The Bomb by Frank Harris
John Dos Passos
An Introduction by John Dos Passos
Frank Harris was an objectionable little man. He was
sallow as a gypsy. He had bat ears, dark hair with a crinkle in it
that grew low on the forehead, and a truculent mustache. People
remarked on the richness of his bass voice. His charm was great,
particularly for the opposite sex. He had the gift of gab to a sublime
degree and a streak of deep scoundrelism that was the ruin of him.
A natural storyteller, tall tales so permeated his private life that
his biographers were hard put to it to disentangle any facts at all
from the web of fiction he spun about himself. Particularly in the
twenties, when he was editing Pearson's Magazine in New York,
there used to be considerable journalistic searching for "the real
Frank Harris." One wonders now if such a creature ever existed. He
wrote some good short stories. He might have developed into a
first-rate novelist if he hadn't been such a damn liar.
Though at times he named Brighton, England, as his birthplace, amid
other variants of his curriculum vitae, it seems likely that he
first saw the light at Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, on St.
Valentine's Day in 1856, and that he was christened James Thomas
Harris. His parents were Plymouth Brethren, of the most fundamentalist
of Protestant sects, and were probably Welsh. His mother died when he
was very small. His father was a seafaring man who had managed to work
his way up in the Royal Navy from ship's boy to lieutenant in command
of a revenue cutter, no mean feat in those days.
The father was always at sea. The children lived higgledy-piggledy,
shifting from one small school to another as they followed their
father's ports of call. Ireland was in a state of barely suppressed
revolt. These were the days of the Fenian "troubles." Harris, who had
been a great reader of Captain Marryat, told in later life of his
bitter disappointment that his father failed to get him into the Royal
Navy when he was fourteen. He always blamed his father for that.
Little Jim Harris was obviously a bright youngster, a voracious
reader with a retentive memory. His father, who wanted to do what he
thought best for the boy, sent him to a classical English school,
which he hated with an
eternal hatred. With ten pounds he managed to wangle there as a prize
for scholastic attainments he ran away to Liverpool and bought himself
steerage passage to America.
He must have reached New York in the early seventies. German and
Irish immigrants poured off every ship. The country was in a state of
intermittent boom and bust. Some greenhorns starved. Others made
fortunes. Everybody talked big.
Harris became enormously Americanized. He decided his name was
Frank. Like a Horatio Alger hero he started out shining shoes. Then
he worked as a sandhog in the pressurized caissons they used in
building the piers for Roebling's Brooklyn Bridge. He saw a man die of
the bends and went back to shining shoes.
His story was that a gentleman whose shoes he was shining heard him
quote some Latin and was so impressed that he offered him a job as
night clerk in a Chicago hotel. If we can believe Frank Harris he was
managing the entire hotel by the time he was seventeen. Some Texas
cattlemen put up at his hostelry and induced him to go west with them
to make his fortune.
He was physically husky, and as he told the tale, with an
ever-increasing abundance of detail, a great man with the ladies. He
learned to ride in Texas and sopped up sagas of Indian-fighting and cattle-rustling across the Rio
Grande. He was developing a flair for writing. His first articles came
out in frontier newspapers. Two of his brothers seem to have settled
in Lawrence, Kansas, and at some point he studied for a year or so at
the university there, became a naturalized citizen—so his story
goes—and was admitted to the Kansas bar.
He caught the money-grubbing fever of the time. He'd speculate in
anything. When a financial crash wiped out his and his brothers'
investments in Lawrence real estate, he went to work for a newspaper
in Philadelphia. From then on his accounts of his meetings with the
literary great become as confusing as his tales of amorous successes.
He seems to have actually grasped the hand of Walt Whitman after a
lecture. He told of visiting Emerson in Concord. A name was all he
needed to hang a story on. He became the great name-dropper of the
Somewhere around the time he came of age Frank Harris decided he
wanted to be an Englishman instead of an American. Little malpractices,
like the rumored theft of a certain judge's lawbooks, may have made
it too hot for him in Lawrence, and possibly he wore out his welcome
with the college professor he was sponging on in Philadelphia. He
tells a fantastic tale, a
little too much like Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days
to be believable, of crossing the continent to San Francisco with a
highyaller paramour in his stateroom on the sleeper and sailing from
the Golden Gate for Bombay and Capetown. Somehow, he did get himself
from Philadelphia to Paris.
His great admiration was Carlyle. It was the Paris of the French
Revolution that he saw. He hired himself a cheap room on the rue St
Jacques and learned the language by going through Hugo's Hernani
and Madame Bovary with a dictionary. He attended Tame's
lectures at the Sorbonne and made enough impression on that venerable
critic to get a recommendation from him when he needed one.
When his money ran out he went to see his father who had retired on
halfpay at Denbigh in the beautiful Welsh Vale of Clwyd. He left
Denbigh in a hurry to avoid having to marry a young woman who thought
herself engaged to him; and, with the help of literary friends, got
himself taken on as a teacher at Brighton College. The meeting with
the aged Carlyle which later became such an important part of the
Frank Harris legend may have taken place in Brighton if it took place
at all. Forever after he posed as an expert on poor Carlyle's marital
As Harris told the story it was during his stay in Brighton that he
speculated so successfully in Chilean bonds that he laid away
twenty-five hundred pounds to finance his education. Teaching at a
provincial college was not the young careerist's meat. After some kind
of falling out with the college authorities Frank Harris was suddenly
heard of as a war correspondent in Moscow for the American press,
attached to the great pan-Slavist General Skobeliev in his short war
against the Turks. Next he turned up in Heidelberg, listening to Kuno
Fischer lecture on Shakespeare. As a writer he was planning to model
himself on Carlyle. He sent Carlyle a wild west novel he was writing
for his criticism. Since Carlyle was saturated with German scholarship
Harris was bound he would seek his education in Germany.
Expelled from Heidelberg, so he told it, for knocking down an
insulting student with his fist, he moved on to Göttingen and Berlin.
He became fluent in German, read Goethe and Heine, and soaked up all
the Socialist theories out of which Bismark was building his welfare
state as a bulwark for Hohenzollern autocracy. "Heroes and
Hero-Worship," The Iron Chancellor became his great admiration. In
English Shakespeare was god.
European students in the years after the
Franco-Prussian war were obsessed with socialism and sex, the two
prongs of the revolt of the intellectuals against the established
order. In Vienna Freud was soon to be inciting his patients to erotic
dreams. In London Marx was dissecting capitalism in the library of the
British Museum. Frank Harris completed his Wanderjahr with a
grand tour that took him to Florence and Athens and Constantinople. He
never tired of talking about sex. Spouting contes drolatiques
of cosmopolitan bed-wrestling, he went back to Paris. There, by his
own confession, he became the intimate friend of Guy de Maupassant.
Turgenev somehow he muffed.
At the age of twenty-seven, Frank Harris, tingling with lust and
greed and ambition, was ready to take on the foggy capital of the
Victorian world. He wrote of London as a woman "with wet draggled
skirts," with "glorious eyes lighting up her wet pale face." He had
somehow wangled a letter of introduction from Carlyle to Froude. It
was as a poet he first showed himself. He had taken to representing
himself as an American, an Irishman, or an Englishman as the occasion
demanded. According to Harris' story Froude introduced him to literary
society with a great dinner.
Be that as it may, by the summer of 1883 Harris had only managed to
publish an occasional book review in the Spectator. His money
must have run out because soon we hear of him making slim pickings as
a reporter for the Evening News.
He had come back from Germany a Socialist. He didn't disdain to let
his voice be heard at radical gatherings in Hyde Park. It was at a
Socialist meeting that he first met Shaw. He told of being introduced
to Karl Marx, and found the author of Das Kapital full of
loving kindness. When Harris told him he had written the greatest book
since The Wealth of Nations, he cried out that Harris' German
Socialists, Communists, anarchists were all of a heap in those days.
Some Hyde Park orators were rumored to be subsidized by the
Conservative party to undermine Gladstone's dominant Liberals.
Kropotkin smelt the agent provocateur in glib young Harris and
warned his disciples away from him.
Frank Harris was dragging on the shabby life of an apprentice writer
in a Bloomsbury boarding-house when suddenly he burst on Fleet Street
as the editor-in-chief of the Evening News. It is typical of
Harris' career that the most believable explanation of his sudden leap
to fortune is found in a novel called The Adventures of John Johns
, a bestseller in its day, which according to the gossip of the Cafe
Royal, was based on Harris' career. John Johns became editor of an
important London newspaper by going to bed with the publisher's wife.
He edited the Evening News for several years with great
success. As editor he was skilful, resourceful, and ruthless. By using
the sensation-mongering methods that were soon to bring William
Randolph Hearst such success in America, he turned the paper from a
liability into an asset for the owners in a few months. Years later he
explained to some journalist friends that when he first took the sheet
over his idea was to edit it as a cosmopolitan scholar of
twenty-eight. "Nobody wanted my opinions; but as I went downwards and
began to edit it as I felt at twenty, then at eighteen, then at
sixteen, I was more successful: but when I got to my tastes at
fourteen years of age, I found instantaneous response. Kissing and
fighting were the only things I cared for at thirteen or fourteen, and
these are the things the English public desires and enjoys today."
As editor of the Evening News, in spite of the disrepute of
that scandal sheet among men of good will, Frank Harris became a
figure in London society. He was dressed by the best Bond Street
tailors, adopted high Spanish heels to look less pint-sized, and was
admitted to a number of clubs. For a man with a literary career to
make the Evening News was a stepping-stone. Though Harris had
already become famous for
his social agility, it was with astonishment that the English reading
public discovered that this young upstart, a mere boy of thirty who
had appeared out of nowhere, was to edit the Fortnightly Review
. The Fortnightly Review was the most respectable literary
journal in England, but respectability gave no assurance of
circulation. Frank Harris was a circulation builder in the modern
The eight years he edited the Fortnightly Review and his four
years that followed as owner of the Saturday Review constituted
the crowning period of his life. He was the centre of the literary
nineties. He discovered H. G. Wells. He launched Shaw as a drama
critic. He encouraged Cunninghame Graham and Max Beerbohm. He
published Swinburne and Oscar Wilde and Beardsley. In spite of a
continuing liaison with Laura Clapton, which he publicized as the
great love of his life, he married a wealthy widow with a house in
Park Lane. His luncheons were notorious, in Park Lane or at the Cafe
Royal, where he liked to seat his guests at an oval table in the
centre of the restaurant so that all London could overhear his gibes
and indiscretions. His memory served him well. In a society
appreciative of good conversation, his talk was a volcano of anecdote
and paradox, laced with the scabrous revelations that so thrilled the
"Modesty," he claimed was "the fig leaf of mediocrity." He was the
bounder par excellence. When he boasted to Oscar Wilde that he'd
gotten himself invited to every great house in London, Wilde made the
famous rejoinder "But never more than once, Frank."
He was the arriviste who never quite arrived. His wife soon
tired of his infidelities and his cadging of her money for endless
speculations on the shadier fringes of the City. Then there were
freakish things about his personal habits. A colossal eater and
drinker he had taken to using the stomach pump after meals as a
substitute for the Roman vomitorium. Her solicitors arranged a
After a purple period the forces of British respectability were
gaining the upper hand again. One symptom was the trial and venomous
persecution of Oscar Wilde. Another was Harris' being cashiered as
editor of the Fortnightly. According to his account the
management objected to an article which described some bomb-throwing
French anarchists without condemning them and to paying Swinburne
fifty pounds for a poem which they considered seditious.
The Saturday Review was a rearguard action. As a leader of
opinion he was already slipping. Other stars of the Cafe Royal, Lord
Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde, were fading into degradation and ignominy. Bernard Shaw was saved by
his sense of humor and the thorough monogamy of his personal life.
Wells, who kept his bohemianism quite private, was enshrined in the
hearts of suburbia by his mixture of science fiction with social
idealism. Licentiousness was going out of style. Harris became the man
of lost causes.
He defended Wilde and Havelock Ellis. He took the unpopular side in
the Boer War. He attacked British imperialism and prudishness and
hypocrisy and the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
His life teemed with desperate expedients to raise money, deals
with bucketshop operators, the use of his social connections to
promote the sale of blue-sky securities. He had learned to live in the
style of the Grand Dukes. He had become an addict of the Hotel du Cap
at Antibes much frequented by the literary British in those days.
Possibly hoping to cash in on the friendship, which we are assured was
platonic, of the wealthy American lady who was then Princess of
Monaco, he invested in a Monte Carlo hotel, then in one at Eze. He had
begun to believe his own stories of his youthful success in the hotel
business in Chicago. His luck had turned. Both schemes went awry.
He had to make his living by writing. His stories of the American
west had always gone
over when he told them from the head of the table. He started to
write them down. His style was forceful and clear. He had the
narrative drive. His first publications were American-type short
stories. Then he tried to emulate the success of Prosper Merimée's Carmen by a novelette about a bullfighter which he called "Montes
the Matador." Montes was a great success. George Meredith praised it
because the bull's feelings were so well described. Harris' hunting
with the hounds hadn't brought him the wealth and position he craved.
From now on he would run with the hares.
Now, "in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes," as his beloved
Shakespeare had put it, he found himself more and more siding with
the exploited and the unfortunate. He would write with intent. He'd
shatter the complacency of the well-heeled Victorians who were turning
him down. After a hurried trip to America to refresh his memory of
Chicago in 1908 he published The Bomb.
When on May 4, 1886, in the course of the rioting that accompanied
a wave of agitation for the eight-hour day, a bomb was thrown into a
group of police advancing to break up a protest meeting in the Chicago
Haymarket, the British press joined the American press in intemperate denunciation of the murderous
Frank Harris was still groping for the fourteen-year-old mentality
as editor of the Evening News. It was not till many months
later that any trace of the feelings of the erstwhile Hyde Park orator
appeared in its columns. Even then, though in private he seems to have
doubted the guilt of the indicted anarchists, his name did not appear
along with that of his friend George Bernard Shaw, or along with
William Morris' or Peter Kropotkin's, on an appeal for amnesty
approved by a meeting of protest in London in the fall of 1887. The
Park Lane viveur could hardly associate himself with the grubby mass
meetings of radical sectarians.
By the time Harris picked up the story the hanged men had been
rehabilitated in the opinion of a large sector of American opinion.
Governor John P. Altgeld of Illinois, with a rare exhibition of civic
courage, pardoned the two survivors in 1892. Altgeld went further. In
a careful analysis of the trial he proved, to the satisfaction of most
fair minded citizens, that though the Chicago anarchists might have
been guilty of inciting to riot, they were innocent of conspiracy to
commit murder, or of the bomb-throwing itself. Altgeld's pursuit of
justice was the ruin of his career as a politician.
The Bomb might well be classed as an early form of the
I don't know whether Frank Harris is a "great" writer or not. He had
drive and force. He had a knack for sketching characters. His writing
stands up with Wells's or Kipling's as an example of the limpid
English style of the period. He was very much of a precursor.
As a newspaper editor he foreshadowed the sensationalism of the
cheap English press of our day. In The Man Shakespeare he led
in the effort to save the mighty dead from the gradgrinds and the
embalmers. Perhaps he loved Shakespeare "not wisely but too well."
With his Contemporary Portraits he introduced into English with
entertaining results a French strain of literary journalism. In My
Life and Loves, and in the pornographic material he peddled
pathetically from door to door in the latter part of his life, he
anticipated the flood of smut that now clogs the literary marketplace.
Critics have complained of historical inaccuracies in The Bomb
. It rings true to the emotions of the time. Picking Rudolph
Schnaubelt, the man who disappeared, as the bomb-thrower is as good a
guess as any. If anybody knew who threw the bomb he has kept his mouth
shut to this day. Harris fell into an anachronism in his description
of the building of Brooklyn Bridge,
which refers to the early seventies instead of the early
eighties, but he had to work in his own experiences and recollections.
Half a century after the book was first printed the reader will find
the re-creation of the mood of the time singularly convincing.
Looking back on the nineteenth-century anarchists from the sixties
of the twentieth century, when exploitation of aspirations and
resentments has become part of the standard textbook of political
career-making, the Chicago anarchists seem as naïvely alien as the
Children's Crusade. The oppressions and injustices that they protested
against were real, but the notion that society could be shocked into
justice and charity by the blowing up of a few policemen ranks with
delusions relegated to the psychiatric ward. Out of the energy of
these blind protests and deluded hatreds, of men struggling against
adjustment to the changes in their lives enforced by technological
revolution, we have seen terrible empires built. Perhaps the
war-spirit of political ideologies is losing its hold as the passions
that fed the wars of religion lost their hold in the past. In any case The Bomb will give you a glimpse of an odd and moving and
disturbing, and fortunately fairly unique, episode in Chicago's
[To The First American Edition (1909)]
[by Frank Harris]
I have been asked to write a foreword to the American
edition of The Bomb and the publisher tells me that what the
American public will most want to know is how much of the story is
All through 1885 and 1886 I took a lively interest in the labour
disputes in Chicago. The reports that reached us in London from
American newspapers were all bitterly one-sided: they read as if some
enraged capitalist had dictated them: but after the bomb was thrown
and the labour leaders were brought to trial little islets of facts
began to emerge from the sea of lies.
I made up my mind that if I ever got the opportunity I would look
into the matter and see whether the Socialists who had been sent to
death deserved the punishment meted out to them amid the jubilation
of the capitalistic press.
In 1907 I paid a visit to America and spent some time in Chicago
visiting the various scenes and studying the contemporary newspaper
accounts of the tragedy. I came to the conclusion that six out of
seven men punished in Chicago were as innocent as I was, and that four
of them had been murdered—according to law.
I felt so strongly on the subject that when I sketched out The
Bomb I determined not to alter a single incident but to take all
the facts just as they occurred. The book then, in the most important
particulars, is a history, and is true, as history should be true, to
life, when there are no facts to go upon.
The success of the book in England has been due partly perhaps to
the book itself; but also in part to the fact that it enabled
Englishmen to gloat over a fancied superiority to Americans in the
administration of justice. The prejudice shown in Chicago, the gross
unfairness of the trial, the savagery of the sentences allowed
Englishmen to believe that such judicial murders were only possible in
America. I am not of that opinion. At the risk of disturbing the
comfortable self-esteem of my compatriots I must say that I believe
the administration of justice in the United States is at least as fair
and certainly more humane than it is in England. The Socialists in
Trafalgar Square, when John Burns and Cunninghame Graham were
maltreated, were even worse handled in proportion to their resistance
than their fellows in Chicago.
I am afraid the moral of the story is a little too obvious: it may,
however, serve to remind the American people how valuable are some of
the foreign elements which go to make up their complex civilization.
It may also incidentally remind the reader of the value of sympathy
with ideas which he perhaps dislikes.
[to the Second American Edition (1920)]
[by Frank Harris]
FLAUBERT exclaimed once that no one had understood, much
less appreciated, his Madame Bovary. "I ought to have
criticized it myself," he added; "then I'd have shown the fool-critics
how to read a story and analyze it and weigh the merits of it. I could
have done this better than anyone and very impartially; for I can see
its faults, faults that make me miserable."
In just this spirit and with the self-same conviction I want to say
a word or two about The Bomb. I have stuck to the facts of the
story in the main as closely as possible; but the character of
Schnaubelt and his love story with Elsie are purely imaginary. I was
justified in inventing these, I believe, because almost nothing was
known of Schnaubelt and as the illiterate mob continually confuse
Socialism and free love, it seemed to me well to demonstrate that love
between social outcasts andrebels would naturally be intenser and
more idealistic than among ordinary men and women. The pressure from
the outside must crush the pariahs together in a closer embrace and
intensify passion to self-sacrifice.
My chief difficulty was the choice of a protagonist; Parsons was
almost an ideal figure; he gave himself up to the police though he was
entirely innocent and out of their clutches and when offered a pardon
in prison he refused it, rising to the height of human self-abnegation
by declaring that if he, the only American, accepted a pardon he
would thus be dooming the others to death.
But such magnanimity and sweetness of spirit is not as American, it
seemed to me, as Lingg's practical heroism and passion of revolt In
spite of Miss Goldman's preference for Parsons, I still believe I
chose my hero rightly, but I idealized Lingg beyond life-size, I fear.
No young man of twenty ever had the insight into social conditions
which I attribute to him. I should have given him less vision and put
in a dash of squalor or of cruelty or cunning to make the portrait
lifelike. But the fault seems to me excusable.
The whole book is probably too idealistic; but as all
rebels—socialists and anarchists alike—are whelmed in these States
in a flood of furious and idiotic contempt and hatred, acertain
small amount of idealization of the would be reformers is perhaps
justified. On the whole I'm rather proud of The Bomb and of
Elsie and Lingg.
In a pamphlet published by the police, shortly after the execution
of the Anarchists, it was stated that "Lingg's father was a dragoon
officer of royal blood, but he only knew his mother for whom he always
showed a passionate devotion. Four years after her liaison with the
handsome officer, his mother wedded a lumber-worker named Link. When
Louis was about twelve his foster-father got heart-disease through
exposure and died. The widow was left in poverty and had to do washing
and ironing in order to support herself and a daughter named Elise who
had been born of her marriage.
"Louis received a fair education [I continue to give the gist of the
police record] and became a carpenter at Mannheim in order to help
his mother. In 1879 he was out of his apprenticeship and went to Kehl
and then to Freiburg.
"Here he fell in with free-thinkers and became an avowed Socialist.
In '83 he went to Luzern and thence to Zurich where he met the famous
anarchist Reinsdoff to whom he became greatly attached. He joined the
German Socialist society "Eintracht" and threw his whole soul into the
"In August 1884 Mrs. Lingg married a second time, one Christian
Gaddum, in order, as she said, to find support for her daughter, she
herself being in poor health; she asked Louis to return home if only
for a visit.
"But Louis had now reached the age for military service and as his
whole being revolted against German militarism he decided to emigrate
"After the wayward boy had taken ship at Havre he and his mother
corresponded regularly. All her letters breathed encouragement; she
sent him money often and concluded invariably by giving him good
counsel and urging him to write frequently.
"That Lingg had a great love for his mother is shown by the fact
that he kept all her letters from the time he left home till he killed
"His illegitimate birth appears to have annoyed the youth; he
worried his mother to give him his father's name. In one letter she
says: "It grieves me that you speak of your birth; where your father
is I don't know. My father did not want me to marry him because he did
not desire me to follow him into Hessia and as he had no real estate
he could not marry me in Schwetzingen according to our laws. He left
and went I don't know where."
"A little later Louis appears to have asked her to get him a
certificate of birth, for a laterletter from her satisfies this
request. I reproduce it word for word as characteristic of their
MANNHEIM, June 29, 1884.
DEAR Louis: You must have waited a long time for an answer. John
said to Elise that I had not yet replied to your last letter. The
officials of the court you cannot push. For my part I would have been
better pleased if they had hurried up, because it would have saved you
a great deal of time. But now I am glad that it has finally been
accomplished. After a great deal of toil, I put myself out to go to
Schwetz-ingen and see about the certificate of your birth. I know you
will be glad and satisfied to learn that you carry the name of Lingg.
This is better than to have children with two different names. He (the
first husband) had you entered as a legitimate child before we got
married. I think this was the best course, so that you will not worry
and reproach me. Such a certificate of birth is no disgrace, and you
can show it.
I felt offended that you took no notice of the "confirmation."
Elise had everything nice. Her only wish was to receive some small
token from Louis, which would havepleased her more than anything
else. When she came from church, the first thing she asked for was
about a letter or card from you, but we had to be contented with the
thought that perhaps you did not remember us. Now it is all past...
I was very much troubled that it has taken so long (to procure the
certificate), but I could not help it. Everything is all right, and we
are all well and working. I hope to hear the same from you. It would
not be so bad if you wrote oftener. I have had to do a great many
things for you the last eighteen years, but with a mother you can do
as you please—neglect her and never answer her letters.
"The certificate sent him read as follows:
CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH
Ludwig Link, legitimate son of Philipp Friedrich Link and of Regina
Von Hoefler, was born at Schwetzingen, on the ninth (9th) day of
September, 1864. This is certified according to the records of the
Evangelical Congregation of Schwetzingen.
SCHWETZINGEN, May 24, 1884.
County Court: CLURIGHT.
"One thing appears from the above, and that is that at home Louis'
name was Link. Other documents, some of them legal, also found in his
trunk, show that his name was formerly written Link. He must have
changed it shortly before leaving Europe or just after reaching the
United States. The thought of his illegitimacy (according to the
police report) helped to make him in religion a free-thinker, in
theory a freelover, and in practice an implacable enemy of existing
society. His mother's letters show that she wished him to be a good
man, and it was no fault of her early training that he subsequently
became an Anarchist.
"No sooner had Lingg reached Chicago than he looked up the haunts
of Socialists and Anarchists . . . Lingg arrived here only eight or
nine months before the eventful 4th of May, but in that short time he
succeeded in making himself the most popular man in Anarchist circles.
No one had created such a furore since 1872, when Socialism had its
inception in the city.
"Lingg had not been connected with the organization long before he
became a recognized leader and made speeches that enthused all the
comrades. While young in years, they recognized in him a worthy
leader, and the fact that he had sat at the feet of Reinsdorf as a
pupil elevated him in their estimation. This distinction,added to his
personal magnetism, made him the subject for praise and comment . . .
"His work was never finished, and never neglected. At one time he
taught his followers how to handle the bombs so that they would not
explode in their hands, and showed the time and distance for throwing
the missiles with deadly effect; at another he drilled those who were
to do the throwing . . . He was not alone a bomb-maker; he also
constituted himself an agent to sell arms. This is shown by a note
found in his trunk addressed to Abraham Hermann. It reads as follows:
Friend:—I sold three revolvers during the last two days,
and I will sell three more to-day (Wednesday). I sell them from $6.00
to $7.80 apiece.
Respectfully and best regards,
"In truth, he was the shiftiest as well as the most dangerous
Anarchist in all Chicago.
"The Haymarket riot proved a most bitter disappointment. Lingg was
fairly beside himself with chagrin and mortification. The one
consuming desire of his life had utterly and signally failed of
[Here occurs the police account of his arrest which I have
reproduced in The Bomb. I now continue it]:
"During the time Lingg remained at the station his wounded thumb
was regularly attended to; he was treated very kindly, had plenty to
eat, and was made as comfortable as possible.
"One day I asked him if he entertained any hostility towards the
police. He replied that during the McCormick factory riot he had been
clubbed by an officer, but he did not care much for that. He could
forget it all, but he did not like Bonfield. He would kill Bonfield,
willingly, he declared.
"Lingg was a singular Anarchist. Though he drank beer, he never
drank to excess, and he frowned upon the use of bad or indecent
language. He was an admirer of the fair sex, and they reciprocated his
admiration, his manly form, handsome face, and pleasing manners
"There was one visitor he always welcomed. It was his sweetheart,
who became a regular caller. She invariably wore a pleasant smile,
breathed soft, loving words into his ears through the wire screen that
separated the visitor's cage from the jail corridor, and contributed
much toward keeping him cheerful.
"She simply passed with the jail officials at first as 'Lingg's
girl,' but one day someone called her Ida Miller, and thereafter she
was recognized under that name. She was generallyaccompanied by young
Miss Engel, the daughter of the Anarchist Engel, and during the last
four months of her lover's incarceration she could be seen every
afternoon entering the jail. She was always readily admitted until the
day the bombs were found in Lingg's cell. After that neither she nor
Mr. and Mrs. Stein were admitted. While it has never been
satisfactorily proven who it was that introduced the bombs into the
jail, it is likely that they were smuggled into Lingg's hands by his
sweetheart. She enjoyed Lingg's fullest confidence, and obeyed his
"It is not known whether Miller is the real name of the girl, but
it is supposed to be Elise Friedel. She is a German, and was
twenty-two years of age at the time, her birthplace being Mannheim,
which was also Lingg's native town. She was tall, well-made, with fair
complexion, and dark eyes and hair."
Here ends the police account so far as it concerns us or throws
light on the characters of The Bomb. It is informative and
fairly truthful but plainly inspired by illiterate and brainless
prejudice. Still it proves that in my story I have kept closely to the
"Hold the high way and let thy spirit thee lead
And Truth shal thee deliver, it is no drede."
MY NAME is Rudolph Schnaubelt. I threw the bomb which
killed eight policemen and wounded sixty in Chicago in 1886. Now I
lie here in Reichholz, Bavaria, dying of consumption under a false
name, in peace at last.
But it is not about myself I want to write: I am finished. I got
chilled to the heart last winter, and grew steadily worse in those
hateful, broad, white Muenchener streets which are baked by the sun
and swept by the icy air from the Alps. Nature or man will soon deal
with my refuse as they please.
But there is one thing I must do before I go out, one thing I have
promised to do. I must tell the story of the man who spread terror
through America, the greatest man that ever lived, I think; a born
rebel, murderer and martyr. If I
can give a fair portrait of Louis Lingg, the Chicago Anarchist, as I
knew him, show the body and soul and mighty purpose of him, I shall
have done more for men than when I threw the bomb. . . .
How am I to tell the story? Is it possible to paint a great man of
action in words; show his cool calculation of forces, his unerring
judgment, and the tiger spring? The best thing I can do is to begin at
the beginning, and tell the tale quite simply and sincerely. "Truth,"
Lingg said to me once, "is the skeleton, so to speak, of all great
works of art." Besides, memory is in itself an artist. It all happened
long ago, and in time one forgets the trivial and remembers the
It should be easy enough for me to paint this one man's portrait. I
don't mean that I am much of a writer; but I have read some of the
great writers, and know how they picture a man, and any weakness of
mine is more than made up for by the best model a writer ever had.
God! if he could come in here now and look at me with those eyes of
his, and hold out his hands, I'd rise from this bed and be well again;
shake off the cough and sweat and deadly weakness, shake off anything.
He had vitality enough in him to bring the dead to life, passion
enough for a hundred men. . . .
I learned so much from him, so much; even more, strange to say,
since I lost him than when I was with him. In these lonely latter
months I have read a good deal, thought a good deal; and all my
reading has been illumined by sayings of his which suddenly come back
to my mind, and make the dark ways plain. I have often wondered why I
did not appreciate this phrase or that when he used it. But memory
treasured it up, and when the time was ripe, or rather, when I was
ripe for it, I recalled it, and realized its significance; he is the
spring of all my growth.
The worst of it is that I shall have to talk about myself at first,
and my early life, and that will not be interesting; but I can't help
it, for after all I am the mirror in which the reader must see Lingg,
and I want him to feel pretty certain that the mirror is clean at
least, and does not distort truth, or disfigure it.
I was born near Munich, in a little village called Lindau. My father
was an Oberfoerster, a chief in the forestry department. My mother
died early. I was brought up healthily enough in the hard way of the
German highlands. At six I went to the village school. Because my
clothes were better than most of the other boys' clothes, because
every now and then I had a few Pfennige to spend, I thought myself
better than my schoolmates. The
master, too, never beat me or scolded me. I must have been a dreadful
little snob. I remember liking my first name, Rudolph. There were
princes, forsooth, called Rudolph; but Schnaubelt I hated, it seemed
vulgar and common.
When I was about twelve or thirteen I had learned all that the
village school had to teach. My father wished me to go to Munich to
study in the Gymnasium, though he grudged the money it would cost to
keep me there. When he was not drinking or working he used to preach
the money-value of education to me, and I was willing enough to
believe him. He never showed me much affection, and I was not sorry to
go out into the larger world, and try my wings in a long flight.
It was about this time that I first of all became aware of nature's
beauty. Away to the south our mountain valley broke down towards the
flat country, and one could look towards Munich far over the plain all
painted in different colors by the growing crops. Suddenly one evening
the scales fell from my eyes; I saw the piney mountain and the
misty-blue plain and the golden haze of the setting sun, and stared in
How was it I had never before seen their beauty?
Well, I went to the Gymnasium. I suppose
I was dutiful and teachable: we Germans have those sheep-virtues
in our blood. But in my reading of Latin and Greek I came across
thoughts and thinkers and at length Heine, the poet, woke me to
question all the fairy tales of childhood. Heine was my first teacher,
and I learned from him more than I learned in the classrooms; it was
he who opened for me the door of the modern world. I finished with the
Gymnasium when I was about eighteen, and left it, as Bismarck said he
left it, a Freethinker and Republican.
In the holidays I used to go home to Lindau; but my father made my
life harder and harder to me. He was away all day at work. He did
work, that is one thing I must say for him; but he left at home the
girl who took charge of the house, and she used to give herself airs.
She was justified in doing so, I suppose, poor girl; but I did not
like it at the time, and resented her manner, snob that I was. When I
had any words with Suesel I was sure to have a row with my father
afterwards, and he didn't pick his words, especially when he had drink
in him. I seemed to anger him; intellectually we were at opposite
poles. Even when cheating or worse he was a devout Lutheran, and his
servility to his superiors was only equalled by the harshness with
which he treated his underlings.
His credulity and servility were as offensive to my new dignity of
manhood as his cruelty to his subordinates or his bestial drunkenness.
For some unhappy months I was at a loose end. I was very proud,
thought no end of myself and my petty scholarly achievements; but I
didn't know what course to steer in life, what profession to adopt.
Besides, the year of military service stood between me and my future
occupation, and the mere thought of the slavery was inexpressibly
hateful to me. I hated the uniform, the livery of murder; hated the
discipline which turned a man into a machine; hated the orders which I
must obey, even though they were absurd; hated the mad unreason of
the vile, soul-stifling system. Why should I, a German, fight
Frenchmen or Russians or Englishmen? I was willing enough to defend
myself or my country if we were attacked; confident enough, too, in
courage, to believe that a militia like the Swiss would suffice for
that purpose. But I loved the French, as my teacher Heine loved them;
a great Cultur-volk, I said to myself—a nation in the first rank of
civilization; I loved the Russians, too, an intelligent, sympathetic,
kindly people; and I admired the adventurous English. Race-differences
were as delightful in my eyes as the genera-differences of flowers.
Wars and titles belonged to the dark past and childhood of humanity;
were we never to be breeched as men simply and brothers? We mortals, I
thought, should be trained to fight disease and death, and not one
another; we should be sworn to conquer nature and master her laws,
that was the new warfare in which wisdom and courage would have their
full reward in the humanization of man.
Thoughts like these lighted my darkness but the shadows were heavy.
I was at odds with my surroundings; I detested the brainless
conventions of life, the so-called aristocratic organization of it;
besides, my father did not care to support me any longer; I was a
burden to him; and in this state of intolerable dependence and unrest
my thoughts turned to America. More and more the purpose fixed itself
in me to get money and emigrate; the new land seemed to call me. I
wanted to be a writer or teacher; I wanted to see the world, to win
new experiences; I wanted freedom, love, honour, everything that young
men want, vaguely; my blood was in a ferment. . . .
It was a sordid quarrel with my father, in which he told me that at
my age he was already earning his living, which made up my mind for
me, that and a sentence of Hermann
Grimm, which happened at the time to be singing itself in my ears:—
"An all over-stretching impulse towards equality, before God and the
law, alone controls today the history of our race."
That was what I wanted, or thought I wanted—equality—
"Em ueber-Alles sich ausstreckendes Verlangen nach Gleichheit vor
Gott und vor dem Gesetze. . . ."
Not much in the phrase, the reader will say, I'm afraid; but I give
it here because at the moment it had an extraordinary effect upon me.
It was the first time to my knowledge that a properly equipped thinker
had recognized the desire for equality as a motive force at all, let
alone as the chief driving power in modern politics.
A few days after our quarrel I told my father I intended to go to
America, and asked him if he could let me have five hundred marks
($125) to take me to New York. I fixed the sum at five hundred
because he had promised to let me have that amount during my first
year in the University. I told him that I wanted it as a loan and not
as a gift, and at length I got it, for Suesel backed up my request—a
kindness I did not at all expect, which moved me to shamefaced
gratitude. But Suesel wanted no thanks; she
merely wished to get rid of me, she said; for if I stayed I
should be a drag on my father.
I travelled fourth-class to Hamburg, and in three days was on the
high seas. I was the only man of any education in the steerage, and I
kept to myself, and spent most of my time studying English. Still, I
made one or two acquaintances. There was a young fellow called Ludwig
Henschel going out as a waiter, who had worked for some years in
England, and regarded America as Tom Tiddler's ground. He loved to
show off to me and advise me; but all the while was a little proud of
my acquaintance and my scholarship, and I tolerated him chiefly
because his attitude flattered my paltry vanity.
There was a North German, too, called Raben, who was by way of
being a journalist, though he had more conceit than reading, and his
learning was to seek. He was small and thin, with washed-out, sandy
hair, grey eyes, and white eyelashes. He had a nervous staccato way of
talking; but he met one's eye boldly, and though instinct warned me to
avoid him, I knew so little of life that I took his stare for proof of
frank honesty, and felt with some remorse that my aversion wronged
him. Had I known then of him what I learned later, I'd have—but
there! Judas didn't go about branded. I think Raben dislikedme. At
first he tried to make up to me; but in an argument one day he
blundered in a Latin tag, and saw that I had detected the mistake. He
drew away from me then, and tried to carry Henschel with him; but
Ludwig knew more of life than books, and confided to me that he would
never trust a man or a woman with light eyelashes. What children we
Another acquaintance I made on the steamer was a Jew boy from
Lemburg, Isaac Glueckstein, who had no money and knew but little
English, yet whose self-confidence was in itself no mean
stock-in-trade. "In five years I shall be rich," was always on the tip
of his tongue—five years! He never looked at a book, but he was
always trying to talk English with some one or other, and at the end
of the voyage he could understand more English than I could, though he
could not read it at all, whilst I read it with ease.. . . When we
parted on the wharf he drifted out of my life; but I know that he is
now the famous Newport banker, and fabulously rich. He had only one
ambition, and went in blinkers to attain it; desire in his case being
a forecast of capacity.
We reached Sandy Hook late one evening, and ran up to New York next
day. Everything was hurry and excitement; the cheerfultone and bustle
made me feel very lonesome. When we landed I went to look for lodgings
with Henschel, who was only too glad to have me with him, and, thanks
to his command of English and the freemasonry of his craft, we soon
found a room and board in a by-street on the east side. Next day
Henschel and I started to look for work. I little thought that I was
going gaily to undreamed-of misery. If I try to recall now some of the
sufferings of that time, it is because my terrible experiences throw
light on the tragic after-story. Never did any one go out to seek work
more cheerfully or with better resolutions. I had made up my mind to
work as hard as I could; whatever I was given to do, I said to myself,
I would do it with my might, do it so that no one coming after me
should do it as well. I had tested this resolution of mine again and
again in my school life, and had always found it succeed. I had won
always, even in the Gymnasium, even in Prima. Why should not the same
resolve bring me to the front in the wider competition of life? Poor
fool that I was.
On that first morning I was up at five o'clock, and kept repeating
to myself, over and over again as I dressed, the English phrases I
should have to use in the day, till they all came trippingly to my
tongue, andwhen at six o'clock I went out into the air I was boyishly
excited and eager for the struggle. The May morning had all the beauty
and freshness of youth; the air was warm, yet light and quick. I fell
in love with the broad, sunny streets. The people, too, walked
rapidly, the street cars spun past; everything was brisk and cheerful;
I felt curiously exhilarated and light-hearted.
First of all I went to a well-known American newspaper office and
asked to see the editor. After waiting some time I was told curtly
that the editor was not in.
"When will he be in?" I questioned.
"Tonight, I guess," replied the janitor, "about eleven," with a
stare that sized me up from the crown of my head to the soles of my
feet. "If you hey a letter for him, you kin leave it."
"I have no letter," I confessed, shamefacedly.
"Oh, shucks!" he exclaimed, in utter contempt. What did "shucks"
mean? I asked myself in vain. In spite of repeated efforts I could get
no further information from this Cerberus. At last, tired of my
importunity, he slammed the window in my face, with—"go scratch your
The fool angered me; besides, why should he take pleasure in
rudeness? It flatteredhis vanity, I suppose, to be able to treat
another man with contempt.
I was a little cast down by this first rebuff, and when I went again
into the streets I found the sun hotter than I had ever known it; but
I trudged off to a German paper I had heard of, and asked again to see
the editor. The man at the door was plainly a German, so I spoke
German to him. He answered with a South German accent strong enough
to skate on—"Can't you speak United States?"
"Yes," I said, and repeated my question carefully in American.
"No, he ain't in," was the reply; "and I guess ven he comes in, he
von't vant to see you." The tone was worse than the words.
I received several similar rebuffs that first morning, and before
noon my stock of courage or impudence was nearly exhausted. Nowhere
the slightest sympathy, the smallest desire to help: on all sides
contempt for my pretensions, delight in my discomfiture.
I went back to the boardinghouse more weary than if I had done
three days' work. The midday meal, however, cheered me up a little;
my resolution came back to me and, in spite of the temptation to stay
and talk with the other lodgers, I retired to my room and began to
study. Henschel had notreturned for dinner, so I hoped that he had
found work. However that might be, it was my business to learn
English as quickly as possible, so I set myself to the task, and
memorized through the swooning heat doggedly till six o'clock, when I
went downstairs for tea. Our German schools may not be very good; but
at least they teach one how to learn languages.
After supper, as it was called, I returned to my room, which was
still like an oven, and studied in my shirt-sleeves at the open window
till nearly midnight, when Henschel burst in with the news that he had
got work in a great restaurant, and had wonderful prospects. I did not
grudge him his good luck, but the contrast seemed to make my forlorn
state more miserable. I told him how I had been received; but he had
no counsel to give, no hope; he was lost in his own good fortune. He
had taken ten dollars in tips. It all went into the "tronk" he told
me, or common stock, and the waiters and headwaiters shared it at the
end of the week, according to a fixed ratio. He would certainly earn,
he calculated, between forty and fifty dollars a week. The thought
that I, who had spent seven years in study, could not get anything at
all to do was not pleasant.
When he left me I went to bed; but I tossedabout a long time,
unable to sleep. It seemed to me that it would have been better for me
if I had been taught any trade or handicraft, instead of being given
an education which no one appeared to want. I found out afterwards
that had I been trained as a bricklayer, or carpenter, or plumber, or
house painter, I should probably have got work, as Henschel got it, as
soon as I reached New York. The educated man without money or a
profession is not much thought of in America.
Next day I got up and went to look for work as before, with just as
little success, and so the hunt continued for six or seven days, till
my first week had come to an end, and I had to pay another week's
board—five dollars— out of my scanty stock of forty-five. Eight more
weeks, I said to myself, and then—fear came to me, humiliating fear,
and gnawed at my self-esteem.
