HAVE you ever seen a real live
anarchist? Just to be honest, you never wanted to see one. Is
it because the B follows the A in the alphabet or because of a
close association of ideas for which you are not responsible,
you think immediately of bombs? Bombs and anarchists are
inseparable in the minds of most of us. Mysterious destroyers
of life and of property, merciless men who have pledged their
lives or their knives or their guns to some nefarious cause or
another, who assemble in cellars lighted with candles or in
road-houses which seem uninhabited and in reality are dynamite
storehouses and bomb factories — aren't these the anarchists
of your imagination? Aren't these the men of whom you think if
you read that a king or a prince has been killed by an
anarchist or that anarchists plan to blow up the Cathedral on
An anarchist, to you means a
criminal and being an anarchist is his crime. Is it possible
today to explain Christianity to one who knows the term alone
but not its meaning? And just as many denominations,
constitute the Christendom of the world, just as many kinds of
anarchists are existing. It is not absolutely necessary to go
out and kill Jews to earn the title, Christian. Millions of us
would not even think it possible that Jews were and are being
killed in the name of Christianity. And millions of anarchists
today will deny stoutly and firmly that the real anarchists
would manufacture a bomb, destroy other people's property or
murder a fellow being.
Millions of anarchists? Of
course. There are millions among us. Some say they are
anarchists and usually are not, and others would be shocked to
be called such, yet they really are. It is just like with
Christianity, and the same country that shocked Christian
civilization with outrages in the name of Christianity put a
bloody meaning in the spelling of anarchism. To judge a creed
by extreme actions of fanatics cannot lead to an
understanding. The religious maniac who is seized by temporary
insanity and murders his wife and his children is a mere
incident of everyday life and does not cast reflections upon
the religious belief which is more or less responsible for his
delusion. To take the essence of a religion or a political
creed or of anarchism and to compare it with the lives men
actually live, with their actions and the results of their
actions is a scientific and human way in which to pass
Some of the biggest men in
our public life are anarchists by their actions and they would
protest vigorously against being called anarchists. Others
confess they are anarchists and nobody would believe them. The
men and women whom we are accustomed to call anarchists who
are proclaimed as the apostles of anarchism and are supposed
to be dangerous individuals recommended to the special care of
the police surveillance, are in reality harmless creatures
living a conventional life — professional preachers of
anarchy, evangelists like Billy Sunday who are passing the
plate. They might be sincere, but they surely get their share
out of it.
Romance is more essential to
everyday life than most of us imagine. Anarchism has all the
qualities of romance a twentieth century man or woman could
possibly look for. The moving picture screen is their source
of information. Here they see the Russian anarchist who
sacrifices his life for the sake of the cause. Meetings in
cellars, exquisitely dressed society women, girls in rags,
aristocrats, drunkards, statesmen, rich and poor,
well-educated and know-nothings, all are sitting around the
same table, all take the same oath, all social differences
seem erased, the motto is all for one and one for all. This
romance is so colossal as to be beyond the ken of ordinary
mortals. Not the overthrow of the government, not the planning
of a murder, interest the hundreds of onlookers; but this
comradeship among people who under ordinary circumstances
hardly ever would meet spurns the craving for comradeship and
equalization of all.
Jack London, who declares
himself as a revolutionist says "It is comradeship that all
these masses want. They call themselves comrades. Nor is the
word empty and meaningless — coined of mere lip service. It
knits men together who stand shoulder to shoulder under the
red banner of revolt. This red banner, by the way, symbolizes
the brotherhood of man, and does not symbolize the
incendiarism that instantly connects itself with the red
It is this craving for
companionship, for relations free of the masks and limitations
necessitated by our society that brings men and women together
under the banner of anarchism, at least what they call
anarchism in New York. And that longing for adventure and
romance plays a big part in these circles is evident in the
fact that since the start of the European struggles certain
elements, regular habituees of anarchistic circles found a new
field in their activities broad in different capacities, or
here, working for the benefit and the propaganda of universal
peace and immediate help for the sufferers in the war zone.
