would, as a matter of
course, have had to stand the consequences”, Mr. Forest replied.

“But, suppose, the members of a certain trade had formed a trust,
thereby forcing the people to pay exorbitant prices for the products of
their guilds?” I objected again.

“A national law should have protected the people against an attempted
robbery of this kind, threatening all guilty parties with confiscation
of all their property and with the operation of all the plants by
men hired by the administration, until the plants could be sold to
operators. The importation of the respective goods from other countries
would cover the deficiency until all the plants were again in full
operation”.

“But how would you have stopped the frequent strikes of our days?” I
asked.

“By encouraging the workman to start mutual producing associations”,
Mr. Forest answered. “I have mentioned already how mutual producing
associations could easily have been started. A dozen tailors or
shoemakers could have rented lofts with steam power, purchased a few
sewing and other machines and sold their products directly to other
workmen, thus securing the profits of the manufacturer, wholesaler,
retailer and workman, or in other words all the profit that was in
the labor of the members of the association. There was no law in your
time to forbid such enterprises or to prevent all other workmen from
buying their boots, shoes, clothing, furniture and all other articles
from such associations solely. As soon as the manufacturers noticed
that all the laborers were commencing to deal with mutual associations
they would gladly have sold their plants at a very fair price, and yet
cheaper than a new association could have procured them. I imagine
there was very little pleasure in conducting a factory or any other
business having many employees in 1887, judging from the frequent
strikes that made it almost impossible for many business men to figure
on prices six months ahead, or to close contracts. Therefore, the
owners of factories would, I fancy, have sold their plants at very fair
prices. And the workmen could not have done a smarter thing than to
cause the former manufacturers to remain with them as business managers
at a fair salary. This would have secured a smooth running of the
concern. Under such an arrangement the workers would have become the
owners of the business concerns, paying for them in installments, they
would have secured full pay for their work, and the former owner would
have disposed of all his former cares, receiving a fair compensation
for his plant and his services”.

“I think that most of the manufacturers and businessmen of my days were
so worried by the constantly increased demands of their employees, that
they would have gladly sold their property”, I remarked, “but what
would have become of the wholesale and retail dealers?”

“They could have sold their goods and have either joined the producing
associations as salesmen or gone into another business”, Mr. Forest
replied. “And in a similar way the workmen of your time could have
organized one trade after another, until the entire manufacturing
industry had been based on large guilds, the latter consisting mostly
of mutual producing societies”.

“But our workmen preferred to avoid the responsibility, care and risk
of business enterprises. They would rather have worked for wages
and, occasionally tried to increase them, sometimes by striking and
preventing other laborers taking the places of the strikers”, I said.
“You are aware of this state of affairs?”

“Yes”, Forest answered, “and it must have been a sad spectacle to see
intelligent men who could just as well have been independent, remain
journeymen, trying to bulldoze their employer to pay them more than he
volunteered, and to intimidate other workers from performing duties
at a rate of wages that would have satisfied them. The fact that your
workingmen did not possess sufficient enterprise, mental discipline
and independence, to establish mutual producing associations, has
driven humanity into communism. That this damnable form of society
is a failure is a matter of course. When humanity was at so low a
standard that shoemakers had not spunk or smartness enough to start
and run the shoeshops on a co-operative basis, and tailors could not
manage tailorshops on a similar plan, it was simply impossible to
make successful an organization which had the power to regulate all
production and all consumption. But the principle of mutual productive
associations is, in my opinion, the one best adapted for the solution
of the labor question, because it secures for the members of the
associations the pay for the full real value of their labor and keeps
alive competition, the strongest factor in securing the progress of
mankind. But whether we shall ever reach this solution of the labor
question seems doubtful”.

“I am inclined to believe in your plan”, I admitted, “so far as
laborers engaged in manufacturing establishments are concerned. But
how would you have organized the work on the farms, the employment
of professional man, railroad officials and laborers, employees on
streetcars, merchants and bankers and their clerks and those who follow
many other avocations?”

“Let us go slowly”, Mr. Forest answered with a smile. “Let us first
look into the agrarian question. Reformers of society have always
met the greatest difficulty when they came across the farmers. Under
communistic rule the country people have but very little love for the
soil they are tilling because they know it is not theirs, that their
toiling does not benefit them, and they feel that the city people are
favored at their expense. If I had been asked at the end of the last
century how I would treat the land question I would have advocated a
law ordaining that no farmer should have more than forty acres of land.
If any farmer had more at the time of the passing of the bill he could
keep it during his lifetime, but he would be compelled to dispose of it
in his last will, so that a single person should not receive more than
forty acres. On a forty acre piece a farmer can make a fair living,
and although the farmers were by no means prosperous in your days, yet
there was still a fair prospect for the increase of the value of land
by reason of the increase of the population, augmented as it was by
immigration”.