The second week passed like the first. At the end of it, however,
Henschel had a Sunday morning off, and took me with him on the
steamer to Jersey City; we had a great talk. I told him what I had
done, and how hard I had tried to get work—all in vain. He assured me
he would keep his eyes and ears open and as soon as he came across a
writer or an editor he would speak for me to himand let me know.
With this small crumb of comfort I was fain to be content. But the
outing and rest had given me fresh courage, and when we came back I
told Henschel that as I had exhausted all the newspaper offices, I
would try next day to get work on the elevated railways, or on the
streetcar lines, or in some German house where English was spoken.
Another week or two fleeted by. I had been in hundreds of offices and
met nothing but refusals, and generally rude refusals. I had called at
every tram centre, visited every railroad depot—in vain. And now
there were only thirty dollars in my purse. Fear of the future began
to turn into sour rage in me, and infect my blood. Strangely enough, a
little talk I had with Glueckstein on board the ship often came back
to me. I asked him one morning how he intended to begin to get rich.
"Get into a big office," he said.
"But how—where?" I asked.
"Go about and ask," he replied. "There is some office in New York
wants me as badly as I want it, and I'm going to find it."
This speech stuck in my memory and strengthened my determination to
persevere at all costs.
One fact I noted which is a little difficult to explain. I learned
more English in the three or four weeks I spent looking for workin
New York than in all the months, or indeed years, I had studied it.
Memory seemed to receive impressions more deeply as the tension of
anxiety increased. I spoke quite fluently at the end of the first
month, though no doubt with a German accent. I had already read a good
many novels, too, of Thackeray and others, and half a dozen of
Shakespeare's plays. Week after week slipped past; my little stock of
dollar bills dwindled away; at length I was at the end of my poor
capital, and as far from work as ever. I shall never be able to give
an idea of what I suffered in disappointment and sheer misery.
Fortunately for my reason the humiliations filled me with rage, and
this rage and fear fermented in me into bitterness which bred
all-hating thoughts. When I saw rich men entering a restaurant, or
driving in Central Park, I grew murderous. They wasted in a minute as
much as I asked for a week's work. The most galling reflection was
that no one wanted me or my labour. "Even the horses are all
employed," I said to myself, "and thousands of men who are much better
working animals than any horse are left utterly unused. What waste!"
One conclusion settled itself in me; there was something rotten in a
society which left good brains and willing hands without work.
I made up my mind to pawn a silver watch my father had given me
when we parted, and with what I got for the watch I paid my week's
board. The week passed, and still I had no work, and now I had nothing
to pawn. I knew from having talked to the boardinghouse keeper that
credit was not to be looked for. "Pay or get out" was the motto always
on his lips. Pay! Would they take blood?
I was getting desperate. Hate and rage seethed in me. I was ready
for anything. This is the way, I said to myself, society makes
criminals. But I did not even know how to commit a crime, nor where to
turn, and when Henschel came home I asked him if I could get a job as
"But you are not a waiter."
"Can't anybody be a waiter?" I asked in amazement.
"No, indeed," he replied quite indignantly. "If you had a table of
six people, and each of them ordered a different soup, and three of
them ordered one sort of fish, and the three others, three different
sorts of fish, and so on, you would not remember what had been
ordered, and could not transmit the order to the kitchen. Believe me,
it takes a good deal of practice and memory to wait well. One must
have brains to be a waiter. Do you think you could carry six soup
plates full ofsoup, on a tray, into a room, high above your head,
with other waiters running against you, without spilling a drop?"
The argument was unanswerable: "One must have brains to be a
"But couldn't I be an assistant?" I persisted.
"Then you would only get seven or eight dollars a week," he
replied; "and even an assistant, as a rule, knows the waiter's work,
though he perhaps doesn't know American."
The cloud of depression deepened; every avenue seemed closed to me.
Yet I must do something, I had no money, not a dollar. What could I
do? I must borrow from Henschel. My cheeks burned. I had always looked
on him, good fellow though he was, as an inferior, and now—yet it had
to be done. There was no other way. I resented having to do it. In
spite of myself, I bore a certain ill-will to Henschel and his
superior position, as if he had been responsible for my humiliation.
What brutes we men are. I only asked him for five dollars, just enough
to pay my week's board. He lent them willingly enough; but he did not
like being asked, I thought. It may have been my wounded sensibility;
but I grew hot with shame at having to take his money. I determined
that next day I would get work, work of any kind, and Iwould go into
the streets to get it. I scarcely slept an hour that long hot night;
rage shook me again and again, and I got up and paced my den like a
In the morning I put on my worst clothes, and went down to the
docks and asked for work. Strange to say, my accent passed unnoticed,
and stranger still, I found here some of the sympathy and kindness
which I had looked for in vain before. The rough laborers at the
docks—Irishmen, or Norwegians, or coloured men—were willing to give
me any assistance they could. They showed me where to go and ask for
work; told me what the boss was like, the best time and way to
approach him. On every hand now I found human sympathy; but for days
and days no work. How far did I fall? That week I learned enough to
know that I could pawn my Sunday suit. I got fifteen dollars on it;
paid my bill, paid Henschel, too, and went straight to a workman's
lodging-house, where I could board for three dollars a week. Henschel
begged me to stay on with him, said he would help me; but the stomach
of my pride would not stand his charity, so I gave him my address, in
case he heard of anything to suit me, and went down—to the lowest
level of decent working life.
The lodging-house at first seemed to me afoul place. It was a low
tenement house let off in single rooms to foreign workmen. You could
get your meals in it or cook your own food in your room, whichever
you liked. The dining room would hold about thirty people comfortably;
but after supper, which lasted from seven till nine, it was filled
with perhaps sixty men, smoking and talking at intervals, in a dozen
different tongues till ten or eleven o'clock. For the most part they
were day labourers, untidy, dirty, shiftless; but they showed me how
to get casual light labour at docks and offices and restaurants— the
myriad chance-jobs of a great city. Here I lived for months, spending
perhaps three days in getting a job which perhaps only employed me for
a few hours, then again finding work which lasted three or four days.
At first I suffered intensely from shame and a sense of undeserved
degradation. How had I fallen so low? I must be to blame in some way.
Wounded vanity frayed my nerves threadbare and intensified the
discomfort of my surroundings. Then came a period in which I accepted
my fate, and took everything as it came, sullenly. Usually I earned
enough each week to keep me a week and a half or two weeks; but in
mid-winter I had three or four spells of bad luck, when I fell even
below the lodging-house to the bedfor a night, hunger and hopeless
misery. It is much harder to get employment in the depth of winter
than in any other season. It would really seem as if nature came to
aid man in crushing and demoralizing the poor. You will say that this
only applies to special trades; but take the statistics of the
unemployed, and you will find them highest in mid-winter. I had never
experienced anything like the cold in New York, the awful blizzards;
the clear nights when the thermometer fell to ten and fifteen degrees
below zero, and the cold seemed to pierce one with a hundred icy
blades—life threatened at every point by nature and man more
brutal-callous than ever.
I had youth on my side, and pride, and no vices which cost money,
or I should have gone under in that bitter purgatory. More than once
I walked the streets all night long, stupefied, dazed with cold and
hunger; more than once the charity of some woman or workman called me
back to life and hope. It is only the poor who really help the poor. I
have been down in the depths, and have brought back scarcely anything
more certain than that. One does not learn much in hell, except hate,
and the out-of-work foreigner in New York is in the worst hell known
to man. But even that hell of cold gloom and lonely misery was
irradiated now and then by rays ofpure human sympathy and kindness.
How well I remember instance after instance of this. Whenever I sank
to utter destitution I used at first to frequent the Battery: the
swirling waters seemed to draw me, lulling my pain with their
unceasing threnody. There I paced up and down for hours or swung my
arms to keep warm, and was often glad that the numbing cold forced me
to run about, for somehow or other one's thoughts are not so bitter
when one moves briskly as they are when sitting still. One night,
however, I was tired out, and sat in the corner of one of the benches.
I must have slept, for I was awakened by an Irish policeman—
"Come now, get a move on ye; ye can't slape here, ye know."
I got up, but could hardly stir, I was so numbed with cold, and
still half asleep.
"Get on, get on," said the policeman, shoving me.
"How dare ye push the man!" cried a husky woman's voice; "he ain't
hurtin' the ould sate, anyway."
It was one of the prostitutes, Irish Betsy they called her, who
regarded that part of the Battery as her own particular preserve and
kept it sacred by a perfect readiness to fight for it, though its
value must have been very small.
The policeman took her interference unkindly, and in consequence
got the rough edge of Betsy's tongue. As soon as I could speak I
begged her not to quarrel for me; I would go; and I walked away. Betsy
followed and overtook me in a little while, and pushed a dollar bill
into my hand.
"I can't take money," I said, handing her the bill back.
"And why not?" she asked hotly; "you made it more than me, an' when
I want it some night I'll ask it back from ye, the divil doubt me!
It's loanin' it to ye, I am!"
Poor, dear Betsy! she had the genius of kindness in her, and
afterwards, when times went better with me, I took her to supper as
often as I could, and so learned her whole sad story. Love was her
sin, love only, and like all other generous mistakes, though it
brought punishment and contempt of others, it did not bring
self-contempt. Betsy regarded herself as one of the innocent victims
of life, and she was probably justified in this, for she kept her
goodness of heart all through.
Another scene: I had gone to one place for three or four nights,
where I got a bed for ten cents, and as I shivered out into the cold
one morning about five-thirty, the hard Yankee who kept the place
suddenly asked me—
"Have you had any breakfast?"
"What's that to you?"
"Not much; but my cawfee's hot, and if you'll have a cup, you're
The tone was careless-rough, but the glance that went with it
thawed the ice about my heart, and I followed him into his little den.
He poured out the coffee and put a steaming cup of it and some bacon
and biscuits before me, and in ten minutes I was a man again, with a
man's heart in me and a man's hope and energy.
"Do you often give breakfast away like this?" I asked him, smiling.
"Sometimes," was the answer. I thanked him for his kindness, and
was on the point of going, when he added, without even looking at
"If you haven't got work by tonight you can come here and sleep
without the dime, see!" I looked at him in astonishment, and he went
on as if trying to excuse a weakness: "When a man gets up and goes out
before six this weather, he wants work, and whoever wants work's sure
to find it sooner or later. I like to help a man," he added
I got to know Jake Ramsden well in a few weeks; he was harsh and
silent like his native Maine hills, but kindly at heart.
How I lived through the seven months of that awful winter I can't
tell; but I worriedthrough somehow, and as the spring came on I even
gathered a few dollars and went back to my old lodging-house, where I
boarded for three dollars a week, and could wash and make myself
decent. I had come to look upon it as a sort of luxurious hotel. That
winter taught me many things, and, above all, this, that however
unfortunate a man is there are others worse off and more unhappy: the
misery of mankind is as infinite as the sea. And from this one learns
sympathy and courage. I suppose on the whole the experiences did me
more good than harm, though at the moment I was inclined to believe
that they had simply coarsened my mind like the skin of my hands, and
had roughened me in a hundred ways. I see now clearly enough that
whatever I am or have been, I was made by that winter: for good and
for evil I shall bear the marks of the struggle and suffering till I
die. I wish I could believe that all the pain I had endured turned
into pity for others; but there was a residue in me of bitterness.
Another scene from this period of my life, and I'll be able to tell
how I came out of the abyss to air and sunlight once more. One
evening in the dining-room an Englishman mentioned casually that any
one could get work on the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge. I could
hardly believe my ears; Iwas still looking for steady employment,
though scarcely daring to hope for it; but he went on: "They want
men, and the pay's good: five dollars a day."
"Steady work?" I asked, in a tremor.
"Steady enough," he answered, with a scrutinizing glance at me,
"but few can stick it, working in compressed air." It appeared that he
had tried it and was not able to stand it; but that did not deter me.
I found out from him where to apply, and next morning before six
o'clock was taken on. I could scarcely contain myself for joy: at last
I had got work; but the Englishman's words the night before came back
to me: "It's few can do a shift, and in three months every one gets
the 'bends.'" A stern joy came into me; if others could stand it, I
I suppose every one knows what working in a caisson on the bed of a
river, fifty feet under water, is like. The caisson itself is an
immense bell-shaped thing of iron; the top of it is an apartment
called "the material chamber," through which the stuff dug out of the
river passes on its way to the air. High up, on the side of the
caisson is another chamber called "the air-lock." The caisson itself
is filled with compressed air to keep out the water which would
otherwise fill the caisson in an instant. The men going to work in
thecaisson first of all pass into the air-lock chamber, where they
are "compressed" before they go to work, and "decompressed" after
doing their shift.
Of course, I had been told what I should feel; but when I stepped
into the air-lock with the other men and the door was shut and one
little air-cock after another was turned on, letting in a stream of
compressed air from the caisson, I could hardly help yelling—the pain
stabbed my ears. The drums of the ears are often forcibly driven in
and broken; some men not only become deaf, but have the most intense
earache and sympathetic headache, attended with partial deafness. The
only way to meet the pressure of the air in the ear, I quickly found,
was to keep swallowing the air and forcing it up the Eustachian tubes
into the middle ear, so that this air-pad on the internal side of the
drum might lessen or prevent the painful depression of the drum.
During "compression" the blood keeps absorbing the gases of the air
till the tension of the gases in the blood becomes equal to that in
the compressed air; when this equilibrium has been reached men can
work in the caisson for hours without experiencing serious
It took about half an hour to "compress" us, and that first
half-hour was pretty hard tobear. When the pressure of the air in
the lock was equal to that in the caisson, the door from the caisson
into the air-lock opened by itself or at a touch, and we all went down
the ladder on to the river bed and began our work, digging up the
ground and passing it by lifts into the material chamber. The work
itself did not seem very hard; one got very hot, but as one worked
nearly naked it didn't matter much; in fact, I was agreeably
surprised. The noises were frightful; every time I stooped, too, I
felt as if my head would burst. But the two hours will soon pass, I
said to myself, and two shifts for five dollars is good pay; in
fifteen days I shall have saved the money I came to New York with, and
then we shall see; and so I worked on, making light of the earache and
headache, the dizziness and the infernal heat.
At length the shift came to an end, and one by one, streaming with
perspiration, we passed up again into the air-lock to learn what
"decompression" was like. We closed the door; the air-cocks were
turned on, letting out the compressed air, and at once we began to
shiver, the ordinary air was so wet and cold. It was as if a stream of
ice-water had been turned into a hot bath. I had noticed when we got
in that the others began to dress hastily; I now knew why. I hauled on
myshirt and then my other clothes as quickly as I could; but the air
grew colder and colder, damper and damper, and I began to get weak,
giddy and sick. I suppose the gases in the blood were leaving it as
the tension got less. At the end of an hour we were "decompressed,"
and we all stepped out shivering, surrounded by a wet, yellow fog,
chilled to the heart.
Think of it; we had been working hard for two hours in a high
temperature, and after our work we had this hour of "decompression,"
an hour of rapidly increasing cold and damp mist, while even the blood
pressure in our veins was constantly diminishing. What with the
"compression" and the "decompression," the two hours' shift lasted
nearly four hours, so that two shifts a day made a very fair day's
work—and such work! Most of the men took a glass of hot spirits the
moment they got out, and two or three before they went home. I drank
hot cocoa, and very glad I am that I did. It revived me as quickly as
the spirits, I think, and took away the terrible feeling of chill and
depression. Should I be able to stand the work? I could only go on
doggedly, and see how continuous work affected me.
I had something to eat, and lay about in the sunshine till I got
warm and strong again: but I had still the earache and headache,
andfelt dizzy when the time came to go to work.
The afternoon shift seemed interminable, dreadful. The compression
was not so bad; I had learned how to get the air into my ears to meet
the pressure, though whenever I forgot to breathe it in and keep the
air-pad full, I paid at once with a spasm of acute earache. Nor was
the work in the caisson unendurable; the pace set was not great: the
heat comforting. But the "decompression" was simply dreadful. I was
shivering like a rat when it was over, my teeth chartering. I could
only gasp and not speak, and I easily let myself be persuaded to take
a dram of hot spirits like the rest: but I determined that I would not
begin to drink; I would bring thick, woollen underclothes with me in
the morning, all I had got. I went home exhausted, and with such
earache and headache that I found it difficult to eat, and impossible
The horror of being unemployed drove me to work next day and the
next. How I worked I don't know; but I was recalled to thinking life
and momentary forgetfulness of pain by seeing a huge Swiss workman
fall down one morning as if he were trying to tie his arms and legs
in knots. I never saw anything so horrible as the poor, twisted,
writhing form of the unconscious giant. Beforewe could lift him on a
mud-barrow and carry him away to the hospital he was bathed in blood,
and looked to me as if he were dead. "What is it?" I cried. "The
bends," said one, and shrugged his shoulders.
We had just come out of the airlock into the room where we kept our
clothes and food and things, and I began questioning the others about
"the bends." It appeared that no one worked for more than two or three
months without having an attack. It generally laid them up for a
fortnight, and they were never the same men afterwards.
"Do the bosses pay us for the fortnight?" I asked.
"You bet!" cried a workman savagely, "they keep us at the Fifth
Avenue and pay us fer restin'."
"Can one only work three months, then?" I asked.
"I have worked more than that," said another man; "but you have got
to take care, and not drink. Then I am very thin, and can stand it
much better than any one inclined to be stout like you."
"They could make it easy enough for us," said a third; "everybody
knows that if they gave us ten thousand feet of fresh air an hour in
their damned caissons we could stand it allright;* but they only give
us a measly thousand feet. It isn't men's work they buy at five
dollars a day, but men's lives, damn them!"
* This workman was right. The illness of men working in
caissons, which was formerly over 80 percent in every three months
when the air supplied was about 1500 cubic feet an hour, has now
dropped to 8 percent since the fresh air supply has been increased to
10,000 cubic feet an hour.—Editor's note.
I noticed then that my mates had the sullenness of convicts. It was
rare that one spoke to his fellows; in silence we laboured; in silence
we went to our work, and as soon as we came up into God's air and
sunlight again, each man sought his home in silence. The cloud fell on
me; I was not so sure as I had been at first that I should escape the
common lot. After all, strong as I was, I was not so strong as that
young Swiss whom I could still see, twisting about on the ground like
a snake that has been trodden on. However, I determined not to think,
and went to my shifts again as if nothing had happened.
I had been working in compressed air for about a fortnight when I
saw a dreadful example of man's careless hardihood. A young American
had been working with us for two or three days. This afternoon he
wanted to get out, he said, without going through the "decompression,"
in order to keep an appointment with his girl, so he went up on top of
the mud lift, into the material chamber andso into the open air in
perhaps five minutes. When we came out, an hour later, after having
passed through the air-lock, we found him stretched on the floor of
the waiting room with a doctor by his side. He was unconscious, his
breathing noisy and difficult, his lips puffed out, blowing froth. He
died in a few minutes after we came into the room. It seemed dreadful
to me; but not so dreadful as "the bends." After all, the man knew, or
ought to have known, that he was running a great risk, and death
seemed better to me than that excruciating physical torture; but
somehow or other these two occurrences sickened me with the work. I
determined to go on, if I could, till the end of the month, and then
stop, and that is what I did.
Before the end of the month I began to feel weak and ill: I could
not sleep, save by fits and starts, and I was practically never free
from pain; still, I stuck it out for a month, and then with a hundred
and forty dollars saved I took a fortnight's rest.
I spent every afternoon I could with Henschel; he had generally
three or four hours free, and we went across to Jersey City or to
Hoboken, bathing, or to Long Island, somewhere in the open air, and
sunshine. At the end of the fortnight, I felt nearly as fir as ever,
but I still have earaches and headachesoccasionally to remind me of
the Brooklyn Bridge. I did not go back to it; I had done my share of
underground work, I thought; I would not take the risk again. Even the
engineers, who had no hard manual labour to do, and earned four
hundred dollars a month for merely directing, could not look on in
that air for more than two hours a day. It was the men doing the
hardest work who were expected to labour for two shifts a day— the
hardest work, double hours, and smallest wage. With the quick rebound
of youth, I soon consoled myself; after all I had done something and
earned something, and after my fortnight's rest I was about again, as
eager as ever to find work, but curiously soft after my fortnight's
A few days later I heard of another job, a better one this time,
though it was hard work and not likely to be permanent. Still, it
might be a beginning, I told myself, and hurried to the place. They
were taking up a street near the docks to lay a new gaspipe, and the
work was being done by an Irish contractor. He looked at me shrewdly—
"Ain't done much work, have you?"
"Nor lately," I replied; "but I will do as much as I can, and in a
week as much as any man.
"Will you turn in now for half a day?" he asked, "and then we'll
It was about nine o'clock in the morning. I knew he was cheating
me, but I replied, "Certainly," and my heart lifted to hope. In ten
minutes I had a pick in my hand, and space to use it. God, the joy of
it, steady work at last in the open air! Once more I was a man, and
had a place in the world. But the joy did not last long. It was the
beginning of July and furiously hot; I suppose I went at the work too
hard, for in half an hour I was streaming with perspiration; my
trousers were wet through, and my hands painfully sore; the
fortnight's rest had made them soft. One of the gang, an oldish man,
took it upon himself to advise me. He was evidently Irish; he looked
at me with cunning grey eyes, and said—
"You don't need to belt that pick in as if you were going to reach
Australy. Take it aisy, man, and leave some work for us tomorrow."
The others all laughed. I found the advice excellent, and began to
copy my fellows, using skill and sparing strength. When I returned to
work after dinner my back felt as if it had been broken; but I hung on
till night, and got a word of modified approval from the boss.
"For the first week I'll give you two dollars a day," he grunted;
"ye're not worth more with thim hands."
I could not bargain: I dared not.
"All right," I said sullenly.
"Be here at six sharp," he went on; "if ye're late five minutes
ye'll be docked half-a-day; mind that now."
I nodded my comprehension, and he went his way.
I was very tired as I walked home, but glad, glad at heart. I had
the satisfaction of feeling that I had earned my living for the day,
and a bit over, with pick and shovel and surely there was enough work
of that sort to be done in America. In youth one is an optimist and
finds it hard to nurse bitterness; it is so much easier to hope than
to hare. One week's work, I calculated, would keep me for three or
four weeks, and this fact held in it a world of satisfaction.
I had a great evening meal that night, and drank innumerable cups
of so-called coffee, and then went to bed and slept from about seven
till five next morning, when I awoke feeling very well indeed, though
horribly, painfully stiff. That would soon wear off, I told myself;
but the worst of it was that my hands were in a shocking stare;
blisters had formed all over them and here and there had broken, and I
could not use them without pain. The next day's work was excruciating,
and my hands were bleeding freely beforenoon; but the old Irishman
in the dinner hour bathed them with whiskey, which certainly dried up
the wounds. I felt as if he had poured liquid fire over them, and the
smart held throughout the afternoon. For the next three or four days
the work was very painful; my hands seemed to get worse rather than
better; but when they became so sore that I had to change tools as
often as I possibly could, they began to mend, and by the end of the
week I could do my day's stunt without pain or fatigue worth
The job lasted three weeks, and when it was over the boss gave me
his address in Brooklyn and told me if I wanted work he would give it
me. I was the only man he picked out in this way. My heart rose again.
I thanked him. After all, I said to myself as I went home, it's worth
while doing a bit more than other men; one gets work easier. My new
job was roadmaking, and I was only one of a hundred men employed. At
the end of a few weeks the boss said to me suddenly—
"Shure, you ought to be ashamed to work wid your hands, and you an
edjicated man! Why don't you take a sub-contract?"
"How can I get a sub-contract?" I asked.
"I'll give you one," said he. "See here now; I get five dollars a
yard for this road,and the stone found me; if you want to rake fifty
yards or a hundred yards I'll give them to yez at four dollars a yard;
a man must make a little on a contract," he added cunningly, "and your
profir'll be big."
I was very grateful to him, I remember, just as grateful as if he
had been trying to do me a kindness, which was certainly not the case.
"But how am I to pay men?" I asked.
"That's your business," he replied indifferently. I hesitated a
little, but next day I contracted to take a hundred yards and went to
work to find labourers. Strange to say it was hard to get men; I could
only find casuals—here today and gone tomorrow—and they were
anything but energetic. I made up for their laziness by working double
hours and by the end of the week I had got five or six fairly good men
working for me. After I had completed the first fifty yards of work I
was astounded at my profit. I had to pay about a hundred dollars for
labour, and had a hundred dollars for myself.
Naturally I wanted as much of this work as I could get, and the boss
let me have two hundred yards more; but now I had worse luck. It was
the end of October, and we had heavy rains, then it froze hard and
snow fell. I soon found that I should have to drive themen or scamp
the work, or be content with little or no profit. I hardly made as
much over the next two hundred yards as I had made over the first
fifty. Still, my month's work had yielded over a hundred dollars net
profit, and with that I was content.
One day, talking with the old Irishman who had worked with me on my
first job, and who was now working for me, I happened to say that if
the frost held I should lose money.
"Hwat's that ye say?" he asked suspiciously.
"It costs me four dollars a yard, now," I explained ruefully.
"An' you gettin' six an' sivin," he retorted with derision.
"Four," I corrected.
"Thin you've bin chated," he concluded; "the ould un's gettin'
I thought he was simply talking loosely, and paid no further
attention to him. Still I tried to get a little better contract out of
the boss; I failed, however, completely; it was four dollars a yard,
take it or leave it, with him.
I took another two hundred yards at this price; but now luck ran
dead against me. It froze all through that wretched December and
January, froze hard, and when we tore up the road to lay the stones
one day, we had to do the work all over again the next day.At the
end of the month's work I had lost fifty dollars, though I myself had
worked sixteen hours a day. I remonstrated with the boss, told him it
was not good enough to keep on at such a rate; but he would not let me
have a cent more than my contract price, and swore by all his gods
that he was only getting five dollars himself, and could not afford to
allow me a cent more for the weather. "We have all to take the scats
with the good spuds," he said.
Now that I knew exactly what the work cost, I could not believe
him, so I took a day off and went with the old Irishman to find out if
he was telling the truth. A few drinks in an Irish saloon, a talk with
a captain of Tammany, and I soon discovered that the contract was
given to the boss at ten dollars a yard; ten, though it could have
been done profitably for five. I found out more even than that. My
boss had sent in a claim for extra money because of the bad weather,
and had been allowed three dollars a yard on the work I had done in
the last two months. Then I understood clearly how men get rich. Here
was an uneducated Irishman making ten thousand dollars a year out of
the city contract. True, he had to give something to the Tammany
officials in bribes, but he always "made a poor mouth," as they
said,pretending to be hard up, and in the year, I am certain, never
disbursed more than five hundred dollars in palm oil.
I found all this out in one forenoon. I thanked the old Irish
labourer, and treated him, and then went off to call on Henschel and
spend the afternoon with him. He, too, wanted to see me. He had got to
know the editor of the "Vorwaerts," he told me, the Socialist paper in
New York, and he asked me to go up and see Dr. Goldschmidt, the
I was in the right humour. I could not bear to think of going on
working for that swindling Irish contractor; nor could I make up my
mind to take the advice of the old Irishman, who said, "Now you have
the truth, force the swindling old baste to give you sivin dollars a
yard, or threaten him wid the papers you'll write to; that'll frighten
I didn't want to frighten the boss, nor would I take any part in his
thieving. I merely wished to be quit of him and to forget the whole
sordid story. After all, I had two or three hundred dollars behind me
now, and my experiences cried to be given form and to be set out in
I went with Henschel to see Dr. Goldschmidt, and found him to be a
pleasant man, a Jew, of good education, and with a certainkindliness
in him that attracted me. He asked me what I proposed to write about.
I said I could give my experiences as an out-of-work or as a
day-labourer with pick and shovel, or I could write on the Socialism
of Plato. I had had this subject in mind when I first visited the
newspaper offices months before. Now Plato and his Republic sounded
ridiculous in my ears; I had fresher fish to fry. Goldschmidt was
evidently of the same opinion; for he laughed at the suggestion of
Plato, and as he laughed, it suddenly became clear to me that I had
gone a long way in thought during my year in New York. All at once I
realized that my experiences as an emigrant had made a man of me; that
those twelve or fifteen months of fruitless striving to get work had
turned me into a reformer if not yet into a rebel.
"Let me write on what I have gone through," I said finally to
Goldschmidt. "After all, the pick and shovel are as interesting as
sword and hauberk, and the old knights who went forth to fight dragons
had nothing to meet so fearful as compressed air."
"Compressed air?" he caught me up. "What do you mean? Tell me about
He had certainly the journalist scent for a novelty and sensation,
so I told him my story; but I could not talk merely about my work
inthe caissons. I told him nearly everything I have set down here,
and, worst of all, I gave him the lessons first, and not the
incidents, in my serious German way; told him that manual work is so
hard, so exhausting in the American climate, that it turns one into a
soulless brute. One is too tired at night to think, or even take any
interest in what is going on in the world. The workman who reads an
evening paper is rare. The Sunday paper is his only mental food; on
weekday she labors and eats and then turns in. The conditions of
manual labor in the States are breeding a proletariat ready for
revolt. Every man needs some rest in life, some hours of enjoyment.
But the laborer has no time for recreation. He dare not rake a day's
respite; for if he does he may lose his job, and probably have more
leisure than he wants.
My view of the position seemed to strike the doctor as interesting;
but my experiences in the caissons clinched the matter.
"Write all the out-of-work part," he said, "and end up with your
days in the caisson. I know something about that job. The contractors
are to get sixty million dollars for it, and I suppose it'll not cost
twenty; but I'll look it all out and back your story up with some hard
"But does anyone make two hundred percent on a contract?" I
asked, forgetting for the moment my Irish boss who wanted at least a
two-fold profit and as much more as he could get by lying.
"Certainly," replied Goldschmidt. "There are only a few competitors,
if any, for a big job, and the two or three men who are willing and
able to take it on, are apt to open their mouths pretty wide."
Bit by bit, it was being forced in on me that our competitive system
is an organized swindle.
I went off determined to write a telling series of articles. While
talking to Goldschmidt I had made up my mind not to go back to the
road-making; it was all brainless, uninteresting, stupefying to me,
and the corruption in it horribly distasteful. An hour's talk with an
educated man had turned me against it forever. I hated even to meet
that lying boss again. I would not meet him. I ached to get back to my
books and clean clothes and studious habits of life.
I took rooms up town, but on the east side, very simple rooms,
which cost me, with breakfast and tea, about ten dollars a week, and
went to work with my pen. I soon found that labor with the pick and
shovel in the bitter weather had made it almost impossible for me to
use the pen at all. My brain seemed tired,words came slowly, and I
soon grew sleepy. Thinking, too, is a function that needs exercise, or
it becomes rusty. But in a week or two I wrote more freely, and in a
month had finished a series of German articles embodying my
experiences as a "tenderfoot," and sent them to Goldschmidt. He liked
them, said they were excellent, and gave me a hundred dollars for
them. When I received his letter I felt that at long last I had come
into my own and found my proper work. The articles made a sort of
sensation, and I got two hundred dollars more for them in book form.
For the next three or four months it was easy enough by going about
New York and keeping my eyes open to get subjects for two or three
articles a week. I didn't earn much by them, it is true; but, after my
experiences, twenty to twenty-five dollars a week were more than
enough for all my needs.
Moreover, I felt that I had solved the problem. I could always earn
a living now one way or another by pick and shovel, if not by pen. I
was to that extent at least master of my fate.
One day going into the office of the "Vorwaerts," whom should I run
across but Raben. Of course we adjourned immediately to a German
restaurant nearby, and ordered a German lunch, and many Seidels of
Germanbeer. He had been working steadily, it appeared, ever since he
left the ship, but at low rates. He wanted to go to Chicago, he told
me, where the pay was better, only he had a wonder of a girl whom he
could not bear to leave. She was a perfect peach, he added, and I
noticed for the first time that his lips were sensual, thick.
While he was speaking it came to me that I should like to go West,
too, and break fresh ground. Those accursed months when I tried vainly
to get work had left in me a dislike of New York. Deep down in me
there was a fund of resentment and bitterness.
"I should like to go to Chicago," I said to Raben. "Could you give
me an introduction to anyone?"
"Sure," he said, "to August Spies, the owner and editor of the
'Arbeiter Zeitung.' He is a first-rate fellow, a Saxon, too, a
Dresdener. He would be sure to take you. All you South Germans hang
I called for pen and paper, and got him to write me a letter of
introduction to Spies then and there.
The same evening, I think, I went to see Dr Goldschmidt, and asked
him if I might write him a weekly letter from Chicago, about labor
matters, and he arranged that he would take one a week from me, at
tendollars a letter; but he told me that I must make it a good two
columns—two or three thousand words for ten dollars—the pay was not
high; but it ensured me against poverty, and that was the main thing.
On the morrow I packed my little trunk, and started for Chicago. . . .
THE long train journey and the great land spaces seemed to
push my New York life into the background. I had been in America
considerably over a year. I had gone to New York a raw youth, filled
with vague hopes and unlimited ambitions; I was leaving it a man, who
knew what he could do, if he did not know yet what he wanted. By the
by, what did I want? A little easier life and larger pay—that would
come, I felt—and what else? I had noticed going about the streets of
New York that the women and girls were prettier, daintier, better
gowned than any I had been accustomed to see in Germany. Many of
them, too, were dark, and dark eyes drew me irresistibly. They seemed
proud and reserved, and didn't appear to notice me, and, strange to
say, that attracted me as much as anything. Now that the struggle for
existence left me a little breathing space, I would try, I said to
myself, to get to know some pretty girl, and make up to her. How is
it, I wonder, that life always gives you your heart's desire? You may
fashion your ideal to your fancy; ask for what eyes andskin and
figure you like; if you have only a little patience, life will bring
your beauty to the meeting. All our prayers are granted in this world;
that is one of the tragedies of life. But I did not know that at the
time. I simply said to myself that now I could speak American
fluently, I would make love to some pretty girl, and win her. Of
course I had to find out, too, all about the conditions of labour in
Chicago, for that was what Goldschmidt wanted in my weekly articles,
and I must learn to speak and write American perfectly. Already in my
thoughts I had begun to call myself an American, so strongly did the
great land with its careless freedom and rude equality attract me.
There was power in the mere name, and distinction as well. I would
become an American, and—my thoughts returned on themselves—and a
girl's face fashioned itself before my eyes, dainty-dark, provocative,
willful. . . .
My year's work in the open air had made me steel-strong. I was
strung tense now with the mere thought of a kiss, of an embrace. I
looked down and took stock of myself. I was roughly, but not badly
dressed; just above the middle height, five feet nine or so; strongly
built, with broad shoulders; my hair was fair, eyes blue, a small
moustache was just beginning to show itself as golden down. Shewould
love me, too; she . . . the blood in me grew hot; my temples
throbbed. I rose and walked through the car to throw off my emotion;
but I walked on air, glancing at every woman as I passed. I had to
read to compose myself, and even then her face kept coming
between me and the printed page.
I reached Chicago late in the evening, after a forty hours' journey.
I was not tired, and in order to save expense I went at once in search
of Spies, after leaving my baggage at the depot. I found him at the
office of the "Arbeiter Zeitung." The office was much smaller and
meaner than Dr. Goldschmidt's; but Spies made an excellent impression
on me. He was physically a fine, well set up fellow, a little taller
than I was, though perhaps not very strong. He was well educated, and
spoke English almost as fluently as his mother tongue, though with a
slight German accent. His face was attractive; he had thick, curly
brown hair, dark blue eyes, and long moustaches; he wore a pointed
beard, too, which seemed to accentuate the thin triangle of his face.
I found out, bit by bit, that he was very emotional and sentimental.
His chin was round and soft, like a girl's. His actions were always
dictated by his feelings at the moment. He met me with a frank
kindliness which was charming; said that hehad read my articles in
"Vorwaerts," and hoped I would do some work for him. "We are not
rich," he said, "but I can pay you something, and you must grow up
with the paper," and he laughed.
He proposed that we should go out and sup; but when I told him I
wanted lodgings he exclaimed: "That fits exactly. There is a
Socialist, George Engel, who keeps a toyshop between here and the
station. He told me he wanted a lodger. He has two good rooms, I
believe, and I am sure you'll like him. Suppose we go and see him." I
assented, and we set off, my companion talking the while with engaging
frankness of his own plans and hopes. As soon as I saw Engel I knew we
should get on together. He had a round, heavy, good-natured face; he
was perhaps forty-five or fifty years of age; his brown hair was
getting thin on top. He showed me the rooms, which were clean and
quiet. He was evidently delighted to talk German, and proposed to take
my checks and bring my baggage from the depot, and thus leave me free.
I thanked him in our Bavarian dialect, and his eyes filled with tears.
"Ach du liebster Junge!" he cried, and shook me by both hands. I
felt I had won a friend, and turning to Spies said, "Now we can sup
Though it was getting late, he took me off at once to a German
restaurant, where we had a good meal. Spies was an excellent
companion; he talked well, was indeed, on occasion, both interesting
and persuasive. Besides, he knew the circumstances of the foreign
workers in Chicago better than perhaps any one. He had genuine pity,
too, for their wants and faults, sincere sympathy with their
"Whether they come from Norway or Germany or South Russia," he told
me, "they are cheated for the first two or three years by everyone. In
fact, till they learn to speak American freely they are mere prey. I
want to start a sort of Labour Bureau for them, in which they can get
information in their mother tongue on all subjects that concern them.
It is their own ignorance which makes them slaves—pigeons to be
"Is the life very hard?" I asked.
"In winter dreadfully hard," he replied. "About thirty-five per cent
of working men are always out of employment; that entails a sediment
of misery, and our winters here are terrible. . . .
"There are some dreadfully unfortunate cases. We had a woman last
week who came to our meeting to ask for help. She had three young
children. Her husband had been employed in Thompson's cheapjewelery
manufactory. He earned good wages, and they were happy. One day the
fan broke and he breathed the fumes of nitric acid. He went home
complaining of a dry throat and cough; seemed to get better in the
night. Next morning was worse; began to spit thin, yellow stuff The
wife called in a doctor. He prescribed oxygen to breathe. That night
the man died. We got up a subscription for her, and I went to see the
doctor. He told me the man had died of breathing nitrous acid fumes;
it always causes congestion of the lungs, and is always fatal within
forty-eight hours, There the wife is now, destitute, with three
children to feed, and all because the law does not compel the employer
to put up a proper fan. Life's brutal to the poor. . . .
"Besides, American employers discharge men ruthlessly, and the
police and magistrates are all against us foreigners. They are getting
worse and worse, too. I don't know where it'll all end," and he went
silent for a time. "Of course you're a Socialist," he resumed, "and
will come to our meetings, and join our Verein."
"I don't know that you would call me a Socialist," I replied; "but
my sympathies are with the workmen. I'd like to come to your
Before we parted he had taken me round,and shown me the
lecture-room, which was quite close to his newspaper office, and given
me a little circular about the meetings for the month. He left me
finally at Engel's door, with the hope that we might meet again soon.
It must have been nearly midnight when I got into the house. Engel
was waiting up for me, and we had a long talk in our homely Bavarian
dialect. I told him it was my rule never to speak German; but I could
not resist the language of my boyhood. Engel, too, had read my
articles in "Vorwaerts," and was delighted with them; he was entirely
self-taught, but not without a certain shrewdness in judging men; a
saving, careful soul, with an immense fund of pure human kindness at
the heart of him—a clear pool of love. We parted great friends, and I
went to bed full of hope and had an excellent night.
Next morning I went about looking at Chicago; then I paid a visit
to the "Arbeiter Zeitung" for some statistics which I wanted for my
New York article, and so the day drifted by.
I had been in Chicago a week when I went to the first of the
Socialist meetings. The building was a mere wooden shanty at the back
of some brick buildings. The room was a fairly large one, would seat
perhaps two hundred and fifty people; it looked bare andwas simply
furnished with wooden benches and a low platform on which stood a
desk and a dozen plain chairs. Fortunately the weather was very
pleasant, and we could sit with open windows; it was about
mid-September, if I remember rightly. The speakers could hold forth,
too, without being overheard, which was perhaps an advantage.
The first speaker rather amused me. He was presented by Spies as
Herr Fischer, and he spoke a sort of German-American jargon that was
almost incomprehensible. His ideas, too, were as inchoate as his
speech. He believed, apparently, that the rich were rich simply
because they had seized on the land, and on what he called "the
instruments of production," which enabled them to grind the faces of
the poor. He had evidently read "Das Kapital" of Marx, and little or
nothing more. He did not even understand the energy generated by the
open competition of life. He was a sort of half-baked student of
European Communism, with an intense hatred of those whom he called
"the robber rich."
Fischer probably felt that he was not carrying his audience with
him, for he suddenly left off his sweeping denunciations of the
wealthy, and began to deal with the action of the police in Chicago.
In handling the actual he was a different man. He told us how
thepolice had begun by dispersing meetings in the streets under the
pretext that they interfered with the traffic; how they went on to
break up meetings held on lots of waste ground. At first, too, the
police were content, he said, to hustle the speaker from his
improvised platform, and quietly induce the crowd to move on and break
up; lately they had begun to use their clubs. Fischer remembered every
meeting, and gave chapter and verse for his statements. It was not for
nothing that he had worked as a reporter on the "Arbeiter Zeitung." He
had evidently too, an uncommonly vivid sense of fairness and justice,
and was exasperated by what he called despotic authority. He spoke now
in the exact spirit of the American Constitution. Free speech to him
was a right inherent in man. He declared that he for one would never
surrender it, and called upon his audience to go to the meetings armed
and resolved to maintain a right which had never before been
questioned in America. This provoked a tempest of cheers, and Fischer
sat down abruptly. His argument was unimpeachable; but he did not
realize that native-born Americans would claim for themselves rights
and privileges which they would not accord to foreigners.
The next speaker was a man of a different stamp, a middle-aged Jew
called Breitmayer,who spoke in favour of subscription for Spies'
Labor Bureau. He told how the laborers were exploited by the
employers, and pointed his discourse with story after story. This sort
of talk I could appreciate. I had been exploited, too, and I joined
heartily in the applause which punctuated the speech. To Breitmayer
humanity was separated into two camps—the "haves" and the
"have-nots," or, as he put it, the masters and the slaves, the wasters
and the wanters. He never raised his voice, and some of his talk was
effective; but even Breitmayer could not keep off the burning subject.
A friend of his had been struck down by a policeman, in the last
meeting; he was still in hospital, and, he feared, permanently
injured. What crime had Adolph Stein committed, what wrong had he
done, to be maltreated in this way? Breitmayer, however, ended up
tamely. He was in favour of passive resistance as long as possible
(some hissing); "as long as possible," he repeated emphatically, and
the repetition provoked cheer upon cheer. My heart beat fast with
excitement; evidently the people were ripe for active resistance to
what they regarded as tyrannical oppression.
