Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

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through her infidelity, is simply a loss of labor and service ;
and the seduction of a daughter is placed upon the same low
ground ; but all this, it is evident, is merely a fiction of the law.
It is all that it can do. Really, in either case it has nothing to



72 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

offer which an honorable man, under such a burthen of distress,
would care to accept. Upon the first revelation of his dishonor,
for such he feels it to be, the wretched man, the sport of a hun
dred conflicting emotions, resorts, as by a blind impulse, to the
readiest resource, and, spurning the slow processes of the law,
wreaks his vengeance upon the guilty head of the offender. No
body may say that this is wise, nor, indeed, that it is absolutely
just j but anybody may say, with perfect truth, that it is simply
natural. To kill is quickest and most convenient. But this
would be equally the impulse of the savage. Have religion,
wisdom, philosophy taught this outraged man nothing? The
religious man would remember the commandment, " Thou shalt
not kill." The wise would remember that another crime would
not in the least lessen the offense, and would only increase that
publicity which is one of the sharpest stings of the whole affair.
The philosophical man, with an intuitive feeling that he had
made a mistake, and that the love of his heart had been foolishly
bestowed, would profit by the experience and nerve himself to
bear with indifference the gossip, pitiful or contemptuous, of the
world. Making all due allowance for the infirmity of human
nature, even under the best conditions, it still remains that a
desire for revenge, amounting to a homicidal frenzy, is neither
religious, wise, nor philosophical. There is nothing, therefore,
to make its indulgence anything less than criminal. The com
mission of any crime argues a degree of intellectual weakness.
If the brains of thieves, defaulters, and common cheats were prop
erly balanced, such characters would not find themselves so often
in the penitentiary. In these days of wild political notions
many a deluded speculator may argue himself into a belief that
property is theft, and that a portion, at least, of the estate of his
neighbor belongs to himself ; but if he carries his theory into
practice and helps himself to what he deems a restitution, he is
locked up in spite of his fine dialectics. The law, while it has
not been regardless of the weakness of man, and sometimes
makes for it considerable allowances, must still, in the nature of
things, presuppose the responsibility of every criminal. In the
case under discussion it has fixed the punishment of the adul
terer. There was a time when it would have been capital, but
the wisdom of the law has mitigated that penalty ; and he who
undertakes, of his private motion, to make it capital again,



PRIVATE VENGEANCE. 73

sets himself above the law, at his own risk, and should suffer
accordingly.

The various forms of private vengeance which have become
common in this country, are in many respects allied to the
Italian vendetta as it existed and may to some extent still exist
in Corsica and Calabria, and with modifications in Naples,
where, as has been said, " it is reduced to rule and recognized by
public opinion." It originated in Italy, no doubt, from a feeling
of the inadequacy of legal tribunals to avenge personal wrongs,
and from the fact that such wrongs were of an artificial charac
ter, and not to be righted by any possible judicial proceedings.
This matter of personal honor is a curious one, and might repay
discussion if there were opportunity for it here. It is compli
cated in Italy by a feeling of family honor, and feuds thus be
come hereditary ; while if a woman be seduced, the duty of re
venging the wrong falls upon the nearest male relative. Though
the violence of the Italian vendetta has been considerably re
duced, it is said that in Naples several persons are found daily
stabbed in the streets. Not one of them perhaps has been
robbed ; the killing has been purely a matter of personal ven
geance. The assassin, too, is protected by a popular sentiment
which would make it infamous for any person to give evidence
against him. Even when a victim has been wounded and Re
covers, though he knows very well who was his assailant, he never
denounces him. His lips are sealed by an unwritten code. In
many cases fair warning is given the offender. The whole bloody
irregularity is most regularly conducted, and the very beggars
who assassinate do so with a chivalry which contrasts strangely
with their barbarism. This, then, is comparatively an elevated
form of assassination. It is resorted to only after fair warning,
that the offending party may not be taken unawares. The ven
detta in this country, not only upon the frontier, but in civilized
towns and cities, has some of the cunning treachery of the abo
riginal tribes. Its victims are shot down suddenly in the street,
in their own homes, in the corridors of hotels, in the carriages of
railways, on the exchanges, or while they are traveling alone
upon the highway. He who knows that he has, by any violation
of an extra-judicial code, made himself amenable to this method of
revenge, may well walk in fear and trembling. Often it hap
pens that men must live in a kind of mutual fear. When Fisk



