Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

The North American review (Volume 139) online

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abuses that might spring from temporary passions and excite
ments, or the evils that might arise from neglect of duties owing
to the state at large.

We do not in the same manner set off by themselves the
persons engaged in a particular occupation, and confer upon
them corporate powers, but the interference of the state in their
concerns may be wisely controlled by similar principles. If they
are allowed to govern without interference in whatever relates
exclusively to their own affairs, keeping themselves at the same
time within the general rules of law, and if the state shall keep
firm rule in all that concerns the relations of the particular
business to others and to the state at large, we shall then
have that effective combination of self-rule with state control
in which alone can we have a government that at the same
time is well informed and well restrained.

In some particulars the self-government of occupations has
never been settled upon a safe or even a peaceful basis. This
is chargeable to internal dissensions ; for the state has refrained
from much interference. As a result of their contentions, per
sons engaged in different capacities in the same business have
assumed antagonistic positions, and have arrayed themselves in
hostile forces. All about us, but especially in the great centers
of manufacture, we may see illustrations. The most noticeable


fact in some lines of business is the general combination of pro
prietors on the one hand, and of laborers on the other, in asso
ciations for mutual protection. Nothing at first view would
seem more proper $ for all employers have a common interest in
the prosperity of the business, as all laborers have likewise, and
what injuriously affects one may prejudice all. But the evil
lurks in the aim and purpose of the combinations j for instead
of a common purpose pervading all, the employer is found
organized for protection against the laborer, and the laborer
against the employer. It is the old fable of the belly and the
members realized ; but in this case both belly and members are
in rebellion against cooperation, and, as a necessary result, both
are suffering. The several organizations are likely to have the
governing machinery of a little commonwealth ; and the legis
lative and administrative tribunals of each are working at cross-
purposes, with a view to circumvent each other. Laborers be
lieve their union a necessity, and the sole means whereby they
can prevent their subsistence being at the mercy of employers.
Employers look upon their own combination as necessary to
secure to them the control of their own business. Thus they
stand to each other in hostile attitude, and behind walls of
defense. Each is right, in a measure ; but the wrong in their
strife is more conspicuous than the right, and the evils more
certain than the advantages. The defensive organization invites
attack. No walled city was ever yet secure behind its battle
ments ; security only came when the good-will of its neighbors
permitted its walls to be leveled to the ground. Strikes and
lock-outs inevitably bring loss and misery ; the strife often be
coming a trial of endurance that may bankrupt the employer,
while it pauperizes the employed. Nor are these the sole evils ;
sometimes they are not even the chief. All those classes that
are accustomed to prey upon labor the agitator, the dema
gogue, the grog-seller, the shyster make labor troubles their
harvest-time, and do what they can to aggravate them, that
they may extend the opportunity for making the workmen their
spoil. The employer becomes bitter in proportion as he sees his
anticipated profits becoming impossible ; the laborer is bitter in
proportion as he feels himself at a disadvantage j the contro
versy breeds a lawless spirit, and tends to criminal organiza
tions j it finds its way into politics and into the jury-box j and
we are compelled to believe that men sometimes disregard the


obligations of duty, as well as solemn oaths, that they may
inflict punishment on those they look upon as extortionate
capitalists and hard-hearted masters. The legislation of the
state comes to be suspected ; one party believing that laws that
may or may not be proper in themselves are adopted to win the
favor of a rabble, and the other suspecting that corruption con
trols ; until a high-minded and honorable man turns his back
upon legislative halls, and refuses to expose his reputation by
entering them as a member. These are very serious evils, and
they affect the state at large and all classes of the community.
We are all concerned, therefore, in establishing a better state of
things, if that be possible. The state has ample power to inter
fere by law, but probably no interference would be beneficial
that went beyond the mere preservation of public order. Em
ployers and laborers alike would resent any further interference
as an unwarrantable meddling with private concerns. The
employer especially would insist on his right to control his
business in his own way j to go on or to stop, as his interest
seemed to require; to make his own contracts, and to resist
contracts being forced upon him. In all this he would be stand
ing upon principles of general acceptance ; and the state must
respect his rights, because they are rights that belong to us all,
and are fundamental. But when a strict insistence upon legal
rights leaves the troublesome and dangerous contentions in full
vigor, the parties concerned may well be invited to consider
whether remedies consistent with justice are not within the
compass of mutual concessions.