Emma Goldman has a national
reputation. She is a professional anarchist. She is doing it
year in and year out, like an actress playing the big circuit.
Did you ever meet Emma Goldman, did you ever see her? You
could never believe all the things you have read of her. Her
home life is very similar to that of any other woman who is
lecturing and writing. I saw her sometime ago as hostess to
many thousands of her followers and admirers. It was at the
anarchist's ball, Red Revel, they called it. It was red all
right, but not the red that stands for dynamite and shooting
and murder. It was the red Jack London speaks of, the red of
comradeship. They danced and laughed and were happy and if
anyone would want to call a gathering of young men and women
like that dangerous, it wouldn't be safe to attend an opera
performance or to enter a subway train. But London claims
there are ten million anarchists in the United States. That
would make one to each ten persons we meet.
The anarchists in New York
drink mostly tea. They are men and women like you and me. They
work for their living. Of course they would rather prefer not
to work but so would every one of us. Anarchism is in eighty
out of a hundred cases, the only luxury of their lives. There
are certain places in our metropolis which are known to the
elect as anarchist meeting places. But mighty little anarchism
do they talk about. They usually plan something. Something
that any other club or any other society could plan also — an
outing, a picnic, or a dance. They attend lectures and
musicals and spend their time as a whole, just as uselessly as
most of us do after working hours.
Old Greenwich Village is the
home par excellence of anarchism. On Bleeker Street still
stands the building where the Chat Noir used to open its doors
every evening about seven o'clock and shelter revolutionists
of all nations. Here is was that the man who subsequently
killed King Humbert of Italy, predicted in the presence of
many his deed. But nobody took his utterances seriously,
because he was known as a fanatic whose fanaticism bordered on
mania. The Chat Noir closed her doors long ago. "Mazzini's" is
today in the same building. "Anarchists" assemble there every
night and have dinner, anarchists from lower Fifth Avenue who
arrive in their limousines, have a footman to open the door of
their car. They talk anarchism. Here are bits of the table
conversation: An elderly lady in black silk evening dress,
deep decoltee, diamonds in her ears, around her neck and on
six fingers, to a gentleman in evening dress. He is immaculate
like his shirt front: "I went to Emma's lecture last night.
Isn't she a dear? She spoke about those darling children of
the Colorado miners and she really made me cry. I'm so
sentimental. I remember the time the pastor spoke about the
poor Chinese and how they haven't even rice for their little
children. It affected me so I could not attend Mrs. K.'s
reception and she hasn't forgiven me yet." At another table. Two men, the one looks rather
prosperous; the other fellow looks like an artist. "I say," he
says, "this fellow Berkman makes me sick. Imagine a man being
fourteen years in prison and living the balance of his life in
telling his fellowmen of his experiences in prison." A fat
Italian plays on the harpsichord. Everybody eats roast chicken
and drinks red ink and enjoys being in an anarchistic place.
In a basement nearby is an
Italian place. Rough-looking individuals sit around small
wooden tables. It would amuse you to understand the
conversation of these "anarchists" about the last letter they
received from home and when the long expected Anita is coming
over to become Antonio's wife.
In the houses of Mystery on
Washington Square are bushels of anarchists living. They write
anarchism and they draw and they paint anarchism and
eventually it appears in print. You can see it on the
newsstands or on the book shelves in the bookstores.
Let us cross Fourteenth
Street and enter that mysterious house on Fifteenth, between
Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It looks like a monastery and was
one, about sixty years ago. It was later a gambling house, a
house of ill fame, and its rooms are utilized at present as
studies. It is property of the Van Buren estate, and the
renting agent doesn't bother to send collectors if his tenants
do not pay promptly. He knows that if they do not appear
themselves, little good will it do to send collectors. Let us
walk past the beautifully carved wooden doors of the ancient
monk cells and enter Hippolyte Havel's abode, right under the
roof. Hippolyte Havel is the anarchist of New York. He looks
the part. He was one of the lieutenants of Emma Goldman in the
beginning of her career, he was delegate to numerous
international anarchistic congresses in Europe and in America.
