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13 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. 1 LOTOS CLUB DINNER, TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY. 12 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. 1887 A new party is struggling for recognition -- a party with leaders who are not politicians, with followers who are not seekers after place. Some of those who suffer and some of those who sympathize, have combined. Those who feel that they are oppressed are organized for the purpose of redressing their wrongs. The workers for wages, and the seekers for work have uttered a protest. This party is an instrumentality for the accomplishment of certain things that are very near and very dear to the hearts of many millions. The object to be attained is a fairer division of Profits between employers and employed. There is a feeling that in some way the workers should not want -- that the industrious should not be the indigent. There is a hope that men and women and children are not forever to be the victims of ignorance and want -- that the tenement house is not always to be the home of the poor, or the gutter the nursery of their babes. As yet, the methods for the accomplishment of these aims have not been agreed upon. Many theories have been advanced and none has been adopted. The question is so vast, so complex, touching human interests in so many ways, that no one has yet been great enough to furnish a solution, or, if any one has furnished a solution, no one else has been wise enough to understand it. The hope of the future is that this question will finally be understood. It must not be discussed in anger. If a broad and comprehensive view is to be taken, there is no place for hatred or for prejudice. Capital is not to blame. Labor is not to blame. Both have been caught in the net of circumstances. The rich are, as generous as the poor would be if they should change places. Men acquire through the noblest and the tenderest instincts. They work and save not only for themselves, but for their wives and for their children. There is but little confidence in the charity of the world. The prudent man in his youth makes preparation for his age. The loving father, having struggled himself, hopes to save his children from drudgery and toil. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. In every country there are classes -- that is to say, the spirit of caste, and this spirit will exist until the world is truly civilized. Persons in most communities are judged not as individuals, but as members of a class. Nothing is more natural, and nothing more heartless. These lines that divide hearts on account of clothes or titles, are growing more and more indistinct, and the philanthropists, the lovers of the human race, believe that the time is coming when they will be obliterated. We may do away with kings and peasants, and yet there may still be the rich and poor, the intelligent and foolish. the beautiful and deformed, the industrious and idle, and it may be, the honest and vicious. These classifications are in the nature of things. They are produced for the most part by forces that are now beyond the control of man -- but the old rule, that men are disreputable in the proportion that they are useful, will certainly be reversed. The idle lord was always held to be the superior of the industrious peasant, the devourer better than the producer, and the waster superior to the worker. While in this country we have no titles of nobility, we have the rich and the poor -- no princes, no peasants, but millionaires and mendicants. The individuals composing these classes are continually changing. The rich of to-day may be the poor of to- morrow, and the children of the poor may take their places. In this country, the children of, the poor are educated substantially in the same schools with those of the rich. All read the same papers, many of the same books, and all for many years hear the same questions discussed. They are continually being educated, not only at schools, but by the press, by political campaigns, by perpetual discussions on public questions, and the result is that those who are rich in gold are often poor in thought, and many who have not whereon to lay their heads have within those heads a part of the intellectual wealth of the world. Years ago the men of wealth were forced to contribute toward the education of the children of the poor. The support of schools by general taxation was defended on the ground that it was a means of providing for the public welfare, of perpetuating the institutions of a free country by making better men and women. This policy has been pursued until at last the schoolhouse is larger than the church, and the common people through education have become uncommon. They now know how little is really known by what are called the upper classes -- how little after all is understood by kings, presidents, legislators, and men of culture. They are capable not only of understanding a few questions, but they have acquired the art of discussing those that no one understands. With the facility of politicians they can hide behind phrases, make barricades of statistics, and chevaux-de-frise of inferences and assertions. They understand the sophistries of those who have governed. In some respects these common people are the superiors of the so-called aristocracy. While the educated have been turning their attention to the classics, to the dead languages, and the dead ideas and mistakes that they contain -- while they have been giving their attention