“But how would you have proposed to stop overproduction by the farming
population through which the agricultural interests were suffering in
1887?” I inquired.

“The National Bureau of Statistics would have served the farmers just
as well as the rest of the people. The farmers should have formed
state associations and should have laid out plans for the production
according to the capacity of the farms. And, after ascertaining that
their capacity of production was far ahead of consumption, they should
have used the surplus of land for the production of new things that
could, perhaps, find a market, or they could have saved their labor by
not producing more goods than they could sell in supplying the real
demands of the market, thus working less.”

“Under your plan every person would not have had a right to land”, I
remarked.

“Yes, everybody would, who could pay the price the owner demanded for
it”, Mr. Forest said. “Not everybody can own a farm. Did you own one?”

“I did not”.

“Very well. Under your communistic system nobody owns a piece of ground
large enough to put a stick into”.

“How would you have regulated the professional services?”

“By passing laws establishing rates to be charged for professional
services. And the laws I would have simplified by doing away with the
abominable confusion resulting from the innumerable decisions forming
precedents. For a long time I did not believe it until I found positive
statements to the effect that a trading nation like the Americans, at
the end of the nineteenth century, had neither a national criminal law,
nor a national commerce law. This fact and the confusion caused by the
conflicting precedent decisions that could always be quoted by either
of the contesting lawyers in a suit must have made the United States,
in your days, a paradise for swindlers and for lawyers who cared not so
much for the upholding of the law, as for a retainer”.

“Such were the charges frequently made against the law and lawyers in
my days”, I said. “But now tell me what you would have done with the
railroad and telegraph employees, with--”

“Let us stop right here”, Mr. Forest interrupted. “I would have
purchased all the railroads and all the telegraph lines of the country
at a fair price. I would have issued United States bonds to pay for
them. I would have used the income of the roads and lines to pay
running expenses and the interest on the bonds issued, and the surplus
in the United States treasury I would have applied to paying off the
bonds”.

“But would not this proposition of yours, if carried into effect, have
brought about the same horrors you declare the concentration of power
in the hands of the administration has brought down on humanity of the
twentieth century?” I asked.

“No. For that the officers would not be numerous enough”, Mr. Forest
replied; “and I remember distinctly, that in your days civil service
reform had been instituted, to a certain extent, in the appointment
of federal officers. I have read conflicting opinions about it. Some
writers claimed a frequent change of the officers to be a fundamental
principle of republican institutions. Others ridiculed this notion.
Every man of common sense would keep a man who knew and performed the
duties of his position well. And the nation should simply do the same
regardless of the party affiliations of the employee, thus securing
a good public service. I remember that letter carriers and other
employees of the postoffice department could not be removed without
cause. Now, if this principle had been applied to all the clerical and
subordinate officers, if all the railroad and telegraph officials,
when the nation took charge of these institutions, had been retained
at the salaries they were receiving at that time, so long as they did
their work well, then there would have been no trouble. Uncle Sam would
have paid just as much, if not more, than the former corporations did,
and by retaining the whole force he could have united the railroad
and telegraph lines with the postal service after the fashion already
prevailing, at that time, in Germany”.

“That theory sounds very plausible, certainly”.

“It is very remarkable that such a smart and energetic people,
_trading_ as much as our forefathers did, should have allowed the
principal means of commerce, the railroad and telegraph lines, to be in
the hands of private corporations which, as a matter of course, managed
them simply with a view of paying as large dividends as possible to
the shareholders,--sometimes for “a wheel within a wheel”, for members
of the inner circle. In the historical works of your time I frequently
note expressions of astonishment and wrath because knights, during the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Europe, stopped merchants passing
the roads below their castles, and demanded a part of the travellers’
goods as a toll, or the payment of a certain sum of money for which
they agreed either to let the merchants travel in peace or to furnish
them with protection for the rest of their journey. These knights had
to risk their lives when they undertook to collect a toll from the
merchants, for the latter not unfrequently showed fight; they knew how
to handle a lance or a sword and they had their goods protected by
armed men. More than one of the enterprising, toll-levying knights died
on the highway, where he had tried to attach a share of the merchant’s
earnings. But the gentlemen controlling the highways of traffic at the
end of the last century could levy new tolls, whenever they pleased.
All they had to do was to sit down in Delmonico’s or some other good
restaurant, and over a few bottles of champagne resolve to do so. There
was no danger connected with this business of toll levying in your
days, Mr. West, except the danger of a headache when the champagne
happened to be poor. It was a very remarkable state of affairs, and
it is a striking proof of the general fairness and good nature of the
railroad magnates of 1887 that they treated the people as well as they
did. Still, it was a ridiculous spectacle to see the principal highways
of such a business people controlled by private corporations that
virtually did precisely what they pleased”.

