Caesar's Column, by Ignatius Donnelly

Chapter 20.

The Workingmen’s Meeting

I have told you, my dear Heinrich, that I have latterly attended, and even spoken at, a number of meetings of the workingmen of this city. I have just returned from one of the largest I have seen. It was held in a great underground chamber, or series of cellars, connected with each other, under an ancient warehouse. Before I retire to my couch I will give you some description of the meeting, not only because it will enable you to form some idea of the state of feeling among the mechanics and workmen, but because this one, unfortunately, had a tragical ending.

There were guards stationed at the door to give warning of the coming of the police. There were several thousand persons present. It was Saturday night. When we arrived the hall was black with people — a gloomy, silent assemblage. There were no women present; no bright colors — all dark and sad-hued. The men were nearly all workingmen, many of them marked by the grime of their toil. Maximilian whispered to me that the attendance was larger than usual, and he thought it indicated that, by a kind of instinct, the men knew the great day of deliverance was near at hand.

The president of a labor organization had taken the chair before we came in. As I walked up the hall I was greeted with cheers, and invited to the platform. Maximilian accompanied me.

A man in a blouse was speaking. He was discussing the doctrines of Karl Marx and the German socialists of the last century. He was attentively listened to, but his remarks aroused no enthusiasm; they all seemed familiar with the subjects of his discourse.

He was followed by another workman, who spoke upon the advantages of co-operation between the employers and the employed. His remarks were moderate and sensible. He was, however, answered by another workman, who read statistics to show that, after a hundred years of trial, the co-operative system had not extended beyond a narrow circle. “There were too many greedy employers and too many helpless workmen. Competition narrowed the margin of profit and hardened the heart of the master, while it increased the number of the wretchedly poor, who must work at any price that would maintain life.” [Applause.] “The cure must be more radical than that.” [Great applause.]

He was followed by a school teacher, who thought that the true remedy for the evils of society was universal education. “If all men were educated they could better defend their rights. Education meant intelligence, and intelligence meant prosperity. It was the ignorant hordes from Europe who were crowding out the American workingmen and reducing them to pauperism.” [Applause. I

Here a rough-looking man, who, I inferred, was an English miner, said he begged leave to differ from the gentleman who had last spoken. (I noticed that these workingmen, unless very angry, used in their discussions the courteous forms of speech common in all parliamentary bodies.)

“A man who knew how to read and write,” he continued, “did not command any better wages for the work of his hands than the man who could not.” [Applause.] “His increased knowledge tended to make him more miserable.” [Applause.] “Education was so universal that the educated man, without a trade, had to take the most inadequate pittance of compensation, and was not so well off, many times, as the mechanic.” [Applause.] “The prisons and alms-houses were full of educated men; and three-fourths of the criminal class could read and write. Neither was the gentleman right when he spoke of the European immigrants as ‘ignorant hordes.’ The truth was, the proportion of the illiterate was much less in some European despotisms than it was in the American Republic.” [Applause from the foreigners present.] “Neither did it follow that because a man was educated he was intelligent. There was a vast population of the middle class, who had received good educations, but who did not have any opinion upon any subject, except as they derived it from their daily newspapers.” [Applause.] “The rich men owned the newspapers and the newspapers owned their readers; so that, practically, the rich men cast all those hundreds of thousands of votes. If these men had not been able to read and write they would have talked with one another upon public affairs, and have formed some correct ideas; their education simply facilitated their mental subjugation; they were chained to the chariots of the Oligarchy; and they would never know the truth until they woke up some bright morning and found it was the Day of Judgment.” [Sensation and great applause.]

Here I interposed:

“Universal education is right; it is necessary,” I said; “but it is not all-sufficient. Education will not stop corruption or misgovernment. No man is fit to be free unless he possesses a reasonable share of education; but every man who possesses that reasonable share of education is riot fit to be free. A man may be able to read and write and yet be a fool or a knave.” [Laughter and applause.] “What is needed is a society which shall bring to Labor the aid of the same keenness, penetration, foresight, and even cunning, by which wealth has won its triumphs. Intellect should have its rewards, but it should not have everything. But this defense of labor could only spring from the inspiration of God, for the natural instinct of man, in these latter days, seems to be to prey on his fellow. We are sharks that devour the wounded of our own kind.”