to ceramics, artistic decorations, and compulsory Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. prayers, the common people have been compelled to learn the practical things -- to become acquainted with facts -- by doing the work of the world. The professor of a college is no longer a match for a master mechanic. The master mechanic not only understands principles, but their application. He knows things as they are. He has come in contact with the actual, with realities. He knows something of the adaptation of means to ends, and this is the highest and most valuable form of education. The men who make locomotives, who construct the vast engines that propel ships, necessarily know more than those who have spent their lives in conjugating Greek verbs, looking for Hebrew roots, and discussing the origin and destiny of the universe. Intelligence increases wants. By education the necessities of the people become increased. The old wages will not supply the new wants. Man longs for a harmony between the thought within and the things without. When the soul lives in a palace the body is not satisfied with rags and patches. The glaring inequalities among men, the differences in condition, the suffering and the poverty, have appealed to the good and great of every age, and there has been in the brain of the philanthropist a dream -- a hope, a prophecy, of a better day. It was believed that tyranny was the foundation and cause of the differences between men -- that the rich were all robbers and the poor all victims, and that if a society or government could be founded on equal rights and privileges, the inequalities would disappear, that all would have food and clothes and reasonable work and reasonable leisure, and that content would be found by every hearth. There was a reliance on nature -- an idea that men had interfered with the harmonious action of great principles which if left to themselves would work out universal well-being for the human race. Others imagined that the inequalities between men were necessary -- that they were part of a divine plan, and that all would be adjusted in some other world -- that the poor here would be the rich there, and the rich here might be in torture there. Heaven became the reward of the poor, of the slave, and hell their revenge. When our Government was established it was declared that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was then believed that if all men had an equal opportunity, if they were allowed to make and execute their own laws, to levy their own taxes, the frightful inequalities seen in the despotisms and monarchies of the old world would entirely disappear. This was the dream of 1776. The founders of the Government knew how kings and princes and dukes and lords and barons had lived upon the labor of the peasants. They knew the history of those ages of want and crime, of luxury and suffering. But in spite of our Declaration, in spite of our Constitution, in spite of universal suffrage, the inequalities still exist. We have the kings and princes, the lords and peasants, in fact, if not in name. Maniplies, corporations, capitalists, workers for wages, have taken their places, and we are forced to admit that even universal suffrage cannot clothe and feed the world. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. For thousands of years men have been talking and writing about the great law of supply and demand -- and insisting that in some way this mysterious law has governed and will continue to govern the activities of the human race. It is admitted that this law is merciless -- that when the demand fails, the producer, the laborer, must suffer, must perish -- that the law feels neither pity nor malice -- it simply acts, regardless of consequences. Under this law, capital will employ the cheapest. The single man can work for less than the married. Wife and children are luxuries not to be enjoyed under this law. The ignorant have fewer wants than the educated, and for this reason can afford to work for less. The great law will give employment to the single and to the ignorant in preference to the married and intelligent. The great law has nothing to do with food or clothes, with filth or crime. It cares nothing for homes, for penitentiaries, or asylums. It simply acts -- and some men triumph, some succeed, some fail and some, perish. Others insist that the curse of the world is monopoly. And yet, as long as some men are stronger than others, as long as some are more intelligent than others, they must be, to the extent of such advantage, monopolists. Every man of genius is a monopolist. We are told that the great remedy against monopoly -- that is to say, against extortion, is free and unrestricted competition. But after all, the history of this world shows that the brutalities of competition are equaled only by those of monopoly. The successful competitor becomes a monopolist, and if competitors fail to destroy each other, the instinct of self-preservation suggests a combination. In other,words, competition is a struggle between two or more persons or corporations for the purpose of determining which shall have the uninterrupted privilege of extortion. In this country the people have had the greatest reliance on competition, If a railway company charged too much a rival road was built. As a matter of fact, we are indebted for half the railroads of the United States to the extortion of the other half, and the same may truthfully be said of telegraph lines. As a rule, while the exactions of monopoly constructed new roads and new lines, competition