He knows everybody in the "movement" and everybody knows him.
What does he think about anarchists and anarchism in New York?
"To be an anarchist means to
be an individualist. To be an individualist means to walk your
own way, do the thing you want to do in this life — do it as
well as you can. You must never impose on your fellowmen; you
must never be in their way; you must help everybody as well as
you can; the good you derive through your life belongs, in the
first place, to you but you have to share it with the world if
the world can benefit by it.
"About throwing bombs and
killing other people? No true anarchist could destroy
something that is existing. It would mean to deny his own
existence, if he should not grant the right of existence to
everybody and everything created."
How does that sound for the
leader of the anarchists in our city?
To know anarchy, to really
know it as it is, takes away its chief attraction; the romance
of a melodrama. Guido Bruno Suicide By Leo
The question whether a human
being has the right to kill himself is put incorrectly. To
question his right to do it is out of the question. If he can
do it he also has the right to do it. I think that the
feasibility to kill himself is merely a safety-device. And
regarding this feasibility, no human has the right to say that
life is unbearable to him. If life is unbearable, one kills
oneself, and therefore, no one really has reason to complain
about insufferable life.
To every human the chance is
given to kill himself and therefore he can choose to avail
himself of it. And in fact, he is making use of this
prerogative of his continually, killing himself in wars, with
liquors, with tobacco, with opium and with vices.
No, it is unreasonable. Just
as unreasonable as to cut off the sprigs of a plant in order
to destroy it. The plant will not die but just grows
irregularly. Life is indestructible — it is outside of time
and space and therefore death can only change the form of
life; can only destroy its practical proof in this world.
But if I destroy the
practical proof of life in this world. I do not know if it
will be more pleasant for me in another one, and thus I
deprive myself of the possibility to experience all that life
had still in store for me in this world and to annex it for my
But especially unreasonable
is suicide because I demonstrate in taking my life that I
really did not know my true mission on earth: I evidently am
laboring under the delusion that life must mean pleasure to
me, but in reality I am placed in this valley of tears and of
joys to achieve my self-perfection, and supremely to serve
that Cause in whose employ the life of the whole world is.
And hence suicide is immoral.
Man receives life and opportunity to live until his natural
death, only on the condition that he serves the life of the
world. But after using it as he pleases, he refuses to put it
at the disposal of the service of the world, at the same
second his own personal existence displeases him. And it is
quite probable that he was called upon to render this service
when he started to dislike life. In the beginning every work
In the hermitage Optina for
thirty years lay suffering upon his bed a paralyzed monk and
was able to use only his left hand. The physician said that he
was suffering intensely, but he never complained about his
condition. He smiled and crossed himself and looked with
pleasure at the holy pictures on the walls and expressed with
all means his pleasure to live and his gratitude to God for
that spark of life that still was glowing in his poor
suffering body. Thousands and thousands of pilgrims visited
him and it would be hard to describe all the good this poor
cripple did; all the good this man created for the world of
whose pleasure he had been deprived.
Surely this man was a greater
benefactor to mankind than thousands of healthy people who
believed themselves benefactors to humanity.
As long as there is life in
man he can work towards his perfection and he can serve the
world; but he can serve the world only if he is earnestly
working towards his perfection, and towards the perfection of
the world. Translated by Guido Bruno To My Dear Friend Thomas
IT is night. The wind howls and
rattles at my door. The lock creaks and the wood squeaks. The
wind wants to wheeze into my ears; "You have betrayed your
friend and you have cheated his betrothed."
And the moon is searching for
me with its ghost-like light and I draw the shade. I know what
it wants: "I just saw your old mother crying on her pillows,
crying away her sorrows and her griefs."
And I closed the shutters;
soon the sun will come with its clear impertinent rays: "You
have stolen from your father hope and honor and he died, and I
saw him cursing you on his deathbed."