I paused, and in the midst of the hall a thin gentleman, dressed in black, with his coat buttoned to his throat, and all the appearance of a clergyman, arose and asked whether a stranger would be permitted to say a few words. He was received in sullen silence, for the clergy are not popular with the proletariat. His manner, however, was quiet and unassuming, and he appeared like an honest man.

The chairman said he had no doubt the audience would be glad to hear his views, and invited him to the platform.

He said, in a weak, thin voice:

“I have listened, brethren, with a great deal of interest and pleasure to the remarks that have been made by the different speakers. There is no doubt the world has fallen into evil conditions; and it is very right that you should thus assemble and consider the causes and the remedy. And, with your kind permission, I will give you my views on the subject.

“Brethren, your calamities are due, in my opinion, to the loss of religion in the world and the lack of virtue among individuals. What is needed for the reformation of mankind is a new interest in the church — a revival of faith. If every man will purify his own heart, all hearts will then be pure; and when the hearts of all are pure, and filled with the divine sentiment of justice and brotherhood, no man will be disposed to treat his neighbor unjustly. But, while this is true, you must remember that, after all, this world is only a place of temporary trial, to prepare us for another and a better world. This existence consists of a few troubled and painful years, at best, but there you will enjoy eternal happiness in the company of the angels of God. We have the assurance of the Holy Scriptures that riches and prosperity here are impediments to happiness hereafter. The beggar Lazarus is shown to us in the midst of everlasting bliss, while the rich man Dives, who had supported him for years, by the crumbs from his table, and was clothed in purple and fine linen, is burning in an eternal hell. Remember that it is ‘less difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven;’ and so, my friends, you may justly rejoice in your poverty and your afflictions, for ‘those whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;’ and the more wretched your careers may be, here on earth, the more assured you are of the delights of an everlasting heaven. And do not listen, my brethren, to the men who tell you that you must hate government and law. ‘The powers that be are ordained of God,’ saith the Scripture; and by patient resignation to the evils of this world you will lay up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where the moth and rust cannot consume, and where thieves do not break in and steal. They tell you that you should improve your condition. But suppose you possessed all the pleasures which this transitory world could give you, of what avail would it be if your earthly happiness made you lose the eternal joys of heaven? ‘What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ Nothing, my brethren, nothing. Be patient, therefore ——”

As the reverend gentleman had proceeded the murmurs and objections of the audience kept increasing, until at last it broke forth in a storm of howls and execrations which completely drowned his voice. The whole audience — I could see their faces from where I sat on the platform — were infuriated. Arms were waving in the air, and the scene was like Bedlam. I requested the clergyman to sit down, and, as soon as he did so, the storm began to subside. A man rose in the midst of the audience and mounted a bench. Loud cries and applause greeted him. I could distinguish the name on a hundred lips, “Kelker! Kelker!” As I ascertained afterwards, he was a professor, of German descent, a man of wide learning, who had lost his position in the university, and in society as well, by his defense of the rights of the people. He now earned a meager living at shoemaking. He was a tall, spare man, with gold eyeglasses (sole relic of his past station), poorly clad; and he had the wild look of a man who had been hunted all his life. He spoke with great vehemence, and in a penetrating voice, that could be heard all over that vast assemblage, which, as soon as he opened his mouth, became as still as death.

“Friends and brothers,” he said; “friends by the ties of common wrongs, brothers in misery, I regret that you did not permit the reverend gentleman to proceed. Ours is a liberality that hears all sides; and, for one, I should have been glad to hear what this advocate of the ancient creeds had to say for them. But since he has taken his seat I shall reply to him.

“He tells us that his religion is the one only thing which will save us; and that it is better for us to be miserable here that we may be happy hereafter. If that is so, heaven must be crowded now-a-days, for the misery of the earth is unlimited and unspeakable; and it is rapidly increasing.” [Laughter and applause.] “But religion has had control of the world for nearly two thousand years, and this is what it has brought us to. It has been, in all ages, the moral police-force of tyrants.” [Great applause.] “It has chloroformed poverty with promises of heaven, while the robbers have plundered the world.” (Continued applause.] “It has kept the people in submission, and has sent uncountable millions through wretched lives to shameful graves. [Great applause.] “With a lot of myths and superstitions, derived from a dark and barbarous past, it has prevented civilization from protecting mankind; and, Nero-like, has fiddled away upon its ridiculous dogmas while the world was burning.” [Great cheers.]