has either destroyed the weaker, or produced the pool which is a means of keeping both monopolies alive, or of producing a new monopoly with greater needs, supplied by methods more heartless than the old. When a rival road is built the people support the rival because the fares and freights are somewhat less. Then the old and richer monopoly inaugurates war, and the people, glorying in the benefits of competition, are absurd enough to support the old. In a little while the new company, unable to maintain the contest, left by the people at the mercy of the stronger, goes to the wall, and the triumphant monopoly proceeds to make the intelligent people pay not only the old price, but enough in addition to make up for the expenses of the contest. Is there any remedy for this? None, except with the people themselves. When the people become intelligent enough to support the rival at a reasonable price; when they know enough to allow both roads to live; when they are intelligent enough to recognize a friend and to stand by that friend as against a known enemy, this question will be at least on the edge of a solution. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. So far as I know, this course has never been pursued except in one instance, and that is the present war between the Gould and Mackay cables. The Gould system had been charging from sixty to eighty cents a word, and the Mackay system charged forty. Then the old monopoly tried to induce the rival to put the prices back to sixty. The rival refused, and thereupon the Gould combination dropped to twelve and a half, for the purpose of destroying the rival. The Mackay cable fixed the tariff at twenty-five cents, saying to its customers, "You are intelligent enough to understand what this war means. If our cables are defeated, the Gould system will go back not only to the old price, but will add enough to reimburse itself for the cost of destroying us. If you really wish for competition, if you desire a reasonable service at a reasonable rate, You will support us." Fortunately an exceedingly intelligent class of people does business by the cables. They are merchants, bankers, and brokers, dealing with large amounts, with intricate, complicated, and international questions. Of necessity, they are used to thinking for themselves. They are not dazzled into blindness by the glare of the present. They see the future. They are not duped by the sunshine of a moment or the promise of an hour. They see beyond the horizon of a penny saved. These people had intelligence enough to say, "The rival who stands between us and extortion is our friend, and our friend shall not be allowed to die." Does not this tend to show that people must depend upon themselves, and that some questions can be settled by the intelligence of those who buy, of those who use, and that customers are not entirely helpless? Another thing should not be forgotten, and that is this: there is the same war between monopolies that there is between individuals, and the monopolies for many years have been trying to destroy each other. They have unconsciously been working for the extinction of monopolies. These monopolies differ as individuals do. You find among them the rich and the poor, the lucky and the unfortunate, millionaires and tramps. The great monopolies have been devouring the little ones. Only a few years ago, the railways in this country were controlled by local directors and local managers. The people along the lines were interested in the stock. As a consequence, whenever any legislation was threatened hostile to the interests of these railways, they had local friends who used their influence with legislators, governors and juries. During this time they were protected, but when the hard times came many of these companies were unable to pay their interest. They suddenly became Socialists. They cried out against their prosperous rivals. They felt like joining the Knights of Labor. They began to talk about rights and wrongs. But in spite of their cries, they have passed into the hands of the richer roads -- they were seized by the great monopolies. Now the important railways are owned by persons living in large cities or in foreign countries. They have no local friends, and when the time comes, and it may come, for the General Government to say how much these companies shall charge for passengers and freight, they will have no local friends. It may be that the great mass of the people will then be on the other side. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. So that after all, the great corporations have been busy settling the question against themselves. Possibly a majority of the American people believe to-day that in some way all these questions between capital and labor can be settled by constitutions, laws, and judicial decisions. Most people imagine that a statute is a sovereign specific for any evil. But while the theory has all been one way, the actual experience has been the other -- just as the free traders have all the arguments and the protectionists most of the facts. The truth is, as Mr. Buckle says, that for five hundred years all real advance in legislation has been made by repealing laws. Of one thing we must be satisfied, and that is that real monopolies have never been controlled by law, but the fact that such monopolies exist, is a demonstration that the law has been controlled. In our country, legislators are for the most part controlled by those who, by their wealth and influence, elect them. The few, in reality, cast the votes of the many, and