It is a common remark that the chief difficulty in labor
troubles is, that laborers refuse to recognize their own interest,
and that they put themselves into the hands of those who make
use of them for mercenary purposes of their own. If they would
act reasonably, we are told, if they would recognize the laws of
political economy, against which it is folly to object, we should
not see large bodies of men wasting their time in strikes, and
giving their money to support in idleness those who organize
disorder. This is doubtless true; the laboring classes are
greatly in need of a better understanding of the principles of
business as well as of government. There are men among them
who, like the Nihilists of Russia, are ready to be indiscriminate
destructives. In any country this would be an ominous fact ;
in a free country it is especially alarming, for the man with


nothing, but who is in sympathy with large classes of discon
tented people, may be a greater power in the state than the man
with large possessions. And when discontent rules, it is posses
sions that are chiefly in danger.

But the laboring classes are not all who need further en
lightenment upon the difficult problems that concern the relations
of labor and capital. Hitherto, in dealing with those problems,
employers have taken high ground, and have generally been
able to maintain it. But in the long run it matters little which
party has the temporary success, if the conditions from which
the difficulties spring must still continue. A victory is in general
a disaster unless it has some tendency to bring about peace j but
peace between employer and laborer can never be based upon
the triumph of one over the other ; it must come from general
content. If a man says. " My business is my own, to be man
aged as I please/' we must assent that this is his legal right.
But there is a sense in which the business cannot be exclusively
his own j and any one who thoughtfully regards all sides of the
problems that concern him will not overlook this. While any
particular establishment belongs to the proprietors, yet so long
as labor and capital are equally essential, any particular busi
ness, considered in the aggregate, is as much that of those who
bring to it the labor as of those who furnish the money. If
laborers withdraw from it, it conies to an end as certainly as
when the proprietor closes his doors. That the proprietor has a
legal right to close his doors at discretion, regardless of the
effect upon the interest of others, must be admitted. But moral
obligations are sometimes so imperative that no legal sanction
can possibly make them more so. The obligation of the employer
to assume some responsibility for the well-being of those who
perform the labor from which he expects his profits, ought to be
classed in this category. They and their families are in so large
a degree dependent upon him, that their condition appeals
specially to his humane impulses, and ought to be sufficient
security against hasty, passionate, or capricious action to their
injury. But as his interests and theirs are to a considerable
extent identical, the claims of humanity are supplemented by
selfish reasons.

It is a short-sighted view that we take of our relations to our
fellows when we say, " If they will be foolish, they must take
the consequences of their folly. 77 The vessel to which their


fortunes are committed bears ours also; we are united with
them in the management, and are necessarily, as members of the
same political society, linked to the same destiny. If folly on
their part would injuriously affect them, it concerns us to pre
vent it if we can ; and if the folly is committed, then to guard
as much as possible against the injurious consequences. The
experiment we are making in self-government is to some extent
involved in every unnecessary controversy that -springs up to
embitter the relations of classes in the civil state ; and we neither
get rid of the attendant dangers nor to any extent diminish
them by turning our backs and refusing to consider the causes
from which they spring. It is a momentous fact when a great
body of laborers throw down the tools of their business, even
though it be done under an entirely mistaken view of their
rights or wrongs or interests ; and, willingly or unwillingly, we
must share the consequences of their mistake or their folly.
That they are foolish, instead of being an excuse for turning
away from them, ought rather to remind us of a duty to aid
them. A foolish man must be expected to do foolish things;
nothing but curing the folly will prevent it. But the folly itself
is likely to be a consequence of unavoidable conditions.

