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Europe. While the prudential check will thus
operate to diminish the ratio of normal increase,
the same causes will affect the stream of im-
migration which will slacken and at length cease
altogether. The race in population will then be
between a reasonable and highly civilised people


restrained from marriage by numerous considera-
tions of the most complex character, and an ir-
rational and uncivilised negro community, whom
no prudential check on population affects, and who
can live and be happy on the simple elements
of sunshine and sweet potatoes.



THE Irish question is as burning a one in
American as in English politics, and I cannot help
thinking it more hopeless in the States than here,
from the difficulty of withdrawing concessions
which have once been made. Mr. Edward O'Brien,
in reply to a letter of mine in the Times, has in-
sisted that the most progressive and prosperous
cities in America New York, Chicago, and San
Francisco are just those in which the population
of Irish birth and descent is largest in proportion,
and would have us infer that to this element their
prosperity is chiefly due. As reasonably might we
argue that the prosperity of London and Liverpool
was due to the Irish, who are the poorest and
most unmanageable part of their population. The
splendid commercial situation of New York,


Chicago, and San Francisco, and the marvellous
energy of the American population, are the cause
of their prosperity. It is because they are rich that
the Irish collect, in them. They live almost
exclusively in the towns, and although in Ireland
they complain of not possessing land, yet in
America they will not accept land for cultivation,
though they may obtain it at a nominal price, or
for nothing. The majority of the Irish of New
York differ little from the same class in English
cities ; they are mostly illiterate, and the secret of
their power is not in their energy or numbers, but
that the long and absolute rule of the priests has
accustomed them to vote solid as they are bid.
The voters of the city are two hundred and fifty
thousand, and of these the Irish are probably little
more than a fifth ; but the determination of their
leaders, and their own ignorance and political
ineptitude, enable the disreputable minority to
triumph over the wealth, culture, and intelligence
of the disunited majority. No more grotesque
illustration of the failure of universal suffrage to
attain the result which alone would justify it could
possibly be found. The Irish Catholics of America
are Democrats almost to a man, but this is an
accident due to a national characteristic which is
illustrated in the well-known story of the Irishman


who being asked, on his first landing at New York,
what were his politics, replied that he knew nothing
of politics, but that he was against the Government.
The Republicans having held office ever since the
war, the Irish have naturally joined the ranks of
the opposition. It would be a mistake to imagine
that political purity prevails where there is no con-
trolling Irish element. New York has been cited
as a convenient illustration of the evils of the
American system. But leave civilisation behind
and go to the far West, to a new town, like
Cheyenne, in Wyoming, and every form of
electoral corruption will be found there rampant,
and votes sold shamelessly and as openly as sheep
in the public market. The Irish are far more un-
popular in America than they are in England ; and
little sympathy for their grievances is felt or
expressed ; for the Americans are far too practical
a race not to rate at their true value the utterances
of interested demagogues such as O'Donovan
Rossa and Parnell. The language used in
Dynamite League meetings in New York, and
the criminal actions which follow, are alike
viewed with indignation and disgust by the whole
American community ; but the weakness of Demo-
cratic Government is such that the respectable
majority do not dare to crush or even silence these


enemies of the human race, and allow them, without
molestation, not only to preach and plot arson
and murder, but to carry them into execution. No
civilised Government should tolerate for a day the
open preaching of murder, and America must not
be surprised if her protection, not of political
offenders, but of common assassins, results ere
long in seriously straining her relations with this

It is a happy circumstance that the self-com-
mand and moderation of the English people are
such that a long series of atrocious outrages has
failed to arouse any wide-spread hostility to
Ireland. Englishmen realise that Irish troubles
are in great part due to the selfish and unworthy
policy of past years, while it is impossible that the
Irish should be unpopular when (putting Messieurs
les assassins aside) there is no more delightful,
lovable, and quick-witted race in the world. But
we have not suffered from them as the Americans
have suffered ; and were London, as is New York,
in the hands of a gang of Irish adventurers, our
patience might be tried too sorely. Mr. Parnell
hopes in the next Parliament to command the
political situation ; but as his avowed programme
includes the rejection of allegiance to the Queen
and dismemberment of the empire, he must not be



surprised if both parties unite in temporarily,
and so far as imperial questions are concerned,
disfranchising constituencies who return members
pledged to destroy and degrade the country.
When the Irish leaders cease to demand what no
party could grant them without immediate political
suicide, they will find Englishmen disposed to
render them full justice, and such a measure of
local ar;d municipal self-government as prevails in
England, and is consistent both with imperial
rights and with the duty of protection, we owe to
the loyal minority in Ireland. When the time for
considering this question shall arrive and it will
not be until the Irish leaders abandon the open
profession of treason the precedent of America,
both in its war to prevent national disintegration
and in the virtual independence of each unit of the
Federal body, will doubtless receive full attention
from the Liberal Government. In the ears of the
orators of the Opposition, who habitually speak of
the Irish as of some savage people with whom we
were at open war, the words compromise and
concession sound weak and criminal. But when
History writes the annals of the nineteenth century
and the voice of passion is still, the policy of the
Liberal Government towards Ireland, its generosity
in the presence of ingratitude, its justice and self-


possession amidst the fierce storm of party abuse,
will be held its best title to honour.