“When have your churches helped man to improve his condition? They are gorgeous palaces, where once a week the women assemble to display their millinery and the men to maintain their business prestige.” [Laughter and applause.] “What great reform have they not opposed? What new discoveries in science have they not resisted?” [Applause.] “Man has only become great when he has escaped out of their clutches.” [Cheers.] “They have preached heaven and helped turn earth into a hell.” [Great cheers.] “They stood by, without a murmur, and beheld mankind brought down to this awful condition; and now, in the midst of our unbearable calamities, they tell us it is well for us to starve; that starvation is the especial gate of heaven; and that Dives deserved hell because he had plenty to eat while on earth.” [Great cheering.] “And why do they do this? Because, if they can get possession of our consciences and persuade us to starve to death patiently, and not resist, they will make it so much the easier for the oppressors to govern us; and the rich, in return, will maintain the churches.” [Sensation.] “They are throttling us in the name of God!” [Tremendous applause.] “Our sons march in endless procession to the prison and the scaffold; our daughters take their places in the long line of the bedizened cortege of the brothel; and every fiber of our poor frames and brains shrieks out its protest against insufficient nourishment; and this man comes to us and talks about his Old–World, worn-out creeds, which began in the brains of half-naked barbarians, and are a jumble of the myths of a hundred ———”

Here the speaker grew wild and hoarse with passion, and the audience, who had been growing more and more excited and turbulent as he proceeded, burst into a tremendous uproar that drowned every other sound. A crowd of the more desperate — dark-faced, savage-looking workingmen — made a rush for the platform to seize the clergyman; and they would soon have had possession of him. But in this extremity I sprang to the front of the platform, between him and the oncoming mob, and by my mere presence, and the respect they have for me as their friend, I stilled the tempest and restored order.

“My dear friends!” I said, “be patient! Are you the men who boast of your toleration? You meet to discuss your sufferings and their remedy; and when one tells you how he would cure you, you rise up to slay him. Be just. This poor man may be mistaken — the body of which he is a member may be mistaken — as to the best way to serve and save mankind; but that his purpose is good, and that he loves you, who can doubt? Look at him! Observe his poor garments; his emaciated figure. What joys of life does he possess? He has given up everything to help you. Into your darkest alleys — into your underground dens — where pestilence and starvation contend for their victims, he goes at high noon and in the depth of the blackest night, and he brings to the parting soul consolation and hope. And why not? Who can doubt that there is another life? Who that knows the immortality of matter, its absolute indestructibility, can believe that mind, intelligence, soul — which must be, at the lowest estimate — if they are not something higher — a form of matter — are to perish into nothingness? If it be true, as we know it is, that the substance of the poor flesh that robes your spirits — nay, of the very garments you wear — shall exist, undiminished by the friction of eternity, æons after our planet is blotted out of space and our sun forgotten, can you believe that this intelligence, whereby I command your souls into thought, and communicate with the unsounded depths of your natures, can be clipped off into annihilation? Nay, out of the very bounty and largess of God I speak unto you; and that in me which speaks, and that in you which listens, are alike part and parcel of the eternal Maker of all things, without whom is nothing made.” [Applause.]

“And so, my friends, every good man who loves you, and would improve your condition, in time or in eternity, is your friend, and to be venerated by you.” [Applause.] “And while we may regret the errors of religion, in the past, or in the present, let us not forget its virtues. Human in its mechanism, it has been human in its infirmities. In the doctrine of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, which are the essential principles of Christianity, lies the redemption of mankind. But some of the churchmen have misconceived Christ, or perverted him to their own base purposes. He who drove the money-changers out of the temple, and denounced the aristocrats of his country as whited sepulchres, and preached a communism of goods, would not view to-day with patience or equanimity the dreadful sufferings of mankind. We have inherited Christianity without Christ; we have the painted shell of a religion, and that which rattles around within it is not the burning soul of the Great Iconoclast, but a cold and shriveled and meaningless tradition. Oh! for the quick-pulsing, warm-beating, mighty human heart of the man of Galilee! Oh! for his uplifted hand, armed with a whip of scorpions, to depopulate the temples of the world, and lash his recreant preachers into devotion to the cause of his poor afflicted children!” [Great applause.]