the few influence the ones voted for by the many. Special interests, being active, secure special legislation, and the object of special legislation is to create a kind of monopoly -- that is to say, to get some advantage. Chiefs, barons, priests, and kings ruled, robbed, destroyed, and duped, and their places have been taken by corporations, monopolists, and politicians. The large fish still live on the little ones, and the fine theories have as yet failed to change the condition of mankind. Law in this country is effective only when it is the recorded will of a majority. When the zealous few get control of the Legislature, and laws are passed to prevent Sabbath-breaking, or wine-drinking, they succeed only in putting their opinions and provincial prejudices in legal phrase. There was a time when men worked from fourteen to sixteen hours a day. These hours have not been lessened, they have not been shortened by law. The law has followed and recorded, but the law is not a leader and not a prophet. It appears to be impossible to fix wages -- just as impossible as to fix the values of all manufactured things, including works of art. The field is too great, the problem too complicated, for the human mind to grasp. To fix the value of labor is to fix all values -- labor being the foundation of all values. The value of labor cannot be fixed unless we understand the relations that all things bear to each other and to man. If labor were a legal tender -- if a judgment for so many dollars could be discharged by so many days of labor, -- and the law was that twelve hours of work should be reckoned as one day, then the law could change the hours, to ten or eight, and the judgments could be paid in the shortened days. But it is easy to see that in all contracts made after the passage of such a law, the difference in hours would be taken into consideration. We must remember that law is not a creative force. It produces nothing. It raises neither corn nor wine. The legitimate object of law is to protect the weak, to prevent violence and fraud, and to enforce honest contracts, to the end that each person may be free to do as he desires, provided only that he does not interfere with Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. the rights of others. Our fathers tried to make people religious by law. They failed. Thousands are now trying to make people temperate in the same manner. Such efforts always have been and probably always will be failures. People who believe that an infinite God gave to the Hebrews a perfect code of laws, must admit that even this code failed to civilize the inhabitants of Palestine. It seems impossible to make people just or charitable or industrious or agreeable or successful, by law, any more than you can make them physically perfect or mentally sound. Of course we admit that good people intend to make good laws, and that good laws faithfully and honestly executed, tend to the preservation of human rights and to the elevation of the race, but the enactment of a law not in accordance with a sentiment already existing in the minds and hearts of the people -- the very people who are depended upon to enforce this law -- is not a help, but a hindrance. A real law is but the expression, in an authoritative and accurate form, of the judgment and desire of the majority. As we become intelligent and kind, this intelligence and kindness find expression in law. But how is it possible to fix the wages of every man? To fix wages is to fix prices, and a government to do this intelligently, would necessarily have to have the wisdom generally attributed to an infinite Being. It would have to supervise and fix the conditions of every exchange of commodities and the value of every conceivable thing. Many things can be accomplished by law. Employers may be held responsible for injuries to the employed. The mines can be ventilated. Children can be rescued from the deformities of toil -- burdens taken from the backs of wives and mothers -- houses made wholesome food healthful -- that is to say, the weak can be protected from the strong, the honest from the vicious, honest contracts can be enforced, and many rights protected. The men who have simply strength, muscle, endurance, compete not only with other men of strength, but with the inventions of genius. What would doctors say if physicians of iron could be invented with curious cogs and wheels, so that when a certain button was touched the proper prescription would be written? How would lawyers feel if a lawyer could be invented in such a way that questions of law, being put in a kind of hopper and a crank being turned, decisions of the highest court could be prophesied without failure? And how would the ministers feel if somebody should invent a clergyman of wood that would to all intents and purposes answer the purpose? Invention has filled the world with the competitors not only of laborers, but of mechanics -- mechanics of the highest skill. To-day the ordinary laborer is for the most part a cog in a wheel. He works with the tireless -- he feeds the insatiable. When the monster stops the man is out of employment, out of bread. He has not saved anything. The machine that he fed was not feeding him, was not working for him -- the invention was not for his benefit. The other day I heard a man say that it was almost impossible for thousands of good mechanics to get employment, and that, in his judgment, the Government ought to furnish work for the people. A few minutes after, I heard another say that he was selling a patent Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. for