“The gas works, street railways and waterworks of cities you would have
had managed by the city authorities, I suppose?” I said.

“Indeed, that is what I would have done”, Mr. Forest replied. “But I
would first have extended the power of the national administration over
all the forest and mining lands then in the possession of the United
States. If the national government had taken care of the remnants of
the immense forests that once covered the larger part of this vast
territory, we would not at present suffer from a lack of timber”.

“What would you have done with the bankers and merchants?”

“Nothing”, Mr. Forest answered. “The different mutual productive
associations would have needed men to manage such business affairs
as were outside the management of the factory, attended to by the
former manufacturer. For the workmen would soon have found out that it
required more than the manual labor of the toilers to build up and run
a large business establishment. And the owners of grocery stores would,
if similar establishments had been started by consuming societies, have
sold their stock on hand and secured places as managers or clerks of
the new stores”.

“I suppose that under the system proposed by you all the old-fashioned
stores would have been forced to close out”, I said, “because the
different guilds would have purchased goods at wholesale and would have
sold them to their members at a low cash price. The storekeepers that
were not able to secure positions in the stores of the different guilds
would have been forced to look out for some other employment;--a rather
hard lot for many of them”.

“The change in the mode of production would not have been sudden”, Mr.
Forest explained, “but would have been brought about gradually, thus
giving the business people, perhaps thirty years time to let their
children join guilds instead of becoming storekeepers and traders. And
there is no reason why enterprising merchants who had a fine taste in
selecting goods, should not have retained a large number of customers.
It is not cheapness alone that attracts buyers, and in the country,
where there were no factories, etc., close at hand, stores would have
to be kept”.

“You said you would have passed laws preventing farmers owning more
than forty acres of land”, I said, “Would you have also limited the
amount of city property to be owned by any one man?”

“The possession of one house ought to have satisfied every fair-minded
man”, Mr. Forest continued. “Nobody can deny that the accumulation of
fortunes amounting to many millions in the hands of a few people,
while hundreds of thousands could earn hardly more than a living, was a
state of affairs which made this damnable communism possible”.

“But how would you have been able to prevent this?” I queried with some
curiosity.

“By making the taxation of inherited property the principal assessment
for the maintenance of the national, state and local governments as
well as of the schools. I would have proposed a tax of one percent on
all property inherited by a single person, amounting upward to $10,000.
An inheritance amounting to $20,000 I would have taxed two percent,
$30,000 three percent, $100,000 ten percent, $200,000 twenty percent,
$500,000 fifty percent. If anybody left a fortune yielding a larger sum
than $250,000 to each heir, the surplus should have been considered
as an income to humanity, the national, state and local governments
sharing therein in a just proportion”.

“Would not such a law have acted as a check upon the ambition and the
enterprise of the people?” I asked.

“If it had prevented people amassing immense fortunes it would have
served a good purpose. It would not have lessened but protected
competition”, Mr. Forest answered. “Men possessing twenty or fifty
millions of dollars and using them without regard for the rights
of other people, were very dangerous. They were in a position to
annihilate their competitors, and they frequently used their power
unmercifully. Thus by increasing their millions and by killing
competition they were paving the way for communism. And was it not
unfair that a man who had amassed by all manner of means such an
enormous fortune could leave it to a son who would continue the work of
killing competitors with smaller means? What could the most able man
accomplish in an avocation, if he had against him a man who possessed,
perhaps, very little ability, but who was unscrupulously using his
millions to attain his ends? Parents might leave their children enough
to place their dear ones beyond the reach of want but they should not
enable them to prevent the children of poorer parents having a fair
show to get ahead in life”.

“You would have met with considerable resistance to such a proposition
in my days”, I remarked.