“There is no Power in the world too great or too sacred to be used by Goodness for the suppression of Evil. Religion — true religion — not forms or ceremonies, but inspired purpose— should take possession of the governments of the world and enforce justice! The purified individual soul we may not underestimate. These are the swept and garnished habitations in which the angels dwell, and look with unpolluted eyes upon the world. But this is not all. To make a few virtuous where the many are vicious is to place goodness at a disadvantage. To teach the people patience and innocence in the midst of craft and cruelty, is to furnish the red-mouthed wolves with woolly, bleating lambs. Hence the grip of the churches on humanity has been steadily lessening during the past two hundred years. Men permanently love only those things that are beneficial to them. The churches must come to the rescue of the people or retire from the field. A babe in the claws of a tiger is not more helpless than a small virtuous minority in the midst of a cruel and bloody world. Virtue we want, but virtue growing out of the bosom of universal justice. While you labor to save one soul, poverty crushes a million into sin. You are plucking brands from a constantly increasing conflagration. The flames continue to advance and devour what you have saved. The religion of the world must be built on universal prosperity, and this is only possible on a foundation of universal justice. If the web of the cloth is knotted in one place it is because the threads have, in an unmeaning tangle, been withdrawn from another part. Human misery is the correlative and equivalent of injustice somewhere else in society.

“What the world needs is a new organization — a great world-wide Brotherhood of Justice. It should be composed of all men who desire to lift up the oppressed and save civilization and society. It should work through governmental instrumentalities. Its altars should be the schools and the ballot-boxes. It should combine the good, who are not yet, I hope, in a minority, against the wicked. It should take one wrong after another, concentrate the battle of the world upon them, and wipe them out of existence. It should be sworn to a perpetual crusade against every evil. It is not enough to heal the wounds caused by the talons of the wild beasts of injustice; it should pursue them to their bone-huddled dens and slay them.” [Great applause.] “It should labor not alone to relieve starvation, but to make starvation impossible; —to kill it in its causes.

“With the widest toleration toward those who address themselves to the future life, even to the neglect of this, the sole dogma of our society should be justice. If there is an elysium in the next world, and not a continuation of the troubled existence through which we are now passing, we will be all the better fitted to enjoy it if we have helped to make this world a heaven. And he who has labored to make earth a hell should enjoy his workmanship in another and more dreadful world, forever and forever.

“And oh, ye churches! Will ye not come up to the help of the people against the mighty? Will ye not help us break the jaws of the spoiler and drag the prey from between his teeth? Think what you could do if all your congregation were massed together to crush the horrid wrongs that abound in society! To save the world you must fight corruption and take possession of government. Turn your thoughts away from Moses and his ragged cohorts, and all the petty beliefs and blunders of the ancient world. Here is a world greater than Moses ever dreamed of. Here is a population infinitely vaster in numbers, more enlightened, more capable of exquisite enjoyment, and exquisite suffering, than all the children of Israel and all the subjects of imperial Rome combined. Come out of the past into the present. God is as much God to-day as he was in the time of the Pharaohs. If God loved man then he loves him now. Surely the cultured denizen of this enlightened century, in the midst of all the splendors of his transcendent civilization, is as worthy of the tender regard of his Creator as the half-fed and ignorant savage of the Arabian desert five thousand years ago. God lives yet, and he lives for us.”

Here I paused. Although the vast audience had listened patiently to my address, and had, occasionally, even applauded some of its utterances, yet it was evident that what I said did not touch their hearts. In fact, a stout man, with a dark, stubbly beard, dressed like a workingman, rose on one of the side benches and said:

“Fellow-toilers, we have listened with great respect to what our friend Gabriel Weltstein has said to us, for we know he would help us if he could — that his heart is with us. And much that he has said is true. But the time has gone by to start such a society as be speaks of. Why, if we formed it, the distresses of the people are so great that our very members would sell us out on election day.” [Applause.] “The community is rotten to the core; and so rotten that it is not conscious that it is rotten.” [Applause.] “There is no sound place to build on. There is no remedy but the utter destruction of the existing order of things.” [Great applause.] “It cannot be worse for us than it is; it may be better.” [Cheers.]

“But,” I cried out, “do you want to destroy civilization??”

“Civilization,” he replied solemnly; “what interest have we in the preservation of civilization? Look around and behold its fruits! Here are probably ten thousand industrious, sober, intelligent workingmen; I doubt if there is one in all this multitude that can honestly say he has had, during the past week, enough to eat.” [Cries of “That’s so.”] “I doubt if there is one here who believes that the present condition of things can give him, or his children, anything better for the future.” [Applause.] “Our masters have educated us to understand that we have no interest in civilization or society. We are its victims, not its members. They depend on repression, on force alone; on cruelty, starvation, to hold us down until we work our lives away. Our lives are all we have; — it may be all we will ever have! They are as dear to us as existence is to the millionaire.