There is the whiskey bottle
at a little table next to my bed laughing at me, temptingly,
invitingly, "Come, drink, drink oblivion." and I give it a
kick and smash it into a thousand pieces. I don't want to
And the looking-glass seems
to look at me pityingly: "I always showed you the truth, but
you didn't want to see." I turn it to the wall. I don't want
Hard over there, on the
bureau, the gun gleams at me: "Come. I do understand you, I do
love you, I do pity you and I will redeem you."
Tears streamed down my cheeks
and I did not shoot myself. Guido Bruno January 28, 1908, 3 a.m. Flasks and
Flagons By Francis S. Saltus
How swiftly thou
canst dissipate all care
Circe of liquors, when thou dost steal
fancies from us, and with all subtle zeal
life more rosy-tinct and debonair.
There's merry madness hidden in the air.
as the refrain of a Vaudeville,
the sweet sorcery, thou canst ne'er conceal,
us to gentle laughter everywhere.
very name makes resurrect to me
shadowy past of bygone student days;
guignols aye, the gay cafes, and lo,
blooming fires of youth that used to be,
kisses stolen in delicious ways,
Beneath the ancestral oaks of Fountainbleu!
The mysteries of
the Schwarzwald in thee dwell!
must be made in hidden fairies' homes,
in dim glades, where, in the midnight roams
sable huntsman on his ride to hell!
drops must aid red witches to foretell
awful secrets in unholy tomes,
in the haunted dusk, the limping gnomes,
Meeting near somber firs, must know thee well.
me, thou art associate ever more
beldames' legends of the weird, blue Rhine
white and wanton nixes bathe themselves.
thee luring travelers to the shore,
in the gloomy forest near them shine
lurid eyes of hell-obeying elves! Replated Platitudes
It is marvelous how much a
man may know and not know enough to know what to do with even
a little of all he knows.
He who finds pleasures in
giving pleasures to those who know no pleasures need never
know need of pleasures that know no sting.
Some think it is sowing wild
oats that raises tame men; but it is very sure that raising
tame oats sows wealth among even the wildest men who try it
A frivolous fool and her
daring dances are not Solomonic incentive to morality. Julius Doerner Passing Paris
The most noteworthy occurrence
independent of war-events since these began has been the
donation to the country by M. Rodin of his life-work. Without
anticipated publicity or any kind the news was announced when
the contract between the Government and the donor had been
duly signed. The arrangement was made in the business-like,
straight-forward way of all his sculpture to the State on
condition it be displayed in the circumstances and order he
has chosen. He undertakes the expense of its presentation at
his own cost, the State providing the housing in the
eighteenth century mansion in the Rue de Varenne M. Rodin has
been occupying these last few years. M. Rodin stipulates,
moreover, that he be allowed to continue living there until
his death, and that the museum he leaves, comprising also his
drawings and collections, bears his name.
M. Rodin, who had of late
years added prose to his plastic and graphic expressions, has
only raised his voice, or pen rather, on one occasion in
comment on the war. He seems to have realized, unlike others,
that the time is not for preaching. The few words he has said
were to the point, as is everything he says or does. In Rodin
are united the qualities of the French peasant and of the
master-man. He has the sagacity and shrewdness of the one, the
critical gifts of the other. He is sparing of speech like a
peasant, lucid like a poet; tenacious and wary like the
former, intuitive, tactful, feminine, like the latter. He has
a sense, too, of timeliness as his last deed shows, for it is,
in its way, a patriotic deed. He was himself timely in his
appearance in the artistic cycle; some come too soon, others
too late; some fall completely outside of their natural
environment. They are out of tune with their contemporaries.
Rodin suffered from none of these errors of selection. Some
are great artists, but not great, or even good, influences.
Rodin's influence has been as vast as his genius. It was
necessary, it was welcome, it has borne fruit. And there is no
waste in his life. Effort has been proportioned to result,
result to effort. He has, as far as can be judged, always
given, or been able to give, form to his intentions; he has
not aimed beyond or on one side of his possibilities of
realization. His qualities have not been strained to the point
of becoming faults. His idealism, for instance, has never
developed into ideology.