“I fancy the millionaires would have objected”, Mr. Forest assented.
“Still, I think that such a law would have served the best interest
of both the children of rich parents and humanity in general. Nothing
but a law of this kind could have stemmed the tide of communism and
anarchy. A child inheriting $250,000 ought to be satisfied with his lot
and ought to let the surplus go to the defraying of the expenses of the
government. By sacrificing a part of their enormous fortunes, the heirs
would have saved the rest, and would have weakened the communistic
tendency of your days. And it appears more than doubtful to me whether
the possession of such enormous properties made these wealthy people
good, or even happy and contented”.

“If such a law had been passed in 1887 most of the millionaires would
have converted their property into cash and emigrated to Europe”, I
objected.

“I suppose they would have done so”, Mr. Forest admitted. “But I am,
nevertheless, convinced that a law of this kind would not only have
been just but that it would have done a great deal to save humanity
from communism. Civilized countries would have been obliged to pass a
similar law at the same time”.

“The temptation to avoid the consequences of the statute would have
been very great”, I remarked. “Many people would have tried to evade
the tax by declaring to the authorities a smaller amount of property
than they really owned, or by presenting during their life time, a part
of their fortune to their children”.

“Any attempt at fraud should have been punished by a confiscation
of all the property”, said Mr. Forest. “And as for gifts they could
have been taxed at the same rate as inheritances from one percent up
to fifty.--But such a law would have been necessary only during the
first fifty or sixty years of a new order of things. As soon as mutual
producing associations were in general operation, selling their goods
directly from the factories to the consumers, and buying all the
necessities of life and commodities, as far as possible, at wholesale,
and selling them a little above cost price, there would have been
little occasion for men to amass millions of dollars. The number of
middlemen and traders would have largely decreased. Everybody would
have been compelled to do work of some kind and would have received
a compensation according to both the quantity and quality of his
performances”.

“But would not cliques like the one you are charging with having
control of your government have taken possession of a mutual producing
association, thus depriving the clever workers of a part of their
earnings and paying the poorer men more for their work than they
deserved?” I queried.

“In such a case the good men could have left an association, where
they were cheated and joined another partnership. Good laborers are
always appreciated wherever competition rules. But the association,
thus driving away their ablest members, would soon have been unable to
compete with others. Difficulties, therefore, could have been regulated
without much trouble”.

“You must advocate, as a matter of course mutual insurance companies
among the guilds for the protection of the members against accidents,
sickness, infirmity and old age, and these mutual insurance companies
would, perhaps, have also written life and fire policies?” I suggested.

“That would, indeed, have been a consequence of the whole system that
would unite the few advantages of communism with the benefits of
competition”, Mr. Forest answered.

“Would you have encouraged immigration?” I asked. “At the end of the
nineteenth century, many honest, liberal and fair-minded people, whom
nobody could fairly class as know-nothings, were of the opinion that
the United States had all the foreign elements the country could
assimilate, and that the rest of the public lands should be preserved
for the children of the people living in the Union, in the year of our
Lord 1887. The objection against further immigration was largely due to
the actions of the German and Irish dynamiters”.

“I can imagine”, Mr. Forest answered, “that some of the customs and
notions of the numerous immigrants of your time were objectionable to
the native Americans, and that the crimes of the anarchists, their
crazy revolt against the laws of a country that had offered them
hospitality, must naturally have created a deep emotion among the
Anglo-Americans. But I think they had, nevertheless, many reasons for
encouraging immigration, especially under your form of production. A
strict execution of the laws of the country”, he continued, after a
pause, “against _all_ transgressors, native as well as transplanted,
would have done the country good and have made all attempts to restrict
immigration entirely unnecessary, all the more so, as the really
objectionable foreigners could reach the United States via Canada or
Mexico if they desired strongly to become inhabitants of the United
States.”

“These arguments were frequently used in my time,” I remarked.