74 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

was shot in New York it was by one who thought that Fisk
intended to shoot him. The looseness, the uncertainty, the
recklessness, the possible misapprehension of this form of venge
ance, apart from higher considerations, is its condemnation.
To this we must add its radical inequity. The assassin pro
ceeds, it must be admitted, upon a perfectly just idea. There is
no possession of such value to a man as his life, and there is
good reason why we should pray to be delivered from sudden
death. Capital punishment, which we often regard as necessary
for the sake of example, may or may not be best defended logic
ally from that point of view ; but it rests upon something higher
upon the intrinsically precious character of life itself. The
Mosaic code, so often quoted in defense of the gallows, was based
upon this. Those who shed man's blood must give their own as
the only adequate reparation. This alone was right. This alone
could satisfy the demands of justice. This alone could be pleas
ing in the sight of the All-Just. Strangely mixed up with wrath
for the loss of honor, with a feeling of having been cheated at
cards, with disappointment at the adverse termination of a law
suit, with anger at the application of opprobrious epithets, at the
loss of a wife, at the ruin of a daughter, is this recognition, even
by the least cultivated mind, of the value of life. To take it from
an enemy is the only revenge worth having. In that way, and
in that only, can the fierce feud be adjusted.

It may seem paradoxical, but we are obliged to confess that
in this feeling of the value of life, entertained by those who
would most recklessly and rashly destroy it, we find the highest
hope of a mitigation, if not an abolition, of the evil which we have
been discussing. By a parity of reasoning, those who think that
the unlawful taking of life is the highest revenge which is within
their power, may all the more certainly be brought to a sense of
their own error when they find that society agrees with them in
their estimate, and will expect them upon the gallows to abide
by it. With every homicide unpunished life grows cheaper and
cheaper, so far as facility of vengeance is concerned, and yet
more and more important as murder becomes safer and safer.
The business of our tribunals is to raise it in the estimate
of mankind. For this judges and public prosecutors are ap
pointed and juries are impaneled. For this prisons are built,
"gallows erected, and the whole machinery of the criminal
courts put in motion. When we talk of the duty of making



PRIVATE VENGEANCE. 75

life safe, we mean that it should be made not merely valuable
but valued.

In newly settled and sparsely populated territories the prog
ress toward a regular administration of justice must be neces
sarily slow, but it ought not to be so in an educated and religious
community, or in States which have behind them the social cul
ture of centuries. It ought not to be so where courts of law have
been long established, and where provision for the punishment of
crime has been long upon the statute book. There is nothing
about which so much nonsense is uttered as Trial by Jury, but
the fact remains that it is a thoroughly artificial method, based
upon a condition of the race which no longer exists, and absurd
in many of its technical provisions. What was meant for a small
neighborhood, of identical interests, can hardly suffice for a
large commonwealth living under entirely different conditions.
But, whatever its deficiencies, it is the best we have or are likely
to have. Our trust therefore must be in juries more intelligent
and conscientious and courageous. At best, selected by chance,
they are merely representative. They may be no better and no
worse than the community from which they are drawn. To this
community we must look for that elevated sense of justice which
will not trifle with grave matters nor regard outrageous verdicts
with complacency. Let us hope, as the body politic is not in
capable of improvement, and change for the better not impos
sible, that we shall not look in vain !