Rodin is still the greatest
of living artists, not only because he is the greatest artist,
but because, simply, he is a world-wide influence. He is in
himself a monument of the best in his time and race. Muriel Cielcovska Excerpt from a letter to The Egoist. May 1, 1916 The Arch From The Garret
Love and Romance
perhaps has there been an age of romanticism and of
self-sacrifice such as ours. And if you doubt it, compare our
daily newspapers with the histories and chronicles of yore.
Here and there a thrilling incident, a great personage, an
extraordinary character, and so singular and so rare that the
writer of those histories could not resist penning it down for
eternity. The love of a Romeo, the perseverance of a Penelope,
the self-sacrifice of a Nathan Hale, the heroism and bravery
of a Joan of Arc, are framed in history, being put down as
almost abnormal exceptions, proving to the reader and
philosopher that this world of old must have been an
extinguished crater, and these incidents the sparks that
kindle a new feeling among contemporaries.
And then look at our own days, unjustly called realistic and
prosaic: called so by pessimists or men who live upon the
border line of everyday life; who are incredulous and too
prepossessed to read the police reports in our daily papers;
who are shams clothed with the dignity that prevents them
"from stepping down" into the real life of millions of our
fellow men; who take for granted and for truth of our fellow
men; who took for granted and for truth the printed word of
Can you doubt that this our age is one of romance, of supreme
self-sacrifice unheard of, and of love that come nearer to the
love of Christ than the one preached for nineteen centuries in
cathedrals and churches?
Read of the Irish heroes who gave their lives because they
wanted freedom for their fellow men. While you were riding in
elevators and subways and pushing electric buttons they were
being shot or sent to a still worse fate — into the doom of
prison cells — for the same "crimes" we celebrate our
Washingtons and Lafayettes.
Think of the woman who entered the death cell of her doomed
sweetheart two hours preceding his execution, and married him
as proof of her sincere and never changing love. Think of the
one man who plotted and called to his aid a hostile nation;
who gathered together an arsenal of arms and ammunition; who
organized an army ready to strike for his country's freedom.
The work of a Hercules — and he is facing a trial for his
Imagine today, this thirty-first day of May, nineteen hundred
and sixteen, hundreds of women, part of a crowd of spectators
of the Harlem regatta, dressed in all the frolicky and
frivolous finery of our time, chanting old-fashioned hymns;
crying out from the bottom of their hearts: "Help. O Lord, you
are our last refuge," all this on the street while a boy is
drowning after an unsuccessful struggle to master the swirl of
the waves, and while men are throwing off their clothes and
jumping into the flood to save him (as reported in the New
York Times of May 31st.)
Think of the millionaire merchant in Detroit. From a worker he
rose to be this country's foremost manufacturer. He who had
drawn pay for years in his weekly pay envelope is now handing
pay envelopes to thousands of his employees and looking after
their welfare like no other man in this country. He could
justly and rightfully enjoy the fruits of his labor, and he
could dream peacefully through the evening of his life. But
the sorrow of his fellow man is his sorrow. His love for the
world is so great that he must "do something," be it only an
effort to prevent further bloodshed and tears and murder. We
see him equipping the Peace Ship. It is like a gigantic
phantom of the Prince of Peace; like the unhonored messenger
of a great and quickly approaching era; like the herald of a
long expected "Kingdom of Man" upon earth.
We see him ridiculed and jeered at by his contemporaries. We
see him laughed at . . . but he walks his own way; this modern
man of romance and of love who wants peace and happiness for
all before he enjoys his own; which could be his for the
The dreams of the Arabian Nights have come true, charmed to
existence by an Edison. Invention today is the incarnate
romance and the imagination come to life of a bygone age.
Daily do men realize more and more that to live means "to give
and to forgive." That everything belongs to everybody and that
the only way to bring about this idealistic state is to give
to your neighbor what you have and what he needs.
