Ferdinand Hansen.

Pillory and witness-box online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryFerdinand HansenPillory and witness-box → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




\ '■■ .-'<■ w"^'^•■ft"T■'^l'-;





■'-'■< "'■V^-' :>;''••'''"!"'"■■'', ?^'^v,';







Drawn by Paul Rennet


COPYRIGHT, 1920 by











his is the hook of a man. It is the hook of
an American^ a German=American. From
^ its pages cries the voice of an upright con'
science, steeped in American principles and
deepened by German idealism and a stark conception
of duty and justice. This book is a conviction and a
faith. It is something more than these— a deed.

"Pillory and Witnessfbox" is not the work of a
trained writer, but of a merchant, suddenly, poignantly
conscious of a duty and a mission. Before the war
struck and quickened him with rude hand, Ferdinand
Hansen had made no use of the pen as a weapon or
a tool for shaping his thoughts and feelings. Until
then the loose, abrupt, half humorous vernacular of
the American business^ and clubman had sufficed
him— that standardized speech sufficient unto a land
in which subtleties of thought and expression are
swept aside by the rapids and tornadoes of life and
trade or stamped to uninspiring monotony under the
rollers of the press.

Up to his sixteenth year, his own rich and deep
German tongue had served him for all purposes. Then
came his immersion in American life and the inevit*


able combat of two tongues, two modes of life, two
surveys of the world. And there came upon him, no
doubt, also that inner battle between the inborn and
the acquired to which the German nature at home
and abroad seems to be doomed— that strange, self*
questioning, objective and subjective dualism which the
Anglo-Saxon cannot understand.

But he who thinks and feels aright, will also express
himself aright It is an elemental law that the word
must bow to the spirit, and be shaped by it, even the
stubborn word of an adopted tongue. When a thought
lives and demands a voice, when a deep and true
emotion soars like a fountain from theheart—then chains
crumble and barriers fall. Then the right word, the right
form, whispered into the ear or moulded in the mouth
by subconscious forces, leaps from pen or lip. In this
wise, when mastered by exaltation, most men regain
a fragment of their lost racial heritage and a spark
of the fire that was indwelling in all men when all
men were poets. The message of the heart pours out
as from a crucible— plastic and redfglowing— molten
metal of indignation, grief or passion. Of such metal
bells are cast— and from such bells tocsins are sounded.

I have seen the original drafts of these papers—
often disconnected notes or paragraphs flung upon
paper or dictated in the heat or impulse of the moment.
I have not always agreed with what was said, nor
with the manner of the saying— on some points I
differ sharply from the author. Nevertheless I have
helped, gladly helped, to lick a phrase into its final
shape, to free a passage rich in spontaneity from
unnecessary slag, or to reinforce, here and there, the
thought of my friend with a thought of my own.
I have not sought to weed out crudities for the sake


of surface polish. I did not wish to geld a splendid
bluntness with "literary" evasions or euphemisms.

This is the book of a man, because it is an honest
and fearless book— with a direct and manly motive.
It gives the lie to the liar, and the blow for the lie.
It addresses itself to the culprit, flings the charge in
his teeth and calls the people to witness. There is
fire in it and light, and smoke enough, no doubt^
elemental anger and red blood, the sweat of agony
and the torment of a strong and outraged nature.
The tears of a nation are in it. There are accusations
grim and black and deadly— and despair and ruin—
and beyond them an ever=reviving hope.

Out of these pages there rolls a voice which will
speak for millions who today are still dumb— cowed
by a brutal terrorism of word and act, or incoherent
because they have not learned to speak with one
united voice. In the sufferings of this American of
German birth, the whole body of Americans of German
blood and birth— that large, valuable and vital element
in our composite population— may behold their own
sufferings. Let them learn and bequeath to generation
after generation, the bitter lesson the war has taught
them:— that to surrender their birthright or their
vouchsafed right in the politics or control of their
native or adopted land, out of indifference or out of
capitulation to an Anglo-Saxon caste or stratum in a
land that is not Anglo»Saxon, is to surrender somea
thing beyond all price and to be exposed naked to
all kinds of wrong-.