After Breitmayer sat down there was a moment's pause, and then a
man moved forward from the side, and stood before themeeting. He was
a slight, ordinary, nondescript person, with a green shade over his
eyes. Spies went up beside him, and explained that Herr Leiter had
been injured in a boiler explosion a year before; he had been taken to
the hospital and treated; had been discharged two days ago, almost
totally blind. He had gone to his former employers, Messrs. Roskill,
the famous soap manufacturers, of the East Side, who had two thousand
hands, and asked for some light job. They would give him nothing,
however, and he now appealed to friends and brother workmen for help
in his misfortune. He could see dimly at two or three yards. If he had
a couple of hundred dollars he could open a shop for all sorts of
soap, and perhaps make a living. At any rate, with the help of his
wife, he would not starve, if he had a shop. All this Spies told in an
even, unemotional voice. A collection was made, and he announced that
one hundred and eighty-four dollars had been collected. One hundred
and eighty-four dollars from that small gathering of working-men and
women—it was splendidly generous.
"I dank you very mooch," said Herr Leiter, with a catch in his
voice, and retired on his wife's arm to his seat. The helpless,
hopeless pathos of the shambling figure; the patience with which he
bore the awful, unmeriteddisaster, brought quick, hot tears to my
eyes. Mr. Roskill could spare nothing out of his millions to this
soldier broken in his service. What were these men made of that they
did not revolt? Had I been blinded down there under water at Brooklyn
I would have found words of fire. Roskill had done nothing for him.
Was it credible? I pushed my way to the platform and asked Leiter in
German: "Nichts hat Er gethan—Nichts? Nichts gegeben?" ("Did Roskill
do nothing? Give you nothing?")
"Nichts; er sagte dass es ihm Leid thaete." ("Nothing; he said that
he was sorry') My hands fell to my sides. I began to understand that
resignation was a badge of servitude, that such sheepish patience was
inherited. In spire of reasons, my blood boiled, and pity shook me;
something must be done. Suddenly Breitmayer's words came back to me,
"passive resistance as long as possible." The limit must be nearly
reached, I thought. I could not stay on at the meeting. I had to get
by myself to think, with the stars above me, so I made my way to the
door. Blind at six and twenty, and turned out to starve, as one would
not turn out a horse or a dog. It was maddening.
To judge by the speeches, the working men in Chicago were even
worse off than theworking-men in New York. Why? I could not help
asking myself: why? Probably because there was not so much accumulated
wealth, and an even more passionate desire to get rich quickly.
"Blind and no compensation, no help," the words seemed to be
stamped on my brain in letters of fire. It was the thought of Leiter
that made me join the Socialist Club two days later.
I had arranged with Spies to go about visiting the various workmen's
clubs, and I went to several of them for the sake of that weekly
article to New York, and found what I expected to find. The wages of
the working man were slightly higher than in New York, but wherever
it was possible to cheat him he was cheated, and the proportion of
unemployed was larger than it was on Manhattan Island.
After finishing my article on Leiter that week for "Vorwaerts," I
went down the Michigan Boulevard and walked along the Lake Shore. The
broad expanse of water had a fascination for me, and I liked the great
boulevard and the splendid houses of brownstone or brick, each
standing in its own grassy lawn. After I had walked for an hour, I
returned by the Boulevard and had an interesting experience. A hired
brougham hadrun into a buggy, or the buggy had run into the hired
carriage, which was turning out of a cross street; at any rare, there
was a great row; the buggy was badly broken up and a couple of
policemen were attending to the horses. A crowd gathered quickly.
"What is the matter?" I asked of my neighbour, who happened to be a
girl. She turned. "I don't know; I've only just come," and she lifted
her eyes to mine.
Her face took my breath away; it was the face of my dreams—the
same dark eyes, and hair, the same brows; the nose was a little
thinner, perhaps, the outlines a little sharper, but the confident,
willful expression was there, and the dark, hazel eyes were divine.
Feeling that confession was the best sort of introduction, I told her
I was a stranger in Chicago; I had just come from New York; I hoped
she'd let me know her. It was so lonely for me. As we turned away from
the crowd she said she thought I was a foreigner; there was something
strange in my accent. I confessed I was a German, and pleading that it
was a German custom to introduce oneself, I begged her to allow me to
do so, adding in German fashion, "My name is Rudolph Schnaubelt." In
reply she told me her name, Elsie Lehman, quite prettily.
"Are you a German, too?"
"Oh, no!" she said; "my father was a German; he died when I was
quite little," and then she went on to say that she lived alone with
her mother, who was a Southerner. I hoped I might accompany her to her
house; she accepted my escort with a prim, "Certainly."
As we walked we talked about ourselves, and I soon learned a good
deal about Elsie. She was a typewriter and shorthand writer, and was
engaged during the day with Jansen McClurg and Company, the
book-sellers, but was free every evening after seven o'clock. I seized
the chance; would she come to the theater some night? She replied,
flushing, that she'd be delighted; confessed, indeed, that she liked
the theatre better than any other amusement except dancing, so I
arranged to take her to the theatre the very next night.
I parted with her at the door of the lodging house where she and
her mother lived; she asked me in to make her mother's acquaintance,
but I begged her to let me come next night instead, for I was in my
working clothes. I can still see her standing at the top of the steps
as she said "good night" to me—the slight, lissom figure, the
provocative dainty face.
As I went away I wondered how shemanaged to dress so well. She
looked a lady; she was both neat and smart. How could she do it on her
wages? I did not know then as I knew afterwards that she had a natural
gift for whatever was at once becoming and distinguished, but the
provocative beauty of her ran in my blood like wine, and before I went
home I bought a couple of papers in order to see exactly what theatre
to select. I suppose because I am a German and sentimental, and born
with an instinctive respect for women, I picked out the most proper
play I could find; it was "As You Like It," with a distinguished
actress as Rosalind.
Next evening I dressed myself as well as I could in dark clothes
with a silk tie in a loose bow, and went round to fetch Elsie at seven
o'clock. I had been thinking of her the greater part of the day,
wondering if she liked me as I liked her, wondering if I might ever
kiss her, catching my breath at the thought, for the divine humility
of love was upon me, and Elsie seemed too dainty precious for
It was her mother who met me when I called, a washed-out little
woman, with tired, dark eyes, and white linen things at her neck and
wrists, and a faintly querulous voice. She told me that Elsie would be
down "right away," that she had "only just got back from the store,"
and was "fixin' up."
We sat down and talked, or rather she drew me out, perhaps without
object, about myself and my prospects. I was quite willing to speak,
for I was rather proud of my position as a writer. She seemed to have
no illusions on the subject; writing, she said, "was right easy work,"
but she guessed it didn't pay very well, for "there was a writer in
the boarding house where we lived before who used to borrow round from
everybody and never paid anybody back. He did meetings and things"
from which I gathered he was a reporter. While we were still chatting
about the impecunious and unscrupulous reporter, Elsie came in and
took my senses captive.
She was dressed in a sort of light corn-colored tussore, and had a
crimson rose in her dark hair, just above the ear. She had thrown on a
scarf of a deeper yellow as headdress—she had the coloring, and all
the dainty grace of a flower. I told her the dress was like a
daffodil, and she bowed to the compliment with smiling lips and eyes.
It was quite fine and warm, so we walked to the theater. Once or twice
my arm touched hers as we walked, and new pulses came to life in me.
What an evening we had! I had read the play, but had never seen it,
and it was allenchantment to me. Between the acts Elsie told me that
she was enjoying it too; but she objected to Rosalind's dress. "It
wasn't decent," she said, "no nice woman would wear it," and she
scoffed at the idea that Orlando could take Rosalind for a boy. "He
must have known her," she declared, "unless he was a gump; no man
could be so silly." She did not like Jacques particularly, and the
court in the forest seemed to her ridiculous.
Before the evening was over she had made on me the impression of a
definite, strong personality. Her beauty was fragile, flowerlike,
appealing; her nature curiously masterful-imperious. To me she has
always since been touched with something of the magic of Rosalind;
for Elsie, too, was hardly used by fortune, and I liked her the better
because she was far stronger than Rosalind, far more determined to
make her own way in this rough world.
She liked the lights and the crowd and the pretty dresses, and
showed perfect self-confidence.
"I love the theatre," she cried. "What a pity it is not real, not
"More real," I said, in my didactic German way; "it should be the
quintessence of life."
Elsie looked at me in astonishment.
"Sometimes you're funny," she said, andlaughed out loud, I could
not make out why. As we came away after the theatre was over, we
passed a tall, dark girl, not nearly so good-looking as Elsie, with a
row of magnificent pearls round her neck.
"Homely, wasn't she?" said Elsie to me, as we went out. "But did you
see her pearls and that lovely dress?"
"No," I replied, "I didn't notice it particularly."
She described it to me, said she would like such a dress; she just
loved to imagine she was rich. "When I see a pretty dress," she went
on, "I fancy I am wearing it for the rest of the day, and I'm quite
happy. Happiness is half make-believe, don't you think?"
"A good part of it," I replied, wondering at her wisdom. "And
make-believe is great fun," I went on, "but a little hard to practice
as one grows older."
"You talk like Methuselah," she retorted, "but you're not more than
"Oh yes, I am," I shot back; but I didn't tell her how near she had
come to the truth.
When we got to her door the house was all dark; but her mother, she
said, would be sure to be sitting up for her. Quite naturally, as we
said "goodnight," she lifted up her face to me. I put my arms round
her eagerly and kissed her on the lips. I made anappointment for the
next evening to take her for a walk, and went home with the feeling of
her body on my arms, and hands, and the fragrance of her warm lips on
Engel had not gone to bed; he never did go to bed till all hours. I
could not talk to him about Elsie, so I told him a little about the
play, and then hastened to my room. I wanted to be alone, so as to
re-live the strange, sweet sensations. Again and again I put my arms
round her slender, supple waist, and kissed her lips; they were
silken-soft; but the imagining only set my blood aflame, and that was
not needed. At last I got a book and read myself to sleep.
From time to time after that first night Elsie and I met. When the
evening was fine we took long walks; her favorite walk was Michigan
Boulevard, or the Park. "There," she said, "life was graceful and
beautiful." I learned many things from her. I think she showed me the
aristocratic view of life; she certainly taught me how to speak
American like an American. In some way or other she increased my
desire to become an American. She excited my ambition, too; wanted to
know why I did not write for the American papers instead of for the
ugly little German papers that no one cared anything about. In all
cases she was on the side of the prosperousand the powerful, against
the dispossessed and the poor.
But she liked me, and we were boy and girl together, and sometimes
we got beyond the sordid facts of existence. She used to let me kiss
her, and as she got accustomed to going out with me, she yielded now
and then for a moment or so, at least in spirit, to my desire. I had
not known her for a week when I wanted to become engaged to her, verlobt, after the serious German fashion, and I thought I chose
my time for the proposal very cunningly. We were on a bench looking
out over the Great Lake, silence about us, and the sunlight a golden
pathway on the waters. We had been seated side by side for some time.
At length I grew bolder and gathered her in my arms: as I kissed her
she seemed all mine.
"I want to get an engagement ring for you, dear," I said. "What
would you like?" She straightened herself up and shook her dark curls
"Don't be crazy," she said; "you have nothing to marry on, and I
have nothing. It's just silly. Now we will go home," and in spite of
all I could say, she started off for the Boulevard and home.
I suppose the sense of difficulty increased my ardor; at any rate, I
remember, in a week or two she was the rose of life to me, and
everymoment lived away from her was tedious—flat.
It was Elsie who first taught me love's magic, the beauty that never
was on earth or sea. She transfigured life for me, and made even the
garment of it adorable. When I was with her I lived to a higher
intensity—my senses inconceivably keen and quick— and all the while
the witchery of her was in the air and sunlight as well as in my
blood. When she left me I was dull and lonely-sad; all the vivid world
went grey and somber. As I met her frequently the glamor became charm,
and passion grew more and more imperious. She met my desire in a way
that delighted me: often a glow of responsive heat came in her cheeks
and lips; but her self-control puzzled me. She did not like to yield
to the sensuous spell or even to be forced to acknowledge its reality.
At first I put her resistance down to her regard for convention, and
as I was frightened of losing the companionship that had grown dear
to me, I did not press her unduly. To hold the beauty of her in my
arms and kiss her lips was intoxicating to me, and I could not risk
offending her. But when her lips grew hot on mine I would try to kiss
her neck or push up her sleeve and kiss her arm in the tender inward
that was like a flower, an ivory white petal all freaked with violet
"No, you must not," she cried; "I like you, like you very much;
you're good and kind, I'm sure; but it's wrong; oh yes, it is, and
we're too poor to marry, so there. You must behave, Boy." ("Boy" was
her pet name for me.) "I like your blue eyes," she went on
meditatively, "and your strength and height and moustache" (and she
touched it, smiling.) "But, no! no! no! I'll go home if you don't
Of course I obeyed, but only to begin again a minute or two later.
My desire was uncontrollable; I loved Elsie; the more I knew of her
the more I loved her; but while the affection and tenderness lay deep,
passion was on the surface, so to speak, headstrong and imperious; it
was not to be bridled, whipped to madness as it was by curiosity. My
only excuse was my youth, for I could not help wanting to touch her,
to caress her, and my hands were as inquisitive as my eyes.
As soon as my desire became too manifest she checked me; as long as
it seemed unconscious she allowed me almost complete freedom. When
away from her I used to wonder whether it was real modesty which moved
her, or shyness of the palpable, dislike of the avowed.
I quickly found that if I made her share my fever, induced her to
abandon herself even fora moment to her feelings, she was sure
afterwards to punish me for this yielding and close the passage by
leaving me in a pet.
"No, sir, don't come with me. I can find my way home, thank you.
Good-bye," and the imperious beauty swept away, and I was punished.
Left in this way one evening, I turned and walked down to the lake
shore. Elsie did not like the shore, it was bare and ugly, she said;
no grass would grow there and no trees; it was desolate and wild, too,
and only hateful, common people walked there; but the illimitable
prospect of the waste of water always drew me, so now I followed my
I had not walked over half a mile when I came upon a great meeting.
A man was speaking from a cart to a crowd that must have numbered two
or three thousand persons. The speaker was a tall American and
evidently a practised orator, with a fine tenor voice. He interested
me at once: his forehead was high; his features well cut; his dark
moustache waved up a little at the ends. There was something
captivating in the man's picturesque speech and manifest sincerity. He
seemed to have traveled a good deal and read a good deal, and when I
came to the outskirts of the crowd I found every one hanging on his
"Who is it?" I asked. I was told at oncethat he was a man called
Parsons, the editor of "The Alarm," a Labor paper. He was speaking
about the Eight Hour Bill, which the Labor party hoped to get passed
that Session, and he was contrasting the lot of the rich yonder on
Michigan Boulevard with the lot of the poor. He spoke well, and the
crude opposites of life were all about him to give point to his words.
There, a couple of hundred years away, the rich were driving their
carriages, with costly wraps about them, and servants to wait on them,
and round about him and before him the producers, their workmen who
could hardly be sure of their next meal; the text was splendidly
"You workmen make the carriages," he cried, "and the rich drive in
them; you build the great houses and they live in them. All over the
world workmen are now preparing delicacies for them; dogs are being
bred for them in China and goldfish in Cuba. In the frozen North men
with frostbitten fingers are trapping animals so that these worthless
lazers may drive in furs; in sun-baked Florida other men are raising
fruit for them; your children go hungry and half-naked in the bitter
winter, while they waste fifty thousand dollars on a meal and keep
footmen to put silk stockings on toy dogs."
He had certainly a gift of rhetoric, and hetried to reason as well.
He called this "the age of machinery," and declared that through
machines the productive power of the individual had been increased a
hundredfold in the last century. "Why, then, is the producer not paid
a hundred times as much?" he shouted. "Eight hours of work now produce
as much wealth as hundreds of hours a century ago, why shouldn't the
employer be satisfied with eight hours a day, and leave the workman
the possibility of a human existence? He would be satisfied were he
the employer and not the exploiter. . . .
"Think of the injustice of it all," he cried. "We men are gradually
winning a mastery over nature. The newest force, electricity, is also
the cheapest and the most efficient. First comes the scientist who
discovers the law or the new power; then the inventor who puts it to
use; then the greedy brute who by law or force or fraud annexes the
benefits of it. The poor here in Chicago are as poor as ever; many of
them will die this winter of cold and destitution; but the rich grow
richer continually. Who ever heard a century ago of a man making a
million of dollars in his own lifetime. Now we have our Rockefellers
and others with fortunes of a hundred millions. Did they make
those huge sums?" he asked. "Of course they didn't, they stole them,
andthey are only able to steal such enormous amounts because the
brains of the scientist and the inventor have made labour tenfold more
productive than it was before we compressed steam to our service and
harnessed the lightning to our use. But are all the benefits of man's
wisdom and labor always to go to the greedy few; to be lost, so to
speak, in lakes and cisterns, and never to spread in fertilizing
showers over the whole land? I refuse to believe it. I have another
vision in my mind," and he proceeded to sketch a sort of working man's
paradise. . . .
The appeal was effective; the murmurs in the crowd showed that.
Several times Parsons puzzled me; he talked of Socialism and Anarchy
as if they were one; but certainly he talked with passion and
enthusiasm. All at once I noticed a man on my left; he had come up
after me. He was dressed like a workman, but neatly. I noticed him
because he turned aside from something the speaker had said with a
certain contempt in his look. I remarked quite casually—
"You don't seem to agree with Parsons."
Suddenly our eyes met; it was as if I had had an electric shock, the
gaze was so piercing, so extraordinary, that involuntarily I braced
myself to meet it.
"A little florid," the man replied.
I was nettled at the contempt, but spoke again, mainly in order to
see the eyes fairly, and find out the secret of their strange power.
"There is surely a good deal of truth in what he says, and he says
Again his eyes met mine, and again I had the same shock.
"Oh yes!" he assented, looking out over the lake, "it's the shallow
water has the lacefoam on it," he added, and turned quietly away.
I could not help looking after him as he went. Were his eyes grey
or black? I could not tell. I could see him still, he was only about
middle height, but squarely built, and he walked with a lithe speed
and ease, as of great strength. I was never so impressed in my life by
anyone; yet he had scarcely said anything. Though I did not know it
then, I had spoken for the first time to Louis Lingg, the man who was
to shape my life.
ABOUT this time I began to realize that the struggle
between the employers and the employed in Chicago was becoming
dangerously bitter, and was envenomed by the fact that nine out of ten
native-born Americans were taking sides with the masters against the
workmen on the ground that the workmen were foreigners and
interlopers. The agitation for an eight-hours' day was looked upon as
a foreign innovation, and denounced on every hand.
Acting on Elsie's advice, I had gone to the great American papers
in Chicago and tried to get work. When asked what I could do, I handed
the editors an English translation of the best of my articles in
"Vorwaerts." After many disappointments, I had a talk with the editor
of "The Chicago Tribune," who accepted my paper on working underground
in New York on condition that I would cut out all that "socialist
"It won't go down here," he said, smiling; "it's limburger cheese to
us, see! Good in its own way, I've no doubt; but a little too strong.
You catch on, eh?"
At the same time he gave me a check for twenty-five dollars for the
article. I could not let such an opportunity slip. I told him I knew
German even better than English, and should like to act as his
reporter in the labor troubles.
"Okay," he replied; "but don't go tootin' about for the foreigner.
We're Americans every time and stand for the Star-Spangled Banner:
I said I would confine myself to the facts, and I did so more or
less successfully on several minor occasions. At last something
happened which seemed to me at the time significant and which later I
saw marked a new departure. There was a strike on the East Side. It
was in December or January, bitter winter weather, fifteen or twenty
degrees below zero. Snow was falling slowly, the afternoon closing in.
The operatives in some machine shops had come out, and were holding a
meeting on a vacant lot near the factory. A thousand workmen or so
attended, and perhaps a hundred women and boys. The speeches were for
the most part in German, and were dull to a degree. The main complaint
was that the employers were cutting down wages, and increasing fines,
because they had too large a stock, and wanted to diminish expenses in
winter while trade was at its worst. Thework, too, was such that any
workman could do it, and so the masters had every advantage.
There we stood in the bitter wind and driving snowflakes, while
these poor wretches talked and decided to picket the neighborhood to
prevent new men taking on their jobs in ignorance of the situation. I
went among the crowd studying the strikers. Most of the faces were
young, strong, intelligent; hardly any wastrels among them, the
average of looks far higher than one would see in Hamburg or Munich;
but care and anxiety were to be read on nearly every countenance. Many
faces, too, seemed bitter, a few were sullen, or hard. The fight for
life was evidently terrible in this town, where the workmen were
weak—disunited through differences of race and speech.
The gloomy day was darkening to night; the snow was falling more
heavily. I had drawn a little away from the crowd, and was thinking
about getting home to write up my notes, when I heard the tramp of
feet, and saw a strong force of police, perhaps one hundred in all,
marching down the street. At once I was at my keenest. The police
drew up at the lot, and Captain Bonfield, a big, powerful fellow, who
had won to command through sheer strength and courage, thrust the
crowd asunder, and, with a dozen of hismen pushed his way to the
centre. "Come down," the police cried to the speakers, calling at the
same time to the crowd about them to disperse: "break up, there! break
up!" was the cry, and the strikers began to obey with sullen murmurs
At first it looked as if high-handed authority would triumph once
more; but there came a fateful pause, and at once the police seemed to
lose their tempers. I pressed into the crowd to see what was going on.
Bonfield was talking to one of the speakers, a man whom I afterwards
knew, called Fielden, an Englishman, a middle-aged, dark-bearded man,
the essence of good-nature, but stolidly determined. He kept repeating
"We are not interfering with anybody. Who are we interfering with?
We are harming nobody."
Bonfield had his club in his hand. He suddenly seemed to lose
self-control. Perhaps he was pressed against by the crowd. I can't
tell. But of a sudden he struck Fielden in the stomach with his club,
and knocked him backwards off the cart, which was serving as a sort of
extemporized platform. At once a man thrust himself forward in front
of Bonfield, shouting some gibberish that I could hardly distinguish,
and using wild gestures. It was Fischer, the Communist reporter.
Hewas evidently beside himself with angry excitement, and his
German-English jargon was wholly unintelligible to the police.
Bonfield looked at him for a minute, and thrust him back with his left
hand. As Fischer pressed forward again, gesticulating, Bonfield thrust
him back again, and then clubbed him savagely on the head. Fischer
fell senseless, and that was, as it were, the signal for the row to
begin. In one moment the police were lost, pulled down, and trampled
under foot by the surging crowd of men. Immediately I turned and began
to push through the crowd to get out in order to see what would take
place. The police on the outskirts had already drawn their clubs, and
were using them on every one. The crowd began to ravel away at its
edges before the fierce attack. I struggled out of it somehow, and got
to the pavement, and from there I saw the police bludgeoning every one
they could. Most of the crowd were already running away. While trying
to escape men and women were brutally struck down. It was a butchery.
My blood was boiling; but I had no weapon, and could do nothing. I was
standing just at the corner of the street and the vacant lot, when a
policeman near me ran after a boy. The boy could not have been more
than thirteen or fourteen years of age. He got almostto my side, and
then as the policeman caught up to him and lifted his club, I think I
shouted in horror. But some one passed me like a flash, and before the
policeman's club had fallen, indeed, while he was in the very act of
striking, he was struck himself, under the jaw, and with such speed
and force that I gasped with amazement at the way he went down, his
club whirling in the air a dozen feet away. The next moment his
assailant turned and strode past me down the street. It was the man
whose gaze had made such an impression on me a short time before at
Parson's meeting on the lakeshore.
A moment later I called after him, but, in the meantime, several of
the strikers had rushed between us, and when I followed him he had
I wrote the account of the police attack, as I have told it here,
and took it to the office of the Tribune; but before going I took care
to get together some facts to corroborate my statements. Thirty-five
strikers had been taken to the hospital, all of them severely wounded,
two of them dangerously; while not one policeman was injured
sufficiently to come under the doctor's hands.
When the editor had read my article, he put it down frowning. "It
may be as you say, Schnaubelt," he said; "the admittancesto the
hospital make your story look probable. But you are up against America
in this matter, and I am not going to take sides against my own
people. 'Yankee Doodle' is our tune every time, and don't you forget
it!" he added assertively.
"I have taken no side," I explained; "I am telling simply what I
"That's the worst of it," he admitted. "Damn it. I believe it is the
truth; but, anyway, I can't and won't publish it. You foreigners are
trying to make an eight-hour day, and we are not going to have it. I
will write a little 'par' myself, just saying that Bonfield was
"Well," I said, "if you won't take this strike stuff of mine,
perhaps you will keep me on still about the fires and anything of that
"Yes, yes," he said. "You do it very well. You go to every fire, and
our American reporters get too cunning. They write up accounts without
having been there. Yes, I'll take the fire stuff all right; but you
keep off this strike business. It's going to be bad weather for some
of those Poles and Germans, I can see-mighty bad weather."
The editor was right; it was bad weather for the foreign workmen
all through that savage winter and spring, for the editor of
the"Tribune," like all the other American editors, put in no part of
the truth. He forgot even to say in his leading article that Bonfield
was needlessly energetic, as he had promised. What he did say was that
the thirty-five foreigners in the hospital would perhaps serve as a
warning to the rest that any attack on the police would be vigorously
repressed. Hard weather, indeed, and worse to come for the foreign
I was no longer employed to go to the strikes. I saw them, and
hundreds of American eyewitnesses are still living who can prove that
the police went on from brutality to brutality. Every month their
actions became more indefensible, till at length they did not even
summon the crowds to disperse, but used their clubs at once,
indiscriminately upon strikers and lookers-on and casual passerby,
But I am getting ahead of my story. After that talk with the editor
of the "Tribune," I went to see Spies. He was delighted to have my
description of the police attack for his paper; introduced me to
Fielden, the Englishman, who had already given him a rough account of
it; and who told us that Fischer was lying ill at home. He had had a
terrible blow, it appeared. The whole side of his face had been
crushed in; he wassuffering from concussion of the brain, and would
not be able to get about again for months. The dreadful affair seemed
to have excited Spies' courage and strengthened his resolution.
"Shameful, shameful," he kept on saying. "For the first time in
America orderly meetings on vacant lots are dispersed by force.
Thoughts are met with police bludgeons." He was almost beside himself
with excitement and anger.
On my way out I stopped in the outer office to say a word or two to
the cashier, and as I went into the outside waiting-room I met Raben.
"What!" I cried, "you here in Chicago?"
He told me he had been in Chicago some time.
"Come out," I went on, "and let me give you a German meal like the
one you gave me in New York. Do you remember? There's a lot to talk
"There is," he said. "You people in Chicago are making history. I
have been sent by 'The New York Herald' to write up these strikes of
yours." His air of triumph was amusing. His connection with the
well-known paper increased his self-importance.
As we went out together I noticed with some satisfaction that my
accent in American was now better than his. I spoke like anAmerican,
whereas any one could see that he was a German. Elsie had done me a
lot of good. Besides, my reading of the English writers and the
articles I had already written in English had given me a larger
vocabulary and a greater control of English than he could pretend to.
We were soon seated in a restaurant at a good meal, and I learned
to my astonishment that Raben had been ten days or a fortnight in
"I heard of you," he said, "and expected to run across you any day."
"But have you been about?" I asked. "It is curious I have not seen
you." The fact, of course, being that I had been out with Elsie nearly
every evening, and so had not been in the way of meeting many
Half in self-defense, I added, "I have been in the 'Arbeiter
Zeitung' twice in the last week."
"Oh," he said, "that 'Arbeiter Zeitung' is nothing important. The
revolutionary force in Chicago is the 'Lehr and Wehr Verein.'"
I repeated the words, "Revolutionary force . . . Lehr and Wehr
Verein—I have never heard of it."
"You come with me to-night," said Raben, with the intense
satisfaction of a Columbus, "and I'll show it to you. Anarchists,
myboy; men who'll do something; not your meek Socialists who will
talk and let themselves be clubbed to death without resisting." Raben,
I had noticed already, lived to astonish people. His excessive vanity
had dramatic ambitions; he wanted to be a Cassandra and Jeremiah
rolled into one.
"Good God!" I cried, "are there really Anarchists in Chicago?" The
mere word seemed terrible to me.
Raben gloated over my amazement and awe. "You come with me," he
said, "and I will show you Chicago. Though I have only been here a
fortnight, I know more of it than you who have been here for months. I
don't let the grass grow under my feet," and he pursed his lips in
After the meal we set off for the Anarchist club, and he took me
out to the East Side, to the outskirts of the town, in the centre of
the foreign, cheapest quarter. There we went into a German saloon, and
he introduced me to Herr Michael Schwab, who was an assistant editor
on the "Arbeiter Zeitung," and whom I had seen with Spies, a
bespectacled German professor, thin, angular, sallow, with black hair
and long, black, unkempt beard. Raben told Schwab in German who I was
and what my sympathies were, and Schwab said yes, he would take us
upstairs. He led the waythrough the back of the saloon and up a
narrow staircase into a bare, empty room, where there were perhaps
thirty men and three or four women. There was a long table down the
centre of the room, round which the audience sat, and a small plain
deal table at the end of the room for the speakers. Our appearance
caused some stir; everyone looked at us. Apparently the meeting had
not yet begun. As soon as I entered the room I was struck again by
seeing the man who had knocked the policeman down, and whom I was so
curious to know. As I was about to ask Raben to get Schwab to
introduce me, Raben turned to me and said—
"Oh, there she is. I must introduce you to the prettiest Anarchist
in the world," and he pulled me in front of a tall, handsome brunette,
who had begun to talk to Schwab . "Allow me," he said in American,
"Miss Ida Miller, to present to you a friend of mine, Mr. Rudolph
She smiled and held out her hand. Raben told her how he had
persuaded me to come to the meeting, a real Anarchist meeting, though
I didn't believe there was an Anarchist in Chicago. "He's a South
German, you know," he added almost contemptuously. Something in Miss
Miller's expression attracted me greatly, and almost before I knew
itwe were talking sympathetically. Her eyes were fine, and she
interested me, appealed to me, indeed, as a child might appeal.
Suddenly I remembered.
"There is one man here whom I must know, Miss Miller. I wonder if
you know him?"
"What's he like?" she asked.
I described his eyes, the impression he had made on me at the first
meeting, and then told of his extraordinary defense of the boy, the
speed and power of his attack, and the cool way he turned and
disappeared down the street.
"That must be Louis," cried Ida, "Louis Lingg. Just think of it! he
never said one word to me about it, not one word."
I repeated the words after her, "Louis Lingg. Is he French, then?"
"Oh no," she said: "he is a German from Mannheim. That's him over
there at the end of the table. He is the founder of this society—a
great man," she went on, as if to herself.
"Of course you think him great," said Raben; "that is only natural."
Miss Miller turned and looked at him.
"Yes," she repeated, "it is only natural. I am glad of that. Those
who know him best, think most of him."
"I'd like to know Lingg," I said.
"He'll be glad to know you," she replied. As we turned aside she
went on, in a low voice, "He is always glad to know anyone who wants
to learn or help," and the next moment she had called him, "Louis!"
and had introduced me to him. His eyes met me now fairly; but I had
no shock from them. They were dark grey, with black pupils and lashes;
in expression curiously steady and searching; but not
lambent-wonderful, as I had thought them at first. Yet I was to see
the unearthly power in them often enough in the future. While I was
still looking at Lingg, trying to fix his features in my mind, trying
to understand wherein lay the abnormal and extraordinary in his
personality, Miss Miller began reproaching him for not having told her
what he had done.
"I did nothing," he said, very quietly and slowly.
"Yes, you did," she cried enthusiastically; "you knocked down the
policeman and saved the boy, and then walked away as if nothing had
happened. I can see you doing it. Mr. Schnaubelt has been telling us
all about it. But why didn't you tell me?"
He shrugged his shoulders, and said simply, "Perhaps we had better
get on with the meeting."
At this moment there was an interruption.
Schwab came round making a collection, "For Mrs. Schelling," he
"Who? What for?" I asked.
Lingg seemed glad of the interruption. He answered my questions
"A case at our last meeting, a case of lead poisoning. Mrs.
Schelling is a widow with one rickety child. She's finished, I'm
afraid; she can't last long."
"Really!" I exclaimed. "Is lead poisoning frequent here?"
"Very frequent," he said, " among house painters. You must have
heard of 'wristdrop'—paralysis of the nerves of the wrist?"
"No," I said; "but are women employed as painters?"
"Not as painters, but in manufactories of white lead and in type
foundries," said Lingg. "The worst of it is that women are much more
liable to plumbism, and suffer much more than men. It kills them
sometimes in a few weeks."
"Good God!" I exclaimed, "how awful!"
"Lead poisoning has one good result," he went on bitterly; "married
couples seldom bear children; miscarriages are frequent, and the few
children there are usually die of convulsions in babyhood, or as
idiots a little later."
"Shocking!" I cried. "Why isn't a substitute found for white lead?"
"There is a substitute," he answered, "zinc white. The French
Chamber wants to prohibit the use of white lead altogether, and
substitute zinc white; but the Senate won't. Characteristic, isn't it?
Of course, the democratic American Government pays no attention to
such matters; the health of working-men doesn't concern it."
"Is the pain great?" I asked.
"Horrible, sometimes. I have known young girls blinded, others
paralysed, others go mad and die." He broke off. "We are always glad
to have a little money in hand for real need; but you must not feel
compelled to subscribe—the giving is voluntary," and saying this he
led the way to the little table at the top of the room. Raben followed
Everything Lingg said impressed me. He brought me into a new
atmosphere, a new life.
Still trying to find a reason for my admiration of him, I took a
seat beside Miss Miller at the long table. There was a little stir,
and then a man got up and gave in English a very good description of
the fight between the police and the strikers. I was astonished at the
restraint of his speech, and the unimpassioned, detached way in which
he described what had taken place. I felt Lingg's influence on him.
When he sat down there was a little murmur of applause.
After him Louis Lingg got up, and said he was sure the meeting was
grateful to Mr. Koch for his account; the meeting would now listen
with pleasure to Professor Schwab.
The bilious doctrinaire Professor made what seemed to me a rambling,
ineffective speech. He knew political economy from one end to the
other, as only a German can know a subject; knew the English school
and the American school, and the French and German schools, all of
them, with encyclopædic exactness; but his own ideas seemed to have
come from Lasalle and Marx, with a tincture of Herbert Spencer. One
thing he was quite clear about, and that was that individualism had
been pushed too far, especially in America and England. "There is no
pressure from the outside," he said, "on these countries, and so the
atoms that constitute the social organism tend to fall apart. Here and
in England we have individualism run mad." And then he quoted Goethe
"Im Ganzen, Guten, Schoenen,
Resolut zu leben."
His assumption of authority, his great reading, something flabby in
the man, annoyed me. I did not want a sea of words to wash away my
memory of the terrible things I had seen; the tempest of pity and
anger whichhad carried me away that afternoon. Something of this I
said to Ida Miller, and she immediately said, "Go up and speak; say
so. Truth will do us all good."
So I stood up and went to the table. I asked Lingg might I speak,
and then sat down waiting. He immediately got up, and said formally
the meeting would have pleasure in listening to Mr. Schnaubelt. I
began by saying it seemed to me wrong to say that America suffered
from too much individual freedom when we were being clubbed to death
for speaking our minds in an orderly fashion. Americans cherished the
right of free speech but denied it to foreigners, though we were
Americans, too, with just as good title to the name as the native-born
who had only preceded us into the country by a generation or two.
"I don't know," I went on, "whether equality is possible or not. I
came to this Lehr Verein, or teaching club, in order to find out
whether any one can tell me anything new about the possibility of
equality. I can see no equality in nature; no equality among men in
gifts and powers; how can there be equality in possessions? But there
may be fair play and equal rights, it seems to me," and I bowed and
went back and took my place again by Ida.
"Splendid! Splendid!" she said; "that will draw Louis."
Lingg got up at once, and asked whether there was anyone else who
wished to speak, and there came a general murmur, "Lingg, Lingg." He
bowed to the call, and then said quietly, in the tone of familiar
"The last speaker doubted the possibility of equality. Complete
equality is of course unthinkable; but ever since the French
Revolution there has been an approach towards equality, an endeavour
after equality. Vanity is as strong a passion in man as greed," he
said, evidently thinking aloud. "Before the French Revolution it was
considered nothing out of the way for a nobleman to spend a hundred
thousand or two hundred thousand livres a year on his dress. I think
the professor will tell you that there were noblemen at the French
Court whose mere clothes represented the yearly earnings of hundreds
"The French Revolution did away with all that. It brought in a
dress for men more suited to an industrial civilization. We are no
longer dressed as soldiers or dandies, but as workmen, and the
difference between one man's dress and another's is a few dollars, or
a few score of dollars a year. The man now who would wear a lace shirt
or diamonds inhis shoes that cost him a hundred thousand dollars,
would be regarded as a madman; these extravagances have become
impossible. Why should there not be another revolution, and a similar
approach towards equality in payment for services? I look forward, not
to equality, which does not seem to me either possible or desirable;
but to a great movement towards equality in the pay of individual
At this moment a note was passed to him. He asked the permission of
the ladies and gentlemen present to read it. He was curiously
courteous, this man, always. He read the note, and then went on in the
same slow, quiet tone—
"I said," he began, "all I wanted to say; but I have a request here
from one of our Society to speak on the police attack today." He
suddenly moved forward to the end of the table, and as he looked down
it a thrill went through all of us who caught his eye. Then he looked
"I do not know what to say. One hopes that such an outrage will not
be repeated. I will say no more tonight, though"—and his words
dropped slowly from his lips like bullets—"though our Society is for
defense as well as education." There was a menace in his voice I could
hardly account for or explain. He looked up sombre, and the
wordsseemed to repeat themselves in our awestricken ears.
"One can't meet bludgeons with words," he went on, "not blows by
turning the other cheek. Violence must be met with violence.
Americans should surely know that action and reaction are equal and
opposite; oppression and revolt equal and opposite also."
He suddenly stopped, bowed to us, and the meeting broke up into
talk—quick chatter about the table, in an endeavour, it seemed to me,
to get rid of the effect of Lingg's speech upon us and his astonishing
personality. For the first time in life I had come into the presence
of a man who was wiser than I had imagined possible, who brought new
thoughts into life at every moment, and whose whole being was so
masterful and intense that one expected greater things from him than
from other men.
I turned enthusiastically to Miss Miller.
"Oh, you are right," I said; "he is a great man, Louis Lingg, a
great man. I want to know him well."
"I am glad," she said simply; but her face lighted up at my praise.
"Nothing easier. If he has nothing to do this evening you could come
home with us."
"Do you live with him?" I asked, in my amazement utterly unconscious
of what Iwas saying. Without any false sentiment she answered me—
"Oh yes; we do not believe in marriage. Louis thinks moral laws are
simply laws of health; he regards marriage as a silly institution,
without meaning for men and women who wish to deal honestly with each
Evidently this evening I was to go through shock upon shock. I
stared at her, scarcely able to believe my ears.
"I see you are astonished," she said, laughing; "but we are
Anarchists and rebels. You must get accustomed to us.
"Anarchists!" I repeated, genuinely shocked; "really?"
How the meeting broke up I do not know; but it did break up at
last. We had a glass or two of beer all round, for the good of the
house, and then we dispersed; but not before Lingg had given me his
address, and told me he would be glad to see me on the morrow, or
whenever I liked to call.
"I have read some of your work," he said, "and I like it. There's
sincerity in it."
I got crimson in spite of myself; no compliment ever pleased me so
much. I went off with Raben, and wanted to know all about Lingg;
began, indeed, to talk about him enthusiastically; but found Raben not
at all enthusiastic, and soon discovered that henew little or
nothing about Lingg, was much more interested in Miss Miller, and
looked upon Lingg's liaison with her as a very bad thing for the girl.
That night I felt as if Raben dirtied everything he touched. I bade
him "good night" as soon as possible, and hurried home to get my own
thoughts clear, and to digest the new ones which Lingg had put into my
head, and, above all, the new spirit that he seemed to have breathed
into my being. Could one man stand against the whole of society, and
defy it? How—?
THERE now began for me a period of forced growth; growth
of mind through intercourse with Lingg; growth of emotions and
knowledge of life, knowledge of myself and of women, through intimacy
with Elsie Lehman. For months and months I met Lingg continually,
often spent the whole day with him; yet in all that time I never met
him once without learning something new from him. Again and again I
went to him, feeling sure that he could not have anything new to say,
but at some time or other in the conversation a new subject would be
touched on, and immediately new ideas, a new view came from him. At
the time, I remember well, this astounded me, for I myself loved
ideas, any and every bold generalization, which like a golden thread
would string together a hundred pearls of fact. I was fairly well
equipped, too, in the wisdom of the schools, and in books, before I
met Lingg. I had read a good deal of Greek and Latin, and the best
authors in French, German and English. The amazing part of it to me at
first was that Lingg had read very little.Again and again when
talking on social questions I had to say, "Oh, that's Heine's
thought," or "Goethe's." His eyebrows went up; they were his thoughts,
and that was enough for him. He seemed to think where other thinkers
left off, and if I were to attempt to set down here in cold sequence
all the fruitful ideas and brilliant guesses which came from him
naturally in the heat of conversation, or sprang like sparks from the
cur and thrust of dialectic, I should be painting a prig, or a thinking
machine, and Louis Lingg was neither of these; but a warm-hearted
friend and passionate lover. There were in him all sorts of
contradictions and anomalies, as there are in all of us; but he seemed
to touch the extremes of life with a wider reach than other men. He
was a peculiar nature; usually cool, calculating, self-concentrated,
judging men and things absolutely according to their value, as a
realist; the next moment all flame and emotion, with an absolute
genius for self-sacrifice.
To show the insight in him, the power and clearness of his
intellect, I must give another of his speeches at the Lehr Verein.
When I heard it, it seemed to me so wise, fair, and moderate as to be
Lingg began by saying that the chief evils of our society showed
themselves first towardsthe end of the eighteenth century. "This
period," he went on, "was made memorable by the invention of the
spinning jenny and by the use of steam as a force, and by the
publication of 'The Wealth of Nations,' in which individualism was
first preached as a creed. Just at the time when man by using natural
laws began to multiply tenfold the productivity of his labor, it was
proposed to leave everything to the grab-as-grab-can principle of
individual greed. Now, consider the consequences of this mistake in a
concrete form; the roads of the country had always been regarded as
national property; they were made as cheaply as possible at the public
cost, and maintained by the local authorities; but the railroads were
made and owned and maintained by individuals or rather by groups of
individuals. The land, too, in every country, had been leased to the
individual by the State on some sort of payment, and from one-third to
one-half of it reserved as common land; now the land was given in
freehold to the individual. At once the social organism began to
suffer. It grew rich quickly; but the poor grew poorer; the workhouses
filled; the modern contrast of extravagant riches and extreme
destitution came into being. . . .