cutting out clothes, that one of his machines could do the work of twenty tailors, and that only the week before he bad sold two to a great house in New York, and that over forty cutters had been discharged. On every side men are being discharged and machines are being invented to take their places. When the great factory shuts down, the workers who inhabited it and gave it life, as thoughts do the brain, go away and it stands there like an empty skull. A few workmen, by the force of habit, gather about the closed doors and broken windows and talk about distress, the price of food and the coming winter. They are convinced that they have not had their share of what their labor created. They feel certain that the machines inside were not their friends. They look at the mansion of the employer and think of the places where they live. They have saved nothing -- nothing but themselves. The employer seems to have enough. Even when employers fail, when they become bankrupt, they are far better off than the laborers ever were. Their worst is better than the toilers' best. The capitalist comes forward with his specific. He tells the workingman that he must be economical -- and yet, under the present system, economy would only lessen wages. Under the great law of supply and demand every saving, frugal, self-denying workingman is unconsciously doing what little he can to reduce the compensation of himself and his fellows. The slaves who did not wish to run away helped fasten chains on those who did. So the saving mechanic is a certificate that wages are high enough. Does the great law demand that every worker live on the least possible amount of bread? Is it his fate to work one day, that he may get enough food to be able to work another? Is that to be his only hope -- that and death? Capital has always claimed and still claims the right to combine. Manufacturers meet and determine upon prices, even in spite of the great law of supply and demand. Have the laborers the same right to consult and combine? The rich meet in the bank, the clubhouse, or parlor. Workingmen, when they combine, gather in the street. All the organized forces of society are against them. Capital has the army and the navy, the legislative, the judicial, and the executive departments. When the rich combine, it is for the purpose of "exchanging ideas." When the poor combine, it is a "conspiracy." If they act in concert, if they really do something, it is a "mob." If they defend themselves, it is "treason." How is it that the rich control the departments of government? In this country the political power is equally divided among the men. There are certainly more poor than there are rich. Why should the rich control? Why should not the laborers combine for the purpose of controlling the executive, legislative, and judicial departments? Will they ever find how powerful they are? In every country there is a satisfied class -- too satisfied to care. They are like the angels in heaven, who are never disturbed by the miseries of earth. They are too happy to be generous. This satisfied class asks no questions and answers none. They believe the world is as it should be. All reformers are simply disturbers of the peace. When they talk low, they should not be listened to; when they talk loud, they should be suppressed. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. The truth is to-day what it always has been -- what it always will be -- those who feel are the only ones who think. A cry comes from the oppressed, from the hungry, from the down-trodden, from the unfortunate, from men who despair and from women who weep. There are times when mendicants become revolutionists -- when a rag becomes a banner, under which the noblest and bravest battle for the right. How are we to settle the unequal contest between men and machines? Will the machine finally go into partnership with the laborer? Can these forces of nature be controlled for the benefit of her suffering children? Will extravagance keep pace with ingenuity? Will the workers become intelligent enough and strong enough to be the owners of the machines? Will these giants, these Titans, shorten or lengthen the hours of labor? Will they give leisure to the industrious, or will they make the rich richer. and the poor poorer? Is man involved in the "general scheme of things"? Is there no pity, no mercy? Can man become intelligent enough to be generous, to be just; or does the same law or fact control him that controls the animal and vegetable world? The great oak steals the sunlight from the smaller trees. The strong animals devour the weak -- everything eating something else -- everything at the mercy of beak and claw and hoof and tooth -- of hand and club, of brain and greed -- inequality, injustice, everywhere. The poor horse standing in the street with his dray, over- worked, over-whipped, and under-fed, when he sees other horses groomed to mirrors, glittering with gold and silver, scorning with proud feet the very earth, probably indulges in the usual socialistic reflections, and this same horse, worn out and old, deserted by his master, turned into the dusty road, leans his head on the topmost rail, looks at donkeys in a field of clover, and, feels like a Nihilist. In the days of savagery the strong devoured the weak -- actually ate their flesh. In spite of all the laws that man has made, in spite of all advance in science, literature and art, the strong, the cunning, the heartless still live on the weak, the unfortunate, and foolish. True, they do not eat their