“The comparatively small harm done by immigrants was largely
over-balanced by the many advantages the citizens of the United States
obtained through the large influx of people from Europe”, said Mr.
Forest. “The very fact that hundreds of thousands of able-bodied
people, whose rearing and education had cost the European countries
millions of dollars, landed on American shores was a great gain to the
United States. The very presence of these men and women increased the
value of the lands or city lots where they settled, _thus enriching the
property owners_. Many of the immigrants were well trained laborers and
mechanics, others artists and scholars. All these men and women were
not familiar with the ways and means of their new country, many of them
were unable to speak the English language, and they all had, therefore,
to start in the very lowest places of American business life--_thus
naturally elevating all the inhabitants of the United States in a more
or less degree, to higher positions in life_. Many of these people,
coming from all parts of Europe, were ably and well trained, and
they became successful competitors of those, who were here before
their arrival. But the constant stream of people from Europe to the
United States _was, nevertheless, steadily enriching and elevating
the American people_, and all the blows aimed at immigration were,
therefore, unwise, and the legislators who proposed such blows remind
me of the man who intended to kill the goose that laid the golden
eggs”.

“It is, of course, impossible to advance social theories to which
everybody will agree”, Mr. Forest said in conclusion. “I maintain,
however, that all such theories should be based on two fundamental
principles. They should have as an aim the establishment of a state
of society, where everybody should be protected against an undeserved
poverty, where the brain-cancer, fear of an undeserved poverty, should
be cured; and they should preserve competition, the power that is
permanently spurring everybody to use his best efforts to elevate
himself and humanity”.



CHAPTER VIII.


When I left Mr. Forest after our last conversation I was convinced,
partly by his arguments, partly by my own observations, that communism
had not established the millennium, as I had first supposed, after
the lectures of Dr. Leete; but that it had degraded humanity in every
respect.

I felt that I must speak frankly to Dr. Leete about the change in my
convictions, resign my position as professor of Shawmut College, and
that this would give my life in the society of the twentieth century a
new and unpleasant direction.

Dr. Leete had treated me with the utmost kindness, and if I, from the
commencement of our relations, had refused to become enthusiastic
over communism, my amiable host, I think, would have not only
tolerated my views but would have continued his friendship for me,
provided I did not join the active opposition to the administration.
He might even have consented to my marriage with Edith. But now the
circumstances were such, that my change of mind involved the most
unpleasant consequences for Dr. Leete. He had recommended me as a
man especially qualified above others to become the successor of Mr.
Forest as professor of the history of the nineteenth century. I owed my
appointment solely to his influence, and there could be no doubt that
my apostacy from communism would seriously injure the respect in which
Dr. Leete’s advice had been held heretofore. My host would feel this
keenly. The rather sudden change in my opinions, the consequence of my
very limited knowledge of national economy, could have no other effect
upon Dr. Leete’s family, than to destroy their good opinion of me. They
would be forced to believe me a shallow, superficial and ungrateful
man, who had changed from an enthusiastic advocate of communism to
such a decided opponent of this theory that I would resign a position
granted to me through Dr. Leete’s efforts, and thus place my kind host
in an embarrassing position.

And how would Edith regard my resignation of the professorship? She
was attached to her father by a well founded affection and esteem.
Would her love for me prove strong enough to overcome the shock my step
involved? My blind enthusiasm for the present order of things had been
heralded all over the country by the administration organs; they had
pointed to the fact that I, a living witness of the civilization of the
nineteenth century, had become an almost fanatic advocate of communism.
The fact that I had changed my mind after becoming familiar with the
facts and circumstances, would compel the administration to treat me as
a deceitful, unprincipled demagogue, if not as a scoundrel. There was
very little doubt that I would be assigned to the most objectionable
work, even if I was spared a term in an insane asylum. And how could I
ask Edith Leete, blooming like a beautiful flower in a well protected
garden, the house of her highly esteemed father, to join her lot to a
man who would be regarded by most of the people either as a superficial
babbler or as an unmasked hypocrite, deserving his fate to be degraded
to class B of the third grade.

The fear of losing the love of Edith overshadowed for a while all
other considerations, for I loved in Edith Leete Edith Bartlett! And
the reflection that my resignation would cause the loss of Edith to me
weighed upon my mind like a nightmare. Never in my life had I felt so
distressed and miserable as on my way to Dr. Leete’s house after my
last conversation with Mr. Forest.

For a moment I harbored the idea of ending my misery by my own hand,
but I resolved to be a man and face my fate. So I walked to Dr. Leete’s
house determined not to deceive my friends nor to shrink from my duty
as a man of honor.

I found Dr. Leete, who generally appeared so gentle and composed, in a
rather excited mood. He looked both careworn and threatening. Before I
could address him he stepped in front of me and said:

“I have positive information that our mutual friend Mr. Fest, is
plotting to incite a rebellion of the Radicals. Frequent secret
meetings have taken place during the last few days, and I learn that
Fest intends to start the rebellion here in Boston”.