There is, indeed, another side of the question. Sometimes,
when the inefficiency of the courts has frightened the public into
a serious apprehension for life and property, there is a sudden
revolt against the danger of a chronic maladministration of law.
It is a mixed feeling, partly of indignation at the perversion of
the forms of criminal procedure and partly of personal fear.
The March riots in Cincinnati afford us a timely illustration.
A murder had been committed for the purpose of robbery.
The prisoner had again and again confessed his guilt. Through
the cunning and adroitness of criminal lawyers he was found
guilty merely of manslaughter, and there was a reasonable sus
picion that the jury had been corrupted. Moreover, it was pain
fully evident that, through the frequent miscarriage of justice,
murder had become a common crime in Cincinnati, and the evi
dence of this was plain enough when in the jail of that city
there were not less than twenty-three persons either capitally



76 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

convicted or awaiting trial for a capital offense. It was not
strange, therefore, that the most respectable citizens should
assemble to consult together concerning the common safety.
The meeting, under the circumstances, may have been a mis
take, but if so, it was temperate, lawful, and orderly. Nothing
was said which could have incited a mob if the public feeling
had not been already aroused. What followed the destruc
tion of life and of public property, and the lamentable ineffi
ciency of the municipal authority is known to all. Our first
impulse is unsparingly to condemn the mob, but after uttering
all our platitudes about the sacredness of the law, we begin
to cast about for excuses and extenuations which shall make
the popular crime a virtuous sort of misdemeanor. In proof
of this we have only to refer to the newspapers, which always
keep as near as possible to popular opinion. All the editorial
comments which we have seen have been a see-saw between
censure of the jury which gave Bender his life, and of the mob
which would have taken it in defiance of the law.

It is hard that tribunals which the State has established for
the vindication of the statutes, and to which the majority yield
a cheerful obedience, should thus betray it into a gross and
dangerous inconsistency. Nothing could be more melancholy,
and nothing better calculated to arouse our profoundest fear.
Law should not only be just and certain, but it should also be
strong, imperative, and even despotic. When its administrators
become weak, hesitating, careless, or corrupt, it not merely fails
in its original purpose, but it beguiles the community, actuated
by the best of motives, into the perpetration of offenses against
its own majesty. We may regret ; we may condemn ; but we
ought not to be surprised. The honest and well-meaning and
peaceable feel that they have been betrayed. Their ideas of right
and wrong become hopelessly confused. They cease to reason.
All their civilization cannot save them from going back to barba
rism. They are ready to do wrong that good may come of it
the very worst fallacy which can mislead one man or many. But
while we can keep no terms with their frenzy, while we have no
resource but to treat them for the time being as wild beasts, it
is fair that we should remember the reason of their aberration,
and provide as well as possible against the recurrence of such
lunacy. Two figures will occur to every rational thinker. The
one is of Justice standing calm, mild, but inexorable, governed by



PRIVATE VENGEANCE. 77

immutable principles of right, deciding with scientific precision,
not swayed by clamor, not deceived by chicanery, and unmoved
by the baser temptations. The other is of Justice, still bearing
the name, and still wearing the ermine, however soiled and
bedraggled, false to all the traditions of the temple which it
desecrates, ready to be bought, easily deceived, reckless in its
decisions, thoughtless of the consequences of its shortcomings
a weak, inefficient, tottering, and distorted caricature of the
Themis to whom ancient and modern times have looked for
peace, prosperity, and progress, and have seldom looked in vain.
There is no safety for us except in courts which will bring us
back to this old reverence, and especially there is no safety in
suffering ourselves to be misled by our very virtues ; since riots
are only a reappearance of the same evil under a new and less
manageable form.

CHARLES T. CONGDON.



THE FUTURE OF THE NEGRO.



AT the close of the Rebellion it was expected that the negro
race would gradually disperse throughout the United States, and
lose its race identity and distinct local habitat. An examination
of the census shows that during the past twenty years there has
been practically no migration of the negro from his Southern
home. Excepting the southern counties of Illinois, Indiana, and
Ohio, in the entire territory of the North and West the annual
increase of negro population has been perceptibly lower than
the average annual increase of the negro race in the United
States. If the great body of the race, suffering from social
ostracism, poverty, and political oppression, has voluntarily re
mained within its present geographical boundaries, we may
assume that it will remain there permanently. What are those
boundaries? If a straight line should be drawn from the
northern border of Delaware to the north-eastern corner of
Kansas, and one from that point south to the Gulf of Mexico,
nineteen- twentieths of the negro race in America would be found
east and south of these lines. But taking the seven Atlantic
and Gulf States, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, we have a compact
territory, uniform in climate and resources, and inhabited by
two-thirds of all the negroes in the United States. The actual
occupancy of the soil and the providential adaptation of the
race to its physical surroundings, suggest that this territory will
be the permanent future home of the negro race.