Labor, the world over, has always in different degrees been
the servant of capital ; and generally, when not enslaved by law,
the remuneration has been so slight that accumulations were
nearly impossible. Any untoward circumstance might then re
duce the laborer to destitution ; and if destitute he might better
be slave than free, for the slave must be supported by the master,
when the free laborer might be left to starve. Circumstances
have made America the paradise of the laborer ; but at present
there is plenty of real destitution, and probably still more that is
simulated for purposes of beggary or crime. But when appeal
is made to our charity on behalf of classes apparently des
titute, whether we respond or refuse, we may wisely reflect that
the appeal is for those who, whether deserving or not, are joint
rulers with us of this magnificent and wealthy country. Hitherto
the joint rule has been beneficent ; but to insure its continuing
so, it is needful to take all possible precautions against foolish
and disquieting actions. Persons who are both idle and needy
maybe thinking dangerous thoughts as well as foolish thoughts;
but their folly is of itself a danger. A body of strikers may be
taught by destitution the folly of their course, but destitution is


not likely to impress their minds with the conviction that the
business is exclusively that of their employers. On the con
trary, poverty and want, coming upon them from the stoppage
of wages, are severe and constant reminders of their personal
interest ; and it is inevitable that they should suffer under a
sense of wrong if they and their families cease to receive the
means of subsistence from the business, for reasons the justice
of which is not apparent to them. And what they may be think
ing under a sense of wrong concerns us all ; for the evolution of
law is from below, and the rule that finally prevails is worked
out by the gradual operation of mind upon mind. And when
the right-thinkers and the wrong-thinkers are all busy propagat
ing their ideas and their theories, their influence respectively
will depend largely upon the state of mind of those they address.
With a discontented people, the wrong-thinkers are certain to be
most influential, and they may therefore come to have the mak
ing of our laws. The importance of preventing any considerable
discontent is obvious j and it ought to be equally obvious that
the best security for capital is in cordial relations between those
who possess it and those whose labor gives it satisfactory em
ployment, and that the best protection for a state is in steadfast
and remunerative industry. A condition of organized antago
nism in any particular business is prima facie one of mutual
folly ; much as would be the antagonism of men to women as
classes, of parents to children, of street to street in a city. Its
existence is evidence that a wrong exists for which some one
should find a remedy ; and if one party is superior to the other
in intelligence, it is upon that party that the duty to search for
a remedy is specially incumbent.

It is sometimes our boast that in this country we have given
to our possessions a protection that is found nowhere else j for
the Government itself, even in the greatest emergencies, cannot
impair the obligation of contracts, or take from the most
humble citizen his property. But as the benefit of this pro
tection is reaped by those who have possessions, the Constitution
itself may come to be regarded by considerable classes as an
instrument whose office is to protect the rich in the advantages
they have secured over the poor, and one that should be hated
for that reason. Mr. Gladstone, with the power of Parliament
behind him, when landholdings are oppressive, forces better terms
from the landlords j and it is not difficult to make classes that


conceive themselves oppressed believe that a government that
is powerless to give such relief is unworthy their support. Then,
all of us have been more or less indignant at the plunder of the
national treasury in the interests of certain railroads, and at the
watering of stocks upon which the public pay the dividends. But
the unreflecting mind is liable to identify all corporations with
those that are justly subject to complaint, or even to go further
and condemn all that have capital as robbers and plunderers,
because a few of the most conspicuous have been so. A charter
of government that the people in some period of madness may
tear to shreds is poor security, if such notions become preva
lent. Property is safe when it is generally possessed, so that
the people can perceive that they participate in the benefits of
existing institutions ; and it is not safe otherwise.

The tendency of events at this time is unmistakably in the
direction of larger importance to organized labor in the man
agement of public affairs j and this looks to a control of busi
ness by law in a manner that may threaten disaster. It is a
dangerous tendency, because it falsely assumes a necessary
antagonism in tie interests of employer and employed; and
the assumption brings about conflict where the real interests
are substantially identical. Then strikes and lock-outs occur,
which stagger the prosperity, not of the business merely, but
of the state.

