The Home Guard Heard From.

The Home Guard Heard From.

[Liberty, June 23, 1888.]

The last issue of the Workmen’s Advocate contains the following communication:(140 ¶ 1)

To the Workmen’s Advocate:(140 ¶ 2)

Oh! what a feeling of rapture came over me as I began reading the dialogue between Tucker and Fenno in the last number of Liberty. (Ego Tucker needs no introduction; Fenno is the fiend who came to collect the poll-tax.) My thoughts went back to another age and to distant clime. I thought of John Hampden refusing to pay the ship-tax. I had often asked myself, who will be the leader in this, the struggle of the fourth estate? Where is the man who will dare resist oppression? I thought I was answered. Here! here was the man who would risk all for Liberty! And although she slew him, still would he trust in her!(140 ¶ 3)

But softly; as I read further, he takes the big iron dollar from his pocket and gives it to the minion.(140 ¶ 4)

Oh, ignominy! Instead of refusing to pay, he indulges in a little billingsgate,—a favorite pastime with him. He pays, and all is over. Our idol is but clay, and we must seek another leader. Is this what Ego Anarchists call passive resistance? If it is, it is certainly passive.(140 ¶ 5)

H. J. French

Denver, June 5.

When I published the poll-tax interview, I foresaw that it would call out some such rubbish as the above from my Socialistic critics. The fact that timely retreat often saves from defeat seldom saves the retreating soldier from the abuse of the home guard. The stay-at-homes are great worshippers of glory, but are always willing to let others win it. To the man of peace the man who runs is never a hero, although the true soldier may know him for the bravest of the brave. After reading such a criticism as Mr. French’s, well may one exclaim with Wilfrid Scawen Blunt: What men call courage is the least noble thing of which they boast. To my mind there is no such depth of poltroonery as that of the man who does not dare to run. For he has not the real courage to obey his own judgment against that spook, public opinion, above which his mind is not sufficiently emancipated to rise in scorn. Placed in a situation where, from the choice of one or the other horn of a dilemma, it must follow either that fools will think a man a coward or that wise men will think him a fool, I can conceive of no possible ground for hesitancy in the selection. I know my circumstances better than Mr. French can know them, and I do not permit him to be my judge. When I want glory, I know how to get it. But I am not working for glory. Like the base-ball player who sacrifices his individual record to the success of his club, I am playing for my team,—that is, I am working for my cause. And I know that, on the whole, it was better for my cause that I should pay my tax this year than that I should refuse to pay it. Is this passive resistance? asks Mr. French. No; it is simply a protest for the purpose of propagandism. Passive resistants, no less than active resistants, have the right to choose when to resist.(140 ¶ 6)

Far be it from me to depreciate the services of the Hampdens and the martyrs reverenced by mankind. There are times when the course that such men follow is the best policy, and then their conduct is of the noblest. But there are times also when it is sheer lunacy, and then their conduct is not for sane men to admire. Did Mr. French ever hear of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava? And does he remember the comment of a military man who witnessed that memorable, that splendid, that insane exploit, fruitful in nothing save the slaughter of half a thousand men: It is magnificent, but it is not war. The editor of Liberty is engaged in war.(140 ¶ 7)