"Socialism, or Communism, is now being preached as a remedy for all
this; let us takeeverything from the individual, Marx cries, and all
will be well. But that's surely an experiment. Civilization, as we
understand it, has been founded on individualism; cannot the
individual be restrained without subverting the social structure? I
agree with Professor Schwab, we are suffering from too much
individualism; the problem is how to limit individualism, how far
socialism should come into life? The answer, to my mind, is clear; the
individual should be left with all those departments of industry which
he is able to control: his activity should not be limited in any
honest direction; but all those departments of labor which he is not
able to control, in which he has given up his freedom in order to join
with other men in Joint Stock Companies, and so increase his power to
plunder the community—all such industries should be taken over by the
State, or by the Municipality, beginning, of course, with those which
are most necessary to the welfare of the body politic.
"I take it, too, that the land of a country should belong to the
people of the country, and should be rented out to cultivators on easy
terms, for country life produces the strongest and most healthful
citizens. All the railways and means of communication should be
nationalized; the water companies,the gas and electric lighting
companies, banks and insurance companies, and so on. If you consider
the matter, you will find that it is just in and through these great
industries, directed by Joint Stock Companies that all the evils of
our civilization have shown themselves. These are the hothouses of
speculation and theft where the lucky gambler, or daring thief, to
give him his proper name, has won millions and demoralized the public
"If you had here in America, beside the landed population, an
industrial army managing the railways and canals, the lighting and
water companies, with fair wages and absolute security of employment
pending good behaviour, you would have lifted the whole scale of
wages of the day laborer, for if the individual employer who could not
give such security did not offer higher wages than the state he would
not get the best men."
As he spoke light dawned on me; this was the truth if ever it was
heard from human lips; the exact truth struck in the centre. The
individual should be master of all those industries which he could
control unaided, and no more. Joint Stock Companies' management was
worse even than State management; every one knew it was more
inefficient and more corrupt. All my reading, all myexperience,
leaped to instant recognition of Lingg's insight, to instant agreement
with him. What a man he was!
Of course this statement as it stands compressed here gives a very
imperfect idea of Lingg's genius; it is all set down boldly, without
the vivid, living flashes of humour which made his talk inimitable;
but still, the truth is there, the wine of thought, though gone a
little flat. That evening was made doubly memorable to me by another
A workman was introduced suffering from "phossy jaw"; he had worked
as a "dipper," it appeared, at a match manufactory on the East Side.
The "composition" into which the heads of the matches are dipped is
warm and moist, and contains about five percent of white phosphorus.
The fumes of the phosphorus can be seen rising above the composition.
Of course, fans are used; but fans are not sufficient to protect a
workman with bad teeth. This man had good teeth at the beginning; but
at length a tooth decayed in his lower jaw, and at once phosphorus
necrosis set in. He was strangely apathetic; so powerful a motive is
vanity that it almost seemed as if he were proud of the extraordinary
extent to which his jaw was decayed.
"I'm pretty bad," he said; "the doctor says he has never seen a
worse case. Lookhere," and he put his fingers in his mouth, and
broke off a long sliver of jaw-bone. "Bad, ain't it? . . . I've been
twelve weeks out of work; I'm rotten," he confided to us, "that's what
I am—rotten. I stepped down off the sidewalk into the street
and—crack! my thigh bone snapped in two—rotten! I wouldn't care if
it weren't for the missus and the kids. It don't hurt, and there's
lots worse off; but twelve weeks is a bit long. I guess they could get
a substitute for that phosphorus if they wanted to." [note]
[note:] The workman was right. The Belgian Government
has since offered a prize for a harmless substitute, and one was found
almost at once, in the sesquisulphide of phosphorus, which is now
generally used. Think of the hundreds of deaths, of the human misery
that might have been avoided if some government had seen this obvious
duty forty or fifty years sooner: but of course no government cared to
interfere with the blessed principle of laissez faire, which
might be translated, "Am I my brother's keeper?"—Note of Editor.]
No rage over his ruined life, no resentment. I was appalled. We
collected nearly a hundred dollars for him in a full meeting, and he
seemed grateful; though confident that nothing could cure him.
A few days after this meeting at the Lehr and Wehr Verein, I called
on Lingg in his rooms, and got to know him pretty well. He had a
bedroom and sitting-room on the second floor in a comparatively quiet
street on the East Side; the sitting-room was large and bare; the
corner near the window, which was hidden by the opening door, was
furnished withbroad pine shelves, and the many bottles gave it the
look of a laboratory, which, indeed, it was. Lingg was not in when I
called; but Ida was, and we were soon talking about him. I told her
how his words had stuck in my head, and how much he had impressed me
and interested me.
"I'm glad," she said; "he needs a friend."
"I should be proud to be his friend," I assured her warmly, "he's a
great man; he attracts me immensely."
"How true that is," she said; "I always think great souls draw us
more strongly than small ones, don't you?"
I agreed with her; I was struck by the phrase; it seemed to me like
a thought of Lingg's.
I think it was on this first visit, or soon after, that she showed
me a side of her character which I should never have divined. She was
of equable temper, and not lightly to be thrown off her balance; yet
she kept breaking off the conversation to listen for Lingg's step, in
a fever of suspense. When I rallied her about this unwonted excitement
I found there was no special reason for it; she admitted simply that
she was anxious. "If you knew him as well as I do, you'd be anxious
too." And again she held her breath and listened.
She was always willing to talk about Linggwith me, for she
recognized, I think, at the very beginning with a loving woman's
intuition that I, too, would become devoted to him, and so bit by bit
I gathered from her nearly all Lingg's history. When a mere boy of
fifteen, in the first year, indeed, of his apprenticeship to a
carpenter at Mannheim, his widowed mother lost all her little income
through a death. The boy, it appears, had chosen his trade himself and
would not give it up; he simply redoubled his efforts and spent all
his spare time at work in order to keep his mother and himself. He
worked so hard that the master carpenter proposed to give him a small
weekly wage, which he increased again and again of his own accord.
"Young Lingg," he used to say, "was worth three men to him, and half a
dozen apprentices." The mother, it seems, had this praise of Herr
Wuermell always on her lips.
As soon as Lingg was out of his time and had saved some money, he
announced his intention of emigrating, and in spite of a dozen good
offers to stay in Mannheim, for some reason or other he shook the dust
of Germany off his feet, and came to New York with his mother. A few
months later he brought her from New York to Chicago, for her lungs,
it appeared, could not stand the moist sea-air of Manhattan Island.
InChicago at first she seemed to rally; then caught cold, and grew
rapidly weaker. Lingg did everything he could for her; tended her day
and night during her illness; was nurse and son in one. Like most
strong and lonely natures he gave his confidence to few, and his
affection gained in intensity through concentration. He was devoted to
his mother, would not leave her bedside, even to go out with Ida, and
when she died he seemed to take a dislike to life, and gave himself
over to melancholy brooding.
Ida had been seduced by a rich young clubman, and when deserted had
fallen to the streets. There she met Lingg, who was struck with her
misery and beauty, and gave her love and hope; saved her, as she used
to say, from hell. Ida spoke of her connection with Lingg quite as a
matter of course, in a detached sort of way, as if there were nothing
unusual in it, nothing to be explained, much less excused. I think her
love for him was so engrossing, her affection so tender and
self-absorbed, that she could not think of herself apart from him.
After the death of his mother she came to live with him. The truth is
the two were devoted to each other, and united in curiously intimate
fashion. When Ida spoke, you heard Lingg's phrases continually. I do
not mean that she aped him; but the verytone of his mind had
infected her thought and speech. Perhaps this was a result of their
isolation, and the contempt the foolish American world has for people
living, as they lived, outside convention. I have heard Lingg say in
fun, "There's no union like the union of pariahs; wild dogs even pack,
only the tame brutes live in civilized selfishness, each for himself
But now, after a long period of happy intimacy, Ida had begun to
grow anxious about Lingg. "He's taking these strikes to heart," she
told me, "and any bullying or tyrannical use of strength drives him
mad . . ." and she looked at me, I suppose, to see if I divined her
meaning. At the time I did not understand; but in the calm light of
memory I see it all clearly. Lingg, though infinitely stronger and
more resolute than Shelley; indeed, partly because of his immense
strength and resolution, resembled the English poet in one essential.
He, too, was
". . . . the nerve o'er which do creep
The else unfelt oppressions of mankind."
And Ida's heart shrank with tragic apprehension of what might
happen; or did she know, even then, with the sad prescience of love? I
think she did; but whether I am right or wrong in this, at least I
myself was wholly blind, altogether in the dark, andbeyond being
vaguely affected by her fears was completely at my ease.
A little later, after I had got to know Lingg well, I met him one
day in court: Fischer had brought an action against Bonfield, the
policeman, for injuries; I was one of the witnesses; there were three
or four of us. We all swore the same thing, that Fischer did not touch
Bonfield; but simply remonstrated with him for striking Fielden. Eight
or nine policemen, however, one after the other, got up and swore that
Fischer had struck Bonfield, and though they admitted that he had no
weapon, still, the jury chose to believe that Bonfield had been struck
first and that he had only bludgeoned an unarmed man in self-defense.
The verdict for the police was hailed with an unanimous cheer that
came as from one throat. They cheered a lie, all those hundreds in the
court, cheered it with one voice, and at the same time, cheered the
brutality of the police—giving the brute, Bonfield, license to go on
and do worse.
I do not know what effect that cheer had on others; but it roused
hell in me, and I turned and glared at them—they were trying to make
outlaws of us. At this moment I caught Lingg looking at Bonfield with
that flaming regard of his; I saw that Bonfield was uneasy under it.
The next moment Lingg lookeddown and a little later we came out of
the court together.
"An infamous, infamous verdict," I cried.
"Yes," Lingg agreed, "the prejudice is very strong; things will get
worse before they get better."
The words conjured up the great room, the exultation of the police,
the contempt in the faces of the bystanders for us poor foreigners who
were simply trying to get justice.
I walked on with Lingg; his quiet was ominous. "Damn them!" I cried
despairingly. "What can we do?"
"Nothing," was the answer. "The time is not come yet."
I stared at him, while my heart beat so loudly I could hear it.
"Yet," I echoed. "What do you mean?" He looked at me searchingly.
"Nothing," he said; "let us talk of something else. Have you seen
"No," I replied, "I have not; but tell me something. Parsons and the
rest take it for granted that wealth is merely another name for
robbery, and they deny the rich, or robbers, even ability. Is that
your view of it?"
He turned to me: "Moderate wealth is often honestly earned; still,
riches always represent greed rather than capacity. If a man has real
capacity he must want twentyother things besides money, some of
them probably more than money, mustn't he? Nearly all the rich men
I've known, have been cunning and mean, but nothing more. No one
except some fortunate inventor ever made a million honestly."
"But why are we all suffering so? Can the poverty and misery be
mended?" I asked.
"A great deal of it," he replied; "Germany is far healthier and
happier than America."
"That's true," I cried; "but why?"
"The worst fault in our civilization here," said Lingg, "is that it
is not complex enough. It holds up one prize before all of us—riches.
But many of us do not want wealth; we want a small competency without
care or fear. We ought to be able to get that as employees in some
department of State. That would remove us from the competition, and
tend to increase the wages of those who live in the whirl of
competition. Some of us, too, are born students, want to give
ourselves to the study of this, that, or the other science; there
ought to be chemical laboratories in every street; physical
laboratories in every town with posts attached at small pay for those
who would give their lives to the advancement of knowledge; studios,
too, for artists; State-aided theatres. Life must be made richer by
making it more complex, By notreserving whole fields of industry to
the State, by giving everything to the individual, we are driving all
men into this mad race for riches; hence suffering, misery,
discontent, the ill-health of the whole organism. The brain and heart
have their own rights, and should not be forced to serve the belly. We
turn flowers into manure."
While he was talking of greedy desire as the method of fulfillment,
I was thinking of Elsie, and I suppose he saw that I was not following
very closely what he said, for he broke off, and the talk between us
became lighter and more detached for some little while.
We reached his rooms, and I picked up a book from the table; it was
on chemistry, and dealt, not with elementary chemistry, but with
quantitative and qualitative analysis. I was not a little astonished.
I picked up another book treating of gas analysis and explosives, and
this was well-thumbed.
"My goodness, Lingg," I exclaimed, "are you a chemist?"
"I have been reading it a little," he replied.
"A little," I repeated; "but how on earth did you get as far as
"Anyone who can read today has the key," was his answer.
"I don't know so much about that," I said."I'd hardly know how to
go to work to make myself a master-chemist; I should break down over
some difficulty in the first month."
Lingg smiled that inscrutable smile of his which I was beginning to
"Yet I have had all the advantages," I went on. "I was properly
taught Latin and Greek, and elementary mathematics, and science, and
shown how to learn. Our education can't be worth much."
"Your education helps you to learn languages, I think; you know
American better than I do."
At the time I accepted this statement as a very obvious fact; but
later I had reason to doubt it. Lingg took no color from his
surroundings; he spoke American with the strongest South German
accent, but he knew the language astonishingly well; knew words in it
that I did not know, though he had less control of it in speech,
perhaps because his vocabulary was larger. But at the time I accepted
his statement. A moment later Ida came into the room, and I took up
the subject of books again.
"Astonishing thing, books; the greatest pleasure in one's life is
reading. And quite a modern pleasure. Three or four centuries ago only
the richest had half a dozen books. I remember a princess of the
Visconti in thesixteenth century leaving a large fortune and three
books in her will. Today the poorest can have dozens of masterpieces."
"A questionable good," said Lingg. "The greatest piece of luck in
my life was that when my mind began to open I had no money to get
books. I had to work all day at carpentering, and a good part of the
night, too, to get money to live, and so had no time for reading. I
had to solve all the problems which tormented me for myself. Our
education leans too much on books; books develop memories, not minds."
"Would you do away, then," I asked, "with Latin and Greek, and all
the discipline of the mind which they afford?"
"I have no right to speak," he said, "as I know nothing about them
except in translations; but I certainly should. Did the Greeks study
dead languages? Did the study of Greek help the Romans to make their
language better? Or did it hurt them? We live too much in the past,"
he said abruptly. "All our lives the past and its fears impede and
lame us. We should live in the present and in the future. I do not
know any poetry but there is one line of poetry which has stuck in my
'. . . Our souls are to the future set,
By invisible springs'
How ignorant that education in mere language leaves us,
ignorant of all the important things of life. We start in life at
eighteen or nineteen with no knowledge of our own body, and with
little or no knowledge of our passions and their effects. We should
all be taught physiology, the rules of health, of waste and
decay—that is vital. We should all know some chemistry some physics.
The romantic ones among us should be taught astronomy and the use of
the telescope, or else the infinitely little and the use of the
microscope. We should study our own language, German, or English. My
God! What a heritage those English have got, and how they neglect
their world-speech for a smattering of Greek and Latin.
"But let us come into the air, for tomorrow I go to work again on a
new job. Won't you put on your things, Ida; our holiday time is nearly
"Was this your holiday task, then?" I asked, touching the book on
gas analysis. Again the inscrutable regard; he nodded.
"But why do you want to analyse gases?" I went on. "I should have
thought that would have been too special for you."
"Oh no," he said lightly; "my idea is that you should know something
about everything, and everything about something. Till youpush the
light of knowledge a little forward into the night you've done
I gasped. Lingg spoke of widening the demesne of knowledge as if
that were easy; yet why not? We went out into the sunlight; it
happened to be one of those clear, sun-bathed days in an American
winter which are so enjoyable. We walked along the lake shore for
miles and miles, but I did most of the talking with Ida. There we had
lunch and came back home.
I noticed for the twentieth time Lingg's unusual strength; I could
not help speaking of it once; he took up a heavy chair and handed it
to me over the table as if it had been a fork or a spoon; it
astonished me; his body was like his mind, of extraordinary power.
"It's very natural," cried Ida. "He runs for a mile or so every
morning, and comes in drenched with perspiration."
On our return it was growing dark; they both pressed me to go to a
theater and see a German play that was being given, a comedy by
Hartleben, I think; but I could not go. I had something better to do,
so I said "Good evening!" to Ida and Louis at their door and hurried
off to Elsie.
On my way to her, I began to puzzle myself, "What does Lingg mean?"
In Spies's office, at Parsons' meetings, I had heardvague threats,
but I paid no further attention to them. I knew that Parsons let off
all his steam in talking and Spies in writing, but when Lingg said,
"the time is not come yet," that "yet" was fraught with menace—was
awful. My heart beat fast as I recalled the quiet, slow words and
quieter tone. Then the chemistry books, and those pages on modern
explosives—every formula underlined. By God! if—I felt as if I were
in the presence of a huge force and waiting for an extraordinary
"Sleepwalking, are you?" cried a voice. I turned and found Raben
beside me. "I saw you in the court," he said; "but you and Lingg were
on the other side of the room, and you disappeared after the verdict;
I looked for you, but you had vanished. A silly case, wasn't it?"
"I don't know what you mean," I said; "I thought it was a just case,
and a disgraceful verdict."
"You didn't surely expect an American jury to give a verdict against
the police and in favour of an epileptic like Fischer, did you?"
"Yes," I replied, holding on to myself. "I expected an honest
"Honest," he repeated, shrugging his shoulders. "The jury believed
ten Americanpolicemen in preference to four foreigners honestly
"Then I'm a liar?" I turned to him hotly.
"My dear Schnaubelt." he said, "even you can be mistaken; the
affirmative, too, is always stronger than a negative; the policemen
say they saw Fischer strike Bonfield. You can only say you did not see
it; but he may have struck him without your seeing it."
What was the use of arguing; the man knew better. I tried to turn
"Are you working for 'The New York Herald,' still?"
"Yes," he replied, "and they like my stuff. I had a 'scoop' to-day
on that verdict; I wired it before the police had finished testifying;
I knew how it would be." He turned to me abruptly. "May I speak openly
to you?" he asked.
"Of course," I replied. "What is it?"
"Well," he began slowly, "don't go about so much with that fellow
Lingg; he's badly looked upon; there are fishy stories about him, and
he's mad with conceit."
I was about to break out again; but I would not give him the paltry
satisfaction of thinking he had stirred me.
"Really," I said gravely; and then, "his disease is not catching, is
it?" and I laughed—genius not being infectious.
I caught a gleam in Raben's eye, and felt certain of his spite.
"All right," he remarked coolly; "remember I warned you. You know,
I suppose, that Miss Ida was seduced by Lingg and sent on the streets
by him—a pretty couple!" His tone was more infamous even than his
The blood grew hot in my temples; but I held to my resolves to show
nothing, to give the venomous creature no satisfaction.
"I know all I want to know," I said carelessly; "but now I must bid
you 'good-bye,'" and we parted.
"What a vile snake!" I thought to myself, and then wondered was
Raben jealous, or what was the matter with him; I did not know then
that envy and wounded vanity would lead a man to worse than slander.
I gave up the riddle; Raben was vile by nature, I decided; but if I
had known how vile—perhaps it's better that we should not see beyond
* * * * *
I had promised to meet Elsie; we had arranged to meet at least three
times during the week, and we generally spent the whole of Sunday
together. It was one of my griefs that though I had introduced Elsie
to Ida and Lingg she would not become friendly withthem; she disliked
Ida for calling herself Miss Miller while living openly with Lingg.
"If she called herself Mrs. Lingg, I should not mind so much," she
used to say. Elsie was always conventional, and was certain to be
found on the side of the established order. Everything exceptional or
abnormal seemed to her erratic, and in itself evil. Ida, for example,
never wore corsets; Elsie wore them always; though her lithe figure,
little round breasts, and narrow hips would have looked better
unsupported than Ida's more generous outlines.
I often tried to explain to myself this conventionalism in Elsie,
but without result. She had as much brains as Ida; sometimes I thought
her cleverer; she had certainly more temperament—was it distrust of
her own passionate feelings that made her cling to accepted rules?
In any case, it was the shock of contradictories in her which made
her so eternally new and attractive to me; the passionate impulses in
her, beating wave-like against her immutable self-control, lent her an
infinite enchantment. Had she been cold, I should never have cared
for her; had she given way to passion I should have loved her; but
never admired her, and even my love perhaps would then never have
been whipped to ecstasy as it was byher perpetual alternation of
yielding and denying. I had to conquer her afresh every time I met
her; but this talk of Lingg's about the power of mere desire to get
its own way, influenced me unconsciously I think, when I was with her.
There was no willful purpose of seduction in me; that I think is
often assumed without reason; the natural desire is there blindly
seeking its own gratification; men and women are the playthings of
But whatever the cause I seemed to be gradually making way with
Elsie. Since I had written for the American papers I had been earning
more money, and this extra money enabled me to take her out to dinner
and the theater, and to drive her home afterwards, which was a
special delight to her. One night I had had a private room; we had
dined together and then sat before the fire talking. She came and sat
on my knees. After she had been in my arms for perhaps an hour her
resistance seemed to be melting. Suddenly she stopped me and drew
away. I could not help reproaching her.
"If I were rich, you would not leave me."
"If you were rich," she said, facing me, "everything would be easy;
it's always easy to yield to love." She flushed and stared into the
A moment later she went on, as ifspeaking to herself—"How I hate
poverty; hate it, hate it! I have been poor all my life," she said,
sitting on the arm of the chair and looking me straight in the eyes.
"You don't know what that means."
"Don't I, indeed?" I interjected.
She went on—"No, you don't know what it means to a girl to be
poor, mean poor—cent poor, not dollar poor—to go to school in winter
through the snow with icy feet because your boots are old and patched,
and can't keep out the wet; to wake in the night and see your mother
trying to mend 'em, and crying over 'em. By poor, I mean cold always
in winter, because bread and drippin' and coffee don't keep you warm."
She paused again; I waited patiently, my heart hurting me in pity.
"I was always hungry as a child, always, and cold every winter. That
was childhood to me. When I grew up and saw I was pretty and fetched
men, do you think I didn't want to go to swell restaurants and wear
"I haven't done it because of my mother, who's a darling; but is she
always to be poor? No, sir, not if I can help it, and I'm going to,
you bet," and she cocked her little round chin defiantly. "I'd just
die for her, right now;she lives for me. I want to get everything
nice for her now she's getting on.
"You mustn't think badly of me; girls want money and little
comforts more than men; we're not so strong, I reckon. I've known boys
to like fightin' the cold and hunger. I never knew a girl who did. I
hate 'em both.
"I've seen boys, big boys, men, proud of dirty old clothes; put 'em
on and like 'em. I never saw a girl proud of an ugly old frock, never.
We want to be nice and dainty and comfy more than men."
She looked so tantalizingly pretty that I could not help taking her
in my arms, and kissing her, and saying to her—
"But I'll get you all that, and much more, and it will be heaps more
fun getting it bit by bit."
"And suppose you don't get it? Never get it?" said Elsie, holding me
away from her. "We girls don't want risks. I hate ups and downs. I
want a comfy house, and nice things, always, sure, sure."
"Are you afraid to risk it?" I asked.
"It isn't the risk, even of being poor," she said. "How do you think
I'd feel if I pulled you down? Oh yes, some time or other the strain
on you might be too much. You might get out of work or times would be
hard,and you'd be shut out, and then—I should feel I'd made it
harder for you. And my mother? No, sir. Love's the best thing in the
world, the honey of life; but poverty is the worst, the vinegar, and a
little vinegar soon takes away the taste of the honey. I won't be
engaged, and I won't yield, for that would be the same thing, and you
mustn't be a tiny bit hurt."
I was not hurt: to be with her was a perpetual intoxication; but I
went back to kissing her and praising her, as the drunkard goes back
to his drink, the opium-smoker to his pipe, to find life in a higher
expression, an intenser reality.
It must not be thought that all this courting was merely sensuous;
the spirit always counted as much as the body. Often and often I would
sit and recite German poems to her, translating them into English as I
went along; little bits of Heine; folk songs, the pearls hidden in the
rough life of the common people, words that spring from the heart and
are of universal appeal. I remember one day making her cry with those
simple four lines of Heine, which hold in them all the heartache of
life, distilled into pure beauty:
"Es ist eine alte Geschichte
Doch bleibt Sie immer neu
Und wem Sie just passieret
Dem bricht das Herz entzwei."
There we sat holding each other like two children, while the tears
of the world's sorrow flooded our eyes.
In telling the story of my idolatry, the tenderness and affection,
the passion of admiration, all the fibers of spiritual attachment are
difficult to bring into the proper perspective, because they were
always present, and I should only give the effect of monotony if I
dwelt on them, it seems to me, where there was no monotony.
My passion, on the other hand, was full of incidents, and always
new. The first time I ventured to kiss her neck (it makes me flush
still to think of it) marks an epoch in my life; every liberty gained
was an intoxication, so that it may seem in telling the story as if I
gave undue place to passion.
I don't know why, but her figure awakened in me a sort of insane
curiosity. Her hands were so slim and pretty; I wanted to see her
feet, and was delighted when I found them slim, too, and arched, with
tiny ankles. But then she drew away from me.
"That's mean of you, Elsie," I complained. "If you deny the one
thing, you ought to give me as much as you can—please." The argument
was irrefutable, but another had more weight.
"You are perfectly beautiful, I know, butyou hide yourself as if
you were ugly—please let me, please. Let my eyes have pleasure, too,
please." The compliment and the pleading persistence together
triumphed, and sooner or later I caught a glimpse, or was permitted a
glimpse of the slim round limbs. She was beautifully made, what the
French would call a fausse maigre; small bones, perfectly
covered, a slight lissom figure. All my senses grew quick, my blood
hot; but I knew by this time that the cooler I appeared, the more
unconscious, the further she would yield.
Half an hour afterwards she pushed me from her suddenly, and rose
up and went in front of the glass.
"Look how my face is blazing, sir, and my hair is all coming down;
we must not meet any more. No, I mean it. This must be the last time."
Oh, I knew the words by heart, the terrible words which seemed to
clamp my heart with fear and turn me into a blind beast rage.
Whenever she felt intensely, had been made to feel against her will,
she always threatened not to come again. I was always in dread of
losing her, always in greatest dread when I had most nearly brought
her to complete self-surrender; she seemed to avenge her own yielding
on me, and, poor fool that I was, I resented this as unfair.
Butsomehow or other before parting we nearly always made it up again;
nine times out of ten through my humble submission. I am proud to
think now that, at any rate, I had sense enough to know that yielding
and being humble, was the only way to complete triumph over my proud,
It was very hard for me to tell whether I was winning her or not.
Over a period of three months, however, I saw that I had made great
advances, that what was not permitted at first was allowed to me now
without question, but often from day to day the waves of her
submission seemed to ebb.
One thing was certain, I was falling more hopelessly in love with
her week by week; every meeting made me more devoted to her, more and
more her slave, or was it the slave of my own desire? I could not
separate them; Elsie was to me desire incarnate.
As summer came she grew prettier and prettier; the light, thin
dresses moulded her; she was like a Tanagra statuette, I said to
myself, as beautiful as one of the swaying figures on a Greek vase.
And I carried the fragrance of her lips, and the slim roundness of her
limbs with me from meeting to meeting.
MY memory now of the sequence of events is perhaps not so
good as it might be; but having no wish to misstate the facts, and no
power of getting at the newspapers which might vivify or perhaps
distort my memory, I shall simply set down my impressions. It seems to
me that about this time there was a certain slackening, both in the
revolutionary current of feeling, and in the brutality of repression.
A strike of streetcar employees, which occurred about this time, did
not lead to anything; these employees were for the most part American,
and the police never attempted to interfere with their public
meetings, or to limit their freedom of speech. This wholesome respect
of the police for people of their own race, naturally caused some
indignation among us foreigners who had never been treated fairly by
the authorities; but not much. Young men, and most of the foreign
workmen were young men, are so inclined to hope, that we at once
assumed that the police had learned wisdom and self-control, and that
there would be no morebludgeonings, no more brutalities, and so our
talks at the Lehr and Wehr Verein assumed immediately a somewhat
One discussion was of my making, and I recall it because it shows
in what a masterly way Lingg's mind worked even when he was at every
disadvantage. I had talked to him one afternoon about the Gorgias of
Plato. I had always thought that the argument of Callicles about laws
was the furthest throw of Plato's thought, the wisest hypothesis on
the subject which had come out of antiquity. Lingg asked me to set it
forth at length that evening at the meeting of the Lehr and Wehr
Verein, and I consented. The argument is very simple. Socrates
demolishes adversary after adversary with ease, till at length he
comes to Callicles, whom Plato pictures as a sort of well-bred man of
the world. Socrates as usual tries to fly away from the argument on a
rhetorical statement about the sacredness of laws, the same theme
which he developed later in the Crito, when he declared that the laws
on this earth are but faint reflections of the eternal, divine laws
which obtain throughout the universe, and throughout eternity, and
which, therefore should be obeyed. Callicles throws a new light on the
subject; he says that laws are merely made by the weak for their own
protection. The strong man is notallowed to knock down the weak one
and take away his wife or his goods, as he would do in a state of
nature. The laws are a sort of sheepfold; walls put up by the weak in
their own interest and for their own protection against the strong;
mere class defenses which are purely selfish, and therefore have
nothing whatever to do with right and wrong, and are in no sense
sacred or divine.
An interesting debate followed, but nothing of weight was said on
the subject till Lingg got up. His very method of speaking had a
strange individuality about it; he scarcely ever used an adjective;
his sentences were made up of verbs and nouns, and the peculiar
slowness with which he spoke was due to the fact that with a very
large vocabulary he was resolved upon picking the right word.
"The argument of Callicles is foolish," he said; "how can the weak
make defense against the strong, the sheep against the wolves.
Furthermore, laws are not for the protection of persons, primarily, as
they would be if the weak made them; but for the protection of
property, which is the appanage of the strong. Even in this Christian
town you can knock a man down savagely, injure him for life, and go
and plead excitement or rage, and pay five dollars and a quarter, and
you are held to have purged the offense. But take five dollars
fromhis person, even without injuring him, and you will probably get
six months' imprisonment, and the prosecution will be conducted by the
State. Laws are made for the protection of property; they are made by
the strong in their own interest; the wolf wants to be assured
peaceable enjoyment of his 'kill.'"
Once again the man made a sensation; but this time Raben got up and
tried to dissipate the impression. He talked the usual vapid nonsense;
laws protected both the weak and the strong, and were good in
themselves. He even quoted a verse of Schiller beginning—
"Sei im Besitz . . . ."
—a sort of poetic rendering of the common American
saying, "Possession is nine parts of the law," without seeing that
Schiller was speaking ironically. No one, however, paid any attention
to him or answered him, which, of course, enraged him, for he
attributed our silence to a conspiracy of envy.
I could not help asking Lingg to explain how he hoped for any
improvement if it was indeed the strong who made the laws in their
own interest. He answered me at once, having perhaps thought the
matter over long before, for in no other way could I explain the clear
precision of his statement.
"At all times," he said, "some of the wolves have taken the side of
the sheep; partly outof pity, partly out of an intimate conviction
that they must first lift up the poor if they themselves would reach a
higher level of existence. It even seems to me probable," he went on
slowly, "that men are gradually being drawn upwards and humanized by a
power working through them, for more and more of the strong are taking
the part of the weak, through an inborn sense of justice and fair
play. A man's work produces ten times as much now as it did before we
knew how to use steam and electricity; it seems to us that the
labourer has a right to a part of this extra product. And so even
those who could take it all from him are inclined to leave him a
little of what he has created."
He ended up splendidly, as he often did, by appealing to the heart.
"There is an intimate conviction in all of us," he said, "that justice
is better than injustice, even when we seem to profit by the wrong;
generosity is its own justification."
Raben sneered; but Raben was, perhaps, the only person who sneered.
Mommsen's "Cæsar" had had an extraordinary effect upon me when I read
it as a boy, and when Lingg was speaking my thoughts went back at once
to Cæsar. He spoke with strange authority, and with a still nobler
spirit than Cæsar's; but it was the same spirit, the spiritwhich
induced Cæsar to pass a law letting off all debtors with a payment of
three-quarters of their indebtedness, and preventing their persons
being sold for debt.
It was from this time on that I began to realize how great a man
Louis Lingg was. Whatever the question might be, if he spoke at all,
he spoke as a master. At the end of the debate Raben came up to us
and was very pleasant; he made himself particularly agreeable to
Lingg; it struck me as disloyal and false of him, and it hurt me that
Lingg should receive his advances, or appear to receive them, in his
usual courteous way.
When we got out of the meeting, and were on our way home together,
Lingg turned to me with the question—
"Why do you bring that man Raben to our meetings? Are you such a
friend of his?"
I immediately put him right—
"Raben brought me to the meeting of the Lehr and Wehr Verein first
of all. He told me he was a great friend of yours."
"I met him," said Lingg, "only once before I saw him there with you
in the meeting; he came to me as a reporter of 'The New York Herald;'
I answered his questions, and that was all."
I then told him all I knew of Raben, and something foolishly
good-natured in me mademe paint the man better than he was, paint
him in high lights and leave out the shadows which existed, as I had
already reason to know. When I think of my folly I could kill myself;
if I had only told Lingg then the bare, simple truth about Raben,
things might have turned out very differently; but I was foolishly,
feebly optimistic, sentimentally desirous of praising the damned
creature because he was a German, or I thought he was because he spoke
the language—as if a viper has a nationality! And all the while
Lingg's deep eyes rested on me, searching me, reading me, I am sure,
When we got home, I went up with them as usual for half an hour's
talk before going back to my rooms, when suddenly Lingg began again.
"You regard Raben as true?"
"Surely," I exclaimed, "he is with us, I suppose?"
"Did you notice how he spoke tonight?" asked Lingg. (I nodded.) "I
mean that jargon of American and German which he uses. Did you remark
how he kept repeating two or three words, which serve him as
adjectives for everything? 'Awful' is one in English,
'schaendlich—shameful' is another; he immediately translates the
German epithet into English."
I nodded my head, wondering what was coming.
Suddenly Lingg produced a piece of paper.
"Here is an anonymous letter I got. I do not propose to read it, but
here are four lines in it, and in the four lines there is
'schaendlich—shameful' twice, and 'awful' twice. A letter denouncing
you as a traitor to the cause and throwing dirt at me; the man is too
malignant to be effective."
He squeezed the letter into a small ball in his hand while he spoke,
opened the stove door and threw it in. As he straightened himself he
looked me full in the face.
"Raben wrote that letter. Be on your guard against him."
"Good God!" I cried. "What do you mean?"
Suddenly the icy-calm seemed to break up—
"I mean," and again that menace was in his voice, "that he is
envious of us, of all of us, of you, of me, of our good faith, of our
liking for one another. Look at the thin mean face of him, the
washed-out hair and eyes; something feeble and assertive in the whole
creature! Let us talk of something else."
And not one word more did he ever say on the subject. Thinking it
all over, of what Ihad let Raben say to me about Lingg and about
Ida, my cheeks blazed with shame. I could have killed the foul-tongued
snake; I wish now that I had.
All this time Ida said nothing; but her tact soon smoothed over the
sore place, and brought us back to kindly feelings, though she, too,
felt compelled to say that she had never liked Raben, that she felt
that Raben was not with us, but against us.
"From now on," I said, "I will take care, you may be sure." And so
the matter dropped. . . .
The lull in the political storm did not last long. Almost
immediately after the events I have talked about, I think some time in
March, there came a strike among the pig packers. Nine out of ten
workmen in these establishments were Germans and Swedes, officered by
Americans. The foremen and speeders-up, that is, were nearly all
Americans, and these foremen took small part in the strike.
The very first meeting of the foreign workmen on strike was
dispersed by the police, and there was some passive resistance on the
part of the strikers. The police were led by a Captain Schaack, who
seemed to have modeled himself on Bonfield. These strikers were not
quite ordinary workmen; they were notonly young and strong; but they
had learned the use of knives, and they were not minded to be clubbed
by the police like sheep. Parsons threw himself into the strike with
his accustomed vigour, and so did Spies. In his weekly paper, Parsons
called on American workmen to stand by their foreign brothers and
resist the tyranny of the employers. The fighting spirit grew in
intensity from hour to hour, and the flame of revolt was no doubt
fanned by "The Alarm" and "Die Arbeiter Zeitung."
I find in reading over what I have already written that I have not
differenced Parsons and Spies sufficiently, though they were in
reality completely different personalities. Parsons was a man of very
ordinary reading, but with really great oratorical powers; arguments
to him were but occasions for rhetoric, and he made mistakes in his
statements and in the sequence of his reasoning, but he had genuine
enthusiasm; he believed in the Eight Hours' Bill for working-men, and
a minimum wage, and all the other moderate reforms which commend
themselves to the average American workman.
Spies, on the other hand, was an idealist; far better read than
Parsons and a clearer thinker, but emotional and optimistic to an
extraordinary degree. He really believed inthe possibility of an
ordered Socialist paradise on earth, from which individual greed and
acquisitiveness should be banished, and in which all men should share
the good things of this world equally. Blanc's phrase was always on
his lips, "To each according to his needs; from each according to his
Both Parsons and Spies were in the main unselfish, and both spent
themselves and their substance freely in the cause of labour. Parsons
was the more resolute character; but both of them soon became marked
men, for at length that happened which from the beginning might have
A meeting was called on a waste space in Packerstown, and over a
thousand workmen came together. I went there out of curiosity. Lingg,
I may say here, always went alone to these strike meetings. Ida told
me once that he suffered so much at them that he could not bear to be
seen, and perhaps that was the explanation of his solitary ways.
Fielden, the Englishman, spoke first, and was cheered to the echo; the
workmen knew him as a working-man and liked him; besides, he talked
in a homely way, and was easy to understand. Spies spoke in German and
was cheered also. The meeting was perfectly orderly when three hundred
police tried to disperse it. The action was ill-advised, tosay the
best of it, and tyrannical; the strikers were hurting no one and
interfering with no one. Without warning or reason the police tried to
push their way through the crowd to the speakers; finding a sort of
passive resistance and not being able to overcome it, they used their
clubs savagely. One or two of the strikers, hot-heads, bared their
knives, and at once the police, led on by that madman, Schaack, drew
their revolvers and fired. It looked as if the police had been waiting
for the opportunity. Three strikers were shot dead on the spot, and
more than twenty were wounded, several of them dangerously, before
the mob drew sullenly away from the horrible place. A leader, a word,
and not one of the police would have escaped alive; but the leader was
not there, and the word was not given, so the wrong was done, and
I do not know how I reached my room that afternoon. The sight of
the dead men lying stark there in the snow had excited me to madness.
The picture of one man followed me like an obsession; he was wounded
to death, shot through the lungs; he lifted himself up on his left
hand and shook the right at the police, crying in a sort of frenzy
till the spouting blood choked him—
"Bestie! Bestie!" ("Beasts! Beasts!")
I can still see him wiping the bloodstainedfroth from his lips; I
went to help him; but all he could gasp was, "Weib! Kinder! (Wife,
children!)" Never shall I forger the despair in his face. I supported
him gently; again and again I wiped the blood from his lips; every
breath brought up a flood; his poor eyes thanked me, though he could
not speak, and soon his eyes closed; flickered out, as one might say,
and he lay there still enough in his own blood; "murdered," as I said
to myself when I laid the poor body back; "murdered!"
How I got home I do not know; but I told the whole story to Engel,
and we sat together for hours with tears in our eyes, and rage and
hate in our hearts. That night Engel came with me to the Lehr and Wehr
Verein. Already every one knew what had happened; the gravity of the
occurrence weighed upon all of us. One after the other we went
through the saloon and took seats upstairs, saying very little. After
we had almost given them up, Lingg and Ida came in. To my astonishment
he moved briskly, spoke as usual, called the meeting together in his
ordinary tone, and asked who would speak; evidently he knew nothing
of the shooting.
Every one seemed to look at me; it was plain that they had heard I
was an eye-witness, so I got up, and read an account out ofa Chicago
evening paper. The paper travestied the facts. "Three or four men have
been killed, and fifteen or sixteen dangerously wounded while
resisting the police with knives." One policeman, it appeared, had had
a cut on his arm sewn up—one policeman, that was the extent of the
resistance. I added to the newspaper account a brief report of what
had taken place. There had been passive resistance; but no active
resistance till men were being clubbed, then I did see one or two
knives drawn; but immediately, before they could be used, the police
drew their revolvers and shot down unarmed men. "They were
foreigners," I said, "that was why they were shot down. We Germans,
who have done our share in the making of this country, are not to be
allowed to live in peace in it. These men were murdered," and I took
my seat, blazing with indignation and rage.
Raben was not present at this meeting; indeed, after his somewhat
futile attempt to correct Lingg about the laws, he seldom put in an
appearance at any of our gatherings. I think I remember he came once
for a few minutes. After I sat down Lingg got up, and made an
extraordinary speech. I wish I could report it word for word as he
delivered it, gravely, seriously, to those grave andserious men who
were being driven to extremity.
"Resistance to tyranny is a duty," he began. "The submission
preached by Christ is the one part of His reaching which I am unable
to accept. It may be that I am a pagan; but I do not believe in
turning the other cheek to the smiter. I remember a phrase of Tom
Paine, who was the leading spirit of the American revolution; he said
that the English race would never be humanized till they had learned
in England what war was, till their blood had been shed on their own
hearthstones by a foreign foe. I do not believe the insolent strong
will ever refrain from tyranny till they are frightened by the results
Professor Schwab seemed to be thrown off his balance by Lingg's
words; every one felt that there was something fateful in them; this
impression was so strong that it seemed to have shaken the professor
out of all self-control. He got up and made a rambling speech about
the impossibility of doing anything in a democracy; the tyrant was
hydra-headed; we had overthrown kings and set up the people, and King
Log was worse than King Stork, so he counselled patience and
education, and sat down. Lingg would not have this, and took up his
"No one should imagine that society is able with impunity to do
wrong; tout se paie—every evil is avenged; though it does
look as if a large community could commit wrongs which would put an
end to the existence of a smaller body . . .
"But surely the true lesson of history is the growth of the
individual as a force. Every discovery of science," he went on, with a
thrill of triumph in his strong voice, "strengthens the individual. In
the past he had one man's life in his hand; a single oppressor could
always be killed by a single slave." The whole meeting seemed to
shiver with apprehension. "But now the individual has the lives of
hundreds in his hand, and some day soon he will have the lives of
thousands, of a whole city, then they will cease to do wrong, the
tyrants, or cease to exist."