“What means will you employ to prevent it?” I asked. “Will you call
out the citizens and arrest the conspirators? I am at your service”, I
added, very glad to demonstrate my readiness to serve my host at least
against the Radicals whose abominable theories I hated--not to mention
my dislike for their leader.

“I doubt very much whether it would be good policy to appeal to the
people”, replied the doctor. “Such a step would attach too much
importance to the conspiracy. I wish I had placed that man Fest under
medical care, when he left our house. He is the real danger of the
hour. His followers do not amount to much, but under a leader like
Fest, who combines a certain rude eloquence with reckless audacity and
physical power, a rebellion may become a dangerous movement. To prevent
this I have given orders to arrest the archconspirator and to put him
in a safe place under medical treatment”.

I could not indorse this step although it would, perhaps, prove
successful. I suppressed my objections, however, and asked Dr. Leete
if he could give a few minutes attention to my own affairs, for I
considered it my duty not to keep secret my convictions any longer from
Edith’s father.

With his usual kindness Dr. Leete turned to me and requested me to
defer the conversation until next morning if the delay would not be
very disagreeable to me.

I consented.

We took our places at the table in the dining room. Mrs. Leete had
sent for a light supper to the common eating house, but none of us did
justice to the meal. We all felt apprehensive.

Dr. Leete looked at his watch.

“By this time Fest ought to be in the care of the officers and
physicians”, he said. “I expect a report”.

After a few uneasy minutes we heard a noise in the street, as if a
great number of people were coming up to the house.

The housedoor was opened, and a brawling crowd entered the hall and
pressed forward into the dining room. The mob was led by Fest, who,
evidently, had just been through a hot fight. His woolen shirt was
torn, and he swung a heavy butcher’s axe stained with blood.

“Here I am again, Dr. Leete”, he cried in his stentorian voice. “I gave
you fair warning that I would not enter your house again as a friend.
And since, you damned old hypocritical tyrant, you have given orders
to imprison me in a mad-house, I have resolved that you shall die this
evening. The people of Boston shall be relieved from your tyranny”.

I seized a knife and stepping to the side of Dr. Leete, I stood ready
to cover his body with my own.

But at this moment the mob’s attention was distracted by the sudden
appearance in the room of Forest, who jumped on the dining table and
addressed the crowd without losing a second.

“I suppose you know who I am”, he said “I am an enemy of this man”, and
he pointed to Dr. Leete. “Because I would not defend this miserable
administration I was removed from my place as professor of Shawmut
College, and it was Dr. Leete who assigned me to the position of
janitor”.

“That’s just like the miserable old tyrant”, shouted a dirty looking
fellow.

“Therefore, I say: Down with an administration that strangled free
speech” continued Mr. Forest. “Down with tyranny! But let us not
butcher this miserable old fellow. It is not worthy of young and
vigorous men like us to kill an unarmed old creature. Let us place him
in an insane asylum, where he intended to imprison our friend Fest”.

“Yes, yes, put him in a madhouse”, the mob yelled.

It was evident that Forest was trying to save Dr. Leete’s life. My eye
wandered to Edith. She was very pale but composed. She had put her
left arm around her father and she met my look with an expression of
sympathy. Unfortunately, Fest noticed that expression in Edith’s eyes,
and his jealousy broke forth with increased force.

“You damned fools”, he cried in a hoarse voice, “don’t you see that
this man Forest is trying to save the life of that tricky and dangerous
old tyrant? But I demand my share of the booty: the life of Leete and
his daughter”.

“Do as you please, Bob”! the mob yelled.

“Leave this room, Forest”, commanded Robert Fest. “I have no grudge
against you; but if you stand in my way you will have to suffer the
consequences”.

“So long as I live you shall not commit murder in this house”, Mr.
Forest replied. “You ought to be ashamed, Fest, of a conduct so
unworthy of a gentleman”.

“Shut up, you fool”, Fest screamed with rage. “That hypocritical
scoundrel, Leete, has bulldozed the people long enough. He must die,
and if you don’t get out of our way, you will die with him”.

A rage I had never felt before carried me away. “What has this old
gentleman done to challenge your thirst for his blood, you mean, cruel
coward?” I cried, and jumped at Fest, trying to put my knife into
his heart. But a dozen fists disarmed me, while Fest commanded: “Put
that old Bostonian in a bag and dump him in the harbor. Although not
a gentleman in the eyes of the professor I am a man of my word, and I
have promised that resurrected spectre, I would drown him like a puppy
when ever again he crossed my path”.