Our age is the age of miracles, but we have not time to see
We read books or listen to preachers or dig ourselves into a
miserable hole beneath the surface of a universe and we call
it our own world; we become skeptics and pessimists and haters
But life weaves its romance continuously.
May one of its myriads of threads entangle you too, one of
these days and make you one of the romanticists of our age.
One of those who have nothing better to give than love and who
do not wish for anything better in return than love.
Nothing but love.
Honored (?) IN a very peculiar way during the
last few days, Washington is being honored in the Square named
in his honor. Alongside of the pillar of the Washington Arch,
facing Fifth Avenue, his full-sized figure is being set up —
gradually, day by day. It seems to take more time than one
would expect and it is a spectacle unworthy of a dignified
patriotic action, exhibited there every day. Is canvas really
so expensive that a tent could not have been procured for this
occasion to be spread over the marble parts of the statue in
order to protect it and the working men from the curious looks
For two long nights the big
trunk and the limbs and the head were lying about the Arch
much visited by the youth of our neighborhood and by dogs,
cats and birds. The head had been covered with wet towels and
gave rise to many ungodly comments of people who cannot
restrain from an attempt to be witty even at the cost of
patriotism and of being blasphemous.
the Life "MONEY-changers corner" in the lobby
of the Judson, where the many torch-bearers of literature and
of art dwell, was in constant excitement and heated
conversation during the past few days. Many pros and cons were
raised but the question is still at large.
Corinne Lowe was the bone of
contention; not she herself, but a few of her stories. And
this is the rumor that had started it all.
Miss Lowe returned recently
from a trip to Washington and soon the glad but strange
tidings circulated that she had sold to the Saturday Evening
Post, five stories, receiving an honorarium of twenty cents
for each word or a thousand dollars for each of her five
Considering that these
stories are "an inside history" of the late private secretary
of Mrs. Hamilton Fish, it seems quite feasible that our
distinguished contemporary of Saturday Evening would be
willing to buy them at any price.
It is reported they are to
appear under the title "This is the Life!"
Be it as it may be, the
defender of high ideals on the Ladies' Home Journal, Mr. Bock,
will lament the loss of such valuable material for the pages
of his journal, which really would have been the right urn for
the social remains of Mrs. Fish's secretary.
But this, it is said, is the
trump card Miss Lowe played and being a question of "give me
my price (twenty cents a word) or the Ladies' Home Journal
will give it to me" won her victory.
COLUMBINE, with eyes of blue,
Do you remember when we were new?
Your painted cheeks were brightly pink,
And your beautiful brows were lined in ink.
Why, children cried for the love of you,
Columbine, with eyes of blue.
Columbine, with golden hair,
I loved you then, but you did not care,
For fate looked on with an angry frown,
And the showman made you wed the clown.
You laughed at me then, in my despair,
Columbine, with golden hair.
Columbine, with staring eyes,
Here in the refuse heap we lie,
Your tinsel dress is a battered wreck,
And your head is broken off at the neck.
But I love you still . . . I don't know why,
Columbine, with staring eye.
The Last Hour By Gustave
Flaubert (Found among his posthumous papers was this
unfinished story written January 30, 1837. Flaubert was then
fifteen years old.)
I HAVE looked at my watch and
calculated how much time there still was left for me to live.
I realize I had hardly one more hour. There is plenty of paper
on my desk; plenty to write down hastily all the reminiscences
of my life, and to summarize the circumstances which have
influenced this foolish and illogical intercogging of days and
of nights; of tears and of laughter; commonly called the
existence of man.
My room is small and its
ceiling is low. My windows are shut tightly. I have carefully
filled the keyhole with bread. The coals are starting to
kindle; death is approaching. I can expect it quietly and
calmly while I am keeping my eyes all the time upon the life
which vanishes and upon the eternity which approaches.