Here was at least one American who would not
endure such wrong, because he was at heart a better
American than they who challenged the loyalty of
such as he— after laying the axe at the very roots


of loyalty. Moving is the tenacity with which this
stalwart GevmanfAmedcan clings to current illusidns
as well as to ancient American tests and faiths— the
maxims of the Fathers and the Founders— to which
the recaptured colonial still does lip-service, but which
in his heart he has broken and defiled.

Fearless books— books that fight— are rare in our
day. They are rarest in our land. In America moral
cowardice gnaws at the spinal nerve of the nation— as
if to lower and annul even the animal courage of the
American to a mere reflex action of unbridled in»
stinct. This primitive strain in the American is still
so strong, that our masses will always respond to the
crudest emotional stimuli. Every demagogue and im*
poster knows the formula for these stimuli— the ready
spells whereby he may work upon the simple soul
of these masses, rich or poor, educated or illiterate.
So easy is the trick and its success so sure, that to
gull, betray or stampede the public has become a
system— almost a science.

Americans of wider vision and firmer mental
fundaments who are able to trace cause from circum=
stance and efiect from cause, now realize that their
country has been betrayed. Their anger is at the
same time a pathetic revelation of strange inhibition,
incapacity and blindness. Shaken into a new con^
sciousness and confounded by new values of life and
thought through close and violent contact with the
dynamic currents of intellectual Europe, however
dammed or diverted by the war, the American people
have been jarred out of thdr smug lethargy of self*
deception, self^^satisfaction and self conceit. They have
suddenly come of age among the nations without
having had time to become adult. Their captains,


their charts and their compasses have lied to them.
They are beginning to ask themselves questions—
"Where lies the fault?" "Who is to blame?" They
have not far to seek for the answers. They will
find them in themselves.

Let them beware of the new prophets as of the old
— of the men who still delude them with the doctrine
of their own infallibility— with the fatal heresy of the
mob, even more fatal than that of monarchs, that the
people can do no wrong. The people— our people— have
done monstrous wrong and their responsibility is the
greater since they themselves boasted that they were
ruled by none but themselves. And if they were
unable to see how grossly they were being misruled,
what becomes of their right to self=rule—what of
their capacity for it? This right has indeed been
forfeited, and all power has inevitably fallen into the
hands of those who were able to usurp it. If England
was able to re=conquer her American colony, it was
because the American mind upon which she worked
had not ceased to be colonial, or that it had ceased
to be fit to be free.

Let there be light and much light upon these things 1
Perish our cowardly hatred of criticism from without
or from within! Parochial pride, provincial self*
fetichism, morbid patriotism— into the deepest pit with
them! Not he who flatters the people, but he who
bares their ulcers to the sun must be accounted their
friend. Let the surgeons who come with healing
ray or salutary blade— the men with the broad light
of the world in their eyes, who see shams and do
not fear to tear them to shreds^ who see idols and
do not fear to shatter them, however densely draped
with the rags of national vanity, be welcomed as

guides and as saviours. Let the American cease to
be silly. Let him beware of a shallow cynicism to
hide this silliness.

The phrases and sentiments, the fallacies and
platitudes, with which the American people had been
spellbound for many decades, were outlawed and
outlived long ago— though they knew it not— by life
and reality. But the American insisted on clinging
to his musty anodynes in dogma, in education, in
politics, in his bloodless, parasitic art and literature
with the tenacity of a drugged victim to his drug.
In his mental laziness and flaccidity, he welcomed
these deadly things as easy substitutes for clear, in*
dependent and honest thinking.

Few peoples were ever so steeped and dyed in
self delusions as our own, We are a people mongrel
in blood and soul, who have never seen our own
face, who have worshipped ourselves not even in
reflection but only in effigy. This effigy, almost
elevated to the status of an idol, had little in common
with the national symbol, the lean Yankee, half settler,
half harlequin, in striped trousers and starry coat,
whom apish caricaturists portray as meanly cunning
in peace and sternly heroic in war. The American
could not realize that his claim to greatness could
not be based upon the size or wealth of his continent,
but only upon the measure of his ability to produce
great men, great thoughts or great achievements.