The remedy for such a state of things is not so manifest as
the evils ; it will never be found until employers recognize how
intimately they are concerned with the welfare of those whose
labor they employ, and how important it is that their relations
should be on a basis satisfactory to both. In some cases this
has been accomplished by giving labor some share in the
control, as well as in the profits, of business ; but this is not
likely to become general, so as to embrace all grades of labor.
In some cases, tribunals of arbitration have been established
for the determination of controversies between laborers and
their employers. This, to the extent that it is acted upon and
made effectual, secures what is of the very highest importance
in every occupation self-rule by a government in which all
who are interested participate. It may be a long time before
the idea of true self-rule will be readily accepted by either side ;
but every instance of it is a positive gain to the state, and has a
humanizing as well as an educating influence. It does some-


thing to bridge an opening chasm, and constitutes a pledge of
peace for which the family of every man concerned would be
surety. It should do something also toward protecting laboring
classes against the kites and vultures of society, which now
take advantage of labor troubles to prey upon them. And per
haps it should do even more toward giving assurance that, from
the discontent and confusion of mind springing from labor
controversies, and their attendant privations and suffering,
nothing that is radically mischievous shall be formulated and
at length put in force by our law-makers, the people.



THE traveler that goes from Nauplia to Argos, passes, on his
right, several rocky heights that lie in close proximity to one
another and stand forth like islands from the marshy ground.
On the lowest and flattest of them, at a distance of hardly a
mile from the gulf, is the most ancient citadel of Tiryns, now
called Palaeocastro, the mythic birthplace of Hercules, and the
residence of many mighty legendary kings. The origin of Tiryns
belongs to a remote prehistoric period. In the time of Homer,
the city was very old, deprived of its autonomy, and a vassal to
Argos. My excavations have proved that the palace of the ancient
Tirynthian kings, which occupies the whole upper citadel, had
been destroyed in prehistoric times. Its ruins lay buried in the
debris, its site had remained uninhabited, and the ancient
acropolis had stood desolate and deserted in the midst of the small
and insignificant lower city that surrounded it. Nevertheless,
Homer expresses his admiration of the citadel-walls by the
epithet T^xtos^a (" walled ") that he gives to Tiryns. Through
out classical antiquity, these walls were considered a marvel.
Pausanias (ix., 36) places them, as a miraculous work, on a level
with the Pyramids, for he says : " The Hellenes are bent on admir
ing foreign things much more than those they have in their own
country, and thus it has occurred to ancient authors to describe
minutely the Pyramids of Egypt, whilst they have not deigned
to write a syllable of the treasury of Minyas (at Orchomenus), or
the walls of Tiryns, which deserve the same admiration." Far
ther on he says (ix., 36), regarding the walls of Tiryns : " The
wall, which is the only remainder of Tiryns, was built by the
Cyclopes. It consists of rude stones, each of which is so large
that a team of two mules cannot move even the smallest of them
from the spot. The interstices are filled up with small stones in
order to consolidate the large blocks still more in their position/'



These stones are, on an average, about six feet six inches long, and
three feet broad, and, judging by the remains, the height of the
wall seems to have been about forty-eight feet.

According to Apollodorus (ii., 2, 1), Pausanias (ii., 16, 4), and
Strabo (viii., 372), Proetus, King of Tiryns, sent for the Cyclopes,
seven in number, who came from Lycia to build him the walls
of Tiryns. By these or other Cyclopes, according to the legend,
many other similar buildings in Argolis must have been erected,
and especially the walls of Mycenae, in consequence of which
Euripides (" Orestes," 965) calls the whole of Argolis the Cyclo
pean land, and designates the houses of Mycenae (" Iphigenia in
Tauris," 845), and Mycenae itself (" Iphigenia in Aulis," 152, 265,
1500, 1501), as Cyclopean edifices. Tiryns is also called by Pindar
(fragmenta, 642, ed. Boeckh) xoxXuma rcpoftopa (" Cyclopean court
yard"). But it is especially remarkable that we find in He-
sychius Tipovfoov uXtv&eofa, that is to say, " the Tirynthian brick-
building/ 7 for, as we shall see, this is in curious accordance with
the construction of the grand prehistoric palace that I have
brought to light at Tiryns.