The census of 1880 disclosed the fact that the native white
population had increased twenty per cent, in the past ten years,
and that the negro population had increased thirty-five per
cent, in the same time. Increasing two per cent, annually,
whites will double in every thirty-five years, while negroes, in
creasing three and a half per cent, annually, will double in every

78



THE FUTUEE OF THE NEGRO. 79

twenty years. Immigration of foreign or northern whites may
affect the future relation of the races, but such a theory finds
support neither in history nor in existing facts. Races have
migrated along the parallels of latitude, their northern or
southern movements being almost invariably limited by the
boundaries of the isothermal belts. In the year 1882-83,
400,000 foreigners landed in the United States ; of this number,
only 736 settled in the seven States named above. With due
allowance for foreign and northern immigration, it still seems a
reasonable conjecture that, adopting the ratios established,
within sixty years negroes will be in the majority in all the
South, and that one hundred years from to-day they will be
double the number of whites in every Southern State. The
following table indicates the present and estimated future popu
lation of the Atlantic and Gulf States :

Whites. Negroes.

1880 3,814,395 1880.. 3,721,481

1915 7,600,000 1900 7,400,000

1950 15,200,000 1920 14,800,000

1985 30,400,000 1940 29,600,000

1960 59,200,000

1980 118,400,000

Amalgamation is regarded by many as a possible solution for
our race difficulties. The theory has been advocated both in
this country and abroad, but no one has brought to its support
more thorough research and weight of statement than Canon
George Rawlinson of England. After basing encouragement
for distinct race amalgamation on mixtures of different family
stocks of the white race, Rawlinson plainly admits that the
American problem is the most difficult that has confronted a
civilized people, and that, with one exception, it has no parallel
in ancient history. For reasons which are evident, the advo
cates of amalgamation seldom cite modern instances. Ex
amples, however, are numerous. The Griquas of South Africa,
hybrids of Dutch colonists and Hottentots ; the Kuruglis of
Western Africa, of Turkish- Moorish descent; the Zambos of
Western South America, mongrels of mixed European, negro,
and indigenous American races 5 the Portuguese-Malay half-
castes of the East Indies ; the English-Maori half-breeds of New
Zealand ; the Dutch-Malay half-breeds of Java j the Mongolian
and Slavic mixture of Russian Asia ; the Portuguese and negro



80 THE NOETH AMERICAN REVIEW.

population of Brazil ; and the Mestizos of Mexico ; all are
examples of modern race fusion, but without an exception
they disclose results adverse to miscegenation. In no instance
does the mixed people show the mental vigor of the Caucasian
parent stock, and in most instances the mental and moral condi
tion of the half-castes is lower even than that of the inferior
parent stock. The following epitome of the results of amalgama
tion in this country was prepared by the late Dr. Sandif ord B.
Hunt, upon an examination of the brains of several hundred
persons, and shows respectively the state of hybridization and
the weight of brain in grammes : "Whites, 1,424 ; three-fourths
white, 1,390; one-half white, 1,334 j one-quarter white, 1,319 ; one-
eighth white, 1,308 ; one-sixteenth white, 1,208 ; negroes, 1,331.
Predominance of white blood increases cerebral development,
while the presence of one-quarter, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth pro
duces a brain capacity decidedly inferior to that of the pure negro.
The possibility of amalgamation is a different consideration,
In discussing this question, Canon Eawlinson and other misce-
genists have made a common initial blunder. They have as
sumed that the 6,500,000 negroes would gradually disperse
throughout the United States, and would be absorbed by the
43,000,000 whites. Present indications are against this assump
tion. The negro will doubtless remain in the seven States
designated. In cities and towns of 4,000 inhabitants and up
ward in those States, there are 234,427 negroes and 332,834
whites, leaving for the rural and village population, 3,487,000
negroes and 3,481,561 whites. Atlanta and Augusta are the
only inland cities in this entire territory, every other important
city being a sea-port. Negroes are very evenly distributed among
the whites, and the population is emphatically rural. This sug
gestion is offered: Southern estimates show that a legitimate
amalgamation is slowly beginning between the races. This will
continue. The negro is acquiring land, becoming educated,
gradually asserting and maintaining his legal and political
rights, and approaching more and more to the social level
of the whites. Fifty years from to-day, in the aggregate of
numbers and of wealth, the negro outside of the sea-port
cities will be the superior, the Caucasian the inferior race.
In the seven States the races are even now numerically equal,
and a general amalgamation would produce a mulatto stock in
which the negro physique and physiognomy would predominate.