So deep was this self delusion that when an ordi*
nary, selfunderstood truth was suddenly fished out
of the common experience of the race, and repeated
sufficiently long and loudly, like some banality of
Roosevelt's, it took on the aspect of a great revelation.
And these banalities were glorified into world dis*


pensations and panaceas— just as the cyclopean mem*
orial planned to immortalize this Mighty Mouth will
lift its head and mock at the judgment of America a
decade hence.

So thorough has always been the passive opposition
to truth that the entire national soul stagnated in a
kind of twilight oblivion to inner and outer Reality,
however fiercely awake to the Instant and the Actual.
The incessant surface movement of American life was
mistaken for that higher Action which is coupled with
Direction and springs from a distinct goal, a plan or
purpose. America had no star to follow and no voice
to lead her. Niagara swept on like a mindless
machine. There was not ev4n an ideal of democracy
with enough life to mould and master the nation's
heart— as the message of Walt Whitman might once
have done. Thus the pygmies came, cunning and
unscrupulous, and put out the eye ofPolypheme with
a charred stake, bound him with green withes and
delivered him into the hands of his enemies.

The incorruptible satirist, the conscience of his
country, without whose salts and acids the intellectual
and moral coinage of the people is left to be debased
by every imposter, was hooted off the stage. Honesty
of criticism could not exist in such airs and therefore,
if not for that reason alone, there was not even an
honest art or a living literature. Feminism, puritanism,
the white voodhooism that seizes upon minds and
lives without an objective, swamped the soil.

The hearts of the American people, as they them*
selves were, wont to boast, were in the right place.
But of what use was this, when every nimble cheat,
every semiAiterate reporter, was free to addle their
minds? We have seen how easily such addled minds


can displace the soundest heart. Such a people is
doomed to fall a victim to sinister masters. It will
be sold into spiritual bondage again and again, with=
in the land and without, to cunning and unscrupulous
powers, to whom it is but clay to be shaped.

Such has been the fate of the people of the United
States. The passionate thing which men thought the
flower of their own souls and called loyalty, now
materializes upon their wrists in the shape of manacles,
ehill and rusty— and alien. By some who have become
conscious of these manacles, such as Philip Francis,
author of "The Poison in America's Cup," they are
felt to burn and corrode.

That mighty compound and complexus of European
breeds and stocks, the American people, who by one
of the most insolent lies ever fashioned, were brought
to deny their own blood and their own fathers, and
forced into the confines of Anglo*Saxondom—the
American People are beginning to awake. Maddening
poisons are still being forced into brain and heart,
but even the most potent begin to fail. The black
enginery of propaganda is still thunderously at work,
rolling its paper billows of hatred and falsehood
against the last bulwarks of reason. For all that, the
gigantic wall of lies is already riven in this house of
bondage;— and what a bondage it was and is! It is
deeper and darker than Germany's, who fought so
long and heroically against monstrous odds to retain
her liberty. The masters in our house surrendered it
without a blow, nay, with abject smiles. Every star
in the nation's firmament shook and grew dull. The
flame in Liberty's torch smoked and stank.

But now there are lightnings striking across dark
horizons as though they were the angry flashings of


a people's eyes. The vault is spanned and congested
with thunder. Under the foundations of the cities
phantoms are stirring— spirits of earthquake and revolt.
In the halls of the Capitol, the renegade sons are
beginning to babble in the forgotten tongue of fathers
and prophets long dead. The brain that conceived
the betrayal of the nation and then aided and
acclaimed the betrayal of the world, has been stricken
—if we can pierce behind the secrecy that veils the
retribution of Washington as it veiled the conspiracy
of Versailles. The hand that signed the unforgivable
pact is said to be blasted. It is as though the horror
and execration of all mankind had shaped itself into
a curse and the curse had fallen.

The man Wilson was in many ways the embodiment
—perhaps the conscious embodiment, of the fallacies,
the sophistries and falsehoods upon which America
had been fed. He too, the false guide and evil
counsellor, fed and fattened it with flattery up to its
bent, until, draped with the flag, it meekly allowed
itself to be driven intd the European slaughter flelds.
Nevertheless, the rage and disgust which have now
seized upon the people are,— let there be no mistake!
—little moral in their nature. In their defeated and
discredited leader, the people feel, with a correct
instinct, their own disgrace and defeat. A vanity
inflated almost to a disease, now writhes^ under a
burning humiliation.

