« EelmineJätka »
and the mothers of their children, and deference for the sex, and sexual purity, and all the beautiful and refining influences of that the purest and holiest of all our intercourse on earth, and gravitate powerfully toward the realization of those loves, in proportion as they become, through all elevating influences, more perfect men, but that those virtues again have to be made, injected, and preserved in human beings by legislation, which, strangely enough, is merely the collective action of the same beings who, taken individually, are assumed to be destitute of those same qualities. So opposite is the truth that it is the love of these very virtues which cheats and constrains men to endure the organizations and systems under which they groan, because they have been taught that those systems are the only condition of retaining the virtues. It is the discovery of this sham which, I have said, marks the development of mind. The cheat, thus exposed, is to be taken in connection with another. It is assumed that just those forms of action which these artificial organizations or patent manufactories of virtue prescribe are the sole true forms of action, that their product is the genuine article, and that every other product is vice. Hence the attention of mankind is turned wholly away from the study of nature, and the human mind gradually trained to the acceptance of authority and tradition without question or dissent.
In this manner, piety is made to signify zeal for the Church or a sect, patriotism loyalty to a sovereign, and purity fidelity to the marriage bond. In the same manner, irreligion is identified with heresy, treason with the rights of the people, and debauchery with the freedom of the affections. It suits the bigot, the despot, and the male or female prude to foster this confusion of things dissimilar, and to denounce the champions of freedom as licentious and wicked men, — the enemies of mankind.
In the case supposed, the Catholic denounces the Protestant as guilty of impiety, and so, in this case, Mr. Greeley denounces me, as favoring impiety and adultery. It is clear, as I have said, that whether I do so or not depends upon the definitions of the terms. If by adultery is meant a breach of a legal bond, binding a man and woman between whom there are repugnance and disgust instead of attraction and love, to live together in the marital embrace, then there may be some grounds for the charge; but if, as I choose to define it, adultery means a sexual union, induced by any other motive, however amiable or justifiable in itself, than that mutual love which by nature prompts the amative conjunction of the sexes, materially and spiritually, then do I oppose and inveigh against, and then does Mr. Greeley defend and uphold, adultery. As to purity, I have no idea whatever that Mr. Greeley knows, owing to the perverting influence of authority or legislation, what purity is. Nor does he know what impurity is, for, since all things must be known by contrasts, no man whose conceptions upon this subject do not transcend the limits of legality can know it, nor loathe it, as those do who, having conceived of or experienced a genu ine freedom, come to distinguish a pru
rient fancy from a genuine affection, and learn to make the highest and most perfect affinities of their nature the law of their being.
But, however pernicious my views may be held to be, the fact of their being so is no reason, according to Mr. Greeley, why they should not be given to the world. At least, although he now urges it as a reason, it is only a few weeks since he stoutly defended the opposite position; and if there be any settled principle or policy to which he has professed and attempted to adhere, it has been, more than any other, that all sorts of opinions, good, bad, and "detestable" even, should have a chance to be uttered, and so confirmed or refuted. It has been his favorite doctrine, apparently, that "Error need not be feared while the Truth is left free to combat it." Very recently, in stating the policy of the "Tribune" he gave the noblest estimate ever promulgated of the true function of the newspaper,—namely, "To let every body know what every body else is thinking." To a writer, calling himself "Young America," who objected to the "Tribune" reporting the arguments of Catholics, Mr. Greeley replied, in substance, that he should just as readily report the doings and arguments and opinions of a convention of atheists, as he should do the same service for his own co-religionists. In this very discussion he says: "We are inflexibly opposed, therefore, to any extension of the privileges of divorce now accorded by our laws, but we are not opposed to the discussion of the subject; on the contrary, we deem such discussion as already too long neglected." Of Mr. James he says: "We totally differ from him on some quite fundamental questions, but that is no reason for suppressing what he has to say." In his reply to me, published herein, he repudiates the right to suppress what I have to say, while he avers that he would aid to suppress me if I attempted to act on my own opinions. Finally, in various ways and upon various occasions, the columns of the "Tribune" were formally thrown open for the full discussion of this subject of marriage and divorce, as well for those views of the subject which the editor deems pernicious as for the other side. The editor of the "Observer" reproached him for so doing, and he defended the course as the only truth-seeking and honorable procedure. He wished especially to drag to the light, in their full extension and strength, those "eminently detestable" doctrines of one phase of which he seems to regard me as a representative, in order that they might forever after have got their quietus from a blow of the sledge-hammer of his logic. If, now, the valiant editor proves shaky in his adherence to this truly sublime position, — of justice and a fair hearing to all parties, — shall we, in kindness to him, find the solution in the supposition that he was dishonest in assuming it, or give him the benefit of the milder hypothesis,—that he found himself rather farther at sea than he is accustomed to navigate, and betook himself again in alarm to the coast voyage?