THE FUTURE OF THE NEGRO. 81

Whites would be absorbed by negroes, not negroes by whites,
and the brain capacity of the mixed race would be little
superior to that of the pure negro. Fifty years hence, when
negroes will surpass whites as three to one, the mongrel race
will represent brain capacity decidedly inferior to the negro of
pure blood.

The plan of exporting and colonizing the race is less practic
able to-day than it was before Emancipation. The negro is a
citizen, and his own consent must be obtained before he can be
exported to Africa or elsewhere. He is proud of his citizenship,
and it is folly to expect that he will expatriate himself volun
tarily. Original suggestions as to his future can be of value only
as they are justified by existing facts. The negro is here ; his
legal equality is declared ; his home is in the South, and he
evinces no inclination to leave it. Forcible deportation is im
practicable ] numerically he is increasing more rapidly than the
whites; any general amalgamation is impossible. Amalgama
tion in the South is possible, probable, and in actual process of
fulfillment. Hence the whites must either amalgamate with
negroes, or they must migrate from the South, or they must re
main an inferior element and submit to negro supremacy.
The wealthy and enterprising whites will gradually migrate to
the border States or to the sea-board cities, while those who have
so far degenerated from their race-pride and race-spirit as to
prefer such supremacy to emigration will gradually be absorbed
or controlled by negroes. The policy that has controlled the re
lations of whites and negroes in the past has been legal and po
litical. It has been a policy of emergencies, requiring extraor
dinary measures for constantly recurring crises. The future
policy should prevent crises by removing, so far as possible, the
causes of race conflict ; and this desired result will be accom
plished in proportion as the important ethnological facts and
principles here considered are recognized in politics and em
bodied in law.

CHARLES A. GARDINER.



THE negro is physically a strong man. In his native land,

where the conditions of climate and food are favorable, his

stature is good, and his muscular development, though rugged

and ungraceful, is sinewy, tense, and powerful. In America he

VOL. cxxxix. NO. 332. 6



82 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

has gained greater height, more rotundity of limb, and greater
ease and smoothness of movement. Nothing in the census
reports indicates that the negro race in the United States will
not increase in numbers. Our colored population already num
bers more than six millions, and another decade will probably
show an increase of at least fifteen per cent.

For fifteen years every means that Congress could devise has
been supplied to the negro race to enable them to attain a condi
tion which will protect them in all the rights, liberties, and
privileges that are enjoyed by the whites. To the personal and
political power of the ballot have been added the guardian
ship of the Freedmen's Bureau, the Freedmen's Bank and its
branches, the civil rights statutes, and all the power of tyran
nical courts to enforce their alleged civil rights ; and still they
are no stronger as a race, and probably no better as individuals
than they were at the beginning of these efforts. The Supreme
Court has broken down this social legislation, as being contrary
to the Constitution ; the financial plan has resulted in disgrace
ful failure ; and Congress has just ascertained that the negro
cannot use the ballot for his own benefit, because his " appalling
illiteracy" prevents him from reading it. The latest expedient
of Congress is to appropriate $10,000,000 a year to educate the
children of 6,000,000 negroes, so that they can understand the
government which their more ignorant fathers are engaged in



Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 8 of 60)