Newspaper Page Text
@he flrbrnt <3ttirm\
Vol. 5. No. 18. PERPLEXITIES. TO MY FELLOW CONVICTS. How crooked is our life! Its ins and outs We cannot scan; Sow often do we say, •‘That’s just too late And spoils our plan.” How often we perplex ourselves, because S *«• Of efforts vain, Stry, without success, to make things come Round right again. disappointment will not let us hold The course we would, But throws us off from every hoped-for boon . That we think good. How little things perplex our onward path «cn From day to day, Seeming to render futile all our work, Stopping our way. Oh! could this crooked life be straightened out, r*' And every bit Met fairly by another, point to point In sequence fit; The difficulties then were not so hard i —i To meet and bear, Were there a carrying on of some wise plan, And purpose fair. What if the Master's plan be utter good, Too vast, in sooth, For us to grasp it with our puny powers? r~ In this grand truth. For such it is—although things look not so • To our weak sight Lies the true meaning of these crooked things If read aright. The source of all the discord that we feel Is that our will Is not made one with God’s, and so we strive To make life still A thing that we call good—a little good tm That we can know; Instead of in our ignorance content God’s way to go. NEMO. Tlie Decline of Our Workman. The manufacturing classes of this country doubtless present a much more favorable -condition of the workman than prevails in other countries. The men who are gener ally described as laborers—whether they work isolated or in bodies—occupy a higher level of life than the same class in the old world. We may pass by, as being in dis pute, the question of the protective system’s relation to this tact. The higher condition of workmen is partly a result of democratic institutions and the absence of social grades in society; partly also of the youth of this country and its abundance of natural boun ties. We have had the unexampled good fortune to be a young country rapidly de veloping wealth. A democratic level, a re publican simplicity, vast stores of undevel oped natural wealth, and a system of free schools and free churches, have probably conspired to produce a high grade of work men. We naturally desire to keep this feature of American society and industry. We note with alarm any sign that work men are dropping to a lower level. It is not exclusively a humanitarian feeling which prompts us to maintain our workmen on a high level. We have all come to be interested in the prosperity of this section of the community. The economic useful ness of a man may be as conveniently measured by what he consumes as by what he does. In fact, his consuming power is the more accurate measure of his value. It is not so much a question of the number of strokes per day of which he is capable, as of the power he has to buy and use what his fellows produce. In this country the work man’s consuming power is probably at least twice as great as it is in Europe. This means that forty per cent of our people buy twice as much as the corresponding forty per cent buy in Europe. The effect is to greatly enlarge the market which we are all supplying with various kinds of goods. The reduction of this growing section of our population to the European condition would cause a contraction of the market, and an arrest of our industrial development, such as we have never experienced. We should be able to make just as many goods as now, but the people who now buy them would be obliged to reduce their buying, and the re duction would make an appalling aggregate. If twenty millions of people should at once reduce their annual purchases by one-half, the effect would be a more complete bank ruptcy of us all than we have ever dreamed of. The reduction might come about slowly and with less peril; but even then the stag nation would be fatal to a large portion of the community. The truth is that we have a new factor in our industrial life, a new economic co-efficient. It is the well-paid workman, who is a relatively large con sumer. Relatively to population the mar ket we are all engaged in supplying is a Stillwater, Minn., 'Thursday, Dec. 10, 1891. much larger market than exists in Europe. We are built upon a foundation of which this well-paid laborer is an important part. We added an immense mass to this founda tion when we emancipated the slaves. We increased the demand for goods by the dif ference between the cost of supporting a slave and that of supporting a free man. The new factor is a sum to be estimated only by the study of our own country. It never before existed in any country. It is a fact without a precedent; and it is so large that the whole fabric of our prosperity rests upon it. Gradgrind may persuade himself that he does not care whether poor men can buy goods or not; but his persua sion to that indifference will give away just as soon as the poor cease to buy his goods. In short, Gradgrind cannot afford to see the buying power of workmen reduced with complacency. It means, whenever it be comes a general fact, ruin for Gradgrind. Whoever has anything or produces any thing has given bonds for the maintenance of workmen’s wages. Weil, then, the alarm has already been sounded; 1 do not refer to the “tariff ie form” —though that may be fatal —but to certain matters over which the tariff laws have no power. It is affirmed that the character, social status, aspirations and self-respect of workmen in this country has already fallen. An observer in a. manu facturing center recently said: “The change in ten years is frightful. The old