He lifted his axe and advanced towards Dr. Leete who remained silent,
with his gray eyes fixed upon his brutal enemy.

Once more Forest tried to save the life of the leader of the
administration, but in vain. A dirty looking ruffian buried a knife
in Forest’s true and fearless breast and with the words: “We are
even, Leete”, he sank to the floor. Edith struggled with two men who
had seized her arms and were trying to lead her away when Fest’s axe
descended on Dr. Leete’s gray head. Without a murmur he fell to the
ground, while Edith with a loud cry fainted. Fest seized her around her
waist.

“She refused to be my wife” he said with a satanic grin, “now she
will be mine without the ridiculous ceremony of marriage”, and while
stepping to the door with Edith’s lifeless body clasped by his left arm
he said: “Kill every friend of the administration, boys. I will meet
you at the city hall in an hour or so”.

I made a tremendous, desperate effort to shake off the men who kept me
back; I uttered a despairing cry and--awoke in my bed, May 31, 1887. At
my bedside a physician, and my servant Sawyer had been busy for some
time awakening me from my deep mesmeric slumber. They had labored very
hard until they succeeded, but more than an hour passed before I had
regained my ability of reasoning, and then I felt greatly relieved.

With the swiftness of lightning all the details of my interesting but
terrible dream passed through my mind. I weighed all the arguments
of Dr. Leete and Mr. Forest carefully again, and felt delighted that
I was living in the nineteenth century instead of in the communistic
state that appeared to me now like a large penitentiary on the eve of a
rebellion of the convicts.

“I would rather work harder at liberty than remain idle for a number of
hours every day in a prison-like life”, I said reflectively, “for work
is not an evil. And I would rather work a few years longer and miss
some commodities of life than submit to communistic slavery. Most of
the luxuries for which we are struggling appear most desirable so long
as we do not possess them, and we do not care much for them when they
are ours”.

I resolved to use hereafter my best ability for the advancement of
all desirable reforms for the benefit of mankind, and to preach
contentment, the only solid basis of happiness. Felicity is so
independent of wealth, in fact glory and opulence are almost stumbling
blocks in the way of happiness. Happiness depends largely on our
acceptance of our lot. In Victor Von Scheffel’s famous poem “The
Trumpeter of Säckingen” young Werner when he parts from his beloved
Margaret, as he supposes forever, sings:

    To life belongs this most unpleasant feature:
      That not a rose without sharp thorns does grow.
    Though love eternal stirs our human nature
      Through pangs of parting we at last must go.

But Margaret is at last reunited to young Werner, she becomes his wife,
and it would have been much more in consonance with the final result,
if young Werner, when departing from Margaret, had sung thus:

    To life belongs this very pleasant feature
      That next to thorns the blooming roses bend,
    And love eternal conquers human nature
      In joy uniting lovers in the end.



Transcriber’s Note:

The table of contents at the beginning of the book was added by the
transcriber.

Attempts have been made to standardise punctuation in accordance with
the style used in the original publication, but inconsistent placement
of ending punctuation in relation to closing quotation marks and
single/double quotation marks nested within a quotation have been
retained as published. Hyphenation has also been retained as appears
in the original.

Changes have been made as follows:

  Page vi
    uncertainty of subsistance and the _changed to_
    uncertainty of subsistence and the

  Page 11
    was therefore the great-granddaugher _changed to_
    was therefore the great-granddaughter

  Page 20
    have a as matter of course _changed to_
    have as a matter of course

  Page 29
    an accurate discription _changed to_
    an accurate description

  Page 31
    and creatiug a diversity _changed to_
    and creating a diversity

    that disimilarity of men _changed to_
    that dissimilarity of men

  Page 33
    admirer of the civilzation _changed to_
    admirer of the civilization

  Page 35
    able to acumulate fortunes _changed to_
    able to accumulate fortunes

  Page 41
    years by the president _changed to_
    years by the President

  Page 46
    women with clean aud easy _changed to_
    women with clean and easy

  Page 50
    am refering to _changed to_
    am referring to

  Page 60
    fight for the maintainance of _changed to_
    fight for the maintenance of

  Page 69
    posession of me _changed to_
    possession of me

  Page 113
    and they became successfull _changed to_
    and they became successful

  Page 121
    tried to safe the life _changed to_
    tried to save the life





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