I shall leave it to the public to decide, finally, what was the real cause of my getting myself turned out of court before I had fairly stated, much less argued, my
defence. I shall not, in the meantime, however, hesitate to say what I think of the matter myself. I have not the slightest idea that any one of the reasons assigned influenced the decision a straw's weight. The sole cause of my extrusion was that Mr. Greeley found himself completely "headed" and hemmed in in the argument, with the astuteness clearly to perceive that fact, while he had neither the dialectical skill to obscure the issues and disguise it, nor the magnanimity frankly to acknowledge a defeat. Hence, there was no alternative but to apply "the gag" and "suppress" me by the exercise of that power which the present organization of the press, and his position in connection with it, lodges in his hands. Had fortune made him the emperor of Austria, and me a subject, he would have done the same thing in a slightly different manner, in strict accordance with his character and the principles he has avowed in this discussion. Such men mistake themselves when they suppose that they have any genuine affection for freedom. They laud it only so far as prejudice or education incline them to favor this or that instance of its operation. They refer their defence of it to no principle. No security has yet been achieved for the continuance of the enjoyment of such freedom and such rights as we now enjoy; no safeguard even against a final return to despotism, and thence to barbarism, until the Principle upon which the right to freedom rests, and the scope of that principle, are discovered, nor until a public sentiment exists, based upon that knowledge. Americans, no more than barbarians, have as yet attained to the fulness of that wisdom, and as little as any does Mr. Greeley know of any such guide through the maze of problems which environ him, and perhaps less than most is he capable of following it.
Circumstances the fact that he is a prominent editor, that he has strenuously advocated certain reformatory measures, and that he has the reputation of great benevolence-have given to Mr. Greeley somewhat the position of a leader of the reform movement in America. The lovers of progress look to him in that capacity. The publicity and the immense importance of such a position will justify me, I think, in giving my estimate of the man, and of his fitness for the work he is expected to perform, in the same manner as we investigate the character of a politician, or as Mr. Greeley himself would analyze for us the pretensions of Louis Napoleon or the Duke of Wellington. Similar considerations will authorize me in mingling with the portraiture of Mr. Greeley a few shadowy outlines of Mr. James, contrasting them à la Plutarch in his "Lives of the Great Men."
In the first place, then, Horace Greeley is not a philosopher, -the farthest from it in the world. No greater misnomer could seriously be applied to him. He is a man of statistics and facts, but not of principles. He sees broadly over the surface, but never down into the centre of things. As a phrenologist would say, the perceptive preponderate over the reasoning faculties. He has no grasp of the whole of anything as a system, but only of detached portions or fragments. Hence, instead of principles, he has whims, and acts from them as if they were
principles. He does not see clearly the relation of cause and effect. He has no logical, or, what is the same thing, no mathematical mind. He is one of the class of men who will admit candidly that A is equal to B, and that B is equal to C, and then cavil over or deny point blank that A is equal to C. Hence, he earns the reputation of inconsistency, and a large portion of the public believe him dishonest. This last is, I think, a mistake. Mr. Greeley is a bigot, and bigotry is generally honest. His tergiversation is organic, not intentional. His incapacity for system is shown in the fact that, although he has been regarded as the grand embodiment of Fourierism in this country, he never accepted and never gave any intimation that he even understood the fundamental principle of Fourier's whole social theory.