Tiryns being near the sea, and in a plain so low that the road
on the west side of the citadel is ten feet above sea-level, it makes
on all travelers the impression that in classical times it must*
have been washed by the sea, and that the marshy tract of land
that now separates the citadel from the gulf must be alluvial
accession of comparatively modern date. But this is a mistake,
as is proved by the Cyclopean remains of a prehistoric city and
its mole on the sea-shore, about a mile and a quarter from Tiryns.
It is true that the ancient port has now grown shallow, being
hardly one foot deep ; but it seems impossible that the ancient
mole could have extended, three thousand years ago, more than
three hundred feet farther into the sea than it does now. There
can be no doubt that the rock of Tiryns has once been washed
by the sea, but at a remote prehistoric time.

The myth of Hercules 7 birth at Tiryns, and of the twelve
labors imposed upon him by Eurystheus, King of Mycenae, finds
its explanation in his double nature as Sun-god and hero. It is
but natural that he, the strongest of all heroes, should be fabled
to have been born within the most powerful walls, which were
considered to be the work of supernatural giants ; and as Sun-
god he must have had, in the plain of Argos, at least as many
sanctuaries as his successor, the prophet Elias, now has, who


ascended to heaven in a chariot of flames, and who, therefore,
cannot be anything but a Sun-god, for in antiquity, as now,
the marshy lowlands engendered pestilential fevers, and could
only be cultivated by incessant human labor and by the beneficial
influence of the sun. According to the legend, the first king of
Tiryns was Prcetus, brother of Acrisius, King of Argos. Having
been expelled by Acrisius, Prostus went to lobates, King of
Lycia, whose daughter Antcea he married, and who sent with
him an army, to be crowned King of Tiryns. The legend of this
mythic king, whose date would be about 1400 B. c., is confirmed
by Homer (Iliad, VI., 157-170), who informs us that Bellero-
phon of Corinth came to the court of Proetus at Tiryns. Here
he met with an adventure similar to one that befell Joseph in
Egypt $ for Queen Antaea fell deeply in love with the stranger,
whom, as Homer says, the immortals had given beauty and
graceful manly strength. Pope translates the passage thus :

''For him Anteea burned with lawless flame,
And strove to tempt him from the paths of fame:
In vain she tempted the relentless youth,
Endued with wisdom, sacred fear, and truth.
Fired at his scorn, the queen to Proetus fled,
And begged revenge for her insulted bed:
Incensed he heard, resolving on his fate ;
But hospitable laws restrained his hate.
To Lycia the devoted youth he sent,
With tablets sealed that told his dire intent.
Now, blest by ev'ry power who guards the good,
The chief arrived at Xanthus' silver flood :
There Lycia's monarch paid him honors due ;
Nine days he feasted, and nine bulls he slew.
But when the tenth bright morning orient glowed,
The faithful youth his monarch's mandate showed:
The fatal tablets, till that instant sealed,
The deathful secret to the king revealed.
First, dire Chimeera's conquest was enjoined ;
A mingled monster, of no mortal kind ;
Behind, a dragon's fiery tail was spread;
A goat's rough body bore a lion's head ;
Her pitchy nostrils flaky flames expire ;
Her gaping throat emits infernal fire.
This pest he slaughtered (for he read the skies,
And trusted Heaven's informing prodigies).
Then met in arms the Solymssan crew
(Fiercest of men), and those the warrior slew.
Next the bold Amazon's whole force defied;
And conquered still, for Heaven was on his side.

VOL. cxxxix. NO. 337. 38


Nor ended here his toils : His Lycian foes,
At his return, a treacherous ambush rose,

Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 50 of 60)