They call that man happy who
has at his disposal an income of 25,000 francs; who is well
built, tall and handsome, who lives amidst his family, who
visits the theatre every evening, and laughs, drinks, sleeps,
eats and digests well. This opinion is old, but therefore not
As far as I was concerned I
had more than 25,000 francs income. My family was kind to me,
I have been in almost all the theatres of Europe; I have
drunk; I have slept. Since my birth I never knew the slightest
indisposition. I have not a glass eye. I am not lame and I am
not hunch-backed - - - and I am so happy that I am taking my
life today at the age of nineteen.
One day — I was as I remember, ten years old — my mother
embraced me weeping and told me to go out and play under the
chestnut trees that bordered the lawn of the castle - - - (Oh!
How they must have grown since those days!) I went, but as my
Leila did not join me there, I feared she was sick and I went
back to the house. Everything was deserted. Big black drapery
was stretched over the portal of the house.
I went up to her room. There I met two women who frequently
had begged at the door of the castle. They had something
lifeless in their arms covered with a white sheet - - - that
They have often asked me since why I was sad.
That was her. My sister! Oh
how long and bitter it was! The two black-coated women laid
the body in my sister's bed. They strewed flowers over it;
sprinkled it with holy water, and later, while the sun was
throwing his last reddish rays, which were lusterless like the
eyes of a corpse, into the room, and after the day had
expired, they lighted two small candles at window panes on a
little table next to the bed. They knelt down and asked me to
pray as they did.
I prayed, oh! so sincerely
and as ardently as I could. But nothing happened - - - Leila
did not move! I knelt there for a long time, my head resting
upon the moist cold sheet of the bed. I cried, but quietly and
without fear. I believed that if I could meditate, if I could
cry, if I could rend my soul with prayer and with vows, there
would be granted to me a look or a motion of this body of
misty form, where was indicated a head, and farther down, the
feet. I, poor believing child, had faith enough to think that
my prayers would bring to life a corpse, so great was my
belief and so great was my harmlessness.
Oh! one cannot express in
words the bitterness and the gloom of a night passed at the
side of a corpse; praying, crying at the corpse which will not
be recalled to life. No one knows what a night full of tears
and sobs contains of dread and terror; a night in the light of
two dead candles, passed in the society of two women with a
monotonous sing-song, with cheap tears and with
grotesquely-resounding hymns! No one knows what such a night
of desperation and mourning indicts upon the heart: what
misery and grief. Upon the youth, skepticism; upon the old
The day approached! But after
the dawn had broken the two candles were dying out, both women
left then and I remained alone. I hurried after them, I
clutched apron and I grasped convulsively their clothes!
"My sister," I asked. "Yes,
my sister Leila! Where is she?" They looked at me in
"My sister! You asked me to
pray and I have prayed that she may return. You have fooled
"But that was for her soul!"
Her soul? What did that mean?
They often had talked to me about God, but never of the soul.
God! That at last I could
understand. If they had told me what it meant, I would have
taken Lelia's canary, I would have crushed its head with my
hands and I would have. "I, too, am God!" But the soul? The
soul? What is that was bold enough to ask them, but they left
me with no answer. Her soul!
Well they have fooled me,
these women. What I now wanted was Lelia, who played with me
on the lawn and in the woods, who used to lay on the grass,
picking flowers, throwing them to the winds. Lelia, my darling
little sister with big blue eyes, Lelia who embraced me every
every day after she had played with her doll, with her little
lamb, with her canary.
Poor sister! For you did I
cry; you I wanted badly. But these barbaric people answered
me: "No, you will never see her again; you did not pray for
her but for her soul! For something unknown, which is
undetermined as is a word or foreign language; for a breath;
for a word, for nothing: short, for her soul have you prayed."
Her soul, her soul. I despise
it; her soul. I pity her; I don't want to think of her any
more. What shall I do with her soul? Do you know what it is,
her soul? Her body it is that I want; her look, her life,
shortly, her! And you, you have given me back nothing of all
These women have fooled me;
well, and I have cursed them.
This curse has fallen back
upon me. Upon the foolish philosopher who cannot comprehend a
word without spelling it; who cannot believe in a soul without
feeling it, and who cannot fear a God whose blows he faces, as
Aschylos caused his Prometheus to do, and whom he loathes so
much that he would not even defame him.