They had acclaimed this man as the Saviour of
the World and armed him with demi^godlike power,
irresistible and indomitable. In him, though all his
dishonesty and capitulation to wrong and error stood
glaringly forth from the beginning, they had estab*
lished their faith. He was their masterfbrain, their


trained gladiator for the right, their missioner of a
new wdrld=dispensation, their prophet of an illusionary
democracy. He was to teach a bankrupt, suicidal
Europe all the potent wisdom America had acquired
in a hundred years. But at touch of the reality of
Europe in the momentous hour when 'the ferocious
debate was waged between Greed, Cruelty, Hatred,
Rapine and Death, this Illusionary degraded himself
to a mere conspirator, the despised puppet of trained
Old World intelligences, brains untouched by the
moon. Confronted by these savage but unclouded
minds, these adamantine wills and hearts of flint, the
long'drawn rubber jaw, the mouth that oozed unguents
of slippery eloquence and the self intoxicated souh
became as putty to be moulded.

The glittering structure of the Fourteen Points floated
across the Atlantic upon a stolen German ship, burning
with unendurable light in the incandescent focus of
the world's gaze. Fervently was it hailed in its sun^^
like course by unhappy mankind, afflicted with a
thousand wounds and oppressions, as the ark of a
new Covenant. Amidst Caesarian pomp and ovat=
ions, this Catiline bore his Mystery into the Star
Chamber, which through him was to be converted
into a torture=chamber. The Tiger bared his fangs,
Taffy the Welshman laughed in Limehouse ribaldry,
and the painted simulacrum of peace collapsed with
a crash that caused a shudder to run through the
world. The eyes of a revolted mankind saw that
there was in it nothing but scorpions and spiders and
dead mens bones. The sepulchre in which Mars was
to be eternally entombed at command of a Princeton
professor, was found to contain only the corpse of
peace. The formula of the world's freedcm was only


a death'trap for the world— the White House a whited

Figures throng upon the imagination, but none seem
apt enough to encompass or express the inconceivable.

The august living Statue of Justice, "lank and lean
and long," overtopping the tallest coneyswarrens of
Manhattan, shrank and collapsed and became as
hideous as a Papuan doll or a gnarled Pompeian
mummy. The eyes of the thrice^damned Thing were
blind, its scales and weights were false as loaded
dice, its lawless sword which had struck the friend
and spared the foe, was as a lath against Organized

Yet even Organized Crime and subtle Old World
Diplomacy would have been powerless against New
World Inexperience fortified by such invincible moral
and material power as stood behind this man. But
his inborn hatred of Germany, his panic fear of
uttering a word in her defence, dug the yawning pit
into which his masters cast all his points and prin*
ciples one by one, all the lumber and rubbish of his
phrases and at last himself and his people. The false
morality and mentality which had been foisted upon
us— of this the world had eaten and grown sick like

The great problem in the mathematics of world
morality had been degraded into a thimble=rigger s
trick. Or, to change the figure, the subtle chemical
ingredients of civilization— the soul, the spirit, the
thoughts and passions of the peoples had been mixed
into an infernal compound by this sinister charlatan,
so that mordant poisons resulted— explosions— insidious
gases— charging the air with future wars. And now
the Patriotism and World Redemption of 1917 sink


and gibber into the pathology of 1919. Two years
in which the world was to be made safe for Demo=
cracyl The world has indeed been made safe from
many a sham democracy now cowering in the dungeons
of Imperialism.

The American People have just risen from a kind
of Banquo*s feast. The cries of their crazed Macbeth,
exposed and driven into a corner, are ringing through
the land. Light, livid and implacable, is breaking
upon the feast, creeping over the beakers of blood,
the corpses of infants on the trenchers, the Armed
Head of Militarism, and the scattered gold with the
mildew of death upon it. To awakening eyes this
banquet hall looks very like the Hall of Pandemonium.
Its pitchy fires are dying down, the satanic chorus
has grown almost silent with hoarseness, and the
whole evil plot is stripped to its very bones. The
face and form of the villainous Peace have swollen
so monstrously that not even the ample paper masks
and skirts of the strumpetted Press can hide them
any longer.