He had not raised his voice above the usual tone; his speech was
even slower than usual, yet I remember certain of his words as if I
heard him speaking now. There was an extraordinary passion in his
speech, an extraordinary menace in his whole person, a flame in the
deep eyes. The words of this man seemed like deeds; frightened one
A MORNING or two later I was surprised by a little letter
from Ida Miller, in which she asked me to come and see her some
morning soon, "if possible on Wednesday next; he will be out then; I
want to consult with you. Say nothing to any one of this."
What did it mean? I asked myself in wonder. What could Ida want to
see me about, and why did she want to see me while Lingg was away? I
puzzled any brains in vain; but the cares and anxieties of the day and
hour absorbed me, and I forgot the letter for the moment; I just noted
on my almanac that I was to call on her the next Wednesday at noon.
In truth, weightier matters would have been put out of one's head
by the growing excitement in the city. It really seemed to us as if
the American population had gone mad—or were we perhaps misjudging
the people because of the newspapers? No one could deny that the
newspapers were hysterically insane; they event on whipping up the
passionsof their readers day after day, hour after hour. If one had
not known that newspapers increase their circulation in troubled times
and periods of general excitement, one could not have understood the
ape-like malevolence they displayed. When they were not bragging and
attributing the highest virtues to themselves, they were running down
foreigners and foreign workmen as if we had been of a lower race. The
fond imaginings of the journalists were the reverse of the truth, and
this fact contained in itself the seed of danger. The foreigners were
outnumbered six to one, and disunited by differences of race and
religion and language; but whatever original political thinking was
done in the town was done by them. Intellectually they were the
superiors of the Americans among whom they lived. It was brute force
against brains, the present and the oppressors against the
dispossessed and the future. It was the intellectual honesty and
clearsightedness of the foreigners which gave them strength and made
them a force to be reckoned with. Day by day they won adherents among
the American workmen; day by day they grew in power and influence, and
the understanding of this was what maddened the authorities against
It was Spies who really ended the strike, and at the same time
concentrated publicattention on himself, and incidentally on
Parsons. He published an article in the "Arbeiter Zeitung" in German,
written by a German workman, which contained almost incredible tales
of dirt and filth of the pork-packing establishments. "The workers
were always above their soles in blood," he wrote, "and this blood was
swept off the Moors down shutes and utilized in sausages." The account
was made up of such details; but it had little effect till Parsons got
it translated into English, and published it in "The Alarm." I did the
translation, and I went out for Parsons immediately and interviewed
five or six more of the strikers, and put in their accounts, by way of
corroboration. One fact which I discovered was quoted everywhere as
horror's crown. It had come under my notice in one of my visits to a
pork-packing establishment. As their throats were cut the pigs were
plunged into a bath of very hot water in order to loosen their
bristles, so that they could easily be scraped off. Thousands of pigs
passed through this boiling bath daily; long before midday it was
fetid, stinking with blood and excrement; but no one paid any
attention; the carcasses fell into the revolting mixture and were
supposed to be washed clean by the contact with nameless filth. At any
rate, that was all the washing they ever got; they werehacked up at
once into flitches, hams, sides, and so forth, and thrown steaming
into the brine barrels, ready for sales. But even this was not the
worst of the matter. Fresh water was supplied each day; but the baths
themselves were only cleaned out when the accumulation of filth in the
bottom and round the sides made a clearance imperatively necessary. So
long as only the food suffered, and the health of the workmen, nothing
was done. The baths stank for weeks in summer, and no one paid any
attention to the fever-breeding filth. "Pork-packing ain't a perfumery
store," was the remark of a millionaire packer, who thought the matter
could be disposed of in that comforting way.
The American newspapers could not afford to leave us this field;
they, too, sent out reporters, who supplied them with other details of
the way food was being prepared, sickening details, incredibly
revolting, and soon the town was ringing with the scandal. The better
American sheets called upon the Government to see that the inspectors
did their duty and protected the consumers; but there is no doubt in
my mind that the publication of the facts brought the strike to an end
quicker than anything else could have done. The employers saw that it
was more profitable to yield to the demands of the strikers than
losetheir sales through the exposure of their filthy, careless
All this led to a discussion in the Lehr and Wehr Verein, in which
Lingg took the ground that the medieval laws against the adulteration
of food and of many other things, would have to be brought into force
again. "There is far too much individual liberty in America," was his
text. "Professor Schwab has already given us the scientific reasons
for it; but this freedom of the individual must be restrained, when it
comes to giving us soda instead of wheat for bread, filth from the
floors instead of wholesome meat. We shall have to restrain the
ruthless competition in a hundred ways."
We were all agreed that there should be a minimum wage established
by the State, an eight-hour day, and even the right to work; Lingg
insisted that the workman who claimed this right should be paid by the
municipality or by the State the minimum wage, what he called a living
wage. Government work, too, he declared, should come as little as
possible into competition with work directed by the individual;
Government work should be for the welfare of all—the extension of
roads, afforestation of waste places, and so on. I only mention this
to show the man's innate moderation and practical wisdom.
As soon as the strike was over everyoneseemed to wipe it from
memory; nobody cared for the three or four people killed, or the
twenty poor foreigners who had been wounded.
On the Wednesday morning I went to Lingg's rooms. Ida met me at the
door; I was quite cheerful. We talked for a few minutes the usual
nothings; but all the time there was a constraint in her; she was
talking, as it were, from the lips outwards, not saying what she
meant; at last I faced the music.
"What is the matter, Ida?" I asked. "Why did you send for me?"
She looked at me at first, and did not answer; she seemed troubled,
and wanted sympathy, wanted me perhaps to divine the answer; but
though sympathetic, I could not guess her secret. I pressed her to
tell me what was the matter.
"Our anxieties are always greatest," I said, "when we do not talk
about them. Once talked about they grow less. Tell me what it is."
"There is nothing certain," she said; "that is, I cannot convince
you that there is any imminent danger; but there is. You know Louis is
against marriage; talks of it as an invention of the priesthood, a
means of filling their pockets, like all the other sacraments. The
other night when we came home afteryour account of the shooting,
Louis told me that in the present state of things he was wrong; he
thought we ought to get married at once."
She looked at me with appealing eyes; her lips were trembling; I
saw she was overwrought; I almost smiled; it did not appear to me to
be very serious one way or the other; but she went on—
"It frightened me; he has not altered his opinions, not changed in
any way; he was thinking of me, and wants us to be married at once.
Don't you understand? At once! That is because he feels that soon he
will be no longer here. Oh, Rudolph, I'm frightened half to death; I
can't sleep for fear," and the sweet face quivered pitifully.
"What do you mean?" I cried. But even while I spoke I began to fear
she was right. Of course I tried to cheer her up; tried to show her
that her fears were exaggerated; but I did not convince her, and bit
by bit her fears infected me, began to give shape and meaning to my
own vague dread.
"Perhaps," I said to myself, "Lingg's words seem like deeds, have
the weight of deeds, because they are closely related to deeds,
because he means to make good. That would explain everything"; and as
the conviction struck me, I shivered, and we lookedat each other, a
nameless fear in both our minds.
Suddenly, as if unable to control herself any longer, or perhaps
excited by my sympathy, she burst out, her long white hands
accentuating her words—
"Oh, if you knew how I love him, and how happy I've been in his
love. It's nothing to say 'I am his.' I am part of him; I feel as he
feels, think as he thinks; he has given me eyes to see with, and
courage to live or die with him; but not without him. If you knew
where I was when he met me. Ah, what a man! I had been fooled and
deserted, and didn't care what became of me, and he came and oh, at
first I scarcely dared hope for his love, and he gave like a king,
without counting. How kind he is and strong. . . .
"You know men and women are much alike; we women at any rate all
pretend not to feel any sex-attraction save towards the man we love;
but in reality we often feel it. We love a man for instance who is
quick and passionate and virile, but when we meet a man who is slow
and strong and domineering our soft flesh feels the force in him, and
we cannot restrain our liking. The flesh is faithless in woman as in
man; though we control it better. But since I met Lingg my flesh even
has been faithful to him. I desirenothing but him, my body is as
loyal to him as my soul. He is my soul, the vital principle of me. I
cannot live without him. I will not . . .
"I am so happy, I hate to give it all up. I know it's vile and base
of me: I ought to think of those others who suffer while we enjoy; but
love is so sweet, and we are so young; we might have each other a
little longer, don't you think? Or is that very selfish of me?" And
the luminous, lovely, wet eyes appealed to me. I had never been so
shaken. I could not say, "You are exaggerating." I could frame the
words, but could not utter them. She was so sincere and so certain
that she lifted me to truths. I could only look in her face with
unshed tears, and nod my head. At times life is appalling—more tragic
than any imagining.
"We must trust him," I said at last. Out of my sympathy with her
the words came, and at once they seemed to help her.
"Yes, yes," she cried, "he knows how a woman loves love; he will
not be hard on me, but he is very hard on himself," she added with
trembling lips, "and that is the same thing."
"Life is not gay for any of us," was all my wisdom found; "you are
rarely lucky ever to have found such complete love, such perfect
Again I had struck the right note by chance. She nodded her head,
and her eyes cleared.
"I wish I could have one day," I went on, "like the months you have
"With Elsie?" she asked, smiling, and as I was about to say "Yes,"
Lingg came into the room. He shook hands with me, showing no trace in
his manner of astonishment, embarrassment, or misgiving.
"It is good to see you," he said simply as he went over to the
table, and put down some books that he had brought in. "Did Ida send
for you?" and his eyes probed mine a moment. "I mean," he went on more
lightly, "there is a sort of coincidence in the matter, for I wanted
to see you today. It is such a fine day, and I have been working very
hard. Why not let us go out and have a holiday? Take something to eat
with us, German fashion, sausages, beer, bread, and a potato salad,
echt Deutsch, eh? and eat in a boat on the lake."
He seemed in a radiant good humor, strangely light-hearted. Looking
at him, all my fears vanished, and I immediately backed up the project
with all my heart. I, too, had been over-working, and wanted a
holiday; so we began to get the things together, packing up the
eatables in a little hamper. Lingg allowed me to carry the basket, I
noticed, though it was his usual custom to carryeverything himself.
He would walk apart from us, too, though he usually walked between us.
Why do I remember all these things so clearly, though I do not think
I remarked any of them at the moment?
We went down to the lake shore and engaged a row-boat, and the man
who hired us the boat wanted to come with us, or to send a boy with
us; but Lingg would not hear of it.
"Give us a good safe boat," he said, "your broadest, safest boat;
put in a good life-belt, too, because we are unused to the water, and
we want to enjoy ourselves without being afraid of capsizing."
The American laughed at us, thinking we were silly Dutchmen, and
gave us the boat we asked for, a broad, heavy barge of a thing. Lingg
told Ida to go and sit in the stern-sheets and steer, and then put me
on the after-thwart to row a pair of sculls, and went with a pair of
sculls himself into the bow. He left a thwart between us unoccupied.
That, too, I remember distinctly, though at the time I did not notice
When we pushed off and began to row, I thought that Lingg meant to
get half a mile or so out, perhaps a mile, and then eat; but he rowed
on steadily. At last, I turned round to him—
"Look here, Lingg, I want something to eat. When are we to have
He simply smiled.
"When we can no longer see the city," and bent to the oars again.
We must have rowed for two hours and a half, must have made seven or
eight miles out into the lake, before I put down the sculls and said—
"I say, Lingg, do you want to row across the Lake? Or do you call
this pleasure to work us like slaves, and give us nothing to eat?"
At once he came back to me on the afterthwart, and we had our meal,
and I tried to make merry; but Lingg was always rather silent, and
today Ida was silent, too, and nervous; she upset things, and was
evidently overwrought. When we had finished the simple meal, and put
away the things, I proposed to row back, but Lingg said "No," and then
got up on the after-thwart and stood there looking towards Chicago.
When he stepped down again he said—
"Not a thing to be seen except this"; and he took a sort of boy's
catapult out of his pocket.
"What on earth's that for?" I asked.
"To try this," he answered, and he took a little ball of cotton-wool
out of his trousers pocket, and, stripping the cotton off,discovered
a round ball, about the size of a walnut.
"What may that be?" I asked laughingly; but as I laughed I caught a
glimpse of Ida's face, and again the fear came back, for she was
leaning forward staring at Lingg with parted lips, and all her soul in
her wide eyes. He said—
"That is a bomb, a small bomb, which I am going to try."
"Good God!" I exclaimed, astounded so that I could not think or
"I want the catapult," he went on, "to throw it some distance from
the boat, because I think that if I threw it with my hand it might
wreck the boat, and we might have to try to swim back to shore.
Whereas, this catapult will throw it twice as far as I could, and we
shall see the results of it, and be able to gauge them pretty
I do not suppose I am more of a coward than other men; but his
quiet words terrified me. My heart was in my mouth, I could not
breathe freely, and my hands were cold and wet. I said—
"Do you mean it, Lingg?"
The inscrutable eyes rested on me, searched me, judged me, and
against their condemnation my pluck seemed to come back to me, and my
blood began to flow again. That wasthe terrible thing about Louis
Lingg: he judged you by what there was in you; he liked you, or
admired you, for the qualities you possessed, and absolutely refused
to attribute to you qualities which you did not possess. To know him
was a perpetual tonic. I would not let him see I was afraid, I'd have
I am honestly trying to tell exactly what went on in me, because in
comparison with Lingg I look upon myself as merely an ordinary man,
and if I did things that ordinary men do not do and cannot do, it is
because of Lingg's influence on me.
As the spirit came back to me, and the blood rushed through my
veins in hot waves, I could see that his eyes were kindlier; they
rested on me with approval, and I was intensely proud and lifted up in
soul because of it.
"Shall we try the bomb," he said, "or are you frightened that we
may have to swim?"
"I will trust your judgment," I said carelessly. "I expect you know
about what it will do. But when did you make it?"
"I began working a year ago," he said, "when the police began to use
their clubs, and I have gone on ever since." In a flash I remembered
the chemistry books, and all was plain to me.
"I had no business to bring you with us," he said, turning to Ida,
"It will be too much for your nerves?" he questioned gently.
She looked at him with all her love in her shining eyes, and shook
"I have known about it for months past," she said—"months. You
made it two months ago in your little shop by the river."
And these two strange beings both smiled. The next moment Lingg had
put the bullet in the catapult, and drawn the india-rubber out to
arm's length and let go. The eyes followed the black bullet in its
long curve through the air. As it reached the water there was a
tremendous report, a tremendous shock; the water went up in a sort of
spout, and even at thirty or forty yards distance the boat rocked and
almost capsized. For minutes afterwards I could not hear. I began to
be afraid I was permanently deaf. How could so small a thing have such
enormous force? The first thing I heard was Lingg saying—
"If we had been standing up we should have been thrown down; as it
was I had to hold on to the side of the boat."
"Surely," I said, "the noise will have been heard in the town?"
"Oh, no," said Lingg, "the explosion is rapid, the blow very quick,
so that it doesnot carry so far as the slower pushing blow of powder;
the high explosive gives a greater shock near at hand; but the blow
does not spread over nearly so large an area."
"It was dynamite, wasn't it?" I asked, after a little reflection,
when the deafness was beginning to wear off.
"No," Lingg answered; "a much more powerful agent."
"Really!" I exclaimed. "I thought dynamite about the strongest."
"Oh, no," Lingg replied, "dynamite is nothing but nitroglycerine
mixed with Kieselguhr, in order to allow it to be handled easily;
nitro-glycerine mixed with nitro-cotton is called blasting gelatine,
and is much stronger than dynamite. But the percussion of a small
quantity of fulminate of mercury embedded in nitro-glycerine produces
an enormously greater effect than the explosion of either substance by
itself. And there are more powerful explosives than nitro-glycerine.
My little bomb," he went on, as if talking to himself, "is as powerful
as fifty times its weight of dynamite."
"Good God!" I exclaimed; "but what was it made of?"
"All high explosives," he said, "contain a lot of oxygen and some
nitrogen . . . but dolet's talk of something else," he broke off,
"it's too long a story. . . ."
Suddenly Ida said to Lingg—
"I want to throw the first bomb, Louis."
He shook his head. "It's not woman's work," he said, "and I still
hope there will be no bomb-throwing needed."
Now what prompted me to speak, I cannot tell; I suppose it was
vanity, or rather a desire to gain Louis Lingg's approval. I suddenly
heard myself saying—
"Let me throw the first bomb."
Lingg looked at me, and again my blood warmed under the kindly
approval of his gaze.
"It is a terrible thing to do," he said. "I am sure a woman would
break down under it; I am afraid you would break down too, Rudolph."
"But you?" I asked.
"Oh," he replied carelessly, "I think I have always known that I was
born to do something of this sort. There is a passage in the Bible
which struck me when I first heard it as a boy, which has always lived
with me. I did not read much of the Bible, and I did not pay much
attention to what I did read. The Old Testament seemed to me poor
stuff, and only the Gospels moved me much; but that word has always
lived with me. It is something like this: 'It isexpedient that one
man should die for the people. . . .'
"We Germans dream too much, and think too much; for a generation or
two we should act. We are far ahead of the rest of the world as
thinkers; it now remains for us to realize our thoughts and to show
the rest of the world that in deeds, too, we can surpass them.
"I had a dreadful childhood; perhaps I will tell you about it some
day," he went on. "They heat the steel in the furnace and then plunge
it in icewater in order to make a sword-blade. I think I was subjected
to extremes of pain and misery—for some purpose," he added the last
words slowly. In spite of its clearness, his mind just touched
mysticism. He felt a purpose in things—his star and fate one with the
whole. He seemed lost in thought for a moment, and then resumed in his
accustomed clear way—
"The only good thing in your offer, and it is a great offer," he
smiled at me, "is that it would multiply the effect of us both
tenfold. I could save you, too, the first person to throw a bomb, and
reserve myself for the second when there will be no saving. You see,
one bomb is an accident; two show sequence, purpose; suggest a third
and fourth—are terrifying. I know the fattradesmen; they'll hide
under the beds with fear." Again the man terrified me, again I heard
myself talking, assenting, felt myself grinning; but my senses were
numbed, paralysed, by the awful reality of the talk, or the unreality
of it, whichever you please; my thinking and feeling faculties all
seemed dead; the shock had been too great for me. I moved as in a
dream; in a dream, when he went to his thwart and took up the sculls,
I went to mine and took up the sculls too, like an automaton, and in
almost complete silence we rowed back to Chicago. . . .
The short spring day was over, the sun went down before we got
back; night came with her shadows, her merciful, shrouding shadows,
and hid us as we rowed up to the wharf. As the Yankee received the
money, something in his quaint, sharp accent recalled me to reality;
but I had no wish to talk, I was drained of emotions, and I
accompanied the others home in a sort of waking dream. At the door
Lingg sent Ida upstairs, and turned to walk with me towards my rooms.
"Put all this out of your head," he said to me; "it has overstrained
you. Perhaps the troubles will settle down, perhaps the police will
come to some sense of humanity. I hope so. In any case, I do not take
your offer seriously. I need not say I trust you; but itis not well
to try to do more than one can do," and he smiled at me with loving
kindness in the deep eyes. From that moment we were intimates. I felt
that in some strange way he knew my weakness as well as I knew it, and
would never ask me for more than I could give, and this filled me with
loving gratitude to him; but I felt also that same wild exhilaration
in the heart of me, knowing well that I was always willing to give
more than he asked, more than he expected.
ALL these experiences in the strikes and with Lingg had
not only taken me away from Elsie, prevented me spending much time
with her, but they had alienated me from her to a certain extent. We
had gone on meeting two or three times a week, but I was always
occupied with the events of the social war, with the emotions and
sensations which the wild struggle called to life in me, and with the
demands the incidents made upon my time and thought. Before this
period came to an end, I noticed that my position with Elsie had
improved. As I seemed to draw away from her and to be a little less
her slave, she became kinder to me, less imperious, and as soon as I
noticed this a tinge of contempt mingled with my love for her. Was she
indeed like all the other girls whom I had read of who ran away if you
ran after them, and who ran after you if you ran away? I was not like
that, I reflected; I desired her above everything in the world; but
then the thought would not be denied that when she was imperious and
difficult she attracted me most intensely. There is not a pin to
choosebetween us, I reluctantly admitted; human nature in man or
woman is not differenced widely.
But the fact that self-possession, self-mastery did me good in
Elsie's eyes and strengthened my influence over her enormously, was
perhaps the real gain in the somewhat casual intercourse of these few
weeks. The last time I had seen her she had flushed with pleasure when
we met, and when we parted she kissed and clung to me as if she wished
to show her passion. "You will come to-morrow, won't you?" she asked.
This called to life a sort of mocking contrary devil in me, and I
answered with careless courtesy—
"I will come on Saturday and take you for a walk—if I possibly
can," I added.
"I will wait in and be ready," she replied quickly.
That Saturday afternoon was bright and hot, I remember, and our
steps turned naturally towards the lake shore, for the asphalt was
soft, and the smell of it overpowering. One would almost have done
anything to avoid those hot shafts of light rejected from the pavement
and buildings; they blinded one. I did not wonder that Elsie said
"I hate walking. Today is the day for a drive."
I had intended merely to go into the park and lie about; but the
moment she said this I thought of the boat, and it gave a purpose to
"I am going to take you for something better than a drive," I said.
"What is it?" she asked, her eyes sparkling.
"I will tell you within quarter of an hour," I said, and she walked
on towards the boating place, chattering of all she had done in the
past fortnight. She was delighted, it appeared, for the manager had
made much of her, was pleased with her work, and had given her a rise
in wages. I was a little jealous, I remember, vaguely jealous though
pleased for her sake that she had got a better position. The unworthy
spirit soon vanished, however, for her provocative, saucy beauty had a
warmth of tenderness about it that thrilled me with delight, bathed my
heart in joy, and banished all thought of rivalry.
In a few minutes we came to the landing stage, and before the
Yankee had time to ask me what I wanted, Elsie cried out in wild
"It's just lovely of you! I'd like a row on the cool water better
"Let us have a broad, safe boat," I said, and the Yankee picked us
out a tub of a thing.
"You'll find it hard rowing in that, if youwant to go far," was his
remark, "though it ain't so hot on the water as on land, by a long
way; but the boat's safe as a barge."
I did not intend to pull as far as I had pulled with Lingg, so I
took the boat he offered me, and after settling Elsie in the
stern-sheets and showing her how to use the steering lines, I rowed
out into the lake for half an hour or so, and then went and threw
myself in the bottom of the boat at her feet. She looked at me
half-shyly, with love's confession in the eyes that hardly dare to
"Isn't it rather strange?" she said to me. "A month ago I made up
my mind again and again not to meet you: said I wouldn't: told you I
wouldn't. And when I was away by myself I used to begin by saying, 'I
don't think we ought to go on meeting; it's not right, and I'm not
going to, anyway.' But 'it's not right' simply meant, I think, 'I
don't want to very much,' for now when you haven't come once or twice
I have just wanted you ever so bad; now, don't be conceited, or I'll
not tell you another thing."
Naturally at this avowal I slipped my arm round her hips and looked
up in her face. Her eyes still avoided mine. At first Elsie liked me,
I think; but love came with companionship, and she was now as much in
love as I was, lost in the transfiguring glamour.
"We are alone here, aren't we, Boy," she went on, "more alone than
in a room or anywhere; just our two selves between sky and sea."
I agreed with her, and she went back to her original theme.
"I didn't want to go on meeting you, because I thought I did not
care really, and that you did care, and now it seems as if I had grown
to care more, and so, just as I used to reason against you, now I am
always reasoning for you. Isn't that strange?" And the divine eyes
lifted shyly for a moment.
I put my face up to her and her lips drooped on mine: her tender
abandonment was simply adorable.
"Love calls forth love, Elsie," I said, "as 'deep calls unto deep.'"
"Besides," she began, with a quick change of mood, "you have
altered a great deal, you know. When we first met you were, oh, so
German; you spoke American comically, and you had all sorts of little
German ways, and now you speak American as well as I do. You seemed a
little soft then, and very—sentimental; now you are stronger, more
resolute. . . .
"You are very well-educated, aren't you? Much better even than our
college boys. You ought to get on, you know," and shelooked quite
excited and eager; but another wave of reflection swept over her, and
her lips drooped pathetically.
"But to get on far will take ten or twelve years, and what shall I
look like in ten years? I shall be an old hag. Fancy me twenty-nine!
and if I married you now, you'd never get through. I'd keep you poor.
Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! . . .
"You mustn't, Boy! Please don't or I'll get cross," she broke in,
for I had begun kissing her arm with little slow kisses which left
flushes like rose-leaves on the exquisite skin; but in return for my
imploring look she bent down and kissed me, as she alone could kiss.
Then we began talking of this and that, forming little plans of what
might be, plans which would bring us together. I used to be the
castle-builder; but lately Elsie had begun to build castles, too, or
rather, cosy little houses, which seemed nearer than my castles, and
certainly more enticing. But now I talked with some certainty of a
secure post on an American paper, for Wilson, the editor of the
"Post," was willing to give me a steady berth, where I could reckon on
earning at least eighty dollars a month, and that was surely enough
for all of us; but she shook her prudent little head, till I drew her
downfrom her seat into my arms, and there we sat with our arms round
each other and lips given to lips. After a while she drew herself away
"Oh, we ought not to meet," she said; "we ought not to meet like
this. You smile, you bad boy, because I'm always saying that; but I
mean it this time. When I said it before,we didn't care really; but
now it's different. Oh, I know . . . Each time we meet, you want me
more, and as you want me more and more, I find it harder to refuse and
deny myself to you. Every time, too, the joy of yielding tempts me
more and more, and I'm beginning to get afraid of myself. If we go on
meeting and kissing, some day I'll yield; it's human nature, Boy, or
girl's nature, and then I'd just hate myself and you, too; I'd kill
myself, I think. I hate giving way, bit by bit, out of weakness, and
doing something I don't want to do; it humiliates me!"
All this time I let her talk, and went on kissing and caressing her.
Something of Lingg's steady purpose had got into me. Speech is often
a veil of the soul, and my patience and persistent desire drew us
together more surely than any words. Day by day I was more masterful,
and Elsie was more yielding than she had been, nearer to complete
I simply went on kissing her, therefore, till of a sudden again she
drew away resolutely, and threw her little head back and took a long
"Oh, you bad boy! Why do you tempt me?"
"You don't care for me much," I said, looking in her eyes with dumb
appeal, "so you needn't talk of temptation; you don't care enough for
me to yield a little bit."
"More than you think, Boy," she said, giving herself to me for a
moment in a look; but the next instant she got up, nevertheless, with
proud resolution, shook her skirts out with a rueful pout at the way
the muslin was crushed and tumbled, and sat down again in the
I let her go. After all, what right had I to tempt her, or to go on
caressing her? What right? At any time Lingg might call on me, and I
felt sure I should respond, and all hope of love and a happy life with
Elsie were blotted out in one black gulf of fear. No, I would restrain
myself; and I did on that occasion, though it cost blood.
I had already noticed that every caress, innocent though they were
for the most part, was a permanent advance. She had let me catch a
glimpse of her limbs once; she could not refuse me the next time. In
truth, it washarder and harder for her to refuse me anything, for
love was on her, too, with its imperious desire. In spite of my
determination not to go any further, certainly not to compromise her
in any way, we seemed to be on a fatal slope; every little movement
took us further down, and it was impossible to go back. I do not know
whether Elsie realized this as clearly as I did; sometimes now I am
inclined to believe that she understood even better than I whither the
But that day, I am glad to think, I put the bridle on myself
resolutely, and yielded no whit to the incessant tormenting desire.
And if Elsie had rewarded me for my self-restraint by showing me
increased tenderness, perhaps I should have persevered in the narrow,
difficult way. But she did not; she seemed to think I had taken
offense at her resolution, so she sulked a little in reply to my
unwanted coldness, and that I simply could not stand, so I kissed her
into a good humor and thanked goodness that the April sun had almost
run his short course, and compelled us to seek the shore.
On our way to the boarding-house, Elsie repented of her coolness,
and was delightful to me; kissing her as we parted, I could only
promise to visit her as usual, and give her more time than I had
lately been able to afford.It looked as if my good resolutions were
likely to be put to a severe test.
When I was alone and had time for cool reflection, I took myself
earnestly to task. God knows I did not wish to harm the woman I
loved; yet each time that Elsie and I met seemed to bring us nearer to
the moment when there would be no retreat for us, when the last veil
would fall of itself, and the irremediable would happen. All my
half-hearted efforts to resist the current that was sweeping us along
only served to show how strong the current was, how irresistible. At
length I made up my mind and on next Saturday night I wrote to her
that I could not see her on the Sunday; "we ought to be prudent."
Before I was out of the house, next morning I received a pathetic
little note, asking me to visit her some time during the day. If I
were busy would I come to supper, or even after supper, or later, just
to say "Good night." It would make the day so happy to know that I was
coming; the hours would be so long and lonely-miserable if I stayed
away. . . .
Of course, I yielded. I sent back at once to say that I would put
off the work which I was required to do, and take her and her mother
for a drive and a lunch out somewhere instead.
I thought of her mother simply as a protection, and, of course, she
was a shield to me; but I am inclined to think that the companionship
and the complete freedom tempted Elsie to show her love for me a
little more freely than she would have done if we had been alone
together. All day long she was unspeakably delightful—provocative,
willful, imperious, as always, with an undercurrent of appeal and
abandonment. The contrasts in her, the quick changes, were simply
I took them out to the little German restaurant where I had gone
with Lingg, and the whole place was lighted up by Elsie. She tried all
the German dishes, fell in love, if you please, with Sauerkraut,
declared that it was excellent; wanted to know how to make it; would
have the recipe; flattered the German waiter so that he blushed all
over his white face, and almost set his straw-colored hair on fire.
After lunch we went for a walk, and found a knot of trees making a
grateful shade, where we sat and chatted. Every now and then I could
not resist the temptation to touch Elsie, and I thrilled from head to
foot at the contact; and every now and then she touched me, and the
second or third time this happened I saw that she, too, touched me
onpurpose. The thought was intoxicating.
We drove back along the lake shore, with the dying sun shooting
long crimson arrows, fan-like, over the western sky. The colors were
all reflected in the water, with a sort of somber purple magnificence.
I shall never forget that drive. We had put a rug over our knees, and
I was sitting opposite Elsie, and of course our feet met, and held one
another. The peace and hush of the dying day seemed to envelop us.
That was the happiest day of my life, for it ended well, too.
Mrs. Lehman insisted on my staying to supper, and we all had supper
together in the boarding-house. After supper Elsie put on her hat and
came with me, and then I saw her back home again and by this time the
stars had come out, and a little sliver of moon, a baby moon, was
shining over the lake. As we said "good night" at the door her arms
went round my neck naturally, and our lips clung together. Feeling her
yield, and overpowered by desire, I drew her inside the dark passage:
"I love you," I said, "you darling! I love you," and went mad. "My own
boy," she sighed back to me, and her supple, warm beauty gave itself
to my desire. . . .
But the place was impossible; in a minute or two there came
footsteps on the stairs; footsteps, too, outside. I could only
holdher to me in one long, passionate, quick kiss and set her free,
when one of the boarders came in and discovered us. Elsie, of course,
greeted him with perfect courtesy and unconcern. I, too, tried to look
at my ease; but there were a thousand pulses beating in me, and the
blood was rioting through my veins, and my voice, when I spoke, was
strange in my ears. Still, the stolen sweetness of it all was
deathless; it is as honey in my memory; whenever I think of it, I
taste life's ecstasy again at the springing fount, as I had never
tasted it before.
The best day of my life, I said to myself, as I went back to my
lodgings, and the thought was more exactly true than I imagined. The
best day! I still see her as she stood when the door opened—the
mutinous face and the great eyes with the curling lashes, and I hear
the cool words with which she dismissed the intruder. . . . Ah me!
how long ago and beautiful it all seems now!
* * * * *
All the incidents of the late spring of that year are bathed in my
memory in golden light; there is about them the evanescent loveliness
of April sunshine. The weather helped this illusion; there had been
floods of rain early in the month; now we had a sort of summer of St.
Martin in midspring. Thedreadful, harsh winter had passed away
beyond recollection, and the whole city turned to enjoyment; there
were parties and excursions in all directions, and for a time the
mutterings of social war died out, and we heard, on every hand, the
laughter of children. My new resolve to restrain myself with Elsie
threw me more and more with Lingg and Ida. Besides, as my work for the
"Post" became more and more important, I needed to consult oftener
with Lingg. It was seldom I could use his opinions; they were neither
obvious not popular; but he always forced me to think; and now instead
of looking at me and shrugging his shoulders when he disapproved, he
gave himself the trouble of showing me the steps by which one reached
Now, too, I began to realize his infinite kindness of nature; in
spite of a cold and somewhat formal manner, he was singularly
considerate and sympathetic to every form of weakness. Ida suffered
periodically from shocking, nervous headaches; while they lasted Lingo
moved about the sick-room with his cat-like, noiseless step, now
bringing eau-de-Cologne for her forehead, now mitigating the
sun-glare, now changing a hot for a cool pillow—indefatigable, quiet,
helpful. And when the crisis was past, he would plan someexcursion;
forty miles on the cars, and then a whole day in the woods with our
meals at some farmhouse.
I remember one excursion which I know fell about this time. Having
thrown off the headache, Ida was at her brightest, and Lingg and I
spent the whole noontide finding and bringing her masses of spring
flowers which she tied into posies. We dined at the Oeslers' farm at
one o'clock, and about three we went back to the forest, as to a
temple. Our train did not start till seven, and Herr Oesler had
promised to pick us up with a spring-wagon and fast team at six, so
that we might have tea before starting for the depot. At first, we lay
about talking idly and laughing, disinclined for any exertion by the
untimely heat; but as the sun slid down the sky, and cool airs began
to make themselves felt, a more strenuous spirit came over us.
I had long wanted to know why Lingg called himself an anarchist,
what he meant by the term, and how he defended it; and accordingly I
began to question him on the subject. I found him in a communicative
mood, and, strangely enough, he showed that day an idealistic
enthusiasm which seemed foreign to his nature, which a mere
acquaintance would never have attributed to him.
"Anarchy is an ideal," he said, "and likeall ideals is of course
full of practical faults, and yet it has a certain charm. We want to
govern ourselves, and neither govern others nor be governed by them;
that's the beginning. We start from the truism that no man is fit to
judge another. Was there ever such a ludicrous spectacle, even on this
comic earth, as a judge pronouncing sentence on his fellow! Why, in
order to judge a man at all, one must not only know him intimately,
but love him, see him as he sees himself; whereas your judge knows
nothing about him, and uses ignorance and a formula instead of
intimate sympathy. And then the vile, soul-destroying punishments of
the prison—bad food, enforced idleness, or unsuitable labour, and
solitary confinement, instead of elevating companionship. . . .
"Suppose there are persons suffering from incurable moral faults; if
there are any, they must be few indeed; but let's suppose there are
such people: why punish them? If they have incurable physical faults
such as elephantiasis, we take care of them in splendidly equipped
hospitals; we give them the best of air and food, cheerful books,
regular exercise; we provide, too, charming nurses and good doctors.
Why not treat our moral patients as well as we treat congenital
idiots? Since Christ, with His pitying soul, came upon earth,we
recognize in some dull, half-hearted way that these deformed or
diseased people are the scapegoats who bear the sins of humanity;
'they are wounded for our transgressions, and with their stripes we
are healed.' . . .
"Let us sweep away both hospitals and prisons, and substitute lethal
chambers for them, as our pseudo-scientists would have us do; or let
us treat our moral lepers at least as well as we treat our cripples
and our idiots. As soon as humanity understands its own self-interest
it will make an end of prisons and judges, as more poisonous to the
soul than any form of crime. . . .
"I see a thousand questions on your tongue, he went on, laughing;
"resolve them all for yourself, my dear Rudolph, then they'll do you
good; but don't put them to me. Each of us must construct the kingdom
for himself, the Kingdom of Man upon Earth. This one will make it a
fairyland; that one will make it a sort of castle of romance, with
machicolated turrets, and set it in a meadow of blowing daffodils and
lilies; I would have a modern city with laboratories at every street
corner, and theaters and art studios and dancing halls, instead of
drinking saloons; and at another moment I would build it with
tent-like houses, after the fashion of the Japs, which could be taken
up and carried off andreconstructed in a night, for 'here we have no
abiding city,' and the love of change—change of air, change of
scene—is in my blood. But why shouldn't we have both; the stable
working city and the fleeting tents of joy? . . .
"There were two beautiful ideas in what we stupidly call the dark
ages: the idea of purgatory, which is a thousand times more suitable
to mankind than either hell or heaven, and the idea of service. Think
of it, a nobleman would send his son as a page to the house of some
famous knight to learn courage and courtesy and consideration for
others, especially for the weak or afflicted. There was nothing menial
in such service; but the noblest human reverence—that's the anarchic
ideal of service, free and unpaid . . ." and he broke off, laughing
heartily at the surprise in my face.
I had never seen him let himself go with such abandon: he even
quoted poetry—a verse of a parody which he had seen in a paper and
applied to some Chicago millionaires—with huge delight:
"They steal the lawns and grassy plots,
They grab the hazel coverts
They mortgage the forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers."
He laughed boyishly over this for some time, but soon the graver
mood came back.
"All true progress," he said, "comes fromthe gifted individual;
but in my view a certain amount of Socialism is needed to bring a
wider freedom to men, and with completer freedom and a stronger
individualism I dream of a State industrial army, uniformed and
officered, employed in making roads and bridges, capitols and town
halls, and people's parks, and all sorts of things for the common
weal, and this army should be recruited from the unemployed. If the
officers are good enough, believe me, in a year or two, service in the
State army at even a low rate of wages would carry honour with it, as
our army uniform does now. Don't forget that our dreams, if beautiful
enough, are certain to be realized; the dreams of today are the
realities of tomorrow. . . .
"There are three manifestations of the divine in man," he went on,
as if speaking to himself; "beauty in girls and boys, the bodily
beauty and grace of youth, which we hide and prostitute, and which we
should exhibit and admire in dances and public games, for beauty in
itself humanizes and ennobles. Then there is genius in men and women,
which is for the most part wasted and spent in a sordid conflict with
mediocrity, and which should be sought out and put to use as the
rarest and most valuable of gifts. And then come the millions of the
toil-weary anddispossessed—each of them with a spark of the divine
and a right in human pity to a humane life. Oh, there needs no saviour
of men from among the gods," he cried; "but a saviour of God, of the
Divine, among men. . ." and again he broke off suddenly, smiling with
There surely never was a more interesting talker, and I was soon to
find that as a man of action he was even greater. That day was our
last day of joy and happiness together. In an hour or so the farmer
came and gathered us, and Ida smiled as we all three went hand in
hand, flower-crowned, to the wagon.
My resolution not to let myself go with Elsie, or tempt her any
further, held for some two or three weeks, and then it broke down
again, broke down more completely than ever. I had taken her out to
dinner, and she had put on a low-necked dress. The day had been very
warm, and the night was close and sultry. We dined together in a
private room in a German restaurant, and afterwards we sat together,
or rather she sat on my knees, with my arms round her, and I began to
kiss her beautiful bare shoulders-flower-like, cool and fragrant.
I don't know what possessed me; I had been working hard all day,
had written acouple of good articles, had made a little extra money,
and saw my way to make more. I was excited, happy, and therefore,
perhaps, a little more thoughtless, and a little more masterful than
usual. Success is too apt to make one imperious, and so I took Elsie
in my arms and began kissing her and caressing her, with a thirst for
her that I cannot describe. The very first kiss gave me the intensest
sensation, made my senses reel, in fact, and when she stopped me I was
enraged; but she drew away from me, and stood by herself for a minute
or so, then she turned to me.
"You don't know how you tempt and try me," she cried, and then
after a pause: "How I wish I were beautiful!"
"Why do you talk like that?" I said; "you are beautiful enough for
anything, and you know it."
"Oh, no, I'm not," she replied. "I'm just pretty, very pretty, if
you like, on my days; but beautiful, extraordinary, never. I'm not
tall enough," she went on, meditatively, "only just middle height"
(two inches below that standard, I thought, with a smile, for the
repulse had awakened a sort of sex-antagonism in me), "and sometimes
undistinguished, almost plain."
She turned to me and spoke passionately:"If I were beautiful I'd
yield to you at once. Yes, I would, for then I could win through
anyway, but, as it is, I'm afraid. You see, I could not win through if
anything happened, and it would just break mother's heart; so you must
not tempt me, Boy, please!" and her eyes besought me.
I took her in my arms again, almost ruthlessly, in spite of her
soul-revealing frankness, and again began kissing and caressing
her—as a thirsty man drinks. For a moment she yielded, I think, and
then she broke away again, and when I asked her why, she said
hurriedly, as if afraid to trust herself—
"I must go now; I must go home."
"Oh, no, no!" I cried. "If you do not care for me, what does it
matter, and it is too early to go home yet. I'd have the whole long
evening before me to call myself names in."
"I ought to go," she repeated.
"There's no risk for you," I retorted sulkily; "you are always
completely mistress of yourself."
"Oh," she exclaimed, "how blind you are, and unkind! . . . I'd like
to go on just as much as you: I should. Why do you make me say such
shameful things? But they are true. I am trembling now from head to
foot. Just feel me. Ah!" and she came over to me, andslipped into my
embrace again, and slid her arms round my neck. "Don't make it too
hard for me, Boy," and her lips gave themselves to mine.
Almost I had taken her then. If she had not made the appeal I
should have. But the appeal suddenly recalled me to the terrible edge
of the abyss on which I was standing, and I felt chilled to the bone.
No, I had no right to. No, I would be a man now and control myself;
and so, gathering her in my arms and drawing her head back to kiss her
throat, "Darling mine!" I cried, "I won't make it hard for you. We two
will make it easy for each other always, won't we—as easy as
Again her lips sought mine with a little contented sigh. From that
time on, I think the resistance in her was completely broken, and I
could have won her whenever I liked, but I dared not. All my regard
for her, all my admiration of her beauty and frankness and provocative
charm came back, and helped me again and again to restrain myself. I
would not yield, and the less would I yield now that there were no
barriers between us; for after this day, when she found that I meant
to restrain myself, she did not attempt to restrain me, but gave
herself to my desire. I could do what I would with her, and
thisfreedom, the power given to me, held me back as nothing else
could. I fought with myself, and every time I conquered, Elsie was
sweeter to me, and made the next self-conquest harder and easier at
the same time. I cannot explain the tangled web of my feelings, nor
how the tenderness for her triumphed over my passion; but the passion
was always there, too, watching its opportunity and trying to make it.
But from that night on I held it by the throat, though it twined
snake-like round all my body and nearly conquered at the last.