hands have risen in life or gone west. The new hands live in smaller quarters, care less for the comfort of their families, and buy fewer goods of any kind. They read less, take newspapers more rarely, are less careful to dress well on Sunday, and see their chil dren in rags with a complacency which was unknown ten years ago. The new people are from Europe, and nine in ten of them have brought their old habits with them. Higher wages mean to them only more rum and more idleness.” We hope that this is an exaggeration. But even if it be only very partially true, it opens an unexpected vista, and an alarming one. The only way to maintain workmen’s wages is to keep up workmen’s characters. If the character grows debased the wages will drop to that lower level. A higher grade of living is the only possible security for higher wages. Workmen cannot long get high wages to spend in rum shops. Wages will sink to the level of their life. But if the common market is to suffer so great a loss as this fall in wages and con suming power would occasion, then we must all suffer. Nor is this all. The failure would be that of our civilization. We are, every way, in all sources, most deeply in terested in arresting the threatened decline of the American workman. Rameous. Imitating Great Men. In one of the cities of the northwest lived Mr. John Easyman, his wife, and their only son, Algernon. The latter, at the time of which I am writing, was twenty-two years of age, and his hobby was to imitate great men. Mr. Easyman had made his fortune while a railroad contractor, and to his wife, who prided herself upon being a person of good taste, he left the education of their son, Algernon. She, full of maxims and wise saws about books and their uses, de cided to educate him at home. With this end in view, she always was a ready patron of book-agents and their wares, and many an agent upon leaving her house regretted that there was not more people like good Mrs. Easyman in the world. However, in her library was to be found many tomes of advanced thought—rich stores of accumulated learning. Among them were the “Universal Instructors,” “Words and Ways of Great Men,” and “Gold For The Million, or How to Get Rich on Ten Cents a Day,” and many others to be had by subscription only. Well, to make a long story short, the tide of fortune turned against Mr. Easyman. His investments in stocks proved unlucky, although it was said that he was the best judge of a mule in that part of the country, and that he never got the worst end of a horse trade. His speculations in real estate were all failures, and this was the more surprising when it was known that he could estimate the contents of an embankment as accurately as could a civil engineer, and could tell to an hour the time it would take a given number of men and mules to re* move it. “ IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” Such was the state of affairs when Alger non Easyman resolved to retrieve the family fortunes. Direction was given his impulses on reading in the morning paper the following advertisement: WANTED—A young man ot good education and pleasing address to take charge of a Dry Goods establishment. Call or address 2760 Commercial street. “By jove,” said Algernon, “1 will write them a letter, doncherknow, and will see them in person to morrow. I am sure I will get the situation.” “I don’t feel so sure about that,” replied Mr. Easyman; “Mr. Sloe is out of town, and the business is in charge of his mana ager, Mr. Sharpe.” Speaking to his wife he said, “I wish, Elenaor, we had paid more attention to the education of Alger non.” “I’m sure there is time enough yet.” re plied his wife, “many men made their mark later in lift Caesar, you know, was forty five when Jv '..vgan the study of Greek and” — “Well, well.” said Mr. Easyman rising, “I hope he will soon make his mark.” Time. 10 a. m. ; place, office ofSloe&Co. Enter Mr. Algernon Easyman—“Ah, good morning, Mr. —ah —Sharpe, I believe.” “Well, sir, what can I do for you?” said the gentleman addressed. ‘ T called, doncherknow, in reply to your advertisement in yesterday’s paper. . Did you not receive my letter?” “Yes, I believe we did get something re sembling a letter. So you’re a son of John Easyman?” “Yes, and of good education and pleas ing address, doncherknow.” “You’re a dude.” “So was Lord Beaconsfield.” “Your writing and spelling are defective.” “So was the writing of Horace Greely, and Napoleon wrote that way purposely to conceal his bad spelling.” “You know nothing of mathematics.” “Neither did Lamartine. Boswell, or Combe; the latter being unable to master the multiplication table.” “Hem! Besides, you’re a drunkard and are immoral.” “Well, Daniel Webster and E. A. Poe liked a glass occasionally, and the immorali ties of Byron and Boccaccio didn’t prevent them from acquiring fame.” “But 1 fear that it will prevent you from acquiring fame. The imitation of the vices only of great men is no guarantee of genius. Go home and acquire some of the virtues of those men yon have named —the senten tiousness of Webster, the mathematical ac curacy of Napoleon and the lucidity of Lamartine and Byron—and then, even with their vices, you can command your salary. In fact, it was unnecessary, after sending such a letter, for you to apply in person. There is no businsss firm who would not pay to keep such a writer out of their em ploy rather than in it. The writing re sembles a section of a barb wire fence in the rear of a cyclone. There is plenty of conceit and assurance that does not recom mend you in the least. Incompetence and ignorance are