Often I said to myself,
looking up at the sun: "Why do you shine upon every day with
all this sorrow? Why do you put into the light of the broad
day so much of grief and such unspeakably foolish misery?"
Often I said to myself,
observing myself: "Why are you here? Why don't you dry your
tears while you are crying with one well-aimed shot whose
inevitable consequences not even a God could prevent."
Often I said to myself,
looking at all the people who are hastening, hunting after a
name; after a throne; after the ideal of virtue — all things
that are more or less shallow and senseless — looking at this
whirl, this glowing lava, this unclean chaos of joy, vice, of
deeds, of emotions, of matter; and of passion. "Where to, does
all this pass? Upon whom will descend all this badly-odored
dust, as it is carried away by the wind? In the grave of what
nobody will it be incarcerated?"
And still oftener I said to
myself at the sight of the forests of this much-admired
nature; of this wonderful sun-setting every evening and rising
every morning, which shines equally beautiful on a day rich in
tears as on the day of happiness; at the sight of trees, of
the sea and of the skies resplendent with myriads of stars;
how often have I said to myself in bitter despair: "What is
all this here for?"
One thought came to me and
that is the only remorse which ever tortured me; never have I
felt remorse as I thought that men are not good and not had;
not guilty and not innocent; I know that I do not act out of
my free will, but am prompted by a moving force, by a
universal power, by a faith which is stronger than I am! I
shall never mourn about the fooleries committed by my enemy. I
also find I should have lived as I am dying; happily and
quietly, instead of crying and cursing God, I should have
laughed and should have faced Him; I should have killed my
tears in laughter. I should have forgotten reality; instead of
mourning lost love, I should have been one with life.
I should have lived. Translated by Guido Bruno Impressions
of America By Oscar Wilde (Concluded from last issue)
Among the more elderly
inhabitants of the South I found a melancholy tendency to date
every event of importance by the late war. "How beautiful the
moon is tonight," I once remarked to a gentleman who was
standing next to me. "Yes," was his reply, "but you should
have seen it before the war."
So infinitesimal did I find
the knowledge of Art, west of the Rocky Mountains, that an art
patron — one who in his day had been a miner — actually sued
the railroad company for damages because the plaster cast of
Venus of Milo, which he had imported from Paris, had been
delivered minus the arms. And, what is more surprising still,
he gained his case and the damages.
As for slang I did not hear
much of it, though a young lady who had changed her clothes
after an afternoon dance did say that "after the heel kick she
shifted her day goods."
American youths are pale and
precocious, or sallow and supercilious, but American girls are
pretty and charming — little oases of pretty unreasonableness
in a vast desert of practical common-sense.
Every American girl is
entitled to have twelve young men devoted to her. They remain
her slaves and she rules them with charming nonchalance.
The men are entirely given to
business; they have, as they say, their brains in front of
their heads. They are also exceedingly acceptive of new ideas.
Their education is practical. We base the education of
children entirely on books, but we must give a child a mind
before we can instruct the mind. Children have a natural
antipathy to books — handicraft should be the basis of
education. Boys and girls should be taught to use their hands
to make something, and they would be less apt to destroy and
In going to America one
learns that poverty is not a necessary accompaniment to
civilization. There at any rate is a country that has no
trappings, no pageants and no gorgeous ceremonies. I saw only
two processions — one was the Fire Brigade preceded by the
Police, the other was the Police preceded by the Fire Brigade.
Every man when he gets to the
age of twenty-one is allowed a vote, and thereby immediately
acquires his political education. The Americans are the best
politically educated people in the world. It is well worth
one's while to go to a country which can teach us the beauty
of the word FREEDOM and the value of the thing LIBERTY. Bruno's Weekly, published weekly by Charles Edison,
and edited and written by Guido Bruno, both at 58 Washington
Square, New York City. Subscription $2 a year.
Entered as second class matter at the Post Office of New York,
N. Y., Ootober 14tth, 1915. under the Act of March 3d, 1879.