AND now, like those who have sown the wind, we came, at
length, to the reaping of the whirlwind. For a moment there was a lull
in the storm; the gale, so to speak, taking breath for a final
desperate effort. There are those who profess to find a crescendo in
the awful business from beginning to end. We who lived at the
storm-centre did not remark that—perhaps because we had other and
more important things to do and think about. You see the position: on
this side intolerant, greedy Americans, satisfied with their
steal-as-you-can or competitive swindling society; on the other side
bands of foreign workmen with ideas of justice, right and fair play in
their heads, and little or nothing in their bellies. These poor
foreigners were systematically overworked, and underpaid; they had no
compensation for injuries incurred in their work; they were liable for
the most part to be discharged at a moment's notice, the longest
notice accorded being a week, and that notice was usually given on the
approach of winter, in order that the honest employer might weed out
the worse workmenand force down to starvation limit the wages of the
best. On the side of the Americans, the authorities, the law-courts,
the police; the whole vile paraphernalia of so-called justice with
armed militia in the background, and if that was not enough, the
Federal army of the United States. The churches, too, and the
professions, the trained intelligence of the nation stood with the
robbers. The foreign workmen, on the other side, were unarmed, rent
apart by differences of race and language, without a leader,
rallying-point, or settled policy. If might is right they had no
chance; yet right is always in process of becoming might, even in this
confused welter of a world—that is hardly to be denied. What, then,
will be the outcome?
One incident threw light, as from a red flare, into the sordid
arena. There was at that time a store selling drugs and groceries in
the very centre of the foreign population. This store had a telephone,
and was therefore much frequented by quick American reporters eager to
get messages to and from their papers. The foreign workmen believed,
with good reason, that this telephone had been used on more than one
occasion to call down the police on them. Naturally they regarded the
reporters with hatred and suspicion; were they not the eager tools of
the capitalist press?One night a band of Polish and Bohemian workmen
got together, headed by a hot young Jew who spoke both tongues; he
led the mob to the drug store, entered with a bound, seized and tore
down the telephone; the others following the brave example, rushed in
and began to wreck the store, drinking, meanwhile, whatever wine or
spirits they could lay their hands on. Fortunately, or unfortunately,
the grocer man, it appears, had two gallon jars of wine of colchicum.
These were seized, uncorked, drained in an instant, and so some ten
poor wretches paid for their petty flingout with their lives. Nature
is nothing if not prodigal. I recall the incident to show that the
workmen were not always in the right; but whether in the wrong or in
the right, they always paid the bill, and it was generally heavy.
Curiously enough, Parsons, of "The Alarm," showed himself in his
true colors at this time. The wrecking of the drug store turned a
fierce, unfriendly light upon the reporters. Again and again men with
note-books were attacked by strikers or passing workmen. On several
occasions Parsons intervened and saved the unfortunates from the
violence of their enemies. As I have said before, Parsons was by
nature and upbringing a moderate reformer, and was neither a rebelnor
a revolutionary. He had a gift of speech, but not of thought.
The winter had been long and bitter. For weeks together the
thermometer registered from ten to forty degrees below zero, and
Chicago is exposed to every wind that blows. Great frozen lakes
surround it to the north, and gales sweep the town, tornadoes of
fearful violence, blizzards raking the streets with icy teeth. Not a
place to be out of work in during the winter. And all through the
winter strikes were of weekly occurrence. This firm or that trying to
squeeze down their employees or to weed out the worse ones, brought
about lockouts or bitter strikes, and at once the police patrols went
galloping to the threatened point, and used their bludgeons on the
unarmed and hungry strikers. But the police were too few for this
additional work; they were unwisely directed, too, overdriven and
harassed to exasperation. All the elements here piled ready for the
As the winter broke into spring, Spies and Parsons revived the
agitation for eight hours' work, and set about organizing a great
demonstration for the first of May. This exasperated the American
population, and encouraged the foreigners. At this moment, as the
destinies would have it, the small strikes were swallowed up in a
great strike.The factory of the famous McCormick harvester and reaper
works was situated on the far west side of the city. Close by to the
east were the teeming foreign quarters of Germans, Poles, and
Bohemians. Nine out of ten of the McCormick workmen were foreigners,
and were engaged in simple hand-work which anyone could do. The
McCormick managers attempted therefore to fill the places of the
strikers at once, for summer with its renewed demand was coming on;
this caused riot after riot. The strikers picketed the streets, tried
to prevent the new men from going to work, sometimes, it is said, used
force. Immediately the police were called for and intervened
vigorously. Women and children attacked the patrol wagons and threw
stones at the police. Men, women, and even children, were savagely
clubbed in return. Meetings were held nightly on every corner
throughout the district to express sympathy with the strikers. The
police broke up these meetings in a sort of frenzy of rage. Again and
again perfectly orderly and unobjectionable gatherings were dispersed
with the bludgeon. The guardians of law and order used violence on
every possible occasion, even when it was clearly unnecessary, and
this exasperated the foreign workmen.
The first of May dawned. All day longthe police scurried from
point to point breaking up this meeting with threats, and dispersing
that with force, plainly showing themselves everywhere masters of the
situation. The American newspapers had talked so loudly of what the
strikers were going to do, that when the first of May passed without
any dangerous revolutionary attempt, nine out of ten American citizens
were ready to believe that they had been mistaken, that the whole
thing had been exaggerated by their newspapers, which was, indeed,
the bare truth. Every one hoped now that the excitement would subside,
that the angry passions would gradually settle down, and that quiet
and order would once more be established. But in spite of temporary
setbacks everything was hurrying to a dreadful climax.
On one side of the McCormick works at this time was a large, open
field; in and about this field the strikers gathered daily in crowds.
It was the second of May, I think, that the "Arbeiter Zeitung" called
a meeting on this field for the afternoon of the third. There was a
railroad switch on the field, and on it an empty freight car. From the
roof of this car Spies opened the meeting with an enthusiastic, fiery
speech. The men who listened to him were strikers, two or three
thousand innumber. As soon as he had finished his speech this mob,
armed with sticks and stones, started for the works to attack the new
men taken on in their places, the "strike-breakers," as they called
them. These men hid themselves in the tower of the main building: the
strikers searched about for them everywhere in vain, breaking the
windows, meanwhile, with showers of stones. In the midst of this riot
half a dozen police wagons came charging up. They were received with
stones, thrown principally by women. The police at once drew their
revolvers and began to fire at the crowd. The majority of the mob
broke and fled. A few of the strikers made a stand, and were clubbed
and shot down. Forty or fifty people were wounded, seven or eight
killed outright by the police bullets.
This dreadful deed aroused the worst, passions of both parties. The
American newspapers upheld the police, applauded their action, and
encouraged them to continue to enforce the law and maintain peace and
order. On the other hand, those of us who were in any sympathy with
the strikers condemned the police as guilty of monstrous and causeless
The leaders of the strikers called meetings for the next evening,
the fourth, to denounce the police for shooting unarmed men. Ofthese
the most important was called by Spies and Parsons, and was to be held
in Desplaines Street, a shabby street soon to be made memorable for
I had been with the strikers in the attack upon the McCormick
works. Lingg came late upon the scene; but he it was who tried to make
a stand against the police when they fired on the crowd. After the
riot was over, I helped him to carry away one of the wounded women.
She was only a girl, eighteen or nineteen years of age, and was shot
through the body. When I saw Lingg lifting her I ran to his aid. The
poor girl tried to thank us. She was plainly dying; indeed, she died
just after we reached the hospital with her. I never saw Lingg so
wrought up before; yet he was quite calm, and spoke even more slowly
than his wont; but his eyes were glowering, and when the doctor
dropped her wrist with a careless "She's dead," I thought Lingg was
going to fly at him. I was glad to get him away and into the streets
again. There I had to leave him, because I had to go home and write my
daily article. I found that even Engel had been at the riot, and had
come back beside himself with indignation. Poor, gentle, kindly Engel
was absolutely maddened by the brutality of the police.
"They dare to shoot women!" he cried."The brutes!" I could only
clench my teeth. As soon as I had finished my work I made my way to
Lingg's rooms. He lived a good way from me, a couple of miles, and the
walk in the beautiful summer-like air did something to quiet my
nerves. On the way I bought an evening paper; I found in it a travesty
of the facts, a tissue of lies from beginning to end, and a brutal
When I knocked at Lingg's door I did not know what to expect; but
as soon as I entered I was conscious of a new atmosphere. The
reading-lamp with its green shade stood lighted upon the table. Lingg
sat beside it, half in the light, half in the shade. Ida had been
sitting on the other side, completely in the dark. As she opened the
door I saw she had been crying.
Lingg said nothing when I came into the room, and at first I, too,
had nothing to say. At last I managed to ask him lamely—
"What did you think of it, Lingg? Terrible, wasn't it?"
He looked at me for a moment.
"It's the parting of the ways."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Either the police must be allowed to do whatever they please, or
we must strike back. Submission or revolt."
"What do you intend to do?" I asked.
"Revolt," he replied on the instant.
"Then count me in, too," I cried, the wild indignation in me
"Better think it over," he warned me.
"There's no need to think," I returned; "I have done all the
He looked at me with the kindly searching eyes.
"I wish we could get at the master-robbers," he said, half to
himself. "It seems absurd to strike the hands and let the directing
brains go free; but the police-wrong is the more manifest, and we have
no time to pick and choose."
"It's the police I'm down on," I cried hotly; "the brutes!"
"What about the meeting tomorrow?" Lingg asked. "Will they try to
disperse that—I mean the meeting in the Haymarket?"
The first time I heard the word was then from Lingg's lips. Knowing
the place better than he did, I began to explain that it was not in
the Haymarket, but a hundred yards away, in Desplaines Street. He
nodded his head; yet in some way or other he had found at once the
name that shall in all future time be given to the place.
The next thing discussed was the amount of money I had. Lingg had
made up his mind that I was to escape and hide in Europe; hewas glad
to find that I had nearly a thousand dollars put by. I had been saving
for my marriage. He promised to call next morning. I was not to make
up my mind then, or think of what I should do; the strain of long
thinking on one subject was exhausting, he said, and proceeded to
show his wonderful self-control by putting the whole of the
occurrences out of his head.
He talked a little about himself, laughingly. "When it comes to my
turn," he said, "and they catch me, they will give me an awful
character. They'll say I am a rebel and anarchist because I'm
illegitimate; but that's not true. I had the best mother in the world.
I was always perfectly content with my birth. Of course I despised the
wretched creature who seduced my mother and then abandoned her; but
such animals are not rare among the German aristocracy. No, I grew
bitter when I came to understand the conditions of a workman's life.
Yet it was always pretty easy for me to get a living," he added.
His talk that evening was curiously impersonal, for the most part,
and so to speak, detached. Some phrases of it, however, were
"The writer," he said, "tries to find a characteristic word; the
painter some scene that will enable him to express himself. Ialways
wanted a characteristic deed, something that no one else would do, or
could do. One should be strong enough to bend and constrain deeds to
one's service, and they are more stubborn than words, more
recalcitrant than bronze. . . ."
His forecast of what would happen was astonishingly correct, though
now for the first time he began to speak passionately, and his phrases
stand out in my memory as if blazoned with fire.
"If a bomb is thrown the police will arrest hundreds; they will
accuse a dozen innocent men, and more. I want to go into their
court-room, the court-room of this robber society, and when the venal
judge gives sentence, I mean to stand up and say, 'You have pronounced
sentence on yourself, damn you!' and with my own hand execute my
"I have had enough," he said, speaking with indescribable intensity,
"of the whole damned hypocritical society, where the greedy thieves
are exalted, and those that steal and plunder and murder, judge and
punish their betters. . . .
"Besides," he went on, "in my soul I'm glad to make an end; I never
did mean to die in my bed, to stand upon the stage of life talking or
acting and suddenly to be pulled off backward by the hair, so to
speak, andthrown on the dust-heap. By God," and the deep voice was
appalling in its passion, "I will pull down the curtain with my own
hands, and shut off the lights when I please. I'll be my own judge and
executioner. It is something to die like a man and not like a sheep. .
What more was there to be said? I was merely drinking in draughts
of courage from Lingg's spirit. When I went out of the room I was
treading on air, filled with his desperate resolution. I, too, would
pull down the curtain with my own hands, and shut off the lights. So
astonishing was the man's influence, so intense the virtue that came
out of him, so absorbing the passion, that I went striding through the
streets wildly, without a moment's misgiving, and, finding Engel was
out, went straight to bed and slept like a log.
True, I woke up next day gasping with fear, as if some one had been
seated on my heart, preventing it from beating; but as soon as I came
to myself and thought of Lingg the discomfort passed, and I got up and
dressed. While I was having my breakfast about eight o'clock, with
Engel, Lingg came in, the steady eyes shining. We had a little talk,
and went out together. He accompanied me to the bank, where I drew out
my money. Afterwards we went, according to his advice, tothree
different changers, and changed it for gold, and then he took me away
to dinner with Ida.
Ida was very white and very still; we dined together in a room all
by ourselves. Somehow or other this comparative solitude, or the
enforced companionship with Lingg and Ida, who talked in monosyllables
about different things, began to weigh upon me. At the end of dinner
"Look, Lingg, I want to be by myself. I'm going back to the house."
His eyes searched me.
"Don't think you have gone too far to retreat," he said quietly. "If
you feel you would rather not do it, don't mind saying so a bit,
Rudolph. You have a happy life before you, and you are a dear, good
fellow; I don't want to drag you into the maelstrom."
"No, no!" I cried, catching fire again from his immutable purpose.
"I am going on, but I must be alone for a little while first. I must
think and and make final arrangements, that's all."
"I quite see," he said. "Do you wish me to come for you tonight, or
would you rather put it off?"
"Come for me," I said, "at eight," and I held out my hands. He took
both my hands in his, and involuntarily I bent forward, andwe kissed,
for the first time, kissed as comrades and lovers. As I passed out of
the restaurant I was consecrate, giddily exalted. I went to my rooms
filled with intense resolution. I packed a grip with just my best
things, a suit of clothes, a flannel shirt or two, a dozen
collars-bare necessaries—and then lay down on the bed to face my own
soul. But the exaltation of Lingg's love still held me.
"So this is the end of your high ambitions," I said to myself; "the
boundary and limit of all your hopes and fears, the goal of life for
"Yes," my deeper self answered with strong resolve, "this is the
meaning of the struggle, and my part in it is clear. I know what the
weak suffer; I know how the poor are tortured; I know the forces weak
suffer; I know how the poor are tortured; I know the forces against
them, yet I stand for the weak, and for justice and right to the
end—and beyond." There was thrilling exultation in me; but no fear,
After sitting a while by myself, I heard a little noise down below
in the shop, then footsteps on the stairs, and a timid knocking at the
"Come in," I said; and to my astonishment Elsie came in. I could
not have been more surprised if the Governor of the State had
"Why, Elsie," I cried, "what are you doing?"
"You don't answer my letters," she said, "and you did not come
yesterday to see me, though it was our day, so I came to find you,
sir. Are you cross with me?"
"No, indeed," I said, putting a chair for her. "Won't you take off
"I will stay a little while if I may," she said, "though it seems
strange and not quite right to be here; but I must have a talk with
you." She went over to the glass, took off her hat, smoothed her hair,
laid aside her little jacket, and came back for the talk; and the
talk, if you consider it, was curious enough.
The majority of men believe, or profess to believe, that women are
insidious, sly, deceptive, or else crack-brained creatures who prefer
crooked paths to straight, and would rather miss their ends by cunning
than compass them by honesty. I have known only this one woman
intimately, but I found her absolutely frank and simple, obeying every
impulse of her feelings, like a child; or rather as she had only one
dominant passion, giving, herself to that with inconsiderate
abandonment, as a ship obeys her helm.
Elsie drew up a chair, sat down beside me, and began—
"I hardly know how to say it, Boy; but Imust; ain't you too much
with Ida Miller?" (This direct approach was simply to surprise me; but
my genuine look of astonishment checked her.) "Oh, I don't mean that
you are in love with her yet; but she has a great influence over you,
hasn't she?" and she fixed me with narrowing eyes.
I could only shake my head and repeat—"'In love with Ida'; however
did you get that into your head? Why, she's devoted to Lingg, and I
never thought of her except as a friend. Your little roof must have a
slate off," and I tapped her on the forehead, laughing.
"No, no; I'm sane enough," she went on impatiently; "but if it isn't
Ida, who is it?"
"It's Elsie," I replied gravely.
"Don't make fun of me," she said, dimpling. "What has changed you?
You know, it makes me angry to think of it. Just as I have yielded to
you, you seem to have drawn into yourself and grown colder and colder.
It makes me mad to think I should have given myself, and not be
The pity of it! I gathered her into my arms at once, crying—
"Elsie, Elsie, of course you're wanted just as much as ever; more
than ever—much more. I cannot touch you without thrilling. If I
restrain myself, it is for your sake, dear."
She looked at me through her tears, one question in her eyes.
"How can that be, Boy? You didn't restrain yourself before; nothing
would stop you!"
"You have grown dearer to me, more precious," I cried. "Your
frankness has been extraordinary. At first I just loved you; now I
admire you and honour you beyond every one. You are such a great
little personality. You have made all other women clear to me, I
think, and I honour them all for your sake."
"Who has taught you to pay all these compliments?" she asked, with
her head on one side, smiling.
"Elsie," I said, "and my love for her. All roads lead to Rome; all
words bring me just to that one word, 'Elsie,"' and after kissing her
I put her back on her seat again.
"There, you see!" she cried; "you used to hold me in your arms for
hours and hours; you were never tired of kissing and caressing me; and
now, as soon as possible you put me away from you!" and her eyes
filled with tears.
"Because I am flesh and blood," I returned, "and do not want to
yield to the desire that is driving me crazy."
"But suppose I let you yield to it," shereplied, looking down. "As
you say you have changed, suppose I have changed, too; if you asked
me now to marry you, I should say 'yes' instead of 'no'? Doesn't that
alter everything?" And she looked up at me with the clear eyes alight,
and a little hot flush in her cheeks.
I caught at any straw. I saw that if she pressed me much more I
should be sure to confess that I had changed for some reason, and in
this way might put her on the track.
"If we are going to be married," I said, "it would of course be
different; but one would be a poor fool, then, not to wait, wouldn't
Her eyes searched me again, and she shook her head slowly, as if
unconvinced or suspicious.
"I suppose so," she said at length; "but it doesn't matter so much,
I was forced to admit that, so I said, "No, you sweet," and put my
arms round her and kissed her lips, and felt her whole supple body
thrilling, yielding to my embrace.
How I controlled myself and dragged myself away, I don't know; but
I did, though the convict was hot enough to rob me for some minutes
of any power even of thinking. As in a dream I heard her telling me
that she thought much more of me for my self-control,that she would
have a man too strong to yield to anything, unless his reason told him
it was right. And so she went on praising me until I closed her sweet
lips with kisses.
"Oh," she said, after a while, looking into my eyes; "at least you
have taught me what love is, Boy, and I want your love to be
boundless, like mine, to stifle all considerations, and hesitations. I
am willing to yield to you, Boy, my boy, now. . . ."
And she held my forehead in her tiny hands and looked bravely at me
with the great shining eyes.
"You men think we women have no curiosity, no desire. It is not the
same desire as yours, dear; but it is stronger, I think. Yielding means
more to us than to you, and therefore we are a little more cautious
than you, more prudent; but not much more, considering all things. . .
"You tempt us with desire, with the pleasure you give, and we can
resist; but tempt us with tenderness, or self-sacrifice, ask us to do
it for you, and we melt at once. We women love to give delight to
those we love. We are born with breasts, Boy, to give. Ask us to
enjoy, and we can refuse; ask us to give joy, and we yield at once. .
"That is why the tempting of men is so ignoble. Oh, of course, not
in your case;you'd you marry me, I know. It is different; but still
the woman's is the nobler part. You ask for yourselves, and we yield
for your sakes. It is more blessed to give than to receive. But you,
Boy, don't accept the gift, and I don't know whether to be proud of
you or angry with you. What silly things we women are!"
Elsie always startled me. There was such insight in her, such
understanding. As regards love, at least, she knew more than any man.
I began to wonder whether I was right in concealing anything from her.
A moment's thought convinced me that I had been wrong; I ought to
have told her everything; but it was too late now, far too late. I
felt that she would be against me, against Lingg, passionately,
terribly. I could not make a long fight with her this last afternoon;
it was impossible, and besides, my secret was not mine alone; my only
hope was to remain on the surface, not to get to deep, self-revealing
levels; so I began to talk of our marriage.
"Where can we live, Elsie? Won't your mother be afraid, and are you
quite sure you will never regret, you delight?"
"I don't think a woman ever regrets what she does for love's sake,"
she said; "at any rate, I'm sure she never regrets so long as sheis
loved. It is only when his love dies that she regrets."
"I am a little afraid," I broke off, "that my attitude to these
strikes will do me harm on the American papers; it has already damaged
me. Wilson says he finds socialism now even in my account of a fire;
and yet I try to stick to the bare facts."
"I hate that old socialism anyway!" cried Elsie, "and the frowsy
meetings. Why should you bother about the poor? They wouldn't do
anything for you, and even if they knew what you were doing for them
they would not be grateful to you. Besides, they're no good anyway.
Why should you spoil your future for a set of common men who are
nothing to you at all?"
I shook my head. "We don't do things always for the rewards, Elsie,
but because we must. . . ."
"It is just silly," she said. "I wonder is it Lingg who influences
you? He's quite mad. You can see madness in those burning eyes of his.
When he looks at me, I get cold. He frightens me, and not a nice sort
of fright, either. He scares me half to death. Oh, I wish you'd leave
him and Ida to get on as they please, and never see either of them
again. I am sure you would be a great deal better, and a great deal
sweeter, and I know I'djust love you for it. Come! Won't you?— for
my sake?" and she knelt down at my feet, and threw herself against my
knees, and put up her hands and drew my head down. What a temptress
she was, and what a face! I could not help taking her in my arms; I
lifted her up, held her close to me, body to body. Dear God! Was I to
have nothing? The next moment the other thought, the awful one came,
of what I had promised to do.
I got angry, and putting her from me, rose. At once she stood
"What is it?" she asked sharply. "I know there is something. What
is it? Tell me, tell me, at once," all the old imperiousness in tone
and manner. Love may soften; but it does not really change us.
I sat down on the sofa and shook my head. "There is nothing, dear;
but that I love you terribly, and must not yield to it."
"Silly boy," she said, coming over and seating herself beside me,
and putting her arm round my neck. "You silly boy. You shall do
whatever you want to, and you shall not be annoyed by anyone." And she
threw herself down on the couch. As I turned to her she said, "will
just kiss you, little bird-kisses." (When we first knew each other I
used to call her kisses bird-kisses, because she kissed me, I said,
like a bird pecking afruit.) But now she knew better, and her lips
dwelt on mine.
What was I to do? Was ever a man in such a position, torn two ways?
Every time she touched me I went mad: my mouth parched with desire; I
trembled from head to foot, and yet I knew I must not let myself go.
It would be dastardly.
"After all, why not?" I asked myself. "Why not? Why not?" My blood
raced in my veins, so that I was incapable of reason.
I put my hands on her, and she smiled in my eyes that divine smile
of passionate abandonment. As I touched the round limbs and felt the
warm flesh, her hands slid round my neck, and drew down my lips to
hers. While she thrilled under my touch and her lips clung to mine, I
was suddenly broken with love and admiration. I could not accept the
sacrifice I dared not leave that exquisite child with the risk and
suffering; I could not. But I would kiss and caress her to the limit
of my resolve, and I did. . . .
At length I felt my purpose melting.
"Oh, Elsie," I groaned, "help me, help me. It's not fair, and I must
be fair to you."
She got up at once, and shook her skirts straight, with the old
proud gesture that I knew so well.
"Your wish shall be done," she said: "butthere is something I do
not understand, which makes my heart ache. Can't you tell me, Boy?"
and she looked right into my eyes.
"There is nothing to tell," I said, "sweet mine."
She shook her head contemptuously.
"I swear, Elsie, that if I restrain myself it is simply for your
sake. You must believe me, heart's delight! you must."
"I will try to," she said. "Goodbye, Boy."
"Are you going?" I cried in wildest despair, stretching my hands out
to her. "Good God! Good God! I can't let you go!" and my heart choked
Was I never to see her again? to lose that bewitching sweet face?
Never to hold the exquisite figure in my arms again, never to hear her
voice in my ears; never again? The tears gushed from my eyes.
"There," she cried, putting her arms about me, "that is the first
time you have been absolutely yourself since I have been in the room.
That look and cry convince me that you still love me, and I'm glad,
"How could you ever doubt it!" I cried.
She shook her head. "Oh, Boy; I'm convinced now; but what has
altered you—what is it? I cannot understand. There is something."
"You will understand one day, sweetheart,"I said, trying to smile.
"You will understand that I love you with my whole heart, that I have
never loved any other woman, that I shall never love another"; and we
were in each other's arms again, and our faces were wet with our
"Now I am going," she said, dashing the tears from her eyes, "going
at once. Goodbye, Boy." At the door she turned and came back quickly,
took my hands and kissed them one by one, and then put them against
her little firm breasts.
"I love you, Boy, with all my heart, my boy!" and she was gone.
I dropped into the chair, unable to restrain myself. The waters of
bitterness seemed to go over my head. Nothing mattered now; nothing
could ever matter after this, nothing. The pain was too bitter. I
dared not think of her, my lost love. . . .
I felt I must not give way like that; I must be a man and pull
myself together; but how? There was one infallible means. I called
back to memory the image of the man shot on the vacant lot, and
gasping out his blood as he cried to his wife and children. I reminded
myself of the poor girl we took to the hospital, the sweet face of her
growing greyer and greyer. I thought of the man blinded by the
explosion, and his pathetic stumblings;the horrible, maimed creature
proud of his phosphorous poisoning; the great Swiss giant, writhing
about like a wounded worm; and my tears dried of themselves, with
indignation and rage, and I was ready. With one big sigh for all that
was Elsie stifled in my throat, I set my face towards reality, and as
I pulled myself up out of the chair with the hot blood running through
me I heard eight o'clock strike, and a moment later those swift,
steady steps on the street outside, Lingg's steps. I took a deep
breath. Thank God! I was ready!
AS Lingg came into the room and our hands met and he
looked into my eyes with that steady light in his, I was glad,
jubilant that I was ready. With a great thrill I felt for the first
time that I could meet him as an equal. Death has this strange power
over men, that when you are willing to walk within his shadow you feel
yourself the equal of anything that lives.
'I see," said Lingg quietly, "you've made up your mind. I was hoping
you had changed."
"I have packed, and am ready," I remarked, as equal to equal now.
He went past me to the window, and stood looking out for a minute or
so. I went over to him; he turned, and our eyes met.
"I often wonder, Rudolph," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder,
"whether this world of ours will be a success or a failure.... After
all, it's quite possible that man will never realize the best in him.
There must have been countless failures before in other worlds; why
should this mud ball of ours bring it to a consummation?" And then the
return. "Yet why not? It's always young, the oldworld, and breeding
youth; always trying! Why should we fail? In any case, the attempt is
something—something, too, the motive!" And his eyes lit up; I smiled.
His intimate kindness to me, the comradeship even in his doubts gave
the supreme touch to my resolution.
"Have you the bomb?"
"Here it is," he said, and took it out of his right-hand pocket. He
always wore short coats, generally double-breasted, with large
pockets. The bomb was not larger than an orange; but it was ten times
the size of the bullet that he had tried on the lake, and I knew its
power must be enormous. On one side of it there hung out a little
piece of tape-like stuff.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing to it.
"This bomb has a double action," he said; "if you pull that tape it
will set fire to something inside; the explosion will then take place
in a third of a minute, exactly twenty seconds, so that you should
pull it first, then wait five or ten seconds, and then throw the bomb;
but it will also explode on impact, so be careful of it."
"What's it made of?" I asked, taking it in my hand. It was
"Leaden piping on the outside," he replied; "lead is so easy to
work. The compositioninside is a discovery of mine—a chance find."
"I'll put it in my trousers' pocket," I said, "because there nothing
can hit it, and it will be held tightly, so that I can pull the tape
when I like. I suppose it won't burn outwardly?"
He shook his head.
"You may see the spark when you throw it; but there will be nothing
to burn your clothes, if that's what you mean."
There was a feverish haste on me. I was impatient to have done with
the work, to get it over.
"Hadn't we better go to the meeting now?" I asked.
Lingg was as quiet as ever, and spoke just as slowly as usual.
"If you will," he said; "it is a mile to the Haymarket, and the
meeting is called for nine o'clock; they won't begin till eight or ten
minutes past, and even if the police break up the meeting they won't
do it before nine-thirty or a quarter to ten. We have lots of time. .
. . Before we go, Rudolph, I want you to promise me one thing. I want
you to escape; it is part of our plan for spreading terror that the
thrower of the first bomb should go scot-free. Nothing spreads terror
like sequence and success. I want you to promise that whatever happens
you will keep away, and not give yourself up."
"I promise," I replied hastily. "Shall I throw it in any case?" I
asked, feverishly passing my tongue over my dried lips, and longing, I
suppose, for even the chance of a respite.
"If the police do not interfere," he said, "we are too glad to keep
quiet; but if they come to break up a quiet meeting, if they draw
their clubs and begin to bludgeon, I should throw it; and if you can
remember as you throw it, throw yourself down on your hands and knees,
too; the shock will be tremendous."
"Shall we go, then?" I asked, and turned to look for the grip; but
Lingg had picked it up. Of a sudden he put it down again and put his
hand on my shoulder; his eyes on mine were full of kindness.
"There's time, Rudolph," he said, "even now, to turn back. I cannot
bear to think of your being in it. Leave it to me. Trust me; it will
With that strange feeling of equality still thrilling in me, I
exclaimed, "No, no; you mistake me. I am more than willing; all those
injured and murdered people are calling to me. Don't let's talk, man.
My mind is made up. From head to foot I am one purpose."
He threw back his head, then picked upmy grip, and we left the
room. As we passed through the little shop, the boy told us that Engel
had gone to the meeting half an hour before, and we set off at a good
round pace. So wrought up was I, so excited, I had not noticed that
the beautiful day was all overcast, that a thunderstorm was clouding
up, till Lingg drew my attention to it.
A minute afterwards, as it seems to me now, we had reached our
goal; we were in Desplaines Street, between Lake Street and Randolph
Street. Desplaines Street is a mean thoroughfare on the west side,
three or four hundred yards from the river, and fully half a mile from
the edge of the business centre downtown. The Haymarket, as the place
was afterwards called, is nearly a hundred yards away. As we came up
from the south we passed the Desplaines Street police station,
presided over by Inspector Bonfield; there was already a crowd of
police at the door.
"They mean business," said Lingg, "tonight, and so do we."
When we got to the outskirts of the meeting we saw the mayor of the
city, with one or two officials; the mayor was an elderly man called
Carter Harrison. He had been asked to prohibit the meeting, but was
unwilling to interfere with what might be a lawful assembly;he
attended in person to prevent any incitement to rioting.
The speakers' stand was a mere truck-wagon, placed where a blind
alley intersected the street, in the centre of the block. We were at
the rear of the building occupied by the Crane Brothers' great
elevator factory. I should think two or three thousand people were
already gathered together.
Spies had finished speaking as we came up. He was followed by
Parsons, who rose to the height of the argument if ever a man did. He
began by asking the crowd to be quite orderly; he assured them that if
they kept order, and simply gave expression to their grievances, the
American people would hear them with sympathy, and would see that
they had fair play. He really believed this claptrap. He went on to
say that their grievances were terrible; unarmed men, women, and
children had been shot down. Why were they shot? he asked, and then
began his reform speech.
The mayor listened to everything, and evidently saw nothing in the
utterances to object to. "Parsons's speech," he said afterwards, "was
a good political speech." After Parsons had made an end, the
Englishman, Samuel Fielden, with his bushy beard, stood up and began
to prose. Some rain-dropsfell, a lull came in the rising wind;
darkness began to overshadow us. Evidently the storm was at hand.
The crowd began to drift away at the edges. I was alone and
curiously watchful. I saw the mayor and the officials move off towards
the business part of the town. It looked for a few minutes as if
everything was going to pass over in peace; but I was not relieved. I
could hear my own heart beating, and suddenly I felt something in the
air; it was sentient with expectancy. I slowly turned my head. I was
on the very outskirts of the crowd, and as I turned I saw that
Bonfield had marched out his police, and was minded to take his own
way with the meeting now the mayor had left. I felt personal
antagonism stiffen my muscles. It grew darker and darker every moment.
Suddenly there came a flash, and then a peal of thunder. At the end of
the flash, as it seemed to me, I saw the white clubs falling, saw the
police striking down the men running along the sidewalk. At once my
mind was made up. I put my left hand on the outside of my trousers to
hold the bomb tight, and my right hand into the pocket, and drew the
tape. I heard a little rasp. I began to count slowly, "One, two,
three, four, five, six, seven"; as I got to seven the police were
quite close to me, bludgeoning every onefuriously. Two or three of
the foremost had drawn their revolvers. The crowd were flying in all
directions. Suddenly there was a shot, and then a dozen shots, all, it
seemed to me, fired by the police. Rage blazed in me.
I took the bomb out of my pocket, careless whether I was seen or
not, and looked for the right place to throw it; then I hurled it over
my shoulder high in the air, towards the middle of the police, and at
the same moment I stumbled forward, just as if I had fallen, throwing
myself on my hands and face, for I had seen the spark. It seemed as if
I had been on my hands for an eternity, when I was crushed to the
ground, and my ears split with the roar. I scrambled to my feet again,
gasping. Men were thrown down in front of me, and were getting up on
their hands. I heard groans and cries, and shrieks behind me. I turned
round; as I turned a strong arm was thrust through mine, and I heard
"Come, Rudolph, this way"; and he drew me to the sidewalk, and we
walked past where the police had been.
"Don't look," he whispered suddenly; "don't look."
But before he spoke I had looked, and what I saw will be before my
eyes till I die. The street was one shambles; in the very centreof it
a great pit yawned, and round it men lying, or pieces of men, in every
direction, and close to me, near the sidewalk as I passed, a leg and
foot torn off, and near lay two huge pieces of bleeding red meat,
skewered together with a thigh-bone. My soul sickened; my senses left
me; but Lingg held me up with superhuman strength, and drew me along.
"Hold yourself up, Rudolph," he whispered; "come on, man," and the
next moment we had passed it all, and I clung to him, trembling like a
leaf. When we got to the end of the block I realized that I was wet
through from head to foot, as if I had been plunged in cold water.
"I must stop," I gasped. "I cannot walk, Lingg."
"Nonsense," he said; "take a drink of this," and he thrust a flask
of brandy into my hand. The brandy I poured down my throat set my
heart beating again, allowed me to breathe, and I walked on with him.
"How you are shaking," he said. "Strange, you neurotic people; you
do everything perfectly, splendidly, and then break down like women.
Come, I am not going to leave you; but for God's sake throw off that
shaken, white look. Drink some more."
I tried to; but the flask was empty. He put it back in his pocket.
"Here is the bottle," he said. "I have brought enough; but we must
get to the depot."
We saw fire-engines with police on them, galloping like madmen in
the direction whence we had come. The streets were crowded with
people, talking, gesticulating, like actors. Every one seemed to know
of the bomb already, and to be talking about it. I noticed that even
here, half a mile away, the pavement was covered with pieces of glass;
all the windows had been broken by the explosion.
As we came in front of the depot, just before we passed into the
full glare of the arc lamps, Lingg said—
"Let me look at you," and as he let go my arm, I almost fell; my
legs were like German sausages; they felt as if they had no bones in
them, and would bend in any direction; in spite of every effort they
"Come, Rudolph," he said, "we'll stop and talk; but you must come
to yourself. Take another drink, and think of nothing. I will save
you; you are too good to lose. Come, dear friend, don't let them crow
My heart seemed to be in my mouth, but I swallowed it down. I took
another swig of brandy, and then a long drink of it. It might have
been water for all I tasted; but it seemedto do me some little good.
In a minute or so I had got hold of myself.
"I'm all right," I said; "what is there to do now?"
"Simply to go through the depot," he said, "as if there were nothing
the matter, and take the train."
I pulled myself together, and we entered the depot; but when we
came in sight of the barrier shutting off the train for New York, we
saw that some news must have got through, for already there were two
policemen standing beside the usual ticket-collectors. Lingg, with his
hawk's eyes, saw them first, a hundred yards away.
"You'll have to speak, Rudolph," he said. "If you're not able to,
we'll go back and take the train outside Chicago. Your name is Willie
Roberts; but you will have to speak for us both, because your accent
is so much better than mine. Can you?" (I nodded.) "Now, your very
best," he said, as we reached the barrier.
The next moment, "Where for?" called out the official.
"New York," I answered, and stopped in front of him, while Lingg
produced my ticket. "Your name?" he said.
"On the ticket," I replied, yawning, "Willie Roberts."
"Thought you were one of those Dutchmen," he said, laughing. "There
has been an explosion, or something, on the East Side, hasn't there?"
"I don't know," I returned; "but there'll be no peace, I guess, till
we've had a good scrap."
"That's so," he said, and we all laughed. The next moment he had
checked my ticket, and handed the long strip back to me. I said—
"My friend is just coming with me; he'll be back in a minute.
Lingg bowed to him, smiling, and took my arm as we went on.
"Splendid," he said; "nobody could have done it better. They are
without a trace of suspicion, and it is rather well for them that they
did not suspect." "Why?" I asked.
He looked at me with a quizzical smile on his face.
"Because," he said, "I have another bomb in my pocket, and they
should not have taken either of us alive."
I don't know why, but the mere mention of another bomb set me
trembling again. Again I could hear the infernal roar; I shivered from
head to foot, and my heart stopped.
How I got into the train I don't know.Lingg must have almost
lifted me in; but when I came to myself I was in a first-class
carriage, in the corner. Lingg had put my grip in front of me on the
seat, and was sitting beside me. Suddenly I felt deadly sick; I told
him so. He took me out to the cabinet, and I was sick as I have never
been sick in my life, throwing up again and again and again, feeling
the while wretchedly weak and ill, as if every atom of strength had
been sucked out of me. He gave me a drink of cold water, and then some
water with a dash of brandy in it, and threw open the window, and soon
I felt a little better.
"I cannot sit up, Lingg. I'm sure to give myself away. I'm so weak
and ill; I don't know how or why," and all broken up I began to cry
"That's all right, Rudolph," said Lingg gently. "I will sit with you
till you're better. Can you be alone for five minutes while I send a
"Yes," I replied; "but I wish you wouldn't go."
"All right," he said in the cheeriest tone. "I will sit with you and
write the telegram; but if you show yourself ill, people will remark
you. Pull your soft hat down over your forehead, and we'll go back to
your seat; I'll write the telegram there, and remember, I'mgoing to
sit with you till you are all right. All I ask you to do is to speak
when need is, because my wretched accent will give us away as Germans.
Say you've had too much to drink."
A few minutes afterwards the train started. I told the conductor as
he passed that my friend was coming to the next station with me, and
gave him a dollar bill. I said we wanted to talk; we had not met for a
long time; I was just passing through Chicago, and we had had a drink
I noticed that Lingg had opened the window on my side; the fresh
air and the rain were beating on my head and face. In a few minutes I
began to feel better, and strange to say, almost as soon as I began to
get better I became conscious of being inordinately hungry.
"I am famished," I said to Lingg. "Shivering with cold and famished;
but I'm all right."
"I'll get you a basin of soup," he said, "at the next station. I'm
glad you're all right. Thank God, the color is coming back to your
cheeks; we've had luck."
"I'm ashamed," I said, "breaking down like this, and putting you in
"Nonsense," he returned. "Don't think that. You're the more to be
honoured for havingdone what you did, in spite of the body's
I felt better after that.
All this time there were only a couple of women in the car, and
they were at the other end of it; they did not like the open window, I
In twenty minutes we stopped, and Lingg got out and got me a basin
of soup; as soon as I had taken it, I felt stronger. I realized then
that I had a terrible, racking headache, and was very weary. "Go to
sleep," said Lingg, when I told him, and he shut the window, and
settled the grip in front of me so that I could put my feet on it. "Go
to sleep; I will sit by you," and in a moment, as it seemed to me, I
was asleep. When I woke, two or three hours afterwards the train was
stopping again. We had just reached—
"Do you feel better?" Lingg asked. "I ought to get out here, if you
can go on alone; or shall I stay the night with you?"
"I am quite well, now," I replied bravely.
"Well," he said, "you will reach New York in thirty hours, and you
sail the next morning; your berth is taken on the Cunarder, 'Scotia,'
second cabin, still under the name of Will Roberts; don't miss her,
and get off at Liverpool. Ida will communicate with you at thepost
office in Liverpool and Cardiff, and Will Roberts can write to her to
Altona, under the name of Jane Teller. Do you understand? Here in this
book everything's put down, together with a code which I have made out
for you; the book to which the code refers is here, too. Nobody on
earth can read that script; but if I were you I should write nothing
for some months, not for many months if things go badly; but you will
be the best judge of that. Remember, prudence is always best in case
you are in doubt, and remember, too, I have your promise to escape;
you must not be caught; you will remember?"
I nodded. "We did right, didn't we?" I asked weakly.
"Sure, Rudolph," he answered. "Sure. Have no doubt. I am going to
tread the same path, you can bet on that." His eyes were shining like
"I have no doubt of you," I said; "but I begin to doubt whether the
path is the right one."
"That's because you are shaken and ill," he replied gravely. "If you
were well, you would not doubt. Think of what they did; the girl they
shot, and the little boy! And now goodbye, dear friend, goodbye!"
Once again, and for the last time, we kissed.
The next moment he had left the train, and I was alone. I could not
be alone! I sprangup and hurried to the door to call him; the deadly
cold came back on me, but I pulled myself together. After all, to call
him back would endanger him and Ida! I would not. I stood at the door
and looked after him, saw him striding down the platform, the same
swift, silent stride. I noticed the broad shoulders, the strong
figure. I took a full breath and went back to my seat. It was
half-past twelve o'clock. A new day, I said to myself. My God! a new
In a few minutes the conductor came in and asked me if I would not
like to sleep.
"I have made you up the second berth from here," he said, "number
10; your friend thought you had better not be disturbed before. Been
ill, ain't you?"
I was passing through Chicago, I said, and we had had a big dinner,
and I had taken too much to drink; I had not seen my friend for a long
"I guessed that was it," he replied. "I smelt the brandy. It isn't
good to get out on the bust like that, unless you are accustomed to
soak. I nearly killed myself a while back. I didn't drink very much,
either, half a bottle of bourbon, I guess; but I just got up and
wanted to fight everybody. I was mad drunk; I'd have fought an
elevated railroad, if it had come near me, I would."