plainly visible between the lines. A stammering sentence without a verb, a misspelled word, or capital mis placed, or all these together, says plainly, ‘The one that wrote me is ignorant and in competent.’” Lacon. A Convict’s Queer Story. “I beg your pardon, sir, but can I speak with you a few moments?” said a young man accosting a Republic reporter on the street yesterday. He was a fine-looking, athletic fellow, some 28 years of age, 6 feet high, well proportioned, possessed of a handsome, pleasant face, cleanly shaven, expressive dark eyes and black hair clipped close. “I am in distress and wish to ask— not for money but for advice. My name is Frank Joy, and while I have never com mitted a crime in my life I am, sir—” he hesitated and his face flushed, while his eyes became suffused with tears, "I am an ex-convict, though as God is my witness I was guiltless of any crime and most wrong fully and cruelly punished. Only last Thursday I was pardoned by the President, my alleged offense being a Government one, and I was turned adrift on the world, to be, as I find, avoided and spurned by all. for as you doubtless perceive, sir, 1 am still virtually in prison garb. I am nearly out of money, qpn find no work, have no friends Five Genta. and —my God, 1 do not know which way to turn or what to do! ” During this recital the reporter had no ticed his dress before he referred to it, and had recognized that he was, to all familiar with State Prison regulations, as markedly clothed in prison garb as if he still wore the striped uniform, it consisted of pantaloons and coat of dark, coarse material with small white stripe, a peak cap, with flaps for turning down, and a pair of brogan shoes. Being encouraged to continue his recital, he said: “I am by calling a telegraph operator and a newspaper correspondent. About May 1, 1890, I was engaged by Bok of New York, a well-known manager of a newspa per syndicate, to visit and write up the military forts of the West, public interest having been attracted to them by charges of gross mistreatment of the soldiers. I se cured this engagement through the kind ness and good oflices of Colonel John C. Bittiuger of the St. Joseph Herald. I started on my mission immediately, but got no further than Kansas City when misfort une came upon me. I was, on the infor mation of a man I never saw or heard of before, arrested on a charge of having forged the signature of this man to a money order and obtained the money on it. There were peculiar circumstanees in the case which it is needless for me to explain, that militated against my plea of innocence, and on the testimony of the prosecuting witness I was on the ninth day of May, 1890, con victed and sent to the penitentiary. Being guilty of no offense, I was naturally crush ed and humiliated with shame and mortifi cation at the life-long disgrace that had come upon me—so strangely and unexpect edly; but I bore up under it as well as I could and hoped for deliverance. How or in what form 1 could not tell, but, thank God. it came. “The man who had so grossly wronged me became conscious stricken, and, con fessing that he had put up a job on me and had cashed the money order himself, he surrendered to the Government authorities in Kansas City, where he now languishes in jail. 1 was accordingly pardoned by the President, as stated, last Thursday, and be ing supplyed with this suit of clothes and a few dollars I was given leave to depart. I took the next train for this city in hopes of finding employment. Coming down on the train 1 was soon made conscious that all who noticed me at once recognized that I was an ex-convict, and shunned me as they would a viper. Just before reaching Grand Avenue the conductor came tome and said: ‘See here, young fellow, if you do not want to be pulled again you had better leave the train at Grand Avenue, for as sure as you go down to the Union Depot the police will nab you.’ ‘T was greatly worried over this and pondered in mv mind what I should do. It occurred to me that perhaps the conductor was not as much interested in having me to escape trouble as he pretended, and that h had telegraphed to the city authorities that I would get off at Grand Avenue. Being impressed with this view, the more I thought of it, I finally determined not to follow his advice, but continue on the train to the Union Depot. I did so and was not molested; but 1 had hardly prodeeded a square up town when 1 was met by an of ficer and closely questioned before he would allow me to proceed. A like experience occurred to me every few blocks while in search of some place to stop, for it was no easy matter for me to find a lodging-place, as all seemed to know from whence I came. I have tramped this town all day, from place to place, hunting for work, but no one will listen to me or even give me an encouraging word. lam continually being tracked by detectives, and time and again to day have I been stopped and questioned and made to show my papers before al lowed to proceed. lam really now afraid to go back to my boarding house for fear I will find the police awaiting to apprehend me. If they do, I know that I am to be taken to the holdover where I will, without a hearing, be confined as ‘held for the chief,’ and kept there twenty-four hours at least. Thus am I, sir, beset on every band, with starvation staring me in the face, and, my God, I do not know what to do.” —St. Louis Republic. We are not more ingenious in searching out bad motives for good actions when per formed by others than good motives for bad actions when performed by ourselves.—Ar kansaw Traveler.