On Picket Duty

Hugh O. Pentecost has been indicted by the grand jury for larceny in the first degree.

I have once more in stock the pamphlet, Love, Marriage, and Divorce, by Greeley, James, and Andrews.

Judge Barrett, the author of the aristocratic jury plan, said to Inspector McLaughlin, while passing sentence, that he should not, at that time, add to his humiliation by a single harsh expression. How magnanimous! Where did Judge Barrett get the authority to use harsh expressions to convicted men? As Howard observes, some men imagine that lectures and sentences are synonymous. Judge Barrett ought to devote some attention to reforming the manners of the judges.

I am in receipt of a letter from Mr. Arthur Kitson, in which he meets by a flat and circumstantial denial the claim of Mr. William A. Whittick, made in the latter’s letter in the last issue of Liberty, that the credit given to Mr. Whittick in the preface to Mr. Kitson’s book does not adequately express the degree of his collaboration, and sets up a counter-claim that this credit does Mr. Whittick more than justice and that Mr. Whittick has more than once admitted and asserted this. Since the letter cannot be printed in full before the issue of August 10, I print this paragraph to inform the readers that Mr. Kitson does not accept Mr. Whittick’s statement.

Because Governor Altgeld has called a special session of the legislature to do some of the work which that worthy body neglected during the regular session, the venomous Chicago Journal and the atrocious New York Evening Post are insinuating that he must be insane. Evidently the trick of denouncing him as an Anarchist is played out, and something more terrifying is needed. But really, Godkin is becoming altogether too reckless in his lying. Those who see the Chicago papers know that, when he says that the special session is universally pronounced unnecessary and unjustifiable, he lies either wantonly or ignorantly. All that his bitterest enemies have to say against his act is that it was somewhat premature,—that he should have waited until September; the necessity of the extra session no one has questioned.

Dana is growing incoherent. When the supreme court, by a majority of one, saved the plutocracy from the income-tax, he threw his sensible readers into convulsions by the Quixotic declaration that the court stood like a rock in its championship of liberty and equality. Now he tells us that the decision of Judge Brown declining to order his removal to Washington for trial on a charge of libel is a glorious victory for a free press and individual rights, when, as a matter of fact, it was as technical a decision as was ever rendered. The indictment was technically defective, and the statutes under which the removal was attempted had been held, in a number of cases, to have no application to libel. Decisions on such grounds have never been hailed as great victories for general liberty, and Dana’s inept congratulations constitute a sad sign of mental decay. His sense of congruity and appropriateness is disappearing, and his bad breaks are painfully frequent.

The law in regard to debt discriminates in favor of women. Creditors can have body execution against men, but they cannot seize the body of a woman for debt. In view of his inequality, suggestions have been made looking to the abolition of the privilege enjoyed by women, but the New York World protests against any change in that direction. The remedy, it says, lies in extending the exemption to men, not in taking it away from women. Assuming that imprisonment for debt in any form is undesirable, the World is clearly right. The point which all clamorers for the equality of women should ponder is that there are, in every case, two ways of securing equality, and that it is necessary to know which way is the right one. The justice of woman suffrage, for example, is not demonstrated by pointing to man suffrage, for it is possible to secure equality by depriving men of it as well as by bestowing it on women. Will the more intelligent of the woman-suffragists ever understand that the first task is to prove that majority rule through the suffrage is desirable?

Nym Crinkle, the New York World’s critic, finds fault with George Bernard Shaw for drawing comparisons between Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, and calls him the most eccentric of English critics. The wise Nym thinks that these two actresses do not belong to the same realm of art any more than do Hugo and Pascal. Seeing that they produce the same plays and appear in the same parts before the same audiences almost, it would seem that comparisons are not only legitimate, but inevitable, and the critic who should fail to comment on the differences of their methods and conceptions would ipso facto write himself down an incompetent usurper of the critic’s function. But Nym’s chief objection to Shaw is that he has neither the time or the liberal education which are requisite for the due comprehension of the two actresses referred to. The impudence and coolness of this scribe are simply stupefying. Only an all-around ignoramus is capable of such recklessness. Does Nym imagine that the Saturday Review employs men of his own calibre?

There are two classes of fools in the world,—the ordinary fools and the pseudo-scientific fools. About the former few sensible men trouble themselves, but the latter are capable of serious mischief and constantly need watching. Spencer states in a recent letter that he is greatly irritated by the assertion that his views sanction State Socialism. Such assertions, it is needless to say, emanate, not from ordinary fools, but from pseudo-scientific fools. Spencer alludes to the pretentious nonsense of that Italian scientific Marxist, Professor Enrico Ferri, whose book on Socialism and Modern Science has unfortunately attracted some attention. I learn from a review in the Open Court that Ferri’s book is an eloquent and brilliant exposition of the trend of modern biological and social science as initiated by Darwin and Spencer and culminating in the Socialistic theories of Marx. The reviewer continues: The doctrine of Karl Marx, Professor Ferri contends, is the only Socialistic theory which possesses scientific method and importance, and which unanimously guides and inspires the Socialistic parties of the whole world. In his opinion, it is nothing more or less than the practical and natural fruitage in the province of sociology of that scientific revolution which began with the renaissance of modern science in Galileo and has received its highest modern perfection in the works of Darwin and Spencer. The last-mentioned authors hesitated to draw the sociological conclusions which logically flowed from their scientific premises, but left that work to Marx, who with them forms the brilliant stellar triad of modern scientific thought. In Socialism, as reared upon the scientific foundations of Marx, the world shall surely find, our author thinks, a panacea for the evils which now threaten what is noblest and best in its life. It cannot be denied that the little book is written with fervor and understanding. Such ignorance, both in author and reviewer, is simply paralyzing. It is obviously useless to protest and argue against such stupid perversion of fact, for what ground is there for believing that your protests will be less idiotically treated than your original expositions? No, against the learned fools there is no protection. The minimum of irritation lies in ignoring them.