The common talk brought me back to the common everyday life; did me
"Sit down and have a drink," I said.
"No, no!" he replied, shaking his head. "No, I have sworn off,
truth! I told the missis I never would agen, and I won't.... We've two
children, two girls, one fair, and t'other dark. Ye never saw sich a
pair of peaches! I ain't going to drink what ought to go to them, no
sir. I only make a hundred dollars a month at this job; of course, now
and then one gets a dollar from some one but they don't hand it out
easy, the rich....
"My wife's a daisy of a manager, but it costs us forty dollars a
month to get along, and what with clothes, and rent, and taxes, we
cannot save more than thirty dollars a month, no sir; and in twenty
years that won't be a fortune, will it, not for two of 'em? The
purtiest children ever you see. Here they are" (and as he spoke he
took out his pocket-book and showed me the photographs)." There's
Joon, and there's Jooly. We call 'em like that because they was born
in those months. Ain't they cute!—What?"
Of course, I praised the children though he needed no encouragement.
"Their mother is a Kaintucky woman, I'm from about here myself—a
hoosier. You'reon the road, ain't you? In dry goods, I guess, from
"Yes," I replied; "going back to New York. Come out again in a
"I thought so," he said; "I sized ye up right the first moment I
The bell rang and he had to go off and attend to his duties; but not
before I told him to call me about nine o'clock in the morning, and
bring me coffee, as I felt real bad. He said he would, and I crawled
into my bunk and tried to go to sleep. At first it seemed impossible;
but I put my whole resolution to the matter. I must not think, I said
to myself, I must sleep, and in order to sleep, as Lingg said, I must
think of something else. But my brain seemed empty, and whenever I was
alone there was the spark against the sky and I heard the roar, and
saw that ghastly sight. Then I thought of Elsie, but that tore my
heart. No; I would not think of the past .
At last I found the way; I would think of the conductor's two
children; the dark one, and the fair one. "The purtiest children in
Buffalo," the one seven years old and the other five, and their
mother, too, who was a daisy of a manager, and the father saving and
working. The pretty "peaches." They seemed to be anything but pretty
in the photographs;yet the father's praise made them beautiful to
me—and I remembered no more.
The cheerful conductor woke me up in the morning with the coffee,
and as he woke me, I started up and struck my head against the top
berth, and fell back, shaking.
"Good God!" I cried; "how you startled me!"
"An overnight drunk on brandy is the damnedest thing the next
morning. Got a bad mouth?"
"Awful," I said, "and bad nerves; I'm all ill, shake."
"Don't I know it," he said. "You get up, and get into your clothes,
and sit down here by the open window. It's just a beautiful day, warm
and sweet; would bring the dead to life; and there's your cawfee, just
as good cawfee as you kin git anywhere, and the milk in it'll do you
good. If I were you I'd throw that brandy out of the window."
"Well," I said, "my friend told me to take a hair of the dog that
"Oh, pshaw!" he exclaimed, "there ain't no sense in that. A young
man like you'll get better without anything."
"I think you're right," I said, which seemed to gratify him.
"Have you heard the noos?" he asked. Ishook my head; I was afraid
my voice would shake.
"They've been throwing bombs in Chicago," he said. "Them damned
foreigners have killed a hundred and sixty policemen in the
A hundred and sixty! I stared at him and Lingg's word again, "the
Haymarket." A hundred and sixty!
"Good God!" I cried; "how awful!"
"That's right," he said. "The police have made two thousand arrests
this morning." I guess they'll get the men that threw the bomb, and
rope's cheap in Chicago. They'll make 'em all dance without a floor,
"Well," I said, slipping out of my berth; "I don't feel much like
"Put on your boots," he said, "and come to the window here," and I
did as I was told.
I had stood the first test, and already sleep had renewed me; the
blessed oblivion had knit up the ravened sleeve of my thoughts, and I
was once more master of myself, without any fear now; but with an
infinite regret. . . .
I would not think of it, and in order not to think of it, I thought
of Elsie; but that was too bitter to me. What would she think? What
could she think? Would she try to see me? Would she guess? I feared
she would. I dared not think of her.
As soon as I could I got the conductor again, and set him talking
about his children. All I had to do was to put in a "Really?" or a
"You don't say!" at the proper moment, and he would go off again at
score, telling me his own history, and his wife's, and the whole story
of the children—how he had saved Jooly in whooping cough by giving
her a hot bath; how Joonie could walk before she was a year old; "yes,
sir, she has the biggest legs you ever saw" everything. I could write
their family history now. . . .
But I was very sorry when he handed me over to the next conductor,
a taciturn Yankee, who had hardly a word to say. I feared the small,
:grey, ferrety eyes of him, so I bought some books in the car, and set
myself to read them; but I do not know what they were about. Still,
they gave me an occupied look, and kept me from awkward questions.
Dinner time came and passed, then tea time, and then time for sleep
again, but I hardly dared to get into my berth. I felt sure that I
should not sleep, and I was right. My headache grew acute; the
chunkety-chunk of the train hammered on my nerves. I never closed my
eyes; but I got peace by using Lingg's formula, and steadfastly
thinking of unimportant things, and after I had done this a certain
number of times I began to getconfidence. So long as one is master of
one's mind, I said to myself, one is master of fate, and except for
those dread hours from the Haymarket till Lingg left me, I had never
lost my self-control. The train went on—chunkety-chunk, chunk, chunk!
chunkety-chunk-chunk! all through the night. I think I saw every hour
on my watch.
But at last the night waned to an end, and as soon as I decently
could, I got up, before six o'clock, and saw the sun rise in majesty
over the Hudson. We were running alongside the great river to New
York. I got my breakfast at seven o'clock, and at ten I was out of the
train, without exciting the suspicion of any one, I am sure. I had
played the game to the extent of telling the taciturn conductor that I
was in the dry goods, and not very rich; but if he would have a drink
with me, I should be pleased. He shook his head.
"Nary drink," he said.
"A cigar, then?" I queried.
"I don't mind," he said, and I got him a fifteen cent cigar, as if
that must be a good one, and he appreciated the attention.,..
Back in New York again! I had only been away a little more than a
year; surely I had lived fifty years in the twelve months; a long
I would not go where I was known. Wherewould Will Roberts go?—a
second-rate hotel. I walked to one, had a bath, and then in my room
went through all my clothes to see if there was anything with my name
on it. Nothing. I wrote one or two envelopes, addressed to Will
Roberts, in different handwritings, dirtied them, tore them at the
corners, shoved one in the grip, put another in my pocket, together
with Lingg's precious book, which I went through hurriedly. I found in
it a letter for "dear Will" which I thrust into my pocket, to read at
leisure. I was eager to get out of the room into the open air, where I
could be alone and at ease. I took the street car a block or two from
the hotel, and rode right out to Central Park, three or four miles
away. God! What a beautiful place it is. I made my way right through
the park to Riverside Drive, and sat down looking over the Hudson, and
there I read Lingg's letter: here it is—
"When you read this you will be in New York, or perhaps in your own
loved England again, or will it be in the Welsh hills? Wherever it is,
I know that you won't forget me, and you must know I shall never
forget you. We may meet again, but it is not likely. You told me you
would make your home on the other side, and never return, and I think
youare right, for the climate here doesn't suit you. I shall never
leave Chicago. Still, our spirits have met, and have been one in
purpose and love, and that seems good to me.
I went and had lunch in an Italian restaurant and bought the
papers. There never was anything like them; they were all filled with
the wildest lies of hatred and fear. For the first time I saw the
phrase that the police were using, "the dragnet" in Chicago. They had
already arrested four thousand persons on suspicion; among them Spies
and Fielden and Fischer, and were searching for Parsons. Parsons, it
seems, had left the town within an hour of the throwing of the bomb.
The first papers were filled with the idea that He had thrown the
bomb, and the hunt after him was hot and fierce.
I walked about the whole of the afternoon; the sunlight and air
calming my nerves. I had only glanced through the lying papers.
* * * * *
The next morning I had to be on board by nine o'clock; that night
in the hotel I slept a little. At five o'clock I got up, dressed
myself, shaved clean; then walked down to the landing-stage and went
on board the tender which took me to the big steamer, andfound my
berth. There I decided in my own mind that I was born in
Pembrokeshire and was going back to my native land. My accent, I
knew, would pass me anywhere as an American.
On board the steamer they were all talking of the bomb-throwing in
Chicago. Every one was hoping that Parsons, who threw the bomb, would
be arrested. They knew all about it now. Sixty policemen had been
wounded, eight had been killed outright, seven others were not
expected to live; but a great many of these wounded persons, I
ascertained afterwards, had been wounded by police bullets. The
accused persons, Spies, Fischer, Fielden, were already charged as
accessories before the fact of the murder of Mathias J. Degan; Degan
being the first of the dead policemen whose body was identified.
The accusation filled me with contempt. I knew better than anyone
that neither Spies, nor Fischer, nor Fielden were accessories before
the fact, or after the fact; nor, indeed, were they connected with the
fact in any remotest way. Of course, their innocence must appear in
due course. I dismissed the accusation with a pitying smile; yet I
should not have been so foolish-sure; I ought to have known better
than most people the hollow mockery of American justice.
THAT passage from New York to Liverpool on the "Scotia"
was a most blessed interlude. I went on board with jangling nerves,
plagued by the incessant questionings of conscience, maddened with
memories of loss never to be made good, loss of friendship and of
love. I felt like one torn up by the roots and tossed out to misery
and death; yet as soon as I got on board and we left the land behind
us, the healing processes of nature began their divine work. There was
something that appealed to me in the quiet English manners of the
officers; there was rest and sympathy in the courtesy and
consideration of the stewards; a sort of slow content in the lives of
all these people that acted on me as a perpetual lenitive. I talked
very little; but I went about where men talked, for the conversation
of others took me out of my own sad and bitter thoughts, and allowed
me to rest.
The very first day everyone went to get weighed, and I was drawn
along with the others. In Chicago I had weighed about a hundred and
sixty pounds, now to my wondermentI was just under a hundred and
fifty. I had lost ten pounds in three days, yet I had eaten and drunk
as usual. I began to understand how terrible the strain had been.
I did not sleep well the first days on board, the sea air seemed to
excite me; every hour, too, I grew more anxious about Lingg, and the
conviction that I should never see Elsie again was an aching, an
irremediable grief. I could not help thinking of her, wondering what
would become of her, how she would take my unexpected and inexplicable
absence. My thoughts ran on the same theme, from Lingg's danger to
Elsie's sorrow, morning, noon and night, like a monkey in a cage, till
my poor mind was all sore and smarting.
One morning the steward told me I did not look well, and when I
confessed I could not sleep he advised me to see the doctor and get a
draught; so I hunted out the doctor, and found one of the most
charming of men, a little Scotchman, called Philip, dark and
nice-looking, sympathetic, too, and quick-witted, who was something
more than a master of his trade. A doctor begins by studying diseases
and ends by studying his patients; that was where Doctor Edward Philip
had begun, though he was still under thirty. He told me it was easy to
make me sleep, and he gave me a small dose of chloral.
A sudden thought came to me, and I asked him why I could not have a
dose of morphia.
"No reason," he said, "except that it has after-consequences," and
he showed me a little bottle filled with tiny tabloids of morphia,
one-tenth of a grain in each.
I said nothing that night; but I noted the fact, and determined to
cultivate the doctor. I went off, for the present well-content with my
dose of chloral. Philip had told me that exercise was a good thing, so
I paced the deck the whole live-long day, and at eleven o'clock I was
in my berth, ready for sleep. I took a cup of chocolate, and then the
chloral, and when sleep would not come, I set myself to think of my
mascot, the two little children of the conductor, Joon and Jooly, and
his intense pride in them, and so drifted into oblivion.
When I awoke the steward was standing by my side.
"Seven o'clock, sir! You told me to wake you at seven."
I felt a new man. What a blessed thing sleep is! I got up and
dressed, and from that moment I date my convalescence.
Day after day I used to go in and have a talk with the doctor, and
long before the end of the voyage, I had managed to buy from him the
little bottle of morphia tablets, half of which I kept in a glass
bottle in my trouserspocket, and half in a cardboard pillbox in my
waistcoat pocket, so that in case of arrest I could immediately
swallow them. I was determined not to be caught alive; but strange as
it may seem, I had absolutely no fear of being arrested. Life offered
so little to me—life without Elsie and Lingg was so barren and
tedious a waste—that I did not care how soon it ended, so long as it
did not end in public shame, and on the scaffold. The assurance that I
had with me an easy method of escape helped my overwrought nerves to
As the days passed and we swung into the clear sunlight and dancing
air of mid-Atlantic, my spirits began to recover their normal tone.
Day by day I grew stronger, and all too soon we sighted land; about
eleven o'clock one beautiful May morning we ran up the Mersey to
Liverpool. I had been directed to a quiet, second-class hotel by
Doctor Philip, and after thanking him for all his kindness, I went on
shore. I had shaved regularly on board ship, and I had not the
slightest fear of being recognized.
I had never been in England before; the houses seemed to me tiny,
small, and innumerable. The railway-engines looked like toy engines;
the wagons on the railway like toy wagons after the fifty-ton freight
wagons of the American railways. But Liverpool remindedme of
Hamburg, again and again, in a hundred ways; the English people, too,
reminded me of Germans and my childhood. They were slighter people
than the Germans; but a little taller: better-looking, I thought, and
better dressed, wearing an air of greater comfort. On every side there
were evidences of greater wealth; this little island was evidently the
centre of a great empire. When I got to the hotel, after my supper, I
took up an evening paper, and the first thing I saw, staring at me,
was a little paragraph headed "Chicago":
"The Arrest of the Anarchist Leader."
My heart sank; was it Lingg? Every word of the telegraphed account
was photographed on my brain. The details were meager; no name was
mentioned; but the bare report scared me. I wanted to know more; but
there was nothing to be known. The night passed for me in a whirl of
excited thought. Next morning the papers had more details; but still
no name; yet evidently in some dumb, instinctive way the people in
Chicago had begun to realize that at last the police had caught
someone worth catching. I felt sure it must be Lingg. The reporters
spoke of him as a "wild beast." How did they get that idea? I plagued
my brain; but there was dislike and fear in every line writtenabout
him. The new captive had made an extraordinary impression on the
reporters, that was clear. I could not sleep.
I had already discovered in Liverpool a place where one could find
all the American papers, and I went there day after day. About a week
after my landing, the first Chicago paper came to hand; as I opened it
the paragraph jumped at me: "The Arrest of Louis Lingg." My heart
turned to water. I was soon able to reconstruct the whole story, and I
began to understand the reporter's adjectives: "a daring terrorist,"
"the bomb-maker," "the wild beast, Lingg."
The assistant chief of police, a man called Hermann Schuettler, was
not only a brave man, but a very powerful one; he had once killed a
tough in Chicago with a single blow of his fist. When information
reached the police headquarters about Lingg and where he lived,
Schuettler at once undertook to arrest him. The police, provided with
a full description of Lingg, surrounded the block while Schuettler
went to his house. But the bird had flown. The informer's information,
however, was very complete. He evidently knew the little carpenter's
workshop near the river where Lingg did odd jobs when out of work.
Schuettler and an assistant, Loewenstein, made their way there. It was
a framebuilding of one story, divided up into a large working-room
and two small bedrooms. The door of the workshop was locked;
Schuettler put his shoulder against the lock, and burst into the room.
At the sound Lingg turned from where he had been reading, on the other
side of the fireplace by the window, threw down the book, and with one
leap was at the policeman's throat. Schuettler talked of himself in
one of the papers as about the strongest man in Chicago; in the way of
business he had fought dozens of toughs; yet he admitted to the
reporters that he had never had a struggle like that with Lingg. They
rolled over the Moor of the room, fighting like demons; Lingg steadily
dragging Schuettler towards the door. They were so braided together
and their movements were so quick that Loewenstein could only look on
and await his opportunity. It came at length. Bit by bit Lingg was
steadily mastering Schuettler; Schuettler admitted that he was
choking, when he got Lingg's thumb in his mouth and almost bit it off.
In spite of the pain Lingg hung on, and in a moment more Schuettler
would have been unconscious. Lingg was on top, his head exposed, and
just when he had won, Loewenstein struck him senseless with a loaded
club, and he was carried off to the police station before he
recoveredconsciousness. Somehow or other everybody knew at once that
the capture was important. Lingg said no word; but the great fight he
had made impressed people, and the mere being of the man was so
intense that every one wrote of him as "the leader of the terrorists."
Thinking over the whole story, I could not help asking myself how
Lingg's name had got out. At once it flashed across my mind that he
had been given away, that Raben had denounced him. I felt it to my
fingertips—the white snake! I had a terrible night, reproaching
myself for ever having had anything to do with Raben; a terrible
The next day I went again to the post office, and found a letter for
Willie Roberts. It was from Ida. The letter was purposely obscure, yet
plain enough for me. Ida began by telling me that her Jack had been
taken ill, dangerously ill; she was frightened, though she still hoped
for the best. His message to me was to keep my promise; he wished me
to remember, too, that sick men often did noteworthy things. Ida went
on to say that she was in the sick-room every day; her life was there,
and she scarcely lived away from it.
Herewith ended the immediately personal part of Ida's letter. She
told me, besides, that she had had a long visit from a young lady who
was a terrible spit-fire, with animmense affection for Master Will.
The girl knew why Will had run away from her; forgave him freely, and
would go to him whenever he wanted her. "If I am any judge of love,"
Ida wrote, "this is the real thing." The girl's mother, however,
seemed to think Will was a ne'er-do-well, which only showed how little
she knew him. Ida had promised to give the girl any message Will cared
to send. And Jack wished to add that R. was from Kerioth.
These were the main points of the letter; I was "to keep my promise
not to be caught, and expect some deed or other from Lingg." My guess
that Raben was the traitor was justified. "R. was from Kerioth"
bothered me a little till I remembered that Judas was from Kerioth.
Elsie had forgiven me, and would come to me if I sent for her. Now
what message should I send in reply? Just this—I should keep my
promise to my friend, and begged my love to forget me. I could hardly
bear to write it, and was as glad afterwards that Elsie did not accept
my decision as final. I need hardly say I wrote my reply in such a way
that it could not have excited suspicion, even if it had fallen into
the hands of Bonfield himself, or Schuettler.
The more I thought of Ida's letter, the more I wondered what Lingg
meant by saying thateven prisoners could do "noteworthy things";
surely he was powerless there, in prison, for good or evil; or why had
he fought so desperately for freedom? Even I had no conception of his
prescience and courage.
My own part seemed utterly unworthy. I wanted to go back and give
myself up; but there was my promise to Lingg; he had repeated it in
the train, and now Ida had reiterated it. Well, I would go on to
London and see if I could not influence the English press a little,
for clearly the English newspapers on this matter were merely copying
the American newspapers; they repeated the sensational adjectives of
the Western reporters, only giving less space to the accounts, because
the matter was not of such interest in England.
One thing appeared clearly from all the Chicago papers, that the
whole American population was scared out of its wits by the Haymarket
bomb. Every day the Chicago police found a new bomb. I thought they
had started a special manufactory for them, till I read in the
"Leader" of New York that the same piece of gas-piping had already
served as a new bomb on seven different occasions. Captain Bonfield
and his satellites were very busy; they had used the "dragnet" to some
effect. In ten days they had arrested over ten thousand innocent
persons,nearly all foreigners, on one pretext or another, and not an
anarchist, except Lingg, in the whole crowd. Every day there were
illegal arrests by the hundred; every day hundreds of innocent persons
were thrown into prison without a shadow of evidence; the policemen
who could denounce and arrest the greatest number of people got the
quickest advancement. The whole town was frightened to idiocy.
I went off to London the same day and took lodgings in Soho. A
quiet sitting-room and bedroom cost me fifteen shillings a week, and
my breakfast each morning, a cup of tea and a roll, cost me only three
shillings and sixpence a week more. I could easily live for a couple
of years, even if my press work brought me in nothing.
It was well that I had not reckoned too much on my pen. I wrote an
account of what I called "The Reign of Terror in Chicago," about a
column in length, and took it round to the London newspapers; but I
never could find an editor; not one of them ever kept any office
hours; or, more probably, not one of them would see a stranger without
an introduction. It is harder to have a talk with an English editor in
London than with a Secretary of State in America, or the President
Tired out with calling and seeing no one, I made fair copies of the
article, and sent them to five or six papers. I received no answer. I
thought the article might be too descriptive, so I wrote one full of
personalities, giving little pen-pictures of Spies, and Fielden the
Englishman, and Engel. I hoped that if this article were accepted I
might follow it up with a pen-portrait of Lingg; but I need not have
worried myself; not one of the papers published the article; not one
of them even returned it to me. I began to see that what I had
regarded as the dullness of English papers, was a sort of mental
twilight which suited the eyes of the readers.
But there is everything in London, every quality of thought and
talent. I went out one day to a meeting of the Social Democratic
Federation, and found people something like the men I had known on
the other side. None of the speakers, however, seemed to me
extraordinary, There was a thin, hatchet-faced man, called Champion,
who had been, I was told, an officer in the army, and who talked wild
communism which he did not understand. There was a Mr. Hyndman,
however, a stout, prosperous-looking Jewish gentleman, who had read a
good deal, and who spoke excellently, though he had not, perhaps, got
hold of the heart of the matter;still, he was honest and earnest,
with a perfectly clear understanding of the organized social swindle,
and that's a good deal to say of anyone. Another man made a deep and
pleasant impression on me. He was below middle height, a
squarely-built, stout little man, with a good round head, ample
forehead, hand- some features, and beautiful, lovable blue eyes. I was
told he was William Morris, the poet, and I listened to him with a
good deal of interest, though his ideals seemed to be rather medieval
than modern; still, he was a charming, unaffected personality. He
reminded me of Engel and Fielden; in essential kindliness and goodness
these three men were very much alike.
It was while attending one of the meetings of the Social Democratic
Federation that I heard of Reynolds' Newspaper, and I at once sent the
editor copies of both my articles. He rejected "The Reign of Terror in
Chicago"; but accepted the personal article, in which I described
Spies and Fielden and Engel. He altered some of my epithets, however,
and cut out some entirely, so that the effect was that of a
water-colour sketch on which a blurring wet sponge had been freely
I should like to speak well of England, for it gave me rest and
shelter when I was insorest need. But it was quite plain to me that
England is still, as in Heine's time, the most stubborn upholder of
the established fact in the whole world. Individualism is pushed even
further there than it is in America, and the remains of a feudal
aristocracy petrify extravagant inequalities of possession and
privilege. Poverty is treated as a crime; the poorhouses degrade men
by the exaction of useless work, and by the distribution of incredibly
bad food. A hundred thousand persons are sent to prison annually
because they can't pay small fines; thousands more are imprisoned each
year for debt-the last survival in Europe of chattel slavery. The
bankruptcy laws are as barbarous as the Inquisition. By inflicting
savage terms of imprisonment for trifling offenses against property,
English judges have manufactured a class of habitual criminals who are
hardened beyond brutality by the semi-starvation and the floggings of
the gaols. It is now proposed by some authorities to imprison these
tortured wretches for life. The lower animals are treated better in
England than in any other country in the world; the poor are treated
like horses in Naples or dogs in Constantinople.
As I got to know the Englishman better, I grew to like him as a
well-meaning person who wears the biggest fig-leaf he can find;but
with time it has slipped out of place, and is now worn boldly on the
I spent the whole of June in London, and managed to get two or
three articles accepted by the advanced section of the press. They
were fairly well-paid for, and I lived so cheaply that I was not
forced to dip into my savings Every mail-day I read the Chicago
papers, and every mail I was more astounded by the lunkheaded bungling
of the Chicago police, and by the curious effect their own cowardice
had on the American population. The police acted on the principle of
arresting every foreigner they could lay their hands on, and by the
middle of June they had from twelve to fifteen thousand innocent men
and women in jail, and still continued to discover bombs and rifles
and anarchist clubs every day.
When the State Attorney got to work, however, to frame a coherent
case, he soon found that nearly all these arrests were utterly illegal
and silly; prisoners, in spite of the protests of the police, had to
be released literally by the thousand; there was not a scrap of
evidence procurable against them. The best the prosecution could do
was to fix on the people connected with the two advanced papers, and
their friends, and try to make out a case against them. Spies, of
course, was charged, and his assistant, Schwab; Fischer,too, and
Fielden, on the ground of certain speeches they had made; Lingg, as
the founder of the Lehr and Wehr Verein, and poor Engel because he had
always gone to the advanced meetings, and was a convinced admirer of
Spies. Parsons was charged, too; but he could not be found for the
The attitude of the accused served as a contrast to all this
cowardice and stupidity. Not a single one of them turned State's
evidence, or tried to lay the blame of his position on anyone else, or
attempted to deny the beliefs he held. And at length came the dramatic
climax to this quiet, unacknowledged superiority of the prisoners. The
police had not been able to find Parsons; but suddenly a letter from
Parsons appeared in the press, declaring that as he was innocent, he
would give himself up and be tried with the others, and one day, to
the general wonder, he quietly took train to Chicago, and walked into
a police station.
The surrender of Parsons, which was wired to London and appeared in
the London papers, had several results. First of all it caused a
certain sympathy to be felt towards him and his fellow-prisoners. A
number of Americans began to doubt in their hearts whether a man who
was guilty would give himself up, and if Parsons was not guilty,none
of the eight could be convicted. Yet the bomb had been thrown, and
some one must be punished for throwing it. The second effect of
Parsons' surrender touched me; it would surely force the police to
look again for the actual thrower of the bomb; clearly he was not the
man, or he would not put his head in the lion's mouth. And this
entailed the further consequence that the informer who had given Lingg
away would probably again be put to use. If Lingg and I were right in
taking Raben to be the informer, he would now certainly denounce me to
the police, and my prolonged absence must confirm his suspicion that I
was the actual thrower of the bomb.
Two days after the dramatic surrender of Parsons came the statement
that the thrower of the bomb was a German writer named Rudolph
Schnaubelt, who had made his escape and returned to Germany, and was
now being searched for, especially in Bavaria, by the German police.
Raben was the informer; of that now I had no doubt; but fortunately he
knew nothing precisely, his suspicions were incapable of proof. I
wrote, however, at once to Ida saying that I was quite well, and very
eager to see Chicago again. I should like to come out at once if I
could do any good, or be of any service. Would shelet me know what
Jack thought? Ever yours and his, "Will."
Ten days after I had sent this letter I received a note from Ida,
written evidently after Parsons had given himself up, and I had been
denounced to the police. In this note she begged me not to leave
London; Jack was a little better, would recover, the doctors thought;
but in all cases, hoped I would make myself a home in my own land.
Ida added that she saw my little friend frequently, who sent me a
thousand loving messages.
I did not answer this letter. I could say nothing to Elsie, except
that she ought to forget me as soon as she could, and the line of
conduct marked out for me did not become more pleasant on reflection.
I felt I ought to be in Chicago making a full confession which would
free the innocent; but my promise bound me, and the feeling that Lingg
was sure to be right in claiming its fulfilment. Besides, my
confession even would not free Lingg, though I took all the blame and
guilt on myself, for the latest Chicago papers stated definitely that
materials for bombs had been found in Lingg's rooms, and chemistry
books containing a new formula for a high explosive written in his own
hand. Gradually it seemed even the purblind public and the newspapers
were beginning to recognize that Lingg wasreally the storm-centre.
Here is a comparatively fair description of him; it is from the pen of
an American eyewitness who had studied him. I reproduce it in order to
let my readers see how Lingg struck the best sort of reporter.
"The strange figure in the group, the strangest man I have ever
known, and the least human, is Louis Lingg. He is a kind of modern
berserker, utterly reckless of consequences to himself, driving on in
a sustained fury of vengeance upon the whole social order. Little of
his abnormal physical strength is apparent when he is in repose. He is
slightly under average height,* very compactly built, with tawny hair,
a strong face and the most extraordinary eyes I have ever seen in a
human head, steel-grey, exceedingly keen, and bearing in their depths
a kind of cold and hateful fire. His hands are small and delicate; his
head large and very-well shaped; his face indicates breeding and
culture. It is when he walks, as I often see him striding to and fro
in the jail corridor, that he seems most formidable; for then his
lithe, gliding, and peculiarly silent step, and theplay of muscles
about his shoulders, suggests something cat-like, or abnormal, an
impression heightened by the leonine wave of hair he wore when he was
arrested, though when I saw him he was closely cropped and
clean-shaven. After all, for a small man, he is the most terrific
figure I have ever met. To any question or remark he is wont to
respond with a disconcerting stare, and I think few people observe him
without a feeling of relief that he is on the other side of the steel
bars. . . . ."
* It is curious to notice here how even careful
observers are often utterly mistaken on important points The writer of
the above sketch declares that Lingg was 'slightly under average
height" the truth is that Lingg was rather above the "average height,"
being nearly five feet eight in his stocking feet. Schaack. the police
captain stated afterwards in print that Lingg was "tall."— Note of
THE trial in Chicago was a startling, a horrible
revelation, even to me, of man's innate brutality. It seems only
natural to expect human beings to be at their best in a trial where
life and death hang in the balance. It shocks the onlooker to discover
that the great issue does not affect in any way the character or even
the conduct of ordinary people.
All through that year the capitalist papers in Chicago had been
shamelessly one-sided. Day after day their columns had been filled
with furious encouragement of the police; again and again they had
called upon Bonfield and his helpers to "use lead" against us; but I
had hoped that now this would all cease, that the hireling partisans
of the established order would hold their hands, at least for a time.
They could feel pretty confident that the judges whom they had
appointed and the machinery of the law which they had instituted would
act as they had designed them to act. At the worst, I thought, there
will be a show of fairness, and I comforted myself with the reflection
that if there wasany fair-play at all, it would be impossible to
convict seven out of the eight accused persons; for those seven had
had nothing on earth to do with the throwing of the bomb, and, in
fact, knew nothing whatever about it. Poor fool that I was! I still
imagined that innocence insured acquittal in a court of justice.
But already when I thought of the trial I began to grow indignant,
for strong as their case was I began to fear, and this was the heart
of my fear. The police had already asserted that they had found bombs
in Lingg's rooms. I knew Lingg well enough to know that that was
almost certainly untrue; he would never have implicated Ida in his
crime. From the description of the place, too, where he had been
captured, I knew that he had been trapped in his little carpenter's
workshop, and bombs would have been discovered there if anywhere.
Besides, the police description of the bombs found in Lingg's rooms
was altogether wrong; they had not the same shape as Lingg's bombs,
and, above all, the explosive used was declared to be dynamite, which
Lingg never used. For these reasons I felt certain that the bombs were
of police imagining, or police manufacture. And if the police could
manufacture lying evidence against Lingg, what was to hinder them
manufacturing lies about theothers? I began to fear for the result
and, as it turned out, with good reason.
The next batch of Chicago papers showed me that the police had
discovered bombs in Parsons's desk, and rides by the dozen in Spies'
house, and a little later bombs in Engel's shop. I had no need to read
further; even the Chicago police had surpassed themselves, and reached
the limit when they attributed bomb-making to kind old Engel. The
papers treated all these so-called discoveries quite seriously;
published pictures of the bombs; pictures of the fulminating caps,
anything and everything to prejudice the case, to excite horror and
detestation of the accused. Evidently the established order, the
robbers in possession, were determined at all costs to strike down
their enemies. Why should I hesitate to call them robbers? When
writing of the Paris Commune, did not Ruskin say that "the capitalists
are the guilty thieves of Europe ..."? Did he not attack, as it should
be attacked, that "occult theft; theft which hides itself, even from
itself, and is legal, respectable, and cowardly, which corrupts the
body and soul of men, to the last fiber of them"? And if you dispute
the authority of Ruskin, will you be convinced by Carlyle, or by
Balzac, or by Goethe, or by Ibsen, or by Heine, or byAnatole France,
or by Tolstoy, by any or all the leaders of modern thought? On this
subject they are all agreed. And agreeing with them, I mean to show
how this conspiracy of legalized thieves in Chicago defended
themselves and at length rid themselves of their opponents. I beg my
readers to believe that I expose this shameless vengeance of theirs
not in anger, but simply as a warning and a lesson to the class I
represent. It is well for working-men to know how the middle-classes
prostitute justice in the most democratic country in Christendom.
The trial was a cruel farce; from beginning to end a mockery of
justice. For weeks before it began the papers, as I have said, had
been poisoning the minds of the people in Chicago with every
imaginable police lie and slander—any stick seemed to the journalists
good enough for the anarchist dog. At the time the trial commenced
some thousands of men were still in prison in Chicago on suspicion;
held there in defiance of law, as a ready means of terrorizing any
witnesses that might be called for the defense.
Day after day the court-room was packed with friends of the
established order; well-dressed citizens who showed their feelings,
now by cheers, and now by groans, in most unmistakable fashion. The
proletariat, whooutnumbered the wealthy ten-to-one, were not allowed
to have any of their representatives in court; some who came there
were arrested and dragged off to prison without any pretense of
legality, in order to encourage the rest. What a disgraceful, pitiable
farce it all was!
First of all, the trial was held too soon after the offense to be in
any way fair to the accused, much less impartial. It began on the
twenty-first of June, within six weeks of the bomb-throwing. Then,
too, it was held on the very scene of the crime where men were still
too frightened to think of justice, and though a change of venue was
asked for, it was peremptorily refused. But not only was the courtroom
packed; the jury was packed also. Out of the thousand odd talesmen on
the list; only ten came from the fourteenth ward, the working-class
quarter, yet this ward alone had a population of 130,000, whereas the
whole population of Chicago was only five hundred thousand. And to
make security doubly sure, the ten talesmen who were taken from the
fourteenth ward were all carefully selected by the police; they all
lived, indeed, within a few yards of the police station. It was quite
in vain that Captain Black, the counsel for the defense, used his
right of challenge on such men; he challenged all of themhe was
allowed to challenge, a hundred and sixty for the eight defendants;
but all the talesmen were of the same class, so that he was powerless.
A single instance will establish this. He challenged one juror, and
appealed to the judge against him; for when questioned this juror
admitted that he had made up his mind from the first that the accused
were guilty—even before he had come into court. The judge, in order
to flaunt his prejudice, or rather in order to discover his complete
sympathy with the capitalist class, allowed this juror to serve.
Pontius Pilate was an infinitely fairer judge than Judge Gary;
Pilate had some misgivings; now and then tried to show fairness; but
Gary was proof against any such sympathy. From the beginning to the
end of the trial he always supported the State Attorney Grinnell, and
opposed the prisoners' counsel. Take one instance: he allowed a work
of Most, the half-mad anarchist, to be put in evidence against the
prisoners, though there was no evidence whatever, no particle of
presumption even, that any of the prisoners had ever seen the book,
and though it was written in a language which neither Fielden nor
Parsons could understand. With a hostile public filling the court,
with hostile papers whipping prejudice to madness, with a packedjury
of bitter opponents, with a judge who over-rode the most ordinary
forms of law in order to prejudice the jury against the prisoners,
there was not much chance of a decent verdict In spite of all this,
however, the case against the prisoners was so weak that it seemed
again and again as if it must break to pieces of its own rottenness.
The chief witnesses for the police were Captain John Bonfield and
Messrs. Seliger, Jansen and Shea. They all contradicted themselves and
contradicted each other on vital points. Bonfield was asked whether he
had ever used the words, "If I could only get a thousand of those
Socialists and Anarchists in a bunch . . . I'd make short work of
them." He admitted that he had used them, and declared that he was
justified. Seliger lived in the police station, and admitted that he
had received large sums of money from the police. Jansen and Shea
confessed that they had joined Socialist clubs and had made speeches
to incite the members against the police-confessed further that they
had been paid for those services; and yet Judge Gary held that their
evidence was admissible, and asserted that on the main points it had
not been shaken in cross-examination. Yet these witnesses were on
their own admission agents provocateurs. This travesty of
justice draggedon for two months; but long before it came to an end I
was sickened with the conviction that the jury would find every one of
the eight guilty, and yet there were moments when it seemed impossible
for even that jury to commit such a crime.
Captain Black did his work splendidly as advocate for the defense;
he tore the whole indictment of the State Attorney to pieces. He
showed that at first the eight men had been put on trial for murder,
and for weeks the police had tried to prove that they were the makers
and throwers of the bombs, or at least privy to the throwing (for the
one bomb I threw had become three, according to the police testimony).
This case, Captain Black pointed out, had absolutely broken down;
there was not a tittle of credible evidence to connect any one of the
prisoners with the throwing of a bomb. Then he showed how the State
Attorney, Grinnell, recognizing this, had begun to change his ground,
and charge the accused as anarchists. "The whole prosecution now
rests," he said, "on the attempt to prove that these men have incited
to murder by their speeches and writings." He went on to ridicule the
idea that any connection had been established between the strong
language used by the defendants and the throwing of the bomb. He made
his finalappeal to the jury to treat the case as a political case, as
a case in which the hot words of speakers on either side were not to
be taken seriously; but the packed class jury were above argument, and
beyond appeal. They brought in a verdict of "Guilty" against every one
of the eight.
The value of the verdict appears from one fact. Among the eight was
one man, Oscar Neebe, against whom nothing had been proved, whose
language had always been moderate, who was not even at the meeting in
Desplaines Street; but the jury, thinking it a pity to make an
exception, brought in Neebe guilty with the rest. Then the prisoners
were asked whether they had anything to say why sentence should not be
passed upon them.
One after the other got up, and made better speeches than I should
have believed them able to make. Parsons, of course, used the occasion
magnificently; according to all accounts surpassed himself. He began
by drawing attention to the fact that this trial was simply an
incident in the long conflict between capitalism and labor. "It was
well known," he declared, " that the representatives of the
millionaire organization, known as the Chicago Citizens' Association,
had spent money like water in order to buttress up the case against
the accused at every weakspot. These millionaires had at their
disposal the capitalist press—'that vile and infamous organization of
hired liars.' . . . The trial was instituted by the capitalist mob,
prosecuted by the mob, conducted amid the cheers and howls of the mob,
and had resulted in a mob verdict, . . .
"You are now asked," he went on, "to enter a verdict against us as
anarchists. Why not consider first the writings of the capitalist
press which came first in time, and which we only answered? When the
sailors in the docks were striking to obtain higher wages, what did
'The Chicago Times' say? Hand-grenades should be thrown among them; by
such treatment they would be taught a valuable lesson and other
strikers would take a warning from their fate....' What did 'The New
York Herald' say? 'The brutal strikers can understand no other
meaning than that of force, and ought to get enough to remember it for
many generations.' What did 'The Indianapolis Journal' say? 'Give the
strikers a ride diet for a few days, and see how they like that kind
of bread.' What did 'The Chicago Tribune' say? 'Give them strychnine.'
"Are these editors and writers on trial for inciting to murder? Yet
murder came again and again as a result of their incitement. Ihave
quoted you 'The Chicago Tribune's' article; three days afterwards
seven unarmed strikers were shot down by the police, murdered in cold
blood. Was the editor or the writer of the article in 'The Chicago
Tribune' arrested and charged with murder? There is evidently in
America one justice for the rich, and another for the poor. We
anarchists are to be treated as murderers; every hot or unconsidered
word we have used is to be brought up against us, yet there might be
some mitigation of the hatred you feel towards us if you considered
our position. Do you think it easy for us to see workmen starving who
are willing to work? to watch their wives and children getting thinner
and weaker day by day? All this winter thirty thousand workmen have
been out of work in Chicago, or, taking a family of three children to
each head, nearly a third of the whole population of Chicago has been
for months on the brink of starvation. When we see little children
huddled round the factory gates, the poor little things whose bones
are not yet hard, when we see them torn from the fireside, thrown into
the bastiles of labor, and their frail little bodies turned into gold
to swell the hoard of the millionaire or to bedeck the form of some
aristocratic Jezebel, it is time to speak out.
"Judge Gary has declared that resistance to the execution of the law
is a crime, and that if such resistance lead to death it is murder;
well, Judge Gary is mistaken. Our Declaration of Independence is a
higher authority than Judge Gary, and it asserts that resistance to
tyranny to unlawful authority is right; and what could be more
unlawful than for police to use bludgeons and revolvers on unarmed men
exercising the American right of free speech in an open meeting? Judge
Gary passes away and is forgotten; but the Declaration of Independence
will remain as a monument of human wisdom. . . .
"The prosecuting attorney has tried to excite prejudice against me
personally by calling me 'a paid agitator.' Well, I am paid, and I
have been paid. I receive the wages fixed by myself, eight dollars a
week, for editing 'The Alarm,' and all my other work. Eight dollars a
week, that is what my wife and I live on—'a paid agitator'; it is for
the world to judge whether the sneer is deserved.
"Do not think, gentlemen of the prosecution, that you will have
settled this case when they have carried my lifeless body to the
potter's field. Do not imagine that this trial will be ended by
strangling me and my colleagues! I tell you there will be
anothertrial, and another jury, and a more righteous verdict."
I have only given a few extracts from Parsons's speech, taking a bit
from this newspaper and a bit from that; for though he spoke for two
days, the whole of the reports I could get would have gone into a
column. The same papers, "The Chicago Tribune," and "The Chicago
Times," which gave the police evidence verbatim, minus the
contradictions, and reported the speech for the prosecution at full
length, scarcely deigned to give one word in a hundred of Parsons'
speech; yet even these prejudiced papers admitted that his speech was
a great one, and had a great effect.
But to my mind, knowing the man, and reading at a distance, the
speech of Engel was just as effective, and even more touching in its
transparent honesty. He did not carry the war into the enemies' camp
as Parsons did; he simply showed what the poor had suffered, and
confessed that his sympathies were naturally with all those who
labored and starved, and who were treated always with harshness and
contempt. Everything Engel said reached one's best sympathies. But the
sensation of the trial was the speech of Louis Lingg, though it was
"It is a pleasant irony," he began, "to callthis a fair trial in
open court, with a packed jury, a prejudiced judge, and crowds of
hired police witnesses; but the irony becomes sharp when we are asked,
after being brought in 'Guilty,' whether we have anything to say why
we should not be hanged, it being perfectly well understood that if we
spoke with the tongues of angels we should still he hanged.
"I had intended," he went on, "to defend myself; but the trial has
been so unfair, the conduct of it so disgraceful, the intent and
purpose of it so clearly avowed, that I will not waste words. Your
capitalist masters want blood; why keep them waiting?
"The rest of the accused have told you that they do not believe in
force. I may tell you that they have no business in this dock with me.
They are innocent, every one of them; I do not pretend to be. I
believe in force just as you do. That is my justification. Force is
the supreme arbiter in human affairs. You have clubbed unarmed
strikers, shot them down in your streets, shot down their women and
their children. So long as you do that, we who are Anarchists will use
explosives against you.