“What is civilization worth which means happiness for a few thousand men and inexpressible misery for hundreds of millions? No, down with it!” [Immense cheering. Men rising and waving their hats.] “If they have set love and justice adrift and depend only on force, why should we not have recourse to force also?” [Cheers and applause, mingled with cries of “Take care!” “Look out!” “Spies!” etc.] “Yes,” continued the speaker, “I mean, of course, the force of argument and reason.” [Great laughter and applause.] “Of course none of us would advocate a violation of the law — that blessed law which it has cost our masters so much hard-earned money to purchase;” [renewed laughter and applause,] “and which restrains us and not them; for under it no injustice is forbidden to them, and no justice is permitted to us, Our labor creates everything; we possess nothing. Yes, we have the scant supply of food necessary to enable us to create more.” [Applause.] “We have ceased to be men — we are machines. Did God die for a machine? Certainly not.

“We are crushed under the world which we maintain, and our groans are drowned in the sounds of music and laughter.” [Great applause.] “We have a hell that is more desperate and devilish than any dreamed of by the parsons — for we have to suffer to maintain the pleasures of heaven, while we have no share in what we ourselves create.” [Laughter and applause.] “Do you suppose that if heaven were blown to pieces hell would be any worse off? At least, the work would stop.” [Great applause, long-continued, with cries of “That’s so!”]

Here a great uproar broke out near the end of the hall. A man had been caught secretly taking notes of the speaker’s remarks. He was evidently a detective. On the instant a hundred men sprang upon him, and he was beaten and trampled under foot, until not only life, but all semblance of humanity, had been crushed out of him; and the wretched remains were dragged out and thrown upon the pavement. It is impossible to describe the uproar and confusion which ensued. In the midst of it a large platoon of police, several hundred strong, with their belts strung with magazine pistols, and great clubs in their hands, broke into the room, and began to deal blows and make arrests right and left, while the crowd fled through all the doors. Maximilian seized me and the poor clergyman, who had been sitting in a dazed and distraught state for some time, and dragged us both up a back stairway and through a rear exit into the street. There we took a carriage, and, after we had left the bewildered clergyman at his residence, Maximilian said to me as we rode home:

“You see, my dear Gabriel, I was right and you were wrong. That workman told the truth. You have arrived on the scene too late. A hundred years ago you might have formed your Brotherhood of Justice and saved society. Now there is but one cure — the Brotherhood of Destruction.”

“Oh, my dear friend,” I replied, “do not say so. Destruction! What is it? The wiping out of the slow accumulations made by man’s intelligence during thousands of years. A world cataclysm. A day of judgment. A day of fire and ashes. A world burned and swept bare of life. All the flowers of art; the beautiful, gossamer-like works of glorious literature; the sweet and lovely creations of the souls of men long since perished, and now the inestimable heritage of humanity; all, all crushed, torn, leveled in the dust. And all that is savage, brutal, cruel, demoniac in man’s nature let loose to ravage the face of the world. Oh! horrible — most horrible! The mere thought works in me like a convulsion; what must the inexpressible reality be? To these poor, suffering, hopeless, degraded toilers; these children of oppression and the dust; these chained slaves, anything that would break open the gates of their prison-house would be welcome, even though it were an earthquake that destroyed the planet. But you and I, my dear friend, are educated to higher thoughts. We know the value of the precious boon of civilization. We know how bare and barren, and wretched and torpid, and utterly debased is soulless barbarism. I see enough to convince me that the ramifications of your society are like a net-work of wires, all over the earth, penetrating everywhere, and at every point touching the most deadly explosives of human passions and hates; and that it needs but the pressure of your finger upon the pedal to blow up the world. The folly of centuries has culminated in the most terrible organization that ever grew out of the wretchedness of mankind. But oh, my friend — you have a broad mind and a benevolent soul — tell me, is there no remedy? Cannot the day of wrath be averted?”