flesh, they do not drink their blood, but they live on their labor, on their self-denial, their weariness and want. The poor man who deforms himself by toil, who labors for wife and child through all his anxious, barren, wasted life -- who goes to the grave without even having had one luxury -- has been the food of others. He has been devoured by his fellow-men. The poor woman living in the bare and lonely room, cheerless and fireless, sewing night and day to keep starvation from a child, is slowly being eaten by her fellow-men. When I take into consideration the agony of civilized life -- the number of failures, the poverty, the anxiety, the tears, the withered hopes, the bitter realities, the hunger, the crime, the humiliation, the shame I am almost forced to say that cannibalism, after all, is the most merciful form in which man has ever lived upon his fellow-man. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. Some of the best and purest of our race have advocated what is known as Socialism. They have not only taught, but, what is much more to the purpose, have believed that a nation should be a family; that the government should take care of all its children; that it should provide work and food and clothes and education for all, and that it should divide the results of all labor equitably with all. Seeing the inequalities among men, knowing of the destitution and crime, these men were willing to sacrifice, not only their own liberties, but the liberties of all. Socialism seems to be one of the worst possible forms of slavery. Nothing, in my judgment, would so utterly paralyze all the forces, all the splendid ambitions and aspirations that now tend to the civilization of man. In ordinary systems of slavery there are some masters, a few are supposed to be free; but in a socialistic state all would be slaves. If the government is to provide work it must decide for the worker what he must do. It must say who shall chisel statues, who shall paint pictures, who shall compose music, and who shall practice the professions. Is any government, or can any government, be capable of intelligently performing these countless rituals? It must not only control work, it must not only decide what each shall do, but it must control expenses, because expenses bear a direct relation to products. Therefore the government must decide what the worker shall eat and wherewithal he shall be clothed; the kind of house in which he shall live; the manner in which it shall be furnished, and, if this government furnishes the work, it must decide on the days or the hours of leisure. More than this, it must fix values; it must decide not only who shall sell, but who shall buy, and the price that must be paid -- and it must fix this value not simply upon the labor, but on everything that can be produced, that can be exchanged or sold. Is it possible to conceive of a despotism beyond this? The present condition of the world is bad enough, with its poverty and ignorance, but it is far better than it could by any possibility be under any government like the one described. There would be less hunger of the body, but not of the mind. Each man would simply be a citizen of a large penitentiary, and, as in every well regulated prison, somebody would decide what each should do. The inmates of a prison retire early; they rise with the sun; they have something to eat; they are not dissipated; they have clothes; they attend divine service; they have but little to say about their neighbors; they do not suffer from cold; their habits are excellent, and yet, no one envies their condition. Socialism destroys the family. The children belong to the state. Certain officers take the places of parents. Individuality is lost. The human race cannot afford to exchange its liberty for any possible comfort. You remember the old fable of the fat dog that met the lean wolf in the forest. The wolf, astonished to see so prosperous an animal, inquired of the dog where he got his food, and the dog told him that there was a man who took care of him, gave him his breakfast, his dinner, and his supper with the utmost Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. regularity, and that he had all that he could eat and very little to do. The wolf said, "Do you think this man would treat me as he does you?" The dog replied, "Yes, come along with me." So they jogged on together toward the dog's home. On the way the wolf happened to notice that some hair was worn off the dog's neck, and he said, "How did the hair become worn?" "That is," said the dog, "the mark of the collar -- my master ties me at night." "Oh," said the wolf, "Are you chained? Are you deprived of your liberty? I believe I will go back. I prefer hunger." It is impossible for any man with a good heart to be satisfied with this world as it now is. No one can truly enjoy even what he earns -- what he knows to be his own -- knowing that millions of his fellow-men are in misery and want. When we think of the famished we feel that it is almost heartless to eat. To meet the ragged and shivering makes one almost ashamed to be well dressed and warm -- one feels as though his heart was as cold as their bodies. In a world filled with millions and millions of acres of land waiting to be tilled, where one man can raise the food for hundreds, millions are on the edge of famine. Who can comprehend the stupidity at the bottom of this truth? Is there to be no change? Are "the law of supply and demand," invention and science, monopoly and competition, capital and legislation always to be the enemies of those