Since the above remarks were written London
has been startled -by the partial destruction of the
Victoria Railway Station by dynamite, and by
the synchronous attempt to destroy the stations
of Charing Cross, Ludgate Hill, and Paddington.
It has been curious to note the comparative in-
difference with which these crimes have been
regarded by the people of London. There has
been no panic and but little excitement ; while
it has been generally felt that strong language
directed against the dynamiters would be as il-
logical as abuse of wolves engaged in their natural
occupation of ravaging the sheep-folds. The ex-
planation is to be partly found in the enormous
size of London, the districts of which know as
little of each other as if they were situated in
different countries. The unit in a body of five
million persons regards with comparative equa-
nimity an outrage directed against the entire
community. The doctrine of chances protects
him from being blown into the air. But while
England watches with contempt the efforts of
the dynamiters to pose as heroes in the eyes of
the Irish helps of New York, whose wages they
hope to divert^to their own pockets, considerable

K 2


irritation has been excited by the attitude of
America. Indeed, the great Republic has never
cut a more sorry figure ; and its struggles to
appear impartial, virtuous, and the sacred asylum
of oppressed patriotism, are rather subjects for
amusement than anger. The poor rags with which
the New York Press has striven to cover its
political nakedness are threadbare indeed. We
are told that neither municipal nor international
law meet the supposed exigencies of the case;
that the law cannot act against the assassins
without clear and irrefragable proof in each
particular case ; that no practical way out of
the difficulty has been suggested ; that political
refugees must be protected, however objectionable
their modes of argument ; that the British Govern-
ment declined to surrender Orsini, whose case was
identical with that of the dynamiters, and that
it would be illogical for England to expect
America to take action where she had previously
refused to move. It is possible that the American
Government may be less timid than the Press,
and may find sufficient courage to defy the Irish
vote, and insist that those who live beneath its
flag and claim its protection shall refrain from
the open preaching and practice of murder but
a Presidential election is at hand, and those who


know America best expect least from its govern-
ment. The Alabama precedent, in accordance
with which the English paid extravagant com-
pensation for damage inflicted on American
commerce by ships of war which had been
allowed to arm in British ports, ,is, naturally,
declared in the States to be inapplicable. But
the nature of arbitration would not allow the
Americans to be themselves the judges of this
question ; and an impartial umpire, whether it
were France, or Brazil, or Germany, might hold
that the Government which allowed public sub-
scriptions for murder and outrage ; which saw
the assassins arrange their crimes, and glory, in
the face of the world, in their perpetration, was
fully as liable to be called upon for the amplest
compensation as was the British Government,
which, in a careless moment, and uncertain of the
power of its municipal law, allowed the Alabama
to leave its shores. There is no real doubt as
to the identity of the assassins. If a dozen men,
such as John Devoy, of the Irish Nation ; Patrick
Ford, editor of the Irish World ; P. J. Sheridan,
the friend of Mr. Parnell, and connected with
the same paper; O'Donovan Rossa and Patrick
Joyce of the United Irishmen were arrested and
sent to prison in default of sufficient guarantees


of future good behaviour, no great injustice would
be done. But so long as the annoyance and
danger affect England alone, America does not
take the trouble to move. The day will come
when American men and women and children
will suffer from the dynamiters' activity. Then
Judge Lynch, whose methods Englishmen refuse to
follow, will have an interview with these New
York editors, ending with a short shrift and the
nearest telegraph pole.

The difficulties and dangers which necessarily
accompany manhood suffrage are, in America,
intensified by the enormous emigration and the
law of naturalisation under which aliens are
admitted as citizens after five years' residence.
The consequence of this provision, which, as in
the case of Michael Mulhooly, is frequently
evaded, is that a large number of persons are
annually admitted to all the rights of citizenship
before they have become American in sympathy
or sentiment, with the tendency to form separate
political groups looking only to the interests of
their own class or nationality. Thus a number
of imperia in imperio grow up, German, Scandi-
navian, or Irish, bringing, as we have seen with
the last-named, confusion into the Federal Govern-
ment, and fighting from beneath its shield against


their private enemies. The Germans, in America
as elsewhere, are a sober, honest, and intelligent
body, and have brought the land of their adoption
its most valuable contingent. But they are rather
in than of the American world. They do not
intermarry with Americans ; they have their
separate societies and amusements ; and as they
now number some ten millions, there will at no
distant date be a larger German population in
America than in Europe, whose sympathies must
more or less affect European politics. To a less
degree these remarks apply to the Scandinavian
emigrants, who, in States like Minnesota, are
numerous. They have in no way changed their
nationality with their climate, and the Swedish
charge d'affaires at Washington told me that
they were continually referring to him in their
difficulties instead of to the authorities of their