"Don't comfort yourselves with the idea that we have lived and died
in vain. The Haymarket bomb has stopped the bludgeonings and shootings
of your police for at leasta generation. And that bomb is only the
first, not the last...
"I despise you. I despise your society and its methods, your courts
and your laws, your force-propped authority. Hang me for it!"
According to all accounts this speech of Lingg had a tremendous
effect; the coolness of it, the detached impartiality of the
beginning, the bold avowal of his belief in force, the noble
declaration that he alone was guilty, the daring of the whole thing,
affected everybody. Above all the threat that the Haymarket bomb was
not the last. But, of course, the speech had no influence on the
Judge Gary, in giving sentence, began by saying that he was sorry
for the unhappy condition . . . of the accused; "but the law holds
that whoever advises murder is himself guilty of the murder that is
committed pursuant to his advice...." He went on to say that "the
defendant Neebe should be imprisoned in the State Penitentiary at
Joliet at hard labor for the term of fifteen years, and that each of
the other defendants, between the hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon
and two o'clock in the afternoon of the third of December next, in the
manner provided by the statute of this State, be hung by the neck
until he is dead. Remove the prisoners."
The whole spirit and meaning of the trial can be understood by any
impartial person from an article which appeared in "The Chicago
Tribune," welcoming the verdict and the sentences with indecent and
shameless delight. The article was headed "Chicago Hangs Anarchists,"
and the writer proposed that a hundred thousand dollars should
immediately be subscribed for the jury who had so nobly done their
I cannot describe the alternations of hope and fear which I
experienced in the two months the trial lasted. For sixty days I was
on the rack. I speak figuratively, because this English language is
figurative; it has all been made by poets and romance writers, by
people with imagination, and not by people with open eyes and clear
judgment; but new experiences demand a new telling, and the language
of plain fact is sufficiently impressive. Before the trial was half
over I had got into a habit of sleeplessness which first came to me
after I left Chicago. At the beginning I paid no attention to this
insomnia. When I was tired out, I thought I should sleep; but as the
conviction grew in me that these men would all be sentenced—Parsons,
who had given himself up, Spies, the lovable Fielden, dear old Engel,
Lingg— the sleeplessness grew on me and howevertired I was I could
not sleep without chloral or an injection of morphia. Even when I went
out of London to Richmond Park, and walked all day in that beautiful
place, and returned tired-out, I could not sleep; or if I dozed away
for a few minutes I began to dream hideous dreams, which woke me in
spite of myself, shaking with fear.
As my anxiety grew greater the hallucinations became more
distressing. One that I remember most acutely used to take the form of
an eye, which seemed to stare and stare at me till I awoke. The eye
would often in my dream grow luminous, and in its light I would see
again Crane's Alley, and the truck, and the speakers, and the little
red light, as of a falling star, and then the pit in the street, and
the red shambles, and I was awake, shivering in a cold sweat.
In another of these dreams a point would appear and turn quickly
into a beak and furnish itself with wings, and swoop down nearer and
nearer till I realized that it was trying to tear out my eyes, and
then it would come close and suddenly change into the dreadful street,
and again I was awake, gasping with terror.
Even when I merely closed my eyes, all the colors of the
kaleidoscope would paint themselves in bars and rings upon my
eyelids.Sometimes I saw nothing but crimson, and then orange, and
then bars of alternate crimson and orange. How could one sleep with
one's nerves playing such tricks?
The sleeplessness made the strain intolerable; I lost appetite and
lost strength. One day I went to a doctor, and he told me I was
suffering from nervous breakdown, and if I did not take a rest the
consequences would be serious. I asked him how I should rest. He shook
his sapient head, told me not to think of anything unpleasant, to go
out, and live in the open air, much as one might tell a hungry man to
pay a thousand pounds into his balance at the bank.
I reached breaking point just before the trial. I had been out
reading the papers, and had forgotten to get anything to eat. When I
returned to my lodging I ran up the stairs two at a time as was my
custom. As I got into my room and closed the door everything swayed
about, and I fell against the bed, and then slid down on the door in a
faint. When I came to I felt very weak and ill; but somehow or other I
managed to crawl into bed, where I lay for an hour or so. As luck
would have it, the servant came up to fill the water-jug, and I asked
her to bring me some cocoa and bread and butter. The food revived me;
but I was too weak to getup, and next day the weakness continued, and
I was surprised to see how pale and drawn my face was, that used to be
rather round and well-covered.
Days passed, and I got gradually stronger; but my nerves were all
ashake for months. I used to sit in the chair by the window for hours
without moving, while the tears poured weakly from my eyes.
Strange to say, when the verdict came and the anxiety was over, I
began to recover a little. I at once made up my mind to go back to
Chicago and give myself up, and this resolve having laid my cruel
doubts, I began to sleep better. But a few days afterward I received
another letter from Chicago, turning my resolution into an entirely
It was this letter which brought me back to life and life's purpose
again: "Jack seems very anxious about you," Ida wrote; "he hopes you
will write the story of his illness and your exile. 'Tell him,' he
says again and again, 'he was born a writer, and one good book is
worth a thousand deeds. I rely on aim to write and do nothing else....
Perhaps Lingg was right; at any rate, his advice held me, and I
began at once to write the story as I have set it forth here and the
writing of it—the purpose and the labor— brought me slowly back to
At first I wrote merely as a reporter, and found that after a
hundred pages I was still writing about my own boyhood. I tore up all
I had written and began again, determined to leave out everything
which did not illustrate the main theme, and this determination, in
spite of my want of talent and painful inexperience, is pulling me
through; but no one could be more painfully conscious than I am how
unworthy the writing is of the subject. I am acutely aware, too, that
this book is only interesting when I am dealing with great persons,
with Lingg, and Ida, and Elsie, and Parsons, so I will return to them,
and my story, for the greatest and most terrible things are still to
All this time I was not able to get the notion out of my head that
Lingg would not go sheep-like to the scaffold. To the very last I had
expected him to execute justice on his justicers, and end the trial in
open court with a bomb. If he had not done this it was because it was
impossible. He had probably been kept under the strictest watch. But
now I felt sure the watch would be relaxed, and Lingg's daring and
resolution were so extraordinary that he would probably do something
yet to strike terror into his opponents.
Meanwhile hope that the sentence might bemitigated was not
abandoned. An application for a new trial was made to Judge Gary and
was refused; but that was only what might have been expected.
About this time my heart was buoyed up by the fact that a change in
popular feeling seemed to be taking place in Chicago. In the late
summer the people began to prepare for the elections, and to the
astonishment of the capitalists, the Labor Party went from triumph to
triumph. No doubt, as a consequence of these successes, the judicial
aspect of the case altered for the better. On Thanksgiving Day, the
twenty-fifth of November, Captain Black got a supersedeas or
stay of execution of the vile sentence. This supersedeas allowed an
appeal to the Supreme Court, which Captain Black began at once to
The fogs of November and December drove me from London, in spite of
the fact that the prospects of my friends were brighter; in spite,
too, of the fact that I was beginning to make some little progress
with my book. Work in the gloom and grime and dirt had become almost
impossible to me. I was terribly depressed; my nerves seemed to give
way utterly in the semi-darkness and filth. So I seized the first
opportunity and took steamer for Bordeaux. Thepassage cost very
little, a couple of pounds for the four days. We had a very stormy
passage; but that was to be expected in the Bay of Biscay, and long
before we got to Bordeaux the air was clear and light, and the wind
had blown away all the depressing fogs. I found a room in a little
lane on the vines clad outskirts of the town, and lived there cheaply
for the winter. I managed almost to cover my expenses by what I wrote
for Reynolds', so that everything I did on the book seemed to me clear
gain. The worst of my sojourn in Bordeaux was that I was almost
completely cut off from the American world. The papers held no foreign
news worth talking about; the French, indeed, seem to believe that the
smallest thing which happens in France is more important than the
greatest thing which happens in any other country There is an
insularity of mind about them which is astonishing. They have lived so
long with the idea that they are the first nation in the world, and
their language the most important language, that they have not yet
awakened to the fact that they are only a second-rate nation, and
English and Russian, and even German, are incomparably more important
tongues than French. They are like men in a class of growing youths;
they imagine themselves stronger and wiser,whereas they are only
older and more vicious.
Early in March I made my way to Paris, and from Paris in a few days
I went on to Cologne; there I got in touch with the world again, and
learnt that on the thirteenth of March Captain Black's appeal had been
laid before the Supreme Court. Judgment, however, was not expected for
I found a socialist club in Cologne, and, indeed, in every German
town which I visited. I was afraid to go freely to the meetings; but
from time to time I attended some of the lectures and found that in
Germany, at least, the new creed was every day making new converts.
In the course of that summer I wrote a good deal for the advanced
German papers, especially for the socialist sheets; but I found that
Lingg's idea that a perfect modern State should embrace both socialism
and individualism was not acceptable to socialists. They insisted
that co-operation would have to take the place of competition
altogether as the motive-power in life, which I could not at all bring
myself to believe. Again and again I pointed out that all the evils of
our society arose from the fact that the individual had combined with
others and so increased his own strength, and was thus enabled togain
control of great departments of industry which he had no business to
control, and thereby annex profits which should have gone into the
coffers of the State. The world seemed to me gone mad. Seven out of
ten people one met believed in unrestrained individualism, and
declared that the gigantic evils of it were only accidental and
unimportant, whereas the other three were certain that competition
spelt nothing but waste and fraud and shameless greed, and declared
that with cooperation the millennium would come upon earth. I stood
between these two parties, and for my moderation was regarded as an
enemy by both. The individualists would not have me because I could
not accept their extravagant lies; the socialists would not have me
because I could not go the whole way with them. Again and again I was
forced to see the truth of Lingg's saying that the modern State was
not complex enough: there should be many more Government appointments
at small salaries for people with extraordinary peculiarities or gifts
which enabled them to see and do things that other men did not see and
could not do. Progress in society comes usually from what scientists
call "sports," men or women of some extraordinary gift, and the
"sports" in a democracy, I noticed have little chance of survival.The
vast body of brutal public opinion, as I had found in America,
overwhelms them, hates them, or at least is impatient of their
superiority, and indeed of their mere existence, and so the feet of
progress are clogged.
AS the months went on I began to look for a good issue,
but towards the end of the summer my hopes were suddenly blasted. On
the twentieth of September the Supreme Court gave its judgment,
affirming the judgment of Judge Gary's Court with one voice. When I
was able to read the "opinion" of the Supreme Court in the American
papers I gasped with astonishment; it was simply manufactured.
Statements were assumed as indisputably true which were absolutely
false, which were never even mentioned in evidence in the lower
Court. The higher one went, the worse one fared; I ought to have
divined it. The better the judges were paid, the higher their
position, the more certain they were to be on the side of the
established order; on every single point the Supreme Court judges
warped the law to suit their prejudices.
As was to be expected, the Labor Party did not accept this infamous
verdict as decisive. The "opinion" created intense excitement among
the labor leaders, and the labor organizations in Chicago preparedto
agitate boldly. The capitalists, however, were ready for the fight. A
labor meeting of protest was called and well-attended, but was
boycotted by the capitalist press. That was not enough; stronger
measures, therefore, were at once adopted. Mrs. Parsons was going
about exciting sympathy by distributing copies of that part of her
husband's speech at the first trial which contained an appeal to the
American people, based on the Declaration of Independence. She was
arrested and thrown into prison, and immediately on top of this, all
meetings in favor of the condemned men were forbidden in Chicago.
Evidently the capitalists were not only straining but degrading the
law in order to take vengeance upon their enemies. Then I learned
tardily that Captain Black had gone to New York to take counsel with
General Pryor, the ablest counsel in America, on the best method of
appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. He could not,
however, get evidence to lay before the Supreme Court; the use of the
"record" of the Court below was refused to him, for the first time in
American history. When I read this I knew that matters were desperate,
and that whatever I could do must be done quickly.
At once I went back to London and began to stir up the Radical
clubs. Every one ofthem heard me with sympathy and acted on my
advice. I found, too, some notable English men and women working in
the same cause, particularly Doctor Aveling, and Eleanor Marx
Aveling. Mr. Hyndman, also, was indefatigable, both speaking and
writing in favour at least of a fair trial, and William Morris
imperilled his reputation in America quite cheerfully by writing an
impassioned appeal on behalf of the condemned men. Two or three
Americans, too, distinguished themselves in the same way, especially
William D. Howells and Colonel Ingersoll, the famous lecturer, who
showed his accustomed courage by writing against what he dared to call
"a judicial murder."
The Supreme Court had fixed the eleventh of November for the
execution, and I began to fear for the first time that these men would
indeed be executed on that day, for the extremity of need only
discovered the weakness and want of organization of the proletariat,
the overwhelming strength of the capitalist established order. In
London the protests of the radical clubs were scarcely noticed by the
middle-class papers. Every one of the great sheets, like "The Times"
and "The Telegraph," simply announced the date of the execution and
the finding of the Supreme Court as ordinary facts which must have
beenexpected. Justice was to be done, they all said, and the sooner
the deed was accomplished the better; and that was the spirit in
America, too, only there it was intensified by a certain amount of
fear and rage. "At last we are coming to the end," said "The Chicago
Tribune," "and we shall soon be quit of monsters who are better out of
That seven out of the eight men were entirely innocent seemed to
concern no one, and interest no one in particular. If one spoke about
it in a public-house or in the street, one met simply cold looks,
unwilling attention, shrugging shoulders. I was forced to the
conclusion that the number of people in this world who care for
justice or right, apart from their own interests, is very small. Now,
as in the old days, there were not five righteous to be found in a
city. Anger and rage seemed to give me back some of my strength. Again
I wrote to Ida, saying that I was eager to return to Chicago. I
pleaded with her as I knew she would plead with Lingg, and again our
letters crossed; for in the last days of October I received a letter
from her in which Jack thanked me for having kept my promise and bade
me watch the end carefully, for "a good witness would be needed." I
couldhear him say the words, and at once I set myself to get every
particle of information I could about the condemned men and their
treatment. What I learned, and what came of it, and the terrible end,
I must now tell as best I can.
The so-called anarchists had been confined for the fifteen months
in what was called "Murderers' Row" in the Cook County Jail. Their
cells were small, square rooms, with one heavily barred window, high
up, and a heavy door. Outside the ordinary door there was another
door made up of bars of iron, which was used in summer for purposes
The head jailer's name was Folz, a veteran in the service, who was
careful, watchful, yet considerate. From time to time the prisoners
were permitted to talk with their friends; but then only in the
so-called "Lawyers' Cage," a cell ten feet by sixteen, the door of
which was not only made of iron bars; but was covered, too, with a
close network of wire. Outside this stood the person talking to the
prisoner; inside, the prisoner with his death watch in close
attendance. As soon as the Supreme Court had given its judgment and
fixed the date of execution, the harshness of the prisoners' treatment
was sensibly mitigated. The wives of the condemned men were permitted
to visit them nearly every day, and Miss Miller was allowed to see
Lingg as freely as if she had been his wife.
In the early days of November Captain Black strained every nerve to
get some at least of the prisoners pardoned; he was convinced of their
innocence, and labored as only an able and kindly man could labor on
their behalf. At length he got Schwab and Fielden and Spies to sign a
petition for pardon. The petition was based on several reasons: the
first was that they were innocent of the bomb-throwing; the second was
like unto it, that they had no knowledge whatever of the
bomb-throwing; and the third was founded on the fact that at the
Haymarket meeting they had advised peaceable measures. This petition
was forwarded to the Governor, and every one hoped that Governor
Oglesby would do something to mitigate the terrible sentence.
Every effort was then concentrated on the attempt to get Parsons,
Engel, and Fischer to petition at least for their lives. Mrs. Fischer
and Mrs. Engel did what they could, while Mrs. Parsons would not
consent to try to influence her husband in any way. Parsons absolutely
refused to sign any petition that did not contain a demand for
unconditional pardon and absolute liberty. At length the three signed
this petition, and Captain Black brought it and laid it before Lingg,
who first of all pointed out that it was quiteuseless, and then
declared that even if it were thinkable that such a pardon would be
granted, he would not ask for it. It was only when Mrs. Engel came and
implored him to do it for her husband's sake that Lingg at last
yielded, and that petition, too, went to the Governor. The Governors
answer was reserved till the tenth of November; but it leaked out that
he would remit the death sentence on Schwab and Fielden at least. It
was not to be expected that he would take into account the petition
for an unconditional pardon which had been addressed to him by the
other four men.
While these things were going on an event occurred which once more
lashed the passions of men to fever heat. In spite of a good deal of
laxity in the management of the prison, Jailer Folz had the cells
searched from time to time. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he had the
cells searched on the Sunday morning, the sixth of November, the first
day of the fatal week. Nothing was found in any of the cells except
Lingg's, and in Lingg's cell three bombs were found, it was said, by
The accident was peculiar enough to carry conviction with it.
Lingg, it seems, had asked again and again for oranges all through the
summer, and Miss Miller brought himoranges, which he kept in a little
wooden box by his bedside. When the cell was opened to be searched he
was asked to step into the "Lawyer's Cage." He got up at once, and
"May I take my oranges with me?"
"No," replied the jailers; "please leave everything; you don't need
to eat oranges for two minutes."
Lingg had already taken the little wooden box in his hand; as they
refused him he tossed it carelessly on the bed and went out into the
"Lawyer's Cage." The policemen paid no attention at first to the
little box; they searched the whole cell till they came to the bed;
then Deputy-Sheriff Hogan took up the box, opened it, and shoved it
along outside the door into the corridor. As luck would have it the
box went too far, went through the railings of the corridor and fell
on the floor beneath; there it burst, and the oranges rolled all over
the place. Hogan, seeing the result of his push, went to the railings
of the corridor and looked over, and noticing that all the prisoners
were concerned with these oranges, called to them to bring them up;
but just as he was turning away, he saw one of the prisoners had
stripped the yellow skin from an orange and discovered a layer of
cotton-wool underneath. At once he sprangdown the stairs and seized
the box. On closer examination, according to the police report, three
bombs were found among the oranges, concealed in orange skins.
After this discovery Lingg was removed to a separate cell, number
eleven, altogether apart from the others, and watched night and day
by his death-watch. Had he meant to blow the jail up, or to use bombs
on the very place of execution? I could not divine.
The discovery in Lingg's cell set all America in a quiver of rage
and fear. Chicago was given over to panic, the governor of the prison
was attacked in the press; the conduct of the jailers blamed, and the
sheriffs condemned on all sides. Too much license had been allowed.
These anarchists were fanatics—murderers and madmen—and must be
watched like wild beasts, and killed like wild beasts. The press was
unanimous. Fear dictated the words that rage penned; but what manner
of men these anarchists were was soon to appear, beyond all doubt,
from their deeds. They were not to be painted by the lies and slanders
of terrified enemies, but by their own acts in the light of day to all
OF the seven accused men only one was an American, Albert
Parsons, and it seemed as if the higher the tide of execration rose
against the other anarchists, as foreigners and murderers, the more
the American mob desired to make an exception in favor of Parsons. It
is the tendency of masses of men to praise and blame at haphazard and
extravagantly. Their heroes are demi-gods, their enemies fiends. As I
have shown, public opinion had turned Louis Lingg into a devil, a
monster, a wild beast, and this same public opinion now tried to turn
Parsons into an angel of light. It must be confessed that he touched
the sympathies of Americans on many sides. He was not only a
native-born American, but a Southerner who had fought as a boy for the
Confederate States, and who after the war had approved the conditions
imposed by the North. In '79 he was nominated as the Labor Candidate
for the Presidency of the United States, and declined the honour.
This man's past proved beyond doubt that he was absolutely
disinterested; a fanatic, ifyou will, but a man of highest principle;
a good man, that is, and not a bad one. It was impossible even for
malice to condemn Parsons as a murderer, as Lingg, Spies, Engel,
Fischer, and the others were condemned. Besides, he had not been
caught by the police; with singular magnanimity he had given himself
up, and of his own impulse faced the danger. The sincerity of his
motives, his noble character, the eloquence of his defense, had made a
deep impression on the people. Governor Oglesby, who was already
minded to. reduce the sentences of Fielden and Schwab to imprisonment
for life, could not overlook the claims of Parsons. Every one wanted
to condemn the foreign anarchists as a body, and not to excite further
sympathy with them by forcing Parsons to share their fate.
Accordingly, on the Wednesday morning, the ninth of November, Captain
Black was informed that if Parsons would sign a petition for mercy
without any further words, the Governor would grant it in view of his
Captain Black, who was of high character and greatly esteemed by
the people of Chicago, hurried at once to the prison, and used every
argument that he could think of to induce Parsons to sign a colorless
petition, merely asking for mercy. To his eternalhonour Parsons
absolutely refused to sign any such document.
"I am innocent, Captain Black" he exclaimed, "and therefore I am
entitled not to pity and a commutation of my sentence; but to freedom,
and such honour as I may deserve"; and when pressed by Black, who
told him that this was his last chance, he pointed out that he could
not take it, even if he wanted to.
"It would seal the fate of my comrades," he said, "and would be on
my part a betrayal, or at least an act of desertion. I would rather be
hung a thousand times."
In spite of everything Captain Black could do, in spite even of the
entreaties of his wife, Parsons held to his decision. The next morning
the Governor gave his answer to the petitions. He commuted to
imprisonment for life the sentences of Schwab and Fielden, leaving
Spies, Fischer, Engel, Parsons, and Lingg to their fate. The execution
was fixed for the following morning.
No one was satisfied. Nine out of ten Americans cared nothing for
Fielden or Schwab; but that Parsons should be hung, Parsons who out
of loyalty to his comrades had refused to accept a free pardon, seemed
monstrous and horrible, even to the most heated partisans—an infamous
sentence. At the same time they comforted their vanity withthe
reflection that "the only fine man of the crew was a native-born
American." They were soon to be undeceived, soon to be taught that
among the despised foreigners was one man, in character and courage,
head and shoulders above his fellows.
All the while, since the discovery on the Sunday morning of the
bombs, Lingg had been kept by himself in cell 11, and had been denied
to every one. The jail clerk, Mr. B. Price, took turn looking after
him, with his death-watch, Deputy-Sheriff Osborne. Captain Osborne
seems to have been very kind to Lingg, who naturally responded to
sympathy as a watch to its main-spring.
Early on the morning of the tenth, Osborne communicated to him the
decision of the Governor, and told him, too, how in spite of every
temptation Parsons had refused to ask for mercy or place himself in an
exceptional position. When Lingg heard it he cried—
"That's great, great! Well done, Parsons, well done!" Shortly
afterwards Lingg took a ring from his finger, handed it to Mr.
Osborne, and desired him to keep it as a memento of his kindness to
"Take it to the window," he said, "and look at it. It is not worth
much, but perhaps on that account you will prize it the more."
Captain Osborne took it to the window, not to look at it, as he
afterwards said, but to hide his own emotion; and while he was at the
window he was shaken and, thrown against the wall by a terrific
explosion. Before he could even see, or know what had happened, the
door was torn open. The jailer and his assistant rushed in. Already
the fumes of the explosion were passing away, and Lingg was seen lying
on his face on the bed in the corner of his cell, in a pool of blood.
What followed I take from the account which appeared in "The New
York Tribune" of the eleventh of November, a paper which certainly
showed Lingg no sympathy; but great deeds and great men can be seen
even through the foul mists engendered by hatred and ignorance, and
the reports of one's enemies are not to be suspected of flattery.
"Streams of blood deluged the bedding and the floor. Pieces of flesh
and bone were scattered in every direction. The gloom of the cell, the
sickening vapors of the explosion, were enough to appall the stoutest
"'For God's sake, man, what have you done?' exclaimed Turnkey
"There was no response, not even a sign of breathing. A light was
quickly brought. Jailer Folz felt the pulse of the criminal.Had he
succeeded in cheating the gallows? There was no time to answer the
question. Aided by the deputies the jailer carried the body to the
door of the cell, out into the cage, and into the office. A
bloodstained trail marked the way. It was an awful sight. The features
of the criminal were bathed in blood. The entire lower jaw was gone,
and part of the upper. Ragged strips of flesh hung down below the
eyes. His chest seemed to be stripped of flesh to the very bones. The
eyes were closed, and the right hand convulsively clutched the
jailer's coat. But not a groan escaped him. . . .
"Doctors were sent for in every direction. Dr. Gray, the assistant
county physician, responded almost immediately. By his orders Lingg
was taken to the bathroom, back of the jailer's office. Here he was
laid upon two small tables hastily pushed together. A couple of
pillows were placed under his head. In an instant they were dyed a
deep crimson, and a dark pool of blood formed on the floor below. The
physician, bending over him at work with a glistening knife and
needles, cut away the shattered pieces of bone and shreds of bleeding
flesh. It was the work of a few minutes only to tie the severed
arteries. The doctor fills a small sponge with some liquid, and
plunges it down the awful-looking cavitythat leads to the throat. The
dying man's big chest slowly begins to rise and fall. He was not dead
yet. His heart and lungs still performed their functions. Up and down,
up and down, heaved the chest, and at each motion torrents of blood
poured from the torn palate into the throat. Unceasingly the doctor
and his assistants, who had arrived in the meantime, continued to
apply the sponge. At last the hand of the unfortunate man moved. It
clutched the blanket thrown over his body. His whole frame trembled
for a moment, and then he raised that terrible head and the face
mangled out of all semblance of humanity. For a moment he opened his
eyes and coughed a hoarse, gurgling cough, and with it up came again a
stream of blood, a horrifying sight. . . .
"The Sheriff at last arrived. His face blanched as he glanced at the
spectacle before him, and then he turned away. Hot blankets were
brought, and hot water applied to the feet of the fast sinking man.
Presently the flow of blood was stopped, and the bandages round the
lower part of the face gave the distorted features a more human
appearance. Hypodermic injections of ether were given every few
minutes. Their bare arms covered with blood, the physicianscontinued
their frightful task. At last they were rewarded for their labors.
"The mangled body gave tokens of life; the signs of returning
consciousness were unmistakable.
"'Open your eyes,' said County Physician Mayer. Lingg slowly opened
"'Now shut them,' said the doctor. They closed mechanically almost.
"In the midst of the operations upon him the anarchist raised his
hand to the doctors. They paused. He essayed to speak. It was
impossible. The tongue, torn at the roof, falls back into the throat.
He makes a motion as if desiring to write. Paper and pencil were laid
at his side. Slowly, but with a firm hand, he traced the words-
"'Besser anlehnen am Rucken. Wenn ich liege, kann ich nicht athmen.'
"'Better support to my back. When I lie flat, I cannot breathe.'
Was there ever such superhuman resolution?
"He slowly turns upon his right side. His eyes become glassy. A
pallor overspreads his features. It is evident that the end is near.
"'Are you in pain?' asks the physician.
"A nod of the head is the only answer; but not a groan, not a sign
of suffering. . . .
"At half-past two the County Physician went to the telephone in the
jailer's office and sent the following message to the Sheriff—
"'Lingg is sinking fast; he cannot last much longer.' "Already
there began the stertorous breathing. The pallor deepened. The eyes
resumed their glassy stare. A tremor passed through the body. There
was a quick and sudden upheaval of the breast. For a minute or so the
breathing continued, Then everything was quiet. The doctor looked once
more upon the face, and then said—
"'He is dead.'
"Jailer Folz took his watch out and compared it with the timepiece
on the wall. It was exactly nine minutes to three o'clock. The dead
anarchist lay upon the table with his breast bared. The doctors left
the room. There were only a turnkey and a reporter to close his eyes.
The latter attempted to do it, but they would not close. He finally
attempted to do it with some pennies which he had in his pocket, but
they were not heavy enough. A policeman at that moment entered the
room. It was with satisfaction almost that he looked upon the murderer
of his comrades.
"'Have you some nickels with you to close his eyes?' he was asked.
He fumbled with his hand in his pocket; but presently drew itaway.
'Not for that monster,' he declared resolutely.
"Opinions differ as to the means employed by Lingg to end his
miserable career. Theories are plentiful: but evidence is scarce.
Proof is wholly wanting. One thing can be accepted with safety; it was
a high explosive did the work."
This terrible occurrence threw the whole prison into disorder. The
jailers ran about like maniacs; the prisoners screamed questions; the
prison was in an uproar. Parsons pushed to the bars of his cell and,
when he heard what had happened, cried out, "Give me one of those
bombs; I want to do the same thing."
The news of the explosion quickly spread beyond the prison walls,
and a crowd collected demanding information—a crowd which was soon
swollen by reporters from every paper in the city. The news got out in
driblets, and was published in a dozen prints. The city seemed to go
mad; from one end of the town to the other men began to arm
themselves, and the wildest tales were current. There were bombs
everywhere. The nervous strain upon the public had become intolerable.
The stories circulated and believed that afternoon and night seem
now, asone observer said, to belong to the literature of Bedlam. The
truth was, that the bombs found in Lingg's cell and his desperate
self-murder had frightened the good Chicagoans out of their wits. One
report had it that there were twenty thousand armed and desperate
anarchists in Chicago who had planned an assault upon the jail for the
following morning. The newspaper offices, the banks, the Board of
Trade building, the Town Hall, were guarded night and day. Every
citizen carried weapons openly. One paper published the fact that at
ten o'clock on that Thursday night a gun store was still open in
Madison Street, and crowded with men buying revolvers. The spectacle
did not strike any one as in the least strange, but natural, laudable.
The dread of some catastrophe was not only in the air, but in men's
talk, in their faces.
There has never been seen anything in any part of America like the
spectacle Chicago presented on the morning of the eleventh of
November. For a block in each direction from the jail, ropes were
stretched across the street, and all traffic suspended. Behind the
ropes were lines of policemen, armed with rifles, all the way to the
jail the sidewalks were patroled by other policemen armed to the
teeth; the jail was guarded like an outpost in a battle. Lines of
policemenwere drawn round it, and from every window armed policemen
looked forth; the roof was black with them.
At six o'clock in the morning reporters were admitted to the
prison; after that, entrance was denied to every one. From six till
close upon eleven o'clock some two hundred reporters stood there,
cooped up in the jailer's office, waiting. Wild stories were whispered
from one white face to another, stories that tried the strongest
nerves. Two of the reporters fainted under the strain and had to be
taken outside. "In all my experience," writes one of those present,
"this was the only occasion on which I ever saw an American reporter
break down under any punishment, however terrible, to be inflicted on
"It is hard," says the same eyewitness, "now to understand the
power of the infectional panic that had seized upon the city and the
jail; perhaps some idea of our feelings may be gained from the fact
that while we waited there a Chicago newspaper issued an extra,
seriously announcing that the jail had been mined, and at the moment
of the hanging the whole structure and all in it were to be
Lingg's forecast of the result of the second bomb was more than
Some time afterwards this same honest reporter and eyewitness gave
a description of the judicial murder which should be read here.
"The word came at last; we marched down the dim corridors to the
courtyard appointed for the terrible deed; we saw it done; we saw the
four lives crushed out according to the fashion of surviving
barbarism. There was no mine exploded; there was no attack; the
Central Union did not march its cohorts to the jail nor elsewhere; no
armed or unarmed anarchists appeared to menace the supremacy of the
State. In all men's eyes there was something of the strain and anxiety
that made all the faces I saw about me look drawn and pallid; but
there was nowhere the lifting of a lawless hand that day. It sounds
now a horrible and cruel thing to say, yet visibly, most visibly, all
men's hearts were lightened because those four men's hearts were
stilled in death.
"One other strange scene closed the drama, for who that saw it can
ever forget that Sunday funeral procession, the black hearses, the
marching thousands, the miles upon miles of densely packed and silent
streets; the sobering impression of the amnesty of death; the still
more sobering question whether wehad done right? Lingg's
self-immolation and the astounding courage with which he had borne his
horrible sufferings had brought everyone to pity and to doubt. The
short November day closed upon the services at the cemetery in the
darkness the strangely silent crowds straggled back to the city. There
was no outbreak at the graves or elsewhere; everywhere this silence,
like a sign of brooding thought."
And so the long tragedy came at length to its end. I can never tell
what I felt on reading these reports. How I could see it all! How well
I understood Lingg and the reason of his desperate act. What the four
bombs were for I could not imagine at the time, though I was soon to
learn; but surely he had used the bomb on himself in order to get the
terrorizing effect he wanted without hurting anyone but himself.
Think, too, of his courage and iron self-control! How he found perfect
words to prevent Osborne from suspecting him, and how when called
back to life and exquisite torture by the surgeon's skill, not a groan
escaped him, not a cry. Tears poured from my eyes. Such power lost
and wasted, such greatness come to so terrible an end! There was
something dreadful to me in the idea that even the policeman
couldspeak of Lingg, lying there dead, as a "monster." All he had to
do was to ask the death watch, Osborne, and he might have got a fairer
opinion of him, for Osborne after the catastrophe was not afraid to
speak the truth. This is what he said of Lingg: "I have the highest
opinion of Louis Lingg; I believe him to have been misunderstood; as
honest in his opinions as it is possible for a man to be, and as free
from feelings of revenge as a new-born babe. I only wish that every
young man in America could be as strong and good as Louis Lingg,
barring his anarchism.
Even his jailers were won by him to pity and to reverence.
MY long task is nearly done, and I am not strong enough to
linger over the last sad happenings. Ten or twelve days after I
received at Cologne the telegraphic news of Lingg's death, I got the
newspaper accounts of the whole occurrence, which I have used in the
last chapter, and with the same post a long letter from Ida,
containing four leaflets covered with Lingg's clear script. He had
written them and given them to Ida to be sent to me on her last visit
on Saturday, the fifth of November, just before the bombs were found
in his cell. Here is the letter—
"You have followed my lingering illness, I know, and will be glad as
I am that the doctors are going to allow me to get up within a week. I
have suffered and must still suffer; it has taught me that no one
should inflict suffering who is not ready to bear it cheerfully; I am
ready. Our work is nearly finished, Will, and it is good work, not
bad, as you once feared. The First Factory Act passed in the State of
New York, preventingchildren under thirteen being worked to death, is
dated 1886. The only thing that remains for one of us now is to do
what Jesus did with the cross, and by sheer loving-kindness turn the
hangman's noose into a symbol of the eternal brotherhood of men. My
heart burns within me; we won the Children's charter and it was cheap
at the price; good work, Will; never doubt it.
"It is good, too, that you and I got to know and love each other. Be
kind to Ida; marry Elsie; get on with your great book, and be happy as
men are happy who can work for themselves and others.
"Your loving comrade to the end,
I don't wish to put too high these hasty lines scribbled in jail
almost at the last minute; but it is impossible to read them without
recognizing the noble courage and generous thought of others which
breathe through them: "out of the strong came forth sweetness." So far
as I was concerned this letter lifted me out of the slough of despair.
Determined to do as Lingg asked me, I got work on the papers in
Cologne and did my best to take up again the burden of life.
Ida's letter to me explained everything and I read it with tears
dropping from myeyes. She forced herself to give me Lingg's last
"'Tell Will,' he said, 'that it seemed to me wrong to strike
subordinates or instruments more than once, and I was prevented
striking principals or the court as I had intended.
"'Besides, we were being misunderstood: men of the baser sort said
we struck out of greed or hate: it was necessary to prove that if we
held the lives of others cheap, we held our own cheaper. Men do not
kill themselves for greed or hate; but for love, and for an ideal. My
deed will teach the wiser among our opponents that their police are of
no use against us; authority must be one with right and love to win a
"He was mad, Will," Ida wrote on, "as those are mad who are too
good to live. I begged him for my sake not to touch the thing; but he
got me to bring it in on my fingers and in my hair, bit by bit; he
wanted enough for the others as well as himself—'the key,' he called
it, 'of our mortal prison."
The rest of her letter was very simple and very touching; it was
evidently written after the final scene and the quiet burial. Mrs.
Engel had been very kind, she said, and had insisted that Ida should
go to live with her.They were together now in the shop, Ida helping
to take care of the three children. The youngest is just like Engel
himself, Ida added, so chubby and kind and strong; and then she went
back to Lingg:
"He told me not to think of the past, and I am trying to do as he
wished; but it is very hard; often I forget, and Johnny pulls my dress
and says, 'Don't twy, Auntie Ida! don't twy.'
"Elsie comes to see me every day; she is loyal and true. Write to
her; she is prettier than ever, and in her mourning looks angelic.
Write often, Will; we must draw closer now—ah, God! . .
I wrote by return to Ida telling her of my loving sympathy, and
begging her to let me know if I could help her in any way, and
enclosed a letter to Elsie, asking her if she were willing to marry
me. She replied that she was willing to come to Germany or France, and
marry me at once; might she bring her mother? The letter was all
sweetness. The dear baby phrases in it were as balm to any heart. "I
wish I were with you, dear, to nurse you; you'd soon get well. You
have taught me love; I am a better woman for having known you, and so
proud of my boy. I am longing to start, and yet the thought of meeting
you makes me very shy. . ." The sweetheart!
I wrote back that I hoped for nothing better on earth than her
companionship, and that I would begin at once to get a house ready and
would send for her as soon as possible.
But it was not to be. One evening I had wandered about trying to
coax myself to hope, or at least to work; but in vain. All my thoughts
turned to melancholy brooding and sadness. It seems to me now, looking
back, that something in me broke when Elsie left my room on that
fatal afternoon in May. I was not strong enough for such tremendous,
conflicting emotions; something else snapped when I threw the bomb
and realized what I had done, and the last strand that bound me to
life gave way when Lingg died. Nature treats us as we treat stubborn
children. We cling to the bough of life as long as we can, and Nature
comes and strikes our fingers one after the other, till, unable to
endure the punishment any longer, we loosen our hold and fall into the
My punishment had broken my will to live; it had probably undermined
my strength also, for a simple wetting brought me down. Next morning
I could scarcely breathe with bronchitis, and was ill. I wrote to
Elsie and told her that I had caught a bad cold; begged her to wait
for me, I should soon get better;but I knew even then that I was
more likely to get worse.
I continued to work at my book feverishly, determined to finish my
task; but at the end of ten days in bed, the kindly people of the
house called in a doctor, who looked very grave and advised me to go
to Davos Platz, and when pressed told me that I was in a consumption,
and that both lungs were affected. The truth was, I suppose, that my
frame was too weak to resist any attack, and I looked forward to the
end with a sigh of content; one gets so weary of this hard, all-hating
world! I redoubled my efforts to finish the book. As soon as I had had
two fair copies made of it, and had sent one off to Ida and one to
Elsie, I felt considerably better; only this short, last chapter
remained to be done. Somehow or other I thought that if I could get
back to the air of my native Alps again I should get quite well, so I
came back to Munich and then here to Reichholz, close to the homeland,
for a visit; it will be a long one. Before I began to write this
chapter yesterday I wrote long letters to Ida and Elsie, taking an
eternal farewell. I think, I hope, I shall get a reply from Elsie; and
if I do, I will add it to this last chapter, and the whole book shall
be sent off to her after my death to do with as she and Ida may
direct.And now, what is the end of the whole matter? I went out into
the world and fought and laboured in it, and have come back to my
birthplace. A journeying and fighting—a sweet kiss or two and the
clasp of a friend's hand—that's what life has meant for me. One
starts out with a certain capital of energy, and whether one spreads
it over threescore years, or exhausts it in three, matters nothing.
The question is what one has done and achieved, and not whether one
suffered or enjoyed, much less how long it took one to do the work.
There is something in our case, I feel sure, to the credit side. As
Lingg said, the bomb thrown in the Haymarket put an end to the
bludgeoning and pistoling of unarmed men and women by the police; it
helped, too, to win the Children's Charter, and to establish 'Labour
Day" as a popular festival. The effect of Lingg's desperate
self-murder was prodigious. Chicago took his teaching to heart; such a
death has its own dignity and its own virtue. In some dim way the
people in Chicago came to recognize that Lingg and Parsons were
extraordinary men, and all confessed in their hearts that there must
be something very wrong in a social state which had driven such men to
One fact exemplifies the change of feeling.Near the spot where the
policemen fell in the Haymarket, a monument was erected in memory of
them with a statue of a policeman on top. But after a very short time
it was removed on some convenient pretext to be erected again, miles
from the scene of the unhappy event, in a wooded park, where no one
sees it or knows what it commemorates. Somehow or other it was
generally understood that the police were not the heroes of the
In the same way, I remember, after Marat was killed in the French
Revolution, he was given a gorgeous state funeral; his body was
interred with all ceremony in the Pantheon; men and women went mad
over him, wore Marat hats and Marat ties and Marat coats to do him
honour; but in a year it was found that Charlotte Corday was justified,
that she was a great woman and not an assassin; and so before the
months had run full circle, Marat's body was taken out of the
Pantheon, his coffin broken open, and his dust scattered to the winds.
Justice has its revenges.
The outcome and the result in our case is perhaps uncertain. Was
the work well done? Is revolt best, or submission? I'm afraid the more
I seem to have paid in pain and misery for what I did, the more
certain I feel that we were right.
One thing is past doubt. Louis Lingg was a great man, and a born
leader of men, who with happier chances might have been a great
reformer, or a great statesman. When they talk of him as a murderer,
it fills me with pity for them, for in Lingg, too, was the blood of
the martyrs: he had the martyr's pity for men, the martyr's sympathy
with suffering and destitution, the martyr's burning contempt for
greed and meanness, the martyr's hope in the future, the martyr's
belief in the ultimate perfectibility of men.
What have I to say more? Nothing. He that has ears will hear, and
the others do not matter. Nearing the end I begin to see that the
opinion of one's fellows is not worth much, and another saying of
Lingg's comes to help me here. "The law of gravitation," he said, "is
the law of the ought; it would be easy to put oneself in perfect
relation to the centre of gravity of this world; would be easy and
safe and pleasant. But, strange to say, the centre of gravity, even of
our globe itself, is always changing, moving towards some unseen goal.
Stars beyond our ken draw us and change our destinies. And so Mr.
Worldly Wise comes to grief. Our only chance of being right is to
trust the heart, and act on what we feel."
One word about myself. Here at the endI am fairly content. I have
not had much happiness in life, except with Elsie; but through knowing
Elsie and Lingg, I came to a fuller, richer life than I should ever
have reached by myself, and whoever has climbed the heights is not
likely to complain of the cost. I am only sorry for Elsie and Ida; I
wish, I wish—but after all, even the roughest men do not trample on
I cannot believe that in this world any unselfish deed is lost, that
any aspiration or even hope dies away without effect. In my own short
life I have seen the seed sown and the fruit gathered, and that is
enough for me. We shall no doubt be despised and reviled by men, at
least for a time, because we shall be judged by the rich and the
powerful, and not by the destitute and the dispossessed for whom we
gave our lives.