who toil? Will the workers always be ignorant enough and stupid enough to give their earnings for the useless? Will they support millions of soldiers to kill the sons of other workingmen? Will they always build temples for ghosts and phantoms, and live in huts and dens themselves? Will they forever allow parasites with crowns, and vampires with maitres, to live upon their blood? Will they remain the slaves of the beggars they support? How long will they be controlled by friends who seek favors, and by reformers who want office? Will they always prefer famine in the city to a feast in the fields? Will they ever feel and know that they have no right to bring children into this world that they cannot support? Will they use their intelligence for themselves, or for others? Will they become wise enough to know that they cannot obtain their own liberty by destroying that of others? Will they finally see that every man has a right to choose his trade, his profession, his employment, and has the right to work when, and for whom, and for what he will? Will they finally say that the man who has had equal privileges with all others has no right to complain, or will they follow the example that has been set by their oppressors? Will they learn that force, to succeed, must have a thought behind it, and that anything done, in order that it may endure, must rest upon the corner-stone of justice? Will they, at the command of priests, forever extinguish the spark that sheds a little light in every brain? Will they ever recognize the fact that labor, above all things, is honorable -- that it is the foundation of virtue? Will they understand that beggars cannot be generous, and that every healthy man must earn the right to live? Will honest men stop taking off their hats to Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 SOME INTERROGATION POINTS. successful fraud? Will industry, in the presence of crowned idleness, forever fall upon its knees, and will the lips unstained by lies forever kiss the robed impostors hand? North American Review, March, 1887. END **** **** LOTOS CLUB DINNER, TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY. New York, March 22, 1890. YOU have talked so much of old age and gray hairs and thin locks, so much about the past, that I feel sad. Now, I want to destroy the impression that baldness is a sign of age. The very youngest people I ever saw were bald. Sometimes I think, and especially when I am at a meeting where they have what they call reminiscences, that a world with death in it is a mistake. What would you think of a man who built a railroad, knowing that every passenger was to be killed -- knowing that there was no escape? What would you think of the cheerfulness of the passengers if every one knew that at some station, the name of which had not been called out, there was a hearse waiting for him; backed up there, horses fighting flies, driver whistling, waiting for you? Is it not wonderful that the passengers on that train really enjoy themselves? Is it not magnificent that every one of them, under perpetual sentence of death, after all, can dimple their cheeks with laughter; that we, every one doomed to become dust, can yet meet around this table as full of joy as spring is full of life, as full of hope as the heavens are full of stars? I tell you we have got a good deal of pluck. And yet, after all, what would this world be without death? It may be from the fact that we are all victims, from the fact that we are all bound by common fate: it may be that friendship and love are born of that fact; but whatever the fact is, I am perfectly satisfied that the highest possible philosophy is to enjoy to-day, not regretting yesterday, and not fearing to-morrow. So, let us suck this orange of life dry, so that when death does come, we can politely say to him, "You are welcome to the peelings. What little there was we have enjoyed." But there is one splendid thing about the play called Life. Suppose that when you die, that is the end. The last thing that you will know is that you are alive, and the last thing that will happen to you is the curtain, not falling, but the curtain rising on another thought, so that as far as your consciousness is concerned you will and must live forever. No man can remember when he commenced, and no man can remember when he ends. As far as we are concerned we live both eternities, the one past and the one to come, and it is a delight to me to feel satisfied, and to feel in my own heart, that I can never be certain that I have seen the faces I love for the last time. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 LOTOS CLUB DINNER, TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY. When I am at such a gathering as this, I almost wish I had had the making of the world. What a world I would have made! In that world unhappiness would have been the only sin; melancholy the only crime; joy the only virtue. And whether there is another world, nobody knows. Nobody can affirm it; nobody can deny it. Nobody can collect tolls from me, claiming that he owns a turnpike, and nobody can certainly say that the crooked path that I follow, beside which many roses are growing, does not lead to that place. He doesn't know. But if there is such a place, I hope that all good fellows will be welcome. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended -- The Free Market-Place of Ideas. The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America. **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13


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