The tears flowed down my face as I spoke, and Maximilian placed his hand gently upon my arm, and said in the kindliest manner:

“My dear Gabriel, I have thought such thoughts as these many times; not with the fervor and vehemence of your more imaginative nature, but because I shrank, at first, from what you call ‘a world-cataclysm.’ But facts are stronger than the opinions of man. There is in every conflagration a time when a few pails of water would extinguish it; then there comes a time when the whole fire-department, with tons of water, can alone save what is left of the property; but sometimes a point is reached where even the boldest firemen are forced to recoil and give up the building to the devouring element. Two hundred years ago a little wise statesmanship might have averted the evils from which the world now suffers. One hundred years ago a gigantic effort, of all the good men of the world, might have saved society. Now the fire pours through every door, and window and crevice; the roof crackles; the walls totter; the heat of hell rages within the edifice; it is doomed; there is no power on earth that can save it; it must go down into ashes. What can you or I do? What will it avail the world if we rush into the flames and perish? No; we witness the working-out of great causes which we did not create. When man permits the establishment of self-generating evil he must submit to the effect. Our ancestors were blind, indifferent, heartless. We live in the culmination of their misdeeds. They have crawled into their graves and drawn the earth over them, and the flowers bloom on their last resting-places, and we are the inheritors of the hurricane which they invoked. Moreover,” he continued, “how can reformation come? You have seen that audience to-night. Do you think they are capable of the delicate task of readjusting the disarranged conditions of the world? That workman was right. In the aggregate they are honest — most honest and honorable; but is there one of them whose cramped mind and starved stomach could resist the temptation of a ten-dollar bill? Think what a ten-dollar bill is to them! It represents all they crave: food, clothes, comfort, joy. It opens the gate of heaven to them; it is paradise, for a few hours at least. Why, they would mortgage their souls, they would trade their Maker, for a hundred dollars! The crime is not theirs, but the shallow creatures who once ruled the world, and permitted them to be brought to this state. And where else can you turn? Is it to the newspapers? They are a thousand times more dishonest than the workingmen. Is it to the halls of legislation? There corruption riots and rots until the stench fills the earth. The only ones who could reform the world are the rich and powerful: but they see nothing to reform. Life is all sunshine for them; civilization is a success for them; they need no better heaven than they enjoy. They have so long held mankind in subjection that they laugh at the idea of the great, dark, writhing masses, rising up to overthrow them. Government is, to them, an exquisitely adjusted piece of mechanism whose object is to keep the few happy and the many miserable.”

“But,” said I, “if an appeal were made to them; if they were assured of the dangers that really threatened them; if their better and kindlier natures were appealed to, do you not think they might undertake the task of remedying the evils endured by the multitude? They cannot all be as abandoned and utterly vicious as Prince Cabano and his Council.”

“No,” he replied; “have you not already made the test? The best of them would probably hang you for your pains. Do you think they would be willing to relinquish one-tenth of their pleasures, or their possessions, to relieve the distresses of their fellows? If you do, you have but a slight conception of the callousness of their hearts. You were right in what you said was the vital principle of Christianity — brotherly love, not alone of the rich for the rich, but of the poor and rich for each other. But that spirit has passed away from the breasts of the upper classes. Science has increased their knowledge one hundred per cent. and their vanity one thousand per cent. The more they know of the material world the less they can perceive the spiritual world around and within it. The acquisition of a few facts about nature has closed their eyes to the existence of a God.”

“Ah,” said I, “that is a dreadful thought! It seems to me that the man who possesses his eyesight must behold a thousand evidences of a Creator denied to a blind man; and in the same way the man who knows most of the material world should see the most conclusive evidences of design and a Designer. The humblest blade of grass preaches an incontrovertible sermon. What force is it that brings it up, green and beautiful, out of the black, dead earth? Who made it succulent and filled it full of the substances that will make flesh and blood and bone for millions of gentle, grazing animals? What a gap would it have been in nature if there had been no such growth, or if, being such, it had been poisonous or inedible? Whose persistent purpose is it — whose everlasting will — that year after year, and age after age, stirs the tender roots to life and growth, for the sustenance of uncounted generations of creatures? Every blade of grass, therefore, points with its tiny finger straight upward to heaven, and proclaims an eternal, a benevolent God. It is to me a dreadful thing that men can penetrate farther and farther into nature with their senses, and leave their reasoning faculties behind them. Instead of mind recognizing mind, dust simply perceives dust. This is the suicide of the soul.”

“Well, to this extremity,” said Maximilian, “the governing classes of the world have progressed. We will go to-morrow — it will be Sunday — and visit one of their churches; and you shall see for yourself to what the blind adoration of wealth and the heartless contempt of humanity have brought the world.”

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37