Difficulties such as these may be successfully
solved ; but there is one legacy of the war, in the
negro vote, which will only become more in-
tolerable by the lapse of time, for the reason
that the African race is extremely prolific,
and, under existing conditions, may be expected
to increase more rapidly than any other element
of the heterogeneous mass of American citizens


The position of the negro is anomalous and
embarrassing. Without referring to the multiplied
researches of the Anthropological Society on the
capacity of the African races, it may generally be
asserted that the negro is as fit for the franchise
as the monkey he closely resembles. He has one
or two good qualities and many bad ones. He
makes a very good waiter if in firm hands, but
is usually spoilt by American familiarity, which
in his small mind breeds contempt, so that the
head waiter at a restaurant give himself more
airs than an English duke. For any occupation
requiring higher intellectual powers than blacking
boots or waiting at table the vast majority of
negroes are unfit. A few of the best struggle
into the professions and there fail, though I
remember at Washington some cases of partial
success ; while one coloured female lawyer of much
vivacity roundly declared, during the recent civil
rights discussion, that the negroes were the
superior race in America. Since the war they
have largely increased, and now number some
six millions of uneducated and unimprovable
persons, as useless for the purposes of civilisation
as if they were still wandering naked through the
African jungle. Slavery is an accursed thing,
but it is rather as degrading the higher race of


slaveholders than as brutalising the slaves that
it must be condemned. There is no more natural
equality among races than individuals, and im-
perial peoples have to use up some of the weaker
and poorer in their political manufactories. The
Nemesis of slavery was not exhausted in the civil
war. Its evil fruits are still to be gathered by
the American people, who have in their midst
this ever-growing mass of savagery which they
hate and despise, and to which they were com-
pelled to give the rights of citizenship. For
although it sounds well to speak of the war as
the protest of the North against slavery, the
emancipation of the slaves was never intended by
the Americans. They then cared for the negroes
no more than now, when they would be delighted
to carry the whole race to the middle of the
Atlantic and sink them there. The North was
driven into war, much against its will, by the
threats, the insults, and the hostile acts of the
South. Abraham Lincoln, in his inaugural address
as President, repeated and emphasised his former
declaration that " he had no purpose, directly or
indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery
in the States where it existed." And when the
war was over and the victory won, he was far too
shrewd to desire to admit the negroes to the


franchise. This fatal measure was taken in sheer
self-defence to swamp the Southern vote, which
would otherwise have restored the intolerable
situation previous to the war. Since that day
the miserable negro has been the tool and sport
of every party ; now petted, now kicked ; his
strong limbs and feeble brain at the service of
any demagogue who might best know how to
tickle his vanity and arouse his passions. If he
were other than himself he would be a fit object
for compassion ; but he is of too low a type to
be unhappy, and is probably the only man who
laughs to-day in America.



THE administration of justice in the States, on
which I have alreadyincidentallyremarked, demands
some further notice, for it contains the surest test
of the measure of freedom enjoyed by a nation.
However debased may be the standard of popular
morality, and however low the ideal of national
duty, that people is still free among whom the
judgment seat is pure and unaffected alike by the
passion of the mob or the influence of the
Government. But, however bravely a people may
flaunt its national flag, it is not yet free or has
ceased to be so when its judges prostitute their
sacred functions ; when they are the hired servants
of corrupt and infamous adventurers; when juries
are bought and sold ; where the poor are condemned
and the rich are criminal with impunity ; and
when the outraged people have their ultimate and


only refuge from the infamy of the Courts in
those parodies of justice which, under the name of
Lynch Law, are as much the disgrace of America
as the outward sign of its moral decrepitude.
That this is the condition of the administration
of what is termed justice in many of the States
it is impossible to doubt, or that it has accom-
panied a general depreciation in the standard
of public virtue. The contemporary press pro-
claims it daily in a thousand newspapers, and
novelists and essayists are equally frank. Mr.
Grant White, who, while an untrustworthy witness
on English manners is both a competent and
courageous one with regard to America, writes as
follows :

