Among the men and women prominent in the public life of America there are but few whose names are mentioned as often as that of Emma Goldman. Yet the real Emma Goldman is almost quite unknown. The sensational press has surrounded her name with so much misrepresentation and slander, it would seem almost a miracle that, in spite of this web of calumny, the truth breaks through and a better appreciation of this much maligned idealist begins to manifest itself. There is but little consolation in the fact that almost every representative of a new idea has had to struggle and suffer under similar difficulties. Is it of any avail that a former president of a republic pays homage at Osawatomie to the memory of John Brown? Or that the president of another republic participates in the unveiling of a statue in honor of Pierre Proudhon, and holds up his life to the French nation as a model worthy of enthusiastic emulation? Of what avail is all this when, at the same time, the LIVING John Browns and Proudhons are being crucified? The honor and glory of a Mary Wollstonecraft or of a Louise Michel are not enhanced by the City Fathers of London or Paris naming a street after them—the living generation should be concerned with doing justice to the LIVING Mary Wollstonecrafts and Louise Michels. Posterity assigns to men like Wendel Phillips and Lloyd Garrison the proper niche of honor in the temple of human emancipation; but it is the duty of their contemporaries to bring them due recognition and appreciation while they live.Read more
Upon the death of Mr. Allston, it was determined, by those who had charge of his papers, to prepare his biography and correspondence, and publish them with his writings in prose and verse; a work which would have occupied two volumes of about the same size with the present. A delay has unfortunately occurred in the preparation of the biography and correspondence; and, as there have been frequent calls for a publication of his poems, and of the Lectures on Art he is known to have written, it has been thought best to give them to the public in the present form, without awaiting the completion of the whole design. It may be understood, however, that, when the biography and correspondence are published, it will be in a volume precisely corresponding with the present, so as to carry out the original design.
I will not anticipate the duty of the biographer by an extended notice of the life of Mr. Allston; but it may be interesting to some readers to know the outline of his life, and the different circumstances under which the several pieces in this volume were written.Read more
The chief advantage that would result from the establishment of Socialism is, undoubtedly, the fact that Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others which, in the present condition of things, presses so hardly upon almost everybody. In fact, scarcely anyone at all escapes.
Now and then, in the course of the century, a great man of science, like Darwin; a great poet, like Keats; a fine critical spirit, like M, Renan; a supreme artist, like Flaubert, has been able to isolate himself, to keep himself out of reach of the clamorous claims of others, to stand ‘under the shelter of the wall,’ as Plato puts it, and so to realise the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world. These, however, are exceptions. The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism—are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.Read more
No specific virtue or vice in a man implies the existence of any other specific virtue or vice in him, however closely the imagination may associate them.
Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it.
Self-denial is not a virtue: it is only the effect of prudence on rascality.
Obedience simulates subordination as fear of the police simulates honesty.
Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.
Vice is waste of life. Poverty, obedience, and celibacy are the canonical vices.Read more
It has been strongly impressed upon me for some years past to write an account of the wonderful experiences I have passed through in my investigation of the science of Spiritualism. In doing so I intend to confine myself to recording facts. I will describe the scenes I have witnessed with my own eyes, and repeat the words I have heard with my own ears, leaving the deduction to be drawn from them wholly to my readers. I have no ambition to start a theory nor to promulgate a doctrine; above all things I have no desire to provoke an argument. I have had more than enough of arguments, philosophical, scientific, religious, and purely aggressive, to last a lifetime; and were I called upon for my definition of the rest promised to the weary, I should reply—a place where every man may hold his own opinion, and no one is permitted to dispute it.
But though I am about to record a great many incidents that are so marvellous as to be almost incredible, I do not expect to be disbelieved, except by such as are capable of deception themselves. They—conscious of their own infirmity—invariably believe that other people must be telling lies. Byron wrote, “He is a fool who denies that which he cannot disprove;” and though Carlyle gives us the comforting assurance that the population of Great Britain consists “chiefly of fools,” I pin my faith upon receiving credence from the few who are not so.Read more
There is no doubt that hypnotism is a very old subject, though the name was not invented till 1850. In it was wrapped up the “mysteries of Isis” in Egypt thousands of years ago, and probably it was one of the weapons, if not the chief instrument of operation, of the magi mentioned in the Bible and of the “wise men” of Babylon and Egypt. “Laying on of hands” must have been a form of mesmerism, and Greek oracles of Delphi and other places seem to have been delivered by priests or priestesses who went into trances of self-induced hypnotism. It is suspected that the fakirs of India who make trees grow from dry twigs in a few minutes, or transform a rod into a serpent (as Aaron did in Bible history), operate by some form of hypnotism. The people of the East are much more subject to influences of this kind than Western peoples are, and there can be no question that the religious orgies of heathendom were merely a form of that hysteria which is so closely related to the modern phenomenon of hypnotism. Though various scientific men spoke of magnetism, and understood that there was a power of a peculiar kind which one man could exercise over another, it was not until Frederick Anton Mesmer (a doctor of Vienna) appeared in 1775 that the general public gave any special attention to the subject. In the year mentioned, Mesmer sent out a circular letter to various scientific societies or “Academies” as they are called in Europe, stating his belief that “animal magnetism” existed, and that through it one man could influence another. No attention was given his letter, except by the Academy of Berlin, which sent him an unfavorable reply.Read more
Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harbouring of grovelling thoughts.
Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.Read more
Spiritual meditation is the pathway to Divinity. It is the mystic ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, from error to Truth, from pain to peace. Every saint has climbed it; every sinner must sooner or later come to it, and every weary pilgrim that turns his back upon self and the world, and sets his face resolutely toward the Father’s Home, must plant his feet upon its golden rounds. Without its aid you cannot grow into the divine state, the divine likeness, the divine peace, and the fadeless glories and unpolluting joys of Truth will remain hidden from you.
Meditation is the intense dwelling, in thought, upon an idea or theme, with the object of thoroughly comprehending it, and whatsoever you constantly meditate upon you will not only come to understand, but will grow more and more into its likeness, for it will become incorporated into your very being, will become, in fact, your very self. If, therefore, you constantly dwell upon that which is selfish and debasing, you will ultimately become selfish and debased; if you ceaselessly think upon that which is pure and unselfish you will surely become pure and unselfish.
Tell me what that is upon which you most frequently and intensely think, that to which, in your silent hours, your soul most naturally turns, and I will tell you to what place of pain or peace you are traveling, and whether you are growing into the likeness of the divine or the bestial.Read more
The Devil’s Dictionary was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. In that year a large part of it was published in covers with the title The Cynic’s Word Book, a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve. To quote the publishers of the present work:
“This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him by the religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part of the work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when it came out in covers the country already had been flooded by its imitators with a score of ‘cynic’ books—The Cynic’s This, The Cynic’s That, and The Cynic’s t’Other. Most of these books were merely stupid, though some of them added the distinction of silliness. Among them, they brought the word ‘cynic’ into disfavor so deep that any book bearing it was discredited in advance of publication.”Read more
Patriotism, or love of country, is one of the tests of nobility of character. No great man ever lived that was not a patriot in the highest and truest sense. From the earliest times, the sentiment of patriotism has been aroused in the hearts of men by the narrative of heroic deeds inspired by love of country and love of liberty. This truth furnishes the key to the arrangement and method of the present work. The ten epochs treated are those that have been potential in shaping subsequent events; and when men have struck blows for human liberty against odds and regardless of personal consequences. The simple narrative carries its own morals, and the most profitable work for the teacher will be to merely supplement the narrative so that the picture presented shall be all the more vivid. Moral reflections are wearisome and superfluous.Read more