These things the American people now see, or at
least feel, and they shall see and feel more of them
and ever more clearly. But with that strange ins
capacity for deducing motives from actions and causes
from consequences, of acting as right, reason and
logic dictate when truth is at last revealed— no voice
has as yet been raised to call for the doing of the
just, the generous, the inevitable thing.

There are voices, and they are growing louder and
more numerous, which denounce the hangman's peace.
But as though the manhood of the land lay dead
amidst the ruins of the old Republic, no voice soars
above the million-headed levels on behalf of a people


betrayed, tortured and crucified. Few are the proa
tests made because sacred national pledges are unfuU
filled and national honour unredeemed. Courage fails
in face of iron obsessions. No hand is stretched out
to take up the inescapable imperative of duty. A
clamour is raised over Shantung, and rightly raised,
but no man dare breathe a word in defence of

Ideals have become mere deals. Senator Gilbert
M.Hitchcock, that familiar compound of rugged Roman,
old" school tragedian and smoothfaced school-boy
which makes up the externals of senatorial dignity
among us, invokes the people to ratify the Tiger's
Peace that is not even a truce. And what are his
arguments? The peace of the world? The League
of Nations? American chivalry, idealism, humanity?
Democracy ? Freedom ?

None of these puerilities. The noble Hitchcock,
dropping the austere mask, and stepping forth shame'
lessly with all the warped sophistry of that petti*
fogger's morality with which we are cursed, tells us
that if we do not ratify the treaty— then we, the
richest people in the world, will lose the 800 million
dollars, the ships, the patents and other fine things
which, in base emulation of Britain, we stole from
the poorest people in the world! Since when has the
argument of a pirate been deemed a final and cont
vincin^ one with the American People in an issue
such as this? In looks a Brutus— in argument an

In our papers attempts are made to excite the patri*
otism of American youth with language almost as
muddy as that whispered into the ears of the tourist
by the bawdy guides in the Place de V Opera. "The


the victory of American civilization, lifts itself like a
bloated moon triumphantly over the sluggish currencies
of friend and foe. But in the moral markets of the
world, America stands a beggar and a bankrupt.

America has still her ultimate victory to win— it is
the victory over herself The first step to this
victory is called reparation to the people she has
wronged— the people whom, claiming to befriend and
to free, she permitted her tyrant to attack, td lure
into a deathttrap and then to cast to the lions and
the jackals. The path that America must tread is
clear. It is the path leading back over the ruins
of German*American friendship to the salvage oj
her own freedom and self respect. This path is called
"Justice to Germany." Only by treading it can
America do justice to herself.

This book too is inspired by the will to justice,
though in another sense. The pillory which Ferdinand
Hansen has erected out ofrough=hewn timber holds up
to obloquy some of the men responsible for the betrayal
of America to Britain. With clear and searching
eye and something of the intuition of the fanatic for
Truth, he has seen that they are in the end responsible
for the deep, far*stretching zones of sorrow, death,
hunger, disease and chaos that traverse all Europe— for
the undying agony in millions of hearts and the
despair and madness in millions of brains.

He has stripped them naked before the eyes of
their fellowfiAmericans. They are mostly men prom*
inent without eminence, men perhaps even petty in
themselves, in character, mind and attainments. Yet
some of them by their abuse of the power and the
resources at their command, have attained the rank
of gigantic male/actors— scourges of mankind. As


such they are disclosed in this indictment, and as
such the historical arraignment will reveal them. Upon
them rests a guilt as great as upon the conspirators
in foreign cabinets who plotted to overthrow the real
Balance of Power in Europe, because Germany, by
geographical situation, natural growth and superb
vital qualities, held the counterpoise upon the Contim
ent. These men were the vandals, gamesters and
incendiaries in the American tabernacle. That which
they overthrew was not only the wise and sanctified
tradition of their land, but the Balance of Power of

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryFerdinand HansenPillory and witness-box → online text (page 1 of 22)