" The deterioration in morals is so certain and so well-known
that no one thinks of disputing it. To look through a file of
one of our leading newspapers for the last fifteen years is to
be led to the conclusion that personal honesty has become the
rarest of virtues in the United States, except public probity,
which seems no longer to exist. The very ruins of it have
disappeared. Our State legislators, instead of being com-
posed of men to whom their constituents looked up, are now
composed of men upon whom their constituents look down
not second-rate, nor even third-rate, but fourth- and fifth-rate
men, sordid in morals and vulgar in manners, who do politics
as a business, for the mere purpose of filling their own
pockets. No one thinks of disputing this more than the
presence of the blood-sucking insects of summer. Congress
itself is openly declared by our own journals to be, because


it is known to be, the most corrupt [body in civilised Chris-
tendom. Within the last fifteen years we have seen men
occupying the highest positions in the Government of the
United States, who were not only purchasable, but who had
been purchased, and at a very small price. I know what I
say, and mean it. The Cabinets, during the same period,
have been so rotten with corruption that the presence in
them of two or three men of integrity could not save them.
Worse even than this, judges are openly called Mr. This-one's
judge or Mr. That-one's ; their owner being generally the
controlling stockholder and manager of some great corpora-
tion which coins wealth for him and his satellites by schemes
of gigantic extortion."

The protest of the American people against this
prostitution of justice is Lynch law, which many
apologists have attempted to justify on the ground
that in new communities, and especially in those
which have attracted, in mining districts, an ex-
ceptionally brutal, lawless and dangerous class of
settlers, the more respectable portion of the com-
munity is compelled, in self-defence, and to maintain
those elementary principles of society without which
an assembly of men is no better than a pack of
wolves, to arm themselves with the powers which the
law is unable to wield, and punish offenders sum-
marily and severely. This justification is sufficient,
and indeed complete so far as those communities are
concerned the conditions of which are so primitive
that the law is necessarily silent and the social
instinct of self-preservation takes its place. But a


traveller may go far in America to find circum-
stances such as these. Perhaps in towns like
Austin and San Antonio, on the very borderland
of civilisation, lynching may still be a necessary
evil : but in the rudest mining districts of the
Rocky Mountains I have found the general popu-
lation as orderly as elsewhere. No doubt if
curiosity or amusement take the traveller into
gambling saloons at midnight in Silverton or
Leadville he will do well to avoid giving offence to
his rough companions ; but the average miner is a
pleasant fellow enough, and there are many quarters
of London, Paris or New York more dangerous to
a well-dressed stranger than the wildest mining
town in the Western States. Nor is lynching at all
confined to such districts. Few days pass without
the newspapers recording lynchings in Southern or
Western States, generally with indifference, often
with approval. In October last, within two or
three days, I noted several such cases which
attracted no particular attention. In one, in
North Carolina, a negro, in a quarrel with a white
man named Redmond, shot him dead. Campbell,
the negro, was arrested. The same night a band of
thirty masked men took him from the jail and
hanged him to a tree, doing their work so quickly,
and it may be supposed so entirely with the


connivance and consent of the jail officials, that
the occurrence was not known till Campbell's body
was found dangling from the tree at daylight.
"Everything" (says naively the local newspaper)
" is quiet now." A day or two before, what
the journals call " an effective but unusual
punishment" was inflicted upon a negro of the
name of Lewis Wood, who had been convicted
of outraging a young coloured girl. The mob
waited at the Edgerly station for the train
conveying the prisoner, dragged him a short
distance from the line, chained him to a tree,
covered him with pine knots and chips, and burnt
him to death. About the same day at Lafayette,
Indiana, an old man named Jacob Nell, who had
confessed to the murder of a young girl, Ada
Atkinson, was with difficulty saved from the mob.
The crime seemed to me so motiveless that, in
England, a verdict of acquittal on the ground of
insanity would have been probably given : but the
mob were excited and demanded blood. The
local paper observed calmly that the mob appearing
to have no leader, " it was probable that the law
would be allowed to take its course." Whether the
old maniac was torn to pieces or hanged I cannot
say. I did not follow his fortunes further. Such
cases are too common in America to excite more


than a passing interest. The inveterate dislike to
the negro on the part of the white population in the
Southern States is shown very clearly in these out-
rages. The assault or the manslaughter committed
by a white man is often passed over altogether by
the community. The unfortunate negro, whose
passions are strong and uncontrolled by education
or self-respect, has no such immunity, and is ruth-
lessly strung up by Judge Lynch, or sometimes,
as we have seen, burnt alive.

As these lines are passing through the press, I
notice in the American telegraphic intelligence the
following announcement : " A negro who had
brutally murdered a woman near Austin, Texas,
was chased and captured. He was taken to the
scene of the crime by a lynching party of one
hundred, and confessed his guilt. He was then
roasted to death." The confession extorted under
such circumstances was probably worth neither
more nor less than those wrung from the victims of
the Inquisition previous to an auto-da-fe.

" It will be noticed," writes the New York Tribune, " that
the privilege of becoming furious because one of their race
has been killed by one of the other is strictly reserved to the
whites. The negroes are expected to be serene, if not grateful,
when negroes are killed by whites."

The conviction of eight " sturdy farmer boys "

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Online LibraryLepel Henry GriffinThe great republic → online text (page 8 of 11)