Fourier (who was really about the most remarkable genius who has yet lived) claims as his grand discovery that Attraction, which Newton discovered to be the law and the regulator of the motions of material bodies, is equally the law and the God-intended regulator of the whole affectional and social sphere in human affairs; in other words, that Newton's discovery was partial, while his is integral, and lays the basis of a science of analogy between the material and the spiritual world, so that reasoning may be carried on with safety from one to the other.
This principle, announced by Fourier as the starting point of all science, has been accepted by Mr. Greeley in a single one of its applications,—namely, the organization of labor, and wholly rejected by him in its universality, as applicable to the human passions and elsewhere. The farthest he seems ever to have seen into the magnificent speculations of Fourier is to the economy to be gained by labor done upon the large scale, and the possibility of the retention of profits by the laborers themselves by means of association. It is as if a man should gain the reputation of a leader in the promulgation of the Copernico-Newtonian system of astronomy by publishing his conviction that the moon is retained in her orbit by gravitation toward the earth, while denying wholly that the earth is round, or that the sun is the centre of the system, or that attraction can be supposed to operate at such an immense distance as that body and the planets. In the same manner, Mr. Greeley can understand the sovereignty of the individual in one aspect, as the assertion of one's own rights, but not at all in the other,—namely, as the concession of the rights of all others, and through its limitation, "to be exercised at one's own cost," the exact demarcator between what one may and what he may not do. He is a man of great power, and strikes hard blows when he fairly gets a chance to strike at all, but with his prevailing inconsistency he reminds one of a blind giant hitting out at random in a fray.
Mr. Greeley has never been able to see anything in the "Cost Principle" except the fact that it abolishes interest on money, and hence he begins at once by opposing it. He has worked hard for his money, and it seems to him a very natural, convenient, and proper thing that that money, so earned, should go on earning more
for him while he sleeps. This one consideration settles, with him, the whole question. He does not comprehend in this sublime and simple principle a universal law of equity, which distributes wealth exactly according to Right; reduces all products to the minimum price, thereby immensely augmenting consumption; removes all obstacles to the adjustment of supply and demand; brings all human labor into steady demand; exchanges it for exact equivalents; organizes industry; places every human being in his or her appropriate work or function; substitutes universal coöperation in the place of universal antagonism; renders practicable the economies of the large scale, and the division of labor in every department; houses the whole people in palaces, surrounds them with luxury and refinement, and hundred-folds the wealth of the world. Such manifold and magnificent results from a simple change in the method of conducting ordinary trade transcend the capacity of Mr. Greeley and the philosophers of the "Tribune"; while there are now boys, and girls too, not twelve years of age, who can scientifically demonstrate these results as legitimate and certain, and can, by the aid of this key, solve with facility all the problems of political economy with a clearness, comprehensiveness, and precision never dreamed of by Say, Adam Smith, or Ricardo.
Mr. Greeley is, undoubtedly, a man of benevolence. He is profusely, perhaps even foolishly, lavish, as he begins, doubtless, himself to think, in his expenditures for the relief of suffering, and for random experiments, without system, or coherent design, for the improvement of the condition of mankind. He is benevolent, too, chiefly in the lower and material range of human affairs. His thought rises no higher, apparently, than supplying men with food for the body, raiment, and shelter. At most he aspires after so much education as will enable them "to cipher" and make profit. He has no experience of, no sympathy with, and no ability to conceive that immense hunger of the soul which craves, and will have, despite all the conventionalities of the universe, the gratification of spiritual affinities, the congenial atmosphere of loving hearts. The explosive power of a grand passion is all Greek to him. So of all the delicate and more attenuated sentiment which forms the exquisite aroma of human society. He understands best, and appreciates most, the coarse, material realities of life. Purely mental exercitation is repugnant to him. In this latter characteristic Mr. Greeley is the exact antipodes of Mr. James. This latter gentleman tends powerfully toward metaphysical subtleties and spiritual entities, until he is completely lifted off the solid earth, and loses all knowledge of practical things. The latter is of the class of purely ideal reformers, men who will lounge at their ease upon damask sofas and dream of a harmonic and beautiful world to be created hereafter, while they would be probably the very last to whom the earnest worker, in any branch of human concerns, could resort for aid with any prospect of success. He hates actual reform and reformers, and regards benevolence as a disease.
With the points of difference above indicated, the two men we are now compar